Sunday, December 31, 2006

Chillin' at Chili's w/ Lie Muss Weed (Sat. Dec. 30)

When your run-around-town timetable overlaps with a Saturday filled full o' bowl games, sometimes it means that you'll find yourself in a Chili's bar and maybe even end up with a basket of chips n' salsa in front of you whilst the Alamo Bowl is on the TV with no sound, but -- here's the fun part -- the closed-captioning is crankin' full-tilt.

You can empathize with who ever is rat-a-tat-tatting on the keyboard while TV announcers are prattling away in a semi-coherent manner.

In a lot of ways, watching college football with the "CC" apparatus activated is better than watching college football in hi-def -- and that's mostly because high-definition is the love child of engineers and scientists and retailers while the "CC" typist is a (maybe) not-so-well-compensated, faceless, unsung American hero.
Or heroine.

Either way, the typist performing keyboard wizardy today for the Alamo Bowl probably breathed a sigh of relief that he/she merely had to type the names the Texas QB (Colt McCoy) and the Iowa QB (Drew Tate) and didn't have to deal with the major roadblock which beset the "CC" typist for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada.

What's interesting about that is that ESPN's Pam Ward was actually saying "Kaheaku-Enhada's" entire last name throughout her broadcast, rather than bailing like those CBS wusses, Jack Bolercraig and Eon Igloo, did earlier this season by merely calling him "Kaipo."

A lot of Americans who watch wayyyy too much college football have oftentimes dismissed Pam Ward because her voice is too husky or because we simply don't want a chick calling the play-by-play of this savage, testosterone-laden, gladiatorial bloodsport.

But, girlfriend got the job done with flawless pronunciation of "Kaheaku-Enhada."
She gets major props for that.

Speaking of the Texas QB, let's get this much out on the table right now:
A month or so before the season began, we all sorta chuckled when we learned that Texas and Hawaii would each open the season with "A Quarterback Named Colt."

Instinctively, we decided to keep an eye on Colt McCoy and one on Colt Brennan, although we knew we didn't have enough eyes to keep an eye on LSU PK Colt David and/or Boise State LB Colt Brooks.

"Colt" ... it's the Y2K version of "Chet" or "Walt."
No, seriously ... it is.
Check the rule book.

As we came to learn, these QB Colts were some colts with some clout. Colt Brennan set the Div. I-A record with 58 TD passes and Colt McCoy tied the Div. I-A freshman record with 29 TD passes this season.

Colt McCoy's two TD passes tonight were dandies ... the first, just before halftime ... perfectly-thrown to Limas Sweed in the left corner of the end zone and then the 72-yarder to Jamaal Charles out of the backfield was another perfect-touch, thread-the-needle job down the sideline.

This isn't to say that Colt McCoy is going to win two or three Heismans -- but, it is fun to remember how the "CC" person referred to the Texas receiver -- "LIE MUSS WEED."
Then, when a reference was made to the upcoming Georgia-Virginia Tech Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Bulldog QB was typo'ed as "MATH YOU Stafford."

Hey ... those were honest mistakes ... coulda happened to anyone.

It just so happened that those typos occurred two days after America was formally introduced to Martel Van Zant, the Oklahoma State starting CB who was born without eardrums.

Martel Van Zant relies heavily on quality "CC" operations for his hearing impairment -- although he'd probably be a lot more forgiving of the Lie Muss Weed and Math You Stafford typos than he would if, during his team's win over Alabama in the Independence Bowl, the "CC" typist had referred to him as "MATTEL VAN'S AUNT."

That would've benefitted no one.

Anyway, the reason that PF7 wasn't glued to the couch was that PF7 and La Familia de PF7 paid a brief visit to the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. to see the name of a fallen member (PVT MC ... b. 1/18/48, d. 3/27/67) of Mrs. PF7's family on Panel 17E.

Not too many days go by when the Ol' Pitchfork doesn't sober up and realize that he should be watchin' college football with his mother-in-law's nephew.
Apparently, Prez. LBJ found it to be in PFC Kevin's best interests that Kevin should die a semi-anonymous death at the age of 19 ... at the hands of the Viet Cong in a foreign land somewhere across the Pacific.

Is there anything worse than being killed in a foreign land in such a barbaric manner?

As we salute the stars n' stripes, it's important to remember the objective of PFC Kevin's unit:
To secure the land for the South Vietnamese so that one day the citizens there can work for 2.3 cents per day assembling Nike cleats for the USA's college football warriors to wear into battle -- without the infringement of the Viet Cong (or the Khmer Rouge).

It's for these reasons that this household doesn't get too choked up about the melodrama which is the saga of Pat F-ing Tillman and the national championship which he almost won at Arizona State.

Footnote: Probably 20 minutes after we left D.C., the body of Jerry Ford arrived in the downtown District area.

Which made some of us wanna put on a Muck Fichigan button (until we thought better of it).

Anyway, speaking of military maneuvers which failed badly, Navy blew that 21-10 lead against B.C. (losing on that last-second FG) ... Iowa blew a 14-0 lead and lost to Texas in the Alamo Bowl (the 'Horns avenging the 55-17 spanking in the inaugural Freedom Bowl) ... and Georgia delivered an unlikely rally, coming back from 21-3 down to win the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Fascinating developments, to be sure.

Just for fun, though, it might be neat to imagine what a "CC" operator would type when he/she has to transcribe Herb Kirkstreit's important message to America.

Herb Kirkstreit: "USC has to protect John David Booty." (This is what Herbie sez even if he's asked to comment on Texas-Iowa).
"CC" Typist: "Blah blah blah blah, my hazel eyes hypnotize girls I'm not married to, blah blah blah, my hair has product in it, blah blah blah ..."

The NFL: Skanky But Sweet (Kiss Cowher Goodbye?)

Here's a dynamic which never ceases to amaze:
If college football just so happens to be your main squeeze, it's interesting how the NFL oftentimes slinks onto the scene and creates one of life's more-complex love triangles.

Actually, the NFL is more like the sex you had in college.
That is ... if you went to college approx. 20 years ago.
You remember: Encounters which were wreckless (and totally consensual) and with no strings attached, but with the possibility that you would get flagged for excessive celebration (once the occasional pangs of guilt subsided).
It's always a delight to reminisce about those who put the "sensual" in "consensual."

Nowadays, though, "SHE" is the only one ... until you start pickin' up the vibe from "HER."
"SHE" is college football.
SHE is mighty sweet and reel purdy ... but there's something seductive and naughty-as-hell about "HER" (the NFL).
While other guys simply use HER for a quickie Fantasy fix, you don't, 'cuz you're not into that. You're into HER for your own gratification.

Maybe SHE is nice and everything -- and you and SHE have a good time ... at least, during the times when SHE is not annoying you. You and SHE might spend an entire Saturday together ... but then Sunday rolls around and your original plan was to get some studying done, maybe do a quick load of laundry, probably grab a bite to eat and, uh oh ... look who's alone in HER room down the hall ... alone ... and HER roommate just so happened to go home for the weekend.
Suddenly, you remember the four Tuborg Golds in your mini-fridge and it's just a matter of time until you have HER horizontal.

There's nothing about HER (the NFL) that's all that special. While SHE (coll. FB) spoils you most of the time, it's not long before SHE's not by your side on that particular night and you end up at a party off-campus and you bump into HER there, so, it's no big surprise when you're heavily involved in a game of Quarters and you've found yourself a "target" because HER skills at Quarters are only marginal -- and you're relatively-clutch during crunch time and, oh boy, you have to walk HER home because she's wasted.

It's a crazy, wonderful merry-go-round. SHE tells ya that she tried phoning several times between 10 and 10:30 last night, but there was no answer and then you remember that, between 10 and 10:30, you had HER blouse unbuttoned and her bra unclasped.
Or you chuckle to yourself remembering last night's adventures with HER when suddenly SHE pops by on her way to the library to work on her term paper ... and, jeez ... she never made it to the library, but, somehow, she did make it to gettin' all naked.

SHE notices that you're emotionally available -- but, in your mind you're some sorta bad-ass, love-'em-and-leave-'em rebel, so you vow never to expose your frailty to HER.
To HER, though ... you're just a dick
Eventually, SHE will find out about HER ... and you might end up without either SHE or HER.
Until you find a new SHE.

