Sunday, November 12, 2006

Style Points in Football?

For any of you following the college football national championship race, you have consistently heard commentators speak of style points being important to whoever plays in the championship game. I generally think the BCS flawed, but the idea that a team has to win 'stylishly' proves that the BCS is also ruining football. Do you think the great Nebraska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Army, and other national championship games from before the BCS won because of style points? The Bear is probably rolling over in his grave (kinda like his team is rolling over in games this year) just at the thought of having to have style to win a national championship.
Since style points have become so important, however, I want to note a few style points that have been overlooked but are nonetheless important in today's football world:
1) Cleats that are the same color as team jerseys. Talk about stylish, when Tennessee wears orange cleats to complement their orange jerseys, pants, undershirts, and underwear, they are racking up some serious style points regardless of the score or how many times their band plays Rocky Top.
2) Coaches wearing 5 shirts. If you have seen an Auburn game lately, you should have noticed that Tommy Tuberville wears a vest, a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve shirt, an undershirt, and 3 other shirts while he walks up and down the sideline. Very stylish. Too bad they did not beat Georgia.
3) Braids hanging out from under the back of the helmet. In years gone by, these would be used to tackle these players but in today's modern age of style points, they may help teams reach the national championship.
4) Unsportsmanlike penalties. Are there any greater shows of 'style' than when a player does a dance in the endzone or high steps into the endzone or spikes the ball in the endzone? In light of the current emphasis on style points, I think we should replace the unsportsmanlike penalty with a judging system that awards points to the most stylish moves after a touchdown. This would be a good place to use the replay system: the guys sitting in the booth don't seem to be able to get many calls correct, probably because they are too entertained by the players' stylistic celebrations. Instead of making them review such meaningless things as whether a player scored or intercepted the ball or was down, we could give them scorecards to judge which players had the best post-play celebration and then award points to their team based on the judges decision.
In my book, style is when you play quality opponents and actually win; not when you play a team that is 2-20 over the past 2 seasons and beat them 77-0. Unfortunately the football pundits don't see it that way. Lets hope their ideas go out of style and we can return to football being about winning and losing.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Craft Shows Are Hazardous to Men's Health...

Over the past couple of months, I have attended 2 crafts shows with my wife. They were held in arenas and were generally enjoyable. I was one of 3 men who were not vendors at both of these shows. My goal in attending each was simple: walk with my wife, pretending I was interested in the jewelry, clothes, and and other booths while keeping my eye out for the food related booths. Both shows featured mom and pop organizations which cooked pies, dips, and other assorted sweets; nearly all of these booths also featured free samples.
I freely admit that I was there for the free samples; I was not the only person there for the food, however. I could identify the food booths very easily: they were the ones with a flock of women surrounding them. I generally limit myself to sampling each dip or food type one time; apparently, craft show women do not share my restraint. At each booth, I watched more than one woman sample each thing 3 or 4 times and, it should be mentioned, most of them did not buy anything and the same woman could be seen doing the same thing at other booths later.
Another characteristic that these women shared was that they lacked all social grace when it came to getting to the free samples. As one of the few males there, I felt like I should be courteous and wait my turn in line for samples; in doing so, I became a doormat. I would literally wait in line for a minute or two, finally get an opening to walk up to the booth, and a woman in a sweater with the words "World's Best Grandmother" or "Ask Me About My Grandkids" would cut me off, lowering her shoulder to push me out of the way, and then ignore the fact that I was trying to reach around her to get to the food. I didn't want to ask her about her grandkids, I wanted to tell her grandkids about their jerk of a grandmother.
Before these two shows, I always assumed that men did not attend such things because they lacked interest and had better things to do. After attending the shows, I realized men don't attend because most of us have qualms about hitting, pushing, or shoving women while women have no such qualms about hitting, pushing, or shoving men or women or children to get to free samples.
So guys, if you do decide to go to a craft show with your wife or girlfriend, a few words of advice: 1) Do try the food because it is delicious; 2) Don't expect to get any courtesy from anyone other than the person you came with; 3) Get behind the sweetest looking old lady you can when approaching a food table because I guarantee you she will shove her way to the front; and 4)Wear a cup because that same little old lady might throw an ill-placed elbow while you are following her.

