The Lanterne Rouge

The Times has a cool, short bit up about Ji Cheng, currently in last place (“the Lanterne Rouge”) in the 2014 Tour de France, and the first Chinese rider to ever compete therein.

I must note that his position in the race’s General Classification is also irrelevant; races like the Tour are complicated team events with multiple “classifications” beyond the notion of a simple “first guy to Paris” prize, and these other competitions are sometimes a team’s primary focus.

Ji’s team, Giant-Shimano, isn’t really contending for the big win, but are absolutely in the running in the points classification. Ji’s role is to set things up for his sprinter, Marcel Kittel, who is currently 4th in points. Kittel has also won 3 stages, including the first one, which put Kittel in yellow for a day — something that doesn’t happen often for sprinters. That doesn’t happen without a solid team behind him, including the so-called Lanterne Rouge.

Fuck the Cup

The World Cup begins shortly, but I’ve got no plans to give it any time whatsoever. I watched a bit last time around, and it was enough to give me the idea — since reinforced — that big-time soccer is an enormously corrupt institution (example: when an in-stadium replay showed a ref had badly erred, the official response was to discontinue in-stadium replay). But that’s really just the tip of the shit iceberg where FIFA is concerned.

John Oliver has more, and you should watch it. Oliver, tragically, is British, and therefore unable to see soccer for what it is (a sport apparently invented to make baseball look exciting), so he’s planning to watch anyway. Not so us.

This is awesome

The NLRB has said that athletes at Northwestern can form a union, which is likely the beginning of the end for big-time college sports.

Even if this decision doesn’t stand, this is the beginning of the end. The whole system of college sports is going to have to change or collapse. The problem is that, in their shortsightedness and their greed, the NCAA and the college presidents it represents almost have guaranteed that the process will be sudden and bloody. If they had worked with their athletes toward some sort of soft landing over the past 20 years, all of that might have been avoided. I always has reminded me of how Bill Veeck once warned his fellow baseball owners that the reserve clause was blatantly illegal and that it would one day fall and, if they were smart, they’d abandon it so that they could better control the fallout. If they didn’t, Veeck cautioned, then some judge would strike it down all at once and baseball would be thrown into chaos. The other owners ignored Veeck, and his scenario came to pass, and we were treated to 30 years of labor strife because of it.

The current system of college athletics is doomed. It is untenable, and now it’s under assault from too many directions. There’s the O’Bannon case in Los Angeles, and Jeff Kessler’s anti-trust suit against the NCAA, and now this. Somebody better seriously start thinking of negotiating the terms of the inevitable surrender.

Good.

Holy Crap.

Look. I don’t watch TV news. It’s been a dead letter for a long time. I sure don’t watch TV sports coverage — I’ve got little use for the nattering foolishness that usually qualifies as sports broadcasting, and find reading stories on ESPN completely fills what needs I have for information from that world.

So I skipped Dale Hansen’s commentary on Michael Sam until just now. That, gentle Heathen, was a mistake.

Dale Hansen is the sports anchor for Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA. It should without saying, then, that Hansen is an older, straight, white man (I checked; he’s 65). So what Hansen says about Michael Sam caught me a little flatfooted even though I knew, as you must by now as well, what his position was.

Go watch.

The Inevitable Super Bowl Math Post

Last night we got a (delicious) smackdown of a SuperBowl. Heathen Central didn’t have a normal dog in the fight, but ended up rooting for Seattle for two reasons:

  • The weird shameful racist reaction to Richard Sherman; and
  • The fact that Seattle has more Alabama players than Denver.

Add in a little bit of underdog-ism — Seattle’s never won the Super Bowl, but playing in one and winning is old hat to Peyton and the Broncos — and it’s good enough for us. (And enough to overcome a distaste for Pete Carroll.)

Turns out, a more smashmouth, old-school style of football — dare we call it “SEC”? — still works in the NFL, and that was nice to see. As they say, defense wins championships.

However, it made me wonder about the SuperBowl and margins of victory. I thought I remembered a time when the big game was almost always a blowout, but over time there’s no real clear trend. Most of the Super Bowls have been fairly close — 56% of them were won by two touchdowns or less. Increase the margin to three touchdowns, and you’re over 77%.

