Monday, November 30, 2015

Gambling Options for Houstonians: Daily Fantasy in One Year

With all of the political bell-ringing over daily fantasy sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings more reasoned observers have started to wonder what, if any, future these companies may have.  I would propose that if you want to see what Daily Fantasy Sports is going to look like in the near future you take a look at the current state of sport's betting, minus Las Vegas.

Currently, it is legal to bet on sporting contests in Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. Although New Jersey is trying to challenge that law. What remains in the industry, and it's a lucrative market, are 'illegal' off-shore (and online) betting sites which operate outside the regulatory framework that other, legalized gambling, does.

Sites such as Bovada and 5Dimes allow sport's bettors to make and place bets that would otherwise be illegal to make. Since it's unclear whether or not the laws in place make it illegal to place a bet online, Federal and State law enforcement agencies have, to date, not prosecuted individual bettors in an attempt to stop the process.

As a result, online sports wagering is increasing, and thriving.  Thanks to Social Puritanism that's unlikely to change. Thanks also to Social Fascism, what's likely going to be pushed into the gray market are Daily Fantasy Sports.

Now that Pandora's Box has been opened it's unlikely that those who have found a taste for DFS will willingly abandon it if there are other options.  While sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings might have to legitimately abandon the US market the currently operating off-shore books will fill in the void.

All of this while politicians looking either for power or additional revenue chest pound as victors without realizing that the operation is still going on, and there's little they can do to stop it. This is why casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson is pushing so hard (and spending so much in support of) the Restoration of America's Wire Act bill, or "Adelson's on-line gaming bill" as it's known.

Mr. Adelson's bill would make it a crime to place these bets online and would create an entire new class of criminal in the US.  Given the proclivities of the Federal Justice Department this would cause another spike in the prison population.  Apparently the Bill's sponsor's Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) are unconcerned about this in their rush to impose Social Puritanism on the Nation.

Of course, Mr. Adelson's bill would also outlaw online lotteries, and other items that we take for granted daily and would require, as is typically the case with bad legislation that limits freedoms, massive carve-outs to avoid capturing criminals created through unintended consequences.

For all of his crocodile tears it's evident that Mr. Adelson is not all that concerned about the moral decline of America, based on the activities permitted by his casinos. The fact is, Mr. Adelson is interested in stopping online gaming because his competitors are doing a better job at it than he is, and that's costing him money.

And, as we know, in the gambling industry it's ALWAYS about the money.

It's the same way in the political industry as well. Do you honestly think these politicians would be going after DFS so hard if they didn't think their was money involved?  Either through increased taxes, fees, fines or through campaign donations and other compensation the politicians here are looking to get RICH.

If history is any guide, they'll succeed, thus pushing gamblers to unregulated sites that operate in the gray or black markets or even worse, bringing the bookie back into heavy rotation. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have my account suspended for missing a payment than have my legs broken. We'll see.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Houston Texans: Making it respectable.

Much to everyone's (OK, me) surprise, the Houston Texans beat the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday and looked (fairly) comfortable doing it.

Some thoughts.....

1. It's time to give O'Brien some credit for getting QB's ready. It's easy to criticize, harder to praise. However, given the play of TJ Yates over the last couple of weeks it's fair to say that Coach O'Brien and the offensive staff have done a good job preparing him to play since bringing Yates back to the team.

Not that the offense has been spectacular, but it's been good enough against two opponents that many consider to be in playoff contention.

2. Running the ball is a pipe dream. It doesn't appear that the Texans will be able to do so with any sustained success for the remainder of the year. 

That said, Jonathan Grimes is looking much better than Alfred Blue. It may be time to give the former a start or three.

3. DeAndre Hopkins has gotten much better at route running. He's always had good hands but, my one criticism of him was that he ran poor routes.  Over the last few weeks he's been much improved in this area and seems to be on the cusp of superstardom.

4. The defense is..... Well, it just is.  Two young players in particular, Benardrick McKinney and Kevin Johnson, have been playing very well.  This is important because we're starting to see decent, although not as great as everyone is saying, play from Cushing and JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus continue to have standout seasons.

Even Jonathan Joseph is playing better of late.

And finally.....

They're STILL not tied for "first place" The Texans are, like it or not, in 2nd place due to the tie-breaker process in the NFL.  From a W/L perspective yes, they are tied with the Colts, but they would miss out on the playoffs (as things stand now) due to tiebreaking procedures.

That said, given the awful records of many AFC teams, there are only five teams in the AFC with a better record than Houston.  This could mean that (amazingly) a Wild Card berth is in play.  This would make the next two games, against the Saints and the Bills, must-wins. Of course, then you get the Patriots and the Colts before finishing with the Titans and a Jaguars team who might still have something to play for.

The team is 5-5, I still say that 7-9 or 8-8 are the most likely records. (With a strong nod to my pre-season prediction of 6-10 being within the realm of probability.)

College Football: Conventional Wisdom vs. Truth

Last weekend provided a few important data points which upset the conventional wisdom in lieu of truth. (Note: I didn't say "fact" which has little place in football).  I thought I'd spend a minute discussing some of those here....

CW: There are a lot of undefeated teams this year.

Truth: Going undefeated is HARD.

When Ohio State and Houston fell simultaneously it served as a reminder that winning all 12 games on the season schedule is hard.  Injuries (in the case of Houston) and team deficiencies (in the case of Ohio State) led to the end of championship dreams for the Buckeyes, and a tougher road for Houston.

Ohio State now needs to beat Michigan (not a given) and hope that Penn State upsets Sparty in order to have a chance to play for the B1G championship.  That said, should these things happen, and the Buckeyes beat Iowa,  the Buckeyes would still be facing an uphill clime to the CFP.  They would need Notre Dame to lose to Stanford in order to have a shot.

Houston still controls their own destiny in terms of making one of the Big 6 bowl games. For the Cougars it's pretty simple, beat Navy, beat Temple.  If they can do those two things then I think they're in ahead of a Toledo team that I don't think is going to win the MAC, or even play in their championship game.

CW: The SEC is the dominant Conference in college football

Truth: Not so much.

Quick, name the SEC's best out of conference win.  I'll wait.

