Football scores

Football has kind of weird scores. Even though it is common to most readers of this blog, a sport where scoring 3 or 7 is common while 2 is rare is kind of weird in the scheme of sports (most other sports are strictly one point at a time other than basketball where 1, 2, 3 are each fairly common).

I was always interested as a kid in figuring out what possible scores can happen in a football game. Certainly multiples of seven are common: 7, 14, 21, 28, etc. along with one or two field goals thrown in for good measure. I wanted to know exactly which scores are possible and which are absolutely forbidden.

Each team’s score is independent of the other: how many points I can score doesn’t depend on how many the other team scores, so we need only look at a single team’s possible scores. For numbers less than seven, zero is clearly possible. Next, a safety gives two and a field goal three. Four, five, and six are made up of combinations of safeties and field goals. Then anything seven or greater can be scored by following simples rules (along with many other possible combinations): keep subtracting seven point touchdowns as long as possible. If the remaining score is zero, you are done. If it is one, switch one of the extra points to a two point conversion. Otherwise, if it is two through six, add safeties and field goals as necessary. For example, if a team had its heart set on scoring 43 points in a game, we would see that six touchdowns takes us to 42, one point short, so five regular touchdowns plus one with a two point conversion gets us there. (For the adventurous reader, this sort of math is known as modular arithmetic.)

This leaves us with any score accessible except for one. This was always a bit disappointing because that is infinitely many possible inaccessible scores. But so it goes.

Except, not. Actually this is not true at all. Continue reading

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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

Why do you hate Johnny Manziel?

After Rice lost to Texas A&M on Saturday, Physguy put fingers to keyboard to write that he hates A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Why? It’s tough to tell, exactly. Physguy doesn’t like the on-field taunting and “trash talk to Rice players,” although he concedes that Rice players “were probably trash talking [Manziel] too but didn’t get flagged for it.” He also didn’t like it when Manziel asked his teammates to make room for him on the bench. (For completeness, I might as well add that Manziel apparently Tebowed too.)

When I saw the reigning Heisman Trophy winner make the gesture depicted above on Saturday, it reminded me of Gilbert Arenas’ guns-up pregame celebration following his suspension for presenting firearms in the Washington Wizards’ locker room. Probably not the smartest thing to do, given the context. But then again, guns and the people who use them kill people; autographs, given for a fee or otherwise, do not.

More on context though: 1) the “money” touchdown celebration isn’t a new one for Manziel or A&M; 2) as the USA Today article to which Physguy linked explains, Nick Elder, one of Rice’s own players, defended Manziel, tweeting that he was the player to whom Manziel was talking, and the message was, “what’s up nick, nice hit”; and 3) to state the obvious about football players, Manziel isn’t even the first quarterback to engage in attention-seeking celebrations.

For more on that third point, consider that Manziel’s celebrations are self-referential, and, as such, perhaps preferable. Former Boise State quarterback and probable Detroit Lions starter at some point this season Kellen Moore favored the “double-guns-shoot-your-coach” touchdown celebration. Nothing really wrong with that, but if we’re being hyper-sensitive to these things, there’s at least an element of violence there. It isn’t directed at the other team, like Tim Tebow’s gator chomp, or disrespecting a team’s stadium or symbols.

Maybe Physguy, a Rice fan, is sore because of Manziel’s success against the Owls– in about 1.25 quarters of play, Manziel had three TD passes and no interceptions, going 6/8 for ninety-four yards through the air and nineteen more on the ground– which is ok (Rice sometimes lets games slip away in the second half), but fans of a losing team can’t really quibble with celebrations that are a (showy, but non-offensive to the other team) variant of pointing to the scoreboard. At least Manziel was celebrating successful plays on the way to a win for his team. Over-celebrating when you’re losing is worthy of a critical blog post (e.g., Cam Newton last fall against the Giants); when you’re winning, such are the spoils of victory.

And if it’s perceived snarkiness that concerns Physguy– he wrote that “my Rice Owls . . . stayed classy”– what does he have to say for his beloved Marching Owl Band, which played to the current controversy at least as much as Manziel by wearing Manziel-autograph t-shirts as their uniforms for the day?

Towards the end, Physguy writes: “But this story, despite the title, isn’t about Manziel. It’s first about the media coverage of him.” The frequency with which the ESPN announcers mentioned Manziel and the focus of its cameras on the temporarily suspended quarterback drew Physguy’s scorn. The controversial return to action of the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy is a hugely appropriate story for coverage, though. If Physguy is disappointed that the coverage of Manziel came at the expense of coverage of his team, he should consider that without Manziel on the other side of the ball, Rice isn’t playing on national television last weekend. Moreover, if he really wanted to take issue with the Worldwide Leader’s treatment of a young Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, he should have focused his critical eye on ESPN’s coverage of the New England Patriots’ decision to release Tim Tebow, which aired to the exclusion of an actually compelling human interest story surrounding NFL preseason roster cuts.

Rather than address Physguy’s final full paragraph, which finds him even further afield from the topic at hand, I’ll end by saying that I hope Johnny Manziel can keep it together on and off the field this season, because I want to see him play. While he almost certainly is headed to the NFL next year, I don’t think he has a lot of professional potential. Let’s enjoy Johnny (College) Football in his element as long as we can. No need to hate.

