Wednesday, April 30, 2008

wednesday youtube is all about breaking streaks

Just figured it was worth remembering what it was like the last time a long Auburn win streak vs. Alabama was ended.

Just saying ...

Keep ya head up,

oooo child things are gonna get easier

ooooo child things are gonna get brighter


it is well that blogging is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it

The blog world is in a tizzy today, and with good reason: apparently last night, Bob Costas hosted a "town hall meeting" about the rise of the new media that is the blogosphere, which, it seems, turned into a hit parade by Buzz Bissinger (author of "Friday Night Lights") against Will Leitch of Deadspin.
The future in the hands of guys like you (Leitch) is really going to dumb us down to a degree that I don't think we can recover from.
Needless to say, everyone's got a take on this, including Will himself. Arguably, the most concise and best summary of this comes from Ken Tremendous at FJM.

What Bissinger did that was so annoying to me was: he lumped all of these into one thing ("Deadspin," essentially), and furthermore, conflated the actual blog and the people who write for it with the silly comments people make at the bottom of every article.
It's a big dumb ignorant mistake to do this. It's a big hot wet mushy smelly bonebrained mistake to mix blog comments and blog articles. It's an even bigger mistake, in my opinion, to disparage the level of discourse on the Internet and use blog comments as an example. (And swear a ton while doing it, while saying that the Internet is "profane.") Picking a random blog comment and wielding it as a club to bash "blogs" is like picking a random romance novel off an airport bookstore shelf and saying, "This book sucks. ... Tolstoy -- your medium is worthless!"

We've covered this before in previous entries, obviously. I have a perspective that's unique among most of the blogs I read, since I'm a writer for an "MSM" establishment who also maintains a blog on the side (I blog now as part of work, also, but that's a different thing). No two blogs are created equal, obviously, and the outcry from the old, stodgy guys in the establishment is an indication of their fear -- it's similar to reading about parents violently protesting against school integration ... you know, because it's something different and we don't like change.
The main problem with the blogs, as I said before, is accountability. At work, when I publish the sports section for The Daily Home, my name is all over it. You can call me, email me, find me at my desk. You know who pays my salary, and how to get in touch with them. Basically, everything -- everything -- I do is under a microscope.
To be fair, the most reputable sports blogs -- like Deadspin or EDSBS -- are very transparent, as evidenced by their willingness to appear in other media outside of their own "mother's basement," if you will. But the Internet is an ever-evolving place, and unfortunately, there are too many of us out there who aren't savvy enough to differentiate between the good blogs, and the ones that are just one dude making up stuff off the top of his head.
Regardless, it's here to stay. And, as a media group, we've got to figure out how to integrate with what we do ... or be destroyed by a group of guys in their underwear blogging from their mothers' basements.
(Sorry, that imagery's just too fun not to use.)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

still a little crazy

Things around the office haven't slowed down any since the race ended -- as I detailed in my column for tomorrow (Wednesday), we've got softball area tournaments, baseball playoffs, the state track meet and the start of spring football all happening this week. I'm taking Wednesday off, for my mental health (and the health of my yard), but it's only a brief respite -- the real rest doesn't come for a few weeks.

Anyway, I feel the need to post a few links, even if some of them are already out-moded.
-- Peter King mentioned Bobby Petrino yesterday in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, that according to Arthur Blank he never called or offered any sort of apology/explanation for fleeing Atlanta. Obviously, the Alabama fan in me wants to use that as some sort of example to make Nick Saban look a little better -- after all, Saban did talk to a number of his players in Miami (the ones who were still hanging around the complex), Saban's been back to Miami since he left for Tuscaloosa, and Saban left very few hard feelings within the actual Dolphin organization. In fact, the only people in Miami who seemed truly upset by Saban's departure were a) Don Shula (had ulterior motives and may possibly be senile) and b) Dan LeBatard (a sports columnist in need of someone to rip on anyway).
On the other hand, the objective side of me sees that Petrino's and Saban's situations weren't entirely comparable. For one thing, Atlanta's organization has proven itself as one of the premier drama-queen outfits in the NFL, and Arthur Blank seems to truly enjoy standing in front of the media and bemoaning how everyone is. And don't forget that this is the same organization that continues to employ the services of DeAngelo Hall, one of the worst locker-room cancers in the entire league. From the front office to the field, Miami -- at least on the surface -- is a more professional organization than Atlanta. So maybe Petrino had very good reasons for wanting to get away from there.

-- In Tuesday Morning Quarterback today, Gregg Easterbrook considers the absurdity of the decimal points in evaluating the ability of individuals to play football.
This is actually one of my annual gripes in football, whether it's collegiate recruiting or professional evaluation. First of all, a 40 time is completely arbitrary in evaluating someone's ability to play football -- how often does a football player required to run 40 yards from a crouched position during a game? I'm not discounting the importance of speed in football, obviously, but football is a game that relies on quickness, and on the ability to deliver a blow once you arrive at your destination. I don't care how fast a guy runs a 40 -- I'm more interested in a player's ability to change directions, to explode out of a stance and deliver a lick.
Moreover, how does a hundredth-of-a-second suddenly invalidate a guy's status as a player? Do we really need to know how fast Darren McFadden ran the 40 to know whether he can play ball? I don't. I only need to watch things like this.

Yeah ... I think I'll take that guy on my team. Don't show me any more stats and don't run any more tests. Can he play? Then yeah ... he's ours.

-- I know I'm like two weeks late on this story about Saban circumventing a rule that was designed especially for people like him (and, by extension, to protect lazy coaches who aren't quite as dedicated to year-round recruiting ... and yes, Tommy, we're looking at you). But I felt the need to comment anyway -- I don't like Saban that much, and in fact, there are days when I kind of hope he chokes on a Certs. However, I give credit where it's due -- this kind of thing is the exact opposite of what's been happening in Tuscaloosa. These are the things that give Alabama hope that the program's turning around sooner than later.

More coming tomorrow, I suppose.


Monday, April 28, 2008

thoughts on a lazy monday

Every time I cover a race, I wind up at home when it's over, drained, drinking and thinking to myself, "Man, I need a new job ... I don't ever want to do that again."

I actually wrote that after last spring's Aaron's 499, by the time I'd gotten home and was recuperating from a weekend that featured a number of early mornings and late nights. And I'm pretty much in the same place today -- if I could've slept until noon today, I would've (unfortunately, the hound refuses to let anyone sleep past 8:30 anymore).

