Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas from Dell

I got this wild hair and decided to order my wife a laptop for Christmas, so I called Dell. I bought my last computer from them about 10 years ago (yep, still running Win 98) and it has been a good one.

I placed the order over the telephone with a person who spoke great English and had a great personality. It only took me about 10 minutes to spend $1100 with him. It was December 3, 2:30 pm, and my laptop was to be shipped on December 14. My last bit of Christmas shopping was complete.

As soon as I hung up the telephone, I realized that I could have gotten a larger hard drive for an additional $25, so I called back. I punched all of the required buttons on the automated part of the call and finally got a live person. Unfortunately, there was a language barrier and I eventually had to hang up the phone.

I immediately dialed Dell again, punched the necessary buttons, and got another person. This time, we not only had a language barrier, but there was alot of static on the line. I figured that this must be a very long-distance call...maybe to India. I could understand this person better than the first, but not well enough to discuss upgrades and prices. Out of fear of a misunderstanding that may result in my upgrading the wrong part or accidentally purchasing two laptops, I politely hung up the phone again.

Third time is the charm they say, and on the third attempt at calling Dell, I got someone that spoke better English. He confirmed that my upgrade would only be $25, but my new ship date would be December 19. I asked him how I could have lost 5 days of shipping on an order that was placed less than an hour ago, and then I explained to him that the order would have only been about 5 minutes old had I been connected to America and to someone who could speak English on my first call. My plea fell on deaf ears and in the end, I was assured that my laptop would arrive in time for Christmas. I guess I should have confirmed that we were both refering to Christmas of 2007.

On December 20, I called the toll free line to check my order status and the automated thing said it was still in the build phase. I had to dial a different number to get a live person, but not until I punched all the right buttons on the automated portions of the call. This person said that some parts were on backorder, but the laptop should be shipped by December 31.

I asked him what Dell was going to do about this poor service and he said that he could rush shipping. I told him that I expected that anyway since I had been assured on December 3 that I would receive this by Christmas. I asked him about a rebate or other reparations and he said that there was nothing that he could do, but I could cancel my order if I wanted. I asked him had he rather lose the whole sale instead of just a hundred bucks of it. He said that he could not give me a discount or anything else.

I asked him to guarantee that it would be shipped by the 31st, but he could not. He did say that Dell has an "order control team", or something like that, that would call me if it was not going to be shipped on time. I asked him at what point did this "team" kick in and do their jobs because no one had bothered to call me to tell me it was going to be late the first time. He said that they did this after it was late twice. Awesome team, I thought.

Then, this guy said that he could transfer me to the "build" department and get them to delete the upgrade that I had ordered and that might save me some time. Now, this was the stupidest thing that I have ever heard and I told him so. Here's why: if they are working on my computer, then this would be another change and my date would be delayed even more for the revision. If they are not working on my computer, then I guess it could save me some time, but if they are not working on it, why did this upgrade cost me 5 days in the beginning, less than an hour after I ordered it?

He did not have an answer, we ended our conversation, I did a little shopping, and thought a little about everything that had transpired. If they do not care about my business, then I should not care who I give it to, right?

Well, I called back, this time to cancel, pressed all the buttons, had to stay on hold for 15 minutes due to "heavy call volume", finally got a woman who spoke English poorly, and told her that I wanted to cancel my order.

She told me that I had ordered my computer from the Business division, and that she worked in the Home division and would have to transfer me. I told her that I did not order it from the Business division to my knowledge, and did not route the call to any specific division when I ordered or even now while I am trying to cancel it. Rudely, she told me that I did order it from the Business division.

I finally got someone who sounded like they really cared about my ordeal and was willing to help me cancel my order. Maybe she did not really care and was just ready to go home for the holidays...I do not know. At this point, I do not care.

She sent me a cancellation confirmation email, which reminded me that I never received the confirmation after I ordered it. I was supposed to have received one after the order and then one after the upgrade. I mentioned this to her and she asked for my email address.

The person who took my order had mispelled my email address, so there is no way I would have ever received these confirmations. Which brings me to this: the order confirmation email and the upgrade confirmation email would both have been returned to the senders since the email address was incorrect.

On top of all of the customer disservice that Dell has provided in this process, they did not even check their own email often enough to realize that the confirmation emails were never even sent to me.

Last night, I spent several hours shopping on ebay. There, I purchased a Dell laptop, one model above the one I originally ordered from Dell, new and in the box, for $350 less than the one I was trying to buy straight from Dell. In addition, it shipped today (received a tracking number) and should be here Monday.

Nothing like a Christmas from Dell.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Been Awhile.....

With football season all but over, and a very busy last three weeks, I have not had a chance to post any football stuff. After a very busy Thanksgiving week, I spent the next week in Dallas on business, and now I have just returned from a hunting trip in Tennessee.

Dallas was busy, but enjoyable. I saw a part of town that I have not seen in my previous visits. I was hoping to find some cheap tickets and see the Cowboys and Packers while I was there, but couldn't swing the $500 for "cheap" seats. I am not a fan of either of them as I do not watch much professional football, but I do like the quarterbacks of both teams. I think Romo is the next big star as he continues to play well and to build on last year's performances. He is also a very well-mannered person who is very greatful for the opportunity.

Most of the pro athletes have forgotten about their good fortune, are not good role models, and do not give it their all. Why should they? They were paid well for last week's game, win or lose, playing with or without heart. This is why I do not care much for professional sports.

Brett Favre may be getting close to retirement and may not be as sharp or as quick as he once was, but he still the fierce competitor that he has always been. A future Hall of Famer, and probably a commentator for a network within the next few years, he remains tough, competitive, and plays with alot of heart. It is hard not to like someone like this.

I picked a bad time to spend a long weekend 7 hours from home hunting. If it was not raining, the wind was blowing very hard and, except for the first morning, it was just too hot to hunt. I found myself thinking about fishing alot of the time I was hugging the limb hunting. The 70 degree temperatures were more likely to help someone catch the big one than help me to hunt the big one. Deer do not stir around too much in hot, windy weather.

