Sunday, July 30, 2006

Let's dig a bit deeper

It's good to see that I prompted a healthy discussion with my last post concerning who the greatest college football program of all time was. Unfortunately, it got interpreted as an 'I-hate-Notre-Dame-party' from yours truly ... or, as Paul put it, an 'I-want-to-suck-up-Michigan-extravaganza.'

Both are wrong ... particularly the latter. I've got nothing personal against Michigan, but I'm just not a fan. There's no incentive for me to say Michigan is better than Notre Dame, and there's no real reason for me to poormouth the Irish. It's a good program with a ton of tradition. However, my original intent was to push through all of that aura and show how Notre Dame is just like everyone else when it comes to successful college football programs.

So let me go on record as saying I'm perfectly content in letting an Irish fan argue that the tradition and pageantry of Notre Dame football is perhaps the greatest in all the land - though even that could be questioned ... they've obviously never heard "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" at an Alabama game.

Before leaving the Alabama discussion, however, let me also say how absurd it is to say one of the three winningest coaches of all time isn't one of the best of his era. Dude, the coach of the year award is named after this guy.

Also, let me rise to the defense of Southern football again. I get absolutely frustrated with the whole notion that Alabama's national championships - or those of any other Southern team - are not on par with Notre Dame's or another school's because the schedule was overwhelmingly against Southeastern programs. That's an insult to this region's football which, as evidenced by the success of Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Florida and a whole host of other programs, is, without a doubt, among the best in the country. Players from the Southeast litter the rosters of schools like Notre Dame and Michigan and Southern Cal and Oklahoma, so to say it's not same caliber is laughable.

Furthermore, can we drop once and for all, the concept that you have to play outside of your region or conference to qualify for national title contention? Consider Auburn in 2004, which was shut out of the BCS Championship Game because of a 'soft' out-of-conference schedule. Southern California faced two quality teams in Virginia Tech and California, while Oklahoma defeated Texas. Auburn was penalized for its non-conference games, but defeated No. 6 LSU (the defending BCS national champion), No. 10 Tennessee and No. 8 Georgia in the regular season. The Tigers then beat Tennessee again to win the SEC championship and knocked off No. 9 Virginia Tech, the ACC champion, in the Sugar Bowl.

They may not be much for the book-learnin' ... but Carnell Williams and the 2004 Auburn Tigers could play.

The competition level in the SEC is considerably more rigorous week-in and week-out than any other conference in the country. This isn't to take anything away from the Big Ten and ACC, which are two fine conferences in their own right.

Now, as I nudge my soap box to the side, let's get back to the task at hand. Xon made the valid point of suggesting we look at what we perceive the 'modern era' of college football to be, say, after 1950. I thought this would do a disservice to Notre Dame considering how successful the program had been in the 1940s, so I decided to examine from 1940 on.

I also broke it down even further to examine the success of programs from 1980 on, seeing how this is now a complete quarter-century and allows us to evaluate the remarkable successes the Florida schools have compiled.

I had reached a tentative conclusion that, if nothing else, Michigan deserved to be at least mentioned with Notre Dame as one of the top programs of all time. So we'll start with the Wolverines.

From 1940 to the present day, Michigan has rolled up a 513-183-16 record, punctuated by three national titles. Notre Dame, in the same time span, compiled a 503-201-18 record with an astounding nine national titles, four of them captured in the 1940s. Head-to-head, the Irish lead the Wolverines 13-10-1 in this time span.

So it's a tough call. Surely Notre Dame's national championships, coupled with its impressive number of All-Americans and Heisman Trophy winners, appear to give the Irish a slight edge. However, All-Americans and Heisman Trophies are, by in large, political things and voters tend to give Notre Dame student-athletes a little more recognition than other schools (Paul Horning anyone?).

Seriously, I don't mean that as a slight, but it does make it a kinda tough category to factor in. It's a close race with Michigan having actually won more games and racking up 18 10-win seasons to Notre Dame's 11. Still the Irish hold the head-to-head advantage and a wide lead in recognized national championships.

However, perhaps we have all spoken to soon. As we take a look at some of the other 'Big Eight' teams, we see a couple rise to the top. Oklahoma compiled a ridiculous 543-181-16 mark in that time span with seven national championships. It's true the Irish did run up an 8-1 record against the Sooners, but most of those victories came in the 1960s when Oklahoma was going through a down cycle in between the coaching stints of Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer.

Nebraska, likewise, went 507-225-10, with most of their losses coming in the 1940s and 1950s before Bob DeVaney and Tom Osborne took the program to new heights. The Cornhuskers won five national championships, including the 1995 team which, in my opinion, is the greatest national champion of all time. Nebraska went 3-2 against the Irish, but again most of those games came in down years for both programs.

Alabama compiled a 517-209-21 mark with seven national championships (including the much-debated 1973 one), but the Crimson Tide struggled against Notre Dame in the bowl games.

And, in an omission which is sure to bother both Michigan and Notre Dame fans, Penn State has gone 520-185-12 since 1940 with two national championships and six undefeated seasons. The Nittany Lions also hold an 8-5 advantage over the Irish, but are on the short end of an 8-3 deficit to the Wolverines. As an aside, I think it's completely unfair Penn State gets looked down upon for their successes in the 1960s and 1970s. The played competitive schedules which, according to my research, routinely featured two or three ranked opponents.

Also, something to please Notre Dame fans, why in the world does Southern California get so much credit? The Trojans have a 491-219-29 mark since 1940, including a 24-35-4 record against the Irish. If it wasn't for the impressive 48-4 run the past four seasons, Southern California would be idling in the middle of the pack. As a result, I'm bumping the Trojans from the 'Big Eight' and replacing them with Penn State.

Fellas, if it wasn't for this guy, you'd be stuck with the memories of Rodney Peete.

Georgia, for what it's worth, has gone 484-239-24 with two national championships. I'd argue it's got the second-best historical program in the SEC, but we can get into that another day.

However, as I began to take a look at this, I felt this format was a bit unfair to the Florida schools which have dominated the college football landscape since 1980. The trio of Florida, Florida State and Miami have combined to win eight national championships, send hordes of players to the NFL and instigate numerous brawls in the tunnels in the past quarter-century.

Still, since 1980 Nebraska has compiled the most wins, running up a 262-63-4 mark and winning three national championships. Miami is close behind with a 255-57 record and five national championships, while Florida State is 252-63-4 with two national titles. The Cornhuskers have run up 17 10-win seasons, the Seminoles 16 and the Hurricanes 14.

Against Notre Dame, Miami is 6-4 since 1980 (but 7-15-1 overall), Florida State is 4-2 and Nebraska is 2-0.

Penn State has gone 223-88-2 with a pair of national championships, 11 10-win seasons and an 8-4 advantage over the Irish. Florida has run up a 230-83-4 record with nine 10-win seasons and a national championship.

