At the end of the day, I just like watching them play football. That is going to have to be enough.
It needs to be, if I am going to continue to be a fan of the Boise State Broncos (and I am). Well, if I want to enjoy being a fan, anyways. It sucks, sure, that with two missed field goals, countless missed calls, and one missed opportunity, that everything changed for ‘Bronco Nation,’ but I’m afraid it did.
No superlative would be too superlativey in describing how hard Boise’s loss was to take on Friday night. The entire state (myself included) is in a state of catatonic shock. Stomach punch falls way short, in fact. The feeling was more reminiscent of a punch that landed a few inches south of there.
Just 8 hours earlier, the sky was the limit. Alabama was rolling on Auburn, and looked poised to take out the number two seed, the one that was presumably going to be the only thing that could stand between Big Blue and a spot in the national championship game by the time the polls came out on Sunday. Then the second half happened.
Auburn caught every break. Cam Newton somehow won everyone over to his Heisman campaign with 218 yards passing and 1.8 yards per carry (I’m still not sure how exactly such a performance did this, but the Auburn mess is a different column entirely). Somehow, they managed to sneak by the Tide. I was pissed, partly because I like to casually root for ‘Bama in the SEC, but mostly because of the implications that it could have had for Boise. Still, there was hope, since Oregon was sure to be challenged by Arizona.
They were. Sort of. The Wildcats carried a lead into half time and appeared to be handling the potent Oregon attack. Unfortunately, Mike Stoops made a decision that hasn’t received nearly as much scrutiny as you would expect, sending out his third string players for the second half (as far as I could tell. There was no way it was the same group). The move backfired, and the Ducks absolutely stomped the Wildcats in the second half.
The whole afternoon was agonizing. I made a point multiple times in the last couple of weeks, and it was grinding me as I watched on Friday. I absolutely HATE rooting for random teams based on potential BCS implications. I have to, though. There is simply no alternative. Sure, I would have been rooting for Alabama anyways, but it would have been a much more enjoyable experience if I had been on their side for the sake of being on their side, not for the sake of the computer polls. Arizona, on the other hand, should mean nothing to me. I don’t like Arizona. I don’t want to root for them.
Friday afternoon also demonstrated the other reason that I am, for want of a better term, sick of this crap. The other problem with constantly rooting for upsets is that most of the time they are potential upsets for a reason. That reason: usually they don’t happen. It leads to a whole lot of losing. Somehow, rooting for a 10-0 team had lead to a lot of demoralizing Saturdays this fall. On this particular day, it was two losses that could be described as devastating. A late lead blown and a second half shellacking are both hard ways to go down. By the 8:20 kickoff, I was already feeling 0-2 on the day.
Anyways, a jump to number two was out of the question by the time the Broncos kicked off, which was tough, but it would be forgotten once the game started and we got to watch them do their thing. That was my attitude when my buddy texted me saying that he was frustrated by the first two games, and nervous about even watching Boise. Forget that, I replied, watching that was agony. This is the one that we get to enjoy.
For the third time, the first half went great. 24-7. We were playing like…well, Boise State. Nevada looked like another WAC team that we were going to roll. The afternoon had been forgotten. The usual sorts of thoughts were cropping back up. 48-14 at this pace. That would be good. That’s a statement. Can we get 50? Oregon State is tough enough. The SEC Championship game is no joke. At the very least we were going to jump TCU. Everything seemed okay.
Then, everything blew up. It is painful to recap. Brutal officiating. Missed opportunities. An offense that stalled, seemingly for the first time all year. More brutal officiating. We had a football game. A defense that couldn’t get off the field. The ball is bouncing Nevada’s way. Nevada has the ball in our territory. Down 1 score. Toa and Kaepernick are having their way. Third down conversion. Third down conversion. Tie game. Wait? What the..? TIE GAME!?
It probably sounds hard to believe, given what would ensue, but this was the low point. I still thought that we would pull it out. I had faith that they couldn’t stop us, and in a way I was right. But this was the low point, because the realization was that in the bigger picture, it probably wasn’t enough. Even if we won, all of a sudden, it seemed unlikely that it would do anything other than keep us where we were. We could still win the game, but the opportunity was lost. If you have never rooted for a mid-major in this twisted system, I cannot possibly explain what this feels like. A combination of emptiness and frustration are as good as I can do. Like being cut from a team you know you deserved to make.
