The Confidential

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Sports: The False Religion

In an era where sports figures are compensated like railroad tycoons of the 1800’s, it is difficult to remember a time when even professional athletes had to get “other jobs” in the offseason to pay the bills.  It is only in the past 50 years that salaries have risen to levels so disproportionate to the “ordinary man.”  This change, of course, also coincides with television.  Television brought the athletes into the living room, and brought advertising dollars from the living room into the athletes’ respective pockets.  With that, sports has turned into a religion, with athletes serving as gods.  There are sp many examples of this, that this topic may turn into a series on this blog.  If so, then consider this part 1.

So let’s start at the beginning.  Now, you might think that athletes are not revered as gods.  But this is only incorrect in that it leaves out the coaches and other personalities.  If you think Joe Paterno was not treated like a god among Penn State fans, then why did two things happen: (a) a statue–i.e. a graven image–of Joe Paterno was erected; and (b) the removal of the statue following the well-known scandal was handled so poorly by the Penn State fan base.  See  Do you think it was any different when a local tribe 3,500 years ago had its golden calf, or whatever, damaged by another tribe?  We erect statues to our athletes just as ancient civilizations created graven images of their gods.  And when allegations arose, Penn State fans blindly defended Paterno with a zeal that can only be described as “faith.”

Paterno, of course, was legendary at Penn State.  He was there a long time, won a lot of games, and donated a ton of money to the school.  Who knows what kind of person he was?  Maybe he was great, maybe he was subpar.  Maybe he was a good man, maybe he was not.  But even for players and coaches far below Paterno’s local influence, how many Internet arguments take place every day regarding their merits.  How many arguments take place over mundane sorts of things as “disrespecting my team.”  Entire blogs with hundreds of comments because a team was not ranked in the top 10.  This author has seen arguments on a Syracuse blog because–although Syracuse was ranked #1–some voters did not have vote Syracuse #1.  Good grief.  This passion is nearly religious.

Even worse, sports fans have gradually given more and more credit and fame to those athletes that are LEAST godly.  Treating players like gods, despite them not acting godly.  Quite a paradox.

When a player says he “is the best,” that is applauded despite being the opposite of humility and modesty.  When a player leaves a good situation team-wise to go to a lesser-team for more money, that is applauded despite the obvious greed and covetousness.  When a player has children out of wedlock across the country, that is ignored in the hope that merely sending some amount of money in that direction will be a substitute for having a real father and family.  And that is all without delving into the adultery, spousal abuse, and other violent crimes that are perpetrated by athletes and ignored by fans of the player (even if not by fans of opposing teams).

Sure, some lesser players will get thrown to the wolves.  A struggling player will fail a steroid test and be suspended for a year.  A fading star that abuses his wife publicly will lose his job.  The NCAA will sanction some schools, but allow more traditional and elite schools to get away with much more.  These are no different than sacrifices.  Does anyone really have confidence in the punishment decisions handed out by the NCAA or the professional leagues?  Of course not.  And that is without even getting into international sports and the Olympics.

Yes, sorry, sports is a religion these days.  It can be a distraction, but it often gets far too close to religion.  We see this elsewhere in society too–people arguing over politics (as if any of the candidates are ever truly worthy), reality TV, music, and whatever else the sheep are led to distraction by.  But sports seems to be the worst at that.  Otherwise good and reasonable people are more than willing to become drunk, disorderly, obnoxious, arrogant, and argumentative over sports.  All for a false religion.

What do you think?  Has sports become the equivalent of a religion in our society?





The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

A Quick Look at the ACC Schools’ Out-of-Conference Opponents

The Confidential has already done its over-under projections for each team in 2016.  In doing so, it became obvious that some ACC teams are scheduling tough, and some ACC teams are scheduling weak opponents.  Let’s take a closer look (bold games are rivalries or conference-dictated games with Notre Dame).

