Monday, June 29, 2009

12 Reasons Why.....Brian Grummell Is A Great Source Of College Football Knowledge

You may not know the name but by the end of this interview, I would hope you at least appreciate and respect how knowledgeable he is about college football. Sure, I could have asked the ESPN Gameday guys but what fun would that be. I have known Brian Grummell now a couple years and going into chats during football season is always so much fun because he is not just a fan but knows his stuff as well. I know some of you may not agree with everything he says but I have watched as Brian debates and to me he is one of the best in that he can debate his side without making it personal and back it up passionately while also being that guy you would would probably love to have a beer with while you watch the game.

I also know that this is early for college football previews but since the NBA and NHL drafts have taken place already, it is basically time to start getting amped up about the upcoming season, especially for those of us anxious to see what Syracuse will do this year. While Brian does direct a couple issues in the Orange direction, he also breaks down a lot more then just Syracuse, which I think will help get us all excited for the sport of college football in general.I hope you all enjoy his analysis and without further ado, here is and 's own Brian Grummell.

12 Reasons Why.....Brian Grummell Is A Great Source Of College Football Knowledge

1. Who is Brian Grummell and why should people care about what you think of college football?

Going after the ego right away I see. Uhhhmmmmmmmmm, I'm a big college football fan, I write at FanHouse ( as well as my original site College Football Resource(, and chances are I'm not someone most fans are going to find agreement with. More on that later.

People should care about what I think of college football because hopefully they're hopelessly fond of the game (as its presently constituted) in a way I've come to be fond of it and can relate, whatever our disagreements. I get all wrapped up in Saturdays but also the bickering, pageantry and tradition. Its the best game going whatever the difficulties, and I'm someone looking to preserve a lot of what makes it so.

2. What teams do you enjoy following? Any you enjoy rooting against?

Well the diploma says University of Southern California, so that's one team. I'm a sucker for the traditional powers, most of them anyway. I grew up a die-hard Notre Dame kid, but always admired Michigan as well. Some programs can get annoying at times, Texas has probably been on my nerves of late but that's mostly a Mack Brown meets goofy hype thing. By virtue of USC I'm supposed to hate Notre Dame and UCLA, and I can get into that at times but I've come around to really enjoying each school for what they are, be it the rivals or Texas or Louisiana-Lafayette. At the end of the day they're all part of this grand pageant we put on each year, hard to get too worked up about anyone.

3. You and I both support the bowl/BCS system. Can you explain your reasons why a playoff system is over-rated?

I've framed my argument a million different ways but it centers on the notion that college football as its presently constituted is incredible, any move towards a playoff is a game-changer that would severely weaken what makes it so great in the first place, and that at the end of the day any -- and I mean any -- playoff proposal falls on its face as far as delivering what its intended to do in crowning a supposedly legitimate champion.

Look, I just think single elimination especially in a crazy game like football, is an insane way to determine which team among two is superior. Law of averages works in the favor of a superior team, but going with just one game is the worst possible option in trying to reduce noise and randomness and works most heavily in the inferior teams' favor. In theory the most sound playoff or postseason structure is the one where the superior teams most frequently advance. That means play more games.

You look at other sports like baseball and hockey and even they don't seem to get it right a fair amount of the time and they have seven game series to work with. Compared to that, single elimination style playoff football looks downright pointless and meaningless.

This being college football, there's no way a series of games between games is going to happen in the postseason. Given that its an easy call to reject any and all playoff proposals.

4. Do you think all conferences should have title games with the winner getting into the BCS?

Absolutely not. Regular season play is there to determine a champion, the title games are redundant and have greatly corrupted the system. This all started when the SEC went to 12 teams despite college football at the time only having something like an 11 game regular season schedule. How stupid was that? Its made the SEC into the most lucrative enterprise in college sports, but really robbed college football of a certain amount of honor.

5. What is your opinion on the smaller bowl games that many people enjoy mocking even though many watch the games?

They've voted with their eyeballs. There's certainly more than a little dishonesty and mock contempt in bashing the smaller bowls. I personally enjoy them, what else is there to do at that time of the year, with the regular season done?

Just for perception purposes I'd rather not have so many bowl games but as a fan the more the merrier, hard to get too worked up about all of it especially when its a chance to get a second or third or fourth peek at some of the smaller programs I don't see as much of as I'm tuned to say a USC game or Florida/Tennessee or whatever. Its their showcase, they're all having a good time the programs get some nice publicity and everyone ends up a winner.

6. Is the SEC the best conference in college football? And what do you think of the Big East football conference?

Absolutely. It hasn't always been that way and won't forever be that way, but it is what it is right now. More power to them, the fans demand great football and over the last few years with all the good coaches arriving they've certainly had an increasing share of it. The challenge now is for other conferences to catch up, innovate, and carve into that dominance. Can't wait to see how that all shakes out.

