Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Two Constants

There are two constants in college football. Just two simple truths that you can right down in the book at the beginning of every college football season.

1. Clemson is NOT going to be as good as you (or anyone else for that matter) thinks they are going to be.

2. Any school that had a successful, ambitious head coach leave the program only to have a loyal, devoted assistant take the reigns is doomed for failure.

Constant #1 explained:
Clemson came into the opening weekend ranked #9 in the nation. They were set to battle, yes, a ranked opponent, but a youthful #24 Alabama. I wish I could say that it was a good game, a well fought contest, a game that went down to the fourth quarter with the team who just "wanted it more" rising to the top and claiming victory. But that is not what happened.

Clemson was completely and totally man-handled. They were pushed around from the first play and, frankly, embarrassed in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The 34-10 Alabama beat down proved once again that Clemson is not the team that they think they are.

Now, I'm not saying that Clemson won't win a bunch of their games and eventually capture an ACC title but are they a top-ten team? Hardly. The part that makes ESPN dub this massacre a "shocker" is that no one expected the Tigers to collapse this early. Many probably felt they would win their seven games and then slip up when playing back-to-back games at Boston College and at Florida State. Instead they trip over their own feet early on and leave, of all teams, Georgia Tech looking like the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Constant #2 explained:
One of the top programs in the country over the past few years has been the West Virginia Mountaineers. They have ended the last three years, respectively, ranked 5, 10 and 6. Rich Rodriguez lead them to a point where they were in the National Championship conversation each year and put them on the map with a marquee win over the, then SEC Champ, Georgia Bulldogs in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. He pushed them into the national spotlight and made them a force to be reckoned with - despite playing in the Big East.

Then Michigan came calling. The glitz and glamour of a big-time, storied program lured Rodriguez away from what he had built. That's going to happen though. In college football, where you find success, you'll also often find poachers.

Enter Bill Stewart. Named the interim head coach prior to the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, Stewart had served, loyally, under Rodriguez as Quarterbacks Coach. He had also accumulated a lengthy resume of other schools and positions where he had served. Yet, never as head coach.

After a meaningless win over Villanova in week one, Stewart found himself traveling down to meet with Skip Holtz's East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium...

...How many of you have EVER asked yourself what East Carolina's stadium was called?...

...and the giant-killing Pirates took care of business, 24-3. East Carolina not only kept the Mountaineers from getting into the endzone but also held them to 251 yards of TOTAL offense.

I'm not going to say that Stewart has lost control of the program but they look bad...really bad. Not to mention that when you look at their schedule you begin to realize that UWV might be a 4-5 loss team. The bad thing is that there may not be anythign that Stewart can do about it. People just aren't going to by into what he's selling adn that will be most noticeable in his recruiting over the next year or so.

Florida State, Penn State...heed this warning. It's right around the corner.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The SEC is Better Than the Big 10

Just a great little ditty by our good pal Ryan Parker. Enjoy...knowing that we are just two short days away from the first Saturday of the college football season.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Three Quick Thoughts

Should your team (or my team for that matter) even consider bringing Barry Bonds in before the deadline?

The short answer is…yes.

You might be saying to yourself, “Self, why should my team subject itself and its good reputation to the acquisition of a steroid freak who has an ego bigger than Kirstie Allie after an all-nighter at the Ryan’s mega bar?”

Well, the first thing that you have to ask yourself is does Barry Bonds make your team better. You are going to have to be completely objective and look at it almost strictly from a statistical standpoint (plus, we have to assume that your team’s scouts feel that he can put up roughly the same numbers that he was averaging in the 2007 season).

Barry Bonds, if put on your team on July 25 and barring any type of injury, would get somewhere in the neighborhood of 225 plate appearances (not at bats…but actual attempts at the plate). He could probably hit somewhere around 18-20 homers and drive in about 40 runs. But more important than any of that is that he would actually reach base 110 times. 110 times?! There is not a team in baseball that couldn’t benefit from a guy getting on base almost 50% of the time that he walks up to the plate.

