Penn State vs LSU: Are You Ready?

We've been bricking it about the prospects of even writing a preview of the Penn State - LSU game because we're so darned tense about it.

For the Nittany Lions, it's the chance to go 2-0 against SEC teams in the last five years in Jan 1 bowl games, as well as to prove to anyone watching that they might be worth at least a No.20 ranking and a prayer coming into 2010's game with Alabama (have we mentioned that game yet on this site??). Oh, and it's also a chance for certain players to prove their worth for the 2010 season (cough! cough! Kevin Newsome! Cough! Cough!)

For LSU, it's a chance to prove that without Les Miles' insane sideline clock control and some bad luck/bad officiating against Alabama, it would have been the LSU Tigers in the SEC Title game, not the hated Crimson Tide. 

Anyway.....

Why Penn State Will Win

1. "What A Great Defense"

Penn State is a superb defensive team that despite a woeful game against Ohio State, was once again the best in the land. Not only that, but it's anchored by Jared Odrick and Navorro Bowman, who are both projected to go in the first round of the 2010 draft. They'll cause no end of problems to Jordan Jefferson, LSU's young quarterback.

2. Darryl Clark - It's Your Time

The last two years have been great ones for Darryl Clark. He's helped the Nittany Lions to a Rose Bowl and a Capital One Bowl, and he's been brilliant almost all season long. He can hang with pressure - look how he's played on the road this season against crowds that hate his guts. However, 2009 was thought of as the great Clark 'choke season', with poor performances against USC, Ohio State and Iowa. Why not come good now - on his last game with the NFL Scouts watching?

3. Royster4Heisman

That's the name for my fantasy league teams - and if you're a Nittany Lion fan, you'll know why. Evan Royster has been Penn State's best player this season. Despite an inept offensive line, he's run for over 1,000 yards and against a Tiger 'D' that gives up 134 yards per game, he'll do well, thanks very much.

4. Big Boy Derek Moye

Already thought of as the heir to the throne of Butler, Williams and Norwood, Derek Moye made some standout catches last season to come out as one of the potential bright sparks for the 2010 season. And another thing: he's bigger than you are.

5. Joe Paterno Is God.

'Nuff said, really.

Why LSU Will Win

1. Penn State's Offensive Line.....Urghh....

Penn State's offensive line is awful/anemic/ horrible/sucks, and it won't have a prayer against the LSU bull-rush.

2. Penn State's Secondary Is Weak

We'll let you into a little secret, Jordan Jefferson - Penn State's secondary isn't wonderful. Yahoo was nice enough to call it "solid", but we don't think it's been good since Alan Zemaitis left in 2005. If I were Miles, I'd ping the ball up in the air and let LSU's 6 ft receivers cause the problems.

3. LSU Has Trindon Holliday....

While Penn State's defense is incredibly solid, they rank 120th on punt return defense. In other words: feed it to Holliday and he will score. Holliday, who's the 'Usain Bolt' of the SEC, will frighten the Lions all day long. Put him down for 14 points.

4. And Weapons On Defense

As Mississippi State knows, Chad Jones is his own weapon of mass destruction on defense, when he practically won the game by himself. For some reason, the Tigers manage to come up with tremendous late interceptions, and they've clawed Les Miles out of tight situations on more than one occasion. Darryl Clark suffers under pressure, and when you've got gold-helmeted warriors charging at you with the smell of dacquiri in the air, then expect Clark to fail.

5Les Miles Wins Bowl Games

Under Les Miles, LSU is 4-0 in bowl games and they've stomped on everybody they've played against. Teams play for Les Miles - one of the games true 'mad hatters'. We can't wait to see him get in the face of his players on Jan 1.

Prediction: Penn State by 3 in the game of the Jan 1 Bowls.

Mike Leach Fired: What In God's Name's Goin' On Down In Lubbock?

Anyone understand what's just happened in Lubbock?

Mike Leach, the "Mad Scientist" of college football, has been fired as head coach, because he apparently confined one of his wide receivers Adam James in a dark room after the player sustained a concussion.

James complained about it. Leach was fired. And it was all done very, very quickly.

Leach has got a lawyer and is preparing to sue Texas Tech, but the bottom line is this: Mike Leach is out as football coach at Texas Tech, and you wonder whether another 'mad scientist' of offensive coaching - Charlie Weis - might step in and take over. They don't do a lot with defenses down in Lubbock, anyway!

Anyway, Leach put Texas Tech on the map in footballing terms.

And he's also responsible for a future NFL Pro Bowler in Michael Crabtree, who's overcome a tempestuous first season (where he decided to sit out some of it and ask for more cash) to be one of the top young wide receivers in the game. 

But back to the Leach case. You can't think that this was done out of spite. Texas Tech was one loss to Oklahoma away from going to the Big XII Championship Game and perhaps the National Title game in the 2008-9 season. They've been an offensive powerhouse since he arrived in 2000, and quarterbacks suddenly wanted to play in a place that no-one cared about in the 1990s. 

If something DID happen, then Leach made a stunningly stupid error of judgement - contract or not. 

But regardless, any Division I-A school needing a brilliant offensive co-ordinator/quarterback mentor/ future head coach will be high-fiving at the thought that Mike Leach is on the market. The guy will put your school back on the map. Washington State, anyone?


Daycare Nightmare

Considering how independent, friendly, happy and full of character Ruby is, I had no doubt that she would do absolutely fine in daycare. She has had no problem being away from me. She doesn’t make strange. She plays well with other kids.

That is until the Daycare Nightmare…

And before I go on I feel the need to first explain how it came to be that Ruby ended up in such a place. I spent a good amount of time this past summer looking for a good daycare for her. I asked around, networked, researched until I came to find “Adventure Time Daycare”. I visited the daycare a couple of times in the summer. It was clean and very organized. The woman was very professional. She had an information booklet for me that explained her credentials, how the daycare worked, costs, requirements, etc. When I visited there were only two other kids there and they played very nice with Ruby (she was just 6 months old and still in a travel carseat). I thought I had found the *perfect* place.

Two weeks before Ruby was slated to start daycare, we visited again – and again one week before she was to start. This time things were a little different. There were 4 other kids there – one of them a 1 year old baby. There was also a big fluffy dog that wasn’t there before that layed in the middle of the room amongst the toys and kids. He was obviously kid friendly but I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I also *thought* I sensed a slight bit of frustration in Melissa’s (daycare lady) voice, directed at one of the kids. Surely I must have been wrong about that though. And for some reason, Ruby seemed slightly hesitant to get too comfortable when we were there. I thought nothing of it.

When discussing Ruby’s schedule with her I mentioned that Ruby still needs two naps a day. Melissa got a bit prickly and told me “Well I will be changing that.” She told me that ALL the kids in her daycare took ONE nap a day at it was at 11:30am and it lasted 2 ½ hours. I was a little annoyed by this but tried my best to get Ruby on that schedule before starting daycare.

The first day I went to pick her up, Melissa brought her to the door in her arms asleep. Melissa gave me a roll of the eyes and said, "We have NOT had a very good day. Ruby cried all day and I am EXHAUSTED!" It shocked me because it just doesn’t fit with Ruby’s personality. I was very upset that she'd had a bad day and Melissa didn't make it any better as she acted very annoyed by Ruby's struggles.

The next day I went to pick her up I got the same attitude from Melissa. She told me there was no improvement and that Ruby refused to nap. She also said to me, "And just so you know??? She pooped THREE TIMES today!!!" Except it wasn't “just so I would know”. She was seriously pissed by that.

Things didn't get any better. Melissa's attitude was bad every time I picked Ruby up. She was really frustrated and angry that Ruby didn't want to nap there (5 seconds after we would leave, Ruby was out).

Then finally on the Friday she said to me, "You know what really makes me mad??? I work a 10 1/2 hour day and I'm not getting any breaks because of Ruby!!" She said that is her time to eat her lunch and relax.

She told me that Ruby cried whenever the other kids went near her and obviously I hadn't socialized her enough (which is bullshit). She said Ruby hadn't been around strangers enough. Should I have been dropping her off at the mall for a couple of hours a day to get her used to strangers??? She’s a baby! She went on to tell me things she said to the other kids about Ruby that would make them not like her!!! Like, "Kids you can't play with the dancing snowman today because Ruby cries too much." She told me that she cried whenever a certain little girl went near her.

I found a bite bruise on Ruby's thigh and when I mentioned it to Melissa she got snarky and said that none of “her kids” bite and she would know if that had happened. She reluctantly admitted at the end of the day that it was definitely a bite mark on Ruby's leg and she was astonished that she'd missed that. Is it possible that the little girl that made Ruby cry was the one who bit her??? I mean, kids bite – that shit happens. But to deny that this could be why Ruby was nervous of a particular girl, and instead to say that Ruby wasn’t socialized properly is just ignorant.

Also when I would pick her up, Ruby would frantically start signing "milk" to me as soon as she saw me. I had to wonder if she wasn't getting fed enough. I mentioned to Melissa that she might be hungry and she went off on me about how she has a university degree and she knows that Ruby's "behavior" isn't from hunger! Still she was famished when I picked her up. And one particular day I found her breakfast bottle still in her diaper bag – untouched. She hadn’t been fed it.

