Tag Archive: Auburn


“They weren’t good enough to play in the NBA … and they don’t have the opportunity to go back to college and get a degree. I think whoever’s responsible for taking these kids out of college is the dumbest operation I think we have in sports.” – Former College Coach Bobby Knight

Can anyone graduate from a legitimate university with a bachelor’s degree in one year, much less earn a master’s degree or Ph.D?

More to the point, what is the value of going to college and being part of a university campus, if you only attend for a semester-and-one-half or two quarters?

All the attention is devoted to keeping the athlete “eligible,” not to advance toward a life-enhancing degree.

That’s only one of the reasons why the basketball one-(part of an academic year)-and-done (off to the NBA … hopefully) rule should be scrapped.

Another pertains to a wretched witches’ boiling cauldron of shoe contracts, NCAA titles, NBA draft, greedy agents/publicity merchants and money, money and even more money.

Some go to college to earn an MBA. Others attend to secure the MRS along with a bachelor/bachelor’s degree.

There a few who complete three years of college for the NFL degree (and maybe attain an academic degree in that time as well).

And then there are those who stay eligible long enough (winter and March Madness) to pursue an seven-or-eight figure NBA contract. Forget about an academic degree with the one-and-dones.

The One-and-Done rule ostensibly is to provide one year of college experience for a future Magic, Michael, Kareem, Kobe, LeBron. The fear is too many come out of high school, thinking they will be one of the super talented 60 studs, who will be selected in the NBA’s two-round draft. Most don’t make it … and once they hire an agent they can’t play in college.

The agreed-upon solution was the future NBA star spend a portion of one year on campus in the hopes that a Final Four appearance/championship will follow … then off to the pros for NBA riches/shoe contracts with nice cuts for parasitic agents and assorted hangers-on.

The shameful side effects of the one-and-done-scheme were manifested this week with FBI indictments and more specifically the door being shown to pretty boy Coach Rick Pitino of Louisville University.

Surprise “Commitment” of Stud Brian Bowen

Louisville reportedly was NOT on the radar screen of five-star, small-forward recruit Brian Bowen … until he surprisedly committed to Coach Rick Pitino.

The U.S. Attorney this week, announced the results of an extensive FBI investigation, which included mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud.

As far as Almost DailyBrett can surmise the fraud scheme included contacting Louisville’s shoe sponsor, Adidas AG, to secure $100,000 to pay Bowen’s family. Bowen in-turn promised to sign with Adidas and certain agents upon entering the NBA, presumably after one year. Bowen then committed to Louisville. The school provided a basketball scholarship to Bowen. Adidas continues to sponsor Louisville.

Considering that one player can transform a team faster with more immediate impact in basketball than any other sport (e.g. within one year … and done), and make untold millions of dollars in the offing … Is it any wonder that NBA/NCAA basketball is ripe for corruption and fraud?

Pitino was fired this week by Louisville. The program was already on NCAA probation. Is the “death penalty” against Louisville next up on the docket? Let’s not forget that assistant coaches at Arizona, Auburn and USC were also arrested based upon the FBI probe.

“Student Athlete”

The folks in Indy, including NCAA head Mark Emmert, are fond of talking about the welfare of “student athletes.” Does that include potential NBA Hall-of-Famers, who have virtually zero chance of earning a degree in less than one year on campus?  They are hoping against hope they are one of the only 60 players picked in the NBA draft?

But what happens, if they are left out in the cold? Most likely, no college degree.

We all know the universities – particularly the Big Five Conferences – are the farm systems for both the NFL and NBA. The key difference is that football players stay on campus at least until the completion of their junior year academically. Conceivably, a player is on the way to a degree or actually earns his bachelor’s degree after three years (e.g., Deshaun Watson of Clemson, Royce Freeman of Oregon).

Can a basketball god earn a degree in two quarters or within two semesters?  Forget it. These are athlete-“students,” not student-athletes.

Can the one-and-dones win a championship for the likes of John Calipari at Kentucky? That theory has already been proved.

