2005-11-29



Yes, yes, the Colts are 11-0. It is amazing, but the undefeated talk is premature - and I think they'd be the first to agree. Of their five remaining opponents, three are solid teams playing for playoff positioning, and they aren't about to let the coronation parade run over their aspirations. I believe Indianapolis is capable of beating anyone in the NFL right now when they are playing their "A" game. Only Indy can screw this up for Indy.
-- B --

Yes, yes, a USC vs. Texas championship game appears inevitable. Those who say the USC v. UCLA game will be close probably have a vested interest in you watching that game. Pittsburgh v. Indianapolis was supposed to be close as well. USC will handle the Bruins. And, Texas will handle Colorado representing the juggernaut that is the Big XII North.

At this point I really don't have a quarrel with USC and Texas. There isn't one other team that has made a convincing case for consideration. Sure the Trojans and 'Horns have played weak schedules. The difference between these two and those who we'll be hearing cry over the next month or so is that Texas and USC defeated the opponents they should have beaten. Look at the one and two loss teams. Each of them has a loss in a game they should have won.
-- B --

Of course now it appears that everything has been tied up in a nice, neat bundle for the BCS. Two clear contenders in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame and the big payday that they represent in the Fiesta. You'll have a couple of disgruntled teams, but you have that every year.

Just think what a mess it would make of things were Colorado to beat Texas in the Big XII Championship, or if UCLA were to beat USC and take the Pac 10 crown, or both!? Suddenly you've got one or two teams that you hadn't expected in the BCS automatically, and one or two teams, Texas and/or USC among those vying for one of the two at large spots. And you no longer have a clear #1 and #2.

So this week I'm a Colorado and UCLA fan.
-- B --

Yes, yes, the firing of Steve Mariucci is ... laughable? irritating? silly? Everyone's probably got a different word for it. My thought ... it shouldn't have happened. I am not a big fan of mid-season firings unless there is a very specific purpose behing the timing, such as when a college coach is fired so as not to blow the whole recruiting season. For the Lions, what? It's not like you're going to make a run at the playoffs.

More basically though, Mariucci wasn't at the root of the problem. Granted, he wasn't setting the world on fire as the Lions' coach. But he did lift the team from really awful to simply pathetic in his two years. Unless the guy was going to bring his players with him from San Francisco, you really couldn't count on San Francisco results.

Detroit was a mess before Mariucci got there and they'll continue to be a mess after he leaves. For that matter they were a mess before Matt Millen got there and will continue to be if and when he leaves. Firings don't fix things ... putting the right people in the right positions does.
-- B --

And in case you missed it, Sen Arlen Specter (idiot-PA), having "fixed" baseball is now weighing in on the TO situation. You've got to feel for the Eagles on this. After the arbitrators ruling, this thing had pretty well died down and we just finished our first nearly TO-free weekend. Then a friggin' Senator has to go and bring the whole thing back up again! Might be some antitrust implications here?

Unbelievable. As if TO wasn't bizarre enough on his own. Throw Jesse Jackson and Arlen Specter into the mix and you've got a bona fide circus here. How this guy (Specter) still calls himself a Republican is beyond me. I mean, here naive little old me is hoping that these guys will eventually reduce the size and role of the federal government while this joker just can't seem to find enough places to stick his nose!

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2005-11-23



If you believe the commercials, here is a profile of the average football fan:

Unshaven. Dresses like a 6th grader. Rarely showers - you'd have to get up off the couch to do that! Loves mindless sitcoms. Eats chili and other tomato-based hot foods without utensils and then wipes his hands on the Dan Marino jersey that he's been wearing since the 80's ... you know, back when it fit. Now, years and thousands of cases of beer later his hairy gut has crawled out from under the bottom of said jersey. Shows more affection to his fellow food-stained jersey-wearing, steel worker looking cohorts after his team scores an improbable touchdown than he has to his wife in years. This makes sense since his relationship with his wife is closer to that of mother and child than life partners. During football season he loses all conception of time, work, family, ... pretty much anything but football. Could recite ten years worth of his team's stats, but not his own phone number.

Thankfully he's too dim and too preoccupied with convincing anyone who will listen that his 1 win, 9 loss team still has a strong shot at the Super Bowl to figure any of the rest of this out.

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Woo-hoo, my lucky day!! I went to the mailbox last night and found that I am the lucky recipient of free AOL service until my grandson graduates from college! Sweet.

P.S. for those who don't know, I don't even have kids yet, which is probably due to me not even having a wife yet. But I've got that AOL service!

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I'm a big Law & Order SVU fan (although lately I'm shifting to CI as I feel like I've seen every SVU episode 300 times), and Richard Belzer is one of my favorite actors. He's got that likeable in a dark, brooding way thing going on. He's one of those stars that I've always figured would probably be cool to hang out with in real life as well.

Then he showed up on Celebrity Poker. Turns out the guy is an obnoxious buffoon. Who'd have thought?

I guess those celebrity shows are good for something. From Celeb Poker ... Likeable: Dave Navarro (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dule Hill (West Wing), Dean Cain (some Superman offshoot I think), and Wendy Pepper (Project Runway, amazingly a reality show contestant who translated to celebrity quite well). Annoying or just plain full of themselves: Belzer, James Woods (fancies himself a poker god and is therefore condescending to everyone, audience included). And in a category by herself is gymnast Oksana Baiul. She's very attractive and seemed nice enough. Problem is, she didn't have very good command of the English language, so while the card playing was going on everything was fine. But when it came time for the interesting banter she was dead air.

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2005-11-22



The other day I was shaving and I started reflecting on "Shattered Glass," the movie I'd watched the night before. It was the story of the New Republic writer who fabricated all of his stories. As usual, the movie was cheezy, but it's an interesting story so it was bearable. Anyway, as I started shaving, I started reflecting ...

