October 31, 2006
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has asked his mother to stop using his picture in TV commercials touting her candidacy for a Texas appeals court.
In commercials running on Austin stations, Mina Brees had been using a picture of her son in the uniform of his former team, the San Diego Chargers, to emphasize her ties to football.
“I think the major point here is that my mother is using me in a campaign, and I’ve made it known many times I don’t want to be involved,” Drew Brees said Monday.
I’ve been following Drew Brees’ career since the late 90’s when he was the starting QB for Purdue, and I was sitting in the stands watching those games. At that time, and since, I have never heard anyone with a negative thing to say about Drew. In fact, he has been routinely praised for the work he does in the community, and with his recent trade to New Orleans, he’s very active in helping to revive the city after Katrina.
So my initial thought is to take his side. This is even further the case given what I know about people in politics, who are usually willing to do just about anything to get elected. And with a little more of the back story, it sounds like his mother is blatantly trying to use her connection to a famous football player to bolster her campaign:
She said her connection to football is relevant to her campaign because her father, a successful high school coach, used sports to teach her a strong work ethic that she would bring to the judicial bench.
Drew Brees, who won a state football championship with Westlake High School in suburban Austin, said he got no response from his mother when he first heard about the ads and called her to ask that she stop using them. His agent sent her a letter Oct. 20 threatening legal action, he said.
He called his relationship with his mother “nonexistent” after it crumbled six years ago when he refused to hire her as his agent.
Hmm, it’s funny how she wants to show her ties to football and how it has helped her work ethic, and yet gloss over the fact that she’s basically estranged from her son due to her past attempts to ride his coattails. People who are threatened with legal action from their children may have a great work ethic, but I’d have to think that some Texas voters would worry about her commitment to “family values”.
But one bit of this story made me really angry. Sometimes you can see in certain comments just how duplicitous and conniving people can be, and this quote is a perfect example:
“I love Drew very much, and I’m very proud of him. But sometimes when people are following a career path, they change,” she said.
So she says she’s very proud of her son, but in the way she makes this statement, it’s clear that she’s unhappy with the “change” he’s gone through. If she’s so unhappy with the “change”, why is she trying to hype her connection to him?
When you look at that statement again, perhaps she’s unconsciously talking about herself. She was probably a good mother, and then when the time came for her son to enter the spotlight, she decided that it was time for her to bring her career in line with his, by becoming his agent. When that didn’t work, she pushed ahead to try for elected office, and used her position as the mother of an NFL QB, in a state where football is very important, to bolster her campaign. So who changed while following their career path, Drew or his mom?
With an attitude like that, is it any wonder that Drew describes his relationship with her as “nonexistent”?
October 28, 2006
Well, as I said, I’ve been pretty busy, and my internet access isn’t very good right now (DSL on a friend’s computer, who only has Internet Explorer, so I’m being battered by pop-up ads constantly). So this will be a bit quicker than most weeks…
UPDATE: Looks like I went 3-2 ATS, which isn’t bad. I think I’ve learned that I can’t predict anything MSU does, and that I take too much emotion into any Purdue game to accurately predict anything… But 3-2 is 3-2, and I’ll take that any day of the week.
#11 Notre Dame (6-1) @ Navy (5-2)
Vegas Says: Notre Dame -13.5
Notre Dame has proven all year that they’re very vulnerable to a strong passing attack. Their secondary isn’t all that good, and any team that can put the ball in the air can hurt them. This is even true of Purdue, who may only have scored 21 points on the Irish, yet put up 400 passing yards. But, against Navy, this doesn’t appear to be a problem. Navy runs over 300 yards/game, and passes only for about 50. Notre Dame’s run defense isn’t Michigan’s, by any means, but if they can stack the box against Navy, they should be able to keep them contained. Navy’s defense is decent, but not great, and they’re giving up over 200 ypg in the air, where Brady Quinn likes to beat you. They’ve given up points to everyone but Stanford, and today is unlikely to be any different.
With a two-TD line, and my deep hatred of Notre Dame, it’s tough to pull the trigger on this one. But I think they win this handily.
Prediction: Notre Dame covers
Predicted Final Score: Notre Dame 38, Navy 20
Final Score: Notre Dame 38, Navy 14
Michigan State (4-4, 1-3) @ Indiana (4-4, 2-2)
Vegas Says: MSU -7
It’s gut-check time. Michigan State came up with a record comeback last week against Northwestern, so it’s time to figure out whether they played their typical fluky post-meltdown awesome performance, or whether they’ve righted the ship and will start playing with confidence again. And it’s a crucial win for both teams, as it gets them one-win away from bowl eligibility. Indiana has road games against Minnesota and Purdue, and a sure-loss home game at Michigan, so they need this win to have a shot at a bowl. Michigan State’s path is a bit easier, with home games against Purdue and Minnesota, and a road game at Penn State, but if they play today without confidence, every one of those teams can have their number.
So this is a game that can’t be analyzed very well by stats. MSU is consistently inconsistent, led by a quarterback who is nearly unstoppable when he’s playing well, and looks like a freshman otherwise. Indiana is a young team that has talent but little experience, who nobody expected to win 4 games by now, and shocked the world by coming from behind to beat Iowa. I think MSU is going to stumble a bit out of the gates, but take over this game early in the 2nd quarter to win by a good margin.
