Saturday, December 31, 2011

goodbye to 2011, and good riddance

Apologies for my absence the past few weeks (I'm assuming you care, and if you're reading, guessing you do). It's been a busy holiday season, and really, not much has happened that inspired me to blog here during that time frame.

In any case, I feel like we should give 2011 its just due before the new year happens and we can start talking about the BCS and our up-and-down basketball squad that might be good, only we're not sure how good just yet.
Frankly, 2011 was a lousy year. I'm not here to complain, really, about Auburn winning the national championship — maybe it wasn't the greatest moment of my life, but members of my family were really happy about it, and I can be happy for them (even if I'm grinding my teeth in the process).
But the Auburn-Alabama rivalry — specifically, its ongoing disintegration — is part of the thing that made this year so bad. Instead of celebrating, we let the lunatic fringe take over (on both sides). It was an embarrassing moment, and things didn't get much better.
We spent all offseason hearing about scandals, either related to agents or boosters or the head coach himself. I briefly contemplated fleeing to Indochina like Bruce Wayne after his parents died, but people don't really speak English there, and I probably wouldn't really get to meet Liam Neeson. Basketball season provided some distraction, but it ultimately left us cold and we lost in the NIT final, anyway. Maybe we laid the foundation for something special. Maybe it was a flash in the pan. Whatever — it wasn't enough to make us forget the giant black cloud around our favorite sport.

And, of course, there was the weather. When you think about the year 2011, the first and last thing I'll think about is April 27. The recovery is now 8 months old, but no amount of rebuilt structures will replace the lives we lost, or fix the way everyone around here jumps when they hear the words "severe" and "weather" on TV or the radio. I can't drive through Tuscaloosa anymore without choking up at least once, and Shoal Creek Valley right here at home will never be the same, either. It's pretty much hung over everything else that's happened since.
There were other tears, of course. My wife lost the horse and the dog she's owned since she was in middle school, and all year we dealt with my granddad's cancer (he died the day before Thanksgiving). And there was the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, just for good measure.
I sort of thought the actual start of football season would be a bit of a balm for everybody. It was not. Much as I've enjoyed this excellent and mostly unremarkable Alabama team — and further, much as I've enjoyed the trips to Pennsylvania and Florida — it's been a pretty dull season, aside from the conference realignment sideshow, which is seemingly never-ending. Even the team's berth in the championship game has mostly been something that's required us to defend ourselves, rather than celebrate. And if football season isn't fun, then what's the point, right?

Not that it's been all bad, obviously. The famous Redhead did finish her grad school program and got a job — strangely, so did I, though the high-paying job has yet to materialize — and my brother has moved to Panama City, where he's working as a youth minister. Dad enjoyed a year as a retired person.
On the football side, we did thump Tennessee and Auburn, and had yet another bonafide Heisman finalist in Trent Richardson. And we're in line to win at least a share of a championship, no matter how ridiculous.

Nevertheless, I'm not longing for 2011 to hang around forever. Here's to better times in 2012. Even if it's the end of times.

As a programming note, my resolution is to get up earlier and work harder this coming year. Meaning it's time to get back to regular blogging. Starting next week. Roll Tide.

Friday, December 9, 2011

anticipating the BCS: a crowd-sourcing exercise

Editor's Note: In an attempt to maintain this blog's profile without actually trying very hard, I sent an email to various friends and family members asking for their thoughts about the current BCS situation, and how they would care to change it. A handful of them — an Auburn fan, two of my college and friends and my brother — responded, and those responses are included below. Please note, 3 of the 4 respondents in this exercise are "ministers." Should tell you something about my friend group.
me: Way too many thoughts swirling around in my head right now: Happy though I am to see my team playing for a national championship, a part of me knows a) It would be something of a crime if anyone other than LSU claims a national title this season; b) There's at least the possibility someone was more worthy of getting a shot at LSU than we are.
(As an aside, there's a part of me that derives enjoyment out of watching these teams crawl back into the MNC picture by doing absolutely nothing. If the kid from Oregon makes the field goal vs. USC, the Ducks are the team that pleads the loudest about getting left out, and everybody completely forgets about Okie State. But since that didn't happen, the Cowboys are being jobbed. Whatever.)
Pretend you have carte blanche from every college football president to remake the postseason in your image, irrespective of money or tradition. 4 teams? 8 teams? 16 teams? Leave it the way it is?
Jamie: The best thing to me about college football is that it was always a 20-40 team/14 week playoff. Bama fans were glued to the tube on an obscure Friday night watching OK St vs Iowa St for crying out loud. In 2004 I watched every play of at least 4 USC and Oklahoma games for obvious reasons. It makes every game count. 
That said, I do think there needs to be something done. Here goes: 
No more BCS formulas. Computers can't watch football, and most coaches have their secretaries vote anyway. Have 20-30 representatives from each section of the country (SE, NE, MW, SW, W) and form a committee to vote, only after the reg season ends much like NCAA BB. That would mean all reg season games must end on the same Saturday. 
I would like to consider a rule where you cannot vote for anyone on your own region. Reduces the potential for biased voting. Not sure if that would work, but just a thought. 
Two weeks after conference championship games, play your semifinal games. #1 hosts #4 and #2 hosts #3. This would keep teams somewhat sharp until the title game. Nothing like seeing the 2 best teams in the nation flat because they haven't played in 6 weeks. Rotate the title game venues just like they do now, and have the winners play for it all. 
The one issue is the teams who play in championship games vs ones who do not. One thing you could consider, is IF a team participating in conference championship games goes into the game ranked in the top 4 after the reg season, they are locked in win or lose. That could take some luster out of the conference championship games, so I doubt that would fly, but you said irrespective of money or tradition.  That's what I have.

Peter: I'm fine with things the way they are.  There's always going to be whining, and the BCS is as good of a way as any to mix human subjectivity and mathematical "objectivity" (which is total BS - the computers are programmed subjectively valuing certain measures more than others). 

Bart: Postseason in my image? Four teams enter thunder dome. One team leaves. Based on a better, more refined flawed system, the top four teams are identified. One verses four in the Sugar. Two verses three in the Orange. Fiesta gets their pick of any other teams for a meaningless, money-based matchup. Winner of Sugar and Orange play each other in the Rose Bowl. The BCS matchups rotate each year, moving the big games around. And since it is in my image, foreigners are ineligible to perform at halftime. 

Whit: I like the idea of taking the final 8 teams in the BCS and using the Saturdays in December to play the games and finish the season at the same time as they do now. I realize that you could ask "Why 8?" or "Why not 16?" To be quite honest, I think any more than 8 would draw out the season further than its term is right now which would ruffle a lot of feathers in the recruiting process and what not.  
What about the idea that LSU should win the AP national title no matter what happens in New Orleans? Agree? Disagree?
(Note: We will NOT accept "Gary Danielson should swallow a gallon lighter fluid" as an answer.)
Bart: Unless I missed something, we no longer have troops on the ground in Vietnam, butterfly collars are out and thus, we decide the national championship AFTER the consensus two top teams play at the end of the year.

Whit: LSU should be crowned the winner if and only if they beat Alabama in the NC. period. 

Peter: Winner of the game in New Orleans should be National Champions.  Period.  If the winners of the different divisions of the SEC have played already and meet again in the SEC championship game, the winner is the league champion.  We've gotten used to somebody who wasn't all that great in the regular season being NCAA Basketball champions because they "got hot at the right time," they were good when it matters.  Whoever wins — Alabama or LSU — will be good when it matters, and should be national champions.  And Gary Danielson should be muzzled when calling an SEC championship game and ranting about how the SEC shouldn't have two teams playing in the BCS championship game.

Jamie: If Bama wins a close game then yeah, split the thing. It's only fair. If Bama rolls up LSU, it's their title. I don't remember trying to convince everyone for the last 15 years that FSU deserves a share of the '96 title.  
Suppose we (Alabama, for the non-Tide fans on this) win in New Orleans. How do we feel next year when Tony Giles inevitably says "... 14 national championships!!!" over the PA? I feel like I'll be slightly self-conscious, don't you?
Peter: Based on my previous arguments, I really wouldn't feel that awkward or self-conscious, cause we won in the system as it is.  First time it's played out like this, but just like with a one loss team who wins and the team they beat always being able to say "we beat the national champions!," early losses don't matter once you get into the championship game.
Also, anyone who would feel awkward can gladly donate their tickets to the "support a methodist minister UA graduate" fund.

