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Offseason Roundtable #13

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) Ball State coach Jason Eck has fired up a Twitter account. Surprising? Expect more coaches to do this?
Alan: I think it’s great news but a little surprising that BSU or a coach there would be even close to the cutting edge or at least on the normal side of the scale in terms of college football. Considering the athletics department has always been sort of lagging or sorely lacking in terms of cool little tech stuff, website stuff, information for fans, etc. If this is the last step, it’s a yawn. If this is the first step, it’s great and sorely overdue. Now, we just need to get Coach Parrish on there.

RV: It’ll start spreading with each school that has a good or young SID. There’s no reason to not take advantage of every corner of the Internet, and while Twitter might not be around in a few years, it’s here for now. It’s a great way to touch recruits and your fanbase alike and as long as you follow the rules (you know who you are) there shouldn’t be any problems.

Edge: More coaches will join up, absolutely. And if they don’t do it soon, they’ll miss the opportunity. As I said yesterday, the NCAA has yet to act on Twitter like it has MySpace, Facebook, etc. Coaches might as well mine that gold vein while they can because it’ll be tapped before too long.

2.) The big news out of Alabama is that the Tide are appealing their 21 vacated wins punishment. Any chance the NCAA lets the Tide keep those victories?
Alan: God, I hope not. At some point or another, the NCAA needs to stop giving out these slap on the wrist punishments, or reducing something with actual teeth down to nothing on appeal. Here’s their chance to hold someone to the fire a little, thought a better punishment would be loss of scholarships, probation, etc.

RV: No. Alabama should take their dose of shut the hell up and be glad they didn’t have to forfeit their wins or lose a SINGLE god damn scholarship. Talk about getting off light…sorry, but just be glad the NCAA is just growing it’s baby teeth and hasn’t decided to fully operate as an association. *insert joke about Alabama claiming a national championship here*

Edge: I don’t see the NCAA changing a thing. It’s a formality for Alabama to proceed with an appeal. It’s not like they’ll get a worse punishment for appealing anyway, so what’s the harm?

3.) Former Hoosier Kellen Lewis has ended up at Valdosta State for his final year of eligibility. Does this kid have any kind of future whatsoever in football?
Alan: I wish there was a happy ending in store for Lewis, but I simply cannot say there is. This young man had a ton of talent, a ton of opportunity, and at least the ability to get a great education. It’s a shame anytime someone doesn’t take advantages of the things in their life that can advance them, and I think Lewis is one of those textbook examples of someone who just didn’t take advantage of everything he had in front of him. Best wishes as he goes to Valdosta State, but I feel like this is probably going to be a sad ending to a fairly sad book.

RV: Depends on your definition of football. If by football you mean not involved in any kind of football whatsoever, then yes. He has a future in football.

Edge: Valdosta State is his future… how’s that for a dose of reality? He’ll play, but he’s done after this. Finishing at IU, he may have had an outside chance at the NFL, but that’s left him for good. Kids, pay attention to this scenario. This is what drugs gets you. Valdosta State football.

4.) There’s talk of Northwestern heading to play a game at Wrigley Field. What are your thoughts about these games housed in a different sort of locale or place than what is normal for athletic teams?
Alan: I think it’s a good idea if done properly. ND in Yankee Stadium, USC at Dodger Stadium, something cool like that. But the games have to be two really excellent teams. And unfortunately, Northwestern wouldn’t be one of those 2 really excellent teams. However, I would love to see Wrigley play host to an ND game.

RV: Unless they’re playing Illinois/OSU/Michigan it probably wouldn’t sell out. The whole barnstorming idea is near and dear to my heart, but Northwestern doesn’t deserve to have a game like this. When you can only fill 60.6% of your own stadium, you can continue to try and sell out at home. I think it’s great for teams that are trying to expand their academic and athletic base, but traveling down the purple line to get off at Addison is just a joke.

Edge: I think it’s more a media play than anything. It’s exciting for the players in one aspect, but it really doesn’t mean anything other than to say, “I played at Wrigley”. Put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. Play football at Wrigley, it’s still a football game.

5.) Unsurprisingly, the BCS has rejected the proposal of the Mountain West Conference to redo the BCS Championship formula. Is the BCS ever going to change or are we going to see this structure for the near future?
Alan: For the near future, we have the BCS. It’s not perfect, there’s probably some room for improvement, but it sure as hell is better than a playoff. Kudos to the Mountain West for at least trying to be part of the solution instead of just sitting back and bitching, but a playoff isn’t the answer.

RV: The BCS will change as soon as someone figures out how the powers-that-be can make more money. Changing to a +1 is probably more likely, with the BCS adding an additional game to their format and creating a new bowl for to the highest bidder. I don’t see any reason for them to change the current format until football is ready to rip its foundations out and start fresh. I vote no.

Edge: I expect to see an increase in these types of proposals from the mid-majors. The MWC didn’t really front a revolution here, but this type of talk and action has the potential to snowball. Certainly other conferences feel the same way but don’t want to rock the boat just yet. Every year we hear it anyway: playoff this, playoff that… that’s never going to stop. I do see something happening in the future, but it’s going to be a long time coming. There are way too many factors to adopt a playoff system at this point, but you can be assured the talk will continue and the mid-major efforts for change will increase.

Readers: what do you have to say? Comment away!

Offseason Roundtable #12

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1) We never did discuss everyone’s thoughts on the Rose Bowl coming to ESPN in 2011, this placing all BCS games on ESPN for at least three years. How does that sit with you?
RV: I don’t have a problem with it, the BCS already has an unfair advantage in the CFB world. ESPN might as well botch all of the BCS games rather than let Fox have an opportunity to botch it up. What’s the worst that could happen?

Alan: The game itself moving to ESPN isn’t nearly as disturbing as the entire BCS moving over to the Worldwide Leader. Not that ESPN ever really championed the conversation about how to improve the BCS or an alternative sort of method to picking a national champion, but you can assume that ESPN will now be lauding the BCS as the greatest thing since the forward pass. It’s a real shame, and though I am not a playoff fan, there is probably a better way to facilitate who plays for the championship than the way we currently have. But ESPN won’t be engaging in such a discussion now, or ever, and that’s a disservice to those of us who watch Gameday, ESPN, or any other major network that has some ties to the current structure.

Edge: I’d be more concerned with viewership than anything. Sure, 95%+ have ESPN, but some still don’t. I also totally agree with what Alan said about ESPN not being in the fight for change in the system. Whether or not it needs it, at least one of the biggest voices in sports would have covered it (relatively) unbiased. Not going to happen that way now.

2) Brett Favre. Had enough or can’t wait to see how this unfolds?
RV: I still think Kiffin is going to find a way to get him at Tennessee, regardless of how illegal it is. Beyond that, I hope he gets mauled by a hay baler.

Alan: Way done. I always liked Brett Favre. Thought he was fun to watch, a model of someone who wasn’t blessed with prototypical talent or physique, yet managed to achieve success like few others in the NFL. He could have retired a Packer, been a God to those fans and that city, and sort of rode off into the sunset of retirement without a sour thought about him anywhere. Over the last year or so, Favre has managed to completely tank all that good will and actually build up some sizeable hatred. Last summer was sort of like a car accident that you didn’t want to watch but couldn’t look away. This summer is just painful and aggravating, and at some point an athlete needs to know when it’s time to walk away.

Edge: Know what would suck? Planning a vacation with Brett Favre. You’d never settle on a destination, and in the end you’d just end up in some mediocre place. He needs to let it go because in the end, it’s a no-win for everyone. I felt bad for Jets fans last year, and I feel bad for Vikings fans now. They’re put in a bad spot, along with everyone else on the team. Brett, take Mike Tyson’s advice and just fade away to Bolivian.

3) Settle a long-standing dispute. The best subs for tailgating: Subway, Blimpie’s, or Jimmy John’s?
Blimpie’s. Good lord, they put Subway to shame. Plus the guy who runs the Blimpie’s by work is hysterical.

Alan: Quality or price? Quality? Jimmy John’s. Price? Subway. However, their formerly rotund spokesman Jared was a Bloomington guy and IU student. Therefore, I have to go with Jimmy John’s. The only good thing about Bloomington is that they are keeping Bill Lynch away from any other school. That’s an incredibly generous thing for the Hoosiers to do, and I, for one, am thankful for that sort of kindness.

