Monday, December 31, 2007

Cleveland Browns 2007 Retrospective

A solid hit by a Titans DB on 4th and long solidified the playoff picture. Tennessee held on to beat the Colts 16-10 and move onto the playoffs, leaving the Browns at home. Who's to blame? Derek Anderson, for throwing away the Bengals game in week 16? The Colts, for resting their starters and refusing to use their last timeout to get the ball back?

I say neither. The Colts were obviously looking out for their best interests. If you want to be shortsighted and pick one moment that cost the Browns their season, you have plenty to choose from. Blame the defense, or coordinator Todd Grantham, for letting the Steelers come back. Blame the line for letting the Raiders block that last-second field goal. Blame the coaching staff and front office for naming Charlie Frye the week 1 starter; if Anderson had started that week, maybe he would have been better prepared against the Raiders. Heck, if you want to be more perverse, blame Frye for playing so well in the preseason and beating out Anderson.

In the grand scheme of things, seasons never really come down to one moment. Besides, there are many positives to take away from this season. At the beginning of the season, 8-8 looked like a stretch for this team, much less 10-6. Any team or fan would be and should be absolutely ecstatic that a first-year starting QB only has two bad starts. Yeah, the Browns went 10-6 by playing the weakest schedule in the conference. But now they have a young, hungry team that believes they can win.

Things look good in Cleveland. Sure, the Cavs need to work out a few kinks. (I'm from the school of thought that if you're not the most talented team in the league, you just need to put forth more effort than anyone else. Then again, I'm not an NBA coach.) Baseball Think Factory's ZiPS projections have some nice things to say about the 2008 Indians. I agree that they're a trade or two away from surpassing the likes of the Red Sox and Tigers in the AL. So again, optimism is the word in Cleveland.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Editor's Note: Here's a 2 1/2 month dump of the things. Don't forget to vote for this year's KankaNation Hall of Famers.

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Division III Sul Ross State University suited up a 59-year-old linebacker. And he was still better than everyone at Notre Dame. How bad is Notre Dame football? They've changed their name from The Fighting Irish to The Fighting French. Notre Dame is so bad that on Sunday, they held an emergency practice and lost.

Tiger Woods will take an extended break to spend time with his new daughter, who is already a better golfer than Michelle Wie.

The Phoenix Mercury won their first WNBA championship, by beating both WNBA teams that haven't yet folded. In an equally exciting story, I stubbed my toe earlier.

Major League Baseball hopes to have a blood test available next season that will catch players using human growth hormone. That sound you hear is Barry Bonds retiring. Bonds could conceivably pass the test - assuming it didn't work on cold-blooded players.

White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye was spotted dining with Stevie Wonder and R. Kelly at a posh Chicago restaurant. Wonder was shocked, since he assumed that he was dining alone.

And a Florida Marlins season ticket holder was ejected at a home game for heckling the umpire too loudly. No word on yet what the Marlins will do to their other season ticket holder.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

The San Francisco Giants dedicated a 10-foot by 70-foot mural celebrating the team's history in the city. The team hopes that next year it can find a big enough wall to accommodate the rest of Barry Bonds' forehead. The Giants also announced that they will not be re-signing Bonds. Let us be the first to say, "neener neener neener!"

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are now marketing their own brand of hot sauce. The hot sauce is also terrible at baseball.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has suggested that his league is looking to expand into Europe, because he's run out of small southern cities that hate hockey.

Football fans are still reacting to Donovan McNabb's comments about black QBs facing more scrutiny than white QB's. Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, Rex Grossman, Eli Manning, Danny Wuerffel, and Ryan Leaf were unavailable for comment.

Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills player who everyone thought might be paralyzed, used his arms this week. To cover his eyes while watching the Bills play.

Six University of Texas football players have now been arrested since June. The Longhorns are hoping that things calm down so they can graduate and play for the Bengals.

Rockets center Yao Ming will miss the team's media day and first two days of practice to appear at the Special Olympics in Shanghai. Wow. We thought that was just a heavy accent.

The Houston Rockets have finally come to terms with Dikembe Mutombo, making him the oldest player in the league. Mutombo is so old that his first contract is on papyrus.

And in a case that's been all over the news, American cyclist Floyd Landis has been stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. Thankfully he's Mennonite, so his relatives will never know.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Major League Baseball has set an attendance record for the fourth straight season. But the old attendance record was set by fans who trained naturally.

Barry Bonds made his last appearance as a San Francisco Giant. Wherever he ends up next year, you will still be able to see his head from San Francisco.

David Beckham returned to Britain after his father suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Man, that whole family will fake injury to avoid showing up to work.

A cheating scandal has ensnared 23 student-athletes at Florida State. The news shocked many who didn't realize the university still offered classes.

Notre Dame football is so bad that this week, they lost to the Mets.

The New York Giants set a team record by sacking Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb 12 times. McNabb spent more time on his back than Paris Hilton.

Due to the distraction, NFL cheerleaders are no longer allowed to stretch in front of any player except Jeff Garcia. Tom Brady must also stop impregnating them.

This far into the season and St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little has no sacks or murders.

And Pat Bertoletti inhaled 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes to win $4,000 in the World Grits Eating Championship. Bertoletti will be using the money toward his next triple bypass.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

All-time money winning horse John Henry passed away at age 32, just eight years before the Mets would have offered him a contract.

Speaking of things on their last legs, the Carolina Panthers signed 44-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde, and actually told people about it. Testaverde will be a great backup in case any of the coaches get injured.

Pothead Ricky Williams has applied for reinstatement after being repeatedly reminded to do so. Williams has said he'll work for peanuts. As well as twinkies and cupcakes.

Congratulations to Lorena Ochoa for becoming the first female golfer to win $3 million in one year. That will buy a lot of flannel shirts.

Admitted steroid user and Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones will compete next year after all, batting fourth for the San Francisco Giants. Jones' tearful admission of steroids is under review, as there's suspicion the tears were also not real.

And after a two-year absence from the NBA, Allan Houston is attempting a comeback with the New York Knicks, because they're not bad enough. If that doesn't work, he can always sign with the Carolina Panthers.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Vinny Testaverde became the oldest starting quarterback to win a game in NFL history when the Cardinal defense was repelled by the smell of Ben Gay. Testaverde is so old he can still remember when Terry Bradshaw made sense.

A Saints-Seahawks game was delayed for eight minutes when NBC's suspended Cable Cam began falling toward the field. The collapse was so sudden that viewers thought they were watching the Mets.

Blazers first-round pick Petteri Koponen has just completed his required six-month stint in Finland's army. The only thing more useless than Finland's army is the Portland Trailblazers.

NBA commissioner David Stern might punish the Knicks for being found liable in a sexual harassment suit. The punishment will be playing for the Knicks.

Boxer Marco Antonio Barrera retired following his lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao. Most fight fans were stunned, figuring he'd retired before the fight.

A Pizza Hut promotion featured Lions receiver Roy Williams delivering pies. John Kitna tried delivering a few, but they kept getting intercepted.

And Pete Rose issued a public challenge saying that he will give $100 to anyone who sees him gambling. So Rose just bet that he wouldn't bet. Thanks for the $100, Pete. We'll use it to pay for our next trip to the land of irony.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

A Colorado Rockies fan offered 25 years worth of Playboy magazines for two World Series tickets. Two tickets? We find it hard to believe that someone with that many adult magazines actually has someone he can take to the game.

The Yankees heard of A-Rod's decision to opt out of his contract when agent Scott Boras sent a text message to Brian Cashman. This means A-Rod will most likely leave the Bronx, and Boras and Cashman are no longer BFF. And in case you didn't think Boras was a big enough jerk already, he signed the text message with a sideways winky face.

Retiring Houston Astro Craig Biggio was given the Roberto Clemente Award. Not for his community service, but for ending his career in a tailspin.

Pacman Jones is on his way to San Diego, hopefully to make it rain.

The Tour de France is expected to have a whole new look for 2008. In order to accommodate cyclists who aren't on HGH, the event's is now half a mile.

Kobe Bryant is angry with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, whom he believes is blocking a potential trade with unreasonable demands. It must be so frustrating when someone else's unreasonable demands get in the way of your own.

The Heat have traded perpetually out of shape forward Antoine Walker to the Timberwolves. Now that he's in Minnesota, he won't seem as fat.

And an ambulance crew who picked up a dying runner during the Chicago Marathon got lost on the way to a hospital. As if that weren't bad enough, the extra driving added an additional half hour to the runner's overall time. The crew was immediately fired and replaced by Kenyans with rickshaws.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

A Utah high school football coach is facing charges of animal cruelty because he stomped a pheasant that ran on the field. This weekend, the pheasant is favored by three over Notre Dame.

A Kansas high school football team beat an opponent 83-0 last week. The blowout made the game as un-exciting as Kansas itself.

Spanish researchers say that beer is better than water for re-hydrating after a hard workout. Which is how John Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship.

Major League Baseball is considering installing instant replay in important games. That way Scott Boras has more time to hold press conferences. Boras client Alex Rodriguez might sign with the Chicago Cubs, where he won't even get a chance to fold in the playoffs.

The hapless Pittsburgh Pirates named John Russell their new manager. Yeah, that should do it.

