Monday, December 05, 2016

The College Football Eight Team Playoff

I was very pleased when college football decided to go with a playoff system.  It is much better than the BCS system that it replaced, which was itself much better than its predecessor.  A four team playoff is good for the game.  However, were I given the reins from the NCAA, I would expand the field to eight teams, and then put a system in place that does not rely on the discussions and opinions of a playoff committee to determine which teams made the final eight.

Right now, that playoff committee chooses what four teams make the field.  They can take many things into account, including a team's ranking, impressive wins, and who they lost to.  They can think about injuries and off the field issues.  They can think about tough road games and bad refereeing.  They can look at the whole picture to choose which four teams they see as most deserving.  The problem with this, in my eyes, is that everything is based on opinion.  I would propose a system where most of the field is selected not by opinion, but by the champions of the five major conferences.  You win your conference, you get into the playoff.  It's just how it works in college basketball, and pretty much every other sport in the country.  Leagues are made up of divisions; you win your division, you get into the playoff.  The same theory should apply here.  Many sports have wildcard or at-large playoff entrants, but in the end, teams who do not win their conference or division are never guaranteed a spot in the playoff.  Just ask the 2008 New England Patriots, who finished 11-5 and missed the playoffs.  Fair?  Maybe not, but conference and division championships are the only way to guarantee a playoff spot.

The three remaining spots of the playoff would be filled with the three highest ranked non-champions.  Yes, there is opinion in the creation of the poll, of course, but going this route will leave no question as to who will make the field.  Win your conference, get in the playoff.  If you don't win your conference, be one of the top three non-champion teams in the country, get in the playoff.  There would be no guessing, no who-will-the-committee-select type questions.  You then take the eight teams that made the playoff, and you order them based on their ranking, and that gives you the eight teams, seeded from 1 to 8.  Done, let's play some football.

The 2016 playoff committee has just released its playoff bracket, which looks like this:


As an Ohio State fan, I am very excited that the Buckeyes are in the playoff.  However, I'm not sure I would have given them the spot over Big Ten champion Penn State, considering the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes during the regular season.

Using the above described eight team playoff method, the playoff would look like this (I am using the AP poll for the rankings):



Conference Champions:
Alabama (SEC)
Clemson (ACC)
Washingon (Pac-12)
Penn State (Big Ten)
Oklahoma (Big 12)

At-Large Births:
Ohio State
Michigan
Wisconsin

This year's bracket would create a few oddities: all three at-large teams are from the Big Ten, meaning that four of the eight playoff teams are from that conference.  In theory, there could be a rule in place that limits the number of teams from any particular conference.  The bracket also creates a repeat matchup between Ohio State and Oklahoma.

However, I believe this eight team playoff provides the most straight-forward and fair way to determine a national champion for college football.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vote on the Title of my Book! Yay!

I have continued work on my fantasy novel, presently titled Praeteran.  I have just hit 71,000 words, which, while still a little short, is in the range that I wanted to hit.  While I do have a few more edits planned, I am hoping to have the first person other than me read it in the very near future, which should be easy enough, because she lives in the same house I do.  :) I will likely then have more edits based on her feedback.

For now, however, I have been thinking about the title, and I thought I'd see what my legions of loyal followers think about it. And thus, please vote in the poll! Yay for democracy in action! (In a non-binding way!)  

What should I name my current novel?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Praeteran Update 2

I have recently completed the rough draft for my current novel project, a fantasy novel currently titled Praeteran.  I seem to write rough drafts short, as I have been quite under my final target word count each time.  This rough draft was less than what I'd like it to be at the end by at least half.  It ended at about 35,000 words, and I will get it to between 70,000 and 90,000 words by the time I am done with it.

One thing I have done is rework the outline for the whole series.  I initially envisioned and outlined The Anarchist Chronicles as a five book series, but I have since shortened it to a trilogy, allowing me to move a bit from what was previously book two into book one.  I am in the middle of revisions of the whole manuscript, as well as writing additional chapters for these outline changes.  I have a lot more work to go, but I have upped the draft from 35,000 words to 47,000 words.  There is a lot more work to do - extra chapters to write and lots of detail to add.  But I am on my way.