Georgia, by the way, is 221-87-5 with 10 10-win seasons, five SEC championships and one national title.

As for Notre Dame, the Irish have gone 204-102-4 with one national championship and six 10-win seasons.

Like it or not Irish fans, one of those 10-win deals came under this guy.

It's hard to pick who's the best. Surely since 1980, there's little to suggest Miami has performed at the most consistent level. At their heyday, playing the Hurricanes was like climbing into the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. Teams were intimidated, and the Hurricanes' dominance supports that. Five national championships is impressive.

Nebraska's run from 1994 through 1998 is perhaps one of the best five-year runs in college football history, up there with Notre Dame's success in the 1940s, Oklahoma's in the mid-1950s and Southern California's the past few years. The Cornhuskers, however, might have been the best dynasty over a short period of time. Those guys humiliated teams week-in and week-out. They abused them, and we may never see a stretch like that again.

Since 1940, though, I'm not sure if I can make a clear judgement. I can't in good faith say that Notre Dame is the premier program because I don't believe the statistics support it. If anything, I'd say rank Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma evenly at the top, with Alabama, Nebraska and Penn State hovering on the second level.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Who's the greatest

Perhaps partially inspired by the discussion going on concerning who to pull for between Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, I got to thinking about the prestige and tradition of Notre Dame.

And I was doing this thinking, and reading all of the comments about how great and wonderful the lore of the Fighting Irish is ... I got kinda bothered by it. Out of more than 100 Division I-A college football teams, Notre Dame is the 'best' with the richest tradition? The Irish are considered the top program in history? Why do we assume this? Is it because of actual statistical evidence or is it more of a myth ... something perpetuated by NBC contracts and "Touchdown Jesus" and "Win One For The Gipper" ... who knows?

So I decided to do a little digging into some of the history of college football's top programs, as recognized by most observers. I whittled the list down to eight programs I'd consider the most successful ones in history:

Notre Dame
Ohio State
Southern California

I came to these particular programs based on all-time won-loss records, bowl visits and bowl victories, Heisman Trophy winners, etc. By taking a look at some of these stats and records, I wanted to see how Notre Dame stacked up with the others and if it was worthy of all of the adulations it receives.

Now, a disclaimer, though I used the evidence I found, this is by no means a scientific study - there is no formula nor ratings system. Simply me analyzing the situation and coming up with what I feel is the most logical conclusion.

What I found was that, aside from those intangibles I mentioned earlier, nothing about Notre Dame's history jumps out and says the Irish deserve the pedestal they've been given.

Notre Dame has captured 12 national championships, but so has Alabama, who also lumped in 28 total conference championships into mix. The Crimson Tide also have played in 53 bowl games, compiling a record of 30-20-3 (the most bowl wins in NCAA history).

The Fighting Irish, in what I feel is a particularly damning piece of evidence, played in only one bowl game prior to 1970. Of Notre Dame's 12 national titles, nine of them came prior to the school's decision to enter into postseason play, meaning the Fighting Irish were rarely challenged by a team of supposedly equal caliber for the bulk of their titles.

Furthermore, Notre Dame's overall bowl record is a rather pedestrian 13-14, including eight consecutive losses punctuated by last year's disappointing defeat to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

But, as some Notre Dame fans like to point out, the Irish did compile a 5-1 record against Alabama, including back-to-back victories in the postseason of the 1973 and 1974 seasons. So we take a look at how the 'Big Eight' fared against each other, and we again find nothing standing out from Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish compiled the following records:

5-1 vs. Alabama
14-18-1 vs. Michigan
7-8-1 vs. Nebraska
2-3 vs. Ohio State
8-2 vs. Texas
8-1 vs. Oklahoma
42-30-5 vs. Southern California

Four series with winning records, all to be noted with clear advantages, but three series with losing records, including one to a pivotal rival in Michigan.

By contrast, take a look at Michigan's record:

2-1 vs. Alabama
3-2-1 vs. Nebraska
18-14-1 vs. Notre Dame
57-39-6 vs. Ohio State
0-1 vs. Oklahoma
0-1 vs. Texas
4-5 vs. Southern California

Just like the Irish, the Wolverines own advantages in four of the seven series, and if you take away Vince Young in the 2005 Rose Bowl, they'd have five of seven. Plus Michigan has won 42 conference championships, seven national titles and an Division I-A-best 848 overall victories.

And we find these kinds of equals across the board - Notre Dame has seven Heisman Trophy Winners ... so does Southern California. The Irish have more than 800 total victories ... so do Michigan and Nebraska.

And if we take a look at some of the existing data, we find that much of Notre Dame's success came largely in the 1920s and the 1940s. It's remarkable success, to be sure, but those numbers tend to artificially inflate their overall rankings. Notre Dame captured four national titles in the 1940s, losing only nine games in the entire decade.

However, upon looking at the 1950s and 1960s, we see a return to earth for the Irish. It was still an impressive 126-65-8, but it doesn't compare to the gaudy 155-50-4 record Oklahoma put up and, all things considered, it isn't that much better than Georgia's 110-87-13 mark over the same 20-year span.

It seems to me the Irish were the program from 1920 through 1949, however they have done little to distinguish themselves since then. A title pops up here and there, but Notre Dame has done little - in comparison with the other members of the 'Big Eight' as well as upstart competitors like Miami and Florida State - to stake a longterm claim to its supposed throne.

In fact, one could make the argument that Michigan has an equal, if not better, history.

The Wolverines hold the head-to-head advantage over Notre Dame, have the most wins of any Division I-A college football program in history and have won more bowl games than the Irish. They've rolled up 487 victories in Big Ten play and do not have a losing record against the major conferences (including an 18-5 mark against the SEC).

Furthermore, they've enjoyed considerably more success from 1950 to the present day than Notre Dame as far as consistently winning. All of the hype around Notre Dame appears to be just that.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Music and memories

As I was driving home last night - singing along to Billy Joel's 'Keeping The Faith' - I began to think of all of those particular songs and artists which have stood out to me. And by that I mean, analyze those songs which will always be rooted in my memory. Either I distinctly remember the first time I ever heard that particular song and/or artist, or the song itself is wrapped up in some special memory I have.

For instance, I've already mentioned how one of my favorite memories from my childhood is watching my parents dance to 'Pencil Thin Mustache' by Jimmy Buffett during a trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C., back when I was either seven or eight.

And there are other ones. I'll never be able to hear either 'Crazy Love' by Van Morrison or 'I've Been Lonely Too Long' by The Young Rascals without thinking of The Wife. 'Love Shack' by The B-52s is burned into my brain because I remember Russ singing it incredibly loudly in Xon's van back in high school. I can't forget my days with Marc and C Trent at The Washington Street Tavern whenever I hear 'U-Way' by YoungBloodz because they played that song every night.