If you said "South Carolina over North Carolina" you'd be correct.  And that win was a week-one reminder that teams are neither as good, or as bad, as they appear right out of the gate. Supporters point to Alabama's win over Wisconsin, who just got beaten by, at home, by a mediocre Northwestern team.  "a-ha!" you might say, Texas aTm beat Arizona State."  OK, but that win has turned out to not be that good when you consider the team is 6-5 with losses to USC (back when the Trojans still had a reportedly drunk Sarkesian as their head coach).

The rest of the conferences OOC schedule is a travesty.  Last week Florida lost to barely escaped, with the help of SEC officials, from then 2-8 Florida Atlantic, this is after barely beating an awful Vanderbilt team 9-7 two weeks prior, and struggling in almost every game. (including a loss to suddenly awful LSU).  South Carolina lost to The Citadel, and Georgia was taken to the limit by Georgia Southern.

For all of the grief given the Big XII (and rightly so) for their pillow-soft OOC schedule, the SEC should be held to the same standard given that they play (and pay) a lot of money to have small-schools come to town.  The SEC's defense has always been that their "schedule is a grind" and that it makes up for them playing soft elsewhere.  When they were winning 10 consecutive titles in a B(C)S system designed to give them an advantage that was hard to argue. Now, in a CFP system that's still skewed in their favor due to the deference to perceived strength of schedule, it's getting harder and harder to justify.

CW: If a Big XII top team wins out, they're in.

Truth:  It's not that clear-cut.

The argument behind this line-of-thought is mostly predicated on the OU Sooners beating OSU in Bedlam and finishing the season 11-1. The thought is that their position in the blue-blood elite of College Football ensures they don't get left out.

The truth is that there are other blue-blood teams who will have a stronger claim than any Big XII team who wins out.  Notre Dame is the first problem, especially if they beat Stanford. They are the highest of royalty and will have the "best" loss with a close one to Clemson. Michigan State is the next problem, they beat Ohio State and Michigan, and should they beat Iowa will have a pretty strong resume entering the selection process. Yes, their loss to Nebraska is an issue, but I would argue a loss to a bowl-eligible Cornhusker's team is "better" than a loss to hapless Texas.  Should Sparty stumble and Ohio State runs the table then they are clearly superior than any of the Big XII contenders. If Iowa wins out there's no debate due to the undefeated nature of the Hawkeyes.

The Big XII's best hope for inclusion lies in Michigan State somehow being upset by Penn State,  Michigan beating Ohio State and then beating Iowa in the B1G Championship.  Either that or Notre Dame losing to Stanford, which opens up the path.

CW: The College Football Playoff is going to work out in the end.

Truth: Probably not.

IF you're a fan of chaos (as am I) then what you're hoping for is that the committee is forced, at the end, to have to choose to exclude either Notre Dame, Michigan State or OU.  Right now I think this is the most likely scenario.

It will be fun to watch Jeff Long stand in front of the cameras and talk about "best losses" and "game control" and "circumstances surrounding a loss" to keep 'Bama, Michigan State and Notre Dame in while, for example, leaving out Oklahoma.  That is college football Nirvana for people who want to see the system ultimately change with either an expanded playoff format or, my dream scenario, a transfer to 4 16-team super conferences in their own league that is independent from the NCAA.

CW: Oregon's days as a National power are over.

Truth: Now that they're healthy, they might be among the best teams in the country.

Just two weeks ago the Ducks were done. They were a team that barely beat an undermanned Washington team, struggled with ASU (which, in hindsight, was one of the most overrated teams in the country to start the season) and had lost (badly) to Utah and a Washington State team that wasn't considered top-tier.

What happened next is an object lesson in how a season plays out. Duck's QB Adams got healthy, and the top WR, Carrington, returned to the team from suspension and suddenly Oregon was starting to flex it's muscles.  They beat a Stanford team that was (incorrectly) considered to be the Pac-12's best, and they throttled USC. Suddenly pundits are realizing that the 8-3 Ducks might be the hottest team in the Country.

Unfortunately, they won't sniff the CFP, which is a travesty.  If the CFP played the same format as the FCS the Ducks would be in and considered a sleeper team for the eventual title.

CW: The CFP committee is getting "proven correct" by the results on the field.

Truth:  Nope.

Pundits are pointing to Baylor's loss to OU as proof the Bears did not "belong" in the top 4. Those same people refuse to call the committee to the carpet for overvaluing OSU, given the criteria they use.

It would be one thing for the CFP to say "undefeated" (as I do) is important. Then they could justify having Ohio State as 3 (Full disclosure: I had them at #1 because they were undefeated and the reigning champions).  But when they started bringing in bogus results such as "circumstances surrounding a loss" and (their perceived) "strength of schedule" they all but admitted that their rankings are no better than the old AP/UPI system that used to create so much controversy.

The simple fact is this:  Outside of Clemson, whose ranking at #1 no-one can, seriously, dispute, the rest of the top 10 is a crap-shoot which largely depends on which team passes the mythical 'eye-test'.  People will say that none of this "matters" until the final poll but it does.  Because the CFP Top 25 is used in the metrics to determine "good/bad" wins and losses.  If the entire SEC is overrated then the teams at the top get an artificial bump.  If the American is underrated then Houston gets unfairly punished. Navy Football, who has no good wins, other than Memphis, on their schedule appears to be artificially inflated to make Notre Dame look better, while Houston, who has wins over Louisville, Memphis and Cincinnati will more than likely be bounced out of the top 25 this week after falling to UConn, on the road, while fighting the injury bug.

The fact is, what the CFP committee values matters, and there's ample evidence to suggest that they don't value Group of 5 games or anything occurring on the West Coast. This places teams outside of the SEC, ACC and B1G at a disadvantage because the committee isn't basing their rankings on truth (not to be confused with fact, which is impossible to determine in college football at times since so many teams don't play like-schedules).

The problem that we have is, absent a full playoff system or 4 16-team super-conferences where the winners all get in, there's not fixing this.  It's also a problem that the solution to the B(C)S SEC-biased farce is to create a system that's even worse.

Now, some lists.....

