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I'm Back

After many months away from all my sites, after many months of combining work with campaigning, after many months of doing no writing except for campaign blurbs and publicity pieces, I am very pleased and excited to share this important news:

I’m back.

Click to read more ...


Reflections on Louisville-Kentucky

It's the return of the Monday Morning Quarterback series, and what better way to start than by looking back at the 20th Anniversay Edition of the Governor's Cup (and yes, we know how to spell "Governor"). Let's get to it!

Click to read more ...


Kentucky Got Petrinoed

Yes folks, it's a new verb: "Petrinoed." It's what happens when you play a team coached by Bobby Petrino, and you're not ready for it. You get Petrinoed.

What are the signs that you are being, or have been, Petrinoed?

Click to read more ...


Hypocrisy at Texas A&M

Johnny Football is in the news again. But this time, as Paul Harvey used to say, there's the rest of the story.

Johnny Manziel, the Heisman-winning quarterback at Texas A&M, is accused of signing memorabilia for cash, which is clearly against NCAA rules. Allegedly, the NCAA is looking into the accusations, and could decide to suspend Manziel from playing in the coming season.

The NCAA rules are clear, and if Manziel actually did sign items for payment, he knew he was breaking the rules. What strikes me about this story, though, is the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by Texas A&M. From one of many news stories reporting on this:

The value of Manziel is clear in the memorabilia and appearance market: Independent merchandiser Aggieland Outfitters recently auctioned off six helmets signed by Manziel and Texas A&M's other Heisman Trophy winner, John David Crow, for $81,000. Texas A&M's booster organization, the 12th Man Foundation, sold a table for six, where Manziel and Crow will sit at the team's Kickoff Dinner later this month, for $20,000. (emphasis added)

So -- it's against the rules for a college football player to make money off his abilities while in school, but it's perfectly okay for the school to make even more money off the player? The school can grab 20 large ones from some sap of a fan, but Manziel gets busted for signing his name?

Manziel may wind up punished in some way by the NCAA. If that happens, I hope they go after the school and the booster organization as well. And if they don't, I hope Manziel sues them over the double standard, and brings the hypocrisy into the open. It's time for this double standard to end.


Gout, Food Allergies, Nitrates, and Cherries

As some of you know, I have suffered from occasional attacks of gout for years. They range from a day or two of a little pain and swelling, to full-blown, can't-walk, feel-like-a-migraine-in-my-foot attacks that last a week or longer.

My first attack came out of the blue many years ago, and when I tried to figure out what had caused it, the only unusual thing I could think of was that I had eaten an entire box of Hot-N-Spicy Cheezits. That wasn't too unusual -- I LOVE Cheezits, and I love the HNS kind especially. This time, though, I had really chowed down on them ... and a day or so later, I was dying from the pain.

I told my doctor about the Cheezits, and he looked at me like I was nuts. So, I figured I WAS nuts, and gave up on the Cheezits theory. Till it happened again.

Click to read more ...


Are Coaches Responsible for Their Players' Actions?

So today we learn that Urban Myer has suspended one of his players for three games following an alleged assault on a woman at a nightclub. Interestingly, the woman decided not to press charges, and the video evidence is relatively inconclusive. Even more interestingly, Myer's decision came after the case was dropped by the police.

So why did Myer issue the suspension anyway? And is there a larger issue here?

Click to read more ...


Saturday Geek: eM Client -- an Outlook alternative

For a long time, I have been frustrated with Outlook's lack of a unified inbox. There are workarounds, including automating a custom search (really, MS? I have to write a macro for this?), but even Outlook 2013 still is missing this basic feature.

Now, however, with all the various online sites I support, having to open each inbox separately (and remember to check them all) had just gotten to be too much. So, I went looking for an alternative.

Most people recommended Thunderbird by Mozilla (the same good people who bring you Firefox), but in the middle of one thread someone touted eM Client. Since I'd never heard of it, I decided to check it out -- and I'm glad I did.

Click to read more ...


