Noel Sweeney launches Memoirs – Pic Special

first_imgLast weekend saw the launch of ‘Don’t say you weren’t taul’, Noel Sweeney’s A Memoir‘ at the Silver Tassie Hotel in Letterkenny. The woodlands suite was packed to capacity as family, friends, locals and reading enthusiasts turned out to get their first copies of the much-anticipated Memoirs of local character Noel Sweeney.In this entertaining book, Noel recalls his early days growing up on a small farm in Ballymaleel outside Letterkenny, his successful career in the music band Barney and the Circle as well as his many trials and tribulations in building his well-known driving school business Swilly Drive School of Motoring. Noel reminisces about the ‘the auld days’ of being reared in the 40’s and 50’s, dancing in the Fiesta Ballroom in the 60’s and playing music around Donegal in the 70’s and 80’s.He also talks openly about the challenges he faced in life and the many twists and turns in his varied and interesting life.Convoy man and fellow writer Fergus Cleary described how Noels Book ‘offers today’s youth a fantastic insight into the times of recent generations as well as allowing those reared in and around the 1950’s an opportunity for some fond reminisce about their own upbringing ‘On the night, Loughside Community Chairman, Conor Crossan read extracts of the book between interviews with Noel himself, family members and friends as well as Noels Barney and the Circle bandmates. Noel was joined by his band members from Barney and the Circle for a music set to round off a fantastic evening.Speaking at the event, Sweeney said: “I was blown away by the support of the local community in coming out to support the launch of the book. It was an emotional evening and I was delighted with such goodwill and generosity from everyone there”The book is being released in the build-up to Christmas in order to help raise much-needed funds for charities supporting the homeless.It can now be purchased online (www.noelsweeney.ie), major books stores around the county and at the Swilly Group offices.All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to charities working with the Homeless. Noel will be in Eason’s Book Store at the Letterkenny Shopping Centre from 1 pm this Saturday (24th November) for a book signing.Noel Sweeney launches Memoirs – Pic Special was last modified: November 23rd, 2018 by Shaun KeenanShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:book launchNoel SweeneySilver Tassie Hotellast_img read more

Poll: Which Web Office Suite Would You Pay For? Adobe or Google?

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair sarah perez Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Today, Adobe announced that their online office suite at Acrobat.com is moving out of beta and they will begin offering both free and paid subscriptions to the web-based suite of applications. For consumers, the change won’t have that much of an impact since the core services at Acrobat.com will remain free: Buzzword (the word processor), Presentations (slideshows, still in beta), and Tables (spreadsheets, new today). However, business users will now face a dilemma as Adobe begins to charge for PDF conversion as well as their web meetings product, Adobe ConnectNow. This move clearly pits Adobe against Google, with both companies now offering premium services to business users. But what will companies choose? Google or Adobe? What would you choose?Adobe’s New Acrobat.comAlong with the announcement about the preview release of Tables, an online spreadsheet application which joins Presentations in the Adobe Labs area, the bigger news today is the pricing plans for the online live meeting service, ConnectNow. Adobe will offer two different plans, a Premium Basic Service and a Premium Plus Service. In addition to online meetings, each service will also include support options and allow users to convert files to PDF format, another feature that will not be accessible to those using the free version of Acrobat.com. The Basic Service allows up to five participants in an online meeting and supports the conversion of ten documents to PDF per month. This service will cost US $14.99/month, or US $149/year. The Premium Service allows for up to twenty participants and supports unlimited PDF creation. It will be US $39/month, or US $390/year.Google Apps: The Better Web Office?Compared with Google Apps, Adobe’s online suite, while arguably a sleeker-looking product, is still very raw when it comes to features. Two of the core office services (Presentations and Tables) are still in beta and there are no email, calendaring, or portal-type applications as there are with Google. In other words, Adobe is content to supplement or replace a business’s Microsoft Office install base, whereas Google wants to replace that plus your Exchange server and Sharepoint Server, too. At $50 per user per year, the question as to whether Google Apps is the more expensive buy really depends on the number of users the company has. Still, Adobe’s key to success is that they’re offering something Google doesn’t: live web meetings. The closest Google can come to that is Google Video, which allows users to share pre-recorded video presentations like company announcements or training videos. Another option would be Gmail Chat, but it doesn’t include ConnectNow’s whiteboarding feature. Google also has nothing to do with PDF conversion, although they do allow users to upload and share PDFs in the Google Docs portal. What To Choose?Still, when it comes down to it, it’s doubtful that any business would pay for two web office suites at the same time just to get a complete set of features. Not only would that not make financial sense, from a support perspective, it would be a mistake, too, especially considering that standardization and consistency are important factors to today’s I.T. departments.Instead, most companies moving to the cloud will have to make the choice: Google or Adobe? What will they choose? What would you choose if you had to decide? Take the poll and let us know. Feel free to share your reasons why in the comments. UPDATE: As a few commenters noted, Zoho is also a valid choice for web office suites. However, we intentionally left them out so as not to dilute the vote between the two companies that are arguably industry giants as opposed to (awesome!) startups. ThinkFree is also not included for that reason. If you would choose Zoho, though, vote “Neither” and leave a comment as to why. 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#enterprise Related Posts Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

