Thursday, September 29, 2011

fun with a newspaper column: In which I apologize profusely

Here's this week's column from the St. Clair Times, which is largely about apologizing. While we're here, my apologies for not posting the column from last week or the week before. My bad. As always, feel free to complain about this column by commenting here or finding me on Twitter.
Writing means lots of apologies

Much of my career as a writer has been one long apology.

(Here’s where you say, “What career?” And that’s … that’s just mean. You should apologize.)

Most people with an ounce of writing talent (and me!) enjoy the idea of writing for a living, particularly as a columnist, where whatever’s bouncing around in their heads at any given moment might eventually translate into 2,500 words of worthwhile copy for other people to read.

In fact, when I first started as a columnist, it was with a now-defunct website called Dateline Alabama, and that’s exactly what I did — wrote about whatever was bouncing around in my head at any given moment. The results were … um, bizarre.

And here’s the thing: When you write about whatever’s on your mind, certain people may find it somewhat offensive. It’s one thing to get emails from people you don’t know or care about because they didn’t like the fact that you called the starting quarterback for Alabama an entitled doofus; it’s quite another thing when you receive emails from your own dad.

“Also … please stop telling people to [expletive] in your column … your mother reads this, you know.”


Things have progressed, the further I’ve gone as a columnist. Writing a local sports column as I did for two different papers was essentially begging for people to call and email with various critiques.

“You spelled my daughter’s name wrong — it’s Krystian, not Kristen.”

“How come you always pick against us?”

“What do you mean when you say the rain affected the game? I live two miles from the stadium and it barely rained a drop.”

Writing about news, of course, is not much different — though fewer people are as passionate about, say, bond issues, as they are about high school football. That doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t occasionally hear from someone in a public relations department somewhere with a “clarification” on something, which usually involves correcting plain English and converting it into Corporate Groupspeak.

“You wrote that someone used a Taser. That’s not a Taser; it’s a generic stun gun.”

“That politician you photographed wasn’t drinking our product. He was drinking something else out of a cup with our product’s name on it.”

“Please don’t refer to our ‘associates’ as ‘employees.’”

“That joke you made about me in your last column wasn’t funny at all, and if you do it again I’m going to break both of your thumbs with a sledgehammer.”

Wait — that last one wasn’t from a PR gerbil. That one was my wife. Which means I have to go apologize again. Great.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday tube on Wednesday: this seems strangely familiar

Little bit of trivia: How many times has Alabama actually played in Gainesville since 1990?
(Take a minute. Think about it. I've got time.)
(Keep thinking.)
The answer: 3.
Three whole times. 1991, 1999 and 2006.

It's a little weird, right? For as much as Bama fans tend to think of Florida as a "rival," the Crimson Tide and Gators have barely met in the regular season since the conference split into divisions (to be fair, the two teams only played twice in the 1980s).
Of those three meetings, only one of them was remotely memorable. It requires no explanation.

Monday, September 26, 2011

gameday texts: week 4

This week's edition of "Gameday Texts" is pretty mundane, though some of what comes from the Arkansas game is actually pretty good. As always, each message appears here exactly as it does in my phone. A mild warning: Some of the language may be mildly offensive, although it probably isn't. As always, feel free to complain either here or by finding me on Twitter. Please to enjoy.

Jamie (8:29 a.m.) Irony: erin andrews telling someone else to check their hotel room door for mischief
Jamie (8:32 a.m.) I wonder how clemson "shocked the nation" last week. Weren't they 3 pt favorites?

Me (9:04 a.m.) The Big & Rich song has surpassed merely being annoying. I genuinely wish them harm now.

Whit (9:10 a.m.) Welcome to the team

Dad (10:02 a.m.) I just realized how appropriate the song "livin' on a prayer" is for aubie p.a.

Me (12:51 p.m.) It appears the UA KDs all decided to wear long jerseys with leggings, instead of dresses.
Mama (1:13 p.m.) So fashionable!

Me (12:46 p.m.) Is Houston wearing that hat in the hopes no one will recognize him?
Maguire (12:47 p.m.) I think he should add a fake mustache and glasses. The hat alone isn't working.

Maguire (12:48 p.m.) He should probably make a deal with the devil, too.
Me (12:48 p.m.) Or a deal with ESPN. He's headed there anyway.

Me (12:56 p.m.) I say Ole Miss just onsides it every time. What's the happen that could happen, really?

Dad (1:07 p.m.) Ole Ms is really bad
Rob (1:20 p.m.) It's bad when u having nothing to loose in the 4th game of year

Maguire (2:38 p.m.) Gonna find out a few things about ourselves today. RTR.

Halcombe (2:38 p.m.) Is Verne Lundquist more like
c) Danny Devito in "Sunny in Philadelphia?"

Maguire (2:43 p.m.) Glad we're not meerkats.
Maguire (2:46 p.m.) Your ass is supposed to be in your seat.

Stacey (2:45 p.m.) Put me in your blog post! #shameless

Jamie (2:50 p.m.) I'm not sure petrino realizes he starts the game with 3 time outs.
Halcombe (3:00 p.m.) Saban looking extra "cocky man at the monthly subdivision meeting' today.
Halcombe (3:01 p.m.) Arkansas defense looking more "Treutlen, Wheeler, Montgomery" today.

Halcombe (3:08 p.m.) Razorback RB must have answered yes to the following question: Can you run between you "A" gap and "B" gap? 
Answer: That's where the lineman should be, dummy.
Halcombe (3:18 p.m.) Time when you hate being a paginator: Kerning on endzone art is too close, and you're the only one who notices.
Halcombe (3:24 p.m.) I hate sideline reporters. They offer nothing positive to my life. They are food equivalent of fat free mayo: flavorless and too runny to stick to bread.

Maguire (3:41 p.m.) Did Dave Rader kidnap Jim McElwain and take his place in the box?
Dad (3:43 p.m.) Very poor execution. He scored on the sneak btw.

Maguire (3:49 p.m.) Needed that. Hope it gives us a shot in the arm. RTR.

Jamie (3:59 p.m.) Dre Kirk wanted his name called today, it seems

Me (4:25 p.m.) "Cade" is a stupid name.
Maguire (4:26 p.m.) I would never name my kid that.
Me (4:31 p.m.) I'll be damned.

Dad (4:31 p.m.) ..uh, wow

D. Hardin (4:32 p.m.) That was unreal
Maguire (4:32 p.m.) Best run of Maze's life. 
Dad (4:32 p.m.) Made 26 people miss

Me (4:43 p.m.) Um ... what?
D. Hardin (4:44 p.m.) Yeah is this a fluke or are we pretty good?

Me (4:44 p.m.) We may have overrated Arkansas a bit.

Maguire (4:46 p.m.) Doubt Arkansas will run the ball again today.
Jamie (4:58 p.m.) I think their DL injuries hurt some but bama OL played better than they have all year by a long shot, considering the competition to this point.

Me (4:50 p.m.) They ain't goin away ...
D. Hardin (4:51 p.m.) Naw we knew they wouldn't but I think wilson's willingness to play is going away
Maguire (4:51 p.m.) Not going away, but we know how they're gonna do it. Got to stop them in the air.

Me (4:59 p.m.) Gary: "What struck me about the tornado destruction was how haphazard it was." And that guy knows haphazard.
Whit (5:12 p.m.) Gary can kiss my big black ass

Me (5:02 p.m.) Was that a joke?
Me (5:02 p.m.) Seriously, he thought he could run a simple lead on 4th & 1?
D. Hardin (5:04 p.m.) Wow I know didn't even follow the full back

Me (5:16 p.m.) Upon further review, it looked an awful lot like Petrino called his QB "a fcking coward" just now.

Me (5:27 p.m.) More from Gary: "He took it in the chin from 6 different guys."
Maguire (5:28 p.m.) #unintentionalporn

Zach (5:28 p.m.) Wow. See tv now. Asswhip.

Me (5:32 p.m.) Feel any better about last week seeing what Clemson is doing to FSU?

Jamie (5:33 p.m.) No matter what happened today our d still sucks until further notice.
Zach (5:35 p.m.) No. FSU sucks. Auburn sucks.
Zach (5:35 p.m.) But we will get better. FSU wont.

