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):


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.

Yet another reason why big-time college football in its current form is unsustainable


After Tennessee fired its coach last week, the university’s chancellor said the athletic department would forgo $18 million in contributions it was to make to the university over the next three years for academic scholarships and fellowship programs. Instead, some of the money will be used to pay the severance packages of the coach, Derek Dooley, who is owed $5 million, and his staff, which is owed a reported $4 million if it is not retained. Dooley had four years remaining on his contract.

The best bit on the Auburn firing so far

Precisely nobody saw Chizik’s firing yesterday as a surprise. He won zero conference games this year, and it doesn’t look like the program is done crashing. Savvy folks saw this collapse coming a mile away — in fact, before Gene got to the Plains. His entire head coaching resume was a couple years at Iowa State, where he went 3-9 in his first year and 2-10 in his second. How this convinced the Auburn AD to give him the keys to their program I’ll never know. He did manage to win a little — 8-5 his first year, then the perfect season obviously on the strength of Newton, and then 8-5 again last year — but as the Tuberville-era players ran out, so did his luck.

CBS Sports nails it, taking the position that nobody in their right mind would want the Auburn job. My favorite bit:

Sharing a conference with Nick Saban is like sharing a steak with a lion. Only one of you wins that battle. And it’s not you.

Today in math-hating news OUTSIDE politics

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has had just about enough outta you quants:

Fisher said voters — and computers — put too much emphasis on style of wins and strength of schedule, however, and said the eye test is a fairer way to evaluate Florida State’s actual ability.

LOL. Never mind on-field performance! It’s gut feelings that matter!

Sigh. Go find a seat next to Turd Blossom, Jimbo.

Once less giant

Longtime University of Texas Darrell Royal passed away yesterday. He was 88.

Royal took over as head coach at Texas at age 32 in 1956 after starring as a halfback for Oklahoma and then taking head coaching jobs at Mississippi State and Washington.

In 23 years as a head coach, he never had a losing season, with his teams boasting a 167-47-5 record in his 20 years at Texas, the best record in the nation over that period (1957-76).

Royal won 11 Southwest Conference titles, 10 Cotton Bowl championships and national championships in 1963 and 1969, going 11-0 each time. Texas also won a share of the national title in 1970 when it was awarded the UPI (coaches) national championship before losing to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. The UPI awarded its title before bowl games were played. Nebraska won the AP national title that year.

The national title season in 1969 included what was dubbed the “Game of the Century,” a come-from-behind 15-14 victory by the top-ranked Longhorns over No. 2 Arkansas in the final game of the regular season.

It’s not an exaggeration to say he was Texas’ Bear — they even named the stadium after him.

Via Edgar, some great Royals quotes you probably don’t know came from him; here’s a couple I like:

  • “Give me an O.J. Simpson, and I’ll show you a coaching genius.”
  • “I don’t know. I never had one.” Answer to Mack Brown, then coach at North Carolina, when Brown asked Royal how he handled a losing season
  • “He’s so rich he could burn a wet elephant.”
  • “Three things can happen when you pass, and two of ’em are bad.”

Sorry to be late with this. I’ve only just recovered.


Of note: It’s only since they hired a guy named Saban in 2000 that LSU has had any sustained success against Alabama. Saban and Miles have made LSU a power in a way they really never, ever were before — before then, the best they’d ever done was win two in a row vs. us (and that only 4 times since 1895).

The record on that link doesn’t really even tell the whole story of Alabama’s dominance in the sixties and seventies — during the streak of 11 wins over LSU, the Tide was also beating Tennessee every year, and lost to Auburn only once. The only other losses were singletons to Ole Miss, Georgia, and Mississippi State — one each, in 11 years.

As a friend of mine said, there’s a very good reason Bear is legendary.

That’s what made the early 21st century so huge for the Tigers. I imagine they’re as happy about their record vs. Alabama since 2000 as they are about their championships — they bagged 9 of the last 14, including 5 in a row (2003-2007) and 7 of the first 8.

BTW, there’s something you don’t often see in that video, especially outside the end of national title games: Saban smiled.

I should also point out that there are times when I think Rammer Jammer is cruel and unsportsmanlike. This is not one of those times. In DEATH VALLEY, even. Deal with it.

Hey, Will?

