If some of those names seem strangely familiar, click here. Or watch this.
So maybe this is something worth paying attention to, for better or worse.
(We'll talk when it's over.)
If some of those names seem strangely familiar, click here. Or watch this.
So maybe this is something worth paying attention to, for better or worse.
The girls from Tuscaloosa continued their winning streak vs. Auburn on Friday, with a narrow victory in front of a record crowd at the Auburn Arena. Really the winner isn't as important as the number of points scored — in the latest rankings (updated last week), our girls were actually rated 7th based on average points scored.
Politicians: They're not really your friend, you know
Here’s the best way I know to describe politics in this country.We’ve all — or, I should say, most of us — been to one of those restaurants where the quality of the food was secondary to, um, the ambience. I’m probably not bound by any rules that keep me from actually calling these establishments by name, but just to be safe, let’s be intentionally vague.In any case, most likely you know what I mean. The servers are almost uniformly young women, almost uniformly what our society might call “attractive,” and all dressed in a way that accentuates their, um, attributes. Which is the whole point of having the restaurant in the first place.(Note: This is somewhat uncomfortable. And it’s about to get worse.)In addition to their dress code, many of these girls apparently are coached — I say “apparently” because I have no idea what actually goes on in management meetings — to, for lack of a better term, flirt with their customers. The theory, of course, being that their customers (mostly middle-aged men) are likely to stay longer and tip more if they feel they’re receiving special attention from a young lady. So they use terms of endearment (“honey” and such as that) and attempt to strike up awkward conversations (“You’re an Alabama fan? No way, me too!”).All of this is in place, of course, to mask the fact that the food is mediocre on its best days, the drinks are lukewarm and the seats are uncomfortable. Way too many guys (metaphorically) eat this up, unfortunately.Here’s why I’m bringing this up: If you aren’t aware these things are taking place, and if you’re starved for attention, you could very easily delude yourself into thinking these ladies have a genuine interest in you as a person. They do not. They have a genuine interest in you as a customer with money to spend, and nothing more. The relationship begins and ends with the check.I think about this sometimes as it relates to politics. Thankfully, most of our politicians don’t wear the scanty attire. But they are masters of the other part: pretend to empathize with regular people’s problems, reassure them that you can solve their woes … make them think you care about them beyond just the election.It’s a game as old as democracy itself. But it’s just that: a sham. A politician’s empathy for his constituents goes as far as the next election. They’re not going home with you to meet the family; even if they do, they’re only staying long enough to take a photo and move on.Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the restaurant experience. At least with the restaurant I get some cold cheese fries.
Whit: I think we ARE a better team this year than we were at this time last year. The main reason I feel this way is because I think Coach Grant is about to "find our identity as a team." I think that he's doing a great job using the entire bench to play disciplined defense, and hustle from tip to final horn. I also like the fact that he'll yank people who aren't doing their job out of the game and put somebody else in who will. I think that our shooting as a whole has been poor for quite some time. The guys seem like they shoot the ball well, like most people, when they have a chance to set their feet. I realize that's not rocket science, and everybody knows that but we just don't seem to be getting our feet set at all when we shoot the ball...especially not from 3. And much like 20-year-old kids, they get upset when they miss shots and don't play defense.me: And then there's Tony Mitchell, who is the most athletic and has the lowest basketball IQ of anybody on the squad. And he may actually be regressing as a player.
Whit: Ah...Mr. Mitchell...where do we start? You are the most athletic and most exciting player that Alabama has right now. You are actually a pretty good shooter, too. However, you are by far the laziest defender we have. You're moody, You make poor decisions, and then You walk down the court as the rest of your teammates bust their rumps to play defense!me: What's our best 5 right now? On Saturday in Kentucky, we played a crunch-time 5 of Releford, Randolph, Lacey, Steele (because Tony Mitchell fouled out) and Green/Jacobs — basically, a 4-guard lineup that allowed us to run more. And it would've worked, but we couldn't stop fouling them (particularly, Steele's foul on the jump shooter at about the :40 mark was a killer).
** The best thing that Tony can do as a player right now is to lose some of his emotion. Most of his problems are mental because he seems to think that he's the only scoring option on the court when he plays. If he doesn't get such a big head and try to do things that are ridiculous (i.e. standing still next to the ball handler for 5 seconds calling for the ball, then get the ball, and then take a contested three pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock) he can play well and function as part of what should be a fun team to watch.
