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Unscientific Unempirical Totally Ridiculous but Halfway Serious CFB Predictions: ACC

In 2009, I went through all the major BCS conferences and created some semi-amusing, totally off-base and (eventually) inaccurate predictions and bowl projections for the upcoming college football season. In 2010, I was working nonstop throughout the summer without a break and never had the chance to put together some predictions. So now that I have some free time on my hands, it’s time to do some predictions – here’s the ACC. (Continued)

Unscientific Unempirical Unscientific Unempirial Totally Ridiculous but Halfway Serious CFB Predictions: Big Ten Conference

In 2009, I went through all the major BCS conferences and created some semi-amusing, totally off-base and (eventually) inaccurate predictions and bowl projections for the upcoming college football season. In 2010, I was working nonstop throughout the summer without a break and never had the chance to put together some predictions. So now that I have some free time on my hands, it’s time to do some predictions – here’s the newly expanded Big Ten Conference and its Legends and Leaders “breakdown”.  (Continued)

My Unscientific Unempirial Totally Ridiculous But Halfway Serious 2011 College Football Predictions: Big 12 Conference

In 2009, I went through all the major BCS conferences and created some semi-amusing, totally off-base and (eventually) inaccurate predictions and bowl projections for the upcoming college football season. In 2010, I was working nonstop throughout the summer without a break and never had the chance to put together some predictions. So now that I have some free time on my hands, it’s time to do some predictions – and I’ll start with the conference I know best, the Big 12. (Continued)

Almost a year in Texas

I’ve been living here for almost a year now, and while it has been tough in some ways, I’ve also had a lot of fun and it’s been a good growing experience to be truly on my own in an unfamiliar city. Here are some of the highlights in my first year in the Lone Star State:

  • The weather. Yes, the temperature is usually higher than 90 degrees every day from May to October, but it’s predictable. You get into a rhythm – you just know every day it’s going to be hot and humid, and you try to minimize exposure to the heat by rushing from your air-conditioned apartment to your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office and back again in the afternoon. If you’re daring enough to spend time outside, or (gasp) exercise outside, you drink a ton of water and deal with it. It’s usually more refreshing to then come back into your air-conditioned box. The winter had a few chilly days, but overall wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed DFW’s reaction (or lack thereof) to several inches of snow and ice the week of the Super Bowl in February. By all accounts, it was a complete disaster. Roads weren’t plowed or salted, sidewalks had inches of ice on them, and Cowboys “Stagium” had ice fall off the roof and injure workers. But, hey, we had a few days off from work, so it was all good!
  • Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket: I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this before living in DFW. This station is gold. The morning and afternoon drive time shows are fantastic. Between Gordon Keith’s famous impersonations, which range from Jerry Jones to Nolan Ryan and Billy Tubbs, to Mike Rhyner’s thick Texas drawl discussing the Texas Rangers or Dallas Mavericks, it’s incredibly entertaining and worthwhile sports radio. Beats the heck out of WFAN or any other ESPN radio affiliate I’ve ever listened to. If I don’t stay in DFW, I’ll make every effort to listen online or to podcasts because the stuff they talk about is awesome.
  • Shiner Beer and Blue Bell Ice Cream:  Terrific Texas-native products. Tasty beer, tasty ice cream.
  • Central Market: Wholefoods on steroids. From the free samples to world-class selection, this place rocks. Plus, the little restaurant areas inside each store sell some really unique and delicious meals.
  • Learning about the Texas-based Big 12 schools. Definitely picked up an appreciation for all of them.
  • Jim Knox: His antics during Rangers games and Big 12 football games are ridiculous, but hilarious. Seeing it on a fairly-regular basis is great.
  • DFW Jets Fans – highly amusing group of people, ton of fun to watch the Jets games with this past year.
  • Living within 15 minutes of two major airports – I’m almost equidistant to DFW and Dallas-Love Field. Both have their advantages and drawbacks, but regardless, if you need to leave DFW, it is easy. So nice to have that convenience after having to spend the last 4 years driving 2+ hours to get to a major airport.

I’m sure I’ll think of some more as I go to sleep tonight, but regardless, these are the first things that come to mind.

