Monday, March 31, 2008

some spring football linkage

With baseball season opening up for sure today, and the Final 4 now officially set — chalk, just as I suspected — we figured the most rational thing to do here would be to post about ... football. Of course we did.

So, with that in mind, here are some links from around the spring football world.
• To begin, the chilling video of Auburn's new offense, courtesy of EDSBS.

That's no mirage, ladies and gentlemen — the War Eagles are passing the hell out of the ball. And my guess is they'll keep doing it from till August.

• For the most complete coverage of Alabama's spring, read OTS at RBR. Here's his latest entry. Alabama's spring practice is somewhat anti-climactic this time around — not only is it stretched out over nearly a month, but many of the players most people are interested in seeing won't get to campus until the summer (because they're new signees, see). Still, if you're looking for a football fix, it's either this or wait for Sportsouth to run another "College Flash Classics" episode, which is another whole blog entry in itself (I'll say this: only SS could take an idea that good and figure out how to make it annoying and unwatchable).

• I've basically stopped reading Rapaport's blog, if only because he's less focused on giving you inside info and more focused on telling you what a great reporter he is. It's like reading Anderson Cooper's blog. But I did enjoy this entry, where Nick Saban gave reporters an impromptu lesson about the fundamentals of tackling.

• Following up on the cancellation of the Gridiron Bash: Capstone, by process of elimination, says it's Auburn's fault.

• Almost left this one out: Mississippi State's Maroon and White game turned into an epic 0-0 tie that had to be decided in overtime. I'm not kidding. Deep South Sports has more.
Of course, State folk would say, "That just means our defense is kickass, man."
No. Your defense may be your saving grace again this season (despite the loss of several key cogs), but if your ... offense can't even so much as put up a field goal in 48 minutes of the "Don't hit my no-talent quarterback!" spring scrimmage, it's gonna be a looong freakin' year.

• Not sure how closely you've been watching the Michigan program lately, but since the hire of Rich Rodriguez, three offensive linemen have quit — the latest was Justin Boren, who complained about the erosion of family values within the program in a prepared statement.
The reality, according to SMQ? Boren doesn't like having to run so much.
Boren told reporters after Michigan's first spring practice 10 days ago that adapting to new coach Rich Rodriguez's no-huddle spread offense was physically challenging. He mentioned the difficulty the offensive linemen had constantly running to the line of scrimmage.
Wow. That must be really tough.

• For other spring reports, check out The Wiz.

And with that, enjoy Opening Day.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

kind of a letdown ...

This one just came in over the wires: Alabama Gridiron Bash Canceled.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- The Gridiron Bash events scheduled for the day before Alabama's spring game have been canceled.

MSL Sports and Entertainment informed the university late Friday that all festivities set for that day, which included a pep rally with the team and Crimson Tide coaches, have been called off. Country singer Alan Jackson's concert scheduled for April 11 at Bryant-Denny Stadium is also off.

"While we are very disappointed that the Gridiron Bash has been canceled, we very much appreciate the tremendous support of our fans," said Alabama athletic director Mal Moore. "Our ticket office will issue ticket refunds very soon."

The event was to feature a pep rally with head coach Nick Saban, his team, the Million Dollar Band and cheerleaders, followed by the concert.

Alabama was leading participating schools in fan voting on the event. The top three universities with the highest number of votes/points determined by a combination of event attendance (70 percent) and fan voting (30 percent) were to share a total of $1,750,000 for scholarships.

The events were canceled because of NCAA questions about whether player participation violated rules.
As usual, the NCAA felt the need to spoil everyone's good time. Way to go, NCAA! Another swell job of putting out a grease fire while Rome burns around you. Well done.


a weekend of happy returns

With the tournament action sagging the last two days -- really, the only interesting game was Xavier-West-by-God, and Bob Knight's stint at ESPN has been predictably boring -- the Party is instead running a weekend youtube of Javi Arenas from the last two years.
You'll remember, then, this one ...

And then this one, to start off last season ...

Of course, as if his body of work wasn't enough, there's this one ...

(As a side note, I know you can't kill LSU for it -- since they wound up winning the game, I guess you could say "it worked out for the best," like many of the goofy things Les Miles did last year -- but why in God's name would you kick to Arenas in that spot? Really? On Alabama's entire roster there's, like, three guys who can hurt with the ball in their hands, and you willingly put the ball into the hands of one of them? Words can't describe how excited I am that The Hat stayed at LSU -- he was the only thing standing between that program and SEC domination for the next decade.)

Have a good weekend, folks.


Friday, March 28, 2008

a "Lost" Friday with no "Lost"

As we discussed last week, there won't be any more new "Lost" episodes until the end of next month. Which, honestly, is a more than a little irritating.
So, in an effort to get through, here's a compilation of Sawyer nicknames.

