Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

THE ORANGE REVOLUTION

It's been a while since I've swung by the NYTimes. However, this is the kinda reporting that made them a journalistic force inspite of their liberal elitism. But anyways, check out this video-column from Nicholas Kristof as he returns to his father's home country to chronicle Ukraine's pro-democracy demonstrations. In addition, Kristoff raises a good point about American involvement in this revolution. If Bush is actually serious about a neo-conservative foreign policy, Ukraine is a great place for the United States to stand up and voice loud support for democracy. Of course, under Cold War politics, the U.S. is taking the correct stand, staying behind the scenes and allowing events to play out, especially allowing Putin and Russia to eat a bit of crow. However, in the name of democracy, I see no problem in forcing this issue. Sure, Ukraine is in Russia's sphere of infulence. However, it's time for a change and they should actually be part of Europe's democratic and strongly capitalistic, sphere of influence.
WORST SOUND EFFECT EVER

My coworker Germaine recently left to have a baby. While I'm enjoying the mountain of work her absence creates for the Dar. Check out the goofy sound effect on this brag page.
THE RETARDED LEFT

From Pigpen...

"It's blog responses, but still pretty funny in their absolute rediculum (new word) - Seth, wouldn't you agree?"
NOW that's AN ADVENTURE!

Check out this story that Pigpen sent me about traveling to North Korea. Now, I've done Turkey and came this close to doing Communist Cuba. However, this would be one adventure that would live on through the ages. After all you gotta be pretty careful about what you say and do...

"Two years ago a South Korean woman reportedly asked a North Korean why President Kim Jong Il was the only fat man in the country, and was detained for several days as a result."


I guess fat jokes aren't funny EVERYWHERE on Earth.
UGH, WHY'D IT HAVE TO BE GRAND RAPIDS?

I'm sure this must be big news back home in ole GR. I can't imagine what all the Dutch Christian Reformed have to say about a pagan wedding and a pedophile honeymoon. In fact, even I am too much of a prude for that. But anyways, is it me, or does there really seem to be a large number of just all around freakazoid weirdos coming outta the Great Lakes State?

Pigpen? Seth? Any thoughts on a Michigan whacked outta its gord?
WELL I WAS HALF RIGHT

Earlier this week Seth and I were having an e-mail exchange about the definition of terrorism. This became an issue after a couple of Atlanta metro teens were charged with terrorism after poisoning their classmates with a stupid prank gone horribly awry.

Well anyways, in jest I told Seth...So what you're saying is that we need to fight terrorism with more terrorism. And that we should send America's homeless veterans to carry out attacks against Muslims around the world, as our version of the PLO."

Needless to say, Seth was not amused :)

However, it turns out sending our homeless veterans to fight isn't that far fetched of an idea. Check out this story of an Atlanta metro hobo going to fight in Iraq. It's actually a pretty good story.
LAWYER STORY

Working in law you come to appreciate most lawyer jokes and anecdotes. Here is a great one sent to me by my coworker Jim...

"A Charlotte, North Carolina lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: That the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.

The lawyer sued - and won!

In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire, and was obligated to pay the claim.

Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires."

Now for the best part!

After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine."
POUNDED IN THE ASS

Friday afternoon ole Tondar took off work a little early to get an oil change. When I got to Ass Raper Chevrolet (a.k.a. Tom Jumper Cevrolet), I handed over my keys, and headed for the bar to have a tall frosty. Well, when I returned half an hour later, I was met with elaborate stories of how my car wouldn't start, and had to be jumped just to get into the garage for the oil change. All of this, inspite of the fact I have had NO PROBLEMS whatsoever with the battery AT ALL! Well, 4 hours, $200, and a new battery later ole Tondar limped home a shell of a whimpering man. Needless to say, a Dark Lord Denise style fit was thrown up and down the dealership. Either I am the luckiest man to have my battery die there, or the biggest sucker on the face of the earth. On the brightside, I made several phone calls to GMC customer service and there is a good chance GM may pick up the cost due to problems with AC Delco batteries going to leaking acid.

Needless to say it was a rough day. So if you called me last night, sorry I blew you off. I simply came home, licked my wounds, and had a few drinks. Yeah, I got F'd in the A.
NEEDLES AHOY!

Seth responds to the NYPost's Friday blasting of Jason Giambi...

"What a bitter New Yorker!

What, does he think steroids are new? That any performance-enhancing drugs are new? Might as well asterix the Babe himself, who took every well-known pill of his day and most of the pills of his day that weren't well-known too.

The Yankee fans are sour on anything Giambi right now, because they purchased an MVP and got nothing out of him. Go back to Oakland? The only reason he didn't stay in Oakland was because Steinbrenner offered Giambi that massive contract. This guy seems to think the Yankees did Jason a favor by giving him a job, and then sat patiently by while Giambi dealt with babby illnesses (benign tumor? why not say "cancer"?) The truth is, Yankee fans were griping their heads off when he was batting .280, which is about lifetime average and got impatient immediately with the illness.