From a purely offensive standpoint, I think that he adds almost a run per game to your scoreboard. As for his play in left field…if you’re the Braves, it’s not really a step back.

Should the University of Texas retire the numbers of Vince Young and Kevin Durant?

The short answer is…yes and no.

Vince Young – he played three years of college football for the Longhorns. He was an All-American, he set Big 12 records, he won a National Championship and he brought glory to the boys in burnt orange.

Kevin Durant – he played one year of college basketball for the Longhorns. He was an All-American, he set Big 12 records, he didn’t win a National title but, like Young, he brought glory to the boys in burnt orange.

That all being said, there is one thing that Vince Young did that Kevin Durant has not – Vince Young finished his degree.

If you want your number immortalized, or in Durant’s case, “raised into the rafters” you have to be a model student athlete at the university in which you attend. Now, there is no doubt in my mind that Durant was one of the finest athletic specimens to EVER come through Austin but as far as his scholastic achievements go…he’s no better than that sketchy guy who just hangs out in the corner of the college bar staring at the local co-eds. They probably have the same amount of actual college experience.

Durant, finish your degree then you can have your number raised.

Should anyone be surprised if Heath Ledger is nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight?

The short answer is…no.

I know that Heath Ledger has passed away and that we are still in that stage of grief where no one wants to harshly critique anything that he ever did but his performance in The Dark Knight was phenomenal.

It was so evil and so diabolical and so utterly captivating that it made us forget that Jack Nicholson ever even played the role. It literally took the character to a completely different level and left me walking out of the theatre wanting to know what exactly it was that made The Joker tick.

I know that one day people will make another series of Batman movies. And I know that you cannot possible have Batman without having The Joker. Therefore, I know that one day someone else will probably be cast as The Joker. But all that being said, if Heath Ledger was the last person to ever play The Joker, I’d be okay with that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Special Sectional

So...

Some years ago – it’s not really important how long precisely – I found myself falling in love with sports and, well, history. I became engrossed with records. Things like who had scored the most points in NBA history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), who had scored the most touchdowns in an NFL career (Jerry Rice – who I was able to watch during the prime of his career) and who had hit the most home runs in Major League Baseball history (Atlanta’s own Hank Aaron – more on this another time).

Then, as my young sports mind grew, I began learning (via teaching aides like media guides and record books) who had won major championships in tennis and golf, how they had won them, who had won batting titles, scoring titles, won MVP Awards, etc.

Eventually, when I saw a “unique” play or circumstance, I found my curiosity wanting to know when the last time someone else had preformed that same feat.

Fast forward to June 2, 2008 where PGA Tour player, Jason Bohn, drops a 62 on the field at the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier at Ansley Golf Club-Settindown Creek. When was the last time that someone fired a ten-under 62 on this track? Well, never.

It was neat to be there and watch him tap in that last putt (one of his few pars on the round) and walk off the green with Ollie Schniederjans, a fellow competitor who was only 14 years old. Fourteen?! Who else in Sectional Qualifying could be that young? Well, no one.

I had the opportunity to see the youngest player to advance to Sectional Qualifying of the 2008 U.S. Open play golf alongside another player, the eventual co-medalist, who would shoot a course-record 62.

Not a bad day at the office…at least, for a Monday.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

-Dean Vernon Wormer
--Animal House

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rockin' Roger

So...

Just the other day the New York Daily News reported that our favorite boy of baseball, Roger Clemens, had a decade-long relationship with country music "star" Mindy McCready beginning back when he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox and was 28 years old. She, at the time, was 15 years old.

This got me thinking on a lot of different levels and at the end of it all I just have a feeling that this is not going to come off well for The Rocket.

First, forget the fact that Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin (which HAS to be a made-up name), said that Clemens "flatly denies having had any kind of an inappropriate relationship with her." We're not going to even touch that one. I'm not in the business of deciding what is appropriate or inappropriate. All I know is that my boy Goin used to constantly preach that "15 will get you 20." What I am perplexed about, however, is why Clemens had ANY KIND of relationship with a 15-year old.

