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, August 04, 2007

QUOTE OF THE MOMENT

Wilson - My buddy drank my piss once.
QUOTE OF THE MOMENT

Gayson - The only time I ever pooped my pants is from the Richards.

PIC OF THE DAY

In most situations in life it is important to asure that the kids are secured away in the wee small hours.

Friday, August 03, 2007

TONDAR'S DREAM

This week John Schuerholz traded away five young prospects -- including highly regarded switch-hitting catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- for the biggest catch of the trading season, the Rangers' Mark Teixeira. He traded away a young starting pitcher, Kyle Davies, for reliever Octavio Dotel. He traded two lefties for another lefty reliever, Royce Ring.

It was an awfully lot to give up, especially considering that Dotel might not be around next year and Teixeira is a free agent after 2008. And Schuerholz isn't denying that. The Braves gave up a ton.

But Schuerholz has the perfect comeback, too. The Braves traded those players because, unlike so many other teams, they could. They had the players to trade. And now they're a better team because of it.

If John Donovan is correct, we may see Tondar's dream matchup for the world series as the Detroit Tigers face my Atlanta Braves. You can bet I would rock on down to the Ted to throw the chop if that ever went down. How sweet would that be to see Cy Young winner John Smoltz beat the team that traded him away so many years ago? Plus it would represent my interest in baseball coming full circle. From the 1984 Tigers to the 1991 and 1995 Braves, to the 2005 and 2006 heartbreaking playoff exits, all my memorable baseball moments have revolved around these 2 teams.
PIC OF THE DAY

Don't ever forget we built this city on both rock AND roll.
AUTISM TEST

In psychology, autism is a blanket term used to describe a variety of mental disorders. In many ways it is a broad sliding scale with many different degrees of functionality. They all get pretty much grouped together because science has just begun to understand how the brain works. Though this isn't all that scientific, this Asperger Syndrome test is an interesting indicator of how one's brain may focus and how that individual relates to the other humans.

I scored a 13.

Women average 14.

Men average 18.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

PIC OF THE DAYYeah, I'm the King of Scrabble.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISTRESS ANGELAYou keep handing out come hither looks and I just may.
PIC OF THE DAYThis could be the week I check out at work. Wave goodbye, Kim.
GROWING THE BIG 10: PT II

From Seth...

I. IT WON'T CHANGE MICHIGAN'S RECORD

If we're gonna go 9-3, we're gonna go 9-3

If your strategy is to have Michigan expose the BCS pretenders in non-conference play, you're forgetting what makes the poseurs poseurs in the first place: West Virginia wouldn't get caught dead with a Michigan on their schedule! You'll get those mega-matchups between conferences only when both programs think they'll have an unbeatable team, since it's the conference, not the schools, who get the most money from those No. 1 v. No. 2 games. The exceptions are Notre Dame -- because their rivals are really good -- and when some team who scheduled us to get notoriety gets really good out of nowhere. Otherwise, that 2-year Texas/Ohio State gig was a major rarity. And the mechanism that created it -- a Big XII rule that allowed the conference to schedule games -- has been eliminated. If the big programs play each other, it's almost always because of a pre-established rivalry like Florida/FSU, or Notre Dame/USC.

Besides, it's easier for an A- team to lose to a B+ non-conference team than a B+ conference rival -- the more teams know each other, the less flukey games become. So Michigan is better off playing Wisconsin than WVU anyway.

Look at that schedule again:

Michigan Schedule:
> > Aug 31 @Wisconsin
> > Sept 6 ILLINOIS
> > Sept 13 NOTRE DAME
> > Sept 20 INDIANA (homecoming)
> > Sept 27 @ Purdue
> > Oct 3 @ Michigan State
> > Oct 10 PENN STATE
> > Oct 17 MINNESOTA
> > Oct 24 bye week
> > Oct 31 IOWA
> > Nov 7 @ Northwestern
> > Nov 14 OHIO STATE


How different is that, really, from real 2007 schedule:

> > Sept 1 APPALACHIAN STATE
> > Sept 8 OREGON
> > Sept 15 NOTRE DAME
> > Sept 22 PENN STATE
> > Sept 29 @ Northwestern
> > Oct 6 EASTERN MICHIGAN
> > Oct 13 PURDUE
> > Oct 20 @ Illinois
> > Oct 27 MINNESOTA
> > Nov 3 @ Michigan State
> > Nov 10 @ Wisconsin
> > Nov 17 OHIO STATE


Instead of Appalachian State, EMU and Oregon, I have Michigan playing Iowa and Indiana. Really, how much better is Iowa than Oregon? And honestly I'd take Appalachian State over Indiana right now (they're a Div IAA but they dominate AA like Marshall used to). I've also gone back to 11 games, which sounds unfeasible considering how much the NCAA is money-oriented, but actually isn't for the Big Ten, where the idea of a game-cap at 11 has gained traction (a few years ago they trotted in Bo and Lloyd and JoePa and Barry Alvarez and Kirk Ferentz who all advocated 11 games).

