Archive for the 'Sports' Category

SEC101

It’s that time, Sports Fans! It’s almost football season. As a Public Service, I am posting my SEC101 that I wrote in order to bring my Smurf City beau up to speed on REAL football. Thought I’d share it with you. I make no apologies for any bias in my writing. It is, after all, about the greatest football Conference in human history, warts and all.

SEC101 (in Alphabetical order):

The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (AKA Aladamnbama or Bama) The Crimson Tide (but somehow they got represented by an elephant in graphics). Fans known as “Bammers” by the rest of the Conference. Proof that, like maggots, it’s possible to live off a dead Bear for 30 years. Colors are crimson and white. Houndstooth patterns, made popular by Bear Bryant’s signature hat, are also common. Rival is Auburn University. Home is Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821).

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. (AKA “Arky”). Officially the Razorbacks, but also known as the Hogs, sometimes spelled Hawgs. Defected from the Southwestern Conference in 1991. Still waiting for its first SEC Conference Championship Game (SECCCG) win. Colors are Red and White. Rival is LSU. Most home games are played in Fayetteville’s Razorback Stadium (78,000), but games against LSU and Mississippi State are played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (54,000).

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (AKA “The Barn”) The Tigers or the Plainsmen (but represented by a golden eagle, who provides their rallying cry of “War Eagle”). Proof that you CAN be schizophrenic and still kick ass in football. Colors are blue and orange. Rival is Bama. Home is Jordan (pronounced JER-dan)-Hare Stadium (87,451).

The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The Gators. Highest concentration of jorts in the Western Hemisphere. Colors are blue and orange. The “chomp” is simply a two-handed version of non-Conference rival Florida State University’s tomahawk chop. Loved by its fans, hated by everyone else. Home is officially Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548), but is much better known as “The Swamp.”

The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs, but spelled “Bulldawgs” or “Dawgs” by the faithful. The oldest state university in the US, founded in 1785. Coach Mark Richt (affectionately abbreviated to CMR) is considered not only a outstanding coach, but an all-around good guy. Colors are red and black. When greeted with a loud “How ’bout them Dawgs?” the correct response is an equally loud “Them Dawgs is hell, ain’t they?” New mascot UGA IX makes his debut this season. Home is Sanford Stadium (92,746)

The University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. The Wildcats, or Cats. Deafeningly silent during football season, but more than makes up for it with cries of “Fear the Cat” once basketball season starts. Infamously fired Bear Bryant after basketball coach Adolf Rupp complained about the inordinate amount of attention being shown the football team–just because they were actually winning games. Colors are blue and white. Home is Commonwealth Stadium (67,606).

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers. Abbreviation is LSU, but is known by other teams as “LSWho” or “Loser State.” Perfect season in 2012 shattered by Bama in the National Championship game despite beating Bama during regular season conference play. Rallying cry is “Who Dat,” for reasons unknown. Tiger Stadium (92,542) deemed most unfriendly locale for visiting teams in the country, especially if it’s a night game. Signs reading “Geaux Tigers” are legion. Colors are purple and gold. Despite the mutual season spoilage with Bama, rivals are actually Arky and Florida.

University of Mississippi, Oxford Mississippi. The Rebels. More commonly known as “Ole Miss.” Area known as “The Grove” on campus is not only considered the best tailgating in the Conference by its fans, but by many visiting teams’ fans as well. Most unjustly maligned team in the SEC. Not because of football–they aspire to mediocrity in that department–but because of their adherence to storied tradition by the diverse local and college community in the face of busybodies who’ve never set foot in Oxford. Most noted casualty was “Colonel Reb,” beloved mascot, in 2003. A campaign to choose a new mascot in 2009 went viral on the Internet and became the subject of a 5-minute feature on ESPN when a student organized an effort to make Star Wars’ Rebel leader Admiral Akbar the new mascot. The bid died when Steven Spielberg refused to allow licensing to the University, and a unanimously-hated black bear was forced on the fans by UM admins, who have since been driven from the University. Speed limit on campus is 17 mph, in honor of favorite son Archie Manning’s number. Colors are red and blue. Rival is Mississippi State. Sometimes called “Ole Piss” when disparaging is considered to be worth the effort. Home is Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580).

Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi. You can’t get there from here (or from anywhere else). The OTHER Bulldogs. Known as “Moo U” by fans of rival Ole Miss, but no one else really bothers. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Davis Wade Stadium (55,082).

