college football

The Tragic Art of “Catfishing”

Ah yes, the catfish.

This bottom dwelling aquatic is known by the white costs types  and nerdier game wardens as  a Siluriform.   They’re called ‘catfish” because of their barbels, which are whisker-like tactile organs near the mouth which house the fish’s sense of taste and have something to do with its ability to move and hunt for food through the murkiest bodies of water.  Their binge eating also adds to their size and their size and their size can make them an absolute pain to reel in.  They’re fighters.

On the dinner table, a catfish also has the potential to be  one of the greasiest critters with fins.   I grew up Catholic and back in the early 60’s, this meant I had to endure plenty of Friday nights being force- fed this fish because this was pre-Vatican II and eating meat on Fridays was verboten.     Something about sacrifice and its correlation to Jesus’ 40 days and nights of fasting before he met his fate high atop Calvary..the old Golgotha.

Well, I guess I owe Mr. Catfish an apology because I learned later in life that some of the greasiness can be controlled by allowing the Crisco in the frying pan to reach the correct temperature.  It’s got to be hot enough.    The hotter the temp, the less greasy it’ll be.   So as it turns out, I’ve spent a lifetime lambasting a fish for being greasy, when it was really the fault of a bunch of bad cooks.

But the term’ catfish’ is one we’ve been hearing a lot about lately, not because it’s a fighting fish.

It’s because of The Fighting Irish.

More specifically, the team’s All-American/Heisman/Lombardi finalist, Manti Te’o.    The linebacker is the victim of an apparent catfishing hoax.   A man posed as a woman to lure Manti into an online relationship.    As a result, one of this past football season’s kings of the collegiate grid iron fell in love with a woman he frequently spoke to on the phone…texted…..emailed, but never met.

Instead, he spent four months falling love via talking.     A lot of talking..

According to ESPN, more than a thousand calls totaling more than 500 hours in length either came from or were dialed to the same number which originated from the 661 area code, which covers a part of Los Angeles County.  Of these calls, 110 were more than 60 minutes in length, including several that were several hundred minutes long. Te’o said he was on the phone “every single night” with a person he believed to be Lennay Kekua,

She sent a photo, but wouldn’t Skype.    She’d claim her undying love for, but wouldn’t meet him in person.  Every time a face-to-face was arranged, something always fell through.

And then, Ms. Kekua had a serious car accident,  then she developed leukemia and died in a very short amount of time.  Is there no better way of ending one of these things?  Death has a tendency to be so….so….final and what better way for a narcissist to go out than in an emotional blaze of cyber glory.

We have since learned the hoax was perpetrated by a guy who’s mom had to have been in love with vowels:   Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitted he was Lennay.   He even created a fake Twitter account for her and it’s also my understanding that somewhere along the way, Manti and Ronaiah knew each other.

The timing of this tangled web interest me.   All of this went down right before the Heisman was awarded and just a few weeks before Notre Dame met Alabama in the National Championship game.   “Bama won–handily–but even so, it’s presumed that Te’o will be drafted in one of the higher rounds for the NFL.

But for me personally, this story isn’t about Manti, as much as it’s about the hoax itself.   What happened to Manti (whether he’s an innocent victim or willing participant) happens all the time.  It’s just that when it happens to you and me, Katie Couric,  ESPN and a 60 Minutes camera crew don’t get involved.

We live in a world where the computer screen is everything.   It’s our source of news, shopping, communication, entertainment, education, job hunting….it’s all encompassing.    It has opened up the world in ways that Magellan, Columbus and Alexander Graham Bell could only dream of.     Online predators are located all over this big blue marble and no,  they’re not all big, sweaty, no goodniks  in chat rooms posing as someone else with the hopes that  some love starved sapling will fall victim to their wiles.   Very often, they’re just big, run of the mill people with very boring lives, or a disability or physical deformity of some sort, or  an ever-expanding waistline.

We can be anything we want to be online.   A lowly part-time mechanic can be a hunky male model.    An under-developed socially awkward young woman can be an attorney with an extremely successful practice.     A well-read paraplegic with an imagination can be a CIA agent or say someone with MI-5… maybe even a double agent with the Mossad (all popular career choices among trolls because these positions are next to impossible to verify).   A James Bond type is always a very popular choice among the male of this species, but catfishing knows no gender boundaries.  Women do it, too.

Perhaps the goal is sex,  maybe even usury for fiscal purposes, but I think more often than not, it’s all about control and manipulation.   Nothing gives power to the powerless more than being able to control ALL the pieces on the chessboard.   And the love starved victim goes along with it, accepting whatever crumbs he or she allows us to have.   Some have maintained a ‘relationship” for years with a nebulous voice, and little else.

Why would someone do that, airou ask?    Why would someone mastermind and maintain a hoax like this?   Why would intelligent men or women fall for it?

Chances are, when this happens, the victim is well aware that there are  more red flags present than outside the Kremlin, but the idea of love and being in a relationship–even the cyber ones, is all we want.  This need; this desire trumps our own sense of  reality.   Honesty.

And really, that’s not all that hard to understand.   Hell, fashion magazines sell volumes because they airbrush photos in their layouts.   So does Playboy.   Beauty, whatever that’s perceived to be, has to have an air of perfection about it.   Madonna’s gap teeth may not be all that becoming to some, but that 28th crow’s foot forming near her 54-year-old left eye can be damn  well dealt with, thank you very much.   Bad dentition perhaps, but bad skin???????

Never.    

We need to present imagery of being younger thinner, wealthier, more handsome, more worldly, more popular, better educated, more alluring and sensual versions of who we are.   We airbrush our lives.  We Photoshop our existences.  We pad our resumes.   We tell lies (whoppers and baby ones) all the time.   The truth, or I should say ‘authenticity’, ends up on the cutting room floor, like yards of celluloid.