Step 1 - Pretty good movie. No, weak movie, horrible acting. Just an interesting story is all.

Step 2 - The guy who played glass had some odd mannerisms. Whenever I see something like that I wonder if it is poetic license, or if they went back and found out that that's how the guy really was. I mean, for a guy it was weird, but for a wormy little fraud, maybe. For example, whenever he was questioned he would get all mopey and say things like, "You're really mad," or "Do you hate me?"

Step 3 - Those are the kinds of things women would say, and men wouldn't. Not in the workplace. I wonder if that made the guys he worked with suspicious or annoyed. I wonder if they wondered if he was gay.

Step 4 - It's weird how different the workplace is with a heavy female population. Women are all about flaunting their emotions. Guys don't do it. With a guy, if you ever find yourself wondering if they are mad, it ends there. You don't ask. Once you realize that they might be mad, that they would have grounds to be mad, that's enough. You've already decided to fix the problem. If appropriate you apologize and then re-double your efforts.

Step 5 - It's like at work lately, we find ourselves purposefully doing a lot of things, not because it will make us better or more efficient, not to better serve our kids. No, we go out of our way because such-and-such happened and now so-and-so and so-and-so are in a tizzy over it, and we don't want to do anything to put them in any more of a tizzy. Accomodating emotions, however unproductive they are.

Step 6 - It would seem that by saying, "OK, we'll adjust because you are in a state right now," would encourage people to just give their emotions free rein, and thereby discourage professional behavior and restraint.

Step 7 - Until now, I've worked in companies that were pretty well dominated by men. Now I'm in a predominantly female environment. I like working with men better.

Step 8 - It's like last week when VP x had someone who had gotten behind in her work. What did they do ... they had a big meeting with all the VP's there and VP x's department. They decided that they would pull the employee out of her position for a week and let her focus on getting caught up. The other departments will supply people to fill in for the employee while she does this. Anywhere else VP x would have been embarrased to suggest such a thing.

Step 9 - (done shaving now) Man, what got me thinking about THAT?

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... how stupid people look when they are chewing gum. I guess I notice it most when I'm in public and a cashier or other front-line employee is chewing. Very un-professional. Worse yet, we've got someone in the office that makes noise when chewing. Absolutely gross.

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2005-11-21



Rave: Watched the Indianapolis v. CIncy game today. Amazing. Not so good if you are a fan of defense - this was an offensive showcase. And I think the formula for beating the Colts is obvious. You simply have to make no mistakes and score a touchdown every single time you have the ball.

And while I'm usually one to run the other way when the talking heads start gushing over a player, in the case of Peyton Manning I'm on board. It is mind-boggling watching this guy manage a game. WIth a solid run game anchored by Edgerrin James, an intelligent QB, a top flite receiver in Marvin Harrison and a solid "D", Indy has the ingredients that have propelled other teams to multiple championships.

Rant: The Miami Hurricanes returned to form Saturday in their lost to Georgia Tech. Nothing against the Yellow Jackets. They have been solid all year. But the 'Canes were a shell of the team that dominated Va Tech two weeks ago. And this one is on the coaching staff. Miami lacked a plan for this game, or their plan was "let's have our unproven and erratic QB try to beat a strong defense. Miami has succeeded when they've established the run and kept Kyle Wright from having to do too much. Saturday their feeble rushing attempts seemed insincere at best.

Rave: I'll say one thing for USC - they are tops in the halftime adjustment department. They always seem to win their games handily, yet they've had their first half struggles, including Saturday's battle with Fresno State. They enter the locker room at the half seemingly embroiled in the fight of their lives and come back out and own their opponents.

Rant: Have I mentioned that Lee Corso is a big idiot. Saturday he picked Michigan State over Penn State. Why? Michigan State was supposed to be mad for some reason, and the weather was cold, which was to be "a great equalizer." You know how it is, that cold weather really slows down teams from balmy, tropical paradises like Pennsylvania! Penn State had the game in hand by halftime.

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2005-11-18



Trump - Apprentice 4OK, time for some catching up. On my last post, Trump had just decimated Team Excel by firing four of its members, setting up the quietest four-person cab ride in history.

Prior to the next task, Trump allowed Excel to choose one member from Capital Edge, and Randal returned to his former team. At the time I thought they had set up a dream team: Randal, Rebecca, Marshawn and Brian.

The first task seemed to bear that out as the teams developed an adult learning class for the learning center. Randal led Excel in taking the safe road. Their subject - getting noticed. While Harvard B-School may not be co-opting the course any time soon, the topic allowed the Excel members to play to their own strengths. Their bright personalities and communication ability won the day. Essentially Excel laid back and left it to Capital Edge to make fatal mistakes.

That they did! Their topic, "Sex in the workplace," was a potential blockbuster! But, it turned out to be no more than a sophomoric, locker room/slumber party type gab session.

Two big controversies for CE in this one. First Markus wasn't playing well with others, again. He adopted what had become his normal strategy of, "If you don't take my instant big idea and run with it, then I'm just going to sit in a corner and sulk for the whole task."

And then Clay directed what appeared to be an anti-Semitic remark to Adam during the team's presentation. Granted, Clay has been an uncooperative boor, pretty through this whole season, but I've got his back on this one. Adam, is a likeable but innocent person. And he played off of that several times during his part of the presentation with "... but I'm just an innocent Jewish boy from (wherever)," type remarks. When Clay interjected his comment it appeared that he was just trying to continue on this rhetoric. Unfortunately the specific words he used were poorly chosen, but it's Clay. That's how he rolls.

In the boardroom Adam was under the gun for the team's overall concept, which wouldn't have been an issue had the team executed on it better. Clay was under the gun for the previously mentioned remark plus some other crude comments that he made.