I Hate Johnny Manziel

I am an Owl. I root for Rice week in week out. And it is tough of course. Since I graduated they have gone 15-23 (including today). Joy.

And Texas A&M is better at football than Rice is. Yes we may have had more total yard and more than a QUARTER (over sixteen minutes) more time of possession, but at the end of the day it is still Rice playing a top ten team. A&M made its share of mistakes as did Rice. Turnovers for both teams, key penalties for both teams. It’s week one. You know the drill.

But here I am in my third paragraph on a post titled, for most readers probably, just “Manziel” or “Hate Manziel” and I haven’t mentioned him yet. Yes I think he’s an individual lacking control of himself (although the announcers suggested that that made him a better player – only to later turn around and say that his lack of leadership led to his teammates also getting hit with personal foul penalties), but this post isn’t really about him. He is very talented (although he didn’t really outshine their second stringer Joeckel who went an impressive 14/19 for 190 yards and 1/0 TD/INT – of course we are talking about Rice so outshining is difficult, I know), but I did worry that a number of other talented players on their team (Joeckel most clearly, but probably others as well) were getting outshined.

Certainly Manziel behaved poorly on the field. USA Today summarizes most of the key points here. The highlights include multiple clear examples of trash talk to Rice players. Of course, we were probably trash talking him too but didn’t get flagged for it and it wasn’t obvious. For some bizarre reason he was miming signing autographs. I don’t know why he would think that was a good thing when his investigation is still officially open by the NCAA. I like to think he was saying “People pay me to sign pieces of paper what have you got?”. Yeah he scored a few TDs on us, but we sacked him a few times too so whatever. The missed detail in the linked article that I found particularly ridiculous was when he shows up to sit down on his own bench and requests that players make room for him. A beefy looking lineman promptly gets up and walks away as Manziel cracks a megawatt smile.

But this story, despite the title, isn’t about Manziel. It’s first about the media coverage of him. What?? The media overcovers athletes who are colorful (notice the end of the title of the link above)? Okay true, but hopefully my suggestive title drives enough angry traffic to this site to pay for all the beer I drank every time they mentioned Manziel. It could have been more than once a minute and that doesn’t even account for the Manziel cam they had going on him throughout the first half (when he wasn’t even eligible to play). It sounded like the announcers knew that Rice apparently had a football team and was a food that is delicious with curry among other things. It took ages for them to mention a single Rice player despite our first quarter dominance (neither claim is hyperbole for those who didn’t watch this epic Texas showdown).

Okay, so why am I writing this article? To trash talk ESPN’s massive overcoverage of single silly athletes? There is another problem with the whole situation. Sumlin (the Aggies (that’s what someone from A&M is called apparently) head coach) claimed that Manziel had matured. That said, he still wasn’t voted a team captain despite literally winning the highest prize awarded to any college footballer last year. It comes to mind that it is unclear to me what the A&M coaching staff has been doing. Their team received a handful of unforced personal foul penalties including one ejection. So controlling behavior clearly wasn’t taught. An undersized Rice team showed up and showed A&M how to play ball (before their players quickly learned from the lesson and trounced us, I get it) out of the gates. And when interviewed at half time (I missed the post-game interview, relevant comments would be appreciated) he showed no sign of even knowing what team he was playing. To all coaches: acknowledging your opponent’s strengths is just about the classiest thing you can do. We all want to see it more.

Anyways, my Rice Owls beat the spread by a touchdown, taught A&M how to play ball, and stayed classy. For us, that’s a win.

Instant analysis: Manziel suspended; NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1

johnnydaveYes, that Johnny Manziel. ESPN confirmed that the NCAA and Texas A&M agreed that the defending Heisman Trophy winner will be suspended for the first half of the Aggies’ season-opener against Rice. Although the joint statement said that there was “no evidence that Manziel received payment for signing autographs,” Manziel nevertheless faces punishment because he violated NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1. That rule prohibits student-athletes from permitting others to use the student-athletes’ names or likenesses for commercial purposes. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t subscribe to TexAgs.com disagrees that Manziel violated that rule.

In full, bylaw 12.5.2.1 provides:

After becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual:

(a) Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind; or

(b) Receives remuneration for endorsing a commercial product or service through the individual’s use of such product or service.

Because the NCAA has no evidence that Manziel actually received money for the thousands of autographs he signed for a few professional memorabilia dealers, it’s clear he’s being punished under the portion of subsection (a) that declares ineligible a student-athlete who “permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”

The problem for the NCAA is that every student-athlete is in violation of bylaw 12.5.2.1 simply by willingly participating in college athletics. Thanks to the various licensing agreements of the NCAA and colleges, to say nothing of tickets to games, matches, and meets, every student-athlete “permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service” simply by being a student-athlete competing in NCAA-sanctioned athletic events.

At the very least, the NCAA is guilty of selective enforcement in this instance by singling out Manziel for his violation of bylaw 12.5.2.1 when every other student-athlete also is in violation of the rule. The NCAA has three obvious options at this point: 1) lift the arbitrary and capricious Manziel suspension; 2) dissolve itself; or 3) suspend every student-athlete for the first half of the Texas A&M-Rice game.

College football bowl schedule released

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The full bowl schedule, including times and broadcast networks, is here. Some highlights, in chronological order:   Continue reading

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…