Tag Archive for football

Thank goodness college football starts for real this weekend.

buckeyes 001OK now that the miserable non-conference schedule is out of the way, on to the real season. OSU is bunched up with a large number of undefeateds at the top of the polls. OSU can probably get to the BCS championship if they remain undefeated, but given weakness of schedule, they probably need help — if they end the regular season with the same record as an SEC and a PAC-12 team, I fear the Buckeyes would be odd man out. A quick glance suggests that these games and weekends could define who plays for the championship:

  • Weekend of September 29: #23 Wisconsin @ #3 OSU, #6 LSU @ #9 Georgia. Certainly OSU’s biggest bump in the road, and an LSU win on the road could vault them up the standings.
  • Weekend of October 5: #16 Washington @ #5 Stanford. Go Huskies!
  • Weekend of October 12: #2 Oregon @ #16 Washington, #20 Florida @ #6 LSU.
  • Weekend of October 19: #8 FSU @ #3 Clemson
  • Weekend of October 26: PSU @ #4 OSU
  • Weekend of November 9: #2 Oregon @ #5 Stanford, #6 LSU @ #1 Alabama
  • Weekend of November 23: #10 Texas A&M @ #6 LSU
  • Weekend of November 30: #1 Alabama @ Auburn, #3 Clemson at #12 South Carolina, #4 OSU @ #18 Michigan, #22 ND @ #5 Stanford, #8 FSU @ #20 Florida,
  • Weekend of December 7: Conference Championship games. Very possibly a rematch for OSU vs Northwestern or OSU vs Michigan?

Looking forward to a great season!

Too many bowls? More likely a short term demand problem

Per @CFTalkThrough, through 14 bowl games, attendance is down more than 11 percent from a year ago. 574,095 in 2011, 508,969 in 2012.

tresselToo many bowls? Maybe. But “looking at fan bases countrywide”:http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/, when you take 5.8M fans out of the market for bowl tickets because of OSU (#1 fan base nationwide) and PSU (#3 fan base nationwide) suspensions, well, sales are going to drop. Replacing these schools with NIUs and Minnesotas and the like simply is not going to move the same volume of tickets.

It probably doesn’t help that some of the other top programs — Texas, Auburn — had off years, and USC is in El Paso.

The market needs the top teams to have good seasons to make the postseason compelling.

I don’t understand injury report strategy

Apparently a lot of coaches think the smart thing to do is to “withhold injury information”:http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/09/20/lane-kiffin-supports-a-uniform-injury-policy/. Others “spew out injury information at the drop of a hat”:http://www.cleveland.com/buckeyeblog/index.ssf/2012/09/injuries_injuries_though_some.html

This seems obvious to me. At the limit, if you disclose nothing:

* Your opponent must assume that all your best players will play
* Your opponent thus must prep for your best possible effort
* Your opponent may get an upside surprise when they find you field a weaker team than for which they prepped.

On the other hand, if you disclose every possible injury:

* Your opponent will see that many of your players may be limited
* Your opponent may not plan for your best effort
* Your opponent may get a downside surprise when they find you field a stronger team than they expected.

It seems obvious to me that you should disclose every injury, major or minor.

What will the Big10 do now with PSU’s impending penalties?

So apparently the “hammer is going to fall on PSU tomorrow”:http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/ncaa-announce-penalties-against-penn-state-monday-paterno-141212517–ncaaf.html. Who knows what will happen, but I think it is reasonable to assume that PSU will be uncompetitive in football for at least the next 5 years. Either because of massive financial penalties (this seems likely to me as it penalizes the institution directly), significant scholarship reductions (less likely in my mind, as this hurts future kids), loss of TV and bowl exposure which has financial and recruiting implications (this will certainly happen), an outright ban on the team (unlikely), and the resultant flow of staff and players to other schools. It is hard to imagine that PSU will field a quality program for years.

So what does the Big 10 do? I am sure there are very active conversations today.