But Markus won the pink slip for his continued non-participation. With his habit of using many words to say nothing, Markus was unable to mount anything resembling a defense in the boardroom. On his way out I believe that Markus was probably the most openly defiant to the Donald's face of anyone in any season to date.

So, it appeared that Excel had a strong team and was ready to go on a roll. The following week the teams were tasked with developing a promotional display for the release of the Star Wars III DVD and video game at a Best Buy store.

At Capital Edge, Clay took the reins and proceded to pretty much let Alla run things and do a great job. However, when any of the Donald's team were around, or the execs who would be judging, Clay did a fabulous job of appearing to be on top of things. The team was on the brink of losing whatever advantage Alla's great concept had earned when she and Clay engaged in subtle verbal sparring during their presentation.

Over at Excel the roof caved in. PM Brian severely underestimated travel time and caused his team to miss their meeting with the corporate execs - the meeting at which they would have learned what the priorities for this task were, and subtle Star Wars knowledge such as ... Darth Vader is a main character! As a result, the Dark Lord of the Sith was not to be found on the team's display. To make matters worse, Marshawn was assigned the presentation and then decided to bail 30 minutes before showtime. Rebecca jumped in and did a noble job, but the mission was already too far gone.

Capital Edge won a clear victory, but the team voted unanimously NOT to give PM Clay immunity. At his best Clay does nothing. At his worst he's a major obstacle for his own team.

In the board room the heat was on Brian for missing the meeting and a general poor performance, and Marshawn for abandoning her team at the last minute. In the end Trump fired them both, and once again Excel found itself gutted.

Trump opened the most recent episode by inquiring if Clay was happy on his team. Clay openly requested a change of scenery. Surprisingly, when asked Randal and Rebecca were both enthusiastic about the prospect of Clay joining their team. My theory: it really looked like Trump was going to move Clay regardless of what the Excel members thought, so Randal and Rebecca were trying for a smooth start with the difficult Clay, and to show the Donald that they could tackle any disaster with a positive attitude. Welcome Clay!

This time the teams were tasked with auditioning artists and then producing a song to air on XM Radio's edgly alternative station, XM Cafe. Both teams seemed to really get into the auditioning process and laid solid groundwork with their artists.

Then the Clay factor emerged as Excel's volatile new member resorted to his "my way or the highway" ways.

Having shed the dead weight of Markus and Clay, Capital Edge looked like the dream team, and the XM reps loved their product. While Excel came up with a cool song, they failed on two fronts: 1. Their song didn't fit the XM Cafe audience, and 2. Randal developed a promo poster but listed the wrong channel for XM Cafe. Capital Edge wins again.

In the board room no one was safe. Rebecca took a hit for a general poor performance by her team. Randal's station number snafu got him in trouble. And, it was once again pointed out that Clay has been a royal pain in the hinder all along. In making his decision, the Donald fell back on the candidates' past history - Randal and Rebecca have been stars while Clay has been living on the edge. At long last, Clay was sent packing.

Outlook:

So we're down to five, and I must admit, it appears to be a strong field. If the teams hold, Randal and Rebecca against Felishia, Alla and Adam should be a great match for the final pre-interview task (assuming this season will follow the same end-game as previous seasons).

No chance: Adam. Nice guy, very likeable, but he's weak. In the intense board room battles to come, he won't be able to hold his own.

Weak: Felishia. She and Alla are like twins, but it has become clear that Alla is the talent and Felishia is riding her coat-tails. Felishia's not bad, but she clearly isn't as good as the others.

Strong but has some work to do: Rebecca. Clearly a favorite of Trump's team, but! She seems to shine the brightest in losing efforts. In addition, she's on crutches right now. Sounds strange, and it shouldn't be a factor, but late in the game the tasks always seem to involve a lot of running around. So far Rebecca has handled it well, but it's an extra load that the others don't have to carry. If, however, she and Randal can post a big win in the final task, her stock goes up and she communicates well, so I believe she'll do well on the interviews. Don't count her out.

Blue-chippers: Randal and Alla. Alla has last season's winner Kendra's creativity, but she combines it with an appealing personality and strong business instincts. It doesn't hurt that she's blonde and attractive. I have a hunch that might play well with the Donald. Randal is intelligent, likeable and also has great business instincts. A Randal v. Alla final would be awesome.

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2005-11-16



MLB and the Players' Union that runs it are certainly proud of themselves over the new steroid policy. No doubt numerous Congressmen will eventually step up to take credit as well.

It's a good policy as it stands - definitely has bigger teeth. 50 games for a first-time offense. But I guess I'll be more on board when I see a name I know sitting on the bench for 50 games. MLB had never had the combination of Policy, Will and Relevance to make this work. Let's see if they do now.

If you are MLB, enforcing this policy can hurt your product. What if Giambi pops again? What if you finally nail Barry Bonds just as he is closing in on Ruth or Aaron? Well, actually on that last one, they'll just handle it like they did Palmeiro, keeping the news under wraps until after he breaks the record.
In the past they didn't have to worry about this. They could pay lip service to the situation because their policy didn't do anything. Now with a tough policy on the books, only time will tell if they have the will to carry it out, whatever the cost. This past year, their little Saturday Night Special of a plan netted Palmeiro and a handful of guys I've never heard of. Not bad, but not exactly cleaning house either.

And if it isn't already, part of the problem will be the relevance of the tests. MLB may well succeed in chasing out steroids only to have a new substance move in. To be effective MLB must be willing not only to enforce their policy, they must also keep up with innovation.

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2005-11-15



Here we go ... Bill Snyder is retiring as coach of the Kansas State Wildcats. Stand by for all the stories about how he took this crappy team and built it into a "powerhouse."