Can any of these student-athletes make any discernible progress toward an academic degree? What do you think?

What did Robert Montgomery Knight say about the “dumbest operation” in sports?

https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/09/28/rick-pitino-career-louisville-kentucky-fbi-scandal

http://nypost.com/2017/09/28/this-was-rick-pitinos-exact-role-in-college-hoops-scandal/

http://ferrall.radio.cbssports.com/2015/12/05/bob-knight-says-one-and-done-rule-is-the-dumbest-operation-in-sports/

 

 

 

 

What are you going to do for programming one month from today on SEC Cupcake Saturday, November 22?

cupcakes

Will the 24/7/365 Southeastern Conference-loving network (that would be you, ESECPN) treat the nation to Alabama vs. the Western Carolina Catamounts?

Or is it, Carolina Western? Even Nick Saban and Alabama alum Rece Davis of ESECPN can’t talk up the “potential” of Western Carolina.

Or how about Auburn vs. Samford (& Son) Bulldogs?

Jesse Palmer’s Florida Gators will be playing the dreaded Eastern Kentucky Colonels that same day in “The Swamp.”

And David Pollack’s Georgia Bulldogs will be lining up in between the hedges against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.

palmerpollack

Let’s not forget South Carolina vs. South Alabama Jaguars (Southern Mississippi would be a real opponent).

Reportedly, ESECPN Game Day will visit Nashville to get everyone stoked for Vanderbilt’s game that day against Vassar.

As they say: “You can’t stop the Vassar Brewers’ offense; you can only hope to contain it.”

Are these glorified late-season scrimmages the net result of the SEC refusing to play a nine-game conference schedule, and shamelessly loading up on body-bag games against sacrificial lambs?

Sure looks that way from this humble vantage point west of the Tennessee River.

Four Playoff Spots for Four ESECPN Teams?

Wouldn’t it be great for SEC’s cable sports network if the national championship was decided by a quartet of football factories located somewhere in the old Confederacy, south of the Mason-Dixon Line from Texas in the west to South Carolina in the east?

What if the South rises again, secedes from the union (and the NCAA), and makes the four-team All ESECPN playoff an annual event? No need to consider and follow the exploits of teams from the 14-team Big 10, the 10-team Big 12, the 12-team Pac-12 or any other sad-sack conference.

What is really unfortunate about SEC Cupcake Saturday is the loss of traditional rivalries that were played on the fourth Saturday in November. Included in these games on this hallowed date were the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn and the Egg Bowl between Mississippi and Mississippi State. Instead, Alabama and Auburn are devouring cupcakes that day, basically scheduling a “bye” in drag before the Iron Bowl.

There is hope for college football fundamentalists November 22: You just have to venture west of the Hudson River to Pasadena, California. Yes, USC plays UCLA that day in the Rose Bowl in a real football game with genuine competition. By closing one’s eyes, you can see O.J. Simpson (without his knife) and Gary Beban dueling it out in the Crosstown Rivalry.

Up north that day will be Stanford vs. Cal in the latest renewal of the so-called “Big Game.” Who can forget the one “Play” against Stanford that serves as the single highlight of Cal’s 128-years of inglorious football?

Instead of feasting on cupcakes the week before their rivalry games, the remainder of the Pac-12 is playing conference games that day: Arizona vs. Utah; Colorado vs. Oregon; Oregon State vs. Washington and Washington State vs. Arizona State.

Playing Conference Games in November?

The apologists for the Southeastern Conference at the studios of ESECPN will inevitably point to the fact that other teams in other conferences play their own cupcake opponents. The charge is valid, but these games come at the beginning of the campaign, not the week before the traditional season-ending rivalry game.

They will also cite that Arkansas plays Ole Miss on November 22; Ditto for Mississippi State vs. Vandy and Missouri vs. Tennessee … or six teams out of 14 are actually playing conference games in week four of November. Shameful.

Here is a unique idea for the folks at ESECPN in Bristol, Connecticut: Why not demand the Southeastern Conference play a nine-game conference schedule, putting an end once-and-for-all: Cupcake Saturday?

