How to defend against mascot attacks
Before we begin this week's edition of the Varsity Tailgate, I must talk about a very serious issue plaguing college football today. No, not unscrupulous agents. (Although they sure are unscrupulous!) And, no, not players giving only 106 or 107 percent.
I am speaking of mascot attacks. Last week we saw Brutus Buckeye brutalized by the Ohio University Bobcat in what was just the latest mascot attack.
What should you do if you are attacked by a mascot? Here are "7 Tips for Surviving a Mascot Attack."
1. Don't run -- You will not be able to outrun a mascot. Mascots tend to be in very good shape thanks to doing push-ups following every score. The only mascot you might be able to outrun is maybe one from the worst team in the worst conference -- a mascot from a team that rarely scores. But I just don't picture the Duke Blue Devil attacking anyone.
2. Punch the neck -- Neck punching is fairly comical in the human world. But in the mascot world it can be a fatal blow. You see, most mascot uniforms have eyeholes in the neck, so when you punch a mascot's neck, you're really punching the person inside in the face. Try it!
3. Knock it off balance -- Look at the mascot you are fighting. Note the part that is comically oversized. (There will always be at least one part that is comically oversized; it's a mascot, after all.) Usually it's the head. Get that part going in one direction and the mascot will topple quite easily.
4. Use its tail against it -- Another trademark of most every mascot: the tail. For real animals, the tail helps with balance. But on mascots it's just a nuisance that can trip them up ... or something that you can grab onto and use to swing them wildly around in circles. Pro tip: Clothesline the mascot with its own tail for bonus points!
5. Play to the crowd -- We pretend we are a civilized people. But if a fight starts in front of 90,000 people, those 90,000 people will quickly become like the mob at gladiator duel in the Roman Coliseum. Use this. Tear the mascot's arm off. Beat him over the head with his foot. Make the streets run red with stuffing and fur. You want to be as brutal as possible. Remember: you're not killing a real animal; you're killing a costume. He may be Sparty, but YOU ARE SPARTA!
6. Try psychological warfare -- The thing that attacked you is a mascot. It was a young adult with hopes and dreams who went to college and became ... a mascot. There's a pretty good chance the person inside is a huge disappointment to his parents. Whisper that fact into the mascot's neck while you are fighting. He may start weeping and stop the attack.
7. Use weapons -- If all else fails, pick up a T-shirt cannon or slingshot. There's always one near a mascot.
Hope that helps! Let's begin the Tailgate ...
Game of the Week
No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas -- 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Two teams ranked in the Top 10. An SEC battle. Mark Ingram and Ryan Mallett. This is definitely a game every college football fan will want to watch.
However, a viewing tip, if I may: Watch this game on an old, standard def, tube television. The resolution will be worse, sure. But going from a letterbox to a square picture might cut Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino out of many of the shots, exponentially increasing the enjoyment of your viewing experience.
Another Game of the Week
No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State -- 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC
Oregon State painted one of its practice fields blue this week to help prepare for Boise State. And Boise State painted itself into a corner by hinging its national title hopes on a team that couldn't beat James Madison. (Yeah, see what I did there? It's joke paint-by-numbers.)
Yet Another Game of the Week
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn -- 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
I don't know what this kid's problem is. Why wouldn't he want to go in the Auburn store? What kid wouldn't want a nice Gene Chizik mobile hanging over his bed? GO TO SLEEP OR DO 1OO PUSH-UPS! IT'S YOUR CHOICE, BABY!
Cupcake of the Week
Temple: In recent years, Penn State dropped annual games with longtime regional rivals like Pitt and West Virginia, but kept its series going with Temple. Why? Because Temple is incredibly terrible at football and there's no chance it would ever hand Penn State a loss.
Unfortunately, Temple is no longer terrible at football. Last year the Owls went 9-4 and played in a bowl game; this year they're 3-0 and coming off a 14-point win over UConn.
Is Penn State going to lose (3:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network)? Maybe. But there are worse ways to go than death by cupcake. Mmmmmm. Sweet, sugary death.
Rivalry Game of the Week
No. 19 Miami at Pitt -- Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Pitt-Miami isn't exactly Ohio State-Michigan, but the Hurricanes and Panthers were Big East rivals back before the ACC took Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College in order to become a ... wait for it ... dominant football conference (hold for laughter).
