Fourteen years have passed since we first sat at Snow Hall and learned that the 1st Battalion of the 158th Field Artillery regiment was being called up for service in Iraq. A lot has changed during that time, so let's take some time to catch up, this time with Arrogant Americans manager Justin Cliburn.
Are you still in the 158? If, not when did you get out?
CLIBURN: No. My contract was up in 2010. At that point, I was engaged, and my fiancee was not crazy about me going to Afghanistan or something. I was also planning on going to law school, so I ETS'd and moved on.
What did you do post-deployment?
CLIBURN: I moved back to Lawton, went back to work for UPS (where I worked with Duffy), and started college again. I eventually went to law school at OU, and I'm now an attorney in Oklahoma City.
Where are your from and how did you make it into the 158?
CLIBURN: My family is from the Gulf Coast, but we moved to Oklahoma from Florida when I was four. I grew up in Lawton and procrastinated through high school. Before I knew it, I needed a plan for college and the Guard seemed like a good idea. That was April 2001. The 158 was headquartered in Lawton, so I joined it and was assigned to Bravo Battery in Duncan.
Where do you live now?
CLIBURN: Oklahoma City, near the Plaza District.
What are your hobbies outside of FF?
CLIBURN: My wife and I volunteer at our local NPR station and are on the board of our neighborhood association. We have a dog, and I like to ride the bike trails in OKC when the weather is nice. I've always been into true crime since watching a lot of Unsolved Mysteries as a kid, and I still listen to true crime podcasts, focusing on missing persons and unidentified decedents. I created the Missing Map to help identify unidentified bodies, and there have been some successes (including two in Oklahoma, one that I linked to a man missing from Canada since the 70s).
What is your fantasy background? How long have you played FF? How many different leagues?
CLIBURN: I first played in 2004, and I didn't care for it (even though I won that league after going on autopilot). In 2005, we were all at Fort Lewis with very little awareness of what was going on in the football world, so I didn't play then (and probably wouldn't have wanted to). I got talked into playing in the OIL during the 2006 mission because . . . what else did we have to do? Something was much different that second time around, and I was hooked. I played in a couple public leagues early on, and we had a brief dynasty side league in the OIL for two years. But I really just play in the OIL. The last two seasons, I've been playing in the Fantasy Sports Alliance, due to bonding with their commissioner over how detailed we both are. And I always get roped into a work league, but the OIL is far and away my focus.
How many championships have you won? How many have you finished second in?
CLIBURN: I have five titles, although one was that autopilot 2004 championship. I've won three OIL championships, and I won in a dynasty league that fizzled out. I've finished second four times, two of those times being in the OIL. I really only care about the OIL though, so I just tell people I have three championships and two second-place finishes.
What is your general strategy in FF?
CLIBURN: I typically go for the "sure thing" in the first few rounds before going for boom-or-bust players in the mid-to-late rounds. I also generally pick QB and TE late.
How much preparation do you do before each season?
CLIBURN: I used to do a lot more extensive research before each season. I would do tons of mock drafts online, charting by hand the differences in results based on each strategy. I had a huge notebook full of research back then, but, thankfully, as I've grown older and had less time for that, technology has improved greatly. Now, I mostly do research by mock drafting on the Football Guys Draft Dominator app, which tracks all the data I used to do by hand. It also takes a fraction of the time to do a mock draft on the app than it used to take doing them online.
Do you find you draft better at the cabin with the guys or at home online?
CLIBURN: I've always drafted with the guys, so I'm not sure. But I bet I would do better away from all the distractions. It wouldn't be worth it though, because the annual draft get-together is what I look forward to all year.
Will you be at the draft cabin next year?
CLIBURN: Of course.
What is the best move you've made in FF?
CLIBURN: 1. Drafting DeSean Jackson in the 16th round in 2008; 2. Picking up Michael Vick off waivers in 2010; 3. Drafting Alvin Kamara in the 13th round in 2017.
What is your favorite FF memory? What is the pinnacle of your FF career?
CLIBURN: As far as one season goes, it was winning my first title in 2010. I was so frustrated losing the 2009 title due to a Week 17 championship game (and three first-half injuries to my star players) that I was expecting to lose again, even after a 12-1 regular season. But I pulled it out, and it capped off the most-dominant season in OIL history.
But what I'm most proud of in my playing career is my sustained success from 2008 to 2013. During those six seasons, we averaged over 10 wins per season, made the playoffs five times, earned a first-round bye four times, reached four different championship games, and won two titles. Perhaps that will be surpassed (Zerger and Brake are certainly working on it), but I doubt I will ever average that type of success over such a long period again.
