Friday, October 7, 2016

Here We Go Again: FSU Week

On Tuesday night I watched the Orioles lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card game. After it was all over, and my Dad and I got our 15 minutes of bellyaching out of the way --- I mean SERIOUSLY, how do you not put Britton in the god damned game?!?!?!---we were able to take a step back and appreciate the season.

For 15 years, the Orioles were not only bad, but historically bad. A once-proud franchise had been swept into the dustbin of history, replaced by a team that year in and year out disappointed us. There were high priced free agents that underperformed (looking at you, Javy Lopez), horrible managers (Lee freakin’ Mazzili), an ownership group that didn’t seem to care, failed prospects (Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn)….you name it, the Orioles had it.

And then one day, The Orioles got smart and leapt at the opportunity to hire Buck Showalter, an (almost) universally recognized brilliant baseball mind who had been run out of his last job because he consistently got his team to the doorstep but never could quite seem to kick the door down.

Fast forward and the Orioles, despite one of the consistently worst rotations in baseball and a farm system incapable of developing replacements, have made the playoffs 3 times in 5 years by turning back the clock and returning to the Halycon Days of the Oriole Way. The strategy is simple…get a bunch of big dudes in the middle of the lineup and hit 3-run homers. You don’t win baseball games by VORP-ing the other team to death, you win by scoring more runs.

So, despite being picked to finish last in the AL East every pre-season, the Orioles keep winning.
 And, while that brings me great joy, it stresses me out. Being the fan of a good team turns every game…especially the important ones…into 3 hours of torture. I don’t feel happy when the Orioles win a big game as much as I feel relieved that they didn’t lose it. It’s ridiculous. I EXPECT to win, but I spend the entire game pounding a ball into my baseball glove on the couch. I spent 15 years hoping this day would come, wandering the Marty Cordova desert waiting to find the Promised Land…and now that it’s here, I'm crippled by anxiety.

Everyone sees where I’m going with this, right?

I expect Miami to win by 2 scores. FSU is a mess, Matthew did them no favors in terms of travel, and the Hurricanes are due. On the other hand, the ‘Canes look great.

Sure, the ‘Canes have some clear weaknesses that have started to creep up over the last couple of weeks; for instance, the tackling hasn’t been consistent and the linebackers have gotten out-flanked more than you’d like to see going into a game against Dalvin Cook.

Additionally, Brad Kaaya still hasn’t really caught up to his hype in terms of on-field production, and the offensive line has at times been very shaky.

And let’s be real, Miami’s schedule hasn’t exactly been Murderer’s Row, no matter how we want to spin it.

However, those weaknesses pale in comparison to the following fact: Miami should have won this thing two years in a row, despite a talent gap and the country’s worst coach calling the shots.

If they were able to play FSU straight up despite a young QB and terrible coaching, what happens with a veteran, hungry, first-round prospect at QB in the huddle and one of the 12 best coaches in the country on the sideline?

Miami is winning by going old-school. Keep it simple. Punch them in the mouth on defense, and get the ball to your speed on offense. This approach is being orchestrated by a coach run out of town at his last stop, despite having a brilliant football mind, because he never could get them past the doorstep.

On the FSU side, everyone is starting to remember that Jimbo Fisher is a 2-3 loss/year coach unless he has a generational talent at QB that he is allowed to shield from a rape charge.

And oh by the way, FSU’s defense is ranked 112th in the country, so if nothing else Miami should move the ball on offense. That's a pretty amazing stat.

I work in research, so the stats matter to me. 

Objectively, the ‘Canes are the better team.

And if the stats and recent history don’t convince you---if you still think that “FSU’s 5 stars backing up 5 stars” are just too overwhelming, that Jimbo is just too lucky--- read the following words from my favorite non-blood related  Orioles fan, David Simon.

Anything that can happen, will. And in an infinite universe, it will happen repeatedly. The full implications of the second law of thermodynamics apply to the American League East (read: ACC) just as soundly as to a million monkeys at a million typewriters.
Eventually, and regardless of all prior history, the Baltimore Orioles (read: Miami Hurricanes) are going to type the complete works of Shakespeare. 
How do we know this?
Well, for one thing, there is no God. There is only science. If there were a God, he would be—as evidenced by all of modern baseball (read:football) history—a devoted fan of the Yankees (read: Seminoles). And God, at least the Judeo-Christian version of Him rather than the Aristotelian unmoved mover, is said to be good. Ergo, there is no God.
And thus you all see how I have talked myself into this, yet again. Stats, history, chaos...take your pick, they all lead to the same conclusion. 

