Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Bye Week To Buy Game?

"Have I got a deal for you!"

Well, the big showdown in Austin will be taking place in a few days. I wish I could sound more enthused, but it’s hard to. See, I have a sneaking suspicion bad things might happen. Believe me, I want to be wrong, I need to be wrong…Lord, let me be wrong. But I have this terrible sense of foreboding, and here’s why:

This week was, as we all know, originally supposed to be a bye week for Tech. It was only after some flummox occurred in UT’s schedule that DeLoss Dodds phoned up Gerald Myers and asked if Tech would be interested in moving the game up to September 19, rather than its original date in late October. Now, seeing as how I hate UT more than a Baptist preacher hates sin, I’d have told Dodds to pound sand, but that’s just me. Instead, the crafty (ahem) Myers then supposedly wrangled Tech a great deal, not only allowing Tech to take part in a nationally televised game at prime time with UT, but also securing television coverage of the U of H game thereafter. I’ve read that the rationale for agreeing to this was the television exposure, which would be good for recruiting. Effectively, UT filled up a week for one of its “buy games” with Tech’s bye week. Considering a few things, I wonder if this was such a good idea.

Most agree that Tech is a team that tends to start slow. As I watched Tech’s finely tuned machine literally dismantle Oklahoma State last November, I had a hard time reconciling that with the stumbling, sputtering Tech team I witnessed just two months prior scrape out an ugly win against Nevada. Because of its many moving parts, this is an offense that takes time to gel. I suspect practice can only go so far…true game conditions are needed to hone it to sharpness.

Consider the fact that Taylor Potts has had only two games, against opponents far inferior to UT, to experience running this offense. Having witnessed Potts against Rice, I can say he has a much stronger arm than Harrell, but is nowhere near as accurate. He seemed a little unsure at times (having to call a time out before the very first snap of the game is a bit of a “tell” I think), he didn’t check off to the run as I recall Harrell doing, and overall, he just seemed to be indecisive; all completely unstandable, given his level of experience. Don’t get me wrong; I think he has a great deal of talent, and provides weapons Harrell just didn’t have - this dude can chunk that ball a long way. I just think he would benefit from more time and experience before going up against the Number 2 team in the country, on enemy turf, no less. Tech also seemed to be playing musical chairs with its offensive linemen, indicating more fine tuning was needed. The defense looked pretty decent, allowing only one touchdown (heavily aided by flags at that), but come on, it was Rice for God’s sake. I mean, I wouldn’t want our guys to have to take them on in a slide rule contest, but face it, but this is football, and they ain’t UT. Thinking about all of this, well, I get a little squeamish.

I’ve had people who know football much better than I do tell me that Tech’s best chance of winning against UT is early in the season, rather than later. Moreover, I’ve even had UT fans tell me now is the most opportune time for a Tech win because their running game stinks, their defensive line is weak, etc. I just don’t find much solace in these beliefs. I don’t know what to say other than this arrangement just doesn’t feel right.

But, here’s the thing I have to keep in mind: how likely is it that Myers would have agreed to this deal without the countenance of Coach Leach? Not likely at all. Leach is too smart, and certainly is desirous of a win, to risk a loss for some of the exposure and extra scratch a prime time game might bring. This man has taken us a long way, so I’ll trust his judgment. I just hope Mike is as smart as I think he is…a nationally televised butt whipping sure won’t help recruiting much, at least not for Tech.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

4th and Long - Week 1

Okay ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time the most wonderful time of the year got here! After a long, hot summer that’s burned about half of Texas up, it’s time for some football!


#16 Oregon at #14 Boise State (-4) – ESPN – The college football season gets started off with a bang in this matchup. Expect Oregon to pick up right where they left off under new coach Chip Kelly, and Boise State should have their usual high flying attack. Expect a wild, high-scoring affair in this game.
Boise State….49-45


LA-Monroe at #2 Texas (-40.5) – FSN PPV – Colt McCoy and the Longhorns should have no problem with LA-Monroe, but ask Alabama how that turned out a couple of years ago.

