Thursday, February 25

The Friday Random Ten+5 salutes the motherland (and hopes for a semi-Miracle On Ice).

I don't spend a tremendous amount of time following ice hockey, but I've been watching a lot of it during the Olympics, as the Slovak national hockey team has progressed steadily through group play and now the single-elimination playoffs. Slovakia, of course, is the motherland of my mom's side of the family, and they've bitchmade Russia and Sweden so far on their way to facing Canada tonight in the semifinals. Win, and they would face the winner of U.S.-Finland in the gold-medal match; lose, and they still have a chance to pick up a bronze medal in the consolation match on Sunday. Either way, it would be Slovakia's first medal in Olympic hockey since splitting from the Czech Republic back in 1993.

The team's run in Vancouver has been a source of ancestral pride, but it's hardly the only thing Slovakia has to be proud of, so I decided to devote this week's +5 to the motherland: Five Things You Might Not Have Known Were Awesome About Slovakia.

The Tatras
No, not the Ta-tas, perv. The Tatras are the mountain range that stretch across Slovakia's northern border with Poland and are the highest peaks in central Europe; having been to Slovakia about 10 years ago, I can attest that they are beautiful, and they're a part of the landscape just about wherever you go in the country. Maybe one of these days Slovakia will get to host the Olympics, and then we'll see who's got the raucous home crowds for hockey matches, Canada.

The Slovak resistance in World War II
Slovakia actually had one of the more active resistance groups during the Nazi domination of Europe at the height of World War II, and mounted a two-month-long rebellion against the country's collaborationist government in 1944. Even though the "Slovak National Uprising" was eventually defeated by a large contingent of Nazi troops sent into the country, it continued guerilla operations for another six months and kept the Germans busy until the Red Army could roll in and rout the last of the Nazi occupiers from the country in March of '45. (Granted, the Soviets turned out to be not that much better from a dictatorial-occupying-power standpoint than the Germans had been, but you take your victories where you can find them.)

They have an American football team
A few weeks ago, CBS's "Sunday Morning" did a segment about a league of teams playing American football in France and profiling some of the players who'd come over from the U.S. to play in it (one of whom, incidentally, was former Georgia QB Blake Barnes). Turns out there is an American football team in Slovakia, too -- the Bratislava Monarchs, who moved from the Central European Football League to the Czech League of American Football last year and went undefeated through their first regular season of CAAF play before losing to the Prague Lions in Czech Bowl XIII. (Yes, it's called the Czech Bowl. And yes, it is a league in which the Lions can win the championship. It really is kind of surreal.)

Tom Selleck
Tom's father, Robert, came to America from Slovakia before World War II, and his son went on to star as Magnum, P.I., for eight seasons, thus providing thousands of young men of my generation with an inspiring life goal: to live rent-free on a breathtaking Hawaiian estate, drive around in a tomato-red Ferrari, squire around a choice selection of the island's hottest women, and solve murders. I'm still working on that one, of course, though I do have a friend in Honolulu whose couch I can crash on once I finally decide to kick that plan into motion.

Slovak chicks
Slovakia meets the high standards of female talent set by the rest of the former Eastern Bloc, not only with the steady stream of supermodels they turn out each year but with a host of tennis players as well, such as Dominika Cibulková and Daniela Hantuchová, who was featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue last year. Slovakia spends a lot of time in the Czech Republic's shadow, but in this area, at least, they play second fiddle to no one.

The puck drops between Slovakia and Canada tonight at 9:30. I will be in front of the TV, and I'll have my jersey on.

The ten:

1. Thievery Corporation, "Encounter in Bahia"
2. Kraak and Smaak, "Squeeze Me"
3. Richard Cheese, "Butterfly"
4. The Pixies, "I Bleed"
5. R.E.M., "The Wrong Child"
6. The Farm, "Rising Sun"
7. Beck, "Ramshackle"
8. Erasure, "A Little Respect"
9. Alex Heffes, "Bukom Mashie"
10. Patton Oswalt, "Married & Single"

OK, so where are y'all's "people" from? Sing your homeland's praises in the comments (even if you can only trace them as far back as, say, New Jersey), and throw your own Random Tens in there while you're at it.

Those lyrics are going to haunt me.

"Archer" is just reruns tonight and "30 Rock" is obviously being pre-empted by the Olympics, so I thought you might need some surrealism to tide you over until the morning.

Monday, February 22

How to talk to (or about) an unemployed person.

I apologize for the relative dearth of new content on this blog over the past couple weeks. I blame it on a general malaise whose cause I'll get to in just a sec, though if you wanted to just translate that as "laziness" and leave it at that, I guess I couldn't argue with you. I would've liked to have had some news to offer on the ongoing job search, but there hasn't been much, certainly nothing meaningful.

In fact, I got kind of a nasty one-two punch in the last 24 hours: First, while I was filing my weekly unemployment claim with the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations on Sunday afternoon, a note popped up that this appeared to be my last week of eligibility for standard unemployment benefits and would I like to apply for the emergency extension that's been made available by the federal stimulus bill. I can't complain too much about that one, I guess -- after all, I'm lucky to have had that available to me at all, because it's certainly better to have it than not -- but still, that was a milestone I was really, really hoping I wouldn't have to cross. Then, this morning, I got the news that an opening I had applied for at Columbus Regional Healthcare -- and one that I was kind of excited about -- had been whittled down to two finalists, and I wasn't one of them. Ordinarily this wouldn't have been quite the punch to the gut that it was, since I've kind of gotten used to rejection over the very protracted course of this job search, but the thing is, my dad works for Columbus Regional, and if I can't even lean on nepotism as a way to land myself a job, then by that measure I'm actually less employable than Lane Kiffin.

Anyway. I've now been unemployed for more than seven months, during which time I've applied for probably around 100 jobs, some of them as close by as my hometown, others as far away as L.A. and Seattle. It has been an almost uniformly spirit-crushing journey, but one that has taught me a lot that I might never have learned otherwise. For one thing, I guess you could say that I've learned what it's like to technically be in a disadvantaged minority, and of all the things that suck about being in a disadvantaged minority, one of the worst is that people talk about you like you're not real.

The unemployment rate, the number of unemployed people, the number of jobs the American economy has added or lost in a given month -- these numbers get tossed around with a frequency that rivals football scores in the fall. And just like football scores, they are frequently used for the purpose of taunting and trash-talking. And until I'd entered the longest period of involuntary unemployment of my life, I had no idea just how demoralizing and infuriating that could be.

I've been rejected for around 100 jobs and on more than one occasion have barely scraped by in terms of paying my bills for a given month. So when I see a Republican Congressman or talking head crow on TV about how this Democratic bill or that Democratic bill have failed to make a dent in the unemployment rate, it really rankles me, as if they're actively rooting against my getting a job so that they'll have something to beat the Obama administration over the head with. It may be funny to you that the unemployment rate has stayed at such-and-such percentage in spite of everyone's best efforts, but as a member of that percentage, it's not much fun for me at all. And it's kind of shocking that these folks can't even take ten seconds to take a step back and observe just how joyous they look in proclaiming the news of my continued unemployment.

