Not Saying Goodbye, Just Saying

If you’ve noticed the prolonged absence of yours truly and the paucity of work put into this blog lately, well, yeah, I hear you, and there’s a good reason for that. I had been knee-deep in the job hunting and search process, because it was just time to consider a move — not because I loathed my job or anyone I worked with; that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Well, I was successful, and in about five weeks, I’m moving to Portland to start a new gig and a new part of my life. The problem is that, for various reasons, this blog, and any other I’ve contributed to, can’t be a part of it right now.  The legal no man’s land of working in media dictates that, and I’d rather not do this than consider if anything (or everything) I write would endanger it. Plus, I’ve never made any money off this blog, and what I made as a contributor to others was not a massive part of my income. It will likely be unnecessary with the move to a larger market with a lower cost of living. (California rent and taxes eat like a Labrador retriever.)

closedsign

So, until further notice, I’m closing up shop, without any complaints or particular regrets outside of writing more and writing better pieces. It’s been nothing short of a fun and rewarding experience, interacting with the commentariat, writing for other folks at Awful Announcing, Sports By Brooks, and Conquest Chronicles, and this forum and platform have introduced me to friends whom I’m thankful to have as part of my life, no matter how big or small y’all actually are.

I’ll still probably be around, lurking and commenting on blogs and Twitter appears to be a serious addiction.  It seems like a rather opportune time to jump out, because to be honest, the fun had started to drain right out of the entire matter.  When that sort of thing starts riding around and you’re tired of trolling sites for the latest blow-up to make a point about, but don’t have the time to really put into a piece that you feel is more important, it’s time to re-evaluate the motivation.  The pleasure of writing on a fun subject became less fun as I considered whether it was unique enough for someone to care to read or whether it was truly “good” enough to be farmed out to the Big Boys for linking purposes (I do mean it when I say thank you for anyone who has ever linked back to me, whether I sent something to you or not.)

The community is great and I’ll still be a part of it, just not an active, writing part. I’m content with that. So, thank you, to every one of you who read, linked, e-mailed, or chatted with me in some fashion over the past two years.

(Note: if I ever do start up again, it won’t be on WordPress. I’ve soured on this since the redesign here.)

The Dream Is A Bit Stronger

The speech itself is always worth watching; it is a wonderful bit of oratory, and maybe it is somehow fitting (although I would never try to draw too much into it) that Barack Obama will be sworn in tomorrow, and hopefully, we will begin to get past, but never forget, the awful things done in our name by the second Bush Administration.

It’s disingenuous to claim that America is even remotely post-racial because of the man’s election, but we cannot kid ourselves by saying it isn’t significant and important. This may be the most attention lavished on a presidential inauguration that I’ve witnessed personally — maybe because this is the first one where the Internet was truly at its full force — but it has so much to do with the image of President Obama.

Consider this: currently playing on my TV screen, in HD, is a TNT montage of NBA players, talking about how personal the election of Obama is for them and their families, to see someone who looks like them, who looks like America and its changing face, leading it, for even four years.

Of course, the question is what President Obama will do to live up to the promises he made, to drag us out of the state of affairs the country finds itself in. Whether he will be successful is left to us to judge.  For right now, we can enjoy the symbolism, and the hope.\

obamabw

On Private And Public Behavior

edpodolak

Over the weekend I posted an item at Awful Announcing regarding photos of Iowa Hawkeye football color commentator Ed Podolak surfacing from an Iowa State message board and being publicized via the Wiz of Odds last week. The photos showed Podolak drinking, looking down a woman’s shirt, etc., while in Tampa for the Outback Bowl and are fairly tame as far as photos of folks taken at bars go. I didn’t post one of the photos, mostly based on personal choice*, but I still thought it was a story.

Now, apparently Podolak decided to retire (or, if you believe, got urged to leave) as a commentator after Iowa AD Gary Barta expressed a rather downbeat tone about the whole matter, and it has spawned some spite towards the Wiz of Odds: Black Heart Gold Pants called editor Jay Christensen an assbag, Brian Cook called it “complete bullcrap” in the tags, and I can’t blame them for doing so. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction by Barta, but I’m not going to hold Christensen at fault for this — and if you think I’m completely, utterly wrong on this, don’t hesitate to tell me. I’m more than willing to change my mind.

As a publicly recognizable figure, both as a media figure and former pro athlete, Podolak has to know better.  I work with people who are on television. I am fortunate to call many of them friends and drinking buddies. They are recognizable faces in the community.  By no means are they shut-ins, but they know that they have to comport themselves in a certain way when they go out on the town. It’s a double standard, it’s not fair, but that is kind of implicitly agreed to when you sign a contract to be a media representative of a university, by extension (even though Podolak was hired through another company, technically.)

