Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sweetest Thing

As the year dwindles down, so too ends my Friday Fun Bowl series. This probably excites you, the reader, for one of two reasons:

  1. You have genuinely enjoyed reading about my past bowl game escapades and are anxious to see what I've saved for the grand finale or
  2. You are sick of me writing about college football, bowl games, and WVU.
Regardless of which category you fall under (or maybe you're just indecisive and fall under both), today's post should bring a smile to your face.

So let's get to it, shall we? This is the one where WVU took on the BIG, BAD S.E.C.....and won.


In fall of 2005, the world was a very busy place. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched, Saddam Hussein went on trial, and a little storm called Katrina hit the U.S.'s Gulf Coast.

In small-town U.S.A. Morgantown, big changes were happening as well. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall and running back K.J. Harris had graduated, leaving a young offense behind. The new "Big East" was about to kick off, as the conference welcomed in Cincinnati, South Florida, and Louisville to replace the departed Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

I, myself, had just gone back to graduate school to earn a M.S. in Sport Management. Thus, I found myself right in the midst of the football action.

After a few easy games, week 5 rolled around. #3 Virginia Tech, led by Marcus Vick, came into town for the last time. The Hokies won 34-17. Mountaineer fans all over the country cursed and ranted as the Black Diamond Trophy went back to Blacksburg, possibly for good.

But conference play was getting ready to go into full swing. A true freshman running back by the name of Steve Slaton began to pile on yards. Then Louisville came into town.

With one quarter left, the Mounties found themselves facing a dismal 24-7 deficit. To make matters worse, QB Adam Bednarik left the game with a leg injury. Rodriguez had no choice but to put in redshirt freshman Pat White.

Yes, that Pat White.

Long story short....WVU came back and won that game in triple OT and finished out the season with a perfect conference record, earning them a spot in the Sugar Bowl.

Now normally, we would have been headed to New Orleans. But as fate would have it, Katrina's devastation pushed the bowl game to another venue....Atlanta, GA.

Which, looking back, might have been a good thing. Had rowdy Mountaineer fans come into town, the Big Easy might have never recovered.

Anyhoo, WVU was matched up against the S.E.C. winner Georgia Bulldogs, in what was virtually a home game for them. The Mountaineers were dead in the water before the game even kicked off.

But off to Georgia we went! Bulldog fans greeted us northerners with scornful smiles and a whole round of "Bless Your Hearts". Not a good sign.

As night fell, we took our seats at the Georgia Dome. While most people we knew were up in the nosebleed sections, we somehow scored tix in the end zone, about twenty rows up from the field. Perfect for me to find what I had anxiously been waiting UGA sighting.

What can I say? Bulldogs in sweaters make me happy.

And then WVU scored a touchdown....and another....and another....and another. Before any of us could blink, it was 28-0. A few irate Georgia fans in front of us cursed like a sailor waxed poetic, exclaiming "WHEN THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO FIGURE THAT OUT????!?!?!?!?!"

Bless their hearts.

Suddenly, the BIG, BAD S.E.C. wasn't quite so scary.

To their credit, the Bulldogs had a comeback in them. With 1:26 seconds left, WVU's lead had been cut to 38-35. The Mountaineers were facing a 4th and 6, and all of us were nervous. We knew that if Georgia got the ball back, they would almost certainly score the tie-ing or go-ahead points.

But, as Lee Corso would say, Not So Fast my friends.

In a move of either sheer brilliance or stupid luck, Rodriguez called in a fake punt to kicker Phil Brady. Brady ran for the first down and sealed the victory.

Yeah, that was kind of exciting.

Steve Slaton was named game MVP, setting a Sugar Bowl record of 204 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was the first in a line of four bowl victories for QB Pat White, a record only equaled by Tim Tebow. And ESPN named the game as #6 on the list of best bowl games in this BCS era.

All in all, the 2006 Sugar Bowl, and our experience in Atlanta, was pretty darn sweet.

So friends, what did you think about my bowl advent series? Glad to read it or glad it's over? Let me know!

Oh, and....Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Images provided by the Sports-O-Nista.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The One That Got Away

No, I'm not going to wax poetic about Katy Perry's latest hit, although I do j'adore it immensely.

It's the third Friday in my Friday Fun Bowl Post, which I've now mentally determined is my Bowl Advent Season. Four glorious weeks of exploring my past game experiences, culminating in my trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl.

I know, it's exciting. I'm not lighting candles, but I won't hate it if you decide to do so while reading these posts.

Before I go off on too much of a weird tangent, however, let's harken back to 2008, shall we?

This is the game that could have been, but wasn't.


It was December 1, 2007. WVU was ranked 2nd in the BCS Poll, and poised to land themselves a spot in the BCS Championship game with a very real chance at a National Championship title.

The Pittsburgh Panthers were limping into the 100th Backyard Brawl with a 4-7 record. As a 28 point favorite, WVU was almost assured a victory.

In fact, we were so certain we would be making a trip to New Orleans, we spent the previous day looking at tickets prices ($1000+) and hotels. I begged my parents to let me pull the trigger, but my mom said we should hold off. You know, just in case.

Yes, more prophetic words have never been uttered.

Because I can't stomach to relive the gruesome details, let me summarize....we didn't win. And two short weeks later, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced he was leaving for Michigan, thus becoming Public Enemy #1.