It always works that way with coll. FB vs. the NFL. At least, that's how it worked 'round here, one day after we'd spent a Saturday with Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (actual spelling), Lie Muss Swede (NOT the actual spelling -- except on Closed Captioning) and Math You Stafford (NOT the actual spelling -- except on Closed Captioning), we might've forgotten that the NFL still had final Sunday of regular-season nonsense, which included the TV broadcast of Ben Roethlisberger (actual spelling) and his Terrible Towel out-of-towners at the Cinshitnati Who Deys in what might very well be the final game for Cowher Power.

Damn TV listings in that damn newspaper to which we cancelled our damn subscription recently, damn them ...

Since we didn't click on 'til midway through the second quarter (when it was 7-0, Super Steelers), we kinda sorta missed the 15-play, 90-yard drive which consumed 8 1/2 minutes, capped by Fast Willie's record-tying 1-yard TD.
According to the Cliffs Notes, the scoring march -- which bridged the first and second quarters -- was highlighted by Fast Willie carrying for gains of 9, 11, 3 yards to end the first quarter (before he handed off on an end-around to Hines Ward for 9 yds. on the final play of the quarter) before he opened the second quarter with gains of 2, 4, 2 and 2 before his 10-yd burst to the Bengal 1 set up his own TD.

Fast Willie's TD, as we all know, was his 15th of the season, equaling the mark held by Louis Lipps Sinks Ships (a fave of the Haystack Household) when Looie scored 12 receiving, 2 on punt returns, 1 rushing in '85.
That was a crummy season, wasn't it? 1985 ... Noll's 7-9 record was his first sub-.500 season since '71 ... Malone got hurt after the five-TD opener against Indy -- and David Woodley might not've been on his meds.
2-4 to begin the season ... 1-4 to end the season ... but that 54-44 loss at San Diego was mighty fun, wasn't it?
And, Robin Cole got some major props for his first (and only Pro Bowl).
Robin Cole was nails, in case you've forgotten.

Oh, yeah ... Fast Willie had 9 carries for 44 yds. on that scoring drive ... a series in which B-Roth (everyone calls him "Big Ben") completed four of five passes.
The first play of the drive was an 18-yard completion to Cedrick Wilson and the fifth play of the drive was a 14-yard completion to Cedrick Wilson. B-Roth also had completions of 9 and 6 yds. to Smilin' Hines Ward.
We would have preferred seeing the Terrible Towelistas taking a 7-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, but Cinshitnati got the FG just before the halftime horn.
That Cinshitnati drive had achieved a first-and-goal at the Steeler 4, but leave it to Who Dey to self-destruct with a pair of false-start penalties.

The Steelers drive which overlapped the third and fourth quarters ... that was aggravating, not to mention serving as a microcosm for the '06 Steeler season.
Beginning at their own 1, B-Roth hit Jerame Tuman for 13 yards and then Fast Willie ripped off runs of 17 and 9 yds.
Bang! Fast Willie for 3 ... B-Roth to Dutch Country Dan Kreider for 4 yds. ... Najeh The Hamper Growler hammers away for 7 and 20 yds. to the Who Dey 26-yd. line before Hines grabs that wide lateral, pump-faked a Bengal defender by cocking his arm before tucking the ball and picking his way for a 21-yd. gain to the 5.

That's where rookie Willie Colon, playing for Max Starks, got hisself all flagged for "taunting" -- another of the NFL's litany of arbitrary and capriciously-applied "offenses."
If a Willie Colon gets in someone's face and yells a profanity, that's taunting. But, when a receiver (pick one, any one) makes a 12-yard reception, falls to the ground and then rises up and spikes the ball with TD-spiking force and yells, "That's what I'M talkin' 'bout, m*therf*ckers!!!" that's acceptable behavior.
Oh ... and sack dances apparently do not fall under the umbrella of taunting.
Again ... it's arbitrary and capricious.
And, who suffers most?
The children ...

Such nonsense seems as though it might've been as water under the bridge when B-Roth, on 3rd-and-10, scrambled for 11 yds. to the 9, but on the very next play, Fast Willie crushed us -- simply blew our minds -- when he was two steps from crossing the goal line when the wet football was barely tapped from his grasp at the 2, causing him to fumble at the 1 and then bellyflopping and missing his own recovery in the end zone (whereupon ex-Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson fell on the loose, wet football for a touchback).

That possession was both depressing and annoying not so much for the manner in which a potential 14-3 or 10-3 lead completely vaporized into a 10-7 deficit on the TD bomb to Rap Sheet Henry one minute later. No ... what rankled some of us Jerame Tuman fans was that his 13--yard reception went for naught.

Know this: In his eight seasons, Jerame Tuman has caught only 42 passes, albeit 22 have gone for first downs. Although many of us are opposed to the funky spelling of his first name, we approve of: A) His excellent middle name ("Dean") B) His rugged good looks and C) The fact that he was a "movement science" major at Michigan.
Oh ... and when he was a junior on the Wolverines' '97 nat'l championship team, his naked body showered next to the naked bodies of Brian Griese and Tom Brady.

What many of us would like to forget about Jerame Tuman (aside from the funky spelling of his first name) is the memory we have of the '05 AFC Title Game when B-Roth made that horrifically-late pass to Tuman, whereupon Tuman bellyflopped onto the Heinz Field turf as Rodney Harrison made the INT and 87-yard runback for a severly-damaging TD.
It was then that we knew that the 16-1 Steelers' Super Bowl hopes were in danger.
Lt. Kaffee: "Grave danger?"
Col. Jessep: "Is there another kind?"

B-Roth, though, he didn't allow Fast Fumblin' Willie's bobble to bother him. On the ensuing possession, he sacked up and connected for 17 yards to Santonio Holmes, 15 yards to Dutch Country Dan and 17 yards to Smilin' Hines for a big 3rd-down conversion.

Willie got the go-ahead TD (his 16th of the season, which broke Looie's record), but then those Bastard Bengals came back to re-take the lead, aided by a roughing-the-passer flag against James Farrior (another "iffy" call, although the attempt to rationalize it was that Farrior "picked up" the QB ... whatever ... )

So, with 2:47 to play and the ball on their own 17 -- trailing, 17-14 -- B-Roth did it again, the first play being a crucial 21-yard completion to Nate The Not-So-Great (From Tiffin!) to the Steeler 38 and, following an incompletion, a 34-yard hookup with Not-So-Super Santonio to the Who Dey 28-yard line at the Two-Minute Warning.

When B-Roth completed that pass for 11 yds. to Dutch Country Dan on the first play after the 2MinWarn, it seemed as though there was a good chance to punch one in for a TD and a 21-17 lead, but, alas, the drive stalled and Jeff Reed was summoned to perform his duty out of Greg Warren's snap and Chris Gardocki's hold.

A chance at a season-ending spoiler win appeared to be in danger ("grave danger?" ---- "is there another kind?") when RapSheet hauled in that pass past a beaten Bryant McFadden, but then Marvin Lewis decided to do give his Jungle fans his traditional Marvin Cluelesss look, ordering American Idol Carson Palmer to foolishly fall down to "center" the ball for Shayne Graham.

When Shayne's kick took that mini-right turn to travel to the right of the right upright (right?), the prudent move woulda been to keep the ball on the left hashmark so that Shayne's slice (or "fade," as you golfers call it) coulda been compensated for.

Mrs. PF7 was chucklin' mighty hard with her hubby (just as we danced a mini-jig together when Vander-jagt-ass was wayyyyyyy right from 46 yards last Jan.) -- but the Mrs.' amusement turned to scorn when she saw that loser in the Bengal-tiger mascot suit standing just outside the midfield congregation for the overtime coin flip.

That was the final visual contact that we had with the game from "The Jungle." The local CBS affiliates cut to the beginning of the Billickmore vs. Buffalo game, so ... we had to wait for the highlights later in the evening. At first, when most of us civilians hear the words "67-yard TD pass," our brains are programmed to think of the artistic beauty of a football traveling 40 yards on a tight spiral and the receiver never breaking stride, etc ...

