16 November 2011

Hard to be patient with a team that gives up leads so easily

Not just San Jose State's football team, which gave up yet another opportunity to win last Saturday in Logan, losing to Utah State 34-33 and thus losing bowl eligibility (I'd rather there be a playoff system in college football a la the NCAA basketball tournament, but I'll save that for another blog).

In the meantime, SJSU basketball came off a very close 51-50 win in its home opener v UC Irvine. The win resulted from the referees deciding that a UC Irvine player didn't get a successful shot off his hands before the buzzer. A similar thing happened in SJSU's 75-74 WAC tournament win last season v Hawaii, as seen in this fan-created video (starting at the 1:25 mark)

Tonight, SJSU lost at the War Memorial Arena to San Francisco 83-81 in overtime. The Spartans rallied from a 20-8 deficit early in the 1st quarter to lead 37-35 at halftime. Then the Spartans had led as many as 8 for the majority of the 2nd half (similar to the previous game v UCI) before San Francisco rallied to force OT, tied 71 both. USF began OT with a 7-2 run. Finally, SJSU had the chance to tie or win with a three after USF's Cody Doolin missed both free throws. There were 7 seconds left. James Kinney (a transfer from the Mid-American Conference Ohio and then the jr. college Eastern Utah) tried a desperation half-court shot when he really could've gotten within reasonable range for a buzzer beater. No good. Although SJSU had a good defensive effort and Keith Shamburger once again showed his offensive talents--he even opened the 2nd half with two consecutive three-pointers--the team just found yet another way to give the game away in the last minute. A similar OT loss happened in Feb. 2011 v Nevada, except the loss was by 8.

San Jose State has yet to win on the road but has another opportunity Saturday night when the Spartans face cross-town rival Santa Clara. Unlike the past two games in which SJSU made less than 30% of field goals, tonight the Spartans made 48.5%. Because it's so early in the season, average statistics are not reliably predictable, as Santa Clara has a 39.1% FG average based on two lopsided games: 44.8% v the D-III UC Merced and 32.8% v the defending Big West champions UC Santa Barbara. SJSU's average, in contrast, so far is a measly 28%. The past two of SJSU's games were within close margins, while SJSU's opening game was a 79-52 loss to Cal Poly. On the individual player level, it appears that Santa Clara has the offensive advantage in its leading scorer. A comparison:
  • Keith Shamburger (SJSU) averages: 35 mins, 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 30% field goals made, 73.3% free throws, 22.2% 3-pointers. Committed 7 turnovers. Grabbed 5 rebounds, all defensive.
  • Kevin Foster (SCU): 21 mins, 14.5 points, 2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 33.3% field goals, 71.4% free throws, 28.6% 3-pointers. Committed 2 turnovers. Of 4 rebounds, 2 each in offense and defense.
But again, keep in mind that these statistics could be skewed in favor of SCU because the team played a D-III opponent for its first game. It's interesting to note that SJSU had better field goal and 3 point percentages in losing to USF than UCSB had winning over SCU:
  • Field goals: SJSU 48.5% v USF, UCSB 47.5% v SCU
  • 3 pointers: SJSU 35.7% v USF, UCBS 30.0% v SCU
San Jose State will have a truly competitive game against Santa Clara on Saturday night if the team improves on offense, most of all, and enforces the defense against the Broncos.

12 November 2011

Dear Brent Bozell, you're not entitled to have everyone respect your beliefs

Ah, Brent Bozell. The man who longs for the days when people would unquestionably submit to conservative Christianity and when TV was so squeaky-clean that CBS couldn't show Elvis shaking his hips. Now he's out with his latest "wah wah wah why won't the media respect my beliefs" column "The Anti-God Book, By 'God'":

Those prestigious publishers at Simon & Schuster selected All Saints Day to unleash the book world's latest attempt at mocking Christianity. It’s called "The Last Testament, by God."

The author is David Javerbaum, a top writer for 11 years for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, perhaps America's leading religion-hating TV network. Is it any surprise that the critics are loving it?

Publishers Weekly raves, "The Almighty opens up in this blithely blasphemous satire of monotheism." God, in this alleged autobiography, is "a complex, troubled Deity: vain, petulant, desperate for praise and burnt offerings, guiltily pensive in the after-wrath of unhinged smitings. Adherents of every Abrahamic faith will find plenty of hilarious, offensive manna for thought in these revelations." Kirkus Reviews bluntly adds, "Damned comical. Amen."

”Hilarious, offensive.” What they mean is that it’s hilarious because it’s offensive.

When has Bozell ever said that Rush Limbaugh is popular because he's offensive? It's true in a sense that Javerbaum's book is offensive to a certain segment of the US population, but keep in mind that fewer Americans choose to be religious in this age. Could it be why it's easier in the mainstream to mock religion? I thought that people like Bozell advocated free market economics (that's why he founded the Business and Media Institute as part of his right-wing Media Research Center).

Furthermore, Bozell neglects to mention Simon & Schuster's conservative imprint Sentinel that has published authors such as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Alfred Regnery.

When he criticized anti-Christian themes he perceived in the Showtime programs Dexter and Californication (keep in mind that Showtime is a pay cable network) in "Jesus Is Not a Serial Killer", he huffed that Showtime executives lacked respect for Jesus, the figure who makes us good if we follow him, concluding: "You think of the hundreds upon hundreds of people involved in this Showtime enteprise - the actors, producers, promotional and marketing staff, the blue-suit executives in New York, the advertising agencies. And of those hundreds and hundreds, not one will stand up to defend Our Lord? How sad."

Uhh, Brent, there is plenty of pro-Christian programming all over the broadcast channels, and there are even entire cable networks (EWTN, God TV, TBN, Word Network) that are devoted to preaching the Gospels. Again, considering how those cable networks with those violent TV-MA programming that Bozell thinks are rotting American culture: what's the value of those cable channels being premium if Bozell got to be CEO and fill the schedule with G-rated films, Leave It to Beaver reruns, and Sunday school all week? Since the mid-1990s with the Parents Television Council, Bozell has been pushing for the mainstream TV networks to be more family-friendly (hmm, code word for pro-Christian?), and that's why you'll hear the PTC complain every time a TV show dares to be sexual or has a dramatic storyline that happens to be violent. But do TV audiences really prefer tame, non-confrontational programming or the shows on premium cable? Let the ratings tell the story. If there wasn't such a demand for Dexter, TV networks would've stuck with the tame side.

All that Bozell can do to justify his archaic views is to play the religion/persecuted Christian card. That's it: no reasoning, logic, or reality-based evidence whatsoever.

02 November 2011

ESPN=Evangelical Suckers Promoting Nonsense

So the Detroit Lions were allegedly mocking Tim Tebow's prayer pose. Tebow denies it. A holier-than-thou ESPN columnist Jemele Hill does though: "Lions disrespected Tim Tebow's faith"!

Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch openly mocked Tebow's prayer pose -- a new phenomenon known across the Internet as "Tebowing" -- after sacking Tebow in the second quarter.

Tulloch explained directly after the game and on Twitter that he was just having some fun at the quarterback's expense.

"Football is a form of entertainment," Tulloch tweeted. "Have a sense of humor. I wasn't mocking GOD!"


Tulloch and Scheffler probably didn't intend to disrespect Tebow's faith with their celebrations. But if Tebow were Muslim or Jewish, would Tulloch and Scheffler have been so quick to execute a prayer parody? Would columnists, such as my friend Dan Wetzel -- whom I respect a great deal -- encourage those who were offended by Tulloch's and Scheffler's Tebowing to just lighten up?

"I think the linebacker for the Lions was attempting to not mock God, but to mock Tebow and have fun with it," said Gordon Thiessen, the director for training and resources for the Nebraska Fellowship of Christian Athletes, "but it was still in bad taste and inappropriate, at best."


Prayer is a sacred component of any religion. Making fun of someone else's spiritual connection is on par with ridiculing them about their family. You don't have to be a Christian to get that, just someone who understands the concept of respect.
Ms. Hill, c'mon. Have whatever religious beliefs or none as you want...no one is obligated to agree with those beliefs. Can't you tell the difference between attacking people and attacking ideas? Religion deserves to be criticized and ridiculed even though it is a constitutional right in the US. Go ahead and believe in hell or practice witchcraft if you want. I'm never ever going to embrace that superstitious nonsense. It's frustrating that most mainstream media voices such as Hill are quicker to defend religion instead of considering that religion isn't as positive and inspiring as it promotes itself. I wish PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris had more media exposure to their ideas.

Does believing in God and following the Ten Commandments have ANY, I repeat, ANY objective connection with being able to throw complete passes or make defensive stops? NO. BTW, thank you to ESPN.com commenters (the most liked comments are critical of Hill's commentary). Furthermore, Tebow had the audacity to lose his face in the Super Bowl before the 2010 draft with an incredibly stupid Super Bowl commercial for the Christian fundamentalist group Focus on the Family in which he essentially credits his promise to a great football career to his mother choosing to carry him to term despite recommendations otherwise from doctors.