Music is a powerful form of artistry. It has the power to directly conjure up those memories and experiences you've had, and to make you relive them all over again.

So, for fun on this Friday, I decided to think about a handful of those songs and/or artists who I'll never forget the first time I heard them:

- 'Miss Grace' by The Thymes - This was one of those 1960s R&B/soul/shag/beach songs that my parents absolutely loved and, as a result, heavily influenced my musical likes. I remember a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with some friends of the family, and they had a tape with this particular song on there. I loved it and still do ... though sadly, I can't find it for sale anywhere.

- 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana - I really think you couldn't have not been in either middle school or high school in the early 1990s and not remember where you were the first time you heard this song. I'm not really a big Nirvana fan, but I can tell you I was at a pathetically lame Tutt Middle School dance when I first heard this song.

- 'Dazzey Duks' by Duice - Again, not the best memory I've got for you, but it's always burned in my brain that I was a freshman at Westside-Augusta with Russ at Mandi Echol's house preparing signs for a pep rally. Though this was probably my first experience with Southern bass rap, and I did enjoy that.

- 'Diddy' by Paperboy - Since we're talking about rap ... while The Fat Boys were the first rap group I ever remember hearing, this was the first rap song I heard which blew my mind. After hearing this at possibly the same pep rally I helped prepare signs for, Lee McGill was happy to make a tape for me with this song.

- Tupac - Way too many songs to even process. The first time I heard 'Picture Me Rollin'' or perhaps 'California Love' or maybe 'To Live And Die In L.A.' which ultimately led me to 'Bomb First' ... almost every song I heard is engrained in my memory.

- 'My City of Ruins' by Bruce Springsteen - As I've written before, 9/11 deeply affected me and my outlook on the world, and when I saw Springsteen perform this song during the multi-network telethon just a few nights after the tragic events of that morning, I realized I was watching something I'd never forget. Furthermore, it made me search deeper into Springsteen's vast archive of music.

- 'Bring Me To Life' by Evanescence - And, I'll freely admit, this is one of the weakest songs on the CD. However, Amy Lee's voice and the truly unusual, yet innovative mixture of sounds on the track - first heard while driving on The Loop as I headed toward Commerce - got me hooked. As an aside, I have a second moment involving Amy Lee as I remember seeing 'Broken' on MTV ... though she won't sing this song anymore since she broke up with random dude who sings it with her.

It's an imperfect list, done primarily off the top of my head ... but it's a start. What do you think? What songs stand out in your memory?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Couple of things

- With regard to the Canine Angels fiasco, Tommy Irvin slaps back at the Athens Banner-Herald editorial board with a healthy dose of logic and how basic state law functions.

- Had an excellent turnout for the first Figgie's@Five at the ole musee with music provided by Mark Maxwell and Christopher Henderson. I'd like to encourage folks to check out Chris's My Space page since he really came through big time for us.

- Since when did reporting the news become the equivalent of a children's playground? Gee, since when Fox News got involved! Seriously folks, not that I've ever not questioned the professionalism of those guys, but now I have legitimate doubts about their maturity.

- More non-answers regarding the Georgia quarterback scenario. I ain't buying it. Joe T starts out, and Matt Stafford finishes. It's lunacy if it's anything else.

- Beverely Kelley's rationale seems a bit off to me. So you think there were voting irregularities, but you're not going to contest the election? Instead, you're going to check it on your own so you can 'win the war' ... huh?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Couple of things

- OK, a day after I disagreed with the Athens Banner-Herald's position regarding the Canine Angels fiasco, let me hop to their defense here - Dennis Connelly Jr.'s letter is absolutely absurd. I kept waiting for him to say how the free media is jeopardizing our troops in Iraq. Seriously ... the ABH has given extensive coverage to the Tara Baker murder (a disproportionate amount compared to other murders in this area) and simply suggesting how she was murdered isn't going to do anything to hinder this investigation.

- Thanks to a loyal reader, I realized I had inadvertantly ommitted Jim Ponsoldt's name from my rundown of Athens-Clarke County Commission races. The good professor is running against Doug Lowery and James Garland for the District One seat. I couldn't find a web site for Ponsoldt, so if anyone knows of it, please let me know.

- Both Hillary and Athens Politics have pointed out the shortcomings of mayoral candidate Charlie Maddox's publicity materials, including his push pieces and web site. Heck, I've pointed out how awful his web site is. However, I've heard from different folks a major web site overhaul is in the works (one can only hope it lacks the exclamation points and unnecessary flashing images), and I've seen proof that he does indeed possess more visually pleasing and well-written push pieces. So, in the name of fairness for all ... I'll give him a break for a bit.

- Russ delights us with more tales from Chicago ... and this one is chock full of pictures.

- Breaking news ... a marginally coherent letter by Johney Friar! Though it's actually more common sense, though he does say that Jon Stewart is a 'liberal icon.' Dude, he's a comedian. If government was chock full of liberals, he'd be having a field day with them too.

- Continuing his incredible thoroughness, The Realist unveils his take on the ACC for 2006. And we salute you sir. The Coastal Division is here, while the Atlantic Division is here.

- In news that is possibly only cool to me, and is sure to elicit mocking from Hillary, Evanescence is coming out with a new CD in October. So here is the video of 'Going Under' which is my personal favorite, as well as an acoustic version of the same song. And, in a weird discovery, some song about Cartoon Network that Amy Lee recorded.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Couple of things

- I've seen ridiculous editorials by the Athens Banner-Herald but this one was is ridiculous to the highest degree. The state is to blame for the situation at Canine Angels? Not the two women who actually fostered the inhumane conditions? Why in the world is the state to blame when the documentation the ABH published shows that progress is being made? They fault Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin for not acting sooner, but his statements reveal that, according to investigations and follow-up visits, progress was being made (or so it appeared). Furthermore, why should we fault Irvin's office for laying out the steps for the organization to take in order to better it's lot? The ABH, in its very weird and seemingly ongoing persecution of Irvin (I wonder how they couldn't work a fried pie lady reference into here), attempts to make these two women sound like innocent victims ... and that isn't the case.

- The University of Georgia community remembers Kevin Brophy.

- Hillary offers a brief take of some things I overlooked in my retellingl of Summer Soiree 2006 ... including the mention of the irrational number of pastel-colored shirts worn by the men. Seriously, I can think of at least five folks who came in with pink shirts on. What are the odds of that happening?

- Georgia Sports Blog makes fun of Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, and poking fun at Tech is always a good time.

- By the way ... check out the Rocky Balboa trailer. Is it me, or does it look kinda good?

Local races set

Thanks to the hard work of an elections board investigative committee, Deborah Walker-Lucas was disqualified from a District Three race for Athens-Clarke County Commissioner, thus finalizing our contested races for the fall.

One quick word on Walker-Lucas - it's pretty pathetic and disappointing that someone who is, or at least claims to be, a member of the clergy feels the need to repeatedly lie and cheat in order to simply run for office. She gave two completely different addresses as her place of residence, and then proceeded to concoct elaborate stories about why she didn't actually live there ... and why that should permit her to challenge George Maxwell for a seat on the commission.

No matter. Our contested races look pretty good.

In District One, Republican James Garland is taking on Democrat Doug Lowry, who lacks a web site. This should be a closer-than-expected race. Lowry has been involved with local politics for quite some time, but Garland has been able to tap into some of the resentment many citizens have toward some of the local government's recent actions regarding development, quality-of-life and regulating, er, banning, smoking in public places. They're both sharp individuals, and this one should be good.

In District Nine, it's a four-way free-for-all that is probably headed for a runoff. Ed Vaughan, Kelly Girtz, Chuck Jones and Alvin Sheets (no web site found) are all seeking the superdistrict seat currently held by Tom Chasteen. Vaughan's got good name recognition, as does Sheets. Girtz seems young and energetic, while Jones wishes he was seeking office in Cobbham.

For Athens-Clarke County Mayor, Mayor Heidi Davison is back, seeking a second term. Her top challenger appears to be Chasteen, who is working hard to round up what is considered the 'Old Athens' vote. Charlie Maddox - whose nightmare of a web site only continues to grow worse - is slowly building some momentum in the business community, while Andy Rusk continues to take an unconventional approach to seeking the top office in the community. And lest we not forget about Richard DeRose, who unsuccessfully sought the job in 2002.

If I had to pick right now ... I'd say Lowry by a hair in District One (though it's honestly 50-50 right now), Sheets and Girtz in a runoff in District Nine with Girtz coming through and Davison and Chasteen in a runoff for mayor, with Heidi squeaking out in the end.

Of course, we're several months out ... and I could be way off.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wet, but not really so wild

A couple of years ago, The Wife and I attended a party thrown by some friends of ours which was labeled as the 'Third Annual ...' and it got us thinking. We needed our own event, something which would be our 'thing.' So last year, to much fanfare, we launched the Summer Soiree and enjoyed a strong turnout (probably 50 or so folks).

Hoping to boost our crowd even more, we moved it from late August to late July for the 2006 edition, knowing that us hosting the premier social event of the summer would surely bring in the hordes. What we didn't take into consideration was the fact that, even in a drought, occasionally it rains on this planet.

And that's what happened this past weekend, probably depriving us of - according to unofficial estimates by The Wife - 10 to 15 additional folks (I'm looking at you Athens Politics guys).

Still, for all of the bad weather - and we had our portion of bad weather this past Saturday - it turned out to be a success. We pushed 40 people at our peak time, the majority of home gathered in our garage and under some tents in the front yard.

Rain or shine, preparations continued for the party.

But before we go any further, it's imperative I recognize the 'MVPs' of the Summer Soiree 2006 ... those individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty.

First off, Ed joked with me a few weeks back he wanted to be there 'all day' ... so we took him up on that and made him pressure wash our patio, as well as other errands. Likewise, Matt delivered for us by hauling off some boxes to recycling, loaning us some servingware and picking us up a Cornhole set.

Bly (wife of Russ) came through like a champ. Originally, it was our understanding she had a couple tables and chairs we could borrow. However, as I spoke with her Saturday morning, it became clear she had two large tents we could also use ... and those tents were absolutely crucial to our success.

And, of course, we can't forget the efforts of my folks. Mom and Dad came through like champs, as they always do, on short notice and delivered.

How can you not love these two people?

As far as the party itself, it turned out to be a rousing success. We had good representation from across the board. The strongest showing, percentage-wise, came from the good people at the museum (so everyone pat yourself on the back), with the crowd from First Baptist Church of Athens coming in a close second.

Flanked by Team Brown on both sides, Brenda, Carissa, Carissa's husband Patrick and Lanora represent for the ole musee and celebrate winning the 'Almost Perfect Attendence Award.'

The addition of the game of cornhole was also key. Now we were hindered by heavy thundershowers for a bit, but when it wasn't raining, guests were flocking to the side yard to enjoy a game that's a bit like Bocci, but definitely much more redneck.

Obligatory, blurry, action photo of Jared and Ed ... all dramatic-like.

As you can see, it was a most riveting contest.

We had food supplied by the good folks at Rooster's BBQ, though mom and I helped put together some collard greens, cole slaw and potato salad. Though, in what was a brilliant move on the appetizer front, my mother secured some boiled peanuts from a friend of hers back home.

This made The Wife happy.

Seriously, if you think this is impressive, you should see her go to town on some crab legs.

We should also recognize the heroism of Scott and Meimi, who braved the elements to drive from Atlanta just for a few hours ... contemplating turning around in Jefferson as rain came down in sheets. Still, they came, and we salute you.

Scott came, he saw ... and he photographed himself.

Most folks stuck around for a couple of hours, and began to head out between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., with a core group of loyal supporters sticking around ... thus producing the following photos.

All Matt and Caroline wanted was a nice picture of them together ... and Ed.

In one of the more unusual, and a little awkward, moments of the night ... Ed ordered me to dance with his wife.

And Lindsey, now joined by Caroline, continued right on dancing.

Ed finally gets in the act, though it's completely random and is punctuated by him yelling "'this is when my dad would be shouting 'it ain't the shag unless your knees touch the ground!'"

Really, all Scott and Meimi wanted was to pick up those two tents they needed ... but they protected our feelings, and we love them for that.

Lindsey, Caroline, The Wife and Amy enjoy a down moment.

I mean, really, what evening is completely without Ed grabbing some amphibian?

And, finally, your humble hosts.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Negative recruiting and good journalism

I briefly alluded to this in today's installment of 'Couple of Things', but I think it's worth fleshing out a little more, particularly in light of Paul's defense of Notre Dame at Classic Ground (seeing that he is, after all, a Notre Dame fan).

First off, regarding the allegations, and as I said earlier, let's not get shocked by this. I remember doing a recruiting diary for Antonio Mercier who said similar things concerning Georgia's pursuit of him following an initial commitment to South Carolina, so the concept of coaches saying things to boost their standing in comparison with rival programs isn't unheard of.

So forgive me if I find it very difficult to believe that Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame coaching staff - particularly when you see how much bravado and attitude they have brought to South Bend - didn't say some things, possibly negative, about Clemson. This man is a walking, talking, living, breathing embodiment of human machismo who thrives on the 'us vs. them' mentality, so for him to say the equivalent of 'well, golly gee, all we did was say how swell Notre Dame is' is laughable. I'm quite sure some coaches on his staff said some things about Clemson that could be construed as negative (I mean, haven't we all?).