  • Boston College: UMass, Wagner, Buffalo, UConn
  • Clemson: Auburn, Troy, S Carolina State, South Carolina
  • Duke: NC Central, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Army
  • FSU: Ole Miss, Charleston Southern, USF, Florida
  • Georgia Tech: Mercer, Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, Georgia
  • Louisville: Charlotte, Marshall, Houston, Kentucky
  • Miami: Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, Notre Dame
  • North Carolina: Georgia, Illinois, James Madison, Citadel
  • North Carolina State: William & Mary, East Carolina, Old Dominion, Notre Dame
  • Pittsburgh: Villanova, Penn State, Oklahoma State, Marshall
  • Syracuse: Colgate, USF, UConn, Notre Dame
  • Virginia: Richmond, Oregon, UConn, Central Michigan
  • Virginia Tech: Liberty, Tennessee, East Carolina, Notre Dame
  • Wake Forest: Tulane, Delaware, Indiana, Army

The Annual Greg Schiano Pansy Scheduling Award:

Boston College–after years of decent, tough scheduling, the Eagles decided to go to the opposite extreme with UConn being the toughest opponent.  Not a single P5 opponent, which is unique to the conference and earns this spot.

Runner-up: Wake Forest gets the nod by having Indiana on its schedule.  Do not sleep on Tulane under its new coach. Army is never a pushover either.

The To Be The Best, You Must Beat the Best Award:

Pittsburgh: After a great leap last year, the Panthers are looking to not only win the Coastal, but make playoff noise if they can win out.  Villanova is a tougher-than-normal FCS opponent.  Then, Penn State and Oklahoma State will be two huge out-of-conference tussles.  Marshall is no slouch either, especially for a late-season game.

Runner-up: North Carolina is taking on an SEC foe and a Big 10 foe (albeit Illinois).  Although Virginia Tech has Tennessee and Notre Dame, the latter was dictated by the ACC.  Credit to the Hokies, but UNC did its two major conference opponents 100% voluntarily.

The That’s Just How Champions Schedule Award:

Clemson (tie): With South Carolina at the back end of the schedule, Clemson still went ahead and scheduled Auburn at the front end.  When you are in the hunt for the playoffs year-after-year, only then does scheduling matter and Clemson is doing the right thing by having two SEC schools.  Not Clemson’s fault if South Carolina is/becomes a dumpster fire.

Florida State (tie): Florida State added Mississippi to Florida,  This may be an even tougher combination than Clemson’s.  Or it may not be.  Either way, credit to the Seminoles for scheduling tough, as a potential playoff team should.

If we had to rank the schedule difficulty, without regard to how the teams were scheduled, we would do it this way

  1. Florida State–USF as a third opponent trumps Troy
  2. Clemson–see above
  3. Virginia Tech–Tennessee and Notre Dame are two very difficult opponents for the Hokies
  4. Pittsburgh–Penn State and Oklahoma State are two very difficult opponents scheduled voluntarily, while Villanova and Marshall are local teams with the motivation to ruin Pitt’s season
  5. North Carolina–like Pitt, UNC had to get Georgia and Illinois on its schedule without the ACC’s help.  Still, it is only Illinois.
  6. Duke–the ACC forced Duke’s hand on Notre Dame, but Northwestern is a quality add.
  7. Georgia Tech–Georgia is an annual foe, but Vanderbilt is a second P5 school.
  8. Louisville–Kentucky is what it is… the Indiana of the SEC.  Houston will/should be very good. A very challenging schedule, on top of Clemson/FSU.
  9. Syracuse–usually at the top of this list, Notre Dame keeps Syracuse above many schools, while USF is a good AAC team.  Probably.  Neither USF or UConn are P5 teams.
  10. Virginia–Oregon will be tough, the remainder is not
  11. NC State–Notre Dame is tough, East Carolina is good.  William & Mary and Old Dominion?
  12. Miami–Notre Dame and little else, although App State is always capable of the upset, while the local schools will WANT to win badly
  13. Wake Forest–Indiana is what keeps Wake Forest out of the basement.  Pretty sad.
  14. B.C.–when UConn anchors your OOC schedule, you have made your path as easy as possible.  A team that upset USC a few years ago is capable of a little bit more challenge than this.

