Gamer’s Hangover News Report – 07.19.04

News

EA Now Re-releasing Other People’s Sports Games
credit: Gamedaily.com
EA is getting into the Fantasy Football biz. EA Sports Fantasy Football is the new service, “fantasy football as it was meant to be.” The problem is that it REALLY is fantasy football as EA thinks it should be: overpriced. $99.99 for the full-up Commissioner package league with up to 32 teams, customizable rules, rosters, screens, and drafts. The garden variety league, the League Manager, is still $9.99, although you can get the same thing for free through Yahoo. If you really feel the need to check it out, here ya go.

As for the features:

– A weekly Pick Em game! Genius!
– “Volumes” of EA Sports exclusive draft prep information, like the Madden stats for every active player for the last five seasons!
– “Live scoring” which means 15-30 minutes behind reality, just like everyone else!
– League News: “Sorry the servers went down this morning. Hope everybody got to sub Ray Lewis out after his season-ending motorcycle accident!”
– Real-time injury updates. Make your own joke here!
– Customizable Homepage: “Welcome to the National Brent Is A Dork Football League!”
– Message board: For people who truly have no life!

EA gives me a headache, but I buy their stuff anyway. Am I an addict?

First AOL, Now This
credit: Gamedaily.com
In the “weird marketing move of the week” department, Activision announced a multi-year “alliance” (cue Shane McMahon) with Discovery Consumer Products (the product wing of Cory’s fave channel: The Discovery Channel) to “develop and distribute video games based on the popular television series American Chopper.”

Yes, THAT “American Chopper.” The one with the bad-ass dad and the two lumpy sons. The same crew that did those almost bearable AOL commercials round Super Bowl time.

Anyway, they’re talking about PC, console, and handheld games for the license, the first ones expected this Christmas. I really hope that it’s a building type game that actually takes some thought, and not just another damn racing clone.

“American Chopper” is one of the top three rated shows on cable, and has become Discovery Channel’s most popular show (and WHERE is the Trading Spaces video game? I want my Paige/Amy Wynn/Genevieve nude lesbian threesome code, dammit).

“We are very excited about our partnership with the Discovery Consumer Products and the American Chopper series. This agreement underscores Activision’s commitment to develop games based on popular brands with a broad range of appeal. Every week, millions of consumers tune in to find out what it takes to make one of these unique handcrafted motorcycles and the ongoing story about the theme bikes that the Teutuls build,” says Activision General Monkey Dave Oxford.

Discovery C.P.V.P. Sharon Markowitz countered, “We are thrilled to partner with Activision, a leader in the video game industry, and we believe that they are uniquely positioned to translate the American Chopper franchise into a compelling, innovative product line. Activision’s vast experience in video games combined with Discovery’s high quality, real-world content forms an ideal partnership.”

Surely they’ll make something decent of this, won’t they? Activision hasn’t survived this long wasting opportunities. I’m only hoping when Discovery will debut the inevitable Pitfall! reality show.

And Stop Calling Me Sammy
credit: Gamedaily.com

Here you go, kids. Sega/America’s updated release schedule:

Puyo Pop Fever – GameCube, July 20th.
Astro Boy: The Omega Factor – GBA, August 17th.
Astro Boy – PS2, August 17th.
Amazing Island – GameCube, August something.
Headhunter: Redemption – Xbox/PS2, September something.
Blood Will Tell – PS2, September something.
Otagi 2: Immortal Warriors – Xbox, October something.
The Matrix Online – PC, “Fall 2004″.
Sega Superstars – PS2, “Fall 2004″.
Virtua Quest – PS2, “Winter 2004″. (That sound you hear is Bebito Jackson, don’t pay attention, it only encourages him.
Spikeout: Battle Street – Xbox, “Winter 2005″.

I don’t want to nitpick here, but I don’t think a game should make a release schedule unless there’s an actual DATE scheduled. I know that schedules slip sometimes, but have some pride, people!

