Friday, April 12, 2013

FIRST District System

I've noticed on Chief Delphi recently that a lot of people have been posting FiM style rankings for their respective regions and it got me thinking (not always a good thing) what would FRC look like if all of the United States went to districts.

But, first a little background on the District System for those that don't know or have been living under a rock since 2009. The district system was created in the summer of 2008 in Michigan as a way to decrease cost and increase the value and sustainability of the FIRST Robotics Competition. It was piloted in 2009 in Michigan and has been used every since. The difference between the standard regional model and the district system is that rather than pay $5000 for one Regional event you get to play at two District event. District events are around the size of a small Regional, normally 40 teams, and takes place on Friday and Saturday only. The absences of practice day and team access to the robot is something for another post. In 2011 Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware formed the Mid-Atlantic Region. More info about the district system can be found here.

My District system would allow every team two districts event for the initial registration price. Since everyone will be on districts, team can go and play anywhere. They will be required to have one event in their home region but the second and so on can be where they want. Teams that go to more than two districts will pay the third district fee from the region where the third district is and have the option before Kickoff to pick which two district they want to count for point and which one will just be for practice. If they don't pick their first two district event will be point events.

Before I lay out what states are in each Region a little note about Championship spots for each Region. The number of spots are based off of a 600 team, 8 division Championship that I wrote about last year. They would be divided up as shown below:

Championship Berths
600 Total
20 for Hall of Fame Team
3 for Previous year's Winners
1 for Previous year's EI
1 for Previous year's RAS
30 for 5 Canadian Regionals
6 for Israeli Regional
6 for Australian Regional
6 for Mexican Regional
7 for International Team spots
520 for USA Regions

I know this will be controversial but I have limited spots for Hall of Fame teams to 20. That means that after you win Championship Chairman's you would get a 20 year exemption to Championship starting the next year. Teams that won more than 20 years ago would still be in the Hall of Fame, they would be just to qualify the old fashion way.
The seven spots for International teams are open to teams who do not have a regional in their country. They can either go to another foreign regional or come and play in the US. If they do the latter they will get two districts like everyone else, but will not be obligated to play at a region championship. Rather they will be ranked along with all of the other International teams and the top 7 will earn berth at Champs.

And now onto the district split:

FRC Districts
Name of Region
Number of Teams
Number of District Event
World Championship Berths
New England FIRST
CT, MA, VT, ME, NH, RI, Eastern NY
FIRST New York
Southern NY
Mid-Atlantic Region
DE, NJ, Eastern PA
FIRST Capital Region
Carolina FIRST
GA, Eastern TN, AL, FL Panhandle
Florida FIRST
FL Peninsula
Ohio Valley Region
OH, Western PA, Western NY, WV, KY
Midwest Region
FIRST in Michigan
FIRST in Minnesota
Mississippi River Region
LA, MS, Western TN, AR
Gateway Region
FIRST Northwest
Rocky Mountain FIRST
FIRST Southwest
Northern CA
Southern CA, HI

A couple of notes on the setup:
  • New York gets split between New England, Ohio Valley, and New York City. NYC could join MAR and double the size of that region.
  • The Dakotas got added to Minnesota because there are only like 5 teams between the two states.
  • Rocky Mountain and the Southwest could easily be combined, but I left then separate because a combined region may be too large.
  • Hawaii goes with SOCAL because it doesn't have enough teams for its own region. They would probably have a district event or two on Hawaii and then teams would go to California for Champs.
  • 3 regions, FiM, FiMn, and NW all qualify over 40 teams for Championships which means that teams could qualify that don't make elims at the Region Championship. A way to fix this would be to have two simultaneous Region Championships like NE wants to do. This could all fix the UP problem in Michigan if one of the events was farther north.
That's about it, I'm not saying I'm right but here's my idea. Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Orlando Regional Thoughts

I meant to get this out sooner but coming back up to NC State after Spring Break I had a paper due yesterday and a test today, so hopefully you can forgive me (By you I mean my mom cause I'm pretty sure she is the only person that reads my blog).

All this post will include are a couple thoughts on Ultimate Ascent through two weeks and some fun facts from the Orlando Regional this past weekend.