Cartoon: Optimized!

first_img4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… There seem to be two poles of opinion in the SEO world around content. At one pole, you optimize everything you do within an inch of its life: writing headlines and structuring copy to engage search engine algorithms rather than human imaginations. You frame your content and choose your topics with a view to linkbait instead of what really charges your passions, and you track metrics and prune away less productive activity ruthlessly.On the other pole, you may be no less attuned to metrics than your counterparts at the other end of the spectrum, but you direct your focus to creating great, engaging content and building a community around it. Here, you’re counting less on talking directly to search engines and more on creating the kind of traffic and organic linking activity that will drive up your rankings.And then, of course, there are points in between where you do some of each. But there’s no question that there’s a tension between writing for search engines and creating a distinctive, authentic voice of your own.Now, I can find advice anywhere along that spectrum with no difficulty. (It’s no surprise that people who do SEO for a living don’t find it hard to make their content visible.) And I can find vocal, often heated arguments and very strong opinions.What I can’t find is hard data on which approach works better, and where the sweet spot lies. I imagine apples-to-apples comparisons would be hard to do, but that information would be pretty valuable. I have my preferences – I like a Web of communities and genuine voices, and I’d find pushing the ruthless-linkbait-and-keyword approach soul-destroying – and my instincts about what I’d like to believe works better, but that’s just me.Anyone out there find anything tangible?More Noise to Signal. rob cottingham Tags:#Cartoons#web center_img Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

Roma decimated for Gladbach

first_img Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/ Davide Santon is also out of action for Roma’s Europa League match with Borussia Monchengladbach, adding to the extensive injury crisis. It kicks off on Thursday at 17.55 UK time (16.55 GMT). The Giallorossi were already without Cengiz Under, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Amadou Diawara, Bryan Cristante and Nikola Kalinic. Santon was going to be repurposed for a midfield role, but the full-back won’t be participating either, as he is struggling with flu symptoms. Coach Paulo Fonseca hinted he could even be forced to change tactical system to deal with the absentees. Roma squad for Borussia Monchengladbach: Pau Lopez, Cardinali, Mirante; Juan Jesus, Smalling, Kolarov, Fazio, Mancini, Florenzi, Spinazzola, Calafiori; Perotti, Veretout, Zaniolo, Pastore, Riccardi; Dzeko, Antonucci, Kluivertlast_img read more