What do you think?  Did we get these awards/rankings right or wrong?




Survivor Pool: Entry Spots Remain

The Confidential’s Survivor Pool is back for 2016!  2015 went down to the wire… see results here.  For 2016, we are back, continuing the double-elimination format!  Sign up today!

We are limiting this to the first 100 entrants.  Last year’s entrants were given a heads up to join.  Now opening this up to all ACC fans. 

Winner gets $50.00 via PayPal.  See the official rules here:

Pool ID Number: 115035
Pool Entry Code: n*rbaa

With thousands of ACC fans, sign up today!

Around the A.C.C.: August 23, 2016

As we all patiently and not-so-patiently await the start of the college football season, there is not much actual news to report.  Every blog and newspaper covering every A.C.C. school is knee-deep in their articles about why each and every player is going to surprise everyone this year, giving hope (and often false hope) to fans.  So be it.  That is what makes college sports so fun.  The hope is legitimate.  Anyway, here is what is happening at several schools:

So there it is… August 23, 2016.  Football is coming, folks.  Hang in there.


2016 Syracuse Football–Are Any Prognosticators Optimistic?

The Confidential has already disclosed its over-under for Syracuse, placing it at 4.5 regular season wins.  Turns out, many are projecting Syracuse to win 3 or fewer games, and perhaps even finish last in the ACC Atlantic.  Well, for whatever its worth, Las Vegas used an over-under of 4 wins for Syracuse.  But, most of the feedback to the Confidential was that 4.5 regular season wins was a fair estimate given the new coaching staff, existing talent, and the typical overscheduling by the Orange.  But any prognosticators projecting Syracuse to go “over” the 4.5 regular season win total?  Did some research today.  Turns out there are some:

TodaysU predicts that the Orange will go 5-7, beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, and Boston College.

CollegeFootball News was more optimistic for the Orange, predicting 6-6.  They have Syracuse beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

CampusInsiders, similarly, has Syracuse at 6-6 by beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

Way back in January, Brent Axe predicted 5-7, with wins over Colgate, UConn, Wake Forest, Boston College, and NC State.

The NunesMagician blog also did some “fuzzy math” projections in January, coming up with 4.6 wins.  Hey, it’s “over” the 4.5 over-under!

SB Nation had a TON of analysis of the 2016 Orange football team, settling on 5.5 wins.  Definitely check out that article.

So… Syracuse fans… not everyone is doom and gloom.  There is some reason to not already look ahead to 2017 and instead see the very real possibility of a bowl game in 2016.

Did we miss anyone’s positive preview/projection?  What do you think?


Still Room for the Confidential ACC Survivor League!

The Confidential’s Survivor Pool is back for 2016!  2015 went down to the wire… see results here.  For 2016, we are back, continuing the double-elimination format!  Sign up today!

We are limiting this to the first 100 entrants.  Last year’s entrants were given a heads up to join.  Now opening this up to all ACC fans. 

Winner gets $50.00 via PayPal.  See the official rules here:

Pool ID Number: 115035
Pool Entry Code: n*rbaa

With thousands of ACC fans, sign up today!

