Blog Archives

LSU completes its mission

The lights were out in the basement at 1224 North Brooks at 20:10 last night. The CPAP mask was on, and I was going to try to get as much sleep as possible.

I woke up at 00:48, went back to bed, then was up for good at 03:50.

I waited a few minutes before venturing to The Advocate website.

The header screamed “THIS IS FOR ALL OF US”.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out LSU defeated Clemson to become the 2019 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision national champion.

The Bayou Bengals fell behind the Tigers from South Carolina 17-7 early in the second quarter, the first time LSU has trailed by more than seven points since losing 29-0 to Alabama in November 2018.

I felt 95 percent sure LSU would not lead wire-to-wire, as it did against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl and Georgia in the SEC championship game. I figured Dabo’s boys would build a two-score lead at some point, which it did.

By halftime, the tenor of the game changed 180 degrees.

LSU scored three touchdowns to turn that 17-7 deficit into a 28-17 lead.

Clemson scored early in the third quarter and added the conversion to make it 28-25, but Trevor Lawrence and his team did not score again.

Final: LSU 42, Clemson 25. The Bayou Bengals joined the 2018 Clemson Tigers as the only college football teams to finish 15-0 since 1900. The others to win 15 (or 16) without a loss played in the 1890s, before the NCAA was founded.

Ed Orgeron proclaimed his 2019 team the “best ever”.

He has many great points.

LSU, which was ranked #6 in the Associated Press preseason poll, defeated the teams ranked #1 (Clemson), #2 (Alabama), #3 (Georgia) and #4 (Oklahoma) in that poll. That never happened until 2019.

LSU defeated seven top-10 teams: the four aforementioned teams, plus Texas, Florida and Auburn.

Joe Burrow had a season for the ages, throwing 60 touchdown passes (yes, he did so in 15 games, but four TD passes per game is incredible), finishing with 467 yards and five TDs against Clemson.

Burrow is headed to Cincinnati barring something cataclysmic. The Bengals would be asinine not to pick him first overall in the upcoming NFL draft.

LSU fans got a dose of bad news late this afternoon when it was announced Joe Brady, the 31-year old wunderkind who came to Baton Rouge and installed the high-powered passing attack Bayou Bengal fans could only have dreamed about prior 2019, would be going back to the NFL as offensive coordinator for Matt Rhule and the Panthers.

The worry is without Brady, Orgeron and Steve Ensminger will resort to the prehistoric offense which hastened Les Miles’ demise. I don’t think it will happen, but Orgeron needs to move swiftly and decisively to fill this hole.

Coaching turnover is an inevitable part of football. However, Brady is going to the NFL, not to another SEC school. The bad news is he’ll be facing the Saints twice a year.

Many fans would have been mighty disappointed had LSU lost last night, but many might not have been. The Bayou Bengals defeated Alabama two months ago to end an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide, and Nick Saban was sitting next to Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit all night in a suit and tie, which meant he wasn’t on the sideline coaching Alabama.

With that in mind, I hope LSU fans who are 25 and under are grateful for the success the Bayou Bengals have enjoyed since 2000.

LSU’s WORST record since 2000 is 8-5, which occurred in 2008, one year after LSU defeated Ohio State for the BCS national championship.

I’m old enough to remember LSU suffering through six consecutive losing seasons from 1989-94. Two words: CURLEY HALLMAN.

Hallman, who only got the LSU job because Brett Favre was his quarterback at Southern Miss–gifted to him by Jim Carmody–and Joe Dean was too freaking cheap to hire anyone better. Dean got bamboozled by Hallman’s record as a drill sergeant and he was an assistant on national championship teams at Alabama (1973) and Clemson (1981).

Too bad Hallman put together a mostly incompetent staff, save for Phil Bennett. He didn’t recruit all that poorly, because Gerry DiNardo came in and took LSU to three consecutive low-level bowl games from 1995-97.

I’ll never forget just how excited LSU fans were over a 6-4-1 regular season in 1995 which sent the Bayou Bengals to the Independence Bowl to face Michigan State When LSU defeated Nick Saban’s Spartans 45-26, LSU fans reacted like they were well on their way to a national championship.

Yes, there was a national championship coach in the house in Shreveport on 29 December. Only he was wearing green, not purple.

LSU went 10-2 in 1996 and won the Peach Bowl. It was one of the worst 10-2 teams I’ve seen. The Bayou Bengals played a pillow soft schedule, and in the two biggest games, they were routed 56-13 by eventual national champion Florida and 26-0 by Alabama when Shaun Alexander rushed for 291 yards.