Prediction: Michigan State covers
Predicted Final Score: MSU 37, Indiana 24
Final Score: Indiana 46, MSU 21
Miami U (5-2, 2-1) @ Georgia Tech (5-2, 3-1)
Vegas Says: Georgia Tech -5
You know, this is a game Georgia Tech should dominate. Miami has a stiff run defense, but Georgia Tech has Calvin Johnson, who is probably the best receiver in the country. Georgia Tech also has a tough defense, and Miami’s offense hasn’t looked very good when playing anyone with a pulse. But something tells me that Georgia Tech is going to respond to a tough run defense by trying to run the ball, and may (as usual) forget that they’ve got an all-world WR who makes cornerbacks look like girl scouts. I can only hope that doesn’t happen, and they let Johnson show why he’s so highly praised. I also hope GT no players get beaten, shot, or maimed by the thugs of “da U”…
Prediction: Georgia Tech covers
Predicted Final Score: GT 21, Miami 14
Final Score: Georgia Tech 30, Miami 23
Penn State (5-3, 3-2) @ Purdue (5-3, 2-2)
Vegas Says: Penn State -3
These two teams are 5-3, and before the season, both would probably have been expected to be 5-3 right now. PSU has lost to three top-10 teams, and Purdue has lost to a top-10 team and two other strong Big Ten teams. But what really is worth looking at is their wins. Neither team has dominated all but the weakest opponents. Each team is constantly leaving doubts as to whether they’re really any good. Apparently Purdue has more doubts, though, as they’re 3-point dogs to Penn State at home.
The game plan for Purdue is simple. Hold the run enough to force Morelli to beat you in the air, hopefully get pressure on him, and make sure that you score when you’re in the red zone. Penn State’s game plan is also simple. You know Purdue’s got a better offense, so you try to control the game on the ground, and hope that your strong defense can limit their point production, particularly in the red zone where Purdue has had problems.
A lot can affect this game, and a quick weather report shows a Wind Advisory for northwest Indiana… Not good for the Purdue air attack. However, it does mean that if Purdue is able to hold Penn State’s ground game, they should have a chance, as Morelli is no better than Painter throwing the ball in gale-force winds. The game for Purdue, then, is going to come down to throwing the ball enough to the WR corps to keep Penn State’s linebackers from selling out on the run, and hoping the defense holds up. Not an easy thing to do, but after the way they performed against Wisconsin last week, I think they can handle it.
Prediction: Purdue beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Purdue 24, PSU 20
Final Score: Penn State 12, Purdue 0
Prediction: WRONG (and ugh! shut out at home?)
GAME OF THE WEEK
#8 Tennessee (6-1, 2-1) @ South Carolina (5-2, 3-2)
Vegas Says: Tennessee -3.5
Why this is the game of the week, I’m not quite sure. I worry this will be about as exciting as last week’s game of the week, where Clemson routed Georgia Tech (a game where GT inexplicably didn’t throw to Johnson). Tennessee is coming off one of their worst offensive performances of the year, but it was following a bye week, and perhaps they just came out flat. South Carolina appears to have trouble scoring against decent defenses this year, and Tennessee just happens to have a great one.
I think the oddsmakers are relying on Steve Spurrier’s reputation for beating Tennessee in this one, but I think that’s a bad decision. Spurrier wears a headset, he’s not throwing passes or blocking. Tennessee controls this one, start to finish.
Prediction: Tennessee covers
Predicted Final Score: Tennessee 31, South Carolina 17
Final Score: Tennessee 31, South Carolina 24
October 26, 2006
Sorry for the lack of posting. I’ve been in Washington DC all week, and while I usually can use business trips as an excuse to post more often than usual, the wireless connection at the hotel has been broken all week.
Now I’m off to CA for a wedding, so I don’t know how much posting I will do before next week. I will definitely do my best to get the weekly football predictions posted, but I can’t even guarantee that, as any internet time I get will be spent catching up on work emails that I haven’t even gotten to look at all week.
October 22, 2006
Well, my picks are now a very respectable 26-17 against the spread (34-9 straight up), following another 5-1 performance yesterday.
But one stat makes me sad about yesterday, and that is Purdue’s 24-3 defeat at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers. Ugliness all around. When a team averaging over 450 yards per game of offense, and 30+ points a game, puts up less than 300 yards and doesn’t score a touchdown for the first time since 2003, it’s just ugly. What makes it worse is that our defense finally started to step up. We were starting to see the defensive front seven performing (although the secondary wasn’t playing well). I thought Wisconsin could score in the 20’s on us, but I thought we could score just as many on them. Instead, the offense just never found a rhythm. To make it worse, we had some scoring opportunities that we failed to convert, and I’m really starting to believe our offensive playcalling needs a serious overhaul. This team leaves too many points on the field, that would have made a difference in each of our losses. So we fall to 5-3, 2-2 in conference. In all honesty, with a team as young as ours, we were supposed to lose to the teams we lost to, and we beat the teams we should have. But I’m not entirely happy with the way we’ve won and lost those games. We could have played with Wisconsin, and at least been in position to fight for a win, but instead only one half of the team shows up. Ugh.
In other news, Michigan State again shows why they’re consistently inconsistent, with the biggest comeback in NCAA history. I said before the game that MSU would try to lose that game, and going down 38-3 will certainly do it. But then to rip off 38 straight points in about 22 minutes to win the game? Quite impressive, even if it was against Northwestern… That worries me a bit, though, because we play MSU in two weeks. We can beat a demoralized MSU team, but a confident MSU team is another story. I’m hoping Indiana can find a way to beat them in a wholly demoralizing way so that we can play the crippled team in two weeks. But either way, congrats to the Spartans, who finally appeared to play to their talent level, if only for 22 minutes.
