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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Sunday, November 30, 2008

College Football Week 14

Time for week 14 in the world of College Football!

Well it was rivalry week so you know I was glued to the TV all day watching some of the best matchups of the year. Teams had a chance to redeem their seasons, teams had a chance to flush their dreams down the toilet.

I’m going to have to go quick fire on some of these games this week because there are too many to talk about and too little time to talk about them. Let’s just say that games this week fell into two categories: great games, and not so great games. I’ve got to put in team’s records this week since it’s all over but the crying and politicking for bowl position for 90% of the schools out there (rankings reflect current week; polls will be shaken on Sunday). I’ve also put in the Rivalry Game names cause I love these games and how much they mean to people.

The conference championships are set and next week’s Championship Edition should feature a few good matchups with only the SEC able to really shake up the National Title hunt Unless the BCS loses more credibility and Missouri finds a way to win the Big-12. We’ll see, but if I had to put money on it, I’ve got Florida over Alabama 45-20 in Atlanta.

No time for big losers and pillow fights (we’ll save that for the crappy bowl games) it’s Rivalry Week!

Moving on…

GAMES OF THE WEEK RIVALRY EDITION:

#3 Oklahoma (11-1) over #12 Oklahoma State (9-3) 61-41
The Bedlam Series (1900)
Now this was a fun game to watch! Scoring all over the place and it seemed like the game was going to drag on to the last possession. But alas, Oklahoma decided that winning the Big-12 South was important and pulled this one out with 24 points in the 4th. Bradford had the game he needed to have with 370 yards and 4TDs and rushing for one as well. I believe the Zac Robinson may have been OKS’s best kept secret because he played great despite the one INT. He’s a junior, so look for State to have a better chance next year with the Big-12 losing Big-Talent at the QB spot this off season. Will the pollsters give OU enough to jump Texas? We shall see!

#7 Texas Tech (11-1) over Baylor (4-8) 35-28
Not a real rivalry, just two traditionally sucky teams going at it with one of them being “good” this year.
I guess Tech fans we’re holding their collective breaths hopping against hope that OU would lose and they could back their way into the Big-12 Championship. Sorry Red Raiders, but this wasn’t your year either. And, don’t try to play up Baylor like you expected this kind of close game. This one should have found its way to the blowout section, but it took 14 fourth quarter points to pull this one out and keep UT’s hopes alive. Tech was really in a no win situation this weekend and really the only satisfaction they can get from this is sticking it to Oklahoma one time if they fail to jump Texas in the BCS. And I guess the satisfaction of beating up on your ugly step-brother from Baylor. Overall a crappy game except for the final 12 minutes.

#11 Georgia (9-3) falls to #22 Georgia Tech (9-3) 45-42
The Clean Old-Fashioned HATE Game (1893)
Well. Yep. It happened. And, like I’ve said all year, Tech is either on or they’re off. This week they were on and found a way to snap Georgia’s 7-game winning streak in the rivalry. God I HATE the triple-option. I HATE the fact that Georgia’s defense couldn’t find a way to tackle anybody on the outside, and I HATE when we get away from what makes our offense work and try these stupid schemes to try and trip people up. But what I HATE most of all is Georgia Tech! And these stat lines from their running backs: R. Jones: 13 for 214 and 2TDs; and J. Dwyer: 20 for 144 and 2TDs. Jesus! The Jackets combined for 409 rushing yards on the day, Georgia’s worst performance of the year by far. They didn’t even have to pass the ball! It was all run, run, run! Damnit! At half UGA was up 28-12 and dominating this game. With a minute left in the third Tech was up 10. This season for Georgia boils down to three halves of football; the first against Alabama, the second against Florida and the second versus GT. Other than that… well 9-3 to finish ain’t bad, but far from where we want to be. Fuck Tech! And, congrats to Paul Johnson for turning that team around in his first year.

#12 Missouri (9-3) goes down to Kansas (7-5) 40-37
The Border War (1891)
Are you fuckin’ kidding me Missouri? Kansas had a chip on their shoulders and you acted like a team with nothing to play for. Remember last year? I get it, your spot in the Championship game was locked up before you kicked off, but that doesn’t mean you get to take the afternoon off. Douche-bags! Hey, season saved for KU and Reesing got his name back on SportsCenter for the first time in 3 months.