Keeseekoose First Nation elders spark RCMP investigation into band council

first_imgKenneth JacksonAPTN National NewsThe RCMP has confirmed to APTN National News that it has launched an investigation on Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan after two elders came forward providing a stack of financial documents.The investigation is in the early stages said Sgt. Rob Laurent of the RCMP’s Yorkton detachment.“We do have an investigation that is ongoing,” said Laurent.Laurent confirmed the investigation is based on complaints made from elders and the documents they provided.Elders Frances Musqua, 70, and Seraphine Straightnose, 71, met with Laurent Aug. 21 and provided him with over 150 pages of financial documents, including receipts and records of large cheques connected the band’s co-manager Edwin Chalupiak and his Regina-based companies Dynamic Management Solutions and Chalupiak and Associates, as well as the band’s director of operations Chris Lafontaine.Chalupiak and Lafontaine have refused to answer questions from APTN citing confidentiality but Chalupiak said the council has launched its own investigation into how “confidential” documents were leaked from the band office.He claimed to have spoken to Laurent and copied the officer on an email to APTN.“He also indicated to me that neither (Dynamic) Management Solutions Inc. or Chalupiak & Associates is under investigation,” wrote Chalupiak. “Any reference to the investigation involving these entities will be misleading, and these entities will suffer damages due to the reporting of incorrect information.”APTN tried to confirm Chalupiak’s comments with Laurent but he didn’t respond to a message left at his office or an email. He also didn’t respond to Chalupiak’s email.Straightnose said she called Laurent and told APTN the officer confirmed he spoke to Chalupiak but it’s against RCMP policy to confirm who is, or not, a subject of an investigation.Straightnose first went to the RCMP after she learned the band’s director of operations had cut two large cheques while the band membership was celebrating Treaty Days on May 17-18, where each member gets a symbolic $5.The one cheque was for $124,944 and the other $50,000 according to documents provided to APTN.There are records of other large cheques and receipts for band membership assistance and housing repairs included in the RCMP documents.“Somebody said they were making cheques on Treaty Day. That’s what really upset me,” Straightnose told APTN, as to why she went to the RCMP.Laurent said because of the large volume of documents the RCMP intends to ask Indigenous Affairs to launch a financial review of the band to assist the investigation.“That is going to be one of the avenues of the investigation we’re going at. It’s just I haven’t gotten to that part, yet,” he said.Keeseekoose First Nation is nearly 300 kilometres northeast of Regina and about 700 people live on reserve according to Indigenous Affairs.The complaint to the RCMP was the boiling point of frustration brewing in the months prior over Chalupiak and Lafontaine.Chalupiak was brought on to be the band’s co-manager, or recipient-appointed advisor, on Nov. 1, 2015 as INAC found the band to be in default of its finances. A contract was signed with Chalupiak’s company Dynamic Management Solutions which gave the company primary authority over finances.The deal provided Dynamic $10,000 a month, plus expenses.In a separate contract, Lafontaine is paid approximately $15,000 a month.Soon after the band council signed the contract with Dynamic, seven members of council told APTN their wages were scaled back and in the summer of 2016, the council of 12 was effectively laid off by Chalupiak for several months, while Chief Lyndon Musqua continued to be paid.By the fall of 2016, Musqua and several councillors wanted Chalupiak and Lafontaine gone according to recordings of meetings provided to APTN, along with interviews with several of the councillors and Musqua. But on April 24, 2017, seven councillors agreed to extend Chalupiak and Lafontaine’s contracts in band council resolutions (BCRs) signed by the councillors in Chalupiak’s Regina office.Musqua was not present at the meeting and claims the meeting was illegal because the band’s custom election act stipulates all meetings have to be called by the chief.Musqua was able to have those BCRs rescinded in May, which was when Lafontaine had the large cheques made out at the band office during Treaty Days.The description on the cheques, according to documents from the band office, said the one for $50,000 was for breaching Lafontaine’s contract, and the other paid out Lafontaine’s salary for the year in advance.Musqua said he tried to determine if the cheques were cashed and called the Bank of Montreal to find out.However, staff at the bank said they weren’t authorized to give the chief any information and could only speak to Dynamic.This all played out during a council meeting on June 20 with Chalupiak and Lafontaine in attendance. The meeting was audio recorded and provided to APTN.“I still got no clarity if the cheques going around were cashed or not,” says Musqua during the meeting. “I asked if they were cashed. Show us.”Later in the meeting, Chalupiak says the cheques were voided, while Lafontaine says the cheques were made as a “lesson” of the consequences the band would face if they breached his contract.“The simple fact they were made – the intent was there – is disturbing enough,” Musqua says. “That’s what upsets me.”The next month, Chalupiak’s contract was renewed for another year by nine councillors.Then Straightnose went to the RCMP with the support of Musqua.“I am not going to back down. I’m not,” she said.Contact Kenneth here: [email protected]last_img read more

