The Shock Doctrine, In Practice

bobcorker

Putting the brakes on the auto industry bailout package of $14 billion dollars (which was designed to last until March or April, when Chrysler and GM could come back with better, more formative ideas of future strategies) has absolutely nothing to do with pricipled ideals about capitalism and the free market for Senate Republicans. If that had been the case, the previous $700 billion financial market rescue would have been filibustered and held up infinitely — and Henry Paulson would not be moving the goal posts on how the money is supposed to be used every couple of weeks.

It has nothing to do with waiting for better strategies and plans from those companies, either. If it had been, they would have asked for a clearer explanation from Paulson, the Fed and banks on not hoarding the credit, as they are doing right now.

This is about busting the United Auto Workers union, pure and simple. It’s Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine on display: use an emergency situation to force radical, unrelated changes in policy that you had wanted all along.   Please note the plan of one Tennessee senator named Bob Corker yes, the same hick fuck who race-baited former Representative Harold Ford, Jr. in order to win his Senate seat — that the G.O.P. proceeded to line itself up behind:

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Just Another Symptom

musandmack

I don’t particularly like writing posts like these, because just like any fan who has a team, yet has a liberated ideal about college football outside of that immediate fandom, I like Will Muschamp. He’s intense, seems to get the best out of guys who play for his defense, and has deserved a head coaching gig for a while now.  While his current work with Texas isn’t the most impressive in terms of keeping points off the board, the important part is that Texas leads the Big 12 in scoring defense by creating turnovers. This makes the difference in a confernce loaded with very good offensive talent.

Well, Muschamp is going to get his head coaching gig at Texas — eventually — because the Longhorns’ athletic department has decided to make Boom Motherfucker himself the heir to Mack Brown, designating him head coach-in-waiting.

Muschamp is merely the latest in a trend: the most prominent name in this ilk is Florida State O-coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who’s been promised the head gig when Bobby Bowden either retires or keels over, followed by Kentucky OC Joker Phillips in the same position with Rich Brooks (it also exists at Purdue, but I can’t recall the guy replacing Joe Tiller next season.)  Hell, it isn’t even reserved for the NCAA — Jim Mora the Younger is set to replace Mike Holmgren with the Seahawks next year.

In Austin, this is considered a move to keep continuity in the program, which is true, and desirable from a program’s standpoint. Brown had his own comments on the practice:

Brown said he thinks it’s part of a new trend. “Looking across the country, I think we will see more of this, especially in programs that are working well,” Brown said.

I hope not.

Programs that are working well bleed into their own complacency sometimes.  Besides, shouldn’t a succession plan at least open itself up to a few other qualified people first? Like, y’know, maybe someone from outside the organization? This is a purely insular move — partially to keep a valued coordinator — but it has repercussions for sports and the coaching ranks.

I don’t have anything against Muschamp or Brown, and I think it’s a smart move for the program on that level. But given the recent report (PDF file) from Dr. Richard Lapchick and The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport amid an environment in which only 8 out of 119 NCAA I-A head football coaches are minorities (and that will be down to 6 next season, after Ty Willingham and Ron Prince finish up their lame duck status), any pre-ordainiment and assignment of a “head coach in waiting” is another door closed pre-emptively, and I don’t care how many times you bring up Joker Phillips being a black man. There is a good ol’ boy network in coaching, and it needs to be blown right the fuck up, no matter how deserving or worthy the heir is. Head coaches in waiting are extensions and an attempt to preserve that network.

“While the percentages are slightly better, the general picture is still one of white men running college sport,” said Richard Lapchick, the report’s co-author. “Overall, the numbers simply do not reflect the diversity of our student-athletes. Moreover, they do not reflect the diversity of our nation where we have elected an African-American as President for the first time.”

The report also looked at university leadership, including presidents and athletic directors. Ninety-one percent are white. Minority representation in all positions increased less than 1 percent last year.

Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion, said she was disappointed in the figures, particularly considering the election.

“This moment on Tuesday reflected the best of our country,” Westerhaus said. “Our country showed the will and the way. We have to do the same.”

