Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time to seriously re-think voting periods

As the 2012 election marathon officially begins Jan. 3 in the snow-driven cornfields of Iowa, it is the start of a slow-drip deth spiral upon the public's head. It's been dripping for most of 2011 and will continue past the election of the next President in November.
The obscene amount of money spent by various candidates to attempt to obtain elective office should convince even the biggest partisan die-hard that a different method is needed in the United States to choose public officials. If anyone truly thinks the primary and general election process makes financial or participatory sense, when it takes almost two full years to complete – from the first public pronouncement of candidacy to the official filing and then to the final general election – then I’ve got some newly discovered Lehman Brothers stock to sell you.
A good analyst should always offer an alternative solution and I’ve got a doozy. Simply read and think about it.
First, ALL elective offices below the state level should be non-partisan. I don’t understand why the county sheriff necessarily HAS to be a Democrat or Republican when that person is a law enforcement officer.
And wouldn’t judges appear more impartial if they were non-partisan? Then you’d be voting for personal standards and performance; not along party lines. All judgeships should be non-partisan choices.
More importantly, it would save thousands of dollars in duplicate expenditure. Today, a man or woman must wage two expensive campaigns (party primary, general election) to gain such offices as county or district clerk, county treasurer, justice of the peace, constable, etc.
You hold one general election (and one runoff if needed) and let it be done. The winner would need 50 percent – plus one vote – and if the first round doesn’t produce a clear-cut victor, have a runoff 30 days from that first vote.
Second, in presidential years, hold a one-day nationwide primary, to allow as many candidates in each party to vie for the presidency; it would permit ALL Americans the same opportunity to make their feelings known. The first primary could come in August and then the November general election would pit the winners of each major party (or alternative parties if you want to be benevolent).
At the present time, a handful of small northern states get all the say-so in who becomes the next president. In 2000, if Bill Bradley or John McCain had an equal opportunity to go before ALL the voters in their respective parties, instead of getting slowly chopped piecemeal state-by-state, perhaps the outcome “might” have been different. And who knows where we would be today if a national primary was held four years ago? Would we be saying President Hillary Clinton? Or would Mitt Romney be seeking re-election this November?
When each candidate reached my home state, Texas, in early March of 2008, the nomination process was effectively a foregone conclusion. Many voters simply stayed away because they felt their vote for certain candidates were wasted without ANY legitimate chance of winning.
Why should Iowa and New Hampshire voters get SO much power and influence to pre-determine what every other state decides? A national primary would allow any candidate a fair shot at the electorate – always a better way to do things.
A 90-day campaign period would then begin – plenty of time to get one’s message to the nation without months of monotonous campaign advertising bombarding our senses ad nauseum (literally). It would also end the nonsense for holding national party conventions – good only for dull speeches, a lot of partying and staged photo opportunities and balloon drops. Nothing is ever mysterious about these trumped-up, bloated campaign rallies. No real news is ever made, which is why the networks stopped coverage in favor of anything available to broadcast.
Perhaps NBC could put the candidates through a real version of “Fear Factor?” The winner, bugs swallowed and all, gets the nomination.
Third, make early voting a national phenomenon (with clear-cut standards) and move Election Day to a Sunday (many other democratic nations already do that). Our archaic system retains the first Tuesday in November for the general election because … that was the best day when the U.S. was an agrarian society.
But does it fit a very busy 21st century America? How many people simply shun the chance to vote because of a limited (in their mind) time factor? It should be a customer-friendly process, not akin to paying one’s taxes.
Finally, the right to vote is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution; it never mentions a damn thing about voter identification requirements. This argument that voter fraud is a major virus eating at the American fabric is a canard; such laws are simply passed to oppress certain voting groups from exercising their Constitutional rights. It’s shameful and it’s un-American.
And please stop this silly rationale about needing photo IDs to fly on an airplane or cash a check. Neither activity is mentioned in the Constitution and fails to take into account that millions of Americans don’t NEED a photo ID (they don’t drive, fly and only use cash to do business). If someone wants to propose a national ID for all citizens to carry and maintain (with all pertinent legal information include, such as voter registration, social security number, other licenses, etc.), hold that discussion separately from the right to vote.
I know this will never come to be because … in your heart you know it makes sense.
Hence, it’s doomed. Rats! Can I get on “Fear Factor?”

Monday, December 05, 2011

Creole sugar tasting sweeter than rest of BCS stew

It’s official: Michigan is headed to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 in New Orleans and the entire Bowl Championship Series is headed for the crapper. The process to select a national Division 1 football champion (without actually using a sensible playoff system) has spit out a rematch for its coveted crystal football – a game most fans, outside of the Southeastern Conference, do NOT want to see; that contest has been held and decided.
But in the wisdom and contrivance of too many computerized system, it has been declared that undefeated LSU, the legitimate top-ranked team in the nation, will play Alabama, the squad the Tigers beat 9-6 in an overtime battle of field goals in early November.
It, frankly, stinks; it is NOT what most of college football wants to see, and in the process of this ridiculous charade, many excellent programs got the shaft so hard, they might as well employ Isaac Hayes’ classic theme for their entrances (and that means the likes of TCU, Boise State, Houston, Southern Miss and, yes, Michigan State).
Michigan’s appearance almost completes the circle of full redemption from last year’s disastrous conclusion to the 2010 year in the Gator Bowl. A victory over a good (but not great) Virginia Tech squad, accomplished by playing at their best, will allow the Wolverines to feel totally vindicated.
And has anyone noticed that 10 of the schedule’s 12 opponents earned bowl bids of some kind – including San Diego State and Western Michigan. The only two schools NOT invited? Eastern Michigan (although head coach Ron English was named MAC Coach of the Year) and Minnesota. I’m not sure how many schools can equal that.
The BCS need to institute several changes to its policy for picking championship game participants – all based on the avoidance of a rematch of ANY kind (either scheduled or from conference play).
First, two teams from the same conference cannot face each other in the finals. When Ohio State beat Michigan 42-39 in 2006, they were the top two-ranked teams in America and little of what happened in Columbus changed that. Yet … they did not play a second time for the 2007 national championship. As difficult as it is to say, Michigan had its bite at the apple and fell short. Another team would assume that mantle (Florida did and won it all).