And it’s because of this that the glaringly apparent ‘red flags’  are ignored because the distance between the catfisher and his/her prey is beneficial.    That solves a whole array of potential problems.   And the miles also puts the kibosh on true intimacy, the physical AND the emotional kind.   That’s often a plus for both parties.  You see, sometimes, the victim often has as much to hide as the hoaxer.

In my opinion, Manti Te’o is either a liar with a really bad PR machine on his team and the ruse got way out of hand and instead of helping the would be pro-baller, it might end up causing him to lose pre-draft stock.

OR….

He’s a just  lonely, rather naive, 255 pound, Mormon linebacker playing for a very Catholic university and desperately looking for the kind of love that neither his parents, the legacy of Ara Parseghian or the ghost of The Gipper could provide.

The trouble is, he won’t find that kind of love on the internet, either.

I know some very intelligent, very well-educated people who have fallen for the lovely ideal phantom who’s texting and phoning them constantly, making them feel all a twitter from the safety of  being miles away.   ‘In your ear’, can be so much more convenient than ‘in your face’.    And while these bags o’ artiface might work for a while,  eventually, they all grow old.    The rut of being constantly disappointed and dissatisfied has that effect.    Catfish relationships are always….ALWAYS one-sided.   That’s a vital part of the manipulation.    One person tries harder, does all the work and in the end, the hoaxer exits ‘the relationship either because the victim finally wises up or the hoaxer just stops calling or…as in Manti’s case, the non-existent girlfriend conveniently dies.  But, how it ends or even why it ends doesn’t matter.   The destruction of ‘the relationship” is still one sided.   One person is devastated while the other runs off with pilfered trust, hopes and affection.   He or she then compiles all these amorphous trophies under some gigantic but very precise scoreboard that exists only in the ego.

We are toyed with just as a kitten plays with a skein of wool.    

Yes, but deception can still hurt, even if some part of us knew intellectually,  it was a sham all along.   We never want to confront our gullibility.  We never want to admit we’re vulnerable.    There’s a certain amount of pride at stake here, but as painful and embarrsing as it can be in the end, it’s also  one helluva life lesson.    That’s why most people who’ve been “Manti Te’o’d” once, can never be Manti Te’o’d twice.

If properly fortified by heartache, emotional scar tissue is impervious.  It simply won’t allow it.

At least, mine will never let it ever happen to me…..again.

It’s Here….Almost

I’m talking about football season.   In fact, it’s just hours away.

You can always tell that it’s time for the first football game of the season.   There’s something in the air. Sure, it’s early September and here in Texas, still hotter than a crotch, but it’s as though you can feel an underlying coolness.  OK, maybe not coolness per se, but there’s something different about the atmosphere.  It’s palpable, like a density that you can run your fingers through and actually feel something…like resistance.   And not only that, but the days are already starting to get noticeably shorter while shadows get longer.   Soon, fallen leaves, sweaters and declining deodorant sales will become a part of the vista of which we are all a part. 

I love college football.  And if you’ve been reading this blog for any of the three football seasons it’s been alive, then you know I am a dyed in the wool Texas Longhorn fan and have been since the Horns beat Arkansas in the Big Shootout on December 6, 1969. Yes, I remember the date  They won the National Championship that year.     I was ten and enamored with the Longhorns and this happened to be Texas’ last all Anglo football team.    

Aside from their social irresponsibility,  Longhorn football has meant and continues to mean a great deal to me.   I don’t know why–I suppose it’s because I’m a native Texan; I went to UT for a while ( graduated from a smaller university not far from Austin, but never lost my Longhorn allegiance) and well, let’s face it;  so few people outside Texas look good in burnt orange.   And like other devoted and loyal fanatics of sports teams, I have supported the Horns through great seasons (such as the BCS Championship one of 2005, courtesy of a pigskin clutching Harry Potteresque wizard named Vince Young)  and not so great seasons which would be any that didn’t include a finely tuned Vince,  Colt McCoy or Ricky “Blunt” Williams.   2010 comes to mind.

I know they’ll have a blemished seasoned.  2011 is going to be yt another  rebuilding year for the team.  Garrett “Noodle Arm” Gilbert  as he became known in the Kendrick Household in 2010, played admirably when he was forced into action after Colt bruised his shoulder in Texas’ initial drive in the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl against Alabama  two years ago. 

The uh…the Horns, well, uh…the Horns lost that game.

Sigh

But unfortunately, Gilbert fell short so many times last year…I saw leadership and poise issues.  But Mack Brown insists he’ll start this year.   Oh well…I wish my favorite team well.   This year, they’ll need it. 

Sigh²

Well, love ‘em or hate ‘em,  the Texas Longhorns are one of true powerhouses in college football.  And this year proves it  with the newly created Longhorn Network, the much-hyped and ballyhooed controversial partnership between ESPN and the University which  features a channel dedicated 24/7 to nothing but UT sports.   Discussions for the idea for an ALL UT, ALL THE TIME  network began in ernest five years ago after a perceived lack of exposure for the Longhorns’ non-revenue sports,  meaning everything NOT football.   Well, forget the words “non revenue generating”  from this point on, folks.  That’s a thing of the past.    Check out the particulars of the deal:  we’re talking a  20-year, $300 million partnership with ESPN.  And from what I’m  hearing, this has VEXED every other team in the  Big 12.   And not only that, it’s created concerns within the whole of college football that one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful programs just got a whole lot richer.