Around the league, Notre Dame put up a great comeback on UCLA, and as usual for the Irish, it required multiple 4th-down conversions to do it. One of these days that might catch up to them, but they seem be constantly defying the laws of probability. Michigan and OSU continue their dominance, and the AP poll has them #2 and #1, respectively (while the coaches poll has USC at #2 and Michigan at #3), which is likely to remain the case until they face each other on Nov 18. The way things are starting to shake out, we’re likely to see a matchup between the winner of the OSU/Michigan game and the Louisville/WVU game in the national championship, unless USC successfully navigates several land mines upcoming on their schedule. We’ve got a good shot at having 2 unbeaten teams, and perhaps 3,when the season ends.
Today, I watched the Pittsburgh/Atlanta game, since the wife is out of town and I had all day to watch football. That was a heck of a game from wire to wire, finishing with a 41-38 overtime win for Atlanta. Scores were coming so fast that it looked like a college game, doubly so with a mobile QB like Michael Vick. It did look like Big Ben got his bell rung, and I think he ended up leaving the game with a concussion. I’m now watching the Washington/Indianapolis game, which is not anywhere close to exciting.
October 21, 2006
Well, last week was very good for my averages. I’m 21-16 against the spread, and 29-8 straight up. If you discount weeks 1 and 2, when games are notoriously hard to predict (and I went 2-7 ATS), I’d be 19-9 against the spread, so I’ve been rather happy with my picks so far. Of course, with all that build-up, I wouldn’t be surprised if I miss them all this week, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.
You will notice something a little different. For in-conference games, now that we’re into the season, I’m going to start reporting conference records. For example, Purdue (5-2, 2-1) has a 5-2 record overall, and a 2-1 record against Big Ten opponents. FYI.
I’ve got seven games below, but I can’t bring myself to predict the Purdue game, so only 6 are predictions. I’ve also decided to switch something up, and pick one matchup as the “Game of the Week” (see the last pick below). Today, it’s Georgia Tech @ Clemson, a matchup that may tell us who deserves the honors as the top team in the ACC.
UPDATE: Finished 5-1 against the spread this week (damn you MSU!), for a 26-17 overall record. Also 5-1 straight up, for a 34-9 record.
Michigan State (3-4, 0-3) @ Northwestern (2-5, 0-3)
Vegas Says: MSU -7.5
Michigan State started the season flying high, as usual. But at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the Notre Dame game, something happened. And they haven’t won a game since. Northwestern wasn’t expected to be very good this year, after losing their star QB, the linebacker who lead their defense, and after the sudden death of their head coach. Unfortunately, they’ve underachieved those low expectations. Only one team can lose this game, although I’m sure both will try. But I have to think that this is going to be one of those games based on the pure power of the teams. 3 of MSU’s last four losses have been to top ten teams, and while they’ve been blowouts, those teams would blow out just about anybody. Northwestern’s last three losses have also been blowouts, but against much worse competition.
MSU finally gets back on track, with Stanton getting his rhythm back and the MSU defense shutting down Northwestern’s offense in a way they couldn’t against Michigan or OSU.
Prediction: Michigan State covers
Predicted Final Score: MSU 33, Northwestern 13
Final Score: MSU 41, NW 38
Thoughts: Screw you, MSU. Why didn’t you show up for the first half?
UCLA (4-2) @ #10 Notre Dame (5-1)
Vegas Says: Notre Dame -13
Everyone knows who Notre Dame is, because they got wall-to-wall media coverage all summer. Tom Zbikowski will knock you out, Jeff Samardzija will hit any nasty pitch you throw, Brady Quinn is the heir-apparent for the Heisman, and St. Weis is more beloved by his fans than Ditka. UCLA, on the other hand, has been overshadowed by the west coast’s Notre Dame, the University of
Spoiled Children Southern California. The only reason anyone has paid attention to UCLA is to note that their starting QB was injured two weeks ago, and deer-in-the-headlights replacement Pat Cowan is getting his trial by fire, following his first start on the road against Oregon by traveling for his second at Notre Dame.
But there’s something that most people have missed about UCLA. They’ve got a defense! Such things are rare on the west coast, but they’re allowing a mere 252 yards a game, and that’s after factoring in the 400+ they let Oregon rack up. And yet they only lost by 10 and racked up 20 on Oregon, a team with a better offense and defense than Notre Dame. I don’t think UCLA is going to win this game on the road, but I think they’ll do well enough to beat the 13.
Prediction: UCLA beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Notre Dame 28, UCLA 20
Final Score: Notre Dame 20, UCLA 17
Thoughts: ND is still suspect. A last-minute TD drive to save the win shouldn’t be necessary at home against UCLA.
Iowa (5-2, 2-2) @ #2 Michigan (7-0, 4-0)
Vegas Says: Michigan -13
The world let out a collective “WTF?!” last weekend, when Iowa went down in a road upset at Indiana. All anyone can think is that Iowa was looking forward to this game, and treated Indiana like a bye week. Well, now they’re not just fighting to play Michigan tough, they’re fighting for respect. Unfortunately, I don’t think Michigan is ready to give them any. Michigan has an easy three weeks after this game to their showdown with OSU, so they’ve got no reason to look past this game. Iowa, when they’re playing well, can run with just about anybody, but I think Michigan is a cut above. Iowa needs to focus on one thing today, and that’s making sure that Drew Tate survives the game a bit better than Morelli and Clark of PSU, their #1 and #2 QB who were both knocked out of the game. Michigan is going to shut down Iowa’s running game, and although Drew Tate is a pretty clutch QB, he doesn’t have the firepower at WR to put up the scores. Michigan is without Mario Manningham, but Iowa’s injury-depleted defense won’t put up as much of a fight as Wisconsin.