Bart: I've installed special panels on my roof that catch hate and envy waves. When "fourteen national championships!" is exclaimed, I expect to receive energy to power my house for the next year. And I do believe my heart will be warmed as well. The Chicago Cubs are beloved. I prefer to be hated like the New York Yankees.
(Note: I am confused by the host of this blog's Crimson-guilt posture.)

Jamie: Not to sound like a smart ass, but if you don't already feel a little self conscious about 13 national championships, then you shouldn't for 14 either.

Whit: I'll just smile and record it for all of my Auburn friends.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

postseason thoughts: doing it all again

I read somewhere once that boxing experts are fond of saying that "styles make fights." Meaning, of course, that not every fight is entertaining to watch, because certain fighters don't complement one another, stylistically. This is something that manifests itself often in basketball: throw together two teams that are superior defensively — like, say, the San Antonio-Detroit NBA Finals in 2005 — and it's just not all that compelling to watch. That's just the way it is.

Ultimately, I think this is why there is so much public outcry over an Alabama-LSU rematch: beyond the ongoing absurdity that is the BCS, it's just tough to sell a game like that to the general populace. It's basically the same two teams — two great defenses, hard-hitting, physical offenses that don't make many mistakes, two teams that basically grind away their opponent's will to resist them over the course of four quarters. When you put two teams that basically do the same things like Alabama and LSU, they constantly get in one another's way, the score drops like a rock and people who aren't diehard football fans — that means me, and (I hope) you — start changing the channel. Nothing can really help that.

This doesn't absolve the BCS, an annually embarrassing system that we're all forced to live with, like a drunk cousin who crashes Christmas dinner every year and makes us feel uncomfortable (only nobody can tell him to leave because he's our lawyer or something). It's patently ridiculous that we all had to crowd around our television sets Sunday like we were waiting on election returns, waiting to see if we'd carried enough votes to have a national championship shot. I'm happy we're in, but being a part of this annual absurdity makes me feel like a shower.

Some other thoughts ...
— I hate typing this because it makes me sound like I don't want to win the game, but the shame of this postseason is that it may take away from the 2011 LSU season, which may be the best season in SEC history. To reach this point, LSU beat Oregon (Pac-12 champs) at a neutral site, West Virginia (Big East champs) on the road, No. 2 Alabama on the road, then wrapped the season by whipping No. 3 Arkansas and SEC East champ Georgia (also a neutral site and a de facto road game).  Other than Bama, the closest anyone came to beating them was Mississippi State (19-6). And they've done all this without one player on offense who would be considered terribly memorable — a bunch of very good players, yes, but no one horse like Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon. Just a well-coached group of guys who take care of business every night.
(And by the way, I hate LSU. Their fans and the constant media fawning over the completely insane Les Miles makes me sick on a weekly basis. So it's painful for me to type this. But they're great. There's nothing I can say that will minimize it.)
— The biggest wild card every year with this game (and one of the biggest parts of the absurdity): the 6-week layoff. Last year, Auburn and Oregon spent most of the night looking like 2 teams playing pickup flag football — it's a testament to both squads that they were able to pull it together by the 4th quarter. Combine the inevitable rust with the thousands of hours of defensive practice and you're almost guaranteed to see another game like the 9-6 bruiser in Tuscaloosa. Sorry, guys.
— One group that is definitely not upset about Alabama and LSU in the big game: New Orleans. In fact, they're probably already counting their cash, just to save time.
— Nick Saban drew a lot of criticism — of course he did — for voting Oklahoma State fourth in his ballot for the USA Today poll. Interestingly, Deadspin criticized him yesterday ... for not being selfish enough.
Push a little, and every aspect of conventional balloting logic begins to wobble a little. Let's go back to Saban: As you know, he ranked his team behind LSU. In other words, he stated that he believed LSU was the best team in the country and that Alabama was not—yet he maintains Alabama ought to have the opportunity to show they are better than LSU. If he thinks his team will beat LSU, then he must believe his team is better than LSU—but his ballot suggests otherwise. If a coach doesn't think his team will win, why are they even allowed to play? And what will Saban say if the Crimson Tide win the championship? "I guess we're better than I thought we were"?
— As an aside, how angry must Boise be that they're not part of this mess? Boise's game plan every year is exactly the same: Win a couple big games early; dominate the conference; hope for chaos. So this year the Broncos handle the first part, get the 3rd part as a gift ... and get tripped up at home in conference play. Unbelievable. If ever there was a year for an undefeated Boise to get a shot, this would be it. But no dice.

— Finally, since I spend so much time complaining about what I dislike about this whole thing, allow me to say something positive: This Alabama team has been, frankly, outstanding in 2011. Even if this year's schedule didn't turn out to be terribly imposing — the best win we claimed all year was vs. Arkansas, way back in September — this Crimson Tide team was a special kind of dominant all year, and deserves to be appreciated for it. Digging a little deeper, this level of success is one that hasn't been seen in Tuscaloosa since the 1970s: four straight seasons with double-digit wins, consistent ranking in the top-10 (most of that in the top-5), an SEC Championship, a possibility at a second national title. I'd say that's pretty successful.
So don't pay attention to jerks like me, boys. Go get 'em one more round. Roll Tide.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday tube: we've got history

Strange times to be an Alabama fan — or, really, a fan of college football in general. Not only do we get a rematch of a regular season game against a division rival for the championship ... the game is in New Orleans, a traditional bowl destination for both fan bases (note: that sound you heard was the New Orleans business establishment shouting in jubilation). Lots of different angles to approach this game, and I'm sure we'll hear about all of them in the next 6 weeks or so. For now, enjoy Alabama's last great triumph in the Superdome. It needs no further explanation.

Monday, December 5, 2011

gameday texts: championship week edition

Planning to have a few thoughts up later about the ongoing nightmare that is the BCS. For now, enjoy some of the text messages that kept me entertained through "Championship Weekend." As always, some language is less than savory and may possibly be offensive. You've been warned.

Whit (9:34 a.m.) Herbstreit laughs like a small girl

Halcombe (10:03 a.m.) If your name was Dabo would you embrace it? Or would you get to the courthouse by 9 a.m. Monday and switch it to Derek or Dave?
me (10:45 a.m.) His actual given name is William Christopher. The name "Dabo" apparently comes from his brother, who was attempting to say "That boy."
Halcombe (11:06 a.m.) We call our youngest Cub because he had chubby cheeks when born. I sincerely hope when he's making six figures people will say "Simon."

Halcombe (11:10 a.m.) ESPN had a "What's at stake" infographic for Cincy-Conn. game. Answer: Some crappy matchup in the Sugar or Orange Bowl.

Rob (11:49 a.m.) Atlanta smells like corn dogs
me (11:50 a.m.) What does it normally smell like?
Rob (11:50 a.m.) Ludacris

me (1:35 p.m.) Sirius' idea to kill 3 hours at Ga Dome: Have Finebaum troll UGA fans by asking them if they really want to win today (since it means they'll keep Richt).
Rob (1:36 p.m.) Uga fans are fickle they think richt is the second coming again
Rob (1:37p.m.) Considering they didn't play the big three they won't be so happy next year

me (2:14 p.m.) As a UAB alum, I do not approve of USM's performance today. Could've used that BCS payout in C-USA.
Rob (2:15 p.m.) Yeah case Houston would have been embarrassed in a bcs game
Jamie (2:16 p.m.) Too much money and uab will be just be ub.
Halcombe (2:18 p.m.) It figures something associated with Brett Favre would screw up an otherwise good BCS storyline.

Halcombe (3:04 p.m.) They should have flown the cast of Swamp People into Atlanta and sat them beside the cast of Wives of Atlanta. Imagine those cutaways? Back to you, Verne.

Whit (3:14 p.m.) Is it weird that I hope jordan jefferson gets hurt?
Whit (3:15 p.m.) Make me a terrible person?

