Sunday, February 21, 2010

College Football and Regional Geopolitics: a Unified Theory

"I have a soft spot for schools with no control, they're fun. Like, Oregon is the Iraq of colleges, and I am completely ok with this."

That is how great conversations and ideas get started. After making fun of Oregon's troubles with my friend who works in the terror department of this country of ours. We've realized that College Football, with its lawlessness, decentralized, mess of a system, is similar to the international system. There's winners and losers, sure. But nobody's really decided who is which, besides whatever they call themselves.

So let's go through all of the BCS conferences (plus the Mountain West and Western Athletic, because they pretty much count) and line them up with regions and countries. Because it's not like I have anything else to do tonight. And thank goodness for Yahoo! Sports so I don't forget anyone.

First off...The ACC :: Eurasia
Hereby defined as Central Asia + Russia and the Former Soviet states. Because the ACC is too big for just the few Central Asian Republics. But still, remember around 2004 when the ACC was supposed to be ascendant due to the new connections with Miami, Boston College, and Va Tech? Well, 2004 was the last time Nabucco was actually possible. And the Shanghai Cooperative Organization looked like a real thing. Of course, both might be happening in the future, and the ACC might become a power conference. But until then, there's a lot of steppes and Noontime 17-14 games.
  • Clemson :: Estonia. They really think they're part of Europe (the SEC), and really think they belong as a respected nation. But come on, we like having you close because you're a place to party. You haven't exactly set yourself apart from the Latvias and Lithuanias of the world, have you? Talinn is a pretty place to spend a weekend with your Limey drinking buddies, and so is Clemson. But you know what you feel like afterwards? Yup.
  • Boston College :: Georgia. Hey, wait a second. Georgia is in the Caucasus? There's a team from Boston in the ACC? These are the geographic technicalities that confuse the people making decisions. All the same, both have great cuisine (katchapuri = cheese covered bread covered with a raw egg. Seriously.) and drinking cultures. Both are mediocre afterthoughts that are fighting a losing battle with their neighbors, though their fans will never admit it. Both are led by a spaz who took power strangely.
  • Florida State :: Turkmenistan. If there was ever someone to compare to Bobby Bowden, it would be Niyazov. Solid gold statues (that rotated to face the sun), naming months after family members, and oh yeah, calling yourself "Father of the Turkmens." My personal favorite is when he wrote a book, and then put on a mosque, "The Koran is God's book, but the Rukhnama is a great book." They also lie and get caught, and if one place compares to a flaming gate of hell, its Tallahassee.
  • Wake Forest :: Lithuania. Well, when was the last time you thought of Wake Forest? Not particularly interesting, Zappa/Aaron Curry aside, but you could pick a lot worse of a place to be. 4-8 wins, a mediocre bowl, and hanging out in Winston-Salem? At least you get to laugh at Turkmenistan.
  • North Carolina State :: Moldova. There's always that one team in North Carolina you forgot. There's always that one country in Eastern Europe you forgot. Sure' there's wine, but if Tom O'Brien isn't the coaching equivalent of voting the Communists back to power, I don't know what is.
  • Maryland :: Latvia. They had that early 2000's upswing, everything was looking great, and they even made it into the Orange Bowl / European Union. And then what? Bam!
  • Georgia Tech :: Kazakhstan. Internet-humor sensation. But they're steadily doing great things, getting into BCS games and chairing the OSCE. If it's a bit unconventional, it still works. Still screw up sometimes in the limelight, though.
  • Virginia Tech :: Uzbekistan. Sudden rivals with Ga Tech. Run by a crazy old man who believes in a strong defense. Around 2005, terrible things happened in thereabouts.
  • Miami :: Russia. Just because they're more like Russia c. 1988 then c. 1998 doesn't mean they're back. It just means it's not the cesspool it used to be. Finally got the upper hand with their rival BC/Georgia. The people who pick them to be huge in the next two years are the ones who don't really know what they're talking about. Good drug scene. Run by a man who was a badass in the '80s but never smiles. Ever.
  • North Carolina :: Azerbaijan. Locked in an inextricable slap-fight with Duke/Armenia. But at least these guys have petroleum/Butch Davis. For another few years, at least. Baku is a lot like Chapel Hill in that its glitzy and fun at first, but you start to realize it's built on a house of cards and endemic poverty to keep the upper crust happy. Kurban Said/Essad Bay/Lev Nussinbaum is kind of the Lawrence Taylor of the Orientalist world (why would a Jew become a fervent fascist? Because his mom had an affair with Stalin, destroying his childhood. Pretty good reason, actually).
  • Duke :: Armenia. Again, the fight with NC. Have a name brand that way outstrips anything they've accomplished. The best things they has rest somewhere else (Spurrier/Mt. Ararat and Van). But they've been thrown a lifeline from Europe recently (Cutcliffe/Turkey accords), and they're gonna ride it for all its worth.
  • Virginia :: Kyrgyzstan. Don't even have the fun sort of craziness their neighbors have. Just repression, poverty, and 5-7 seasons. Will talk on and on about their history and natural beauty, and they have a point, but that doesn't mean much nowadays. At least they had stability (Grohmentum) for a while. But now? Who the hell knows.
This took longer than expected. Next up: the Big East!

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