2006-01-30



I finally figured out the dual-monitor thing on my laptop last week, and it's pretty sweet. Plug an external monitor into your laptop and Windows can set it so that your laptop screen and the monitor combine to give you a desktop 2 screens wide. When I drag a folder or window past the left edge of my laptop display it moves onto the right edge of the monitor display. Objects can be dropped anywhere on either monitor.

This is really handy for taking note-taking from online references. You can have the full-size reference document open on one screen and Word maximized on the other. No more having to [alt]+[tab] back and forth, or squish the windows to make them both fit on the screen.

Here's the catch - you must do battle with Windows to make this happen. Like many MS "features" dual monitor is available, but not readily so. In order to set up this configuration you must tell Windows what you want in three different places and three different ways ... two of which are well-documented. The spoiler is buried within a context menu like a needle in a haystack - a drop list where you switch your monitors from cloning to extending each other.

Heaven forbid this should be user-friendly!

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2006-01-25



BB&T won't lend to companies using eminent domain - 2006-01-25 From the "more than one way to skin a cat" department, BB&T says it won't finance projects on land taken via eminent domain. I like it.

I'm just curious about the practical side of it. How much of this is just posturing by a regional banker looking to grow? Will any of the big boys follow suit? How big of a deal would it take to get BB&T scrambling for loopholes?

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2006-01-24



All of a sudden the stars are flexing their other talents in a litter of shows including But Can They Sing?, Dancing with the Stars, and Skating with Celebrities. The thing is, half of the time I don't care to see these self-important twits using their primary talent, much less things they aren't likely to be very good at.

But, that's not to say that the star/"reality" combination is without possibilities. Here now, I proudly present my celebreality package, coming soon to a second-tier cable network near you.

1. Balancing Checkbooks with the Stars! This would be the Jeopardy of my celebreality package. At the start each contestant would be given a checkbook, bank statement and spouse who doesn't keep their receipts. Then the clock and the mysterious background music start. To make things more difficult, Alex Trebec will occasionally throw in condescending comments like, "I would have thought you would have known how much braces cost." The contestant who comes closest to balancing, wins a fuel-efficient automobile.

2. But Can they Eat for a Week on Less than 50? Contestants must purchase and prepare food for a family of four for one week, given just $50. Sounds simple? Well, we have some surprises in store. Just when a contestant thinks they have things under control, one of their kids will enter with two friends, make up a bunch of snacks in the microwave, take two bites and leave their nearly full plates sitting on the couch.

At the end of each show, one contestant is eliminated via a Saturday Afternoon Grocery Shopping at Kroger Deathmatch!

3. Fuel of Fortune - At the show's opening contestants are told that they will need to figure out how to get two kids to school, both spouses to work, one kid to soccer, the other kid to piano lessons, and finally return home with everyone at the end of the day. Just as everyone breathes a sigh of relief thinking that this won't be so bad, the host says, "Oh, and by the way, did I mention that we're raising the price of a tank of gas to 25% of your monthy income!? Go!!"

Hope you'll be watching!

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2006-01-23



Snoozers this past weekend. The Conference Championships showed a lot of promise going in. Unfortunately both games wound up pitting one team that came to play against one that didn't.

Hats off to the winning coaches. Holmgren and Cowher didn't come to entertain us with nail-biters. They game-planned their opponents to perfection. As a result both games were effectively over by the half.

As they did last week, the Steelers jumped on Denver early and didn't let up. And with a big lead in the second half they turned to a conservative ball control offense to grind the minutes away.

Of course the return of old school Jake Plummer helped Pittsburgh's cause. Turns out that the most effective part of the Steelers' plan was to quickly maneuver into a position where Bronco hopes rested solely on the arm and decision-making of "the Snake." With turnover after turnover all the Plummer hype came crashing to earth.

Speaking of over-hyped, Steve Smith was relatively MIA in Seattle yesterday. For some reason Holmgren chose to pass on the Bears' strategy of literally laying down for Smith. With their secondary actually covering the Panthers' star receiver Seattle had quite a bit of success.
-- B --

Frankly, I'm already sick of the "Jerome gets to go home for the Super Bowl" story line. It's not like he's some poor gymnast transplanted from an Eastern Bloc nation. This is America and Bettis has millions of dollars. He can go to Detroit any time he wants.
-- B --

Finally, two weeks of ESPN hell are upon us. In the runup to this past weekend, with only a one-week gap and two games on the agenda ESPN still spent more time "entertaining" with comparisions of Jake Plummer and Ben Roethlisberger's beards than on anything of substance. Now they've got two weeks and only one game. There isn't likely to be one aspect of this game or these teams that won't be overexposed. It looks to be a great game if we can just survive two weeks without becoming irrepairably sick of both Seattle and Pittsburgh. Here are some things to watch for ...