The Stanley Cup Center of Gravity Is Somewhere in Lake Huron

With the elimination of the Montreal Canadiens from the playoffs last week, Canada will extend its streak to 20 NHL seasons without a Stanley Cup. But Canadian hockey fans might have a mild rooting interest in the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final in favor of the New York Rangers. If the Los Angeles Kings win, it would move the Stanley Cup Center of Gravity further in the direction of the United States.What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is the Stanley Cup Center of Gravity? It’s a concept we came up with, which is calculated by averaging the geographic location of all Stanley Cup winners. (There’s some room for debate about which team qualifies as the first champion, but we date the series back to 1915 and the Vancouver Millionaires.)After 1968, for example — the first Stanley Cup contested during the NHL’s expansion era — the Stanley Cup Center of Gravity was in southern Ontario, a little to the northwest of Toronto. It steadily moved eastward through 1983, with teams such as the Canadiens, the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders winning the Stanley Cup consistently. At one point, it breached the shores of Lake Ontario.The rest of the 1980s saw a sharp shift in a west-northwest direction, as the Edmonton Oilers won five Stanley Cups and the Calgary Flames added another. As of 1990, the Stanley Cup Center of Gravity was somewhere near Owen Sound, Ontario.The long streak of U.S.-based winners has since moved the Center of Gravity to the south-southeast. It crossed into Lake Huron a few years ago. And, after the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in 2012, it shifted to the American side of the maritime border. U.S.A.!A Rangers win would move the Center of Gravity eastward toward Ontario — not enough to bring it back into Canadian waters, but it would be close. By comparison, another Kings win would shift it to the south and west, putting it on the U.S. mainland for the first time in many decades — near Sandusky, Michigan.P.S. Ever hear the one about the statistician who drowned crossing a river that was 3 feet deep, on average? read more

