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Battle Red Bag 2015, Episode 3: Ranking Bad

This week's installment of Battle Red Bag 2015 features a mulligan on last week's unbearable powerfulness of rankings, accountants in coffee shops, a literary critique (of sorts), and other gallimaufry. Enjoy.

This week's mailbag is also playing without a helmet.
This week's mailbag is also playing without a helmet.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I had a conversation the other day with a lifelong Arkansan who, unsurprisingly, is one of those diehard Razorback fans that festoons his (red, of course) truck with myriad magnets and flags on gameday. In response to my questioning why he, an Arkansas State graduate, was so passionate about the Razorbacks, he explained that I "just don't get it" because I'm "not from here."

And he is correct. There is so much that I don't even pretend to understand about the standard Arkansan mindset. Just off the top of my head: why Arkansans think this state is better than Texas in any appreciable way, why they seem surprised that so much talent (athletic and otherwise) leaves the state at the first opportunity, why the newspaper feels the need to remind people that John Daly is from Dardanelle every single time there is a story that references him, why there are people who think that a state with piss-poor education levels and scores can become an "innovation hub" merely by building a tech park, why there is a fake-ass Whatta-burger in Russellville but not real Whataburger in the state, why someone unironically chose "Leopards" as the athletic mascot of the Arkansas School for the Deaf...

All of that said, there is at least one thing I do understand about Arkansas: they will always, always find a way to blow at least one game that they have no business losing. And, in the course of the aforementioned conversation, I said as much to the Razorback fan. To which he responded, "Maybe...but ain't no way they are losing to Toledo!"

About four hours later, when the dust settled, I texted him. "How does it feel to lose to Matt Campbell in a game that another Matt Campbell predicted you would lose?"

His response suggested that I should go have relations with either myself or my mother (he was somewhat unclear, which I chalk up to his anger). When I replied with a picture of myself laughing in front of the TV as the Arkansas-Toledo highlights played, he unfriended me on Facebook. When I followed up with a joke about how his actual alma mater just lost to the flagship school from my home state, he blocked my number.

And that, dear readers, is how one truly enjoys a Saturday of college football.

Onward, to the Bag!


So... did Sunday's game change your Texans' QB rankings? If so, please do a new one.

Dan is referring to my previous rankings from last week's bag, which looked like this:


And, yes, Sunday's game definitely changed those rankings. The new, revised rankings go:

  1. The death of your dog
  2. Urban Meyer's smug face
  3. Scabies
  4. Ryan Mallett
  5. CBS
  6. Books written by Jonathan Franzen
  7. Hemorrhoids
  8. Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer as a MNF broadcast team
  9. Alex Smith
  10. Brian Hoyer


Does the sight of Bill O'Brien taking Rick Smith seriously in roster decisions give you a queasy feeling? Like seeing your accountant on a laptop at Starbucks?

It does, and that's a solid analogy. I'd also compare it to seeing your doctor buying a Joseph Mercola book at Barnes & Noble, seeing your kid's teacher reading "Math for Dummies," and overhearing your mom talking about the guys she's met on Tinder.

Seriously, though...that's one of those moments in "Hard Knocks" that I can't quite decide whether it was for the cameras or was a real insight into the process. Oh, sure, Smith is always going to have some say in the decisions, being the GM and all, but when it comes to those last 10 or so players, I wouldn't expect O'Brien to seek much input from Smith. Those guys don't cost much (comparatively) and they are generally depth/project/need players, so how the head coach sees each being useful (or not) would seem more important that Smith's evaluation of their actual talent.

But, yeah, it was a little unsettling. Though it also makes me want to blame Rick Smith for the decision to start Brian Hoyer, just because that makes me feel better about the order of things. So that's what I am gonna do.


The switch from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett has inspired quite a bit of conspiracy talk (e.g., this was all part of Bill O'Brien's master plan, or the front office somehow played a role in Hoyer starting the opener, or Joe Pendry did it with a candlestick in the conservatory, or what have you).  What's your take on it?  Is it as simple as O'Brien realizing he made a mistake and correcting it as quickly as possible?