But the Republicans are hardly the only ones who don't get it. I get at least three e-mails a day from Media Matters or Democracy for America or some wing of the Democratic Party trying to pump me up and make me feel awesome that something the Democrats have done have created X number of jobs. That's great, and I certainly don't begrudge any of the people who've been able to snag one of those jobs, but obviously it hasn't trickled down to me yet. I don't know how to build fighter planes or bridges, and I haven't been to medical or nursing school, so I'm still out there looking. And looking. And looking. It's not like I expect someone to just drop a job into my lap -- though if any of y'all were thinking about doing that, you're welcome to do so -- but sometimes it seems a wee bit tone-deaf to get that excited about a supposed economic recovery when nearly 15 million people are still looking for jobs. Things might be getting better overall, but for me personally, I'm still in a deep recession, and the economy hasn't turned around for me until I'm pulling down a regular paycheck again. So it would be nice if fewer people in D.C. would act like all our problems are solved.

(The other thing I love is when one of those e-mails asks me for a donation because they just can't pass meaningful legislation without my support. You know, maybe I'm being cynical, but you've got control of the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress -- if you can't pass meaningful legislation with all that, then I doubt my five bucks is going to put you over the top.)

And believe me, I don't think for one hot minute that I'm stuck in the worst of it. I've got a roof over my head and two loving parents who have been generous enough to give me a soft place to land, and other than a mountain of credit-card debt that I freely admit I built all on my own, I don't have too many huge debts or obligations that are in danger of putting me under on a regular basis. But think about the people who have families, student loans to pay off, major medical bills for themselves or their loved ones, and who no longer have an income capable of keeping up with all this stuff. When you gloat over the success or the failure of an economic plan that's been passed by Washington, these are the people you're using to make your point. These are the people whose problems you're conveniently putting out of your mind so that you can score gotcha points against someone. And that is a shitty, shitty way for one American to be acting toward another.

We don't want to be your talking point. We don't want to be in your rah-rah press release. We don't want to be your billy club for you to bash the other side with. We don't even want you to turn around and offer us your pity, because that and two bucks will get us a tall coffee at Starbucks. All we want is the opportunity to go to an office or factory or store or whatever for eight hours a day and earn enough money to feed, clothe, and house ourselves. (Think about what little that is to ask: We're only asking for the ability to go do something most of us don't even like to do, and wouldn't do if we didn't have to.)

So keep that in mind the next time you're tempted to use me, or any of the 14,799,999 Americans as of last month, to score points against someone on the opposite side of the aisle from you politically. If you're going to crow about the failure of a given job-creation plan without offering any better ideas as an alternative, or crow about the success of a given plan without offering anything other than "Stay the course, our work here is done" as a follow-up, you may be helping yourselves but you're sure as hell not helping us. All you're doing is getting us really, really pissed off.

Rant over, because it's time to hit up the job sites again. And if any of them finally come up a winner, rest assured you'll hear about it here.

Friday, February 19

The Friday Random Ten+5 takes a few stars off the flag.

All right, Utah, what the frack?

A plan is circulating under the radar in the Utah State Senate to share the holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., shot to death in 1968, with one of the country's most famous gun makers.

The plan is to rename the holiday, which falls on the third Monday of January, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr./John M. Browning Day, adding the gun manufacturer whose birthday also falls in January.

Is this going to be the start of a trend? Will the banks get a day off in October for Columbus/Remington Day? Will Presidents Day celebrate Washington and Lincoln and Smith and Wesson? Or do only black guys have to share their birthday commemorations with gun manufacturers?

That's it, Utah -- your statehood is officially downgraded to probationary status, with full statehood only being restored once this stupid-ass piece of legislation is voted down and consigned to the Smithsonian Institution's American Museum of Bad Idea History along with the Bay of Pigs invasion, New Coke, and the BCS on Fox. And if this thing does somehow get passed, you're being knocked back to a territory again. A territory! In case you haven't guessed, this week's +5 is Five U.S. States That Should Have Their Statehood Rescinded:

Seriously, I'm having trouble figuring out what purpose this state serves other than being a Mormon barrier of puritanical morality standing between us and Vegas. Rescind Utah's statehood, annex them into Nevada (which they kind of almost were to begin with), and we'll have that problem out of the way, plus we will have reduced the amount of whining about mid-major conferences not getting automatic bids to the BCS by about two-thirds. On that note, I had a dream last night that I was on the sidelines at a Utah football game, and I was yelling about the Utah players chop-blocking everybody, and their coach came all the way over to my side of the field to read me the riot act about it. Screw you, Utah, for invading my subconscious.

I can concede that the Lone Star State has its good points -- Austin, cheap airfares on Southwest Airlines, the cheerleading squads of its professional sports franchises -- but good lord, people, get over yourselves already. You fight one war of independence from Mexico, and all of a sudden you think you're hot shit, all "biggest state in the lower 48" and "you know, our constitution gives us the right to secede and form our own nation" and blah blah blah. Yeah, you think just because you managed to wriggle your way out of the crushing grip of a global superpower like Mexico, you're all ready to become an independent nation? Call me when you win the fight to secede from China or Pakistan or something. It's long past time we night to knock Texas down a peg or two by splitting it right down the middle and turning it into the third- and fourth-biggest states in the continental U.S. (Oh, and even now, Texas would be only the seventh-biggest province in Canada. I didn't want to have to whip that out, Texas, but you kind of drove me to do it.)

South Carolina
My favorite beach, Edisto Island, is located in South Carolina about halfway between Charleston and Hilton Head, so this smarts a bit. But jeez, South Carolina, y'all have really been bringing the crazy lately. You had the Confederate-Flag-flying-over-the-state-capitol controversy, the Miss Teen USA embarrassment, the governor telling everyone he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was really jetting down to Argentina to nail his mistress, and, of course, everything associated with Bob Jones University -- and now you've got a state legislator proposing to ban U.S. currency and only allow the use of silver and/or gold coins. Yup, when you walk into a bar to buy your little airplane bottles of liquor, you'll only be able to use doubloons or pieces of eight, evidently. I did leave my heart in Edisto, so I can't bear to kick y'all out of the United States completely, but you haven't in any way proven the maturity level necessary to be a separate Carolina, much less an independent, self-governing U.S. state. I think we need to put y'all in time-out by absorbing you back into North Carolina -- which, to be fair, is not exactly a bulwark of sanity itself -- until such time as you can prove you're sane enough to govern yourselves.

I remain highly skeptical that anyone actually lives in Delaware; really, it's just a big tax haven for the credit-card companies that somehow ended up with its own license plates. I think we've only been allowing them to live this charade because they were the first state to ratify the Constitution, but so what? Would you give unlimited, uncensored commenting abilities to the worthless, drooling jagbags who leave "FIRST!!!111!!11!!" comments on your blog? Yank statehood away from them, annex the state into Maryland where it belongs, and make MBNA pay its fair frickin' share already.

Yes, the 49th state has untold natural beauty and some of the largest oil and natural-gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere. It's also got fewer than 700,000 residents -- fewer than the number who live in the Birmingham metropolitan area, yet with a far greater proportion of them who are, quite frankly, completely insane -- knocking around in more than 1.7 million square kilometers of real estate. Just for comparison's sake, that makes it more sparsely populated than any independent nation on earth and all but two of its dependent territories; even the disputed territory of Western Sahara is several times more crowded than Alaska. Plus the state is one of the biggest leeches of tax revenue in the entire country, sucking up a buck eighty-four in federal spending for every dollar they contribute in taxes. (And these are the people who complain the loudest about how much money the government wastes.) I think we can exploit Alaska's wealth of natural resources just fine without granting them the full privileges of statehood. You got a problem with it, go bitch to your next-door neighbors in the Yukon.

