Tag Archives: sport rivalry

NFL18: Wild West as Chiefs Roll Dice on QB and Rival Raiders Gamble On a Gruden Return

20 Mar

The upstart AFL was never too tied to tradition to forgo taking a gamble or two.

That was a pretty typical tack for any entity trying to survive in those days when monopoly was tightening its Court-aided grip on their respective business interests (NFL, MLB, communications, food, energy, banks, etc.).

One of those dice-rolls was instant-replay, introduced by red & white-striped zebra Cal Lepore (1919-02). Like it or not (me no likey), I/R continues to have a big impact on the game of football and sport generally.

And unlike the AFL’s older brother, the National Football League, which, in the 1960s, was stuck in the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust‘ offensive mentality, the American Football League (1960-70) was wide-open, turning the pro game into a pass-first profession, thanks largely to men like Oilers quarterback George Blanda and the strategies of San Diego Chargers sideline genius, Sid Gillman.

Sadly, at the insistence of deal-maker and co-founder Lamar Hunt, the AFL in 1971 merged with the more established NFL and became the AFC (NFC). In 2018 it takes absolutely NO gambles, not even on the Super Bowl halftime show where Justin Timberlake promised he wouldn’t pull another nipple-stunt like he did in 2002 with co-creator-in-crass, Janet Jackson.

But stop the presses!

Two AFC West teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland-Las Vegas Raiders are harkening back to the days of yore by risking plenty in making dicey decisions that could significantly shape the 2018-19 NFL season.

KC head coach Andy Reid is entering his sixth season at Arrowhead and chose to part ways with his starting QB, the capable veteran but still priming, Alex Smith. He did this in the midst of a luke-warm, NFL signal-caller pool, while the Davis Trust decided Jon Gruden, he cooling his heels and collecting lots o’ loot at Disney (ESPN) for the last ten years, was worth another look-see (1998 – 02) in hopes he can shake off the rust and hasn‘t lost the zeal.

Rivalry: For many decades it stoked the fires in the sport furnace.

When Mays, McCovey & Marichal visited Chavez Ravine to face Drysdale, Wills, Koufax and rest of Walter Alston‘s West Coast Bums, all California buzzed.

When the Halas or Ditka-coached Bears arrived at City (Lambeau) Field in Green Bay, much of the NFL media turned out in anticipation of fireworks.

When Russell and Chamberlain, Magic and Bird battled under the NBA boards, the Earth stood still, then rocked with rhythm.

And when Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Boston Bruins headed to Canada to face Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer and rest of the Habs at the Montreal Forum, it wasn’t the War of 1812 (all Canucks) but you could cut the tenison with a knife.

Today, regionalism and the long-running, raucous rivalries that sprung forth from those adjacent locales has largely been neutralized, some weirdly cancelled altogether, at least in the college football setting.

On campus, the rivalry has been sacrificed for a miniature playoff system, positioned by mindlessly-drawn, mega-conference alignments and then, just as in the professional game, capped-off by celebrity (Heisman race), sold most seriously by a socially-driven junior media who can’t seem to get enough of the gossip and tiresome tidbits that accompany any life that runs in the mix.

But happily, rivalry still rocks the craddle of competition where men butt heads in the National Football League, though, you might not sense it where some of the League’s oldest grudge matches have become little more than concessions to tradition with one or both clubs are, to put it politely, in re-building mode. The Bears v. Packers (or Cardinals), Giants v. Redskins (or Cowboys), Bengals and Browns remain mired in mediocrity.

Yet some rivalries remain vibrant.

The SaintsFalcons, both recent Halas hoisters, still rules the Southland.

VikesPack are the dominent donnybrook in the Old Northwest Territory.

On the Pacific rim, Dick Sherman believes his transfer south to the 49ers will rekindle a rivalry with his former squad, the Seahawks. If Dick weren’t in full-fade, maybe, but more likely Pete, Russ & Bobby will keep doing what they’ve usually done to the Miners these past ten years: Beat the metal out of ‘em, even with Mr. Garoppolo now grappling the pigskin for the Bay backers.

And the best rivalry West of the Mississippi? That’s still the RaidersChiefs.