Skeptical Football The Playoffs Are A Trial By Fire

While the wild-card round of this year’s NFL playoffs was wild, a lot of the action followed familiar scripts: Skeptical Football regular Andrew Luck continued to impress in the Indianapolis Colts’ win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Detroit Lions jumped out to a big lead — uncomfortable territory for gunslinger extraordinaire Matthew Stafford — against the Dallas Cowboys and, sure enough, Tony Manning Romo successfully engineered a double-digit comeback victory — though possibly with a little help from the officials. The Carolina Panthers brought their record back to (exactly) .500 for the first time since October against the Carson Palmer-less Arizona Cardinals. And the Baltimore Ravens beat high-flying Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the road.But while the wild-card games were a nice diversion, the big guns will only come out after the bye.This weekend will see the playoff debuts of last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos and the potentially historic Seattle Seahawks, along with the ever-contending New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers’ enigmatic Aaron Rodgers.1As we know, a New England vs. Green Bay Super Bowl matchup is inevitable.At this stage of the playoffs, there are an equal number of bye teams and wild-card game alums. Not only are the bye teams better-rested and more accomplished, but they have home-field advantage — both this week and against any surviving non-bye teams in the conference championships. So our eventual Super Bowl winner will almost certainly come from that cohort, right?If recent history is a guide, the answer is no. The wild-card veterans have more than held their own, winning seven of the past 14 Super Bowl trophies.Consider what this takes: First, having just won a game for the right to make the final eight, a team has to turn around and play a fresh top-two seed in the divisional round — on the road. And if it wins that game, more often than not it has to play the other top seed — on the road. And if it wins again, more often than not it has to play one of the other conference’s top seeds in the Super Bowl.Compare that to the route a bye team takes: It plays only two playoff games before the Super Bowl, and at least one of them is at home, against a lower seed.While anyone with a rooting interest would prefer his team take the easier road, teams that do manage to survive the playoffs’ “trial by fire” are disproportionately successful the deeper into the postseason they get.This chart goes back to the introduction of the salary cap in 1994. Prior to the 1997 John Elway-led Broncos victory, few teams survived the trial by fire (“TBF”) for long (i.e., none made the Super Bowl), so I typically consider that the start of the TBF era.As we would expect, a large share of TBF teams (meaning wild-card round veterans) are eliminated by their higher-seeded opponents right away. Over the entire period, TBFers won just 24 of 80 divisional round games (30.0 percent). And in the TBF era, including 1997, they’ve done only slightly better, winning 21 of 64 games (32.8 percent).But if they survive that second game, all bets are off. Since 1997, of those 21 TBF teams who made it to the conference championship games, 17 faced a top-two-seeded bye team on the road (the other four faced each other). The TBF teams in that scenario won 9 of the 17 games (52.9 percent) they played.2I should also note that the overall 45 percent win rate in this round in the salary cap era is still extremely high for road teams against higher-seeded competition. That’s right, TBFers who made the conference round have won a majority of their games against bye teams, despite playing in hostile territory.Those nine all faced another top-two seed from the other conference in the Super Bowl — such as the New York Giants against the then 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007 — and seven of nine triumphed. Overall, TBF teams have an 8-3 record in Super Bowls (in the salary cap era), including a 6-1 record in their last seven appearances.That one losing team was the Arizona Cardinals,3One of the TBF teams that had to beat another TBF team in its conference championship rather than beating both top seeds. who lost 27-23 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, but covered the 6.5-point spread. TBF teams have gone 10-0-1 against the spread in Super Bowls, and 11-6 in conference championships since 1997.That stunning 21-6-1 record against the line is meaningful even if you’re not a sports bettor. It means that this phenomenon isn’t just an artifact of stronger teams happening to be lower seeds for incidental reasons. TBFers legitimately exceeded expectations — even market expectations.It also makes it fairly unlikely that the phenomenon is purely a result of chance. The probability of going 21-6 on what should be a 50/50 proposition is roughly 0.002, or about 1 in 500.Of course, 1-in-500 events happen all the time, so it could just be that these teams have gotten lucky. But the probability that an unlikely phenomenon results from something other than chance is proportional to how plausible the other explanations are. If a coin comes up tails on 21 of 27 flips, you say “wow,” but the coin is still unlikely to be weighted. But say a tennis player wins 21 of 27 matches — she could have gotten lucky, but a more likely explanation is that she’s good.And in this case — while perhaps not accounting for all the good fortune TBF teams have seen — there are plenty of reasons to expect the TBF phenomenon to exist and