All of that said ... I don't necessarily know if that is a bad thing. It probably isn't a good thing, but it may not be entirely evil or anything. Football is football, and folks say things about their rivals. Coaches want to get the best players possible, so this is just like any other business and that means they try to win (and it's a big reason why Notre Dame fans, like Paul, love Weis).

And, keeping this in perspective with, say, the Albert Means debacle a few years back, a few macho and disparaging words aren't necessarily that bad. I'd rather have a coach say 'why do you want to go to Florida where you'll be surrounded by all of those jean shorts' than say 'why do you want to go Florida ... here's a new Escalade?'

Now, regarding the actual allegations, apparently incoming Clemson freshman Jamie Cumbie told Larry Williams of the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier that after the former had committed to the Tigers, Weis and other Notre Dame coaches continued recruiting him (not unusual) and sent him letters which disparaged Clemson and called the school's education 'horrible.'

A week later, Cumbie changes his tune, says that he spoke out-of-turn and that Notre Dame didn't do any of the like (conspiracy theorists are already working on this one, I bet). Paul faults Williams for this, and I disagree with him.

Now, I need a brief disclaimer here - I know Larry having worked with him some back when he was at the Augusta Chronicle and I was at the Athens Banner-Herald. But that disclaimer also comes with some insight. Larry was a good reporter who worked hard, and I sincerely doubt that he would simply publish something to make Notre Dame look bad because there is no real reason to do so.

Perhaps he should have sought comment from Notre Dame after Cumbie opened his mouth, but ultimately we don't know if he did or didn't (policies for newspapers disclosing whether or not they sought and were denied comment vary at each outlet).

To me, it seems like Larry picked up on a good sound bite - and it was arguably a good sound bite - and wrote a story about it. Turns out the kid misspoke (possibly), and as a result there is another story to write. It doesn't seem to be a 'hack job' at all in my book, but rather the pursuit of a story.

As far as relating this to Gary Gray's backing off of a verbal commitment to South Carolina to take a closer look at Notre Dame, the two are definitely connected ... particularly for a newspaper in South Carolina. It searches for a pattern - the pattern being that one recruit says Notre Dame continued to go after him while another says he now wants to think about going there, presumably because the Irish kept after him. And if you follow Clemson or South Carolina athletics, and one school from the Midwest keeps going after guys who say they want to play for your school, this is a valid story.

I don't see what's there to get all up in arms about? If I was Weis, I'd say 'you're damn right we said Clemson sucked ... this is friggin' Notre Dame, and we own this place!' ... or something like that.

Of course, if I was Weis, I'd also implore Jimmy Clausen to do something about his LFO-like hair cut.

Couple of things

- Everyone keep the family of Kevin Brophy, as well as his coaches, teammates and friends, in your prayers. The Georgia basketball player was killed yesterday in a terrible car accident in Greene County. The Athens Banner-Herald has the story.

- Not that this doesn't happen often, but can we try to not disparage the rival institutions in the recruiting process? Lay out what your school can offer - academically, athletically and socially - but hold off openly berating the school which wins the kid.

- It's kind of interesting to me that an organization which was strongly denying charges of animal cruelty, is now in trouble because they, well, just flat-out left town ... leaving behind more than 100 animals in the process. I like the one guy saying the 'financial and emotional strains wore them down' ... because that's OK to completely abandon your mission and live a collection of animals - something you're supposed to really care about - to suffer in the heat.

- I meant to link to this sooner, but this is easily the best mail bag Bill Simmons has done in a while. Complete with references to K-Fed and Taylor Hicks.

- Let me give some credit to a pair of local candidates who are quietly working the Athenian blogosphere - Kelly Girtz and James Garland. We focus a lot of the pleasingly blog-friendly campaign waged by Andy Rusk and the earnest debate brought by Chuck Jones (even though I disagree with the fella, at least he's out here battling), and I think we overlook these two.

Girtz is seeking the superdistrict seat for District Nine of the Athens-Clarke County Commission, and he just launched his web site ... and it's an impressive one at that. Thanks for the heads-up.

And Garland has been an active participant on a variety of discussions, offering solid insight and an alternative, albeit more conservative, voice on plenty of issues. But he's done so with humility, grace and in the spirit of engaging in civil dialogue. So let's commend him for doing that and encourage both of them to keep on coming back.

Let's get it started ...

I've always been a sucker for good, quality montages of sporting events. Back in 1992, I remember borrowing from Xon his recorded copy of Game Four of the 1992 World Series, which had a remarkable score and a really cool shot of Tom Glavine to close it out.

So, and Kyle at Dawg Sports linked to something like this a little while back, I'd like to ask what song ESPN will pick for its College Gameday theme this year. For two years, they used Bubba Sparxxx's 'Back in the Mud' which was an excellent pick ... and, yes, the fact the guy is a huge Georgia fan who insists on sticking Steve Herndon into every video did play a role in my decision. But also, ESPN required him to record new versions each week to reflect the big games of the day.

This was the far superior choice to open up a day of college football than ESPN's selection last year, Big and Rich's 'Coming to Your City.' Though I will say that ESPN gets bonus points for four Georgia clips, including a D.J. Shockley dive into the end zone and Greg Blue demolishing an Auburn wide receiver.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Couple of things

- This is a few days old, but have you seen the coverage of the Homeland Security funding? Granted it's not a thrilling story, but it's incredibly odd.

The state of Indiana has been classified as having the most potential terror targets - 8,591 - which is considerably more than New York (5,687) and California (3,212). Our Homeland Security Department also determined that Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo was under more of a threat than Times Square, which was even listed as a potential target.

- Election Day may have come and gone, but don't forget that we've got runoff races in the area. Be sure to get out and cast your ballot in those. It only takes a few minutes, so go be part of the process.

- This is a shameless plug, but it should be fun. The museum is hosting something new called Figgie's@Five, and it starts next Wednesday. It's one of my brainchilds, so you ought to come out and enjoy yourself. The good folks at Athens World are planning on doing so.

- As Athens-Clarke County recovers from another swift kick to the shins regarding the Orkin Tract, the Athens Banner-Herald wonders how we might actually go about and get that thing used. The loss of the vaccine plant hurts, big-time. Those were good jobs - ranging from high-skill to entry-level - and it would have done wonders for this community, particularly in light of our recent efforts to do something about poverty. It's time we start rolling out the red carpet to recruit folks to come here, particularly that massive tract of land.

- Ah making The Wife and I proud ... the only two non-rural counties in the state to support Ralph Reed in the Republican primary? Why that would be Richmond County (my home county) and Chatham County (The Wife's home county). Yes ... that figures. At least my dad didn't support him. He was, well, is I suppose, a Casey Cagle man.