** To add to that, all of Alabama's players need to be passionate about the game they're playing but they need to play the game like a business in order to find the success they/we want. We seem to always follow the momentum of the game, and with every ebb and flow, so goes our play.
Whit: Releford, Lacey, Randolph, Green, Jacobs. -- I think we should start games with this kind of lineup and run some of the high post stuff that Bama ran under (ohgoddon'tsayit) Gottfried. We had Davidson and Hendrix at the time, and they were able to beat some people up at the beginning of games with a lot of that kind of action.me: If we make it in the tournament, you think we have a shot to do anything?
• Releford, Steele, Randolph, Mitchell, Green -- I like this lineup to run with and because Steele provides some leadership and solid decision making on the court at all times. He also tends to be the old guy in the gym who knows when to attack and get fouled, when to sag out and be open for a three, and when to calm everybody else down. I think Randolph will come along as the season goes. I really like him because he has a good looking shot and has the rebounding capability to cause problems underneath. (Maybe post him up and clear out with undersized defenders?)
Whit: I think that we'll make the tournament and win one or two. As we all know, Alabama can get hot shooting the ball and blow some people out. We also know that they can make 0 3s for a game, be completely deflated, and quit before it's over. I hope that they can catch fire shooting the ball at the right time.
And, of course, there's the 2011 version, which turned out to be little more than a great road trip.
It turned out to be the last loss for Joe Paterno as a head coach. I'm not sure how to feel about that, really.
A 90,000-student university does not rise out of the hills of the Alleghenies without an anchor point, and a tragedy like the Jerry Sandusky scandal does not happen without an institution to shelter it. Build a pyramid around a live pharaoh, and you have a palace. Have the pharaoh die, and it becomes a tomb.My memories of Paterno will always be affected by two things: That he kept Penn State football in a holding pattern for the last 8-10 years of his career (because he was afraid he would die if he quit) and ... well, you know.
Careful with the name; it could be tricky
I don’t consider my own name to be particularly difficult. It’s just two syllables — three if you’re a real Southerner and like to draw out words (“Weeuhhhlll”).
Nevertheless, I go lots of places and find that people tend to confuse my given name and my family name.
“Heath,” I often hear. “Get over here.”
Eventually, people will realize their mistake and apologize.
“I just realize I’ve been calling you by your last name. Sorry about that, Bill.”
I learned to live with it. After all, I played football in high school and there’s a certain camaraderie in being addressed only by your surname.
“Gawdamighty knows, Heath. You can’t do no better than that?”
There are worse things to be called, I suppose. Only last week in New Orleans, I was called everything from “Tiger Bait” to “Crimson” to “redneck,” to a bunch of other words I can’t print (and can barely pronounce). It was a welcome change when we made it back so I could pick up my shirts from the cleaners, and received a new name from the lady behind the counter.
“Just one minute, sweetheart … What can I help you with, sweetheart? … Is this all you need, sweetheart? … You have a nice day, sweetheart.”
A pleasant change, if only for a few minutes.
Most everyone I know has, at some point in life, dealt with an unflattering nickname, or just a name they got stuck with.
The head football coach at Clemson University, for example, is an Alabama kid whose given name is William Christopher Swinney. At some point in his youth, however, his brother referred to him simply as “That Boy,” only when he said it, it came out “Dabo.” And so now, he holds a high-profile job and makes seven figures every year … and most of the world knows him only as “Dabo.”
As familiar to local football fans is young Quintorris Jones, from Foley. You probably think his name is “Julio.” I don’t blame you — and, in all likelihood, neither does he — for not knowing that; Julio is much easier to spell.
And now that I’m in the business of writing for a living — meager though it is — I’m apparently as guilty of giving out false names as anyone else. Not so long ago, I was at a meeting where a lady from St. Vincent’s Health System came up to shake my hand.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to do this,” she said. “I’m the PR gerbil for St. Vincent’s.”
Oops. Guess that one’s on me.
“Um … nice to meet you?”