New Wolfenstein Coming, And Another Game. And That’s It.
credit: Spong.com
Really, that’s the extent of this story. id Software is coming out with a new Castle Wolfenstein title sometime in the next “¦ eon “¦ and they’re also working on another “all-new” game, starting it in earnest as soon as Doom III is out.

Really, that’s it.

DS Game Price Point Slips, Users Wish It Would Fall.
credit: Spong.com
Muumuu (and how I LOVE that name) president Yukihito Morikawa was caught bitching about the expected price point for Nintendo DS games on the Muumuu website.

“I heard from a producer that a few DS projects going on in his company are deadlocked. There are a lot of new things that can be done such as making hand drawn characters fight with each other or transforming a 3D object with the use of the stylus. You can bang with the stylus, dig holes, chip away things…it’s easy to come up with those kinds of small ideas, and the DS is a superb hardware in that sense. But, those kinds of ideas are too small to fit in a 3,800 yen cartridge, which is why developers are deadlocked. It’s difficult to expand on those types of small ideas, in the same way a short story will not become a good novel if you bloat it up with unnecessary ideas.”

3,800 yen translates to about $35 American as of this morning, which is a sight more expensive than most GBA carts. Props to Yuki for being a straight shooter, and for running a company named Muumuu.

Muuuuuuumuuuuuuuuu.

Pimp-Licious

This week “¦ how about “¦ Dances.

Misha – Ethnic “¦ yet British “¦ how about the Rumba?

Yeager square-dances in gym class like we ALL had to do in our time.

Bryan is a slam-dancer at heart, sure. But something tells me he knows more about the Samba than he lets on.

Angeloni needs to learn more of the Waltz than just the box-step.

L.C. does the Pasa Doble exclusively, I’m sure.

Murphy can dance if he wants to. He can leave his friends behind. Because his friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, well, they’re no friends of mine.

Eric S. dances with “¦

Gagnon in his column, and what a nice cha-cha it is, too.

Gamble: Macarena.

Cold-Filtered, Naturally Aged Mail

Make-up e-mails this week. First, a pair from Steven Kowalczyk:

100% agreement with you on ESPN. Their Sunday NFL pregame show used to kick crazy amounts of ass, and then the FOX and CBS shows got popular. Now all you see on ESPN is lame bio pieces on players and all the normally straight-laced announcers are yelling and laughing and talking over each other. It sounds funny, but I don’t want to be entertained with a show like this. Now, if there isn’t a good game or a certain sporting even I want to watch, I don’t even pause on ESPN while flipping channels.

ESPN 2 used to be cool: Yeah, the graphics and attitude sucked, but they’d show minor league baseball, pro indoor lacrosse, arena football, Canadian football, various forms of auto racing, etc. Then it was more mainstream sports, and finally it was just an extra ESPN, with nothing setting it apart from the mothership’. For me it really died when I was watching a tape-delayed CFL playoff game, and in the first 10 minutes the score of that very game rolls by on the news scroll at the bottom of the screen”¦.

ESPN Radio has gotten even worse. Mike & Mike In the Morning, both idiots (And Golic is the biggest retard I have ever heard). Colin Cowheard, the replacement for Tony Kornheiser sucks ass as well. The Dan Patrick show is pretty good, good interviews and decent conversations between the guests. The Sports Bash’, formerly The Sports Brothers, is pretty crappy most of the time as well. Game Night is always OK because the guys just talk about the games that night in between guests. Tony Kornheiser was OK, because in between screaming about crap he would have awesome interviews with the great guests he is able to get, which are the only saving graces for most of the other shows. Cowheard and The Sports Bash are run by radio guys’, who do all the little tricks they teach in broadcasting school: Whenever you hear “this is the part of the show where we like to”¦” and they have names and themes for the days of the week, you know the show sucks.