Now on to Tebow's performance as an NFL player. Tebow is now in his 2nd professional season with the Denver Broncos. As a rookie, he played 9 games and started 5; he completed 50% of his passes over 654 yards for 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Passes averaged 8 yards each. Ran for 6 TDs too. 82.1 rating. Thing is, will Tebow have a great NFL career or will he become a bust a la JaMarcus Russell or a mediocre and at age 30 will become a motivational speaker or preacher? Let's compare Tebow's rookie stats with those of other great QBs (source: NFL.com player profiles):
  • John Elway (also played for the Broncos) in 1983: 47.5% completed over 1,663 yards. 6.4 yards/pass. Passed for 7 TDs and ran in 1. 54.9 rating.
  • Drafted in 1987, Rich Gannon played his first season as starter in 1990. He had a 52.1% completion rate for 16 TDs and 16 INTs. 68.9 rating.
  • Drafted in 1991 by Atlanta Falcons, Brett Favre played as a starter the first time in 1992 with the Green Bay Packers. 64.1% completed over 3,227 yards for 18 TDs and 13 INTs. 85.3 rating.
  • Aaron Rodgers of the Packers played his first 3 pro seasons as Favre's backup before starting all 16 games of 2008. Stats: 63.6% for 28 TDs and 13 INTs. 93.8 rating.
So far, Tebow hasn't broken out big early in his career like Elway, Gannon, Favre, and Rodgers have.

Guess what, Jemele Hill and other brainless Christian apologists? This isn't a Christian nation anymore, and fewer and fewer in America want to be associated with such uselessness. Yes I know I'm gonna get spam from godbots and anger from narrow-minded fundies. But still. It's the 21st century and we should be over this idiocy already.

29 October 2011

Very last minute WAC picks for Oct. 29

Personal reasons including midterms made me procrastinate all the way 'til 2 hours before SJSU/Louisiana Tech kickoff!

San Jose State (3-4, 2-1 WAC) at Louisiana Tech (3-4, 2-1 WAC): SJSU Spartans by 3. On Nov. 27, 2010, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs beat San Jose State 45-38 after a last-minute interception to prevent a San Jose State opportunity to tie the game. A better-than-ever Spartan team comes to Ruston, La. off a dramatic comeback victory against Hawaii in homecoming a few weeks ago. Back then, SJSU relied on mainly a passing game against La. Tech and was outrun 374-26. However, with Brandon Rutley gaining much crucial yardage every game for the Spartans, the Spartans can play a close game against the Bulldogs. However, comparing the running stats of SJSU and LT, it is important to note that La. Tech has on average outrun opponents and has a slight edge in averages:
  • Average ypg: LT 138.3, SJSU 129.6
  • Average yards per carry: SJSU 3.9, LT 3.3
  • Rushing TDs: LT 14, SJSU 10
Thus, as coach Mike MacIntyre has acknowledged it's important to stop LT's running back Lennon Creer, this game might be the Battle of the Running Backs. The last time San Jose State won in Ruston was in 1993, and SJSU last won an away conference game in 2008. SJSU's defensive line should be accounted for especially with the critical defensive plays vs. Hawaii (which beat La. Tech 44-26 on Oct. 1) including forcing 5 Hawaii turnovers and blocking a point after for a 2-point safety return.

Hawaii (4-3, 2-1 WAC) at Idaho (1-6, 0-3 WAC): Hawaii by 20. Idaho has lost 5 in a row and has won only against the I-AA North Dakota. Unless Bryant Moniz throws 5 INTs again like he did against SJSU, Hawaii definitely has the offensive advantage (stats: Hawaii, Idaho). SJSU faces Idaho in San Jose on Nov. 5. Will be on ESPN3 from 5PM Eastern.

Nevada (4-3, 2-0 WAC) at New Mexico State (3-4, 1-2 WAC): Nevada by 9. NMSU's strength is in the passing game, as this is the one offensive area with NMSU has edged opponents including 14.7 yards per catch (Nevada has only 13.5). In Nevada, freshman QB Cody Fajardo is taking over as main QB while senior Tyler Lantrip is relegated to backup. Fajardo currently has a 72.7% completion rate but has thrown 4 INTs over 2 TDs, while NMSU's starter Matt Christian (in for the injured Andrew Manley) 8 TDs for 1 INT.

22 October 2011

Quick WAC picks for Oct. 22

Sorry people I've been really busy the past week especially with midterms and just a few minutes before the first WAC football game of the weekend I'll make some really quick picks for the weekend. Anyway, SJSU made a 4Q comeback in a roller-coaster game last Friday night to beat Hawaii 28-27 and has today off. I'll post more on that game later.

In the meantime (all these games will be live on ESPN3.com):
- Louisiana Tech (2-4, 1-1 WAC) at Utah State (2-4, 0-1 WAC): Utah State by 10. All four of the Aggies' losses (most recently last wk against Fresno State) came by losing leads in the 4Q. It's less likely to happen this time around as Utah State, with the 29th-ranked defense in D1 football (vs. La. Tech's 78th) also has a huge edge in its QB Chuckie Keeton who's yet to throw an INT in 2011 (LT's Nick Isham has thrown 7 INTs) and thus Keeton has a 147.3 rating vs. Isham's 117.3. The Aggies' running unit has produced nearly twice as many rushing yards (1,793 over LT's 882) and 22 TDs (LT 12 TDs). (Source: ESPN.com statistics on the teams)
- Fresno State (3-4, 2-0 WAC) at Nevada (3-3, 1-0 WAC): Nevada by 6. The Wolf Pack have the edge in rushing and defense (13 TDs in 1,493 yards, and defensively 354.6 yards per game), but Fresno State has strengths in its passing game. Note that Nevada's QB Tyler Lantrip has thrown 6 INTs and 5 TDs thus far, while Fresno State's Derek Carr 12 TDs and 5 INTs and that Nevada Wolf Pack's average passes span 12.9 yards while Fresno State Bulldogs 11.8. In its three road games so far, the Bulldogs lost 2 (to the mediocre Pac-12 Cal Berkeley and ranked Big 12 team Nebraska) and won against the struggling WAC Idaho. Also interesting of note, both teams will relocate to the Mountain West Conference beginning in 2012. If Nevada wins it'll definitely confirm critics' predictions (i.e. Bleacher Report) that Nevada will again be the top WAC team this year like in 2010. These teams are generally predicted to be the best: Sports Illustrated projected that Fresno State would be the top.
- New Mexico State (3-3, 1-1 WAC) at Hawaii (3-3, 1-1 WAC): Hawaii by 17. Returning to Manoa, the Warriors look to redeem themselves following a shocking loss against the San Jose State Spartans on national television last Friday. Indeed, New Mexico State should be an easy team to beat as Bryant Moniz completed 63.5% of his passes for 17 TDs and also threw 4 INTs; NMSU's Matt Christian 59.4% for 6 TDs and 1 INT. It's doubtful that this will be a repeat of the SJSU/Hawaii Turnover Show (both teams had each around 5 turnovers) as Hawaii in addition to home field advantage also can gain much yardage against a 93rd-ranked NMSU defense (Hawaii has 28th).

13 October 2011

Weekly Spartan and WAC football review and picks

October 8: Brigham Young beat San Jose State 29-16 in a game televised on ESPNU. The factors? (Sources: Box score, play by play)
  • SJSU gets the ball after Keith Smith recovered a Riley Nelson fumble at SJSU's 3 yard line, pre-empting BYU's first scoring attempt. However, a bad snap sent the ball flying to the end zone and a safety for BYU. BYU then gets the ball and scores a TD and goes up 9-0. On his weekly radio show on KLIV-AM, coach Mike MacIntyre explained that the BYU fans sitting behind end zone were so loud that the snapper misheard directions and promised that this would never happen again.
  • However, SJSU did get a field goal and TD off both times when BYU's Nelson threw interceptions.
  • An inept Spartan defense let BYU's punter get a rest: Never in the game did BYU ever have to punt on 4th down! It was either scoring or turnovers for the BYU offense.
  • Furthermore, SJSU's leading rusher Brandon Rutley sat out the game due to ankle injury but will return on Friday night v. Hawaii. Without Rutley, SJSU was outrushed 70-224. In contrast, in the past 2 wins with Rutley, SJSU ran for 230 yards (against New Mexico St) and 137 yards (Colorado State).
However, Rutley's fellow backup running backs Jason Simpson and Tyler Ervin did provide the backbone for the SJSU scoring drives that did exist. Simpson ran 39 yards; the freshman Ervin 40. Tight end Ryan Otten continued to be a reliable receiver having caught for a total of 108 yards; regular WR Noel Grigsby caught for 88.

Furthermore, SJSU will have to put up against a powerful defense much more cunning and intimidating than BYU's. According to USAToday.com:
  • Hawaii's defense is ranked 27th of all FBS teams and has allowed an average 327 yards per game, 5.14 yards per play, and throughout the year 18 touchdowns.
  • Colorado State: 33rd, 344.00 yards/game, 5.18 yards/play, 17 TDs.
  • BYU: 43rd, 351.33 yards/game, 5.58 yards/play, 16 TDs.
  • SJSU: 92nd, 414.50 yards/game, 5.98 yards/play, 22 TDs.
Bryant Moniz, the starting QB for the Hawaii Warriors, currently has a greater quarterback rating (150.7) than SJSU's Matt Faulkner (126.4) and slightly edges Faulkner with a 64.6% completion rate in contrast with Faulkner's 62.8%. And Moniz has thrown 15 TDs in contrast with 1 INT; Faulkner has 4 each of both TDs and INTs. SJSU defense will have to scare and pressure Moniz...and should he get injured, Moniz' backup David Graves has been pretty reliable so far with a 70% completion rate of 20 passes over 111 yards.