He's the best.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

breaking news that possibly only I care about

Actually, it's not really breaking news if it's already broken ... and a day old. But it's breaking to me, if only because I just found out.

My old head coach is retiring after the 2008 season.

(Note: If you click on that link, please take 3 minutes on watch that video. I implore you. Everyone who's ever wondered what Spence McCracken is like ... that's what he's like. He's a man who always, always, ALWAYS wears his emotions on his sleeve, for better or worse. And it's genuine emotion, too — not that phony-baloney stuff you saw from Rush Propst on "Two-A-Days." He's absolutely serious.)

Full disclosure: not only did I play for Crack at Opelika for three years; his first season at Opelika (1995) coincided with my freshman year in high school.

Opelika was known as the team that couldn't quite get there. Arguably the three most talented teams in OHS history were the 1991, '92 and '93 teams. None of those teams ever got out of the third round.
The culprit in two of those years? Lee High School in Montgomery, coached by McCracken.

The thinking here: if you can't beat 'em, hire 'em.

The actual terms of 'Crack's deal, I don't remember. They did throw a wad of cash at him, a wink-wink deal with a local car dealership and the first "athletic director's" position I remember anywhere in the state — basically, a promise to take him out of the classroom.

Because of all this, 'Crack came to Opelika like a conquering hero or a rock star. People anticipated — nay, expected — that he'd take all the unrealized potential of the last few years and turn it into a state championship. People outside of Opelika believed that, also.

And the first season? Terrible. Appalling, actually. OHS finished 4-5, and how we won four games I'll never know. McCracken came in and promptly chased off every shred of talent on the roster his first spring and fall, working them to the point (allegedly) that the terrified team trainer actually stopped practice.
Amazingly, that team had a chance to make the playoffs that year — this was back in the last days of the area system where teams only had to win one or two games to qualify for the postseason. A win over Marcus Washington and Auburn High and we were in.
Auburn won 23-0. At our place. And pulled the grass up in the postgame.

The next two seasons were frustrating. We finished 6-4 and 8-2, but managed to miss the postseason in both cases. My senior year ('98), we weren't expected to be terribly good, what with a beefed-up scheduled ('Crack always had an affinity for impossibly-tough schedules) and a lot of youth coming back on defense.

Of course, when we beat Vigor in the season opener, everybody noticed. Followed that up with a win at Prattville in Week 2. When we rallied in the second half for an easy win over Benjamin Russell headed into midseason, suddenly we were 6-0. We drilled Smiths Station, hammered Central-Phenix City 28-0 (the end of a long, bitter losing streak to those jerks) and finished the season off with a whipping of Auburn at Auburn.
Ever since then, Opelika's been a contender for the state championship every season.

Unfortunately, barring a miracle run this fall, 'Crack will retire without delivering that elusive ring to Opelika. The '99 season was derailed by injuries. In 2000, Daphne clipped us in the third round in one of the most bizarre games I've ever witnessed. In 2005, a very good Opelika team faltered in the final minute at home in the semifinals. In 2006, Prattville — on its way to winning back-to-back state titles — clipped us.

Still, McCracken's career hasn't been all about wins and losses. Opelika emerged as a dominant presence for college football, as witnessed by the multiple signings that seem to occur in the fieldhouse every February. His guidance has helped OHS become a legitimate state player, not an upstart or an also-ran.

More importantly, 'Crack has seen a generation of young men come through the doors at OHS, and he's been an instrumental part of their lives. I couldn't sniff the field at a professional football game, but I can guarantee that, if my coach had need of me, I'd be clocking out of work right now and headed to wherever he needed me to go. To me, he's not really a living legend; he's the guy who helped teach me how to be a man.

The most fun (and alternately terrifying) part of being around McCracken was, and is, his energy and emotion, which could manifest itself in swelling tears (as in that video), in explosive anger (as I absorbed on many occasions) or in raucous yelling at a pep rally. I can still see him walking around the track at our high school, listening to audio cassettes of his state-championship games through his headset. You could always tell when he got to the good parts of those games, too — he might pump his fist, or start walking more vigorously. Is he insane? Possibly. But how many people do you know who get that excited over a game that happened 15 years ago?

I also love his competitiveness, which (I believe) led to the timing of his announcement — everybody on the schedule gets one last crack at the old man. Step right up.

And honestly? I'm going to try my damnedest to get down there and see it. After all he gave me, it's the least I can do.

God bless Opelika. God bless those Dawgs.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

wednesday youtube screams like a woman

Best Gus Johnson I could find:

No video, but the sound is awesome. Enjoy the Big Dance this weekend, folks.


pondering perkins

I hate playing the "what if?" game. It's a really easy way to drive yourself crazy.
What if, for example, I'd had enough guts to ask out my favorite teacher's daughter back in high school, maybe we'd have dated regularly, maybe fallen in love, maybe even gotten married and lived happily ever after. Or maybe we'd have wound up hating each other and my favorite teacher would've challenged me to a fight in the middle of class on a Red Day.
See what I mean? You can eventually give yourself an aneurysm if you do this long enough.