Local radio is no better, because if they aren’t talking about Syracuse University football/basketball/lacrosse, they offer NOTHING I haven’t heard from much better hosts by the time the local shows start at 3PM.

And you’re right, that Dan Shanoff is an idiot. It’s a small point to most people I’m sure, but is it so hard to look at your OWN FREAKIN’ WEBSITE and see that Helio Castroneves drives in the Indy Racing League, and not Formula 1? I mean, it’s not like your network (ESPN) and their parent company (ABC) air IRL races, and a network owned by your company’s biggest rival (Speed Channel, owned by FOX) airs F1 racing or anything. I know the IRL doesn’t get good ratings compared to NASCAR, but it is the biggest racing series ESPN owns the rights too.

I’ve heard lots of good things about the Patrick show. Pity I don’t get to listen to talk radio much. I’m sorry to say that I’m starting to develop a liking for the Jungle, and that fact scares me. A lot.

More on Shanoff later, my friend. Now, Act 2:

I don’t know if you’ll remember, but after your review of Colin McRae 2003, I emailed and help you break Codemaster’s balls for, among other things, having us drive a Focus, when it was known that McRae was moving to the Citroen team as early as fall 2002. Of course they fixed that for 2004″¦”¦ after FIA rules changes meant that teams could only enter two drivers per event, along with escalating costs and Colin refusing to take any kind of a pay cut, meant he is without a ride for 2004. Things don’t look good for 2005 either.

So, here is the new cover for Colin McRae 2005:

It can’t be any worse than the PC demos for ’03 and ’04″¦”¦

Now that I have an Xbox, at least temporarily (On loan from my brother, who wants to run Linux on them eventually), I’ll have to at least give them a rent. I have purchased a couple pre-owned games for it, Rallisport Challenge, Sega GT2002, and EA Sports NCAA Football 2003, the latter based largely on your review of 2004. I’ve been exclusively a PC gamer for nearly a decade, and while I don’t like how limited’ the games are as far as editing and mods, I can appreciate being able to just slip a CD into the tray and play. The Xbox is pretty nice, but if I were to buy a console, I think I’d go with the PS2, purely for Gran Turismo 3 and 4. The Rallisport series is the only Xbox-exclusive I’d really care about, and everything else is on both consoles. Non-sports games don’t particularly interest me enough to seek anything out, so that’s not an issue. I am tempted to snag a Gamecube just because they are $100 and I would like to play the various Mario games (And a lot of the sports titles are available there as well). If I didn’t blow so much on R/C and model cars I could probably afford all three, but that hardly seems worth it”¦..

My first reader-submitted Photoshop. I’m almost crying, I’m so happy. And laughing.

(Note: I really did my best to get the picture to work, but I don’t think it’s going to. I’ll talk to the powers that be here and see if we can get a make-up call next week. Sorry, Steve.)

I’m very happy with the Xbox right now. I just picked up NCAA Football 2005 for it over the weekend, and I can’t wait to try the Xbox Live functionality. I own a Gamecube as well, and while I’m glad I didn’t pay original list for it, I’m still glad that I have it, for nothing else other than the Zelda compilation disk.

And Jeff F’ing Patterson gives me a heads-up:

Hurray for the Hangover and it’s continual abuse of Matt Wong:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espngamer/story?id=1831586

The Madden cover jinx has only injured players thus far, but because it’s Ray Lewis this year, I’ll share with you my prediction I’ve come to now. He is going to die from the jinx. I don’t know how, I don’t know when exactly, but with all the bad karma he’s had, he’ll die in the next year.

And we all know what that means “¦.

Something’s Always Wong

Playing by Ray’s rules

Crow: That’d be a great title for a prison drama.

By Matt Wong
ESPN.com

Cory: More like, “A rarely looked-at subpage of ESPN.com, somewhere under the page for Cold Pizza.'”

Twenty seconds left on the clock. Ray Lewis is on offense, I’m on defense.