Ergo, we had a team that had just blown maybe their only shot at a National Title and no head coach. It was an atmosphere of dread, of betrayal, of hurt, and of anguish.

WVU was matched up against a strong Oklahoma team for the Fiesta Bowl. Remember two weeks ago when I said my mom hated to fly? Well, Arizona is even farther away than Miami.

Now we had an atmsophere of dread, despair, and anguish, a team with no coach, and a long ass trip to the southwest.

It just wasn't looking good.

But we're all about democracy in our family, so we debated. My stepdad wanted to go. My mother wanted to stay home, convinced she'd be suffering an airplane trip just to watch us lose. Ultimately, I was the deciding factor. Because I was in a job where January vacations were taboo, I reluctantly voted to stay.

So home we stayed.

On game day, I was horribly sick with a terrible cold....fitting for the gray mood that still seemed to hover. Curled up in bed, I watched in solitary confinement as WVU took the field. On the other side of the house, my parents did the same.

Suddenly, as if the Arizona sun burned them away, the clouds lifted.

Mostly because this started to happen:

See ya in the endzone suckers.
The fans, the Oklahoma Sooner players, Bob Stoops, and the 98% of the country who thought Oklahoma would have a cakewalk were stunned.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I called the houseline from my cell phone to hoarsely scream whenever something good happened. Yes, that's weird. No, I don't care.

As the clock wound down, and the score stood at 48-28, my mom came over to my room. Sitting on my bed, with tears streaming down her face, she hugged me and said, "I'm just so proud of them. Nobody thought they could do it, and they did."

A tad dramatic, but I understood the sentiment.

And then Owen Schmitt cried too, Pat White was named MVP, and this guy somehow became head coach:

Oh Bill Stewart, we hardly knew ye. And we don't really miss ye either.

Yes, this was perhaps the BIGGEST victory ever in WVU football history. No coach and no chance proved to be very little of a problem.

And to this day, I still can't believe we missed it.

Images provided by wvinter, maryschwalm, i252.photobucket, and a.espncdn.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rub Some Dirt On It

Being a professional athlete is probably one of the more physically grueling occupations. Especially as it compares to say, me, who sits at a desk all day typing at a computer.

Although, carpal tunnel syndrome is a very real and deadly serious problem. Don't ever let anyone tell you any different.

Unfortunately, talent and durability are two separate traits. While some athletes tend to endure through the years (ex. Iron Man Cal Ripken, Brett Favre, and Chris Chelios), others are prone to injury upon injury (ex. Grant Hill, Greg Oden, and Chad Pennington).

Case in point: Sid "The Kid" Crosby.

I have another owie.
On Saturday, Crosby was placed on the Injured Reserve list with "concussion-like" symptoms after being inactive since December 5th.

This marks the (what seems like) 10 millionth time Sidney has been injured since the 2007-08 season. In January of '08, a high ankle sprain caused Crosby to sit out of the All-Star game and miss an additional 29 games that season.

Last winter, Crosby suffered a devastating hit by the Washington Caps David Steckel. Four days later he sustained another hit, one that put him out of the line-up for the rest of the season.

Fast forward to 2011. Sidney didn't even re-enter the field of contact hockey until late November. Two weeks later, he was back out.

Let's be real: During healthy times, the Kid is unbelievable at what he does. A Stanley Cup winner, an Olympic Gold Medalist, a Hart Trophy winner (most valuable player), a Lester Pearson award winner (most outstanding player), an Art Ross award winner (leading scorer during a season), and the youngest person to ever captain an NHL squad.

And he's the ripe age of 24.

But that begs the question: If he's only 24, and he's already missing large chunks of playing time due to concussions, how long can he last in the sport?

My guess is not very long.

So Cal Ripken, rest easy. Your Iron Man title is least from the likes of Sidney Crosby.

Image provided by nhlsnipers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gator....good for fashion, bad for football

Hey ya'll! Today marks the second edition of my Friday Fun bowl series. The weather is getting a little nippy outside, so I thought a trip down to Jacksonville, Florida would be fun. Here goes!


Gators....not as cuddly as depicted here.
The Gator Bowl. Since 1922, WVU has played in seven of them.

They've won

So yeah, not pretty. Not by a long stretch. In fact, our family has been a personal witness to 3 of those seven losses.

Before you say we're the jinx, we were also at the only Gator Bowl in which they were there.

I remember my first Gator Bowl like it was yesterday. Mostly because it was perhaps the BIGGEST disaster of a football experience I've ever had the displeasure of being a part of.

Sure, it started out inconspicuously enough. We were all super-dooper excited to be going to Florida. Much better than lame Charlotte, NC where we had gone the previous year.

Side note... this is the game where we realized that you should a) never get your tickets through the university and b) you should try to stay at the hotel where the Alumni Association is staying. Trust me.

Anyway, five minutes after we pull up to our somewhat dubious hotel/motel, my mother trips over the speed bump in the parking lot and face plants onto the pavement, eliciting cheers from the drunken WVU fans already in party mode.

And let's be real...they thought she was in "party mode" already as well.

Turns out, she had sprained or broken something in her leg region. This is important for you to know because it was New Year's Eve and it basically sidelined us for the evening. Also? It really made getting to our seats the next day in the nosebleed section really, really interesting.

