Tuesday, January 31, 2012


According to the LA Times and their sources, Peyton Manning may be done playing in the NFL. This never would have happened if it weren't for Rob Lowe.

But seriously, I hope Manning can come back and coach. And also, I hope that Rob Lowe will pick lottery numbers for me.

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Links of the Day 1/31/12

Last day of the month, only a couple of more days until the Super Bowl. Also, it might hit 50 in Minneapolis.

The real value of the Joel Zumaya signing.

Jerry Kill doing what many want him to do in recruiting.

The 2012 bracketbusters has been announced. Love the Bracketbusters.

Mercer 75, Florida Gulf Coast 66 - Mercer wins a rematch in Fort Myers against FGCU, but the Eagles were much more competitive at home.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Here is a video to get through your Monday

Yesterday, there were 2 All Star Games, a lot of women's basketball and a couple of NBA games. You can't possibly expect me to come up with anything to say about that. So, here is a video of a rhino attacking a car


Links of the Day 1/30/12

Almost done with January. Pitchers and Catchers report next month, and the season starts 2 months after that.

A cool story about Tony Oliva getting his 1987 World Series jersey back.

Someone thinks these Missouri-Kansas tickets are a deal.

The Big Lead was sold again.

Nothing for me, thanks.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Say, the Gophers might make the tournament

And by "might" I mean, if they finish .500 the rest of the season, they almost certainly will. Despite knuckleheads like Jim Souhan complaining that Tubby Smith hasn't done anything (you know, besides getting 4 star recruits to sign with the team and increasing the season win total threefold since he's been here), the Gophers, without star inside presence Trevor Mbakwe are destined to make the tournament.
The team is 16-6, with a 10-5 record since Mbakwe went down (on top of a more difficult schedule), and only two of those games can be considered embarrassing. Sure, losing to Iowa is tough, but the Hawkeyes also beat Wisconsin in Madison and Michigan at home. The Gophers also only lost that game by two.
Minnesota's two worst losses, really, are at home to Purdue and a blowout loss at Michigan State. The non conference loss to Dayton coincided with Mbakwe's injury, and they took Illinois to two overtimes and made Michigan play all 40 minutes.
The schedule the rest of the way for Minnesota is tough, certainly, but I believe they shouldn't have a problem hitting 20 wins (at least) and earning a ticket to the Big Dance. I'm not the only one, either. ESPN, CBS and NBC have Minnesota in their projected brackets. Not only that, but CBS has the Gophers as a 9 seed.
It might not be what Souhan wants to hear, but Tubby Smith has done a good job coaching this team through serious adversity. See you in March

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Links of the Day 1/29/12

Yeah, it's a Sunday without football. The Pro Bowl definitely doesn't count.

Sidney Crosby has more problems than originally though.

Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open early this morning. 

Tim Tebow was accidentally at a porn convention.

North Dakota State 78, Oakland 75 - Tough, gritty win for NDSU over an always strong Oakland team.
Minnesota 77, Illinois 72 (OT) - The Gophers make up for a tough loss in Champaign to begin the Big Ten schedule.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Victoria Times Wayback Machine: Murray State

Hey, you remember how I take some random road trips? Do you also remember how one of those trips was to  Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to watch Murray State take on Southeast Missouri State? Did you also realize that Murray State is the only unbeaten team in NCAA basketball right now? Well, let's take a look back at some of the things I said about them leading up to, and after the game:
 In fact, Murray State is 8-0 in their conference schedule thus far. The Racers feature a young team, and may well be a force to be reckoned with on a national level in years to come.
From here

Murray State reminded me of a Big Ten team. They relied on their inside game and strong defense.

From here

Murray State is a young enough team that they will be back in the tourney in coming years. They will develop a more refined game, and will then start to win in the tournament.

From here

I know my stuff!


Links of the Day 1/28/12

Que pasa? And that has been the extent of my Spanish.

If you watch the Pro Bowl, you will find everyone wearing the same number.

Copa Del Sol
Rosenborg 3, Dalian Airbes 1 - Rosenborg with their typical early season tournament in Spain sees them square off with a Chinese squad. it all makes sense. 
Iowa State 72, Kansas 64 - Hoiberg'd
Mercer 75, Stetson 64 - Could Mercer make it to the Dance? Yes. Will they? We'll see,
Purdue 58, Northwestern 56 - Way too close, Purdue. Way to close.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Cooking with Ryan: "Genuine" cheeseburger

All right, so I've mentioned the snooty-ass cookbook I got for my birthday last year? Well, I cooked a crispy fish salad once, and have now taken on the "Genuine" cheeseburger from said cookbook. How does one make a snooty cheeseburger? Let me tell you. It requires ground chuck, mixed with ice water, which makes the burger juicier, because the moisture seeps into the meat as it steams. Then, you take the meat and lightly mold it into a ball. Not too tight, otherwise you get a tough burger! Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with canola oil, slap it on the grill and smoosh it with the spatula and cook.
Sounds simple, right? It was tremendously simple, but using the chuck was a revelation, and ensuring that I sued thick cut toppings made the whole thing a stacked, juicy delight. I didn't even get out of the kitchen because I ate the first one so ravenously. I made 4, and they are all gone already. Every homemade burger I've ever had has been tough and dry, until these. So make the same changes and stop going to McDonald's, because this was flat out better. Look! Precarious!


Links of the Day 1/27/12

The Super Bowl is now 9 days away. Are we still stuck with Patriots-Giants?

The NHL Fantasy Draft was sort of stupid, but a little entertaining.

Now calling a team the Cougars is offensive.  Somebody is saying something about it. A real hero.

MTV recently filmed an episode of MADE at Roseville. A teacher recounts what it was like from his end.

IPFW 75, North Dakota State 66 - NDSU is not playing as well as they were earlier this season.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The NBA and hero worship

I think one of the reasons I don't really care for the NBA is how individual players can sway the balance of the league by themselves. Consider: The Colts are anticipating the loss of one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the league, but instead of this being backbreaking, it's simply a bump in the road on the way to rebuilding. Of course, the team needs defense and younger skill players, but that's the point. They need to build an entire team. There are 22 players that need to be capable starters.The St. Louis Cardinals will be fine despite losing Albert Pujols, and the Angels are better, but not the class of the league because they signed him. The NHL makes roster moves like I change underwear, underscoring the relative lack of importance of an individual as it compares to the team.
If you look a the roster of an NBA team, they have 12 players total. Look at the tumult that was created by Lebron James leaving for Miami. Look at Cleveland without him. Look at the to do surrounding the contract given to Kevin Love. Look at what happened when the last Kevin, Garnett was traded to Boston. One player is 20% of a starting lineup. That's 4 people on a football team.
So given that, I guess it's more justified going after Lebron for his decision, because one player is so important. It also makes a player like Dwight Howard, calling his shots in trade, seem a little tasteless. He will likely lead to the vast improvement of one team (especially if he can get a friend to join him, meaning he accounts for 40% or more of the new roster) and the destruction of his current team, the Orlando Magic.
And that's the rub, I think. How can anyone really say they are a fan of one team, when really, that team's fortune's ride on one or two players? Aren't you just cheering for one player at that rate? You're entitled to like what you like, but I don't think I can ever quite get into the NBA.

(This post has been inspired by a random tweet. Follow me @victoriawxtimes so you can keep up on stuff like this)

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Links of the Day 1/26/12

It's my brother's birthday today. His GOLDEN birthday. How about that? Happy Birthday, buddy.

Here is a video of a collapsing roof at a Slovakian ice arena. Look out, Richard Zednik!

If I got into a standoff every time I was speeding, well.... I should stop myself there.

The White Sox throwbacks are just foul.

Michigan State 68, Minnesota 52 - For the first game I have seen all year, the Gopher's opponent just looked better, rather than just smarter. Note that I haven't seen every game this year.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How does the rotation look?

