Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Midweek Musings

I’m sure by now that it’s old news in the poker world, but I watched most of Johnny Chan’s World Series of Poker victory in a pot-limit hold ‘em event last night on ESPN. This WSOP tournament win marked Johnny’s record-setting tenth gold bracelet. The runner-up was "Unabomber” Phil Laak, whom I would probably strangle if I had to play against. Johnny took Phil’s ADD-like antics in stride before cementing his status as poker’s most decorated (and beloved) top player. Way to go Johnny!

You guys out there…invest in and learn how to use a crock pot. I’m telling you what, of all the wedding gifts I got, this thing is the most useful. Google “crock pot recipes” and you’ll find a ton of things you can make with it. Dump the grub in on your way to work, and you come home 8-10 hours later with dinner ready to go.

Football Ramblings
A subject near and dear to my heart…the newfound willingness of universities and athletic directors to hire football coaches who are overweight. Yesterday I referenced Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz, whose four-year record with the Rockets is nothing short of fantastic. Others come to mind, particularly Mark Mangino at Kansas and, to a lesser degree, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. Weis even went so far as to have life-threatening weight loss surgery performed several years ago in hopes of landing a head coaching job.

Now, the success of these guys on the job ought to demonstrate to hesitant administrators that in terms of on-field performance, size need not matter. I can see, though, where coaching girth might matter, and that is in the hearts and minds of the players. I don’t know about you, but if I’m sweating my butt off through two-a-days and having my butt chewed out and spending all my time in the gym, I’d probably resent a lardy leader. Once you win that battle, though, you’re probably home free.

Tonight’s Match-up
Cincinnati at Miami (OH). I doubt that there are that many people living in Ohio that care about this game either.

Vandy notes
This Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee has been picked up locally in Nashville by the UPN affiliate there, and subsequently picked up by ESPN Gameplan. This would be good news, except that I’m out of town this Saturday attending my wife’s friend’s wedding. What kind of man agrees to get hitched during football season? Ugh. I don’t even want to go, but this couple came to my wedding, so we’re obligated. I will figure something out. This is our dream season, so I’m doing my best not to miss any of it.

Final thoughts
This blog has come to the attention of a couple clowns whose brilliant detective work led to their posting a link on their site urging people to search for my wife by name so that they could obtain her contact info and harass her regarding the things I write on here. Lest it not be obvious, anyone who would do this is human debris. For those of you living in Murfreesboro, that means garbage.

Anyone that disagrees with me is free to leave comments on this blog. I will gladly debate the merits of my arguments or yours anytime. Free and open dialogue? Yes. Anonymous harassment? No way.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

An Hour I Can’t Have Back

As you know, I live in the heartland in a major metropolitan area, the largest one in the state. Some of you can probably figure it out based on previous posts, but I’m not going to state it here.

Since my wife works and attends law school, I manage our personal affairs. That means that I often use my lunch hour to run errands and take care of business, so to speak. Today was no different. I needed to renew our license plates. You can do that by mail for a slightly higher charge, but I’m too cheap for that. They offer online renewal, but everything has to be right in order to do it that way. For one, you can’t have switched insurance carriers recently because they won’t have your new data. Fair enough.

By the way, well worth it to switch. If my old carrier, State Farm, had stayed anywhere close to what I was paying already, I might have continued sending checks and never bothered to shop around. Instead, they went up by 10%. Not cool if you’re on a budget and trying to put a wife through law school. I shopped around and saved over 40% from State Farm’s higher renewal rate. I liked my agent, but not enough to pay that much more to continue doing business with her.

Anyway, my new insurance cards arrived with the wife’s name on them but not mine. I called the new agent to straighten it out, and she did, but the cards are forthcoming. You have to show proof of insurance to renew your registration, so I go online and print out a declarations page showing all the pertinent info. I also bring with me a copy of the policy itself just in case. You probably know where this is heading…

I go to the county clerk’s office closest to my place of employment and grab a number, 21. They call 12 right when I sit down. My turn comes and I go up to the window and spread out my documents. She asks for proof of insurance; I explain why I don’t have the card and give her what I have. It’s not good enough. The policy states that they can only accept an insurance card or a fax from the insurance company.

