You call yourself a sports fan. You watch SportsCenter religiously, and you never shy away from a discussion of any sports-related topic. Maybe you’ve even entered into the world of sports gambling or fantasy sports. Good for you.

But if you want to go to the next level of random, funny and obscure sports knowledge, you have to expand your palate beyond ESPN and michigandaily.com. As a public service to the University community, here is my list of the best unknown sports sites on the web.

Collegebcs.com – The Bowl Championship Series is one popular college topic that most sports fans don’t fully understand, but this site can turn any half-witted schmuck into an instant BCS Einstein with its comprehensive explanation of the entire ranking system.

For that alone, the site’s owner, Jerry Palm, deserves our love and respect. But BCS 101 is just the beginning. The site also expands the BCS formula to rank all 117 Division I-A teams. Few things give me greater pleasure than telling the world that the BCS currently ranks Michigan State behind Indiana and New Mexico State. That’s random information that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Palm’s site also gets the word out early. Yesterday afternoon I already knew where Michigan was ranked in the BCS. While all the other sheep in America wait for ESPN to tell them if Notre Dame’s win over Florida State was enough to pass Miami (Fla.), I’ve got the scoop thanks to collegebcs.com.

As if that weren’t enough, the site also includes a historical account of how the BCS would have ranked teams each and every week dating back several years.

When football season is over, Palm runs a similar site for men’s and women’s college basketball – collegerpi.com.

Dave Caldwell of the Dallas Morning News called Palm a God, and that isn’t that much of a stretch. The site has just recently started to require members to pay, but I’m hooked; I wouldn’t know how to live without it.

Badjocks.com – Another one-man show, badjocks.com is where Cops meets SportsCenter. Bob Reno’s site provides the largest online collection of stupid athletic activities that the world has ever seen.

In addition to an almost daily diet of high school coaching sex scandals, hazings and domestic violence accounts, Reno’s site also features the top 10 blood-alcohol levels of drunk-driving athletes (Charles Woodson is No. 5).

In addition to breaking news, there are also links to classic stories like the infamous penis bitings (yes more than one) that took place in European soccer games last year. If that summary wasn’t enough for you, the site also provides pictures and accounts.

Just when you think that you have heard everything, badjocks.com tells you the story about a rugby player that got shot in the butt during a game – and continued playing through the pain.

Stories like these are too numerous to mention here, and new tales are being written every day. Make a point to check out this site, then you will always have a few randomly funny stories to impress your friends with.

News.google.com – Most of you probably know about google.com, one of the web’s most popular search engines. But its latest “news” feature is a fantasy sports fan’s goldmine.

Instead of paying for ESPN Insider or any number of other fantasy updates, simply type the name of your favorite athlete into the search field, and you will have every online story written about him delivered directly to your screen.

With several updates every hour, you can’t find a quicker or more thorough way to get injury updates and analysis on specific players.

Baseball-reference.com – No sport has more statistics than baseball, and baseball-reference.com has more or less compiled all of them in one place. They even made up a few stats of their own just for fun, including one that attempts to measure a player’s odds at making the Hall of Fame and another that finds the player who is most similar to another at a given age.

I’m a stats dork, but this site blows my mind. You can find absolutely anything on baseball-reference.com.

Say you want to find out how many Ann Arbor-born athletes have pitched in the major leagues … five minutes later you’ll find the answer is two (former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach and Shannon Withem). Meanwhile, my hometown of Harbor Beach (pop. ~1,800), has a stud hurler, Dick Lange, that tossed 272 more innings than the Ann Arbor combo.

Score one for rural America.

Steve Jackson can be reached at sjjackso@umich.edu.

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