Joplin Devastation and #21

Why has the spring of 2011 seen so many tornadoes and severe weather issues? I’m dumbfounded at much damage/devastation this spring has seen. I have no idea if it’s “climate change”/global warming behind all this and I’m ignoring conspiracy theorists blaming these deadly storms on outlandish government plots to rule the world, like this. Seeing destruction and suffering like the images we saw after the F-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO becomes far more personal and disturbing when you know someone who has lived through it. My friend Brandon Spiegel is a sports reporter at KOAM in the Joplin MO/Pittsburg KS market. We graduated from Mizzou together and both spent plenty of time at KOMU covering various events, including several road trips to follow MU football to Kansas State and Oklahoma State. I had exchanged texts with him every once in a while, the last I can recall involved sending one his way while driving through Joplin after Missouri football dismantled Miami (OH) in September of 2010, but thankfully with Twitter and Facebook it’s easy to stay in touch or up-to-date with friends from college so you’re always able to find out what people are up to. It’s very easy for our generation to keep friends.

So upon hearing of the tornado(s) that hit Joplin last week, my first thought of was Brandon and whether he was OK, but I knew since he worked in Pittsburg KS, he may not have been home at the time. I had been following the Weather Channel all day because of thunderstorms in DFW, so I witnessed TWC’s reporter lose his composure during a live shot because of how bad the damage was, and subsequent live hits showing the devastation. I saw several friends on social media sites post messages to Brandon hoping he was OK. On Monday, he posted something to the effect of “I’m fine, apartment is gone”, and later in the week posted pictures of the rubble where his apartment was. He eventually posted this picture of an old #21 Mizzou baseball jersey he owned and recovered in rubble about 100 yards from where his apartment had been.

As Mizzou Athletics’ “One Mizzou” campaign began to help the Joplin area recover, the MU baseball team decided to obtain the jersey and bring it to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 championship. The team hung the jersey in their dugout for the Saturday/Sunday games, in which MU advanced to the championship final game and was within one strike of a miracle upset over heavily-favored Texas A&M, which would have sent the Tigers to the NCAA tournament despite a losing overall record. Beforehand, though, we decided to do a story on the jersey, which, in its second game of the day on Saturday, saw its counterpart, Kelly Fick (also wearing #21) hurl 7 shutout innings against the Big 12 powerhouse Texas Longhorns and advance to the championship final game. Thanks to some extra info from Brandon, I put together this story about the jersey and what its journey to Oklahoma City meant to the upstart Tigers. KOMU also had a story on the jersey for the Sunday sports show, but I haven’t seen it since it’s essentially the same plot as what I did. I tried to make mine more of an overview for the Big 12’s audience that may not know as much about MU’s efforts to help Joplin, as compared to something KOMU would do in a more humanistic/focused story. I am happy my friend is OK, but the images of the storm’s destruction are stomach-churning. While I have no money to contribute to any sort of cause (I’m essentially broke) I’ll do anything to help that area recover. I have plenty of books, clothes, and miscellaneous, unnecessary items people could use. When I move out of Dallas, I know for sure I’ll have items to donate. The least I can do…

 

Education bubble?

Saw an interesting story out there floated by various economists and think-tanks stating the next “bubble” of economic collapse will come from the higher education industry (and believe me, it’s an industry, as evidenced by my $340 monthly payment to Citibank Student Loans)…

From Tech Crunch’s article by Sarah Lacy:

“Instead, for Thiel, the bubble that has taken the place of housing is the higher education bubble. “A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”

I love being in school, and being a student. I’m a knowledge sponge in topics that interest me. I respect teachers and professors. But the way our education system creates a nasty cycle of coziness disturbs me – from the tuition, books, technology/software, and expenses we all pay for that come out of student loans and go right back to big corporations with no regard for their customers.

The next step?

So it’s been months since I’ve posted on here. No surprise, as the hosting expired and I had to renew the domain name in February. But now that my Big 12 internship is approaching its conclusion (ending late June) I’m beginning to look for my next opportunity, where ever it may be. I’d love to stay in the Big 12 “footprint” (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas) because I have lots of friends/acquaintances/professional contacts inside said footprint, especially in the video/internet/broadcast/media realms. And believe me, I love the energy and enthusiasm people have around here for the Big 12 schools. It’s been awesome to get a dose of the Big 12 “South” alumni and fans in Texas after spending four years in Missouri. So in terms of work atmosphere and passion for the “cause” of Big 12 sports, this is a fantastic location as I’m sure the “hubs” of other big D-1 conferences are too, such as Kansas City (Big 12), Chicago (Big Ten), Atlanta (SEC), Charlotte (ACC), and New York (Big East).

