Mike Leach Prefers Solo Cougars

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We all know Washington State head football coach Mike Leach to be a sensible and worldly man, and that’s true even when it comes to the selection of his team’s captain. In an age when most teams send out four or more captains (plus honorary captains) to handle the game’s preliminary procedural matters, Leach prefers a simpler and more direct approach:

Makes sense to me. According to contemporary reports, Morrow readied himself for the show like the future D-I football captain he would become by watching lots of film: “Jamal did not come to the show unprepared. A week prior, he watched every Price is Right episode he could get his hands on.” He ended up winning “almost $2,000 worth of clothes.” (If you’re a TV weirdo, here‘s some kind of hyper-detailed breakdown of the episode.) The NCAA investigative report on whether this constituted an improper benefit remains outstanding.

At this time, our staff has been unable to locate video of Morrow’s appearance on “The Price is Right,” but we did find this visual still and commend Morrow’s attire.

Morrow took the over on the price of a Toyota Corolla on the show in 2013 and the over on his BAC in his own car in 2016.

Our staff also has been unable to locate coin toss results for the 2016 season, but, under Leach and Morrow, Washington State has won five games in a row and is undefeated (4-0) in conference play. Only two currently ranked opponents– Colorado and Washington– remain on their schedule. They play Oregon State this Saturday night on ESPN2.

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Previously
Mike Leach: Prospective time traveler
Mike Leach officially ushers in the 2015 college football season
Cougar dating tips from Mike Leach
Mike Leach Favors Cougars

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College football wrapup: 2014-15

The 2014 college football season is in the books, and Ohio State is the first school to win a national championship determined by a postseason playoff system.

Beyond the usual discussion of champions and coaching legacies (quickly: Urban Meyer– three national championships at two different schools, evil; Nick Saban– four national championships at two different schools, merely soulless), one of the central season-in-review topics of conversation, at least in these parts, is whether the SEC is over. Surprisingly but also not surprisingly, Paul Finebaum, voice of the SEC, answers the question implied in the previous sentence in the affirmative. (UPDATE: PFT Commenter emphatically concurs.) Although he’s been developing his position over the course of his daily radio show since roughly the first of the year, he summed up the general point in his appearance on Keith Olbermann’s show just before the national championship game:

In short: “It was a pretty bad year for the SEC.”

Although I contemplated the notion of Peak SEC at least as early as December 2012 and later pegged the possible date somewhat more recently, I’m not sure I agree that the SEC is over.

The SEC’s bowl record was 7-5. (They were 7-3 last year.) The Pacific Twelve was 6-2 (exclusive of Oregon’s national championship loss), the Big Ten was 5-5 (exclusive of Ohio State’s national championship win), the Big XII was 2-5, and the ACC was 4-7. In other words, among the power five conferences, the SEC had the most teams playing in bowl games and notched the second-best winning percentage.

What seems to concern Finebaum, though, is a sudden lack of championships. That people think the SEC is done for because one of its members hasn’t played for a national championship in a whole year and hasn’t won one in a whole two years is a testament to the never-before-seen degree of dominance the conference produced during the BCS era. Prior to Ohio State’s inaugural CFP championship on Monday, the Big Ten had 1.5 national championships since 1970. The SEC had nine in the BCS era (i.e., since 1998) alone. The ACC had two BCS championships, the ACC had two, the (now-defunct for football purposes) Big East had one, and the then-Pac Ten had one, since vacated.

After the hunt for Mississippi October turned up empty and OSU knocked Alabama out in the semis, the SEC may need to do a little more to earn its seeds next year, but I’m not sure we can say the conference is measurably weaker simply because it failed to produce a national champion this year. If anything, the above suggests the conference is as deep as ever.

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Transitioning toward the offseason and the 2015 season, I’ll use this space to remind everyone that Michigan State’s only losses in 2014 were to Ohio State and Oregon. The Spartans face both teams again in 2015, albeit without the aid of their departed defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi. Continue reading

College Football Playoff Championship Preview

Oregon meets Ohio State tonight in the inaugural College Football Playoff finale, and I’m most excited about the ESPN Megacast, which, in addition to the above, includes an ESPN Radio play-by-play broadcast as well. ESPN gets knocked around plenty for doing things like bowing to the will of “partners” like the NFL at the expense of its own journalistic integrity or hosting a platform for grey-matter destroyers like Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Colin Cowherd, but there are times when they leverage their resources to make significant improvements to the fan experience. ESPN introduced the Megacast concept for the final BCS championship game one year ago, and it was such a success that it’s back again this year, bigger and better than ever. In the interim period, other networks have experimented with the concept, loosely defined, in other sports, and I believe this is the way we will enjoy all major sporting events in the near future.

