The last 12 hours of my 43rd year got off to a sour start.
Following my fourth marathon day at Buffalo Wild Wings, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside to fuel the Buick so I wouldn’t have to do it tomorrow.
When I arrived, I noticed a white GMC Yukon sitting in front of pump #4 with the pump in the tank. He was blocking one of the four non-ethanol pumps, and of course, I wanted non-ethanol.
After three or four minutes in the store, I pulled out of the lot in front of the store. Yet all the non-ethanol pumps were not available: the Yukon was still there, one was blocked by a guy fixing his car, another was blocked by a car not getting non-ethanol, and another was in use by someone actually buying non-ethanol.
I waited for three minutes for the Yukon. Nothing.
I finally had to go in and ask the clerks at the cash register to see if the Yukon owner was in the store. Sure enough he was. He told me he would move it. He looked pissed off.
First, it is absolutely RUDE to block a gas pump when you’re done. Move on.
Second, it is even more RUDE to block a pump which has non-ethanol or diesel. EVERY pump–20 of them in this case–has the three standard grades of 10% ethanol gas. And while it was busy, there were eight pumps open for the regular gas.
Third, why the hell do people leave their vehicle in front of the pump when they want to go shop in the store? That’s stupid. Why not pull the car to the front of the store so you don’t have as long to walk?
I am to the point where I might just have to take a trip to Tulsa and chew out the bigwigs at QuikTrip. No, I won’t make a special trip–although I could go for Whataburger–but I will send an angry letter. No cursing, no threats, but just my absolute disappointment at the lack of courtesy.
It was a great day at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Theresa stopped by for an hour. Theresa brought me some of her homemade sausage to take back to Russell.
Yet I’m ready to get back to Russell. Got a lot of work to do between now and Wednesday at noon.
I left B-Dubs upset last night. I was hoping Peggy would stop in Kansas City on her way from Des Moines to Paola. She was in Iowa yesterday to watch Caitlyn play, and she was heading to Courtney and Andy’s home to stay before going to Wichita today for the Ottawa-Friends match. I asked her to consider stopping on her way down I-35, but I never heard from her.
When I left B-Dubs, I made a beeline straight for Overland Park and Cheesecake Factory. I got two slices of cheesecake (tiramisu and Godiva–delicious) and a strip steak. The steak was overcooked and thin, so that taught me a lesson–stick to Cheesecake. I would have been better off making a second stop at Outback on the other side of I-435. Oh well.
I felt very guilty that I didn’t go to Wichita and to Ottawa, where Caitlyn was a member of the homecoming court. I was much harder on myself than they were on me. St. Louis bought a lot of goodwill.
Georgia choked today. The third-ranked Bulldogs gagged to a mediocre South Carolina team 20-17 in double overtime in Athens.
I won’t go into how much I hate overtime in college and high school football. If you’ve read the blog you know my stance.
If anyone in the SEC was going to beat Georgia, South Carolina is the LAST team I wanted doing it.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp revealed himself as a gigantic douchebag last year when he vigorously defended then-Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who helped kill Terrapins offensive tackle Jordan McNair with his gross negligence. Muschamp fired back at anyone who dared speak ill of Durkin and called those who did “soft”.
I never liked Muschamp when he coached Florida, although he dragged the Gators into the abyss, so that was good for LSU. The defense of Durkin sealed it.
Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Kirk Ferentz are four coaches I would never, EVER want any male relative of mine to play for. Nick Saban is a more complicated matter, one I don’t have time to delve into right now, considering its after 2300 and I want to be back in Russell in 12 hours.
LSU didn’t choke, although the Bayou Bengals had me way too nervous. They traded blows with Florida for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth to a 42-28 victory in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals will be fourth or fifth in the polls tomorrow, depending on where Oklahoma is slotted following its 34-27 victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State will be the top three.
Honestly, why do we need polls before the end of October? Most of the early polls are based upon reputation and nothing more. Same with college basketball, where Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are automatically ranked in the preseason no matter what.