If this line were 15, I might take Iowa to beat it. I think this is a 14-point game, maybe a bit more, but certainly not much less. At 13, though, I think it’s a pretty safe pick.
Prediction: Michigan covers
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 34, Iowa 17
Final Score: Michigan 20, Iowa 6
#22 Boston College (5-1, 2-1) @ Florida State (4-2, 2-2)
Vegas Says: Florida State -7
BC has defeated a #12 ranked Clemson team, a decent Virginia Tech team, and fell to a last-minute hail mary to NC State. Florida State beat a Miami team that has since shown to be not all that good, with a loss to that same Clemson team and to the same NC State team. Florida State is at home, and they’re not a bad team. But something has been true in all of their games against quality opponents: they have no offense. BC is questionable, with their starting QB potentially out (it’s a game-time decision at this point) with an ankle/foot injury. If he doesn’t play, what does that mean for the team? If he plays, he barely practiced all week, so how effective will he be? BC has played well this year, but nobody knows just how much depth they have.
Either way, I’m going to assume an FSU win, but I think they’re not going to have the offensive firepower to make it a big win. If the BC QB doesn’t play, and his backup is in, my only worry would be FSU scoring defensive touchdowns.
Prediction: Boston College beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Florida State 23, Boston College 20
Final Score: Boston College 24, FSU 19
#19 Rutgers (6-0, 1-0) @ Pittsburgh (6-1, 2-0)
Vegas Says: Pittsburgh -6.5
This is a very big game for Rutgers. For Rutgers to make a legitimate play at greatness this year, it’s a must win. They’ve got two tough games coming up with Louisville & WVU, and when you have those two left on your schedule, you can’t let Pittsburgh get by you. Pittsburgh is in the same boat, with their only loss being an out-of-conference game against pre-meltdown Michigan State. They also have Louisville & WVU left on their schedule, and can’t let Rutgers by them. So this is a HUGE game for both teams.
So it comes down to matchups. Rutgers has the better defense. Pitt appears to have more success in the air on the ground, and Rutgers has only given up 141 ypg in the air. Take that stat with rememberance that Rutgers has blown out most of their opponents, so opponents have been going to the air sooner and more than a typical game. That’s stout. Rutgers has a decent offense, but not great. They make most of their yards on the ground, which is a good matchup for Pitt, who gives up 114 ypg on the ground. But I see Rutgers winning this game by controlling the ball on the ground, and being a thorn in the side of the Pitt passing game.
Prediction: Rutgers beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Rutgers 23, Pitt 17
Final Score: Rutgers 20, Pitt 10
Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1) @ Purdue (5-2, 2-1)
Vegas Says: Wisconsin -6.5
Fan, of course, is short for fanatic. “A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.” Yep, that pretty much sums me up. This game really worries me, because unlike many fans, I can’t completely turn off my brain. My brain tells me Wisconsin covers this spread. They’ve got weapons on offense, an experienced, senior QB, and a superb defense. They’ll have consistency where Purdue, a young team, may falter. And they’ve got an offensive line where the smallest guy is 6′6″, 313 lbs! They just look good this year. My heart, on the other hand, gives me all the reasons why Purdue will beat the spread (and perhaps win), that we’ve got more weapons on offense, our defense is coming off a great game, and that Wisconsin hasn’t beaten anyone of note (although they’ve dispatched those cupcakes with authority). I say Purdue’s coming back to play at home, we’ve got the emotional desire to get revenge for “The Fumble”, and we’re just waiting for the game where it all comes together, and this might be it!
Simply put, I can’t predict this game. Normally I can get my head and my heart on the same page. I can’t do that today. So I’m going to watch the game at noon on ESPN, and just hope that my heart wins out. Believe, baby, believe!
Prediction: None offered this week.
Final Score: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3
Thoughts: 3? 3?! An offense averaging > 30 pts/game, and all you can come up with is 3?! Way to squander a great defensive game, guys!
GAME OF THE WEEK
#13 Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-0) @ #12 Clemson (6-1, 3-1)
Vegas Says: Clemson -7
The traditional ACC powerhouses are failing this year, and these two teams are making a good run at taking their place. GT lost their first game of the season against #10 Notre Dame, and Clemson lost a nailbiter against #22 Boston College. Both teams have looked impressive at times, with Clemson defeating Florida State and Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech defeating Virginia Tech and Maryland. Both teams have balanced offenses, with Clemson looking more explosive against worse competition, but with Georgia Tech having the big threat of all-world WR Calvin Johnson. Both teams have strong defenses, Georgia Tech with a stifling run defense, and Clemson with a very balanced run/pass defense (but again, against worse competition).
This game comes down to consistency versus big plays. Clemson is putting up 250 rushing yards per game, GT is allowing 71. I don’t think Clemson can rely on the rush. Clemson has been very good statistically on defense, but they haven’t had a guy like Calvin Johnson to defend. Clemson is strong on third down, and is very efficient passing the ball. Georgia Tech isn’t very consistent, but has explosive ability when it counts.