Top 10 leading into the Thanksgiving weekend games: (with a note about why teams are ranked where they are)

1. Clemson - Undefeated and continuing to look like the best team in all the land
2. Iowa - I've said it before and I'll continue to say it: Undefeated should matter.
3. Notre Dame - Has the "best" loss of all the one-loss teams.
4. Alabama - While the Ole Miss loss is looking worse and worse, it's still (marginally) better.
5. Michigan State - See the "Big XII playoff summary" above. Loss to Nebraska > Loss to Texas
6. Oklahoma - See #5
7. Baylor - Good loss (to OU) but you can't rank them higher.
8. North Carolina - The loss to SC is horrible, but has some better wins than others
9. Oklahoma State - Just slightly under NC due to only having one quality win (TCU)
10. Ohio State - Lack of quality wins stings a lot.

Top 10 "Group of 5" rankings heading into Thanksgiving weekend games:

1. Navy - Hard to argue based on record.
2. Houston - Game against Navy should be a classic.
3. Temple - Losses to Notre Dame a better-than-you-think USF team.
4. Northern Illinois - Maybe the Best group of five team with multiple losses.
5. Toledo - Likely won't get a chance to play in conference title game.
6. Air Force - Quietly having a good season.
7. Western Kentucky - Plays in C-USA, which hurts them.
8. Bowling Green - Always hanging around.
9. Marshall - See Western Kentucky
10. San Diego State -  The best team in the Country that most know nothing about.
10 (tie) Arkansas State - Sneaky good, running rough-shod on the Sun-Belt.

Bottom 5 College Football teams this year: (With apologies to ESPN)

1. Central Florida - On the bright side free beer is still a thing.
2. Kansas - To say the future looks brighter means basketball season is here.
3. North Texas - Given the location, and resources, this team should not be this bad.
4. Eastern Michigan - Possibly the worst team in FBS history all-time.
5. Wyoming - At some point, you have to ask why?

Ranking the coaching openings:

1. Miami - A ton of resources and a history of winning. Downside: You have to talk to Michael Irvin.
2. Illinois - You can win there, quickly. Downside: You only get the easy schedule once occasionally.
3. Maryland - You can win there, quickly. Downside: Those uniforms.
4. Syracuse - New York provides a good recruiting base. Downside: Fans expectations too high.
5. Southern California: Tradition, resources, National Brand. Downside: Pat Haden.
6. Missouri: You can win in the awful SEC East. Downside: Have you been watching the news?
7. South Carolina: SEC school with recent winning history. Downside: Small fish/huge pond.
8. Central Florida: Better landing spot than most think. Downside: Group of 5 conference affiliation.
9. Iowa State: The Big XII can be had. Downside: Horrible facilities, no recruiting base.
10. North Texas: Good recruiting potential. Downside: The ass-end of Texas college football.
11. Hawai'i: The scenery. Downside: Program could be shuttering for good.
12. Louisiana-Monroe: Duck Dynasty crews visit. Downside: Replace "Texas" with "Louisiana".
13. Virginia Tech: Talent on the roster, tradition. Downside: You don't want to be the coach who replaces the legend, you want to be the coach who replaces the coach who replaces the legend.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Houston Rockets: Firing McHale is putting a band-aid on the cancer (But it might help)

Yahoo! News' excellent NBA reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, broke the news today:

Rockets part ways with coach Kevin McHale. Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

After struggling to a 4-7 start to the season, the Houston Rockets parted ways with coach Kevin McHale on Wednesday morning, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Leaving the Houston Chronicle Rockets beat reporters to try and provide "additional details" in order to appear as if they're providing something:

Rockets fire Kevin McHale. Reid Laymance.

The Rockets decided that McHale, who coached the team to the Western Conference finals last season, had lost the locker room and the team didn’t want to fall farther behind in the West, a person familiar with the team’s thinking said.

As is often the case in Chron "breaking" sports stories, the comments of the story are more revealing than the article itself.

  • BosVas Guest

  • @eldorado1952
    Yeah, what Curiostom2 said. Ty Lawson said that McHale would call in a defensive play and the players would ignore it and do something else. That means that McHale lost his player's respect.

    While the Rocket's issues go far deeper than McHale, it appears that his firing was the only direction the team could go after starting the season 4-7, which included four straight, blowout, losses where the team looked horrible.

    While this feels like a Band-Aid on the cancer, it might have some, short-term, benefit.  The overriding problem is that the Rockets' current roster is underperforming, lacks focus, and might not be everything that it was last year.

    James Harden - My biggest complaint about Harden is that he is a one side of the court player. He frequently gets mocked for his lack of defense and he's known more, this year, for being a bit-player in the Kardashian drama than he is for playing good basketball. Last year Harden was a legitimate MVP contender, this year he's not even playing well enough to garner consideration for sixth-man of the year. Even those players are expected to bring offense.

    Ty Lawson - Lawson was heralded as the point guard the Rockets were missing. Instead he's been a low effort guy with poor shooting who appears to have been a driving force in the locker room against McHale. Prior to his time with the Rockets, Lawson was the best player on bad teams. It's very rare that players like that add much to good teams since they are accustomed to losing often.

    Trevor Ariza - To date, his most significant contribution to the team is to repeatedly say that the team needs to try harder while showing no evidence that he is doing so himself. Last year he was a key cog in a team that made a deep playoff run. This year he's a below average 3-point shooter who is also a low-effort guy.

    Corey Brewer - Brewer got paid in the off-season and he's playing like a player who has lost his drive.  Again, I think he has talent but the effort isn't there.

    And finally, the area of biggest concern....

    Dwight Howard - There are signs that Howard is not playing bad because of poor effort, but because his injuries are catching up to him. Of all the players on this list Howard is the most concerning. Because it doesn't appear what's ailing his game can be fixed with just more effort. Howard looks slow, lumbering, and out-of-sorts on the court and observers are worried that it's due to his many injuries. Howard has never been a high-motor guy, but as a low-motor center who's already limited offensively and who's body is starting to show severe signs that the tires are balding there's real cause for concern here.

    New interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been handed a job with a flawed roster whose stars are either distracted (Harden) or possibly at the end of their career (Howard). All in all it's a team that doesn't seem to have any focus, or drive to play a complete game.