Yesterday morning, I sat in the tree until just after 12-noon. As the wind blew the old oak tree back and forth, I almost unscrewed my head from my neck looking back and forth and all around for the "monster" buck. On a low limb about 20 feet in front of me, I noticed an owl sitting there watching the grass below. He, too, twisted his head back and forth searching for movement in the tall grass as the wind tried to rock him to sleep by waving his tree from side to side.

As I watched the owl, it struck me that we were both there -- in almost the same tree when you consider the acreage in which we hunted, the number of trees that either of us could have chosen, and the proximity of the ones that we did -- with almost the same agenda and he was just a scaled down replica of myself. One wearing nature's own camouflage and the other wearing store-bought, we were both there, almost as mirror images of each other, trying to catch an unsuspecting prey. Just as I battled the wind to catch movement in between the trees and brush, he was looking for the same in between the blades of grass. As the wind moved my hair, head net, and blind fabric, it also moved his feathers.

Obviously, the primary contrast between the two of us was that I was hunting as a hobby and, although I eat every animal that take from the field, my survival does not depend on my success. It does not take many trips to the field to realize how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful land, and to have every opportunity as the next person to do whatever it is of which we dream. The only blessing greater than this is to see Mother Nature at work, in person, from 20 feet away.

The owl gave me the old mean-eye as only an owl can do and, as if he understood that I was not hunting him nor going poaching on his land (which, in reality I was poaching his land), he was content to sit there with me for about an hour. Neither of us had any luck and as I climbed from my perch, he flew from his. I almost expected him to be waiting on me at the truck.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jumping to the Other Side

I just finished reading a few articles about the death of Evel Knievel, and it brought back a few memories of my childhood. My brothers and I had Evel Knievel toys all over our house, and often immitated him by jumping 5-gallon buckets with our bicycles. As we got a little older, we jumped buckets and small things with our motorcycles.

We watched several of his jumps on the Wide World of Sports (ABC), which was the only Saturday sport's program in those days. Although it seemed that he crashed every time we ever saw him jump, he was still exciting; fearless, and tough as nails. He was interesting to listen to during interviews.

One expects a daredevil to live a short life and more times than not, they do. Despite the serious accidents, Knievel kept making returns until his retirement in 1980. Perhaps it was his knowing when to quit that kept him alive, which is interesting because it was his not knowing when to quit with alcohol and other shady endeavors that led to the negatives that were often printed about him.

At any rate, we enjoyed watching him as kids and enjoyed immitating him with our bicycles and motorcycles. He made his last jump yesterday, the jump of his life, and I hope that he landed right side up on the other side.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Memories.....

When I was a child, we lived in a small three bedroom brick house in a rural area. The house had a one-car garage on its end with a overhead door on the front side and a 3070 door on the back side. In those days, everyone on my mom's side of the family got together to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One Thanksgiving, my great-grandmother and grandfather came to our house the night before Thanksgiving and spent the night with us. Even then, they had already began to show their old age. My grandmother was a big believer in "fresh" foods. Every time that we ever ate lunch with her, we had fresh vegetables from her garden, fresh chicken from her backyard, fresh rabbit out of the pen, or anything else. It was always fresh.

On this Thanksgiving eve, she and granddad showed up at our house with a fresh turkey. So fresh that it was still alive. They drove about 75 miles with that turkey in the car with them. When they arrived at our house, the turkey was put in our garage. The garage was used more for storage of our junk instead of our cars.

On Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother was going to kill this turkey and prepare it for our meal. I will never forget hearing all of the noise bright and early that morning. I got out of bed to go see what was wrong, and found everyone in my family gathered at our back sliding glass doors. When I got close enough to see what everyone was staring at, a permanent picture was etched into my mind: my old grandmother, with her hair balled on top of her head (it was against her religion to cut it) had a hatchet in one hand and was shaking the fist of her other hand, as she was chasing that turkey across our back yard. I do not know if it broke free of her grasp as she was trying to kill it, or if maybe she opened the 3070 door to take a look at it and it bolted out of the door. How it occurred has slipped my memory, but I will never forget that picture. If I get a chance, I will check with my parents and see if they can remind me of how it happened and follow up with another post.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bad Football Weekend For Me.....

The football season is coming to an end and although my team is nothing fancy right now, I hate to see it go. I get all worked up every summer while waiting for that first kickoff. Then, like the last day of a long vacation, I get a little down when it ends.

My old high school team was eliminated from the second round of the playoffs Friday night. They lost a lot of last year's talent to graduation, but still managed to have a good season. They were not expected to make it to the State Championship game again, but they were expected to make it beyond the second round.

Friday night, they were beaten by a less talented team that walked onto the field prepared to play. We shanked our only field goal attempt, and never made it to the end zone. The final score was UMS-Wright 3, Eufaula 0. The field goal for UMS was setup by a blocked punt. If you are into defense, and I am, this was a defensive battle. Eufaula, although more talented, was not ready for this game. Congratulations to UMS-Wright for back to back shockers. They knocked off the #2 team last week.

The same was true for the Crimson Tide yesterday. They walked onto the field unprepared and was beaten by a school that played a good game. Anybody can beat anybody on any Saturday. Alabama has lost three in a row and now face Auburn - the in-state rival.

Auburn has had Alabama's number the last 5 years, and if Alabama does not find some offense, will have it again this year. This one is for the bragging rights. This one gets you through the winter, spring, and summer, and gives you something to talk about at the start of next season. This one has wrecked marriages, caused brothers to shoot brothers, and helped fans to become more obnoxious.

Saban, if you are reading this, please get the boys ready. I am tired of hearing my brother, wife, and kids talk about how Auburn and everybody else can beat Alabama. I know that the Tide will turn the corner in a couple of seasons and be a consistently ranked team again. But, I really need this win against Auburn to help me through until then.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

This Week's Games

Other than a couple good SEC matchups, and Cal-USC in the PAC-10, there doesn't seem to be many "good" games this weekend. The top 5 looks like it may be safe, unless Illinois upsets Ohio State.