Cory: Okay, guys. We need to set some limits here. Now, I’m only going to allow ten murder references in today’s article.
Crow: But Coryyyyy”¦.
Cory: Look, I know it’s a softball, but that’s exactly why we need to stay off of it. We need to challenge ourselves to do more than just the expected.
Tom: Does that include prison-sex comments?
Cory: No.
Crow: Okay, I’m onboard. Let’s see “¦ “Ray Lewis is “¦. I’m on defense.” Right. *Ahem* I’ve never been so happy to be on the receiving end of a drive before.

I toggle through my sets thinking, “run.”

Tom: “Hide,” being the obvious joke here.

I look over at the All-Pro linebacker and he’s busy selecting a facial expression. He settles for a blank stare.

Cory: Well, he DID go to Miami”¦.

And puts down his control pad.

Crow: *Roberto Duran* No mas! No mas!

“You want me to run a play?” he says. “I ain’t gonna play crazy now.”

Tom: *Ray* I’m savin’ that for my next court appearance.
Cory: And that’s one.

So we sit in silence and watch the clock tick down.

Crow: The sunset glowed through the picture window. I looked into his eyes and thanked God for every moment we had spent together.

Until the quarter ends and Lewis begins cheering and applauding and telling himself what a great coach he is.

Cory: Wow. He should play for Marty Schottenheimer.

His playcalling is suspect in my book,”¦

Crow: You were saying?
Cory: I stand by my last joke.

“¦ but I can’t help but appreciate Ray Lewis just being Ray Lewis. He’s not looking for my approval. And he doesn’t care if you think he’s cheesy or cowardly or just plain uncool. He’s plenty confident in himself.

Cory: Beat a murder rap and that sort of thing happens to you. I heard O.J.’s golf handicap dropped 4 points after his acquittal.
Tom: And the score is two.

“I’m a true believer that there’s one me,” Lewis says. “A lot of people put limitations on things, I don’t.”

Crow: I can bi-locate if I want to. It makes for a killer alibi.
Cory: That’s three, and we’re burning out on it already, folks.

Which enables him to dance like a madman before games; talk trash during games and even pose for a picture on a game with a well-documented jinx — Electronic Arts’ Madden 2005, the game we’re trying out.

Tom: And the game that we won’t be hearing about this time around.

“I don’t believe in curses,” he says. “I don’t believe what God has blessed man can curse.

Crow: They may say our love is forbidden, but I know that it is good.

“(The chance to represent Madden) is a blessing. It’s everything a blessing entails. God says he prepares a table for you. This is the table. You don’t shy away from it.”

Cory: You drink in lustily, pushing aside anyone that gets in your way.

Ray Lewis is in preacher mode. He gives sermons in the offseason. And you can almost hear EA shouting a collective “Amen.”

Crow: (Reverend Lovejoy) Annnnd the Lord said, “Blessed be Electronic Arts, and let them release the same game every year.” And they did, and the people paid fifty sheckles a year for the privilege of seeing each year’s new box cover.

But what about the unbelievers?

Tom: (laughing) We put them to death.
What about the mob of superstitious athletes and drama-crazed media who don’t believe a coincidence can occur four straight years; who can’t understand how Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk and Michael Vick could all fall victim to injuries the same year they appeared on a Madden cover? How do you convince them?

Crow: I hear food works.

“I’m just gonna go out and have the best season ever,” Lewis says. “Then that’ll be the curse.”

Cory: (Ray) Then I’m gonna be on the cover of Sports Illustrated and eat some Campbell’s Chunky Soup!

Well, at least for writers in need of a new angle.

Tom: Today we’re pleased to unveil the Bush Administration’s new SPORTS-writer deflection device. It is the same basic design as the device used to keep news-writers at bay, but it has been specially tuned to affect only sportswriters. We will test the device in ten “¦ nine “¦ eight “¦ seven “¦ six “¦ five “¦ four “¦ three “¦ two “¦ one “¦
All: BARRY BONDS!!