Actual blowouts — which we’ll define as four touchdowns or more — have actually been pretty rare: only 6, or about 13%. Yesterday’s was the first such victory in 20 years. They were (SB record in bold):

It’s clear where my sense of “blowouts are the norm” comes from, considering that 5 of the 6 blowouts happened when I was in high school and college and was paying attention as a quasi-adult for the first time. Overall, the game is usually close(ish), as the data shows.

Anyway, because I’m a dork, here’s a graph:

Screen Shot 2014 02 03 at 11 39 11 AM

Note: There are two 27-point victories since 1993: XXXV (Ravens 34, Giants 7) and XXXVII (Bucs 48, Raiders 21), which almost count — but even the most recent of those is 11 years ago. Since 2003, the margin of victory has only been as high as 14 once, and is only over 10 three times.

So very, very high

They’re released new footage of Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting freefall. Go and watch, but (as IO9 points out) be aware it gets pretty intense early on, during his spin.

It’s also interesting to watch the stats; he goes very, very fast initially, but loses speed almost as quickly as the air thickens up around him.

BEEFTANK

SBNation’s Jon Bois has been Breaking Madden this season, but the best experiment came early. I give you BEEFTANK:

Personal

Born in 1937. Parents were a rhinoceros, a Sherman oak, a wheelbarrow full of graphite, a ray of light that shone through the clouds, a fulfilled prophecy, a buried time capsule full of set-and-baited mouse traps, and a real big ol’ dude.

Was encouraged to play football at age 10, when he chanced upon a mannequin at the clothing store wearing a shirt with the words “FOOTBALL GAME” and a drawing of a football on the front. He talked to it for hours, and it never told him he was too round for this world or that he shouldn’t eat the plastic bologna rings.

Played college football at DeVry, where he studied poetry. He finished with a GPA of reddish-gray.

Dislikes taking the subway, not because of any particular phobia, but because whenever the car stops and nobody gets off, he feels terrible for the train operator.

Refers to liquids in plural, i.e., a glass of milk is “a glass of some milks.”

Mutter-sings.

(via MeFi.)

HOWTO: Tell the Russians What You Think Of Their Bigotry

The White House has announced that the President, First Lady, and the Vice President will not be attending opening ceremonies for the Sochi Olympics, citing “travel schedules.”

Right.

Instead, President Obama is sending a delegation that includes, as its highest ranking member, a former (not current) Cabinet official. For context, this is the first opening ceremonies since 2000 that did not include at least someone of Cabinet rank.

Also included are two very prominent retired atheletes.

Representing the “diversity that is the US” will be tennis great and (Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Famer) Billie Jean King and figure skating medalist Brian Boitano.

It should escape no one that this comes the same week Bill O’Reilly pronounced Putin “one of us” in re: his stance on homosexuality.

What if you never punted?

Coach Kevin Kelley of Little Rock’s Pulaski Academy can tell you. His team also almost always uses an onside kick, too.

Turns out, there’s a good reason to reconsider the automatic 4th down punt. And maybe the mechanics of kicksoffs, too. Kelley’s done very, very well with his unorthodox approach, and has some data backing him up.

(This reminds me of the New Yorker story about the girls’ basketball team that always did a full court press, which was (of course) written by Malcolm Gladwell. The girls’ success was ended not by spectacular tactics, but by a ref who decided he didn’t like the clearly legal approach, and started penalizing them; obviously, this isn’t happening to Kelley.)

Delightful Football Schadenfreude

Roll Bama Roll has their Tuesday meltdown post up, which includes delicious, delicious LSU tears, though this time around there’s a shocking amount of realism vs. magical thinking, e.g.

BAMA owns us….it is what it is….
as long as Saban is there they will continue to own us…

and

LSU makes mistakes in big games.
Bama doesn’t.They are better. Better players. Better coach. Better recruiters. Better program. it was fun while it lasted.

and

Well…being elite was nice while it lasted. Back to mediocrity.

and the delightful

We could not win a street fight against a mini-van full of nuns.

but my favorite also says volumes

[Alabama QB AJ] McCarron speaks so coherently. Wish we had that somewhere.

RTR.

How Good is AJ?

