Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm currently in the middle of George Jones's autobiography I Lived to Tell it All, and he tells about this awesome scheme a bunch of promoters cooked up during the height of the "No Show Jones" period. They'd announce a George Jones show at a club or bar without actually booking him, promote the hell out of it, on the night of the show sell tons of whiskey and keep putting the crowd off with promises that George would be there soon and then once everyone got good and loaded announce that George wouldn't be able to make it (all the while implying that he was too drunk to go on). They'd off to refund their money, but by then most everyone was so drunk and angry they'd just leave, so they got to keep most of the ticket receipts PLUS the money from the bar. It's a totally brilliant scam, and also a perfect illustration of just how shady the music industry used to be (well, it's still shady, just now it's white collar shady). God bless American ingenuity...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then...

Not satisfied with the pairing of Bama and Iowa in the title game to finish out my revenge dynasty, I opted instead to take on Leinart, Bush and company and used the "play now" function to pit Bama vs. Southern Cal at the Rose Bowl.

Southern Cal won the toss and elected to receive, which was fine by me. Being the SEC neandrathal that I am, playing defense and sitting on a lead pretty well sums up my coaching strategy, and getting the ball to start the second half typically plays into that. The Trojans came out to start their first drive in an I formation as I called a reasonably safe Cover 2 Man out of my base 4-3. Their first play was a play action pass to a streaking Jarrett, but it was successfully batted away by Ramzee Robinson. The rest of the drive stalled as Bush is dropped for a 2 yard loss by DeMeco Ryans on a lead toss and Leinart completes a short pass to his Tight End for a 7 yard gain.

Reggie Bush, meet DeMeco Ryans.

Tyrone Prothro's return capabilites were completely nullified throughout the game as the SoCal special teams routinely forced me to call fair catch deep in my own territory. My own opening drive stalled as Ken Darby was stopped in the backfield on 1st down and DJ Hall dropped a pass on a wheel route to bring up 3rd and 12. I lined up in a shotgun spread formation as the Trojans looked to play a deep zone, but instead of trying to pass for the yardage I called a HB Direct Snap and picked up the first on the ground, but just barely. I came out to start the next series in an I formation and ran a triple option, handing the ball off to FB Tim Castille when the linebackers dropped back into coverage and plowed ahead for another first. Lining up again in the same I formation, I called a play action bootleg, but sailed the pass out of bounds to bring up 2nd and 10. Determined to burn the SoCal secondary, I lined up in a shotgun spread formation with Ken Darby lining up in the slot position in place of Zeke Knight. Both outside receivers were covered, but DJ Hall came free in the middle and caught a 22 yard pass at the Trojan 37. From there, Darby and Castille each ran the ball for modest gains, until on 3rd and 3 at the Trojan 11 Castille broke free for a TD. The point after is good, Bama 7, Southern Cal 0.

Reggie Bush returns the ensuing kick off to his 37 yard line, but the Trojans again stall as Bush is nullified by the linebacking corp and the secondary keeps Leinart in check as the 1st quarter ends.

Reggie Bush, meet DeMeco Ryans. Oh, you two have already met?

Prothro again calls fair catch, starting the next Bama drive on the 26 yard line. A deep pass to Matt Caddell places us on the Trojan 34, but this drive stalls as well as neither Darby or Castille is able to break free for a first down. I briefly consider going for it on 4th and 3 but instead opt for the field goal, Bama 10, SoCal 0.

The Trojans begin their next drive with only 2:27 left on the clock, and quickly score their first touchdown. Feeling a little full of myself, I call an "all out blitz" from a 3-3-5 formation and get burned big time as Reggie Bush breaks into the flat and jukes Roman Harper out of his cleats on his way to a 73 yard touchdown run. Bama 10, SoCal 7.

The ensuing kickoff results in a touchback, and I start my next drive from my own 20 in an I formation. Again I call a play action bootleg and look to Caddell but the ball is tipped to bring up 2nd and 10. Darby breaks free on counter for 17 yards to get the first. Determined to score before the half, I go against everything I hold dear and begin passing on each down. Quick out routes and slants allow the Bama offense to move to the Trojan 30, but then disaster strikes as a touchdown pass to Prothro is tipped and subsequently intercepted near the goal line. The Trojans put together an impressive drive, including several circus catches and a miraculously accurate Leinart pass as he's engulfed by Freddie Roach, resulting in a Dwayne Jarrett 37 yard touchdown catch to make the score Bama 10, SoCal 14.