Halcombe (3:57 p.m.) If UGA wins I may just take you up on the job offer in ALA. No one will be able to put up with UGA fans if they win. "Yeah, we should be in the BCS title game."
me (4:07 p.m.) Don't sweat it just yet. Remember Arkansas was up 14-0 last week.
Halcombe (4:11 p.m.) Whew! I'm almost done with our 15-year fixed refi and wasn't in the mood to list the house. I got 3.5 percent! What were we talking about?

me (4:28 p.m.) Verne thinks every handoff is a draw play.
me (4:31 p.m.) I counted 5 knockout shots on that return.
Whit (4:32 p.m.) Two uga players hit in back on that return. and yeah, they're hitting hard
Jonathan Page (4:33 p.m.) Yeah, are we sure Mathieu didn't flip the ball into the end zone before hitting the plane?

me (4:37 p.m.) Verne: "I looked up Honey Badger." Translation: "I had our interns look it up."
Rob (4:38 p.m.) I learned how to use the interweb
Whit (4:38 p.m.) Wikipedia, verne? You're better than that
Jonathan Page (4:38 p.m.) And now Wikipedia had a CBS citation

me (4:48 p.m.) Stand by for killer UGA turnover.
Whit (4:48 p.m.) Ohhhhhh yeah it's coming
Jonathan Page (4:50 p.m.) I knew it!!
Halcombe (4:50 p.m.) Conspiracy theorists commence "They want LSU to win" blogging following Mathieu TD toss in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Jamie (5:01 p.m.) What was the line on the tuition toss?
Halcombe (5:01 p.m.) I have no suitable joke for the Dr. Pepper contest. The wife said she's pulling for the Pre-Nursing student who's playing it like a FT contest.

Halcombe (5:26 p.m.) The back of Verne's hair reminds me of the dude who "chose poorly" in Indy and the Last Crusade.

Halcombe (5:28 p.m.) Little ahead of yourself on that heartbreak turnover ... but good call nonetheless.

Whit (5:30 p.m.) Draw play?
me (5:30 p.m.) A counter-trap. Not a draw. You dick.
Jamie (5:31 p.m.) At least they weren't running from the shotgun aka spread.

Jonathan Page (5:31 p.m.) "we didn't have this footage of Mathieu flipping the ball til later" just say it Gary, we f---ed up


me (5:41 p.m.) "This guy deserves to be in the Heisman race!" — Every a-hole with a microphone

me (5:53 p.m.) Let us all think back fondly to last year's SECCG, when Tracy Wolfson decided to sample "Cammy Cam Juice."
Whit (5:54 p.m.) Yeah. Good times. Roll tide
Rob (5:54 p.m.) Haha yeah she did!! I think she is pregnant now
Jamie (5:54 p.m.) I'd be willing to bet she wasn't the only female who gargled cammy cam juice last year.

Maguire (5:47 p.m.) I just finished changing the glow plugs in the Suburban. Is there a football game on?

Dad (5:47 p.m.) Tell Ga nice try ... maybe next year.

Jonathan Page (5:52 p.m.) Just accused a guy of being a fair-weather fan after pronouncing #7's name as ma-thay-u. He turned into a 10 yr old girl fast.

me (5:59 p.m.) Nobody in college football makes a better "What the fck was that?" face than Aaron Murray.
Halcombe (6:12 p.m.) Murray cupping hands to signal a "back to the womb" approach for the remaining 18:06.

me (6:16 p.m.) Game has played out like an old-school wrestling match. With UGA playing the role of jobber.

Jonathan Page (6:24 p.m.) Verne, Gary ... Pay attention to the damn field, that's how you tell the difference between a horse collar and a face mask

me (6:30 p.m.) Yes, Gary, Mark Richt did a great job beating 10 teams that weren't worth a damn. Inspiring.

Travis P (6:33 p.m.) Hey Gary. Fuxk you — Celo green

Jamie (6:35 p.m.) My sports book had lsu alabama already on the board at noon today. What does that tell you?

Pedro (6:47 p.m.) Nice draw play

Jamie (6:57 p.m.) these guys have done this to every team except 1. No other way to have it than what it will be. One of the best teams in the bcs era will not win the title this year.

Jamie (7:42 p.m.) Justin Blackmon says "f the knee pads"

Halcombe (8:00 p.m.) The wife asked what the VT bird
a) is? and
b) called?
I don't have the answer.
me (8:17 p.m.) You won't believe me, but the answer to both questions is "Fighting Gobbler."

Rob (8:05 p.m.) The Clemson tiger looks like it is on meth

Sunday, November 27, 2011

week 14 thoughts: if we're going to play, we might as well win

Since this season began, it has been the strangest I can ever remember.

I don't really mean on the field, necessarily. The action on the field — until last weekend, anyway — had been relatively formulaic. It's been a weird season for me personally, for my family and for Alabama in general. The season started really before I was ready for it, without us in the building or even in town for the first time since 2008. There were two road trips, a home game, some tailgating ... but mostly, we were somewhat separated from the action this fall. It was different, but not necessarily a bad thing. 
One of the reasons for the difficulty, though, was my grandfather's ongoing battle — and he battled it all the way — with cancer, which began in one place and just kept spreading (as cancer will, I suppose). The weekend of North Texas, we were at his house, taking in a day of football and attempting to make the moments last forever. The day after the heartbreaker vs. LSU, we were at his bedside again, as he struggled to keep his eyes open and his mind in one place (all the while wondering why Alabama's kicking game could do no better). 
He died very early Wednesday morning. 
And so Thanksgiving Weekend — and the Auburn game that caps it — was even more a family affair than usual. We all missed most of Arkansas-LSU receiving visitors at the funeral home; nobody saw ESPN's College Gameday, because we were at the graveside service. 
By the time we sat down to actually watch the game, there were myself, my wife, my mom (an Auburn fan whose family has owned season tickets for almost as long as there's been such things), my dad and his sister — all of whom have spent the last month caring for their dad, alternately laughing and crying — and it seemed somewhat strange that anyone was even playing a game. Only a year ago, I remember walking out of Bryant-Denny Stadium a shivering, angry person; on Saturday, the first time since 1997 an Auburn-Alabama game kicked off without me in the building somewhere, I was calmly sitting on a couch and wondering how anyone could care so much. "The rest of the world kept going this week?" I thought. "I'm somewhat surprised."
Dad said he felt the same way. 
"If we're gonna play, though, we need to win," he said. 
And so it was.

In a way, the aftermath of Saturday's 42-14 win at Auburn has been an indicator of the entire season for Alabama: nobody's talking about the result, so much as whether Alabama deserves a BCS rematch with LSU (Cecil says yes, but then again, of course he does).  If there was an enduring image from Saturday, it was Trent Richardson's 57-yard run in the fourth quarter to seal the deal, the one where he slapped away a defender like a boxer swatting at a gnat.
That summed up the game for Bama: For all the bluster about "Never again" and "four quarters" and all that noise, when it came down to it, Auburn was a team in Alabama's way in 2011. Just like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and the 12 other teams on the schedule that aren't LSU. The past two seasons, Auburn has appeared to be more prepared to play than Bama; there were things the Tigers did that Alabama seemed unprepared for. Not this time — the two best plays for Auburn all day were a pooch punt and a kickoff return.
On the one hand, Alabama was a much stronger team, so the end result didn't come as a huge surprise to anyone outside the state. At the same time, nobody goes to Auburn and whips the home team like that. I mean, not ever. Alabama fans have a right to take satisfaction in that result, no matter the records.
And that's a pretty good ending to the weirdest football season of my lifetime. I'm sure Granddad enjoyed it.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a column about Thanksgiving

Editor's note: I feel like I write this particular column every year around this time. So I apologize in advance. As always, feel free to comment here or find me on Twitter.
Thankful for these, and all our many, many blessings

I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here
Where I’m lost enough to let myself be led
And so You’ve been here all along I guess
It’s just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

Like most people, I grew up blessing every meal, in pretty much the same way.

My dad — and, I later found out, his dad — bless every meal with the same words almost every time. Some version of the following: “Gracious Heavenly Father, we’re so thankful for these and all our many, many blessings.”

Blessings, like all rituals, can become something of a repetitive pattern after a while. Repeat the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed enough times, and eventually you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

So it wasn’t until recently that those words — “we’re so thankful for these and all our many, many blessings” — really provoked much thought in me.

To be honest, ours isn’t a culture where being thankful is considered much of a virtue. The culture of never being satisfied — “staying hungry,” to put in the language of sports — and always moving upward doesn’t lend itself to counting blessings.