#20 BYU vs. #3 Oklahoma (-22) (Arlington) – ESPN – The first college game in JerryWorld should be a decent matchu of two teams with very good offenses. Expect OU’s defense to slow down BYU’s passing attack quite a bit, and BYU’s defense shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to OU’s offense.

#5 Alabama (-7) vs. #7 Virginia Tech (Atlanta) – ABC – The marquee game of Week 1 should be close, although I expect that Virginia Tech’s tailback depth (or lack thereof) will be the deciding factor in this one.

Navy @ #6 Ohio State (-21.5) – ESPN – The home opener for Captain Sweatervest and his team should be pretty uneventful (aren’t most games in the Big 11?), and Navy might scare them for a quarter, but that’s about it.
Ohio State….35-17

#13 Georgia @ #9 Oklahoma State (-5.5) – ABC – Ah, yes…it’s finally time to figure out if Okie Lite is for real. We’ll finally get the answer to the question of whether the Cowboys are pretenders or contenders, even though Georgia has a new starting quarterback and running backs. Expect Georgia’s defense to take away Dez Bryant with no solid #2 receiver on this team and no Brandon Pettigrew to keep them honest over the middle. And as we saw last year in the Holiday Bowl, no Dez Bryant means the Cowboys’ offense sputters.

#11 LSU (-17) @ Washington – ESPN – A new coach won’t save the Huskies in this one, even if Les Miles does make a couple of boneheaded coaching moves.

Maryland @ #12 Cal (-21.5) – ESPN2 – Cal has a lot of talent returning this year…expect Maryland to hang close for the first half, but they won’t have the horses to keep up with Cal down the stretch.

Nevada @ #23 Notre Dame (-14.5) – NBC – As much as I would like to see the Irish fall flat on their faces against the Pistol Offense, it won’t happen in this one…too bad Nevada isn’t playing at home, their thug fans would enjoy taunting the Notre Dame players and fans.
Notre Dame….35-21

Florida Atlantic @ #24 Nebraska (-21.5) – FSN PPV – Nebraska should have a fairly easy time in this one, even if they are breaking in Zac Lee at quarterback.

Northern Colorado @ #25 Kansas (NL) – FCS Central – Looks like Mark Mangino went back to the cupcake schedule philosophy that served them well in 2007.

Baylor @ Wake Forest (-2.5) – ABC/ESPN2 – Baylor gets the chance to show the country they are for real, and beating the Demon Deacons on their home field would give a tremendous boost to the Bears’ confidence early in the season.

Missouri vs. Illinois (-7) (St. Louis) – ESPN – While this game has been quite entertaining the last couple of years, expect this game to go in the Illini’s favor early and stay that way.

New Mexico @ Texas A&M (-14) – Although I don’t expect A&M to be very good again this year, the home crowd and the fact that they’re playing New Mexico should be enough to propel them to a season opening victory, unlike last year.
Texas A&M….24-17

North Dakota @ Texas Tech (NL) – Taylor Potts introduces himself to the Big 12 and the rest of the country with a huge first game performance against the hapless Fighting Sioux.
Texas Tech….66-14

UMass @ Kansas State (NL) – The return of Bill Snyder should be an easy W for the Wildcats.
Kansas State….45-14


#8 Ole Miss (-16.5) @ Memphis – ESPN – Ole Miss returns just about everybody from last year, and I don’t see any way that Memphis will hang with them in this one.
Ole Miss….48-17

Colorado State @ Colorado (-10.5) – FSN – Colorado is the enigma of the Big 12 North….who knows how good/bad they’ll be this year? Colorado State shouldn’t put up much of a fight in the first game since the schools decided to ditch playing in Denver and going back to home-and-home.


Miami @ #18 Florida State (-5.5) – ESPN – This game isn’t what it used to be, but Miami should be improved enough to hang with the Seminoles for at least a half.
Florida State….34-21

Thursday, August 20, 2009

4th and Long's 2009 Top 25

1. Florida – With Saint Tebow himself at quarterback, there’s no reason not to have the Gators at #1 to start off the year.

2. Oklahoma – The return of Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, and Gerald McCoy, who all would’ve been top 50 picks in April’s draft, helps anchor this OU team that should pick up right where they left off last season.