Whistling in the Dark about UK

I think most Louisville fans are whistling in the dark about UK basketball next year.
You keep hear them talking about "they're too young" and "they don't have leadership" and "too many egos." And I think it's wishful thinking.

Click to read more ...


Dear Sports: Welcome to the 21st Century

"I'm gay."

A short, declarative sentence. A sentence said, in other contexts, many times a day. A sentence that most of us are no longer shocked by.

And yet, with that sentence, the sports world finally entered the 21st century.

Click to read more ...


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you know me, you already know what this is about. It's about being a college basketball fan in March. It's about March Madness.

It's about filling out brackets. Not "a bracket" -- BRACKETS. One for your favorite team to win it all (no matter how improbable). One for what you think is going to happen. And one filled with upsets, just for fun. Who knows? Maybe you win the Bracket Challenge on ESPN ($10,000!) or the office pool. Or you just get to rub it in with your friends and even a few so-called friends.

It's about

Click to read more ...


A Tainted Investigation

Most of us have watched enough law-and-order television that we understand the concept of "tainted evidence." If the blood stains were accidentally (or intentionally) mixed with someone else's blood, they are tainted and must be thrown out as evidence. If a confession was obtained through coercion, it is tainted and must be thrown out.

Is it possible for a prosecution team to screw up so often and so badly that instead of throwing out just the tainted evidence, the judge throws out the entire case? IANAL, but I assume that can happen.

It's not criminal law, and it's not your standard judge and jury, but the NCAA case against Miami is so badly tainted at this point, it should be thrown out -- by the NCAA itself.

Getting your main evidence from a convicted criminal with a grudge against the institution certainly shows a lack of judgment on the part of the NCAA. Using that criminal's lawyer to ask the questions shows an amazing lack of judgment. Firing the head of the enforcement unit, but proceeding headlong with the case regardless, shows an even more amazing level of hubris.

The NCAA has kept the University of Miami twisting in the wind for years, while it tries to piece together a case. Meanwhile, the University has self-imposed a number of penalities, and most of the coaches involved in whatever took place have moved to other schools. There is nothing to be gained by raising the curtain on the amateurish production that is the NCAA's case.

It is time for the NCAA to show the same level of humility that it expects athletes and coaches to show. It is time for the NCAA to admit it completely botched this investigation, accept Miami's self-imposed sanctions, and close the book on this chapter.


NSD == No Serious Determiner

OK, so the title is a stretch. Trying to come up with a decent alternative acronym on the fly that also relates to the point of your post requires more thought and coffee than I've got right now.

But, the basic point is still valid: As far as I'm concerned, National Signing Day has become a giant hypefest with very little real meaning.

For years, we have heard how so-and-so is a four-star recruit, or even - OMG!! a FIVE-STAR coming to OUR TEAM! We have heard how this team's recruiting class is ranked first, or fifth, or 37th, or 85th. (Actually, if the class is rated 85th, we don't hear anything, because the athletic department unplugs the phones, turns off the lights, and pulls the blinds.)

And you know what? In the long run, it doesn't matter. Not all five-star recruits become five-star players. Not all two-star recruits become also-rans. The schools with the top recruiting classes don't automatically get handed the championship trophy a year later. As the PTI guys say, that's why you play the games.

I'm also frankly offended by the hype. We put some 17-year-old on national television just so he can announce which football team he's going to play for -- not the college, necessarily, just the team, because that's all that matters -- and then we wonder why he gets the big head and becomes a "problem." I suppose you could see it as a reverse character test: if we give you everything in the world, can you still remain humble and grounded and teachable?

Don't get me wrong -- I understand the importance of recruiting. I just think we have blown it way, way out of proportion, to the point that 40-year-old men are groveling before 17-year-olds who haven't voted, paid taxes, or worked a full-time job. And then we put the whole thing on television, and moan or celebrate because that kid chose our school (really, just our team) or not.

So, I'll read the National Signing Day stories, and scan the ratings. Then, I'll make the same final comment I make every year when this happens: "Get back to me when they play an actual down."


