Things I have learned recently:

  • People still don’t really get JNDI, and the Java frameworks around today make it easy to ignore, even though it’s still a core technology. It’s not difficult to see how it can be confusing: context in JNDI is everything, and context makes it a challenge to create examples that make sense in the general case.
  • At some point I’d like to learn Go.
  • Not something I’ve learned, but something I’ve been reflecting on this morning because … uh… I have no idea why: I wonder if Adidas shoes are any good, or what they’re good for. I tend to wear Vans Ultrarange shoes these days because they’re light, comfortable, and last forever – I have two working pairs, one for working in the yard and one for wearing – but… Adidas.
  • I really wish officials and announcers wouldn’t show bias during football games. As an FSU guy, I’m really, really, really tired of this – but I’ve been watching other teams’ bowl games (because FSU didn’t go bowling this year, first time in 40+ years) and it happens for them, too, often egregiously. The announcers I don’t care as much about, but the referees… those guys need to be fair, for real. The fact that there’s no urgency in making sure they’re fair is incredibly frustrating and erodes the game. n one game, a team had two defenders ejected for targeting… and the other team had an obvious false start missed, and a few targeting possibilities ignored by the guys in stripes. Let’s just say nope to all that. There needs to be a way for the league to tell these refs what they’re missing, and to either call it fairly or get out. It’s gotten really bad over the last few years, with FSU losing multiple games due to bad or missed calls.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Things I’ve learned recently:

  • Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is better than A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, I said it, and yes, I meant it. It’s very simple to explain why: Malazan was completed. I have very little faith we’ll ever see A Song of Ice and Fire to completion. What’s more, Malazan is more broad, more complex, more consistent in its own context. Take that, George. I love A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think it hits a sweet spot of complexity to mass appeal – which Malazan does not – but Malazan being “finishable” makes it better, hands down.
  • I have learned that I do not understand offensive coordinators in football who insist on running inside the tackles when the opposing team’s been shutting those down all game and you’re running out of time to make things happen. I got tired of seeing FSU do it all last year, and by golly, I’m tired of seeing it this bowl season over and over again, too. What gives, guys? I get the idea of making sure the other team has to respect the inside run – it draws the defense to cover the middle of the field, presumably opening up longer passes – but to use it over and over and over and over again, when the other team expects it? If I can call your plays without being familiar with your offense, something’s wrong with the way you’re calling your plays. And you can bet that the opposing team – which is going to have taken pains to learn your offense – is going to be able to predict what you’re doing fairly well, too.

Alabama-FSU, 24-7

Disappointed that FSU lost against Alabama. Alabama played a good game, and FSU obviously struggled mightily on special teams – shades of the nightmares of the 80s there.

I hope Deondre Francois is okay – and I also hope ALL of the injured players are okay. (Alabama had four players injured, none of them as severe as Francois’ injury as far as I can tell, but I hate seeing people get hurt.)

I keep seeing reports that FSU got “worn down,” and I think to some degree that’s true, but less than the reporting makes it sound – FSU killed itself more than Alabama did. Alabama played well, as expected, but it really took advantage of terrible plays by FSU more than creating errors; poor blocking on a punt, unforced turnovers on a kickoff…

Those interceptions were bad, yes, but those interceptions came after special teams problems dug a deep hole in the second half. To beat Alabama you have to play well, and those special teams errors created a situation where FSU had to take chances and make something magic happen.

Taking those chances didn’t work out in FSU’s favor; they made it worse. And so it goes.

In the end, FSU’s defense acquitted itself well; it’s hard to blame them for having 24 points hung on them when a lot of those points were from drives started deep in FSU territory through turnovers or special teams breakdowns.

And FSU’s offense actually showed some teeth and restraint; the key to beating Alabama is grinding well against them, and FSU actually did that, for the most part. FSU easily could have been tied with Alabama at the end of the first half. It’s when they were forced into breaking away from their game plan that things went downhill.

In the end, Alabama played a good game, and they deserved the win. Now FSU just has to hope that Deondre Francois is all right (for his own sake as well as the sake of the team, because right now he’s the guy) and recover.

Florida State Football: Why So Unprepared?

My sarcastic comment to my son during the Oregon/FSU game – where FSU got smeared like a bug on a shoe – was that at least FSU had the excuse of not having known who the opponent would be.

Except, of course, we did know that we were going to play Oregon.

I guess that maybe the excuse turns into “At least FSU didn’t have a way to examining any game film on Oregon, so the pace caught them by surprise.”

At least the latter part of that statement is true! FSU was caught flat-footed by a very fast-paced Oregon attack – the “Blur offense” – and had no answer for it. Add to that FSU’s turnovers, and you had a terrific win by Oregon in which FSU looked slow and outmatched and outcoached.