It’s been about a week since the report was released, and it generally disappeared right into the ether, with barely a couple mentions on the Four-Letter’s broadcasts (of course, only brought up by Kevin Blackistone on Around the Horn and Desmond Howard sometime later) and only a righteously written column by Gene Wojciechowski on its dot-com operation to bring it up.

I only hammer at this because these are the ways entrenched university presidents and athletic directors protect their asses: extending the privilege of race and class in the coaching network by playing it safe, locking up the job with an heir when possible, not daring to venture outside the box. I thought it was telling when CBS’ Spencer Tillman absolutely went off about this two Saturdays ago:

“Who are the people that run college football? Fifty-and-older white, Southern men. Those are the people who run college football, and so to expect progress from them is a tough battle. They want someone who looks like them.”

Minority coaches are going to get short-ended more often than not between the hashmarks at higher levels: while Willingham deserved his firing at U-Dub, he still got a raw deal at Notre Dame, and Prince’s release by K-State was just as bad in my books — barring scandal or complete incompetence, no college football coach should be fired before the end of a full four-year recruiting cycle. It’s well past time for Floyd Keith and the Black Coaches & Administrators to merely express disappointment. Legal action will probably have to be the way to go now. It took legal action to get the NFL to adopt the Rooney Rule; it will probably take the real threat of it to get what Keith and Lapchick have called an “Eddie Robinson Rule.”

Locking up a desired coaching gig in the Big 12 years in advance seems like a further jump backwards for college athletics. Things could change; Brown could fail miserably and be forced out, and Muschamp thrown out with him — but isn’t that way too much coincidence? Both men are good football coaches; too good for that to actually happen beyond the three or four-loss season.  That’s too much “if” to leave to the traditional habits of university administrators. Admittedly, it’s only been maybe half a century since minority students had access to some of the public universities that are major athletic schools; thus, there is a base of power that still needs to be built.  However, that doesn’t excuse the presidents and athletic directors for a collectively lousy record.

Again, it’s nothing against Muschamp, who I think has more than earned a head coaching job somewhere in D-IA.  But the status as heir apparent becomes about the men not looked at, the perspectives closed off, the interviews not held, when a department decides to anoint a successor without so much as an evaluation of anyone else who might be interested, someday, when Mack Brown decides it’s time to move to the cushy gig in the athletic department.

(This didn’t fit anywhere else in the piece, but I wanted to note it: It’s rather instructive to look at Bill Rhoden’s column in the NYT from a few weeks ago on NFL players and their perceptions of coaches, as reported in a study, in the context of how it might apply to college football.)

You Know What Bad Fantasy Football Advice Needs? Breasts.

And that advice should be delivered by women with augmentation in skimpy fucking halter tops, cut-up unis (I shit you not, the promo video had one of them in a Jeremy Shockey Giants jersey), and even a pink Arizona Cardinals top. (Consider me surprised that Arizona has enough fans to even bother selling pink merch, which I hate for reasons I’ve stated here and elsewhere.)

EDSBS has rightfully mocked it, D-Wil at Sports on My Mind has succinctly bashed it, and one of the FanHouse’s co-creators thinks it’s incredibly poor content: it’s Fanhouse’s partnership with Fantasy Sports Girl, to give us one of the more base pandering (and patronizing) efforts in this miasma called sports blogging: getting eyes and hits through pretending to give valuable information delivered by hot pin-ups (or at least the popular definition of what passes for “hot” right now.)

Why am I not surprised that the folks behind FSG are, as the promo video tells us, long-time television producers (and apparently Emmy winners) who know what draws eyeballs? Yes, this essential service is now available for those of you too lazy to flip browser tabs between the fantasy articles in one side and the pornography in the other.

The sad part is that the Fanhouse had one of the larger stables of writers who happened to be good and were also women. As Jamie Mottram explained, apparently Alana Nguyen (better known as Miss Gossip) has left the site not even a month after getting the top job — and being the first female head of one of the bigger box sports blogs. Wonder if this feature had anything to do with the departure, don’t you?

Steve Kerr, Newest Endorser of Bad Idea Jeans.

