Sunday, December 31

Was it worth it? Yes.

Martrez Milner does the Hokie Pokie and he turns those muthas out -- THAT'S what it's all about.

As many of y'all know, I'm from Virginia originally -- born in Roanoke, spent five glorious formative years in nearby Radford, just a quick jaunt down Peppers Ferry Road from the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. My parents are both UVA grads, but I've got a ton of relatives who are either Virginia Tech graduates or consider themselves VT fans due to some kind of familial connection. So this was one of those games I was kind of looking forward to and dreading at the same time: On the one hand, this would be a reason for my relatives to pay attention to the Bulldogs for some reason other than me yakking their ears off about the Dawgs at every single family gathering. But on the other hand, if Georgia loses, I'm gonna be hearing about this for the rest of my worthless life. (Y'all know who you are. I know some of you read this.)

Halftime, Georgia is down 21-3 after giving up a 53-yard TD on an Antwaan-Randle-El-ish trick WR option play and after having gained all of three net yards on 13 offensive plays following their opening-drive FG. (Yes, 13 offensive plays. If you're going to assume there couldn't have been many third-down conversions if we ran only 13 offensive plays, you would be correct.) And I can just picture in my head the stack of subject lines in my GMail inbox after Georgia loses 42-6 or however many they were going to lose by. But then a funny thing happened: Brandon Coutu kicked a 51-yard field goal (God, was I glad to have him back), then Mark Richt dropped his pants to reveal a titanium-plated pair of balls and called an on-side kick that the Dawgs recovered with about six minutes left in the third, and all of a sudden all the pain that VaTech had been inflicting upon Georgia in the first half was turned back on them and then some. A flurry of VT turnovers, 28 straight points by the Dawgs, and a 31-24 UGA win, game over.

(Side note: Nothing against VT quarterback Sean Glennon, and I'll apologize to him for writing this if I ever meet him in person, but I was really glad it was not him and not Matt Stafford who was throwing picks all over the place last night. In the "College Gameday" discussions of the Peach Bowl, Official Bane of Hey Jenny Slater's Existence Mark May had taken to repeating "SIX TOUCHDOWNS! TWELVE INTERCEPTIONS!" as his own personal mantra, in a tone that implied Matt Stafford was a functional retard who should be toting Gatorade rather than playing football at the D-IA level; not that this will change May's apparently fossilized impression of anything Georgia-related, but I was gratified to see someone else be the goat in that regard.)

Tony Taylor sez: im in yuor base int3rcepting yuor d00ds.

But anyway, I digress. Something really struck me as Georgia was mounting its hellacious comeback in the third quarter (and no, it wasn't a Hokie fan's empty beer bottle); it was when ESPN put up their graphic about how many times Georgia has been behind at halftime this season, and how they'd come back to win three of those four (and make a valiant comeback effort in the one loss). There's a flipside to that coin, though, and it is this: In Georgia's last nine games of the regular season, they were only 2-3 when holding a halftime lead. Tossing out the three blowout victories with which Georgia started the season -- which still look like an aberration to me in hindsight -- here's how Georgia's season went from week 4 on, for those who need the recap:

September 23 vs. Colorado: Down 10-0 at halftime to one of the worst teams in the country, Georgia storms back to win 14-13 with two fourth-quarter TD passes from Joe Cox.

September 30 at Ole Miss: Down 3-0 at the half to another one of the worst teams in the country, Georgia gets it in gear in the second half; while nothing from this game will ever make it onto the Sanford Stadium Jumbotron "Baba O'Reilly" pregame highlight reel, the Dawgs still win 14-9.

October 7 vs. Tennessee: Up 24-14 on Tennessee at the half and presumably rolling, the Dawgs have their legs kicked out from under them by a combination of turnovers, blocked punts and shitty pass coverage, give up more points in the second half than they'd given up the entire season before that game and lose 51-33.

October 14 vs. Vanderbilt: Up 13-7 at the half, the Dawgs turn it over on their first drive of the second half for the second week in a row (and their third time in four games) and go on to lose to Freaking Vanderbilt, 24-22.

October 21 vs. Mississippi State: Up 21-7 at the half, the Dawgs get outscored 10-0 in the third quarter for the second straight week and have to hang on to beat the SEC's worst team 27-24.

October 28 vs. Florida: The Dawgs are down 14-0 at the half and give up an Auburn-sociology-degree easy nine-yard scoop-'n'-score on the first play of the second half, but battle back to within a TD and have a chance to win right down to the last few minutes.

November 4 at Kentucky: Up 14-10 at halftime, the Dawgs fall asleep on defense for two late Kentucky drives and lose 24-20.

November 11 at Auburn: Georgia is up 30-7 at halftime and continues to whup Auburn's ass for the entirety of the game. OK, this is the exception that proves the rule.

And yes, it deserves a picture.

November 25 vs. Georgia Tech: After losing a fumble at their own 13 and thus handing the Yellow Jackets a field goal in a stylish Bloomingdales gift bag, the Dawgs fight back in the second half and, thanks to shrewd play-calling by His Royal Awesomeness Mike Bobo and the usual ass-wittedness from Reggie Ball, win 15-12.

So you see the pattern there? Trailing at the half, we're 3-1 (with even the -1 being a valiant sort of loss); ahead at the half, we're 2-3 (with one of the 2- being a lucky escape from an inconceivable defeat). During that stomach-churning 1-4 midseason stretch, everyone was all over Willie Martinez's ass for being a lousy halftime adjuster, and not without cause, but the above evidence indicates to me that he wasn't that bad when we were behind; homes was adjusting like a motherfucker against Florida, Colorado, Virginia Tech, etc. etc. It was when we had a lead that we were apparently substituting red wine and Lunesta for the motivational halftime speech. I don't know what portends for next season; hopefully nothing, but it is something I'd like the coaching staff to work on over the next few months.

