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US Soccer Fandom & Conference Championship Week

Mike Lewis kicks off this week's podcast with discussion of the United States's growing soccer fandom following USMNT's win over Iran. This sparks conversation on what people soccer draws in the United States and why.

Then, Mike explores College Football Playoff scenarios as we enter conference championship week in college football.

Watch/listen to the full episode here:


Mike Lewis 0:00

Hey welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast with Mike Lewis and Doug Battle from Emory University. Doug, I just watched where the we're taping this minutes after the US advances to go to the next round of the to get the knockout round or the FIFA cup. You have been dealing with technical issues so you did not get to watch this game. In some ways, it's the most glorious thing ever. I mean, it is so tribal they're showing the crowd these folks in you know wearing red white and blue draped in the flag on one side screaming for the American team and the other side you know, the, the Iranian men and women again, draped in the flag and the traditional colors. Just screaming with as much anger sorry, more anger than a spike squad UGA member during an Auburn glorious

Doug Battle 0:55

glorious Yeah, that that sounds sounds about right for FIFA time. It's funny you mentioned the hatred between Georgia and Auburn because took that's been reignited this week with a Hugh Freeze hired down on a plane planes. Little you know, a couple of weeks ago, we talked about sports washing and I've never seen sports washing like the Hugh free story of second chances. Same with Bruce Pearl and Auburn the the Auburn hates back in the state of Georgia, I think,

Mike Lewis 1:26

well, let's get there. But let's let's stay on soccer just for a second because yeah, of course, kind of interesting numbers. The US versus England soccer game last week on Friday, I believe. Drew 15 point 4 million viewers. That's a big number. I mean, that's more than that. That's beyond World Series kind of stuff. And this is this is happening on a Friday afternoon. In contrast to the number I want to get right. My internet search says that the last time the US women won the FIFA World Cup in 2019 14 Point 3 million viewers. I don't know Doug. So what's the potential audience? If the US man were to win a FIFA World Cup, sat a 60 million person audience, a 50 million person audience on a Monday afternoon. Right?

Doug Battle 2:22

As the universal sports event is back, the new Super Bowl, what's the Super Bowl numbers just for reference?

Mike Lewis 2:29

I mean, the Super Bowl is so out there, right? The Super Bowl does 100 100 million folks. So but you know, you're I mean, you're you're a generation Z guy, Doug. And we always have these debates, as you know, where is sports gonna go? Maybe maybe the future is soccer, you know that we're gonna see this. And again, I don't I don't know how you look, I think we always got to be careful when they're wearing the when we're wearing the USA, right? Because then because then you have the tribal affiliation kicking right in which you don't get when they're wearing the, you know, LA Galaxy, or, you know, that stuff has to be built up over decades, but you put USA on. And then this is frankly always been the problem with the woman's game and the women's team is that the brand is Aimia This is a little bit of a hot take that the brand is really embedded. Not so much in that. That group of ladies but it's embedded in the wearing the USA national Jersey in potentially the biggest sport in biggest tournament in the world. But, man, maybe the future is soccer.

Doug Battle 3:37

I think the future is pickleball that's my personal take on soccer is

Mike Lewis 3:45

I think is for 26 year olds.

Doug Battle 3:48

Yeah, well, you know, soccer is certainly I don't know, it's always felt like if the US men's team ever had any level of success, there would be that level of excitement and they just haven't had that we've talked about that. You know how championships are a big part of what builds fandom and of course long way off from winning a FIFA coffee and beating Iran and Wales and tiny England is probably the most success the US has had

Mike Lewis 4:16

tideway tide England titles anyone in Iraq zero. Yeah. And, and I'm proudly going to proclaim my ignorance they review calls, they had a video review, I think near the very end where Iran wanted a penalty for a penalty kick. You know, it's okay. Totally betraying my something shocking to me about soccer. And I don't know how much of this you've watched, you know, they've got something called overreach time, right?

Doug Battle 4:50

So they've got a clock, right?

Mike Lewis 4:52

Don't reveal how much time is actually left in the game. And then when that suddenly there's this mysterious number of fun I've minutes, seven minutes, nine minutes, but only the referee knows exactly how much time is left.