You know why they can't take his MVP from him? Because Giambi wasn't taking performance-enhancing drugs until after his MVP season! At least, not that we know about. But here's something: the guy never had one of those "look-at-the-baseball-card" upper body explosions. Giambi has been husky for ten years. His shoulders might have filled out a bit, but that's what happens when you enter the realm of the middle-aged. And he looks exactly like his father and brother.

I don't think God himself could satisfy Yankee fans if they signed him as a free agent. Because they expect everyone to be the "next" somebody. Bernie Williams isn't Bernie Williams, but the next Mickey Mantle or Joe Dimaggio. And Giambi won't be good enough unless he turns into Lou Gehrig. Guess what: Lou Gehrig was special because no-one else could play first, hit, stay in the lineup, and act as congenially as the Iron Horse.

You don't get another Lou Gehrig, or even a (former Purdue kicker) Moose Skowron ('54-'62). Just be thankful you don't have another schmancy gold-glover like Joe Pepitone ('62-'69), who tried to get his tougher teammates to break Skowron's legs to win him the position. Pepitone became a one-man international incident when he jumped the Japanese Yakult Swallows in the '70s, and ended up in jail on gun and drug charges.

I know they were hoping for a Chris Chambliss ('74-'79), but at least he wasn't a Nick Etten ('43-'46). Perhaps he'll be a Babe Dahlgren ('37-'40), a good player who had the unfortunate luck of spending his career behind Jimmie Foxx in Boston, asking for a trade, then ending up behind the Iron Man. It's tough being Lou's back-up. Just Grand Rapids native, Wally Pipp ('15-'25), a guy known for getting into fights, who hit .296, .329, .304. and .295 and turned in excellent defensive performances for the Yanks from '21 to '24. Then one day, Pipp asked for a game off for a headache, and when he came back, the rookie Gehrig had commenced a streak of 2,130 games at Pipp's position.

And if you still want to claim that 1st base in Yankees' stadium stands for class, just look at the first Yankee to define that position, "Prince" Hal Chase ('05-'13). Among the most unsavory characters in the history of the game, Prince Hal was the best-fielding 1st baseman of his age or any age until then, but also made more errors than any other player at his position. Why? Because Chase loved to throw games for money, a practice that was well-known but tolerated until he was implicated in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, which got him (justifiably in this case) banned from baseball for life.

I believe that the league should ban all performance enhancing drugs, starting with steroids. I'm not naïve enough to think that players won't still be taking them, or that they weren't throughout baseball history, but that doesn't make it right. Because a young first baseman shouldn't have to ruin his gonads and turn himself into a raging hormone monster in order to compete. A 50-year-old whose career has brought so many people joy wanting to stick around a few more seasons? How fair is that to the guys who had to retire because steroids weren't an option. If we go back to the days when 50 homers and hitting .320 meant you won an MVP, then so be it. Scoring's gotten completely out of whack anyhow. Baseball's still America's wayward child; all it ever had to do to earn our love was be there every summer, dingers or no dingers.

As for kicking Giambi to the curb, heck, he'll find a home. And you have to keep in mind that he didn't do anything illegal. Barry Bonds' records - he'll beat Hank Aaron's tally before they start testing for substances, mark my words - will stand without an asterisk. But one-by-one, we're going to learn (Carlos Beltran's putting on some pounds, eh?) that our favorite power hitters are on the "clear," and public sentiment will have nothing left to lose. Anyway, that's my prediction: when Barry retires, baseball will act. Until then, needles ahoy!"

Friday, December 03, 2004

TONDAR SCORES

Who's the man with the master plan that comes through for his clan...

Thank you for your Rose Bowl ticket order. We are happy to inform you that your order placed through the Athletic Ticket Office will be filled. 4 Tickets will be sent on or before Friday December 17, 2004.

I want to notify you of our scalping policy. We reserve the right to revoke your Rose Bowl tickets or your right to buy football tickets from us in the future if any Rose Bowl tickets assigned to you are sold or offered for sale at greater than the value of the ticket.

For those who have not made travel arrangements to Pasadena, space is still available on the Official University of Michigan Rose Bowl tour. For those who have not made tailgate plans, tickets are available for the Official University of Michigan Tailgate. Information regarding the tour and tailgate are available at
www.umalumni.com. Please contact us at 866-/296-6849 if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing you in Pasadena.

Go Blue!

Marty Bodnar
Associate Athletic Director, Ticket Services


If you can dream it, you can do it!
WORST DAY OF WORK EVER

Think you have a rough time at work? Check out what happens when this young lawyer goes before the Supreme Court for the first time. OUCH!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

APATHETIC BEARS

Seth and Tondar came up with a new line of kids toys, based on the Care Bears of yore...

Trainwreck Bear - Pink with an overturned choo choo on his belly. Eyes have a glazed over, slightly demonic look to them. All aboard for destruction...WOOO WOOOO!!

Homeless Bear - Brown with a burn barrell on his belly. Asks for spare change when you squeeze him.

