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Archive for December, 2011


Holiday trip report – postgame

(Thoughts on the game itself will be in a separate post)

After the game, we spent one more action packed day in Southern California. We packed up and left my uncle’s house, who had been hosting us the whole time we were in San Diego, at 7:30 AM yesterday (the 29th). This was no small feat considering we got back from the game at 10:00 PM the night before and mobilizing a family of 4 kids is no small task what with the portable crib and all the other stuff that goes along with a young family. Luckily, my wife who had come along for the trip but didn’t go to the game had gotten most everything possible packed while we were at the game.

The reason for the early departure time was two-fold. First, we were having breakfast with an old college friend of mine who had recently returned to San Diego, her hometown, after years back east. She had never met any of my kids and it had been over a decade since I had seen her. It was good to catch up.

The second reason was that we were headed to Legoland for the day. My kids had never been and with three boys between 8 and 4 years old we were told it was the perfect age for them.

Frankly, I was not all that impressed with Legoland, particularly in the middle of the day. They need to take the chumps who designed their rides on an extended trip to Disneyland an hour up the road and learn a little bit about how to design rides for a good flow. After spending 75 minutes in line for “The Lost Kingdom Adventure” with the kids and then spending all of 2 minutes on the ride itself, I was pretty ticked off. It was the last straw for me in a long day of ridiculously slow moving lines.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that amusement park lines can be long, but what was so frustrating was that in this case there was no reason for then to be. They just didn’t think through how to get as many people as possible through a ride as quickly as possible. Things like loading up more than one car at a time, putting more cars on the loop and instructing their workers on to move people through. Their convoluted rules on who can ride each ride (if you’re 48″ you can ride by yourself on most everything; for those shorter than that, some are off limits and some require an adult to accompany you or in other cases just another person over 48″; and then some rides have age instead of height requirements and still others had maximum weight limits that affected which parents could go on.) while they were well communicated, still caused lots of holdups as confused people didn’t understand the nuances.

I’ve sat in line for over an hour at Disneyland in a ridiculously long line and when I got to the front was amazed at how quickly they were moving people through. I’ve seen how efficiently they dealt with people who couldn’t go on the rides and helped those who could quickly get in their seats. None of that was the case here. These were short lines, sometimes only 30 families deep, that were taking 45 minutes on average to get to the front and each new person on the ride happened at an excruciatingly slow pace.

However, to give Legoland some credit, if they could solve that large problem, it would be an excellent park. The center of the park is a ridiculously awesome display of Lego creations including cities from around the country and a new Star Wars section. The kids spent hours looking at them. They also had plays and short movies that were very creative and well put together. The playing areas, particularly the “Hideaways” in the back of the park, where the kids can run around are really nice too. It actually would be even better in the summer as they have a lot of rides and play areas where getting wet is part of the fun, particularly in the pirate section.

So if you had asked me at 3:30 PM yesterday what I thought of Legoland I would have told you to run and never look back, particularly if you were going to go at a busy time of year (and all things considered it wasn’t that busy/crowded yesterday). However, by the time we left at 6:00 PM having seen a show to help me calm my nerves and spent a lot of time in the center of the park, it had risen to a ‘pluses and minuses’ experience. Having known what it’s like, I would have structured the day very differently and probably would have done my last set of the long line rides during lunch time and once everybody returned from their eating breaks and the park was at its fullest, stuck to non-ride activities. It would have made the day a lot better. That does excuse their poor designs however.

At 6 PM we left the park having seen most of what we wanted to see minus a couple of rides that had an over 1 hour wait. We stopped just up the road in Oceanside to gas up (thanks gasbuddy.com for the cheap gas prices) and get some drive-through food with the plan that the kids could wolf down some food and then fall asleep after an exhausting day for the long trip home. We actually had two contingencies based on how tired I was. We’d either stop at a motel once we got over the grapevine, or if I was feeling up for it, we’d push late through the night. As it turned out, because we left the park an hour earlier than expected and didn’t hit much traffic through LA, I was able to make good time and we made it home by 2 AM.

