Tag Archives: Sports

Hard Hitting Truth

I write this as a I finally get around to watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix (if one and a half months after airdate qualifies as late viewing), and I’m enjoying the best telling of the classic story that I’ve seen yet. It has some genuinely spooky scenes, but it’s not the scariest thing I’ve seen recently. The opening sequence is reminiscent of another Netflix show that I have loved from the start, Daredevil, and its latest season added to its excellence, but it’s not the most violent thing I’ve seen recently. In fact, the most scary, violent thing I have witnessed lately is something I have been watching, and loving, for much longer than Netflix has been around. This weekend, I was captivated once again by the frighteningly prevalent violent entertainment that so many like me love to indulge in. As I write, I also periodically check in on the imaginary unit that I have assembled to do fantastic battle with the respective units of my peers in the subject of this most violent contest, for the reason that we simply cannot get enough of this bloodsport, so we craft our own fantasy with which to duel based on the nature of true reality. This horrifying beast of terror and trauma that I speak of is known by one misleading name: football.

I say misleading due to the fact that football – or more aptly known globally as American football – involves more direct motion from hands and arms then feet, but this is a small gripe that doesn’t physically affect anyone like the pounding that players take in the game does. This past weekend I watched, mostly happily, as a group of young men dressed in my colors bashed into players dressed in my best bud’s colors. It really is tough for me not to turn this into a bragging essay of victory wherein I celebrate Ohio State’s surprising beatdown of bitter rival Michigan, but then it is easy for me to do so as I have never competitively played football, my preferred team won and I am giddy because of it, and the most that I have to give up is the next round that I voluntarily offered to pick up the next time my Michigan graduate friend and I go out. I pay for a few drinks; the college students who slammed their skulls around Saturday pay the price for that their whole lives.

I have talked a bit about some of the problems plaguing football, and extensively about The Game, but today I’m turning the reigns over to this excellent video from College Humor that dives much deeper beyond the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry than this year’s game:

It’s hard for me to continue to watch something that I love that is also awful to the players involved in it. It’s like I’m a superfan of Romeo and Juliet, but at every performance I attend, the lead actors actually get poisoned, but I keep coming back because I just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet, star-crossed love! This is of course, a silly example (there are so many better Shakespeare plays to obsess over), but the truth remains that football as it is is a dangerous game. For more on this, consult an alumnus of College Humor, Adam Conover:

Concussions, sub-concussive hits, and other physical injuries are a major part of the problem, but as the first sports show satire pointed out, there is something truly amiss with college sports finances. Players make no money, while universities bring in oodles, especially from the cash cow football programs they have. Ohio State and Michigan are huge, well-respected schools, but their names are more synonymous with their own-the-field success than academic contributions, from which there are plenty of. This applies to almost every school with a major sports team or teams, and as long as fans are willing to fill their fancy stadiums, the schools are will to set aside what should be the primary role of academics to create finer athletic facilities. Money is a big problem throughout colleges as a whole, and not simply relegated to their athletic programs, yet that is where discrepancies are most apparent.

Furthermore, there are often additional scandals that arise out of the machine that is financial and athletic success at universities, and the College Humor skit quickly references two that I wrote about few months back. One being Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s apparent knowledge of one of his former coaches abusive nature towards a spouse, and the other being the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal. Each school cooperated with investigations and followed the penalties brought down by the powers that be – specifically, the highly conflicted NCAA – and both are flourishing on the gridiron once again in a world where winning matters more than people’s safety.

I wish I knew how to make all of this better, but the truth is, I don’t know what to do. I haven’t paid much attention to the NFL beyond how my fantasy team fares, but that’s mainly due to a lack of interest relative to college ball, and my viewership is hardly a loss for them while millions watch their games (and the advertisements that come with them). But unlike some principled protest I have – like how I haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A since their CEO made homophobic remarks, or at Jimmy John’s because owner Jimmy John is a big game hunter – I haven’t stopped enjoying college football. I have lost a lot of my former interest in sports over the years, even growing fatigued by the monotonous nature of the games and franchise trends. However, sports are popular in America, and between social pressure to be up to date on everything ball-related like the other guys (I knew exactly what I was doing writing that sentence), and my own desire to see my teams kick ass, it is difficult to be critical of football without being hypocritical and watching it anyway.

In spite of all that I know that is bad about college football, I am stoked that my Buckeyes beat the Wolverines again, and I’m excited to get to watch my team play for another conference championship. But perhaps instead of going to Indianapolis to watch another football game, I should go there to shout my anger at the ills of the system outside of NCAA national headquarters.

Thanks for reading. Nobody is a bad person for liking football, but we must all acknowledge that there are real problems that need to be solved, especially on college campuses. I hope my internal struggle is relatable, and that you can figure out how to best carry on to solve these problems. Maybe we can all do it together.

Stay informed,





Smokey Sausage and the Bundit

Toledo, Ohio is a a mid-major Midwestern city in the northwest corner of the state, and is the fourth largest city in population behind Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. While not as well known worldwide as the three Cs, Toledo does have a few key claims to fame to boast. For one, the most famous minor league team, the Toledo Mud Hens, hail from there (I don’t care about who Kevin Costner played for in Bull Durham, and besides, I’m mad at them for knocking the Hens out of the International League playoffs on Saturday). Tying into what made the Mud Hens a more household name is Toledo’z most famous actor – no, not Katie Holmes, but Jamie Farr! Best known for playing Corporal Maxwell Klinger on M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr is a native Toledoan who made the most of his originally intended brief appearances to become a staple character on the show. It probably helped that he played a man so eager to get out of the Korean War that he resorted to wearing gaudy dresses to be labeled cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and be sent home. He worked his own hometown heritage into the role, and Klinger proudly touted Toledo standards like the Mud Hens; even occasionally trading a dress for a baseball jersey.