Dad (5:35 p.m.) Petrino does not care for the ref's opinion.

Halcombe (5:36 p.m.) Da Sawks are down 9-1 in 7th. Bet now Big Papi is wishing "This is Sportscenter" ad came true before start of season.

Me (5:38 p.m.) Gary WILL NOT stop talking about how Arkansas can still win the West.
D. Hardin (5:40 p.m.) He is idiot ... He also said ... the way to beat alabama may not be a passing offense. Well hell Ven they are negative running the ball bitch
Maguire (5:43 p.m.) He's like the folks in politics now. "Anybody but Alabama." Hell with him, he's an idiot.

Dad (5:44 p.m.) Bama is so lucky!

Maguire (5:48 p.m.) 4-0. Roll Tide.

Jamie (5:42 p.m.) This may set a record for fewest fans for a traveling team. Owls run to the locker room pre game and not 1 person in vistors section cheered. Not one

Me (7:02 p.m.) Kirk's outfit tonight was picked out by a black preacher.

Jamie (7:05 p.m.) Whatever it is, it looks better than our football team

Jamie (7:27 p.m.) Without a doubt the worst combined display of football I have ever witnessed.

Me (7:34 p.m.) Brent just nominated the Mathieu kid from LSU for SEC Player of the Year.

Rob (8:09 p.m.) Jeez little early in the year huh?

Dad (8:00 p.m.) Four weeks in auburn is working on tackling technique.

Halcombe (8:23 p.m.) I'm waiting for Brent to accidentally throw out a LLWS reference like, "Geno Smith is comparable to Jake Fromm, the fine young man from WR."
Halcombe (8:28 p.m.) What's the point of the Michelin Man's sash? Did he win the "Mr. Naked Tire Pitchman" or something?
Halcombe (8:32 p.m.) What is Big Bird's opinion of all this yellow in prime time?
Halcombe (8:49 p.m.) Think I heard Brent just say he'd nominate Mathieu for statehood and immediately place him on the UN Security Council.

Zach (8:52 p.m.) Watching Auburn be terrible at the moment.

Jamie (9:45 p.m.) Holgorsen fits into wv nicely. Just mouthed "bush league mf-ers" to lsu sideline

Rob (10:02 p.m.) So ur saying there's a chance
Me (10:02 p.m.) Not anymore.
Rob (10:03 p.m.) Whoops

Sunday, September 25, 2011

week 4 thoughts: who we thought we were

On Wednesday of this week, a co-worker of mine — a world-class reporter who sometimes doesn't notice the world around him — noted that Alabama was ranked in the top-5 in the nation.
"Alabama ranked No. 2?" he said.
I kind of sighed.
"Are we — I mean ... Are we that good?"
I confessed I didn't know. True, we'd gone on the road at that point and beat a (average at best) Penn State team, and we certainly have potential, but ... are we that good? I'm not sure.
"I don't know if we're that good," he concluded. "I think this weekend's gonna be tough."
We just might have an answer now.
It was two years ago at this time that Alabama thumped a dangerous Arkansas team at home; at the time, the Hawgs had just rolled up about a billion yards vs. Georgia and looked like the most dangerous offense in the conference. Alabama pretty much brushed them off in one afternoon.
This Arkansas team, to me, looked like every bit the team it was last year — you know, the one that led the defending national champs 20-7 late in the third quarter before folding up. And Alabama had shown enough vulnerability — unable to control the line of scrimmage all the time, erratic quarterback play, average pass rush — that it seemed like one of those "shock-the-world" upsets was afoot.
I was wrong again.

Know what was striking about this game? Watching the tape, Alabama outhit Arkansas on Saturday — on offense, defense and special teams. It was impossible to count the number of times a white jersey hit the turf, and a red jersey reached down to help him up. Alabama wasn't just the better team — it was the more physical team. Alabama bullied Arkansas on Saturday, like I used to do when I played my little brother on Bill Walsh's College Football on Sega Genesis (I just felt like bringing this up). In the fourth quarter, tired of watching his quarterback take shots — most of them were even legal — Bobby Petrino yanked him, effectively tapping out in the center of the ring.
Of course, we are required by law to utter the pessimist/realist line of "Don't get carried away" at this point. For one thing, this week's trip to Florida is a road game vs. an undefeated team that was in the SEC Championship Game two years ago (a lot of those athletes are still there). For another, Saturday night's matinee of LSU-West Virginia was a reminder of the epic war that's coming to town in November. It's a long way from here to anything special.
But at least we know we can be that good. It's a pretty exciting proposition, even for somebody like me.

A few other notes ...
— This will sound weird, but the key to Alabama's first touchdown was actually the kicker, Cade Foster. Just bear with me: When Bama shifted out of the field goal set, Foster went from his regular kicker's spot to a tight slot on the left side of the formation, an eligible receiver spot. At the snap, Foster took off like a little kid being chased by his neighbor's pet Rottweiler, occupying the defensive back on that side and opening up a spot for Michael Williams to slip into. These are little things a championship football team does.
(Note: My cousin Jamie wondered why Bobby Petrino didn't spend a timeout when Bama shifted. But Petrino had his regular defense on the field playing safe; he was very aware Alabama might not attempt an absurd 54-yard field goal that early in the game. Alabama just called a better play, plain and simple.)
— For all my whining about the offensive line the first three weeks, our guys played up to their preseason potential Saturday. Finally, Alabama showed the dominant run game it was purported to have. I particularly enjoyed the last touchdown, when Eddie Lacy was four yards downfield before anyone even appeared on the screen. They played so well, I almost got over the fact that we couldn't score in three chances from the 1-yard line.
(Note: To be fair, it certainly looked like A.J. McCarron scored on the first-down quarterback sneak.)
— DeQuan Menzie's pick-6 was one of the weirdest interceptions you'll ever see. Menzie didn't so much "tip it to himself" as Tyler Wilson "threw the ball at his right hand." Kudos to him for gathering himself, but the play itself seemed like random chance.
(Note: Prior to the play, Wilson and Courtney Upshaw were jawing in the backfield; when Menzie took off toward the end zone, Upshaw turned and, for no real reason, crushed Wilson with a "block." You know, just cause.)
— Really, that's just life on the margins in the SEC. Twice Alabama called halfback screen passes that were nearly intercepted. You may recall that one of those turned into a touchdown.
— This isn't so much a criticism as it is an observation: At the end of the third quarter, Bobby Petrino appeared to call Tyler Wilson "a f*cking coward" into his headset (my dad alerted me to this, so all credit goes to him). I'm not here to judge anyone's language — seriously, I'm the same guy who roots for a team coached by Nick Saban — but who talks that way about his own players?
It's not as though Wilson showed zero toughness in the game — Alabama pummeled the poor kid all day (in Gary Danielson's words, "He took it in the chin from 6 different guys."). Petrino's obviously frustrated, but that's more than a little embarrassing.
— That reminds me: The effective end of the game came on a fourth-and-1 near midfield, when Petrino — an alleged offensive "genius" (and CBS played up the "genius" battle between Saban and Petrino the entire first half — called a pedestrian lead dive, that lost a yard. Genius, indeed.

— Also ... this happened.
I've watched that play about 50 times since yesterday. And I think I'm going back for 51 in a minute.
Roll Tide.

Friday, September 23, 2011

time to get real

As you who stop here regularly have probably figured out by now, this football season has been a very strange one thus far for this blog. I didn't exactly start the season raring to go, took the road trip of a lifetime in Week 2 and spent much of last Saturday on the road visiting my grandfather (doing fine, thanks for asking). In a sense, this site has been waiting for the "real" football season to begin.
Much like Alabama fans.