Barry Bonds claims that he will not bring any baggage to whatever team signs him, especially since his baggage is now tiny and shriveled.

Sammy Sosa wants to play in the Major Leagues next year, as long as he can get at least $7 million. Apparently cork is more expensive than it looks.

Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom sustained a slight concussion in an automobile accident. Paramedics were called after Odom stumbled out of the car, thinking the Lakers had a shot at the championship.

And the NFL's oldest living player Sam Dana passed away at 104. Next week, he'll be returning punts for the Rams.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are shortening their name to the Tampa Bay Rays. The devil is thrilled to no longer be a part of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Wade Boggs helped the Rays unveil new uniforms and politely turned down the team's request to pitch.

A survey shows that it costs a family of four $453.95 to attend a Lakers game. Another survey shows that there is no such thing as a family of four in Los Angeles.

A Minneapolis real estate magnate expressed a desire to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves and pursue his love of amateur athletics.

When ESPN's Barry Melrose said the area around New Jersey's hockey arena was unsafe, he upset the local fans so much that they mugged him.

Dallas center Mike Modano broke Phil Housley's NHL record for career points by an American-born player. With seven. Being the best American hockey player is almost as cool as being the best Canadian baseball player.

Losing their final Orange Bowl game 48-0 was so embarrassing for the Miami Hurricanes, they have downgraded their mascot to the Tropical Storms.

Steve McNair has soreness in his non-throwing shoulder. Which could be either shoulder.

And the NFL will block 70% of U.S. households from watching the New England Patriot's final game by restricting the broadcast to its own cable channel. Luckily for fans, Bill Belichick will be taping it.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Alex Rodriguez said that his talks with the Yankees are "in the bottom of the fifth inning." Hopefully for A-Rod, the metaphor takes place in a regular season game. If the Yankees do sign the ten-year deal, it's mainly so they don't have to speak to Scott Boras for the next decade.

The University of Alabama is looking into acquiring a live elephant for its football game day festivities. Unfortunately, John Daly was booked.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr resigned after losing to Ohio State, calling it his most embarrassing loss of the last few months. Rumor has Carr going to Notre Dame next season. To play quarterback.

Ryan Leaf has surfaced as the quarterbacks coach for Division II's number four ranked West Texas State. Leaf has taught his team how to throw a spiral, throw a tantrum, and throw in the towel.

Mike Tyson has served a 24-hour jail sentence, where he was forced to eat prison food instead of Lennox Lewis' children.

New York Knicks radio announcer Gus Johnson was criticized for clapping every time New York scored a basket. Johnson later apologized for being a Knicks fan. The good news for the Knicks is that they got Stephon Marbury back. The bad news, of course, is that they got Stephon Marbury back.

And undefeated North Carolina won its fifth NCAA title in women's field hockey. When asked what she'll do next, the team MVP said, "I'm going to Lilith Fair."

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Two workers at the Mets' forthcoming Citi Park were injured on the job thanks to unsafe conditions. What they thought was a safety net turned out to just be a seven game lead.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will finally have a float in the Rose Bowl Parade. The float will probably run out gas halfway through.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban has been criticized for comparing his defeat at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe to Pearl Harbor. The only thing that should be compared to the tragedy of Pearl Harbor is the movie Pearl Harbor.

Rams QB Marc Bulger suffered a concussion. His condition worsened when he was reminded that he plays for the Rams.

Ricky Williams has put a book on his life story on hold. Problems arose when Williams kept rolling the manuscript.

Japanese gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi will wear a pair of shoes made of rice husks while running in Bejing. Noguchi hopes her rice shoes will help cool her feet while also reaffirming stereotypes. To combat this advantage, Ethiopia will be providing its runners with forks.

The NBDL began its seventh season this week. No one knows why.

Isiah Thomas said he's so confident that he won't be fired, he'll be groping a different employee each week.

And German pole-vaulter Yvonne Buschbaum will begin hormone treatment to become a man. Given the average physique of a German female athlete, treatment will be completed next Monday.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

New York Giants leading rusher Derrick Ward is out with a leg injury. Ward's leg is so weak, doctors briefly mistook it for Eli Manning's arm.

The Lions' Roy Williams may be out for the season. Detroit will have to replace him with one of their other 742 wide receivers.

Ricky Williams' season ended after he tore a chest muscle. Williams will spend the next few weeks trying to convince his doctor it was due to glaucoma.

Tom Petty will play at half-time of the Super Bowl, dedicating "Don't Come Around Here No More" to the Miami Dolphins.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been selected NASCAR's most popular driver by internet users for the fifth straight year. Earnhardt is well liked by both NASCAR fans that own computers.

Tony La Russa pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. The Cardinal manager admitted to falling asleep at the wheel last year, and also driving under the influence.

Dick's Sporting Goods has purchased Chick's Sporting Goods. Yes, Dick's bought Chick's. Every possible domain name for their new company is already taken.

Harness driver Tim Tetrick has broken the single-season record with his 1,078th victory. Tetrick has been riding his horses so hard this year that they're already starting to smell like glue.

For the second time, Bobby Knight has been accused of shooting someone while hunting. Next week, Knight will be announcing his candidacy for Vice President.

And the New York Knicks lost to the Celtics by 45 points, barely beating the spread.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Job finding site just bought a Super Bowl ad. Hopefully, Eric Mangini will be watching the game. Well, we know he won't be coaching in it.

Injured Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett is now walking on his own. Everett already has more mobility than half of his teammates. Everett first stood up during a Bills game - to change the channel.

David Beckham was given the job of the official backstage photographer for the Spice Girls, only to miss the concert with an injury.

Forbes named the New York Knicks the NBA's most valuable franchise. This thrilled the team's majority stock holder, Anucha Browne Sanders.

Goodletsville, Tennessee's Brandon Coppinger is officially the best NASCAR video game player, winning the EA Sports Craftsman Challenge. He is truly the best at simulating left turns. Maybe next year he can simulate kissing a girl.

Scott Niedermayer will rejoin the Anaheim Ducks after missing the team's first 28 games. Niedermayer wasn't retiring, he just hadn't realized that the NHL season had started.

And USA Today's staff has compiled a list of the top 25 college football games from the last 25 years and none of them involve the SEC. Even sadder? In the last 25 years, not one journalism department in the SEC has produced a student capable of working at USA Today.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's Ballot Time Again

Once again, it's time to vote for the KankaNation Hall of Fame.

List up to 10 people you think should be in the KankaNation Hall of Fame, and email to by 5 pm Eastern on December 31.
Those who receive a certain percentage of the vote (depends on how many ballots are received; usually 66-75%) will join the Classes of 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Those who received multiple votes last year will receive one carryover vote this year.

To view past inductees and voting results, click one of the links below:
Class of 2004
Class of 2005
Class of 2006
Class of 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ten Tragically-Overlooked Performance Enhancers, In Increasing Magnitude Of Performance Enhancement

by Klondike, 2007 KankaNation Laetare Recipient

Painter Stilts: These provide both an increase in stride length and a height advantage. The most obvious advantages would be realized by basketball players, but baseball outfielders and football receivers would also enjoy a significant boost.

Extending Boxing Glove: Knock that point-after attempt out of the sky. Can also be used in regular boxing to win the match without leaving the safety and comfort of your corner.

Pole-Vault Pole: Try tagging the base-runner now. Also provides a unique way of getting past the line of scrimmage. Good for some new and unique hockey penalties if used in a sufficiently unconventional manner.

Spooky Ghost Costume: Any antagonist off of the original Scooby-Doo cartoons would work. This will work in any position where speed can be sacrificed for intimidation. A defensive line, for instance, or any kind of goalkeeper. Watch out for meddling kids.

Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Any sport where speed is a primary necessity. Think about returning a punt or running the bases. Note: Such an enhancement is actually legal in NASCAR.

Trebuchet: The basic functionality has been proven for centuries. The opposing team's punt will look pathetic after your special-team launches the ball a half-mile. Is dodgeball a sport? Dodgeball is a sport. Sure, you can dodge a wrench, but can you dodge a three-hundred-pound dodgeball of doom?

Keanu Reeves: Unstoppable execution coupled with questionable physics makes Keanu Reeves a winning enhancement to any team sport. Warning: Slow-motion replays of Keanu's ultra-slow-motion moves may cause time itself to stop. Keep a crazy telephone booth handy at all times.

Cheerleaders: Many sports have tragically overlooked the benefits of cheerleaders. Baseball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling . . . they are all begging for some sprightly ladies to really pump up that home-field advantage.

The CIA: Plant a mole in the opposing team's huddle. Assassinate the third-base coach. Enhance your own counter-espionage operations by planting false practice tapes. Extort some good players out of third-world dictatorships. The questionable pharmaceutical research is also a bonus, though screening potential drugs in the minor leagues first is recommended.