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers (again?) AKA “Mizzou,” but “Mizz-ery” is also used by non-fans. Joins the Conference in 2012 for reasons the rest of the Conference is still trying to figure out. Even more head-scratching was their placement in the East Division. Colors are black and gold. Rivalry to be determined. Home is Faurot Field (71,004)

University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks, or Cocks. Women’s teams known as the “Lady Cocks.” Considered to be chicken by the rest of the Conference. The Original “USC,” having claimed that monogram in 1801, when California was still a Spanish backwater. The last meeting between the two USC’s resulted in an epic student-created sign in the stadium: “No Trojans can hold our Cocks.” Joined the SEC in 1991 as an independent school. Despite having being led by the likes of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier, has yet to win a SECCCG. Main rival is non-Conference Clemson University, but consider Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida to be rivalries as well. Colors are garnet and black. Home is Williams-Bryce Stadium (80,250).

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. Home town known as ObKnoxville by non-fans. The Volunteers, or “Vols” for short. Band only knows one song, “Rocky Top,” and will play it at the drop of a hat. They will even play it if the hat DOESN’T drop. Also known for outlandish orange-and-white checkerboards in their end zones, and still can’t get past the shadow of former coach Phillip Fulmer’s beer gut, although current coach Derek Dooley’s devotion to orange pants is also the stuff of nightmares. A movement to convince alum Peyton Manning to leave the NFL and take a coaching position gains momentum with every Vol loss. Fans still cry “Go Big Orange” (abbreviated to “GBO”), however. Biggest rival is Florida, but games against cross-state conference team Vanderbilt are becoming less and less lopsided. Colors are orange and white, in case they haven’t already made that abundantly clear. Home is Neyland Stadium (102,455)

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. The Aggies, or Ags. Mascot is Reville, a collie (I’ve met her). She is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and is assigned to a Cadet Corporal (being chosen is one of the highest honors available), who is her constant companion, including attending his classes. If “Miss Rev” barks during class, the class is immediately dismissed. If she jumps on a bed, the student who has that bed sleeps on the floor until she chooses to get off. Joining the Conference in 2012. Steeped in tradition and should be a good fit, despite the stretch in geography. Expected to renew the dormant SWC rivalry with Arkansas and to intensify the long-standing rivalry with LSU, although not expected to be a Conference power unless the alumni (known as “Former Students”) release their death-grip on the Athletic Department. Not likely to happen, since they didn’t for Bear Bryant when he coached there. They have “yell leaders,” not cheerleaders, and they are all men. It is considered heresy by fans to sit during a game, as all consider themselves to be the team’s “12th Man,” ready to suit up and take the field if needed. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Kyle Field (82,589), which is considered sacred ground. A member of the Corps of Cadets once rushed (with saber drawn) a Southern Methodist cheerleader who had unknowingly stepped onto the turf.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. AKA “Vandy.” The only private college in the Conference. Called the “Commodores,” or “Dores” in honor of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who founded the school. Known as the “Commodes” by those who think trash talk is worth the effort. Although a member of the SEC since its founding in 1932, has never won a Conference Championship in football. Main foe is cross-state rival Tennessee. Colors are gold and black. Home is Dudley Field (39,790).

Since the 1991 Conference expansion, there have been two divisions. East Division teams are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. West Division teams are Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. St, and TAMU. The winner of each division (determined by regular season W-L record) plays in the SECCCG, played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta since 1994 (the first 2 games were played at Birmingham’s Legion Field). Winners of the SECCCG have been Florida (7 wins in 10 appearances), Bama (3 wins in 7 appearances), LSU (4 wins in 5 appearances), Tennessee (2 wins in 5 appearances), Auburn and Georgia (each with 2 wins in 4 appearances). Arkansas has appeared 3 times, and Mississippi State and S. Carolina have each appeared once, but have never won.

A Little Cheese to Go with the Longhorns’ Whine

In the “Definition of Chutzpah” department, University of Texas coach Mack Brown fired the first salvo in the Longhorns’ bid to be voted the AP Coaches’ Poll National Champion after UT’s pitiful performance in last night’s Fiesta Bowl.  In todays’ Austin American-Statesman, Brown (who does, by the way, gets a vote) said:

I wasn’t sure before, but on Friday, I’ll vote Texas No. 1 because I believe this is the best team in the country.

Get real, Mack.  The way you’re dancing to the tune played by the Texas Ex’s (their Alumni Association) is more in line with a head coach at Texas A&M than UT.  It’s especially embarrassing in light of the fact that the Aggies haven’t won a piece of a National Championship in football since 1939–and never won one outright.