Anyway, I'll probably post some links later today after I get a better hold on my head and get to the office this afternoon. But I did want to add something, just in case you guys out there read this thing and I think I'm one of the miserable media members who sit around and bemoan how awful life is, when it's really not that bad.

Race week is my least favorite part of my current job, no question about it. Getting up early in the morning, dealing with a huge swath of traffic, dealing with P.R. reps (who get lamer by the week, by the way) who represent drivers who think the sun rises in their backyards ... it's not a great deal of fun, particularly since, well, I'm not really a race fan.

But it's not so bad, right? I mean, hanging out with some of the old grizzled writers (Monte Dutton, Mike Bolton, Mark McCarter) is always cool -- all of them have a ton of cool stories, a perspective steeped in years of experience and all of them are really good at their jobs (and have been for a long time). And when you finally do get to talk to the occasional good-tempered driver -- like Michael McDowell, who was a joy to interview (read the story here) -- it's really a lot of fun, especially when you see that guy a few days later and he actually remembers your face.
And, of course, there's the race itself. No, the traffic isn't fun; no, I'm not much of a race fan; yes, when the drivers make a deal to drive around in a straight line for three hours, it's kind of a letdown. But it's genuinely a lot of fun to see the cars take off to start the race, and it's always fun to watch them come down the stretch for the end -- every race I've seen (except last spring, when Jeff Gordon dominated) had an ending I couldn't have predicted when it started.

Does it mean I want to keep covering races until I'm as old as some of the writers in the box? Well, no ... but, as my dad frequently reminds me, I could be pouring concrete for a living. So maybe we should all stop whining.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Lost" Friday: sitting here at 'Dega

Wanted to give a comprehensive rundown of what happened in the return of "Lost" last night, a show I actually saw on its first air (got off work a little early -- another story for another time). Unfortunately, that's not happening this morning, since I'm currently sitting in the media center listening to a bored Ryan Newman answer questions at Talladega Superspeedway. Perhaps we'll have more later.

I will say the episode was worth the wait -- Ben Linus affirmed his status as a bad mofo, Kate nearly exposed her chest, Jack started down the path to the addiction we saw later and Sawyer somehow ran through a 150-yard hail of bullets from trained soldiers (who hit three other people on the first shot) without even a grazing shot (maybe they missed him on purpose?). Beyond that, it's difficult to get too in-depth at the moment.

For the episode synopsis, click here. For analysis, try TBL and EW.

Holla back.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

links today are all over the map

We've got a little bit of everything for today. Don't want to spoil it with too much of an intro, so here goes ...

• Race Week, as some of you may know, is upon us. So don't look for much over the weekend from me. For solid Talladega coverage, try Sunday Thunder, maintained by Consolidated.
• NFL Draft? Also this weekend. Here are some draft sleepers from Dog the Bounty Hunter, courtesy SMQ.
• Also this weekend: NCAA gymnastics. I-Rap has some nuggets from that. Apparently, it's getting a little testy. Seriously.
• The Wiz has some outstanding photos from UCLA spirit squad tryouts ... where none other than Ricky Neuheisel himself was an observer.
• EDSBS tells you how to win the heart of a Georgia fan.
• Our good friend Kurt Branch checks in from with some lame music. Give it a try and I bet you like it.
• Waking from a slumber that lasted nearly a month, Peter von Herrmann checks in with thoughts on the papal visit to America.
• Finally, another award-winning cartoon from Bee-yuhtiful.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

some wednesday hilarity


The Preacher's Son

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting
time the boy should give some thought to choosing a
profession. Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really
know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned
about it. One day, while the boy was away at school, his
father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's
room and placed on his study table four objects.

1. A bible.
2. A silver dollar.
3. A bottle of whisky.
4. And a Playboy magazine.

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to
himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see
which object he picks up.

If it's the bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and
what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's
going to be a business man, and that would be okay, too. But
if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken
bum, and Lord, what a shame that would be. And worst of all if
he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's foot-
steps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave
the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity
in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm.
He picked up the silver dollar and dropped into his pocket.
He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired
this month's centerfold.

"Lord have mercy," the old preacher disgustedly whispered.
"He's gonna run for Congress."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

wednesday youtube on Tuesday

Here's another great game from the same era as the weekend post.

Full disclosure on this one: like most of these old games, I watched this one at home with my dad, who became so disgusted with the events leading up to this field goal, he actually got up and left the room to start preparing supper ... or something.
Also, if it's possible, people who make youtube videos, is it possible for someone to sync this video with the radio call provided by Eli and Jerry Duncan? Not only did both of them agree "we've got to block this one" before the play happened -- the pair nearly had a coronary in the box as the play unfolded. I still don't like Eli, but it's a great call.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday morning links

A significant week coming up for us here at the Party, for a few reasons:
-- "Lost" is back on Thursday (yes, I'm on pins and needles).
-- There's a race this weekend you may have heard about, possibly (hopefully) my last.

Anyway, there were some good stories that bore linking from over the weekend, so let's get a jump on things by getting them up.
-- Can't believe I missed this one from last week: poor Antoine Caldwell's name was misspelled on his cement block at Denny Chimes. Needless to say, UA's getting a ton of great publicity out of it.
-- Speaking of mistakes, someone at CNN did this last week. Great.
-- Continuing his well-established pattern of promoting the hell out of himself, Ian Rapaport sits down with Picture Me Rollin, revealing that he and Saban don't actually hate each other.
I don’t really focus on his personality. Sometimes he sounds loud because he is being loud but I’m not focusing in on that. I’m thinking about the follow up question, not the tone he is talking in. I will say this; it’s a shame that people judge him based only what they see of him on television, because there is more to him than that and no one should be judged based solely on what the say in front of the camera. That’s not really who he is.
-- While we're on the subject of Sabans, the AP moved a story over the weekend about ... Terry Saban, aka, the Saban Who's Easy to Get Along With.
-- LATE ADD: Cecil talks about Alabama's drought of first-rounders in today's column.

From outside the Bamasphere ...
-- Proving that Saban isn't the only coach in America who ties up with reporters occasionally, Joe Paterno has a go-round with a Penn State columnist, even suggesting he can walk around State College without being recognized. Wait ... JoePa can walk?
-- As always, because it's Monday, you should read Couch Slouch. And since the NFL Draft is this weekend, Peter King is probably a good thing to read this week, as well.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

weekend youtube is required viewing

If you're like me, I mean.