I visited my brother for his birthday today, brought him some beer, some pizza, and he lamented the state of the Twins rotation. He was "sick of it" he said, in someone more colorful verbiage. I have long preferred a strong offense, because that means one has a deeper team. If you rely on pitching, injuries are much more problematic. This is why I I loved the Garza-Young trade at the time. Trading a pitching prospect for a hitting prospect. Too bad the Twins don't really develop hitters, pure hitters. Torii Hunter never would have had the chance to find his bat if he couldn't hit. Morneau and Mauer can play the field, otherwise they wouldn't be up. The Twins needed a right handed bat after Hunter left, but they couldn't put up with shaky fielding.
I am here to ask whether or not the Twins rotation is really all that bad. In my opinion, Scott Baker is an ace pitcher if he can pitch at Target Field. It's perfect for a flyball pitcher, and especially one that has Denard Span and Ben Revere playing every day.
Next is Carl Pavano. He's just... old. No, he's not bad, or wimpy or anything like he has been accused of before. He's just wearing down. If you look at his peripherals since he has arrived in Minnesota, his stats indicate that he should perform about the same as he did last year, and probably should have in 2010 as well. He doesn't strike anyone out, which will eventually come back to get him, and is becoming more of a ground ball pitcher, which, while typically good, isn't so great with the Twins.
The third stalwart is Francisco Liriano, who has been on a steady three year rotation. Awesome, injured, struggling with a comeback. Last year was "struggling". This year, he should be coming back with an awesome year. Healthy Liriano gets a lot of strikeouts, AND allows some fly balls. He is a more groundballing, higher strikeout version of Baker. Maybe not perfect, but certainly a more attractive pitcher to other teams than anyone else on the roster, if we are talking about trade candidates.
Nick Blackburn. Ugh. He doesn't strike anyone out, and last year, he started walking people. He get's a few ground balls, I guess, but is mostly a fly ball pitcher. It's just that in the past couple of years, his fly balls went really, really far. He can't possibly be as bad as he was in 2011. Or can he? I would rather see Duensing in the rotation.Well, maybe not quite that, but at least he's there.
Then, of course, there is Jason Marquis. Carl Pavano Jr.? No no, Jason Marquis. He is sort of a blend between Pavano and Blackburn, really. Groundballs, a few strikeouts. He won't be BAD, so long as we realize he is just the 5th starter. So, Marquis fits. The problem is the ground balls, of course.
That said, what if, on days Marquis was on the hill, we move the better defensive infielders into the lineup and maybe give Ben Revere an off day on those days? We'll probably need the help.
I guess, what I'm trying to get at is that the Twins rotation isn't a disaster. I think a lot of the Twins problems can be mitigated with the right defense depending on the pitcher. Is Ron Gardenhire smart enough to plan this way? We will certainly find out.

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Links of the Day 1/25/12

I finally saw the Social Network today. Much better than I expected.

Get cable, jerks!

The Colts have hired a new coach, Chuck Pagano, former Ravens D-coordinator.

Tennis player is whiny, petulant, acts like a tennis player.

Michigan 66, Purdue 64 - Purdue can't win two games in a row. The other teams in the Big Ten are getting better, the Boilermakers aren't. Simple as that.
Minnesota 3, Colorado 2 - The Wild are back in the playoffs, thanks to goals by Justin Falk and Carter McMillan. Just like we thought at the beginning of the season.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denard Span plumbs the depths of Minnesota demographics

I don't know, Denard. I just don't know.


Links of the Day 1/24/12

It's going to be an interesting, chubby season in Detroit.

The Tigers won the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. 

All other politics aside, Mark Dayton is a man after my heart.

Justin Morneau... how's he doin'?

Mercer 75, Jacksonville 65 - Jacksonville is the "Dolphins". The more you know.
Kansas 64, Texas A&M 54 - With the Aggies shift to the SEC next year, it really cuts down on Kansas' opponents that have ampersands in their name.


Monday, January 23, 2012

I hate this Super Bowl

I hate the pending Super Bowl for three primary reasons. 1) The Patriots. 2) The Giants. 3) The Patriots playing the Giants. Oh? Expound? Surely.

1) As a Colts fan, the Patriots have been the biggest nemesis for the past decade or more. They are from Boston and were the first step in unleashing Boston sports arrogance to the masses. I mean, people used to LIKE Boston. Cheers! Now? Screw Boston. Screw the Patriots. Screw Tom Brady. Screw Bill Belichick. Screw their ruthless efficiency. I do not care for the New England Patriots.

2) Excuse me for saying it, but I am sick of the underdog. The underdog has lost it's luster, because in the NFL, the underdog wins a LOT. Look at the last 4 years. Three different times, a team that played Wild Card weekend made the Super Bowl, and twice, that team won. If the underdog can reach the Big Game 40% of the time, they aren't really an underdog, are they? And if they win that Super Bowl 2/3 times they make it, they aren't a freaking underdog! So I'm sorry, New York. You had a crappy season and got lucky in the end. That doesn't mean I can root for you.
Also, what about my being a Colts/Peyton Manning fan compels me to vote for Eli Manning? Just because Eli is Peyton's brother doesn't make him any less of a whiny twit who begged his way out of San Diego. What kind of douche wants to get out of San Diego?! You made Philip Rivers look good! So no, Eli, you and your Giants... no.

3) The networks really like to sell the Boston-New York rivalry when they get a chance, no matter the sport. It's compelling television, to be sure... if you are from Boston or New York. I'm sick of hearing about these teams. I feel ill that one of these two teams will be heralded as the best team in football all next season. I hate that the ticker tape parades and everything will last so much longer next year than they should, or at least, they will be covered in the media for much longer than they should be. I hate that this is a rematch, which is the most boring plot of any sporting event in the land. Just ask LSU and Alabama.

I hate this Super Bowl. But on the other hand, it's almost impossible for next year's game to be any worse than this. Bring on the bean dip!

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Links of the Day 1/23/12

Happy Monday. I slept until 2.

Interesting coaching option for the Colts. Tressel's problems were with college athletes accepting payment, an issue that doesn't apply in the pros, I guess.

A preview of the Minnesota Twins. First one I have come across, anyways.

Kyle Williams, who had two key turnovers in yesterday's NFC Championship game, subsequently received death threats.

Minnesota 75, Northwestern 52 - The Gophers took Northwestern behind the woodshed. Northwestern is really bad at shooting behind the woodshed.
New York Giants 20, San Francisco 17 - Tough game for the 49ers. Not the result that I would have liked to see, nor the one that Steve preferred, I'm assuming. Also, this is the last NFL game of the season.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yeah, OK, so these picks are late

I will be completely honest with this one. I thought the Ravens will win the AFC Championship game, and I had thought that before the game began, because the Patriots haven't played well against good teams all year. The Ravens, on the other hand, have played to their opponent all year. With 8 minutes left in the game, I will continue to say the the winner of the AFC championship will be  the Ravens.
(Moments after typing this, Brandon Spikes got a backbreaking INT for the Patriots. Oops.)

In the NFC Championship game, I have to pick the 49ers. It's an easy pick, really. It's going to be rainy in San Francisco, and the Giants aren't a good enough running team to endure the inclement weather. The 49ers, at home, can rely on the West Coast offense. No deep drops should negate the Giants pressure, and Frank Gore is going to be able to run on the Giants just enough. I actually think this is going to be a pretty bad game.

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Links of the Day 1/22/12

Watch the roads out there, folks. A little slick today.

Joe Paterno passed away early this morning.

How will Big Ten Hockey look when that starts in 2013?

Yep, this is... not me. I do not train elephants.

Kansas 69, Texas 66 - The Jayhawks win a tough game on the road. It's always fun to see Texas lose.
Mercer 69, North Florida 58 - The Bears keep on winning. They are sitting first in the Atlantic Sun.
South Dakota State 91 (OT), North Dakota State 88 - The Bison losing a tough game in overtime. SDSU is a game out of first, and the Bison are in third.
Minnesota 5, Dallas 2 - The Wild figured everything out just in time for Hockey Day in Minnesota.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prepare for the Kevin Slowey show

I have been saying for a while that Kevin Slowey, a fly ball pitcher with a great K/BB ratio would have been a great addition to the Twins rotation last year, especially when the aggressively terrible Nick Blackburn held down a spot, and the underqualified Brian Duensing also managed to crack the opening day rotation. Slowey was branded as a bad influence on the team and a malcontent because he was smart enough to realize that moving him to the bullpen was a terrible thing for the Twins as a team and Slowey as a professional.
Well, you don't question the dumbass decisions Ron Gardenhire or the front office make without repercussions. Because old people with money are the principle source of revenue (see: season ticket holders in the really pricey seats) and they tend to listen to people like Sid Hartman and Jim Souhan, rather than stone cold logic or facts, there was no way that Slowey was ever going to be accepted as a valuable member of the Twins organization. So, Slowey was getting forced out.
To make the humiliation complete, the Twins sent him to Colorado, the place where flyball pitchers go to die. It looks like the Twins, in their bullheaded attempt to crush any insubordination had won this battle.
Alas, this was not to be. First off, let's point out that Kevin Slowey, given the chance to play against the AL Central and his away games at places like Detroit, Minnesota and Kansas City will be very successful. He has a decent outfield behind him which should bring down his BABIP, and he will start in the rotation, meaning no transition to the bullpen to throw off his chi.
Also, another aside from the whole Slowey fiasco. The Twins drove Slowey's value down to the point that all they could get was a never going to make it reliever. With a nominal some of cash, Slowey was sent to the Indians for Cleveland's 10th best prospect (according to Baseball America), Zach Putnam, a guy who is expected to join the bullpen right away. Colorado didn't drive down the value, despite having 35 starting pitchers on the roster, including Jamie fricking Moyer.
So, bang up job all around, Twins front office.