  • Field Reset is a pain in the ass!!!! I can only imagine how much worse it would be if human players could throw white Frisbees.
  • The game moves relatively fast and a good robot can get 3-4 scoring runs in during teleop and still hang.
  • With 45 Frisbees in the drivers stations there is no need to be able to pick up off the ground at this point in the season.
  • Most human player throws were towards the main goals and not towards the pyramid goal where the colored Frisbees are actually special.
Fun Facts:
  • 79 became the 9th team to win multiple Florida/Orlando Regionals joining 233, 1251, 86, 179, 180, 1649, 108, and 1592 (If I forgot anyone I am sorry).
  • 744 won their first Regional as a team and as a school in 13 years of FRC.
  • 1772 was the first out-of-state team to win the Florida Regional since 2007 (Only the 4th such team since 2002) and that team, 1270, went on to qualify for Einstein. 
  • 79 eliminated 233 at the Orlando Regional for the first time ever. On the other hand 233 has eliminated 79 at least three times (all while I was a student!)
  • 4451 was the first rookie to make finals at the Orlando Regional since 1902 in 2006
  • 744 made their 3rd finals appearance in 5 years, 79 their 5th in 11 years and 233 their 3rd consecutive and 8th overall since 2002.
  • All three members of the winning alliance were ranked lower than 10th.
  • 79 and 744 partnered up for the 2nd time since 2009 with 744 being the alliance captain both times.
  • 79 qualified for Championship for the 16th year in a row, which should be the longest active non-Hall of Fame streak. Surprisingly the only time Krunch didn't merit qualify was 2008.
That about wraps up this post and if I think of anything else I will go back and add it later.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Firefly Analysis

A while back watching The Big Bang Theory they referenced Firefly and I decided to give it a shot and see if I liked it. Fast forward three month and this week I wrapped up watching not only the TV show but Serenity as well. I have a couple of thoughts on why it was cancelled and then I'll go into my thoughts of the series.

As for the reason that Firefly was cancelled I can think of three reasons.
1) I learned from The Big Bang Theory that Firefly was broadcasts on Friday nights and my first reaction was no wonder the show had low rating. Friday is not a good night for TV unless your a movie or a sport.
2) The show is a space western and I think that Joss Whedon took the western part a little to literally. Initially it was just a little to western for me, but by the end of the series it adjusted to more spacey.
3) Fox. I don't need to say much more but from broadcasting it on Friday nights to making Joss Whedon film a new pilot to airing episodes out of order, Fox is really to blame for Firefly's failure.

Now to my thoughts of the show:
Overall I loved it. During the final scenes of Serenity I was legitimately upset that the show was ending, and I don't normally fell that way about TV. I came to really like the characters and the thought of Inara leaving really worried me until I remembered that there was only one episode left. I don't really know what else it say. I found Firefly funny, entertaining and there really wasn't any cast member that I didn't like.

If you haven't ever seem Firefly and Serenity I would highly recommend it and if Joss Whedon is out there if you're not going to revive the show can you at least publish some books about what happens to everyone after they leave Mr. Universe's moon.

New Firefly fanboy Jacob  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NC State Head Coaching Search

Today NC State fired Head Football coach Tom O'Brien after six seasons. During O'Brien's tenure the team averaged 6.6 wins and 5.8 loses a year, which is very average. Many people were surprised by the firing, but it was time for a chance.

And now on to who's next. I have compiled a list of ten head coaching candidates that the University should consider. Other open or potentially open head coaching position are Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Boston College, USF, Cal, USC, Michigan State, Iowa, and any schools who's head coach is hired away.

1. James Franklin – Head Coach, Vanderbilt

The name that has been tossed around most is Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. Franklin knows NC State AD Debbie Yow from his time as OC at Maryland. He has been the head coach of Vanderbilt for two years and has complied a record of 14-11. A couple of red flags with Franklin: he has only been the Vandy head coach for two years meaning that most of the players weren't recruited by him, this isn't saying that he can't recruit just something to be weary of. Also with some of the prominent open head coaching position listed above he may have better offers than NC State. Update: James Franklin is not a serious candidate for the NC State job.

2. Sonny Dykes – Head Coach, Louisiana Tech

The second name to look at is Sonny Dykes who replaced Derek Dooley as the Louisiana Tech head coach. Under Dooley La Tech was 17-20 and under Dykes, who's father is legendary Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, the team is 22-14 with a bowl game to go. Dykes runs a throwing spread offense similar to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Dykes doesn't have any really big red flags but could be tapped for a prominent position similar to Franklin. If he can win with the talent he has at La Tech, he should be able to win at NC State. Sonny Dykes is my choice for head coach at NC State. 

3. Kriby Smart – Defensive Coordinator, Alabama

Who better to hire as your new head coach than the Coordinator of one of the top defenses on one of the top teams in the country. Kirby Smart has been the DC at Alabama since Nick Saben was hired in 2007. Alabama has had a great defense during Smart's tenure including being #1 overall this season and has lead to two National Championships and maybe a third. The biggest flags with Smart as that he has never been a head coach and he is the highest paid assistant in the country. Tom O'Brien only made a little more this year than Smart did so it may to hard to lure him away from Alabama.