Let’s make it easy or simple enough for the occupants of the SEC’s headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama: Conference games and only conference games are played in November with the obvious exceptions of Florida vs. Florida State, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech and Kentucky vs. Louisville.

Whattyathink Jesse Palmer?

Any thoughts David Pollack?

How about it, Rece Davis?

Can you live without Florida playing a “home game” against Eastern Kentucky (e.g., the Gators would never step foot in Richmond, Kentucky let alone find it on the map) or Georgia taking on Charleston Southern in a glorified high school stadium?.charleston

Based upon a quick review of the secondary ticket market even with the football crazies south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the fans agree. Tickets for Alabama’s certain annihilation of Western Carolina on November 22 start at $119. Tix for the Iron Bowl the following week start at $297 and peak at $5,855 per ticket.

Which game would you rather watch? Hey ESECPN, let’s dispense with the cupcakes and go for good old-fashioned raw meat instead.

http://www.wcu.edu/

http://www.samford.edu/

http://www.eku.edu/

http://www.csuniv.edu/

http://www.southalabama.edu/

http://www.vassar.edu/

http://secsports.go.com/watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes Alabama and Auburn, “football schools”?

ironbowl

And conversely, what makes Duke and North Carolina, “basketball schools”?

It seems that the term, “football school,” has been around since the earth cooled. The ghosts of John McKay, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Darrell Royal, Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno, Bud Wilkinson and others would certainly agree from their respective resting places in Heaven and Hell.

Ditto for the words, “basketball school,” may also have been carved into the Rosetta Stone to commemorate “The Wizard of Westwood” John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, “Phog” Allen and Jim Valvano.

Does anyone in the State of Alabama let alone anywhere else, besides Sir Charles Barkley, really care about the basketball rivalry between Alabama and Auburn?

Does anyone in the State of North Carolina let alone anywhere else really care about the football rivalry between Duke and North Carolina?

Ask virtually anyone in Alabama what happened in the last second of the 2013 Iron Bowl and a huge smile or a deep sigh will emerge reflecting the religious fervor from both War Eagle and Roll Tide surrounding this game. They already know what they will be doing for nearly four hours on a late November night later this year.

michaelduke

Ask virtually anyone along the eight miles of Tobacco Road separating Duke and UNC and beyond what they are doing this coming Saturday night and they will most likely think the question is rhetorical: It’s North Carolina vs. Duke baby, and the “Cameron Crazies” are ready to go. You can be sure that ESPN’s Dukie Vitale will be there as well.

When one starts listing football schools which institutions immediately come to mind (moving from God’s time zone to the west)?

How about Penn State? Yep. Ohio State and Michigan? Certainly. Notre Dame? Must we? Alabama and Auburn? Definitely. Texas and Texas A&M? Ya better, ya hear. Oklahoma and Nebraska? Yes sir. USC? Fight On! Oregon? Particularly in the last two-plus decades.

When one starts listing basketball schools which institutions come to mind (again moving from God’s sacred Eastern Time Zone to points out west)?

Syracuse? Does the name, Jim Boeheim, ring a bell? North Carolina and Duke? No doubt. Kentucky and Louisville? Yessum. Indiana? Ever see the movie, Hoosiers or read Season on the Brink? Kansas? Dorothy would pass up the Emerald City to check out a game in Allen Fieldhouse. And of course, Arizona.

During the course of a KNBR (San Francisco) radio interview a few years ago, former University of Arizona basketball star Tom Tolbert asked NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young if Arizona would ever go to the Rose Bowl. Young without missing a beat told Tolbert to forget it because “Arizona is a basketball school.”

Even though there are obvious exceptions to every rule, Almost DailyBrett has to conclude that basketball schools are really not very good at football, and football schools conversely are really not proficient in round ball.

Do you remember Indiana’s last Rose Bowl? O.J. Simpson was carrying the ball for the other team.

Can you list the number of NCAA titles in Men’s basketball for USC (We remember you, Cheryl Miller)? That would be … none.

Can you list the number of Rose Bowls for Arizona? You already know the answer to that one.