I show her my new insurance policy, but she won’t budge. Insurance fraud is rampant and she won’t take it. Ugh. I’m getting testy by this point, and she doesn’t want to lose control of things, so she calls the phone number for my agent THAT IS PRINTED ON THE POLICY THAT I PROVIDED HER. Can they fax something to her? Of course, incoming faxes cost another dollar. Yikes. She takes my check and gives me a receipt, along with all my documentation and tells me I can leave with my plates as soon as she receives the fax.

I wait. Ten minutes later, it hasn’t arrived. I call my agent and press her to get it in gear. She tells me that they’re standing at the fax trying to get it to go through, but the other end is busy. Of course it is! They’re making money one dollar at a time! More waiting. The clerk notices me standing there, frustrated, and tells me that nothing has come in yet.

I’m on my lunch break! This episode has taken 45 minutes instead of 15. By now, I’m begging her just to mail the damn plates to me. She says that will cost me another $4. Fine. I whip out my wallet and a full book of stamps. Take them. I want out of here. She tells me that the fax could be here any minute, and that she didn’t want me driving on expired tags. Me neither! That’s why I’m there. I lost it. I asked for the manager on duty, who was conveniently nowhere to be found.

Either common sense or panic set in, because she took the same policy I had half an hour prior, and examined it carefully. See? There’s my name, those are my two cars, there are my coverage limits. Oh look, there’s how much I paid! She makes a copy of this, hands me the plates, and sends me on my way.


Let me tell you something…I know that there are people out there, probably including some of you reading this, who are dishonest enough to buy liability coverage for the day that the plates need to be renewed and then cancel it afterwards. I overheard two people discussing doing just that in the county clerk’s office. I also realize that there are people motivated to forge documents in order to avoid paying for insurance.

You people make me sick. Honest people like me have to jump through extraordinary hoops, like the ones I’ve described, and pay higher premiums because irresponsible people like you won’t man up and do what’s right and smart.

Still, the clerk’s office is not off the hook either. Why common sense prevailed only after an hour had elapsed is beyond me. My best hypothesis? GOVERNMENT.

Government has no incentive to serve customers quickly or efficiently. What do they care if their operations hemorrhage money? There’s more where that came from, in my pocket and yours. I swear…there was no sense of urgency in that place whatsoever. Employees were milling about, and there were some with no customers to wait on, but they didn’t actually open their lines to the rest of the peons. They were serving commercial clients and auto dealers, exclusively, no matter how few of them there were to be served. It was unreal.

I worked for Big Brown in multiple functions, including hub operations and finance. That experience taught me how important operational efficiency is. Not mind-numbing robotic precision, but efficiency. Urgency. I could walk in tomorrow to that county clerk’s office, lay off a third of the staff, and improve wait times and quality solely through superior management and attention to detail.

Before you cry about how unfair it is to force people out of work, think about it from my perspective. If you can do a job with 7 people instead of 10, what good are you doing by employing 10 and remaining inefficient? In my example, the government confiscates my money in order to subsidize the employment of people it does not honestly need. AND, somewhere out there, a businessman or woman is looking for three people to work for him or her that cannot be found because they are performing inefficient work for someone else. Having a job is not the same as doing meaningful work.

Yes, I’ve lost a job before. It sucks. You move on.

It may seem like I’m picking on government here, but there is waste in private industry too, though the profit motive keeps careful managers on the lookout for it. I worked in a department for Big Brown once where we could have cut 25% of staff and not noticed a difference. We aggressively pursued customers who didn’t pay on time, but we didn’t have the same attitude about internal waste. We kept people around long after their skills diminished or their jobs were automated, often for fear of being sued for something or other.

If you still think I’m being insensitive, here’s the bottom line in our economy: lifetime employment is a thing of the past. Nobody owes you a job or a living. Am I loyal to my company? Somewhat. I want it to succeed so that I make money to satisfy my needs. Do I think for a second that if the time comes for them to replace me or eliminate my job that they are going to waste time thinking about it? Nope.

Rant over. Now contrast my customer service experience at the county clerk’s office with this one. On the way back to the office, I stop by the Golden Arches for a Happy Meal. From the time I place my order at the speaker box until I drive away, grub in hand, maybe 60 seconds elapsed. Wow. Profit motive is a powerful thing. Private business will always innovate, design, and manage things better than government, because there’s money to be made and lost.