(If at this point you are wondering what ESPN Goal Line is, it appears to be a Briagdoon-like offering that will materialize on your TV sometime today, maybe. Anyway, you can find me tuning into ESPN Classic’s “sounds of the game.”)

Game Comments

As Sports Illustrated graphically illustrated in this week’s issue, Ohio State and Oregon actually were quite close to each other this year in statistical terms. Initially, there are two reasons to question that apparent parity, however: 1) Oregon plays in the stronger Pacific Twelve conference, while OSU spent much of the season feasting on relatively weaker conference opponents, and 2) Ohio State earned much of its production with quarterbacks not named and thought to be superior to Cardale Jones, the man who will be under center for the Buckeyes tonight. It is right to regard Oregon as the better team in this matchup.

There are a number of factors that cut against Oregon’s edge, however:   Continue reading

Book Review: Paul Finebaum’s Conference has Beaten Your Conference (Probably)

IMG-20140814-00138For someone who spends twenty hours a week on national airwaves as the host of an eponymous radio show, now simulcast on cable television, and makes regular television appearances on a major network, Paul Finebaum sure does manage to keep himself hidden.

I am not a longtime listener of Finebaum’s show by any means. I first remember hearing about him when I moved back to SEC country during the 2012 football season and he was still broadcasting on Birmingham’s WJOX. Due largely to my own preconceived misconceptions, I was surprised when I first heard the show following its move to ESPN Radio in 2013 to find that it was an extremely caller-driven show, to the point where Finebaum rarely asserted his own voice for purposes other than briefly sparring with or otherwise egging on his admittedly bombastic callers. At that time, the majority of those callers remained Alabama-based, and the Alabama-Auburn football rivalry served as nearly every item on the host’s go-to menu.

While a lot of this struck me as fairly standard cheap talk radio tactics, I remained intrigued by this person, who had risen to such prominence and reported influence, despite, I thought, hardly taking active steps to exert much in the way of influence. I therefore read the then-recent and still-surprising long feature on Finebaum in The New Yorker with great interest and anticipation. I found the piece to be more an introduction for Manhattanites to the other SEC and its attendant culture than a deep dive on Finebaum himself. Finebaum as access point, rather than Finebaum as subject. (A long Deadspin feature from the same year had a similar effect.) It’s a worthwhile read if you like college football. Still, I did not feel like I knew or understood this man, though, or why he was so widely regarded.

Fast forward (the lazy blogger wrote) to August 14, 2014. The SEC Network, an ESPN entity, launches (on Tim Tebow’s birthday, naturally), and Finebaum’s book, My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football, arrived in my mailbox.

Continue reading

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

fairleyALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back, taking a look at all the highs and lows of the latest round of football action.

College Football

Pregame:

  • In anticipation of the LSU-UGA game, a secret-recipe cheesy bean dip was made. So much was made, in fact, that it lasted much longer than the game, although not quite as long as Georgia coach Mark Richt spent kissing his wife following a win over Kentucky.

The games:

  • LSU-Georgia was a thriller. Georgia continues to lose important players to injury, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down. This week, star running back Todd Gurley sprained his ankle in the second quarter, but backup Keith Marshall filled in and had a career day. In the end, the Dwags outgunned the Tigers 44-41 and are in the driver’s seat on the road to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
  • I also thought Ole Miss-Alabama would be a good game, but it was not. The Rebels limited Alabama’s scoring early, but they were unable to do any scoring of their own, which is an easy-bake recipe for a loss. Ole Miss 0, Alabama 25.     Continue reading

ALDLAND Podcast

Since I can’t play GTA V 100% of the time, I took some time off to record a podcast with my trusty cohost Marcus. (Token) diversity is the name of the game this time, as Marcus and I talk a little soccer before getting back into college football. So take some time out of your own playthrough of GTA V and give this podcast a listen.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

ALDLAND Podcast

As promised, ALDLAND is back at it again with another college football preview blowout. Every BCS conference is discussed, and don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the Domers. Join Marcus and I, along with a special surprise guest as we unveil our picks and discuss the major players in the 2013 season as we see it. College football! So exciting!