An interesting note about the trip home was that the kids were unusually cranky. We expected them to be exhausted and thus sleep well, but they didn’t. Perhaps it was because it was the trip home and there was no longer anything to be excited about. Perhaps it was because we didn’t stop half way to let them stretch out like we did on the way down (which was at dinner time on the way down). Perhaps it was because it was the 2nd long trip in 4 days. Or perhaps it was a combination of the above. But I think it was because they were exhausted and thus were less tolerant of the lack of comfort of trying to sleep in the car.

Luckily, when I say they were cranky, it’s not what you think because we’ve been blessed with VERY cooperative and tolerant kids. There were no crying fits or melt downs or other tantrums that one hears about from other horror stories. They were just a little whiney, that’s all. And when we told them how long it was going to be they were great at toughing it out and doing their best to try to sleep even though they weren’t in the best of moods.

All it all, it was a good trip. It would have been a great trip if what happened on the gridiron had been different (more on that later) and Legoland knew how to design high volume rides (or at a minimum I had known in advance that they didn’t).

I’ll consider myself content and happy with a good trip.

Holiday trip report – pregame

We’ve got the family down in San Diego, well a suburb anyway. We drove down the afternoon of the 26th when the 5 month old went down for her afternoon nap. The one thing we didn’t anticipate was how bad the traffic on I-5 was going to be. Once the Bay Area traffic merged in at I-580 it was slow down after slow down for the next 100 miles. It was particularly bad at the point the San Jose crowd joins in.

We stopped for dinner in Coalinga, far earlier than expected because the slow downs had the baby up from her nap earlier than expected (and of course also we weren’t as far down the road due to the traffic).

To pile on to our misfortune, a bus load of people (literally, as in a tour group) were in front of us in line at the Burger King. Not being in a mood to stew in line, I checked the drive through line and noticed it was pretty short. I left the family inside, got into the minivan, got food from the drive through and brought it inside all before half the bus load was served.

Things improved dramatically from there. The kids got a chance to stretch out for a while and when we got back into the car the trafficked subsided dramatically. We made great time from there the only hiccup being my falling for the old cash price scam at the gas station. We got into San Diego at 11:30 PM, which is right about when we had hoped to, so we made pretty good time on the second half of the trip.

Yesterday we went to the San Diego Safari Park, not to be confused with the zoo down town. I think it is actually nicer than the zoo because of all the open areas for the animals. All 4 kids really liked it. We even saw some Texas fans dressed head to toe in Texas gear. I assume that was so they wouldn’t be captured and thrown back in the gorilla pen by mistake.

Today is game day. We’ll be heading to the stadium around noon with the hope of of having the tailgate fully operational by 1 PM.

As for the game itself, the more I think about it, I think it will come down to the quarterbacks. I don’t see either team establishing a run game if their passing game isn’t working. What I’ve seen of the Texas QBs and how I’ve seen Maynard improve gives me confidence that the Bears have a better than 50% shot at winning this one.

2012 Season Tickets

This meant to go up Wednesday, but the website wasn’t up in the morning and once it was up, there was a lot to go through to get all the data I wanted. Let’s get straight into it.

We now have just about all the information that we’ve been wondering about for Memorial Stadium in 2012. The key piece of data is out there at the new site, the seating chart:


(you can click on the picture for a larger version)

There are a number of notable things right off the bat:

  • FINALLY we know which sections will have seats, which will have bench-backs (benches with backs like a seat) and which will have benches. Only the ESP section will have stadium chairs and the old donor sections on the west side will have benchbacks. Everyone else keeps their benches.
  • While it’s not in the picture, we also know that all the sections from EE to I will have more space between the rows (more legroom) from the text on the website.
  • Sections EE and I are shown as “double wide” sections kinda like the old G and GG sections.
  • The Blue Zone on the south side of the stadium is gone.
  • The Gold Zone on the north side of the stadium is much larger than in the past.

