Sullivan's Thoughts & Prayers: After Week 9

Sullivan's Thoughts & Prayers: After Week 9

Crowley Sullivan

Sullivan's Thoughts & Prayers: After Week 9

Apr 9, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher yells from the field during the Florida State spring game at the Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 9, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher yells from the field during the Florida State spring game at the Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Crowley Sullivan is a 20-year sports-media veteran having spent ten years at ESPN as a producer, programmer, content creator, business developer, and brand manager.  He now serves a EVP, Planning/GM, Sports for MandtVR, a content creation platform that emphasizes Virtual Reality initiatives.

Bother Crowley at @CrowleySullivan

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Thoughts & Prayers After Week 9


People really like to rank things.

Ranking things is fun and cool no matter what’s being ranked.

Just ask these guys at Championship Vinyl:

The thing about rankings is that nobody ever agrees with whoever comes up with the rankings.

Everyone loves to talk about how they’d be so much better at ranking the Top 5 Uniform Styles of the Houston Astros (the early-to-mid 1980s jerseys are #1, of course).

Everyone is certain that they know what’s wrong with the ranking approaches, formulas, systems, and justifications.

I’m not one of these people.

When OSHA annually gathers to rank the Top 10 Safest Places To Work in the United States and they release their rankings, I tend to say, “Those OSHA guys probably know more about safety in the work place than I do and I’m willing to accept their rankings even though they decided to include a former Secretary of State in this year’s voting…”

The College Football Playoff Committee has become one of the nation’s most popular punching bags.

Because, after all, plumbers and stockbrokers know way, way, way more about college football and the best ways to rank those teams than people who have, for the most part, spent their lives and careers, you know, in college football.

It’s the bankers and the software salesmen out there who should really be charged with determining the best teams in college football.

The arguing and Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking has become as big a part of college football as Notre Dame never living up to its pre-season ranking.  And this is great for college football (the Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking, that is – although the Notre Dame never living up to its pre-season rankings is pretty great, too).

College Football Playoff Committee – thank you for putting together your initial rankings.

The fact that you’re completely wrong about having Texas A&M ahead of Washington for reasons nobody will ever understand will not get in the way of the fun you’re providing.

I’m looking forward to each week’s rankings.

I’m also looking forward to each week’s debates that introduce us all to the real geniuses of the sport – the talking heads, the ink-stained geniuses who continue to believe that newspapers matter while finding as many ways as possible to patronize computer machines, the bar flies, the gamblers who are the real geniuses, and, of course, the guy in the office who now thinks that Alabama won the national championship and is confused because he sort of knows that the season still has a bunch of games left.

Going forward, I’ll reveal my own rankings – and they’ll consist of seven teams since I have my own playoff format that features seven teams and is the best format ever developed.

At some point, I’ll share with the readers of this column how my playoff works and why my championship game would be called The Bowl.

For now, though, the important thing is the rankings.

But first, some good, old fashioned thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be…


Seems like any time Dabo is on the verge of going “poof,” he manages to find the guts and guile to keep the dream alive.

On an electric night before an electric crowd, Dabo claimed another victim.

Deshaun Watson overcame a throw that made him look human and the Tigers are looking at another College Football Playoff if they can keep their eyes on the road.

On a recent plane ride, I sat next to a fellow wearing a Clemson hat, a Clemson sweatshirt, Clemson shorts, and a Clemson wristwatch.

After managing to keep from discussing Clemson with this fellow passenger for the full three and a half hours, I made the quick (and regrettable) decision to pay respect to Clemson’s football program to the man.

Almost an hour later, while in the taxi cab line and after a full walk through the terminal after waiting for the plane to get to the gate and after sitting at the gate while we all waited for the bridge thing to get hooked up to the door of the plane and after we all sat in our rows while we waited for people to act like they had never in their life had to get off of an airplane, I knew everything about Dabo’s next three recruiting classes, everything about Dabo’s commitment to the student athletes, everything about Dabo’s faith in the Lord, everything about Dabo’s approach to hydration principles during practices and games, everything about Dabo’s family lineage, everything about the trainer on Dabo’s staff and his recent bout with influenza, everything about Dabo’s respect for Howard’s Rock, everything about the potential problems with the secondary against Boom Muschamp, and everything about the entire makeup of this man’s weekly tailgate structure and offerings.

I also had been shown the Clemson tattoo the man has on the back of his left shoulder.