Band Bear - Black with white lettering, has a guitar on his belly, another on his back, another in a case at his feet, and picks everywhere. Doesn't speak when squeezed, but a button on his back makes his tongue stick out, eyes shut, and arm go up with hand doing the devil ears.

Stoner Bear - Brownish green, eyes are bloodshot and half-closed, comes with ratty couch, video games, Doritos, and numerous accessories that get lost in the couch cushions. Belly has a cannibus leaf on it, and smoke comes out when you squeeze him.

Gypsy Bear - Blue with a sack full of children on his belly. Offers candy to children in a Transylvanian accent when you squeeze him.

Junkie Bear - Orange with needles, viles, and a crack pipe on his belly. Eyes never really open unless crack pipe accessory is placed in his
mouth.

Carrier Bear - Green with a skull and cross bones on his belly. Coughs when you squeeze him. Also comes with rubbing alcohol so children can disinfect after playing...up to their elbows.

Spartan Bear - Green and White, but his weewee is painted maize&blue to make sure he never beats it. Spartan logo on his belly, comes with couch, lighter fluid and matches. Squeeze him and he'll whine about Michigan or yell "Izzo!"

Bender Bear - Yellow with several XXX bottles on his belly. Eyes light up when he is in proximity of Trainwreck Bear.

Ozzy Bear - Black with a headless bird on his belly. When you squeeze him he calls "Sharon" or mutters incomprehensibly.

Groper Bear - Purple with 2 big hands on his belly. Face has a permanent creepy smile.

Tard Bear - Kind of colored differently all over, high forehead and a badly drawn picture of himself on his belly. Makes incomprehensible noises and then bashes things when squeezed.

What fun! Collect 'em all!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

SETH GOES BOWLING!

From Seth...

"The picture is starting to look a little clearer. We're waiting for a few games to settle the final score, but this isn't going to be the year that Oklahoma or Auburn are upset by 3-or-more-loss teams in their conference title games, and it's even less the year that UCLA beats USC, at least in football.

So provided everyone does what they're told, here's how I see the bowl matchups:

The BCS Four:
Orange: (BCS 1 v. BCS 2)
USC v. Oklahoma

Rose: (Big Ten 1 v. at large)
Michigan v. Cal

Sugar: (SEC 1 v. ACC 1 or Big East 1)
Auburn v. Miami

Fiesta: (Big East 1 v. at large)
Pittsburgh v. Utah

The New Year's Day Bowls:

Citrus: (Big Ten 2 v. SEC 2a)
Iowa v. Georgia

Gator: (Big East 2 or Notre Dame v. ACC 2)
West Virginia v. Florida State

Cotton: (Big XII 2 v. SEC 2b)
Texas v. Tennessee

Hall of Fame: (SEC 3 v. Big Ten 3)
LSU v. Wisconsin

The New Year's Eve Bowls:

Peach: (ACC 3 v. SEC 4)
Florida v. Virginia Tech

Liberty: (C-USA 1 v. Mountain West 1)
Louisville v. Boise State

Sun: (Pac-10 4 v. Big Ten 5)
Oregon State v. Purdue

Music City: (SEC 6 v. Big Ten 6)
Alabama v. Minnesota

Other Bowls of Note:

Alamo: (Big Ten 4 v. Big XII 4)
Ohio State v. Iowa State

Holiday: (Pac-10 2 v. Big XII 3)
Arizona State v. Texas A&M

Copper: (Big East 3 or Notre Dame v. Pac-10 3)
Notre Dame v. UCLA

Motor City: (MAC 2 v. Big Ten 7)
Toledo v. UConn or B.C.

Tangerine: (ACC 4 v. Big XII 5)
Virginia v. Colorado

GMAC: (C-USA 2 v. MAC 1 or WAC 1)
Memphis v. Miami (Ohio)

New Orleans: (C-USA 3 v. Sun Belt 1)
So. Mississippi v. North Texas

Few things:

-Bowls still function on choice, not standings. So when I write "Big Ten 4" it means the Alamo Bowl gets the fourth choice of bowl-eligible Big Ten schools, not that the team that finished fourth in the Big Ten gets to go. Also, teams need to accept an invitation, which they don't always do. For example, in 2002 Michigan turned down their 3rd straight invite from the Citrus Bowl, opting instead to play in the Hall of Fame (Outback) Bowl against Florida. One or two bowls get spurned each year, usually from a team with a tie-in that has a better at-large bid.

-Why is Cal suddenly fans of USC? If the Trojans lose to UCLA, USC still gets an automatic Rose Bowl berth, as they would have identical 11-1, 7-1 records with the Bears and own the tie-breaker for having beaten them in regular-season play. That would mean the Fiesta Bowl would get dibs on the lone at-large selection, nabbing Texas to replace Oklahoma. The Sugar and Fiesta Bowls would then have to split up Utah and the ACC and Big East champions among them. And #3-ranked Cal would be tossed into the Holiday Bowl, which isn't even within 24 hours of New Years Day.