There are others but those are the big changes.

Of the above items, the one that has me scratching my head is the changed width of sections EE and I. Are those sections REALLY as big as they show? Hard to tell just from the above picture, but the Ticket Office tipped their hand on a different page…

If one goes to the ESP section, you can already pick individual seats right now. They’re a fortune, but they’re there. And when you look there, you get a good finished graphic of the west side:

Based on this (I put in the section letters, so it’s possible I’ve misjudged this but I doubt it), it’s pretty obvious that FF and H are VERY narrow sections, barely a half section, that F/HH is the original section it used to be and EE/I is both the old EE/I, plus half of the old E/II. So really that wide section is only a section and a half and the new E/II is a pretty narrow section.

The next big question is pricing:

FF/H: $1500
F/HH: $700
EE/I: $500
TT/T: $400
E/II/U: $350
Std Price: $300
Gold Zone: $225 ($100 discount for kids)

Another way to look at it is this: If you want added legroom and a bench-back, it’s going to cost you $200 over the standard reserved price. For those who want better seats than that, you can pay another $200 and if you want to be right next to the ESP, it’s another $800

If you don’t care about the bench-back, and you don’t mind staring into the sun, an extra $100 will get you seats on the East side equivalent to the bench-back seats. Or for an extra $50 over the standard price will get you as good seats as you can on the West side, sans the backed seats as well as some East side options.

All of that frankly seems fair to me except for the FF/H bump of EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS!?! That’s a HUMUNGOUS bump to get an extra 5 yards closer to the 50. My feeling is that’s going to be the most empty section. Now, it’s a pretty small section, so maybe there will be just enough suckers who have money to burn but aren’t quite willing to buy into ESP. I see this being people who also haven’t been long time season ticket holders or donors to Cal athletics. Why? Because the plus side is that with the lack of demand I anticipate, you’ll be able to pick your seat (isle, center, high, low, what have you) in that section. Since new-timers won’t get to pick until all the good seats are gone, they’ll get a choice to get some choice seats if they’re willing to pony up.

At least that’s the way I see it going.

The rest of it feels about right. An extra $200 to get the bench-back and the legroom seems fair to me. I might even do it myself (and those who have been around long enough know I’m a perpetual cheap-skate who’s never before paid to upgrade my seats). I think that says something about the demand that will exist for those seats. I know it’ll be a lot easier to talk my wife into that $200 than it was to talk her into $150 or even $50 before (not that I ever tried).

I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s not all that much more than those seats were before the stadium upgrade when everyone was on benches and the only benefit of paying was getting a bit closer to the middle. It doesn’t seem like they’re asking too much for the privilege of additional comfort.

This is of course with the glaring exception of FF/H.

Finally, the selection process is going to be similar to the process at AT&T with one new HUGE wrinkle. They’re splitting the overall set into 3 groups. The first group is 2011 season ticket holders or donors over $1200 (before 12/31/2011… hint, hint). The second group is 2010 season ticket holders or donors over $100. Finally, the third group is people who put down season ticket deposits for 2012.

This is great news for those of us who bought season tickets at AT&T as even us relative new timers (and I learned being a 12 year season ticket holder with one missing year in 2003 makes me a “new timer”) will get to pick before just about everyone who didn’t. They’re rewarding our loyalty: YAH!

Within each group, it’ll go back to the whole points system where those who have donated lots of money over the years get more points than the rest of us. One has to go all the way to the FAQs to find this out, but they’re using the exact same point system as last year, so my decision to donate $100 last year got me 5 extra points. YAH!

All of this is a long way of saying I’m happy with the consistency of the Athletic Department. They said they were going to reward those who bought tickets in 2011 and they are, in a big way. They made clear what their point system was going to be last year (something I wish I had known years earlier as I would have donated $100 a year if I knew it was worth 5x what my buying season tickets was), and they’ve stuck to that system. And of course, if you’re willing to pony up big money for the program today, no matter what your history is, you’re going to be rewarded.

