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What We Talk About When We're Not Talking About Football

I'm in an odd mood, where a lot is going on in Carolina athletics, and I'm not motivated to talk about any of it. There's the State game, of course, about which the less said, the better. My only thought there is that the UNC defense has flirted much of the year with a bend but not break mentality, giving up a lot of yards (next to last in the ACC, ahead, ironically, of only N.C. State) but compensating with turnovers when the situation requires. Here, there were no turnovers, and the end result is an embarrassing blowout to a mediocre team. The rest is best put by Matt Hinton:

Not only was N.C. State's 41-10 score over North Carolina shocking, but the total yardage numbers were off the charts in both directions: N.C. State's 466 yards was almost 100 yards better than the previous season-high for the Wolfpack, and also for the UNC defense; on the other side, the Heels' paltry 203 yards was a season-low and (by far) the best effort by the N.C. State defense. 

North Carolina turned the ball over six times, running its record when it finishes in the red in turnover margin to 0-4. The Heels are -12 in losses, and +18 in wins.

That game of course, was bookended by two basketball games against schools you rarely think of; with Tyler Hansbrough back, the Heels won handily, and what more is there to say? Team improves with the return of the consensus Player of the Year. I know, you're shocked. 

UNC's women's team captured the Preseason WNIT over #2 Oklahoma - I love the women's game's willingness to put it's top teams on the court against one another early and often - but even that leaves me cold. I'm ready for a conference battle, after being teased into following the football race for much longer than Carolina's abilities deserved. Conference play won't begin until an unusually late December 21st, when Clemson meets Miami, and UNC won't see its first ACC foe until January 4th, with Boston College. The ACC-Big Ten challenge will be along next week, and maybe that will get my blood going, but until then not much in college athletics is doing it.

Post State-debacle, I spent the evening as I expect many of you did, running around Washington D.C. with eight or so women getting absolutely hammered. And that's literally running - sneakers and cold weather gear, as we were a group of people training for various things, alcoholism quite possibly among them. And somewhere after the gay sports bar - that was the crowd to watch Utah-BYU with, post Proposition 8 - but before Myron Rolle took the field as a Rhodes Scholar, I found a college sport with a dumber postseason than college football - Ultimate Frisbee.

(Yes, most of the folks I was running with were ultimate players. And yes, I believe the preferred nomenclature leaves off the "frisbee" part. But screw that. My favorite sport isn't called "basket," so they can suck it up and deal.)

Now, I was definitely on the wrong side of sobriety (as was the person explaining it to me) at the time, but later Googling has explained the issue thusly. Since 1984, the college champions have been decided in a tournament run by the Ultimate Players Association who also do club and youth tournaments and the like. (Check out the UCSB representation on that championship board, by the way.) There also exists an organization Cultimate that puts together tournaments - ultimate, it seems, has more events in the swim meet mold rather than the home-and-away football mold, this being a sensible way to get more games under a limited budget. (And should you find the name "Culitmate" as annoyingly precious as I do, the fact that they seem to want to spell it "cu1timate" wil just drive you batty.)

Anyway, Cultimate has stepped up and announced their own national championship. They will choose 25 college teams, give them a season of regional tournaments and then chose 14 to play in a national tournament. Teams will only play other, approved Cultimate teams, and there will some sponsorship money thrown about it looks like, but that's pretty much the gist of it.

I, of course, hearing this over a Sierra, immediately drew the parallel my frisbee tossing friends had not. "Oh," I slurred, "it's the BCS for frisbee." And there really is little difference. In college football, a group chooses 25 teams to compete for the national championship, they play a season, and then a quick postseason to crown a champion; the other ninety-five or so teams need not bother to apply, especially if the reside in sparse Western states that don't have big media markets. The difference is, while the ultimate community is being thrown into an absolute tizzy over the unfairness of it all, college football fans treat it as blithely as could be. After all, it's tradition.

With regards to our disc-tossing friends, I do wonder why the NCAA doesn't seem to care about their sport. (Or, for that matter college rugby.) The number thrown around at the bar was 130 men's ultimate teams currently on the various bumpy green spaces of college campuses. That's more than the number of D-IA football schools, as well as some other sports under NCAA purview, like field hockey. It may be time to call the folks from Indianapolis in. Sure, you may get a convoluted, unfair bowl system instituted, but the organization gets every other postseason pretty close to right - what are the odds you'll be the second screw-up?