Football Thoughts
College football is why I write this blog, so don’t worry about me suddenly diverging into political or social commentary. There are more important things to discuss, like last night’s Tennessee-LSU game in Baton Rouge!

Where to begin…let’s start with the logistical headaches of staging a game in a hurricane evacuation zone. Yikes. No hotels available anytime soon, and traffic has become a nightmare. Baton Rouge is busting at the seams with new residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The game wound up being postponed two days because a followup hurricane, Rita, passed through on Saturday. With the lack of hotel rooms, UT wound up having to fly in on game day and out immediately after the game. Stuff happens, and you deal with it. They did. They also whined about it quite a bit, even suggesting that they were willing to forfeit had SEC commissioner Mike Slive not browbeaten LSU into postponing the game. Histrionics aside, the game was moved to last night.

LSU fans were clearly jacked up for this game and it came across pretty well on TV. According to reports I’ve read, they even rocked Tennessee’s buses upon arrival at the stadium and pelted them with garbage. Sheesh. Come on, Tiger fans. This is NOT the Big Ten, and you do not live in East Lansing, Madison, or Columbus. Hooliganism is not cool, no matter how much you’ve had to drink.

The game itself was a dandy between two loaded teams on a national stage. Play was sloppy, pockmarked by turnovers, penalties, and loads of dropped passes. LSU went up 21-0 in the first half, aided by UT turnovers and the complete meltdown of UT quarterback Erik Ainge. LSU also failed to convert a field goal in the waning seconds of the first half because they couldn’t get the play off. New head coach Les Miles might be a fantastic motivator, but he’s an awful game manager. This would come into play later.

LSU led 24-7 at the end of the third quarter before the wheels came off and they stopped playing to win. After Tennessee scored to make it 24-14, LSU QB JaMarcus Russell, a gigantic signal caller with a rocket arm, threw a pick that gave the Vols the possession deep in Tiger territory. They marched in for the touchdown with about seven minutes to play and down only 24-21 with all the momentum in the world.

They would get the tying field goal with two minutes left to play. Then, LSU head coach Les Miles cemented his status as the SEC’s new Ron Zook, the former Florida coach maligned for introducing a once-proud program to newfound mediocrity. He called two running plays in a row, chewing valuable clock time and signaling to everyone watching that he was playing for overtime, and NOT the win in regulation. Football rewards the aggressive and the confident. It came as no surprise to this observer that Tennessee wound up winning in overtime, 30-27.

Tiger fans…let’s hope that the emotion of last night’s game and his first outing in Baton Rouge caused some of the stupid brain farts made by Les Miles. If not, you’re in for a couple of seasons of mediocrity where all the talent in the world is wasted with bush-league coaching. I smell a new Zooker down on the bayou.

Tonight’s match-up
Toledo at Fresno State (-12.5). Rotund coach Tom Amstutz and QB whiz Bruce Gradkowski travel to Fresno to take on Sheriff Pat Hill and his posse. Watch Toledo put up a valiant effort before giving way at the end. I like Fresno State to make a statement in this game, something like "We build our reputation on the backs of the Toledos of the world, before folding against the better competition." It’s not 2001 anymore, but it’s enough.

Vandy notes
Our game against LSU on October 8 has been picked up by ESPN2. Wow! By my count, this marks the first time since 1999 that Vandy has played on national TV. If I'm wrong on this, please advise.

Final thought
Is it kosher to tell my wife, upon her asking me how my day went, to read this blog? It can't hurt…we all know it would double my readership.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday, Monday

My new shaving gel smells remarkably like spice drop candy. I wish I'd found this stuff years ago. My wife probably does too. Honestly, the worst thing I ever did regarding my appearance was to leave Big Brown. They had a strict set of standards for the personal appearance of their personnel, which compelled me to shave at least every other day. Since then, I've been known to let myself go for weeks since my current boss doesn't care.

Went to the old-money steakhouse last night for my wife's birthday...she'll be 25 soon, and for whatever psychological reason, this one's hitting her hard. I don't much think that 25 is old, but she feels that way. She's got nothing to worry about physically...her mom is very beautiful for a lady in her 50s. Still, nothing cheers her up like some red meat, so off we go.

