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glory days.

Fun NCAA tournament fact: The last time a 13 seed advanced to the tournament’s Sweet 16 was 2012 — when the Ohio Bobcats shocked Michigan in the first round and continued to advance.

The Bobcats’ seed this year? They’re a 13. Look out, Virginia.

Am I suggesting that you pick OU in your entry to Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*)? Ah, probably not — fandom and gambling are different things, and the contest isn’t called Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Sweet Sixteen Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*), because hooboy that would be a lot of extra work for me.

I am suggesting, however, that you make sure you have your FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) picks in soon. Remember: It’s easy. Give me — via the social media messaging channel of your preference — your final four, your championship game contestants and your national champion. Remember also: It costs you zero American dollars to enter. Remember also also: The winner will get a $50 gift card from the legendary Piper’s Pub.

To recap:

  • Free.
  • Easy.
  • Deadline is noon Friday.
  • Fifty bucks at Piper’s for the winner.
  • Picking the Bobcats to win the whole thing probably wouldn’t be smart.

let’s get started.

My Bobcats are dancing. My Buckeyes — who are at this moment erasing a 17-point deficit against Illinois in the B1G title game — will be dancing as well. I don’t know what will happen with that game, but I know this: Not too long after it’s over, we’re going get our first look at the NCAA tournament field.

And that, boys and girls, means I’ll be ready to accept your entries for the Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*).

But Uncle Crappy, you ask, I’m not totally clear on how FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) works, especially since you haven’t managed to hold these in consecutive years since like 2015.

OK, smartass. Here’s how it’s done.

Find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) right now. Fill it out.

You don’t need to submit to me the entire thing; in fact, I’d rather you didn’t. What I do need is your picks for the Final Four, the championship game and the eventual champion. Here’s a purely hypothetical example of what an entry from this year’s bracket could look like (Note 1: This is NOT my entry. Note 2: These are among the lowest seeds in the tournament; if you want to make this your entry, feel free, but do so understanding the risk of being Blutarskied):

Final Four: Cleveland State vs. Appalachian State; Loyola-Chicago vs. Iona

Championship game: Cleveland State vs. Iona

Champion: Cleveland State (71-65)

How do I figure out who wins? You get two points for picking a correct Final Four team, four points for a correct semi-finalist and six points for a correct national championship pick. Assuming I can add correctly (and there is no guarantee of that, boys and girls), the entry with the highest point total is our winner.

And yes, there is a tie-breaker and, yes, as we’ve seen several times, tiebreakers are important. When you submit your pick, please also include your projected score for the championship game. If it’s necessary, the entry whose total score is closest to the real thing will be our winner. Note: We do NOT follow the Price Is Right rule; the closest total, over or under, wins.

And the usual reminders:

  • There is no entry fee.
  • I need your picks (via Twitter, FB, text, email or any other communication method available) by noon Friday.
  • We’re playing for a $50 gift card from Piper’s Pub (or, if you’re out of town, plain old fifty American dollars).
  • This is the easiest hoops pool you’ll enter all year.

My Buckeyes are making it a game. We’ll know the tournament field in about an hour from right now, And. Officially. FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) entries are open. I hope to hear from you soon.

we pretty much gotta, right?

Wanna know what age can do to a person? A couple weeks ago I mentioned to Mrs. Crappy that I was considering the resurrection of AUCNFFC this year. As we chatted about this, we tried to remember what year it would be, which eventually turned into this issue: Neither of us could remember why I didn’t do the pool last spring.

Hey. It’s not nice to laugh at old people.

Anyway. March madness is back. So let’s do this. Here, boys and girls, is your formal announcement of the Fourteenth Kind Of Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*), or what we’ll refer to as FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*).

