Talking Football

(Cartoonist’s note: I haven’t mentioned college football this fall, because I know not everyone here follows it. However, I have something I want to say about it today, so I’ve chosen two cartoons I think many can enjoy, whether football fans or not. The first should appeal to the cat people, and the second to, well… you know who you are.)
I read an article recently about how fast “artificial intelligence” is progressing, or, perhaps more precisely, how far it has progressed. The gist of the article was that within the lifetime of many living today, virtually all jobs now done by humans will be performed and performed better by some form of robotics. According to the author of the article, this cannot and should not be prevented; it only remains for society to decide how it’s going to adjust. Maybe, but what does this have to do with football? Nothing, but it got me thinking.

Currently, the college football “playoff” consists of four teams chosen solely by a committee of 13 old men, several of whom must recuse themselves at any given time (One hopes!), because they are affiliated with the schools they’re considering. This is the NCAA’s answer. This is the best they can do. Well, I have an idea!

If (major) college football absolutely refuses to institute a true playoff—and we are far from that—let a computer winnow the field. This actually has been half-heartedly done. For several years prior to the advent of the committee, a paltry two teams were chosen to play for the championship by a mash-up of human polls and computer-generated standings. Then, they threw out the baby and kept the bath water.

Forget Artificial Intelligence! Forget the future! The computing capability to choose the better of 100 teams based on statistics has been around for at least 60 years. Throw in the strength of schedule, the offensive stats, the defensive stats, etc. Choose a dozen or so contenders in this manner. Throw in a couple of byes if needed. The details don’t matter so much; it would be simple compared to the system now in place. If it sounds cold, computers already do countless tasks that are a lot more important than football. I say embrace the future! I say fire the committee and replace it with a computer.
Buy the new book, "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis!"Today's "Arlo & Janis!"

41 responses to “Talking Football”

  1. Just throw the stats into the computer and let it determine the champion without the teams having to take the field one last time for the season.

    I have played a couple of really good sports simulation games (not computerized) that were based on a given year’s stats. They were lots of fun and I can’t remember the name for the life of me. Of course, this was over 25 years ago and the company might be gone.

  2. It’s funny the NCAA Basketball Tournament is exciting most years and there is always an underdog in the mix. Maybe someone should tell the Football commissioner about it.

  3. Maybe the tech people should create a computerized football program for each school and run playoffs. Think it would generate more interest in education and decrease the overemphasis on team sports?

  4. JJ, follow the money. Someone profits from the current and previous systems, no matter how bad the final product/ratings may be. If it weren’t profitable to the right parties, the system would change.

  5. I say we go back to the way it was, before ESPN successfully made determining a “national champion” so important.

    The football season used to be about enjoying the games, beating your rivals, occasionally winning your conference, and, if you had a very good season, going to a bonus bowl game (which didn’t count for anything, including stats).

    Now it’s all about the national championship, which means almost all schools have bad years. Coaches get fired often. Big conferences are now made of teams that never would have played each other before. You can’t even plan a trip to a game because the game time isn’t set until a couple of weeks before.

    The game used to be for the fans of the schools. Now it’s for a national audience. There’s a lot more money, but it’s a lot less fun.

    As far as AI goes, Facebook still thinks I would be interested in pages about the University (sic) of Georgia when it knows I’m a Yellow Jacket. That’s just stupid.

  6. I don’t know. Any artificial intelligence program to analyze as many multivariate statistics as you like will always have someone’s bias built into it.

    Bet on Georgia Tech. — jj

  7. Funny that while I don’t follow college football O totally agree with you Jimmy.

    Have lived in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, all states besotted with college football. I am not sure reality based intelligence governs their thinking.

    Retro strips among my favoritds.

    Remember The Replacements? The titty bar pole dancers replaced the striking cheerleaders? Caused havoc among opposing players and officials.

    Nah, men don’t watch the cheerleaders or drill teams micming.