The Confidential’s ACC Football Over-Unders

Every year, the Confidential does over-unders for each ACC school, based solely on the regular season.  In 2014, we had 6 schools correctly pegged within 1/2 a win of their ultimate totals.  In 2015, we improved to 7 schools correctly pegged within a 1/2 a win of their ultimate total.  And now it is on to 2016.  Remember, these are regular season wins only.  No bowl games or playoffs.  Here is the final tally of the Confidential’s over-unders for 2016:

Clemson: 11.5 wins

Notre Dame: 10.5 wins

Florida State: 9.5 wins

Miami: 8.5 wins

North Carolina: 8.5 wins

Louisville: 7.5 wins

Virginia Tech: 7.5 wins

Pitt: 7.5 wins

Duke: 6.5 wins

North Carolina State: 5.5 wins

Georgia Tech: 5.5 wins

Virginia: 5.5 wins

Boston College: 5.5 wins

Syracuse: 4.5 wins

Wake Forest: 3.5 wins

By far, the most controversial selection was Louisville at only 7.5 wins.  However, with road trips to Syracuse, Marshall, Virginia, Boston College, and Houston–it is asking a lot of the Cardinals to avoid tripping up against three of its four easiest conference games and two challenging OOC games.  Meanwhile, Florida State and Clemson remain on the schedule.  Notre Dame at 10.5 wins surprised some folks too, but look at who the Fighting Irish play and where.  In any event, it is what it is.  The Coastal, of course, is a mess.  Would any team winning it be a true surprise?  Meanwhile, the Atlantic has NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest in a perpetual battle to avoid the cellar, it seems.

What do you think?  Would you raise Louisville and Florida State?  Lower Notre Dame or Clemson?  How many over-unders do you think will end up within 1 game (i.e. 5.5 wins resulting in 5 or 6 wins)?


The Confidential’s 2016 Football Over-Under: Clemson

Last year, the Confidential unveiled over-unders for each ACC school.  For Clemson, the over-under was set at 10 regular season wins.  Ultimately, the Tigers had an awesome season, going 12-0 (ultimately 14-1).  But now it is on to 2016.  The Confidential sets the over-under for Clemson at 11.5 regular season wins.

Here is the schedule for 2016, courtesy of a great football site:

9/3 Sat @ Auburn
9/10 Sat vs. Troy
9/17 Sat vs. South Carolina State
9/22 Thu @ *Georgia Tech
10/1 Sat vs. *Louisville
10/7 Fri @ *Boston College
10/15 Sat vs. *North Carolina State
10/29 Sat @ *Florida State
11/5 Sat vs. *Syracuse
11/12 Sat vs. *Pittsburgh
11/19 Sat @ *Wake Forest
11/26 Sat vs. South Carolina

Very likely wins: Troy, South Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Boston College, NC State, Syracuse, Pitt, Wake Forest, South Carolina

Very likely losses: None

Verdict: Clemson is the best team in the A.C.C. unless the prove otherwise.  With a Heisman candidate at QB and an experienced team at many positions, how can anyone be confident that Clemson will not run the table again?  Well, upsets happen in college football.  Pretty much every year.  So Clemson could be upset by someone.  Still, the only games with realistic potential for non-upset losses are Auburn to begin the season and Florida State, neither of which are home games.  Better teams have stumbled with less difficult schedules.  So, while Clemson and ACC fans may be rooting for Clemson to go undefeated, it will be difficult.  Still, the Confidential will set the over-under for the loaded Tigers at 11.5 wins.

What do you think?  Will Clemson go over or under 11.5 regular season wins?


A Sad State of Affairs: Jim Boeheim & Politics

This author grew up in the shadow of the Carrier Dome and has defended Jim Boeheim for years.  When he was getting unexpectedly bounced from the Big Dance, this author defended him.  When Keith Smart hit that jumper, this author defended him.  After forty years of sharing Syracuse basketball together, there have been few instances of criticism.  When the Bernie Fine saga broke, it was suggested that perhaps the “all-in” strategy was risky, calling victims liars and resulting in a lawsuit against him.  So take this next criticism for what it is–a rarity.

In his report from the Olympics, Jim Boeheim strayed from the expected topics–you know, basketball, the Olympics, and Rio–to discuss American politics.  He specifically stated the following:

You don’t see the news down here. Not much, anyway. So we don’t talk a lot about Donald Trump. But I will say that it’s a sad state of affairs that he could be running for president.