Doug Battle 5:06

Do we know why that is? Do we know why that? why that's the case? That's always been a head scratcher for me. Yeah, soccer. I guess for me it still doesn't do it for me. And I think I speak for some subset of man. Yeah, exactly. Well, I was just last like on Thanksgiving before I got sick by the way I'm if I sound under the weather or look under the weather it's because the quiet under the weather. I was so under weather other the weather might I had a free ticket to the Georgia football game on Saturday. And I did not go that's when you know you're down bad.

Mike Lewis 5:44

Okay, yeah, now

Doug Battle 5:48

I get you know, you're down bad. So all that to say, Yeah, USA is playing England and one of my cousins, you know, Thanksgiving or whatever, I guess it was Black Friday comes up. And it's like, this could be a huge tie. For us. This could be a big tie. Like I normally say like, this would be a big win. And I just like there's something wrong about that to me, Mike. I was more interested in the egg bowl. And I mean, of course anyone who listens to the show knows that that's kind of my default is to fall back on college football, but I really feel like I have to make an effort with with soccer, football, whatever you want to call it. How do you what do you think about that ad though, Mike the the ad about whether it's called football or soccer and kind of portraying fans and their positions on that there's been quite a bit of sports fandom advertisements this year, it seems with modelo and there was some other one you were pretty critical of earlier.

Mike Lewis 6:47

Well, it was tied, basically saying fans are kind of jackasses. Yeah, and then there was medalla who who's been doing this tribute to the fans and multiple ads talking about I think the latest one right is they're talking about how being a fan is a lifetime commitment. And in some ways, it's a beautiful thing from my perspective. Yeah, the the what is it Beckham and Peyton Manning?

Doug Battle 7:20

Yep. Looks like a Superbowl ad. It's pretty star studded.

Mike Lewis 7:24

Okay. My take on it. Again. Not gonna be a popular take. I think we're supposed to say oh, it's beautifully done all sorts of celebrities. Looks like a Superbowl ad. What a waste of Peyton Manning. It's like you got you got maybe the best commercial spokesman out there. And then that ad just keeps going on and on. didn't work for me. He liked it.

Doug Battle 7:48

I you know, it at least got my attention. I thought I just from a strategic standpoint, I found it interesting that clearly had a kind of budget as far as production quality of a Superbowl advertisement. Say what?

Mike Lewis 8:02

What's the product being advertised? Okay, and again, tongue in cheek in a way right? But I mean, Doug's now search googling it. So I am LA. Okay, so in some ways, a disastrous ad, right. Because that's always kind of the takeaway from some of these things of, well, what's actually the product being advertised? It is like, no, it's just sort of an amateur movie. Right? Yeah.

Doug Battle 8:30

I think that's fair. I think that's what it comes down to. I just I what I was saying was like, it's always been interesting to me, like college football playoff doesn't get little baby Super Bowl ads, or the NBA Finals. It's like, everyone goes all out for the Superbowl. And there's other smaller events, but still sizable events. Don't get a lot of love from advertisers. And so it's interesting to see such a clearly a priority put on the FIFA World Cup from Frito Lay, even though I didn't know it was them and taking that approach. So anyway, I I found it at least entertaining.

Mike Lewis 9:09

Yeah, I mean, it's entertaining. And I agree with you 100%. It looks like a Super Bowl ad. Even the way like the storyline evolves, where it starts somewhere and then starts to evolve. And they're bringing in some additional, they're bringing in some additional people. But like, I don't know soccer calling. It's a fight over whether they're calling it soccer versus calling in football. It strikes me like a 1992 plot premise. But

Doug Battle 9:38

Fair enough, fair enough. So whose us got next might?

Mike Lewis 9:43

Oh, I don't think we know I think we now we're moving on to the knockout round or the single elimination round, which in some ways, Doug, I want I do want to get your take on some aspects of the sport itself because I do You think there's something you know, if you break sports down to their attributes, you know, there might be some value in to understanding, you know, what, in fact is happening, right? So baseball is often criticized because it's too slow paced. It's in that translates to boring because you know, you're waiting three minutes for the pitcher to throw the ball. But attention spans are now 30 seconds. So everyone eventually kind of drifts off and starts looking at their phone. And then suddenly, some action happens, right? Soccer has this kind of continuous flow, which is a non SOCCER GUY, I'm watching. I watch the better part of all three games, I actually kind of find it a hypnotic, it's like time just passes, and I suddenly have watched half a game of soccer. But the thing I want to ask you about is the penalty kick structure that they use in soccer. What do you think of that where you play this game? And then suddenly, it's defined by this one on one matchup of, you know, players versus goalie?

