Are People Actually Upset That Ohio State Didn’t Make the Playoff?

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So the College Football Playoff foursome was announced yesterday, and, even though I’m sure you’ve heard every possible take about it, but I just had to throw my two cents out because, well, I’m very narcissistic and think you care about my opinion. Anyway, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama all made it, putting an end to the weeklong “Alabama or Ohio State?” debate that saw the good people of America be held hostage by two of the three worst college football fanbases (if only Penn State was in the mix, then it could have been the unholy trinity). Most reaction I’ve seen has been pretty measured and reasonable, but I’ve seen a couple thinkpieces that make me want to bang my head against the wall until I think like a retired NFL player. It’s baffling to me that anyone thinks Ohio State should have been in.

Listen, it’s obviously an imperfect system. Even though the playoff had been gathering momentum for years, when they introduced it three years ago it kind of felt rushed. Well, now that we’ve seen it works it’s time to do some tinkering. I’m not the first and won’t be the last to say expanding to 8 teams is necessary. The Power 5 conference champions then three at large teams, including any undefeated mid-major team. If this year’s playoff was Clemson-Oklahoma-Georgia-Alabama-Ohio State-USC-UCF-Wisconsin I think everyone would be happy. But only four teams make it, and it should be the four best teams. Period. Alabama is better than Ohio State. They just are. Yes, Ohio State is hot. But they also lost by 15 to Oklahoma, not the worst result ever, and by 31 to Iowa. 31!!!!! TO IOWA!!!! Iowa is terrible. They won one game after beating Ohio State. Outside Clemson’s bizarre loss to Syracuse it might be the single worst loss of the season by any team. Iowa has, what, five or six guys that’ll play in the NFL? Ohio State has five or six first round picks! They should have destroyed Iowa. They should have destroyed Wisconsin, but stopped trying after they went up 14-0. How can you look at this team and say “yeah, they’re definitely one of the best four. Have been all season?” Alabama was literally ranked ahead of them every single week. Alabama has more talent than everyone but Clemson. Did they struggle down the stretch? Sure. Did they have a brutal schedule? You betcha. Do they always get the benefit of the doubt? Yes, and for good reason. Would you be surprised if Alabama won the title? I wouldn’t. Honestly whoever wins the Sugar Bowl is winning the championship. Remember when Ohio State played Clemson last year? Clemson won 31-0. The B1G stinks. Ohio State played a soft-ass schedule and somehow lost two games. Alabama played a gauntlet of a schedule and only lost once. Pretty cut and dry, if you ask me. Yeah, Alabama didn’t make their conference championship game, but why should that really matter? Not playing that extra game didn’t turn them from the second best team in the country into the fifth. That’s asinine. They’re there because the deserve it, end of story. Now expand it to eight so we can debate who the ninth best team in the country is.

Also, for what it’s worth, USC is better than Ohio State and should have been getting the hype Ohio State got.

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I Would Like to Wish Everyone a Merry Hawaiian Christmas!

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Mele Kalikimaka, everybody! What a beautiful day to celebrate one of the most important days on the calendar. Hawaiian Christmas. What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? That’s a shame. It’s a truly wonderful holiday. A joyous occasion where we, the faithful public, celebrate the birth of the White Kahuna. The one sent from above to dazzle us with pinpoint accuracy and a mastery of the Run and Shoot offense. Today, we celebrate the birth of the greatest college football player of all time, Colt Brennan.

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Now, a short trip down Google Lane will tell you that his true birthday is August 16th. Well, what holiday worth it’s salt takes place in the middle of the week? That’s why Hawaiian Christmas takes place on the closest Friday to August 16th, so you’ll always have a long weekend spent living on Island Time, to go with the quiet midweek vigil you hold for the true date. And if the 16th falls on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday? Well, that’s grounds to take the whole week off, friend. Hawaiian Christmas is a time for leisure, merriment, and goodwill towards men. Your boss will understand.

The most important question facing a Hawaiian Christmas neophyte is, of course, how to celebrate. It’s quite simple really. The first step is to put on your finest Hawaiian linens. The more complex the pattern, the more bold the color scheme, the better. I’m partial to tropical flowers, birds of paradise, sea turtles, and perhaps fruit, myself, but Hawaiian Christmas is not a time for criticism. Wear what you will, as long as it’s in the spirit of things. Grab yourself a mai tai or two (more on that later), and settle in on your most relaxing beach chair for the most important part of any Hawaiian Christmas, watching a ton of Colt Brennan highlights. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen first.

