The Lakers Beat the Supersonics: College Football Playoff Payoff, BlogPoll Ballot, Football Parlay and Classic Music Video of the Week

It’s the home stretch for the college football regular season.  Let’s get to it.

(1) College Football Playoff News Leads to More College Football Playoff Questions – Every few weeks, a flurry of news about the college football playoff comes out and it ends up being more head-spinning than clarifying.  Last month, it appeared that a 7th BCS bowl (or whatever we will call the system going forward) would be a lock in order to provide more top tier bowl access to the new class of “non-contract” conferences (Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and MAC) known as the “Gang of Five” (hereinafter referred to by me as the “G5″*) along with an additional contract spot for the Pac-12 and Big 12 (to match the Orange Bowl contract spot that the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame are occupying opposite of the ACC).   It now looks like that idea lasted about as long as Mike Brown’s coaching tenure with the Lakers, complete with the BFFs of the Big Ten and Pac-12 getting into a tiff over the bowl’s viability.

(* Whenever I hear a reference to a G5, I always think of this moment.)

As a result, the FBS commissioners are going to recommend the original plan of a 4-team playoff incorporated into 6 bowls, with the Rose, Sugar (which has finally been named as the home of the SEC-Big 12 matchup and allows all of us to stop calling it the pompous Champions Bowl) and Orange Bowls as “Contract Bowls” and 3 other “Access Bowls” that will likely consist of the Cotton, Fiesta and the I Really Love Chick Fil-A Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches So Please Have Your CFO Not Talk About Politics So I Can Eat Them Without Guilt Bowls*.

(* In full disclosure for those that don’t already know from some of my past blog posts, I have long considered myself to be a libertarian Republican, so I have a constant tension in my head between my belief that there needs to be significantly lower government spending with fewer regulatory restraints on the free market and social viewpoints that I completely disagree with.  This election year certainly didn’t ease that tension at all.  At least we can all depend upon Nate Silver.)

That leaves a multitude of questions that need to be answered ASAP:

  • How often will the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl host semifinals compared to the other top bowls?
  • How will the conferences split the playoff money?
  • Will the G5 conferences receive a dedicated bid to the access bowls, a provisional bid based on a top 15/20 ranking threshold similar to the current BCS system, or no guaranteed access at all?
  • Will ESPN win the TV rights or do the conference commissioners want to take the playoff package to the open market?  (Currently, it looks like Disney is going to buy up everything once again just as it swallowed up Star Wars.)
  • Who will be on the playoff selection committee?
  • Are playoff games really going to be played on New Year’s Eve or will TV interests nix that prospect?
  • What happens when the first Monday after the NFL Wild Card weekend, which TV partners have said is the optimal date for the national championship game, comes on a date that is less than a week after New Year’s Day?
  • Where is the first national championship game going to be played?
  • Since ESPN is ready to pay over $600 million per year for the college football postseason, when will a further expansion of the playoff become too irresistible for the powers that be?*

(* Unlike a lot of people, I personally don’t believe that an 8-team playoff is going to be inevitable by any means.  If there’s an expansion of the postseason, I think a “plus three” system of a 4-team playoff with the participants chosen after the bowls are played would be more likely, but that’s another discussion for another day.)

With the new playoff starting for the 2014 season, there honestly isn’t that much time to hammer all of these details out.  We’ll see what comes out on Monday after the Presidential Oversight Committee hears from the FBS commissioners.

(2) BlogPoll Ballot

I had been holding out on elevating Oregon to #2 since I believed that Notre Dame had a much better resume, but the Ducks continuing its thrashings against USC combined with a game that the Irish should have completely lost versus Pitt has finally gotten me to go with the conventional wisdom among the human pollsters (if not the computers that still like Kansas State much better).

(3) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Minnesota (-3) over ILLINOIS

SYRACUSE (+2) over Louisville

Northwestern (+9.5) over MICHIGAN

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

BEARS (PK) over Texans

EAGLES (+1) over Cowboys

Lions (-1) over VIKINGS

(5) Classic Music Video of the Week – “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube

While it is now impossible for the Lakers to beat the Supersonics (particularly for Mike Brown), any list of the top Internet achievements of 2012 needs to include the pinpointing of November 30, 1988 as Ice Cube’s “good day” (after an original argument that it was January 20, 1992).

Enjoy another great weekend of football!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)


Quick Hits: BlogPoll Ballot and Football Parlay Picks

It’s been a crazy week in the Frank the Tank household, so I just have time for my BlogPoll Ballot and parlay picks for this post.  Some more in-depth posts about conference realignment, the college football playoff picture and TV contracts are forthcoming.

(1) BlogPoll Ballot

This is the first time in history where an undefeated Notre Dame team is actually underrated.  The Irish resume is deserving of a #2 ranking.

(2) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Illinois (+27.5) over OHIO STATE – As evidenced by last week’s post, I’m waaaaaay down on the state of the Illinois football program, but for whatever reason, the Illini generally outperform expectations whenever they play Ohio State (if only because this matchup typically comes with trap game timing for the Buckeyes).

USC (+8.5) over Oregon – I’m feeling upset #1…

LSU (+8.5) over Alabama – … and upset #2.  Identical lines for two uber-talented home teams in the biggest games of the weekend.  Get ready for that Notre Dame vs. Kansas State national championship game.

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Bears (-3.5) over TITANS – I’m going to chalk up last week’s sub par performance by Smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Bears to a short week coming off of a Monday Night Football appearance.

FALCONS (-3.5) over Cowboys – Atlanta should honestly be getting more love from the oddsmakers here.

Ravens (-3.5) over BROWNS – This Browns team was challenging to be the among the worst Cleveland teams ever (which is saying something) before it pulled out that cringe-inducing victory over San Diego last week.  I think they’ll revert to true form against the Team Formerly Known as the Cleveland Browns.

Enjoy the weekend, stay safe if you’re on the East Coast and, no matter what your political persuasion might be, please vote on Tuesday!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)


No One Goes to Hooters For Wings: Crazy Like a Fox Part 2, BlogPoll Ballot, Football Parlay and Classic Music Video of the Week

It has been quite crazy in the real life of Frank the Tank over the past couple of weeks, so I apologize for the hiatus.  Let’s get right back into it:

(1) The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Fox Emerging as Top Competitor to ESPN Instead of Comcast (Because That’s How ESPN Wants It) – When I wrote this post on potential challengers to ESPN back in March, I was fairly skeptical of anyone being able to step up to create a full-fledged all-sports network competitor.  Unlike Fox News Channel and MSNBC, which were able to establish audiences to compete with CNN with internal programming decisions within their full control, new sports networks are largely dependent upon winning sports rights from third parties (which aren’t guaranteed).  To its credit, though, Fox has been able to assemble a broad array of what I called “tier one” properties since that time, such as cable rights for Major League Baseball (including postseason games) and NASCAR.  When combined with the Big 12, Pac-12 and soccer (e.g. future FIFA events such as the World Cup, English Premier League, etc.) rights that Fox already has in hand, the likely-to-be-formed “Fox Sports One” looks like a legitimate counterweight to ESPN.  Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. certainly has a lot of experience building empires based on sports properties with BSkyB in the United Kingdom breaking through after the purchase of English Premier League rights and over-the-air Fox doing the same after winning NFL games here in the United States.  (If you were around in the early-1990s, there were legitimate concerns and tons of late night talk show fodder about whether enough people would be able to find the Fox network.  Within a couple of years of having NFL games, though, Fox established itself as every bit as powerful of a network as ABC, CBS and NBC.)  It looks like he’ll finally have a cable sports network in the US that will have access to top properties during the entire calendar year.

