Monday, January 15, 2007

The Pinata that Keeps On Belching Caramels

Our old friend HeismanPundit didn't like this post and was considerate enough to attempt to defend himself in the comment section against my claim that he'll claim victory for his offensivescheme-o-centric view of football, regardless of pesky things like facts and numbers.

Here's the part where I pretend to have really thick skin...and hope that you're unaware that I obsessively defend myself on my site from all manner of offended SEC fans, rational and otherwise:

I rarely comment on anyone's blog anymore as I usually can care less what people say. But Google Alerts brought me to this little love-fest so I will play a little ball.

Mentioning that Florida gave up 82 yards when talking about the BCS title game would be appropriate if one were trying to be a Master of the Obvious. The great things about blogs is that you can skip over all the stuff that average people are talking about and sort through and find something that not everyone is talking about. So, left it to types like you to talk about defense. Have at it. Maybe one day you can be an analyst with [sic] Emmit Smith and talk about how the key to the game is to 'Stop the Run'. Brilliant.

Only "average people" think that the Florida defense allowing 82 yards against the Heisman trophy winner and an offense that had just put up 42 points on the #1 ranked defense in college football is noteworthy. Similar average people thought that the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor was the big news on December 7, 1941, but an intrepid analyst like HeismanPundit surely would have found a more obscure, but just as important news item on that day so he wouldn't have been one of the "average people."

To be serious for a moment, HP is right that the blogosphere is supposed to provide content that a reader won't find elsewhere, but that doesn't mean we all have to be idiots by ignoring what was patently obvious to anyone watching the game. There's plenty of room to be interesting by explaining why Florida was so successful on defense against Ohio State. Instead, HP continues to act as if defense is not worth discussing (except to point out that defenses are befuddled by whatever offense he has proclaimed to be cutting edge on a given day) and chose to be interesting by lauding himself, despite the evidence to the contrary. I'd argue that a pundit pleasuring himself online isn't especially interesting, but that's just me.

But yes, I did want to extol Florida's offensive scheme. Because if you actually watched the game, you would notice that it was pretty much unstoppable against an elite defense. As I've mentioned countless times, familiarity with scheme and personnel is important in college football, which is why Ohio State had more trouble with an offense than Kentucky did. Same thing happened in 2004, when Pac-10 teams were far more successful in stopping Norm Chow's offense than Oklahoma was. Stanford lost by 3 points to USC in 2004 and Oklahoma lost by 36. So unless you are implying that Kentucky is better than Ohio State on defense, take your comparative scoring and stick it.

1. There are lots of offenses that can be "pretty much unstoppable" when they start most of their drives in their opponent's territory, but that would require acknowledgment of defense and special teams actually playing a role in determining the outcome of a football game.

2. OK, so Ohio State had 51 days to prepare for Florida and they are not familiar with Florida's scheme, so they couldn't stop it, but Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and the rest of the SEC were all able to stop Florida's offense with seven days to prepare because they had seen it in 2005. That makes perfect sense. I'm sure that Florida fans will be comforted that their offense will achieve average results in the SEC because opponents are familiar with it, but in years that they don't have a dominant defense like they did this year, they'll kick ass in the Outback Bowl.

I will grant that you are not totally irresponsible, which is why you cover your bases with a parenthetical sop to my point which allows you to agree with me while not agreeing. Very bold of you.

But you ask the question: Doesn't that imply that offenses are more sophisticated in the SEC? That answer to that is, some of them are, some of them aren't. As I wrote in 2005, Meyer's and Spurrier's addition to the SEC was going to change the league for the better and we have seen that. There is far more offensive creativity going on now than there was a few years ago. It's not even close. The result is that the league is better. As for Ohio State's scheme problem, I did mention that Florida's defense had no problem with its mundane scheme. But I laugh when you say that Ohio State's problem was their defensive approach. No shit. They didn't understand how to defense that offense, which is what I have been telling you.

I don't think there's going to be much disagreement on the point that Ohio State did not know how to defend Florida offense. The question is whether that's because: (1) the offense is impossible to stop because Urban Meyer is a card-carrying member of the Gang of Six, complete with secret handshake and laminated certificate suitable for framing; or (2) Ohio State ignored what had worked for every defense in the SEC - pressure aplenty - and then gave Florida outstanding field position by getting whipped on offense and special teams. I'm leaning towards explanation number two, possibly because Ohio State allowed Florida to score 41 points and the Gators averaged 22 points per game in SEC play. I may not be Columbo or Norman Einstein, but that seems to be evidence that Florida's scheme can be stopped and that their offensive output against Ohio State represented a confluence of factors that might be difficult to repeat.

On to more, including your classy use of the word fellatio.