I am 27 years old, almost the same age as Clemens when this alleged relationship began. I don't know ANY 15-year-old kids. None!...That includes family. So where did Roger even meet this girl?! You can't possibly tell me that Clemens had family friends that said, "Hey, Roger, come over here and meet Mindy. She's going to be huge in country music one day." And even if they did, what could he have possibly had in common with her that would have constituted a "relationship"?

After realizing that I had no friends that fell into the actuall category of what we would refer to as a "teenager," I began to think about how many friends I have that are actually girls. Now, I have many female friends that, in a social setting, I feel perfectly comfortable walking up to, giving a hug to and sharing a drink and converation with. That being said, I think that I might have one, maybe two, that I would actually feel somewhat comfortable hanging out with in a one-on-one situation...and I use "somewhat" for a reason. So, I can only imagine one female friend that I could hang out with that wouldn't yield a tremendously awkward situation and I'm not even putting an age restriction on it.

Now, I've decided that I don't know any teenagers and I have very few female friends that I could hang out with in a one-on-one setting. That makes me wonder what 28-year-old Roger Clemens did with 15-year-old Mindy McCready. Did they go out to dinner? To movies? Listen to music together? Not only that, but when did they do these things? Nights? Weekends?

Here's how I think things would go:
[On the phone]
Roger: Hi, Mindy. What's up?
Mindy: Not much just got home from school.
Roger: Cool. I'm getting ready for the game tonight. I'm pitching.
Mindy: Fun!
Roger: So, you want to go out later tongiht? Like, after the game?
Mindy: Sure, but I have to be in by 10 p.m. I have school tomorrow.
Roger: Oh, well the game probably won't be over before that...maybe we can hang out on Tuesday - we have an off-day.
Mindy: Okay. Want to go see a movie?
Roger: Great! That new movie "Total Recall" just came out and it looks AWESOME!!! Can you pick up the tickets?
Mindy: Well, I can't...it's Rated-R so you'll have to pick them up. But what about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"?
Roger: Ehhnnn...I don't know...
Mindy: Pleeeeeeease...
Roger [exasperated]: Fine.

There is one thing that I know will come out of this whole thing though. Roger Clemens will undoubtedly come off as being more of a sleazebag than ever before. I mean, people already didn't like him. Now, you're throwing a possible "scandal" out there? No way that he survives this.

The only other definite that I know about: I'm sure that my next post will be much more happy-go-lucky...unless I decide to write about the Braves pitching staff.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Quick Thoughts...

--All four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four this year (first time since the field was expanded to 64). My attempts at a winning bracket were destroyed after the first weekend of games though. Louisville helped me out near the end and Stanford tried to save me but, alas, Cheek is last in the ol' office pool once again.
--Lady Cheek is going to play bunko with her friends tonight. I don't have one male friend, not a single one, that can explain to me what the object of the game is. I'm not even sure it's a real game. I think that "bunko" could be a cover.

--As many of you know, when a team defeats Georgia in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, I go on record as not picking them for a five-year period. Xavier, you're on the clock!

--Because I feel like everyone should know that I'm not completely braindead: Despite my miserable attempt in the ol' office pool, my picks for the final game are still in tact (UCLA over UNC).

--Tom Glavine is making his first start in a Braves uniform in over five years. I'm going to go see him pitch. Maybe "bunko" is girl-talk for "Why don't you go take in a ballgame with one of you buddies?"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pure Madness

The most unproductive days of the year are about to begin...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscar Night - 2008

Bah-da-da-da-da-da-da Hollywood! Bah-da-da-da-da-da-da HOLLYWOOD!!!

It's Oscar night! This has always been one of my favorite award shows of the year. Normally I'll do a running diary for the night hitting all the highlights, and low-lights, but tonight has turned out to be a little different.