Last night, for 59 of the Fiesta Bowl’s 60 minutes, Texas produced their most lackluster performance of the season.  The Keystone Cops were better organized than the Longhorns’ offensive line.  Don’t believe me?  Look here.

OK, so Colt McCoy made a (literally) last-minute drive to save some semblance of the season.  Big deal.  For 59 minutes and 43 seconds, the Longhorns could not obtain a lead over the most over-rated team in the NCAA.  Ohio State lost its last two bowl games by a total of 30 points.  The Longhorns barely managed to beat the Buckeyes by three.

I know I am not making any friends in my adopted home here in Austin, but the truth hurts.  That’s the good thing about being a die-hard disciple of the Southeastern Conference in the land of what I call “The Big Two (and all those other guys).”  Objectivity.

That is, to a point.  I will be hollerin’ “Boomer Sooner” Thursday night while huddled over the download to my laptop hoping for a massive Oklahoma win. (Do we eschew cable/satellite because Hubby’s a techno-geek or because we’re just too dadgum cheap?  Inquiring minds want to know.)  I’m not backing OU just to shut up the whiners once and for all.  I’m doing it because I’m Bulldawg born and Bulldawg bred and I wouldn’t root for Florida with three engines out on the team plane.  The thought of the Phlorida Philistines with more bragging rights just curdles my stomach.

Besides, I live for those shots of Urban Meyer hiking up his britches after a play goes south.  You’ve never noticed he does that?  To resurrect a popular catchphrase from the recent Presidential campaign, “You betcha! *wink*”  It’s just as much fun as watching Steve Spurrier throwing down his headphones, his visor and (FTW!) his clipboard.

If there is any justice in this world, on Thursday night Urban Meyer will walk off with a permanent wedgie.

Then again, we are talking about the BCS.  “Justice” doesn’t exist.

The 2008 Hooties are Out!

From the pages of the Austin (TX) American-Statesman, Dec. 26, 2008.  Ya gotta love it!


Mark Duncan
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Astute lip readers could see LeBron James uttering an expletive to his mother.


Tony Gutierrez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

After Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’ numerous run-ins with the law, the Cowboys hired a security detail to keep the troubled cornerback out of trouble. That worked well – until Jones got in a fight with one of his own bodyguards.


Seth Wenig
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A YouTube video surfaced showing Josh Howard dissing the national anthem while it was being played.


David Karp
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Plaxico Burress was arrested after shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub.


COURTESY AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Cedric Benson’s June 7, 2008 mug shot.


COURTESY AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Cedric Benson’s May 3, 2008 mug shot.

2008 HOOTIE AWARDS

Our annual awards for sports stupidity

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, December 26, 2008

We usually scour the world to compile our annual Hootie Awards for stupidity and absurdity in sports.

This year, we didn’t even need to leave the state.

In Dallas, the Cowboys’ troublesome Pacman Jones got in a fight with his own bodyguard, the Stars suspended Sean Avery for using some, um, sloppy language when discussing his ex-girlfriend, and Josh Howard caused embarrassment for the Mavericks with his stance on the national anthem (and with his penchant for pot – and his drag-racing arrest – and his birthday party for himself while his team was losing in the playoffs).

In Houston, a hunter was shot by his own dog, and Astros fans were probably wanting to shoot baseball’s commissioner after his hurricane relocation plan sent their playoff hopes right down the drain.

Here in Austin, the Longhorns were redfaced over a player’s Facebook page and a coach’s stepson running onto the field. Cedric Benson spent the summer clearing his name — and looking for a new team – after being subjected to a pair of Paul Revere arrests: oneth by land, twoeth by sea.

Yes, stupidity continued to abound in 2008.

College football brought us the recruit who wasn’t really a recruit, the coach who fired his own son and a handful of banner-bearing airplanes buzzing the stadiums of the Big 12.

And then there was Chad Johnson, who gave himself a new name that was really a number; LeBron James, who cussed out his mother; and Plaxico Burress, who accidentally shot himself.

Those are just a few our esteemed nominees this year. For the full accounting of the year in sports infamy, read on.


THIS TIME, WE SHALL RENAME HIM HIT-MAN JONES

After Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’ numerous run-ins with the law, the Cowboys hired a security detail to keep the troubled cornerback out of trouble. That worked well – until Jones got in a fight with one of his own bodyguards.

THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS ON THIN ICE

The NHL suspended Sean Avery , above, of the Dallas Stars not for some violence on the ice, but for making an off-color remark. Before a game in Alberta, he called the media together and made a dig at Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery’s ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, inset. “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds,” he said. Video

SPECIAL DELIVERY FOR MACK BROWN’S STEPSON

Two parachutists jumped from their airplane with the game ball for the University of North Carolina’s season-opening football game. Problem was, they landed in Duke University’s football stadium by mistake.

TAKE ME OUT AT THE BALLGAME …

When pitcher Julio Castillo of the Single-A Peoria Chiefs hit the first two batters of the game, one of them in the head, and then threw at the third, the benches emptied in a brawl between the Chiefs and the Dayton Dragons. Castillo, it seemed, had one more pitch left in him. Amid the melee, he threw a ball toward the Dragons’ dugout – but missed and struck a fan in the stands. The fan had to be treated at a hospital, and Castillo was hit with a felony charge of assault by Dayton police. Video

YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT HE DOES DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard had a busy year. He created a stir in the spring by talking openly about his ongoing use of marijuana. Then he angered his coach when he threw a birthday party for himself in the midst of a playoff series that his team was losing. Next, he was arrested in July when police said he was drag racing at 94 mph in a 55 zone. Finally, a YouTube video surfaced showing him dissing the national anthem while it was being played. “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is going on right now,” he said on the video. “I don’t even celebrate that (expletive). I’m black.” Video

HEY, THEY’RE JUST TRYING TO BE THE NEXT JOSH HOWARD

Rookies Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley were fined by the NBA after flunking out of a league-sponsored symposium designed to help new players handle-off-the-court issues. They were caught violating the symposium’s rules by having women in their room, which also reeked of the smell of marijuana.

THEY PULLED OFF THE OL’ QUARTERBACK SNEAK

During a playoff game between the Giants and Cowboys, TV cameras caught a glimpse of Jessica Simpson, the singer and girlfriend of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. But it wasn’t the real Jessica. Instead, it was a Romo-jersey-wearing lookalike hired by the New York Post newspaper to possibly distract Romo. Given the final score – Giants 21, Cowboys 17 – it apparently worked.

WATCH ME PULL A SCHOLARSHIP OUT OF THIS HAT

When offensive lineman Kevin Hart decided to announce his decision to accept a football scholarship from Cal, it was such a big event that his school in Fernley, Nev., held an assembly to hear the news. Two TV stations showed up and watched Hart pick up a Cal cap over one from Oregon. The only problem was that neither Cal or Oregon had actually offered a scholarship or even recruited Hart.

Hart filed a police report suggesting he was duped by someone impersonating the school’s coaches; then, a few days later, he admitted to making up the entire story. Video

THERE GOES THAT NICE FATHER’S DAY GIFT

After a poor year by the Virginia Cavaliers’ offense, head football coach Al Groh, above, decided to fire his offensive coordinator – who also happened to be his son, Mike.

WHERE’S AL GROH WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HIM?

The Texas Longhorns appeared to have made a momentum-changing fumble recovery during the Holiday Bowl.

But before the loose ball could be picked up by a player, several members of the Longhorns’ sideline staff excitedly wandered onto the field, and one of them – coach Mack Brown’s stepson – was flagged for illegally touching the ball. The ball reverted back to Arizona State, which scored a touchdown on the next play. Video

HE WASN’T SAYING, ‘HI, MOM’

After Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics intentionally fouled her son on a fast break, LeBron James’ mother – in the parlance of the times – got up in Pierce’s face. Astute lip readers could see James uttering an expletive to his mother. “I told her to sit down, in some language that I shouldn’t have used,” James said. “Thank God today wasn’t Mother’s Day.” Right. It was the day after Mother’s Day. Video

HEY, HOUSTON, THIS BUD’S FOR YOU

The Houston Astros had won six in a row and 14 of their last 15 – and the only things that could stop them were Hurricane Ike, the Chicago Cubs and commissioner Bud Selig. With the hurricane bearing down on Houston, Selig, below, stepped in and moved the Astros’ next two home games against the Cubs to a supposedly neutral field in Milwaukee. Thousands of Cubs fans made the short drive from Chicago, while the sleep-deprived Astros made the flight from Houston after trying to arrange for their families and houses to ride out the storm.

The Cubs swept the two games, including a no-hitter by Carlos Zambrano, above, to start a five-game losing streak that sunk Houston’s season like, well, a hurricane.

BY JUST WINGING IT WITH THE PLANE TRUTH, THEY HOPED TO AIR THEIR GRIEVANCES AND PROPEL THEIR TEAMS TO GREAT HEIGHTS

Passes weren’t the only things flying around Big 12 stadiums this year. With the Big 12 South football race headed toward a controversial three-way tie, University of Texas fans hired a plane to circle Stillwater, Okla., where the rival Oklahoma Sooners were playing that day, with a banner celebrating Texas’ 45-35 victory over Oklahoma earlier in the season. One week later, a banner-pulling plane advising Texas coach Mack Brown to “quit whining” was spotted circling Austin for two hours, above.

Days later, another plane buzzed the Big 12 championship game in Kansas City, reminding the Oklahoma and Missouri teams that the Longhorns had defeated them both.

HE’LL JUST HIRE A PLANE NEXT TIME

Two Austin radio stations ran with the news breaking out of Oklahoma: Two Sooner football players had been arrested on drug charges. But the story wasn’t true. It had been made up by a Nebraska football fan and posted on the Internet to look like a news story from the Daily Oklahoman newspaper.

The publisher of the newspaper wasn’t amused and filed a copyright lawsuit against the man who posted the story – a man who happened to be an employee of the University of Texas and operator of a Web site called http://www.darthhusker.com.

THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL (BUT THERE SURE IS A LOT OF CURSING)

Seattle Mariners manager John McLaren, below, was (expletive) tired of (expletive) losing games. So he told us how he (expletive) felt about it. Here’s his own (expletive) words. “We’re playing our (expletive) off every day and got nothing to show for it. I’m tired of (expletive) losing. I’m tired of getting my (expletive) beat, and so are those guys. We’ve got to change this (expletive) (expletive) around. Get after it, and only we can do it. The fans are (expletive) off, and I’m (expletive) off, and the players are (expletive) off. And that’s the way it is. There’s no (expletive) easy way out of this. Can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to (expletive) buckle it up and get after it. I’m tired of (expletive) losing (expletive) every night, and we bust our (expletive). It’s got to be a total (expletive) effort to turn this thing around, and that’s it.”

(Expletive) right. Video

SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS AT A MARINERS PRESS CONFERENCE

Broadcaster Dana Jacobson was suspended for a week from her ESPN show after getting a little tipsy at a celebrity roast and, with the Notre Dame coach in attendance, declaring, “(Expletive) Notre Dame. (Expletive) Touchdown Jesus. (Expletive) Jesus!” Among those not amused was the Christian Defense Coalition, which picketed outside ESPN’s offices.

NO WONDER HE LOBBIED FOR A PLAYOFF

When presidential candidate Barack Obama, above, came to Austin to debate Hillary Clinton, he decided to make a stop at the true power center of Texas politics. The Texas Capitol? The Governor’s Mansion? Nope, Mack Brown’s office.

THERE’S A JOKE HERE ABOUT POOL CUES AND BILLIARD BALLS BUT WE’RE JUST NOT GONNA GO THERE

A German national champion was suspended after testing positive for a masking agent for the banned blood-booster EPO. Did we mention his sport? He’s a billiards player.

SPELLING ‘WISCONSIN’ TOOK TOO MANY GUYS, ANYWAY

The sportsmanship committee of Wisconsin’s high school athletics governing body recommended banning fans with bare or painted chests from indoor games. In the end, the governing body, um, backed off.

THAT’S WHAT WE CALL TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens applied for a trademark for the phrase, “I love me some me.”

MAYBE HE SHOULD BLAME IT ON HIS DOG

New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress was charged with illegally possessing a weapon after that weapon accidentally discharged and shot Burress in the leg at a nightclub.

MAYBE THE DOG SHOULD BLAME IT ON PLAXICO

A Houston-area man was killed in an accidental shooting while hunting. His shotgun had fired from the back of his pickup – after his dog stepped on the trigger. Investigators found the dog’s paw prints on the gun.

WAIT TILL I GET YOUR HANES ON ME

When the Detroit Lions informed running back Tatum Bell that he was being cut in favor of the newly acquired Rudi Johnson, Bell, left, got back at his successor. He was caught on videotape taking Johnson’s luggage from the locker room. Johnson soon recovered the two Gucci bags but not the contents. “I got the bags back – empty,” he said. “So he’s got a bunch of my underclothes. What he’s going to do with that, I don’t know. He’s got some socks and boxers.”

THE REAL A-ROD WOULD’VE SWATTED THAT BIRD RIGHT OUT OF THE AIR (UNLESS IT WAS DURING THE PLAYOFFS, WHEN HE WOULD’VE SWUNG AND MISSED)

A red-tailed hawk living in Fenway Park swooped down and sunk its talons into a 13-year-old girl who was touring the home of the Boston Red Sox. Of all the middle school students on the tour, the only one attacked was Alexa Rodriguez – known as A-Rod to her friends. Video

IT WAS EITHER THAT OR SIC A HAWK ON HIM

A Massachusetts man was charged with beating a vacationing New Yorker in Cape Cod with an aluminum baseball bat because he thought he was a Yankees fan.

CAN HE GET KICKED OFF THE TEAM? YES, HE CAN

The Texas Longhorns dismissed their backup center from the team after he posted a racially charged comment and veiled threat about Obama on his Facebook page on election night.

THEY’LL BE FRIENDS WHEN PIGS FLY

Several high school swimmers in Iowa were suspended after they impaled 15 car antennas with fetal pigs and smeared crawfish on hoods and windshields in their rival school’s parking lot. It was justified, of course.

After all, the rival swimmers had lobbed snowballs at them.

HE THOUGHT IT WAS DEERLY DEPARTED

A Missouri hunter was pretty pleased after bagging a nine-point buck. The buck, however, wasn’t pleased, nor was he dead. The deer rose up, knocked the hunter down and attacked with its antlers in what the veteran hunter called “15 seconds of hell.” The story has a happy ending, though (unless you’re the deer). The deer ran a short distance before falling down, at which point the bloodied hunter finished it off with two more shots.

THEY HUNG THEMSELVES

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman was engaged in a little on-air banter about what Tiger Woods’ competitors could do to defeat the world’s top golfer when she offered this suggestion: “Lynch him in a back alley.” Golfweek magazine added fuel to the controversy when its coverage of the story featured a drawing of a noose on its cover. Video

THOSE WHO CANNOT LEARN FROM HISTORY …

Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson began celebrating his 61-yard touchdown reception a little early, tossing the ball aside as he crossed the goal line. Officials ruled the play a fumble, saying he dropped the ball at the 1.

Unfortunately for Jackson, above, it was his second such premature celebration. In a high school all-star game four years earlier, he broke free for a long run and tried to cap it by making a showy flying flip while approaching the goal line – only to land at the 1. Video

HOW ‘BOUT OCHO LOCO INSTEAD?

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, No. 85 in your program, legally changed his last name to “Ocho Cinco” so that he could wear his nickname on the back of his jersey.

HE WAS TRYING TO CEMENT HIS PLACE IN HISTORY

A fan of the Boston Red Sox who also happened to be a construction worker building the new Yankee Stadium buried a Boston jersey in concrete being poured for the stadium in an effort to curse the rival team. Yankees officials unearthed the jersey, cleaned it up and sold it on eBay for $175,500 – and donated the proceeds to the Red Sox’s official team charity. Video

GUESS THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL A DEAD GIVEAWAY

The Grand Prairie AirHogs minor-league baseball team came up with a well-grounded promotion: One fan won an all-expense paid funeral as part of its “All Hogs Go to Heaven” night at the ballpark. The winner was a 60-year-old wearing a neck brace who’d undergone about 20 surgeries. “God still has me around for a reason,” she said. “To win a funeral.”

SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE (WITHOUT THE SEX)

The day before the New England Patriots played in the Super Bowl (and lost), the Boston Herald reported that the team had secretly videotaped the St. Louis Rams’ practice before their Super Bowl matchup six years earlier. Three months later, the newspaper said its story was in error and issued an apology under the headline, “Sorry, Pats.”

HE THOUGHT HE COULD, BUT THEY THOUGHT HE COULDN’T

Fired Syracuse football coach Greg Robinson used his final news conference to preach the value of optimism by giving a plot summary of the children’s book, “The Little Engine That Could.” Video

NOW, WAS THAT BIRDIE OR AN EAGLE?

PGA Tour golfer Tripp Isenhour was annoyed with a red-shouldered hawk that wouldn’t stop making noise while he tried to tape a “Shoot Like a Pro” video segment. So, Isenhour started hitting balls at the bird, which was safely 300 yards away. When the bird moved to within 75 yards of the golfer, he said, “I’ll get him now” – and he did. After about 10 shots, Isenhour nailed the bird, which is a protected migratory species, and found himself facing an animal cruelty charge.

NEXT TIME, HE’LL JUST SHOW UP IN THE BUFF

The University of Colorado apologized for an “insensitive, unfortunate and thoughtless” display from the university’s costumed buffalo, Chip, at a Denver Nuggets game. The buffalo showed up in a gang-themed outfit featuring baggy pants, a do-rag, fake gold teeth and a teardrop tattoo below one eye. “It was, basically, every stereotypical thing you could think of,” a remorseful university spokesman said.

IT WAS A CASE OF HE CED, HE CED

Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson became an ex-Chicago Bear when he was arrested twice on alcohol-related charges in a month – oneth by sea, on his boat at Lake Travis, and twoeth by land, in his car in downtown Austin. He still didn’t get his job back when the charges were dropped by grand juries for lack of evidence.

The Poetic Side of the BCS

The Muse hit me last night–hard.  She kept pestering me until I took advantage of the fact that my mentor teacher (who is also in charge of the Christmas program) was leading the class in rehearsal, so I grabbed a thesaurus to aid in finding synonyms that could rhyme easily, and scribbled down this tribute to NCAA football since 1998.

Ode to an Anachronism

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to conceive
A way to determine a champion national
Totally devoid of analysis rational.

Lose early in season, a team’ll survive.
Lose even mid-season, they may still thrive,
But wait ’til the end-season riv’lry to lose,
By January 2nd, they’re yesterday’s news.

And God forbid there should ever be
Two teams in a conference winning each vict’ry
And meeting each other in a conference final
So that the loser drops below other teams idle.

But the most egregious aberration by far,
Is to have three teams at end of season reg’lar
Vying for the lone conference division spot
Leaving two teams surpassed by those who do not.

Tell me, what is the legitimacy here
To perpetuate this unfairness year after year
With teams of near-perfection penalized
For belonging to a conference championship-sized?

Or, even worse, using this B–no “C”–S,
To decide who in the conference is best,
And relying heavily on opinions hollow
Of coaches with no time for such things to follow.

Since teams in divisions once called “II” and “III”
Can work out a playoff so effortlessly,
And Division I basketball teams sixty-four
Can also succeed–can’t we have just one more?

Alas!  We’ll ne’er see an FBS playoff hence,
For the idea, unfortunately, just makes too much sense!


Still, the title may have done a disservice–an anachronism is something whose time has passed.   What is the name for something whose time never was???

The Big 12 and the BCS

The lack of time for blogging caused by my acquisition of gainful employment is forcing me to be alarmingly brief, but concise when it comes to the debacle of Oklahoma representing the Big 12 South after losing to Texas 45-35 at a neutral site (the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, perpetual home of the Red River Shootout).  Since my Okie friends aren’t football fans, I am plunging headlong into this fight that (as a die-hard SEC devotee) really isn’t mine.  All I have to say about this mess is the following:

DROP THE MIDDLE “C” FROM THE ACRONYM AND CALL IT WHAT IT REALLY IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

‘Nuff said.

Tales Around the Gridiron

Last week was, without a doubt, the suckiest weekend for football since the NCAA quit allowing football games to end in a tie, thus eliminating forever the only suitable ending for a Florida-Tennessee game:  a 3-3 tie in 38-degree drizzle.  True, I had been saying all week long that Texas Tech was due for a win over the Longhorns, and since I don’t bleed burnt orange like most folks in Austin do, I wasn’t losing sleep over that upset.  Georgia-Florida?  I’ve done it before, and again, I will quote the one of the late, great Lewis Grizzard’s most famous columns for the Atlanta Journal-Constipation:

Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it.

This weekend, though, we’re kind of taking a football holiday.  Georgia-Kentucky is not being televised here, and I’m just not too terribly pumped about any of the other match-ups being offered.  I’ll check the scores on my Yahoo page from time to time, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  The desire to blog while the marinated chickens are being saturated with 250-degree mesquite smoke has taken priority.

Over our traditional Saturday in the country lunch of Mrs. Saucedo’s tamales, fresh from her cooler outside the Bellville Meat Market, we were all re-telling our favorite tales from the gridiron.  Now is as an appropriate time to share as any during the all-too short college football season.  The first two involve one of the most colorful characters ever to grace a sideline:  former Georgia Tech (ecch!) coach from 1974-1979 Pepper Rodgers.  Take a minute to check out the website that I just tagged.  It’s pure Pepper, believe me.

Anyway, Pepper had everything the Georgia Tech faithful wanted in a coach:  tutelage under their resident pigskin deity Bobby Dodd.  Pepper also had everything we Georgia fans wanted in a Tech coach:  a complete inability to win against the Dawgs.  What isn’t as widely known was that Pepper also played baseball.  A story about Rodgers’ legendary ego is a classic.  It may have been published before, and if so, let me know the credit, and I’ll give it.  Anyway, the story goes:

Pepper was at bat, and (as so often happens), the catcher was trying to psych him out.  “So you’re the great Pepper Rodgers,” said the catcher.  “They say you think you’re something.  They say you think you’re God’s gift to baseball.  They say you think you’re special.  Well, you ain’t.”

Without taking his eyes off the pitcher, Pepper replied “Know what they say about you?”

“What?” asks the catcher.

“Nothing,” said Pepper, as he belted a line drive for a go-ahead RBI base hit.

Before he came back to become the head coach at Tech, though, Pepper came through the ranks at UCLA, first as an assistant, then as the Bruins’ head coach.  Pepper picked up a few habits in “LA-LA Land” that caused some consternation among the Old Gold and White’s Old Guard, such as wearing loafers without socks, and allowing a bit of flightiness to enter that self-hallowed brain.  In fact, Pepper had become downright eccentric, which is the term we in the South use when someone has either too much money or position to have his sanity called into question.

Back to the story:  one evening early in his tenure at what we Dawgs call the North Avenue Trade School, Pepper was slated to address a group of well-funded Tech supporters on the “rubber chicken circuit.”  Pepper left his office in midtown Atlanta without incident, headed to whatever hotel conference room across town where the dinner was scheduled.  Arrival time arrived, no Pepper.  Thirty minutes passed, still no Pepper.  Keep in mind, this is still two decades before cell phones became commonplace.  No one has any idea of what’s happened to the man of the hour.

After 45 minutes, the kitchen staff is beginning to worry about maintaining the quality of their hotel dinners (as if they had cause to worry about the quality getting any worse to begin with).  It was decided to go ahead and serve the guests.  Pepper will surely arrive during the dinner, and he can speak during dessert.  The salad was served, eaten, and removed:  still no Pepper.  The “Boneless Chicken Mariott” was served, eaten, and removed–still no Pepper.  The dessert was served, eaten, and removed, and yet again, the keynote speaker had failed to show.

Just as the organizers, seeing their prospects for a huge infusion to Tech’s scholarship fund evaporate into a massive loss, were about to profusely apologize to the supporters and send them home, Pepper arrived disheveled, filthy dirty, clothes wrinkled beyond comprehension and smeared with dirt and grease.  Without missing a beat, he bounded to the dais and began his explanation.

“I had just left the campus and gotten onto the [Downtown] Connector,” began Pepper.  “All of a sudden, I hear ‘ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK’!  The tire had blown.  So I pull over, get out the jack and the spare, lie down on the shoulder and change the tire.  When I’m done, I throw my stuff in the back of the car, and take off again.  I don’t even get back in traffic before I hear ‘ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK’ again!”

“You had another flat tire?” asked an incredulous VIP at the front table.

“Naw,” replied Pepper.  “I’d changed the wrong tire!”

Well, I didn’t intend for today’s blog to be a tribute to the clown prince of the Sith, but, “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” aside, Pepper Rodgers is the funniest guy you’ve never heard of.  Some of his most hilarious moments are intentional, others not, but Pepper doesn’t care as long as you spell his name right. (Notice the “d” in the middle????)  He even made a foray into writing the Great American Novel.  No, Fourth and Long Gone didn’t win a Pulitzer (or even come close to nomination, for that matter), but it is one of the funniest accounts of the cutthroat game of recruiting in the Holy See of Collegiate Football: the various impoverished, ill-educated, and remote pockets that dot the Southern US.  It also has as a secondary story one of the most classic prolonged practical jokes ever depicted in literature.  An incompetent assistant, the lone holdover from the previous coach’s tenure who was kept only because he knows all the shortcuts around recruiting rules that were already established, is given the sole task of keeping tabs on the weekly stats for a fictitious out-of-state recruit named “Tnassip.”  For weeks after the high school season has ended, stats are called in for the nonexistent phenom, which the incompetent faithfully reports to the only other member of the staff not in the know–the head coach.  The scene in which the hoax is revealed during a coaches’ meeting by writing the recruit’s name backwards to reveal the most common nickname used by coaches for their players is classic!

The one thing those of us from the Deep South enjoy more than a reverent regard for football is the ability to tell a great story.  Pepper Rodgers has both.  Even if he’s a Tech product, he’s an entertaining so-and-so, and that’s good enough for me.

Alabama 41, Georgia 30

Once again, quoting the late, great Lewis Grizzard:

I don’t want to talk about it.


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