It made me feel so awful to know that Ruby was having a hard time adjusting and it was made worse by Melissa’s attitude that it was somehow my fault or Ruby’s fault or that there was something that *I* could do about it when it was actually HER JOB to make Ruby (and me) feel better and more comfortable.

At the beginning of the second week, Melissa told me that Ruby had until the end of the week to show improvement or I would have to find another daycare.

I didn’t let her go that long. I dropped her off the following morning and cried my eyes out when Ruby clung to my neck and tried all her best karate moves to get away from Melissa. I got to work and explained my situation to my boss who kindly told me to go get Ruby. “You don’t leave your kid in a place like that” she said.

I phoned Melissa on my way to get Ruby to let her know that I was coming and I wouldn’t be bringing her back. In the 20 minutes that it took me to get there, Melissa had Ruby’s bags packed and sitting by the door. She was more than happy to get rid of Ruby and wasn’t afraid to show it. I told her I wanted a refund for the remainder of the month – she was reluctant but she wrote me a cheque.

When I first got to the daycare, Melissa had Ruby on her hip. Ruby didn’t see me at first but I saw her. She had a sad, distant, empty look on her face. That wasn’t my Ruby and it broke my heart.. When she saw me she lit right up.

Melissa told me that Ruby needs extra attention and she doesn't have time to give it to her. That I should go to an unlicensed daycare where they can only take two kids so that Ruby can get the extra attention that she requires.

When we left, Melissa was saying goodbye to Ruby and I swear to god, no word of a lie or exaggeration, Ruby did nothing but glare at her. I have never seen her do that either.

I have since had Ruby at a few different places with different people and have had ZERO problem. No crying, no problem napping. I'm just horrified that I was so wrong about this woman and her daycare. I feel horrible for poor Ruby that she had such a bad time there and am just thankful that she never has to go back there ever again.

I have since found a new daycare. It’s not a fancy place. The house is older and could use an update. But the woman who runs it seems very kind. We discussed some of the issues we had at the last daycare and she was horrified at how Ruby was treated. Ruby starts in January and I will be keeping a very close eye on how things are going. We need a fresh, happy start. I know I won't feel at ease until I see that Ruby is happy, content and cared for in her new daycare.



















Snow days here are few and far between so it is a glorious experience when I can capture something as magical as snow, just minutes from home. Post-Christmas here in Hamiltonland, spending time "away" with dear friends. Being nurtured and inspired in the warmth of another's creative nest leaves me eager for the new year's beginning. Life is full of potentiality and inspiration.
Welcome yule.

Yo Penn State Three: It Pays To Stay

As far as Penn Live tells us, Penn State star defensive playmaker Navorro Bowman and running back star Evan Royster are thinking about taking the dive to the NFL

First of all, we understand that the players might be thinking about the words "dollars", "parties", "girls", "Sportscenter" when they go to the NFL.

Although we realise that players defecting after a successful junior year is nothing new, the VFA would like to make a case as to why they both should stay in State College.

Remember star defensive end Aaron Maybin, who went to pursue NFL riches at (ta daaa!) Buffalo? He didn't come to a deal with the Bills until mid-way through training camp, and has a stunning 16 tackles, a forced fumble, and zero sacks in his first year. To say the least, he hasn't been as productive as he - or Bills Nation - would like him to be. Sure, we can probably say that 17 sessions without a training camp didn't help him - or could he have done with another year in college?

Don't you think that if Maybin could go back into history, he'd change the decision to go pro and stay at State for one more year, and gain the chance to be possibly the top pick in the NFL, get more money and, more's the case, more experience under his belt at the college level?

Then there's Maurice Evans. He's as big as a house, and could have shone out in his final year (well, what was left of it after the drug bust, anyway!). But he decided to go to the NFL. After getting cut by Carolina, he now 'plays' for the New York Giants, where he's apparently brilliant.....on the practice team (he hasn't appeared for the NYGs so far).

We haven't finished yet. Ex-Buckeye James Laurinitis, who's been undoubtedly one of the defensive standouts of 2009, scoring a mind-numbing 115 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Brian Cushing, formerly of USC, has been freakishly good in his first season at linebacker for the Houston Texans, managing a bone-crushing four INTs and 128 tackles. I realize that linebacker and defensive end aren't the same position, but here's the point: both Cushing and Laurinitis were both seniors leaving college. 

It pays to stay.

Why? The experience that a defensive player gets in college will be invaluable come the NFL. Offensive guys can learn and adapt. If a defensive player gets pounded in the pros in training camp, then he might not make the cut. We'd like to argue that staying in school will help a player to get drafted higher, make more money, start, become a fan favorite and then, yes, make more money.

And then we come to Evan Royster. Only the really, really special running backs find time at the top level in their first year. We're talking Beanie Wells and Knowshoun Moreno special. If Royster goes - yes, that Evan Royster who rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Nitts this year despite not having an offensive line to speak of - he won't be a starter. Heck, Royster might struggle to be a back-up. If Royster can continue his supercharged career with the Nittany Lions - and have strong games on the road at Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State (and the bowl game) as well as a good one against LSU on Jan 1, you can't help but think Royster could be a first round/high second round pick in the 2011 draft.

Plus, Penn State hasn't exactly had a shining history of great NFL running backs (we can only think of Larry "Twitter" Johnson), so why not keep Royster for another year and beef him up for the Big Leagues? 

Anyway, if you listen to our advice Nav and Evan, then great. It pays to stay!



Why Urban Meyer Should Leave Florida

We know miracles can happen every day of the week, but apparently it particularly happens on Sundays in Gainseville, Florida.

Urban Meyer might not be leaving after the Sugar Bowl after all.

Only a few hours after we at the VFA practically eulogized Urban Meyer after he announced that he was leaving the most successful college football team of the decade because of heart worries, the big man decided think about coming back. 

According to ESPN's sources, Meyer, having had a 'change of heart' (no pun intended) will be leaving the program on an interim basis to 'take a step back and see how he feels'.

If I was Urban Meyer, I'd go. Here's why. If I come back to the stadium for the 2011 season, have a heart attack on the sideline and die, then I wouldn't be a martyr to the cause of coaching.  I'd be an idiot for seeing the problem and not walking away from it.

As we all know, there's nothing more important than our health - and let's hope that Urban Meyer sees that and decides to take some well-earned rest. It's not like he doesn't have the money, after all.

What Will Happen To Florida Without Urban Meyer?

It was a shock to all of us at the VFA when we heard that Urban Meyer was retiring from his role as the Florida Gators head coach.

Citing family and faith before football, Meyer decided that a possible heart attack and death on the sideline wasn't worth risking for the Gadzillions and the glory.

And you know what? Good on him.

Driven as he is, Meyer didn't have anything else to prove at the University of Florida. He'd taken Florida from irrelevant to National Champions, helping them to two National Titles in his short stint. People may praise Tim Tebow for his godliness and decency, but I think Urban Meyer's battles over his health put him right up there for a Gator Sainthood. Urban Meyer Field at Tim Tebow Stadium, anybody?

Anyway, the Florida Gators will be in a rebuilding stage this year. Don't expect the Gators to win the SEC East - we'll install Tennessee as favorites for the title, but expect them to be pretty damned handy in years to come. Florida ain't going anywhere, people.

The next stop is the next coach, to take over after the Sugar Bowl. His immediate job will to be try and keep some of the junior talent dashing off to the NFL. Here are some names on our (and many people's) lists:

Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) 

In one season he turned turgid MSU into a bowl team, and battled both Florida and LSU all the way. He celebrated the end of the season by hammering Ole Miss. 

Why would he work for Florida? He knows the pressure, the personnel and he's coached there before as an offensive co-ordinator.

Bob Stoops (Oklahoma)

The State of Texas hasn't been the same since Bobby took over the reigns at Oklahoma. He's one of the best in Sooner history, and his name worked with the Fighting Irish job after Charlie Weis was fired.

Why would he work out for Florida? Because he's a damned good football coach. Needs a good defensive co-ordinator, though. 

Will Muschamp (Defensive co-ordinator, Texas)

Will Muschamp is a coach-in-waiting. And if Mack Brown keeps up the success, he won't be going anywhere anytime soon, which might annoy the highest-octane coach since Bobby Knight left the basketball courts.

Why would he work out for Florida? He knows the SEC, having coached at Auburn. He's a stellar defensive man, and 'big-time' success working under Brown at Texas.

Bobby Petrino (Arkansas)

Petrino isn't the most loyal of coaches, but let's get this out there: he's one hell of a coach. He's great with quarterbacks and wherever he goes, there's a juggernaut offense.

Why would he work out for Florida? He's had success in the SEC and can put points on the board, which will be loved by a crowd spoiled by years of Spurrier and Meyer.

Charlie Weis (Notre Dame)

Probably the best offensive co-ordinator in the nation. Made Tom Brady, Brady Quinn and will make Jimmy Clausen's career. His offenses know how to score points, and he's a master recruiter. Sadly, he was a master at losing close games, but given a good defensive co-ordinator, he could make the Gators frightening.