In contrast, it appears that Comcast has very few options left for its NBC Sports Network.  For all of the bluster from Comcast that it was looking to invest heavily in NBCSN, it has ended up losing out on every competitive bidding situation for sports rights over the past 2 years with the exception of retaining the NHL and Olympics rights that it already had.  The other properties that NBCSN has added during that time frame are generally low value, such as MLS soccer, Formula One racing and Atlantic 10 basketball.  Comcast may no longer have much incentive to spend significantly on NBCSN since there is literally nothing else of value available over the next few years outside of the Big East rights (which we’ll address separately in a moment).  As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised to see NBCSN go more toward the CBS Sports Network route of trying to keep costs down while providing an overflow outlet for the main over-the-air NBC Sports operation.

What’s interesting here is that ESPN effectively picked the winner between News Corp. and Comcast when it chose to work with Fox in winning the Pac-12 rights against NBC last year.  Once that occurred, it established (or maybe just reflected) a fascinating bond between Disney (ESPN) and News Corp. (Fox) along with Time Warner/Turner (TBS/TNT): no matter how much they might have hated each other, they all hated Comcast even more and showed that they would rather work together to squash NBCSN than let the fledgling network gain any traction.  ESPN and Fox have partnered on the new Big 12 TV deal, while Turner is going to pay twice as much as it does now for MLB rights for half as many games (with virtually all of the games that they’re losing heading over to Fox).  From the perspective of these media companies, it makes complete sense.  Comcast is the largest source of subscriber fees for all of the top cable networks, which means that a Comcast-owned sports network that has enough top tier properties to be used as leverage in carriage fees negotiations is much more dangerous for ESPN, Fox and Turner than any other potential competitor.  So, for ESPN, it was much better for them to allow Fox to rise up as its primary competition than Comcast/NBC.  It’s a classic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation.

The Big East is sitting back seeing this dance unfold.  A few months ago, many sports media industry observers thought that it was a foregone conclusion that the Big East’s new TV contract would end up with Comcast/NBC.  Now, the view seems to have shifted to where a number of people are betting on an ESPN/Fox combo for the Big East (similar to what they have in place with the Pac-12 and Big 12).  What’s hard to tell is whether this is going to end up working out financially well for the Big East since, whether or not they ultimately sign a contract with any particular media entity, they need all three of ESPN, Fox and Comcast/NBC (plus CBS for basketball) to be legitimately interested in the conference’s rights to drive up the price.  If ESPN and Fox are working together while Comcast/NBC decides that it’s going to take a low cost approach, then the Big East may not receive the payday that many of the league’s fans are hoping for.  Therefore, the Big East had better hope that Comcast/NBC is willing to legitimately pay up to compete with ESPN and Fox and not just sell the availability of “exposure” with open Saturday time slots that ESPN can’t offer.  The fact that Comcast/NBC wasn’t willing to do that with MLB rights is a negative sign, but as always, we’ll find out whether that will be the case here soon enough.

(2) BlogPoll Ballot

I seriously don’t try to win the Jim Tressel’s Numb Existence Award every week, but I’m on top of the list again despite my love for Toledo.

(3) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Indiana (+1) over ILLINOIS – I don’t care how bad Indiana might be (and believe me, they’re awful) – Illinois should not be giving points to any team.  Look, I’ve had some prolonged rough stretches as an Illini fan.  During my first three years of college in Champaign, the Illinois football team amassed a 5-28 record (including a winless season in 1997).  When Illinois finally won a game in 1998, fans rushed the field even though that win was against the mighty Middle Tennessee State.  2003 through 2006 featured an 8-38 stretch, which was mitigated a little bit by some glory years for the Illini basketball team.  However, I’m not exaggerating here when I say that this is the most dejected that I’ve ever seen the Illini football fan base.  At least with Ron Zook, there was the inkling of hope that his legendary recruiting ability would eventually turn things around.  Plus, I think we’ll eventually remember the Zook years as being “funny bad”.  Between the asinine 2-point conversion attempts in the first quarter, rugby punts and water skiing without water skis, Zook at least sucked with some style.  (Other examples of “funny bad”: “Evil Dead 2”, the “Cheaters” TV show, and the Henry Burris stint as quarterback for the Bears.)

The Illini team under Tim Beckman, on the other hand, has been completely listless since the loss to Louisiana Tech in week 4.  To use a sports cliche, it’s not that the Illini are losing per se that bothers me, but rather how they are losing.  Several other top Illini boosters are bothered by it, as well, and have made it known publicly that they aren’t happy at all with Beckman or Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas.  Granted, it’s tough to fire any new head coach after only one season (compounded by the fact that the Illinois athletic department is still paying buyouts to both Ron Zook and Bruce Weber at the same time), but we’re getting dangerously close to the point where fan anger turns to fan apathy, which is the worst thing that can happen to a program that can’t count on 100,000 people showing up every week no matter what like Ohio State and Michigan.  For practical purposes, I’m resigned to the fact that Beckman will almost certainly get another year (if only because Thomas would be admitting he made a major mistake in the hiring by axing Beckman so quickly), yet Illinois might be trading a short-term contract buyout issue for a legitimately long-term setback once again.

Cincinnati (+4) over LOUISVILLE – Even though Cincinnati lost a trap road game to Toledo last week, I believe that the real fight in the Big East will eventually come down to between the Bearcats and Rutgers.  Louisville has already had multiple close escapes with a very weak schedule, so the Cardinals’ undefeated record and #16 ranking are paper thin in my eyes.  (The sharps in Las Vegas apparently agree with me since this line has been dropping with money heading towards Cincinnati all week.)

Michigan (+2.5) over NEBRASKA – This ought to be a fun atmosphere in Lincoln with Michigan coming to town, but my feeling is that the Wolverines will end up running the table for the rest of the year to get to the Rose Bowl.