All the ridiculous hype aside, Lewis is honored to be the first defensive player ever to grace the cover of the most popular sports video game title.

Cory: I don’t know, Eddie George has been pretty defensive the last couple of years.
Tom: Ooooo”¦

“This opens up so many doors for the defensive side of things,” he says. “To truly get the same exposure the offensive side gets.

Crow: Full-frontal?
Tom: Full-frontal.

“The last 10 Super Bowls, how many offenses have won it? Football’s a defensive-based game.”

Cory: (secretary) Uh? Mr. Lewis? There’s a Mr. Brady on line one “¦ it sounds like he’s laughing?

And that’s why EA has revamped the game’s DB coverage, so that stars like Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson won’t get burned every other passing play.

Cory: And this is like real life how?
Tom: It’s not. It’s just the same fantasy world that allows someone like Marques Tuiasosopo to throw for 350 yards. An equitable pipe-dream.

That’s also why EA created the Hit Stick, which allows you to perform Ray Lewis-like tackles on opponents by using the right analog stick. If timed to perfection, the defense can cause a fumble or a dropped pass.

Crow: And if you mis-time it, it can take you out of the play faster than Shaq in Game 6.
Cory: Miami’s too good for im.

“Now you can’t score 80 or 90 points,” Lewis says. “Offensive players are gonna be whining and complaining. They’ll have to learn it all over again.”

Cory: Gee Matt, what do YOU think of the new gameplay?
Everyone: “¦.
Cory: Horribly in-depth as always, Matt.

Advantage: Ray Lewis, two-time and reigning defensive player of the year.

Tom: Duck-MATE!!
Cory and Crow: *look at each other worriedly*

“In the offseason, this is what we do,” he says. “This is the way you kill four, five hours. You have your boys over, you have your kids over, and you have a big tournament. We might have three TVs going on.

Cory: We might have four.
Tom: At least time is the only thing that he’s killing.

“It’s relaxing. It’s pure entertainment.”

Crow: Oh, sure. You’re not the one wondering if you should run out of the back of your own endzone to avoid a “self-inflicted” shotgun blast.
Cory: Wrong athlete murder, Crow.
Crow: The principle’s the same.

Meaning loser does push-ups.

Tom: Better that than suicides.
Cory: Tom “¦
Tom: SUICIDES. Running lines? Like they did in “Miracle”? Geez, Cory. Lighten up.

“I don’t gamble,” Lewis says. “You don’t bring in the ugliness — you don’t take somebody’s rent money, or take food off of kids’ tables.”

Crow: Or take their daddy away from them. By the way, what are we up to?
Cory: Six. I think we just might make it.

But he will take advantage of his trash-talking skills, whatever the contest — video games or football.

Cory: I’m glad I never watched that reality show when they were covering the Ravens. Between Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe, and Brian Billick, I probably would have tried to poke my eardrums out with Tinkertoy ┞¢ shafts.

“The button you wanna push is intimidation,” he explains. “You don’t wanna push the other button, if he has a button that gets him excited, well, unless you just want a great game, great competition.

Crow: He was pushing my buttons, and I didn’t mind at all. I was so excited I was sweating.

“Then you just play your game. Dominate how you dominate.”

Tom: Bend over.
Cory: Hi Ben. Very nice to meet you.

He’s pressing the buttons now, the ones on the control pad and the ones in my mind that I didn’t know I had. He’s preaching again, mouthing off in my ear and staring through the side of my head, trying to see how his words are making their way into my psyche.
“Don’t throw it,” he says.

Cory: You know, I’d say that he was in his head, but that’s just stating the obvious at this point. I’m sure his nephew gets in his head playing Pokemon. We don’t even have to discuss Matt’s football “skills””¦

I throw it. He picks it off.

Cory: “¦because that’s a pretty obvious statement itself.