A word of thanks

Everything appeared to go well at my talk last night. I didn't trigger some sort of riot and nothing as hurled in my direction, so I view those things as positive. All in all, I was pleased with how it turned out, and a lot of people had really nice things to say to me afterward. I even had one offer to be a guest speaker for a college history class, which was quite flattering.

Afterward, The Wife, Matt, Caroline and Lindsey (with daughter Madison in tow) all went to Cali N Titos for dinner. And Matt and I proceeded to outlast all of the women and devoted about two hours to solving all of the world's problems. Everything from how to rebuild New Orleans to what to do about the Israel/Lebanon conflict.

So, let me just thank everyone who offered me encouragement to those dedicated folks who came and listened to me. I know it wasn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, and y'all probably got tired of me dwelling on it, but it was big to me. And I appreciate the words of support and encouragement.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Couple of things

- In news of the most pleasant kind (well, in a way), people I voted for actually won their elections. Mark Taylor defeated Cathy Cox to win the Democratic nomination for governor, earning him the most difficut task of taking on a fairly popular Republican governor in a red state. Bill Overend is headed for a runoff with C.R. Chisholm after a fairly disappointing showing in the soliciter general primary, though hopefully he can scoop up some of Brian Patterson's voters and make up the difference.

- Speaking of politics, today is the big day for me as I deliver my talk on faith and politics at First Baptist Church of Athens tonight at 5:30 p.m. Not too nervous yet, but I have a nagging fear I'm going to go just blank when it comes time to start looking at what the Bible says about the role of the state.

- Speaking (again) of politics, the Athens Banner-Herald recycles the usual Election Day editorial concerning negative campaigning. I think they, like most newspapers, simply switch the names out each election.

- Matt Yglesias takes a most reasonable look at why it's quite counterproductive for Kos to simply not talk about the Israel-Lebanon conflict. I happen to agree with him.

In hand

Like PWD at Georgia Sports Blog, I went out and purchased NCAA Football 2007 yesterday afternoon, and on the whole it's a good game. The actual game itself is smooth, and you can feel the effects of momentum and the crowd much more in this version than in previous ones.

However, EA Sports definitely screwed Georgia on this one. Only one historical team in the 1980 national championship squad? No mention of the 2002 team which went 13-1 and won the SEC Championship? This is even more odd because three Florida teams from the 1990s made the list and two Missouri teams did as well.

And, for the All-Time Georgia team, Quincy Carter is listed as a quarterback, but not David Greene? Quincy Carter?!

People, please.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Couple of things

- Yesterday proved to be a very productive day. I spent a large portion of it focusing on the preparation of my program on 'Faith & Politics'. My research is done, and I'm the process of organizing it into a speech/presentation.

- The most peculiar thing about the Israel/Lebanon conflict is the oddity of the Lebanese government in this whole thing. Having earned some credit on the international stage during the withdrawel of Syrian forces in the past year, all of sudden it's saying it has no control of Hezbollah. Well, the U.S. may have 'no control' of a renegade group of farmers in, say, Michigan, but if they began lobbing rockets into Canada, we'd probably move in to stop them. So it isn't so much a matter of having 'no control' but rather an apparent 'desire to have no control.'

- Georgia Sports Blog is doing an excellent job keeping tabs on the unfolding scandal at Auburn. PWD has got all the bases covered over there.

- This is unfortunate enough, and the pledges to revamp summer school and the like are very welcome and necessary, but this is ultimately a more complex issue. There's a very significant societal layer with the problem, and parental engagement and responsibility is, quite frankly, lacking. I've worked with two committees assisting the school district and administrators and teachers and even some students have all said the same thing - those who struggle don't have either parents or guardians who are adequately engaged in the process. And they're not engaged for a variety of reasons - some are by circumstance (lack of a car, etc.) and some are not (general indifference, etc.). The former can be resolved, and the school district is taking the appropriate steps to do so, but the latter is much more difficult to fix.

- Lancaster attempts to make sense of what I felt was the most puzzling trade in Major League Baseball this year. Two relievers and Royce Clayton for Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez? The Reds must be absolutely desperate for bullpen help.

- Texas and Ms. Texas finally had their baby, so everyone welcome Allie Madeline to the world. Paid a visit to the hospital yesterday and was the first to receive the pink, 'It's a Girl!' bubble gum cigar.

- Everyone say goodbye to Brookwood's Cameron Smith, easily the best running back in the Southeast, if not the country. Smith is enrolling at Butler Community College in Kansas this fall, skipping his senior season with the Broncos so he can pull his grades up. This means his prospects for landing with Georgia, or any other prominent Division I-A school, are essentially over. Though the school's coach rattles off the claim that several of his players sign with Division I-A schools, can anyone name one? Or, to make it more specific, name one which has arrived on campus in shape and made an impact?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Couple of things

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the list of's Top 50 Football Prospects for Georgia, and I think Greene County's Josh Nesbitt is terribly low. I mean, No. 14 for one of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the country? And he's ranked 14th in the state? That's either a statement about how good high school football is in Georgia, or a horribly miscalculation on Rivals's part. Sadly, though, he's the only Northeast Georgia athlete to be featured on the list. Things have been mighty slim around here since the heralded class of 2001 which included Joe Tereshinski III, Tony Taylor, Quentin Moses and Randall Swoopes.

- Dude ... David Greene's wedding? Must be a slow summer.

- Athens Politics has a straw poll of some Athenian bloggers for the upcoming primaries, though I don't believe I said I'd back Ralph Reed in the GOP Primary. If I was Republican, I'd have to go with Casey Cagle because Ralph Reed is, well, Ralph Reed.

- Don't forget to check up on my adventures in Cordele, which includes comments from Marty highlighting just how difficult my 2002 trip to Dooly County was. Also, since we're in to travel commentary these days, check out Russ's move to Chicago.

Real Work Conversations

Me: A buddy of mine wants me to go watch the Home Run Derby with him tonight, but I've got a meeting and a ton of stuff to take care of.
Carissa: Yeah, my dad's bringing me a hat back.
Me: Ah, Pennsylvania ties.
Carissa: I went to the All-Star Game a few years back when it was in Philadelphia.
Me: Really?
Carissa: Oh yeah. Back in fifth grade, I used to be really into collecting baseball cards. I was absolutely in love with Von Hayes.
Me: Man ... Von Hayes and then Dickie Thon at first?
Carissa: No, no ... Von Hayes played first base and Dickie Thon was at shortstop.
Me: (pause) That's awesome.
Carissa: I'm saying.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cordele is a big deal

There are good weekends, and then there are good weekends ... like the ones which deserve running diaries. And this past weekend, one which featured a trip to Cordele, Georgia, is one of those weekends.

Why in the name Manny Delcarmen am I visiting Cordele you ask? My buddy Matt grew up there, and he and his wife Caroline were housesitting his father's 200-acre farm for the week. So The Wife and I, along with Ed and Lindsey, traveled down past the Fall Line and headed for the "Watermelon Capitol of the World."