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Links of the Day 1/21/12

Hey, yesterday was Steve's birthday. He's 67. Happy birthday, Steve!

The Australian Open has it's first hero.

Major League Soccer, for some reason, is not nearly as popular as international soccer on American TVs.

Is the NFL really trying to move a team to London?

Random Soccer game
Byasen 1, Rosenborg 0 - RBK lost a friendly to crosstown, lower (3rd division) team, shortly after loosing long time defenseman Michael Lustig on a transfer to Celtic.
Everton 1, Blackburn 1 - A draw and a QPR win puts Blackburn perilously close to the relegation zone again.
Michigan State 83, Purdue 58 - Oof.


Friday, January 20, 2012

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Divisional Playoffs

I'd like to start the power ranks post by wishing a very happy birthday to....me! Yes, it's my birthday and now I officially have less than a year left in my 20s. Kind of depressing. However, I do have a chance to see my favorite team, the 49ers, make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since I was in 6th grade this weekend!

Why do I like the 49ers, since I'm from Chicago? Well, since my dad is a south-sider, he grew like the Cardinals and hating the north side Bears. When the Cardinals moved to St. Louis, he starting liking the AFL instead and rooted for the Raiders. As a kid, he always told me bad things about the Bears so I had the freedom to pick my own team. Red was easily my favorite color, and on my 2nd birthday, 27 years ago today, the 49ers won their 2nd Super Bowl with a blowout win over the Dolphins, and I was a fan for life.

Now, I have a son of my own, and the possibility of a weird coincidence can happen. My dad's favorite team, the Raiders, won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1983 season, the year I was born, and now there is a chance that my favorite team can win the Super Bowl the year my son was born. (And if they don't do it this year but somehow win in the next year, I can still say the same fact on the technicality that our favorite teams won during the first full seasons of our son's lives, since I was born 3 days before the 1982 AFC/NFC Championship games and my son was born just before Week 4 this year).

So I guess we can move on to the ranks. The Giants shocking upset of the Packers last week knocked them down to #4, while the Giants moved into the top 5 for the first time since Week 3. The 49ers incredible win over the Saints (I rank it as the #3 most exciting playoff moment in Niners history, behind Super Bowl XXIII and the 1981 NFC Championship, and ahead of the 2002 playoff game against the Giants and the TO catch to beat the Packers in the 1998 playoffs) vaulted them over the Patriots into the #1 spot. The Ravens moved up to #3, while the Saints fell to #6.

The Niners success helped out the rest of their division as well even though their seasons are over. Thanks to strength of schedule boosts, the Seahawks and Cardinals each jumped 2 spots and the Rams climbed out of last to pass the Buccaneers, who truly deserve to be ranked last.

So lets look at the picks for this week. Last week, the Ranks went 3-1, bringing them to 5-3 overall. My son only went 2-2, but he picked the Giants upset, making him 5-3 so far. My dog is Jake the Greek. He went 3-1 again making him 6-2 for the playoffs.

My dog is going with 49ers-Ravens and my son is picking 49ers-Patriots in the Super Bowl. Here are the rank picks:

#2 Patriots over #3 Ravens - Even though they are 2-3 in the ranks, the Patriots hold a wide lead over Baltimore, who have been inconsistent while the Patriots are looking better each week. We'll see if the Ravens superior defense can slow down this offense

#1 49ers over #5 Giants - The big difference here is the fact that the 49ers have an ultra-dominant defense and the Giants are relatively week on D and the Niners went 13-3 and the Giants were only 9-7. The Giants are trying the join the 1979 Rams and the 2008 Cardinals as the worst regular season record teams to make the Super Bowl, and the worst regular season record team to win it.

Here are the full Ranks:

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Links of the Day 1/20/12

Good morning! Oh crap, it's already afternoon.

It's awesome to see Jack Jablonski's positive attitude.

Free style skier Sarah Burke died yesterday of injuries suffered in a skiing accident.

Which is the best playoff interview of all time?

Toronto 4, Minnesota 1 - It has to be just days before the Wild make a big transaction, right? And I mean something more than waiving Colton Gillies.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Vikings are hilarious

The Vikings decided that they needed to upgrade their defensive coaching staff and decided to hire a defensive coordinator and replace incumbent Frank Pagac. Certainly a noble idea, and one the Vikings put forth in the most spectacular way possible.
Well, spectacular in the same way a high speed train derailment is hilarious. You see, they hired the defensive backs coach from the Colts, Alan Williams. I can tell you that, were it not for the linebacking corps being exponentially worse, people wouldn't stop talking about how bad the Colts secondary has been since forever. (And to be honest, they were probably one of the best groups on the team this year with how bad the Colts offense turned out to be this year)
Oh, sure, sure, people are all about how good the secondary was earlier this century. I can run through the elements that allowed the Colts to play good pass defense, particularly when they won the Super Bowl.
STEP ONE: Have awesome defensive ends. The Vikings do have this, but if we're being honest, a defensive backs coach doesn't have a lot to do with defensive ends.
STEP TWO: Have a historic offense that runs up the score, keeps the opposing offense off the field, and means the opposing offense has to try to go deep downfield, allowing the awesome DE's to get to the QB before he can throw it, or at the very least, rushing those throws. So, if Christian Ponder can step it up a bit and play like a vintage Peyton Manning, Percy Harvin is Marvin Harrison and Toby Gerhart can be Edgerrin James, then this is a good hire.
I do not think this is a good hire.


Links of the Day 1/19/12

Good afternoon. I am without appointments or a trip to the gym tonight, so things are good.

Purdue hired a defensive coordinator from Canada.

Hey, you know the Twins catcher? No, not that one. Or that one. No, not even that one. This one.

Fausto Carmona is not actually Fausto Carmona.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cooking with Ryan: Salmon Chowder and Pineapple Bran Muffins

Wow, sounds disgusting, right? I am hear to tell you... it wasn't that bad. The real problem, if you ask me, was the fact that I drink skim milk. I will get to that in a minute.
This was my second soup in a row, the first a minestrone before my vacation. This chowder consisted of potatoes, zucchini, onions and the salmon, while the broth was a simple combination of milk, water, ranch dressing, relish, basil, garlic salt and pepper. As it cooked, it seeped into the vegetables and the fish.
But it didn't thicken. Hence the problem with the skim milk. It wasn't that rich chowdery consistency that I would have hoped for. But taken independently, the contents of the soup were flavorful.
Oh, and the muffins? You have to be a special kind of dense to screw up muffins. Thems were tasty muffins. Here is a peek at the finished product.


Links of the Day 1/18/11

Hi! I have some links for you.

Rob Lowe says Peyton Manning will retire, so that's... something.

Some promising news on Jack Jablonski.

Philadelphia 5, Minnesota 1 - The Wild waived Colton Gillies. Clearly, this was a factor.
North Dakota 59, North Dakota State 54 - Whaaaaat?! NDSU lost in a game they definitely should have won.
Purdue 75, Iowa 68 - The Boilers were down early, but came through with a game they absolutely had to win.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finally, some pictures from Mercer

As you are all well aware, I took a trip to Macon, Georgia to begin the year (and eventually to Fort Myers, where they will get the internet just as soon as they stop doing the Charleston) to catch a game betwixt the Mercer Bears and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. I used my phone to take some pictures, then got a new phone, and anyways, I finally uploaded them, so here are the pictures from my time in Macon.