This will remain so even after the Silver & Black pull up stakes to head east and settle in Nevada. It may grow bigger, given the closer proximity, as long as LasVegas keeps the logo and color montage ‘as is.’ Add gold into the design, get gaudy, and then they are no longer the Raiders.

Both teams are AFL originals, Chiefs relocating from Dallas (Texans) to begin the 63 season and Raiders filling a slot that opened up for inagural 1960 when the Vikings backed-out on an offer to join the senior circuit NFL in 1961.

The rivalry’s intensity reached boiling point in late 1970 as both teams, the Chiefs reigning SB4 champions, battled for the AFCW crown. With KC ahead and QB Len Dawson on the turf after having ran for what seemed a game-clinching 1st-down, Raiders’ defender Ben Davidson speared Dawson with his helmet, triggering a melee where the Chiefs Otis Taylor was later penalized for his own ferocious response in defense of his quarterback. No permanent injuries but it all nullified KC’s gain, Oakland got the ball back, tied it up late, won in OT, clinched the West, the Chiefs were prevented from defending their Super Bowl win and missed the post-season. Ouch!

You can believe, stories like that are handed down by generation.

With Gruden back on point for the Raiders (OAK-TB / 95 – 81), owner Mark Davis hopes Jon can set young Derek Carr back in the saddle of success and work the same magic he did in coaching the Buccaneers to their first ever Super Bowl (SB37) when they trounced the Oakland club he coached just the year prior.

Carr has the pocket poise, taking-off a mere 23 times in 15 starts in 2017 (6-9). The O-line helps in that regard (20sk) but the Raiders need to provide the young QB with more offensive weapons to work his own magic that raised hopes in 2016, while Jon must retrieve those personal skills that served him so well with diva players like Keyshawn who, I must say, matured into a fine studio voice.

As to KC, a stable coaching state has not inspired off-season confidence.

In trading away veteran quarterback Smith (Redskins) and only toe-testing in the free-agency pool, Andy Reid & Co. have, at this posting, saddled themselves with a near-rookie QB in Patrick Mahomes (NFLD17) who’s started one (1) NFL contest (a win on zero TD, one INT) and who, at Texas Tech, showed a tendency to rabbit (averaging 10+ per). All meaning, it’s project time on the Plains.

Not being a pro-style signal-caller like Carr makes Mahomes’ promotion all the more perplexing when you consider the scheme Reid employs: WestCoast.

Evasive quarterback mobility is a plus but the WC-scheme sets the signal-caller to facilitate OTHER player movement in getting the pigskin to his ball-handling teammates in a forward thrust to pay-dirt. It won’t function at an optimal level if said QB is in flash-mode whenever that pressure floods the pocket.

The Patrick Mahomes issue aside, Kansas City does have some formidable offensive threats in dual-duty Kareem Hunt (1327y rush / 455y catch), veteran tight-end Travis Kelce (1038y – 8td), 3d year receiver Tyreek Hill (1183y) and new addition (BUF) in Sam Watkins who, if healthy, fills nice as a secondary choice in the slot, an essential for every title team.

Powerful as those players be, they must have a field general who can matriculate with confidence and consistency to maximize their capabilities in order to make a major run. Without one, team talent is only half-realized and a Wild playoff spot may be the best scenario for the Chiefs whose Super drought (SB4) is longer than the team they vanquished (MIN-78) in KC’s lone NFL championship.

Photo Credit: NFL-symbol, 2011, wikiproject; KCTV5-Dani-Welniak, Reid-Andy, wc.cca, 12.31.17, J.Beall; Packers-Vikings, 11.14.11, M.Morbeck, wc, Loadholt-Matthews; dice, N.Morberg, wc, 2.22.09; J.Gruden, wc, 2003, USNavy, John-Woods; J.Otto, Topps-Chewing-Gum, 1970
Posted: 3.20.18 @ 6:05pE: Copyright © 2018


NFL15 Cherry Picks W11: Bad Blood

19 Nov

Purple Cheese

“♫ Bad…BAD…blood…BLOOD, is takin’ you for a ride,
The only good thing about bad blood is lettin’ it slide (N.Sedaka ‘75)) ♫.”

