Kevin Drum asks a bunch of questions about soccer:
Outside the penalty area there’s a hemisphere about 20 yards wide. I can’t recall ever seeing it used for anything. What’s it for?
On several occasions, I’ve noticed that if the ball goes out of bounds at the end of stoppage time, the referee doesn’t whistle the match over. Instead, he waits for the throw-in, and then immediately whistles the match over. What’s the point of this?
Speaking of stoppage time, how has it managed to last through the years? I know, I know: tradition. But seriously. Having a timekeeper who stops the clock for goals, free kicks, etc. has lots of upside and no downside. Right? It wouldn’t change the game in any way, it would just make timekeeping more accurate, more consistent, and more transparent for the fans and players. Why keep up the current pretense?
What’s the best way to get a better sense of what’s a foul and what’s a legal tackle? Obviously you can’t tell from the players’ reactions, since they all writhe around like landed fish if they so much as trip over their own shoelaces. Reading the rules provides the basics, but doesn’t really help a newbie very much. Maybe a video that shows a lot of different tackles and explains why each one is legal, not legal, bookable, etc.?
The first one’s easy: there’s a general rule that no defensive player can be within 10 yards of the spot of a direct free kick. A penalty kick (which is a type of direct free kick) takes place in the 18-yard box, and no players other than the player taking the kick and the goalkeeper are allowed in the box. However, owing to geometry, the 18 yard box and the 10 yard exclusion zone don’t fully coincide, hence the penalty arc. (That’s also why there are two tiny hash-marks on the goal line and side line 10 yards from the corner flag. And why now referees have a can of shaving cream to mark the 10 yards for other free kicks, one of the few MLS innovations that has been a good idea.)
Second one’s also easy: the half and the game cannot end while the ball is out of play.
Third one’s harder. First, keeping time inexactly forestalls the silly premature celebrations that are common in most US sports. You’d never see the Stanford-Cal play happen in a soccer game. Second, it allows some slippage for short delays and doesn’t require exact timekeeping; granted, this was more valuable before instant replays and fourth officials, but most US sports require a lot of administrative record-keeping by ancillary officials. A soccer game can be played with one official (and often is, particularly at the amateur level) without having to change timing rules;* in developing countries in particular this lowers the barriers to entry for the sport (along with the low equipment requirements) without changing the nature of the game appreciably. Perhaps most importantly, if the clock was allowed to stop regularly it would create an excuse for commercial timeouts and advertising breaks, which would interrupt the flow of the game and potentially reduce the advantages of better-conditioned and more skilled athletes. (MLS tried this, along with other exciting American ideas like “no tied games,” and it was as appealing to actual soccer fans as ketchup on filet mignon would be to a foodie, and perhaps more importantly didn’t make any non-soccer fans watch.)
Fourth, the key distinction is usually whether there was an obvious attempt to play the ball; in addition, in the modern game, even some attempts to play the ball are considered inherently dangerous (tackling from behind, many sliding tackles, etc.) and therefore are fouls even if they are successful in getting more ball than human.
* To call offside, you’d also probably need what in my day we called a “linesman.”
The irony that they are punishing their viewers with two weeks of Dan LeBatard and Bob Ryan far more than they are punishing Mr. Tony (who I am sure is just heartbroken that he gets to spend an extra hour a day in the Barcalounger) appears to be totally lost on the suits.
Commissioner Mike Slive told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday that coaches who violate the conferences’ ethics rules against criticizing officials in public will face a fine or suspension instead of receiving public reprimands when they first act up.
“It became clear to me after last week that I was no longer interested in reprimands and the conference athletic directors and university presidents unanimously agreed,” said Slive, in his eighth season as the head of the SEC.
Well, I’m not an SEC coach and, frankly, Bobby Petrino, Lane Kiffin, and Dan Mullen are my least favorite coaches in the league, but when a quarter of your league’s coaches think your referees are incompetent or worse—with commentators on television openly suggesting the refs are making calls to help Bama and Florida keep their national rankings—the problem isn’t the coaches’ airing of grievances, however whiny they may sound.
