Author Archives: Matt

Final Four Thoughts

Posted by Irregaahhdless

At this point, I don’t remember if I picked Butler (a 12 seed at the time) to beat Florida in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. I just remember — as happens to me often, regardless of what my bracket picks are — that I wanted the Bulldogs to win. (I do enjoy myself some upsets.) And when Florida’s Mike Miller missed being called for a charge by thismuch and hit a game-winner to thwart a game effort by Butler, 69-68, I remember swearing at the TV. A couple of times. The undersized and undermanned Bulldogs had played just about the perfect game. And the reward for that? The same trip home what the No. 16 seed that loses by 35 gets. Something was wrong with that.

I won’t say that I was hooked on Butler at that point — or, for that matter, that I’m hooked now — but the Bulldogs definitely fit in that “Oh, they’re back in the tourney? Yeah, I hope they win” team for me. Year after year. I mean, we all have teams like that, don’t we? A crew from whom you can barely name anyone of significance from the past decade, yet when they win a big game in the tourney, they get a little something extra on the fist pump. I just sorta liked ’em a little bit more than the standard root-for-the-underdog crew. Something about that loss 10 years ago made me want something big for them — like that would somehow make the “injustice” from 2000 all OK.

Well, you can’t get much bigger than playing for the national championship, which the Bulldogs will do Monday night. (Seriously, Butler is playing for the NATIONAL FUCKING CHAMPIONSHIP. Everyone can come out and say, “This is a Top 10 team in the preseason polls.” And that’s totally accurate. But, you know, still, this is Butler. And this is the national championship game. If you don’t think that’s kinda awesome, stop watching sports.)

So, it’s safe to say that no matter what happens Monday night, Butler, the NCAA Tournament gods and I are all cool now. (And, by the way, props to Butler head coach Brad Stevens for recently receiving his driver’s license. I’m sure that was a big day for him.) That damn-we-shoulda-won-it game in 2000 is well in the rearview mirror now. And I’ll bet that the guys who suffered the heartbreak on that day — who, for all intents and purposes, have as pretty big hand in what’s gone on this season — are enjoying this tourney run almost as much as the guys who are taking the court.  And they should.

Well done, Bulldogs. One more to go. Now, if you wouldn’t mind beating Duke by, like, 87, that’d be perfect. Thanks.

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Michael Donner Is Not Welcome Here

Posted by Irregaahhdless

I love this proposed deal in Peter King’s MMQB Tuesday Edition today:

From Michael Donner of Rochester, N.Y.: “Hear me out, as I think this makes sense given the history of the Belichick Era (Deion Branch, Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Curtis Martin): Offer Tom Brady to the Raiders for their 2010 1st, 2nd, 3rd; 2011 2nd, 2012 1st, 2nd.”

What’s the matter, Mike? Couldn’t figure out a way to get Richard Seymour back — and maybe throw in Nnamdi Asomugha, too?

Al Davis is all but brain dead, but even he’d hang up on the Pats if they called with this deal.

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Before You Even Start, Shut the Hell Up

Posted by Irregaahhdless

I’m already bracing for it — the backlash that’s sure to come from Wes Welker’s apparent season-ending injury today. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m positive that Dan Shaughnessy is licking the stamp on his column that will include statements like:

a. “What was Belichick thinking playing Welker?”

b. An allusion to Belichick having lost his touch. (First the Colts game earlier this year and now this.)

c. Some out-of-date reference to Larry Bird.

Of course I’m bummed that the ghost of a chance that the Pats had to make a run in the playoffs disappeared during one awkward cut on the Reliant Stadium turf. But in no way am I (nor should any clear-thinking Pats fan) think that Welker being the game was the wrong decision.

First off, the play happened on the Patriots’ first drive of the game. Even notorious close-to-the-vest coach Jim Caldwell had his starters in during the first quarter of a snowstorm (considering the footing, you have to imagine there was a much higher injury risk in Buffalo today). And the bottom line is this isn’t college with 100-player rosters and ample subs. You can only dress 45 on game days in the NFL. You’re always going to have some starters in the game. (Additionally, the Pats play many three-receiver sets and only have six receivers on the roster — two of whom are really just special teams guys just happen to have “WR” next to their name on the roster.)