My point is, against the 2007 schedule, the Wolverines are expected to win every game and compete for a national championship. Why would 2015 be any different against a schedule of similar difficulty?


II. THE BIG EAST IS ABSOLUTELY A JOKE

How this would play nationally and in bowl selection

I agree the Big East is a joke. Everyone thinks the Big East is a joke. Why are you re-stating that the Big East is a joke? They know they're a joke. And they're a joke partially because they use the James plan. They have just six conference games, and schedule the rest versus the underdogs of the other conferences (Michigan State v. Rutgers, Pitt v. Baylor, etc.) They're not a joke because the Big East champ always has 3 losses. They're a joke because they use every trick in the book to avoid 3-loss champions, and still end up with them anyway!

Michigan never has to worry about its ranking, unless we have several 7-5 seasons after Lloyd retires, or worse. Your worry is, I understand, that we'll get shut out of a National Championship game like Auburn did when USC and Oklahoma met. Yes, Auburn's schedule in the SEC was harder than USC's or Oklahoma's. But the 2005 Trojans and Sooners were also two of the best teams college football ever saw. The rankings reflected that, not whom they played.

That being said, if you beat Michigan and Ohio State and have 1 loss, you're in a BCS game, plain and simple. If not, you don't belong. If you look at last year, Michigan had a good case for a rematch against Ohio State for the national championship. But the voters looked at how the SEC beat each other up, and that's why they picked Florida. Brought up again and again in those discussions wasn't how Florida themselves played a I-AA opponent, but how then 11-1 Wisconsin (losing only to Michigan) played a I-AA opponent and DIDN'T play Ohio State. They used that to reason that 9-3 Arkansas was a bigger win for Florida than the Badgers were for Michigan. It shows that if your 2nd-place team is 9-3 against a tough schedule instead of 11-1 versus cupcakes, the voters not only notice, but weigh the 9-3 team higher.

Another example of this is Oklahoma in 2004, when their conference championship game spoiled a perfect season, but the strength of schedule and their previous dominance carried the Sooners to the National Championship game against LSU, while weak-scheduled but AP No. 1 USC got shut out.

It was the SEC's strength, not Florida's, that impressed the voters last year, or perhaps more accurately provided the excuse for bumping up the Gators to get the matchup they wanted after USC lost. It was the Big XII's strength that got Eric Crouch's 2-loss Nebraska squad the nod over Joey Harrington's 11-1 Oregon in 2001. The voters know who you played, and who your opponents played.

As for a hypothetical 8-4 Purdue who might have gone 9-3 if they could have skipped Michigan or Ohio State, you have to remember THEIR RANKING DOESN'T MATTER IN BOWL SELECTION. The Big Ten's bowl representation is a take-turn invitational, based on the conference record (other conferences use total schedule). So if Purdue is 3rd in the conference standings, they will most likely be the 3rd team from the Big 10 selected, no matter their final record. If Michigan and Ohio State are invited to BCS bowls, an 8-4 Wisconsin team or an 11-1 Wisconsin team will still go to the Citrus Bowl.


III. WHO CARES ABOUT A BIG TEN GAME?

We have an answer: The Big Ten Network

The launch this year of the Big Ten network has created a new marketing paradigm for Big Ten college football. You don't have to care about what people in L.A. are watching -- you have to win a larger share of the Great Lakes States.

The network isn't national, but regional, and it's taking from ESPN many of the games (Purdue/Wisconsin, for example) that used to be broadcast through ESPN regional channels. Under the ESPN system, ABC and NBC and ESPN itself would get first crack at the games (because they can pay more), then ESPN would fill up its partner channels with smaller games. But since they had a national focus, ESPN wanted to purchase as few games as possible. They had regional broadcasts galore, but more and more, the network was focusing on raising hype for the game broadcast on ESPN2 so they wouldn't have to regionalize that station, and then games with big regional appeal would be left untelevised, or relegated to ESPNU in order to force fans to call their cable companies and beg for it. Last year, ESPN cut its number of regions for "regional broadcasts" from four (Big Ten, Atlantic, SEC, West) to three (Northeast, SEC, West). Even major Big Ten games were thus getting pushed aside for Virginia Tech/Florida State.

The Big Ten Network steps into that market. A huge number of people in Wisconsin want to watch a Badgers game. A huge number of people in Indiana want to watch a Purdue game over any other on TV. Enough people in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota will want to watch Purdue/Wisconsin more than any other game (despite ESPN's hype-fest), or will at least flip to that channel during commercials, that in the end you have as many people watching, in a more concetrated market, as you would a broadcast of USC v. Purdue on ESPN 2.

