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It is the rare occasion that something appears on this blog that doesn't, in some tangential yet rational way, relate to Syracuse athletics and/or my personal plight in supporting the university

But today is a special day. A special day indeed.

Over the last five days or so, the University of Connecticut has placed itself squarely between a rock and a hard place.

And I love it.

In a scathing article penned by my new hero - Gregg Doyel - Jim Calhoun is painted as a misguided warden letting the inmates run the institution (no pun intended). Some quotes of note include:
UConn coach Jim Calhoun is a Hall of Famer and a champion, but when it comes to coaching, he is not a moral beacon of light. This is not a news flash.

This is the man who found a legal way to pay off the AAU coaches of three major UConn targets -- Denham Brown, Brandon Bass and Rudy Gay -- by setting up sham exhibition games with teams connected to their AAU programs. It worked so well that Brown and Gay signed with UConn ... and the NCAA changed its rules about preseason exhibitions, putting a lot of well-meaning exhibition outfits out of business.
Also, in speaking about the recent Doug Wiggins fiasco:
Maybe Wiggins had grown up rooting for the Huskies. Maybe he was heartbroken not to have been recruited by UConn. Maybe it doesn't matter. St. John's offered Wiggins, Wiggins accepted, and it was up to Calhoun to honor the process.

But Calhoun honors nothing but his own program. That is why Calhoun, er, the school, suspended reserve point guard A.J. Price for the entire 2005-06 season but suspended All-American point guard Marcus Williams for just the first semester -- despite their involvement in the same criminal case. Price was expendable. Williams was not. This is justice, Jim Calhoun style.
And one more, for good measure:
Calhoun is feared, but he is not respected. Not by coaching colleagues who have grown tired of his cutthroat negative recruiting tactics and by his exploitation of NCAA loopholes like the one that landed him Brown and Gay.
Now, simply trying to deflect concerns of the ethical deficiencies of a "hall of fame" coach is one thing. It's another animal when the lack of institutional integrity and control extends further than simply failing to recognize proper etiquette and custom in recruiting.

In a series of interesting blog entries filed by Syracuse hoops aficionado Mike Waters, UCONN is feeling the heat not only for its efforts to field quality basketball players, but also for its failure to exercise the high standards of integrity commensurate with running an institution of higher education. To allow Marcus Williams and A.J. Price to receive disparate and insufficient treatment and punishment smacks of slapstick rather than justice.

If I were penning the Husky Blog, I'd be spending more time attacking the university for its failure to recognize its responsibilities as a purveyor of values and education rather than the utter stupidity of actually using up space on the internet to write about women's volleyball.

Something needs to be done about the shameful acts UCONN and its agents are committing. There's a reason that UCONN has pulled itself up by the bootstraps and become a terrific college hoops program, and that reason appears to be one of poor ethical foundation.

I have no knowledge as to whether Jim Calhoun or others have engaged in more serious conduct (paying players, etc.), but from the information becoming available to the public through these news items and the university's utter lack of attention in dealing with them appropriately, I would not find it unrealistic to believe that UCONN is engaging in prohibited activity as defined by the NCAA. It is usually not the case that these superficial transgressions are the extent of a program's problems. Rather, they are illustrative of larger, more serious problems plaguing a program and demand the NCAA's immediate attention.

Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done quickly and thoroughly.

Shame on you, Jim Calhoun.
Shame on you, University of Connecticut.

FootBlogPoll: Week Ten

Only one thing needs to be said about this past week's slate of games: Somebody please stop Nike from thinking up these terrible uniform patterns.


[Games I Took In This Week]
Purdue v. Penn State
Georgia v. Florida

(Weak, I know. I was stuck in a room for six hours taking a practice bar examination. Then again, that was more pleasurable than watching Syracuse implode on its home turf (again).)

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight
Week Nine

BlogPoll Central

[Notes About This Week's Ballot]
As noted, I only caught two games this week and a handful of highlights from Saturday's showdowns. As such, I'll accept much more guidance this week with my ballot, assuming the comments are well thought out and persuasive.

There are a couple things I'm looking for help on:
1. Did I drop Georgia too far?
2. Does 'Bama need to slide in between (or over, for that matter) Notre Dame and Miami?
3. I think I'm totally wrong on Wisconsin, but since I hardly get to see them play, I'm hesitant to move them up rapidly. Any suggestions?
4. Hello, Rutgers! Should Louisville have your spot?
5. Speaking of Rutgers, I'm not particularly attached to any of the last three teams on my ballot. Are there any other teams that are worthy of those spots?
6. I thought hard about flopping Florida and Penn State. In the end, I think I'm right by having them slotted where they are, but I'm willing to listen to reasonable arguments.
7. Auburn to high? Oregon too low?

FootBlogPoll: Week Ten
1.Southern California8-01
3.Virginia Tech8-03
4.Louisiana State6-15
5.Notre Dame5-26
6.Miami (FL)6-17
10.Penn State8-111
11.Ohio State6-210
13.Florida State7-113
17.Fresno State6-117
18.Texas Tech7-118
19.West Virginia6-119
20.Boston College6-214
23.Georgia Tech5-2NR

Tipping Points: Virginia

This essay is Part 3 of a series of about 12 detailing the plight of Syracuse Football 2005. The structure of the essays is derived from the looking glass erected by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. For more information about Gladwell's book and the data used for the following examination, check out this previous essay.

Final Score: 24-27
Box Score

Tipping Points: Virginia

Unlike Syracuse’s games against West Virginia and Buffalo, the battle with Virginia saw no glaring statistical anomalies that one could peg as absolute reasons why Syracuse won or lost. Rather, the tilt against the Cavaliers turned on one statistical category – yards per drive – and the two stats that residually create an advantage in that category – yards per rushing attempt and third down efficiency.

Yards per drive is a statistic of paramount importance. To possess the football allows for an offense to: a) create greater opportunities to score, b) deny an opponent the most efficient opportunity to score (via an offense), c) fatigue an opposing defense, and d) rest the offense’s own defense. Thus, longer drives are inherently more efficient, and efficiency, above all else, is the easiest road to victory.

Against Virginia, Syracuse was absolutely demolished on a yards per drive basis sitting at the wrong end of a 34.667 to 21.000 disparity. Even with Brendan Carney’s golden leg, with a discrepancy this pronounced, field position could never be flipped, thus creating a great burden on a terrible offense to try and flip the field on its own.

As for yards per drive contributing to an offense’s opportunities to score, Virginia’s advantage in the category was substantial. It is a general premise that every 12 yards an offense generates equates to approximately one point. Considering each team’s yard per drive numbers, Virginia was generating about 2.9 yards per drive while Syracuse was only creating approximately 1.75 points per offensive outing.

To neutralize this advantage, Syracuse would have needed to convert turnovers into immediate defensive points or tremendous field position. This, of course, never happened, and since the game ultimately came down to each offense needing to win the game for its team, Virginia was at a great advantage.

With the tipping point effectively identified, the question turns to how Virginia was able to dominate in that category. The answers to that question come in two different, but symbiotic, offensive aspects.

The primary reason Virginia was able to dominate in yards per drive was the Cavaliers ability to run the football. With Marques Hagans and Peerman running all over the football field, Virginia was able to accumulate a 6.2 yards per carry average. The Orange, on the other hand, was limited to only 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.

Virginia was so competent at running the football compared to Syracuse’s incompetence at the same task, Syracuse’s slight advantage in the passing game was rendered moot. The Orange was able to outpace the Cavaliers in yards per pass attempt (differential) (1.04), yards per attempt (6.62 to 5.58), and yards per completion basis (10.12 to 9.06). But since Virginia was able to rely on a much more effective method at moving the chains, the Cavaliers’ inability to defeat the Orange through the air was insignificant.