    Still, the Rockets are only 11 games in to a 82 game season so there's a possibility that things can turn around. Getting the players to run the plays the coach calls would be a marked improvement, and signs that firing McHale was the right thing to do.

    Still, with this roster of low-motor players there needs to be some questions resurfacing as to the personnel decisions being made by GM Darryl Morey.  Last year it appeared that his plan was sound and that all of the naysayers (raises hand) were making accusations not based on reality.  Even I turned around and stated that he had done a great job building last year's roster, that the team was playing great ball, had gelled, and that good things were in the future.

    This year, unlike prior years, I still think Morey has the right plan. I think the Rockets have the talent in place to make a playoff run but the one thing that neither Morey, or Bickerstaff, is going to be able to give them is drive. Last year they seemed to find it, but that team is a distant memory.

    If the Rockets can find their drive, and if Howard's body is not as deteriorated as I fear, if Harden can remember that he's a basketball player first (and can survive the Kardashian athlete curse) then I think the Rockets can turn it around.

    If not?  Well then we're back to "In Morey we Trust" as the GM will have to start the rebuilding process all over again because the window slammed shut on the current group faster than expected. What Houston is hoping to avoid is deja vu all over again, as we've recently seen how fast things can fall apart with the 2012/2013 Houston Texans.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    The Public Money: Same Blog, New Name

    Just some random housekeeping here as I never was a big fan of "Sharp Like a Marble" (the real phrase is "sharp as a marble" but there was already a blog with that name) so I've changed it to.....

    "The Public Money"

    If you have any experience in betting, at all, you know that the public money is often the side that you want to be opposite of.  It's the money that provides the financing for all of the beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) casinos around the world.

    The public bets with its heart, not with its mind. It believes in luck and "hot" tables and doesn't understand that each roll of the dice is an independent event. The public believes they are "due" and that whomever the favorite is would be "the team Vegas thinks will win".  Of course none of this is true.

    The house believes in mathematics. As do the true "sharps" (not the touts, although they believe in another set of math which we'll explore later), as do I, and as should you.

    No other big changes, except that I've added a 3-card poker hand up top that I've actually won with before.  Because, you know......luck.

    Houston Texans: "Red Rider BB Gun" and other thoughts

    Since the game was so boring it seems the national media is trying to gin up controversy from JJ Watt's post game comments.

    JJ Watt to Critics: "How you doin?" Mike Florio, NBC Sports

    “Just talkin’ to my teammates about how everybody told us we couldn’t do this,” Watt told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “Everybody said there ain’t no — you’re 3-5, there’s no way you’re gonna go in their building and win. Well, how you all doin’?”

    Watt then trotted out some rehearsed material that possibly went over better when he practiced it in the mirror.
    “Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun,” Watt said, in reference to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

    Watt needs to perhaps tread lightly, given that the Texans very well could face the Bengals again, in the postseason.

    I heard what Watt said in the post-game interview with Lisa Salters, cringed a little at the canned delivery, and then turned off the TV and went to bed.  I knew however that, when I woke up this morning, the media was going to be all over this for a variety of reasons:

    1. The game itself was boring and ugly football. There's really not much to say about it. You could talk about TJ Yates coming in and throwing a touchdown pass to D'Andre Hopkins (who made a spectacular catch) or you could talk about neither team running the ball, or the fact that most of the receivers on the field had the dropsies, or you can talk about JJ Watt saying words.

    2. There's nothing America likes more, than tearing down a good guy. Yes, it's easy to have Watt fatigue, especially in Houston where he's on seemingly every commercial.  But that's not what this is about. In America the only thing we love more than our heroes is to try and tear them down. It's because we're jealous of their success and have become very British in our class envy.  As Jeremy Clarkson once said "In America when they see someone in a Lamborghini they say "Someday I'll have one of those" while in Britain they say "Someday I'll see him out of that."  That sentiment is no longer the case. In America now when someone does good we say "Some day they're going to mess up, and I'm going to mock them for it."

    3. The devaluation of winning and losing. "It's not whether your win or lose, but how you play the game"  - Grantland Rice - It should not surprise you that a sportswriter came up with a quote that we now consider sacrosanct in sports.  Nevermind that it's bull. It does matter if you win or lose. Just as it matters whether you win or lose within the rules. Acting like our sports stars need to be statesmen after pulling off a large win is ridiculous on it's face. On the one hand we want JJ Watt to play hard on the field, on the other hand we want him to sing Kum-bai-ya with the opposition after sacking them.  Bull.  They made Andy Dalton look like a Red Rider BB Gun.  Suck it up and play better Andy, and quit griping about your feels.

    Monday Night Football: Stranger things have happpened.

    While last night's result wasn't New Mexico beating Boise State in terms of the magnitude of the upset, for that matter it wasn't even Holm/Rousey, it was a meaningful win for the Texans because they have now, finally, beaten a team with a winning record and one that is probably heading for the playoffs.

    And it was unexpected by most. (including me)

    Unfortunately, for the Texans, most of the media oxygen is going to be sucked up by a Red Rider BB Gun and Dalton's ridiculous response to the comments (hint: laugh it off sir) rather than the fact that the Texans defense played really, really well, was aided by some curious ball handling errors by the Bengals, and TJ Yates seemingly has Cincinnati's number.

    Still, it's a win.  And wins in the NFL are hard to come by, especially in an ugly game like the one Monday. Neither offense looked good and it's hard to tell if it was due to good defense or just more bad football being played in NFL prime-time games. I'm OK with the NFL moving games away from Sunday, but it would be nice if the quality of play was up to snuff.

    Going forward the Texans find themselves in the 3rd quarter of a season that could be key to any hopes they have for the post season.

    In the 1st quarter, they stumbled out of the gate to a 1-3 start. They took advantage of a soft 2Q schedule to go 2-2 before hitting the bye (luckily) right at the halfway mark.  Now they start the 3rd quarter 1-0 with some winnable games coming up.  All three teams, the Jets, the Saints, and the Bills can be beaten but it's possible the Texans go 0-3 as well. Especially if the offense continues to sputter, the run game is non-existent and the defense is inconsistent.

    If the Texans are going to make any noise, they have to make it now, because the 4th quarter of the season has them playing the Patriots at home (loss) before going on the road for three straight weeks to face the Colts (probable loss, given history) an improving Titans team, and then the Jaguars who are getting better every week. 