“I told you don’t throw it,” he says. “I told you. I told you don’t throw it.”

Crow: (Rain Man) Definitely. Definitely told you don’t throw it. Definitely.

Lewis thinks he’s got me beat now, on every level. But I’m not conceding anything.
Until I see him place the control pad on the table. Until I realize that, with his team leading 28-20, the two-minute warning approaching, and timeouts frowned upon in an interview session, another half-minute is about to waste away before my eyes.

Tom: Wait a minute. It’s okay for the multi-millionaire athlete to let the play clock tick down, but it’s not okay for the reporter to do the OBVIOUS coaching response and call a friggin’ timeout? “Frowned upon?” Who’s his editor? J. Jonah Jameson?
Cory: Cripes, he’s probably based this entire article on one game.
Crow: Probably five minute quarters “¦ or less.
Cory: He probably didn’t even have enough time to figure out which button was dive and which was spin. Poor guy.
Tom: You know, maybe we’ve been too hard on the guy, Cory. I mean, he’s trying to put his best stuff out there. He gets twenty minutes with the game “¦ he has to play the athlete who’s representing it, who’s OBVIOUSLY had more exposure and practice “¦ the guy doesn’t have a chance to catch his breath let alone report on the intricacies of the latest block-point change of Madden.
Crow: Yeah. Maybe we should lay off the poor guy. Find new meat to feed on.

Then I admit to him, “Good call, coach.”

Cory: No friggin’ way. Screw “frowned upon.” If he pulls that “clock-management” b.s. you call a timeout. He’s a pansy and he deserves what we give him.
Tom: Yeah, you’re right.
Crow: Complete wussy.
Cory: And good job guys on keeping the murder comments down.
Tom: Our pleasure, boss. See you next time.

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever* Read
*”Ever” meaning this week

Okay, for those of you that actually read what I bitch about, you know that I’m not a fan of ESPN.com (I refuse to believe that they let him have anything to do with the channels themselves) editor/columnist Dan Shanoff. However, most of his stuff is too brief and Ritalin-riddled to pick apart. However, Dan came up with this doozy last week and I couldn’t stand to let it alone. I’m doing this one solo, since a lot of what I have to say isn’t as much comic as it is just “¦ common sense. You’ll see.

Make Fans Part Of The BCS
By Dan Shanoff
Page 2

And we KNOW we’re going to have some fun already.

College football’s Bowl Championship Series braintrust should have learned its most valuable lesson from the success of “American Idol”: Fans first.

Great show to compare NCAA football to. What, couldn’t get the okay to use Big Brother?

Instead, the BCS recently announced a revised Top 25 rankings system — one-third media, one-third coaches and one-third computers — to determine a national-championship matchup that will perpetuate the “we-know-best” mentality that ultimately cripples any business that ignores its customers.

Yes, Dan Shanoff. The great populist. The man that brought you such unpretentious pieces such as “The Hot List.”

Instead, the BCS appeared most concerned with appeasing the existing voting pool — media and coaches whose incentives when ranking are so conflicted they make dot-com era investment banks seem on the level.

The BCS solution was a ranking system that increases the “human” factor and limits the impact of the computer polls, which have an image problem that makes the evil cyborg army of “I, Robot” look good.

And this style of writing is so clichéd that it makes JayDog look creative.

Once again, the BCS missed the chance to expand the definition of “humans” and empower the fans, the very group that would lend unassailable legitimacy — credibility and critical mass — to the rankings process.

Yes, you know what he’s proposing, and you know why it’s wrong, but we’ll point all of this out in time.

Forget the many reasons the existing pollsters have no business ranking college football teams; on its own merits, enfranchising the fans makes the most sense.

“Enfranchising”? What are you going to give them all McDonald’s to run?

Including the fans makes sense

No, it doesn’t.

