George R.R. Martin's frighteningly detailed universe returns for Season Four this Sunday night and will neatly bisect the college football offseason. When it starts, we will be almost exactly three months into the offseason. When it ends, we will be about three months from kickoff.
I'm hardly the only college football fan who enjoys a little trip to the Seven Kingdoms. This also seems like the right time of year to create tortured analogies between critically acclaimed cable dramas and college football. Game of Thrones and college football have the capacity to shock us. They occasionally nauseate us. We frequently wonder if the guy in charge has any idea what he is doing. So here are the historical college football analogs to major events in the Game of Thrones universe.
More of this sort of thing
More of this sort of thing
Ned Stark loses his head: Michigan loses to Appalachian State
Ned Stark is a man from the past. The leader from the North, he finds himself in a world that he doesn't understand. He plays the game in an outdated style -- most notably by foolishly telling Cersei Lannister of his plans to tell King Robert that Robert's son Joffrey had a father and an uncle who were one and the same -- and as a result, finds himself in a dungeon.
And just when it looks like Ned will escape by being exiled to the Wall, a last-second twist sees Ned's head lopped off to the glee of most watching. How do you kill off a main character in the first season of a drama?
Michigan was a program from the past. The "leaders and best" from the North, they found themselves in a world that Lloyd Carr didn't understand. They played the game of football in an outdated style -- most notably by having no idea how to defend a run-based spread offense -- and as a result, found themselves trailing an FCS team at home.
And just when it looked like Michigan would escape by kicking a last second field goal, a last-second twist saw an Appalachian State player running away with the ball as the clock expired to the glee of most watching. How do you kill off the No. 3 team in the country before 4 p.m. on the first day of the season?
The Battle of Blackwater: Doug Flutie beats Miami
The shortest guy on the field leads an inferior force to a surprising triumph. Bonus points because of the mental image of Stannis Baratheon with Jimmy Johnson's hairdo.
Viserys Targaeryan gets crowned: Lane Kiffin gets canned
Everyone likes to see the twerp -- the guy who has a name, but little or no merit or talent -0 get his comeuppance. The moment when the guy with the silver spoon in his mouth is finally forced to realize his own limitations is precious, whether it comes with a crown of molten gold or the lonely feeling of a team bus pulling away from a tarmac as its just-deposed former coach watches it disappear. (Tyrion Lannister slapping Joffrey also comes to mind here.)
Melisandre gives birth to a smoke baby: Ohio State's wins under Jim Tressel
Hard to watch, and yet undeniably effective.
Theon Greyjoy gets tortured by Ramsay Snow: Ty Detmer gets tortured by the Wrecking Crew
Although I quite enjoy watching Game of Thrones, the Season Three plot line of Theon Greyjoy getting tortured was a little much for my tastes. How much repetitive suffering do we have to watch one man take, even a character as unlikeable as Theon?
Take away the fact that the victim had be contemptible before his ordeal, and the feeling of watching Theon take a remarkable beating was pretty much like the experience of watching the 1990 Holiday Bowl. In a time when Texas A&M's offense was Neanderthal and its defense was overwhelming (times have changed a bit, don't you think?), the Wrecking Crew handed out one of the most savage beatings that any quarterback has taken in recent memory. By the end, recently crowned Heisman winner Ty Detmer had a pair of separated shoulders.
His only saving grace was that, when it comes to hits from Quentin Coryatt, matters could have been worse. Oh, and he still retained his manhood.
Maester Pycelle in a nightgown: Brent Musberger leering at Katherine Webb
There are a host of moments that I have on my "there goes my childhood, swirling around the drain" list. One of them is Julian Glover -- Kristatos from For Your Eyes Only, Donovan from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- stretching out in a nightgown* that covered far too little after his character prattled on about kings while the prostitute Ros got dressed. The suave villain of my childhood had turned into a John with insufficient sleepwear.
* - Not safe for work, but you can probably assume that with any Game of Thrones clip.
A second item on my list is Brent Musberger fawning over Katherine Webb. Musberger was one of the voices of my chlldhood, so much so that when CBS let him go in 1990, it was inconceivable to me that he would no longer tell me what I would be looking at live at the outset of the NFL Today. One day, Musberger was sharp young man next to the oft-confused Jimmy the Greek. Now, he was leering at a coed, making most of us uncomfortable with a level of objectification that stunned even football fans.
The Red Wedding: The 1995 Fiesta Bowl
The two most one-sided slaughters I have ever seen. If only the Nebraska band could have played "The Rains of Castemere" as the Huskers took the field. And as it turns out, Lawrence Phillips and Christian Peter would have functioned equally adeptly at wiping out the Starks as they did handing Steve Spurrier the worst loss of his career.Your turn!