Archive for August, 2005

Get Excited

August 5, 2005

My first thought when I looked at Texas 2005 home schedule was: LAME! We get Louisiana-Lafeyette, Rice, Kansas, Texas Tech, and Colorado. And while I am still not overly excited about the schedule that I do have my eye on one game. TEXAS TECH.

I really like Tech, probably my second favorite team, and aside from Texas I watch more of their games than any other team. But it wasn't until I looked at their schedule that I got excited. See everyone is all high on Tech, and Texas for that matter, because they both had huge bowl wins. On the flip side everyone is down on OU because of what happened in their bowl game. While momentum from bowl games do carry over into the offseason and even into the next season I think all the emphasis on bowls is overrated. I am not going to say that at #2 and #21 either of these teams are overrated, but I do think people are high on them for the wrong reasons. I am glad the coaches are smart enough to see that OU is still a top program.

Anyways, it wasn't until I looked at Tech's schedule that I got excited about this particular game. Tech usually starts off the year slow and in past years they have struggled with or lost to teams like SMU, New Mexico, Ole Miss, and NC State. So this year Mike Leach decided to take a different approach in his non-conference schedule. No away games, no D-1A games. Florida International(technically D-1A but you wouldn't have know that had I not told you), Sam Houston State, and Indiana State are their three preseason games. I dare to say they will start 3-0 and their newest 5th year senior quarterback will be right at 2,000 yards passing. Then they have Kansas, the worst team in the Big 12 North(thats saying a lot), AT HOME. I'm going to go with 4-0.

After that comes the test, Tech travels to Nebraska. Some people will be quick to point out that after the Red Raiders beat the Huskers by 60 last year this will be an easy win. I'm not so sure about that. That 60 pt loss is only going to be fuel for the fire for a vastly reloaded Nebraska team not to mention the game is in Lincoln which was the hardest place to play in the country for about a little over a decade. This will be the swing game that will tell how big the Texas-Texas Tech game will be. See Tech's problem is they have to be hated on to succeed. As soon as someone starts getting high on them and starts predicting their success they flop. Last year a week after they scorched Nebraska they fell flat on their face against Texas. If they want to win in Lincoln they will need to keep their nose to the grindstone after 4 straight HUGE wins. So lets say they beat Nebraska that means they will be 5-0 going to Lubbock to play KState. Starting off at #21 if they go 6-0 that should put them at the mid to low teens by the time they get to Austin. Thats a helluva matchup.

In years past the Tech offense has put up stupid numbers with undersized tooth and nail type receivers. With Jarret Hicks, possibly the best receiver playing college ball, leading the way they finally have some big body prototypical NFL caliber receivers. In this system, that is scary. Now no doubt about it I am a Texas fan first and foremost but I am not going to be delusional in thinking that Tech can't come in here and win. In the past 3 years they have beat us once and were a missed field goal at the buzzer away the second time. It would not be completely out of this world for Texas to lose to Ohio State and OU going into the Tech game. Is it possible that Texas Tech could be favored to beat Texas in Austin?

And after the Texas game the schedule gets favorable again. @Baylor, Texas A&M in Lubbock, @Oklahoma State, and to finish up OU in Lubbock. I think it's fair to say there has not been a better time in the history of the school for Tech to go undefeated. Now, I'm not saying that will happen in fact I predict they will go 8-3, but if you start discrediting this team you are feeding right into their hands bite you in the ass.

hj

Redbox: The Attack on Blockbuster

August 2, 2005

Earlier this summer I was walking into a McDonalds for lunch and I noticed a huge red box, sort of like a vending machine, just to the side of the door as you walk in. It advertises itself as renting DVDs at $1/day. It looked pretty shady at first but the more I looked into it the more ingenious I realized it was.

The way it works is you scan your credit card or debit card. From a touch screen you select a DVD from a list of 40 new releases that gets updated every Tuesday. You can select as many as you want. If you return it by 10pm the next day the cost is a whooping $1+tax. You pay a dollar a day plus tax for every day you keep it up to 25 days at which point you have bought yourself a $25 DVD. Once you return the movie the box emails you a receipt and charges your card.

If you are like me when you go to rent a movie it’s because you are planning on watching it that night. By the next day it has already served its purpose so the 3 or 5 day rental they charge you more for is all for not. Or say you do plan to keep it for 3 days. Find me a Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, etc where you can get a 3 day new release rental for 3 bucks. Another convenience is, unlike Blockbuster, you can return it to any Redbox location.