-There’s some sort of contest scheduled in Orlando on December 21 called the Champs Sports Bowl. This is the Bowl Game Formerly Known as the Tangerine Bowl, which was created a few years back because the Bowl Game Originally Known as the Tangerine Bowl changed its name to the Florida Citrus Bowl. That game, the Big Ten #2 v. SEC #2 game, is now the Capital One Bowl. However, both games that used to be known as the Tangerine Bowl will still be played inside the Florida Citrus Bowl, which used to be called the Tangerine Bowl. Got all that?

-The Fiesta Bowl's little brother, the Copper Bowl, began in Tuscon, 1989, as a non-profit game. It was since bought out by the Arizona Sports Foundation (the Fiesta guys), moved to Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, and given a corporate moniker, the Insight.com Bowl. In 2002, they took off the dot-com part and invited a Pac-10 team instead of one from the Big XII, so Insight Bowl it is. The Fiesta itself started only in 1971.

-In a 12-game schedule, you need to have gone 7-5 to be bowl eligible. This year, because Northwestern, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana and Penn State all missed the mark, the Big Ten lost its 7th tie-in (the Motor City Bowl).

-The newest corporate sponsorship name change has the Humanitarian Bowl re-dubbed the MPC Computers Bowl. It will still be played on Boise State's garish blue turf.

-The Hall of Fame Bowl is better known by its corporate name, the Outback Bowl. I like the old name better.

-Liberty versus GMAC: The Liberty Bowl (held in Memphis) and the GMAC Bowl (formerly the Mobile, Ala. Bowl) are in an all-out dogfight to see who gets to be king of the have-nots, that is, which bowl gets to be the official home of the two best mid-major teams. While in recent years the GMAC has featured Ben Roethlisberger's Miami (Ohio) team, LaDanian Tomlinson's TCU squad and Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich's Marshall juggernauts, the Liberty Bowl goes all the way back to 1959 (a 7-0 Penn State victory over Alabama). It's had Bo Jackson, Doug Flutie, Lawrence Taylor, Antowain Smith, Ernie Davis, Kellen Winslow Sr., Donovan McNabb, Archie Manning, Shaun King and Terry Baker. It's the only non-BCS bowl that Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, Lou Holtz and Tom Osborne all coached a team in. Its trophy is an exact replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and was made by the same company.

What's more, Conference USA's tie-in to the Liberty takes precedence over that of the GMAC. So there really shouldn't be any contest.

But the GMAC gets first choice out of the MAC or WAC for one of its spots, and this is where it gets sticky. They don't want to take a MAC team, they want undefeated Boise State. But to replace its Mountain West Champion, the Liberty has asked Boise State, the unbeaten WAC champ, to come play in Memphis. It would be a great game: 9-1 Louisville (C-USA champ) versus 12-0 Boise. But it leaves the GMAC a little short, when by all rights, they have first dibs on Boise State. Certainly, Boise wants the Liberty more: better money, better viewership, better history, better trophy. But if they spurn the GMAC like that, the conference could lose the tie-in.

At least, that's the threat. But it's an idle one. Because everyone knows that Conference USA is getting raided by the Big East to make up for losing Miami (Fla.), V-Tech and Boston College. What the G-MAC would like to do is dump C-USA's contract (let Liberty take TCU every year) in favor of a WAC/MAC champion matchup. But that means getting a high-profile team like Boise to re-establish that connection. Meanwhile, the Liberty Bowl's goal is to become the true King of the mid-majors. Whether it be MAC, WAC, C-USA, MWC or Sun Belt, the Liberty would like to have first dibs on the top two. And getting Boise this time would be a grand coup in that direction.

Bowl History Notes:

-Defunct bowls: Our dads probably remember the Bluebonnet Bowl. We remember the PC Bowl, though, which occupied Miami's Pro Player Stadium and had a Big Ten tie-in for 3 years (high point: 8-4 Illinois in 2000, its last year). Funny; the Bluebonnet would probably be a big-time deal compared to most other sad-sack games had it stuck around. The Aloha Bowl died, but it's coming back this year as the Hawaii Bowl.

-If you think there aren't too many bowl games, keep in mind that the Big XII would send as many as eight of its 12 teams to a bowl this year. Some bowls are little better than excuses to have another home game against a good team. Basically, in the '90s the word went forth that you could invent a game in a warm stadium, get some company to pay to have you name it for them, invite a cruddy ACC team to play a ruddy SEC team and their fans would pack the stadium.

-In the '50s, there was a similar outpouring of bowl games, mostly thanks to television and an expanded national interest in football. Before that, there weren't many games to speak of.

-The Rose Bowl was the first bowl game and the only one for a number of years. But after Michigan destroyed Stanford in the first Pasadena Tournament of Roses -- the Cardinal gave up after the 3rd quarter, down 49-0 -- the Rose Festival organizers decided to make Roman-style chariot racing the official athletic sideshow until 1916.

-To understand why they're called "Bowl Games," simply look at the stadiums from 1909 to the 1950s. While a few big teams, Notre Dame and Michigan, for example, could fill Bowl-shaped stadiums, most teams could not - playing in a field that wouldn't be much different than, say, a good high school team's. The other bowl-shaped stadiums: those meant for the big postseason games: Rose (1902), Sugar (1934), Orange (1935), Sun (1935), Cotton (1937), Gator (1946), Tangerine (1947), and Liberty (1959).

-After the big four (Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton), most of the 2nd-tier bowls were non-profit games held for charity. The Associated Press would declare its national champion after the regular season and the bowl season was considered a simple extra-curricular scrimmage. In other words, a team's goal was to win its conference and that was it. Bowls were an exhibition staged to raise money for local school districts or hospitals. The road to change began in 1949, when the AP did a surplus post-bowl poll that gave Michigan the national championship instead of Notre Dame (who lost its bowl game). The national consensus at the time favored Notre Dame, but eventually the post-bowl poll came to be accepted as the official national champion.

Money became a much bigger issue to the programs when recruiting became a necessity. The '60s was the era of buying recruits, which is why SMU, Oklahoma, Miami, Michigan State and USC emerged as such a powerhouses, while old powers like Auburn, Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan and Minnesota found they couldn't rest on tradition alone to stay prominent. So we began to see bigger payouts, more corporate sponsorship, etc., so the winners could take the money and buy more recruits. Even after the NCAA put sanctions on such behavior, recruiting still required a lot of air travel, and Title IX meant that schools needed to raise more money.

Notre Dame, Penn State, and eventually Miami fans paved the way for the growing importance of a clear national champion for, as independents, these big-time programs didn't have and didn't want a conference championship to win. Their goal was to be the best in the nation. Thus, they paid more attention to the AP, encouraged the commencement of the coaches' poll, and, because they often ended up playing each other, raised the stakes in bowl games. TV and an atmosphere of commercialism in the 1980s and greater national interest - perhaps ESPN had a hand - helped the sport and its bowls emerge from that decade as a national game, with fans craving a national champion.
POOR RUBEN

Thanksgving wasn't a good week for Ruben. He was taking alotta heat for his weight, whether it was from his body or Cynthia Tucker. He was in pretty heavy.
THE BULL CRAP SYSTEM

From the Seth Archives 11/7/04...

"The BCS has annually been one year late with its changes. I think it's fair at this point to call it a failure. The problem is, we tweak it every year to "fix" it, but all we're really doing is changing the system to make it fit everyone's expectations of the previous year.

Backstory:
Historically, the Orange Bowl pitted the Big 8 champion against the best team they could invite, often Notre Dame. The Sugar Bowl was for the SEC champion to play an at-large team. The Fiesta Bowl started, ironically enough, to showcase WAC teams (this was when BYU was good and Arizona State hadn't yet joined the Pac-10). Begun in 1971, it broke records for payout. By the '80s, it was simply an invitational with no specific conference tie-ins. However, it hosted some huge games, like No. 1 Miami v. No. 2 Penn State in 1987. The Cotton Bowl owned the tie-in to the Southwestern Conference, pitting them against, again, an invited team.

As you can gather, there was fierce competition for at-large teams, while often bowls would be blowouts as top-rated teams attended their respective bowl games. So in 1991, the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls formed the Bowl Coalition, keeping tie-ins. The champions of the ACC, Big East, Big 8, SWC, and SEC, along with Notre Dame and two at-large teams would annually fill the 8 spots.

After the Big 8 and SWC merged into the Big XII, the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls created the Bowl Alliance. Under this system, tie-ins were abolished in favor of rotating a national championship game between the three bowls, unless a Big Ten or Pac 10 team finished #1 or #2. Anyway, this was the system that pitted #2 Nebraska against #3 Tennessee in 1997, while #1 Michigan played #7 Washington State in the Rose Bowl. After the Huskers blew out a higher-ranked opponent, the Coaches' Poll - perhaps in recognition of outgoing Neb. coach Tom Osborne, perhaps in anger over the Rose Bowl's aloofness that other conferences a chance for a national championship game, voted the Big XII champions the #1 team. The Big Ten was, well, pi$$ed. Michigan should have been considered the clear-cut national champs. It was the opening the Bowl Alliance needed to add the Rose Bowl. The answer? The BCS, in which strength of schedule, polls, computer rankings, tie-ins, conference champions, and invitationals could all be used. We'd have a national championship and 4 huge games to televise.

1998:
Changes: Well, the whole thing was brand new.
Game: Tennessee was undefeated, a lock for the BCS championship, but Florida State, Kansas State, Ohio State, UCLA, Arizona and Wisconsin all had just one loss. Tulane was undefeated. FSU was #2 in both polls, however, and thus supposedly deserving. Tennessee won.

Under Bowl Alliance: Tennessee would have played FSU in an AP #1 v. #2 matchup. Rose still would have had Wisconsin v. UCLA. So as far as calling it a success, nothing really changed.