As for the game, well....WVU got slaughtered by a Maryland team led by former WVU quarterback Scott McBrien.  The final score was 41-7. And my stepdad didn't talk for 3 whole days. No lie.
Fast forward to the 2010. This was the last Gator Bowl we attended. I should have sensed disaster from the very beginning. It happened to be Bobby Bowden's last game as Florida State's head coach, and FSU was given a courtesy invite as a 6-6 barely eligible bowl team to play a very strong 9-3 WVU squad. Bowl officials wanted to play up the whole Bowden- WVU connection, where Bobby had begun his Division I head coaching career.

I get that Bowden is a legend, I do. But the man was made Grand Marshall of the parade and given a free car.

Which, fyi, I totally expect now when I retire. Am I right people?

The rain and gloom of the day kinda matched the outcome. FSU went on to win 33-21, and Bobby ended his career a winner. Yay.

Meanwhile, we were forced to suffer through yet another sucky Gator Bowl experience.


In fact, if not for the Gator Bowl in 2007, Jacksonville would be a hopeless cause.

Our entire family left right before New Year's Eve to make the trip down south, leaving just my cousin and her fiance behind to watch over things. My grandfather had been admitted to the hospital to remove fluid from his legs- a result of not properly taking his medication. Something that wasn't a walk in the park, but nothing too serious. So off to Jacksonville we went.

Unfortunately, by late December 30th, things had taken a turn for the worse. A pneumonia epidemic was sweeping the hospital, and my grandfather had contracted it. By early New Year's Eve morning, he had gone into kidney failure, and by early evening he was gone.

Devastated, we sat around trying to figure out what to do. Should we pack up and head home ASAP? Should we leave first thing in the morning? Or should we stay, attend the game, and then leave?

After much debate, my mom, stepdad and I decided that my grandfather would want us to go to the game. He loved football. He loved WVU. He had wished us well on our trip before we departed and said he'd been watching.

Once again, the weather in Jacksonville was gloomy. Donned in ponchos, we suffered through the rain as Georgia Tech, with a very talented Calvin Johnson as receiver, got out to a substantial lead. It looked like it was again going to be one of those games.

But then, something happened. Legendary QB Pat White brought the Mounties out in the second half raring to go. We could sense a comeback in the air. Down by 18 late in the 3rd, West Virginia scored 21 unanswered points to win 38-35.

My grandfather HAD been watching. He had helped to validate our decision to stay.

And lest you think I'm getting too sappy and soft, let me assure you: that was the first time ESPN became enamored with me and my rain poncho. As we greeted people at the viewing, we were met with countless "Sorry for your loss....I totally saw you at the game on tv!"

Which, morbid as it sounds, was all kinds of awesome.

So thanks for the memories Gator Bowl. But if it's all the same, I'd rather have you as a shoe....or a handbag.

Images provided by The Sportsonista.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are We Gonna Brawl or Are We Gonna Ball?

Cincy vs. Xavier.

If you follow sports at all, you either a) saw this first hand b) saw some sort of replay or c) at least heard about the fight that went down between these two schools on Saturday.

And if you didn't, please take a moment and catch up, mmmkay?

Now, I don't know if these kids are jealous that college football has been hogging the headlines with scandal upon scandal, if someone wanted to recreate the Brawl at the Palace, or if someone thought that Ndamukong Suh was all sorts of awesome in his stomping tirade vs. the Detroit Lions, but whatever the reason, this was ridonkulous.

Ridonkulous to the point of embarrassing, in fact. These, for the most part, are grown adults. And, unfortunately for them, they didn't decide to play hockey as a sport.

Ergo, the brawl shouldn't have happened.

That being said, things DO happen. Tempers careen out of control. Testosterone is high. What matters is how the situation is handled. How the coaches, university officials, and the players themselves respond.

On Sunday, both schools suspended four players each for their roles in the altercation, including seniors Yancy Gates (Cincy) and Tu Holloway (Xavier). Both Gates and Holloway are major role players for their respective squads.

In an ESPN presser on Sunday, Bearcat head coach Mick Cronin echoed the verdict with this sentiment :

"Before any of them put a uniform back on they will apologize and that's just the first step before putting the uniform back on. Just because the press release says what it says that doesn't mean they're all back. They're going to sit in front of a camera and say how sorry they are and how grateful they are for getting a second chance.

"If I don't believe it then they won't be on the team -- and if they don't demonstrate that they won't ever put on a jersey again -- period. They're going to sit in front of a camera and say it. I can tell the difference as to how genuine they are. The university issued the suspensions and I supported it. But for me it's different. I have the autonomy to not let anybody back on the team."

Of course, many pundits believe that this soliloquy, while admirable, may just be lip service. When job security is often based on wins and losses, making the conscious decision to dismiss star players is a tough one.

Personally, I can't stand Mick Cronin. I think he comes across as an angry, little man suffering from a Napoleonic complex and a chip on his shoulder. However, I tend to believe the sincerity behind his sentiments.

I hate you...but it's for your own good.

Yes, what happened Saturday is a blight on the Cincinnati and Xavier programs. But if Cronin, and his counterpart Chris Mack, can use this incident as a teaching/learning experience, then maybe, just maybe, there's a win in it after all.

Image provided by blog.syracuse.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Debutante Bowl

Bowl season is officially upon us.