Doug Battle 11:03

Yeah, it seems like more often than not. That is what the game comes down to. Well, it regardless of you could play at nine minutes of soccer, if that's what we're gonna call it, can we just go you call it soccer, just for the sake of this podcast? We want to call it but with every time we're located,

Mike Lewis 11:20

we're located in Atlanta, Georgia, US Soccer. All right.

Doug Battle 11:28

Apologies to our Brazilian listeners, but we're gonna go with soccer. Yeah, so it seems like 90% of its 99% of the time, that's what the game comes down to. And you know, I was actually made a comment during that England game about corner kicks and how it seems like a big deal every time and everyone gets all excited. Like, this could be the goal. And I don't, I don't watch a lot of soccer Mike. But I don't know if I've ever seen a corner kick that actually was converted into a goal. Again, that probably shows how little soccer I watched. But like I said, it seems like nine times out of 10 If someone scores it's gonna be on a PK. And I don't know is strategically maybe just don't don't commit any penalties. And, and probably give yourself you're my dad, for anyone listening. My dad played soccer at Emory, believe it or not, Emory, I think you're the captain. So could have been one of your students, Mike, if you taught medical school, but, or pre med. But, uh,

Mike Lewis 12:38

that's a very kind of casual way of suggesting that I'm much older than I am dark. I appreciate that.

Doug Battle 12:45

That's not what I meant. But all that to say I have soccer in the family. For whatever reason, I as a rebellious child decided that it wasn't for me. And so if I sound ignorant about it, it's because I am. And I apologize for that.

Mike Lewis 13:03

Like, that's okay. I mean, because like I said, on some level, this is sort of an abstract conversation. So we think about soccer is a sport, continuous flow with, you know, punctuated with some set pieces, things like the penalty penalty kicks, or the penalty kick structure, to, to, to end to break ties, to essentially for overtime. If you think about the way America is changing demographically where a lot of folks are coming from countries where Soccer is the number one sport. Maybe the growth, the growth in youth soccer relative to the decline in youth baseball in some segments, there's probably a lot of reason to think that soccer has some very nice prospects going forward. Beyond that, you know, oddly, culturally, in your age group, you know, I've got a set and this is maybe more of a local story. But it does feel like in your age group of, let's say, the 20, sort of the young millennials and the young Gen Z's that soccer also had kind of a generational moment, with kind of some of the hipsters getting into it. Almost like it was a rebellion. You tell me if I'm getting this right or wrong, almost like a rebellion of some folks against traditional American sports of I'm going to be a SOCCER GUY.

Doug Battle 14:29

Yeah, it's, I mean, we see that in Atlanta, right with the Atlanta united and how it's like the trendy thing like and even with, like University of Georgia grads, so people who grew up going to SEC games went to SEC games in college. I know so many people in Atlanta, who will say, you know, yeah, well that was fun back then. But now I'm really a SOCCER GUY. I'm really united guy. I love going to the bins and watching some Some soccer and so people take pride in you, it's kind of that outsider mentality, or that it's the type of person who always wants to be unique or find something unique that they identify with. And soccer is kind of become that niche in the US with the MLS. And so, of course, you know, the US women's team has kind of been that for women and the United States. And now like with the men's team, I heard a player referred to as Captain America, during the game, just having it on in the other room while I was dealing with all kinds of issues in here, trying to get my mobile setup. But but, you know, I think that it is growing. And I think that I think also another element of it as parents are more comfortable. The kids playing soccer every, you know, all my cousins that I've seen over Thanksgiving, you'd ask him, you know, so what's a little Johnny gonna play this year then say, well, we're not sure if we're gonna let him play football, we're just, you know, we are not sure about that. He's gonna play soccer, though. He's gonna play soccer, you know, start out playing T ball was, you know, starting to like soccer. So I think there's more kids that are kind of encouraged in that direction. And there's a growth from a consumer standpoint, as far as watching it. And so might see a kind of resurgence or rebirth of soccer in the US, of course, it's it's been thriving pretty much everywhere else.