Besides, let’s assume Alabama does upset LSU on Jan. 9; what will football fans then expect? A best 2-out-of-3? The bickering could be endless; the best answer is to avoid such a scenario.
The team burnt the most by the choice is Oklahoma State, sitting at 11-1, having utterly and thoroughly destroyed in-state rival Oklahoma in the season finale. The Cowboys would be MORE than a worthy opponent to LSU, offering someone not often seen in the SEC – a potent offense. Much of the defensive statistical supremacy by a host of SEC schools can be attributed to offensively-challenged systems. No one can really name one school whose attack was superlative; Oklahoma State is capable of overwhelming most defenses so playing the best unit (LSU) could make for a compelling matchup.
People inaccurately point to OSU’s double overtime loss at Iowa State as the reason for non-placement in the BCS title game. Yet very few fans, outside of Stillwater, remember the circumstances under which that game was played.
A plane crash the night before had killed two members of the OSU women’s basketball staff and two of the school’s major boosters; all of Stillwater was in morning. YET … because the game was set for Friday night, prime time, on ESPN, it HAD to be played. Or did it? Would a postponement really have been so improper, in deference to the tragedy that also affected the football program?
Iowa State played out of its mind and Oklahoma State seemed distracted, but the Cyclones earned their win and no one from OSU bitched about it. Their performances from that point forward seemed to employ more urgency and the annihilation of OU was the capper.
Of course, the team who “might” have been the one to play on Jan. 9 is ineligible – Southern Cal. Because of that status, the Pac-12 championship march was a joke; all the quality was in one division (Oregon, Stanford) and the Pac-12 title game produced a team that is the only one going to a bowl game with a losing record (UCLA).
Come to think of it, after so many other programs have committed equally egregious violations, why IS Southern Cal on the outside looking in? All because of one player? Come on…
Speaking of UCLA, if you have a sub-.500 record, you simply cannot, and should not, be allowed into ANY post-season bowl game. Period! And if there are not enough teams to fill those slots, cancel the damn game. Sorry, Boise, you ain’t playing this year; sorry, Little Caesars, no bowl bowl for pizza pizza.
And the most worthless of the matchups should be relegated to the kind of channels the Republican presidential candidates held their debates. A few public access outlets might want to show the Belk Bowl.
Next, some conferences lose their automatic bids if their teams stink too much – specifically the Big East. It’s a basketball conference; football is an after-thought. The Mountain West has more of a legitimate claim than the Big East. And if you have members west of the Ohio River, you’re not the Big EAST anymore.
If football purists really want fewer games and better competition in the post-season, then do this: winner take all! Excluding the major games, let’s have all these 6-6, 7-5 and 8-4 schools play on an “all in” basis (especially at the Las Vegas Bowl), with the winner of the contest (and that includes the coaches and players) getting 100 percent of the payout. The loser gets squat, squa-doosh, zilch.
If that was the situation, you’d see two things: a MUCH better contest and fewer of them because many of the schools would back away from that proposal. School presidents wouldn’t have the same stomach to take that wager as they do when wined and dined by these various bowl committees and respective chambers of commerce.
One other thing: except for the BCS title game, one game to a city per year. Sorry, San Diego it’s either the Poinsettia OR the Holiday Bowl … but not both. Same goes for Orlando and New Orleans.
Obviously, an eight-team or 16-team playoff system, held between school semesters, climaxing in late-January on the weekend before the Super Bowl, would end all this nonsense about the BCS. A real national champion would be earned, not pre-anointed by some jukebox of a computer and a smoked-filled meeting room.
For anyone going to New Orleans for the first time, eat beignets and café aulait at the world famous Café DuMond at 2 a.m., see Audubon Park, ride the trolley up and down St. Francis, listen and watch the street scenes around Jackson Square, see the galleries on Royal Street include George Rodrigue’s “Blue Dog” exhibition, and eat at the greatest garden (and most decadent) buffet in the world, The Court of Two Sisters – make sure you order some mimosas.
New Orleans is a Creole city, as opposed to Cajun (which is the rest of Southwest Louisiana, also known as the Acadian region). Creole cooking involves sauces, Cajun cooking involves spices (youse gotta know dat).
So let the good times roll and Geaux Blue!
Here are the BCS bowl lineups (with comments):
Rose Bowl (presented by Vizio) (Pasadena, Calif.), Jan. 2, 5 p.m. – Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (11-2) (ESPN)
The only way Bucky Badger wins this game is ball control and keeping the Oregon offense off the field. Michigan State possesses just half the potency on offense as do the Ducks and they scored a bunch against Wisconsin. This is Oregon’s chance for redemption from last year’s Rose Bowl.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.) Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. – Oklahoma State (11-1) vs. Stanford (11-1), (ESPN)
In a parallel world, this would be worthy of the national title. The battle could be between the top best pro-style quarterbacks in the collegiate game and NFL scouts could account for a significant portion of the crowd. The Cowboys have more to prove than the Cardinal.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.) Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. – Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2) (ESPN)
There’s no history between these two schools so animosity will not be a factor. But Michigan has played, for the most part, with chips on its shoulders and this should be continued vindication on two levels – which the coaching change was the right move and there was enough talent on campus to have prevented what happened the previous three years.
Discover Orange Bowl (Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.) Jan. 4, 8 p.m. – Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3) (ESPN)
You have to like any coach whose name is “Dabo.” And no Michigan fan should be able to like anything labeled “West Virginia” – again because of the previous three seasons.
Allstate BCS National Championship (Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.), Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m. – LSU (13-0) vs. Alabama (11-1) (ESPN)
LSU’s defense is more dynamic than Trent Richardson for the Crimson Tide. Someone will actually score a touchdown, but the real question is whether America will be so “gamed” out by Jan. 9 to care about watching…even on ESPN.