One thing that I realized I did not fully explain in the last blog entry was about the viewpoint and tense of the book.  Like I said, I am doing the book in first person, like I did with my previous book, Override.  However, unlike that book, there will not be a single viewpoint character, but multiple, and the viewpoint character will change at every chapter break.  This will be interesting, as this is considered by authors to be a more difficult way to write.  The top of each chapter will list the viewpoint character for that chapter, but you also have to give each of the viewpoint characters a distinct voice.  I am trying to do that, but we will see how successful I was when I have other people read it.  (Which will be a while, of course.)  Most of the book will also be in present tense instead of past tense, except for a few choice chapters.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Aspiring Author

I've been upping my writing work recently, on two fronts. First off, I have sent off query letters for my recent science fiction novel, Override, to literary agents. If any of them have their interest piqued, they will ask for a full manuscript, which would be fantastic. I sent off such query letters for my first two novels, The Second Shadow and Queen of Men, never getting a request for a manuscript. In theory, my writing is getting better, and so my chances keep going up. So we shall see. :)

I am now working on my fourth book, a young adult fantasy novel tentatively titled Praeteran.  This is actually related to my first novel, The Second Shadow.  I have outlined a five book series titled The Anarchist Chronicles, with Praeteran being book one and The Second Shadow being book three.  If I manage to write the whole series, I would rewrite that book three.  I am doing something a little different this time around.  Override was the first book I wrote in the first person point of view, and I am continuing that strategy with Praeteran (and likely with the rest of the series).  I am hoping to hit 90,000 words with this book, which would make it the longest I've written.  I'm presently at 12,118 words and moving forward.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Override

I have posted a couple times before about my current writing project, a more science-fiction based story currently titled Override.  I have hit somewhat of a lull in my writing, but I hope to be past that soon.  It is being written in first person, uses a good dose of sarcasm, and is (hopefully) more of a character driven book.  So we shall see.  However, I wanted to post an excerpt from the first chapter to show the kind of story it will be, and to get any first reactions to it.  So if the writing seems terrible, just let me know, and then maybe I'll stick to the normal fantasy writing I've done before. :)


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Life is good.  And by good, I don’t mean that it holds a high quality, or that it is naturally benevolent.  I mean it is skilled.  Skilled at reminding me just how much my life sucks.

What do you do when you’ve royally screwed over everything you’ve ever done?  Your life up to the present point has been an impressive assortment of tremendous miscalculations.  It’s nearly as though every choice you’ve ever made has been incorrect, from the shirts and pants you throw on each morning, to the woman you’ve selected as your lifelong mate.  Each morning, you wake up and prepare yourself for the job you should never have accepted, in the career field you don’t understand or excel at.  You’re surrounded by evidence of the truth that haunts your every waking moment: your life, at this very moment, is precisely the opposite of all you had hoped it would be, and completely reversed from everything it should be.

This sounds like the start of a self-help book.  But it’s not.  This is my scourging life.

Not that these exact examples have anything to do with me.  Seriously.  I just tried to come up with relatable things, things that normal people might have felt disappointment with.  The mistakes I’ve made are really not anything like this.  They’re much, much worse.

So, I’ll ask you again.  Actually, no, wait.  What in God’s green but now black and brown Earth am I talking about?  This is just inner monologue.  If I start to get responses, then I’ve obviously gone farther off the dock than I thought.  It’s a defense mechanism, as I’ve heard from a million different court-appointed counselors.  I also tend to daydream, moving my attention away from things in reality that I don’t really want to deal with.  And that’s what is happening now.  If you, nonexistent voyeur upon my thoughts, could see what was happening in front of my eyes at this very moment, you would want to escape from it too.  I only hope the sight is gone before I wake up.  It’s really rather frightening, though I have to admit, I have no idea why it’s happening.  I seem to be blocking out the last few moments.  Some part of my defense mechanism, I’m sure, or selective amnesia or some other psychological jargon that I wish I didn’t remember.  Well, whatever happened to bring me here, it appears to be really rather frightening.  I guess I already said that.  I pray that my bladder can restrain all of its contents.  I’ve heard of people having their life flash before their eyes in a moment of extreme panic, and I suppose that’s what this is.  Oh, good, cause all those wretched counselors haven’t made me rehash these events enough.

Anywho, this is my story, one that should never be told, since it never should have happened.  I am not who I should have been, or who anyone should have been.  I did not become what I was purposed for.  No, I’m not looking for pity, so wipe that sympathetic frown off your fictional face, cause I’m sure you haven’t hit the bull’s eye with every one of your choices.  But I’ve never hit it.  When you see all those marks on the wall, not even hitting the target, think of me.  Cause that’s where all my shots have hit in life.