Hawaii's running unit has generated much production: 8 TDs over 435 yards, while SJSU took 804 yards to score 9 TDs.

Many in the SJSU community are hyping this game as it will be ESPN's Friday night game of the week; kickoff will be 6PM Pacific. Other outlets broadcasting the game will be ESPN3.com (the live streaming arm of ESPN) and local radio stations KSJS-FM 90.5 (pregame 5:30PM followed by the game in entirety) and joining in progress at 7PM KLIV-AM 1590. (KLIV is a news station, I guess they insisted on playing the news at six in the evening in competition with the TV stations.)

If Hawaii in Ruston, La. could beat Louisiana Tech , ranked higher than SJSU in both passing and rushing, 44-26 on Oct. 1, it will take a strong-willed defense for the Spartans even to get close to beating Hawaii. In fact, in September, Hawaii lost 40-20 on the road to UNLV, whose statistics and overall record are even worse than SJSU. UNLV choked Hawaii to only 6 yards of rushing that game and forced 4 turnovers! Indeed, Hawaii has specialized its game in passing instead of run plays. So with hopes that the Spartan defense can stop Hawaii at its tracks at times with interceptions and forced loss fumbles, I regretfully must pick Hawaii to win by 15 on Friday night. Still I will be watching on ESPN3.com to see how SJSU fares on national TV, should be an extra motivation.

Other picks:
New Mexico (Mountain West Conf., 0-5...when will they ever win?) at Nevada (2-3): Nevada by 21. Nevada last week blew out its in-state MWC rival UNLV 37-0, that game was in Reno. This is an offensively well-rounded Wolf Pack team vs. a New Mexico team leaning towards pass/receive. Nevada's runners have average 4.8 yards per carry, NM 3.5, and Nevada's Mike Ball 4.7 vs. NM (freshman) Crusoe Gongbay 4.0.

Idaho (1-5, 0-2 WAC) at New Mexico State (2-3, 0-1 WAC): NMSU by 13. In completing passes, NMSU Aggies QB Andrew Manley finishes 56.9% with 6 TDs and 3 INTs, Idaho's Brian Reader 51.1% with 9 TDs and 6 INTs. NMSU offense also has the edge (Rushing TDs: 5-3, Received TDs: 11-9). Will be on ESPN3.

Utah State (2-3) at Fresno State (2-4, 1-0 WAC): Another ESPN3 game. Utah State by 7. With a 64.8% completion rating and 157.0 overall QB rating, Chuckie Keeton can definitely create a fast edge in offense in contrast to Fresno State's Derek Carr, who has completed just 60.5%. Keeton has yet to throw an interception this season, while Carr has thrown 6. Both teams have very similar reception averages around 12 yards each, but Utah State again has another offensive edge in rushing: 6.4 yards per carry vs. Fresno State's 4.0 yards/carry.

08 October 2011

W-H-Y should religion be an issue regarding public policy??

American politics can get REALLY silly when the debate focuses on how religious/faithful a candidate can be. This story "For Romney, Social Issues Pose New Test" will be on the front page of Sunday's NY Times:

Mr. Romney has tried at every stage of the race for the Republican presidential nomination to focus on the economy, and he did so again on Saturday, when he appeared here at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of social conservative activists.

But he also felt compelled to reiterate that he was in sync with social conservatives as he ran through his positions on abortion, marriage, judicial appointments and religious values. And as other speakers condemned homosexuality and raised questions about whether a Mormon is a true Christian, Mr. Romney emphasized that tolerance and civility were conservative values.


Beyond Mr. Romney’s substantive positions, his faith is re-emerging as a concern among some evangelicals. On Saturday, a conservative activist speaking after Mr. Romney, Bryan Fischer, said without naming Mr. Romney that the next president had to be a man of “genuine” Christian faith. On Friday, a backer of Mr. Perry described Mr. Romney’s faith as a cult.

Mr. Perry later said he disagreed with that characterization, and some evangelical leaders said they were less concerned about Mr. Romney’s being a Mormon than about his stand on the issues.

This is one of the 100s of reasons (OK i may be exaggerating) that I choose to remain an atheist and I'm thankful that I never attended church service or religious schools in my life, not even when I was a little kid. And if Republicans seriously get into these silly arguments over faith and heavily seek the concerns of blue-nosed religious fundamentalists in public policy such as in education, reproductive freedom, gay rights, etc., then I'm never going to vote Republican in my life as long as this horrendous, disturbing connection with Republicans and creationists/homophobes/anti-rationalists continues.

Furthermore, Republicans just cannot STAND anyone who doesn't represent the Judeo-Christian ideal, whether in attacking the Mormon Mitt Romney for not being Christian enough or smearing Barack Obama as a Muslim. Given the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the US post-9/11, the Muslim smear obviously was a dog-whistle appeal to the more bigoted Americans just like Ronald Reagan speaking about states' rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi (a town where in 1964 three civil rights workers were murdered) in 1980 was. This fear of the occult (the religious buzzword for the unknown, outside the realm of faith) drives all the lies and idiocy from the right when it comes to religion in American public policy. That's why you'll encounter "where is separation of church and state?" or "America is a Christian nation" all the time in conservative commentators, speeches, etc.

In fact, when Christine O'Donnell ran for Vice Pres. Joe Biden's former US Senate seat in Delaware (won by Democratic candidate Chris Coons thankfully), she risked getting laughter in mockery for claiming that SoC&S is not in the Constitution. Well, what's so hard about "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? Basically: RELIGION IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T FORCE ONE FAITH ON THE PEOPLE OR PROHIBIT ONE? DO YOU GET IT, FUNDAMENTALISTS? Although the constitution obliges the government to defend one's right to observe a faith, the government is not obliged to uphold the values of the faith itself. Thus, when will the supreme court ever break apart the faith-based initiatives division of the White House? Furthermore, the question liberals/secularists need to challenge conservatives should be: where in the Constitution indicates that the nation shall be governed under Christian values? That should stump those strict constructionists who insist that original intent of the founders should guide federal laws.

And yes, as an atheist I have voted for Christians for political office. I vote for candidates based on their political positions and experience, not trivial personal traits like how religious or non religious they are. HOWEVER, if a candidate repeatedly puts on the God/faith peacock feathers in campaigns or backs causes championed by the Religious Right, the candidate loses my vote. I remember reading the 2010 California voter guide and seeing one of the third-party right-wing candidates (either of the American Independent or Constitution Parties) boasting about God in the campaign statement.

If Chris Christie did decide to run for president, he'd need to explain the Hudson Tunnel

NY Times: "N.J. to Repay U.S. $95 Million Over Hudson Tunnels":

On Friday [September 30], Gov. Chris Christie and Ray LaHood, the federal transportation secretary, announced that New Jersey would pay back $95 million that the federal government had provided for a pair of rail tunnels under the Hudson River that were projected to cost $8.7 billion. The effort, known as Access to the Region’s Core, or ARC, was one of the biggest public-works projects under way in the country when Mr. Christie decided to cancel it one year ago.

Mr. Christie maintained that his state could not afford to shoulder potentially huge cost overruns on the project, which would have doubled the train capacity between New Jersey and New York City. His unilateral decision to scrap the tunnels enraged Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, who had spent years lining up $6 billion in commitments from the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mr. LaHood, who was also angry at Mr. Christie, demanded that New Jersey repay all of the $271 million in federal money that had gone toward the early stages of building the tunnels. The governor responded by declaring, “We are not paying the money back.”

And Republicans preach "fiscal responsibility" all the time. If Christie did join the primaries, campaign ads would devastate him over stealing about $150 million.

Most surprising of all? "Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012" either. Otherwise the Republicans would've handed Obama an easy victory that year, something they do NOT want as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell famously said about the GOP agenda: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

06 October 2011

Does the San Jose State Spartans' win over Colorado State signal a turnaround? and other WAC picks

On Saturday, 1 Oct at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo., the San Jose State Spartans (of the Western Athletic Conf.) defeated Colorado State Rams (Mountain West Conference) 38-31 in Colorado State's homecoming game. Throughout the game, SJSU had control and even exploited Colorado State turnovers for touchdowns. At one point during 2nd quarter, SJSU led 24-7. The Spartans won on a last-minute TD pass. This game was shown on the Mountain West Sports Network "the mtn" but not streamed on ESPN3.com, and highlights are here on themtn.tv:

(0:24 in video, 11:02 left in 2Q) Spartan safety Duke Ihenacho returns a fumble by Ram running back Raymond Carter for a 20-yard TD. Spartans up 17-7. Next play in the video: Brandon Rutley runs 23 yards for the TD that put SJSU up 24-7.

As I was listening on SJSU football flagship station KLIV 1590, the game got intense starting late in 3Q as Colorado State rallied with 2 TD's to tie the game 31-31 late in the 4Q. However (1:33 video, 3:38 left 4Q), a Ram go-ahead 48-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Spartan freshman WR Jabari Carr then ran a 38-yard pass from Matt Faulkner 10 yards for the winning TD, SJSU up 38-31. With 13 seconds left (1:49 in video) Pete Thomas' 43-yard pass intended for Thomas Coffman instead landed in the hands of Spartan defensive back Ronnie Yell at SJSU's 10. Coffman will forever regret running too far out away from Yell. That's what you call a FAIL Mary pass.

This win means a turnaround?

As the Spartan web site reports, this is the Spartans' 2nd win a row following a 34-24 win over New Mexico State, SJSU's first 2-game winning streak and road win since 2008 and first non-conference road win since 21 Sept. 2002 at the Big 10 Illinois. Given how Colo. St. is currently at first place in the Mountain West, some could argue that this is an upset victory. And the other aforementioned factors of this win imply that SJSU could see a few more victories this season and a real turnaround from the disastrous 2009 season (2-10 and 1-7 WAC) and 2010 (1-12 and 0-8 WAC). These two victories, by margins of 7 and 10 points, are a far cry from the barely won games of 2009 (Dick Tomey's final year) and 2010 (Mike MacIntyre's first year):
- 26 Sept 2009: a 19-9 win over the I-AA Cal Poly;
- 28 Nov 2009: a 13-10 win over New Mexico State won by a last-minute field goal. NMSU would finish 2009 the second-worst team in the WAC just one win over SJSU;
- 18 Sept 2010: a 16-11 win over I-AA Southern Utah, decided by yet another last-minute play, a TD by Lamon Muldrow.

Also in 2010, SJSU lost TWO games on last-minute interceptions: 13 Nov 2010 v Utah State 38-34 and 27 Nov 2010 at Louisiana Tech 45-38, two others on missed field goals (4 Dec 2010 at Idaho 26-23 in OT, a blocked FG while tied 20-20 forced the OT, where SJSU scored FG then Idaho a TD; 2 Oct 2010 v the I-AA UC Davis 14-13). So far in 2011 SJSU lost only the home opener v Nevada 17-14 due to such an interception.

The pundits have predicted yet another crummy season for the Spartans. For example, Sports Illustrated magazine predicted SJSU to finish the 2nd-worst in the WAC with an overall 3-9 with 2-5 in the WAC; Bleacher Report predicted the same place. If SJSU beats BYU, the Spartans hit another dent in the critics' windshield.

Spartan rush leader Rutley likely out of BYU game
However, Spartans rushing leader Brandon Rutley, who's produced many reliable offensive yards and some long TD runs too, left the SJSU/CSU game due to a sprained ankle. The Spartan Daily reported that whether Rutley will play in Provo will be a "game-time decision." Backup running back Jason Simpson contributed 21 yards in the Spartans' winning 70-yard drive on Saturday. As a special teams player and RB in 2010 following a redshirt freshman year, the Jamaican-born Simpson played only 4 games and sat out the rest of the year due to injury. With the running game now possibly on the legs of Simpson and freshman Ben Thompson, coach MacIntyre (again see the linked Spartan Daily article) "assured that the offense won’t experience any drastic changes against BYU." Indeed, the Colo. St. Rams have currently allowed an average 24.8 points per game, the BYU Cougars 25.0 (source: ESPN.com clubhouse pages). According to USA Today, BYU has allowed 356.6 yards per game, and CSU 344. (BTW, SJSU has allowed 408.8...and SJ's area code is 408! interesting)

A declining BYU quarterback
Cougar starting QB Jake Heaps' completion rate, now an average 54.1%, has declined each game, from a high 63.2% in BYU's losing opener against Mississippi to 44% in BYU's Friday night comeback 27-24 win against the WAC Utah State in which Heaps' backup Riley Nelson (avg. completion 61.9%) took over late in 3Q. While San Jose State has scored 30+ points in each the past 2 games, BYU has yet to score over its 27 points from Friday's game. Despite this, the wire service Sports Network picks BYU to win 31-20 over SJSU, on the grounds that BYU gagged Utah State's passing yards to 122. Comparing Utah State and San Jose State's offense is like comparing the winter climate in the Rocky Mountains to that in Gulf Coast. Utah State has had a laughable 3 losses from blowing 4Q leads (against Auburn, Colo. St., and BYU). Never mind how USU QB Chuckie Keeton has passed at most for 213 yards (again v Auburn), while Faulkner passed for 383 yards against Colo. St. And if BYU's defense is so solid, why have all three of the Cougars' victories come by 7 points or less and always because of a 4th quarter go-ahead play? My pick, therefore, will be SJSU by 3 (unlike TSN, I abstain from picking scores).

Other WAC picks
ESPN's Friday game of the week (also streaming on WatchESPN.com) will be the #5-ranked Boise State (Mountain West) visiting SJSU's down-state rival Fresno State, kickoff at 6PM Pacific (7PM Mountain Time for Idahoans and 9PM Eastern for the biggest region of America). Pick: Boise State by 27. There's a reason why Boise State graduated from the WAC to MWC this year. The Broncos have been a WAC powerhouse for the past several years...and recently earned 3 years' probation for football including 9 revoked scholarships. Also the broncos last week pulverized last year's top WAC team Nevada 30-10.

Saturday's games:

Louisiana Tech (1-4, 0-1 WAC) at Idaho (1-4, 0-1 WAC): Louisiana Tech by 7. Yes, Idaho did make a bowl in 2009 and was nearly .500 in 2010, but La. Tech has the advantageous QB (Nick Isham with a 61.5% completion rate vs. Idaho's Brian Reader with 53.7%) in addition to a far more productive running back unit that's scored 11 TDs in 692 yards, while Idaho has 3 TD's in 372 yards.

UNLV (Mountain West) (1-3) at Nevada [Reno] (1-3, 1-0 WAC): UNLV by 10. Seems every week a WAC game is on ESPN Friday night, and/or a WAC team plays an in state rival. Although having a sluggish start, UNLV upset Hawaii in Las Vegas 40-20 on 17 Sept, and Hawaii is normally one of the better WAC teams! UNLV won on the rushing game with 186...compared to a measly 6 for Hawaii (relied on the passing game instead with 4 turnovers as a cost). Nevada's Tyler Lantrip, who spent his first years with the Wolf Pack backing up the now-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, is struggling now with a 53.3% CR and 5 interceptions over only 2 TD passes. Meanwhile, the Runnin' Rebel's Caleb Herring has a 59 CR, 5 TD's, and 4 INTs, and thus gives the Nevada-Las Vegas receiving unit more productive track record than Nevada-Reno's (6 TD's in 679 yds v. 4 TD's in 718 yds.)

Wyoming (Mountain West) (1-3) at Utah State (1-3): Wyoming by 3. Wyoming is off to a rather good start now after a 3-9 season in 2010. Whatever happens, Utah State will win only by avoiding the costly 4th quarter mistakes that cost them games regularly.

30 September 2011

South of the Great Salt Lake is a rallying team, and north exists one that easily loses leads

Last post I picked the Utah State Aggies to beat the Brigham Young Cougars by 7. Unfortunately, thanks to a last-minute touchdown catch off a deflection, BYU won 27-24. (WatchESPN has the game in its entirety here.) Now if you don't get my title, here's why:
- Utah State University is in Logan, Utah, a city about 60 miles north of Salt Lake City and on the north side of the Great Salt Lake. Brigham Young University is in Provo, Utah, around 30 miles south of SLC and thus south of the Lake.
- The Utah State Aggies, a Western Athletic Conference team, played tonight at BYU, a longtime regional rival that became a Division I-A independent after about a decade in the Mountain West Conference. In 2010, Utah State beat BYU in Logan, 31-16. Utah State last beat BYU in Provo in 1978. Today's loss puts Utah State at 1-3, and all three of USU's losses so far have all been of 4 or fewer points and after USU led the other team in the 4th quarter. The other losses came against Auburn (the national champions) and Colorado State.
- In contrast, the BYU Cougars are now 3-2, and all 3 of their wins were decided in the 4th quarter. BYU rallied from a 4Q 13-0 deficit in its opener at Mississippi to win 14-13. Later in Provo, BYU won against Central Florida 24-17 having trailed 10-3 after halftime and drawn 17-17 after 3Q. Tonight, Utah State once held a lead of 24-13 in 4Q before their defense fell asleep and let BYU score 2 TD's.

Utah State kicker Josh Thompson unsuccessfully attempted to fake a field goal since he didn't want to kick from 48 yards (his longest this year is 41). As seen at the 2 hour 53 minute mark of the linked video, the ball bounced off the hands of tight end Tarren Lloyd. After USU lost the ball on downs, 7:51 remained in 4Q. BYU has the ball but fumbles in USU territory and now 3:53 left. USU advances the ball only 1 yard and punts all the way to BYU's 4-yard line with 2:36 left. This drive confirms that USU defense really slacked off in the final quarter as BYU's tight end Marcus Mathews would fetch the ball in the end zone after USU's cornerback Will Davis deflected it (this play is in the 3 hour 17 minute mark of video). ESPN replayed BYU's TD from an angle looking at the uprights, and it seems that Davis probably could've eyed Mathews:

Oh, it seems that J.J. di Luigi of BYU also deflected the ball. Had Davis gotten both hands on it it would've been like when Nevada made a last-minute interception to seal its 17-14 victory over SJSU 2 weeks ago.

The implications for SJSU's games against BYU, USU:
San Jose State plays BYU at Provo on Oct. 8. I'll be able to make a better prediction after SJSU plays Colorado State tomorrow, but for now it looks like BYU will steamroll the Spartans. Meanwhile, SJSU will play USU later in the month, and we'll see if USU can learn how to defend leads (which SJSU has been able to do this year, see last week against NMSU).

29 September 2011

A tardy little SJSU post game analysis and WAC picks for the weekend

I went to last Saturday's SJSU/NMSU football game, and SJSU won 34-24. Once again RB Brandon Rutley was a fugitive from the defensive justice. In the Spartans' first possession, he scored a 66-yard rushing touchdown; the Aggies scored a field goal on their first possession after the Spartans forced a 4th & goal from the 1-yard line. Although SJSU ended the 2nd and 3rd quarters with ties, SJSU scored a touchdown and field goal in the 4th and didn't allow any Aggie scoring to seal the win. Watch the full game on WatchESPN here.

Spartan QB Matt Faulkner threw no interceptions that day, and SJSU lost only one fumble, compared with the 3 lost fumbles vs. Nevada and the last-minute end zone interception that sealed the win for Nevada. However, the one interception that Aggie QB Matt Christian threw in the 3rd the Spartans returned for a TD to go up 31-24 in the 4th. While both teams (box score) had very close receiving yardage (NMSU 238, SJSU 236), the Spartans had the edge in rushing, 230-185, after falling behind to Nevada 138-261. This will be one key for the upcoming away game at Colorado State: outrushing wins games. Most telling of all: the Aggies racked 8 penalties for a loss of 76 yards, while SJSU had only one 5-yard penalty on an ineligible downfield pass. Two of those penalties came after SJSU 3rd downs, and one of them was during an SJSU scoring drive.

Preview: SJSU at Colorado State
On Saturday, SJSU plays the Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins, Co. at 2PM Mountain Time (1PM Pacific too). Listen on the radio at KLIV 1590 (either on the air or streaming online) or if you have DirecTV watch on the MountainWest Sports Network "the mtn." I think the mtn is available in HD. So what's my pick for that game? Well, Colorado State's quarterback Pete Thomas will be quite a challenge for the Spartans, with a whopping 67.7% completion rate in 4 games! The last time the Spartans faced a quarterback with a 60%+ rate, they lost...56-3 to Stanford on the first season game, whose QB Andrew Luck had a 65.3% completion rate.

The Colorado State vs. Utah State game
However, keep in mind that the Rams' last game (in Logan, Utah) was against another WAC team, the Utah State Aggies, and Colorado State won by one only because Utah State's 2-point conversion after a TD failed. In that game, Pete Thomas completed 16 of 28 passes (57.1%), and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton completed 9 of 15 (60%). Utah State, who last year narrowly beat SJSU 38-34 in a roller coaster back and forth game, outrushed Colorado State 281-124 but lagged in receiving 86-108. In fact, although USU led CSU 21-13 with about 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, CSU scored the tying touchdown and 2-point conversion after USU's Eric Moats fumbled a kick return, and while Utah State managed to score TD's on both its OT drives, Utah State's 2-point conversion in its final drive for the win was unsuccessful. (That game was also on ESPN3, watch in full here.) The Rams' only loss so far was 28-14 in an away game against in-state rivals Colorado Buffaloes (who joined the Pac-12 this year after being in the Big 12). Similar to the Utah State game, Colorado State won 14-10 against the still-winless New Mexico Lobos over a 4th-quarter go-ahead TD.

New Mexico Bowl champs
Here's another interesting historical tidbit: in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State rallied in the 4th quarter to beat Fresno State 40-35. SJSU won the 2006 New Mexico Bowl over New Mexico, 20-12.

The quarterbacks
And regarding quarterbacks: so far Matt Faulkner's only thrown interception was the end zone one vs. Nevada that prevented SJSU from taking a lead with one minute left. Meanwhile, CSU's Pete Thomas threw 3 interceptions in CSU's victory over Northern Colorado, and his completion rating has fallen each game from a high of 84% in the opener to 57% against Utah State. Against New Mexico State, Faulkner completed 63% of his passes.

So far, SJSU has never blown a lead to lose a game in 2011, but did in 2010 three times: against UC Davis (a I-AA team), New Mexico State, and Utah State. Colorado State has won two games on comebacks: the one against New Mexico and another in OT against Utah State. The factor that made the Aggies slide down the Rockies was the fumbled punt return by Moats. So far, SJSU has never fumbled a kick return. The Spartans' victory v. NMSU was a heavier victory than SJSU's one victory in 2010 - a 16-11 win over the I-AA Southern Utah decided by a last-minute TD run by Lamon Muldrow. SJSU's two victories in 2009 were in low-scoring contests: 19-9 over the I-AA Cal Poly and 13-10 over New Mexico State.

Now comparing other statistics between the Spartans and Rams. Meanwhile, Colo. St.'s leading wide receiver, Crockett Gilmore, averages 11.3 yards per catch as opposed to SJSU's Noel Grigsby with 8.5 yards per catch. However, SJSU's Rutley has 388 rushing yards and 5.7 yards per carry while CSU's Raymond Carter has only 245 (5.2/carry). Three Spartans (Rutley, Ryan Otten, and Jabari Carr) have had receptions/runs of 60 or more yards, a feat no Ram has yet. Defensively, as the SJSU preview article points out, in the past 2 games the SJSU defense has allowed 0 4th quarter scoring by opponents in both the past 2 games.

In coach Mike MacIntyre's second year with the team, the Spartans have now won a truly hard-fought victory with little flaws or carelessness. Still, the 3-1 Colorado State Rams appear to have the edge, and it is doubtful that San Jose State can really pull off an upset victory unless they continue improving. Still, at my most optimistic, my pick will be San Jose State by 3.

Other WAC Games...
Utah State at (I-A independent) Brigham Young (Friday at 6PM Mountain/8PM Eastern on ESPN and ESPN3.com): Utah State by 7. BYU has yet to win a game by more than 7 points this season and appears to be on the decline ever since leaving the Mountain West after 2010. BYU's victories over Mississippi (14-13) and Central Florida (24-17) both came following deficits. Meanwhile, Utah State appears to have promise this season. In its opener, the Aggies nearly beat the defending national champions Auburn Tigers...IN AUBURN, ALABAMA TOO!...but lost 42-38 after Auburn's successful on-side kick and subsequent touchdown. In that game, Aggie QB Chuckie Keeton's strong arm contributed to Utah State's surprisingly high score with 21 of 30 completed passes, and Keeton has an overall 66.7% completion rate this season compared to BYU QB Jake Heaps' 55.6%. Additionally, Utah State has scored 15 TD's on running plays, 13 more than BYU has this year.

That's the only Friday WAC game this weekend. All others on Saturday.

Nevada at (#4) (Mountain West Conf.) Boise State: Boise State by 10. As the currently 3-0 Boise State, which moved from the WAC to MWC this year, continues to rack high rankings and victories, Nevada is coming off a 2010 season from being the top WAC team to a possibly mediocre season. Boise State Broncos QB Kellen Moore is going to hunt down the Wolf Pack with his 79% completion rate and will give much advantage to the Broncos' receiving unit that has scored 13 TD's on receptions, while the Wolf Pack has only 3 receiving TD's as of now. In 2010, Nevada came back from behind in the 4th and beat Boise State 34-31 in OT.

Idaho at (Atlantic Coast Conf.) Virginia (will be on ESPN3): Virginia by 14. Besides the obvious competitive differences between the WAC and ACC, with 10 rushing TDs so far in 2011 and QB Michael Rocco having a 62.2% completion rate the Virginia Cavaliers will put their rushing game at an advantage. Furthermore, Idaho's only victory has come against the I-AA North Dakota.

Hawaii at Louisiana Tech (ESPN3): Hawaii by 7. Hawaii has yet to win any road games this season, and while both the Rainbow Warriors and Bulldogs QBs have completion rates in the 60 percent range, given how the Rainbow Warriors have scored 11 TDs on receptions they can put up a great offensive threat against LT.

New Mexico State at (MWC) New Mexico: New Mexico State by 9. With regular starter Andrew Manley out for the season due to injury, NMSU Aggies QB Matt Christian showed much potential in his first game of 2011, the loss to SJSU, with 17 for 28 completed passes. In 4 games, New Mexico Lobos have yet to win a single game...and are so bad they even lost to the I-AA Sam Houston State in OT! Furthermore, Lobos RB James Wright averages only 3.2 yards per carry over 114 yards, while Aggies RB Kenny Turner averages 7.

(Southeastern Conf.) Ole Miss (Mississippi) at Fresno State: Fresno State by 3. I was about to pick Mississippi alone on being an SEC team, but given how the Fresno State Bulldogs have a wide receiver (Jalen Saunders) who averages 30.5 yards per catch, I'd be a bit hesitant.