I have a vague memory of my dad picking me up and nearly hitting my head in the ceiling fan when that kick went through the uprights. Still one of my favorite all-time games, and one of the reasons I love sports.

(Note: in the final image, look in the background for Stacy Harrison, wearing #1. Daniel A. has a great way of getting stuff like that in there.)


Friday, April 18, 2008

22 innings, Miguel Tejada and another lonely Friday, thinking about "Lost"

Very little time to blog today -- we've got the first round of baseball playoffs starting this afternoon, and a race coming up, for which we must prepare. Incidentally, if you're ever trying to decide whether to get into sportswriting, keep in mind that you'll probably have to go to Talladega, at least once. If you can handle that, maybe this is a business you'll want to get into.
(Speaking of sportswriting, has anyone else followed the bizarre Tejada thing? Why exactly did the WWL feel the need to ambush him in that interview? Did I miss something? Asking tough questions is, obviously, a must -- going out of your way to embarrass an interview subject like that seems a tad unnecessary. But we move on.)

With "Lost" returning to the airwaves next week after nearly a month off, I've been wandering about in the wilderness, pondering the mysteries of the show, trying to see if I'm smart enough to figure out exactly where we're headed. So far, no luck ... and that's been incredibly frustrating to me -- for example, I had pretty much every plot twist of "24" figured out long before it actually happened. Perhaps the "Lost" writers are simply smarter than the ones on "24." Or perhaps I got dumber. You be the judge.

Anyway, pretty much every character on the show is complex and difficult to understand, right down to the confusion of whether it's Scott or Steve that's actually still alive (or if any of them actually are).
But the most vexing character, undoubtedly, is Benjamin Linus. Absolutely none of his actions seem consistent with his previous actions, and the only that's certain is that he absolutely cannot be trusted.

In the tradition of Peter King, then, here are some things I think I think, about Ben Linus.
  • I think the issue of whether Ben is a "ruthless killer" is very difficult to figure out. We know, for example, that he became the de facto leader of "The Good Guys" after he unleashed a massive gas attack on the DHARMA Initiative ("The Purge"). And, as far as we can tell, he's still pulling the strings after the events of the show, ordering Sayid around as a hired gun. At other times, however, he's somewhat less vicious -- he had multiple chances, for example, to order the killing/capturing of flight survivors while he was being held in the hatch during Season 2. And there was that bizarre moment at the end of Season 3, when he had his followers pretend to kill Sayid, Jin and Bernard (which ultimately resulted in the loss of his own people). It's worth noting, I suppose, that he's technically never killed anyone himself -- the gas attack, well, that was the result of the gas, right? Even when he shot Locke -- who clearly threatens him among his own people -- he didn't actually kill him, even saying, before he departed, "Well, I certainly hope (Jacob) helps you."
  • I think Ben's prescience borders on the supernatural, and may in fact be supernatural. He seems to know the complete history of every other character on the show, he's somehow communicating with the world outside the island (knowing, for example, the Sox won the Series to manipulate Jack), he's talking with some sort of supernatural being named "Jacob" that only he (and Locke and possibly Hurley, it seems) can see, he clearly terrifies the rest of The Others (except Juliet), he's able to get up and walk less than a month after some seriously invasive surgery (in which he nearly died) and he has enough savvy that he can see a plane in the process of crashing to earth, immediately process what's going on and quickly formulate a game plan involving sending out spies and accumulating lists. Which leads us to our next point ...
  • I think Ben's intentions, visa vis the survivors, are befuddling. He went out of his way to kidnap Walt (who's got his own stuff going on, as we detailed a few weeks ago) in what appeared to be part of a very intricate plot to eventually capture Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley ... and he immediately let Hurley go. He obviously fears what happens if the survivors are discovered, though it's unclear if he staged the plane crash (as the Widmore boat guys say) or if the people on the boat did (as he said). But Ben's loyalties are obviously to The Island, and he's willing to do some rather extraordinary things to protect it. Which, naturally, leads us to our next point ...
  • I think Ben has clearly found a rival in John Locke, someone who also has a clear connection to The Island -- since, you know, it healed him and all. Locke also receives the adoration of The Others, pretty much from the first time he tours their camp. Locke can also see (and hear) the mysterious Jacob (even though he can't find the cabin when he's actually searching). And Locke, obviously, doesn't want to leave The Island either -- off The Island, he's a cripple who works for a box company. On The Island, he's a patriarchal tribe leader. Will one of them kill the other before this is over? Tough to say, but if that's the case ... I mean, it's Locke who loses, right? We know Ben's still running things with Sayid, after he leaves.
  • I think I've gone in a complete circle, and I'm thoroughly confused. Please come back, "Lost." I need you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

the numbers, man ... the numbers are bad

No ... not those numbers. We're talking scholarship numbers. And apparently, it's a prickly subject.

It's worth noting, for those who'd like to call this a "blow-up," that Saban appears to be on the verge of hysterical laughter as he's leaving the podium. And very little of what he says here makes any sense whatsoever. But never mind.

The issue at hand, of course, is how, exactly, Alabama is going to fit 91 players (counting the 66 currently on scholarship and the 25 coming to campus this fall) into the 85 spots allotted by the NCAA. None of the 'Bama bloggers have picked this up yet — none of the ones I read, I should say — but some of the national guys already have their say.
• The funniest take on it, naturally, comes from EDSBS.
I also have an announcement, yes, an announcement everyone: there is a horde of killer bees loose on campus, and they’re following Leigh Tiffin around campus. Why he’s covered with honey, I don’t know. That’s why I returned to the college game: for young people, and the crazy things they do, like walking in front of a masked man carring a honey sprayer and a basket full of killer bees on campus and not thinking, “Oh, my, what’s a man doing with a mask on and a gun that sprays honey and a basket labeled “KILLER BEES”, nope not suspicious at all.” Gotta love that about college kids.
• More matter-of-fact are SMQ and The Wiz. For SMQ, the tactic of over-signing is his annual rant about what's wrong with college football.
...coaches these days are politicians - votes are fans in seats - and in contemporary terms, Saban is Dick Cheney: ruthless, short-tempered, secretive beyond all reasonable bounds, likely to shoot colleagues in the face. Throw in paranoid, and he might be closer to Nixon. Scholarship policy, like energy and security policies that cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of tax dollars to the Washington press corps, is precisely the Alabama beat writer's business. Why didn't he just say, "So?" Or walk away and ban the whole lot of them forever? You can do that, you know. The media has no special rights; anybody can make a public records request. People don't need to know anything. Liberal busybodies probably had it coming.