Why would he work out for Florida? I'm just kidding. There's no way the alumni would have him.

Gary Patterson (TCU)

You probably think I'm joking, but this one of the best coaches in non-BCS football. Under Patterson, TCU has been a year in, year out 'lower conference' juggernaut. Sure, he's just signed a contract. But Florida is rich enough to buy TCU out - and you know what? They've recruited from the small conferences before, and seen success. Remember a guy called Meyer?

Why would he work out for Florida? Patterson's a great coach. Florida need a great coach. Simple, isn't it?


Three Straight! Penn State wins National Title and 102nd game

We'd like to make this clear: Penn State's women's volleyball team IS going to lose another game in their history.

They might have lost against Hawaii and maybe they should have lost against Texas.

But they didn't.

And that's why the Nittany Lionesses are 2009 Champions, after coming back from 2-0 down against the second-ranked Texas Longhorns to win the final set 15-13 and lift the trophy.

It's weird, because there's no professional volleyball to speak of. But for four years of a person's life, it's worth getting excited about.

'Tis The Season To Be Merry: 10 Coaches On The 2010 Hotseat

Charlie Weis, Al Groh, Mark Mangino Steve Kragthorpe got early Christmas 'presents' in the form of pink slips after the regular season ended, but here's 10 more coaches we think have reason to be worried if their team doesn't improve come the end of the 2010 season.

1) Ron Zook (Illinois)

Despite having one of the best recruiters in the land, Illinois was terrible this year. They beat Michigan and Indiana, only because Michigan and Indiana sucked worse than they did. Their 'key' quarterback, Juice Williams, sucked. Which means that if Illinois sucks in 2010 (2009's record was a 'wonderful 3-9), Zook'll be out.

2) Paul Wulff (Washington State)

Is the State of Washington so poor that firing Wulff- who's only won three games in two seasons - would be a massive financial blow to them? The Wazzu was, well, up the wazoo last year, winning only 1 game (an improvement on 2008's Zero).

4) Dennis Erickson (Arizona State)

Erickson did one great job at ASU, and sorted out the Sun Devil's leaky-as-hell defense (they were best in the Pac-10 in conceding points). The biggest problem is that he couldn't sort out the offense to make the Devils a double threat (third last at scoring them). The horrifying six losses in the last six games kept the pretty boo-boys and girls pretty in Sun Devil Stadium, who'll want Erickson's job if ASU finish bottom - or near to the bottom - of the Pac-10 again.

5) Gene Chizik (Auburn)

After saying that Auburn was one of this year's pleasant surprises, I'll throw this one out there: Auburn also managed to blow leads against Georgia and Alabama. A winless coach against your biggest rivals doesn't win you many friends. Nor does a whole lot of SEC losing records. Chizik better win fast, or the 'loser' tag might stick and he'll be learning new routes....to the job center.

6) Rich Rodriguez (Michigan)

The fans are beginning to think Michigan may have got the wrong guy in hiring Rich Rodriguez. Coaching Year 1 is forgiveable if you finish a pitiful 3-9, but Coaching Year 2 with 'your own players?' with a 5-7 record when only one of the wins was against notable opposition (Notre Dame)? If Forcier & Co don't sort out themselves out, RichRod's out of a job.

7) Mike Sherman (Texas A&M)

High things were expected of Mike Sherman when he took over A&M a couple of years ago, but the Aggies have been utterly disappointing this year. The Aggies gave up more points than anyone else, and they were wildly unpredictable. And losing against Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State wasn't good for the former Packers' coach's credentials, either.

8) Mark Richt (Georgia)

Georgia's alumni rule the school - hence the fact that Willie Martinez was given the boot a few weeks ago when the defending was shoddy at best. We'll put this one out there: if Richt's team perform as badly as they did this year - losing to Tennessee and Florida in laughers - Richt may well be looking for another job.

9) Jimbo Fisher (Florida State)

We know Bobby Bowden was the longtime head coach at Florida State (well, he still is until after the bowl game against West Virginia), but Fisher had been the man-in-charge for a while now, and everybody knew it. Florida State - the win against BYU aside - was bad this year, and defensively they were laughable. The proud Seminoles tradition won't stand for it.

And.....(take a deep breath).....

10) Pete Carroll (USC)

I'll make this plain and clear: The VFA is a Pete Carroll fan. We love the work he does with the kids in LA. We love the fact that he makes a difference to disabled people's lives. If there was a reward for common decency, Pete Carroll would be a National Champion every year. However, USC hasn't won a National Title since 2004 and they have continually lost games to teams they have hugely underrated. The Trojans have stunning lost to Washington, Stanford (twice) and continually lose in the State of Oregon. This year, they finished sixth in the Pac-10 after losing at home to mighty Arizona (don't make the excuse about Mike Stoops' team being 'back', SC fans, your team sucked all day).
If Carroll's has a record in 2010 like it did in 2009, you'll begin to hear the noises of anger. And it won't just be on the LA Freeway, either!


Highlights: (25) Stan. - (11) USC - A funny movie is a click away

Brittle

A few weeks ago I spent the day doing some Christmas baking. I tried this recipe for "Breton Brittle" and was quite pleased with how it turned out. I packaged it up in a big container and put it safely away in the freezer.

This evening we're decorating our tree so I thought it would be the perfect time to have a little treat. I decided to take the brittle out of the freezer this morning so it is defrosted for this evening.

There was just one little problem. You see, before I froze the brittle I let Steve have a small sample of it. He really liked it. I mean, he REALLY liked it. Obviously.

Here's what my container of brittle looked like when I pulled it out of the freezer this morning:

Ain't Much 'Til New Year: Previewing the Bowls That Matter

Sorry to be cruel to Wyoming and Rutgers, but we've not overly excited about your bowl games this weekend. In fact, we're struggling to be interested in any bowl game before the weekend - but there ARE a few.

Anywhere, here's our predictions:

Oregon State vs BYU (Las Vegas Bowl, Dec 22nd)

BYU's biggest game of the season was an opening day win over Oklahoma, while Oregon State came from nowhere to lose at the death in the 'Civil War' against Oregon. We can't wait to see Jacquizz Rodgers, O-State's running back.

Prediction: Nice Beavers! Oregon State by 21

Utah vs California (Poinsetta Bowl, Dec 23rd)

Utah and California's big debacles of the season was when there were crushed on national television by TCU and Oregon respectively. The Bears scored somewhat of an upset when they beat Stanford this year, but the LV Bowl will be poorer without Jahvid Best.

Prediction: Flowers in the air: Utah by 10

Pittsburgh vs UNC (Car Care Bowl, Dec 26th)

UNC should be getting a heck of a lot of home support when they play Pitt at home in Charlotte. Ironic this - because if UNC win, it'll be yet another upset for the Tar Heels, who seemed to enjoy knocking off Top 25ers (after they themselves were beaten) at the end of the year. Pitt, however, has to get over the heartbreak of losing a Big East decider against Cincinnati.

Prediction: Home Cookin'. UNC by 7

BC vs USC (Emerald Bowl, Dec 26th)

The Emerald Bowl organisers must have been wetting themselves when USC sunk to sixth in the Pac-10 and HAD to pick up a bowl bid to a game that they - nor anyone else - will remotely care about a couple days after it's finished. The big show should be USC's Taylor Mays, who's gotten some criticism this year from NFL Scouts. We'll see how BC plays - especially against a USC who will be playing for that famous pride.

Prediction: Song Girls jumping (which isn't a bad thing, folks!). USC by 14

Kentucky vs Clemson (Music City Bowl, Dec 27th)

A quick piece of mathematics: C.J.+Spiller=highlight. The last time you'll be able to see a player quite like this grace the turf this season. And no, I'm not being over the top.

Prediction: Clemson by 28

Texas A&M vs Georgia (Independence Bowl, Dec 28th)

Should be one of the highest-scoring bowls because of one thing: both sides don't have any defense to speak of. It's going to be fun.

Prediction: Georgia by 4 on a last-minute drive.

Miami vs Wisconsin (Champ Sports, Dec 29th)

Miami got a lot of headlines this year, while Wisconsin's best remembered for the best fourth quarter opening in college football (Jump Around!) and playing well at Ohio State this year.

Prediction: Miami get 'U' talking. Miami by 10

Arizona vs Nebraska (San Diego, Dec 30th)

Watch Nebraska's Boy Named Suh, probably the No.1 pick in the 2010 draft attack Arizona's offensive line. That's about it.

Prediction: Wildcats in the upset. Arizona by 10

Oklahoma vs Stanford (Sun Bowl, Dec 31)

Get to watch Toby Gerhart put the hopes of a rejuvenated Cardinal play against the heir to Sam Bradford, Sooners QB Landry Jones. Jones is pretty good - and may well shine against a less-than-solid Cardinal secondary.