I never got the chance to ask my fellow commuter what he thought of the way Jimbo Fisher addressed some of the issues related to the officiating of the football game.

But before I address the way Jimbo addressed those issues, what about Western Seminary Football’s penchant to be Western Seminary Football?

Despite Dabo and Deshaun grabbing the lead late, Western Seminary managed to get right back in position to win this game.

Jimbo had the ball at Dabo’s 34-yard line with under a minute to play.

All that was needed was a field goal to force overtime – and victory was in reach.

But penalties and a sack pushed Jimbo back a mile and Dabo got out of there with the win.

Jimbo’s student athletes racked up 13 penalties over the course of the game that totaled 111 yards.

One of the infractions was controversial and Jimbo chose to vent frustration in the post-game press conference.

Jimbo used these words to describe the call that negated a long run deep into Dabo territory: “Cowardly, ridiculous, gutless.”

Jimbo now has an overall record of 5-3 and an ACC record of 2-3.

As is the case every season, Western Seminary has among the most talented football players in the nation at every position on the roster.

Jimbo – we understand the frustrations and the call probably wasn’t a great one.

But when you start throwing out “cowardly, ridiculous, and gutless” at the officials, you start to sound like George Steinbrenner posthumously complaining that Staten Island isn’t contributing enough to New York City’s overall GDP and Staten Island citizens are responsible for the current Yankees’ World Series title drought.


Each week, I’m thoroughly entertained by the many pieces of written editorial that appear across the media landscape.

Very important sports writers from very important sports websites like to espouse on the important matters at hand.

I’m one of those important writers, of course.

But, for now, we’ll focus on the other important writers that are far more important.

This week’s “Pick Of The Week” focuses on Texas A&M’s “path to the College Football Playoff.”

The headline reads “Charting Texas A&M’s path to 11-1 and a possible playoff berth.”

The important piece of writing goes on about how strong of a football team Texas A&M is, how they have a real shot at winning the Southwest Conference this season, and how their remaining schedule appears to consist of winnable games.

Then, the piece veers into Hunter S. Thompson-esque theories.

I didn’t count the “things that need to happen” in other areas of college football in order to clear a path for the Aggie Football Corps but I think the amount of “things” is around 96.

Can’t we all just acknowledge that Alabama is going to win the SEC and that no other SEC team is worthy of College Football Playoff consideration?

And since we all know so much more than the people within the College Football Playoff Committee, can’t we just tell them that they’re wrong with this Texas A&M thing and show them that Washington or Ohio State or even Wisconsin all belong ahead of the Aggie Football Corps?


The quote – as has been repeated here in this space – went like this:

“Butch Jones is a championship coach.  The record just hasn’t evened out.”

It was said by the host of The Paul Finebaum Show in August.

I was watching the program when the quote was uttered – and I laughed out loud immediately.

Coach Butch led the Vols to a scintillating start and had a spotless record of 5-0.

Visions of giving Alabama the business danced through everyone’s heads.

Since then, the record has evened out considerably.

Three straight losses after this past Saturday’s toughie against Boom Muschamp.

I never understood why there was such brash confidence in Coach Butch’s squad in August and I suspect many will say that they’re still among the best teams in the nation and that the record just hasn’t evened out.

The problem with “records” is that they “count” and are a fairly good “measuring stick” for a team’s “worth.”

Coach Butch – at this point – is not a championship coach.

When people say that he is, they give people like me the opportunity to suggest that all of the emperors out there have no clothes.

Good luck to Coach Butch the rest of the way.   After all, he’s not the one who said he was a championship coach.

Perhaps he can become a championship coach in the way that Ray Goff was a championship coach.

Speaking of Ray Goff….


Any time any of you folks feel like winning a game here or there, please go right ahead –

Mississippi: record of 3-5

Michigan State: record of 2-6

Georgia: record of 4-4

That’s an aggregate record of something like 9-13 from three football teams that were seen by the experts as “contenders.”

These “experts” are, likely, the same “experts” who have all of the answers and solutions to all of the problems they see in the ways in which the College Football Playoff Committee ranks the teams on a weekly basis.

As for the three teams noted above, perhaps this guy needs to visit Oxford, East Lansing, and Athens:


Nobody wants to say this for fear of being struck by lightning or something but I’ll say it:

The man who serves as the play-by-play announcer of the really big night games that are, for all intents and purposes, the biggest games of each week is not good (at all) at being a play-by-play announcer.