By my count, this plan puts us at 47 states, so I say we go ahead and give statehood to D.C., Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, just so we don't have to change the flag. Problem solved. No, no, you don't have to thank me.

And now the Ten:

1. Röyksopp, "Tristesse Globale"
2. Dimitri from Paris, "Sacre Francais"
3. The Fugees, "The Score"
4. Orbital, "Halcyon + On + On" (live)
5. Eric B. and Rakim, "Casualties of War"
6. George Michael, "Waiting For That Day"
7. Air, "All I Need"
8. Perez Prado, "Mambo #8"
9. Happy Mondays, "The Boys Are Back in Town"
10. Yello, "Oh Yeah"

Your Random Tens and recommendations for states that need to have their statehood yanked, either temporarily or permanently, are welcome in the comments.

Friday, February 12

The Friday Random Ten+5 stares into the abyss, and finds five incredibly annoying people staring back at it.

Years ago, sportswriter (and #34 on the Most Loathsome List) Mitch Albom wrote some book called The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which supposedly was about a dude dying, going to heaven, and meeting the five people who had the biggest impact on his life and the person he became, even if he didn't know it at the time. I'd like to think that if that stuff actually happens, Jim Fletcher, the teacher whose funeral I went to yesterday, would be one of my five. But that's only if the afterlife is as Albom describes it, and since nothing else I've read of Albom's describes a world that exists in any kind of reality as I know it, I have to conclude (until shown otherwise) that he's full of crap about the Five People thing, too.

No, more likely we get sent to hell and have to confront the five people who played the biggest roles in turning us into the bitter, resentful, pissy people we became as adults. Then we have to hang out with them for the rest of eternity -- in a crowded chain restaurant in some tourist-trap of a town, with a waiter who can't get our orders right, seated next to a family who won't keep their obnoxious kids from running around and making noise. It's not a pretty picture, but it's more relatable, at least. And that's the inspiration for this week's +5: When I finally get around to writing my counterpoint to Albom, these are going to be the Five People I Meet In Hell.

Tom Cruise
Ever since I was little, I've loved airplanes, and when I was young I desperately wanted to be a pilot. These aspirations came to a head in the summer of 1986, when my dad took me to see "Top Gun," the first movie I'd ever been allowed to see with a whole lot of cussing in it. Not more than a few months later, I took the Ishihara Color Plate Test and failed miserably, determining that I was red-green colorblind and thus would never fly for the military, NASA, or any reputable airline. A part of me will always associate Maverick with that disappointment; the other part of me will associate him with turning into a fucking loon around 2005. What happened to you, Tom?

Jennifer from the seventh grade
The first time I ever told a girl I liked her, also not coincidentally the first time I got rejected. And by "told her I liked her" I mean "got her best friend to tell her," and by "rejected" I mean "according to her friend, she wrinkled her nose up in disgust." I've had an intense fear of rejection ever since, and am frequently a nervous wreck around women I'm attracted to -- except for Hooters waitresses and exotic dancers, oddly enough. Totally comfortable in those environments. I don't know why that is.

Newt Gingrich
They say that most people get more conservative as they get older; if you're curious as to why I haven't, you need only look to this guy, who set out to prove everything George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm was spot-on almost from the minute he took over as Speaker of the House in 1995. I mean, my politics have always leaned to the left, but it was this dicklick who really hardened me from a liberal-leaning bleeding heart into an angry, bitter commie pinko. Seriously, nailing a Capitol Hill staffer even while you're impeaching a sitting president for getting blown by an intern? I hate to think my political motivations have devolved completely from "make the country and the world a better place" to "wipe the smug grin off [insert political opponent here]'s fat-fuck face," but if they have, Newt's historical footnote of a Speaker tenure was probably the point where it started.

Quincy Carter
If the stuff I write about Georgia football frequently comes across as morose and fatalistic -- even when good things have happened, as if I'm sitting there biting my nails, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, like a Michigan fan -- His Quincyness is the reason. One of the top recruits in the country in 1998, scored a major coup for Georgia by backing out on his commitment to Tech and coming to Athens, was touted as a sure-fire superstar -- and then proceeded to pile-drive his career into a pit of interceptions and head-slapping mental errors. Instead of starting slow and then maturing into a fearless field general, Quincy led us to nine wins as a true freshman and regressed steadily from there, to the point where he didn't even take the field in the last four games of what would turn out to be his final year. They say that was because of "injury," but I suspect it had more to do with the "Pineapple Express"-caliber weed stash he supposedly had in his possession. Either way, it doesn't matter -- from that point on, every win, no matter how amazing, and every blue-chip recruit, no matter how highly touted, has been a source of joy and anxiety in equal measure. And don't even get me started on the Redskins.

My boss when I worked in Atlanta
After a mostly ineffectual year in Lynchburg, Virginia, at my first job out of college, I was offered a job in Atlanta and jumped at it the way the Uruguayan rugby team probably jumped at their first taste of non-human meat after being rescued in 1972. Everything went fine for a year or so, and then somebody lobbed through the window a grenade marked "office politics": the investment company that had been brought in to keep the place afloat started making major changes, a brief power struggle ensued between that company and my company's founder, and my boss, who'd been dating said founder nearly the whole time, went a little nuts. That experience taught me that any job, no matter how much you might love it at first, can devolve into "I'm just doing this to be able to pay my rent" at any moment and without any prior notice. Tell 'em, Biggie.

And now the Ten:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "Vulnerable" (Public Eye dub)
2. A Tribe Called Quest, "Description of a Fool"
3. The Chemical Brothers, "Where Do I Begin"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Being Boring"
5. Röyksopp, "Remind Me"
6. Neon Heights, "Again"
7. Deee-Lite, "Build the Bridge"
8. Toto, "Africa"
9. Michael Jackson, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
10. Patton Oswalt, "Death Bed"

Your turn! Throw your Random Tens, and/or the five people you're likely to meet in hell, in the comments thread.

Thursday, February 11

The man who knew too much.

There are a lot of things the world needs more of right now -- renewable energy, diplomacy, decent-paying jobs, non-surgically-enhanced boobs -- but above all, what we need more of is smart people. Specifically, smart people who aren't afraid to be smart. And we need one more than we did Monday, because one of the best of them, Jim Fletcher, died of a heart attack that night. Mr. Fletcher was my humanities and AP English teacher my senior year of high school, and was probably the greatest teacher I've ever had, at any level.

Because of Mr. Fletcher, I know about Greek culture and all the things they did that still influence us today; I know about the ways in which Western culture and art was preserved throughout the Dark Ages when any kind of written historical record or learning was at a premium; I know how the Renaissance got started and how it morphed into the other artistic and cultural movements that came after. I can walk into an art museum, look at a painting, recognize what style or "ism" it is, and understand how that reflects what society was going through at the time it was created. Mr. Fletcher not only taught us about all those things, he taught us why they mattered.

But I don't want to make it sound like he was some effete snob who shut himself up inside his house with his classics, completely disdaining everything about modern culture. At the end of a long unit on the Dark Ages, he showed us "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in class; for those who were interested in learning more about the 1960s while we were reading Slaughterhouse-Five in class and discussing that decade's various cultural upheavals, he invited us over to his house to watch "Easy Rider" and "The Graduate," which was the first time I saw either. He rarely shied away from discussing difficult or controversial topics in class, because for all his sarcasm and irascibility -- which, to be sure, became the stuff of legend throughout the Columbus teaching community -- he gave us credit for being strong enough to handle that stuff unless we showed otherwise.

