Archive for November, 2008

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As I recover from my Turkey Day gorging (as well as possibly the worst offering of Thanksgiving Day football games in history, with all 3 NFL games and the Texas-Texas A&M tilt being blowouts), I’m feeling strangely good about the Bears this week.  Adrian Peterson will break a tackle or three, but I think the rest of the Vikings will be held in check.  The Illini basketball team isn’t half bad so far (I’ll eventually get to my postseason review of the football team once my anger subsists), while my man crush on Derrick Rose is growing exponentially on a daily basis.  Here are this week’s parlay picks (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) West Virginia Mountaineers (-3) over PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

(2) Miami Hurricanes (-1.5) over NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK

(3) FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (+16.5) over Florida Gators

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 5-6
Overall Season: 18-20-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) Indianapolis Colts (-4.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS

(2) GREEN BAY PACKERS (-3) over Carolina Panthers

(3) Chicago Bears (+3.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-7-1
Overall Season: 17-16-3

(Image from ehow)

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Back in 2002, Illinois followed up a BCS bowl berth in the previous season with a medicore and underachieving year where they needed to beat Northwestern in the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk game just to have a chance to get a lovely post-Christmas trip to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl.  The Illini looked they were were ready to pack it in for Thanksgiving and got trounced by the Wildcats, even though it was clear that Illinois had much more talent with pro prospects such as current Bears wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.  Hmmm… to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again.  The similarities between that Illini football team and this year’s squad are uncanny and I’m not holding my breath for a different outcome this time around.  (Meanwhile, I’m somewhat mortified that the Illinois basketball team has started to give me some hope that they might actually do something this season with their win at Vanderbilt last night.  Sure, Vandy might be a rebuilding team right now, but any win on the road against a BCS school is a great one, especially for Bruce Weber’s young lineup.  I was more than ready just to accept this whole season as a reconstruction project.  Now, I feel my brain beginning to cultivate expectations, which are probably all unfounded, particularly with Alex Legion joining the team next month.  This isn’t good for my stress level.)  Anyway, here are this week’s parlay picks (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) LSU TIGERS (-4) over Mississippi Rebels

(2) MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (+6) over Iowa Hawkeyes

(3) NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (+3) over Illinois Fighting Illini

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 4-6
Overall Season: 17-18-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) New England Patriots (+1) over MIAMI DOLPHINS

(2) ARIZONA CARDINALS (+3.5) over New York Giants

(3) ST. LOUIS RAMS (+8) over Chicago Bears

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-6-1
Overall Season: 16-14-3

Have a great weekend and, as always, Go Illini and Go Bears (even if they don’t deserved to receive any adoration)!

(Image from nusports.com)

I will be the first to admit that I am one of the few in Chicago’s legal community that has a lot of issues with the political philosophy of President-elect Obama.  However, his apparent passion for the creation of a college football playoff system, as shown in the above video clip from his interview this past week on 60 Minutes, is admirable.  Indeed, as a fellow South Sider and White Sox fan, I would be more then willing to lead the Presidential Commission on the Establishment of a College Football Playoff System in the spirit of bipartisanship.  I can tell Obama has given this issue a ton of thought judging by the “You can’t remember to pick up a carton a milk from the store within 5 minutes of asking you to do it, but you can instantly recite the names, positions, and social security numbers of the 1992 Chicago Bears roster that had a 5-11 record” look from the future First Lady as soon as brought up the subject.  (Brad Muster, your table is ready.)  I have been on the receiving end of that look more than anyone in history assuming that the guy from “Stump the Schwab” hasn’t found a life partner yet.

The interest of the President-elect has brought back up one of the few posts that I have written that has aged relatively well: this “modest proposal” for taking the existing 4 BCS bowls, keeping the traditional conference tie-ins such as the Big Ten and Pac-10 always being in the Rose Bowl, and making it into an 8-game playoff.  (As horrific as the actual Rose Bowl game last year was for me as an Illini fan, once you’ve experienced the spectacular pagentary around Pasadena on New Year’s Day, you understand exactly why those two conferences don’t want anything to do with giving up that game.  President-elect Obama should be aware from a political standpoint that the all 8 of the Big Ten states and 3 out of the 4 Pac-10 states, with the lone exception being John McCain’s home state of Arizona, voted for him, making those conferences his strongest supporters in the BCS.  He should remember this when he starts hearing suggestions from SEC fans that believe that the winner of the SEC Championship Game should be automatically crowned the national champion, since Florida was the only Obama win among the 9 states in the conference.  On another note, I am sincerely humbled by the fact that Professor Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated’s legal expert, linked to my playoff proposal post on the Sports Law Blog.  I love my job, but I have certainly dreamed of becoming a sports law professor of Professor McCann’s stature.)  The only item that I’d alter from the original proposal from 2 ½ years ago would be the timing of the playoff so that it would be in line with the comment from Slant reader Richard Gadsden, such that the national championship game would be played one week prior to the Super Bowl.  It’s such an obvious open date on the sports calendar that I can’t see any downside to it (other than the faux bemoaning of how long the college football season would be at that point, which I addressed in my original proposal post).  That way, the Rose Bowl and the other BCS games would continue to be on or around New Year’s Day as they always have, while the semifinals would be one or two weeks later in prime time weeknight slots (so that they do not conflict with the NFL playoff games that occur on the weekends in January).  Otherwise, every single item that I brought up then would still apply today.