Every year at this time, hundreds of thousands of crazed college football fans are making their travel plans to go support their favorite team in whatever randomly named bowl game in which the school has accepted to play.

Or, as some of my friends are doing (ahem, Justin M.), going to just a random game because it's "closest".

The past few days in my own life have been filled with the purchase of tickets, the reserving of hotel rooms, the convincing of my mom to fly, the scrounging and purchasing of plane tickets, and the renting of a car. All so we can attend the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL on January 4th.

These might seem like excessive costs, especially around the holidays, but there's something you need to realize: tradition, especially when it comes to bowl games, knows no limitations in my family.

In fact, since the year 2000, we've attended every bowl game that WVU has played in, barring the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. That's 11 straight years of travelling to Charlotte, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Orlando, and now Miami.

Truthfully, a lot of them run together. But the one that still stands out to me is my first bowl game. It's a story I'd like to share with you now.


It was the year 2000 (cue Conan O'Brien music here).

Head coach and Hall of Famer Don Nehlen had just finished up his last regular season. Our family had just finished up their 2nd year as season ticket holders. With a record of 6-5, the Mountaineers were headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN to take on a 7-4 Ole Miss team.

It was decided: Coach Nehlen's last game would be our first bowl experience.

So off to Nashville we went. Although not our first trip to the Music City, Nashville was nevertheless still as charming and "small-town" quaint as I remembered. Scores of Mountaineer fans decked in blue and gold crowded the city streets, filling restaurants and pubs with raucous laughter and renditions of Let's Goooooooo.....Mountaineers!

On game day, we joined in with the masses to "fan walk" across the river to the relatively new Titan's Stadium. Despite being in the south, the atmosphere was still chilly and crisp: perfect football weather.


Finally, it was game time. WVU Quarterback Brad Lewis came out on fire. The Mountaineers seemed to throw touchdown after touchdown. In fact, it only took them 18 plays to score 5 times in the first half. It was exciting. It was crazy. It was a performance that WVU fans hadn't seen in a long, long time.

Getting Ready to Score...Again

Up 49-16 headed into the 4th quarter, we were all pretty confidant it was going to be a blow out. With seemingly no hope, Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe decided to put in a freshman quarterback by the name of....wait for it....Eli Manning.

Yes, that Eli Manning.

With temperatures now in the 20s, and winds gusting up to 15 mph, Manning came in and lit up the frozen Nashville field. What Lewis had done in the first half, Manning was now doing late in the 2nd.

In fact, the 19 year old threw for three touchdowns, cutting the deficit to 11 points. Now 49-38, we were starting to get a little worried. Mountaineer fans had been down this road many a time before. In fact, under Nehlen's reign, the Mounties had had 8 straight bowl losses.

Which, fyi, is an unofficial bowl record in futility.

Fortunately, DB Lance Frazier intercepted Manning with 3 minutes to go, sealing the victory.

Victory Celebration on the Field

Awesome Sign I Made....and my friend Scott Moore, who was the Mountaineer at the time

With chants of "Nehlen, Nehlen", Don, the team, and the crowd celebrated a bowl victory that was a long time in the making.

I'd like to think that my debut in the bowl world had a little something to do with it.


So fans, do you have any memorable bowl stories you'd like to share? I'm contemplating counting down some more of my bowl experiences in the coming Fridays, so be thinking of ways to top them. Cause let me tell you, it only gets more interesting from here on out!

Images provided by The Sports-O-Nista.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Eye on the Tiger

He's Baa-aaa-aaa-ccc-kkk!!!!!

At least, that's what ran through my head when I saw that Tiger (Woods, for those of you who have been living under a rock the last decade) had won the Chevron World Classic by sinking two birdies to finish his last round.

In the past, this would have been just another ho-hum headline. However, since his personal life provided mucho tabloid fodder two years ago, Tiger has been winless. 749 days winless to be exact.

Not that this seemed to bruise his inflated ego. I recall an ESPN interview last spring where Tiger intimated that he was still "the best player" in the game with a smug smirk and faux humble head nod.

Yet, match after match, tournament after tournament, Tiger has found himself on the losing side of the back nine.

Lately, though, Tiger does seem to be on the rise back to glory. In his past three tournaments, he combines his Chevron win with a third-place finish in the Australian Open and scoring the clinching point in the President's Cup.

In his post-tournament interview, Tiger was excited to be back on top:

“I feel pretty good going into next year,” Woods said. “If I have a good year I should be on the ballot for Comeback Player of the Year, so I’m excited about that.”

Also? Insert "Most Obnoxious and Smarmy Player on Ballot" joke here.

Anyhoo, judging by the way his name was smeared across Sports Center and PTI headlines last night, it's not hard to see that the world is eager for Tiger's return.

Maybe this time around he won't blow it.

Image provided by wikimedia.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Let me let you all in on a little secret:

I work approximately a five minute walk (or two blocks) from my parent's homestead. Ergo, I get to go "home" for lunch and basically steal food out of their refrigerator whenever my heart desires.

On Tuesday, I hoofed it over there and was delighted to discover remnants from Thursday's holiday meal. Namely, my mom's extra-special, delicious mashed potatoes and homemade stuffing. Not gonna lie...I heaped up helpings of those carb-overloaded bad boys and went to town. It was Thanksgiving leftover goodness at its best.