Farr’s Klinger was also integral in putting another piece of Toledo onto the national scene, and that is Tony Packo’s Cafe. Tony Packo opened his first restaurant in 1932 and sold sausage sandwiches. He purchased a larger establishment three years later, and upgraded the sandwiches too. Packo added chili to the sandwich, which in truth was more of a hot dog. In fact, the sausage was advertised as a “Hungarian hot dog” (it’s like the Hungarian version of a Polish kielbasa), and it is still served today at all Packo’s restaurants located only around Toledo. Mentions on M*A*S*H brought visitors from all around, and reciprocated love for Farr and the show are apparent in each eatery. Also abounding in every one of the hot dog havens is another decoration that is entirely unique to the local chain, but that was started by another celebrity….

In 1972, Tony Packo’s was doing all right. It may not have yet been noticed nationally, but that was not far off as Klinger and company were just hitting TV screens in M*A*S*H, but it was a local favorite in Toledo as it had been for decades. An actor was traveling through town along with a stage production of The Rainmaker -not the John Grisham crime story, but the N. Richard Nash play about a Depression-era ranchers. This actor had starred in a few television series, including Westerns and a police drama. He wasn’t a huge name, but he was known, and more importantly, he was known to Nancy Packo, Tony’s daughter. She wrote to the actor and encouraged him to come to her father’s cafe. Hey, an actor’s got to eat, the same as the rest of us, why not eat the best Toledo has to offer?

On night, after a performance of The Rainmaker, he came! He came, he ate, he conquered, and before he left he was asked by Nancy for an autograph. The actor grabbed a hot dog bun and signed his name right on it.

Image result for burt reynolds tony packo's hot dog bun

Burt Reynolds was the first person to sign a hot dog bun at Tony Packo’s Cafe, inadvertently kicking off a tradition that has seen over 1500 notable people from all walks of life signing one of the most uncommon autographs in their careers. Nowadays, the buns are not buns at all, but foam replicas that are airbrushed to look like buns and are easy to write on.

Of course, Burt Reynolds would go on to become even bigger, with a number of successful films, including his big break which came in that same year 1972, with the release of Deliverance. He also became known for turning down some roles that would go on to be successful; he actually was offered a lead role in the movie MASH that preceded the TV show. However, he still made a number of acclaimed films, many of which were big crowd pleasers and box office hits. Among his most memorable movies were The Longest Yard (1974), The Cannonball Run (1981), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), Boogie Nights (1997) for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and his signature film Smokey and the Bandit (1977) where his onscreen chemistry with costar Sally Field carried over into a real-life relationship.

Burt Reynolds’ life in the spotlight had its ups and downs, but we can look back and smile at it and appreciate the fun he provided when he showed up onscreen. I can almost hear his infectious happy laugh now. Rest in peace, Burt.

Thanks for reading! If you ever find yourself in Toledo, then make a stop at Tony Packo’s for lunch or dinner and take a look at Burt’s bun and many of the others on the walls as you enjoy your Hungarian dog and spicy pickles. The white chicken chili and more traditional Hungarian items are pretty great too. If you want to learn more about the restaurant, check out their website and this brief segment that was featured on Dateline’s site:

As always, you can drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Be sure to hop in your Trans-Am and race back here next week for more fun.



Urban Decay

The Big Ten East Division may be the strongest in all of college football with powerhouses like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and in recent years, strong contention from Michigan State. Unfortunately, it has also been the most scandal-ridden with occurrences of heinous abuse of minors at Penn State coming to light in 2011, and at Michigan State just last year. Each were systematic failures at large universities that should have been encouraging the development of young men and women, but instead where many men collectively turned a blind eye to one man’s monstrous behavior that left those children and teenagers scarred for life.

My own favorite sports school, The Ohio State University, is no stranger to scandal either. In 2010, a case of five football players receiving improper benefits in a strange exchange of awards and bowl gifts for tattoos started the end of the Jim Tressel era. The then-head coach later admitted that he knew of the players’ actions after he had lied to NCAA investigators. He was suspended, and shortly after his sentence came down, he resigned. In hindsight, the tattoo scandal seems remarkably tame and highlights the hypocrisy of the NCAA making billions off student athletes who are barred by the organization from receiving much of anything, but that’s another issue for another day. The relevant details are that a successful coach discovered that somebody broke the rules, tried to hide the fact that rules were broken, and paid the consequences. It is worth noting that Tressel resigned, and that he was unlikely to be fired, but the NCAA still threw the book at the university to set an example.

A year later the Jerry Sandusky allegations poured out of the floodgates at Penn State and the NCAA did not know what to do. Emotions were mixed among the Penn State faithful who, like the Buckeyes before them, did not understand how their beloved, bespectacled coach could have betrayed their trust. These issues are always hard for us in the cheering section at sporting events to fathom as sports serve so well as a distraction from the harsh realities of the world for 60 minutes of game time. We just want to watch 22 guys hit each other while fighting over an egg-shaped ball, not think about how some of them are hitting people who aren’t in pads and aren’t in a game off the field; or how those impacts are steadily and surely battering their brains and making them more susceptible to serious neurological trauma that can manifest in numerous ugly manners; or how the league they play for profits much more greatly than them by exploiting them both at amateur and professional levels.

Ohio State’s football program is again back under scrutiny, and again its head coach is at the forefront of the controversy. Urban Meyer is under fire after a weird week of walking back on comments and poorly explaining his knowledge or lack thereof of allegations that former wide receivers coach Zach Smith was physically violent and emotionally torturous to his ex-wife Courtney Smith. Currently, Meyer is on paid administrative leave as a 2-week investigation is tasked to get to the bottom of what happened in the past and how much and how soon Meyer knew about it.

In the last month, it surfaced that Courtney Smith accused her husband of harming her on separate occasions in 2009 and 2015. There are nine reports of domestic disputes logged by police in Powell, Ohio where the Smiths lived from 2012-2015. If  valid, this indicates a a continuing pattern of abuse by Zach against Courtney, certainly a terrible situation that it is good she has since gotten free from, and most definitely a fireable offense for Zach.