Mike Lewis 16:26

I wonder if soccer is going to be the kind of the baseball killer, right? And so that's where baseball is really in danger is they're gonna lose those kids that, you know, traditionally grew up to be baseball fans are gonna lose them to be soccer fans. And like you're saying there's kind of this part of it could be sort of this. Like, I remember the kind of sort of a marketing example, rather than a sports example, you know, some classic American brands, Cadillac, for example. And Levi's ran into trouble because they started to be perceived as my grandparents jeans or my grandparents car. And I wonder, you know, going along with what you're saying that this is kind of the it's almost a little bit of a rebellion to be a soccer fan. It's It's fascinating, right? Especially here in Atlanta, where you're rebelling by being with 50,000 people in the bends. In the Mercedes Benz stadium, right? When, you know, there's only 30,000 People watching a Braves game.

Doug Battle 17:27

Yeah, and I'll say this to about soccer fans and kind of what separates them. I think there's this level of nuance, at least that they identify themselves with. And of course, I'm generalizing. But I'm speaking on behalf of, you know, from observations of the general cohort that I see, in my life, they have this, they view themselves as new arts where it's this type of people that they don't like Starbucks coffee, right? They like, they like the local spot, you know, and they, they're not going to get the, the basic cup or they're not going to get the they're not going to get a Budweiser when they go to the bar, they're gonna get the local brew, right? If they're in Georgia, they're gonna get creature comforts. It's that crowd to me, like there's an overlap. There's this crowd that they view themselves as nuanced, a little bit different, not basic, not in the mainstream. And they take pride in that. And soccer is kind of an extension of that identity for a lot of these people.

Mike Lewis 18:22

That's, I think that's well said right, that that's the brand is a little bit different. It's a little bit, you know, we use if you're establishing a social identity by what you're into. I think what you're saying is that for this younger generation, soccer is a more interesting or more attractive thing to connect yourself with than it is than baseball perhaps. Is your telling that story, though. All I kept thinking was, you know, if you and I were on the road, and we were and you want to stop for coffee, I would start looking for McDonald's, so I don't even

Doug Battle 18:55

Starbucks a little fancy. Yeah, I like that. I like that. Yeah. So and for advertisers, soccer might present a unique opportunity, right? Because if you have, you know, if that is a huge portion of the population that watches people that are looking for something a little bit differentiated a little bit, you know, for more niche products, like I mentioned, creature comforts, and that crowd, like the brewery crowd definitely seems to like soccer. And I think breweries have been showing us games. And there's good reason for that. Like, there's overlap and those and so I think that for in sports marketing, it'll be interesting to see, you know, who takes advantage and who the big winners are, if soccer does rise, like you're talking about in the US, and

Mike Lewis 19:44

maybe the one break on all this right, the thing that will always limit US Soccer is it's probably next to impossible for us soccer teams to compete with the international brands that have been up there for so much longer, right that it's hard Do imagine the Atlanta United being a globally thing brand at the same level as Manchester United. And so, you know, what is the potential for us fans? And yeah, I mean, you could talk yourself into a scenario where US Soccer will grow to the same level as the elite, pre European leagues. But if we know anything about sports brands, it's really tough to get from one level to the next level.

Doug Battle 20:28

Yeah. And I think that's what's exciting right now with the US because the one US Soccer brand that does have that longevity is USA 1776. Been around? And I think there is that kind of built in fan base that's just waiting. As soon as there's any level of success that will come out of the woodworks and I think we've already started to see that.

Mike Lewis 20:51

USA 1980 Lake Placid Olympics miracle, the same thing. So enough soccer, let's get into something that, at least you're much more comfortable with. Is the is this in luck? We got one more week we got the conference championship. But is this the least contentious? entry point into the college football playoff? You know, the least debated have I heard someone say that there's going to be a debate between who should be number one Georgia, Michigan. And I think I think they're just reaching for that. Georgia, Michigan TCU. And it looks like USC

Doug Battle 21:35

right now. Yes. And I think if it stays that way, I think if those four teams went out, really, I don't think it matters of Michigan or Georgia win or lose this week. TCU is probably in either way as crazy as that sounds. And so I think it really comes down to USC, if USC takes care of business and the Pac 12 championship. I think it's the least debated final for college football playoff.