* Stand by PSU. The noble thing to do. And the Big10 at times has tried to be noble. I could certainly live with this. But you can bet this would hit the Big10 in the pocketbook, it will affect the next round of TV rights negotiations. And on every discussion of the Big10 standings, or Big10 allstar teams, or whatever, there will be that PSU logo and the PSU issues will come up. It is going to be a thorn for the league. But I could live with this.
* Dump them ASAP and try to fill their spot with 1 team. Given how damaged the Big10 would be with PSU in the league, I think the league would make substantial compromises to get the right 12th team in, so this may be ND’s best time to strike a deal that preserves some of their special treatment.
* Dump them ASAP and make a big play to the south. Try to pick up the disaffected ACC football programs who aren’t getting the revenue they should because of their ACC affiliation. This would be costly, but there are no cheap solutions in sight. If you could pick up 3-5 southern teams, this would create a dramatic positive press story and allow the league to bury the PSU story.

My bet is that the league does not stand by PSU. They may throw PSU a bone and say that they will reconsider them for full membership in 6-7 years but this is just window dressing.
to
I wonder if this PSU story was a motivator for some the Pac-12 schools who submarined the Big-10/Pac-12 linkup.

UPDATE: and so we know. The Big10 will stand behind PSU, as PSU works thru it’s misery. It is going to be 10 years before PSU is a competitive team again, if that. I’m not sure this was the right business move for the Big10, but it is noble. Perhaps having PSU ever-present in the league will serve to remind every other coach and institution, every day, that they need to put the kids and players first.

Stunningly, OSU pretty much controls its own destiny in the Big10 race

Despite losing two games to MSU and Nebraska, OSU can control its own destiny in the Big10 race. If OSU wins out, they will have 2 losses in the Leaders division.

* Wisconsin will have at least two losses — MSU and OSU — and thus would lose a tiebreaker to OSU
* Purdue would have at least two losses, including one to OSU, and thus would lose the tiebreaker. OK, seriously tho, Purdue will have many more losses.
* Illinois would have at least two losses, and would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with OSU.
* The only stretch is Penn State. They’d have one loss to OSU, and then you have to accept they will lose at least one more, and they stil have Illinois, Nebraska, and Wisconsin on the schedule. Fairly reasonable to expect them to drop another.

OK, so this edition of the Buckeyes may not have it in them to get it done this season, but even having a chance is surprising.

Thinking about gameday cell network performance

When I sit in Ohio Stadium for a football game, my fancy smartphone is a useless piece of metal and plastic. Some developers have tried to come up with apps to improve the gameday experience, but these apps miss the point. With 105,000 fans in the stadium, another huge set of ticketless fans milling around outside, all the stadium staff as well as security and service staff outside the stadium — there are probably 200,000 network devices in 30-40 acres all trying to jam onto the system, and all failing. The cell network simply can’t handle the load.

Our cell networks are wonderful things, but in the build out of our networks, the notion of broadcast has been left behind. 98% of the fans want the same exact data — top 25 scores, breaking football news, in-game replays, radio game feed. And yet the cell network and data apps feed this data to each user via dedicated single-user transactions. Cell broadcast exists in the standards but is not really in use in networks or handsets. Qualcomm tried to push Mediaflo for this use but got very little uptake and eventually shut down the service.

It’s unfortunate that the idea of broadcast has been left behind. It would be hugely useful in these kinds of crowded venues. I wonder if Qualcomm might not have succeeded had they just focused on NFL and NCAA football fans — people who spend stupid amounts of money on tickets and related gameday expenses, and who would probably spend money on dedicated gameday data services. It is not an easy service to provide tho. It requires spectrum, devices using that spectrum, and local content assemblage and editorial. There may be too many moving parts. It might be easier just to truck in lots of picocells to events and say screw it, dynamically expand the cell network as needed.

Using the WatchESPN iPad app, and it is not bad. Worth an install.