I order the large ribeye, which is billed on the menu as 16-18 ounces. Yikes. I remember when I was younger, when I could eat a slab like this without breaking a sweat. Yesterday, I managed to finish but I regretted it later. I love a good ribeye, but I can't eat the way I used to. Yes, I'm sad about that. I've set many personal records that I'm proud of, including:

-18 boiled eggs in one sitting in high school
-two whole pizzas at one buffet I nearly shut down
-a 32-ounce ribeye on the company dime
-a whole package of spaghetti and at least a pound and a half of ground meat (Wife says I was green when she got home)
-a 20-ounce burger in Vegas, which earned me a free T-shirt I couldn't wear because it was only size XL

Come to think of it, I'm not very proud of some of these. What was I thinking?

Our company remodeled most of one floor of our building about six months ago and put in a fitness center for employees' free use. Up until about two months ago, I worked out there religiously five or six days a week. For various reasons, I stopped using the company's gym and began working out at the gym at home at our apartment building. The frequency of my workouts also slowed, and eventually I stopped altogether.

That has to change. I have about 10 weeks until I take the wife on our first Carribbean cruise in December. The last time I was on a plane, we both were miserable because I took up some of her room. If I eat right and exercise plenty in the next 10 weeks, hopefully it will be better for us this time around.

Football Stuff
I actually did watch a little NFL action yesterday, but I didn't enjoy it as much as college football. Maybe if I grew up in an NFL city, things would be different and I would identify more with a single team. Still, I don't. I look at NFL teams as bands of mercenaries who will leave at the drop of a hat to sign with another team. I see the owners as greedy billionaires pricing fans out of the stadium (even though I am a capitalist). I see a product that just isn't as compelling to me as the college game, which could definitely be improved in its own right.

I enjoyed Philly kicker David Akers' game-winner yesterday on his hobbled leg. Good stuff. I enjoyed Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich's touchdown pass to tightrope-walking Jimmy Smith to beat the Jets. That's about it.

Vandy football
God bless Chancellor Gordon Gee. How many times have you heard anyone credit the administration and not the coaching staff for a team's success? He's not on the field teaching technique, but his commitment to winning football and giving Coach Bobby Johnson all the tools and resources needed to win should be recognized. There's not a college administrator out there whom I'd rather have. If you've followed Vandy football for any period of time, you probably feel the same. We've been left for dead before by more than one Vandy chancellor who thought that football was beneath a university such as ours. Hogwash. Intellect and football success do not have to be mutually exclusive.

If you're into cheap thrills, wander over to my favorite Vandy message board,, and see what the folks over at Middle Tennessee have to say about this week's game. Warning: you may walk away slightly less intelligent for having done so, but it gives you some idea of what I've been talking about in previous posts.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Week 4 in review...other developments

A few things we can take from week 4 in college football:

Army: Outmanned, but never outplayed. They play with a discipline that every other team in 1-A football could learn from. They got after Iowa State and nearly beat them. Something else...Army players don't seem to celebrate after big hits and quarterback sacks. Just another day at the office. I like that. I wish that attitude were more prevalent.

USC: They seemed disinterested that first half against Oregon on the road, but when they turn it on, there's no stopping them. You almost wish that they would show up at kickoff. Perhaps all that success breeds laziness?

Georgia Tech: Speaking of not showing up...yikes.

Kentucky: If you're a Big Blue fan, you hope AD Mitch Barnhart has his short list ready to go. What I wonder is, who wants this job? Toughest single division in the country in the SEC East. For those three people who don't know, that includes Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and yes, undefeated Vanderbilt. Kentucky's fanbase deserves better from their football squad, which ought to tell you something. Kentucky fans are notoriously obnoxious and delusional, and yet I feel for them in this case.

Ohio State: Their 31-6 thrashing of Iowa will again have the Buckeye faithful dreaming of another national title. Not happening, but why let little old me rain on their parade? Michigan State will take care of that on its own on October 15.

Louisville: Thanks for trying, guys. See you next year. FYI, if you wanted tickets to upcoming Card games, follow the massive crowd of people jumping off their bandwagon. Seriously. They're available and getting cheaper daily.

Minnesota: Congrats to Glen Mason for beating Purdue in double-OT. That thing on your back? It's a bullseye. Good luck running the gauntlet. Great smile, though.

