Time to Step It Up

Enough with the footwear talk. It’s time to get serious, people. We are getting complacent because we are in the middle of the “most wonderful time of the year.” The time is coming to a close, and we should recognize sooner rather than later.

TV is making it tough to maintain a relationship and be an informed football fan. I was OK with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights dedicated to the cause. This week there was a critical matchup between Ball State and Central Michigan. Thursday night had yet another shakeup game in the ACC between Georgia Tech and Miami and the Bengals/Steelers snow fest. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Marvin Lewis should have been fired on the spot for going for a field goal when his team was inside the ten yard line, down by 13, and in the fourth quarter. Margin of victory does not keep you in a coaching job.

I blame CMU’s “Vegas gold” jerseys for their defeat in Wednesday night’s showdown. Does anyone think that color is a good look? I hope that old gold makes a comeback in the next decade. At least the Steeler were smart enough to choose a more traditional third jersey. The teams that have the ugliest third jerseys, like the Rams, Vikings, and Saints, haven’t been racking up the wins of late.

Before I went on an all too familiar tangent, I was about to make a point. As football fans, we are constantly assaulted in all directions. On the positive side, we get to discuss the fates of our teams with like-minded co-workers and friends. On the negative side, the anti-footballers constantly wonder when the season is over, or in some cases, ask if it has started yet. We have to unite. In many fantasy football leagues, there are three weeks left in the regular season.

In my college league, I’ve already lost in the playoffs. It’s kind of ironic that a college fantasy league has playoffs when the real deal continues to refuse. With a new nine-figure deal from ESPN to continue the BCS (minus the Rose Bowl), I don’t blame them. It may take a Constitutional Amendment to get a playoff rolling, and don’t think that Obama won’t consider it.

It’s week eleven in the NFL. We are two weeks beyond the hated bye weeks. Fans of the Lions, Bengals, Chiefs, Raiders, and most of the NFC West are already counting down to the draft. To those fans, I say, pick another team. I can do the math; there are 111 regular-season games left. That may seem like a lot, but as of Monday morning, we’re under 100 games to go. This is the time when your off-season training regimen kicks in. It’s time to drink that extra beer, eat that extra pound of cheese dip, and indulge in another dozen wings. Exercise while you’re watching the East-West Shrine game in February. While the NFL Network likes to pound into us that there is no offseason, I completely disagree. There is a non-playing season, and its length is why we must cherish the playing season.

That’s why I continue to fret over my 2-8 fantasy team. Unlike some professional teams, my fantasy team is going to lose playing hard every week. LaDainian Tomlinson doesn’t score his weekly 11 points by going half-speed. Some would say he’s been going half-speed all year.

By the way, the Titans bandwagon is full. I’m talking to you, Deion. You don’t get to jump on board after ten wins. I don’t think so. I would have let you on after eight. I’m a considerate kind of guy. And while the rest of the world has been lulled to sleep by two turnover-free games by the Great Favre, I predict a key interception coming up this Sunday. The NFL’s all-time leader in pick-sixes (and I refuse to look this up, just trust me) will strike again.

I wondered what college football was missing last week, and I thought of it. There was no oh-my-God matchup in the Big 12. There have been only half a dozen of these games in the league, all but one featuring teams from the South division, over the past two months. Tomorrow night’s game is Oklahoma/Texas Tech, and I’m ready. The winner most likely gets Missouri. Everyone saying that the SEC is superior, answer me this: Has the SEC had two games as compelling as Oklahoma/Texas, Texas/Texas Tech, Oklahoma State/Missouri, Texas Tech/Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma State/Texas this year? I thought not. The fact that Notre Dame, provided they win their last two games (which they will not), might get a Cotton Bowl bid at 8-4 over an SEC team, says plenty. The Cotton Bowl might feature a matchup more lopsided than last year’s Missouri/Arkansas laugher since the weakest of the Oklahoma/Texas/Texas Tech trio will be invited.

Oh yeah, when the dust settles, the top rookie RB from that Arkansas team that Missouri so thoroughly stomped is going to be fullback Peyton Hillis. Who could have predicted that? Felix Jones quietly went on IR and Darren McFadden hasn’t been heard from in a while. Right now it’s McFadden 47, Jones 43, and Hillis 40 in my local league.

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