Secondly, the injury was a fluke. If Welker had been getting tackled or was blown up while returning a punt, there’s at least a bit of an argument. But this happened on a play where he was untouched. And it happened to one of the league’s toughest and most durable receivers. He was making the same cut he’s made 100 times in games this year (and likely 1,000 times in practice) on a dry, grass field. Sometimes weird shit happens. And if it had happened in practice — an event as likely (if not more) as probable as doing it in a game — would folks be saying, “Why was Welker practicing?” Of course not. Because that’d be retarded.

Anyway, anyone who wrote a “Jim Caldwell shouldn’t have pulled his starters” last week column is automatically DQ’d from being allowed to write one saying that Welker shouldn’t have been in the game. That should eliminate 90 percent of all columnists. For the other 10 percent who are considering questioning Welker playing today, here’s a thought: Don’t. You’ll only be embarrassing yourself.

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Hit ‘Em High, Hit ‘Em Low, Go Northwestern Go

Posted by Irregaahhdless

When you’re a Northwestern fan who has sat through countless miserable seasons and your team goes to the 11th hour of a bowl game (seriously, I think the game actually took 11 hours) before losing, there’s little to complain about. Of course, when you start a blog post by saying “there’s little to complain about,” it all but guarantees that you’ll start complaining about losing your bowl game. So, let’s get that out of the way right now.

Goddammit.

No, wait. Fuck!

Goddammit, again.

And, yeah: FUCK!

That the Wildcats played a miserable game in a lot of ways today and nearly wound up winning is a testament to the program and how far it’s come. It’s also a reason why, when people make comments that allude to a nice season for NU as if it’s some kind of aberration, that I want to punch them in the dick. We’re a decent team (maybe even a little better than decent) now. So, you know what: F you.

But, yeah, I’m pissed. I usually wake up on New Year’s Day, invite some folks over and aimlessly watch football for 7 to 14 hours. But not this year. This year was different. The Cats were actually playing — fucking PLAYING — today. There was a whole brunch thing. This meant something.

The French toast was awesome. And then the boys came out and sucked. Terribly. Five interceptions, including two in the end zone — one of which was returned for a touchdown. A QB who had thrown seven INTs all year did his best to match that total in the first half alone. There was a lot of swearing at halftime, much of it with small children in the room. Whatever.

The second half was, well, one of those things that you say was indescribable right before you try to describe it. A 14-point comeback to even the score at 21. Completely losing that momentum. A second 14-point comeback — this time one of those Christ-on-a-bike-what-the-F-is-happening-here ones that included three fourth-down conversions, a missed PAT and, honestly, a two-point conversion that had even the 2006-07 Boise State Broncos saying, “That was pretty good.” Ludicrous coaching decisions (an onside kick with three minutes to go, Fitz, really?). A missed FG to end regulation. A missed holding call that led to an Auburn field goal in OT. A ridiculous NU possession in overtime that, I swear, featured:

a. a game-ending “fumble” that was correctly overturned

b. a missed game-tying field goal

c. a roughing-the-kicker penalty that kept the NU drive alive — and knocked NU’s kicker out of the game

d. a fake game-tying field goal that came up two yards short — and one block on the edge — of the game-winning score

There are countless things (and, yes, all the folks who gathered at my house for the Rose Bowl later today know that I can list them all; sorry for the Jaworski-like breakdown of the final plays during commercial breaks, fellas) to second guess in a game like this. And, despite all the folks who remember Pat Fitzgerald only as a hero of the 1995 turnaround of the program (which he was) while ignoring his shortcomings as a gameday coach (which he has), it’s clear to see that this is a team that’s headed in the right direction. There will be far more winning seasons than losing ones in years to come. There’s a coach who will continue (I hope) to figure it out. And, while he’s doing so, he’ll stand up and shoulder the blame for losses like today’s. I’d rather be in Evanston than Lubbock these days — and that’s saying something.

So, to all of the boys at NU (but especially you, Drake Dunsmore; that TD catch/run was F-ing awesome and had the whole living room screaming to the point that my buddy Justin’s son started crying from all the noise), a tip of the cap. The 2010 Outback Bowl was awesome, terrible, fantastic, horrific, sloppy, exhilarating, countless-text-generating and altogether exhausting. I need nine months off from this. But I really wish the Cats had a game next week.