Two Updates: Schedule and Possible Platform Change

I'm currently on a two-day writing vacation, doing some organizing and outlining and such. Two quick notes about this site:

(1) I have created an overall blogging schedule, and this site will get two regular features:

  • Monday Morning Quarterback, posted on (what else?) Mondays
  • Weekend Techie, posted on Saturdays

There will be other blog posts as well, of course, but I aim to do those on a regular basis.

(2) I'm thinking about moving this site to a WordPress platform, from its current Squarespace platform. I'm not unhappy with Squarespace -- far from it. I think it's a great platform. It's just that I've got a number of other sites on WordPress, and I'm thinking that it might be easier to keep everything on one platform. But, there's no rush, so at this point I'm just pondering.

Any and all comments welcome, on both items.


Being a Successful Jerk

Lots of storylines for this year's Super Bowl. Enough to keep the sports punditry industry happy for the next few weeks. I'm sure the incident that prompted this post -- Bill Belichick blowing off the post-game interview -- will soon be forgotten.

I have to note, though, that one of the things sports supposedly teaches is sportsmanship. Last time I checked, sportsmanship includes being gracious in both victory and defeat. And that includes crusty old curmudgeons like Belichick.

Most people will probably give Belichick a pass. Why? Because he's successful. If he was both a bad coach AND a jerk, people would be less likely to forgive. But, since he's obviously a great coach, the public tends to overlook his jerkness.

Not Shannon Sharpe. He called out Belichick after the game, calling his behavior "unacceptable." Guess what? I agree. If you're going to hold a leadership position, you take the good with the bad and you deal with defeat. Even if someone is being rude, you manage yourself appropriately.

Belichick is a great coach. He is probably a warm human being in certain circumstances. He is effective at what he does and does not suffer fools gladly.

But that doesn't give him a pass to be a jerk in defeat.


Coach-Speak vs. Strong-Speak

The past few weeks have been interesting ones for Cards and Vols fans. One school tried desperately to get someone to be its new coach, while the other tried desperately to hold on to its current one.

We've all heard coach-speak: "It's all about the players." "I am only focused on the upcoming bowl game." "This is the only job I'm interested in." And, if you've been a Card fan long enough, you remember the epitome of coach-speak -- Bobby Petrino telling everyone how happy he was here and how he planned on staying in Louisville for a long time, even as he was interviewing with Auburn.

So when Charlie Strong didn't knock down the rumors in his press conference on Monday, only saying that he would address things "at the right time" -- and then proceeded to compare Cards fans to that other school in Lexington -- many people assumed that he was both gone, and bad at PR.

As it turned out, HCCS was doing something new: honest-speak. He hadn't interviewed for the UT job, but he knew it was on the table. He wanted to give himself time to think it through; for someone who had always wanted to coach in the SEC, what bigger decision could there be?

And his comment about UK fans? Honest feelings, honestly expressed. Not the best way or the best timing, a fact that Coach would surely agree with. But, not coach-speak.

Most amazingly of all, when it came time to make the decision and to share it, we discovered a new depth to Charlie Strong. All that coach-speak about values, and family, and being there for the players, and investing in young men? It was actually real-speak -- our coach not only talks about those things, he lives them out.

I have to admit, over the past few years I have gotten somewhat jaded about college athletics. When college presidents and other so-called leaders can lie in order to get their school into a new conference -- a conference that makes no sense in terms of tradition or geography -- for the sole purpose of the Benjamins, it is hard to believe anything else they say. Ohio State, Penn State, Miami -- the list of big-time programs with big-time scandals just keeps growing. It's a big business, and often a shady one, and coach-speak just goes with the territory, like cheating.

So it was refreshing, and even inspiring, to have a coach turn down a big-time job offer for loyalty, and family, and of all things, student-athletes. We are fortunate to have Charlie Strong as our coach, and those young men are fortunate to be able to play for him. Thank you, Coach Strong, for restoring a little bit of the honor to college athletics, an area of endeavor in need to it.