If we did show otherwise, of course -- whether it was by making a stupid comment in class or just getting caught napping in the back of the room -- we'd get called out for it in the most ego-shriveling manner possible. I can't recall a single time Mr. Fletcher yelled, or even raised his voice, at anyone; he'd just shake his head and mutter something about one of us needing to ride the short bus to school. "Wetumpka Tech," i.e. the only college we'd get accepted to if that was the best we could do, was another one of his favorite catch-phrases. He enjoyed verbal sparring with his students from time to time, but I rarely saw anyone get the better of him, and I can't recall a specific instance in which I enjoyed that privilege myself.

But in spite of the legend that had been built up around him over his 26 years at my high school, that kind of acidity wasn't his standard teaching M.O. It was OK if you didn't understand a concept the very first time. It was even OK if you didn't like a book or a piece of music or a style of art we were discussing in class. The only thing that was guaranteed to not be OK was not caring, was not wanting to know more. Differences of opinion were perfectly fine in his classroom, often even encouraged. Apathy was the biggest no-no.

That, even above all the other things Mr. Fletcher gave us, was the most important -- the belief that knowledge was a good thing to have, that an awareness of one's history and culture was important, that willful ignorance was to be ridiculed, not celebrated. You'd think that'd be an obvious virtue, but look around you at all the people who go into life with a "Don't confuse me with facts when I've already made up my mind" attitude, the people who condemn anything the least bit edgy or challenging as dangerous to society, the people who'd mutter "faggot" if you tried to spark any kind of conversation about art or literature. There is a certain segment of society who not only don't know anything more about the world around them than the prejudices and assumptions they've already created, but whether because of fear, laziness, or resentment, they don't want to know anything more. But Mr. Fletcher did his part to help mold entire generations of kids in Columbus, Georgia, who were worldly enough to resist that.

Mr. Fletcher leaves behind a wife, kids, stepkids, and grandkids who are all going to miss him very much, but he also leaves behind hundreds, maybe even thousands, of former students who remember the gifts he gave them vividly enough to know what the next few generations will be missing. That may be the saddest thing about all of this -- the fact that the kids who come through Hardaway after us will never know what it feels like to be made smarter by James T. Fletcher. That was a pretty special privilege.

The word "elitist" gets thrown around a lot these days, so much so that it's started to lose any meaning. And the people who seem to be throwing it around the most are the ones in that group I mentioned earlier, the willfully ignorant who don't want to know anything more than what they've already decided. I'm sure they would've found Mr. Fletcher to be irredeemably elitist, too, had they ever met him, but Fletch didn't think he was better than other people based solely on their taste in art or music, their appearance, their political convictions, or any of that. The only people he thought he was better than were the people who didn't care enough to want to know more. If that makes both him and me elitist, then I plead guilty on behalf of the both of us. But I think it's the kind of elitism the world needs more of, and for helping to create more of it, Fletch has my gratitude.

Sunday, February 7

The gift that keeps on giving.

Chan Gailey may have been a head-scratcher of a choice to be the Buffalo Bills' next head coach -- at least to those of us in the state of Georgia -- but it's been a good thing for the Dawgs so far:

First he hired Giff Smith, the recruiting coordinator who’d constructed the 2007 recruiting class that propelled Georgia Tech, as coached by Gailey’s successor, to the 2009 ACC title. (Since you asked, Tech is still paying off Gailey’s contract.) Now he has hired George Edwards, whose term as Florida’s defensive coordinator lasted only slightly longer than Urban Meyer’s stint as Florida’s former coach. (And Gailey, as we know, is a Gator alum.)

Bradley concludes with the perhaps not-so-rhetorical question:

Over the six seasons Gailey tried and failed to beat Georgia as Tech’s head man, it was occasionally suggested he might actually have helped the Bulldogs more than he did his team. (Half those losses defied belief.) And now, given this latest flurry, it seems prudent to ask:

Is it possible Chan Gailey has been a stealth Georgia fan all along?

I don't know the answer to that question, but you know what? I'll take it.

Friday, February 5

The Friday Random Ten+5 makes its 28 days count.

I've had a surprising number of people tell me recently that February is the month they hate the most -- surprising, I guess, because it seems wasteful to spend that much angst on the month that occupies the fewest days out of the year. On the other hand, though, I guess I can see where they're coming from: It's always cold; the weather sucks; it's got Valentine's Day plopped right in the middle of it, which, even for people in relationships, is one of the more insufferable holidays; and hanging over our heads is the constant reminder that the Powers That Be picked the shortest month of the year for Black History Month, which is just some incredibly racist shit.

But if you keep an open mind, you can find some stuff to like about February other than the fact that it'll be over with quicker than any of the other months. You actually don't have to look too hard, either; I didn't, and I still managed to come up with this week's +5, Five Things To Look Forward To In February. You can start off by congratulating yourself that you made it through January, which really sucked. But anyway:

The Super Bowl (this Sunday)
It's always bittersweet when actual football finally comes to an end. And as a fan myself, I find it especially cruel that the Super Bowl comes so soon on the heels of National Signing Day, a reminder of the kind of stupid bullshit that we're all supposed to go bananas over if we're going to make it through the offseason. But if the season's gotta end, it might as well do so with a bang. And this year's Big One promises to be one of the better games we've had in quite a while; hopefully the ads will be, too, because they've kind of stunk the past few years. But either way, it's still a chance for nuts like myself to get together with fellow fans, raise our glasses to the greatest sport in human history, and place a prop bet on something incredibly stupid like whether the national anthem will last longer than two minutes.

The 2012 Winter Olympics (February 12-28)
I can sort of sympathize with Kyle King here: The Winter Olympics isn't football. But if you're willing to look past that, it's a lot of other things that are good in their own way -- bobsledding, hockey, people sledding downhill face-first at 80 miles an hour, American athletes flexing nuts at a whole host of different sports, and people from all over the world coming together for purposes other than blowing each other up, which is an unfortunately rare thing these days. And even if there's absolutely nothing else on the schedule that interests you -- not even a bunch of people saying "aboot" -- you can always tune in on the evening of Sunday the 21st to stare at Tanith Belbin (above), medal-winning ice dancer and absolute hottest skater ever. I'm just planting seeds here.

Carnaval (February 13-16)
As for the 2016 Olympics, if you're still fuming over Chicago getting snubbed in favor of Rio de Janeiro, consider: Here's what's going on in Chicago right now, while in Rio they're downing caipirinhas and watching women parade down the streets in costumes like the one above. Nothing against Mardi Gras, but Carnaval is maybe the biggest and best party anywhere on the globe -- it's like Mardi Gras, but on steroids, and instead of girls flashing their boobs for beads, the dancers and "samba queens" start out with barely a stitch on, as a matter of course. Eliminating the middleman, like, which is the kind of efficiency we could all learn a lesson from. One of these days I'm going to save up the money to fly down there, with my biggest worry (besides getting mugged) being that I might not come back. (In the meantime, though, perhaps one of you who isn't at work right now can click here and explain the physics of this to me.)