Edge: Oh come on guys, what’s better than showing up and saying, “Hey, I got the five! Five dollar! Five dollar footlongs!” I’ll go with Subway since I can’t get a Blimpie’s anywhere close to the stadium (no, I will not go all the way to Memorial Drive to get Blimpie’s), and I’m not Mikey Moneybags like Alan to get JJ’s.

4) The release of NCAA Football 2010 is approaching rapidly. What feature has you most excited with this year’s installment?
I’m interested to see where they took the online dynasty. I hope they gave it enough attention even though Madden is being updated like gangbusters. Hopefully they’ve improved the robo-QB and the cyber-LB and made it a bit more realistic.

Alan: Oh sweet jeebus, I simply cannot wait for this game to come out, and will apologize in advance to my girlfriend, employer, friends, and the like, because I can virtually promise you I will be a ghost for a couple of days. The fact that you can run the Wishbone, the fact that you can gain points through achievements for your favorite school, the fact that you can simply play football all week long. What isn’t to love? What am I most excited about? Everything.

Edge: I may be requesting a vacation day in July. I am most excited for better adaptive opponents. Just last week I was playing on Heisman difficulty in ’09 as Ball State. In two consecutive games, MiQuale had a total of over 1,200 yards. Yes, you read that right. When I can run 3 running plays all game and not get sniffed out after the third one, there’s a problem. So, I’m looking forward to the challenge.

5) This summer marks the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the O.J. Simpson murder case. Looking back and reflecting on this, what athlete would not surprise you by “pulling an O.J.”?
RV: I’ll go outside the box and say Houston Nutt. After the fiasco in Arkansas, it seems that his insanity knows no boundaries and Ole Miss got just enough of a taste of success to turn up the craziness.

Alan: Let’s see… to recreate the OJ fiasco, you’d need an athlete who’s been in movies, who’s past their career, and married to a white chick. Not being specific enough, you’d also need to have someone who clearly isn’t well put together, who can’t make good decisions, and demands to be noticed, known, and part of the national conversation long after anyone cares about them or thinks they’re relevant. So, Brett, when this Vikings thing doesn’t work out so well for you, there’s always double murder if you’re just looking to grab some headlines. Not sure if you have an Al Cowlings to drive you around, but I’m sure someone in southern Mississippi has an SUV you could chill in.

Edge: There’s simply too many nutjob athletes out there, and at this point no one would surprise me. I’ll have to say that I can see someone like T.O. going O.J. in the future. Especially with Keyshawn at the wheel of the white Ford Bronco (or Escalade, whatever). “This is Keyshawn, you know who this is, damnit!” But who would I like to see this happen to? Jimmy Fallon. He just needs to go to jail. Forever.

Readers… comments… go!

Offseason Roundtable #11

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) Lane Kiffin has quite possibly committed yet another minor NCAA violation by letting ESPN film an “Outside the Lines” program while he was meeting with a recruit. When and how will this all end?
Alan: It won’t end until either Kiffin is run out of town, or the NCAA drops the proverbial banhammer on Tennessee thanks to his transgressions. The bottom line in all of Kiffin’s theatrics and problems is that now he absolutely MUST win. Where as before all of this, fans wanted wins, now they expect wins. They are the only things that will make the rabid UT fanbase sit back and forget about all these little problems.

Edge: It’s tough saying how it will end, but I can bet on how it will begin to end. At some point, the money-makers and boosters are going to start calling for heads to roll. Some poor guy (or gal) will lose their job simply because of an association with these problems – we’ll say an assistant compliance officer or something. It’s a shame really, but it happens all the time. Kiffin will not be held accountable for any of this. That is until he starts losing, which almost seems inevitable at this point. I predict turbulence for the next couple years, and in the end, the Kiffin era will be a black eye to the Tennessee program. It’s got to put fans in the worst possible situation, and I really do feel bad for Vols fans at this point. Just not the way you want to start 2009 at all.

RV: This is all just fluff, even when major violations are committed, the NCAA hands down a quick pat on the back and whispers “Please don’t do that again or we’ll have to do something that won’t affect you”. This won’t end until Myles Brand is replaced by someone who decides that our beloved sport deserves to be treated with more respect. I’d have to imagine Tressel, Kiffin, Saban and Carroll all laugh at the idle threats the NCAA has put forward. Someone will finally piss off someone connected and they’ll lose a few scholarships, at that point all these idiotic violations will slow down to a slow crawl, reminiscent of the Irish running game.

2.) We’ve covered the Mark Schlabach article as it related to Ball State and Kentucky, but was there anything else in his toughest/easiest 2009 schedule column that surprised you?
Alan: Surprising? No. It’s not a secret that some of the big boys in the SEC schedule pretty weak opponents. It’s also no secret that the Big 10 does the same. There are few examples of major conference teams that actually schedule tough quality opponents, and that’s a real shame. I long for the days when major college teams played other major college teams instead of Directional State A&M Tech.

Edge: No, I honestly don’t think anything else in there was surprising. But I will say that I was surprised to see Ball State even in that article. I think Mark lost some money betting against the Cards during their 12-0 run, then put money on them to win the MAC championship and GMAC. Basically, the Cards shit in his cereal and he’s taking it out on them now.

RV: I’m surprised that they don’t go after bigger programs. At this point in the season, nobody knows how each schedule will look, so if you’re creating a fluff article why not go after the big boys? Every schedule can be scrutinized to some degree and if it doesn’t, just make it up like the rest of the sports journalism world. Integrity? Don’t worry about that.

3) Breaking news today is that due to players giving other students their own textbooks for free, Alabama must vacate wins from 2005 to 2007. Your thoughts?
Alan: My initial thought was, “Way to go Alabama, and welcome to BSU from like 5 years ago.” At least in the grand scheme of things, BSU set the standard. In all seriousness, this is nothing new for the SEC. Most every school save for a small number have been on probation at some point or another during my lifetime, and honestly, vacating wins is the worst punishment around. It’s a slap on the wrist and a light slap at that.

Edge: Stupid, and this “textbook scam” thing has been done many times before. Tip: you’re going to get caught! But what can you do? Alabama got lucky in that the penalty didn’t affect anything from the present to the future. So they get knocked around a bit in the media, but then they can move on. I agree with the way Saban put it when talking to reporters after the ruling. His team isn’t going to be affected now, and his recruits won’t suffer for it. Time to move on.

RV: Lame. Vacate wins? What the hell does that mean? I’m pretty sure any AD/Head Coach will trade potentially vacated wins (which equate to a slightly above average wrist massage) for a chance to skate the rules. As already established, until scholarships start going out the window, these rules will continue to be massaged, avoided and outright broken. I realize that there has to be a certain level of flexibility when dealing with student-athletes, but does anyone really think that being on double secret probation with the NCAA means anything? Toothless kitten.

4.) Now that we’ve had a chance to digest a lot of the preseason polls from some of the major names in the business, what teams do you think will surprise everyone with a better-than-anticipated showing in 2009?
Alan: I think Georgia will turn some heads, and I think Notre Dame will be a dark horse contender for the national title, but for very different reasons. Georgia for the reason that their schedule is so tough and their conference so regarded that if the Bulldogs win the SEC, they’re a shoe-in for the national title game and not many people are looking past Florida. As for the Irish, they play a reduced strength schedule and are staring 11-1 in the face. With a record like that and an outside shot at 12-0, the Irish are national title contenders for certain.

Edge: I fully expect to see some improvement from Oklahoma State and LSU. I think Oklahoma State will be the wedge between Oklahoma and Texas on who will be conference champs, much like Tech last year. As for LSU, I would be very surprised if they are not the next best team in the SEC in 2009. I also agree with Alan – Notre Dame could do some serious damage, and I also think Ball State will be a bit better than the bottom 20%. I hope that’s not wishful thinking…

RV: Insert Homer Pick Here. I am an unabashed Notre Dame fan, and it’s time for this team to come to fruition. If someone told me that an OL had 100+ starts, a top 3 WR crew, top 3 TE crew, a QB who can make every throw (and better stats than Stafford through their first two years), talent all over the backfield, a Tenuta-blitzkrieg defense, a soph terror at DE, one of the best defensive backfields in the country and lost very little on either side of the ball…I’d say you’re describing a top 10 team. Throw in that schedule and it’s almost a lock that they’ll be top 10. The only problem is that everyone loves to hate on the Irish, so any slip up will be deemed a death to the Weis era (and rightfully so). But beyond the Fighting Irish, I feel like Miami is going to get their swagger back. There’s too much pride and talent to have them continually suck balls and Randy Shannon can’t be that bad of a coach. They need to get the ball rolling, and quickly.