But it's hard for me to get too discombobulated about that at the moment, because I've just witnessed Georgia bounce back from probably its most humiliating stretch of the Mark Richt era to whack three ranked teams in a row, one of them on the road, another in a neutral-site game (which has been a pitfall for the Dawgs under Richt even when the "neutral site" isn't Jacksonville). I wasn't sure I wanted to believe it myself, but Mayor Kyle was right: It really is 1973 all over again (with the obvious caveat that I'd prefer we not follow this up with a 6-6 campaign next year).

After the Kentucky disaster, I said I was at the point where I was just going to be very happy and relieved when the season was over. Now I'm at a point where I can't wait for the next season to begin. We've got a team that has fought through adversity to show what they're really made of (which, FYI, is pretty good stuff); a young QB who is growing into the superstar we've all hoped he would be; a defense that wandered in the wilderness but has found its way back to being the killers we wanted them to be; a proper offensive play-calling hierarchy keyed by a Bulldog hero who's slowly building legend status; and a coaching staff that, as a whole, I would not trade for more than one or two others in the nation. I've ripped on them on more than one occasion this year, but every team is going to have a shitty game or a subpar stretch at some point; the $64,000 question when it comes to coaches is whether they can lead the team out of it. And this group of coaches did. The losses were bitter, but the wins have been much sweeter.

Undaunted by the December 19 attempt on his life, Hairy Dawg bounces back to represent with the rest of the team.

As baby sis and I were driving back into Birmingham after Thanksgiving, the jubilation of a sixth straight win over Georgia Tech still tingling in our synapses, we had a conversation about Georgia's wins and losses over the course of the season. I posed a hypothetical question to her then, and now, with a stirring bowl win to add to it, I pose it to you Dawg fans out there.

Before the season began, there was hope that we might break out and win 10 games (or more), but also a realization on the part of many fans that maybe we were headed for an 8-4 kind of season. Had God sent an angel down to Bulldog Nation and told us that yes, we were destined for a four-loss year, most of us would've probably assumed that those losses would've been Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and, I don't know, Georgia Tech; instead, it turned out to be Tennessee, Florida, and the two humiliating upsets to Vandy and Kentucky. Now, I know most of us would give up quite a lot for the chance to go back in time and erase those two losses, but my question is: Would you give up the wins over Auburn and GT?

I wouldn't. As much as I wanted to crawl in a hole and die after the Vanderbilt and Kentucky games, a season that includes those losses can still be considered successful if you come back to beat Auburn and Tech (and then a respectable bowl opponent). Think about it this way: If we beat Vandy and UK but not Auburn and Tech, we'd beaten everybody we were supposed to beat but hadn't scored any notable upsets, and we'd gone 0-4 against our four biggest rivals -- in other words, a Jim Donnan kind of season. We don't come out of that season mumbling, "How the fuck did we lose to Vandy and Kentucky," but we don't come out of it holding our heads high due to any particularly memorable victories, either. The season we actually had contained a couple of stinkers, yes -- well, more than a couple, we just managed to win a few of those others -- but it also contained maybe the most impressive three-game stretch of the Richt era, it contained an unholy beatdown of a top-five Auburn team, and oh yeah, we don't have to deal with the Techies crowing about anything for the next 300-something days.

Yeah, this season was rocky, and we didn't need to suffer those losses to Vandy and UK. But it's like my sister said at halftime of the Peach Bowl: "If you can only play one half, play the second." We played the second, we finished the drill, and at this point anyone who's focusing more on the 1-4 stretch at midseason than the 3-0 rampage that followed it should probably look for some therapy.

Congrats to the Dawgs, and thanks for some incredibly exciting wins. I'm counting down the days to Oklahoma State.

And Go Dawgs!

I'm comfortable enough in my sexuality to say it: I love this man.

All the small things:

· I don't want to see any of my Georgia brethren going out of their way to shit-talk Hokie Nation today, because again, I happen to be related to some of those folks and they're pretty nice. Two of 'em were kind enough to meet my sister and me in Atlanta for the game, accept my failure to procure tickets to the game itself (after wandering around in the cold and drizzle for a couple hours, no less), and buy us dinner at Jocks 'n' Jills at the CNN Center where we ended up watching the action. In fact, the vast majority of the Hokie fans we ran into were very nice. There was the one kind of douchey guy at Jocks 'n' Jills who made a habit of sarcastically crooning "Georgia On My Mind" after every UGA screwup of the first half (which, I'll admit, were numerous), but there was also the guy at the table next to ours who it turned out was born at the same hospital as me in Roanoke, and there was also the girl on the subway who gave me one of the little stuffed Chick-fil-A cows she was taking home from the stadium. (I have fond memories of those cows from the '98 Peach Bowl, when beanie-baby cows rained down from the third tier of the Dome like a Biblical plague after every score; it got to the point where I was wondering if someone was manufacturing more of those things somewhere in the upper deck.)

Anyway, good show, guys. Obviously I wasn't rooting for a Virginia Tech win, but I wasn't hoping for a complete Hokie collapse either; what I thought would happen was that it'd be a close-fought, back-and-forth game right down to the last second and that neither team would have to suffer through a particularly embarrassing stretch. In the end, both teams did, Georgia was just fortunate enough to have theirs early enough to pull out of it. Thanks for a good game; y'all have nothing to be ashamed of. If we end up meeting again in Miami, New Orleans, or Pasadena sometime soon, that's just fine with me.

· I'm not one of those people who takes bowl results to be the be-all end-all indicators of a given conference's strength, but there are plenty of people out there who apparently do, so let's take a look: Big 10, 0-3 with four games remaining; SEC, 3-1 with the one loss coming on a last-second field goal. Again, I'm not going to throw my hands in the air and declare OMG Big 10 suxx0rz because of this, but I'll hear no more of this nonsense about how the SEC really wasn't all that good this year.