And yet, the anxiety clings like a cloak. Again, I leave you with Simon.

In 2003, at the University of Plymouth in England, researchers experimented with a half-dozen Sulawesi crested -macaques in a Devon zoo, and discovered there were more unexpected variables than mere simian typing. After a month the monkeys had produced only five pages of work, heavily invoking the letter s throughout. And the lead male eventually took to smashing his machine with a rock, after which the other monkeys urinated and defecated on the keyboard.
So if Chris Davis could start hitting the baseball, that’d be nice too.
Come on Miami. If you can't win now, when the hell can you?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

At Least There's Shade

*Blows some dust off the keyboard*

It’s been a while.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m still doing here.

Time for another season of college football, and here I am, writing a blog about a bunch of teenagers I have never met playing for a university that probably forgets I exist (still waiting on a shout out in that alumni magazine, WHAT'S A GUY GOTTA DO?!?!?!), all for about 11.7 loyal readers of whatever interminable dross I can come up with.

Look, let’s call it straight: it is WEIRD that I am still writing about this crap. Are my takes in any way unique? Are my angles interesting anymore? Probably not.

This is an addiction to a ridiculous sport that, in a vacuum, stands for everything I hate.

Management shutting out labor from billions in profits, and actively vilifying any poor soul who seeks to improve their lot.

A violent sport played by poor kids legally bound to one boss, who almost always happens to be old and white and has the freedom to move as he sees fit without repercussion.

A governing body that turns the other cheek when it comes to abuse of women (sexual, physical or mental), off-the-field violence toward fellow men and animals, or possession of battlefield weapons technology…and yet sees a kid receiving a free washing machine as an affront to civilization.

Call me soft. Maybe I possess a weak constitution. Maybe I'm just a smug West Coast Lib, as *ahem* a family member who shall remain unnamed alluded to in a Facebook post earlier this summer.  

Whatever it is, as much as every single piece of college football offends me on an intellectual level…

I love this dang sport.

And I'm not part of the solution, so I'm part of the problem. This will take years of therapy to work out at some point down the road, and I'm at peace with that. So in the meantime, I am just going to ignore the issue and embrace the symptoms!

So, what’s new this season?


A new coaching staff! A good quarterback! New uniforms that don’t suck (eventually)!

This year we have a stadium that everyone is glowing about because of renovations!

 Guess what, people. It’s still a miserable suckhole of a stadium experience. It is a shopping mall with a football field inside of it, an excuse for the giant chinstrap beard that is Fort Lauderdale to make their way out to the offsite LIV location for a few hours of getting so drunk that they vomit in the backseat of their XTerra as they leave.

Oh, and they renamed it after Hard Rock Casino. A shady casino / restaurant chain that peaked in the 90s. Couldn’t be more South Florida if it tried. Be careful or this stadium will try and defraud you out of your Medicare check.

The best part about our program (anyone under ten might not believe this, but we used to be good) used to be that the West End Zone was filled with people from the inner city. Oftentimes, even wearing Miami gear, it was scary walking around in that section for a moron college kid like me. Imagine being an opponent!

The team represented the city, not just the enrollment of 10,000 Northeasterners and private school South Floridians.

In return, the city showed up to support the team and made it the most unique home field advantage in all of sports.

So what did we do? We committed the football equivalent of White Flight, taking our team up to the suburbs and completely stripping away anything that made it cool, unique or edgy.

So yes, you still have to drive an hour away from Miami to enjoy a game at a crappy stadium that only ever fills to half-capacity…but at least now there is some shade.

But the defense is going to be fast and aggressive and play with “unrelenting effort and unwavering violence!”

First of all, that quote came from our new defensive coordinator, the son of a former crooked mayor of Miami who got fired from Texas for, essentially, installing so many crazy blitzes that his players had no clue what was going on.

Also, our best defensive end and our best linebacker both got kicked off the team a week before the season starts.