3. USC – I know, I know…I hate USC as much as the next fan, but they get ranked here by virtue of playing in the Slack 10.

4. Ole Miss – Ole Miss returns most of their key guys from last year, and after the whooping they put on us in the Cotton Bowl, I’m a believer.

5. Texas – Even though the Horns have Colt McCoy and his favorite fishing buddy Jordan Shipley on offense, the lack of a dominant running back and the graduation of Quan Cosby are going to have more of an effect than most of the orangebloods think.

6. Alabama – I know they’re breaking in a new quarterback, but Bama’s still one of the best teams in the country…even if their fans are a bunch of unrealistic lunatics.

7. Ohio State – The Big 10+1 should be fairly weak again this year, so the team lead by Captain Sweatervest shouldn’t have a problem rolling up a lot of wins.

8. Penn State – See comment above about the Big 10+1…hopefully we won’t be subjected to another 13-6 pillow fight with Ohio State this year.

9. Virginia Tech – The ACC is looking nice and weak this year as well, so the Beamer Ballers shouldn’t have too much of a tough road in conference play…watch out for the game with Bama though.

10. LSU – Maybe, just maybe, the Bayou Bengals can find a decent starting quarterback somewhere on that roster. Too bad Mike Leach isn’t the coach there, or he could just go around the corner to the 7-11 and find one. Les Miles ought to look into wearing a hat that’s actually the right size instead of one that’s about 3 sizes too small, it might save him from some of his typical bonehead coaching decisions…or not.

11. Oregon – Oregon’s favorable schedule and God-awful uniforms (duck wings, anyone?) should allow them to challenge for the Slack 10 title and possibly even run the table in conference play.

12. Georgia – Although they lost Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the NFL, the Bulldogs and Mark Richt (who I think is one of the top 3 or 4 coaches in college football) should be able to reload.

13. Oklahoma State – Ah yes, Okie Lite is this year’s media darling, and for good reason too with everybody they have coming back. The loss of Brandon Pettigrew will hurt more than everyone expects, and without a legitimate #2 receiver to take the heat off of Dez Bryant (hope you like being double teamed for the entire game, Dez!), I think the Cowboys will stumble. If they lose that first game to Georgia, sit back and get ready for the tailspin.

14. Georgia Tech – The weak ACC coupled with Georgia Tech’s option attack should allow the Yellow Jackets to have a great year and challenge for the ACC title.

15. Cal – Somehow, Jeff Tedford does it again…but don’t be surprised if the Bears slip a little bit with USC, Oregon, and Oregon State expected to be strong this season.

16. Boise State – We’ll know what Boise’s made of in their season opener against Oregon. They’re a slam dunk to win the WAC, so they could possibly run the table if they pull off the upset against Oregon in Week 1.

17. North Carolina – Butch Davis has been quietly building a solid team in Chapel Hill, and with what should be a fairly weak ACC this year, the Tar Heels should easily put up 8 or more wins.

18. TCU – Even though the Froggies return a lot of their key guys, I still don’t think they can keep it together for a full season and bust the BCS. I just wonder if Gary “Speed Baby” Patterson will go on another press conference rampage about how they get no respect if the Froggies do manage to beat both Virginia and Clemson on the road.

19. Florida State – The ‘Noles always have talent, but putting it together (and keeping some of that talent out of jail) has been the tricky part for Bobby “Diddy” Bowden here lately.

20. Utah – Utah lost a lot of key players from last season’s Sugar Bowl champion team, but Kyle Whittingham should keep them going strong.

21. Texas Tech – I would have us ranked higher were it not for our conference road schedule. That being said, I expect Taylor Potts to have a good yea, and if the defense steps it up from the level they played at last year (minus the OU and Ole Miss games), we could easily be in the top 15.

22. Iowa – Iowa should reap the benefits of a weak Big 10+1, although the loss of Shonn Greene will sting for a bit.

23. Nebraska – Who knows what Bo Pelini’s team will do in 2009? Sure, they should have a good defense, but with the quarterback question up in the air, that could hamper Nebraska in 2009.