Plus, while there are a few quirks in the seating map, it’s a fairly level-headed and evolutionary set of changes, many of which were hinted at during the project.

All in all, I’d say the Athletic Department got this one right.

Pricing and Seating for 2012 available tomorrow

I got an e-mail this morning from the Cal Ticket office announcing the new site for the 2012 Memorial Stadium ticket sales (or at least promotion):

http://www.CaliforniaMemorialStadium.com

So far all that’s there, is a 1 minute promotional video, but they promise that tomorrow, 12/14, they’ll have 2012 season ticket information including seating options and pricing. It’ll be very interesting to see. I sure hope it’s pretty detailed. I really liked how for AT&T they had seat-by-seat information by the time it came to purchasing. They also claim that they’ll have priority information. I might even be willing to send in a few extra dollars to get higher on the priority list.

For those who remember, I had my criticisms of the AT&T plan and my prediction turned out to be mostly correct. The cheaper seats were packed but the middle of the stadium was downright empty and when it wasn’t it was because the USC fans bought all the single game tickets. The ticket office seriously misjudged how much people were willing to pay and also how many people were interesting in premium seats. While I might have been wrong that they’d sell out of the cheap seats, it was only because so few people bought tickets.

Frankly, it was an unmitigated disaster.

Check back tomorrow to see if I think the Ticket Office has learned their lesson.

Mack Brown (EMFMV 2011 #8)

We’re back at last! Jason and Ken talk about the Big Game and the ASU game, explore our feelings toward Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns, preview the Holiday Bowl and all the other Pac-12 bowls, and much more. Plus, a secret word!

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Re-living the 2004 nightmare

It’s been interesting to read some of the message boards post-bowl announcement. As the Texas fans have come to the Cal message boards and the Cal fans have gone to the Texas message boards, the issues of the day has not been which team is better right now (frankly neither fan base is all that happy with the state of their current team) but 2004.

2004, where the Bears were ranked 4th and would have been guaranteed a spot in the BCS in the next-to-last ranking, but were leap-frogged in the final week, ending up 5th, behind Texas. Texas went to the Rose Bowl in Cal’s stead. Cal fans were outraged.

I have no interest in debating the worthiness of each team, which is an entirely subjective activity, but I did want to set some facts straight. Feel free to reference anyone who’s stating BS to this list:

(Note: all rankings and records are pre-bowls, as that’s what the voters had to pick based on)