Right about now you may be asking yourself: What exactly does this have to do with sports?

And the answer is....well, almost nothing. Mostly I just wanted to brag about my access to free food. However, thinking about the concept of leftovers has inspired me to post all the sports tidbits from the past week.

So friends, I now present to you my Holiday Leftover Smorgasbord. Enjoy!


-On Monday, the Washington Capitals fired long-time head coach Bruce Boudreau after the team lost 6 out of its last 8 games. While Boudreau won 200 games faster than any other head coach in NHL history, owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee cited Bruce's poor playoff performance and unresponsiveness by his players as reasons for his dismissal.

Personally, I was flabbergasted at the decision, even though new head coach Dale Hunter was always a fav of mine when he captained the Caps squad during the 1990s. Appparently, other teams in the league were as shocked, but one actually "Capital"ized on the move: the Anaheim Ducks fired coach Randy Carlyle yesterday and replaced him with Boudreau. So to Bruce I say, "May the force of the Flying V be with you".

- As I was surfing twitter yesterday, I took notice of this tweet by Women In Sports:

I  have to admit this left me dumbfounded, since I didn't even realize that Women's Ski Jumping wasn't already a sanctioned event. After a little research, I discovered that the women's right to ski jump has been quite the contentious issue with the IOC. Since 1998, women ski jumpers have petitioned to include their sport in the Olympic Games. Although the IOC ruled in 1991 that new events must include both men and women, old events were not under such guidelines. This past spring, however, the sport was finally added as a new event to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Looks like 2014 will have all sorts of fun new stuff to watch, n'est-ce pas?

- Speaking of Twitter, the social media tool has been in full force this past week. My boy Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, was suspended after his antics during Thanksgiving's matchup between the Lions and the Packers.

If you didn't see it, Suh finished off a pounding of Packer guard Evan Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground with a nice stomp on the arm. Oops.

Following his prompt ejection, Suh both tweeted and facebooked an apology to his fans. Look, I love Suh. But something about tweeting and facebooking your mea culpa reeks a little of insincerity, don't you think?

-This weekend marks the end of regular season college football. On Sunday, bowl selections will be made, and the big question is who exactly will be facing LSU in the Championship?

Most pundits expect the answer to that will be Alabama. And not only do they expect it, but they seem to welcome it.

Well, here's one sport's fan who DOESN'T welcome it, for a few reasons:

One, Alabama will not be playing in the SEC Championship this Saturday. That distinction falls to LSU and SEC East winner Georgia. If you don't win your conference, why should you play in the title game?

Yes, I know that many other sports, including the NFL, have had champions that don't win their own division. However, there is also a playoff system that allows a fair and logical path to that title. And no, I'm not advocating for a playoff in Division 1 Bowl Conference Schools. That's another argument for another time.

Two, and probably more importantly, LSU and Alabama have already played during the regular season. LSU won (albeit by the slimmest of margins). Not only did I think that game was boring, but a rematch would present its own set of problems. What happens if Alabama wins? Without a playoff system in place, how can we rightly say that Alabama is the National Championship? Just because the BCS deems it to be more special than the first time they played?

If I were a voting member, and Oklahoma State wins over Oklahoma this weekend in the Big 12 title game, then I would put the Cowboys in the Big Dance. Iowa State loss aside, I believe they've done enough to earn a spot against the Bayou Bengals.

-And finally, I had an email this week that brightened my soul and showed that at least one of you out there reads what I write. Reader (and co-worker) Rob S. submitted this picture as an addition to my Easy Jobs in Sports post the other week:

The Quiet Sign holder Golf Guy
Thank you Rob for your contribution, though I must say that holding your arms up in the air and remaining silent for hours on end might entail more effort than I'm willing to exert.


Well kids, now that I've combed through all the leftovers, I think it's time for a post-Thanksgiving/Friday Fun nap. Have a good weekend, and I'll see you on the flip side!

Images provided by wamua.espncdn, and sportschump.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Boys are Back...and so am I!

Happy post-Thanksgiving ya'll!

While I spent most of my holiday lounging in the sun and sand in Florida (or napping on the know, whatevs), I managed to take in a few sporting events. Namely, the two early NFL games on Thanksgiving and, most importantly, the Backyard Brawl between WVU and Pitt on Saturday night.

*Please insert here a semi-sincere apology to my family for the death glares I gave them if they got too close to the remote or even looked like they were contemplating changing the channel. Also? Accept my sincere thanks for locking the children out on the lanai for most of the night.*

Anyhoo, as I was flying home Saturday, something pretty big happened in the sports world. Yes, NBA finally happened. Early Saturday morning, a tentative deal was reached between players and owners to start the 2011 season on Christmas Day, thus ending the 149-day lockout.

While not released yet, team schedules will be sporting a new look. With 48 in-conference and 18 out-of-conference match-ups, a 66 game agenda is in the works. And in that new layout, teams are expected to play back-to-back-to-back games, including up through the 2nd round of the playoffs.

I hope the players were keeping in shape over in Europe or while they were bumming around for the last few months. I tend to think this is David Stern's idea of a gag gift....because we all know that exhaustion is the present that keeps on giving.

I'm guessing most fans aren't really interested in the terms laid out in the new CBA. As long as the season tips off, the deets are just semantics. For those of you who ARE interested, however, here's a quick summation:

The owners won.