Yet, I feel a calling to return to the East Coast where most of my family is. It’s hard to put a price tag on seeing loved ones often, and I know I’ve missed out on a lot of birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, etc. in my years away from home. So that’s what is on my mind as I begin to look for a “real” job…

BCS ramblings

I know it’s always been trendy and cool to bash the BCS, but I’ve always liked the system on its premise. I’m one of the few people out there NOT in favor of a playoff. Critics need to realize when the BCS was created in 1998, fans were tired of having dual/shared national championships – just look at the list of schools claiming “consensus national championships” from 1990-1997 (for sake of argument, I’m going off the Wikipedia page with its plethora of arithmetic and human polls, so bear with me):

1990: Colorado (AP/USAT-CNN), Georgia Tech (UPI),
1991: Miami (AP), Washington (UPI, USAT-CNN)
[Beginning of “Bowl Coalition”]
1992: Alabama (AP, UPI, USAT-CNN)
1993: Florida State (AP, UPI, USAT-CNN)
1994: Nebraska, Penn State
[Beginning of “Bowl Alliance”]
1995: Nebraska (consensus)
1996: Florida (consensus)
1997: Nebraska (USAT-ESPN), Michigan (AP)

The 1997 “championship” is most bizarre, because both teams from power conferences went undefeated. 1995 and 1996 appear somewhat normal. 1994 though, again, is where problems come up. Both Nebraska and Penn State went undefeated, won their bowl games, and finished #1 in various polls, claiming national championships because they didn’t face off head-to-head. What to do?

So the BCS was an idea that “smart” people came up with to determine a “true” national champion. In context and in the time of its creation, it seems like a good idea – create a formula that manages to match the “true” #1 team against the “true” #2 team and determine the national champion that way. In the mid-1990s, we didn’t have Boise State competing on a national level and winning the big bowl games – i.e. the Fiesta. We didn’t see TCU competing every year in the top 25 of the rankings. So of course the system was created to benefit the well-known conferences – Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC, Big East, ACC, and Notre Dame (based simply on their history of winning) because a. no one cared about the small conferences or schools, and b. no one got to see them play when power-conference games took the few existing TV broadcast windows. Simply out of sight, out of mind. Just think about it – we didn’t have the creativity or leverage of existing networks to schedule games on weeknights, and we didn’t have the technology or viewer appetite to show 50 different games on Saturdays. Just this 2010 season it seems we’ve seen Boise State on ESPN for every game they’ve played. And justifiably so, given the track record they’ve developed over the past five years – winning two BCS bowl games, finishing in the top 25 every year, yada yada. The latest true tweaks to the BCS came after the 2004 season when Auburn, USC, and Utah all finished undefeated – so who the hell finishes #1? The BCS folks changed the formula to take out the AP Poll, and then decided to allow:

“The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.”

While this allows teams like Boise State and TCU access to the party, it obviously doesn’t guarantee playing for the national championship nor does it reward them for finishing with undefeated records. Sure, this is something that should be looked into in the future. As I wrote above, I like the current format because you’re rewarded for playing your regular season. The NFL is a joke to me because games in September truly mean nothing. But, there’s been a system established over 40 years that says IF YOU MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AND WIN YOU WILL PLAY FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. College football’s system has been WIN YOUR GAMES IN THE REGULAR SEASON AND YOU MIGHT GO TO A BOWL GAME WHERE YOU’RE VOTED NATIONAL CHAMPION AFTERWARDS — hence the BCS’s attempts to match the #1 and #2 teams, regardless of whether they’re “truly” the #1 or #2 teams in the country. One problem taken care of, another created.

I just can’t understand the screaming for a 16-team playoff when college football has ALWAYS been about the regular season and the bowl system. It feels so cheap and whorish to simply create a playoff and go for the NFL mode where a team can essentially skip two months of the season and make the postseason. Sure, college teams take a month off with non-conference games, but that is easily fixed with more progressive scheduling (i.e. playing conference games earlier), and the fact there’s no NFL-style preseason to get tuned up. The “plus-one model” would have been the best way to go to solve the access problem for the Boises and TCUs of the world – get to the top 4 nationally, and you should deserve a shot to play for the national championship, especially if a #3 or #4 ranked team is undefeated. But, the powers that be killed it (for many reasons, namely money) before it got out of committee behind closed doors at the conference/BCS commissioners level.

