The Top Champion Factory

Earlier I wrote about an upcoming football game between champions Appalachian State and LSU. Appalachian State’s upset of Michigan was a fluke as certain powers do tend to dominate in college sports. When looking at where the top professional players come from, found, “The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s most consistently successful programs function as pipelines to the various professional sports leagues.”

Where do the top athletes come from:

The biggest champion factory is the University of Michigan, which produced 68 current roster professional athletes. (Michigan’s archrival, Ohio State, placed second with 62.) Among Michigan’s alumni are 21 hockey players, including Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco; three baseball players, including Chicago Cubs pitcher Rich Hill; three basketball players, including Dallas Mavericks power forward Juwan Howard; and 41 football players, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.Football powers dominate our list, for several reasons. First of all, football teams are significantly larger than those of most other sports, so any non-weighted aggregation of pro athletes will contain more football players than, say, basketball players. Also, the NFL operates no minor league system like that of Major League Baseball; nor does the NFL allow its teams to draft players directly out of high school. The college football teams effectively function as farm clubs for the pros. Case in point: Miami earned the No. 3 spot on our list largely on the strength of its gridiron program. (The Hurricanes currently boast 50 alums in the NFL, more than any other school.)

Other schools succeed with a more diversified approach: No. 4 UCLA scored well in four of our five sports categories. (The California-based Bruins are laggards in ice hockey.)

Unsurprisingly, no Ivy League team made the list. But many of our champion factories enjoy excellent academic reputations. (Achievement, perhaps, is contagious.) Only a few of them are private institutions – the majority are large state universities that compete in a wide variety of sports, but place a special emphasis on football.

That’s certainly true of Michigan. The Wolverines have won more football games than any other program in NCAA history, including the first Rose Bowl game back in 1901. Among their many star players over the years was a future president, Gerald Ford. Their most prominent current alum is Brady.

Tom Brady may have missed bringing the Patriots to victory in 2008, but he does have three Super Bowl championships under his belt. He learned how it was done at Michigan, as Brian Griese’s backup on the undefeated 1997 team that won the Big 10 title, the Rose Bowl and a share of the national championship. Besides Brady and Griese (who currently plays for the Chicago Bears), at least eight other members of that storied Wolverines team are still in the NFL, including Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, who plays for the Green Bay Packers.

Still, Michigan would not have topped our overall list if it were just a football school. The Wolverines only rank fifth among all colleges for alums in the NFL, but they are No. 1 as a contributor to National Hockey League rosters. The Michigan teams that won the NCAA hockey tournament in 1996 and 1998 are still represented in the NHL by Turco and other alums.

Michigan’s men’s basketball program last won a national championship in 1989, but its famous Fab Five came awfully close in the early ’90s. The Five, who comprised an all-freshmen starting line-up during the 1991-1992 season, made it to the Final Four before losing to Duke in the championship game. As sophomores, they returned to the championship games only to lose a heartbreaker to North Carolina. Then it was on to the NBA, where two of the Five (Juwan Howard of Dallas and Chris Webber of Golden State) are still pursuing championships.

As for Brady, he didn’t win a championship during the two seasons he started for Michigan, but he won two bowl games. His last college game, the 2000 Orange Bowl, offered a forecast of what was in store for the NFL: He passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns while leading the Wolverines over Alabama in overtime.

Latte Liberals, Dunkin’ Donut Democrats, And Which Candidate Is Really Best For All

Back in 2006 coffee preference became a factor in predicting voting behavior. At that time the talk was of the influence of Starbucks Republicans on the Congressional race. For background information I’ll post a copy of a post at a previous blog on this topic under the fold. Basically the Starbucks Republicans were fiscally moderate, socially liberal upscale voters who opposed the war. We now know the outcome. The Starbucks Republicans are voting Democratic, joining many independents and Democrats who fit into their demographic. This year the same demographics are separating supporters of Obama and Clinton. The Times of London Reports:

Among voters whose voting choice is not based on identity politics, Mr Obama’s supporters are the latte liberals. These are the people for whom Starbucks, with its $5 cups of coffee and fancy bakeries, is not just a consumer choice but a lifestyle. They not only have the money. They share the values.

They live by all those little quotes on the side of Starbucks cups about community service and global warming. They embrace the Obama candidacy because to them he transcends traditional class and economic divides. He is a transformative political figure – potentially the first black man to be president – and is seen as the one to revive America’s faith in itself and restore America’s status in the world. For these voters the defining emotion is hope.

Mrs Clinton is the candidate of what might be called Dunkin’ Donut Democrats. They do not have money to waste on multiple-hyphenated coffee drinks – double-top, no-foam, non-fat lattes and the like. Not for them the bran muffins or the biscotti. They are the 75-cent coffee and doughnut crowd. For them caffeine choice doesn’t correlate with their values but simply represents a means of keeping them going through their challenging day.

Though they don’t doubt that global warming is important, they think it can wait. They want to make sure first they can pay the heating bills. They’re not in favour of the Iraq war but neither are they so focused on restoring America’s image in the world. They’re not necessarily racist, it’s just that they’re not especially animated by the idealism represented by the first black president. For them anxiety, not aspiration is the defining factor.