24 September 2011

PTC may not advocate censorship per se, but its tactics seem intimidating

swinging by its "Worst Cable Show of the Week" page I noticed in honor of the final season of FX's Rescue Me PTC decided rather than review the episode to write a review of moments from episodes of the show...all the examples were from 2006! (Rescue Me ran from 2004-2011.) PTC concludes: "Sadly, the industry seems resigned to forcing customers to pay for programming whether they watch it or not; but such customers can at least rejoice that, however many offensive programs they are supporting, at least Rescue Me is no longer among them." PTC uses that talking point over and over again in its reviews but seldom considered how people who view Rescue Me are subsidizing programming on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon that PTC would otherwise support? I've been monitoring the PTC since 2006 and now conclude that PTC is an intimidation organization that would rather stick to archaic, fundamentalist religious, authoritarian values and create a generation of unthinking zombie children who choose the bible over reason. I mean there's a reason why PTC would rather take the side of religion than a secular POV. This attitude regarding casual sex has been true of the PTC back in its founding in 1995 and now: it reviewed NBC's new show Friends with Benefits worst TV show of the week recently. Not only did PTC attack that show (which I haven't had time to watch, and I personally have little time to watch anything other than news and sports now that the new semester has begun) also PTC attacked other NBC shows Whitney and Free Agents:

As the new fall television season approaches, a preview of NBC’s upcoming sitcoms reveals its strategy for crawling out of fourth place: sex, sex, and more sex. Whitney – produced by and starring raunchy female comic Whitney Cummings, a staple of Comedy Central’s roasts – asserts the futility of marriage and the boredom of monogamy. The show Free Agents pairs a newly-divorced man with his newly-widowed female co-worker for obligation-free, clandestine sex. Over on the dramatic side of programming, the new show The Playboy Club instantly courts controversy with its name alone.

Again with PTC's one sided reviews, PTC didn't consider NBC's Parenthood or Up All Night that do cast two-parent families as main characters and in fact Up All Night is about two parents raising a newborn baby. And The Office characters Jim and Pam? If PTC really wants TV to be sanitized and friendly to "traditional values" as it wants why doesn't PTC try to attack society first? Maybe it's because nowadays more and more people know better than to be obsessively shame-fearing judgemental prudes. For example, since the 2000s more people choose not to be religious. In fact, the type of society that PTC would advocate would be Biblical or with Sharia Law if premarital/casual sex were to be a bad thing.

PS: In PTC's review of the Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen, PTC seems to assert that Comedy Central deliberately targeted teenagers by rating the pre-show TV-14-L but didn't point out that the actual show was rated TV-MA. A content rating doesn't indicate target audience!

23 September 2011

My WAC football picks for Sept. 24

New Mexico State (1-2) at San Jose State (0-3, 0-1 WAC): SJSU by 7. The two teams meet for the first time since October 30, 2010 when NMSU scored a touchdown with 0 seconds left to beat SJSU 29-27 in Las Cruces, N.M. While NMSU has not appeared in a bowl since 1960 and has yet to have an above-.500 season since joining the WAC in 2005, SJSU has a better track record of: 3 bowl appearances in the 1980s (as a member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association including winning the 1986 California Bowl), winning the 1990 California Bowl (while in the now-defunct Big West Conference of football), and winning the 2006 New Mexico Bowl (as a WAC school). Since joining the Western Athletic Conference in 1996, SJSU has had three above-.500 seasons: 2000, 2006, and 2008. Additionally, from 2005-2010, SJSU is 5-1 against NMSU (the 1 being that ugly loss in 2010). Oh, if you wanna see highlights of that game, the New Mexico State Aggies YouTube channel has them:

One cause for concern though is NMSU's unlikely victory last week over the Big 10 team Minnesota that included the seizure of Minnesota Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill (who was taken to hospital). Additionally, NMSU sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley has a 59% completion rate...higher than Matt Faulkner's 53%, and has passed for 892 yards compared to San Jose State's 477 among 3. However, SJSU has the edge in rushing, averaging 4.0 yards per carry in 367 yards and 4 touchdowns in contrast with NMSU's paltry 1.7 yards per carry in 155 with just 1 TD. While SJSU has yet to score a touchdown by reception (they almost did last week until that interception) in 477 receiving yards with an average 10.4 per catch, in 892 yards and 14.4 per catch NMSU has scored 6. NMSU's receivers are going to be the Aggies' driving force, and SJSU's defensive line needs to watch out and restrict yardage and break up as many passes as they can.

Elsewhere in WAC football...
Fresno State (0-2) at Idaho (1-2): Idaho by 4. A tough one, as both teams have extremely close stats in rushing, passing, and receiving (FS, ID). The Fresno State Bulldogs beat the Idaho Vandals 23-20 in 2010 at Fresno. Idaho needs to look out because Fresno's running back Robbie Rouse has been on the loose all season with an average 4.6 yards per carry in 365 and 3 of the 4 rushing touchdowns by the Bulldogs. Ryan Bass, the Vandals' RB, average 4.0 yards each carry in only 117, and his longest run was an 18-yard TD. Idaho, however, has a slight edge in receiving with six TDs in 666 (EVIL) yards vs. Fresno's 4 TDs in 639.

Louisiana Tech (1-2) at Mississippi State (SEC) (1-2): Mississippi State by 9. Don't let Miss State's 1-2 start fool you: the Southeastern Conference Bulldogs are coming off a breakout 2010 season that ended with a blowout victory over the Big 10 Michigan Wolverines in the Gator Bowl. Meanwhile, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs...dang, this is the Battle of the (southern) Bulldogs right here!...have suffered two close losses to southern-region Conference USA teams: 19-17 at Southern Mississippi and 35-34 vs. Houston. In both games, La. Tech blew leads in 4th quarter. Mississippi State's 694 rushing yards far outweighs La. Tech's 522 and will play a greater role for the Bulldogs' offense than La. Tech QB Nick Isham's greater passing depth of 693 yards vs. Miss. State's Chris Relf at 493.

Nevada (1-1, 1-0 WAC) at Texas Tech (Big 12) (2-0): Texas Tech by 14. Another WAC team goes to the football-loving state? And it's sure telling how the defending WAC champions couldn't even play a BLOWOUT game against the worst WAC team of 2010 (no I'm not still gloating I'm just observing). The Wolf Pack's Tyler Lantrip has NOTHING (57.1% completions in 331 yards) against the Texas Tech Red Raiders' Seth Doege (81.8%, 727). These two teams diverge greatly in advantages of rushing (Nevada 544 yards and 4 TDs, Texas Tech 335 and 5) and receiving (Texas Tech 794 and 10, Nevada 395 and 1). In their last meeting, Texas Tech beat Nevada 35-19 in Reno on September 6, 2008. And that was when Colin Kaepernick (now with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers) was the starting QB!

Colorado State (Mountain West Conference) (2-1) at Utah State (1-1): Utah State by 6. The Utah State Aggies, otherwise not an extremely well-storied football team, showed some promise in its opener when it held 1st-half leads against the defending national champs Auburn Tigers but lost 42-38. Colorado State has had 10 bowl appearances since 1992 (the latest being a win in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl). (Before 1999, Colorado State was in the WAC.) Utah State, since 1998 and through 4 affiliations (Big West, independent, Sun Belt, and now WAC) has never had an above-.500 season since losing the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl. In both rushing and receiving, Utah State (6.7 and 12.2 vs. Colorado State's 4.2 and 8.8), and in rushing, Utah State has produced twice as many TDs as Co. State has.

UC Davis (I-AA) (1-2) at Hawaii (1-2): Hawaii by 10. Bummer. ESPN.com lacks stats for the UC Davis Aggies. Of course I-AA teams are easy wins for I-A WAC teams (unless it's SJSU in 2010 vs. UC Davis...)

18 September 2011

Another blown opportunity for the Spartans

San Jose State lost 17-14 to the defending WAC first-place team and defending Fight Hunger Bowl champion Nevada Wolf Pack on yet ANOTHER last-minute end zone interception. Similar thing happened in 2010 in the Spartans' game against Utah State. So far, SJSU is 0-3 including 0-1 in the WAC, and I initially got a bit heated and (sorry if it offended you on facebook) and predicted a winless season. HOWEVER...in terms of scoring deficits, SJSU is improving, having lost in week 1 to Stanford by 54 (57-3) and in week 2 to UCLA by 10 (27-17). In the UCLA game 2 weeks ago SJSU had tied the game 17-17 after 3 quarters then completely shut down afterwards. Yesterday v. Nevada, both teams were tied 7-7 after the first, then Nevada led 17-7 after 3 quarters, and then SJSU's Brandon Rutley made a 4th-and-1 touchdown run fighting off a pile of Nevada defenders to put the score where it ended up being. With just over a minute left in the 4th, SJSU had driven 69 yards all the way to Nevada's 15 yard line. Noel Grigsby caught Matt Faulkner's 1st-and-10 pass in the end zone out of bounds, so it was an incomplete. The dagger in the Spartans' chest came in Faulkner's 3rd-and-9 pass targeted to Chandler Jones that got intercepted by Nevada's Duke Williams. At least SJSU had 2 interceptions, including Peyton Thompson's 1st-quarter one at the end zone to disrupt Nevada's first touchdown attempt. Also, SJSU stopped Nevada on one of its two 4th-and-1 plays.