Our history with Arkansas since the Hawgs joined the SEC back in 1992 indicates that losses to Arkansas ... um, don't portend well for the rest of the year. In the seven seasons we opened SEC West play by losing to Arkansas, only once (1995) did we end the season with more than 7 wins (and the '95 game shouldn't count because THAT PASS BOUNCED FOR GAWDSAKE). While both teams probably have too much talent to spin out of control like that — Arkansas rebounded from last year's collapse at home vs. Bama to make the Sugar Bowl — it's still fair to say this game is one of the more meaningful ones on the schedule.
It's that way for Arkansas too, obviously. Win this one Saturday and the Hawgs are squarely in the race for the division, the conference and the national championships. Lose, and it's business as usual in Fayetteville: good, dangerous ... but not elite.
(Note: Scarbinsky makes the argument today that the game is an important one for Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino personally, since Petrino hasn't beaten Nick Saban since he came to the SEC in 2008. While I'm not certain if I buy the argument that Saban is "in Petrino's head," coaches this good are fierce competitors — hell, they're this way even at the middle school level — so it's not too much of a stretch to say Petrino takes this personally. I'll always believe Saban took the media's fawning over Urban Meyer personally after 2008, for example. Anyway, where were we?)

At the risk of violating coach Saban's "one at a time" policy, this Saturday jump-starts a daunting month for Alabama football. After this Saturday, it's at Florida (flawed, but dangerous as hell); vs. Vanderbilt (possibly the best Vandy team of my lifetime); at Ole Miss (no one enjoys playing Houston Nutt ever); vs. Tennessee (self explanatory). At the risk of sounding too much like a pessimist — though, as you know, that's kind of my move — this Alabama team, thus far, hasn't really proven anything. The defense should be dominant; the offensive line should be great; the running backs should be special; the team should be eligible to compete for a national championship. But thus far, all these are nothing but statements of "potential," and — as a football coach I covered in Georgia told me once — "potential" means "you haven't actually done anything yet."
So let's go do it. Roll Tide.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

realignment plans, per the von Herrmanns

Since I'm almost certainly the only blogger left in the world who hasn't spoken regarding conference realignment, I've decided to continue in that vein by publishing someone else's thoughts on the subject. These come from my friends Peter and Amanda, who sent these to me via email back during Penn State weekend (for some reason, I haven't posted them until now). Keep in mind, these belong to a minister raised by Georgia Tech fans, his wife (possibly a closeted genius) and (most likely) their 2-year-old daughter (absolutely a genius). 

The von Herrmanns' realignment preferences
1.  Stay the same.
2.  Take A&M, dump Arkansas
3.  Take A&M for west, GT for the East
4.  A&M for west, Clemson for east
5. A&M for west, any FL team not named Miami for East
6. A&M & Baylor for West, GT and a non-Miami FL team for East.
7.  Take A&M, Baylor, OK, & OK State. Move UA & AU to East. Convince BCS the SEC gets 2 automatic bids.
8.  Take 6 teams from the big 12 and 6 teams from the ACC: A&M, Texas, Baylor, TX Tech, OK, OK State.  FSU, GA Tech, Clemson, Duke, UNC, NC State. 
2 SEC semifinal games - west vs. Far west, east vs. Far east. Winners play in Sugar Bowl.

We could call it, perhaps, the Southeastern Conference of Football Universities, or abbreviated, SEC FU?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tuesday tube: hog roasts

Since I can't think of anything more creative, here are the last four victories over Arkansas, who comes to town this Saturday in pretty much the same spot they've always been: needing a win to validate themselves as a Southeastern Conference heavyweight. So here you go.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

gameday texts: week 3

Full disclosure: I didn't see much of Saturday night's romp over North Texas because I was on the road, and I have yet to watch much of the replay. I'll attempt to have some analysis at some point, but frankly I think it's time we start thinking about Arkansas (the line opened at 12.5!). Anyway, here are the gameday texts, many of which encapsulate what analysis there is to be had. As always, the messages are presented as they appear on my phone — complete with time stamp — and all are [sic]d. You might find it offensive, but come on. And with that, please to enjoy.

Halcombe (6:31 a.m.) Apparently Joe Mauer forgot to dry his hair following his latest shower with Head and Shoulders, hence the pneumonia. 
Halcombe (6:41 a.m.) Kids grow overnigt. And when they do, they're ready for Goodnites. Wtf? Use the G-D toilet for crying out loud.

Pedro (8:57 a.m.) Showing Tech & a pointless Alabama game? FSS, you have won my heart. For this week, at least. And until I hear what morons you send for color on those games

Dad (10:36 a.m.) Good physicality
Dad (10:39 a.m.) Sign at Grown Folks "fir grown and sexy folks — fried chicken livers and gizzards"

Me (11:14 a.m.) Stan White, verbatim: "I think the offense has had a little bit more success than the defense."
Rob (11:15 a.m.) Stan white got hit in the head a lot
Maguire (11:15 a.m.) I wonder if he actually sells insurance, or if gullible aubs just buy it from him because he was their QB.

Maguire (11:48 a.m.) One of the ESPN guys at the Clemson/aub game just said "on today."

Rob (12:00 p.m.) Erin about trotter look at his mustache queer
Maguire (1:26 p.m.) Does Trotter have a porn 'stache?

Me (1:10 p.m.) /makes joke about Auburn's defense
Dad (1:20 p.m.) Can I still aubie and three and a half?

Me (1:25 p.m.) I know this is a bad time, but ... Vandy!
Maguire (1:29 p.m.) If this holds in Nashville, there should be a decent RebelBear meltdown for our enjoyment on Tuesday.
Rob (1:41 p.m.) Never a bad time for candy
Rob (1:41 p.m.) Candy
Rob (1:41 p.m.) Vandy damn auto correct

Pedro (1:27 p.m.) There's a player for Tech who has rushed the ball 4 times. He has gained 150 yards. His name is Orwin. That is all

Me (1:46 p.m.) I'll still take Auburn & 3.5.
Jamie (1:47 p.m.) You forget ted roof is involved
Rob (1:55 p.m.) Well I wouldn't bet on either defense

Dad (1:48 p.m.) Penn State a little lethargic today?
Pedro (2:15 p.m.) One fun part of inter-conference play: becoming a fan of your vanquished opponent in order to make you look better. Way to pull it out, Penn State.

Bart (2:15 p.m.) #15 for Clemson is awful. 

Me (2:16 p.m.) That's a pretty nice friggin undefeated run.
Jamie (2:17 p.m.) Lucky as shit
Me (2:17 p.m.) No shame in that.
Zach (2:18 p.m.) Yeah. Especially without playing any defense the entire streak.
Jamie (2:19 p.m.) 3 years of terrible defense. I guess we will need another superman to compete for a championship. No excuse defense this bad. D was horrid last year, we won in spite.

Me (2:18 p.m.) Houston may be fired before he leaves the field today.
Pedro (2:25 p.m.) Could be the first time in history the president has the team's bus greeted by a pomped homecoming float announcing the coach's firing.

Dad (2:27 p.m.) Dare go dabo

Rob (2:32 p.m.) It's a god thing

Me (2:27 p.m.) As an aside, what on earth has happened in the Ga. Tech game? Been watching the score crawl by.
Pedro (2:29 p.m.) 6 drives of 30 seconds or less makes the score go up

Me (2:35 p.m.) Time for CBS to plug in Verne & Gary ...
Rob (2:36 p.m.) They still alive?
Jamie (2:36 p.m.) I like gary
Dad (2:39 p.m.) Tracey!!

Pedro (2:34 p.m.) Only Vandy could get penalized in the Victory formation.
Pedro (2:37 p.m.) "Worst band uniforms ever. They deserve the name unis."

Dad (2:42 p.m.) Pouncey not starting for the tenth year in a row?

Whit (2:50 p.m.) From price — Two things ... we need to fire ted roof and spend about two weeks learning how to tackle ... roll eagle

Me (3:10 p.m.) Based on Dabo's postgame prayer, God decided he was tired of Auburn, too.
Dad (3:11 p.m.) ... oooo

Me (3:39 p.m.) Some days I miss when you were actually allowed to play football.
Moody (3:41 p.m.) Yeah. It's still better than soccer. We are down in monroeville. After the AU outing, I decided to come and try to shoot some doves. So far, it's warm and birdless.