Still, I can’t remember a year when stopping and being thankful could be more necessary. The year started with icy blizzards, has featured long-running scandals, drought, wildfires and a debate over illegal immigration that seems to become dumber by the day. Even the one time of year that should be the most fun — football season — has been obscured by a scandal so sad and disturbing I don’t even like the idea of putting it in print.

In the midst of it all were the worst storms that ever hit this state, a killer track of tornadoes that turned the whole world upside down for all of us. When the sirens went off last week, it was like a terrifying memory flashing back. No storm siren will ever sound quite the same, after April 27.

To be honest, watching the news — and, truthfully, writing the news — isn’t the sort of thing that makes a person think about how blessed they are, or how thankful they should be.

And that’s probably why we need it so much. We need to be reminded of all the things about this world that are right. We need to sit still for just a few minutes, eat a little too much food, watch a few football games we don’t care about and share meaningless chit-chat about relatives who may or may not still be alive. We may even need to be moderately embarrassed by that one family member who talks too much and says goofy things at the dinner table (in our family, it’s me).

That’s one of the many reasons I can’t wait until we’re around the table so we can share in that blessing one more time. You never really know how many times you’ll get to hear it.

* Rich Mullins' "Hard to Get" is one my favorite songs ever, even though he only recorded it through a lousy tape recorder he probably bought at K-Mart or something.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday tube: so much on the line

None of my normal prattling about Auburn Week, at least not for now. Instead, here's something sort of odd to ponder: This will be the fourth Auburn game (beginning in 2008) with a direct impact on the national championship scene.
Since it's Tuesday, here are the 2 most fun of the previous 3.

Let's have some fun this Saturday. Roll Tide.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

gameday texts: chaos week edition

Welcome back to another edition of "Gameday Texts," an open thread that chronicled a roughly 28-hour period in which the world of college football basically went ham. As always, messages appear in this space exactly as they do on my phone, complete with timestamp. Also as always, be warned that some of the content here might be mildly offensive. But it's fun.

Whit (8:05 p.m.) Espn2!

me (9:13 p.m.) Clever move, Iowa State, trying to look like USC. Don't think it's working anymore.
Whit (9:13 p.m.) It's going to happen.

me (10:22 p.m.) I. Don't. Believe it.
Whit (10:22 p.m.) Shhhhhhhhh
Jonathan Page (10:23 p.m.) Seriously??

me (10:38 p.m.) Not so hard to at this point to figure out why ISU isn't any good. Gotten the game handed to them all night & keep handing it back.

Maguire (10:34 p.m.) Same way ISU missed it against us in Shreveport in '01.
Pedro (10:35 p.m.) That kicker up for a transfer?
Jonathan Page (10:43 p.m.) Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Rob (10:44 p.m.) Erin: yay can you imagine how excited those ugly cheerleaders are!

Travis P (10:50 p.m.) 2ot. Time for an OMG!!!!!
me (10:50 p.m.) No. Bleeping. Way.
Whit (10:50 p.m.) Shhhhhhhhh
me (10:51 p.m., Friday) "Gryffyndor wins!"
Maguire (10:51 p.m.) I know, right?!
Jonathan Page (10:51 p.m.) Yeah. That happened.
Maguire (10:51 p.m.) God, I love college football.

Rob (10:52 p.m.) So ur saying there's a chance
Jonathan Page (10:53 p.m.) That sound you here is the entire BCS committee selling their souls hoping this situation gets cleared up by Conf Championship weekend

Maguire (11:02 p.m.) Apparently ISU is "all in" as well. It's like an infection Rhoads brought with him.

Halcombe (7:46 a.m.) What I'd say if I were an SC anchor: The Barry Sandes, needing only one stop to stay unbeaten, retire unceremoniously to the Cotton Bowl.
Halcombe (8:44 a.m.) Watching a little "Miracle" to get the coaching juices flowing.  The other team will be shouting "Quit calling me a Soviet bastard. I'm telling."

Halcombe (9:03 a.m.) Please Big & Rich don't come to my city. IN fact, don't come within 90 feet of me. No. Seriously. I have a restraining order. Yep. The whole band.
me (9:05 a.m.) Your first Saturday facepalm comes courtesy of Lee & Kirk's stupid cowboy hats.
Whit (9:06 a.m.) Aw that's ok good try

me (9:26 a.m.) The Penn State guys may be tiring of Tom Rinaldi. Just sayin.
Halcombe (9:29 a.m.) Rinaldi: So Jay Paterno, did your dad have sex with Milk or his boyfriend/Spider Man bad boy in the late 70s SF gay rights movement? WTF?

Whit (9:28 a.m.) Just saw car with carolina cocks in big red letters across the back. Ugly girl inside.

me (10:12 a.m.) "Saturday Night in Death Valley" remains the most overrated thing in college football.
Pedro (10:18 a.m.) No, Joe Paterno's history of building character & integrity, making a difference in the world for the good, is the most overrated thing in college football
Jamie (10:51 a.m.) Last loss was 2002 to bama. That's a pretty good streak.

me (10:29 a.m.) The Gameday feature about Andre Ware neglected to mention how Houston deliberately ran it up on everybody that year b/c they were on probation, so Andre could win the Heisman. 
Rob (10:31 a.m.) They have done that this year.

me (11:30 a.m.) The "sports bar at 11:30" crowd is a little terrifying.

Maguire (11:34 a.m.) I just had a random thought. Ole Miss should hire a black head coach. Their alumni will have to be pacified by the return of Col. Reb. 
me (11:54 a.m.) Per Jack: He said something that sounded like, 'Fck it' & threw away his megaphone."

Maguire (12:06 p.m.) Just overheard a guy pointing to Reese Phifer Hall and telling his kid that he had a math class in there with Derrick Thomas.

me (12:33 p.m.) Some douche just came in & asked if a TV could be turned to "Rutgers-Cincinnati." I feel like fighting him on principle.
Rob (12:34 p.m.) He should have to sit in time out for that.
Halcombe (12:39 p.m.) Tell him water polo/lacrosse aren't televised ... or sports for that matter.
Courtesy Daniel Maguire

me (1:07 p.m.) Appears to be plenty of good seats available today.
Rob (1:08 p.m.) I'll bet I mailed it in
Maguire (1:14 p.m.) Far too many. Ungrateful students. 

Rob (1:17 p.m.) Um furman is beating uf
me (1:19 p.m.) Furman!!
Whit (1:25 p.m.) Furman? ... german???

me (1:20 p.m.) I have to say, it's fun to watch this offense, even though it drives me insane.
Maguire (1:21 p.m.) Yeah. It's sort of like us in the 70s.
me (1:52 p.m.) Insert the standard "Well, this offense is hard to prepare for" comment.

me (2:09 p.m.) Dre getting his skull bashed in.
Chad C (2:11 p.m.) He got his 6. Damn the rest.

Halcombe (2:28 p.m.) In 3:25, the collective Cock Nation will go "Son of a ... Mutha ..."

me (2:42 p.m.) How many more times can we fail on that kick before we stop trying?
Maguire (2:43 p.m.) I wish we'd just go for it. That's getting old.

me (2:52 p.m.) Stewart made a great point a minute ago: This game doesn't mean anything to GSU, practically. They already won their league & qualified for the playoffs.
Maguire (2:53 p.m.) True. They're playing for pride, though. I worry that we're looking ahead to next week.
Halcombe (3:05 p.m.) I'll take whatever I can get. Now we'll go play in our tournament while you wait out the BS ... uh ... BCS. Freudian slip.

me (3:11 p.m.) Good to see our kickoff coverage is remaining consistent.
Chad C (3:12 p.m.) If it wasn't for spcl teams, we would be unstoppable.
Maguire (3:12 p.m.) It has the consistency of shit. 

me (3:16 p.m.) Clock cannot run fast enough.
Maguire (3:17 p.m.) I'm conflicted between wanting it to run and get this over with, or slow down so we can score 21 more points.

me (3:36 p.m.) Gators came back valiantly vs. Paladins.

Travis P (3:38 p.m.) Dre still smoked
me (3:40 p.m.) Now seems like the right time to mention that 3 didn't even make it to 20 carries 2 weeks ago.
Travis P (3:42 p.m.) Still to early
Dad (3:51 p.m.) So Oregon looks good tonight and jumps to #2. How bout that?