The Force: Really, what can't the Force do? You'll never miss a shot. Anticipation of your opponent's moves would be second to none. Cut through that defense with the ol' lightning-finger-zaparoo. No other wrestler could compete with your choke hold. Forget about Converse shoes; the Force really does help you run faster, jump higher, live longer etc. Possible side-effects include familial ambiguity, designs at galactic conquest, and turning into a shriveled, bitter old man.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007
Issue 11: Duke

Look for a big game from:

Notre Dame-Duke Preview

Mitchell Blatt from the fine Juiced Sports Blog (do I have a link to them in my sidebar yet? I really should add one) graciously wrote up a preview for the ND-Duke game. I'm posting it here, so I can continue to whine about being too busy to do my own previews.

Oh, the tradition. Notre Dame. Knute Rockne. Rudy Ruettiger. NBC.
Duke. Steve Spurrier starting his career there. Good basketball team.

Read the entire preview at

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Eighteen Culinary Uses For Selected Sports Equipment, In Ascending Order Of How Much Of A Mess You Will Make

by Klondike, 2007 KankaNation Laetare Recipient

Editor's Note: ND 27, Navy 23

#18: Football Dial-a-Down
Ready for the second course? Dial up the "2" on this handy tool.

#17: Hockey Puck
Four of these will make a classy coaster set.

#16: Baseball Plates
A ready replacement for actual plates, as far as keeping food off the table is concerned.

#15: Baseball Catcher Chest Protector
Stitch on a phrase like "kiss the cook" and you've got a cooking apron. These can also be used to smother grease fires.

#14: Baseball Mitt
These provide much more protection than your average oven mitt. Especially useful when handling hot potatoes.

#13: Protective Cup
The breathable versions can be used to separate egg yolks from the whites. Non-breathable models can be used for anything from soup cups to sundae bowls. Gross.

#12: Football Helmet
You can use these for salad bowls in a pinch. Also good to wear for those weekend chefs that forget to close the cupboard doors.

#11: Basketball Shot Clock
Great for cooking things in 35-second increments. If you're a professional chef you only get 24 seconds.

#10: Fencing Foil
Use this to super-size that shish kebab. You can also use this to spit a roast over the bonfire.

#9: Cricket Bats
These are handy for cooking pizzas and loaves of bread in masonry ovens. You can also flip those burgers from three feet away.

#8: Hockey Stick
If you're looking for a unique sushi presentation, look no further. Also good for passing foods across the table.

#7: Fencing Mask
A perfect colander. These can also be used for other sieve-related tasks, like sifting flour or finding the ring you lost in the soup.

#6: Golf Putter
Golf isn't a sport.

#5: Tennis Racket
With a properly applied forearm, you can dice just about anything with one of these.

#4: Hockey Ice Skates
Cutting the cheese has never been so easy! These can also be used to stomp-chop fruits and vegetables Riverdance-style.

#3: Jai Alai Basket-Glove
These can serve mashed potatoes at speeds exceeding 180 miles per hour. They also allow for the hands-free consumption of banana splits.

#2: Soccer Cleats
Another culinary necessity, with uses ranging from mashing grapes for wine to turning pancakes into waffles.

#1: Baseball Bat
The toughest meat in your freezer can be tenderized with one of these. It also works as a juicer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Assembling the 2008 Indians

I've had this idea in my head for a few days, and I see Blastings! Thrilledge already beat me to it. So let's build on their work and see what we can do for the Tribe. Part 1 will deal with the starting position players. Although I should warn you - this may end up being Part 1 of 1.

Blastings! Thrilledge
Some Baseball Notes (2007 league average VORP by position)
Baseball Prospectus (2007 Indians VORP)
Cot's Baseball Contracts

Let's start with who will be back, either due to a long-term contract or the fact that they're not yet eligible for arbitration:
Dave Dellucci
Travis Hafner
Victor Martinez
Jason Michaels
Jhonny Peralta
Grady Sizemore
Josh Barfield
Kelly Shoppach
Shin-Soo Choo
Ryan Garko
Andy Marte
Franklin Gutierrez
Michael Aubrey
Asdrubal Cabrera
Ben Francisco
Brad Snyder

The Indians don't have any position players with player or club options for 2008. The following players' contracts expired at the end of this season:
Kenny Lofton
Casey Blake
Trot Nixon
Chris Gomez
Luis Rivas

Now, let's start with the obvious guys to stick in the starting lineup. Without looking at the numbers, who would you say was a sure bet? Martinez, Sizemore, Hafner, Peralta, and maybe Garko, right? Well, the numbers would support you. All five posted above-league-average VORPs in 2007, so we'll keep them around.

How do we fill out the rest of the lineup? If you add up the league average VORPs, and assume the DH league average (which was not listed) is the same as the first base league average, you get a total of 215.95. The total VORPs for our five "keepers" above is 193.6. If you'll believe my shady math, that means the remaining four in the lineup need to total 22.36 to equal a league-average lineup.

Before we go on, there's something I'd like to point out. VORP is a "counter" stat that takes into account how much someone has played. Put simply, a player who bats .300 for a full season would have a higher VORP than someone who bats .300 for half a season. Taking that into account, I'm going to do some more shady math to get Gutierrez and Cabrera's VORPs closer to full season numbers. Everyday starters had 600+ at bats. Franklin Gutierrez had 301 at bats, so let's multiply his VORP times 2 to get a full season value: 16.6. I'll be modest and multiply Asdrubal Cabrera's VORP by 3 to get 22.8. Those are both decent numbers, so they get to stick around, barring any sophomore slumps or the negative effects of their first full seasons in the bigs. Adding them to the lineup, we already have a team VORP of 233.

What do we do with the other two spots? Negative VORPs are possible, so we need higher (more positive) than -17 VORP out of the last two spots to come up with a lineup that's above league average.

Michaels and Dellucci signed decent sized contracts to platoon in left. I'm going to assume we're stuck with them. That gives us a team VORP of 233 + 0.4 - 3.4 = 230. Still above league average, so we have some wiggle room.

The biggest question is on the infield. Some people have already written off Marte, others have written off Barfield, and some have forgotten about both. Assuming Peralta and Cabrera are definites, that gives us two options:
(1) Barfield 2B, Peralta 3B, Cabrera SS
(2) Cabrera 2B, Marte 3B, Peralta SS
VORP does not take defense into account, and most statheads realize that there isn't a truly good way to value defense just yet. So let's stick to hitting. VORP does take position into account (you're rated compared to others at your position), so let's do some more shady math to convert Peralta's SS VORP to a 3B VORP, and Cabrera's 2B VORP to a SS VORP.
(Peralta SS VORP)/(lg avg SS VORP) = (Peralta 3B VORP)/(lg avg 3B VORP)
26.3/25.22 = x/26.19; x = 27.31
(Cabrera 2B VORP/(lg avg 2B VORP) = (Cabrera SS VORP)/(lg avg SS VORP)
22.8/22.69 = x/25.22; x = 25.34

Next, let's find Marte and Barfield's full-season VORPs. We'll take Marte's times 10 to get -40. We'll take Barfield's times 1.3 to get -17.68. So our two options are now
(1) -17.68 (Barfield 2B) + 27.31 (Peralta 3B) + 25.34 (Cabrera SS) = 70.33
(2) 22.8 (Cabrera 2B) -40 (Marte 3B) + 26.3 (Peralta SS) = 9.1

The overwhelming choice, then, is:

Huh. That gets us in at just under the league average. How can we improve it? Well, Martinez's numbers will probably go down, and Sizemore's might as well, but Hafner's are due to go up - that's just the statistical trend of reverting to the mean. Barfield is due for improvement as well.

Personally, I'd like to see Blake and Lofton back. Blake is selfless and will play any position you want him to. Plus, if you've read any interview given by him or Hafner, you can tell the two are good friends. But where do you put him? He's not going to replace Garko at first. Gutierrez is a great five-tool player, and it would be an insult to take away his starting spot after the year he had. You could keep the lineup the way it is - Cabrera 2B, Blake 3B, Peralta SS. But watching Game 8 of the ALCS showed that sticking Blake and Peralta on the same side of the infield is not always the best idea. Plus, you have to believe that Barfield's 2007 was only a fluke, and that Marte will finally live up to his hype sooner or later. Blake is worth more than the $4 million he was paid this year, so while he might not mind coming off of the bench as a super-sub, the Indians could definitely find a cheaper player to fill that role.

Lofton is a victim of numbers. He was added this year after Dellucci's season ended. Now both Dellucci and Michaels are back with guaranteed contracts for 2008, meaning there's simply no room for Lofton. Personally, I prefer him to the other two options. But from a business perspective, the Tribe is stuck with Dellucci and Michaels.

As for the other three, they served their purpose while they were here. Save the playoffs, Nixon's performance on the field was far from memorable. He did, however, keep the clubhouse loose, initiating the tradition of pie-ing the face of whichever player was giving the post game interview. That loose, fun attitude no doubt led to some extra wins. However, $3 million is steep for a pie-thrower. Chris Gomez was a playoff veteran signed for the stretch run. Rivas was infield insurance. That means both will likely be gone without a second thought.