If you’ve done this before you know the drill. And if you haven’t (or if you need a refresher)? I present … the drill:

  • Once the tournament field is set on Sunday, find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) right now. Print it and fill it out, using whatever method you prefer.
  • After consulting your bracket, pick the four teams — one from each region — that you think will win the regional championships and travel to the Final Four in Indy.
  • After consulting your bracket again, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 3.
  • Consult your bracket once more, and pick the team from your semi-finalists who will win the title game April 5.
  • How do I figure out who wins? You get two points for picking a correct Final Four team, four points for a correct semi-finalist and six points for a correct national championship pick. Assuming I can add correctly (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), the entry with the highest point total is our winner.
  • Yes, there is a tie-breaker and, yes, as we’ve seen several times, tiebreakers are important. When you submit your pick, please also include your projected score for the championship game. If it’s necessary, the entry whose total score is closest to the real thing will be our winner. Note: We do NOT follow the Price Is Right rule; the closest total, over or under, wins.

Still confused? I’ll be back on Monday with examples, along with a series of nagging posts to make sure I get as many entries as possible. Until then, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • One thing to make sure you don’t do: Send me money to enter. As has always been the case, FKOAUCNFFC (BTYBPP*) is free.
  • In the first four years of the contest, we were competing for cheesy trinkets and I usually included a disclaimer that our FABULOUS PRIZES weren’t actually fabulous. And then Chris at Bocktown Beer and Grill blew that out of the water by putting up a gift card to the contest’s winner. As my beloved Bocktowns have since closed, I am once again putting up a similarly Actually Fabulous Prize — a $50 gift card at Piper’s Pub, on Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side. And I make this promise without actually knowing whether Piper’s will continue to offer gift cards in the aftertimes. Whatever. We’ll figure it out. And to be clear about that asterisk in the title: It is meant to serve as a reminder that this whole shebang is funded by me.
  • Note: If you’re an out-of-town contestant, you may opt for the equivalent cash value of the gift card, which is, uh, approximately $50.
  • The tournament’s real games (the ones that used to be called the first-round games) get underway around noon Eastern on Friday, March 19 (yes, you read that correctly — Friday); I’m not a huge stickler, but I’ll need to have your entries by noonish that day for you to be eligible (see the Melo Rule below).
  • How do you enter? Comment. Email. Twitter. DM. Text. Facebook. Carrier pigeon. Please feel free adding whatever commentary you wish regarding how you arrived at your picks; each entry will be listed in a comprehensive post that’ll show up at some point Thursday, not unlike this example from 2019.

And finally, the fine-printy things:

The Juan Rule: As is tradition, Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge, will once again be entered against his will, using either the Phil’s Mom Method or, if Phil’s mom isn’t picking this year, the Penny-Flipping Method.

The Melo Rule: Should an unforeseen thing happen with a player, a coach or a booster that might, in your opinion, have an impact on your already-completed entry, fear not. You may tinker as much as you like until I close the entries at noon on the tournament’s opening day.

The Crappy Rule: If I were to come out on top of my own contest (and believe me, boys and girls, there is very little chance of that happening), the Piper’s gift card would be awarded to the next runner up (although I retain full bragging rights, which I would exercise almost daily). Mrs. Crappy, should she remember to get her entry in on time, does her own work and is therefore eligible to win the Piper’s gift card (as long as she uses it to take me to dinner).

To summarize:

  • Free.
  • Easy.
  • Deadline is noon Friday.
  • Fifty bucks at Piper’s for the winner.

Have any questions? Let me know. Otherwise, good luck to everyone — especially me Mrs. Crappy.

woooo, cross-promotion.

Thing you guys already know: I am a college football freak.

True, my freakishness is a bit myopic, in that nearly all of it is filtered through the lens of Ohio State football and what everything might mean for the Buckeyes. But that doesn’t diminish my freakdom, and it doesn’t mean I can’t sit in front of a TV for 12 hours on a fall Saturday, trying not to sprain my remote-changing thumb.

I’ve written about college football stuff here for years, and I’ve written about it elsewhere as well, mostly for the now-defunct Draft Day Suit blog. And that … led to this:

CnClogo

Let’s back up. I had been contributing to DDS for a while when we started kicking around ways to add different kinds of media to the lineup; one natural was to get together a weekly video chat where we could make NFL picks. They were fun, pretty good and the source of perhaps my greatest moment of football punditry, when early in the 2012 season I told Goon Squad Sarah that third-round pick Russell Wilson would be a better NFL quarterback than second overall pick RGIII. I will never tire of reminding pretty much everyone how right I was about that.

At some point during that season, my friend and former colleague Carla — who was not only a DDS contributor but also an actual sportswriter at the time — decided to branch out into picking college games. As I recall, the first season — and probably the subsequent two or three — were a bit erratic; we didn’t do shows every week and we didn’t really settle on a format for a long time. But there we were, posting the vids from our chats on the blog and on the socials.

As we went through subsequent seasons, we took gradual steps towards something that one could almost call “polished.” The above logo (which was all Carla’s doing). Consistent naming and format conventions. A Facebook page. And, as of 2017, an audio version — I believe the kids call it a podcast — that posted to iTunes and a whole bunch of other places. We’ve even added a correspondent — hi, AJ! — who gives us a rundown of the stupid fun Group of Five games I’m too old to stay up and watch.

We’re now in our eighth season. And I bring up the show here because we’re actually having a pretty good season so far. The format is solid, we have some fun little things we do each week and — somewhat oddly — we’ve actually been pretty good with our picks. And while I don’t want to speak for Carla, it feels like a lot of fun this time around, even after we spent the month of August boggling at the notion that we’d been doing this for eight years.

Look. This is a little show. I’m sure it’s mostly friends and family who are listening. And hey — that’s you guys. If you’re of a like mind as far as college football goes, give us a listen.

the good old days.

IMG_4922

Fall used to be a lot busier than it is these days.

For most of the last two decades, about half of our fall weekends were spent driving to Columbus, prepping a tailgate party for somewhere between 10 and 20 people, going to Ohio State’s home game and then coming home on Sunday. For several of those years, we would get home just in time for me to turn around and drive to work for my regular Sunday night shift.

It was a blast. And even when we were in our early forties, it was exhausting. And now that it’s ten years later? It would be impossible.

For me, there was a turning point a few years ago, with a game against, I think, a directional Florida. It was early September and stinking hot, as Columbus can be. It also rained all the way through tailgate “party,” which mostly consisted of us huddled under a canopy, eating soggy food and trying keep rain out of our beers. And when the rain ended, it didn’t help — it just made it feel even more humid.

There was talk among the adults initially — even in my mid-40s at that point, I am not one of the adults — and several decided they were going to do the comfortable thing: Go home and watch on TV. At that point, I was pretty hardcore — even leaving the game early was something you just did not do; skipping a game entirely was out of the question.

But once the sweat became so profuse that I could feel it running down my back, I started listening: Air conditioning. Cold beer. No lines for food or bathrooms. A 70-inch television, comfortable chairs and no danger (well, not much) that someone would dump a gallon of Diet Coke down my back.

OK. I relented. And it was awfully nice.

With the exception of the mostly-annual big deal non-conference game or the home opener, the September games were the first to go. They generally didn’t mean much, and Columbus can be as hot in September as it is in July.

Next, we started paring back on the not-as-big-deal Big Ten games. You know the ones — they would be historic upsets if they happened (and they occasionally did), and who wants to brag about watching Illinois upsetting Ohio State in Cbus in 2007?

(Spoiler alert: We were there. BUT I’M NOT BRAGGING.)

Once my folks made the decision to stop going to games, this became a bit easier. We had one season, two years ago, when we had four seats together, and four of us made it to a few games that season together — and they were awesome. But there were only a couple of them, and realistically, it was too much of a chore for my folks to get into the stadium, deal with the crowd and still be able to enjoy — or even see — the game.

I’m not at all suggesting that they are responsible for this change. It was part of it, but we’re getting old too. And when we were able to do a full weekend, we were exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday.

So we don’t do it. And life is better. We did four home games last year, and we’re about to go to our second of four this season. Mom and dad still love the tailgate parties — so do we — and we’ll have four good ones in 2019. They go home and watch on TV, and we go inside the Shoe and see some college football that many fans would kill to see live.

I haven’t made too many concessions to my 52-year-old self yet, but this one has been good. And I still get to see Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State, have great tailgate parties with the Killer Nuts Tailgating group that’s been doing this for 20 years — and I don’t feel like I’m doing to die by the time December begins.