1999:
Changes: Computer models were asked to lessen influence of margin of victory due to accusation of FSU running up the score against weaker opponents. Two more computer polls were added. Number of losses were added to the final score.
Game: Wire-to-wire #1 Florida State beat unbeaten Virginia Tech and Michael Vick to claim an obvious title. 1-loss Nebraska thought its much tougher schedule should have let it in. Michigan State thought it deserved an Orange Bowl slot over Michigan (who beat Big Ten champs Wisconsin) for beating the Wolverines and finishing with identical records.

Under Bowl Alliance: Florida State would have still played Vick Tech. Wisconsin still would have played Stanford. Michigan still would have played Alabama. Tennessee still would have played Kansas State. Michigan State still would have been Michigan's whiny little brother.

2000:
Changes: Two most extreme computer scores for each team would be dropped from the average. Strength of schedule now also includes winning % of teams who played the teams you played and the value for the teams you lost to means more than those you beat (so Nebraska isn't killed for losing to a really good team).
Game: Undefeated Oklahoma was a sure lock. But Florida State, ranked 3rd in both polls and having lost to Miami early in the season got the nod over the Hurricanes because of their strength of schedule, causing mass anger and confusion in Southern Florida. Citizens demanded a recount.

Under Bowl Alliance: Oklahoma would have played Miami instead of FSU. BCS promoters wouldn't have had the fairly easy task of explaining that their system realized that FSU had a harder schedule and lost only to a much better team than Miami lost to.

2001:
Changes: Again, the FSU margin-of-victory problem was addressed by polls weakening it as a factor. Also, the BCS added a quality-win component to award a team that beats another top-15 team a number of points based on how high up the team they played stands at the end of the season. So now if you're going to lose, do it to a bad team early.

Game: Everything would have been fine. Miami was a clear-cut, undefeated #1, Nebraska a clear-cut, undefeated #2, until Colorado blew up everything by blowing up Nebraska in the final game of the season and blowing up Texas in the Big XII championship game. What's more, the heir-apparent Tennessee Volunteers lost their SEC title game to barely-ranked LSU. The 2-loss Buffaloes jumped to #3 in the polls, leaping 1-loss Oregon who had their own eyes beset upon the championship game. Colorado thought they should go, their hefty quality win component bringing them within .05 of Nebraska (who got the win in computer polls that calculated margin of victory). Oregon thought the Big XII was overrated and the Pac-10 under-appreciated. What's more, it was the Rose Bowl's turn to host the National Championship, and 10-1 Illinois wanted to play in Pasadena - it's not like they were going to be back anytime soon, right? Well, Miami killed Nebraska, Oregon trounced Colorado, invited-only-because-they-won-the-SEC-title-game LSU ran over Illinois in Louisiana. Florida killed Maryland. The BCS was at its height of unpopularity.

Under Bowl Alliance: The Rose Bowl would have pitted Illinois against Oregon in a battle of 1-losses. Miami would have killed whomever it faced, in this case Colorado, for the National Championship. LSU could have faced off against Maryland in a battle of also-rans, while the Fiesta Bowl featured a powerhouse program matchup in Nebraska v. Florida.

2002:
Changes: Well, for one, the margin of victory was eliminated. Two computer polls were replaced with one new one, with the worst score for each team dropped. Quality wins were now only calculated for the top ten BCS finishers instead of the top 15. A minimum 9-3 record and top-12 BCS finish was placed on teams hoping to get an at-large bid. Also added was a tie-breaking plan, beginning with head-to-head results, then going to who beat the best team, then strength of schedule ranking.

Game: Miami featured mostly the same team of future-NFL stars that romped through last year, and it did the same again except for a close (wide right) game against FSU. Meanwhile, Ohio State won games with defense and at the last minute, but finished undefeated as well. In a thrilling triple overtime game, Ohio State triumphed in what had to be considered a major upset victory to win the National Championship. The BCS claimed victory. However, complaints abounded about how the Rose Bowl was forced to take Oklahoma after the Orange Bowl snagged Iowa to replace Miami.

Under Bowl Alliance: In the Rose Bowl, Ohio State would have played 1-loss Washington State, the Cougers' only loss coming in a blowout to, yes, Ohio State early in the season. Miami could have invited Iowa to be its sacrificial lamb (the Hawkeyes were ranked #3 in both polls but #4 in teh BCS) or just played SEC Champs Georgia. Oklahoma and USC would have squared off in a grand Fiesta Bowl. Georgia (or Iowa) and Notre Dame or Kansas State (probably ND even though KSU was ranked 6 in both polls) would likely have matched up in the Sugar Bowl.

2003:
Changes: With a successful year (finally) the focus turned to how, according to U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, "it looks like a rigged deal." In other words, the little guys weren't getting in and that was unfair. BYU grad Senator Orinn Hatch led a Washington intervention to make the BCS change its ways. To answer this, the polls guaranteed a spot for any team finishing 6 or higher in the final BCS standings (left-out KSU was 7th in '02). Lots of things were discussed, but little actual changes were made for the season except to the revenue system.

