Holidays In The Hoosegow

As we approach the Thanksgiving Day holiday, allow me to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and to hope that you spend a fulfilling day with family and friends. News events from earlier this week indicate that Michael Vick will not be doing that. Vick reported to jail in advance of his impending sentencing date next month. Forget all the statements made by Vick’s attorney regarding that decision; those are all self-serving morsels of nonsense. What I find sad is that Michael Vick – via his attorneys – came to the conclusion that it would be better for him to spend Thanksgiving Day in prison rather than to be with members of his own family.

In no way do I condone what Michael Vick did; it was barbaric and he deserves whatever punishment the judge hands down. At the same time, it is sad that his life has deteriorated to the point where a family-oriented holiday is sufficiently insignificant/meaningless to him that he might voluntarily choose to skip it in favor of jail time. You can hate his crime; you can even hate him for committing that crime if you choose; you might also feel sorry for him in this one small corner of his life.

About fifteen years ago, Leon Hess owned the NY Jets. Hess was a very rich man who was in his early eighties and he decided to change coaches for his team. As he announced his new coach, he said that the reason he chose that particular person for the job was that he wanted to win a Super Bowl and he realized he didn’t have too much time left. That’s why he hired Richie Kotite. I believe Kotite lasted two years with the Jets and left them with the worst record in the NFL. Hess eventually sold the Jets – never having won a Super Bowl obviously – and is now probably the owner of a team in that “other AFL”, the “Afterlife Football League”. Why do I tell this story? Well, Leon Hess just wasn’t fully in touch with reality at the time he made that hire and made that statement and now, today …

…We may have an analogous situation on our hands. Dan Patrick mentioned yesterday on his radio program that Al Davis told reporters he has no plans to step down as the Managing Partner of the Oakland Raiders and that he wants to win two more Super Bowls before he hangs up the sweat suit. That’s laudable; and frankly, I hope it is an indication that Davis is in better health than his appearance may lead one to believe. However, Davis went on to say that he thinks that the current incarnation of the Raiders is not all that far away from winning those two Lombardi Trophies in the next few years. And that’s where I have to get off the train and wonder about the possible psychedelic interactions of whatever medications he may be taking these days.

The Raiders are a mess at the moment. They are not receiving the scorn they might receive because the Dolphins are so horrid and because their neighbors across the bay in SF are imploding at the same time. Davis would need to exhume and then hire Merlin the Magician to make that team a serious Super Bowl threat in the next two years.

ESPN has a bad game for MNF this weekend. Those horrid Miami Dolphins travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers and the Steelers haven’t lost at home yet this year. You know how ESPN works to hype its games/products; and so, you have to give thanks that you don’t work there and are expected to come up with something to make that game smell anything other than putrid. Here’s an idea that will prove to you that advertising and promotional activities are not the way I made my living…

Pittsburgh lost a game last weekend that they should have won; the Jets are almost as bad a team as the Dolphins. Their season could deteriorate quickly if they lose this game this week to another bad team. So this game could be an homage to an old movie that may have been as bad as the Dolphins are this year – - The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

Yes, I know that dolphins are not fish and are actually mammals related to whales and porpoises. But do you think ESPN would let something that minor stand in the way of a hype campaign?

In the world of college football, the upsets from last weekend moved Kansas up the charts. In the past, I said that they had been fortunate in their Big-12 schedule because they had dodged Oklahoma and Texas; so when Texas Tech beat Oklahoma, I went to see how badly Kansas had beaten Texas Tech. Lo and behold, the Jayhawks didn’t have to play Texas Tech either. They must have a four-leaf clover stuck to a rabbit’s foot in the AD’s office out there.

The loss by Alabama to Louisiana-Monroe last weekend was a shocker. Please ignore the media hype surrounding Nick Saban’s remarks about losing football games relative to disastrous world events. Calling that media frenzy “much ado about nothing” is an insult to William Shakespeare. Forget all of that; but do not forget any of the following:

      Alabama finished their scoring very early against Louisiana-Monroe in the 2nd quarter. They were shut out for more than 40 minutes.

      With the game on the line in the red zone trailing by 7 with three minutes to go, Alabama had 3rd and two. Then they had 4th and two. Then the ball went to Louisiana-Monroe on downs.

      This is the third consecutive loss for Alabama whose record now stands at 6-5.

So, here is the burning question that needs to be asked to all the big moneyed Alabama boosters:

      Is this why you “went to the hip” – so to speak – to hire Nick Saban?

I have no idea how much money Nick Saban’s counterpart at Louisiana-Monroe is making to coach the team, but it can’t be anything near the multi-millions Saban is making. Maybe Louisiana-Monroe needs to make a “salary adjustment”? On the other hand, Louisiana-Monroe is the only team to have lost to North Texas this year… So again, you have to ask those Alabama boosters if that’s why they spent the big bucks to bring in Nick Saban?

And the mention of North Texas brings me to a discussion of the worst college football teams of the season. When Utah State beat New Mexico State, that left Florida International as the only winless team in the country with a 0-10 record. FIU has Florida Atlantic this week and ends the season playing North Texas (record 1-9 at the moment) in what will have to be this season’s version of the Rancid Bowl. The combined score of all the Florida International games this year is 395-120; they are a bad football team.

Duke lost to Notre Dame last weekend – scoring a meaningless TD in the final moments to avert a shutout – to run its record to 1-10. They finish their season against UNC who will show up for that contest with a mighty record of 3-8. Unless the game is close, lots of folks should be nodding off by the end of the third quarter.

SMU, Utah State and Idaho are all 1-10 while mighty Minnesota has ended its misery with a 1-11 season. Bad, bad, bad…and bad.

Wasn’t Cal supposed to be the #2 team in the country at one point? At the moment they have a 6-5 record and they lost to Washington last week. There are no polite adjectives that can work in conjunction with the Cal team and their season.

Louisville was also thought to be pretty good at one point this season. They are now 5-6 for the year and they lost by more than 5 TDs last weekend. That’s shameful.

No one ever thought Iowa would be in the BCS Championship Game but lots of the pundits thought they’d be “pretty good”. They closed out a 6-6 season by coughing up a hairball against Western Michigan. Oh well, at least it wasn’t Homecoming … oops, Iowa lost its Homecoming game too.

Temple plays Western Michigan this weekend. At the moment, Temple is 4-3 in the MAC and could have a winning conference record for the season with a win on Saturday. It has been a long time since Temple has had a winning record at anything in football; it’s a score I’ll look for on the crawl during Saturday’s televised games.

Guy Morriss was fired as the Baylor coach this week after five losing seasons there. He seems to fit right in; Baylor has had twelve consecutive losing seasons; so, it’s not all the clear to me why he had to go. In five years his overall record was 18-40 and his conference record was 7-33. There is a fundamental problem; Baylor is perennially overmatched in Big 12 football. They will have a winning season in that conference once in a while when a torrent of serendipity washes through Waco.

Finally, here’s a Thanksgiving comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Parting thought: I would like to wish everyone an early Happy Thanksgiving. It is believed the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. Coincidentally, that year marked the first NFL start for Vinny Testaverde.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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