The main overarching point that I can’t emphasize enough is that the only reasonable way that we will ever see a college football playoff in my lifetime is if the process is driven by the BCS conferences as opposed to being imposed on them.  There are plenty of proposals out there that advocate an NCAA Tournament-style system with automatic bids to the non-BCS conferences and an abolishment of the bowl system, which might work if we were living in a theoretical vacuum, but pretty much removes any type of incentive for the BCS conferences, who are the ultimate decision-makers here, to actually agree to such a playoff.  If people advocate an “all or nothing” approach to a college football playoff system, then no one should be surprised when the BCS conferences reflexively opt for “nothing”.  The reason why I believe that my proposal would have a reasonable chance of actually being enacted is that it would simply add to the bowl system that already exists as opposed to taking anything away.

For his part, President-elect Obama has preached pragmatism to addressing America’s issues more than any Presidential candidate in recent history.  In this case, the pragmatic approach would be to provide an incentive to bring the BCS conferences to the table with a proposal that allows them to keep the same disproportionate share of television and postseason revenue that they currently enjoy while still adding a playoff system that the general public craves.  It’s very easy for people to throw out college football playoff proposals that they believe would be perfect for their personal purposes, but my proposal is aimed at instituting a playoff that the BCS conferences would actually agree to at the end of the day.  Otherwise, we’ll still be debating this same issue thirty years from now.

(Video from YouTube)

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Here are this week’s parlay picks for Ohio State Week for the Illini (the mighty battle for the Illibuck) and Packer Week for the Bears (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) Purdue Boilermakers (+18.5) over IOWA HAWKEYES

(2) MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (-3.5) over Northwestern Wildcats

(3) ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (+9.5) over Ohio State Buckeyes

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 0-3

Illini Games for the Season: 4-5
Overall Season: 16-16-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-4) over Minnesota Vikings

(2) Arizona Cardinals (-3) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

(3) Chicago Bears (+3.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-5-1
Overall Season: 14-13-3

Have a great weekend and, as always, Go Illini and Go Bears!

(Image from fightingillini.com)

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I’m normally not one for hyperbole, but the following find from Awful Announcing might very well be the most awesome sports-related story that I’ve come across since starting this blog: the ESPN casting call for college basketball fans representing different schools.  Due to the fact that it’s so over-the-top in its stereotypes and littered with spelling and grammatical errors, you might think that this is an Internet hoax.  However, ESPN contacted Awful Announcing to make it clear that the casting call was being canceled, which meant that the most powerful cable network in the nation really was going to use these parameters to find people to represent various universities (before they got caught, of course).

Let’s see if I would have met the requirements to be Mr. Illini:

[ ILLINOIS ]
MALE. African-American. Young Obama. Think Toofer-the straight-laced, Harvard grad write r from 30 Rock (Keith Powell)

Well, as a half-Chinese/half-Polish guy, it doesn’t look like ESPN believes that I could represent my Illini.  Believe me when I say that Illinois was treated very positively compared to some other schools.  In comparison, let’s take a look at the alma mater of my man crush Derrick Rose:

[ MEMPHIS ]
MALE. What can we say about Memphis? He’s a southern BLACK kid, really culinary and polite. He’s artistic, and draws comic books really well.

As Awful Announcing noted, an “African-American” gets to be a Harvard graduate, while a “BLACK” can draw comic books really well.  I see that ESPN’s casting director really took to heart America’s historic election of a new President last week.  Anyway, I was able to find a surprising starring role that I could fit into:

[ NOTRE DAME ]
MALE He’s an ASIAN kid who is in to all things Notre Dame, ridiculously so. Oh, and he’s always fighting. Every time we encounter him he always has some words or another, be it the faint traces of a black eye, or a scab or whatever. He epitomizes the fightin’ Irish.