· Quick NFL digression: Obviously the NFC stinks this year, and as of this past week there were still about a half-dozen mediocre NFC teams that still had a chance at the playoffs. So why is it the only one we heard anything about was the Giants? Why was their struggle so much more newsworthy than, say, the Rams' or the Falcons'? Yeah, the Giants stink (other than Tiki Barber, who is awesome), what else is new? (On a related note, can we now officially declare that I was right right right when I said back during the 2005 draft that Ben Roethlisberger would turn out to be the best of the four QBs drafted in the first round, and that no way was Eli Manning worth all the picks New York handed over to get him instead of Philip Rivers? If I'm Marty Schottenheimer, I'm eagerly awaiting the day I get to run into Archie Manning in the green room at CBS Sports.)

I know Peyton. I've seen Peyton. Peyton has stepped on my heart and crushed it many times. You, sir, are no Peyton.

· Finally, as this was my first year of producing actual sportswriting-like product and participating in stuff like the Blogpoll, I wanted to thank some of the other bloggers out there who have helped me along, linked to me, given me opportunities to do more writing and pontificating, and basically been encouraging examples as I plow blindly ahead with this blogging thing. Thanks first and foremost to Paul Westerdawg and Mayor T. Kyle King for their links and frequent kind words, but also for being admirable ambassadors of Bulldog Nation; I've heard many bloggers marvel at how well-represented Georgia is in the blogosphere, and those guys, along with folks like Realist, Kanu and the Gunslingers, are the reason why. Thanks to Blogpoll founder Brian Cook at MGoBlog and, indeed, all of the Blogpoll voters for giving me the opportunity to participate in something that was not only fun but also introduced me to a vast network of tremendously talented writers. Thanks, of course, to Josh, DAve, Pasqua and Stanicek, and the rest of the Tent City crew for running a tailgating clinic week in and week out, whether it was an awesome win over Georgia Tech or a let's-forget-that-ever-happened loss to the Commodores. Like I said, I'll be in Athens for Oklahoma State. And yes, I'm bringing the dog.

And finally, thanks to both all of you, my readers, for giving me a reason to do this. You've been faithful and spirited commenters, you've given me encouragement and criticism, you've looked the other way when I do stuff like cursing a blue streak or flake out on an extended blog hiatus or throw a toaster. We know you have many options when planning your blog-reading, and we're glad you chose Hey Jenny Slater. Thanks for making me feel special and pretty; have a happy new year, and rest easy tonight knowing that this site will continue to suck well into 2007 and beyond. Mazel!

Thursday, December 28


No, not that kind of booty -- we covered that in the last post. I'm talking about stuff, loot, swag, presents, the stuff we all say isn't the most important part of Christmas but pretty much is.

I'm just kidding, Jesus. Happy birthday. Please tell Your dad not to smite me.

Anyway, here's some of what I got.

An authentic Red Air Force flask that will be filled with potato vodka at the first opportunity.

A Redskins hat with the gold cursive "R" just like the kind Joe Gibbs wears.

The first season of "Magnum, P.I." on DVD.

And in the least shocking development of all, a new toaster oven. (Thanks, baby sis.)

And then there were the gifts that have become family traditions, like the Gap gift card so that I can do the annual updating of my decrepit wardrobe, and the Playboy in the Christmas stocking. Let me back up on that last one, because there's a story behind it: Supposedly when my dad was 16 he made the mistake of telling his parents he wanted a Playboy for Christmas, and I'm sure they told him they would get him no such thing, but when Christmas Day finally rolled around, there was a Playboy right there in his stocking. And instead of enjoying it like any 16-year-old boy in his situation would, Pops immediately turned beet-red, ran off and hid the magazine under his mattress or something.

So now there's a Playboy in my stocking every December 25th, but the best part every year is hearing the story of how my mom got it. She's only 5'3" or something like that, and of course the lads' magazines are always up in the back of the rack at the bookstore where the children and ne'er-do-wells can't get to them, so most of the time Mom has to ask for help. One year it was from a Ranger who happened to be browsing the magazines at Joe Muggs while she was there; another year it was a couple of college students. According to Mom, this is the conversation that ensued:

Mom: Excuse me, can I get you to grab me one of the Playboys up there in the back?

College student #1: (a bit perplexed at being asked for a Playboy by a middle-aged woman) Uh . . . sure. (gets the magazine) So, like, what are you getting a Playboy for?

Mom: Oh, it's for Christmas, for my son.

College student #1: That . . . is . . . AWESOME!!

College student #2: I wish my mom would get me Playboy.

What's funny is that my dad is probably going to be a lot more embarrassed that I'm divulging all this than my mom is going to be.

But anyway, feel free to leave your own Christmas hauls in the comments thread, because I'm curious to see what everybody got, even if it was just a stocking full of reindeer poop. And I know at least a couple of you out there got that.

Friday, December 22

Friday Random Ten, and an annual tribute.

My apologies for being a horribly lazy blogger lately; work, Christmas stuff, holiday guests, blah blah no excuse. I'm not dead, just constantly preoccupied. But not too preoccupied to skip Hey Jenny Slater's annual salute to the Sexy Santa costume, one of the most underrated costumes out there.

The Tennessee Titans' cheerleading squad knows what time it is . . .

. . . as does Alessandra Ambrosio.

Let's all tip our fuzzy Santa caps and give thanks.

Now, the Ten:

1. The Who, "I Can't Explain"
2. A Tribe Called Quest, "Butter"
3. Röyksopp, "Röyksopp's Night Out"
4. The Roots, "Dynamite!"
5. Henry Mancini, "Lujon"
6. House of Pain, "Top o' the Mornin' To Ya"
7. Gorillaz, "M1 A1"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Drama in the Harbour"
9. Patton Oswalt, "Robert Evans"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Searching for the Face of Jesus"

And just in case anyone was wondering what was on my Christmas list: a plasma-screen TV (27"-30" is fine, thx), all eight seasons of "Magnum, P.I." on DVD, a new catalytic converter for a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta, a DVD of the original "Fletch," and a Bentley Continental GT.

Fine, if you want to be cheap with that last one, you can get me the 1/18 scale version instead of the 1/1.

