January 24, 2012

The Magellan of the Gauntlet




After twelve weeks of the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, which is generally regarded as the greatest gambling pool in man’s long history of sport, the author’s record stood at 22-35-3. His winning percentage of 38.6 after sixty picks was the mark of a staggering futility not seen in the long and storied history of the Invitational.

Instead of falling into his usual trap of making picks based on uncontrolled rage and misdirected hatred toward the game of Football itself — a tactic that more often than not leads directly to a stint in either the William J. Lepetomaine Hospital for the Gamblingly Insane, or the Dr. Clayton Forrester Shock Therapy Institute — the author tried a new and different strategy: horsebeef therapy.

The experimental treatment was developed by outcast nutritionist Dr. Edward D. Shulman at his Equisine Foundation compound located in the heart of Horsebeef Country, USA. Following four days of intense treatment by Dr. Shulman and his associates, the author returned to the PushMaster Command Center mentally and physically rejuvenated, and ready to accept Football back into his life.

Since his self-described “horsebeef bender,” the author has gone 22-13-0 and put himself in a position to finish the season with a winning record, a once-unthinkable achievement.

The Gauntlet is always a precarious journey, but so far this year I’ve managed to navigate it like I’m Magellan. Or at least better than that cruise ship captain in Italy that bailed on his ship before everyone else was off. What a jerk.

I was fully prepared to go down with this sinking ship of a PushMaster season, whistling Dixie and pulling tubes the whole time. What else can you do? There’s certainly no glory in the cold, choppy water below that’s currently feasting on the likes of Terra, John B., Sean, et al.

However, with a little bit of luck and some newly honed skills I’ve managed to put myself in a position where I can finish the year with a winning record. “Can” being the operative word here because it would take a 5-0 finish, and at least one of those five picks is going to be a stupid-ass Super Bowl prop bet.

Compared to where I was sitting in Week Twelve, this feels like a solid-gold throne, which is probably not the best thing to be sitting in whilst in the middle of the ocean. Damn you, Gauntlet!

RAVENS (+9) v. Patriots
Picking the Ravens here makes me sick, but these points are too good to pass up. I just don’t see the Pats offense smacking the Ravens around so easy. Maybe they will; it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.

GIANTS (+3) v. 49ers
The Giants are playing better than anyone right now, and they’re getting points. Plus, I have a hard time believing that the Niners have more than one playoff win in them.

Giants v. 49ers UNDER (42)
This pick was a struggle. Both teams went over last week, so naturally I finally decided on the Under.

BOVADA.lv, 12:11 PM MST, Wednesday

Robb Witmer Full is SPORTS-THRUST’s resident horsebeef expert. For recipes, as well as general cooking tips and techniques, follow him on Twitter.

January 14, 2012

Dana Holgorsen's Football... in... Space!




“It’s not about how many plays you have, but how they fit together.” —Chris Brown, Smart Football 
By handing out an absolute ass-whipping in a BCS game, College Football’s new champions made quite a statement. No, not Alabama, the winner of the BCS exhibition boondoggle. I’m talking about the real champions.

Yeah, I’m talking about West Virginia. Didn’t you hear? There’s no subjective voter ranking, no computer bots giving us their opinions based on dubious math. It’s a simple formula: If you beat the Champs, then you are the Champs.

The lineage can be traced all the way back to the very first documented football game between Princeton and Rutgers. Follow it all the way to the end, and there you have the Mountaineers. King Shit of College Football's Fuck Mountain.

It’s like pro-wrestling, which means it’s awesome. On some level, it’s a pretty silly way to determine the champion of a sport like football, but we've already proven that the way we do it now is pretty freaking stupid as well.

The contrast between the Real Champions and the two teams playing in the BCS nightcap could not be more drastic. Alabama and LSU are two world-class defenses who staged a field goal-kicking competition in the timeslot where we were supposed to get a championship game.

Football, as everyone knows, is a copycat sport. So is this the future of college football, dominant defenses augmented by place-kicking prowess?

Lucky for us fans, the answer is an emphatic no. In fact, in today’s college game there only seems to be room for a couple of truly great defensive teams. It just so happens that our asinine championship process concluded they were the two best teams.

The future of Football, my friends, is in space, and there’s no better practitioner in the field of space football than West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen.

The tenets of space football are easy to understand. You get a dynamic player or three on your offense, get them the ball in open space, and let the magic happen.

