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November 18–don’t save the date

For the first time since a lost weekend 13 1/2 months ago, I am in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In fact, I’m at the same hotel in St. Peters, about 50 kilometers west of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. 

I had no intentions of stopping in Kansas City this time. I thought about dropping anchor in Columbia, but felt good enough to keep going. I made sure not to eat after breakfast so I had the proper appetite for White Castle. 

I went to two different grocery stores in St. Peters, Schnucks and Dierberg’s. Selection is much better than anything in Kansas City, except for the bread, and certainly better than anything in Hays, Salina or Wichita. I still cannot find the poppy seed hot dog buns. I bought the last pack in Columbia last week, but struck out in St. Peters tonight. Try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have to stop in Columbia to see if they’re restocked at Schnucks. 

November 18 holds bad memories for a lot of people.

On November 18, 1997, I got into a very petty and very ugly argument with Rebecca Borne (now Brennan), whom I had a crush on throughout my time at LSU. It was over class presentations, and I got very upset with Rebecca when her group wasn’t able to make their presentation on time. Her group wanted to go before my group, and I told her I wouldn’t do it. The instructor, Laura Klaus, tried to calm me down, but I was over the edge. I skipped my 0900 class and hurried to the athletic department, where I lost it. 

There were two historical events on November 18 which are best forgotten. 

Sunday was the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, when Marxist cult leader Jim Jones ordered 900 followers in Guyana to drink Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide. Those who refused to drink the deadly cocktail had the cyanide injected into their veins. Prior to the mass suicide, Jones’ henchmen murdered U.S. Representative Leo Ryan (D-California) and members of an NBC News crew. 

Jones was enabled by Harvey Milk, the infamous homosexual member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Milk and Moscone shared Jones’ radical leftist views, and through Milk and Moscone, Jones charmed his way into the inner circle of President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Vice President Mondale, future San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who was then the Speaker of the California Assembly, as well as Hollywood elite, namely Jane Fonda and her anti-war zealots.

Just how far to the left were Jones, Milk and Moscone? Their leading opposition on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors came from Diane Feinstein. Yes, THAT Diane Feinstein. Apparently, Feinstein was too “conservative” for the likes of the grossly corrupt Milk, who lied about his service in the U.S. Navy (he claimed he was dishonorably discharged for his homosexuality, which was totally false; he was honorably discharged) and demonized anyone who dared oppose gay rights ordinances in San Francisco and legislation in Sacramento. 

Before Milk could be humiliated for his close association with Jones, he and Moscone were assassinated nine days after the Jonestown massacre by former Supervisor Dan White, who was forced to resign from the board due to financial difficulty and was denied renomination, thanks to Milk’s badgering of Moscone. 

Seven years after Jonestown, Joe Theismann’s football career ended in horrific fashion when he suffered a grotesque broken leg when his Redskins hosted the Giants on Monday Night Football. 

On the fateful play, Harry Carson grabbed a hold of Theismann’s arm, but missed. As the Redskins quarterback sighted his Hall of Fame wideout, Art Monk, Lawrence Taylor caught him from behind.

Taylor’s knee crushed’ Theismann’s tibia and fibula. LT was so horrified he frantically motioned to the Redskin bench that Theismann was really, really hurt.

Theismann’s career ended right then and there at RFK Stadium. The Redskins recovered to win Super Bowls XXIII and XXVI under Joe Gibbs, whom I regard as the best NFL coach I’ve seen, since he won three Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks: Theismann in XVII, Jay Schroeder and Doug Williams in XXII, and Mark Rypien in XXVI. Can you imagine if Gibbs would have had Dan Marino or John Elway for his entire tenure, at least after Theismann? It wouldn’t have been fair. 

Thirty-three years to the day after Theismann’s career ended, Alex Smith’s career might well have come to a screeching halt. 

Smith suffered an injury described as bad as Theismann’s in the Redskins’ loss to the Texans Sunday. If I were him, I would retire; he’s set financially, and he will do a tremendous job as an analyst should he choose that path. 

There was happier news Sunday. 

Leslie Edwin Miles is once again a college football coach. Miles was introduced Sunday as the new leader of the Kansas Jayhawks.

The best thing about this? Besides Miles coming to Lawrence, it’s we didn’t hear too many idiots wanting to bring back Mark Mangino. Mangino is a steaming pile of feces as far as I’m concerned. 

I’ll have more on Miles in an upcoming post. Right now, I’m beat. Good night. 

A lot since I last blogged…

There has been a lot of craziness since the last time I posted. I should have posted something Sunday or Monday with all that went on.

The trip home from Kansas City Saturday was uneventful. It was a good two days over there, a good break from the humdrum of Russell, Hays, Norton and other towns.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident, along with two others. It was reported the operator of the boat, which was licensed to Fernandez, was traveling at high speed, much faster than was safe for that time of night. It crashed into a jetty, throwing the occupants around like rag dolls, and killing all three by blunt force trauma.

Arnold Palmer died Sunday evening. It was announced during the Bears-Cowboys game on NBC. Palmer, who was 87, was one of the most popular golfers who ever lived, and one of America’s most iconic athletes, period. His exploits on the course would be surpassed by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and others, but nobody will ever come close to matching the popularity Arnie enjoyed during his heyday, and well after his retirement. In fact, he had recently been appearing in ads for the blood thinning medication Xarelto with NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and comedian Kevin Nealon, the longtime Saturday Night Live actor. I’ll always remember Palmer in the Pennzoil commercials of the 1980s.

The Arizona Cardinals looked mighty pathetic in Buffalo. The Bills won 33-18, and frankly, it was never that close. Buffalo gashed the Cardinals for over 200 yards rushing, and Carson Palmer looked like he had never seen an NFL defense. Palmer threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter. Let that sink in: four picks in one period. Brutal. I’ve seen this so often from the Cardinals in over three decades of following the NFL, but most of the time, I didn’t expect them to win. Now that the Cardinals are expected to win many of these games, it makes it much more frustrating.

The Cardinals play the Rams Sunday in Glendale. Yes, Arizona has won four of the last five meetings, but the one was last year in Arizona, when the Rams won 24-22, thanks in large part to Todd Gurley. If Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy can have that much success on the ground vs. Arizona, what will Gurley do? Oh boy.

The most important sports news of Sunday, at least to me, came out of my native state.

LSU, my alma mater, fired football coach Les Miles Sunday, 24 hours after the Bayou Bengals lost 18-13 at Auburn. LSU appeared to win the game when Danny Etling hit D.J. Chark along the sideline in the end zone on the last play of the game. I didn’t think LSU got the snap off before time ran out, and indeed, the officials concurred after reviewing it.

The next afternoon, I read on The Advocate website LSU was “considering” major changes to the football program. Then came a rumor Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were going to be fired. Then it was confirmed.

Miles was very close to being fired last November when LSU lost three consecutive games to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss following a 7-0 start. Miles’ job was saved only after LSU beat Texas A&M 19-7 in Baton Rouge in the regular season finale. The job appeared more secure after a 56-27 victory over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, but the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin at Green Bay in this year’s season opener had fans grumbling and only served to turn up the heat on Miles.

Miles was canned despite a 114-34 mark at LSU. He has the highest all-time win percentage in program history (.770), and his 114 wins rank him second only behind the 137 by “Cholly Mac”, Charles McClendon, who coached the Bayou Bengals from 1962-79. Miles won a national championship in 2007 despite triple overtime losses to Kentucky and Arkansas, and in 2011, LSU won its first 13 games against the nation’s most difficult schedule to reach the championship game, but were thoroughly embarrassed by Alabama in New Orleans. The Crimson Tide won 21-0 and held LSU to a meager 92 yards, fewest by any team in a championship game since 1998, the first year of the BCS.

LSU hasn’t won even an SEC West championship since 2012. It hasn’t finished any of the previous four seasons with fewer than three losses. I fear the Bayou Bengals may regress to the point where it falls behind Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M permanently.

Ed Orgeron, LSU’s defensive line coach, was named the interim coach. His first game is Saturday night vs. Missouri in Death Valley. Orgeron was head coach at Ole Miss in 2005, ’06 and ’07 and was a miserable failure, going 10-25 overall and 3-21 in SEC games. He also was arrested for DUI, and committed some recruiting violations, violations which are still casting a shadow over the program even though Orgeron has been gone from Oxford for nine years.

Orgeron was interim coach at USC in 2013 after Lane Kiffin was fired, and went 6-2 with the Trojans. Some felt he should have been given the job permanently, given his ties to Pete Carroll as an assistant on  USC’s back-to-back AP national championships of 2003 and 2004, but the Trojans made the disastrous hire of Steve Sarkisian, who didn’t last two full seasons.

This is Orgeron’s dream job. He grew up in Cut Off, a small town in southern Lafourche Parish, and played at South Lafourche High, where the Trojans won the 1977 Class AAAA state championship (Louisiana’s highest classification at that time). One of Orgeron’s high school teammates was Bobby Hebert, who went on to play quarterback for the Saints and Falcons. Orgeron briefly attended LSU, but transferred to Nicholls State in Thibodaux and played football there.

Orgeron was hired in 2015 by Miles as defensive line coach. “Coach O” is known as a fantastic recruiter, and he was elevated by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva to help keep recruits from wavering in their commitment to the Bayou Bengals.

If Orgeron helps LSU win its next eight games, he could very well stay on permanently. Alleva will only consider people with previous college head coaching experience, and even though Orgeron’s career record is 16-27, he qualifies.

Miles’ firing is the earliest in LSU’s history. Now what if a previous athletic director had the guts to pull the trigger on another LSU coach after a stupefying loss at Auburn? I’ll discuss in another post.

As for me, it’s volleyball in Hays for the second time in three days. Norton lost to TMP and Plainville Tuesday. Today is no easier, since the Bluejays play three larger schools: Salina South, Hays and Abilene. I’m going back to Norton Monday, because it’s the last home matches this season, which means it’s senior night for Caitlyn. She’d never forgive me if I missed it.

This week is the first time I haven’t had an appointment with Crista since the week of July 18. I had been going weekly since the last week of July, but she wanted to try to go back to every two weeks, which was the schedule until the change. I was feeling a little bit anxious Tuesday in TMP’s fieldhouse before the matches. I was about to call her and leave a message saying it was a huge mistake to cancel. Lucky for me, I snapped out of it and didn’t need to call.

I can’t believe it will be October Saturday, but time flies sometimes.