Feel free to throw your own Random Tens, Christmas lists, travel horror stories, suggestions for the Alabama coaching search, and anything else in the comments. (Oh, and loathsome college-football personalities -- still taking nominations until the 30th.)

Merry Christmas, suckers!

Tuesday, December 19

Get your loathing on.

The 2006 football season is almost over, as is, you know, the year 2006 itself, and not so long ago I decided it was time to start looking for a way to mark this occasion -- and by "mark this occasion" I of course mean "look back with the usual bile, resentment, and vituperation." The answer: The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football.

Yes, this idea is blatantly cribbed from Philadelphia altie paper The Beast, who does an out-of-the-park job with their "50 Most Loathsome People in America" feature about this time every year. But mine's restricted to college football, and to bring you, the reader, into the process, I'm taking nominations.

I'm looking for people who coached, directed the operations of, commented on, played, or otherwise had some kind of notable effect on college football (in a loathsome way, of course). I'd like to try and restrict it to people who were involved in the game sometime during the 2006-07 season, or at least during the 2006 calendar year; however, actions taken before 2006 may be submitted as evidence of their loathsomeness. And what the hell, for people who are no longer in college football per se, but whose loathsome actions continue to reverberate, we'll make an exception there too. (We'll call it the Marcus Vick Rule.)

And the "evidence" part is important: I don't want you to just throw a bunch of names at me, you have to tell me why they're loathsome (even if you're nominating someone like Phil Fulmer whose loathsomeness seems self-evident). And I don't want stuff like "Brady Quinn 'cuz he shouldn'ta won the Maxwell Award" or "West Virginia 'cause they're totally overrated." Maybe Quinn shouldn't have won the award, and maybe WVU is overrated, but if you think that's the case, then your beef is with the people who give the awards or make the ratings. I don't want this becoming nothing more than a venue for die-hard fans to grind the same old traditional-rivalry axes, so no Texas fans nominating Oklahoma because "Sooners are OMG SUXXORZ," or Alabama nominating Auburn, or Ohio State nominating Michigan, or anything like that.

In short, I'm looking for people who have made college football in general less enjoyable for the country at large than it should have been. I can't promise your nomination will make the final list, of course, and to be honest I could probably come up with 50 all by myself right now if I had to. But I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. Or I can at least do a pretty convincing job of pretending to be interested, in any case.

Leave your nominations and whatever evidence you can dig up against them in the comments thread, or e-mail them directly to me at paris_1968 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Get them to me no later than Saturday, December 30 -- I've got, like, shit to do between now and New Year's -- and the final list will be posted in installments over the week leading up to the national-championship game on January 8.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, December 14

Friday Random Ten: Think globally, act locally, propose modestly.

OK, so the government decided not to explore my proposal to give Zacarias Moussaoui a sex change, Georgia hasn't called Rick Neuheisel up to offer him a job as offensive coordinator, and I have yet to see Joe Tereshinski III line up at tight end for the Dawgs. Not exactly batting 1.000 on my previous modest proposals, but I think Modest Proposal IV: A New Hope is gonna be a winner. It concerns the University of Alabama and their coaching search, which doesn't exactly appear to be going gangbusters at the moment.

Rich Rodriguez and Steve Spurrier have both said no. Nick Saban is saying no, but Alabama continues to pursue, like a drunk frat guy desperate for some tail. Everybody has suggested somebody, with varying degrees of seriousness -- Todd at is interested in Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe; Newspaper Hack, even as he wiped tears from RichRod's rejection letter, put forth Navy's Paul Johnson as a possibility; The M Zone said they should just dig Bear Bryant up; Mayor Kyle King, not at all surprisingly, thought Kristin Davis of TV's "Sex and the City" would be a good choice; and then there was Todd's other suggestion, Jessica Alba.

I actually think Kyle and Todd are closest to the bullseye, and not just because I think Jessica Alba is hotter than jalapeños flambé. With that in mind, I'd like to make a new suggestion.

A number of people have asked me, here and at other sites, who these comely young ladies are. Their names are Ashley and Maegen Bailey -- good luck figuring out which one is which -- they're originally from Oneonta, they're each 5'10" (hello), and they have become minor celebrties in these parts for showing up at Alabama football games in the ensemble you see above. So they're kind of like Alabama's version of Jenn Sterger and the FSU cowgirls, only with more houndstooth and (I'm just making an educated guess here) less silicone. I'm proposing their names, collectively, for consideration as Alabama's next head football coach(es).

Straight out of left field? Not necessarily. RollBamaRoll's Chalkdust has said straightaway that Bama may have "evolved past the point of needing a head coach"; if they must have some kind of figurehead, Ashley and Maegen might fill the bill. They're young, they're enthusiastic, they possess the devotion to Bama football heritage that's clearly one of the school's biggest criteria for the job. They'd be a can't-miss prospect on the recruiting trail, as any of my male readers who have ever been 18 years old will attest. I'm not sure whether they have any in-depth knowledge of actual scheme or strategy when it comes to football, but, well, you could ask the same question about Mike Shula, and he somehow managed to win a fricking Cotton Bowl.

But the most important thing in Ashley and Maegen's favor is this: It would be damn near impossible to fire them. Alabama's biggest problem almost ever since the Bear retired has been an almost pathological addiction to coach-firing; they'll dump a coach just for poops and giggles, it sometimes seems, and that has kept the program in a near-constant state of turmoil, with very little continuity or stability at any point in the last quarter-century. But the Houndstooth Twins will be in it for the long haul pretty much by default. If you were Alabama's AD, would you fire them? Could you look the two of them in the eye(s) and tell them the Crimson Tide doesn't have a place for them anymore? Would you want to be the person who goes down in history as the guy who told two adorable blond Bama fans to take a hike? Of course you wouldn't, and neither would anyone else. Sheer softheartedness would keep the Baileys in the front office long enough to at least win an SEC title, one way or another, and get the program back onto some kind of solid footing.

Not only could Alabama do much worse than this, they probably already have.