Anyway, everyone has his own view of the situation, and those of us who grew up loving Alabama football no doubt have our vision tainted by our crimson-colored glasses. As I said in an earlier post, this likely will wind up being nothing but a whole lot of sound a fury, signifying nothing (I really hate what you did to this phrase, Stu Scott). Someone will likely decide to give up football and get his MBA (like B.J. Stabler); someone will fail to qualify academically; someone, undoubtedly, will get pissed that a freshman is taking his spot and flee to Troy or even North Alabama. These things even out.

As for Saban's intentional antagonism of the press, like I said, he seems to be chuckling over this particular incident, more than he's fuming. He probably should conduct himself in front of the press like more of an ... um ... adult. But once you start winning, answering those questions is a little easier. At least it should be.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

too many links to avoid

Some links to follow up on the video, and only because this coffee is outstanding:

-- Remember how I said Saban seems to go out of his way to antagonize reporters? Well, as Ian Rapaport repeatedly shows us, it cuts the other way, as well.
(Note: As a writer, I love reading stuff like this, and only because Ian takes us inside and attempts to give us an idea of what it's like to cover Saban on a daily basis. But as a fan? This kind of stuff gets tiresome -- Rap, dude, people read your blog to learn about Alabama football, not because they want to read about your bizarre, flirtatious relationship with the head coach. Come on.)
Also, since I forgot to link to Finebaum yesterday, he's here to drool over Saban again.

-- Want coaches going berserk at young reporters? Meet Bo Pellini, Nebraska head coach, who, it seems, is unhappy at his inability to control the campus newspaper.
"Pelini called our office and berated one of our board members so loudly that he was heard clearly from across the newsroom. There’s no real point in printing the choice phrases he used during that first phone call.
"But Pelini informed us the Daily Nebraskan’s relationship with the football program would be severed unless an exhaustive retraction was published on [Tuesday's] front page.
"Athletic Department personnel confirmed Pelini’s decision later in the day, and asked that our reporters and photographers not show up at Monday’s practice while politely asking the one writer who did to leave."
Does Bo work for the White House?

-- Speaking of strange, the odd saga of Harold Reynolds and ESPN apparently reached its conclusion yesterday. As Bama Hoops noted yesterday, the loss of Reynolds was the beginning of a decided downturn in ESPN's best show ("Baseball Tonight"), if only because they went out of their way to replace his informed analysis with no-talent homers like Steve Phillips and John Kruk.
It's actually part of an established pattern with ESPN -- replacing perfectly good programming with programming that isn't good. When I started listening to ESPN Radio in college, for example, the daily lineup featured Mike & Mike (back before they turned into females), Tony Kornheiser (Tony was born to do radio), followed by Dan Patrick (who would have Olbermann on, which was outstanding). Of course, Kornheiser left, to be replaced by the thoroughly loathsome Colin Cowherd; Patrick fled the premises -- I'm listening to him now on -- and Mike Tirico & Co. (bland), along with Stephen A. (yikes) took his place. So ... yeah ... not listening so much to ESPN Radio anymore.
(For the record, it is very possible to follow sports without ESPN entirely, if you want. I'm able to do it almost every day.)

-- While we're talking about ESPN, I thought this was pretty funny: apparently Simmons' scheduled podcast with Barrack Obama got the hook -- not because of a scheduling conflict, mind you ... because ESPN squashed it. For the record, even though Obama seems like a cool guy, I have severe doubts about his ability to be the chief executive. But why would ESPN squash an interview with their best columnist and the country's hottest political name? Your guess is as good as mine.

-- Deep South has a few LSU-related videos and White House photos, which were both frightening and hilarious at the same time. Of course, I'm thrilled that Les Miles is still at LSU -- have I mentioned that lately?


wednesday youtube is perplexed

An awareness test, courtesy of the BBC.

Have a good Wednesday, folks.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

some Tuesday hilariousness

Since it's Tax Day, I figured we could all use some humor (my taxes are done, thankfully, but some others out there may not be so fortunate). So thanks to all these people for being funny.

• Tim Tebow, MD? It can happen, says SMQ.
• Speaking of Tax Day, Druid provides us with some funny quotations about taxation. Because, after all, taxation with quotation is tyranny. Or something like that.
• Are you funny enough to write the caption for this picture from A-Day? The guys at EDSBS are.
• Not sure if this is funny. But I think it is.
• Being a beat writer can be dangerous, says Jeff Pearlman.
• And, of course, Norman Chad — always funny.

Finally, for some hilarious video, here's James Gregory riffing on people ... well, people like me.


Monday, April 14, 2008

extended thoughts on A-Day

I think this will possibly be the last blog you'll see with thoughts on A-Day in Tuscaloosa. As I said, we didn't stay at the actual game that long -- we don't get over to Tuscaloosa much anymore, so it seemed a shame to waste such a pretty day just sitting around watching a practice. But here are some things I did glean from what I did see ..
  • Alabama fans -- at least the ones sitting near me on Saturday -- are way, WAY too hard on John Parker Wilson. If memory serves, 14 missed on his first two throws, then couldn't find anybody open and threw his third pass out of bounds. You'd have thought the season was already over. It's unbelievable. Look, I'm not an apologist -- JPW was about as up-and-down in '07 as a quarterback can be (you can't get much more extreme in one season than Tennessee and Mississippi St/La.-Monroe). And, as we've discussed in this space and on the old LJ repeatedly, his pick-6 against State was and is The Single Worst College Football Play I've Ever Seen (it was so bad it needed capital letters). He was a mess by the end of the season. But let's give him some slack, if only because a) he's learning under his third OC in three years (a bigger deal than you think); b) he's practicing against his own first-team defense, which is not only (hopefully) really good -- they know all the plays since they've been practicing against it for three weeks. You never look good in an intra-squad -- your own defense always makes you look bad (look at what happened at Mississippi State). That's just the way it is.
  • By the same token, people touting the virtues of Greg McElroy should throw some water on themselves. Of course, everyone always wants to see the back-up quarterback -- it's an age-old phenomenon. But ask yourself this, though: if he's so damn wonderful, why didn't he get even a sniff of significant action in 2007, when John Parker looked bad enough that even his mother was embarrassed? Consider OTS, the most thorough of the 'Bama bloggers:
Greg McElroy looked "good" based on the standards that he had set in the first two scrimmages. He made a couple of nice throws, and by that I explicitly mean three or four. He didn't play particularly well, but he didn't look ungodly terrible, which is apparently how he performed in the first two scrimmages. Unfortunately, there's still not a lot of positives to talk about with him. He doesn't have a strong arm, he's not particularly accurate, and he holds onto the ball so long sometimes you would swear he's clinging to a life jacket in the middle of the Atlantic.
OTS was equally unimpressed with Nick Fanuzzi, who he calls "over his head." Just saying, you'll probably see John Parker in the #1 role when the offense takes the field in Atlanta this fall.