#17 Oregon State (8-4) gets skunked by #23 Oregon (9-3) 65-38
The Civil War (1894)
Are you fuckin’ kidding me Oregon State? One more win, just one more win was all you needed to knock USC out of the Rose Bowl and claim the PAC-10 Championship. And, better yet you could have done it against your one true rival Oregon! Lots of speed in this game but not much else. It was kind of weird to watch as both teams just tried to get guys out in space to see what they could do against some really piss poor defenses. It looked to me like the kick return was the favored play for both of these squads. I know it sure wasn’t the I-formation. There were 1,157 total yards in this game! To me it had a feeling that Oregon State was in this game the whole time despite the box score and Oregon’s dominance in the run game. Well, and the 2 INTs the Oregon returned for touchdowns.

#21 Boston College (9-3) over Maryland (7-5) 28-21
Another “mock rivalry” game but important over the last few years.
This was another good game to watch if you had it on your regional broadcast or if you were like me and ESPN had nothing else to show at the time. Plain and simple though, BC wanted it more and played better defense. The ACC is having a down year, but BC has a chance for some conference redemption if they can win the Championship Game and their Bowl Game to finish up 11-3.

#25 Pittsburg (8-3) over West Virginia (7-4) 19-15
The Backyard Brawl (1895)
Oh Pittsburg. You lost at all the wrong times this year and only the mining folks actually cared about this game since W. Virginia has had a shit season by their standards and no one cares about watching Cincinnati win the Big-East. But, even though it was on a Friday night, you still gave us a good one by coming back in the fourth quarter from a 15-7 deficit. I guess I do have to give the Panthers some credit for containing Pat White which it seems that most teams are unable to do.

Virginia Tech (8-4) over Virginia (5-7) 17-14
The Commonwealth Cup (1996)
I like this game even if I don’t get to watch it every year. These two teams hate each other about as much as Georgia and Georgia Tech do. And, I was hoping aginst hope that Virginia would find a way to pull this one off to set up a better ACC Championship game. They almost did too and I bet VaTech fans aren’t breathing too easy today after that one. Back and forth for most of the contest but it was Tech in the second half that did the scoring with Tyrod Taylor having both 137 yards passing and 137 yards rushing for the Hokies on the day.

BEAT DOWNS OF THE WEEK RIVALRY EDITION:

#1 Alabama (12-0) over Auburn (5-7) 36-0
The Iron Bowl (1893)
Auburn… please, just… whatever. Alabama Rolled Tide and just dominated this game despite only leading 10-0 at half. Bama actually showed some class by calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter or else this could have been UGLY. Auburn had won 6 straight in this classic rivalry so I’m sure this feels good for Alabama to finish up the regular season undefeated and headed to the Championship Game next week.

#2 Texas (11-1) over Texas A&M (4-8) 49-9
The Lone Star Showdown (1894)
Like there was any question Texas was going to crush A&M. They had to. Style points are a part of life in college football these days and with a chance (and now certainty) of a three-way tie for first, Texas needed all the boost they could get with OU breathing down their necks. We’ll see how the pollsters treat them, but things don’t look good for Texas which is sad because they beat OU on the field at a neutral site and will get denied despite it.

#4 Florida (11-1) over #20 Florida State (8-4) 45-15
The Sunshine Showdown (1958)
Always fun to watch the UF vs. FSU rivalry especially in a driving rain when all that speed on both teams has to deal with a wet turf and sloppy conditions. Nobody gave FSU a chance in this one and that was obvious from kickoff. FSU was never really in this game and their QBs Weatherford and Ponder just stunk up the whole stadium on Saturday. Tebow didn’t put up ridiculous numbers this week, but looked like he was having fun the whole time. Next week will show everybody how good Florida really is since they’ll probably be doing it without Percy Harvin.

#5 USC (10-1) over Notre Dame (6-6) 38-3
The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh (1926)
(The thing looks like a really painful dildo)
Yeah right, like I even need to comment on this game. Notre Dame didn’t have a prayer in this one. The Irish managed 91 total yards in the game and only 4 first downs after going 2-14 on third downs. Yikes. Rose Bowl here we come say the Trojans as long as UCLA doesn’t pull off a miracle next week.

Mississippi (8-4) over Mississippi State (4-8) 45-0
The Egg Bowl (1901)
Poor Sylvester Croom. The man didn’t have a chance when he got there and I don’t think he should have resigned after this one unless he knew he was going to get axed anyway. Croom has manufactured some great wins for Mississippi State over the last few years despite going 21-38 with only one winning season in five years. Croom you will remember was the first black head coach in the SEC and will be remembered as a pioneer for that. He’ll also be remembered for putting together some great defenses and some of the worst offenses in SEC history. Probably why he’s out of there; defenses had fallen off and offenses never got better. I’d love to see him as a defensive coordinator some where, but head coach maybe not.