 Of course, I have to start with the greatest picture of them all... the coin operated cologne sprayer in north Georgia

Heading into the game, I had to take a picture of their baseball field. Alma Mater of the great Mike Mimbs!

This was the Mercer pep band. All of it.

A couple of shots of the arena. It filled up a bit by game time a bit more, but there was still a week until classes began again.

 This is where the FGCU women's team eventually sat.

I like the one guy for FGCU that tucked in his practice jersey. Nerd.


A little more full, see? And GET PUMPED IT'S MERCER BASKETBALL.

It's game time! FGCU would have a huge challenge, playing against a Mercer team playing at home for the first time in a few weeks.

Also facing a huge challenge: This chair.

This is actually the Student Union/basketball arena, pictured the next day. IT was definitely a quaint campus.


This is outside my hotel the day I left Macon. Hard to tell, but the fountain outside is completely frozen. I'm glad I headed south for that. 

I enjoyed this trip quite a bit, actually, mostly because I really like the south, and I had Steak and Shake in Illinois, but the game was pretty good too. (Mercer won 76-54)

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Links of the Day 1/17/11

Goood morning. Can you believe there isn't another federal holiday for a whole month?!

Blackburn continues to completely mismanage the Chris Samba situation.

The latest Bracketology has the Gophers as one of the last 4 out, and Purdue as an 8 seed.

Some people will do whatever it takes for some nuggets.

Kansas 92, Baylor 74 - This qualifies as a huge win for Kansas, giving the Bears their first loss. Baylor might still win the Big 12, but it won't be easy.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Twins Sign Joel Zumaya, earth's axis tilts

After a chilly early season schedule last year, the Twins decided they needed to find heftier players, ones that would be able to easily endure the chilly weather. This obviously explains why Matt Capps has been retained as a closer. Yesterday, the Twins added oft injured Joel Zumaya to the fold. (Good decision, by the way. If any team can patch him up, it's the Twins training staff) Below is a picture of Zumaya.

Zumaya is listed at 6'3, 215lbs. I am listed at 6'2 1/2, 208lbs. There's no way he outweighs me by a mere 7 pounds, unless it's 7 pounds of LIES. 
Anyways, good, low risk move. If he comes back healthy, dominant. If not, it's not like the bullpen is worse.

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Links of the Day 1/16/11

Happy MLK Day!

The top NCAA Division 1 player from every state. 

A few questions for the Playoffs.

Let's all look at and be enchanted by some pictures from the Winter Classic.



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Um, holy crap?

So... 49ers-Ravens? Can I hope for that?

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Links of the Day 1/15/12

Hey, three months until tax day!

If you aren't watching the Giants-Packers game, you missed this.

Kind of a major development in the Syracuse sexual abuse story.

The Australian Open is underway, if you are into that kind of thing.

Blackburn 3, Fulham 1 - The Rovers won this with 10 men. They are out of the bottom 3. Incredible.
Kansas 82, Iowa State 73 - I sometimes forget that Iowa State is in the Big 12... or exists.
North Dakota State 82, South Dakota 59 - This proves, I think, that North is the superior Dakota.
Minnesota 80, Penn State 66 - 80 points on the road in the Big Ten is... pretty good.
San Francisco 36, New Orleans 32 - Maybe one of the best playoff games of all time. Three lead changes in like 4 minutes, or something. I don't know, this isn't my job.
St. Louis 3 (SO) Minnesota 2 - Josh Harding was ALL MAN in this contest, with about 100 saves, give or take. Again, I'm not really into the stats today.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Links of the Day 1/14/11

The playoffs are on again today. I'll be working. Keep me updated, won't you?

In last night's North Dakota-Minnesota game, there was a bit of a tantrum after a player was ejected.

Blackburn's best player, Chris Samba, is angling for a transfer.

A botched Gatorade bath.

Mercer 81, Kennesaw State 51 - Kennesaw closed it to within 5 at one point early in the second half. Mercer then went on roughly a 50-20 run.


NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Wild Card

In the Wild Card round, all of the home teams won, and the power ranks only got 2 games correct. Meanwhile, my 3 month old son and dog each got 3 games correct.

This week, there was no movement in the top 5, mostly because 4 of them had byes. The Giants win over Atlanta moved them up to 6th.

So with that said, let's get on to the predictions:
#3 49ers over #4 Saints - The Niners have a slight edge thanks to their stingy defense and great turnover ratio (compared to the sub-par Saints)

#1 Patriots over #26 Broncos - Yep, the Broncos are still #26 even after winning last week. On paper, this should be no contest, but last week's game shouldn't have been either

#2 Packers over #6 Giants - The Giants are closing the gap a little, but the Packers are just too much for them

#5 Ravens over #10 Texans - Bad matchup for the Texans here

Since my son picked the Lions last week, he had to repick the NFC. Here are his picks for this week:
Ravens over Texans
Broncos over Patriots
Giants over Packers
Saints over 49ers

My dog had the Steelers winning, so he had to repick one game. Here are his picks:
Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Broncos
Packers over Giants
49ers over Saints

Full Ranks:

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Picking this weekend's games

Without further ado, let's pick some NFL playoff games, eh?

New Orleans at San Francisco: I am torn. This will likely be the best (only?) game of the weekend. Every time I have watched the Saints, they have destroyed their opponents. The last memory I have of the 49ers was a season or two ago, and they simply weren't good. Still, I know the 49ers are all defense, and the Saints struggled on the road. Against all my inner judgement.... Prediction:

Denver at New England: Let's see, New England destroyed Denver in Colorado once this season. Tom Brady is an excellent reader of defenses (the thing that Denver relies on). The only reason anyone thinks this game is a toss up is because they want to talk about Tim Tebow..... Prediction:

Houston at Baltimore: The Texans were fortunate to draw the Bengals in round one, no doubt, but they are on a third string QB facing one of the top defenses in the league. Also, I picked the Ravens to the Super Bowl.

New York Giants at Green Bay: The Giants have a history of defeating elite teams when they really shouldn't! The Giants have a history of beating the Packers in the postseason! Prediction....

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Links of the Day 1/13/12

Friday the 13th! Oooh.

Pitching to contact... How's that working out?

Hey, Lebron signed with Cleveland.


Wisconsin 67, Purdue 62 - The Boilermakers home win streak was snapped, and I am no worried about this team, officially.
Minnesota 77, Indiana 74 - The Gophers get a marquee victory. Will this take the heat off Tubby for a while?
North Dakota State 55, Missouri-Kansas City 54 - You really can't underestimate the Kangaroos. They will jump up and get ya.
Chicago 4, Minnesota 2 - Just sayin', but the Wild are really scuffling.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can we finally appreciate Jajuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore?

To hear some national college basketball journalists tell it last year, and the year before, the Purdue Boilermakers were lost without Robbie Hummel. No way the Boilers could win in the NCAA tournament without him on the squad. No way they could be competitive without Hummel on the court.
But they were. Purdue basketball was still very good, and it was because of Jajuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore stepping up as standout players. This year, Johnson and Moore are gone, but Hummel is in the lineup. The Boilers are blowing leads in heartbreaking fashion, losing to teams they shouldn't, and now, tonight, losing at home for the first time in 26 games.
What does this mean? Does it mean that, maybe, Johnson and Moore were better than they were given credit for? Does it mean that Hummel is given too much credit? With backbreaking results as they've seen, does this mean that Hummel isn't as great a leader as hoped?
I have my own opinion. Just look at the Minnesota Gophers. Their debilitating injuries were to Al Nolen and Trevor Mbakwe, a guard and a big. Hummel is a small forward. I think Moore and Johnson were excellent players in positions where excellence can be the difference between mediocrity and being elite. IT may not be fair, but small forwards are a dime a dozen. This is why the Gophers struggled with injuries and the Boilermakers didn't struggle without Hummel.
But this is why they ARE struggling without E'Twaun Moore and Jajuan Johnson.

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Links of the Day 1/12/12

Good morning! Yes, it's still technically morning!

The NHL All Star Game were filled out.

Spam comments are usually pretty funny. Too bad they seek to do you harm.



OH, good, people ARE calling for Tubby Smith's head

People are, in fact, clamoring for a change in Minnesota. The local papers and some pundits are talking about Tubby Smith being on the hot seat. For his part, Tubby seems to think he will be getting an extension, which makes sense, given that this team, a disappointment for many, would have been vastly better than most of the teams Dan Monson put together. Still, there are calls for his head.
I continue to assert that Minnesota is not a big enough program that they can do much better than Tubby Smith. I decided to get someone else's opinion on the matter.

