All College Football Today

Being here in the middle of Big Ten Country at the moment, I’ve been able to overhear several conversations at restaurants and in supermarkets about the unavailability of the Big Ten Network on the Comcast cable system here. The common thread in those conversations is that Comcast is the villain and they are preventing people from watching whatever Big Ten football game they happen to want to see on any given weekend. Naturally, I see this from a different perspective…

The Big Ten wants a huge rights fee from Comcast to show the Big Ten Network and Comcast wants to pay only a small one and put the Big Ten Network into one its packages where one can opt to have the network or not. That makes a lot of sense to me. Even if I lived here all the time and loved one or two specific Big Ten schools, all I really want to see are football and basketball games. I don’t want to see cross country meets or golf tournaments; there are only two “revenue sports” in college and I would not want my cable bill to be inflated by even a dime a month so that a handful of yahoos can watch some minor sport on basic cable TV at my expense.

And by the way, the Big Ten has already sold the rights to the games that are considered “prime meat”. Check out ESPN and the broadcast networks; they carry Big Ten games – the ones they want to carry. Why should Comcast have to pay the Big Ten top dollar for the leftover games?

Since I’m on the subject of college football – sort of – let me make this a college football day here in Curmudgeon Central. I see that there are lots of discussions about which teams belong in the Top Ten this week. It looks as if there is plenty of fodder for debate out there. Naturally, I’m more interested in who belongs in the Bottom Ten this week and so I’ll give you some nominees:

      Utah State, Florida International, North Texas, Marshall and Colorado State are all winless.

      NC State is 1-5 with that win coming over Wofford. The Wolfpack defense is 114th in the nation against the run; the offense is 102nd.

      Duke, Syracuse, Iowa State and Minnesota are all 1-5. Minnesota’s win was a triple OT event against Miami-Ohio. Would the Gophers have been this bad with the coach they fired last year in order to bring in this new guy?

      The perennial denizens of the Bottom Ten such as Temple (1-5), UAB (1-4), Middle Tennessee State (1-5), Rice (1-4) and SMU (1-4) all deserve mention here.

      While LSU is atop the polls as the best team in the land at the moment, La Lafayette is 1-5 (with its win coming over winless North Texas), La Tech is 1-4, La Monroe is 1-4 and Tulane is 1-4. It seems as if there is a pox on football programs in Louisiana this year but that they’ve found an antidote in Baton Rouge.

Oh, is Wisconsin the worst 5-1 team in the history of college football? Just asking…

Was the Stanford win over USC a bigger upset than the Appalachian State win over Michigan? Just asking…

Was the 5-0 start for Kentucky a mirage? They cracked the Top Ten; then they lost on the road to South Carolina last week and now face LSU and Florida in succession. We shall see …

I got a note from one of the folks that I will join in Las Vegas at the end of the month for our annual pilgrimage. He asked me to see if I could find any college football prognosticator who had LSU, Ohio State, South Florida, BC and Cal in the Top Five for the preseason rankings. His thinking is that if anyone did that, we ought to follow his advice on the games being played whilst we are in Las Vegas. Probably not a bad idea at all…

Remember a while back when the back-up punter at a school in Colorado stabbed the first string punter in the leg in order to win the punting job? That had to rank way up there on the outrageous behavior meter, but it is no longer alone in its outrageousness. Recently, in Jacksonville, one of the running backs on the team was feeling pressure from a new freshman running back. So, to relieve that pressure the incumbent back planted some marijuana in the freshman’s room and then dropped a dime on the freshman. Just for the record, this is not a good example of how open competition for jobs on a football team makes everyone better.

Florida safety, Tony Joiner was arrested in what turned out to be a misunderstanding regarding his attempt to get his girlfriend’s car out of an impound lot. The owner of the towing company in Gainesville who alerted the police about the incident received several hundred threatening phone calls about the incident and “more than a dozen” of them contained death threats. Folks, it is perfectly all right to have a fanatical interest in a football team, but threatening someone with bodily harm or death under these kinds of circumstances is so far over the top that it can’t be ignored. I hope the Gainesville police work to track down and charge those who threatened to kill or have this man killed.

Bowl season is not yet upon us but already is seems as if there are going to be some strange pairings this winter. The reason is that there are too many contractual tie-ins between bowl games and various conferences. For example, did you know that there are six spots reserved for Conference USA teams in bowl games? That’s half of the conference. I wonder just how many folks can rattle off all twelve conference members without peeking; I could only get to ten… Oh and four of those dozen C-USA teams got a mention above as possibly being in the Bottom Ten nationally. Why does this matter?

Well, the Big East only gets five slots for its bowl eligible teams and it sure looks as if six of those teams will be bowl eligible this year. Even though the Big 12 gets a whopping eight slots, it seems that there could be 10 bowl eligible teams from that conference this year. Two are probably going to be sitting home. Look, I’m not making the argument that a ninth Big 12 team versus a sixth Big East team would be scintillating and compelling college football viewing; but I refuse to believe that in every case the sixth best team in Conference USA – maybe Tulsa or Houston? – will provide me with a better viewing experience. Oh, and there aren’t slots for independents at all so what happens if Navy is bowl eligible…?

Lest anyone think I’m picking on Conference USA, the MAC has three guaranteed slots. At the moment the best record for any team in the MAC is 3-3; the combined conference record for the 13 teams – and I couldn’t name all of them either without peeking – is 30-47. Do I need to see the third best team in this league play in a bowl game? I don’t think so.

Finally, NASA sent a rocket probe to Titan – the largest of Saturn’s moons – and the instruments sent back data indicating that the surface of that moon is covered with a “flammable liquid gas”. I had no idea that Taco Bell had expanded into that region of the solar system…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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