As a Pac-12 kind of guy, let’s focus on USC, the football school, and Arizona, the basketball school. What makes the two so dominant in one sport and so mediocre (being kind here) in the other?

One could immediately point to tradition, and legendary coaches. USC is Howard Jones, John McKay and Pete Carroll. USC is the LA Coliseum. Heisman Trophies, Song Girls, Traveler, Conquest, Rose Bowls and National Championships. Steve Sarkisian has traded in a lumbering Ford F-150 (University of Washington) for a Lamborghini (USC). As a former football manager at Troy way back in the Gerald Ford/Jimmy Carter years, I can attest everything is football at USC.

carrollusc

In turn basketball was the near-empty L.A. Sports Arena, one of the most dreary and desultory sports experiences in the history of the planet. USC had no home court advantage for literally decades. Wooden was packing them in at Pauley Pavilion. The USC students really wouldn’t even walk a few blocks to the Sports Arena, but would make the same trek in droves to the LA Coliseum.

Today, USC plays in the beautiful Galen Center and no one friggin’ cares. The team is mired in last place in the Pac-12, trailing even the dreadful WSU Cougars. AD Pat Haden (e.g., a football star) hired Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield and the effort is a never-ending work in progress.

For USC fans, the goal every year is to win the Pac-12 and contest for the national championship, if not outright win the glass football. When it comes to basketball…Do USC fans really care? The answer is, not really.

Quick name a great Arizona quarterback since the Wildcats joined the now-Pac-12 conference in 1978?

How about a legendary Arizona football coach?

Sorry “Bear Down” disciples, Frank Kush coached for ASU. Even though Rich Rodriguez does not want to hear this: Arizona is a study of gridiron mediocrity. Even early erector-set Arizona Stadium makes one’s blood head north. This is NOT a must do college football experience.

lute

Now let’s talk McKale Center. Let’s remember Lute and Bobbie Olson. Let’s contemplate the 1997 NCAA title. Let’s dwell on the likes of Richard Jefferson, Miles Simon, Channing Frye, Salim and Damon Stoudamire, Luke Walton (UCLA Bill’s son) etc. Let’s visualize Arizona getting to the Final Four again this year (if they can make their free throws) with the likes of Aaron Gordon, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, T.J. McConnell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Coach Sean Miller has not made AzCat faithful forget Lute, but he is on the verge of starting a new Arizona dynasty in round ball.

Some things change, but more times than not, they stay the same. And when they change, it takes a long time. That certainly is the case for USC basketball and Arizona football.

A football school is a football school and a basketball school is a basketball school.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Bowl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina%E2%80%93Duke_rivalry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USC_Trojans_football

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Wildcats_men%27s_basketball

Soft Oregon?

Oregon Ducks fans are more rabid because there is nothing else to do in the state except watch ‘Portlandia.’” – author and New York City native, Buzz Bissinger.

Oregon is putrid against nationally ranked opponents. All the Ducks really do is feast on the poor, and suck it up against the rich.” – Harry Gerard “H.G.” Bissinger, III.

rosebowl

Leave it to the author of Friday Night Lights to mess up a magazine with heroin-chic Kate Moss on the cover.

Bissinger wants to bring back more concussions, blood and broken bones to college and professional football.

Yep, Buzz gave it to the Oregon Ducks from the comfort of his Manhattan digs in his From Butkus to Buttercup essay. BTW Bissinger III, OR-EE-GONE is located due west of the Hudson River…give or take two-or-three time zones to the west.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so rough on Buzz. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, Friday Night Lights, about Reagan-era football in West Texas.

And his reflection of the perception about Oregon football being soft is shared by others, particularly the talking heads on Bristol, Connecticut’s ES(SEC)PN.

Bissinger (not to be confused with Kissinger) offered that Baylor and Oregon have become “dirty words” in college football. Why?

Because they win?

Because they are both a blast to watch?

Substitute Oregon for Central Florida against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, and I guarantee you ES(SEC)PN ratings that will be higher than the astronomical figures on the scoreboard.