Friday, July 7

The Wife and I embark on our journey to South Georgia, and it's not our first time in that neck of the woods. I've covered quite a few high school football games down there - including an excellent Commerce-Dooly County contest a few years back - and The Wife's father is originally from Waycross and Hahira.

Still, a pleasant drive altogether and as we approach the homestead, I get a phone call from Matt and Ed. Turns out they've been fishing on the Flint River all day (I'm instantly jealous) and saw a dead alligator at some point. As we are about the wrap up the conversation, I hear Ed shout 'it's a freakin' turtle!' Matt abruptly ends the phone call, and The Wife and I arrive at the house.

We get a brief tour, and it truly is an amazing house (I mean, real hardwood floors ... none of this Pergo crap). We've been there a few minutes, and Matt comes strolling in, and Ed is following him ... with a turtle.

Throughout this, I swear to you, he's intermingling quotes from Scarface with the theme from Crocodile Dundee. I couldn't make this up.

The turtle dance goes on for an uncomfortably long time, complete with Lindsey periodically shrieking, until Ed manages to kiss the creature on the head. After a mandatory washing, we all go outside to check on the ribs that Matt's been smoking for eight hours. While outside, I learn they caught nothing but did stumble across a place called Pat's which is down a winding and shallow creek. Now, there's a Pat's in Winder that's a decent little bar. This Pat's is a shanty that is guarded by ornary children. Matt decides he's going to go in and see if he can buy some beer. Pat's, naturally, doesn't accept anything but cash ... Matt puts $13 on the table and asks 'what can I get with this?',the lady points to the appropriate 12-pack and he leaves the money with her.

Upon returning to the boat, Matt just says 'floor it' and Ed, thankfully, asks no questions. At this point, the children begin to fling rocks at them as they tear away. This is primarily funny to me, because I envision it being significantly more dramatic ... like the dock falling away behind him as he sprints down it and dives headfirst into moving boat. It probably wasn't that dramatic.

No matter.

Just prior to eating, I'm helping get the kitchen ready for a meal of ribs, corn, potatoes and the like. At this point, for no real reason at all, Ed hollers 'Is McGinty getting in the water?' (I should probably point out, that Ed's had a few drinks by now). And, at this point, for no real reason at all, I rip off my shirt, spring outside and dive into the backyard pool (with Ed in tow, of course). All the while, The Wife is shouting 'Take out your cell phone ... kick off your shoes ... don't forget your wallet!'

This, admittedly, was good for a few laughs, and it was very refreshing. I'm now, however, sans one pair of shorts for at least a day. So we dry off, and we eat.

One of four ears of corn consumed by Matt.

The rest of the night consists of more swimming in the pool (this time with the appropriate trunks), discussion of a plan to rent a 20-foot boat Saturday afternoon and serenading Lindsey with a bevy of awful 1980s songs.

Saturday, July 8

Originally, the guys had planned to go fishing on one of the many catfish ponds that dot the property. However, we all overslept by, like, three hours so that plan was shot. Instead, the girls decided to take a walk and check out the surroundings. The guys decide to drive around the property. Matt gives us a brief history - typically they grow things like cotton and peanuts, but this year the gentleman who manages the land is letting the land rest and instead about 100 cattle are being raised on the farm.

So we pull up to a clearing overlooking one of the lakes ... one which features several tree stumps jutting out of the water. It is here that for only the second time ever in my life, I hold a gun. Like most father-son relationships, my dad taught me many things - how to fish, basics on power tools, etc. But the McGintys aren't hunters, so that wasn't something we ever did. Ed and Matt, however, come from a long line of hunters, and they decide I need to at least shoot a gun and these tree stumps make for the perfect targets.

It's a little unnerving, I'll admit it. But a .22 rifle is a good way to start. It's lightweight with little, if any, kick. Now ... I'm a horrible shot, hitting the stump only once out of, say, 18 attempts.

It was just like this, only minus the ability to aim.

From here, we begin to put some things together and head out to Lake Blackshear to begin our boating adventure. Ed and I are given the task of stocking the cooler, so we head to Arrowhead Grocery, though "grocery" is a mighty loose term for that establishment. They sold eight-packs of Coke and Sprite, and by "sold them" I mean price-gouged us for $3.89 a piece. Still, it's that or nothing meaning the concept of supply-and-demand is still alive and well, so we buy a few packs, some beer, plenty of snacks and some ice.

It's a sweet boat, and we all determine we need to own a boat and do this each weekend. We ride around a bit and then do a little tubing.

Our fearless captain leads the S.S. Cordele into unchartered waters.

The Wife and Lindsey try to figure out this whole "staying-on-the-raft" thing.

Ed and I are keeping an eye out for another Pat's.

The Wife, Caroline and Lindsey seem to like the boat.

Ed was really into just idling in a cove, though we tried to convince him that he could enjoy the Bud Light in the boat.

So it was fun. I had a spectacular wipeout, one where I skimmed across the surface of the water for a few feet, only eclipsed by Ed's final ride where he did three complete body rolls over the surface of the lake before sinking like a rock.

The only problem is ... The Wife gets horrifically seasick. I tried to warn her of this, but she said it'd be fine as long as we were moving. Well, we were moving ... in circles as we towed the inner tube. So on several occasions, she got up to be ill, only to have it pass.

Still, one terrific close call sent her and I back to land for the final 30 minutes.

Let's just say, it went south shortly after this was taken.

After the boat, we had back to the farm where we enjoy a fish fry, though that's a grand understatement. We fried everything - from chicken wings to french fries to hushpuppies ... and, coupled with some ice cold Miller High Life and Waylon Jennings, it made for a spectacular evening.

Sunday, July 9

Our final day, and Matt does some yard work and I prepare pancakes and sausage for breakfast. The ladies leave early, while we stay behind and finish cleaning the house. Aside from letting me try my luck with a 12-gauge shotgun - and I don't have much luck with it - this is supposed to be a non-eventful day.

Matt, Ed and I make a trip to the massive Farmer's Market in Cordele, head up to Macon where we eat at the Texas Cattle House for lunch and then get ready to polish off the final leg of this journey.

And that's when we hit it.

The onset of the worst traffic jam in I-75 history. We're just 200 yards from an overturned Suburban and U-Haul, complete with all sorts of household furniture scattered across the four lanes of the interstate.

What follows is an agonizing two-hour wait in the heat.

Imagine this, times 40, sitting on blacktop and it being about 95 degrees.

One of the stranger things I picked up on was that people don't particularly like sitting in their cars. I mean, the second we stop people are flying out of their vehicles ... as if the ability to walk around and loudly complain will somehow move this process along.

Still, after the first hour we were kinda stir-crazy. So Ed moved to the boat.