    Right now the team is 4-5, winning the next three would get them to 7-5, which means that going 2-2 in the 4th quarter of the season means a 9-7 final record.  That COULD be enough for the division, given that the Colts will be without Andrew Luck for a few weeks.

    While that all seems rosy my thought is still that they are going to be closer to 8-8, 7-9. I think they go 1-2 over the next three games before finishing 2-2 or 3-1 depending on what happens with the Colts.  Amazingly, that MIGHT be enough to win the sorry AFC South.

    Some random thoughts:

    1. Benardrick McKinney - McKinney is easily the best LB on the team right now, and the only one who is flashing some speed.  Cushing is the signal caller and, behind Watt, the defensive leader, but he has slowed considerably, due in large part to unfortunate knee problems, and McKinney is clearly much faster than Cushing right now.

    2. Whitney Mercilus - Jadeveon who?  Mercilus, in a contract year, is playing lights out. I suspect this is because he wants to get paid, which means I'd think twice about signing him in the off-season. For the Texans right now this is working out well.

    3. Running game - In short, there is none. At the end of the first half the Texans leading rusher was Brian Hoyer with 15 yards. Overall the team ended with a paltry 82 yards rushing and Jonathan Grimes was the leading rusher with 33 yards. To be fair, the Bengals were worse, tallying only 73 yards rushing for the game.

    4. Defensive speed - The Texans defense is still painfully slow at the LB and S position, McKinney notwithstanding. I was surprised that the Bengals continued to try and feed the ball to Hill, instead of Bernard who was having a much easier time running around the Texans slow LB corps. This is a need that must be addressed in future drafts/free agency

    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Monday Night Football: Yes, the Texans "could" win, but they probably "won't".

    Game Info:

    Home Team: Cincinnati Bengals (-10.5) (as of 6:00 AM Monday)

    Visiting Team: Houston Texans

    O/U: 46.5

    The best thing about the Texans playing the Bengals tonight on Monday Night Football is that you weren't saddled on Sunday being stuck watching this train-wreck of a team play. The bad news is that you're going to be stuck watching bad football on Monday Night, during a time-frame when a lot of new eyes might tune in to see if the Bengals are any good. This means potentially more people than usual turning the dial over to watch what is possibly one of the best teams in the league take on what is undoubtedly one of the worst.

    In the immortal words of Rick Perry: "Oops."

    Searching for a glimmer of hope, Texans fans are latching onto the fact that the team is in the woeful AFC South where a 3-5 record is good enough for 2nd place and, in the not-so-great AFC, means that only a game or two separates the Texans from Wild Card contention. Coming off the off (not bye) week the Texans feel they should be rested and the oft-maligned coaching staff has enjoyed an extra week to study tape to try and find the weaknesses in a Cincy team that has shown few so far.

    Is it a trap game, as Houston Chronicle Jerome Solomon calls it? I don't think so.  For one thing the Texans have won the last five straight over Cincinnati and this means that the team in orange and black should be focused. 

    If anything, this is a revenge game for the Bengals.  As such I think that the final score could be a sloppy as the weather is likely to be.  It's supposed to be cold, and rainy, which doesn't bode well for a Texans team who has had difficulties running the ball, and stopping the run.

    The Bengals will hit the Texans defense with the dual threat of former LSU running back Jeremy Hill, and former UNC stand-out Giovanni Bernard. I expect Bernard especially to expose the Texans lack of speed at LB and S, and Hill, near the end of the game, to pound the Texans undersized defense into submission.

    Even IF the Texans defense slows down the Bengal's running attack, there's still the problem of stopping Andy Dalton and the passing game, which have been excellent this year.  Ask yourself this: Who on the Texans can cover A.J. Green? Mohammed Sanu, or Marvin Jones?  Do you really think that a slow, suddenly undersized, Brian Cushing is going to be able to cover Tyler Eifert?

    On the offensive side of the ball the Texans could be in even bigger trouble.  Vontez Burfict is back, and he will be the most active defender in the game (sorry JJ) and the Bengals defensive line has the potential to make the Texans offensive line look non-existent. The Bengals also put tremendous pressure on opposing QB's which means that it could be a long night for Brian Hoyer.

    Still, this is the NFL and, as we saw on Sunday, even the biggest of underdogs can find themselves in with a chance.  So, if the Texans play solid, mistake-free football, return Dalton back to the turnover-prone QB that he has been historically and find a way to generate some offense they could find a way to win.

    But, probably not.  I think this game is going to be illustrative of how the Bengals have improved, and just how far the Texans have fallen.

    Prediction:  Texans 3  Bengals 38

    Remember this as well:  Monday Nights in the NFL have not been known recently for stirring football.  Although it has been somewhat better this year, I think this game reverts us back to form.

    I like the Bengals, and the under since I think Cincinnati is going to have to cover this number basically on their own.

    Sunday, November 15, 2015

    College Football week 11 thoughts:

    After a Saturday that saw four of the Top Ten in the (idiotic) CFP Top Ten fall to defeat a nation of fans turns it's eyes to the Committee to see what comes next....

    Some thoughts.

    1. The SEC is overrated. - I've thought this for a while, but there's no denying it now. An average Ole Miss team beat a good Alabama team that beat an average LSU and Miss State team and a Wisconsin team that's not even going to win it's division in the B1G. Alabama is going to be the #2 team in the season ending CFP poll, and make the playoff, mainly because everyone (wrongly) views the SEC as still being the best conference in all the land.

    2. The PAC-12 is very balanced. - But they don't have an elite team. Because of this they're beating the crap out of one another and, unlike the SEC teams, don't have a true "off-week" on their schedule. They also don't have a true "elite" team, which means that everyone now has two-plus losses and the conference is all but assured of missing out on the CFP.

    3. The ACC has one good team.  Clemson. Both Florida State and North Carolina are above-average but they are not 'good' in terms of the CFP. We think that Clemson is good but if they lose to North Carolina in the ACC championship game then you would be advised to compare them to the PAC-12.