- As I've already discussed, the "Poor little Jerome gets to go home," storyline will be beaten to death. Given two weeks, it seems inevitable that Campbell's Chunky Soups will pick up on this.

- When the pundits forecast the game, somehow the Steeler teams that won 4 Super Bowls in the 70's will be a factor. Mind you, there is no consequential linkage between the two other than city and uniform color, but that won't stop the idiots. When faced with a choice between thinking and drawing on irrelevant trivia, well ... we shouldn't expect too much.

- When the pundits forecast the game, many will resort to inane qualifiers. Example: "Well Jimmy, I think that if Shaun Alexander rushes for over 500 yards, Seattle has a good chance." Personally, I think that if Pittsburgh can manage to score more points than Seattle they could win this one.

- The gang will get out there on their little, green in-studio football field to teach us about the offenses. For my money, nothing adds to the enjoyment of football more than seeing former players in shirts and ties trying to get in and out of a three-point stance without losing their lapel mic's.

- Too much Terry Bradshaw with his Steeler history.

- Beautiful portraits of Detroit despite its high crime rate and a continuing string of bad news coming out of the auto industry.

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81!


Kobe and the 81 he hung on Toronto last night are the talk of the NBA. It is an amazing accomplishment. And if they handed out free passes to the playoffs for teams that have a player score 80+ in one game, LA would be really lucky to have Kobe. Instead, for all the fireworks, Kobe's team remains an average Western Conference squad hovering around the .500 mark.

The telling quote: "It was a pleasure just to watch him out there," from teammate Lamar Odom. That's a dream starting lineup ... 1 ego and 4 spectators.

This kind of imbalance has never been a recipe for long-term success in the NBA and Laker Coach Phil Jackson, of all people, knows it. Jackson's pre-Laker superstar Michael Jordan didn't collect any hardware until surrounded with other options.

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2006-01-22



I stumbled upon a couple episodes of Miami Vice today. Man, in its day that show was cutting edge. Somehow I never noticed that it was all window-dressing: cars, clothes and boobs. The acting, if you can call it that, was horribly flat. And not a lot of dialog. For the most part they all spend their time brooding.

Tubbs wears a sharp suit and expensive watch as he broods over how much more exciting life was back in New York. Miami is a hick town compared to the Big Apple.
Crockett's alligator Elvis ate his hot pink deck shoes. Crocket turns to alcohol and brooding as he reflects with a sultry Tina Turner song in background. Man, it's gonna be hard to get over the loss of those shoes.
Crockett and Tubbs pause in a stairwell to brood and lament the fact that they've already shot up the marina, shot up the club, shot up the small ethnic neighborhood and drove Crockett's Ferrari around in the middle of the night with the Miami skyline and Phil Collins in the background and still they have thirty minutes and three Colombian drug lords to kill.
Crockett and Tubbs stop to brood and reflect. Tubbs laments the fact that he wouldn't have to wear a pink shirt if this were New York. Crockett shows his a** wrapped in a pair of white cotton Dockers, and wonders why Tubbs gets to wear the pink shirt.
Crockett and Tubbs shot up the marina, the club and the small ethnic neighborhood. On top of that Crocket can never seem to remember to return the Ferrari to the motor pool. Lt Castillo broods as he wonders how he'll discuss all of this with his detectives and explain it to City Hall without exceeding his allotted 15 spoken words per episode.

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2006-01-21



Rick Pitino was interviewed on ESPN this morning in preparation for tonights tilt between the Cards and U Conn. The coach stated quite emphatically, and several times, that Louisville HAD to win tonight. "We MUST win this game!"

OK, it's not quite a guarantee but there's no "wiggle room" there. One has to wonder if he's being equally clear with his players, and if so, what will his parachute be when the Cards lose. Because, they will.

There's no shame in it. Louisville is a young team that has experienced the dual misfortunes of entering their inaugural Big East campaign with a fraction of the ability that they had during last year's Final Four run, and being massively over-ranked for much of this season. The Cards simply don't have the horses to topple one of the best teams in the country.

Meanwhile, over on the football field Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino was once again the subject of vague "leaving for another job" rumors shortly after the Cards' season ended. Later the rumors gained focus when the Oakland Raiders' top spot opened up. Petrino quickly squelched the talk but this could be more of a commitment to sanity than to Louisville.

Personally, I appreciate what Petrino has done here, but I won't be broken-hearted when he leaves. Two problems from the John L. Smith years have re-surfaced. First, Louisville is once again prone to falling short mentally and losing games they should win. Although they lost the Gator Bowl, Louisville played Va Tech tough and brought credit on themselves. But it's not hard to get up for a big Bowl game against a national power. Earlier in the season the Cards went to South Florida and stunk up the joint, not because USF was better, but because USF came ready to play when Louisville didn't. That's on the coach.