I just got about an hour into a diary when I realized that nothing has really happened. This has been kind of a boring Oscar night (as far as the Academy Awards go). The best picture nominees are all films that didn’t get seen by a huge number of people…even though everyone seems to claim that they saw Juno. Amongst all the acting nominees, there really isn’t any of those real “blockbuster” names. It’s just sort of a “let’s see who pulls out a couple statues” kind of night.

Jon Stewart has been doing extremely well as the host though. Not only was this guy laying down some great one-liners, he made one of the classier moves I’ve ever seen on the Oscar Stage when he let Marketa Irglova (who won for Best Song in her collaboration with Glen Hansard).

Note: Their song “Falling Slowly” is absolutely great and upon them winning I helped crash iTunes for a quick purchase.

Hansard and Irglova went up to get their statues and just as Marketa was taking to the microphone for her end of the thank you speech the mic lowered into the floor and the orchestra started playing. She left the stage without being able to say a word.

Stewart, however, came back from commercial and immediately re-intorduced Irglova and let her come out and give her thank you’s. Kudos to Jonny “Daily Show” for his classy move and for realizing that this girl deserves to have her moment even if it means that he has to give up a couple of jokes that will probably be forgotten in five minutes anyway.

The overall slowness of the evening, along with the many, MANY montages that the production crew put together for us (obviously fearing that the writers’ strike might still be going on) made me think about some of my favorite moments from the past few year’s - it made me think of some of the funnier, some of the joyful and some of the crazier moments. Here are a couple of good ones:



These are a few of my favorite moments but I can’t tell you how awesome it was to watch Ben Affleck and Matt Damon win Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting. It was like two of my buddies, guys my age had cracked through the Hollywood hierarchy and won something BIG. It was a really cool moment. Also, watching Robin Williams win later that night for his role in the same film was really great because we really got to see a different side of him.

But by far, the best part of the Academy Awards show, as long as I have been tuning in, was any time that Billy Crystal took the stage. This guy is the modern day Bob Hope and really should be allowed to host anytime he wants to. I understand that the Academy needs to “attract a more youthful demographic” but Crystal was just plain phenomenal. The guys sings, dances, tells jokes and is just genuinely one of the most entertaining persons in business.

So, all in all, was the Oscars telecast the best? No. was it the worst? No. Was it a great way to waste away a Sunday night after a long weekend? You betcha!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The End of a Season

We’ve really got some big things on our plate right now. Last week, the nominees for the 80th annual Academy Awards were released. The new season of television shows has begun (which means 24 is back for me...hopefully soon... and American Idol is back for everyone else). That all being said, we only have time for one thing right now – the culmination of the football season – The Super Bowl. Man, I hope I don't get sued for saying "The Super Bowl."

As many of you know, that means the annual pilgrimage to my buddy Bodner’s house to visit with friends, drink more than I probably should and stuff my face with food that I really shouldn’t be eating anyway. I mean, come on, right when we are supposed to be hitting our stride with the New Years’ resolutions…we get to the Supe...err...this big event about a big football game?! It really isn't fair.

The big change this year, with most of us in our mid to late-20’s and early 30’s, is that the festivities are being billed as “kid-friendly.” I find this funny because this in no way will decrease the amount of alcohol or harsh language that will be thrown around at this shin-dig. It basically just means that over in the corner of the downstairs room their will be an area for the kids to play and for mommy to watch them. Oh, how times have changed.

This event always reminds me, though, of just how transcendent this day has become. It truly is a national holiday. I explained this in my “Super Bowl Holiday” posting from a year ago. The amazing thing is how the game really is secondary. Sure, we watch it but there are very few people out there that have a legitimate routing interest. Compare that number with the number of people that will actually be watching and the ratio is staggering.

The commercials are a bigger production than the game as well. At no other point in American television will people gather around the set and at the first break yell, “Shut up, the commercials are starting!” I think that half of the audience out there is watching solely for the commercials. That just amazes me. But can you really blame people for wanting to check out Gisele B√ľndchen in the new Pepsi commercial?...I didn’t think so.

But what really defines this day? The fact that on a day that is completely synonomous with football, beer and chicken wings, Lady Cheek seems to be all about it.

