just like the good old days.

harbaugh

Forgive me if I behave like a normal, rational human being for a moment, while discussing college football. I promise you — it’ll last just a minute or two.

That’s all the time I’ll need to explain why I’m excited that Michigan landed Jim Harbaugh.

(I know, I know. Stick with me for a second, OK?)

* The best thing about The Coaching Change Up North is that Harbaugh should bring that program back to its traditional place in college football — and that is nothing but positive for the Big Ten. The shine has come off our conference recently, and it’s for one simple fact: we don’t compete. This isn’t all the fault of the team up north — look no further than a horrible loss at home to Virginia Tech as an example, ahem — but having one of the conference’s marquee teams struggle to earn bowl eligibility goes a long way towards hurting the perception of the B1G. Ohio State must be consistently good for the Big Ten to be respected, and the conference’s other big name programs — Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and, especially, Michigan — must match that consistency as well.

* If you believe what Harbaugh said in his news conference today, it’s good to hear that Michigan is getting a guy who believes in — who understands — what’s different about college football. We’re not watching the same level of football as we do on Sundays. But we care more, and that passion is what makes Saturday football better. NFL reporters and execs won’t understand why Harbaugh left. I do.

* Finally — here’s a Michigan coach I can really hate again.

lost hoppertunity.

I had my Kentucky Derby horse. And it would have been perfect.

A beer-related name. Trained by Bob Baffert, who is my guy. And he would have worn the silks of co-owner Michael Pegram — a big MP, which, by the way, ARE MY INITIALS AS WELL.

Hoppertunity would have been a solid choice too, opening betting after the announcement of post positions at 6-1. But after he limped through a practice run on Thursday, Baffert withdrew him from the race.

And left me without my most simpatico Derby choice ever.

DanceWithFate2

That’s OK, though. Perhaps this is the right year to Dance With Fate instead.

blue. grass. bock. town.

I’m not sure that John Calipari’s system at Kentucky — grabbing a bunch of talented one-and-done freshmen in hopes that he can cobble together a solid team in time for a March run — is good for college basketball. And I know for certain that it wasn’t good for nearly every single person who entered the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

But it has worked out well for Bill, my colleague who was the one NAUCNFFC contestant to pick the Wildcats to win the tournament. As it turns out, Bill doesn’t even need Calipari to win on Monday night; by virtue of the fact that he was THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CONTEST TO CORRECTLY PICK  A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PARTICIPANT, he’s already got more points than the rest of us. And there’s nothing any of the rest of us can do to catch him.

To be more specific: Bill picked up two points from Kentucky when the Wildcats made the Final Four. He grabbed another four when UK beat Wisconsin on Saturday and he could win another six if his father’s Cats win the title.

The rest of us? We shouldn’t be mad at Kentucky. We should be mad at Florida. Nineteen of us picked the Gators to at least make the championship game on Monday, and most of those guys picked Florida to win it all. So when the Gators gagged against UConn, the contest was over for just about everyone.

Honorable mentions? Sure. Even though the points don’t reflect it, our clear runner up was Barb, who would have been our winner had Wisconsin beaten UK in the Saturday’s semi-final game. With Florida out, NAUCNFFC (BTYBB) came down to that game, and Barb was a last-second missed shot away from her second AUCNFFC championship.

And shouldn’t forget Aunt Annoyed Angel, Sports Chump, HP and Jenny. That anyone — much less four of us — managed to find four points in the toughest AUCNFFC ever is remarkable. Nice work by you.

But as always, NAUCNFFC is a winner-take-all deal, and it is Bill who has earned this year’s $30 Bocktown gift card. Congratulations to him.

And to everyone who entered — thank you once again for playing along. Be sure to try again next year. We’re going to make sure the prizes for the Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) are even more fabulous than usual.

wreckage.

 I’m accustomed to writing posts about the smoking carnage that is the brackets of my AUCNFFC contestants at this point of the tournament. And the brackets of those entered in the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) are no different.

Well, actually, they are. If it wasn’t for the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, Florida, advancing to the Final Four, I would be writing about what would likely be the worst set of initial AUCNFFC standings ever. And even with the Gators advancing, as so many of you predicted, our anticipated dancing partners failed to join them.