While differences between offensive attacks may lead to reasonable inferences as to why Virginia was able to dominate in yards per drive, the most important inference is fairly subtle.

When a team can effectively run the football, manageable third down situations are bound to result. Running the football effectively on first and/or second down creates a situation where third and short can result. This, consequently, provides the offense greater opportunity to exploit either the run or the pass to move the chains on third down.

In this game, the advantage of diversity on third down greatly inured to Virginia’s benefit. With a vast majority of Virginia’s third downs occurring with only minimal yardage to left gain to move the chains, the Cavaliers were able to outpace (and outrun) the Orange in third down efficiency by over 25% (59% to 33%).

Essentially, Virginia was able to use its ability to run to convert all those third and manageables. Syracuse, on the other hand, when faced with third and manageable, could not rely on its ground game to move the chains since it was only picking up 2.2 yards per carry.

The relationship, therefore, should be blindingly apparent:
• The ability to pound the football creates greater opportunity to convert third downs;
• The ability to convert third downs creates greater opportunity to extend drives; and
• The ability to extend drives creates greater opportunity to score points.

Since Syracuse couldn’t even compete in the first aspect of the syllogism, there was no way the Orange offense (or the defense for that matter) could create circumstances necessary for victory.

The one statistical irregularity that doesn’t quite shake straight with the above commentary is drive efficiency factor (DEF). In this statistical category, the disparity between Syracuse and Virginia was very close (1.75 to 1.889). The question, therefore, is why Syracuse was able to stay so close to Virginia in DEF while getting destroyed in yards per drive.

It appears that this irregularity can be explained by Syracuse’s advantage in the turnover game. DEF is premised on tempering points factor by turnovers per drive. When that value is determined, it is multiplied by four, since a turnover denies an offense two points while providing the opponent with two of its own (thus the four point swing). With Syracuse forcing Virginia to commit three turnovers in the game, Virginia’s DEF was significantly impacted.

Thus, the relative closeness between Syracuse’s DEF and Virginia’s DEF is attributable to Syracuse’s defense, rather than Syracuse’s offense.

Tipping Points: Buffalo

This essay is Part 2 of a series of about 12 detailing the plight of Syracuse Football 2005. The structure of the essays is derived from the looking glass erected by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. For more information about Gladwell's book and the data used for the following examination, check out this previous essay.

Final Score: 31-0
Box Score

Tipping Points: Buffalo

There’s not much useful knowledge that can be taken from the numbers generated in the Buffalo game. Buffalo, with all due respect to Temple, is arguably the worst team in Division-1A this season. Thus, the statistics lend themselves more to Buffalo’s incompetence than Syracuse’s ability.

However, for the sake of presenting an analysis, there are some things worth pointing out.

Damien Rhodes had an awesome game against the Bulls racking up over 200 yards on the ground and a bushel full of touchdowns. This individual performance, though, put a mask on a lot of the offense’s other deficiencies.

Against Buffalo, Syracuse was able to pound the football at a 6.327 yards per carry clip. While impressive, the ability to run the pigskin greatly overshadowed the Orange’s inability to pass it. Against Buffalo’s horrendous secondary, Perry Patterson and the Syracuse receivers were only able to rack up 6.318 yards per pass attempt and 8.1 yards per pass completion. Considering the fact that Syracuse was running the ball so effectively, it is reasonable to believe that the Bulls defense would be predisposed to stopping the rush, thus opening up greater opportunity for Syracuse to covert long yards via the passing game. This never came to fruition.

Essentially, when the Orange was given its best chance at passing the ball effectively, it wasn’t able to do so competently. Thus, it can be argued that Syracuse didn’t stick with the run because Buffalo couldn’t stop it. Rather, Syracuse stuck with the run because the Orange simply couldn’t pass it effectively. When a team is almost running the ball at the same clip they are passing it, a clear deficiency is present.

In fact, Syracuse was so pitiful attempting to advance the football through the air, it was actually out gained by Buffalo on a yardage per pass completion basis by almost six yards. That is totally unacceptable. Buffalo is a team that needs to be dominated in every aspect of the game, and Syracuse was unable to do that.

Another interesting statistic coming out of the Buffalo game was Syracuse’s true offensive benefit. True offensive benefit is an indication of how many points a team’s offense generated through a consideration of yards gained, turnovers committed, and total drives completed. Thus, a team that values the football and possesses it for long periods of time generates a high TOB since more opportunities to score are present.

Against the Bulls, Syracuse generated a TOB 40.583. While impressive and leads one to believe that the Orange really had things clicking on offense, this value is grossly misleading. With a TOB higher than the actual points scored by the Orange, only one conclusion can be reached – Syracuse was, once again, unable to effectively convert yards and field position into points.

Put another way, Syracuse was able to move the football, but was unable to maximize the utility of those yards. Considering the Orange did not commit a turnover in the game, the ultimate onus must fall on the coaching staff and the players executing the staff’s edicts for failing to cash in when the opportunities presented themselves.

That isn’t just disappointing, it’s maddeningly frustrating.

Granted, points are often taken away when an offense possesses the ball at the end of the half and time simply runs out before points can be scored, but with a discrepancy hovering safely above ten points, it is highly unlikely that the disparity between TOB and actual points accumulated can be blamed solely on the halftime and final buzzers being blown while the Syracuse offense possessed the football.

The numbers don’t lie, even though I wish they would.

Tipping Points: West Virginia

This essay is Part 1 of a series of about 12 detailing the plight of Syracuse Football 2005. The structure of the essays is derived from the looking glass erected by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. For more information about Gladwell's book and the data used for the following examination, check out this previous essay.

Final Score: 7-15
Box Score

Tipping Points: West Virginia
CategorySyracuseWest Virginia

Following Syracuse’s tilt with West Virginia, a lot was made of the number of turnovers the Syracuse defense forced the Mountaineers to commit. While the disparity was fairly substantial on a per drive basis (0.118 to 0.294), the simple fact that the Orange won the turnover battle yet lost the game is not the most important storyline emerging from the contest.

One of the key statistical categories that demands recognition is yards per pass attempt (differential). When a team has a yards per pass attempt (differential) in its favor by at least 2.0 to 2.5, a team is all but assured victory. Unfortunately for the Orange, Syracuse was out muscled by the Mountaineers in this statistical category by a 3.443 clip. The inability of Syracuse to stretch the field via the pass ultimately rendered all the turnovers the defense caused useless.

While West Virginia was careless with the football, it was not suicidal since the Mountaineers was able to eat up larger chunks of the field through the air, thus making Syracuse drive the ball further when the Orange actually possessed the football. Concededly, West Virginia’s advantage in yards per pass attempt (differential) did not totally neutralize the turnovers they were committing, but it did create a situation where Syracuse was always running uphill, even when it was in a position to even the playing field.

To further elaborate on the “running uphill” comment, the inability to pass the football affected all aspects of the Syracuse offense and, residually, the Orange defense. When a team cannot rush the football (which Syracuse couldn’t, evidenced by a 0.69 yards per rushing attempt average), it is often put in a position where it needs to throw the ball to extend drives and convert long third downs. When a team can’t throw the ball effectively, these aspects of efficiency can’t be accomplished.

Additionally, when a team can’t throw the ball, a defense is put in the precarious position of defending short fields and having to score on its own. Consequently, the defense becomes more fatigued having to stay on the field longer because the offense cannot stay on the field lengthening drives. This all, unfortunately, will lead to a sorry result.