You might need to take a cold shower if you get too deep into the rabbit hole, but hopefully you have access to a beach and can take a quick dip in the water. While his highlight videos are undoubtedly mesmerizing, don’t get so engrossed you lose track of time. Hawaiian Christmas dinner takes a while to cook when done right, and you certainly don’t want to lose track of time. While our savior typically feasted on helpless WAC opponents, cannibalism is unfortunately frowned upon during Hawaiian Christmas. So, instead, prepare a traditional Kalua pig. You’ll need a full pig and a pretty big pit and a bunch of hot stones, and you’ll need to learn a difficult and very specific cooking method that you’ll probably never use in any other scenario, but it’s worth it to impress your friends. Gather your family and any neighbors too lazy to cook their own pig and sit around the fire pit telling tales of gridiron glory. Traditionally, this is also where you engage in the ceremonial Hair Bleaching, so you too can look like the Heisman Finalist himself.tumblr_lmkx4zlahb1qapl86o1_500

Most pigs are probably going to be about 260 pounds, so when you add in all the tropical-themed side dishes, you’ll have plenty of leftovers! The White Kahuna isn’t an advocate for moderation.

Speaking of moderation, the most controversial part of the holiday comes at night. Here at the Brian’s Den, we would never dream of condoning drinking and driving. It’s a reckless, dangerous, and foolhardy decision. But, as with all great heroes, Colt Brennan is a flawed man. His DUI arrest is a dark mark on his otherwise spotless record. To walk in his path is to admit your own weaknesses and faults, which is the first step to personal growth. A true celebrator of Hawaiian Christmas knows how to honor the White Kahuna and keep the non believers safe, so find an abandoned patch of beach, woods, field, anywhere where you won’t have any company. Get a golf cart and your closest friends, and just drive around. If you’ve been observing Hawaiian Christmas customs all day, you should be sufficiently impaired. It’s a great time that I officially condemn, but it’s better than driving your actual car. Feel free to engage in golf-cart centric shenanigans into the wee hours of the morning, just make sure to be wearing your Hawaiian Christmas garb, so any passing law enforcement officers will know you’re merely recognizing the significance of the day.

The last part of any good Hawaiian Christmas comes the next morning. All you need to do is fail to make the NFL. Easy enough on paper, but you’d be surprised how many people mess it up. Now, go out there and have the best Hawaiian Christmas you’ve ever had. Mele Kalikimaka, indeed.

Marvin Bagley Reclassifies and Will Attend Duke Next Season, Celtics to Win 2018-19 NBA Championship

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Huge news day for college basketball yesterday. Not only did Jim Calhoun throw his name back out there, but 2018 top recruit Marvin Bagley III decided to reclassify and attend Duke this upcoming season. Duke now enters the season as the clear number one team and is probably going to win the championship, unless they wind up choking again in the tournament/Coach K decides he needs another surgery and takes a few months off, ruining team chemistry but preserving his record. Oh, well. If Duke didn’t win every once in a while, they wouldn’t be Duke anymore. They’re not really Duke, anymore, anyway. All these fancy one and done guys even though Coach K has always preached against one and dones and praised four year guys. Funny how his legendary morals seem to change whenever he finds a way to benefit from something new. Odd how that works out.

Anyway, Bagley’s a stud. The ultimate modern day big man, he’s being called the best prospect since Anthony Davis. He’s a freak athlete, he can shoot, he can handle the ball, and he’s 6’11”. Seems like a decent combination of skills to have. If only there was an NBA team that was one guy away from winning the next five championships. Oh, wait, there is! And, as fortune should have it, the Celtics could theoretically end up with the first two picks in the draft next year, barring unexpected leaps in performance from the Nets and Lakers. I was already gearing up for the Celtics to get previous top prospect Michael Porter, Jr., but now they’ll get Porter and Bagley? Whooooo, baby. Now that LeBron and Kyrie have both feet out the door in Cleveland, I can’t see a realistic scenario where the Celtics don’t at least make the Finals in perpetuity. What a time to be a Celtics fan. Think of everything they’ve got going for them. Top pick Markelle Fultz The NBA’s best guard defender Avery Bradley A great coach and a million young guys that all play the same position. Can’t beat that. Hope Marvin likes green.

Jim Calhoun Hints He Might Want Back In

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source– Former UConn men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, a Hall of Famer, may be coming out of retirement.