Prediction: Boomer! Sooner! By 21

Virginia Tech vs Tennessee (Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Dec 31)

This game, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be a war. From our days at school in Bristol, TN, situated nicely on the Tennessee-Virginia border, we realised very quickly that despite the fact both teams don't play each other often, the sets of fans really, really don't like each other. So bring your camo, bring your deer, bring your beer, and bring the dogs of war.

Prediction: Party like it's 2010. Virginia Tech by 3.

Penn State vs LSU (Capital One Bowl, Jan 1)

Both teams had chances to win their respective divisions, and both teams blew them. This game is probably the best of the Jan 1 bowl games, and should be a wonderful game. Lions fans will get to take a better look at 2010 starter Kevin Newsome, who could cause the Tigers problems.

Prediction: Penn State by 3 in a game for the ages.

West Virgina vs Florida State (Gator Bowl, Jan 1)

Worth watching because it's Bobby Bowden's last game on the Seminole sideline. Bearing in mind FSU couldn't stop a lot this year - and will have problems stopping Mountaineers running back Noel Devine, this could be an ugly finish.

Prediction: West Virginia feeling Devine by 14.

Ohio State vs Oregon (Rose Bowl, Jan 1)

OK, so hands up who's excited about this one. If you AREN'T excited, then you obviously hate life. Will Terrelle Pryor finally live up to the hype? Will Oregon's offense live up to the hype? Will Masoli continue to make mistakes against a nasty Buckeye defense? And will we get to a see a whole lot of lovely shots of Oregon's cheerleaders, rather than the ugly Brutus Buckeye?

Prediction: Ohio State in a stunner.

Cincinnati vs Florida (Sugar Bowl, Jan 1)

So, Cincy's coach goes to Notre Dame, and now they've got to go up against Florida who won't want Tim Tebow's last game to be a tearfest. Hmmm.....

Prediction: Florida. By a lot.

Oklahoma State vs Ole Miss (Cotton Bowl, Jan 2)

Both sides were definitely a disappointment this year. One word for OSU's Zach Robinson and Ole Miss' Jevan Snead in 2009: Overrated.

Prediction. Fun. Oklahoma State by 10

Boise State vs TCU (Fiesta Bowl, Jan 4)

This is going be an absolutely fantastic game. Both sides, urgent to show the world what they can do, will be playing for the title of the 'Best BCS Buster'. Against each other. They both have considerable winning streaks riding on this game, and the Fiesta Bowl should be fun.

Prediction: TCU by 3

Iowa vs Georgia Tech (Orange Bowl, Jan 5)

The Iowa Hawkeyes, despite losing their best running back before September 2009, battled all the way, and rode their luck right until losing against Northwestern. They outplayed Ohio State in The Horseshoe before losing in overtime, while Georgia Tech won the poker game known as the ACC. Can the Hawkeyes' brilliant 'D' stop the Jacket's brilliant triple-option?

Prediction: Yes, they can. Iowa by 10

Alabama vs Texas (National Championship Game)

We're not all that excited about this one. Maybe it's because we - like everyone else - expect SEC Champion Alabama to quieten Texas in the way that they quietened Texas. Maybe it's because we're college footballed out and want to relax at the end of the season. Maybe it's because we're not great fans of either team.

Prediction: Rammer Jammer. Alabama by 18




A Good Schedule Should Win You The BCS

We've been ranting about this for a year now, but we'd like to put forward a simple plan that will make for a better regular college football season and put an end to the whining about not being in the National Championship Game.

We think that 80% of the BCS decisions should be made on strength of non-conference schedule, not on the AP Voters' decisions. Then, 10% should be made on the strength of the conference, and 10% should be left to the stupid AP voters, who we've never been a fan of.

If Texas and Florida had gotten into the National Championship Game after playing the equivalent of the New Orleans School for the Blind, it would have an absolutely travesty. Why? Because Alabama - who played most of their non-conference games against crappy schools, at least put Virginia Tech on its schedule first thing.

The same goes for Penn State if the Lions had managed wins against Ohio State and Iowa. The fact that they played NOBODY in their off-season schedule should have stood against them.

I know we can argue that stunning upsets like Appalachian State's win over Michigan in 2005 can happen, but at the end of the day, these are few are far between.

At the end of the day, if college football does not have a play-off it's got to sort out its regular season. And more games like Alabama-Virginia Tech, Oregon-Boise State, USC-Ohio State and Georgia - Oklahoma State would make college football a far better product and lead to less arguments come BCS time.

Oh, and atmospheres like the one we had in Atlanta at the start of September.

Good Year For/Bad Year For - 2009 Edition

We've had great years and we've had crap years in the world of college football. The greatest year this decade was probably 2005, when everyone kept on beating everybody else, and you couldn't hold your breath. 2009 was distinctly middling, with three teams battling it out for, er, three places. And none of them lost - despite the close calls.

With that in mind, the VFA are giving out their feelings on a Good Year/Bad Year basis.

GOOD YEAR FOR: Urban Meyer - Florida 2009 National Champ, Unbeaten (regular) Season
BAD YEAR FOR: Charlie Weis - Wins a Bowl, loses to Michigan, USC and, erm, UConn, Gets fired.

GOOD YEAR FOR: Colt McCoy - Wins Fiesta Bowl, Unbeaten season, Goes to NC Game
BAD YEAR FOR: Tim Tebow - Win NC Game, Gets Concussed, Loses SEC Title Game, Cries

GOOD YEAR FOR: Brian Kelly - Cincy unbeaten, Gets Bearcats Noticed, Goes to coach Notre Dame
BAD YEAR FOR: Mark Mangino - Kansas trainwrecks a season, accused of bullying players, fired.

GOOD YEAR FOR: Alabama - Unbeaten season, win SEC, Heisman Trophy Winner, National Championship Game
BAD YEAR FOR: Penn State - Lose Rose Bowl, lose important games to Iowa and Ohio State, have no offensive line, a mediocre 10-2, need I go on?

GOOD YEAR FOR: TCU - ESPN College Gameday, Smoking hot cheerleaders, win on Gameday, Unbeatable
BAD YEAR FOR: Notre Dame - We're bored of telling you why

GOOD YEAR FOR: Nebraska - Good defense, good defense, good defense
BAD YEAR FOR: Georgia/ USC - Bad defense, bad defense, bad defense

GOOD YEAR FOR: Crowds - White Out, Black Out, Red Out, Fall Out
BAD YEAR FOR: SEC Officials - Screw up, screw up, screw up

GOOD YEAR FOR: Jordan Shipley - Touchdowns. Run Backs. NFL first rounder.
BAD YEAR FOR: Carlos Dunlap: Asleep. Arrested. No SEC Title Game. Second round pick?

GOOD YEAR FOR: Penn State Recruiting 2010 - We're loving the 4-stars. Now don't screw it up.
BAD YEAR FOR: Tennessee Recruiting 2010 - Hostesses, Violations, Penalties?

GOOD YEAR FOR: Ohio State - Going to Rose Bowl, beat Penn State, beat Iowa, beat Michigan.
BAD YEAR FOR: Ohio State. Lost big bowl game, lost to USC, lost to Purdue. Terrelle Pryor was overrated.


Listen, we know there's a lot Good Years/Bad Years Out there. You guys get to complete the fun!

Pedicure Bust #37

I did it again. I went for another pedicure…

This time I tried the hair salon that is only a couple of blocks from my house. I’ve walked by it plenty of times and saw the “pedicure chair” through the window. I had to stop in there the other night to get some hairspray so I inquired about a pedicure. The shop owner was all encouraging and said that a pedi is $35. Decent price, I thought. I figured I’d give it a shot.

I showed up for my appointment and the owner greeted me by saying “She should be here soon….” I took from this that their esthetician didn’t work there full time and only came in when she had an appointment. 10 minutes late she rolled in the door and started setting up for a manicure… Yes, a manicure. Then she called me over to her manicure desk and told me to put my hands in the soapy water. I told her I was here for a pedicure – which got her all frantic. “I was told it was a manicure! That’s why I set up for a manicure! She booked you in for a manicure!!” She then went to the owner and spoke to her in a foreign language. The owner walked by me and said, “Don’t know where my head is. I booked you for a manicure…”

So I waited another 5 minutes for her to set up for my pedicure.

I was shocked when she pulled out the London Drugs “Deluxe Foot Spa”, plugged it into the wall behind her, pulled up a rolling office chair and told me to sit down and put my feet in the spa.

Well, maybe I wasn’t so shocked. I mean, I don’t get good pedicures. Why should this be any different?

So I sat on the chair which was too high so that only my toes and balls of my feet were in the water.

The pedicure started and I alternated lifting each foot and sitting it in her lap in the most uncomfortable position, while tensing my legs in an attempt not to roll away in the chair. Not the most relaxing. I was actually fantasizing about the chairs in the last place I went too... (Was it really that big of a deal that they cut my foot open??? Their chairs were really nice.) She told me that they can't use the fancy chair for pedicures anymore now that they do laser treatments... (Oh wow, after the professional pedi that I'm getting here, I can't imagine what they do with a laser beam!)