And here is the full schedule for the also-rans:
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (UNM Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.), Dec. 17, 2 p.m. – Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4) (ESPN)
Gildan is some kind of activewear company (that sells the blank shirts/fleece that are used by screenprinters) that I’ve never heard of… blank as in this “who cares” game. El Pinto is a great Mexican restaurant in north Albuquerque and makers of the best green chile salsa and sauce I’ve ever tasted. It should have been the sponsor.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Bronco Stadium, Boise, Id.) Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. – Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5) (ESPN)
Five minutes of watching any game on this blue carpet will send you straight to the ophthalmologist for severe eye damage. If you need a local/state team to boost your attendance, it’s a game that should never be played.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.) Dec. 17, 9 p.m. – Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3) vs. San Diego State (8-4) (ESPN)
Michigan played its first quality overall game versus the Aztecs, heading into Big Ten action. SDSU was better than it showed in Ann Arbor. Louisiana-Lafayette is down Interstate-10 from New Orleans and used to be the Southwestern Louisiana Rajun Cajuns. Press box food ought to be pretty good, though.
Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl (Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.) Dec. 20, 8 p.m. – Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6) (ESPN)
Never heard of Beef O’Bradys, which is a Florida-based eatery chain that looks like any other generic joint of its kind. So does the game, with (again) a state team needed to boost ticket sales. And why is Marshall here? So we can rehash the story of “We Are Marshall?” I’ll pass.
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.) Dec. 21, 8 p.m. – TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4) (ESPN)
My, oh my, how Texas Christian got completely screwed! Louisiana isn’t a quality opponent for the Horned Frogs to care about, and this assignment is a complete disrespecting of the program and its conference. TCU DID beat Boise State, BYU, Wyoming and SDSU, plus Air Force to go 7-0 in winning the Mountain West, and this is its reward? It stinks!
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl (Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nev.) Dec. 22, 8 p.m. – Boise State (11-1) vs. Arizona State (6-6) (ESPN)
And then there’s Boise State penalized to this zero bowl game. If I am Boise, why would I give a flip for such a lousy also-ran as Arizona State, who is spending more time finding a new coach than coaching up its players to getting whipped like rented mules.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hi.) Dec. 24, 8 p.m. – Nevada (7-5) vs. Southern Miss (11-2) (ESPN)
Once again, a conference champion being given the BCS finger. Southern Miss pulled one of Championship Week’s biggest upsets by defeating undefeated Houston and then no respect. At least the Golden Eagles will spend Christmas in Oahu.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.) Dec. 26, 5 p.m. – Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5) (ESPN2)
Of all the places for a bowl game, Shreveport is probably at the bottom of anyone’s list. The stadium got renovated when it was State Fair Park, but it’s still not an inviting place to play. Just ask Texas A&M when the Aggies lost a game held in a full-fledged blizzard. This, however, would be a great basketball matchup. Can they substitute sports?
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.) Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m. – Purdue (6-6) vs. Western Michigan (7-5) (ESPN)
They better giveaway tickets with special orders of cheesy bread and thee-topping pizzas, pickup only. No one is his or her right mind wants to see this game. Thank Goodness Godfather’s Pizza isn’t the sponsor; it could sell tickets, but still suspend the game.
Belk Bowl (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.) Dec. 27, 8 p.m. – North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Louisville (7-5) (ESPN)
Belk is a retailer chain of stores specializing in a Southern lifestyle; Charlotte is a city which likes basketball more than anything. So they had to have NC State bus from Raleigh to sell tickets. Boo!
Military Bowl (presented by Northrup Grumman) (RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.) Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m. – Air Force (7-5) vs. Toledo (8-4) (ESPN)
At least there’s a school actually representing the service academies, as opposed to the Armed Forces Bowl which does not. Aside from Rocket fans, or Air Force personnel, interest doesn’t seem to be high.
Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego) Dec. 28, 8 p.m. – California (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5) (ESPN)
This is a crime on SO many levels. Cal is too average and Texas’ offense is one of the weakest in all of college football. What’s sadder is how this bowl game, which once upon a time decided a national championship, is reduced to this.
Champs Sports Bowl (Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.) Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. – Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4) (ESPN)
This game is more about past reputations than actual on-field performances. The Irish’s only top-flight win was over Michigan State; it was its golden-helmeted heads handed to it by Southern Cal. But FSU is not USC so Notre Dame might escape with a win in the final college game of the country’s best (and poorest utilized) receiver Michael Floyd.
Valero Alamo Bowl (Alamodome, San Antonio, Tex.) Dec. 29, 9 p.m. – Baylor (9-3) vs. Washington (7-5) (ESPN)
Baylor deserves a better showcase for the talents of Robert Griffin III than to play Washington, It used to be a Big Ten representative but the contract got changed. This year, there’s no decent Pac 12 team to match the Bears, who will destroy the Huskies.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Gerald J. Ford Stadium-SMU, Dallas, Tex.) Dec. 30, Noon – BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4) (ESPN)
The SMU campus stadium only holds 36,000 and it will STILL be half-empty for this matchup. That’s a sad prospect.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium, New York City) Dec. 30, 3:20 p.m. – Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6) (ESPN)
What’s next? The Clam Chowder Bowl played in Fenway Park? Or the Billy (Bartman) Goat Bowl in Wrigley Field? So Rutgers had to be imported from Jersey? The ghosts of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard are shaking in their graves (when REAL football was played in Yankee Stadium).
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.) Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m. – Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
Funny, I thought all mortgage companies were in ruins; I know this matchup is in ruins. It really should be against the law to have a game with two teams without above-.500 records. And Michigan fans, whatever happened to the newest charging program in America? Wasn’t Mississippi State the darling of predictors after last year’s Gator Bowl swamping of UM? To quote Rick Perry, “Oops.”
Insight Bowl (Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.) Dec. 30, 10 p.m. – Iowa (7-5) vs. Oklahoma (9-3) (ESPN)
If a team played as poorly as did Oklahoma in its traditional rival game, with the Big 12 title on the line, it deserves to face no-name Iowa. I can’t see how OU even gives a damn about this game; Iowa could pull the upset.
Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl (Reliant Stadium, Houston, Tex.) Dec. 31, Noon – Northwestern (6-6) vs. Texas A&M (6-6)
Amazing what beating Minnesota and Illinois gets you … a trip to Houston (it used to be called The Bluebonnet Bowl) to face the coach-less Texas A&M Aggies – THE single most disappointing football team of 2011. Sadly, the stadium will be stuffed with A&M fans and the 500 Wildcat followers will get lost, mistakenly thinking the game is at The Astrodome next door.
Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso, Tex.) Dec. 31, 2 p.m. – Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5) (CBS)
Another former Big Ten/Pac-12 destination that has lost out. Too bad because the people in El Paso REALLY put on quite a show; one of the best in all America.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tenn.) Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. – Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6) (ABC)
Another former prestigious game reduced to inviting Vanderbilt, whose most memorable win is over hapless Tennessee. Cincinnati will have nothing to gain by beating the Commodores.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (AT&T Park, San Francisco, Cal.) Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. – Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7) (ESPN)
First, neither team has a head coach; both Ron Zook and Rick Neuheisel got fired. Second, UCLA does not have a winning record and should be ineligible. Third, I’d rather see a rematch of the Oakland cops versus Occupy Oakland protesters – it will be more interesting.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. – Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4) (ESPN)
Once upon a time, wasn’t this the Peach Bowl? Good thing it’s being played on a Saturday because all Chick-Fil-As are closed on Sunday…so no overtime in Atlanta. Virginia is a team on the up as Auburn tries to remember what it was like to win.
TicketCity Bowl (Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Tex.) Jan. 2, Noon – Houston (12-1) vs. Penn State (9-3) (ESPNU)
Follow me here: The Cotton Bowl, one of the original Big Four, was downgraded when the Fiesta Bowl bid higher. The Cotton Bowl people wanted a shinier palace to play their game so they accepted the bid from JerryWorld to depart the actual Cotton Bowl and go to Arlington. But the actual Cotton Bowl still needed a game, so it started a new game last year and TicketCity (which has no outlets in Dallas) became the sponsor. This year, poor Houston gets the short straw on little seen ESPNU to play toxic Penn State (for reasons not needed to be said) in a really good pairing. Not sure PSU has enough offense to match UH.
Capital One Bowl (Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.) Jan. 2, 1 p.m. – Nebraska (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2) (ESPN)
This is Tier 1-A from BCS games. This actually is a very good, equal matchup between two name teams, one semi-legendary coach and one semi-traditional program. Nebraska would endear itself as a Big Ten member by actually … winning! Gator Bowl (EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.) Jan. 2, 1 p.m. – Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6) (ESPN2)
Everything about this game is a joke – from the sponsor name to the participants. The fact that Ohio State even received, and then accepted, a bowl bid shows the shame and the sham that is the NCAA … and its rules. If 10 people outside of Columbus and Gainesville watch this game, the TV police should go to their homes and remove their cable/satellite systems.
Outback Bowl (Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.) Jan. 2, 1 p.m. – Michigan State (10-3) vs. Georgia (10-3) (ABC)
Spartan fans can complain all they want, but they had the Big Ten title game won and let it go. Georgia, in turn, threw the scare of a lifetime into the BCS hierarchy by leading LSU 10-0 at half of the SEC championship. Of the sub-BCS level games, this is probably the best matchup (aside from the Cotton Bowl) and the edge should go to Sparty for playing through a more difficult schedule.
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex.) Jan. 6, 8 p.m. – Arkansas (10-2) vs. Kansas State (10-2) (FOX)
For the first time in years, the “new” Cotton Bowl has a better matchup than most of the BCS games. Arkansas was always overrated at number 3 and Kansas State was always underrated when it never entered the top 10. The Wildcats are for real, but the Razorbacks have one of the most fanatic followings. The move to Arlington was made to boost the Cotton Bowl to legitimate BCS standing; I just wish it was still played at the real palace.
BBVA Compass Bowl (Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.) Jan. 7, 1 p.m. – Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. SMU (7-5) (ESPN)
I might be the only one among you who knows one of these coaches. Pitt’s Todd Graham used to coach here at Allen (Tex.) High School just 10 years ago, when I was working for that community paper. Since then, he’s worked for RichRod, and been head coach at Rice, Tulsa (his alma mater) and Pitt … and it wouldn’t surprise me if he bolted before kickoff here for another school. SMU’s inclusion doesn’t mean much, even here in Dallas. So enjoy.
GoDADDY.Com Bowl (Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.) Jan. 8, 9 p.m. – Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Arkansas State (10-2) (ESPN)
Didn’t they play the Senior Bowl here? And why are two conference champions (MAC, Sun Belt) playing in Mobile??? Oh yeah, no real coach at ASU; Hugh Freeze went to Ole Miss Monday.
If fans want to dump this silly system, it can be done by either refusing to watch these games or buying tickets to them. Economics will eventually drive/force the poo-bahs of college football to institute a playoff system, rotating the site of the tournament finals and using a system of game sites (calling them whatever bowls are used) with a wild card play-in match or two like Major League baseball.
It will bring true excitement and interest to college football instead of this pandering, manipulating (ask Coach Peterson at Boise State what HE did to try to fix his team’s chances) and near-bribery from bowl executives.
Meanwhile, enjoy New Orleans Michigan fans!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Twitter world: baking up sweet tweets

This football season, I did something I swore upon the lives of my children I would never do. No, not rooting for Sparty; my kids KNOW how loyal I am to Maize and Blue (hell, I have my 5-year-old granddaughter shouting it out as she practices to be the next star cheerleader).
No, I joined the world of Twitter, but under specific ground rules. I only tweeted during Michigan home games, joining this blog represented in the press box by podcast executive director Brian Kiernicki and podcast host Jeremy Miller, a member of the 1997 U-M national champions.
During the 3-½ hours of air time, it allowed me to share my inner thoughts, and rants at the TV screen, with them and other followers. Last Saturday was no exception, only the game was bigger. It seemed like an eternity; the game ran through two pre-programmed DVR slots into the second afternoon game (between who knows and who-could-care-less).
In truth, not much can be said in 150 characters or less and if you specify the recipient, FAR less can be explained. But I want to expand, in full blogging regalia, some of what I was thinking at the time.