Mike Lewis 21:59

If he loses, then Ohio State takes that spot, right? I mean, well,

Doug Battle 22:03

that's when it gets that's when it gets interesting because if you look in the town, we're talking the rankings haven't come out quite yet the college football playoff rankings. But last week, you had of course, Ohio State was in front of Michigan, and USC and TCU. And so you'd imagine they of course, they dropped behind Michigan, then with one loss, being behind the two undefeated at this point. And then right there behind them with everyone who's lost was Alabama. And then Tennessee is right behind Alabama. Oddly enough. Tennessee has the same record as Alabama. They have a dominant win over a team that beat Alabama. And they have a head to head win over Alabama ranked behind Alabama, though. So that's one where if for whatever reason, if Ohio State were to drop behind those SEC teams do don't don't lose again, right there. No, they can't lose again. So I'm saying if the rankings come out tonight, and this is Tuesday, and I have states like seven or what? Let's see. 4567 Yeah. So if there's seven or six, that I think that's when it gets really I think that's when they're controversy is because

Mike Lewis 23:15

do you think the committee would ever open themselves up to the havoc that we create? Stay team low?

Doug Battle 23:23

As I hope not, I mean, I understand the argument. You know, like, honestly, I understand the argument more for Tennessee than Alabama, Alabama really hasn't their best wins or for loss team. Tennessee, has had some really strong wins on the road against LSU at home against Alabama, you know, one of their losses was two and undefeated. The other loss was was really what killed them. But but to a red hot South Carolina team at night on the road, like it's having watched South Carolina over the years, those are tough games and to look at Ohio State schedule. And to see that like, it feels like the only good team they played they lost to significantly. And it feels like a slap in the face to a school or a team that feels like this was their year and it was a special season and they beat all these good teams doesn't matter. So, you know, I understand the argument there. And that's where I see there being controversy is if one if two SEC losses were equated with one big 10 loss, that's what I see there being a lot of controversy, because between Alabama and Tennessee, that's a huge discussion if it came down to those two. And then of course, Ohio State with one less loss, but a weaker schedule. I don't expect that I know every Alabama fan I know has been talking the last two weeks, you know, we could sneak in there, you know, we might just stumble upon another championship, like we did in 2017 when we didn't even win our division and won the national championship. I don't expect it though. And like you said, if USC loses

Mike Lewis 24:53

down Can I ask you a question? I mean, if Alabama went to Seven and 406 and five, isn't there a percentage of that Alabama fan base that would be talking about how they deserve to be in the playoff.

Doug Battle 25:10

Nick Saban has been saying it so there you go hold him up. He's rolling them up. But yeah, they're I mean, they're, they're always will be. And I will say like as, like being objective, as a, you know, as a fan of one of the teams that's going to be in, it's funny when they put like they have a 98% chance of winning, and there's literally not a scenario that are 98% Chance making the playoff. And there's not a scenario where Georgia or Michigan don't make it. Make it 100%. But you know, as a guy pulling for one of those teams, it's like you would your worst nightmare is having to play a hungry, Alabama team or Ohio State. Those teams that are equal and talent equal and recruiting equal and resources to you, and who haven't played their best football yet. That's always scary to me. And I know that like going back to 2017, I experienced that with Alabama really probably playing their only good quarter of football year in the fourth quarter the national championship and winning a national championship that way. And so you know, it's it's funny when you look at it, because you're like, Well, you know, they might, they're one of the four, or as if you're pulling for the number one team, Alabama and Ohio State are both in the top three teams that you don't want to play. That's how I view it. I'd rather play USC or TCU. But at the same time, when you look at like, what of these teams aren't, I think absolutely TCU and USC, the body of work that they've put together to this point, what's going to be interesting, the interesting scenario to me is if USC loses and TCU loses TCU has had a really weak strength of schedule. And could there one loss be counted as less than an Alabama or Tennessee? That's where it becomes highly debatable, I think. And so I don't expect that though. And I'm personally hoping everybody takes care of business this weekend. So there's not all this hoopla over the 14 playoff

Mike Lewis 27:06

when you're hoping that they take care of business.

Doug Battle 27:10

I'm hoping USC and TCU and Georgia and Michigan.