Michigan: I called this one accurately. My buddy Jason called me from Nashville and told me that he was looking forward to seeing Michigan against Vandy in the Music City Bowl this year. My response? The way they're playing, they'd be lucky to get there and even then Vandy might whip them. He agreed. Poor Wolverines...they won't get any sympathy from anyone in the Big Ten, where folks openly wish for "Three-Loss Lloyd" to stay on permanently.

Alabama: I'm not ready to anoint them just yet. They could not put Arkansas away until late in the game, and Brodie Croyle looked average at best. They're going to have their hands full with Florida this week.

Vanderbilt: All three of you who read this blog know that this is my team, and this is our year. Yes, we're 4-0 for the first time since 1984. Yes, our quarterback Jay Cutler is all-world and drawing more accolades by the day. Yes, I'm excited as can be about our season, for it looks to be "our year".

That said, I'm convinced that we may be the worst undefeated team in the country right now. Our wins are over Wake Forest, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and 1-AA Richmond. If you're curious, go and look up their records. They're awful. Now, in the past Vandy couldn't even beat the patsies on their schedule, so in that way we have turned the corner. We're beating the teams we should beat.

Still, we gave up something like 350 yards of offense to Richmond. They moved the ball at will down the field in the first half, coming away with only 6 points on their first 4 possessions due largely to their own incompetence (penalties, red zone inefficiency). Between the 20s, we did not stop them effectively. Forgive me for wanting better defensive performance against a 1-AA opponent.

We also drew over 50 yards worth of penalties, which is nothing in the grand scheme but over twice as many as our per-game average to that point. Vandy is consistently the least-penalized team in the SEC, which I attribute to superior coaching during the week. There's no good reason to get lazy against the patsies. Against the cream teams still left on our schedule (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU), we cannot afford any mistakes if we're going to pull out an upset.

Offensively, Jay Cutler threw the ball downfield at will, and only two of his incompletions were his fault. The rest were dropped balls by receivers, including 3 or 4 by Erik Davis. It's also nice to see Cassen Jackson-Garrison and Jeff Jennings shoring up the ground game and giving us a decent running attack for the first time in a long time.

Now, I couldn't be in Nashville for this one, but I did rig up my wife's laptop on the coffee table for the radio broadcast while we watched other games on mute. The crowd for the Vandy-Richmond games was over 38,400! If you've followed Vandy football for any period of time, you know that this is remarkable. The stadium only holds 40,000, and by now we're used to the opposing team putting more butts in the seats than the Black and Gold. Last night, that was not the case. The crowd was LOUD on the radio, and I hear that they were into the game all night long. That's so awesome. I never thought that I would see the day that we would get that close to a sellout against a 1-AA opponent. Hats off to Vandy's marketing people, the Nashville public, and the boys on the field for packing them in.

This week, we are playing Middle Tennessee State University, a joke of a program whose only contribution to 1-A football has been two victories over Vandy back in 2001 and 2002. That is ALL these clowns have to hang their hat on. They can't draw flies, so their athletic department had to petition the NCAA to ease off attendance minimums so they could stay 1-A. When that wouldn't work, they set up a game in Nashville against Louisville that would count in their attendance figures. Can they sell out a 68,000 seat facility in Nashville better than their own 30,000 seat stadium in Murfreesboro? No, but they know that folks in Louisville will drive three hours and park their butts there. It'll be like another Louisville home game, while Middle gets to stave off demotion to 1-AA for another year.

If you can't tell, I can't stand Middle. Their football players were DEAD LAST in the NCAA's first survey of academic performance and graduation rates. Their fans are obnoxious for having never tasted any kind of success, but they beat Vandy several years ago and that made them world-beaters. Come on. I remember back when Temple came to Murfreesboro in 2003, fresh off the Big East's decision to kick them out for their sorry showing year in year out. Temple. They beat Middle. Hell, everyone's beat Middle. Vandy's all-time record against Middle is something crazy like 14-2. Those two wins came recently, and so Middle fans hold onto them like crazy because let's face it, the outlook for Middle athletics is pretty bleak.

I thought Ohio State fans had an inferiority complex. Buckeyes, meet the Blue Raiders. At least you've got degrees that people respect. Nobody outside of Tennessee's ever heard of Middle or even cared. And their fans know that, which is why they put on the brave face and talk so much smack.

Yes, I'm openly rooting for Vandy to pound Middle prison-style and destroy the last shred of credibility there is in Murfreesboro.