Having said that, the feeling was pushed aside when Titus Young did what Titus Young does, and outran defenders playing with a 25 yard head start, pulling in a Kellen Moore bomb, and setting up a field goal with two seconds left. If you care about sports enough to be reading this, though, you know what happened next. I could rant about how I want Kyle Brotzman’s blood (I don’t), or about how I have studied the ‘missed’ field goal and really believe that it was good (I do), but it would be a waste of time. You saw it. We lost.
It is still hard to put it all in perspective. The nation’s longest winning streak was done. Jumping TCU was done. A top 2 finish was done. For a year, Boise had been relevant. Not anymore. It all felt…wasted. The time breaking it down had been for nothing. For a scenario that would never come to life. The calories burned caring had been a lead up to a massive disappointment. Two questions stuck out:
Was this the peak of the Boise State Football program?
Could I even do this again next year?
It sounds kind of silly. College football is, almost without question, my second favorite sport to follow, just behind the NHL. On Friday, I thought I might be done with it. No joke. The emotional investment for something that disappeared so quickly was certainly a factor, but that wasn’t really it. It wasn’t the loss. It was the emotion right before the loss that threatened to drive me away. Was it worth following a sport where I had to go through a day (a season, really), of being disappointed when teams that I don’t care about get wiped out by superior squads, only to have it rendered meaningless because the biggest game of my team’s season was too close? The answer seemed to be no.
A post game walk around the neighborhood in single digit temperatures (ill advised given a head cold, but satisfying none the less) and a night to sleep on it made it clear to me that there is no way I’m not watching college football just as avidly next year (although admittedly I had none of my usual interest in Saturday’s games). I can’t give it up, not that I even want to. I need to change something, though. The obvious thing to let go of would be the intensity. That isn’t realistic, though, either. If I am going to watch, I am going to be a die hard for the only thing my home state produces of national relevance other than potatoes.
Still, I have to change something, which brings me back to the first question. I don’t know if Boise State peaked last week. It will be impossible to say, at least until next year when the Kellen Moore era reaches its end and we know what ends up being accomplished with 11 under center. Even if it wasn’t the peak, though, it was the end of an era. The first regular season loss in three years ended the aura of invincibility. It may well have taken the Broncos out of national relevance (for now), and out of the National Title discussion. It could actually help.
The thing about the Broncos over the last three years is that every game mattered so much that, in a weird way, none of them mattered. Paradoxical as that may sound, it was the case. No one win could have significance. Not even wins over Oregon or Virginia Tech were victories unto themselves. They were steps in an attempt to get to a perfect season. And to have chaos rein at the top of the polls. And to be the best non-AQ. And to be high enough in the computers. And to have the teams we beat win their other games so that our strength of schedule was high enough.
It is just the 500001st way of saying that the system sucks. The problem is, college football isn’t going to ditch it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t. That’s my goal for next year. I can’t institute a playoff, but I can get rid of the BCS.
It is game by game. I will watch other games and root for the team that I like more, or not at all. I’m done worrying if Oregon State was strong enough to make that a quality win, or if we were convincing enough to be the top ranked non-AQ. I am going to enjoy watching Moore make every throw. And watching Doug Martin run through tacklers. I want wins to be wins again. Not auditions for voters, or part of a run to some bowl. This has been a great college football season. I have enjoyed it. But it has been frustrating as hell. It shouldn’t be, and if I just enjoy games as games, nothing more, it won’t be.
So in the words of one of the greatest speakers of all time, Winston Churchill, ‘screw it’ (he had to have said it at some point). I’m fired up for Utah State.
1. BCS defenders need to shut up. The system is flat out fucked up. The most compelling reason that I have heard in its defense is that in college football, the regular season is relevant. This is a good thing. I want my team’s games to mean something, and in the BCS system they certainly do. There is a problem, though. The BCS makes the college football regular season too relevant.
|Like Bill Cowher, this weeks NitPicks
isn’t short on anger
Allow me to explain. I am a Boise State fan (although I have tried desperately to always be objective and never allow that to show here. Mission accomplished!). That means I want to root for Boise State. That means that I want to take an interest in Boise State’s games. Again, I do. This is good. This past weekend was a microism of why it is too relevant, though.