(Side note: They're both currently students at UAB. So anybody who wants to make fun of my employer is cordially invited to suck it.)

There it is, Alabama. I've tried to help you every way I know how. I'm pointing you toward the Houndstooth Twins, and I got nothin' left. If at long last you don't take that advice, I can't help you.

Anyway, that's all I have on that subject. The Ten:

1. The Beatles, "All You Need is Love"
2. Gorillaz, "Last Living Souls"
3. The Clash, "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"
4. The Beatles, "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
5. The Beastie Boys, "Hey Fuck You"
6. Johnny Cash, "One"
7. R.E.M., "Suspicion"
8. Orbital, "Tunnel Vision"
9. Dimitri from Paris, "Attente Musicale"
10. Stereolab, "Brakhage"

Your own Random Tens and coaching suggestions in the comments. ¡Apocalypto!

Wednesday, December 13

Happy berfday, baby sis.

On this day in 1980, my little sister entered this world unaware of the task that awaited her -- trying to make her way in the cold, unforgiving shadow of her older brother, a man other men wanted to be and women wanted to be with, a man who stood astride the worlds of journalism, arts and letters, popular culture, and probably a bunch of other things like a veritable colossus. Not a task you'd wish upon anyone, much less an innocent apple-cheeked young girl, but that was what she was stuck with.

Fast-forward 26 years later, and she is the organized, together, thoughtful, mature, capable-of-maintaining-a-long-term-relationship one in the family, while her older brother is the flaky, scatterbrained slob whose personal best in relationships is three months and who still laughs uproariously at poop jokes. (Heh, I said "poop.") Oh well! Life's crazy like that sometimes.

Anyway, this is my way of saying happy berfday, baby sis, you've done pretty well for yourself in your first 26 years. Now let's see how you handle the next 26. Just so you know, I'll be damned if I'm gonna let you get a book published before I do.

Oh, and I seriously considered posting the picture Mom took of you fast asleep on your training potty when you were two years old, but I didn't. You're welcome.

(Leave your berfday wishes for Ann in the comments below, or at her blog Practically Harmless, or you're dead to me.)

Friday, December 8

The spoiled child, spared the Rod.

So, yeah, the whole Rich-Rodriguez-to-Alabama thing, not really happening after all. Thanks, local media, for making me look like a douchebag.

Really, you have to live here to understand how the local newspapers, TV people, and radio stations get geeked into the stratosphere at the merest hint that something might be happening with the Crimson Tide. Every TV station except Fox 6 was all over the place last night reporting that Rich Rodriguez was coming; the ginormous 64-point headline on the front page of the Birmingham News was "Rodriguez ready to roll at Bama" or some such nonsense. So much for objectivity and a healthy skepticism. But anyway, no, Rodriguez isn't coming, there is no Santa Claus, and the check really isn't in the mail.

I called into JOX 690, the local sports-talk station, Friday afternoon as Dunaway and Brown were chatting excitedly about the prospect of Rodriguez coming to Tuscaloosa. I offered my respectful opinion that no way would he take the Alabama job, because he's revered as a demigod and winning Sugar Bowls in Morgantown, and why would he pass that up to take a flier on a job where he can count on getting axed after three or four years if he doesn't recreate the Bear Bryant dynasty? I was surprised at the response I got from Dunaway and Brown -- they normally come across as pretty level-headed and properly hype-suspicious of most things sports-related in Alabama, but they were acting like Rodriguez would be kissing Mal Moore's ring and offering him his firstborn child for a shot at the Alabama job. Better conference, more pay, more TV time, yada yada. Well, apparently that's not enough when the fanbase can be counted on to levitate with rage and talk replacements the minute you lose to Auburn.

I hope for Bama's sake that this drills into their skulls once and for all the fact that their coaching job is not what it used to be, for the simple fact that -- and I know I'm repeating myself here -- every time Alabama whacks a head coach, they make the job that much less attractive to any potential replacement. I've already used the hot-girl-who's-a-total-bitch metaphor to describe the Alabama job, so here's another one: Alabama in the 2000s is like Jaguar was in the 1980s. Remember how Jaguars used to be -- absolutely gorgeous machines, so swank and luxurious they even smelled better than other cars, but with quality levels that wouldn't have passed muster at Hyundai? The classified ads were chock full of Jags whose owners were dumping them after only one or two years because they couldn't stand to rebuild the transmission or completely replace the wiring one more time, and sales dropped into the pooper; it took a buyout by Ford to turn things around. Well, that's where Alabama is: It's a beautiful, storied program that nobody wants to coach because they have no confidence it's not going to leave them stranded on the side of the road after a few years. It's sad, but it is what it is.

Alabama : 1980s Jaguar :: Auburn : electrical system, I guess.

So I don't know what the fuck Alabama does now, but if I were them I'd focus less on hiring a new coach and more on hiring a new athletic director, because Mal Moore certainly doesn't seem capable of finding his ass with both hands and a map. First you fire a guy without having his replacement already lined up, then you not only offer a guy a job not knowing whether he'll take it, but you announce the offer to the media without even knowing if he has taken it? Smooth move, Ex-Lax. It's habitual for new ADs to want to choose their own coaches anyway, so dump Moore, which is a virtual inevitability at this point, find his replacement ASAP, and then let that presumably more competent replacement choose his own guy.

My suggestion: Steve Kragthorpe, who brought Tulsa back from the dead. And don't act like you deserve any better.

Friday Mystery Meat and Random Ten: Everything must go.

Trading the ol' post-victory couch arson for the ol' post-loss-to-Auburn brick through the window?

· I never actually thought it would happen -- and in fact I'm sure I made another one of my asinine public-humiliation wagers that it wouldn't -- but West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez has accepted Alabama's offer to become the next coach of the Crimson Tide. I'm happy for the Tide that they succeeded in snagging a first-choice-caliber coach for the first time maybe since Gene Stallings left T-Town; I hope Rodriguez knows what he's getting into with Bama's notoriously difficult-to-please fanbase, though, and I have to wonder what prompted him to leave the warm embrace of his alma mater in Morgantown, where he is pretty much a demigod at this point, for the 24-hour tightrope walk that is coaching at Alabama. Was it the bigger money, the chance to coach in the toughest conference in the country at one of college football's most heritage-laden programs? Or . . .