Me (3:53 p.m.) I feel like Muschamp would beat Dooley in a fight.
Dad (3:54 p.m.) Sorta like 2 mules ...
Maguire (3:54 p.m.) I bet he fights dirty, though.
Jamie (3:54 p.m.) Dooley would sue him
Moody (3:55 p.m.) How cool would it be if the head coaches had a no rules fight the first 5 minutes of halftime at midfield. I bet saban would kill a few folks.
Moody (3:55 p.m.) And I bet the anti-"kitty cat" coach fromt he carolinas can fight too.
Rob (3:56 p.m.) Dunno Dooley looks scrappy
Rob (3:56 p.m.) Although muschamp would probably go for the nuts
Pedro (4:23 p.m.) I think Muschamp is trying to see how he'd do in a fight with some of the refs.

Pedro (4:25 p.m.) Ya think Muschamp & Dooley will come out of half with matching orange pants? That'd be, well, news.

Rob (4:35 p.m.) Umm Syracuse still plays football

Halcombe (5:06 p.m.) Bad headline option: Midshipmen take it to Cocks
Halcombe (5:31 p.m.) I thought Notre Dame was playing Mich. St? How are they beating SC?
Halcombe (5:32 p.m.) Oh, and I know what you're thinking, and no I'm not pairing "Seamen" and "Cocks." You're just immature.
Halcombe (5:42 p.m.) Scripted response for any Navy opponent: This offense is difficult to prepare for.
Halcombe (5:50 p.m.) Cue the "There goes the season" pouting for Spurrier and the Cock Nation. That didn't sound right.
Whit (6:25 p.m.) Navy!!!
Halcombe (6:42 p.m.) The ole' ball coach forgot his polident. Those dentures are mighty stained.

Audra (7:05 p.m.) Boomer

Halcombe (7:12 p.m.) Spurrier: Not only am I a spokesman for the Hair Club for Men (removes visor), I'm also a member.
Halcombe (7:16 p.m.) You have to try pretty hard to keep Mark May from looking like an a$$. Coach Lou, bravo. Bravo.
Halcombe (7:58 p.m.) Cocks kill Seamen chances late. Couldn't help it. 

Maguire (7:30 p.m.) Asshole behind me: "Come on, line, block! They ain't gon' block, A.J. ain't in there."
Dad (7:48 p.m.) O line still pretty bad
Me (8:15 p.m.) OL remains objectively terrible. Afraid it's going to cost us an important game.

Rob (8:21 p.m.) Cyrus needs to be left tackle and jones moved back to guard
Pedro (8:23 p.m.) "No doubt it's gonna cost us a game. N. Texas is getting pocket pressure." Was Joe Pendry that good? Or are they holding out for strippers from Jeff Stoutland?

Me (8:32 p.m.) Wait — why did A.J. not just cover the ball? Just to be safe?
Rob (8:35 p.m.) Offense is suspect next week should be interesting

Dad (8:50 p.m.) IT'S THIRD DOWN

Pedro (8:50 p.m.) Amanda wants it to be noted that, because she'd been talking about North Texas avoiding penalties, she caused that last delay of game penalty

Dad (9:03 p.m.) Almost inept on offense.

Jack (9:47 p.m.) The espn announcer just used "aplomb." The game hasn't even started yet ...
Me (9:54 p.m.) Also an epic Mormon battle b/t Utah & BYU on ESPN2.
Jack (9:55 p.m.) Dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb

Jamie (9:59 p.m.) From 02-07 worst au defense finished ranked 15th. Under Roof we have gone 68th, 60th and currently are 111th at best. 76% 3rd down conversion rate by our opponents. 39/51 3rd downs have resulted in 1st downs. That is video game like.

Audra (10:04 p.m.) Khristale said this is the loudest and most hyper she has seen me — I told her I was high on sooner endorphins ... soonernorphs
Me (10:06 p.m.) And alcohol.

Me (10:03 p.m.) That pump & go look familiar?
Me (10:08 p.m.) And no, Pitbull, I will not "have a real good time."
Audra (10:09 p.m.) see if I would have known earlier in life that all I needed was a avg. body and looks with an awesome ability to rap to make millions ... I wouldve been Comanche Candy

Dad (10:09 p.m.) Boomer just won the game

Me (10:09 p.m.) If it makes you feel any better, AU wasn't the worst defense today: Kansas gave up 700 vs. Ga. Tech.
Jamie (10:12 p.m.) It doesn't, but thanks. 

Me (10:31 p.m.) That's a nice W.
Audra (10:32 p.m.) It was a good game

Maguire (10:46 p.m.) 3-0. Roll Tide.

Friday, September 16, 2011

a column about aliens and weather

Here's this week's column from the St. Clair Times, inspired in part by this video from Week 1 in South Bend. Please feel free to argue with this, either here or on Twitter
Maybe the explanation for this weather is in another world

It’s entirely possible that the 2011 weather pattern is the work of extraterrestrials. There, I said it.

I don’t need to sell you on the idea that something unusual is taking place. Besides the deadly tornadoes, wildfires across Texas, an earthquake-hurricane combo on the East Coast and the ongoing tropical shenanigans in the Gulf, most people have accepted that something is taking place here that’s otherworldly.

The logical, earthly explanation is La Nina*, in which unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Pacific cause wetter than normal conditions out West and drier than normal conditions in the South and Southwest. Or you could go with presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann’s theory, that God is attempting to send Washington a message about … um, smaller government or something.
For some reason, this became "La NiOa" when it was produced.

Then there’s what happened in South Bend, Ind., during this past Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and South Florida. Like many games in the Midwest — Michigan-Western Michigan, West Virginia-Marshall, to name two — Notre Dame’s game vs. the Bulls fell victim to the weather Saturday, sending players and fans inside after lightning strikes.

During the delay, cameras pointed toward the clouds appeared to pick up very small lightning strikes that, if you squint hard enough and have a good imagination, look an awful lot like small flying objects. UFOs, if you will.

That’s science, folks. Kind of.

To be perfectly honest, after spending a weekend driving around western Pennsylvania, it started to make perfect sense. The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee wreaked havoc in the middle part of the state, prompting road closings and evacuations.

In State College, though? It rained a little; then it was just muggy. And once football Saturday finally arrived, the sun shone at a very pleasant 75 degrees.

Less than 20 miles up the road, it was (apparently) raining to beat the band. If that’s not alien activity, I don’t know what is.

It’s difficult to say why human beings — and Americans especially — need to find a root cause for the changes in the weather. Weather’s just something we have to adjust for and never really can control. Like Mark Twain famously said, “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.”

So if we’re going to find someone to blame, it seems like aliens make as much sense as anything else. I mean, did you see the end of Notre Dame-Michigan Saturday?

That’s not natural, folks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

gameday texts: week 2

The DBH Dance Party welcomes you back to "Gameday Texts," an assortment of quick-hit thoughts from a pretty hilarious group of friends and relatives. As always, the messages are presented here as they were received, complete with a time stamp and name. They are [sic]d and some may be mildly offensive. Although probably not. Please to enjoy. 

Jamie (8:58 a.m.) Fyi if you haven't seen it, the coastal car coach makes soundbite history. Meeow.

Rob (9:07 a.m.) So jealous u r up there
Amanda Burkett (10:20 a.m.) My newest pet peeve is the word "yoonie"
Pedro (10:12 a.m.) Tell your wife she's missing out — Auburn is celebrating their national championship team at halftime — their national championship equestrian team

me (10:20 a.m.) Y'all know he was a virgin till he was 28?!
Rob (10:21 a.m.) And now roll tide!
Maguire (10:40 a.m.) And now ... Roll Tide!

Halcombe (10:56 a.m.) Not sure if Desmond or Kirk is more nervous to have a black child in their lap?
Halcombe (10:57 a.m.) And, by his salivating, Lee is dying to have a black child in his lap. None of that sounded right.
Halcombe (10:59 a.m.) A single dude hollered "YEAH!!!" from Ann Arbor Gameday set when Kirk picked Miss. St big over Auburn. Nice to see the Bulldogs represented today. 

Halcombe (11:01 a.m.) Desmond's kid picked "mush-uh-dan" to win. Unsure of their matchup today.
Whit (11:02 a.m.) Best sign at gameday "carson tinker is my hero."
Halcombe (11:02 a.m.) CSS crew pissed over getting Ga. St. game. Can't say I blame them.
Halcombe (11:03 a.m.) Is that an unemployed Bowden on the ACC Blitz?