  8. It is time to drop football from high school and below. We are permanently injuring kids for entertainment. By college maybe they are old enough to make the choice. We really can’t call ourselves civilized until we outlaw football and its senseless mindless violence. At the very least we need to outlaw boxing. If two men square off and one of them beats the other senseless we call it a crime unless it happens in a boxing ring. Then it is sport.

  9. Yes, I do know who I am. *sigh*

    I believe Jackie failed to mention that one of the performers at the concert we attended for my birthday was Arlo Guthrie, someone who seems to be acknowledged as having some connection to A&J. Sadly, Janis Joplin was not available to attend, which would have made it perfect. But Kris did sing “Me and Bobbie McGee” as, I suppose, a tribute to her. And he did so while being backed up by Rita Coolidge and Jessi Colter. Not too shabby.

    Off to Tulsa today, and back to the rehabilitation center where Jackie’s left knee was rehabbed following the replacement. This time she will be evacuated for rehab on her left arm; it’s pretty obvious that its range of motion has been restricted due to her mastectomy. So I will be forced to hang around a facility filled with female therapists that are almost uniformly trim, toned, and cute. The things I endue for Jackie’s sake.

  10. Amen Craig T. Even Basketball does not produce a true National Champion. It is a tournament championship. The upsets might be fun, but frankly it does do a good job of picking a champion.

    To me all conferences should be scaled back to 10 and let each team play each other in football and in basketball have them play home and away. Then you have a true conference champion. The bowl games are exhibitions (WAY too many, especially with non-power conference teams) and played for everyone’s enjoyment. Trying to determine who are the best 2,4 or 8 teams is difficult because the sample size is way too small. The playoff in football and basketball are interesting, but frankly I rarely watch them anymore.

    By the way, one of the “Old Men” that you reference that picked the playoff teams was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She is not doing it this year.

  11. Eva!uated, not evacuated. Ghosts computer is going over TDS with Hal.

    Ghost is quite fetching attired in a pair of faded long legged tight jeans and another western shirt with his leather jacket. He’s adding western boots as well. Looks very authentic.

    We. May have to add a horse to menagerie in back yard or at least a pony.

    Remember Author the movie?

  12. I say a committee of 12 individuals be selected by a random draw from the populace of the United States each year to come together and determine eight teams to play in a playoff. No criteria for the committee members or the teams they select. Treat it like jury duty, and place your trust in your fellow countrymen.

  13. I’m going to do something weird, and comment on one of the above strips. If Arlo really wanted to, he could prove to Janis that men don’t watch football for the cheerleaders, because the cheerleaders are only on screen for a few minutes across the course of the game. If the cheerleaders were that important to the TV audience, there’d be lots more shots of them, and less shots of what the players are doing between plays.

  14. “… what the players are doing between plays.” Scratching themselves, right. Or is that baseball?

    Random juries to pick teams. I’d really qualify. Have no preconceived notions about any. Dodgers moved to L.A. Anything happen since?

    Note that Barack wasn’t picked. All you have to do is act intelligent, and you’re excused.


  15. The Sagarin Computer rating of college football teams for years. I remember our local paper publishing it weekly and parsing the ratings to come up with a favorite and underdog for any game. In theory, the same rankings could be used to predict the outcome of any game between any two college teams. I used to love seeing how many local team would pair up against the “big boys”.

    Somehow the Sagarin rating used to be incorporated into the determination of the top four college teams.

  16. Blinky the Wonder Wombat, Ghost and I are at a program of Jack Hanna from the Columbus Zoo and just saw what a hairy nosed wombat looks like. Cute.

  17. Well, Louisiana Tech hasn’t even come close to making anyone’s list, so you guys figure it out. About today’s toon, I knew a couple that save hundreds, if not thousands of wine corks and ended up taking an antique (meaning an old) table and re-doing the top with the wine corks. It looked good, but I think they both quit drinking wine after the project was complete. They said enough is enough.

