Monday, October 30, 2006

This Week's Blog Poll Ballot Extraordinaire

RankTeamDelta
1Ohio State--
2Michigan--
3West Virginia 1
4Auburn 3
5Florida 4
6Texas 4
7Louisville 2
8Tennessee--
9Notre Dame 2
10Southern Cal 7
11Boston College 3
12Rutgers--
13California 3
14Arkansas 1
15Wisconsin--
16LSU 1
17Clemson 11
18Wake Forest--
19Georgia Tech--
20Boise State--
21Oklahoma 3
22Virginia Tech 3
23Texas A&M 2
24Oregon 2
25Brigham Young 1


Dropped Out: Missouri (#22), Nebraska (#23)

Games Watched: Virginia Tech-Clemson, Georgia Tech-Miami, Maryland-Florida State, Tennessee-South Carolina (4th Q)

Notes:
--Someone slap me the next time I make bold, pompous, declarative statements like this doozy last week: "And speaking of Clemson, folks, they are the best 1-loss team out there right now. Period. End of story." Sometimes, hell many times, I'm just a moron.
--The cumulative effect of USC's close-calls w/Arizona State, Washington and Washington State along with Saturday's 2-pt loss to Oregon State dropped them further than just a close loss like that normally would.
--If the Ohio State-Michigan game is an intense, close nailbiter, don't expect the loser to drop far, if at all (well, Ohio State would technically have to drop if they lose, but still.....). If Michigan loses by a field goal late or in OT, that doesn't mean they should automatically fall behind Auburn, Florida, Texas, etc. But I'm getting way ahead of myself here.
--Some teams on the cusp of my poll: Maryland, Tulsa, Missouri, Alabama, Pitt, Washington State.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Week 9 Preview

Sorry folks, but the ever popular yet quite horrible Haiku Previews have been relegated to the recycle bin of blog-history. Instead, I figured I should do some actual research and compile somewhat respectable game previews. While this takes approximately 3,492x longer than posting a cute little haiku, I want respect dammit.

Clemson at Virginia Tech
Super-Fun Stats: Clemson- Total Offense (#6), Rushing Offense (#4), Passing Offense (#65); Total Defense (#4), Rushing Defense (#7), Passing Defense (#17).....Virginia Tech- Total Offense (#71), Rushing Offense (#82), Passing Offense (#46); Total Defense (#6), Rushing Defense (#22), Pass Defense (#15)
In Summary: Much has been made about Clemson travelling to Blacksburg on just 5-days rest, yet the Hokies also played last Saturday. Under normal circumstances and on a neutral field, Clemson wins by 17+. Virginia Tech's only real shot to win is to get games-of-the-year from each of the front seven, so that Thunder Davis and Lightning Spiller are contained enough to put the game in the hands of Tiger QB Will Proctor. Alas, I don't see it happening, but these won't be the Hokies we saw 2-weeks ago at BC either.
The Pick: Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 20

N.C. State at Virginia
Super-Fun Stats: N.C. State- Total Offense (#96), Rushing Offense (#62), Passing Offense (#94); Total Defense (#43), Rushing Defense (#77), Pass Defense (#65).....Virginia- Total Offense (#108), Rushing Offense (#93), Passing Offense (#91); Total Defense (#24), Rushing Defense (#46), Pass Defense (#53)
Summary: Good Lord, one of these two teams is actually going to be above .500 in the league going into November. The key matchup on Saturday looks to be the Wolfpack's inexplicably underused Andre Brown against UVA's decent run defense. Nonetheless, the Pack has faced much better offenses (BC, Wake) and held them relatively in check. UVA's offense barely has a pulse and it won't be enough.
The Pick: N.C. State 23, Virginia 14

Vanderbilt at Duke
Super-Fun Stats: it's a game involving Duke....does it really matter?
In Summary: The Blue Devils shot their wad twice this month at Alabama and at home against Miami, and couldn't close the deal. The good news is, they're not quitting on Ted Roof. The bad news is, Alabama and Miami barely bothered to prepare for the Devils. Vandy will be prepared.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 24, Duke 9

Buffalo at Boston College
Super-Fun Stats: it's a game involving Buffalo....does it really matter?
In Summary: Yes, BC could get the pants scared off of them in the 1st half if they have a post-FSU hangover, but even that can only go so far in the Bulls' favor. The Eagles would do well to get up early and then rest much of their starters in the second half, so they can enter November games with Wake, Maryland and Miami at full-strength.
The Pick: Boston College 42, Buffalo 10

