CONFERENCE BELTS: Week 6 (late) Primer

Missed a week and nearly missed this week.  But, we are on it.  And, some changes occurred.  Northern Illinois lost another belt, dropping the Unified MAC Belt to Central Michigan.  The Huskies now lost both of its titles that it carried coming into the season.  Meanwhile, Mississippi lost to Florida, dropping its title as the Undisputed SEC Champion [holder of both the Unified and Battle belts].  The Gators defend the Battle Belt this weekend versus Missouri, which has yet to qualify for the Unified Belt.

Let’s look at this week’s slate, which is pretty full.

Week 6 Unified Conference Belt Defenses:

  • ACC: Miami (FL) at Florida State (c) [14th defense of their tenth reign]
  • Big 12: TCU (c) at Kansas State [fourth defense of their first reign]
  • Conference USA: Southern Miss at Marshall (c) [second defense of their first reign]
    • Marshall defeated Southern Miss on Friday 9 October
  • MAC: Central Michigan (c) at Western Michigan [first defense of their 13th reign]
  • Mountain West: Boise State (c) at Colorado State [fourth defense of their second reign]
  • Pac 12: Washington State at Oregon (c) [sixth defense of their 16th reign]

Week 6 Battle Belt Defenses:

  • ACC: Miami (FL) at Florida State (c) [21st defense of fifth reign]
  • American: Tulane at Temple (c) [fourth defense of first reign]
  • Big Ten: Maryland at Ohio State (c) [sixth defense of 19th reign]
  • SEC: Florida (c) at Missouri [first defense of 12th reign]

Week 6 Middleweight Belt Defense:

  • Sun Belt: Appalachian State (c) at Georgia State [fifth defense of first reign]

Week 4 Results

  • Unified Big 12 Belt: TCU successfully defended against Texas Tech
  • Big Ten Battle Belt: Ohio State successfully defended against Western Michigan
  • MAC Battle Belt: Ohio State successfully defended against Western Michigan
  • Undisputed SEC Championship [Unified and Battle Belts]: Mississippi successfully defended against Vanderbilt
  • Southern Heritage Belt: Duke successfully defended against Georgia Tech
  • Southwest Heritage Belt: Texas A&M successfully defended against Arkansas
  • Sun Belt Middleweight Belt: Appalachian State successfully defended against Old Dominion

Week 5 Results

  • Undisputed ACC Championship [Unified and Battle Belts]: Florida State successfully defended against Wake Forest
  • American Battle Belt: Temple successfully defended against Charlotte
  • Big 8 Heritage Belt: Kansas State lost to Oklahoma State
  • Unified Big 12 Belt: TCU successfully defended against Texas
  • Undisputed Big Ten Championship [Unified and Battle Belts]: Ohio State successfully defended against Indiana
  • Unified MAC Belt: Northern Illinois lost to Central Michigan
  • Undisputed SEC Championship [Unified and Battle Belts]: Mississippi lost to Florida
  • Sun Belt Middleweight Belt: Appalachian State successfully defended against Wyoming


The first defense of a Unified Conference belt this season saw it change hands, while the first champion-versus-champion game was a close game before the Big Ten Battle Belt holder took the MAC Battle Belt.  Week 3 was not without its moments.

Week 4 is action packed as Ohio State turns around to defend its newly-acquired MAC Battle Belt against Western Michigan; this will be the MAC’s last scheduled chance this year.  At least the MAC will have a chance next year as the Battle Belt of the Sun Belt was defended by Oregon do not have a scheduled game against a Sun Belt team over the next couple of seasons.

Mississippi will defend both the Unified Conference belt as well as the SEC Battle Belt when it hosts Vanderbilt; Vandy only held the Unified Belt twice and has not done so since 1983!  Meanwhile, TCU will defend the Unified Big 12 belt when the Horned Frogs visit Texas Tech.  There are also two Heritage Belt defenses [Southern and Southwest], as well as a Middleweight defense of the Sun Belt.  Week 4 will be busy.

Week 4 Unified Conference Belt Defenses:

  • Big 12: TCU (c) at Texas Tech [second defense of their first reign]
  • SEC: Vanderbilt at Mississippi (c) [first defense of their fifth reign]

Week 4 Battle Belt Defenses:

  • Big Ten: Western Michigan at Ohio State (c) [fourth defense of 19th reign]
  • MAC: Western Michigan at Ohio State (c) [first defense of second reign]
  • SEC: Vanderbilt at Mississippi (c) [first defense of eighth reign]

Week 4 Middleweight Belt Defense:

  • Sun Belt: Appalachian State (c) at Old Dominion [second defense of first reign]

Week 4 Heritage Belt Defenses:

  • Southern: Georgia Tech at Duke (c) [second defense of second reign]
  • Southwest: Texas A&M (c) at Arkansas [seventh defense of seventh reign]

Week 3 Results

  • ACC Battle Belt: Florida State successfully defended against Boston College
  • American Battle Belt: Temple successfully defended against Massachusetts
  • Big Ten Battle Belt: Ohio State successfully defended against Northern Illinois
  • MAC Battle Belt: Northern Illinois lost to Ohio State
  • Unified SEC Belt: Alabama lost to Mississippi
  • SEC Battle Belt: Alabama lost to Mississippi
  • Battle Belt of the Sun Belt: Oregon successfully defended against Georgia State

The End of the End? How Alabama Lost and What it Means for the College Football Landscape

You’re an underdog.  You go into the game  essentially carrying the pride of your home state on your shoulders.  And, despite the pressure and seemingly impossible chances, you pull out a landmark victory for your program.

But, enough about South Alabama’s victory over San Diego State.  I want to talk about Alabama’s loss to Mississippi.

Now, I choose those words carefully.  Alabama LOST.  It is not to diminish what Mississippi did, which is WIN.  But, it is a fact that one team wins and one team loses; this is not soccer, after all.  And Mississippi did what they needed to do to win the game; good on them.  Besides, we’re not in the business of saying x-team lost and NOT y-team won [see this and this].

But the focal point of Alabama’s loss is related to how they played last night and more worthy of examination than what Mississippi did to win the game.  But, to give fair light to the latter…

Mississippi made plays with what they were given.  In any game, teams are handed situations with which they must handle.  Sometimes you are handed favorable situations and your tasks are much easier and the path absent of large hurdles.  In other cases, teams find disavantages and more obstacles with which to overcome.  Mississippi fell into the former — their job was made much easier thanks to Alabama miscues.  BUT, you still must capitalize on those “gifts.”  And that is what good teams do; that is what the Rebels did!