Boise played Idaho, but the Vandals were the least of my concerns. Instead, the teams that I was worried about were TCU, Auburn and Oregon. They were the enemies of the weekend (once again). Rather than spending the week looking at Boise’s matchups against Idaho, I was left breaking down San Diego State’s chances to move the ball against TCU, Cal’s chances of stopping the Ducks and Georgia’s upset bid against the Auburn Trojans-er…I mean Tigers.
Sounds great, right? Four games, not just one, to care about. It isn’t. I am completely over this. I am a Boise State fan. I want to root for Boise State. I don’t give a shit about San Diego State. I have no affiliation with Georgia. I actually dislike Cal. Yet every week, I am shoved into a position of becoming a fan for a week, just hoping for the necessary chaos at the top of the polls. Sure, this happens in all sports with division rivals, but in college football it is freaking constant. I want to root for my team. That should be enough. For a mid-major, though, it never will be, and that sucks.
2. Our. Long. National. Nightmare. Is. Over.
He is gone. It was about four weeks too late, but Wade Phillips was finally pushed out as the ‘coach’ (term used loosely) of the Dallas Cowboys. Thank you, Jerrah, for being the sleezy oilman that you are and going back on your word. I knew you had it in yah. Please continue to be a terrible human being as long as it helps the Dallas Cowboys.
Really, though, Jones just signed the papers. I mean, what choice did he have? Phillips was done. There is just no coming back from a 1-7 start, a lethargic looking team and a punctuating 35-7 stomping on Sunday night by Green Bay. Jones wouldn’t have been doing Phillips and favors by keeping him around (it was well past inevitable that he was gone at some point), and no one would have won by letting him twist in the wind as a lame duck.
Now, the team gets to move on, Phillips gets to move on, and we get to find out that Jason Garrett is actually not the coaching prodigy that he was made out to be (what’s that? We beat the Giants? GARRETT FOR PRESIDENT! SUPER BOWL STILL IN SITES!).
3. By the same token, the Vikings can’t possibly think that they are dong Brad Childress a favor by keeping him around, can they? I mean, everyone with internet access or anything beyond ntwork television and a passing interest in the NFL knows that he is a terrible coach. I mean they know it. For a fact. It is one thing to be in charge of a disappointing team, to the point that everyone kind of expects you to get axed, but that isn’t even the case. It seems to be a 99% consensus that Brad Childress is terrible at his job. One more time: Not that he is not getting results, but that he sucks. There is a different story every day damming this guy. So how is he still there?
The answer, to me, is apparent. Revenge. Sweet, brutal revenge. Sure, the Vikings could let Childress go, but the fact is, at this point, that Brett Favre is delightfully terrible, their receivers are hurt, and it is too late to put in an offense that actually utilizes the best running back in the league (besides, that just wouldn’t make sense!). So what happens if Childress is let go? He escapes, and the Vikings still are a mess. It is pretty clear that Chilly still has his job mostly out of spite. He is begging for the sweet release of the unemployment line. But the Vikings won’t give it to him. Instead, he gets to wake up every morning, read how bad he is at his job, go to work, see how bad he is at his job, get ignored by players who hate him, go home, watch TV and see people who were recently fired, or else couldn’t get jobs coaching, point out that he should be fired, go to bed for 4 hours, then wake up and do it again. Also he has to deal with the shitstorm surrounding the world’s greatest sexter. That is way worse than a cushy job on CBS or something. You are diabolical, Minnesota.
4. Rant that has nothing to do with anything of the week:
Facebook is inviting me to ‘see friendship.’ I’m pretty sure that this is just the replacement for ‘wall to wall,’ maybe with comments or something, but still. It just says ‘see friendship.’ I’m intrigued. I mean, you never know. Maybe it is actually going to give me the ability to see friendship. Like a virtual drug, which Facebook basically is anyway.
Really, this little link just begs questions. What does friendship look like (It is probably colorful. It has to be colorful, right?) Can Facebook help me see other abstract nouns? I want to see humor. And love. And anger. I bet anger would look badass. Do I just get to see it once, like a fleeting glimpse, or will Mark Zuckerberg come to my house and bestow me with a sixth sense? Probably not, that would be expensive. But maybe.