Second, as with Smith, Petrino is annually rumored to be moving on to any glamorous coaching position that comes available. Granted, you can't always control what people say. However, there are a number of good coaches out there but only a handful of names repeatedly come up.

As far as I'm concerned, Petrino can move on and make room for someone willing to keep both eyes on Louisville.

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Caught the premier of "King of Vegas" on Spike this week. Lame.

Clearly everyone is trying to expand Poker's coattails. Thing is, they've tried this before with other Casino games. The magic doesn't translate. In poker players must necessarily win as it is a man vs. man game. Not so with games like Blackjack, Roulette and Craps. These games are man vs. house and are tilted toward the house. So in these games, the "winners" are often the players who lose the least, which makes me wonder why Vegas gets behind these ventures.

Just as annoying are some of the players who are trying to put themselves on the map. One guy showed up dressed to pimp and Hollywood Dave, the Blackjack "expert" who first appeared on an earlier version of this concept, still needs to be slapped.

To remove any remaining potential for skill to play a role, they play a minimal amount at each game. Even the guys who really do succeed at Blackjack, the counters, understand that a winning advantage can only be gained over the long haul.

Most curious of all is Poker's role in this concept. The contestants who don't perform well at the other games are sent to the Texas Hold-em Death Match where the loser is sent packing. This puts the two World Class poker players, Mike "the mouth" Matusow and 2004 WSOP runner-up David Williams at a huge advantage. Talk about a wolf among the sheep! The timid blackjack players clearly had no idea how to handle Matusow, an opponent with unpredictable responses.

Unless Poker will be taken out of the equation later on, I don't see how Matusow and Williams can lose.

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Busy week - doing some catching up this weekend ...

This one should be interesting. Activists are attempting to seize Justice David Souter's New Hampshire Home in order to build an inn on the site. The group is outraged at the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling in Kelo vs City of New London and is attempting to turn the concept on one of its justices. If successful, the group will call their project "The Lost Libety Hotel."

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2006-01-16



Wow, compared to the rest, Seattle-Washington was a snoozer.

Each of the four teams left is a great story and a reasonable bet to win the Super Bowl, yet the Colts are the talk of the day with their loss. The story lines abound: Dungy still has that monkey on his back, Peyton still has that monkey on his back, will they re-sign Edgerrin James?, Manning calls out his Offensive Line, etc., etc.

Apparently back in week 13 when Indy locked up home field, first-round bye, and pole position at the Indianapolis 500, the Colts joined everyone else in believing that the Super Bowl was a lock. Prior to yesterday's game someone pointed out that Indy hadn't played a meaningful game in a month. I still say the problem was that the Colts hadn't played WELL in a month. It showed. Their high octane depends on precision and timing ... the first things to go when you aren't keeping your game sharp.

All of this overlooks Pittsburgh's effort. From top to bottom they were ready. The game plan was perfect and the Steelers executed with a vengeance. Troy Polomalu was a terror. Watch the highlights today and all you see is Peyton Manning drowning in a sea of white shirts and black helmets with a wild mop of frizzy hair leading the charge. Theirs was a simple but effective formula: Physical intimidation across the board, and relentless pressure on Manning.

Which brings us to the Colts O-line. Pittsburgh overwhelmed the Colts' feeble effort to protect their quarterback and open things up for James. But Manning did little to help his own cause. He didn't settle in and didn't evade. And in the Colts offense, with all of the no-huddling and constant audibling, Manning is the Coordinator.

Beyond all that, there is a time and a place for everything. Postgame in front of the national media is neither the time nor the place to acknowledge and verbalize that your O-Line could have done better. Unless Manning is planning a surprise retirement, who is he expecting to have his back next season?

So, Dungy still can't win the big one. Manning still can't win the big one. While they're getting better, the Colts are still soft. They are probably one of the NFL's most impressive team's ever when they can control things and Manning has the luxury of sitting back in the pocket and picking teams apart. But to reach and win a Super Bowl you have to get dirty.

One final note: I'm really glad Indy didn't pull it out after recovering Bettis' fumble in the game's closing moments. He would have been the new Buckner which would have been a shame. Bettis played a great game and was a key cog in the Steeler machinery as they chewed up the second half of the game. Bettis and Pittsburgh deserved to leave Indianapolis as winners.

Now it's wide open. Any team can win. Beating Denver or Seattle in their own homes will be a formidable task, but Pittsburgh and Carolina have been killer on the road. Pittsburgh dismantled the Colts in Indianapolis and the only memories we have left of the fierce Bears Defense feature Carolina receiver Steve Smith running wild in the secondary and lighting Chicago up for 212 yards.

Pittsburgh will have to muster another flawless effort to topple the Broncos in Denver, but in Seattle all bets are off. Seattle was easily the most suspect of the bye teams, being the beneficiary of playing in the weakest division of the weakest conference in football.