Schedulers at NFL Central tabbed Week 17, the League’s closing act-in-regular, as rivalry weekend. Pick a team and there’s good chance you’ll guess their final foe:

The Chiefs? That’d be the silver & black, the Oakland Raiders.

The Falcons? It’s the Saints, of course, and so on & so forth.

....cheese.purple.GNOME.app.wc.Siegal.Nilsson.Vybiral.Perusin.thmWeek 11 will offer-up an appetizer plate of what may be the most heated rivalries in the game when the reeling Packers (0-3) bus-ride West (Wouldn’t that be a hoot?) to the land of lakes to face the Vikings, old AFL opponents Buffalo and New England square-off in Foxborough and the new brand of pigskin w/ premium on mobility and serious D will be on display in Seattle when 49ers come calling on regional rival Seahawks.

It’s rivalry that fires the sport furnace.

Celebrity is big (check out # of followers for Kim Kardashian on soc-media (had to Google her spelling)), but like “glory,” celebrità too is “fleeting (Patton ‘70).”

Rivalry has substance. It lasts. It’s what college cufflinks refuse to concede in their dinero-driven game of Conference musical chairs.

Players and coaches will come & go but teams and their familiar foes will, by & large, always be there with it’s raucous rivalry evident in times of feast or famine.

Family feuds, while constituting bread & butter of sport, do have their downside.

Besides the chucklehead-fan contingent (3.5%) present at every meet, piling-on, salting the wound of a rival who’s feeling the heat is another bad by-product.

......Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmbYou won’t hear Bills’ Rex Ryan mouthing about Deflategate. Rex tends to play the clown but in truth is a savvy customer who knows full well the high caliber of competition he’s been facing in New England during his NFL tenure.

The same sensible tack can’t be said for Jim Kelly (“He (Brady) didn’t need to do it (Tell us something we didn’t know, Jimbo (See; 2H v Indy & SB49 (SEA))”) and Don ‘Get Me Some Ginkgo Biloba Fast’ Shula (“we didn’t deflate”). Ugh.

Other grudge matches thrive for a time but seem predicated more on cult of personality than franchise feud, i.e., NE v NYJ (Ryan to BUF) , Seahawks v 49ers (JH to UM) and KC / SD v Denver (aged Peyton).

Packers (6-3) @ Vikings (7-2)

Gander at that final slate and you’ll notice something…atypical (?): It’s the Vikes vs the Pack, not da’ Bears, 2d oldest rivalry in NFL annals (Cards v. Decatur Staleys (Bears) 1919). Purple People Eaters displaced Monsters of Midway as Green Bay’s biggest rival sometime in early 2000s. Packers would never stoop to concede such a state, being NFL blue-bloods they are, but ‘it is what it is,’ as the guys say in 2015.

....Zimmer.9.20.14.wc.MN-NG.thmHow so? Not because the Vikes have been hauling in NFL title trophies (1 (‘69)). Truth be told, Minnesota’s been nearly as bad as once great Lions (30s-50s) since their last Super appearance (SB11 (’77): OAK 32-14). But in head-to-heads, Norsemen were even-Steven with Green Bay, until Rodgers took the reins.

This rivalry won’t look too imposing to fans outside Upper Midwest. Pack’s been a formidable force since Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White worked a renaissance in the Fox Valley while Minnesota seems the ultimate snake-bitten club.

.....McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmDon’t know if it’s common cultural threads running through these two Northwest Territory terrains, making ‘similars distract’ or that one’s championship pedigree (GB) has, traditionally, had little effect in the usually competitive nature of their frothy head-to-heads, but the rivalry rocks with best of ‘em.

And it’ll get rockier as the pro football future in the Land of 10,000 Lakes looks brightest than it’s been since Brett Favre landed on the Minneapolis tarmac back in 2009.

Don’t be deceived by today’s cordiality between opposing players. You’d think they and families were all booked on Carnival Cruise lines. Rival fans share no such cute camaraderie. Despise is the word. The mutual dislike between GB and MIN faithful runs so deep it’s safe to say a loss by the hated rival can sing sweeter in their frostbitten ears than hearing news of their own team’s win. Major malice.