One factor is that, at least among the more educated upscale segment of his supporters, is that liberal values trump personal economic need in determining their vote. Issues such as the war matter more, making Obama voters reluctant to vote for a supporter of the Iraq war such as Hillary Clinton. While Clinton supporters view government in terms of what government can do for them personally, Obama voters look at the bigger picture. Obama supporters are more likely to view a need for government in terms of goals which cannot be accomplished by individuals alone, including responding to global warming, making health care more affordable, and fighting poverty on a national scale. Principles matter more to Obama supporters, making them prefer the candidate who has vowed not to resort to Swift Boat tactics and making them oppose the Democratic candidate who lacks personal principles and has engaged in Rove style dirty politics.

The downscale Democratic voters are more willing to vote for Clinton because they are willing to place their personal need over principle. They don’t mind if Hillary lies and cheats if they perceive that she will lie and cheat to give them more government assistance. Obama voters are more concerned about matters such as which candidate will restore the Constitutional balance between the President and other branches of government, while Clinton voters don’t mind an autocratic president if they believe she will use her power to help them.

This division is really unnecessary as the perception that Clinton will do more for them is not based in reality. Hillary Clinton, who supported Wal-Mart in their fights against unions, can easily afford a $5 million personal loan to her campaign, and refuses to disclose her tax returns hardly shares the interests of the voters she seeks. Whenever the economic views of Obama versus Clinton are evaluated rationally rather than emotionally, Obama’s plans come out as far superior. For example, The Washington Post compared the economic stimulus plans of each candidate. Obama’s plan earned an A- while Clinton’s plan received a C-, barely beating John McCain’s D+. Clinton’s economic plans are devised to inspire political support but, like her poorly constructed plan to help with the mortgage crisis, do not stand up to scrutiny. Obama is the best choice for both Latte Liberals and Dunkin’ Donut Democrats


Obama Has Slight Edge In National Poll, Strong Lead For This Weekend

Barack Obama has a statistically insignificant lead in the latest Newsweek Poll:

On the Democratic side, Obama is the first choice of 42 percent of Democratic voters and those who lean toward the Democrats, while 41 percent support Clinton. A statistically significant number, 17 percent, still remain undecided. This may translate into good news for Obama, who carried Democratic-leaning independent voters 49 percent to 31 percent in the poll. Clinton performed better among registered Democrats; 45 percent prefer her, compared with 40 percent for Obama. Supporters of both candidates feel strongly about their choice. The survey found that 62 percent of Clinton supporters and 60 percent of Obama supporters feel strongly about their candidate.

Obama’s support is strongest among African-Americans (68 percent), college graduates (49 percent) and men (47 percent). Clinton enjoys more support among those with a high-school education or less (48 percent), whites (44 percent), women (44 percent) and voters 60 and older (44 percent).

Among all Democratic voters, Obama is seen as the more inspiring and exciting candidate (63 percent to 25 percent) and more able to bring the country together than his opponent (50 percent to 34 percent). But he enjoys only a small advantage when it comes to which candidate is seen as mostly likely to bring about change (44 percent to 38 percent), a major theme of both campaigns. Clinton, on the other hand is more apt to be seen as the candidate with the right experience for the job (62 percent to 22 percent) and ability to get things done (50 percent to 31 percent).

Supporters of both Obama and Clinton are equally likely to put the economy first (48 percent to 47 percent), while Obama supporters are more likely to consider the war in Iraq–which the Illinois senator has objected to from the outset–the more important factor (20 percent to 12 percent). Democratic voters across the board consider the economy and jobs the most important issue (46 percent), followed by health care (21 percent) and then Iraq (17 percent).

The Gallup Daily Tracking polls showed Obama with momentum in the days before Super Tuesday with Clinton suddenly moving back in the lead. The last few days following the Super Tuesday results have shown a trend back towards Obama.

In polls of this weekends events, Rasmussen has Obama with a large lead in Maryland (leading 57% to 31%) and Virginia (leading 55% to 37%). Survey USA has Obama leading 52% to 33% in Maryland and 59% to 39% in Virginia. The Insider Advantage Poll has Obama leading 52% to 37% in Virginia.

Woman of the Year


MSNBC’s David Shuster might be suspended for his inappropriate comments on Chelsea Clinton, but this is one story where he can say whatever he wants. Paris Hilton has been named Woman of the Year by the Harvard Lampoon, as reported by the Harvard Crimson:

Paris Hilton, who can claim to be a party-girl extraordinaire, world-class socialite, and reality TV star, can now add another credential to her resume—the first ever Harvard Lampoon “Woman of the Year”, a spoof on the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual “Woman of the Year”.

“You know, I’m like a lot of you Harvard students, really,” she said in a short acceptance speech on the steps of the Lampoon castle. “You have a Lamont Library. We also have a Lamont Library, except it’s a club in LA where celebs go to dance on tables and get crazy.”

Paris might not have understood that it was a spoof, but she did work hard on her acceptance speech as seen in the video below:


Paris also had a special message for the guys at Harvard:


The Battle of Champions

Appalachian State, three time national champion in their division, will be facing BCS Champion LSU on August 30. The two were originally scheduled to play in 2009 but the game was moved up due to an opening in LSU’s schedule.

Appalachian State blocked a potentially game-winning field goal in the final seconds against fifth ranked Michigan to win 34-32 in one of the biggest upsets in college football history. (Michigan changed field goal kickers during the season.)

LSU previously beat Appalachian State 24-0 in 2005, but following their recent success several top teams have decided against playing them. Appalachian State does have future games scheduled against Florida (2010), Virginia Tech (2011) and Georgia (2013).

Considering how Michigan dominated Florida in the Capital One Bowl this year, perhaps Appalachian State can also pull an upset against Florida. I’ll be rooting for Appalachian State in each of these games, but I fear that LSU might be too much for them to handle.