Whether you realize it or not, I have a more genteel side to me than just writing about football and openly scorning a glorified middle school in Murfreesboro, TN. My wife's birthday is coming up soon and I'm taking her out for her birthday tonight. We're going to one of those old-money steakhouses where everything is expensive, a la carte, and oh so tasty. My plans to get her to the Golden Corral were thwarted. Oh night a year, I can put on a better front for her sake.

Marriage is a good thing. My single buddies wouldn't admit it, but they would trade with me if they could.

One last thing...I'm not going to go to great lengths to beg people to come and read my blog. It is what it is...a guy writing about college football and whatever else comes to mind. Still, it would be cool for this to be interactive. If you read something that you like, or that pisses you off, drop me a line. Let me know what you think. If you were educated at Middle Tennessee, find someone who can write and let me have it. Thanks in advance.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Week 4 picks and thoughts

You want to know what I absolutely can't stand about college football, the one sport head and shoulders above all others? Games drag on forever. Your average game lasts three and a half hours. Last week's Ole Miss-Vandy rumble nearly lasted four. Yikes. The main culprit, if you ask me, is the rule that the clock stops on first down until the ref spots the ball. They don't do this in pro football, and it's no coincidence that NFL games are much shorter.

Unless of course, you're Nebraska and you don't believe in first downs...then you probably don't notice.

Week 4 of college football season has some good matchups, starting tonight with:

Iowa State at Army
In a different era, before year-round recruiting and unlimited substitution, Army was a real powerhouse. That is no longer, of course, and I don't see any major changes on the horizon that would allow Army to compete any better than they do now. Iowa State wins this one in a walk.

Cal at New Mexico State
Cal's QB problems are well-documented, with the loss of Nate Longshore for the season and the early-season struggles of JUCO transfer Joseph Ayoob. Still, they will bring it against the Aggies, and I hope they do. NMSU Head Coach Hal Mumme is a dead man in Kentucky for cheating, running that program into the ground and leaving it on probation. His defensive coordinator, Woody Widenhofer, was the fat sack of crap who left Vandy in a shambles. I'm a big boy myself, but I don't need a golf cart to haul my fat ass around a football practice in which I'm not participating. No vaseline, Cal.

Tomorrow's games:

USC at Oregon
Would USC beat the Vikings? They put the boots to Arkansas worse than Vandy did. Wow. Trojans get it done in noisy Autzen Stadium.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
GAME OF THE DAY. You gotta like the Hokies at home, but the Ramblin' Wreck won't lay down. They didn't at Auburn, and I doubt they're going to tomorrow. Special teams and turnovers have a way of settling the close games, and Beamer's VA Tech squads never disappoint in that area.

Florida at Kentucky
Forced sodomy, anyone? I thought about going to this one, but I couldn't bear to watch. Kentucky always plays Florida tough at home, but not this year. Probation and injuries have decimated this blue crew. Good look keeping it under 60.

Georgia at Mississippi State
I heard that tornadoes leveled Starkville and made millions of dollars worth of improvements. Georgia won't level the Bulldogs, but they'll pull this one out. Don't think Mark Richt has any Zook in him...

Iowa at Ohio State
Too much D, and just enough O will get the job done for the Bucks. And if you disagree with that, they'll tell you where the f--- you can go.

Louisville at South Florida
The only concern for Louisville faithful isn't whether or not Brian Brohm will hang 60 on South Florida. Rather, it's whether or not the game will even be televised locally.

Purdue at Minnesota
Battle of the Big Ten Underachievers. Purdue's always been soft, but they've got a strong enough offensive attack to win this shootout. Now Gophers, you have an all-world back in Lawrence Maroney. Your QB is still Bryan Cupito, and last time I checked, he sucked big time. Purdue, all day long.

Colorado at Miami
Upset special. Miami always loses a game at home that they shouldn't. Two years ago, it was Tennessee. Last year, it was Clemson. I smell a letdown after their 3-OT win over Clemson on the road last week.

Michigan at Wisconsin
Wild Wisconsin crowd, night game, unproven Michigan team with loads of talent but offensive questions marks. I like Wisconsin in this one. I do not like the "Eat Sh-t/F--- You" chants from the Wisconsin student section. Unbelievably low class. One of the finest state schools in the think they could come up with something more clever than crass.