At no point, really, in Heathen Central’s life as an Alabama fan have we had the sort of lightning-in-a-bottle quarterback that people immediately call a star. There’s been no Johnny Football in crimson. Other SEC schools grabbed showy players like Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, but not us. We probably even envied Tennessee (sssssh!) for Peyton back in the day. But only a little; success at Alabama, when it comes, has always been much more of a team effort than is usually on offer at programs that build their teams around a star QB. No Alabama quarterback has really made a splash in the NFL since, arguably, Kenny Stabler, and even the Snake didn’t get drafted until the second round. (The lion’s share of them aren’t even notable enough for a Wikipedia article.)

It’s not really different now, except it sort of is: AJ McCarron, now in his final year, may well play for his third national title as Alabama’s quarterback this January (he was red shirted for the 2009 season, so he was “on” another title game, too). Nobody else has done that. Few are ever as reliable and error-free as AJ. A stat I’m sure opponents find alarming is that, when you review his career as a starter at Alabama, he’s got just as many championship rings as he has losses. Alabama is 30-2 since AJ took over at the beginning of the 2011 season, and they could very well run the table again this year.

But for some reason, folks keep dismissing his NFL prospects. Grantland takes a look, and finds the arguments wanting.

It’s that time again.

LET THE HATE BUILD:

(Incidentally, last year they found this guy. His name is Irvin Carney, and he moved to Cincinnati after graduation. Mr Carney, we should note, continues to hate Tennessee.)

The NFL is a goddamn racket

MeFi points us to this excellent piece at the Atlantic that points out all the completely indefensible sweetheart deals the NFL gets for, well, no good reason. Taxpayers fund the stadiums. They get an antitrust exemption. They get treated as a nonprofit. The list goes on, and it’s all a load of horseshit.

Let the owners run these teams as a business, subject to the normal rules of businesses, and have them sink or swim on that metric alone. Fuck new stadiums, fuck goofball broadcast deals, and fuck government handouts to millionaire owners. Forever.

Dept. of Heh.

So, during Alabama’s predicted beatdown of Kentucky on Saturday, ESPN went to draft analyst Todd McShay to talk about why Alabama’s AJ McCarron wasn’t likely to be a top draft prospect despite his BCS titles and other records.

During McShay’s bit, McCarron was, basically, doing pretty much all the things McShay said he couldn’t do in a 4 play, 80-yard drive down field that took only 1:50 off the clock. The drive:

  • Handoff to Yeldon for 12;
  • 21 yard pass to Yeldon;
  • 27 yard pass to Kent;
  • 20 yard pass to White for the TD.

So, yeah, whatever, McShay.

Dept. of Reaping What You Sow

We just want to point out that, after firing a perfectly good coach and then having a hot couple seasons with Fedora, Southern Miss has had a pretty rough time of it.

Heathen Faithful: “How rough is it?”

Glad you asked! The Golden Buzzards haven’t won a game this year. Sure, they scheduled a ranked Nebraska as well as Arkansas, but their most recent loss came at the hands of otherwise winless C-USA powerhouse Florida International.

No, I’m not making this up.

To find a Southern Miss win, in fact, you have to go back to their last bowl game.

Which was in December.

Of 2011. That’s right: the Eagles lost every contest in 2012.

That’s a long time in college football. I’m sure there ARE some players on the USM squad who played in that game, but given that accomplished Div-I teams are usually comprised of upperclassmen, it’s entirely reasonable to say that almost nobody on the team now knows what winning looks like, and an even smaller number were actually active contributors to a team with more wins than losses.

Bower, for his part, led the team to an unprecedented streak of winning seasons and bowl appearances before being shown the door at the end of the 2007 season because, apparently, that wasn’t good enough. I hate to pick on my hometown school, but I do indeed feel like this is a bed the trustees made for themselves, and I feel no sympathy whatsoever.

Up next for the Eagles: East Carolina (4-1, 2-0 C-USA), North Texas (2-3, 0-1), Marshall (3-2, 1-0), Louisiana Tech (2-4, 1-1), FAU (2-4, 1-3), Middle Tennessee (3-3, 1-1), and UAB (1-4, 0-1). You’d think they could pick up a W from one of these teams, but I sure wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s that time again: BRING THE HATE

Deadspin’s 2013 Hater’s Guide to the Top 25 is, as always, a thing of beauty. Some great moments are below, but go read the whole thing.

Ohio State (#2)

“Any time someone tells me he’s from Ohio and involved in football in some way, I double lock my car and put a cork in my asshole.”

