Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday on the 'tube: ESSEESEE speed

A cool video that will make you curse the fact that it's only April.

Damn you, summertime.

Back with "Lost" stuff tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

if it's Monday, then these must be links

Big doings over the weekend have led to big doings in the county, but more on that later.

In any case, here are some links that attracted my attention, and hopefully will attract yours as well.

— Beginning with basketball: a weekend of juicy matchups mostly fell flat, as SbB details. The matchups in the Final 4 look equally enticing, obviously, but this weekend proved there are no guarantees. Wilbon, predictably, doesn't enjoy a life without upsets.

— Obviously, the big story over the weekend in Alabama was the hiring of a new head basketball coach. Here's his introductory press conference.

Whoops — wrong guy. Here's his press conference.

Naturally, everyone's pretty excited about the hire. Capstone King calls Grant 'the perfect fit.' Cecil is also duly impressed. And the CW, naturally, is quite fired up.
Of course, Tower has a great entry as well — making fun of another blog, just because. Frankly, it's outstanding work they're doing there.
— Less pleasant things: Alabama was hammered over the weekend by Florida, both in baseball and softball. Baseball has a big series coming up this weekend at home against Tennessee — here's a recap of the weekend in SEC play.
— Football-related: Ozzie Newsome weighs in on Andre Smith; Lou Saban died over the weekend; and Peter King checks in with his regular MMQB column.

Friday, March 27, 2009

weekend in link form

Few things in life compare to watching Duke get drilled in the NCAA Tournament. Since my bracket collapsed on the tournament's first Thursday, seeing Duke players sitting on the bench with towels draped over their heads is pretty much all I had to look forward to this weekend. So thank you, Villnaova.

One programming note: you may have an extended blog post about Spencer Pennington in your future. Not saying it will happen -- just something to look out for.

On then with your weekend in links, or, other cool sites to visit aside from this one:
— Thankfully, SportsbyBrooks has a quick recap of last night coupled with a preview for the rest of the weekend, saving us the rest of the trouble. Also, Couch Slouch gave us this hilarious assessment of Clark Kellogg. Just remember this: you could always have Billy Packer back.
— Obviously, the biggest basketball-related story in Alabama right now is the courtship of Anthony Grant. As of this blog post, no news to report. Also, Mr. SEC wonders how much money Mike Anderson made for himself last night.
In other Alabama basketball news, the wheelchair did what 'Bama teams do: won a national title. Well played, guys.
— Thus far, three good things have come out of Lane Kiffin's hiring at Tennessee:
• A never-ending stream of comedy/bulletin board material.
• Tennessee has recruited well.
Johnny Majors has come back to Knoxville. Hell, he may be the interim coach in a few years.
— Tony Barnhart checks in with 5 SEC Spring Questions, including what the heck has happened (and will happen) to Terry Grant.
— RBR has some news & notes from spring in Tuscaloosa.
— Finally, diamond vision: TCBB has a preview of the weekend in SEC baseball, and we go back to RBR for a preview of the Tide's big weekend softball series against Florida.

And that's that. Have a good weekend, and watch out for something on Spencer. I'm not sure I have the strength, but we'll see.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Lost" follow-up: untangled

Following up last night's rambling, here's this week's "Lost Untangled." I implore you to share your thoughts with the group in the comments section. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Lost" blogging: he's our you

Welcome to this week's version of the "Lost" blog, as we continue to attempt to somehow understand what's going on in this continually confounding ABC program. Tonight's version: "He's Our You," which is supposedly to feature Sayid. As always, stay away, stay away, stay away ... SPOILER ALERT.

