And the Winner is….

The winner of this year’s Bowl Game Pick ‘Em Challenge is none other than my dear friend CountryWe won’t speak about how I did in the standings.

Those of you who have read some of Country’s exploits will no doubt already know why I love her.  (I’ve often referred to her as the big-breasted younger sister I never had.)  This is the woman who set me up on a blind date for her wedding with the infamous and amazing Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress (who, incidentally, still won’t let me write about her).

But now, knowing that she is also the master of all football knowledge in the universe, how can you not think she’s the perfect woman?  I may hire her as a consultant for my fantasy football team next year.

Sorry guys: alas, she is already married, and to a man that can kick most of your asses.  So you’ll just have to dream of being so lucky.  But don’t worry, I’ll give you just a hint of her beauty to set your fantasies off.  (I had to scour through my old MySpace account to find this pic, so you fuckers better be grateful!)

Last Day to Join the Bowl Pick ‘Em Challenge

First game kicks off at 2pm Eastern tomorrow.  Here’s the link.  Come on, you know you want to…

And on a personal note, I have a new nemesis.  Someone decided to challenge my supremacy by signing up for the challenge under the name “Single Brown Alcoholic.”  Well guess what buddy?  Now it’s a race war!

(I’m only kidding.  SBA is actually the infamous Blackout that’s made so many of my stories.  But I’m still gonna kick his ass!)

Special thanks to Tempe12.com for their outrageously hot pics.  If I ever have a son he’s going to be a Sun Devil!

The SWASS Bowl Pick ‘Em Challenge

I love college football.  And although it’s been a little tough to watch this year (I don’t know what’s worse, the Sandusky scandal or the proliferation of the spread offense), I am still a fanatic.  And I love bowl games.  I know they’re not an ideal system, but rather than whine and moan about how much better a playoff would be, I prefer to just love the bowls the way they are.  Think of them like your not-quite-all-there child, your love has to be unconditional.

But I have a problem with most bowl pools.  Basically, all pick ’em leagues fall into one of two categories: Either all games are weighted the same –so that big FIU-Marshall matchup is worth the same as the National Championship– or you pick your “confidence” and self-rate the importance of the bowls –so you can actually make the National Championship the least important game.

So, after spending the better part of a week scouring the internet high and low, I finally found a site that would allow me to customize my own scoring system.  For the curious, here’s how I broke it down:

-Each unranked non-AQ (automatic qualifier) is worth 1 point.

-Each unranked AQ team is worth 2 points. (Notre Dame counts as an AQ, BYU does not.  Fuck BYU.)

-Each top 25 team is worth 3 points.

-Each top 10 team is worth 4 points.

-Each top 2 team is worth 5 points.

-And just for good measure, the five BCS bowls get a one point bonus.

The link to the pool is here.  What’s at stake?  Well, as you might already know, I actually work for an NCAA athletic department, so it would be illegal for me to be involved in any sort of sports wagering (that’s why I would never ever play fantasy football, or hockey, or basketball…).  But I will honor the winner by lauding them copiously on this here blog, meaning you will be an overnight celebrity to literally dozens of people.  What more could you ask for?

Ok, here we go.  Below I’ve put a list of the bowls along with some useful information like records, locations and point spreads.  And, of course, a little inspiration to help you make your picks!  (*Note: Hottness of co-eds should not be used as a factor in making your picks!*

December 17th

Wyoming

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

Albuquerque, NM 2:00 PM

Spread: Temple -6.5

2 POINTS

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)

Boise, ID 5:30PM

Spread: USU -3.5

2 POINTS

San Diego State

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

New Orlenas, LA 9:00 PM

Spread: SDSU -5.5

2 POINTS

December 20th

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg

Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)

St. Petersburg, FL 8:00 PM

Spread: FIU -4.5

2 POINTS

December 21st

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

#18 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)

San Diego, CA 8:00 PM

Spread: TCU -11

4 POINTS

Arizona State

December 22nd

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Arizona State (6-6) vs. #7 Boise State (11-1)

Las Vegas, NV 8:00 PM

Spread: Boise -14

6 POINTS

Did I mention Arizona State???

Southern Miss

December 24th

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Nevada (7-5) vs. #21 Southern Miss (11-2)

Honolulu, HI 8:00 PM

Spread:  USM -6

4 POINTS

December 26th

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)

Shreveport, LA 5:00 PM

Spread: Missouri -3.5

4 POINTS

December 27th

Little Caesars Bowl

Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)

Detroit, MI 4:30 PM

Spread: Purdue -2.5

3 POINTS

North Carolina State

Belk Bowl

Lousiville (7-5) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)

Charlotte, NC 8:00 PM

Spread: NCSU -1.5

4 POINTS

December 28th

Military Bowl Pres. By Northrup Grumman

Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)

Washington, DC 4:30 PM

Spread: Toledo -3

2 POINTS

Texas

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

California (7-5) vs. #24 Texas (7-5)

San Diego, CA 8:00 PM

Spread: Texas -3.5

5 POINTS

December 29th

Champs Sports Bowl

Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

Orlando, FL  5:30 PM

Spread: FSU -3

4 POINTS

Florida State

That's right, Florida Fucking State!