So it's with some hesitancy that I approach this subject. I've been reading "Alabama Showdown," a book by Geoffrey Norman about the football rivalry between Alabama and Auburn (15 years before Ivan Maisel's "War in Dixie"). The book was written in 1985, leading up to arguably the best game in the history of the series. In fact, just for fun, let's pause for a moment to remember how awesome that game truly was ...

Wasn't that fun?
Anyway, the book jacket makes a reference to then-Alabama head coach Ray Perkins as "the poor sumbitch who had the bad luck to succeed" Coach Bryant, which, obviously, he was. This was his best moment as Alabama head coach, obviously, and he's been somewhat forgotten by history, sort of like how Alabama fans completely forgot Paul Kennedy serving as the voice of 'Bama football, even though Kennedy was a superb technical announcer and called every relevant game during Perkins' tenure, including that beautiful '85 Auburn game at Legion Field.

The raw numbers from Perkins' four years in Tuscaloosa aren't that impressive -- 32-15-1, three lower-tier bowl games (the Sun Bowl twice, and the Aloha Bowl) and a 2-2 record against Auburn. Mostly, what everyone remembers was that Perkins wasn't -- according to lore -- the Man's first choice to replace him: supposedly, he wanted Gene Stallings, or possibly Howard Schnellenberger (getting ready to set the world on fire at Miami).

But the Perkins tenure, like most things in Alabama history, is remembered a little unfairly. For one thing, Bryant had left the cupboard pretty lonely when he retired -- Pat Dye, by all accounts, had out-recruited Alabama badly in his two years at Auburn, and it was this lack of talent, over everything else, that led to the misery of '84, as the Tide suffered its first losing season since 1957. For another, Perkins -- for all his warts -- had righted the ship almost completely, as Alabama rolled up 10 wins and was briefly ranked third in the country.

Perkins' biggest flaw, it seems, was his personality. Abrasive and quiet, Perkins basically ripped off Nick Saban's act before Nick Saban ever had a shot at it. He also made a number of missteps before he ever really got started at Alabama -- firing John Forney, for one, and taking down Bryant's tower (he wanted to put it in a museum) from the practice field. Also, he took a great deal of flak for kicking an extra point to preserve a tie in an '85 game against LSU, but I'll cut him some slack for that one.
Of course, nobody can discuss the Perkins era without discussing Paul Finebaum. In the wake of Bryant's death, Finebaum rose to prominence as the state's dominant media personality, with both an evening radio show -- that preceded Perkins' coach's show -- and his column with Birmingham's Post-Herald. The two feuded quite publicly, with Perkins ultimately -- according to Finebaum -- putting pressure on the station to fire him (which it did). Needless to say, he didn't exactly engender himself to Alabama's most beloved (or hated, depending on the day) media personality.
Quite simply, Perkins wasn't Bryant. He didn't have the same dominating personality (most reporters were terrified of crossing the Man, and rightfully so). He treated many of the Alabama faithful with the same indifference and contempt he had for the media, and made himself too many enemies in a place where he simply couldn't do that.

But here's what else Perkins wasn't: he wasn't a loser. Alabama did post a 5-7 mark in '84, but Perkins' teams won 8 games in '83 and '85, and 10 in 1986. Alabama beat Notre Dame for the first time ... ever. Alabama won two of the most dramatic games against Auburn in the history of the series, and Perkins soundly out-coached Pat Dye in both games.
In fact, Perkins came within seven points of being 4-0 against Dye as a head coach. Would we still be discussing Dye's Auburn teams of the '80s if that had happened? Somehow I doubt it.

I suppose this is where the game should stop. Ultimately, it makes more sense that Perkins would flee for a lucrative pro contract after four seasons, and ultimately be remembered as something of a failure, even though he really wasn't. What if he had stayed, though? Could he have hung around for 10 years? Would the duel between he and Dye -- who weren't exactly exchanging Christmas cards -- have increased in scope? Could he have won a national championship in Tuscaloosa?

Oh well. No sense dwelling on the past, right? Right?