Instead, what we learned was that it was the third play of OT -- after Fast Willie had gained 5 yds. and B-Roth had scrambled for 6 yds. up the middle -- when Speedy Santonio gobbled up that quick-hitch pass, faked out a few guys and then it was off to the races.

It seemed so non-traditional. And, if it was Cowher's last game, what statement does that TD make?

(Question: In Chuck Noll's final game -- the 17-10 win over Cleveland in Dec. '91 -- wasn't it no-name CB Richard Shelton who picked off a pass and ran it back to inside the 5 and, with no one around him, stopped at the 1-yard line, faced the 50-yard line and then performed a backwards fall -- "The Nestea Plunge" -- into the end zone? That keeps sticking in our minds around here, but Steve Sabol at NFL Films has refused to take our calls ... )

Speedy Santonio shoulda taken The Nestea Plunge, alas ... he was trying to outrun those amazing athletes on the Cinshitnati Who Dey's defense. We could talk about how Cinshitnati (and "all that talent") imploded AGAIN at the end of the season with ANOTHER three-game losing streak and a Steeler victory in The Jungle which ended their season again, but ... Carson Palmer's New Year's Eve plans of gettin' jiggy with a Carson Daly NBC New Year's Eve celebration are of no interest here.

With Cinshitnati's loss, the K.C. CHEFS get the final AFC Wild Card bid -- a team which Steel Town waxed, 45-7, in a game punctuated by Rian Wallace's dandy INT TD of a misguided aerial by Brodie Croyle.

What a messy season. While it was gratifying to beat Cinshitnati as redemption for the first meeting (when B-Roth threw those two ridiculous goal-line interceptions and Ricardo Colclough and Verron Haynes carelessly coughed up the ball deep in their own end), the Curtain played some baffling football.

The 2-6 start was riddled with mistakes and turnovers ... leads of 10-0 in San Diego and 17-7 in Atlanta which did not lead to victories ... the 9-0 loss at Jacksonville (the first of Fast Willie's seven awful road performances until today's 37-carry, 134-yard Bengalbasher) ... the inexplicable embarrassment in Oakland ... the three fumbles (two inside the Broncos' 5, one inside their own 10) and three interceptions against Denver ...

Even the 6-2 record in the second half of the season was marred by two wimpy efforts against an opponent which was clearly inside their head -- 27-0 and 31-7 to VERY beatable Billickmore Ravens.

Nobody's sayin' that the Steelers played scared in those games, but, jeez Louise ... Cleveland gave Billickmore two tougher efforts than that. And Tennessee had a 23-7, second-quarter lead until the Titans forgot that they aren't smart enough or strong enough to win a ballgame they're not 'sposed to.

What we were witness to was just about the most-erratic 8-8 team in history -- or at least, one of the most topsy-turvy seasons by a defending Super Bowl champion. Some of the sh*t that wnet down was almost impossible to explain.

Roethlisberger was the poster child for this dysfunction -- but for the success as well. He made all the throws today against Cincy ... he looked superb in the 38-31 win over New Orleans ... and he simply ripped up the Brownies during that fourth-quarter comeback (224 of his 272 yards passing during the final 15 minutes).

B-Roth was an enigma. While everyone was saying that "there's something wrong with Big Ben," he'd come out and make money throws.

Then, he'd toss an INT, just to make sure we were all paying attention. He wrapped up his third season with a career-high 18 TD passes (after seasons of 17 and 17), but the 23 INTs is what draws the attention of a lot of people. In his regular-season career, B-Roth has 52 TDs and 43 INTs -- and in his postseason career, he has 10 TDs and 8 INTs.

That might not seem like much of a ratio (62-51), but would the two QBs who were taken ahead of Big Ben with the 13th overall pick (Eli Manning and Philip Rivers) have fared any better in the Ken Whisenhunt system? At least when B-Roth messes up, he can blame it on the motorcycle crash or the appendectomy.

Elisha and Phil? They are afflicted by their own mediocrity.

For now, Terrible Towel Town has nuthin' to do 'cept wait for Cowher to announce his intention for the '07 season. And, if he leaves, will Whisenhunt go elsewhere? And, if he does, what coaches will go with him? And, if he stays, will the lineup of assistants remain the same?

Sure ... 8-8 kinda sucks -- but, three more 8-8's are easier to stomach, given the 16-2 season of '04 and the Super Bowl magic of '05.

The Cinshitnati Who Dey's and their Arena League jerseys don't scare anyone with Ocho Stinko and Houshmanzilli ...

Friday, December 29, 2006


Let's face it: It was hella good fun a few years ago when the Moto-X Games Network was airing TV promos for "Capital One Bowl Week" and, in the re-worked lyrics from that bright Xmas song "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (a song which became a holiday classic thanks to the velvety voice of Andy Williams), we, the consumer, heard that classic line:

"There'll be 50-yard kickings and risky flea-flickings ..."

Rhyming "kickings" and "flea-flickings" ... powerful stuff.

But, then the guy who wrote the original song -- George Wyle (who also penned the theme to "Gilligan's Island," believe it or not) -- died in the middle of '03 and, well ... maybe 50-yard kickings and risky flea-flickings didn't seem so important any more.

So, now, our "Capital One Bowl Week" is cluttered with updates of the location of the body of the recently-deceased Gerald R. Ford and up-to-the-minute newsflashes re: the Saddam Hussein execution scheduled to take place whilst the Champs Sports Bowl is taking place.
In other words, the week has been a little weak.

Therefore, we're left to simply "kill" time ... waitin' 'round for that killer Alamo Bowl matchup this evening between Texas and Iowa -- with the kickoff scheduled about an hour before Jerry Ford's body arrives in the District.
It'll be a nice change of pace from the Saddam Hussein after-party, that's for sure.

Now that we ponder it, Texas vs. Iowa takes us back to the only other time that the Longhorns and the Hawkeyes met in a bowl game ... December '84 ... "yesteryear" ... when life was simpler and the Free World's arch enemy was somebody named "Khaddafi."

Those were the days, all right ... especially when you're preppin' for that inaugural Freedom Bowl by finding a dry patch anywhere during the steady December drizzle at Anaheim Stadium (then known as "The Big A" ... home of the California Angels and the L.A. Rams, two teams which no longer exist.

1984 ... the days when Herb Kirkstreit was a snot-nosed, 14-year-old rather than the sexy-and-slick know-it-all who currently attempts to infringe on our personal space with in a pseudo-authoritative, college-football point of view.

When Herbie watched that inaugural Freedom Bowl, he had no inkling of what might transpire once Iowa QB Chuck Long began to dissect a secondary which had an All-America DB in Jerry Gray -- albeit the Longhorn secondary of the season before was the one we'll never forget because it featured the likes of Mossy Cade, Jitter Fields and Freddie Acorn.
True dat: When it's "Long vs. The Longhorns," it is necessary that there's a Freddie fightin' for freedom and dispensing some Acorn justice.
(Yes ... that WAS a ploy just to work Freddie Acorn into the plot)

Indeed ... nobody wins when December rain is more desirable than your new girlfriend who is indifferent to freedom and your dad is kinda cranky and not thrilled about freedom and/or the potential daughter-in-law prospect.

So, we left the stadium before Chuck Long found his rhythm ... and by the time we were drying off at home, Long was in the midst of setting a bowl-game record which still stands -- six TD passes in the Hawkeyes' 55-17 rout.

The losing QB that night was Todd Dodge, the head coach of prep powerhouse Carroll Dragons of Southlake, TX, who, as it happens, was named recently as the new head coach of the North Texas Mean Green.
If North Texas can work San Diego State onto the schedule in the next few years, Dodge and Long (SDSU's field boss) can meet on Main Street once again, their holsters full of six-shooter fury.

It makes ya wonder, though, if that soggy SoCal night was Chuck Long's last (ever?) hurrah in the Southland. He came back to SoCal a year after that 461-yd., 6-TD effort and, after having narrowly lost the Heisman Trophy to Bo Jackson (1,509 votes to 1,464), Long played well in the Rose Bowl (27 of 39 for 319 yds.), but his Hawkeyes were drubbed by UCLA, 45-28, when backup TB Eric Ball rushed for 227 yards and four TDs (three longer than 30 yards) in a game which some theorists theorize that Hawkeye RB Ronnie Harmon "tanked."

