March 30, 2006

The Final Four...we're goin'

Our view come Saturday night.

Friend of mine is a huge LSU fan in that yes, he even loves the Tiger basketball program, so this Saturday will mean a lot to him. Earlier in the week we began to kick around the idea of going to the Final Four this year in Indianapolis. I live in Lexington, Ky. and he lives up near Cincinnati, so it's just a drive.

Well we looked on EBay and finally found tickets. Oh boy, did we ever find some tickets. We're in the lower bowl of the Dome. The only drawback is that I think we're in the Florida section. The Dome gets quartered amongst the four participants. I only hope I am wrong and we're part of the George Mason or LSU contingent.

Not too bad for the price we paid, considering some people on EBay wanted the same price for this view:

I think I can see Canada.

March 29, 2006

The Game I can't live without...

Tom Dienhart of MSNBC wrote a piece about some of the intersectional college football games that no longer happen or very infrequently.

His list misses the obvious rivalry that is missing: Notre Dame vs. Miami

How in the world does college football not get a yearly dose of Catholics vs. Convicts?

We know the history, from Jimmy Johnson's 58-7 pasting of Notre Dame in 1985 to Notre Dame's 31-30 win in 1988 that put the Irish on the fast track to the national championship.

Besides, South Bend roars like none other when Miami comes to visit. (And well having the Rocket as your returner isn't too bad either.)

March 28, 2006

It's 49-21, sweetheart.

"See that guy over there, he has NO CLUE what he's doing."

I usually buy into anything that puts out there, however, I was mingling through the spring information and speculations and came across a laugher:

You see the site picked apart every conference from a coaching angle, rewarding the best coaches and coordinators while exposing the frauds and overrated field generals.

Their choice for best defensive coordinator in the Big Ten was Brock Spack of Purdue. Same Brock Spack that got his arse handed to him by Charlie Weis and every other offensive guru with a pulse in 2005. Purdue was gawd awful. In one six-game stretch the Boilers surrendered at least 31 points in each game. Mind you, this was with everyone coming back from 2004. The Boilers put their 41-16 win over Notre Dame on their Sun Bowl rings from 2004 and then promptly decided to stay home for the holidays in 2005, thanks to that six game stretch.

CFN makes somewhat of an allowance calling last year a blip on the radar. However, I would understand that if the Purdue defense was depleted last year, however...

...let me repeat: They had everyone back! Every. Single. Player. Back.

I can't do it.

This guy's game? Ancient history - doesn't count.

I know I am flipping between football and basketball like a madman, but I finally found the time to blog again, so I figure I better not waste it.

Here is my view on the Tournament and college basketball: Only the last 20 years count. Period. The game of then is not the game of today. 1987 represents the current format of today. The three-point shot, the shot clock, and six wins gets you the crown. I don’t care about basketball before the three-point shot because there is NO WAY you can tell me the game hasn’t changed. To talk about the 2-point only game is to speak of football during the leather helmet, pre-forward pass days. It’s ancient history.

Got it? Good. Let’s continue.

I am a Kentucky fan and our fan base always seems to worry if we’re amongst the elite. Apparently it’s a tradition to hate UCLA because they have won more titles. For me, UCLA isn’t the big bad beast of the West as some older fans remember. I was born in 1976. The Bruins have won one title since I was born and became a fan, and during my 1987 criteria – 1995. Most of the times, the Bruins have been a middle seed capable of the Final Four but usually ending their run in the second round or Sweet Sixteen.

So there I am, surfing my usual message boards and I utter the words that rained down hellfire on me: “I hope UCLA wins this thing.” I had about 50 posters ready to dim mak my groin for making that statement. Suddenly I was given a history lesson about UCLA especially 1975.

1975. UCLA beats Kentucky, 92-85 to win their 10th and last championship under John Wooden, who announced his retirement before the game. My uncle still hates this game. Wooden is the devil incarnate for announcing the retirement and surely swaying the refs to hand him the ’75 title. (I also love Notre Dame football and I swear my UK basketball people sometimes resemble Michigan fans to a tee – when they lose, blame the refs.)

So I glance at this year’s Final Four with George Mason, UCLA, Florida, and LSU: A Cinderella story, the traditional champion, and two football schools who could screw around and win a basketball title.

Another UK fan peculiarity: Let’s cheer for the SEC schools to make ourselves feel better about this 22-13 season. I have but one thought along this line:

Especially when most SEC fans view their basketball teams like this.

March 27, 2006

Too early for college football? Never.

The blogpoll folks have re-emerged and have posted a roundtable discussion over at Schembechler Hall

1) It's early, but thus far, which offseason change or changes in college football are you most excited about?

- I am excited about three things: 12 games, Fox doing the BCS, and the 5th BCS game. Anytime you can get more football, broadcast by a better network that is setting the stage to eventually solve the national championship debate in college football, you have to be all for it.

2) With spring practice underway, what are the three concerns about your team that are causing you the most anxiety?

- Any Notre Dame fan worth anything is fretting over the defense. Not one unit, not just one position, but the whole damn thing. Charlie came in and taught the Irish how to compete on offense, now lets hope he can work the magic on defense. There are a few playmakers on the defense (S Tom Zbikowski and LB Maurice Crum), however a lot of the Irish success was built upon inept teams not being able to handle the pressure of scoring every time they had the ball or we were just playing bad offensive teams. Lets face it, Notre Dame fans, we only played two complete teams - USC and Ohio State. (Michigan fans: Time to decide, are you good or not?)