Wake Forest at North Carolina
Super-Fun Stats: Wake Forest- Total Offense (#99), Rushing Offense (#55), Passing Offense (#104); Total Defense (#41), Rushing Defense (#27), Pass Defense (#34).....North Carolina- Total Offense (#103), Rushing Offense (#85), Passing Offense (#93); Total Defense (#96), Rushing Defense (#114), Pass Defense (#92)
In Summary: Color me stunned that Wake Forest has just the #99 ranked total offense this year; for all the raves Grobe's offense gets, it's the Deacon D that really gets it done. Anyhoo......so John Bunting was fired last week but was allowed to stay on for the remainder of the year. That means that either UNC will play inspired for the rest of the year (ala' Florida '04 after Zook got canned), or they will play as sloppily and unprepared as they have their first 7 games of 2006. Arrggghhhh....Bunting usually pulls out a shocking upset once per year, but I just can't pull the trigger on this one, even though I probably should.
The Pick: Wake Forest 27, North Carolina 24

Miami at Georgia Tech
Super-Fun Stats: Miami- Total Offense (#61), Rushing Offense (#74), Passing Offense (#44); Total Defense (#8), Rushing Defense (#3), Pass Defense (#23).....Georgia Tech- Total Offense (#69), Rushing Offense (#29), Passing Offense (#95); Total Defense (#37), Rushing Defense (#32), Pass Defense (#11)
In Summary: Well judging by the fun stats above, this should be a Cane rout....but of course it won't be. However, allow me to declare that an offense that includes Calvin Johnson and yet ranks just 95th in passing is a crime against humanity and I will be notifying Amnesty International pronto. For all the flack Larry Coker's getting, the Canes are quietly eking their way to the top of the Coastal Division. And hell, they're not Florida State. But wait........Miami's two ACC wins are against UNC and Duke (baaaaaaaaaarely). Coker's career effectively ends in Atlanta. It just becomes official next month.
The Pick: Georgia Tech 24, Miami 16

Florida State at Maryland
Super-Fun Stats: Florida State- Total Offense (#57), Rushing Offense (#95), Passing Offense (#20); Total Defense (#23), Rushing Defense (#13), Pass Defense (#44).....Maryland- Total Offense (#92), Rushing Offense (#54), Passing Offense (#97); Total Defense (#77), Rushing Defense (#98), Pass Defense (#45)
In Summary: I'm guessing that the Genius of the Jeff (Bowden, that is) still won't be able to find a way to run the ball with studs like Lo Booker and Antone Smith, even against the #98 rush D in the country. Bad Maryland QBs (Joel Statham, namely) have had career days against the Noles the last two years so there's no reason for me to go against that kooky mojo this season. Jiminy Christmas, the Noles are going to enter November at .500 overall and comfortably in last in the Atlantic.
The Pick: Maryland 21, Florida State 17

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Around the ACC Blogosphere

--Eagle in Atlanta gives props to Tom O'Brien for taking the safety late against FSU. As an FSU fan, I found the call to be inexplicably bad but very generous. But what the hey, BC still won...barely.

--With the national sports media frothing over "Thunder and Lightning" James Davis and CJ Spiller, Sporting Gnomes chimes in to say that Clemson's defense wasn't too shabby either last Saturday night. Four words: Calvin Johnson, zero catches. Bravo Tigers!

--Mobius at The Chop Shop has his Good/Bad/Ugly take on the 'Noles loss to Boston College. And he's still far too optimistic about the program than he should be.

--The Georgia Tech Sports Blog is right on target about Clemson's beat down of the Jackets: Clemson's better, get over it, the Miami game is now the biggest matchup of the year.

--Turtle Waxing is clearly more interested in Miami than he is about his own 5-2 Terps. He also thinks the ACC sold it's soul in expansion by allowing Miami, BC and VA Tech in the club which is simply bass-ackwards thinking in this day and age.

--Out of Kilter has a succint yet comprehensive take on the Canes near-loss at Duke.

--Heels Blog and Carolina March don't have much to say on the loooooooong overdue firing of John Bunting.....

--However, the fellas at State Fans Nation and Section Six have a bit more to say on the Bunting matter.