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

BEARS (-8) over Panthers – An organization in a tailspin versus the NFL’s best defense isn’t a great combo for Cam Newton and Ron Rivera.  Granted, I’m concerned about Jay Cutler’s bruised ribs (as his passes were nowhere near as crisp in the 2nd half against the Lions on Monday Night as they were in the 1st half), but the Bears have definitely taken care of business against all of the teams that they were supposed to beat so far this season.  Lovie Smith has had this team completely focused game-to-game.

LIONS (-1) over Seahawks – As stifling as the Bears defense might be, the Lions were actually able to move the ball fairly well down field in the 2nd half and it took multiple disastrous red zone turnovers by Detroit for Chicago to come away with the win.  I have no idea why Matthew Stafford seems to miss on half of his throws toward Calvin Johnson with Megatron being such a massive target, but those two connecting consistently is much more likely at home against Seattle than it was on the road against Chicago.

Falcons (+2) over EAGLES – I know that Atlanta has to eventually lose, but I don’t feel that it’s going to come against an underachieving .500 squad in the middle of Philly fan calls for the scalps of Michael Vick and Andy Reid.

(5) Classic Music Video of the Week: “No Sex in the Champagne Room” by Chris Rock

In honor of Tom Fornelli starting up The Champaign Room at SBNation to cover the Fighting Illini (the logo is even better than the name), here’s a memorable ditty from Chris Rock:

Enjoy the World Series and the rest of your week!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

Like A Drifter I Was Born to Walk Alone: Beastly Big East Expansion, DePaul Arena Dreaming, BlogPoll Ballot, Parlay Picks and Classic Music Video of the Week

You just knew that one of either Tony Romo or Jay Cutler was going to have a sub-zero passer rating game on Monday night, right?  It was preordained with a prime time game featuring the two erratic quarterbacks.  Fortunately for the Bears, Bad Romo showed up that even more gloriously led to a nostalgic appearance by the Neckbeard.  Let’s get onto some other news:

(1) Beastly Big East Expansion – I didn’t get to write about this at all last week, but the Big East reportedly has been looking at BYU and Air Force for its 14th football member (and might even add those 2 plus Army to have a 16-team football league).  If the Big East can pull off that trifecta, that’s effectively the best that the conference could realistically do considering the circumstances.  However, I continue to have doubts about the viability of a BYU candidacy for the Big East because of that school’s very different leadership structure and goals compared to any other FBS school.  Indeed, Brett McMurphy, in his report linked above, said, “BYU was close to joining the Big East last November, until the deal blew up essentially at the last minute when the Cougars refused to relinquish their home television rights.”  That’s such a basic fundamental issue that I find it difficult to believe that it could have possibly only been brought up at the last minute unless a group far above the athletic director’s pay grade (AKA the actual leadership of the LDS Church) purposefully lobbed in a grenade to tank the negotiations.  My understanding from BYU people has always been that TV exposure trumps TV money by a wide margin to LDS leadership, which means that they aren’t going to be persuaded by merely a larger check from a share of Big East TV rights versus the guaranteed widespread exposure that the school receives now in its ESPN contract.  Plus, BYU has effectively stated previously that Comcast’s dealings with the Mountain West were the biggest reason why the school turned independent in the first place, so it will be an extremely tough sell for the Big East to pitch the value of any potential NBC/Comcast deal to the Cougars no matter how much it might pay.  The Big East’s largest selling point to BYU would be that the access to the new 7th top tier bowl discussed here last week may only be open to the champions of the “Gang of Five” conferences (the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and MAC), which means that the school’s ability to make it into the new BCS (or whatever it will be called) system will solely be via a handful of access bowl slots determined by a selection committee.  Essentially, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has to convince the LDS Church (NOT the BYU athletic department, which seems to be much more open to conference membership) that the exposure gained from having access to this new 7th bowl trumps the week-to-week exposure that the school is receiving from its current TV deals.  I think the chances of BYU joining the Big East are better than they were two weeks ago, but still nowhere near a foregone conclusion.  Hence, the hedging comment in the McMurphy piece that the Big East is “divided over whether to pursue Air Force or BYU.”  It’s very clear that BYU is the superior option, but the Big East needs to make it look like that it chose Air Force (instead of getting rejected by BYU) if it ends up adding the Falcons.  (“You didn’t reject us!  We rejected you!”)

As you can see, I believe that Air Force is a much more realistic addition to the Big East compared to BYU.  Things have changed greatly for Air Force since it rejected the Big East’s overtures 1 year ago, particularly the fact that the Big East decided to raid Air Force’s home of the Mountain West of Boise State and San Diego State.  Navy has also committed to join the Big East for football since that time, so that gives the Air Force a service academy rival to potentially enter the league with.  In contrast, nothing has really changed for BYU other than potentially the bowl situation.  As a result, if I were a betting man, Air Force is going to end up as Big East football school #14.

On another note, Big East Coast Bias points out that the new Atlantic 10 TV contract shows why the Catholic members of the Big East aren’t going to be splitting off to create a CYO basketball league.  In this era of skyrocketing sports rights contracts, the Atlantic 10 is going to be receiving $40 million over the course of 8 years.  That translates into $5 million per year to be split among 14 members, which amounts to an average of a little more than $350,000 per year per school.  This has to be a scary figure for the schools that solely depend upon basketball revenue.  Granted, I believe that a CYO basketball league made up of the current Big East Catholic schools plus a handful of others (e.g. St. Louis University, Xavier, Dayton) would command a better TV contract than what the Atlantic 10 is receiving, but this new deal effectively ensures that those Big East members won’t even take the chance of a split.  As I noted last year, splitting up the Big East would be as misguided as the maligned and eventually overturned decision to split up Netflix and this is more evidence of that being the case.

(2) DePaul Arena Dreaming – Speaking of the Big East and on a more personal note, the notion of DePaul basketball returning to the Chicago city limits is finally gaining steam.  DePaul is looking at either moving home games to the United Center or partnering with the city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to build a new arena near McCormick Place.  I have been arguing that DePaul basketball ought to move to the United Center at a minimum ever since I started this blog (see this post about DePaul’s very first Big East game, which happened to be against Notre Dame, complete with an outdated reference to the now-defunct Demon Dogs), so it’s been a long time coming.  Personally, I like the McCormick Place proposal even more since the funding appears to be available, Rahm seems to want to get it done (meaning that it’s much more than a pipe dream) and it would be an arena whose primary tenant is DePaul (compared to the United Center, where the order of precedence is (1) Ringling Bros. Circus, (2) Disney on Ice, (3) Bulls, (4) Blackhawks and (5) everything else).  A new CTA Green Line Station at Cermak Road to serve McCormick Place is being built, which means that even though the arena isn’t necessarily close to Lincoln Park, it would be easily accessible by public transportation for students on the North Side and even easier for people based at DePaul’s expanding South Loop campus.  There is also plenty of parking structures already in place for people that want to drive.  It’s not as desirable as having a Lincoln Park location, but considering the practical issues of cost and transportation, this is the most viable option for a DePaul arena within the city limits that we have ever seen.