    4. Baylor is NOT a good team. They got their helmets handed to them by OU, the first 'good' team they played all year, at home, in a game that was not competitive. Despite this they only fell to 10 in the AP Poll. After losing to OU in the manner they did Baylor should have fallen to around 15. Art Briles is a great offensive coordinator, but does not appear to have what it takes to bring a good defense to the field.

    5. The CFP only watches certain games. How else do you explain them ranking Houston at 24 despite the program having more wins over teams with plus .500 records than Baylor? This week, Houston beat a good Memphis team with their back-up QB. They are undefeated and will probably find themselves somewhere around 20 in the CFP rankings being released Tuesday.  It's clear that the CFP is watching the Power 5 big games, and little else. For all of the promise this process is proving to be more corrupt and biased than the B(C)S. Either go to 4 16 team super-conferences or just blow it all up and let's go back to the old bowl system.

    And finally.....

    6. Michigan controls it's own destiny folks. Of course, this team is taking years off fans' lives, but they are way ahead of where I thought they would be before the season started.

    My Top 10: (Remember, I'm only ranking on what has happened on the field, not stupid metrics like "game control" or "circumstances surrounding a loss" or whatever else the CFP Committee decides to invent to fit the rankings like they want.  Losses only matter in how good/bad they were. (In other words: OU is punished for losing to Texas, while Notre Dame is punished for losing to the only really good team they played, but get some credit for the Navy win)

    1. Ohio State - I've explained this before, defending National Champions don't get knocked off the perch until someone beats them.

    2. Clemson - Has proven to me that they belong here.

    3. Oklahoma State - Undefeated HAS to mean something.

    4. Iowa  - See #3.

    5. Alabama - I struggle putting them here, but this is probably right.

    6. Oklahoma - That Texas loss is puzzling

    7. Notre Dame - Best loss of all the top teams, but their schedule is weak otherwise (excepting Navy)

    8. Houston  - Still has to play Navy, which would be a big win. (and, see #3)

    9. Florida  - That LSU loss is looking worse and worse.

    10. Michigan State  - Nebraska?  Nebraska?

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Introducing the College Football League (Part II) The NCAA "Feeder" Conferences.

    Part 1: Overview

    For part two of my imaginary rethinking of the structure of college football I put quite a bit of thought into the structure of the 'new' NCAA division.  This is a modified take on the current "Group of 5" travesty that prohibits many schools from ever having a shot at a championship, but doesn't demote them as far as FCS.

    The 'new' NCAA division would operate using the same amount of scholarships as current NCAA Division 1 schools but would be allowed to advance their lot through a promotion/relegation system that would give them the chance to compete in the big dollar range with the top 64.  To make things easy, I've aligned this in a four conference alignment with each conference serving as a potential 'feeder' conference to each big 4 conference. I'll denote the relationships below.

    American Athletic Conference: (ACC Feeder) Unlike the "Power 4" conferences there's going to be little past ties between these new conferences, only a similarity in geographic area. In many cases, as with the AAC, I've kept (or even brought back) historic conference names for nostalgia's sake. The line-up would be as follows:

    Central Florida, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Appalachian State, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, Florida International, Georgia Southern, Army, Navy, Florida Atlantic, South Alabama, East Carolina.

    Southwest Conference: (SEC Feeder) Of all my proposed changes, this is one that's purely nostalgic as I'd like to see the Southwest conference return. I also want to see it be Texas Centric. I thought about bringing in some FCS Texas schools here, but decided against it. The line-up would be as follows:

    Southern Methodist, Arkansas State, Tulane, Tulsa, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas State, Houston, Georgia State, UTEP, UT-San Antonio, Louisiana-Monroe, UT-Arlington, Rice, Troy, Louisiana Tech, North Texas.

    Mid-American Conference: (Big-16 Feeder) As with the Southwest Conference, I wanted to keep MAC-tion around. I think it's good for the sport and there are some long-standing rivalries there that need to be maintained. I tried to augment them with regional schools to beef-up the roster. The line-up would be as follows:

    Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Northwestern, Temple, Marshall, Buffalo.

    Western Athletic Conference (PAC-16 Feeder): I thought, for a minute, about keeping the Mountain West. But then I remembered that the nostalgia for the wacky WAC is still pretty strong. Again, West of the Rockies is the hardest. The line-up would be as follows:

    Air Force, Idaho, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming, North Dakota State University, Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Hawaii

    1. Yes, there were some current Group of 5 teams that were omitted. In most cases they were not all that competitive anyway and would probably be better fits for a new FCS division.

    2. I considered omitting North Texas and adding Sam Houston State, but that didn't feel like the right thing to do.

    3. The only FCS teams that got a promotion were NDSU, Eastern Washington, Idaho State. I leave Hawaii in there but word is they might be dropping their program. If that were true I'd probably add in another one of the Dakota schools like SDSU.

    The logical next step would be to determine the new 4-confernce FCS division, which I might, or might not, complete.  This is an awful lot of work, although I will have some spare time on my hands going forward I'm not sure if it will be THAT much spare time.

    Again, cuss, discuss, etc.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    Introducing the College Football League: Overview (Revised)

    I mentioned, a couple of days ago, that I thought the future of big time college football was going to be centered on 4 16-team leagues. Clearly I think the way forward for this league is to decouple from the NCAA, retain a financial (and historical) stake with their parent universities and more closely couple with the NFL as a de-facto feeder league.  This would free the conferences from the rather silly (and arbitrary) rules that the NCAA likes to place on them, would bring the excesses of the recruiting process to the fore, and would normalize our relationship with the sport so that everyone is operating with their eyes wide open.

    Since some of the smaller schools are likely to riot (or, more importantly, sue) I would suggest adding in a promotion/relegation system that allows the top performers in the NCAA to be promoted to the CFL while the bottom CFL performers are relegated down to the NCAA.

    I realize, of course, that there would be much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over this. The NCAA would need to re-evaluate it's antiquated rules regarding "amateurism" and would have to admit schools who backed in (through relegation) despite the fact that this might mean they once received a stipend.  Boo Hoo.

    A second problem would be how to reward teams that moved up in the rankings. They certainly will have difficulty competing given that they will be (theoretically) using a lower caliber player, and just letting them take the players from the relegated teams probably won't help much (after all, those teams were relegated in the first place).  However, since an annual expansion draft isn't practical you're going to have to deal with this if you're a team coming up.  I'll expound more on this later.