5.) It’s still a long way to kickoff… what’s on your to-do list this summer before the fun begins?
Alan: Lots of barbecuing, getting ready for kickoff, and trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to prepare for the fall. Hopefully my Yankees will get their collective asses in gear, so as not to give me an ulcer.

Edge: Red Sox. 8-0 against the Yanks this year. Alan, I’ll send you a bottle of Tums and some Prilosec. But more importantly, the Phish concert at Deer Creek. Definitely the top priority of the summer. And if any of you are in Muncie, check out the local “festivals”. Your rock & roll reporter will be making some musical appearances this summer.

RV: Well, my main goal is to get the transition to our wordpress OTP page finished, but that’s a hell of a project in a busy summer. Hopefully I can continue to drop my handicap near single digits, find a rich, mute ex-gymnast to marry and find a way to visit friends on both coasts. I submit that none of this will happen, but without goals in life, what do we have?

Readers… Comment section… Go!

Offseason Roundtable #10

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1) The NCAA has given Florida State two weeks to respond to major violations that could cost Coach Bowden 14 wins. How appropriate would the decision to wipe 14 wins be, and how will that impact the history when we have a chance to look back at all this?
Edge: This really is idiotic. This reminds me of all those people that want to scratch home runs and pitching wins in baseball due to steroids. Yeah, it sucks, but you can’t change the past. In 50 years we’ll look at the record books, and it is still going to show Florida State won those games, asterisk be damned. You want to punish the school? Take away 14 scholarships. Or how about no bowl eligibility for 2 years? There’s other ways to go without stupidly taking wins away from a legend.

RV: The problem that I have with this is two-fold. First, 14 games? That is the amount of wins that Bowden has cheated for over the years? Come on, that’s just petty. The man is a legend, just let it go if you’re only going to after him this one time. Secondly, the man is a God in the coaching world. He deserves better than some slap on the wrist that will put him behind Paterno in the race to most wins before dying on the field. Neither Paterno or Bowden really care about the total wins record nearly as much as the fans do, so do the right thing and let him keep it. In the end, true historians and CFB fans will put the prerequisite asterisk next to his name but it won’t hold the value in the history books that Bonds’ asterisk does.

Alan: Ultimately, it’s all a wash. Vacating wins does virtually nothing other than officially removing them from the record books, but college football fans will have a hard time with this and Florida State fans will still claim they were victories. If the violations are sufficiently major enough to cause this kind of an uproar, then maybe 14 games and letting him keep his job is rather light. If the violations aren’t sufficiently major enough to cause this kind of an uproar, then the NCAA is out to ruin a legend simply for the news of it all. Either way, that’s not good.

2) Ball State wasn’t painted in a good light this week as the preseason magazines all but predict a rather dismal season for the Cards. Your thoughts?
Edge: I didn’t believe what they all said last year, so why would I this year? So they think BSU is borderline going to suck… big deal. Look, if these preseason mags were right all the time, what point would there be to play the season (or have a site like this!). They have a load of great statistical information and some very important analysis, but in terms of rankings, it’s a crapshoot.

RV: Preseason mags are notorious for glossing over details and overlooking the things that make teams successful. And what point do we take them at their face value and stop overvaluing the preseason crap. If you want a good indicator of a team’s potential, talk to someone who follows them regularly. OTP might have a somewhat slanted view, but we certainly know more than the preview magazines will pretend to know. Personally, I use these magazines to get general information about a team and help support any thoughts I might have about the makeup of their team. Anything more than that, and I know I’m being foolish.

Alan: In reality, it’s not surprising in the least. Regardless of what happened last year, BSU is hardly a football school, we lost a lot, and we still play in the MAC. To the casual observer, that says that BSU isn’t very good. Additionally, there isn’t enough of a national following or presence to really necessitate them doing their homework or looking past the obvious, because their time is better spent building up schools like USC, Texas, Florida, and Notre Dame, who’s fans will buy any magazine that features them. It’s like asking me about soccer. I don’t know enough to even offer any sort of relevant opinion.

3) News reports came out that Lee Corso had suffered a small stroke recently. God forbid something should happen to him, but if he was unable to be a part of College GameDay with Herbie and Fowler, who would you like to see fill that spot?
Edge: Stephen A. Smith is unemployed now, right? There ya go. Ok, seriously… I think I’d like to see Dr. Lou in there. I think he’d provide just as much crazy old man-ness as Corso, so it would be a good fit.

RV: Depends on what role we’re trying to fill. If the goal is to find a zany character who pretends to know what he’s talking about but just truly be a caricature of college football fans, it has to be Coach Lou. Truly entertaining with a whole lot of eye rolling mixed in. If we’re trying to round out the awesome twosome of Herb-dawg and Fowler, my vote would be Jesse Palmer. He always seems to err on the side of straight forward analysis but still adds enough controversial commentary to keep people interested in what he’s saying. Plus, he hasn’t turned all SPEEEEEED like Herbstreit has.

Alan: Well, if we’re going for former coaches who didn’t have great records and who sort of sucked at the game of football, I’m sure Bill Lynch will be looking for some work after this season. ZING! In all reality, you can’t replace Corso. And the show would suffer immensely if he wasn’t a part of it. And if they brought in someone like Mark May, I would drive to Bristol and burn down ESPN.

4) You can attend one regular season game this year. What game and why?
Edge: Oklahoma – Texas, hands down. Huge rivalry, and it’s destined to be one of the biggest games ever for these two teams. There’s going to be a lot of Heisman talk centered around this one game, just watch.

RV: I’ll leave out the ND/USC game, because I know I’m going…but my vote goes for the Red River Shootout (I refuse to say replace Shootout with Rivalry). My lord, that game is going to have a plethora of draft picks, gigantic men, Heisman hopefuls, finger gestures and beautiful women to require any football fan to do anything to be there. Hopefully it’ll avoid the 3:30pm slot that the USC/ND game currently has…please make this a night game.

Alan: Florida-Georgia. The winner of this game has the inside track to winning the SEC East and getting the berth in the SEC title game that comes with it. By default, if you win the SEC odds are you’re playing for a national title, so one of these two will probably win it all this year.

5) College football fans unfortunately have to endure a relatively long offseason. But that time gives us a chance to do other things – like watching sports movies. What’s the worst sports movie ever?
Edge: Ready for this? “Necessary Roughness”. Quantum Leap guy playing the QB, Kathy Ireland the kicker, Robert Loggia, and… wait for it… SINBAD. Can’t go wrong, right? Bleh… On another note, the best terrible movie with a significant portion of the plot involving sports has to be “The Last Boy Scout” with Damon Wayans as a drug addict former QB and Bruce Willis playing a guy playing John McClane. Terrible acting, horrific plot, worse one-liners than a Bond movie, but still immensely enjoyable over a few beers.

RV: Whatever that movie was with Orlando Bloom about tennis. In-air flight movies, I hate you.

Alan: I’ll go with two, neither about Football. “The Fan” with Robert Deniro and Wesley Snipes was simply awful. Was it Barry Bonds? Was it not? Deniro as a knife salesman who loves an uppity scumbag baseball player. It was crap. Second, I’ll go with Rocky V. After the epic cinematic masterpiece that was Rocky IV, we get this turd. I’m still mad. Mad enough that I never saw Rocky VI, as I pretend the series ultimately ended after he beat some Russian ass.

Readers… Comment section… Go!

Offseason Roundtable #9

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) The American Football Coaches Association announced this week they would be moving to a secret final ballot and consider reducing the number of teams in preseason polls to 10 or 15 rather than 25. Will these changes make the poll more usable or better? Or is this another example of the NCAA doing the opposite of what makes sense?
Edge: None of that makes sense to me… why a secret ballot? What the hell do they have to be secretive about? I hope someone out there can shed some light on this because it’s just so… backwards. As it pertains to preseason polls being only 10 or 15 teams, I suppose I can see that. Most of the time 16-25 are a wild shot in the dark anyway. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever. But yeah, this whole “secret ballot” thing is fishy. And it sucks. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has a secret ballot for inductions, and it’s considered a huge joke in the music business. So, I hope the people in charge pay attention to this.