Because we now have a Final Four, we now have standings. And they’re not especially pretty. In fact, none of us — none of the 40 of us — managed to correctly pick more than two of the Final Four teams. There is a huge knot of people with two points and the possibility of gaining more — but because nearly all of those folks picked Florida, they have no hope of catching the few who picked the Gators and another of the Final Four teams correctly. We have a couple people whose picks could make things interesting — and yes, we have a healthy number Blutarskys (we’ll get to them in a little bit).

Your standings:

Four points (two correct Final Four picks):

  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Sports Chump
  • Hellpellet
  • Jenny

These guys are in the driver’s seat. If Florida wins the tournament, it’ll come down to the tiebreakers these guys submitted when they entered. And no, there are no matching tiebreakers this year. And if Florida loses and UConn wins, these guys still have a lead that should be tough to overcome.

Two points (the outliers):

  • Barb
  • Bill

There are a ton of contestants that earned two points and have the possibility of more, but Barb and Bill are in a group of their own. Barb is the only one of us to pick Wisconsin to win the title and Bill was the only one to pick Kentucky. I haven’t done the math, but I’d guess that if either the Badgers or the Wildcats wins the title, there isn’t anything the rest of us could do to catch them.

Two points (with the possibility of more):

  • My mom
  • Casey
  • Terry Coyne
  • Bluzdude
  • Dish
  • Foodcollage
  • Tim
  • J.D.
  • Megan
  • Shane
  • Eric
  • Patrick
  • Scooter
  • Neilson
  • Otimemore

With the exception of Otimemore, you guys all have something in common — you all picked Florida to win, and the Gators were your only correct Final Four pick. But even if you’re right, you’re not going to catch AAA, Sports Chump, Hellpellet or Jenny. And while Otimemore picked Florida to advance to the title game (thus giving him the possibility for more points) he had them losing in the title game to Arizona.

Two (and done):

  • Crappydad
  • Dana Bee
  • Curl Girl Michelle
  • Father Spoon
  • Kristen
  • Tom
  • Doctor Lunchbox

Thanks for playing, guys. Hope to see you back here next year.

And that leaves us with the special members of the group, the ones who couldn’t muster a single correct pick in this year’s tournament. If you’re a new AUCNFFC player, you may not be familiar with the term “Blutarsky.” But it’s likely you do recall the scene in Animal House when members of the Delta house visit the office of Dean Wormer to discuss the mid-term grades of the fraternity’s members. And it’s probably likely that you remember what the dean says to John Belushi’s character — because the words, at this point, are immortal.

“MISTER Blutarsky…”

This year’s Blutarsky Award recipients:

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • Gina
  • Chachi
  • Pghrugbyref
  • Trailion (and Evan)
  • RPM
  • Kewyson
  • Carla
  • Grandpa Caldwell
  • Juan

Thanks for your participation, my fellow Blutarskys. I have two suggestions: 1) Next year, go with the chalk, and 2) Be nice to this year’s winner — maybe they’ll invite you to dinner at Bocktown. That’s my plan, anyway.

thanks, dayton.

One of these years, I will learn this lesson: chalk pays.

Sure, I loved hassling those who entered the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) without taking any risks. But this year especially, those who did are sitting pretty.

Because I don’t start awarding points until we get down to the Final Four, I won’t have any actual standings until after this weekend’s games — but that didn’t stop me from taking a quick look just to see how everyone is doing. This is not an especially deep examination — I don’t look at whether both of your championship teams are available, for example — but we can still get a decent idea of who’s still alive and who is struggling.

All four alive (pretty much self explanatory):

  • Crappydad
  • My mom
  • Casey
  • Hellpellet
  • Foodcollage
  • J.D.
  • Megan
  • Shane
  • Patrick
  • Scooter
  • Neilson
  • Doctor Lunchbox

Three plus (You have three of your four alive, including your championship pick):

  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Otimemore
  • Sports Chump
  • Curl Girl Michelle
  • Barb
  • The Mysterious Terry Coyne
  • Bluzdude
  • Father Spoon
  • Trailion/Evan
  • Dish
  • Carla
  • Jenny
  • Bill
  • Eric
  • Kewyson

Two plus (You’ve lost half of your picks, but your champ is still alive):

  • Gina
  • Tim
  • Grandpa Caldwell

Blutarsky potential (No more than two picks left, and your champ is done):

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • Dana Bee
  • Chachi
  • Pghrugbyref
  • RPM
  • Kristen
  • Juan

That’s a whole mess of NAUCNFFC contestants who have a solid chance at our Bocktown gift card, boys and girls. Regardless of where you stand, I hope yinz enjoy the games this weekend.