Jamie (11:04 a.m.) People rushing to see the eagle fly. After 45 times, it has lost that type of appeal
Halcombe (11:06 a.m.) Bad thing about about being Duke kicker: Some guy on your squad will have physics equation on "why u didn't account for wind variance" written on playboard at bench.
Halcombe (11:07 a.m.) Hey, who needs college football, "Australia" starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman is on TNT. Know where you'll find me!

Rob (11:58 a.m.) Au's white middle linebacker must have been benched
Rob (11:59 a.m.) Cheezit has a short sleeve turtleneck on

Whit (1:04 p.m.) Aub trying to be dirtiest bunch of good christian folk on planet. Miss st LT broken leg most likely. 
Rob (1:10 p.m.) Au looks like a different teAm today
Rob (1:12 p.m.) These announcers are so f-in bad I am glad I am usually at the game not having to listen to these morons

Maguire (1:10 p.m.) We'll be fine. Probably a low-scoring game, but we win by 10.

me (1:28 p.m.) "Trust me: it's way louder here than in the SEC." O rly?
Whit (1:29 p.m.) Shenanigans, I say. How long has that person been drinking? Whatever it is, I want some
Maguire (1:33 p.m.) Riiiiight. Good luck with that.

Rob (1:31 p.m.) Um right ...

me (1:57 p.m.) PSU fan, on seeing Jesse Williams, et al: "O sh-t."
Rob (1:59 p.m.) Good thing they didn't see Cody

Rob (2:26 p.m.) Dan Mullen must have been paid off

me (2:10 p.m.) Same guy: "Wait till you see our big slow white guys with really thick legs who can't run with anybody."
Rob (2:13 p.m.) He gonna do stand up at tuscaloosa amphithester

Pedro (2:32 p.m.) I don't know if it's just the white, but WOW there's a lot of crimson

me (2:47 p.m.) One step behind right now.
Rob (2:41 p.m.) Yeah we are getting blown off the ball
Moody (2:51 p.m.) Just flipped over, but Penn state has used all 3 time outs in less than 8 minutes?

me (2:55 p.m.) Probably their best shot right there.

Rob (2:56 p.m.) Yep we figures them out at the end of the drive

Maguire (3:10 p.m.) WOW.
Moody (3:15 p.m.) Auburn's back up safety just earned his scholarship and won auburn a football game.

me (3:39 p.m.) Quieted down in here a good bit.

Maguire (3:41 p.m.) Yeah, after that score I thought "That ought to shut these people up."
Whit (3:43 p.m.) Yeah thought it was louder than sec
Rob (3:44 p.m.) I'll bet our offense and defense will bore u to death

Whit (3:50 p.m.) Fumble
Dad (3:51 p.m.) Fumble
Maguire (3:52 p.m.) I wonder about these refs' competence if they said his knee was down. Our ball, easy.

Maguire (3:52 p.m.) He was never close to the ground. 
Pedro (3:52 p.m.) "His knees were not down. His knees were pointed to heaven when the ball came loose." — Eli

me (4:00 p.m.) Very impressed with McCarron. Very composed.
Maguire (4:26 p.m.) He has showed a lot of poise. No need to air it out now, though.

me (4:11 p.m.) Will be shocked if we put it in the air in the second half.
Rob (4:19 p.m.) Announcer Phillip mccarron leading the tide at halftime

Jamie (4:27 p.m.) Well that was damn fun

me (4:20 p.m.) Bama leading ever first half statistical category except "Awesome Mustaches."
Whit (4:24 p.m.) Well that's a given
Jamie (4:28 p.m.) But the bama goatee more than covers

Pedro (4:42 p.m.) Eli is now blaming the officials for depriving a children's medical facility funding

me (4:43 pm.) Kodi Mandel was an All-SEC freshman last year. Just thought that was worth pointing out.
Rob (4:45 p.m.) I am gonna say he is regressing

Halcombe (4:54 p.m.) Senior citizens cry foul over reduced name font of S. Carolina jerseys. 
Halcombe (4:58 p.m.) Yeah UGA, we know R.E.M. is from Athens but answer me this: How often are you hangin with the gay one? BOOM!

Halcombe (5:00 p.m.) Was that personal or a quick reading of Saban's mind?
Travis P (5:02 p.m.) Jim mc suxs or has ni ball Give malzahn our talent. Forget about scoring under 50. No matter who the head coach is.

Pedro (5:04 p.m.) Todd's taste of the town is painful this week (even more so than usual). It's like us in 20 years talking on national tv @ the diner & crimson cafe

Halcombe (5:08 p.m.) UGA 3rd and 8: incomplete SC 3rd and 13: slant across the middle for 20. Gee, don't know why Richt is catching so much flack?

Travis P (5:09 p.m.) 3rd and 9. Dial that 4 yd screen again. Simply shit you can't do on playstation on retard mode — Bama will try it. Except using the guys on the sideline. 

me (5:29 p.m.) Night night fellas.
Maguire (5:30 p.m.) That'll do it.

Pedro (5:34 p.m.) Guess who's getting the ball? If you don't know, we'll just tell you
Rob (5:38 p.m.) Lots of blue seats

Jamie (5:37 p.m.) South carolina played as bad as they could in the 1st half. And led 14-13.

Maguire (5:59 p.m.) 2-0. Roll Tide.

Jamie (6:10 p.m.) Georgia has derailed
Jamie (6:53 p.m.) Great friggin game
Pedro (7:10 p.m.) In exciting news, Notre Dame Michigan is getting preempted by a game in the SEC's weaker division. Also, Georgia's down at home with 2 left & lost the onsides
Pedro (7:15 p.m.) NOW Spurrier has them kneel on the ball? NOW?!?!?!? Run it up, Steve. Run. It. Up.

Pedro (8:18 p.m.) The Mrs. on Hoke — "I don't know where he's from, but that's the biggest Bubba to walk the sideline since the great Pumpkin himself."
Pedro (8:30 p.m.) More from the Mrs., this time on Notre Dame's socks — "I haven't seen stripey knee-high socks since my brother stopped wearing his star wars ones."

Jack (8:55 p.m.) YEEEEAAAAHHHH
Maguire (8:55 p.m.) Where the gold at?

Monday, September 12, 2011

week 2 thoughts: tradition!

This weekend was like visiting a distant relative. More than a year ago, my wife and I identified this game  — Alabama's trip to State College to take on old foe Penn State — as one of those kinds of games, the kind you're willing to spend a little extra and plan a long way in advance, just to be sure you're there. At the time we were planning, we weren't sure if we'd see Joe Paterno (note: as it turned out, we did not, in fact, see Joe Paterno) but still — how many times in your life will  you get to see Happy Valley up close?

Slowly, those travel plans clicked into motion — our friends David and Kelly Hardin signed up eagerly, and everything fell into place. We were going to Penn State. To see a legendary rivalry renewed.

The diary of the actual road trip — and the parts about pickle sandwiches and other notable things from the road — can wait until later in the week. For now, let's focus on the actual game.

Much like last September, the vibe coming into this edition of the Bama-Penn State series was a little weird. It can't be overstated how excited PSU fans were to have Alabama in town: I don't know if anyone in crimson paid for a drink all weekend. Moreover, very few Nittany Lion fans we talked was willing to give the home team much of a chance. "You guys third string is as good as our first team," one guy said, and he meant it.
Of course, that struck me as an enormous red flag: Not only was our squad about 1,000 miles away from home, it was the first big test for an unproven quarterback corps that frankly looked bad in Week 1. With the historic nature of everything, it seemed like a moment for one of those games that eventually turns into a movie they sell in the campus bookstore.

Instead, Alabama did what it's done in nearly every road test under Nick Saban: Swarmed an inferior opponent with defense, and slowly broke its will on offense. Once Trent Richardson found the end zone just before halftime to make the score 17-3, it was apparent to anyone still watching that Penn State's only real chance was to hope Alabama would beat itself. And it wouldn't.