I don’t mind the loss. Losses happen. It’d be a poor person indeed who couldn’t handle losses – even bad ones.

I do mind being outcoached from top to bottom. We never really compensated for their defense; we never compensated for their offense.

We had weeks to make sure we were conditioned for Oregon’s pace. We knew what they wanted to do on offense. Why, why, why didn’t we come in ready for them? Why was FSU left to twist in the wind?

Well… why not, I suppose. It’s not like FSU came into any game this year looking like it was ready to play; FSU played every game from the third quarter on, and that’s just not a good way to win and stay winning. FSU was good enough to make it work every game until it ran into an opponent that was prepared from start to finish.

I’m glad to see loyalty in the program… but at some point our coaches have to take the games seriously, and come in with a plan designed to annihilate the team’s opponents, as opposed to just riding with a default game plan and hoping.

We saw FSU’s defense take a terrible dip in quality from last year to this year – from a coaching standpoint. One expects and accepts that players come and go; one does not accept that the players available don’t have the preparation that a program of FSU’s stature should demand.

The Problem with the College Football Playoff

I really don’t know, offhand, if I’ve been pro- or anti-playoff for NCAA football. I liked that the BCS gave us the possibility of seeing a champion determined by playing a game, but I recognize that there are lots of arguments about who should be playing in that game.

So far this year, though, I’ve been somewhat unsatisfied with the way the playoff rankings have been determined. I think I understand them, but I’m not happy about them.

The arguments seem to have changed. Last year, Auburn just won; nobody really seemed to care that it was because Alabama totally blew field goal coverage, or Missouri forgot to defend against the run – which was, after all, only Auburn’s greatest strength. Auburn was the team of destiny, after all! — and maintained that position as the team of destiny, except the ‘destiny’ in question was to lose in the second half to FSU, just as so many teams have done this year, too.

This year, the argument seems to be around strength of schedule, and that strength of schedule is taken as a whole season. I think this is where things break down.

Strength of schedule is effective in a playoff like this only if it’s calculated before the game in question is played.

Look at Notre Dame/FSU. ND was ranked #5 before the game, and lost thanks to a controversial call.

The controversial call was not the offensive pass interference to close the game – it was that the same play hadn’t been called as a penalty earlier in the game for one of ND’s touchdowns. The refs only warned ND about the play, and then Notre Dame’s coaches got all surprised when the referees followed through on the warning and called the penalty later in the game.

Now, Notre Dame is 7-3, and out of the top 25 in the Associated Press polls. At the time of the game, this was a power matchup, and FSU got a lot of credit (which it deserved) for winning, even if it was over a one-loss team.

Note: Notre Dame’s one loss at the time was against FSU. I don’t think you should get dinged for winning a game against the team you’re actually playing.

Now, though, that game’s not really relevant except as a win – the implication is that “at least FSU didn’t lose.”

But with the playoff system, the stakes are so high that one loss can entirely deflate a team; for most teams, once they lose, they no longer have the same urgency; the rabbit’s already dead, the milk has been spilled, the water is already under the bridge. Once you have that first loss, for most teams, they get to play and enjoy – maybe play the role of spoiler, I suppose, but generally at that point it’s pride and not purpose.

Note: you want both pride and purpose when you play a sport.

The result is that once a team like Notre Dame, or Clemson, or Miami, or anyone, loses, the impact of the game on strength of schedule is minimized somewhat. That’s wrong, for the most part.

To me, a team that is ranked highly and loses, then continues losing, needs to be carefully evaluated. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the team that gets out of whack – that doesn’t mean the game wasn’t a true test, it only means that the losing team took the loss too much to heart. Perhaps it was an injury to a critical player, as happened to Miami’s Duke Johnson last year; losses after that injury don’t mean that the games in which that player was fully effective weren’t valid!

I’m still watching the playoff system to see what the results really are, long term – but right now? I think it really is a competition of brands (as Charles Pierce wrote on Grantland’s “Roll Brand! Alabama’s Win and the Problem With the New College Playoff“), and that concerns me.

I’m still at the point where I think FSU should be left on the pedestal until they get knocked off of it on the field… and at the end of games.

North Carolina State fans (and coach!) – you’re classless.

FSU played the NCSU Wolfpack this last Saturday, and managed to win; that’s good for FSU, and honestly, it was good for NCSU, too, because they punished FSU and easily could have won. But two things really, really bother me about the game.

The first was when one of the FSU players went down with an injury. NCSU was on the move, playing a hurry-up offense, and the pace was really hurting FSU’s defense – then the nose tackle goes down with an injury.

The NCSU fans booed, accusing him of faking the injury to slow down the pace.

Now I find out today that Coach Doeren (NCSU’s head coach) said the same thing.