Anyhow, my thoughts on the game:

What Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants have done over the past few weeks has been really nice. It’s been great to see the “little brother” get a chance to shine for a few moments. The Patriots are going for 19-0, however, and they are just plain better than the Giants. Period. End of discussion.

You don’t go 16-0 in the regular season, then win two playoff games, get to the Super Bowl and then “slip up.” And you certainly don’t if you have the kind of experience that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick (Note: you know, I have been repeatedly writing this guy’s name over the past couple months and continue to misspell it…) and the rest of the New England Patriots have in this particular atmosphere.

This really shouldn’t be a game.

Patriots 38, Giants 20.

Have a great time at the Supe...err...The Big Game!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Four Stories

The NFC and AFC Championship games will be planned on Sunday. This means that at the end of the day weekend we will have our Super Bowl match up ready to go. The nice thing about this year is that we are pretty much guaranteed to have two great stories fall into our laps for Super Sunday.

1. The New York Giants – It’s the emergence of Manning…but no the Manning that you are thinking of…the OTHER Manning…Eli. Not only has he led his team to the NFC Championship but his last two games have, arguably, been the two best games of his career. If he’s able to make it to the Super Bowl, wouldn’t it be a great photo-op to have Eli Manning settling into the pocket and completing a 22-yard TD pass while his brother Peyton cheers him on from the luxury boxes?

2. The San Diego Chargers – A team that started the season 5-5 before rattling off eight consecutive victories to get to the AFC title game. They have one of the best running backs in the game in Ladainian Tomlinson; a young, yet fiery, quarterback in Philip Rivers; a couple of solid wide receivers. That being said, almost all of those players are hurt…and they’re going up against the NFL’s best team…who just so happens to be 17-0 on the season thus far. The Chargers could be the team that had a rough start, figured things out, went to the AFC Championship and took down the giant.

3. The Green Bay Packers – Brett Favre. Need I say more? We have been sitting back waiting for this guy to retire for the past seven years yet he continues to come back. A couple of seasons ago, particularly during his 2005 campaign, I really thought that Favre had become one of those players that we hate to see – a great player that stuck around just a season too long. Well, Sir Brett of the Tundra has guided the Pack to 13 wins during 2007 and got them back to the NFC title game. Could this be the “last Hurrah!” for Brett? I doubt it…but if he wins the big one, that would be a heck of a way to go out.

4. The New England Patriots – The pursuit of perfection. I remember when I was a little kid and I saw the old ’72 Dolphins clinking their glasses and remembering the good ol’ days of their perfect season. Well, the Pats are looking to better the ‘Phins. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the crew are looking to become one of the best teams in NFL history, and certainly put up the best record. That being said, I have never seen a team more focused than New England. They have set their sights high but have not underestimated anyone. They play with a purpose that is unmatched by anyone I have ever seen.

As for my picks? Well, I'm taking the favorites...the Packers and the Patriots.

Manning and the Giants have had a great run but the Packers are just too strong - on both sides of the ball. I think it will be a close game and will probably come down to a big play in the fourth quarter. That's the main reason that I like the Packers though. Favre has been there too many times and has too much experience to let the moment get to him. Eli's time will come one day...it just won't be Sunday.

Tom Brady just has way too many weapons (Randy Moss, Ben Watson, Wes Welker...I really could keep going on). If Rivers, Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates cannot play, then it should be a good, old-fashioned Boston Massacre. Even if the Bolts were playing at 100%, I'd have a tough time picking them over the Pats.

Well, just like those smug old men who wear the old Miami Dolphins uniforms, I’ll have my champagne ready to go at the end of the day. Because regardless of the outcome of either one of these championship games, we are going to have two great story lines for Super Bowl Sunday!

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Back to the Blog

Well, I’m just now getting back into the swing of things after “my long winter’s nap” of the holiday season. A lot has been going on over the past couple of weeks that we haven’t had the opportunity to talk about. Therefore, over the next week or so we’re going to be tackling some of those issues.