On top of that, Long's first SDSU team finished 3-9 -- and the Spaztecs didn't look good gettin' there.

That was always the underlying message of the Freedom Bowl that people often overlooked -- that freedom is never free.
Although the Freedom Bowl is now extinct, we now have the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to remind us of the price of freedom.

Yet, that's not doin' a damn thing to help us remember the Alamo Bowl, is it?
Well, funny thing is, the inaugural Alamo Bowl, like the inaugural Freedom Bowl, taught us some valuable life lessons.
And, again ... it was Iowa who did the teachin' while we did the learnin'.

That first-ever Alamo Bowl came at the end of the 1993 season ... and we all remember how THAT Iowa team took our breath away with the breathtaking QB skillz of Paul Burmeister (now of the NFL Network) -- and a lot of us remember how Paul Burmeister singlehandedly handed the Builder’s Square Alamo Bowl to the Cal Bears.

How so?

Well, on the final play before halftime, Burmeister felt the wrath of the pass-rushin' DT Regan Upshaw and hurried an inaccurate pass which LB Jerrot Willard intercepted and returned 61 yds. for a TD and a 23-0, Bears lead at halftime.
A lot of us wondered why Burmeister tried to win the game all by himself … why he didn’t throw more passes to Anthony Dean or why he didn’t focus on handing the ball off to the reliable Kent Kahl.

What seemed obvious at the time was that Iowa's best chance to beat Cal that night was to showcase an offense which featured more Dean and more Kahl.

Not that more of Dean and Kahl would’ve guaranteed a victory, but let's consider the positives of Hayden Fry reaching into his bag o’ tricks and ordering a halfback-option pass whereby Kent Kahl would’ve looked downfield for a wide-open Anthony Dean.
With some imagination, the result of such a gadget play would've prompted diehard Hawkeye fans to watch the action unfold as they coached from their seats:
"Throw it to Dean, Kahl! He's wide open, so hit Dean, Kahl!”

Oddly enough, it seems as though America doesn't have a corporate sponsor for this year's Alamo Bowl. Previously, we had six Alamo Bowls ('93-'98) sponsored by Builder's Square; three Alamo Bowls ('99-'01) sponsored by Sylvania; and four Alamo Bowls ('02-'05) sponsored by MasterCard, but, apparently Bell Helicopters had to get all Fort Worth-y on us and forget its San Antonio step-child.

Of course, when it comes to remembering the Alamo Bowl, Michigan left it out of its '06 media guide (and all other game-recaps from a 7-5 campaign in '05).
Nevertheless, none of us will forget the game's final play in which Wolverine Tyler Ecker took the seventh of the seven laterals on the game's final play and allowed himslef to be gently guided out of bounds at the Nebraska 13-yard line as the clock hit 0:00 in the 32-28 defeat.

It was such a wussy ending (on Ecker's part) because, well ... a player has to think on his feet out there and KEEP HOPE ALIVE.
Former Wolverine Jerry Ford woulda lateraled to a teammate.
Because he wasn't a quitter.

Anyway, we haven't seen any seven-lateral madness or any 50-yard kickings or risky flea-flickings, but we've been entertained so far.

Some of the highlights:

FREE SHOES U. 44, FUCLA 27 -- Coach Bobb-buh apparently strung together enough phrases w/ "dadgum" and "golldern" at halftime to inspire his Junior Chief Osceola pee-wee squad to take down the Powder-Blue Bru Crew in the Emerald Bowl.
Bobb-buh achieved Career Win #366 (Paterno's at #362 heading into his bowl game) and avoided a 6-7 record when the playmakin' Lawrence Timmons returned that blocked punt for a TD and when Tony Carter sealed the deal with that 86-yard INT runback on a pass attempt which QB Patrick Cowan aimed tentatively (a ball which Thousand Oaks High graduate Ben Olson never would have thrown).
While it's been brought to our attention that FUCLA coach Karl Dorrell is NOT a lifeless, life-sized, cardboard cutout (despite his sideline presence), he maybe doesn't want his players to know about what's pictured here on pg. 24 of this Street & Smith's 1984 Official Yearbook -- the photo where he and Mike Sherrard are leaping skyward in a quasi-high-five/Fun Bunch, exhilaration mode, likely a reaction to one of Dorrell's two TD catches from Rick Neuheisel in the 45-9 rout of Illinois in the Jan. '84 Rose Bowl.
Notwithstanding his constant deadpanned expression, Dorrell had to be fired up (inside, anyway) when he watched Brandon Breazell sprinting into the clear and looking like a young Karl Dorrell on that 78-yard TD reception -- although, for the rest of America, it wasn't nearly as interesting a moment as what happened a year earlier when Breazell returned those TWO onside kicks for TDs in the game's final 2:24 of a 50-38 win over Northwestern in the Sun Bowl.
God, that was some stupid-ass sh*t -- but, then again, this is FUCLA ... and the Bruins In Ruins, despite their memorable triumph over USC, didn't lose to a few mediocre teams this season because they're "well-coached."
Now, Karl Dorrell has until spring practice to decide what to do about Cowan vs. Olson, although it does seem as though the Thousand Oaks High phenom will win back the job so that he might break all (or any) of the UCLA passing records held by former Thousand Oaks phenom Scott McEwan, who elected NOT to turn pro before the '00 season so that he could help UCLA to a 21-20 loss to Wisconsin in the Sun Bowl.
By the way, the always-calm Karl Dorrell is now 1-3 in these "lesser" bowls -- not a big deal 'round Westwood, unless you, like most of America, is startled to learn that this was Dorrell's fourth season.
As long as Dorrell doesn't start any slugbait QBs from Newbury Park H.S. (as Donahue did with Wayne Cook in the early '90s), he'll be A-OK.
This isn't about, Karl Dorrell, though. It's about Bobb-buh stayin' one step ahead of Joe Pa.
And, it's about moving merchandise, such as Emerald Nuts, who assualted America with bushel-loads of TV spots for their product.
Kinda makes ya wanna call up FSU starlet Jenn Sterger and invite her inner thigh out to play.
Oooops. Jenn can't come to the phone right now.
She has a mouth full of nuts.