Georgia (#5)

“This state has winning pro teams like the Falcons and Braves, and yet the people there choose to spend all their fan capital on a college team that can’t even win its own conference. Are you people fucking stupid? [...] Alabama fans are justifiably batshit crazy for the Tide because they win stuff. You win nothing. It makes no sense.”

Texas A&M (#7)

“Football Bieber. It’s not even close. Before Johnny Football arrived, A&M was just a boot camp for ugly people and aspiring arsonists. Now it’s home to a sniveling, whiny, alcoholic redneck brat who deserves to have his name dragged through the mud. Five years from now, Johnny Football will be run out of the NFL and will be pissing in buckets and spitting on roadies backstage at Keith Urban concerts.”

Louisville (#9)

“If the school were renamed The University of Phoenix II presented by ESPN as told to Papa John, it would be more accurate. Rooting for Louisville is like rooting for a marketing brief.”

Notre Dame (#14) (About which: Seriously? — Ed.)

“Everything. The single most hateable thing about Notre Dame is its inherent Notre Dame-ness: the arrogance, the false piousness, the halo the program has placed over itself. It’s all disgusting, which is why you deserved not only to get steamrolled by Eddie Lacy on national television, but to then have your empty-headed sweetheart linebacker publicly embarrassed for being stupid enough to fall in love with an imaginary pen pal. I wanna watch David Blaine street-magic videos with Manti Te’o, just to see him accuse Blaine of witchcraft.”

Michigan (#17)

“The reason 100,000 Michiganders go to those games is because they have nowhere else to go.”

USC (#24)

“And yet, in Lane Kiffin, they have found the perfect amalgam of arrogant lowlife: deluded, snooty, overprivileged, completely unqualified, transparently insincere, and destined for a bombastic personal downfall. If it came out that Lane Kiffin had an ex-girlfriend bound and thrown into the sea, would you doubt it for a second? Of course not. He goes the extra mile to be a miserable bag of shit.”

Who Is Nick Saban?

This GQ profile is paints a picture of Coach Saban that’s easy to read as accurate. A bit:

Saban fully admits that his father’s perfectionism informed the process, even if it took decades for him to codify it. Big Nick’s influence also has something to do with why, even after a big victory, Saban feels less joy than relief. Saban is reaching for a standard, so there are only two possibilities: Either you did what you were supposed to do, or you fell short. If you fell short, you go work harder and better to try to meet the standard next time. And if you met the standard, you go work doubly hard to fight off complacency—a fatal disease transmitted by pats on the back and post-game confetti—so you have a shot at meeting it again. The process, then, is never over. Wins are not ends but merely data points that help Saban assess the state of the process at a given moment.

Emphasis mine. That last sentence says volumes.

This is pretty funny

Grantland: The Further Adventures of Johnny Football.

It’s a bizarre phantasmagoric alt-future by way of @DadBoner:

Week 1: Home vs. Rice

The Thursday night before the game, Johnny Football shows up at the school pep rally with his good pal Six-Pack. Six-Pack’s well known around campus because he’s 300 pounds, nobody’s ever heard him talk, and he wears only ponchos. The students go nuts when they see Manziel, and start chanting his name until he takes the stage. Six-Pack comes with him, and when the crowd finally quiets down, Johnny Football grabs a trumpet from one of the band members and tells Six-Pack to play. “You’re all going to listen to him!” he screams at the crowd. “This is art!” The students go quiet, but Six-Pack has never played the trumpet before, and he just kind of blows into it randomly while Johnny Football does a swervy hip dance and shouts a song whose only words are “Where are my chiquitas at?” When it’s over, he disappears into the crowd and shows up for an 8 a.m. lecture the next day wearing a fake mustache and smelling like soil. Weird thing is, it’s not even his class.

It gets more gloriously weird. Via my attorney, naturally.

Who Is Johnny Football?

This ESPN Magazine profile takes a look at the weird fishbowl this guy lives in — and the pressures that come with it.

He’s not the second coming, but he IS an obviously talented player, and he’s gotten enormously famous very, very quickly. The article notes something pretty amazing: early last season, it was still possible for him to use a fake ID.