Then came the most overrated win in LSU athletic history, the 1997 game vs. then-No. 1 Florida, which it promptly pissed away a week later by losing to Ole Miss.

With mostly his own players, DiNardo had two horrible years in 1998 and ’99, which was a blessing in disguise, because it forced LSU to open its wallets to pay for a quality coach. That quality coach was Nick Saban, a choice which angered many fans who considered him a “Yankee” from Michigan State.

Saban went 48-16 in five seasons in Baton Rouge. Les Miles followed and went 114-34 over the next 11-plus campaigns, combining for 25 more wins than Charles McClendon had in 18 seasons (137-59-7).

It wasn’t all wine and roses for Orgeron, either. LSU fans were up in arms after losses to Alabama and Florida in November 2016, and many hoped Tom Herman would leave Houston to come to Baton Rouge. When it was announced Orgeron would get the job full time two days after LSU defeated Texas A&M to close the 2016 regular season, a collective groan could be heard from Shreveport to Port Sulphur, from Lake Providence to Cameron, and many points in between.

Orgeron’s seat heated up again when LSU lost at home to Troy in 2017, and again when Alabama came to Baton Rouge in 2018 and laid the 29-0 beatdown on the Bayou Bengals.

Today, no coach in college athletics is more beloved by his or her fan base than Ed Orgeron. More so than Nick Saban, Coach K, Bill Self, Geno Auriemma, and Dabo.

Part of me wishes I were in Louisiana to experience the season. The other part says I’m better off from a distance. Regardless, it’s history. Time to let the pros take it from here.

Tuning out the Tigers

You would think I would be watching LSU and Clemson play for college football’s national championship (at least for the highest level).

I’m not.

I am so convinced Clemson will win I am not watching.

The game kicked off at 19:15. I am self-censoring. The TV is off. I have set my devices to do not disturb. I am not checking any sports sites. I think I’ll go to bed really early, considering I rose at 05:00 and have a lot of work to get done tomorrow morning.

The last time I self-censored was the night of the 2016 presidential election. I watched some crap on LMN, then went to bed early. I had no earthly clue who had won what state.

I went to bed convinced Hillary would win, just as almost every major media outlet predicted.

It wasn’t until I came upstairs, where my mother had the TV tuned to Today, when I learned Trump won.

When LSU played Alabama for the BCS national championship in January 2012, I didn’t watch the game, but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. It was there I learned just how badly LSU was getting its ass kicked by Alabama. Of course, a few jerks had to rub it in.

This season, I purposely did not watch most of the first half in LSU’s game at Alabama and the Peach Bowl vs. Oklahoma. I didn’t see a score until I came upstairs, because my mother was watching. In each of those games, the Bayou Bengals built up a big enough lead, making it okay to watch. Not tonight. It won’t be that easy vs. Clemson.

Tonight, no social media, Nothing. If I want to watch the game, I can watch a replay on ESPN+. Something tells me those wearing orange are going to be much happier tonight than those wearing purple and gold.

More sports woe in Houston.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season for their roles in Houston’s sign stealing throughout the 2017 postseason, which ended with the Astros defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

Houston was also fined $5 million, believed to be a record for a major sports league due to an on-field incident. Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t have the guts to fine the Patriots that much.

Astros owner Jim Crane went one step farther than Manfred, immediately firing Luhnow and Hinch. Houston has a huge hole in the rotation now that Gerrit Cole is in the Bronx, but it still has many strong pieces in Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Corriea and George Springer. The question is who will manage them, and who will step into this mess?

I didn’t mention the Oilers blowing the 35-3 lead in Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, but I figured you knew about that already. It has been repeated ad nausem following the Texans’ collapse yesterday in Kansas City.

On the other hand, Chiefs fans are convinced more than ever the Super Bowl is their destiny. Mahomes is God. The Titans might as well stay in Nashville. Bring on the 49ers or Packers.

Before the season, a Kansas City Star online poll asked “What would it take for you to consider the Chiefs season a success?”. I don’t remember the exact split, but at least 80 percent said either “get to the Super Bowl” or “win the Super Bowl”. If the Titans win Sunday, mental health professionals will be in high demand in the so-called “Chiefs Kingdom”.

Good night, blogosphere. Hopefully I’m waking up to good news in a few hours…but I have my doubts.