Presidents' Day (February 15)
Woo, federal holiday! Which means some of you get the day off! For those of you who don't, well, I don't know what to tell you. Being unemployed, pretty much every day is a day off for me.

"Cop Out" (February 26)
Yes, I know: This movie's probably going to be retarded. But it's directed by Kevin Smith, and has Tracy Morgan being, well, Tracy Morgan for a couple hours, so by the end of February I am almost certain I'll be able to turn my brain off for long enough to enjoy it. Besides, this being a notoriously slow time of year for movies, what else are you gonna watch besides this and maybe the Scorsese movie that's coming out? "Valentine's Day"? "The Wolfman"? I think Spencer Hall had the right idea about that last one.

There, see? You now have an itinerary. Don't say I never gave you anything. And now, the Ten:

1. A Tribe Called Quest, "Award Tour"
2. U2, "Gone"
3. Elbow, "Flying Dream"
4. The Chemical Brothers, "The Private Psychedelic Reel"
5. Moby, "Oil 1"
6. The Strokes, "Last Night"
7. The Supremes, "Reflections"
8. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two"
9. U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (Live from Sarajevo)
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Yesterday, When I Was Mad" (Coconut 1 12" mix)

Your own Random Tens and things you're looking forward to this month -- or, alternatively, reasons you'll be ready to jump out in front of a bus before the 28th rolls around -- are welcome in the comments.

Tuesday, February 2

The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: the top 10.

We've gone through #s 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, and 20-11, and now we're at the lowest of the low, the bottom of the barrel, the vilest people operating in college football today. Strap in, because the Top 10 begins with . . .

10. You
Charges: In any given season, there are any number of coaches, players, commentators, or other participants who do their part to besmirch the greatest sport in America, but let's face it: There's only one common thread running through all of them, and it is that you won't stop fucking bitching about them. You scream "traitor" at the top of your lungs and call down the wrath of God when your coach leaves your program for a better opportunity elsewhere, then immediately start hunting for an up-and-coming program whose coach you can steal. You hype naive 18-year-old kids as Christlike saviors every January, but immediately condemn them as worthless, overrated punks the minute they sign with any program that isn't yours. (As for the ones who do sign with your team, you save the condemnation until they lose their first fumble, at which point it's time to pull their scholarship and slap their mothers for even giving birth to them.) You take time that could be used to feed the homeless or read to your children and instead spend it firing off indignant e-mails to columnists as if your team were somehow owed the title of Greatest Program In Sports History. And you hurl obscene trash-talk at opposing fans of all ages, only to go home and whine about how "classless" the other team's fan base is. Wow, you know what? Without you, this sport might be damn near perfect.
Exhibit A: Go to's sport section and check out any comment thread relating to college football. (Or anything else, really.)
Sentence: The federal government takes over Division I-A and decides to determine the national championship via a written exam.

9. Joe Barton
Charges: An overgrown Campbell's Soup kid who would make de Tocqueville spin in his grave, the not-all-that-distinguished gentleman from Texas's 6th congressional district is basically Orrin Hatch's House doppelgänger on football-related matters, only with half of Hatch's manners and a tenth of his intellect. Barton's Capitol Hill hearings on the legality of the BCS this past spring were a study in incoherence, with Barton comparing the BCS to "communism" in spite of the fact that it's Barton and his gang who want the government to step in and start calling the shots in a system that's currently run by the free market and pretty much nothing else. And just to make sure we were all aware of what a farce it was, Barton left his own hearing early, issuing an ominous warning that if CFB officials didn't move toward a playoff in two months, he and the rest of Congress would do it for them. That was nine months ago, and he hasn't done squat (for which we can all be very thankful).
Exhibit A: This doesn't have anything to do with football, but it does give you an idea of the level of brainpower we're dealing with here: In a March hearing on climate policy, Barton warned that a large-scale shift to wind-based power might "slow the winds down" and heat up the planet.
Sentence: Traded to North Korea the next time we have a prisoner we're trying to release from there.

8. Mark Mangino
Charges: In a way, the disgraced Kansas Jayhawks ex-coach deserves a kind of grudging respect: As hard as it is these days to lose one's job just for being an asshole -- look at Sean Hannity, Rahm Emanuel, and Lane Kiffin -- Mangino actually pulled it off. The offense that finally got Mangino bounced out of Lawrence was a truly hair-raising series of emotionally abusive tirades against players, but the truth is that was only part of a pattern of petty rageaholism going back all the way to his single season as head coach at a high school in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, where a group of parents went to the school board and demanded he be fired for his obscene, abusive language. It would be easy to shrug one's shoulders and say that Mangino's offended players need to man up a little, but cheap shots such as "Are you going to be a lawyer or do you want to become an alcoholic like your dad?" or "If you don't shut up, I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies" (to a player whose own brother had been shot in a gang-related incident in St. Louis) -- particularly for something as minor as a dropped pass -- are the kinds of insults no adult person should have to take off of anyone, much less this childish, hate-filled Weeble of a man.
Exhibit A: After getting ticketed for repeatedly parking his big-ass SUV in loading zones and other restricted areas all over campus, Mangino tracked down the student parking-services employee who'd written him a ticket and cursed him out in public for 10 minutes. Shockingly, there is no record of Mangino ever being issued another ticket again.
Sentence: Permanently shackled just out of reach of a Hardee's 2/3-pound Monster Thickburger.

7. Mark May
Charges: If Webster's ever needs a visual aid to place next to their entry for "pompous," a head shot of May should do just fine. In an industry where being convinced of one's own brilliance is the rule rather than the exception, May still manages to take arrogance to another level, demonstrating a complete inability to disagree with or criticize someone without doing so in the most sarcastic, patronizing manner possible. And yet as convinced as he clearly is of his own fearless brilliance, he rarely does anything other than obediently parrot whatever meme or storyline ESPN is dead-set on pushing at the time (watch him levitate with indignation anytime someone dares to suggest USC is less than perfect, for example). Next to him, even Lou Holtz is almost watchable.
Exhibit A: Rolls his eyes at his own colleagues on camera like he was Al Gore in the 2000 presidential debate.
Sentence: Demoted to calling monster-truck rallies and maimed by a tire flying off a wrecked truck into the press box.

6. Jim Delany
Charges: You can't exactly blame the Big 10 commissioner for doggedly safeguarding the interests of his conference, even at the expense of other leagues -- it's a business, after all -- but Delany seems to have turned that responsibility into a nationwide crusade to sap college football of every last bit of enjoyment we fans might derive from it. The man runs his conference as if the '80s, '90s, and '00s never happened, pulling the plug on late-season night games and stubbornly resisting any sort of BCS reform that might give us, you know, better matchups for the postseason's biggest games. And when these myopic, ill-advised moves result in the Big 10 losing prestige and marketability on a nationwide scale, rather than re-evaluate his own strategies, Delany shifts the blame with passive-aggressive broadsides against the SEC for being able to recruit more talented players. If college football is stuck in neutral in terms of its organization and methods, Delany is the hand holding the gearshift lever there; in the modern CFB landscape, he is the Dean Wormer. But he'll never admit to that, because he's not familiar with this word "modern" of which you speak.
Exhibit A: In early 2007, with his entire conference still smarting over the vivisection Ohio State received at the hands of the Florida Gators in the inaugural plus-one BCS National Championship Game, Delany defended his league's honor basically by shitting all over the SEC -- and in as bitchy a manner as possible: "I wish we had six teams among the top 10 recruiting classes every year, but winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process." Pretty big talk for a guy whose conference still hasn't learned to count to 11.
Sentence: Caves to pressure to expand to 12 teams but turned down by program after program; finally forced to add the University of Akron, who beats Wisconsin in the inaugural Big 10* Championship Game but loses to UAB by 28 in the Rose Bowl.

5. Ryan Pugh
Charges: Bar none, the dirtiest player in college football, and I'm not the only one who thinks so: Googling "Ryan Pugh chop block" returns 8,170 results. The Auburn O-lineman closed out his freshman year by injuring Clemson defender Dorell Scott on a chop block in the Peach Bowl; ended his sophomore season with a chop-block on Alabama's Luther Davis while Davis was still trying to get off the ground; and this past year, as a junior, managed to knock both a Ball State lineman and Tennessee defensive end Wes Brown -- who'd already been battling knee problems most of his career -- out of games via cheap hits. Even Auburn fans are starting to cringe every time his name is called.
Exhibit A: The videos are grainy, but that's #50 going after the backs of his opponents' knees both times:

Sentence: After shattering both tibiae and fibulae while being pancake-blocked in Auburn's 2010 opener against Arkansas State, has his shins amputated and his feet attached directly to his knees, a la Hank Hill's dad on "King of the Hill."

4. Urban Meyer
Charges: We all thought Steve Spurrier was as bad as it could get in Gainesville, asshole-wise, but at least the Ol' Ballcoach had a sense of humor. Meyer combines nearly all of Spurrier's worst traits -- preening arrogance, a predilection of leaving his starting QBs in well into the waning minutes of blowouts against overmatched gimme opponents just to pad their stats -- without an ounce of wit or personality. But the top Gator achieved a new level of cravenness last December when he announced his retirement the day after Christmas, revealing that he had been admitted to a hospital with chest pains following Florida's loss in the SEC title game and saying he needed to "reevaluate [his] priorities of faith and family" -- only to walk his "retirement" back to a "leave of absence" the very next day, adding that he fully intended to return by the start of the 2010 season. Yup, just two days after his eldest daughter Nicki hugged him and said "I get my daddy back," he basically told her, "Well, no, honey, you actually don't." Some conspiracy theorists speculated that Meyer's retirement/unretirement show was a calculated attempt to fire up a team that was bummed about playing in the Sugar Bowl rather than the national-championship game, but whether it was that or merely the rash action of a man who didn't think things through well enough is academic: If these are the kinds of games he's willing to play with his own family, Meyer has moved beyond the realm of the mere "jerk" and made a beeline for "sociopath" territory. On the bright side, if that's all he cares about his own health and well-being, then apparently it's OK to make heart-attack jokes about him after all.
Exhibit A: Apparently even a "leave of absence" was too much for Meyer to commit to: The University of Florida confirmed last month that he's been "actively involved in recruiting," and two weeks later Meyer said he planned on returning to full-time work by the time the Gators started spring practice. Hope those 48 hours were really special, Nicki.
Sentence: Cryogenically frozen in vivo and harvested for spare parts for Joe Paterno.

3. Adam and Craig James (tie)
Charges: Craig James was already loathed by CFB fans across the nation for his uncanny ability to tarnish games both big and small with his unique brand of dumb-jock smarm. Well, guess what: He reproduced. And together, Craig and his demon seed managed to take down the winningest coach in the history of Texas Tech's football program -- all because Mike Leach dared to put Adam in time-out. The dossier of bad behavior on the part of the Jameses is thicker than Leach's playbook: Adam displaying a "lazy" and "entitled" attitude, according to his own position coaches; Craig allegedly calling Texas Tech coaches repeatedly to lobby for more playing time for his son, to the point where they had to start screening their calls; Adam showing up to practice in street clothes and sunglasses, which prompted Leach's unorthodox punishment; and Craig threatening to sue TTU if they didn't launch a full investigation into Leach's behavior. As complex and bizarre as the whole situation is, two things about it are pretty simple: Adam James is a spoiled, no-talent brat, and his dad is an overbearing Little League parent who would be the dictionary definition of "ass clown" if that weren't an insult to both asses and clowns. We're still waiting to hear your explanation of what you were doing while Sherwood Blount was paying all those players at SMU, by the way.
Exhibit A: Before going public with his accusations against Leach, Craig James hired Spaeth Communications -- who directed the "swift boat" PR campaign against John Kerry in 2004 -- for tips on how to proceed; Spaeth helped distribute the highly dubious cell-phone video Adam James took of the place where he'd supposedly been confined by Leach. James the Elder also retained Spaeth to handle his PR as he mulls a run for -- wait for it -- U.S. Senate.
Sentence: Mauled by tigers during the first (and last) production of ESPN's "Circus of the Father-Son Gridiron Superstars."

2. Lane Kiffin
Charges: It would be easy to call USC's new head coach the football version of George W. Bush -- a smug hotshot who used his last name to land a series of jobs for which he was unqualified, made an ass of himself in public, and left institution after institution in worse shape than he found it, only to continue failing upward -- but at least Dubya's trying to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims; it is damn near impossible to find a situation in which Kiffin has thought about anyone but himself. It would also be easy to write him off as a mere douchebag, but as a douchebag myself, I take offense at that. No, Kiffykins occupies his own plane of dipshittery, rolling into the University of Tennessee on a wave of recruiting gimmicks and nervy sound bites and exiting just 407 days later, leaving both his players and his fan base in a cloud of dust. It's clear now that Tennessee was just a stepping stone to the USC job all along -- he and Ed Orgeron, who'd coached together as assistants at Southern Cal, shoved as many UT team traditions out the door as they could and replaced them with warmed-over versions of the same stuff they'd done with the Trojans, and when the time came to depart for L.A., they tried to take their most prized recruits with them. Hell, Kiffin never even bothered to get a Tennessee driver's license, which we found out when he wrecked the Lexus that UT had gone to the trouble of leasing for him, nor did he even bother to tuck his shirt in at the press conference where he announced his departure from the Vols. It's abundantly clear that Kiffin has learned nothing from the whole exercise, and merely transported his little consequence-free fantasy world to Los Angeles, where he committed his first secondary violation after less than two full weeks on the job. The only remaining vestige of Kiffin's blink-and-you-missed-it tenure in Knoxville is the paperwork filed by a local attorney to name a sewage-treatment plant after him -- but sewage-treatment plants are actually a necessary and valuable part of our civil society. Can anyone say the same about Kiffykins?
Exhibit A: From Kiffin's introductory press conference at USC: "The fan base and students [at Tennessee] are extremely passionate about sports. Especially about football. As I look at the reaction of what happened last night, I really thought to myself. I said, you know what, they're upset that we're leaving because of what we've been doing. If they weren't upset that we were leaving, then we weren't doing anything right. So the fact that there were a number of people upset there, because we had done so much in so little of a time."
Sentence: Placed in a dunking booth over the aforementioned sewage-treatment facility as part of UT's 2010 Homecoming festivities.