Clemson (7-5) over South Carolina (7-5) 31-14
Battle of the Palmetto State (1896)
Go Crazy Clemson Fans! At least you beat South Carolina. This score was not indicative of the ass beating Clemson gave SC this weekend. Neither team has been that impressive this year with Clemson falling well short of pre-season expectations. South Carolina is destined to finish 3rd or 4th every year in the SEC East and can only hope to claim the Palmetto State every year. Rumblings may be coming from the Gamecock faithful if Spurrier can’t get them to a conference title soon, especially with Tennessee falling off the map.

CONFERENCE WATCH:

ACC: Boston College vs. Virginia Tech in a re-match from last year and a more traditional Championship Game for the conference. Sure, you might want to see a Miami or Florida State dominate, but I like having those two in the middle of the pack for a few years. Georgia Tech had a shot at this but their cold side kept them out of the conference championship for the second straight year.

BIG-EAST: Winner Winner. Cincinnati Bearcat dinner. Cincinnati had better send a thank you card to Pitt for taking out West Virginia and making them the winner by elimination.

BIG-10: Still Penn State.

BIG-12: A down and out Missouri team will meet either Texas or Oklahoma next week. It’s all up to the polls at this point. The three-way gang bang in the South did nothing for Texas Tech’s hopes on Saturday but there’s always next year, even if their head coach bails on them this off season.

PAC-10: Damnit! USC has found a way back in this one and as long as they don’t blow it against UCLA they’re headed to the Rose Bowl to face Penn State. Now I don’t mind that so much because it’ll probably be a better game, but it would have been nice to see someone else win the conference for once.

SEC: #1 and still undefeated Alabama against probably the best team in the nation Florida for the SEC. Hopefully this will be a good game and one team doesn’t decide to blow the other out of the water.

That's it for this week kids. I'm tired of typing and there are just too many arguments to be made about who should be where and why. Tune in next week when I let everyone in on what the playoff system would look like if I ruled the world.
Peace!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Review: Service Included

Book Review: Service Included; By: Phoebe Damrosch

Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch is another one of those quick reads that I recommend for anyone in the service industry or more specifically in food and beverage.
Pretty fun book throughout.
Damrosch starts off as a server in a casual dinning restaurant with all of her student, actor, artist and loafing coworkers and is trying to decide whether she should leave her current job to find a real one or if she should stay in the food industry.
She decides to leave her job but applies and gets a job at New York's "hottest" new restaurant Per Se operated by Chef Thomas Keller of California's famous French Laundry.
From there she tries to immerse herself in the food culture by reading and attempting to cook from Keller's French Laundry cookbook. (A few of these scenes in the book are hilarious). She goes through her training at Per Se and this takes up a good portion of the book as she must learn the proper way to stand, speak, walk and set tables. Generally, if your not into the 'behind the scenes' of how restaurants work, this might not be that interesting to you.
As the restaurant opens, she then has to get over the gender separation in F&B as well as try to master her new position. As she succeeds in this, she is promoted from back server to captain and begins to fall in love (as most female semi-biographical writers tend to do) and then has to balance work and love all in the same space and time.
The next section of the book is dominated by her new romance and the New York Times food critic that she must serve on four separate occasions. The entire restaurant is obsessed with the critic because his rating will determine if they will be able to continue to charge upwards of $15K per table for meals. (It's all about the experience of dining, not the cost Damrosch teaches us)
I'll leave the end off the book in case you want to read it, but it's all smiles for the most part as job, life and romance all seem to fall into place to wrap up a happy story.
To me this book was Sex and the City meets Top Chef meets Real World. Overall it was enjoyable, and a nice break from all the serious non-fiction I've been reading. Pick it up if you have a rainy afternoon to kill or just need a nice look at the NY restaurant scene from the eyes of one server.

Monday, November 24, 2008

College Football Week 13

Time for Week Thirteen in the world of College Football!