Notre Dame at Washington
In a fair world, UW would bend ND over and redeem coach Ty Willingham after the way he was treated by his former employer. Of course, life isn't fair. The Huskies are overmatched before Notre Dame even gets off the bus.

Michigan State at Illinois
This is usually where MSU likes to lay an egg after overachieving the previous week (in this case, an overtime win over Notre Dame on the road). I think John L. Smith is a dirtbag, but he's got all-world Drew Stanton in his corner. On the other side of the ring: Ron Zook. Take the Spartans in a squeaker.

Arizona State at Oregon State
Big time shootout here. The Sun Devils will put up loads of points and sneak home with a W.

Indiana State at Texas Tech
Will the Red Raiders get to 100? Perhaps. Should they be ashamed for their schedule? Absolutely. What, the Oklahoma School of Engine Repair couldn't make it?

Arkansas at Alabama
I think Frank Broyles has Butch Davis' number on speed dial. Alabama has already started game planning for next week's showdown with Florida.

Duke at Virginia
At last, a game I couldn't care less about.

Tennessee at LSU
It doesn't matter when they play this game. LSU will take the Vols to the woodshed.

Richmond at Vanderbilt
Of course, the one for all the marbles. Vandy should walk away with this talentwise. Got to make sure nobody gets hurt and that the starters are out of there in plenty of time. Not to worry. Between cheap tickets, freebies for faculty and staff, and Parents' Weekend, I hear that this one should have an awesome turnout. Go Dores!

One final note: I broke down and bought Vandy basketball season tickets today. If you or anyone you know wants to go to the Kentucky-Vandy game in Nashville on February 11, let me know. I can make you happy and pay for the whole season all in one bang.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

New developments...

As you know, I'll watch anyone play football. I mean, anyone. I've made it through the halftime show of a Tuskegee game on BET once, where I learned that band members for a proud historically black college could indeed spell "PIMP" on the field while playing a 50-Cent tune. I've also sat through a couple football games at Embarrassing Fourth-Tier State U, where I graduated. That program, a 1-AA school masquerading as 1-A, put some awful teams on the field and couldn't draw flies. Yikes.

Vandy is playing this Saturday against Richmond, albeit not on television. For that matter, Vandy almost never plays on television, except for the handful of games picked up by Jefferson-Pilot sports, the regional syndicator whose production values scream "high school". JP wouldn't even bother with Vandy if they didn't have to, but I think they're required by the SEC to show every conference member at least twice. JP is third in line behind CBS and ESPN when picking games. Vandy hasn't won enough in recent years to ever sniff the big time, and of course a gimme versus a 1-AA cupcake won't excite anyone but the faithful.

Needless to say, I'm not driving to Nashville for this one.

I will, however, watch anyone play college football. Upon learning of Kentucky's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Indiana, and the subsequent mass suicide of the Wildcat fanbase, I smelled an opportunity. Could tickets to their upcoming bloodbath against Florida be had for a song? Sure enough, tickets are still available for $22 and $29 from the ticket office. That's cheap for major college football, and UK's Commonwealth Stadium is a very nice place to see a game.

Still, many on Kentucky's message boards predict a ton of empty seats for this massacre. I e-mail a UK fan with decent seats a couple of days ago to ask his price. Face. Thanks anyway. It's on CBS, and I have a comfy recliner that works just fine. He e-mails me back today...$15 each. Wife is in class right now and unavailable to ask, but I'm thinking about taking him up on that. Maybe a little cheaper. We'll see.

Sad is a stadium that holds 70,000 people and draws nearly that many every week to watch what Kentucky puts on the field. I've learned something about UK football fans. They're loyal to a fault. They consider it close to a character flaw to not show up, no matter how frustrated they are. Yet, that's what it would take for them to force honest change in their program. Empty seats don't look good on TV. Season tickets unrenewed hurt the bottom line. Voting with your feet isn't disloyalty. It's tough love.

I will let you know soon whether or not I go to the train wreck that will be the Florida-Kentucky game. Maybe I can learn the words to "We Are the Boys of Florida"?

Indiana football is back on track after hiring a heck of a coach, Terry Hoeppner, away from Miami University (OH). See, Kentucky? It is about whom you hire for the job. IU's got a fanbase just ready to explode over a winning football team. Their basketball fans are pretty crazy too.