1. Ed Orgeron
Charges: A dumb, hulking ape of a man with less talent than Lane Kiffin, less scruples than Urban Meyer, and less self-awareness than Ron Zook, "Coach O" probably would be mopping a high-school gymnasium floor in Louisiana right now were it not for one fateful discovery he made years ago -- the realization that if you rip off your shirt and bellow "WILD BOYS" at high-school football players in a Cookie Monster voice, some of them are just dumb enough to sign with you. Since then, Orgeron's fearsome reputation as a top-notch recruiter has buoyed him to a series of inexplicably prestigious jobs, and his recruiting tactics have only gotten more ruthless and craven. Back in 2005, for example, Orgeron didn't even wait for the waterlogged bodies to be dragged out of New Orleans' Ninth Ward before he started calling Tulane players in an attempt to lure them to his own nascent disaster of a regime at Ole Miss. Fired after assembling the Rebels' worst head-coaching record in 60 years, Orgeron popped up again as Lane Kiffin's enforcer at Tennessee. And when Kiffin bolted for USC after only a year, Orgeron followed obediently behind, trying to take the Vols' prized 2010 recruiting class with him as he went -- and not only did he lie when asked about it, he had the nerve to get pissed off at UT's athletic department when they refused to give him their recruiting files. Lane Kiffin may be a human turd, but at least he's managed to bump his career winning percentage over 0.300; Orgeron is a human turd who is a terrible coach and possibly insane to boot, and it's only a matter of time before he either gets USC in even more trouble with the NCAA than they're already in or drives a bulldozer through the front of a Chick-fil-A for giving him sweet 'n' sour sauce instead of honey mustard. Basically, a worthless, repellent individual who blemishes the good name of any athletic department he joins, a man whose loathsomeness is beginning to outweigh his entertainment value. But look on the bright side, Coach O: You finally won something.
Exhibit A: While Kiffin was hastily delivering his farewell speech to his team, Orgeron was calling early enrollees telling them not to go to class so they could transfer to USC -- and doing it within earshot of Kiffin's pissed-off Tennessee players.
Sentence: Wrapped in bacon and fed to alligators in the Louisiana bayou.

And one more, whose loathsomeness defies numerical ranking:

John W. Lomax III
Charges: Lomax, a 21-year-old from Bloomfield, Connecticut, doesn't play, coach, or write about football, but his loathsomeness transcends sports and qualifies him for inclusion on this list just the same: Lomax is the man arrested for stabbing Connecticut Huskies cornerback Jasper Howard to death outside a dance back in November. So basically, because Lomax was having a bad evening, he felt justified in taking the life of a kid who'd made it out of the poverty of Miami's "Little Haiti" neighborhood, became the first in his family to go to college, worked hard and had a shot at an NFL career. Oh, and was going to be a father. If you want to go ahead and slot Lomax in at #1 on this list, you'll get no argument from me.
Exhibit A: The argument that resulted in Howard's murder allegedly stemmed from one of his teammates "disrespecting" one of Lomax's female friends. Yup. That's it.
Sentence: Life in prison with a picture of Jamiya Tia Howard -- the daughter whose name Jasper Howard chose the night before he was killed -- permanently placed over his bed.

Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to nominate, read, and/or link. (Y'all get a lifetime exclusion from the "You" mentioned at #10.) Our society's loathsomeness level being what it is, I'm sure we'll be doing this again before too long.

Monday, February 1

The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 20-11.

We're plumbing the depths of the truly, irrevocably worthless now. (Previously: #s 50-41, 40-31, and 30-21.)

20. Jimmy Clausen
Charges: Notre Dame fans, you might think Charlie Weis was the overwhelming reason the rest of us have hated your team for the past few years, but just as much blame rests on Clausen, the smug, emu-coiffed golden boy whose every action has screamed "prick" ever since he showed up at the College Football Hall of Fame in a Hummer limo just to announce his oral commitment to the Irish. From his overwrought signing announcement to his douchebag behavior at the '06 California state high-school championship game to taunting Boston College players during pre-game warmups last season, perhaps no player in the country is more convinced of his own awesomeness with less to back it up (16-18 record as a starter, a career QB rating lower than Joe Cox's). Dishonorable mention to his dad, who's now foisted two overrated asshat QBs on Division I-A and who was reportedly the reason Tennessee didn't make a big push to recruit Jimmy in 2006.
Exhibit A: While the rest of his team was busy getting embroiled in a trash-talk battle with the USC Trojans before the 2008 USC-ND game -- a game the Irish would lose 38-3 -- Jimmy went off and taunted the USC band.
Sentence: Drafted by the Raiders. In the sixth round.

19. Deion Sanders
Charges: After a 17-year NFL career typified by an increasingly out-of-whack sizzle-to-steak ratio, Neon Deion evidently began fancying himself a shade-tree Svengali to aspiring NFL receivers. First he helped convince the 49ers' first-round draft pick, Michael Crabtree, to become the longest rookie holdout in franchise history; just a short time later, his association with Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant got Bryant declared ineligible by the NCAA. This from the man who inspired the "Deion Sanders rule" after he started for FSU in the Sugar Bowl despite skipping finals. Other than former Hillary Clinton campaign "strategist" Mark Penn, nobody's had a worse track record as an advisor over the past couple years.
Exhibit A: As if Sanders hadn't done enough damage to OSU's prospects, he hung out with Ole Miss players during their Cotton Bowl practices and was spotted chatting with Rebel WR Dexter McCluster. (Fortunately, McCluster was a senior with no eligibility left to lose.)
Sentence: Banished to a remote island in the Arctic Ocean with no video cameras.

18. Bill Hancock/Ari Fleischer (tie)
Charges: The BCS already had developed a nationwide reputation as a closed, impenetrable system reeking of good-ole-boy-networkism and complete contempt toward the average fan. So executive director Hancock, just to make sure there were no bones about his organization's arrogance and total lack of concern for how it is perceived in the public eye, hired former Bush Administration mouthpiece Ari Fleischer's consulting group to help manage its image. Not that the BCS's past propagandists have been anything special, but Fleischer's mushmouthed defenses of the BCS system are so farcical as to make one wonder whether former Iraqi information minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf really retired after all.
Exhibit A: The "insidethebcs" Twitter feed, featuring such brilliant arguments as this declaration patting the BCS for "enhancing" the bowl season. Right, because everyone was wondering when we'd finally get to see USC whack Illinois by 32 points in the Rose Bowl.
Sentence: Strapped to fireworks and launched right after the singing of the national anthem at next year's national-title game.

17. George O'Leary
Charges: O'Leary's reputation for being a principled, old-school straight shooter has almost completely crumbled into that of a grouchy old bastard who is convinced the sun shines out of his own ass, a devolution that is entirely warranted: Few coaches seem to have dumb controversy following so closely on their tails at all times. At Georgia Tech, O'Leary sicced his starting front four on an unsuspecting O-lineman in practice for missing too many blocks; from there he went to Notre Dame, where his tenure lasted all of five days before he was fired for making shit up on his résumé; and now, at Central Florida, he's managed to have a player die on him during conditioning drills. The last of those incidents would've been merely a random, senseless tragedy, were it not for reports (from his own players) that O'Leary was standing over Ereck Plancher barking insults at him even as Plancher was wheezing his final breaths. If it seems odd that a guy who went 52-33 at GT has never gotten so much as a sniff from a BCS-conference program looking for a head coach, well, that's a big part of the reason why.
Exhibit A: After a semi-exposé by the Orlando Sentinel into the Plancher incident, O'Leary barred Sentinel reporters from having any access to his coaches or players until the paper corrected what he called inaccuracies in its reporting -- but refused to specify what those inaccuracies were.
Sentence: Anal fissures.