My first game of the day will be Alabama-Miss. State, while also flipping over to keep up with Arkansas-Tennessee. At 2:30 cst, my wife and I will watch her Auburn team battle Georgia, while also keeping up with Texas Tech-Texas and Illinois-Ohio State.

The night games that I will watch will be Florida-South Carolina, while flipping over to catch Cal-USC at the same time.

By 11pm, I will be full of cheese dip and cross-eyed from a typical Saturday of watching a half-dozen football games and flipping channels - unless one of the kids loses the remote. In that case, I will be in jail.

Here are my weekend picks:

Michigan at Wisconsin......take Wisconsin +3.

Illinois at Ohio State......Ohio State wins, but closer than expected...take Illinois +15.5

Auburn at Georgia......Auburn is a very good road team and always finishes the season strong....take Auburn +2

California at USC.....I really feel that this is a toss up, and home field advantage does not exist. I am going with the coach....take USC -4.

I Was Ready, But Bama Was Not.

Alabama's loss to LSU Saturday was a heartbreaker. It was a game in which virtually no one thought Alabama had a chance to win. With both teams coming off a bye week, I felt that one of two things would happen: LSU would play sloppy and Alabama would sneak out with a 3-point win, or Alabama would play sloppy and LSU would win big, and as expected in a #3 versus #17 battle. I was wrong in both cases.

Both teams played poorly, and Alabama capitalized on LSU's mistakes and overcame a 17-3 first quarter deficit to almost win the game. In the end, however, it was Alabama's biggest mistake of the game that drove the final nail into the coffin. A mistake that we have seen so many times in the past.

Moral victories are worthless, but if you are an Alabama fan, you still have get excited when you look into the future. Alabama had very few penalties, forced a passing game to work when the running game was not there, and played good defense from the second quarter to the last 3 minutes of the fourth. Alabama did not pressure the quarterback in the first quarter, nor in LSU's last full field drive which led to the touchdown pass that tied the game with about 3 minutes remaing.

After having success forcing turnovers in the second quarter by pressuring the quarterback, and keeping him under control throughout the third and fourth quarters, it is hard to understand why you only rush three in the end. You see alot of teams do it, but this is yet another case of "prevent defense" preventing a win.

Still, the future is where Alabama's success lies, although they are improving much quicker than I thought they would, I have to remember that the best is yet to come.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm Ready

I have read every article I can find related to the Alabama-LSU game. I surfed the web looking for all of the articles. I even googled the Baton Rouge newspaper to see what kind of stuff they were printing about the game, or at least about Nick Saban.

I have flipped through all of the channels on cable trying to catch all of the Alabama-LSU or Saban-Miles news conferences. I watched a replay of the Alabama-Tennessee game of two weeks ago just to get that feeling again.

I have mowed the grass and raked the leaves already for the weekend. I am getting my haircut, which is another Saturday chore, tomorrow. I have some firewood on the back porch just in case a cold front moves in this weekend. My weekend getup -- a pair of old shorts and an older T-shirt -- are ironed and ready to go. The refrigerator is stocked with food and tea.

Now, I need the game to go my way.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

USC No Longer the Best in the PAC

In an earlier blog this season, I predicted USC to lose two to three games this season. With two in the bag, and four conference games remaining, they could very well lose more. USC is no longer the dominant team of the PAC-10.

Oregon went toe to toe with USC yesterday and handled them very well. The defense played well and stepped up at key moments of the game. The offense controlled the ball and kept the clock moving.

Just a few weeks ago, Oregon was 22 seconds away from tying California and trying to remain undefeated. Since then, California has lost three consecutive games but will be ready for USC in two weeks.

Oregon State is USC's next date and I believe this game could go either way. Oregon State has had a roller coaster season, and are a hard team to figure out. It will depend on which Oregon State team, and which USC team, arrives for the game. Same will be true on December 1, when USC meets UCLA. USC will be looking for revenge from last year's loss; UCLA has the potential to win again IF they are prepared and have the heart.

Arizona State will be USC's toughest game of the remaining season and should not have any trouble in handing USC its third (or fourth) loss. California got off to quick start last night against the Sun Devils, but could not hold on. Arizona State did what all good teams do, and that is they kept digging and digging until they were right back in the game and eventually won.

The title race in the PAC-10 is as wild as the Presidential race, and a lot more exciting. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day, and it will take the rest of the season to see how it shakes out. The eventual division winner may not be the best team in the division when it is all over, but it will be the one that is the best on the day it mattered most.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Shame On Me

Today I was walking out of my doctor's office feeling a little down and a little stressed. I do not have enough time to do my job as it is, and now I am going to have to cram it all in on a short day, since it will be after lunch before I make it into the office Monday. For you see, in my left hand I carried a couple of pages of "prescriptions" for some tests that I must have performed first thing Monday morning: blood work, MRI, Stress Test, and a couple of things that I do not care to mention here. You know...the whole package.

I used my right hand to push the door open as I left the building, while continuing to read the papers that I held in my left hand. As I pushed the door outward and stepped onto the sidewalk I was met by a man, who I believed to be about my age, in a wheelchair. A motorized wheelchair. He was using one finger to work the controls and when I said hello to him, I do not believe that he understood me. He never blinked an eye, nor made eye contact with me. The woman standing beside him smiled and said hello.

No matter what we have on our plate, things can always be worse. Unfortunately, we have to bump into someone less fortunate than us from time to time to realize it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Third Saturday This October Good To Bama Fans

No doubt Auburn is Alabama's biggest rival, but there is no love lost between the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee. Why? Alabama has only managed to win 4 times in the last 14 years, and many fans believe that Phillip Fulmer played a role in Alabama's probation.

Saturday's victory over Tennessee will be remembered for a long time to come. Not only did Nick Saban chalk up his first win over Tennessee as the coach of the Crimson Tide, he coached his team through its most impressive game of the season. For the first time this season, the players played and the coaches coached four quarters. The offense, which has been down the last few weeks, was clicking on all cylinders and the defense shutout a good passing team in the second half.