And that’s exactly what happened. Just two weeks ago, Meyer fired Smith on July 23rd. The next day, Meyer said he was made aware of the 2009 incident, but didn’t know about those in 2015. He has since been a little wishy-washy on this point.

Meyer’s vague answers and apparent confusion are not helpful to his job security. Frankly, he is in a rough place no matter what, for his statements don’t make much sense on their own, and furthermore, they don’t match up with what his wife, Shelley, said in past correspondence with Courtney. Shelley knew about the abuse as shown by a series of texts she exchanged with Courtney. And as anyone with a pair of friends who are married or dating knows, if you tell one of them something, they will share it with their significant other. In other words, their is no way that Shelley didn’t tell Urban what she was told. If it is confirmed that Courtney was being abused and the Meyers knew about it and did not properly report it, then both of them could be charged for violating Title IX. If Urban Meyer actively covered Zach Smith’s abuse of Courtney up to maintain his status in the program, that is grounds for termination. And if that is the case, then he should be fired. I am a lifelong Buckeye fan, but I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done for the school and its top team; if you kept a woman in a dangerous situation to keep a guy on staff, then your priorities are not in the right place, and you do not deserve to be in a position of authority setting an example for young men. They need to be taught the opposite of those actions.

Meyer has always been a great football coach, from his first days at Ohio State as an assistant to his mentor, coach Earle Bruce, to his current days walking the sidelines as Ohio State’s head coach just as Bruce once did. Meyer improved the talent and teams everywhere he took the helm, from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida and back again to Ohio State, yet that is not what is most important. Many men have broken the rules in an effort to win games, and some of them have allowed people to get hurt in the process. If this truly is one of those situations, then Meyer’s impressive records should not even be a factor in the decision of his punishment.

College football has had some unattractive moments in its long history, and this latest one is partially brought on by nepotism. Zach Smith is the grandson of Urban Meyer’s mentor, former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, which is certainly a reason why he was brought onto Meyer’s staff at Florida and retained at Ohio State. It can be fun to hear stories of men like Meyer taking the reins where his mentor once coached, but it is tremendously inexcusable if he showed Smith leniency out of fondness for his grandfather.

What it comes down to is that no reason or collection of reasons is able to justify remaining silent and inactive while someone needed help. However, it is not at all certain what will happen to Meyer and at the university as a result of this sadly because wins matter. Ohio State atheltic director Gene Smith finds himself looking at another football scandal, and this could potentially determine that he has not always been merely looking at them. It is possible that Meyer brought this up the chain of command and Gene Smith and others may have been made aware of Courtney’s mistreatment. Nevertheless, no one spoke up when she needed help, and that could hold them all complicit in the guilt of inaction. Courtney spoke of what should truly take precedence in an athletic institution to ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy:

“When somebody is crying out for help, I believe the coach, along with the coach’s wife, have a duty. They have a duty to do something to help, instead of worrying about winning games, or instead of worrying about who his mentor is and who his family is and trying to protect that; somebody’s safety and the safety of their children and the environment they’re in needs to be more important.”

Thanks for reading. I will continue to stay posted on this story as Ohio State’s investigation continues, and I encourage you to as well. Ohio State has a chance to set a precedent depending upon the evidence it studies.

Unfortunately, this is not the only scandal involving Ohio State currently, as numerous members of the school’s wrestling team from the past have come forward to accuse a former team doctor of abuse. Spurred on by the women who bravely stood up against Larry Nassar, these men are making their voices heard as well. You can read more about it in this New York Times article. I also encourage you to stay informed on this, not least of all due to the fact the assistant wrestling coach during this period of abuse was Jim Jordan, an Ohio congressman who is a major contender to be the next Speaker of the House.

Stay informed and do the right thing,


Turn the Paige

From humble beginnings in on July 7, 1906 in Mobile, Alabama was born a troublesome boy. Leroy Robert Page was the son John and Lula who lived in the “Down the Bay” area of the Gulf city. John was a gardener, and by some accounts a drunk, and as a result. Lula and her children actually would go on to change their surname’s spelling to “Paige” after John’s death, partly to signal a fresh beginning, as well as to appear more refined. Nevertheless, the fact remained that this was the Deep South still under the bootheel of Jim Crow laws, and the Paige family remained poor and black. Leroy spent his teenage years in reform school after he was caught shoplifting for not the first time. From 13-17, Leroy received his state-mandated education in his state-reform school, but his greatest learning came outdoors with a ball and a glove. Leroy’s great love was baseball, and he would do anything to play it. Skip dinner? No problem, let’s play ball. Don’t have a ball or a bat? No big deal, we’ll use this stick and a bottle cap. All that mattered was that he got to get in the game. After his reform school stint in Mount Meigs he did just that by playing with the semi-pro Mobile Tigers. It was there that Leroy started to make a name for himself, but not with his birthname; instead he was better known by the nickname he had earned as a kid carrying bags at the train station: Satchel.

Satchel Paige may be the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball. His official statistics are certainly impressive, especially considering how long he played baseball, but those numbers do not represent the monster on the mound he truly was. Satchel Paige first made his Major League Baseball debut with the Cleveland Indians on this date in 1948 as a freshly 42 year old. He had enough success to be in strange contention for the “Rookie of the Year” award, but was undoubtedly happier to go on to win the World Series in his opening MLB season (which is still the most recent championship for the Indians). Of course, one year earlier Jackie Robinson had become the first black player in the MLB modern era, yet both he and Satchel had played previously in the Negro Leagues, including on the same team, the Kansas City Monarchs. Paige was older, and had more season in the Negro Leagues under his belt, and he was hurt that he was not chosen to be the first player to break the color barrier. However, Paige would go on to declare that Robinson was the greatest black player he had ever seen.