My picks: In an all out battle, Pittsburgh narrowly escapes Denver to return to the Super Bowl and get Bill Cowher his first ring. Shaun Alexander is the wild card in Seattle. If he is 100% Carolina wins a close one. Without Alexander the Panthers will continue their roll. I know, Alexander was essentially absent from this past weekend's Seahawk victory. You can do that against the Redskins. This week Holmgren's crew will be facing a real team.

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2006-01-15



Well, I got the winners right in yesterday's games although I under-estimated how much Seattle would struggle with Washington. Who knew Shaun Alexander would go down in the first quarter?

Finally we are rid of the Patriots. But, the Brady / Pat apologists were churning hard right to the end. Regarding Brady frequently overthrowing wide open receivers one pundit speculated that Brady was probably having trouble with the altitude. At the end of the game another moaned that all the bounces had gone Denver's way. This is true to a point. Brady's two interceptions ... the Broncos came up with both of them.

Live update: 2nd Quarter of Steelers at Colts
Indy came out rusty as I expected. Manning is off, but the lines are really killing them. Pittsburgh marched straight down the field like the Colts weren't even in the stadium on their first two drives, and the offensive line has been equally sieve-like which is keeping Manning from being able to get his feet set. When Edgerrin James tries to run the Steeler "D" is beating him to the corners. So far three 3-and-out's. You've got to hand it to Pittsburgh - they've got a great game plan. They are pouncing on every opening they get. Indy won't be down forever so the Steelers are getting as far out in front as they can.

Wow, Pittsburgh punted and pinned the Colts back at their own 1, but now Indy is moving and using all of their weapons in the process. Key play: On 3rd down, Polamalu moved up to blitz at the last moment but Manning and Fletcher picked up the 1st down with a quick pass in Polamalu's wake. This could be the turning point.

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I stumbled across a couple of interesting items while catching up on my feeds at Bloglines:

Take the Geek Test:
innergeek has posted v 3.1 of the geek test. I weigh in at 33%, a Total Geek by innergeek's scale, just shy of Major Geek.

My disdain for all things Star Trek held me back, which got me to thinking ... the term "geek" is too vague. Like the eskimoes and their 98 words for snow, we need clearer stratification of geekhood. The biggest distinction is that between useful and useless geek skills. Say your mouse is catching. Useful geek skills: knowing how to clean the lint out of your own mouse, buying and installing a wireless optical mouse. Useless geek skills: knowing how to speak Klingon.

This got me thinking further ... one of the passages into adulthood is mentally accepting that geek skills have a lot more practical value than many of the things that were important in your adolescent years. Valuable: Knowing the basics of computer setup Why: You don't have to go without your computer for two days waiting for IT to show up and point out that you must have accidentally kicked off your surge protector. Not valuable: being able to drink a beer while standing on your head.

Amateur Writers:
Roy Peter Clark has posted 50 writing tools over at Poynter online. Good stuff.

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2006-01-14



In the wake of a great college Bowl season the NFL opened its playoffs with a snoozer of a Wild Card round. The only game that wasn't lopsided, Washington at Tampa Bay, while interesting, was a battle of two teams that have no long-term playoff hopes. And one question , I was really looking forward to seeing answered was whether the rising Steelers could beat the falling Bengals. Carson Palmer's early exit rendered the question unfair and was probably the weekend's only significant moment.

Weeks earlier, the young talented Bengals seemed destined to become one of the league's top powers. Now after a weak finish, Palmer's injury, which could be anything from minor to career-ending depending on which doctor you listen to, and Chad Johnson's demonstrated desire to become the next T.O. in every sense, there are a lot of questions in Cincinnati.

This week holds more promise. Only the Redskins' visit to Seattle seems destined to become a route. Despite that, with ages of tradition behind them and Joe Gibbs at the helm, the Skins are one of my sentimental favorites so I'll watch with interest.

New England will be facing their toughest test since they regained their championship form when they visit the Broncos this evening. Denver could easily bring the Patriots two-year run to an end. Here's hoping as much so we can stop watching ESPN drool over Tom Brady. Funny thing, preseason and now recently when the Patriots have been doing well Tom Brady is God. But when New England wasn't doing so well you didn't hear much about Brady. Now a lot has changed on that team over the season but Brady has been a constant. So I guess God just took a break there for awhile.

Are Da Bears back? The Carolina Panthers will find out tomorrow. Word on the street is that Rex Grossman isn't ready (and will probably never be ready) to lead a championship caliber team. Folks, this is Chicago's recipe for NFL success: power defense anchored by all-world linebacker play and brutal postseason weather (Chicago in January is where dome teams go to die) and both of these things in such proportions that a lame quarterback like Grossman, Kyle Orton, or Jim McMahon can't screw it up.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis is a mystery. It could be a great battle or it could be a done deal after the first quarter. As I've previously mentioned, it has been almost a month now since the Colts have trotted out their "A" game. Indy was lucky to draw the Steelers as they are the only team left in the AFC against whom Peyton Manning & Co. can play their way back into peak form without it costing them the game. The Colts have too much offense for Pittsburgh's "D" and the Steelers' offense can't hope to keep up in a shootout. Bill Cowher needs a perfect game plan and his team must execute flawlessly to have any chance.