There you go. The Star Tribune's Michael Rand recognizes that the calls for Tubby Smith's axing are fairly aimless. I gladly call for a coach's head when he deserves it (Ron Gardenhire, Danny Hope), but Tubby Smith doesn't deserve to lose his job.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Links of the Day 1/11/12

I am not good at getting back to normal. Bear with me.

Maybe Shakopee will become home for the Vikings? Great. Can we move them to LA yet?

An update on the condition of Benilde's Jack Jablonski.

Brett Favre's brother was pardoned by the governor of Mississippi.

Minnesota 5 (SO) San Jose 4 - The Wild blew a two goal lead and nipped the Sharks in a shootout.
Kansas 81, Texas Tech 46 - The Red Raiders really came out to play.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Victoria Times NCAA Football Simulation (Ryan's Version)

It's that time of year again. The time that I tell you the results of the annual football simulation we run through What If Sports, run in order to find a national champion, with all decisions based on how things play out on the field. This means a tournament with only conference champions, and seeding based on results, with no polls used at any point. For a more complete information on how the simulation works, click the "simulation" tag at the bottom of the page. Without further ado, here are the results!

Dixie: Champion: Alabama (2010 - Georgia)
Good Surprise - Mississippi
Bad Surprise - Clemson
Order of finish - Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Clemson, UAB
Note - Alabama actually won the conference easily, thanks to South Carolina going 0-3 out of conference.

Great Basin: Champion: Oregon (2010 - Boise State)
Good Surprise - Utah State
Bad Surprise - Nevada
Order of finish - Oregon, Boise State, Utah State, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Nevada, Idaho, UNLV
Note - This was the highest finish for Washington State by a substantial margin. Oregon won the conference for the first time.

Appalachian: Champion: Cincinnati (2010 - Louisville)
Good Surprise - Ohio
Bad Surprise - Pitt
Order of finish - Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Ohio, Marshall, Louisville, Virginia, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Miami (OH)
Note - Except for last year, this conference always seems to come down to Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Great Lakes: Champion: Bowling Green (2010 - Michigan State)
Good Surprise - Bowling Green
Bad Surprise: The Big Ten
Order of Finish - Bowling Green, Toledo, Michigan State, Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Akron
Note - Two strong Big Ten teams, Michigan State and Michigan were abysmal, meaning this was the first time a MAC team won the conference

New England: Champion: Penn State (2010 - Maryland)
Good Surprise - Buffalo
Bad Surprise - Rutgers
Order of finish - Penn State, Buffalo, Syracuse, Temple, Connecticut, Boston College, Rutgers, Navy, Maryland, Army
Note - Buffalo will be rewarded for their strong season with a non conference schedule including games against Wisconsin, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Also, Penn State... Awkward.

Florida: Champion: Southern Miss (2010 - Florida State)
Good Surprise - Florida International
Bar Surprise - Miami (FL)
Order of Finish - Southern Miss, Florida, Florida State, Florida International, South Florida, Miami (FL), Central Florida, Troy, Tulane, Florida Atlantic.
Note - No teams from Florida in the tournament this year, and the first C-USA team to make the tournament.

Gulf Coast: Champion: Texas (2010 - TCU)
Good Surprise - Texas
Bad Surprise - Louisiana-Lafayette
Order of Finish - Texas, LSU, Houston, Texas A&M, TCU, Louisiana Tech, SMU, North Texas, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette
Note - What? I don't think the expected team has ever won this conference.

Midwest: Champion: Iowa (2010 - Iowa)
Good Surprise - Minnesota
Bad Surprise - Purdue
Order of Finish - Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Ball State
Note - Of all conferences, the Midwest was one of only two to have a repeat champion (Great Plains being the other). And Minnesota went 6-6, which is preposterous.

Tobacco Road: Champion: Wake Forest (2010 - Tennessee)
Good Surprise - Vanderbilt
Bad Surprise - East Carolina
Order of Finish - Wake Forest, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Duke, Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, Memphis, East Carolina
Note - This is a weird conference. It has a bunch of otherwise strong middle of the pack teams, but no true powerhouse. Good for Wake Forest.

California: Champion: USC (2010 - Stanford)
Good Surprise - Arizona
Bad Surprise - Stanford
Order of Finish - USC, Arizona State, Arizona, Stanford, Fresno State, UCLA, San Jose State, California, San Diego State, Hawaii
Note - I am not the NCAA, so USC is eligible. And last years national champs, Stanford, were only 6-6.

Great Plains: Champion: Oklahoma State (2010 - Oklahoma State)
Good Surprise - Missouri
Bad Surprise - The real life Cotton Bowl
Order of Finish - Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tulsa, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Arkansas State
Note - Another top heavy conference, that should have been a greater dog fight and better in non conference.

Mountain West: Champion: Texas Tech (2010 - Baylor)
Good Surprise - Texas Tech
Bad Surprise - Wyoming
Order of Finish - Texas Tech, BYU, Baylor, Colorado, UTEP, Air Force, Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico State, New Mexico
Note - I guess I sort of thought Wyoming would be a top 4 team in this conference.

There were no winless or undefeated teams. The Gulf Coast conference was the top conference in terms of strength, which meant Texas was the overall number one seed. The new pods for next season will be California-Great Basin-Dixie-Mountain West
Great Plains-Midwest-Tobacco Road-New England
Gulf Coast-Appalachian-Great Lakes-Florida

Tobacco Road and Great Lakes swapped due to results in the tournament this year, otherwise all 12 Big 10 teams would have been in the same pod. Other than that, it's strangely geographically oriented, especially with all three western conferences in a pod.

All right, here are the results of the tournament. The Championship game, as with real life this year, would have been at the Orange Bowl.

Peach Bowl - 9 Wake Forest 38 (OT) 8 Bowling Green 35 - Wake Forest was down 17 going into the 4th quarter, but came back to win a thriller.
Gator Bowl - 12 Texas Tech 31 5 Iowa 26 - Iowa has made the tournament 3 times, and is yet to win a game
Citrus/Capital One Bowl - 11 Oklahoma State 72 (5 OT), 6 Oregon 70 - Brandon Weeden threw for 7 TDs and 572 yards in this barn burner.
Liberty Bowl - 7 Southern Miss 46, 10 Penn State 40 - Brett Favre surely would have been in attendance. Southern Miss prevented what would have been a very awkward game between Penn State and USC, and were the only higher seed to win in the first round.

Orange Bowl - 1 Texas 27, 9 Wake Forest 17 - The Demon Deacon magic couldn't carry over to the quarters, and in their second game against a team wearing orange, they were manhandled.
Cotton Bowl - 4 Alabama 31, 12 Texas Tech 29 - This game was certainly a lot closer than it should have been, but Alabama couldn't slow down the spread.
Sun Bowl - 11 Oklahoma State 45, 3 Cincinnati 27 - Weeden went ahead and through for 4 more in this one, which went much more smoothly than the game against Oregon.
Fiesta Bowl - 2 USC 37, 7 Southern Miss 31 - Hey, not bad for the first Conference USA team in the tournament, winning a game and all.

Rose Bowl - 4 Alabama 37, Texas 10 - As it turned out, Texas' only losses were to LSU and Alabama all season
Sugar Bowl - 11 Oklahoma State 34, 2 USC 31 - Weeden slowed down, only throwing 1 TD in the semifinal. Oklahoma State is the second team ('09 Florida) to reach the championship game after playing a first round game in the history of our sim.

Oklahoma State 49, Alabama 24 - In an offense vs defense struggle, the offense won. Brandon Weeden threw 6 more TDs, giving him 18 for the tournament. Oklahoma State, who felt they should have made the real national Championship Game ended up defeating the NCAA national Champion in our sim.
 There were a few quirks and peccadilloes with this simulation, like Clemson and Kansas State being dreadful, and a Iowa, Bowling Green and Texas winning their conferences, but in the end, the championship game was between two deserving teams that played everything out on the field, just like everyone wanted. Until next year, and congratulations, Oklahoma State!

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The Scoreboard

All right, I made it in late last night. I think I will catch you up on some scores, because I don't feel as though I am comfortable giving you links quite yet. Here are the scores from that horrible time I was away.