Eric Ainge was given alot of publicity in the pre-game show and throughout the first quarter. However, it was John Parker Wilson who earned the spotlight as the game progressed. Wilson played the best game of his career and made good decisions all the way through. Unlike the other games this season, he handled the defensive pressure well and safely threw the ball away when necessary. When he ran, he ran hard. I have complained and criticized him alot this season, but I have to say that John Parker Wilson played his heart out Saturday.

Could this be the turning point in the Alabama-Tennessee series? Forget the 4 out of the last 14 statistic I mentioned above and think of a more positive one: Alabama has now won 2 out of the last 3 games against Tennessee. This "Third Saturday in October" was a great one for Alabama fans.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

South Florida - Rutgers Instant Replay Penalty

I have had a very busy week and am late getting to this, but still want to discuss instant replay in college football and in particular, the South Florida-Rutgers game. I personally like instant replay and especially like that every play is reviewed in college football. However, I have never seen a penalty be called after an official's review. I have been away from sports news this week so not sure what has been said about Thursday night's game.

Thursday night, a South Florida player was returning a fumble and appeared to fumble the ball himself. Another South Florida player picked it up and, as he was getting tackled, appeared to fumble the ball as well. Still another South Florida picked it up and carried the ball in for the TD.

A replay review was conducted to see if these were in fact fumbles or intentional fumbles. In the end, it was determined the South Florida players fumbled the balls intentionally and, therefore, called them illegal forward laterals and the TD was removed. I do not have a problem with any of this to this point.

After the official took the headset off and made the announcement regarding the forward laterals, he then threw a flag for the lateral, and the Bulls were penalized. Now, this is where I have the problem, and maybe I do not know the rules as well as I think I do. I have never seen a replay review result in a penalty. I would imagine that a holding penalty could be called on every play if they reviewed it.

I agree that the fumbles were intentional and the proper call is that they were forward laterals. However, was the official acting within the rules of instant replay when he threw the flag afterwards?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

National Championship Not Looking Good for SEC

It seems like the SEC begins each season with 3 or 4 teams either ranked in the top 10, or a couple in the top 10 and another couple somewhere near it. They eventually weed themselves out and by season's end, the conference is fortunate if one of the teams is still in position for a shot at the National Championship game. This season has not been any different.

LSU and Florida were the SEC's most dominant earlier and I kind of figured that both of these would play in the SEC Championship and one of them would play in the big one for the Championship. As it turns out, only LSU, and only if it wins out, has the most realistic chance at playing for the SEC title. I do not think we will have a team with two losses playing in it, although we have in the past.

LSU will have their hands full next Saturday against Auburn as Auburn is a very good road team and have a strong defense. When you look at their common opponents, LSU has scored more points and has not lost. Auburn lost to Mississippi State, a team that LSU beat 45-0. Their most recent common opponent was Florida. While the margin of victory was similar, I believe that Auburn played Florida much better than LSU did.

The winner of Saturday's game will most likely represent the SEC West in Atlanta. I hate to count my Alabama team out, but I just do not believe that they are ready for the remainder of their schedule. I think the remaining schedule in the SEC East is in Kentucky's favor if they can find a way to get past Florida on Saturday. If they cannot, then you could very well have a two-loss team representing that division in the SEC Championsip game and it could be almost anybody in the group.

It is going to be interesting as the season progresses. There are three to four teams in each division that could play in the Championship game. While they are beating each other up, I am afraid that they are also knocking the Conference out of the National picture. Nine top 10 teams have lost in the last two weeks, so anything could happen.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The BCS-BS Continues

As the college football season continues, it becomes more and more evident that we need a playoff system. Any team can be beaten on any given day, and it is unfair the Championship game is often played by those who benefit from gratuitous positions in the pre-season polls. Hopefully, this thing will shake out and a couple of teams who legitimately climbed in the polls after playing well week after week will be the ones who decide the championship. I would love to see a South Florida - California matchup. These teams have reached their rankings the hard way.

Had it not been for Michigan, Louisville, Wisconsin, Texas, and a few others that have been clogging the line since being flushed in the opening weeks of the season, Missouri, Boston College, and Arizona State may be ranked in the top 10 right now. South Florida and California could be ranked even higher.

So where are our season opening top 10-ners at now? I have listed them below in the order in which they started the season and have listed their present ranking to the right.

1. USC 10
2. LSU 1
3. W. Va. 8
4. Texas 23
5. Michigan Unranked
6. Florida 13
7. Wisconsin 19
8. Oklahoma 6
9. Va. Tech 12
10. Louisville Unranked

These teams opened the season in the top 10, but now have a combined total of 17 losses. This number is a little distorted because Michigan and Louisville account for 8 of the losses and LSU has not lost. Still, I think this makes a good argument for a playoff. Several good teams will go unnoticed again this year, while some of these were ranked so high early on, that they will be able to have a high finish due to their soft schedules.

Do Missouri, Boston College, Arizona State, Hawaii, and the others play some soft teams? Sure, they do. But, they will never get any kind of publicity due their location in the ranks. Any of these could go undefeated and would still finish behind USC and Oklahoma. Remember what Boise State did last year? Undefeated and unnoticed until they beat Oklahoma.

Come on, South Florida. Keep playing and let's hope that some of the teams ahead of you drop a game. The only way we will ever see a college playoff is if the underdogs continue to beat the big dogs. Then, the powers that be will say, "There must be something wrong with this system."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Coach, A Columnist, & A QB Eating Chicken

I read an article the other day by Dennis Dodd in which he accused Oklahoma State's coach, Mike Gundy, of overreacting about the column that appeared on the front page of the The Oklahoman. After reading the article myself, and then watching Gundy go off during the press conference, I have to admit that I admire the coach for taking up for his player.

This lady was kicking a man when he was down, as the Coach Gundy pointed out, and you do not do that to anyone - especially to a young person - nor do you do it through a media outlet. She even poked fun at Bobby Reid for allowing his mother to hand-feed him in front of God and everybody. (I still have a mental picture of that.) She completely tore the quarterback down and I also imagine that she embarrassed him.

