I Am, If Nothing Else, A Man of the People

Hope any and all readers had a safe, enjoyable holiday. Obviously, I took a holiday sabbatical — way earlier than was necessary, actually. Still, I’m back now, as we’re bearing down on the NFL playoffs, as well as some of the more prominent games in the college bowl season. And it’s the amateur game that will be the focus of this post, because I learned something new about my knowledge of the college game on Christmas Eve. It was, in fact, a modern-day Christmas miracle.

You see, I checked my email that day and was pleased to see that I had received feedback from a reader — an individual who identified him/herself as “Arrow Smith.” It seems that Mr. or Mrs. Smith was unhappy with what was apparently the significant hand my sparsely-read, recently-launched blog had in perpetuating a rumor reported at West By God Virginia regarding modern-day Bear Bryant Nick Saban’s apparent interest in the head coaching position at West Virginia.

“These sources,” he/she wrote. “Oh brother. The man has only been at Alabama 11 months. Are you naturally an idiot or just had a head injury.” I was disappointed that these were the only two options presented, particularly in light of recent studies that suggest that the biggest concern with concussions is now the cumulative effect they can have on an individual rather than the immediate impact. For all he/she knows it could’ve been all those times I had my bell rung in my younger days finally catching up to me. It just seems contradictory to be so short-sighted with regards to my cranial capacity while at the same time being so willing to think about the long haul with Saban.

“What source are you talking about,” the comment continued. That one’s easy, I linked to it in the post: West By God Virginia. It was West By God Virginia’s story. I do not presently know anyone who works for the WVU sports department, nor did I ever claim to do so. The same cannot be said for the folks at West By God Virginia.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, take us home, Smitty! “Last night at the Tuscaloosa TD club Coach Saban said he was just getting started and things are looking up. Where the hell do you clowns did this crap up.” West By God Virginia. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize for thinking the word of a blogger whose work I was unfamiliar with prior to this story was more reputable than that of the guy who was issuing emphatic denials of his interest in the Bama job at this time last year. It was silly of me.

Look, I have no problem with readers expressing their opinions in the comment section. I have no problem with them getting heated about certain topics. And Mr. or Mrs. Smith certainly felt passionately enough about the subject to call me a clown and question my journalistic integrity for posting a hyperlink and making some off-color remarks about Saban. Though this individual is clearly not my biggest fan, I appreciated that he/she took the time to check out the blog. So you can imagine my joy when I found that, yes, there was a second comment on the same post by the same person, five minutes later. Apparently, I had not been adequately humbled yet in Arrow Smith’s mind.

So, at 2:46 ET on Christmas Eve, I was treated to the following correspondence, which I will format as a “block quote.” In the event that Mr. or Mrs. Smith is reading this post, let me explain that formatting of this nature tends to indicate that the content which has been posted was not written by yours truly, but was pulled in block form from a linked article (you can see a real-life example of this here.). So, here’s his/her second series of quotes:

Merrill Park Super idiot. Who is the source. Stop the the lies. Why in the hell would you have a source. WHY? Why would this coward hide? WHY? Why in the hell are you an idiot for reporting such crap. BO Fisher just turn down BGWV and the job is going to Tater Tot Bowden. Get a F-ing clue idiot.

Ouchie. In the course of five minutes, I was promoted from “possible idiot” to surefire Super idiot (boy, golly, do I get a cape and all?). I was again asked what my source was, and why I would have such a source. I was then asked why I was an idiot for reporting such crap. I imagine he/she conveniently answered his/her own question in his/her own mind there. And then, he/she broke the news that Terry Bowden will be named the head football coach at West Virginia University. Since I’m sure he/she has a source on this one — why the fuck wouldn’t he/she? — I ask that anyone reading my blog for breaking news please credit Arrow Smith with the scoop and provide a link to Merrill Park Superstar when doing so. Should Mr. or Mrs. Smith advise me of a personal Web site or his/hers, I will certainly correct the information regarding who should receive credit for the story.

Now…in between all that name-calling and integrity-questioning, Smith did raise an excellent point — when it comes to college football, I’m pretty much an idiot. Sure, I plopped myself down in front of a TV on the majority of this past autumn’s Saturdays and made an effort to watch several games each time. But, ultimately, I find myself only knowing the bigger-name players and the schools that are more highly marketed. I love college bowl season, but I don’t necessarily find myself adequately prepared to analyze the games. I just watch them for fun.