I think the current model will eventually be tweaked, and it’s just a matter of time — the chips are already in place, the TCUs and Boises have proved they can compete with the big dogs — but until then, enjoy the fact that every Saturday from September til the first weekend in December is worth watching.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I get annoyed when the quick solution to college football’s problems is “just have a playoff!” And especially the laziness from journalists that fail to take into account the context in which the BCS exists.

Loving the Big 12

Long story short, I left Palm Springs after the Big 12 Conference offered me the 1-year internship/co-op position of “Internet Services Assistant” in June. I started on July 1st and it’s been an absolute joy. It really doesn’t feel like work at all. The hours are very low-stress, usually 8 to 5 unless I have to stay late and get something done. My job entails making videos and graphics for Big12sports.com – we started with Big 12 Athlete of the Year videos for each school, then football previews and preseason awards. Today, I finished a feature nat-sound package about the Missouri football student-athletes and their trip to Big 12 football media days this past week. After meeting them at DFW’s general aviation area (see – luxury/no security/no lines/free parking) I followed my alma mater’s football representatives around for a little while (Blaine Gabbert, Derrick Washington, and Kevin Rutland) and shot some video of their nonstop interviews with TV, radio, and print reporters. I felt like getting to talk with Gabbert, Washington, and Rutland was cool because they were pretty candid about their thoughts on media day (both good and bad). Coach Gary Pinkel was his usual AMERICUH self – so old school 1960s mannerisms and unique twang he’s developed after years of coaching in Ohio, Washington, and Missouri. I also got Missouri’s SID Chad Moller on-camera to talk about what it’s like on his end with the student-athletes and making sure they’re comfortable at such a big event.

Afterwards, I rode with the guys back to the airport and planned on keeping the camera rolling like I did on the way to the hotel. But my zooming in on coach Pinkel apparently annoyed him, and, in his most Americuh twang and death-stare, growled at me, “I need that off.” I chuckled and complied – we had agreed beforehand it would be OK with me to turn it off if requested. I completely understood wanting the camera off – he’d been in interviews for 5 hours straight and wanted to talk freely for once with his guys…which he did, and I enjoyed listening to it as he had some interesting things to say. Just one of those things…it was cooler with the camera off anyway because I got to hear stuff I wouldn’t have had it been on. I bade them farewell at the airport and shot some video of them getting into the plane, then taxiing away.

I talked to a few guys from Colorado, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma to see if their experiences were similar. And, for the most part, they were. Nate Solder from Colorado and Steven Sheffield from Texas Tech were really cool guys, as was Travis Lewis from Oklahoma. All 3 appear in my pkg.

I’ll try to get back to blogging more often now that I have a pretty regular work schedule!

wow, it’s really been a long time

Graduation – an emotional yet exciting day. The family really enjoyed the trip to Columbia from NJ via Kansas City, and I’m glad they got a good taste of where I’d spent 4 years of my life. I won’t lie – I shed quite a few tears the day before my departure. Saying goodbye to my parents and siblings in a Break Time gas station parking lot on Providence Road, they drove off not knowing when we’ll see each other again. As I returned to my apartment and continued to pack, eventually bringing most of my worldly possessions to a storage unit south of town, it hit me that I was out of there. Done. Not living in Columbia again – incredibly daunting and scary. The whole notion of leaving…being done…moving on to a new challenge, new area, and completely new [cliche alert] chapter in my life was so much to handle in one day, on top of worrying about moving all my stuff out of my apartment. Plus, knowing I’d be leaving friends I’ve spent so much time with over the past few years behind, I’m not gonna lie, I was really an emotional wreck.

But I pulled it together and managed to hit the road bright and early on Monday morning. I was essentially on I-70 the entire day. I stopped for lunch and gas in Salina, KS – a surprisingly very nice town. I did not expect it, but apparently there’s a thriving arts and tourism community there. I couldn’t figure out what else was a big economic engine in the area – shipping? Air/rail freight? I vaguely recall hearing Salina is a big stop-off for that stuff, but whatever. Roughly a 45 minutes to an hour from Manhattan, and longer from Wichita, I couldn’t figure it out. But I digress.