Had to wit till Monday for this post since there was no way I could make my arguments this week without knowing how that ol’ BCS poll turned out after the OU Texas Tech game. Looks like some craziness to me.
1. Alabama .987
2. Texas .920
3. Oklahoma .912
4. Florida .875
5. USC .797
6. Utah .785
7. Texas Tech .778
8. Penn State .752
9. Boise State .658
10. Ohio State .621
11. Georgia .602
12. Oklahoma State .570

Now we all remember Texas beating Oklahoma during the State Fair right? True, but if you have round-robin winning between the three Big-12 South teams, then who goes to play Missouri? The highest BCS ranked team; that’s who. Looks like Texas right now but Oklahoma has Oklahoma State during next week’s rivalry week and they’re ranked 12th which should be high enough that a win for Oklahoma would make up the .008 points they need to overtake Texas who only has upset opportunities ahead with Texas A&M. Could get crazy! And may God help us that Auburn doesn’t try to salvage their season by beating Alabama next week or FSU over Florida.

Also, Utah, Ohio State and Penn State are DONE! So, we’ll see how the computers treat them as they sit idol for the next 2-3 weeks of football. Utah has nothing to fear, but the other two had better watch out.

And, no; Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma did not make it into the games of the week despite being hyped that way. Neither did Middle Tennessee State’s beat down of North Texas 52-13. Ouch.
Moving on…

GAMES OF THE WEEK: (Rankings as of Saturday)

#7 Utah over #14 BYU 48-24 The Holy War!
Wait how is some Mormon on Mormon action a Holy War? Oh well. Not a bad game overall and it meant something for both teams with Utah trying to stay undefeated and BYU trying to even the records at one loss and potentially move into that much needed BCS top 12. But alas, Utah has finished the year at 12-0 and has survived as a fly in the ointment. Now they get to become either Boise State from a few years ago or last year’s Hawaii. We’ll see. Good game though total yards were just about even 419-415 for BYU and the only real problem for BYU turned out to be the second half where they managed only 7 points compared to Utah’s 21 in the 4th quarter. Oh and the 6 turnovers for BYU… well let’s just say you can’t do that and expect to win ballgames.

#19 Cincinnati over #20 Pittsburg 28-21 The Big-East Brouhaha
Ok, not the real name of this match-up, but come on… Cincinnati now controls the Big East however, they now have to face an upstart Syracuse in their final conference game. Nobody is taking this conference too seriously this year, but there are a few teams in there that know how to play that are just having down years. I’m talking to you W. Virginia! But there are 6 teams in the Big East with 7 or more wins. Who knew? Anyway, 14 points from Pitt in the fourth wasn’t enough to pull them through on Saturday and going 2-10 on 3rd down is never a good thing. Of course neither is netting 35 yards rushing and getting dominated in ever statistical category. Good win for the Bear Cats.

#17 Ball State over Central Michigan 31-24
Now normally I am anti Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday college football, but this was a good one for me since I wanted to see how Ball State looked compared to their ranking. Not bad! And, those guys have some speed on that team. I don’t think they play good defense, but they have some quick running backs. Small, but quick. I liked how their offense managed the game, but I give them no chance in a big time bowl game. Giving up 345 yards of passing and 466 total yards to a directional Michigan team is never good. You do have to give them some credit though, C. Michigan was 8-2 coming into the game and played well so we’ll see if Ball U can close out a perfect regular season next week against another compass point in Western Michigan (9-2). If they do they win the MAC West! WooHoo!

BEAT DOWNS OF THE WEEK:
Take your pick:

#5 Oklahoma over #2 Texas Tech 65-21
Score not indicative of ass kicking Oklahoma gave Tech. That was the number two team in the country?

#8 Penn State over #15 Michigan State 49-18
Sparty never had a chance in this game. Joe Pa was ready to go run, no walk, no hobble through the roses in So. Cal.

#4 Florida over Charleston, South Carolina’s own Citadel Bulldogs 70-19
You gotta love playing real games early and then making room in your schedule for teams like the Citadel. 705 total yards for Florida with the starters only playing a quarter and a half before turning it over to the practice squad.

RIVALRY WATCH:
#10 Ohio State over Michigan 42-7
That’s five in a row for OSU; this one was probably the most fun. Nothing better than poking a dead wolverine with a stick. Michigan is now 3-9! Worst season for Big Blue in my lifetime. I knew this was going to be a good year. Whatever, this game wasn’t worth watching for long. OSU isn’t that good and Michigan is that bad.

CONFERENCE WATCH: (Current Rankings)
ACC: Thanks to now #22 Georgia Tech’s win this is anybody’s conference to win. Tech is done with conference play but the Coastal division is still up for grabs with FSU leading the Atlantic but BC and Maryland may still have something to say. We’ll see how this plays out next week in an all out ‘Who wants to lose the ACC’ week.

