College Football Open Thread


My plucky little Gators scored on the opening drive against the mighty Tide! I think we’re 24-point underdogs. Time to shock the world!

Later on, it’s Clemson vs. the Hokies and then Wisconsin vs PSU — both at 8 PM ET. Stupid schedulers! Anyhoo, open thread!

El Clásico Open Thread

Can Barcelona maintain Catalan pride at home or will Real Madrid manage to make it six straight?

Who will get sent off first?

I Haven’t Disappeared: Some Football Notes and Football Open Thread.

My deepest apologies for my recent lack of posts. I have been working a difficult schedule fulfilling the last classes of my contracted guest lecture assignment and it has been grueling. Most of my keeping up with events has been through the use of mobile devices and I don’t feel comfortable posting from a tablet or smartphone. Also, I am still fighting my post-election blahs. Onwards and upwards!

As you can imagine, here in Brazil the crash of the plane that killed almost the entire Chapecoense football team earlier this week is dominating the news. The grief is palpable all over Brazil. After the grieving abates somewhat, there is another major question: the team is in the top division in Brazil. How do they mount a team for the next season in all competitions? The other question that is more pressing and should be addressed to prevent such future tragedies: how on earth is a professional pilot so unaware of his plane’s refueling needs?

So Bruce Arena is back as head of the US Men’s National Team as Jürgen Klinsmann apparently had apparently passed his sell-by date. Arena has a long and impressive pedigree and, save a horrible non-call against Germany in the 2002 World Cup Quarter-Final, came close to bringing the US to the semifinals of that tournament. I just hope he manages to turn things around as consecutive losses in qualifying make the process a challenge for him. At least no one suggested Steve Sampson!

Barcelona’s form has not been very impressive lately, although they remain in second place, ahead of Sevilla on goal differential. The good news at least is that they will have Andres Iniesta back.

Someone asked me how to say Schadenfreude in Portuguese. My answer? José Mourinho.

Everyone goes crazy for the World Cup and the European Championships, but if you can get to see the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, do not miss it. The final in 2015 had Côte d’Ivoire beating Ghana one penalty kicks, with the Ivorian goalkeeper, Boubacar Barry scoring his kick and then defending successfully against the Ghanian keeper, Brimah Razak. This, by the way, was after Côte d’Ivoire missed its first two attempts. Final total on the penalty kicks was 9-8.

Speaking of goalkeepers, if this doesn’t make the Puskas Award finalist list for next year, then there is no justice.

Finally, if you want to vote on this year’s Puskas Award, here is where you vote. All are worthy contenders, but what Mohd Faiz Subri did in Malaysia is unreal.

You be the referee

The NFL had an interesting case of aggressive rules lawyering this weekend by the Baltimore Ravens:

The basic exploit that the Ravens hacked is that a game can end on an offensive penalty. A punt is considered an offensive play for rule purposes. So the Ravens wanted to minimize their risk and they were willing to concede two points to kill the clock as those two points only mattered to the gamblers that the NFL officially pays no mind to. If you believe that, you need to get into the bridge buying business. The Ravens punt team held every potential defender until the punter could run out the clock and then step out of bounds.

That was legal and the game was over on a cheap but legal play.

So let’s think as referees for this scenario. The first thing to do is try to figure out the assumptions behind the rule. The assumption is that most of the time the offensive team if it is actively playing the ball instead of kneeling needs the points. In that assumption, it makes no sense to reward a team for committing a penalty as yardage in the last 10-20 seconds of a game is far less valuable than time. The scenario that this guards against is the offensive team needing to go 30 yards for a TD, the QB seeing nothing open and he tells his center to hold his opponent after a four count to get another shot at the end zone. This makes enough sense although the rule that the fouled team can decline the penalty also guards against this advantage transfer scenario.

If I was a soccer referee and I saw a team up 1-0 taking a goal kick have their ten field players clutch, grab and piggy back ride their opponent’s field players to run out the time, my first response in a USSF/FIFA match would be to continue to add time after I book the entire team for unsporting behavior. NFL officials don’t have the ability to add time on a non-defensive penalty. Once the clock hits 00:00 the game is over if the ball is no longer in play.

I would be worried about retaliation. If I was an NFL coach I would tell my defensive players to hold, kick, punch, apply illegal hands to the face and otherwise attempt to draw a flag on themselves as soon as they feel like they are being fouled. That creates offsetting penalties and another nice big mess for the referees to handle.

This was creative rules lawyering by the Ravens. The NFL will respond. My bet is that the defensive team in cases of egregrious planned tactical fouling will be allowed to elect to have the play replayed at the original time on the clock. As soon as there is no reward of taking time away, this behavior that brings the game into disrepute will no longer be engaged in.


College Football Open Thread


It’s Rivalry Week (say that out loud three times), so some interesting games are on tap today. The ones I’ll be watching with the most interest — in chronological order and ascending importance (to me) — will be Ohio State and Michigan, Alabama and Auburn, and, of course, Florida vs. Florida State (Go Gators!). But there are many other consequential matchups today. Which teams are you pulling for, if any?

Got into a somewhat slurry bar argument with a Trumpkin last night. It all started when hubby decided he didn’t want Thanksgiving leftovers, so we went to the local Greek restaurant/lounge to have a cocktail and order a pizza to take home. Turns out many people in town had the same pizza idea, so it took much longer than expected.

While we waited at the bar, my husband and the guy seated next to him struck up a conversation. I was only half paying attention. But then the man said something about the economy getting better since there will be a businessman in the White House, causing me to aspirate bourbon while laughing bitterly.

The man inquired if I were unhappy with the outcome of the election. I answered in the affirmative. It escalated from there and got mildly snarly. To be honest, I don’t think either of us acquitted ourselves particularly well, though I was correct on the merits.

Anyway, poor, long-suffering hubby. On the bright side, I am a pretty good cook, and today I’m making my famous shrimp etouffee, so he’s got that going for him. Open thread!

You be the referee

A few things to think about as the season is wrapping up and my legs are still feeling surprisingly good.

Scenario A
Division 3 college women’s game in a 0-0 tie with 72 minutes played so far. Green plays a deep through ball. Orange keeper leaves the box and makes a very hard but fair challenge on the forward. The referee and the assistant referee both hear a snap-crackle-pop. The ball pops 30 yards into the air as both players go to the ground and half a second later, the keeper lets go a blood curdling scream.

The ball falls to the ground inside the box and there is a single on-rushing Green attacker who has a clear run onto the ball. Two Orange defenders are sprinting back but it is questionable if they can get a fair challenge on the ball.

What do you do?

Scenario A-1

What do you do to #10? Is there a caution or a pat on the back?

Scenario B

The score is 8-0 with 19 minutes left in the game. Blue plays a ball that should have been angled to the corner through the defense. It goes linear instead of diagonal. The Red keeper collects the ball with his feet and drags it back into the box. The Red keeper futzes around with the ball for thirty five seconds and there is no pressure on the ball.

What do you do?

Oh yeah, Red is the team that is down eight.

Scenario C

The center referee has not been having a good game. He is missing calls, he is inconsistent on what he is calling and his positioning leaves a lot to be desired. So far, the players have become visibly frustrated and the coaches are not happy but there has not been an explosion of chaos on the field. As an assistant referee what do you do?

C1: It is seven minutes to half time
C2: It is seven minutes in the second half and the players are grumbling but not whacking
C3: It is twelve minutes left in the second half and the players are taking their frustration out on each other.

Scenario D

Look at the arrow… what do you do?

Scenario E

It is the final game of the season. Yellow is sub-.500 and Green is out of the conference and NCAA play-offs. It is Yellow’s Senior Day and between the two teams they are starting fourteen seniors. What do you expect?

Read more

College Football Open Thread

football green

The Gators are playing South Carolina today. When legendary ballcoach Steve Spurrier retired from the head coach position at South Carolina, the ‘Cocks inexplicably replaced him with Will Muschamp, the coach the Gators had fired for being so bad at his job a couple of years ago.

So, last week when I saw the schedule, I figured the Gators would win at home against the ‘Cocks. Now I expect the ‘Cocks to win, burn down the Swamp and nuke Gainesville on their way out of town. It hasn’t been a good week.

Open thread!