That’s awful, classless, and stupid. I know a lot of NCSU fans, living in the Raleigh area; they are decent people, and I’d not been interested in smacktalking them beyond a little gentle ribbing back and forth (we’d already traded a few barbs back and forth, all in good fun.)

But this makes me angry. I’m fairly certain none of my friends were among those who booed, but if one of them justifies it to me…

Here’s the thing. Doeren ran the hurry-up offense because it pushes a defense; it tires them out, and prevents substitutions. That’s logically sound, if you can do it and you think the timing’s right. The problem is that it can hurt a defense physically – as in, the players are more likely to be injured because not only do the play counts go sky-high, but the players play tired, and playing tired is more likely to lead to an injury.

So why wouldn’t these NCSU geniuses recognize that their hurry-up offense – the weapon of choice in the situation – could cause exactly what happened? Why would you boo someone who was quite likely injured through the course of the game, based on the offensive strategy being used?

I guess I can excuse the fans – even though booing an injury of any kind, faked or not, is classless. (If the injury was indeed faked, well, that’s classless too, but that’s on the player’s conscience. And yes, I’d feel that way if an opposing player did it.)

The coach, though… that’s the guy who should know best. That’s just sour grapes, and it’s conduct unbecoming of a head coach. I’m very disappointed, especially since my oldest son is considering enrolling at NCSU sometime in the near future.

Jameis Winston: Please, please, please just stop

FSU announced today that Heisman winner Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first half of the football game between the Seminoles and the Clemson Tigers, a game that many expect to define the seasons of both teams.

If FSU loses this one, the team loses the momentum for inclusion in the playoffs. Win and you’re still on track for the ACC championship and the national championship, as well.

If Clemson loses, they miss the best chance that any ACC team has of wresting control away from FSU.

So the stakes are very, very high for both football teams… and now FSU is going to be playing a full half without its best weapon.

Why? Because Jameis Winston is an incredible football player, and he’s in the position that touches the ball on every offensive down, and… oh, you were asking why he’s suspended.

It’s because he reportedly shouted some obsceneties in FSU’s student union. I’m not going to bother pointing out what he said, because that’s easy enough to find and it’s not something I’d ever think to repeat.

This is after allegations that he raped a fellow student two years ago, and after he absentmindedly shoplifted some crab legs from a Tallahassee grocery store.

At this point, it’s really difficult to support Jameis; the rape allegations are a sort of “he said, she said” situation, with people asserting opposite claims on both sides. The police said they didn’t have sufficient evidence to prosecute, and I can only hope that’s because the allegations were false; if they’re true, well, then at this point it’s up to God to mete justice, and I can only hope it lands hard.

The crab legs seemed like simple absentmindedness; that’s easy enough to forgive.

But the point is that he’s a college student – like, in college. He’s won the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best athlete on the field for a given year – and would have won by a landslide, except many voters didn’t want to vote for him because of the rape allegations.

He’s not an idiot… I think. He should know that he’s being watched, every second. Every little thing he does is going to be examined and exposed.

I don’t expect him to be perfect; that’d be ridiculous. I do, however, expect him to be sane, and mature. It’s one thing to make a mistake, but one doesn’t shout an obscene phrase on top of a table by accident – that’s a deliberate act of stupidity.

Jameis, please, please stop. I have sons. One of them practices football wearing a jersey with your number on it; please don’t make me regret buying it for him.

Florida State, I don’t know how legal this would be – knowing the NCAA, it’s probably against the rules – but it might be worth it to bring on a scholarship player whose sole role is to hang out with Jameis, and every time he makes a decision of any sort, just ask him: “Really? Are you sure? Really?”

Think about it:

Jameis says “Okay, I got my crab legs, time to leave the store!”

Watchdog player then asks: “Really, Jameis? Really?”

Jameis then realizes he’s forgotten something important, and pays for the crab legs.

Let’s try another one.

Jameis is walking around the student union (after the watchdog had asked him “Really? Walk around? Are you sure?”), and sees a beautiful young lass watching him. He starts to saunter over, because even though he’s got a girlfriend already, this other student is pretty.

Watchdog sees him start to walk over, and says “Hey, Jameis – really? Are you sure? Really?”

Jameis realizes that everyone knows his girlfriend is rather attractive, and both he and his girlfriend are aware of social media, and nods to the girl and moves on.

It wouldn’t be foolproof – if Jameis is a strong enough fool, he’d simply ignore the watchdog and crash and burn. But at least he’d have a chance, and when and if he screwed up, parents like me would know that he intentionally went about doing something that we’d not want our children doing, and we could wash our hands of him.

I hate this, really. I want to admire Jameis; I like Florida State, I like football. I despise the idea that the leader of my favorite team is an idiot and a miscreant, but I’m running out of choices to believe otherwise.