Bills (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0)

Given the lop-sided nature of this rivalry in recent years (pro-Pats), younger NFL fans likely see it as the natural order of things.

.....Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbBut it was Buffalo, starting back in days of the AFL (1959-69), who were typical top-dogs in the grudge match, having won back-to-back championships (1964-65) with names like Saban, Kemp & Gilchrist, and then the Super Levy years (1987-97 (4 SBs)). Pats had some runs, an AFL title game (’66) and Fairbanks (70s) and Berry (80s) decades, but it never ended well (SB20 (Bears)).

With Lions shocking win at Lambeau, heck, the whole mind-blowing 2015 NFL season, it would be foolish to make brash prediction about the defending champs stomping the upstart Bills. And then Tom Brady is without his favorite target in Mr. Edelman (foot break). Suffice to write, Patriots should be favored.

49ers (3-6) @ Seahawks (4-5)

The western version of bad blood.

Would’ve preferred schedulers had pitted the granddaddy of grudge-matches West of the Mississippi, the Chiefs v. Raiders. Both have been showing some life of late. This Pacific Northwest duel, however, should fill the bill just fine.

.....Carroll.wc.12.29.13.M.Morris.thmThough under .500, Seattle is still a contender for finagling a playoff spot in a woeful NFC. It’s been a strange ride for the team that looked a template for title-hood, coming off a tough loss in SB49 where they were ahead, only to fall short in final moments by way of a play-call knuckleheads just won’t let go.

Defense is where it begins with ‘Hawks and their leader Kam Chancellor rolled the dice on a holdout that set things off on the wrong foot. Four Ls in the first six (including first two) and they’re now just starting to get it (mojo) back.

.....SF.Sourdough.Sam.2.4.09.M.Hayden.HI.thumbCarroll’s a coaching genius in division that’s been loaded. There’s Pete, Jeff Fisher, Bruce Arians and 1st-year man Jim Tomsula who replaced Jim Harbaugh (UM) and served as 49ers’ DL coach under three regimes (‘07), helping shape those tremendous teams earlier in this decade when San Fran made two NFCCs.

The season started nicely for the burgundy & gold, giving Vikes a thrashing in W1 (20-3) but went downhill from there, losing 5 straight (7 of 9) and seeing former star-in-the-making Colin Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.

On the upside, superstar linebacker NaVorro Bowman has made what looks to be a complete recovery from torn ACL suffered in 2014 NFCC and the guys pieced together a nifty win versus then 6-2 Falcons (17-16) heading into the bye.

Down in Denver But Not Out

While youth-minded media push hard to youth-enize the storied career of veteran Peyton Manning, hoping his latest injury-exit is the first step into retirement, 4y man Brock Osweiler has been handed the ball and will stand under center when Denver (7-2) visit’s Soldier Field to take on a rejuvenated Bears squad (4-5) on Sunday.

.....Osweiler.wc.9.29.13.J.Beall.thmWhat does Brock bring to the table? How ‘bout picks, but with “more feeling (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (’66))?” That would be the smart-aleck take.

The smarter take: The 6’7″ Idahoan and former Sun Devil (pre-“fork”) will bring a Manning-esque poise-in-pocket to the field of play, likely put more horsepower behind his throws, if not as well timed (yet), and show a youthful vigor not seen since days of Tim Tebow. Whether “mania” is part of it, that’s doubtful, with the schedule and paid-like-a-Prince Peyton healing-in-the-wings.


Cherry Picks Week 11: Rise of the 2-7s

OAK (4-5) @ Lions (2-7): 11.22 CBS 1:00: DET wins
Colts (4-5) @ Atlanta (6-3): CBS 1:00: Falcons win
STL (4-5) @ Ravens (2-7): Fox 1:00: Baltimore wins
Tampa (4-5) @ Philly (4-5): Fox 1:00: Eagles win
Broncos (7-2) @ Chicago (4-5): CBS 1:00: Bears win
Jets (5-4) @ Houston (4-5): CBS 1:00: Texans win
Redskins (4-5) @ Carolina (9-0): Fox 1:00: Cats win
Cowboys (2-7) @ Miami (4-5): Fox 1:00: Dallas wins
Kansas City (4-5) @ SD (2-7): CBS 4:05: Bolts win
Pack (6-3) @ MIN (7-2): Fox 4:25 (GTW): GB wins
49ers (3-6) @ Seattle (4-5): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Cincy (8-1) @ AZ (7-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Cards win
Buffalo (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0): ESPN 8:30: NE wins