I continued west on I-70 through famed western Kansas, which is, indeed, flat and boring. Eastern and Central Kansas are mildly interesting since there’s stuff to look at, for the most part i.e. Lawrence, Topeka, enormous wind farms, the Flint Hills, etc. But as you get further and further from KC, everything becomes far more spread out. It stays that way almost the whole way through eastern Colorado and up to Denver. I stayed overnight in Denver, and absolutely loved it. It seemed like a beautiful, well-designed, well-integrated (compared to St. Louis or Kansas City) city with tons of stuff to do outdoors and around town. I stayed close to Invesco Field and downtown, so it was easy to get cool views of the city at night. In the morning, I hit the road and headed west again into the mountains on I-70. This was an absolutely incredible ride – I’d never seen the Rocky Mountains before, and to experience them in their full glory was amazing. Ascending and descending the various mountain passes was literally quite breathtaking. Upon reaching the summit of the Eisenhower Tunnel, you really begin to feel the elevation. I definitely got a headache and felt the altitude…but it could have been from all the coffee I’d been guzzling along the way. After that, you slowly descend from the Rockies and cut through some incredible scenery – in particular, the Glenwood Canyon, which is perhaps one of the coolest, most spectacular stretches I’ve ever driven. Check it out here –

After that, you slowly get out of the Rockies into Utah, but it stays just as majestic. The weather was annoying – spitting rain and somewhat chilly – so it was irritating to have to use my wipers. It’s between Green River, Utah, and Salina, Utah, where you see an ominous “No Services Next 110 Miles” – which makes the drive seem even more adventurous and exciting. The road snakes and cuts through numerous passes, eventually taking you to The Fishlake National Forest –  pretty wild to pass through because there was still snow on the ground along the mountains. As you continue through and along the mountains, you pass through miles and miles of ranching and seemingly-old-country-western land. I stopped in  Cedar City, Utah, for gas and an adapter to charge my camera so I could continue to take pictures of the ride. After Cedar City, you start to enter the outskirts of the desert. The mountains become more barren, and the vegetation becomes less lush. By the time you reach St. George, Utah, you’re in the desert. St. George, a growing town home to Southern Utah University and what appears to be plenty of retirement-home driven sprawl. You then enter the northwest corner of Arizona and the Virgin River Canyon, another insanely majestic swath of road. Instead of the gray and green colors everywhere in the Glenwood Canyon, the Virgin River Canyon is red, orange, and Mars-like. You exit the canyon into a desert valley. It was here that a tumbleweed flew across the road in front of me! From there it was about a little over an hour to Las Vegas, which looms on the horizon as it does in most movies or TV shows that depict it from afar. My first time ever in the Las Vegas area, I was weirded out by the notion of living in the desert. Bizarre. I checked into my hotel in Henderson (20 minutes from downtown) and chilled.

The next day, I got up early and went down to visit the Hoover Dam. That was wild. The drive down into the canyon is amazing. I really enjoyed the trip there and took a bunch of pictures. After that, I drove back to Vegas and visited the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop – famous for the “Pawn Stars” TV show of which I enjoy. Unfortunately, the guys from the show weren’t in the shop that day, but I did see a ton of the goodies they buy/sell on the show inside the shop. It’s definitely worth going there to check out all the cool antiques and rare items they have – all of which the shop prides on being authentic. From there, I drove down “The Strip” and saw all of Vegas in its pathetic glory. What a dump. I checked out 2 casinos, and made futures college football bets for fun in Caesers – $5 on Mizzou to win the national championship at 150/1 odds – so if somehow they do win, I’ll be up about $700 🙂 I also figured I’d throw down $5 for Boise State and Ohio State to win it all, at 12/1 and 8/1 each. After that, I headed back to Henderson, worked out in its majestic fitness center, and ventured out again to get In & Out Burger for dinner – totally worth it and legit as people claim it to be.

The next morning I departed the hotel headed for Palm Springs/Indio. I drove south via US-95 to US-62 through the heart of the Mojave Desert. More than half the drive was 1 lane in each direction with about 30 miles between tiny desert hamlets – pretty wild. Thankfully the Acura was running very well, so I didn’t have any problems. I had the Phillies/Cubs game on my XM Radio to keep me company! Eventually, I arrived in Indio and met the Zeiles – awesome people, unpacked, and headed out to Palm Springs, and here I am about 2 and a half weeks later.

After a 1,800 mile trip from Columbia, MO, to Palm Springs/Indio, CA, I’ve been hard at work for the Palm Springs Power. It hasn’t been what I expected, but I’m not too concerned about that. I’m just glad the season has started.