Big-12: #13 Missouri in the North and #2 Texas, #3 Oklahoma or #7 Texas Tech in the South. My head is spinning. This will be one of those Give me a f-ing play off scenarios after next week. Either way, it’s going to be interesting if Missouri wins the Big-12 Championship Game and essentially kills the Big-12’s chance of having a representative in the National Championship Game.

Big-10: #8 Penn State. Winner winner chicken dinner. Congrats.

Pac-10: #17 Oregon State is still holding the lead on #5 USC and can clinch as long as they take out #23 Oregon on Saturday. If… if only if… OSU has a chance to ruin USC season twice. Once with their win and the second time by taking the conference… if. USC has UCLA left for conference play but shouldn’t lose either of their remaining games against Notre Dame or UCLA.
SEC: #1 Alabama and #4 Florida are still on track to meet in Atlanta where Alabama kicked off their season with a beat down of Clemson and will hope to do the same to Florida. I don’t see it though. Auburn is still dangerous but can only knock them out of the National Championship hunt. If Bama finds a way to lose to both the Tigers and Gators… ouch. We’ll see.

BIGGEST LOSER:
LSU!
Now this has been brewing for weeks! But, before I deem LSU the biggest loser this week let me first say that they are 7-4 and have been playing with their number 3 and 4 quarterbacks for weeks. They haven’t had a number 1 in there since Spring Practice. Their four loses have all come in conference and they were to Florida (10-1), Georgia (9-2), Alabama (11-0) and now Mississippi (7-4). Let’s see any team run through the first three without losing at least one and just ask Florida about Mississippi’s ability to upset somebody. But! LSU is this week’s biggest loser for a season long plummet into middle of the road obscurity and their fans apathy on the journey. What happened to the allure of the Tiger Eye? This off season had better bring in a QB and some changes on defense if LSU wants to get back into contention in the SEC West in 2009.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

College Football Week 12

Time for Week Twelve in the world of College Football!

Sorry about the unannounced Bye Week last week college football fans, but I was still depressed about the UGA/Florida game and it was a busy weekend for me. Never fear though, I’m back.

Well the College Football regular season is winding down and once again here we are with more questions to be answered from the BCS and games to be played before we know who our conference champions really are. Where are you PAC-10 and Big-10 on getting a Championship Games? Huh? Douchbags. Yes the BCS still sucks and I think I’m just as excited about Obama’s college football playoff plan as I am his healthcare agenda.

Please, let’s put some of these midlevel teams that are undefeated with the top two teams from the 5 major conferences and play-it-off. That’s 15 teams! You can’t do that! Sure you can. The Champion form each major conference gets a bye so you have 10 teams in the first round. (5 second place teams from the ACC, B-10, B-12, P-10 and SEC vs. 5 Mid-Major Conference Champions; and yes that includes the Big East). Then you play that last ten down in a double elimination round-robin style bowl extravaganza.

No time to pontificate, you saw the action; let’s get to the games…

GAMES OF THE WEEK:


#10 Georgia over Auburn 17-13 The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry
Glory Glory! Georgia escaped Jordan-Hare Stadium with a win after the defense decided to show up late and Auburn played their hearts out. Let’s face it, these two schools hate each other and this game is always worth watching. All you really need to know about this game is “Matthew Stafford to AJ Green for the… Touchdown!” And, there was some great defense on both sides of the ball.

Wisconsin over Minnesota 35-32 The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Ass…
Oh… what? It’s an axe you say? Ahhh. I though it was because both of these teams were here for the gang-bang. An axe makes sense though right? Anyway, Wisconsin actually played football in the fourth quarter which is weird since they usually fall apart after 45 minutes. Two TDs and two safeties in the fourth brought the Badgers back from a 24-17 deficit and they hung on to win and become bowl eligible with their sixth win.

Boston College over #19 Florida State 27-17
Who wants to win the ACC? I do! I do! Oh wait, no I don’t. This game was a fun one to watch despite those ugly ass FSU all black uniforms. Wow. Come on guys. No white after Labor Day and no lame ass all-black uniforms after Halloween. Now FSU had 5 WRs suspended for this game (sound familiar FSU fans?) and that hut them but they still out gained BC through the air. This game was all about the defenses though and I have a hard time believing that a few thugs at WR would have helped them all that much Especially since Ponder was intercepted three times by the BC defense. Now the Eagles control their own path to the ACC Championship game and FSU can look forward to Florida in a few weeks.



