Friday

College or Pro? & DFTU


Hello again everybody...

We've arrived at the end of another week, and for me anyway, it couldn't come soon enough. Not only because a weekend of rest should be just enough to kick the rest of this virus out of my system, but because there's a solid slate of college football games on Saturday!

Which leads me into my first topic today. I've been developing this theory for a while and I think I'm finally at a spot where I can clearly communicate it. Simply put, I'm finding myself more and more a fan of college sports over professional, and today I'll tell you why. Then it's this week's version of the DFTU. And just in case you were getting bored with the DFTU, there's an addition this week... check it out!

"Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men."
- Kin Hubbard (1868 - 1930), American cartoonist, humorist, and journalist

As someone who often proclaims himself, "very immature for my age", this one's in my wheelhouse!


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So here's my latest theory: I like college sports more than pro sports.

For years now, I've felt that way specifically in terms of basketball. I have less than no interest in the NBA. Yes, the players are tremendous (copyright Tim Brewster) athletes. And yes, what they do on the court defies what you'd think was physically possible.

But I want to watch "basketball". I want to see the Princeton offense take a less-talented team and make them competitive with one of the big boys. I want to see a zone defense challenge a team to beat you with outside shooting. I want to see a motion offense executed with precision to create 3 straight lay-ups. I want to see a high-low post game befuddle a smaller defense. I want to see a coach actually have an impact on the game he's participating in.
You don't get that in the NBA. Coaches in the NBA are no more than glorified babysitters. And what happens off the court seems to take on as much, if not more importance than what takes place on the court. And the schemes and plays that are run, are outpaced by the athleticism of the players executing them.

And now I'm getting the same feeling about football. I want to preface this part of my discussion by saying that this is the first year in ages where I'm not participating in Fantasy Football. It's not that I have anything against Fantasy games, or the people who play them. Frankly, I just needed a break. But without Fantasy Football to draw me on Sunday, it's given me a chance to really assess my feelings about the pro game versus the college game.

And what I'm realizing is that some of the same precepts that draw me to college basketball over the NBA, also apply to football.

Each year I get more and more excited for the start of the college football season and less and less interested in the start of the NFL season.

Again, there's no question that NFL players are extraordinary athletes. And obviously the talent-level in the pro game is light-years ahead of the college game. But I think that's my problem. Professional athletes these days have gotten so strong and so fast that their athleticism has out-paced the intellectual aspect of the game.

Teams in the NFL don't "out-scheme" each other any more. The best coaches in the NFL aren't in that class because they know significantly more about football than other coaches, they're considered the best because they're better able to manage egos and posses.

There's a reason that the "spread offense" is taking over college football, but hasn't made a dent in the pros. There's a reason that the "triple option" works for Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, but would never be attempted by Marvin Lewis with the Bengals.

Schemes matter in college football. Coaches matter. The chess-game is in full effect. And I guess that's what I really dig. I've never been terribly athletic (shocking to most of you I know), but I've always enjoyed out-thinking opponents in sports. Or at the very least try to figure out what coaches are thinking as they try to out-think their opponents.

So I hope it doesn't come to the point where I stop watching pro football the same way I've stopped watching pro basketball. But I think from at least an enjoyment standpoint, the pendulum has pretty much swung to the college game.

But that's just me. If you disagree, attach a comment and tell us why!

Finally for this week it's time for everybody's favorite segment: Dan's Favorite Teams Update! And today, there's an addition to the group! Let's begin...

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 80-66, in second place in the AL Central and 1 game behind the Chicago White Sox.

3-3 on their home-stand? Not what Twins fans were hoping for considering they were playing Detroit and Kansas City. And yet, it's hard to be real worked up about it. The Twins entered the home-stand trailing the Sox by 1.5 games, and finish it trailing by 1 game. How can you be upset by that?

I guess if you're a "glass half empty" kind of person you could point out that had the Twins won each of their home series, they'd be tied with the White Sox. And dare we dream of a 5-1 home-stand, that would've given them the division lead.

But that's past, and now we have to stare down the barrel of a 10-game road trip. 3 in Baltimore, 3 in Cleveland and 4 in Tampa Bay. The Twins have traditionally struggled in Baltimore, nobody wants to play the Indians right now and the Rays are still fighting to remain in control of the NL East.

On paper this looks more daunting than the 14-gamer they just finished. But the beauty of baseball is that it's not played on paper. And just when you think you've got an angle on how a series or a trip is going to go, somebody gets hot and blows your whole prediction to shreds.

Translation? I'm not going to make a call on how this road trip is going to go. It's a cliche for a reason, but you take them one game at a time and hope the White Sox keep giving them opportunities to win the division.

The saga starts tonight against the Orioles as Scott Baker takes the bump to face Daniel Cabrera.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 71-74, in second place in the NL West and 3.5 games behind the L.A. Dodgers.

*Sigh*

Where do I even begin? The offense has been bad since June. But for the better part of the season, the starting pitching has been good enough to pick up the slack. But over the last couple of weeks, the starters have fallen off the map. Brandon Webb is suddenly no longer a lock for the NL Cy Young. Dan Haren is getting beat all over the ballpark. And Randy Johnson is having back problems.

Oof.

If I try to find some ray of light in this for Arizona, it's that the Dodgers are as inherently flawed as the D'backs are. They're just as capable of an 8-game losing streak as they are of an 8-game winning streak. So until Arizona's mathematically eliminated, they still have a solid shot.

What's worrisome is that barring an unforeseeable hot-streak, this team doesn't have much of a shot in the playoffs. And considering the minor-league talent they moved out during the season in an effort to take their shot this year, you have to wonder how they'll reload for next season.

Do I sound like I've got my dauber down? Yeah, a little bit you could say. I'm not giving up. If we didn't give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor (copyright Animal House), I'm not giving up now!

Arizona opens up a 7-game home-stand tonight against Cincinnati with Brandon Webb once again trying to earn his 20th win against Aaron Harang for the Reds.

Wisconsin Badgers: Wait, wait, wait, don't close the browser window just yet! (I'm looking at you Gopher fans)

Remember the "D" in DFTU, these are my favorite teams, they don't have to be yours. Besides, you're gonna love it when November 15th comes around and once again the contest for Paul Bunyan's Axe is decided!

The Badgers are coming off an impressive 51-14 win over Marshall at Camp Randall. The Thundering Herd landed the first punch in the game, going out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Marshall staggered Bucky early by selling out completely to stop the run. There were at least 8 guys and sometimes 9 in the box on Wisconsin's first two offensive series in an attempt to bottle up P.J. Hill. And that worked just fine until Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst made the adjustment and started calling plays which allowed QB Allen Everidge to throw the ball over the Marshall defense.

The result was 51 unanswered points by Wisconsin to turn an early deficit into a rout.

But now it's Wisconsin's first road trip of the season, and it's into a tough mid-major territory in the form of Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 1-0 with a victory at Rutgers to open their season almost 2 weeks ago. That win looked a lot better before North Carolina went into New Jersey and laid a 44-12 Tony Soprano-like whipping on the Scarlet Knights.

But Fresno still can't be taken lightly. This is a big test for Wisconsin. After being favored by 20+ points in their first two games, Bucky's only a 2-point favorite this week. And a lot of the folks who look for a "sexy upset" each week are picking Fresno to win here.

Still, this is a game that Wisconsin should win. They're bigger, stronger, and I'd argue more athletic than the Bulldogs. And that should translate into a win, even on the road. I make no predictions (those came yesterday), but I'm confident that Wisconsin can win this game. If the defense plays with sound fundamentals (i.e. doesn't get caught out of position and blow coverages), the offense is good enough to win this game convincingly.

Kickoff is 9:30pm central time on ESPN2. I'll be finishing viewing USC/Ohio State, but you can bet my DVR will be humming come 9:30. Just don't call me with the score! Please! I'm begging you!

That's all for this week ladies and gents. I'm back on Monday with the Week 3 Post-Mortem and the return of the Mailbag! Until then, thanks for reading!

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