    First things first, the structure: As I stated earlier it's a 4 conference league. The four conferences would be as follows:

    Atlantic Coast Conference: In order to make this work one current member had to be tossed.  Since Wake Forest is really better suited to be a NCAA school, I left them out of the equation and moved in Baylor and Texas Christian. I also moved Georgia Tech to the SEC to make room for West Virginia  The line-up would be as follows:

    Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, West Virginia, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Texas Christian.

    Southeast Conference: Hello Texas and Georgia Tech to bring the group to 16. This pretty much keeps or restores all of the regional rivalries, and provides a very good west division of 8 teams without watering down the East to too great of a degree. The line-up would be as follows:

    Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas aTm, Missouri, Texas, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt.

    PAC-16: This was my hardest conference to fill. In part because there are a dearth of teams out-west that could fit the bill.  What I did here was keep all 12 teams intact, and added to from remains of the Big XII and the team that fit from the Group of Five conferences. The line-up would be as follows:

    Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State.

    BIG-16: The only struggle here was what to do with the Kansas schools.  I thought, for a minute, about dropping them to the NCAA division but, in the end, decided to fill the roster with them since they're "Power 5" and I didn't want to remove any State schools from those ranks. This also made the decision to drop Northwestern for Iowa State easier. The line-up would be as follows:

    Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kansas State.

    There were, as you might imagine, some real problems that arose here.

    1. Is it right to "demote" Wake Forest and Northwestern ? Of all the private schools, I think they're the ones that makes the most sense. They would both have a decent shot at promotion out of the NCAA feeder conferences. (more on that later)

    2. What about Cincinnati? They had a cup of coffee as a B(C)S team and were competitive, and I thought for a minute about putting them in the place of either Kansas, or Kansas State, in the revised Big 16.  In the end though I left them in the NCAA division because I feel they're a better fit there. They, again, would have a good shot at promotion through the BIG 16's feeder conference.

    3. Houston? I know I've never been a big fan of Houston making a Power 5 conference, and that doesn't change here. Besides, I want them for something else later.

    The "next step" is to talk about the promotion/relegation system, how that would work and what it would mean for the end of the season as a whole.  That's for the next post. 

    Until then, drink it in.  I allow comments on this blog so feel free to opine.

    One thing though: I won't respond to "It'll never work!" comments.  OF COURSE it won't work. Because the NCAA is powerful and college football is a slave to tradition. This isn't about what will and won't "work". It's about imagining how things "could" be if we were to have the College Football League we wanted.

    This is what I want to see. What say you?

    Monday, November 9, 2015

    College Football: The Joke that is the College Football Playoff Committee rankings and other thoughts.

    You can call it "shakeout" Saturday or any other moniker that ESPN decides sounds right and you still have a college football weekend that provided some clarity and, in the mind of ESPN and CBS anyway, justified the CFP Selection Committee's sham ranking system.

    Oh, and Missouri.

    Some quick thoughts:

    1. This Missouri thing is a tempest in a teapot. What we're falling onto the fainting couch about, is an internal issue for the University of Missouri to work out.  No, Virginia, it doesn't mean that college football needs to go away (but it is concerning, to me, that so-called "conservative voices" only got convinced it did after a team made a civil rights statement) as I think the future of big-time collegiate athletics takes place outside the "amateur" auspices of the NCAA regardless.

    2. No, Virginia, the Alabama Crimson Tide destruction of the LSU Tigers on Saturday night did NOT validate the CFP Committee's placement of them in the 4th slot. Instead, it revealed the rankings to be the sham that they are.  Per the committee's own prior statements, and their criteria for other teams, what is yet to come is not included in the evaluation.  Except, it appears, in the case of Alabama. 

    The truth is that the CFP Committee thought Alabama was good and they ranked them thusly. However, they also ranked LSU too high suggesting that they are playing fast and loose with the rankings to make some wins look better than others.

    Why are they doing this?  TV ratings and dollars pure and simple.

    While these two issues seem to be unrelated they are, in fact, tied very close to the hip.  Big-time college athletics is not about the student athlete any longer, nor should it be. The problem is throwing the baby out with the bathwater which several conservative (and progressive) pundits are trying to do, each for their own (political) reasons.

    Progressive/Socialists don't want college athletics because it takes away from funding for the liberal arts colleges. They view athletic success, in pursuit of individual glory, to be counter-productive and damaging to minority communities.  Of course, many of these same people support gambling and state-run lotteries which are also damaging to minority and poor communities so take that at face value.

    My biggest concern is with those on the right, who have suddenly found religion on college sports because a football team did something to advance a civil rights issue. It is probably true that many conservatives have fiscal issues stemming from the financial drain placed on a university due to sports. It's also true that they are reserving most of their anger for something called "liberal social engineering" and have now decided that sports should go because of it.  No matter your intentions, coming to the party consistently after these issues is a bad look.

    The fact is, like it or no, college sports is a key factor in establishing the identity of a university. It fosters a communal spirit and generates a shared sense of pride, and sadness. In short, it forms a bond. These bonds are used to drive fundraising.  And, yes, a lot of this fundraising is for athletics, but a lot of it benefits the academic institution as well.  People often overlook that fact.

    A better way forward would be to decouple big-time college sports from the NCAA.  Let the universities reap the profits, while maintaining the connection, and let those who can be paid a stipend for their work earn it.  Instead of forcing athletes to declare a major in "sports administration studies" make them take personal finance and communication classes, while still letting the ones who want to take classes on scholarship.  Also, remove the athletic scholarship fund from the general scholarship fund, but let the profits from the athletic departments be given to the schools on a tax-free basis.

    At some point, college football is gong to reorganize into 4-16 team super-conferences. Let's decouple this from the NCAA, call it the College Football League, and reorganize the remaining (read: unprofitable) athletic programs into a new, smaller organization more focused on academics with less scholarships and less drive.  Stop the silly practice of cross-division scheduling and move forward from there.

    If you still want to try and give "everyone a shot" (which is ridiculous) then implement some type of promotion/relegation system which punishes those who can't make it and rewards those who can.