BEAT DOWN OF THE WEEK:


#4 Florida over #25 South Carolina 56-6
Dear God! I feel bad for any team that has to play Florida at this point. They are just tough! Percy Harvin had 167 rushing yards and 2TDs and torched South Carolina’s defense twice. Tebow went for 173 and 2TDs through the air and 39 and a TD on the ground. This was a beat down in every phase of the game. Total yards: 519-173; Rushing: 346-53; Turnovers: 4-2. This was Spurrier’s biggest loss of his carrier and South Carolina had better be glad they are already bowl eligible because a loss like this can kill you.

RIVALRY WATCH:


Notre Dame over Navy 27-21
Now I have a hard rule that I can’t put the service academies in the Pillow Fight because those guys always play hard no matter what. Much love! And, both of these teams now sit at 6-4 so bowl eligible. This was one of those games where you are cheering for Navy to pull off two in a row over the Irish but alas, it was not to be. Those two late on-side kick recoveries were awesome and this was fun despite the lower level of talent on both teams. Navy just couldn’t put together an offense this week. (242 total yards, 64 passing and 178 rushing) Anyway, a tip of my cap to Navy for keeping this one close and still believing they can win and a wag of my finger to Notre Dame for making Navy your marquee game of the year.

CONFERENCE WATCH:


ACC: Boston College, Maryland, Wake and FSU al still have a shot at the Atlantic Division. Miami and Georgia Tech still have shots at the Coastal Division. There are still two weeks left, we’ll see what happens.

Big-12: #12 Missouri has locked up the North title and right now are waiting on #2 Texas Tech for the Championship Game. But, Tech still has to go to #13 Oklahoma and play Baylor at home to wrap it up which could set up one of the biggest upset games of the year. Now Baylor may be 4-7 but they have next week off to get ready and would love to beat Tech and knock them out if they beat OU.

Big-10: #8 Penn State has control and only needs to win against Michigan State to get to the Rose Bowl. But, if Michigan State wins and Ohio State beats Michigan, then it’s Ohio State. If Michigan and Michigan State win, then Michigan State wins the Big-10. Should be a fun week coming up.

Pac-10: Oregon State controls its own path to the Rose Bowl if they can take care of Arizona on the road and Oregon at home in the next two weeks. With that huge win over USC, the Trojans can now only watch and hope.

SEC: #4 Florida from the East and #1 Alabama from the West will meet in the Championship game and it’ll be a de-facto playoff for the National Championship as long as both take care and don’t get upset before December 6th.

BIGGEST LOSER:



Michigan and Rich-Rod!
Oh mighty Michigan how you have fallen. They used to say you can’t spell Lloyd (Carr) without 2 Ls. Well you’re going to need a new alphabet to spell Rodriguez with 8 Ls. That’s right for the first time in the 129-year history of Michigan football the Wolverines have 8 losses and sit at 3-8 while Northwestern now sits at 8-3 after their 21-14 win thanks to shutting out Michigan in the second half at home. I guess changing the system is going to have its problems, but 8 losses? We’ll see how it goes next year, but I give ol’ Rich-Rod one more season without a bowl game and he’s out of there. He can salvage the season with a win over Ohio State next week, but that’s not likely to happen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Book Review: The War Within

Sorry college football fans, I took a bye week last week without telling you in advance. Oops. It was a busy weekend filled with beer and theater. I went to see a local production of 'Dog Sees God' and had some friends in town.

But I did finally make it through my book that I've been on for more than a month now. The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 by Bob Woodward is not exactly a quick read and makes it into my genre of depressing literature. Wow. This was scary. The Bush Administration had/has/will have no clue what the hell they're doing in Iraq.
While this book drags on from meeting to meeting to briefing to briefing to back-channel communications and interviews you the reader are left to wonder... when are they going to get all this on track? It seemed to me that the Administration couldn't get out of its own way on the road to securing Iraq's future.

There were some "points of light" in the book from time to time, such as Colin Powell and a few of the people on the ground like Colonel H.R. McMaster. McMaster in my opinion after reading this is a great guy to have on our side and one who truly understands how to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people in an effort to win this war. I have always had a great deal of respect for Powell even after the Bush Administration set him up with all those fake smoking guns in the run up to the war.