Also, I can see Rahm’s reasoning for pushing this plan from an urban planning perspective.  As someone that lived in Chinatown for a time (which is one mile directly west of McCormick Place straight down Cermak Road), there’s definitely a major gap in commercial development (or at least conventioneer/tourist-friendly commercial development) in the blocks between the Chinatown Red Line station and the convention center complex.  Considering that McCormick Place is arguably the largest single draw for business visitors to Chicago (who have expense accounts to spend), there is decidedly very little in the way of restaurants and bars in that area.  A new arena can be a catalyst for more development in a spot that definitely needs it along with connecting the McCormick Place area to the more developed Chinatown to the west and the rest of the South Loop that is already gentrified to the north.  Granted, there have been plenty of DePaul arena options that have fallen through over the years, so we’ll proceed with cautious optimism here.

(3) BlogPoll Ballot

My main disagreements with the overall poll is that I believe that LSU, Notre Dame (out of all teams) and Northwestern are underrated, while the winner of the Georgia-South Carolina game this weekend is going to end up overrated.  Also, I will continue to bring the love for Louisiana Tech as long as they keep winning.  That’s a legit BCS buster.

(4) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

WISCONSIN (-14) over Illinois – I’m counting down the days to basketball season at this point.  It’s getting ugly for the Illini.

Miami (+14) over Notre Dame (game at Soldier Field in Chicago) – Despite my belief that Notre Dame is actually underrated in the polls at this point, I don’t think that I’ve agreed with a single Vegas line for the Irish all year.  Miami isn’t nearly the pushover that it looked like they could have been after getting waxed by Kansas State.

Georgia (+1) over SOUTH CAROLINA – I think both of these teams are a bit overrated from the glow of the top of the SEC, but I have more faith in Georgia this year.

(5) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

RAMS (+2.5) over Cardinals – Arizona is worse than their record and, as I said last week, St. Louis is better than their record.

REDSKINS (+3) over Falcons – I don’t quite know what to make of the Redskins so far this season, but RGIII certainly makes them interesting.

JAGUARS (+5) over Bears – The Bears should be winning this game, but this is the type of matchup that always puts us fans on edge.  We were at least able to count on Bad Romo rearing his head this past Monday night.

(6) Classic Music Video of the Week – “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

If the Mo Money Mo Problems video was a late-1990s time capsule, then this classic from Whitesnake is everything that a late-1980s trash rock video should feature: lots of hair, lots of guitars, and lots of a pre-husband abuse/Celebrity Rehab Tawny Kitaen.  Of course, this song is also a favorite of my namesake Frank the Tank.

Enjoy the games!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

Federal Agents Mad ‘Cause I’m Flagrant: Seventh BCS Bowl, BlogPoll Ballot, Parlay Picks and Classic Music Video of the Week

To take our minds off of NFL replacement refs (and even as a Bears fan that loathes the Packers with every fiber of my being, I can’t take joy in such an abominable outcome from Monday night’s game), let’s move onto some other news:

(1) Seventh BCS Bowl: Progress for the Little Guys or More Consolidation of Power for the Big Guys? – The powers that be of college football are reportedly going to add a seventh bowl to the top tier of games (widely presumed to consist of the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Chick-Fil-A Bowls) that will be a part of the new playoff rotation and host the highest ranked champion of the “non-contract” conferences (the Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and MAC). Dennis Dodd of is reporting that industry sources believe that this new seventh bowl will make approximately $20 million per year in TV money. For the sake of comparison, the Rose Bowl will be receiving $80 million per year and the Please Choose a Freaking Site Already So I Can Stop Calling This the Champions Bowl will likely receive the same.

Whether this new seventh bowl is a good deal for what Dodd calls the “Gang of Five” depends upon what starting point you’re comparing it to. This sounds like progress compared to the prospect of simply a merit-based selection process to the “Access Bowls” that will have at-large slots in the new college football postseason (where the Gang of Five could have been frequently completely shut out of any top tier bowl games). However, it’s worse than the current BCS system for that same group since this is effectively consolidating what has been two separate bowl bids (the Big East champ AQ bid and the top 12 non-AQ conference champ auto bid) into one bowl bid. Dodd’s report also suggests that the Gang of Five champ will be locked into this seventh bowl game (hereinafter referred to as the “Gang of Five Bowl”) as opposed to being rotated around among the other Access Bowls, which means that that power conferences can still take up most (if not all) of the slots in those other games. Essentially, the Gang of Five Bowl looks like a mini-Contract Bowl that will need to find another tie-in instead of selecting from the Access Bowl pool, only that it still will be part of the semifinal rotation. (Dodd suggests that a third or fourth place team from a power conference could be interested in that tie-in, while an AP report says that either the Big 12 or Pac-12 could end up sending a team to this game.)

On paper, the Big East ought to be winning this Gang of Five bowl slot in most seasons, but it’s still quite a fall from a money perspective if Dodd’s financial figures are correct. Currently, the Big East is receiving at least $17 million per year for having an AQ bid in today’s BCS system, which is a figure that will almost certainly go down for the conference if the new Gang of Five Bowl is worth $20 million (as that revenue will need to be split up between the Gang of Five conferences and whichever other conference signs a tie-in). However unlikely it might be that Gang of Five school ends up finishing ranked higher than the Big East champ in the future, it’s still not an iron-clad that the Big East has now (or what the other power conferences continue to have). Once again, this scenario is better than the Armageddon situations facing the Big East a week or two ago, but still a downgrade from the current BCS system for them. We could arguably say the same thing about all of the other Gang of Five conferences. Nearly a year ago, when the playoff was still a dream and the talk was merely about “removing AQ status”, I wrote that it was a matter of semantics and the practical effect would be that the Big East and non-AQ conferences were actually going to be the ones being screwed. For the leagues outside of the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC, the destruction of the BCS system was a “be careful for what you wish for” event and now everyone sees why.

(2) BlogPoll Ballot

It continues to be ugly for the Big Ten in terms of elite teams. This might be Northwestern’s time to shine with a 1995-esque run to the Rose Bowl.

(3) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

WASHINGTON (+6.5) over Stanford – There’s some weird juju going on in Seattle this week. I’ll take the points for the home team in the land of rain and caffeine.

Penn State (PK) over ILLINOIS – I’ve seen many debilitating Illini losses like the one that occurred this past Saturday night against Louisiana Tech over the past 15 years. The most frequent response from the team in that type of situation is to head into a complete tailspin for the rest of the season. Both Ron Turner and Ron Zook could never, ever, ever limit the collateral damage of a bad loss to just a single game, so the deck is stacked against Tim Beckman here. Of course, the postseason ineligibility of Penn State and Ohio State is setting up the Big Ten Leaders Division to have Illinois-Indiana on October 27th become a critical matchup for the conference championship. My apologies in advance to the rest of the college football world.