Again, a touchback, and I attempt to drive at least into field goal range before the half but the Trojan defense has effectively limited my rushing attack and each receiver lives up to his real life counterpart's dropped pass potential. I punt with only :27 left on the clock as SoCal is content to call a few run plays and head into the locker room with a 4 point lead.

Glad to get the ball back at the start of the third quarter, I manage a good return with DJ Hall to my own 39. Calling a play action pass, I hit Prothro for a 31 yard gain, followed by a HB Slam that sees Darby break loose for a 32 yard touchdown run, putting the good guys up by 3.

SoCal's next drive stalls, and I get the ball back on my own 29. While sitting on a 3 point lead against a team that's proven it can strike quickly isn't exactly wise, I opt to begin pounding the ball and running the clock out. Darby, Castille, and Coffee all contribute as I drive into the Trojan red zone, only to see their defense stiffen and bring up 3rd and 14. I line up in my now familiar I formation, and hit Caddell for the touchdown to make the score Bama 24, SoCal 14.

End Zone, meet Matt Caddell

Again, SoCal seems eerily reluctant to cut Bush loose and the Bama secondary holds firm and forces a three and out to end the third quarter.

Confident that the 4th quarter will be more of the same, I settle in to play defense and work the clock. Alas, I get greedy in the Trojan red zone, calling a play action pass to Prothro for a touchdown strike on 3rd and 3 instead of bulldozing ahead with a seemingly unstoppable Tim Castille. Again, disaster strikes as a Trojan CB intercepts the pass and returns it untouched to bring Southern Cal back within one score of winning.

After the kick off and return to my own 22, I can't get anything going. On 3rd and 11, I toss a desperation pass to a streaking Prothro who has a few steps on the CB covering him. He makes the catch and heads downfield, but a safety appears as if from nowhere and lays a monster hit on him, forcing a fumble that the CB immediately falls on. It's now the Trojans' ball on their own 28, and my blood pressure rises to dangerous levels.

Leinart moves into a hurry up offense as I stay in my base 4-3 and begin giving up yardage to Reggie Bush as he jukes and spins around anything lucky enough to get within an inch. Finally I halt the drive at my own 40 and sack Leinart on 3rd and long. Forced to go for it on 4th and 19, Leinart is unable to hook up with his Tight End and they turn the ball over on downs. I have the ball back on the Trojan 49, and immediately break loose with Darby on a HB direct to their 3, where I let Castille take the ball in to make the score Bama 31, SoCal 21, with 2:39 remaining.

Matt Leinart, meet Jeremy Clark

SoCal comes out passing again, but this time my secondary slips as Leinart drives the Trojans downfield and then delivers a long touchdown pass into double coverage, bringing them once again within three and me once again to my feet as I screamed a long string of profanities and felt my left arm go all tingly.

The Trojans line up for an onside kick, but Glenn Coffee makes the catch and I breathe a huge sigh of relief. I've never seen an onside kick actually work in NCAA 2006, but I wouldn't put it past the computer in a close game to cheat up a little and recover it.

With 1:56 to go the Trojans begin calling timeout after each run, but I keep getting first downs on my way to the Trojan 5 yard line. While I could have taken a knee and wrapped the game up, I instead channeled my inner Spurrier, sending Darby into the end zone one more time to make the final 38-28.

Unnecessary, but fun.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

National Recording Registry picks for 2006

- Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation? Really? Don't get me wrong, I spent many a fine hour with Sonic Youth throughout middle and high school and still have a fondness for them despite their continual decline since Expiremental Jet Set, Trash & No Star, but is Daydream Nation really worthy of preservation in the Library of Congress? Probably not.

- This, however, I can get onboard with.

The album cover that launched a million frat party t-shirts...
After exhausting "Coping with the Offseason Strategies" #147 (dating one of a conference rival's sorority girls, otherwise known as the "conquest strategy") and #263 (drinking heavily, otherwise known as the "drinking heavily strategy"), I decided to make use of strategy #392, The Revenge Game. I decided to up the ante, however, resulting in strategy #392B, the revenge season. That's right, even though we went 10-2 it wasn't good enough, so I bucked up, started a dynasty with my beloved Tide, and began what I hoped would be a thoroughly dominating performance for the ENTIRE season instead of just the first half.