Look at the Florida-Florida State game in 2014.  The Seminoles continued to give the Gators gifts.  On three of tFSU’s first four possessions, Jameis Winston threw interceptions, giving Florida an excellent opportunity.  And what came of that?  Two field goals, plus another field goal [after a Seminole punt], and then a pick-six for Florida State.  A game that ended up 24-19 in favor of the Garnet and Gold could have easily been a runaway for Florida.  Instead, the Gators could not take advantage of the easier path presented to them and Florida State overcame their more difficult path.

Back to last night, Mississippi did what Florida [v. Florida State] could not; take advantage.  Again, that is what good teams do and Mississippi proved that they are at least good enough to take those opportunities and make the most of it.  And that is why Mississippi won the game.

But, how did Alabama (equally) lose the game?  And, what does it reflect on the state of the current great dynasty of college football?

Alabama lost based on a couple of factors.  First and foremost are the turnovers.  The very first one was self-inflicted — an Alabama player stumbling into returner ArDarius Stewart, which caused Stewart to fumble the football.  This was NOT a play directly caused by Mississippi; this was self-inflicted.  It made it easier for the Rebels and while Alabama’s defense stood tall, the score was still 3-0 right out of the box.  The other fumbled kickoff was all Mississippi; they directly caused the fumble and made the recovery.  All credit to them on that one.

What about the interceptions?  Again, Mississippi defensive backs caught the picks [and honestly dropped a couple of others], so it is not necessarily “self-inflicted.”  But, one can point to the decision-making of the Alabama QBs.  Cooper Bateman’s interception was on an ill-advised throw downfield.  Jake Coker’s first pick occurred when he stared down OJ Howard and CJ Johnson made a play on the ball.  Coker’s second interception was a back-foot throw that was completely unnecessary.

In all three cases, Mississippi defenders made the plays that they were supposed to make.  But in each of those three interceptions, the Alabama QBs made the job for the defenders easier than necessary.  The third pick was perhaps the most telling of what Alabama’s larger offensive issue may be.  It appeared that Coker did not go through his progressions; on that play he had players open in the shorter field.  And, given there was plenty of time remaining, that deep ball was completely unnecessary.  And yet, like the Johnson pick, Coker seemed to not just focus in on one player, but when pressured attempted to force it to that one player.  He deserved to get picked for that throw.  It was panicky and was not a great example of quality decision-making.

Ah, man!

Ah, man!

In the long term, that is an issue.  Bateman did not play poorly, and I think that had they stuck with Bateman, the read-option was going to open up the running for the QB.  ESPN highlighted how Mississippi collapsed on the running back, which would have allowed the QB to take off towards the left side of the field.  It was there, but the change at QB was made, and probably the better decision.  After all, Coker did make plays, both with his arm and his feet.

But, Coker’s ability to check down seems to be absent and that appeared to hurt Alabama last night.  There is a reason he did not beat out Blake Sims last season and the QB race this season was (and probably still is) unsettled.

Still, there is another offensive issue — the lack of a deep threat.  Look at how many times Alabama went deep and how, in each case, there was no true separation.  This is reinforced by 5.0 yards per pass attempt rate.  By not being able to stretch the field, it will make things tough on the run game.

For what it is worth, the run game is still solid.  Mississippi has a strong front line and did well shutting down the rushing attack early.  But, Alabama still averaged 5.1 yards on the ground and Derrick Henry still got his yards (23 for 127 and a touchdown).  But, I was still impressed with Mississippi’s defense.

Mississippi’s offense, on the other hand…I was less impressed with this.  Yes, some will point to the 6.7 yards per play average and that is fair; the Rebels got 433 yards on 65 plays.  BUT, 139 of those yards on two plays.  Two fluky plays.  The first was the high snap (which was bobbled), ill-advised desperation heave, ricochet off an Alabama defender right into the hands of a Mississippi receiver play.  That is about as fluky and lucky as you will see…66 yards to the house.  And that was on third down!  That’s not Mississippi racking up yards on Alabama; that’s a fluke.  Call it what it is.

The other play was the 73-yard pass that was reminiscent of the 2013 Iron Bowl play where Auburn tied it up.  When it looked like Chad Kelly was going to run, he pulls up at the last second and lobs a pass to a wide open Cody Core.  It was a great play and it really sucked in the Alabama defense.  However, what makes it “fluky” is not the borderline illegal forward pass; he was behind the line of scrimmage so it was legal from that perspective.  The problem was the linemen downfield, something that DID make the play illegal.  It is what it is; a penalty that the refs missed.  No different than the numerous holds that take place on any given play.  However, that such a penalty is NOT reviewable and the illegal forward pass IS reviewable is a “fluke” in the system.  Or, at the very least, it is a hole in the review process.

[NOTE: there was another game on Saturday where this same scenario occurred; player threw the ball when the were close to crossing the line.  O-linemen were downfield, but was not called.  the game where it occurred is escaping me, but i want to say LSU pulled it on Auburn].

Two plays — one a clear fluke and the other one where a (correct) penalty was not flagged.  Take those two “explosive” plays away and Mississippi averaged 4.67 yards per play.  Not as impressive as some make it out to be.  It is why I believe it is the defense that will carry the Rebels forward and NOT the offense.

Again, this is not to say that Mississippi did not earn the win.  They most certainly did.  Take those two plays away and who knows what would have transpired afterwards.  The point is that despite FIVE turnovers and nearly every break going the way of Mississippi, Alabama still had a chance to win it.  Alabama had their momentum crushed numerous times and yet STILL was able to come back.  Alabama (the team) could have folded like Alabama (the fans), but down double digits three different times and yet Alabama came back.  Despite all that, Alabama found themselves in it at the end.

But, here’s where the issue comes into play.  Either Mississippi is a really good team and Alabama is STILL really good to be able to stay in the game and have an honest chance [or three] to win this game.  OR, Alabama is no longer as good as usual and Mississippi beat a mediocre team even though they allowed that team to hang around.

The reason I bring that up is because various analyst are attempting to paint Mississippi as a legit BCS “Playoff” contender while also painting Alabama as being “past its prime.”  USA Today’s Dan Wolken argues that Alabama’s dynasty is replaced with “doubt” while Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde notes that the loss marks the beginning of the end for the dynasty.  The crux of the arguments appear to be that Mississippi is THAT good and Alabama is not as good.  But, if the Rebels beat a team that is on the decline, is Mississippi really that good?

If the “not as good” argument is referencing the recent championship teams, then yes the argument is valid.  However, if the argument is relative to this season, then I think it is wrong.  Alabama is still a good team and is STILL a team that can get into the “Playoff.”  But, this is also not the same championship-caliber teams that were seemingly invincible as in those three championship seasons.  I would say that this year’s Crimson Tide is more like the 2010 team; still a good team, but one that is not as complete as 2009 or 2011.