persist.4Though I would expect the market to adjust accordingly.The first reason — at which I’ve already strongly hinted — is that, by virtue of the tougher road that TBF teams face to get deeper into the playoffs, their continued presence tells us more about their quality than that of their bye-having opponents.At the very minimum, the team that wins the wild-card round has one more win going into later rounds than its regular-season record. In some cases, this is enough to cover or exceed any gap between it and a higher-seeded team. Such is the case with this year’s Cowboys, who, at 13-4, now possess the best record in football (though they will still be on the road against the Packers). Moreover, that extra win didn’t come against an average NFL team, it came against a playoff team, meaning it’s probably worth a little more than an average win.With each road win against top competition, a TBF team’s pedigree gets stronger and stronger. A lot of teams win a lot of games without ever getting road wins against top teams.Obviously upsets happen, and they don’t always mean that the upsetting team is a secret powerhouse. But such upsets are much more likely to happen if the upsetting team is actually better than previously thought (such as when it’s actually much better than its record or playoff seed would indicate). So as a matter of Bayesian inference, it’s not so shocking that teams that accomplish one seemingly unlikely result may continue to accomplish more.In subsequent rounds, a TBF team’s opposition has also won playoff games, but against weaker opponents and usually at home. Since these are more expected results, they have much less of an impact on our assessment of those teams.As a test case, if the playoffs were seeded completely randomly, we would expect to see this effect: A team that had won three road games would be a favorite over one that had won two home games, simply because winning on the road is harder.And the real case can be much more drastic: By the time we get to the Super Bowl, we may have a TBF team — which got there by winning three road games against the top three teams in its conference — facing off against a bye team that has won only two playoff games, at home, against teams with worse records.The problem with that explanation is that it only gets us so far. With an entire season of games under their belts, the difference between a big underdog and a big favorite shouldn’t be reversible merely as a result of three strong wins versus two mediocre wins.Unless those wins come in games that are substantially more important to our assessment of those teams than normal games.5For a somewhat extreme example: This is what things would be like if team quality in the NFL behaved like a ladder ranking, where each time a team beats a team of higher quality, it assumes the other’s position. Under such circumstances, a team like the 2011 New York Giants would have been a favorite against the 2011 New England Patriots by virtue of having beaten the 15-1 Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round. Playoff wins seem to be just that.Normally I’m somewhat skeptical of taking whether a team is “hot” or not too seriously. In regular-season contexts, recent performance is typically not much more predictive of future performance than past performance is. But the NFL playoffs appear to be an exception. That the results of playoff games are more indicative of a team’s quality makes sense. It’s easy to speculate on any number of reasons:Playoff rosters are more current, reflecting injuries, trades and the like.Playoff results are unlikely to be affected by the various late-season tactical strategies that teams employ, whether that be “tanking” to get a top draft pick, resting starters to avoid injury and fatigue, etc.Although I reserve my right to skepticism, it’s possible that playoff football actually does have a different nature than regular-season football — whether because playing strong teams entails a different skill set than beating up on scrubs, or because playoff games are more likely to be played in cold weather, or something else.There’s a phenomenon that I think is real by which teams often “save” something for the playoffs or more high-leverage situations in the regular season — such as innovative or “trick” plays.Using a couple of different regression methods to estimate the value of a playoff win relative to a regular-season one, I’ve come up with figures as high as one playoff game being worth three to five regular-season games.6This can be somewhat reproduced by using an Elo system with a very high k (meaning calibrated to adjust very rapidly). But this whole line of analysis is tainted because it’s ex post facto. That is, we already knew there was some effect, because that effect is the reason we’re looking into it. So measuring its strength kind of begs the question.We could just modestly assume a mid-sized multiplier (like each playoff game being worth two to three regular-season games), but before we start artfully reflecting on our priors, it would be nice to have a little more insight into the nature of what’s going on.The league only adopted the 12-team, four-bye playoff structure in 1990, and introduced the salary cap in 1994. The “trial by fire” phenomenon begins to appear in earnest shortly after that, yielding its first Super Bowl contender in 1997, and has seemed to get even stronger in recent years with TBF teams actually winning six of the last nine Super Bowls. The emergence of this effect has coincided with the supposed era of “parity” in the NFL — so it’s tempting to think that it may just result from lower-seeded