24. Oregon State – With the slack 10 only having 4 decent or strong teams (USC, Oregon, Cal, Oregon State), the Beavers should rack up enough wins to stay in the top 25 for most of the season.

25. Kansas – The Jayhawks are loaded on offense, but if their porous defense doesn’t improve, they won’t win the Big 12 North. Their cross-division schedule against Big 12 South foes Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech doesn’t help either.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jerry piece or no?

I say yes, but then again I can't stand the Cryptkeeper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Riding the Moustache to Victory!

Recently, photos of Taylor Potts surfaced with him sporting a new look. Gone is the wooly-man lumberjack look. Say "hello" to the 70's style, funk-a-matic, porn-a-riffic moustache wearing badass! This was a very good move on Potts' part, for reasons I will detail below.

I've heard many people describe Potts' lip adornment as a "Handlebar" moustache. Wrong. As a product of the 60's and a child of the 70's (when the moustache reigned supreme), I feel it is my solemn duty to straighten you youngsters out a little. In general, let me first say that the moustache is greatness. Potts' stache' is greatness. Wilfred Brimley's stache' is uber greatness; it has a mind of its own. Chuck Norris would just be a TV assclown with a bad toupee were it not for his stache', which gives him his power. Know the stache'. Respect the stache'. Fear the stache'.

But too many people are mislabeling the stache' now sported by Potts. What Potts is wearing is not a handlebar moustache. A handlebar moustache turns at the edge of the mouth and curls up, and is usually twisted into a point, and sometimes waxed. This is a handlebar moustache (and a damned fine example of one too):

Obviously, the baddest Handlebar ever was worn by the great Rollie Fingers:

What Potts is wearing is a "Fu Manchu." A Fu Manchu turns down at the end of the mouth, and, if seen fit by the wearer, continues down. How far down is discretionary, but the farther down, the more of a bad dude is its wearer. I am eminently qualified to assess and categorize this stache' due to my existence during the 1970's, when this style of moustache was at its height of popularity. Dudes sporting the Fu Manchu were badasses. It was a way to tell off "the Man" without saying a word. A Fu Manchu didn't have to spring for dinner to get laid. A Fu Manchu said to the women "Hey, baby" and it didn't sound corny. To the guys, it just said "F**k you", and, it meant it.

Some fine examples of the 70's Fu Manchu were:

Baseball pitcher Al Hrabosky, the "Mad Hungarian" was a dude you didn't jack with.

Anybody cooler than this guy? (don't bother, your answer is irrelevent):

The awesome power of the Fu' carried over into the 80's. Lemme tell ya somethin', brotha, you didn't screw with a guy sporting one of these:

See? Hogan's stache' transcended time and easily carried over into the 80's. It's not a question of keeping it too long, it's really more an issue of not getting one early enough. Timing is everything, my friends. Case in point:

C' think anybody would have given a damn about a little bong hit if he'd been sporting this bad boy in Beijing? Forget about it! Hell, those self-righteous dorks who were pulling their endorsement contracts would have been lining up for a little toke themselves if this was the guy they'd signed with.

The power of the moustache does not just pertain to crosses all fields of human endeavor. Let's consider the arts. Who would buy this guy's psychotic sketches were it not for the badness of his stache'?:

Want some more? Ok: get a load of this crap. Let's face it, my 12 year old can paint circles around this dude's primitive scribbles:

What makes it sell? Yep, the stache': (It should be noted that Neiman's badass stache' not only helps him peddle substandard art, it also got him a gig in Rocky III, along with our friend Hogan discussed above. All such fortuitous casting decisions were cleary attributable to some cool as hell facial hair).

Certainly, the world of politics is no stranger to the power of the stache'. You want examples? Well, fair enough. This guy was a bedwetting, asthmatic, nearsighted mama's boy, and, it's rumored, maybe even a closet homo (not that's there's anything wrong with that). Yet, he grew up to be President of these fine United States:
Do we even need to ask how? No, we don't. (Collar stays were optional back then).

Of course, you recognize this little teutonic troublemaker. Can you imagine how bad it could have gotten had he let that abomination under his nose actually grow into a full-fledged Fu Manchu?