After Gundy finished his tirade, he left the room to the applause of those who were left behind, which were mostly media. I found this kind of interesting since most people of similar professions usually stick together. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Journalists use "freedom of speech" as an opportunity to write what they wish everyday and are more critical of coaches and athletes than are fans. Hats off to a coach who exercised his freedom of speech and spoke his opinion in return.

Games to watch this week:

California at Oregon.............Oregon by 10.

Michigan St. at Wisconsin........Wisconsin is over-rated and Michigan St. may prove it this weekend.

W. Virginia at South Florida.....this will be closer than expected and could go either way. If Jim Leavitt can rally his troops one more time and catch a break in the fourth quarter, they can pull off an upset.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bama Gets Reality Check - Michigan Beats Penn State Again

I have mentioned once before that I am only expecting Alabama to win about seven games this year. If they only won four, I would not be surprised. This is a rebuilding year and their schedule has some tough competition on it.

In order to win seven, they will have to win some of the big ones. They squeezed one of those out last week, and had they been more prepared, could have picked up another one tonight. As bad as they played and as bad as the play calling was, they were still in the game. I was not expecting them to win tonight, just as I was not last week. However, after seeing the game and seeing that they really had a chance to be victorious, I am greatly disappointed in their game and the coaching decisions. You have to give yourself a chance to win.

Last week, Alabama had Lady Luck on their side in several situations that occured in their game against Arkansas. Sometimes you make your own luck by trying hard and putting yourself in the right position. They did that last week.

They looked flat from the beginning tonight and never really got anything going. I place this loss directly on the coaching staff as the team looked unprepared in the first half. In addition, I lost count at the times that Alabama ran the ball behind the left guard or tackle on first down. Read that again...they consistenly ran the ball behind the left guard or tackle on first down. If I am sitting on the couch having a glass of tea, while eating chips and talking to friends and can still notice the pattern (did I mention that they continuously ran to the left on first down?), why can't Alabama's coaching staff notice it? They have an advantage over me in that they know that they are doing it, but then again, it is like they do not know they are doing it.

Georgia also knew that they were doing it, and probably picked it up in watching the Alabama-Arkansas film. I started seeing this left handed pattern last week, as well as conservative play calling, and hoped that they would both go away. I have seen enough of that the last few years.

They never gave themselves a chance to win in overtime. They ran to the left once, and threw to the left twice. All unsuccessfully. In this case, the left side was also the short side of the field, which gave the defense an extra player.

This one tonight is on the coaching staff, and it was almost like Mike Shula was calling the plays. Congratulations to Georgia for playing four quarters and executing.

Also,congratulations to Michigan in their win over Penn State. I thought that Penn State would move into the top 5 in the next couple of weeks and make a run at the national championship, but it will not happen this season. They were over-matched today, and Paterno's opportunity for a championship will be postponed. I had Michigan on my list of over-ranked teams and Penn State on my list of under-ranked. A smoking hot Penn State team lost to a Michigan team, which lost to a 1-AA team which lost to another 1-AA team today. I guess that is football.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lunch Hour Gone Bad

My lunch break only last 60 minutes. It takes me about 7 minutes to leave my office, walk down the stairs, go across the parking lot and get inside my truck. It takes another 5-10 minutes to get through the red light at the end of the road. Reverse all of this for getting back to my office after lunch, and I only have about 26 minutes to eat, run a few errands, and/or simply relax to get ready for the second half of the day of a very stressful job.

I decided to make a quick trip to the bank today at lunch and then grab some fast food in a drive-thru somewhere to take back to the office. When I got to my bank, one line of the drive-thru was closed and the only open lane had two cars in line. Not bad, I thought, so I pulled up behind the second car. As soon as I did, the first car drove off, so the other car and I pulled up. Even better, I thought. Only one car in front of me.

What I failed to notice was that the one car had four people in it. The driver put her papers in the teller's box. The teller pulled it in, and then immediately pushed it back out. The driver of the car then placed something else into the drawer, and the teller closed it. A few minutes later, the drawer opened again and the driver removed the documents. Things were moving right along and because of that, I have only been in line for about 3 1/2 minutes. That was when things began to go downhill.

As the driver removed her documents from the teller's drawer, she inserted something else in it....presumably something from the person sitting in the passenger side of the front seat. With my window having been rolled down in anticipation of quick service, I heard the teller ask for an ID as the bank drawer opened once again.

My assumpion of this next transaction being that of the passenger was correct, as I could see the silhouette of the person on the passenger side digging frantically in her purse. Finally, she found what she needed, handed it to the driver, who then placed it in the drawer. Swish! It closed again. About a minute had escaped.

A minute or two later, the drawer opened, the driver removed her passenger's envelope, and then I heard her ask, "Can you break this for me?" The driver placed "a bill" in the drawer. I could feel my face turning red after this transaction number three. I am a little high-strung by nature, and it gets worse when I get nervous. I hate being late. Gripping the steering wheel, I glanced at my watch. My lunch hour was passing by as I was sitting still.

With their last transaction complete, they finally drove away. I pulled up, handed the lady behind the glass my deposit slip and a check. Swish! She pulled it in, ran it through her machine, and sent my receipt back to me through the opened drawer. I drove off and had about 20 minutes left to grab a sandwich and head back to work.

McDonald's is the busiest place in town during lunch, but it is also the quickest place in town. After waiting on a couple of red lights, I turned into McD's parking lot and made my way to the drive-thru line. As expected, the line was long but I made my way to the end of it knowing that it would move quickly.

It only took about two seconds for me to recognize the car in front of me. It was the one at the bank; the one with four people in it. The two in backseat did not participate in the ordeal at the bank, but it was not very likely that they were going to sit this one out. I could only imagine how long this was going to take.