College football is immensely popular because of the breakneck speed in which it is now played. Huddles are so yesterday. Speed. Tempo, Excitement. New unis. New ways of thinking.

Bissinger and the purists want to go back to Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and three-yards and a cloud of dust. There is just something magical about watching a team break the huddle. The quarterback putting his hands on the center’s derriere. And then (gasp) handing off the ball to the burly fullback for a dive play…Yawn.

woodybo

If you want that kind of game, just watch Stanford vs. Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. There will be big burly linemen, packed like sardines on the line of scrimmage in which everyone in the stadium and on television knows what play will be run. The game will be as predictable as a root canal.

“Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly either revolutionized the game with the hurry-up, no-huddle offense every play or hastened the game’s absurdity, since the team looks like an amphetamine-induced ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon in which the beleaguered cat and its nemesis mouse wear green Speedos.” – Bissinger III in From Butkus to Buttercup.

buzz

That would be the same Chip Kelly, who has already doubled the number of wins for the Philadelphia Eagles with two games to go. These are the same Philadelphia Eagles that went 4-12 in 2012 and are now leading the NFC East at 8-6 with a big Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears on the docket.

Getting back to the notion that Oregon blows away the weak and crumbles before the smash-mouth crowd may be de rigueur with the Eastern Time Zone folks, who can’t stay up late for Oregon’s games. There are a few facts that belie this perception…Yes, yes, there is the adage about perception trumping reality. Sorry “putrid” does not apply unless you are talking about SEC non-conference “competition.”

● Oregon plays in the Pac-12 Conference, which mandates each team to play nine conference games. The SEC only requires its teams to play eight conference foes…which leaves a spot open for another cupcake game.  Let’s see…on November 23, Alabama walloped Chattanooga and South Carolina beat up on Coastal Carolina. West Carolina was not available that day as they had already played Auburn.

● Speaking of the SEC, Oregon ran all over Tennessee and its smash-mouth offensive and defensive lines, 59-14 at Autzen Stadium. This is the very same Tennessee team that later upset Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, 23-21.

● Oregon lost to Stanford this year and in 2012 in relatively close games. Keep in mind, Oregon blasted Stanford in Palo Alto, 53-30 in 2011, and 52-31 in Eugene in 2010, with Andrew Luck serving as Stanford’s quarterback.

● Finesse Oregon never wins the big games, particularly big physical teams. Really? Does the 2012 Rose Bowl 45-38 win against burly Wisconsin with Russell Wilson at QB and Montee Ball carrying the rock ring a bell? Oh…Wisconsin ran out of time, instead of Oregon winning. Is that what you are saying? Scoreboard baby, scoreboard.

● Guess beating USC twice consecutively in the LA Coliseum doesn’t count, 53-32 in 2010 and 62-51 in 2012. SC has never been considered to be a soft opponent and winning in LA is difficult. Ask Stanford. Ask Ohio State.

● Yes, Oregon lost the 2011 “Natty” on a last second field goal to Cam Newton’s Auburn, the 2010 Rose Bowl to Ohio State and the 2011 opener to LSU in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas. They easily could have scheduled Idaho on that date, but they didn’t. Wait…didn’t Florida State play Idaho this year…in Tallahassee? It was an 80-14 squeaker on November 23. I’m quivering just remembering where I was when I heard the score for the first time.

● For the quantitative types, Oregon is 56-9 in the last five years recording 10-wins or more in each of these seasons. This is the first year that a BCS Bowl game is not the reward for a great year. Not bad, not bad at all.

Even though ES(SEC)PN makes Game Day visits to Eugene (and I will give them credit for that), most of the Trilateral Commission for Global Domination by the Eastern Time Zone (TCGDETZ) can’t handle the team from Eugene, Oregon and they can barely tolerate the team from Waco, Texas (Baylor).