Valero Alamo Bowl

Washington (7-5) vs. #12 Baylor (9-3)

San Antonio, TX 9:00 PM

Spread: Baylor -9

5 POINTS

December 30th

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)

Ft. Worth, TX 12:00 PM

Spread: BYU -3

2 POINTS

Iowa State

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

Bronx, NY 3:20 PM

Spread: Rutgers -2

4 POINTS

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)

Nashville, TN 6:40 PM

Spread: MSU -6.5

4 POINTS

Oklahoma

Insight Bowl

Iowa (7-5) vs. #14 Oklahoma (9-3)

Tempe, AZ 10:00 PM

Spread: OK -14.5

5 POINTS

December 31st

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

Houston, TX 12:00 PM

Spread: A&M -11

4 POINTS

Texas A&M (Just for my friend LC Aggie Sith)

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)

El Paso, TX 2:00 PM

Spead: GT -3

4 POINTS

UCLA

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)

San Francisco, CA 3:30 PM

Spread: IL -3

4 POINTS

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

Memphis, TN 3:30 PM

Spread: Vandy -3

4 POINTS

Chick-fil-A Bowl

Virginia (8-4) vs. #25 Auburn (7-5)

Atlanta, GA 7:30 PM

Spread: Auburn -1

5 POINTS

January 2nd

TicketCity Bowl

#19 Houston (12-1) vs. #22 Penn State (9-3)

Dallas, TX 12:00 PM

Spread: UH -6

6 POINTS

Nebraska

Capital One Bowl

#20 Nebraska (9-3) vs. #9 South Carolina (10-2)

Orlando, FL 1:00 PM

Spread: SCar -1

7 POINTS

Outback Bowl

#17 Michigan State (10-3) vs. #16 Georgia (10-3)

Tampa, FL 1:00 PM

Spread: UGA -3.5

6 POINTS

Michigan State

Ohio State

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl

Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)

Jacksonville, FL 1:00 PM

Spread: FL -2

4 POINTS

Florida

Oregon

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio

#10 Wisconsin (11-2) vs. #5 Oregon (11-2)

Pasadena, CA 5:00 PM

Spread: Oregon -6.5

9 POINTS

Wisconsin (look at the beer bong technique!)

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

#4 Stanford (11-1) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (11-1)

Glendale, AZ 8:30 PM

Spread: OSU -3.5

9 POINTS

Oklahoma State

Michigan

Allstate Sugar Bowl

#13 Michigan (10-2) vs. #11 Virginia Tech (11-2)

New Orleans, LA 8:30 PM

Spread: Mich -1.5

7 POINTS

January 4th

Discover Orange Bowl

#23 West Virginia (9-3) vs. #15 Clemson (10-3)

Miami, FL 8:30 PM

Spread: Clem -3

7 POINTS

West Virginia

Arkansas

January 6th

AT&T Cotton Bowl

#8 Kansas State (10-2) vs. #6 Arkansas (10-2)

Arlington, TX 8:00 PM

Spread: Ark -7.5

8 POINTS

January 7th

BBVA Compass Bowl

SMU (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

Birmingham, AL 1:00 PM

Spread: Pitt -5.5

3 POINTS

January 8th

GoDaddy.com Bowl

Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)

Mobile, AL 9:00 PM

Spread: ASU -1

2 POINTS

LSU

January 9th

Allstate BCS National Championship

#2 Alabama (11-1) vs. #1 LSU (13-0)

New Orleans, LA 8:30 PM

Spread: LSU -0.5

11 POINTS

Alabama

Once again, here’s the link to the pool.  Good luck!

Labor Day Weekend

Normally on the big holidays I like to write a little about the true meaning of that day and encourage people to take just a moment or two to remember that holidays are not just a day off from work but are meant to honor someone who did something great for our nation.

But this is Labor Day Weekend.  And Labor Day doesn’t honor any heroes.  It’s not a time to remember fallen soldiers or anyone else who did anything of note.  Nope, Labor Day is a day off to honor every Joe and Jill Schmoe that works for a living.  And while that’s becoming more and more of a rare concept in this land of ours (where 1 in 7 people are on food stamps and nearly half the population gets more money from the federal government than they ever pay in taxes), I still refuse to honor people just for showing up to work five days a week.

It’s also important to note that Labor Day only exists because President Grover Cleveland wanted to appease the communist-backed labor unions but didn’t want to explicitly condone their movement by observing May Day (also known as International Workers Day, or Communist Workers’ Holiday).  So really, Labor Day is nothing but a holiday for pinkos and commies.

If I were truly a man of conviction I would refuse to even acknowledge Labor Day.  I would show up to work on that day and put my nose to the grindstone for eight hours to protest this evil day, this piece of the puzzle in the great international communist conspiracy.

But, alas, I am not that brave, nor that noble.  I’m a drunk.  And rather than making a stand against this great evil, this injustice against working Americans, I’d rather just get drunk and bitch about how the commies are still destroying our country even after Rambo won the Cold War. 

The really sad thing about Labor Day is if it were any other meaningless holiday, like Columbus Day or Flag Day or Arbor Day, it would be my favorite day of the year.  After all, it’s the opening weekend of college football!  It’s the last hurrah of summer, one of your last chances to see girls running around in bikinis, and the last big weekend where it will be warm enough to pass out drunk in a gutter and not wake up with hypothermia.  I love everything about the three day weekend.  Except for the whole communist conspiracy thing.

So, with that in mind, I have a couple suggestions to make Labor Day a truly great American holiday we can all enjoy without the nagging guilt that you’re contributing to the downfall of the free world:

1) Let’s re-name it Football Day.  A day to honor the greatest and most American of all sports.  Traditions don’t have to change at all, people can continue to drink and watch football all weekend long, only now it will actually show your patriotism to do so.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

2) Or, if we insist on continuing to call it Labor Day, let’s truly make it a celebration of working Americans.  How about this: anyone who has a full time job gets the weekend off, while anyone who collects a check from the government that isn’t a paycheck or retirement check has to work as a servant of working Americans for all 24 hours of Labor Day?  In other words, anyone on welfare, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), unemployment, public housing assistance, LIHEAP (Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program), WIC (Women, Infants and Children) TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), or any other government assistance program will have to spend Labor Day serving the people who pay for them to be leeches on society the other 364 days a year.

But until my ideas take off across the land, don’t feel bad, don’t fret and worry that celebrating Labor Day will lead to the downfall of America.  Nope, drink away, watch football to your heart’s content, ogle young girls in their little bikinis, and pass out anywhere you please.  Together we can take this holiday and make it ours!

Why Do I Play This Game?

I’m a little behind on my posts and for that I apologize.  But the fact is it’s fantasy football season, so my writing output is going to suffer.

Yes, I am a Fantasy Football nerd.  Correction, I’m a fantasy sports nerd.  Last year, in addition to my two fantasy football leagues, I started a fantasy hockey league, played in a fantasy basketball league (and I don’t even watch the NBA), and created my own college bowl game pick ‘em league.

Yeah, I’m a dork.

I don’t know why I love fantasy sports so much.  It’s not like I’m all that good at them.  I won my very first fantasy football league 15 years ago but haven’t sniffed the title since.  Fourteen straight years without a title.  It’s not that I’m bad at fantasy football, it’s just that, despite all the hours I pour into it, I’m decidedly average.  It’s very frustrating.

To give you an idea of  how long I’ve been playing, when we started our league there weren’t online fantasy sites that kept score for you.  Nope, I did it all by hand.  I’d pick up a newspaper on my way to class every Monday morning and use the box scores to score while I was supposed to be paying attention in lecture.  (Which might explain why I have the dead end job I’m in now.  But that’s another story.)

In one of my favorite movies, Rounders, there’s a great quote about poker players:

Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.

This might be the truest statement I’ve ever read.  Looking back on that championship I won in 1996, I remember almost nothing of my championship team other than a few key players.  I don’t remember a single big win, can’t recall a single detail from that championship game.  What I do remember from that first season of fantasy sports was a devastating loss at the hands of my nemesis, Family Man:

We had battled it out through the weekend, and going into Monday Night Football it was still anybody’s ballgame.  We both had a big gun playing; I had Rod Smith at wide receiver (he would finish the year with 12 TDs and top 5 in WR fantasy points), and Family Man had Terrell Davis, the top running back in the game.

We watched the game together at his place.  Shit talk was flying back and forth with every carry or catch by one of our guys.  I was less than one touchdown down when John Elway hit Rod Smith on a deep crossing pattern and Smith broke away from his defender towards the end zone.  I was up out of my seat screaming and yelling and dancing and swearing as Smith streaked past the 30, the 20, the 10…  Finally, a safety caught up to him and dragged him down at the one yard line.

This is where fantasy football can be so cruel.  Normally, a wide receiver making a 54 yard catch down to the one yard line is a good thing.  But not when your fantasy opponent has the team’s running back.

One play later Terrell Davis ran in the score and sealed the game not just for the Denver Broncos but also for Family Man’s team.  I’ve still never forgotten that empty feeling when Smith got brought down at the goal line and I instantly knew I was finished.

Why do I play this game?

Another heartbreaking moment that many of you can relate to came in 2008, when I had drafted Tom Brady with my first pick.  Brady, coming off a record-setting 50 touchdown season, and never having missed a game due to injury in his career, had his season ended approximately 12 minutes into the year.  What’s worse, by this time I was playing in two fantasy leagues, and I had drafted Brady in both of them.

I remember the excitement of opening day, that optimism I feel every year that my team will lead me back to glory.  And I remember that moment when Bernard Pollard launched himself at Brady’s legs, shredding his ACL and my entire season in a single play.  It is one of the most vivid memories I have in 30+ years of watching football.  Why can’t I remember Florida State’s national championships as vividly as that horrible moment?

What did I do after that?  I immediately grabbed my cell phone and, too impatient to even power it down, ripped out the battery and threw the phone across the room before I could be inundated with texts and calls mocking my misfortune.  Yeah, my friends are assholes.

Why do I play this game?

But possibly my worst fantasy football moment occurred in 2000.  After several piss-poor seasons following my inaugural championship I had finally regained a small measure of self respect by making the playoffs.  I had a loaded backfield with three solid backs that could have started for most any fantasy team.  Unfortunately, you could only start two.

The week of my playoff matchup I poured over box scores and stats trying to determine which two backs to start.  After about three days of getting nothing done at work I thought I had made up my mind.  But, seeking reassurance, I emailed Family Man to get his thoughts.

Now, I will not blame Family Man for what happened to me, because it is my own fault for not trusting my instincts.  But I allowed Family Man to talk me out of starting one of my backs.

That running back’s name was Mike Anderson.  And that weekend he had one of the greatest games in NFL history.  251 yards.  4 touchdowns.  He very nearly outscored my opponent single handedly.  And he was sitting on my bench.

Again I ask, why do I play this game?

But despite all the misery, all the heartache and frustration and things thrown across my apartment, I still love fantasy football and will keep on playing.  Someday I might even win again.

But in the meantime, the frequency of my posts may suffer a bit.  For that I apologize.  Bear with me, by week 8 I should be eliminated from playoff contention and ready to resume my normal writing pace.

If you know of any good sleepers, email me.

The Great Berkeley Road Trip

When I lived in San Diego and still had an alma mater, my old school came out to play Cal in football.  My buddy Manscape and I decided to make the road trip.  It was the fall of 2005…

Rest In Peace, Chief Illiniwek

We hit the road Friday morning and everything was going smooth.  My mother had just been out to visit and she left her rental car a few extra days to make the drive and not put the miles on my own piece of shit car.  More than a few people had questioned our decision not to fly, and the over/under on our drive was 9 hours with a high of 11, but I confidently predicted a 7.5 hour trek.  Traffic in L.A. was light and we cruised through the uninhabited wasteland of central California with ease.

In almost exactly seven and a half hours we were in Berkeley (thank you very much).  45 minutes after that we actually found our hotel (shut up).  Now, I must confess here that I had screwed around and not made reservations in a timely manner for this trip, so the hotel where the San Diego Illini Club and many other fellow fans were staying was filled up.  Fortunately, I had been able to secure accommodations at another venue.  This place was not only cheaper, but walking distance to both the stadium and the alumni’s hotel.  The only problem was that the place was a bed & breakfast and only offered one bed per room.  Although Manscape and I are tight, we aren’t close enough to start spooning yet.  But Manscape brought an aerobed and we were good to go.

Once we checked in we decided to take a tour of the campus and get some food. Berkeley is officially the worst campus I’ve ever seen in my life.  And I’ve seen a few.  This place is a shithole.  Homeless people, hippies who look like homeless people, people living in trees, ugly chicks, fraternity houses that don’t show even a hint of a weekend party (it’s 7 o’clock on a Friday and not a single person passed out on the lawn?  WTF?!?), just all around the worst place ever.  Walking down their main drag is like going through Tijuana.  On the light poles there were signs proclaiming the area to be a “Drug Free Zone.”  I thought that was pretty funny and decided to take a picture of the sign.  Some street vendor, a 250-pound black woman wearing a red cape, a hard hat painted like the flag of Israel and her face painted like a leopard (I am NOT making this up) thought I had taken her picture, so she gets all indignant, and as we’re walking away I hear her say, “That cracker ass white boy need to get his ass kicked!”  Manscape, who’s a pretty big guy, informed me he didn’t think we could take her so we quickened our pace.

After dinner we went back to the room to get ready to go out.  Thanks to my amazing foresight we had with us a cheap styrofoam cooler loaded with a big handle of vodka and enough Red Bull to explode an elephant’s heart.  We pounded drinks while getting ready.  I donned one of my favorite shirts, the one with Che Guevara that says “Commies Aren’t Cool,” and we walked down the street to our alumni’s hotel bar.

It’s always fun to drink with old people because they know they’re going to have to go to bed by 10 so they’re really intent on getting drunk before having to call it a night.  We, of course, get really fucked up and then keep on going.  So after the old folks went to bed a few of us younger alums hit a few more bars.  I got a lot of dirty looks for my shirt.  The bar scene in Berkeley is pretty weak, probably because of the presence of so many other mind-altering substances the kids can indulge in.  But we persevered.  We did a lot of shots, I got royally drunk and started blacking out, nothing too exciting happened and I was in bed by 2:30. 

Saturday morning I was less hung over than expected.  Manscape was hurting pretty bad and wanted to start drinking immediately to rectify the situation.  He still has a hard time accepting the fact that I won’t drink during Illini games, and tried in vain once again to convince me to tailgate with him.  I told him it wasn’t negotiable, I would be drinking nothing but water until postgame.

You guys remember Elizabeth Reid, right?  We’ve stayed more or less in touch as she’s moved about four times around the western United States.  Anyways, she rolled into Berkeley around noon and we met up at the tailgate area outside the stadium.  She was with her boyfriend and a friend who went to Berkeley.  She also knew someone who worked in the Cal athletic department and had all kinds of free food and drink coupons for the tailgate.  I hydrated and got some sustenance while everyone else worked on their pre-game buzz.

Up 17-7 at half, lost 35-20.

I’ll try not to get too lengthy with my game analysis, but to make a long story short, Illinois football sucked pretty bad back in ’05.  They played better than expected, made it competitive for three quarters, but in the end they were no match for a legitimate Division I program.  It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and we certainly didn’t expect much out of this season, so we didn’t take it too hard.  In other words, it was time to forget about football and let the drinking commence!

After the game we all went back to our lovely bed & breakfast.  The place has a sweet rooftop patio that has a view of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz way off in the distance.  There were five of us and we started working on the vodka.  Five mere mortals would normally have trouble killing a handle of vodka, but there were three alcoholics in the group (Manscape, Elizabeth and myself), so we knocked it out in just a couple hours.  We had a riot up on the roof, shootin’ the shit, enjoying a rare nice day in the Bay Area, and generally being drunken idiots.  After we’d killed it we decided to hit the bars.

We were going down the stairs to street level when Manscape, just stupid drunk, took a fall and tumbled down the last flight of stairs, nearly taking me with him and sprawling out in the middle of the lobby with a busted ankle.  He was alternating laughing and moaning in pain.  The girl working the front desk was mortified.  I tried to help him up but he just stayed down right in front of the desk, groaning about his ankle.  I told him to suck it up and pulled him to his feet and we started off for the bars, Manscape limping like a cripple.

The first bar we came to had a patio area that was clearly marked exit only, but since Manscape was hammered and in pain he determined he was going to get in that way no matter what.  Bad idea.  The bouncer stopped him, then radioed to the bouncers at the front to be on the lookout for a belligerent limping idiot.  We got to the front and they informed us Manscape was too intoxicated to enter the bar.  Manscape was seconds away from erupting into an Incredible Hulk-like rage.  I did my best to calm him down, rounded everyone up, and we all headed for another bar.

At the next bar we settled in to drink heavily and wash away the pain of Illinois’ loss and Manscape’s busted ankle. Elizabeth was completely ignoring her boyfriend while she talked to her friend from Cal, and I could see the boyfriend getting angrier and angrier as the night wore on.  Manscape, meanwhile, was trying to drink the pain out of his ankle with vodka on the rocks and bitching non-stop about being denied access to the last bar.  Two angry drunk people, things were bound to get ugly sooner or later.

The three of us were talking football while Elizabeth was talking to the other guy, and this toolbox started lecturing me and Manscape on how little we knew about football.  It all started when I said Denny Green was one of the worst coaches in football.  The jackass actually asked me if I knew anything about football.   I calmly pointed out Denny’s losing record at Northwestern, his losing record at Stanford, and his perennial 8-8 teams at Minnesota before acquiring Randy Moss.  The boyfriend tried to go into a dissertation about how college and pro football have nothing to do with each other, and Denny Green was a masterful coach who had developed Daunte Culpepper into one of the finest QBs in the NFL.  (For the record, see Daunte’s career stats with and without Moss: 18,598 yards, 129 TDs, 74 INTs in five years with Moss; 5,555 yards, 20 TDs, 32 INTs in five years without Moss.  I rest my case.)

At some point Manscape got into the argument and the guy called him a “condescending asshole.”  Manscape just shrugged and said, “Well, I may only have one leg right now, but I’m pretty sure I can still snap you in half.”  He had a quiet, fiery intensity that told me he could explode at any point.  Knowing I had no chance of holding him back once he snapped (like I said, he’s a big dude), and not wanting to spend the night in a Berkeley jail, I did my best to diffuse the situation and was rewarded with the boyfriend not talking to anyone for the rest of the night.  He just sat and sulked.  Which freed Manscape and I to set about drinking even heavier.

The rest of our time at the bar is somewhat of a blur.  Manscape and I were drinking with reckless abandon.  I vaguely remember the lead singer of Counting Crows coming into the bar, walking by our table and acknowledging the Cal guy Elizabeth was with.  And I remember Manscape and I having an in-depth discussion on the relative merits of vodka versus gin.  (A foolish argument, I love them both!)

At last call we all parted ways.  The boyfriend was still sulking like a bitch and not speaking to anyone, so I gave Elizabeth an entirely inappropriate hug as a final parting shot, and Manscape and I stumbled off towards our bed & breakfast.

We took a couple wrong turns but eventually found our way, and we were stumbling up the stairs when we ran into this girl talking on her phone.  She stopped us and made some rude comment about our Illini shirts.  I was about to start some serious shit when Manscape somehow got hold of the girl’s phone and started talking to her friend, leaving me alone with the girl.  (He’s a clever bastard and a great wingman.)  She was in search of a lighter and we of course didn’t have one, so she left to walk down to a coffeehouse to find one.  But before she disappeared Manscape told her to stop by our room later.  She similarly invited us to join her in room 303.  She was not particularly attractive, but at 2 in the morning she seemed acceptable.

Up in our room Manscape was all over me to pay her a visit.  His logic was impeccable.  (“A hole is a hole… Pussy has no face… You’re not going to remember it anyway… I’ll never tell anyone…”)  Eventually I succumbed to his badgering and went down the hall.  Mostly I was just hoping she had some alcohol, since we had killed our handle of vodka earlier.  Alas, she wasn’t there.  I went back to our room.  But then he came up with the ingenious idea of leaving a note on her door.  We had a good laugh about it, I didn’t really think he was serious, but Manscape was once again using his ultra-persuasive arguments, and my will power was too inebriated to fight back.  I grabbed a sheet of paper and started jotting down my phone number.  It seemed like an asinine thing to do, but then Manscape had a brainstorm.  “Hey!” he slurred, “Put ‘For a good time call’ !!”

So I took the note down the hall to her room and left it there.  Went back to the room, crawled onto the inflatable bed and was just about passed out with when she called.  Manscape jerked awake and seemed more sober than he’d been in a day and a half.  “Holy shit!!  Is that her?!?”

It was indeed her.  She was out in the hallway and having trouble getting her key to work.  By this point I was so exhausted from the weekend that I wasn’t even interested, but I figured I had to play it out, so I went back down the hall to her room.  Just as I got there she got her door open and then turned to me and said, “Thanks, have a good night.”  And shut the door in my drunken face.  Guess she didn’t think the note was as funny as we did.  Bitch didn’t even have the courtesy to give me a drink for the road.  So I went back to bed and passed out.

Sunday morning we were both hung over as fuck.  We got on the road right after breakfast, stopped to fill up with gas, got some water to combat the hangover, found an ESPNRadio station for NFL updates, and we were on our way.

And that’s when it all started to fall apart.  About an hour out of Berkeley we got a flat tire.  So much for a 7.5 hour trip back.  We pulled over to the side of the road and assessed the situation.  We were officially in the middle of fucking nowhere, in the three hundred or so mile stretch of road between L.A. and the Bay Area that doesn’t have a town of any significance anywhere along it.  We popped the trunk and found that the spare was one of those worthless donuts.  So I dug out the rental information and called their roadside assistance number.  Of course, we had no idea where we actually were, so as I was calling Manscape started limping down the highway to find a mile marker.  Someone actually stopped to see if he was alright; they thought we had had an accident and he was injured and delusional, limping down the road in search of help!  Yeah, that’s how bad we looked from the weekend.

Roadside assistance was no help.  There wasn’t another rental place for at least 100 miles, so we were going to have to drive all that way on the donut.  She offered to call a tow truck to come change our tire, but it was going to take at least an hour and all they could do was put on the spare that we were more than capable of changing ourselves.  I decided to go to the absolute nearest location, even though it was well out of our way, because I didn’t want to drive 55 mph any longer than absolutely necessary.  We changed the tire and got on the road, set the cruise in the low 60’s (I would rather die in a car wreck than get passed by semi trucks).

We had to get off the interstate and drive through the end of civilization, and almost three hours later we were in Fresno.  Got a new car, hopped on the road, plugged in Manscape’s radar detector, and I started flying well in excess of 90 mph down a busy road that was most definitely not an interstate.  My hangover made me care a whole lot less about my personal safety.

We made good time due to my insanely reckless driving, and we were just hitting the northern edge of L.A. around 5, planning on being home by 7 (a little over 9 hours).  Then Manscape’s phone rang.  It was his girlfriend (the Iowa alum, Squawkeye, as I call her).  She had gone up to L.A. for the weekend, and she had just gotten into an accident as she was leaving for home.

Jesus, what else can go wrong?

We pulled out the map and quickly figured out where she was, changed course and weaved a swath through about four different L.A. highways, all the way to the other side of the valley and to the scene of the accident.

The poor girl had been rear-ended, and the mini-jeep thing she had been driving had been rammed good by an SUV.  The impact had completely shattered her rear window and shaken her up pretty good, but thankfully she was okay.  The cop was wrapping up when we arrived, so we stuck around to lend emotional support.  After half an hour or so Manscape threw his bags into her wreck and told me to take off.  Seeing there was nothing more I could do, I hit the road again, this time alone and without the radar detector.  Just my hangover to keep me company.

I finally got home around 9pm, 11-plus hours after hitting the road.  I watched the last couple minutes of the Sunday Night NFL game and passed out.

If there’s a moral to this story it would be this:

Football Fashion 101

Football season is almost upon us.  I’ve always been more of a college guy than a pro football fan, and since the NFL has spent most of this summer trying to decide if they want to play or not, I’m going to talk about college.

I have a confession to make.  When it comes to football uniforms I’m as bad of a fashionista as any gay man you’ll ever meet.  I obsess over styles and new looks, I troll message boards looking for a sneak peek of a team’s new alternate uniform.  It’s strange, when it comes to my personal wardrobe I don’t care about much more than my T-shirt not smelling or having food stains.  But when it comes to football fashion I’m obsessed like a girl shopping for shoes.

So, in that spirit, this post will be devoted to the best and worst uniforms in college football.  Obviously this is all my personal opinion, and we all know my opinions tend to infuriate a great many people.  Oh well, deal with it.  You will all have the opportunity for rebuttal in the comments section.

I must note here that my rankings are based on a team’s uniforms as a whole.  Not just their helmets (unless that helmet ruins the whole package), not just their “special” uniforms they broke out for that one game back in 2005.  I will add a few tidbits about spectacularly good or bad special uniforms –like Nike’s Pro-Combat series— but in general these rankings will represent the basic look schools go with most of the time.

Alright, let’s get started with the worst of the worst.

#5–Iowa State

The Cyclones just have a knack for making bad uniforms.  I honestly can’t ever remember them having a cool look.  It’s not like red and gold are that hard to make look decent (see USC or Arizona State).  But Iowa State always seems to manage to look as brutal as possible.  Which is too bad, because given my pure unadulterated hatred for their archrival Iowa I could easily jump on the Cyclones’ bandwagon if they’d just throw me some kind of bone.

#4–Michigan

I know I’m gonna take heat on this one.  I can hear it now.  “Oh, Michigan’s uniforms are so iconic.  And the winged helmets are so classic!”  Oh yeah?  So classic what?  What exactly is that fucking stupid helmet?  Do Wolverines have wings??  Did I miss that episode of National Geographic???  Those wings have nothing to do with anything related to the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, or the Wolverines mascot.  It’s just a fucking design!  I’ve got an idea, how about every school get one of their gay art students to make up a new helmet.  We can have post-modernist designs on all our helmets that have absolutely nothing to do with anything.

I will admit, the dark blue and the bright yellow look pretty good together.  But I don’t care what any of you say, that helmet is fucking ridiculous.  And if you think it’s cool then you are fucking ridiculous too!

#3–Tennessee

I grew up an Illinois fan, so I have an affinity for the color orange.  But the Vols have the worst shade of orange ever.  It’s brutal.  Somewhere between a hunting jacket and something real orange that was left out to fade in the sun too long.  Add to that the fact that they don’t have a second color to offset it.  Then, on top of that, check out the ridiculously wide stripe on top of their helmets.  There’s nothing good about Tennessee’s uni’s, especially when they go with their all whites on the road.  Just dreadful.

As an aside, in researching this post I came across the following picture.  I have no idea when the Vols wore these outfits (looks like late 70’s, early 80’s to me), but this might just be the worst ensemble ever worn on a football field ever.  Look at the orange and gray checkerboard pattern in the numbers.  Horrific!

#2–Wyoming

Poor Wyoming just doesn’t have a chance.  When your colors are piss and shit there’s just not much you can do.  Do you emphasize the brown?

Or the yellow?

Either way you’re screwed.  I’ve always been mildly offended by those teams that just adopt black as an alternate color even though it’s not an official color of theirs, but if ever there was a school that should embrace black and go with it as much as possible it’s the Pokes.

**Update: Nike has taken over Wyoming’s branding and has tried (and failed) to make them look better this year.  See for yourself.  Brown helmets, really?**

#1–Virginia Tech

Like Wyoming, Va Tech has the deck stacked against it just based on their colors.  Maroon isn’t a terrible color, neither is orange, but the two just don’t go together.  But it takes more than just bad colors to make take top spot in the dreadful uniforms category; there’s plenty of schools out there that have fine colors and manage to fuck it up with idiotic designs (that’s right, Michigan, I’m calling you out again).

But the Hokies have a real gift for choosing awful uniforms.  Whenever you think they’ve topped themselves they always find a way to do something just a little bit worse.  Don’t believe me?  You’ve seen exhibit A, check out exhibits B:

And C:

The worst, plain and simple.  It’s really not even close.

And now that you’ve seen the worst of the worst, here’s the absolute best of the best.

#5–Washington

The Huskies have a bad habit of messing with a good thing.  In recent memory they’ve scrapped their beautiful gold helmets for purple, they’ve gone with an all-black uniform, and they’ve tried all kinds of odd stripes and piping over the years.  But when they stick with their basic, simple look they’re pretty tough to beat.  The gold helmet and purple jersey is a classic and by far the best look on the West Coast.

#4–Georgia

Another classic look.  The Bulldogs not only have the coolest mascot in all of sports (name another school where alums place flowers at the grave of the mascot who reigned during their enrollment; UGA is the coolest, bar none), but they have a simple yet distinctive look that is iconic.  I’m not usually a huge fan of the same color jersey and helmet, but it just fits here.  And the grey pants make a great touch that sets them apart.  In the past couple years they’ve tried using a black jersey for big games and it’s not nearly as good as the original.

#3–South Florida

USF breaks nearly every single one of my rules for football uniforms and yet they still look pretty damn tight.  I hate monochromatic uniforms, and yet the Bulls pull off the all-green look quite well (although I still prefer the green tops and gold pants).  I also prefer their gold helmets to the whites, but clearly they don’t care what I think because they’ve been using the whites a lot more recently, which might knock them off the list by next season.  But still, for a school that’s only had football since 1996 they have a surprisingly clean and classic look.

#2–Ohio State

No wonder half the Buckeyes team is in trouble for selling their jerseys, tOSU’s uni’s are spectacular.  Bold and strong with giant numbers, and there’s nobody else in college football with a plain silver helmet (unlike plain gold, which is worn by no less than five schools at this moment).  The cheaters’ uniforms are plain and simple yet they will never be confused with any other school.  If the NCAA really wanted to punish the Buckeyes for their latest bout of cheating they’d make them change to the godawful Nike Pro Combat uni’s they rolled out for one game in 2009:

#1–Florida State

By far the best helmet in all of football.  And not just because I am biased in favor of all Indian mascots, especially those that have survived the NCAA’s genocide.  (Hey Illinois, see how bad you shit the bed on this one?  How’s that super-cool block I logo working out for you?)

That spear is just badass.  And the uniforms are stellar too.  The garnet jersey with the Indian-style design on the collar and cuffs, the gold pants, it all looks great.  And the ‘Noles also have a unique gift in that, seemingly no matter what they do to mix things up, it still always looks good.  Check out their “Unconquered” all black uniforms they rolled out in 2009 to honor Chief Osceola of the Seminole nation:

Or, when they broke out the garnet pants in the mid-90’s (bought for the team by one of their most famous alums, Burt Reynolds):

Yep, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Seminoles have the best look in all the land.

A few other random tidbits:

–Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms have caused quite a stir the past couple years.  I alluded to some of the worst looks they brought us with Ohio State and Virginia Tech, but they scored a few hits too.  TCU’s “bloodlines” helmet, with red stripes symbolizing the blood a horned frog can shoot from its eyes (don’t ask me, I’ve never seen a real horned frog, but supposedly that’s what they do), and the silver frog skin pants are an outstanding look.  TCU would do well to make this their permanent look.

–Another great Pro Combat hit was last year’s Miami Hurricanes.  It’s loud, it’s bright, it’s obnoxious.  In short, it’s the perfect look for the dirtiest program in college football history.  The green metallic helmets are particularly cool.

–Sometimes traditional and classic is good.  But sometimes it’s just plain boring. Penn State’s entire look is pretty boring, but nobody has a more boring helmet than Nebraska.  C’mon, Huskers, you’re in the Big Ten now, it’s time to get a decent helmet.  Surely there’s a computer somewhere in all of Nebraska that has some different fonts you could play with and find something that’s not so thoroughly dull.

–That being said, I’m a big fan of numbers on the helmets. Alabama’s uniforms overall are pretty average, but the numbers on the helmets are a nice, distinctive touch. Check out this amazing pic of a Bama player who somehow got one of his numbers knocked off of his helmet:

–Big props to Navy for their uniforms.  While they’re not the coolest or the flashiest, I love the fact that they put the Navy logo on one shoulder and Marine Corps on the other.  Very classy.

I stole a whole bunch of pictures to make this post.  Let’s hope no one sues me.  Like an angry Michigan fan.

Let’s play some football!