8:04: What book was that young Ben handed him?
(opening credits)
While we're waiting out the first commercial break, allow me to advance a theory I read somewhere else: that Sayid actually has come in contact with The Others since coming back to La Isla, and does, in fact, have some kind of hostile-related agenda. Of course, when last we saw Sayid, he was telling Jack "I don't want any part of this" and walking as quickly away from the plot to return to the Island as possible. Then suddenly he was on Ajira 316 in handcuffs. You figure it out.
8:12: We lost our feed window briefly. Suffice to say, Horace is threatening to torture Sayid, the master torturer. Fantastic.
8:13: The tension between this group is palpable: between Jack & Sawyer, Juliet & Sawyer, Juliet & Kate, Jack & Juliet.
8:14: Just a thought: remember when Sayid tortured Sawyer in the first season?
8:15: Yup.
8:16: Classic "con-man-turns-good" story. Even though it's all one big lie.
8:17: "Then I guess I'm on my own."
While we're on break, a big hello to my dad, who purposefully skips this portion of the blog each visit. Hi, Dad -- glad to see you again.
8:19: Back with Hurley serving food, which is somehow apropos (not a fat joke -- the dude used to serve food for a living).
8:20: Hurley is always the guy who breaks this kind of news to everybody. Always. ... Random thing on Jack: even though none of this is making any sense to him, he seems perfectly serene.
8:21: That's Ben's dad, dude! He's the janitor! ... And now he's abusing the young Ben. So, the eternal dilemma: protect an abused child, or allow him to become the genocidal mastermind he will be?
8:22: Great scene of Ben manipulating Sayid, just as he's been doing ever since he came on the scene. Does anybody else see a parallel between Sayid's captivity and Ben's time as "Henry Gale?"
8:23: Ben gives the classic fate/choice debate, only framing it so that Sayid appears to be a killer.
8:24: "I'm not what you think I am."
8:25: Sawyer subduing the Iraqi torture artist with a taser, and off we go into the jungle. What's that song playing there?
8:26: "He's our you." Fantastic. ... That's right: it's That Guy from Newhart -- I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, this is my other brother Darryl -- torturing Sayid.
8:27: A loss of control: a classic "Lost" ploy.
8:32: Back to the dock where Sayid walked away. ... Perhaps we're about to find out how he got himself arrested.
8:33: Was the girl who arrested Sayid -- currently cooing at him at a bar -- working for Ben, too?
8:34: Apparently, the problem with Sayid is his inability to change. He is what he is, it seems.
8:37: Sayid gets to deliver the unpleasant news about the Purge. ... Telling the truth isn't always believable.
8:38: Remember: last week, Sawyer made a big deal about "having a plan." Now he looks utterly befuddled.
8:40: Michelle Dessler looks upset. Also uses a great "24" line: "We have no choice."
8:46: Sayid seems to really have a weakness for women who want to kill/arrest him. Of course, in real life, Naveen Andrews has a pronounced British accent and sounds like a prancing schoolboy.
8:47: Is Sayid, in fact, going to answer for what he's done?
8:48: Now Sayid is talking about destiny and purpose. Obviously, he thinks execution is a proper answer for his crimes.
8:49: Has Kate gone to some length to make herself less ugly?
8:50: Dollar says this particular escape is being hatched by young Ben himself.
8:52: HaHA!!!!!
One note while we were in the break: how awesome was it that Anthony Grant (reportedly) visited Nick Saban's house during his visit to Tuscaloosa? Do you think coach Saban laid any of the snake oi ... er, recruiting charm? Not that $2 million per is hard to turn down, anyway.
8:57: Actually, I now have little doubt -- she's definitely working for Ben, either directly or otherwise.
8:58: So, as it turns out, it is indeed Sayid who turns young Ben to the Dark Side, once and for all. Assuming Ben is a bad guy, or, at least, worse than Widmore.
9:00: Ho. Ly. Hell.
(End of episode)

will heath, newspaper columnist

As this week's edition of thestclairtimes.com is now up without my Lifestyles column, I'm posting it here as a form of self-aggrandizement. So ... deal. I apologize in advance if you think it stinks — this is, after all, my blog.

Coming up with your own identity tough

One of the more interesting characters in recent sports history is Doug Williams.

Williams is a rather obscure figure now, but in January 1989 he was anything but. The quarterback of the Washington Redskins headed into the Super Bowl, Williams also had the distinction of being the first black man to ever lead a professional football team to the sport’s biggest stage.

With typical reserve, however, he downplayed that role in the week leading up to the game.

“I didn’t come here to be the first black quarterback to do anything,” he said. “I came here to win the Super Bowl.”

It worked out nicely for Williams – he outplayed the great John Elway, leading an offense that scored 35 second-quarter points and walked away with a surprisingly easy 42-17 win over the Denver Broncos.

Forevermore, Williams is recognized as the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. It’s his identity.

We all have an identity, for better or worse. At age 14, I moved with my family to Opelika, a town completely unfamiliar to me, except for the presence of a few cousins who already lived there.

“Wait … aren’t you Maggie’s cousin?” people would ask. And the answer was yeah … yeah I am.

Over the years, I’ve moved in and out of a number of different identities: that geek who keeps referring to himself as “Maggie’s cousin,” the scout-team tackling dummy, the first-team tackling dummy, the guy who won’t shut up about his hometown, that guy who nearly got us kicked out at the football game that one time, Stacey’s boyfriend, Stacey’s husband and, of course, the newspaper guy.

Being identified as “the newspaper guy” is a rather strange designation – people expect you to walk around wearing a fedora, carrying a notepad and frantically attempting to scribble down everything they say.

(Actually, they’re kind of right.)

That’s not the only distinction that affects one’s life. As a college student, I roomed for two years with three other guys in a dormitory suite. All three of those guys — all of whom I consider as close as family – are now practicing United Methodist ministers.

It’s strange, frankly, to visit a friend of yours who’s now regarded by people as a “holy man.” They call him “preacher” and defer to his expertise on all matters of the spirit. Quite simply, his job is part of his identity.

An age-old problem, identity. Supposedly, Jim Hellwig, better known as The Ultimate Warrior in the late 1980s, was unable to separate his wrestling identity from his true self – he changed his name to Warrior in the mid-90s for reasons no one could entirely fathom.

That’s the tricky part about it: knowing who you are inside. If you don’t, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks of you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tuesday on the 'tube: The Deuce is loose

Today's youtube video comes from a time that doesn't seem so long ago, but I suppose is: the early 1990s, starring David Palmer.
If either a) you've forgotten about him or b) you're too young to remember, definitely take a gander at the video: this guy was really, really good. Look for the clip from the Blockbuster Bowl in 1991 at around 1:13, when he basically shakes the entire Colorado team.