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Week's Blog Poll Ballot

RankTeamDelta
1Ohio State--
2Michigan--
3Southern Cal--
4West Virginia--
5Louisville 1
6Clemson 3
7Auburn--
8Tennessee 3
9Florida 1
10Texas 1
11Notre Dame 1
12Rutgers 1
13Arkansas 3
14Boston College 6
15Wisconsin 7
16California 2
17LSU 1
18Wake Forest 6
19Georgia Tech 7
20Boise State 3
21Texas A&M 4
22Missouri 4
23Nebraska 2
24Oklahoma 1
25Virginia Tech 1

Dropped Out: Oregon (#15), Pittsburgh (#19)

Games Watched: Virginia-North Carolina (1st half), Penn State-Illinois (don't ask why), Notre Dame-UCLA, Miami-Duke (4th Q), Florida State-Boston College, Clemson-Georgia Tech

Notes:
--BC makes a big move in the poll moreso on their wins over Clemson and BYU last month, not really by virtue of their win over Florida State.
--And speaking of Clemson, folks, they are the best 1-loss team out there right now. Period. End of story.
--Rutgers will win one of their two matchups with West Virginia and Louisville.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 8 Haiku Preview

North Carolina at Virginia
Tar Heels and Wahoos.
Rich schools, but couldn't care less.
Worst Thursday game ever?
(The Pick: Virginia 21, North Carolina 13)

N.C. State at Maryland
Early in this decade,
This was a top league battle.
Now, both may miss bowls.
(The Pick: Maryland 20, N.C. State 19)

Miami at Duke
The Canes, a disgrace.
Thirteen players on the bench;
They should be in jail.
(The Pick: Miami 30, Duke 13)

Boston College at Florida State
The Noles in all black;
BC could be in trouble.
This game, a toss-up.
(The Pick: Florida State 23, Boston College 21)

Southern Miss at Virginia Tech
Tech in a free fall.
Eagles roughed up the Wolfpack,
But this is at Lane.
(The Pick: Virginia Tech 28, Southern Miss 20)

Georgia Tech at Clemson
The annual best league game.
Higher stakes than usual.
They'll meet in Jax too.
(The Pick: Clemson 23, Georgia Tech 17)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Around the ACC Blogosphere

--Eagle in Atlanta gives a hearty thumbs up after BC's thrashing of Virginia Tech. And this may be his first post all year that does not include a Tom O'Brien bashing.

--For all you math nerds, Clem at Sporting Gnomes has a superb statistical analysis preview of the Clemson-Georgia Tech showdown this Saturday.

--Mobius at The Chop Shop is curiously optimistic about the Seminoles in general. Isn't optimism (or maybe it's "acceptance") one of those stages of loss that come after denial, anger, hopelessness?

--The dude at Georgia Tech Sports Blog has a nice breakdown of the recent history of the Jacket-Tiger Rivalry. Clemson-GT has always been one of my favorite ACC games each year.

--Turtle Waxing's Esquire doesn't seem all that jazzed about the Terps even after the incredible comeback win over Virginia. Oh wait....over Virginia....maybe he's got a point.

--The Miami blog Out of Kilter admittedly picked a wacky week to open for business.

--Heels Blog is apparently posting his last entry about UNC football 2006.

--Neither Section Six nor State Fans Nation seem all that upset about Wake's 25-23 win over the Pack.

--Blacksburg Beacon and Tech Superfans are now in the same pit of despair that FSU fans fell into 2 weeks ago.

This Week's Blog Poll Ballot

I removed the deltas, since I was away last week and didn't get to enter a ballot. Since I didn't see any of the games last week, I'll refrain from making any commentary as well. This poll is largely based on what I've seen over the whole season, with a splash of last week's results thrown in.

RankTeam
1Ohio State
2Michigan
3Southern Cal
4West Virginia
5Tennessee
6Louisville
7Auburn
8Florida
9Clemson
10Notre Dame
11Texas
12Georgia Tech
13Rutgers
14California
15Oregon
16Arkansas
17Boise State
18LSU
19Pittsburgh
20Boston College
21Nebraska
22Wisconsin
23Oklahoma
24Wake Forest
25Texas A&M

Saturday, October 14, 2006

So I'm Back

As I related here just nine short days ago, I headed out last week on a cruise with the wife and in-laws. An enjoyable time was had by all. For your viewing pleasure, I have already updated the Standings and Scoreboard sections of the sidebar on this blog, and after spending a week away at sea, I have come back to find that the ACC still really, really sucks this year (apologies to Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest). However, allow me to add that it is becoming apparent that the SEC is a ridiculously over-hyped media-machine, the Big XII ain't much better and the Pac-10 is still USC and the nine dwarves.

Since I'm still in 24-hour-buffet, pool deck beers, and shore excursion mode, and not in much of a football mindset, allow me to give you some quick thoughts on my trip.

