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.