Missouri beat Ole M(P)iss 38-27. Good. As much as I can’t stand Florida, I totally depise the plantation in Oxford. I wish there would have been more allegations against Hugh Freeze which would have given the SEC reason to expel the Rebels.
Washington won AGAIN in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals take a 2-0 lead back to the banks of the Potomac. The Cardinals had better find an offense NOW or else there will not be another game at Busch Stadium III until April.
The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 in the first game of the ALCS at Houston. I can see it now….all the east coast media slobbering over the prospect of commuting up and down I-95. People in Philadelphia might not be so excited about the idea.
It wasn’t a good day for Larry. The Cardinals lost again, and the Blues got hammered 6-3 in Montreal. At least Mizzou prevented it from being a total disaster.
Louisiana’s governor’s election is going to a second round. Incumbent John Bel Edwards failed to reach the necessary 50 percent plus one vote to win in the primary. He will now face Eddie Rispone in a runoff.
Rispone is a carbon copy of former governor Mike Foster–an rich old white man financing his own campaign. Foster didn’t do squat in two terms. He was more concerned about hunting and riding his motorcycles.
Louisiana was a total mess under Edwards’ predecessor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. Jindal cut state services and higher education to bare bones and the state swam in red ink deeper than the Mississippi River running through Baton Rouge. Jindal neglected the Bayou State to prepare his presidential campaign, which bombed spectacularly thank God.
Edwards–no relation to former four-term governor Edwin Washington Edwards–has put Louisiana back on solid financial footing. Of course, too many sycophant voters see a “D” next to Edwards name an automatically think he’s evil.
Rispone ran disgusting attack ads against both Edwards and Republican U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, who finished third. I am so glad I’m not in Louisiana to see this crap.
Politics disgusts me. Period. I hate it. I’m sick and freaking tired of the hatred on both sides. Just because someone has an opposite view to yours doesn’t mean he or she is your mortal enemy. The real enemies are in North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and other countries which would destroy the American way of life.
My 43rd year is down to its last 10 hours. By time I reconnect with this blog, I will be into my 44th. Good night.
Acting like garbage
The above photo was taken at Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina last night.
The purpose of the sign is to remind both customers and employees the latest possible birth date to be legally served alcohol.
It reminded me of one of my most embarrassing days, an embarrassment I created for myself and have nobody to blame but myself.
On April 26, 1998, I was in Gainesville for the final game of LSU’s baseball series with Florida. The Bayou Bengals and Gators were the top two teams in the Southeastern Conference, both ranked in the top 10 by all the major polls of college baseball at that time: Collegiate Baseball newspaper, Baseball America magazine, and USA Today, which was the coaches’ poll, the same way it was in football and basketball.
LSU won the first game of the series 13-5, but Florida came back to win game two 4-3. The winner of the “rubber” game would have the inside track to the SEC championship, although both would more than likely host an NCAA regional tournament in late May, barring a total collapse.
I was already a bundle of nerves. We were flying from Gainesville to Atlanta to New Orleans after the game, then taking a bus back to Baton Rouge, meaning we would not be home before 2200, and then the players, managers and myself would be in class the next morning.
The flight from Baton Rouge to Atlanta was my first time in an airplane since 1981. It was a harrowing ride for me. The Delta 727 hit turbluence and I was scared the plane was going to crash. Jeremy Witten, an outfielder for the Bayou Bengals, sat next to me and was doing his best to keep me calm, but to no avail. When the plane landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International, the players and some other passengers cheered. I’m sure those not on the team were glad I would never be in the same plan as them again.
I wanted to beg someone–Bill Franques, Jim Hawthorne, Jim Schwanke, Dan Canevari–to rent a car and drive from Atlanta to Gainesville, five hours on Interstate 75. Then again, I didn’t want to torture them. So I kept my mouth shut and trudged through the terminal to the gate.