OKIE STATE 34, CLUMSY TIDE 31 -- Two things about this throw-away game really stood out:
1) What America heard when Alabma interim coach Joe Kines spoke to sideline reporter Todd Harris at halftime and 2) How lucky OSU CB Martel Van Zant is that he will never have to hear that.
That's because Martel Van Zant was born without eardrums.
And most of America lost theirs when Joe Kines began to speak.
Good gravy, Bob Davie, how in God's name does a person get a voice to sound that gravely, that hoarse, that raspy, that sandpaper-eqsue?
Joe Kines' voice was one-half rusty chainsaw, one-half Ford Escort engine which hasn't had an oil change since 1994.
Marlboros or Winstons didn't do that, America. It HAD to be unfiltered Camels or Pall Malls.
Hearing it live ... was ... shocking ...
And disturbing.
Luckily, Martel Van Zant will never have to hear that voice. Unlucky for America, all we got to hear was a one-minute-long mini-bio from Todd Harris re: a fascinating human-interest story of a kid who not only plays football, but starts at CB for the Cowpokes.
Van Zant has an interpreter, Allie Lee (a guy who we met for 30 seconds at halftime), who works feverishly to translate and keep pace with coach's instructions, etc ...
Van Zant was recruited to Okie State by then-coach Les Miles, who, apparently, has a deaf brother.
Great info ... an impressive story ... but it never made its way onto any of the Poker Channel's College LameDay presentations because America needs more, more, more Leak Orso and Herb Kirkstreit.
Leak Orso: "If Michael Hart can run the ball, that'll set up the play-action pass for Chad Henne."
Herb Kirkstreit: "The offensive line has to protect Chad Henne. And, Michigan's defense has to get after it ..." The Winter X Games Channel has stuck to the same format during the past three years -- and that is, "Don't stray to far from Teams #1, #2, #3 and maybe #4 (bonus coverage: Notre Dame!)
LameDay misses a dozen stories per week, but at least the viewers can amuse themselves with those signs that the kids paint and they hold up when the LameDay crew is "on campus" ... informative signs, such as who might get the first reach-around, who wears a merken and whether the Arkansas QB is better than the Florida QB ... "DICK TAKES A LEAK."
Same ol' sh*t, week in, week out. If, in fact, it's true what Big & Rich (and Cowboy Troy) sang about LameDay "comin' to your sittt-tayyy," it looks as though our sittt-tayyy is gonna be bored sh*tless -- and will remain as uninformed as it was before LameDay came to our sittt-tayyy.
Don't you d*ckheads have a Winter X Games to prepare for? Or, at least a Winter X Games ad campaign you can assault us with? (Note: The cool thing about Winter X Games promos is that they contain more useful college football info than any LameDay production)
Sure, it's understandable that the Winter X Games Network needs to gas up the jet which'll whisk Herb Kirkstreit from Auburn to Penn State on the same day just so that he can spank some heinie (we didn't say male or female) at 30,000 feet before he baby-sits those broadcasting f*ckups, Pusburger and Gravy Davie.
The important lesson we've learned from the Disney Football Enterprise known as LameDay is this: If it's interesting to 90 percent of America, it doesn't interest LameDay.
Even though Herbie is "cumming ... in your sittt-tayyy!"
Again ... we did not specifiy boy or girl.
Speaking of boys, Gavin Gundy, Gage Gundy and Gunnar Gundy had to be proud of Daddy for pullin' out that W vs. Roll Tide. While those may not seem like traditional Begins-With-A-Hard-G names (such as "Gary" or "Gabardine"), it probably makes a lot more sense than naming a boy Gandhi Gundy.
The game? Who cares? May Day, back in the studio, made a reference that OSU QB Bobby Reid was alllllll-most reminiscent of Vince Young.
America's response: "Ohhhh-kayyyyy" (while repeatedly pantomiming the act of putting a glass of hard liquor to our own lips).
Just a simple FYI: Bobby Reid doesn't even crack our Top 3 "Fave Okie State Cowpoke QBs of All-Time" list. In that group are: 1) Asoteletangafamosili Pogi (who, 5 years ago this month, nearly died in that car crash on Lawton Road) 2) Rusty Hilger 3) Gabardine Gundy's Papa.
As per Roll Tide ... is that program still relevant? Will Joe Kines be allowed to remove the "interim" label from his "head coach" title, just so he can sit in a recruit's living room and unleash that Growl From Hell?
Leak Orso: "Not so fast, my friend. I'm not finished talking about Michael Hart and Chad Henne."
Also, let's never forget the S.L.I.D.E. Rule which was discussed recently.
Too Stupid, too Lazy, too Incompetent, too Drunk, too Egomaniacal to get it right.
Grandpa Leak Orso and Grandma Holtz should have a S.L.I.D.E.-off.

UCB 45, Aggs 10 -- During the player intros in the opening stages of the Holiday Bowl, Cal QB Nate Longshore tried to assure America that the Golden Bears' yellow (not golden) jerseys were swell ... and that, for those of us who didn't like them, "don't lie to yourself."
OK, here's the juice, NotSoGreat Nate ... do you remember those games when you were wearing white road jerseys and white cleats and do you remember how your opponent from Tennessee and then USC violently violated you? Remember how you lay on the ground in Neyland Stadium as "Rocky Top" played while you writhed in the fetal position, coughing up blood and spewtum -- and, before ya knew it, there you were again, in the fetal position on the grass at the L.A. Coliseum while "Conquest" rang in your ears as you tried to wipe the USC cleatmarks off your face?
"Don't lie to yourself."
It was magi-CAL!
And, hysteri-CAL!
Ya gotta love Long Nateshore, though ... the next of the Cal Bear QBs to flame out in the NFL. Ever since Steve Bartkowski was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1976 draft, America has had a steady diet of untalented-but-cocky QBs on parade, such as Rich Campbell, J Torchio, Gale Gilbert, Troy Taylor, Mike Pawlawski, Dave Barr, Pat Barnes, Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers.
Not Joe Roth, though. Our Heroic #12 died of cancer shortly after his senior season.
Long Nateshore should try to remember that when he's Arena League-ing it in 2010.
Sadly, A&M DB Melvin Bullitt isn't totally in the clear, either. Although he has the coolest DB name since
"Freddie Acorn," Mel went a little too gangsta on America when he introduced the stars of the A&M D and then signed off by holding up his right hand with his fingers positioned thusly: his pinky, ring finger and middle finger extended to represent a "W" with forefinger and thumb curved (but not touching) to indicate a "C" ... a hand-signal for "WC" ("Wrecking Crew").

All that most of us Americans saw was Melvin Bullitt and his Aggie posse "wreck" was any credibility they had as being anything more than a bunch of pussies, their previous three losses by a total of 6 points notwithstanding.
Try covering someone ... try tackling somebody.
Dems da roolz of wreckage, Mel.
Tru dat! Double true!.
This game definitely was a snoozer, mostly because Herb Kirkstreit (another outstanding NFL-caliber QB, provided that the "N" in this particular "NFL" stands for "Nerf") embraced America tenderly and quieted our sobs by whispering that Cal's impossible task will be to attempt to stop the impossibley-unstoppable 311-lb. tailback, Jorvorskie Lane.
FTR: Jorvorskie Lane rushed for 600-something yards this season. Before you ask, "Is that an all-time record?" well, yes ... it is.
For a 311-lb. load of ()()().
And for any/all RB's named "Jorvorskie."
Seriously ... does Jorvorskie Lane look like Ja'Mar Toombs to you, America?
And, did anyone confuse this Aggie backfield of Lane, Stephen McGee and Michael Goodson with the all-time Aggie QB-TB-FB terror known as "Mike Moseley, Curtis Dickey and George Woodard"?
(Note: Those guys played in the 1970s, so, if it happened before 1995, Herb Kirkstreit doesn't know about it. And, if it happened in college football between 1961 and 2004, Leak Orso definitely doesn't know about it.

CAN'TUCKY 28, CLUMSY 20 -- That's always fun to type ... "Can'tucky vs. Clumsy."
But even more fun to type than that are the names of the classic UK QBs which have started for the Can'tucky Wildcan'ts since Bill Ransdell led the 'Can'ts to their most-recent bowl-game victory (a 20-19 verdict over Wisconsin in the '84 Hall of Fame Classic).
What a list of illuminaries: Freddie Maggard, Pookie Jones, Antonio O'Ferral Billy Jack Haskins, Tim Couch, Dusty Bonner, Jared Lorenzen .... some real legends, but not exactly George Blanda and Babe Parilli, is it?
So, Andre' Woodson ... what's yer damage?
By halftime, Clumsy had committed three turnovers, missed two FGs and and a PAT while the Can'tucky Wildcan'ts had goofed off almost equally as superbly, except maybe for that fake punt ... which led to that long-bomb TD pass by Woodson, which kinda/sorta had America thinkin' that maybe Can'tucky mayyyy-beeee could win (or at least challenge for) the Frontier League title or the Metro Seven North Division title. FTR: Nobody in America watched the second half of this game.
FTR, part II: Nobody in America remembers which bowl game this was.
Shhhhhh ... don't ruin it for other Americans, America.

RED RAIDERS 44, GOLDEN GOPHERS 41 (OT) -- Since more Americans have access to Al-Jezeera than they do to the NFL Network, the execution of Saddam Hussein definitely got better Nielsen ratings than Minnesota's Insight Bowl-implosion after building a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and a 38-7 edge midway through the third quarter.
The greatest collapse in bowl-game history wasn't a broadcast bonanza, but the public lynching of Minn. coach Glen Mason took place before several thousand on-the-scene eyewitnesses.
Although according to people such as former Minnesota QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq, executions are NOT the most-viable way to celebrate Ramadan, this was not a shocker to any of us who spent some time (probably too much time) watching the Gophers beat North Dakota State, 10-9, when NDSU had a last-second field goal blocked.
Some of us rooted our guts out for ol' NDSU for givin' it the ol' college try.

