Who’s the David Eckstein of football?

In my fourth season as coach of the Akron Zips, a pattern is beginning to emerge; I win either all my games or all but one, win the MAC Championship, and lose the bowl game (if I go undefeated) or win (if I lose one game). This is because if I go undefeated, I go to bowls I have no business in. Last season, I lost the National Championship (this is the Zips, remember. Of Akron.) to USC, 24-7. The season before, I got anally raped by Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, like eleventy billion to zero. (Fine, I did score at least one touchdown.) My biggest problem? An execrable offensive line. Since playing NCAA 08, I have quickly grown to understand why offensive linemen play until their clinical death or shortly afterwards; they’re in REALLY short supply. Good O-linemen are as rare in college as in the NFL; the problem is the best, the five star prospects, invariably go to the larger schools. It isn’t even easy to attract four star linemen, even though I maxed out my prestige. When you search for O-linemen in the prospect search, the game always includes the ubiquitous “athletes.” Athletes are not o-linemen (not that o-linemen aren’t athletes). For an example of an athlete, think Antwaan Randel-El. A college QB who also played WR and RB. Or Devin Hester, who plays WR and DB. Or even Ted Ginn Jr., who plays KR/PR, WR, and really high overdraft. Note a pattern? They aren’t offensive linemen. How bad is my line right now? A converted defensive end is playing center because my last one transfered. I have a 90+ right tackle, but he’s a senior. I’ve got a solid 82 left guard who’s a freshman; the rest of my line is 70 or below. My QB has mad speed, which he needs, because he gets sacked a lot. Oh, and my tight ends are also barely above 70. Why do I win at all? My defense is pretty damn good (except at MLB; the line could be slightly better, but it’s deep and strong) and I have great skill players at QB, FB, and HB. My HB, Brandon Wright, is crazy fast but drops anything if he gets hit hard. My FB, Marcus Gold, is a monster and can’t be tackled, but has the footspeed of a pre-1990s zombie. My QB, Justin “You must cut down the tallest tree in the forest with a” Herring is even faster than Wright, but with even poorer technique and more prone to fumbles. Quick passes work okay; my WRs are essentially cloned, all with around 91 speed and good hands. Try to throw deep on a non-play action pass? Sack. Try to throw deep on a slow developing play action pass? Sack. Try to throw over a 46? Sack. The only play I’ve never been sacked on is a screen, and I’m sure that’ll happen too. Thank goodness for the option.

Coach, you’re a DIPShit*

So I’m playing as Rodrigo Clemenza in MLB 08, Mexican superstar pitcher who is in no way Roger Clemens, and I finish the second month of season two of my career. After beating most of my goals and a rocky start, I receive my next set of goals. One includes “Hold opponents to under a .200 batting average for the next 8 series (or around four weeks or so).” Now, the reason I’m still in AA is because I always fail one goal a period, and they have set me up for failure here. Rodrigo may strike out a lot more than a walks, with a K rate of just under a batter an inning, but I’m apparently not AAA material because I can’t use the Jedi Mind Trick on my crappy infield defense. Jerks.

*DIPS stands for Defense Independent Pitching Statistics; it’s a combination of ground ball to fly ball ratio, strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine innings, and HR surrendered per nine innings. Voros McCracken did some pretty hefty research and came up with the answer that once a ball was hit by a batter, there was almost no control on the part of the pitcher on where it went, apart from whether it was a grounder or a fly ball. Stats like BABIP (batting average on balls in play) fluctuate wildly from season to season for pretty much every pitcher.

Your Legal Decision Of The Day

Wickard v. Filburn (1942) has to be one of the absolute worst judicial decisions ever.  The Supreme Court decided that a man who grows crops on his own territory for his own consumption and does not sell said crops still falls under the interstate commerce clause.

Incidentally, that case provides a double-whammy because not only as the judicial decision terrible but the initial law which prompted the judicial case was also, as most production quota laws go, absurd.

Thanks to Richard Adams over at NLT for this.

IE Opening Firefox

My parents had a problem with their computer recently:  opening an IE window would result in Firefox opening instead.  Now, this isn’t really a big problem considering that they use Firefox and don’t care for IE, but they needed it for a particular site, so I had to figure out what the problem was.  Fortunately, the Internets is full of answers…

For their computer, deleting the registry key worked, and I had to delete the DLL file (look in the comments).  I like to think of it, though, as Microsoft implicitly admitting that yeah, IE really is inferior…

Recruiting in NCAA 08

As I once told Kevin, what makes NCAA 2008 so awesome is that the offseason essentially lasts all season. Recruiting is fundamentally different from Madden or any other football game; you get players for free on guaranteed four year contracts, but they leave after that with no way of resigning them.

The recruiting video doesn’t help a whole lot; it gives you the basics of the system, but not how best to take advantage of that system. I will present you, the reader, with some of my tips to build a better team.

1. Prestige is everything

Prestige, specifically school prestige, is what determine a recruit’s initial interest in your school. Although you can theoretically recruit anyone, it’s a lot harder to recruit somebody who isn’t interested in your school to start out with. You can manufacture prestige if you’re a good school in a bad conference (i.e. Akron, like my season), but it’s much harder to do it with a bad school in a good conference (sorry, Northwestern fans). Winning conference championships and bowl games help boost your prestige; hell, I went from 4 stars to 5 stars (out of six) by getting reamed by Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl. 1 star recruits will play for anybody, but starting with three star recruits and up, they get a lot more picky.

2. Keep your board clean

Yes, you can recruit up to 35 people at once; this is really, really stupid. You only have 25 scholarships, and you’ll never get to 35 athletes in one week. Start by recruiting your top athletes and work your way down; it will take less effort to sign a four star recruit than a five star recruit.

3. Don’t let up

Keep talking to recruits until they sign or until you know they’re gone. I’ve had people yanked out from under me on a soft commitment because I didn’t push it hard enough.

4. Schedule visits strategically

These are the best way to get apathetic recruits really interested. Schedule visits during rivalry games or other really good matchups. The better a prospect, the earlier in the season you generally want him to visit; the longer a prospect doesn’t commit, especially 5 star recruits, the better chance he will go to another school. When you’re building your preseason schedule, make sure to schedule a couple of teams in the top 25. These will be prime recruiting dates.

5. Don’t go for all the pitches in one week

You are only really concerned with three pitches; the most pitch and the two very highs. If you schedule a visit, you’ll get a clue to one of those three. Recruits will get bored if you spend the first week asking about every pitch; plus, you’ll spend way too much time on too few recruits. Start with the thing your school is best at and work your way down.

6. Use sways with caution

If a recruit is close to signing with another school, then you can try to sway pitches; remember that there are a limited amount of potential “highs”, so don’t sway an above average category unless you don’t want him interested in it.

7. Promises are key in the offseason

Make promises you can keep. This is another reason to pick a good school in a bad conference; you can promise conference championships. Significant playing time is a big winner too. Winning records against your rivals are nice. NEVER promise a national championship; there’s too much that can go wrong. Promises are the only way to get your foot in the door, so to speak, with a five star recruit at the end of the season; you’ll pique their interest enough that you can at least get them to listen.

That’s all for now. Questions are welcome; drop a line in the comments section.