Some other statistical highlights:
- SJSU again improved in passing yards with a 152-112 edge over Nevada in contrast with last week when the Spartans trailed the UCLA Bruins by 30 yards (115-145). SJSU averaged 4.6 yards per pass v. Nevada, 1.1 better than against UCLA. Accounting for this improvement is the return of senior quarterback Matt Faulkner who recovered from concussions after sitting out the previous game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dasmen Stewart had some playing time vs. the Wolf Pack during the 1st half.
- However, SJSU slipped in rushing with just 138 yards yesterday vs. 202 against UCLA.
- Still, San Jose State quarterbacks have yet to complete a touchdown pass.
- Two of the three lost fumbles by the Spartans led to Nevada scores. First was in the beginning of 2nd quarter, game tied, and Pompey Festejo intercepted a Nevada pass and returned it for 30 yards only to fumble it in Nevada's 43, and Nevada scored a touchdown + extra point off that recovery. Also in the 3rd quarter, Dasmen Stewart fumbled on a 1st-and-10 (no he didn't rush 70 yards contra what ESPN play by play says), and Nevada scored a field goal off the recovery and led 17-7.

BTW, the whole game is available in its entirety at WatchESPN.com. (SJSU's final drive begins at 2 hrs 57 mins in the video.)

Elsewhere in WAC football...
The ONLY Western Athletic Conference team that won on week 3 was...Fresno State! A 27-22 win over the I-AA North Dakota. Two of my six picks from Friday were correct in terms of win/loss...I was almost right about UTEP/NMSU (UTEP won by 6, I thought NMSU would win by 3), almost right about SJSU (I picked SJSU by 7...almost was really SJSU by 4), and totally wrong about Hawaii/UNLV (I picked Hawaii by 17, but it ended up really UNLV by 20). NMSU's loss to UTEP could provide some relief and confidence for the Spartans, who face the Aggies in San Jose on Saturday afternoon. NMSU was the second-worst WAC team in 2010, and in that season the Aggies beat the Spartans 29-27 on a no-time-left touchdown; SJSU did rally from a 17-3 deficit to lead 27-23 with just under 4 minutes left. If SJSU does indeed redeem itself and beef up its defense and stop throwing interceptions and committing so many penalties it might earn its first victory of 2011 against last year's undesired foe. Otherwise it'll be yet another horrendous season and possibly lead to the firing of second-year head coach Mike McIntyre.

16 September 2011

My WAC football picks for Saturday

Nevada at San Jose State: SJSU by 7. SJSU has gone 8-2 in its past 10 home openers including last year a barely won contest against the FCS Southern Utah 16-11. As of now on ESPN.com, SJSU QB Matt Faulkner, a jr. college transfer who went to high school in Texas, has a passer rating of 113.3 compared to Nevada's starter Tyler Lantrip with 110.6. SJSU's backup Dasmen Stewart showed much promise last week against UCLA (15 of 31 completions, 111 yards) and has a rating of 72.4 vs. Nevada's backup Cody Fajardo (29.4). Both are redshirt freshmen! Brandon Rutley's 65-yard touchdown carry from last week notwithstanding, Nevada has an edge in rushing (average 5.5 yards per carry vs. SJSU's 3.8). Same with receiving, but no one in Nevada has outdone Noel Grigsby (with a high of 24 yards) or Jabari Carr (high 64 yards).

Idaho at #9 Texas A&M (Big 12): TAM by 28. Too easy to predict a regular national powerhouse is going to run over a mediocre mid-major conference team. Just like all those lopsided SJSU games vs. Stanford (lost 57-3) this year or last year v. Alabama (56-3).

Houston (Conference USA) at Louisiana Tech: Houston by 7. The C-USA Houston Cougars are coming off an abnormally mediocre 2010 season after being in bowls from 2005 to 2009. This game should come off similar to last week's UCLA/SJSU game where SJSU, coming off two very poor seasons, showed much potential against UCLA, whose 2010 season was also mediocre despite many bowl appearances in recent past seasons. In its opener, La. Tech faced another C-USA team, Southern Mississippi, and lost 19-17 following a 49-yard field goal by Southern Miss' Danny Hrapmann with 2.5 minutes remaining. Southern Miss is another routine bowl school like Houston...and Brett Favre went to USM!

UTEP (C-USA) at New Mexico State: NMSU by 3. UTEP used to be in the WAC but joined C-USA in 2005. Last time these two teams met (Sept. 3, 2005), UTEP won 34-17 in Las Cruces, N.M. However, UTEP has struggled in C-USA and made runner up bowl appearances in 2005 and 2010 and otherwise had below-.500 seasons the other times. In rushing, NMSU has the edge (2.3 vs. 1.3) and same in receiving (15.5 vs. 13.4).

North Dakota (Great West, FCS) at Fresno State: Fresno State by 21. What's more to say about a Division I newcomer and unimpressive FCS team that lost to the WAC's Idaho 44-14?

Hawaii at UNLV (Mountain West): Hawaii by 17. The U of Nevada Las Vegas team has had a HORRENDOUS several seasons recently compared with the WAC's U of Nevada RENO. And Hawaii has also been a regular WAC hotshot. To the bookies and gamblers in Sin City, it's obviously stupid to bet on the home team just because.

11 September 2011

Obligatory 9/11 post

On September 11, 2001, I was in fifth grade and learned about the attacks from a school announcement. I first saw the video of the plane crashes in the World Trade Center and Pentagon when I came home after school. This event was so serious that NEARLY EVERY broadcast channel jumped from regular programming to news coverage. Then came the war in Afghanistan a month later, and still continuing to this day with a drawdown a few years to come. The crazy thing was that the summer before 9/11 I visited China with my family, and to have flown on an airliner just a month before a terrorist hijacking...wow. I'm lucky my flight wasn't targeted. 10 years later, do we still have the same freedom we as americans were still able to have? The USA PATRIOT Act (this year extended by Obama til 2015) loosened restrictions on communications surveillance and wiretapping.

And look at all the hysteria by the Transportation Security Administration in the wake of thwarted, unsuccessful terrorist plots. First, in 2006 the TSA banned liquid bottles after some terrorists in the UK tried smuggling liquid explosives into a flight to North America. Then after the failed underwear bomber came body scanners. Even though they aren't the best at catching weapons, they're still around. And recently all those horror stories about excessive intrusion of personal privacy in pat down searches, such as elderly people needing to remove adult diapers or the man with a urostomy bag whose pat down got him wet. Doesn't this send the message to terrorists that they're winning? In comparison to what happened in Oklahoma City on 4/19/1995 when the federal government just treated Timothy McVeigh as a kook and prosecuted, convicted, and executed him? Rather than indicate that McVeigh would successfully scare the pants off everyone in America?

In contrast to what Clinton did to McVeigh, George W. Bush decided to go to war with Afghanistan and rejected an offer by the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden if the US ended military action in Afghanistan. (After the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton administration aggressively sought bin Laden through military actions in the Middle East.) On May 1, 2011, US special forces finally killed bin Laden in Pakistan; Obama said in a 2008 presidential debate, "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority." As screwy as Obama's leadership may be right now, at least this is a promise kept.

And apparently, Islamic terrorism may be a bit overblown:

Around the 4:50 mark of the video, this is where the "treat terrorists like kooks" debate begins between Thom Hartmann and A.W.R. Hawkins.

10 September 2011

SJSU football week 2: another parallel to 2010?

So SJSU just lost its 2nd game and is now 0-2 after a hard-fought 27-17 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. I notice a parallel between the first 2 games of 2010 too.

In 2010:
9/4/10: @Alabama (the defending BCS champions): SJSU lost 48-3
9/11/10: @Wisconsin (ranked #14 that week and Rose Bowl runners-up): lost 27-14

However, SJSU played its home opener on 9/18 and came from behind to beat Southern Utah 16-11.

In 2011:
9/3/11: @Stanford (defending Orange Bowl champs): lost 57-3
9/10/11: @UCLA (unranked, 0-1 from losing to the Conference USA Houston): lost 27-17

Next Saturday, SJSU plays its home opener against Nevada. Although Nevada is the defending WAC champion and defending Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl champion, its top quarterback Colin Kaepernick was drafted this year by the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Furthermore, Nevada got steamrolled today by BCS runners-up Oregon 69-20. Now this looks like Nevada's SJSU/Stanford game, except with a little inflation due to the factor of Nevada coming off a 1st place WAC season v. SJSU being the worst in the 2010 WAC and Oregon being 1st, Stanford 2nd in the 2010 Pac-10 (the last season as Pac10, the Pac12 now has former Mtn. West schools Utah and Colorado).

End of rant, the interesting thing about the Stanford game was that both SJSU QB's threw no interceptions. In contrast, Nevada's senior QB Tyler Lantrip threw 2 INT's v. Oregon. A really telling, outlying statistic in Stanford's grand stomping of the Spartans. Notice these ratios too (again citing the linked box scores):
- Passing yards: Stanford 232, SJSU 210; Oregon 331, Nevada 233. Wow, Oregon's passing advantage (42%) far outweighed Stanford's (10%).
- Rushing: However, SJSU's rushing play may need some calibrating, as Nevada held a slight 283-272 edge v. Oregon. In contrast, Stanford outrushed SJSU...141-27!

