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No complaints here.

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I’ll admit that my “Browns Troll” piece currently in the ‘Draft’ category might be aways away from publication.


I got nothing.  Not right now.

Is Andy Dalton a bag of suck?  Oh sure, you bet; but now’s not the time.  Have I said that Buster Skrine plays good positionally and my greivance is with his size?  Yeah* sure, but who cares… cover your ass posts are boring in general and particularly self-centered if done after such a glorious weekend.  Squeeze in just a smidgeon of juxtaposition between Dolan’s off-season and Haslam’s…?  Oh HELL NO!

No, no, no.  Not now.


Lots of space there Braxton.

Because it’s lovely lovely lovely to have a solid Buckeye win at home over a top team; a Browns domination of a perennial playoff team; and the Indians blowing everyone’s mind and getting into the playoffs.

Let’s offer some comment on all three.


1.  The Buckeyes.
I sure have some solid memories of national spotlight games in Columbus not going according to plan.  That wasn’t the case Saturday.  Braxton Miller looks poised running an offense who just won their line of scrimmage battle all night.  On defense, who knew Joel Stave had that game in him?  The Badgers were just good enough to provide a lot of coachable moments for Coach Meyer and none to soon with the at Northwestern game coming up.  The Bucks look good — but not great — and certainly shouldn’t be overconfident going to Evanston.


NFL: San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

Don’t overthink it, Joe: sign em both.

2.  The Browns.
First off, I have to say that watching in a bar is sub-optimal.  But my vibe from the game was that it never felt like the Browns weren’t dominating.

Err..  I can’t not write SOMETHING about Jay Gruden’s odd non-use of Gio Bernard and bizarre fixation on five yard under patterns for AJ Green.  How a team can have Gresham, Eifert, Green, Sanu matched up against the shortest secondary and not go up top is .. it’s a poser, I’ll tell ya.  If I do the Bengals’ blame pie, I’m settling in of equal parts Gruden weak OC, Dalton-bag-o-suck, and Browns defense that good.

Wait a sec, let me kick up the Browns’ defense credit from 33% to 50%.  Because Joe Haden’s performance on AJ Green a COUPLED WITH just the right amount of smack talk was so money.  I can’t think of a cornerback I’d rather have.  Revis? Peterson?  Sherman?  Nope, I’m good with Haden thanks.

And Hoyer, yes you can be quarterback.  You executed the best (only?) screen pass by the Browns in the last 20 years.  I actually don’t think that’s an exaggeration.  Hoyer is proof that ‘good’ QB is meaningless in the face of ‘smart’ QB or at least ‘competent enough to remember he has a tall tight end who can win jump balls’ QB.  Jordan Cameron… didn’t see that one coming either.



Note teammate Perez up front.

3.  The Indians.
Like many of you, I lost interest after that Tigers series in August and in particular after that brutal blown save shutout in the first game.  (Cripes, it’s painful even to look at that boxscore.)  The responsible blogger/journo in me wants to remind you of some stat on how the Tribe does against good teams.  But the fan in me won’t even google it and says in boldface:  NINETY-TWO WINS.  15-2 to close the season.  Yessir, good things can happen when try to win now and that’s nuf ‘ced on that for now too.

Salazar is a revelation.  In fact, the rotation looks like a real rotation with Ubaldo-Kazmir-Kluber-Salazar and what’s up with Masterson?  Is he our closer now?  See?  I really haven’t been paying attention closely enough.  The games are on in the background and my ears perk when personal fave Michael Brantley does something awesome.


Top 5 marching bands.


Spoiler alert: TBDBITL fares well.

I think the marching band component to college football is very special and vastly underrated.  So I was glad to get busy with this; it’s a project I’ve wanted to take on for some time.

I set out to do a “Best Fight Songs” list and we’re going to do that.  But I found that best fight song is less interesting than the broader ‘best band’ question.

For instance, I think UGA’s Glory, Glory and Tennessee’s Rocky Top are tip top fight songs.  But do they have ‘background music’ pieces that add to the atmosphere?  They may and I admit I’m not completely up to speed on all schools’ songs.  The converse is the school whose fight song is meh, but their background music works,, that’s Florida to me.  (I like the ‘Go Gators’ thing and at the same time could see how many wouldn’t.)  Texas A&M marches great but not sure the music measures up.