Sure, the players were victorious on smaller issues such as minimum team salary and escrow. But in the big picture, 90% of the concessions went to the owners. You know, those same concessions that could have been made MONTHS ago.

I guess it just goes to show that stubborness gets you a lot in unemployment.

So, while there's still some work left to do, such as reforming the union, getting players back from overseas, and approving the deal via a majority, it looks like Santa will be giving all the girls and boys a very-NBA Christmas.

Let's hope that it's not just a lump of coal waiting to happen.

Image provided by the-sport-report.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks

Next week is Thanksgiving. While the holiday is best known for its plethora of food, the Macy's Parade, and being a day of rest before Black Friday, it's also a time that most of us stop to give thanks for the goodness in our lives.

In the wake of the Penn State and now possibly Syracuse scandals, the absurdity of the importance we place on sports in our lives has never been more at the forefront. However, sports are still one of the most popular forms of entertainment we have. Whether we use them as means of escapism, fulfilling vicarious dreams, or just as a way to feel camaraderie with our fellow peers, the simple truth is.....sports DO matter.

So with that in mind, I'd like to take the opportunity to give thanks to some of the sports-related tidbits in my life:


Maybe it's the girl in me, but nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than to see unexpected tenderness from big burly athletes. MLB players with their kids during the All-Star game? Forget it.

But what really gets me on a week to week basis is the tradition of the Shepherd Rams football team petting Zan the Ram as they run on the field. Coach Monte Cater, always the last out of the locker room, never fails to take a moment to give the woolly guy a pat on the head. And that never fails to make me smile.


On the flip side of the previous thanks-inducing moment, I'm thankful that Bruce Irvin came into our lives at WVU. Let's face it, we like bruisers on our football team. Guys who aren't afraid to go out and hurt somebody. And maybe themselves in the process.

Hello, Owen Schmitt hitting himself in the head with a helmet anyone?

That's why, on any given Saturday, it's a welcome sight to see Bruce Irvin taking down quarterbacks, receivers, and basically anyone on the other team he can get his hands on. He's a scary dude, and he knows it. And honestly, that's what I love about him.


I know, I know, a lot of people think this is one of the more barbaric traditions in sports. But fighting in hockey is as natural as breathing. Why? I don't know. Maybe because they're wearing skates. Maybe because it's cold. Maybe Canadians are more testosterone-ly fueled than normal dudes. It just is. Thank goodness.


I'm thankful for this one for two reasons. One, I had no idea how to Dougie until former WVU basketball player John Flowers brought it to my attention. I liked the song. I knew there was a dance. I just didn't know what it was.

However, I think this was the moment that really put Flowers on every one's radar. Sure, we had seen the videos he made during WVU's 2010 run to the Final Four. But this video put him in FRONT of the camera. And, let's be real, kinda made him a legend.


This may have some of you going "Huh?" right about now, but hear me out. Having a heated rivalry makes things fun. Legendary Jack Fleming, whose historic call of the Penn State game I posted in my Halloween piece, is famous for his "Hating Pitt" anecdote.

Beano Cook, a long-time "Pitt Man", told the tale in a Post-Gazette feature:

"Jack Fleming's house was above the old stadium," Cook said. "He told me, when he was a child, Pitt would come out on the field, and he would sit on his mother's lap. His mother would point down at them. And his mother would say, 'Son, that's Pitt. You hate Pitt now. You hate Pitt tomorrow. You hate Pitt until the day you die. After that, you will hate Pitt for eternity.'"

Hating Pitt gives us purpose. It gives us motivation. And if nothing else, it gives us a great slogan.


Finally, I'm thankful that in my family, sports is a means of spending time together. Every other Saturday in the fall, we trudge up to Morgantown for a game. Every New Years since 2000, we travel to whatever city WVU is playing a bowl game in. Any time Shepherd has a home basketball game in the winter, you can find us sitting on the bleachers behind the team bench. It's not abnormal for us to hit up a Suns game in the spring/summer. I'm blessed that I live so close to my family to begin with. But the fact that we get to share in an activity we all enjoy on a regular's pretty much one of the best things life has to offer.

So sports fans, what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Are you planning on watching football next Thursday? Let me know!


*On a side note, I'll be heading down to Florida next week to spend the holiday with my family in the sun and sand. Ergo, no posts. I know you'll miss me. I'll surely miss you. See ya on the flip side!


Images provided by Shepherd University, fauxbruceirvin, jasonfeldman.files, and jedword.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm on a Boat

Amidst all the hoopla and ridiculousness surrounding college football this past week, college basketball got off to a rather inconspicuous start.

In a normal year, sports fans just aren't ready to pay attention to their school's hard court squads. Football season is winding down, and those who root for bowl team eligibles are anxiously following each and every game outcome.

This year, well.... actual football may be an afterthought as well, considering all the craziness that's gone down. As the Penn State scandal rocked the country, the capacity to appreciate the finer things in athletics seemed to fall by the wayside.

Which is a shame. Because this Friday night something spectacular and unprecedented happened:

A basketball game was played on a boat.

The 2011 Inaugural Carrier Classic
That's right, a boat. Well, an aircraft carrier to be exact. In honor of Veterans Day, #1 ranked UNC and perennial contenders Michigan State kicked off their season aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, CA.