  18. Bill I was just talking about Tech today, as well as University of Louisiana at Monroe and Lafayette and other smaller colleges. In my day we went to all our schools football games, even if we didn’t m ow squat. We were there because it was our college. We went on dates and we were dressed up too.

    Has Louisiana changed that much?

  19. Even if we didn’t know squat about football.

    Has it become that only the big powerhouse schools have fans? It only matters if they go to a playoff or a bowl game or on television?

    What happened to school spirit and going to local sports games?

    Is it all about television and media, like so much else?

  20. College ball is a junior NFL now and high school is the outlying recruiting post. Everybody is trying to move up too fast to get into “the big time”. And it’s all about the money. Forget the old slogan about “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” For coaches and teams it IS all about whether they win or lose. Too many losses and the coach goes out the revolving door to replace somebody else who couldn’t make the school happy. Student doesn’t get enough playing time, he jumps to another school. If he does well on the field, forget graduation, he’s jumping to the NFL.

  21. That is sad. The man who exposed all the brain damage in football players (as young as grade school) was a featured speaker here in Tulsa as a Town Hall speaker.

    Read the article in my playbill rather fast but it seems the brain injuries have appeared in players autopsies following suicides and deaths. Will go home and read it again. Perhaps the program hadn’t happened yet?

  22. Bemidji once had a supt. of schools who said, “Winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.” Ran for Lt. Gov. [Repub.], cannot remember whether they won, but do remember that he faded away. Doubt he died penniless.

    In USA college athletics, the tail wags the dog, except maybe for Reed, Ivy League, U. Chicago, some others.


  23. Ghost, not surprising that Kris sang “Me and Bobbie McGee” since it’s actually originally his song. He wrote it. Janis Joplin made it immortal, though. Happens a lot in the music industry, like with Mariah Carey’s cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” or Joe Cocker’s cover of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On”.

  24. Hairy nosed wombat. Sounds like a good creative insult. The (fill in your choice)!. Why, that hairy-nosed wombat couldn’t find his butt with both hands and a compass!

  25. Kris actually lived with Janis at one point during this period of their lives. Must have been interesting.

    Yes, Kris sang only songs he wrote, a brief history of hundreds of legendary songs made famous by others. There were ghosts of many legendary performers onstage with the living legends.

    Kris looked wonderful, still smiling and gorgeous, laughing at himself and impeccably dressed in jeans and simple jacket.

    He is thinner and looked frail. At one point he ablibbed “help me make it through tonight” as he laughed at himself.

    When ex-wife Rita Coolidge sang with him, it was two old friends and performers laughing together, charming.

  26. Enjoyed the animal show sitting up in mezzanine protected from the thousands of possibly infectious small children.

    Jack Hanna was charming, we learned things and animals were adorable. Ghost got to see a cheetah, something he didn’t expect.

    The checking in to hotel with cheetah story was funny.

  27. If you can find Jack’s book “Monkeys on the Interstate”, it’s a very good read. Autobiography covering the period up till the 1980’s.

  28. Big time college football seems to be about nothing else but winning. First it was to appease generous alumni donors, now it seems to be about attracting more TV revenue. Football coaches used to members of the faculty, now they are rock stars. Most don’t even pretend to teach anything anymore.

    The highest paid public employee in 39 states are either the State University’s football or basketball coach. 🙁

    I went to a small college in eastern PA which was actually a football powerhouse in the early days of college football. They even started to build a football stadium to match those at Harvard and Yale, but abandoned it when the Depression hit. Even though by the time I matriculated the football program was small-time, the students still showed up each Saturday for tailgating, cocktail parties and rubbing elbows with alumni. THe season record mattered little as long as we beat our archrival at year’s end. Seemed like a flashback to what college football was supposed to be about.

    Jackie Monies: Im must not be a hairy-nosed variety wombat- no one’s called my cute since I graduated from diapers!

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