- Thing started off poorly as I was informed prior to the first kick off that Ken Darby had cheated on an exam and had to be suspended for three games. Luckily Glen Coffee, Tim Castille, LeRon McClain, Matt Caddell (who would later become a Heisman candidate and finish second in the voting) and Tyrone Prothro (God bless him) were more than able to take up the slack as the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders were served with a good old fashioned Alabama ass whipping. No retreating to the locker room with a 9-0 lead at the half this go round since it was all over after one quarter. Bama 52, MTSU 0.

-Next up, Southern Miss, a team that played toe to toe with the real life Bama for a half and even looked to pull the upset until Prothro (God bless him) made "The Catch" and sparked a Bama resurgence to pull away in the second. No need for a miracle catch this time, but just for fun I sent him streaking for the end zone with 3 seconds to go in the first half and tossed a 73 yard touchdown pass into triple coverage anyway. The injury bug that constantly plagues the real Tide decided to pay a visit to the virtual Bryant-Denny, resulting in the loss of CB Anthony Madison to a broken arm. Bama 38, Southern Miss 17.

-Next I took the Tide on the road to Columbia, SC to meet Spurrier's Gamecocks, and wound up more pissed off than if I'd lost. I had a shutout going 'til the 4th when the PS2 put together one of it's trademark unstoppable drives. My secondary went from ball hawking supermen to stumbling morons, staring at streaking wideouts and running backs as they ran swiftly by before turning and engaging in half-hearted pursuit. Just when I thought all was lost, Freddie Roach leaps into the air to intercept a sure touchdown pass on the goal line, and is immediately tackled. Shut out preserved, right? Wrong. The computer awards South Carolina a safety, leaving the final score Bama 35, South Carolina 2. Stinking PS2.

-The first trap game of the real season ended in a score of Bama 24, Arkansas 13. I was determined to avenge this injustice, and for the most part succeeded. Weirdly enough, the PS2 Arkansas turned into a full on option run team in the second half and gave me fits as they continually drove down the field, only to stall near the red zone as they converted to a pass only offense and I was able to push them back out of field goal range with sacks or force a fumble for the turnover. Strange game, but the final score is more reflective of what the real one should have been. Bama 50, Arkansas 3.

-Next, Florida. With a 31-3 blow out in the regular season, you wouldn't think there would be any revenging to do here. You'd be wrong. This one was for Prothro (God bless him), who had to be benched for a game for breaking unspecified team rules so there was no possibility of a broken leg this time around. It looked as if my grand expirement would die an early death as I foolishly prepared to defend the option against a PS2 that's more aware of Chris Leak's pocket passer tendencies than the real life Urban Meyer. In a reverse dejavu, Leak burned me for an 84 yard touchdown pass on their first play from scrimmage. I answered back with my own touchdown drive, riding the back of a fresh Ken Darby and then hitting Matt Caddell for a 20 yard touchdown pass on a playaction bootleg. On the next series I was again scorched by the passing of Leak and learned my lesson about multiple LB spies. My next few drives stalled as the brick handed tendencies of Bama receivers became readily apparent and the O-line crumbled before my very eyes. Gator defensive backs were in the backfield in a flash, turning any run play into a sure loss. Finally, near the end of the 2nd, Darby breaks off a 70+ yard touchdown run on an inside counter of all things to tie the game before the half. Channeling my inner Stallings, I settled in for a slugfest. At this point, the Gator offense was going nowhere against my adjusted pass coverage defense, and insult was added to injury when a pair of interception returns put the score at 28-14 in the 3rd. Darby, Castille, and McClain all contributed as I ate the clock on a 3 minute drive, ending in a field goal to make the final Bama 31 , UF 14.

-After that slugfest, a thorough revenging of the Ole Miss Rebels was in order. I was determined to shame the Wild Boys after their shaming of our offense in real life, and shamed they were. 48-0, and I finally get my second shut out.

-Dear Tennessee,
The PS2 polls had you ranked at #11, despite a 2-3 record. After I whipped you to the tune of 45-7, you didn't appear in the rankings again. Eat it.