Maguire (3:53 p.m.) I wish we would not play "Sweet Caroline" over the PA system like every-freaking-body else in the country. When did we become followers?

Maguire (4:04 p.m.) 10-1. Roll Tide.
Jonathan Page (4:20 p.m.) FB buddy Jeff Moore brings up a good point. "4 Straight 10 win seasons for the Tide. 5 years ago many of us were looking to trade our first born for that kind of run."

Whit (4:19 p.m.) #auburnweek #hateweek
me (4:34 p.m.) Now it's Auburn Week. God help us all.
Maguire (4:35 p.m.) Let the hate flow freely.
Rob (4:45 p.m.) Yep ready to head into enemy territory
Dad (4:54 p.m.) Amen brother

Halcombe (4:38 p.m.) No name ESPN Radio dude, you talking about ND and a BCS bowl right now is why you are a no name. 
Pedro (5:14 p.m.) Ohio State vs. Penn State — loser gets the NCAA investigators first

Jonathan Page (5:33 p.m.) Another FB observation: "So the Tide got a possible assist in the BCS by the Cyclones, irony anybody?" ... No, that's coincidence, shitty, shitty coincidence.
Jonathan Page (6:16 p.m.) In an Irish bar in downtown Denver. Without prompting they switched the feed to LSU/Ole Miss ... Now I'm drinking heavily. 

me (6:24 p.m.) I think I could watch the video of Corso dropping the f-bomb on live TV for hours on end. Fowler & Herbstreit's reactions are priceless. 

me (6:37 p.m.) Over/under: How many points COULD LSU score tonight, if it so desires?
Whit (6:37 p.m.) 78
Rob (6:40 p.m.) 74
Jonathan Page (6:46 p.m.) Hmmmm, I'm thinking low 50s
Jonathan Page (6:57 p.m.) A better over/under would been Ole Miss turnovers

me (7:35 p.m.) Ole Miss needs to ask for 8-minute quarters in the 2nd half.
Whit (7:35 p.m.) Running clock
me (7:35 p.m.) I know I used that one back when we played them. But it still applies.
Rob (7:36 p.m.) Just forfeit
Jamie (8:01 p.m.) Bad news for ole miss. They started the 2nd half.

Jamie (7:41 p.m.) I haven't been watching. How many times has herbie mentioned speed/tempo? 56?

me (7:46 p.m.) Vols just missed on a wheel route. On 3rd & 1. Vs. Vandy.
Jamie (7:47 p.m.) We would have run a reverse flea flicker wheel route on 3rd and 1
Halcombe (7:49 p.m.) Sounds like an episode of Young and the Restless with a sub: (Soft, low voice) Playing the role of Victor (Vandy) are the Vols. 

Whit (7:57 p.m.) Kinda intrigued about oklahoma baylor

Whit (8:02 p.m.) Referee in usc game — "holding. Offense number 55. bear hug. *imitates bear hug*

Jamie (8:04 p.m.) We know why tennessee couldn't catch the vandy db. They were apparently blocking during the run back.

me (9:02 p.m.) /sings USC fight song repeatedly
Rob (9:02 p.m.) And Baylor
Rob (9:03 p.m.) Just say rg 3 a lot

Maguire (9:07 p.m.) What would we do without Musberger?

me (9:09 p.m.) I find the nickname "Black Mamba" to be offensive.
Rob (9:10 p.m.) That's cause u were in a locker room in opelika
Whit (9:18 p.m.) That name belongs to kobe

Jamie (9:20 p.m.) I think all these teams got together and agreed that playing LSU is probably not a good idea.
me (9:27 p.m.) Dooley to assistant: "YOU CAN'T CHALLENGE IT! SHUT UP!"
Jamie (9:28 p.m.) If they blow it dead they can't call it a td right?
Jamie (9:31 p.m.) So the ref who blew the whistle just didn't say anything I guess.

Jonathan Page (9:30 p.m.) WTF PAC 12 special teams

Jamie (9:35 p.m.) How close is arkansas to playing for a national title?
Jamie (9:40 p.m.) Oregon lses, okl loses this week or next, ark beats lsu. Bama wins out does that put bama 1 ark 2? Who else?

Jamie (9:46 p.m.) I don't think brent knows what that annoying yellow line means

me (9:55 p.m.) Virginia!!!!

me (9:59 p.m.) An LB for UVA just broke his left leg in half. I cried. I'm still crying.
Jamie (10:01 p.m.) One of those "been there" moments?

me (10:07 p.m.) No idea what's happening in UVA-FSU right now.
me (10:14 p.m.) I have no words to describe what just happened.
Jonathan Page (10:15 p.m.) Yeah, I'm confused. Wasn't this game over 15 minutes ago?
Jamie (10:16 p.m.) And the crazyness has rolled over to oregon-usc

me (10:19 p.m.) TEXAS
Audra (10:20 p.m.) Sucks and we are close behind

me (10:20 p.m.) Dear Lane Kiffin, Fck yo couch.
Rob (10:20 p.m.) How lucky is chip Kelly
Maguire (10:21 p.m.) DIAF

me (10:26 p.m.) Les Miles thinks Oregon played it perfectly.
Jamie (10:26 p.m.) No chance this goes through
Whit (10:27 p.m.) of course they did. Do they have real grass in oregon?
Maguire (10:27 p.m.) Chip Kelley went to Les' off-season clinic.
me (10:28 p.m.) Miles says to fake it.
Maguire (10:28 p.m.) Shankopotamus!
Rob (10:28 p.m.) Suck it PAC douche
Jonathan Page (10:29 p.m.) And Oregon is out of the conversation

me (10:29 p.m.) Stacey: "He (Lane) just looks so ridiculous."
Jamie (10:31 p.m.) Barkley: "like totally rad game brah"

Jamie (10:30 p.m.) Ou about to go down as well.
Maguire (10:37 p.m.) Let's go, RGIII.
me (10:45 p.m.) These coaches are aware that they're allowed to call timeout, right?
Whit (10:46 p.m.) And right on time ...
Jamie (10:46 p.m.) Chip kelly thinks he starts next weeks game with 6
Maguire (10:46 p.m.) They also went to Les's clinic.

Maguire (10:48 p.m.) Time for OU's kicker to get foot AIDS.
Maguire (10:49 p.m.) It's been going around.
Maguire (10:52 p.m.) Guess the foot AIDS epidemic has been stymied.

Maguire (10:53 p.m.) Now time for a 51-second miracle drive.
me (10:53 p.m.) Itchy lineman took away the headline: "BOB STOOPS' BRASS BALLS"
Maguire (10:53 p.m.) Editors are either relieved or pissed.
Jonathan Page (10:57 p.m.) Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
me (10:58 p.m.) No. Effing. Way. Again.
Jonathan Page (10:58 p.m.) Why settle for a FG?
Jamie (10:59 p.m.) North goal post looks at south goal post with a look that says: be safe my friend, be safe.
Travis P (10:59 p.m.) Amazing. Not done yet.
Pedro (11:00 p.m.) If Robert Griffin III isn't a top 5 pick, somebody's high

Jonathan Page (11:00 p.m.) And the Sooners just quit
Maguire (11:01 p.m.) And insult aded to injury there on the kickoff.
Travis P (11:09 p.m.) The squib onside kick. Joy joy joy
Maguire (11:01 p.m.) God, I love this game.

me (11:03 p.m.) Just plant one on her, RGIII. You earned it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a newspaper column that never ran about Penn State

I finally got back on the horse with my newspaper column this week, but it never ran due to a lack of space. So it will appear on this blog exclusively, if only because I don't have a whole lot else to talk about this week. As always, feel free to complain about this either here or on Twitter.
Nothing left to do but cry

We spent almost two years thinking about ways to make the trip to see Alabama play Penn State this September.

We wanted to make the trip because we’re big fans of the program; because we knew the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime trip (one of the only places in the world that cares as much about college football as people in the South); and because we wanted to see Joe Paterno.

“It’s the last time we’ll ever see JoePa again,” one of my friends said, explaining why we should fork over the money to make trip. “Definitely worth it, man. Definitely.”

People in Alabama have always felt a kinship with Penn State, specifically because of Paterno. In 2001, when Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden were on the cusp of breaking Paul Bryant’s record for all-time wins, Alabama fans were virtually unanimous: “I hope Paterno gets there before Bowden does.”