I think the final is going to show one thing. Clemson’s defense is too good to give up enough big plays to turn the tide, and their offense is solid enough to put up the points when it’s necessary. Georgia Tech will put up some yards, but faltering in the red zone will limit their TD production. Clemson will drive enough to play well in the field position battle, and will use that to overcome GT’s defense on short fields after Reggie Ball has a three-and-out here or there.
Prediction: Clemson covers
Predicted Final Score: Clemson 24, Georgia Tech 13
Final Score: Clemson 31, GT 7
October 20, 2006
In politics, polls are everything. One thing you always hear is when one politician trails another by 5 points, with a margin of error in the poll of +/- 3%, all the pundits who favor that politician call it a “statistical tie”. After all, if you swing one guy up by 2.5 points, and the other guy down by those 2.5 points, you’ve got a tie. Now, it doesn’t matter if 12 different polls all find the margin a consistent 4-6 points, as long as each poll has the same margin of error, the pundits call it a statistical tie.
Now, if I poll 1000 people, asking them today, “which party do you think will win the House”, and I get a 5-point swing, with a margin of error of +/- 3 points, you can take that poll as meaningless. However, if I, and three other polling firms get the same result, the consistency of result means that the chance that all 4 polls are wrong by 2.5 points in the same direction is fairly low. So four polls that show someone is down 5 points pretty much means that the guys is down about 5 points. While each poll has a +/- 3 point margin of error, the combined result is probably, at best, a +/- 1 point margin of error. The more polls showing the same result, the more likely it is that this trend is real, and not an erroneous poll.
Of course, that’s no reason to believe polls at all. I much prefer to believe prediction markets like tradesports.com, as the old adage, “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is” is answered there by people actually doing it. But I’m also a big fan of pointing out idiocy of the media, and the pundits take the cake. One poll may be a statistical anomaly. Multiple polls, all agreeing with each other, are something to take notice of.
I was just reading Sunday Morning QB, and he was talking about NCAA ranking poll voters watching the World Series instead of college football. I thought to myself, “There’s a World Series game already?”
But that’s not the odd part. I had to find out that the World Series was going on by reading a college football blog. I guess that might show you where my sports priorities lie!
October 19, 2006
Earlier this week, I saw something odd. When I caught the first college football lines, I was dumbstruck to see that Wisconsin was only a 4.5 point favorite over Purdue. Purdue is 5-2, with only one blowout win, and we lost by a large margin against the only two decent teams we’ve played. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is 6-1, and outside of a respectable loss to Michigan, has blown out everyone else they’ve played.
So, 4.5? How can that be?! I’m partial to overestimating Purdue’s capabilities, but even I would have set that line between 9 and 11. Apparently, a lot of bettors agree with me, because sportsbook.com has 96% of bettors taking Wisconsin and the points. In fact, it’s shifted so far that way that the line has increased to anywhere between 6 and 7 (depending what Casino you check). Apparently everyone thinks Wisconsin is going to cover. And there’s no way that everyone is wrong, is there?
Or is there? One of the things a good friend of mine— also a bookie— told me once that any time everyone bets one way, he’s reasonably certain the outcome will go the other. Oddsmakers in Vegas aren’t paid to be wrong very often, and if they’re setting a line so low, there’s a reason for it. Oddsmakers are smarter than the average bettor, and it’s a lot more likely that they’re right than that they’re wrong.
I had a chance to catch up with my buddy this week, and brought up the situation, to pick his brain on it. After the conversation, I posted the below thoughts on a Purdue message board where we were discussing the line.
Okay, so I was talking with a bookie I know, and I told him the situation re: Wisconsin. I now realize that since he is an *amateur* bookie, what he said about “most bettors being wrong” was more related to casual bettors, not the big professional gamblers in Vegas. Since he lays most of his bets with casual gamblers, he typically sees that when they all break one way, they’re usually wrong.
He also mentioned something else. Casual gamblers tend to bet the favorite. It’s partly psychological, where you don’t want to hope the team you bet loses but only by less than 3, you want to hope the team you bet wins the game “by enough”. Professional gamblers, OTOH, tend to be underdog bettors. Professional gamblers lay their bets late (Friday/Saturday) So the fact that the line is quickly increasing (now 6-6.5, depending where you look), may be due to the amateur gamblers (the ones who are usually wrong) betting it up big time, and the professionals will swoop in towards the end of the week and it will start to adjust back down.
But here’s where it gets interesting. He thinks the oddsmakers set it too high at 4.5. Wisconsin is a team with a lot of “hype” at this point in the year, who’s been televised nationally several times, and who have a reputation for covering their spread. Naturally, they respond by setting a line higher than they think, because they think the bettors will bet it up. My coworker thinks, based on the situation, that the oddsmakers probably think it should really be 3.5, but set 4.5 trying to set it high, and now the casual gamblers think they’re getting a steal, and they’re swinging it up to 6 or more.
When the professionals see this, they’re going to see that the oddsmakers set it very high, then that the amateurs pushed it even higher. They’ll come in later this week, and bet the house, because seeing the movement will make them think they’re getting a deal.
All this shows one thing: the oddsmakers don’t believe in Wisconsin the way the fans do. And that’s only a good thing for the Boilers.
October 17, 2006
Really, would you expect a liberal to say something this friendly to the forces of liberty?
If an adult in this country, with his or her own money, wants to engage in an activity that harms no one, how dare we prohibit it because it doesn’t add to the GDP or it has no macroeconomic benefit. Are we all to take home calculators and, until we have satisfied the gentleman from Iowa that we are being socially useful, we abstain from recreational activities that we choose?… People have said, What is the value of gambling ? Here is the value. Some human beings enjoy doing it. Shouldn’t that be our principle? If individuals like doing something and they harm no one, we will allow them to do it, even if other people disapprove of what they do.