The leg from Atlanta to Gainesville was uneventful, even though it was on ATR-72, a turboprop which became infamous when one crashed into a field in northwest Indiana on Halloween 1994 after wings developed on the ice. That crash killed 68 and forced American carriers to remove all of their ATR-72s from anywhere above the 35 degrees north latitude.
Gainesville is not one of my favorite SEC locales. I had nightmares about Gainesville from the infamously horrendous 1985 Disney World trip with my family, since our station wagon blew out a tire there and we were forced to wait three hours for a new one.
McKethan Stadium, Florida’s baseball facility, is near the bottom of my list. The grandstand is completely open, and there are huge picture windows in the press box which open and let in the heat. There is no air conditioning.
Fortunately, the first two games of the series were played at night, but the Sunday game was at 1300 EDT, and it was BROILING. And I had to wear pants, since there would be no time for me to change after the game.
But what was to come was the worst. And I will never live it down.
Late in the game when LSU left runners on base, I kicked a huge garbage can. Bill Franques and Jim Hawthorne were busy in the radio booth and they didn’t see it, but Florida’s publicity man, Steve Shaff, and a few of the Florida writers did.
I should have crawled into a hole. Had I been old enough to rent a car, I would have and driven back to Baton Rouge by myself.
I confessed my transgression. If Bill or someone else wanted to leave me in Gainesville, I would not have contested. I deserved to be deserted. But I got on the plane, and made it back to Baton Rouge without further incident.
That was one of about 384 incidents during my years with LSU baseball I regret. I want to go to the SEC tournament in Birmingham and apologize to all of those I wronged through the years. I am well aware many have moved on, I want to be able to at least look some people in the eye and say I’m sorry.
I returned to Gainesville and McKethan Stadium four years later. I was surprised I was not banned. This time, Bill and I made like Smokey and the Bandit and drove as fast as we could, taking liberties with the speed limit all the way. Bill’s second son, Benjamin, was born only three weeks prior to our departure date (not to mention their first son, William, had not yet turned two), and he did not want to leave Yvette any more than he had to.
The previous week, Bill was delayed at Hartsfield–Jackson trying to get to Knoxville, and it looked like he would miss the first game of the LSU-Tennessee series. However, the game was rained out, so he had a cushion.
Bill and I left Baton Rouge at 0600 CDT the morning of the first game. We were in Gainesville by 1600 EDT, three hours before first pitch. We made the reverse trip from Gainesville to Baton Rouge with similar alacrity, leaving the stadium at 1630 EDT and arriving at my apartment at 0005 CDT. LSU won two of three in that series, so the drive back was much more enjoyable.
I will never see McKethan Stadium again. It will be demolished after the 2020 season, and the Gators will open a palatial new facility in 2021, one where all the grandstand seats are covered. Hopefully LSU lucks out with the schedule rotation and does not have to go to Gainesville next year.
My last flight was April 4, 1999, when the LSU baseball team flew home from Knoxville. There was a slight bit of turbulence on the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans, but nothing like what we hit two weeks prior when flying in a puddle jumper from Memphis to the new Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Cave Springs, somewhere between Bentonville and Fayetteville.
Given security and the lack of leg room, I do NOT want to fly if I can help it. I prefer driving and getting to take as much as can fit in my car. Also, I’d have to drive to either Wichita or Kansas City (UGH!) unless I wanted to fly in a small plane from Hays to Denver to connect. Why bother?
Another NCAA season in the books
The 2017 Division I college baseball season, and the entire 2016-17 NCAA athletic calendar for that matter, ended at 10:26 p.m. Central Daylight Time last night when Florida recorded the final out of its 6-1 victory over LSU in the second game of the College World Series championship series.
The Gators won their first baseball national championship, joining a very select list of schools which have won national championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball.
Only four have done it since the Associated Press began its major college football poll in 1936. Two of the four are Big Ten Conference archrivals Michigan and Ohio State. UCLA, which has one championship each in football and baseball and 11 in men’s basketball, was the third until Florida. Two of UCLA’s Pacific-12 Conference rivals, California and Stanford, each claim national championships, but those were retroactively awarded by math formulas or other polls.
Florida, Michigan and UCLA have also won national championships in softball.
LSU, which won national championships in 1991, ’93, ’96, ’97, 2000 and 2009, came up short for the first time when making the CWS final round. The end of the CWS in the full double-elimination era (1950-87) depended upon how many teams were left after 12 games. The series could end in 14 games if one team went undefeated, or 15 if nobody did. In 1988, the format was changed to a single championship game contested between the winners of two four-team brackets. The best-of-3 series began in 2003.
The Bayou Bengals were left for dead in Omaha after losing 13-1 to Oregon State June 19. The Beavers improved to 56-4 and won their 23rd consecutive game. LSU defeated Florida State to stay alive, but then would have to beat Oregon State twice to reach the championship series.
Not only did LSU end Oregon State’s winning streak with a 3-1 decision last Friday, it completed the comeback the next day, 6-1. The Beavers collected only five hits over two games. FIVE. Thus Oregon State finished the year with a .903 winning percentage, but did not even play for the title.
LSU did this before.
In 1989, LSU was in the regional at College Station, where Texas A&M entered the tournament 55-5. The Aggies, who smashed the Southwest Conference that year, outscored their first three regional foes (Jackson State, BYU and South Alabama) 65-13. LSU lost its second game to South Alabama, and thus had to defeat UNLV and the Jaguars on day three to advance to the final round, where it would need to defeat A&M twice.
The Bayou Bengals pulled it off somehow. They won the first game 13-5 behind Golden Spikes Award winner Ben McDonald. In the winner take all game, McDonald came on in relief in the 10th inning and earned the win as LSU prevailed 5-4.
LSU didn’t win the championship this year, but the season was far from a failure. Quite the opposite.
When Bill Franques and I parted company at 5 p.m. ET in Lexington the afternoon of April 23, neither of us had much confidence LSU would be one of the eight to make it to Omaha. LSU was 27-15 overall and 10-8 in the SEC after dropping two to Kentucky and needing an eighth-inning rally to pick up the one win it got. Some projections had LSU going on the road for a regional, and its chances of hosting a super regional were slim and none.
Yet LSU steamrolled its way through the rest of the regular season (winning a share of the SEC championship) and the SEC tournament to earn the #4 national seed, one spot below Florida. The Bayou Bengals went 5-0 at home and were on their way to Omaha for the 18th time.
I didn’t get emotional over the CWS this year. There were times in the past where I would get upset that I wasn’t in Omaha. I would let jealousy get the best of me, because people I knew were there and I wasn’t.
This year, I felt fine with being at home. I did not want to pay exorbitant prices for hotels (a halfway decent hotel costs over $200 per night during the CWS, and if you want to stay close to TD Ameritrade Park, you can expect to pay at least $350 a night), fight all the crowds and the heat just to sit in the bleachers. Reserved tickets on the secondary market for LSU games ran anywhere from $150 to $700. LSU games were twice as much as other games. The only other school I can see driving ticket prices that high is Nebraska. Of course, the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t like the Cornhuskers in the CWS, because their fans will commute back and forth from Lincoln.
If I ever go again, I’ll probably have to stay in Kansas City or St. Joseph and commute the 2 1/2 hours up Interstate 29. But I don’t see it happening.
Here’s the good news for LSU: if history repeats tself, it will win it all in 2018.
Since winning their first title in 1991, the Bayou Bengals have won every nine years. They did it in 2000 and 2009, so 2018 is ripe.
Need a break from college sports. Football hype is too much for me to take in late June. It’s only going to get worse.
Goalposts stay upright
The goalposts at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence are intact.
TCU rallied to defeat Kansas 24-23. The Jayhawks missed three field goals in the fourth quater, although to be fair, the last one of those was from 54 yards, which is difficult for a pro kicker to make, much less a college kicker.