Ohio State (+3) over MICHIGAN STATE – The Buckeyes are really the only team that could possibly be a factor nationally for the Big Ten at this point… except that they aren’t allowed to win anything. It’s unfortunate for the conference since I believe that Urban Meyer is everything as advertised as a coach.

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Browns (+12.5) over RAVENS – Maybe it’s just me, but this feels like a patented Admiral Ackbar “It’s a trap!!!” game for Baltimore.

RAMS (+3) over Seahawks – Rams are much better competitively than their scores would indicate and, if there’s any justice in the world, there are going to be some karmic repercussions to Seattle here.

Bears (+3) over COWBOYS – I’d feel much better about this game if it was being played at Soldier Field, but it still comes down to a tale of two bad offensive lines and which defense can take the most advantage (and I sincerely believe that the Bears have the edge there).

(5) Classic Music Video of the Week: Mo Money Mo Problems by The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Mase and Puff Daddy

This is one of my favorite songs of any genre of all-time with a video that’s a fantastic time capsule of the late-1990s with its Tiger Woods-Fuzzy Zoeller reference in the intro, shiny jumpsuits and a posthumous appearance by the late Biggie Smalls. Speaking of which, if you ever have a couple of hours to kill on Netflix, you could do worse than checking out Nick Broomfield’s 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac that sets forth the evidence that former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight was responsible for the deaths of both Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Broomfield essentially looks and sounds like someone that you would expect to see on BBC World News, so it was quite a scene when he challenges Suge face-to-face in a prison courtyard (which was a sequence that the cameraman was apparently too scared to film, so he kept shooting the sky). Hopefully, the Illini won’t play the same type game that they did last week or else I might be flipping this documentary on pretty quickly.

Enjoy all of the games (and may the White Sox hang on for dear life)!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

I Once Got Busy in a Burger King Bathroom: B1G Orange Bowl News, BlogPoll Ballot, Parlay Picks and Classic Music Video of the Week

Between the Bears and Illini, the respective quarterbacks of my teams have thrown a total of 8 interceptions over the past 6 days.  I’m not in a state of mind to make jokes about this right now, so let’s move on:

(1) Orange Bowl Tie-ins with Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame – Lost in the shuffle of Wednesday’s massive news of Notre Dame joining the ACC as a partial member was this quote from Jack Swarbrick:

That’s a pretty significant development in the otherwise trickle of substantive news regarding the new postseason system since the powers that be agreed upon a playoff format.  The new ACC/Notre Dame partnership reportedly allows for Notre Dame to take an ACC tie-in for bowls other than the Orange Bowl (provided that Notre Dame is within 1 win of the ACC team that it’s replacing).  The Orange Bowl itself, though, is an ironclad tie-in for the ACC with the opponent now apparently coming from a pool of Notre Dame, the Big Ten and SEC.  Seeing that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are far from shrinking violets, I’d expect them to be negotiating the following parameters:

(a) The Rose, Champions and Orange Bowls will rotate semifinals in a manner where none of them will ever host the semis in the same year. (This is likely more of a demand from ESPN than from the conferences.)

(b) When the Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal, Big Ten #1* goes to the Orange Bowl.

(c) When the Champions Bowl is hosting a semifinal, SEC #1 goes to the Orange Bowl.

(d) If Notre Dame is ranked higher than Big Ten #1 or SEC #1, as applicable, then the Irish go to Orange Bowl instead, except that Notre Dame may only replace each of the Big Ten and SEC once in a 6-year cycle.

(* This should go without saying, but the #1 pick means the top selection from the conference that isn’t playing in the semifinals.)

The upshot of this would be that ACC #1 will be playing either Big Ten #1, SEC #1 or a highly-ranked Notre Dame team in the Orange Bowl in any given year, which will likely yield a media rights payout for the ACC that will be in line with what the Big Ten and Pac-12 are receiving for the Rose Bowl and the SEC and Big 12 are receiving for the Champions Bowl.  Thus, any chicken little beliefs that the ACC is going to end up playing subpar opponents in the Orange Bowl are going to go by the wayside.  For the other side of the Orange Bowl, in a 6-year cycle, Notre Dame would be capped at 2 appearances while both the Big Ten and SEC are guaranteed 1 invite each under this arrangement.  This would meet Notre Dame’s goal of having a strong relationship with a top bowl while having the flexibility to go to other “Access Bowls”.  In the meantime, the Big Ten and SEC effectively have backup tie-ins for their #1 selections, which means that those conferences are going to be swimming like Scrooge McDuck in a vault full of new postseason money.  If the above scenario occurs, this is looking like a great deal for everyone involved.

(2) BlogPoll Ballot

Nothing too crazy here except that I dropped Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State like bad habits.  Last week was pretty ugly for the Big Ten.  The conference is going to need Michigan State to come through against Notre Dame.  Speaking of which…

(3) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

MICHIGAN STATE (-6) over Notre Dame – Michigan State along with bowl ineligible Ohio State are probably the only 2 Big Ten teams worthy of cracking the top 10 in the rankings this year based on the early returns.  Weird stuff typically happens in favor of Sparty whenever they play the Irish in a home night game.

MISSOURI (-4) over Arizona State – Arizona State rolled up a lot of points last week, but let’s face it, that was against an Illinois team without a functioning quarterback.

BYU (-3.5) over UTAH – I’m sure Utah is going to be pretty focused for this rivalry game after last week’s debacle, but I don’t think it will be enough.

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

PACKERS (-150 total yards) over Bears – GAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!

Raiders (-1) over DOLPHINS – The ’72 Dolphins might have to pop champagne for Miami’s first win this season.

SEAHAWKS (+3) over Cowboys – Coming off of a huge division win, this is exactly the type of game that Tony Romo loses.

Ravens (+1) over EAGLES – I know that you can’t take too much away from the first week of the season (as evidenced by the Bears and Packers), but I have a hard time passing up taking points with Baltimore.

(5) Classic Music Video of the Week: “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground

All that I’ll say about this song is that I know these lyrics as well as I know the Pledge of Allegiance:

Enjoy the weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

Someday Love Will Find You: The Longhorn Network, BlogPoll Ballot, Parlay Picks and Classic Music Video of the Week

There’s a post-Labor Day rush of thoughts on football of all stripes and types.  Let’s get to it:

(1) Longhorn Network Carriage – Anyone that has followed conference realignment over the past couple of years understands the importance of the ESPN-owned Longhorn Network.  In my opinion, it’s the single greatest factor that is keeping Texas in the Big 12, and in turn, Texas has the ability to cause a greatest earthquake out of any school on the college sports landscape (even more than Notre Dame) if it ever chooses to move.  Therefore, it’s key to keep an eye on Longhorn Network carriage in the State of Texas and its environs.