Back with some "Lost" related stuff on Wednesday.

Monday, Monday ... links

With one tournament weekend in the books and many school folks headed back to class, we the Party wish to remind that the dance is still ongoing.

You're right. That was more than a little lame, particularly considering the two teams involved were Auburn and Georgia. However, it's the perfect lead-in for the early-week version of the links.
-- Wait ... perfect lead-in ... why? Well, it gives us the opportunity to cover the Gym Tide's SEC championship over the weekend. Ordinarily, this would be a relatively ho-hum affair -- 'Bama's gymnastics program is to the point where national championships are the goal, and not SEC titles (though they're nice, obviously). But this year's version has struggled with injuries all season -- it was about a month ago they were expected to lose at home to Auburn (they didn't). Now they have another title in the very tough SEC. Well-played, ladies.
-- Other things 'Bama: the Tide bats helped them salvage Game 3 in Oxford on Sunday, 19-6. They've got a "home-and-home" with UAB (in quotes because it's Tuesday in T-Town and Wednesday at the Met in Hoover) coming up this week before traveling to Florida for the weekend.
(Of note: usually you miss these, but on the weekends you can typically catch an SEC baseball game or two on FSN, SS and CSS from now until May. It's my own little cause celebre -- why college baseball can't catch on like football & basketball, I can't fathom.)
-- Some football: Luke Brietzke dissects the ways Guz Malzahn is not Tony Franklin. All good points, but the timing issue can't be stressed enough: Auburn fans should not expect -- just as they should not have expected with Franklin -- for their new offensive mind to be great overnight. He's a good coach, not a miracle-worker. That's just the way it is.
(The inverse of that, obviously is this: Malzahn will hopefully have a better understanding of his personnel and what they can do, something Franklin appeared to never grasp.)
-- Rapaport goes back out on the field with Nick Saban & Alabama. A lot of good storylines brewing there, and you can read all about the battles at every position at BSR.
-- More on Alabama's coaching search: Estes covers the upcoming tug-of-war over Anthony Grant, while Scarbo wonders if new coaches can inject some juice into the SEC scene.
I'll go this far: I don't anticipate the conference will be down a significant amount of time. Obviously, this season was a sad scene, but three of the conference's teams are still playing -- Auburn, Florida and Kentucky (albeit in the NIT). And if we learned nothing else from LSU this season -- the only conference team to win an NCAA tournament game -- we learned how much difference the right head coach can make. So ... we'll see, I suppose.
-- Finally, a disappointed Dan Shanoff labels this weekend the Stale 16. Which isn't entirely fair -- maybe it's sort of boring to watch all the higher seeds and larger programs advance the first weekend, but the matchups for the coming weekend -- Gonzaga-Carolina, OU-Syracuse, Missouri-Memphis -- are frankly outstanding (at least on paper).
The larger issue here: because of the NBA's age limit -- imposed a few years ago -- the number of quality players who would've jumped straight to the pros from high school are now instead playing for the traditional basketball powers. That means, simply, you're better off taking chalk in the tournament -- the disparity between the best and the worst is larger than it was a few seasons ago.
Hopefully, in the words of Jim Ross, business will pick up this weekend.

Friday, March 20, 2009

links, amid the wreckage of my bracket

Many apologies for my absence this week. I'm afraid I have no valid excuses -- my wife IS on Spring Break, and I do have a job and all ... but still.
Anyway, like most seasons, the bracket I filled out was rendered little more than a computer-generated curiosity after Day 1 of the tournament -- every year, I say I'm not going to do it again next year, and every year I forget that and fill one out anyway.
My one moment of bracket glory came in 2003, when I nailed Dwayne Wade and Marquette's upset of Rajon Rondo and top-seeded Kentucky. In actuality, I don't recall knowing that much about Marquette, aside from Wade's name (which I thought sounded suspiciously like the lead character in "A Different World"). But I had watched Kentucky for most of the season, and found them suspect as a contender for the championship (in other words, I got blind lucky).

Anyway, there's a certain free feeling one gets after his bracket goes the way of Hiroshima -- today I can enjoy the tournament without any stake in any of the games. Kind of like watching football on a weekend when Alabama's off -- no need for my stomach to churn at any point.
And also, since it's a tournament weekend, here's a video of a white guy falling on his face.

Fantastic. One of the better in-game dunks of all-time, frankly.

And so it goes -- your weekend links. I may have some "Lost" thoughts later, if I can ever get around to watching the episode.

-- First, on the 'Bama basketball front: Gentry Estes details the latest on the coaching situation, including Mark Gottfried's turn as a TV analyst. Meanwhile, Rapaport says the university is prepared to pony up for the new head coach. Hurry up and get your degree, Whit! Your alma mater needs you!
-- Baseball-related stuff: TCBB has a preview of this weekend in the SEC, and Braves prospect Tommy Hanson turns heads.
-- On the football front, Mr. CFB returns to ask questions about the SEC West in 2009. Barnhart's assessment that McElroy will definitely be the QB this fall because of experience is somewhat odd -- McElroy's stats don't include a single meaningful collegiate snap in two seasons.
Tidesports.com had a fantastic feature on Terrence Cody this week, in which he revealed -- among other things -- that the coaches want him to drop a few more pounds, and that he once had a woman ask him to sign her chest. Honestly? It makes me feel good that I made the dude my favorite player prior to last season -- I'm like a proud dad (one who's never actually met his child, but still).