Where do the Indians go from here? It looks like the Indians will need another utility infielder. This is especially true if Peralta makes the move to 3B full time, because someone will need to back up Cabrera at short. Marte and Barfield hurt their own cases by only being able to play one position. A fifth outfielder will also be needed both as a bench player and in case Gutierrez falters. Will that be Blake or Lofton after all? Will it be Francisco or Choo? Or someone else?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hindsight and Optimism

Lots of hindsight can be thrown at this weekend's ND-USC game. The first that comes to mind is starting Evan Sharpley, a guy who holds onto the ball too long, against SC's tenacious pass rush. But there's no use crying over that now. This is a program that has been wandering in the desert for the past 10-15 years, but there is reason for hope. For the first time in a while, we at least have a head coach that actually wants to go undefeated, and is willing to do anything within the rules and within his power to do so. Maybe it's a sad comment on the state of the program when simply having a coach who wants to win is a good thing. But so be it. It remains to be seen whether Coach Weis will be the next Gerry Faust, who loved Our Lady's University with all his heart but was severely overmatched making the jump from high school to I-A, or the next Dan Devine, who brought home a championship but never gained universal acceptance due to his ups and downs. The key barometer - besides wins and losses, obviously - is recruiting. How good will Coach Weis' recruiting class be after this losing season, or - Our Lady forbid - two losing seasons in a row?

Also in hindsight, Indians fans should have realized that Curt Schilling's first start of the ALCS was a fluke, and that he was coming ready to play in game six. Still, that doesn't mean the Indians are out of it yet. Momentum is a fickle thing. The Tribe took two of three in Cleveland. But if, instead of winning games three and four like they did, what if they had gone two for three by taking games 3 and 5, or 4 and 5 instead? They still could have lost game six and not felt out of it. What's my point? I believe it's that this series isn't over yet. (Yes, I am writing this before tonight's Game 7.)

But there's also reason for optimism among Indians fans. Despite what the national media and east coast fans may think, luck had nothing to do with Cleveland winning six of their first nine playoff games. This is a team that tied for the best record in baseball despite playing in a competitive division. They did so with two legitimate Cy Young contenders, and a center fielder, catcher, shortstop, and two setup men who are all among the league's best. Cleveland's insane numbers with two outs in the New York series may seem fluky, but not when you have a balanced lineup that's produced all year. And I'm sure Boston will tell you how much of a knock-down, drag-out fight this series has been.

But I have another reason for optimism. This Indians team is going to be around for a while. Even with the ageless Kenny Lofton on the roster, the average age of the team is 29. Of the Indians core group of stars, Rafael Betancourt is the old man at 32, and Travis Hafner is the only other one over the age of 30 (and he's been 30 for all of four and a half months now.)

So Go Irish, and Go Tribe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007
Issue 8: USC

No regular preview again this week (unless someone wants to write one). As an aside, I couldn't believe how lost I was watching the BC game after not previewing that game. I humbly hope that at least a few of my readers feel the same way.

We'll start with some news: Evan Sharpley will start at QB for the Irish, and unless John David Booty makes a semi-miraculous injury comeback, Mark Sanchez will call signals for the Trojans.

I will leave you some video inspiration, in honor of the 1977 Green Jersey Game, which will be commemorated this Saturday. First, some game clips from the BGS Video Vault. Second, with all due respect to Irish Round Table, Fire It Up!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Boston College 27, Notre Dame 14

Quarterback: It's quite obviously a rebuilding year at this point. But here's the question: do you go with Jimmy Clausen (20-7-2, 60 yds), quarterback of the future, and let him learn the offense on the fly? Or do you go with Evan Sharpley (29-11-0, 135 yds, TD), whose experience and playmaking ability lets everyone else on the field learn the offense on the fly? In other words, yes we'd like Clausen to gain experience and learn the offense. But with Sharpley in there and able to throw the ball downfield more, the young receivers are gaining valuable live experience.

Running Back: BC has a stout run defense, and it showed. Not counting two sacks and an errant Geoff Price knee, the Irish attempted only 18 runs. James Aldridge ran 5 times for 17 yards, Armando Allen 3 for 9, and Robert Hughes 5 for 6. Allen added 3 receptions for 16 yards.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp had a decent day with the ball. He had 1 carry for 4 yards and 2 receptions for 22 yards.

Receiver: In this game, Robby Parris may best be remembered for the 4th and 1 playaction touchdown catch that was called back due to holding, and remembered second best for a handful of near-catches and drops. But Parris still had a decent day, hauling in 4 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Duval Kamara and George West had quiet days, with 2 catches for 19 yards and 1 for 3 respectively. David Grimes did not dress for this game.

Tight End: It was another decent game for John Carlson, but again not All-America worthy. The grad student had 4 catches for 29 yards.

O-Line: If you're looking for signs of optimism, all planned runs by the Irish at least got back to the line of scrimmage. The only time ND was stopped behind the line was on Price's kneel and two sacks of Evan Sharpley.

D-Line: Trevor Laws had another solid day, recording 11 tackles and a pass breakup. Pat Kuntz added 5 tackles while Dwight Stephenson got a hit on the BC quarterback.

Linebacker: Joe Brockington put in yeoman's work in this one. Maurice Crum missed most of the game with a leg injury, and Brockington was limping for most of the second half as well. But Brockington stayed in there, and led the team with 13 tackles. Stepping in for Crum, in a new position on the inside, Anthony Vernaglia had 5 tackles, one in the backfield. John Ryan added 4 stops and a QB hit. Meanwhile, the legend of Brian Smith grows. Smith only had 2 tackles, but also had a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Safety: My dad commented that Tom Zbikwoski hasn't impressed him this year. Sadly, I would have to agree. Zbikowski had 6 tackles and a pass breakup, but he hasn't been playing with the killer instinct you'd expect out of a 5th-year version of number nine. David Bruton had 6 tackles.

Cornerback: The Irish played a nickel formation for most of the game, with two linemen, two outside linebackers in three-point stances, and two inside linebackers. The nickelback was Ambrose Wooden, who for better or for worse had 5 stops. Darrin Walls had 2 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Kicker: Brandon Walker missed a 41 yard field goal attempt. He had the distance, but was wide right.

Punter: Price did have the key blunder of picking up a bad JJ Jansen snap with his knee on the ground. But otherwise, Price averaged 42.2 yards on 6 punts. And in Jansen's defense, this is likely the first time I've ever mentioned his name because of a bad snap.

Kick and Punt Returner: Armando Allen, Golden Tate, and Tom Zbikowski were all decent, but none could manage a return longer than 18 or 19 yards.

Special Teams: Irish coverage teams did a decent job, holding punt returners to 11.3 yards per and kick returners to 18.5 yards per.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Know Thy Enemy:
Boston College

Sorry, running behind this week, so no BC preview. Well, maybe a brief one. Big time passing offense, very good against the run, mediocre against the pass. Should be fun, especially if any of the current players are old enough to remember the last few contests. ND 23, BC 21.

The Bricks House
Eagle in Atlanta
For Here Men are Men
Heights and Lows
News from the Hill
Fanblogs Boston College
FanHouse Boston College

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Notre Dame 20, UCLA 6

Quarterback: Sometimes you need to do just enough to win. As far as Jimmy Clausen is concerned, the important things I'm taking away from this game are his three QB sneaks. Only two were successful, but one was for a TD. More importantly, this is the first time I can remember Clausen running sneaks. This shows that he believes he has the toughness to get the first down, and that Coach Weis has faith in Clausen to execute the play.

Running Back: It was tough running again for the Irish, but James Aldridge did pick up 52 yards on the ground, and another 18 in the air. Armanda Allen added 19 yards on 3 rushes and 3 yards on 2 receptions. Allen also hit John Carlson on a ten yard pass late in the game. Is Allen becoming the poor man's Darren McFadden? Travis Thomas had another rough day, picking up 1 yard on two carries.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp was finally able to gain some positive yardage, picking up 2 yards on 1 carry.

Receiver: Robby Parris started for the injured David Grimes and picked up 3 catches for 13 yards. Duval Kamara added 2 for 20. DJ Hord and Golden Tate each tried one "man on an island quick screen. Hord's went for 2 yards and Tate's for 0.

Tight End: They weren't All America numbers, but John Carlson's 6 catches for 38 yards are a sign that the star tight end is finding ways to get himself involved with this offense once again.

O-Line: The line is still a work in progress. Clausen was sacked 3 times, and the team only had 46 net rushing yards. But when the team was asked to just bowl over the guy in front of them, like on Clausen's sneaks or Schwapp's dive, they normally got the job done.

D-Line: Lost in the shuffle, Part I: Pat Kuntz and Trevor Laws both had big days for the Irish. Kuntz led the team with 8 tackles and knocked down two passes. Laws added 5 tackles, one of which was a sack, and also knocked down two passes. Dwight Stephenson made two stops in the backfield.