Smoke and mirrors. That is Snyder's contribution, not just to Kansas State but to the Big XII as a whole. Snyder showed the rest of college football that you can't get beat if you don't play anyone who might be able to beat you. And if you don't get beat you'll eventually rise above those other teams who do get beat.

I'll give him credit for taking the Wildcats from a team that really sucked, to mediocre. The rest of K State's improbable rise is an illusion - a product of Nebraska's decline, not having to play Oklahoma every year, and the media-driven "the Big XII is awesome" fairy tale.

I'm reading stories recounting those years where the Wildcats were one heartbreaking loss away from the National Championship picture. True enough. For two or three years in a row K State was in the thick of things right up until they played their first quality opponent late in the season and proceeded to get hammered.

That's what the rosy-spectacled Big XII apologists are conveniently forgetting. In those mythical years, when K State finally got beat, these weren't narrow defeats. They didn't leave you walking away thinking, "Hmm. Team X stole one today. K State is still real good, they just caught the wrong team on the wrong day." They got hammered, leaving us grasping for their schedule trying to figure out why we thought they were any good in the first place.

Also conveniently forgotten is the fact that in each year, after the Championship was tragically wrestled from them, K State went on to drop their bowl games to teams that, for all the K State hype, should have been monumentally inferior.

Thanks Coach Snyder. For your next trick, would you mind making the BCS disappear?

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OK, notice ... hey! Pay attention! Notice that I've added an "email me" link at the top of my menu bar. This is for all you spammers. OK, it's for anyone that wants to email me, but spammers are explicitly instructed to use this, NOT THE COMMENTS!

"Hey, I just happened upon your blog. It's really cool. You should really check out this blog/product/website/service!" No one cares and it's not comment material. If you must, email me. I can delete emails quicker than I can delete your comments, but rest assured you will be deleted either way.

Honestly, do you think anyone is going to think to themselves, "Hmm. What a nice person. They were surfing the web, happened upon my blog and were so taken with it that they decided to tell me about something really cool. It's probably NOT something they are sharing with thousands of bloggers - just me because they like my blog soooo much. I think I'll check it out. First however, let me get my credit card just in case I get the chance to purchase something."

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2005-11-14



Chris MoneymakerGreg RaymerIt took a while but after getting side-tracked I finally finished Chris Moneymaker's book. In a post shortly after starting the book, I noted my discomfort with Moneymaker's obvious problem gambling. For those who don't know, Chris Moneymaker is the Tennessee accountant who came from nowhere, won a seat in the 2003 World Series of Poker through an online tournament and then won the WSOP, ushering in the Poker craze. My wish at the time was that the book would not wind up being an endorsement of recklessness.

Well, it wasn't that. To his credit, Moneymaker was very honest about himself from start to finish - not so honest that he's getting help, but he lays himself bare.

The problem is that while the destructive behavior is there, it isn't identified for what it is. The book is a very dry, neutral narrative of Moneymaker's history and then the run through the WSOP. IMHO it was poorly written - thankfully it's an interesting story.

Here's the thing. In the Poker world, and that's the book's audience, this story is being peddled as a fairy tale. Lost is the tremendous opportunity to see the destructive potential of gambling addiction.

Moneymaker talks about being deep in debt, having suffered a number of severe gambling-inflicted blows already, as he is playing the satellite tourney that would vault him into the WSOP. His initial goal was not the seat in Vegas. He started out shooting for the $8K fourth place prize. When he started doing well his buddy agreed to give him half of the $10K value of the WSOP seat in cash for a share of whatever he won.

He had a chance to have his cake and eat it too - some cash with which to pay bills and ease family stress, and he gets to take a free crack at the WSOP. Instead, he took the cash with him as he flew to Vegas early to get used to the live game, and blew a chunk of it betting on a baseball game before he'd even sat down at his first Poker table. By the time the WSOP started, the cash was gone.

And what resulted from his 7-figure payday? Problems solved, right? No. Moneymaker is going through a divorce, and living an unreal life of Poker and wealth. The demons are still there, but his cash keeps them at bay. Money doesn't change things, it magnifies them.

During the 2004 WSOP, Moneymaker showed up day one hung over and having gotten no sleep. Wiped out at the start of what should have been a 12+ hour poker marathon, Moneymaker didn't last to the first break.

During this year's event, one of the announcers pointed out that Moneymaker has been restless and unsettled ever since his big win, while last year's champ Greg Raymer has seemed at ease and been very successful. It couldn't be more obvious. Raymer is one of those likeable guys who had solid roots coming into his big run-in with success, and didn't loose those roots in the aftermath. This year Moneymaker crapped out on day 2, while Raymer finished way up in the money, placing #25 out of 3-4,000 players.

Moneymaker is the Poker equivalent of the lottery winner who ends up broke within three years. He is very honest at the tail end of the book when he points out that the Poker player's lifestyle is not a great model for others. Unfortunately, what can't be controlled is that while it may not be a great one, it is none-the-less a model for a legion of young players, some who are grounded, some who aren't, that dream of being the next Moneymaker.