The quintessential space back in the NFL is Darren Sproles, and teams like the Saints and Patriots exploit open areas in the defense better than anyone. Caveman offenses like the Bettis-era Steelers, or the current Broncos, are already a thing of the past. We’re living in space now, bitches.

The specifics of space football are also incredibly simple, at least in the Air Raid style that Holgorsen employs. Dude’s got like twelve plays. It took three days to install the offense when he got to WVU. The most important aspect to Holgerson’s offense: practice, practice, practice.

Why make this any more complicated than it has to be? Anyone who’s played video-game football knows that there are five to ten plays that work on a regular basis when called at the appropriate time, so why stick other horseshit in there? To be cute? Fuck that.

Holgorsen, Sean Payton and other space football savants create space on the field through play-calling. They understand that you can make defenses your bitches with a well-timed screen play, which could very well be called in the first quarter but is really a set-up for a play in the third quarter where suddenly Tavon Austin is catching the ball with no defenders within fifteen yards. Simple and deadly.

Before you know it, your team has called only eight different plays, but in a sequence that puts up seventy points in a BCS game. Eat that, ‘Bama.

My favorite thing about Holgorsen, though, has to be his offensive relentlessness. Did you see the last two minutes of the first half of the Orange Bowl? Getting those two late touchdowns to put the Mountaineers at Forty-nine points at halftime was a savagely brilliant, mafia-style double-tap to the head.

And what did he say coming out at half-time, with a lead of 49-20? “We’re going to run our offense.” Awesome.

SAINTS (-4) v. 49ers
Wasn’t it the Saints’ coach who got everyone all in a tizzy because he wanted to live in Texas or something? Wow, who gives a fuck, right?

Broncos v. PATRIOTS (-14)
This is a lot of points, and the Pats have that choke-stink around them again this year. I obviously don’t care. New England is currently playing back-up landscapers in their defensive backfield, but I’m assuming they aren’t going to let Ike Taylor cover the entire secondary by himself for the whole game.

TEXANS (+9) v. Ravens
After all four home teams covered easily last week, I’ve gone and done the smart thing and picked three road teams.

GIANTS (+9) v. Packers
The Giants win this game. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Deal with it, America. (Moneyline: about Giants +300)

Giants v. Packers OVER (52.5)
Lining up five whole numbers proved an impossibility at the time of my pick-making, so here’s a halfsy over/under. This game has “under” written all over it. What a stupid fucking pick.

BOVADA.lv, Tuesday, 11:58 PM MST

Robb Witmer Full doesn't know what he'll do with his time when the Football season is over. He'll probably spend most of it on Twitter.

January 4, 2012

The Second Coming of Kordell Stewart




WEST VIRGINIA (+3) v. Clemson
This game could go thirty points in either direction. Take the ‘dog.

KANSAS ST. (+8) v. Arkansas
Arkansas was the third best team in their division, so there’s that.

Lions v. Saints OVER (59)
This pick definitely falls into the “too obvious to be right” category, but I can’t help myself.

STEELERS (-9) v. Broncos
Last week I referred to Tim Tebow as “about the tenth or eleventh best quarterback in the conference...” I regret the error. Maybe I was still a little delirious from being sick, or from the subsequent dose of medication. The reality is that he’s probably the worst starting quarterback in the league not on the Bears roster. Tebow would be the second- or third-best quarterback on just about any team in the league. In fact, he’s probably the worst quarterback with at least eight consecutive starts since Kordell Stewart. Wait, what hell am I talking about? Kordell was a better passer, a better runner, and his fans were infinitely less nauseating. I think it’s funny when people say stuff like “the Broncos should put Tebow in at running back.” That’s fucking stupid. Sure, running the ball is what he’s failed at the least, but to be an elite running back requires a skill set Tebow simply doesn’t have. He might be a decent Wildcat-QB or short-yardage back for a few plays a game, but otherwise has no business being on an NFL field. And I still stand by my assertion that he was a just-above-average college quarterback. If it wasn’t for ESPN, you wouldn’t be able to remember the difference between him and Chris Leak.

ALABAMA (+1) v. Lsu
I’m surprised that Bovada still has LSU favored in this game. Everyone else has adjusted their lines the other way, and I’m assuming there’s a reason for that. Though if ‘Bama wins this game, doesn’t LSU still have a legitimate claim to part of the National Championship? What would be the difference in their seasons? Ugh. When will my beloved College Football put an end to this bullshit?

BOVADA.lv, 11:08 AM MST, Wednesday

Robb Witmer Full has managed to claw his way back to a 37-45-3 record in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, which he is probably gushing about all over the Twitterverse.