“But wait, aren’t you contradicting yourself?”  No.  What I see is an Alabama team that went through a few years where they were CLEARLY above everyone else.  Now, I see a team that is ahead of most of the other teams, but is closer to the norm.  I see a team with flaws that is still good enough to overcome them, but are also in a landscape today where other teams are good enough to exploit them [unlike before].  I see a more level playing field.  I see an Alabama team that does NOT compare to the 2009, 2011, or even the 2012 teams, but is still a very solid team that is still capable of running the table.

But, to say that this is the beginning of the end, as Forde did, misses the trend that even he notes — this is actually the end of the end.  The beginning of the end started in 2012 when Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel went into Tuscaloosa and unleashed a new demon onto the Alabama defense.  Remember, that game was a week after Alabama dispatched LSU and everyone thought it was clear sailing for the Tide.  That offensive style has been the equalizer to what Nick Saban built at Alabama.  It is one with which he is still struggling to adjust completely.  We saw that in 2013, 2014, and to a certain extent in Weeks 2 and 3 of 2015.

The beginning of the end of the dynasty started then.  Dynasties are defined by when one team separates itself so clearly from everyone else.  Now, Alabama does not have the clear delineation.  The Tide are still a great club, with as strong a front-seven there is in college football [secondary is a little suspect] and a strong running game.  But, the difference between the Tide and everyone else is no longer clear.  Mississippi and Alabama are now just among the same elite class rather than one ruling over the other.

Saturday night was the end of the end.  It showed that Alabama still is good enough to be a top team, but they are not the clear, dominant team of years past.  They can still get into the “Playoff,” but they are more in the pool with other top contenders rather than enjoying their own hot tub.

After watching Ohio State struggle and Alabama lose, it is clear that we are in an era of competitive balance where perhaps a new team/conference will emerge.  In other words, everyone is super.  And when everyone is super, no one is.


Another week, another title changed hands.  This time it was BYU pulling another miraculous late-game victory and taking the Mountain West Middleweight Belt from Boise State.  Originally, we overlooked BYU and did not note that as a title defense for the Broncos.  It was and it ended up being costly.  BYU will defend the title this season when they take on San Jose State in November.

As for this week, every in-play Battle Belt is up for grabs this week while the first Unified Conference Belt title defense of 2015 will take place in Tuscaloosa.  There will be a champion versus champion game in Columbus when Northern Illinois visits Ohio State.

Week 3 Battle Belt Defenses:

  • ACC: Florida State (c) at Boston College [22nd defense of current reign]
  • American: Temple (c) at Massachusetts [second defense of current reign]
  • Big Ten: Northern Illinois at Ohio State (c) [third defense of current reign]
  • MAC: Northern Illinois (c) at Ohio State [third defense of current reign]
  • SEC: Mississippi at Alabama (c) [fifth defense of current reign]
  • Sun Belt: Georgia State at Oregon (c) [first defense of current reign]

Week 3 Unified Conference Belt Defenses:

  • SEC: Mississippi at Alabama (c) [second defense of current reign]

Week 2 Results

  • ACC Battle Belt: Florida State successfully defended against South Florida
  • American Battle Belt: Temple successfully defended against Cincinnati
  • Big Ten Battle Belt: Ohio State successfully defended against Hawai’i
  • Mountain West Middleweight Belt: Boise State lost to BYU
  • SEC Battle Belt: Alabama successfully defended against Middle Tennessee State

Conference Belts – Week 2 Primer

Week 2 continues with Battle Belt match-ups including a new champion defending its title for the first time.  There is only one Middleweight Belt up for grabs this week.  The first Unified Conference Belt will be defended next week.

Week 2 Battle Belt Defenses:

  • ACC: South Florida at Florida State (c) [21st defense in current reign]
  • American: Temple (c) at Cincinnati [first defense in current reign]
  • Big Ten: Hawai’i at Ohio State (c) [second defense in current reign]
  • SEC: Middle Tennessee State at Alabama (c) [fourth defense in current reign]

Week 2 Middleweight Battle Belt Defenses:

  • Mountain West: Boise State (c) at BYU [7th defense in current reign]

Week 1 Results

  • Battle Belt of ACC: Florida State successfully defended against Texas State
  • Battle Belt of American: Penn State lost to Temple
  • Battle Belt of Big Ten: Ohio State successfully defended against Virginia Tech
  • Battle Belt of MAC: Northern Illinois successfully defended against UNLV
  • Battle Belt of SEC: Alabama successfully defended against Wisconsin
  • Southern Heritage Belt: Duke successfully defended against Tulane

CONFERENCE BELTS: Reigning Champions for 2015

With the resurrection of the Conference Belts, it is time to set a primer for the upcoming season.  Well, the season technically already started, but still.  Here is the list of the current belt holders and their upcoming matchups, if at all.  Displayed is each title holder and, in brackets, is the next scheduled opponent and date of defense.  If there are no scheduled title defenses then it will be marked so [this will only be the case for Battle Belts, Middleweight Belts, and Heritage Belts].


  • ACC: Florida State [versus Wake Forest on 3 October]
  • American: Cincinnati [versus UConn on 24 October]
  • Big 12: TCU [versus Texas Tech on 26 September]
  • Big Ten: Ohio State [versus Indiana on 3 October]
  • Conference USA: Marshall [versus Southern Miss on 9 October]
  • MAC: Northern Illinois [versus Central Michigan on 3 October]
  • Mountain West: Boise State [versus Colorado State on 10 October]
  • Pac 12: Oregon [versus Washington State on 10 October]
  • SECAlabama [versus Mississippi on 19 September]
  • Sun Belt: UL-Lafayette [versus Arkansas State on 20 October]


  • ACC: Florida State [versus Texas State on 5 September]
  • American: Penn State* [versus Temple on 5 September]
  • Big 12: Arizona [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • Big Ten: Ohio State [versus Virginia Tech on & September]
  • Conference USA: Oklahoma* [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • MAC: Northern Illinois [versus UNLV on 5 September]
  • Mountain West: Oregon* [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • Pac 12: Boston College* [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • SECAlabama [versus Wisconsin on 5 September]
  • Sun Belt: Oregon* [versus Georgia State on 19 September]

* – title held by non-conference team


  • Conference USA: Boise State* [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • MAC: Central Florida* [no scheduled defense in 2015]
  • Mountain West: Boise State [versus BYU on 12 September]
  • Sun Belt: Appalachian State [versus Old Dominion on 26 September]

* – title held by non-conference team


  • Big 8: Kansas State [versus Oklahoma State on 3 October]
  • Big West: Boise State [versus Utah State on 16 October]
  • Southern: Duke [versus Georgia Tech on 26 September]
    • NOTE: Duke defeated Tulane on 3 September to retain the title
  • Southwest: Texas A&M [versus Arkansas on 26 September]
  • WAC: Boise State [versus Hawai’i on 3 October]