While other sports leagues, such as the NBA and Major League Baseball, allow fans to vote on exhibition All-Star Games, a college football fan poll would mark an unprecedented opportunity for consumers to impact real results — helping determine the two teams that would play for the national championship.

Thus removing the requirement of “winning” from the formula. Perfect for 21st Century America.

For fans (and the leagues that service them), nothing is more empowering than a sense of inclusion in something of consequence. Making fans part of the ranking process itself would give them an even more vested interest in the outcomes:

– More of a reason to take voting seriously
– More of a reason to follow the sport — and watch
– And more of a reason to discuss college football with their friends, all of whom are also included in the voting. “How did you vote?” would become the Monday morning water-cooler discussion.

These results are as good for the BCS and the media who cover it as it is for the fans themselves.

Bull****. Your fan base is who it is, and an freakin’ internet poll isn’t going to change that. And those die-hard fans that already exist; you seriously think they’re going to be the least bit unbiased in their selections? Maybe coaches and media are biased themselves, but they’re also professionals. You’re inviting hundreds of millions of people to make a decision based on nothing else but popularity. There is NO incentive to “take voting seriously.” We don’t take governmental elections seriously in this country, what makes you think anyone would be filled with a sense of honor and purpose by having the opportunity to either vote for the team most deserving of the #1 poll spot, or voting for your alma mater?

That sense of inclusion will lead to a critical mass of participation, and along with that, the validity of volume. Based on the argument laid out most compellingly in the recently published book “The Wisdom of Crowds,” by James Surowiecki, there is a collective expertise of a massive fan base. In volume of games watched, highlights consumed and results analyzed, millions of voters easily eclipse the knowledge of a handful of media members or even the coaches themselves.

Hey, why don’t you float that whole mob rule idea by some of your Jewish colleagues and see how well they like it. “Sense of inclusion?” Do I feel “included” to ESPN because they have polls I can vote in every day? No. To do that y’all are going to have to stop kissing Diana Taurasi’s ass. Especially when Nicole Ohlde is leading all WNBA rookies in double-doubles, rebounds, and blocks.

Look, I understand the statistical preference of a huge sampling, but you can only do that if you can trust the individual samples, which you CAN’T. Hell, YOU guys know that personally.

There is an economic rationale here for the NCAA and its TV partners as well: If millions of fans put two top 5 teams in the title game — and it’s a different pairing than either the coaches or the media — which group does it make more sense for the BCS to listen to? I would ignore the coaches and pundits who complain about the fan matchup and put my money on the masses who actually generate the TV ratings.

Provided they all went to Northwestern, obviously. Otherwise, screw em.

Folks we all know what Div 1A football needs. It’s the same thing that Division 2 already has: A national championship tournament. Sod the “finals week” argument, it can be done, and you don’t have to shorten schedules (much) to do it.

Also, consider that the volume of voters will help keep any one group from dominating and offset the outliers; with millions voting, it would take a much larger effort than fans of any one school can muster in order to sway the results. The vast majority of participants will take their new responsibility seriously; an earnest, generally rational Top 25 will emerge as college football’s golden mean.

Bull****. Remember your little “best jersey” poll a few months back? That was national, but you still had some Denver Broncos ass come in and bot your results, didn’t you? Son, if you actually believe what you just wrote, you need to get off of your Apple IIE and join the post Windows 95 world.

How it would work

It wouldn’t but I think you’ve figured that out by now.

The real value of the system is in its easy implementation. Following the established models of the various pro leagues, which use online voting to help determine their All-Star Game participants, the voting process includes a simple one-time registration page (to counter fraud); it’s an incredibly low barrier to participation, particularly given the unprecedented clout offered in return.

And even if you made it fraud-proof, that’s not going to stop everyone in Durham from voting Duke #1 every week.

And, following that thinking to it’s logical end, the #1 spot in the poll would have to go to the school with the largest enrollment in Div. 1A: The University of Texas. And if that isn’t the most obvious reason to toss this idea in the dumpster, I don’t know what is.