While Robinson made more of an impact in Major League Baseball and had exceptional success after his historic integration, Paige had equally amazing success previously in the Negro Leagues, as well as in traveling Barnstormer leagues both prior to and following his MLB career. Just before the 1947 integration season, famed pitcher Bob Feller put on leagues that traveled by plane to different cities across the country to play baseball with a mix of past and current MLB stars, as well as Negro League all-stars. Feller captained one team, and Paige captained the other and the two pitchers almost always started each game day after day. This seems so absurd compared to today’s baseball; I cannot imagine that daily pitching by the best in the game in a new location each day would go over well with managers and owners, nor would having their top players galavanting about in the off-season. Yet, that is just what Feller and Paige did, and each matched up against some of the best their leagues had to offer. And I mean, the BEST. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that some of these stars were the best in the game at the time because they were some to the best of all time. Players like Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Vernon, and Bob Lemon. Before and after his MLB years, Paige played in similar travel leagues and faced the likes of Cool Papa Bell, Carl Yastrzemski, Rogers Hornsby, and Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio called Paige the best pitcher he ever faced.

Satchel Paige played his final game of baseball on June 21, 1966, and went on to serve a variety of mostly honorary positions in a few baseball organizations after his playing days. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Thanks for reading! You may always hit me up at monotrememadness@gmail.com with any questions or comments. I hope to see you back here next week!

Play ball!


Eulogy for Ermey and Earle

Last week we lost two legends from different worlds, but each helped shape young men and provided the rest of us with entertainment. R. Lee Ermey was a Marine drill instructor turned actor who was most famous for playing drill instructors. Earle Bruce was college football coach who made his mark at his alma mater and was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame.

Ronald Lee Ermey was born in Emporia, Kansas on March, 24, 1944.  A bit of a troublemaker as a child, Ermey was arrested at 17 and offered the choice to join the military or join the jail. He opted for the Marines and found his footing, eventually becoming a drill instructor. He served in Vietnam for 14 months before being medically discharged for injuries he received during that time.

Ermey began his movie career as an advisor on Apocalypse Now, but Coppola appreciated his expertise to be front of the camera too, and put him in a helicopter as a pilot (Ermey originally worked with aviation in the Marine Corps). His breakout role was as Gunnery Sargeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, still his most famous role, and one that established Ermey as the epitome of drill instructor in any media. This was not Ermey’s first time playing a DI, as his first significant role in The Boys in Company C.

Ermey would go on to play numerous military men in all facets of entertainment, including cartoons and games, but he occasionally stepped outside of his frequent typecasting, such as in one of my favorite roles of his as Coach Norton in Saving Silverman. His advice in that movie may not be the best to follow, but damn it, it’s funny.

Ermey also starred on television, with a pair of shows on the History Channel back when it was good, Mail Call and Lock n’ Load. Enjoy this compilation of some of his greatest (and goofiest) moments as well as his immortal role as essentially himself:

Earle Bruce was born in Cumberland, Maryland on March 8, 1931. He attended The Ohio State University and looked to play fullback for the Buckeyes. However, just as he was preparing to suit up in 1951, a torn meniscus brought an abrupt end to playing days. Instead of letting Bruce leave the game he loved, the Buckeyes’ first year head coach, a man named Wayne Woodrow Hayes, asked Bruce to stay on the team as a coaching assistant. Woody Hayes went on to become the most legendary coach in Ohio State history and one of the most legendary in football history. After his frustrated punch at an opposing player forced the school to terminate him in 1978. It was apparent that following Hayes would be an enormous task, but who better to rise to the occasion than then-Iowa State coach, Earle Bruce. Bruce was ready to helm the Buckeyes after success with the Cyclones, and the University of Tampa, as well as a magnificent stint at Massillon High School where Bruce remains the only undefeated head football coach – at the school Paul Brown made a power! Paul Brown!

As head coach of his former team, Bruce posted a terrific 81-26-1 record and won four Big Ten Championships. Most importantly, he was 5-4-1 against Bo Schembechler’s Michigan Wolverines, an even better record than his predecessor and mentor, Woody Hayes. Famously, or more accurately infamously, Bruce’s 1987 Buckeyes team faltered compared to his others which all won at fewest nine games. Nevertheless, in the 1987, the Buckeyes’ star receiver and future NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter was kicked off the team due to improperly signing with an agent . The loss of this all star was felt severely and Ohio State went into the final week of the season against rival Michigan with a measly 4-4-1 record. Out of character for a successful coach after one lackluster season, the board pressured Ohio State’s athletic director, Rick Bay, to fire Bruce. Bruce was never truly loved by some of the top dogs on campus, but in a place where Woody Hayes was God, no one, not even the university president, got to make a move on the football team with out Woody’s okay. Unfortunately for Bruce and Buckeye fans everywhere, Woody Hayes died in March of 1987. Without his great backer and protector, Bruce was again on the chopping block, and with the Carter scandal and a mediocre record, the people in power got there chance to push him out. Despite this, athletic director Bay resigned rather than fire Bruce, so the Buckeyes lost the biggest names in their sports programs in succession the week of the Ohio State-Michigan game.

Earle Bruce may have been down and almost out, but he had coached under Woody, and had made his own name as his successful successor, so he had one more game in him as the OSU coach. He was permitted to stay to finish the season, and finish he did, leading the Buckeyes into Ann Arbor to post a second half surge and beat Bo’s Wolverines one more time, 23-20. Each player on Ohio State’s sideline wore headbands that read “Earle” to honor their coach, whom they loved.

Bruce served as a mentor to many of the best players in his day, as well as to many of the top coaches of current football, including Nick Saban, Mark Dantonio, and Pete Carroll. Current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer first served as a graduate coach on Bruce’s Buckeye staff and cites him as the biggest influence in his life besides his own father. Meyer remained close to Bruce until his death from Alzheimer’s last Friday.

Earle Bruce was beloved by many, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003, yet he received a greater honor in 2016 when he joined the elite short list of people who have been invited to dot the “I” in the Ohio State Marching Band’s famous Script Ohio.

Thanks for reading and watching! Feel free to send me any comments, queries, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to return here next week for the State of the Season.