  • Cal beat Southern Miss 26-16 in the final week, but were down to S. Miss 17-16 early in the 4th quarter. However, Cal had statistically dominated the game, particularly the rushing game. It was a relatively easy grind-it-out win for the Bears and Cal pretty quickly put an end to S. Miss’s 3rd quarter rally.
  • Texas was idle that same week.
  • Texas did not go to the Rose Bowl because the Rose Bowl wanted them more than Cal. This was the older BCS, where the championship rotated between the major bowls. Therefore there were only 8 spots for teams. The following teams were guaranteed spots: #1, #2, the winners of the 6 BCS conferences, a #6 or higher non-AQ team and the higher of #3 or #4 that didn’t win their conference. That year both #1 and #2 won their conference (as is usually the case), so it was the 6 BCS conference champs, plus Utah at #6 (non-AQ) and Texas at #4 who made up the 8 teams. There were no options and the Rose Bowl was forced to pick between Texas, Utah and Pittsburg.
  • In the new 10 team BCS, there’s no question that the Rose Bowl would have picked Cal.
  • Texas’s only loss was to Oklahoma, the #1 ranked team. Final score, 0-12.
  • Cal’s only loss was to USC, the #2 ranked team. Final score, 17-23.
  • Of course, Oklahoma was ranked #1 before the bowl game, but we all know who ended up being the far better team. USC destroyed Oklahoma 55-19.
  • Most pundits believed Cal played a closer game against USC than Texas did against Oklahoma.
  • Texas had beaten more ranked teams than Cal did, but all of them were ranked 20 or lower. It’s not like they were all that impressive wins, either (26-13 over A&M, 56-35 over OSU, 51-21 over TTech (OK, that one is)). BTW, all those teams were 7-4.
  • While Cal only beat 1 ranked team, Arizona State, they were ranked higher than all the teams Texas beat (#19). They were also 8-3 instead of 7-4. Cal also beat unranked 6-5 Oregon State, who was under-appreciated as they destroyed Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl. Finally, Cal beat 6-5 UCLA.
  • Don’t let any Texas fans understate how hard Mack Brown campaigned. See here, here, here (scroll down).
  • Cal went on to lose 31-45 to Texas Tech, a team Texas had beat handily, validating to most that Texas was the most deserving team (dismissing/overlooking the lack of motivation Cal had).
  • Texas went on to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, winning on a late field-goal 38-37. Of course one doesn’t know how Cal would have done against Michigan.
  • Cal was actually ranked 4th in both the AP and Coaches poll, it was the computers that ranked Texas higher (significantly at that).
  • It was the coaches poll that changed most in the final week of the season, the assertion being that Big-12 coaches significantly lowered their rankings for Cal in the final week.
  • I actually had a hard time finding detailed data on the polls in the next-to-last week and the final BCS rankings week. If someone has links, I’d appreciate it. From my memory, no coaches poll from 2004 was public on a vote-by-vote basis. Even now, only the final week’s ranking is made vote-by-vote public, so one wouldn’t know who changed their vote from the next-to-last week to the final week.

Those are just the facts. Feel free to continue the debate, but at least let’s keep the facts accurate.

Kraft Fight Unemployment bowl?

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony when the kraft Fight Hunger bowl (which seems like one of the more noble bowls by the way) featured two teams that have already fired their coaches. Would the now unemployed coaches and their families be getting bags of food after the game to help them through the rough times?

Luckily this is something one can joke about because I would hope that all the coaches involved put aside enough money from their large salaries to survive being fired and out of work for a while considering the business they’re in. I’d never want to joke if real hunger was involved here.

But seeing as how it likely isn’t, one couldn’t think of a more ironic name for a bowl that featured two teams with fired coaches (other than the “Fight Unemployment Bowl”).

Bowl bans the wrong punishment

Now that we’re through the BCS line-up knot-hole, I’ve got another topic that’s been on my mind: Bowl Bans.

Obviously there are two main punishments that the NCAA hands out. Bowl bans, usually for 1 to 3 years, and scholarship restrictions. At first glance they both seem to be good punishments. Going to bowl games is the reward for a good season, something that both the players and the fans love. It also gives the team extra practice time they wouldn’t get otherwise. That’s the “take away the positives” side of it. The “punishment” side of it is that the team’s recruiting will take a hit because new students won’t want to go to a school that they can’t go play in bowl games.

Scholarship restrictions on the other hand is an almost entirely punishment based handout. It hurts the school’s recruiting by reducing the number of kids who can be recruited and the number of kid who can be on scholarship for 1 to 4 years.

At first glance, the heavy handed likely prefer the bowl bans. It has both a punishment and removing rewards aspect. Isn’t it better to take away both?

I say no.

First of all, for the NCAA almost all punishments come LONG after the players and frequently the coaches who committed the infractions have left the program. The result is that taking a bowl game away from a team is likely taking it away from kids who didn’t do anything wrong.

Second of all, with the exception of unusually long bowl bans, it won’t much hurt recruiting. There will usually only be one or two recruiting classes who are even aware of the sanctions while they’re being recruited and for most of them, those bowls will be in their 1st year or two in the proram, when they’re somewhat unlikely to be a starter or someone with significant playing time. That’s not all that much of a disincentive to go play for that school.

Thus I don’t think bowl bans work. That’s half the reason I don’t like them.

The other half is that it also punishes the rest of the conference for the mistakes of the team that broke the rules. This has become quite clear to me after watching USC this year.

See, when a good team is on a bowl ban, every time it beats someone in the conference, it’s reducing both the quality of the bowl the guilt-free team will go to and the number of bowl slots available to the conference. If USC hadn’t beaten Oregon, Oregon would be in the BCS championship game this year. Although it didn’t happen this year, any team that was 5-7 and lost to the team with a bowl ban, was denied a bowl game they would have been in if they could have beaten the team they would have played instead.

There’s even a long-run factor of bowls not willing to offer more compelling spots to the conference because of the weaker looking teams (due to the extra losses put on the conference by the bowl ineligible team) they had gotten in the past.

So the way I see it, the bowl bans don’t hurt the violator all that much (at least the right kids/coaches) and then hurt the rest of the teams in the conference. That’s particularly egregious because those conference teams are the teams that MOST need retribution. After all, assuming the rule breaking helped the violating team get ahead, it was the other conference teams that most directly paid for the cheating in the past.

Looking at scholarship restrictions instead, the impact is to weaken the violating team, which gives more win opportunities to the other teams in the conference (something they deserve based on the harm of past cheating) and not in other ways harming the conference.

If I were in charge of the NCAA, unless I caught and imposed sanctions right away, while the players involved were still at the school, I wouldn’t impose bowl bans. I would instead take away scholarships, and lots of them.

Ticked off, Happy and smelling the hypocrisy

On the one hand, it ticks me off that Alabama got the BCS Championship slot over Oklahoma State. The only reason I’ll be watching that farce of a national championship game is if I’m bored that evening.

On the other hand, I’m ecstatic about the bowl match-up for the Bears. The Holiday bowl always gets its time-slot to itself and generally turns out to be a good game. Plus, playing Texas. Did anyone say: REVENGE MACH BROWN… REVENGE!?!

Finally, the hypocrisy being smelled is the rules for non-AQ qualifiers. I didn’t realize how high Boise State was ranked… finished at #7 in the BCS, well high enough for the “ranked higher than 12th” rule EXCEPT for the fact that only conference champions are eligible for that rule.

I see, for the BCS title game, winning one’s conference is irrelevant, but for a non-AQ team to get in the mix, THEN one has to win the conference in addition to being in the top-12, something the Mountain West winner TCU didn’t do.

I see how it is.

My BCS proposed change

I’ve long been a believer that the easiest way to solve over half of the problems in the BCS is to insist that only teams that have won their conference are eligible for the BCS championship game. Seriously, if you can’t win your conference, how can you claim that you’re the national champion?

And making the rule change solves a lot of problems:

  • There won’t be two teams from the same conference like this year (likely)
  • Due to the above, it significantly reduces the rematch possibilities
  • There will never be a controversy about which of two teams from a conference should go (Oregon or Stanford?)

Then there’s the more subjective issue that if you look back, the most egregious and controversial slights have happened when a team that didn’t win their conference gets the nod (2001 Nebraska anyone?). Of course it doesn’t solve every problem, like when there are 3 undefeated teams from different conferences, but there’s a lot of scenarios it significantly cleans up.

Ironically, the BCS is going the opposite way. A couple years back they realized there was an issue with the current rules where the top two ranked teams were from the same conference and neither won the conference. Because there’s a two team limit for BCS games, the question was which of the three would go (the conference champ, the #1 team and the #2 team) to BCS games. Could the conference champ be denied a BCS bowl game? Would #2 be denied a spot in the championship game?. The solution was to say that all three teams in that scenario were automatic qualifiers for the BCS.

But of course they could have solved that problem by just limiting the BCS Championship to teams that won their conference.

And as I said above, if you didn’t win your conference, you have no business being in the title game.