Another statistic that sticks out like a sore thumb from this game was the difference in total offensive benefit. Syracuse’s offense only generated a hair above a half a point through 60 minutes of football; West Virginia, on the other hand, managed to generate 8.25 points on offense. If Syracuse’s offense had been, at the very minimum, average, it is very likely that the Orange could have overcome the West Virginia attack. By only allowing the opponent to create fewer than ten points on offense, the defense did all that it could to keep Syracuse in the game. Perry Patterson and his cronies did everything in their power to neutralize that effort.

Finally, the great indicator of Syracuse’s sorry offensive performance was the combination of yards per drive and third down efficiency. In the former category, Syracuse was out gained per drive by almost 14 yards (6.059 to 19.941). In the latter, 0.00% to 7.14%. While the performance of neither squad was earth-shaking, to have Syracuse at such a disadvantage is fairly shocking. Brendan Carney can only eat up the disparity so much, after that the offense must move the football in order to give the defense some green behind them.

The formula here was simple:
• Syracuse couldn’t extend drives;
• Neither could West Virginia, but the Mountaineers were significantly better than Syracuse at doing it;
• With more opportunities to extend drives and score inuring to the Mountaineers, Syracuse’s defense would have less room for error while the Orange offense would have more ground to cover to score; thus
• Syracuse was in a position where they need the miraculous to happen (“pick six,” “Hail Mary,” etc.) in order to level the playing field.

And, of course, none of this came to be.

Odds n' Ends

If you're like me (6' and named Matt), you're probably thinking something along these lines:

"Holy crap! This blog looks marginally different."

Well, you're right. The blog is receiving an aesthetic overhaul. I'm not sure what this virtual notebook will look like when I'm finished with it, but for now, this appears to be the basic structure.

The only thing that has substantially changed from the prior format is the structure of comments. To leave a comment, you must now click on the essay title and, at the bottom of the entry, input your comment along with your name. Your comment will be registered accordingly and the number of comments made will appear alongside the entry's title.

With that stuff out of the way, onto some news.

SU Football Is Still Terrible
Critical Condition? That may be an understatement.

This team is about two pallbearers away from dead.

BasketBlog Poll Releases Preseason Poll
Alex over at CrossCyed is running the show and did a nice job assembling an initial Top 25 from Blog Nation.

What is interesting is that bloggers had a difficult time slotting Syracuse into their ballots. Generating the highest standard deviation amongst those voters that submitted a ballot, Syracuse is clearly one of the question marks teams of 2005/6.

My ballot can be found here.

Oh, Canada!
Apparently, Andy Rautins needed some Canadian companionship on the Orange bench for next season. As such, Coach Boeheim pulled up his britches and went north to nab Maple Leafer Devin Brennan-McBride. (No relation to Julie McBride, the gnome that used to run the point for former ladies coach and Harriet Tubman lookalike Marianna Freeman)

The Ontario native is listed as 6'9", 245 pounds and chose Syracuse over offers from Michigan, Xavier and Tulsa. McBride will join superstud Paul Harris and rising hoopster Mike Jones in Syracuse's Class of 2006.

Mike Waters asks some important questions and provides some marginal answers on his Post-Standard blog about the Brennan-McBride commitment.

Joe Fields to Start Saturday; World Doesn't Give a Shit
Does it really matter?

Joe Fields has all of one completion on the season. A switch isn't going to make things marginally better or worse. It's all just bad.

Gerry McNamara Over-Hyped?
Hawkeye Hoops thinks so.

And if you have no idea what HH is talking about, it may be helpful to get through Ken Pomeroy's stat primer beforehand.

Other Stuff
I heard on the news the other night that Syracuse, according to a poll of players at Wednesday Big East hoops Media Day, had the best fans in the conference.

How can one quantify "best fans"? Are there enough objective criteria?

So I started working on it. The results will be debuted Monday.

Also, Yale is really pissing me off.

Big East Football: Week Nine

Fisher DeBerry had some interesting things to say earlier this week about Air Force's recent woes and the impact the black athlete may have on his fledgling program. If you're interested in seeing DeBerry shove a shoe square into his mouth, click this blue text, dummy.

Unfortunately, DeBerry isn't the only dope saying stupid things about Afro-Americans. Right on the heels of Fisher's Flop comes Dr. Terry Bennett, a doctor practicing in Concord, N.H. Not only does Dr. Bennett stereotype black men, he also manages to rag on the pudgy population.

CONCORD, N.H. --Supporters of a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men picketed Wednesday outside a medical board meeting on his case.

Dr. Terry Bennett didn't attend the procedural meeting to schedule hearing dates. But about a dozen supporters -- loyal patients who credit Bennett's unorthodox talk with saving their lives -- turned out to protest the New Hampshire Board of Medicine proceedings.

"He's told me things that I didn't want to hear sometimes, but it was my own fault, you know," said Karen McMullen while the group took a doughnut break on Wednesday morning. She carried a sign, "Bad Health, No Wealth, Thank God for Dr. Bennett."

Congratulations, Dr. Bennett. You've officially won a place at the Ron Artest School for the Functionally Insane. Pull up a chair next to Ozzie Guillen.

(Special thanks to Brian Girasoli for the heads-up on this glorious story.)

Big East Football: Week Nine
10.29.05Cincinnati v. SyracuseSyracuse, NYERT12:00 PM
Navy v. RutgersPiscataway, NJ3:30 PM

Reasonable Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 9): 1-0
Optimistic Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 9): 1-0
Pessimistic Out of Conference BE Record (Week 9): 0-1

[Game of the Week]
What a dumpy, dumpy slate of games this week. Seeing that lineup of Big East tilts actually makes me happy I will be spending seven hours locked in a room taking a practice bar examination.

By default, Navy and Rutgers takes the honor of best game in Week Nine. I wish I could say more about this game, but to tell you the truth, I really don't give a damn.

BlogPoll Roundtable: Week X+1

Vijay from IBFC is hosting this edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable.

Staying away from the boring re-hash that has been the last few editions of the discussion session, Vijay has pieced together an interesting survey of questions for review.

Additionally, if you're not reading Vijay's blog on a somewhat regular basis, you're missing out on some good stuff. Like myself, Vijay tends to walk the stat line, finding commentary in the numbers hidden behind superficial style of play.

1. The Envy Poll
Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most. Use whatever criteria you feel is appropriate (wins, titles, consistency, academic integrity, competitive integrity, NCAA violations, general thuggery, mascot intimidation factor ...).

I don’t think there is any one aspect of accomplishment that is necessary to accumulate a listing of the programs I most respect. If there were, college football would put forward a bland product reminiscent of the National Football League. As such, my “ranking” of teams I most respect will kind of meander through various criteria.

1. Stanford
A respectable program with tremendous academic integrity makes the Cardinal the shining image of what a small, private school can do even when the odds are stacked against them.

2. Notre Dame
Very similar to the Stanford model, except with a snobbery that keeps the Fighting Irish from the top spot. While I am not totally sold on the academic and competitive integrity of Notre Dame, until suspicions come to light, the Irish are still a terrific program to emulate.

And you can’t discount 11 titles. That’s just hard to overlook.

3. Army/Navy/Air Force
This should be pretty self explanatory.

These guys play football in order to buoy the spirits of their compatriots currently in combat. Football, for these guys, is just a game, and they treat it with great respect and honor. There’s nothing better.

4. Texas
Sitting on a recruiting goldmine every season, Texas has at its fingertips all the resources necessary to piece together a roster capable of winning a national championship every single year. Throw in an awesome fanbase and tradition, Texas makes me green with envy.

5. Alabama
Other than winning football games, nothing else matters.

Cheatin’? Ok!
Schoolin’? For suckers!
Violations? You got it, dude!
Winnin’? More often than not!