In Podolak’s case, this incident came after he got arrested for public intoxication previously with a .23 BAC a few years back in Iowa City. I don’t think it would have come to “resigning” had this been a first-time incident.  I hesitate to say Gary Barta has any real right to determine what Podolak can and cannot do with his off hours, but ultimately, media figures give up certain things when they sign on the dotted line — even in cases where the goalposts have moved. Iowa officials in 1997 said “charges” were necessary to trigger suspension or firing. Drunken photos aren’t that, and Barta is apparently tougher on broadcasters than he is on the players in his revenue programs, which doesn’t look particularly good either — especially when another writer at the FanHouse is noting that Podolak’s bar times were not exactly a secret. It seems selective by Barta rather than any sort of principled stance.

(*The reason I didn’t post one of the pictures is because the woman wasn’t identified and it was a little more sensitive in nature. This may be my personal brand of journalism ethics training kicking in. I have no compunction about grabbing images via Google with randoms [mostly people with athletes at charity events or signing autographs, etc., just for photos for live blogs], but this was a bit different in my mind.)

No More Dauphins, Please

AP/Michael Conroy

Photo: AP/Michael Conroy

I don’t necessarily mean to tear apart either Jim Caldwell or Jim Mora the Younger on their ascensions to head coach status with the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks, respectively, in order to replace Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren. Whether they are the right choices for their franchises will be borne out next season.

What I’m going to angle at again is that succession plans, as far as head coaching goes, and never mind the sport, are shit. More often than not, when a coach leaves, even voluntarily, there are fundamental aspects that need to change in the operation of the product on the field that aren’t meant to be kept. You can see this by the sheer fact that Mora is getting rid of coaches and bringing in new guys, but this happens after an underachieving season.

The question is: does ensuring continuity paper over bigger problems? Entirely possible. Let’s use Mora first: he was the secondary coach and assistant head coach last season, one in which the Seahawks secondary wasn’t all that great (although everyone on that damn team was hurt.) This is just a mild example.  As for the Colts, this isn’t Caldwell-specific, but it’s troubling — the defense bled just enough again to keep them from advancing. What, or whom, does Caldwell bring to the table to fix this?  Should Jim Irsay and Bill Polian have looked around at the multitudes in the head coaching market to see if they had the right approach to address this problem?

Only time will tell whether the dauphin approach truly works, but on its face, it seems like it’s asking for more turbulence rather than real continuity.

(When I’d previously tackled the “coach-in-waiting” thing, it had to do with colleges and the minority coaches issue. It doesn’t apply here: an exemption in the Rooney Rule allows assistants to be promoted to head coach if it is written into their contracts.)

Home Is Where The Upset Is

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

Eagles 23, Giants 11 - It seems rather odd to me that Eli Manning has been playing in the Meadowlands for his career and yet has trouble throwing in the winds. I thought the addition of Brandon Jacobs for the Giants would turn the tide in their favor this week, but Donovan McNabb’s velocity on his passes cut thtrough when Eli’s fell weak, making the big difference after both defenses generally took the right approach to stopping the running games.  Philly’s defense fared better, stopping New York from ever reaching the end zone. Five trips to the red zone resulted in no touchdowns.  If you’re a Giants fan and the play-calling on 3rd and 4th downs made you want to pull a Buddy Ryan on Kevin Gilbride, I understand. It’s like Andy Reid transferred his crappy play-calling essence across the stadium today.

With no rooting interest left, I’m going to go with Donny Mac: despite all the times Philly has tried to run him out, I want him to win a title — because it will shut them up for the rest of his career.

Steelers 35, Chargers 24 – Final score not completely indicative of the beatdown handed out by the Pittsburgh D upon Philip Rivers. The Bolts offens never really go right after that first quick touchdown drive, and while Ben Roethlisberger completed some great throws and had the opportunity for others, Wilie Parker was the star of the game offesnively, darting in and out of the SD front seven during the entire game.  There was nothing as satisfying as watching Rivers get pounded by Lamar Woodley and Brett Kiesel.

Ravens 13, Titans 10 – Bad delay of game call late obviously, but I have a dirty suspicion that Blatimore would have converted a 3rd and 7 just as well as a 3rd and 2 at that point, because the Titans’ offense shot itself in the foot too many times with turnovers to give the D any encouragement. While Joe Flacco got some deep balls going, we’d advise holding off on the fellating. Those deep throws obscured some rather pedestrian stats and he’s not very good with the short to intermediate passing game. At this point, he’s a younger Dilfer, and Baltimore lost Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington in the War of Attrition. I saw seven guys fall thanks to injury in the second half alone.