Wednesday (1/4)
Mercer 75, Stetson 59 - I was on the same floor as the Stetson women's team the night before I left for Florida. I can give you no other insight to this game
Kansas 67, Kansas State 49 - The Big 12 opener. Just think, next season it could be against TCU or West Virginia.
Iowa 64, Minnesota 62 - I wasn't here for it, but I bet the Gophers losing to the team that beat Wisconsin on the road means Jim Souhan calling for Tubby Smith's head.
Vancouver 3, Minnesota 0 - The Wild remained appallingly unable to score while I was gone, I see.

Thursday (1/5)
Penn State 65, Purdue 45 - Oh God.
Oral Roberts 89, North Dakota State 80 - The Bison had a chance with Oral, and blew it. (Sorry)

Friday (1/6)
Not so much as a whisper

Saturday (1/7)
FA Cup
Newcastle 2, Blackburn 1 - Newcastle put one in with mere moments remaining to eliminate Blackburn in their first match of the FA Cup.
North Dakota State 17, Sam Houston State 6 - North Dakota State is the FCS champions! All roads lead to Fargo!
Kansas 72, Oklahoma 61 - I think this was the score when they played in football this year as well.
East Tennessee State 76, Mercer 61 - It's really tough to win in (looks up where East Tennessee State is) Johnson City.
Calgary 3, Minnesota 1 - I like how Canadians pronounce "Calgary".

Sunday (1/8)
Purdue 79, Minnesota 68 - Good road win for Purdue. Bad home loss for Minnesota

Monday (1/9)
Mercer 73, South Carolina-Upstate 66 - Mercer plays a LOT of basketball in a short time, don't they?


Friday, January 06, 2012

We're Having Technical Difficulties

Well Ryan is, at least. I got a text from him that he might be out of commission for a few days and I might not have time to post anything else. Have a good weekend and we'll get back to sports on Monday!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NFL Computerized Power Ranks: Week 17

I think I need to kick off this post by saying I can't believe we've been doing this for 7 years now! We started this site (well, the old site) on January 5, 2005. Here we are, 3,505 posts later! (mostly by Ryan)

The NFL season has reached the playoffs, and the regular season power ranks are complete, but fear not, just like in previous seasons, the ranks will continue through the playoffs.

One downside to the power rank formula is that it has no way of accounting for teams that play poorly in Week 17 because their playoff spot is locked in. This happened to the Packers this week. Even though they won the game and scored a ton of points, the Lions offense made the Packers bad defense statistically worse and despite finishing 15-1, it cost them the #1 spot in the ranks going into the playoffs. Replacing them is none other than the Patriots, the #1 seed of the AFC. The remaining top 5 teams remained the same (49ers #3, Saints #4, Ravens #5).

In the bottom 5, the Buccaneers managed to swap places with the Rams despite the fact that they got destroyed by Atlanta this week. The rest remained the same (Vikings #28, Redskins #29, Colts #30)

The biggest gainers this week were the Bears, who got a win too little too late and jumped 6 spots to #16, while the biggest losers were the Seahawks, who dropped 6 spots to #15 after losing to the Cardinals and finishing with a 7-9 record. Unlike last year, when that was good enough to make the playoffs, this year it put them 6 games out of first place in their division.

So, now that we are into the playoffs, let's have the power ranks make some predictions! First, let's mention the teams with byes then look at the matchups:
Byes: #1 Patriots, #2 Packers, #3 49ers, #5 Ravens - Ranks pretty much aligned with real life standings here. The Saints were #4 but unfortunately for them were the 3rd best team in the NFC

#11 Texans over #12 Bengals - The difference between these 2 teams is razor thin in the ranks, but the Texans' better overall record and stronger defense gives them the edge

#8 Steelers over #26 Broncos - Wow. This year's Broncos team could be the worst playoff team of all time. They somehow backed into a playoff spot in Week 17 AND finished 8-8. They are currently the lowest ranked AFC West team. A probable first round loss to the Steelers could actually drop them into the bottom 5 next week.

#4 Saints over #6 Lions - This is the highest rated first round matchup, but the edge goes to the Saints due to a better record and recent success. Both of these teams are similar in that they have high powered offenses and weak defenses.

#7 Falcons over #10 Giants - This is another close matchup but the Falcons have the edge for being just a little better than the Giants in every category.

Just like in previous years, I decided to challenge my formula against my dog taking interest in 1 of the 2 mini-helmets. Here are my 3 year-old Golden Retriever's picks. (He picked the whole playoffs, but I'll let him re-pick each round):
Texans over Bengals
Steelers over Broncos
Saints over Lions
Giants over Falcons

Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Steelers
Packers over Giants
49ers over Saints

Ravens over Patriots
49ers over Packers

Ravens over 49ers in Har-Bowl II. (He loves the Ravens, he also picked them in 2008)

Not to be outdone, I also let my 3 month-old son make playoff picks, by putting the 2 helmets in front of him while sitting in his Bumbo seat and having his pick be the one he touches first. Here are his picks:
Texans over Bengals
Broncos over Steelers
Lions over Saints
Giants over Falcons

Ravens over Texans
Broncos over Patriots
Packers over Lions
49ers over Giants

Broncos over Ravens
49ers over Packers

49ers over Broncos - He knows his parents favorite teams apparently. He picked mine over my wife's.

Full Ranks:

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Highlights from Mercer - Florida Gulf Coast

As you can see, I was, in fact, at the game last night. An AP photo is out to prove it.

Now, some thoughts from the game. First, it was incredibly cheap. The ticket, a hot dog, water and slice of pizza ran me only 9 dollars. Total. Fantastic.

First, the arena. It was rather small, but the university did a good job giving the the game something of a big time feel. The concessions and what not were decidedly small time, but the action on the court was very competitive. Mercer players seemed more into the game than any team I had visited before. Even FGCU played like they knew what they were doing, which I can't say for certain other games I have attended. And the beginning of the game began with spotlights and a video played on a middle school geography class style projector screen. Still, I applaud the effort the school put forth in making the game important.

In this contest, it seemed like the big problem was the Eagles and their ball handling ability. They seemed to be better on defense when they were able to get back and get set. The most dramatic scoring opportunities came in the break for the Bears, especially when they were able to get the ball to Justin Cecil, who was white hot and clearly the best player on the court last night. Still, the Eagles clearly weren't comfortable with how they were playing, changing their defensive look regularly, and not really getting consistent stops until they upped the pressure on the ball, but that came far too late.

Perhaps it was the angle I sat at, but I would say it was the most technically sound game I have seen in my travels. Murray State played well two years ago, but in this game, both teams looked prepared, if not effective.

The Bears got out to a 20 point lead early, then kept their foot on the gas for most of the game. They had a deeper bench, a short guy named Shaquille, more energy, a black guy named Paul Larsen and frankly, more composure that FGCU who had a white guy named Eddie Murray.

For more in the moment, comical observations from the night, take a look at my Twitter feed. Some time this week, I will have some pictures and more in depth commentary on what it was like to be at the game.

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Links of the Day 1/3/11

Day three on the road. I was comped a free breakfast today, so we're doing well. Also, the same guy who tried to fix my TV made my omelet.

The Colts made some organizational moves, firing the Polians after 14 years in Indy. I think this sounds likely that the team is going to go with Andrew Luck.

If the twins want to keep Francisco Liriano, now is the time to lock him up.

Likely future Colt Andrew Luck lost in the most brutal of fashions.

I... posted yesterday's links at 1030. There have been no games since. Also, apologies if nothing from yesterday made sense


One image from the road

If you can't tell, this is a coin operated cologne dispenser. I took it at a truck stop along the Tennessee/Georgia border. Please note the knob for selecting which cologne can be spritzed, for the distinguishing gentleman buying his cologne from a truck strop restroom.

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Links of the Day 1/2/11

Just watched some white hot Atlantic Sun basketball action, and am in a room where the TV doesn't work. Obviously, bowl games aren't really on my radar right now.

Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame.

See! See! The Yankees are EVIL.

A brief history of baseball and aquariums.

Stoke City 2, Blackburn 1 - Ah yes, now that's more like it.
Merer 76, Florida Gulf Coast 54 - Hey, I saw this game!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

Links of the Day 1/1/12

I am in Marion, Illinois, and I had Steak and Shake for dinner. Life's good.

Yes, the first link of the new year is an NBA link. But it's funny.

Baseball players born on New Years Day.

Local news blooper highlight reel. It made me laugh out loud alone in a hotel room several times. Police have been called.