He appeals to a certain radicalized part of the country that basically hates everything that’s going on, without reason. I hope, and think, that when we vote in November the American people will wake up and there will be the greatest landslide in our nation’s political history.

But like I said, we don’t talk about that stuff too much. We’re here to play eight games in 15 days and try to win a gold medal. That’s keeping us pretty busy.

Boeheim did not just express a “preference,” he came right out and criticized Donald Trump, belittled Trump’s followers, insulted those who think our country can and should be doing better, and went beyond “all-in” with respect to Hillary Clinton.

Look, Boeheim can do what he pleases.  He can stay 1,000 miles from politics.  He can ride in Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus and get a tattoo of her logo on his face.  It is his life to do what he pleases.

However, he has clearly and intentionally insulted a significant portion of his fan base and the country.  He has insulted this author.  Though this article is written from the sun belt, it is written by a Syracuse fan from birth that has lived most of his life dealing with lake effect snow and scarves.  Relative to substance, although the writer of this article seriously questions the direction of our country socially, politically, and religiously… it is with good reason and far from “without reason.”

To be sure, the fairest characterization is that both candidates are demonstrative of a “sad state of affairs.”  While Donald Trump is a poor candidate, Hillary Clinton is an equally poor candidate.  The former says some really dumb things, while the latter has done some really dumb things.  And vice-versa.  Neither inspire confidence, which makes their respective nominations all the more disconcerting if you really think about it.  Although the Justice Department punted–or perhaps even “quick kicked” when comparing the explanation with the result–on the investigation into Clinton’s emails, has there ever been a major party candidate with such a history of scandal leading up to and including an FBI investigation during the campaign?

But Jim Boeheim did not say that or anything similar.  Instead, he took a clear, specific position that just so happened to insult a portion of his fan base and the country.  And, without even getting to whether he is “right” or “wrong,” Jim Boeheim has his own history of improper statements and behavior that make him a poor spokesperson on politics or morals.  Want to investigate?  How about these “sad states of affairs” involving Syracuse basketball under Boeheim:

  • Casual Hoya lists a number of arrests involving Syracuse basketball players over Boeheim’s lengthy career.  A large number of rape allegations.
  • In 1992, Syracuse was placed on probation for two years, including a one-year post-season ban from the NCAA tournament for recruiting violations.
  • Although Boeheim called the victims’ liars, the general consensus was that there was some credibility to the accusations against Boeheim’s long-time assistant coach Bernie Fine (who was ultimately terminated by Syracuse).  Boeheim has been sued for his comments.
  • In 2015, Syracuse basketball was again sanctioned by the NCAA–fairly severely–for violations of a several-year period.

Given the sexual scandals at Syracuse involving players and assistant coaches, and given Bill Clinton’s history, perhaps Boeheim and Hillary do have something in common.

Regardless, Boeheim has criticized the NCAA for sanctioning him for not knowing what was going on within the Syracuse program academically.  Boeheim has claimed to not know what was going on inside his program relative to Bernie Fine and alleged molestation of children.  Boeheim seems to have a lot on his plate keeping him from already doing his job to the fullest.  In the meantime, there is no need for him to do a “bull in the china shop” routine in the delicate, political landscape.  (Parenthetically, what did he mean by Trump “could be” running for President?  Was this article written in early 2015?).

And do we really need entertainers using their cult of personality to influence politics?  That seems to be an even sadder state of affairs.  Americans should know who to vote for without knowing how any other famous person is voting.

For now, there is no protest or significant backlash.  Boeheim has a long history of dumb statements that will cause many of his critics to move on quickly.  Many Boeheim supporters will shrug off or rationalize these comments with the same vigor that Trump’s supporters shrug off or rationalize Trump’s ill-advised statements.  The funny thing is that, in the end, isn’t this a pot criticizing a kettle?   Another sad state of affairs.

What do you think?  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Boeheim, do you find it in poor taste for him to include that political opinion in his report from Rio?   

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