It’s okay, Barney. You can come out as one of us. I’m sure your family and political party may not approve, but then, supporting freedom in the face of government isn’t very “socially acceptable” these days. Maybe, if you really get adventurous, you might start advocating economic liberty? You may have to add a subscription to The Economist to your repertoire, but it’s a small price to pay to finally let your true colors shine through.
Bravo, Barney. We’re here, we’re libertarian, get used to it!
Hat Tip: Catallarchy
October 16, 2006
If you’ve ever spent time around internet message boards, you’ve seen one or two of these. Depending where you’re at, sometimes it can be put out, but on a relatively unmoderated message board, it can get out of hand quickly.
I’ve watched it play out over the last few weeks. It’s no secret that Purdue had a very rough year last year, and when a team goes from 8 consecutive bowl games to a losing season, the boo birds come out. Well, when that same team starts playing I-AA and MAC competition, squeaking by them, the next year, the trolls started coming out on a Purdue message board I participate on. The board is owned by a newspaper, and there’s basically no moderation whatsoever on the message board.
For the most part, it started out fine. There are some people who felt like the program was slipping, and they believe that Purdue will only get better when Joe Tiller moves on, and we get a new coach. Others (like myself) saw 2005 as an aberration, and are excited about this season, with a team that plays together, a young and improving defense, and a big chance for upside the next two years. A situation like that caused a lot of disagreement, which tended to get heated from time to time. For the most part, though, people were respectful and actuallyl debated facts. But it all got crashed the day one guy showed up after the Miami (OH) game (where they took us to overtime).
The first sign is that there is little argument involved. The guy showed up, said Purdue looked horrible, probably wouldn’t win many more games, and Tiller should be fired. He didn’t offer any argument behind these statements. He declared it, setting out his bait, to see who would take it. Once people started arguing with him, he fired back. Did he offer argument, facts, or logic? No, he called the pro-Tiller folks “jackasses” and “f’tards” and “clowns”. He mocked and berated us for about two weeks, and during the whole time, he wasn’t offering anything resembling argument or logic. Just straight attack, attack, attack.
Now, in the real world, someone who acted like that would soon find himself alone, or considering some of the things he said, someone might have physically shut him up. But an interesting thing occurred… People took the bait. You see, even if 18 out of 20 are fed up with what’s occurring, if you have 2 who are willing to rise to the challenge, everything runs downhill. The troll involves himself in every thread on the message board, and everywhere he shows up, his new opponent follows. The attacks quickly became two-sided. It doesn’t matter where the attacks are headed, either. It can be someone’s upbringing, education, intelligence, ability to spell, their mother, sexual preference, sexual inadequacies, anything is fair game. And I repeat, anything. Although it rarely moves above a 5th-grade level, as evidenced by one pro-Tiller poster offering to take it out to the playground at recess, the offenders now start picking for anything that will pique their opponents ire. People looking for rational, intelligent debate have nowhere to go, as every message board thread becomes polluted with name-calling and attacks.
The odd thing about it, though, is that this is exactly what the troll wants. It’s an attention game. He’s trying to see just how much havoc he can cause. When people start taking the bait, they’re just feeding the troll. And as long as you feed troll, he sticks around.
What happens next is worse. A lot of people just drift away from the message board (as I did). Some of the people who aren’t interested in being a part of the flame war get themselves sucked into it. And this is where it gets really ugly. People who would never ordinarily act like boorish heathens find themselves lobbing personal attacks. When arguing with a troll, they’re going to do their best to drag you down to the gutter where they reside. The problem is, they’re a lot more used to being down there, and even if you “win”, which is an impossibility with someone who relies on vitriol instead of logic, you’ll still get mighty dirty.
To be sure, I’ve seen plenty of flame wars in my time, since I began getting onto online forums back in the BBS days of the early 90’s. I’ve learned two things. First, the only way to win is not to fight. Second, an unmoderated message board is almost certain to eventually devolve into flame wars. Most often, user-created and user-moderated boards are more-likely to survive, as the users have a vested interest in keeping the environment free from pests.
October 15, 2006
We’ve seen a lot of football happen over the last few weeks. Michigan and OSU continue their dominance, probably leading up to a #1 vs #2 matchup in the final game of the season. Of course, that’s assuming that Michigan doesn’t get ranked #2 and then upset, like Texas, Notre Dame, Auburn, and Florida have. It’s not a good season to be ranked #2!
Those haven’t been all the upsets, though. Just this last weekend, we saw Indiana defeat Iowa, Vanderbilt take down Georgia, and Auburn knock off undefeated Florida. Oh, and Rutgers, though a very slight underdog to Navy, absolutely embarrassed them, 34-0. This year, Illinois has been the center of upset-land. They upset Michigan State, then were upset by Indiana, followed by getting upset again against a weak Ohio team from the MAC.