I was really, really upset that HP promised to discuss my use of "fellatio" and then blew it. I was also touched that he took the time to complain about me not being "classy" by using a word that so aptly describes his post-title game post and then referring to me as a moron a few paragraphs later.

1. Yeah, I put Notre Dame in the group. So I was wrong. So what? What does that have to do with the BCS title game? And naturally you miss the whole point of the Gang which is primarily based on scheme and HOW offenses work and not on HOW many yards and points are produced. If yards and points were the point, then Hawaii would be in that group.

I'm confused. HP proclaimed Notre Dame to be in the Gang before this season because of the way they scored points last year. This year, every defense with a pulse, save one, shut them down. Did they forget how to score points? Did they try to score in different ways this year? I have this image of HeismanPundit in a grey Nehru jacket pressing the "Charlie Weis" button after shouting "this organization does not tolerate 14 points against backwards SEC defenses!" as Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino look on in horror.

Anyway, the major point here is that HeismanPundit was being a tad bit dishonest (or as we like to say here about Ivan Maisel, he was acting as a Soviet Historian) by referring to the Gang of Six when he shaved the list from six to four before the season and hoped that no one would remember that 25% of the list was a big fat fizzle offensively this year.

And speaking of the HeismanPundit memory hole, his u-turn on USC is hilarious, given that he swore up and down last year that USC was winning because of scheme and not because their offense was packed with top shelf NFL talent. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were brilliant innovators when calling plays for Bush and Leinart and they were a pimple on the ass of the Pac Ten this year when calling plays for Booty and Gable.

2. You don't think scheme is important to Boise's success. If you don't think it is, then you are a goddamn moron. A moron. Why do you think they beat Oklahoma, because of all that talent on offense? For your information, Chris Pederson was Dan Hawkins' offensive coordinator, so the scheme didn't change at all when Hawkins left. Koetter did not run the same stuff that Pederson does and he was never as successful as Hawkins, so there are plenty of reasons why he didnt succeed at ASU. As for Hawkins, he took over a program in shambles, though as it turned out, one of his more successful games offensively was an outing against Georgia. What do ya know?

Scheme obviously has something to do with Boise State's success, but is it not odd that Boise has now sent two coaches to major conferences and neither coach has come close to replicating his offensive success in the WAC? Doesn't that imply that Boise's scheme isn't that revolutionary since it can't be replicated? Doesn't that imply that Boise does have good talent? Or that they have some sort of Nebraska in the 90s voodoo factor going on that allows them to amass huge offensive totals using a scheme that can't be replicated elsewhere?

And as for the gratuitous dig at Georgia, Colorado scored 13 points against the Dawgs, which is below average for their season, where they ranked 107th in 1-A despite having a coach who was in the Gang of Six in 2005 and down the memory hole in 2006. Colorado gained 313 yards against Georgia, which is slightly above their average for the season, where they ranked 102nd in 1-A. In sum, Colorado gained about 20 more yards than their normal, atrocious numbers against UGA and scored less than normal. Still think that was one of his more successful games offensively? Facts and numbers are bothersome for those of us still encumbered by the old math of yards and points when we could be enlightened like HeismanPundit and marvel at throws to tight ends.

3. Look man. Parse the stats all you want. Cal had a very good offense this year. They are CAL for crying out loud, with no winning tradition and not a whole lot of talent. Yet they just had their second 10 win season in three years. Guess what? That wasn't happening before Tedford came in and put in his offense.

This running back, who is likely to be the second running back taken in April's Draft, is not talented:

And this guy, the MVP of the Army All-Star Game and a likely pre-season All American on just about every list can't get out of bed in the morning without tripping over his own feet:

For the record, I like Cal's offensive scheme a lot and would be overjoyed if Jeff Tedford replaced Lloyd Carr in the event that Michigan commits the heretical acts of doing a national search and then paying the market rate for a coach in demand when Lloyd retires. Oregon's floundering since Tedford went to Cal demonstrates who the brains of the operation were when the Ducks were so good at the beginning of the decade. That said, they do tend to struggle against talented opponents, which indicates that scheme has trouble when it can't block.

Obligatory reference to the Tennessee-Cal game in 3, 2, 1...

As for your last note, your stats are skewed heavily by a few things. First, Florida scored 41.

I left Florida out of the numbers. Forgive HeismanPundit for being confused by this totally ambiguous statement: "SEC teams other than Florida, the ones that HP derides as having neanderthal offenses and defenses that are overrated because they play against bad offenses, averaged 27 points per game in their bowl games."

I should ask you why it was that the team with the offense tagged as the most advanced in the SEC by HP managed to score 41 on the No. 1 scoring defense in the land.