So this game is not an historic rivalry, but both teams have plenty to play for. For example: winner earns the right to make fun of the loser's pathetic conference for the next week. YAY!
(UPDATE: With Miami's 31-3 win, the Big East is the early leader for the most embarrassing conference of the week. And if West Virginia doesn't upset LSU, they won't have a single team in the Top 25. Impressive.)
Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: If Arkansas knocks off Alabama, Ryan Mallett will shoot to the front of the pack of Heisman contenders. Then all he would need is a good Heisman promotional campaign with a snappy tagline like "Put Mallett on Your Heisman Ballot!" to seal the deal. Oh, wait. Schools don't really do those sort of old-school Heisman campaigns anymore, do they?
Never mind. How about just a trippy YouTube video of Mallet riding a razorback pig all the way across the sky over a triple rainbow. I would watch that.
Mascot Fact of the Week
For years after the creation of the Ohio Bobcats mascot in 1960, the student playing the Bobcat mascot had to live in the University's Lincoln Hall. But according to (ex-)Bobcat mascot "Fightin'" Brandon Hanning, he wasn't even enrolled at Ohio University this year.
It seems like Ohio should find a happy medium between the two. Like, you don't have to live at Lincoln Hall, but you have to be a student at the school. Because what fun is attacking the Ohio State mascot if you can't become the coolest kid on campus?
Tailgate Tip of the Week
Bring a camera: There are always memorable moments from every tailgate. Although I suppose I don't need to remind you crazy kids today with your Intertube technology to bring a camera. All of your hooziewhatzit and gobbley-dee-goo gadgets have cameras built right in.
In fact, if you have a funny tailgate photo you want to share -- past or present -- send it to VarsityTailgate@gmail.com or @DJGalloESPN on Twitter and I'll feature it in the Tailgate with your name and the name of your esteemed institute of higher learning. Obviously, certain standards apply: no nudity, no pictures of anyone blatantly committing felonies, stuff like that.
I know, I know. It won't be easy.
Tailgate Tip of the Week
Big Mac McWhorter: This is a tailgate hamburger made exactly like a McDonald's Big Mac. However, it's tweaked a bit to honor embattled Texas offensive line coach Mac McWhorter. That's right, you'll want to make the patty super thin so everything just seeps right through. ENJOY!
Quote of the Week
"In all my years of coaching, I probably had 20 [pregame] devotionals be the story of David and Goliath. I told our team the other day, 'We're not David anymore.' I'm tired of hearing about the story because basically it tells you you're not as good as these guys, that there's this little guy who threw a rock to beat Goliath. So I told the team, 'Let's be that Goliath and beat the heck out of the little guy.'"
-- Bobby Petrino
Beat the heck out of the little guy? Whoa there, Bobby. No need for this to get personal. It's not like you're that much taller than Nick Saban.
Stat of the Week
11 and 6: Laugh at the ACC and Big East if you want -- yes, I realize that you will -- but at least their teams play legitimate nonconference schedules. ACC teams play 11 games against ranked nonconference teams this year and the Big East plays six. Whereas the Pac-10 plays four and the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 play only three.
The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 need to man up and stop scheduling nonconference games against the ACC and Big East. Wait. What?
Coach on the Hot Seat
Brian Kelly: At 1-2 and facing a game against high-powered No. 16 Stanford (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC), I'm not suggesting Brian Kelly's job is already in danger. That would be insane. Like giving a first-year coach a massive new contract for almost beating USC insane.
But still. Brian Kelly might want to start winning a few games. Almost beating Michigan and Michigan State was nice, but almost doesn't equal a 10-year contract extension at Notre Dame anymore.
Lane Kiffin NCAA Violation of the Week
None. Lame. Anyway, many people at USC are miffed at the Trojans' continued drop in the polls. They keeping winning, but they've gone from No. 14 to 16 to 18 and now 20. Weird. It's almost like pollsters think that no matter how much USC wins this year, it's not going anywhere.
Name of the Week
Jewone Snow, LB, West Virginia: Yes, I want snow. In fact, I love snow. But fall just started. Let's take it one step at a time.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week
The Nick Saban-Bobby Petrino matchup for the Alabama-Arkansas game will result in big ratings in the Miami and Atlanta markets in the Schadenfreude 0-100 demographic.
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.