I drove off. Tonight's dinner was wonderful.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lady Luck Finally on Bama's Side

I do not know if I have ever seen Alabama put 41 points on the board against a ranked team. Additionally, it has been a long time since they have had their own fourth quarter comeback. For the first time in a long time, Lady Luck stood on the Alabama sidelines. I guess she finally grew a little bored after many years of hanging out with intrastate rival, Auburn. Sorry Auburn fans, I had to throw that in there for you.

Good teams cash in on the opponent's turnovers. Alabama did that in the first quarter to get off to a quick start and then Arkansas did the same in the second half to get back in the game. Arkansas'Darren McFadden ran the ball down the Tide's throats and showed why he is a Heisman candidate, while Alabama's young quarterback, John Parker Wilson, had a stellar night of his own.

This year's Arkansas-Alabama game was as exciting as the ones before it and, like so many others, went down to the wire. Houston Nutt made the necessary adjustments throughout the game to keep his players in the game and, in my opinion, probably out-coached Saban. However, Saban has spoken so many times of "the process" and it was his "process" that allowed the boys in the crimson jerseys to believe in themselves and to avoid caving in after getting behind in the fourth quarter.

Last night's game allowed Alabama fans to see the best and the worst of their team. As a fan, I was excited and disappointed at the same time. Weird.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Poll Problems

The college football polls are already in shambles this season. Several teams started the season over-rated, which is going to make it hard some more deserving teams to catch up to the poll leaders. We have to wait for these over-rated teams to work their way to the bottom of the list and hope that the others make it to the top before it is too late.

My list of over-rated teams continues to grow. We have watched Michigan go from a season opening 5th place rank to all of the way out of the rankings. One kind of got the impression on opening weekend that Virginia Tech was over-ranked and now going into the third week, it has been confirmed.

Georgia manhandled Oklahoma State on opening day, but was manhandled by South Carolina this weekend. Opening the season at #11, they almost dropped out of the top 25 after this loss. In my opinion, Texas, Nebraska, and West Virginia should be included in this list of over-rated teams, and we will find out soon if I am correct on this hunch. Nebraska plays USC this upcoming weekend and we will get a chance to how these two perform and evaluate their rankings simultaneously.

We will have to wait until the first weekend in October to see what Texas really has to offer. They face Oklahoma on October 6, and both teams should be undefeated going into this game. West Virginia may benefit from these other games. In my opinion, the Mountaineers are another over-rated team, but may come out of it smelling like roses: they started the season with a high ranking, play a weak schedule, and should only go up in ranking. Unless, of course, South Florida has their game face on at the end of this month as they did against Auburn this past weekend.

My list of under-rated teams includes Penn St., Georgia Tech, and Oregon. Georgia Tech squares off against Boston College this upcoming weekend. Both teams enter the game undefeated. Georgia Tech has put some points on the board the first two games, while Boston College has shown resiliency. This should be a good game and an opportunity to measure both teams. I look for Penn St. severely under-rated and Oregon should begin to creep up in the polls.

If I were in control of the polls, my top 5 would look like this:

1. LSU
2. USC*
3. Oklahoma
4. Florida
5. Penn State

* I am leaving them in the top 5 for now only because they won their first game and have not played since. But, I am going to go out on a limb and say that USC is an over-ranked team. If they get past Nebraska next weekend, we may have to wait a few more weeks to see. In the end, I think they lose three games.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The New Crimson Tide

My Auburn Tiger family has reminded me daily since Saturday that I should not be too excited about Alabama's victory over Western Carolina. True, the Catamounts did not offer the stiff competition that the Tide will encounter this week against Vanderbilt, or in the weeks that follow, but let's not be so quick to cast a shadow over the performance. I have seen the Western Carolina's, Lousiana Tech's, and other smaller schools eat Alabama's lunch in the past.

While it remains to be seen what Alabama's offense will be able to do againt a tougher defense, I think that we saw enough to realize that Saban has already made significant improvements over past years' offense. Past teams were plagued by penalties and indecisive play calling that led to multiple instances where timeouts had to be called to avoid delay of game penalties. In last year's game against Arkansas, Alabama was forced to call a timeout right after a television timeout. Good coaches just do not put their team in those positions.

The quarterbacks threw passes to twelve different receivers, including several passes to tightends, and everybody caught the ball. Alabama's running game has always been a good one, and there is no reason to believe that this year's will not be among the best. Grant's 47-yard run on Alabama's first play from scrimmage reminded me of the Bobby Humphrey and Siran Stacey days of Tide football.

Alabama's defense is going to be the questionable side of the ball this season. Saban's reputation as a defensive specialist and his passion for teaching athletes should - over time - restore the stingy defense reputation that Alabama once had. Western Carolina efforts on Saturday were enough to make us realize that the defense needs some work.

Despite this, you can see Saban's marks being made in the defense. The guys hustled to the ball carrier, and the tackling skills looked much improved. Again, we were spared of the crazy penalties that we have become accustomed to seeing week in and week out.

Hat's off to Western Carolina for playing with a lot of heart and for playing four quarters of football. I always appreciate good sportmanship and would like to recognize Western Carolina's quarterback, Todd Spitzer, for his remarks after the game.

"It's a great atmosphere to play in," Western Carolina quarterback
Todd Spitzer said. "They've got loyal fans that care about this
program. It's definitely a wonderful experience, and I'll hold it
with me for the rest of my career."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Not a Good Start....

Like a dog watching a cat through a chain-link fence, I have have been uptight this week. Pacing, drooling, whining, just waiting for it to get a little closer. This comes on the tail end of counting down the beginning of football season since it went out in January.

"Honey, did you know that it is only 7 more months until football season?" I asked her after the Super Bowl.
"Yes, dear, you have already told me," she mumbled back.

All the hype that I allowed myself to build up while waiting on football season was short-lived Thursday night. The traditional SEC kickoff game was good for awhile, but then turned into a blowout. I actually went to bed in the third quarter.

Last night, our #3 ranked 5A high school team did not come to their game prepared. True, they played a very good 6A team, but after watching them wax everyone they played last year on the way to the state championship game, including this same team, last night was disappointing. We sat in the rain and watched our team lose its first regular season home game in about 5 years. They beat this same team last year 37-7, again as a 5A versus a 6A, so I am sure the others guys were glad to return the favor. I can accept losing, but it is hard to accept being unprepared.