For what, you ask? Free rental cars from a business allegedly attached to a sports agency.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anyway, we might still be mediocre, but at least we are going to be fun to watch again!

We have a coaching staff that plans to lean in this whole concept of “team speed”. Go figure.

The quarterback is awesome, and this year we should get to see him in position to win some big games for us, rather than the typical Al Golden “let’s try to run 8 minutes off the clock and then punt” system of football. Pillars, you know?

The defense will probably suck against good teams but also might put some opposing quarterbacks in the hospital---this is the school of thought that says it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees. And die on our feet we shall!

Long story short, the coaches have said ALL of the right things in the offseason as far as I’m concerned. Fast break offense, aggressive defense, freshmen playing early…all of it.

It’s gotten to the point that I think these coaches are reading my message board and then spouting off whatever they think will placate the masses. I’m smarter than most fans, I know exactly what is going on, and I am all in on it. Screw it.

This sport is simple. I want to watch my team win a trophy and then get to be smug to everyone I work with / talk to for the next decade.

Barring that, I just want to have fun watching the team. If we can’t be dominant, let’s just create chaos on a regular basis. Chaos is fun, if imperfect. Chaos is what this team seems to be built for.


This is usually the part of my first post of the season where I say if everything breaks right, “why not us?”

I’ve been burned too many times. I don’t have a prediction for the season. I just want to beat FSU.

We could be really good, or we could really suck. Both are VERY MUCH in play.

I’ll be watching, and I’ll be emotionally invested, and I will probably write about it in this space.

Because even if I wanted to stop, I don’t know if I could.

So let's get through this together. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

A New Sheriff in Town

I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of impassioned response to Miami hiring Mark Richt.

About how he is going to bring the swag back.  About how this is the grand slam, savage hire we have been waiting for.

The truth is, I can’t get there. I remember being super excited for Randy Shannon and again for Al Golden after their introductory press conferences, and we all know how that turned out.

So I am a bit more reserved this time around.

But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not positive about it. In fact, this is the most positive I have been in a long time.

This is a great hire. In fact, it is hard to find a more solid collegiate football coach than Richt. I would even call it a home run.

Georgia got sick of winning 10 games a year for 15 years or, frustrated with a seeming inability to win their weakened division for the past 3 seasons…or maybe even just bored with being married to the same guy for so long. They made a move to replace Richt with a young hotshot, and Miami benefited. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.

Truth be told, when it was first reported that Richt was a candidate, I was not happy.

First of all, I can’t stand the Bible thumper crap.

Second of all, I saw a man who was burnt out and seeing diminishing returns. The fans at Georgia had a point…how, in the increasingly crappy SEC East, had the guy failed to make the SEC Championship game for 3 straight years?

And here’s a stone cold fact: over the past 7 seasons, Richt’s record against top ranked teams wasn’t just bad, it was borderline Al Golden-esque.

So, being the researcher I am, I did some digging.

I remember the 2007 Dawgs as the best team in the country. They didn’t win the SEC. They didn’t go undefeated. But they were the best team in a wacky season that featured long runs for Boston College, Kansas and USF in the Top 5, and LSU winning the national championship with 2 losses.

After that season, Richt seemed to take a step back. He stopped calling plays, delegating the duties to Mike Bobo. He still had good teams, and he developed Aaron Murray into one of the most productive SEC quarterbacks of all time.

In fact, Murray lead the Dawgs within one tipped pass of the SEC Title in 2012, which would have locked up a date with Notre Dame for the national title, a game every person on this planet knows Georgia would have won in a rout.

Another thing that stood out: almost every single year, Georgia lost a major contributor to injury. Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Keith Marshall…pretty much every year there was someone. The year where everyone stayed healthy? The aforementioned 2012.

So what does all this mean?

Well, the injuries thing means that Richt seemed to get extraordinarily unlucky at Georgia.

Now, I know there are some who would say that a real man makes his own luck, or some corny crap like that from a frat dude’s Facebook profile.

But we all know that is bullshit. Every team in college football has 2 or 3 key players that have a disproportionate effect on the season.

For instance, a QB like Brad Kaaya. Or a running back like Duke Johnson. Or a linebacker like Sean Spence of Denzel Perryman. We have seen firsthand what happens when guys like that get hurt. Now imagine that happening every single year. You get the point.