The question isn't who outside the Big Ten Network's region cares so much as who inside the region doesn't! That's why I bring this up now: the new network makes the financial considerations favor regional rivalries. Who outside Michigan and Oregon cares about Michigan and Oregon? Why not play Iowa? Who outside Washtenaw County cares about an October 6 game against Eastern Michigan??? Why not play Indiana?

Who will broadcast a Big Ten game? The answer last year would be "ESPN will still put it on ESPNU." That's not true anymore.

There is a lot of untapped value in the Big Ten that other conferences don't have. These schools are very well known, especially in the Midwest. They have huge numbers of alumni and non-alumni fans in their states. They have a lot of history and traditions, having played, on average, almost a century of football (twice that of even the SEC). They have a true regionality to the conference (Michigan residents
matriculate to and from Wisconsion quite often, but few Boston College grads ever thought of attending Clemson, FSU or N.C. State).

And they have great, long-standing trophy rivalries, somewhat diminshed by the reign of ESPN, but not hard to bring back when you have a channel starved for on-topic weekly programming and focused on promoting regional games.

This one's for the Oaken Bucket! Here comes the Week of Paul Bunyan's Axe (and a Slab of Bacon)! Learn the tale of the Floyd of Rosedale! Sound off the Purdue Cannon!
Winner Takes the Heartland Trophy! Is the Paul Bunyan Trophy as big and ugly as the rivalry? Where'd they get the Illi-buck? Whose Old Brass Spittoon is it anyway?
The Governors Bell The Land Grant Trophy The Little Brown Jug!!!

I bet you guys didn't recognize half of those now, but if you're living in the Midwest and watching the Big Ten network, I'm willing to bet you soon will.

Right now, most of these trophies are not played for every year, subject to frequent two-year hiatuses due to the conference's rotating schedule. With the promotional link re-established, it would behoove them to actually hold the games. The Little Brown Jug is already all over the promotional material the new network is sending out on the P.R. wire. I can't see how you sell this network without them. So when Minnesota falls off of Michigan's schedule again (I think it's 2009), the network could stand to lose a key part of its marketing campaign.


IV MAYBE THIS IS WHAT YOU MEANT TO SAY

Two more conference games per season equals 20 losses on Big Ten records
every year.

The point you're not making, if you want to critique my plan, is that by doing this, we're effectively adding 20 more conference games, and thus 20 more losses spread out among the teams. If Michigan State and Northwestern meet, one Big Ten team is going to have a loss, whereas if MSU plays Rutgers and Northwestern plays TCU, you could have two wins.

But it works both ways. If Indiana plays Northwestern every year, one of those teams will at least have one victory. So we're guaranteeing that there will be 20 victories in the conference that were not previously assured, and guaranteeing there will be 20 losses in the conference that were not previously inevitable.

So the question becomes: are we losing more wins or cutting our losses?

The answer is, we're losing wins. Last year, we were 35-17 outside of the conference. We set a modern-era record in 2003 at 30-14. Between 2000 and 2006, the conference sits at exactly .550 against non-Big Ten opponents, and that number rises to almost .650 when you take out bowl games. The non-conference slate across the Big Ten has been getting weaker, particularly since there's no Texas on anyone's schedule (four
teams play Notre Dame this year, and that's the toughest opponent anyone has). This year, Big Ten teams will play more I-AA teams than teams ranked in the preseason Top 25. And with the easier teams comes a better non-conference record. DUH!

Going to a 12-game schedule rather than 11-game will lessen this effect, of course, since teams could still schedule two weak opponents before the Big Ten season (so those who play Notre Dame don't get killed for it). But even with just one non-conference game per year, I think the Big Ten won't come out with all that many more losses. Consider we have 11 non-conference games across the conference, of which we will win at the same .650 clip. So all told we end up 7-4 non-conf, and 27-24 in the games that would have been non-conf. before we went to the 10-game Big Ten season. That's really not a huge drop. Significant, but not huge. And when you consider we won't be playing such crappy opponents anymore, I think the respect factor of a tough schedule will compensate.

V. WHO WINS, WHO LOSES
Michigan will be fine, but Minnesota and MSU get duked

It's not the Michigans and Ohio States who you need to worry about, nor so much the Wisconsins and Iowas and Penn States who might otherwise sneak into a BCS bowl without having played UofM and OSU. AP and Coaches voters know who you played and who you didn't. If you want to be in a BCS bowl, you have to beat the best in your conference. What National Champion can you point to in the history of colllege football who played a weak schedule? Perhaps FSU in 1999, except after an early season versus Duke and N.C. and Vanderbilt they played Steve Spurrier's Gators and beat Michael Vick in the Sugar Bowl.