Speaking of crazy fans...this needs to be said. I went to the Texas-Ohio State game a couple of weeks ago in Columbus. As you know, I'm originally from Texas. San Antonio, in fact. I went with a buddy of mine and we busted out the orange for this one. We parked about two miles away from Ohio Stadium and walked to the game. That wouldn't have been so bad, except that we walked down Lane Avenue to get there.

Lane Avenue, for the uninitiated, is the off-campus student housing area/gameday party zone near campus. House party going down at every house. That's cool. There are Buckeye fans on every porch, balcony, and lawn getting down before the game. It's 6:30 PM, so about an hour and a half before the game. We come walking through there with orange on, and they went crazy. That's what it must be like to be an Israeli soldier walking through a horde of Palestinians.

"F--- Texas!"

"Hook this!" from a dude grabbing his crotch.

"Go the f--- home!"

"Steers and queers! Steers and queers!"

"A--hole! A--hole!"

I had some of the most beautiful women I've ever seen in my life walk up to me and tell me to f--- myself. Everyone had an obscene gesture for me.

As they say, words and gestures don't hurt, and they don't. Beer bottles do, though. They came flying. We dodged beer bottles and garbage for the next block. Someone succeeded in nailing my buddy in the shoulder with a can of beer. Someone else nailed him with some sort of barbecue sauce. We got the hell out of dodge before it got worse. I hear that they rioted after the game.

Needless to say, if a tornado buzzed Lane Avenue and destroyed every house on it, I wouldn't be alone in considering that a tremendous improvement. Get some class, Buckeyes.

Sheesh, the roughest thing I've heard outside a Vandy game was:

"2-4-6-8, Vandy players graduate!"

Tomorrow, I'll have my picks for this weekend's games.
Everyone's got a blog nowadays, and I'm no exception. I'm just as interesting as some people whose blogs I read, and I got an opinion on everything. Why not give it a shot?

I'm a 26-year old married guy living the dream in the heartland, where living is cheaper and people still like one another. My wife is hotter than a two-dollar pistol and smarter than you and me put together, which begs the question: how bad is her taste in men? Needless to say, I made out like a bandit.

She works during the day as a TA for the medical school at the local U, babysitting stuck-up med students. At night, she's a law student at the same U. Comparisons between med students and law students aren't even fair. Med students are the absolute worst, and it's not even close. She's got stories like you wouldn't believe.

I work as an analyst for a health insurance services company. Been there about a year. It's boring work, but it pays the bills and keeps me fed. That's no small feat, either. Before that, I put myself through college working for Big Brown, the package delivery company, for five years. That experience changed my life in more ways than I can articulate.

College? I attended Big State U in Texas, and got my MBA from Embarrassing Fourth-Tier State U in 2003. Which school is this? I won't say it by name, but suffice it to say that it's in the middle of Tennessee.

Working is how I pass the time when I'm not involved in my true passion: college football. If you're like me, there are only three sports out there worth following: football, spring football, and recruiting. I'd give anything to make a living from college football, be it in administration or gameday operations or ticket sales. You name it.

I spend my Saturdays in the fall in my recliner watching 13-14 hours of college football, from noon to after midnight. In fact, I've already made a spreadsheet showing this Saturday's games by kickoff and channel, sorted in ascending order. Geeky? I don't care. Can YOU follow eight games at one time? Can YOU name all 65 BCS school head coaches? I can. I did it once.

My favorite college football team, hands down, is the Vanderbilt Commodores. That is my wife's alma mater, and I didn't miss a game when we lived nearby. Up until this year, they were terrible year in and year out, last going to a bowl game in 1982. I've seen them lose games in one heartbreaking way after another, often defying logical explanation. We're undefeated this year, though, and currently stand at 3-0 going into this week's game against 1-AA Richmond.

I still follow Big State U, but they don't have my heart the way Vandy does. It's easy to root for the Big State Us of the world who win 80% or more of their games and pack 80,000+ into their football cathedrals to watch it happen. There's not much effort involved, honestly. To me, it is ten million times more rewarding to watch the Davids of the college football world, like Vandy, fight valiantly against the Goliaths. This year, David is winning.

More later on Vandy football. Now that you know a little more about me, I hope you'll visit often. I think this blog could be a fun thing.