teams getting stronger. Here’s a comparison of how the winning percentage of TBF teams versus bye teams in each round has changed over time, as well as the winning percentages of TBF teams versus bye teams in the regular season:The difference between a TBF team and a typical bye team in the regular season hasn’t changed much, with bye teams having won those matchups around 70 percent of the time. That seems high, but it’s partly because the bye teams have better records and/or hold head-to-head tiebreakers to get in their position. The key isn’t the raw value, it’s that the trend has remained essentially flat. In other words, “parity” — the bogeyman often used to explain a variety of NFL phenomena — probably isn’t the answer.From the other panes, we can see that the percentage of TBF teams winning in subsequent rounds has risen sharply in each case. Considering the sample sizes, those trends certainly shouldn’t be considered too probative individually, but the consistency between them supports the idea that the importance of playoff games has been on the rise.7We would also expect it to rise more sharply in later stages is because the effect is compounding.Is it reasonable to think that this reflects a real development in the game?I think so. At least anecdotally, I think teams have been getting more strategic about playing for the playoffs, and treating the regular season as more of a qualifying period than an end in its own right. Not only have we seen a lot of resting of players (where QBs like Brett Favre used to take every snap to the bitter end) and tanking, but we’ve also seen things like experimenting with young quarterbacks, and benching reasonably decent ones as a scapegoating maneuver.Also, football has evolved into more of a passing or finesse/strategy game, which may be contributing to teams sometimes being substantially better or worse at different times in the season (for example, if you figure out how to use a previously unheralded third receiver in a particularly effective way, it may transform your offense overnight). And this may make matchups more important as well. When the balance of power between teams rests on intricate relationships of many variables rather than just size and strength, it’s easy to see how matchup problems might hinder a team’s regular-season outcomes, or bolster its playoff ones — depending on whom it faces.But I’m not sure any of this gets us 100 percent of the way there. In fact, virtually nothing explains the status quo over the last 14 years (much less the past nine), wherein divisional road teams have been winning as many (or more) Super Bowls as their home opponents.That is, to some extent, just freaky-deaky. Let me demonstrate by imagining an absurd case: Say there were one single best team in the playoffs, and that team won every game it played, and thus won the Super Bowl 100 percent of the time — and then assume playoff seeding were completely random. Since twice as many teams play in the wild-card round as those that get byes, the Super Bowl winner would end up being a TBFer two-thirds of the time. Thus, under the most absurdly extreme case imaginable, we would still expect the “trial by fire” to produce a champion at the same rate that the real-world trial by fire has over the past nine years.That absurd case is so crazy that it’s very unlikely that the TBF trend will continue as vigorously as it has in recent years. But I wouldn’t expect the phenomenon to go away, either. I expect that teams that win against strong opponents in a playoff environment will continue to be extremely dangerous, regardless of appearances.Sizing up the wild-card winnersOne thing we can do practically and theoretically is to consider what types of teams are most likely to exhibit the TBF power-up effect. So let’s take a gander at this year’s winners in the wild-card round.Dallas and Indianapolis are two division-winners who won in the wild-card round against fairly strong teams (the 11-5 Detroit Lions and 10-5-1 Cincinnati Bengals, respectively), and who weren’t that far behind their rivals to begin with. Counting the playoffs, Indianapolis now has the same number of wins as the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, and as of this moment Dallas has the best record in football (at 13-4). Both the Cowboys and the Colts face tough road games against the Packers at Lambeau and the Mannings in Denver. That makes it less likely that they’ll be picking up the TBF banner — unless they win. The difficulty of these games would make victories in them even more meaningful.The Baltimore Ravens had probably the most impressive win in the bye round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have experience winning championships “the hard way” twice. And they’re playing the Patriots, who have been vulnerable to TBFers before. Since winning their last championship in 2004, the Patriots are only 5-4 against TBF teams as a bye team themselves, most notably losing to the Giants in the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls, and to the eventual-champion Ravens in the 2012 AFC championship game.Of course, the most fun TBF case would be if the Carolina Panthers somehow kept winning. But at the moment, they haven’t accomplished much. In addition to their awful regular-season record, it’s not clear that beating the Arizona Cardinals without Carson Palmer on the field meant much (the Cards ended up 0-3 with Ryan Lindley starting this year). But if the Panthers somehow pull off a win against the powerhouse Seattle Seahawks this week, watch out!Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum. read more

10 years later Game of the Century redux

It’s been a decade since OSU fans were treated to what is arguably one of the greatest college football games to ever be played. So much so, Big Ten Network aired a special documentary on the Game of the Century 10 years after OSU defeated Michigan in Ohio Stadium, 42-39.One of redshirt senior center Pat Elflein’s first memories of OSU vs. Michigan football happened to be that very game.“The (No. 1 vs. No. 2)  game, that one will go down in history,” he said. In the decade since, times have changed for both sides. While Michigan has struck gold with the presence of veteran players such as junior linebacker Jabrill Peppers, senior tight end Jake Butt and redshirt senior Amara Darboh, OSU has depended on contributions from underclassmen such as redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber and sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker.In 2006, names like Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Leon Hall led the Wolverines. For OSU, the household names were Troy Smith, James Laurinaitis and Antonio Pittman.Former OSU wide receiver Roy Hall (8) runs with the ball during a game against Michigan on Nov. 18, 2006. Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe hype coming into the 2006 game was amplified with the death of long-time Michigan coach Bo Schembechler at age 77 the night before the game. Wolverine faithful began using the passing of their beloved former coach as a battle cry to find a way to knock off OSU. In 2006, the ability of Pittman’s legs and Smith’s arm propelled the Buckeyes to victory and a berth in the BCS National Championship, which OSU eventually lost. Michigan’s largest offensive contributions came from Henne and Hart.Defense was the name of the game for both teams, as OSU had been allowing just 10.4 points per game, and Michigan giving up just 14.6. 10 years later, the ability of both defenses has been flipped, as Michigan is allowing just 10.9 points per game, while the Buckeyes give up an average of 13 points in each matchup.Even with such stout defenses, each team racked up points in a hurry in 2006. The same could very well happen on Saturday, with both sides presenting a dynamic offense similar to the team that walked onto the Ohio Stadium field 10 years ago.The wide receiving unit for Michigan in 2006 had soon-to-be NFL talents on it such as Mario Manningham and Steve Breaston. This time around, the presence of senior wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson will put the OSU secondary to test. Although each holds a similar knack for catching the ball and scoring much like the players from a decade ago, OSU redshirt junior Gareon Conley is excited to play against such talented wideouts.“Both their receivers are good,” he said. “They go against press everyday so they’re going to be good at going against us. That’ll be a good challenge, and I’m just ready to go out and play against them.”In the backfield for OSU, Weber, a 5-foot-9 running back with quick feet, is known more for his ability to bulldoze defenders than for his breakaway speed. However, against Michigan State, he showed off his wheels with a 52-yard rush past multiple Spartan defenders. Pittman was known for his speed while in Columbus.OSU is led by an intelligent quarterback in redshirt junior J.T. Barrett, who has been criticized for his apparent lack of arm strength while throwing the ball downfield. Smith was also judged during his time with OSU for being too small to be a signal caller, but proved all doubters wrong with the 2006 Heisman Trophy. Michigan benefits from having a do-it-all force with Peppers, and has a similar force at running back as they had in 2006. While Hart had speed but could break his fair share of tackles, Michigan running back De’Veon Smith is difficult to bring down thanks to his 228-pound frame.Redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis is not afraid of the challenge of facing a similar force in the run game.“I like playing against the run,” he said. “I like playing over top of the tight end. I like good football. You spread them out. It doesn’t really matter to me because every team has their scheme with what they’re going to do. But at the end of the day, it’s about who’s going to put their hand in the dirt and just going. You can play whatever formation you want to play, we’re going to play whatever defense we have to to dominate.”The players’ names have changed for both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines since the game 10 years ago, but the playmaking ability remains. Even with the title of Game of the Century previously given to the 2006 installment of The Game, the game this Saturday could make its case. read more