We felt that way because we had watched Paterno’s teams compete against Bryant’s in the 1970s; because of the class Paterno showed competing against Alabama throughout the 1980s; because the PSU program always carried an aura of class and integrity that Bowden’s at Florida State did not.

That aura doesn’t exist anymore this week, not after the horrifying molestation charges that surfaced this week against former PSU assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Included in that charge: that Paterno and other PSU officials had knowledge of Sandusky’s (alleged) abuse of children — and not vague knowledge, but specific eyewitness testimony — as long ago as 1998 … and took no measures to stop it. Now Paterno is fired, two other university officials have been arrested, State College is up in arms and the entire community is in disarray.

There are no winners here.

In the succeeding days and weeks since coach Paterno was officially fired last Wednesday, the story has gone through the typical rinse-and-spin cycle that a news story goes through these days. Specifically, a round of columns and blogs telling saying he should’ve been fired; another round wondering how it affects his legacy; and a third round saying we should not be talking about any of this, not when abused children are part of the discussion.

The fact is, there is nothing poignant or witty for anyone — columnists, bloggers or television personalities — can say about any of this. It’s sad. It’s awful. It’s sad and it’s awful and I hate every bit of it.

That ticket for that Alabama-Penn State game, it turns out, represents the last time a Paterno-coached team ever lost a game. It’s a memento I’ll probably keep forever.

I hate it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

playoff scenarios, for better and worse

Frankly, we've beaten this playoff horse to death here. We've discussed multiple scenarios in this space; we've discussed the trouble with being too inclusive, and so forth. There's really not much more we could say about this topic we haven't already said.
Of course, what else is there to talk about? When you think about it, it's been a pretty boring season: everyone pretty much agrees that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country ... and they already played. Even if they play again, pretty much everybody agrees it would be better if it came in some sort of tournament scenario.

So, with that in mind, let's look at a few playoff scenarios, what they would look like according to the current BCS standings, and how they'd probably play out. Please note: I'm basically making these up as I go, and it's worth noting they probably wouldn't wind up the way I'm thinking. Let's just have some fun here.

Dec. 31
(4) Oregon vs. (1) LSU
(3) Alabama vs. (2) Oklahoma State
Jan. 6
Thoughts: This one is (obviously) the most plausible scenario, if only because you could maintain the current setup and use this without too much of an issue. Moreover, think about the amount of money you could make off a week like this one: That's four programs' fan base, in one location — in my mind, the semifinals and finals would stay in the same city — for possibly as long as 14 days.
That's also the big problem: In the NCAA basketball tournament, a fan's commitment for the Final 4 is basically a long weekend (if your team is in the Final 4, you're there for the semifinal on Friday, and the championship game Monday). But football games can't be played within two days; they require a turnaround of at least 6 days. So if you're a fan of, say, Oregon, you have to consider whether you want to spend the money on traveling to New Orleans, spending (at least) a week there ... and that's not even including the cost of game tickets.
As far as the actual games, how much would LSU be hating life? They get a rematch against an Oregon team that appears to be hitting all cylinders, then (probably) a rematch with Bama in the final. Yeesh.

(Note: This is one I kind of made up on my own.)
Dec. 24
(6) Arkansas at (3) Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
(5) Oklahoma at (4) Oregon (Eugene)
Dec. 31
6/3 vs. (1) LSU
5/4 vs. (2) Oklahoma State
Jan. 6
Thoughts: I made this one up a few years ago, because it seemed like it would alleviate the problem of being too exclusive; because it added value to the regular season (giving the top-2 a bye seems like a pretty significant incentive); because, to be honest, if you can't at least get recognized as a top-6 team, I can't see giving you a shot at a national championship.
Obviously, there's very little shot these matchups would stay the same, since both Arkansas and Oklahoma have pending matchups that will affect their respective rankings. We're just going to pretend  for now. And if these were the matchups, a ton of rematches are once again on the table. Then again, so what? Basketball teams play rematches in the tournament all the time, and nobody seems to mind.
There is one other problem: If you give Alabama and Oregon an extra home game, that's an extra injection of cash into the local economies that nobody else gets. The higher seeds might expect a little something extra to be happy about that.

Dec. 24
(8) Va. Tech at (1) LSU (Baton Rouge)
(5) Oklahoma at (4) Oregon (Eugene)
(6) Arkansas at (3) Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
(7) Clemson at (2) Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
Dec. 31
8/1 vs. 5/4
6/3 vs. 7/2
Jan. 6
Thoughts: Somehow we managed to give two ACC teams a shot at the title. Ridiculous. Let's pretend we did it with (predicted) conference champs, plus 2 at-large berths (rated in order of BCS standing):
Dec. 24
(8) Oklahoma at (1) LSU (Baton Rouge)
(5) Michigan State at (4) Clemson (Clemson)
(6) Cincinnati at (3) Oregon (Eugene)
(7) Alabama at (2) Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
Thoughts: OK, this is even more ridiculous. We just gave Cincinnati a shot at a national championship. Absurd.
(Note: I suppose you could redo this and just seed them by ranking, which would make Cincinnati the 8, Michigan State the 7 and so forth. It still makes a mockery of the regular season.)

Dec. 17
(16) Stanford at (1) LSU (Baton Rouge)
(9) TCU at (8) Arkansas St. (Jonesboro)
(13) Oklahoma at (4) Clemson (Clemson)
(12) Alabama at (5) Michigan State (East Lansing)
(11) Nevada at Cincinnati (Cincinnati)
(14) Arkansas at (3) Oregon (Eugene)
(10) Northern Illinois at (7) Houston (Houston)
(15) Va. Tech at (2) Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
Dec. 24
(Note: In my mind, we'd re-seed after each round, and home fields would be the result, much like in the NFL.)
Quarterfinals (On-Campus)
Dec. 31
Semifinals (New Orleans)
Jan. 6
Championship (New Orleans)
Thoughts: Chaos, man. Whole lotta chaos.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday tube: Meet Georgia Southern

A little known fact about me: I spent the first two years of my professional career — such as it is — working as a sportswriter in south Georgia, about 45 minutes away from the campus of Georgia Southern University.
Like a number of schools, Georgia Southern gave up its football program during World War II; unlike a number of those programs, though, GSU didn't bring theirs back until the 1980s, when they hired then-UGA defensive coordinator Erk Russell and started winning every championship in sight.
Their best player was a back named Adrian Peterson. No, not that Adrian Peterson. The GSU version of AP was arguably the best player in the history of I-AA, and certainly the best in the history of the program. In the 1999 championship game vs. Youngstown State, he did this.
 It remains the most legendary play in the history of the program, one that is once again back on top in its subdivision (currently ranked 2nd). I can only wish them the best once the postseason begins.
But I wish them no good Saturday. And since I can't think of anything else to run, here's a link to Marquis Maze's punt return vs. Arkansas.

Monday, November 14, 2011

gameday texts: week 11

Welcome back to another edition of "Gameday Texts," which started slow (much like Bama) but picked up as the day went on. As always, all messages appear exactly as they do on my phone, complete with timestamp. Also as always, all are [sic]d; fair warning: a few may be possibly offensive (though not really). Feel free to contribute your own thoughts, either here or on Twitter.

Whit (8:05 a.m.) "Oregon ... just a bunch of space hippies"

Halcombe (8:40 a.m.) Did I just hear the latest Pokemon are Lunesta and Cymbalta? I give up.

me (8:42 a.m.) Strange week. Don't think I'm mentally prepared to watch us play tonight.
Maguire (8:44 a.m.) I'm with you there. Doesn't really feel like game day. I'll be going through the motions. Just hope our guys aren't doing the same.
D. Hardin (8:56 am.) My give a damn got busted last week
Dad (9:09 a.m.) Weirdest week I can recall ... all around ... very strange.

Halcombe (9:10 a.m.) There are other games besides PSU-Nebraska today?
Halcombe (9:13 a.m.) The whole "Game Day from Palo Alto" idea was better in concept than reality. What is it 4:30 a.m. out there?

Dad (9:56 a.m.) Think anybody will show up in Starkvegas today?
me (9:57 a.m.) Hopefully the team.
Dad (9:58 a.m.) That is "iffy" at best

Halcombe (10:41 a.m.) Is that the crying Indian dude making picks on Game Day?
Halcombe (10:46 a.m.) Picking UGA in a rivalry game that really matters is like telling your mom your mother-in-law "really understands." Everyone loses except Auburn. 