Monday, March 24, 2008

you've heard of the tournament, perhaps

Some random, scattered thoughts after the weekend that was in the NCAA:
-- I actually missed much of the Friday night action -- Stacey and I took in supper at the Olive Branch in Cahaba Heights and watched "Juno" at The Summit. And honestly? It was awesome. Relatively inexpensive food (in a cool setting -- the Olive Branch's outdoor deck) and a great movie. Very cool. Makes me miss having a regular schedule that allows me to do stuff like that.
(I can't recommend "Juno" highly enough as a date movie, by the way -- Ellen Page is hilarious, the music is good, and you may even cry at the film's denouement. A good outing all around.)
-- Simmons pointed this out last year, but I don't mind ripping the notion off: because of the NBA's new one-year age limit, the top seeds are better right now than they were, say, five years ago. You may have noticed it because the first round lacked a great deal of the excitement and upsets that you remember from a few years ago.
The good news? It makes the succeeding rounds much more fun to watch. Last year's tournament was superb from the Sweet 16 on. Just don't expect a George Mason-type run by any of the double-digit seeds.
-- Gene Wojciechowski wrote a really well-done column about Stanford head coach Trent Johnson's silly ejection in Saturday's tourney game against Marquette. A veteran coach should know better than to push his luck in that situation. He just should.
-- One other thing my wife was kind enough to point out: it's been one year since my broken leg. A toast, then, to the burial of my dignity.
-- I think I say this every year, but the officiating keeps getting worse. There were at least a dozen calls I saw on Sunday alone that were so abominable, had I been the head coach of the offended team, I think I'd have been thrown out and possibly arrested. It's amazing the NCAA can't get a handle on this thing. It's embarrassing.

I'm out of things to talk about. Maybe I'll have more tomorrow.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

since it's Easter ...

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Every year around this time, I always think about what life must have been like for Peter, the disciple, on the day before Easter.
You remember Peter, right? A fisherman by trade, he dropped all his stuff one day to follow a crazy radical named Jesus around through the wilderness for a few years. He quickly established himself as one of Jesus' best and most loyal disciples, with Jesus even calling him the rock upon which the church would be established, "and the gates of Hell shall not overcome it."
(Note: I have recently learned that this verse may have been lost in translation, that Jesus may have been referring to Himself in that verse, and not Peter. But quibbling about minor points isn't important at the moment.)
Peter also established himself as someone who was, to say the very least, guided by impulse. Even during his first meeting with Jesus, he reacted a little hastily, begging Jesus to leave him because "I am a sinful man." Peter even pulled Jesus aside at one point during their travels to give him a tongue-lashing -- because his new Master was talking about his impending torture and death -- prompting Jesus to call him "Satan" and telling him to go away.
Peter's impulses show themselves in the story of Jesus' final night in His earthly body -- first, Peter loudly and vehemently declares he's prepared to follow Jesus to the death, "though all may fall away." Then, when the soldiers come to arrest the Savior -- in some versions of the story, anyway -- Peter produced a sword -- don't forget, Jesus had advised His disciples to procure swords for themselves as they neared Jerusalem -- and sliced off a man's ear. He was ready, at that moment, anyway, to die with Jesus.
So imagine his shock to see what happened after that. Jesus healed the soldier's ear, went quietly away with the armed guards, to be questioned by the local authorities. You can almost see the puzzlement on the disciples' faces? Um, what happened to the revolution? We were about to overthrow the government ... weren't we?
The other 11, it seems, were content to disappear as quickly as possible and read about what happened in the next day's newspaper. Not Peter. Instead, he followed Jesus and the soldiers at a distance, to see what would happen next (I mean, surely God was about to do something HUGE here, right?).
When he was discovered, however, Peter's instincts took over again -- he swore, as vehemently as he had during other times in Jesus' ministry, that he didn't know Jesus, had never met the man.
Ever say something you wish you hadn't?
For Peter, the guilt over his denial of his Savior -- and His ensuing torture and death -- was nearly too much for him to bear. We don't know exactly what he did for the next couple days, but odds are he didn't go to Six Flags.
So here we are, Easter Saturday, with Peter: alone, terrified, wracked with guilt and feeling empty inside.

The great thing about it, for him and for us? Sunday came. And Sunday's coming again. Hallelujah.


Friday, March 21, 2008


hello, Kevin Johnson ...

Note: this is the second in a series of posts where I try to figure exactly what in the hell is taking place on ABC's "Lost." For the first post, click here. Also, if you haven't seen the most recent episode, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. I cannot stress this enough. Spoilers are about to occur. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? STOP READING! I MEAN IT!

Kevin Johnson came to "Lost" last night. Sadly, it wasn't this guy ...

... it was this guy.

For the complete episode synopsis, click here.