Alan: I have no problem with the Coach’s Poll doing whatever it would like to do. However, if they continue with the secrecy and cloak and dagger methods, then it needs to be nowhere near a part of the BCS. The simple fact of the matter is that the poll is inherently flawed, it’s membership incapable of being non-biased, and teams are already at a disadvantage because of or lack of preseason “hype” from networks, magazines, and the media. Want to know what would be awesome? Don’t do any sort of rankings until week 6 or so. At least then you can evaluate a team’s total body of work.

RV: The coaches poll is about as big of a joke as it comes because there is no reason for the coaches to take it seriously. The amount of politicking and bullshit that happens in its previous iteration is already a joke, making it completely secret just makes it even worse. There is no value in reducing the number of teams in the polls because it’ll just make the top 10 or 15 even more difficult to vote for, not that they do the voting anyways. This makes as much sense as reducing the amount of recruiting that the head coach can do during the offseason. Hopefully they’ll just abolish the coaches poll.

2.) The other dramatics this week were provided by Kiffin and Spurrier at the SEC Spring Meetings and their small scale confrontation. Buy or sell Kiffin ever being considered one of the boys amongst SEC Coaches?
Edge: Sell. Kiffin is a joke, and he’s got no business being considered “one of the guys.” How about this? Win some games, maybe win the SEC, and then talk some shit. But you can’t be a first year coach and defecate all over your chance at some good PR. I’ve heard it said that even bad publicity is still publicity. Well, this type of bad publicity is something you don’t want. I’d be appalled if I were a Tennessee booster or donor. But getting back to the main point, no, Kiffin should be once and for all the leper of the SEC. He’s pretty much Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack”, only he’s not even remotely funny, appealing, enjoyable, and he doesn’t even have a radio in his golf bag. He sucks.

Alan: I’m going to neither buy nor sell at this point. Unfortunately, in the SEC, it’s all about victories. If Kiffin can win a conference title, then he’ll be the lovable loudmouth, aka Steve Spurrier. However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so ultimately, young Mr. Kiffin has no future except as the spoiled petulant child that’s been rearing it’s ugly head all over the offseason. Time will tell…

RV: Sell. No way anyone is going to respect Kiffin. He won’t do anything to deserve their respect and will only be noticed for his flame-outs. I’m bored with him already.

3.) When asked about the potential of the Big 10 taking on another member, Joe Paterno focused on Rutgers, Pitt, or Syracuse. When asked specifically about Notre Dame, Paterno said, “There’s some pressure, I would suppose, to maybe go back to Notre Dame and ask again, which I would not be happy with. I think they’ve had their chance.” Your thoughts?
Edge: Crotchety old JoePa. Let him have his say, he’s earned the right. If he doesn’t like ND, fine. Their feud goes back the the 19th century anyway. My thinking is that JoePa will be gone before a 12th team is added anyway. So, just sit back and nod and say, “ok, ok” then let him go take a nap. We’ve got better things to talk about.

Alan: Kudos to Joe Pa for being lucid enough to even formulate an opinion on the matter. However, if Joe Pa or anyone else for that matter, believes the Big Ten wouldn’t love to have the Irish as part of the conference they’re fooling themselves. ND will never go for that, and now the Big Ten coaches have to save face by acting like they didn’t want them in the first place.

RV: Paterno does realize this isn’t 1993, right? The Big 10 would take Notre Dame and drop Penn State if they could, so…yeah, about that.

4.) Percy Harvin this week insinuated that he watched Tim Tebow turn down celebs and sports reporters who basically threw themselves at him. If you were St. Tebow, and assuming you were ready to beat some cheeks, who would you be unable to resist in the sports world? (QUALIFIER: Erin Andrews boning not allowed, largely because of the “No shit, sherlock” principle)
Edge: I plead the fifth. My wife reads this.

Alan: Aww… that’s sweet Edge. As for me, I think I would have to go with Heidi Watney from New England Sports Network. If for no other reason than to slip on a Yankees jersey when she wasn’t looking and slam her head in the headboard.

RV: If I was Tebow, I would obviously be happy with Kirk Herbstreit. But if I was me, with the advantages of Tim Tebow, I’d have a hard time saying no to anyone, because I’m a big slut. And if you’re curious why I’m a huge slut, I learned it from every one of my exgirlfriends.

5.) Apparently they are beginning a little thing known as the Stanley Cup Finals this weekend. Give the readers your prediction about which team dominated by Canadians and Europeans will win an American Sports Trophy. Bonus… What would you do with the Stanley Cup if you had it for a day?
Edge: I’d say the Red Wings, but I know nothing about hockey anymore. But I’ll mentally root for Detroit because I think that town needs some good news. Ok, if I had the Cup for a day… man that’s a tough one. I’d definitely drink a cold O’Shannon’s draft from it first. Then I’d go get some glamour shots at the mall with it. Next I’d take to a hockey-loving buddy of mine and not let him touch it. Then, before i gave it back, I’d turn it upside down and carve “Brooks Was Here” in it. Bonus to those who get the reference.

Alan: Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’, Edge. As for the series, I’ll say Pittsburgh in 6, but only because I have to. I’ve been forced to watch all of this year’s Pens playoff game by my substitute Heidi Watney, and I do like them, though Sidney Crosby’s playoff beard looks sketched on by a sharpie. As for the Cup, I wonder what Cash 4 Gold would give me for it…

RV: Wings-Pens, rematch of last year’s finals. Pens are a year older and the Wings have been playing out of their mind. I think it all will come down to the team that plays better together and has the most heart will come out victorious. It’ll be a hard fought, closely contested series with the victors probably edging out the series in 7. Generic enough for you? I’d take it tailgating and keep enough ranch dressing in the cup for all of the tailgate to enjoy.

Readers… comment section… go.

Offseason Roundtable #8

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every week. Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) The big news recently has been the reporting of another secondary violation from Tennessee for Lane Kiffin. Buy or sell this as another isolated incident or yet another troubling piece of a disturbing pattern?
RV: This is a very troubling piece, IMO. This shows a massive lack of institutional control, regardless of how you place the blame. I find it ridiculous that this keeps happening in such a public manner, and it’s maddening that Kiffin even gets a shot at being a head coach after being such an ass. It’s insulting to the countless other candidates that would treat this job with the proper respect it deserves. If I’m a Volunteer fan, I’m pretty damn upset that such a loose cannon has followed in Fulmer’s deep footsteps.

Edge: Very disturbing. He has stated that he’d never post anything on a recruit on Twitter because he knows that’s against the rules. Ok Lane, let’s say I do believe you. What I do not believe is that you or your AD would let someone who obviously doesn’t know the rules run your Twitter page. But that’s bullshit. Lane does not know the rules very well, and these infractions, the 11 players who left, the signing of a rapist, and the Florida high school incident really should be grounds for forced retirement. But what do I know…

Alan: You can read what I think about this particular violation in a couple of posts below. Ultimately, it’s either Kiffin being brazenly stupid and/or a complete asshole by giving a virtual middle finger to his compliance office and the NCAA. Or… he and the athletic department are borderline incompetent putting something as public as this in the hands of someone who can’t do it. Regardless of the reasons behind it, it’s yet another little pain in the ass for Kiffin and the Vols. In and of themselves, these are minor minuscule type things. Collectively, they paint a pretty significant picture of Kiffin as a coach in way over his head who has no want, desire, or ability to improve.

2.) With the recent addition of ESPN U to more homes via a deal with Comcast, is this a good or bad thing for the Cardinals, the MAC, and the rest of the midmajor programs?
RV: I’m not sure I follow, how can this be a bad thing? Exposure is always good, and I know that I’m not the only one who will watch football on any channel at any time, so if it gets more MAC games on TV it’s a fantastic situation. Comcast is a fuck, so they don’t deserve any of your money, so that’s the only bad thing. Fucking Comcast.

Edge: Terrible news. No one wants to see a MAC game. No one. Ever. (Ok, it’s actually great news).