Instead Slive needs to get together with the other BCS-conference commissioners and assemble a new plan for refereeing big-time college football. With the BCS and regular-season television money that the conferences are raking in, the least the conferences could do is work together to produce a competent, national pool of refs to assign to regular season and bowl games, rather than the motley hodge-podge of officials that are used now.
And ESPN remains on the case today, with columnist Pat Forde brazenly calling for coaches to fill out their own ballots or Let Someone Else Vote rather than spend their valuable time doing things that are more useful to society. We all know that voters in the other college football polls are devoted full-time scholars of the game, watching all 60 minutes of all 120 (and counting!) I-A (sorry, FBS) teams in action every week before painstakingly filling out their ballots without consulting anyone else or, heaven forbid, just recycling their ballots from the previous week with a few “bumps” based on watching the 5–10 minutes of highlights from an entire day that ESPN chooses to show on College Football Final between Lou Holtz’s bouts of senility and live shots of the GameDay crew in a pitch-dark stadium parking lot surrounded by drunk, screaming teenagers. And if the college coaches can’t uphold these fine traditions, well dammit, let’s find someone who can.
Tim Tebow was not a “unanimous” selection, where “unanimous” is defined as getting 11 votes (see #1).
Jevan Snead got a vote. Presumably from Urban Meyer, who couldn’t vote for Tebow.
Nobody else apparently received any votes.
Left unclear: can coaches abstain or cast a tied vote?
Also left unclear: is this supposed to be based on past performance or expected performance in 2009? Tebow clearly has the longer track record than Snead, but I have a mild feeling that Snead will be a more effective quarterback than Tebow in 2009.
I think a good time was had by all at my (first annual?) Super Bowl party at the humble abode on Sunday; the company was nice and the game didn’t disappoint, despite KGNS forgetting to hit the “HD switch” in the control room until near the end of the first quarter, a glitch I called in advance in my invitation email. And while I predicted the final score exactly wrong all-in-all it was a pretty good evening, capped by a classic Office episode. A win-win-win, I’d say.
So, we’re now two games into the Houston Nutt era at Ole Miss and the record stands… exactly the same (1–1) as it did after two games of the Ed Orgeron era.
The similarities, though, seem to end there: instead of barely edging Memphis and losing by eight to Vandy the Rebels thumped the Tigers (admittedly, at home, and admittedly a Tiger team that this weekend just got beat by Rice, of all teams) and came within an arguably bogus pass interference call of a road victory against what appears to be the best team in the ACC this year (admittedly, not saying much considering the sorry state of the contemporary ACC), with the team missing two of the team’s key defensive starters for most of both contests (Peria Jerry played limited time against Wake, while Greg Hardy remains out).
I don’t know that Jevan Snead is going to make anyone in Oxford forget Eli Manning (call me back when Snead goes 28–28 in his first 28 pass attempts in a game), but he’s already helped me wash away the memory of the likes of Micheal Spurlock and Ethan Flatt. And, for better or worse Nutt has brought back the high drama of Rebel offensive playcalling in a way not seen since the traitorous Riverboat Gambler was roaming the sidelines at Vaught-Hemingway.
Is this the year the Rebels get back to a bowl for the first time since the Second Coming of Manning? The schedule looks favorable, although I only see one likely road win for the Rebels at this point (at sputtering Arkansas). But with Jerry back and Hardy on the mend, the Rebels will be tough to beat at home and might even be able to steal a second win on the road to move up beyond the Poulan Weed-Eater bowl-of-last-resort level.
* Yes, I know the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl no longer exists, but it’s fun to type and represents the sort of crappy bowl game, usually held in Shreveport, the Rebels regularly attend.
I had a few beers this evening at Buffalo Wild Wings with Frequent Commenter Alfie and Frequent Facebook Correspondent Annie while watching the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt baseball game and various other sporting events, including part of a UFC contest. The onion rings were very good, as was the company, and even the beer wasn’t that badly priced.
The Hornets on Tuesday night reached a goal that seemed impossible just three short months ago: pushing the team’s average attendance past the magic 14,735 opt-out number in the franchise’s lease agreement.