Also in football, espn.com sits down with Andre Smith, looking to redeem his draft status.

-- Other 'Bama-related stuff and then we're done: a golf prodigy signs with the university, and the program's ongoing (and infuriating) lawsuit with Daniel A. Moore continues.
Way to lose the forest for the trees, guys. Well done.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday 'tube: St. Patrick's & 'Bama

For St. Patty's Day, here's the closest I can get to a connection between Alabama and the Irish.

Just a thought: what must it be like to be Steve Beuerlein and watch this? Do you think his head hurts when he sees it? And how old will he have to be before Alabama fans stop bringing it up?
(One other random note: this game took place the weekend following my brothers' births in Opelika on 10-2. Not sure what this means.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

your Monday links coming late Sunday

Greetings from the Alabama basketball fan base, where even the NIT said, "No thank you" today. Frankly, we're probably all better off -- the fan base gave up on this squad early in the season, and I saw very little down the stretch that would make me change my mind. I mean, you saw the Tennessee game, right? Alabama continually getting beat down the floor for lay-ups and dunks? A set offense that revolved around "shoot it and hope our bigs can get the rebounds"? The halftime deficit going from 9 to 18 early in the second half, with no one calling a timeout? You saw all that?
You see why this season drove me crazy, obviously.

Anyway, off to the important stuff. The NCAA Tournament bracket is here. Note that it includes exactly three SEC teams, and the highest seed among those is LSU, an 8. That should put the whole "this is a good league and everybody else needs to wake up" talk to rest. Jerry from the JCCW knew as early as February that only a win in Tampa would get Auburn in the Dance, and he posted this as early as Saturday evening.
As for Auburn, the bubble updates can stop now. A team that is 2-4 against the top 50 and 6-10 against the top 100 and earned only one of those six wins on the (road) is not going to (be) given admittance to the NCAA Tournament this season. Here's to hoping this team can overcome this disappointment and go on a long run in the NIT: they should have the chance to remind us that instead of being disappointed they failed to make the NCAAs, we should celebrate that this motley-looking bunch defied every expectation and ever came within a game of the tournament in the first place.

If Auburn accomplished nothing else, it earned its coach another season, possibly two. We'll see if this is a Dennis Felton-level aberration, or if they're on the precipice of something here.

-- Look, I love the guys at 3sib for the most part, but Ghost's whining about the officiating on Sunday was and is laughable. I watched the end of the game, guys -- you lost because you couldn't execute a successful inbounds play. Period. Further, if you're going to cry about referees, you'd probably best stay away from Auburn folks after that debacle (in your favor) on Saturday. Just a thought.
-- 8Box has a roundup of candidates for Alabama's next head basketball coach, while we're on the subject. Also, Mr. SEC has some quality thoughts on Phillip Pearson, head coach.

Some non-basketball stuff and then we're through.
-- A big weekend for 'Bama baseball: the Tide whipped No. 1 UGA in a three-game set over the weekend in Tuscaloosa. Something that sounds distinctly like ... well, you know.

-- Speaking of that, BSR has a look at Spring Practice, Round I.
-- More on the ever-evolving saga of Lane Kiffin, this time with the Raiders.
That reminds me: my wife asked me the other day, "Seriously, what do you think's going to happen at Tennessee with their new coach?"
And my thought is simply this: UT (and Auburn, sort of) is in essence attempting the same thing Alabama did with Mike DuBose in the latter part of the last decade. Maybe the staff isn't quite as famous or as high-priced, but the principle is the same. I remember making many an excuse to that effect for DuBose: maybe he's not a head-coaching genius like ... well, every other championship-level coach, but the guy is smart enough to hire the right people and get out of their way, and he knows how to manage the egos so everybody's on the same page. We'll be fine.
I was kidding myself then, and UT fans are kidding themselves now if they say they really feel comfortable going to war with this guy and his high-priced staff. Take a lesson from the 2000 Alabama team: those guys all hated each other, they didn't pull for one another to succeed and it ultimately set the program back four years, possibly more. Just keep that in mind.

-- Finally, a little Braves: Chop Talk examines Vazquez vs. Peavy following their matchup in the WBC.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

weekend tube plays to win the game

With the Vols exacting sweet revenge against us last night -- to the utter surprise of no one who's watched this team all season -- I feel the need to post youtubage for the weekend to make myself feel better. Maybe it'll make you feel better, too.

Roll Tide.

Friday, March 13, 2009

links for your weekend

Difficult day today — trying to track down the story of a man killed by a freight train. In any case, here are the stories at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday.