  • During the half we sat through in Bryant-Denny, a small group of boys ranging in age from 7-to-9 sat two rows behind us, making all sorts of loud, obnoxious noises, with no apparent adults anywhere to control them. I didn't mind them so much, but I got a laugh out of the thought that somewhere in the stadium -- possibly on the other side of the stadium -- sat a group of adults placidly enjoying a peaceful three hours, maybe even asleep.
  • More 'Bama offense: I never did see a stat line -- for God's sake, it's A-Day! -- but three things were impressive about Jim McElwain's offense at first glance: a) a number of different formations -- one-back, two tights, spread, off-set I, and so forth; b) the play of Earl Alexander, who caught several passes, including the Crimson's first TD (a fade over Kareem Jackson); c) Tide quarterbacks threw to their fleet of tight ends multiple times, a good sign for people like my dad, who maintains that "the tight end is always wide-open, no matter the play."
  • Defensively, Alabama stayed in a nickel look most of the game, something they're likely to do most of the season (in an effort to make up for lack of depth at linebacker). That's not a huge surprise -- Saban played nickel almost exclusively in 2007, also.
  • Druid has the most enduring image of the day, as two 'Bama DLs live the dream of so many Miami Dolphin fans.
  • Rapaport notes that Zeke Knight was a captain Saturday, a nice gesture, since he likely won't be cleared to play this fall.
  • Finebaum has the Tide going 8-4 this fall, with a win over Auburn, which should be nice. For what it's worth, here's what Alabama teams have done in Year 2 of a new head coach, since Bryant:
Bryant, 1959: 7-2-2 from 5-4-1.
Perkins, 1984: 5-6 from 8-4.
Curry, 1988: 9-3 from 7-5
Stallings, 1990: 11-1 from 7-5
DuBose, 1998: 7-5 from 4-7
Franchione, 2002: 10-3 from 7-5
Shula, 2004: 6-6 from 4-9

There's no hard and fast historical precedent, obviously, but Alabama teams typically improve -- if only slightly -- in the second season. The most dramatic improvement was Stallings', whose team actually won a national championship in his third season. But Stallings didn't have quite the rebuilding job given to some of the other coaches (Perkins and Franchione, inparticular, inherited programs that needed to be almost completely retooled, while Shula had to endure the worst probation since SMU in the mid-80s).

Of course, the great irony with A-Day is there's no way to know for sure exactly what Alabama will have in the fall based on the spring -- many of the players expected to make the biggest impact on the program have yet to reach campus. This Alabama program, as it's currently constructed, doesn't look particuarly good, as Cecil Hurt notes in his column.

Whether it will look better by Opening Day remains to be seen.


    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    a brief plug

    We DID manage to hit up A-Day yesterday -- for a half, anyway. Sorry, but the weather (and everything else) was too pretty to sit still watching football practice for too long (I do that in my regular job enough already). In any case, I'll have a few more thoughts on that experience later in the day. Very quickly, however, I wanted to plug my uncle's candidacy for Mayor of Opelika, on the off-chance that any registered Opelikans are reading this blog and might be swayed.

    His Web site is located here, where you'll find a copy of the letter announcing his candidacy for the mayoral office. Also, he has a myspace account, which -- in all honesty -- is hilarious (the idea of my uncle navigating myspace -- OMG UR SO HOTT!!11!!).

    Back with some football stuff later.


    Friday, April 11, 2008

    a "Lost" Friday -- I'm so alone

    Still no show -- gotta wait a couple more weeks. I thought about a couple different issues with the show that still need exploring, but those can wait a while, I suppose. In the meantime, particularly since it's Masters week, here's a short excerpt of a golfing scene.

    I feel you, Jin. I feel you.


    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    links and follow-up

    Just to clarify on the earlier post: I don't want to sound like someone who's whining about his job (even though that's what I'm doing). It's with some difficulty that I must remind myself when someone's grandmother is swearing at me over the phone, or a coach refuses to call me back, that there are worse things one could be doing for a living. For the most part, I enjoy coming to work every day; you have to believe me.

    Anyway, just as a follow-up on how the blogging world sees sportswriters, there's a well-written column on Deadspin about this very issue. Sure, the author swears a few times, and I don't agree with everything he says, but he makes his point for the most part. In this ever-changing world in which we live (Live and Let Die), sportswriters are struggling to adjust, just like everyone else.
    The blogosphere, for the most part, scares the hell out of the veteran writers in both sports and news, and I'll tell you why: accountability. Maybe there's little of it it in broadcasting, where you can casually suggest that someone might be a rapist with absolutely no proof (hi, Greta van Sustern!), but every word upon the page in the writing business is a potential land-mine. Once it's written, it might as well be in stone (unless you work for the Bush Administration, but that's another issue for another time).
    See, everybody who reads my stuff at The Daily Home site knows my name. They know my face, they know my phone number and they know where I work. If I screw up, or if they have a beef with me, it's pretty hard for me to hide without quitting my job. To put it plainly, I have to answer for my work.
    It's not so in the blog world — and for the record, I LOVE the blog world, and read it every day. Capstone, RBR, Tide Druid, Memphis Tide, Bama Hoops ... they're like my family. But I've never met any of them. I have no idea what they look like or where they live (though Memphis Tider surely lives in Memphis, right?).
    If, say, Nico at RBR decides to put out a story that Tommy Tuberville is a con artist living a double life, and is passing himself off as a Hispanic sharecropper named Esteban Rodriguez who has a wife and 17 children in New Mexico, and that's the real reason Auburn fell so far off in recruiting this past year, what would Tuberville's recourse be? To sue RBR? To sue Nico personally? Who is Nico? Does he have any credibility to lose?
    Obviously, this is an extreme example, and most of the reputable blogs out there are pretty transparent — the guys at Deadspin and The Big Lead routinely break stories, for example, and they don't hide behind Internet pseudonyms. Still, they COULD do that. And that, ultimately, is why guys like Rick Reilly and Tony Kornheiser, et al., play the "mother's basement" card, and try to pretend that reputable reporting/journalism can't exist outside the ivory towers belonging to those who graduated from J-school.
    In a way, though, the blogosphere may eventually wind up being the best thing that ever happened to newspaper writing. With such a vast medium available to anyone willing to provide an email address, suddenly we're all being held more accountable than we were before. We're having to think creatively, to see things from other perspectives, and to try and provide something different than the other guys, in different ways than the other guys are doing it.
    So stay tuned. This debate isn't going away. And that's probably for the best.

