The BCS is dead they say: Long live the BCS

cfp

When the BCS died a year ago, I wrote an introduction to the College Football Playoff that, in essence, contended that we were going to miss the BCS:

With the College Football Playoff ©, we will have one thing we asked for and one thing we did not. A semifinal playoff round will precede, and determine the participants in, the national championship game. That is good, and it was a structural shortcoming of the BCS. For some reason, though, the College Football Playoff © scrapped the BCS’s rankings system in favor of a Byzantine (Soviet? Orwellian?) black box: the PolitburoSelection Committee.

Participating in the BCS is like paying your income taxes: there’s a lot of math and fine print involved, you probably can’t quite find all of the information you need to calculate the precisely correct result, and there’s that guy down the block who hollers that the thing’s unconstitutional, but you generally have a pretty good idea of your expected outcome.

On the other hand, the new playoff’s Selection Committee recalls the Supreme Court: members deliberate behind closed doors, apply any criteria of their choosing in reaching decisions, and announce those decisions under their own terms.

On Sunday, the Selection Committee spoke for the last time in its inaugural season to announce the four playoff participants: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State. Two days later, everyone outside of Texas generally seems to agree that this is the right result.

The only reason the results were or remain controversial has to do with what the Selection Committee did prior to Sunday. Their flipping and flopping of TCU, with seemingly connected treatments of Baylor and Minnesota, was the genesis of the confusion, surprise, and, in Fort Worth and Waco, disappointment, that arrived with the final playoff announcement. On one hand, those confused, surprised, and disappointed feelings were unwarranted: the Committee reached the correct result. On the other hand, however, they were unnecessary and likely would not have arisen absent the lack of transparency that now characterizes the college football ranking process.

If the BCS could speak from the grave, what would it say about the CFP Selection Committee’s final result? The answer, Continue reading

Jam Faces

While he and his bands– he was a member of both Small Faces and Faces, and he played in numerous other groups, such as the Rolling Stones and his own solo band– deserve their own posts, Ian McLagan is honored and remembered in this week’s Friday Jam space. McLagan, an English keyboard player from the Booker T. Jones school, died this week. Here he is, in a YouTube greatest hit, with Faces, which, in case you didn’t recognize them, also included Rod Stewart and Ron Wood up front:

Who’s conflicted about sports? World Series of Poker edition

While the idea of writing about the cartographic results of ESPN SportsNation polls long has percolated in my mind, it (obviously to you, erstwhile ALDLAND reader) never took off. In part I suspect this is because there’s little categorical variety in the types of conclusions we ordinarily draw from these maps, those being 1) the one state associated with the obvious minority view holds out, probably irrationally, against the weight of a nationwide majority and 2) shoot, there really aren’t too many people with internet connections in Mississippi are there? After a very short time, this would become boring to read and write.

We are living in the post-peak-SportsNation world, though, which means that, if this thing’s going to work at all, we’ve got to try it now, but with a slightly different angle of approach. Instead of focusing on the people who supported a poll choice, we’ll look at those states where the voters were not able to reach consensus.

For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of these voting maps, ESPN assigns colors to each of the poll options and presents each state as the color of the option most popular among that state’s voters. Where there is a tie between leading options, however, the state appears grey. These indecisive states are the focus here.

ESPN (I assume from the existence of this poll and Norm Macdonald’s late-night tweeting) has been televising the World Series of Poker this week, and SportsNation, in a totally happenstance, non-marketing-driven poll, casually asked, “How would you rate your poker game?” Here are the results:

nv-pokerWhile we could postulate that Louisianans spend too much time playing Three-card Monte and Arkansans are just people who picked up the rudiments of poker as a post-hoc character alibi while on the run from an out-of-state murder rap, but we don’t really know any of that for certain, and it’s more– though still, extremely mildly– entertaining to note that Nevada, home to the nation’s largest casinos, has no opinion on the matter.

UPDATE: A plurality of Nevada voters now say they do not play poker at all. Click the map above to see the very latest results.

Why We Need “The Basement Tapes Complete” (via Wondering Sound)

bigpinkThe new “complete” set, in its semi-scholarly presentation, in no way robs this music of its power and peculiarity; it clarifies it, and puts it in a context that is simultaneously aesthetically and historically meaningful. The narrative of The Basement Tapes is easy and enjoyable to follow, but it has never before been so fully and conscientiously laid out. … Read More

(via Wondering Sound)

Halloween Friday Jam

I still don’t like Halloween, but I still can’t let the day pass without sharing this jam, all the more salient in this space today as the holiday falls on a Friday. Enjoy this new (to me) version of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s canonical feature, now with the new (to me, as of today) knowledge that Pickett’s band for the special occasion, the Crypt-Kickers, featured the great Leon Russell on the B side. Enjoy the A side now before heading out for an evening of tricks and/or treats, and say hello to Bobby, Leon, and Dick if you happen to spot them in the great crypt tonight:

Bronson Arroyo: Songsmith

Last week’s Sports Illustrated closed with a remembrance of Adam Dunn’s career that included the following information:

While hip-hop paeans name-checked Jeter, the only tune anyone ever composed about Dunn came from his Reds teammate, and part-time musician, Bronson Arroyo. The pitcher reworked a song to reflect his friend’s typical late September demeanor. Says Arroyo, “The lyrics were like, ‘I’m Adam Dunn, I’m so glad the season’s over, I just want to get home and be sipping on a beer by the pool and get away from this b.s.'”

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Ryan Braun’s Kansas City Jam

mkc

A week ago, Baseball Prospectus’ daily podcast celebrated its 500th episode by holding a “baseball draft” in which a few writers drafted their favorite things about baseball. Grant Brisbee’s first-round draft pick was “the other Ryan Braun,” a focal point of his interest in baseball players with the same name as each other. As it turns out, just before that Ryan Braun synthetically rose to prominence, a young-ish reliever named Ryan Braun pitched for the Kansas City Royals for two seasons.

On Monday, I started a free trial of satellite radio. I’m still deciding if I’ll stick with it, partly because I tend to think the stations can be too narrow in scope, but for now I really am enjoying their bluegrass station and the fact that I can listen to the Detroit Tigers Radio Network game broadcasts outside of the conventional listening area. One of the first songs I heard was by someone named Lou Reid, and I heard it again last night. (So much for the liberating medium of satellite radio!) We’re big Lou Reed fans here, so the conceit of this post birthed itself pretty quickly. Today’s Jam is the only video version of that Lou Reid song I could find, and if you’re wondering about the audio quality, yes, this is an amateur taping of a CD release party, which was held in the parking lot of a North Carolina Wal-Mart.

If I can, I’ll just add a quick happy birthday note to ALDLAND. It’s been a fun three years. Thanks for stopping by.

ALDLAND Podcast

Have you ever thought about Ronaldo and Fred Durst at the same time, or at least in close proximity to one another, thought-wise? Well you’re about to, because the first story on tonight’s ALDLAND Podcast discusses both last year’s Balon d’Or winner as well as the Limp Bizkit frontman. If that doesn’t pique your interest, there is also discussion of an actual sports topic in the form of ALDLAND’s take on the MLB trade deadline.

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