Quick Hitters

  • Boise State is currently carrying five belts, winning the WAC belt after defeating Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl last season.  Oregon is next with three belts
  • Boise State will have two belts on the line when it faces Hawai’i on 10 October — the Battle Belt of the Mountain West and the WAC Heritage Belt
  • Oregon defends the Battle Belt of the Sun Belt for the first time since winning it from Arkansas State in 2012.  Had Oregon not defended it this season, the Ducks would need to vacate the title.
  • this is the second straight season that neither the Conference USA Middleweight Belt nor the MAC Middleweight Belt were defended.  unless Boise State [with the C-USA Middleweight Belt] or UCF [with the MAC Middleweight Belt] defend it in a bowl game, they will end up vacating the belts after next season; neither are scheduled to play a qualified team in 2016.
  • a couple of teams have a chance to become eligible for their conference’s Unified belt — UCF [versus Cincinnati]; Iowa State [versus Oklahoma]; Kansas [versus Texas]; West Virginia [Oklahoma and Kansas State]; Buffalo [versus Northern Illinois]; Utah State [Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, and San Diego State]; Utah [Arizona State, Oregon, and Washington]; and South Alabama [versus Arkansas State].
  • In some cases, teams need a certain opponent to meet them in their conference title game.  Boston College can should they face North Carolina in the ACC title game, as can Nebraska should they face Indiana in the Big Ten championship game.  If Arkansas wins the SEC West, they could qualify should Florida win the East.  Likewise, South Carolina can qualify by winning the SEC East and facing off against Auburn.
  • Other teams need to win scheduled games AND win their conference championship game against a particular opponent.  Memphis has an opportunity should they defeat Houston and face UCF in the American title game.  Middle Tennessee would need to defeat four teams — Louisiana Tech, North Texas, UT-San Antonio, and then draw Rice in the C-USA title game.
  • Colorado can qualify for the Pac 12 Unified Title, but it’ll take work.  The Buffaloes need to defeat Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern California, Stanford, and UCLA before possible facing Washington for the Pac 12 crown.
  • The Mountain West COULD see either Hawai’i or San Jose State qualify…but not both.  Hawai’i would need to defeat Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, and then hopefully face off against Colorado State in the Mountain West title game.  San Jose State needs to beat Air Force, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico, and San Diego State followed by a MWC title game against Utah State.  Since Hawai’i and San Jose State are in the same division, only one could possibly qualify this season.

Resurrection of the Conference Belts

Back in 2013, we here at Uncle Popov came up with “Conference Belts,” a concept rooted in the awesome College Football Belt project that (apparently) began in the mid-1980s.  The idea behind the latter was to have some sort of title that could be actually won on the field within the parameters of the scheduled season; a title that is perpetual and rolls over with each season.  Currently, TCU is the College Football Belt holder [and three-time champion] and will defend that belt tonight against Minnesota, itself a former belt holder (1981…for one game).

The concept makes sense.  We can come up with our own point systems and ideas of promotion and relegation, but we have no way to truly implement that system and directly alter the college football landscape.  The belt concept allows for the declaration of champions within the framework already established.  And so, in 2013, we expanded upon the College Football Belt concept and applied it to conferences.

However, while the belt was placed on initial holders and current holders were noted, the system was not an easy one to order.  For one, the history was painstakingly pieced together manually and left room for possible omissions [say, overlooking a time when the champ actually lost, or counting tie as a loss].  Furthermore, there was no way to easily update the defense of the belts and the various stats involved.  And so, the concept died shortly after birth.

But alas, there is still air in those lungs!  And the conference belts are being resurrected!  After coming up with a way to pull information and games using various Excel formulas, we were able to create a seemingly more reliable method to chart the history.  And, by extension, we are now able to input current games and see how defenses go.  SO, as long as we do not get bored with it or overwhelmed with other projects, the conference belts should continue to live on here at Uncle Popov.

Now, before we revisit the criteria for the four different types of belts, a note.  The system and formulas used to get to this point are by no means perfect.  The historic scores and results are derived from College Football Reference and we are operating under the believe that their data is accurate.  We attempted to use media guides for teams, but two issues.  FIRST, it is a tedious process to do so.  And SECOND, guides differ in how they record year-by-year results.  Some have scores on either side of the opponent [e.g.,  55 Auburn 44]; some had scores separated by a dash and appearing after the opponent’s name [e.g., Auburn 55-44]; some used “at” or “@” to show the game is on the road [e.g. at Alabama 44-55], while others capitalized when it was a home game and used lower case for road games [e.g. AUBURN 55-44].  There were various ways to display the date of the game while in a couple of cases there were no dates at all!  There were even cases of score discrepancies for the same game between two different teams’ media guides!  Thus, having it all organized in on location like College Football Reference was better overall, even if there were occasionally a mistake in score.

Another issue was the MAC.  College Football Reference did not classify the MAC as a “major conference” until 1962, despite the fact that the conference began playing football in 1948.  Thus, it was necessary to dig through media guides and piece together the historical scores.  This was further complicated by the fact that Western Reserve would eventually merge with Case University to form Case Western, which while does still play football does NOT have the history of Western Reserve prior to the merger.  So, Western Reserve’s schedule needed to be “triangulated” using the media guides of other MAC schools, as well as any university that might have played Western Reserve during that time.

It is hoped that the lineage of all belts are as accurate as possible.  The full history of games used here stretch back to 1896, when the antecedents of the Big Ten Conference were created.  Below are the criteria for each of the four conference belts — Unified Conference; Conference Battle; Middleweight; and Heritage.



  1. to qualify, a team must be a current member of the conference and have defeated all other teams of the conference that were members at the time they joined the conference.  first team to complete this task becomes the initial belt holder
  2. title defenses can only take place between two eligible members, with one obviously being the belt holder
  3. both regular season games AND bowl games count in title defenses, as do conference championship games and the College Football Playoff
  4. a title can change hands only due to a loss that occurs on the field
    1. games forfeited by the NCAA after the fact will still be judged based on the on-the-field result
    2. ties are judged as “split decisions” and the title holder retains possession
  5. teams that leave the conference lose access to the unified belt; if they leave with the belt, the team will relinquish the belt and the next two qualified teams will compete for the vacated title

DEEPER EXPLANATION: The Unified Belts are belts that only teams in that particular conference can win.  To qualify, a team must be a member of that particular conference and have beaten all teams that were members of the conference at the time that they joined.  So, for example, the Big Ten (formerly the Western Conference) started with Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin.  For Illinois to become eligible for the Unified Big Ten Belt, they would have to log a victory against each of the other six members.  Once new members joined, say Ohio State, Illinois would NOT be required to beat the Buckeyes in order to become eligible.  Ohio State, however, would have to defeat all members of the conference at the time of admission, which for them also included Indiana and Iowa, but NOT Michigan [more on that in a second].