And with that, here are my list of things I think I think:
-- As detailed in this column on Entertainment Weekly, the "Lost" writers apparently found a way to salvage Michael's character -- making him a psychological wreck who hears voices, tries to kill himself at least three different times and sending him back to the island on a boat. I had difficulty finding Michael interesting from the show's very beginning, even when he was setting up four of the castaways to be kidnapped at the end of Season 2. I can't explain it -- maybe I just have too dull an intellect to follow 78 different plot lines at once.
-- How many more times does Ben have to set somebody up to die before people realize how dangerous he is? Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results? This is beginning to look a lot like those moment on "24" when a supposedly-impervious counter-terrorist unit sends an important witness out on assignment with two guards who are only carrying .9 mils. Give me a break.
-- More questions: what's the time lag between Mr. Friendly's visit to New York and his sneak attack on the beach? Is Ben's daughter as evil as he is (she has the genes, right)? If you were Jack, wouldn't you be trying to wrangle some sort of tryst with Kate and Juliet? Is that why didn't see any of them this episode?
-- Finally, as TBL asks, who are, in fact, the bad guys here? We know that Ben keeps insisting "we're the good guys," but we also know he's a terrifying individual, as I outlined in my earlier entry. Both Ben and Mr. Friendly insist Charles Widmore staged the plane crash, although the Captain told Sayid and Desmond that it was Ben who did that. The only thing we know for sure is that the people on the boat want Ben. Everything else is unclear at this point.

Oh well. We have until next month to find out.

Tourney thoughts coming after the weekend. Right now, I want to focus on a funny thought my wife and I had today. I was showing her the NBA's new advertising campaign -- "Where Amazing Happens."

Here's an example ...

Needless to say, such an odd ad campaign has already spawned a number of imitators and parodies -- my favorite is the one inspired by Bill Simmons ...

Of course, Stacey's idea was to splice this parody idea with Alabama football. We hashed it out and decided on a self-deprecating parody encapsulating the last decade of Tide football would be best.
I'm opening it up to reader commentary. Here's what we've come up with so far.

(Shot of Ed Scissum fumbling)
"Where a screen pass for absolutely no reason happens."
(Shot of Mike Dubose)
"Where clapping incessantly happens."
(Spliced shot of La. Tech players celebrating)
"Where Louisiana Tech happens ... twice."
(Shot of Albert Means)
"Where nearly getting the death penalty happens."
(Shot of Dennis Franchione)
"Where false hope happens."
(Shot of Mike Price)
"Where 'it's rollin, baby' happens."
(Shot of Mike Shula looking confused)
"Where ????? happens."
(Shot of Brodie Croyle in a crumpled heap)
"Where a waste of four years happens."
(Shot of Nick Saban)
"Where 'I don't have time for this shit' happens."
(Shot of ULM players celebrating)
"Where a $4 million dollar 7-6 season happens."
(Shot of Tommy Tuberville gloating)
"Where losing to Auburn 6 straight years happens."

Alabama football ...
Where Amazing(ly Bad) Happens.

Did I leave anything out?


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

random tournament thoughts ...

Spending too much time in a car is bad for your sanity, and your back. Also, I stink at my job. That's pretty much a description of this past weekend, in a nutshell.

On the bright side, it's NCAA Tournament time, and that's one of the coolest times of the year that doesn't include football season. So, with all that happening, here are some random thoughts from over the weekend.

— Really, I'm happy for Georgia. I am. Stop looking at me like that. I'm thrilled for them.
That said, the SEC's doing backflips that the last-place team that just happened to make a storybook run at the SEC Tournament title is the red-and-black — not only are they the favorite team of the southeast's biggest state, they also have the oppressive Atlanta media breathlessly following their every move (why do you think two-loss UGA, who couldn't win its own division, still got consideration for the BCS title game last year?).
The fact remains that UGA is a terrible basketball team that happened to catch fire against a lousy conference — not to toot my own horn here, but I actually predicted something like this way back in January:
There's some serious potential for the SEC to be way, way down in basketball this year. Florida is rebuilding, Arkansas and Kentucky both have new head coaches, LSU still employs John Brady for whatever reason, Auburn is going through its 64th consecutive season of being a young team, and Alabama wouldn't have been very good anyway, but losing Ronald Steele (the best coach on the bench, counting Mark Gottfried and the nine suits) was a killer. So who's left? Only Tennessee and Ole Miss — in the midst of a 13-game win streak to start the season — look like legitimate threats to make any noise in March. This could be one of those weird SEC years, where most everybody finishes 8-8 in conference and we wind up with one of those championship games between two teams that barely made it in the tournament (like 2001, when Arkansas won the conference title over a depleted Auburn and was promptly shellacked in the first round of the NCAAs).
— The hot topic at Monday morning's UAB media luncheon (kicking off spring practice) was the SEC and how it handled the weather-related fiasco over the weekend. The consensus was that they really couldn't have done anything else, and that's probably correct. Seriously, how else can you handle moving a 25,000-seat event to a 9,000-seat arena? Do you let in the first 9,000 to show up? What do you say to customer 9,001 — "sorry buddy, but this guy got here before you"? There'd be riots in the streets.