Mike Lewis 27:15

I wasn't even thinking about to TCU. But I think you've identified the potential issue. The last one loss team. And they can be easily on the outside looking in. I'll geek out for just a second, you know, because one of the things you mentioned here was they have percentage rate percentage predictions that they'll make. The teams will make this I think we see these kinds of percentage predictions all the time now the percentage that the USA will beat Iran when there's six minutes left in the game, and there were up one nothing. You see these con Utley. I think it's interesting that no one ever talks about where these things are coming from. They're just thrown up there. Yeah. In you bring up a good one, right? Because there is no there's like, there's almost no conceivable way that Georgia doesn't make it to the college football playoff. But what they do on these things is they use is this suspect they're using a tool called logistic regression where they're predicting the probability that something happens, this event of making the college football playoff based on the team's record, and maybe some of the other teams records. But what we don't know but the key is we don't know what's in their models, and we don't know what's not in their models. So you know that the 98% might come from the fact that well, there was once this team called UCF, which didn't make the playoffs despite being undefeated or one loss team. And so in some ways, it's like this kind of fake or sort of, there's a lot of leaks, a lot of the analytics that are now put up there just as numbers become gospel, when really they're probably not even worth thinking about as Jordan making the playoffs.

Doug Battle 29:04

Yeah, and it's just like, practically when you look at it, if you have a 97% chance to the playoffs, but you're gonna be in whether you win or lose like they're saying there's a 3% chance that you know, the team bus catches on fire or something on the way that the game like I don't I don't understand where that 3%

Mike Lewis 29:25

are saying Boise State didn't make it in seven years. Right, right.

Doug Battle 29:30

And on the flip side of that you saw I don't know the number exactly but USC last week on ESPN analytics. That's what we're gonna call it had like a 12 or 13% chance of making the college football playoff and all they had to do they literally control their own destiny if they their situation was be Notre Dame at home, and a game that your favorite in the lower ranks three or four law US Notre Dame team, and then win your conference championship and the game that your favorite in, in your in and they had like a 13% chance 13 or 14% chance of that happening. And I think Alabama had greater odds of making the playoff at the time according to analytics, even though Alabama had to be Auburn. And then they don't control their own destiny. They don't have a game this week, and they need several teams to lose in order to make it I think they need TCU to lose USC to lose and much favor in terms of being ranked in front of Ohio State, Tennessee, and TCU or USC to be in. To me, it seems like that there's something off with those numbers if that team has higher odds than the position that USC is in with a potential Heisman winning quarterback, and you know, full control their destiny.

Mike Lewis 30:53

Yeah, like I said, you know, it'll be it's always there's, there's always something for the college football analyst to talk about. And especially like, I think, like the, the College Football Radio guys to talk about. And like I said, you know, you're rooting for people that take care of business I'm now desperately rooting for. And I hadn't even thought about this, rooting for a TCU loss. Because I think that's the ugliest and most controversial outcome that we can have from next week.

Doug Battle 31:25

Yeah, I can appreciate that. I'm normally pulling for chaos this time of year. But with things steady for, for when your team is doing well, and things are just lined up pretty nicely. It's hard to pull for

Mike Lewis 31:40

sure. Your team needs to last by your team means they don't get a essentially a home game to start the playoff. Right.

Doug Battle 31:48

Yeah, it's kind of an interesting situation there. Because I think that most Georgia and Michigan fans, if you were to pull them would say they would rather play TCU in the first round than USC, they feel like USC is the more dangerous team because of their head coach because their quarterback because of the talent. They haven't receiver ever running back and on defense. And so it's kind of a toss up where it's like for, for Georgia. If they win this game, they get to choose where so the number ones he gets to choose where they play in terms of which bowl game which college football playoff location between Arizona and Atlanta. And of course, they would choose Atlanta and have that home field dominance and get their third game of the season in Atlanta. Just an hour or so away from campus. And but on the flip side, it's like, well, if they were to become the two CD, if Michigan were to jump, Georgia, like on the bright side for Georgia fans, you might have an easier matchup in round one. So it's interesting to me that the one seat doesn't get to choose who the four seat is. I think that would be a good system personally. But it's I personally feel like if Georgia loses to LSU, which is possible that, you know, it's kind of like well, maybe we dodged a bullet. Like maybe, maybe USC is catching lightning in the bottle right now. They've played some good football the last couple of weeks. And I mean, of course, everyone, the one team two that everyone's disrespecting now is TCU I think that Georgia fans are completely overlooking them. pletely completely. Yeah, Michigan fans. It's kind of like their view like Cincinnati last year. We've had those teams where it's just kind of it's expected that they're going to be blown out purely based on the perception of their conference and of their school relative to the bluebloods. And so DC is that school? I know that they're probably hungry for an opportunity to prove everyone wrong.