Rob (12:03 p.m.) What's up with these puss punts by muschamp?

Rob (12:29 p.m.) Texas doesn't fair well against sec schools. Go mizzu!

Jamie (12:52 p.m.) What's you're halftime speech down 49-0?

me (1:27 p.m.) Brando: "We've seen Jim Grobe do this at Wake Forest before, haven't we?" Rest of the world: "What?"

me (1:45 p.m.) Kentucky may be the worst SEC team of my lifetime.

Rob (1:50 p.m.) That was a fumble by Brantley. Kinda obvious when both his hands hit the ground while being tackled. These guys are getting paid for this?

me (2:21 p.m.) Penn State students will riot some more, I guess.
Rob (2:22 p.m.) They better I need some more primetime coverage to watch!

Jonathan Page (2:37 p.m.) Overused quote of the day? "X controls their own destiny"
Jonathan Page (2:38 p.m.) Gettin on my nerves

me (2:39 p.m.) Memorable opening lines, by Verne: "This year the game will be played in Athens."

Audra (2:41 p.m.) That stupid blue field hurts my head.

Dad (2:43 p.m.) Defense cheers after giving up 6 on first down
Mama (2:58 p.m.) It looks like georgia has several bulldogs.

Mama (3:01 p.m.) Ummmmm what about these kids painted black? Is that appropriate?

Mama (3:04 p.m.) That's german for touchdown maker?
me (3:06 p.m.) What's Uzomah?
Mama (3:07 p.m.) That is bengali for lobber

Mama (3:13 p.m.) Thorpe is bengali for watch him catch!

me (3:30 p.m.) Classic moment just now in Boise-TCU game: Badly burned DB fell over like he'd been shot. "I can't catch that guy — I'm in pain!"
Audra (3:30 p.m.) Don't tell Jess ... go horned frogs
Rob (3:33 p.m.) Ha just saw it he got sniped!
D. Hardin (3:59 p.m.) My neck!!! My back!!! My neck and my back!!! I need a Backieautomee!!!
Halcombe (3:40 p.m.) Real life: My wife has been having contractions all day (may be false) and I go, "There's your Dr." during wide shot of Sanford.
Me: There

Rob (3:52 p.m.) Auburn is sure making uga look good
Halcombe (4:04 p.m.) What if UGA were to beat LSU in SEC title game? We would all never hear the end of it. 

Jamie (4:07 p.m.) At least we know how to lose

Halcombe (4:29 p.m.) I didn't realize Mizzou's baseball team was good enough to beat Texas. What? On, that was the football score. Eww.

me (4:32 p.m.) AU Network guys sound like they could use a drink or 8.
Dad (4:44 p.m.) Na na na na na napa know how

me (4:53 p.m.) CBS just credited a UGA player for dancing with the band like a doofus.
Jamie (5:16 p.m.) His team has taken the manhood of his opponent. He can do whatever he wants.

me (5:00 p.m.) I will absolutely accept a Sugar Bowl bid vs. Boise. Just because. 
Rob (5:01 p.m.) Ditto and I wi be there
Maguire (5:03 p.m.) Me too. Let's knock Kellen Moore's front teeth out.
Rob (5:04 p.m.) Mostly cause I love Cajun food

Halcombe (5:01 p.m.) I know Verne has a story somewhere that begins with, "You know, I was eating a pie at a Bob Evans ..."
Halcombe (5:05 p.m.) Fifth Quarter with Gary Danielson, and special musical guest Kutless?
Halcombe (5:06 p.m.) Verne gave up on even trying to say "Hancock" right on that toss to the studio." Hack-coh, cock-han ..."
Halcombe (5:07 p.m.) UGA's kinda luck: Win big but lose Crowell to some freak high ankle sprain and lose East lead.

Audra (5:27 p.m.) That camera man is gonna make me have a seizure if he keeps going back and forth on that blue field.

me (5:42 p.m.) Why'd they score that one? Because (bleep) you, that's why.
Rob (5:43 p.m.) That one was for fairley
Audra (5:57 p.m.) Now that took balls
Audra (5:57 p.m.) I hope u know what I am talking about, otherwise awkward

me (6:05 p.m.) How badly does the MWC want to job TCU? They already made them go to Boise, & now this.

Jamie (7:04 p.m.) And to think, our head coach didn't want to give cam newton a scholarship. Shouldn't that be some kind of hint?

me (7:05 p.m.) "No points, just a lot of physicality."
Jamie (7:11 p.m.) I think state is playing 13 men at the los

me (7:14 p.m.) "Hey, even though the kid clearly has psychological issues kicking from that distance, let's send him back out there! I'm a genius — don't question me."
Maguire (7:15 p.m.) That's that we were saying.
Maguire (7:17 p.m.) I think we should quick kick in those situations.
Dad (7:27 p.m.) They should just go for it anyway. MSU can't move it.

Maguire (7:24 p.m.) This is getting ridiculous.
me (7:25 p.m.) My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
Rob (7:28 p.m.) Yeah on. It

Halcombe (7:28 p.m.) Glad to see Notre Dame didn't feel compelled to match Terps' crazy jerseys.

me (7:39 p.m.) The old "Throw it up & Hope We get Pass Interference" offense.
Maguire (7:39 p.m.) That wasn't a mistake. 13 knew he was beat, so he knocked White down.

me (7:49 p.m.) Without a doubt, my favorite running thing a/b Oregon is that they sometimes go for 2, just cause.
Halcombe (7:53 p.m.) The Eye of Sauron is beating the Ents 8-0 after the first age of man.

Halcombe (8:00 p.m.) Shamrocks taking care of the Caligraphy class gone awry in the Catholic Bowl right now.
Halcombe (8:04 p.m.) Oregon band played Phantom Menace finale piece (where the slobbering thing gets the blue orb) following that last first down. 

Jamie (8:08 p.m.) If you are a huge fan of special teams, and you are watching espn, you have a noose around your neck and are on a ledge.

Halcombe (8:29 p.m.) Cardinal must have looked to UGA-UF game for pointers on how to give up TDs on 4th and long.

Dad (8:45 p.m.) HE MADE IT!!!!
Halcombe (8:46 p.m.) Congrats on the FG make. Only one week too late.

me (9:02 p.m.) I quit.
Maguire (9:03 p.m.) I'm drinking now c
Rob (9:04 p.m.) I need scotch

me (9:07 p.m.) State turning to the magic of Favre.
Maguire (9:08 p.m.) I hope it's not his uncle's style of magic. At least, not the kind he tried to work on Jenn Sterger.

Maguire (9:16 p.m.) Special teams ... or special ed?
Maguire (9:30 p.m.) Our 3rd down conversion woes might have something to do with our aversion to throwing the ball past the line of scrimmage when we need 7 yards or more.

Maguire (9:41 p.m.) #3 may be from another planet.
Maguire (9:41 p.m.) Like Krypton.
me (9:42 p.m.) If you shoot him you'll just make him mad.
Rob (9:43 p.m.) Erin said like a rhinoceros

Jamie (9:45 p.m.) 2 weeks in a row auburn has scored more points that alabama vs common opponents. Get some.
me (9:45 p.m.) I can't talk right now. I'm drinking.

Jamie (9:53 p.m.) You're just embarrassed from my last observation.
me (9:59 p.m.) I'm definitely embarrassed about something.

Maguire (9:54 p.m.) 9-1. Roll Tide.

Dad (10:15 p.m.) Stanford uni looks like Bama from 1966

me (10:21 p.m.) Pac-12's MNC hopes just died on the table.
Rob  (10:22 p.m.) And possibly heisman
Audra (10:23 p.m.) Today has turned out good

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday tube: more cowbell

I can't come up with a clever intro for this week's edition of "Tuesday tube." Let's just say, it's the last time we went to Starkville, and we took care of business.

Monday, November 7, 2011

gameday texts: Game of the Century edition

Welcome back to this week's edition of "Gameday Texts," my own personal open thread from a football Saturday. Apologies in advance for my general sense of pessimism as the day wears on; you can also note the collective urge to kill rising among fellow Bama fans. As always, messages appear here exactly as they do on my phone, complete with timestamp, and all are [sic]d. Also as always, be warned that some of the language here might be mildly offensive. Feel free to contribute your own either here or on Twitter

Halcombe (8:20 a.m.) Aw snap! Baby face playin at Rite Aid. That was SO my '93.