I have no complaints about the Big East football conference. Obviously it was odd to see them lose several programs to the ACC, but its been a hell of a rebound. As far as competitiveness top to bottom it's actually started to take on that look the Pac-10 had before Pete Carroll sucked all the oxygen out of the room. It would be nice to see the traditional dominant teams -- Pitt, Syracuse -- reclaim their throne if you will, but their absence has also created opportunities for Rutgers, for South Florida, for Connecticut, to make themselves known.

7. Do you have an opinion of the upcoming Syracuse football season with the firing of Greg Robinson and the hiring of Doug Marrone?

Nothing definitive. Robinson was obviously a failure and while its always painful stuff watching a program split with a coach, its an opportunity to improve and that shouldn't be taken lightly. It looks like Marrone is a Syracuse die-hard, which can be positive and negative. I haven't looked too much into his background but Syracuse has too strong of a tradition to be sidelined like this, hopefully he's the man to revive things.

8. Could you tell everyone a little about the two websites you are associated with, FanHouse and College Football Resource?

FanHouse ( was started a few years ago as a multi-sport place for sports commentary that assembled a ton of excellent sports bloggers/writers to achieve that task. Its undergone more than a few face lifts but continues to churn out much excellent content while pulling in some of the best traffic numbers of all the sports blogs. I stick mainly to the college football side of that, we actually started out with something like 40 writers trying to get a bead on most of the best teams but eventually went through several other models to where we now have some blogger types like myself writing alongside some professional journalists, pundits and whatnot. Its an interesting place, although I'm a college football snob I enjoy a great deal of the content FanHouse produces across all the sports platforms.

College Football Resource ( started around 2004 to be something of a central link depository for the many great college football websites I'd read every day. It never quite accomplished its ambition of being comprehensive (the internet is BIG), but I got hooked on the writing thing and carved out an identity writing on the blog within the site. The college football blogosphere was much more of a Wild West frontier at that time, and I was fortunate to be among the first to arrive and produce content, getting into a few friendly battles with great names like EDSBS and MGoBlog along the way. My friend Chris who runs the Heisman Pundit website shared a lot of my opinions and we had a lot of fun fleshing out ideas and arguments in the earlier days, he got started a little before me and seeing his labors inspired me to make a run at it. Amazingly, its 2009 and I'm still around. Good times.

9. What are your top resources for college football/sports news? Any particular favorite shows, channels, magazines or websites besides your own?

ESPN TV and are obviously ubiquitous and ESPN as an organization happens to do a great job of embracing college football, so they're obviously a major stop for me. I have my favorites among the blogs, just reading content more than necessarily looking for news. The Wiz of Odds does a nice service, putting a ton of time and energy into locating worthwhile content.I don't have any particular favorite shows besides GameDay, although I'm tickled ESPN created College Football Live. The show lacks a certain consistency because every day there's a new face heading the program but its a good 30 minute toes in the water way to get my college football fix on TV for the day.

One thing with me is I tend to bury myself in the Phil Steele preview magazines, it sounds weird but I'll get content ideas just looking at stat and talent trends for teams in there. In the off season its fun to daydream about the endless scenarios possible for each team and the college football world at large, and Steele's is a great avenue for that. He's predicting Temple to be bowl eligible this year, how crazy is that? But that makes me wonder what elite program might not even make a bowl and get embarrassed in comparison. I have a million thoughts like that each day that never find their way to print just from looking at a preview magazine.

10. Any overall predictions for the 2009 college football season? Who is in the championship game?

I have no insight into the crazy things that tend to happen (please no more 2007's!), but obviously its hard to find much to dislike about Florida, Texas, USC, programs like that at least in the early going. I think we're going to be spoiled next year in seeing the senior seasons out of Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. We as fans get wrapped up into our teams and our hatreds sometimes and neglect to appreciate individual excellence from players. Both these guys are the best since Reggie Bush in my mind, in willing their teams across the finish line in games.If not for the Harrell-to-Crabtree play that we'll remember forever, we'd have deified Colt McCoy for his go-ahead touchdown drive that should have put the game away for the 'Horns. And although he was a touch erratic in spots, his overall performance in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State was stirring, capped by the game-winning TD drive. He carried that team against a well prepared Buckeye outfit.And I could easily go Thom Brennaman on you about Tim Tebow the player. Its hard to follow up acts like they had in 2008, but they'll still do something special even if it doesn't quite meet expectations.

Just glancing at things, I'm intrigued by Daryll Clark at Penn State and with their downy-soft schedule don't expect them to fall far from last year's pace.

The Ole Miss hype is off the charts but looking at their schedule I could see them dropping games to Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU. Their run game doesn't impress me, while replacing Oher and Jerry is no small task. Tread with caution picking them as a top-10 team.

Virginia Tech too, they'll win a ton of games but will have trouble escaping that ACC vortex of bad offenses unless a truly dominant runner emerges.

