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LSU-Alabama: the non-rivalry

LSU and Alabama play football tonight in Tuscaloosa.

It’s being called a rivalry. It’s being over hyped as it is each and every stinking year.

That is the wrong approach, especially for LSU.

Alabama would not make a big deal out of it if (a) Nick Saban hadn’t previously coached LSU and (b) LSU has generally been the last team the Crimson Tide has needed to beat to assure themselves of a spot in the SEC championship game.

Believe me, Alabama fans care much more about beating Auburn. Bear Bryant famously said he’d rather beat the “Cow College” (owing to Auburn’s status as Alabama’s primary agricultural university) once than Notre Dame ten times. Just substitute LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M or just about anyone else for Notre Dame and it’s still accurate.

LSU fans need to stop slitting their throats over the Alabama game.

I admit I did it last year. I went nuts on Twitter and Facebook when LSU lost 10-0 to the Tide in Baton Rouge.

I was wrong to have done so.

I’m not going to do anything this year.

Look, it’s going to take Jupiter aligning with Mars (sorry, Fifth Dimension) for LSU to win. The Bayou Bengals need Bert Jones to step into a time machine and go back to his senior season of 1972 to have a chance to score against Alabama’s defense. Since that’s not possible, I don’t see my alma mater scoring much, if at all.

LSU fans like to consider Alabama its biggest rival.

WRONG.

It’s only a rivalry if both teams hate each other equally. Not the case for Alabama, which will hate Auburn much more until the end of time. And for many Tide fans, Tennessee is a bigger rival than LSU.

LSU-Ole Miss? The last time both teams were in serious national championship contention at the same time was 1959, the year Billy Cannon returned a Rebel punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left, then helped stop Ole Miss quarterback Doug Elmore at the LSU 1 in the waning moments to preserve a 7-3 win.

Ole Miss’ rivalry with Mississippi State (the Egg Bowl) has far more significance for the Rebels than it once did, largely because the Bulldogs are now the alpha team in the Magnolia State. Without much talent in the state to go around, Ole Miss and State have to battle tooth and nail for every prospect, and that’s not even mentioning Alabama, which is only 95 miles from Starkville, plus LSU and Arkansas, whose states border Mississippi.

Arkansas? The Razorbacks baited the line. LSU refused to bite.

Florida? Never. The Gators already have Florida State and Georgia. And I’m certain there is plenty of hatred in Gainesville for Miami, even if the teams haven’t played much in the last 30 years.

LSU, your rival is Texas A&M. Sure, Aggie fans hate the Longhorns more than they could ever hate the Bayou Bengals,

I don’t know how much I’m watching tonight. I’ve braced myself for the worst. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m right, the world will still be spinning on its axis tomorrow morning.

F**K ALABAMA

So far, 2017 has been horrendous for me. Not very good. 

The only higlight was the trip to Norton last Tuesday. Then I came down with a cold and it forced me to wuss out of going to Stockton Friday. Sure, it snowed Thursday and was very cold, plus the side streets were all completely snowpacked, but why the hell did I stay home? That was pretty lame of me. 

I took NyQuil for my cold Thursday night and Friday night. HUGE MISTAKE. Made me sleep way too much. Then I used it as an excuse not to go to Stockton Friday. I don’t blame anyone at Norton for wanting to kick me in the nuts right now. They ought to. Staying home was pretty pitiful on my part. 

I’m feeling horrible in other ways. I’ve spent too much freaking time at home, watching too much bad TV. I’ve had enough football to last five years. Tonight is the national championship game for college football–Alabama vs. Clemson AGAIN–but I don’t think I’m going to watch. I’ve had enough of that fuckwad Nick Saban. What a real fucking asshole. I cannot stand that piece of shit. He enjoys treating people like garabage. FUCK HIM. Fuck Nick Saban and everything about Alabama football. In fact, fuck the entire state of Alabama. Everything about Alabama is shit. I fucking hate that place. I especially hate Tuscaloosa. Go too far from Tuscaloosa and it’s nothing but shit and piss. 

Tuscaloosa would be shit and piss too if it didn’t have the university there. Why in the fuck do people from other states want to go to college in Tuscaloosa? What, they like eating horrible barbecue? The SEC has some horrible locales. Tuscaloosa is at the very bottom, with Gainesville and Oxford right there. 

Yeah Bear Bryant was known to punch people in the nose, but at least he didn’t treat the media like shit the way Saban does. Saban is a complete shithead. But nobody should be surprised he’s a shithead, because his best friend Bill Belichick is a gigantic shithead. 

I wish Saban, Belichick and Gregg Popovich would be locked together in a tiny cell and forced to answer question after question for their freedom. Three assholes. Three shitheads. Three cunts I would not want to be caught dead with. 

I need to buy an Alabama state flag. I will start using it as a handkerchief to blow my nose. 

The calendar flipped. YAHOO!

2017 is here whether we like it or not.

I went to bed later than I should have last night, but when the clock struck midnight, I was finally asleep. The TV was on, but no way I was tuning it to ABC. I never watched Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve when he hosted, and I will never, ever watch Ryan Seacrest. Lucy Hale is gorgeous, but I’d prefer to watch her act, not host a New Year’s Eve party from New Orleans’ Jackson Square, which she did last night.

The most morose celebrations probably occurred in Columbus.

That’s because Ohio State was crushed 31-0 by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. It marked the first time an Urban Meyer-coached team was shut out. That includes his stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, in addition to his five seasons with the Buckeyes. Ohio State had not been shut out since its 1993 regular season finale at Michigan.

The #3 seeds in the College Football Playoff–Florida State (2014), Michigan State (2015) and Ohio State–have been outscored 128-20. All of the 20 came by the Seminoles in the Rose Bowl vs. Oregon.

The semifinals of the CFP have been tremendously non-competitive. Only one of six has been decided by fewer than 17 points. Three have had margins of 31 points or more. Yikes.

Alabama’s 24-7 victory over Washington in the Peach Bowl was not as close as the final score. The Huskies scored on their first possession, but did absolutely nothing after. I don’t care if Washington could have brought back Warren Moon and Napoleon Kauffman in their primes. The Huskies weren’t scoring more than seven points against the Crimson Tide defense.

In 1961, Alabama’s first national championship season of six under Paul “Bear” Bryant, the Crimson Tide allowed just 25 points in 11 games. Imagine if this year’s Crimson Tide defense played in that era. Alabama may have gone unscored upon. Then again, players had to play both ways n the early 1960s, so you can’t compare peaches to pears.

So it’s Alabama and Clemson for all the marbles. Again. The Tide is a 7-point favorite right now, but that line should change. The Tigers are looking to avenge a 45-40 loss in last year’s championship game. They may have the team to do it, even though Pitt won at Clemson in November, nearly derailing the Tigers’ title hopes.

It would be fascinating to see Nick Saban coaching in the era of limited substitution. How would he handle his best athletes? Would Jonathan Allen be able to survive the strain of playing both ways? Or would others in the past, like Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower, and A’Shaun Robinson? Bear Bryant mastered the transition from limited substitution to unlimited subs. Then again, if you had limited substitution and limited scholarships, some of the best players would have to play at Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU or Tennessee instead of Alabama, unless they wanted to walk on and ride the bench for the Tide.

Today is the final day of the NFL regular season. Jeff Fisher was fired in Los Angeles earlier this month. Rex Ryan was fired in Buffalo last Tuesday. Chip Kelly will be canned in San Francisco. Gary Kubiak is resigning in Denver due to health concerns. Who else will lose their job? Will Sean Payton leave New Orleans? Questions will be answered within the next 36 hours.

I spent a very long day at Buffalo Wild Wings to end 2016. Started at 10 a.m. due to the Citrus Bowl. Stayed until 8:30. I’m back at 11 today. No wings. I’ve got to eat healthier.

 

Feeling stronger (apologies to Chicago the band)

I was in no mood to post for most of the previous week. Thankfully I am this morning. Time and a change of scenery helped.

I’m in another hotel in Kansas City, this time in Clay County. The hotel is on the dividing line between Kansas City proper and Liberty, the largest suburb of KC in Missouri. It’s about 20 minutes to Zona Rosa, not bad, especially at night, when the traffic is lighter. It’s not as far as Overland Park, but nowhere near as close as the hotels on I-29 in Platte County.

Last Saturday and Sunday, I was an angry person. Very angry. And not for a good reason.

Alabama beat LSU 10-0 last Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals held the Crimson Tide scoreless for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, LSU’s exhausted defense finally gave way, yielding a 21-yard touchdown run to Jalen Hurts and then a field goal. LSU gained just 125 yards against Alabama’s defense, which may be better than half the defenses in the NFL, and were shut out at home for the first time in 14 years.

I was pissed. REALLY PISSED. I tweeted and posted on Facebook that (a) LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron should be fired, (b) Alabama was a horrible place and (c) losing 10-0 was much, much, much worse than Nebraska losing 62-3 to Ohio State.