2. Admissions
With regard to Question #1, what is the most damaging criticism of your program that you will admit is a legitimate criticism? That is, what negative trait does the most damage to the overall respect level of your program (in your eyes, or to others, interpret as you will).

The most damaging criticism levied toward the Syracuse football program has to be the total titles won. Syracuse has only secured one national championship – 1959 – and it doesn’t appear that in the near future the program will be turning the ship back in that direction.

Over the years, the Orange has brought under the bubble an incredible number of great athletes, and yet, has only managed to really be in the title hunt once since ’59 (1987). That is totally unacceptable.

3. Unrelated Discussion Question
Who do you think is the best player in the history of your program? Tell us a little about him (especially if he's not a household name). Feel free to pick someone from 50 years ago that none of us has seen play.

This question is probably more difficult than it should be.

Clearly, Syracuse’s finest football players have worn #44. The question is, therefore, which of those 44’s deserves the honor of “Greatest Player in the History of Syracuse Football.”

I actually treaded on these waters in an earlier essay comparing Walter Reyes’ 2003 season to the best seasons turned in by the Great 44 Triumvirate (Floyd Little, Jim Brown, and Ernie Davis). While this essay did not touch directly on the issue at hand, it does give some nice context.

Given the numbers put up by Little, Brown and Davis, it all comes down to intangibles. And given that the biggest intangible that can be brought to the table is a national championship, Ernie Davis gets the nod as the greatest player ever to don a Syracuse uniform.

Here's some additional information on Ernie Davis and the legend of 44.

BasketBlogPoll: Preseason

Roll out the orange leather, baby. It's time for some college hoops!

Alex, the local proprietor of CrossCyed, has decided that college hoops needs its own version of a BlogPoll. So he put out the word, and the masses came calling.

While this experiment has yet to generate the kind of buzz and participation that Brian's football BlogPoll has, it is, at least at the moment, infested with a solid grouping of basketball freak shows making the potential for worthwhile hoops discourse a strong possibility. A sampling of the voters includes:

Hawkeye Hoops
A stat head who does a terrific job of charting the Big Ten.

Patriot League Hoops
The universities may be mid-major, but the analysis is first-rate.

YOCO :: College Basketball
News, and an assload of it at that.

With that said, onto my initial ballot. Like my football ballot, this submission is open to comments and criticism.

BasketBlogPoll: Preseason
4.Michigan State0-0-
11.Boston College0-0-
16.West Virginia0-0-
17.George Washington0-0-
20.Wake Forest0-0-

BlogPoll: Week Nine

To drop USC or not drop USC, that is the question.

Things haven't been easy for Pete Carroll the last few weeks, and that's probably a good thing for college football. Nobody likes to watch a blowout every week, and dynasties tend to lead to those unwanted results.

However, with greater competion comes the residual effect of questioning a team's strength as compared to other units. Southern California is certainly an awesome team, but it's getting harder and harder to say that they are heads and shoulders above either Texas or Virginia Tech at this point.

[Games I Took In This Week]
Syracuse v. Pittsburgh
Michigan v. Iowa
Tennessee v. Alabama
Texas Tech v. Texas
Auburn v. Louisiana State

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight

BlogPoll Central

[Notes About This Week's Ballot]
If I could, I would have only ranked 23 teams this week.

I feel really confident with the top 11 teams I have slotted. Then things get fuzzy down to 20. Then it's just grasping at straws.

Texas Tech failed me. I know.

I didn't punish Auburn for losing to LSU this past weekend. In fact, they actually rose a position. I significantly underestimated how far they have progressed since game one this season.

BlogPoll: Week Nine
1.Southern California7-01
3.Virginia Tech7-03
5.Louisiana State5-15
6.Notre Dame5-27
7.Miami (FL)5-16
10.Ohio State5-211
11.Penn State7-112
13.Florida State6-115
14.Boston College6-117
17.Fresno State5-118
18.Texas Tech6-18
19.West Virginia6-121

Report Card: v. Pittsburgh

We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As general manager, I just can't figure out where else to play.
1992 - Pat Williams

Even though Williams was talking about his 7-27 Orlando Magic, his quote adequately sums up the 2005 Syracuse football season.

Well, that quote and weeping, innocent children. They adequately sum up the 2005 Syracuse football season.

The script, once again, was one wrought with frustration. Despite Pittsburgh’s best efforts at giving Syracuse a victory it did not deserve, the Orange made a conscious decision to ruin a football Saturday and send its supporters into unstructured fits of rage.

The question now isn’t whether Syracuse can lose its final four games. They will, and it’s going to be hilariously disappointing. Rather, the most pressing issue facing Orange football right now is whether I can find enough pictures of sobbing children on the internet to supplement all the football writing I have left to do.

(As I write this, Amani Toomer may now be a candidate to raise my first-born child. (Magic) Eli Manning just connected with the Michigan product on a 2-yard strike with 0:05 remaining in the game to give Big Blue a 24-23 lead.)

Quarterbacks: F
There isn’t enough room on the internet to write about how bad Stupor Joe and Pudgy Perry have been this season. Each week, these two dolts manage to turn drive efficiency into something along the lines of kryptonite.

I have never in my life seen two quarterbacks who appear to have no idea of what is going on around them. It’s simply amazing how indecisive and terrible they are with the football in their hands. Things have gotten to the point where if Coach Robinson put the rotting corpse of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist behind center, the impact on the offense would be negligible.

Running backs: D+
The Tim Washington Project is officially in full swing. Early returns on the initiative do not look good. A recent poll of interested Orange fans generated the following:

46%: Who’s Tim Washington?
23%: Execution
11%: I Make Turds Taller than his 5’9” Frame
20%: Another Connecticut Kid That Won’t Pan Out

What intangibles does Washington bring to the table that Kareem Jones doesn’t? Washington is, quite simply, a poor man’s Damien Rhodes, and that is the last thing that Syracuse needs right now. Jones, on the other hand, is a power runner that can move a loaded tackle box forward.

When the passing game is totally in the pooper, a team needs to have the ability to run the ball between the tackles effectively to loosen up the defensive front. Washington does not contribute to this necessity. When Rhodes comes out of the game and is spelled by Washington, the defense is not forced to change its pace of play and the smallish Washington is unable to overcome the adverse variables standing before him.

Receivers/Tight Ends: D
Rice Moss was pretty not terrible on Saturday. He may almost not underwhelm on a weekly basis if he keeps up this slightly above marginal play.

To steal a cheap trick from Pat Forde, I’m putting out an APB for Bruce Williams. If anyone has seen the former CBA star and projected Syracuse savior, please contact Offensive Coordinator Brian Pariani. Thank you.

Williams is having a very Year 2000 Johnnie Morant season this year. With his redshirt officially burned, Williams has managed to disappear. He may as well not even bring his helmet on Saturdays, because he gets no looks from Patterson or Fields. The numbers make the comparison all the more salient:

Williams '05 and Morant '00
PlayerReceptionsYardsY/RecTDP/RecPRRt%Total Offense

And one more thing: Alex Shor, you suck. Someone needs to check him into a hospital for a case of the dropsies. What a chump.

Offensive Line: F
My observations of the offensive line may be best understood through a haiku:

Kurt Falke is back.
The line still eats hairy nuts.
Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!

Not only has the line become as porous as… as… well, as a very porous thing, it has also decided that taking a ridiculous number of penalties at optimally inopportune times is sound policy.

I am usually not in favor of viciously executing an entire offensive line midseason, but I’m willing to make an exception this year. Get the torches and pitchforks ready, it’s time to organize an old fashioned lynch mob.