Not to worry, though. Many of you don't know this, but much like the Manhatten Project, we had a team of top scientists and barbers locked away in a bunker devising a counter weapon to Hitler's formidable semi-stache' power. This was the result:Thankfully, we managed to beat the Hun conventionally before we had to unleash the awesome power of this magnificent development upon the world.

The power of the moustache transcends man, and pervades the animal kingdon as a whole. This little dude weighs only 2.3 pounds, but he could really mess you up, and he gets all the females in the troop. One guess why:

The power of the Fu or the Handlebar in sports is inarguable. Many sports badasses, across all athletic disciplines, have invoked the power of the Fu or HB to their gain: Thurmon Munson, Catfish Hunter, Randy Johnson, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley (See? They didn't need no stinkin' steroids, they had the stache'), John Newcomb, Dr. J, Dale Earnhart, Joe Namath, Randy White, Kenny Stabler, Ben Davidson (one of my all time favorite football badasses). I could go on and on, but you get the point. Potts was correct to rid himslf of the full-blown beard. Some cool QB's have had beards (Dan Fouts, for example). But the moustache is far preferable as a statement of Potts' "badassedness."

So, there you have it my friends. I was buying into all the preseason predictions that had Tech with an 8 win season, until I saw this:

Again, let me reemphasize, while UT has this:

... Tech has this:

Now I know, a National Championship is all but assured. I can't wait for the season to start.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Enough Already!

We've all experienced things that start off being kind of amusing but then become old. Examples include that good looking girl you really want to nail but who talks non-stop, or the toddler in the airline seat in front of you who reacts in a funny way when you make the ubiquitous "a-boo" face at him. Know what I mean? After about 10 times, the kid's reaction isn't amusing enough to make you want to keep making a fool of yourself. Nevertheless, the little turd won't stop standing in his seat looking backwards at you. It gets old, real fast. Well, Mike Leach's zany antics are becoming somewhat tiresome to the Spudster.

This "negotiating" crapola has gone on far too long, and I'm leaning toward placing the blame on Leach for the delay. At first, I tended to believe the pro-Leach blather from such reliable sources of information as the Football Board on Scout (yes...that's a joke). What I've heard is that Leach's agent contacted Gerald Myers way back in April seeking to renegotiate and that Myers did not respond at first (bad move), and some time later, when he did respond, he supposedly told the agent "Sorry, but no more money. If he has a better offer elsewhere, well, bye" (worse move). Because I liked Leach, I tended to think any fault was with the administration, whom I figured was trying to be cheapshits in the situation. Now, I'm not so sure. Some of Leach's recent statements to the media, which he claims he does not want involved in the negotiations, but who he still comments to, have me doing a 180.

Right now, I'm pretty pissed at Leach. Of course, I love Tech winning more games than in the past. The fact that he didn't fit the good ol' boy mold was a big plus to me. I thought it was funny when he started the pirate thing. I guffawed (only people over 40 can "guffaw") when he did the TV weatherman bit. His off-the-wall disposition during interviews would sometimes make me cringe a little, but I still snickered. Now, I'm not quite so amused. You'd think after an 11-2 season, I'd be a little more grateful. But here's my problem: my alma mater's team got the crap beat out of them twice on national television. The OU loss, I won't necessarily lay at his feet. But Ole' Miss? That just looked like a situation where the team wasn't ready and Leach just got flat outcoached. What went wrong? I don't know, but maybe Ole' Coach Funnybritches should have been more focused on trying to beat a very good SEC team rather than placing his grill on 60 Minutes or embarking on his annual job hunt. I'm just sayin'.

It's the yearly job hunt that irks me the most. His looking around is as much a surprise as finding a boll weevil in a cotton field. If it's December, Mike's sure to be on the road, seeking another gig. I really can't blame anybody for wanting to improve his lot in life. Who is the Spud to say Mikie shouldn't reach as high as possible in getting his piece of the American dream? But hey, don't screw my school over while doing it. Tech already has to deal with the problem of being behind UT and A&M in several ways, some real and others only perceived. But Leach's yearly cheatin' heart act only serves to advance the concept that Lubbock is only a place you want to be from. It makes Tech look bad. Moreover, it can't help recruiting. At least one kid decided on another school over Tech citing his concern over whether Leach would be there next year. Assistant Coach Seth Littrell, one of Tech's best recruiters, recently announced he was leaving to go to The University of Arizona. Littrell mentioned the uncertainly of the Head Coach position as a factor. Thanks, Mike.