— With spring practice starting today, here are looks at interesting position battles, via tidesports.com and al.com. I'll say this: I'm much, MUCH more interested in the battles for center & LT than I am in the QB spot. But that could just be me.
— Speaking of that vacated LT position, Andre Smith either flopped spectacularly or did great at his pro day in Tuscaloosa. 3Sib has the roundup.
— Basketball-related stuff: Scarbo lauds the job done by Phillip Pearson; Bama Hoops does the same; and si.com tells the story of Mykal Riley's (probably) life-saving shot.
— Finally, here's an actual newspaper story about Roller Derby. I can neither confirm nor deny that I'm going.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a "Lost" wednesday -- no "Lost"

Two humorous pieces of video for your viewing pleasure, since "Lost" isn't new again until next week.

First, in honor of Holland's big win over the Dominican last night, here's a great random moment from "Seinfeld."

And finally, because I feel the need to keep "Animaniacs" in your consciousness, here's the wheel of morality.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday on the 'tube ...

Taking a quick break, so here's a great moment in Mike Shula's history.

Great moment in Athens, obviously, as well as a portent of things to come for Shula's future.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday links, at lunch

Two more thoughts from yesterday in Knoxville:
• Look, I appreciate the kind sentiments of the oranges at 3sib about Phillip Pearson, and I'm sure he's a nice guy who may wind up a very good coach someday. But in the few games I've watched him coach since he took over the standing role on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa (only head coaches are allowed to stand up permanently during basketball games) I've seen nothing to indicate anything resembling improvement over the previous two months. In this recent "win streak," they survived an incredible 2OT game at home vs. Mississippi State, got hot from 3 in consecutive games (something that hadn't happened all season and hadn't really happened in two seasons) and was exceedingly lucky against a disinterested Tennessee team. Further, they looked hopeless in the lone loss of that streak — Jeff Lebo worked Pearson like a speed bag in the second half last Tuesday. At no point did the set offense improve, or did the team improve from a defensive standpoint. At no point did I see anything to make me believe any other than Alabama needs a fresh start, from the head coach on down.
• As weird as this sounds, Alabama could probably be a 20-win team — even as bad as they are — if they could simply finish fast breaks and make foul shots. For all its faults defensively, the Tide does have exceptional size (and "length," to steal a term from Jay Bilas) and is capable of forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. Unfortunately, it doesn't do them any good because they simply can't finish in transition — I can't count how many times this team screws up easy 3-on-2s, 4-on-2s and so forth. They're basically free points, and we find ways to screw them up all the time. And the free-throw shooting is beyond upsetting. If next year's head coach pulls a "Trent Johnson at LSU" type turnaround — not saying it will happen, just "if" — remember we had this conversation.

On then, with today's links ...
— Rapaport has the story of Anthony Brock, and how it may have been the divine will of the Living God that drove in that half-court heave.
"I called it. I said, 'Anthony's going in the game, he's wiping his shoes off, he's going in the game. He's going to make it. He made it. and I called it."

—This is just hilarious: Julio Jones was apparently written in for an SGA Senate Seat, and said, "Ya know what? I accept!" The Machine won't like this one, and I'm secretly hoping they try pulling some of their scare tactics from the past — anonymous threats, vandalism and so forth — against Jones and his teammates, so they a) permanently turn the tide of public sentiment against them and b) get beat down and possibly killed. That would make me exceedingly happy.
— Elsewhere on campus, the SGA is now attempting to revoke football tickets from people who don't show up. Apathetic students outraged. And they would totally protest, if they had the energy.
— Alabama apparently hired the offensive coordinator from Virginia ... as a GA. You figure it out.
— Among the outstanding blogs finding creative ways to keep people entertained during the offseason and making me feel like a slacker for NOT doing so: BSR. Here's the latest in their outstanding series of signee profiles: AJ McCarron.
— Finally, RBR has the world's unhealthiest sandwich. Well-done, gentlemen.

— UPDATE: Two good columnists I left out: Cecil dissects the NCAA situation (expletive deleted) and Scarbo looks at Auburn's NCAA chances through LSU's eyes.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I promised I wouldn't say one more word about Alabama basketball

But I had no idea this was going to happen.

Yeah. I'd say that's the most memorable moment of the season.

UPDATE: The video's up now on youtube. Kudos to Chris Stewart for somehow nailing the call despite what had to be a bit of ... well, insanity.

Friday, March 6, 2009

book-ending your week with links

About last night's panicky post: slept on it. Feel a little better. And it's probably never a good idea to freak out about something that appears to be nothing. Also, I watched this video and felt better.

Anyway, some links to close out the first week of March ...
-- Gentry Estes has a look at Alabama's potential punishment for this, even though -- as we've all learned -- there's no reason to think the NCAA will do anything rational or fair, particularly where it concerns Alabama.
Assuming he's absolutely correct -- that 'Bama will receive what amounts to "double secret probation" in this case -- there's one rather large concern: in today's cutthroat, high-dollar recruiting world ... it's probably not good to be going to war with one hand tied behind your back. Then again, we do have Nick Saban.
-- While we're on the subject of recruiting devices, this week the rumors about ESPN televising A-Day were confirmed. Obviously, we all have our own anger to direct towards Bristol, but it's never a bad thing when your program gets that kind of exposure.
Of course, every time the subject of A-Day comes up, I usually turn into Allen Iverson.