In the Big Ten, Michigan State is in a tailspin, as is Northwestern. One of those teams has to recover this coming weekend, though, because they’re playing each other. Illinois looks to be firmly down in the cellar with them. In between that group and OSU/Michigan is a big middle section. Wisconsin appears to be the most solid team of that group, followed by Iowa, then maybe Purdue and PSU (Purdue has an offense and horrible defense, PSU has a defense and horrible offense), followed by Minnesota and Indiana. Ohhh, Indiana. How I thought pre-season that you’d again be in the Big Ten cellar. In fact, when Coach Hep instructed the fans to “Defend the Rock”, I was among the first to laugh at you:
Yeah, I laughed. And then you upset Illinois on the road. No big deal, it’s Illinois. But Iowa came to town, and you defended the rock! You took down a top-15 team that just a week ago pounded Purdue for 60 straight minutes? I don’t know what to say? Thanks, perhaps, as an Iowa loss could help Purdue in the Big Ten standings. But it won’t help us much if you come to Ross-Ade Stadium on November 18th and beat the Boilers! I had that game as a guaranteed Boiler victory, and now I have to question it. Thanks a lot.
Around the NCAA, Oklahoma saw the rest of its season go down the tubes with Adrian Peterson’s broken collarbone. USC again went down to the wire and dodged a bullet. On can’t expect them to continue doing this, especially when they hit the stretch of games against Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame. We’re down to 5 major unbeatens, two of which must end up with a loss (Michigan or OSU, and Louisville or WVU, who play each other at the end of the year). Depending how this plays out, we could see as many as three unbeaten teams, and possibly as few as 1, and in a very unlikely scenario, even none. The BCS could be a mess again this year if either scenario plays out.
Yesterday, Purdue had it’s best win of the season, beating Northwestern by double-digits on the road. It was one of those “statement” games, which is exactly what we needed after the 30-point road loss to Iowa. But things are looking a lot tougher this weekend, when 6-1 Wisconsin comes to Ross-Ade. The only loss they have is to Michigan, and they look to be formidable on both sides of the ball. Initially, I look at this as a probable loss. With Wisconsin looking even tougher than Iowa, I’m worried that Purdue will have to play the game of their lives just to stay in it. But I saw something odd tonight. The opening odds have Purdue as only a 4.5 point underdog. 4.5 points? I thought we’d be a 10 point dog. Maybe, just maybe, they know something I don’t. I hope so, because I’d love that sort of surprise!
So, for anyone who watched that MotoGP race, based on my suggestion, I apologize. What was expected to be a hard-fought, desperate battle by Nicky Hayden to retain his lead in the championship all came crashing down, when his own teammate tried to pass heading into a corner and crashed Hayden out of the race. And this was a mere 4 laps in or so.
I got online, checked to make sure Rossi hadn’t also crashed, saw that Rossi finished 2nd, and handed the remote control to my wife, for the daily smattering of MTV and the Food Network. I returned to debating Purdue football on internet message boards. All the remaining drama is now gone from the season.
It was just so anti-climactic. Hayden had already passed his teammate, Dani Pedrosa, about a lap earlier. That pass was pretty close, but given how much Hayden had riding on this race, not too surprising. But then Pedrosa, who I’ll now mention for the third time was his teammate, tried desperately to re-pass Hayden. He crashed his own bike, and his sliding bike took Hayden’s down with it. Pedrosa was all but a mathematic impossibility to win the championship, and apparently has never heard of “team orders”. When you can’t win and your teammate has a shot, you either stay out of his way, or you find a way to help him. Crashing him out of the race is not an option. Even a rookie like Pedrosa should know this. What a bone-head move, Dani.
So that puts Valentino Rossi 8 points into the championship lead, over Hayden. The only chance left for Hayden is if Rossi were to crash out of a race, or have another mechanical failure. Knowing Rossi, he’s going to play it safe, get the points he needs, and claim his 6th consecutive title in the premier class.
UPDATE: I originally wrote that Rossi had an 18-point lead. My math failed me, it is only 8. I have since changed this on the original post.
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Wait… Hayden Actually Won?!
Hey, for those few of you who are reading between now and then, the penultimate round of MotoGP racing will be shown on SpeedTV at 12:30 EST today. I’ve hyped it quite a bit this year, as Nicky Hayden is 12 points ahead of Valentino Rossi, the multi-year champion of the sport who may hold the title “Best Ever”.
12 points over two races. If Rossi wins both races, and Hayden finishes below 2nd place in either won, Rossi takes the championship. It all comes down to this. Even if you’re an NFL fan, this race will only last until 1:30 EST, so at most you’ll miss a half-hour of NFL action.
October 14, 2006
So we’re back at it. I’m 16-15 against the spread so far, 24-7 straight up. We’ve got some good games this week, though, and they may not be easy picks. Can Michigan continue it’s lights-out play against Penn State without star WR Mario Manningham? Can Florida get up for a game at Auburn after their emotional victory over LSU? And will Rutgers be able to adjust to the 50-year-old offense that Navy runs to remain undefeated? And can Purdue rebound from their pounding at Iowa to take down Northwestern, a game they should dominate by all measures? We’ll all see, in just a few hours.
Minnesota (2-4) @ #25 Wisconsin (5-1)
Vegas Says: Wisconsin -8
Ahh, a rivalry game. The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. There’s a lot of emotion riding on this game, and that usually means you can throw out the predictions. Not in this one, though, because Wisconsin is playing tremendous defense, the game is at Wisconsin, and Minnesota is in a bit of a tailspin. My only worry is that because this game is going to be played entirely on the ground, it might be over too quickly, runs burning up the clock, for the score to get large enough for Wisconsin to cover their 8. I’m guessing with an over/under of 50, it might be good to take the under. And this game will probably barely last 3 hours, with the clock running, unless Minnesota gets down big and has to go to the air.