UNC won easily, but that's beside the point.

The Carl Vinson is no stranger to fame, as it was the carrier that transported Osama Bin-Laden's body for burial. An amazing structure was built on top of the flight deck to hold the 7000 capacity crowd, which included President and First Lady Obama and active-duty military members. Measuring at over 3 football fields long, the ship's deck is so spacious that it was hard to tell the players were even on water.

Following the event's success, games for the next two years are in the schedule works. 2012 will feature a match-up between UConn and possibly Arizona, along with a women's game between Ohio State and Notre Dame. Event coordinator Mike Whalen has said that Michigan State will return in 2013, and that women powerhouses UConn and Stanford might meet.

Yes, in a weekend that was filled turmoil and all that is wrong in college sports today, the Carrier Classic was the counterpoint of all that is right. The game, which paid homage to our military, proved that sports can still provide a bit of magic and inspiration to those who enjoy it most.


So basketball fans, did you catch any of the game? Was it as breathtaking to watch as it was for me? What crazy place do you think they should have a game next? Let me know!

Images provided by i.huffpost. and foxnews.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anything Beats Pulling Tarp....

At the WVU/Louisville game on Saturday, there happened to be two gentlemen behind me who....if I'm being honest....were super annoying. They kept a constant stream of analysis, criticism, and just plain weird conversation going throughout the entire game. But, since I've been in their shoes, I tried to tune it out.

Here's to you, TV time out guy.

Amidst the tuning out, however, I caught a nugget of banter that made me giggle. During a break in play, the men proceeded to point out that the TV "time out" guy might be the easiest job in sports, and perhaps the easiest job ever.

I mean, let's look at the job's qualifications.

  1. Can you stand for multiple minutes at a time?
  2. Can you wear red?
  3. Can you hear?
If you answered yes to the above, you're pretty much good to go.

That got me to thinking...there are some pretty non-taxing, non-skilled jobs in a field that is all about exertion, talent, and physicality. So if you're looking for a new career path that won't require schooling, training, or any sort of intelligence, here are some options for you:

The Sweat-Wiper-Upper

He's the guy who gets to mop up the basketball court when the condensation of blood, sweat and tears gets to be too dangerous for the players. Sure, it may not be very glamorous, and at times may be even gross. But if you can move a mop and follow directions, you're in.

The Number Flipper on the Chain Crew

Like the TV time-out guy, the number flipper is required to stand for lengthy periods of time. Also required? Holding a pole and counting to four.

The Goal Box Watcher and the Penalty Box Attendant

Honestly, both of these are pretty sweet gigs to have if you're into hockey. The Goal Box Watcher gets his own personal seat on the front row, and occasionally he has to flip on a red light (good eyesight is probably a necessity, though).

Meanwhile, the Penalty Box Attendant gets paid to basically babysit grown men for two minutes at a time. Yep, the main function of this job is to make sure penalized players don't leave the box. I wonder if they've ever had to tackle someone to enforce this.

And finally......

The First Base Coach

Let's be real...the first base coach in baseball is little more than a glorified cheerleader/equipment manager. While the 3rd base coach has to make tough decisions that will impact the game outcome, the first base coach gets to dole out high fives, butt slaps, and witty banter.

Sure, they have to take batting helmets, mouth guards, shin guards, and other paraphernalia away from the base runner, but the six figure salary is probably way worth that.

So sports fans....what did you think of the list? Was there anything I missed? Did you, like me, realize you're totally qualified to coach first base in the MLB? Let me know!

Images provided by 4.bp.blogspot, a323.yahoofs, 2.bp.blogspot, cqql, and i.cdn.turner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State Prologue

Before my Friday Fun post tomorrow, I feel I must address the Joe Paterno/Penn State debacle going on right now. Not because I want to, but because a) I feel like you're probably expecting me to and b) I probably should.

I've read a few different op ed pieces on the matter, as well as followed the unending coverage, and I've reached the conclusion that I have no idea how I feel. Do I condemn Joe Pa or do I empathize with his decisions? To be honest, I'm not sure.

What I AM sure of is this, though. The way I see it, there are two victims in this situation. One, and most obvious, are the children that suffered the alleged abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. The second group of victims, however, are the Penn State football players. These men have had nothing to do with the situation. No one took money, no one robbed a liquor store. Yet, pundits want to sentence them for a crime they didn't commit. Some are calling for a forfeiture of the rest of their season; others say that they should do the "right thing" and refuse a bowl bid.

To those individuals I ask....why? What has the team done to deserve punishment? It's as if someone's relative commits murder, and a jury sends the whole family to prison.

As the old adage warns, two wrongs don't make a right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Game of the Centur.......YAWN

The Game of the Century.

At least, that's what the announcers kept touting Saturday night's match-up of #1 LSU against #2 Alabama. It was LSU's old coach vs. LSU's current coach. It was the first time the top two rated teams had matched up in regular season play since 2006, when 11-0 Ohio State took on 11-0 Michigan (Ohio State won 42-39).

 Incidentally, I think that was the last time Michigan was actually good.

With all the hype, this was the game I'd been looking forward to watching for quite some time. I made it home from the WVU debacle just in time to settle on the couch and flip on the TV with most of the first quarter left to play. Exciting thoughts raced through my head.

"Would the Honey Badger strike again?"

"Would Trent Richardson bust through the stingy LSU line?"

"Are all kickers from Australia as awesome as Brad Wing?"

If the game outcome is any indication, then Alabama is probably also asking itself question number 3. Because, after all the hype, the "game of the century" came down to special teams. It was Brad Wing and fellow LSU teammate and kicker Drew Alleman who emerged the victors in the Tigers' 9-6 OT win. Wing had 73 yard punt in the 4th quarter, making it the third longest in school history. Alleman chipped in a 25 footer to win the game. Conversely, Alabama's Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley missed three kicks and had one blocked.

And since I've just spent a paragraph talking about KICKERS, you can guess that the game was...shall we say...not the most prolific offensive display I've ever seen.

After 60 minutes of this gridlock, LSU ended it with the game's 5th field goal.

Three and outs, drives interrupted by interceptions, and grueling, grinding defense was pretty much the rote for 60+ minutes.

Not that we didn't expect that. The SEC is known for its Big Ds. These aren't high-flying west coast offenses. But still, a game without touchdowns is like watching paint dry.

Although, if you were bored by watching two teams just hit each other and trade field position, you probably could have made a drinking game out of the amount of times that Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson uttered any semblance of the phrase, "Well, you never know what he'll do...he's the Mad Hatter" (in reference to LSU head coach Les Miles).

Scenario: LSU is down 6-3. They're getting ready to kick a field goal.

"Well, we think they're going to kick but you never know what the Mad Hatter will do. I mean, he's the Mad Hatter. He's gotta do something crazy, right? The Mad Hatter?"

They kicked.

I honestly think that Miles is so typically bat-shit crazy that people are disappointed when he just plays normal football. And that's what he did on Saturday. In fact, Les himself summed the game up perfectly when he surmised during a post-game show interview, "“What kind of highlights can you even show, 9-to-6?”.

Well, he did trip during the pre-kickoff run out, but that's probably not what they were going for.

No trick plays, no Nick Saban magic, no Trent Richardson sprint to the endzone, no returned interception by the Honey Badger. Just some field goals....both made and missed.

It might have been the game of the century. But frankly, I was a little bored.

So what did you think of the game? Could you stay awake through it all? Were you glad that LSU won? Do you think they'll have a rematch in the Title game? Let me know!

Image provided by zimbio.

Friday, November 4, 2011

All's Fair in Love and Kim Kardashian

Bad news, guys.

Love Hurts.
By now, you've probably heard that Kim Kardashian and her NBA player husband Kris Humphries are divorcing after less than three months of marriage.

It's tragic, I know.
Although...more tragic? That hefty price tag attached to the wedding. Ouch.

There's nothing sadder than a divorced reality tv star. I mean, just look at the Real Housewives. Or Jon and Kate.

The good news is that there are plenty of other rich, athletically-talented fish in the sea. The best thing for Kim to do would be to find herself a new man STAT and get back on that marriage horse.
Don't you agree? Of course you do.

So here are my top five most eligible bachelors, in no particular order:


Pros: Parker is tall, dark, and handsome. He's an NBA player, so Kim wouldn't have to switch to another sport. He clearly prefers petite brunettes at his side. And, as a divorcee himself, Tony wouldn't be scandalized by Kim's troubled past relationships.

Cons: Like Kris Humphries, Parker is kinda out of work at the moment. Also, he's not exactly known for his unwaivering faithfulness and fidelity. Just ask former teammate Brent Barry. Or Barry's wife, Erin.


Pros: Tim Tebow is probably the most pure, wholesome fella in an NFL uniform right now. And, unlike his NBA counterparts, is earning a steady paycheck. His shiny halo might be just the accessory Kim needs in her future spouse.

Cons: Tim Tebow is the most pure, wholesome fella in an NFL uniform. Kardashian, whose past beaus include a sex-tape maker and a stripped-of-Heisman NCAA rule breaker, might get bored with his goody-goody persona.


Pros: Jeter, whose long time relationship with actress Minka Kelly ended this summer, is now once again the most eligible sports bachelor on the market. His winking dimples, five championship rings, and $14.7 million dollar salary confirm this. Furthermore, Jeter is no stranger to Hollywood-esque romances. Besides Kelly, the Yankees shortstop has dated Miss Universe Lara Dutta, Mariah Carey, Jordana Brewster, model Adriana Lima, Vanessa Minillo, Jessica Alba AND Jessica Biel.

Cons: Derek's lengthy serial dating resume leads one to believe that he's not ready to settle down.


Pros: Ok, so I know Kanye is not a pro-athlete, but maybe variety is the spice of life. And if her first marriage to music producer Damon Thomas, or her risque romance with Ray J are any indiciation, Miss K is not opposed to dabbling in the singing industry. Sports,'s all entertainment, no? Besides, Kanye has style and loves the fashion of it all. They're practically shopping buddies made in heaven!!!

Cons: It's Kanye, for crying out loud. Insert any Kanye-related joke here.

And finally......


Pros: The third time is the charm.

Cons: Three strikes and you're out.

So what do you think of my matchmaking choices for Kim? Is there anyone on the list you think is her soulmate? Anyone I forgot? Or should I leave the love business to Patty from Millionaire Matchmaker? Let me know!!


Design by Custom Blog Designs/FreeStyleMama Creations