(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why does he call it the “War of 1812 Football Prognostication”? He likes history, he’s Canadian, and it probably has something to do with those two facts. That’s all we’ve got. We used to spend a long time editing these things. This year, you’re getting them raw… so enjoy the Canadian “flavour.”)
LAST WEEK: Mr. Brutal 11-2-1, Bob 7-6-1
Thursday October 29, 2015
Miami @ NEW ENGLAND (-10) 51
……. The fortunes of the two major football teams in Miami have taken very different turns lately.
…… The Miami Dolphins of the NFL fired their head coach Joe Philbin three weeks ago on the airplane flight home from Great Britain after a 27-14 loss to the Jets. They then replaced him with the Guru of P90X Paleolithic Football Practice routines, Dan Campbell. The former Tight Ends’ Coach has rejuvenated the team and they now have two straight wins including an easy 38-10 win over Tennessee & last week’s demolition of Houston 44-26. That final score was flattering, since the Dolphins were ahead 41-0 at halftime.
…… The other “Professional” football team in Miami has fared much worse this year. In an effort to initiate a turnaround, they took a cue from their city and stadium cohabitants.
…… The NCAA Miami Hurricanes finally pulled the plug to the respirator that kept Al Golden on life support as head coach of the Dead Ibis Birds.
…. Golden was fired this week after leading the Hurricanes to their worst loss in history. Miami fell 58-0 to Clemson last Saturday, the worst home loss or any type of loss in team history. ……….
……. The howling banshees of living in the past boosters, ex-players & what’s left of their steadily diminishing fan base yelled with glee upon hearing that Golden was sacrificed. Ever since Al Golden was hired in 2010, the Hurricane Nation has been howling for his scalp.
…… They tweeted incessantly, if the coach was just fired, …… the team would return to the glory days of big crowds, National recognition, dominating the state of Florida and winning multiple National Championships.
…… They somehow overlook the other aspects of those halcyon days. Multiple & stupendous recruiting violations, felony criminal student athletes and cartoonish team boosters reminiscent of Grishamesque antagonists. Most importantly, a return to the salad days would reestablish the “U of M’s” patented three tiered pipeline. The direct, unhindered ( by academic or eligibility issues ) conduit of thugs, criminals & local gangsters from the streets of Miami to the University of Miami to the NFL.
….. Of course the highly educated, methodical & rational followers of “The U” said the same thing about firing previous coaches Randy Shannon, Larry Coker and Butch Davis. There hasn’t been a 10 game winner since Dennis Erickson’s 1994 team.
….. The school also has deluded themselves into thinking that if they followed the lead of the Dolphins, success might follow.
….. Al Golden, in his short or rolled up sleeved 1930’s bank teller shirts & clip-on orange school ties always looked more like a high school guidance counselor than a major college head coach. A guy who was just reluctantly coaching the school’s varsity football team because nobody else would touch the job. He just happened to get stuck with it by virtue of the fact that he was negligent in meeting his terms of employment obligations to oversee at least one extra curricular activity at the school like the chess club or detention room.
…. One problem is that the stadium they share with the Dolphins is a pariah. Bad design, bad location & bad history.
…… Sun Life Stadium was once built to accommodate soccer as well as football. This means the first row of seats are 90 feet from the sideline instead of the usual 50-60 feet in new football only stadiums. Coupled with the angular corner design, it means some fans in the best field level seats as well as in the upper deck & back rows of the lower corners are further from the action than in any other college stadium.
[ except for the cordoned off, quarantined, no admittance end zone of the LA Coliseum ].
…… It is also located in a bad geographic spot, 3/4 of an hour away from the main campus of the University.
…….. The place does host the Orange Bowl each year, but the crowds never sell out, usually making it a financial loser. The Dolphins haven’t drawn well, but the crowds are so small for Hurricanes’ games that the attendance is never announced & the school has requested that television broadcasts refrain from showing wide aerial shots during games. At the end of last week’s Clemson massacre, there were less than several hundred spectators left.
……. The naming rights have been re-sold so many times, nobody can remember what the damn place is called. Some still call it Joe Robbie, Dolphin or Dolphins stadium, since the Dolphins had this built in 1987 to escape the old, original, dilapidated Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes eventually had to follow the Dolphins to the stadium in 2007. It has been renamed seven different times since it was built in 1987. Our personal favourite was “Land Shark” stadium.
…… The old Orange Bowl was a dump. It was in a bad neighbourhood, rickety, dangerous and unsafe. It was infested with rats and violated public health codes.
…. but it least it had history, character and hosted winning teams. Many Hurricane fans have attributed the latest demise of the team to the move from the Orange Bowl. Since 2007, many fans refused to go to the new stadium. The existence of a “Curse of the Orange Bowl” situation has been a popular sobriquet to explain the team’s predicament amongst the South Florida fan base, many of whom have more than a nodding belief in Santeria & Voodoo superstition.
….. In doesn’t really matter, because the University of Miami’s glory days of beating out the other “Pay as You Play” schools like Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Florida State, Oklahoma, USC & Florida et. al on a regular basis are gone, probably forever.
…. They just don’t have the budget to compete. Al Golden was among the poorest paid “Power Five” coaches in the country. The training facilities are the poorest in the ACC. The downtown campus and the student high cost of living in violent crime neighbourhoods in a major city like Miami are not positives, especially to out of area prospects. The local players no longer aspire to play for “Gangsta U” either as their first or second option out of high school.
….. In a recent Florida poll, it wasn’t a surprise that Florida & Florida State beat out Miami as the most desired destination school for potential high school football players. It was however a surprise that Miami fell behind both Central Florida & South Florida University in preference. At least they beat out Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
……. Probably, most importantly, the Canes no longer possess the sophisticated, well connected, well financed boosters who ensured in the past that the “The U” could compete with the larger behemoths on the college landscape.