Game: Again, a sure thing was ruined by the Big XII championship game, in which undefeated Oklahoma, who'd romped through the entire season, was upturned by Kansas State. The AP and Coaches' new #1, USC, had lost to Cal and thus the computer polls had them ranked under AP and Coaches' #2 LSU and #3 Oklahoma. The Sooners and Tigers got to play in the Sugar Bowl, with USC taking on #4-ranked Big Ten champs Michigan in the Rose Bowl as the BCS #3 and 4 teams. When USC and LSU won, the coaches were forced to vote for LSU, but the AP chose USC, creating exactly what the BCS tried to do away with: a split ballot.

Under Bowl Alliance: #1 USC would have played Michigan in the Rose Bowl and won an undisputed National Championship. LSU, the SEC champion, would have hosted at-large Oklahoma in a classic Sugar Bowl matchup. The Fiesta Bowl would have had Kansas State, the Big XII champ, and Ohio State (as they did). And lo and behold, just as under the BCS, Big East Champ Miami would have played ACC champ Florida State in the Orange Bowl. So the only difference is we'd have an undisputed instead of disputed national champ.

2004:
Changes: Three polls were dropped, including the infamous New York Times poll that seemed to have all sorts of teams mixed up. Notre Dame had its deal questioned, and it may not be re-upped after the '04 season. But most of all, the polls became a full one-third each of the BCS standings, which are all percentage-based. No points for losses, no points for quality wins, just two parts polls and one part computer nutjobs, all but one of whom have Mr. Bojangles and Boise State ranked above Michigan.

Game Predictions: There's going to be some angry people if USC and Oklahoma square off in the Orange while undefeated SEC champ Auburn gets Sugar and West Virginia, undefeated Big Ten champ Wisconsin gets Cal in the Rose Bowl, and the Fiesta gets stuck with undefeated WAC champ Utah and Virginia.

Under Bowl Alliance: Undefeated Wisconsin plays undefeated #1 USC in a classic Rose Bowl. The Fiesta gets to pit undefeateds Oklahoma and Auburn against each other. The Sugar hosts a Big East-ACC grudge match between Virginia and West Virginia, while "we lost to #1 and #2 then ran the table" Cal and Texas square off in the Orange Bowl. Or, Cal and Michigan. Or Michigan and Texas. Or Utah and Georgia, Georgia and Cal, Georgia and Texas, Michigan and Texas, Michigan and Utah, whatever. In the end, if USC won the Rose Bowl, the polls would pick them the National Champs. If Wisconsin won, the winner of Oklahoma/Auburn would probably get the trophy. So it goes.

It's funny, now that we made the polls instead of scientific factors decide, the polls have gone haywire, picking Georgia as high as 5th in the Coaches' poll. Right now, if Oklahoma and Auburn both lose their championship games, the national championship would be a Cal v. USC rematch. The polls aren't perfect. But the BCS system gets less so every year as it overhauls itself to make the previous year's should-be result whatever everyone thought it should be. They don't believe in it. If they did, they would say that the computer polls and quality wins, etc. from earlier versions meant that even though pollsters liked sunny Southern California, the teams that played the best seasons against the best competition were Oklahoma and Auburn. Now, we've got the polls rigged for USC, with Arizona State, Virginia Tech and California vastly overrated in order to keep USC ranked over three undefeateds who've played harder schedules (except Wisconsin). They're overrating Texas to keep Oklahoma up there, too. While the human pollsters do what they can to keep Utah away from the magical #6 spot, the computer polls completely leave out the fact that Boise State beating 3-5 Southern Methodist University is not better than Wisconsin upturning 2-6 Illinois.

Are the computers nutjobs? Well, y'huh. Want proof? They currently, on average, have 2-loss Arizona State ranked 6th. That's right, 6th.

One computer poll that Dukes us both in the f@rt box:
1. USC

2. Oklahoma

3. California (1-loss team ranked above 5 undefeateds)

4. Boise State (WHAT???)
5. Auburn (Apparently it's better to beat Idaho than Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and Florida)

6. Texas (Haven't played a single Top-25 team except Oklahoma who shut 'em out)

7. Arizona State (2 losses, but somehow better than 3 undefeateds, one of which in
the Big Ten)

8. Wisconsin

9. Utah (Where's Georgia?)

10. Virginia Tech (What? 2 losses. 2 LOSSES!)

11. Louisville (Seriously, where's 1-loss Georgia?)

12. Miami-Fla. (2 losses, neither against above teams. What gives?)

13. Virginia (1-loss team that should win the ACC is behind Virginia Tech?)

14. Florida State (2 losses, and where's 1-loss Georgia?)

15. Texas A&M (Okay, 3 losses. Where's 1-loss Michigan who's been rolling since early in the season?)

16. West Virginia (This poll $crewed the Mountaineers the LEAST among computers)

17. Michigan (Ah, here's the 1-loss powerhouse who fell only to a ranked rival early
in the season)

18. Oklahoma State (The 3-loss team MUST be better than 1-loss Georgia. The computer said so)

19. Iowa (Again, 3 losses. This would be about right if they weren't still above an AP Top-10 team)

20. Geor....ha ha, just kidding UTEP, as in the University of Texas-El Paso Miners.

21. Tennessee (This poll is not very kind to people who lose to Notre Dame. The Vols were also beaten by:)

22. Georgia (Yeah, I can't get my head around it either).

It doesn't list the last 3 to earn points, but here's some teams that didn't make the cut:

LSU (Lose to two Pac-10 teams with one loss between them, you get ranked #7. In the SEC you get duked.)