Mike Lewis 33:48

How do you like the the potential fun of Georgia losing in the art? Well, okay. I've seen speculation where Michigan might be ranked number one because they have the best victory, right and beating maybe a suspect Ohio State, you know, I mean, it's, it becomes almost a circular argument. So let's say Michigan, they both win. So in some ways Georgia gets robbed of their spot, even though they continue to win. And then Jim Harbaugh chooses to take the game in Atlanta to make George's road a little rougher after two years drubbing you know, Georgia's defeat of Michigan that could you know, that can make for a fun national championship game sort of a little bit of kind of crap being thrown on both sides.

Doug Battle 34:39

Yeah, I think that's what I think everyone's predicting a Georgia Michigan National Championship at this point. I don't I don't see a lot of predictions for USC vs TCU. You know, I could having watched Georgia quite a bit and having watched Michigan over the course of the season, and kept up not really watching TCU but keeping up with us. scores and keeping up with them and USC and how tightly their games have been contested. I will say that there have been several weeks this season where Georgia or Michigan has played at a level where they would lose to anybody they would lose to the way South Carolina has played these last two weeks, Georgia would have lost to them. You know, having played how they played against Missouri, and I think Michigan had those games more so early in the season for them when McNamara was playing quarterback. Bottom line is there's a level of unpredictability that the 14 playoff brings that BCS maybe didn't have, or if nothing else, teams like USC and TCU feel like they have their fair shot at a championship. And you know, we may end up with that Georgia, Michigan matchup, everyone's predicting. I personally think Michigan looks a lot more dangerous this year in the passing game. And their run game certainly has evolved. And I think Georgia is as dominant as they were last year against the run there. They've lost a lot of talent, everyone that's been well documented, but even throughout the season, they lost a crucial piece of their defense, who was a big part in stopping the run. And so last year with the Michigan matchup there was kind of this confidence that you know, they're running team, and Georgia is going to stop the ride and make them one dimensional, and then just suffocate them. I think this year Michigan fans have a lot of reason to be optimistic about you know how rematch fares given the circumstances. And I know that Jim Harbaugh is probably still licking his wounds from that one and hungry to get some revenge. And so I think that would make for a great college football national championship story. And we'd love to see it.

Mike Lewis 36:40

Yeah, I'm going to struggle to I'm going to struggle to get enthusiastic about Michigan for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is they needed a lot of help to beat in Illinois team, a lot of referee help to be to know right team. You know, it's,

Doug Battle 36:59

did they say hi to you? Yeah, sorry, team, because the Michigan because Michigan Ohio State, both to me at different points in the year have looked like the best team in the country. And there's also points in the year where they don't even look like a ranked football

Mike Lewis 37:13

team. Yeah, um, well, I'm just more making the point that, you know, a couple of I mean, there are three or four questionable calls in that game. And if one of those goes the opposite way, then suddenly Michigan is one loss team. And there's no debate about Georgia remaining number one, right. And so it's, it does seem, you know, a little bit of, and again, look, I'm an Illinois guy, and so I'll just be fanboy for a second, you know, this, this emphasis on protecting the brands to set up undefeated matchup of two versus three. And then the way you got there is suddenly is suddenly kind of is suddenly forgotten. Yeah, I look, I'm a fan. So I'm petty enough that I hope Michigan faces Georgia again. And they similar outcome of last year.

Doug Battle 38:03

Would you rather see that? Or would you rather see TCU slash USC come out early? Do you want to see it really hurt? Because what would really hurt is getting your hopes up thinking issues that year. And then, you know, I think if you're really Petey, that's probably the angle.