Following up on my last post about “my college football digital media setup”:http://theludwigs.com/2011/09/my-college-football-digital-media-setup/, I’ve been playing around with the WatchESPN app and it is not bad, if you are on a supported carrier you can watch reasonable quality video over a wifi connection. I use it at home to keep tabs on a second game while watching a primary game on the TV, but I can use it on any wifi connection anywhere, not just at home. Still waiting for the BTN2GO app that has been promised.

Some people have suggested sites like http://www.bahistv.tk/ for watching feeds. This is one of many sites that attempts to find you a live feed of various sports content. In desperation it might be useful, but the signals are generally standard def and laggy/lossy at that. So it is useful to me in the same way that Skype is useful — if you are making an overseas call, where costs are high and quality is iffy, then Skype is super useful. For domestic calls where the incremental cost of a call is $0 and quality is good, Skype is of little utility. So with these video sites — if I don’t have access the content on a domestic cable/satellite carrier, then it is useful. But will never be my preferred choice because the quality is so poor.

My college football digital media setup

Well thank goodness we are playng football again! The worst offseason ever is over and the Buckeyes are back to their old ways, throttling the lesser teams of the Midwest. Despite having a new coach, new QBs, and 7-8 players sitting on the sidelines due to various infractions, the team looked very good against an admittedly overmatched Akron squad. Bauserman was way more mobile than we thought, Braxton Miller played well, new receivers arose and made some stellar grabs, the running game was fine, and the defense looked like another very good Buckeye defense. And Fickell seems to have the program under control, no rampant chaos due to the coaching change. Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa also looked strong against overmatched foes, should be a great race for the title this year.

Of course when you think football, you immediately think about getting all your digital media football assets in order for the season! Because it is not enough to just watch the games, you need to monitor 3 more simultaneously on your tablet and phone, you need to be reading the tweet stream, you need to participate in pools or other contests, etc. Here’s my lineup:

* Newspapers. The “Dispatch”:www.dispatch.com has always been the paper of record for OSU football but…the “Plain Dealer”:www.Cleveland.com has really upped it’s game. With some staff transitions happening at the Dispatch, I’m finding the PD to be the best read of the old guard so far this season.
* Blogs and new media. There are a lot of OSU blogs and to be honest they are somewhat repetitive — AlongTheOlentangy.com, ElevenWarriors.com, MenOfTheScarletAndGray.com, OurHonorDefend.com, TheBuckeyeBattleCry.com, DuaneLongReport.com, and more. I have all these in my Google Reader setup and they are all useful but I rarely read them all. Then there are the other college football blogs which cover the entire sport — “Dr. Saturday”: http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/blog/doc_saturday/rss.xml and “Every Day Should Be Saturday”:http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/ are reliably the best but there are millions. And millions that cover other teams. The Michigan blogs used to be entertaining but with the collapse of Michigan football, they have lost their edge.
* BCS polls. My “Blogroll” (that name should be retired) has links to all the BCS computer polls so that I can watch those by the second. And “BCS Guru”:http://www.bcsguru.com/bcs_standings.htm for computed projections of BCS standings.
* “Yahoo Pickem”:http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/college for engaging with communities in a competitive way
* Twitter follows. The top sports writers, on air sports reporters, and bloggers are worth following — @edsbs, @smartfootball, @BCSfootball, @PlaybookMark, @HuskySportsNow, @Andy_Staples, @IntelligentCFB, @MrCFB, @Nastinchka, @CornNation, @Adam_Jacobi, @ChipBrownOB, @PreSnapRead, @CharlesRobinson, @JayBilas, @PeteThamelNYT, @DanWetzel, @rollerCD, @espn4d, @LoriSchmidt, @GerdOzone, @brdispatch, @greggdoyelcbs, @ramzyn, @dennisdoddcbs, @slmandel, @marcushartman, @PDBuckeyes, @Ivan_Maisel, … Oh gosh i probably forgot a ton.
* I’ve cleared 4 slots on my iPhone home screen for sports apps. ESPN Scorecenter for scores, tho they can get awfully behind on peak Saturdays. Yahoo Sportacular as a backup, and I like Yahoo’s in game visualization a little better. SB Nation for access to commentary and community during the week, tho I am not overwhelmed with the app yet. CFStats for detailed stats — this app is comprehensive but quite slow. I will look to change this lineup during the season as I try out more apps.
* On the iPad, the HD versions of Scorecenter and Sportacular.
* Video. Of course I have Comcast at home so I can get games in HD realtime. Also trying to get WatchESPN on the iPad to work tho having some difficulties proving to it that I have a subscription with one of the supported providers. And also BTN2Go which also doesn’t seem to like Comcast at this point. XfinityTV on the iPad unfortunately doesn’t seem to let you watch live sports.
* Google SMS. When I am in Ohio Stadium or another crowded venue, and data services have been crushed by the load, and voice is nearly crushed, I can sometimes squeak out SMS queries for scores, so I have this in my contact list. The score update app of last resort.