So, we come back to my initial concern: the motivation.

Why would a guy who took a step back into a CEO role be the guy we are looking for?

This is Miami. I want an angry, testy, chip-on-their shoulder up and comer, godammit. More Jimmy Johnson, less Larry Coker.

Well, here’s where Richt won me over. In his farewell press conference at Georgia, he specifically talked about wanting to be hands on and calling plays again.

This man wants back in the trenches. He wants to get his hands dirty. He has regret. He has fire in his belly…otherwise known as a chip on his shoulder.

People forget some things about Mark Richt.

For instance, he coached 2 players to Heisman Trophies at FSU: Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke. Hard to find two guys more different in their skillset, but he made both of them in to the best player in the country.

Players, not plays. That's what Al Golden promised, and it's what Mark Richt delivers.

Back before he lost whatever power struggle he lost at Georgia and abdicated his play calling role, he used to run a fast paced, smash-mouth , Pro-Style offense.

Mark Richt’s best Georgia teams played attacking, fast, physical defense. They took safeties and made them linebackers (Thomas Davis and Alex Ogletree come to mind…both still play on Sundays).

They took linebackers and made them pass rushers.

Sound familiar? That’s what all the best ‘Canes teams were built on.

If that’s the guy we just hired, and he brings in the type of staff he’s shown himself capable of, and his message continues to resonate with recruits, and he hits the ground running with a Top 5 quarterback and a ton of talent returning off an 8/9 win team, then maybe he is the grand slam we were looking for after all.

Maybe he’s Butch Davis, but better on the X’s and O’s side. I guess we won’t know until we see the product on the field, and that is a long off-season away.

But I do know this. Positive Dan is back, after a 2 year hiatus.

I won’t miss the constant grumbling during games, or being afraid of blowing a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter against Virginia or Pitt.

I won’t miss National Signing Day being a massive disappointment every year.

I won’t miss getting embarrassed 5 times a season.

I CERTAINLY won’t miss watching us get beat the same way week after week after week.

Our new floor is Dabo Swinney’s Clemson or Mack Brown’s Texas…a team loaded with pros that wins between 9-11 games per year and, every few years with the right QB, makes a run at a title.
That’s a hell of a floor, and the ceiling is much higher.

Mark Richt, with something left to prove?

Sign me up.

Monday, October 26, 2015

End of A....Golden....Era

“The football program, it’s time we put it all together. We’ve had great success in the community, great success academically the past couple of years…there’s a tremendous tradition here. A tradition of winning championships. There is no other standard.”

Those were the words of Al Golden during his introductory press conference in December of 2010.

If Al needs any proof of exactly why he was fired, he needs merely to look at the quotation above as justification.

Let’s start from the beginning. For those, like me, who were skeptical of hiring the head coach of Temple for one of the most potentially lucrative jobs in college football and yet so desperate for hope following the Larry Coker and Randy Shannon regimes, Al Golden’s introductory press conference was one for the ages.

Here was a young guy, a well spoken guy, who just GOT IT.

He talked of players, not plays. He talked of inviting the alumni back to be a larger presence within the program. He talked about re-invigorating the strength and conditioning program. He talked about the end of entitlement. He had 200 pages of blueprint and “pillars”.

Jesus, I would make that guy the GOP nominee for president.

He won the hell out of press conferences.

He opened the program back up to the fans through the Raising Canes video series, which was a breath of fresh air after the media-averse Shannon.

This was the beginning of a Golden Era.

Sure, there was the fact that he never beat anyone good at Temple. And the fact that he came from the boring coaching tradition of Penn State and Joe Paterno…the type of program that Miami OPENLY rejected during the glory days. Listening to that press conference was enough to make us all forget that.

We wanted him to win.

Golden was barely on campus for half a year when the program got slammed with an NCAA Investigation he had nothing to do with---a scandal the university knew was coming before they hired him and did not disclose.

And while I am past the point of this being used as an excuse for poor on-field performance, it is easy to forget the uncertainty of those two years. After all, this was the NCAA, and we are Miami, and in a world that has no real rules one has to assume the worst.

If nothing else, Al deserves credit for weathering a storm that he stumbled into with class and dignity.