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Quick, name someone who could damage TO's hopes of abandoning his reckless, selfish, out-of-touch, loose cannon image more than agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Bonus points to anyone who guessed Jesse Jackson. Yup, there was JJ with TO in front of the cameras (where else?). Not that anyone has suggested that this is a race issue. Of course to the Rev, if there's a situation that's newsworthy, there's got to be a race problem in there somewhere, and he's just the one to find it. TO has now moved to the head of Randy Moss' and Keshaun Johnson's Christmas card list.
-- B --

Interesting results in ESPN's "Who is #3?" poll. The given choices were LSU, Miami, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Other. At first I figured Miami, as they seem to have sentiment momentum since solidly beating Va Tech. But then again you can't swing a dead cat anywhere in this country without hitting a Notre Dame alum. The results ... the home states each went for their own team including Ohio which went for "Other" which I would assume is Ohio State. Most of the rest of Big 10 country went for Penn State narrowly over Miami. The SEC West states went for LSU. And most of the rest of the country went for Miami. Interestingly Wyoming and South Dakota went for Notre Dame. Apparently, of the three sports fans that live there, two are Notre Dame grads.
-- B --

Now that Alabama has fallen and, surprise of surprises, Texas and USC don't have any difficult teams remaining on their schedules, stand by for the "See, the BCS does work," talk. Have nothing to do with it. Referring back to the previous question, you've got at least four teams who could make a case for consideration in the National Championship picture if there weren't two undefeated teams. What if Leinart and Bush had gone pro? What if Jim Tressell could have decided on a QB? What if that call in the Notre Dame-USC game had gone the other way? What if there were one other good team in either the Pac 10 or Big XII? Don't tell me the BCS works. Over the past three years you've had one key team on the outside looking in with a legitimate complaint. This year you could have a half dozen or more. This whole thing is a play or two and a decision or two away from being a huge mess. Color me rooting for whoever plays USC and Texas.
-- B --

Little known nuggets on the mascot controversy front. Apparently the status quo's momentem arising from the Tallahassee exception was short-lived. The U of Illinois Fighting Illini pointed out to the NCAA that their name was based on their state's name. The NCAA quite agreed and ruled that the state name would have to be changed. Finalists in the name the state contest: South Wisconsin, Chicago and Friends, and Steve. Actually this isn't the first mascot controversy. Back in its formative years, Notre Dame's nickname was the Drunken Brawling Irish. Compromise gave us the Fighting Irish which seemed permanent enough. Now one wonders how long til some gender-confused Irish person becomes offended and jams the Serene Into Zen Irish down our throats. All of this is just the opening Greenpeace has been looking for as they prepare to go after Stanford (the Cardinal), Ohio State (some kinda nut, I think) and Nebraska. In Omaha they'll be buying up info-mercial time for their campaign and airing graphic documentary footage of the corn-husking process. Note, this is not for the squeamish. As soon as the ACLU can figure out what a Hoosier is, they'll be getting in the game too. (Editor's note: some of this was not true)
-- B --

OK, seriously, how lame is the Illinois ruling? Your nickname can be Illini, but your mascot can't be an Illini. North Dakota is still appealing which I know has the College sports world on pins and needles. It will be hard to imagine North Dakota as anything else besides ... ahhh ... whatever their mascot is right now. This was one of those things that can't be case by case and be taken seriously. If the NCAA was going to do this, they needed to do it across the board, no exceptions. Now, mind you, I don't think the NCAA should have stuck their nose in this to begin with. They wound up having to make exceptions because these mascots aren't always the affront that certain knee-jerks make them out to be. In addition, the matter was sorting itself out as a number of schools had already changed. By the way, I think St John's changing from the Red Men to the Red Storm is one of the coolest upgrades of all time. Marquette's shift from Warriors to Golden Eagles on the other hand ... weak.
-- B --

Finally, allow me to dote on Steve Spurrier one more time. This guy is my hero, and have I mentioned how great it is to have him back in the college game? He played the whole Carolina-Florida meeting just right. In advance he side-stepped all the invitations to talk smack. You know he was thinking, "Heck ya we can win this, but I'm keeping my mouth shut cuz if this just boils down to an athlete vs. athlete contest, we lose." Instead, another demonstration of just how important the coach is. Case in point: Urban Meyer's decision to kick a field goal with under three minutes left and Florida down by 11. Math is apparently not Meyer's strong suit. That field goal took the Gators from being down and needing two scores to win, to ... being down and needing two scores to win. Sure, after the FG, now one of the two scores needed can be another FG, but he was still banking on hitting the onside kick not once, but twice as well as making two field goals of moderate distance! Sorry, I'll take trying to pick up 15 from scrimmage over that parlay any day. Better yet, since you have a timeout in the bag, how about not taking the delay of game.

But this quote is why I appreciate Spurrier: "It's more fun when your team is not a dominating team, ... It's neat the way our guys are winning. We are defying logic." This guy loves his craft. Spurrier rocks. If he can do this well next year, he'll start to make some serious headway on his recruiting deficit, then look out!

As for the SEC East title ... people say, "Georgia just has to lose to Auburn and Kentucky and the Gamecocks are in," like it's a coin flip at worst. Ummm, Auburn maybe. Kentucky ... LOLOL. If it was the Lady Bulldogs basketball team, maybe. UK would have to try to keep it close and steal it at the end, though.

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2005-11-13



OK, I've had it with the opportunistic grandstanding on Capitol Hill.

Let's see Barbara Boxer, how does this work? You throw out some seemingly HUUUUUGE numbers ... billions! Everyone's already tweaked over what they're paying at the pump and all of a sudden ... this it outrageous! These guys are modern day robber-barons. We need to fix this with some special taxes! Yeah, that's it. Taxes. That always gets things moving.

Now there are any number of ways that this is all ridiculous posturing. Adjust the price of gas for inflation and the argument ends right there. But that requires too much thought for the crowd to which Boxer panders. Actually anything beyond, "Oh man, $2.xx at the pump is ridiculous!" is too much thought for that crowd.

Anyhow, I took a look at some things and it appears to me that what is going on over at those oil companies is that they are ... trying to run a business. *gasp* Of course we know that Congress loves nothing better than to get in and muck things up for people who are trying to do that.

Check out Exxon's 3rd Quarter Report, McDonald's 3rd Quarter Report, or you can just look at my simplification.