Linebacker: As Notre Dame was working on its offensive touchdown, I got a call from my brother. He's in the marching band, and they were on the way back to school from an away game. I needed to pick him up, but I figured that I would have enough time if I left at the end of the 3rd quarter (there were 3-4 minutes left in the quarter at that time. But after Clausen plunged in and Brandon Walker converted the PAT with under 2 minutes left in the quarter, I figured I could rush to my car and pick up the game on the radio. Once I finally found a radio station 10 minutes later, I discovered that I just missed Maurice Crum's fumble return for a touchdown. What a day for Crum. At the start of the game, I couldn't help but complain about his missed tackles. Boy, did he ever shut me up. After pulling a Tom Zbikowski and ripping the ball out of the UCLA back's hand, Crum also recorded a fumble return for a touchdown, 2 pass breakups, and 2 INTs playing deep zone in the fourth quarter. Crum had 80 return yards on the day, more than the Irish punt and kick returners combined. Oh, he also had a sack, part of his 7 tackles, which was second best on the team. I think you can qualify Crum as a "stat sheet stuffer," as he hit every defensive stat on the chart except for a quarterback hit (one that doesn't result in a sack) and a blocked kick. Joe Brockington added 6 tackles, one for a loss. Kerry Neal has continued to see his playing time increase. He had 3 tackles and recovered a fumble that set up a field goal. Anthony Vernaglia quietly added 4 tackles. Brian Smith recorded his first career sack, while John Ryan notched yet another. Toryan Smith added a tackle for a loss. Notre Dame had 9 stops in the backfield in this game, and not all of those can be blamed on a freshman walk-on quarterback.

Safety: Lost in the shuffle, Part II: Both safeties had themselves solid games. David Bruton probably deserves honorable mention on the horse trailer, both for his interception, and for his big hits on special teams that stopped several Bruins returns before they even started. Tom Zbikowski had 5 tackles, including the sack that led to a fumble and an injured quarterback.

Cornerback: Darrin Walls did a great job of breaking up a pass in the endzone, but apparently wasn't credited with an official "pass breakup." Ambrose Wooden, taking advantage of playing time due to UCLA's multiple receiver sets, recorded 6 tackles. Terrail Lambert recorded an interception in the 4th quarter.

Kicker: Lost in the shuffle, Part III: Brandon Walker had a solid day all around, kicking two PATs and hitting both of his field goal attempts. The 26-yarder was nice, but the 48-yarder was downright impressive. Has Coach Weis finally found his kicker?

Punter: Lost in the shuffle, Part IV: A week after being benched for inconsistency, Geoff Price was back punting, and punting well. Price booted the ball 9 times for an average of 40.3 yards and a long of 48. He was solid during a game when an early shanked punt could have easily changed the momentum of this game.

Kick Returner: Armando Allen handled all three kickoff returns, averaging 24 yards per with a long of 31.

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski returned two punts a total of 1 yard.

Special Teams: The Irish held UCLA to a 20 yard average on kickoffs and a 2 yard average on punts. Impressively, UCLA was only able to attempt returns on 2 of Price's 9 punts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007
Issue 6: UCLA

Sorry for the abbreviated preview; it's midterm week. Oh, and the baseball playoffs are on.

UCLA Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

36 Khalil Bell and 28 Chris Markey have shared time for the Bruins. Bell is averaging 20 rushers and 104 yards per game, while Markey is averaging 16 and 81. Bell has 4 rushing TDs to Markey's 3.
Trevor Laws now leads the Irish in total tackles with 41, and in tackles for a loss with 4.5. Maurice Crum is second on the team with 20 tackles, and Joe Brockington is right behind with 38.

ND Rush Offense vs. UCLA Rush Defense

James Aldridge is starting to see more and more carries for the Irish. He's now averaging 8 rushes and 43 yards per game. Armando Allen is averaging 6 and 20. Robert Hughes is trying to become the short yardage back; he's averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Travis Thomas has struggled, averaging just 1.2 yards per carry.
Linbackers 51 Reggie Carter and 55 Korey Bosworth each have 4 tackles for a loss, trailing only DE 44 Bruce Davis. UCLA's top three tacklers are defensive backs, which would normally be a good sign to opposing running backs. But the Bruins have had a very good run defense, holding opponents to only 89 yards per game.

UCLA Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

7 Ben Olson has established himself as UCLA's starter, but his numbers have been less than impressive. On an average day, Olson completes 16 of 30 passes for 230 yards, with a TD and an interception. He's completing only 51.6% of his passes this year. WR 1 Brandon Breazell is averaging 4-5 catches and 80 yards per game. Fellow WR 26 Joe Cowan and 9 Marcus Everett are the only other Bruins with double digit receptions. Cowan and 19 Dominique Johnson each have 2 TD receptions. There's definitely a pattern here: all of UCLA's reception leaders are wideouts; no tight ends, no backs.
Notre Dame is holding opponents to 145 passing yards per game. David Bruton, Tom Zbikowski, Darrin walls, and Kyle McCarthy each have an interception, and John Ryan leads the team with 1.5 sacks.

ND Pass Offense vs. UCLA Pass Defense

The only way Jimmy Clausen doesn't play is if he still can't plant his left foot comfortably. Classen and Evan Sharpley are each completing over 60% of their passes, for 164 yards per game. David Grimes, the team leader in catches with 15, is quesitonable for this game. That leaves George West (13 catches), John Carlson (12), and talented freshmen Robby Parris (12), Duval Kamara (11), and Golden Tate (3) to step up.
UCLA is giving up 273 passing yards per game, so you can definitely throw on them. But don't throw in the direction of CB 23 Trey Brown, who already has 3 interceptions. DE Bruce Davis leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Eleven Bruins have recorded at least a partial sack. The Irish offensive line will need to step it up in this one, and Clausen or Sharpley will need to remain on their toes. Considering Clausen's possible injuries and Sharpley's tendency to hold onto the ball too long, that could spell trouble once again for Notre Dame.

Special Teams

I'll stick to the big news here. FS 18 Matt Slater has an 85-yard kick return TD for the Bruins. For the Irish, Eric Maust has officially replaced Geoff Price at punter. Price isn't injured; it was a combination of Price's inconsistency and Maust's good play (43.7 yards per punt) that led to the change.

Look for a big game from Clausen, Parris, Kamara, Laws, Bruton.

ND 24, UCLA 21: UCLA's defense will give up some points. ND just has to stop their offense.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sixteen Discriminatory Major League Baseball Teams And The Proposed Compensatory Counterparts, In Increasing Volume Of Groups Discriminated Against

by Klondike, 2007 KankaNation Laetare recipient

Editor's Note: If you'd really rather see my Purdue wrapup, just scroll down.

MASCOT: A down-on-his-luck saxophonist.
HAT COLORS: Midnight blue with smoky white pinstripes.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Jefferson City Smoothies
MASCOT: A giant smoothie cup that carries around a huge plastic straw.
HAT COLORS: Soft, pastel orange with a cream-colored bill.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Montgomery Madres
MASCOT: The Swinging Nun.
HAT COLORS: Black with a white bill.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Portland Peasants
MASCOT: A gnarled, grubby man in tattered clothes with a garden hoe over his shoulder.
HAT COLORS: Mud brown.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Providence Midgets
MASCOT: A whole cheering squad of midgets.
HAT COLORS: Anything bright enough to help people notice them.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
MASCOT: Rally Monkey
HAT COLORS: Red with white details.

MASCOT: The color yellow.
HAT COLORS: Yellow pinstripes against a yellow background with yellow detailing.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Topeka Teetotalers
MASCOT: Eliot Ness
HAT COLORS: Milk-white with tea-brown and cranberry-juice-red highlights.

DISCRIMINATORY TEAM: Washington Nationals
MASCOT: Average Joe
HAT COLORS: Collar blue.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Cheyenne Only Children
MASCOT: A whiny, spoiled, bratty child.
HAT COLORS: Whatever the other team is wearing, only better.

MASCOT: John Wayne
HAT COLORS: White cowboy hats for home games, black cowboy hats for away games.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Columbia (SC) Confederates
MASCOT: A confederate soldier with accompanying cannon.
HAT COLORS: The Battle Flag of the Confederacy against a white background. Victory hats will have red bills.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Indianapolis Capitalist Sox
MASCOT: Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. Grant can make an appearance in clutch games.
HAT COLORS: Green with microprinting, holographic ink, and embedded security strips.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Oklahoma City Lazy Fat-Ass Couch Potatoes
MASCOT: A really fat guy that slumps on a couch in front of the dugout and eats Cheetos the whole game.
HAT COLORS: Potato-brown with Cheetos-orange details.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: San Juan Recording Industry Association of America
MASCOT: A lawyer.
HAT COLORS: Pale yellow with red and blue pinstripes, in the fashion of a pad of legal paper.

COMPENSATORY TEAM: Santa Fe Minority Sox
MASCOT: The collective fans in the stadium, being the best representatives of all that the world has to offer. Except for the white guys.
HAT COLORS: Every beautiful color in the spectrum, except white, somehow given precisely equal prominence.

All the best.

Purdue 33, Notre Dame 19

The Irish have played two good halves this year. Unfortunately, those two halves haven't come in the same game. Notre Dame spotted Purdue a 23-point lead, and try as they might, they just couldn't come back.

Quarterback: Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack wisely chose to shut down the run and force Jimmy Clausen to make plays. However, surprisingly, Spack put very little pressure on Clausen, and the freshman QB was able to make plays. Clausen completed 18 of 26 passes for 169 yards, with a TD and a pick, before leaving due to an injury. However, it probably wasn't the rib injury that knocked him out. Clausen also injured his left foot, and had trouble planting on it. This caused him to lose some touch on passes downfield.
Clausen was replaced by Evan Sharpley, who performed rather well, completing 16 of 26 passes for 208 yards, 2 TDs, and one interception. Despite what ESPN commentator Andre Ware said, there is no QB controversy. Both Irish passers played well, and the starting job next week will solely come down to Clausen's injury status.

