Posted: Wednesday August 3, 2005 12:42PM; Updated: Friday August 5, 2005 12:04PM
The ballsiest conference? The Big Ten has a case, since its teams play the fewest number of I-AA schools (two), while Pac-10 opponents have the best overall win percentage. The Big East plays the highest percentage of BCS schools and the lowest percentage of home games. The ACC's numbers are similar, though not as good as, the Big East's. But ACC schools face five more bowl teams.
Notes on individual schools:
Based on last year's records, North Carolina has the toughest schedule. The Tar Heels host Wisconsin and Utah and visit Louisville. Those three schools went 32-4 in '04. Of course, those first two schools are not likely to have similar success this season. Georgia Tech (at Auburn and home against UConn and Georgia, who were 31-6 last year) and Oregon State (hosting Boise State and at Louisville, a combined 22-2) also have a tough non-conference schedule, going strictly by the numbers.
The easiest non-conference schedules, based solely on opponents' 2004 records? Virginia (9-25) and Baylor, Boston College and Wake Forest (all 9-24).
Our Dorothy Division ("There's no place like home") includes eleven schools that will not travel for non-conference games this season. They are Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Florida, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, Alabama and, yes, Kansas. Why don't these schools, most of whom are perennial BCS bowl fixtures, want to venture off campus? Take a look at their non-conference road records from 2000-2004:
Alabama 1-3 Auburn 0-3 Florida 1-3 Kansas 2-3 LSU 1-1 Michigan 0-5 Nebraska 3-1 Ohio State 3-1 Penn State 0-5 South Carolina 0-4 Texas Tech 4-3
That's a combined away record of 15-32. Don't blame it on the white jerseys. The fact is, if you travel, you will trail. Athletic directors are no fans of Bill Bryson.
Eight in the Box
Have a comment for John? Submit it here.
1. Jason Giambi is the Thomas Haden Church of the 2005 baseball season, in terms of career resurrection. Fourteen home runs in July? Curtain calls at Yankee Stadium? I've seen many Yankees games in the past month, and I suspect Giambi is applying a foreign substance to his body: Brylcreem. Seriously, have you noticed how goopy his hair is before the game even begins? He looks like Kenickie from Grease.
2. During Sunday's 8-7 extra-inning win against the Angels, by the way, the Yankees sent in a pinch-runner for Bernie Williams after he stroked a lead-off double in the 10th inning. That may have been the most humbling moment in a humbling season for the Yankee centerfielder.
3. There's a website called pickthehottie.com (a "friend" told me about it), whereby people rank photos of random guys and girls. Anyway, if you go to the "Top New Hotties" link, there's a certain female tennis star who as of Monday only rated seventh best. Talk about a tough room.
4. If you say Must Love Dogs fast enough and repeat it, it sounds like "Mazel Tov." No?
5. Americans Bernard Lagat and Alan Webb both ran faster than 3:50 in the famed "Dream Mile" at last Friday night's Bislett Games in Oslo. Lagat posted a 3:48.38 and Webb a 3:48.92. Those times were not only good for second and fourth in the race, but second and fourth all-time among American milers. The fastest mile ever run by an American remains Steve Scott's 3:47.69, set in 1982 and as underappreciated a record as exists in American sports.
Scott's record could fall as early as this Friday in Helsinki, when Webb chases after it again at the World Track & Field Championships.
6. I know I rag on ESPN too often -- too often for someone who loves College Football Gameday and Baseball Tonight as much as I do -- but couldn't the Worldwide Leader have shown some of the Bislett Games last Friday instead of the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating? I'm sure there's some complicated television contractual obligations of which I'm blissfully unaware that forbade ESPN to show this, but I'm just sayin', people ... Track deserves better. Field, I'm not so sure about. But Track, definitely.
7. There's an animated 1970 Disney film entitled The Aristocats. You've got to wonder if parents will fail to read the marquee carefully this week and take their kids to see the newly released obscenity-fest The Aristocrats, thinking it's a revival of the cartoon they loved as kids. "Mommy, what's a hermaphrodite?"
8. In honor of the eighth month, a Power Ranking of the top Augusts and derivatives of August in pop culture:
1. Augustus McCrae, from Lonesome Dove. Robert Duvall played the rascally Ranger and rancher to perfection in the 1989 miniseries.
2. Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry. If you thought your childhood was messed up, you ain't seen nothing until you've read the former. Sick, but hilarious.
3. August and Everything After, by The Counting Crows. None of the cool kids like these Crows (this album did not make Spin's 100 Best of the past 20 years list), but I love this album. And Mr. Jones is my least-favorite cut. Favorite tune? Anna Begins.
4. Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The ultimate fudge lover.
5. Charles A. Lindbergh. The A. stood for "Augustus," as opposed to Atlantic, which he flew across solo in 1927.