Alan: Well, I will take the opposite stance, and not for the simple sake of going against the proverbial grain. The reason why the MAC was allowed to exist and flourish on ESPNU is because it was a secondary type market that wasn’t a flagship network in the ESPN family because it wasn’t in very many homes. However, now that it is, it’s simply an additional station with a large national reach. If ESPN leaves the MAC on it, then yes, it’s great. However, and what I think is highly probable, is that ESPN begins to load their newly minted SEC rights onto the U, or some other BCS league game. Then that’s bad, because frankly, the MAC is running out of networks and week nights. What’s next? Tuesday afternoons?

3.) The Big Ten has had talks about expanding out to a 12th team. Is that good for the Big 10? Who would fit the bill the best?
RV: Depends on who you’re asking. I think it’d be good for the Big 10 because their scheduling makes no sense when a team can avoid PSU/OSU/UM all in the same year. I feel that it’d add to the competitiveness of the Big 10 if they had a similar setup to the SEC (SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!!!!111) but they need another team to accomplish that. The obvious answer is Notre Dame, which is not going to happen and I won’t discuss it. You’re an idiot if you think that will happen in your lifetime. Let me flip the script real quick, how about you just get rid of Indiana? Now you can actually be the Big 10 and have a conference full of non-Lynch football teams. If you really want to add someone, I vote for TCU. Sure, it makes no sense but they need a real fucking conference at some point and the Big 12 isn’t letting them in anytime soon.

Edge: Meh… it’s all dependent on who would be the 12th team whether or not it’s good for the Big Ten. Really, any team in a mid-major conference that is consistently powerful and that’s geographically close to other Big Ten schools would work. Or, as RV says, they could drop one. I’d like it to be Purdue please.

Alan: Here’s the thing. The Big 10 is about a lot more than simple football. You have to be a solid academic school. The easy answer, as V said, is Notre Dame, but that will never happen, largely because of ND’s massive television contract that they have no intention of sharing. That leaves a couple of other options. When I look at the geography of the Big 10, there’s two schools that they should be looking at. Pittsburgh and Mizzou. Pittsburgh for the great academics, a built in rivalry with Penn State, and a school already in their footprint. That screws the Big East, but so be it. The other more interesting alternative is Mizzou. You allow the Tigers in, draft TCU to fill the hole in the Big 12, and everyone wins. Additionally, it pushes the Big Ten brand into a whole new segment of the country.

4.) There was quite the kerfuffle when it appeared that Notre Dame had selectively included certain seasons and not others in head coach Charlie Weis’ biography. Certainly ADs and administrators put positive spin on things all the time. Is expungement good for the greater advancement of the program or just simply whitewashing a problem?
RV: I think it should be done more often than it currently is, but it’s on the SID to be creative. Everything about the CFB game has become slick and why shouldn’t coaches’ bios be included in that category? Any casual fan knows that Notre Dame had a dismal season in 07 and a disappointing one in 08, I don’t think it needs to be put into his bio. Wikipedia will take care of the rest of the details.

Edge: Omitting what everyone should already know isn’t a huge deal. But it does at least need to be mentioned. Unfortunately when you go 3-9 you can’t just sweep that under the rug and pretend like it didn’t happen. If you want to have integrity, you have to give a whole picture, or maybe at least a half-sentence about a dismal season. It’s not like ND is the only one to do this, but any time Weis is associated with something remotely controversial, you can bet it’ll need to be covered. Poor Charlie.

Alan: As it turns out, this whole “story” was simply a misunderstanding. The records from the poor seasons were in there, just not bolded, underlined, and attention grabbing. I am not a proponent at all of omitting things or whitewashing anything. A coach’s record is a coach’s record, and with Wikipedia and the internet, it’s best to get in front of any potentially damning empirical evidence of incompetence or failure.

5.) The story dominating the sports landscape is Michael Vick’s release from prison. If you’re an owner of an NFL team, do you give him a shot? Will Vick be on a roster come opening day?
RV: Rich Brooks thinks the sports landscape is bullshit. Who cares that Vick has been released from prison, besides pit bull breeders across the country? I’m tired of hearing about stories that aren’t even close to news. Greg Paulus maybe, might have, sort of gotten a try-out according to John Clayton’s merkin. Who cares? Vick might end up on an NFL team. Who cares? Favre fell down a well and hasn’t responded to Peter King’s advances in weeks. Who cares? If you’re going to make up a story and run with it, can we pick something that contains a little bit of substance? If Vick makes it on a roster for opening day, it’ll be a huge black mark on the NFL. The NFL seems to be run by sheep (Jamarcus Russell? Really?) and if ESPN pushes the Vick angle enough, he’ll end up on a team. But if I’m in charge, Vick doesn’t even come up in conversation.

Edge: Tough call… I wouldn’t let him dog-sit while I was away, that’s for sure. He won’t be on a roster in 09, but he may get his shot in 2010. I’d honestly have to feel out the situation as an owner. Is he truly repentant? What has he done to better himself? What can he bring to my team other than baggage? He doesn’t deserve a second chance if I were in charge, but I don’t think he’ll be out of the league forever. Just a hunch.

Alan: As an owner, no. For me, I’d rather lose with character and integrity than win with a bunch of thugs and felons. However, I’m quite positive that someone will be willing to take a flier on Mike Vick. The more troubling thing is whether or not he’s even worth the risk, dog fighting aside. Granted, I’m not an NFL aficionado, but Vick never struck me as a successful QB. He was flashy and very media blitzy but ultimately, he seemed all fluff and no feathers.

Readers… comments… go.

Offseason Roundtable #7

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every other week or so? Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1. College Football Live is traveling the country spending weeks at a time at various campuses. If those guys ever came to Ball State, what would you recommend they take in?
Alan: I would say for entertainment options, head on down I-69 to Indianapolis. However, if they are dead set on having a Muncie week, then there are a few things that are absolute musts. When visiting Muncie, you must have some dill chips and a Blue Moon or three at Scotty’s Brewhouse. Preferably on the patio. You must roll through campus and check out the architecture (Bracken as a stack of books, the Arch building as an easel, etc.). You probably should go to QL’s and get some barbecue. Assuming you can find it and it’s open. You’ll definitely want to close the night with a Carter’s hot dog. Your best bet is one of his Chicago dogs, but a chili cheese with mustard and onion is acceptable. If you’re looking for skanks, head down to Dill Street, assuming the place is even still open and the various strands of herpes that subsist there haven’t demolished it from the inside out. Yet.

Edge: Ah, so many sights to see, so little time. For the food aspect, I’d say get some grub from Scotty’s or maybe Pete’s Duck Inn. Have a beer (or root beer) at the Heorot. Bowl a couple frames at Clancy’s. Campus tour? Why not. And just for the postgame off-camera time, head down to Joker’s and take bets on who vomits first (or make fun of your sound guy next week when he mysteriously has a prescription for Valtrex).

RV: College Football Live spent a week at Florida and Notre Dame (which was a poorly researched week). As gigantic of an Irish fan as I am, I don’t see the need for a full week at any campus when fall practice hasn’t even started. Let’s hope that we don’t have to fill a full week in Muncie…but if they did the first stop would be the facilities. BSU’s facilities are better than quite a few in the MAC which is like having less herpes than Paris Hilton. With enough alumni watching, maybe we could turn some ESPN spin into a helpful venture. You guys can cover the obvious stops on the trip, but if ESPN is coming to town I’m pushing to get something that’ll either get our AD a swift kick in the ass or the boot.

2. With the recent “attention” being paid to USC and their alleged indiscretions, is cheating the norm or the exception at major programs? How can college football combat this?
Alan: The answer to this question bothers me because there simply is no good answer. If you assume it goes on, and that isn’t a huge leap to make, then you’re a cynic, someone who has no faith in humanity, etc. If you assume it doesn’t happen, then you’re woefully unrealistic and have no real grasp on truth and fact. Do I think a large majority of FBS schools are dropping thousands of dollars to players left and right? No. But I think it does happen far more frequently than any of us want to admit or think. Minor schools stand to make millions of dollars in revenue from an increase in bowl payouts, merchandising, etc. so tossing a few thousand dollars at a recruit seems like good business. Illegal. But good business. Major school infractions like this are probably fewer and far between, but I’m sure it happens. Either through over active boosters, friends of the program, or coaches and administrators under immense pressure to win and soon, it’s a powder keg ripe for cheat-tacular explosions. The only solution is the heavy hand of justice and not the subjective unequal slap on the wrists. Coaches who are found responsible for directly cheating should have a lifetime ban. Schools found responsible for lack of institutional control should have to not participate in athletics (all athletics) for two years. That will curb the cheating pretty damn quick I think.