Kansas 84, North Dakota 58 - They were beat so bad, the Fighting Sioux had to change their name.
Purdue 75, Illinois 60 - The common response from pundits after the game? "Illinois was overrated". Whatever.
Michigan 61, Minnesota 56- I wonder what the Gophers will do at home. But they need to win on the road too.
Phoenix 4, Minnesota 2 - The Wild close out the year with another loss. They need to get healthy soon.
New Orleans 45, Carolina 17 - The Saints storm the playoffs on a very hot streak.
Jacksonville 19, Indianapolis 13 - I am quite pleased that I wasn't home to watch this one.
Chicago 17, Minnesota 13 - Or this one
San Francisco 34, St. Louis 27- The 49ers earned the 2nd seed in the NFC. OF course, that likely means a date with the aforementioned Saints in 2 weeks. Too bad.


Steve's 2011 College Football Sim

Happy New Year! Unlike 2 years ago, when I didn't manage to post the the results of my college football blowup sim until late February, or last year, where I posted on January 23, 13 days after the end of the actual season, I actually finished my college football simulation while bowls were still being played, on December 27. Believe it or not, I even finished my sim before Ryan! His post is coming soon. Here is a link to Ryan's results from last year. I'll take the liberty of letting you follow the link to his post where he links to the origin of the college football reorganization that we came up with and how our sim is structured. Here are some fun facts from my sim this year, then I'll get into the conference breakdowns:

- There seemed to be a lot more parity and crazy upsets this year.
- Only 3 of my conference champs went 9-0 in conference, while 7 were 8-1 and 2 were 7-2. Last year 7 went 9-0. Tiebreakers were needed in 3 conferences. Two were decided by the head to head winner and the other was decided by overall record (Midwest)
- Only 2 conferences saw the conference champ win by more than 1 game (Florida by 2 over Miami, Florida State, and UCF in Florida and Alabama by 3 over Georgia Tech and Georgia in Dixie)
- My strongest conference was the Gulf Coast, who went 65-55 overall.
- The worst conference was the Mountain West, who went 53-67.
- 3 of my 12 playoff teams from last year returned: Alabama, Boise State, and Michigan State
- Only 2 of the real-life 10 BCS teams made my tournament: Alabama and West Virginia, but 3 of them finished 2nd in their conference. Michigan was only 6-6 and Clemson was only 7-5 (but they started 6-0)
- 3 of last year's conference champs fell hard this year: Hawaii (2-10), Pittsburgh (4-8), and Air Force (4-8)
- There weren't any huge turnaround stories from conference champs this year. The closest were Houston and USC, who were only 6-6 last year. Syracuse was 8-4 (6-3) last year and this year that same overall record (with 1 more conference win) was enough for them to win New England
- 3 BCS schools finished dead last in their conference (Minnesota and Nebraska from the Big Ten and UCLA from the Pac-12)
- 4 of my conference champions are switching their real life conference in 2012 (Houston from C-USA to Big East, Boise State from Mountain West to Big East, West Virginia from Big East to Big 12, and Syracuse from Big East to ACC)
- The SEC had 3 teams represent them in the tournament (Alabama, Florida, Tennessee) and the ACC got shut out
- If you use next year's alignments, the SEC and Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia) would each have 3 teams, the Big East would still have 2 but totally different representatives (West Virginia and Syracuse changing to Houston and Boise State), the ACC would actually have a team (Syracuse), and the Mountain West/Conference USA planned conglomerate would be shut out
- I only had 2 12-0 teams overall: Florida and Alabama
- I did not have a single 0-12 team, but I had 2 1-11 teams: North Texas and UCLA. North Texas got their only win over Army in what was the first game of the 731 from my entire sim.

Here are the results, conference by conference by conference.

New England - Champion: Syracuse
This was a crazy conference this year. Syracuse opened the non-conference schedule by getting absolutely crushed by Texas A&M and UTEP and lost their first conference game to UConn, which made them 1-3. Meanwhile, defending champs Temple started 8-0 and were looking unstoppable. Temple lost 3 in a row to Boston College, Syracuse, and Maryland and all of the sudden Syracuse was in 1st place. Syracuse celebrated that by getting destroyed by Penn State. Five teams had a shot to win the conference going into the last week and Temple even got a nice win at Penn State to set themselves up, but Syracuse got the job done against Maryland to win the conference
Order of finish: Syracuse, Temple, UConn, Penn State, Boston College, Buffalo, Army, Maryland, Rutgers, Navy

Appalachian - Champion: West Virginia
The Mountaineers took this conference by going 8-1 and 10-2 overall, losing only to Cincinnati in the final conference game (they had already clinched at that point) and to Miami (FL) in non-conference play. They made short work of Virginia Tech in a showdown game with them, but Virginia Tech also had slips against Louisville and Purdue in non-conference play. Ohio had an impressive 8-4 record
Order of Finish: West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marshall, Virginia, Kentucky, Miami (OH)

Great Lakes - Champion: Michigan State
Unlike last year when they went 12-0, the Spartans took their lumps in non-conference play, going 0-3 against North Carolina, Boise State, and Alabama. They turned around and ran the table in this very weak conference, where their only real competition was Toledo (who went 8-1, but got blow out by Michigan State). Ohio State was terrible. They only went 4-8 overall and lost to Toledo 54-6.
Order of Finish: Michigan State, Toledo, Bowling Green, Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State, Akron, Kent State

Tobacco Road - Champion: Tennessee
Vanderbilt was initially the story of this conference, starting off with a 9-0 record. As the season went on, it became apparent that a Week 11 showdown between Tennessee and Vanderbilt was looming, and both teams actually lost in Week 10 before playing. Tennessee beat Vandy, and went on to win the conference with a 8-1 (10-2) record. It should be noted how horrible Memphis could be at times. The ended up going 3-9 but they were shut out 4 times and also lost the biggest blowout of the season, a 75-3 beating from Tennessee
Order of Finish: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Western Kentucky, East Carolina, NC State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee

Midwest - Champion: Iowa
This is another conference where it became apparent early on that Iowa and Wisconsin would have a showdown with the winner likely winning the conference. The only difference was Iowa went 3-0 against a relatively tricky non-conference schedule while Wisconsin suffered blowout losses to Florida State and Oklahoma State. When they met in Week 11, Wisconsin picked up the easy win. However, in the final game of the season, Wisconsin got stunned by Notre Dame and Iowa won, putting them both at 8-1 conference record, and since Iowa was 11-1 and Wisconsin was 9-3, Iowa got to go to the tournament. Purdue had a promising start, shockingly winning that game at Virginia Tech that I warned about last year, but they only ended up finishing 5-7, losing to Ball State and Northern Illinois along the way. Minnesota was awful, going 2-10, but somehow they beat Notre Dame in their only conference win.
Order of Finish: Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Ball State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northern Illinois, Minnesota

Florida - Champion: Florida
Florida, who were only 6-6 in real life, ran the table in this conference and had a perfect 12-0 season. They had their fair share of close wins along the way, never really looking like a dominant team. However, whatifsports always picked them to win in the end.
Order of Finish: Florida, Miami (FL), Florida State, UCF, Southern Miss, Florida International, South Florida, Troy, Tulane, Florida Atlantic

Great Plains - Champion: Oklahoma
This was a very interesting conference. Defending National Champs Oklahoma State started the season 5-0 absolutely running up scores on teams, while Oklahoma lost to Florida in non-conference play and Arkansas lost their conference opener to Tulsa. Then, Oklahoma State got upset by Iowa State and started putting up smaller scores each week. Oklahoma continued to win until getting beat by Arkansas in Week 10, who already had 2 conference losses at that point. That set up a virtual elimination game in Week 11 between Arkansas and Oklahoma State, with the winner being able to win the conference title with an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma in Week 12. Arkansas ended up winning the game and were in position to steal the conference title, but Oklahoma ended up beating Oklahoma State 59-55 in a crazy 2 OT shootout. On a side note, Nebraska somehow went 2-10 overall, losing to Arkansas State at home and blowing a 20+ point 4th quarter lead to Tulsa. I think Bo Pelini got fired in the simulation world.
Order of Finish: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Tulsa, Kansas, Arkansas State, Kansas State, Nebraska