Until next week,


This is Madness! This Is MARCH!!!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, so they say (at least Stanley Kramer), and this is just the month for it because the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is just the occasion to manufacture such madness. As I’ve stated before, each year, my friends and I like to not only compete against each other in the most entertaining annual guessing game we all get tired of after the first week when our brackets are #rekt, but we also like to throw a wild card into the mix that might just cut the brakes and jump out the back of a moving van filled with gasoline: we make a mascot bracket!

The gist of a mascot bracket is simple. You take a look at the matchups on the bracket, but instead of weighing the merits of each team by whatever degree of whatever metrics you choose, you weigh how hilarious each team’s mascot looks and advance the funniest, goofiest, strangest, or most awesome anthropomorphic assemblage of fur, feathers, and funky clothing until you have crowned a champion. Today, I’ll be walking you all through this year’s bracket to see who is the best (in my eyes – don’t like it? Make your own blog!). Ready? No? Too bad! Here we go!

I will include links to my favorite picture of each mascot in their school’s name. Bear in mind that each mascot’s full history is in play. All right! Let’s start in the top-left corner on most brackets that is the South region.

Round of 64


Virginia Cavaliers vs. University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers – The Retrievers had a great American East tourney run to clinch a spot in the big dance, but none of that matters in the mascot bracket, where the muscular, mustached Zorro-like Cavalier of UVA gets the edge over the grimacing Labrador.


Creighton Blue Jays vs. Kansas State Wildcats – There are a lot of Wildcats in college athletics, but none as scary as the KSU cat. As much as I like the more happy faced Jay, I cannot deny the incredible guitar playing by Willie the Wildcat in the GIF I found. I never said the pictures had to be static, after all.


Kentucky Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – Proving my point immediately about the number of Wildcats in college sports, this catty matchup features more wild takes on the wildcat, but even with Kentucky making a more loveably dopey version to join their freakish historic hellcat, they have a looooong way to go to get on Davidson’s level of derp cat.

Davidson Wildcats

Arizona Wildcats vs. Buffalo Bulls – Jesus Christ that’s a lot of cats! The emphasis here though is on the competing couples, and as much as I love the horrible hair on the lady Bull, the floppy hat-adorned, angry hick looking tomcat practically wins this one on his own.


Miami Hurricanes vs. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers – Like other Loyola Universities, the Ramblers of Chicago have a wolf as their mascot thanks to the coat of arms of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some may see my selecting them in this matchup as favoring Jesuit schools as I attended such educational institutions for half of my academic career, but I am more picking them because the angry ibis of Miami is scary.


Tennessee Volunteers vs. Wright State Raiders – Wright State is the first of many teams from my native Ohio in this year’s tournament, and I like what they bring to the table. I don’t know how good their basketball team it, but damn their mascot game is strong. Currently they are represented by a wolf, but in the past the Rowdy Raider, a wide-eyed Viking has led the charge into games. I LOVE the Rowdy Raider. In every picture I’ve seen him in, he always is looking away from the camera at a distant wall or ceiling as if he’s contemplating the serious shit he’s seen. Perhaps that’s why he was replaced by the more focused wolf. Either way, Rowdy’s the mascot I’m looking to here, and Tennessee’s Smokey is almost certainly the first of many to fall before this Viking’s vacant gaze.


Nevada Wolfpack vs. Texas Longhorns – It’s a family affair for the Wolfpack against Bevo, and why wouldn’t it be? Like they always say, the family that mascots together, advances together. Okay, so nobody’s ever said that until now, but it applies here.


Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Georgia State Panthers – Panthers, so hot right now! Regardless, the GSU Panther is a little too Kansas State for my liking, and Cincinnati gets props for having the criminally lesser-represented binturong, more commonly called a bearcat, as their mascot, even if theirs has awful taste in shorts.



Xavier Musketeers vs. North Carolina Central Eagles/Texas Southern Tigers – Okay, for these games we need to first tackle the First Four teams’ mascots to get to the matchup in the Round of 64. In this case we have an Eagle who is experienced at taking on Tigers, but I give it to Texas Southern’s Tigers for actually having two tigers. Good on you Texans for actually having multiple tigers when the word is plural!

However, the victory is short lived when you take on the musketeers who have the special edition Blue Blob pop up against rival Cincinnati.


Missouri Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles – Truman the Tiger might be the saddest mascot I’ve ever laid eyes upon, but that only works in his favor.


Ohio State Buckeyes vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits – A strong match in the opening round! I do my best to check my bias at the door, but there is an Ohio State rug outside of it. Regardless, that old, sad looking nut gets the advantage over the floppy-eared rabbit, who honestly, isn’t even the best mascot in his state. That honor goes to Charlie Coyote at South Dakota. Look at him show up Jack here.


Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. University of North Carolina Greensboro Spartans – There are about as many bulldogs in college sports as there are wildcats, but the especially wrinkly bulldog of Gonzaga stands out among them and bests the freaky-faced Spartan of UNCG.


Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs – The Cougar is not overly impressive to me, but human mascots like the SDSU Aztec don’t score as many points as cartoonish animals.


Michigan Whimpering Weasels Wolverines vs. Montana Grizzlies – Michigan has had mascots in the past, including living Wolverines named Biff and Bennie loaned by the Detroit Zoo, but they currently have nothing. I look upon the complete history of all mascots in this comprehensive study of mascot analysis, but only if the team has one during this season. Is this a stupid technicality that I made up on the spot to disqualify Michigan because I hate them? Yes. Would I have pulled this on any other school? No. Your point being?

Regardless, the Grizzly from Montana looks ready to Chuck Norris some shit up.


Texas A&M Aggies vs. Providence Friars – The A&M Aggie  live Collie is adorable, especially when gnawing on a Bevo chew toy, but this dog stands no chance against a previous Mascot Bracket Champion in the frightening Friar from Rhode Island. Anything that looks like screaming Donald Sutherland from the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is terrifyingly well positioned for advancement in this tourney.


North Carolina Tarheels vs. Lipscomb Bison – This is a fairly weak contest, but the Tarheel is good enough to move on.



