Michigan State Final Four Preview

Michigan State’s back in the Final Four, and they take on Duke tonight at 6:09 on TBS. In the spirit of the Final Four, here are four good reads on the 2015 Spartans to get you ready for tonight’s game:

Go Green!

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2013 college football bowl schedule

Before getting to the 2013-14 college football bowl schedule and associated predictions and operations, a note on sponsored discourse. In this post-Musburger-for-all-the-Tostitos world, it is an unremarkable fact that the bowl games are not merely sponsored football contests but business entities in and of themselves, the sponsorship-style nomenclature– e.g., “the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl”– a mere reflection of the game’s less overtly monied past. Even the ostensible bastion of postseason intercollegiate purity now is known as “the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.”

When a bowl game is a business, and not merely a happening, there is an associated shift in the commercial advertising language referential to that business. The NFL’s decision to prohibit the use of “Super Bowl” by non-league advertisers, who now must offer you late-January deals on new televisions for watching “the big game,” provides a rough analogy.

I understand and accept the logic behind a business’ desire to control its portrayal in other business’ advertisements and insist on inclusion of a game’s full, sponsored title in that portrayal. What I do not understand is why the news media plays along. This week, I heard a local sports talk show talk about talking about Georgia’s appearance in “the Taxslayer dot com Gator Bowl,” and that’s far from the only example. I understand that some of the sponsors have integrated their names into the bowl games’ names in such a way that it’s difficult– or, where the sponsor’s name and the bowl’s name are one and the same, impossible– to say the bowl’s name without saying the sponsor’s name as well (e.g., the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Capital One Bowl, respectively). “Taxslayer dot com” is a mouthful, though, and everybody already knows the Gator Bowl. “The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio” is ridiculous to say, and things like “the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” “FedEx Orange Bowl,” and “Tostitos Fiesta Bowl” simply are superfluous. Why the sports news media feels obligated to append these sponsor names when discussing the bowls is beyond me, and you won’t find us doing it here, unless it’s something humorous like the Beef O’Brady Bowl or the RealOakFurniture.com Bowl.

Onto the bowl schedule, which begins this Saturday.   Continue reading

College Football Fan Guide: Championship Week Edition

Last week was one of the best football weeks in recent memory, and although our Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker weekly feature has fallen by the wayside due to worldly obligations, this week and the week ahead deserve note.

The Lions started things off on Thanksgiving with a wonderful win over Green Bay. It was Detroit’s first win on Turkey Day in nine years, and it was the first time Matt Stafford beat the Pack. The Lions also avenged the career game Matt Flynn had the only previous time he quarterbacked Green Bay against Detroit.

Brendan and I were in the Big House for Michigan’s surprise one-point loss to Ohio State, and I made it out of Ann Arbor in time to see Georgia come back to defeat Georgia Tech in overtime, note Vandy’s comeback win over Wake Forest, and watch maybe the greatest one second of college football in Auburn’s regulation toppling of Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

Records of note:

  • Auburn: 11-1 (35-21 loss at LSU)
  • Michigan State: 11-1 (17-13 loss at Notre Dame)
  • Ohio State: 12-0
  • Vanderbilt: 8-4 (poised for second consecutive nine-win season)
  • Missouri: 11-1 (27-24 2OT loss against South Carolina)

Bowl outlook:

  • Rose Bowl: Barring a very bad loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night, Michigan State seems set to ring in the new year in Pasadena. Here are the details on that situation.
  • Bowl projections keep waffling Vandy between the Music City and Liberty Bowls. Despite having a national championship in women’s bowling, they can’t seem to roll outside the Volunteer State. The former Independence Bowl in Shreveport might be a good alternative.

The BCS national championship: Right now, Florida State is set to play Ohio State, but that could change after this weekend. Each team needs to beat its conference championship opponent, Duke and Michigan State (more on basketball later!) respectively, of course. Auburn’s also in the mix here. If the Eagles/Tigers/Plainsmen beat Missouri in the SEC championship game, one-loss/SEC champ Auburn could leap an undefeated Ohio State. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Florida head coach Urban Meyer:

There are a lot of people making a lot of decisions out there, but this is a big one. We’re going to tell a group of young men, who just went 12-1 in a most difficult schedule against six ranked opponents, that they don’t have a chance to play for a national championship? I’m going to need help with that one.

That was back in 2006, though, and in 2013, Meyer finds himself singing a decidedly different tune as the head coach of Ohio State. 2006 Urban Meyer got his way, something 2013 Urban Meyer ought to keep in mind this week.