Today, all of the "good" games are coming on at the same time, so we will not be able to enjoy the usual 3 to 4 games that we watch on a football Saturday. I will have a couple of TV's on at the same time, but really need a couple more.

I do have to say that the ESPN pre-game show with Virginia Tech was very moving. Those kids, families, friends, and faculty have been through alot. After seeing some of the faces as the clip was played on the Jumbo Tron at the stadium(I think they call it Hokie TV), you can see that the wounds are far from healing.

Frank Beamer is another class act, and it was very cool how East Carolina was invited to come onto the field at the same time today with the Hokies amidst the cheering fans.

I will be a Hokie fan for today, but will always pray that no other kids of any school will have to worry about their safety while getting an education.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's that time again.....

Finally, football season is here. I could hardly wait for tonight to get here. I considered taking vacation time from work so that I could just sit and wait for tonight's kickoff. If we could just get a little cold weather now, it would be perfect.

Grab your helmet and get ready, folks. It is game time.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Flashbacks Before 40 (continued)

Although the title is no longer quite accurate, I want to continue to share some pivotal times that I have been reflecting on the past week.

The first real part-time job that I had was at a boat shop when I was 16. A normal work week consisted of working everyday after school and all day on Saturdays. When school was out for the summer, I worked all day Monday through Saturday. I did not know anything about boats. In fact, I had probably only been on a boat just a couple of times in my life by then. I certainly had never pulled a trailer behind a car or truck either. At 16, I had just started driving.

Mr. Ken was the owner of the boat shop and a super employer. He was probably in his 50's when I started working there. Mr. Ken was shorter than I. He had jet black hair and wore reading glasses when he worked on stuff.

I did not make very much money and it was outside work so I was always hot and dirty. I worked there for about three years total before moving onto to life after high school with a "real" job. By the time that I quit working there, Mr. Ken had taught me a great deal about boats - rigging, mechanics, towing, driving, even skiing. But more importantly, he had taught me so much about life.

I remember one day I was trying to take some carburators off of an outboard motor, and one bolt would not coorperate. I tried several different angles with the wrench, but could not make any progress. I saw Mr. Ken walking towards me so I decided to let him remove the bolt for me. He walked up and wanted to know how things were coming. I whined and complained that I could not get one bolt to come out.

Mr. Ken stepped up on the bucket that I was using for a stool and, with his glasses down on the end of his nose, took a look at the stubborn bolt. He stared at it from side to side while I continued to plead my case. Finally, he said, "Uh huh," stepped off the bucket and went on his way. He left me there to figure out a way to get that bolt out. It took me awhile, but I finally realized that if I removed another part of the cowling I would be able to remove that bolt.

I have thought about that bolt and Mr. Ken many, many times over the years. I am thankful that he did not bail me out. He left it up to me to figure out how to get it done. He sent me out of town several times to deliver and/ or pick up boats for customers. I had not been driving very long, and had never pulled a trailer, but he trusted me. He gave me responsibilities that forced me to behave maturely and he helped me to become a man.

This could not have come at a better time in my life. My parents had just divorced. My first girlfriend was cheating on me. I was angry at all of them and at the world. I drank with my friends every night, and raced my hotrod car across the causeway on the weekends - often with a beer between my legs. I started each work day of summer by puking up the previous night's beer.

Fortunately, I survived all of that and never became addicted to alcohol, had any serious accidents, or had any kind of legal problems. The things that I learned back then help me today. Although I am not proud of those things, they were experiences that led to lessons that led to small victories in some of life's battles. Now, I am armed so that I can help my kids win their battles.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Flashbacks Before 40

Ok, I must confess that I turn 40 on Monday and it is bothering me a little. On one hand, I thank God for watching over me and keeping me safe as I have traveled many different paths over the years - some good, some bad. On the other hand, I must realize that my life is about halfway over and time is running out on the things that I want to accomplish. I have to get busy.

With doomsday on the horizon, and school starting back recently, I have been reflecting on a lot of things that have occurred in my life, as well as the people who have been a part of it, both past and present. A few nights ago, my wife and I were at a pre-season high school football game having fun and reminiscing about last year’s team that finished runner-up in the state championship game. (We should have won, but I will save that story for another time.) Anyway, as the last seconds were ticking off the clock, we got up to leave and that is when I noticed her sitting a few rows down from us. She got up about the same time we did, and I realized that after all of these years, she still gets to me. I immediately flashed back to my 9th grade year in high school, and immediately became ticked off all over again. You see, this person that I saw……that I wanted to just push down the bleachers……was my 9th grade History teacher, Ms. Coyner.

This lady was one of the biggest witches a student could have for a teacher. No wonder that she did not get married until she was almost 50. This is a small town and it took almost a lifetime of people moving into town before that one right person came along for her. Poor guy. His hometown must have been smaller than this one. I could have told her when I was 14 years old that it was going to take her awhile to find a husband. If I had, maybe she would have moved away and my brothers could have been spared.

Miss Coyner’s favorite action was cutting people’s deportment grade. She was the witness, the judge, and the juror in every case. "Jerry, that’s five points," would be how she would state it. You knew it was five points less and not five points more. She once said that to my buddy, Greg, and they got into a deportment auction.

"Greg, that’s five points," she said.
"Good, now I have a 105 average," he responded.
"That’s five more."
"Make it ten."
"Okay, now it is ten points."
"Make it twenty."
"Okay, now it is twenty."
"Good, now I have a 140."

All of this went at about the pace of an auction.

One day she called us up to the front of the class one by one to check our notebooks. We were only allowed to have History work in our History notebook. The night before, I had ran out of paper in my Geometry notebook and had to finish my Geometry homework in my History notebook. When it was my turn to have my notebook checked, I did not bother to hide my Geometry work because I knew that she would understand because I have always respected her wishes and never put anything in the History notebook until now, and I had no choice. I was wrong.