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

NCAA Tournament: Day 1 Recap

spartyondrumsFor the most part, everyone did what they were supposed to do yesterday, with a few exceptions. Some of the highlights:

  • Despite some fight from Valparaiso and surrendering turnovers in spades, Michigan State pulled away to a win in the tournament’s opening game.
  • Newly anointed Gonzaga nearly blew their opportunity and almost became the first #1 seed to go down in the first round, escaping with a win over a Southern team that would not go away.
  • Harvard University, which has so little going for it, finally found some success in the realm of sport, securing its first tournament win with an upset of #3 New Mexico.
  • New Mexico State also lost yesterday, making this article really sad.
  • Colorado State’s win over continually hapless Missouri was a yawner…until it wasn’t!
  • When will we stop underseeding the Pacific Twelve? Oregon pulled one of the least surprising 12-5 upsets ever by knocking off Eddie Sutton-less Oklahoma State, while #12 Cal eked one out against #5 UNLV.
  • As usual, I got greedy with underdogs in the early rounds, so the dispatching of UNLV and Belmont wasn’t too kind to my ALDLAND bracket. (If you’re a junkie, you can see the updated standings here. We’ll do a deep analysis after the first two rounds are complete.)

On that last point, keep an eye on Ole Miss and Wisconsin today, outcome to be determined by the severity of Marshall Henderson’s inevitable hangover.

ALDLAND Podcast

College football season is finally here!  Join blog founder AD and I, along with a special guest, as we go conference by conference and give you a comprehensive preview of the upcoming season.

Also a shoutout to Felix Hernandez, who notched his fifth complete game shutout of the season, but could not be included in the podcast since this is college football only, and also because it happened while we were recording.  Anyway, go ahead and press play.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

Mike Leach Favors Cougars

I was a Mike Leach fan long before Craig James took the helm of the mothership and got Leach fired from the head coaching job at Texas Tech. I think I first learned about Leach through an interview on Jim Rome’s radio show and was hooked by his deadpan demeanor and the facts that he has a law degree from Pepperdine and kept an automatronic pirate-skelleton in his office. I’m not even a pirate guy, but the random, dry sense of humor, and the nonchalance with which he carried on his job as a successful college football coach of one of the highest-flying offenses in the nation all combined to hit me just right.

When Leach finally landed his next coaching job, Washington State plainly had gotten a real steal, and though his tone of voice would never betray it, it appears that Leach has embraced his new home as well. From an interview posted yesterday on SB Nation’s WSU site:

Jim Moore: In a battle to the death among Pac-12 mascots, which animal or person wins?

Mike Leach: The Cougar absolutely. Let’s go through this a little bit. A cougar obviously kills a duck and a beaver. A cougar against a husky … that’s pretty well a massacre. A cardinal or whatever: I don’t know exactly what a cougar would either climb it or I wouldn’t want to think of what else he’d do on it. Now Golden Bears could be kinda tough. I think you’d want to be a little fast and loose with them. You don’t want to get caught by that bear. The Ute … you gotta dodge some arrowheads, but I still like the Cougar. Buffalo … I think the buffalo would be pretty tough to beat. Wildcat: Cougars are bigger than wildcats. Sun Devils, that’s mythical anyway. Trojans, they may be as well. I think you gotta look out for the Bruins and the Buffalo. The Golden Bear, Bruin and Buffalo .. I think those are the tough ones.

Moore: Why the Buffalo?

Leach: Do you want to fight a buffalo? I don’t know, those buffalo are big. You know, buffalo are significantly bigger than elk. I grew up near Yellowstone so I’ve been near buffalo. Buffalo are huge. And then the other thing I’ve always gotten a kick out of: When you play Colorado, there’s those buffalo dragging those six handlers around. Those handlers aren’t dragging the buffalo. The buffalo’s dragging him.

Ralphie’s not even a big buffalo. Ralphie pulls those people wherever he wants to.

More on the interview, including audio, is available here.

At the very least, Leach gives WAZZU fans a reason to believe they can climb out of the Pacific Twelve basement and the rest of us a reason to watch that miserable conference.