Whatever the reason, Tuscaloosa welcomes you with open arms. For now.

· At the other end of the spectrum, we have's final "Bottom 10" of the 2006 season, and it should come as a surprise to exactly no one that Florida International and Duke, the only two teams in Division I-A to go winless this year, wound up #1 and #2. So I'm with Benny at The M Zone: We need to pit those teams against each other to see who's really the worst. This "Toilet Bowl" is actually an idea I've had kicking around in my head for a while now, but it's time to go ahead and see what would happen on the field, because really, isn't that the only way we could know? My personal calculations have Duke winning a 22-21 nailbiter, but your mileage may vary. I think it'd still be a more compelling matchup than Central Michigan vs. MTSU in the Motor City Bowl.

· Speaking of bottom-feeder matchups, I'd like to see some kind of celebrity cage match between Lindsay Lohan -- elitist, rude, possibly developmentally disabled -- and anti-undergarments activist Britney Spears. Last one to vomit drunkenly all over herself, fall down, and flash her cooter at the audience wins.

· Oh, and Paris Hilton wants kids.

Yeah. I love kids. Being a mom is hott.

· Congratulations to Birmingham resident, Auburn grad and Official Friend of Hey Jenny Slater George Eich, who won the HJS Open College Football Pick 'Em contest so convincingly that he could've gone oh-fer the final week and still won. Yours Truly managed a podium finish with a second-place tie with the Annapolis Crab Trawlers, and also came in first in buddy Kevin's group, which used "confidence points" as opposed to point spreads. So I guess what that means is I'm good at picking winners, but George is the one who's actually going to be making money at it. Or something.

· There But For The Grace Of God Dept.:

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

Wow. Wow. I mean, the only reason this happened to her and not me was because I don't bother to light a match after I let one rip. Come to think of it, I usually don't even bother retiring to the bathroom, either. I usually just blast one out and then laugh uproariously about it. Or I pull the sheets over the girl's head and trap her under the covers with it, as per the old "Dutch oven" trick. I think it's funnier that way, n'est-ce pas? Basically I look at it like this -- there are two kinds of people in the world: People who can admit that farts are hilarious, and damn dirty liars.

· In case you were wondering which college football team the Cheerleader Curse is going to whack in the bowl season, it's Florida State. Which shouldn't come as a surprise, given that they were probably going to be an underdog to UCLA in the Emerald Bowl anyway; I just thought their cheerleader, Lauren Sauer, was adorable, that's all. So don't go saying anything bad about her on eBay.

When juxtaposed with the previous item, that "Make Some Noise" sign makes me laugh.

· And now the Random Ten:

1. Boards of Canada, "Roygbiv"
2. The Police, "Roxanne"
3. David Cross, "Welfare Dentist on a Bender"
4. Dusted, "Childhood"
5. R.E.M., "King of Comedy" (808 State remix)
6. Björk, "Play Dead"
7. U2, "Numb" (Gimme Some More Dignity mix)
8. U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (Live from Sarajevo)
9. Looking Glass, "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"
10. The Beastie Boys, "B-Boy Bouillabaisse"

Now you're welcome to put your own Ten, and your own handicapping for the Duke-FIU matchup, in the comments.

Wednesday, December 6

Waitin' for the time when I can get to Arizona . . .

Just to throw another log on the fire of the current BCS controversy, here's a column I wrote two years ago about this time regarding the BCS system. I hate to rehash my own shit on here, but it was applicable back then when I wrote it about Auburn and, despite slightly different circumstances, it's applicable now about Michigan. The culprit in the controversy is a little different this year -- alleged national-title-matchup gamesmanship on the part of the human voters rather than feckless computers -- but the main point still stands: The BCS sucks, and the reason it sucks is because it takes a lot of computer formulas nobody knows and a lot of human voters nobody has never heard of, jumbles all their data together, and expects college football fans -- maybe the single most emotional, rabidly partisan interest group in the country -- to just accept on its face whatever comes out.

Here are parts from that earlier column that, I think, are most directly applicable to 2006:

. . . [B]uilt on faith as it is, the BCS is like money: Its decisions are valuable only if the people value them. After seven years of this nonsense, it should be clear that they don't. The real question is, why is anyone surprised?

The BCS is trying to reduce college football, a pastime that has aroused more wildly illogical passions than anything since the Salem witch trials, down to mere numbers. . . .

. . . We as a nation are not predisposed to mathematics anymore -- these days you order a fast-food combo that comes to $5.78, you give the cashier a ten-dollar bill and three pennies and she looks at you like you're trying to hand her the monthly newsletter of the Church of Satan. But the BCS invites all these unbearably complicated computer rankings to the party, throws them in with the polls in yet another complicated formula, and asks the nation's entire college-football fan base to just blindly accept whatever pops out. . . .

. . . If we're supposed to trust the computers' judgment that Oklahoma and Southern Cal are better than Auburn, without needing to see it proven on the field, why don't we just trust the BCS's current judgment that the Trojans are better than the Sooners -- they say USC wins .9770 to .9681, so who needs the Orange Bowl? We didn't need to play that silly SEC championship game last week, either, because the BCS already said Auburn was better than Tennessee. Hell, let's just play the whole season that way! If we just let the computers simulate all the games for us and spit out a winner, not only would we have an iron-clad champion determined by the end of all the calculating (by the BCS's logic, at least), but we wouldn't actually have to risk any players on the field.

The BCS said it would give us an undisputed national champion, and it has -- if you have absolute faith in the system and trust that the computers are always right. The problem is nobody does anymore, and that's why the system needs to be junked. It has no authority, no credibility. These days, when it declares which two teams are most deserving of the national title, its edict garners about as much acceptance as Scott Peterson's advice on maintaining a healthy marriage.