All of this out of an automated box. It's open 24 hours a day, all the costs of employee's wages, benefits, etc do not drive up the cost bc they don't exist. Redbox started last summer in Denver. They setup 105 locations around the city almost exclusively outside McDonalds. In less than 6 months they rented 1.7 million DVDs. 105 locations… 1.7 million DVDs. That’s impressive. That all started last June. Here we are its August 2005 and they have 1,200 locations across the country. They've grown 10 fold and expanded to 7 cities stretching coast to coast in one year.

So I started looking into the cities where they expanded. Vegas, Hartford and D.C. have a total of 37 between them. On the other hand Salt Lake City, Houston, and Minneapolis all now have hundreds. I found it weird they chose these cities. No New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Boston, etc. Hartford, Connecticut? I don't get it.

So then I start thinking it obviously has little to do with the city's population. I have narrowed it down to two factors. Factor #1 fat cities. Houston for the 4th time in the past 5 years was named the fattest city in the US. I have to believe there is a strong correlation between a fat city and the amount of traffic the average McDonalds gets. Factor #2 movie watching (renting) cities. I can't find any rankings as far as what cities rent the most movies but would it shock you that people in Minnesota rent and watch a lot of movies during those killer winters?

What I'm thinking is they chose cities and locations where they can make the quickest return on the investment they made in buying all the equipment that goes into the redbox and all the DVDs. That way the will be able to continue to grow quickly and won't run into cash problems.

My next question is who is paying who. Does Redbox pay McDonalds to set up shop on their property so they can take advantage of the customers the golden arches bring in? Or is it McDonalds who pays Redbox because every time a Redbox is installed outside the number of Big Macs they sell notches up? I am willing to bet it's Redbox who is shelling out the cash but if this idea really explodes maybe that should be reversed or at least an equal partnership should form.

Once upon a time it was Blockbuster who had the innovative business model and ran the movie rental industry. Ironically, it will be the innovative business models of Netflix and Redbox that run them out of town.

hj

Herbstreit Picks Texas A&M

August 2, 2005

Many of you know of Kirk Herbstreit the insightful, obejective college football analyst who works on ESPN's College Gameday set. Usually Herbstreit is very good in his analysis of games and even in his week to week picks. But his preseason predictions are usually aweful so it is fitting he picked Texas A&M to win the Big 12. Texas A&M is a solid football team no doubt. But they are not going to win this conference. They are not even going to win their division although I guess that kinda goes along with not winning the conference.

First off, I like Franchione's style of ball. The Aggies play very disciplined football and don't make the mistakes that give games away. Last year they gave the ball away less than nearly anyone in the country. Reminds me alot of Parcells style football. A lot of Aggies think this year holds a lot of potential. That is where I disconnect. A&M had some positives last year but they had a lot of negatives. They start the season off getting creamed by Utah. They lose to Texas and OU. Barely edging out Tech AT HOME in OT. Lose to Baylor. Get stomped by Tennessee in their own backyard.

There are some positives. They will be in year 3 with Fran. Reggie will be a senior and everyone else will be a year older. But then you look forward and look at the schedule. Although they were able to weasel their way out of the Utah game I still don't see how they can improve on last year's 3rd place(7-4) finish in the regular season. Lets break it down.

Loss #1
Texas: "t.u." and Mack Brown absolutely own A&M even at Kyle so it would definetely be a huge upset for them to win this game.

Loss #2
@ OU: OU lost a lot of talent and there are a lot of new faces but thats where all those years of great recruiting classes kick in. No way A&M reverses the 77-0 defeat in two years time.

Loss #3, #4 (They will lose 2 of these 4)
@Tech(It's been nearly a decade since A&M has won up there), @Colorado, @Clemson, @Kansas State

So to have a better season than last year they would have to win 3 of these 6 games not to mention take care of business against all the shoe ins(SMU, Texas State, Baylor, Oklahoma St, and Iowa St) something they did not do a year ago. To win the conference they would have to 1)win all the shoe ins 2)win all 4 road games against the tier 2 Big 12 teams 3) beat UT or OU. Having the same record and finish as last year is doable. Having a better record is stetching it. The @Clemson game won't count for or against their conference standing so they will really have to win 2 of the 3 road tier 2 games for the conference standings. Throw in the fact that the last three games of the schedule are @TTU, @OU, and then Texas, this prediction is absurd.

Just because A&M is set to have a good year doesn't mean everyone else is going to sit around and watch. Texas and Tech both have the best teams they have had in a long time. OU lost a lot but they are still a top 10 team. I do think there are going to be some shake ups in the Big 12 this year. OU will lose one game, and exactly one game, to either Texas, Tech, or A&M. Texas A&M simply has too many games on the road and everyone else is too good for them to win this conference.

If you ask me this is Herbstreit's way of expressing his frustration with the fact that Texas is going to whip his beloved Buckeyes in their own backyard.