The Horned Frogs are 5-0 vs. the Jayhawks since joining the Big 12, but the last three of those wins have come by a combined 11 points. What is it about Kansas which gives TCU fits? Maybe Gary Patterson needs a few tips from his mentor, Bill Snyder, whose K-State teams always seem to beat Kansas by wide margins.
Florida continues to look mighty stupid for calling off its game with LSU.
The Notre Dame-North Carolina State game in Raleigh was played as Matthew was paralleling the coasts of South and North Carolina. The field at Carter-Finley Stadium was flooded, and wind gusts at close to hurricane force were felt throughout the stadium at times. The Wolfpack won 10-3, dropping the Fighting Irish to 2-4.
The game in Raleigh won’t be the only one today played in horrendous conditions.
NC State’s Golden Triangle rivals, North Carolina and Duke, are home as well, vs. Virginia Tech and Army, respectively. Those games will also be negatively impacted. Wake Forest hosts Syracuse, too, and although Winston-Salem is farther west than Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, it won’t be much better.
Currently in Gainesville, it’s sunny and 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). A little too warm for football for my taste, but in Florida, it’s as good as it’s going to get for October 8. Yet Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is deathly silent. Crickets are chirping.
Nice work, Jeremy Foley. You suckered SEC commissioner Greg Sankey into postponing the game at the behest of your football coach, Jim McElwain, who was deathly afraid of facing LSU without a few starters.
If Sankey forces LSU and Florida to play Nov. 19, the SEC should reimburse LSU $6 million–$1.5 million to buy out South Alabama, $3.5 million in lost ticket revenue, and another $1 million for expenses to travel to Gainesville.
Even the money won’t help LSU on the field. if the game is rescheduled to Nov. 19, LSU will have to play three consecutive road games vs. Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, which all come after a home game vs. Alabama. Nice job, SEC.
LSU fans don’t need much of a reason, if any, to hate Florida. Foley gave even the most mild-mannered Bayou Bengals fan a reason to loathe the Gators.
Les Miles was dead on. It is high time the SEC eliminate permanent cross-division opponents. It is time the LSU-Florida series take a scheduled break. I’m sure the Bayou Bengals would not complain if Florida was replaced with Kentucky and/or Vanderbilt every so often, or the Gators would feel the same way if LSU was traded out for Auburn and/or Mississippi State.
At least Missouri has an open date today, too, so it doesn’t have a disadvantage when traveling to Gainesville next week. The Tigers need all the help they can get after last week’s meltdown in Baton Rouge.
Hurricane Matthew has also affected the MLB playoffs, Game 2 of the NL Dvision series between the Dodgers and Nationals in Washington was rained out. The game is now set for 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, and then the teams must fly to Los Angeles for Game 3 Monday. If the teams were flying commerical, yikes. But they fly on spacious chartered planes, so it isn’t nearly as bad.
Jeremy Foley & Mother Nature KO LSU
LSU will not be playing football tomorrow.
The Bayou Bengals’ game at Florida, which was supposed to kick off at 11 a.m. Central, was called off due to the threat of Hurricane Mathew, which is currently paralleling Florida’s east coast about 80 miles (130 kilometers) offshore. Gainesville is receiving heavy rain now and will continue to have rain the rest of the evening.
LSU offered to move the game to Baton Rouge, and play Saturday, Sunday or Monday. LSU went so far as to procure hotel rooms in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and offered to pay for all of Florida’s expenses, including the charter flight.
Florida flat out refused. The Gators also refused the idea of a neutral site, such as Birmingham, Nashville or even Atlanta. Florida was bound and determined to play the game in Gainesville, even though as early as Monday night, it appeared the city would receive some significant effects from Matthew.
Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, who is now in his last month in the position, dithered and farted around until it was too late to do anything but call off the game. I’m sure his football coach, Jim McElwain, told him to stall as long as he could. Florida currently has many players injured, including several defensive linemen and starting quarterback Luke Del Rio.
Foley and McElwain got their true wish: no game this Saturday. Even though LSU is now led by interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Gators were well aware facing the Bayou Bengals would be a difficult task fully healthy, even more so without the injured players, although the Bayou Bengals were going to be without All-American running back Leonard Fournette, who missed last week’s game vs. Missouri with an ankle injury.
Florida wants to play the game Nov. 19. The Gators and Bayou Bengals both have non-conference home games that day. LSU would have to pay South Alabama a $1.5 million buyout if cancels, and would lose over $3 million in ticket revenue, not to mention parking, concessions and gift shop sales. LSU has every right to want to honor the contract with the Jaguars. It is not at fault here.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey should have stepped in. He should have done something Tuesday, or at the latest, Wednesday by noon. He should have told Florida in no uncertain terms the game would be played in Baton Rouge Saturday, or in Gainesville Sunday or Monday. In the professional sports leagues, the commissioner has the power to change the site and/or date of the game if a natural disaster is imminent. It’s too bad the SEC presidents and athletic directors haven’t vested the same power in the commissioner.
On the other hand, Sankey hasn’t been in the job too long. He doesn’t carry the clout of his predecessors, Roy Kramer and Mike Slive, who were among the most powerful people in college sports during their tenures. Kramer nor Slive would have let this drag out. They would have forced Foley’s hand and gotten something done.
I don’t understand why it would be so hard to move the SEC championship game back one week to Dec. 10, then have the College Football Playoff selections made that night or early the next morning. Start the SEC title game at 11 a.m. Central (prior to Army-Navy), then make the CFP selections at 6 p.m. Not hard.
If anyone knows about moving games due to hurricanes, it’s LSU.
The Bayou Bengals postponed their 2005 season opener vs. North Texas to late October. The game was scheduled to be played Sept. 3, which turned into the Saturday following Katrina’s landfall.
The next week, LSU moved its scheduled home game with Arizona State to Tempe. LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center and Carl Maddox Fieldhouse were being used as emergency medical centers, and helicopters were landing on the infield at Bernie Moore Stadium, the track facility across North Stadium Drive from Tiger Stadium. It would have been very easy for LSU to cancel the game. Arizona State would have understood. But the new LSU coach that season, Les Miles, knew playing the game, even if it was in Tempe and kicked off after 9 p.m. Central, would be a unifying influence and a way for refugees to forget about their miserable situations, even if only for three and a half hours.
LSU’s new home opener vs. Tennessee had to be pushed back to a Monday night due to Hurricane Rita, which devastated southwest Louisiana and dropped heavy rain on the rest of the state. College Gameday was supposed to broadcast from Baton Rouge, but moved to Virginia Tech.
Last year, South Carolina moved its scheduled home game with LSU to Baton Rouge when flooding hit the Palmetto State hard. LSU rolled out the red carpet from the Gamecocks, and the Golden Band from Tigerland even played the Carolina fight song.
See, Florida? It’s not that hard. All of the blame for this situation belongs to one man: Jeremy Foley. Hopefully Scott Stricklin, Foley’s predecessor, won’t be so stubborn if this happens again.
LSU returns to the field Oct. 15 at home vs. Southern Mississippi. I hope the Bayou Bengals pour it on. I have never been a USM fan, thanks to Curley Hallman’s disastrous four-year tenure in Baton Rouge after he went 23-11 in three seasons in Hattiesburg (thank you, Brett Favre).
(Bad) football feast
For those hoping for exciting football games, the first day of 2016 has been a huge disappointment.
All four bowl games so far have been one-sided, to put it mildly. Oklahoma State and Ole Miss face off in the Sugar Bowl starting at 7:30 CT, the last chance for excitement today.
The two bowls in Florida were total laughers. The combined score? 86 points for the winning teams, 13 for the losers. It was a split decision for the Big Ten and SEC, as Tennessee mauled Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, and Michigan stomped Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl at Orlando.
The Fiesta Bowl was just as bad. Ohio State led 14-0 early and Notre Dame never got closer than 10 points. The Buckeyes ended up winning 44-28, despite playing all but the first nine minutes of the game without All-America defensive end Joey Bosa, who was ejected for hitting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer with the crown of his helmet. Bosa has already announced he is leaving Ohio State for the NFL Draft, and some project him as the No. 1 overall pick, and all mock drafts have him in the top five.
Iowa, which was 12-0 in the regular season but lost the Big Ten championship game to Michigan State, was all pumped up about playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years.
Too bad the Hawkeyes no-showed in Pasadena.
Stanford is taking Iowa to school. The Cardinal led 21-0 after less than 11 minutes and 35-0 at halftime. Iowa finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it’s far too little, far too late.
The Hawkeyes have not won the Rose Bowl since the 1958 season, when the legendary Forrest Evashevski was still coaching in Iowa City.
Florida ended up losing its last three games to finish 10-4. Yes, the Gators were improved in their first season under Jim McIlwain following two bad seasons under Will Muschamp, who somehow got the head coaching gig at South Carolina last month. However, the Gators were absolutely putrid offensively this season, the worst Florida’s offense has been since Ron Zook coached the team from 2002-05, and maybe as bad as 1986, the year before Emmitt Smith arrived in Gainesville.
Northwestern’s stinker makes me wonder how the hell the Wildcats beat Stanford, especially in light of how bad the Cardinal are beating Iowa. And the Hawkeyes won 40-10 in Evanston in October.
Iowa scored another touchdown. Yippee. Brent Musburger just said the Hawkeyes are winning the second half. Come on, Brent, we all know football games are SIXTY minutes, not thirty. Stanford could care less.
Goodbye, Ball Coach
Steve Spurrier woke up this morning as a former football coach (and full-time golfer).
Spurrier, AKA “The Ole’ Ball Coach”, announced his retirement last night. He is stepping down immediately from his post at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks are 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Spurrier’s final game on the sidelines was last Saturday in Baton Rouge, where South Carolina lost a “home” game to LSU 45-24. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Columbia, but due to severe flooding across much of the Palmetto State caused by Hurricane Joaquin and a stationary front, the decision was made last Wednesday to shift the game to Louisiana.
In nearly 26 seasons of coaching college football, Spurrier won 228 games at Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-2001) and South Carolina (2005-15). In between Gainesville and Columbia, he had two-year stint with the Washington Redskins, where he went 11-21 before resigning at the end of the 2003 campaign. Spurrier led Florida to the 1996 national championship and five SEC championships, and guided South Carolina to back-to-back 11-win seasons, the first in school history.
Spurrier was an All-America quarterback for the Gators under the late Ray Graves, winning the 1966 Heisman Trophy and guiding Florida to victory over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl in what turned out to be the final game for the Yellow Jackets’ legendary coach, Bobby Dodd, whose name now adorns Tech’s stadium in Atlanta. Spurrier didn’t reach his pro potential with the 49ers and Buccaneers, but he stuck around 10 years because he certainly a cut above quite a few bozos who played quarterback in the NFL at that time, and he could also punt.
Those who are old enough to remember (read: 40 or closing in on 40) recall Spurrier coached for three seasons in the United States Football League with the Tampa Bay Bandits. The Bandits were arguably the most successful team in the spring league, at least at the box office, where the team routinely outdrew the Buccaneers, whose fans were beyond fed up with cheapskate owner Hugh Culverhouse. How bad was it for the Bucs? After winning the NFC Central in 1981, they would not experience another winning season (the 1982 strike-shortened season notwithstanding) until 1997, the year AFTER Spurrier coached Florida to its first national championship. I’m betting some of his better Gator teams would have been able to keep up with the Bucs of the mid-1980s, at least for a half.