Me (10:09 a.m.) People at our tailgate just knocked each other over to be part of the "WOOOOOOOO" crowd on TV.

Rob (10:28 a.m.) Evidently big al eats honey badgers

Halcombe (10:37 a.m.) The beauty of X-BOX's Kinnect is that you get the chance to watch how limp your buddy fake throws a football. 
Halcombe (10:38 a.m.) Your Cheez-It Fans of the week look like their mom and dad could share a closer genealogical tie than marriage. 

Me (10:39 a.m.) This lady could totally make good on that threat.
Maguire (10:55 a.m.) His ass won't be all that quits.

Me (10:44 a.m.) Great Moments in Overheard Conversation: "Look, I understand you just got out of rehab & all that BS. But you better get your asses over here."
Halcombe (10:46 a.m.) Les talking to his QBs?
Rob (10:47 a.m.) Ha next comment hold my beer and watch this

Halcombe (10:45 a.m.) Is it wise for the lone black dude Game Day analyst to pick against the home team ... in Alabama. Got bigger stones than me.

Halcombe (10:56 a.m.) Corso's keeping the Wilson beard so he can play "Bad Santa" with the Mrs. down the road ... "Won't be able to walk for a week."

Me (11:48 a.m.) Guys at the tailgate just reenacted the "Holler Network" scene at a group of LSU girls passing by.
Me (11:42 a.m.) "We think Vandy can take em today." No, they cannot. Because they are Vandy.

Rob (11:44 a.m.) Well at least somebody believes in them
Maguire (11:55 a.m.) Vandy can take 'em ... for 55 minutes, maybe.
Jonathan Page (12:26 p.m.) I wonder how many bookies take bets against Vandy where the bettor doesn't know who the opponent is.

Jonathan Page (12:27 p.m.) Great Tail-Gating. If the Zombie Apocalypse starts here even the Undead will be well fed.

Whit (2:36 p.m.) Come on vandy!!!!

Jonathan Page (3:21 p.m.) Army 14, Air Force 0. Go America!!

Me (4:30 p.m.) So, um, this is happening.

Jonathan Page (5:29 p.m.) Apparently we (Army) are only good if we have a 4-10 yes to finish a contest.

Me (5:31 p.m.) /makes corndog joke
Whit (5:32 p.m.) Corndog is right up there with bammer and barner as dumbest nicknames

Jamie (6:13 p.m.) Todd Mcshay makes the point that neither qb has played in a game with this much hype. I'd say neither has Joe Montana.

Halcombe (6:50 p.m.) Explain to me why USC-ARK is a Top 10 matchup?
Me (6:58 p.m.) How pissed are Nessler & Blackledge tonight?

Halcombe (7:00 p.m.) Hang on, it's time for Taste of the Town. And Todd's face filling on twice baked chicken.

Halcombe (7:02 p.m.) Think that "He'll do anything to win" commercial is biting Kyle Busch in the a$$ right about now?

Me (7:03 p.m.) Thank God. 3 hours & this can all be over.
Maguire (7:06 p.m.) Indeed. Let's play ball.
Halcombe (7:06 p.m.) If Gary and Verne were any more excited they'd pop like the bad dude from Big Trouble in Little China. I'm Jack Burton, signing off.
Me (7:08 p.m.) According to Gary, AJ has never played in a game of this magnitude. Has anybody?

Halcombe (7:11 p.m.) Has to be pretty cold in Tuscaloosa. Saban, wear an undershirt next time. Don't need your nature's thermometers poking me through my Vizio ED glasses.

Halcombe (7:17 p.m.) When did you get the old Chicago Bulls PA announcer?
Halcombe (7:19 p.m.) Really wishing for a "Smelley to Fluker reverse" just because.

Me (7:20 p.m.) Guess there's no need to say it.
D. Hardin (7:21 p.m.) Nope! But I can ask the question why!
Maguire (7:21 p.m.) But we moved the ball fine. 
Whit (7:22 p.m.) Yes mr. falhurst I'm sure a good fonging is in order.

Halcombe (7:26 p.m.) Y'all should have a couple skanks on the sidelines, so when Jefferson comes in they can distract with a "Hey bouey! You lookin good."

D. Hardin (7:32 p.m.) There punter is a good'n
Me (7:33 p.m.) I wish our kickers were worth a damn. 

Halcombe (7:38 p.m.) You guys shoulda sprinkled some Miralax on the away sidelines for Les' sod munchies.

Halcombe (7:42 p.m.) Verne just called you guys Arkansas. I think he owes you an apology

Me (7:43 p.m.) What's the point of play-faking on 3rd & 20?
Jamie (7:46 p.m.) Not smart
D. Hardin (7:47 p.m.) What the hell!
Me (7:48 p.m.) That whole sequence was extraordinarily stupid.
Maguire (7:48 p.m.) We might as well just got for it every damn time.

Me (7:53 p.m.) Dominated the 1st quarter & nothing to show for it. Damn it all.
Rob (7:54 p.m.) Yeah can't lose PTs!!

Maguire (7:58 p.m.) Got to keep pounding away. The ice will break eventually. 

Jamie (7:59 p.m.) What in the hell are they thinking?
Me (7:59 p.m.) We just lost. 
Whit (7:59 p.m.) Relax
Maguire (8:00 p.m.) Nah. We'll be fine. 
Jamie (8:01 p.m.) LSU won't score but its sure giving them a better chance
Rob (8:06 p.m.) Yeah can't lose PTs!!
Halcombe (8:02 p.m.) Insert "Hey Bouey!" skanks.

Halcombe (8:13 p.m.) I'm no 'Bama fan, but I sure hope Richardson busts one on this drive because that pissie Aussie's salute after his punt irks me.

Maguire (8:20 p.m.) Punch it in. Punch till we can't no more!
D. Hardin (8:22 p.m.) We got one!!!yayayaaaaa

Halcombe (8:20 p.m.) My wife: The biggest problem I have with South Carolina is that their jersey is white but their helmet is off white. Looks like it was bleached too many times.

D. Hardin (8:26 p.m.) Ohh ohh we kicked it past the 10 to the 8 yrd line!!! Ahhhhahha

Me (8:41 p.m.) Remind me to spend all summer bitching about the opportunities we wasted in this game & how they cost us a championship.
Whit (8:42 p.m.) Remind me to punch you right in the baby maker

Jamie (8:59 p.m.) Been fun to watch and exactly what I expected.
Maguire (9:02 p.m.) We're stronger in the 2nd half. Got to keep punching them. They'll go down eventually. 

Me (9:23 p.m.) Serenity now ...
Maguire (9:24 p.m.) The dam's gonna break. Just keep it up
Maguire (9:29 p.m.) I hope it's theirs.

Me (9:30 p.m.) Dre is always very proud of himself.

Maguire (9:41 p.m.) Damn it. That was the one thing we didn't need to do. 

Jamie (9:46 p.m.) Lsu has to stretch the field. Not hard to defend an offense that runs all plays within 10 yards if the line of scrimmage.


Me (10:01 p.m.) Gary has said "Remember last year" about 25 times. 

Me (10:03 p.m.) If he can't move to catch the ball, he shouldn't be out there. Coach screwed up again. 
Me (10:12 p.m.) Honey Bun should be ejected for that. That's malicious. 

Bart (10:22 p.m.) McIlwait squandered TDs running plays we didn't need to use to score.
Rob (10:22 p.m.) Not good they are better at fgs than us

Me (10:29 p.m.) Well. That was awful.
Whit (10:29 p.m.) Twas fun
Rob (10:31 p.m.) Yep that sux
Me (10:32 p.m.) 2nd year in a row we lost to them in the 4th quarter. Ridiculous.
Maguire (11:24 p.m.) Well, damn. I hate it when you're pessimistic and right. Roll Tide.

Me (11:13 p.m.) Guess they'll roll Toomer's Corner tonight.
Maguire (11:26 p.m.) That's what I said when we were walking out. I bet those rubes are doing just that right now.

Halcombe (9:51 a.m., Sunday) I uttered curse words for you this morning at 7:30 ... wait ... 6:30 ... at any rate. I uttered them in your honor. The ghost of Scott Norwood has hit Tuscaloosa.