Last week, the Longhorn Network finally signed up AT&T U-Verse as its first of what would considered to be “major” cable carriers after a year of being on the air.  From those who recollect the carriage disputes in the Midwest when the Big Ten Network was formed, it took about a year for the top cable carriers such as Comcast to add the channel (with the one major difference being that DirecTV had the BTN from day one).  Getting AT&T on board is an important step for the LHN, but there’s still a lot work to be done in order to get the network onto what I would consider to be the most critical ones for its long-term survival: Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV.  With each week that goes by during the football season, the leverage that ESPN has in negotiating with carriers diminishes.  If ESPN can’t strike more deals by the time that the LHN airs its next football game, the chances of anything else occurring before next football season drop precipitously, which is where the long-term viability of the LHN starts truly coming into question.

My impression is that ESPN’s asking price for LHN is too high for the market to bear, but the problem is that the asking price is effectively what ESPN has to have in order to make only a minimal amount of profit (or even just to break even) after taking away all of the expenses of running the network.  If ESPN lowered the asking price much further, then it would be locking in long-term losses that would send Mickey Mouse and his shareholders into a bloody rage.  As a result, ESPN is likely going to have to go back to Texas to renegotiate its rights fees if these carriage disputes continue much further.  While Texas could theoretically sit back and tell ESPN, “F**k you, pay me” (which is effectively what the Longhorn Network contract states), the LHN is still an extension of the program’s brand even if it technically doesn’t own the channel.  The university ultimately doesn’t want irate alums and donors calling every week about why the LHN isn’t on their cable systems (as many of them actually mistkanely believe that the school owns the channel as opposed to ESPN), so it behooves the school to bend on rights payments if it can translate into greater carriage down the road.  Plus, if you look at the linked LHN contract, the real potential financial windfall for Texas comes from when the LHN hits profitability targets and a lucrative revenue sharing arrangement kicks in.  That windfall is realistically only possible if the LHN gets broad distribution across the State of Texas.

(2) BlogPoll Ballot

The clear lesson of the first week of the college football season is that Alabama is a holy terror of a scary team.  It looks like Alabama-LSU in November will be yet another national championship elimination game that might not end up being an elimination game.

Note that I got onto this week’s BlogPoll “Straight Bangin’ Award”  list for those biased against their favorite schools since there were actually some poor souls out there that put Illinois on their ballots.

(3) College Football Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Purdue (+14.5) over NOTRE DAME – The Boilermakers are going to sneak up on some teams this year.

Nebraska (-5) over UCLA – I have a feeling that enough Husker fans are going to head out to Pasadena to make this a fairly hospitable atmosphere for the road team.

Illinois (+4) over ARIZONA STATE – The Illini offense (particularly the offensive line) was pretty shaky last week, but the defense is impressive and can keep this game close.

(4) NFL Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Bills (+2.5) over JETS – Unfortunately, I think the Tebow Starter Watch is going to begin immediately.

PACKERS (-4.5) over 49ers – There’s a lot of interesting analysis out there suggesting that the 49ers are going to come back to Earth this season and I’m starting to buy it.  As a Bears fan, I have seen the great defense/untrustworthy quarterback combo rear its head for most of my lifetime and can easily see a drop off for the 49ers similar to what Chicago experienced from 2001 to 2002 and 2006 to 2007.

Colts (+9.5) over BEARS – I’m not that concerned that the Bears are going to lose this game outright, but as long as the team’s offensive line has more holes than the Soldier Field sod, there are going to be a lot of close calls.

(5) Classic Music Video of the Week: “Separate Ways” by Journey

Back in 2005, my Chicago White Sox adopted “Don’t Stop Believin'” as a corny theme song for the season and rode all the way to a World Series Championship (the first that either Chicago baseball franchise had seen since 1917).  Journey front man and self-described San Francisco Giants fan Steve Perry had enough time on his hands to show up to both the White Sox World Series clincher in Houston and the team’s ticker tape parade despite having no previous connection to the team.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” has enjoyed a fairly stunning renaissance since that time that was supercharged by its prominence in the closing moment in The Sopranos finale* and then the pilot episode of the shrill Glee.  It is now the most downloaded song of all time and has been ensconced in the top 100 list on iTunes every week for several years (which is remarkable for a 30 year old song).

(* If you haven’t already spent a couple of hours going through the legendary “Definitive Explanation” and second-by-second analysis of the final scene of The Sopranos, it’s well worth the time.)

One would think that this would be Journey’s greatest achievement, but the reality is that it’s not even close.  Please see the following:

It always slays me that Steve Perry and company are dead serious in this video.  There’s not a hint of irony or self-deprecation (or self-awareness, for that matter).  This is nothing less than the Citizen Kane of all music videos (or Vertigo, if you prefer).

Enjoy a wall-to-wall football weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

I Can’t Remember What Was Said or What You Threw at Me: Frank the Tank’s Week 1 BlogPoll Ballot, Parlay Picks and Classic Music Video of the Week

With the return of college football on Thursday night, here’s the season premiere of the weekly post combining my SBNation BlogPoll ballot, parlay picks for 3 games each for college and the NFL (including every Illinois and Bears game) and a classic music video (heavily tilted toward old school rap, ’80s trash rock and ’90s one-hit wonders as always).  Let’s get to it:

(1) BlogPoll Ballot

Nothing too crazy here, as evidenced by the fact that I ranked #2 out of more than 100 voters in the “Mr. Dumb Existence” category for having a low standard deviation between my personal ballot and the overall poll.  I feel pretty good that any of the top 5 can make it to the national championship game (look at Florida State’s schedule and tell me that they can’t run the table there) while it’s more of a crapshoot afterwards.

(2) Parlay Picks (odds from Yahoo! and home teams in CAPS)

Navy (+15.5) over Notre Dame (in the land of Guiness) – These schools will be completely out of their element overseas, which means that this is way too large of a spread for my tastes.

Western Michigan (+10) over ILLINOIS – I don’t know what it is, but Illinois always sleepwalks against the Broncos.  Being a Chicago and Illini sports fan, I’ve accumulated a lot of rooting scar tissue over the years and the Illinois loss to WMU at Ford Field in 2008 is up there in terms of sheer horror.  I’ll be down in Champaign with my wife and twins for this one, so I hope I’m wrong here.

AUBURN (+3.5) over Clemson – Clemson has a habit of burning gamblers in high profile openers.  I’d take a solid SEC home team and the points.

(3) Classic Music Video of the Week: “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit

This song from my college days has held up fairly well over the years, but its video in particular has held a special place in my heart since the main feature of the town that I grew up in (Glenwood, Illinois) was its old school bowling alley that circulated the same nicotine-tinged air from the 1950s through its closing in 2008.  R.I.P., Glenwood Bowl.