Running Back: As mentioned above, Purdue tried to stuff the run and force the Notre Dame QBs to beat them. At halftime, Charlie Weis was asked what he planned to do to get the running game going, and he replied that he was going to do whatever it took to score, run or pass. With the passing game working, the running game was shelved. The Irish finished with 52 pass attempts and 26 rushes, including 2 sacks. Armando Allen and Junior Jabbie had the best days of any Irish rushers. Allen finished with 6 carries for 26 yards, and Jabbie 4 for 16.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp finished with 1 catch for 5 yards.

Receiver: After picking up 3 catches, David Grimes left with an injury. With Grimes out, the younger smurfs needed to step up, and they did. The headlines went to Golden Tate, who benefitted from Coach Weis' "If it works, keep going to it" philosophy. On three occasions, Tate streaked up the right sideline and displayed great hands for a reception. One of those catches came on a key fourth down, and another went for a touchdown. But with less aplomb, Robby Parris and Duval Kamara established themselves as future stars. Parris caught 7 passes for 93 yards, and Kamara added 6 receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. Congratulations to both Tate and Kamara on their first of many touchdown receptions.

Tight End: As the Irish have struggled on offense, John Carlson's draft stock has slipped. However, in this one, Carlson appeared to have gotten back on track. The fifth-year senior had 5 receptions for 30 yards and a brilliant touchdown.

O-Line: The line had their best performance of the season, as they gave up only 2 sacks, and the team put up 426 total yards of offense.

D-Line: Trevor Laws again had a solid day, with 6 tackles. Three of those stops were in the backfield, including one sack.

Linebacker: Purdue had quite a few big runs straight up the middle. But when the Boilers were stopped up the gut, it was probably Joe Brockington doing the stopping. Brockington finished with a team-high 9 tackles, including one in the backfield. John Ryan had his best game of the season, with 6 tackles, which included two for a loss, one being a sack.

Safety: It was a solid performance by backup safety Kyle McCarthy. McCarthy finished with 3 tackles and a key interception. Tom Zbikowski had an even bigger day, with 7 tackles and an interception of his own.

Cornerback: Ambrose Wooden, Terrail Lambert, and Darrin Walls each had 3 tackles, and Raeshon McNeil added a pass breakup.

Kicker: It was a tough day for the Irish placekickers. Brandon Walker had a field goal blocked and missed a PAT. Nate Whitaker replaced Walker and only made one of two PAT attempts.

Punter: Eric Maust punted for the Irish in this one. From what I could gather, Geoff Price was simply replaced due to inconsistency, no injury. At least, if Price is injured, no one is admitting it. Maust filled in admirably, averaging 44 yards per punt on 3 kicks.

Kick Returner: Armando Allen had the most returns for the Irish, averaging 20 yards per on 4 tries. His long was 33.

Punt Returner: Tom Zbikowski had only one punt return, for 6 yards.

Special Teams: The Boilermakers were not able to return a punt. They did average 20.8 yards per kickoff returns on 4 tries. The Irish field goal unit had trouble this Saturday. As mentioned above, a field goal was blocked, and Nate Whitaker's first PAT was missed after Evan Sharpley had trouble handling the snap.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007

Purdue Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Purdue has feasted on lesser opponents so far this season, so much so that their pass-happy offense is averaging 202.8 rushing yards per game. They're led by senior 24 Kory Sheets, who is averaging 25 carries, 94 yards, and a touchdown per game. Sheets is backed up by 25 Dan Dierking, who is averaging 6 carries and 39 yards per game. WR 9 Dorien Bryant has 6 carries through 4 games, and FB 44 Frank Halliburton has 3 rushes in as many games. QB 12 Curtis Painter has been credited with a total of 7 carries and 13 yards this season.
Notre Dame's run defense has been porous, to say the least, giving up 232.8 yards per game on the ground. Though the Boilermakers like to pass, Sheets and company are probably licking their chops at those numbers.

ND Rush Offense vs. Purdue Rush Defense

Notre Dame is finally starting to establish itself on the ground. James Aldridge is the leading rusher, averaging 8-9 carries and 43 yards per game, and more importantly 4.9 yards per carry. Armando Allen is averaging 6 carries and 18 yards per game, but was not seen much against Michigan State. Robert Hughes appears to have established himself as the short-yardage back; he's picked up 33 yards on 6 carries this season. Fullback Asaph Schwapp has carried twice without any success, and any positive scrambles made by QB Jimmy Clausen are overshadowed by his sack numbers.
Purdue hasn't exactly spectacular against the run, as they are giving up 147 yards per game on the ground. Linebackers 59 Stanford Keglar and 17 Josh Ferguson have combined for 48 tackles, and are second and third on the team, respectively, in that category. Fellow LB 42 Anthony Heygood leads the team with 5 tackles for a loss. Surprisingly, none of those five stops have been sacks. The Irish would love to establish the run and build on the small success they had against MSU; Purdue should give them that chance.

Purdue Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

Curtis Painter has put up scary numbers in his first four games. His average day consists of completing about 29 of 41 passes for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's an average day! Painter has completed a staggering 68.7% of his passes thus far, and has only one interception. Dorien Bryant has been Painter's main target; Bryant is averaging 8 catches and 92 yards per game. Tight end 28 Dustin Keller is averaging 4 catches and 70 yards per game, and WR 21 Greg Orton is averaging 4 for 45. 1 Selwyn Lymon and Kory Sheets are also averaging 3-4 catches per game; Lymon for 36 yards and Sheets for 22. Keller leads the team with 4 TD receptions, and Bryant is right behind with 3. Orton, Lymon, and TE 85 Kyle Adams have two each. In other words, WATCH FOR THE TIGHT ENDS IN THE RED ZONE!
Notre Dame's pass defense has been respectable, giving up 119 yards per game. But again, why pass against ND when you can just run? Darrin Walls and David Bruton each have an interception, and Bruton, Kerry Neal, and Morrice Richardson each have a sack. Those singular interceptions and sacks both lead the team.

ND Pass Offense vs. Purdue Pass Defense

Jimmy Clausen is growing, slowly but surely. His average day consists of completing 10 of 17 passes for 76 yards. A pittance compared to Painter's numbers, but they could be worse. David Grimes is ND's leading receiver, averaging 3 catches and 21 yards per game. Armando Allen and George West are each averaging 2 catches per game; Robby Parris and Duval Kamara are each averaging more than one a game.
Purdue is giving up a respectable 227 passing yards per game. CB 5 Terell Vinson leads the team with 29 tackles. Safety 23 Justin Scott's 2 picks lead the Boilermakers. DE 32 Cliff Avril has a team-high two sacks.

Special Teams

14 Chris Summers is Purdue's field goal kickers. He's 4 for 6 on the season, but both of those misses have come from 40+ yards. For Notre Dame, Brandon Walker is still 2 for 2 from inside 30 yards, while Nate Whitaker has missed a 50-yarder.
11 Jared Armstrong punts for the Boilermakers. He's averaging 4 punts per game, and 39 yards per punt. For the Irish, Geoff Price has been very good and very bad. He's now averaging 41 yards per punt. Backup Eric Maust has now punted 4 times, and is averaging 43.5 yards per boot.
Dorien Bryant is the do-everything man for Purdue. He's returned 10 kicks for an average of 35.6 yards per. He also has a 91 yard TD. Nate Whitaker is now getting 61 yards per kickoff. But the Irish are giving up 27 yards per return, meaning opponents start at the 36 on average.
Golden Tate and Armando Allen now share kick return duty for the Irish. Tate is averaging 24.9 yards per return with a long of 40; Allen, 19.3 yards per return with a long of 25. Chris Summers kicks off for the Boilermakers. He's averaging just 53.9 yards per kick, but Purdue's coverage team has held solid at 18 yards per return. That gives opponents an average start at the 34. Hopefully, that field position will give the Irish the little extra it needs.
Bryant has also returned 4 punts. He's averaging 11.5 yards per return with a long of 24. Notre Dame's coverage team is giving up a so-so 10.9 yards per punt return.
ND's Tom Zbikowski is still averaging 14.4 yards per punt return, with a long of 47. Purdue's punt coverage team has good, giving up just 7.7 yards per return.