Villanova Wildcats vs. Long Island Brooklyn Blackbirds/Radford Highlanders – More Wildcats, and more First Fours. Firstly, let’s post the Blackbirds up against the Highlanders. Here we find a surprising contender for the big prize in Radford’s history of mascots. Formerly, they had Rowdy Red who looks like Elmo’s grandpa who’s not a fan of the riff raff who have moved onto Sesame Street. Currently, they have a more of a traditional Highlander… if a Scottish Chuck Norris is your idea of traditional Highlander. Needless to say, they advance.

Against another vicious Wildcat in Villanova, I still like whomever Radford is going with.


Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – More typically football powers, these schools have made basketball  waves this season. Their mascots have always gotten into the public eye, but of the two, it’s pretty easy to see the superior player.


West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Murray State Racers – Once again: cartoonish animal suit beats human in themed clothing.


Wichita State Shockers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd – Bonus points to Marshall for putting a literal twinkle in the eye of their mascot, but one does not simple surpass WuShock in all his wheaty glory.


Florida Gators vs. St. Bonaventure Bonnies/UCLA Bruins – For the Bonnies vs. Bruins it seems to point towars the buffer version of the bear from Ted, but wait, what’s this I see in the past of St. Bonaventure? A tremendous historical mascot! Bonnies 4 sho.

Now can they beat out the Gators? Albert apparently invested in some Lasik and has more reptilian eyes, but that derpy basketball-snouted dog is just too much.


Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks – Ripoff Yosemite Sam takes on John Cena with an ax. Again, the nod is given to the cartoony guy over the beefcake with the plaid shirt posing as a mascot.

Red Raiders

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Butler Bulldogs – Hogs or dogs? The pig is big.


Purdue Boilermakers vs. Cal-State Fullerton Titans – Purdue Pete is a soulless monster with a sledgehammer but no emotions. The Titans have an irritated looking elephant. This is one of the few instances I lean toward the human with a helmet costume, if for no other reason than I fear for my life if I pick otherwise.


Kansas Jayhawks vs. Penn Quakers – Oatmeal man is a challenger, but my perennial favorite Jayhawk is a thing of beauty.



Seton Hall Pirates vs. NC State Wolfpack – Oh this is a good one, but history proves to be on the side of Seton Hall.


Clemson Tigers vs. New Mexico State Aggies – I love me a funny tiger over humans in minimal themed attire anyday.


Auburn Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – There are bunch of Tigers in this tournament too. I guess Wildcats must have already been overdone so these schools opted for an even bigger kitty. Regardless, of the size difference in these two cats, the Dale the chipmunk take on Charleston’s Cougar gives them the victory.


TCU Horned Frogs vs. Arizona State Sun Devils/Syracuse Orange – ‘Cuse wisely switched from once being the Orangemen to simply the Orange, and they also wisely manufactured a magnificent mascot that I think outsears Sparky.

In fact, I think it even outperforms the Horned Frog.


Michigan State Spartans vs. Bucknell Bison – As much as the egregiously-muscled Sparty would enjoy this post’s title, he won’t enjoy my ruling here when he’s compared to that incredible Bison.


Rhode Island Rams vs. Oklahoma Sooners – Oklahoma’s mascot answers the question of what Ben Stiller would look like if he were a horse, but Rhody the Ram wins this round.


Duke Blue Devils vs. Iona Gaels – I prefer the Blue Devil that looks like it was stung by a swarm of bees, but even its bloated face cannot match the freaky Freddy Krueger grin and monstrous mutton chops of the Gael.


Now it’s on! Onto the

Round of 32


Virginia Cavaliers vs. Kansas State Wildcats – Gotta still dig that guitar.


Davidson Wildcats vs. Arizona Wildcats – The second straight round of Wildcats on Wildcats for Davidson, and they’re on for a third.

Davidson Wildcats

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs. Wright State Raiders – Further searching did unearth an earlier Loyola-Chicago mascot called Bo Rambler, but when it comes to historical mascots, I still love that Viking on LSD.


Nevada Wolfpack vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – If cartoons have taught me anything, it’s that dogs chase cats, but it never said anything about Bearcats.



Xavier Musketeers vs. Missouri Tigers – Blue Blob for the big win!


Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs – Good ol’ goofy nut.


Houston Cougars vs. Montana Grizzlies – Chuck Norris-y bear over over-mascaraed cat.


Providence Friars vs. North Carolina Tarheels – Not contest here.



Radford Highlanders vs. Virginia Tech Hokies – I am so glad this pursuit led me to this fantastic Highlander.


Murray State Racers vs. Wichita State Shockers – WUSHOCK!


St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – This was a tough one, but the ruby red mustache of that raider edged out the Bonnies.

Red Raiders

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Purdue Boilermakers – Is the hog still hot? Like it was at a luau.



Kansas Jayhawks vs. Seton Hall Pirates – Rock chalk, baby.


Clemson Tigers vs. Charleston Cougars – The claws are coming out in this one which sees the Tigers having a sharper swipe.


Syracuse Orange vs. Bucknell Bison – Happy fro Bison for the win!


Rhode Island Rams vs. Iona Gaels – I like these Rams; they’re gonna go places someday, but not against these Gaels.


Sweet 16


Kansas State Wildcats vs. Davidson Wildcats – I’ll tell you one thing: a Wildcat is going to win. The charm of the K-State guitar jam has waned in the face of adversity… specifically this face.

Davidson Wildcats

Wright State Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – That Viking’s eyes are bigger than most mascots… which allows them to see the trophy awaiting the winner of this tourney.



Xavier Musketeers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes – This battle for Ohio shall be won by the silly. It was a tough call between rolling blob and cross-eyed Brutus, but I laughed the most at the motion of the blob.


Montana Grizzlies vs. Providence Friars – The bear is good. However: No. Contest.



Radford Highlanders vs. Wichita State Shockers – It takes a hell of a mascot to knock out a power like WuShock, but damn it, Radford has a hell of a mascot.


Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks – I’m kind of boared with this bacon, but am loving that kooky cowboy.