When football fans disagree, there's only one way to settle it, and it's not with numbers -- it's on the field. We need to see which team is better with our own eyes. With that in mind, then, we need to decide this current BCS debacle not with calculations but with actual play on the field. We're not going to solve it with a calculate-off; we can only solve it with, if you will, a play-off. Hmmmm. Deciding winners on the field as opposed to inside a computer? Interesting. I wonder why nobody thought of that before.

So what's the solution? At the minimum, a plus-one game, and I'm not talking about the current faux plus-one that was simply an excuse to conjure an extra BCS bowl out of thin air, I'm talking about an actual plus-one whereby, say, this year the Ohio State-Florida winner would take on the Michigan-USC winner for all the marbles. In 2004, it would've put maybe the Oklahoma-Utah winner up against the USC-Auburn winner, thereby avoiding the furor that erupted from undefeated Auburn and Utah squads getting left out of the conversation entirely. Even last year, which was perfect given that we had 12-0 Texas taking on 12-0 USC, we could've pit Texas against Penn State and USC against West Virginia and then seated the winners from those two games in the Rose Bowl. Sure, that sounds like we'd be mucking with a perfect situation, but if Texas and USC are really the best two teams in the country, they should win their games and they'd have nothing to worry about.

I'd throw in a caveat that at least three of the four teams involved would have to be conference champions of some stripe, but beyond that, let's just let the chips fall where they may.

That system, at least, would be a better avenue for letting the final matchup be decided by play on the field rather than inside a hard drive or the head of a coach or sportswriter with an ulterior motive. Will it ever happen? Who knows, given that the dollar signs in the eyes of the bowl presidents and TV networks seem to be blocking out everything else at the moment. But good Lord, let's do something.

Tuesday, December 5

Blogpoll ballot #15: Now let the fisticuffs commence.

About this whole Florida/Michigan thing: Look, I feel for the Wolverine fans here, and Lord knows I wish it was Michigan that had had their tickets to Glendale punched weeks ago and Ohio State was the one sweating out their bowl destination. But can Michigan fans really take that much offense at the fact that people didn't want to see the Buckeyes and Wolverines play the same game twice in a row?

What Michigan really needs to do right now is focus on beating USC in the Rose Bowl and thus avoid the Kansas State Syndrome frequently contracted by teams who feel like they deserved better bowl bids than what they actually got. If Michigan loses to USC, then they've basically validated all the poll voters who thought they weren't good enough to deserve a second shot at the Buckeyes. But if they beat USC, there are two possible outcomes: Either 1) Florida does what neither Michigan nor anyone else could do and upsets OSU, thereby earning a national title fair and square, or 2) Florida loses to OSU, drops in the polls, and Michigan rises back up to No. 2 -- which is where pretty much everyone (Michigan fans included) thought they should be to begin with.

Look, you want to pass around the petition that says the BCS is a crock of bullshit, I'll sign it twice. But this year, at least, it is what it is. There's nothing that can be done about it now except to a)beat the Trojans and b) tell your Big Ten university presidents/ADs to lobby for changes in the system.

Anyway, now that the proselytizing is over with . . .

Games watched: First half of Louisville-Connecticut, flipped back and forth between Wake Forest-Georgia Tech and Army-Navy, the last couple minutes of UCLA-USC, Florida-Arkansas, part of Oregon State-Hawaii before I fell asleep.

1. Ohio State (last week: 1)

2. Michigan (2)

3. Florida (4)
Yeah, I've got Florida still below Michigan in my ballot, but I hardly think it should just be taken as a given that the Wolverines would beat the Gators. The BCS is fucked up, but it was fucked up long before this latest controversy arose.

4. LSU (5)

5. Oklahoma (9)
Though I consider myself a Longhorn fan, I have to feel a little happy for any team that recovers from the dismissal of their starting QB and a season-ending injury to their star tailback and a world class jobbing at the hands of the refs to fight their way into a BCS bowl anyway.

6. Louisville (6)

7. Wisconsin (8)

8. Arkansas (7)
Have to give them credit for at least putting up a fight, thereby treating us to the first SEC title game since probably LSU-Tennessee in 2001 that wasn't decided before the Dr. Pepper football throw at halftime. Everybody and his brother are going to be touting the Razorbacks for an SEC and, probably, a national title in 2007.

9. Southern California (3)

10. West Virginia (12)

11. Boise State (11)
A feel-good, the-system-actually-worked story in a BCS season that desperately needed one. A win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl would be 10 times bigger than Utah pasting a mediocre Pittsburgh team two years ago.

12. Auburn (13)
If Alanis Morrissette is still confused as to what actually constitutes irony, here's what it is: Irony is Tommy Tuberville bitching and moaning practically the entire season about how an SEC team can't make it to the BCS title game under the present system, and then having to watch as an SEC team does just that -- and it's a team he beat earlier in the season. I giggled just typing that.

13. Rutgers (10)
Michigan fans, you want to know what being screwed is? It's being no more than a triple-overtime two-point conversion from going to the Orange Bowl, but getting knocked down to the Texas Bowl, which 90 percent of the country couldn't even watch if they wanted to because it's on the fricking NFL Network, instead.

14. Tennessee (14)

15. Texas A&M (17)

16. Texas (18)

17. Wake Forest (20)
This is not to take anything away from Wake's victory, because I think it's awesome they've won their first conference title in nearly four decades, but the ACC should be embarrassed by what they saw in Jacksonville last weekend -- not what they saw on the field (though the game was certainly a snoozer), but what they saw in the stands. If I had just been idly flipping through the channels and didn't know what I was seeing, I would've assumed it was the C-USA title game, or worse. Even UAB can pack more people than that into the stands once every season or so.