TERRORPINS 24, BUMBLERMAIDENS 7 -- Nothing pisses off Americans worse than when we in the Kevin Kolb Fan Club are deprived of the final minute of Kevin Kolb's final-minute Liberty Bowl drama as ESPN elects to cut away to give America the pregame of the Team Click Clack! vs. the West Lafayette Rotary Club.
Look ... the only reason to cut away from Kevin Kolb leadin' his Coogs on a last-ditch drive vs. the 'Cocks is if the Champs Sports Bowl pregame promises to showcase the Ralphfrigerator -- all four of him -- gang-tackling a meat-loaf hoagie.
In case it matters (and, dammit ... it does!) ... Kevin Kolb's Coogs came up short vs. Spurrier (44-36), despite Kevin Kolb's bid for some sort of lifetime-achievement award.
With his 386 yards passing against USC East (which could've put a smile on the face of America if Spurrier had started freshman Chris Smelley because, sometimes, the path to victory is best paved by a Cock That Is Smelley), Kevin Kolb finished with 12,964 yards passing in his career -- although, if his receiver had run a 25-yard route on 4th-and-23 instead of an 18-yard comeback route, that drive would STILL be alive and Kevin Kolb could be attempting to eclipse the 13,000-yard mark.
As it is, Kevin Kolb finished #4 all-time behind Timmy Chang (17,072), Ty Detmer (15,031) and Philip Rivers (13,484), surpassing Louisiana Tech's Tim Rattay (12,746) and Luke McCown (12,666).
If only Sean Salisbury were available to give us the pros n' cons of what'll make Kevin Kolb a good pro QB -- as opposed to what Salisbury is qualified to talk about (i.e. playing backup QB at 'SC; completing 6 of 20 passes in his only NFL playoff game; leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the Grey Cup).
WAIT! What about Terps-Boilers?
Well, since this game conflicted with the Hussein Hangman Hulabaloo, it was pretty easy to lose focus.
The deed was done sometime between 10:01 PM EST and 10:06 PM EST and nobody really remembers at what point we were at in the bowl games which were relatively uneventful up to that point.
Disney's Football Paradigm attempted to rectify the unpleasantness, but rather than giving us what we craved (hidden video of Maguire spilling his Scotch all over his game notes), all we got was a mighty serving of "A Very Griese New Year."
Heaven knows, the only way to counter-act Hussein hatred is to remind America what a great American Bob Griese is.
It began with the AFLAC Trivia Question when America was asked to name the three Purdue players who finished as Heisman Trophy runners-up (that was pretty easy ... Griese, second to Spurrier in '66; Leroy Keyes second to Orenthal in '68; and Mike Phipps, second to Steve Owens in '69).
It didn't end there. Next, it was necessary to see a flashback of Bob Griese during the era when he won back-to-back games vs. Michigan ('65, '66) and when Phipps won back-to-back games against Notre Dame ('68, '69).
Then, there was photo of Griese surrounded by five or six chicks as part of a bowl-game promo or somethin' (although there was no photo caption provided to explain which of those chicks Bob nailed and/or which of 'em, if nailed, woulda been a Mommy which would've had Brian throwing like less of a girl).
To fully quench our thirst for More Griese Right Now, the Griese P.R. Machine provided a graphic of Purdue players in the NFL Hall of Fame -- Griese, Len Dawson and Hank Stram.
Four Griese snapshots simply did not seem like enough, did it? Particularly when we compare the Bob Griese-Brian Griese relationship, vis-a-vis the Saddam Hussein relationship w/ Uday and Kusay.

When it comes to the matter of public hangings, most of us prefer the way that Tuco and Blondie ran the scam wherein Tuco's neck was in the noose and just after recapping the crimes against Tuco, the sheriff finished with, "Thereby, we sentence the accused, Tuco Benedicto Juan Maria Pacific Ramirez -- and any other aliases he may be known as ..."
BLONDIE: "Known as The Rat ..."
"... to hang by the neck until death. May God have mercy on his soul. Proceed!"

Then, Clint would shoot the rope, shoot the hats off the heads of the lawmen, et cetera ... Tuco would fall from the gallows and the two would ride off, eventually splitting the reward money.
Which pretty much describes the payment plan set up between bowl reps and A.D.s nowadays.
Hey ... freedom is never free ...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nighty-Night, Knight

When they convene for the 5-year reunion of "The Clumsiest NCAA Tournament Finalist Ever" sometime this coming April (four months from now), a fairly educated guess is that someone in that gathering of Dane Fife, Jared Jefferies, Tom Coverdale, Jeffrey Newton, Jarrad Odle, A.J. Moye, Kyle Hornsby -- the Sensational Seven who led Indiana to the title-game berth against Maryland in '02 -- will remark, "Sure, Coach Davis led us to the championship game, but it was Coach Knight who recruited us to IU and showed us that the keys to victory are here ... here ... and here ..."

Later, America will learn that when Dane Fife said "here," he first pointed to his head.
When he said "here" the second time, he pointed to his chest.
And when he said "here" the third time, he was pointing to his crotch.
Rock on, Dane-gerous Dane Fife.

Meanwhile, what America wondered last night was whether the guy who was transformed by Bob Knight from a little Dane-tee boy to a Dane-gerous, b-ballin', throat-slashin' machine was watchin' Knight's O'Reilly Auto Parts University Red Raiders attempting to make history against UNLV on ESPN2 (in the house that O'Reilly Auto Parts Built).

Or was the Dane-iac watching perfectly-good college football action (i.e. Cal vs. A&M) on the World's Strongest Man Network (provided that the TV's MUTE function was activated so that Herb Kirkstreit's endless stream of refutability was quieted)?
(Footnote: It was good for a chuckle when "the crawl" at the bottom of the screen on the Espy Awards Channel kept showing a final score from earlier last night ... "Texas A&M 101, Grambling 27" ... that game, by the way, was 65-13 at the half)

Well, the Americans -- one-half, pro-Knight loyalists and one-half, anti-Knight extremists, 95 percent O'Reilly Auto Parts enthusiasts -- were pissed off (or elated) that the O'Reilly Auto Parts University Red Raiders went down against the Runnin' Rebs, thus, keeping the giant #880 cake (out of which Lou Henson will pop) in the cooler for another few days.

For the pro-"he's a molder of young men" crew, it was heartwrenching to see the expression of 2011-2012 Red Raider head coach Patrick Knight shift from nonplussed to unfazed as the O'Reilly Auto Parts University's comeback from a 19-point deficit fell short.

For the pro-"he's a dinosaur and a hyprocrite" contingent, the sight of the Runnin' Rebs building that 19-point lead behind the likes of Lon Kruger's kid, somebody named Curtis Terry and the unstoppable inside presence of Gaston Essengue, well ... it was something to relish.

So explained the pro-Knighters: "It's a young team and without Coach, they'd probably finish with eight or nine wins tops, blah blah blah ..."
Prompting a rebuttal from the anti-Knightistas: "Shouldn't a legendary coach get more out of mediocre talent? Ya call that a motion offense?"

Somehow, we get the feeling that Nancy Knight -- who was watching her sons Patrick and Timothy (seated at the end of the scorer's table next to the O'Reilly Auto Parts University bench) -- clicked off the TV early in the second half.

Nancy, Bob's first wife, was there for something like 300-400 of those 879 wins -- and, no doubt, she'd seen enough.

Also not watching: Damon Bailey (THE whipping boy of all of Knight's all-star whipping boys) ... Charlie Miller and Andrae Patterson ... and, not even if there was a big-screen, plasma TV in Heaven ... Jason Collier, God rest his soul.

Rooting whole-heartedly in absentia were Knight pals Tates Locke (who had a few personal problems which, umm ... led to a little problem with some big-time cheating at Clemson) and Norm Ellenberger (a dirty, dirty coach who had a little problem with running a New Mexico program into the ground until "presto!" ... he ended up as a Knight assistant).

Just a guess, but, sure, what the heck -- Neil Reed probably WAS watching, just so he could sing along with each UNLV basket.

"You can kiss my lilywhite ass, you insecure, worthless, warming-the-bench-for-Ohio-State, watching-Jerry Lucas-in-the-shower pile of sh*t!"