Despite what I literally just wrote, I actually do think it's the simple explanation: O'Brien thought that Hoyer was the better option based on what he saw in camp and preseason. And, in that scenario, where Hoyer's not getting hit much and his frequently playing against other team's 2s and 3s and getting vanilla defenses thrown at him, that was probably true to a large degree.

Once thrown into the fire of starting-caliber defensive players, a less-than-perfect O-line, and a defense designed to actually pressure and hit him, Hoyer crumbled. O'Brien gave Hoyer as much chance to right the ship as could be allowed, and then Bill decided to put Mallett in and see if the problem was Hoyer or the Chiefs' defense. When Mallett showed that getting rid of the ball and not being horrible was an option against the Chiefs, O'Brien was forced to admit to himself that Hoyer wasn't what Bill thought he was.

All of that said, my gut feeling is that Mallett's leash is even shorter than Hoyer's was, and it won't take much struggle from Mallett against Carolina before we're back into a full-blown QB controversy. So let's all hope that Mallett plays well from the jump against the Panthers, so we can put the Hoyer Experience on the shelf with the Matt Leinart era.

Capt. Ron:

I absolutely love many things about touring London, but I tend to raise an eyebrow when I hear their variation of the English language. A lot of things make perfect sense.

For instance, what Americans call "chips," they refer to as "crisps." What we call "fries," they call "chips." We call it the "trunk" of the car, and they know it as the "boot." We love "cookies," and they call them "biscuits." That's all fine with me, as it is easy to follow along with word replacement across cultures separated by thousands of miles of ocean. However, I often cringe when I hear sentence structures in as much disarray as Robert Griffin III's future in the NFL.

That leads to my question: Why do people in the United Kingdom often omit an article preceding words like hospital, university and holiday?

Example: Americans will say they are going "to the university" or "to the hospital" or "on a vacation." The British will say they are going "to university" or "to hospital" or "on holiday."

Well, to be fair, Americans do that with a number of nouns as well. We say going "to college" or "to school," and I know a number of folks who say going "on vacation." So it appears at first blush that the Brits just do it with a few more nouns (or a few different nouns) than we do (university, hospital, etc.).

From what I can tell, based on limited research (asking a couple Brits and poking around on Google), the general reason that the British do it is because of an implied meaning that the article gives. So, if you say, "I am going to university at Oxford," it is understood to mean that you are going there for the purpose that a person normally would do so (e.g., to be a student). But, in British English, it seems that saying "I am going to the university" implies that you are going there as a visitor or for some purpose other than to be a student.

Which, now that I think about it, explains why Ohio State players stress "the Ohio State."


And, in your humble opinion, is Brian Hoyer the worst human being to have ever existed, and why is your answer yes? It’s actually scientifically proven: BH+O2+H2=SUCK

Also, if you could become any fictional character, who would it be, and why is it Batman?

Is he the worst? Probably not. Though it's hard to argue with your science there. Hmm. We'll just put him in the Top 10 and leave ourselves some wiggle room for now, if only to be safe and not pin ourselves down just yet.

As to fictional characters, I need some clarification: are we talking only in the realm of comic books/superheroes, or can I pick ANY fictional character? Because--even ignoring several inappropriate-for-a-sports-blog jokes I'd like to make right here--I don't think I'd go with Batman in that scenario. (Arguably, even in the comic-only scenario, Superman would be a better answer than Batman, though I would certainly pick Batman.)

But, in the open-world scenario, where I can pick any fictional character from any genre/medium, my top 10 choices--which I spent WAY too much time thinking about--would be:

  1. James Bond
  2. Odysseus
  3. Dalton
  4. Sidd Finch
  5. Batman
  6. Optimus Prime
  7. Atticus Finch
  8. Cthulhu
  9. Han Solo
  10. Scott


It's the art criticism that I miss the most. I think most people find his criticism of Rauschenberg and the Abstract Expressionists too avant le lettre, but I found it trenchant and fresh, especially his discussion about Arshile Gorky (well, at least Gorky's early works). And Kerns' ability to construct and slay straw men is certainly among postmodernism's greatest achievements, with Beckett's perpetual wait for Godot paralleling Kerns' wait for reason and intellect.

I cannot possibly add to that.

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