Monday, November 29, 2010

After Adding TCU, Will the Big East Now Split In Two?

TCU announced today that it was leaving the Mountain West Conference for the Big East. Makes sense because nothing says "East" like Texas (or Louisville, Marquette, DePaul).

The move gives the conference a rising football power ... making it a 9-team football conference. It also makes the hoops side of things a 17-team conference where everyone will play each other once and every team gets two "repeat games". The Big East also extended a invite for Villanova to move their football program up from FCS to become the 10th football member (Nova is already a member in all other sports).

With the conference ballooning up to ridiculous heights, will a break up of the Big East happen? After all, with football running things there is no reason for many of the schools to keep carrying the others.

With TCU in the fold, the football members would be smart to break off into their own conference (TCU, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Louisville). That would leave the non-football members (Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette and DePaul) to hold their own hoops conference.

Those football schools don't really need the others. In fact, aside from losing Nova and G'town (Marquette and Notre Dame would be marginal losses), the football schools actually make up a more powerful hoops conference. Syracuse, UConn and Louisville have all won National Championships over the last 25 years while Pitt, West Virginia and Cincinnati have been powerhouses during that span. Rutgers is becoming more of a force leaving only TCU and South Florida as the only "bottom feeders".

Not like the non-football schools. Sure St. John's is trying to turn around their fortunes. So is DePaul and Seton Hall. But aside from losing New York City as the epicenter of the conference (which they still could host their tournament there with Rutgers still around), is there any other real loss?

Maybe. Notre Dame has a big national following. You would also lose the Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Chicago and Milwaukee markets ... something the Big East really doesn't want to give up. But maybe they all work something out and just have two separate "divisions" in the Big East Conference ... similar to how the NFC and AFC work in the NFL. They have their own divisions and do their thing but also can play some games against teams in the other division. Breaking up from a hoops standpoint doesn't make total sense.

But if there is anything we've learned about this conference realignment is that basketball doesn't matter. After all, why in the hell would TCU want to go to the Big East? Recruiting? TV exposure? The great basketball tradition? No, they want to go there so they can whip the other schools in football and have an easier time to a BCS game. I mean, TCU had to be PERFECT to get into a BCS bowl this year. Meanwhile, a mediocre UConn team could be the representative from the Big East in a BCS bowl.

Football drives this all. So it wouldn't surprise me to see the football schools leave the others behind.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Neilsen

Word just came that Leslie Neilsen has passed away. The world got just a bit less funnier.

Older cats knew Neilsen as a serious actor. Anyone under 40 knows that he starred in some of the funniest goofy comedies of the last 30 years.

This is a sports blog, but this is sort of a sports topic. After all, Neilsen starred in The Naked Gun films which also starred NFL legend O.J. Simpson. The first of the trilogy ended at a Mariners-Angels game where Neilsen sang the National Anthem, then was the home plate umpire then stopped Reggie Jackson from killing the Queen.

The Naked Gun movies were taken from the TV show Police Squad (if you don't know, go to netflix and check them out), and while many of the same gags appear in both places, both were hilarious in their own right.

My favorite Leslie Neilsen movie is Airplane! . I don't ever remember NOT knowing every line of that movie. The greatest gift Neilsen had was the fact he could play extremely straight and the comedy just launched all around him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are We Going to Enter Another Era Of Multi-Purpose Stadiums?

If you are in your mid-30s ... like me ... you remember the days where your local baseball team and football team shared the same stadium. The baseball experience gave us more foul ground and less fan interference. The football experience gave us funky site lines and blown knees.

We may have to get used to seeing that again. Maybe sooner than you think.

In our current economic climate, cities may look at getting more out of their stadiums. Last week, Wrigley Field (built nearly 100 years ago) hosted the Illinois-Northwestern football game. That night, New Yankee Stadium hosted Notre Dame-Army and will host the Pinstripe Bowl this winter.

While it isn't co-tenetcy (sorry if that's not a word) in the old fashioned sense, it is providing new revenue for an expensive lot just sitting around doing nothing. Right now, only two stadiums are homes to both an NFL team and an MLB team: Oakland Coliseum (Raiders, Athletics) and Dolphin Stadium (Dolphins, Marlins).