OK with all this in place, I am ready for the season!

Which fruit is the fruitiest?

You have a basket of wonderful fresh fruit delivered weekly to your house. Melons, apples, peaches, oranges, cherries, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates, etc. Maybe even an olive or a tomato. In all the best varieties and at the peak of ripeness. The honeycrisp apples are crisp and tart and cold. The cantaloupe is cold and juicy and flavorful. The strawberries have the deep red flesh of the best homegrown varieties and an amazing smell. The cherries are flawless and sweet. The peaches are juicy and firm but not too firm. The pomegranates open easily and the seeds just fall out. Really, it is just an orgy of fruitiness. OK, sure, it is fruit, and there are a few pieces here and there that are a little mushy, and a few that are not quite ripe. And week to week, one variety may outshine the others as the season moves one. But overall, it great basket of fruit weekly and you are very happy.

At the end of the fruit season, you are asked to taste all the fruit in the current week’s basket, two at a time. And then answer the question, “Which fruit is the fruitiest?”

But they are all good! And different. And good at different times. How would one answer that question? Why would the question even be posed? What would any answer even mean? Would we quit trying to grow the “losing” fruit? Would we try to breed oranges to make them more cherry-like? (Perhaps you like “Grapples”:http://www.grapplefruits.com/.) If a November pear is better than an August peach, do we just quit eating fruit in August? The entire discussion is just strange.

So many people — fans, commentators, US senators, etc — would have you believe that this is the best kind of system by which to judge a college football season. And that the bowl system is somehow wrong. That the only fair and American way to judge the season is to have some subset of teams play each in a single elimination playoff at year end.

This is wrong on so many levels. The sports of baseball and basketball permit multi-game series to determine the better of two teams, this eliminates any single-game hiccups. This is just not physically possible in football. The notion that a single game determines the absolute better of two teams is odd; a system that weights and values the entire resume of work of a team seems more rational. It is not obvious what a single game win really says other than “Team A was better than Team B tonight at this particular location”. Which fruit is really the fruitiest? I have no idea and a single-elimination playoff series is not really going to answer that.

Further, the bowl system today allows roughly half the teams in the FBS to enjoy an additional month of practice to better themselves. And then 1/2 of those teams get to end the season on a high note and go home with a trophy. That is a lot of practice time and goodwill spread around across a lot of teams. Replacing this with a system that has only 1 winner and a bunch of losers does not seem like a net improvement for the athletes involved. Yes one team feels a lot better, and perhaps a few more feel good about having had their shot, but the rest feel no better and possibly worse.

And the adults in the system should be running the system for the benefit of the students, who are relatively powerless, not for the benefits of frustrated fans or others. Does a move to a playoff system help the students in some fashion? It is a net reduction in goodwill for most of the athletes, is it worth it to celebrate one single team which may or may not really be the best team of the season? And is the extra playing time demanded of the students balanced by any sort of compensation for the time spent and the health risk incurred?

There are economic arguments for a playoff, but the economics of NCAA football are so screwy it is hard to give these arguments any weight. Any proposal which brings a lot more money into the sport without distributing that money to the athletes involved is morally suspect.

