ESPN conducted a survey of all 128 Division I college football coaches, asking them to name their favorite musical artist. The full list of responses is here. My cursory analysis is here: Continue reading
ALDLAND is back on the podcast track after a month-long break. Holidays kept us down, but they could not keep us away forever, and so we are back to talk NFL playoffs and NFL coaching changes. Expect podcasts to be more weekly from now on.
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ALDLAND’s weekly football review returns after an infamous fall wedding weekend. Bear with us as we attempt to piece together the happenings of the last few days.
- After the Game of the Century of the Season of the Week last week in College Station, everybody predicted a scheduling letdown this week. Sports predictions have become (always were?) completely useless and devoid of meaning, but once in a while, the wisdom of the crowd gets it right. Throwing out expired food? No, actually. A soft slate of week-four matchups? For the most part, yes.
The games — That 70s Show:
- Clemson opened the week of play by getting punchy on Thursday night in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over North Carolina State. So far as I can tell, the Tigers have played only fellow Carolinians to this point in the season. A check of their schedule confirms this, and the trend will continue this weekend. (EDIT: Except for that little game against UGA in week one.) Clemson 26, North Carolina State 14.
- A number of teams posted gaudy scores and spreads. Since they already had their fun, they’re all getting grouped in this one paragraph. Ohio State 76, FAMU 0. Louisville 72, FIU 0. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Washington 56, Idaho State 0. Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7 (that one’s actually a little surprising). Florida State 54, Bethune-Cook 6. Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10. UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13. Texas A&M 42, SMU 13. And others.
Everyone saw the game and it was a few days ago, so here are just a few points to put a wrap on this sports year*:
Thanks for tuning into our Super Bowl coverage. Onward.
*It really feels like the “sports year” ought to run from Super Bowl to Super Bowl, so we’re going to treat it that way around here. I’m not really sure what we’ll touch on between now and the Daytona 500, but there are a few items in the pipeline, so don’t worry. The slowest sports day of the year doesn’t come until July anyway.
Recently AD asked me with regard to Jim Harbaugh how it was that one “Michigan Man” could so heartily reject another “Michigan Man.” Full disclosure: my hatred for various sports stars has not always been rational. I once hated Cale Hulse with a passion because his last name was too similar to Brett Hull’s. More recently I have hated Sidney Crosby for perfectly good reasons, namely his role in the Penguins’ cheating to win the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. I like to think that my hatred of Harbaugh is similarly justified. …Read the rest…
The NFL conference championship round is set, after Tom Brady’s Patriots and Eli Manning’s Giants brought harsh and decisive ends to special seasons for the Denver Tebows and Green Bay Packers, respectively. In its first home playoff game of the Harbaugh era, the Ravens won a close victory over the Texans thanks, as usual, to their defense, but it was the other Harbaugh whose team played the game of the weekend at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, defeating the Saints in a game that saw twenty-eight points scored in the final four minutes alone, when each touchdown also was a lead-change. While fan favorites and media darlings Green Bay and Denver are out, along with popular championship pick New Orleans, the final four teams offer a lot of excitement. The NFC championship features two teams (SF and NYG) that are peaking right now, and the AFC features a traditional, compelling offense vs. defense matchup (NE and BAL).
The college basketball national picture remains mixed, with Northwestern taking Michigan to overtime and then ending Michigan State’s fifteen-game win streak. Duke, Kentucky, and Georgetown all have shown weaknesses, while Syracuse has maintained a perfect record atop the Big East (ditto for Baylor in the Big XII). Vanderbilt, a top team in preseason rankings, appears to have found its way after falling out of the top 25, although a backloaded schedule means its toughest tests are yet to come.
The San Francisco 49ers are 9-2, their best start since 2001. In trying to understand the team’s sudden success, many are pointing to some combination of new coach Jim Harbaugh and supposedly resurrected quarterback Alex Smith as the reason for the change.
The one person nobody seems to mention, though, is running back Frank Gore. While Smith and Harbaugh have bumped the Niners up to be the league’s 29th-best passing team, Gore has made them the seventh-best rushing team in the NFL. In a league in which RBs only last for three to five years, Gore is playing in his seventh season, and he played all of them for SF. Since he became a starter in his second year, Gore has rushed for fewer than 1,000 yards in only one season (2010, when he only played eleven games and still rushed for 853 yards), and he never averaged fewer than 4.2 yards per carry. Although his receiving numbers are severely down this year, that’s likely due to Harbaugh-induced schematic changes, and with 909 rushing yards through eleven games, Gore should have no problem finishing on the high side of 1,000 again this year.
While Gore hasn’t done anything out of his ordinary this year, observers’ ignorance of his role in the 49ers’ success requires explanation.