My picks: Seattle over Washington without breaking a sweat, Denver over New England solid but not a blowout, Carolina over Chicago in an exciting close game, and Indianapolis over Pittsburgh also solid but not a blowout.

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2006-01-12



Life turns on a dime.

Yesterday a friend found out that she has lung cancer. Today she's having part of her lung removed and is hoping they'll get it all.

Whatever I was going to gripe about today ... it's not important.

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2006-01-11



Wow, crazy week - meetings all over the place and not a lot of time for blogging.

During a quiet moment of catching up at the office I thought I'd check in and inform / remind everyone about the Supreme Court blog. They are liveblogging the Alito hearings in reasonably unvarnished fashion.

It's a nice place to get the skinny without having to sort throught the "Alito is Satan incarnate" / "the Democrats are Satan incarnate for trying to make Aliton out to be Satan incarnate" rhetoric.

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2006-01-09



Well, with the rest of the bowl games and now the NFL playoffs, this thing hasn't been dominating the news, to which I say, "Thank Gawwwd!" Can the Marcus Vick story get any uglier?

While the fans waited to see what would be Vick's punishment for stepping on an opponent during a break in play during the Gator Bowl even more information surfaced. Vick had been stopped for speeding and driving on a suspended license in mid-December. Seeing as this was Vick's "last chance" at Va Tech, one wonders why he was playing in the Gator Bowl ... well, no, that's not entirely accurate. One looks at the Va Tech program and knows exactly why Vick was playing in the Gator Bowl.

Beamer explained that he didn't know about the speeding ticket, only the suspended license prior to the Bowl. I'm not sure how he thought the driving with a suspended license came to light ... maybe one of those suspended license radar traps that Virginia's finest are always running.

Anyway, apparently after pot, giving alcohol to minors, partying with underage women, flipping off West Virginia, stepping on a player, and the suspended license, 13 over was too much! Vick was kicked off the team.

With options running out, he declared for the NFL draft. At this point Vick apparently figured that he wasn't bringing quite enough baggage with him to the NFL. So he went to a McDonald's and pointed a gun at some folks.

Now, I think the NFL is a dicey proposition for Texas QB Vince Young, who couldn't ask for a better send off from the NCAA. Where has the half QB/half HB QB gotten any team in the NFL? Ever? Michael Vick is making a big splash in Atlanta, but at the end of the day they're at home watching the playoffs on TV. But, while the debate on this continues, plenty of teams are still willing to give it a shot in order to put the ball in their best athlete's hands on every play.

But, Marcus Vick hasn't made his case on the field, whatever style you may want him to play. Sure, he rolled up some impressive highlights and big numbers on the average slow, weak defenses that inhabit the NCAA. Against Miami however, with a defense that begins to approach what he can expect in the NFL (approaches, but doesn't nearly arrive), it was a Marcus Vick turnover-fest and bad decision bonanza.

After all that, add in that the younger Vick is out of control off the field. It's like Clarett all over again. You can look at some things and not approve, but remember how it is to be in college where you feel insulated, invincible and care-free. But now he's on the clock. Now everything counts. Everyone who will have a hand in deciding whether Vick gets the shot he's seeking is watching and asking, "Is he salvageable?" And, in a pointless display of stupidity, Vick's opening response to that question, "Maybe not."

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2006-01-06



I've got to admit, this was a pretty good bowl season. A lot of exciting games, and a lot of surprising games. In some cases I couldn't have been more wrong, not necessarily on the outcome but on how the game would play out.

There are two problems with trying to predict the bowls. #1 - Most of the time the two teams haven't played each other, and a lot of the time their schedules don't have much in common with which to make a comparison. #2 - You never know what frame of mind the teams will come in with. Will they view their bowl as a slight and not apply themselves? Will this band of 18-20 yr olds suddenly turned loose in a festive town for a week burn themselves out partying? Wait. I thought of a third thing. #3 - The selection committees are about selling tickets and seem to make no effort to pair evenly matched teams in their games. Of course even if they were trying, this task would be made difficult by #1 and #2.

So my thoughts ...

First I have to say that I'm proud to see Navy making bowl games, not to mention kicking butt!

Oklahoma over Oregon in a big "shut your mouth!" game. This Oklahoma team was so weak, the Big XII-ists couldn't even pretend that they belonged in a major bowl. On the other hand, Oregon was this year's undisputed biggest whiner after being shut out of the BCS at large spots. Oregon loses - see #2 above. Problem is, it's hard to contend that a bowl game was beneath you when you went out and laid a turd.