So a playoff has no obvious benefits for the athletes and is of dubious value in establishing which team is “best”. And in the process of distilling the sport down to a simple ill-conceived yes/no question, we would lose some of the in-season and off-season chatter that is so unique to the sport. The gnashing of teeth about the injustices of being ranked in a certain way or being excluded from certain events. The back-and-forth about the weaknesses of other conferences, about the inadequacies of other team’s schedules, all the “would-of could-of should-of” talk. All this turns into deep-seated resentment and hatred which is the pulse that drives college football.

College basketball and March Madness are fun, but ultimately are somewhat passionless. The regular season of basketball has become a drag. Individual games just don’t matter that much. A loss doesn’t sit with you and gnaw at you for years. It would be terrible if college football became just like this. There is no reason for it. Let’s embrace the difference and the wackiness that is college football and let it thrive.

Should some things change in the game? Sure. We need to pay more attention to head injuries. The economics of the sport are ridiculous. The early season games against hugely mismatched opponents all for the purposes of money do a great disservice to the sport. Let’s fix these things. But leave the end of the season craziness alone.

Getting your Minnesota hate on

OK it is hard to really find great reasons to hate Minnesota football. Their current level of ineptitude is historic.

But I can always reach back to the events of early 1972 when the “UM team and fans attacked the visiting OSU basketball team, sending several players to the hospital”:http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1085766/index.htm, and never really owning up to their responsibility and apologizing for their actions. Dave Winfield went on to great personal success but I’ve always viewed him as a dbag for his actions on that night.

So here is hoping that UM football is perpetually bad as a form of karmic payback, and here is hoping that OSU rolls up its second shutout in a row.

Get Your Purdue Hate On!

OK it is hard to get excited this week for Purdue but courtesy of the lead Iowa blogger, here is your “guide to hating Purdue”:http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com/2010/10/5/1720245/purdue-hate-week-the-enemies-list. Good stuff.

Odd/interesting college football numbers

* Michigan is a “25 point favorite”:http://www.vegasinsider.com/college-football/odds/las-vegas/ over Bowling Green this weekend. Really? Did anyone watch Michigan give up 37 to UMass? Not a betting man but tempted to start.
* Ohio State ranked “11th by Sagarin for purposes of BCS”:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/fbt10.htm. With a string of weak opponents still on the slate, this is a little concerning, tho if OSU wins out, its position in the human polls is pretty unassailable. My gosh, USC who has looked awful is ranked well ahead of OSU.
* Yay Duke is “#1 in kickoff return yards!”:http://espn.go.com/college-football/statistics/team/_/stat/returning That happens when you are always returning kickoffs because you’ve been giving up scores left and right.
* Yay “OSU is #1 in field goals”:http://espn.go.com/college-football/statistics/team/_/stat/kicking. Ignoring the implications for red zone ineffectiveness, this might lead you to believe that OSU special teams are doing great. Which they are not.

Apparently Ohio State doesn’t want my money

A rough day to try to follow the Buckeyes from Seattle. Comcast sorry, Xfinity is only carrying one BigTenNetwork feed, the Michigan/UMass game. And while I am enjoying the schadenfreude of that game as Denard comes back to earth (and wow does Michigan’s D suck), I would rather watch OSU.

Yes if I had Dish or DirecTV I could watch, but I don’t want to go thru the brain damage of switching video providers just to watch one game that was over on the first possession. Fail one, why isn’t there a PPV option on Comcast?

Next try is to watch online via one of the many purported video streams. None of which work. The pure web ones all are hosted on various sketchy domains, most of which want me to bet on something, and none of them seem to show any video. Fail two, why oh why won’t the Big Ten Network let me buy a stream?

3rd try is to at least listen to the game via a stream from the official radio station, WBNS. They will let me pay for a single game or season of audio, $4.95 for a game, good for them! But of course their embedded player doesn’t work on a Mac.

Now I am reduced to listening to “Scarlet and Gray Sports Radio”:http://www.ustream.tv/channel/scarlet-and-gray-sports-radio on ustream which is a fairly amateurish play by play but at least it works. Oh and it appears to be on a delay, since the “ESPN gamecast”:http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/gamecast?gameId=302610194 is ahead.

The best live option is Twitter.

Pretty terrible experience overall. I would happily pay a reasonable per-game fee to get something of quality on a Mac or an iPad.

Preventing Football Head Injuries

It’s increasingly obvious that powers-that-be in football at all levels have to make some changes to protect players from head trauma.

MEMS-based accelerometers are obviously super cheap now; why aren’t these in every football helmet made, along with necessary processing and memory to cache results both instantaneous and cumulative. And with results available to a trainer on the sidelines via wireless or some other means.

And if a player’s helmet records a certain level of instantaneous or cumulative impact, then that player is out of the game or practice until evaluated by a doctor.

Additionally this data is tracked over a player’s lifetime and if certain cumulative levels are reached, then the player is pulled for medical evaluation.

This is not some crazy new idea. VT trialed a system in 2007 based on Simbex technology. Riddell had a helmet design in 2007 with some of this. At that time the cost was quoted as $1k per helmet but with Wii controllers retailing at $20-40 MSRP, there is no reason why a lower cost system can’t be devised. Perhaps it won’t have the same level of accuracy and responsiveness as the $1K system but there must be a reasonable low cost version 1.0 compromise.

The game has to change. Measurement is a start. Rule and equipment changes must follow.

Every hour the NCAA spends chasing after athlete eligibility issues instead of chasing after helmet safety issues is an hour misspent, almost criminally so. Yes eligibility issues are important and the NCAA has to address the economics of college football, but the health of the players involved is much more important.

The best of the day’s college football reading…

* Apparently “some Miami writers think that Ohio Stadium is not that loud”:http://www.thebuckeyebattlecry.com/?p=7515 and some Miami players think that “Everybody wants to come see us. They ain’t coming just to see Ohio State.” Yes that is correct, everyone will want to see the Miami Hurricanes, like they want to see a turkey on Thanksgiving or crabs in a crab boil — fully cooked, dismembered, bits of skeleton lying around.
* “EDSBS’s take”:http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/2010/9/8/1676569/writer-ohio-stadium-is-not-loud on stadium loudness. The caption on the Tressel picture is understated and OUTSTANDING.
* Meanwhile the NCAA is hard at work “suspending players for selling jerseys”:http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/A-J-Green-s-only-crime-was-trying-to-make-a-buc?urn=ncaaf-268222. OK perhaps this player is not that innocent, he did “sell” the jersey to an agent. But when universities are shoveling in the money from licensing fees, it is immoral to whack on this kid for making a buck off his jersey.

This is the best week of the season for Boise State

Congrats to them, they won a great game and got a nice pop in the polls and can dream of going to the championship game. Everyone is all like “OMG Boise might play in the championship”:http://bcsguru.blogspot.com/2010/09/boise-state-usc-two-paths-to-national.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+BcsGuru+(BCS+Guru).

But really this is it for them. The “rest of their schedule”:http://espn.go.com/college-football/team/schedule/_/id/68/boise-state-broncos dooms them. They have no chance to further impress voters, they only have opportunities to let voters down. Meanwhile the teams in the major conferences all have chances thru October and November to create buzz. Even if ‘Bama or OSU or other schools drop a game, they will still be able to make it up by clearing the rest of their schedules. Fair or not, I can’t imagine Boise holding a top 2 spot.

Looking back at Marshall, ahead to Miami

Quality start for OSU last night. Diversified offense — tight end and fullback catching balls! Pryor looked Rose-Bowl sharp. Defense was solid tho not as aggressive as you might hope — but that will come as they gel. Special teams obviously need some work!

How optimistic should we be about Miami game? Miami also pushed around an overmatched opponent, winning 45-0 over FAMU.