More food for thought: why is ESPN Game Day on site at a game that belongs to CBS?? Why can’t it support one of its own telecasts?
Last Saturday morning, ESPN Game Day plopped itself down in Auburn, Alabama to preview THAT game – a contest to be broadcast on a rival network. For two hours, or more, it was simply a commercial for people to watch that “other” game – not the ABC/ESPN contests at that time slot.
That sounds counter-productive to me. It would have been better if that crew was in Ann Arbor, or Madison, Wisc., or on the USC campus, or anywhere else BUT Auburn. Why give your rival free publicity to steal your potential audience? Or was the thought of more F-bombs from Lee Corso (cursing the memory of the 1980 Indiana-Michigan outcome) too frightening for ABC executives?
Not even five seconds into broadcast and Spielman is already waving his school colors. Why can’t ABC find neutral mouth to put on air?
ESPN is loaded with Buckeye alumni while Desmond Howard is the only Wolverine talking college football on air (and never as a color analyst onsite). There needs to be some balance; people belly-ached when Bob Griese was permitted to call games when his son, Brian, was playing for U-M (although I understood those concerns).
But Spielman seemed to go out of his way to nag and rag on the Michigan coaching decisions. Hey, at 10-2, I guess most of those choices were right, huh?
Too many schools use “nation” for fan following! We’re bigger, better. Make it WOLVERINE WORLD!!!!
There needs to be a statute outlawing making every team’s fan base into “nation.” It’s been beaten to death (let Red Sox fans have it because it was their’s first). I like my name – Wolverine World!!!!!! Encompasses more and is better reflective of the power of Michigan alumni!
From UMGoBlog: "The Buckeyes went after that fumble like it was a voucher for a free tattoo."
My answer: “Cruel, but funny.”
I must say the UM PSA shown during time outs hasn’t changed in 3-4 years. Needs refreshing guys! Spotlight Mott’s hospital.
The 15-second public service clip that is shown whenever Michigan plays on TV – The Michigan Difference – is the exact same one, with the exact same images, for the last THREE years. Perhaps a new series could be produced that spotlights some of the best parts of the university, such as the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital … or the Ford Presidential Library … or the Ross Business School … or many outstanding research programs …
Something please other than the warmed-over visuals than needed some serious updating.
Number 856 for Horns was not expected. Biggest win by team with worst offense EVER! Little McCoy ain’t big brother.
Had someone sat next to me during the Thanksgiving farwell to college football’s third-longest running rivalry, you’d have heard that from my lips. Never has a team with as bad an offense won such a big game. I don’t know how A&M coughed (or choked) up its fifth double-digit lead of the season (out of six losses), but it did. Aggies deserve to leave the conference with its tail between their hindqaurters.
There should be a law that only fans at Fenway can sing “Sweet Caroline.” Otherwise, it’s copycat. Instead sing “Kick out the Jams!"
Why in the world are 110,000 people doing bad Neil Diamond? Can’t someone at least get some classic Motown? Or “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors? Imagine how THAT would sound in the stands?!?!
Shazier pulls a “Suh” ... looks around and asks “Who me???” Yeah, YOU!
OSU freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier got flagged for a personal foul (face masking for ripping Toussaint’s helmet off his head) and, in front of God and the ABC audience, got up and acted as if he was as innocent as a newborn. Palms were raised and face was contorted in that “Who me?” stare. Worst job of salesmanship since Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh tried to ignore his version of “The Bristol Stomp.”
Robinson’s TD pass total, passing Brady ... remember Brady just played 1-½ seasons.
I believe most Michigan fans forget that Tom Brady, who actually matured as a quarterback once he got to the NFL, only played a season and a half for Michigan. He sat behind Scott Driesbach and Brian Griese and became the starter midway in 1998, battling with Drew Henson.
However, nothing can diminish Robinson’s sparkling career numbers (329 completions, eighth all-time; 4,814 yards; eighth all-time; 38 touchdowns, sixth all-time) and his accomplishments having undergone a major change of offensive philosophy after two seasons. With some tweaking (not tweeting), he will be an absolute offensive beast as a senior and one of the odds-on 2012 Heisman Trophy favorites.
Must be said that Ohio State is playing more on pride than actual talent. Its O-line has been equal to UM defense since 1Q.
I tweeted that the Buckeye front line was falling apart quicker than the façade given by Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky. After all, the Bucks DID have several top-flight recruiting classes and there WAS lots of talent on the field, dressed in Scarlet and Gray.
And despite one’s animosity towards that program, it must come with lots of respect. After all, OSU did won the last seven meetings, did win a bunch of conference championships and felt the same way about Michigan as the Wolverines felt about them. Those kids weren’t going down without a fight.
Hey, ABC!!! STOP TALKING ABOUT URBAN MEYER ALREADY! That was only the umpteenth time! Enough already!
I swear to God, the ABC on-air crew could not stop itself from bringing up Meyer’s name and no-show presence throughout the broadcast. It felt like “Coach” “Urban” “Meyer” was inserted into every third sentence.
Of course, after he basically LIED the week before about having no interest in the job or no contact about it, no one should be shocked that before the sun rose Monday in Columbus, he had agreed to be the new head coach at Ohio State. It was the worst-kept secret in America.
That said, the new sheriff in town resides in Ann Arbor and the word needs to be sent to all corners of the Big Ten, including East Lansing (the next streak to be ended) and Madison. The road to the Big Ten title not only runs through Ann Arbor, it will stay there for the next few years to come. Meyer going to Columbus will NOT change that!
That took longer than the entire Journey Greatest Hits album.
Since I am basic old school, the thought of classic rock tunes blaring over the Michigan Stadium public address system, during timeouts or play reviews, is unsettling. Why? And when to heard almost the entire version of “Don’t Stop Believing” during the Toussaint touchdown review (yes, his knee hit before the ball crossed the goal line) means the referee was taking too much time.
It should be like Final Jeopardy; play 60 seconds of that ditty and let’s have your answer!
In this rivalry, that spiking the ball on 3rd down will be the same as Chris Webber’s TO call vs. UNC in NCAA hoops final. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!