What really wounds many of us Americans is NOT knowing whether Tark The Shark will be flown in for the New Year's Day bonanza against New Mexico. Most of us Americans have already (in our minds) had our secretaries send Bob a quickie memo: "I've got the Outback Bowl at 11, the Cotton Bowl at 11:30 and the Capital One Bowl and Gator Bowl both kickin' off at 1. You're on your own, Sarge. P.S. -- Most of us don't see ya winning that game, anyway."

Back to Tarkanian for just a sec. He mentioned something interesting last week when interviewed during halftime of the Las Vegas Bowl -- and then he brought it up again last night when referring to the previous Knight vs. UNLV showdown.
Tark indicated that, in that 97-93 Indiana win over #1-ranked UNLV in the '87 Final Four, Gerald Paddio took a shot that would've put the Rebs ahead -- but "it was halfway down and popped out."

Ya gotta love Tark ... reminding America of the mediocrity that was Gerald Frickin' Paddio, one of the more-memorable, one-dimensional players of the Tark Era in Vegas (footnote: Paddio attended classes, wink wink).

It's a darn shame that Paddio didn't hit that shot, considering how consistent he'd been throughout that tourney.
That was the first year in which everybody was shooting' the 3 from 19'9" and Paddio took full advantage -- going 1 of 3 on 3-balls in the opening-round win over Idaho State ... sinking 2 of 10 in the second-rounder vs. K-State ... drilling 1 of 7 in the West Regional semifinal against Wyoming (and Fennis Dembo) ... and draining 4 of 11 in that West Regional final against Iowa in which Tark's sharks came back from a 58-42 halftime deficit against Dr. Tom Davis.

Hence, Paddio was shooting at a torrid 26 percent clip from the perimeter heading into that Final Four matchup in New Orleans, featuring the 37-1 Rebs and the 28-4 Hoosiers.

It wasn't Paddio who torched IU, though ... it was Freddie Banks (10 of 19 on 3-balls, 38 points) and some spirited inside play from Armon Gilliam (32 points, 10 boards), but, alas ... UNLV didn't win those 40 or 50 national championships because, ummmm ... "balance" was usually a problem.

Although Banks' backcourt mate Mark Wade had 19 assists in that game, he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with his shot. Jarvis Basnight (exactly -- the "incomparable" Jarvis Basnight) would disappear for stretches at a time. And, Gary Graham and Eldridge Hudson off the bench were servicable, but not reliable.

So, IU went to the title game because Steve Alford scored 33 points and because Ricky Calloway (12 points, 6 boards), Daryl Thomas (6 pts., 4 rebs.) and Dean Garrett (16 pts., 11 rebs) were sturdy inside and because Keith Smart (14 points on 5 of 7 shooting) was versatile.

Also, Knight had the trusty combo off the bench -- Steve Eyl and Joe Hillman, who, in a combined 37 minutes of PT, sank 6 of 7 shots, collected 8 rebounds and dished out 5 assists to 3 turnovers.

How nice that America had THAT version of Knight vs. UNLV to provide warmth and security.
But, now that Knight's quest for #880 is set for New Year's Day, it presents a dilemma which goes beyond conflict and borders on infringement.
At least, Dickie Vee will be there to provide some skillful oral copulation ("That's 'The General,' bayyyy-beee! Robert Montgomery Knight, bayyyy-beeee!")

In the interim, some of us Americans will travel down a different, darker Memory Lane ... one which goes from Bloomington to Akron approx. 5-1/2 years ago ... with Knight behind the wheel and Playboy's Lawrence Grobel in the passenger seat.
It always brings a tear of joy to the corner of our eye.

KNIGHT (bangs the center of the steering wheel with his fist): "Jesus Christ! This is bullshit! I'm not here for a fucking inquisition! And if that's what this is, then get the fuck out and hitchhike back home! The fucking stepfather was a fucking gaoddamn fucking asshole from the word goddamn go. He fucking lied and he lied and he lied! Jesus Christ! I mean, this is my fucking life we're talking about! My fucking heart was ripped out by this goddamn bullshit!"
KNIGHT: "OK, my ass! It isn't OK! Goddamn it, I don't need this shit with 'Playboy' or anybody else! I'll drop you off in fucking Dayton and you can get home."
PLAYBOY: "Please, Coach ..."
KNIGHT: "This is fucking bullshit! I don't want to hear another fucking word."

That's a tough passage to type when your eyes are watering from laughing so hard.

Alas, so many Bobby Knights to remember ... not enough time to care about any of 'em any more ...

# # #

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

X'ing Out An X-President

So many Americans have heavy hearts today -- not so much because Jerry Ford passed away yesterday (c'mon, he was 93), but because Robert Smigel never gave Jerry any good lines in "The X-Presidents" cartoons on SNL's TV Funhouse.
The cartoon X-President Ford never got a winner one-liner, such as the one which Smigel gave to the cartoon X-President Reagan when Ronnie glared at that evil cartoon tree and snarled, "Just say 'no' to me kicking YOUR ASS!"

Love those guys.
The made Xmerica strong.
And they wouldn't allow Clinton into the frat.

Sure, there was the athletic side of Jerry Ford, the center of Michigan's top-notch teams of 70-plus years ago.
But, for somebody who reminded the American people that he was "acutely aware" that none of us voted for him, we'd be wise to remember Jerry Ford's greatest days in office -- specifically, the two times during his presidency (mid-Aug. '74 thru mid-Jan. '77) when he welcomed the Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers to the White House.

Just as the X-Presidents made Xmerica strong, Steeler championships during a rocky Ford Administration made us believe in America again.

Then again, Lynette Fromme's handgun hadn't misfired (mechanical failure or human error?) in Sept. '75, Jerry Ford would've missed one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
Ironically, that was Super Bowl Ex ... 30 years before Super Bowl Ex El.
Which was played in Detroit, by the way.
Which is where Jerome Bettis is from.
Although Ford Field is not named for Jerry Ford.
Which isn't really Jerry Ford's name to begin with (it's "Leslie Lynch King").

Most of America is dadgummed that Johnnie Bettis, Jerome's dad, passed away a month or so before Jerry Ford.
Johnnie Bettis, like Jerry Ford, was from Michigan.
And, no one really knows if this is when Elton John is supposed to break out one of his post-death tributes, a la "Goodbye Norma Jean / England's Rose / Leslie King" composition?

We may never know if Jerry Ford's athleticism is what saved him from being assassinated twice within a matter of weeks by Squeaky Fromme and Sarah Jane Moore.
But, a lot of us remember that when we were in junior high and the Steelers were providing stability during a confusing, uncertain time in our lives, we felt that Lynette, her psychoses aside, might've been just our type.
Or are we thinking of Leslie Van Houten and/or Patricia Krenwinkel?

Seems like every girl we liked back during the Ford Administration had too many Fromme/Van Houten/Krenwinkel characteristics.
Thanks for saving us, Steel Curtain ...

Monday, December 25, 2006

X'ed Out On Xmas Eve

Sometime midway through the second quarter, the defending Super Bowl-champion Steelers' sluggish offense had us daydreamin' 'bout the days when we'd turn the crank to activate the gears which would snap the STOP sign into tapping the shoe hanging from the lamp post, knocking over the bucket containing the metal ball which would roll down the rickety staircase and into the gutter, et cetera, et cetera ... and, dammit, how many times did the ball falling from the hole in the elevated bathtub land squarely on the diving board only to have the old man NOT do a backflip into the tub ... or, if he did, having NO guarantee that the old man landing inside said tub would trigger enough of a jiggling sensation to trigger a more-smooth, less-wobbly descent of the cage down the ridges of the post?

Yup ... that's how some of us spent our Xmas ... pondering a defending Super Bowl-champion Steeler offense which was more Mouse Trap (by Hasbro!) than mighty machine (by Whisenhunt!).
Cowher Power's final game at Heinz coulda/shoulda turned out so differently, but, it seems as though the Billickmore Ravens and God's Linebacker climbed inside the heads of the Black N' Gold.
Billick is sooooooo beatable ... or, at least, so ripe for putting into a position of beatability.
Cleveland stuck it to those bastages twice (but, failed to pull the trigger on either occasion).
The Titans absolutely micturated and defecated on that "frightening" D while building a 23-7, second-quarter lead before losing when a last-second FG was blocked.