But, what about if a team leaves a conference before a remaining member has defeated that team?  Well, that departing team is taken off of the list of teams needed to conquer before eligibility.  For example, when Arizona State left the WAC, New Mexico had yet to beat the Sun Devils.  But, because ASU was no longer a WAC member, the Lobos gained “forgiveness” for that team.  It was also the last team they needed to defeat, therefore making New Mexico eligible for the Unified WAC Belt at the beginning of the 1979 season.

Ah, but what about Michigan?  The Wolverines left the Western Conference only to rejoin later.  If a team leaves and rejoins a conference, they must then beat any additional teams that joined (and remained) during their absence.  This was the case with Marshall and Northern Illinois in the MAC, as well as Temple with the Big East/American.  However, in the case of the latter three, none became eligible during their initial run.  Michigan did become eligible before they departed.  For the Wolverines, they still needed to become eligible once again.

Now, what decides which team first gains the Unified Belt?  Simple — the first team to defeat all conference foes becomes the initial belt holder.  So, for the Unified Big Ten Belt, the first title holder was Chicago University.  The Maroons then needed to wait for other teams to become eligible in order to defend their title.  It took three years before Michigan became eligible and won the Unified Belt in their first match-up.  From there, the more teams that become eligible, the more opportunities for defenses.

What happens if a team leaves a conference with the belt?  It is “vacated” and then the belt is put up for grabs in the next matchup of two qualified teams.  When Louisville left the American Athletic Conference, they held the Unified American Belt.  So, it was vacated and awarded to the winner of South Florida versus Connecticut.  The Bulls defeated the Huskies and thus South Florida took control of the vacated title.  This was the most logical way to resolve this dilemma.

Finally, should a conference fold or cease to support football, the Unified Belt is converted into a “Heritage Belt” (explained below).  This was the case with the WAC after it ceased football operations beginning with the 2013 season.



  1. the initial belt holder is determined by the first outright champion of that particular conference
  2. title defenses occur anytime the game has both (A) the title holder; and (B) at least one member of that particular belt’s conference.
    1. if the title holder is a conference member, then they defend it at all times.
    2. if the title holder is NOT a conference member, then they defend it any time they face an actual member of the belt’s conference
  3. for actual conference members, titles are defended ONLY during the regular season.  for non-members, it is defended during both the regular season and bowl games.
  4. titles can only change possession due to a loss
    1. games forfeited by the NCAA after the fact will still be judged based on the on-the-field results
    2. ties are considered “split decisions” and the title holder retains possession
  5. games against lower tier opponents are non-title matches
  6. if a team drops football or goes down to a lower tier while holding a Battle Belt, the belt is “vacated” and will be awarded to the next outright conference champion
  7. if a non-conference belt holder is inactive in defense of the belt for three consecutive full seasons, they will vacate the belt to the next outright conference champion

DEEPER EXPLANATION: The Battle Belt is one that is defended more as a “any time; anywhere” type of title.  While it initially starts off in a conference — given to the first outright champion in the conference’s history — it can actually be held by non-members.

The team in possession of a Battle Belt must defend the belt any time there is at least one conference member playing in that game.  Since a conference member that holds the title meets that qualification, every game that they play while in possession of the Battle Belt is a title defense.  So, when Alabama gained control of the Battle Belt after the 1933 season, they initially defended against SEC foe Sewanee.  But later, they also defended it against a non-SEC team — Clemson.  They held onto it until the Tide lost to Mississippi State in 1935.

However, since non-members can win a conference Battle Belt, the belt can actually leave the conference.  In 1944, Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech and took possession of the SEC Battle Belt, thus causing it to leave the conference.  While Notre Dame did successfully defend it a few times, they did not defend it in 195, 1955, and 1956  Thus, the Fighting Irish vacated the belt and it was claimed by the 1956 SEC winner — Tennessee.

There are stipulations about when the belt can be defended, depending on the title holder.  Conference members do not defend the title during bowl games, unless the bowl game is against another conference member.  This is to keep the title from drifting out to a team that rarely plays members from that conference.  However, non-members must defend during bowl games against conference members.  This is to help increase the chances for the belt to re-enter the conference, as was the case when UCLA won back the Pac-12 Battle Belt from Georgia in the 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl.

If a conference folds operations or ceases to support football, the Battle Belt is officially retired and no longer up for competition.


While the Battle Belts are great, especially for the big conferences (i.e. BCS conferences), it is not so great for other conferences.  The Sun Belt Battle Belt has never been successfully defended by a Sun Belt team as initial belt holder North Texas lost in their only title defense versus Oklahoma in 2003.  Though the Sooners did vacate it (after one successful defense), Arkansas State was bestowed the battle belt only to promptly lose it to Oregon.  Oregon is entering its third season holding the belt, but has been inactive over the past two seasons [the Ducks will defend the belt against Georgia State this season].

Thus, to compensate for this, the four of the “Group of Five” conferences [other than the American] were bestowed Middleweight Belts.  These belts, which reigns begin with the first outright conference champion, are defended similarly to the Battle Belts with one exception — Power Five schools are ineligible.  So, while in 1997 CUSA Middleweight Belt holder Southern Miss lost to Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Penn State and Texas A&M, those losses did not count since those teams are not classified as “Middleweight” teams.

This helps keep at least keep a form of the Battle Belt within range of these smaller conferences.  As of now, the American Athletic Conference will not be granted a Middleweight belt as their demotion from the “Power Five” has not adversely affected the conference…yet.



  1. the initial belt holder is determined by the first outright champion of that particular conference
  2. rules follow those on the unified conference belts until the conference ceases operation or no longer supports football at the FBS tier.
  3. last team possessing the conference unified belt becomes the first to carry the heritage belt
  4. any former member of the conference is eligible for the heritage belt regardless of if it was a member at the same time as the current holder
  5. there is no penalty for inactivity

DEEPER EXPLANATION: The Heritage Belt was born out of the demise of the WAC.  When we first began compiling this data, the WAC was still a football-playing conference.  With its demise, it seemed fitting that something be done to carry on the memory of the Western Athletic Conference.  So, it was determined to convert the unified belt into a heritage belt.

But then, it was also determined to do the same for a few other conferences.  This includes conferences that no longer exist [the Big 8 and the Southwest Conference], as well as ones that dropped football [the Big West and WAC].  It also includes the Southern Conference, a conference that was home to teams that eventually formed the SEC and the ACC.  While the Southern Conference continues to support football at the FCS tier, it seems appropriate to give a heritage belt to a conference with such a long and storied pedigree.  It also means that many FCS teams are eligible for the belt.  The start date for the Southern Conference Heritage Belt is 1982, which is when the conference moved down to Division I-AA.