— One more thing on the weather: Mykal Riley may have inadvertently kept several thousand fans out of danger by making that game-tying 3 on Friday — if the game ends in regulation, then there's likely a mass of fans leaving/trying to leave as the weather rolls into downtown. So maybe somebody was on Mykal's side, at least for them.

— The person who had the worst weekend? My friend Peter, a minister who grew up a Tech fan, then became a Tide fan when he went to school in Tuscaloosa. So not only did he have to sit through the debacle that was Friday night, he then watched as UGA became the nation's darlings, winning three games in 30 hours to claim the SEC title ... and on G. Tech's court, at that. Yikes. I thought about posting a text message he sent me on Monday, but decided against it for everyone's health.

— Speaking of my friends, I have to throw one out for another friend of mine, Tim Roberson, currently making an effort to raise money for cancer research. I'll let him explain:
It's a Bracket Challenge pick'em that benefits Charity (specifically the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). I've been fundraising this winter while I'm training for a 1/2 Ironman in California (Don't all gasp at once) and I'm getting closer to my goal of raising $5000. For a $10 donation to the LLS, you can not only help fund research to find a cure for blood cancer, but you'll also get the Group ID and Password for my Bracket Challenge group! Enter as many times as you want. The top two winners will get a portion of the $$$ and prizes. I'd say it's a 50/50 split, but I don't know how many people will be in the group yet.

You can donate online safe and secure at my fundraising webpage:

Please pass this on to co-workers/friends/family that you think might be interested!

Thanks and Roll Tide

Tim Roberson
class of '01

And with that, some links ...
• Bama Hoops has a good itemized list of thoughts about the season.
• Tired of dumping on Nick Saban and Tommy Tuberville, Finebaum spares a few moments to dump on LSU. Good for you, Mr. Burns. Good for you.
• A new blog I've added to my rail: Heart of Georgia Sports, the blog of my former employers in Dublin, Ga. Here, my old buddy Jason Halcombe — a borderline comedic genius — posts his filled-out bracket.
• Speaking of brackets, here's the Sports Gal's. I'll even copy her "Bachelor" note for my wife's benefit.
"The Bachelor" started Monday night, and it was a competitive first show because girls were doing everything to impress the Bachelor, including singing, arm wrestling and playing the clarinet. It was like a beauty contest for crazy people. But they always have one black contestant who makes it two rounds before she gets voted off -- Bill always compares her to Gonzaga because she's an underdog who never makes the Final Four. Anyhoo, this year's bachelor is A HOT GUY FROM BRITAIN and seems to really like this year's black contestant, so maybe she will make the "Final Four" before Gonzaga does! The other highlight from last night other than THE BACHELOR BEING REALLY HOT was a woman with fake lips who got tanked, fondled the Bachelor's knee and gave him her panties before passing out face-first on a bed. I love this show. Ladies, did I mention that THE BACHELOR IS SMOKING HOT????

Friday, March 14, 2008

lost musings ... SPOILER ALERT!

Certainly, it's a little odd to start blogging about new episodes of a show in midseason, but I'm attempting to keep up here, so I'm doing this in the hopes that some other people will chime in and try to help me.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I started watching "Lost" in January, when I was looking for a show to fill the spring gap (note: "24" filled this gap from 2003 until midway through last spring, when things became so outlandish that even I couldn't muster the energy to care anymore. Let's just say I didn't weep when the show announced it wasn't coming back this spring -- I'd prefer to remember the show in its peak than what we saw last season.)
So I raced through the back episodes through and found the show to be superior to "24" in every way -- better writing, better acting and I couldn't see the plot twists coming a mile away (for example, this week's episode, but we'll get to that in a minute). And yeah, I should've come on board sooner, but my job makes it difficult to watch these shows on first-run and my inclination is to avoid shows when I hear people saying things like, "You've GOT to watch this show!" It's just a part of me.
(Side note: what's wrong with the Hooters advertising department? Were they saying to themselves, "Let's come up with the most irritating TV spot possible ... wait, let's bring in Vitale and surround with a group of laughing idiots doing bad Vitale impressions! And let's put an inexplicable graphic on the screen, just to complete the effect!" Does anyone making these commercials have ANY idea how to do their jobs? I'm perplexed beyond words.)
(Side note #2: seeing Bobby Knight slouched over at an ESPN desk is hilarious, and I have the TV on mute.)
Anyway, I'm all caught up now, and I generally catch the streaming online episodes on Friday morning. Which brings us to today.
(Side note #3): Spoilers are about to occur. If you are a viewer and haven't seen the show, stop reading now. Are you reading me? Stop reading now! Also, if someone can tell me how to insert a front-page jump right here, this sort of warning won't be necessary. Thank you.)