As someone that grew up during the Lou Holtz era on the South Side of Chicago (alright, it was the south suburbs, but all North Siders seem to believe that the Chicago area ends at around 57th Street) where every other person was Irish Catholic, I obviously believe that an Asian kid with a black eye “epitomizes the fightin’ (sic) Irish.”  It’s interesting that Notre Dame was the one program that ESPN’s proxies seemed to go out of their way to avoid so many of the school’s stereotypes (well, other than the black eye and scab part), but there was another Midwestern Catholic university where they sincerely nailed it:

[ MARQUETTE ]
FEMALE. Marquette, on a scale of 1-10, she’s a six. A B-, C in every category you can define a person by. Her defining characteristic is you don’t really remember her. You’re not breaking your arm to get to her, but you’re not chewing it off to get away. She does have a winning personality though. Midwest, sweet girl.

Never have truer words have been spoken about Marquette.  (Yes, I’m a DePaul Law alum.)

That was just a mere sampling – 24 schools in all were up for casting and there are many more gems (although ESPN’s lack of a college basketball contract with the Pac-10 has deprived us of roles for USC and Berkeley).  I’m simultaneously mortified that this is not a joke and gleeful that this will live on the interweb forever.

UPDATE: USA Today appears to be the first in the mainstream media to have picked up this story.

(Image from Scream Punch)

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Here are this week’s parlay picks (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) Oklahoma State Cowboys (+3.5) over TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS – Last week’s Texas-Texas Tech game was definitely the best college football game so far this season (and the last half of the 4th quarter was simply spectacular).  That game was such an exhilarating victory for the Red Raiders against an arch rival that it’s tough to imagine that they can keep the same intensity the week after.  The problem is that Oklahoma State is no slouch in the loaded Big 12 – these are excellent upset conditions.

(2) LSU TIGERS (+3.5) over Alabama Crimson Tide – ‘Bama has got to have a tough game at some point and Baton Rouge makes sense to being the place where that happens.  I won’t be surprised if Penn State is the #1 team in the country by the end of the weekend (which will unleash a torrent of Big Ten hating columns from the national media about how bad the conference is compared to the Big 12 and SEC this year).

(3) Illinois Fighting Illini (-7.5) over WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS – Illini fans have been perplexed for a very long time as to why Ron Guenther would agree to play a game at Ford Field against WMU, particularly when we already had a game in the Detroit area this season against Michigan.  There is zero upside for the Illini here.

FYI – I’ve been eying the Illinois-WMU game on the calendar for a couple years now as FUBAR.  I’ll admit to being a complete future college football scheduling dork, which makes CFBPalace an invaluable resource to me.   Honestly, I love my job as a lawyer, but if I had to choose another profession (with the caveat being that I actually have the physical capabilities to fill that role, meaning that my lifelong dream of being shooting guard for the Bulls doesn’t count until I have my 30-year old growth spurt), I would rank the possibilities as follows: (1) NBA general manager, (2) political strategist, and (3) the guy at ESPN that hooks up college football teams that have open dates on their schedules (yes, this position actually exists).

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 4-4
Overall Season: 16-13-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) ST. LOUIS RAMS (+9) over New York Jets – There’s no logical basis for this pick.  The bookies have broken me.

(2) Green Bay Packers (+2.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS – In another complaint about the bookies, they continuously make the lines for Packers games this year so ridiculously attractive that a reasonable person can’t say no.  I have to shower every time that I pick the Packers just to remove the filth that my laptop chokes up on me, but if the Vikings are ever giving points, I’m taking them with no regrets.

(3) CHICAGO BEARS (+3) over Tennessee Titans – Remember how I said that I had a bad feeling about last week’s game against the Lions where they’d win but fail to cover (which is what ended up happening)? Well, despite the fact that Rex Grossman is going to be playing and a picture of the Bears defense has been on the side of milk cartons since the second week of the season, I’ve got baseless positive vibes about this game.  (By the way, I never knew before now of the story of how the playing career of Titans coach Jeff Fisher with the Bears was actually ended due to a broken leg inflicted by former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.  That’s what I call some knowledge that you need to drop when you start discussing the greatest mullets in history at your next cocktail party.)

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-4-1
Overall Season: 13-11-3

Have a great weekend and, as always, Go Illini and Go Bears!

(Image from USC Legends)