Friday, November 03, 2006

West Virginia-Louisville Thoughts

I was completely surprised by this game. I thought Louisville would be handily beaten and that WVU would be a virtual lock for the BCS championship. I was happily surprised, however. After watching the game, I thought I was watching a PAC 10 game: all offense and no defense. This game merely proved what I have long thought: neither team plays anybody worth a crap (including each other). If they had, their defenses would not have been so highly vaunted coming into the game. I read columns which predicted a defensive battle because of statistics from prior games; those statistics were exposed as completely false. WVU has no passing defense whatsoever and Louisville's defense only won because WVU kept shooting themselves in the foot by fumbling.
I am hoping that this game will give some voters pause in annointing Louisville the presumptive BCS title game contender (they may lose next week to Rutgers, a.k.a. the powerhouse State University of New Jersey; just their name strikes fear in my heart). Ohio State's or Michigan's offense would make Louisville's defense look like a high school squad (pretty much like WVU did when they could hold onto the ball) and, here is the kicker, both Ohio State and Michigan actually have a defense, one that would demolish Louisville's offense.
After the game, I thought that the commentators had largely backed off their claims that the winner of this game, who lets be honest they all thought would be WVU by wide margin, was a lock for the BCS championship. I think they were surprised by how weak both teams looked on defense and maybe questioned their previous rhetoric that the Big East is a powerhouse conference on par with the SEC's and Big 10's of the world. I certainly hope so. While I would enjoy watching the Big East champion get buried by Ohio State or Michigan, I would enjoy a close game between the SEC champion and the Ohio State-Michigan winner even more.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Debates Last Night

I watched nearly all of the governor, lt. governor, and AG debates last night (I missed about 20 minutes of the governor's debate but I don't think anything in that 20 minutes would change my mind). My observations, for what they are worth:
Governor's debate:
Governor Riley mopped the floor with Lucy. Lucy looked tired and, at least on my TV, red in the face like somebody had covered her with too much blush make up. She stumbled all night and was completely unimpressive. The governor stuck to his theme of bringing integrity and openness to the state house, at times sounding like a broken record, but also sounding much more qualified and interesting than Lucy.
Lt. Governor's Debate:
This was a very close debate with 2 polished candidates. I would say that Luther won it but not by much. Folsom came off as an experienced politician with deep ties to Montgomery and Alabama politics; in many states, this would make him the winner but I am not sure it does in Alabama. It is no secret that the legislature in many ways is a millstone around Riley's (a very popular governor's) neck and is thought of as representing an older, in many ways out of date version of Alabama politics. Folsom sounded like the candidate of the old ways. Luther was a little less polished than Folsom, in that he did not sound like a career politician. He was well spoken and articulate but you could tell he had less political experience, which is not a bad thing and is one of the reasons I think he was better in the debate. He did a good job of tying himself to the governor and arguing that he would be a help, not a hindrance like his opponent, to the governor's agenda. If you watched the debate, you realized that there were real differences between the candidates, especially since Luther began his answer to each question with "this is another difference between me and my opponent." Folsom has run a Republican-esque campaign, playing up conservative themes and appealing to gun toting voters so I guess this was probably needed but it was a little bit weird after a while. Luther would have won the debate hands down, except that he did come across as a little too close to Washington--talking about his relationships with both Alabama senators and his ability to work with them to get more federal funding for transportation. This is obviously good for Alabama in the long-run but it also makes me slightly uneasy. Overall, however, Luther came across as the voice of change and the candidate who would help and not hinder the progress that Riley has made in Alabama.
AG Debate:
Now this was entertaining. The gloves came off immediately and stayed off for 30 minutes. I actually think both candidates won different elements of the debate. Tyson, if you ignored the fact that he could not finish an answer in the allotted time and appeared angry the entire debate, had the best substantive answers. He was for crime prevention and pretty easily painted King as being almost an enforcement only person; prevention is very important in any state, but especially Alabama, since our prisons are already filled to capacity with criminals. King, if you ignore his substantive answers, came off as the better, more personally appealing candidate. He maintained eye contact and did not look like he was about to bust a blood vessel like Tyson did all night. The dumbest thing King did was accuse Tyson of having no experience and saying that his use of plea bargains was bad. Tyson has tons of relevant experience as a prosecutor and plea bargains are important tools in our legal system that should be used. Before the debate I was leaning toward voting for Tyson; after the debate, I think I am just not going to vote for either candidate. I don't think Tyson has the temperment to be AG and I don't think King has the intelligence.
If you missed the debates, you missed some great political entertainment. We will see what effects they have on the races.
For other views on how the debates came out, see this link and generally.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