Prediction: Wisconsin covers
Predicted Final Score: Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 17
Final Score: Wisconsin 48, Minnesota 12
#24 Rutgers (5-0) @ Navy (5-1)
Vegas Says: Navy -2.5
Wow, a tough one. We’ve got the #1 rushing offense in the nation (Navy) up against the #5 scoring defense in the nation. Rutgers’ offense appears to be better than Navy’s D, but then, Navy has played much tougher competition, so the stats might be a bit skewed. If Minny/Wisky barely lasts 3 hours, the way these teams run, the game will be over even quicker. Really, when it comes down to it, I think Rutgers is a bit more complete of a team. This one is going to be close, but I’m going to have to lean their way.
Prediction: Rutgers beats the spread
Predicted Final Score: Rutgers 24, Navy 21
Final Score: Rutgers 34, Navy 0
UCLA (4-1) @ #18 Oregon (4-1)
Vegas Says: Oregon -9
Both teams have an offense. UCLA has a defense. But UCLA’s offense will be without starting QB Ben Olsen, and replacement Patrick Cowan will be making his first start against a ranked team on the road. I think UCLA has a defense to contain Oregon, and keep this close. But Cowan’s rookie mistakes change the equation for the worse. Between a stalled drive here or there, potential turnovers, and the field position that Oregon will get as a result, I think they take this one.
Prediction: Oregon covers
Predicted Final Score: Oregon 31, UCLA 20
Final Score: Oregon 30, UCLA 20
#4 Michigan (6-0) @ Penn State (4-2)
Vegas says: Michigan -6
-6?! Even without Manningham, I don’t see it. Michigan, without Manningham and against the Penn State defense, might have some trouble scoring. They’ll need to establish Mike Hart running the football, get the tight ends into the receiving game to draw off the linebackers, and then hope that Steve Breaston and Adrian Arrington can make up for Manningham’s lack of presence. But we all know that Michigan has so much talent that they can score at least a few points. The question is, can Penn State score at all on Michigan’s defense? Michigan can load the box to stop Tony Hunt and pressure Anthony Morelli, and that’s going to be the game. Expect at least one defensive score by UM, and great field position for the UM offense all day long. This game isn’t going to be as exciting as most people hope.
Prediction: Michigan covers
Predicted Final Score: Michigan 31, Penn State 13
Final Score: Michigan 17, Penn State 10
#2 Florida (6-0) @ #11 Auburn (5-1)
Vegas Says: Florida -2
Wow… This is a big game. My pessimistic side says that Florida can’t keep this up, and that Auburn won’t lose twice in a row at home. But there’s just this sense that this is a special year for Florida. They’ve got a ridiculous defense, and some surprising poise and leadership on offense. Auburn’s offense, on the other hand, has been more than slightly underwhelming. My head tells me that picking Florida is a tad dangerous. Especially against an Auburn team that is well-coached and full of talent. But I think between Florida slowing down Kenny Irons, and their defensive proclivity towards big interceptions, they’ll chalk up another W and get one landmine closer to a national championship appearance.
Prediction: Florida covers
Predicted Final Score: Florida 20, Auburn 13
Final Score: Auburn 27, Florida 17
Purdue (4-2) @ Northwestern (2-4)
Vegas Says: Purdue -7
Oh, this one worries me. Not that it should, because I think Purdue is more than 7 points better than Northwestern this year. This is an away game, but when it comes to Northwestern, the stadium is rarely bad for a visitor. Northwestern is stuck in the middle of a QB controversy, and their defense is not anywhere near good. On paper, Purdue wins this game. Purdue has a tendency to make things difficult, especially against Northwestern the last few years. But I just think we’ll be too much for them. We racked up 450 yards of offense on Iowa’s defense, and 490 on Notre Dame. We should be over 500 against Northwestern, and I think this time we’ll get the points to go with it. Northwestern should be expected to have a better-than-average day against the Purdue defense, but considering how bad their average is, that doesn’t worry me too much.
I think this game is a big day for Purdue. They need to make a statement after that blowout against Iowa, they need a tune-up before their homestand against Wisconsin and Penn State, and Northwestern on the road is a perfect team to do it. Purdue needs to come out with an attitude, and prove that they can play better football than they did against Iowa. This week, they finally do it.
Prediction: Purdue covers
Predicted Final Score: Purdue 41, Northwestern 24
Final Score: Purdue 31, Northwestern 20
So, that’s 5 favorites, 1 dog. Not exactly balanced picks, but I think these teams are capable of doing it this week.
UPDATE:That puts me at 5-1 against the spread this week, 5-1 straight up. A very nice performance, leaving me 21-16 against the spread this season, and 29-8 straight up. I might not be all that bad at this!
October 13, 2006
Dear Chief Illiniwek,
In Illinois, a university chooses to honor your spirit and valiant honor in battle, by choosing you as their symbol. It’s too bad that some panty-waisted professors are trying to steal your honor. Though you may be a fictional character, I weep for you.
A group of Illinois faculty members is sending a letter to prospective athletic recruits suggesting they “may want to think twice about whether the university is a good environment for you to further your education and athletic career” because of “the use of a fictitious Native American, named Chief Illiniwek, as the university’s sports mascot.”
Heading the list of 14 signers is Stephen J. Kaufman, emeritus professor of cell and developmental biology who long has been a harsh critic of what the university calls “the Chief Illiniwek tradition.”
The faculty members’ letter informs recruits of the NCAA’s August, 2005 ruling that prevents Illinois from hosting postseason tournaments because it considers continuation of the tradition to be “hostile and abusive” to Native Americans.
Poor Chief Illiniwek… Why do they try to destroy your tradition?
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