Boston College (Beating Notre Dame is worse than losing to them, which at least isn't as bad as being:)

Notre Dame"

Sunday, November 28, 2004

THE FILIBUSTER

George Will has yet, another great column about protecting the filibuster from Republican tampering. He also makes a strong argument about its place in our democracy. Sure it would be great to get Bush's judicial nominations through the senate. However, I like Will's alternative plan better...

"The president should renominate all 10 appellate-court nominees who have been filibustered, and he should vow, like General Grant, to "fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer." Norman Ornstein, a student of these things, says Senate Republicans could force Democrats to conduct the kind of filibuster Southern Democrats conducted against civil-rights legislation in the 1950s—talking around the clock, the obstructionists and their opponents sleeping on cots in the Capitol, the Senate paralyzed. There has never been such a spectacle in the era of C-Span and saturation journalism on cable 24 hours a day. Do Democrats want to make 2005 the year of living dangerously? Seventeen of their 44 seats are at risk in 2006—five of them in states Bush just carried."


I thought Frist shoulda pulled this in 2004. It would have exposed Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer for the partisan obstructionists they really are. Nothing like bad publicity in an election year. Just ask FORMER Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
BASKETBRAWL VII

This story seems to keep rolling, and so does the Dar. But if you're not all brawled out, take a look at these 2 ESPN Page 2 pieces. The first is an enraging and contradictory defense of Artest. Skip Bayless' argument is that Artest wasn't so bad for only throwning one punch in the sphere of the fans. While he was completely in the right for punching the fat kid that walked onto the court. Yeah, nothing like the media continuing to fawn over a superstar and look the other way when it comes to their bad behavior. I think after reading this, ole Skip is gonna have a place on Pigpen's "Face Punch" list.

The second column, is another delightful piece from the Sports Guy, as he retires this one to the TV Hall of Fame, early. At least he has the sanity to see Artests' actions as criminal, compared to the Skip-tard.
THE CZAR IS BACK

With the sudden retirement of Hubie Brown, The Memphis Grizzlies are looking for a new head coach. It looks like they are close to finding their replacement in the old Atlanta and Cleveland coach, Mike Fratello. It's great to see the Czar of the telestrater coaching again. I just hope they don't pair Marv Albert with Bill Walton again. But on the other hand, it was great when Albert was dropping backhanded comments on Walton constantly. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad afterall.
HILLARY WATCH

Being a great political mind, Dick Morris was able to see right through Hillary's campaign as she positions herself for a 2008 run at the presidency. Think the Bill Clinton library isn't about Hillary '08? Then ask about the donations...

"How typical of the Clintons to refuse to release the names of the library donors or the amount of their contributions. And how exemplary of their shady ethics are the known contributors: Denise Rich and others who benefited from Bill's outrageous presidential pardons.

Give money directly to a president, and it's a bribe. Contribute to a campaign, a party or a 527 Committee, and the use of the cash is severely restricted by law. But donations to a presidential library can be used in any way the Library Board allows. And Bill can replace the board anytime he chooses. Sure, the library can't spend money on overtly political purposes, but it can provide the staff and creature comforts the former president and his candidate/wife require."


Yeah, I can't wait for her to run again so we can have one shady Clinton serving scandal after another.
WHAT DIVERSITY?

A while back I sent Seth the essay that inspired this George Will column. It takes a look at why there are no conservatives in academia, while taking a look at the group think psychology that turns universities into havens of one-party ideology...

"Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations — except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome. They do indeed cultivate diversity — in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought."


Of course Seth went on to explain to me how there is no such thing as a conservative idea. However, if you have an open mind, check out the column. It's a good summary of the ideas put forth in the essay.
IF YOU DIG SEINFELD...

To celebrate the release of the first 3 seasons on DVD, ESPN's Page 3 gives counts down the top 10 sports moments in that show about nothing.

My personal favorite is #4, when Costanza tries to get fired by the Yankees...

"Attention, Steinbrenner and front-office morons! Your triumphs mean nothing. You all stink. You can sit on it, and rotate! This is George Costanza. I fear no reprisal. Extension 5-1-7-0."
HAUNTING SPECTER

Well it looks like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was able to scare Arlen Specter enough into a position that would be acceptable for him to assume the judiciary chairmanship. It took a bit of wrangling but Specter finally came around. However, it remains to be seen what he will pull when he comes face to face with Bush's judicial appointments (quite possibly a Supreme Court position also). It will be interesting to see how things unfold. Check out Bob Novak's column for a good rundown of Specter's shenanigans.
CAN'T GET YOUR HEAD AROUND IT WATCH

Only in Japan could they turn putting your finger up somebody's butt into a video game. *shaking head*