Let’s hope Oklahoma State’s impressive 44-10 win over #13 Oklahoma is enough to leap-frog Alabama, because the last thing I want to see is a repeat all-SEC BCS title game. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even watch it.

Update Sunday @ 7:45 AM: I probably should have made it clear that I prefer an 8-team playoff. I’m somewhat flexible within that model as long as some number of conference winners are automatic qualifiers. My current thinking is the top 5 ranked conference winners (of any conference, not just the current BCS conference and independent teams counting as a “conference of one”) getting an automatic bid, with the remaining 3 “at-large” going to the highest ranked non-conference winners. Point being, the above post is a “if we can’t blow the thing up, this is the minor change I’d make” post, not what I think is the best.

Thanks UCLA

The first Pac-12 championship game could have been an absolute disgrace of a game, but it wasn’t. UCLA was out-matched, but fought hard and at a few moments (tied 7-7, only down 24-35 in the 3rd quarter) looked to have a shot at pulling off the upset. Oregon quickly put an end to those delusions, but it was nice to see a game that wasn’t a joke.

People will walk away from watching that game thinking it was entertaining, not disgraceful.

So, thank you UCLA for coming to play with heart in a game where you could have given up before the kickoff. It’s not easy to deal with losing your head coach and being a 32-point underdog and viewed as a joke in the title game. They played their hearts out anyway. Thanks! (Now go make us proud in the former-Nut bowl.)

Alamo slight of hand

If I remember correctly, part of what got us all so excited about adding the Alamo bowl was that it was moving to be a January 2nd bowl, the 2nd most prestigious day for a bowl game after New Year’s day. But in our first two years of playing it, it’s been on the very over-crowded days of December 29th and and December 31st. I know a big reason for that is that New Year’s day has been over the weekend, making a mess of scheduling (you don’t want your Jan. 2nd games on Sunday due to the NFL and the Jan. 1st games move to Jan. 2nd when the 1st in on a Sunday, bumping the Jan. 2nd games elsewhere whenever the 1st is on either Saturday or Sunday) for the last couple years… but I’m beginning to wonder if we got a far less appealing game than we thought. After all, the TicketCity bowl (former Cotton bowl) snuck in with the Jan. 1st bowls (the 2nd this year), even though they’ve got a much weaker lineup (#5 Big-10 vs. Conference-USA winner).

I was going to say “As a reminder, the Pac-12 is one of the only BCS conferences without a 2nd new year’s day bowl” but it looks like the landscape has changed. Of the 4 non-BCS game New Year’s Day bowls (Jan 2nd. this year), ALL FOUR of them will have a representative from the Big-10. Three of the 4 will match up against the SEC and one will match up against Conference-USA (what the?). In past years, the Big-12, Big East and ACC have all had one of those slots. Looks like they get to join the Pac-12 in weak bowl land.

But that’s ridiculous, the 5th place team (6th if they ever get 2 in the BCS games) in the Big-10 will be playing on New Year’s Day. This year they’ve got a log-jam of five 10-2 or 9-3 teams, so it won’t be too bad, but in most years, it’ll be a pretty weak team playing on the same day as the Granddaddy of them all.

Congrats to NoBetterThanSolid

Because post-season games are not in the Pick’Em league, the league wrapped up last Saturday. A big congratulations goes out to repeat winner NoBetterThanSolid, the first repeat winner since DuckAndRun won the first two years. NBTS didn’t start out the season well, but played strong down the stretch to take over the lead. Another late surger: Ted Miller.

Of course nobody ever beats the Betting Line (Vegas ALWAYS wins), but we won’t include them.

Here are the players who won individual weeks:

  • NoBetterThanSolid: 3 week wins
  • kencraw (that’s me :) ): 2 week wins
  • cpoff: 2 week wins
  • kwest80: 2 week wins
  • ChrisNguon: 2 week wins
  • philip: 1 week win
  • jsnell (co-blogger): 1 week win

Thanks everyone for participating!