    As for the College Football Playoff?  It's very simple: The top team in each super-conference enters the tournament.  Everyone else who qualifies gets a bowl if they're available.  No-one in the new NCAA structure goes to a bowl, they're in the current FCS playoff system to begin with.

    The one fly in the ointment here is whether or not you can find 64 college football programs who generate enough money to fly solo.  If not, you'll have to look at trimming the super-conferences and just taking those who do, with a few spots reserved for the promotion/relegation placements.

    This change is coming anyway, and it will also stop some of the smaller schools from robbing academic Peter to pay athletic Paul in a vain effort to climb the ladder.

    Friday, November 6, 2015

    College Football: No FIVE this week (or for the rest of the year probably)

    There will be no Five this week, in part because I've been terribly busy in both real life and with following the Houston elections on the other blog.

    Because I'm so far underwater, and am missing a week I need, this effectively kills my goal of reaching 50% over the course of the year.  Because of this I'm unsure if there will be any more Five's on a go-forward basis.

    What I will try to continue doing is taking a look at the College Football Landscape as the College Football Playoff Committee continues to prove that they are nothing more than a cabal whose primary job is to include their favored teams.

    There are so many big, important match-ups this week that watching them all is going to prove impossible.  Still, I'm going to try.

    Enjoy the week.

    Monday, November 2, 2015

    Football College and Pro: Some things.

    1. I still know nothing about College Football. Another horrible week (thanks Nebraska, Arizona State and Pitt) has me at 19-31 ATS (38%) and looking at an overall losing season for the remainder of the year if I don't get things in gear.  The scary thing, even if I go 20-0 (not likely) the BEST I can hope for is 39-31 which is around 55%.  That's if I run the table for the rest of the year.

    I've had bad runs picking college football games in the past, but nothing like I'm seeing this year. I'm trying out a new ratings system this year and it's going into the scrap heap.  For the next few weeks I'm going back to my old system and, where that's short, am playing line moves in my Five. 

    I will say this, had I stuck with 10 games (as I did in prior years) I'd be doing fairly well.  I haven't ran all of the numbers yet but I think I'd be right around 50%.  This means that I'm still picking games OK, but doing a HORRIBLE job picking which games to pick.

    2. Duke.Was.Robbed. And while Miami has been partaking in some high-caliber trolling since the play it's telling just how far that program has fallen that they're celebrating a steal-win in a season where they underperformed so greatly that Al Golden got fired.

    The U is a mess.  Show some pride.

    3. After reading this I almost wish the Texans would have lost the game yesterday.

    The Texans are not a good football team. Unfortunately, the AFC South is the worst division in football.  This means that the massive changes the team needs are not going to happen because (and you know this is true) the brain-trust running the franchise believes they are just a bounce or three away from true contention.

    The Texans wins this year?

    Tampa Bay (3-4)
    Jacksonville (2-5)
    Tennessee (1-6)

    In other words, they're just good enough to NOT get a top five draft pick but are going to either back into the playoffs with a horrible record or, are going to finish just behind the Colts because they will lose the tie-breaker.  After 9-7 last year a 7-9 or 8-8 finish, whether they make the playoffs or no, will be a step back. 

    Hell, the play on the field is a step back. It's obvious this is a dysfunctional franchise that needs an overhaul.  The only people that refuse to accept that are the ones making the decisions or being paid to put a brave face on things.  At least the media is starting to get it.

    4. My Team: The San Francisco 49ers are imploding. And if reading that story reminds you a little bit of the Texans, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise. Bad Ownership?  Check.  Bad General Managers who have bungled several drafts?  Check.  Bad Coaching decisions? Check.

    The only real difference is that the 49ers actually have a once-good QB.  And they've ruined him. Now they're going to pin the blame on Kaepernick ignoring the fact that they are being out-coached and out-talented in every game.

    Actually, it sounds a LOT like the Texans, who are getting out-coached and out-talented in almost every game.  The only difference is the divisions in which the two teams play.  If the Texans were in the NFC West they might be winless so-far this year.

    5. The College Football Playoff Committee will release their first Top 25 tomorrow.

    They are going to get it wrong.  I know this because they are going to undervalue the American Athletic Conference and put too much value on the SEC, ACC, PAC-12, B1G and BIG XII conferences, none of which are particularly strong this year.  Here's what I think their Top 10 is going to look like:

    1. LSU - Good team, but hasn't really played anyone yet.
    2. Clemson - Again, good team, but how quality are their existing wins to date?
    3. Ohio State - Good team, hasn't looked the part yet.
    4. Baylor - Their schedule to date should exclude them from the top 4.
    5. TCU - I think they're better than Baylor, but who knows at this point?
    6. Alabama - Because, Saban and SEC bias.
    7. Stanford - Nevermind the loss, let's focus on getting a PAC-12 team in there.
    8. Michigan State - No committee love for the B1G
    9. Notre Dame - Most overrated team in the country.
    10. Oklahoma State - 2nd most overrated team in the country.

    My Top Ten looks like this:

    1. Ohio State - You don't knock the defending champions out of the top spot until they're beaten on the field.
    2. LSU - They have looked the part.
    3. Clemson - We'll see about them this week.
    4. Memphis - Has the best resume of any of the undefeated teams not listed above.
    5. TCU - At least they've played teams with a pulse. (Looking at you Baylor)
    6. Michigan State - I won't put a one-loss team above an undefeated one unless said undefeated team hasn't played anyone of note (Hi Baylor!!!)
    7. Iowa - See above
    8. Houston - Ditto
    9. OSU - Ditto
    10. Toledo - I don't love them here, but the Arkansas and ISU wins look solid.

    Ignoring everything else, I will argue that the American Athletic Conference, this year, is just as tough of an out as is the ACC or PAC-12 and their conference wins, especially when the top teams play each other, should be weighted accordingly.

    Does this mean I think Iowa, or Houston or OSU or Toledo could beat Alabama?

    No, but that's not the question. The top 25 is not a power ranking, nor should it be. It's a representation of where schools rank based on their play in the current season to date. Actually, on power rankings I have Alabama ranked in the top 4.  Just so you don't think I'm totally crazy.

    Ignorant about College Football spreads this year?  I'll give you that one.

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