Things to look forward to:
-Tom Glavine putting back on a Braves uniform
-LSU capturing college football’s national title
-Goose Gossage getting into the Hall of Fame
-Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson

And most recently (as in today), the start of the second round of the NFL Playoffs.

So, here’s where we are: Lady Cheek is out with some of her girls tonight, so you know what that means for me – a night of rotting my mind and teeth! I’ve decided to turn this afternoon and evening into a nice little NFL Football Day (which I don’t do very often). But Brett Favre and Tom Brady are playing today. It’s a big day.

So, without further delay, a nice little NFL Day Diary…

8:12 p.m.: The New England Patriots, and their 16-0 record, just kicked off to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

8:19: J-ville is going for it on fourth down on their first drive?!...AND they got it?! Holy crap! Talk about setting a tone.

8:23: Jacksonville just scored a touchdown on a crazy pass play from Garrard to Matt Jones. Are we about to see the Pats fall?!

8:29: Brady’s first five-step drop…SACKED. All Jags, all the time!

8:30: The Pats pick up 33-yards on a short pass to Laurence Maroney.

8:32: Brady says we’re going for it on fourth down too. I’ll show you David Garrrrrard! And…got it.

I’m betting that the punter for the Patriots just used that little phone that they keep on the sidelines to call across the field to the Jaguars’ punter and say, “Seriously dude, we should just go home.”

8:34: Touchdown Ben Watson! Alright…Go Dawgs.

8:40: Okay, I can already tell that this is going to be a short diary. There has been roughly four seconds of actual football over the six minutes. The commercial breaks are going to kill me.

8:43: Garrard fumbles and the Pats recover…here we go. And just to throw it out there, Brady and the Patriots are just grueling to play defense against. They just find ways to get first downs over and over again.

8:46: End of the first quarter. 7-7.

Jimmy Johnson is in one of the new Coors Light commercials. You know, the ones that have the guys in the press conferences asking the stupid questions. I want someone to try to convince me that it wouldn’t be a good idea to just tie Johnson to a chair toss him off a bridge. Seriously, just try.

8:50: The Pats just stuck it into the endzone on the first play of the second quarter…and back to commercials…

And ah yes, our first erectile dysfunction commercial. It just wouldn’t be NFL Football without one. I love it when the guy starts talking about the side effects. Sure you might not be able to walk again, and you’ll probably vomit after each meal while you eventually go deaf and blind…but hey, when your wife is ready to go, you’ll be ready.

8:53: The Pats kickoff, tackle the Jags on their own 5-yard line and then we are back to the commercials…

Big Brother 9?! Are they still actually making this show? Who’s watching this stuff? Speaking of television shows...we’re also going to have to talk a little bit about what has been happening in the television world. That’s another entry for another day but just add that to the list.

9:03: Okay, I just watched the Jaguars drive the length of the field as if to say, “We will NOT go quietly into the night.” Brady and Bill Belichick don’t look amused.

9:09: CBS just showed us the passing stats in the game so far. Garrard – 11-12, 141 yards and two TDs; Brady – 7-7, 81 yards and one TD. This can’t last that long, can it? And with a player down, we’ll go to commercial…

A new movie called 10,000 B.C. is coming out in March. From what I gathered from the trailer, it’s pretty much all mammoths and saber-tooth tigers. Is there anyone of note in this movie? IMDb says, “No.” I mean, when you’re making a movie about that time period you have to know that there isn’t going to be a lot of clothing. The casting director HAS to go to the producers and say, “Listen, we have to get Jessica Alba in this movie, pony up!”

9:18: We’re at the 2-minute warning and there has been one incomplete pass so far…IN THE GAME.

9:25: The Patriots kicker goes wide right on a field goal attempt before the end of the second half. Only time will tell if that comes back to bite the Pats.

9:31: Halftime. 14-14. Pretty good ball game. I’ll have to stick around for the second half.
Well, the CBS crew is putting me to sleep so I am going to wrap this thing up. I’ll be writing more throughout the week. Don’t be a stranger.