Enjoy the sweet smell of a brand new football season and your Labor Day weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

Longhorn Network Not Much of a Money Hook and Frank the Tank’s Football Parlay – 10/29/2010

Well, maybe the University of Texas won’t be taking over the world after all.  The Sports Business Journal is reporting that ESPN and Fox are essentially in a dead heat in winning the right to partner with Texas on a new Longhorn television network.  Some interesting details gleaned from the article:

  • It doesn’t appear that Texas is attempting to take back more TV rights to football and basketball games from the national Big 12 contracts, which means they are essentially building this network based upon the rights that they have now: typically one football game per season and a handful of non-conference men’s basketball games.  As a result, the network will have a heavy reliance on non-revenue sports, pre/postgame programming and coaches’ shows.
  • Texas actually won’t have any equity stake in the network.  Whoever is the winning bidder will own 100% of the network and then pay a rights fee to Texas that the school expects to be approximately $3 million per year.  This is similar to the deal that the Mountain West has with Comcast for the mtn.  The Big Ten, in contrast, has 51% ownership of the Big Ten Network and pays out twice as much as the Texas estimate to every single one of its schools (approximately $6 million per year per school).

Honestly, it’s a bit underwhelming and definitely not going to have the impact that a lot of people predicted.   If Texas doesn’t try to take more football and men’s basketball games in-house, then the network will really have no impact on the Big 12’s national TV contract position (beyond the impending losses of Nebraska, Colorado and a title game).  The Longhorn network is really just Texas attempting to monetize the TV rights that it already owns as opposed to taking any additional inventory away from the other Big 12 schools.

The fact that Texas won’t have any equity stake in its network is also fairly surprising.  Granted, this virtually eliminates any downside risk for the school, but it also caps the upside where it won’t benefit from rising subscriber fees and advertising revenue in the same manner as the Big Ten Network.  A number of Texas alums have told me that the school had started spending on TV network infrastructure, so I’m puzzled by how there’s no equity involved.

Finally, the revenue figures are not real game changers at all, as it’s nowhere near what the Big Ten Network provides all of its schools in an equal revenue sharing system.  Considering that Fox Sports Net recently agreed to pay the Texas Rangers around $80 million per year (effectively a massive Godfather offer in order to prevent the MLB franchise from starting its own competing network and note that this was signed before the Rangers’ World Series run), I would’ve thought that a Longhorn network would make quite a bit more than $3 million per year, especially when it seemed to be such a point of public consternation for other Big 12 schools.

In fact, if the value of the Longhorn network is really going to be only $3 million per year, then it’s obvious to me that this network had absolutely nothing to do with (1) the near-collapse of the Big 12, (2) the ultimate rejection by Texas of the Pac-16 proposal or (3) Texas refusing to consider to join the equal revenue sharing leagues of the Big Ten and SEC, both of which would’ve paid a heck of a lot more with a lot less heartburn.  As dysfunctional as the Big 12 was and still is, an entire league was not going to break up over a $3 million TV package.  I highly doubt that either Texas or the Pac-10 killed the Pac-16 deal over this amount of money, either.  As I’ve also said many times before, if Texas really wanted to maximize its TV revenues, then it would’ve just joined either the Big Ten or SEC, and the relative low amount of revenue coming from the Longhorn network proves this point.

At the end of the day, the ownership structure of this network and financial figures point to the powers-that-be at Texas simply wanting the Big 12 to live.  Maybe it was fear of the wrath of Texas-state politicians.  Maybe it was the real threat of Texas A&M heading off to the SEC.  (Look at this comment from last December from knowledgeable UT alum reader Longhorn Lawyer and the last 3 paragraphs outlining the school’s position about A&M going to the SEC – it’s fairly instructive, especially considering it was made loooong before the Pac-16 proposal was even dreamed up.)  Maybe the Texas dream really has been being able to control something to the effect of an SWC plus Oklahoma league.  Whatever it is, the relatively low revenue stream for the Longhorn network means that the Texas decision for staying in the Big 12 goes beyond financial issues and that the school’s end goal is definitely not independence.


Work obligations prevented me from getting my BlogPoll ballot in on time this week, so we just have some quick picks today (home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!)


  • Purdue (+17) over ILLINOIS
  • NOTRE DAME (-8.5) over Tulsa
  • Michigan State (+6.5) over IOWA 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Illini Games for the Season: 4-2
Overall Season: 9-14-1


  • Jaguars (+6) over COWBOYS
  • RAMS (-3) over Panthers
  • Steelers (+1) over SAINTS

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-4
Overall Season: 11-10

Have a great Halloween weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

(Image from

Mad About Mad Men, Frank the Tank’s BlogPoll Week 8 Ballot, Football Parlay and Open Thread – 10/21/2010

NOTE: The first part of this post contains spoilers for the Mad Men Season 4 finale, so if you still need to watch it or, alternatively, don’t care about the show, please skip down to the bottom of the post with this week’s picks.

Before we get to this week’s picks, I had to throw down some Mad Men thoughts since my head is still spinning after that season finale.  Putting aside the fact that Joan didn’t go through with the abortion of her baby with Roger and Betty’s Christine O’Donnell-esque firing of Carla, the stunner was obviously Don sudden marriage proposal to Megan after basically only spending a couple of days together and dumping Faye in the process.  I initially had a visceral negative reaction to that development, not because it has anything to do with Don’s actual choice (which I’ll go into great detail in a moment), but it just didn’t seem to flow in a series that’s been built upon long character arcs before having dramatic payoffs.  (See the interaction between Peggy and Joan after Don announces his engagement as the ultimate example of a scene that was years in the making.)

After thinking about it for awhile, though, the episode has grown on me and, ultimately, the sudden engagement really does fit into Don Draper’s (or Dick Whitman’s) character.  There was a scene earlier this season where Don described his process to creating great ad campaigns – he bangs his head against the wall again and again until something suddenly clicks.  His entire life has been based on decisions where he acts upon the proverbial light bulb going off in his head, whether it’s generating a slogan, buying the New York Times ad in last week’s episode or choosing to marry someone that seems to be perfect on the surface.  In that sense, spending a few nights with his Maria Von Trapp clone secretary and then proposing is right in line with Don’s normal thought process.

One school of thought on Don’s choice of Megan over Faye that seems to be popular with Mad Men fans is that Don is both running from his past (yet again) and he can’t handle someone that’s his equal.  The argument there is that Faye wasn’t going to let Don get away from confronting his Dick Whitman life head-on and her professional stature, if not intimidating, certainly would mean that she wouldn’t be a Stepford wife in the suburbs.