I actually think this is USC's best shot at a championship since 2006 despite a new quarterback (who may in fact be a true freshman). That defense is going to be typical Pete Carroll excellent, just not 2008 excellent. They'll manage. The problem is of course convincing the public they're better than some teams that will likely have vastly superior offensive numbers to them like the Texas', Floridas and Oklahomas of the world. That and not losing gimme conference games could go a long way in making that happen but I like the overall talent USC will field. Both lines will be excellent, I actually like this group of linebackers better than last year's group, the secondary is amazing, this year is Joe McKnight's time to shine, Johnson and Williams is an excellent receiver tandem, the offensive line may be the nation's best, lots to work with. Plus I get the feeling Pete Carroll's getting frustrated with that endless pattern of beating the tar out of everyone out of conference but muddling through half the conference games. Something has to give. Losing the coordinators is actually an opportunity for fresh blood within the coaching staff which could work wonders.

Georgia will perk up now that the burdens of expectation no longer fall on their shoulders.

Don't sleep on Cal, this is probably their best team since 2004 and they'll be scary if they can find a quarterback with a mean streak.

LSU will rebound in a big way although I don't think their defensive line is anywhere near as good as they're used to having.

Florida State will be back, but not as we remember them from the 90's. They don't really wear that intimidating, speedy mantle well anymore, but they have talent and appear to have found at least a modestly competent quarterback and some nifty runners. Mickey Andrews' defenses have slipped the last three years or so but if the players figure out they have a good team they won't know any better and play a little above themselves. Its the perk of being at a big time program, guys start playing like their bulletproof even when they aren't. Those kinds of teams are scary.

Georgia Tech is likely to struggle out of the gate and people will be eager to write off Paul Johnson's offense as a fluke the way they harassed Urban Meyer at Florida until he was able to transition from Chris Leak to a guy like Tebow who is a good fit for his system. But then, the Jackets will find their way and take down someone they shouldn't (perhaps VaTech in game seven?) once they get their confidence back.

Anyway, I could go on, heh. Hopefully this will suffice.

11. On game day, are you most likely watching games at home, in a sports bar, or at the game in person? Do you have any favorite game day traditions such as a certain routine, food or jersey?

I'd love to watch games in a bar but for work purposes I generally stay at home where I can control the television and what games I'm watching while having constant access to food, power and internet for my computer, and facilities. I'm planning on attending one or two USC games as usual this year though, so that should be a fun getaway, its always a blast tailgating with friends out west and enjoying the campus and gameday atmosphere, all the traditions, seeing Traveler up close before the game, the band, the Song Girls, Tommy Trojan, etc. So much of that is how I got wrapped up in college football in the first place.

I definitely wear the USC gear when I'm at home on Saturdays, I'm pretty superstitious so I have a favorite shirt I tend to wear, might have a hat nearby even if I don't wear it. I'll put the USC decorations and memorabilia around the room. I also have a standing tradition of doing a "toast" with a friend out west before each USC game, we used to do it at games but when I moved east it became a phone call at an appointed time where we'd set some goals and expectations for the game.

I also make sure to watch GameDay. People have soured on the show but its fun, I love seeing all the fans and the sounds and listening to the discussion and watching all the excellent video. ESPN is a lot of things but when it comes to college football coverage they really get it. During the show is usually when I make my TV grid where I write down all the games that are available to my TV channel programming that day, what time each game starts what channel number, and about how long each game should run, get that all marked up with hiliters for easy reference. That helps calm me down and get me focused on what I'll be watching that day, when I'll be watching it, and thinking about something other than USC.Other than that, its a lot of channel flipping, talking to some people over instant messenger about whats going on, calling some people occasionally.And then all bets are off if I'm actually at a game.

There's a ton to do at USC with games so I'm usually all over campus visiting various friends and tailgates, I try to stop by the Tommy Trojan statue on campus like everyone else, the bookstore is unfortunately avoided with everyone and their uncle in there purchasing gear, I'm not much one for greeting the players coming into the stadium (Trojan Walk) but tend to catch the band performing as it walks through campus on the way to the stadium, seeing the Song Girls up close, hearing them play the songs, all that. I'm spoiled a bit in that the main tailgate I go to has four TV's set up alongside the wall of the RV with all the major games showing that day, so I'll usually spend a certain amount of time watching games inbetween the socializing, keeping an eye on things. My friend Chris who I mentioned earlier that runs Heisman Pundit is usually there glued to the TV's, so its nice to talk to him at intervals to trade impressions of whats going on.

12. Your free space: speak your mind here Brian and feel free to say anything you want, especially if I missed something or you just wish to elaborate more. The field is yours.

Thanks Chuck. Hopefully this isn't a waste of you or your readers' time. Its been great interacting with you over the last few years at FanHouse, folks like you definitely add to the fun of my job and its nice knowing someone is out there who agrees with me on occasion, heh.

I really wish the best for Syracuse football. I didn't grow up with Ernie Davis or Jim Brown, but Donovan McNabb, Marvin Graves and Rob Konrad certainly resonated while watching games with announcers extolling the ferocity and pride of the folks inside the intimidating Carrier Dome. Syracuse is good for college football and hopefully lean times haven't eroded the competitive spirit of the program.

I would like to thank Brian for not only his time but what I found to be a very lengthy and detailed response to the questions. If you enjoy college football,I highly recommend joining Brian during the chats, reading their great college analysis blog style (along with Pitt fan Chas Rich) as well as checking out his personal blog at .

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