In tonight's game, SJSU against was out passed 140-116. And also the flipside in rushing, 268-202 (a far cry from last week's 141-27). Meanwhile, nearly a year ago against the RANKED Wisconsin, SJSU had the advantage in passing yards, 252-191, but trailed in rushing 212-55! Furthermore, tonight against UCLA, SJSU had ties at two instances and scored in the first 3 quarters. Against Wisconsin, SJSU scored its 14 points only in the 2nd half. And how, do you ask, did SJSU lose tonight? Despite an exchange of turnover plays between the two teams as they were tied 17-17 (since 3:14 left in the 3rd), UCLA scored a field goal off an interception (20-17), and SJSU totally gave up and let UCLA get a TD to seal the deal.

However, much credit to Spartan QB Brandon Rutley for that 65-yard TD run late in the 3rd quarter to tie the game.

Here's hoping for continued improvement and competition against the now stripped-down Nevada next week! Although these first two games mirror the first two of the disastrous 2010 season, the statistics tell a rather positive story.

01 September 2011

...and they did

The Parents Television Council reviewed the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards as the "Worst Cable Content of the Week" as I predicte last post. With the usual too-much profanity and "we need cable choice" line. And targeting Lil Wayne's song "John". (Oh, they also mention the Beavis and Butt-head cameo with Nicki Minaj!) And what is it with the PTC's line about boasting about the largest number of 12-year olds when in fact the age group is 12-35? (12-17, 18-35 are the usual Nielsen rating age groups.) B&C reported: "The telecast, which saw Katy Perry and Adele top the award winners and Beyonce confirm her pregnancy onstage, was also the most-watched in the network's target of persons 12-34, delivering 8.5 million viewers and a 10.8 rating in the demo, according to Nielsen."

29 August 2011

Quick comments on the PTC's new cartoon study

(note: page numbers refer to the printed ones not the ones you enter in at Adobe Reader)

The PTC today (I believe so) came out with a new study (summary) Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter. Basically that report attacks Cartoon Network for not rating its Adult Swim programming (9PM-6AM) properly and for marketing rated-R and TV-MA programming during TV-PG rated programming and worrying about teenagers (12-17 year olds) watching it, especially the TV-MA-rated Robot Chicken, which according to Nielsen Media Research is the 8th most watched animated cable show among that age group (p. 5). Well first of all why are they watching it in the first place when it's rated TV-MA and in first 3 time zones of the US after 10PM? (the show is scheduled at midnight Eastern and Pacific, 11PM elsewhere on cable, and on satellite providers carrying the East Coast feed times may be earlier.) As I look through the study the study provides examples of Family Guy, American Dad, and King of the Hill, episodes of which originally aired on primetime on the Fox broadcasting network. While PTC panicks over sexual content they claim is on TV-PG rated programming the only example of TV-PG programming as such is King of the Hill. Googling the PTC website, PTC rates King of the Hill with a mild "yellow light" rating but otherwise I can't find any other analysis of that show when it aired on Fox from 1997-2009. The examples of Family Guy and American Dad, both Seth MacFarlane-created series, usually are rated at least TV-14-DLS and were after 10PM, and many of the sexual examples had an S indicator in the content rating. The majority of the language examples had L indicators. The "male rape fantasy" example, an episode of American Dad, was rated TV-14-DSV (p. 23). If anything this study indicates the need for parents to be responsible for their kids TV viewing, and that the networks go out of their damn way to warn parents, and the PTC is essentially bullying and thinking the ratings system is too damn light. I mean ever since 2005 or 2006 I've seen TV networks putting the ratings box up after every commercial break not just at beginning of programs, and the Turner-owned networks TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network have enlarged them. Same with NBC and Viacom-owned nets like MTV, VH1, and TV land. And while PTC may be worried about such content, they should be thankful that the content ratings warned them.

As for the drug content and references to crystal meth (such as in King of the Hill) (p. 24), well why didn't PTC raise a ruckus about that when King of the Hill was originally on Fox? And Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" from the late '60s referred to cocaine yet I don't hear parents groups calling the legendary American country musician as a bad influence on children. What PTC is advocating in my opinion is that kids just watch preachy ABC after school specials and anything that makes their over prudent hearts bleed should be rated TV-MA. Go to the parentstv.org website and notice how their traffic lights rating system is a notch over what the networks recommend. The yellow-rated shows are "recommended for 14 and up" (TV-14 in the TV Parental Guidelines) and usually are applied to the TV-PG rated shows like The Office. The red-rated shows are recommended for 18 and older only but are usually for the TV-14 groups.

Further, this blog post by the right-wing Little Green Footballs (a blog that sometimes deviates from the US conservative establishment message) rips apart PTC founder Brent Bozell's new column that supplemented this study. Bozell continues lying and deceiving as he usually does in his occupation advocating right wing talking points as he doesn't point out how the Robot Chicken episode he was talking about was shown at midnight (enter any show in the Zap2It.com listings and there you can see when shows air).

28 August 2011

Expect the PTC to go haywire AGAIN.

The NY Times reported: "At VMAs, Young Stars With Fresh Mouths":
This was maybe the most bleeped award show in history, and certainly among the lewdest, from Lady Gaga’s opening monologue, in drag, channeling Andrew “Dice” Clay and Denis Leary, to Cloris Leachman swapping foul talk with the cast of “Jersey Shore,” to Justin Bieber making phallus jokes with his girlfriend Selena Gomez on the pre-show. The falling-flat toilet humor of last year’s host Chelsea Handler had nothing on this.


Introducing Lil Wayne, Drake gave in to the general mood with a brief speech that required some bleeping, the theme of the night. When Tyler, the Creator, accepted his award, half of his speech couldn’t be made out between the edits. (He was, though, the only artist who appeared genuinely moved to have won.) During the preshow, he’d made unkind gestures with his microphone toward the head of Jim Cantiello, one of the hosts. Mr. Cantiello repaid him later, after announcing that Tyler’s Twitter mentions placed him above Mr. Mars, whom he dislikes: “I can’t wait to hear your homophobic rap about that later,” Mr. Cantiello said.
If you're interested, check out the Parents Television Council's annual VMA-bash from 2008, 2009, and 2010. Thanks NY Times for reporting this so that I don't need to read the PTC's take on it. BTW, I was watching a Raiders preseason game instead of the VMAs, but congratulations Foo Fighters for winning Best Rock Video for "Walk":

Of course the VMAs had to shower Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga with the big awards (respectively: Video of the year, Best Male Video, and Best Female Video.) "ET" that crappy song won TWO awards (also Best Collabo)? And the untalented NICKI MINAJ wins BEST HIP HOP VIDEO for "Super Bass" (an average song at best)??? Oh well it's mainstream stuff. The professional categories I'll check later.

Here's my earlier post criticizing PTC's cable TV reviews. And Brent McKee has another article about the PTC, this time about the PTC opposing NBC's upcoming The Playboy Club.

13 August 2011

Federal budget cuts in 1959 restrained an economic recovery. Hear that, Washington?

I just finished reading the book Dwight D. Eisenhower by Tom Wicker, part of the American Presidents book series by Times Books, the book-publishing arm of the New York Times Company. In the wake of Congress' current budget-cut debate and the recession, I came across this narrative of the 1959 budget agenda (pp. 113-114):
Neither for the first nor last time, Eisenhower had misjudged the Democrats. In 1959, rather than being profligate spenders, they decided to outdo the president in reducing federal expenditures. By the time the two congressional parties were done leap-frogging over each other in ever bigger spending cuts, the fiscal 1960 budget they adopted featured a $269 million surplus. That may have please the White House but the inescapable economic fact was that such a dramatic one-year swing in federal spending—from a $13 billion deficit to a nearly—virtually strangled the economic recovery that had begun in April 1958.

In 1959, moreover, the Federal Reserve, which had been ritually keeping money tight since 1956, actually raised the crucial discount rate from 2.5 to 4 percent. Restrictive fiscal and monetary policy combined resulted in the shortest economic expansion of the post-war year, and in April 1960 the economy began sliding into a new recession, which was to last into 1961.
Vice President Richard Nixon would run for president in 1960 and lose against Senator John F. Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts. According to Wicker, "economic recession was prominent among the many factors that gave John F. Kennedy his razor-thin victory" (114). Similarly, I predict that a recession will influence a Republican victory over President Obama in the 2012 election. Poor economic conditions often influence voters to vote against the political parties in power. It happened in 1960, when voters decided not to elect the termed-out Republican Dwight Eisenhower's vice president to the highest executive position and instead opted for the Democrat, JFK. Similar thing in 1980 following an energy crisis and rising unemployment, when the incumbent Democratic president Jimmy Carter lost to the Republican former governor of California, Ronald Reagan (who would win re-election in 1984 despite a yearlong recession during his first term). In 1992, President George H.W. Bush (R) lost his re-election bid to the Democratic governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton after compromising with Congressional Democrats to raise some taxes to reduce a budget deficit and rising unemployment in 1991 and 1992.

(update) Note how during the 1950s the top tax rate was...91%...a possible contributing factor to the 1959 surplus. Although the late '90s also had budget surpluses, the top tax rate then was a much lower 39.6%.