One such conversation in this book that stuck out to me was between General Jack Keane and Donald Rumsfeld. When Keane said, "We never adopted a strategy to defeat the insurgency," Rumsfeld asked him to clarify and he said:

"Well, we don't have a mission to defeat the insurgency. If we did, we should be protecting the population. And the fact that we're not protecting the population has exposed it to al Queda, to the Sunni insurgents and the Shia militia that take advantage of it. And that's why we have the bloodbath that we have today." He said the Iraqis were not yet capable of handling security. "That's the problem," he said. "We put our money on that horse." And the horse had come up lame.

That quote basically sums up the first 150 pages of the book. The Administration and everyone in it are just now (2006) figuring out that the war is more about Saddam and WMDs. They are seeing more civilian deaths and the growth of the insurgency and have no idea what to do about it because not one of them had a plan or strategy. They didn't even think about it. It seems to me that they went into the war with a one-day-at-a-time mentality not a long term plan.

The book then goes to more of the same:
Bush: We don't have a plan on how to fix Iraq. What's the plan? Are we winning?
Defense Department: Um...
State: Well...
Army: You see this is a complex situation that needs to be looked at from...
Rumsfled: Shut up! That's right, nobody talks to the President without that information being censored by me first!
General Casey: Fine, then I'll just talk to Maliki. Oh wait, he doesn't even represent the ruling majority. Um...
Bush: Good! Keep up the good work people! Stay the course!

Then there is this statement which comes from just about every briefing between 2006-2007. On September 30, 2007 General Casey presented his view of the enemy to NSC:

"The enemy and the security situation is much more complex than ever before." He told them there are four major groups that must be confronted: Sunni extremists, Shia extremists, those carrying out resistance attacks on the coalition, and the Iranians, who were covertly undermining stability.

It just seemed to me that every meeting or conference included the phrase, "more complex than we thought." Really? They had no idea who it was they were fighting and why. All they knew was that Iraq was not secure and everyday people die there because it's not secure.

Then you get to page 175 or so and you realize they have come up with a plan. A plan! Here's what we're going to do... We're going to get people from the administration together and they are going to come up with a plan. Then, we'll get a bunch of retired Colonels together and they'll come up with a plan. We'll call them the Council of Colonels (sounds cooler). Then, we'll get a bunch of civilians to review current action and tell us where we've gone wrong in the past, so when we give them the new policy it looks like were making progress.

Then there was a guy named Satterfield from the State Department and some woman named Mehgan O'Sullivan who liked to stir the pot as much as possible. They were coming up with plans to present to the President while the Colonels were kept across the river in a bunker to hash out logistics.

"They were conducting a strategy review of an ongoing war without anyone in uniform in the room. And while the Council of Colonels was meeting separately, as long as Rumsfeld was in charge, the two groups could not merge."

This back and forth goes on till about page 320 when the first book ends and the second book begins. The first book takes you through all the personnel change and "The Surge." Allow me to sum it up for you:

Administration: We need to surge the troops!
Military: No we don't we need to deploy them in the neighborhoods and move into a more grass-roots campaign against the insurgents. Get the people on our side.
Administration: Hmmm... good point but what about Baghdad? We can at least surge there right?
Military: No.
Administration (mumbling): Get me a new general and Secretary of, whatever.
Military: You know what we should do?
Administration: We need a Surge!

Guess who won that debate?

Anyway, if you want to know every in and out of the internal "debate" that went on with the administration and military, then feel free to pick up a copy of Woodward's book. This was a little too detailed for me and I usually want more detail and less stroy in my nonfiction. But this, this was just depressing. I feel less confident than ever about the administration after reading this. There were a few bright spots, so I'm not knocking it 100%, but 99.9 just maybe.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

College Football Week 10

Time for Week Ten in the world of College Football!

This was a week of dream shattering proportions. Teams that had hope must now just play it out and hope for the best bowl they can get and some form of redemption. With the middle of the pack taking another big hit this weekend, anybody from #15-25 is anyone’s guess. The top five is now a tossup and who knows how good these #6-15 teams really are?

My Dawgs got embarrassed down in Jacksonville. I think everyone saw that coming though with Florida turning it on over the past few weeks and the Georgia defense looking suspect against the pass all year long. Can’t blame it on Stafford since the pics he did throw were late in the game and he had to make those throws to try and get us back in the game. Too bad all of them set UF up for close scores and made the final UGLY! Oh well, there’s always the Capital One Bowl. What’s in your wallet? Another disappointing season.
I need a tissue.