Record: 45 – 53

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Pack-Vikes, 11.14.11, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, Loadholt-Matthews; cheese-purple, GNOME.app, Siegal-Nilsson-Vybiral-Perusin, 12.20.09; R.Ryan, 12.23.11, M.O’Leary, wc; M.Zimmer, 9.20.14, MN-NG, wc; M.McCarthy, wc, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; B.Belichick, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison; P.Carroll, wc, 12.29.14, M.Morris; Sourdough-Sam, 2.4.09, HI, M.Hayden; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.19.15 @ 2:53pm; Copyright © 2015

Coaching Lite®: What’s Killing College Football

31 Aug

August is packing it’s bags and September’s ready to move in. That means college football’s 2015-16 season is about set to kickoff.

For the big boys (FBS), 127 schools by Wikipedia count, the start date is the 3rd of this month that nationally recognizes honey, Hispanic heritage, California wine, potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, labor, cancer awareness and religious observances in Hindu (Kumbh Mela), Judaism (Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur), Islam (Hajj) and Chuseok in Korea.


But college football is like a jock on steroids: looks fit as a fiddle on the outside, rippling & raucous, makes all the plays, pulls in the cash, cuties & camera, but inside, the joints are inflamed, electron transfer chains are askew and the flora – motility all catawampus.

The campus hoedown, where American football is rooted, will draw in 30 million TV viewers each weekend through December (50M CFP) and likely somewhere in the billions ($) for schools and ancillaries at the networks, merchandisers, snack & beverage, travel industry, etcetera. It’s egg-in-the-beer. Cha-ching!

But it’s fast losing the feel & flavor of sport, spiritually and in substance.

Sure, part of the student body get jacked-up for Saturday’s or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday‘s game, depending on Disney’s (ESPN) fat schedule, and gamblers (+ fantasy) have their eyeballs peeled and pesos parlayed, but it’s like that routine romp in the hay, fine fun but not much heart & soul. An expectancy.

And it’s not the pretense of amateurism that’s killing the mood, either.

The student-athlete charade has been sold to the public ever since the rah-rah-sis-boom-ba began to bring in the big bucks (1910s). The athletes are the actors in a pretty predictable play directed by coaches, co-eds, cut-men and cufflinks.

Coaching Lite® or Do Your Thing!

Watch the experts on the plasma and it won’t take long to spot the problem.

Example: Back in July (7.24), Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema was making the rounds and appeared on Disney (ESPNU, bumped my Classic into oblivion) and gave his 2-cents on this query: ‘What’s the mark of a great college QB?’

His reply: “What he does when the play breaks down.” And there it is in a nutshell, what’s killing college ball: Coach don’t coach anymore.

His quarterback is a free-lancer with license to flash, anywhere, anytime. I wouldn’t say the “break down” is by design, not necessarily, but it’s viewed in a whole different, more accommodating light than it was the 60 years prior.


Brett didn’t say, ‘a QB who can execute the playbook.’ Neither did he say ‘a strong, accurate arm w/mobility’ nor ‘a quick-thinker who can lead, audiblize and wherewithal to hang tough in the pocket. No he did not.

He didn’t specify “does,” either, but he didn’t need to.

Today’s college QB rabbits at the drop of a hat, then runs again and by season’s end Johnny Run-Around’s got 1000 yards on the turf. And it pays dividends.

Because amateur defense is not equipped to handle today’s typically big, fast, athletic flash-QB, he will run-at-will. And when he does the wins & titles come in bushels, not to mention a big salary for coach who finds his award-winning lepus.

Young, Newton, Tebow, Manziel, Mariota, Jones are all part of a new generation of college signal-caller, what they used to call a single-wing tail-back in the 40s.

Names like Staubach and Douglas (KS) tore it up in the 60s but were anomalies when run-backs still ruled the roost (See; Brown, Sayers, Cappelletti & Griffin).