Al did indeed revamp the strength program...there is no doubt our guys look the part. Al re-strengthened a lot of ties in the local community that Shannon messed up.

He recruited pretty well; sure, he missed on a lot of guys, but he also re-stocked the roster to the point that it is now a turnkey operation for the right coach. We are one of 15 programs that has finished with a Top 25 recruiting class in each of the past 4 years. Most coaches spend years trying to find a QB and defensive line; whoever takes this team over next has an NFL level QB and a young and talented stable of defensive linemen from the very beginning.

But here’s the thing…after a while, it comes back to the winning.

Al was ultimately undone by an inability to adapt. He stubbornly hung on to his system which did not fit the players he had on the roster, nor the local recruiting base.

His system required too much thinking, even for advanced South Florida kids. It is frustrating as a fan; I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be a player struggling to pick up a system in your third year running it, while watching your buddies from high school dominate elsewhere.

In the end, he was more beholden to his pillars and his plays than to the players; the words of his press conference rang hollow. And so it became time to move on. In fact, the university gave him a bonus 10 months out of loyalty or guilt over the NCAA mess.

And those are the types of things that get you fired.

If Al Golden has followed through on the promises he made during that inspiring first press conference, we might not be here today. We might not have gone 0-5 against FSU, or failed to beat a Top 25 team---we certainly would not have lost 58-0 to Clemson on Saturday.

But you can’t hide from results, and eventually everyone gets judged on their resume.

When I remember the Al Golden Error, I will not remember the early days of hope.

I will remember him consistently putting a slow, boring, horrible product on the field. They call this a 2-gap defense, similar to what the Cowboys run, except even the shitty Cowboys make plays every now and then. Our guys just stand around confused and then get too caught up in overthinking it to make a play on the ball. How anti-Miami is that?

I will remember him running off legends.

 I will remember him throwing players under the bus and calling them “me guys” like a coward trying to cover his own ass.

 I will remember his unintentionally hilarious catch phrases, like “be a McDonald’s hamburger” and “don’t rise to the occasion”.

I will remember him going dark for a week as he tried to bail on us for the open Penn State job, and then how distraught he was when he realized he was stuck at Miami, the best recruiting ground in the country.

Most of all I will remember the losing. So. Much. Losing. For scale, our basketball team has more wins against Duke than our football team since Al took over. Excuse me while I wade into traffic.

Later Al. Hope you catch on somewhere. And I hope we schedule whatever team you catch on with, because guaranteed wins are hard to come by.


And now, since everyone is making their coaching candidate list, here’s the dozen candidates I want to see interviewed to be the next Miami Hurricanes head coach, in no particular order.

Note: This list assumes that pie-in-the-sky candidates like Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Mark Danotnio, David Shaw and Gary Patterson say no.

1.       Steve Spurrier – Spurrier is like Ahab if Ahab had not only caught Moby Dick but beat the ever loving piss out of him repeatedly, and then made a mockery of him in the national media.

2.       Butch Davis – Dude is literally in the parking lot waiting on a phone call; he might work for Keystone Light and grilled cheese.

3.       Mark Richt – What can I say, the man rocks a nice pair of church Dockers.

4.       Justin Fuente – Most accomplished thing out of Memphis since 36 Mafia.

5.       Tom Herman – Won a national championship with a 3rd string QB.

6.       Rob Chudzinski – I imagine he would tell at least one local reporter to “fuck off” during a press conference.

7.       Uncle Luke – Trick Daddy as defensive coordinator, Pitbull as offensive coordinator, Ricky Rozay coaching O-Line---we need Miami Guys, right? DALE!

8.       Dana Hologram – Miami needs---nay, DEMANDS--- a 4Loko bootlegger.

9.       Winston Moss – “I ain’t scared of you, bitch”.

10.   Mike Gundy – He’s a MAN!

11.   Dan Campbell – “Listen men, you want to win? Look at the guy next to you and RIP HIS HEART OUT OF HIS CHEST!!!! Losses are punishable by water boarding.”


Daddy's gotta go to work.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

FSU Hate Week

What can I say about Tallahassee that hasn’t already been said about Downtown Baghdad?

Look, we get to a certain point with these things where all the hatred starts to blur together. I get it.