    Moving on ...
    • Your complete A-Day guide, courtesy of Rapaport.
    • Why a Democrat in the White House is good for Alabama fans, according to The Druid (and history).
    (Full disclosure: Tucked away in my vault of stuff about the 1992 championship team is a special-edition Sports Illustrated, which I read so many times in my youth that the cover eventually fell off. In the article describing Alabama's win over LSU, the writer makes mention of the fact that the first Democrat in the White House since Alabama's last national title — 1979 — was elected in the middle of the 1992 football season. You can't make this stuff up, folks.)
    • SEC Nicknames and you, via RBR.
    • Can't figure out how to survive until football season? Orson Swindle has a few ideas.

    And with that, I bid you good day.


    Ozzie Guillen sounds a lot like Tony Montana, and so forth

    I love Capstone Report. I really do. He and I probably don't see things eye-to-eye all the time, but I always respect his opinion and it's always worth reading.

    At the same time, he could occasionally stand to take off the crimson-colored glasses. In a post from yesterday, Caps went after Gentry Estes and sportswriters in general, for what he sees as petulance towards Nick Saban stemming from the (apparently) acrimonious relationship Saban has deliberately sought out with the press.
    What the public doesn’t like, and I don’t care for are crybaby sportswriters. You’ve got a difficult job—but it isn’t like you’ve got to do real reporting. It isn’t investigative reporting where you have to dig for documents or find sources who are afraid to talk out of fear of reprisal. It isn’t dangerous reporting where an indicted man threatens you or one of your female writers covering the police beat. Sportswriters don’t even write about the important things—after all it is just a game.
    I'm not contesting this point, by any means. Just know that sportswriters, particularly beat reporters covering college sports, are frustrated individuals. They're shut out of practice. They're shut out of locker rooms. And what time they actually get to talk with the athletes they cover is closely-guarded, tightly-controlled and can be revoked at any time by a paranoid, Nazi-like media relations department.
    Quick example: a few weeks ago, I attended a media luncheon announcing the start of UAB's spring football practice, where I'd hoped to meet up with a former player from our coverage area who's starting this fall as a senior cornerback. The player couldn't make it over -- his class schedule conflicted -- so after waiting a while, I announced I was leaving, saying, "I've got his cell number at the office (and I've talked to him on it before) so I'll just call him later tonight."
    Well, the UAB folk didn't like that. More than one person cautioned me against calling, saying, "He's got your number -- we'll get him to call you later (he didn't, by the way, and when I tried him later that evening, he didn't answer)."

    None of this is illegal, mind you, and football coaches are under no obligation to accomodate us while we try to do our jobs. Moreover, the media climate is changing -- no longer are beat reporters necessarily privy to "inside info" that the general public isn't. Read, for example, this column from 2006 by Bill Simmons:
    ... I'm wondering if a press pass does any good. Unlike the old days, basketball reporters rarely get extra access anymore -- it's just the same herd of writers hovering around the same people, day after day, writing down the same boring quotes from the same group of bored people who just want them to go away. Unlike the old days, we can watch every minute of every game on TV. We can watch the postgame press conferences. We can watch highlights and sound bites on ESPN. We can argue about the team with other fans on message boards and blogs. By the time most newspaper stories are published, the news always feels a little dated. I'm telling you from experience -- it's possible to follow a ... team without reading the local beat writers now. I do it every day.
    So beat reporters are trying to learn how to think differently than they have for the past 50 years, trying to figure out how to balance reporting and blogging (without talking incessantly about themselves, like Rapaport does), trying to figure out how to survive. And it's pretty hard to do when you have the overlords of the university monitoring your every move.

    Another note: Caps makes it seems as though Saban and the daily press corps utterly hate each other, and he has clashed with some of them at least once. Truthfully, however, I've been able to talk to a number of those beat writers, and they almost uniformly prefer the Nicktator -- a jerk and a diva, to be sure, but an honest one who's consistently the same on a daily basis -- to his predecessor, who many of them regarded (and still regard) as a phony (Shula, like many NASCAR drivers, wanted to be a nice guy only as long as the television cameras were on). "With Saban," one writer told me, "as long as you're willing to sit through his rant about why you shouldn't have asked that question in the first place, you'll get your answer. It's really not so bad."

    One other thing: Capstone's assessment of Alabama fans is, of course, spot-on. As we covered in a previous post, there's a segment of the fan base that will stay loyal to the current coach -- no matter who he is -- simply because he's the current coach (it's a first cousin of the segment of the American population that refuses to criticize the president -- no matter what you actually think of him -- because he's the president). And those fans tend to be a tad vitriolic towards anyone who would dare criticize that coach, no matter what happens. And stuff like the Estes thing, that sparked this whole thing, tends to make most writers play it close to the vest, lest they incur the wrath of those fans, and be shut out of the media rooms.

    Back with some links later today.


    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    random thought

    Could the impending transfers of Rico Pickett and Justin Tubbs, along with the NBA draft testing by Richard Hendrix and Ronald Steele (and possibly Alonzo Gee) be GOOD things for Mark Gottfried?

    Follow me on this one: the best thing one can have, as a basketball team, is an eight-or-nine-man rotation, one where everyone knows his role (scorer, defender, rebounder, whatever — everyone has to know what his main contribution SHOULD be each night) and no one complains about minutes.

    Well, here's the list of people who averaged more than 10 minutes of playing time per night in 2008 for Alabama:
    • Hendrix (30.6)
    • Mykal Riley (31.5)
    • Alonzo Gee (30.1)
    • Brandon Hollinger (25.5)
    • Pickett (21.2)
    • Demetrius Jemison (23.0)
    • Senario Hillman (14.0)
    • Mikhail Torrance (12.2)
    • Justin Tubbs (12.3)
    • Yamene Coleman (10.9)

    That's 10 people, for the record. And it's leaving out the fact that Ronald Steele didn't play a minute this season. And of those 10, only Riley is a senior. Which means that 10 guys (counting Steele) will be expecting at least 10 minutes of action per night in 2009.