By the way, it is no accident that I'm not mentioning the names of the bowls. In this, Brian B's Poulon Weedeater Bowl Recap Post, I'm not facilitating the prostitution of the College Football postseason!

Missouri over South Carolina by a touchdown. On the one hand, it's great to have Steve Spurrier back in College Football, and great to see him start off with a big year in getting perennial SEC also-ran South Carolina to a bowl. On the other, I hate to see the Old Ball Coach cap off this successful campaign with a loss.

You know, I think LSU just scored on Miami again! Wow. I thought this one was going to be good. The 'Canes didnt' show up that night, and now, a lot of them won't be showing up ever again on the Miami sidelines. The coaching staff bloodletting smacks of "Coker's on the hot seat." I was afraid of this when he took over for Butch Davis. Good guy. But "O Captain, My Captain," he can not be at a program like Miami. Schnellenberger. Jimmy Johnson. Dennis Erickson. Butch Davis. Larry Coker? On the upside I logged in at Chik-fil-A.com (I don't mind pimping them cuz they're awesome, and this "eat more chikin" campaign is a winner), in time to win a cow and some free Chick-fil-A!

Va Tech over Louisville. Moral victory for the Cards. They played well and led much of the game with a backup quarterback in his second start, matched against a fierce defense. And, Louisville didn't play like a bunch of goons. This game was "Get off the Big East!" part 1.

Wisconsin big over Auburn. The Badgers will miss having Barry Alvarez as their coach. Under him they were an awesome bowl team.

Ohio State over Notre Dame by two touchdowns. No, Irish apologists, it wasn't close. Charlies Weiss has led the storied Notre Dame program back to where they will annually be put in bowl games that are over their head, just because they are Notre Dame. This was one mismatch that I had right.

West Virginia over Georgia - Yikes! I was way wrong here. This was the stunning second part of "Get off the Big East!" Gonna be kinda hard to take away the "worst" conference's automatic bid if they keep beating the rep from the "toughest" conference. And, by the way, my comments here are directed at me as much as anyone. I've been a Big East basher, and now I have to be quiet on the matter.

Penn State squeaks by Florida State, in what was perhaps the season's ugliest exciting game. The lesson from this triple overtime field goal shank-fest: You can't miss 'em all. If you keep going to the well, eventually you're going to screw up and make one. I had this also being a blowout, so Florida State even coming close was a miracle.

And the granddaddy of them all ... Texas shuts up ESPN by beating USC. Guess in their weeks long "Greatest Teams of All Time and how USC is Way Better Than Each of Them" feature, they forgot about the '05 Texas Longhorns! Choke on it, Corso! And, we saw glimpses of why I don't think Matt Leinart will be much more than a journeyman clipboard-holder in the NFL. When suddenly facing off against a defense that fights back, his decision-making wasn't great.

And for the first time in a long time, after the last game there was peace. No controversy did inhabit the land. And there was evening and there was morning - January 5th.

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OK, Marcus Vick's shameful behavior has been hashed over ad nauseum this week. To be fair, Vick claims it was an accident (despite the fact that he appeared to pause and survey the situation before committing this accident). Poor guy is very accident-prone. Earlier this year he accidentally flipped off the West Virginia fans. Then there was the time he accidentally gave alcohol to underage girls, not to mention the fact that he was accidentally partying with that same jail bait. And then there was the time he accidentally had marijuana in his trunk ...

Thing is, had Vick not taken his own game to a new "high," we'd be talking about Virginia Tech as a whole being in punk mode for the Gator Bowl. 1 ejection and 5 personal fouls in the first half! Unfortunately, this isn't surprising. Va Tech is to college football what Cincinnati is to NCAA hoops. People talk about Frank Beamer putting the Hokies on the map the same way they talk about what Bob Huggins did for Cincy basketball. But when you hear these things the roster of thugs who have inhabited those programs rolls through the back of your mind and you just wonder ... how far over the line did they step? ... how much of their soul did they sell?

Not that these would be the only programs playing dirty. Far from it. But when a team's rise from obscurity to national power coincides with the tenure of a coach who seems unwilling to address anything but winning the game, its hard to join in the celebration.

Of course we can go one level higher and blame the system. Where did the younger Vick's sense of entitlement come from? Well, for one thing he was being hailed as the Hokies' next savior two years before he even arrived in Blacksburg! Pity his high school teachers.

So, Va Tech is on the clock. Frank Beamer has already expressed a desire to remember the second half of the Gator Bowl and forget the first half. Of course - cherish the victory, screw the cost. But what happens between now and the opening kickoff next fall will show us Va Tech's soul. The fact that Vick was even playing this year was called a "last chance" by the school back in September. So what now?