Here's the long and the short of it. In Exxon's case, $9.9B sounds like a monster profit for the third quarter. But it's a monster coporation! Say I sell a product for $1 and make $.01 profit on each unit. But, one year I move 900 billion units. That's a profit of $9B! Does that make me greedy or hard-working?

Look at the summary. Say Exxon sells a gallon of gas for $2.50. Of that $2.50 they'll only take roughly a quarter - not a quarter of the $2.50 but a George Washington, $0.25 quarter, in profit. By comparison, when McDonald's sells you a Big Mac for $2.50, they'll realize $0.35 in profit on that sale, the greedy pigs. I don't see our obese nation complaining about that, or Barbara Boxer dragging McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner before Congress.

The biggest irony of all is this: Back to that $2.50 gallon of gas, while Exxon will keep $0.25 from the sale, assorted governments will keep $0.62 in the form of taxes and duties, $0.33 of which goes to our Federal Govt (details on excise taxes here). So, every time a gallon of gas is sold, Boxer and her cronies get more money to waste than Exxon does! Don't even get me started on the pork.

And finally, I have to wonder, as I look over the financials ... if you insert an additional tax (if Boxer, et. al. take even more of something they did nothing to earn, because that's what they do best ... nothing), that's going to drive the price of gas down, how?

Not that I'm loving paying what we are for gas right now. That doesn't mean I'm going to pick the first easy target that comes along for blame.

Once again, I beg Congress to stop trying to help, and quit piling on the oil companies. It's too easy and too misguided.

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2005-11-09



The Aruba boycott? Sure. Been doing it my whole life, why stop now? OK, seriously. Talk about closing the barn door after the horses are out. At the beginning of summer the story was hot. Now, how many hurricanes and gas "crises" and indictments later, no one is paying attention anymore. That doesn't mean the family should give up their fight. This just doesn't seem like the way to go about it.
-- B --

The sky is falling! My fellow Republicans, let's run for the hills. After all, a Democrat just won the Governor's race in New Jersey and several semi-conservative initiatives were defeated in California. Yup, there they are, New Jersey and California - the cornerstones of our midtern strategy for next year. Even the defeat in Virginia was less a referendum and more what was effectively a popular incumbent drubbing a negative campaigning Republican challenger. Oh the misery that waits for us if this sort of thing continues. Things are getting so bad, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Dems steal New York and Illinois away from us too.
-- B --

It was probably as close to an apology as you'll get from TO, but it was no apology. "I'm sorry," is an apology. "I'm sorry this happened," is a realization that the consequences are going to be costly. There is no ownership of responsibility there. No admission of wrong-doing.
-- B --

I was just watching the World Poker Tour from Foxwoods. When the game is boiled down to the final two players it is customary on the WPT to bring out the first prize money and lay it on the table. At Foxwoods, Native Americans brought out the money, did a dance and threw in a ceremonial belt. So let me get this straight. College mascots are out of bounds ... offensive even. But when the chance to cash in on the Poker craze shows itself, pimping your culture is no problem.
-- B --

Customers, patrons and the like. We've got to look out for each other. The person behind the counter won't tell you you're being rude - they can't. The half dozen pairs of eyes standing behind you in line, boring lasers into your skull should be the giveaway. Today I had to cruise over to the PO to pick up some stamps. They have one of those new atm-ish machines that can handle most of your postal needs, except today. So, I had to wait in line for stamps. Prior to coming in, Rome threw out some teasers on the next segment of his show. It was going to be good, so I was looking forward to getting back to the car. Surely a noon hour radio commercial break should be more than enough time to pick up stamps. Good assumption until dipstick gets to the counter and takes twenty minutes to write out a check because she's so busy talking about other times her cc didn't work and she had to write a check. Word to the wise: no one cares, least of all the poor person trapped behing the counter watching her line grow. Shut you mouth and move on!

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2005-11-08



You may want to sit down for this. Last week, Martha fired, well no not fired, had to say, "goodbye" to two candidates at the same time! Two!

Yo, Martha, it's been done to death. Donald Trump fires two guys while he's waiting for his second cup of coffee every morning. Last week he fired FOUR people in one sitting on the real Apprentice. And he actually fired them, instead of mumbling something vague and soft leaving the candidates to wonder if they've been fired.

Top that! Well, actually Martha could. You can't swing a dead cat on her show without hitting a ditz.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondering what was next. They've pretty much maxed out the numbers escalation, or they'll have to start out with 100 people to a team in future seasons. No, I think the next logical step is ... Fired? Oh no. You're going to wish you'd been fired, for about two seconds until ... and then the Donald pulls a handgun out of his wasteband and blows the stammering putz away.

And if this happens, blame Markus. Usually when the Donald says, "You're fired," that's it - he doesn't have to put up with the person anymore. They get quiet and they get polite and slink away, tail between their legs. Not Markus. Like a PCP freak charging the police, the fatal blow escaped his notice and the stupidity kept right on coming.

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Hmmm ... TO suspended and then out for the season - didn't see THAT coming.

And while I understand and agree with what Philly is doing, I have no pity for them. As usual, this all goes back to that 7-yr contract.

TO and his agent, knowing that NFL contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on, and knowing that TO is a volatile man who isn't likely to ever go more than a season without demanding his props in the form of dollars, should never have asked for or signed the deal.

As for Philly, they knew what they were getting. This is who TO is. You want his numbers on the field it will cost you a massive paycheck, and a weekly headache every time you pick up the paper and find out what he's done or said this time.

You do have to draw the line when the guy starts taking swipes at the core of your team. Philly is absolutely making the right move. As for getting part of the signing bonus back - I don't think so. I mean, what's the justification? "Well, we hired T.O., but then the guy shows up and starts acting like ... well ... T.O."