Here's the synopsis of the most recent episode.
Now ... to steal a line from Peter King, here's what I think I think after what I just saw
  • I think the two flashes of Jin and Sun were two completely different time periods -- Sun's a flash-forward, Jin's a flashback. I think this because -- according to the posted synopsis -- Jin's grave says he died in the plane crash (which we know didn't happen). After watching the episode, I was under the impression Jin had somehow faked his own death and split with Sun, but that's because I don't speak Korean and wasn't paying close enough attention.
  • I think that this means the Oceanic 6 is still missing a member ... UNLESS Ben is one of them. Personally, I don't think this is the case, but we'll get to Ben in a minute.
  • I think we now know the following things about Ben Linus: a) he's somehow in control of an exorbitant amount of money; b) he's enough of a mastermind to stage the wreckage of a plane and to employ the use of 324 dead bodies that had nothing to do with the actual crash; c) he's dangerous enough that an entire crew of people came to the island with the express purpose of stopping him; d) it didn't work, because we know he was still ordering Sayid to kill people once this ordeal ended. All that to say ... this guy's a bad, bad dude.
  • I think Michael's return was probably the least surprising twist thus far (although I saw the twist with Kate and Claire's baby coming about 15 minutes before it happened). Of course, at this point we have no idea why Michael would independently come back -- though, in flash-forwards, we've already seen that Jack and Hurley have independently expressed the notion that leaving the island was a mistake. Also, where's Walt? Last time we saw him, his apparition showed up to help Locke get out of the pit where Ben had left him. We know that Walt has some sort of super-natural abilities -- is he still flitting around the island or what?
  • I think -- now that I know Jin's wasn't a flash-forward -- that Jin's wasn't the name on Jack's mysterious obituary.

  • I think Sawyer didn't appear in this episode at all, and I'm a little disappointed.
  • I still think Juliet isn't being completely forthright. While we're here, I think I'd pay-per-view one of those "chick fights" between Juliet and Kate. And I don't think I'm alone.
  • I think I can't think of anything else at the moment. Please feel free to contribute. Also, TBL has its own bulleted list up as well.

Olbermann on Clinton and Ferraro

OK ... here's why I find this hilarious:
-- I watch Keith's show occasionally, and nearly every time I've seen it, he closes with "a special comment." Quite frankly, dude, when you do them all the time, they're not that special anymore. -- The later Keith works himself into during these things is amazing. It's like he's being coached from behind the cameras -- "You're not into it enough -- step up!"
-- Every time I hear the name Geraldine Ferraro, I think of Lewis Grizzard saying her name sounds like "Flip Wilson's sports car."

Anyway, I hope this brought you as much enjoyment as it's brought me. Thanks to la_musicologue for the post.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

With spring training starting today, and the Alabama fan base collectively turning its back on the basketball team (not hard to do, but still), here are a few football links to get us started -- also, remember A-Day is scheduled for April 12.

-- OTS has a very thorough rundown of the offensive personnel headed into spring -- disclaimer: much of this is incomplete, since we don't know what contributions the '08 recruiting class will make once those guys arrive on campus in August.
-- Did Major Applewhite, as Capstone asks in this post, "suck?" Much like this time a season ago -- when many of the players who were so distraught over the firing of Mike Shula were suddenly touting the virtues of the new coaching staff and talking about how much better was the atmosphere compared to the previous regime -- the head coach and some of his key offensive personnel are touting the virtues of the new guy. Is this necessarily an indictment of the previous guy? Judge for yourself. Also, Rapper's story about McElwain leads off with a pretty humorous note.
-- Druid has the spring schedule, along with some thoughts of his own.

(Random thought: ever listened to a radio show online? Some of the commercials that break up the show -- cyber-bullying, mobile amber alerts and so forth -- are downright bizarre.)

-- Finally, just in case the links above didn't answer any question you could possibly have about spring, here's Tim Gayle, and


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

more wednesday vid ...

Means more Saban -- spring starts tomorrow, after all.

As always, thanks to and RBR.


Monday, March 10, 2008

you need coolin ...

Way down inside, I'm gonna give you my links
Gonna give you every inch of my links

(Sorry — Zeppelin overtakes me at times)

In any case, on with the show ...
— Did anyone expect a notable curmudgeon like Paul Finebaum to dump on Brett Favre's retirement? No? You're new here, right?

— After some time spent blasting Tuscaloosa's city council, the university administration and everything else in the Druid City, Capstone has finally settled on a solution: run for mayor! I promise to use this blog to campaign for him, and if he needs a campaign manager ... ya know, just saying ... what? I AM a writer, after all, right?
Incidentally, the recent arrested development (that's a pun, see? I'm awesome at this!) in Tuscaloosa has spawned a new wave of photshop creations, as detailed here at The Wiz. Pretty funny stuff, really.

— Two MSM links: Peter King visits Afghanistan, and Simmons wonders "what if?" about the NBA.