Look for a big game from Aldrige, Hughes, Grimes, Trevor Laws, Pat Kuntz, Bruton.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Michigan State 31, Notre Dame 14
or: The Charlie Weis Fact Sheet

"They played the way they did in the first half because of the full-contact practice. But... they played the way they did in the second half because of the full-contact practice." - Mike

"You gotta believe. This school was founded on faith and on belief. I told you last week how when Notre Dame burned down, Father Sorin said the mistake we made was that we didn't build it big enough. Everything here at Notre Dame has been done on faith and a commitment to excellence. A commitment to each other. At the luncheon yesterday I was asked what Notre Dame meant to me. One, it means religion. Two, it means family. Where people care about you. Not just because you win or because things go well, but they genuinely care. The other thing it means to me is a set of standards, a commitment. In 1986, people were saying Notre Dame would never win again. We had a group of guys that wanted to win but didn't know how. Then we progressed to the point where we had guys that wanted to win, knew how to win, then we progressed to the point where we have a group of guys that know how to win, but we sometimes don't exhibit it. That's a thing of the past. We're not going down defending anything. We're going out to fight for it, to compete for it. Nobody gives you anything in this world. The people can give you money, can give you wealth, can give you fame. The one thing nobody in this world can give you, men, is respect. The self-respect you have for yourself, the way you play the game, and the way you believe. The way you do things. This is a game of respect. You are Notre Dame. You are special. You represent Notre Dame. You represent everyone that came before you, and everyone that'll come after you. At Notre Dame there's a spirit. The spirit is something that's within you. And you gotta listen to that spirit, you gotta fight for it, and you gotta believe." - Lou Holtz

A new reader on the message board asked why no one seems to be calling for Charlie Weis's job, and why Notre Dame was so quick to fire Ty Willingham. I pulled up the Ty Willingham Fact Sheet not as another rationalization of Ty's firing. Instead, I'm using it to determine if and when Coach Weis should be put on the proverbial hot seat.

1. Tyrone Willingham has lost 8 games by at least 3 touchdowns. By comparison, Bob Davie lost 4 games by 3 touchdowns and Gerry Faust lost 3 games by 3 touchdowns. That means that in 3 years Tyrone Willingham has lost more games by 3 touchdowns than Bob Davie and Gerry Faust did in their 10 years combined.

Counting a 20-point loss to USC last year, Coach Weis has three such losses in each of the last two years. That ties Davie and Faust's totals.

2. Notre Dame was shut out by at least 30 points twice in 2003. The last time that happened was 1904.

It's already happened once in '07, and there are still eight games remaining.

3. In Tyrone Willingham’s first 3 years, Notre Dame has lost by at least 30 points 5 times. For perspective, in the previous 40 seasons (1961-2000), Notre Dame lost by at least 30 points a total of 4 times. Bob Davie only lost by 30 points 1 time, as did Gerry Faust.

There have been two such losses so far this year.

4. The 38-12 loss to 6-6 Syracuse was Notre Dame’s first 3 touchdown loss to an unranked team since 1960.

It's still early, but the Georgia Tech and Michigan losses both fall into this category.

5. From the 44-13 loss to Southern Cal in 2002 until the 20-17 loss to a 5-6 Brigham Young team, Notre Dame lost 10 games over a 15 game stretch. That was the worst 15 game stretch since 1960.

Notre Dame is 8-7 in their last 15 games, the worst 15 game stretch of Coach Weis' tenure.

6. Tyrone Willingham is the first Notre Dame coach since Joe Kuharich (17-23) to have fewer wins by 3 touchdowns (5) than he had losses by 3 touchdowns (8). Bob Davie had twice as many 3 touchdown wins as losses (8 wins, 4 losses). Gerry Faust had over 4 times as many (14 wins, 3 losses).

Coach Weis has 10 wins of 20+ points, and three more wins by 19 points. As noted above, Weis' teams have 6 losses by 20 or more.

7. In 2003, Tyrone Willingham became the first Notre Dame coach to have consecutive 4 TD losses to Southern Cal. In 2004, he had his 3rd in a row.

In the last two years, Notre Dame has lost to Michigan by a combined 62 points.

8. Tyrone Willingham has been a Notre Dame coach for 3 years out of the school’s 117 years (2.6% of the seasons) and has coached in 36 of Notre Dame’s 1,106 games (3.3%), however, he has coached in 23.8% (5 out of 21) of Notre Dame’s losses by at least 30 points.

Weis has overseen two 30 point losses, out of 23 for the program. That's 8.7%.

9. After starting out 8-0, Tyrone Willingham’s record since has been 13-15.

As stated above, the worst stretch of Weis' coaching career is his current 8-7 run.

10. When Tyrone Willingham took over, Notre Dame had the #1 all time winning percentage, with a record of 781-247-42 (.749), ahead of Michigan’s 813-265-36 (.746). At the end of the regular season of 2004, Michigan now has the #1 all time winning percentage, with a record of 842-274-36 (.747) while Notre Dame is #2 with a record of 802-261-42 (.745).

Michigan still has the lead, but it has shrunk to a mere .001, at .744 to .743. Obviously, though, both teams have slipped since the original fact sheet was written.

It's probably obvious at this point, but Coach Weis really needs to cut down on the blowout losses. He has had more big wins, but that doesn't serve to excuse or cancel out the big losses. But looking at criterion #1, Weis is in the same category as Faust and Davie, and that's not a good place to be.

Faust, Davie, and Willingham were all asked to make changes among their assistants following bad years. Coming into this year, Coach Weis brought in a new defensive coordinator. Presumably, more will be on the way after this year. If not, Weis may be the one moving on.

Finally, it's fairly easy to recruit following winning seasons. The difficult task is recruiting after losing seasons, or - Our Lady forbid - multiple consecutive losing seasons. Coach Weis' first recruiting challenge presumably comes this offseason, and it will be followed closely by the Irish faithful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007
Issue 4: Michigan State

MSU Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

Once again, MSU's backfield feature some familiar faces. 23 Javon Ringer and 30 Jehuu Caulcrick have shared the load this year for a team that is averaging 194.7 yards per game on the ground. Ringer has the slight advantage in carries per game (18 to 15) and yards per game (85 to 72). But Caulcrick has been the man in goal line situations, scoring 6 of MSU's 8 rushing TDs. 20 AJ Jimmerson and 28 Andre Anderson have each carried the ball at least 8 times in relief duties. In addition, WRs 5 Devin Thomas and 6 Mark Dell each have multiple carries. FB 45 Andrew Hawken only has one rush on the season, for four yards. New starting QB 12 Brian Hoyer has a combined -31 rushing yards, so it doesn't look like he's much of a threat to run.
For all that you can say about the offense being unable to stay on the field, and the good rushing attacks faced, there's still no excuse for the Irish defense giving up 237 rushing yards per game. With a new quarterback and two experienced rushers, the Spartans would be more than happy to run the ball down ND's throat all day long. While the Irish defensive line has played decently this year, it's time for the linebackers to step up as a unit.

ND Rush Offense vs. MSU Rush Defense

Um, yeah. James Aldridge and Armando Allen are the closest ND has to a rushing attack right now. Aldridge is averaging 5-6 carries and 22 yards per game, and 3.9 yards per rush. Armando Allen is averaging 6-7 carries and 20 yards per game, and 3.0 yards per rush. But both can only do so much unless the line creates holes from them.
As usual, the Spartans are rather solid against the run, giving up 88.7 yards per game. However, they're only returning two starters along their front seven. Linebackers 43 Eric Gordon and 53 Greg Jones are tied for 3rd on the team with 18 tackles apiece; the pair have combined for 5.5 tackles for a loss.

MSU Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

With a new QB and two experienced rushers, MSU has wisely gone with a 1.6:1 rush/pass ratio this year. Still, when Brian Hoyer has had to pass, he's been very effective. Hoyer's, average day consists of completing 15 of 25 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, with maybe an interception thrown in there. (Hoyer was a year ahead of Robby Parris at St. Ignatius in Cleveland, so I'm assuming that he was Parris' high school QB. Oh, and on behalf of F-Bomb, go St. Ed's.) Devin Thomas is far and away the Spartans top receiver, averaging 4 catches and 105 yards per game. Those numbers are aided by a 76-yards touchdown reception, one of Thomas' two scores on the year. When Hoyer is in a pinch, he likes too loft the ball towards athletic 6'6" TE 80 Kellen Davis in the seam. Davis is averaging just over 2 catches and 35 yards per game, and has a TD reception on the year. Javon Ringer, Mark Dell, and WR 84 Deon Curry are each averaging 2 catches per game and 16-20 yards per game.
Presumably, Terrail Lambert will draw Thomas this week. But how will ND choose to guard Davis? With the 6'2 safety David Bruton, or with 6'3 former safety Anthony Vernaglia. And how will that assigment affect the run defense?

ND Pass Offense vs. MSU Pass Defense

Jimmy Clausen's average day consists of completing 10 or 11 of 18 attempts for 84 yards, and perhaps an interception. Armando Allen has been his primary receiver out of the backfield, averaging 3 catches and 15 yards per game. But David Grimes has quietly tied Allen for the team lead in catches (9); Grimes averages 19.7 receiving yards per game. George West, John Carlson, Robby Parris, and Duval Kamara are all averaging more than one reception and 13-24 yards per game.
The good news for Irish fans is that Michigan State's two leading tacklers are a cornerback (38 Kendell Davis-Clark, 22 tackles) and a safety (13 Travis Key, 19). The bad news is that DE 94 Jonal Saint-Dic has 5 sacks, and 6 overall TFL. LB Greg Jones has added 2.5 sacks. TE Kellen Davis is sometimes used as a rush end, and he has 2 sacks on the season. S 21 Otis Wiley leads the team with two interceptions.