There have been iconic moments in this rivalry – Woody ripping apart the first down markers at the end of the 1971 contest comes to my mind. Everyone has their own special moment.
Ohio State fans will have to ask themselves and their team what happened in the final minute when the Buckeyes had the ball, and a chance to WIN the contest. After a short second-down completion, and the clock ticking under 60 seconds, quarterback Braxton Miller went to the line of scrimmage (on THIRD down) and spiked the ball into the ground, stopping the clock.
Why did he waste that play, leaving him only one more chance to get a drive-sustaining first down? Who made that call? An untrained freshman? An unproven coach (who looked pissed but not shocked that it happened)? It appeared as if a two-minute drill was foreign to the OSU offense, so who was to blame?
Those are the kind of gaffes that will keep the best of Buckeye fans warm on Columbus sports radio talk shows throughout the winter – warm from inner anger that U-M fans have felt for the last seven years. Those same fans should remember that it took a SECOND coaching change to remedy Michigan’s woes.
Finally a tweet from the Nebraska game one week earlier where I asked whether a team that cannot win its conference, or its own conference DIVISION, should be allowed to play for the BCS National Championship.
Sorry to disappoint all those Roll Tide backs, but you get ONE shot at the apple … er … crystal; two chances is one too many. In this season where only one school has stood above all others (LSU – a legitimate number 1), to have a post-season rematch is cheating the fans.
The first LSU-Alabama affair was so tight of a defensive battle, it was impossible to squirt liquid through the respective water bottles. Tension is one thing but, for most of the contest, it was not compelling. Kicking field goals does not make for good television (which is the lone purpose of holding the BCS game).
So Oregon, you’re out. Alabama, you’re out. Anyone already on LSU’s schedule is out! USC, you’re not eligible. Big Ten title winner, you’re just not good enough this season.
Oklahoma State, you might have a puncher’s chance if you beat OU in “Bedlam.” That offense versus LSU’s defense would be quite entertaining.
Of course, if Georgia throws the monkey wrench of all monkey wrenches and beats LSU in the SEC title game, then throwing darts at a board might be the only solution to the final pairing. Personally, I root for chaos!
I shall put the Twitter account away until the next home game, or if I can secure tickets for the Alabama affair in Arlington, Texas come September. But I’ll bring my son because he can actually type on those ridiculously small smart phone keypads.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Michigan-Ohio State: Magic number is now 1

In Times Square stands one of the most photographed sites in America; sadly it’s not what you think, instead it’s the U.S. Deficit Clock with its running total of debt. It’s a constant reminder of our past economic decisions and future choices to be made.
A different running clock has plagued Michigan football – its program and its fans with the number 2,926 – the number of days since U-M defeated its bitterest, and most hated, rival – Ohio State. Instead of the furious pace at which the deficit grows, the U-M clock of bitter misery moved at a snail’s pace … day by day by day.
Until Saturday. After seven YEARS of complete frustration, and two coaching changes, the clock had moved into positive territory. Ding! Dong! The Vest (and all its surrogates) is dead! When the stadium clock ran to 0:00, the new magic number became ONE! Michigan 40, Ohio State 34!
Unless that last three years where Michigan was an offensive flat tire, the Wolverines outgained OSU 444-373 and controlled play for 10 minutes more than the Bucks. U-M scored more points in the first three quarters against Brutus Buckeye than in the entire Rich “Mr. Offensive Genius” Rodriguez era.
However, if truth be told, the ashes of his spread offense certainly served the Wolverines well Saturday as Denard Robinson continued to burn the Buckeye defense on the spread option and halfback Fitzgerald Toussaint avoided the interior of the Ohio defensive line to gain his yards by angling to daylight.
With their rushing performances Saturday, Robinson (26 carries for 170 yards, two touchdowns) and Toussaint (20 carries for 120 yards) each sprinted past the 1,000-yard mark on the season (with one all-but-certain BCS bowl game to play … perhaps the Sugar in New Orleans?)
Michigan now has its most dangerous 1-2 running combination in decades, surely since the 1975 duo of Gordon Bell (1,388) and Rob Lytle (1,030) – the last two U-M backs with more than 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. And that was a 10-game season and included the 21-14 loss at home to the Archie and Ray Griffin-led Buckeyes.
Michigan moves to 10-2 on the season and has been on the lips and minds of all analysts trying to matchup opponents for BCS bowl. For this program to have gone from a defensive embarrassment to a BCS team has nothing short of amazing. It is the exclamation point on a campaign to name Brady Hoke as Coach of the Year (sorry, LSU fans).
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison should be named Assistant Coach of the Year for converting a bottom-feeding defense into one of the 2-3 best in the Big 10. It cannot be repeated enough; the defensive reversal was done essentially with last year’s personnel. Yes, Virginia, miracles DO happen!
Still, Michigan should never have had to sweat the outcome; it was a much better team entering the game and after the first quarter, should have been blowing out the Buckeyes. But mistakes and missed opportunities permitted the upstart visitors to hang around – a dangerous proposition for any proud, determined program. Say what you will about its rules violations, coaching ethics and its future, but Ohio State wants more than anything in this world to beat Michigan. Period! Hell, it awards a special (and exchangeable) award for achieving that outcome.
And the roster DOES have a decent amount of talent, led by a heralded freshman quarterback in Braxton Miller, from Huber Heights, Ohio. His initiation into big time college football has been somewhat rough, but the talent is there!
Miller played better than my expectations and much better than most Wolverine fans believed before kickoff. Although not exactly fair, in comparison to the man who SHOULD have been there (but got, to quote Mick Jagger “tattoo you” out of there), Miller resembles Terrell Pryor in some ways.
He is a strong, elusive runner and difficult to tackle. He possesses a strong, but highly inaccurate, arm and totally lacks touch on the short routes. However, that can be coached into the young man, provided he stays away from certain parts of Columbus and grows an allergy to ink.
He ran (literally away from the front four pressure) for 100 yards on 16 carries and completed 14 passes in 25 attempts for 253 yards and two touchdowns. By all standards, that was a performance worthy of a victory.