Yeah, it was just a page that they made with all the crap involving both people. Like a glorified wall-to-wall. This is guaranteed to make me feel creepy anytime I click on it, which will mostly be on accident, because this page is worthless, and does not bestow me with any extrasensory abilities. Thanks a lot facebook. You owe me a sixth sense.
5. THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR GIVING DONOVAN MCFUCKINGNAB 78 million dollars and a contract stretching to he is 39, which is like 48 in Donovan years. I mean he has broken his leg twice, but who is to say that he won’t play well past the age where most quarterbacks (especially ones who depend on athleticism in their prime) are moving towards television (just kidding, the ones who rely on athleticism don’t get jobs in TV). The karma gods don’t always show up in sports (read: Perry, Corey, Stanley Cup champion and gold medalist), but they did this time, punishing the beltwayers for the latest Dan Snyder special (a cousin of hockey’s Glen Sather special).
As for the Monday night game, which made Dick LeBeau cry, I’m sure, that was just plain fun to watch. There might be better quarterbacks in the NFL than Mike Vick, but there aren’t any that are more fun to watch. Who knew that Bad Newz Kennelz to MeSean would be the most electric hook up in the league, or that defenses would be drowned out by it (puns intended…I’m going to hell).
I hate TCU. I hate everything about you. I hate that your quarterback is a ginger who looks like a royal douchebag. I hate that you wear purple. I hate that you know purple is a weak color and you try to disguise it and make it look like blue but I AM NOT FOOLED. I know you are purple, and no amount of hue adjustment can hide it. At least man up and own your super feminine color scheme. You are so soft.
Really, though, I just hate that you are clearly not as good a football team as Boise. You are clearly inferior. It isn’t even close. Is there any way that Boise struggles with San Diego State like TCU did? Of course not. Boise won in a bowl game last year, and brought back freaking everyone. TCU lost that game, then graduated their two impact players and now…what exactly? They are better? Give me a break.
7. Music Rant of the week:
Ok, I don’t want to get to serious here (god forbid), but Tuesday was actually a fairly momentous day in the world of music. The most important band in the history of popular or rock and roll music, The Beatles (like them or not, their place as the most important is not debatable), finally joined the lexicon of what is now the most popular means of music acquisition and consumption. Forty years after the band broke up, they dominated the entire front page of the iTunes music store, but that alone, while a testament to the enduring relevance of the band, is hardly the crux of the significance. The significance is that the world has officially moved to legal, digital music.
This movement has obviously been in the works for years, ever since iTunes made itself the most effective way of listening to music, which was when it came out. In the past month or so, though, two things happened that cemented the pay for MP3 model’s legacy. The first was this, a court order that mandated Lime Wire, the most effective means of file sharing, to be no more. That won’t end the piracy era of music, but it will create precedent to shut down similar programs rather than just prosecuting the people sharing the music, which will be a major blow to free digital music.
The Beatles coming to iTunes actually represents the last step towards a process that would have logically played out before the piracy battle, that being the transition that has happened many times before, with vinyl, records, cassettes, and CDs. Music has, once more, finished changing formats. With the Beatles officially in digital (obviously, plenty of people had uploaded their CDs, but being on iTunes makes it…I don’t know…official.
The meaning is complex. The Beatles are one of the only bands that really ‘matters.’ I don’t know what that means exactly, but I know it when I see it. The Beatles matter. Nirvana, as it happens, matters. I think Eminem and Metallica might even matter. It isn’t necessarily about virtuosity, or even popularity. It comes down to the fact that you can’t tell the story of music without the Beatles. Even if we didn’t notice it (I only did from time to time, at best), iTunes, the most complete digital collection of music, was incomplete without them. It was a coming of age for the form of music that we have moved to as a society.
(Sorry, that wasn’t very ranty, and may have even bordered on coherent at times, but I really think that it is true, and worth pointing out.)
(One more, semi-related note: Building on the theory from last week, that phenomenon of songs that don’t live up to their intro isn’t limited to super-saturated modern bands. The intro on I Feel Fine, with the feedback into the opening riff, is awesome, but the rest of the song is run of the mill. In fact, the chorus is actually the lacking part.)