Edge: Cheating is one thing… I won’t say USC isn’t, but outright cheating isn’t something that happens a lot. What does happen a lot is rule-bending. This will never stop, and the haves will always try to outwit the have-nots. It’s nothing new here… it’s going to happen every year, and every year the NCAA sends me a thicker Division I manual because of it. You can’t combat this. It’s like combating performance enhancing drugs. You get a test that works, some guy in a lab coat figures out a way to bypass this. Circle of life guys.

RV: Cheating, unfortunately, is close to the norm. It’s tough for anyone to convince me that recruiting isn’t dirty, when there have been fantastic books written about that very fact and stories pop up all the time of potential infractions. I don’t think all schools are as bad as USC seems to be, but to think that other schools aren’t massaging their recruits with money and coeds is awfully ignorant. The easiest way to combat this would be to blow up the whole idea of college football. There’s no easy way to cut out the cheating, period, it just needs to be better policed. If you get caught, you get slapped. If you can get away with it, good job, we’ll catch you as soon as you slip up.

3. So Greg Paulus finally lands at Syracuse. Buy or sell him ending up with the Orangemen as a good fit for Paulus? Buy or sell him ending up there for Syracuse as a good fit for them?
Alan: I mean, when your only other option is being an assistant coach or something somewhere or working at a Tire Barn, I guess Syracuse is an upgrade. Maybe? In all reality, it’s a tremendous buy for Paulus. Whether or not he’s successful or not or even sees the field, he gets some more free education from a top notch university and continues to be an athlete. Not a bad way to spend a fall. For the Cuse, it’s certainly not ideal to have a competitor for the most important position on the field who hasn’t taken a snap in over 4 years. But it’s Syracuse, and really, it can’t get much worse.

Edge: He’s not going to get much PT, but he’s back in his home state and gets a chance to be a BMOC somewhere else. Hooray for him. He probably sees this as a win-win, but it’s more of a buy for Paulus than for the Orange. The team seems to be in a confused state with this, and it’s really not impressive to see them going this route. If I were the starting QB and we signed a guy who hasn’t played in 4 years and only has 1 year left? Yeah, all of the sudden I understand Cutler. Just kidding.

RV: Sell. Paulus is 180lbs and is expecting to stand up to the rigors of a full season? What exactly is Syracuse gaining from this besides publicity? Penn State in game two? He’ll get snapped in half. Syracuse is in a rebuidling mode, they aren’t in a position to surround Paulus with talent that will overcome his lack of football snaps over the past four years and they certainly can’t keep his jersey clean. This just puts Syracuse another year behind schedule, but luckily Notre Dame doesn’t play them this year. I wish them nothing but losses this year.

4. The GMAC Bowl has shifted ties away from CUSA and instead the MAC will get to play the ACC #9. Is this really a better option? Isn’t there just a wee bit too many Bowl Games?
Alan: I mean, I guess. At least it will register a bit on the national radar when a MAC School plays a team from a BCS conference, assuming the ACC fills all their spots. What is more likely is the MAC representative will end up playing an at large school from one of the other mid major conferences. So really, this is either no change or a change to playing a crappy team who barely qualified for a bowl in the first place. The bottom line is that there is WAY too many Bowl Games. Teams that are 7th or 8th in their conference, coasting in at .500 with a win over a 1-AA school is not Bowl worthy in my mind. Keep it to the teams, both BCS and non-BCS, that are worthy of being rewarded. Then you’ll have a bowl season worth a damn.

Edge: I will never complain about football in December and January. It’s a rough time for me since I know it’s over so soon after it just began. But, I’m going to go the Rich Brooks route here. Some of these bowls are bullshit. In reality, they don’t mean anything, and the fact that a MAC team will play the #9 team in the ACC…THE #9 TEAM!…just solidifies this position. So you’re telling me that out of 12 teams in the ACC, nine will go to bowls. What the hell is this? Tee-ball? Everyone gets a chance to hit? There’s no outs? We don’t keep score? Come on, people. I’m not opposed to these games, but let’s be realistic and admit they don’t mean a damn thing in the long run. Again, it gives the BCS conferences a hell of a lot more than it gives us peon mid-majors. But keep playing ’em… I wouldn’t want to have to watch Grey’s Anatomy instead of a game.

RV: I think it’s a much better option. If this gives a MAC team a crack at a better recognizable name than I am all for it. If Ball State could’ve played North Carolina or Wake Forest, it would have given them the opportunity to put the MAC on the national radar. I’ve said this before, but a loss to a top BCS team is better than a win over Northeastern. Bowl games are a reward for everyone, it’s a great opportunity for the fans to see their team play someone they wouldn’t have the opportunity to play otherwise. The players really benefit from the extra practice time and the opportunity to end the season on a positive note (Utah, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, LSU, etc). While the number of games might be getting higher, it isn’t upsetting the balance of what we know to be as college football like a playoff would.

5. Delaware has just legalized sports gaming. Give our readers some bets to make for next year should they find themselves traveling through the First State.
Alan: If you’re looking for easy money, bet on either Oklahoma, Florida, or Texas winning the national title. The payouts will be shit, but you can at least cash a winner. For long shot title hopefuls, look to the power conferences whose champion, by design, will likely have a place at the national championship table. So look to the SEC or the Big 12. Outside shots in the SEC? LSU, Ole Miss, or Alabama. In the Big 12? Oklahoma State. And as much as I hate to say it, betting a few bucks on Notre Dame to win might not be a bad idea. There… you’re welcome.

Edge: Imagine being magically whisked away to… Delaware. Hi. I’m in… Delaware. Bet on Florida next year. Anything else is up for grabs. But always put a couple bucks on the longshot in the Derby. Ya never know.

RV: 9/19 – USC vs Washington – With a healthy Jake Locker, expect Sark to figure out a way to give Petey his yearly let down. Put some money on Ole Miss, it’ll be an interesting year in the SEC and they were playing out of their minds near the end of the year and have a lot coming back. Beyond that, let’s get through fall practice and things will begin to clear up.

Have at it, dear readers. Comment Section. Go…

Offseason Roundtable #6

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every other week or so? Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) Give me a number. Right now… the wins BSU has next year, and to whom.
Alan: I’ll go 10-2 with losses to Western Michigan and Auburn. I think the Cards will win the MAC West. Again. I think there will be challenges of unbelievable caliber like Northern Illinois, but I think this team will surprise some people.

Edge: Two of our strongest areas last year were obviously passing and our o-line. And we’ve now lost a huge portion of this. The more I think about this coming season, I get a little more cautious on a repeat of 2008. I’ll predict a conservative 8-4 this year with losses at Auburn and our last three conference games in November. Prove me wrong boys!

RV: 8 Wins. Losses to Auburn, BGSU, NIU and Western. You asked for no explanation, so you get none.

2.) One of the biggest question marks coming into the 09 season is the play of the offensive line. Buy or sell that skill group as the most important position on the field for the Cardinals as the year opens?
Alan: I’m buying that. A good offensive line can hide a lot of other problems. Mediocre QB play and/or running back play can be successful and productive given the hogmollies up front playing their large rotund rears off. With solid OLine play, MiQuale gets yards, it takes pressure off Page, and gives the offense a chance to succeed.

Edge: Again, our o-line was stellar last year, and this is going to be one of those make-or-break areas of our game. I’m buying that these guys are the most important for 2009, especially with an unseasoned QB at the helm.

RV: Sell. Every position on the field is important, if the OL is solid but the QB play suffers from inconsistency it doesn’t matter how clean his jersey is. Just like great routes from a WR + a threatening running game + good timing & release from a QB = better OL play. There’s too many cogs in this machine that are uncertain to put it all on the OL.

3.) The Academic Progress Report was published this week, and several schools, most notably Minnesota, is losing some scholarships for failure to succeed in the classroom. Should teams be penalized for not graduating their players? Or did student-athletes really stop being students years ago?
Alan: See, here’s where I struggle. There’s the should be and the reality. Grades should be important. Athletes should be in class every week. Coaches should be held to a higher standard. The bottom line is that in reality, none of that matters. Unless we’re talking egregious violations and/or academic fraud, no one really cares. It’s a byproduct of a societal norm that says athletes are big dumb animals who can’t really do any better. I’ve seen the opposite ends of this spectrum throughout my own career in education, and I can tell you that most athletes are great kids.