He would not say where, but multiple sources said he has had serious discussions with the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford about its new men’s basketball program and has been offered the job.

“I’ve got a couple of other things in the works, one involving basketball, which I’m intrigued by,” Calhoun said. “It’s coaching.”

But this appears to be serious. St. Joseph is starting a Division III men’s basketball program, to begin play in 2018, and posted an opening for a head coach in late June. Calhoun would only say that the school was local, but sources confirmed it is St. Joseph. A decision could come within a week.

I realize this might be more relevant to people in my neck of the woods, but anytime Jim Calhoun is trying to get back in the mix, I’ve got to give my two cents. As a notable UConn graduate (they’ve yet to update the Wikipedia page yet), Jim Calhoun is my guy. I loved the old UConn basketball teams (they were pretty much the reason I went there), he was still the coach my freshman year when they won the title, and he built the team that won my senior year. So, yeah, I have Jim to thank for a lot of happy memories. I still remember how he walked to the bench before home games. The locker room tunnel was on the opposite corner, so he had to walk all the way around the court to get to his seat. The whole time, he’d just walk and wave to the students. He walked like if you put a frog on it’s hind legs, which made it better. And you could always hear him scream at the players no matter how loud the crowd was, which was a nice touch. I fully support any school that wants to get Jim back out there.

If he really is going to this DIII school, all I’ve got to say is that I never actually played athletics. Hard to believe, I know, but I’ve got all four years of eligibility left. I think I could average 8-10 points per game in DIII. Add in like 5 dimes and 6 boards. I’d get to the line a lot and wouldn’t be afraid to commit hard fouls to send a message. What I’m trying to say is that I should probably be getting recruited by University of St. Joseph right now. I’d be a pretty easy get. I’m not swimming in offers right now. As long as I get a sweet illegal benefits package I’m in. No one investigates DIII, so just throw a bunch of money and cars at DII talent and watch the wins pile up. Knowing Jim, He’ll have USJ up to DI in like, five years. By then, a crop of his old players’ offspring might be ripe for recruiting. Get Ray Allen’s kid, Rip Hamilton’s kid, Cliff Robinson’s kid, Donyell Marshall’s kid, hopefully he lasts long enough to get Charlie Villanueva’s kid, too. We could be looking at a new college basketball power in the making. Or just a way for a retired legend to spend his weekends. One or the other.

6’4″, 286lb “8th Grader” Gets Football Scholarship Offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Has Yet to Produce Birth Certificate

source– Some college football programs will make offers to middle school prospects to gain attention on a national level.

It appears to be much more than that in the case of 6-foot-4, 286-pound Jaheim Oatis.

According to a tweet posted Friday by Oatis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama have made scholarship offers to the soon-to-be eighth-grader from Columbia, Mississippi.

Alright, I think we can drop the charade, here. We’re in a Safe Space for Free Thinking, so we don’t really have to play along with this. This kid isn’t in 8th grade. He just isn’t. He might technically be in 8th grade, but this kid isn’t 14:

No matter what forged birth certificate or altered class photos or anything they trot out, I’m not going to be fooled. You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to get an age scandal past me, and sorry folks, but this one didn’t work. Not 14.

Now that we’ve gotten past the obvious, I have to commend Alabama here. This is why they’ll always stay on top. Having 28-year-old grown men as freshmen gives them that extra advantage they need to dominate the SEC. Giving someone who should be in the prime of his NFL career another four years of eligibility is an ingenious move. Don’t know why everyone doesn’t just do this. Instead of filling the locker room with scrawny 19-year-olds, just put together a whole team of Danny Almontes. Seems like a foolproof strategy. Just find all the best prospects in the country, bring them down to backwoods Alabama, feed them steroids some good Southern cooking, and have them train at some “middle school”/football lab and bam, you’ve magically discovered the newest “8th grade” phenom who’s ready to play for you when he turns 25. I don’t see any flaws there. As long as all the food and facilities are paid for by an “independent” third party, it’s surely 100% legal, too. And only Alabama has the stones to pull it off. Makes me sad for the state of college football. Now you’ve got to start asking if Alabama Football is bad for the game.