Ahhh but short-sightedness knows no bounds. Right there is general agreement in sports fandom - the guy is amazing but he's just not worth the trouble he brings with him. He'll never work again!

Sure he will. Right now there are a bunch of teams out there thinking that they're just one break-out wide receiver away from taking the next step. "Sure T.O.'s a handful," they'll admit. "But look at his numbers. In the right atmosphere this thing could work. It'll be different here."

From this point forward T.O. probably won't stay in one place more than 2 years at any given time. Yet there are probably still several-year contracts in his future as teams line up to roll the dice, gambling that they can squeeze a playoff or Super Bowl berth out of the situation before T.O. burns the wrong bridge in their town.

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2005-11-07



I must confess, until last Saturday I was a Larry Coker skeptic. For four years and counting I just couldn't convince myself that he was the right fit for Miami.

'Cane coaches of the past all seemed to have a style that matched their team's swashbuckling image. Even Coker's predecessor Butch Davis, who was brought in to crack down on some of the shenanigans, did so with a hard-nosed flair that fit.

Then Davis bolted for the NFL accepting more money and less talent in Cleveland. Enter Larry "Grandpa Walton" Coker. His decades of faithful service as a Miami assistant should have been resume enough. Surely winning a National Championship in his first year was a reassurance.

No. There are some great assistants who will never make it as head coaches, but will remain assistants that you can go to war with until the day they die. And the championship? It was Davis' team. It would have taken a heck of a coaching job to keep Ken Dorsey from the title. And Miami was the first of many teams to win a crown while facing what was clearly not the second best team in the nation despite BCS hype to the contrary.

The seeds of doubt began to blossom the following year when Miami lost in overtime to Ohio State in the BCS Championship. One look at the referee hijinx in the overtime periods and you had to wonder, "Would they have dared to pull that crap on Butch Davis? Jimmy Johnson? And why did it come down to overtime anyway?"

To be fair, you can't fault Coker for the down (by Miami standards) years since. While riding QB Ken Dorsey to all kinds of success, they didn't take opportunities to vet Brock Berlin. At the time I thought it was a good bet - committing to a guy with big time experience at Florida instead of gambling on a freshman seemed like a great way to bridge the post-Dorsey gap. Who knew Berlin would suck!? He was a Spurrier recruit for crying out loud. Of course hindsight reminds us that he was also a Spurrier castoff.

Aside from all that, you can't send a starting lineup's worth of players to the NFL over 2-3 seasons and not expect a letdown. But there were times over the past two years where I wondered if we were re-loading or if someone had taken our ammo.

Saturday night showed me that Coker belongs. Miami thrashed 3rd-ranked and previously unbeaten Va Tech. This was a coaching staff victory. The 'Canes had the perfect game plan. Power offensive line play and a punishing running game anchored Miami's offense never giving green QB Kyle Wright a chance to hurt the team. While Wright threw one inconsequential interception, Miami's blazing defense harrassed Marcus Vick, who had been hyped as the game-breaker, into six turnovers, a great many more poor decisions and nothing to help the Hokies. Just as Wright never had the chance to hurt Miami, neither did Vick.

There were no stupid, heart-breaking penalties, and no stupid, heart-breaking turnovers. Add to that the fact that Miami lost their stud tailback Tyrone Moss, game-turning return man Devon Hester and had an untested second-string QB in for much of the second quarter, and the victory is all the more impressive.

The point is, no one player busted out and lifted the 'Canes. Preparation, game-planning and nearly flawless execution of the plan won this for Miami. These are the things a coach brings out. Game ball-Coker and staff.

Alas, this season probably holds a sorrowful ending for the Hurricane Nation. The Miami team that we saw Saturday night can hang with anyone in the country. I'd love to see Leinart thrown to Miami's defense. Unfortunately, by virtue of their season-opening, narrow loss to Florida State, Miami is not likely to get so much as a sniff of the BCS Championship game. To make matters worse, Miami will likely conclude their regular season by avenging that lone loss in the ACC Championship.

We'll thrash Alabama and wonder what might have been had Ohio State coach Jim Tressell been able to settle on one QB and taken out Texas when he had a chance.

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2005-11-05



The list of undefeated CFL teams will shrink to three by the end of the day. Arizona outed UCLA and along with them, the entire Pac-10, save USC. Those of us on the "anyone but USC" bandwagon can hope that UCLA will turn around and knock off the Trojans, but it turns out that the Bruins aren't that good - they're just the beneficiaries of a weak schedule - they're Kansas State to USC's Oklahoma.

Miami has opened up a 27-0 lead on Va Tech heading into the fourth quarter, so the Hokies will likely pick up their first loss.

So, our hopes for a fly in the BCS ointment will rest on Alabama. This is tenuous at best. As I pointed out recently, next to UCLA, Alabama is the least tested undefeated team. They struggled with MIssissippi State today and have LSU next. The SEC Championship doesn't figure to be a cakewalk either.

Well, you have to play the hand you're dealt so, "Roll Tide!"

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They're baaaack? What possessed Comedy Central to revive Beevis and Butthead? This is one of those things that seemed mildly amusing at one point but then after time passes you look back and have to wonder about yourself. aaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. I said, "but!" aaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

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Great game so far - 'Canes up 10-0 at the half. It's a penalty-fest which has been annoying. A lot of bad calls and no calls.

Credit for Miami's early success goes not to a specific athlete. In fact Tyrone Moss is out for good with an ankle sprain. Ace return man Devon Hester is out and QB Kyle Wright spent the end of the half on the bench after taking a helmet to helmet hit.