Saban’s Halo

It appears Saban’s gridiron success is resulting in a dramatic uptick in applications to UA, and the upshot is a LOT more out of state tuition revenue:

Since 2007, Tuscaloosa has swelled its undergraduate ranks by 33% to over 28,000 students. Faculty count has kept pace: up 400 since 2007 to over 1,700. But it’s more than growth — it’s where the growth is coming from. According to the school, less than a third of the 2007 freshman class of 4,538 students hailed from out of state. By the fall of 2012, more than half (52%) of a freshman class of 6,397 students did. Various data from US News and the New York Times shows that the school’s out-of-state tuition cost — nearly three times higher than the rate for in-state students — rose from $18,000 to $22,950 a year during that period.

Add it all up — more students from outside Alabama paying ever-increasing premium tuition bills — and the school realized $50 million more in out-of-state tuition revenue for last fall’s incoming class than it did for the same class in 2007 ($76 million vs. $26 million).

It’s not just money, either:

For the admissions office, more applications mean more selectivity. Six years ago, 64% of students applying to the University of Alabama were accepted. By 2012, the acceptance rate had dropped to 53%. About one in four students from the 2012 freshman class carried a 4.0 high school GPA. The class also includes 241 National Merit Scholars, more than any other public university in the U.S.

Roll Tide.

You know somewhere else Alabama whips Notre Dame?

In the “girlfriend” category.

On one hand, we have AJ McCarron’s no-shit beauty queen girlfriend Katherine Webb — famously so attractive as to get ESPN’s on-air talent in trouble, and gain over a 100,000 Twitter followers over the course of the game. As we will see, however, it’s not her pulchritude that wins the day here.

On the other hand, we have Manti Te’o's Stanford-grad companion. Lennay Kekua was famously and tragically struck down earlier this season by leukemia only days after he lost his grandmother, and the double loss became a key piece of his myth and narrative — and, indeed, of the “team of destiny” story increasingly told about the Irish this year, right up until last Monday night.

Te’o, unfortunately, loses this race by an even wider margin than the Heisman balloting, and not just because AJ’s gal is Miss Alabama. It’s not even that Kekua is dead. As it turns out, it appears she never existed at all. Pictures of her circulated in the media are of a completely unrelated woman who has never met Te’o, and is alive and well.

Manti Te’o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper.

Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there’s no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.

The photographs identified as Kekua—in online tributes and on TV news reports—are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua. She is not a Stanford graduate; she has not been in a severe car accident; and she does not have leukemia. And she has never met Manti Te’o.

Deadspin’s story on this is long, but the reporting seems pretty solid, and paints a picture where it’s very, very hard not to see Te’o as part of the hoax.

There is no comment as yet from Notre Dame, Te’o, or his family, but this story is bound to get more interesting.

This is beautiful

Over at RollBamaRoll, they’ve got some excerpts from a Notre Dame board during the game last week. It’s just delicious.

It starts with these three bits of hubris:

I have officially hit my breaking point on hearing about Alabama’s “superiority.” For 44 long days, I’ve put up with it. But watching every single ESPN talking head pick the Tide has finally pushed me over the edge. I want Notre Dame to come out and punch Alabama in the mouth – not just for us, but for every non-SEC team that’s been branded as “inferior” or “slower” or “less physical.” It’s time to end this damn streak, and it’s time for Notre Dame to sit atop the college world once again.

I think very few of us are really nervous. I know im not

still just can’t believe it, can’t believe this is the year, for those of us like me who haven’t been alive long enough to see the last ND championship, it’s been a long wait, yet after following this team all year, there is no doubt in my mind they win this game, no doubt.

Later, with the rout on, we get the best line:

Nick Saban with a month prep time would beat Batman

Oh, the sweet, sweet schadenfreude!

A week later, and a few bits

I didn’t think to look before, but this article points out something fantastic: in the most recent 8 years of Nick Saban’s college coaching career, he has won 4 national titles. When he plays, he bats .500. Not bad.

  • 2003: LSU (First title)
  • 2004: LSU
  • 2007: Alabama
  • 2008: Alabama
  • 2009: Alabama (Second title)
  • 2010: Alabama
  • 2011: Alabama (Third title)
  • 2012: Alabama (Fourth title)

The other fun stat: Saban has won 27% of all BCS National Championships (4 of 15).

The SEC, of course, has won 9 of 15, or 60%. (The Big XII has 2; the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-12 all have 1 each on the field.)