I’d like to thank all the participant’s of Last Night’s National Championship Game for Getting Uconn-Butler off the Hook

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Unfortunately for my eyes, I watched every second of last night’s National Championship Game, the culmination of the 2017 edition of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Before I get into my three main takes from last night, I should probably congratulate the scrappy upstarts from the University of North Carolina for bringing some rare glory to their small-time basketball program. For the vast majority of this season they were the best team, and the best team doesn’t always win the NCAA Tournament. In fact, you could easily say Gonzaga was the second best team all year, and it’s even rarer for the two best teams to meet for the championship. So I have no issue with a UNC win (even though I was rooting for the Zags). But that game was very very very bad.

One of the happiest nights of my life was April 4th, 2011. It was eight months into my freshman year at the University of Connecticut, and the men’s basketball team defeated Butler to win the National Championship. I can still remember the pure joy, the unadulterated ecstasy. I could take pride in my school, in my team, and (for just about the last time) my life choices. That night was even the first time I saw a car get flipped over. That’s an important time in a man’s life, and for years, everyone else just took a giant dump on it because the game was “low scoring,” and “ugly,” and “unwatchable,” and “the worst championship game ever.” Well, thanks to the gift and curse that is the modern social media news cycle, I can officially enjoy that memory again because no one will remember how shitty that game was after watching last night’s abomination. The first half was perfectly fine. It had a good pace, people were making (some) shots, the game had legitimate flow. But then the second half happened. Every two seconds a foul was called. Gonzaga’s entire front line was in foul trouble within the first five minutes of real time after halftime. Everything needed to be reviewed and every possession needed to have some kind of stoppage. I lost count of how many dumb turnover’s both teams committed. I think they combined to miss 11 straight shots or something. Gonzaga went like seven minutes without a basket. It was the most disjointed, poorly played, hideous basketball I’ve seen in some time. Bill Raftery was running out of breath calling every single shot short. It was a legitimately horrible game. And I loved it. It reminded me of a Tuesday night MAC football game or a 49ers-Rams game. It became so bad and so ugly that only the true diehards (or anyone with money on the game) were left to enjoy it. I thrive on bad basketball. Give me all the long contested 2s, all the boneheaded turnovers, all the relentless fouls and bad replay decisions. It gets my blood pumping. It keeps me grounded for when I watch Warriors or Nuggets games. I like knowing that for every artistically beautiful and aesthetically pleasing game, there’s an inverse game out there. It makes me feel better about my own subpar game when I see elite athletes and people who have trained their whole lives for this play like they’ve never heard the word basketball before. So I’m being totally sincere when I thank all the players, coaches, and officials involved in last night’s game. Much like almost everything else I enjoy, it was horrible for my health, but I was happy.

My second take is that, if I was an NBA executive, I immediately remove every single player that entered the game last night from my draft board ASAP. Justin Jackson STUNK. He played decent D but was looking like Lavar Ball at the Y on offense. Przemek Karnowski missed at least nine layups. For a five minute stretch in the second half, Gonzaga’s offense was walk the ball down the floor, dribble for a few seconds, dump it down to Karnowski, have him back down a few steps, turn, and miss a layup. It was like clockwork. Kennedy Meeks, I mean I don’t care what year it is, what country they’re from, how big they are, whatever. Gonzaga’s front line is all white guys, and you get seven points? Huge red flag. Zach Collins might have been the most talented player on the court, but I’ve never seen someone play dumber with their fouls. He picked up his third early in the second half then started throwing elbows and hacking people like he was Rick Mahorn. Use your head, dude. You’re the best player on the team, maybe you don’t need to be super aggressive on defense when you have four fouls with like 15 minutes left. The only guys I might take in the second round are Joel Berry II and Nigel Williams-Goss, because at least they showed heart and basic decision making ability. I know this game didn’t feature any of the top-end prospects, but even still it wasn’t a good night for anyone’s NBA future.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, what the hell was Gonzaga doing wearing alternate uniforms for the National Championship game? Who do they think they are? It worked for the Cavs, but that’s because they have LeBron. It worked for the Cubs because they were playing another sad sack franchise. But Gonzaga is Gonzaga. They’re nothing. They’ve never won anything. And they think they can pull off some kind of uniform high-wire act that only the best player in the NBA can pull off? Against North Carolina? I mean look at these:

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Which one of those says “I’m ready to finally take my place among the elites of college basketball,” and which one says “I’m about to play the worst game of all time?” When you search Gonzaga black jerseys, an article about them possibly being cursed is the first result. Cursed! And you’re going to wear them for the most important game in the history of your program? Are you kidding? Can you imagine if an NFL team wore an alternate jersey in the Super Bowl? I’m still convinced Bill Belichick wearing a different color hoodie was directly responsible for the Patriots losing Super Bowl 42. If I’m a Gonzaga fan I don’t think I would ever let this go. You had the National Championship, the ultimate achievement in your sport, in your grasp, and you decide to wear your black alternates. Smh, Gonzaga, smh.