-Now is when the season gets ugly. Bama is ranked #3 behind the other remaining unbeatens, USC and Iowa. Knowing that no matter how much of a beat down is administered to the rest of the schedule I'll still have to pray for the computer to cause a loss, I decide to take it easy on Utah State. The Aggies, on the other hand, had other plans; namely letting Ken Darby run for 468 yards on 7 carries, each one resulting in a touchdown, IN THE FIRST HALF. After that I sat Ken down and put Marc Guillon in thinking that if I hurled the ball downfield every down we'd go three and out the rest of the game. Boy was I wrong as he reapetedly hit Matt Caddell, who himself had a banner day with 3 touchdown catches of over 70 yards each. By the end of the game Prothro (God bless him) returned two punts for touchdowns, Peprah, Harper and Simeon Castille each returned interceptions for TDs, and Freddie Roach picked up a fumble at the 13 and ran it back for six more. Tim Castille, who's much slower in the game than real life, got in on the action with a 200+ yard rushing day, but was kept out of the end zone as I began kicking field goals as soon as I was in range to try and slow their bleeding. The final? 120-17. I almost felt bad for running up a score like that, but I figure if you let Marc Fucking Guillon burn you for big yardage then you got what was coming to you.

-After the massacre of Utah State, Sly Croom's Bullies were in no shape to slow the Tide juggernaut as I made sure there was no repeat of the "not a single offensive score" game. Bama 56, State 6.

- Now the real revenge gets going. While the LSU loss hurt and still weighs on me to this day (Peprah's hand on the ball in the end zone and Freddie Roach flying over Vincent instead of standing firm in the gap on 4th and 1 haunts me in my sleep), it was a hard fought game that Bama just wasn't able to put away. There was no humiliation, just the hurt of seeing a perfect season fall to pieces. The virtual game proved just about as hard fought as I kept LSU scoreless but managed only 14 points in the first half, thanks mostly to Caddell and Prothro making circus catches on deep routes while I struggled with the ground game. The second half saw more of the same as Darby performed well below his average, barely topping 100 yards rushing with only one touchdown. A deep strike to Caddell on a play action bootleg in the fourth put it away to make the final 28-0.

And now, the real revenge would begin in earnest, and there was some serious revenging to do as I headed to the planes with blood on my mind. First, I planned to sack Cox eleven times, but managed only five. Why only five? Cause that's all the little bitch could take as he left the game whining about a seperated shoulder early in the 2nd. Whoever #11 is took the other six meant for him. Second, I planned on a shut out, but was technically unable to meet that goal. Their only touchdown was scored on a total BS "the computer hates being shut out" play when a corner tipped a pass meant for DJ Hall half way across the field to a linebacker who took it 83 yards for a touchdown. Now, I'm not going to say that a linebacker returning an interception 83 yards is impossible. I'll readily acknowledge that a linebacker shouldn't have any problem shaking a tackle from Tyrone Prothro (God bless him), though we've all seen the video of him throwing a mean block at South Carolina, or Brodie Croyle. And I'll even admit that, while Ken Darby is a tough sumbitch, it's not outside the realm of possibility that a linebacker could bowl him over, too. But after running through (not around or juking them out of their cleats, THROUGH) Prothro, Croyle, and Darby, it stands to reason that he wouldn't still have the steam to bowl over an OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, Keith Brown, and finally stay on his feet AND IN BOUNDS after Zeke Knight careens into him at full speed while said linebacker is tight roping the chalk. So the computer screws me on that, but at least I can say the defense didn't give up a score all day. Bama 65, The Barn 7.

The rest of the season was gravy. The computer correctly had UGA as the SEC East champion, but they were no match for me as I led the Tide to a 34-7 victory in Atlanta. The computer also correctly put USC and Texas together, but this time in the Fiesta Bowl as the Trojans lost to the crosstown Bruins and Texas inexplicably falls to Baylor en route to a 9-3 regular season record. I'm set to play an undefeated Iowa (which I didn't even blink at after watching TAMU defeat Fresno State for the MNC during my Navy dynasty) in the Rose Bowl, and will keep you posted as to the results. For now, though, my thirst for revenge has been slaked by the blood of both the "Bengal" and "War" variety of tiger, and I rest. Roll Tide.