…… The most colourful and famous of these was rapper Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew who headed a syndicate of boosters and ex NFL players who paid Hurricane players for touchdowns and knockout hits between 1986 & 1992.
…. This was followed by a massive fraud scam run by university officials in 1994 to defraud the Pell Grant system by falsifying athlete applications. Then in 1995, the school was accused of extending over $420,000.00 in extra illegal aid to football and basketball players as well as failing to properly follow their own drug testing programme.
….. The school administration has attempted to either resurrect or tacitly ignore several more recent high profile recruiting & booster scams to help the football team get back to the top in the last 20 years.
….. One of these involved the notorious Nevin Shapiro who handed out money like candy to Hurricane athletes. He was convicted in 2011 & has ended up doing 20 years in a federal penitentiary for these crimes & various other Ponzi schemes and money laundering.
…… These have all ended in tears. Farcical scams that resulted in NCAA sanctions, criminal trials, embarrassment & firings. These recent scams also did not result in much success on the gridiron. As a further result, the NCAA has permanently put Miami under the microscope and the Faber College Protocol of double secret probation.
…… The “U” also has ensured that its eternal enemies with long memories [ going back to the dominant days of the unbeatable National Championship Cane teams ] will ever let them off the hook or be given any slack.
……. In the mid 1990’s, the other schools professed outrage at Miami’s methods. They claimed they flouted ethics and cheated in offering blatant recruiting inducements, massive academic fraud and the thorough white washing of criminal records & activities of many of its players.
….. What the bigger schools were really upset with was the fact that certain constraints prevented them from doing the same thing to the same extreme.
…. Since that time, the monster powers have slowly rendered the NCAA irrelevant and impotent. They have developed far more sophisticated means than the archaic and thuggish Miami Hurricane methods to ensure that they remain dominant.
…… Like Wall Street, they used their massive financial resources to change the rules and rig the game in their favour. Instead of variable rate mortgages & hedge funds they created a cash cow called the BCS & massive cash flow from TV revenues. The laughable new four team “Playoff” is the latest financial windfall resulting from the unholy big school oligarchy.
…. These developments have left lesser players like “The U” on the sidelines, on the outside looking in. They just don’t have the allies or resources to join the “Big Schools Club.” As a result, Miami can’t hope to join them & share in the success that has led the same old big schools’ domination of the college football landscape that has taken place over the last two decades.
….. Following the lead of the Dolphins and firing the coach won’t help the Hurricanes all that much. The long term prognosis is just not good.
….. However, they could follow the Dolphin example and make their own short term media splash by hiring their own monosyllabic, Cro-Magnon, Dan Campbell-like high impact coach. He would even be an alumni, infamous, a Super Bowl winner, a high profile ESPN talking head, an edged weapons specialist and a future NFL Hall of Famer closely associated with the glory days of the school’s criminal past.
….. Your next head coach of the Miami Hurricanes will be:
…… Ray Lewis!
…… The Dolphins come into Spuriousboro, Massachusetts to face the Dark Forces of Belichik, Brady and the Patriots loaded with optimism.
….. Last week they beat the Texans before halftime, and even rested some key players in the second half to prepare for the short week & the trip to Fraud Town. Coach Campbell may seem primordial, but he isn’t against looking ahead to the next game & plotting strategy. He said in a recent interview that he was open minded & wasn’t against adapting any athletic training method or psychological strategy that might help his team.
….. No word on whether Coach Cave Dweller will try and institute the Italian National Soccer Team protocol of having the players refrain from sexual activity before games. There is zero evidence that this tactic is effective ( it is difficult to verify & any means test would violate the NFL’S collective bargaining agreement ). Still, it has been adapted by many varied sports teams and franchises over the years, but it didn’t start with them.
….. In ancient Greece, Aristophanes wrote a play where the women of Greece, fed up with the intransigence of the Peloponnesian War, decided to collectively withhold services from their husbands until peace was reached. Soon a treaty was signed.
…. Of course on a non athletic, non war level, this interpersonal dynamic has been followed in individual relationships since time in memorium. There is no doubt that in the recent past, this has even affected the conjugal frequency of several current Presidential candidates.
…. Maybe the current rumours of domestic disruption have some validity and that is why Tom Brady has been so driven lately. Last week he was the Patriots’ leading rusher for the first time in his career and his extraordinary cognitive skills in dissecting the Jets’ defense late in the game almost solely led to the close New England win.
…. However, he also took a lot of hits, hurries and sacks. A trend that has continued over the last 3 weeks.
….. and for the 2nd week in a row, the Patriots failed to cover the spread.
….. Coach Philistine Campbell and the Dolphins are coming in with momentum, …… they are a lot fresher than the Patriots since they coasted to a far easier win last week.
….. The Miami defensive line has really awoken and should continue the trend of opponents getting to Tom Brady. DT Ndamukong Suh has awoken & is tossing off double teams with ease. DE Cameron Wake has been getting pressures & sacks regularly again. Secret weapon & DE Olivier “The Submariner” Vernon poses the threat of taking Tom Brady and his 38 year old knees out of the game by launching another one of his patented low flying tackles like the one that sidelined Titan’s QB Marcus Mariotta.
….. Hopefully the defense can get steady pressure to disrupt enough Brady slant passes to thwart key Patriots’ late game drives.
….. On the offensive side, QB Ryan Tannehill & his various weapons have looked better than ever. The forecast calls for rain, and that usually keeps the winning margin closer. The offense isn’t going to score like the last two weeks, but they should be able to keep this close or even win.
…… Patriots don’t cover for the third straight week.
Pick: Dolphins (+10)
Bob: Miami +10