Color Texas A&M maroon, white AND vexed.  In fact, they’re so pissed over this and other issues I would imagine,  they want out of the Big 12 entirely.  Their new home conference in 2012?   The storied SEC.  (I mean seriously people, can they really be considered a legitimate contender in the conference going up against the likes of LSU, ‘Bama and even Auburn on occasion?)  I don’t think this is a wise move  at all for the Ags.  It’s almost like this move is a  big, childish temper tantrum.  They’re   just gonna get up and take their toys with them.  But why?  It’s my understanding that Texas Athletic Potentate, Deloss Dodds offered the Aggies a piece of the action several years ago, but they claimed they weren’t interested.   Back then, the concept seemed like a lark.   Neither school had a clue as to the revenue generator this could be.  Eventually, the Ags changed their minds when they saw the dollar signs written on the wall, but when they went to Austin  to express an interest in a partnership, Texas told them  it was too late.  The Longhorns were  convinced a  University of Texas-only network would be viable….and very, very profitable.    And apparently, ESPN agreed.

Now, here’s what I don’t understand.  Criticism for this all-Texas sports network has been staggering.    Deloss Dodds has been vilified.  He’s been called Satan….Hitler with a drawl…Dick Cheney….the Destroyer of the Big 12 and very, very greedy by fans and other schools.    Greedy???  Oh really?  That ‘s the pot calling the kettle black because for university coffers, the name of the game isn’t football itself;   it’s getting as many games televised as they can.   College athletics, particularly football has always been a massive revenue generator.   And yes, TV is the reason.   If A&M or Ohio State or Slippery Rock or any other college on the planet had been offered this oppprtunity they would have jumped at the chance, but that would never have happened.  Simply put, few other schools have  the following UT has to pull it off and lets face it, Disney, who owns ESPN, isn’t in the business of making bad business decisions.  Walt’s company has 300 million reasons to believe The Longhorn Network will fly fast and far. 

So with this in mind, I guess an autopsy on the stomach contents of the Aggie’s body of work in the Big 12 (especially where this network is concerned) would consist of sour grapes and bitter pills, which is probably the main reason they’re heading to the Southeast Conference,  a move I feel sure they’re going to regret. 

Well, be that as it may, The Longhorn Network will ONLY be good as the hordes of viewers it can rally and therein lies the rough.    As of  early Friday, officials at ESPN and Texas hadn’t announced whether  a major cable or satellite provider will carry the Longhorn Network.  As it stands, the biggest carrier so far is Verizon, which will include TLN on its FiOS-TV sports package.  This will have a potential reach of about four-million subscribers in about a dozen states, including Texas.  Something better happen STAT.  The Horns season opener is Saturday….against Rice.  Didn’t UT and ESPN secure all this head of time?   Seems completely foolhardy to me if they didn’t.

But  the point I’m trying to make is that a school couldn’t make that kind of massive deal without having power.  And a lot of it and yes,  UT does.    And I don’t care who you root for; even if you hate the Steers, Texas’ power is undeniable.    And not just on the field (in good years).  

CASE IN POINT:   Texas getting to play Michigan in the Rose Bowl in 2005 without REALLY deserving to be there.  Mack  politicked is way into getting that berth.  He promised and he delivered.  UT equals money.   A lot of it.  Nobody is going to say no to pure profit.  The Rose Bowl Committe knew this and welcomed the Horns into their pigskin bosom.  Does that mean Texas bought its way into the 2005 Rose Bowl?    Well,  I prefer to say they rented their way in and I say this as a Longhorn devotee AND as a staunch critic of BCS partisan politics, especially where elite teams are concerned, and yes, UT is one of the most elite , thanks in part to wealthy and generous alumni, wise investments, tuition ready students who want to attend  UT and live the Austin experience at all costs and of course, the Permanent University Fund.  As this university has proven time and time again, money talks–loudly and Texas has loads of it.   This means Texas can afford the best speech coaches.

Look, here’s the deal:  I’m a fiercely loyal Longhorn fan, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize my beloved Horns–because I do.   That doesn’t mean I can’t poke a little good-natured fun at them, which I will do in this blogpost–AFTER I  harass and harangue a few other college teams first.  So, here are a few funny football related videos and jokes to help get you in the mood for the College Grid-Iron: Version 2011.   

Let’s begin with USC. 

The Beach Boys said California girls were cute.  And it is undeniable.  By and large they are–and I say that as a tried and true heterosexual woman, but apparently (and OK, OK… I’m strictly referring to the California girls who cheer for USC)  they’re just not that bright when they don maroon and gold cheerleading uniforms.  Either that or they’re extremely specious and accommodating when it comes to the cheering on the opposing team on their scoring drives.    

What exactly is this all about?  What’s with the cheerleader?  A hidden trampoline? Springs instead of  femurs, maybe???    An idiotic frog impersonation??? 

YOU DECIDE!!!  

Remember this embarrassing moment?   The bench clearing fisticuffs you’re about to see, ensued after some strange play or something.  It all went down in the game between Miami and Florida International University a few years ago.

One fan said of this brawl, “I thought this was sickening and an embarrassment to the sport.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was angered and mortified for both teams.  I was stunned at the levels to which these teams sank.   Then, I saw the body slam…..that was freakin’ AWESOME!!!

Well, there you have it.  I’ll leave you with these tried and true college football jokes.  Feel free to use them and interchange the teams as you see fit–I did.  

Happy college football season 2011, ya’ll.   May A&M get a fitting send off from the Big 12 this November with a big burnt orange footprint on “they’s ass”; may Notre Dame lose often; may Boise & TCU get the respect they deserve; may USC receive an additional Death Penalty for the next 20 years, and may the Sooners see the errors of their ways.  I mean they are from Oklahomo after all.

And as always, GO HORNS!!!!!

Q: What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room?
A: A full set of teeth.

Q: How do you get an Alabama cheerleader into your dorm room?
A: Grease her hips and push.

Q: How do you get an LSU graduate off your porch?
A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q:  If you see a  UCLA fan on a bike, why should you not swerve to hit him?
A:  Because it could be YOUR  bike

 Q: Why is the Baylor football team like a possum?
A: Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.