And all this was right in the very front of the shop, in the window so that not only did everyone walking by outside get to look in and see me with my yoga pants rolled up to the knees with my leg up in the air and bent at an awkward angle - but every time a patron came in or out of the salon, I got hit with a cold blast of winter.

I suppose it was ok that only my toes and balls of my feet were soaked in the water because the pedicure didn’t go past there. She dripped a little oil on my toes and massaged them. My toes, she massaged my toes. Not a centimeter further.

She asked me to pick out the color I wanted. I picked a sparkly red. She hesitated and I quickly found out why. That particular bottle of polish was perhaps 10 years old and it was almost dry. The polish came out thick and sticky. It took almost 25 minutes for her to do one coat and then she told me it didn’t need a second coat. Good thing because by this time it was almost past my bedtime.

I left there with dry, scratchy heels and over lubricated, oily toes and a cramp in my leg from contorting my body to keep my feet in her lap and my ass on the rolling chair. The polish STILL feels sticky, 3 days later.

On the bright side? I didn’t lose any blood and she didn’t tell me I was fat. Still, my quest for a good pedicure continues…

The End of Season College Football Awards

After telling the world who we thought was the most disappointing team in football, we at the VFA have decided to put a piece out there about college football's biggest positive surprises (you'll see it soon). And yes, Stanford's on the list and Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC AREN'T on the list - sorry.

In the meantime, here's our list of "the bests" from the 2009 season:

Best Team

1. Alabama - They beat Florida
2. Texas - They are in the National Championship Game
3. Florida - They may have got beaten the SEC Title game, but they are better than TCU
4. TCU - TCU is better than Cincinnati but would probably lose to Florida
5. Cincinnati - Will lose to Florida in the Big Bowl Game.

Best Games

1. Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 27 - Best known for a fan bawling, but actually it was two good team balling well.
2.BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 - BYU were better than the Sooners even when Bradford wasn't injured.
3. LSU 20, Georgia 13 - SEC officials not welcome in Athens.
4. Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34 - Classic
5. Most of Notre Dame's season, actually. You can't beat a good soap opera for excitement.
6. Washington 16, USC 13 - Tell me you didn't see that one coming.
7. USC 18, Ohio State 15- The atmosphere made the game, and gave me a new respect for OSU's fanbase.
8. Oregon 44, Arizona 41 - Finally College Gameday had a game that was worth watching.
9. Texas 49, Texas A&M 39 - Classic for those who love no defense whatsoever.
10. Alabama 26, Auburn 21- Sensational ending for a sensational team.

Best Atmosphere

1. USC vs Ohio State - You didn't need to call "Red Out" for 100,000 OSU fans to turn out in scarlet.
2. Florida vs LSU - Wow.
3. Alabama vs Virginia Tech - Two sets of very loud fans inside the Georgia Dome made the SEC Championship Game seem like a tomb.
4. LSU vs Georgia - Not so much 'atmosphere' and more 'tailgate' and 'scenery'.
5. USC vs Oregon - Funny how the Trojans being in town gets the student body 'up for it'.

Heisman Trophy

1. Toby Gerhart - Carried Stanford on his shoulders all season long
2. Mark Ingram - He's quite good at speeches, and running over defenses.
3. Colt McCoy - Best QB in college football this year
4. CJ Spiller- Best all-round player in college football. Without him, Clemson were nothing
5. Tim Tebow- Sounds a cop-out, but it's OK to like Tebow. It really is.

Best Moment

SEC Championship Game: The half-time. Boy loses to girl in Dr Pepper Half-Time throwing competition. I'm still laughing. So are most of Daniel's buddies.

Biggest dumbass

1. Stanford alum Tiger Woods. You cheated on your wife HOW MANY times?
2. Daniel, the UF fan who sucked ass in the SEC Championship Game.
3. Tennessee's recruiting staff. How many will you manage until you get sanctions?
4. Charlie Weis. Maybe not quite "dumbass" but definitely "lame ass".
5. Some of Terrelle Pryor's decisionmaking (or was it Tressel's) put him into this category
6. The guys at the NCAA who don't put enough emphasis on strength of freaking out-of-conference schedule
7. Georgia's defensive co-ordinator, Willie Martinez
8. Texas fans if they think they've got a hope in hell of beating Alabama
9. Anyone who thinks Tebow is less of a person for crying after the SEC Title game.
10. This writer for making silly Mormon jokes before the TCU game. Apologies, BYU fans. Again.

Top 10 tips for 2010

1. With Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate going pro, does anyone seriously think the Irish are going to compete in 2010?
2. Penn State will lose in Tuscaloosa in September. You heard it here first
3. Go and watch a Georgia game. It's inspiring.
4. Attend a Penn State Beaver Stadium 'White Out' - probably against Michigan
5. Go to Vegas and put money on Alabama repeating a National Championship
6. And while you're there, bet on Michigan being better than bowl-less
7. Start a facebook group for "Lou Holtz and Mark May: Best Gay Couple?"
8. Have a laugh at yourself and remind yourself that bowl games are nothing but a bit of fun.
9. But if your team loses, it really isn't.
10. Have fun reading this column/website/blog/whatever you call it.

And last but not least......Best Cheerleaders

1. Oregon
2. TCU
3. Florida
3 (tie) LSU
4. Arizona
5. Arizona State
5.(tie) Texas

Oh, and this for you, Clemson fan








ONE

When you turn one year old you get a really big attitude.


Or maybe it doesn't come overnight like that, maybe you spent your entire first year developing the big attitude. I'm not sure how it works exactly. But on your first birthday when your mom has grandiose plans of a really neat photo shoot of you in your red tutu and your beautiful red and black felt hat? You refuse to cooperate because you are one now and you have a great big attitude...

Penn State destroys the Florida Gators.....

Hey Tebow! Urban Meyer! Brandon Spikes! Percy Harvin! Jesse Palmer! Your boys took a beating tonight.

Yes, we're serious this time. Penn State absolutely hammered the Florida Gators. Big Ten vs SEC? We win the first battle!

Florida is out of National Championship contention kids - and took the pasting in Gainsville.

Just in case you think we're crazy here at the VFA, what we're saying is, in fact true. The Florida Gators DID take a pasting at home. Unfortunately, the sport wasn't college football - it was women's volleyball, where the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions walked over the Florida Gators 3-0 in the NCAA Championships Sweet Sixteen.

Oh, and we might have forgotten to mention that Penn State was ranked top, while UF was ranked 18th. Nothing like a reversal of fortune from the football field to the volleyball court....

Anyway, according to the ESPNU scoreboard, the first two sets were somewhat of a walkover, with PSU putting up 2-0 with 25-12 and 25-18 set victories (apparently a marginal call helped to win the second set for the Lionesses - we only wish it could have happened for the football team in Michigan in 2005 (not that we're bitter over here), before finally dealing with the Gators in the third, coming up 25-21 winners.

The Nittany Lions play Cal in the quarters, with a view to winning - get this - their 100th straight game. They're second on the all-time win list, by the way.

In an another noteworthy match-up on Saturday, second-ranked Texas - who have a player by the incredible name of Des'ree Hooker (who's apparently incredible), play Nebraska. We hope that time won't be a factor - again.

Adjusting. Or not...

I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to see Friday. This week has been… challenging. To say the least. So many firsts and so much to adjust to, it’s more than I care to be handed all at once.

It’s been interesting to try and get back into a groove at work with so much of it being so new. And it’s been even more interesting to try to remember how to do everything without someone here to retrain me. The beginning of the week was rough but I think it’s smoothing out somewhat. Then again, I've got a whole new can of worms opening up to me on Monday.

Where I thought Ruby would be a rockstar at daycare – she’s not. Where I thought she wouldn’t notice if I wasn’t there – she did. Where I thought she’d enjoy playing with the other kids and the different toys – she doesn’t. Where I thought she wouldn’t shed a tear – she did (oh boy, did she). This is hard on my heart. Oh how it breaks my heart. I hate to think of my girl being so unhappy. I don’t call to check on her during the day because I’m afraid if I hear that her day is going badly (which so far has been every day), then it will only serve to torment me because I can do nothing to make it better until 4pm when I go pick her up. So I stay off the phone to the daycare and come 4pm, I drive like Mario to go get her.

My house looks like a war was waged inside it. I have watched Ruby throw a variety of foods from her highchair to the floor and I have just sighed and done nothing about it because I’m to exhausted to even think about bending over to pick something up. There are crumbs on the counter, dirty dishes in the sink. The floors desperately need a sweep/vacuum/wash but the thought of doing it makes me want to cry. The bathroom… oh the bathroom. I’m thinking of just closing the door and putting up an “Out of Order” sign. It would be easier. We can all just use the bathrooms at work.

Other than Monday (when I had Sunday to prepare) all our lunches have been take out. I can’t even fathom where I would get the time to prepare lunches. I have scraped by with dinners that came directly out of my freezer in the morning and then directly into my crock pot.

I’m not sure how this thing is supposed to work but I just don’t feel like I’ve managed to lick it in the first week. I fear that it will be some time before I find myself a comfortable groove.

Good Luck, Brian Kelly

After he basically said he'd entertain offers from big-time schools, Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly seems to have gotten himself the biggest offer of them all: Notre Dame.