-- One more link that's sort of related to football: Nick Saban says he won't be involved in search for new basketball coach. If it seems somewhat odd that he would even be posed that question in the first place, consider his salary (still the state's highest-paid employee) and the amount of power he wields (detailed famously by Forbes).
-- While we're on the subject of basketball, Mr. SEC has the story on the conference's terrible RPI. That isn't good news for Auburn, detailed here by Jerry at The JCCW.
[F]rankly, now that the talk has hit the kind of pitch that guys like Goldberg feel the need to get guys like Palm on the line, the talk bugs me. If the players are reading the chatter (and you know they are ... wouldn't you?), it's possible they'll get suckered into thinking--even if only in the very, very back of their minds--that it could happen. It can't. They've got to know that there's no hope past the automatic bid. They have to win Tampa. They have to win those three games. They have to focus on those games and those games alone--a win against LSU would be nice, but it wouldn't mean a thing other than NIT seeding. There is no other option. Auburn's good, but if their desperation loses even the slightest bit of its edge, they will not win three straight games against the kind of competition they're going to face in Tampa.
-- One more basketball-related link: ESPN.com's True Hoop has done an outstanding series this week about NBA traveling, basically detailing that a) nobody knows the rule and b) that's understandable, because the rule itself is pretty ambiguous. Here, he argues the NBA should re-write it.

-- On the subject of excellence in crimson, Alabama's softball team has a big tournament coming up this weekend.

-- Finally, Dr. Saturday gives us Barack Obama's luggage. We've come a long way, baby.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

breathe in, breathe out

I spent most of the afternoon stuck in a county commission work session, the highlight of which was two yokels arguing about a $0.29 water bill. Read that last sentence again.
Anyway, after a gym trip and a Chick-Fil-A run, I finally checked on my google reader feed.
Apparently, this NCAA textbook story blew up at some point during that time -- with the words "major violations" and a possible "lack of institutional control" being bandied about.

First, the particulars: apparently the university met with NCAA investigators two weeks ago by the time you read this -- on Friday, Feb. 20, apparently stemming from the rather bizarre "Textbook 5" incident that occurred prior to the Tennessee game in 2007 (the 5 were suspended, if I recall correctly, until the week prior to the Auburn game).
The particulars are listed here at The Rap Sheet. It's a complex issue, that makes very little sense. OTS has the the skinny on Bama's response. His view of the situation is similar to mine.

I swear, this stuff is almost hard to believe. In the first case, these guys weren't even selling the books back, they were just giving them to friends, and as is my understanding were being charged for doing so (so no freebies were being given out to anyone). If anything, it seems like they were basically giving their books to friends and then paying back the university in return. And then the second "violation" seems to be more aligned with just a technical screw-up by the employees at the book store who just made some honest mistakes when bundling some of the textbooks and materials. Big whoop, a few guys got some test booklets they shouldn't have, or maybe some recommended reading for a class that was technically not required. Aside from the fact that the players received nothing that they really wanted in the first place -- I mean seriously, what kind of undergraduate football player wants the recommended reading for a class? -- they nevertheless paid the university back for every dime of it, in addition to all of the suspensions that they were given.
Perhaps I'm just being a stupid homer, but this is just hard to fathom how this can be considered a "major" infraction. Could you possibly get any more minor and nitpicky stuff than this? All I can say is that if the NCAA gives us a serious penalty over this junk, we all ought to go to Indianapolis and riot.

Like OTS, I can't believe this could possibly that big a problem. On the other hand, as someone who lived through the hateful time from 2000-2006, the mere notion of the NCAA sniffing around Alabama's campus makes me feel nauseous (and I'm not even kidding). It's like finding out your buddy who's been out of rehab for 6 months suddenly had a relapse -- anger, betrayal, sadness and pure, abject fear.
I know, I know. Probably nothing.
(I need to keep telling myself this.)

UPDATE: Rapaport finished reading the docs and just posted his interpretation in a nutshell.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

lost-blogging, March edition

In this blog's continuing quest to understand ABC's "Lost," we present to you another edition of "lost-blogging," a discombobulated minute-by-minute account of the episode at hand. As always, SPOILERS WILL OCCUR, SO STAY AWAY IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED IT YET.