Just for old times sake:

 

Yesterday Didn’t Go Great for Me

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Traditionally, one of the first two days of the NCAA Tournament is crazy and the other is dull. Yesterday was the dull day. Only two lower seeded teams won, one of which was actually favored and the other was playing perennial choking dog Maryland, so does either even count? There were only like two exciting finishes all day. Overall, it wasn’t the best March Madness day I’ve ever seen. Mostly because absolutely nothing went my way.

Obviously Minnesota lost. I declared them my team before the brackets came out, and they laid down against Middle Tennessee State. They got screwed by their seeding. They weren’t a five seed. They should have been a 7 seed and got a nice matchup with a 10 seed. That’s when you can take teams by surprise and build some momentum. Tough to win when you’re the team everyone is mad at for being seeded too high. It put a huge bullseye on their backs to go with the bullseye that was already there when I picked them. The signs were clearly there for an early exit. If I had less fortitude and commitment, I probably would have changed my pick after the bracket came out. But I didn’t, so now I need to pick up the pieces and move on. I don’t even know who to root for now. My other team UVM lost (I really thought they were gonna do it, but they just died in the second half). My other other team Oregon doesn’t have much of a chance to go deep without Chris Boucher. My other other other team Dunk City is out, too. I guess Gonzaga because they’re playing Northwestern next? Seton Hall since I think they’re the last team with a pirate mascot left? I think I have to wait until someone captures my attention before I commit. I don’t want to be hurt like this again.

The second, and you could argue worse, bad thing that happened was Northwestern winning. Not only winning, but snatching victory from the clenched jaws of defeat because of a brain fart from Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis (who everyone will forget had a good game before inexplicably fouling while up one with 10 seconds left). The following show of excess can only be described as predictable. Hey did you know this was Northwestern’s first tournament appearance and first win? I didn’t! You knew the myriad of media members who just now decided to go over-the-top with their devotion to their alma mater would act like they just won the championship, but the actual players did, too! It was the craziest scene I’ve ever witnessed. You’d think the Wildcats just beat the Cavs in a 7-game series for the NBA title. I mean, look at this:

At some level, I get it. I’m not a total curmudgeon. This is their first tournament after almost 80 years of never making it. And Doug Collins’ son is the coach. But, come on, man. It was a FIRST ROUND GAME. AGAINST VANDERBILT! Not Kentucky, not North Carolina, but famed basketball power Vanderbilt. And he’s bawling. And it’s not like he’s the only one, either. He at least has the excuse that his son is the coach. What about the Mike Wilbons, Mike Greenbergs, and Darren Rovells of the world that already act like attending Northwestern makes them vastly superior to us normals, but now have the trump card of one (1) tournament win (as a higher seed) they can throw out now? It’s sickening. I can only pray that Gonzaga wins tomorrow, but I’m not feeling good about it. Literally all the pressure is on Gonzaga: they’re the number one seed with a history of choking vs an upstart with nothing to lose (it’s Northwestern’s first tournament appearance, if you hadn’t heard). Northwestern making the second weekend and subjecting America to another week of their alumni jerking off to themselves in everyone’s face was already a worst-case scenario. If they beat a number one seed to do it? Now we’re talking about Armageddon. Imagine a group of people with a combination of the arrogance of Patriots fans and the look-at-me-my-team-finally-won-let-me-make-it-all-about-myself euphoria of Cubs fans. Then add in the academic smugness that naturally comes from attending one of America’s most prestigious universities. Then put every single one of those people on TV every day for the next month. Doesn’t that sound great? Doesn’t that sound like a team you can rally behind? Gonzaga has to win. They just have to. And that’s why I’m worried. Obviously the committee rigged it for Northwestern since they all have so many friends in the media and gave them the only one seed they could beat. Gonzaga is so obviously going to lose I might not even watch it. I might not watch the rest of the tournament since I’m sure Northwestern will somehow make the Final Four. Call me a hypocrite if you want since I’m a noted Patriots hype man and have recently written about my own alma mater, but at least my team’s have won something in the last 100 years. All those people have is a diploma from probably the best journalism school in the country and cushy TV jobs. So, the way I look at it, I come out of this the winner, anyway.