See you guys in September. Can’t wait.

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Open Wide for Some Soccer!

Posted by Irregaahhdless

Folks who only go to church on Christmas and Easter (hey, like me!) are labeled “C&E Catholics.” I’m sure there’s a similar term for soccer fans who only follow World Cup-related stuff. Whatever it is, feel free to stick me with that label, too.

I don’t watch the Premier League or La Liga (though I really think I need to start). The only time I was in the proximity of a stadium when an MLS game was going on was after the conclusion of a U.S.-Honduras CONCACAF qualifier. (The DC United played immediately afterward as part of a doubleheader.) I left. But, Christ on a bike, I love me some World Cup — so much so that I went to Germany in 2006. (OK, the prospect of consuming mass amounts of beer and hooking up with some cute gal from the Netherlands played a part, too. Also, for the record, only one of those things happened.)

Anyway, the 2010 World Cup draw has completely sucked me in today. It’s fascinating. The sport’s governing body broke the 32 qualifying teams into four pools. They’ll draw one team out of each pool to make up the eight groups for round-robin play. (The top two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16.)

The top 7 teams (using October’s FIFA rankings) and South Africa (the host country) were placed in one pool — helping to keep some of the top teams from picking each other off in the first round while also giving the host nation a (slightly) easier path to the second round (for the record, this doesn’t bother me at all). Otherwise, though, it’s open season. Could we possibly see a group of Spain (No. 1 in the world), Cameroon (No. 11), Greece (No. 12) and the United States (No. 14)? Yes, yes we could. And that would be F-ing awesome (except, you know, for the U.S.).

(By the way, I wrote out the above scenario while waiting for the draw to happen. I’m sure that we won’t get that group. But I’m also sure I’m way too lazy to go up and change my potential Group of Death. Just know that there’s going to be one and some really good team is gonna be done by the end of the tournament’s first week. Tremendous.)

Additionally, I love how we’re 188 days away from the start of the World Cup and teams already know their first THREE opponents. What other major championship lets you stew on something like “Holy shit, we have to play England in our second game” for six solid months?

Please note that about 38 seconds after typing the above paragraph, I received the following IM:

Sheinkin [1:09 P.M.]: US gets england. hmm. tough.

Is it too late to get tickets to Johannesburg?

(Also, in case you didn’t know where the headline came from.)

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Sorry, Charlie. (Actually, Wait. I’m Not Sorry at All.)

Posted by Irregaahhdless

So, Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis today. Whatever. What’s bothering me is the coverage of it. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt (and he’s not the only one to say something like this over the past few days) just noted that Weis’ firing came at the end of “a 6-6 season when many were forecasting a BCS run.”

Really? Many folks were forecasting that? Can you name more than one for me, please? Because the only fucktard I remember doing so back in August was Lou Holtz. Everyone else was saying things like, “Lou Holtz is a fucktard for thinking that Notre Dame is going to a BCS bowl.”

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In a Tourney of “Pointless Online Writers,” Joe Lunardi is a No. 1 Seed

Posted by Irregaahhdless

I don’t have time to say that much here. I’m really just posting to get on the record that:

a. I hate Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. (And, really, Lunardi, too.)
b. Doing Bracketology is retarded.

Last week, Lunardi released his 2010 tournament bracket. It was the first week of November. Nobody had played a game. Yet he thinks he can not only forecast the participants in the NCAA Tournament, but also get them all slotted and seeded correctly. Bear in mind that, in his day-before-the-tournament bracket done the past four years, Lunardi has gotten a team seeded and slotted right the following number of times:

2009: 11 (best ever!)
2008: 7
2007: 4
2006: 7

So we have them all in one place, his picks are being screenshot (click for full size) and saved right here:

Anyway, considering Lunardi averages about 7.5 correct picks per year (and when I say “correct,” I mean he gets the team, region and seed right), when he does this 24 hours before the tournament, how many is he going to get right here? I’m going with no more than three. And, really, if you’re doing something where you’re only getting 3 out of 65 right, what the F is the point? I mean, they really pay him for this?

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