Before we begin tonight's episode -- tentatively titled "" -- several questions to answer ...
-- When exactly are the survivors? And when are the Oceanic 6 who just came back?
-- When are the "new" survivors?
-- Who's involved in the war? And whose side is the right one to be on?
(All times CST.)
8:00 p.m.: Apparently, tonight's episode is going to focus on the survivors left behind, and what's been going on with them. What's the story with them and their time-travel sickness?
Remember, according to the doofus running this blogger, the theme of the show: "Live Together, Die Alone."
8:02 p.m.: Back to the time in which the statue with the 4 toes was a fully-developed idol. Although we didn't stay there long enough to see exactly WHAT it was, because Locke moved the Island again.
8:03 p.m.: Apparently Locke cured everyone's time-travel sickness. Has Juliet flashed into the movie "Gia?"
8:04 p.m.: What's the significance of 3s? The producers of this show seem to really dig that number, and its exponents.
8:05 p.m.: Another piece of the puzzle becomes clearer -- the polar bears.
8:06 p.m.: Bet a dollar Sawyer answers the door.
8:06 p.m.: I win.
(creepy intro)
8:11 p.m.: Hey, it's Michelle Dessler! Tony Almeida will want to hear about this.
8:12 p.m.: Sawyer wins the prize for "Jimmy Buffett" reference. Coconut Telegraph. Nice.
8:13 p.m.: Question raised by Kurt Branch: what if Daniel Faraday has four toes? Just a thought.
8:16 p.m.: Faraday as philosopher, "It doesn't matter what we do." Not how much more fatalistic the remaining survivors appear to be growing -- what happens, happens, etc.
8:17 p.m.: Racking my brain to come up with the significance of the pregnant woman whose life Sawyer & Juliet apparently saved. Can't. Did enjoy Juliet's momentary display as a cold-blooded killer.
8:21 p.m.: Is the dead DHARMA guy the ghost Locke met last season? He sure looks like him.
8:22 p.m.: Michelle Dessler just said something about a truce before saying something about "having to bring him back."
8:23 p.m.: Sawyer is a professional con man.
8:25 p.m.: A breach baby! Exciting moment for breach babies everywhere. This means they'll have to call on Juliet.
8:26 p.m.: Pop quiz: Juliet is either a) Aunt Jemima, or b) a van mechanic.
8:27 p.m.: At some point, Michelle Dessler decided these folks were trustworthy. And she certainly seems to know their entire story.
And now Jin speaks English? Awesome.
8:28 p.m.: Sawyer says "as long as it takes" again. And Juliet delivers. I mean that literally.
[Commercial thought: few things are more fun than watching Nic Cage over-act in a movie trailer. He's the best, isn't he?]
8:32 p.m.: Apparently we're back to "three years earlier."
8:33 p.m.: Sawyer is back to doing what he's good at: lying like a rug. And he just referenced the "Black Rock."
8:34 p.m.: My HD ABC channel just went out. Grrrr.
8:35 p.m.: The metaphor of the record just came up again. And Faraday is watching Charlotte as a baby. Agonizing.
8:36 p.m.: It's Richard!
8:42 p.m.: The word "truce" just came up again. And now we know that the long-haired guy is named Goodspeed.
8:43 p.m.: Whatever Sawyer is about to say to Richard isn't going to work. Just thinking out loud.
8:46 p.m. : Exactly what the terms are of this "truce?" And dude ... you probably don't want to suffer the consequences. Just saying. It may involve a smoke monster.
8:47 p.m.: Have I seen that cross before?
8:48 p.m.: Something tells me Sawyer & Juliet are going to hook up at some point in these three years. Which, as I've said before, won't please Angelina Jolie.
8:50 p.m.: Do you prefer your Sawyer scruffy or washed? I say scruffy. I'm willing to give a little, though.
8:51 p.m.: All sorts of problems will eventually be caused by this Sawyer-Juliet relationship.
[Thought unrelated to the show: I heard that song "Bad Girlfriend" on the radio today -- very good hook, but probably not a song you'd want to walk around singing to yourself.]
8:56 p.m.: Interesting circularity with the conversation: "How's your head? ... It hurts." Also, we now know that Amy (Michelle) and Goodspeed are married.
8:58 p.m.: Salient question posed by Goodspeed: is three years long enough to get over someone? ... Sawyer utters famous last words in response. I think we all know what's about to happen here.
9:00 p.m.: Yep.
9:01 p.m.: Bet Sawyer remembers what she looked like now.
(and that's that, although ABC reminds us we're going back to the '70s for a new "Life on Mars.")

about last night ...

Here's a fun game to play anytime the ODK trophy is being presented: count the number of empty seats you see once that ceremony is finished. In the case of last night's game -- on a Tuesday night, with a basketball team that isn't going anywhere unless the boosters buy the roster a ticket block -- the answer was "a lot," possibly more than half.
As it turns out, that mentality carried over to the teams -- Auburn rallied after halftime for a "dramatic" 77-73 victory.
I don't want to dwell on the game itself too long, because obviously that would take the focus off the main event for the evening, which was this:

A few thoughts in the aftermath -- and this will likely be the last post about 'Bama basketball until the new coach is hired:
-- It's beyond frustrating to watch this Alabama team play. Blessed with athletic ability in excess on both ends of the floor, they seem developmentally challenged in terms of basketball acumen. No player exemplifies this better than Alonzo Gee, a senior who hasn't gotten one iota better as a basketball player in four years. After four years in Tuscaloosa -- and it feels like he's been there a decade -- 'Zo still takes the same ill-advised shots, still doesn't rebound 50 percent of the time, still only defends when he feels like it (and that sentence describes the whole roster). Thank God he's graduating this year -- if he hung around one more season, I might have attacked him, Nature Boy-style.