But if you like a diversity, variety, a little surprise, some dimension, like a good “Vegan (“functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions (“Hadden (Contact ‘97)”),” run-QB and his one-dimensional game can leave you wanting.

The synergy – symbiosis that normally flows from sharing-of-pigskin with your typical ball-carriers (RB / WR) will dissipate, while the element of surprise in play-call becomes an after-thought. And it all cuts into entertainment value.

Sure, handoffs still happen, passes get thrown, but appears only to give Sir-Runs-Alot time to catch his breath. And when he runs off campus for greener pastures (NFL), he’ll leave one big void in the program and coach scrambling for answers.

Continuity, sustainability of success (Alabama) are hard to come by. Ask the folks at Texas, Auburn and UF who saw programs nose dive, though, Urban “Renewal” Meyer seems to have a knack for finding the next great single-wing ball-hog.

I’m not alone in my disdain for college football‘s direction.

Jon Gruden spoke on College Football Live earlier this month (8.6) and a young analyst (?) made this comment: “The (high) level of coaching is off the charts!” Jon seemed not too impressed. His reply: He sees alot of “the same plays,” mostly run plays, even if initiated or disguised as pass.

Lost in Translation or Johnny Can’t Read

The run-QB conundrum is not confined to college. His draft dominance and then failure to easily translate to the pro game is a mushrooming problem, leaving the NFL with a dearth of pocket-passer prospects and excess of pro-style trainees.

Their success can vary as the rabbit-habit has been a vice of every highly-touted but unfulfilled run-QB that’s burst onto the NFL scene, including Camster-the-Hamster, RG3, Tebow, Vick, Young, Kaep Krusader and Johnny Renaissance.

For a time the novelty gave advantage in the pros.


Newton ran for a record 14td his rookie year (‘11), Vick made All-Pro (x4) and handed the Pack their first ever home playoff loss (‘02) while Colin “(ran) to daylight” versus that same GB franchise in two legendary PS performances (SB47-L).

But while they work mass muscle to Schwarzenegger state, the mind muscles, less applied in youth, respond slow in the NFL.

The so-called read-option is biggest misnomer going, after reality TV. Coach who relies heavily may be giving fleet-footed defenders carte blanche to wreak havoc with their QB, and tag themselves ‘gimmick-guy’ in short-order (Kelly (PHI)?).

You’re an old dog by the time you go pro, habit-wise, and new tricks, like a new language, don’t come easy, not for QBs having to learn to eat the fear and find pocket poise. And then there’s the ego that, for some (TT), won‘t change (TE).

The pro game, no matter what sabrheads claim, is no engineering schematic or 1+1 = 2. You can fool ’em once but rarely twice (See; GB). In time, NFL catches on. Short-lived successes aside, SWTB went out with Joe Kapp (See; KC SB4)).

GMs are finding that while run-QB garners wins and sells lots o’ jerseys, it works as a double-edged sword for those who seek championships. Kaep, with a top D and run-attack (Gore), did lead 49ers to threshold of greatness in SB47 but his (and Jim’s) foible was exposed in game’s critical end: red zone funk.

And those would might tag Seattle’s Russ Wilson a run-QB are mistaken. Like Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham, Roger Staubach and Steve Young, Russell is not flash per se. He’s a mobile manager with a great guiding guru in Carroll.

Flash QB ain’t going way of the dodo bird or 2-way player. Amateur coach banks on him which means NFL pipeline will be jammed with the lot of ‘em for years to come. But without the right accoutrements he’ll turn flash-in-the-pro-pan.

One Big (NCAA) Family

If on-call coach and ball-hog QB aren’t deflating enough, Boards of Trustees and college presidents who preside high above the tumultuous merriment and raucous rabble are smooshing out what little spirit is left in the pigskin.


Playoffs, championships, they’re fun, if you can get ‘em. But being rare commodities it is rivalry & regionalism that stoke fan’s fires, amateur and pro ranks alike.

Knowing this, or not, MBA’s in Suit & Skirt bust-up the conferences, kill-off generational rivalries and move memberships around like it were a game of musical chairs (b-ball, too). And alumni sit back and take it like it’s no big deal. Then it’s no big deal.