Red Raiders


Kansas Jayhawks vs. Clemson Tigers – Please.


Bucknell Bison vs. Iona Gaels – Puh-leese!


Elite 8


Davidson Wildcats vs. Wright State Raiders – With no more Wildcats to face off against, Davidson loses its mojo. Also, that Viking dude has me staring at the wall in wonder. Have you ever, like, looked at a wall?



Xavier Musketeers vs. Providence Friars – It’s tough, but the blob is less freaky deeky.



Radford Highlanders vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – The aren’t enough guns even in Texas to combat this Texas Ranger of a Highlander.



Kansas Jayhawks vs. Iona Gaels – The cartoonish happiness of the Jayhawk prevails over the cartoonish demonic grin of the Gael.


Final Four

Wright State Raiders vs. Xavier Musketeers –  These mascots have put a lot of time in to face off against an opponent they live about an hour away from. The complete assemblage of mascots has helped both of these, but I’m losing my shit over the previous Rowdy Raider Viking dude.


Radford Highlanders vs. Kansas Jayhawks – I love these matchups! What a solid Final Four. Nevertheless, there can be only one, and we get closer to that with only two. Much as I love that Jayhawk, this is the year of the Raider and Highlander.



Wright State Raiders vs. Radford Highlanders – It’s tough, but it’s really not. It’s the MVP of this Mascot Bracket, the Rowdy Raider, who brings home the plunder for his team.


Wright State Raiders

Soak it up, boys; you’ve earned it.

Thanks for reading and rolling along with that ridiculous ride. I quite enjoyed it, and I hope you did too! Drop me a line with any questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to dribble back here next week for more fun.

Let the chaos begin!


Fantastic Franchises of Football

Congratulations Nick Foles and the Eagles! I mean, sure, I was rooting for your team to win the Super Bowl mainly because I didn’t want the Patriots to win and out of hope that an Eagles win will give us an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia based on the victory that will hopefully be on the same caliber as “The World Series Defense” which was inspired by the Phillies 2008 championship, but I was still pulling for you. No matter where your fanatic devotion or one game loyalty lied last night, you have to be pleased that we were treated to an entertaining game that will stand as more than merely one of the 53 Super Bowls played to date. Philadelphia will certainly remember it as their first time hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but even the most casual football fans will appreciate the magnificent game played by Nick Foles, especially the play where he became the first player to throw and catch a touchdown in the same Super Bowl (this is how you catch the ball, Tom):

Bravo Nick, you reminded us that you can really light it up from under center in a dazzling way… almost as dazzling as the clean look of clothing washed with Tide! That’s right, this post was a Tide commercial all along! (Please hang out with me, David Harbour….)

After that historic Super Bowl game, I took a look back at the games of Super Bowls past and started to wonder, who is the best franchise to play in the big game? There will undoubtedly be debates about the best players and teams to play in the game, and even the best games to be played on Super Sunday (Joe Montana, 1989 San Francisco 49ers, and Super Bowl XLII, respectively for me), but determining the top franchise based on its performance in the Super Bowl is a little easier, at least regarding being able to look back on multiple statistics, and chiefly, who won the games, how many they won, and how much they won by. This is what I spent some time perusing today, and I compiled a ranking of each NFL franchise’s aptitude in the Super Bowl. I considered a few key factors, like those I just described, especially winning percentage, as well as margin of victory throughout all Super Bowls that franchise has played in, whom they beat (and lost to). To break some ties I also considered how specific games went, and assessed game control for both the winners and losers.

I admit that I am no statistician, and this list is highly dependent on my personal opinion of what separates certain franchises where the aforementioned winning percentage and margin of victory (the difference between the number of points the franchise’s teams scored in the games and the number of points scored against them) could not as clearly determine an order. If you are interested in what I referenced to compose this ranking, then feel free to peruse the metric I made for it:

Best NFL Franchise Performance in the Super Bowl Metric

If you can live with that, then perhaps you’ll love this!

First, I’ll give a “you’ll get there someday… maybe” shout out to the four franchises that have yet to make it to the Super Bowl beyond hosting it:

Cleveland Browns – Ugh….

Detroit Lions – At least we’re not Cleveland!

Houston Texans – We’re still pretty new to this and have played all right.

Jacksonville Jaguars – We’re also newer and made it to the AFC Championship this year!

And now, the rankings of super Super Bowl participating franchises from worst to best!

28.) Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – I was really rooting for a Minnesota-Jacksonville game this year, but alas, the Norsemen of the Land of 10,000 Lakes did not get a chance to bring some bite back to the Purple People Eaters in the big game at home. They look a little better now that the Eagles won it all, but historically they have not played well in the Super Bowl, with all four losses being by at least two scores.

27.) Buffalo Bills (0-4) – Everyone in western New York knows they were soooo close in that first Super Bowl. A one point loss that could have easily been a two point win if it wasn’t for… I’m not even going to say it. The three consecutive Super Bowls that followed were not even close though.

26.) Los Angeles (then San Diego) Chargers (0-1) – Just one appearance to date for the Bolts of southern California, but they were soundly thrashed by their superior northern California cousins from San Francisco in it.

25.) Atlanta Falcons (0-2) – So, so close to cruising to victory last year before a miraculous (or more likely hellish) comeback from the Patriots that saw these birds get sunk in the only overtime in Super Bowl history. The earlier loss came from Denver, which is not something to be proud of.

24.) Carolina Panthers (0-2) – Barely above their NFC South fellows, the Panthers have also suffered defeats to the Patriots and Broncos, but each of theirs were late game losses by fewer points.

23.) Tennessee Titans (0-1)The Titans literally came as close to victory (or at least overtime) as any Super Bowl runner-up has.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) Perhaps the most amazing final few minutes in any Super Bowl came at the heartbreaking expense of the Cardinals who played an excellent game to cap a terrific season.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) – How do I have a two-loss Super Bowl franchise set above two that nearly won the only one each had been to yet? When the franchise you lost to twice by only nine combined points is the San Francisco 49ers at the peak of the Bill Walsh dynasty, then you have a pretty good argument. Especially when Joe Montana does this.