Defensive Line: B-
Generally, a nice little performance put in by the front four. Despite some recurrent overpursuit issues, the line did a nice job putting pressure on the passer.

What was a little disappointing was how the front four handled Pittsburgh’s run blocking. Pitt is not blessed with a particularly splendid offensive line, yet the Panthers managed to run the ball pretty effectively on Syracuse’s athletic front. A lot of that is due to Drame and Santiago/Jenkins/Thorner failing to chew up space in the middle. When these guys learn how to eat up space to allow the linebackers to make plays, the defense will become stouter.

Linebackers: B
Not much to say. An average performance from a pretty average unit.

What is interesting is that Kelvin Smith and Kellen Pruitt have yet to play themselves into first day draft choices. They had the opportunity to do so this preseason, but seem to have maxed out their play.

Secondary: B-
Even though Derek Kinder continued to torch the Syracuse secondary for reception after reception, Steve Gregory continued to give the receiver a 10-yard cushion on every play. That is totally unacceptable. Gregory needs to use his technique to force his opponent to make a great play, rather than putting the receiver in a position where the only way he can fail is by losing his focus.

Tanard Jackson still remains a wild card in the defensive backfield.

Anthony Smith is an absolute stud. He just may be the best safety in the country.

Special Teams
Carney: B+
Par for the course.

By my score sheet, Carney outplayed Graessle by a score of Awesome to Not Awesome.

Punt Return: F
At this point, it’s not even worth sending a guy back to field the ball because nothing good ever results.

It’s a goddamn comedy of errors with this unit.

Other Special Teams Play: A-
Holy blocked punt, Batman. Holy blocked field goal, Batman.

Holy the offense still didn’t capitalize on these opportunities, Batman.

Offensive: F
Ugh. Outgained. Again.

Defensive: B
Par for the course.

Although, I was very disappointed to see the defense back away from attack the quarterback as the game progressed. This was probably due to the fact that the defense was gassed and couldn’t blitz anymore

Big East Football: Week Eight

I thought I had you figured out, Big East football:

West Virginia was clearly the tops.

Then Louisville follows.

Then the big pack of Rutgers, Connecticut and Pittsburgh.

Then the Bulls of South Florida and the Bearcats of Cincinnati.

And, of course, sobbing in the rear, the Syracuse Orange.

Then Week Seven happens and everything gets blown to smithereens.

Cincinnati takes Connecticut behind the woodshed for a classic whooping complete with broken Huskies and shattered dreams. Louisville manages to piss away their best opportunity at getting back into the Big East Conference race, choosing instead to blow a comfortable lead and take its place somewhere in Syracuse's basement locale. Even Rutgers and Pittsburgh, two teams that needed to answer some question marks did so, but their place within the conference structure is even more muddled.

The teams may be pretty mediocre, but the games still have lots of juice.

Big East Football: Week Eight
10.22.05Rutgers v. ConnecticutEast Hartford, CTMSG/NESN12:00 PM
Louisville v. CincinnatiCincinnati, OHESPNU12:00 PM
Syracuse v. PittsburghPittsburgh, PAERT12:00 PM
West Virginia v. South FloridaTampa, FLESPNU/WFTS7:00 PM

Reasonable Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 8): 0-0
Optimistic Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 8): 0-0
Pessimistic Out of Conference BE Record (Week 8): 0-0

[Game of the Week]
I really want to tab Syracuse v. Pittsburgh as the game of the week. I really do. But I just can't do it. If I did, I'd probably have to pull up some sidewalk and do a number on a pack of tissues like my little friend above.

Instead, I'm going with Rutgers and Connecticut. The middle of the conference is in dire need of some definition. As it stands right now, slots two through six in the standings are up for grabs, and a game such as this provides great context as to who is in the driver's seat for a bowl invite.

Too bad only a small portion of those stations receiving the Big East football package will get to see this game.

Shootin' the Breeze

Chas from PittSportsBlather and I have been exchaning questions and comments about this Saturday's tilt between the Orange and the Panthers. They are of the style of running streams of consciousness, which makes the exchange fairly interesting.

As more questions are posed and answered, I'll dutifully post them here.

Part I

Early in the season, Pittsburgh seemed plagued with some issues on the offensive and defensive lines. Has Pitt turned the corner up front on both sides of the ball, or are they hoping that this game against Syracuse gives them the medicine they need to remedy their problems?

There is no doubt that the line play has improved in the last two games, but it is hard to say how much of it is improved play and how much is just playing Cinci and USF.

The offensive line has just not held up well against teams that blitz a lot. By the end of the Rutgers game, they were having trouble with 3-man fronts. After that game, though, was when the team started playing some of the freshmen more. Line play has since started to improve, but it is still a big question mark.

The problem on the defensive line is a lack of overall team speed and penetration. H.B. Blades is the best player on the line, is often double teamed, yet still leads the BE in tackles. That's why teams have had the most success running, when they go off-tackle, sweep or try to go outside. It's away from Blades and if the back has speed he can usually get at least 4-6 yards before the safeties and corners come in to help. Pitt's lack of speed, also showed in the lack of sacks and fumbles generated for the first 5 games. No pressure.

Against USF and Andre Hall, they stuffed the box and forced USF to the air more. I expect/assume/hope they are planning the same for Syracuse and Damien Rhodes.

Wannstedt, at least in the pros, was a guy that always seemed enamored with running the football. Do you think that he will/has transition/ed to this approach in the college game? How will this affect the tradition of receivers that Pittsburgh has been able to bring in the last few seasons? Has there been any residual effect from this possibility in regards to recent recruiting?

He is still enamored with the running game. That is why I don't think he realized how bad the pass protection was on the O-line early in the season. He wasn't thinking about needing to pass as much. He came in stressing that he wanted to be "balanced" on offense, but instead went too much to the run. It has gotten a little better, but he definitely prefers to run rather than pass. I have no problem with the run, but Coach Wannstedt and OC Cavanaugh are still brainlocking that with the O-line there and the backs Pitt have (and the freshmen backs have been a very pleasant surprise) that Pitt can't just run it straight up the middle. They have to do more off-tackle and get outside more.

I think, ultimately, if they are going to be successful at Pitt, Wannstedt and Cavanaugh will have to pass more. Even if they are short, quick passes and screens. Offense in the college game (and this is admittedly my opinion) has tended to favor aggressive approaches in the last 10 years. Talent levels are still much more varied from team to team in college than the pros, and mistakes are much more likely in college. Conservative offensive gameplans almost seem riskier because things stay too close and allow things to turn too quickly on one mistake or turnover.

As for receivers and recruiting, well that has been a pleasant surprise. Wannstedt has been an outstanding recruiter. He has a top receiver/athlete (Dickerson) and a top TE recruit (Byham) in the class, so the receivers are still coming.

How do you feel about Greg Lee's season so far and what the heck happened to Joe DelSardo?

Greg Lee has great talent, but is prone to inexplicable drops. At least once a game, a ball will just go through his hands or off his body. He has dropped several touchdown passes that were perfect. He is doing okay, but he could still be so much better if he could stay focused.

DelSardo is a victim of a couple things. He is slow, and Coach Wannstedt loves speed. Second, and more importantly, he was/is being misused. He is a possession receiver who will run a precise route. He is not going to get many yards after the catch and is best used in between the hashmarks. They were running plays where he was on the sidelines. The plays were too slow to develop which gave corners time to react and break-up or intercept.

There has been a lot of talk about Big10 expansion and the two primary targets being Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Has this conversation drifted into Panther Nation? How do you feel about it and is a reasonable possibility? Would Penn State stand in the way of Pittsburgh's admittance to the Big10 just as a the BigEast schools did to Penn State by admitting Pittsburgh?