This man is the greatest studio- and live-remote pre-game show broadcaster of all time.

But play-by-play is an entirely different animal in the way that changing a baby’s diaper is different from making a bologna sandwich.

If the football players, coaches, and fans who are all doing superhuman things to make a college football game as exciting as possible is a bother and you’d rather be home watching a movie or something, just go ahead and step aside.

Nobody at your company’s headquarters has the guts to say this but you aren’t a good play-by-play announcer.

You sound bored.

You sound like you really need a nap.

Your smarmy and unfunny schtick with your partner makes the experience of taking in an otherwise amazing college football annoying.

Come on, bud.  Snap out of it.

You’re sitting in a seat that has been occupied by Keith Jackson, Brent Musburger, Al Michaels, Chris Schenkel, Sean McDonough, and many others who all have brought a collegiate joy and an emotional intensity to the broadcast.

I realize that not every possession of a college football game measures up to Kirk Gibson’s 1988 home run off of Eckersley.

But the guys calling all of these moments on the links below – some of which are legendary and some of which are from regular season games that didn’t really matter – all care and love what they’re doing.

These guys are fans of the teams and the sports that they’re broadcasting.

And they don’t give the impression that they’re looking at their watch and wondering how much longer until they get to be back in their hotel room and sip on a glass of red wine.


Nebraska at Ohio State

Buckeye Bravado needs to start to crank up since their final regular season game is shaping up to be a beauty.

Alabama at LSU

Prior to the season, this game loomed large.  It still looms – only it looms in the way the Ali – Wepner fight loomed.

Iowa at Penn State

Penn State comes in at #12.

Is that the ranking for American organizations that are currently dealing with more hundreds of lawsuits?

Arizona at Washington State

I was very bullish on RichRod in the desert.  That shows that I’m just as smart as the plumbers and stockbrokers who know the real and best way to handle the CFP rankings.

And the Pirate is starting to get his groove on in The Palouse.  An Apple Cup showdown is starting to look more and more like a massive football game.

Florida at Arkansas

Quietly, the Florida Gators are working on getting back to being the FORIDA GATORS.  Now they face Boss Hog and his former Las Vegas waitress/current wife.  The Gators will be even closer to being the GATORS by Saturday evening.


  • The Fighting Elephants
  • I never caught the man’s name but as he gave me the very granular details related to all aspects of the progrum, I could smell his chewing tobacco as clearly and cleanly as one smells a beautifully coiffed woman’s perfume.
  • You and your dad took two seats away from actual fans of the Cubs who actually care about the team’s efforts. The Cubs hat that you were wearing was obviously purchased ten minutes before you walked into the ball park (I’m pretty sure I could see the price tag still dangling from the side of the cap).  And when a middle-aged man brings a mitt to a baseball game and wears it while watching the game, it isn’t cute, it isn’t funny, it isn’t charming, and it isn’t endearing.  It’s contrived and pretty stupid.
  • By making the College Football Playoff, perhaps the inaccurate rumors that the head coach is a member of Scientology will cease.
  • Art Schlichter
  • “Laverne & Shirley” was set in Milwaukee, not Madison – but that show and those characters (along with Lenny and Squiggy) are fine representatives of the soul and spirit of the state’s landmark university. And, anyone who earned his or her diploma there between the years of 1968 and 1974 should be proud of the way they helped change the world.
  • Okay, okay – I’ll acknowledge that the Aggie Football Corps warrants the final slot in my seven-team playoff format that culminates with The Bowl.


The experts who have all of the solutions and answers to all of the problems with the College Football Playoff Committee’s rankings aren’t the only experts out there.

There are so many other experts that are a lot like the Wednesday Morning Quarterbacks – and, today, we can refer to those experts as the Thursday Morning Quarterbacks.

These experts are people who have been very loud of late regarding the following:

  • Joe Maddon’s strategic thinking pertaining to the use of Aroldis Chapman.
  • The ability of the Cubs to hit the baseball.

Those experts are, of course, really, really smart.

But here’s the deal –

Maddon knows how to manage his pitchers.

And the Cubs can hit.

Some of the experts are still going on about Maddon’s strategy.  Those experts are like ants at a picnic.

There really isn’t any other way to put it:

The Cubs won the World Series.

For generations, the refrain has been, “Wait ‘til next year.”

Today, Cubs fans are yelling it from the rooftops louder than ever…….

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