Soon the college landscape will show just three conferences: The Pac-Something, the Big-Something and Southeastern Something. It‘s “Something” those mop-topped lads from Liverpool, who appreciated a good football match themselves (rugby), would‘ve advised, “♫ get back to where you once belonged ♫.”

Removable Decals

To the same school identification topic, uniforms & logos have taken on the same feel of ephemeralia as conference alignments which seem to change yearly.


Big names like Adidas, Champion, Nike, Majestic, Reebok & Under Armour cuddle-up w/college Cufflinks & Heels and are fueling the fleet: 1) in the drive to youthenize the consumer market in the misguided belief kids have attention spans of a gerbil; and 2) agency-for-change to validate their own position in a volatile job market.

Like patience, appreciation is a judgment capability acquired in time. Youth can find it if given half a chance. Today it’s more like fat chance of it ever happening.

Though some new designs shine, the touchstones that had been familiar are now as changing & uninspired as each new season of Law & Order and The Simpsons.

Change has trumped continuity and it’s cousin, history, fares no better.

Ignored and under-fed, when history is finally called to the table it’s often only to be dressed-down and find fault in hope of removing traits / blemishes the finger-pointer in high-hat finds unappealing to its own limited historical sensibilities.

Change (refreshment) can be good, just as history can use a dusting-off to clarify. But not primarily to delete that which we dislike, to feed ADD or merely for the sake of change ($$). Then it’s not history, it’s profiteering & propaganda.

CFP: There’s a Heartbeat

Even though strategy, diversity & rivalry have all been taking it on the chin in today’s college football slugfest, there have been some bright spots.

Social progress has been achieved by mandates in desegregation of scholarship and employment (coach / admin) since the 1960s, while the long awaited college playoff format (CFP) finally arrived in January 2015 when The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks for the inaugural championship, 42-20,

My own preference was the old duel polling system (AP & UPI-Coaches).


The method pre-BCS, after bowling had concluded, as each group awarded their #1 ranking that, on occasion, differed from the other‘s, giving us two national champs. Where else could that’ve happened? The only comparable might be the winners of the respective NL – AL batting titles. If you didn’t have a dog in the hunt or were fan of a #1, you were content and that meant about 99% of college football fandom.

But schools with top marks who hadn’t climbed the polls enough and then missed out on a favored bowl slot were sometimes left out of the balloting altogether. Alabama (11-0) & MSU (9-0-1) in ‘66, ASU in 1975 (12-0), Auburn in ’93 (11-0) and Penn State twice (11-0 (’69) & 12-0 (’94)) were memorable overlookees.

The appearance of bias, prejudice or being uninformed in an age of exactitude (replay) made the duel polling highly vulnerable. But in ditching it for BCS and playoff we gave up the beauty of randomness and occasional spreading of the championship wealth to nearly all’s contentment. And who needs that, eh?

As close to fairness as any championship system would seem to be, the CFP is, nevertheless burdened with the same problem as prior polling in that seemingly deserving schools will still be left out of the playoff-by-poll mix, as we discovered in it’s inaugural season (’14) when toppers Baylor and TCU failed to get an invite.

Is a playoff the surest way to find the best team anyway? The professionals have shown us the answer is clearly, ‘no, it is not.’ As spunky a bunch as were the 2012 and 2008 Giants, no NFL fan in their right mind would attest either team the best team of their respective seasons. Opportune (hot), yes, but best, “maybe no.”

Playoffs, like bowls, are, to the fat-cats, mostly about money. Fans seem fine.

But expansion from a 4-team format to no-brainer 8 will fix one foible in a jiffy. You might have 6 top dogs but 8 makes it work and 10 will never be an issue.


Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: Meyer, wc, 11.13, Glanzman; Tx-Tech, wc, 07, Meircle; Bielema-Woodcock, wc, 2011, USMC, Firstbrook; Newton, 9.14, wc, Allison; Regions-NFL, Lokal.Proil.Astrokey44, wc; Nike, 1.12, JorgeCR7, wc; U-TX, 05, wc, Johntex; brass.thumbtack, Dalton, wc.
Posted: 8.31.15 @ 3:48pm EST; Copyright ® 2015