Still, the Buckeyes were fairly one-dimensional in the game and had it NOT been for two huge mistakes – the missed center snap by punter Will Hagerup and a turnover inside the UM 31 – Ohio State would NOT have been in the game as much as it was. And the disastrous double-penalty at the Ohio State 1 almost cost U-M the game. The eventual six-point margin still allowed OSU the opportunity to win the game, since the flags and subsequent field goal didn’t provide the needed two-score margin Michigan sought.
Miller played a heck of a game, BUT … it might not be his legacy from Saturday. The spiking of the ball on a crucial third down play, with time running away, was as dumb a move as I’ve seen in years. I do liken it to Chris Webber ill-timed timeout in the NCAA Finals against North Carolina, which has dogged him for years (even to the point of defining him as a player, which is unfair). Unless Luke Fickell accepts responsibility for the call, even if he didn’t ask for it from the sidelines, it will be a play shown over and over and over … on every highlight reel this weekend and for weeks to come.
The difference Saturday was Michigan’s ability to get up off the mat when knocked down – not once, not twice but a third time. When OSU took a 17-16 lead, Robinson marched his teammates on the next possession for a score.
Trailing at halftime, Robinson again was the conductor of this train, throwing an absolute dart between defenders to senior Martavious Odoms for a 20-yard touchdown and the lead U-M would not relinquish.
The emergence of Odoms is a welcome sight because of his speed and ability to run precise routes. He might be as strong as Junior Hemingway or Roy Roundtree, but he’s more of a threat at times … and Robinson has plenty of confidence in him.
Robinson also utilized his senior tight end Kevin Koger smartly throughout; two key completions included a 4-yard touchdown pass.
The game ended exactly how a close Michigan-Ohio State game should – an interception at midfield by a Wolverine defensive back (i.e., Thom Darden’s pick that set off fireworks within Woody Hayes in 1971). This afternoon, it was a diving Courtney Avery who sealed the deal and lit the fuse on the frenzied crowd of 114,132 – second-largest in history (only the night game against Notre Dame had more eyes in person).
At 10-2, Michigan is back in the talk when it comes to college football’s top-flight programs. It should make recruiting easier and richer, even if OSU hires Urban Meyer as its head coach. Meyer will become to man with something to prove because Michigan, and Hoke, already have made that statement loud and clear.
For Ohio State, its clock now reads “1.” It has 364 days to wait… tick, tock.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My new hero

My new hero is Rice University professor, and noted historian, Dr. Douglas Brinkley, who stood up to the rudest kind of behavior and attitude in Congress during a relatively minor hearing on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When he was disrespected by Alaska Republican Don Young (one of those entrenched Congressmen the Tea Party hates in theory, but supports in practice), Brinkley didn’t bat an eye:
It starts when Young called Brinkley “Dr. Rice.” (whether it was a mistake remains to be seen)…
“It’s Dr. Brinkley, Rice University is a university,” Brinkley responded. “I know you went to Yuba (Community) College … ”
An angry Young then said, “I’ll call you anything I want to call you when you in that chair. You just be quiet.”
Brinkley didn’t bat an eye.
“You don’t own me,” he said. “I pay your salary. I work for the private sector and you work for the taxpayer.”
At that moment, Committee Chairman Doc Hasting (R-Wash.) broke up the heated argument.
Brinkley, a history professor at Rice (one of the nation’s most prestigious schools), wrote "The Quiet World," about protecting the Alaskan wilderness. He also penned a guest column for The New York Times seeking to protect the land surrounding Arizona's Grand Canyon.
Go to the 31-minute mark to see the exchange.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The game of the century – this year’s version

Earlier this month, LSU and Alabama (two teams with Michigan connections) squared off in Tuscaloosa for the Game of the Century – v.2012. It was somewhat of a snoozer, though, a 9-6 overtime contest between the two top-ranked programs in the nation (LSU emerging on top).
It had drawn comparisons to the 21st century’s initial GAME OF THE CENTURY just five years ago when Michigan played Ohio State, in Columbus, with the same rankings placed one each squad.
But ... that is where the comparisons cease; the games were NOT comparable in meaning, purpose and emotion. It wasn’t the game of the century, decade, year or even game of the week. It was too over-hyped by the folks at CBS and SEC and didn’t come close to the affair that REALLY assumed that mantle five years before.
The date was Nov. 18, 2006 and the buildup was enormous. The Buckeyes were ranked slightly ahead of the Wolverines in the polls (and BCS rankings), both at 11-0 and the game would have double meaning attached to it. The winner would earn the Big Ten championship outright and have a slot in the BCS National Championship contest, set for Glendale, Ariz.
It was a nationally-televised affair showcasing the schools involved in the bitterest rivalry in all of college football. For the first time in this battle, each school held the top two spots in the sport.
The sports nation knows that legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler died from a heart attack the day before the contest, and cast a pall over the entire affair. The man who engineered the greatest upset in collegiate football (the 24-12 victory in 1969) was as much a part of the rivalry as any human could be. His “10-Year War” with Woody Hayes became the stuff of legends – mythical in the stories retold for the next three generations.
Many fans spent the run-up to kickoff with tears in their eyes. Even the Columbus faithful were touched; stores displaying messages such as “We Miss Bo,” or “Bless you Bo.” He was honored with a video tribute on the Ohio Stadium jumbotron, which drew a prolonged standing ovation. The Ohio State Band formed the word “BO” to start a moment of silence (after all, Schembechler WAS an Ohio State assistant under Hayes).
But it wasn’t the only tragedy ... another member of the Michigan football family had died earlier in the week. Dr. Tom Slade Jr. lost his battle with leukemia the Sunday before “The Game,” at the far-too-young age of 54. His death ended a relationship with the U-M program beginning in 1970.
The world lost more than an outstanding dentist; some of us lost a long-forgotten friend from old days in Ann Arbor.
Tom Slade, a square-jawed, tough-as-nail competitor with a million dollar smile BEFORE he officially became a dentist, was born in Manotick, Mich., but raised in Saginaw after he had been adopted. He was an All-State quarterback for Saginaw High School, and also played basketball and tennis.