Special Teams

14 Brett Swenson is back as MSU's field goal kicker. He's 3 for 5 on the year, missing in the 20-29 and 40-49 ranges. For Notre Dame, Brandon Walker is 2 for 2 from inside 30 yards, while Nate Whitaker has missed a 50-yarder.
Freshman 18 Aaron Bates is the new Spartans punter. He's averaging 5 punts per game, and 39 yards per punt. Six of his punts have been fair caught. For the Irish, Geoff Price is now averaging 8 punts per game, and 42.3 yards per punt.
Star WR Devin Thomas also returns kicks for the Spartans. On 8 attempts, he's averaging 29.5 yards per return with a long of 39 Nate Whitaker is now getting 61 yards per kickoff. But the Irish are giving up 25 yards per return, meaning opponents start at the 34 on average.
It looks like Golden Tate may have one the primary kick return job for the Irish, although Armando Allen still has the most returns of anyone on the team. Tate is averaging 26.7 yards per return with a long of 40; Allen, 19 yards per return with a long of 25. 15 Todd Boleski is MSU's kickoff specialist. He's averaging just under 65 yards per kick, and MSU's coverage team is surrendering 22.6 yards per return. That gives opponents an average start at the 28.
Receivers Mark Dell and 18 Terry Love have each returned 2 punts for the Spartans. Dell is averaging 1.5 yards per return; Love 12.5. Notre Dame's coverage team is giving up a medicre 12.2 yards per punt return.
ND's Tom Zbikowski is averaging a decent 14.4 yards per punt return, with a long of 47. MSU's punt coverage team has been very good, giving up just 7 yards per return.

Look for a big game from Clausen, Parris, the O-Line (especially Tom Bemenderfer, whose older brother is a very cool guy), Trevor Laws, Pat Kuntz, Vernaglia.

ND 20, MSU 17: MSU is decent, but they're nowhere near the level of talent ND has seen to start the season. The Spartans have their flaws, and the Irish need to exploit them. It may take bonus football, but Notre Dame will finally get the job done.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Content Dump

There is a brief Michigan wrapup below, if you really want to read it. Otherwise, check out the random cleaning out of KankaNation's inbox...

First, courtesy Andy Gray and SI on Campus, a tailgate report card from the Georgia Tech game.

Second, Juiced sports takes on a Plain Dealer sports mailbag column.

Third, a few Fire Mark May-esque celebrity blogs form Yardbarker.

Finally, catching up on the Sports Minutes, again.

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Harrah's has announced that it intends to build an arena in Las Vegas capable of housing an NBA team. Tim Donaghy has already volunteered to referee all 41 home games.

The Houston Rockets have made a contract offer to defensive specialist Dikembe Mutombo. The offer is for one year or six points, whichever comes first.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will be a cast member of Dancing With the Stars. We're not sure how he'll be able to stay on his feet while they're constantly in his mouth.

A judge has set bond at $5 million each for the two men accused of robbing Antoine Walker's home. Ironically, that's almost as much money as Walker stole from the Heat last season.

Barry Bonds was honored in San Francisco when the mayor presented him with the key to the city. Given Bonds' popularity, we're surprised he didn't just leave the key under the mat. Next up is a visit to the Wizard to finally get a heart.

Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelpon invented a new pitch: a combination cutter and slider that he calls a slutter. The pitch is also known as "The Paris Hilton."

After being cut by the Padres, David Wells has joined the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are looking forward to increased sales of Dodger Dogs. However, fans are complaining about the loss of a handicapped parking spot.

And Gary Sheffield will miss several games with a sore shoulder. Sheffield has already come out against the shoulder for being racist.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

We can't predict the future, but we'd like to wish Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr good luck on the new job he'll probably have soon.

NFL coaches Mike Nolan and Jack Del Rio will be outfitted exclusively by suit maker Joseph Abboud this year. Unfortunately for Bill Belichick, Abboud does not create oversized sweatshirts.

The son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid has been charged with drugs and DUI. Who does this kid think he is, a football player?

Speaking of drunk, the Tampa City Council will not allow the Buccaneers to sell hard liquor at Raymond James Stadium. Clearly, the city council has never had to sit through an entire Buccs game.

Tough break for the Minnesota Timberwolves. A bum shoulder from a jet skiing accident could cause Mark Madsen to miss three months. Only three months. The Wolves are currently trying to negotiate a torn ACL.

In other injury news, one of Canada's top gymnasts broke both his legs while practicing, forever silencing anyone who'd ever wished him luck.

And 1967 Masters champion Gay Brewer died at age 75, still hating his parents. But ironically loving beer. Gay Brewer. We had no idea Mike Piazza had been traded to Milwaukee.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

The Milwaukee Brewers are making postseason tickets available to their fans for the first time in 15 years. Milwaukee fans will have to dress for the cold because hell has frozen over.

How bad are the Pittsburgh Pirates? A day after the Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $2.8 million, it batted fifth.

A Cubs fan built a one-third-size replica of Wrigley Field so he'll only have to wait one-third of a century for a World Series. Wow. You can really get a lot done when you're not distracted by women or friends.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is on a five-city tour of Asia. That's how far he has to go to find people who still like him.

Speaking of people who don't like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal plans to return to the Heat after shedding over 120 pounds of useless weight this off-season. His ex-wife.

Chivas USA Soccer has hired former NHL and NBA exec Shawn Hunter to help increase home attendance, by one.

A neurologist has concluded that former WWE star Chris Benoit suffered from brain damage. The brain damage was brought on by years and years of watching wrestling.

A punter who was cut by the Patriots was charged with assaulting his own father later that night. Convicting him will be easy, since Bill Belichick probably taped it.

And world champion Tyson Gay has decided to pull out of the Golden League 100 meters due to fatigue. Gay was exhausted after years spent running from his last name.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

An Open Letter to Appalachian State Fans

Congratulations! Last week, you pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports. Since then, your merchandise has been on back order, your website crashed due to all the traffic, and your 16,000 seat stadium is sold out for the first time. Way to go. You've really put Boone, North Carolina on the map. Enjoy it, because any day now, you'll wake up and remember that you're in Boone, North Carolina.

It is true that you won a football game. But consider that tomorrow and for the rest of your college career, you will be attending classes on a remote mountain top while the Wolverines will be in Ann Arbor, home to the largest population of hot slutty chicks north of the Mason-Dixon. Ann Arbor has so many hot chicks you could still get laid if you were a paraplegic midget wearing an Appalachian State shirt. Seriously, if you can't get any in Ann Arbor, cut it off.

Actually, looks like Boone is getting a hot chick, because your rigorous admission standards allowed that idiot miss South Carolina to enroll there next fall. That's right - all it takes to go to Appalachian State is a complete disregard for knowledge and the utter inability to make sense. The Mountaineers may have won in Ann Arbor, but they're going to lose in South Africa and the Iraq and everywhere like such as. I'm surprised she can spell Appalachian State, let alone enroll. It's nice that you put Boone on the map - now if only more U.S. Americans had maps. That girl is so dumb your football players are going to end up tutoring her.

Yes, you had your way with the Michigan Defense like they were an attractive cousin after a box of wine. But the reason everyone is going so crazy over your win is because normally you suck. You're one of the best teams that the I-AA subdivision has to offer. Which makes you the 121st best team in the country. Yay. Look, the Kansas City Royals have a team MVP every year, but you don't see him bragging. The only thing this victory did was prove that moonshine just might make you invincible.

Yes, you took down Goliath. Congratulations David, but you're still I-AA. That's three steps up from intramurals. It was great that you won the game - and maybe you'll do it again when you go back to playing community colleges. That blowout this weekend against Lenoir-Rhyne College was something. All 16,000 people in attendance must have really enjoyed it. 16,000. That's adorable. More people go to hockey games.

Michigan may have been ranked number five when you beat them. But this weekend's loss to Oregon clearly shows that Michigan was not a true number five. I wish you were playing USC this Saturday so you could be knocked back down a peg. You'd fare as well against the Trojans as Miss South Carolina would on Jeopardy. Forget Jeopardy - that girl wouldn't make the cut for Wheel of Fortune.

"I'd like to solve the puzzle Pat. Is it 'The Iraq'?"

You've got two alumni in the NFL right now. Michigan had more than that go in one round of this year's draft. Michigan has won eleven national championships and your division isn't even eligible to compete for one. Michigan could lose every game for the rest of the season and they'd still be the winningest college football team in history. Remember what you were doing last year when Michigan was playing in the Rose Bowl? Watching the Rose bowl. Yes, you're the two-time reigning I-AA champions. I'm sure Lenoir-Rhyne College is jealous.

Yes, it was embarrassing for Michigan to lose to you. But that's because you're not an actual college football team. Were you normally any good, that game wouldn't have even made sportscenter. If the Knicks lost to the Rutgers women's basketball team, it'd be a big story, too. The headlines would all read "Nappy Headed Hos Lose to Rutgers."

Everyone cares because you suck so much. So bask in your temporary non-suckiness because pretty soon you will fade into the answer to a trivia question. Maybe Disney will make a movie about your improbable ability to win a pre-season non-conference exhibition game. It could star Hannah Montana as Miss South Carolina, and Cuba Gooding Jr. as the retarded fan who thinks this game actually matters in the long run.

Enjoy the moment, because that's what this is - a moment. When it's all over, you'll have to be content with going back to being simply a good academic school. With your classes in Ainglish and the History and everywhere like such as.