Our favorite thing, maybe

At halftime, ESPN’s sideline girl interviewed Irish coach Brian Kelly:

Her: “Where do the fixes need to come in the second half?”

Kelly: “Uh, maybe Alabama doesn’t come back in the second half.”

Saban beats you, in part, by making you quit. This is some quit, right there, and there was still 30 minutes of football to be played.

Sweet, sweet Irish tears

Roll Damn Tide. Best overheard line (from Reddit): “The Irish haven’t suffered like this since the potato famine.” A friend notes he saw another pithy line on Facebook: “They kept talking about Notre Dame having an SEC caliber defense. Unfortunately, it was Auburn’s.” ZING.

I’m just sorry we didn’t get the shutout. Best trivia-stat I’ve seen so far: AJ McCarron now has been on more championship teams (3, because he was a redshirt on the 2009 team that beat Texas) than he has losses as the starting QB (2: LSU last year, A&M this year).

Speaking of AJ, here’s his girlfriend and his mom (the girlfriend now has over 130,000 followers on Twitter after Musburger’s creepy comments):

379356341931

So, yeah, back to back titles. But 3 in 4 years just means Nick is still pissed off about the 2010 team missing the mark, and God love him for it.

This game is particularly delicious, because Notre Dame is one of only two teams with what I’d call a statistically meaningful winning record vs. Alabama (more than 5 games), and are two of only three teams who are “ahead” of us by more than a single game. I broke this down before season started, but it’s worth updating:

  • Texas: 1-7-1, last in 2009 title game (W)
  • Notre Dame: 2-5, last in 2013 title game (W)
  • Texas Christian: 2-3, last in 1975 (W)
  • Boston College: 3-1, last in 1984 (L)
  • Oklahoma: 1-2-1, last in 2003 (L)
  • Rice: 0-3, last in 1956 (L)
  • UCLA: 1-2, last in 2001 (L)

Rice, obviously, is the other team that’s more than a game ahead on the series, which is hilarious — and also not likely to ever change.

Note this is a shorter list than the August version: we evened up against Michigan and Missouri in routs during the regular season. Unfortunately, it’ll be at least another 2 years before we once again have a winning record vs. the entire SEC — we don’t play Missouri in 2013. (Also, I removed Louisiana Tech — on the field, Alabama is 3-2 vs. the Bulldogs, but the source I used in August reflected a sanction forfeit that flipped it to 2-3.)

So anyway, Roll Tide Roll, and see you in August.

One more thing: RAMMER JAMMER:

(As a footnote, let me add that this site is a pretty great research tool. No idea who put it together, though.)

Cotton Foolishness

It turns out Johnny Football is more fun to watch when he’s playing someone else; Leonard’s Loser is of course the freshly-routed Sooners, and we’re completely okay with that.

It does make us a little sad, though, to see that the Cotton Bowl game is no longer played in the actual Cotton Bowl; like most other big time football games in Dallas, it’s played at Cowboys Stadium over in Arlington (which, you’ll note, isn’t Dallas).

I actually noticed something interesting about StarHat Stadium at the beginning of the season, back when Alabama opened against Michigan there as a “neutral site” game. Jerryworld is much smaller than either college’s home facility — Michigan’s Big House has the largest seated capacity in the US at almost 110K; Bryant-Denny (#5) holds nearly 102K. A capacity crowd at the Cowboys’ home is a paltry 80K (#25), which made the game a particularly hot ticket. In fact, as I noted back then, Jerryworld isn’t even the biggest stadium in the Dallas area. The venerable, neglected Cotton Bowl seats 92,000.

This is a great one-point example of something that shocks folks who aren’t college gridiron fans: the biggest stadiums in the US are for college football. The largest pro field is the Giants/Jets home MetLife Stadium, which ranks 15th at about 83K; the top 14 are all for the college game, and the top 6 seat more than 100,000 people.

Anyway, the gist of this little trivia blurb is really just to tee up some snarking on bad journalism. This awful little bit over at Yahoo’s sports blogs talks a lot about how the Cotton Bowl Classic “outgrew” its original staidum home, and went on to “bigger and better” things, without once noting this very simple fact: its new home seats fewer people. Sure, parking’s probably better, and the facility itself is much nicer (the Cotton Bowl was built in 1930), but it sure as shit isn’t bigger than the Cotton Bowl itself.