Two days late. What’s new, pussycat? (Other than the year)

So much for posting every day in 2019. I was extremely lazy the past two days. Actually, the past three. Too little sleep. Too much junk food. I’m still not feeling up to speed.

The last two weeks of 2018 had enough trouble for two months. Let’s hope that doesn’t repeat in 2019.

Of course, there was the fiasco with the person who didn’t appreciate my wishes for a Merry Christmas. I’ve tried to forget about it, or at least not bring it up until I see Crista again, which happens to be at 0900 tomorrow.

After 7 1/2 years and 236,000 miles, my Chevrolet gave out. It didn’t leave me stranded, but it gave me enough difficult to convince my father to transfer the title on my grandfather’s Buick LeSabre to me.

It had been planned for years. My grandfather’s vision has continuously deteriorated over the past 25 years, and now it is to the point where he cannot see well enough to drive. The Kansas Department of Revenue, which is in charge of processing driver’s licenses, told him his vision was not good enough to keep him on the road. He had been banned from night driving since 2010 and restricted to the city limits of Russell since 2012, but now, he can’t drive, period.

My grandfather’s female companion, Betty, had been driving the Buick, but sadly, she passed away from cancer in October. As soon as that occurred, my father began keeping the Buick at my grandfather’s old shop on East 12th Street.

I was driving to Salina last Friday in the Chevrolet, but when I got to the Wilson exit on Interstate 70, the engine all of a sudden began to power down. There was a message that my traction control system had failed, and that the car needed to reduce power to the engine.

I turned the car off and back on at the Sylvan Grove exit, but still the engine power was down. I drove for 10 miles westbound at 45 to 50 miles per hour (70-80 km/h) and it was scary. I was unhappy I was slowing the flow of traffic, but what else could I do? Finally, I pulled off again at Dorrance, let the car sit for a couple of minutes, and while the service engine light was still on, the engine was back to full power and I drove back to Russell.

That afternoon, my father and I got the paperwork done to transfer the Buick to me. It’s a 2004 LeSabre Limited, with leather interior, heated seats, satellite radio and most of the same accoutrements the Chevrolet has. This is the first car I’ve had since the Oldsmobile without a spoiler on the trunk, and the first since the Oldsmobile where the shifter is on the column and not the floor. Oh well.

As it turned out, I accidentally threw my iPod in the trash when I cleaned out the Chevrolet. I frantically looked for it through all the stuff I took out, but no luck. I have a new one on reserve at the Apple store in Leawood I’ll pick up tomorrow. At least all of my music is secure on my iCloud and computer.

The Buick is so ancient it has a cassette deck. However, it has no plug-in for the cable to go from the iPod to the radio like the Chevrolet did. Fortunately, there is a cassette adapter which will allow sound to come through the iPod to the car speakers. If that weren’t available, I would have had to get a new radio.

My new iPad arrived 24 hours ago. It’s fancy. Huge screen, great video and sound. I was able to give my old one to my parents so they can stream Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

I left the house at 0830 because there was a plumber working on the sink in our kitchen. Stopped at SportClips to see Amber, drove to Wichita to go to the bank, then rocketed back up I-135 to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings for trivia, which I haven’t done since August. Leaving at 2030 because I have the appointment with Crista.

Alabama and Clemson are playing for college football’s national championship Monday. Again. Third time in the last four seasons. It will be that way until either Nick Saban retires, which will leave another school to fill the vacuum. Clemson, meanwhile, should be there for at least another 20 years, because Dabo Swinney is much younger and is having too much fun.

I’m happy LSU beat Central Florida. I am beyond fed up about UCF bragging about its long winning streak, the American Athletic Conference whining about how it should be treated as a power conference when it clearly is not, Danny White (UCF’s athletic director, not the former Cowboys quarterback) bitching about how power schools won’t play him in Orlando….blah blah blah. ENOUGH.

Why should Florida give up a home game in its 92,000-seat stadium to play UCF in its 44,000-seat facility in Orlando? The Gators were offering a 2-for-1 with the Knights, which I think is quite generous. South Florida accepted the offer. Yet UCF thinks one undefeated season gives it the right to make demands when writing contracts. Okay then.

In his early years at Florida State, Bobby Bowden played six or seven road games consistently until the mid-1980s, exposing the Seminoles to numerous hostile environments, using the large paychecks FSU received for playing at LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan. The only schools the Seminoles played home and home in those days were Florida and Miami.