I don’t want to overstep my bounds or anything, but I just want you to know that…

Muschamp rage

…there are plenty of decaffeinated brands that taste as good as the real thing.

Things we noticed about football today


In reviewing the upcoming conference slate, we realized that Ole Miss could win its second conference game in a row for the first time since 2009.

Six is a magic number

Auburn has lost six games in the last seven weeks; Alabama has lost six games since December of 2007 (UF on 12/6/08; Utah on 1/2/09; USCa on 10/9/10; LSU on 11/6/10; Auburn on 11/26/10; LSU on 11/5/12).

Notwithstanding our success so far, traps are traps

Mississippi State is undefeated so far this year, but their schedule was frontloaded with softies both in (Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee) and out (Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee) of the SEC. Tellingly, even with that early slate, they’ve given up 2 or more touchdowns three times already.


Right, so, a few notes from yesterday:

  1. I really, really thought the Longhorns would give Oklahoma more of a run for their money than this. Good Christ, what a whoopin’.

  2. Welcome to the SEC, bitches. Mizzou drops to 3-4, and remains winless in SEC play. Miss the Big 12 yet, boys?

  3. Also winless in conference? Auburn, who dropped to Ole Miss. The Rebels’ last SEC victory was in 2010. This was a game where I really kinda wanted both to lose — Rebel losses make all the right people sad in my home state, though with a little collateral damage — but I’m more than happy with this outcome. The AU boosters treated a perfectly good coach poorly, and while Chiz did get them a crystal football, it’s coming with a mighty big hangover. And that hangover is only gonna get bigger, because Chiz negotiated one hell of a buyout clause so they can’t afford to fire him yet.

  4. Speaking of that perfectly good coach, it turns out West Virginia is exactly who we thought they were when they needed 70 points to outrun powerhouse BAYLOR a week or two ago. Tuberville’s Texas Tech smacked ’em good (49 to 14, in public and in front of their mamas), and now we all know how tough the Big 12 isn’t.

  5. C’mon, Steve, can’t you do one thing right here? Now the sports press is all about how LSU is “back,” but brother, that didn’t look like “back” to me. Miles continues to win ugly, and it seems to me that Saban is likely to come to Death Valley loaded for bear.

  6. Oh, A&M, you really did try to lose this one, didn’t you? 59 to 57 is an embarrassing win when you’re playing out of conference, Aggs.

  7. Stat of the day: Big-time games saw not one but TWO defensive two point conversions. First Texas blocked a PAT attempt by Oklahoma and ran it back for two, and then the Aggies did the same thing vs. Louisiana Tech. This will be a trivia answer someday.

  8. Finally, fuck you, Irish.

At the end of the day, here’s the new top ten:

  1. Alabama (unanimous)
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida (now sitting pretty as the only undefeated team in the SEC east)
  4. K State
  5. Irish
  6. LSU (highest 1-loss team)
  7. Ohio State (irrelevant due to sanctions)
  8. Oregon State
  9. South Carolina
  10. Oklahoma

Florida and South Carolina play next week. Oklahoma plays the Irish in two weeks, but has already lost to K State. Oregon and Oregon State will obviously play in the Civil War game (11/24).

And Alabama? We play LSU on November 3.

Snapshot: Five Years Ago

Alabama Gaga Over Overrated Saban” is completely hilarious in retrospect.

Some bits:

The citizens of Alabama never have been rational when it comes to college football, but the state has gone absolutely Lindsey Lohan over the arrival of Saban from his forgettable stint with the Miami Dolphins. How else to explain an overflow crowd of more than 92,000 showing up for the Crimson Tide’s spring game this year? Even by Alabama standards, that’s nuts.

The Crimson Tide went 6-7 last season and has not won a national championship in 15 years. Yet a number of Alabama fans truly expect Saban to have a 10-victory team this season and be in the BCS title game within three years. And those are the rational fans.

There is no need for Tide fans to roll out the red carpet for Saban, because in their mind, he walks several feet off the ground anyway. Upon his initial arrival in Tuscaloosa, one exuberant woman at the airport grabbed Saban around the neck and kissed his cheek. Children are being told stories about the wonderful Saint Nick that have nothing to do with Christmas.


The question is, why are Alabama fans so enamored with Saban? He is certainly a very good coach, with a national championship ring to prove it. Tuberville can’t say the same (although he did lead Auburn to a perfect 13-0 record in 2004).