It came after the Hornets registered their sixth consecutive sellout and their 12th in the past 17 games as 17,388 fans saw the Hornets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114–92 to win the franchise’s first division title, secure at least the No.2 seed in the upcoming playoffs and push their average attendance to 14,738 since Dec. 1.
But don’t worry, George, a year’s absence from the NBA will just make Seattle’s hearts grow fonder (and consequently your wallet fatter when you ditch town like we all know you will).
Who could hate this outcome more than a Michigan fan? Not only does their archrival tOSU play for a national title, but now there’s no way Les Miles backs out of his commitment to stay at LSU instead of going to coach the Wolverines. At least my loyalties will be less conflicted than a Michigander’s: go Buckeyes!
Houston Nutt will be the next coach at Ole Miss. I figured there’d be a much longer process to fill the job; maybe I was projecting from my experiences onto others’. Now hopefully Nutt can get things back on the right track, we don’t lose many recruits and the kids who can go to the NFL stay, and we can go from there.
This leaves the pesky question of who will take the Ole Miss job. Exquisitely timed as always, Ole Miss has fired a coach just in time to compete against Texas A&M, Michigan, Nebraska, and god knows what other larger, more monied programs will fire their coaches in the next ten minutes–not to mention the vacancies gaping after the guys who fill those positions leave their current positions.
Rick Cleveland 1, Ed Orgeron 0. I guess Boone and Khayat think they can turn things around faster with someone else running the show; I’m not that convinced, but maybe they’ve got an ace up their sleeves.
To me, the quasi-obvious candidate is Mike DuBose, who’s quietly turned around the Millsaps football program in what many people have perceived as a stepping-stone job back to I-A. If Mike Price had seen more consistent success at UTEP, he might be on the board as well.
Even after missing two games, Hardy still leads the Southeastern Conference in tackles for a loss per game and sacks.
That may say more about the general suckitude of SEC defenses this year than Greg Hardy’s talent, but following in the footsteps of a legend like Patrick Willis as a freshman is hardly a small feat either.
The SEC is pretty wacky this year to begin with, considering the consensus best team in the league, LSU, keeps squeaking by teams it has no apparent business beating based on the team’s on-field performance. (At least the paper tigers in other conferences which have flirted with the top of the rankings have been exposed, from Boston College to South Florida.) And I don’t even pretend to comprehend what’s going on in Lexington and (gasp) Starkville.
This is the second time I’ve seen Trinity beat Millsaps at home in the waning minutes of the game… although the first time back in 2004 was a tad more conventional than Saturday’s example:
Update: Timothy Sandefur asks, “is this how [football]’s really supposed to be played?” Well, no, but when you’ve only got two seconds left on the game clock, reverting to rugby is about the only option available other than the hail mary.
Perhaps I’m just too practically-minded, but I’m not at all sure what good would come from firing Ed Orgeron as the Ole Miss coach after three seasons, two of them with David Cutcliffe’s players and hastily-grabbed JuCo guys. After getting oh-so-close to beating Florida and Alabama, and hanging in for three quarters against Georgia, I’m hardly surprised that the Rebels’ collection of first-year starters and walk-ons couldn’t hold it together against a Heisman candidate on a good team that was desperate for a win to save their coach’s job—a team that regularly beat the Rebels under Tubby and Cutcliffe too, mind you.
Now, if Dickie Scruggs has a suitcase full of cash that he’s willing to hand over to Bobby Petrino, and Petrino’s willing to take it to come in and spend the next 2–3 years at the bottom of the SEC, that’s one thing, but realistically I don’t see who’s out there who’s going to do a better job than Orgeron. If the issue is play-calling on Saturday, toss Werner and/or get a full-time defensive coordinator to make the calls. But replacing Orgeron with some other coach plucked from obscurity, or one of the “hot” coaches from a lower-tier conference like C-USA or the Big Least, who likely won’t even have Orgeron’s recruiting chops, is just a recipe for more of the same.
Signifying Nothing formerly featured the stylings of Brock
Sides, a left-leaning philosopher turned network administrator
currently residing in Memphis,
Tennessee who now blogs at Battlepanda, and Robert
Prather, a libertarian-leaning conservative economist and
occasional contributor at OTB.