 Q: What do you do if you get an Ohio State player buried up to his neck in sand?
A:  You get more  sand!!!

Q: What are the longest three years of a Oklahoma football player’s life?
A: His freshman year.

Q: How many Nebraska freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. That’s a sophomore course.

Q: Where was O.J. headed in the white Bronco all those years ago?
A: College Station, TX.  He knew that the police would never look there for a Heisman Trophy winner.

Q:  What did the average USC quarterback get on his SAT test?
A:   Drool. 

And here’s further proof that I can make fun of my own:

Q: Why did Texas choose orange as their team color?
A: You can wear it for the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday and then for picking up trash along the highways the rest of the week.

College Football Season Approacheth

Ah yes.  It’s almost here. 

You can always tell the first college football game is around the corner.  There’s something in the air. Sure it’s early September, but here in Texas, it’s still hotter than a crotch, but it’s as though you can feel an underlying coolness.  OK, maybe not coolness per se, but there’s something different about the atmosphere.  It’s palpable, like a density that you can run your fingers through and actually feel something…like resistance.   And not only that, but the days are already starting to get noticeably shorter while shadows get longer.   Soon, fallen leaves, sweaters and declining deodorant sales will become a part of the vista of which we are all a part. 

I love college football.  And if you’ve been reading this blog for any of the three football seasons it’s been alive, then you know I am a dyed in the wool Texas Longhorn fan and have been since the Horns beat Arkansas in the Big Shootout on December 6, 1969. Yes, I remember the date  They won the National Championship that year.     I was ten and enamored with the Longhorns and this happened to be Texas’ last all Anglo football team.  Odd, that it took that long for integration to happen, huh?   That year, I seem to remember the team’s helmets were white cotton and pointy with eye holes cut out and I say that as a faithful follower and contributor to both the John Birch Society AND the NAACP, thank you very much.

Aside from their social irresponsibility in the last 40 plus years, Longhorn football has meant and continues to mean a great deal to me.   I don’t know why–I suppose it’s because I’m a native Texan; I went to UT for a while ( graduated from a smaller university not far from Austin, but never lost my Longhorn allegiance) and well, let’s face it;  so few people outside Texas look good in burnt orange.   And like other devoted and loyal fanatics of sports teams, I have supported the Horns through great seasons (such as the BCS Championship one of 2005, courtesy of a pigskin clutching Harry Potteresque wizard named Vince Young)  and not so great seasons which would be any that didn’t include a finely tuned Vince,  Colt McCoy or Ricky “Blunt” Williams.

But I’ll spare you the overt burnt orange fawning this time around and wish the Horns well;  they’ll need it.  I know they’ll have a blemished seasoned.   This is something of a rebuilding year for the team.   Colt is gone and in his stead is a worthy replacement.  The young but gifted, Garrett Gilbert was forced into action when Colt bruised his shoulder (or was it his ego???)  in Texas’ initial drive in the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl against Alabama this past January. 

The uh…the Horns, well, they lost that game.

Sigh.

While new, unfamiliar names will grace the jerseys of players who we  don’t yet know this season, the team, I hear, is loaded with talent at just about every position on the field.   Young talent too; the kind that will only get better as they ripen on the vine that is 100 yards long and covered with green grass and white chalk hash marks.    

Texas is known for its depth and in 2010, it has it.  Head Coach, Mac Brown is often criticised for everything he does, but the man has made Texas one of true powerhouses in college football.   Maybe not this year or next, but Texas by and large has always been a contender.  Thanks to Brown and his team of Play Creators, but Brown has taken things well beyond what even Saint Darrell of Royal was able to accomplish.   Brown has created a super team in a sea of super teams.   And I don’t care who you root for; even if you hate the Steers, Texas’ power is undeniable.    And not just on the field.  

CASE IN POINT:   Texas getting to play Michigan in the Rose Bowl in 2005 without REALLY deserving to be there.   I say that as humble Longhorn fan AND as a very a staunch critic of BCS partisan politics, especially where elite teams are concerned, and yes, UT is one of the most elite.   Money talks–loudly and Texas has loads of it, meaning they can afford the best speech coaches.

During the off season, Brown continued his stellar recruiting run..he calls this current team of recruits “the best ever”.  That’s saying something .   I understand this team is once again chocked full of extremely talented athletes; just inexperienced ones.   I’ve heard that in spite of  Gilbert’s more than adequate throwing arm,  Mac and Co. will shift the team to more of a run-oriented offense this year.  Perhaps that’s by design, because Gilbert, while experienced  in real-time play, is still quite a rookie in burnt orange.  I hope he can prove something to himself and all detractors when he has a sensational first three weeks of the season playing against cupcake teams.   Seriously…love you Horns, but who in the hell schedules your schedule, especially early in the schedule???  

This year I hear you’re playing the University of Phoenix On-Line!!??!!!??!  

Damn!  I said I wouldn’t go on about the Horns but I did anyway.   Sorry.  My bad.

So to make up for this egregious error, I am offering you some funny football related videos to help get you in the mood for the College Gridiron: Version 2010.   

Let’s begin with USC. 

The Beach Boys said California girls were cute.  And it is undeniable.  By and large they are–and I say that as a tried and true heterosexual woman, but apparently (and OK, OK… I’m strictly referring to the California girls who cheer for USC)  they’re just not that bright when they don maroon and gold cheerleading uniforms.  Either that or ethey’re xtremely specious when it comes to the opposing team and scoring drives.    

What exactly is this all about?  What’s with the cheerleader?  A hidden trampoline? Springs instead of  femurs, maybe???    An idiotic frog impersonation??? 

YOU DECIDE!!!  