20.) Denver Broncos (3-5) – The Broncos are without a doubt one of the best teams at getting to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for their fans, they are also one of the worst teams once they actually get into the game. They have been on the losing end of some of the most lopsided scores in the game’s history throughout it’s history, including a 45 point defeat by the 1989 49ers I referenced earlier. Altogether, the Broncos have been outscored 36-148 in their eight appearances in the grand game. Nevertheless, they have come away with three Lombardi Trophies.

19.) Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1-2) – They scored their win in that oh, so close game against Tennessee, and suffered close defeats to the Chuck Noll dynasty Steelers and the 2001 Belichick-Brady Patriots.

18.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) – After last night’s victory, the previous two defeats (one also a close one to those B&B Patriots) don’t sting as much.

17.) Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Still the only franchise to have a Super Bowl champ that went undefeated in the regular season and postseason en route to carrying their coach, the great Don Shula (my university’s most well-known alumnus!), across the field. Unfortunately for Miami, their three losses were rough ends to otherwise amazing seasons.

16.) Seattle Seahawks (1-2) – It should be two if only they would have handed Marshawn Lynch the ball at the two yard line instead of throwing a pass! A pass! No matter how this most recent Malcolm Butler bullshit goes, he’ll always have that interception that never should have happened. Good job whipping the Broncos though!

15.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) – The first runners-up in any Super Bowl got to kick off the big game by getting kicked around by Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr’s Packers, but they got a trophy of their own against the Vikings a few years later.

14.) Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – The original team from Baltimore that now resides in central Indiana has gone half and half on the SB stage, thanks to legendary quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning each winning on one of two trips to the game.

13.) New England Patriots (5-5) – Some may be surprised to find the Patriots in the middle of the pack, but their record in the game is 0.500, and their wins have all been one score in games that went down to the wire. This is not to take away their five wins, still tied for second all-time, but their five defeats have not been as close, especially in their first Super Bowl against the shufflin’ Chicago Bears. Like the Broncos, they are great at getting to the game, but not the best at winning it, especially if Eli Manning is under center on the other side.

12.) New York Jets (1-0) – It’s hard to deny a perfect record, although it is a small sample size. That being said, this still remains one of the greatest sports upsets in history and served to show that the supposed parity between the merging football leagues was not as great as it appeared.

11.) New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Besting Peyton Manning is no small feat, especially on the biggest stage. And let’s not forget that second half opening onside kick! Gutsy play that finally brought the big game hardware to the Big Easy.

10.) Chicago Bears (1-1) – Super Bowl XX is the game that solidified Mike Ditka as a coaching legend. Da Bears were da champs after crushing the Patriots in the first Super Bowl for both teams.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) – The best of the single showing bunch thanks to an annihilation of the Oakland Raiders.

8.) Washington Change This Name Already (3-2) – They were 1-1 against the Dolphins and also bested the Broncos and Bills on the way to three victories. Now if only they can get rid of that racist logo and team name.

7.) Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (3-2) – No matter where they’ve been (or where they’re going) the Raiders have been the scariest looking franchise in the NFL thanks to some wild fans that remind us that the term is short for fanatic. They get the narrow edge over the Change the Name franchise by virtue of beating them handily head-to-head in Super Bowl XVIII.

6.) Baltimore Ravens (2-0) – The last of the unbeaten franchises is held back purely because the franchises above them have slayed in the Super Bowl. However, the Ravens have been no slouches in their numerous playoff appearances. They fortunately were not permitted to steal away the Browns history when they were stolen away from Cleveland in 1996, but since joining the NFL as an expansion team, the Ravens have made their own history with two wins over two of the best Super Bowl franchises.

5.) Dallas Cowboys (5-3) – The claim to be “America’s Team” may be contested by any of the franchises I have ranked above them, but one thing that cannot is that the Cowboys and their pals at the top of this list have earned their keep. Dallas gets extra props for having won over many decades.

4.) New York Giants (4-1) – Who would have thought that Peyton’s little brother would help ascend this franchise into the top five among Super Bowl champs? Well, he did, and he and the Giants bested the B&B Patriots twice to do so, including being the lone loss on the 2007 Pats resume. They also beat the Broncos and Bills, but lost badly to the Ravens.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – The owners of the most rings, the Steelers have been in the hunt for the big prize as regularly as the Cowboys, but they get the edge over them due to their 2-1 record against the Boys in the Bowl.

2.) Green Bay Packers (4-1) – The winners of the first two Super Bowls, the Pack Attack has gone on to beat the Patriots and Steelers to vault themselves into the silver medal slot on this list. Their lone loss came to the best of those Broncos teams by only a touchdown.

1.) San Francisco 49ers (5-1) – For all the analysis of various football factors, the answer to the question “who’s the best Super Bowl franchise?” was obvious from the start. The 49ers arrived to the Super Bowl mix somewhat late, but once they made their way onto the dance floor, they quickly took it over. After besting the Bengals in each franchise’s first Super Bowl, they cruised past the Dolphins to spoil Marino’s greatest season, then posted an historic final drive against the Bengals in the sequel to their first major matchup. The next season they absolutely obliterated the Broncos, 55-10, in the biggest outpouring of points and margin of victory by any team in any Super Bowl. A few years later, with Steve Young at the helm of the ship Joe Montana made, they outshot the Chargers. Since then, San Francisco has only made it to one other Super Sunday showdown, the Harbowl between brothers John and Jim Harbaugh. John’s Ravens got the better of his big brother’s 49ers, but only by three points thanks to a furious San Fran rally following a bizarre half-hour blackout in the stadium.

When all is said and done, the 49ers have won five Super Bowls by a combined 99 points and only lost one by 3. When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, no other franchise has proven to be up to the task like the San Francisco 49ers.

Thanks for reading! Rush back here next week for more hard-hitting and concussion-inducing fun!

Sports yeah go!