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A NEW FEATURE ON NUMBERS

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I AM DOING THIS

So, I’ve been thinking.

I’d like to find a format to talk to you about things in. A format where we can talk about things that we think are good, and things that we think aren’t.

Perhaps... a numerical system.

Now, I’m not going to waste your time trying to say what the very best things are. Others can do that. I’m also not here to tell you what the very worst things are. (We’re all aware of Rutgers and UConn.) No, I’d like to discuss things that are... just sorta crummy, and then things that are pretty good, but maybe not great.

On a numerical scale, things that would rate maybe... a 4, or an 8.

[looks directly at you]

That’s right, it’s...

[pulls sheet off display board]

[“Happy Days Are Here Again” starts blaring]

Let’s begin.

4: THE PAC-12

Let’s just say it: the Pac-12 is frustrating. A conference that really should have all the advantages, and doesn’t use any of them. A bunch of schools with beautiful campuses, most of them in lovely settings that almost never experience 20 degrees below zero. Why would anyone ever spend time in Ann Arbor or State College when they could be in Palo Alto or Los Angeles or Boulder? They’ve got massively wealthy donor bases, too, and were the first conference to pull off their own television network. And their performance slightly exceeds that of the American Conference.

8: THE PAC-12 REALIZING THAT EVERYONE HATES LEVI’S STADIUM

This is progress! It only took 17,000 people showing up for an unwatchable and utterly irrelevant conference championship game to realize that their format will never be the same as the Big Ten’s or SEC’s, where their title games are within a short day’s drive of almost all the key teams, so there’s no point in trying for a permanent geographic center when that center is an unlovable, unliveable monument to corporate expense-account thinking.

They haven’t announced what their plan will be going forward, but there’s three good options:

  1. Play conference championship games at home sites, because they’ve got some of the best gameday environments in FBS, and unless it’s Indy or Atlanta, neutral sites suck, OR
  2. Play it in Los Angeles, which is warm and nice and people like going to and it will be extremely funny every year that USC doesn’t make it
  3. Play it at the new stadium in Vegas and be the cool conference that does that.

Any of these is progress.

4: THE GRADUAL EXPANSION OF FBS

I get it. Everyone wants to be big-time. But is anyone truly served by the continued bloat of FBS to its current 129 teams? Who benefits from Liberty and Coastal Carolina playing at this level? (Aside from Hugh Freeze.) It’s a fool’s errand and everyone would be better off if 20-30 teams dropped to FCS.

8: DANA HOLGORSEN’S TENURE AT WEST VIRGINIA

Winning seasons and bowl appearances in 7 of 8 seasons. That’s hard to do anywhere, let alone at a geographically-isolated program - one that transitioned during his tenure to a conference that only accentuated this isolation. He looked like the future of football in demolishing Clemson in the Orange Bowl in his first season! That’s pretty good!

But!

No major bowls after that! Only two more top-25 finishes! Squandered an excellent campaign from Will Grier with a late nosedive in 2018.

4: MANDOLIN SLICERS

POTENTIAL REWARD: Sliced vegetables.

RISK: Almost-certain eventual fingertip removal.

The only thing with a worse ceiling-to-cost ratio is hiring Bobby Petrino to run your football program.

8: THE 1992 FILM “SNEAKERS”

Is this an all-time classic? I’ll reluctantly admit that it’s probably not. However, it’s got a stellar cast - Sidney Poitier! Robert Redford! Ben Kingsley! James Earl Jones! - and a tech-thriller plotline that’s surprisingly not that dated 27 years later.

4: COLLEGE CHIP KELLY V2.0

Maybe this will work out eventually. Or maybe he was innovative in one era and everyone caught up while he was gone.

8: SOUP

It’s really cold out there right now. You know what’s always got your back? Soup. Maybe it’s not a meal on its own. But hey, you can keep a can in your desk. It’ll be there for you in a week or a year. Soup’s reliable, and delicious.

Soup is an 8. Fight me.

4: NEBRASKA’S TENURE IN THE BIG TEN

It looked good early on, with the Huskers riding into the Big Ten Championship Game in their second year in the conference. It’s been slowly diminishing returns ever since, with a total record of 60-43 and things bottoming out the last two seasons, where [checks notes] they went 4-8 in back-to-back seasons, something few teams have done in recent memory.

Hey, wait-

8: THE CINCINNATI BEARCATS GOING 11-2 IN 2018

You’d think I’d rate this higher, wouldn’t you? I mean, the Cincinnati Bearcats - who I am a fan of - went 11-2 with a bowl victory over Virginia Tech, fresh on the heels of going 4-8 in two consecutive years (maybe you’ve heard of this? maybe you’ve seen something about this?)

Anyways, don’t get me wrong, it’s great. I loved it. But the season wasn’t even over when Luke Fickell was atop coaching-candidate watchlists. This is the thing about being in the AAC - you can’t ever get a 10/10 for a season, because too much success almost ensures that your coach’ll jump. The Bearcats - who were very young last year and have recruited strong - could well compete for the G5 New Year’s Six slot in 2019 - and Fickell will almost certainly parlay it into a Big Ten coaching job.

But hey, 8 is better than 4.

4: COFFEE

“You’re just throwing a contrarian food argument in here so we’ll argue in the comments”.

Anyways, I drink coffee every day. I almost never enjoy it, but I feel like garbage without it. I drink the crappy Maxwell House at the office, but you know what? Expensive coffee is only slightly better, and then you’re spending $5 and that money’s eventually gonna end up funding something like this:

[cracks sugar-free Red Bull] no thanks, nerd.

8: THE SEC EAST BEING ALMOST COMPETITIVE

Sure, Georgia won it again, as we expected them to. But! Dan Mullen has Florida looking like they’re on the right track again! Kentucky’s good! Missouri could make hay with Kelly Bryant next year!

Any of these teams are going to lose to Alabama again next year!

About that -

4: THE LOOMING INEVITABILITY OF BAMA-CLEMSON V

Who knows, maybe this is the year something different could happen. Maybe Michigan will make the leap.

[raucous laughter]

But no, seriously, it’s gonna kinda suck.

8: THE PROMISE OF THE 2019 SEASON

The 2018 season, let’s admit it, kinda sucked. There weren’t a ton of truly memorable games, there wasn’t much chaos at the top, and in the end, the two teams we expected to be in the final were the two teams we got in the final. Yes, that game was hilarious, but we can do better.

Maybe we won’t! The great part is not knowing. Maybe your team will surprise everyone and win the College Football Playoff!

Or maybe they’ll go 4-8.