Vick isn't ready to declare for the NFL draft. On the field he looked no better than average anytime he faced a defense with even a smidgen of team speed. Throw in the character questions and he's not a hot commodity. A lot of NFL teams would probably be willing to take a chance on the guy, but not with a break the bank level pick, something that Vick seems to think he deserves. Besides, he's got Leinart and probably Young in line ahead of him at QB.

The guy had the potential to cash in big on his name alone, but he's frittering away the opportunity. And with big brother Michael having completed yet another year in which he electrified without accomplishing anything the window is closing fast on brand Vick.

My guess is that, left to their own devices, Va Tech would go the easy route - make a big production out of suspending Vick for a game that the Hokies will be able to win without him. But that might invite the ACC or NCAA to step in and give the remedy some teeth.

We'll see what happens. So far, a lot of anger and disgust from the quarterbacks coach, and the governor and the fans, etc., etc. Pretty much everyone in Virginia except Frank Beamer.

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2006-01-04



I'm stoked about tonight's game because it promises to be great. I really don't like either team but, for one night, I'm a hardcore Longhorns fan. Why? BECAUSE I'M SO FREAKING SICK OF HEARING HOW GREAT THE TROJANS ARE!

Earlier I wrote that during the dead zone between the end of the regular season and the good bowl games we'd be deluged with stories about graduation rates and the need for minority coaches. Not so this year. Instead ESPN was satisfied to spend a month saying that USC is the most dominant team ever, each and every night.

"OK, how would USC do against the Hurricanes of '01?"
"Blah, blah, blah, stifling defense, blah, blah, blah, team speed."
"Yeah, but don't forget that the Trojans have Reggie Bush."

Forget? How could we when we can't go more than 15 seconds without hearing his name?

I mean ... *screen gets all wavy and music turns mysterious ... looks like we've got a flashback on our hands!*

Bob Swerski: Hello, and welcome to another edition of Bill Swerski's Superfans. I'm Bob Swerski, sittin' in for my brother Bill, who is still recovering from that dreadful heart attack. With me as always are the Superfans, Once again, we're comin' to ya from Corso's Restaurant in the heart of Los Angeles, home to a certain team, which come January will run roughshod over the competition in the Rose Bowl. A team that is known as.....Da Trojans!
Superfans: (Lifting their beer mugs) Da Trojans!
Todd O'Conner: Why are we so blessed?
Bob Swerski: Now when we were last privileged to observe Da Trojans, they were playing UCLA. The final score of that game was 66-19, and I shant say who won. Pat, what happened? Pat Arnold: I think its pretty obvious Coach Carrol had his mind on more important things.
Carl Wollarski: There was a war on, my friend.
Todd O'Conner: Thats right, our boyssss were overseassss.
Pat Arnold: Yeah. Leinart was probably too busy helping find Al-Zarkawi. But you know gentlemen, I'm also starting to think of the NASCAR season coming up.
Bob Swerski: Yeah?
Pat Arnold: The Daytona 500'll be hear before ya know it.
Bob Swerski: Well, at least the outcome of that is in question. Who do you gentlemen like in a race? Now the favorites are Mark Martin, and Dale, Jr.
Pat Arnold: I like Dale Jarrett.
Carl Wollarski: Dale, Jr.
Bob Swerski: Now what if Da Trojans were to enter the Daytona 500? Uhhh, what would you predict would be the outcome, huh?
Todd O'Conner: How would they compete?
Bob Swerski: Well, let's say they rode together in a big bus.
Carl Wollarski: Is Reggie Bush driving?
Bob Swerski: Of course.
Carl Wollarski: Then I like Da Trojans!
Bob Swerski: Sure.
Todd O'Conner: Yeah, I gotta go with Da Trojan Bus!
Superfans: Da Trojan Bus!
Carl Wollarski: Bus full of Trojans!
Pat Arnold: See, I don't know, you know, I may still have to go with Jarrett, you know? But you guys figure it out.
Bob Swerski: That's all right Pat. There are no easy questions in this life my friend. Except for one, that of couse being the triumphant party at the Rose Bowl.
Pat Arnold: I know of whom you speak. ...
Bob Swerski: Let's just say that the winner shall be a certain team, from a certain Pacific town, that starts with a "Los", ends with an "Angeles." (The Superfans raise their beer mugs in agreement)