THE GOOD
My wife; I love that gal.
The in-laws; so very cool.
The in-laws, for paying for the cruise.
Snorkeling off Cozumel.
The "scenery" around the pool decks.
The comedy shows aboard the ship.
The dining room staff--now that's customer service.
Not thinking about football the whole time.
Not thinking about the world the whole time.
Free food, all the time.

THE BAD
The Port of Calica- "ooooh, look, a limestone mine!"
The pushy Mexican shopkeepers. No means no!
$5 beers on the ship. Not that that stopped me.
All dancing shows aboard the ship.
Free food, all the time. I need new pants.

THE UGLY
Four different kids sneezing on me the first day of the cruise.
The plumbing backing up on the last night of the cruise.
Coming home. Sort of.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Coach Bowden, It's Time

I have been a Florida State fan since the mid-1980s, and graduated from FSU in 1995. My college years were exactly in the middle of the Seminoles' 14-year Dynasty from 1987-2000. So yes, I've come to expect a certain level of performance out of my beloved Seminoles and from Bobby Bowden.

NC State's 24-20 victory over the Seminoles last night flipped that proverbial switch in my head. The problem with the last several years of Florida State football has not been Jeff Bowden, Chris Rix, terrible offensive lines, injuries, etc. The problem has been, and is, Bobby Bowden.

Bobby Bowden is 4-6 in his last 10 football games. And two of the four wins were Troy and Rice.

Bobby Bowden is like our elderly Grandpa who cannot and will not accept that age is getting the better of him. Even though he has blown through stop signs, pulled out in front of speeding traffic, and run over the neighbor's dog, he cannot and will not give up the car keys because those are literally the keys to his freedom, to a life. The FSU football program is Bobby Bowden's set of car keys.

For the last several years, Bowden's excuses for the increasing amount of losses have come down to a few predictable sound bites:

1- The players didn't execute
2- Other teams always get pumped up for FSU
3- We have too many injuries

I'm sure the coaching staff appreciates that their supervisor doesn't criticize them in public. That's admirable. What's not admirable is constantly pointing fingers at players for not executing. The policy needs to be total: either no one gets criticized in public (coaches and players), or everyone is fair game to get criticized in public. Singling out 18-22 year old players but shielding 40-50-and 60-something coaches is bizarre. But the reason that Bowden does this is simple: he cannot face the fact that he made a disastrous decision in promoting his son Jeff to offensive coordinator. Bobby stated in his book The Bowden Way that he won't fire a coach for performance because that means he will have to admit to himself that he made a mistake in hiring him. He is already predisposed to give an assistant coach all the time and opportunity in the world. When that assistant coach is also his son, and combined with the natural course of aging, the rationalizations for the disaster that is the FSU offense kick into high gear, and the abject refusal to make a change is intensified.

The player development on the offensive side of the ball since 2001 at Florida State has been non-existent. While the Noles still churn out high draft picks on defense, there is a dearth of development on the offensive side. But, Coach Bowden does not see a systemic problem. It's all about making the blocks, completing the passes, and not turning the ball over. If only it were that simple.

As an aside, consider this about Bowden and his obsessive defense of Jeff: one of Bobby's grandsons and his former son-in-law were killed in a car accident just a few days before the season opener in 2004. This loss devastated him to his core. Family is more important than ever to him. Keep that in mind if you really think he will demote or fire his own flesh and blood.

But, with Coach Bowden's abject refusal to make any change whatsoever and his stubborn decision to stay on as head coach, each loss will bring about more and more criticism of the son he only wishes to help. Each loss will bring more and more of the questions that now make him bristle. Each loss will ding his legacy a bit more.

Yes, Coach Bowden would love to retire as the winningest 1-A coach of all time. If he leaves after this year, Joe Paterno will likely pass him next season. Oh well. It would be much worse if Paterno passes Bowden while Bobby is still coaching.

For Coach Bowden's sake primarily, I truly hope he chooses to retire at the end of this season. And when I say for his sake primarily, I mean it--this may be the last season where he has the chance to go out on his own terms. The Noles are not going to magically get back into the Top 10 at status quo, and there are only so many 4 and 5-loss seasons that can be brushed aside. If Bobby were to make such an announcement soon, whatever happens this season (and in retrospect the last 5 years)gets glossed over. A 6-6 record? Oh well, but at least he knew when to leave. Tributes, farewells and tears will flow his way for all that he's done not just for Florida State but for all of college football.

Retirement will not be as boring as he thinks. He has a loving wife, 20+ grandkids, speaking engagements out the wazoo and plenty of golf to play. Mark Richt, Tommy Bowden and Chuck Amato will buzz his phone every week for advice and insight.

Bobby, we love ya, but it's time to hand over the keys. Thank you for all you've done.

Time gets the best of everyone

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Week 6 Haiku-Preview

Apologies for the lack o' posts this week. And, it won't get much better for another week or so; I've got to make sure everything's all neat and tidy at work because the wife, in-laws, and I are heading out on a cruise starting Monday. I'm sure I'll have access to this internet thingy on board, but I plan on being in an inebriated state for much of next week, so my attention will likely be focused on not falling overboard and thereby becoming a Dateline NBC/Court TV cruise ship mystery feature. Ergo, the Chronicles will be on hiatus starting Sunday evening.


"Hey, did you hear that splash? And where's Marcus?"


Florida State at N.C. State
Amato knows this:
Thursday night is bad for Noles;
But it's not enough.
(The Pick: Florida State 21, N.C. State 13)

Clemson at Wake Forest
Clemson is quite wary.
Wake won't be taken lightly.
These Tigers? For real.
(The Pick: Clemson 34, Wake Forest 17)

North Carolina at Miami
Coker, Bunting, ack!
Their jobs on the line this year.
Canes win; no relief.
(The Pick: Miami 28, North Carolina 14)

Maryland at Georgia Tech
The Fridge, back at Dodd.
Longing for his days of yore,
When TDs weren't strange.
(The Pick: Georgia Tech 23, Maryland 9)

Virginia at East Carolina
A new Virginia?
The romp over Duke, a tonic!
Back to normal now.
(The Pick: East Carolina 17, Virginia 14)

Duke at Alabama
Uh-oh, Duke is up.
This matchup? Bad for the league.
Bama, please have mercy.
(The Pick: Alabama 35, Duke 0)

Monday, October 2, 2006

Around the ACC Blogosphere

---Although it's a week old, For Here Men Are Men's succint and utterly profane review of his Eagles' loss at NC State is a must-read

---The folks at Sporting Gnomes are positively giddy about Clemson's showings at The Real Death Valley this year against Larry, Curly and Moe......errrr FAU, UNC and La Tech. Nonetheless, the Tigers look to be the class o' the conference so far

---Mobius at The Chop Shop waxes about the Clemson and Georgia Tech surge to the top of the ACC

---Nathan at Golden Tornado takes much of the Yellow Jacket fan base to task for the sudden outpouring of love for Chan, Reggie and Co. after the big win over the Hokies

---It's looking mighty worrisome in Turtleville if you subscribe to Esquire's line of thinking at Turtle Waxing

---The gentlemen at Section Six have very generously done my job for me in compiling an analysis of offensive tendencies in the ACC

---The Blacksburg Beacon's Andrew is preparing a War-and-Peace length review of the Hokies' loss to the other Tech, with a dash of the old "they couldn't have played any better, and we couldn't have played any worse" masochistic reasoning sprinkled in

And let me take this opportunity to put out an APB for any Duke (I know, I know....), Miami, and Wake Forest-centered blogs out there. I need you three to complete my collection.

This Week's Blog Poll Ballot

RankTeamDelta
1Ohio State--
2Auburn 1
3Michigan 1
4Southern Cal 2
5Louisville--
6Florida--
7West Virginia--
8Louisiana State--
9Texas--
10Notre Dame 1
11Clemson 1
12Boise State 3
13Oklahoma--
14Oregon 5
15Tennessee 1
16Georgia Tech 8
17Georgia--
18Nebraska--
19Virginia Tech 9
20Florida State 1
21Rutgers 1
22Missouri 1
23Cal 3
24Boston College 1
25Iowa 5

Dropped Out: TCU (#14)

Games Watched: Rutgers-South Florida (1st half), Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech, Miami-Houston, Ohio State-Iowa

Notes:
--USC could still go undefeated this year, but right now Ohio St, Auburn and Michigan would drill them
--Part of me really thinks Clemson is a Top 6 or 7 team; Auburn's scare against the Gamecocks and USC's nailbiter with Wazzou are quite similar to Clemson's OT loss to BC, except that BC is better than South Carolina and the Cougars....but a loss is a loss nonetheless
--Ohio State-Michigan on Nov. 18 is looking like a national semifinal. Winner will go to the BCS title game
--Props to Wake Forest, for actually being considered. If they can play Clemson close next Saturday, that would impress me more than beating up Liberty and Ole Miss (SEC jab - kapow!)