* Marshall is a much stronger program than FAMU (see “Sagarin ratings”:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/fbt10.htm).
* Miami had a nice offensive outing, 405 total yards. OSU was even better, 529 total yards.
* Miami gained 155 yards on the ground, 4.3 per carry. Nice but OSU gained 280 on the ground, 6.8 per carry.
* And of course the game is at Columbus.

American Football by Harold Pinter

Season kicks off tomorrow, so let’s class up the joint:

American Football by Harold Pinter

Hallelullah!
It works.
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!

Hallelullah.
Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

Awesome on so many levels. From “HaroldPinter.org”:http://www.haroldpinter.org/poetry/poetry_football.shtml, worth reading the discussion there.

Servicing my college football addiction

Finally, the first week of college football. And the first week of servicing my addiction. Here is the plan for this year:

* In person attendance at games: We’ll make the November Penn State and Michigan games at Ohio Stadium. 4 tickets to each game at $70/pop comes to $560, we are able to easily sell the unused portion of our season ticket books. Oh of course to get the rights to buy 4 tickets and a parking pass, we had to join the “Buckeye Club”:http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=17300&ATCLID=1398165 at the appropriate level, and make ongoing scholarship donations which qualify us to join the “President’s Club”:http://giveto.osu.edu/donorsocieties/presidentsclub/index.html. But we will pretend those aren’t related — in fact we would donate the scholarship money anyway, to help Marion County students with demonstrated need make it through Ohio State. Oh and we will ignore the travel expense to Ohio as well, since we are going to be there primarily to visit family. Oh and I may sneak to a USC or UW game in addition but we will see. And depending on how the Buckeyes do, we may go the bowl game, count on another $2500 for tickets/travel/accommodations in Glendale (hey, go big or go home!).

* Watching all other weekends on TV: Sports, and particularly college football, are at least 50% of the driver for our cable/dish subscriptions. We subscribe to enough of a tier on cable to get ESPN, Fox Sports, and the Big-10 network in HD. And since we are splitting time between Seattle and Ohio this fall, we have to maintain subscriptions in both locations since cable and dish subscriptions are not portable. We’ve tried a variety of ways to get around this, but there are no quality solutions — ESPN3 is low quality, the various pirated feeds are even worse, slingbox doesn’t really work for HD content. So say half a cable bill monthly in two locations is attributable to football, that is $50/month * 2 locations * 6 months == $600.

* Tracking on the PC/iPad. When I’m at home watching game A, I want to track other games on a medium sized screen. ESPN, ESPN3, and SI are the best of a bad lot — all crammed with ads, tend to have load issues on Saturdays, tend to lag the real action, etc etc. I used to use Sportsline but investment in that site seems to be trending down. I’m not going to allocate any of our internet costs to sports, we would have the same connection if sports didn’t exist.

* Tracking on the iPhone. A real weak spot. The ESPN app is the best score tracker — customizable for just my teams, reasonable UI. But massive load issues on Saturdays, something has clearly been engineered poorly in the transaction model for this app, since it is way more load-sensitive than the web site which makes no sense at all. Backup are the websites for SI and ESPN. Twitter also critical since every major sportswriter/sportsblogger is active on twitter. Of course everyone of these data services fails totally when at a live game, as 100K people all try to hit the same cell tower at once. Google SMS is the fallback of last resort, it can sometimes work when the 3G/Edge networks are failing. You can certainly allocate half my cell phone data plan to sports for the 6 months of college football, so let’s say another $300. Yes I would look harder at a different data plan if I didn’t track sports. Overall the lack of a great app to track sports teams on the iPhone is a little surprising.

OK so $3100 in costs to attend games and bowl, $900 in telecom costs, so $4K in direct costs a year to watch college football. Plus the opportunity cost of time — at least 16 weekends, 8 hours of time, 128 hours. And I am probably not being honest with myself about that time commitment. But eternally hopeful that the Buckeyes will win the national championship, thereby justifying all of it!