When he was with the Redskins, Spurrier was ridiculed for not working hard enough, for playing too much golf, for delegating too much to his assistant coaches. That’s what I really like about Spurrier: he knows his limits. He knows that football is still a game, even where it is a religion, as it is at every SEC school, save Kentucky. He knows the importance of family, and always made sure his wife, Jeri, and the spouses of his assistant coaches were always welcome on the team charter. You certainly won’t find that in Manhattan, Kansas, where Bill Snyder works at least 20 hours per day and demands his assistants do the same. You won’t find it in Tuscaloosa, where Nick Saban wants his assistants to eat lunch at their desks like he does. Gerry DiNardo was a classic workaholic when he coached LSU from 1995-99. It didn’t get him far.
I thought of something last night when I heard the news. I realized Spurrier is the most notable coach who coached his last game at LSU.
Ironically, Spurrier’s predecessor (at least, permanent predecessor) in Gainesville, Galen Hall, also coached his last game in Baton Rouge, when Florida, led by Emmitt Smith, defeated LSU 16-13 on October 7, 1989. Hall was forced to resign four days later due to numerous NCAA rules violations. Those violations landed Florida on probation, and Spurrier was called in by then-Florida athletic director Bill Arnsparger, LSU’s coach from 1984-86, to clean up the mess. Spurrier not only cleaned up the mess–Florida was never investigated by the NCAA during his tenure–he won and won big. For that, he will always be revered in Gainesville, save for those Florida State and MIami alumni in the city, and rightly so.
The last LSU coach to coach his final game in Death Valley was Mike Archer, who was forced to resign with two games left in 1990. The Bayou Bengals defeated Tulane 16-13 to send Archer out with a 27-18-1 career ledger.
Speaking of the Green Wave, five coaches have ended their tenures in the Big Easy in Death Valley. Two, Andy Pilney and Tommy O’Boyle, were on the wrong end of 62-0 games in their finales in 1961 and 1965, respectively. Vince Gibson, meanwhile, led 28-point underdog Tulane to a 31-28 victory in 1982 over an LSU team which was going to the Orange Bowl and one week removed from routing Florida State 55-21.
Houston Nutt, like Hall and Gibson, won his last game coaching Arkansas in Tiger Stadium. The Razorbacks won 50-48 in three overtimes, yet LSU somehow won the BCS national championship, defeating Ohio State in New Orleans less than seven weeks later. It took losses by Kansas (KANSAS??!!!!!), Missouri (not even a tiny dot on the SEC’s radar in 2007) and West Virginia (not remotely interested in the Big 12 yet) for it to happen, but nobody’s coming to Baton Rouge requesting Les Miles relinquish the crystal ball.
South Carolina became the third Power 5 school to change coaches in less than three days. At least Spurrier left of his own volition.
That wasn’t the case at Maryland and USC, where Randy Edsall and Steve Sarkisian were terminated.
Maryland’s program got much better for kicking Edsall to the curb. He is a grade-A TURD. He left UConn without telling the Huskies face-to-face following their Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma on New Year’s Night 2011, instead flying directly from Phoenix to College Park for his introductory press conference with the Terrapins.
Edsall is such an uptight douchebag he makes Nick Saban look like the second incarnation of Bob Hope. He is all about rules, rules and more rules, and a coach can get away with it when a coach wins as much as Saban has at LSU and Alabama. When someone does it at a mediocre program, which Maryland is, it’s petty. Edsall would have made a former Maryland coach named Paul Bryant blush.
The Terps got what they richly deserved when they fired Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen following a 9-4 season in 2010. Edsall was 22-33 in College Park, and nobody in the Big Ten “Fears the Turtle”.
Sarkisian was fired after only 19 games at USC due to a substance abuse problem. Rumor has it he was intoxicated during the Trojans’ Sept. 26 game at Arizona State. It’s a sad ending for the former BYU quarterback and Washington coach, who called USC his “dream job”.
Don’t cry for Mr. Spurrier. I’m sure he’ll be spending plenty of time at Augusta National, where he is a member. Maybe someone will ask him to caddy for The Masters in the near future. That would be a sight to see Spurrier in one of those white jumpsuits.
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