16. Bobby Petrino
Charges: Petrino has managed to stay out of trouble, for the most part, since arriving in Fayetteville, Arkansas, two years ago. It was the way he got there that was truly loathsome -- accepting 30 pieces of silver from Jerry Jones and abandoning the Atlanta Falcons after only 13 (mostly embarrassing) games with nearly a whole month left in the 2007 regular season. And he went to Atlanta just six months after having signed a 10-year contract with Louisville, where he got embroiled in a shitstorm after just one season by attending the legendary secret meeting with Auburn megabooster/warlock Bobby Lowder about potentially replacing Tommy Tuberville. You all saw how awkward Petrino looked doing "Woo pig sooey" during his introduction to the Razorback faithful -- does anybody seriously think he's gonna be within 500 miles of Fayetteville three years from now?
Exhibit A: Didn't even bother to tell his Falcon players in person that he was leaving -- just left a one-paragraph letter in their lockers. His own players called him a "coward" and a "cancer" in the wake of his departure.
Sentence: After a five-TD Bowl beatdown from Tuberville's Texas Tech Red Raiders, assassinated by a hitman hired by Jerry Jones.

15. Kent Hance
Charges: ESPN analyst and all-world helicopter parent Craig James would be hard-pressed to outwit your average telephone pole, yet he still had the bare minimum of cunning it took to intimidate Texas Tech chancellor Hance into firing Mike Leach, the winningest coach in school history, over little more than foggy accusations that Leach harmed "the health and well-being of an injured student-athlete" (i.e. James's ne'er-do-well son). Just to really twist the knife in, Hance fired Leach the day before the coach would've been owed a "contract completion bonus" of $800,000. This at the university that hired Bobby Knight, who'd actually choked a kid at his previous job at Indiana.
Exhibit A: Hance also oversaw the hiring of disgraced attorney general Alberto Gonzales as a visiting professor in the political-science department teaching a "special topics" course on the executive branch.
Sentence: Waterboarded by Leach, who will, of course, be wearing a pirate outfit the entire time.

14. Tim Brando
Charges: On TV, Brando plays the role of the goofy, affable, football-lovin' uncle to the hilt. Off camera, though, he is a snide elitist straight out of the Buzz Bissinger school of entitlement, an insular jackhole who loves dropping the names of the folks his job allows him to hang out with but who has nothing but contempt for the average fan. Particularly if that fan dares to run a blog, because then he's a hate-filled rumormonger contributing to the coarsening of dialogue in American journalism. That's a pretty high horse for a guy who will happily tell callers to "shut the hell up" when he's making his frequent guest appearances on buddy Paul Finebaum's radio show (and for a guy who seems to think referring to teams as "the Fightin' [insert coach name here]s" is the absolute pinnacle of comedy).
Exhibit A: Fans and bloggers aren't the only ones expected to bow down at the altar of Brando: Last spring, he joined in with a Finebaum whinefest about how coaches like Nick Saban weren't consistently giving them the "access" they were owed.
Sentence: Right index finger chopped off, and loses an additional finger/toe for every time he makes one of his "a little Dabo'll do ya" joke in reference to Dabo Swinney.

13. Paul Finebaum
Charges: The poster child for little-man syndrome, "F-bomb" combines Colin Cowherd's withering contempt for his audience with an indomitable bandwagoneering streak. For hours each day, Finebaum exhibits little but sneering derision toward the thousands of listeners he's Stockholm Syndromed into hanging on his every dubiously informed word, yet for all his boasts about being the most dangerous man in sports radio, his allegiances and values are just as malleable as those of his dumbest and most gullible fans. When a team's doing well or is currently "hot" in the media, he loves 'em; when they're weathering a slump or controversy, they're worthless bottom-feeders and so are their fans. Right up until they hit a hot streak again, when they return to "awesome" status and everyone else becomes fools for doubting them. Finebaum is famous for being famous, the Paris Hilton of sports talk: His name is on everyone's lips as one of the top guys in his industry, yet it's impossible to pick out a single bit of value he adds to the sports experience, either in Alabama or anywhere else.
Exhibit A: A year ago, Chizik roundly heckled Auburn's hiring of Gene Chizik along with everyone else. By October, with Auburn 5-0 and ranked in the top 25, Chizik was steering the Tigers "down the right path." But just three weeks later, with Auburn riding a three-game losing streak, Finebaum decided Chizik and his coaching staff were "lousy," "clueless" and "naive."
Sentence: Suffocated between Terrence Cody's moobs.

12. Tim Tebow
Charges: First, let's get one thing straight -- Tebow isn't on here because he's a good player or because he's bitchmade Georgia two years in a row. Nor is he on here because he's a devout Christian. And his presence on the list is not intended to cast aspersions on his considerable talent. If anything, it's the opposite: It takes a lot for a player that good to still qualify as "overexposed." Yet that's precisely what Tebow is, to the point where even some Gator fans I know are starting to tire of the spectacle. For nearly four years now, we've been subjected to round-the-clock replays of his teary motivational speeches; the kind of marionette-on-crack touchdown celebrations that would get (and frequently have gotten) other SEC players pegged for 15 yards; and verbal fellations by everyone from Thom Brennaman to Gary Danielson to Sarah Palin. Now, Tebow isn't a programming director, and he obviously doesn't bear sole personal responsibility for this oversaturation, but instead of taking a break from the limelight and quietly prepping himself for the NFL draft, he's insinuating himself into our lives once again by taking a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl to tell us how we should feel about abortion. Tim, I don't pretend to speak for every college-football fan out there, but I'm pretty sure I speak for a lot of them when I say: Shut the fucking fuck up already. And God bless.
Exhibit A: The Web site of Tebow's father's ministry, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, claims that three quarters of the people in the Philippines "have never once heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Gee, that just happens to be almost the same proportion of people in that country who are Roman Catholic. But I'm sure that's just one of those crazy coincidences!
Sentence: Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Raiders, and beaten out for the starting job by Jimmy Clausen.

11. Brian Butler
Charges: If there's one man in North America less qualified to offer advice to young football players than Deion Sanders, it might by former T-Mobile call center manager Butler, who has added a fresh coat of slime to the already-skeezy recruiting business by inventing the position of "recruiting manager." Supposedly this is a sort of gatekeeper/publicist/advisor to blue-chip recruits, but in actual practice he just serves as another middleman trying to profit off of naive teenagers. In order to raise the market value of linebacker Huldon Tharp, for example, Butler encouraged Tharp to spread word that he'd been offered a scholarship by the Miami Hurricanes; Miami had made no such offer, and Butler's mere association with five-star tailback Bryce Brown soon led the 'Canes to back off their attempts to sign him. But that didn't stop Butler from selling "recruiting updates" of Brown on his Web site for $9.99 a month (or $59 a year -- such a deal!). If Vegas isn't taking bets on the first time Butler or one of his colleagues sets a major NCAA investigation into motion, they're missing a golden opportunity.
Exhibit A: Brown's own high-school coach, Brian Byers, said Brown's attitude began deteriorating markedly almost the minute he hooked up with Butler, skipping a summer football camp and refusing to even stretch with his teammates during his junior season, "It's always been him and then everybody else," Byers told The New York Times. "Our team chemistry was nonexistent."
Sentence: One night of unbridled passion with Tom Lemming.

Tomorrow: The top 10. Bring an airsickness bag.