UCF, meanwhile, has its feelings hurt because Florida doesn’t feel like giving up millions in revenue in the name of fairness. Schools are not in the business of losing money. Florida has every right to tell UCF to take its offer or leave it.

I did not follow through on my vow to not watch college football. However, I’m not sad the season ends Monday. I can do without hearing about Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide for a few months.

Nobody in Kansas has been paying attention to college football anyway. It’s all about basketball. Yippee.

I scored a perfect 15,000 in my first trivia game of 2019. It’s not an omen. But imagine if it were.

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.

 

Football needs to trump politics

I am tired of seeing the negativity about the presidential election. I can’t take it anymore. I participated four years ago, and it was a huge mistake.

There was a huge anti-Trump rally yesterday in downtown Kansas City. My dear friends Robb and Dawn Amos attended. I know they’re down about the election, way down. They’re supposed to come to Buffalo Wild Wings today, first time I’ve seen them since the election. I hope they’ll be in a better mood. I will try not to bring up the election.

The protest in Kansas City was peaceful. However, that hasn’t been the case everywhere. I was horrified to learn of defacing of monuments with hate speech in New Orleans. My hometown embarrassing itself yet again.

I’m conservative, but I was not a fan of Trump. He is a crude, boorish man. I know Tiffany Trump, Donald’s daughter with Marla Maples,  was born on my 17th birthday, but that’s just a coincidence.

Life is going to go on. Nothing will change until Trump is inaugurated January 20.

Thank God for football!

The second, third and fourth teams in the Nov. 8 College Football Playoff committee rankings lost yesterday. Two of them, #2 Clemson and #4 Washington, fell at home. #3 Michigan lost in Iowa City to the Hawkeyes, which would not have been shocking last year, but given Iowa’s struggles this year and the way the Wolverines had been poleaxing opponents throughout 2016, it was.

Clemson had been darn lucky to be 9-0. The Tigers should have lost earlier this season at home to North Carolina State, but the Wolfpack kicker missed a gimme field goal at the end of regulation, allowing Clemson to escape in OT. The Tigers won a tough won from Louisville. And if Clemson’s season opener at Auburn occurred one month later, the Tigers from the SEC, not the ones from the ACC, might have emerged victorious.

Washington? Come on. The Pac-12 isn’t that strong this season. Stanford has fallen quite a bit. Oregon has collapsed. Arizona stinks. It says something when the two newest members, Colorado and Utah, are fighting for the South division, and Washington State, which lost to Eastern Washington in its season opener, now leads the North.

The Huskies’ non-conference schedule was a joke. Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State? Bill Snyder, the permanent king of cupcake scheduling, was probably envious. Tom Osborne would have been proud of that slate. Nick Saban has it right: it is high time teams in the Power 5 conferences stop playing these punching bags. I am well aware the punching bags want a big paycheck to help fill their athletic coffers, but wouldn’t those schools save money by playing more games closer to home?

Give USC credit. The Trojans could have waved the white flag after early season losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah, but Clay Helton has revived Toy and will have USC in the Rose Bowl soon, if not this season. Fitting the win was in Seattle, where the man who led the Trojans to so much glory earlier this millennium, Pete Carroll, now coaches the Seahawks. Carroll probably was upset his team had to play at New England this weekend. He would have no doubt loved to have been watching the Trojans at Husky Stadium.

Michigan has always had trouble at Kinnick Stadium. In 1985, the Wolverines were #2, but lost 12-10 to the then-#1 Hawkeyes on the rain-slicked AstroTurf of Kinnick. Legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry had the visiting locker room painted pink in an attempt to channel the aggression out of the visiting team, but Michigan’s equipment staff plastered over the pink walls with maize and blue posters. Nice idea. Too bad for the Wolverines it didn’t work.

Yesterday marked the first time since October 19, 1985, that the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams all lost on the same day.

As was the case then, Iowa beat Michigan in Iowa City, and two other teams lost at home. Then it was Oklahoma (to Miami) and Arkansas (to Texas). The Sooners bounced back and won the national championship by defeating Penn State in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma also had a big assist from Tennessee, which beat Miami in the Sugar Bowl. The Hurricanes were a huge favorite over the Volunteers, largely based upon Miami’s 58-7 destruction of Notre Dame in its regular season finale, the final game of Gerry Faust’s coaching career. Faust had announced his resignation earlier that week following Notre Dame’s 10-7 loss to LSU in South Bend the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

I’m about to get on the road to Zona Rosa. I’ll be there at 11 when it opens, ready for the NFL.

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.