Mike Lewis 38:23

Like the other side of me definitely is fascinated by, you know, the, the marketing angle to this. And so, if we see, Georgia versus USC in the first round, and Michigan versus TCU. Man, I want to see those TV ratings. Right. And I do wonder, like the difference between them a Georgia TCU matchup in a in a National Championship game versus a Georgia Michigan matchup. You know, you might be cutting the audience in half. Yeah. So this is, but like you said, you know, the beautiful thing about all this stuff is every year, we have some kind of dramatic outcomes that make for a lot of interesting discussion. Okay, Doug, so we're gonna cut this one a little bit short. NFL thoughts. I mean, I'll give you my big NFL thought. This is, this is a that might, you know, like, I will always drive these things back to quarterbacks. So Deshaun Watson getting the ball, you know, for in week 11 Or week 12? I forget where we're at. Will this will he be as dramatic of a difference as I predicted he would be at the at the beginning of the year? Or is it frankly kind of too late a guy getting in there, there's too much rust and they're gonna limp to the finish. That's that's one story. And I'll let you comment on whichever these you want. Number two, have the Jets given up on Zach Wilson. Have they given up on number two or number three pick in the draft? I think it was number two To pick wasn't he just a season and a half in? Have they decided to move on yet again? And the third one I'm looking at is, you know, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, you know, has time caught up to these guys. You know, both teams struggling. Statistically Brady still has some nice results in terms of yards thrown touchdowns to interception ratio. Aaron Rodgers you know, he, like Aaron Rodgers still does a magical thing. But who's the who's the backup love? What's his what's the Jordan?

Doug Battle 40:36

Jordan love? Yep.

Mike Lewis 40:39

Do the Packers further alienate Rogers and get a look at Jordan love if they're not playoff bound?

Doug Battle 40:50

Wow, I thought with Aaron Rodgers, you were gonna go a different route. Mike this week, a story broke that former NFL quarterback Deshawn Kaiser was was questioned by Aaron Rodgers on his beliefs about 911 when he joined the Packers, and that he was told by Rogers that he should really read up on 911 conspiracy theories. So Aaron Rodgers continues to be a fascinating figure, clearly, little regard for what anybody thinks about him. And, you know, it was endearing when it's funny how these things work, when you're winning, everybody loves it. And when the ball starts bouncing the wrong way or the other way there is it starts to rub people the wrong way. And it might become an excuse to

Mike Lewis 41:41

Todd who was aligned with the way that season has gone. I can't get that image of him showing up to training camp. Dresses, Nicolas Cage.

Doug Battle 41:54

He, yeah, he might be the world's most interesting man right now.

Mike Lewis 42:00

But go ahead. No, yeah, I mean, but you're but you're right, when you're 13, and three are 13. And four, it's incredibly interesting when you're, you know, three and seven, or four and seven, it's kind of gets a little rough.

Doug Battle 42:15

It's like Tom Brady throwing the iPads or the tablets on the sideline. You know, if Justin fields is doing that, and the bears are two and 10. There's ESPN segments about his character about whether or not he's the leader. And when it's Tom Brady, and the Buccaneers are four nil or whatever point in the season that was happening three and one. And it's look at the passion of this guy. This is a competitor. This is a alpha competitor. This is the kind of guy who becomes a champion. And this is what you want on your team. And so it's amazing how, how we interpret these things through the lens of winning and losing and I of course, kind of touched on that early in the episode with the reference if you freeze being hired at Auburn, a few years removed from hiring prostitutes for recruits or something along those lines at Ole Miss. But there's nothing that winning can't do for you in football, and in this country. It seems. Yeah, I

Mike Lewis 43:17

had forgotten the details of that one. But it's Yeah, I mean, like it in some ways, it's the fun like I don't want to make too much light of it. But you know, that kind of chaos in SEC football in SEC football will always have a very distinctive kind of chaos. Yeah, it is almost part of the that is almost part of the brand like the Wild West kind of kind of aspects to this because I mean, it's like some of the coaches down here like Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin, right. It's it's in some ways it all works, even though it probably shouldn't in some ways.

Doug Battle 43:59

Yeah, absolutely. So this week, I told you I'm looking for I'm looking for just to clean Saturday, no injuries, just keep the status quo with college football. Sounds like you're looking for a little more chaos. I like I said, I can understand that. I think we can both get behind Georgia. avenging Illinois. loss to or suppose that loss to Michigan earlier this season. So that

Mike Lewis 44:31

you can you can be the rational guy in that way. Okay, so given her a little bit of dead battery issues on one of the cameras, we'll wrap this one up a little early today. So as always more And next week, I believe next week, we're going to unveil our NBA brand equity fandom ranking. So that should be a fun one as well. uh with that you know thanks for listening and we'll talk again next week



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