BCS: Benefitting Campuses [outside the] SEC

Tuberville was right about the BCS: it discriminates against the SEC. Think about the SEC this year: everyone says it is the best conference because Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Florida, and Georgia (all in the top 15 all season; at one point most of them were in the top ten) are in it. Beyond them, the mediocre teams this year (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina) could probably beat the top teams in many of the other conferences (Arkansas might should be in the top group but I am strictly going on rank there). The problem is that all of these powerhouses beat up on one another (see my Pyrrhic Victory and Defeat post). Put any of the top 5 teams listed above in another conference and they would have a much better chance of going undefeated and going to the BCS championship game. As it is, Auburn already beat LSU, Florida is currently beating LSU, Tennessee and Georgia square off tonight, later in the season Auburn and Georgia will square off, etc. Basically, to win out, one top ten team must beat 2 or 3 other top ten games in the regular season, then beat another one (or one they have previously beaten) in the SEC championship game, and then beat a non-conference top ten team in a bowl game. In a given season, a national champion from the SEC would have to win what would be 3 or 4 bowl games for most other teams. In between these games, they will also play 2-4 other teams ranked in the top 25 or which would be ranked in the top 25 if they had not been beaten by the top teams in the conference. It would be different if they could have Notre Dame's schedule of playing Michigan, Michigan State, USC but also Army, Navy, Air Force, and 3 or 4 other teams that the mediocre teams in the SEC would manhandle. Basically, they (and USC for that matter), play 3 or 4 games a year and have scrimmages with spectators in between. Their road to an undefeated season is markedly different than anyone's in the SEC.
Add to this a new phenomenon: ESPN's almost unabashed politicing against the SEC. Before you just call me bitter because they put GameDay at #2 USC v. #19 Nebraska instead of at #3 Auburn v. #6 LSU (no bias there, USC was obviously the better game considering they were favored by 18 and Auburn was favored by 3), consider who ESPN's analysts are: Corso (FSU fan), Herbstreit (Ohio State player), Rocket Ishmael (Notre Dame player), Mark May (Pitt player), Lou Holtz (long time Notre Dame head coach and FIRED South Carolina coach) and you can fill in the rest. The closest they come to having a commentator from the SEC on GameDay is when Charles Barkley (Auburn BASKETBALL player) is on. I used to watch GameDay religiously because it was the best college football show and played it pretty straight. However, in the last few years, especially since the BCS was instituted, they clearly have an agenda that is to promote conferences other than the SEC.
I believe there are a few possible solutions here: 1) institute a playoff (best possible solution); 2) eliminate the automatic bids for conference champions to the BCS and let #1 play #2, #3 play #4, etc. in the BCS rankings (still have the problem that SEC teams will beat each other and take hits in the rankings when other teams will cake walk to an undefeated season but its better than the current system); 3) do away with the BCS and go back to the old bowl system.
I don't usually whine an complain about things like the BCS, but I don't see any real way for an SEC team to ever win under it, even if they are the best team in the country. This year I am going to root for Florida for the remainder of the year (even though I am not a Florida fan) because they are the only SEC team with a chance to prove me wrong. Even if they win out, I am not sure they will make the championship game (my money is they won't because USC is a darling of ESPN and will be pushed as the second best team until they lose which they are unlikely to do and, if they do lose, ESPN will immediately jump on the West Virginia band wagon).
Another idea I had was for the SEC to immediately disband into 12 independent teams. Each year, the top 5 SEC schools should schedule to play USC, Notre Dame, and West Virginia each year back to back. The other games on their schedule should be 6 powder puffs (maybe the middle teams in the ACC, Big East, PAC 10, Big 12, and Big 10) and a few teams ranked in the top 25 (lower end of the top 25). A few things would happen: a) USC, Notre Dame, and West Virginia would not be undefeated most years; b) the SEC schools would be higher ranked by not beating each other up and having glorified scrimmages like other schools half of the year; c) ESPN might consider them on the same level with USC and West Virginia because they would no longer be in the SEC.
In conclusion: Go Gators (dang that hurts but desperate times call for desperate measures).

A Pyrrhic Victory and Defeat

Watching Auburn get manhandled all day by Arkansas and watching LSU currently getting beat by Florida (3rd quarter 23-7 so they could come back), neither team looks like a top 10 team although I think that they both probably are. The announcers during the Auburn game kept talking about how Tuberville said Auburn had not recovered from the LSU game and was still physically suffering. I am not sure I don't believe him. By the same token, I wonder if LSU is not still suffering physically too.
When 2 top ten teams, especially SEC teams, square off, it is bound to be a hit highlight reel. That game did not disappoint. However, I think both teams are still paying for it. Truly a pity they don't play in the PAC-10 with USC where you don't play a top ten team until the bowl game. Pyrrhic victories would seem to be much less common.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Halogen headlights should be illegal...

I smell class action. Seriously - they are distracting and dangerous! More on this later...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Born to spade...

It's Law Review season again, as The Namby Pamby recently reminded me...