Remember this embarrassing moment?   The bench clearing fisticuffs you’re about to see, ensued after some strange play or something.  It all went down in the game between Miami and Florida International University a few years ago.

One fan said of this brawl, “I thought this was sickening and an embarrassment to the sport.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was angered and mortified for both teams.  I was stunned at the levels to which these teams sank.   Then, I saw the body slam…..that was freakin’ AWESOME!!!

And finally, behave all you sports anchors!!   This means you, Herb and Corso, Chris, Desmond and Craig.   All that rage against the machines you’ve expressed over the year, plus those horribly wrong on-camera game predictions could come back to haunt you….like it did with these cats.

Well, there you have it.  I’ll leave you with these tried and true college football jokes.  Feel free to use them and interchange the teams as you see fit–I did.  

Happy college football season 2010, ya’ll.   May Notre Dame lose often; may Boise get the respect it deserves; may USC receive an additional Death Penalty for the next 20 years, and may the Sooners see the errors of their ways.  I mean they are from Oklahomo after all, and I say that as a devoted Fag Hag.

And as always, GO HORNS!!!!!

Q: What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room?
A: A full set of teeth.

Q: How do you get an Alabama cheerleader into your dorm room?
A: Grease her hips and push.

Q: How do you get a LSU graduate off your porch?
A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q: Why is the Baylor football team like a possum?
A: Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Q: What are the longest three years of a Oklahoma football player’s life?
A: His freshman year.

Q: How many Nebraska freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. That’s a sophomore course.

Q: Where was O.J. headed in the white Bronco all those years ago?
A: College Station, TX.  He knew that the police would never look there for a Heisman Trophy winner.

Q:  What did the average USC quarterback get on his SAT test?
A:   Drool. 

And proof that I can even make fun of my own…

Q: Why did Texas choose orange as their team color?
A: You can wear it for the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday and picking up trash along the highways the rest of the week.

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More About College Football

.

Once again, I am a devout fan of the University of Texas.  

Longhorn football especially, means a great deal to me.   And like other fanatics of other sports teams, I have supported the Horns through great seasons ( such as the BCS Championship one of 2005, courtesy of a pigskin clutching Harry Potteresque wizard in burnt orange named Vince Young)  and not so great seasons which would include the bulk of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  

Needless to say, I am ecstatic about the Longhorns’ s upcoming appearance in the Rose Bowl for all the collegiate pigskin marbles.     They’ll meet Alabama in Pasadena on January 7th.       

Many are questioning the second ranked Horns’ right to be matched up against the top rated Crimson Tide.   It’s true, my team didn’t have the best of games against I’mDominate Suh and their place kicker.   The rest of the Nebraska team didn’t need to even to bother showing up; those two players were the lump sum of the Cornhusker offense and defense.    Admittedly,  Texas played its worst game ever, but still managed to win with a last second field goal to win by one point with nary a second left on the clock.  The Longhorn record remained unblemished at 13-0.

But the “what have you done for me lately”  attitude permeates and the talking heads in sports broadcasting are treating the Longhorns like ugly stepdaughters and dirty Dickensian street urchins trying to sell matches on a street corner in the dead of a London winter.   Go ahead,  tune into ESPN; all you hear about is how Colt McCoy’s last game cost him the Heisman.  You’ll hear repeatedly how Suh manhandled him during the Big 12 Championship (which he did but come on, the Horns still won the damn game!!!). 

OK, so Colt played the worst game of his career at the absolute worst time..maybe he was well aware that the Heisman was his to win…and to lose and perhaps, he played uncharacteristically unsettled.  But  it wasn’t as if Colt allowed Suh to penetrate a Texas offensive line that was as porous as O.J.’s alibi.   His WR’s were very well covered and  they dropped several catchable, potentially game-changing passes.

Tune into ESPN and you’ll hear  about the Tide’s unstoppable defense and its pristine offense lead by QB McElroy and Heisman winner and Sophomore phenom, Mark  Ingram.    You hear that come  January 7th,   Texas will be facing a “good ol’ countryfied ass whoopin'”.  

Throughout the Heisman Award presentation and other award shows on ESPN,  jokes were made at Colt McCoy’s  expense.   It was as if Suh, who was also up for the Heisman and scads of other awards, chased Colt down like  Simon Wiesenthal on a Nazi shake down in South America.    McCoy took it all in stride.

But I’ll tell you this much…

There seems to be a national anti-Texas mindset both across the board and in college football.  Lest we forget Texas’ flagrant ommission from the BCS championship game last season, all at the hands of some ridiculous BCS conceived tie-breaker.    We beat OU soundly, then we lost to Texas Tech in the very last second of the game.  OU went on to clinch the Big 12 Championship and played Florida in The Big Game, but lost as soundly to the Gators as they did to the Horns.  

It’s as though we still suffer from this huge George Bush backlash, like he had/has anything to do with college football.   Think what you want, but NO ONE can say UT’s prowess as one of the country’s perennial power elite college football teams has anything to do with Iraqi oil or as a so-called “revenge factor” for the failings of Bush the Elder.     Abject silliness, if that could even be the case.  Still, it seems as if there’s a definitive Texas prejudice, but in reality, I don’t really mind it.

That’s why I strongly encourage ESPN to keep talking.  Keep lauding Alabama as if God himself was calling the plays.   Keep reminding Texas of its poor showing against Nebraska and forget that Alabama struggled on three occasions to win games  this season.   That’s right;  go ahead…keep trash talking.    Keep reminding  Texas that its an inferior team.

Reiterate to McCoy over and over again that he didn’t win the Heisman and that Bama’s Mark Ingram did.    ESPN’s Chris Fowler and that Albino Herbstreit are the biggest offenders.

But again, keep it up.  By doing so, you’re only setting a familiar stage.  

You see, I watched the expression on Colt’s face when Ingram’s name was called.  Of course, he was disappointed, but as the reality sunk in, I saw disappointment morph into steely resolve and determination.   His lower jaw clinched;  his eyes narrowed slightly, but never left the podium where Ingram  giving his acceptance speech.     He’s planning on repeating history.

Yes…he had that expression.

I’d only seen it once before and it was on the face of another deserving Longhorn quarterback who also went home empty-handed on a cold New York evening in December 2005.

Some may say that Colt McCoy is no Vince Young.  

Some would argue that Nebraska and Suh proved Texas’ weaknesses,  just as near miss games with Arkansas, LSU and Auburn showed Alabama’s vulnerabilities.

Many would say the Texas team of 2005 ISN’T the Texas team of 2009 and they’d be right….it isn’t.

Many say Alabama is a better team than Texas, but the same was said about Texas when it faced back-to-back national champs, USC in the 2006  BCS showdown and well, we  all know how that game ended.

As it’s been said many times before, football (especially college football)  is an extremely arbitrary game.   Any team can beat any other team on any given Saturday.  

Or on any given Thursday night in January, 2010.

All I’ll say is that the next month’s showdown in Pasadena won’t be the “countryfied ass whoopin'” that so many are predicting.  

How do I know?  

Oh, call it a gut feeling and something I saw in Colt McCoy’s eyes.

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The BCS? Utter BS

Admittedly, I am ignorant in terms of how the BCS works…or doesn’t work as this season might indicate.   I’ve heard it consists of voters from every conference and they are, I suppose,  coaches, writers and maybe a wife or girlfriend or two.

Voting????   What a ridiculous concept and one that’s wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to determining the nation’s best college football team.  But this year, this system worked “fine” providing you’re chromosomaly challenged and love Oklahoma.  If that’s the case, the poll worked in your favor,  but not so much if you’re a Texas fan–or even someone who backs the Boise State  Broncos.

Am I bellyaching because my beloved Longhorns beat OU 45-35 in the neutrality that is the Cotton Bowl this past October and because of verbal gerrymandering, will not be allowed to play in the National Championship game???

In a word, yes.

Now, hold your water there, Skeeter.  I know all too well that Texas Head Coach,  Mack Brown politicked fiercely to get the Steers in Rose Bowl to play Michigan at the end of the 04′ season.  He probably angled far more egregiously than OU’s Bob Stoops did to get BCS voters to shove the Sooners passed the Longhorns  at the end of the regular season (did I mention that the Horns beat OU??)  enabling them to play in the National Championship game against a gridiron juggernaut also known as Florida.

Now, I ain’t no Miss Cleo, but it wouldn’t take her or a swami or the half- blind, perpetually snot-nosed psychopath who wears a parka in August and “lives” in a median near my house to predict that Florida will mop the stadium’s H, I, J, K adn “L”  sections with the Sooners.  I also know that will have a trickle down effect which will ultimately result in  forcing Ohio State to drink the nasty ass bucket water.  Couldn’t happen to two nicer teams (Oh and just a reminder, Texas beat Oklahoma this year and toppled the top rated Buckeyes in ’05 to eventually win the National Championship and will emerge victorious  again in the Fiesta Bowl next month).    I could only be happier if somehow A&M was involved…providing of course, the team actually had the talent to play college football.

But alas poor Yorick, that shit ain’t happening!

It goes without saying that it is high time that the BCS cease and desist with this archaic method of voting.  A PLAY OFF SYSTEM THAT IS FAIR AND EQUITABLE MUST BE IMPLEMENTED!!!    The process of elimination has to be in play.  Without it, the current system consists of  uneducated and biased voting AND unholy manipulations vis a vie temper trantrums as Stoops and Mack Brown have so proven.  Coercion simply isn’t fair.  And yes, I’d still feel this way even if the Longhorns WERE playing Florida (well, maybe there would be far less vitriol involved in my rant)., but that’s irrelevant.   I still think we need to institute a play off system.  It works (to a degree) in the NFL though it still amazes me that a team who’s lost seven games can still be declared a “world champion”.

But hence the reason for the saying,  “on any given Sunday”, I suppose.

What I am about to admit before God, man and blog will result in my risking significant taunting by my fellow burnt orange bloods, but I am nothing if not a realist.  While Texas is a great team lead by the moxie and natural instincts of God’s vicar on Earth (Colt McCoy–and you have to admit, that is one helluva great name for a jock!!), I do believe that Texas beat Oklahoma last October.   Emphatically.  Soundly.

But…

The damn Sooners reinvented themselves after the loss to the Longhorns and in doing so, they unleashed a series of placing big old “W’s” in the win column that can ONLY be described as “fierce grudge victories”.   That said, I think the final score would be different if the two teams played again.  Nothing against my beloved Longhorns, but OU plays with a fire in it’s belly.    However,  I don’t think a 30-ton blast furnace shoved in their colons would be enough to help them beat Florida, but perhaps Oklahoma is the team that should be the  one that loses the BCS Championship game.

There.  I said it.

But that still doesn’t negate the fact that the BCS system’s current ways and means are  severely flawed and a playoff system must be integrated.   Voting based on prejudice and favoritism doesn’t cut it.   Hell, that’s the difference between a team that’s the best in the nation and one that’s the most popular.

My God, what’s next?  A swimsuit competition?

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Well, I gotta give him points for the nice powder keg legs though.

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The Laurie Report

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It’s Sunday morning.

In college football, that either means a day for seeking redemption OR….a continuation of the victory celebration from the day before.

And on certain occasions, when there’s a win that came with a price, the day can represent a little of both.

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I went out last night; had dinner with friends. So no, I didn’t see the Texas-Arkansas State game. I only went into the bar of the restaurant once to inquire about the score of the contest. I watched TV for a second, but got bored as the commercial break entered its fourth minute. So, I went from table to table asking patrons if they knew the score and finally, the last table I asked knew. Thank God for astute, beer swillin’, Longhorn football lovin’ Lesbians!

At the time, the score was was 20-3…Texas

I got home later.. The game had ended a few hours earlier, so I flipped on ESPN and found out Texas had won.

Read this:

By JIM VERTUNO/AP Sports Writer
September 1, 2007
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — It was ugly, ragged and a bit embarrassing. In the end, it was a win and the Texas Longhorns got to go to bed without the same sick feeling that must have hit the Michigan Wolverines.

Colt McCoy threw two first-quarter touchdown passes and the No. 4 Longhorns survived a sloppy 21-13 season-opening victory over Arkansas State on Saturday night, narrowly avoiding yet another huge upset on the day.

“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the best,” McCoy said.

(Wow! You said a mouthful, young Colt. He then went on to say), “But we’re 1-0 and moving on.”

Texas, which hopes to contend for the Big 12 and national titles, was an overwhelming favorite over the Indians, but found itself fighting to hold on in the final minute.

It was scary enough that the Longhorns were thankful not to be lumped into same category of shocking upset victim with No. 5 Michigan, which lost 34-32 at home to Appalachian State earlier in the day.

And what about that game?

For at least the next 1.5 weeks, people will ask what happened? What went wrong? And invariably, a new phrase will be added to our lexicon. One that will aptly apply to someone who fails, then falls well beneath their own skill level, “You got Michiganed”.

Was it the biggest upset of all time? Not for Appalachian State. That big win left the Mountaineers high-tailin’ it back to Boone, N.C. as happy as inbred cousins being allowed to date outside the family for the first time.

They reality is this— on any given day, a football powerhouse can loose a game to a relative unknown who can on any given day, rise to the occasion to win “
the big one”. In the case with Michigan—a school with an incredibly storied football past, the Wolverines were simply outplayed. And maybe Michigan lost the game more so than Appalachian State actually won it.

That happens sometimes, too.

I’ll say this in closing: I’ve watched a lot of football in my many years as a sentient, thinking bi-ped. I’ve dated a lot of guys…several jocks, in fact and I know how they think. I’ve seen them lament the loss of their fathers. I’ve seen them weep over a dying mother, but nothing…I repeat…NOTHING can replace that ashen, mournful, sorrow-filled, grief-encompassing look of a football player–from Pop Warner to veteran NFL Linebacker– who’s trying to cope with the loss of a big game as the clock winds down. Usually it’s a look usually reserved for the last minute or so and captured so well by the TV cameras as players sit on the bench and process what’s happening and all it represents.

The look says it all…the true agony of defeat.

Consider the rough, tough jock’s mindset: a loss makes them feel that EVERYTHING they worked for even this early in the season–in their lives–is now futile, pointless.

Moot.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Still, a jock takes a loss personally. With good reason, I suppose.

If they’re pros, a losing a game means forfeiture of that big victory bonus. That’s money that would keep the wife and the mistress in implants .

For collegians, a loss is exacerbated by the disappointment of realizing there were NFL scouts in the grandstands and they left halfway through the fourth quarter after they’d “seen enough”.

Ouch.

For the high school ball player, there’s the possibility that the nice, four year football scholarship to the University of Somewhere that would make Daddy so proud, could’ve been lost, along with the game.

For kids in Pop Warner, a loss is the first life’s first big ass kicking lesson. Yeah, get used to it, kid–losing sucks.

There’s nothing like “that look” and it was all over the faces of Michigan players Saturday.

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Heads down, eyes gazing downward, helmets still on–that hides tell-tale signs of overt weeping from probing TV cameras.

Michigan fans fared no better.

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GO BIG BLEW?????

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And what about Head Coach Lloyd Carr?

After this egregious embarrassment and losing as many bowl games as Michigan has in recent years, could he be a Dead Coach Walking?

He’ll probably survive this–probably– but can you imagine the distress in his lower G.I. tract today?

I’ve got four words for you Big Daddy: Im-Mo-Di-Um.

Oh yeah…Texas A&M and Virginia Tech won their games.

Next Sunday, I’ll recap the Texas/TCU game and I’ll take a closer look at LSU, Florida and I’ll examine the Trojans to see if in fact, the ribbed ones have been made for my pleasure.

Oh yeah…I’ll review USC, too.

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For The Love of Longhorns

If people know anything about Meg at all, they’d know she has a fervent, undying love for the University of Texas Longhorns.

More specifically, the football team.

Make no mistake about it, she is a fan.

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Devoted.

Rabid.

And will be until the day she dies.

Meg loves college football and knows a lot about it. Not enough to “Stump the Schwab” mind you and frankly, she’s seen him–and asks, why in God’s name would anyone want to???

She first became cognizant of Longhorn football in 1969. The team that year (the last all Anglo Texas football team, by the way) went undefeated. And by early December, was ranked #1 team in the country. Arkansas, a fellow Southwest Conference team and Texas’ arch rival was ranked #2. They would battle it out for all the marbles–The National Championship– on the Razorback’s home turf in Fayetteville. It was the last game of the regular season…and dubbed “The Big Shootout”.

The date: December 6th, 1969–the 100th anniversary of college football.

Meg remembered it well. President Nixon had agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule of erasing tapes and obstructing justice to come to Arkansas to crown the winning team the new Collegiate Kings of the Gridiron.

Pomp and circumstance.

A big deal.

A very big game.

Much to Longhorn fans dismay, Arkansas lead most for most of it. It didn’t look good for the boys in burnt orange and white.

It was mid-fourth quarter and the score was 14-8, Arkansas.

Then, Texas coach Darrell Royal called a play that still makes former UT quarterback, James Street’s head spin.