I’m not particularly sure what the goal of obtaining an aged Shaquille O’Neal from the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks does for the Phoenix Suns. Ric Bucher just told me it has something to do with “defensive presence” as I was watching ESPN News, and I suppose that’s believable if you consider that the Suns’ M.O. involves scoffing at every common sense conception of “defense” in the Association.

Now, this deal still has some stages to go through — Shaq would need to pass a physical, blah blah blah — but it’s fairly clear both sides want to get this done. I can’t help but think Miami is fleecing Phoenix big time. If the Suns had really wanted an impact center to provide defensive help, they could have fought harder in the KG Sweepstakes before the Celts roped him in from Minnesota or seriously talked to Memphis about Pau Gasol (although the issue of getting Marion to go to either the Wolves or the Grizzlies would have been a problem.) Now you get a declining, overweight, and oft-injured O’Neal with a massive contract who does not fit in the established offensive structure powered by Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire (never mind that to obtain such a defensive boost, you take away another weapon in Marion.)

I suppose a body tethered to the paint at 7’2″ and 300+ bulk counts as the best defensive presence the Suns have had in years; I just don’t see why Kerr has cut off his team’s nose to spite its face. Feel free to pencil Phoenix in for a first-round loss in the playoffs. No one will blame you.

Photo: AP/Douglas C. Pizac

Careful What You Wish For, Bears Fans.

As soon as the Chicago crowd on Sunday night started screaming “GRIESE! GRIESE! GRIESE!” after Rex Grossman’s second interception of the night, I began to get a very sick feeling in my stomach — and I’m sure most Bronco fans got the exact same queasiness. We’ve been here before, we know what putting faith into the shaky hands of Brian Griese is like, and we had him when he was younger and less battered by age and injury.

Yes, Lovie Smith would probably be well advised to go with Brian, but I wouldn’t expect the Bears to be significantly better with him than they were with Grossman. He won’t lose games for you, but he won’t be able to produce the necessary wins when you need them either. That’s not going to take a hell of a lot of pressure off your defense. It means a 7-9 or 8-8 season rather than a 5-11 or 6-10, but the odds of missing the playoffs are still pretty good, and you all believe you should be getting to the Super Bowl again.

Let’s review his seasons in Denver as the full time starter (statistics via Pro Football Reference):

  • 1999 – 6-10 season for the Broncos, 14 games played. 14 TDs, 14 INTs, over 3,000 yards. Not bad for a first year starter despite the bad record and INTs, but missing two games should have been a sign of things to come.
  • 2000 – 11-5, Griese’s sole Pro Bowl season. Lost six games to injury. Threw 19 picks to 4 INTs, lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
  • 2001 – 8-8, only missed one game this season. Threw 23 TDs to 19 INTs, didn’t make the playoffs that year. Everyone figured he’d catch on.
  • 2002 – 9-7, regressed despite the better team record and missed the playoffs again. Missed 3 games. Had a 1:1 TD/INT ratio yet again, throwing 15 of each, and after that, the Rat Fink had enough, having produced 1,000 yard rushers only to see his quarterback return to performance more along the lines of his first starting season.

For all his faults, the Broncos decided to throw in their lot with Jake Plummer after that 2002 season, because while Griese could get you a decent record, he couldn’t win games for you at all. Plummer could certainly lose them, but he could also win them — and while you may be thinking, “Well, Brian Griese won’t lose games in the way Rex Grossman did,” you’re right, but he isn’t capable of helping you win them as a starter. His ACL snapping in Tampa Bay during a renaissance was the final straw.

So, you probably have no choice in Chicago but to deal with Brian Griese. Cedric Benson will have to remember not to fumble and tote it for 100+ per game. Berrian and Muhammad can’t drop anything at all, because their quarterback, despite his virtues of not being a complete fuck-up, isn’t anything resembling a playmaker. Enjoy making the playoffs by the skin of your teeth and then losing in the first round — which means you won’t be able to improve much by getting a top blue-chipper QB in the draft, either. Better hope Kyle Orton is still salvageable.

Photo: Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel