Confession time: I have a bad relationship with GIFs. I'm 100 percent alone on this one, I know, especially among young Internet sports types. But to me, GIFs are like "Harlem Shake" videos — hilarious visual gag at first, until you become so inundated that you go numb and begin to hate the person who bought you your first computer and sent you on this horrible, soul-killing journey into the heart of the Internet. (Important note: This is for comedy GIFs only it doesn't go for the ones that are just meant to show a sweet dunk, a great goal, or any of the other sincere uses of the form.)
Watching a GIF, I get the weird sense that I'm being manipulated, as though I'm laughing begrudgingly at a stand-up comedian whose only bit is to hit himself in the face with a baking pan. The endless repetition is supposed to be what gives the image its humor, but something about it drives me crazy. It's like we're making snark-commodities out of human moments. (Actually, pretend I just said something along the same lines, but less pretentious.)
This is my only soapbox. I only care about destroying the GIF culture. But after all that big talk, I have to admit that I still laugh at the really good ones that transcend the medium, like Ben McLemore dancing. And the reason I'm mentioning it now is that I violated my own principles and yeah, made a GIF. I couldn't help it:
I know I should have stuck to my guns, but the way the cameraman went into soft focus on Kelly and readjusted to the fan doing the White Raven arms — it's like he was begging me to make a GIF. He was my serpent, and his comic shot was the forbidden apple. I hope this isn't the start of a slippery slope, but in three months you'll probably find me lying face down in a dark Internet cafe, dead from a GIF overdose.
In case you were back out at the karaoke bar trying to redeem last night's off-key performance with a heartfelt rendition of "Ruby Tuesday," here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Indiana Pacers continued their hot play at home, downing the Miami Heat, 87-77. Paul George, who led the Pacers with 29 points, matched up with reigning NBA MVP LeBron James and said after the game, "It's a chance to for me to see where I'm at, going against one of the best, if not, the best in the league." When asked to rate George's performance, James said, "The dude from The Beatles? Nah, I don't like them very much." When told that he wasn't being asked about either Paul McCartney or George Harrison, James responded, "Oh, Canadian Prime Minister Paul George? Yeah, dude has some cool thoughts on tariffs and immigration. Bet you didn't think I knew that!" It was then explained to James that Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada, and that Paul George was his opponent in the basketball game he had played less than an hour earlier. "Oh, George Paul? James responded. "That dude kicked my butt tonight."
When my wife read Friday's post, she asked me why I cared who was the beefiest or bulkiest player in the country. And I have to tell you guys I didn't have a good answer. Let's move on to this week's epiphanies and observations.
It's Rivalry slash Thanksgiving Week, when teams who have historically aggravated one another by virtue of shared geography, but who may not even be in the same conference in 2012, meet up for an annual gathering of bad feelings. This is the week for Florida–Florida State, Georgia Tech–Georgia, South Carolina–Clemson, and more. But before we get to the top 10 games, let's take a quick look at the perfect scenario for the final few weeks of college football, and let's do it in stream-of-consciousness form. For the ultimate comedic and poetic payoff, here's what has to happen:
Oregon loses to Oregon State, Georgia loses to Georgia Tech, Florida loses to Florida State, Alabama loses to Georgia in SEC title game, Georgia Tech beats Florida State in ACC title game, Kansas State loses to Texas, Stanford beats UCLA then loses to UCLA in Pac-12 title game, Louisville beats Rutgers but loses in a bowl game, Wisconsin beats Nebraska in Big Ten title game, Notre Dame loses to USC, Oklahoma wins out, Kent State and Northern Illinois both lose in bowls.
First, none of those outcomes are unlikely. All of them put together? Highly unlikely. But humor me for a second, because these are the teams that would earn automatic BCS berths if that scenario plays out: Georgia Tech, Georgia, Louisville, Wisconsin, UCLA, and Oklahoma. And the national title game would probably be Notre Dame vs. Georgia. Now, let's say Notre Dame, at 11-1, loses to 11-2 Georgia. Also, Ohio State beats Michigan this week.
The result? Zero bowl-eligible teams with even a one-loss record, and a BCS champion in Georgia that lost 35-7 to South Carolina, and suffered a hypothetical loss to Georgia Tech. The whole college landscape is a dusty wasteland. And then, rising amid the destruction, like a glorious phoenix, is Urban Meyer with his 12-0 Ohio State team. So riddle me this — could the AP poll, which is independent of the BCS, really put the Buckeyes anywhere but no. 1? I say no, and that means Ohio State would win a split national championship. The same Ohio State that's banned from postseason play because some kid got a free tattoo, and the same Ohio State that barely beat Cal at home, escaped from Indiana, and needed a miracle to beat Purdue in overtime.
And when all that happens, I'm going to phone up the BCS and just start laughing in their faces. A dude can dream.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The Kansas City Chiefs overcame an 18-point deficit to stun the Saints 27-24 on Ryan Succop's 31-yard overtime field goal. "You did such a great job calling plays!" said Succop to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel after the game. "How did you learn so much about football? It's really neat just to be around you and watch how you school the other coaches. Hey, do you and your wife want to come over for dinner sometime this week? Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday? Thursday or Friday work, too, or Monday. Mrs. Succop is cooking pot roast. Or whatever you want. She can always change the menu."
"The ACC tournament doesn't start until Friday," is a phrase I heard more than once Thursday, the day on which the ACC tournament actually started.
I was especially prone to hearing that sentiment, considering my penchant for complaining about the lack of quality basketball. Still, all good drama needs a setup; those first two establishing acts that make us care about the climax. Even a joke needs a foundation, and it remains to be seen which path this tournament will take.
Before we take a tour of the notable events from Thursday, here are the basics you need to know.
The 12 schools of the Atlantic Coast Conference came into league play in various states of ripening or disrepair. Virginia was riding one of the best starts in team history and had surprised everyone by cracking the Top 25. North Carolina had survived a shaky start and was finally starting to look like the national title hopeful we'd imagined in November. Duke had gone the opposite direction, as the luster of early wins faded in the face of recent humiliations. Florida State spent its first 14 games learning that great defense might not quite be enough this year, while others, such as Maryland and Wake Forest and NC State, made strides that will either prove to be omens of rebirth or ignes fatui, false lights in the dark.
When the first six games had passed, most of the questions still lingered. Here are some quick (and not so quick) thoughts on each.
Did you watch West Virginia and Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday night? Then we also recommend taking a look at Chris Brown's breakdown of West Virginia's offense, which ran on Grantland earlier this year. It's much more interesting than that game was!
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
West Virginia broke the record for most points scored in a bowl game with a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. It was an ignominious end to the season for ACC football, but at least the conference can count on great basketball teams like Duke to restore its reputation against non-conference opponents.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
The final BCS rankings are out, and LSU and Alabama will meet again for the national championship. And in a world of chaos and confusion, let me be the first to thank the BCS for yet another year of controversy-free rankings that show, without a doubt, that this is the best possible system for determining a champion.
It's the last week before bowl season, and though much has been decided, there's at least a modicum of drama left. Let's get all judgmental and count down the eight best games.
8. No. 9 Oregon vs. "UCLA," "Pac-12" "Championship"
Once in a while, as a kid, I would invite my neighbor up to play basketball. He wasn't very good, but there was no one else around. I'd regret it almost immediately; he'd feel bad for not playing well, I'd feel bad for beating him, and then I'd try to let him win a game to make it less horrible, but it ended up making it more horrible because he knew what I was doing. Still, we'd have to keep going to maintain the whole facade, to make sure no feelings were hurt. But why were we playing? What was the point? What I'm trying to say is, that neighbor's name was Rick Neuheisel (gasp!).
In advance of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which begins tonight, Shane Ryan and Mark Titus exchanged e-mails discussing Duke, Ohio State, the nature of the Challenge, and a few odds and ends, including a new game called Azerbaijan. And after much fanfare, picks were made.
After the frenetic highs of Week 12, Rivalry Week was a slow coming-down party. In 16 games involving ranked teams, there wasn't a single upset -- at least by the rankings. Most of the games weren't even close. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and several avenues of escape were cut off.
Rivalry Week is here, and there's a lot more at stake than just pride. Which is great because, really, who cares about pride? Most of us threw that out the window when we went on welfare just so we could afford HBO. It's the American story, folks. Don't blame the messenger. Anyway, there are more games with BCS implications this week than I can ever remember. The rundown is enough to make you store canned peaches and rifles in an underground shelter and pray for Thursday. So, here it be. (Note: I realize that not all of these games are true rivalries, so quit it with your semantics. There are bigger problems in this world, dude, such as your reflexive anger at trivialities.)
1. It's tough to be a kicker. 2. The 2-point conversion is a cruel mistress. 3. The marquee games disappointed, but everything else delivered.
I feel bad giving the Oregon-Stanford blowout short shrift, but the result can really be summed up in two words: speed kills. The Stanford run defense, which had been one of the nation's best prior to facing Oregon, gave up 232 yards. From the size of the holes LaMichael James was exploiting, it felt like Stanford was playing a prevent defense all game. In fact, if you'll let me brag for a moment (and I hope you will, because I'm so often wrong), everything I predicted in the preview essentially came true. The words of the prophet: