Monthly Archives: December 2019

The last–or next to last–post of 2019

The final 24 hours of 2019–and the 2010s–for those of us six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time are underway.

It will be 2020 at this time tomorrow. YIPPEEE!

Those of you who are going to some lame party later this evening to celebrate the flipping of a calendar–GET A FREAKING LIFE.

I hate New Year’s Eve. I find it to be contrived, phony and nothing but cow feces. Your life is not going to magically change because the year changed. Your debts will not be magically erased because the year changed. Your favorite team is not going to magically win the championship of their league because the year changed.

Resolutions are just as pointless. Why bother? Most people, myself included, are only going to break them.

If I am up when 2019 becomes 2020, I will not be watching live television. I never watched Dick Clark hosting from Times Square, and I certainly have never watched Ryan Seacrest. That tradition should have ended when Clark suffered his debilitating stroke in 2004, and if not then, definitely when Clark passed away in 2012.

I never considered venturing to the French Quarter on New Year’s Eve when I lived in New Orleans. Too many a-holes in the Big Easy like to shoot guns in the air to celebrate the flipping of the calendar, and tragically, it killed a tourist from Massachusetts in the first minutes of 1995, a harbinger of what was to come.

I ended 1995 at the Superdome watching Virginia Tech beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl, the night Frank Beamer’s Hokies officially became a power player on the national college football scene. Four years later, Beamer’s squad was back in New Orleans, losing to Florida State in that year’s BCS championship game.

I got an up close look at Beamer during the leadup to the Sugar Bowl in January 2005, when the Hokies faced Tommy Tuberville’s Auburn Tigers. I came to the conclusion Beamer was one of the nicest men to ever coach college football. If I had a son who had a chance to play football for a Power Five school, I hope he’d have Virginia Tech high on his list..

Anyone who has a bad thing to say about Frank Beamer needs help. A great coach and a greater man. The game is a little emptier without him on the sideline in Blacksburg.

Say what you want about Tuberville, but I enjoyed seeing him at press conferences that week as well. Sadly, the man who called Auburn’s 16-13 victory in that Sugar Bowl for Auburn radio, Rod Bramblett, was killed along with his wife by a reckless teen driver this past May. Ironically, Bramblett became Auburn’s play-by-play announcer for football after his predecessor, Jim Fyffe, passed away from a heart attack in 2003. Life is cruel.

Witnessing the Hokies’ defeat John Mackovic’s Longhorns was one of the best days of 1995 for me. Tells you how bad that year was. It is the only time I have been out past 2100 on New Year’s Eve, and it’s something I don’t want to repeat. As long as I’m in Russell on December 31, I won’t have to worry about that.

Speaking of college football, it’s a good thing LSU and Clemson will have two weeks to prepare for the showdown in my native city. LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and the rest of the Bayou Bengal family needs the time to grieve the loss of Carley McCord, a sports broadcaster with New Orleans’ NBC affiliate, WDSU, who died in a plane crash in Lafayette with the pilot and three other passengers five hours before the Peach Bowl kicked off. McCord was married to Steve’s first child, Steve Jr.

McCord, who received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern State in Natchitoches and her master’s from LSU, was only 30. Sadly, Natchitoches is where singer Jim Croce perished in 1973 after a small plane crashed just after takeoff from the small town’s airport.

(In case you haven’t looked a a map of Louisiana, Natchitoches is almost halfway between Alexandria and Shreveport along Interstate 49. It’s where the blockbuster motion picture Steel Magnolias was filmed.)

Steve Ensminger was the football coach at Central High, where he was a star athlete from 1972-76, in 2001. I covered two of his team’s games, losses to perennial powers St. Amant and East Ascension. The Wildcats may have been overmatched by their foes from Ascension Parish in those games, but they were disciplined and fundamentally sound. Those kids had to be thrilled to be coached by a Central legend, an ex-LSU quarterback, and someone who had been a college assistant at powerhouses like Georgia and Texas A&M. Ensminger’s wife, Nancy, coached Central’s softball team for many years, and his daughters were All-State pitchers for the Wildcats.

My oldest friend on earth, Rosemarie Renz Huguet, now teaches in the Central school system, as does Michele Ashmore LeBeouf, who helped St. Joseph’s Academy go 165-9 and win four consecutive volleyball state championships from 2001-04.

A lot of people criticized Ed Orgeron when he kept Ensminger on staff following the 2016 firing of Les Miles, but Orgeron has had the last laugh. Ensminger, who preferred a run-heavy offense in his earlier years, has proven to be flexible and able to adapt to the pass-first mentality of 2019. Orgeron also deserves credit for coming to that conclusion after Alabama came to Baton Rouge in 2018 and embarrassed the Bayou Bengals 29-0. He hired Joe Brady, who along with Ensminger helped Joe Burrow enjoy one of the best seasons for a quarterback in college football history.

Two questions remain for Burrow: (a) Can he complete the job against Clemson, and (b) Will he enjoy a long and prosperous NFL career, something only two previous LSU quarterbacks (Y.A. Tittle and Bert Jones), have done?

It’s a shame Ensminger never got the chance to be a college head coach, yet I think he’s happy where he is and is content with never occupying the big office.

He was cordial enough to me when I interviewed him after the 2001 games, but wasn’t as quotable as coaches like Dale Weiner (Baton Rouge Catholic), Sid Edwards (Redemptorist and later Central), Kenny Guillot (Parkview Baptist), David Masterson (Northeast), J.T. Curtis (John Curtis) and Hank Tierney (Shaw and now Ponchatoula). It’s not that he dislikes the media. Instead, he’s comfortable staying in the background and letting Ed Orgeron do the talking. Nothing wrong with that.

Another rambling post in the books. Night.

The once-a-month update

There are less than 50 hours left in 2019, at least for locations which are six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, or Central Standard Time in the United States and Canada.

Sorry for the long period without a post. Again, there just hasn’t been much to write about…at least anything good.

It has been a terrible December for me. Some of it is my own fault. Binging on Twinkies is never a good idea, especially for someone with Type 2 diabetes. It shot my blood sugar through the roof, and unfortunately, I have to live with my painful trigger finger for at least another eight months. My A1C may come down enough to allow for the surgery, but now I need to eat up my health insurance deductible and co-insurance.

Twinkies have a special place in my heart. When I was in elementary school, my mother sometimes packed Twinkies in my book bag for a snack. Many times they got crushed. I cried when it happened.

Every time I saw Twinkie the Kid on a package of Twinkies, I thought back to my early years. It made me cry sometimes. It made me smile others. And unfortunately, it also made me hungry. My willpower was zero at this time last month. Fortunately, I’ve been staring at four unopened boxes of Twinkies for the last five days and not given in to temptation.

The block of Roquefort I’m looking at is a much better alternative. Yes, it may be more expensive, but it has zero carbs. Maybe it’s time I indulge my cheese cravings in 2020. Or keep on eating bacon.

I tripped and badly bruised a bone in my right wrist in Hays when I went to visit Crista early this month. It still hurts.

LSU routed Oklahoma yesterday to reach the College Football Playoff final, where it plays Clemson January 13. I’m not too excited. I really don’t care. I’m not going to be there, and I’m no longer living in my native state.

The Sooners have become the 21st century version of Nebraska in the 1980s. The Cornhuskers mauled teams left and right in the regular season throughout that decade, but when it came time to win an important game, Tom Osborne’s team came up short, whether it be Barry Switzer’s Sooners in the regular season or in a bowl game.

From 1978-93, Nebraska was a pathetic 4-12 in bowl games. Three of those wins came at the expense of LSU (1982 Orange, 1984 Sugar, 1986 Sugar), and the other was against another SEC team, Mississippi State (1980 Sun).

Osborne won three national championships in his last four seasons to cement his legacy. Current Sooners coach Lincoln Riley may be piling up wins, but he is 0-3 in CFP games, all against SEC foes.

Until Riley gets over the first hump, he can’t try to get over the second. And if he doesn’t get over the second, he’ll be on the same pedestal as Chuck Fairbanks, one step below greatness. Switzer, Bud Wilkinson and Bob Stoops (who lost in the 2015 CFP semis to Clemson) all occupy the top rung in Norman, and with good reason.

Last year at this time, I wondered if LSU would ever play for a national championship again in my lifetime. After the woeful effort in the 2011 championship game (actually January 9, 2012) when LSU gained 92 total yards in losing to Alabama, I had serious doubts.

Yet here we are, with LSU 14-0 and 60 minutes away from its fourth title. Clemson is going to be a gut check for the Bayou Bengals, but at the same time, the Tigers from South Carolina have yet to face a dynamic offense like the one Joe Burrow has led this season.

The biggest winner is Ed Orgeron. This can’t be the same guy who went 10-25 at Ole Miss from 2005-07 and looked terrible doing it? It is. Right now, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward would choose Orgeron over anyone else, even if Nick Saban came crawling back and telling Woodward he would coach LSU again for free. Orgeron probably has the job as long as he wants, and unlike his predecessor, he probably will get to retire in Baton Rouge.

If LSU defeats Clemson, I hope everyone remembers that and doesn’t try to run Orgeron out of town the same way the late, great Charles McClendon was forced out in the late 1970s simply because he couldn’t beat Bear Bryant and Alabama. Same thing with Les Miles vs. Saban and Alabama. Orgeron has earned the right to keep the LSU job for the foreseeable future, win or lose vs. Clemson.

As for Louisiana’s professional football team, the Saints have to play in the wild card round. New Orleans hosts Minnesota, and the Saints have nobody to blame but themselves for having to play this coming weekend. Losing to the Falcons at home doesn’t cut it. Neither does giving up 48 points to the 49ers on your home field. Now the Saints will have to win in Green Bay and possibly San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl.

The Saints are 1-6 in road playoff games. And the “1” was a two-point squeaker in Philadelphia in 2013. Not promising.

Chiefs fans are deluding themselves into thinking this is the year they go to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. Not happening. Yes, Kansas City got a bye today by defeating the Chargers and the Patriots choking at home to the Dolphins.

All that did was make sure the Patriots will come back to Arrowhead and end another Chiefs season. It would be delicious irony if the Chiefs’ playoff game was Jan. 11, because it would be EXACTLY 50 years since Super Bowl IV. I hope no Chiefs fans have booked non-refundable travel expenses to Miami for the Super Bowl, or to Baltimore for the AFC Championship. Kansas City won’t get past New England.

(The NFL spared the Chiefs that ignominy. Kansas City’s game is Sunday, January 12 at 2:05).

Better hope like hell the Titans pull off an upset, Chiefs Kingdom. Then again, DeShaun Watson already beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead, so doing it again isn’t a problem.

While LSU and Clemson start preparing for the only college football game left that matters (oops, make that one of two, because North Dakota State and James Madison have to play for the Division I FCS title Jan. 9), meaningless games resume tomorrow. Not interested.

Now there are 49 hours left in 2019 in these parts. Good night.