The tradeoff for the top Big Ten teams is that we can't have as many home games. NCAA rules demand teams switch off who's home and away, except they allow you to "move" a game for "extunating circumstances," to the away team's field, provided the home team is compensated for their share of seating. This has become exploited to the point that when Michigan plays EMU this year, there's nothing that a fan will be able to see to say it was Eastern's turn to host. We basically buy off their home rights, and they're happy to do it for the exposure. This year, Michigan has 8 home games. Under my plan, they will have 6 or 7, depending on where they play Notre Dame. We'd be giving up that extra home game, which is why Bill Martin isn't behind Bo and Lloyd on this. But honestly, it's unfair anyway that a team play 8 of its 12 games at home, while Eastern Michigan ends up playing just FOUR games at Rynearson Stadium this year (NCAA rules actually still count the Michigan game as a home game so they can do that -- ludicrous!). Yes, it's nice for us, but the practice should go, for that reason alone.

It's the middle/bottom of the Big Ten who will hate a 10-game conference schedule. If you're Michigan, you can beat anybody. Northwestern and Indiana shouldn't mind, since they were getting picked on by Oklahoma and the like, or losing to TCU in front of 10 people -- a Big Ten opponent brings much more prestige and interest, and gets them broadcast. But if you're Minnesota, in the middle of the conference, you can end up with a 4-7 team that would have been 7-5 and bowl eligible had they played two weak WAC teams instead of Penn State and Purdue.

Except when Minnesota went 7-5 against crummy MAC and WAC teams in 2003 (6-0 to start the season), they ended up unranked, ridiculed, and lost to a bad team in a bowl game that fared so poorly it was folded up afterwards. (The best that could be said of that team was how they played against Michigan, except you could also say they're the only team who will ever give up a rushing touchdown of over 20 yards to John Navarre!)

Given past seasons, however, that Minnesota team actually would have likely still gone 7-5 -- non-conf teams have a way of sneaking up on you because you're not familiar with them. Yes, right now, statistically, it's possible for every Big Ten team to sweep their non-conference games and send a team that went 2-6 in the conference to the Motor City Bowl. But these things seem to even out -- Indiana draws Michigan State (a trophy game, by the way) instead of Oklahoma, while Minnesota gets Northwestern and Illinois added each year.

Here's how I see it playing out: right now, Illinois and Minnesota are getting good; Iowa, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin continue to be competitive, Michigan and Ohio State are about as good as they've ever been and perrenial national powerhouses; and Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern are struggling. What you'll see, then, is another loss on the record of Wisconsin and Penn State, with Minnesota and Illinois replacing Purdue and Iowa as bowl teams in perhaps two years. We'll lose that off-year when the No. 7 Big Ten team has a winning record, but you'll gain more cred for those who end up over the hump.

Because it would add losses to the middle teams, however, those teams who end up below .500 could get their momentum crushed, thus creating a progressively greater disparity between the haves and have-nots. Nationally, this plays VERY well, as we've seen with the SEC (who have six great teams carrying six very mediocre teams). But it would suck to be Michigan State.


VI. FINALE

Again, it's the new network that makes this feasible

And all of this works because we now have a network exclusively devoted to Big Ten games. Before, Indiana had to offer themselves as sacrifice to Oklahoma to get on TV before October, and then it would be on an "ESPN extra" station (when they buy out local access channel), or ESPNU, which isn't offered in most areas still. ESPN doesn't care about a game that will only do well regionally -- they only buy the rights once so they go for whatever has the most national appeal. But the Big Ten Network does; it will let ABC and NBC and ESPN and Fox haggle over the Michigan and Ohio State games, but will bring Indiana/Minnesota to the Midwest. And people in Minnesota and Indiana want to watch that game.

Effectively, the network will go after 4.5 million viewers by getting 20 percent of viewership across two states, and will promote that by emphasizing rivalries, whereas ESPN will want a game that can scour 5 million by getting 1 percent of viewership across the country, and will promote it by creating Heisman hype for a player.

So the BigTen network will want more Big Ten programming, will make more money with more conference games. They'll want Michigan marching in behind a band playing "The Victors" to Bloomington and Evanston like big bad monsters amidst a mass of Crimson or Purple true believers, not a sacrificial lamb against whom some Big 12 stud can wrack up crazy numbers. It means the market will want the best parts of college football. Let's just give it to them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

PIC OF THE DAYIt's cool you visit guy, but none of this in my house.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

PIC OF THE DAYIt looks like we will be having Tonnaroo v2.2 this weekend. Though like one of the classic dicks of rock and roll, it's the same name with a whole different group of douchebags (except for Gayson who luckily missed Tonnaroo Too).
PIC OF THE DAY

Olivia's always a big help to have along on any adventure.