The couple in the truck next to him, for some reason, really thought this was funny. Matt and I laughed, sure, but not to the extent they did.

So we get moving and finally get back to Athens around 6:30 p.m. ... after leaving around 1 p.m. for what is typically a two-and-a-half hour drive. Still, it just added to the drama of what was a very entertaining weekend.

I missed out on the Flint River, but did see Ed hold a turtle. You take what you can get.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Couple of things

- The Athens Banner-Herald does a nice job remembering Teddy Craft, including a good column by Texas.

I would always tell (college recruiters), 'Look, this kid is special. He's not big, but he can always make the play.' That was a bottom line with him.
- Hart County defensive coordinator William DeVane

- I'm a fan of 24, but is it just me or is Keifer Sutherland's Emmy nomination for Best Actor a bit odd. I mean, has what we consider quality acting fallen so much that someone who spends much of the episode hollering 'Bauer!' or 'Drop the gun!' is now classified as award-winning? Don't get me wrong, I think Sutherland's character is pretty cool ... but 'pretty cool' doesn't exactly translate into 'Emmy winner' in my book.

- Well, this at least saves taxpayer money by not forcing the governor to call a special session to simply re-pass the law. And, though I'm probably too idealistic on this, but it just might make the folks seeking elected office, you know, talk about some of the real issues in this state.

- Considering we don't have too many cards to play with regarding North Korea, perhaps diplomacy isn't such a bad idea. Then again ... of course we're going to pursue diplomacy. War with North Korea means, potentially, war involving a variety of parties including China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

- Matt Yglesias writes a rather unusual, yet nonetheless interesting commentary on American independence and what would have happened if we hadn't fought the Revolution. I think he's a bit off in his conclusion, however, by stating that a relationship such as the one Canada has with Great Britain might be more favorable. Yglesias argues that had there been no Revolution, the U.S. would have eventually come to pass because the British Empire was destined to evolve into the relationships it has now. I counter that because of the American Revolution - coupled with a variety of other historical geo-political developments in the 1800s - the British Empire was destined to evolve into the relationships it has now.

Outside of its claims in Africa, Great Britain's prized colonial possession was that of America. It was massive land-wise, featured numerous crops and resources, had plenty of good trade ports and was vital to their strategic defense in the New World. Canada or Australia can't offer nearly as much in return, meaning I don't see a feasible way that Great Britain would have ever cut ties with the U.S. as a colony. In fact, had the U.S. remained a British possession, it's feasible to me to envision a world still dominated by the British Empire.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

This fall

Apparently NBC has found its way again.

After producing the two best new comedies in The Office and My Name Is Earl, the peacock has three programs I'll check out next year in Heroes, Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights.

Ultimately, I think the latter is a rather bad idea. It was difficult enough to translate the greatest sports book ever written into a decent movie - and they did a pretty good job - but it's going to mighty hard to make that a good show week-in and week-out. Well, that and the preview features an awkward exchange involving the phrase 'Texas for life' which almost made me laugh out loud.

Heroes is, by far and away, the best-looking show coming out on any network with Studio 60 a close second ... though that's probably because I'm a Bradley Whitford fan.

For your prayers

Former Hart County wide receiver Teddy Craft died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash Wednesday night near Statesboro.

Craft takes it to the house against Cedartown in the 1999 Class AA semifinals at the Georgia Dome (Photo from the Athens Banner-Herald).

I remember in 2000, when former Hart County quarterback Jeff Leard was chasing the state's single-season passing record, Craft gave me plenty of good quotes about how it was his goal to get his teammate this honor. Plus he was a cut-up at the Bulldogs' practices, always there with a good-natured yet disparaging comment about any of his teammates during my interviews with them.

Let's send our thoughts and prayers to Craft's family and friends. He was a good kid, and he'll be missed.

Got some time at work?

Bill Simmons's developed his list of the greatest things you can find on YouTube, and it's pretty impressive. Anything which includes Journey's "Separate Ways" is worthy of being lauded:

A recipe for bliss: Take one of the cheesiest-yet-enjoyable bands of that era (Journey), bring them to an empty shipyard, have them play invisible instruments and lip-synch the hell out of their best song, throw in some ridiculous slow-motion closeups and multi-picture edits, and have a hot girl with a bad haircut walking around for no reason whatsoever. And if that's not enough, lead singer Steve Perry gives one of the greatest performances of the last 35 years - he throws himself into this thing like DeNiro or Pacino. It's incredible. Everything about this slays me. If somebody gave me five minutes to sum up the '80s, I would just show them this video and be done with it.

Hart County's Craft injured in wreck

Teddy Craft was the best wide receiver I got to cover during my stint at prep editor at the Athens Banner-Herald, and unfortunately he's been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident.

On top of multiple All-Northeast Georgia selections, the kid was a Player of the Week, as well as a consensus All-State pick.

Let's keep the Craft family in our thoughts and prayers, and wish Teddy a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Couple of things

- I trust everyone had a nice Fourth of July weekend. The Wife and I were both fortunate enough to enjoy a four-day break, complete with a weekend trip to Augusta to see my folks and lounge around by their pool. Upon return, I managed to do a little work in the yard and watch some fireworks from the comfort of my own neighborhood as Bishop Park is right down the road.

- What we should get out of this story is an educated and thoughtful discussion about the need for affordable housing in this community. Instead, we'll probably get a slew of letters from Clarke County educators and education administrators that misses the boat altogether.

- In case you're free on Wednesday, July 19, I invite you to come hear, well, me. I'm speaking at one of the Wednesday Night Supper programs at First Baptist of Athens (though the link hadn't been updated last I checked ... obviously I can't speak about the Sojourners Convention because, you know, there was that whole flooding thing). Instead, I'm speaking on faith and politics. I've already been reading up a good bit and taking some notes. I've got the basic idea of how I want to go, and now I just need to fill in some gaps.

- Remember, breaking a seven-year moratorium by test-launching long-range missiles with the potential to hit the U.S. coast 'isn't an immediate threat' ...

- I'm glad some sort of deal was worked out on District Two's fire station, but that doesn't necessarily mean I think this joint letter from concerned citizens has any merit. Northern Athens-Clarke County is vastly ignored when it comes to basic services, including that of fire protection, and it should be a top priority of the commission to change that. However, the problem with the fire station was that certain commissioners shouldn't have agreed to build a 'fancy' fire station in that area when they knew there would be a fiscal crunch. And it's not because those citizens don't need fire protection - they most surely do as the letter writers astutely point out - but rather because no station in this community needs to be that ornate. The commissioners are to blame for that as well.

Fire stations should be able to help areas respond to fires and other related emergencies. Tacking on frills such as an elaborate but rather useless clock tower shouldn't be included in the planning, regardless of the neighborhood or district they're being built in.