I actually have a very different view on this – it felt to me like Don is actually at peace with his Don/Dick identity issues for the first time (which in part made Faye’s role as quasi-therapist not as relevant anymore).  Don hasn’t told Megan about his Dick Whitman past like he did with Faye, but at least in how everything was presented, I don’t think that (a) Don will necessarily hide that information from Megan and (b) Megan would care about it if/when she finds that out.  Frankly, Don has spent this entire season confronting his past – what he needed to do was to move on. 

Anna posthumously giving Don her engagement ring was effectively blessing him to move forward.  Of course, I didn’t think he’d use that ring that quickly.  Faye’s prediction from the second episode of the season that Don would be married within a year ended up being extremely dead-on, only the problem for her is that she won’t be the recipient.  Now, it appears that the majority of Mad Men fans believed that Faye was the “right” woman for Don as a highly educated and professional woman that could dig deep into his tricked-out psyche.  However, Faye was looking to tackle and fix Don’s Dick Whitman issues (with her comment at the beginning of the episode that he needed to get his head out of the sand with the past), where what Don was looking for was a way to move on as described above.

This gets us to Megan.  Maybe it’s because I’ve turned into a sappy bowl of Jell-O after my first year of fatherhood, but I knew that Megan would end up with Don the moment that she picked up Sally off the office floor several episodes ago.  It turned out that Faye was absolutely having an “audition” when she spent time with Sally and proved to be not only merely uncomfortable around kids, but so painfully and comically awful with them that she openly admitted it to him.  Let’s face it – when your ex-wife is a prime candidate to go after your family with a Sharon Stone ice pick and your 10-year old daughter is seeing a childhood shrink largely because of it, not being good with kids is ultimately going to be a relationship deal-breaker no matter how much outsiders might think you need to be with a strongly independent and challenging partner.  To me, that was a pretty simple choice and very understandable for Don – as a father of 15-month old twins, I honestly wouldn’t be able to go on with a Faye-type if I were in his shoes.

Faye’s shortcomings in that area were exacerbated by Megan’s easy-going French-speaking natural manner with children.  The milkshake spilling scene was an instantly iconic moment of the series, where Don and the kids were shell shocked that Megan didn’t have a Betty-type explosion and calmly wiped everything up.  It was as if though the Draper family was so conditioned to instant shrieking in response to any small mistake or indiscretion that they didn’t realize that you could actually approach a problem in a civilized manner.  Don isn’t ever going to be a Father of the Year, but he ultimately cares about his kids greatly (and said so at several points this season, including to Faye in the workplace kitchen scene in the second episode), and I think the milkshake spilling moment was what sealed the deal with him and Megan.

Let’s also not forget that Don himself has never had a mother figure and his relationship with his father was short, abusive and tragic, so he has his own parental needs.  Faye was fantastic at assessing Don’s issues – pegging his need to get married from the get-go and telling him that he “only likes the beginnings of things” in their break-up phone call – but there wasn’t ever any empathy from her, which is what he has never received in his entire his life (as shown in his broken childhood and marriage with Betty) with the exception of Anna.

Ken mentioned in this episode that he keeps his personal life separate from his professional life, alluding to what we call a “balanced” lifestyle today.  Well, Megan is the personification of “balance” to Don – spectacular with children (unlike Betty), young and beautiful but with a self-recognized physical flaw with her teeth that humanizes her (also unlike Betty, whose standard, as noted at the end of this episode, will always be “perfection”), and educated enough to understand Don’s work even better than some of his peers (as only she and Peggy understood the New York Times ad was about “I dumped her/she didn’t dump me”) yet being deferential in a way that she wouldn’t upstage Don (unlike Faye).  In Don’s mind, Megan = Anna + romance.  At least that’s how Megan has been portrayed up to this point, which is part of the mystery.  Based on what we know, Megan was the right choice for Don compared to Faye, but the catch is that there’s probably a whole lot we don’t know about Megan.  As Roger hilariously asked after Don’s announcement, “Who the hell is that?!”  The audience is asking the same thing and I’m sure that’s a topic that’s going to be explored deeply next season.

There were three positive signs about Don that left me feeling hopeful that this would all work out (even though happiness is a feeling that doesn’t last very long on this show).  First, he answered Sally’s question about who was Dick in California about as honestly he could to two young kids on vacation to Disneyland.  There are other times and places where Don could fully explain his Dick Whitman background without having his kids emotionally crushed every time that they saw Mickey Mouse for the rest of their lives.  Second, Don immediately recanted his story to Megan that Anna’s ring was a family heirloom and explained that it was from a person very close to him.  Third, it was very clear that Don was upfront with Megan about his relationship with Faye, as Megan was the one that prodded him to tell Faye about the engagement news and that it wouldn’t get any easier by waiting.  Those were three instances where Don would’ve flat-out lied not too long ago, so this indicated that he has indeed grown as an adult over this past season.  Can he keep it up or is he going to end up reverting back to the serial philanderer next year?

My gut feeling is that the show is probably going to move away from Don’s personal issues next season and focus much more on the women: Megan’s background and flaws (if there are any), Joan dealing with motherhood (with or without her doltish husband that’s in Vietnam), Peggy continuing to deal with a world that still rewards women getting the MRS degree more than concrete professional accomplishments, Sally adjusting to a new home and stepmother, and, probably most importantly, Betty confronting the prospect of another marriage going down in shambles and witnessing her kids grow way more attached to Megan than her.

Mad Men has such compelling character development that I could write a whole lot more words on just the Don/Megan/Faye dynamic (much less the others on the show), but let’s move onto this week’s picks before this turns into a 10,000 word book (with home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!):


  • UCLA Bruins (+26) over OREGON – Oregon has to slow down, right?  This could set up as a dangerous “look-ahead” game, as well, with the Ducks playing USC next week.
  • ILLINOIS (-13.5) over Indiana – I’ll be taking the twins to their first football game on Homecoming Weekend in Champaign.  The Illini really aren’t half bad.  I can’t say the same about the Hoosiers.
  • LOUISVILLE (-1) over Connecticut – Louisville should’ve covered last week at home against a better Cincinnati team.  I think they’re winning outright on Saturday. 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 3-2
Overall Season: 7-13-1


  • BEARS (-2.5) over Redskins – Ugh.  This is going to be a fugly game.  I do think the Bears are going to be able to move the ball against this Washington defense, so they should benefit from that in combination with the home field.
  • FALCONS (-3) over Bengals – If I were assigning confidence points to these picks, this is the one I feel most strongly about.  So, expect the Bengals to run away with a 30-point upset win.
  • Giants (+3.5) over COWBOYS – I haven’t been very consistently right on many things this season, but one thing that I do feel comfortable about is always taking the points against Dallas.  That team is truly terrible.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-3
Overall Season: 9-9

Once again, feel free to use this post as an open thread for the weekend’s games and non-expansion college sports news.  If you want to talk about conference realignment in general, please continue the discussion on the Through the Wire post.  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)