On a personal level though, the pinnacle of my FF career is the charter bus ride from OKC to Arlington, Texas to draft at AT&T Stadium. The experience at the stadium wasn't everything I'd hoped for, but that bus ride was better than any draft we'd had previously, and I knew it was time to do it big every year. It led to the yearly cabin weekend, and that's the best thing that ever happened to the OIL.
OKLAHOMA CITY –– There's an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied, but, when delayed justice is all you can offer, you suck it up and do the right thing. Over the first 13 weeks in 2009, the Arrogant Americans went 9-4. They then won three straight to finish Week 16 at 12-4. But they weren't champions. Why? Because that was the one season the league used a 14-week schedule, pushing the championship to Week 17.
Due to the commissioner's incompetence, the 'Mericans first had to beat a first-round opponent due to there being no first-round bye in 2009. They won again in Week 15 (present-day semifinals week) and Week 16 (present-day championship week). Then, in Week 17, they faced the ThroatPunchers and lost after injuries to Wes Welker and Maurice Jones-Drew and Week 17-restings of other star players.
But the 'Mericans would have beaten the ThroatPunchers in Week 16. And they would have won in Weeks 14, 15, and 16, when they averaged 193.95 points per game (due to seeding, they would have avoided the Wolverines and their 220 points in Week 15). Their final record, under current scheduling rules, would be 11-4 with more than 165 points scored per game. And that season ranks fifth in OIL history in OPR (1.265), while the ThroatPunchers' 2009 season ranks 130th (1.026). Therefore, the OIL is officially recognizing Justin C. Cliburn and the Arrogant Americans as the true champions of 2009.
That proclamation also means that Cliburn is officially the first manager to win four OIL championships. When reached for comment, Cliburn said, "although I know there will be pushback, I am grateful that a wrong was righted. I just wonder why it took so long when [Kevin] Pyle's 2008 title was retroactively recognized back in 2012."
As is custom, the OIL checking account has been drafted $200 to purchase a championship jersey and mini-helmet for the 'Mericans. Pictures will be posted in approximately six weeks.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports has begun a multi-part series on commissioner issues and enlisted OIL Commissioner Justin C. Cliburn to author it. Check it out and look for future installments.
The Arrogant Americans won their third championship in 2017, entitling them to a third championship jersey. It was produced by HopcoSports.com.
No, Finch, no OIL funds were expended on this ring. Cliburn's wife ordered him an Arrogant Americans championship ring for his birthday. The ring is from Jostens, while the display case is from Fantasy Jocks.
The commissioner has placed the orders for the championship mini-helmet and championship jerseys. Because the 'Mericans already have a helmet, their manager gave the prize to the Liberty Bowl runner-up Boomtown Brawlers. The Redlegs finished third in the Liberty Bowl. Below are the mockups for the helmet and the three conference champions' jerseys. View previous years' helmets and jerseys here. The helmets are made by HelmetNation.com and the jerseys by HopcoSports.com.
The Arrogant Americans have won the 2017 Liberty Bowl. As such, they have won the Tenequer Memorial Trophy and a custom mini-helmet from HelmetNation.com. But, since Cliburn is a benevolent overlord, he has announced he is donating the mini-helmet prize to the second-place finisher: the Boomtown Brawlers. It should look pretty good, and the commish can't wait to see the finished product.
Congratulations to all three 2017 champions. The championship jerseys have been ordered, and the trophies will be shipped soon.
The Liberty Bowl is back and a little different in 2017. For the first time, all three conference champions will participate (previously, it was the two highest-scoring champions of Week 16). The Week 16 and Week 17 scores will combine to determine our winner, who will receive the Tenequer Memorial Trophy and a custom mini-helmet. The lineups are posted below.*
Click here to view on Google Sheets.
*Lineups are subject to change until game time.
After Hangovers manager Adam Duffy received a Cease and Desist letter from his beloved Packers, he asked Cliburn to review and edit a letter of apology he was to send to the Packers. Cliburn did not disappoint:
When reached for comment, Cliburn said, "When he unveiled that logo, I thought 'what if the Packers sued him over that?' And then I thought, 'what if he thought they were suing him over that." From there, the plan unfolded.
OKLAHOMA CITY — OIL manager Justin C. Cliburn and his Arrogant Americans became the first OIL franchise to reach 100 victories Monday. The historic win was earned when the 'Mericans came back on Monday night to defeat the Hard Targets in Week One of the 2017 season, Cliburn's 159th game as an OIL manager.
Hard Targets manager Finch came into Monday night comfortably ahead, with a 66% chance of victory. But Cliburn's receiving tandem of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen combined for 52.4 points to take the lead. From there, the 'Mericans never looked back. Cliburn will face Cobb and his Dogs of War in Week Two.