Cardinals 33, Panthers 13 – Not quite sure what compelled John Fox to empower Jake Delhomme to throw into double and triple coverage rather than just completing handoffs — the Arizona defense helped, but that can’t be all of it — and it resulted in six turnovers for Delhomme, who telegraphed passes, threw to Steve Smith in triple coverage, and looked like he did for much of the 2007 season prior to going down for the season. That’s probably the last game he’ll play in a Carolina uniform.  Delhomme wasn’t the sole problem: not doulbe covering Larry Fitzgerald the entire game seems like the error of a first-time head coach, no someone like Fox, who ought to be on thin ice next season.

A Hobo Disciple To Replace The Rat Fink

AP/Stephan Saviola

AP/Stephan Saviola

I’m not sure it’s necessarily fair to tar Josh McDaniels with the brush of the failures of Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, or Charlie Weis.  Crennel and Mangini were defensive people, and so is Bill Belichick by training, thus, it’s easy to wonder how much control they had over their side of the ball. Weis’ trouble is that his arrogance didn’t work well with a college program — along with his poor play calling and planning.

But let’s just say that hiring McDaniels to run the show and bringing in Dom Capers to run the defense doesn’t really strike this Broncos fan as the best of ideas.  Capers is a very good coordinator, but I was a supporter of trying to get Rex Ryan in for an interview. Someone has to make the defensive side of the ball shape up again.  Then again, the only defensive minded coach the franchise ever hired was Wade Phillips, and look how that turned out.

Any choice Bowlen made wasn’t going to be better as a coach than Mike Shanahan. I think I and every other Broncos fan had accepted that. However, since Shanahan was so responsible for personnel, the failure on the defensive end was so much more connected to hiim because he drafted and signed those guys.

McDaniels is a blank slate. We don’t know what he’ll do with a team. What will be more important is to evaluate that hire in combination with the GM and other personnel folk that Bowlen brings in to work with him.

Chomp

AP/Chris O'Meara

AP/Chris O'Meara

Florida 24, Oklahoma 14Well, I wasn’t too far off, a touchdown a piece. Not bad.

We come not to bury Tim Tebow; we do have some praise for him, and he had a very good second half after a bland first half with two picks. The reason the “Greatest QB EVAH!” (according to just about every damn commentator Fox and ESPN can muster) was even able to overcome his early mistakes was because Charlie Strong and his defense put an absolute lock down on the Oklahoma no-huddle offense, forcing them to slow down, call time outs they normally don’t, and did what not even TCU could do: hold them under 20 points by tightening up when the Sooners got into the maroon (I can’t believe I borrowed that from Easterbrook) and red zones, including an early 4th down stop that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Sam Bradford could only finish a couple drives to Jermaine Gresham, not looking anywhere near the form that earned him a Hesiman Trophy, because he was rushed and his receivers covered fairly well most of the night. It was a slog ‘em out where Florida, for the most part, when it scored, did what I thought it would do:  get the ball moving down the field, keeping it out of the hands of that offense, and the Gators would hamstring themselves with some dumb, cheap false start penalties, too.

Let’s be clear: Tebow is not the most dominant or best player ever in college football, no matter what Crazy Uncles Verne and Gary, various Four-Letter talking heads, and Thom Brennaman tell you*. This is the first national championship that is all his own as a leader; he was an important cog in 2006-2007.  This wasn’t dominance on the level of Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl; that’s still the gold standard when we think of pure, unvarnished football domination by one player in the modern era, and rightfully so.  But to give Tebow his due without slurping, I’ll say this: that Gator team feeds off his energy and his presence. This is visible.  There are a lot of great athletes on that team, and they all deserve credit — Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Anthony Hernandez, the Pouncey twins, Brandon Spikes, Jeff Haden, Jarious Jenkins, et al.  — but Tebow’s virtue is that he’s really good at being the leader of the team along with being a great athlete at the collegiate level. No more, no less.

(*Brennaman’s aural fellatio was particularly obnoxious, and thankfully captured by the Big Lead: “In such a cynical, sarcastic society, oftentimes looking for the negative on anybody or anything, if you’re fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.”

Go back to the Big Ten network, take Charles Davis with you, and never come back after next year. ESPN’s rights to the BCS cannot come soon enough, not only for these hacks but the studio guys [die in a fire, Chris Rose] and all their other impromptu announcing teams, including Zombie Pat Summerall.  Fire your entire truck and graphics crew while you’re at it.  An idiotic number of band shots and an inability to break down what defenses were doing are the death of television football broadcasts, and Fox is not helping, on either the pro or collegiate levels.)

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