But Saban’s arrival is being treated in these parts like the second-coming of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Or at least Gene Stallings. You would think from the reaction that Alabama had landed one of the two or three best college coaches in the nation, a perception that simply is not backed up by the numbers.


The fact is, Saban has won more than nine games in a season only twice. His record during his first four seasons at Michigan State was 25-22-1. He went 8-5 during his third season at LSU. It is hard to imagine Alabama fans who are thinking national championship by year No. 3 being happy with 8-5.


Yes, Saban has won a national championship, but a number of coaches have a single title to their credit. Winning multiple championships is a rarity, especially these days. Despite his years of national success while at Florida, Spurrier managed only one title. Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley and John Robinson are among the coaching greats who were one-and-done when it came to national championships. The legendary Bo Schembechler never won a title, and Frank Beamer is still without one.

Since the beginning of the BCS in 1998, the only coaches to pick up a second championship are Bobby Bowden (who won his first in 1993) and Carroll (who shared the title with Saban’s LSU team in 2003 and then won it outright in 2004).

What this means is if Saban ends up with multiple championship rings, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. And to this point, there is nothing in his record to indicate that he will reach such lofty heights.

Not to be a dick, but it does seem worthwhile to point out that while Saban’s Tide did start a little slow in his first season (2007, when they went a disappointing 7-6), by 2008 he was on fire (12-2, and the team’s first number one regular season ranking since 1980).

In 2009 — the “year No. 3” referenced by the author above — he delivered. 2010 was a bit of an off year (10-3, ending with a smackdown of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl), but he returned to form in last year with another title.

So there’s that.

Two more bits on Kluwe and the Vikings

So, yeah, it turns out this guy is a little odd by NFL standards — giant fantasy gamer, essentially disinterested in football beyond his niche (which he apparently does very well), and possessed of a genuinely quick and well-educated mind. In other words, he’s a huge nerd. That makes this even MORE awesome.

Also, if the first version of the letter offended your delicate sensibilities, well, he’s gone and posted a clean version as well.

Oh, and there’s a great MeFi thread on the whole thing, too. So that’s AN ENTIRE EXTRA BIT at no extra charge. See how good I am to you?

I think Heathen may have just become Vikings fans

The context for this is right: Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke out recently in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative legalizing gay marriage. In response, wingnut jackass Emmett Burns — a Maryland state delegate! — [wrote a letter to the Ravens owner( asking that he “inhibit such expressions from your employee.”

So much WAT, amirite?

Anyway, Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe noticed, and dropped a righteous and mighty smackdown on state delegate Burns in response. It’s a thing of brutal and effective beauty, and you should go read the whole thing.

By way of followup, Kluwe provided some context for his remarks after the fact.

No comfort for the Wolverine

Hey Michigan….

Yeah, that went about as well as could be expected for Hoke’s squad. Vastly overranked at 8, they got chewed up and spat out by a reloaded Alabama team that, under Saban, is producing NFL players at a terrifying clip.

Even overrated, this was about what we expected from any Big 10 – Alabama matchup. Recall what the 9-3 2010 Alabama team did to Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, which remains the only time I’ve ever seen a team forced to punt on 4th and goal.

Also as expected, Alabama snags the top spot in the polls, leapfrogging even sportswriter fave USC in the process; the Trojans don’t play quality until November (Oregon on the 3rd).

LSU will drop again before they rise, since they’ve opted to open against creampuffs (and even their SEC schedule starts soft, with Auburn on the 22nd; they don’t play a quality team until Florida in October).

Rightly or wrongly, Michigan counts as a quality win, and those are in short supply early in the year (even if, after the rout, they’ve been dropped to #19).

The new top 10:

  1. Alabama
  2. USC
  3. LSU
  4. Oregon
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Florida State
  7. Georgia
  8. Arkansas
  9. South Carolina / West Virginia (tie)

FSU is way overrated. I’m shocked that South Carolina is still in the top ten, too, given their shaky performance over the weekend — the Gamecocks only barely escaped Vanderbilt.

Bama should cruise over Western Kentucky next weekend without trouble, but meets Arkansas the week after in the first (or second?) real test of the season.

Roll Tide, and pass the whiskey.