What can I say?  I’ve been rather efficient at stupidity.

Or so I’ve been told.

It all started on the eighth of June, in the year 2182, in a run-down motel northeast of Saint Paul, Minnesota.  No, I admit that it doesn’t sound like the most exciting place to start a thrilling story, but what do you think this is, science fiction?  This is still just my life.  Anywho, it was the Happy River Motel, I believe.  A lovely little spot overlooking the Saint Croix River, except for all the roaches and the smell of death.  I don’t really remember that day, for I didn’t even start it alive, yet it is a day that will ever be important to me.  You see, it was the day I was conceived.  I know the date because it was carved on my father’s tombstone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jobs, iPhones, and Novels

Did you know that my life is, in general, not all that interesting?  Yes, it's true.  I know it's shocking.  Thus, nearly five months between blog posts.  I might end up doing something in the near future, where I use an online random blog topic generator to come up with ideas for posts.  (I am, of course, always accepting questions for Ask Cooper Anything, for this blog or for Don't Feed the Hypocrite.)

Here is a quick recap, however, of a couple of the interesting less boring things from the last few months.  First, in July, I transitioned from contract worker to full time employee at Rust Consulting in Minneapolis, doing database programming.  It's nice not to wonder whether my contract will be extended every few months.  I also finally joined the twenty-first century, trading in my old dumbphone for an iPhone 5S, and I've been quite happy with it.  It's nice to do all the smartphone related things, but especially nice to have a GPS device, and once again to be able to read my Kindle books on the bus.


In writing news, earlier this year I started work on a science fiction-esque book, presently titled Override.  It's quite different than anything else I've written, and allows me to write from a first-person point of view, and lets me write quite sarcastically.  I also set out to write a different book for NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  While I am not going to come anywhere close to that goal, I do have a decent start on that story, which also has some science fiction elements and is presently titled Sensur.


I've been having an interesting thought run through my head concerning these two stories: with a little tweaking, they could become compatible.  So now I'm considering combining those two stories into one, which may end up as a book with dual timelines, where everything comes together nicely (in theory) at the end.  I'm still considering whether or not to do this, but I like the idea of it, I just need to work through some things and determine whether it makes sense to do it that way.  That would certainly be unlike anything else I've ever written.


So we'll see.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ask Cooper Anything 5: Where to Live

"If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Assume for the purposes of this question that the people you want to live close to would also be there, and that you would be able to find a job."
- Erik C.

To come up with this answer, I had to start be eliminating the places I wouldn't live, coming at this from a practical point of view.

For starters, and this may seem incredibly lame to some people, I'm going to go ahead and disqualify a massive percentage of the world.  I actually wouldn't really have any desire to live outside of this country.  There are places around the world I think would be neat to visit (New Zealand, England, Egypt), but this country is my home and I don't ever see myself living away from it.

Next, however much I love the ocean, I don't want to live next to it.  Especially in Florida, or any place where hurricanes are a real possibility.  That's just something I would never want to deal with.  While places like California eliminate themselves due to the ocean, I also wouldn't want to live anywhere that has a good chance for earthquakes.

I don't want to be too far south, as I'm not a fan of scorching heat, and I really do enjoy being able to experience all four seasons.  Geographically, Alaska is my favorite state, because of the mountains and the ocean.  I'd be more likely to live near the ocean in Alaska than in Florida, but the high temperature in southern Alaska is maybe 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, so the window for enjoying the outside during that time is fairly small, and I want to be able to play softball and do other such outdoor activities for a good amount of the year.  So no to Alaska.

Oddly enough, my current state of Minnesota fits everything pretty well so far.  The one thing that it is missing is my favorite geographical feature: mountains.  So, I would probably choose somewhere with a similar climate to Minnesota, but more mountainous.  This puts me a little farther west or southwest, ending up in western Montana, or perhaps somewhere in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado.  I do like having access to the big city, and yet I'd be just as happy being in the middle of nowhere, though preferably with some kind of city within reasonable driving distance.  I'd love a large amount of (low maintenance) land, where I can't see any neighbors.  As long as I can have access to high speed Internet.

I'd probably end up picking somewhere in western Montana.  That probably is quite a pathetic answer to some people, but it seems pretty nice to me.