(Okay, and one more one more, a bonus music rant: I was listening to How to Save a Life by the Fray the other day, and checking Facebook while I should have been doing the homework that was due in a half hour. Right as it came to the chorus (‘where did I go wrong, I lost a friend’), I clicked on my own profile. Glancing at it, I looked at the number of friends that I had. It had been 598, but it was down to 597. I had lost a friend. I wasn’t even mad, that was hilarious. So, to whoever dropped me as a friend, or else deleted your account, thank you. Thank you for making life mirror art so perfectly.)
8. No one cares about your fantasy football team. You can add that to your golf game, poker beats, travel hassles and NCAA brackets on the list of stuff that people love to complain about, but absolutely no one finds interesting. You mean you had Jeremy Maclin on the bench, he had 3 points more than Owens and you lost by 2? How can I possibly live in a world where that could happen? A couple of years ago, I had DeSean Jackson when he dropped the ball crossing the goalline, and I was playing Brian Westbrook, so it was a 12 point swing. When this happened, I realized two things. One, was that it wasn’t that interesting. Two was that if this wasn’t interesting, nothing would be. Fantasy football (or hockey or baseball), is great. Stories of tough losses just aren’t interesting, though.
9. Actual Text Message I Sent of the Week:
“Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit about athletes getting paid, but Cam Newton should be suspended, because fuck Auburn, that’s why.”
Now, there are multiple levels to this text, which I sent to my brother, former roommate and buddy from high school on Saturday afternoon, as I was frustratingly watching Georgia implode against the Tigers (see rant 1).
The first thing is my actual opinion on the whole Cam Newton affair. As someone in college that doesn’t get a scholarship, I find it laughable that guys who get full scholarships to play ball are somehow indentured servants or whatever the alarmist morons say when they try to make the case that college athletes need to get paid. A free college degree is no laughing matter, and a lot of these kids wouldn’t have had the chance to attend school if not for these scholarships, so that argument seems dumb. On the other hand, I don’t have any glorious romantic illusions of amateurism either. Being broke in school sucks. If there are rich boosters out there offering you free shit or cash, and you come from a poor home, I have no problem with anyone taking it (even if you don’t come from a poor home, actually).
It isn’t even so much that these kids make all this money for the school, because let’s be honest, most of them (Newton being the rare exception) don’t add any income to the program. You think Oklahoma football would be deep in the red without the D-back who took the cushy ‘job’ where he doesn’t ever actually show up at that car dealership? Of course not. But it is a victimless crime. The rich alumni want to throw money around to feel like a part of the program, and the kid gets a car. Win win.
(Also, I know I am stating the obvious, but $180,000 for Cam Newton is the bargain of the fucking century. Do you think anyone was prepared to give a shit about Auburn’s football team this year? Of course not. They were another 6-4 team that Alabama was going to steamroll. Then the 280 pound Mike Vick fell from the sky- or Juco, but whatever- and all of a sudden they are 11-0? What the fuck?)
I will even take this a step farther: If there is a booster at any American (or Canadian, but I don’t want to go abroad) university that has any money or gifts that they want to give to a very good club, or very mediocre D3 hockey player (or very inept D1, for that matter), an aspiring sports writer, an average economics student, or a fucking fantastic frat member, I am making myself available. I have absolutely no integrity in this matter. ZERO VERACITY WHATSOEVER. The NCAA can go fuck itself. I am 100% for sale. Repeat, 100%.
On the other hand, Auburn is in Boise State’s way, and I am more of a ‘Bama guy, so FUCK THAT! HE IS TOTALLY GUILTY! SUSPEND NEWTON’S CHEATING ASS!
10. Hey, we made it! A full 10 rants!
I had an awesome, angry, cathartic, scathing dismantling of the human condition that I wrote here, but for the purposes of good taste, it won’t run. See the picks for more on that.
I’ll make up for it by writing a little bit, rather than just going with a sentence for most of the picks.
Drew Magary Link of the Week
In case we forgot how much Brett Favre sucks, although that would be hard because last week he fucking sucked a lot.
“Then they cut to Favre on the sidelines staring at game stills and waving off the trainer, and then Al threw it down to Andrea Fakelashes and she was like, “Brett wouldn’t talk to the trainers! HE’S SUCH A FUCKING TURBOSTUD DURRRRRR CREAMED PANTIES!” Then Favre went right back out onto the field and threw a goddamn pick, one of three last night, with surely more to come on his Charity Dick Six Farewell Tour. Fucking COCK.”