I could keep going on and on about how FSU players beat the hell out of women and get caught on videotape, or beat the hell out of women and don’t get caught on videotape, or shoot up apartment complexes with BB guns, or flee the scene of a car accident, or steal crab legs from a Publix, or sexually assault a woman and then get covering fire from the university and the local police department, or….ya know what, like I said, you guys get it.

We’ve done that.

To get mad about FSU players getting away with crimes is like getting mad at Donald Trump for making finger guns when talking about a school shooting. Sure, it is THE WORST, but who can we really blame except for ourselves? Stuff happens, ya know?

(Sidenote: you know who probably loves Donald Trump? #FSUTwitter)

I really hate that Al Golden is such a dipshit, and our team is so constantly mediocre, that FSU…the Fox News of fan-bases (humorless, self-important, delusional, artificially enhanced)…actually has out-funnied us with this in their on-campus bookstore:

 Gotta hand it to them. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Anytime college football’s equivalent of Larry the Cable Guy makes an objectively funny joke at your expense, it might be time to reconsider your program’s future.

But not Al Golden.

At this point, this dude seemingly wants to get fired.

Per the Miami Herald’s Manny Navarro, the players have been flat at practice this week and seem “unbothered” by last week’s loss to Cincy. Effing Cincy. The team that was being quarterbacked by a freshman making his first career start, coming off a loss to Memphis.
Then, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, came news that the staff isn’t playing the War Chant at practice this week.
In years past, coaches would play FSU’s horrific fight song all week long. It got the players ready for the noise that 50,000 mouth-breathers can create when the team that represents everything they hate ---urban intelligence, people that aren’t white, etc.---comes to town.

It ALSO got them pissed off, because anyone forced to listen to that crap for 7 days would be ready to gnaw their own leg off to make it stop. Honestly I think this was on the Gitmo playlist.
But, not Al Golden! Not this year!

This year is about everyone being, and I quote, a “McDonald’s Hamburger”.

Consistent. Predictable. Filled with poisonous preservatives that will kill you over time.

You can almost hear Al’s excuse cannon getting fired up now: “Well, it was a hostile environment on the road, really louder than any place we’ve played this year Joe. Had a lot of adversity and we just couldn’t overcome all of it.”

Someone posted a video on my message board this week of our old strength coach from the 90s, Tommy Moffitt (currently at LSU), putting the players through a summer workout.

A few things stood out to me.

One, Tommy was a crazy person. Like, actually crazy.

Two, our players were really big and really fast. No wonder Leonard Fournette is the second coming of Herschel Walker.

Three, at one point he said “the pride and tradition of the University of Miami Hurricanes will not be entrusted to the timid or weak.”

Now, aside from the fact that this is Meathead 101 and sounds like the type of thing that the douchebag on your high school’s football team--the one that shouldered people into lockers and made gay jokes-- would have said, it is pretty interesting to contrast it with Al Golden’s pre-game speech from last week against Cincy, which essentially consisted of “don’t rise to the occasion”.

Al Golden thinks you win big games by telling players NOT to rise to the occasion.

The last time we played a team with Everett Golson at quarterback was in 2012 against Notre Dame, and we lost that game 41-3 and gave up 561 yards of offense. Last thing we would want is someone stepping up on defense.

You can tell this team has already effectively given up hope.

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins is lashing out at high school sophomores on Instagram.

Linebacker Tyriq McCord is threatening fans in Facebook comments. Knowing Facebook it was probably someone’s uncle that has some * interesting* views on gun control, but still, that isn’t what you want during rivalry week.

Cornerback Tracy Howard, the first big recruiting win of Al Golden’s tenure, actually was quoted in a newspaper this week with the following:

“At the end of the day, it is what it is. That’s life. People are going to criticize you. When you’re doing good, people are going to love you. When you’re doing bad, people are going to be down on you. At the end of the day, you have to stay levelheaded, be the same person. It is what it is. It’s life,” corner Tracy Howard said. “I’m sure my coaches, I’m sure they’re tough. They can handle it. And we can handle it. I know everybody doesn’t like our coaches, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We still have to go out there and perform and they still have to go out there and call plays. We still have to play for them, so, I mean…we can’t do much about it.