Some other thoughts ...
— Penn State's campus and stadium are equal parts gorgeous and historic. Maybe my favorite part of the game presentation came prior to the marching band taking the field, when the Lion mascot ran to midfield, put his palms toward the ground ... and quieted the crowd. Then he slowly raised his arms and, section by section, brought the noise level back up. Doesn't sound like much in print; pretty cool in person.
(Note: As much as I enjoyed the stadium, some of the locals overrated the experience slightly. One very young fan I talked to was positive the noise level inside Beaver Stadium would be more than our young quarterbacks could handle, and when I calmly mentioned Tennessee and LSU, he quickly said, "Oh, it's WAY louder here." Ummmmm ... OK.)
— One other subplot from talking to the PSU crowd: The general consensus among nearly everyone is that Joe Paterno — for all he's done for the program, the university (his name is on the library, for God's sake) and college football in general — has the program in a holding pattern as long as he hangs around. It's harder with each passing year to recruit top-flight athletes, and the offensive schemes designed by Jay Paterno and Galen Hall aren't exactly what one might call "imaginative." On Saturday, the lack of a cohesive presence on the sideline — an injured Paterno was in the booth, though he apparently wasn't wearing a headset — forced them to use all three timeouts on the first drive, they stubbornly stuck to a quarterback rotation that is clearly not working and basically gave up in the fourth quarter.  To be fair, this Alabama defense will make most offenses look bad, but Penn State never gave itself a chance.
— So the offensive line did play a little better — wasn't a dominant performance by any stretch, but the opponent was much improved as well. Worth noting: In addition to the continuity at the quarterback spot, Alabama played essentially the same five people on the line all day (Vlachos, Steen, Warmack, Jones and Fluker). Which is probably our best five, even if the mere mention of "continuity" apparently upsets coach Saban.
— Very little can be said about A.J. McCarron's performance that hasn't already been said. Easily the most important thing he did all day was NOT turn the ball over, since, as we established, Penn State wasn't going to beat us unless we gave it away. Since I have to be the pessimist about everything (apparently), allow me to point out the passing game, at least for the moment, is pretty horizontal. And for some reason, we had 3-4 passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. No idea why.
— Don't know if it's obvious on television, but one of the things that made Mark Ingram special was his ability to cut so well. As big and fast as Trent Richardson is, he doesn't make the same kind of decisive cuts as Mark, and often costs himself big play opportunities as a result.
— If Marquis Maze fields another punt inside his own 5, my father will have a coronary episode. Do you want that, Marquis? Do you?
— While we're here, we might as well address the fake punt. I'm all for going for the first down there — the way our defense was playing, the short fields weren't hurting us, and we should be able to make an inch when we need it. That said, I don't know why you bother faking the punt. Why not just line up and go at them? Seems like a waste is all.
— The issue on defense, as OTS notes, continues to be pressuring the passer. If this team cannot affect the quarterback better than it did Saturday, it will cost us a game. No secondary in the world can cover for 7 seconds every play.
Which reminds me: Arkansas is very quietly scoring at exactly the same pace it did last year, as it prepares to come to Tuscaloosa in two weeks. Which means everybody's focus has to shift and shift quickly.
That's the lousy thing about history: Now that it's over, it's well, history.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday tube on Thursday: Happiness Valley

Some of Alabama's most memorable moments from the 1980s happened in State College, Pa., for better or worse.
For a comprehensive retrospective of the rivalry between Bama and Penn State, read this awesome post at Black Shoe Diaries (h/t to the guys at RBR who pitched in to make it awesome ... I think I ticked them off earlier with a comment I made, but the piece is terrific). For now, let's focus on Bama's trips to Penn State in the 1980s.
First, there was the monumental victory in 1981, in which coach Bryant tied Amos Alonzo Stagg with his 314th win, highlighted by another goal line stand.
A mere two years later, coach Bryant was gone, and Ray Perkins had his first trip to Happy Valley basically stolen from him.
Perkins never beat Penn State, and left after 1986. His successor, Bill Curry, did much better vs. the Nittanies, starting with Bobby Humphrey's breakout performance in 1987.
And, then, of course, there was the Desperation Block.
So we're off to Happy Valley again this Saturday, ready to see coach Paterno and make another memory or two.

when is a fluke not really a fluke?

I do have some thoughts on the (apparently inevitable) addition of Texas A&M as the Southeastern Conference's 13th member, even one really crazy idea of how to reinvent the SEC schedule by dumping division play entirely. But that can wait. Right now I want to talk about Gene Chizik.

When something happens once, and then that same thing continues happening over and over again, it's hard to believe that thing is a coincidence. This is true of life and of college football. Certain things keep happening over and over again and it's hard to believe they won't keep happening.
This is why, for example, Alabama had to fire Mike Shula after 2006: it became obvious to anyone who had watched his teams those four seasons that the program was what it was and wasn't going to be anything different (John Madden would appreciate that sentence). It's also why Georgia is most likely going to say goodbye to Mark Richt when the season is over — there's no "getting better" for the program at this point. What you see is what you get.
And I guess the reason I'm bringing this is up is this: I don't think Gene Chizik is a very good defensive coach.
(Cue the "Bammer blogger is a homer hater Chiz is the man!!!! herp derp derp derp derp") 

Believe me, I'm not overreacting to what happened Saturday vs. Utah State. There were multiple reasons for that — Auburn is a young defensive team, it was an early kickoff, Utah State is probably better than anyone realized, and so forth.
Just hear me out on this: As of this week, Gene Chizik's Auburn is averaging giving up 374 yards per game, and right around 5.3 yards per play. By contrast, the final two Auburn teams of the Tommy Tuberville tenure — including the putrid 5-6 team that ushered in Tuberville's ouster — surrendered just over 307 yards per game, and 4.7 yards per play.
It goes beyond that, though. As an Alabama fan, I've been watching a Nick Saban-coached defense since 2007 now, and I can tell you with some assurance that Saban's Alabama teams are rarely out of position and do not miss tackles. These things were true even during Saban's first season, when his best defensive lineman was Wallace Gilberry. That 2007 defense was pretty sieve-like, actually, giving up 345 yards per game and 5 yards per play and yielding over 400 yards of offense three times, to Arkansas, Houston and LSU. The following season: 263.5 yards per game, 4.3 yards per play and zero 400-yard games.
It makes sense that the defense would get better in Year 2 under a head coach: The coach has a full offseason to implement his schemes, he's been able to recruit more of his type at various positions, he's more used to the teams on his schedule, so he knows what works and what doesn't. Teams should generally improve in Year 2 for a new head coach.
Auburn's defense in Year 2 under Gene Chizik got worse.
Now here's where it gets weird: Chizik is a career defensive assistant, someone who even won the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach at Auburn in 2004. This is where the "Ted Roof is a bad DC" argument breaks down; it seems as though Chizik, like Saban, would be the guy ultimately in charge of the defense, and thus ultimately responsible for its performance.
In fact, Chizik's boss at Auburn, Tommy Tuberville, was always culpable for the performance of the defense at Auburn; at Media Days in 2005, after Chizik was gone and David Gibbs had taken over, Tuberville stated flatly that the AU defense would be pretty much the same. "We run MY system," he said. And it is true: during Tuberville's tenure, Auburn's defensive ranking never really fluctuated much up or down, regardless of who was the official "defensive coordinator."

Just for the heck of it, I looked up the stats for Chizik's teams at Iowa State: in 2007, the 3-9 Cyclones gave up 390 yards per game (not great, but respectable) and an incredible 5.8 yards per play (almost exactly his team's numbers at Auburn thus far). In Year 2 — again, the year where you'd expect them to make a leap forward — Iowa State (2-10) surrendered 451 yards per game (schnikes) and an incredible 6.7 yards per play. In the Big XII North, in which they played neither Texas nor Oklahoma.
"But wait," you (and I) say. "This doesn't make sense. Hasn't Chiz been part of two national championship teams (and one that probably should've won one)? Isn't the whole point of coaching to win games?"
And the answer is yes, of course it is. But as long as we're being perfectly candid, we should note that those two national championship teams — 2005 Texas and 2010 Auburn — were offensive scoring machines. The '05 Longhorns — led by transcendent quarterback Vince Young — failed to score 40 points only once all season (in a comeback win over Ohio State). In fact, that Texas team scored 50 points three times that year, 60 points three times that year and even broke 70 vs. Colorado in the conference title game.
If you think that sounds familiar, that's because the '10 Auburn squad was almost that good: led by Cam Newton (an undeniable force of nature), the Tigers rang up 50 points six times (not counting the 49-point effort vs. Georgia) and hung 65 on Arkansas (Auburn gave up 43 points that day and still won by the three touchdowns).