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He called for a Right 56 Veer Pass. The players looked at each other… Right 56 Veer pass?

Back then, Texas was a running powerhouse. They were undefeated that season because they’d perfected the triple option known as the Wishbone T (which was designed by Darrel Royal himself). While Street had an arm, throwing the ball was something Texas didn’t do that often.

It was a gutsy call, especially in a game of this magnitude AND with only 5:51 left in the fourth.

But it worked. It was brilliant and to a certain degree, damn lucky.

Randy Peschel caught the pass and ran it down to the Arkansas 13. The next play, Ted Koy ran it to the two and ultimately, Jim Bertlesen ran it in for the TD, the homer, the goal….Shafts Big Score!!!!!!!!!!!! Kicker, Happy Feller made the extra point.

The score was 15-14 and by the end of that dismal, cold and gray day, Texas had won the National Championship.

A special father/daughter bond was forged that day. From that point on, Meg and her father would always have one thing in common: a love of Longhorn football.

Her father instilled in her a mighty love and respect for “The University”. Meg grew up with her own regulation Texas football jersey, stickers, t-shirts, mugs, pens and Longhorn stuffed animals. She and her father attended several home games each season.

As far as colleges were concerned, there was only one option. And one day in June in the late 70’s, Meg started summer school and a whole new life at The University of Texas. A dream was coming true for Meg…..and for her father.

She’d eventually reach the pinnacle as far as her father was concerned–she started dating a UT football player. Even though this guy was a third string nose guard and never played once, her father couldn’t have been happier. But that’s all he saw…his daughter was dating a football player. Not just ANY football player…this was a Longhorn. Her Dad had visions of 50 yard line season tickets dancing in his head, meeting Earl Campbell and shaking Darrell Royal’s hand. . To hell with Meg’s academic or personal accomplishments, his daughter had what it took to capture the eye of this burnt orange jersey’d demigod. She was dating a UT football player and all was right with the world.

That is, until Meg broke up with the jock. When her father learned what she’d done, he was close to tears! They broke up because he was seeing someone else on the side and Meg’s father actually accused her of doing something that pushed him into the arms of another woman! That strained the relationship even more and things hadn’t been good since her parent’s divorce, which had been a horrible experience. Feelings were hurt, relationships were fractured. Meg and her father stopped talking.

Then, he found religion. Her father spoke his mind when it came to his belief in God. He had a tendency to proselytize and that turned him into an arrogant, religious snob…an over-the-top zealot. Meg had her own opinions about her relationship with God and her father didn’t like them. They couldn’t talk without getting into heated arguments. So, over the years, they just stopped talking altogether.

They continued to drift further and further apart. A few years later, her father, in a desperate attempt to foster some kind of relationship with his daughter, wisely decided to make contact with his daughter again. They spoke occasionally and wisely decided to limit their conversations to the one thing he knew they could talk about: Longhorn football.

Their relationship continued to be strained, but for a few months each fall, they could talk without fighting. A love of Longhorn football was the one thing she and her father always had.

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They were never closer than during football season of 2004.

Every Saturday when a UT game was televised, they’d call each other and watch the kickoff together. They also stayed in touch during the game…. they’d call each other whenever there was a critical play and that year, there were many. When Texas would move up the polls during the week, they’d talk about that, too.

At the end of almost every game that season, they’d call each other and say in unison, “Looks like we won!”.

It was ritual.

2004 was a good year for Meg and her father. In many ways, it was a great year.

That season, UT had only lost once, to Oklahoma and because of some controversial finagling by Texas Head Coach, Mack Brown,UT landed a coveted post-season spot in the Grand Daddy of all bowl games: The Rose Bowl.

On January 1st, 2005, Texas went up against one of the most storied college football programs in the country..Michigan.

But the Horns had a play-making magician at the helm. Vince Young was quarterback and he performed brilliantly all season long, but outdid himself at the Rose Bowl. He basically won the game single-handedly.

For the first time in Texas history, the Longhorns played in and won the Rose Bowl.

At the end of the game during the trophy presentation, Vince Young accepted the Bowl trophy and vowed that Texas would be back next year.

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Meg and her father would hold Vince to that.

That game; that bold promise were two things Meg and her father talked about for days.

But soon the novelty of the victory wore off. They started talking less. Eventually, her phone stopped ringing and she stopped dialing his number.

Meg told me that she’d gotten an e-mail from her father a few weeks after the game, lamenting the fact that neither one of them were basketball fans.

But they always had football and a new season was fast approaching.

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Meg’s father died that summer.

His burial was held late in the afternoon. When it was over, everyone left, but she stayed behind to watch the casket lowered into the ground. She needed to see the finality of it all.

She stood there, amazingly stoic, but saddened by the reality that all she and her father had were a few football seasons together; saddened also by the reality that they’d have no more to share.

She told her father goodbye and walked away and as she did, her gaze went westward. How fitting that in the nuclear explosion of color in that exquisite South Texas sunset, the predominate shade was burnt orange.

She looked back over her shoulder at the cemetery plot as a small front end loader shoveled dirt on top of her father’s coffin. She sighed and looked towards the sky above her.

“Hey Daddy? While you’re up there, see what you can do about the Horn’s offensive line this season, OK? Vince is gonna need a lot of help!”

A chill ran up her spine and down the backs of both arms…a visceral sign to Meg, that he’d heard her request. She got in her car and drove away.

And on a chilly January night seven months later, Meg cried as she sat alone and watched Texas play USC in the Rose Bowl. Vince Young made good on his promise.

As the game clock ran out of time, she watched the Texas bench celebrate the team’s first undisputed National Championship in 36 years.

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Meg smiled and wiped away a tear as she said to herself, “Hey Daddy….looks like we won!”

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