May 3, 2011

Linkbacker U. Dodges an NCAA Bullet

Leading off today is an update to a link we posted a week ago, to an eBay listing for a 2008 Big Ten Championship Rose Bowl Ring. Naturally, one gets suspicious of those kinds of sales, particularly when it's such a recent item as Penn State's conference title three years ago. After all, many of those players are still on the team now.

But fear not, Penn Staters, there won't be any scandals in Happy Valley over this bit of memorabilia, as I've been able to confirm that the ring belonged to recently-departed running back Shaine Thompson. Thompson left the team following the 2010 season, and is not currently listed on any official roster.

So no "Ring-Gate 2011." Whew...

As for the bigger news from this past week, Evan Royster went in the 6th round, while Stefen Wisniewski was snatched up in the mid-2nd round, which is a nice place to get drafted. Expectations not too high, but it's not insultingly low draft picks, either.

But now comes one of, if not the worst part of the college football year. It's a dead period unlike any other, after the NFL Draft and before summer camp opens in July. Sure, the preview magazines will hit news stands in late May, early June. But those offer only a few days worth of interest. For the next two to three months, we'll be left with whatever news or punditry we can scavenge from the internets, and over-analyze every typed word. But that's what we do, because it's entertaining.

Enough with all that, here's the linkage...

So, does Joe Paterno ask for a "Peachy Me" at the Creamery?
(HT for that quip: WFY)
What, JoePa can't enjoy a little ice cream?

Spencer Hall brings us another masterpiece of a jab at the "real" sports media. You may have heard the phrase "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again." Well, a certain (fictional) ESPN editor has no use for such wordy, overly dramatic prose in the SEO dominated and standardized world of modern sports writing:


Thank you for the submission, but we unfortunately will not be able to use your work on our new website. We are looking for voices who echo a tradition of innovative, moving sportswriting that is at once young but timeless, emotionally moving but with a eye towards clinical critique, and infused with a creativity that never ceases in its quest to expand the parameters of sportswriting.

To expand on this, I'd like to just offer a few pointers for you in order to help you in your future work.
Outlined against a blue-gray(1) October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again.(2)
1. Hyphenates are a no-no. Just say "sky." Shorter is always better. This is always true. Trust. Me.

2. Wrestling references are a little low in the class department. This one is dated, too. When you write for us, think: "Would Malcolm Gladwell know who this is?" If not, don't include it.
In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death.(3) These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.(4) They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone (5) before which another fighting Army football team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon (6) as 55,000 spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama (7) spread on the green plain below.
3. Really need a reference here. You could link a Wikipedia page here or something to help out the reader, but make sure it opens in a new window. We don't want them going anywhere but here.

Be poppier, too. Refer to things not just people like, but that upper-middle class people like. Poor people don't read websites.
Read on, it's only gets better.

Evan Royster should contend for the starting job in DC right away:
“All he does is gain yards. He’s one of those guys, very smooth, very elusive. You run it back and forth and all of a sudden you’re saying, ‘How did he gain all those yards?’ When you take a look at his production at Penn State, all those yards, he’s just the guy I was hoping would be there and I feel very fortunate. I think we have an excellent back that will come in here and compete for a starting position.” - Mike Shanahan
The SacBee thinks Wiz will be the starting center.

Stewart Mandel thinks college football has gone to Hell, yet has never been more popular:
That's pretty much how it is for college football these days. It's been one negative headline after another for much of the past year, and each one brings a new round of columns, blog posts and tweets suggesting the sport is imploding. Surely its leaders must be in full-on crisis mode, right?

And then 90,000 people show up for a spring game. Or Fox Sports Net pays the Big 12 more than $1 billion for the rights to show 13 years of Kansas State-Missouri games. And we're reminded that somehow, amid all its visible dents, the machine just keeps getting stronger.
Well, the 90,000 figure is a bit of an exaggeration. Not that he needed to exaggerate spring game attendance. Remember, even 20,000 fans showing up to a glorified warmup session is kind of insane.

Kirk Herbstreit may not always get it right, but since we're on the topic of insanity, I think he nailed it this week:
"The Ohio State fan base blindly is supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel," Herbstreit said Monday. "It's almost gotten to the point that he beats Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games, they'll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base.

"If this would have happened to John Cooper [Herbstreit's coach], not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined it up and had a firing squad and fired him," he said.
Herbie was forced off Twitter this week by belligerent fans. No, the entire OSU fan base is not like those idiots who responded to Herbie's comments on Tressel. In fact, the rest of the fans are probably as embarrassed by this episode as much as I'd be had it happened at Penn State. It's just a shame that the morans are usually louder than everyone else.

Speaking of morans, Nebraska is looking like one now, because the AAU just kicked out the Cornhuskers.

Maize and Blue Nation posted a photo of a billboard today. LOLZ:

Football Study Hall is a blog you should be reading, if you're not already. This is one reason why. Remember this time last year, when we were all collapsing into near-total football Armageddon because of conference expansion? Well, FSH brings it all back up, in a very interesting retrospective:
Looking at the aftermath of conference realignment is only part of the fun, of course. With so many scenarios in play last June, it's also fun to look at what might have happened had certain teams or conferences moved in slightly different directions. There are too many scenarios to lay out here, but let's peruse a few.
Dr. Saturday looks back at the recruiting star-ratings of the NFL Draft picks. It's pretty convincing:
The four and five-star players, a group that makes up a little under 13 percent of the entire population of college players, accounts for just shy of 60 percent of first-rounders.
Black Heart Gold Pants has its own unique breakdown of how those pesky little stars work out for college players heading for the NFL. Makes Penn State look pretty damn good:
One of the great debates every recruiting season is over the importance of recruiting rankings. One one side are the recruitniks talking up the top names, and on the other side the "stars don't matter" crowd. And there's evidence both ways: schools with better recruiting classes do outperform their more recruit-challenged brethren, but certain schools consistently punch above their recruiting weight on the football field. So let's start by getting one thing straight, stars do matter, even if they aren't everything.
Even BSD got into the star game, with this post and then a rebuttal.

Smart Football thinks the NFL Draft is pretty much bullshit. It's not a difficult argument to grasp:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warns us:
In the union lawyers’ world, every player would enter the league as an unrestricted free agent, an independent contractor free to sell his services to any team. Every player would again become an unrestricted free agent each time his contract expired.
Rather than some corrupt dystopia, this sounds a lot like the free market and — I don’t know — real life to me...
We'll wrap up today with an eBay watch. Up this week is a different 1923 game ticket to Penn State vs Navy:

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