I'm well aware of all the arguments that can be made for him going to some bigger, fancier program. But when one considers Leach and his idiosyncrasies, the conclusion might be reached that he is in the best place possible for him. Leach is unconventional, and Tech pretty much lets him be so. Case in point: Leach reportedly hates alumni relations and fundraising. These are expected duties of a head coach at any big time program. Leach isn't required to do them. It was amusing to hear Leach's name bandied about when the job at Tennessee was open. It is difficult to imagine Leach at a Knoxville fundraiser, allowing himself to be grappled about the shoulders by some big Southern dummy while hearing "This here's gooood people!" I figure Ole' Mike would last about two years in that environment. Besides, Leach doesn't even look "corporate" enough for some big time program. Leach appears like he just got dragged behind a truck driving to the Goodwilll. Can you imagine Pete Carroll walking around his office wearing flip flops? The tobacco road bullshit artist down in Austin may have yellow teeth, but he doesn't walk around looking like a pile of dirty laundry. But Leach gets a pass. He is the King of Lubbock. Ok, there are certainly more prestigious kingdoms, but not many others where there's such a low risk of forced abdication. Leach probably never has to buy a meal, wait in line or fear a DWI. He can say what he wants, do what he wants, dress like he wants, tell the media to pound sand, blow off boosters, whatever suits him. Hell, they don't even make him play defense. Not a bad deal.

One thing that hasn't helped is that Leach employs the services of IMG as his agent. IMG is the Kimbo Slice of sports agencies. This is the same agency that represents such luminaries as Tiger Woods. And reportedly, they've been dealing with Tech as if Leach is Tiger Woods. Seems like you should have to win at least one championship before you get to retain the most obnoxious agents and have them big time people. But hey, as the old punchline goes: "Baby, the doctor say I'm impotent. Well, if you's impotent, you gotta act impotent and look impotent." IMG has done such swell things as contract Tech's Regents directly with offers and counter proposals, intentionally circumventing Hance, Myers and Guy Bailey in the process. Nice. Of course, that galled Myers to no end. The relationship between Myers and Leach has dissolved into something akin to two old ladies swatting each other with their purses in a fight over the contents of the bargain bin.

"How bad you want that buyout now, Mother *#@&er?!?!"

Of course, it's always about money. Reportedly, the school has offered in the neighborhood of $12.7 million over 5 years. The negotiations are allegedly bogged down over such terms as the buyout provision of the contract and the school's desire to terminate for cause if Leach interviews without permission during the life of the contract. The buyout provision is not abnormal, something like $300k per year for any remaining contract year...not particularly onerous. Given Leach's track record of looking around, one can hardly blame the Athletic Office for this figure. The termination for cause for interviewing is pretty harsh and not at all normal. But again, given that Leach is apparently as loyal as a tomcat, I'm not sure I can blame Myers for asking. There's supposedly also some impasse over Leach not wanting to have to answer to Myers, which of course, is downright childish; Myers is the AD for Christsakes. Similarly goofy has been Gerald's "hardball" tactics which would tend to piss off anyone with a modicum of ego. To me, all of this just stinks. What really hacks me off is that because of the delay, if Leach leaves now, our chance of getting a quality replacement is about as good as beating Mark Mangino to the last slice of pie. Thanks again, guys.

Leach has done much for Tech's program. He's brought unprecedented publicity to the school, some of it even good. But he's now doing harm. It maybe asking a little too much, but I'd like to see a little loyalty here, or at least concern from the man for what he's doing to the program and the school as a whole. If he wants to be here, great. Let's get the differences hammered out and the agreement executed. If he doesn't want to be at Tech, he should move it on down the line. Maybe his shtick will play as well elsewhere as it does in Lubbock. Maybe not.