(Bonus line of the week that I wish I thought of: “In case you missed it, LeGarrett Blount’s 360-aerial touchdown from last week. …That’s goodness. Makes me want to punch a mouthy white kid.”)
Bill Simmons Link of the Week
I’m pissed that there is no money line on the game. Fuck, it would be nice to pound a positive return for predicting that (HOLY SHIT!) Tyler Thigpen might not be able to hold off a Bears team that is actually playing fairly well. I feel like the Dolphins have been massively overrated for about 3 years now. Also, fuck Thursday night games. I should be watching a shitty MAC game on these nights, at least until Thanksgiving, dammit.
Steelers (-7) over Raiders
I know that they have won three in a row, and are atop their division. I know that Jason Campbell is beginning to look like a passable quarterback. I even know that they are 5-4 and that McFadden leads the second best rushing attack (yardage) in the NFL. But they are the Raiders! It is Jason Campbell. I just don’t believe it yet. Anyways, even with last week’s hiccup, Pittsburgh has looked pretty solid with Rothlesberger is back, being aggressive, and pretty much refusing to take no as an answer, although he has been careless with his balls at times (let’s hear it for poor word choice!).
Packers (-3) over Vikings
Nick Collins and Charles Woodson are going to absolutely own Brett Favre. Since I can thank ESPN for a never ending stream of Vikings talk and don’t want to perpetuate this, I will take this opportunity to mention that I am tempted by the Lions +220, you know, with John Kitna and all, but the Cowboys looked just frisky enough with Garrett that I’m staying away.
Penn St. (-10) over Indiana
Again, I don’t have anything to say, so I’m going to take a page out of Magary’s book and talk about something that has nothing to do with football.
As a writer, there is nothing more frustrating than making something that you know is fucking golden, and immediately realizing that there is no way that you can post it, or even show it to someone else. I did that last night. 9 of the 10 rants for this column were in the books, I just needed to get one more. As it happens, I had been…er, uh, out, for a while. I was also at the tail end of a night that was not going quite how I had expected/hoped/planned. And I was back at my computer, where this column was open. ‘Rants, eh?’ I thought. I had just the thing. Through a haze, I began to type. Here is the first thing that came out: ‘You want a rant? Here’s a rant. Fuck that PG-13 h””””t. Here is a genuine, pissed off at the world rant. Brace your selves.’ You get the idea. What followed was insanely angry, completely distasteful, clearly intoxicated, 100% candid, extremely personal and FUCKING HILARIOUS rant to end all rants. Probably the funniest thing I have written. Naturally, there was no way I could post it, or even send it to someone else. I have absolutely no use for it. It is easy to make fun of Bill Simmons or whoever for getting pissed at editors or whatever because there shit gets cut, but it genuinely sucks when you have something good, and things like ‘taste’ or ‘journalistic standards’ or in my case ‘not wanting to look like a complete lunatic’ prevent you from being able to use it.
So yeah. Lions over Hoosiers.
Obviously I made that line up, but my prep school Alma matter is playing in the New England championships tomorrow. Since a lot of the readership of this blog has Kent ties, I thought I may as well throw that in. I also tried to actually gamble on this one, but my friend from Suffield insisted that her school spirit was lacking. Fucking buzzkill. Never try to talk football with girls. (I was all ready to do the corny ass ‘if you win, I’ll take you out, if I win, you take me out,’ bullshit too. Because my game is FUCKING NICE like that.)
Wisconsin (-4) over Michigan
The Big-10 has been sneaky good this year. Sure, they would probably still get annihilated by the top end SEC teams, but the great lakes boys at least have solid depth this year. Anyways, I like Denard, but the Badgers are a tough squad. Lay the points.
Call it a hunch. I’ll take those odds with a couple of good teams in a rivalry game. (I guess that would make it a reasoned bet, not a hunch, but let’s not get hung up on semantics when clichés are so much easier.)
Ravens versus Panthers over 37Ravens (-10.5) over Panthers.
Big day for Flacco. This one really is a hunch, but it is strong enough to double up on the black birds. The Panthers are fucking horrible.