The NCAA and BCS media partners like ABC Sports and ESPN could promote the polling area, delivering the distribution necessary to reach the most voters. ESPN.com alone could deliver the critical mass. Unfortunately, it’s already too late to change the system to include the fans’ voice for Week 1 of the upcoming college football season, but it could certainly be ready by, say, Election Day. How appropriate.

And that would be changing the BCS just in time for conference championships and Bowl selection.

Anticipating concerns
Considering the stakes on and off the field, there will be three factors to plan for:

Fraud: In the event of a malicious hacker or a base of particularly rabid alumni intentionally skewing the polling numbers in favor of their team; the fan poll’s simple registration requirement will help maintain the integrity of the system and alert of any unlikely blips.

Uh-huh.

Unfair access: Despite the growth of online services, there continues to be a socio-economic bias of who can log on to vote. The BCS would do well to consider a fleet of traveling vans with mobile Internet hook-ups to expand access to voting as widely as possible. Fortunately, college football’s most core consumers — college students themselves — have near-universal Internet access. Ultimately, the fan poll system will be built on their energy and enthusiasm.

“Fleet of traveling vans.” Yeah, the NCAA is going to spring for that. And unless you have a few hundred “vans” “¦ like one at every single Div. 1A school every week, guess how your votes are going to be skewed?

“Socio-economic bias”? It’s called THE LIBRARY, stupid.

Wacky results: If that many millions of people want to see, say, lowly Duke play in the national title game, there’s nothing left to say but: “OK, you asked for it!” But the fan poll also is hedged as only one-fourth of a complete equation, along the media, coaches and computer polls, each with a quarter of the say. (By the way: Results couldn’t get much wackier than the computers putting undeserving Oklahoma into the title game last January.)

So, before you were saying that coaches and sportswriters were corrupt and computers were stupid and now you’re ready to give them equal weight with your peeps? Did you think this through at all before you wrote it?

Respecting the fans
In the end, a ranking system driven by fans is, unlike the pitiful computer polls, bulletproof to negative public relations: Which media pundit will be the first to have the chutzpah to tell millions of fans they don’t deserve a voice? Which coaches would blindly dismiss the judgment of so many fans, including many of their own teams?

All of them. Because they’re FANS. Fans are BIASED.

Meanwhile, everyone is better off: the NCAA and its TV partners see increased interest in their sport, with many accompanying revenue opportunities (if it’s anything remotely close to “Idol,” they could make a mint). Coaches can use it to increase booster support. The media get more to talk about — and perhaps even real influence.

I have a feeling the “increased revenues” wouldn’t cover the cost of the “fleet of traveling vans.” Your fans are who they are, and an Internet poll isn’t going to change that. Frankly, if I was a D1A coach, I’d be insulted by this column. And you were just bitching about the motives of “the media” and now you’re giving them “real influence?” Did you not take your Lithium this morning?

And the fans finally get some say over something into which they invest so much time and energy. Given the Idol worship of the fan poll’s entertainment analogue, the bigger question is why the BCS didn’t incorporate this earlier. With the most recent revision to the ranking system and given how popular this could be, there remains a window of circumstance, time and opportunity to consider the fans.

Considering that the last few “Idol” winners were widely considered to NOT be the best singers of the finalists, I think this is a lousy selling point, if also a wonderful analogy to the whole idea.

Unlike “Idol,” fan input doesn’t need to be the only factor; there is a traditional and “expert” role for the media, coaches and, more recently, computers. But short of a true playoff, college football’s ranking system will always be missing a critical component until fans’ opinions are considered.

And in one sentence, you stated the best idea of the whole column.

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His “Daily Quickie” commentary appears every weekday morning.

And most of it is somebody else’s cartoon, just so you know.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

No time for thinking. Too much sarcasm this week. Next week, more sarcasm “¦ er “¦ joy.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory