Friday, September 30, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/30/05

So ready is the iron to burn, that it takes, under certain circumstances, even less time to catch fire than gunpowder.

Michael Faraday

The Correlation of the Physical Forces

Delivered before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, December 1859

The test of any great idea is its ability to withstand falsification. Under control conditions, can the hypothesis be observed in supportable evidence? Can causal factors be accommodated within its framework and other possibilities be excluded? Thus is a theory borne.

A common attack on science is to take issue with its persnickety refusal to call things sacred, to always apply tests to what it observes rather than give up the ghost. “What do you know for certain?” they ask the scientists. “Only process, never ending process” is the cold answer.

But to call a theory an idea and no more is unjust. To all known observation, the theory stands true. To any action taken, the theory holds. To every new idea, the theory sets fire – until it doesn’t.

Look out your window, neighbor. Mother is calling her children in from the yard for there are lessons to learn. Too few of them are made of marble. Too many of them slither from her den into the world where you live. It’s not that she’s tired of answering questions. She’s sick of there being questions at all.

Urban Meyer took his first step toward genius by splicing two schemes adopted out of desperation (Louisville’s spread attack with Air Force’s triple option), evolving them into a new beast to roam the earth via land and air, telling his quarterback to hit the treadmill and tossing deadweight to his receivers. The spread option is the Frankenstein’s monster of college football, where most other teams wind up as the little girl it drowns in the river. He’s created a schizophrenic hydra – at once old-school tough and scoreboard friendly – that’s surely the result of a sick mind.

Appropriately, Meyer’s initial SEC lab results are divergent. At home against Tennessee, his offense gasped and choked its way to an American League squad’s hit total. On the road against Kentucky, his team looked like they were playing against air.

The prophets in the desert don’t sweat genius, though. To them, intellect is only as good as points allowed. To them, the line began at four, then – as the money rolled in – chipped away half a point, then another, so that now a field goal yet to be kicked stands locked in their minds as the only difference between Florida and Alabama.

Which is preferable, that mistakes are avoided or overcome? A new hypothesis is taking hold in Tuscaloosa, bouncing along one mind to the next. The miserable finishes of recent years are expected but not delivered, and in there place stands a beautiful possibility half realized in Columbia conjoined with an ugly determination served against Arkansas last week. And now, into this memory of a shadow of a ghost of what it means for a football game to matter enters Urban Meyer and his mad experiment.

Everyone, find your lab partner.

Roll Tide.

5 comments:

Sports Junky said...
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Hayden Childs said...

See, posts like this are why some of us call you "that smart guy, J" behind your back. Strangely enough, this corresponds in some ways with my reading of late: Rebecca Goldstein's Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel. I think Godel's famous theorems would make some mighty fine grist for the U of AL Football Report mill.

J said...

Godel probably would be a good model for undestanding college football in the 21st century, as his main theories exposed inconsistencies from principles of 'utilitarian' calculus and football is a game designed in that era. The main paradox of his work, that some math must be true even in the absence of proof, fits nicely how most fans view their respective teams.

Hayden Childs said...

That's why we pay you the big bucks, my man.

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