She asked, "What is this?" as loud as she could. It embarrassed me. "My Geometry homework," I responded. She snatched it out, balled it up, and threw it in the garbage can next to her desk.

"Don’t you ever put anything in MY notebook again unless it is History," she screamed.
"I had to," I whispered to her.
"Do not argue with me. This is MY notebook and it is for History," she commanded.
"This is MY notebook," I responded.
"No, this is MY History notebook," she yelled.
"No, this is MY whatever-I-need-it-to-be notebook that MY parents bought – not you," I said, this time louder because I had gotten pissed. Not only was she embarrassing me, she was making a big deal out of nothing.
"Go to your desk before I take five," she said.

Furiously, I went back to my desk and sat down. Donnie, who sat I front of me, turned around and whispered, "That is not right."

Miss Coyner heard him and said, "Ok, Chris, that is five points for talking under your breath about me." I replied, "Miss Coyner, I did not say anything."

"Now it is ten," she responded. Donnie just laughed.

I should have pushed her down those bleachers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nick Saban on the Pre-Season Poll....

"Nobody has played any games yet, so it's somebody's opinion before the season about how something ought to be or they think it will be," Saban said, "and I could care less."

As a Tide fan, I hope he gets that headset thing figured out before he starts walking the sidelines at Bryant-Denny.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saban vs. Miles vs. The Media

No two coaches in the SEC, or perhaps any conference, will be under any closer observation this season than Nick Saban and Les Miles. This is not because their teams are loaded with the most talent, nor because they are on the bubble of being fired. It is because of the controversy surrounding both of them, individually and as a pair.

Every football fan and sportswriter in the country will be keeping tabs on Nick Saban this season. Just as his every comment was carefully examined while he was denying his interest in the head coaching position at U of A while still at Miami, his every decision on the field (and off the field) will be scrutinized by the media and general football public. And understandably so - he is the highest paid coach in college football thanks to a new job in which he denied any interest. With the big paycheck comes high expectations and a band of naysayers that will be sitting back and waiting for him to fail. His cocky attitude and unique personality help to make him an easy target. I would bet you a stadium seat that someone in the bunch already has a one-liner prepared for Saban's first loss as the Tide's coach.

One coach who has worked hard the last few months to take the focus off of Nick and put the crosshairs on himself is Les Miles. His comments about the PAC-10 Conference left alot of ripples in the water. Many writers have said that he called out USC with these comments, but I agree with Pete Carroll who was asked to comment on Miles statement. Said Carroll:

"He's really taking a shot at all the other schools we play. Maybe the comments should come from the coaches at the other schools, including Charlie (Weis) at Notre Dame. He didn't slam us. He slammed all the other schools we play."

Too bad that we will have to wait until the end of the season to see if LSU will be matched up against USC or any other team in the PAC-10 in a bowl game.

When Alabama hired Saban earlier this year, the long-time Alabama-LSU series certainly became a rivalry overnight. While the media folks wait to take turns at bashing them, Saban and Miles may physically deliver blows to each other in November. If not for the state of Mississippi separating them, it might come sooner.

As you will recall, Saban almost immediately stole Miles' championship joy when he claimed responsibility for the starting players on LSU's championship team. This lead to Miles dropping the "F-bomb" in front of fans by saying, "...we have a new rival in (expletive) Alabama!" Later, he said this to another group of fans:

"It's funny, my entire coaching career, I've never enjoyed the color red. Ohio State, Indiana. Shoot, when I was with the (Dallas) Cowboys, it was the Redskins. I just see it as another opportunity to go back to my roots and kick the crap out of another team in red."

I think it is safe to say that the intensity and meaning of the Alabama-LSU game has been cranked up a notch. The interviews and articles leading up to the game will be as interesting as the game itself.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Not Quite There

The 100+ degree weather that we have had this week makes it hard to believe that football season is less than a month away. One would think that they are closer to getting through the gates of hell than through the gates of a stadium. It has been that hot.

I personally prefer the college games over the professional sports because I believe the college athletes give a 110% effort on every play. They do not go on the 90-day DL because of bad toenail, nor do they use the media to promote their individual being. In addition, the excitement is just not there in the NFL. I believe that the love of money has ruined professional sports. The college players bust their butts day in and day out in hopes to make it to the next level. Professional athletes are at that level, so what is their motivation?

The University of Alabama's Tyrone Prothro's football career ended with him giving his heart (and his body) in an attempted catch in an endzone. That is nothing new for Prothro as the highlight film is still being shown for the spectacular catch that he made the year before against Southern Mississippi. This is just one example of a college athlete giving his all for his team.....not the money. His career ended over his love of the game and his full participation in a team sport.

I do watch a few games on Sunday, but Saturday is my GameDay. Until Saturday ball starts, I will use the NFL Pre-season games to fine tune my surround sound and test a few recipes. I patiently await for that morning that I leave for work and that fall football smell is in the air. You know the one. There is nothing like it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Day 4....different problem

Okay....I finally made the big white spot go away - along with the poll and the hour counter on the countdown. If I could just make the kids disappear as easily on opening weekend of football, that would be awesome.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day 3 of blogging.....Houston, we have a problem.

So I put this countdown to college football on my blog, and everything actually went according to plan. It worked. It only took a few minutes. I was expecting it to take days.

I get excited over college football and am a fan of the SEC. So I decided to add a poll to my page and see who you think is the favorite to win the SEC. I pulled off the countdown thing without any problems, so this should be a breeze. Right? Well, not only is there a problem with the poll insert provided by this host, you cannot even delete it. Now I am stuck with this huge white box on the bottom of my page. I tried the "workaround" that they suggested, which was to delete the HTML associated with the poll, but then had even more problems.

Hopefully, this will be resolved soon. I guess we will have to do a telephone poll until then. Maybe I should add a poll to see which happens first: football season starts or the poll problem is corrected.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


This is just a test run of this blogging thing. I am hoping to promote my ebay site as well as simply blog my ideas and opinions on politics, sports, and marriage.