This has been a regular conversation, since the ACC raid. The feeling is that it will happen at some point, and it will come down to Pitt or Syracuse.

As for the role PSU would play, I think that would have to do with whether Joe Paterno is still running the show. Paterno, somewhat insincerely in my opinion, has been quoted as liking the idea of Pitt in the Big 11 so the rivalry could resume. He said that, though, a few months before the ACC became public; and there was no reason to think Pitt would want out of the BE. As demonstrated by his decsion to end the annual Pitt-PSU game, Paterno is venal enough and holds a grudge forever that he would do his best to block Pitt behind the scenes. The only thing that would hinder that for him would be if there was sufficient political pressure like the Virginia politicians brought on UVA.

What were your expectations preseason? How have things changed? Is the focus on the future (like it is now in Syracuse), and if so, you must like what is in store for the Panthers considering their recruiting haul?

Preseason, I bought the hype. How could I not? The worst case scenario was 7-4. 10-1 was thought to be not unreasonable. 9-2 was expected. Like you, there was no way we saw the start we had coming. 1-4 was never a possibility. Losing to Ohio? Rutgers? Inconceivable.

I think the majority of fans (at least judging by attendance) are focused on the future. Pitt fans aren't to Syracuse's levels yet because of the last two wins, but we were very close before that.That has given a little hope to salvage the season. The Big East being a complete mess kind of provides a glimmer of incentive to keep believing. It's faint, but it is still there, despite the hideous start. Pitt, however, can't make any mistakes the rest of the way.

As for the future, everyone is really pumped by the recruiting class -- which had only added to the preseason hype. There are a few Wannstedt-haters who are in permanent Eeyore mode, and think the future will still crash and burn.

Most importantly (well, at least to me), how about Adam Graessle? Punting at almost a 44 yard clip, did you expect more or about the same?

Wow. A Graessle question, you'll have to explain that. I think he's punting about where expected. He's gotten a lot better about getting the ball off faster -- a bit of a problem last year -- and his hang time is improved. Pitt's punt coverage, though, has not been as good so the overall net is not great. He's doing about what was expected.

Part II

It seems like Pitt's biggest problem this season has been jumping out of the gate effectively. In the ND and RU games, Pitt couldn't recover after getting down early. What are you looking for early in the game for Wannstedt to establish?

I expect Pitt to go 3 and out.They want to get off to a good start, and they know they haven't in any game this season. I think it starts to weigh heavily on the coaches and the entire offense. The closest thing they had to a good start was actually in the ND game -- yes, Pitt actually had a lead in that game. Twice. They even took it into the 2nd quarter for 2 minutes or so. (Technically, the Ohio game started well when Stephens-Howling took the opening kick-off for a touchdown.)

Since then, the offense has completely struggled. The defense was usually good (excepting the ND game), but was often put in a hole with bad field position -- which is what happened early with Rutgers.

I said all that, because the expectation is that Wannstedt is going to run the ball early and often. What I think will happen is Pitt will run on its first play then try to pass on the second. PItt's offensive line is where the slow starts originate. They stiffen up in the pass protection as the game goes on, so I expect the first few series will be very frustrating for Pitt.

Syracuse has been beaten just about a million different ways this season. Between Virginia and Connecticut smacking around Syracuse with the QB scramble to Florida State and Rutgers passing downfield, each week poses a new way for the Orange to yield yards. How do you expect Pittsburgh will turn the screws on the Orange this week? Focus on the run? Downfield passing? Balance as opposed to exploiting a particular weakness?

Now that's faith.

In no way do I, nor should any Pitt fan, take this game for granted. This is Syracuse. This is a team to whom Pitt lost 11 straight (1991-2001), and the record for Pitt versus Syracuse from 1984 through last year is 3-17-1. Pitt has found some truly stunning ways to lose to the 'Cuse.

I have to admit that I haven't figured out the game plans going into the last two games. I'm going to have to assume it will be on the ground. The last 2 games Pitt has rushed 42 and 41 times, while Palko went from 59 attempts in the Rutgers debacle to 32 then down to 21 last week.

Personally I'd like to see some more underneath passing and involving the tight ends some more, but given your team's solid secondary, I'm not sure Pitt will do that.

From what I understand, Pittsburgh is honoring Mark May and the 1980 Pitt squad on Saturday. Will this have a residual affect on attendence? Full house?
It's also homecoming, for whatever that is worth, so hopefully the students will be in full force. On the downside it will also be wet and chilly.

Given the attendance the previous two home games, I'm not wildly optimistic. Actual (not paid or reported) attendance has been a real casualty of Pitt's bad start. As much as some punditry pointed to the beating taken from ND at the start of the season as a major deflator (and it was), the subsequent road losses at Ohio and Nebraska were absolutely demoralizing. By the time Pitt limped back to Heinz Field, most people were writing off the season. I can only imagine the bath taken by scalpers who were speculating on this season.

What do you specifically fear (if anything) from Syracuse's offense/defense? Are there weaknesses that you have seen from Pittsburgh that Syracuse may be able to exploit that a casual Big East fan may not have noticed?

After last season, I am still in fear of Damian Rhodes. Pitt's run defense has been so inconsistent. They did a good job against Andre Hall of USF, but that was aided by getting the lead and forcing USF to pass more. Against the backfield of Rutgers, Pitt did not look good.

I suspect Pitt's D will play conservatively, at least initially, by not stacking against the run. Pitt's DC, Paul Rhoads, hates to risk giving up the big play. So despite all information suggesting that Syracuse's passing game is, uh, limited he will have the safeties playing off and I expect the run to be there early for Syracuse.

To steal a question from you, what three players don't Syracuse fans know on the Pittsburgh roster who may be key difference makers?

DE Vernon Botts. He has been backing up Sallet, but Sallet was injured last week and is questionable for this game. Botts showed some great instincts in stopping some running plays in the backfield and having better speed than expected. Even if Sallet plays, expect Botts to be in there more.

TE Darrell Strong. He is big, strong, good hands and fast.Has been seeing more and more action as he has been more willing to block. He is a load to bring down, if he even gets a step after the catch.

FB Conredge Collins. This is a reach, but I think this is the kind of game where the freshman gets a real chance to pound the ball.

Final Score/Prediction?

I think Syracuse keeps it tighter than expected (I would like). I also think Pitt won't score as much as expected.

27 - 16, Pitt wins.

If you believe that Pittsburgh wins on Saturday, how does that affect, in your opinion, Pittsburgh's post-season opportunities?

It's still up-hill. Pitt has 3 games left and needs 2 wins. A home game against UConn -- and who knows whether #1 or #2 QB will be back by then. Before that, though, is a trip to Louisville -- and Pitt hasn't won a game this season on the road. Then the regular season ends in Morgantown for the Backyard Brawl. I'll be generous and say Pitt has a 1-in-3 chance of getting to 6 wins assuming a win this Saturday.

Thanks to Chas for all the great comments!

That's Unpossible!

Prior to Syracuse’s frustrating defeat at the hands of the Scarlet Blight, Syracuse was sitting at a 1-4 record with six games remaining on its schedule. While it was highly unlikely that Syracuse would finish the season with a record above the .500 mark given its historically pitiful start, the opportunity to right the ship was still a possibility.

In order to get above the “Pasqualoni Line,” Syracuse would have had to go 5-1 down the stretch with an upset win over either Louisville or Notre Dame and victories against Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and South Florida. With Rutgers knocking off the Orange in the Dome for the first time since 1986, Syracuse needs to run the table in order to finish with an underwhelming 6-5 mark.

The operative question, then, is whether Syracuse can turn the trick and win five of its last six (or, more importantly, win all five of its final games). If history is any indication, the answer is a pretty solid “no.”