That reads like a ransom note sent by the hostage.

At the beginning of the season, players talked about the FSU game playing too central a role in the team’s psyche and thus creating the post-loss collapses we witnessed the past 2 years.

They said that they were intent on net letting the game define their season this year.

The thing is, absent of larger goals, all your fans can hope for is a win against the rival.

And for a guy like Al Golden, whose response to that is to try to eliminate the idea of a rivalry at all, that win is just never going to happen.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cincy Hate Week

Note from the editor: I am only going to refer to Cincinnati as “Cincy” from this point forward in this post, because truth be told I have never really figured out how to spell Cincinnati and I get sick of having to right click on the word every time Word tells me I screwed up again. As if anyone ever needed MORE reason to hate this Meth den.

Let’s start off with a quick recap of things I hated 2 weekends ago  (and that you should hate too!).
I hated, of course, that we blew a 23 point lead with 8 minutes left…but more than that I hated how PREDICTABLE it was.

‘How predictable was it, Dan?’

So predictable that in the 3rdQuarter I turned to my girlfriend and said “this is going to overtime”.

Guys, I am NOT that smart and even I saw this trainwreck coming.

I hate that Al Golden has turned this into such a crap program that in any game I am unable to celebrate the good stuff that happens because I KNOW the other shoe will inevitably fall.

Dominating FSU through 3 quarters? 

Doesn’t matter, as soon as we go 3 and out one time the panic sets in.

Put up 17 in the first quarter against Nebraska?

Doesn’t matter, we all know we are going to go soft and surrender the lead.

I hate it. It has literally sucked the joy out of this team. We could be up by 70 against FSU in the 4th Quarter and I wouldn’t be happy until the game was over. It’s gotten to the point that I’d be happy going up 10-0 and then fast forwarding through the rest of the game. Thanks, Al.

I also hate that Deon Bush is going to be out the first half of this game because of a bad targeting call. Know what I hate even worse? A.) He is so important to the defense that as soon as he was ejected against Nebraska we gave up 23 points in 8 minutes and B.) That he is CLEARLY our best player on defense and Al Golden insists on rotating him with this year’s SOTS whipping boy, Dallas Crawford, AKA the worst safety to play here since, like, Willie Cooper.

I also hate that afterward the team celebrated like they just won the Super Bowl, because as Al Golden said, Nebraska had won 9 games every year for the past decade.

First of all that was false.

Second of all, you know who 9 wins isn't good enough for? NEBRASKA. They just fired their coach despite winning 9 games 5 years in a row.

So, to sum up, at Nebraska 9 wins gets you fired.

At Al Golden's Miami, 9 wins gets you a dance party.

Awesome stuff.

Now that we’ve got that off our chest…

Why should you hate the Cincy Bearcats?

Good question.

On the surface, the football program seems to have everything I would like.

Cool all black uniforms.

A weird nickname; no one knows what a Bearcat is but it sounds badass. Kind of like a Jackelope. Or one of those crazy whales with the big unicorn horn. 

Spread offense. History of upsets. Tommy Tuberville.

Check, check, check.
I felt bad last week when Gunner Kiel almost died on the field against Memphis.

Truth be told…and this might be me going soft with age… I can’t muster up any hate for this team.
This is a team playing three straight non-Saturday games. That’s literally the most interesting thing I could find about them.

They’re co-favorites, along with Memphis, in something called the AAC, which is what I think you get relegated to if you finish last in the ACC.

(Just kidding, we know that doesn’t happen, because Miami is still in the ACC after last season)
The Bearcats are essentially the college football knockoff of the Cincy Bengals, the NFL team that shares both a color scheme and an overall sense of “who gives a shit?”

They both fall in to the realm of “good enough for me” which is fitting in this city.

Also, I can never say this enough, but Skyline Chili sucks. A lot.

The reason I think everything has settled in at “mediocre” in this hellscape is that the city has a huge sense of identity crisis. You see, most of the residents feel a sense of commonality with all the worst parts of the Deep South and yet geographically this place features all the worst parts of the north.
It’s not often that you find this combo, but when you do, boy is it nasty. And that is how you get a place like Cincinnati, full of awful people but an admittedly awesome airport (which is technically across the river in Kentucky).