Moving on…

GAMES OF THE WEEK:

#1 Texas falls to #7 Texas Tech 39-33

Really a story of two halves. The first half was all Tech with the Longhorns looking flat on both sides of the ball. Tech did impress with some great defensive play all game long and had Colt McCoy on his ass more times than Mac Brown would have liked to see all season. The second half saw Texas make a push to get back in it and take the lead with 1:29 left in the game. But Tech proved they deserved this win driving the ball down and getting a patented great throw and catch from Harrell to Crabtree for 28 yards to win it and, eventually, let their fans storm the field. A great win for the Red Raiders and a devastating loss for Texas this late in the year. I would give the player of the game nod to Harrell, but I think Tech’s defense deserves the game ball for their entire game effort.

#14 Missouri survives Baylor 31-28
Oh the power of the late field goal! I have no idea how Baylor was able to hang in this one by scoring 21 in the second half to tie it at 28. But, I do know that Mizzou couldn’t afford to drop their third game of the year, especially to Baylor. This was one of those games like Florida vs. Vandy coming up next week. You know you have a better team, you know your playing well, but you have to go out there and prove it every week. Good job by Daniel getting his team down the field and scoring with only 2:31 left.

#21 Michigan State over Wisconsin 25-24
Oh the power of the late TD, FG, FG! Once again Wisconsin found a way to blow a 4th quarter lead and lose a game. This time however, they held a 24-13 lead with less than ten minutes left before the collapse began. Of course this got my attention because I walked in after work with ten minutes left in this game and thought I might actually see some Badger defense… no… wait… no. MSU is now 8-2 and has made a clear division between the top and bottom teams in the Big-10 which may give PSU a shot at the BCS Championship game IF they can run the table.

UPSETS OF THE WEEK:

#15 Florida State goes down to Georgia Tech 31-28
What did I just say about Georgia Tech being hot and cold? Hmmm? This week it was Hot Tech taking out a slightly over ranked FSU to put themselves at 7-2 on the year. Tech is now in the driver’s seat in the ACC despite both of their losses coming in conference.

#17 Minnesota falls to Northwestern 24-17
I just kept waiting on the Golden Gofers to fall apart and it took an upstart Northwestern team to finally take them out with :12 left in the game. A great interception returned for a TD finally did it and I was glad to see the Minn fans finally remember who they are. Gofers!

#18 Tulsa upset? by Arkansas 30-23
Ahhhh dreams of beating the system. Too bad Tulsa. This is what happens when you play real teams from real conferences. As you dear reader will remember I have been down on Arkansas all year as the whipping boys of the SEC West. (Now 4-5; 1-4 SEC) And, when Tulsa lined up on Saturday they learned what its like to play real football. Arkansas gets hit in the mouth every week, so don’t expect them to give up and roll over like the rest of the teams Tulsa plays on that crap ass C-USA schedule. I’m talking to you N. Texas!


BEAT DOWN OF THE WEEK:

#5 USC over Washington 56-0

Coach Willingham must be an avid reader of this blog because after being named biggest loser last week he went ahead and put in his resignation. I don’t blame him too much but Washington is really bad and a visit from USC didn’t do much to help his case. USC can now start making it’s case to get back in the National Title hunt, but don’t get too excited just yet Trojan fans.

RIVALRY WATCH:

Kansas over Kansas State 52-21 (The Mickelson Bowl)

Well you can’t win them all K-State. (or even 5 for this example) K-State now finds themselves at 4-5 on the year and having to fight like hell to get bowl eligible. Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa State are left for K-State while Kansas has Nebraska, Texas and Missouri left to go. Neither of these teams has a chance to make a push, but Kansas could determine how the Big-12 finishes up this year. Tale of the tape for this one was K-state’s 5 turnovers and only 91 rushing yards to go with 98 yards of penalties. Ouch.

PILLOW FIGHT OF THE WEEK:

North Texas over Western Kentucky 51-40

Score one for The Mean Green and the Sun-Belt Conference! Whoooo! Congrats you got your first win of the season and took out The Hilltoppers! Let’s see WKU is now 2-7 on the year representing, well nobody since they are a D-I Independent school so they play the shit off the bottom of every other conference’s boots and any teams who might need a warm and fuzzy warm-up win. Oh well, a win is a win right?

BIGGEST LOSER:

THE BCS!
Just wait and see. With all of these teams stacking up with one loss and the power of the conference politics, this is going to get bad. Where is the Plus-One system? I’ll get into this more next week.