In all honesty, I only began to develop an interest in college football a few years ago, and it was a consequence of my rental of one of the games of the EA Sports NCAA Football series. Since 2003, I have religiously purchased the game and, hell, since 2004 I’ve actually watched its real-life counterpart.

A couple years ago, I had the bright idea to simulate all the bowl games on NCAA Football 06 in an effort to maintain my sanity during finals. It so happened that I was also taking an IT course at the time, during which we were to maintain a Web site featuring content of our choice. I, of course, had chosen to focus my attention on sports — and since this exercise in sanity retention also fit the bill of content pertinent to my Web site, I still have a record of what turned out to be an embarrassing display of prognostication for all parties involved.

Indeed, my .500 record was good enough to smoke the 10-18 effort of the EA AI. At that time, I was sure I had promised myself that I would never do that again.

Well, it occurs to me that I’ve just typed (or copy/pasted) 1,150 words to preface the following announcement: I did it again.

Yes, I’ve recorded my own bowl predictions as well as those of NCAA Football 08 for Plain Ol’ XBox (yep, still slummin’ it — even after Christmas) and intend to keep a daily tab of how me and the Box are faring in this year’s competition.

And now the interesting part (well, not really): what’s at stake. Whereas in 2005-06 it was just a good-natured battle between man and computer, this year it’s different. As I have been informed by my reading public that I don’t really have any idea what the hell I’m talking about with regards to college football, I’m putting my proverbial money where my proverbial mouth is: if I do not once again defeat the computer in the biennial competition, I will indefinitely refrain from personally covering anything relating to college football on the blog.

So, with the stakes raised, it’s time to take a look at the early returns of what can only be called the “Christ, Dude, Don’t You Have Any Real Friends?” Championship Series:

Poinsettia Bowl – Utah vs. Navy
Merrill Park Superstar (0-0): Utah
NCAA Football 08 (0-0): Utah
RESULT: Utah 35, Navy 32

New Orleans Bowl – Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis
Merrill Park Superstar (1-0): Memphis
NCAA Football 08 (1-0): Memphis
RESULT: Florida Atlantic 44, Memphis 27

Papajohns.com Bowl – Southern Miss vs. #20 Cincinnati
Merrill Park Superstar (1-1): Cincinnati
NCAA Football 08 (1-1): Cincinnati
RESULT: #20 Cincinnati 31, Southern Miss 21

New Mexico Bowl – Nevada vs. New Mexico
Merrill Park Superstar (2-1): Nevada
NCAA Football 08 (2-1): Nevada
RESULT: New Mexico 23, Nevada 0

Las Vegas Bowl – UCLA vs. #19 BYU
Merrill Park Superstar (2-2): UCLA
NCAA Football 08 (2-2): BYU
RESULT: #19 BYU 17, UCLA 16

Hawai’i Bowl – #24 Boise State vs. East Carolina
Merrill Park Superstar (2-3): Boise State
NCAA Football 08 (3-2): Boise State
RESULT: East Carolina 41, #24 Boise State 38

NCAA Football 08 (3-3)
Merrill Park Superstar (2-4)

Today’s Bowl — Motor City Bowl: Purdue vs. Central Michigan
Merrill Park Superstar’s pick:
WHY?: It comes down to familiarity, in a number of manners. I personally have only a very slight familiarity with the Chippewas, having seen them play Boston College strong in last year’s season opener. Purdue, on the other hand, received some noticeable regional coverage during the season, and I’m inclined to believe off the top of my head that they were in the Top 25 at some point during the season. Granted, during this crazy NCAA season that wasn’t exactly an elite club, but Purdue would seem to have history on its side in terms of national exposure and experience in big games. Furthermore, Purdue knocked off Central Michigan earlier in the year in West Lafayette by a score of 45-22. While I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Central Michigan make it a lot closer than their September meeting, I’m disinclined to believe that they’ll be able to turn it all the way around and knock off the Boilermakers.
NCAA Football 08’s Pick: Purdue
HOW?: The game predicts a blowout for the Boilermakers on the strength of standout performances from receivers Selwyn Lymon (five receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown) and Dorian Bryant (three receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown). Purdue’s aerial attack combined with its defense’s ability to pressure Chippewas star quarterback Dan LeFevour and bottle up the ground attack of running back Ontario Sneed (24 carries for 56 yards) led to a 40-13 blowout victory for the Big Ten school.


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