Dixie - Champion: Alabama
Yawn. Yet another boring 12-0 finish for Alabama. Clemson started 6-0 until losing 41-13 to the Tide, and only finished 7-5 overall. Georgia Tech finished 2nd with only a 6-3 conference record.
Order of Finish: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Mississippi State, Clemson, Auburn, UAB, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Louisiana-Monroe

Gulf Coast - Champion: Houston
This was yet another crazy conference, where 6 teams were in the hunt for most of the season. Houston lost big at Texas early, but then turned it around and won at LSU the following week. LSU got beat by Louisiana-Lafayette in what may be the biggest upset ever in my sim. LSU also lost to SMU and Stanford in non-conference play. SMU was extremely good, finishing 10-2 overall and actually had a shot to win the conference if Houston had lost in the final week because Houston lost a crazy 5 OT shootout to Baylor in non-conference play, 64-62.
Order of Finish: Houston, SMU, LSU, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas

Mountain West - Champion: Texas Tech
Just like last year, this conference was just awful again. Texas Tech, Baylor, and BYU ended up finishing 7-2 in conference but BYU only finished 7-5 overall, eliminating them from the tiebreaker with the other 2 teams, who finished 8-4. Texas Tech beat Baylor in the final week of the season to win the conference.
Order of Finish: Texas Tech, Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Wyoming, Colorado State, UTEP, Air Force, New Mexico State, New Mexico

Great Basin - Champion: Boise State
Just like last year and seemingly every year, this conference came down to one game, Boise State at Oregon, which Boise won 37-20. However, unlike last year, both teams were not undefeated in conference play going into the game. Oregon was 8-0 while Boise slipped up against Nevada in Week 11. Boise State also lost to Alabama, but luckily for them Oregon also had a non-conference loss to 4-8 Ohio State, which allowed the head-to-head tiebreaker to take effect.
Order of Finish: Boise State, Oregon, Washington State, Nevada, Washington, Utah State, Oregon State, Idaho, Utah, UNLV

California - Champion: USC
Since we aren't the NCAA, USC has no sanctions and was allowed to participate in the tournament. They pretty much dominated the conference play but surprisingly lost to Fresno State on the road the week before beating Arizona to clinch the conference title. Not much else to say about this conference other than Fresno State and Arizona did surprisingly well, while UCLA was bad this year, but probably not 1-11 bad. Defending conference champ Hawaii was only 2-10.
Order of Finish: USC, Arizona, Stanford, Fresno State, California, San Diego State, San Jose State, Arizona State, Hawaii, UCLA

Well the tournament is set here are the results:
First Round
#8 Oklahoma vs. #9 Tennessee - Tennessee wins 19-13 - The playoffs kicked off with a scoreless first quarter. Each team traded field goals and Oklahoma took a 10-3 lead into the half. The game entered the 4th quarter tied at 13 but Derrick Brodus tacked on 2 more field goals for the Vols to give them the win. Landry Jones had a disappointing game for the Sooners, throwing 3 INTs
#5 Houston vs. #12 Texas Tech - Houston wins 41-3 - Good old fashioned Texas shootout here. The teams traded TDs until Tech kicked a field goal to be down 27-24 in the 3rd Quarter. Houston took a 34-24 lead into the 4th but Texas Tech responded with 2 TDs to take a 38-34 lead with 2:29 to go. However, the Cougars have Case Keenum, who successfully led Houston on a game winning TD drive, capped off with a Michael Hayes rushing TD with 13 seconds left. Keenum threw for 365 yards and 2 TDs
#6 Boise State vs. #11 Syracuse - Boise State wins 52-17 - Not surprisingly, this game was all Boise. The Orange came out early and punched the giants in the mouth, holding a 10-0 lead half way through the 2nd quarter. The Broncos responded by scoring 52 unanswered points which included 2 punt return TDs before Syracuse got a garbage time TD in the 4th. Doug Martin from Boise ran for 85 yards and 2 TDs.
#7 West Virginia vs. #10 Michigan State - Michigan State wins 30-23 - Another game with a slow first half, the Mountaineers took a 10-3 lead into the 2nd half. In the 2nd half, Kirk Cousins got the offense going and Michigan State took a 13-10 lead before West Virginia tied it going into the 4th. That's when things got exciting. Michigan State took a 23-13 lead with only 6 minutes to go after an Edwin Baker TD. West Virginia fought back and tied it with 1:56 to go. Cousins then led the Spartans on a game winning TD drive, connecting with Edwin Baker with 53 seconds to go.

Quarter Finals
#1 Alabama vs. #9 Tennessee - Alabama wins 67-16 - Alabama was just awesome here. After an opening FG by the Vols, the Tide answered with 24 points (3 Trent Richardson TDs). Tennessee finally scored a TD to make it 24-10, and Alabama again responded with 3 TDs to take a 40-10 lead early in the 3rd. Not to be outdone, Trent Richardson scored 2 more TDs. In total, Richardson ran for 235 yards and 5 TD, and AJ McCarron had 424 yards passing and 2 TDs
#4 Iowa vs. #5 Houston - Houston wins 44-27 - The cougars came out strong, taking an early 21-0 lead with 3 Case Keenum TD passes. From that point Iowa was trying to play catchup all day but only got within 11 points. Keenum threw for 312 yards and 4 TDs. In a losing effort, Iowa's Marcus Coker ran for 134 yards.
#3 USC vs. #6 Boise State - Boise State wins 45-41 - The Broncos came out on top of a great passing showdown between Kellen Moore and Matt Barkley. Boise took a 10-3 lead into the 2nd. USC bounced back with 3 TDs (2 of them long Curtis McNeal TD runs) in the 2nd to take a 24-17 lead going into the half. In the 3rd, USC increased their lead to 34-24. In the 4th, Kellen Moore came alive, throwing 2 quick TDs to put Boise ahead 38-34. USC responded with yet another McNeal TD run to take a 41-38 lead. Boise capped off the game with another Moore TD pass to DJ Harper. The Broncos D was able to get a turnover on downs in their own territory to hold the lead and get the win. Moore had 314 yards and 5 TDs. Barkley had 316 yards and 2 TDs. McNeal ran for 192 yards and had 3 TDs.
#2 Florida vs. #10 Michigan State - Florida wins 24-14 - The Florida D kept Kirk Cousins in check, and John Brantley managed to throw for 337 yards and 3 TDs. Cousins was only able to lead the Spartans on 1 scoring drive, because the other Michigan State TD was a punt return.

#1 Alabama vs. #5 Houston - Alabama wins 28-23 - Just like in the previous round, Trent Richardson was out of control. He ran for 139 yards and 2 TDs and had a receiving TD. Houston kept it close though. They actually took a 16-14 lead into the 4th quarter, but the Tide quickly scored 2 TDs to go up 28-16. Keenum managed to score another TD to make it 28-23 and Houston even got the ball back with 1:33 to go, but their final drive came up short on a hail mary in the endzone, putting Alabama in the championship game.
#2 Florida vs. #6 Boise State - Florida wins 31-29 - This was another exciting back and forth game. Florida started with a 14-7 lead but Boise answered with a Doug Martin TD. After the TD, they missed the extra point, leaving Florida ahead 14-13. Both teams scored TDs and FGs to leave Florida ahead 24-23. With 5:20 to go, Jeff Demps caught a TD from Brantley to put Florida up by 8 (thanks to the missed extra point). Boise responded with a Tyler Shoemaker TD with 2:29 to go, but their 2 point conversion attempt failed. The missed extra point cost Boise the game. There was a lot of offense in this game. Moore threw for 371 yards and Brantley for 335. Florida also ran the ball well. Chris Rainey had 141 yards and Jeff Demps had 104 yards 2 TDs, and a recieving TD.

The Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Florida - Florida wins 37-13 - The semi-finals set up an interesting #1 vs. #2 national championship between the only 2 undefeated teams. As far as the result goes, wow. The Gators, who were only 6-6 in real life this year, are the national champs of my sim. This game was no contest. After an early Trent Richardson TD, the Gators answered with 37 unanswered points led by the unstoppable rushing attack of Chris Rainey (130 yards, TD) and Jeff Demps (110 yards, 2 TDs). John Brantley also threw for 380 yards and a TD. From our past experience, for some odd reason usually teams that do well in our sim end up being national title contenders the folowing year (like Oklahoma State, who won my sim last year) so maybe the Gators will be back in the national title picture next year.

So, just like last year, these sims are time consuming, but a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to doing this again next year. Go put some money on the Gators to make a BCS bowl.

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