For Bobby Hebert: the reason LSU did not drive the ball down the field in the vertical passing game was because Alabama sat deep all night with two safeties and the combination of the physical coverage on the outside by the cornerbacks and the strength of the pass rush up front forced short, quick throws and did not allow either the time or the gaps in coverage on the back end to allow for deep throws of any reasonable chance of success. I would have assumed a former NFL-quarterback-turned-expert-analyst -- well, sort of -- would have figured that out from the press box, but apparently not. Consider that one on the house, Cajun Cannon.LSU fans will, of course, spend the rest of the offseason wondering why Les Miles and his offensive staff (apparently) never gave Jarrett Lee a shot, the first "DNP" for No. 12 all season. I can only say, I have no idea. But it might have something to do with Lee's stat line during his November outing against this defense: 3-7-2, 24 yards.
Believing in Birmingham in new year
Every new year starts out with the promise of comebacks, and people believing that this is the year — no, seriously, this is the year.
Underdogs, after all, are the ones that are the most fun to cheer. That’s why we always attempt to make our team the underdog, even when it’s patently absurd (whichever team wins the Super Bowl, you can guarantee that those players will pretend they were overlooked all season).
The same goes for cities. Believe it or not, part of me is actually rooting for the city of Birmingham in 2012.
Believe me, I know it’s more than fashionable to poke fun at the Magic City these days. In my business, it’s more than fashionable; it’s almost a requirement.
And I can understand why — frankly, Birmingham makes it hard to root for it. Whether it’s seeing many influential leaders carted off to jail, or just ineptly bungling some sort of economic development project, the city often appears to have achieved that rare balance between corruption and complete ineptitude.
In a way, it’s so ugly it’s almost adorable.
Beyond that, it seems most of us around the city — particularly in the suburbs and even here at home in St. Clair County — have either lost faith that anything good can happen in Birmingham, or are openly rooting against anything good happening there. The reasons for this are myriad, of course — some of it’s probably based on old racial prejudices — but mostly it’s because we’ve watched the same movie way too many times.
Birmingham has chances. Birmingham can’t figure out how to exploit those chances. Birmingham stays where it is, while the rest of the world passes by.
Sports fans are often like this. Watching the famous documentary about Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series — when the star-crossed Chicago Cubs famously lost a two-run lead and eventually the entire season in the span of 30 minutes or so — you could tell how the long-suffering Cub fans approached the moment. “I’m celebrating now; I don’t believe we’re really going to win; now something bad has happened, and I know we’re going to lose. I hate myself for thinking we were going to win in the first place.”
Even so, these star-crossed franchises can’t stay down forever, right? The Red Sox did win the World Series in 2004, didn’t they? It’s not impossible, is it?
So I’m rooting for the city in 2012. I’m foolishly optimistic. I believe the city can solve its transportation woes; I believe some sports and entertainment can make downtown vibrant again; I think the populace can elect competent leaders who don’t rob the city blind and put a stain on everything good that’s happening there.
And I may be wrong about 2012. It might be business as usual in Birmingham. But the great thing about New Years: there’s always that chance that this is the year.
Halcombe (7:32 p.m.) What Tebow will say: I want to thank God and my teammates. What Tebow will be thinking: Eff you. Eff you. Eff you. And ... yes, eff you.
Whit (10:37 p.m.) Saban really excited. Welcomed gatorade shower. He's kinda pink now
It's so good, it's unwatchable*. All season long, watching the Crimson Tide has been like watching a boa constrictor slowly squeezing the life out of a mouse. By the fourth quarter of this game, with LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson clearly reeling from a combination of pressure and frustration, you could have also compared it to watching lions team up on a wounded gazelle. There's no artistry to it. It's not designed for your viewing pleasure. It's just a pride closing in for the kill.* Here I note that television ratings for Monday night's game were predictably abysmal. In an alternate universe, Oklahoma State would've played in the game, been blown out and still no one would have watched.
In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season. At best, the Crimson Tide can only pull even. In which case a split crown is not only possible, but preferable — you know, if every game counts. If BCS commissioner Bill Hancock really believed that cliché, he'd take advantage of an Alabama win by inviting both teams to share the postgame stage and congratulate them on fighting to a season-long draw. Since he can't do that, maybe the AP will.In short, it seems like a no-win situation. (Except for me, since I've had blacked fish, jambalaya, red beans and rice, beignets and gumbo in the last two days. I'm doing OK.)
The fact, however, is that the time for debate is over. Two tremendous teams are poised to play. A million words were written and spoken about this matchup in November. A hundred million, it seems, have been written or spoken in the past week in New Orleans.Thank God. And Roll Tide.
Finally, they don't matter.