The elephant whose sturgeon-like blood
insists it was or ought to be aquatic,
whose ears, like hairy crackle-glazed chopping boards,
are cheerfully agreeing to be fans,
fingers his marulas with a trunk
strong enough to paralyze a tiger...
--Selima Hill, "The Elephant Whose Sturgeon-like Blood,"
the Poetry Daily selection for 10/31/11
Just how big is tomorrow's game featuring LSU at Alabama?
Big enough for the Ivory Tower to get in on the act, apparently.
Big enough for the Atlantic to let Allen Barra troll the entire internet, too.
Big enough for CBS to pay a rival network for the option of showing the game in primetime.
Big enough for that rival network to set up camp all week on Alabama's campus, even though they're broadcasting a game hundreds of miles away.
Big enough for the NBA elite to cool their heels in a Tuscaloosa skybox (what else are they going to do?).
Big enough for Cecil Hurt to declare it, perhaps, the last of its breed.
Big enough for this blog to actually talk about football for a bit instead of banking deregulation.
So, yeah, pretty big.
Most people believe LSU, the #1 team in the nation, will win tomorrow, which is not surprising until you put money on it. Then you will discover that Vegas favors Alabama, slightly, only four points, but still a favorite.
The explanation comes down to confidence and cash: Even though more people, as seen through polling and raw numbers, believe the Bayou Bengals should win, their confidence isn't high. The money is coming in, yet the betting line hasn't budged.
Most bets for LSU, according to our most trustworthy sketchy characters, are coming in under $100 whether that's online gambling or the rooms in Vegas. Big money? As the song says, home is in Alabama no matter where you lay your head.
Which brings us to the matter at hand. Whom do you trust? The vox populi that's built from a nod here or there, or the select few who stake everything they have on the choice?
If you have sought respite from the constant drumbeat leading up to this game by watching physicist and popular science author Brian Greene's new series The Fabric of the Cosmos, then you're familiar with the Einsteinian concept of space-time, a four-dimensional fabric of our universe that illustrates how massive objects warp and curve reality through their gravity.
Were we to estimate the gravitational force of "hype," this week's game would be our test case: it is a black hole into which the Vegas line cannot escape.
According to Greene, the fundamental split between an ordered universe under general relativity and a chaotic one presented by quantum mechanics necessitated the creation of a unified idea that could bridge both worlds. Currently, the leading candidate is, in a form, string theory, whose mathematical models claim to explain the underlying particles of all natural forces, no matter how chaotic, and all matter, including the most massive.
However, because string theory remains mostly on the chalkboard and away from the laboratories and telescopes, it may be decades--if ever--before scientists confirm a solution to the problem between the universe's large, ordered processes and its random, chaotic particles.
College football fans need only wait another night.