Sunday, 21 September 2003

Mississippi State: 0-12?

After last night’s loss to Houston (by a score of 42-35), the Mississippi State Bulldogs appear to have blown their best chance for a road win this season, and fall to 0-3 for the season (and 3-13 in their past 16 games). There are some serious problems down in Starkville, made all the more plain by fired defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn’s level of success in Memphis this year with arguably lesser talent.

Working slightly in State’s favor is the fact that their next three games are at home. However, looking at their opponents, things may not be quite so simple:

  • Next Saturday, Louisiana State rolls into Starkville fresh off the heels of a 4-0 start and a hard-fought victory over the defending SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs. The question isn’t whether LSU will win—it’s by how much?
  • October 4, Bobby Johnson’s now 1-3 Vanderbilt squad comes to Starkville in search of its first SEC win during Johnson’s reign in Nashville. (They face Georgia Tech at home this weekend, which this season is a winnable game for the Commodores.)
  • October 11 is Homecoming. More specifically, it’s homecoming for Joe Lee Dunn as Memphis (currently 2-1, and likely to be 4-1 by then) comes to town in search of a season sweep of the SEC.

Then come road tests at Auburn and Kentucky, a bye week, a home date with Alabama, two weeks in a row against current top-25 teams Tennessee and Arkansas on the road, and finally the Thanksgiving Egg Bowl match against Ole Miss. Given the current level of Mississippi State’s play, they’d be hard pressed to beat any of these teams.

Realistically, the home dates against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are probably the most winnable, the former since Vanderbilt hasn’t exactly been tearing up the gridiron either and the latter due to the in-state rivalry. The current Sagarin ratings* only favor Mississippi State in its games against Vandy and Memphis, the latter only because the Bulldogs have home field advantage.

People used to call State the “Vandy of the West.” They’re not any more—State is almost certainly worse.

* Edited slightly since the Sagarin ratings I used to do this math actually did include Saturday’s games, including the losses by both State and Vandy.

The political contestation of rights in Canada

Colby Cosh doesn’t quite ask a question worth considering:

It’s clear enough that a majority of the Liberal caucus is opposed, right or wrong, to gay marriage in principle. The same could probably be said of the Opposition; yet we’re to have gay marriage in Canada all the same. It does make you wonder what the point of sending MPs to Ottawa is.

Or, for my non-comparatively-inclined friends, a hypothetical translation into the American political context:

It’s clear enough that a majority of Democrats are opposed, right or wrong, to gay marriage in principle. The same could probably be said of the Republicans; yet we’re to have gay marriage in the United States all the same. It does make you wonder what the point of sending Congressmen to Washington is.

Alec Saunders, on the other hand, doesn’t think gay marriage is a legitimate subject of political debate; the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s equivalent to the U.S. Bill of Rights (plus a healthy dollop of the 14th Amendment, minus those pesky 2nd and 3rd amendments that were at least partially motivated by anti-British sentiment), has spoken—or at least been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada to speak in that way.

What’s interesting to me is that Alec’s a self-identified “traditional conservative” while Colby is generally libertarian in his outlook, yet they take the opposite sides on this issue to those you’d expect Americans with those political leanings to take. (Incidentally, my position is closer to Alec’s, simply because legislative bodies are at their worst when enacting social and economic regulation; the “Do Something” instinct too often prevails over common sense in these cases.)

In Colby’s case, I might explain his preference for legislative involvement as vestigial sentiment for the idea of parliamentary sovereignty—the idea that the final arbiter of the Law is the legislature, as is embodied in Westminster parliamentary tradition. But I find Alec’s position a bit more perplexing, although I can perhaps understand his disinterest in the use of this particular issue by the embryonic Alliance of Progressive Conservatives (or whatever the hell they decide to call themselves). God knows I cringe every time the Republicans pull the same stunts, although in Mississippi the Democrats usually join in the fun too, so here it’s essentially a wash.

Then again, the Smug Canadian reads Colby’s comments differently. So what do I know?