In the Dome era, Syracuse has won five of its final six games only 10 times. Over that period, the Orange has closed the season with five straight wins only twice (1987 and 1997) and one of those season saw Syracuse accumulate a perfect record.

Here’s the data:

Just Watch the Trainwreck
YearRecord Over Final Six GamesPoints Scored/Yielded Disparity

While it is uplifting that Syracuse has managed to turn the trick in the past, the underlying aspects of those seasons show that Syracuse has very little chance at managing the same feat this season.

Of the ten seasons where Syracuse was able to rip off wins in five of its final six contests, seven of those seasons saw the Orange enter its final six games with a winning percentage at or above the .600 mark. In the 1997 season, Syracuse entered the final stanza of its regular season at the .500 mark.

In only two seasons, 1985 and 1989, Syracuse was able to overcome a sub-.500 record and win five of its last six. Unlike the 2005 season, however, the 1985 and 1989 edition of the Orange managed to win more than one game achieving an awesome 2-3 record entering the home stretch.

Historical records not enough to convince you that Syracuse won’t rebound from its abysmal start? Well the following statement should put the nail in the coffin:

Only once in 25 years has Syracuse finished the season with at least a 5-1 mark after being outscored by its opponents over its first five games (1989).

It’s just not going to happen this year. It’s time to accept this reality, wallow with crying children, and move on.

Report Card: v. Rutgers

It’s official: Watching Syracuse play football is better than a car wreck involving a semi plowing into a hybrid causing both drivers to be thrown clear and raging fires to ensue.

Basically, it’s the stuff that RealTV would cover. It’s almost schadenfreude, but unfortunately, the joke is on the Orange masses.

With the loss to the Scarlet Blight Saturday afternoon, Syracuse has put itself into the awesome position of retooling for next season. Coach Greg Robinson alluded to this fact during comments made after Saturday's embarassment when responding to a question posed about the team moving backwards:

“I don’t know that. It looks like it, but I don’t know if that’s part of the deal. I don’t know that. It’s not looking good right now. I can tell you that. We have to get the offense rolling. We have to. Defense is fighting to hold their own. And to keep pulling like that, the other side has to turn the corner. That’s the bottom line.”


If I were in the Salt City, I’d be organizing a lynch mob at this point. Anyways, this weeks edition of the report card is an homage to the thesuarus and, consequently, is pretty truncated. While I wish I could've written more, when you hand out this many "F's", there isn't much that needs to be said.

Quaterbacks: F

Runningbacks: F(umble)

Receivers/Tight Ends: F

Offensive Line: F

Defensive Line: D

Linebackers: D+

Secondary: C+
Save Anthony Smith’s performance, this probably would be a big, fat F.

Special Teams
Carney: B
You broke my heart.

Punt Return Team: F

Offense: F

Defense: C

BlogPoll: Week Eight

Besides Syracuse being taken out behind the woodshed against Rutgers on Saturday, this weekend provided one hell of a smorgasbord of college pigskin.

As always, commentary on my ballot is welcome. There's no guarantee that a change may be made because of your comments, but I have it on good authority that telling me why I'm stupid is good for the heart and adds years to your life.

Also, it looks as if PittsSportsBlather and I will be exchanging some comments about Saturday's tilt between the Orange and the Panthers. Should be fun.

[Games I Took In This Week]
Rutgers v. Syracuse
Michigan State v. Ohio State
Penn State v. Michigan
Southern California v. Notre Dame
Florida v. Louisiana State

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven

BlogPoll Central

[Notes About This Week's Ballot]
I feel really good about the first nine teams I have slotted. After that, it's a crapshoot.

Notre Dame takes only a negligible hit. Even though they lost "because Southern California cheated," they still lost. ND should not have put themselves in a situation where SC could have the opportunity to cheat and win.

Texas Tech is on the verge of proving me right.

I have a feeling that Wisconsin and Minnesota may be sliding in and out of the poll for the rest of the season. Neither team plays consistently on both sides of the football week in and week out.

Should Northwestern be in Nebraska's slot? I'm not exactly sure.

California probably shouldn't be ranked, but until they really tank it, I feel compelled to keep them among the ranked 25.

BlogPoll: Week Eight
1.Southern California6-01
3.Virginia Tech6-03
5.Louisiana State4-15
6.Miami (FL)5-17
7.Notre Dame4-26
8.Texas Tech6-010
11.Ohio State4-216
12.Penn State6-19
15.Florida State5-112
17.Boston College 6-118
18.Fresno State4-120
20.Michigan State4-215
21.West Virginia6-1NR


Big East Football: Week Seven

This virtual notebook has always been dedicated to chronicling the daily disaster that is Syracuse University athletics and providing Bunsen and Beaker-esque statistical analysis. While a noble cause that has been fervently pursued, this dedication has forced me to write in an angry and forlorn tone.

So I've come to a very important decision.

Until a Syracuse quarterback throws for three touchdowns in one game or a Syracuse runningback turns in an "Al Bundy" (four touchdowns in one game), I will supplement every essay that makes mention of the Orange football team with a picture of a crying child or a woman receiving the spoils of domestic abuse.

Brian has his OMG!!!1!! kittens.

Stranko and Orson have their mustachioed mavens.

I have malnourished children that have been beaten and robbed of their innocence. I hope you're happy, Coach Robinson.

With that business out of the way, onto the slate of deliciousness that is Week Seven in the Big East.

Big East Football: Week Seven
10.15.05Rutgers v. SyracuseSyracuse, NYERT12:00 PM
South Florida v. PittsburghPittsburgh, PAESPN3602:00 PM
Louisville v. West VirginiaMorgantown, WVABC3:30 PM
Connecticut v. CincinnatiCincinnati, OH4:00 PM

Reasonable Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 7): 0-0
Optimistic Out Of Conference BE Record (Week 7): 0-0
Pessimistic Out of Conference BE Record (Week 7): 0-0

[Game of the Week]
Not a bad slate of games to choose from this week. South Florida and Pittsburgh is an interesting tilt, considering that game just may determine who will take the Big East's final bowl spot. Rutgers and Syracuse has some juice, if only for the fact that Trans Am aficionado Greg Schiano will find a way to make the Scarlet Blight fall square on their nose at the close of the final gun.

But the best game of the week is Louisville trekking up to the Lighter Fluid & Sofa Capital of the World. Two pretty good defenses will tangle Saturday afternoon, it's just a matter of whether the Mountaineers have enough firepower to diffuse Brian Brohm and company.

If they do, get the West Virginia cologne ready (read: pepper spray).

Matt Glaude = Edward R. Murrow

Things happen at Syracuse.

People other than me write about those things.

I, consequently, feel compelled to share these things with other people who may or may not have a vested interest in their impact on the university.

Therefore, I submit the following with supplemental critical commentary.

Here now, the news.

[Attracting Flies With Honey]
Jim Boeheim is the man.

Having already assembled a pretty remarkable Class of 2007, Coach Boeheim has all but put the finishing touches on what will be number one recruting class for that year with the recent commitment of superstud combo-forward Donte Greene. Amongst the schools Syracuse crushed on their way to securing Greene's commitment were high-powered programs Maryland, Georgetown, Connecticut, North Carolina and Texas.'s dossier on Greene appears to depict the skyrocketing forward as a perfect Boeheim frontcourt presence - long and athletic, lots of upside, a shot blocker who can run the floor, and a face up game that can be developed.

What may be of concern is Greene's characterization as a guy that needs to learn to finish. Even though Carmelo Anthony was a great face-up, mid-range type player, Anthony had a great knack for getting to the rim and finishing. Having a similar build as Anthony, Greene will need to develop this side of his game if he expects to have any kind of success in the brutal Big East Conference.