The Heritage Belt is one that is contested between ANY former member of the conference.  This is true even if two teams were not members at the same time.  Boise State defeated Arizona to win the Heritage Belt even though the Broncos were WAC members long after the Sun Devils left the conference.  This also means that teams from the FCS could potentially win the belt.  That is especially the case with the Southern Heritage Belt, where West Virginia defended the belt against William & Mary in 2013.

A decision was made to NOT give the Big East a heritage belt as the American Athletic Conference maintains the history of the conference.

The NBA’s Sweet Sixteen: Restructuring the NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs tip-off today with four games, including top overall team Golden State taking on the New Orleans Pelicans.  All the matchups seem pretty solid.

Well……except in the East.  On Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics face off against the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers respectively.  No one expects these to be much of a contest…not even Nets coach Lionel Hollins.  If these go six then most will be shocked and dismiss the Hawks as flukes and the Cavs as choking.  Go ahead and write the East’s one and two seeds into the next round…do it in marker!

Of course, matchups like that lead to some wondering why the hell a team like the Nets, who finished the season 38-44 [0.463], is even in the playoffs.  These question especially arise when you look out West and see a 45-37 Oklahoma City team sitting at home.  Can’t something be done about that?

Most point out that the structure of the NBA, with two conferences further divided into three divisions each, creates this situation.  And, really, there is no better way to divide the teams.  I mean, are we really going to move to a baseball or football format where there are two conferences that span the country?  Imagine the Clippers and Lakers both being in Los Angeles but being in opposite conferences!

Well, short of doing that, there is something that can be done now — simply take the sixteen best teams regardless of division.  That’s what we want, yeah?  But, what would something like that look like?  Is it even feasible?


Well, before answering those two questions, there exist a better question — is it even necessary?  Think about this: every year when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection is announced one of the first topics of discussions is who got snubbed?  Which “deserving” team was left out and which team should NOT be in the tourney.  But, in all honesty, do those complaining about Team 69 really believe that they will go all the way?  Maybe they make it past opening weekend, but it is likely that a snubbed team was snubbed for a reason.  So, the discussion about snubbed teams and undeserving teams is more about just…talking.  It brings hype and interest to the tournament because pretty soon no one remembers the snubs.

Seriously!  Can you recall which teams were snubbed last year?  Hell, can you remember which teams were snubbed this season?  Exactly.

What does this have to do with the NBA?  Simple.  Are a couple of bad teams from one conference getting into the NBA Playoffs really coming at the expense of a team that was a championship contender?  Essentially, aren’t we just trading one mediocre team for another?

Still, the “is it even necessary” needs to be asked and to answer it we need to see how often it actually occurs.  Looking at the past decade, there have been only nine teams that could have been replaced by teams with better records from the other conference.  In two seasons — the 2006-07 season and the 2011-12 season — there were no teams that were “snubbed.”  In 2007-08, there were two teams that were snubbed; all other seasons had only one team snubbed.

So, we established that it happens nearly every season, though it is typically only one team.  Also, it should be noted that in every case over the last ten seasons that it was an Eastern Conference team that got in at the expense of a Western Conference team.  However, it is not simply replacing the worst playoff team with another team that would equally be “8th”…or “16th” as it would be.  In most cases, the snubbed team would be “seeded” higher than the undeserving team.

For example, as the playoff team with the worst record, the Nets could be considered 16th.  However, if Oklahoma City were to replace them, the Thunder would actually be 14th.  Last season, replacing the Atlanta Hawks with the Phoenix Suns would have seen the later go in as the 13th team.

Here would be the year by year exchange:

  • 2014-15: Oklahoma City (14) instead of Brooklyn
  • 2013-14: Phoenix (13) instead of Atlanta
  • 2012-13: Utah (15) instead of Milwaukee
  • 2011-12: none
  • 2010-11: Houston (14) instead of Indiana
  • 2009-10: Houston (16) instead of Chicago
  • 2008-09: Phoenix (13) instead of Detroit
  • 2007-08: Portland (16) instead of Atlanta; AND Golden State (12) instead of Philadelphia
  • 2006-07: none
  • 2005-06: Utah (16) instead of Milwaukee

So, given that there is usually one snub each year, it does seem like going to the best 16 makes sense.  One other consideration is the disparity between the eighth seed in one conference versus the other.  For example, Golden State, the NBA’s best team by record, will face a Pelicans team that has the 13th-best record.  On the other hand, Atlanta, as the Eastern Conference’s top team, faces the Nets, which sport the 17th-best record in the NBA.  Taking the 16 best teams regardless of conferences could potentially avoid this disparity.

(Re)Creating the NBA Playoffs

So…what would this look like?  Well, before i delve into that, keep in mind the following: what lies below assumes that while the Conference structure remains intact, the divisions are abolished.  It is possible to take into account the divisions and award them the top six seeds regardless of record.  However, i wanted to simplify this and only look at the conferences.  Conference champs should be rewarded; division champs should not [remember Denver would have been a seven or eight seed in 2005-06 had it not won the Northwest Division].

Anyway, I think that there are actually a couple of options.  First, let’s do the simplest yet least geographic method before examining how we could overcome crazy “red-eye” series; rank them 1 to 16 and match ’em up!

What would the 2015 NBA Playoffs look like if we ranked the 16 best teams and just slotted them accordingly?  Well…here is the list:

  1. Golden State [0.817]
  2. Atlanta [0.732]
  3. Houston [0.683]
  4. Los Angeles Clippers [0.683]
  5. Memphis [0.671]
  6. San Antonio [0.671]
  7. Cleveland [0.646]
  8. Portland [0.622]
  9. Chicago [0.610]
  10. Dallas [0.610]
  11. Toronto [0.598]
  12. Washington [0.561]
  13. New Orleans [0.549]
  14. Oklahoma City [0.549]
  15. Milwaukee [0.500]
  16. Boston [0.488]

A couple of notes before we look at the matchups.  First, the tiebreakers for the conferences were used to separate teams such as Memphis/San Antonio and New Orleans/Oklahoma City.  In the case of Chicago and Dallas, i gave the edge to the Bulls due to point differential in head-to-head games [they tied the season series at 1-1; Bulls won their game by four points while the Mavs won by three].  Also, notice that Cleveland, a favorite for many to come out of the East, is seventh!!