At least when the latter plays the folks in the midtown Manhattan bars don’t have to stay up so late.

http://www.buzzbissinger.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzz_Bissinger

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_Night_Lights:_A_Town,_a_Team,_and_a_Dream

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20755383,00.html

http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/team/coaches/chip-kelly/1e82ad7a-dd3c-4f69-be3c-8e0ee114e7f3

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/or-ee-gone/

 

“In Alabama, you can’t be for both. You have to choose. It’s either Alabama or Auburn. And once you choose, you are branded for life.” – Unknown Auburn fan

“Personnel? That’s for assholes!” – Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan

“I was in Personnel for 10 years.” – Bradford Dillman as Captain Jerome McKay

(Long pause)

“Yeah.” – Harry Callahan

eastwoodRecently, a fellow public relations graduate school classmate was excited about her prospects of landing a position with Intel Corporation.

The only problem was the job was in Human Resources (with all due respect to those in HR).

I couldn’t help but immediately think about Dirty Harry’s reaction about being reassigned to “Personnel” in the 1976 feature film, “The Enforcer.” This point is amplified by his one-syllable response to Captain McKay informing him about his 10-year tenure in what we now label: Human Resources or HR.

My serious concern for my academic colleague had absolutely nothing to do with the largest semiconductor company in the world, Intel, but the position itself. Instinctively, I took into account that jobs are precious in this lethargic economy, even at a time in which we are celebrating the nation’s unemployment rate “declining” to 7.7 this past November as more-and-more job seekers give up the hunt.

In particular, I urged caution to her about inadvertently heading down the path to pigeonholing. She could record 10 years in human resources and suddenly come to the realization that she is permanently dropped into the lethal “HR” bucket. If she subsequently wanted to shift her career back to public relations, marketing, advertising etc. — what she actually studied as an undergraduate and in grad school — she may find the doors closed for her because she is now permanently branded as a “HR” professional, similar to “The Evil Director of Human Resources, ‘Catbert,’” in the Dilbert cartoons.

catbert

Another example is one of my students, who was saddened that he lost out for a retail management trainee job for Macy’s. This may have been a blessing in disguise unless he really wanted to spend his life in retail, which very well could have been the result if he was “successful” in attaining this particular job.

The point of this epistle is that we live in an increasingly demographic world and there is no going back. Think about how everyone is worshipping at the altar of Barack Obama political guru David Axelrod because his team correctly projected that 72 percent of the electorate would be composed of white voters…a number too low to elect Mitt Romney.

The exercise was to identify single women, African Americans, Hispanics and young voters and target the GOTV campaign (Get Out The Vote) to these demographic groups in their respective buckets. Some of this segmentation is obvious: Males and females; married or single: young or old. And someone is always dividing and subdividing each subgroup into tiny slivers to determine buying and behavior patterns for political or monetary gain.

From the Census to Facebook, we are compulsively segmenting people whether we like it or not (e.g., privacy advocates). From the Spartans to the Athenians, the Hatfields to the McCoys, the North and the South, Red States and Blue States, Israelis and Palestinians, we have a long history of putting people into groups. In Alabama, it is the red and white of the Crimson Tide or the blue, orange and white of the Auburn Tigers. There is no straddling the fence in ‘Bama.

To many Sean Connery will always be James Bond. Simon Cowell will be the absolutely brutal talent judge on American Idol. Simon Bond will always be the guy who wrote, 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Reportedly, his subsequent books on any other subject were not accepted…he was always the “Dead Cat Guy.”

So does someone specifically trained in the verbal, written, digital media and communications choreography skills of public relations want to wake up one day and ask: ‘How did I become saddled in Human Resources?’ I am fearful that the lousy economy of today may result in some very painful and for the most part irreversible results a decade or more from now.

Should a graduate turn down a “position” in this crummy economy to avoid the dreaded pigeonhole? Or should that same graduate take a “job” to keep food on the table and gas in the tank, while continuing to search for the position that fits her or his career? This is a difficult predicament. And in many ways, it is an easy answer.

Choosing between Auburn and Alabama is tougher.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeonholing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGCMyF-sA58

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/101_Uses_for_a_Dead_Cat

http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Evil%20Catbert

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/business/economy/us-creates-146000-new-jobs-as-unemployment-rate-falls-to-7-7.html?_r=0

Shouldn’t we all have the right to proudly wear the colors of our favorite team and safely cheer them on to victory…regardless of the venue?