In other related recruiting news, it appears as if the basketball staff is determined to land a center in the Class of 2007 and will probably roll over the extra Class of 2006 scholarship to meet this desire. Mike Waters talks about this possibility and more in a recent blog entry. As he notes, Coach Boeheim is focusing on Taylor King (even though King is a small forward), Dallas Lauderdale, and Sean Williams.

Personally, I think Taylor King has a lot of Larry Bird in him and would look great in Orange. Unfortunately, there might not be enough room for him on the floor, assuming Paul Harris sticks around for more than one season.

[Andy Katz]
Katz has an interesting story about the Big East Conference that's worth a quick read.

Katz seems to have it in his head that the Big East is poised for some sort of resurgence. Maybe it's just me, but I never thought the Big East went anywhere. Since its inception in 1979, the Big East has been, and probably always will be, one of the two best conferences year in and year out.

What more could you ask for? It's not a resurgence if you've always been at the top.

[Under Pressure]
Ken Pomeroy continues to be the greatest thing to happen to the internet since... since... well, ever.

His most recent essay outlines how the last few moments in a game effect a player's ability to knock down free throws. He walks through the analysis flawlessly, providing data on how free-throw percentage reacts to the tightness of a game as the play clock approaches 0:00.

It'd be interesting to chart how Gerry McNamara fits into the fold, considering it seems that he can never hit a free throw when in matters.

[I Have No Idea What This Means]
Someone actually charts this crappy blog?

[Other Odds 'n Ends]
Single-game basketball tickets "officially" went on sale today.

Make sure you buy lots and lots of them so that you can watch in person as Syracuse walks through a sub-20 win season. As an added bonus, the more tickets you buy, the more times you can bitch and moan to your seatmates about why you were a moron and bought a bunch of tickets to watch a frustrating basketball team.

In other "basketball" news, the women's team is actually going to play some of their games in the Dome this year. Only three things need to be said:


I wish I could bring myself to write 500 words about why this might be the dumbest idea since those Orange Wave towels, but I neither have the time nor the patience.

In case you haven't pulled yourself out of that whiskey bottle you fell in following the loss to Connecticut on Friday night, Coach Robinson held a press conference to lay out what changes were going to go into effect beginning Saturday against Rutgers. You can read the transcript here. I'm no offensive genius, but when you replace one crappy player with another, things aren't likely to change.

That's what we in the business call 'zero-sum.'

The Road to Infamy Goes Through Rutgers

Syracuse probably isn’t going to beat Rutgers Saturday afternoon.

With that said, please excuse me while I wash the vomit out of my mouth.

Considering Syracuse’s recent history against the Scarlet Schianos, losing to Rutgers isn’t as disconcerting as it probably should be. However, a loss to Rutgers this year carries implications greater than what dumpy bowl Syracuse puts itself in the running for. If Syracuse cannot slip past the Scarlet Knights Saturday, the Orange will have put itself in a position the football team has not been in since the sunrise of the Carrier Dome.

Since 1980, Syracuse has fielded only five teams that have accumulated a losing record (1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, and 2002). In four of those seasons, Syracuse has failed to score less than 200 points (1980, 1981, 1982, and 1986). In only two of those losing seasons has Syracuse been outscored, in the aggregate, by its opponents by more than 50 points (1982 and 2002).

As things stand right now, Syracuse is on pace to recapture the vomit-inducing glory of the 1982 Orange squad. The parallels are eerily similar:

• Through five games, the 2005 Orange has scored only 83 points while yielding 106 to its opponents. Similarly, five games into the 1982 season, Syracuse was sitting with a 72/121 disparity.

• Both the 1982 and 2005 editions of the Orange Rush began the season with 1-4 records.

• In both seasons, the Orange lost their home opener to a winnable opponent. In 1982, Syracuse lost to a Temple team that went on to a 4-7 record. This season saw Syracuse grab defeat from the jaws of victory by losing to a West Virginia team that committed five turnovers.

• In both 1982 and 2005, the Orange had to replace great running backs (Joe Morris and Walter Reyes) with underwhelming rushers.

• In 1982, Syracuse fielded a starting quarterback (Todd Norley) who threw for more interceptions than touchdowns (12 to 1). At Perry Patterson’s pace, he too will finish the season on the wrong side of the ratio.

• The Orange Rush yielded 3,942 yards to its opponents in the 1982 season (358.36 per game). In 2005, Syracuse is projected to give up 3,810.4 yards to its opponents over the course of the season for a 346.4 yards per game average.

So can Syracuse channel the 1982 Orange and send its fan base into the bottom of a tequila bottle? The odds are better than even.

There are six games remaining on Syracuse’s schedule (Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Florida, Notre Dame, and Louisville). Louisville and Notre Dame are almost stone-cold locks for blowout losses on the road, thus generating a nice disparity between points scored and points yielded. Pittsburgh and South Florida are likely losses that could go either way in terms of blowout potential. Cincinnati is a likely win, but the jury is still out as to whether the victory will be enough to even out the points disparity created by losses to Pittsburgh and South Florida.

Thus, the infamous nature of the 2005 season turns on Syracuse’s performance against Rutgers this Saturday.

Should Syracuse lose to Rutgers, the Orange is in a position where they could match the team’s 1982 record of 2-9 with wins against only Buffalo and Cincinnati. Additionally, if Syracuse gets blown out (which is a very good possibility considering Rutgers’ ability to put points on the board and Syracuse’s inability to do so), the disparity between points scored and points yielded will widen. Finally, should Syracuse continue to treat the endzone as kryptonite, it will resume its slow, painful slide toward scoring fewer than 200 points on the season.

Darryl Gross wanted a retro feel for this season. He just may get more than he bargained for.

BlogPoll: Week Seven

Come and join the band!

Well, sort of.

Apparently this blog is carrying some modicum of a readership. Whether that is a good thing or not, I'm not exactly sure. Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyways, since people are reading this virtual rag, it may as well become interactive. As such, I've decided, on the sage advice of Glaude Disciple Collin Long, to open up my BlogPoll ballot to comments and revisions. On Monday afternoons, I'll post my ballot and comments may be made via the comment link below the essay. So, feel free to leave a note as to why I'm an idiot and I'll consider it before submitting my final ballot.

There is one concrete rule I have for comments and revisions to my ballot: Do not, under any circumstance, compare it to the AP or Harris Poll.

The purpose of the BlogPoll is to find out what the college football blog community thinks about college pigskin, not what college football blog writers think about what print and television journalists think about football.

[Games I Took In This Week]
Connecticut v. Syracuse
West Virginia v. Rutgers
Oklahoma v. Texas
Minnesota v. Michigan
Georgia v. Tennessee

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six

BlogPoll Central

[Notes About This Week's Ballot]
I know, the backend of this ballot is a piece of work.

Do I really think Connecticut is a Top 25 team? I'm not exactly sure.

Why haven't I moved up BC in what seems like forever? I'm not exactly sure.

I'm still not exactly sure where Penn State goes, but I know that they needed to rise from last week.

UCLA might not be #13, but who else goes in front of them?

I'm still clinging onto Fresno when I probably shouldn't. But until they prove otherwise, I'm locking them into the bottom 10 of the ballot.

BlogPoll: Week Five
1.Southern California5-01
3.Virginia Tech6-03
5.Louisiana State3-17
6.Notre Dame4-18
7.Miami (FL)4-19
9.Penn State6-022
10.Texas Tech5-010
12.Florida State5-013
15.Michigan State4-120
16.Ohio State3-24
17.Tennessee 3-25
18.Boston College5-121
20.Fresno State3-124



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