    Throw in the fact that JaMychal Green (likely a one-year wonder) is almost certain to want playing time, and you have 11 guys. Plus, we don't know what the freshman class will bring in addition to Green.

    Can you imagine a coach as lost as Mark Gottfried was this season competently sorting out everyone's minutes, considering the 16-car pileup he delivered this past season? I say no.

    Just a thought.


    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    Wednesday youtubery on Tuesday

    In honor of your new national champions ...

    (Note: My wife utterly despises this chant, for personal reasons that wouldn't make sense even if I took the time to explain them. Suffice to say, she's not too thrilled about KU's surprise ascension to college basketball's throne.)


    Monday, April 7, 2008

    Hilarity ensues

    You know what makes the Internet great? Oh, there are like a thousand things? Well, I'm voting for the overwhelming amount of funny things that make life seem less serious as my favorite. With that in mind, some links that might make you chuckle.

    • How to get yourself suspended in public: an Arizona football player digs deep. Seriously.

    • Norman Chad actually watches 24 straight hours of ESPN and lives to tell the tale. Yikes.

    • ESPN columnist pokes fun at Emmitt Smith, ESPN personality — bosses don't see the humor.

    • SMQ discusses the affinity Southerners have for calling their coach "Coach."

    • Fire Joe Morgan does what Fire Joe Morgan does.

    • Finally, EDSBS runs an absolutely hilarious page of corrections.

    One more bit of humor — Patton Oswalt discusses the phenomenon that is the KFC Famous Bowl.

    Have a nice Monday, everybody.


    Saturday, April 5, 2008

    Final 4 youtubery

    Twenty-five years later, still the coolest.

    (Note: That voice you hear is Billy Packer -- yes, even 25 years ago, Billy Packer was agitating basketball fans everywhere and making the NCAA Tournament slightly less enjoyable. With any luck, he'll be torturing my kids 25 years from now, too.)


    Friday, April 4, 2008

    "Lost" Friday: what to make of Walt?

    Note: With "Lost" inexcusably on hiatus until the end of the month, I intend to spend the next few Fridays pontificating about mysterious characters we don't fully understand. Hopefully, it will be enlightening. Odds are it won't be, but a man can dream.

    Another note: As always, if you are interested in watching the show and don't want anything spoiled for you, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. I MEAN IT. SOMETHING IN THE POST BELOW COULD SPOIL THE SHOW FOR YOU, SO STOP IT. I SWEAR TO GOD.

    At this point in the bizarre saga of the mysterious island and the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, the one passenger who baffles me the most is Walt Lloyd. Why is this interesting? Because Walt has been given very few lines, virtually disappeared from the show after the finale to Season 1 ... and he's 10 years old.

    Stand by for a doctored version of Walt's last big moment on the show ...

    Here are the things we know about Walt, in order:
    • He's Michael's son, even if he barely knew Michael for most of the first part of his life.
    • He's (apparently) back in New York, living with his grandmother.
    • He's got some form of supernatural ability.

    And it's that last bullet about him that has me thinking he could become an important figure in the show, eventually. Since being captured by The Others in the video above, he (or, at least, his image) has appeared to two different characters on the show — to Shannon (shot to death while chasing him) and Locke (about to commit suicide before Walt shows up and tells him he has "work to do"). What do those two encounters have to do with one another? I have no idea.

    In the flesh, Walt appears to be equally confounding. We know, for example, that he terrified his step-dad, Brian, who basically begged Michael to take him off his hands — one could, I suppose, blame the natural disconnect that occurs between children and their step-parents, but Brian seemed genuinely afraid of Walt, possibly owing to the flashback we got to see where Walt appeared to have some hand in the death of a bird.
    Two other episodes give some insight into the child's character: one, in which it's revealed Walt burned Michael's raft, explaining to Locke, "I like it here." (Interestingly, Walt and Locke become fast friends in Season 1, beginning when Locke teaches him to play backgammon — both, it seems, have their love of the island in common.) In a subsequent episode, Walt touches Locke's hand, then abruptly warns him not to open the hatch — significant because, of course, at that point in the story, only Locke and a handful of others had any idea the hatch was even there.

    In Walt's character description linked above, there's one other instance where we get to see Walt, described thusly:
    In a mobisode it is revealed that at some point after he was taken off the raft, Walt was held in Room 23 at the Hydra compound by the Others. Walt posed a greater threat to them than they expected, as he had been doing something unspecified that frightened them so that they would not go in to see him. Ben responded to a particular situation with a blaring alarm and people in commotion, and Juliet suggested that Ben take responsibility and bring Walt back to Michael. Ben refused, saying Jacob wanted him there, and that Walt is important and special. After Ben denied Walt's dangerous nature, Juliet took him outside to show what Walt had done: a group of dead birds were lying on the stairwell beneath a boarded up window.
    23, it should be noted, is one of Hurley's evil "numbers."

    In Walt's only other appearance on the show, he briefly reveals to Michael that the Others had been "experimenting" on him, before being dragged away. And that's pretty much his last significant line up until now.

    So, what to make of Walt? He's obviously unnaturally gifted in some fashion, really likes the island — where he's not at the moment, it seems — and has popped up twice, once leading someone to death and another time bringing someone back to life.
    And honestly? I have no idea. Were The Others attempting to harness his power when he led Shannon to death? Has he tapped into his own potential, leading Locke out of the pit and his father back to the place he calls home? Or is there something else going on that we haven't even realized yet?
    I don't know and I'm not sure I want to. Just know that I don't think we've heard the last of him.


    Thursday, April 3, 2008

    early links, John Carpenter and Curly Hallman

    Throwing out some early links this morning, although it's hard to concentrate -- John Carpenter's The Thing is on AMC, and I'm toggling that with a "College Flash Classic" replay of the 1994 LSU-Auburn game, better known as The Death of Curly Hallman, Major College Football Head Coach. I honestly can't imagine what it must have felt like to be an LSU fan that day. In case you forgot, here's what happened.

    With LSU leading 23-9 in the fourth quarter and dominating ...


    And finally, after driving down the field to re-take their hard-earned lead with a field goal AND THEN HOLDING AUBURN'S OFFENSE TO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ...

    To quote my father ... "Undamnbelievable."
    For the record, poor Jamie Howard threw five interceptions in that fourth quarter, counting two he threw on the final drive (Brian Robinson fumbled the first one). And that's not even counting the fumble Auburn recovered for its first touchdown. Like I said, I can't imagine what my life would've been like if I had been an LSU fan that day -- that game might have turned me against football forever.