Now, all of this doesn’t take away from the fact that this perfectly mediocre team from this crap town is going to drive us all crazy on Thursday night.

For starters, winning on the road against a home underdog on Thursday night is never easy.  Thursday night football was designed specifically to create chaos, and often succeeds.
Second of all, Mark D’Onofrio and Al Golden will be facing their worst nightmare now the Gunner Kiel, potential NFL draft pick, is out: a second string, mobile QB.

Get ready for a lot of cursing on converted 3rd and Longs. Heaven only help us if they have a tight end on the roster. Not a “good” tight end even…just someone that plays the position. That’s just too many wrinkles for the former Temple staff to handle.

I honestly don’t think we win this one. Everyone is talking about an undefeated matchup in primetime against FSU in two weekends…and I just can’t help but remind everyone that this NEVER works out for us. This is a total trap, similar to the trip to UNC a couple of years ago, and you can bet these acne-ridden, Keystone swilling, couch burning, intelligence-hating hillbillies will be out in full force.

The best case scenario is that D’Onofrio manages to take away something that this backup QB likes to do, force him to be one dimensional, and that our offense actually has some form of consistency and indentity for the entire game.

While you wipe the tears of laughter out of your eyes, I will wrap this up.

Cincy is an awful city with an awful name filled with a lot of awful people.

Let the hate coarse through your veins. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nebraska Hate Week

This week the ‘Canes play their first real opponent of the season as the Nebraska Cornhuskers come to town.

Like  I said last year, this is the Green Bay of college football. Small town, big crowds, the beauty of rural America, “doing things the right way”, etc.

All of which is really just code for “this place is a frozen shithole, no one lives here unless they are trapped by circumstances or Warren Buffett, might as well go to the football game”.

Much like Miami, this program is coasting on accomplishments from over a decade ago and being a name brand.

If Miami wins this game, which it should, a bunch of people are going to call it a signature win for Al Golden. Which actually makes me angrier than anything about Nebraska itself.

Let’s get one thing straight: Nebraska sucks. They lost their 2 best players to the draft in Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory. They lost their most explosive player to a season ending injury in August. Their QB, Tommy Armstrong, is a runner that the Huskers coaching staff is trying to make into a pocket passer, because that always works.

Speaking of the coaching staff…Nebraska has a new coach this season. Despite going 9-4 pretty every year for like 157 straight years, Nebraska fired Bo Pelini.

One of Pelini’s 9 wins last season was an absolute demolition of the ‘Canes in which Nebraska ran on 33 of their final 36 plays, finishing with 343 yards on the ground for the evening (averaging 6.5 yards per carry, no less).

Nebraska essentially too out a megaphone and announced to the world before every play “we’re running it up the middle”….and you know what Miami did? This is probably shocking, but Al Golden didn’t adapt. He kept playing his defense deep because he was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “afraid of getting beat deep”. By the team that ran the ball on 90+% of its plays.

Can’t make this stuff up.

After the season, Nebraska fired the Real Bo Pelini (not to be confused with @FauxBoPelini, who has also taken his legendary performance to Youngstown State) and hired Mike Riley, the Webster definition of a generic football coach.

That’s right, Nebraska finished 9-4 but determined that they weren’t happy with the forward progress being shown, so they shitcanned the coach. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Nebraska enters the game 1-1, with a loss on a Hail Mary to BYU and a win against some crappy team whose name I forget and I’m too lazy to look up right now.

I can already see how this game is going to play out.

Nebraska WILL run the ball a gazillion times, while Miami stays in its shell.

Miami WILL blow this game in the second half.

Al Golden WILL say that it’s early, and we are still recovering from the guys we lost to the NFL last year--which will be ironic given the game in question—and that the injuries to Darrion Owens and Braxton Berrios have really made an impact.

If this post feels “blah”, it’s because that’s how I feel about this game. I don’t hate Nebraska, but I do hate what they represent: a paper tiger, a straw man, a windmill that Al Golden will tilt at and lose.

They are a smoldering mediocrity, and yet they are a smoldering mediocrity that still expects greatness, unlike our administration.

I was talking to my brother earlier and asked him "why should I hate Nebraska?"

His answer: "the self loathing stemming from the inevitability of them winning."

Nailed it.