Now, here's where I have to give credit where it's due: Chizik's defenses, for all their statistical woes, do seem to rise to the occasion when it matters. In the aforementioned 2005 Rose Bowl national championship, it was the Texas defense that stoned USC on a fourth-down try near midfield to give its offense a chance to win the game (and then stopped them again on the final drive). And we've documented previously in this space what Auburn's defense did at key intervals during last year's run.
Nevertheless, it's no longer a shock to see Gene Chizik's teams playing poorly on defense. Apparently that's just the way it is. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

gameday texts: Labor Day weekend

My new favorite feature of the blog that emerged last year: Gameday Texts, in which I share the best and most hilarious text messages I receive from the world's most hilarious collection of friends. In the opening edition, the time frame spans the entire Labor Day weekend, beginning Thursday night. As always the time stamps and names that appear to the left of the texts is exactly as it appeared on my phone. Also, all are [sic]'d.
With that, please to enjoy.

Rob (6:29 p.m.) R u ready for some football!
Maguire (6:49 p.m.) That's what folks get for taking Thursday night classes.
Pedro (6:50 p.m.) And here's to finance committee meetings.
Audra (7:23 p.m.) Beer just tastes better during football season.
Dad (7:33 p.m.) ... woo

Halcombe (8:36 p.m.) These Sony 3D glasses make Dr. Lou's froth appear to hit me in the ... Wait a minute ... That's real slobber on my nose ... What the ...?

Jamie (11:15 p.m.) At least we're not as bad as Kentucky.

Halcombe (10:41 a.m.) If Fairy Deion floated in front of my 3-year-old, he get called "Chinese." We have a bit of a fixation, as I'm sure Fairy Deion has with the Asians.
Pedro (12:39 p.m.) Best billboard on 65 — Be AUM-azing. Too bad Terry Bowden left AU. I bet that was on the short list for the season themes.

Maguire (6:07 p.m.) Sorry, Jay. When we're done with them, I hope their mothers don't recognize them.

 Dad (7:01 p.m.) Do not get in a fight.

Rob (7:02 p.m.) Baylor kids running on the field got run over that was some good hitting!
Dad (8:16 p.m.) Baylor and tcu combined for 50 points with 11 mins to go in second period

Dad (8:33 p.m.) Preachers!!
Dad (9:25 p.m.) A positive gain as opposed to what?
Jamie (9:26 p.m.) Apparently andy daulton played defense for tcu as well
Jamie (9:35 p.m.) Is this what experts call a "curb stomp"?

Dad (9:57 p.m.) Preachers inherited a bunch of it
Pedro (10:22 p.m.) Maybe the "you run faster when chased by someone twice your size" theory is why I got beat in distance running

Pedro (10:30 p.m.) How badly does Baylor want to lose this game? I under the "be proud of your school tradition" concept, but some traditions, like losing, might best be lost Whit (10:34 p.m.) Baylor need a full timeout or a thirty?
D. Hardin (10:35 p.m.) This TCU/bayler game is awesome!

me Les Miles says to run the fake.
Whit (10:44 p.m.) Les Miles doesn't know howe much is on the clock
Whit (10:49 p.m.) How is no one being penalized for improper equipment?

me Les still says to run the fake.
Whit (10:56 p.m.) Here les, play with this
Jamie (10:57 p.m.) Baylor fans empty the stands, cover 30 yards of the field
Pedro (10:58 p.m.) Actually, Les still doesn't know the game's over

Whit (2:36 a.m.) Guy in breezeway wearing santonio beard jersey. Yeah, that's right.
Whit (6:49 a.m.) Smells like victory

Jamie (9:04 a.m.) So the midget on the new gameday intro through me for a loop
Maguire (9:06 a.m.) Yes sir. Please stay away from my ci-tay.

Jamie (9:23 a.m.) Well some guys did get some free tats and all. Only so much air time to talk about off the field issues
Travis P (9:27 a.m.) At houndstooth. Just seen two great quotes on the wall. "Taylor Arnold has a mangina" - nick Sanan. The second. "Updike kicks ass"
Jamie (9:36 a.m.) That's RG3 to you pal

Jamie (11:00 a.m.) I might smother troop with that towel
Moody (11:15 a.m.) By the way. One of my bosses at work started talking about their tailgate friends in auburn that were from opelika. Had some crazy sons that all the time and where just all around nice folks. Yep, it was OD. I told them to tell them hey for me.
Moody (11:17 a.m.) I also told them about the "no limit" cows in cusseta and our talk with the wardens.

Maguire (11:20 a.m.) Here we go ... ROLL TIDE ROLL!
Pedro (11:27 a.m.) Kirby Smart's not laying many expectations on the D — "I hope we're the best defense to ever play at Alabama"
Rob (11:36 a.m.) Ugly drive
Travis P (11:46 a.m.) Maze. That's all here.

Travis P (11:46 a.m.) Wow. Next week is gonna rule.
D. Hardin (11:58 a.m.) Who do you think is uglier? Phil Sims or $ulio?

Jamie (12:17 p.m.) Utah state brought the entire black population in the state of utah. All 800

Maguire (12:41 p.m.) Their d-line ain't bad.
D. Hardin (12:49 p.m.) Yeah ... got blistered on that call
Rob (12:51 p.m.) Phew this is a rough game

Audra (12:57 p.m.) If he were to pat you on your back, you would list it on your resume — stay thirsty my friends 

Pedro (1:22 p.m.) If Auburn loses today, how many games you reckon they win this year?
Rob (1:43 p.m.) Of course all in
Maguire (2:08 p.m.) I bet RBR will have a good meltdown thread this week.
Travis P (2:08 p.m.) AGGIES!!!
Dad (2:09 p.m.) May not be over yet

Maguire (2:18 p.m.) Must have been a God thing. I forgot He was on their side.

Rob (3:38 p.m.) All in
Jamie (3:39 p.m.) Then we had to go and win and probably picked up a few rats instead of dropping
Jamie (3:41 p.m.) Its the unmatched youth mixed with sub par defensive coordinator

Jamie (3:47 p.m.) Did ole miss fans forget about today?
Jamie (3:53 p.m.) When I thought bob davie couldn't say anything more retarded ...
Maguire (3:53 p.m.) They're not turning out for BYU? That's not exactly Utah State.

Halcombe (5:30 p.m.) NBC has nothing better to air than last year's Utah-ND game? What, couldn't throw out an old 30 Rock or that episode of the Office where Jim gets Dwight?

Halcombe (5:35 p.m.) How many Ole Miss players have violated BYU's Honor Code ... since last night?
Halcombe (5:44 p.m.) Who's feeling more awkward right now: The 23 mormons in the stands or the 3 black dudes who have to fly back to Provo?

Halcombe (5:48 p.m.) Papa John, gotta say, after eating not 1 ... not 2 ... not 3 ... but five slices that my interest in your "zero grams trans fat" statement is minimal at best.

Halcombe (5:52 p.m.) Craig James: That WMU QB acts like he's been locked in a supply closet.
Halcombe (6:02 p.m.) AMC's answer to the start of college football season? Lonesome Dove marathon.
Jamie (6:32 p.m.) Well then
Rob (6:36 p.m.) The only way!
Travis P (6:35 p.m.) That's nutty.

Jamie (6:43 p.m.) 4th and 10 and a pass behind the LOS. Gasp
Jamie (6:51 p.m.) Call a draw, Houston
Jamie (6:53 p.m.) Face palm

Whit (6:53 p.m.) Davies is awwwwwwful
Maguire (6:54 p.m.) Les Miles and Houston Nutt may have had a "Freaky Friday"-style switchup.
Jamie (7:05 p.m.) Ladies and gentlemen your new head football coach at the u of mississippi, gus malzahn

Halcombe (6:58 p.m.) Did UGA leave SEC for AF2?
Jamie (7:09 p.m.) The battle of the: my uni is worse than yours

Jamie (7:14 p.m.) How the f do you lose a shoe by downing a kickoff?
Jamie (7:18 p.m.) Ga playing like they are the ones with 6,000 in the stands
Halcombe (7:21 p.m.) Are these jerseys supposed to be an interpretation of football in the future ala Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a 1/2 century?

Rob (7:46 p.m.) They r inspired by glee 
Halcombe (7:53 p.m.) I still think the UGA-Boise game is the beginning to Ah-nold's The Sixth Day. My only question is, which QB is going to be the one cloned? 

Dad (9:17 p.m.) Lotta people named Georgia in red tonight 

Whit (7:27 p.m.) Ecu loves to beat cocks

Halcombe (7:28 p.m.) Boise radio team: No. 11 Georgia incomplete pass to No. 7 Georgia. Wait a second. We'll be right back after this commercial break.
Halcombe (7:31 p.m.) All those people cheering behind Evander are his illegitimate children. Even the white ones.
Halcombe (7:45 p.m.) Imagine next week if UGA does happen to win. The only thing worse than a UGA fan would be Will Ferrell in Kicking and Screaming. MORE COFFEE!!!

Halcombe (7:52 p.m.) Okay, Boise fans, fair and boo your o-lineman for holding up Kellen and the no-huddle


Rob (8:10 p.m.) These games are a comedy if retard

Rob (8:24 p.m.) Brent is dumb
Maguire (8:25 p.m.) Remember, Brent's not very bright.

Rob (8:59 p.m.) Georgia ygbkm
Halcombe (9:04 p.m.) Des, went a little crazy with that clothing allowance didn't we?

Maguire (9:05 p.m.) Reality sets back in in Columbia.

Halcombe (9:10 p.m.) That look of befuddlement shows Richt and the Dogs are in mid-season form already in game 1.

Dad (9:32 p.m.) SEC looking great today ... huh?
Maguire (9:32 p.m.) Uga's letting us down.
D. Hardin (9:35 p.m.) LSU helping the soeaco but GA is killing us

Maguire (9:51 p.m.) Take your medicine, go back to the PAC-12, and quitcherbitchin'!
Whit (10:13 p.m.) Did he seriously compare tropical storm lee to jarrett lee?

Jamie (2:45 p.m.) Nice camera work to stay honed in on the west f****n virginia shirt

Halcombe (3:06 p.m.) HE ... IS ... TRON Livin' ... for the sit-aaaayy ...
Halcombe (4:14 p.m.) When is Subway going to own up and admit that the Angus Steak is a microwaved hamburger on a hoagie?

Halcombe (10:05 a.m.) Weather Channel producer: Jim, put your hands on your hips to show off your guns and lose the hat. Ladies LOVE your bald self. Oh yeah, and give Local on the 8s
Pedro (1:43 p.m.) Vacation notes — day 4 "now's when I really miss Stacey, cause she'd have the alcohol and right now I'm needing some

Dad (6:59 p.m.) Oh great ... underarmor strikes again.
Maguire (7:07 p.m.) Those might be the worst uniforms ever, for anything.
Pedro (7:27 pm.) The Mrs. — "worst. Uniforms. Ever." The Miss — "nnnooooo"
Halcombe (7:44 p.m.) Maryland has a state flag?
Pedro (8:06 p.m.) These unis remind me of having a surrealist hippie doing wardrobe for a football movie — "I don't care what year it is, you don't wear that to play."

Dad (8:15 p.m.) When you dominate and don't score ...
Bart (8:16 p.m.) Maryland's coach: did an Auburn frat pledge win a contest?*
* — He meant Miami's coach.

Halcombe (8:19 p.m.) We're still trying to figure out if we'll see a bunch of dolphins or George Washington in that Magic Maze jersey.
Maguire (8:24 p.m.) I saw a schooner, a sailboat and even some them big-tittie mermaids doing some of that lesbian $hit.

Dad (9:14 p.m.) They think they are number 1.
Halcombe (9:15 p.m.) Scary thing is Kyle Busch has done every one of the things listed in that commercial.

Monday, September 5, 2011

week 1 thoughts: a long time coming

The handful of you who read this blog regularly may have noticed I didn't post a great deal of content during August, the time of year when things normally pick back up around here in anticipation of the new season. The truth was, I really didn't have many ideas for blog posts.
 The other truth: I almost gave up on college football this offseason.

The offseason is always interminable, what with all the fan chatter, accusing the other side of cheating in recruiting and holding your breath that none of your players get arrested. But you have to admit: this offseason was the worst of the worst in every regard. Not only did every college football fan spend January-August discussing NCAA probation, player arrests and conference realignment — just for good measure, we endured the worst natural disaster in the history of our state, cutting right through the heart of my adopted home county and my home away from home in Tuscaloosa. The offseason went from being just interminable; it was tragic.
The thing is, sports are supposed to be fun. We started playing sports because they were fun. We go to games because they're supposed to be fun. We watch games on TV because they're fun.
At least, that's what I used to think. Nothing that's happened since January that was football-related has been any fun. And as much as I'd like to put it all aside now that the games are back, so much has happened, I'm not sure if it's possible. I'm not sure if I'm ready to just be a regular football fan again.
(Wow. This is a lame way to start a season-opening post.)

The opener itself was, of course, exactly what it was supposed to be: a routine opener against an overmatched opponent in front of a capacity crowd. There wasn't one moment where Alabama even appeared to be in danger. In short, it was classic Alabama football in the Nick Saban Era.
Considering what Auburn, South Carolina and Kentucky went through in Week One, that in itself is pretty important.
Other thoughts from the game ...
— Depending on who you read, the quarterback race was either decided in favor of A.J. McCarron Saturday, or very little was decided in the game. In truth, very little from any aspect of our offense was terribly overwhelming. Bama benefited from short fields three different times in the first half, that resulted in 17 points. That's the benefit of playing opposite an outstanding defense, as well as a special teams unit that set us up with ideal field position.
— Other positive things from the offense: the wide receiver corps is much better than I was willing to admit in preseason, whether Duron Carter shows up or not. And, of course, there's the play of Eddie Lacy, which excited Andre Ware so much that he was already comparing Bama's current backfield to the Ingram/Richardson combo from 2009-10 (settle down, Andre).
— Having said nice things about the offense, let us also dwell on the negative: the offensive line got absolutely worked for a good portion of the first half, and we never established a dominant ground presence. To be fair, it was difficult to tell on television how much Alabama played its starters up front, and which plays were the province of the backups. Nevertheless, it's a little disconcerting.
— Jim McElwain still throws the ball too damned much.

— Defensively, obviously, was the biggest story coming out of Saturday. The Tide looks downright dominant up front, has speed to burn and the secondary seemed to play with that nasty edge that the '09 team had. Secondary play is one of the toughest things to evaluate for non-football aficionados, but Alabama's DBs look ready.
— Marquis Maze's exploits in the return game were a big boost, as well. This will make me sound like John Madden, but when you can start drives closer to the other team's end zone, it's much easier to score touchdowns.

— In the second half Saturday, the ESPN sideline reporter highlighted a "great Alabama tradition" because her bosses needed her to justify her salary, apparently. Anyway, the "tradition" she chose to highlight was the Million Dollar Band's playing of Green Day's "Basket Case" at the end of every third quarter.
By itself, this isn't objectionable. I love Alabama's playing of the classic tune, and used to call for it as a student when the third quarter ended. What I found curious was the reporter's assertion that the MDB has been observing the tradition "since 1987," even though the song wasn't released until 1994.
Nice job, interns.
— One more thing before we go: it can't be overstated how much respect and admiration we have for the Kent State football squad, many of whom ventured down to Tuscaloosa to help rebuild in the wake of the storms. Their players received an ovation when they took the field, and didn't hear "Rammer Jammer" when the game ended, out of respect. At the end of the day, it's just football. We all have to live together when it's over, win or lose.

And with that, it's time to think about traveling to Penn State. Time marches on.