Unless you've been under a rock for the last few years when it comes to college football, Notre Dame and coaching situations have been a somewhat unsteady business. You come, you get a few wins, you lose, and you get fired. Only Lou Holtz in recent history can probably hold his head up high - although his 'homerness' on ESPN programs may have raised a few giggles. Holtz hasn't knowingly picked the Irish to lose - ever - and they've done it - quite a lot - in recent years.

It's nothing if not entertaining.

The biggest question for Brian Kelly going in is this: Can he take the Fighting Irish back from the college football backwater and bring them back into the National Focus year after year after year? That's what Notre Dame and their all-powerful ADs and alumni expect.

At Cincinnati, he turned the Bearcats from a football backwater into a Big East powerhouse, outscoring most of his opponents with good, accurate quarterbacks and some great wide receivers. The best of these have been this year, with Tony Pike and Zach Collaros proving they can throw the ball, with soon-to-be NFLer Mardy Gilyard - and the rest of his receiving corps - proving they can damned well catch it.

However, we're not so sure about Kelly's defensive plaudits. At the end, Cincinnati's defense proved to be a shambles.

We'll have see what will happen in the land of Touchdown Jesus, eh?

Finally, the Bowl Committees Get It Right

Finally, the Bowl Committees get it right.

As a Penn State fan, I would have loved the Nittany Lions to sneak into a BCS Bowl and play somebody, but they lost - and were outclassed - by the Hawkeyes.....at home.

Frankly, I can't wait until Penn State play LSU in a bowl game for the ages in Orlando. It's Joe Paterno vs Les Miles. Both have seen their teams have disappointing seasons, but both teams have players that will grace the NFL. Penn State's special teams guys will worry about Trinton Holliday and his speed returning kicks, while LSU will worry about Darryl Clark and the spread option. Ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be fun.

One of my favorite writers on Bleacher Report groused about the fact that Florida State had been chosen ahead of Clemson for the Gator Bowl. But you know what? It's Bowden's last game. And against the West Virginia Mountaineers - his former team - we can't think of anything more cool, dadgummit.

The 'smaller' BCS gatecrashers in TCU and Boise State could be annoyed because they are playing each other, but it creates a monster of a line-up. One will remain unbeaten, and probably order in National Championship rings. It would have been nice to see them play big conference players, like a Florida or an Iowa, but no-one can really deny that this should be one of the best games of the week.

And thank God we had nothing to bitch about when it came to the National Championship Game. We all knew that Texas and Alabama are the two best teams in the nation.

And so it begins, and ends.

Tomorrow, everything changes. Maternity leave comes to a screeching halt and I am to return to the Land of the Working.

And as if it wasn't stressful enough to be going to back to work after having a full year off, worrying about how my girl is going to adjust to daycare, trying to work out the logistics of getting the baby to daycare, the husband to work and then getting myself to work on time with only one vehicle - everything has changed in regards to my actual work.

For starters, I have a new boss whom I've met once. And that boss is located in a different office building than the one I spent the past 6 years at. And she wants me to relocate to where she is - which means not only are the surroundings all completely new, so are my co-workers. The co-workers that I was looking forward to seeing on a daily basis again, that made work a sometimes fun place to be? Not going to be seeing them. The office that I'm relocating to is large and vastly empty due to downsizing and restructuring. On the upside: it's going to be nice and quiet. On the downside: it might be pretty boring and lonely.

As for the actual work? Well, my job has been performed remotely by a girl in Winnipeg for the past year - halfway across the country. She's a smart girl and knows the job well. When we were training her to take over my job she made many trips here and spent lots of time with me, going over my job and learning how to do what I do. But now that I'm returning? She's unavailable to fly here to retrain me. And there is a whole lot of new stuff. Like a brand new collective agreement that I have to learn. And different procedures. And jobs that I never even had to do before that I will be doing now. But nobody will be there to train/retrain me to do any of it. Apparently she will be available by phone but... it's not quite the same. And my new boss doesn't have a clue how/what I do so she will be zero help. On the upside: I'm a bit of a lone wolf and I do prefer working alone over working with other people. And I am also taking this as a sign that my bosses have great faith in my abilities. On the downside: Fuck, I hope I get the hang of it fast otherwise, it could get really stressful.

Luckily, tomorrow is Steve's regular day off. So while I have all this work stuff swirling around my head, I will have one day reprieve in the daycare department. Tomorrow morning I only have to worry about getting myself bathed, dressed, fed and out the door on time. Come Tuesday though? The real fun starts.

Pray for me. Wish me luck. Send me good vibes... Whatever it is that you do, I could use as much of it as you've got to spare.

Gators Teeth Crushed: Week 14 Awards

I heard some guy on YouTube talking about the Texas-Nebraska as the 'most insane game' ever. He obviously didn't see the Cincinnati-Pitt game earlier in the day, or the Georgia Tech-Clemson game going on on another channel. It was a close game, but when we talk about 'insane games', we like to see the dissolution of defenses, mighty comebacks, and great finishes. The Texas game had one of them.

Games Of The Week

1. Oregon 37, Oregon State 33. A crazy game on an insane Thursday night in Autzen.
2. Georgia Tech 39, Clemson 34. The Ramblin' Wreck won the war, but the stand-out player was Clemson's CJ Spiller. The guy should be on the plane to New York next week.
3. Texas 13, Nebraska 12. Insane ending to an unlikely defensive war.
4. Cincinnati 45, Pittsburgh 44. Suddenly, Pittsburgh's not happy with its kicker.
5. Arizona 21, USC 17. Stunner at the Coliseum in front of around 60,000 people at best.

The Big Surprise Awards

1. The Texas game. Didn't think it would be this close.
2. The SEC game. Thought it would be closer
3. Arizona beats USC. USC finished the Pac-10 in a sterling SIXTH position. How the mighty fall.

Our Heisman Vote Now The Season's Over

1. Toby Gerhart (Stanford) - Took a program on his shoulders and won.
2. CJ Spiller (Clemson) - Brilliant week in, week out. Undeniably the best player in the ACC, and the best all-round threat in college football.
3. Mark Ingram (Alabama) - Second best running back in college football.
4. Colt McCoy (Texas) - Great this year - but better than 2008? Seriously?
5. Tim Tebow (Florida) - Ruined his Heisman chances with a dreadful Saturday performance. And yes, we are going to give Alabama's defense a lot of credit.

Cheerleaders of the Week

1. Florida
2. Oregon
3. Nebraska
4. Texas
5. Georgia Tech
6. Oregon State
7. Alabama
8. Clemson


Doofus of the Week.

This goes to our friend Daniel Margil, who lost to a girl in the Dr Pepper SEC half-time throwing the ball into a giant can conference. And he looked like a fool doing it too. We could only laugh. A lot.

Nebraska Whips Texas' Offensive, But Longhorns Win The War

"They whipped us", said Texas coach Mack Brown after Nebraska's defense ripped this Longhorns offensive a new one for four quarters of the Big XII Championship at the new Cowboys Stadium just outside Dallas.

Led by future NFL first rounder - and possible first pick - Ndamukong Suh, Colt McCoy & Co. couldn't deal with the different looks that the Huskers 'D' gave them, and in the end, Texas' offense looks as bad as, well, Nebraska's.

Earlier this week the VFA put out two predictions: the Alabama-Florida game would go down to a field goal, and the Texas-Nebraska game would be a laugher. We were wrong on both counts. Alabama whipped Florida, and Texas came down to a question of time.

With time draining off the clock, McCoy threw the ball to the sidelines. The clock fell to zero, signalling the end of the game. But thanks to replay, a second was put back on the clock - time enough for kicker Hunter Lawrence to scramble on and smash the winning field goal from 46 yards to take Texas to a likely BCS title match-up with the Rammer Jammers.

There were some good points for Texas. The defense was staunch all night. We realise that Nebraska have hardly lit the blue touch paper offensively, but this was an excellent Texas performance on the other side of the ball. The special teams didn't screw up when it mattered.

But the Texas Longhorns - during 2009 - has always prided itself on offense. And against a suffocating Alabama defense, are the 30,000 fans who go to Pasadena going to see a repeat of the 'Battle of JerryWorld'?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, You Won It, Alabama

Congratulations, Alabama.

After beating Florida 32-13 in the 'Game For the Ages' for 2009 - The SEC Championship - the University of Alabama is going to the National Title game.

Quite simply, Tim Tebow & Co. simply couldn't deal with a smothering Crimson Tide defense. Alabama put on a clinic.

The Gators and their rather lovely cheerleaders (hey, at least they won one match-up this weekend!) weren't just hurt by the injury to special teams speedster Brandon James or the idiotic decision by Carlos Dunlap to go drink-driving which meant a SEC Championship Game, but they were hurt by a running back called Mark Ingram, who absolutely owned the Gators today.

Ingram's attack and low center of gravity was impossibly to stop today, as he got behind the towering offense line and plunged through the middle. We knew that Florida had their faults after they struggled against Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina. They shouldn't have been No.1 after the first game of the season, when Alabama impressively rocked Virginia Tech's world while the rest of college football (apart from Boise and Oklahoma State), beat nobodies to start the year. Texas - or whoever they play in the title game - is going to be in for a world of pain facing Ingram or Roy Upchurch in the trenches.

Greg McElroy, the Alabama quarterback, didn't seem fussed, while Tim Tebow - or 'Superman' (as CBS' Verne Lundquist would love to call him) showed that he was going to fall while trying to fly to his third National Championship if four years. His interception at the end of the game summed up his day: one big letdown.

And just one more quick point: A guy from Florida also lost to a girl in the SEC Championship Game Dr Pepper Scholarship Giveaway, where the aim is to throw as many balls into a can in a period of 45 seconds. To you, Sarah Beth Hill, $123,000 towards medical school. To you, Daniel X from Florida Atlantic University, you lose your man card. You'll now be called Florence.

Wow! Cincinnati Wins a Track Meet at Pittsburgh

It's frankly not unusual that games involving a team from Pittsburgh should end up with a screwed up special teams play.

The hometown Pittsburgh Steelers have managed to lose not one but two games this season in overtime, and it was hardly surprising when at snowy Heinz Field, a botched extra point became the telling point in an enthralling Big East 'Championship' game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

A horrible mix-up at a snap while trying to convert the extra point with the score 44-38 Pittsburgh meant that Cincinnati only had to dance down the field - and with that offense, who was going to bet against that?

With 33 seconds on the clock of a breathtaking encounter, DJ Woods took in a bomb from Tony Pike with a diving catch in the end-zone to give Cincinnati - who came back from a 21 deficit earlier on in the game - a lead, and Jake Rogers kick (probably one of the nerviest extra point kicks you'll ever see in college football) made it 45-44.

Pittsburgh fans can't be downheartened. They have a running back who we think will rival Tony Dorsett as a future College Football Hall of Famer and Panther shirt retiree in Dion Lewis, who ravaged Cincy all year and will do the same to Big East defenses next season. They came from nowhere to 'something' this year, and Bill Wannstedt's team has put his team on the map in terms of a national reckoning - so much so that we think that Penn State would have struggled to contain them had to the two met up this year.

But the day belonged to Cincinnati and the brilliant Mardy Gilyard, who racked up 118 yard receiving and 256 kick-off return yards. We think that guy Gilyard will see some Pro time.

Let's hope he doesn't 'do a Michael Crabtree', eh?

Here's the winning moment:

Notre Dame decision not to go a bowl game: Good or Bad?

Notre Dame's decision not to go to a bowl game with a 6-6 record because of the "unique circumstances" following the end to the Irish's somewhat heartbreaking season in which they could quite easily have either run the table or ended up 3-9 stunned the world of college football.

Well, it probably didn't stun the world of college football, but it stunned me.

So here we go: Good or Bad Decision?

Bad

The Irish's second straight postseason appearance after the win against Hawaii would have been a good swansong for Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate, and could quite easily have shown the world that Notre Dame Football hadn't given up on the essentials (ie playing football in front of thousands of adoring fans that probably couldn't get to South Bend or any of the 'away games').

The Irish would have recouped some of the cash from a very expensive severance pay agreement with Charlie Weis, and possibly won over more fans to come and watch them.

Not only that, but winning the game would have been a wonderful answer to the critics and a great way to overcome the horrors of November/December.

GOOD

The Irish's decision not to go to a bowl game was probably not a bad model to mediocre 6-6 teams that suddenly felt they were "bowl eligible" despite inconsistent seasons. A loss, and a 6-7 year, would have made everyone - including a possible incoming coach - feel "down on the program", and would have made hiring and recruiting more difficult.

And there's also the matter of money. While we understand that Notre Dame don't need the cash, spending an extra $100,000 odd for a 'football vacation' when you've just had to pay out well over $10m to your departed coach probably wouldn't go down to the well with the people in charge of the capital. No bowl game would have gained you an extra $10.1m - regardless of which game you played in.

Not only that, but the decision to not go draws a line under a miserable season and says the world that Irish football is rebuilding for the better.

What are your thoughts?

Here's a memory of the Irish's last BCS game. Turn away now, Irish fans...



Blogging Now...

Well now that that little bit of information is out in the open, I think it might be easier to blog. I find it very hard to blog in the first trimester as it is - because I feel yucky and my head isn't in the space that it would otherwise be, and also because it's supposed to be kept a big secret and I'm not very good at keeping secrets about myself so it's hard to talk about anything without spilling the beans.

And about this blog... I had tried really hard to not make this a Mommy blog. There's so many Mommy blogs out there and I just wanted to keep this one from turning into one of them. I still plan on trying to avoid that, but since I am going to have two children 18 months apart, I'm thinking it might be hard to not blog about the life that I have now.

I mean, some of the things I used to blog about just aren't happening anymore. I mean, about running my jeep into some total creepy, asshole, aggressive driver? Well, it's probably not going to happen with 2 kids in the car... And while I do still intend on having a cocktail or two now and then, I probably won't have the time to slink around the pubs at all hours of the day/night anymore, conjuring up conversations with men dressed as Paris Hilton, or women who are missing their front teeth, yet snap at Steve for burping, or crazy broads who randomly walk up to me and give me a raspberry on my neck.

I will still desperately try to keep my edge - because if I lose my edge, you might as well just pad these walls and throw away the key - and I promise not to blog about pooey diapers and snotty noses.

So we'll see where we go from here...

And Oregon Smells Roses.....

If the Rose Bowl is half as good as the Pac-10 qualifier was, then we're in for a treat when Ohio State and Oregon get it on in early January next year.

It's strange, because Oregon State fans will probably be feeling a little annoyed about losing the game. The Beavers had three opportunities in the Ducks' 20 to score, and three times they blew it and only score nine points out of a possible 27. Ouch.

Oregon State will also be annoyed at their team's lack of ability to deal with the deafening noise that was Autzen Stadium. We lost count of false start penalties. Hadn't some of these guys played in the 2007 Civil War?

But before we completely deride Oregon State, let's give the Ducks some love. We all know about their lovely cheerleaders (in our view woefully ignored by the ESPN Cameras on Thursday night), but the football's not bad either. LaMichael James is one of the Pac-10's better running backs. Jeremiah Masoli- who probably didn't have his best game in his life - wasn't fantastic, but with the running backs on offer, he didn't have to be.

The game was also about redemption. After LaGarrette's infamous antics at the start of the year, it was nice to see him come back for a few drives, and punish the Beavers 'D' on the inside. He scored a touchdown. He blocked (pretty) well. And he'll could be a pain in the butt against the Buckeyes.

But the redemption was also for the Ducks themselves, who were so awful against Boise - and then against Stanford later in the year - that we were maybe asking themselves if this schizophrenic team could get its act together in a game that really counted.

But Masoli & Co answered. And now Buckeyes' fans will be hoping that they don't get it together for a second game in a row.


A Big, Big Weekend: Week 14 Predictions

It's Week 14 of the college football season, and it seems that it was only yesterday that we were talking about 'heatwaves', long summer nights, and the prospects of an unbeaten Texas, Florida and Alabama all duking it out for the National Championship on the last day of the regular season.

Well, the heatwave and long summer night talk's gone, anyway. Texas, Florida and Alabama will find out their destiny on Saturday night, and it's been an interesting, if not particularly wonderful, season for us all.

So here we go...We'll go with a one word title for the match-ups.

UNCIVIL: Oregon State vs Oregon

Oregon and Oregon State match up on Thursday night in what will be a game for the ages. One of the best running backs in the Pac-10 (Jacquizz Rodgers)? Check. Loud Stadium? Check. Wonderful Oregon cheerleaders? Check. Great, mobile quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli)? Check. Pot-smoking hippies? Check. The winner goes to the Rose Bowl? Check.

Prediction: Quack! Quack! Duck beats Beaver, and Phil Knight's hippies are happy with a seven point victory.

PRAYER: Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh

Cincinnati needs Texas and Florida/Alabama to royally screw up if they've got a hope of making the National Title game. Oh, and they also have to stop Deon Lewis, Pittsburgh's running back, in front of a crowd that will absolutely hate them (it's a Pennsylvania vs Ohio thing).

Prediction: Cincy wins.....but will it be able to turn up to the last dance?

WOODSHED: New Mexico State vs Boise State

If there's any team we think will truly get taken behind the woodshed this weekend, it's New Mexico State. Boise State aren't going to just win, they are going to win huuuuuge. But it won't matter. If they are lucky, they get a BCS game. If they aren't they get royally screwed. Don't you love playoff-less football?

Prediction: Boise by 41 (and then some).

BEAUTIFUL: Arizona vs USC

Although the football has been less-than-sexy this season from both sides, it's tough to say the same about either the cheerleaders or the co-eds. God Bless You, ESPN.

Prediction: Thanks to the fact I'm not there, I'll be watching some of the game. Otherwise, I'd have neckache. USC by 14

IRRELEVANT: Cal at Washington

Both sides could have been relevant and contenders this season - especially after their fast starts (Cal were unbeaten until Oregon, Washington beat USC and got ranked), but they blew it, and now they are as irrelevant for the season, as well, Notre Dame.