Edge: Double-edged sword. As a scholar, yes, the education is important. But I’d agree that that adage went out the window long ago. I can only imagine the percentage of players that are there just for the sport. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, as long as they take some advantage of the opportunity for higher education. Some of these guys go on to the next level, but most don’t. There’s nothing after college for these guys, so that degree becomes pretty important. I don’t see a penalty system being needed, but I think a 30-40% graduation rate should raise some red flags with the NCAA.

RV: Just because they stopped becoming student athletes at many schools doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for providing an education. These kids are getting 40-100k worth of scholarship money that should be used towards an education, if they aren’t going to use it than kids who work hard are more deserving. Personally, I think they should be penalized more but I also hold a higher standard of education for college students than most.

4.) The story dominating the blogosphere right now is Tennessee’s recruit Daniel Hood, who was convicted of assisting in the rape of a woman as a juvenile, has been offered and accepted a scholarship to UT. Buy or sell Tennessee taking a chance on a kid? Or is this another example of filling a needed position no matter what sort of thuggery it takes?
Alan: Do I buy a second chance for Hood? Maybe. I can’t say for sure. Everything I would think or say has to be tempered with the fact that this case and its results would have never come to light were it not for attorney error and the record becoming public knowledge. So sure, I guess the kid deserves a shot. But at Tennessee? With this coach? At this given point in time? It’s poor form at best and shady as can be at worst. This cannot be the sort of attention that UT fans are wanting right now.

Edge: I guess this conviction is a little worse than a DUI or theft… if I were the freshman ladies, I’d take heed at Tennessee. Nah, I’m not profiling, come on. In all seriousness, this is a borderline bad decision. Like I said, a mistake with a DUI is one thing, but rape? I’m not sure about this. Again, I don’t know the kid, I have no idea about the situation other than the headlines, but I can bet this won’t be the last time his name is brought up in the news. Plus, it’s kinda creepy (assisting in a rape… what the hell?)… and how about Kiffin having to hear about these questions from reporters. I’ve made up my mind: bad decision.

RV: Thuggery is difficult to pin on this kid. He was young, made a horrible mistake and is owning up to it like a man. He’s done everything he should to deserve a second chance and while I can agree with the argument that he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to screw up again, I have faith in humanity. What I don’t agree with is Lane taking a chance on a kid. He’s already been torched by a number of decisions he has made, why continue it? No need to push the envelope any more, because if this kid makes a minute mistake Lane should be burned at the stake. Literally.

5.) The Coach In Waiting thing seems to be sweeping the nation. Who would you want as the CIW for the Cardinals?
Alan: Eddie Faulkner. Young, motivated, offensive. Seems like a good fit for the community, fans, and program. And being an up and coming African American isn’t a bad thing for the school who is still trying to remove the Ronnie Thompson stink off the athletic department.

Edge: Manny Ramirez. He’s available now if something should happen to Papa Stan.

RV: I hate the coaches in waiting thing. It’s just a stupid marketing ploy that can do nothing but backfire. Jimbo Fisher might end up being granted $5 mil because FSU can’t get rid of Bowden, how is that a positive move by the administration? Just let things take their course, if it’s a coach on staff that will take over at the end of the year, fine, but don’t pull the crap that teams are pulling with indefinite periods of time. Bad news bears for all involved. But I’d have to go with Graber, I like his experience and given the opportunity to stick around somewhere he might be successful to a higher level than before.

What say you, dear reader? Comment section…

Offseason Roundtable #5

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every other week or so? Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) Nate to the 49ers, Brewster to the Cowboys, and free agent potential for guys like Gerberry, D. Hill, and Andre Ramsey. How happy are you with the draft? Who makes a significant contribution next season in the NFL?
Alan: I’m happy in the sense that Ball State even got a mention. It’s a good next step on our path to relevancy, and I’m sure it didn’t hurt recruiting when we land players on NFL rosters and have two go in the first 5 rounds. As far as impact, I’m hopeful neither will be relied on heavily, as the transition from the MAC to the NFL I would imagine is pretty heavy.

Edge: I think it’s great for Ball State to have so many names either on the board or in free agency talks. As for success next year, I don’t see anyone getting any PT until at least the 2010-11 season. None of these guys appear to be NFL-ready, but stranger things have happened. Who would have thought Tom Brady would be at the level he’s at today after his tenure at Michigan?

RV: Let’s hope that none of them see the field this year, unless Nate gets some garbage time for the 49ers on their way to another NFC Championship. Wait…Joe Montana’s gone? Well…I’d expect Brewster to make a contribution to the Cowboys, just not on Sundays. He’ll push the other OL and be a great attribute in practice. Nate might edge his way up to 2nd team if Alex Smith continues to his downward spiral in San Fran.

2.) BSU’s reported loss on the Bowl Game was $142,000. Money well spent?
Alan: Absolutely. Most programs lose money on their bowls, so this wasn’t entirely out of the blue. It wasn’t a complete disaster, and it was a loss with an eye toward financial responsibility, no matter what .edu would say.

Edge: After the fact? Meh… we got beat pretty bad. I took a lot of shit from colleagues in Oklahoma for that one. So, personally, it wasn’t really worth it. For the team, I think so. Not only did the increase in TV exposure help us as the fall progressed, we got more national coverage in the GMAC. I can’t remember the last year I was able to watch so much BSU football on TV. It’s great for recruiting and great for publicity, so I’d say that was a justifiable investment.

RV: No. Not only did they lose 142k, but they also were embarrassed on the field. Bowl games can be great motivational factors for the upcoming season and Stan didn’t have his team ready to go. Chalk this up as a loss all the way around, but they weren’t about to decline a bowl bid.

3.) Kellen Lewis was removed from the IU football team just days ago. Who’s ultimately to blame for the Lewis fiasco? Buy or sell Lewis ever redeeming himself? Should the powers that be have ever let him come back in the first place when this became an issue in the past?
Alan:The thing to remember is that college athletes are college kids first and foremost, and college kids break rules occasionally. What’s troubling is that this appears to be a pattern. Kudos to Lynch for giving the kid another chance, and kudos to Lynch for promptly booting his ass off the team when he screwed it up. Yet another example of Lynch being a remarkable man, albeit a mediocre coach. Lewis has to hope to slide in somewhere at a DII program since he can’t transfer (no more eligibility) and just wow people. Odds are small.

Edge: Sell! This thing is in Chapter 11. He’s done. And he’s got no one to blame for himself. I’m hearing that this is Lewis’s 5th or 6th positive drug test. So, this hasn’t been an issue. This has been a repeated issue, not to mention his disregard for arriving to team meetings and workouts on time. Lynch did the right thing because this sends positive messages across the board. No player should be untouchable. But the tradeoff? There will be literally no IU offense. I predict a very rough year, but the right decision was made.

RV: Kellen Lewis is to blame for Kellen Lewis. The IU administration is to blame for not reeling him in after he was obviously on his way to ruining his young life. Sell. No way he gets another chance, even if he does play somewhere else, the opportunity he had at IU is better than anything he’ll find elsewhere. As I mentioned earlier, the administration should’ve put the kibosh on this nonsense when he was screwing things up earlier. If he’s going to be a liability to himself and your program, you need to cut ties and show him the door.

4.) In the baseball world, there’s new allegations of steroid use by Alex Rodriguez and just general douchiness on his behalf. How tarnished is A-Rod’s legacy, and is it something he could ever hope to get back?
Alan: As a Yankee fan, I never liked ARod. I tolerated him because he won games and hit dingers. But he was never a Yankee. Never will be. Never could hope to be. He’s a fraud when it comes to heart and hustle, and this is just another example of him defrauding the fans and organizations he’s played for. The guy is a complete and utter joke. However, I will say that a large majority of Yankee fans would be willing to forgive and forget if he wins them a title. I will not be one of those people.

Edge: Who’s got an hour to listen to me rant? First, Alex, I’d like you to meet the other members of your exclusive club: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds. Maybe with their money they could start up their own Hall of Fame… Look, this is a bad issue all around. He’s been touted as the greatest baseball player of all time up to this point. But there was minimal shock when we heard he was confessing to using HGH from 2001-03. Now, reports are out he’s been on the juice since high school, he may have been on HGH well after he joined the Evil Empire, he’s accused of pitch-tipping, and he’s insecure – and he’s a horrible tipper at Hooters. Do I believe all of this? I have no reason not to. Know what’s even worse? Jose Canseco was right… by God, Jose Canseco was right.