None of the above was really true.

First, Orgeron can’t do anything right now. He’s playing the hand dealt him by Les Miles, who was fired Sept. 25 after LSU lost to Auburn. Who knows, maybe he could remake the offense with a recruiting class under his belt and a full season to work with the team as head coach. Orgeron wanted so badly to end LSU’s drought vs. Alabama. He was pretty emotional all night. I could tell it mattered a great deal to him.

Second, I can’t generalize all of Alabama just because I don’t care for one of the state’s flagship universities. I’ve enjoyed my time in Hoover for the SEC Baseball Tournament, and I’m sure Huntsville is a great place to visit, especially the Marshall Space Center.

Third, LSU gave it all they had. But it’s hard to defeat the top-ranked team when your offense just doesn’t have the talent to compete with the best defense in college football, designed by the best coach in the game today, Nick Saban.

I was still very upset Sunday and Monday morning. I got so despondent Monday I called and made an appointment with Dr. Custer. She had an opening that afternoon. I told her my blood pressure was running way high, my blood sugars were sky high, and my bowels were obstructed.

Only the last one was true, and not entirely.

Later that evening, I met Peggy at Walmart in Hays. I’m not a Walmart fan, but I agreed to help her shop. She was there not only to shop for her family, but for the student council at Norton Junior High, where she teaches. She stopped at Walmart on her way to Plainville for  a Mid-Continent League meeting. It was out of her way, but it was easier than driving the other way to Colby, or north to Lexington, Nebraska.

I did not watch election returns Tuesday evening. It wasn’t until 7 a.m. Wednesday I found out Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States. I certainly did not comment on social media like I did in 2012, when I made a complete imbecile of myself with lots of cursing and hatred.

I left for Kansas City at noon yesterday. No stops, not even for the restroom. I was at the hotel by 3:35. Pretty good, considering I had to go into downtown KCMO and then drive north on I-35 for 17 miles.

Buffalo Wild Wings went well. I saw Tori and Dana behind the bar, and played good trivia. Hopefully Robb and Dawn will be back soon. They took the election very hard.

Time to leave. Got a few errands to run before heading west.

 

 

Wall-to-wall football, day two

I saw plenty of football yesterday, especially from 11 am until 8:30 pm, the time I spent at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I had enough when Alabama started beating the stuffing out of Arkansas. The Crimson Tife won (again) 49-30, and if they lose in 2016, it will be a miracle. Who can beat them? I don’t think Tennessee can. I don’t think Texas A&M can. Not LSU. And certainly not Mississippi State or Auburn. Why bother watching the rest of the college football season? We know who will win the championship game January 9 in Tampa. 

Today it’s more football, this time NFL-style. The Chiefs are off, so Buffalo Wild Wings might not be as crowded, but it should pick up later when the Broncos play the Falcons. The night game is Giants-Packers in Green Bay. The Cardinals played and won Thursday at Santa Clara vs. the 49ers, so there’s no stress today. 

Hopefully Robb and Dawn show up. It’s the main reason I come to Kansas City now. I still know a few Buffalo Wild Wings employees–Morgan, Molly, Ethan, Sekou, Arlene and Megan, plus the mangers–but Liz, Lisa, Jaclyn, Shannon, Alex, Stephanie Suggs and Raymie are gone, as well as both Brittanys. 

I’m probably not staying as late this evening, but I could. I’ve got a lot of work done for Osborne, and what’s left I can knock out quickly. 

I still want to drive to Columbia at some point to get the thing I can’t get in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Salina, Russell, Hays or anywhere. The only options are going to Nebraska one day, or maybe they have it in Colorado. I need to get to Colorado, anyway, to see Liz, whom I have not seen since July 2015. She’s not happy about that, and neither am I.

Norton’s volleyball team went 2-3 in Scott City yesterday. Peggy and Caitlyn were not happy about having to play five matches in a single day. Three of those went the full three sets. 

There is a provision in the National Federation rules which allow matches to be modified, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association refuses to do so. In Louisiana, the third set of regular season tournaments is only played to 15. I didn’t think it was allowable, but I discovered last night in reading the rules it is. 

Also, the KSHSAA doesn’t allow two-day tournaments, except for leagues which have nine or more teams. In Louisiana, I never saw a team play more than four matches in one day, and there were lots of two-day tournaments. When Brenda was coaching St. Joseph’s Academy, the Redstickers played in FOUR two-day events, and the JV played in one in Hammond for a few years. 

The Mid-Continent League tournament went to two days in 2014, when Trego returned afte a one-year hiatus and Oakley and TMP joined, giving the league 10 teams. Instead of two play-in matches, the format which was used from 1978 through 2004, the principals and athletic directors took the advice of the volleyball coaches and went to two five-team pools. Teams play two pool matches Thursday and two Saturday morning before cutting down to four.

Tom Brady is back today. The Cleveland Browns are in big trouble if they weren’t already. 

Sparty washed away

Alabama and Michigan State each won a share of the 1965 college football national championship. The Spartans were number one in the final United Press International coaches poll, released following the end of the regular season, which was fortunate, since they lost the Rose Bowl to UCLA. The Crimson Tide won the title from the Associated Press, which took a poll following the bowl games. Alabama vaulted from No. 4 to No. 1 after No.2 Arkansas lost the Cotton Bowl to LSU, Michigan State lost to UCLA, and Alabama beat No. 3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

Half a century later, the schools met in the Cotton Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

Somewhere in the heavens, Bear Bryant was grinning from ear to ear. Duffy Daugherty was crying in his Guinness. And maybe, just maybe, Frank Howard has a line to Dabo Swinney, because Dabo is going to need all the help he can get in the next 11 days.

Alabama crushed Michigan State 38-0, with Crimson Tide quaterback Jake Coker completing 25 of 31 passes for 286 yards. Calvin Ridley, who has stepped into the No. 1 receiver role vacated by Amari Cooper, now starting for the Oakland Raiders, caught eight passes for 136 yards and both touchdowns.

The only solace the Spartans can take away is they limited Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry to 75 yards on 20 carries. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, given Coker’s big night and the lack of offense produced by Connor Cook and his mates.

Michigan State has come a long way under Mark Dantonio. The bad news is it will have a devil of a time remaining amongst the elite of college football, as the Spartans play in the brutal Big Ten East, where Ohio State and Michigan have usually dominated.

Alabama now faces Clemson for the championship January 11 in Arizona at the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium. The Tigers earned their berth in the final with a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Swinney was a receiver on the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship, and he was an assistant under Gene Stallings and Mike DuBose at his alma mater. It wasn’t that long ago Clemson was almost always on the short list of underachieving teams, but tonight’s victory not only improved the Tigers to 14-0, but it showed once and for all Clemson can win and win big when the chips are down.

Clemson will be playing for its first national championship since 1981, when Swinney was 12 years old and most of the parents of the current players were in elementary school. Alabama will be in its fourth national championship game since 2009, and Saban will be coaching for his fifth championship, three at Alabama and one in 2003 at LSU. If experience matters, then it should be no contest. However, Clemson really has nothing to lose, even if it is 14-0. Nobody outside of South Carolina (save Gamecock fans) is going to give the Tigers much of a chance.

It will be 2016 in 15 minutes in Tuscaloosa, Dallas and everywhere else in the Central Time Zone. Whoopee.

Sunday rewind

It turned out the drive from Russell to Dodge City yesterday was more than twice as long as the football game in Minneola lasted.

Victoria wasted no time in putting away the home team. The Knights scored 28 points in the first quarter and kept pouring it on in the second, crushing the Wildcats 64-12. The game was terminated at halftime by the 45-point mercy rule, which applies to most 8-man games in Kansas. Under the “slaughter rule”, a game ends immediately at halftime or any point in the second half when one team gains a lead of 45 points or more. The 11-man playoffs, except for championship games,

Knights quarterback Brady Dinkel was 5 of 7 for 146 yards. All five of those completions were for touchdowns, and none of them were gimmes, either: they covered 42, 15, 31, 39 and 19 yards. Dinkel also had two touchdown runs, the first a 47-yard scamper just 2:03 into the game. Victoria’s defense also scored twice, a fumble return of 25 yards by Eric McAlonan in the first quarter and a 55-yard interception return by Noah Dreilling with 37 seconds left which made sure the game would end by the mercy rule.

Victoria now hosts Wallace County (11-0) from Sharon Springs in the semifinals Friday. Someone else will have to cover, since I’m already committed to going to Phillipsburg at Oakley.

LSU lost in overtime last night to Alabama. The Tigers took a 13-10 lead with under two minutes to go on a field goal, but the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, allowing the Crimson Tide to start from its own 35. Indeed, Alabama drove down and kicked a field goal to tie the game. The Tide got the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown. LSU could not, and once again, the Bayou Bengals came up short against their former coach, Nick Saban.

Taking today to relax and catch up on work in Dodge City. Back to Russell tomorrow. And then the cold front comes in, and it will be brutally cold come Friday night.