4. Chad Morris – Offensive Coordinator, Clemson

Fourth on my list is someone who NC State fans should be familiar with, Clemson OC Chad Morris. Most of us saw Clemson's offense put up 62 points on NC State two weeks ago. The offense is top ten in years per game and averages 42 points a game. Morris has been the OC at Clemson for two year and he spent one year at Tulsa before that. That is his only experience in college football having been a high school head coach in Texas for about 15 years. Not only would hiring Morris add excitement to our offense it would weaken, in my opinion, our second biggest football rival.

5. Mark Helfrich – Offensive Coordinator, Oregon

More offense, Mark Helfrich has been the OC at Oregon for four years. Most people are familiar with Oregon's offense which is one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The concerns with Helfrich are that he has never been a head coach and he doesn't call plays at Oregon. The other larger concern is that Chip Kelly could leave Oregon for the NFL and Helfrich would be the favorite to replace him.

Here are the next five potential candidates. I'm not going to detail each one, but each of them would make an excellent head coach for NC State.

6. Mark Stoops – Defensive Coordinator, Florida State
7. Charlie Strong – Head Coach, Louisville
8. Darrell Hazell – Head Coach, Kent State
9. Bob Diaco – Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame 
10. Kliff Kingsbury – Offensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

I expect the coaching search to take about three weeks and I wish AD Debbie Yow good luck in her search. If she wants any help, she knows where to find me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The end of G4 as we know it

As most people that read this blog know, I'm a nerd, and throughout most of my younger nerd life there wasn't a better channel on TV than G4. Even after the mid-2000s retooling away from an all video games network I still continued to watch because the remaining video games and tech program was excellent. That all change when G4 executives decided to cancel its only two studio show, X-Play and Attack of the Show, and again re brand as the TV version of GQ.

In my opinion this is a huge loss for the video game industry which seems to always be taking it on the chin from everyone. If I'm wrong about that tell me, but it seems that video games is still looked at my the mainstream, old-fashioned, media type as an underground cult that will go away. According to the ESRB in 2010 67% of US household play video games and just to put that in perspective Angry Birds, one of the most popular mobile game came out in late 2009 and began to hit its stride in 2010 meaning that the current percentage could approach 75% to 80% of households. In addition the video game industry generates over $10.5 billion annually which is more than the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL who all have their own TV networks. Granted it is a little bit of a different situation with all of the money going through the respective leagues rather than spread amongst many companies. Regardless with the average American household being 2.6 people in 2009 that means that there are 1.21 million household in the USA and based on the ESRB numbers almost 210 million people have video games in their homes.

With all of the statistics that I spewed out in that last paragraph you're still trying to tell me that there nobody out there that would watch a network focus on video games, that doesn't have to be the only thing on the network but part of a good balance. If I was in charge of G4 I wouldn't be re branding it as a the TV's GQ but reorienting it back toward video games and technology. As part of that change there would be a number of new shows I would add to the lineup:

Now I know what your saying, the first show I want to add is an old show, but I want to make some changes to it to make it better fit in with today's TV. Currently some of the most shows on TV are reality based talent searches, X-Factor, American Idol, and reality based competitions, Survivor, Amazing Race, so why not combine the two and search for America best gamer or team of gamers. The show could involve a different game each year and a national search to find the top 100 gamers and bring them to LA where they compete in a round-robin tournament to fill a 64 person/team bracket to determine America best gamer.

Interactive Talk Show
The working title above pretty much sums up the show, but it would be more than that. Yes, it would be a talk show where the hosts answer questions from viewers about current video games and technology, but viewers would also get in-depth looks at new video games and technology which would be discussed be the panel. 

Broadcast of Major League Gaming
Once again pretty self-explanatory

Syndicated Shows
Currently G4 broadcasts syndicates of Lost, Cops, Campus PD and Cheaters amongst others. I would get rid of all of those expect for Lost and look to add a techy or nerdy show from the massive lineup owned by G4 parent company NBCUniversal.This could even include a late night anime block to compete with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

G4's Proving Ground
Proving Ground was a short lived show that would test concepts from pop culture to see how they worked in real life. The show was ended after the death of co-host Ryan Dunn. I would revive that show and keep the same concept but add new hosts to make the show a little more science oriented, similar to Mythbuster or Brainiac, but with more pop culture.

FIRST Robotics coverage/ Reality Show
And finally a quick bit of self-promotion. As my reader(s) know I've been involved with the FIRST Robotics Competition(FRC) for six years. I would like to see nothing more than FRC get a place back on TV, Championships were broadcast on ESPN in the late 1990s. I envision a weekly recap show on Mondays during the season as well as Saturday after broadcasts of District Championship weekend and World Championships.
In addition cameras could follow a team or teams and produce a weekly show about there progress. More likely a fictional team of high school students would be created and the show would follow their fictional quest to be world champions.

That about wraps up everything that I got, I hope you enjoyed this blog post and will mourn the lost of a once great channel along with me.