What does this mean? Well, no more Hall talk. There’s no way we can have a guy like that in the Hall and not let in Pete Rose. This also sends a horrible message to the young high school players out there. I’ve seen enough Outside the Lines to know that kids will emulate their heroes. Alex let down all those who look up to him. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’ll still be able to sleep at night and still wake up and drink his liquid $100 bills for sustenance and take his showers in liquid gold. I know baseball hasn’t always been clean and pure. But this whole fiasco is a big black eye, and I hope Alex realizes this. By the way, I’d love to read all about this, but Selena Roberts is a hack. I hope we can get a reader review from someone out there once this book is released who can stomach this “writer”.

RV: Poor A-Rod. Wipe away your tears in $100,000 bills. Who gives a fuck? Baseball fans don’t seem to care that some of their biggest records of all time have been smashed by ‘roided up baseball players, why would A-Rod be any different? Baseball is a game of asterisks nowadays, and I don’t see this being any different. Some people will care, some people won’t, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t effect him at all.

5.) As you look to next year’s Cardinal football team, who has the potential of hearing their name called in the 2010 NFL Draft?
Alan: The NFL will always have a place for quick guys who like contact, know how to find the endzone, and are shifty. Mr. Lewis… your table is ready.

Edge: This is a rough one… I’m leaning towards none, but for the sake of this question, I think the only three that may see their names called would be Myles Trempe, MiQuale Lewis, and Medaris Grant. There are a lot – a lot – of obstacles to overcome for each of them, but if there is a chance for a Cardinal to be drafted, I think it would be these three.

RV: OurQuale has the best chance. Looking at the rest of the roster, we need to see some guys step up and have some gigantic seasons to get themselves into the second day and out of UDFA range. Lewis needs to have another top flight season of production and prove he can pass block on a regular basis. If he can do that, the sky is the limit to his draft status.

What say you, dear reader? Comment section.

Offseason Roundtable #4

In an effort to not only increase our chatter about the Cards, but to also increase some reader participation, Edge, RV, and Alan will be doing these roundtables every other week or so? Love the answers? Want to post your own thoughts? Of course you do. And you can do so in the Comments section. Because remember, dear readers, a smarmy sarcastic blog about Ball State athletics is only as good as its small yet powerful reader base. Have at it, boys and girls…

1.) The big news this week is that Greg Paulus, Duke’s former point guard, is looking to enroll at Syracuse this fall and play QB for the Orange. Buy or sell this being a successful move for Paulus or Syracuse?
Edge:Yawn. Anyone else tired of this? Look, I’ve said it before: it makes for good a good story if this works out for him. But other than that, it’s getting annoying. Ok, he’s not big enough, he’s had 4 years off, and he’s got one year of eligibility. As far as Syracuse, it’s probably a better fit than Michigan. I know fans in Ann Arbor who are nauseated with this whole scenario. But I can imagine Syracuse fans are in the “hell, why not” mode. Let’s say, for the sake of putting this story to bed, I’ll say it’s a buy for Syracuse and a push for Paulus.

RV: I’m not sure how that is big news. All I know is that Paulus has already said he was going to compete for the starting job at Michigan. So…evidently he has no clue what the hell he is going to do, how can we expect him to do anything at Syracuse? That’s a sell for all parties involved. Move on to bigger and better things or stop trying to create headlines. Nonstory.

Alan: Well, let’s see… for Paulus, he’s out of options. He doesn’t have NBA potential, he isn’t going to play in the NFL, and his only hope is to take the Wojo route and be an assistant coach for Coach K. And let’s not kid ourselves, Paulus was an outstanding high school QB, and Syracuse sucks. It gives the Orange and new coach Doug Marrone some publicity and press. So really, this is sort of a marriage of convenience and desperation rather than love, but I buy it. For both.

2.) Much was made about the assistant coach shake ups that occurred in the transition from Brady Hoke to Stan Parrish. Who are you most excited to have as a new member of the Cardinal family?
Edge: Joey Lynch. Yep. Joey Lynch. You didn’t forget we hired him, did you?

RV: Joey Lynch. Anytime we can have someone who understands the pressures that come with being a successful Ball State Cardinal…well, that’s a plus in my book. But seriously…I prefer young, former players to really build up a specific unit. Let’s hope this Lynch is nothing like THAT Lynch.

Alan: Joey Lynch? Really?! Are you kidding me? The correct answer is Daryl Dixon, if not because he has an exceptionally talented secondary to work with, but because the guy is a young up and coming coach. Dixon went to Florida, coached with the Zookster at Illinois, and knows what it’s like to win championships. And he’s probably fast because he’s from the SEC!!

3.) Who of the incoming recruits are you most looking forward to seeing play in Cardinal and White next fall?
Edge: Uh, how about Matthew Page, the dude selected to play for USA Football’s 2009 Junior National Team? Granted, he probably won’t play much, but he’s a real talent. I’m extremely excited to see how he develops. Plus his picture looks like he’d come right out of it and bust your ass. Gotta love that.

RV: Matthew Page. First off, he’s patriotic. I can’t even begin to describe the things he’s done to bring down the Taliban. Second off, he’s gigantic and after playing for America I feel that he’ll personally take on all teams from Michigan…you know, because Michigan is a Canadian province. Right?

Alan: Well let’s all take a small step back and refrain from messing our pants over Mr. Page before he even gets on campus. Seth White will be the heir apparent to one Dante Love, as he fills the role of slightly undersized athletic as hell kid that can make plays all over the field. Incidentally though, I also agree that Matthew Page looks like he drank an entire Big Gulp of whoop ass.

4.) BSU plays two fairly weak openers in North Texas and New Hampshire, before Army and Auburn, both on the road. Thoughts on the Cardinals schedule early? Productive? Waste of time?
Edge: Not overly productive, but not a waste of time. Warm-up gigs all around. It’s like seeing a band the first few shows of a tour. Takes a while to knock the rust off and take advantage of some solid chemistry. Plus they’re early home games, so it’ll be (hopefully) great weather. And what gets you going more than a couple W’s heading into Army and Auburn? They won’t be too hard to win, but a) it’s football, and b) it’s Ball State football!

RV: Waste of time. Playing teams like North Texas and New Hampshire does nothing to prepare the team except let them know they can beat shitty teams. Auburn is a great game to have on the schedule because it provides opportunity. If Ball State had a major team on their schedule last year outside of MAC play, they would’ve been even more hyped and Nate would’ve had even MORE fumbles.

Alan: It sounds elitist and arrogant, but frankly, I approach games like this sort of the same way Steve Spurrier did… “Give ’em a check, and save ’em the trip”. The possibility of injury, or worse, a loss, is just too great to even risk. Having said that, this offense will need some time to gel. That’s what these little warm up games are for. So in the words of Mitch Hedberg, “I’m for ’em!”

5.) You are given the green light to cast a feature film about the Cardinals last season. Whom do you cast for which key roles?
Edge: Tough to say… what kind of movie? Is it drama? Comedy? Or horror? In any case, to take the easy way out, I’d probably cast a bunch of unknowns. Not only does it get me off the hook from this question, but I could save some serious cash. Then who’s complaining when I’m buying the rounds at Scotty’s? Huh? Huh?? Just find the cast of The Program and see if Mike Golic wants to be Hoke. Game, set, match, catch ya on the flip-flop.

RV: Nate Davis – Insert actor who played someone who can’t read. MiQuale Lewis – Bobb’e J. Thompson. Dante Love – Wood Harris. Brady Hoke – Benedict Arnold.

Alan: Luckily for me, I’m going last in this little convo and also have the luxury of publishing the post whenever I’m ready. So I get to add fancy pictures, but I want to recognize a great pick up by Edge for Brady Hoke. Off we go with Alan’s choices for central casting…

For Brady Hoke… Jeff Garlin

For Nate Davis… Chris Brown

For MiQuale Lewis… Eddie Griffin

For Jason Whitlock… Jabba the Hut

For JoAnn Gora… Skeletor

Have at it, dear readers, in the comment section.