Miami came in well-prepared. They have established the running game to keep their young QB out of high-pressure, must-deliver situations. With Moss out, Charlie Jones has picked up the slack. The 'Cane O-Line has made the difference. Several times their backs have been able to break into the Hokie secondary untouched, and their QB's have not been pressured. Offensive line play keyed a crushing Miami TD drive that devoured over 8 minutes in the 2nd quarter.

On the other side of the ball, Marcus Vick has been a non-factor. His few big runs don't begin to offset one fumble that led to Miami's opening field goal, and one pick.

By the way, Lee Korso is still a complete idiot.

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2005-11-04



At last, back home, normal schedule ... no travel, no conferences. A lot of catching up to do.

I caught some of the Heat's opening effort. They battled with Indiana, another deep playoff threat. But the one big problem with the Heat came to light. When Shaq goes down (with Shaq it's not if, it's WHEN) here comes (drum roll) ... Alonzo Mourning. I love 'Zo, and admire him for battling through a lot, but he was an under-achiever in his prime.

-- B --


A couple of local partisans were discussing the future of Louisville standouts Brian Brohm and Michael Bush. They opined that if Bush forgoes the NFL one more year he would be a prime Heisman candidate, and Brohm might be among his toughest competition. I don't doubt that these guys can and will put up Heisman-esque numbers but let's face it, these two aren't going to get a sniff of the Downtown Athletic Club or wherever they're having it now until U of L becomes a serious player at the national level. This year the Cards haven't had many opportunities to lift their own stock, but they've taken full advantage of their opportunities to flop.

Sadly, the Cards could have run their table, and would have been lucky to have two games that people could point to to justify Louisville playing with the big boys at season's end. Instead they've already got two games that make people say, "Told you the Big East wasn't any good," or "They can't win the big ones on the road."

-- B --


Big game this weekend: Miami at VIrginia Tech. The 'Cane fan in me hopes Miiami can compete. Realistically the Hokies have a big edge IMHO. Miami's "D" against Marcus Vick is a compelling matchup. Unfortunately, even a ferocious defense such as Miami will bring to Blacksburg, can't hope to stop Vick. They can contain, slow, and hassle him, but he'll get his shots in. The big mismatch is on the other side of the ball. Miami's offense is still a work in progress. It's going to take a monster game from Tyrone Moss to compensate for QB Kyle Wright's inexperience and inconsistency.

-- B --


It looks like Joe Paterno may have finally figured out how to do what so many, from Jimmie "the Greek" way back when to Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry last week, have gone down in flames for doing: pointing out what even a casual sports fan can't help but notice but isn't allowed to point out.
You have to be careful the way you say things sometimes ... Poor [Air Force coach] Fisher DeBerry got in trouble, but the black athlete has made a big difference. They have changed the whole tempo of the game. Black athletes have just done a great job as athletes and as people in turning the game around."
I guess if you read carefully, Paterno never claims that there is any difference between caucasion and African American athletes because, once again, that's not allowed. No, somehow they've made a big difference despite there being no discernable difference between them and any other race of athlete.

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2005-11-02



The NBA started its season last night. Yay. It's hard to get fired up about it right now because the season is so blasted long.

The Spurs looking to continue their run as the most boring champions ever. Michael Finley is a nice addition. Nick VanExel? Doesn't seem like a good fit. It's not like he's a ton of trouble, but it's also not like he adds a lot. Whatever the Spurs do this year, they'd be able to do it with or without Van Exel.

Stephen A Smith had Shaq on yesterday, and gave him every opportunity to diss Detroit, Indiana, Philadelphia, Iverson, TMac, etc. Standard Shaq answer: "(Insert team's key player) is one of the most talented players in the league and (insert team name here) should do very well this year." You know, Shaq may be controversial, and he may say some off the wall stuff, but he's way too smart to give anyone bulletin board material. On Kobe: "Who?" On the Lakers' chances now that Phil Jackson is on the scene: "I don't know."

Detroit to return to the FInals? No. Detroit will spend this year finding out just what a difference Larry Brown makes and that you can't plug in just anyone and expect the same results.

The Lakers? Their key off-season addition was coach Phil Jackson. Unless he's planning to suit up, there is only so much any coach can do with this measly group. The odd thing, Jackson's pattern has been to take over teams with all of the ingredients in place. The Lakers aren't even close.

I like the pieces Pat Reilly has brought to Miami to go along with Shaq and Dwayne Wade. If they can figure out how to share one basketball this will be an exciting team. I still say Stan VanGundy can't take them the whole way. We'll see.

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I'm in Ft Mitchell, KY (Cincy 'burb) for a conference. Some notes:

Generally nice hotel. Easy, quick wireless internet access with a strong, reliable signal - vast improvement over the Owensboro hotel. One confusing thing - the hotel provides access free of charge, yet when you get to your room there is a placard outlining how to get pay access by getting a special bridge from the front desk and signing up with a local provider.

They provide a desk to work at, which is nice as I brought some work with me. The only problem with the desk is that it has crap all over it. I can stuff in a drawer the previously mentioned obsolete wireless promo, and the various other promos, and the way too fancy notebook with hotel information and room service menus. The problem is the clock radio bolted to the middle of the desk. Hard to imagine folks who can afford to stay here making off with a $5 clock radio. Oh well.

Yesterday's breakout session - pretty good. That was most of the info that I came for. Today will probably not be very useful for us.

Pet conference peeve - no coordination, no organization on the multi-media. This is my third conference this year run by people from State Gov, and we seem to run into the same thing. Ten minutes of sitting there while the facilitators (and there is always an army of them on hand) figure out how to get a signal to the video projector, figure out where their presentations are on the hard drive, figure out which presentation is the one they want, figure out how to run the thing, etc. These guys do this stuff enough to know that "I'll walk in the room, wake up my laptop and be ready to go" is not a realistic plan.

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