-- Bama Hoops discussed this somewhat today, but it can't be overstated how badly Jeff Lebo thumped Phillip Pearson in the second half last night. Lebo figured out he could go small against 'Bama and force one of Alabama's big men (slow, lazy and poorly-coached) to guard on the perimeter; Lebo kept switching defenses at every dead ball, preventing 'Bama from ever developing an offensive comfort zone. Alabama responded by briefly switching to a zone when the game got close, enabling Auburn to get two wide-open looks at 3, and failing to pound the ball inside to JaMychal Green, despite a mismatch in the post similar to a DB vs. Andre Smith; and, of course, the Tide failed to foul down the stretch, a tactic which might have extended the game for at least a few more posessions.
Good Lord.
-- Speaking of Green, if he spends the summer learning how to be a basketball player and getting something resembling coaching ... he could potentially be a beast in 2010.
-- Finally, there's been much discussion about whether people in the state of Alabama -- 'Bama fans and Auburn fans -- really care that much about basketball (by extension, sports other than football). And the answer is "yes," but ... not really. To wit: the last time Alabama lost to Auburn in football, I was genuinely bummed out for a day or two before pulling myself together.
Last night? I fumed for a minute or two, then shrugged my shoulders and went to bed.

And with that, we move on. Today is a "Lost" day, so look for more of that later on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

God help us all

"i'm not sure that reason can be attributed to any part of that decision."

That's what my friend Peter thinks about my agreeing to live-chat tonight at warblogle.com. Is it a stupid idea, one that could end with someone driving to someone else's house to fire shots (a la SW Alabama)?
At the very least, however, it gives me the excuse to do this:

Come by if you can, and save me.

Tuesday 'tube: from a place not far from here

Today's "Will's-too-busy-to-blog-a-lot" video comes from an Iron Bowl that makes very little sense now: 1991.
It wasn't a particularly entertaining game from an aesthetic viewpoint. Its significance is twofold: a) the game was part of a win streak for 'Bama that stretched from the middle of 1991 until late 1993; b) it was Auburn's last home game ever at Legion Field (your eyes are not deceiving you -- those are AU logos, and that is Legion Field ... weird, I know). Two years later, the series ceased being the Iron Bowl for good when Auburn's home game moved to campus forever.

While we're here, a few other notable things about the game:
  • Note Matt Wellington kicking FGs for Alabama in this one -- Wellington fell into a one-year window between Philip Doyle (arguably the best kicker Alabama ever had, and that's saying something) and Michael Proctor (held the job basically from the day he stepped on campus). In a related story, Alabama had a terrible time with placekicking in 1991. 1A high schools have been better at it.
  • History has forgotten just how good David Palmer was at Alabama. Just seeing how much Auburn's defense -- a superior defensive team, whatever else was going on at the time -- respects him says something.
  • At the tail end of the vid, you can hear Mike Gottfried and Ron Franklin make reference to the Eric Ramsey Saga, a truly bizarre set of circumstances that ultimately led to Pat Dye's downfall on the Plains. The story of the tapes started to surface during the '91 season, and didn't fully come to a head until Thanksgiving '92, when Dye resigned (the night before the 'Bama game) and AU got walloped by the NCAA.
Speaking of Auburn, if you didn't already know, tonight the trophy comes back to Tuscaloosa for the first time in seven years, complete with the somewhat sophomoric tradition of the visiting SGA president singing the home team's fight song.
Roll Tide Roll.

Monday, March 2, 2009

a slushy Monday morning ...

One thought from the weekend, that has nothing to do with the snow: I was able to talk The Redhead into going down to the BJCC with me Saturday afternoon — "We'll watch Vestavia in the state championship game!" — for the 6A basketball championship. At the time, I didn't realize what I was about to see. And if you haven't seen it, I suggest you take a look.
It's not often you stumble into something like that — a solid collegiate recruit playing on the state's biggest stage ... and actually coming through every time. There was one key sequence — noted in Beaudry's game story — when Bob Jones held a one-point lead and the momentum early in the fourth, with 44 appearing to have lost some steam (he hadn't touched the ball in at least two possessions). Having already texted my buddy Zach to the effect of, "TURN ON THE 6A FINAL AND WATCH 44 IN RED," I actually said to my wife, "They've gotta get it to 44 — this is his game, he's the man."
The words had barely left my mouth before the kid knocked down a tough step-back jumper to re-take the lead, then followed that with another ridiculous 3 as the Vestavia kids — who may have just figured out two weeks ago that the school even HAD a basketball team — went bonkers.
It was a remarkable sequence, and I'm not even sure "remarkable" is a strong enough word. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, really.

On then, with the links.
— Ray Melick, on scene in Birmingham, discusses the failure of AU & UA to keep good in-state recruits ... um, in-state. Good points, all.
— It was a good week for Alabama sports, as Gentry Estes recounts. Bonus points for the cool snow pic outside BDS (he stole it from RBR, but still).
— Speaking of that good, Tower of Bammer has a fantastic perspective on how long it's actually been since Alabama won an SEC road game. Wow.
— While we're here, a weird factoid from the world of SEC hoop: in the last 9 meetings, Tennessee is 8-1 vs. Florida. No kidding. And that includes the two national championship teams. What does this mean? Maybe nothing — Billy Donovan's two ring-winning teams clearly turned things on when it mattered. Of course, to Ghost it can only mean one thing: OMGUTOWNZFLALOLZ!!!!
— While we're on the subject of Florida, EDSBS presents us updated Fulmer Cup standings for 2009. Please, Alabama, stay away from the standings.
— Since it's Monday, your requisite link to Peter King. One question, Pedro: why were you hanging out at an agent's condo in Boston at midnight? Seriously.