18. California (15)

19. Notre Dame (16)

20. Boston College (21)

21. Virginia Tech (19)
On paper they should probably stomp the Bulldogs in the Peach Bowl, but the way Georgia's been playing the last couple weeks I'm not so sure. I'm just glad we ended up with a good bowl and a strong matchup.

22. Brigham Young (23)

23. Nebraska (22)

24. Georgia (24)

25. Texas Christian (NR/25)

The next five: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Oregon, State, Penn State, Missouri.

Dropped out: Georgia Tech (25).

Friday, December 1

Where have you gone, Coach Cut? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Alabama's coaching search may be reaching increasing heights (or depths) of hilarity, but lost in the hubbub is the fact that their little sister up I-20/59 is also looking for a new coach: UAB head football coach Watson Brown is relinquishing his position and considering a move to the post of athletic director, while offensive coordinator Pat Sullivan, the man who was the top candidate to replace Brown, has decided to take the head-coaching position at Samford instead.

I'm kind of split on this development. On the one hand, it's not exactly something you want to be puffing your chest out about when your own OC passes on the chance to take a promotion to the top job so that he can bump himself down to D-IAA. But on the other hand, if UAB thought the team underachieved this season (hint: they did), then Sullivan isn't that much less culpable than Brown is, so if you really want to make a change, perhaps it's best to start with a clean slate and not just bring someone up from the previous regime.

I, for one, welcome the opportunity to expand the coaching search outside our own walls. I read a rumor that the Blazers were pursuing Rick Neuheisel for the head coaching job (link courtesy EDSBS), which of course sent me into paroxysms of glee, but honestly there's another guy out there whom I think is even better suited for this job, and his hiring at UAB would make everything right with the world on a number of levels. UAB, if you don't at least offer the job to this guy, I don't care that you sign my paychecks, I'm putting you on my On Notice board.

Let's get this poor guy out of that nasty orange, stat.

David Cutcliffe. David Cutcliffe, who masterminded Tennessee's only-stoppable-by-Florida offense throughout the Vols' Peyton Manning/Tee Martin steak years of the mid-to-late '90s. David Cutcliffe, whose departure from said team almost instantly plunged it into a quivering cesspool of lax discipline and quarterback douchebaggery. David Cutcliffe, who led Ole Miss to probably its most consistent success since the John Vaught era, and whose subsequent knee-jerk firing was a display of administrative ass-wittedness so stunning in its hubris that it made Alabama look like a bastion of sanity and thoughtful consideration. David Cutcliffe, whose return to Tennessee this year almost singlehandedly turned the Vols from a 5-6 basket case back into an at least somewhat offensively competent, New-Year's-Day-bowl-bound SEC competitor.

Considering that Cutcliffe didn't even want to give up the Ole Miss job in the first place, you've got to think that the desire to be a head coach at some level still burns in his heart. And where better to do that than Birmingham, Alabama, his hometown, where he got his coaching start at Banks High School? Like Watson Brown, Cutcliffe has a connection to Bear Bryant (Brown was offered a scholarship by Bryant back in the '60s, and while he elected to go to Vanderbilt instead, he and the Bryant family supposedly remained close; Cutcliffe actually attended Bama and served as a student assistant under the Bear). And perhaps most importantly, he has a reputation for discipline that the Blazers quite frankly could really use right now. The last two seasons have seen the Blazers kill potentially promising campaigns with mental errors and stupid-ass penalties; as my friend Darren (who covers UT sports for a paper in Tennessee) mentioned earlier this season, Cutcliffe's return to Knoxville helped inspire greater discipline, greater effort, and better decisions from the UT players. There is a pretty good talent base at UAB right now, including a young quarterback, Joseph Webb, who's already done some exciting things even in limited action over the last few games of the season. With a guy like Cutcliffe there to develop him like he developed, say, Peyton Manning and Tee Martin (and got Erik Ainge's head screwed on straight, incidentally), who knows what UAB could accomplish?

Plus, I can't overstate how big a punch to the gut it would be to Tennessee if they were to lose him. Not that that's first and foremost on my mind or anything.

The biggest worry right now is that Alabama might try to snake him first, but oddly enough I haven't heard him mentioned even once in the Bama conversation, what with the Tide too busy tilting at ridiculous windmills like Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban, and even as an Alabama grad, Cutcliffe might be loath to ditch Tennessee for their biggest rival. So it's time to strike while the iron is hot, UAB. At least give this guy an interview; then give him an offer. This is the guy who could help the Blazers take a big step forward in a C-USA that's pretty much ripe for the picking at this point, and he's not even some unattainable, pie-in-the-sky candidate. Get after him! Make me proud!

And if he says no, go ahead and get after Rick Neuheisel. 'Cause that would be kinda awesome, too.

Friday Random Ten: Mental health day.

No, mental health.

Honestly I don't know why I put that picture up there -- that album cover scared the piss out of me when I was five years old.

But anyway, Yours Truly is taking the day off to live large, take care of some chores, and perhaps recover from the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in probably two weeks. Seriously, my body clock has somehow been thrown off to the point where if I manage to sleep until 4 a.m., it's a big deal. In other words, it was the perfect time to hear a story on NPR about a genetic disease called fatal familial insomnia. I mean, I know I don't have that, but still, when you're awake at 4 a.m. and already don't have anything to do other than worry about stuff like how much credit-card debt I'm carrying around, how I'm scrambling to make deadline for this thing or that thing, etc. etc., it's easy to also start thinking, "Wow, what if I actually die from a lack of sleep?"

So like I said, mental health day. I'm very excited about it. The Ten:

1. Thievery Corporation, "Interlude"
2. Underworld, "Play Pig"
3. Gorillaz, "DARE"
4. The Beatles, "Revolution 1"
5. The Clash, "This is Radio Clash"
6. The Beautiful South, "Liars' Bar"
7. DJ Cam, "Success" (Thievery Corporation remix)
8. A Tribe Called Quest, "Mr. Muhammad"
9. Miles Davis, "So What"
10. Albion, "Air"

Put your own Ten in the comments . . . it's cathartic.