Enough about the genius of Billick and his offensive schematics, vis-a-vis D and D.
Billick really does say sh*t like that ... "vis-a-vis" and "D and D" (to mean down and distance) just to make it seem as though he's really a football coach engaged in football-speak-ese, rather than a reformed PR director under Bill Walsh.

The defending Super Bowl-champion Steelers' "win-out-and-hope-for-a-miracle" campaign is now over. Now is the time to address concerns such as who will coach the Black N' Gold next season and what areas need further scrutiny before Draft Day in April.
The stress-level is relatively low here in the Steelers' satellite office known as the Haystack Shack.
There's really no way to quantify so much of what went wrong this season other than to point the finger at 75-year-old Marilyn Devine and attribute her early-March stickup (which involved a black n' gold, knit Steelers cap, an unloaded .9 mm handgun, a tan Ford Escort and a haul of $5,300) as the main jinx factor in a jinxed season.
OK, maybe B-Roth's front-fork-to-front-fender-to-front-windshield-to-asphalt tumble was a factor.
Or, what we saw yesterday when Polamalu TWICE got hisself all mixed up in one-on-one coverage situations.
And, by ooopsie, it's an "ooopsie" in the same vein as "ooopsie daisy, it's ANOTHER FUM/INT which looks inexcusable (and preventable) when you watch the replays of such turnovers.

Indeed ... getting beaten and beat up by the extremely beatable and beat-up-able Ravens really sucks -- but was it any worse than those insane losses to the Bengals, the Broncos, the Falcons and (gulp!) the Raiders?
Yet, despair isn't in the vocab 'round here 'cuz, jeez Louise ... how'd ya like to be a Chiefs fan or a Giants fan or a Jets fan?
Those teams ain't never gonna win it all again, no way no how.
And they're going to try to out-ugly their opponents while doing so.
That's because they are so full of dysfunction.

The defending Super Bowl-champion Steelers were very Jekyll & Hyde (we don't say "schizophrenic" because schizophrenia is a clinically-diagnosed illness, not a dismissive colloquialism for Sean Salisbury to fling around casually).
We never knew if Fast Willie was the two-times-200 RB -- or the guy who could barely eke out an inch against the Ravens.

There are many matters which Yet-To-Be-Announced-Head-Coach Ken Whisenhunt (unless it's Head Coach Russ Grimm, considering how his official title is "offensive line coach/asst. head coach") must put on his "to do" list.

It's fixable.
We can say that much ...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fun, Funner, Funnest Saturday Ever

What could've been a 4 o'clock logjam for our undivided TV attention is, quite simply, a no-brainer.
The sked reads like so:
*** Florida vs. Ohio State (the b-ball version) at 4 on CBS
*** Coach Knight of O'Reilly Auto Parts goin' for the record-tying Career Victory #879 at 4:30 on The World's Strongest Man Network's Secondary Channel
*** The inaugural New Mexico Bowl featuring New Mexico and OUR ALMA MATER (The Formidable Legion of Sparta) at 4:30 on ESPN (please don't be Pam Ward, please don't be Pam Ward, please don't be Pam Ward, please don't be Pam Ward, please don't be Pam Ward ...).

Of course, it won't be Pam Ward because, even though her voice is nine octaves lower than the deepest baritone, she has likely has some chick hoops to cover somewhere (we hope, we hope, we hope, we hope).
And, it does seem fairly obvious that some folks would rather see a New Mexico Bowl whereby Ron Mexico and his brother, Ron New Mexico, are tossing out the ceremonial first pitch or dropping the ceremonial puck or whatever it is they do during these New Mexico-related inaugurations.

True ... the Alligators made some of us filthy rich last April (when our pre-tourney bracket had 'em beatin' FUCLA in the championship game), but now they're playing against 25-year-old freshman Greg Oden and, ummmm ... pre-March b-ball doesn't make it 'round these parts.
Likewise, the guy with the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo on his sweater which dwarfs the interlocking "TT" logo next to it ... well, since Luke Recker can't be there, why should we?

Which leaves us with The Always Great San Jose State and the head coach who some of used to quip, "gives me a Tomey-ache."
The Tomey Turnaround has SJSU in its first bowl game in 16 years, so, you betcha -- it's Dress-Up Day here at the Haystack Hideway.
Long-sleeve royal blue shirt under the gray "SJSU Football" t-shirt ...
Bright yellow sweats ...
The royal blue ballcap with the white, stitched, interlocking "SJ" logo ...

In those 16 years between bowl games, SJSU has coughed up some mighty horrid-lookin' jersey combos, including a the rarely-popular black numerals on dark blue jerseys and the always-awful-awful-awful pairing of black socks with black cleats.
We can scoff at the jerseys and diminish a program which we may not understand, but at least there's more ex-SJSU players w/ NFL street cred and recognizability than ex-UNM players.
Or didja forget about Kim Bokamper and David Diaz-Infante.
(OK, you, too, Joe Nedney. Group hug! Group hug!)

And for the Lobos? All most us know about the program is that it's where Brian Urlacher performed (before he was drafted with the No. 9 overall selection of the '00 draft, one pick after the Steelers mistakenly selected Plaxico Burress -- rather than Chad Pennington -- at No. 8 ... and 200-some-odd picks before New England threw away its seventh-round pick on a stiff named Tom Brady).
When we were kids, New Mexico's program was churning out infrequent NFL superstars such as Robin Cole (two Super Bowl rings for the Super Steelers) and the unforgettable Preston Dennard.
It was nearly 20 years later when UNM unleashed Stoney Case on an unsuspecting NFL.
In between, Norm Ellenberger was cheatin' up a storm for the UNM hoop program.

Which is why coll. FB -- no matter how marginal -- always takes precendent 'round here over the perceived vintage hoop showdown.
Even if The Powerful Men of Sparta should fail in their quest to bring the prestigious New Mexico Bowl Championship Trophy back to the Spartan trophy case (which doesn't seem likely, given the Spartans' resolve), the game will serve as a prelude as to what we discussed in weblogistic terms a few weeks ago -- Bell helicopters!
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (live! from Fort Worth!) is what the holiday season is all about -- increased helicopter awareness.
Some kids will spend their Christmas Day opening gifts which have remote-control helicopters and scale-model helicopters which will be assembled and left on a bookshelf ... or even helicopters made of Legos.
But, those kids won't learn jack-shi*t about helicopters unless they tune in to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Aside from compiling some helicopter intel, the BHAFB (live! from Fort Worth!) will definitely ease the pain of how we were so excruciatingly violated yesterday.
That's right ... Friday's press conference re: the Duke lacrosse players exposed America to some of the most-unChristmasy language that we've heard in a long time.

Five minutes into the presser, Defense Attorney X started hittin' America with his un-yule tide dialect wherein he prattled on about a penis penetrating a vagina for five minutes, a penis penetrating an anus for three minutes, another penis inside the same anus for two minutes and maybe someone else's ejaculate inside someone's mouth, whereupon it was spat onto the floor.
Is that some kinda funky legalese or what?

Where where Rece Davis with his flunkies Herb Kirkstreit and May Day to explain the nature of spat-out ejaculate the way that they explain college football?
If it helps, use the "Ejaculate Bracket," fellas!
(Oh, by the way, ESPN's little time-wastin', brain-killer known as "The Make-Believe NCAA Football Champion" had LSU beatin' Michigan in the title game -- which, by the way, was more-offensive than a penis in the anus for two or three minutes. Everybody knows that LSU would go down in a first-rounder because, well ... see: the loss to the Alligators. Remember, you can't spell "seLf-deStrUct" without an L, an S and a U)

Anyway, if Mr. Defense Attorney keeps using descriptions like that, he's gonna turn off all of the potential Secret Santas 'round the law office.
Speaking of what some of us know better as "jizm," the Huge Mouthful of Lou Holtz Ejaculate that we know as Skip Holtz will be spat all over the floor in the PapaJohn's Bowl as he leads ECU against USF.
Grandpa Lou assured America early this season that ECU would handle Navy (which, of course, didn't happen).
When the hell is ESPN gonna get that lisping worthless anus off our TV screen?

There ya have it. A Saturday which better be as good as advertised because, if it isn't, well ... we all know what happens when something leaves a bad taste in our mouths.