Bill Swerski: Alright, we're talking here, live from Corso's, in the heart of Los Angeles, home, of course, to a certain football team, which has carved out a special place in the pantheon of college football greats. That team, which is known the world over, as.. Da Trojans!
Superfans: Da Trojans!!
Bill Swerski: Okay. Okay, by my watch, we're about thirteen minutes from game time. As you are sure aware, Da Trojans are getting ready for the Rose Bowl against Da Texas Longhorns. Now, let go around the room for some predictions. Pat?
Pat Arnold: Da Trojans, 62 to 3.
Bill Swerski: Okay. Todd.
Todd O'Conner: Trojans. 79-zip.
Bill Swerski: Oh, really? You don't think that Da Longhorns will score?
Todd O'Conner: No, I do not! Da Trojans defense is like a wall. You can't go through it!
Bill Swerski: Alright. How about you, Carl?
Carl Wollarski: I say Trojans, 52 to 14.
Pat Arnold: Oh, what? Come on!
Carl Wollarski: I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I gotta give Da Texas credit - I think they'll give Da Trojans a game!
Bill Swerski: Alright, leave him alone, that's his prerogative! As for my prediction.. at game's end, uh.. there will be two teams of contrasting moods heading off da field, my friends. One gloom, one gleeful. The gleeful, of which will be.. Da Trojans!
Superfans: Da Trojans!!
Bill Swerski: 74 to 2! ... Alright, alright! Now, let me shift gears here for a moment. What is God's role in this? Obviously, he's rooting for Da Trojans.
Pat Arnold: Otherwise, he wouldn't have put 'em at USC.
Carl Wollarski: That's right.
Bill Swerski: That's right. Da question is: Now, did God create Da Trojans, and make them superior to all teams? Or is he simply a huge fan, and Reggie Bush made them superior to all other teams?
Carl Wollarski: That's a tough one. [ Waitress interrupts ]
Waitress: Alright, guys, here's your food. Who had da avacado loaf?
Pat Arnold: I had da avacado loaf.
Waitress: Alright. Bud Light.
Carl Wollarski: I had da vegetarian omelette!
Bill Swerski: Yeah.. please, next time, bring da food during da commercials, darling, alright?
Waitress: Just doing my job.
Bill Swerski: Yeah, alright. [ Waitress exits ]
Bill Swerski: Okay, well.. I see now that it's almost time for the foregone conclusion that is the Rose Bowl.
Pat Arnold; Not gonna be pretty!
Bill Swerski: Now, gentlemen, let me ask you this: What if Da Trojans were all 14 inches tall, you know, about so high? Now, what's your score of today's game?
Carl Wollarski: Against Da Texas?
Bill Swerski: Yes, give 'em a handicap.
Carl Wollarski: Trojans 18, Texas 10. And that would finally be a good game.
Pat Arnold: Yeah, it would be a good game. Mini Trojans 24, Texas 14.
Todd O'Conner: What about Leinart? Would he be mini, too?
Bill Swerski: No, he would be full-grown.
Todd O'Conner: Oh, then, uh.. Mini Trojans 31, Texas 7.
Carl Wollarski: Oh, hold on. Then I change mine, too. I thought it was Mini Leinart.
Bill Swerski: Okay, gentlemen, another scenario: Da Trojans, they don't make it, big surfing accident.. and the only one who shows up is Reggie Bush. Bush vs. Da Texas. Okay, score, gentlemen.
Pat Arnold: Alright, without Leinart there, I gotta say Bush 17, Texas 14. He just barely gets by.
Bill Swerski: Alright, that sounds exciting. Perhaps, you know, a late Bush field goal. [ Danny Sheridan enters round table discussion ]
Bill Swerski: Hey! As you fans know, sports celebrities like to frequent Corso's. And oddsmaker Danny Sheridan has just sat down with us. Now, Danny.. what would the point spread be for a game like that? Bush vs. Da Texas. Now, remember, it's only Bush, not the regular Trojans team.
Danny Sheridan: Okay. I'm gonna say the Texas by about.. [ thinking ] ..800.
Bill Swerski: Great, Danny. Now, are you from Dallas?
Carl Wollarski: He lives in Texas, eh, Pat?
Bill Swerski: You like it there. You can stay there, as far as I'm concerned.
Danny Sheridan: No, it's just that.. it's one guy, you know-
Bill Swerski: Yeah, that's alright. Just take your cowboy hat and go home! Get outta here, Danny!
Todd O'Conner: Yeah, go shoot somebody with a gun! [ Danny Sheridan exits the room ]
Bill Swerski: Alright, now let's get back to our discussion. Trojans vs. the Assembled Choir of Heavenly Angels.
Pat Arnold: The whole choir?
Bill Swerski: Well, Saraphone, Jerebone - the whole nine yards.
Pat Arnold: Angels.
Carl Wollarski: Angels, but it's close.
Todd O'Conner: Trojans!
Bill Swerski: Alright. Leinart vs. God in a golf match. Now, he's a good golfer.
Pat Arnold: Leinart.
Todd O'Conner: Lei-nart!
Carl Wollarski: Leinart.
Bill Swerski: Well, I see they're setting up the 40-foot screen, so I guess it's game time. Now, you enjoy the game, folks. Alright, now Trojans vs Stephen Douglas in a debate, what do you think?
Superfans: Da Trojans!!

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