Now, here is what the brackets would actually look like:

2015 NBA Sweet Sixteen?

2015 NBA Sweet Sixteen?

It would be interesting to see this play out.  Imagine instead of an Eastern Conference finals between the Hawks and Cavs that it actually comes in the quarterfinals!  But what about Golden State?  Yes, they now play the worst playoff team [by record] but that travel…over 2600 miles one way.  Imagine that it went seven games.  And then, imagine that the Bulls upset Portland…1800-plus miles.  And then we have a 12-5 upset and the Wizards somehow make it to the Semifinals…2400 miles or so.  AND THEN…the Hawks are waiting in the Finals.  Well, hope you are using frequent flyer miles because that’s another 2100 miles!

Well, keep in mind that Golden State already has the potential of traveling over 1600 miles to each of its three (potential) Western Conference opponents; New Orleans will be the furthest at over 1900 miles.

But, what would other years look like?  Let’s take a look:

2014 NBA bracket

2013 NBA Bracket

2013 NBA Bracket

2012 NBA Bracket

2012 NBA Bracket

2011 NBA Bracket

2011 NBA Bracket

Before moving on, a quick note, while the 16 best teams are in the playoffs, the top two seeds went to the Conference champions.  There needed to be a reward for winning the conferences.  I debated giving the top two teams from each conference the top four slots, but opted against it.  In the brackets above, the only season where a Conference champion leapfrogged teams with better records was 2014 where the Indiana Pacers actually had the fourth-best record in the NBA.  If i would have carried this out for the entire study period, it would also happen in 2007, 2008, and 2010.

Overall, the challenge is not prominent every year and more subject to certain scenarios playing out.  For example, in the top-half of the 2013 bracket, there is no avoiding an East-West semifinals, one where it could be Brooklyn versus a team in Los Angeles [side note: what a fun first round matchup in LA!].  Nevertheless, it seems like the Golden State issue is more of an anomaly than anything else.  Furthermore, with modern transportation and the way the NBA spaces out games in the early rounds, there should be enough “travel” days to allow players to rest and adjust.

But, there is also that issue of the 2-2-1-1-1 format, where the higher seed has the first two home games then the lower seed with the next two home games, followed by alternating home court over the last three games [if necessary].  Even a six-game series is going to be quite a bit of travel.  An argument could be made that with this sort of tournament that the 2-3-2 format might be best.  But, the criticism is that IF the series was tied at two games of a 2-3-2 format then the lower seed has the home advantage in game five.  In fact, in 2013 NBA owners voted unanimously to change the NBA Finals format away from 2-3-2 and to the 2-2-1-1-1 format that was used in all other rounds.  So, they may not be interested in going that route.

Solutions?  There are three.  First, they could go to a 3-2-2 format where the higher seed plays the first THREE games at home.  Yes, the lower seed still gets that pivotal game five at home, but if you cannot defend your home court through the first three games then you deserve to be 2-2 in the series.  The question, of course, is about the fairness of possibly giving the lower seed only one home game in a series [even if they sweep].  Well, it could be used only for the first round before going to the 2-2-1-1-1.  OR, you could just deal with it!  Remember, before there was the five-game series in which the format was 2-2-1 and meant it was possible for the lower seed to only have one game.

Speaking of that, we could return to a five-game series.  But…….while it is a solution it is doubtful that owners would go for it.

So, other than altering the format, what else could be done to ease travel concerns?  Well, there could be a “selection” of teams.  In this case, it is not about “merit” so to speak.  I mean, Duke getting a number one seed is about merit and accomplishments rather than geography.  Imagine the Spurs getting a higher seed simply because of their recent history!  And then, imagine the outrage.

The “selection” would be based on geographic matchups.  But, this does not mean that Golden State should start off with the Clippers or Portland.  The best idea would be to “pod” teams so that there are similarities among a group of teams and then matchups could be determined from there.

For example, with 16 teams there can easily be four groupings of four teams.  If done based solely on winning percentage, the 2015 groupings could look like this:

2015 tiers

The Conference champs are automatically placed into Tier One [in the study period, no conference champ fell into Tier Two anyway].  Tier One teams face Tier Four teams based on geography while Tier Two teams are matched between Tier Three teams.  Tier One and Tier Two teams are seeded one through eight based on winning percentage, though the Conference champs still get seeds one and two.  The Tier Three and Four teams would be seeded based on their matchup.

From there, the NBA in conjunction with the playoff owners, can determine the matchups.  It could be a situation where the top two seeds take the two lowest teams based on proximity.  So, Golden State might start with Milwaukee instead of Boston since the former is closer to Oakland than the latter.  Or, it could be the lowest team in Tier Four from the Western Conference — Oklahoma City.  However, there are scenarios where there may NOT be a team from the same conference in the opposing tier [for Tier Four, that was never the case in the study period].  There is a possibility around that — ensure that at least one team from each conference is in Tier Four.

Regardless of how it is done, it would go in order of record.  So Golden State would be matched up first, followed by Atlanta and then Houston; the Clippers would get the leftover team in Tier Four.  Then, Tiers two and three would be matched up.  It could be done similarly to Tiers One and Four, or it could just do it by record and not worry about distance.  But, this “selection” may want to take into account quarterfinal matchups.  So, some manipulation of the middle matchups could happen.

Here is an example of what a bracket under these conditions might look like.

The 2015 bracket using Tiers

The 2015 bracket using Tiers

In this case, the Warriors were matched up with the Thunder while the Hawks get Boston.  Houston draws Milwaukee and the Clippers still wind up facing the Pelicans — I guess Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis are destined to meet!  The Tier Two-Tier Three games saw Memphis still facing Washington.  But, San Antonio now faces Dallas in what some may argue is tougher matchup than should be.  Cleveland gets the Bulls while Portland is on the short end by having the long distance series with Toronto.

Here is a comparison between seeding based on records and seeding based on tiers:

comparison of 2015


In the end, the NBA Playoffs are an exciting time regardless of the debate over the deserving-ness of a team over another.  No one is going to complain about any of this come June and the NBA Finals [though, people may complain about the participants themselves].

Still, for those that want a change to the selection of teams for the playoffs, there is hope.  While the NBA and its owners might not ever move to a system like the one outlined above, what this article shows is that it is possible to create a format that takes the 16 best teams into the postseason.  It would take some major changes, including canning the divisions, but it is possible.

And that’s all we want…possibilities!

A Bit of the Bubbly: False Outrage over Lewis Hamilton’s Champagne Shower

I wanted to call this article “A Golden Shower.”  BUT, i think some might take it the wrong way.

On the other hand, that is exactly the angle that i am going for.  Maybe all the uproar about Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton spraying champagne on a “grid girl” is just pissing about nothing.

For those that do not know, Lewis Hamilton is a bad ass.  He is a two-time champion, including the defending F1 champ, and has made it to the podium in all three stages of the 2015 season.  The British racer is good and he knows it.  But, not that U.S.ians know anything about him…or F1.