It presents an interesting subject to tackle.

Warning:  I’m not going to be objective about this.  I am going to wrap a veneer of a objectivity around it with a framework of metrics to evaluate the bands.  But I’m confident Ohio State will measure out #1.

But still there are a LOT of GREAT bands out there.  Here’s the loose set of characteristics I’m trying to take into account:

  • Precision marching;
  • Precision execution;
  • Terrific and beloved songs;
  • Stadium entrance;
  • Cadence.

They all contribute but don’t totally cover the main evaluation criterion:  what’s the band’s contribution to a memorable stadium experience?  That’s a soft opinion call and I’ve got no problem making it.

Honorable mentions.

UPDATE:  UMass Minuteman Marching Band is a force I didn’t know about.  Hustle Belt ranks them tops in the MAC:

They are one of only four marching bands from outside the major athletic conferences to win the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s prestigious Sudler Trophy, which has been described as “the Heisman Trophy of the collegiate band world.” If you care even the slightest about marching bands, you owe it to yourself to seize any chance you get to see this band perform.

Here they are in the Big House.


I took a hard look at several contenders.

Texas Longhorn Band.  “The Showband of the South.”

4027dc_8266b12a9c38317d92e7965d8f8c5d53First off, I’m not docking marching bands for cheesy uniforms.  Texas’ cowboy hats plus fringy buckskin… hey it’s a signature brand.  Not my style but I will guess that UT alums love it.  And that’s the idea:  they’re not performing for some Ohio guy in New Hampshire.  Their audience is the student body, alumni, and Longhorn fans.

Big drum + Bevo = memorable.  I don’t think you can look at a band like Texas without including other ‘non-band-specific’ elements that contribute to the production.  Bevo counts.

Texas Fight is a good song.  Who doesn’t love a trombone stealing the show.  It’s got tradition, it’s associated with some great teams, it’s instantly recognizable.  Big points.  Add in Eyes of Texas, a great alma mater, and that’s a powerful one-two punch.

In the end, I couldn’t get Texas into the top five because I’m not sure their marching is on par.  Like, good effort on the Script Texas, but I can’t really read it.  Hey.  Austin people.  Straighten me out if I’m way off base.

. (more…)

Carmen Ohio kickstarter.

My favorite national anthem. ^^^


I was all set to dig into “Why hasn’t Alex Mack been signed” today but when I found myself mixing it up with Brent Sobleski on Joe-Banner-is-getting-too-cute-with-Alex-Mack, I decided to a step back and reflect.

Nope,, still think Banner’s playing chicken with his pending UFA center who has started 48 consecutive games and who seems to be well respected in the league and even in Berea.

But that’ll keep.  Let’s go in a different direction altogether today.

What the hell is pop culture anyway?

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Click me.
R.I.P. Earl.

I chuckle when I see sports blogs branching in ‘pop culture.’  You all know Grantland does that to get more page hits right?  It’s a business decision aimed at bringing non-sporty types to a particular website.  It’s not illustrative of any paradigm shift representing the convergence of sports and music and movies… sorry it’s not.  Or maybe it is, I don’t know.  Don’t care.  I do know it doesn’t generally speak to me and that’s fine, I know I’m not the target demo.

That’s not to say it can’t be worthwhile.  Occasionally, I’ll be turned on to something I wasn’t hip to.  For example, Art Brosef‘s fondness for bluegrass prompted me to dig in and led me to OCMS to Earl Scruggs to Doc Watson to Maybelle Carter to Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.  For that tip I am still grateful.

But instead of categorizing this piece as pop culture, let me just call it what it is:  a point of personal privilege to offer up something of interest to me in the hope that maybe you’ll be interested in it too.

One man A capella.

Julien Neel (aka Trudbol) is a talented singer who lives in France.  That’s all I know about him.  I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work.  I’ve always had a fondness for Barbershop, have a good friend who’s in a superlative chorus, and was probably clicking around looking for the Family Guy Vasectomy song, when I stumbled onto this.

Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.  Love that song.  I’m a sap, can’t help it.  Love his version of it and I think he does a superlative job on it.  Now I’m a subscriber to his YouTube channel and if you like chorus, barbershop, A capella, you might want to subscribe too.  His work is for sale here. (more…)

On Gee.

Maybe he was using air-quotes?


In an example of the lack of critical thinking within an educational community which one would hope should encourage it, Gordon Gee has been forced out of Ohio State after it was reported that he was “ripping” Catholics.

I took the time to explore the context of Gee’s remarks and transcribed more than what you’ll find in the AP or SI stories.

There is nothing for anyone to be upset about.

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In a December meeting with the OSU Athletic Council Gee provided the back-story of how Rutgers and Maryland joined the Big Ten.  Interesting stuff actually.  Here’s Gordon Gee talking specifically about approaching Maryland (start at ~2:30):

We also have talked for sometime about Maryland and Rutgers.  But what happened after the meeting was to approach Maryland.

Some of that was precipitated very candidly by the fact that Notre Dame had moved off to the ACC.

I want to make it very clear, we have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten and the reason is the fact that they — first of all they’re not very good partners.  I’ll just say that.  I negotiated with them during my first term.

[Begin reported excerpt.]  [SI’s descriptors included.] ****

“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week,” Gee said to laughter at the Dec. 5 meeting attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith and several other athletic department members, along with professors and students.

OMG and he’s a Mormon too??

“You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that,” said Gee, a Mormon.

**** [End reported excerpt.]  [SI needs you to know Gee is Mormon.]

Father Joyce was one of the people who ran the university for many many years .. saying that .. Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it too and the ACC was feeling very vulnerable and they added Notre Dame as a non-football school something we (Big Ten) would never do.  You’re either in or you’re out.

Then he circles back to talk about how Maryland and Rutgers fit in the Big Ten.

Does truth,,, matter?

Let’s look at what Gee really said.  No, not the clearly tongue-in-cheek crack that Gee dropped for the specific and receptive audience he was speaking to.  What Gee said concerning Notre Dame, after having negotiated with them:  “… they’re not very good partners.  I’ll just say that.”

Now that’s kinda provocative.  Is it true?  Is Notre Dame a good partner?  Let’s take a look at their current partnership as a non-football member of the ACC.  Does Notre Dame want to have their cake and eat it too?  HELL YES.

In a related story, Tom Hammond thinks ND is a bad partner too.

ND just extended their football television contract through 2025 at $15,000,000/year.  Do their partners in the ACC share in this?  No.  Does Notre Dame share in the ACC Basketball franchise built upon Duke and UNC?  Yes.

This is not a good partnership.  ND wants and gets its cake and eats it.  Gee is 100% correct in his assessment is he not?

If your takeaway from Gee’s words is that he an anti-Catholic Mormon bigot, you’re not even trying to listen.

Gee as Ohio State President.

Not that it matters when we’re safe-guarding correct speech and thinking, but Gee was a very good president.

Ramzy gets it right here:

You won’t hear much these days about is Ohio State’s dramatic and holistic improvement well beyond donations, solvency, research grants and caliber of incoming students – though Time recently named him the best college president in America.  “Hurr hopefully Jim Tressel won’t fire him” is so much easier to categorize him.

Hurr indeed.

I’m not going to research the metrics Ramzy lays out above.  I will tell you that both my parents are OSU alumni and when it was time for me to look at schools, OSU was not on the list.  “Just a huge impersonal factory college” was my perception.  Two years ago I drove my son out for a visit and would’ve been most pleased if he’d enrolled as an out-of-state student.  Without citing admissions selectivity metrics, I can tell you my perception from out of state is that OSU’s reputation is tip-top.  The recent OSU alums I’m acquainted with have more pride in their alma mater than other alums from other schools.  Not an exaggeration:  I know of no other sets of alumni with the pride of community the Ohio Staters share.

While there are surely many drivers for that improvement it’s hard not to credit Gee for much of it. (more…)