Gee, I think we might have covered this when we noted the roles of field position and Ohio State's curious decision not to employ "gameplanning" and "using what worked against Florida all year."

Second, LSU scored 41 on a horrible Notre Dame defense.

This from the seer who ranked Notre Dame #1 before the year and referred to their defense as "unfairly maligned." Damn you, pesky archived post!

After that, you had South Carolina scoring 44. Fine, Spurrier has a great scheme and I never said he didn't.

Given my mancrush on Steve Spurrier, it pains me to note that the Cocks were 6th in the SEC in scoring offense this year. But HP and I agree on Spurrier's merit, so let's all sing Kumbaya and pass the s'mores.

Kentucky managed 28, but then they are coached by Rich Brooks, formerly of Oregon and the NFL. So, they know a thing or two about offense.

Right, Rich Brooks, a defensive coach, is responsible for Kentucky's offensive success. And I seem to recall referencing Brooks' Pac Ten roots when Kentucky sucked and couldn't move the ball and not hearing a peep from HeismanPundit, but I can't find a link to support that point, so I'm not going to press it.

So as you can see, I acknowledge that not all SEC offenses are neanderthal. Just a lot of them. And it is changing for the better, as I pointed out two years ago. Better you should ask why the speedy rosters of Arkansas and Tennessee managed to score 14 and 10 against the slow Big Ten.

Congrats, out of nine SEC bowl teams, HeismanPundit found the two that didn't score many points. While we're discussing intellectual dishonesty, did anyone catch the teams that HP failed to mention? Georgia, whose offense he routinely mocks, and Alabama, whose offense just about everyone mocks. Bama scored 31 in their bowl game, which is roughly double their average from SEC games. Georgia scored 31 in their bowl game against the team that came into the bowls #1 in the country in both total defense and scoring defense.

Oh, and did you notice that Illinois only gave up 17 to Ohio State. So that means that Florida's defense is only three points better than Ron Zook's.

This argument is so bad, I don't even know where to begin. I've cited the fact that Florida scored 22 points per game in its eight regular season SEC game and never came close to 41 points. HP comes back with Ohio State's one bad offensive performance of the year, and better yet, is apropos of absolutely nothing.

As for 2008, I don't have to say anything.

You should have stopped here.

I told you guys two years ago that Florida, with its talent and its scheme, would be the next great power in college football. In 2008, you will see all that come to fruition as the personnel will be perfect for the scheme and they will run roughshod over teams.

Gee, and I remember saying after Ron Zook was fired that the Florida job was possibly the best job opening ever because of the combination of the natural advantages of the school, the talent being left by the predecessor, and the affection that Florida fans would feel for any coach that didn't defend his players by getting into fights with frat boys. If Florida dominates in the future, HP is not going to prove anything, except that Bear Bryant was right when he said that Florida was a sleeping giant that could dominate with the right coaches.

It must suck that you spent all that energy last year opposing my idea that Florida was going to be so good because of Meyer. Who was right? And who was merely mad because they didn't want to see Florida succeed for petty reasons?

I didn't disagree. I have always thought that Meyer was a good coach. He recruits well, he's hired excellent assistants on both sides of the ball, he keeps his players motivated, and he has an interesting offensive scheme that hasn't worked so far, but might look better with Tim Tebow running the show. I did spend energy arguing that Florida wasn't going to be great this year because of their losses on the offensive line and the Gators did a terrific job of proving me wrong by turning an inexperienced bunch into an effective unit. But see, the difference is that I acknowledged my bad prediction as soon as Florida won the national title. If I were HeismanPundit, I would have hoped that no one knows how to use that "older posts" link and claimed victory...and pretended that a defense allowing 6 yards of total offense to the Heisman winner was not the big story in a national title game.


Anonymous said...

Heh. You got HP to write "fellatio".

That's almost as funny as his insistence that Meyer deliberately held his offense back in SEC games because he knew he wouldn't need to score many points to win.

peacedog said...

When you take on HP, it makes my pants tight.

Anonymous said...

Ownage that can only be compared to the ownage recieved by Mike Cooper

Anonymous said...

This is the futile pissing contest that never stops giving.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Mark Richt will ever bring UGA into the promised land of "Gang of Six" status?

Trey said...

Florida won't finish higher than third in the SEC East next season.

You heard it here first, ladies.

Anonymous said...

My personal favorite is HP's horrible understanding of the English language.

"I rarely comment on anyone's blog anymore as I usually can care less what people say."

You CAN'T care less, HP. If you could care less, you would. It helps if you're going to call someone out to use proper grammar, HP.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

The first post was terrific, but this follow-up was so good I may need a cigarette.

HeIsManpundit has already worked his way up from #32 to the high teens on next year's 50 Most Loathsome list.

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