Nevertheless, he has become newsworthy not because of his awesome, but because of this:


Well, that looks like fun.  A nice-looking Chinese woman receiving a champagne shower from a mischievously grinning Hamilton.  Good times all around.

Oh wait…

Apparently, some group named Object has objected [ha!] to Hamilton’s showering of the hostess.  According to the Daily Mail, the head of Object Roz Hardie stated the following (emphasis added):

The photographs appear to show that the woman is not just being splashed, but that the champagne is being very specifically directed into her face, which does not look like a voluntary piece of horseplay on her part. . . . It is surely a very difficult position to be a grid girl and she would have had little option but to stand there and take it. That is something of which he should be aware. But instead, he appears to have abused her position.  . . .  It’s unfortunate that a great victory has been marred by what appears to be selfish and inconsiderate behaviour.

Well, then.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Object is an organization that apparently attempts to call out attempts to objectify women.  So, it is not surprising that this previously (largely) unknown group would OBJECT to Hamilton’s actions.  That is not what interests me here.

To me, the outrage seems somewhat false.  Or, at the very least, the outrage is superficial.  And, i think that it is superficial on two levels.

First off, i am always a bit uncomfortable when i read and hear about a group complaining about the objectification of one sex over another.  It does not mean that women are not constantly objectified as sexual OBJECTS, but there is a tendency to ignore similar objectification of men.  Further, there is ignorance of the “be a man” shaming that is targeted at men when they do something that is not, well, “manly.”  Yeah, i know, it is not “sexual” objectification, though there are elements of it.  But the objectifying and role-assigning of men is just as big a problem as the objectifying of women.  These should be equal issues.

Anyway, why nothing about the men being sprayed with champagne?  Why nothing about men taking a full load into the face, like this shot of Hamilton unloading on Sebastian Vettel’s face at the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix:

oh yeah, give it to me!

oh yeah, give it to me!

Or hell, even from this year’s Chinese Grand Prix, the same race with the “controversial” post-race celebration, were Vettel and Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg take it to the face:

men take it

oh yeah…double shot!

Hmm.  Now, compare that to the shot of bubbly into the hostess’s “face”:

side of head

Now, granted, this pic she is seen turning her head.  And, the last in the series of pics on The Daily Mail‘s website shows it more in the face.  But, it appears mostly in the side of the head.  If anything, it was a dick move by Hamilton to unload in her ear.  THAT is likely why she did not “enjoy” it.

But, i think there is something more significant here.  And, i think the above pictures reflect that.  You see, apparently Hamilton did this before in the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix.

big ups to Lewis Hamilton's website, which hosts this picture

big ups to Lewis Hamilton’s website, which hosts this picture

But, one has to wonder how often this happens.  Or, in other words, if anyone truly notices the grid girls.  I mean, this women stand there and are shown off as “objects” who are to fawn over these conquering men…these champions.  They were background OBJECTS.  They were just there.

And then, Hamilton involves them into the celebration.  He is the one that brings them into the fold.  Ignore as props, he now celebrates with them as he does his fellow competitors.  If anything, why not credit him with actually acknowledging the grid girls’ existence?

Well, that is a bit silly…just like this controversy.  Because, groups like Object, if they really cared, would have called out Formula 1 long ago.  You see, having these women stand up there like props is objectification.  And, if anything, that should have sparked their anger loooooooooooooooong before a bit of the bubbly in the ear.  Instead, by becoming angry about a normal celebration that long included only men seems to be a bit of misguided anger.  It appears as though they never cared about these women — though, surprisingly they should have all along — until these photos hit the press.

I am not buying into this controversy.  If groups like this wanted to be upset, then that outrage should be towards the use of grid girls to begin with and not with a girl getting a champagne shower to the side of the head.  Not that i think the grid girls should be removed — i honestly do not care if they are there or not — but it would appear that would be more worth their effort than getting angry about the champagne.

If anything, Hamilton was an ass for unloading into her ear.  C’mon!  Who the hell does that!?

Chicago Bulls Fan Calls for Taiwanese President’s Ouster

It is one of those things that would easily be overlooked.  A crowd shot during a stoppage in play and a couple of fans holding up signs.  Nothing big.  Nothing newsworthy, at least in the United States.

At the 2:13 mark of the first period of Thursday’s NBA game between the host Chicago Bulls and visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, Cavs center Timofey Mozgov charges into Bulls forward Taj Gibson, drawing the offensive foul and bringing us to a television timeout.  And, we get a crowd shot with two individuals holding up signs.  One, however, does not appear to be really pulling for the Bulls…or the Cavs for that matter.

Apparently Taiwanese fans have a message for their president.  [Photo taken from, who apparently got it from the "Internet."]

Apparently Taiwanese fans have a message for their president. [Photo taken from, who apparently got it from the “Internet.”]

Written in Chinese are the words “馬英九下台” [Ma Ying Jeou xia tai].  What does it say?  No one in the U.S. or on TNT’s NBA broadcast really cared; maybe it is just support for Derrick Rose.  Well, actually, what the Man in Yellow (as we’ll call him) is significant for people in Taiwan.  馬英九 is the name of the Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and many people in Taiwan are unhappy with him.  And “下台” means to “step down.”  The message is quite clear.

President Ma, who is in the second and final term as leader of the East Asian state, has faced heavy criticism in Taiwan from opposition leaders, especially during his second term.  Much of it focuses on his attempts to foster closer ties with China at the expense of Taiwanese sovereignty [at least, as some see it].  This was encapsulated by last year’s “Sunflower Revolution.”  But charges of corruption and ineptness are becoming extremely vocal over the past couple of years.  Add to this major losses by the ruling Kuomintang Party [KMT] in mayoral elections last December, which led to Ma’s stepping down as party chair, issues concerning food safety, and questions over the residency status of him and his family and it is no wonder his approval rating is under 20 percent.

So, enter the 12 February game leading us into the All-Star Break and Man in Yellow.  His call for President Ma to step down is something that does not necessarily resonate with U.S. fans [though some may argue that they can relate], but it was a sign and a message not lost on Taiwanese viewers and its media, as seen here and here and here.

What this demonstrates is the crossroads of sports and politics.  While that quick shot and seemingly innocuous message might not say much to those in the West, it speaks volumes to those in Taiwan [and to a certain extent in China].  Basketball is rapidly becoming the most played sport among youth in Taiwan and NBA games appear regularly on television in the country.  Man in Yellow utilized the opportunity that (televised) professional sports presented to him — a chance to get out one simple message that a growing segment of the Taiwanese population seem to be thinking:


See, despite what the “spirit of the Olympics” might wish for, there is no separating politics and sports.