As a 1970 high school graduate, he was one of the first quarterbacks recruiting by Schembechler, along with Larry Cipa, and the pair battled for the starting position throughout the 1971 season (when they first became eligible to play varsity football).
Although they shared playing time for the first half of the season, Slade eventually garnered the full-time starter’s role and led Michigan to an 11-0 regular season mark. Neither the swiftest of runners, nor the strongest of passers (Cipa was acknowledged to  have had the better arm), it was Slade’s leadership ability, and the guts to use himself as a lead blocker for tailbacks like Billy Taylor that impressed Bo the most.
In the 1972 Rose Bowl, Slade came within 19 seconds of completing that perfect season, and possible national championship. However, Stanford, led by QB Don Bunce, upset the apple cart.
After the two teams exchanged field goals in the first three quarters, Michigan took a 10-3 lead on a 1-yard plunge by Fritz Seyferth in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but with 6:29 to play, Indian halfback Jackie Brown tied the contest on a 24-yard run (after his 33-yard run on a fake punt).
Side note: Stanford was still known as the “Indians” back in the day before going all politically correct and changing to Cardinals (then  singular Cardinal) the next season. The 1972 Rose Bowl was the last game by which Stanford employed that Native American mascot moniker.
Late in the game, Michigan pounced on a Stanford fumble close to midfield, but was unable to drive inside the 20. So Dana Coin attempted a 42-yard field goal, which was short. However, Stanford safety Jim Ferguson tried to run the ball out of the end zone, only to be slammed to the turf by Michigan fullback Ed Shuttlesworth for a two-point safety.
With three minutes to play, and the ball following the free kick, things were coming up “roses” for the Wolverines. But the Indian defense stiffened and forced a three-and-out by Michigan. With 108 seconds to play, Stanford started at its own 22, on its fateful scoring march.
Bunch (who had been Jim Plunkett’s backup one year before when Stanford beat Ohio State in the 1971 Rose Bowl) connected on five consecutive completions down to the U-M 17, with 22 ticks left. After two plays, little Rod Garcia would begin a “tradition” of undersized kickers beating Michigan with last-second field goals – this one from 31 yards out with 12 seconds to play, and the 13-12 upset over the Wolverines.
Bunce was named the game’s MVP but only played pro ball for one season in Canada. He eventually became an orthopedic surgeon and served as the Cardinal team physician for a decade. Slade also served as Eastern Michigan University’s athletic team dentist from 1984-2006.
Slade lost his starting job in 1972-73 to Dennis Franklin and turned his thoughts to his post-athletic career. After his undergraduate work, Slade attended the U-M School of Dentistry, earning his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1978. He remained there for three years as a teacher before setting up a private practice in Ypsilanti Township for the next 24 years when his illness forced his retirement.
And one of his best clients was ... Bo Schembechler.
Slade never left athletics during his business career. He served as a Michigan High School Athletic Association official for basketball, working several state finals contests, and was a Big Ten and Mid-American Conference official for women’s basketball.
He was a member of the Ypsilanti Area Chamber of Commerce and served three terms as president of the EMU Baseball Dugout Club.
If all that wasn’t enough, he was in the press box every Saturday as a color analyst for U-M broadcasts over WUOM-fm, the campus’ official station.
In 2004, Slade was inducted into the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame – an honor of great pride to him.
But just a year later, in 2005, Slade was struck down with leukemia, In June, 2006, many former teammates, including fellow Saginaw native Calvin O’Neal, an All-American linebacker at Michigan, organized the Tom Slade Marrow Donor Registration Drive to assist in finding matching donor for Slade and other leukemia victims. The once-vibrant Slade could no longer participate in those outdoor activities he cherished – golf, running, camping.
“You do everything, live every day the fullest. Today could be the last day of your life.” He told WJRT-tv reporter Terry Camp in June of 2006.
Slade’s former coach never forgot him up to the final days. Bo would send weekly notes and messages and frequently visited the ailing Slade in the hospital.
“During a particularly difficult day in the hospital, Slade woke up to see his former coach sitting in a chair against the wall,” wrote U-M athletics historian John U. Bacon in the Detroit News following Schembechler’s death. “They looked at each other, but said nothing, and Slade fell back to sleep. When he awoke again five hours later, Bo was sitting in the same chair, looking right at him.”
According to all reports, Schembechler, ailing as he was, attended Slade’s funeral the Thursday before the 2006 Michigan-Ohio State game and followed that up with one of his traditions – a pep speech to the Wolverine team that night.
As written in the Detroit News, “Bo’s speech was not about Ohio State, the Big Ten title or a national championship. The whole speech was about Tom Slade and how, if the players worked hard, listened to their coaches and stuck together as teammates, one day they might be as good a Michigan man as Slade. That was the goal at Michigan, not national championships.”
A little more than 12 hours later, Schembechler collapsed at the set of his weekly television show in Detroit and died, of heart failure at the age of 77.
At the time of his passing, Tom Slade was married to Pam St. John, a former U-M cheerleader, and was survived by his two sons, Andrew and Spencer, from a previous marriage.
As the world knows, Ohio State won the 2006 game, 42-39, viewed by almost 22 million fans – the largest TV audience for a regular season college football game in13 years. At the time, it set an attendance record for Ohio Stadium at 105,708 (since broken twice against Penn State and Southern Cal).
Some might challenge the superiority of all SEC schools to the Big Ten and those two representatives in 2006, pointing to what happened after “The Game.” Ohio State did lose 41-14 to Florida in the BCS Title Game while Michigan fell 32-18 to USC in the Rose Bowl.
Could it have been a case of each team having spent all its emotional capital on the field in Columbus? Perhaps; it wasn’t a question of talent. Some 40 players on each roster for the 2006 “Game” were drafted by teams in the NFL (not counting others who were free agent signees).
And there was this post-script, just 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 2006 clash – the winning numbers that night, in the Ohio Lottery PICK 4 were ... 4-2-3-9! Each person holding those winning numbers received $5,000 (a total of $2.2 million was paid out).
It WAS a special night!