Back in the day, this was the norm:

-Three Rivers Stadium housed the Steelers and Pirates
-Riverfront Stadium housed the Bengals and Reds
-Shea Stadium housed the Jets and Mets
-Astrodome housed the Oilers and Astros
-Memorial Coliseum housed the Browns and Indians
-Memorial Stadium housed the Colts and Orioles
-Jack Murphy Stadium housed the Chargers and Padres
-Mile High Stadium housed the Broncos and briefly the Rockies.
-Veterans Stadium housed the Eagles and Phillies
-Metrodome housed the Vikings and Twins
-Fulton County Stadium housed the Falcons and Braves
-Kingdome housed the Seahawks and Mariners
-Candlestick Park housed the Niners and Giants
-Busch Stadium housed the both the football and baseball Cardinals
-Anaheim Stadium housed the Rams and Angels

That doesn't even take account stadiums like RFK, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park or many of the really old digs that were NFL, AFL and baseball homes.

Of those 14 stadiums listed above, only Jack Murphy Stadium (now Qualcomm), Metrodome and Candlestick Park still operate as either an NFL or MLB stadium. The rest have been replaced by two brand new stadiums.

-Pittsburgh built Heinz Field and PNC Park
-Cincinnati built Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark
-New York built New Meadowlands Stadium and CitiField
-Houston built Reliant Stadium and Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park)
-Cleveland built Browns Stadium and Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field)
-Baltimore built Ravens Stadium (now M&T Bank) and Oriole Park
-San Diego built PetCo Park.
-Denver built Invesco Field and Coors Field
-Philadelphia built Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park
-Minneapolis built Target Field
-Atlanta built Georgia Dome and Turner Field
-Seattle built Qwest Field and SafeCo Field
-San Francisco built Pac-Bell (now AT&T) Park
-St. Louis built TWA Dome (now Edward Jones) and New Busch Stadium

I doubt that we will see anything like that again and certainly not soon. Every city that has both a baseball and football team has a relatively new stadium that doesn't need replaced. But would a city ... especially a smaller market ... consider down the road building a multi-purpose stadium to save costs?

Until then, we may see some more college football games in baseball stadiums. College football could be the driving force behind what stadiums decide to do. Not only is Yankee Stadium hosting a bowl, but so does AT&T Park, Tropicana Field and Sun Life Stadium. Twelve NFL stadiums will host 15 bowl games this winter (University of Phoenix Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium and Superdome host two apiece).

Niche games like the ones played at Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium could be more attractive. It's worked in the NHL where baseball stadiums have hosted the Winter Classic hockey game on New Year's Day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The End Of An Era In Several Conferences

Here we are right after Thanksgiving and there is a bit of nosalgia about college football. Not so much that we are in rivalry mode ... but the fact that several of the conferences we know will be altered quite a bit next year.

The most notable was the Nebraska-Colorado game. Both were playing in their final Big XII game as both will peel off to other conferences next year. Nebraska heads to the Big Ten; Colorado heads to the Pac-10.

The Big Ten will have 12 teams and employ a divisional format that could stop some of the most historic rivalries in the sport (some of these teams have played nearly every year for a century). Colorado ... along with the Mountain West's Utah ... will move out west and turn the Pac-10 into the Pac-12. Just like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 will split into two divisions and break up the schools.

Obviously that means the Big XII will return just ten members next year. So next week's Big XII championship game will be the last one ... of course, until they decide to add more teams down the road. Next year, the Big XII will have a true round robin in the schedule and everyone will play everyone else every year.

That's really all of the BCS conferences right now, but the two other major conferences -- the WAC and Mountain West -- will be drastically altered. The Mountain West loses Utah to the Pac-12, remember, and will lose BYU as they become an independant in football and a member of the West Coast Conference in other sports. The leaves the current 9-team MWC with just 7 teams.

The WAC will lose a lot to the Mountain West. Boise State was/is the first to leave the WAC for the MWC and will be the 8th member of the conference in 2011. Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada will all join in 2012, giving the conference 11 members. Hawaii isn't a given yet, but if they do join it will be in football only. No word if the MWC will go after a 12th team to get a championship game (Utah State?).

With the currently 9-member WAC losing Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State (and probably Hawaii) to the Mountain West, it would leave the WAC with just five members. To get at eight teams, the WAC reached down quite a few pegs to bring up Denver, Tx-San Antonio and Texas State.

Most of that won't happen until 2012 ... and most of you won't notice. Still, it is quite a sad and still exciting time to see the college football landscape change like this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stop Making NFL's Western Teams Play 1:00 Games

One of my pet peeves in the NFL scheduling is the fact that they keep scheduling western teams to play at eastern time zone teams in the 1:00 game.

Two years ago when I was working for AOL's FanHouse, I posted that NFL's western teams struggle when playing those games. In that post, those western teams were 0-12 (I'm not going back to see how it all ended up). Two years later, it is still the case.

This is the teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones (Broncos, 49ers, Raiders, Cardinals, Seahawks and Chargers) playing teams in the Eastern time zone at 1:00pm ET. That means they are playing at 10am/11am local time. That's rough for a team that spends most of its season on the left coast.

There is less of a sample this year than in years past. The NFC West play the AFC West in the cross-conference scheduling format so any eastern games are limited to conference games. So far, there have been six that have been scheduled at 1pm:

Broncos at Jaguars
Broncos at Niners (in London)
Cardinals at Falcons
Raiders at Steelers
Niners at Falcons
Niners at Panthers

They are 0-6 in those games. Well, 1-6 if you count the fact that it was the Niners that beat the Broncos in London ... but then it isn't really a fair variable since both teams were western teams and one of them had to win.

So when a western team plays a 1pm ET game in the eastern time zone ... they are 0-5.

You could point to several reasons for this. Sure, the AFC and NFC West are probably the two worst divisions in the NFL ... and that doesn't factor in Central Time Zone teams like the Rams or Chiefs. You could say that most of the teams they have played were against teams among the league's elite (Steelers, Falcons). But how does that explain the Niners losing in Carolina to the Panthers? That one win could be the only one Carolina gets all year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is the Vince Young Era Over in Tennessee?

Vince Young left the 19-16 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins with an injured thumb. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher says that even if the thumb is fine, Young is no longer the starter.

Sounds kind of harsh, eh?

Well, not when you hear that when Young was finally shut down for the game (he was trying to get back in), he threw his shoulder pads up into the stands, came back out in street clothes and then bolted the team early and went home.

Fisher, at the post game press conference, said that there was no excuse for Young's actions and that he won't be the starter next week.

With the history of bad leadership from Young in Tennessee, is it time for them to cut bait and move on?

Shouldn't NASCAR's Finale Be a Demolition Derby?

Today is the final race in the NASCAR season (not too much longer before the first race of next season). Right now, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are in the running to take home the Sprint Cup championship. It's the first time the title has been up in the air since NASCAR when to the Chase format in 2004. Should be great racing.

Now, I'm not a racing guy so forgive me if this sounds dumb. But why is NASCAR more about "I" then "team"? I mean, why do they have "teams" but NASCAR is telling everyone to let the race happen?

I mean ... duh. NASCAR can't have a demolition derby where Hamlin's, Johnson's and Harvick's teammates take out their competitors. It's not good for the sport nor is it good for the TV viewing audience. After all, Johnson and Harvick would have their teammates try and take out Hamlin in the very first lap if they were smart. That's what a good teammate would do.

In hockey, those guys are called enforcers. They used to have them in basketball (some still exist). In baseball, you get "purpose pitches" to send a message. We have various defensive players ... and Hines Ward ... who get excited about knocking someone out of a game.

If NASCAR has teams, then why aren't they allowed to use them? I mean, what's the point of having teams? I know, it's stupid.

Granted, NASCAR is actually more worried about a teammate "letting" one of the drivers finish ahead of them in order to have a better shot at the Cup Championship. If Dale Earnhardt Jr is up at the front of the pack, why wouldn't he help teammate Johnson by blocking out the others in the Chase and letting Johnson pass him by?

And what if a teammate doesn't care about NASCAR's demands and does take someone out? What would NASCAR really do? Fine the team? Well, you'd have to prove that it wasn't an accident ... and even if you do, are you going to actually rip the title out of someone's hands? You can't really deduct points from the winner if he had nothing to do with the wreck.

It's unlikely, though it is interesting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What If the BCS ran other sports?

Ya know, maybe the BCS isn't the worst thing in sports. Maybe it is just so revolutionary that we just can't grasp the entire concept. I mean, why doesn't it just be mandatory in all sports?

I mean, we would have had a Rays-Phillies World Series that certainly would have better ratings than the Giants-Rangers series. No playoffs, just straight to the World Series.

We may as well go ahead place Duke in the NCAA championship. It will fun to see who they might face. It certainly wouldn't be Butler, since they are outsiders and shouldn't get a shot at a title. I mean, winning the Horizon League isn't impressive at all.

Over in the NFL, who knows? There are about 10 teams that have a shot at winning the Super Bowl. Eagles? Patriots? Giants? Saints? Jets? Colts? Packers? Falcons? It would be a mess trying to sort that out but the BCS always picks the best matchup of the most deserving team.

Man, just imagine how much easier sports would be if the BCS just put the Lakers-Heat/Celtics series we all know is going to happen.

Even if it really doesn't.

No more NFL playoffs, no League Championship Series, no Stanley Cup playoffs and no NCAA Tournament.

Just imagine how great all sports would be if we didn't have those things!

**This message brought to you by Sarcasm**

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blazers: NBA's Snake Bitten Franchise

This week, it was revealed that Brandon Roy has bad knees that will most likely plague his promising career. Just another twist of bad luck for a snake-bitten franchise.

The Portland Trail Blazers are not the LA Clippers. They are not the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are not even the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Blazers have a World Championship under their belt and have been to two more Finals.

But it could have been so much better.

Portland has had the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft four times. Each time, they selected a center. Only one has worked out. That would be Bill Walton, who led the Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship.

The next season after Portland rushed out to a 50-10 start, Walton hurt his foot. Due to what he deemed as poor medical treatment, he demanded a trade out of the Pacific Northwest. And the would-be-dynasty was over.

Their other top picks haven't worked. In 1972, two years before the franchise drafted Walton, they selected LaRue Martin with the top overall pick. He was selected before future Hall Of Famers Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving. Martin played just four seasons and averaged 5.3 ppg.

In 1978, Minnesota's Mychal Thompson would be selected first overall by Portland (Larry Bird would be selected a few picks later). Thompson did okay in Portland, but was dealt to the Spurs after eight seasons. He would later be dealt to the Lakers and helped them to back-to-back championships.

The other top selection was, of course, Greg Oden in 2007. Oden missed what would have been his rookie season with a knee injury. Since then, he's barely shown an ability to stay healthy or to be dominant. It stings even more when a guy named Kevin Durant was selected directly after him.

Sam Bowie wasn't the top overall pick ... but he is regarded as one of the worst draft picks in history. Bowie was selected with the second pick in the 1984 draft -- one spot ahead of Michael Jordan. Charles Barkley and John Stockton was also selected in that draft.

But that isn't all. How about paying for Moses Malone in the ABA-NBA dispersal draft ... then dealing him away for a draft pick. Malone would go on to a Hall of Fame career, winning three MVP awards and one championship.

In 1986, the Blazers selected USSR's Arvydas Sabonis in the draft. He would make his debut in Portland nine years later. The team drafted Jermaine O'Neal in 1996, only to rarely play him and then dump him off before he had an All Star career.

The Blazers are also the franchise that had to deal with the "Jail Blazers" era, as well as dumping Darius Miles due to what they thought was a career ending injury. Miles came back from his injury and, in doing so, became a huge salary cap albatross to the Blazers (even though he was playing with the Grizzlies).

In 2005, the Blazers took Deron Williams with the third pick in the draft. They immediately dealt him to Utah for the draft rights to Martell Webster.

The Roy injury stings just because it may finally dawn on everyone that the Blazers may truly be cursed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NFL Firings: Who's Next?

We had our first firing of the season when Dallas canned Wade Phillips. That means one less head on the chopping block. So which coaches should keep an eye out for a pink slip?

1-BRAD CHILDRESS (VIKINGS): How Chili hasn't been canned yet is almost a miracle. No coach has had a worse season than him. He cow-towed to Brett Favre, then seems to dis him at every turn. The team has greatly underperformed. The Randy Moss fiasco should have finalized it. This could seemingly happen any day now.

2-JOSH MCDANIELS (BRONCOS): After starting 6-0, McDaniels' Broncos have been 4-14. He ran both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of town and his reign in Denver has been close to a disaster.

3-JOHN FOX (PANTHERS): Fox is a dead man walking in Carolina. He's run his course in Charlotte. With Bill Cowher on everyone's mind, this will be all but inevitable.

4-MARVIN LEWIS (BENGALS): I doubt that Lewis will technically be fired. He's in the final year of his contract and the Bengals will most likely wait until the end of the season to move on.

5-MIKE SINGLETARY (49ERS): A season filled with so much promise has turned sour. His "rat" rant showed everyone that he's losing it.

6-GARY KUBIAK (TEXANS): I doubt he'd be fired during the season, but I'm one of those people who are really disappointed in Houston. To have Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and all that talent on defense and still sitting in last place in the AFC South doesn't make sense. At 4-4, the Texans are at their usual mediocre spot.

The Cowboys Should NOT Have Fired Wade Phillips ... Now

Okay, okay, okay! Yeah, I'm a Redskins fan and of course I'm going to say that the Dallas Cowboys should not have fired Wade Phillips at the midpoint of the season. I mean, what Skins fan wouldn't want a few more years of this???

But in all seriousness, I don't think that Phillips should have been fired. Right now. Oh, fire him at the end of the season if you want ... but let him play out the string. I really think Jerry Jones wanted to do that. But back to back blowouts to the Jaguars and Packers pushed Jones over the edge and he did what he swore he wouldn't do -- fire Phillips.

The problem is that firing NFL coaches mid-season rarely amounts to anything.

It can work in baseball or even basketball. We've seen baseball skippers get canned during the year and the interim manager rallies the team into a pennant race. In basketball, a change at the guard sometimes can pay off (just ask Pat Riley). But it doesn't really work in football (just ask Mike Singletary). It hasn't really worked since Marty Schottenheimer took over the Browns in the middle of the 1984 season.

There's a lot of reasons why it doesn't work ... but the main one to me is that you rarely can bring in a guy you really want to take his place. It is usually an assistant coach that takes over and, due to the limited time, actually stays the course with the team and adds in just a few wrinkles. You won't get a big name coach to take the reigns in the middle of a season.

That's why you may as well keep your coach intact unless you really, really, really believe in the assistant you are replacing him with (this could happen in Minnesota as the team may want to keep Leslie Frasier in house).

A few years ago, you knew that Jason Garrett would take Phillips' job. You knew it. He was all but named Phillips' successor as soon as both of them were hired. But a lot of the problems with the Cowboys stem from both men and to fire one and promote the other seems rather odd.

The only way it could make sense is if Jones wants to see if Garrett has anything in him for the second half of the season and if he's worth hanging on to. If not, Jones can either let Garrett go, demote him back to offensive coordinator and hire the man he really wants to take the job.

Odds are, Garrett won't make a difference. And if he does get this team playing a bit better (like Singletary did), chances are it won't carry over down the road (like Singletary). Then you are back to square one. I mean, if Garrett was still thought of as highly as Jones did when he was hired, he would already have replaced Phillips in the last two offseasons.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Murder Suspect Arrested at Bobcats Game

Here is quite the story: a murder suspect was arrested during a Charlotte Bobcats game.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police captured the suspect during the Bobcats 91-88 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. Police arrested 24-year old Earle Barranco in one of the V.I.P. sections of Time Warner Cable Arena. Barranco is a suspect in a shooting at a New York City diner that ended in a death of a man two weeks ago.

Police say Barranco shot 28-year-old Corey Scott twice in the head and three times in the back after a confrontation at Good Stuff Diner on 14th Street in New York City, killing him instantly two weeks ago.

The New York Daily News reported that the shooting may have been sparked by a debt. Barranco and Scott knew each other.

Surveillance video taken from inside the diner shows Scott and several friends walking into the restaurant and confronting another group sitting in the back, the Daily News reported.
Barranco apparently had friends in Charlotte and was laying low with them. So going to an NBA game with 18,000 other people seems like a smart idea for a guy who is wanted for murder, right?

Are We Supposed To Make Everything Politically Correct?

ESPN's J.J. Adande wrote a very good piece about the whole Garnett/Villenueva war of words and how any use of the word "cancer" should be taken out of our metaphoric quotes. While I agree with him, I don't think it will happen. It hasn't yet. And it probably never will.

Cancer is a word that some people still whisper when saying it, lest they curse themselves with it. It is a horrible disease that just crushes lives.

But you know what else crushes lives? War.

The fact that we have yet to eliminate ... or even care to ... words that war brings us should show where we are in this discussion. Those words will last forever. Ever see how war can damage a person or an entire nation? It is one of mankind's most horrible capabilities, yet we don't have any problem throwing those terms around.

"It's a war out there", "blitz", "bomb", "shoot" and "battle" still are in our lexicon. Even words like "fore" and "caddie" have their roots in the military. "Dog fight" is still used even though it is both a war battle as well as the despicable act that imprisoned Michael Vick. Even other words, such as "killing" and "murdering" and "bloodshed", still have life.

Those will not go away. No matter how much you try, it won't. Just this morning, I heard Mitch Albom on ESPN's Sports Reporters say how Randy Moss was a locker room cancer ... which is usually how the term is used in sports and the manner Garnett says he used it.

Granted, we as a people have tried over the last 20 years to be a lot more careful in what words we do use. "Cancer" is one that does cause pain and should be removed, but we're not going to see that happen.

The fact that Garnett allegedly called Villanueva a "cancer patient" does need to go. There is no need for that. None. But no one is going to remove "he is a cancer to his team" from the sports world.

Monday, November 1, 2010

College Football: "Every Game Counts", My Butt!

I've said this before on this blog and I'll say it again: the BCS sucks! College football is fun to watch ... but the people who run it suck!

Today's sermon is about any college football honk's declaration of "the season is its own playoff". Get out of here with that crap! It isn't. Not in the slightest. In fact, more games DON'T count than do.

With the new BCS rankings out, one of the biggest benefactors was Alabama. Bama is the defending champion and probably the best team in the land. But they lost at South Carolina pretty handily. Meanwhile, Boise State, TCU and Utah are scrutinized by everyone for who they haven't played.

I'll admit: Alabama is most likely a better team than any three of those schools ... even if they had two regular season losses. But they shouldn't be National Champions ahead of those schools if they didn't follow your "every game counts" crap.

If "every game counts", they how can a one-loss Bama team get a shot at the title game ahead of an unbeaten TCU/Utah (these two play this Saturday giving one of them their first loss) or Boise State? If "every game counts", then Alabama's loss counts. I mean, isn't that like if Alabama played Boise in a playoff, Boise won, but they still advanced Alabama because ... well, they are really the better team?

Everyone with some sense (and who doesn't have their hand in the bowl money) knows that we need a college football playoff. As great a spectacle as college football is, it has the worst post season of anyone.

I mean, I love all the bowl games as much as the next guy and one of the few people that aren't completely put off by half the field getting bowl bids. Let these kids have their shine! But we must wait six weeks or so after the regular season ends to see the championship game. And don't give me "well, the NBA and NHL playoffs are nearly two months long" stuff because at least those teams in the Finals actually played games in the meantime.

But teams like Ohio State play their final regular season games before Thanksgiving ... then don't play again until the second week of January. It's ridiculous and even more of a sham to have your sport's title game happen between two teams that haven't played in such a long time.

Every game does not count. Just ask Boise State or TCU or Utah in a month.