Predicition: Washington wins.

FINGER: Wisconsin vs Hawaii

How would you feel if your friend on the Badgers football team said: "Hey, see you on Monday. I'm going to Hawaii for a football game." You'd be pissed, and probably give him the one-fingered salute as he left for the airport while you freeze your butt off. Students at the University of Hawaii are exceptionally lucky kids - which is why I won't be sending any of mine there!

Prediction: Wisconsin scrape by, winning by 10.

FUN: Georgia Tech vs Clemson

The ACC has been this season's funnest conference by far in terms of unpredictability and close games, and it works out that the winners of this crapshoot were Georgia Tech and Clemson. Sadly, there's no form to either team - they both lost last week in rivalry games. If Josh Nesbitt's injured, then Clemson has the upper hand - but this game's going to be like the conference this year: madness.

Prediction: Georgia Tech wins on a last game drive. You heard it here first.

LAUGHER: Texas vs Nebraska

People have been too nice about Nebraska this week. We know that the defense is getting close to being one of the top ones in the nation, but the Huskers' losses have been horrible. Iowa State, anyone? Texas is the nation's form team, and we can't think of anything but a double-digit victory (and an invite to the National Championship) for the Longhorns.

Prediction: Texas by 21.

DESTINY: Florida vs Alabama

We'll make this abundantly clear. There hasn't been a game this big since the National Championship Game between Texas and USC in 2006. This game is bigger than Tiger Woods' alleged flings, the draw for the 2010 World Cup, and quite possibly the Second Coming. Actually, we wrong: the Second Coming will actually happen when Tebow returns to Atlanta (we couldn't resist!).
Half of us thinks that Florida will win, because of their speed, and half of us thinks that Alabama wins because of THAT defense. It's going to go to the wire.

Prediction: Florida by a field goal in a game for the ages.

Speaking of the ages....this is one of the best songs.....ever

Better Late Than Never: Week 13 Awards

Sorry we're late this week. After getting tied up with writing pseudo obituaries for Charlie Weis and Bobby Bowden's careers at Notre Dame and Florida State, as well as giving Al Groh the British "two fingers", we thought we could rest.

But then we remembered our Week 13 Awards for 'rivalry week'.

Games of the Week

1. LSU 33, Arkansas 30: Redemption lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after getting the clock right and hitting the tying field goal, and eventually winning out in OT.
2. Alabama 26, Auburn 21: Can we get our breath back? Please?
3. Stanford 45, Notre Dame 38: Charlie Weis' game was a fun one. Mind you, haven't most of Charlie Weis' games at Notre Dame.
4. BYU 26, Utah 23: The 'Utah Classic' had the boys in Salt Lake City happy, anyway.
5. Texas 49, Texas A&M 39: A&M never gave up.

Now You've Got Your Pink Slip Award (in order-ish)

1. Steve Kragthorpe (Louisville). Just. Not. Good. Enough.
2. Al Groh (Virginia). Throw a massive party in the frat houses - Groh's gone!!
3. Charlie Weis. Hey Fat Charlie the Archangel - Notre Dame just filed for divorce (Name the song!).
4. Bobby Bowden. Thanks for the years, Bobby.

Early Pink Slip Favorites for 2010

1. Mark Mangino (Kansas): If he stays in 2010
2. Rich Rodriguez (Michigan): If the collapse is three years in a row, RichRod's out.
3. Mark Richt (Georgia): The locals are getting tetchy
4. Jimbo Fisher (FSU): I wish I was joking
5. Dan Hawkins (Colorado): He got one more year. Goodbye in 2010, Dan!
6. [Add coach's name here] (Notre Dame): No pressure is like Irish pressure.

Big Surprises in Week 13 (although there are no surprises in rivalry games, apparently)

1. Georgia beats Georgia Tech 30-23. Didn't think the 'Dogs had a prayer. Helped with Nesbitt's injury, though.
2. Mississippi State blows out Ole Miss: Cue hot band/cheerleader girls.
3. Missouri 41, Kansas 39: How did that happen again?
4. The way Arizona beat Arizona State: Special teams, Devils, special teams!!
5. How woeful Florida State were at Florida. We expected better.

He Should Get The Heisman Award

1. Toby Gerhardt (Stanford)- a team was on his shoulders for the whole season. He answered.
2. Colt McCoy (Texas) - Great quarterback, but the defense and....
3. Jordan Shipley (Texas) made this team.
4. Mark Ingram (Auburn). Was a No.1 pick right until his poor outing at Auburn
5. Tim Tebow (Florida). Coach Tebow's speech to UF players of 2028: "No-one will see us lose in 2028. I promise you!"

Early Heisman 2010 Awards

1. AJ Green (Georgia): Quite simply, the best wide receiver in college football
2. Michael Floyd (Notre Dame): He's quite good too!
3. Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State): Piles up the yards like nobody's business - and yet woefully ignored.
4. Matt Barkley (USC): Watch the improvement from Year 1 to Year 2.
5. Tate Forcier (Michigan): He's already the player of the year at Ohio State, so why not get an award for his own team?

Games we're looking forward to in Week 14

1. Florida vs Alabama (SEC Championship Game): Biggest. Game. Of. Season.
2.Oregon State vs Oregon: Civil War by name, Civil War by its on-the-field nature. Oh, and the winner goes to the Rose Bowl. So no pressure then.
3. Georgia Tech vs Clemson (ACC Championship Game): It was a great game earlier on in the year, and the repeat shouldn't be bad either.
4. Texas vs Nebraska (Big XII Title Game): So who thinks we'll see Colt McCoy in the fourth quarter? Anybody?
5. Arizona vs USC. Cheerleaders people, cheerleaders. The co-eds aren't bad either.

Now, back to Florida vs Alabama. This is what happened in 2008. We can't wait for more of the same.

Bobby Bowden: Goodbye, Class Act

I don't know a lot about the history of Florida State football, but I know this: Florida State will forever be associated with Bobby Bowden.

And while I don't want to be a downer on Doak Campbell, if FSU's stadium isn't re-named 'Bobby Bowden Stadium' (shorted to 'The Bowd' or 'The Bob' by ESPN and then 'The Bow' and then 'The B'), it'll be a crime against college football if it doesn't happen.

Why? Because in Seminole country, Bobby Bowden had a legacy that stretches beyond football to the classrooms. How many kids went to Florida State because they loved watching winning football? How many kids went to Florida State because of the chance of seeing a legend on the sideline or speak at one of FSU's Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings? How many people fought to keep Bowden almost as much as those who fought to kick him out?

Bobby Bowden was more than a decent man. He was an icon. He was a champion of his faith, he was a champion of longevity at one school, and more's the case, he was a darned good football coach

He turned around a program that was nothing and it became something. He went to 27 straight bowls. Heck, Joe Paterno might have the Division I wins record, but Bobby Bowden and 27 straight bowl appearances? That's pretty impressive by anyone's standards. And you know that? Joe Paterno didn't manage that.

Paterno said in a statement: "Bobby has been a tough competitor. He has meant an awful lot to the universities he coached and to the game of football overall. He and his wife, Ann, have dedicated their lives with untold hours to better the teams and universities they cared so much about. They will be missed by the coaching profession and college football. Sue [Paterno's wife] and I wish them well."

If you want "tough competitor", then check out the 2006 Orange Bowl between Penn State and Florida State. The game was won in three overtimes in a battle for the ages. And both coaches - friends to the end - hugged it out after the game.

If it's a class act you want in college football, I dare you to look somewhere else other than Bobby Bowden.

"Faith is the most important thing in the world to me," Bowden said (reported by ESPN). "It's the greatest strength I've had. It's helped me get through the hard times. You're not going to win every one of your football games. I've always said I'm not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left. I've never made football my priority. My priorities are my faith and my dependence on God."

Some of you might scoff at that statement, thinking that the only person who would say such a thing would be Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy. But Bowden was a captain of faith as much as he was a captain of football, and that's a good thing.

I could sit here and try and darken Bobby Bowden's past by pointing out the failings of the 2009 team, the off-the-field problems in the past years, and the cheating scandal that lost both Bowden and the school a bunch of credibility (although - and it's a person opinion here - I don't think Bowden was involved), you know what? I'll shut up.

Sadly, it wasn't a surprise when Florida State asked Bowden to retire. We don't know if Bowden walked or he asked to stand down. We know this: the kings of Seminole were fed up with looking stupid, and certainly weren't happy about being the State of Florida's third team this year in the face of possible National Champion Florida and a re-ignited Miami team. The defense was an embarrassment this year. Ultimately, Bowden and his long-time defensive co-ordinator and assistant Mickey Andrews paid the price for the shocking lack of tackling ability.

Bobby Bowden, you're a class act and thank you for the years.

We only wish we could have 'said goodbye' on a higher note than the 2009 season.

Here's a couple of highlights - from the two National Titles FSU won after Bowden:

National Title 1



National Title 2