Build a Better Offseason: Recommendations for the Week of March 11

Kicking Us Off This Week: Shmaltz Brewing Company's He'Brew Funky Jewbelation

Kicking Us Off This Week: Shmaltz Brewing Company’s He’Brew Funky Jewbelation

College football’s offseason is two months old already, but that means there’s still a little under six months until the 2013 season. It’s an eternity for any college football fan, and while many of us indulge in watching other sports, it just can’t compare to fall Saturdays.

With that in mind, we bring you the latest installment of our weekly feature, “Build a Better Offseason.” Every seven days or so, we’ll provide recommendations on what to do with all your free time now that you’re not all-consumed by college football, specifically focusing on beers, books, movies and sporting events. There’s also “this week in shame,” which you can view at the bottom of each piece.

Beer

He’Brew Funky Jewbelation, by Shmaltz Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY (American Strong Ale, 9.8% ABV)

Pricey, and certainly not something you’d try more than a few times, He’Brew Funky Jewbelation is an interesting brew from Shmaltz. For those in the Syracuse area, it’s made just a couple hours away, but I’ve only had it here in Southern California (found both on tap and at BevMo in 22 oz. bottles). From a flavor standpoint, Funky Jewbelation is a dark pour that reeks of the rye whiskey and bourbon barrels it’s been aged in (in the best way). Warm and rich, it’s a dark pour that provides conflicting tastes of the aforementioned bourbon, along with brown sugar and some fruity notes as well. I’d recommend splitting this one with a friend, since it can feel like a meal.

Book

Loose Balls,” by Terry Pluto (1991)

The American Basketball Association was one of the most colorful, fascinating (and bankrupt) sports organizations to ever exist. And it’s also created much of what we love about today’s NBA game (for those of us who are avid fans, anyway). Pluto’s accounts — from what is probably a few hundred first-person sources — gives the most in-depth and fun look at the league that’s ever been written. Whether you’re a fan of one of the four surviving ABA teams (Nets, Spurs, Nuggets, Pacers) or not, after reading “Loose Balls,” you find yourself rooting for them and the league, despite the latter’s demise many years ago.

Movie

Children of Men (2006)

Regardless of your thoughts on Clive Owen, Children of Men still manages to be a powerful film that firmly examines humanity’s strengths and weaknesses, while hitting on the all the key points we’d look for in a movie about an apocalyptic not-so-distance future. From faith (religious and otherwise) to trust and our response in the face of dire circumstances, it morphs back and forth from societal commentary to psychological thriller (and then, action movie) in a way that’s both deeply thoughtful and navigable at the same time.

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Big East Expansion: Who’s Looking to Start a New Basketball Conference?

Could Georgetown Be Stirring Up Another Big East Exodus?

Apologizing for the slight divergence from our regularly scheduled programming (football) in advance:

In what has become a weekly saga around these parts, we take a look at our (and by our, I mean Syracuse‘s) former stomping grounds (the Big East), which look more like a graveyard most days. While addition has been on everyone’s mind lately, it appears that some more future defections could lead to subtraction in the future (shockingly?). Says the Chronicle of Higher Education: “…two Big East members (that) have had conversations about leaving the conference to start a new league built around traditional basketball powers.” This is, of course, of no surprise to anyone who’s ever been on the inside of the hulking, slow behemoth known as the Big East. But the bigger questions still loom — who are the two Benedict Arnolds, soon to be the “new Pitt and Syracuse?” and if these schools were to form a basketball superconference, who else would be on board?

Obviously, the additions of schools like SMU, Houston and UCF to the basketball league do nothing for the overall quality but provide additional punching bags for the likes of Georgetown and Louisville. Since most of the Big East currently pads their out of conference schedule in advance of what’s usually a brutal 18-game league schedule, these additional bottom-feeders really don’t help. We can surmise that multiple basketball schools are unhappy about this, but which ones are so unhappy they’d consider defection? Keep in mind that candidates will almost definitely be of the league’s old guard, and won’t have a football program (or much of one to speak of). They also won’t be Providence, because John Marinatto and the school hold joint ownership of the conference (metaphorically). Which leads us to Georgetown and St. John’s. Why them, but not say Seton Hall or Marquette? Simple: TV revenue.

Once again, we know that schools are unhappy with this setup, but you have to look at which ones possess enough value to attract other big basketball schools away from their respective conferences and into the “Roundball League” (or whatever probably horrendous name it adopts). Since the Hoyas and Red Storm deliver parts of the New York and D.C. markets, these are your best options. We avoid Villanova since not only do they fail to be the hottest game in town, but their football program is looking to move up in the world (not possible in a basketball-only league). With these two main players set, the following Big East teams probably jump at the chance to join up: Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul. Assuming they aim for 12, who else do they grab?

In this scenario, we assume Memphis and Temple are pushed by the Big East failing to extend an invite (highly plausible). Recognizing the sinking ship they’d remain a part of, ‘Nova would finally jump to this league, as would Providence. For the final two spots (and to keep it semi-regional), I’d encourage George Mason and VCU. What you’re left with is a 16-team basketball superconference, whose weak link would probably still be DePaul (surely the Demon Deacons don’t find this as entertaining as I do). To be honest, they’d probably get just as many bids as the ACC for the NCAA Tournament every year (if not more). A frightening thought, but far too important to ignore.

If this all comes to fruition (we’re far from that right now), who’d you like to see in this basketball-only superleague? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.