(HT: @DrunkAubie)

NCAA Tournament: Onto the Sweet Sixteen

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is in the books, and half of the teams are back home hitting them, their basketball days finished until next season. First, a look at which teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen, then a check on the standings in ALDLAND’s bracket challenge.     Continue reading

News clips

Spending all day on the road meant I got to hear all the daytime sports radio I could handle. Thrilling, I know. I did pick up a few interesting nuggets, though:

– If Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy this year, as experts now expect, he will be the first freshman to do so. He won’t be the youngest winner, though. That distinction belongs to Mark Ingram, Jr.

– Apparently there’s some sort of adderall flap surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles and other NFL players. All the obvious issues aside, ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio said that he thinks the adderall story is a cover up. Because the NFL has a policy of not commenting or elaborating on players’ positive drug tests, the players are free to say whatever they’d like about the test. Florio thinks that adderall is the convenient cover story du jour for players who actually tested positive for a more controversial substance.

– Kentucky hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to serve as Joker Phillips’ replacement at the football head coach position. While Kentucky local sports talk radio listeners generally approved of the hire, citing the successes of the Stoops family and Mike’s own rapid improvement of the FSU defense, no one mentioned the only factor that matters right now for the future success of UK football: program funding. Don’t forget that the UK athletic department just spent more on a preseason basketball pep rally than it did on an entire year of football recruiting. For Stoops’ sake, I hope he negotiated a substantial increase in funding for the football program. If not, his pedigree and resume will be irrelevant.

– Before leaving Army for Duke, Mike Krzyzewski interviewed at Vanderbilt but didn’t take the job because the VU athletic director at the time, fearing media exposure of an ongoing search, wouldn’t let Coach K visit the campus.

Topsy Monday

As noted, last Saturday’s college football games featured a number of games between top-ranked teams. As discussed in this space before, every game generally is going to end with one team on the winning side and one team on the losing side, games being athletic events between two teams. This means that a bunch of ranked teams lost this week, and boy did they.

Keep reading…

Rivalries and Penalties

In honor of the general chippiness of the Georgia-Vandy game this weekend and the swings Spartans DE William Gholston took against Wolverine players, resulting in suspensions to players (see here and likely here), but interestingly not coaches (see here or here), the WSJ took a look at the “dirtiest” college football rivalries, based upon the number of behavior-related penalties per game.  Interestingly, Georgia popped up again: number one on the list was the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.  Michigan/Michigan St. wasn’t far behind.

RIVALRY PER GAME BIGGER OFFENDER
Auburn-Georgia 5.4 Georgia 59%
Duke-North Carolina 5.2 N. Carolina 69%
UCLA-Southern California 4.8 UCLA 54%
N. Mexico-N.Mexico St. 4.6 N. Mexico 65%
Kansas-Missouri 4.2 Missouri 76%
Michigan-Michigan St. 4.0 Michigan St 80%
C. Michigan-W. Michigan 3.8 Western 58%
Brigham Young-Utah 3.6 Utah 61%
NC State-North Carolina 3.4 N. Carolina 59%

Report on college athletic director pay

USA Today reports:

Following the lead of the $5 million football coach, athletics directors may be next to hit the college sports salary jackpot.

ADs average about $450,000 at the NCAA’s top-tier schools, according to a USA TODAY analysis, rivaling the pay of many university presidents. But at least five ADs make more than $1 million, and since August 2010, at least 10 public schools have given their AD’s pay raises of $75,000 or more.

USA Today’s cover story on the topic is here. The paper also provided a breakdown of the top 120 schools’ ADs. The top ten, ranked in descending order by total pay:

School Athletics Director Conf. University pay Other pay Total pay Max Bonus
             
Vanderbilt David Williams SEC $2,560,505 $0 $2,560,505 $0
Florida Jeremy Foley SEC $1,545,250 $0 $1,545,250 $50,000
Louisville Tom Jurich Big East $1,422,204 $5,500 $1,427,704 $344,000
Texas DeLoss Dodds Big 12 $1,093,391 $2,365 $1,095,756 $125,000
Ohio State Gene Smith Big Ten $1,074,546 $0 $1,074,546 $250,000
Wisconsin Barry Alvarez Big Ten $1,000,000 $40,800 $1,040,800 $0
Oklahoma Joe Castiglione Big 12 $975,000 $0 $975,000 $510,000
Notre Dame Jack Swarbrick Indep. $932,232 $0 $932,232 $0
Duke Kevin White ACC $908,659 $0 $908,659 $0
Tennessee Dave Hart Jr. SEC $750,000 $0 $750,000 $0

(HT: @AndrewBrink)