    Anyway, some more current links, most of them from
    (Actually, what am I saying? Keep him, dude! Keep him forever! Is there any way he can become a GA and corrupt the minds of LSU freshmen for, like, 20 years? Do it!)


    Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    puff pieces galore

    Links today are all about feature stories, all of them related to spring training in Tuscaloosa. Before we get into any of that, however, I present to you the scary story of The Druid, who ran off the road in Tuscaloosa yesterday and survived to tell the tale, with only a little wounded pride and three busted tires. Let's all pause for a moment and think about all the stupid things we've done when behind the wheel of a car, and how lucky we are to still be here.
    Whew. I feel sheepish.
    Fortunately, TD is just fine, and apparently no worse for the wear. All of us in the blogosphere are grateful, if only because we get to (hopefully) read another imagined phone call before too much longer.

    And with that ... we're off.
    • Wondered why Terry Grant was so slow at the end of last season? Rap Sheet has more.
    • Tim Gayle takes a hard look at Jimmy Johns, Alabama linebacker.
    • If you're into linebackers, the AP had a good story today about Rolando McClain, now (gulp) Alabama's most experienced LB.
    • As always, the most in-depth spring practice coverage comes from OTS, as part of the '98 Yankees-esque team at RBR.
    • Finally, if you're a football geek (like me), you'll love this: SMQ gives you an in-depth look at how Paul Johnson's flex-bone offense worked at Navy. It's a thing of beauty, and I don't mean that facetiously.

    Enjoy your Wednesday, folks.


    wednesday youtube isn't just sure ...

    It's ... positive.
    (Fair warning: if you're sensitive, you might not want to play this video.)


    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    random thoughts

    Sorry for no post today -- been working at my real job most of the day. As penance, here are some random, mostly college-football-related questions swirling around in my cranium.

    -- Why wouldn't the schools in the state of Florida look at my revolutionary proposal to form their own conference? They could call it the Sunshine League, or the Peninsular Conference or whatever. Here's what you'd have, if such a league existed:
    1. Florida
    2. Florida State
    3. Miami
    4. South Florida
    5. Central Florida
    6. Fla. International
    7. Florida Atlantic
    You could even add FAMU if you wanted, just so everyone could have a competitor each year in the band competition. How awesome would this league be? Further, not only have you reduced travel, the league would be the perfect size -- so Florida, for example, could continue playing its "Cocktail Party" with Georgia and everyone could still play some out-of-conference action. And every game would have national implications, too -- you're telling me the BCS wouldn't eat this thing up?
    More importantly, the natural rivalries are almost all pre-existing. In those seven universities, virtually every major Floridian city is represented. So a South Florida-Central Florida game is, in reality, a battle of Orlando against Tampa. And so forth.
    I really have no idea why this wouldn't work.

    -- Perhaps you read yesterday's link about Mississippi State's sad spring game, which ended in a 0-0 regulation tie and actually had to go to overtime to be decided.
    It's stuff like this that makes everyone reluctant to think of State as a legit contender in the SEC. In both of the Bullies' big wins last year -- at Auburn and home against 'Bama -- the opposing quarterbacks (Brandon Cox and JPW) played poorly enough that the singular blame for the losses falls squarely on them. As I wrote in November after 'Bama's loss at Starkville, even a D+ from the quarterback position, and Alabama wins the game comfortably. Instead, John Parker turned in an F--------.
    But that's basically been Sly's strategy since he got to State -- get a break or two early, play tough D and protect a lead late. Basically, it's the Gene Stallings theory of winning -- it's boring, but it's effective.
    Unfortunately, the league (and college football in general) is moving in a direction where that won't win consistently anymore. You might pull an upset or two, maybe even make a bowl game, but the offenses in this league are too good on a night-in, night-out basis. At some point, if you're going to win a championship, your offense has to do more than just sit on the ball for the entire fourth quarter.
    (Of course, I can hear Sly now reading stuff like this and saying, "Just keep underestimating us, stupid."

    -- If you were UAB, wouldn't you go out of your way to try and schedule all your home games for days other than Saturday? Tuesdays, Thursdays ... even Fridays would be better than playing on Saturdays, wouldn't they? You're never going to win head-to-head with Auburn and Alabama -- why even bother trying? And you might even get a few extra TV dates if you agreed to play during the week, right?

    -- Kudos to everyone in the SEC for adding quality non-conference opponents starting this season ('Bama-Clemson, Auburn-West Virginia, Georgia-Arizona St., and so forth). Here's a suggestion: why don't we explore the option of adding an extra conference game?
    Think about it: one of the chief complaints about the divisional format -- playing one permanent inter-division opponent and two rotating inter-division games -- is that it's dissolved some of the old rivalries -- Ole Miss-Georgia, Auburn-Tennessee and the like. So why not play TWO permanents inter-division, plus two more rotating games? Not only would you beef up everybody's schedule strength and bring back some of those lost rivalries -- you'd be decreasing the amount of time between games in the rotating dates, as well.
    Again, I don't see why this couldn't work.

    -- Finally, with the Final 4 looming, it seems only natural for me to think what it would be like if college football were to adopt some form of tournament for its postseason. Allow me, for a moment, to elaborate.
    • Once the NCAA Tournament starts, conference affiliation doesn't matter anymore. One of the chief knocks on Georgia's candidacy for the BCS Title Game last fall by nearly everyone (including me) was that the Bulldogs "didn't even win their division. But ... really, who cares? Are they the most deserving team or aren't they? When Syracuse won the basketball title in 2003, did anyone care that they didn't win their conference? Of course not. So give that a rest.
    • One reason the BCS and the bowl system are alive and well: the NCAA doesn't get a dime of that money. That may be the chief argument against a playoff system: more money to give to a bloated fat-cat monopoly that's already carrying on like Henry VIII, as evidenced by the Gridiron Bash fiasco.
    • The best thing about the selection process in basketball? The concept of the "blind resume." Basically, you take two teams, take away their names and compare their individual bodies of work. So if Team A and Team B have similar records, but Team B has more quality wins and a slightly better schedule ... Team B gets in, period. Only later do you find out you selected San Diego State over Indiana. If we're going to stick with the BCS, this is something that should follow -- take away the names, don't think about who makes more money for you or who's got the more loyal fan base. Which teams are the most deserving? They get in, period.
    Oh well. I'll have more on this when I can think clearly again.