- The second worry is about the expectations of the bandwagon fans. Look I remember the Holtz years when Notre Dame was a beast. We also just completed the wildly inconsistent Davie and Willingham years when Notre Dame could be very good and very bad. Now everyone is ready to anoint this team national champions. Hold on. There is work to be done everywhere. This is still a team that doesn't go very deep without losing quality in a hurry. Yes, attitude change is a great thing, but I hope the team will stay hungry because its that drive that can push the Irish to another BCS appearance.

- The schedule is always a concern. While Michigan is off winning another MAC title, and Florida State plays four-letter patsies , the Irish will play another killer. However, we best not thump our chests too mightily. Notice that Penn State, Michigan, and UCLA all venture to South Bend. The road games against Georgia Tech and Michigan State are certainly winnable. (Lord knows the Irish will be motivated against the Spartans after this.) And yes, we do play the service academies, which will bring the barrage of quotes from my head basketball coach where I work as the SID.

Still, I would love to see anyone else play seven bowl teams in a given year.

3) Care to take a stab at a preseason top five?

- Always the sucker to put out material that I will later contradict I will say that Oklahoma, USC, Ohio State, Auburn, and LSU look pretty tough.

March 26, 2006

Making a case for each at the Final Four.

So we have our Final Four set with the UCLA Bruins, LSU Tigers, Florida Gators, and the improbable, cinderella George Mason Patriots. We'll have a 2, 3, 4, and 11 seed, totaling a rating of 20 if you will. This is the second highest figure since the 2000 Final Four which featured a 22 rating (1-5-8-8).

How can you not love this team from Fairfax, Virginia? First off, no writer or TV analyst in the country can even say that they belonged in the tournament. They ALL owe apologies to George Mason. Every single radio show I listened to during the three days between the Selection Show and First Round talked of how this team should not have made the tournament. Some pointed to the weak conference, others pointed out they had lost to conference rival, Hofstra, twice and that Hofstra belonged in.

Well now we have the Patriots storming the party and you might as well erase the 11-seed by their name when they take the court next Saturday in Indianapolis. Any team that can get past Connecticut and their length can easily take out the rest of what is remaining. Good luck to them.

Next up is the Florida Gators. The Gators are long and lean with Joakim Noah and Al Horford inside. Critical to the theme of this tournament, the Gators are young, led by primarily sophomores. Judging the Final Four field, using the first four games of the tournament, I would have to favor the Gators to cut down the nets in Indianapolis next Monday. They have won three of their four games by double-digits and Noah has been unstoppable on the inside. However, as mentioned before, Florida fans will fall into the trap of thinking about Monday before wrapping up Saturday's game with George Mason. Mason handled Connecticut who had more size inside than the Gators.

The LSU Tigers certainly have size with Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas, the SEC Freshman of the Year. What the Tigers lack is an outside shooting threat to counter their only senior, Darrel Mitchell. The team plays loose and fun and they get their attitude from Davis, a carefree sort who rattled Coach K of Duke in their pre-game interviews. LSU has the distinction of being the only team in this tournament to have run through the 1 and 2 seeds of their region in Duke and Texas in back-to-back games. Michigan State did the very same thing last year, and no one still can match the 1997 Arizona run of taking down three No. 1 seeds.

The Tigers will face the Bruins of UCLA in the late game at Indianapolis. The Bruins won the ugliest game in the tournament in some time against Memphis, 50-45, to get here. The Bruins were considered (much like Florida and LSU) to be another year away from doing heavy damage across the basketball landscape. Point guard Jordan Farmar will guide the troops, but if your expecting the high-flying, finesse baby blues of old - forget it. UCLA is basically a Big East team under coach Ben Howland. The Bruins play long and lean and have excellent, young talent on the court. (Notice the theme, yet?) What UCLA has going for it in Indianapolis is that they are the traditional program, looking to add to their 11 national titles.

Now lets get to the point.

I like Florida to defeat George Mason in the first game. Lets say, Florida 73, George Mason 66. What Florida will absolutely have to do is put away the Patriots early in the second half, otherwise, 30,000 fans will suddenly rally against them, wanting to see Cinderella prevail.

In the night cap, I like the Bruins. UCLA 59, LSU 57. This game will be very low-scoring with shot blockers all over the court. What will put LSU out is their lack of perimeter shooting, but the same could be said for the Bruins. Look for both teams to play some form of zone defense because both have suffered when other teams have employed zone so far in the tournament.

That gives me a title game of UCLA vs. Florida and I like the Gators to bring home their first title. Through four games, the Gators are the strongest left in the field. They play inside-outside very well, with guards Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer being overshadowed by Noah and Horford. This game will be up and down, but defense will be the story of the day. Florida wins being able to score against zone and man-to-man, 66-61.

March 22, 2006

Spring is a good time for football!

It's always hard to stay up to date once the season ends, but Signing Day has come and gone and here we are at the beginning of practices for Notre Dame and my hometown, Kentucky Wildcats. The Irish of course are hoping for big things, although their defense was exposed in the Fiesta Bowl, whereas I would just like to see the Cats get six wins and get to any bowl.

Here's hoping for the best.

Now begins the daily watchings on and the guys at to get your updates for every minutae of spring practices.

With basketball winding down towards the Final Four, we are nearing the dreaded summer slowdown period, but spring football provides us with a dose of our drug to perhaps sling shot us through summer.

It can't get here quick enough.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.