Friday, March 7, 2008

if this is stuck in my head the rest of the day ...

It's going to be stuck in yours, as well.

Enjoying spring training yet?

Checking in quickly before lunch with some links.

-- For those who don't know, Rashad Johnson finally got his actual plea deal late yesterday. Capstone Report, naturally, is howling mad about the whole thing. I-Rap has the skinny on the whole situation (and yes, I just called him "I-Rap," because typing his whole name is tiresome).

-- On Mark Gottfried: Druid has a statistical comparison between the last two seasons and the final two seasons of the David Hobbs era, which most Alabama fans regard as disastrous. Also, Al at 8Box is tired of Gottfried, as well.
I'll merely repeat what I said in an earlier entry (and was echoed by my brother): you've seen the best you'll ever get from Mark Gottfried at Alabama. Much like the Mike Shula as a head football coach, he'll never be better than what he is right now: the leader of a harmless, middle-of-the-road program that occasionally has a standout season, but generally underachieves (or, at best, doesn't do anything spectacular).
If you're happy with what you've got now, then keep him. If you want to excel, however, you might need to look elsewhere.
NOTE: One thing I forgot to add in the Gottfried thing earlier -- many of us, in an effort to be fair to him the last two seasons, have repeatedly played the "you can't blame him for Ronald Steele getting hurt," since Steele was and is the most important player on Alabama's team (being the point guard and all). Well, check out this comment from a few days ago on Capstone, where a frustrated reader suggests you actually CAN assign some blame to Gottfried for Steele's condition, that Gottfried played his point guard too many minutes in '06, then continued to ride him in '07 despite his obvious deficiencies (eventually leading to Steele taking '08 off to heal).
ONE OTHER NOTE: Track 'Em has an interesting post about Jeff Lebo. In it, PoD asserts the three main areas of concern as a coach: 1) talent; 2) effort; 3) scheme. Auburn, he says, is good at 2, but not 1 or 3, and it's been that way since Lebo took over.
You think they'd take Gottfried? His teams are good at 1, and intermittently good at 2. That's an upgrade, right?
Just some things to think about.

Might be back later -- we'll see. If not, have a good weekend, everybody.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

wednesday youtube hates tennessee

They low-down, they losers ... they some snitches.

What, you don't believe me?

My case is rested. Many thanks to EDSBS and SECFB.

Sorry for neglecting my blog -- I've just had a hard time focusing since my first in-person roller derby experience. My former college friend Bart texted me on Sunday afternoon saying simply, "Roller derby 2nite! Lets carpool!" Well, obviously, I can't turn down an invitation like that, particularly when my wife heard the message and reacted like Sarah Silverman during that song about Matt Damon.
So we carpooled over and saw the Tragic City Rollers at the Funtime Skate Center in Fultondale. And I'm not the least bit ashamed. OK, maybe a little. But the home team did win, I'm almost certain of that.

Anyway, onwards with some long-overdue links.
-- You knew when OTS got bored during the offseason, there'd be a super-long post with all kinds of nuggets you'd either forgotten or never knew coming. He obliges here, with the first in a series of posts about how the athletic department started going downhill. I still don't buy that Stallings was pushed out the door (it makes more sense to me that the old man saw what was coming in '97 and '98 and decided he was too old to rebuild again) but all the factors surrounding the department didn't help matters, either.
-- Here's some news that will delight Maguire: a member of the state legislature is proposing a bill that would allow university students to carry concealed weapons. A number of columnists pointed to a ban on such things as one of the factors in the recent school shootings (of course, the liberal columnists said the opposite, pretty much).
As an aside, I've never bought into the whole "media bias" thing and I know the writer in this case is a college student, but the lead in this story is what feeds this "bias" nonsense. So if the bill passes, everyone will be required to carry a Colt .45 in their backpack? Give me a break.
-- Basketball-related links: Kevin Scarbinsky tells us that, yes, Mark Gottfried will most likely come back for 2009 (hoorah), and Ian Rapaport ponders the great disappearing Alonzo Gee. Whatever. I have simply lost the capacity to care.
-- SMQ checks in with our old friend Dennis Franchione, and the possibility that Texas A&M fans could indict him.
The ballot proposal read: "Shall the Board instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against Dennis Franchione for crimes against our team, up to and including a losing record in Big 12 games, zero South division titles, five losses in six years to Texas Tech, Reggie McNeal's senior year and the entire 2005 secondary, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities, and shall it be the law of the City of Dime Box that the Dime Box Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain Dennis Franchione in Dime Box if he is not duly captured, and prosecute or extradite him to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute him, and/or deliver him to hordes of drunken T-Sips?"
I think he's joking. I think.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

dance dance dance ... all night long

Not enough dancing here lately, so here's two great ones from football season.

Have a good weekend, everybody.