And consistent with this right are we also obligated, regardless of the outcome and emotional impact of the game, to treat those who freely choose to root for our opponents with respect, particularly if they wear their colors in your home stadium?

It is called civility…something that is an endangered species in American society and we are not just talking about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer or whatever sport immediately comes to mind.

And while we are embarking in this discussion are we really better people if our team wins? And conversely if our team comes up on the short-end of the scoreboard is that our personal defeat as well? After all it is only a game. We are not the ones tying on the cleats, applying the sun glare black or rubbing on pine tar. And yet to some fans…

Almost DailyBrett is exploring this subject because college football will be underway in about six weeks. This blog argues that college football is America’s most emotional game because in many cases the rivalries go back a century or more and the respective teams play a grand total of once in a given year. There are no best-of-sevens in college football.

Certainly good-natured ribbing and cajoling between fans of respective universities is just as much of a feature of Americana as tailgating, fight songs and cheerleaders. But what happens when the kidding becomes taunting? What happens when the effects of alcohol combine with rising testosterone levels? And what happens when violence seems to be the way to settle a score?

Take Alabama vs. Auburn, two schools separated by less than 200 miles. The so-called “Iron Bowl” between the two schools goes back to 1893. In the State of Alabama, you are either “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!”  Alabama won the BCS National Championship in 2010, and Auburn followed with a national title of its own this past January.

Growing up, I read about legendary Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, one of the greatest in the history of college football. Which brings this discussion to the stately oak trees at “Toomer’s Corner” in Auburn, Alabama. One of the traditions at Auburn is to “roll” the trees with TP to celebrate victories by the Auburn Tigers.

auburn

Following Auburn’s come-from-behind victory in this year’s Iron Bowl, an Alabama fan Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, called regional sports radio host Paul Finebaum to complain that Auburn students allegedly rolled Toomer’s Corner upon hearing the news of Bear Bryant’s passing. When the host doubted the story, Updyke then announced that he had poisoned two of the Toomer’s Corner 130-year-old oak trees with a deadly herbicide, Spike 80DF. “Do you think I care?” Updyke asked. “Roll Damn Tide!”

updyke

Updyke’s attorneys have entered an innocent plea to criminal mischief, but their client’s crowing about his misdeed on sports radio may be all the prosecution needs to put his crimson backside behind bars. Meanwhile, the trees are in mortal danger.

Even more revolting than the poisoning of defenseless trees that just happen to grow on the Auburn campus is the sickening attack this past March against a San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers beat the Giants that day, but that did not preclude a brutal attack on Stow, who ironically works for American Medical Response. Stow suffered significant brain damage and recently was upgraded from “critical” to “serious” condition at San Francisco General Hospital. A man with a prior felony record, Giovanni Ramirez, has been arrested in connection with the incident.

In this case, we are discussing baseball not football. We are also talking about one of the most long-standing and intense rivalries in professional sports going back to 1890 when the Giants were located in New York and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

It may be easy to try to dismiss the Toomer’s Corner and Chavez Ravine (home of Dodger Stadium) incidents as criminal and isolated. Yes and No. The real question is whether they are representative to the loss of civility in American society?

As I grew up, I occasionally heard the phrase, “Magnanimous in victory; gracious in defeat.” If you follow sports, politics, business etc. long enough you will celebrate your share victories and endure your share of defeats. Being able to respect the feelings of the “losers,” while at the same time offering congratulations to the “winners” is a sign of maturity.

When the actual contest is taking place, it is a wonderful release from the pressures of daily life to be able to cheer for your team. And you should be able to wear your team’s colors anyplace, anytime you want…and to accept with a smile good-natured ribbing. Having said that, there is no excuse for insults, violence and certainly no justification for criminal behavior. Here’s to hoping that (if guilty) Mr. Updyke and Mr. Ramirez each spend a long time in a very bad place (this is not equating trees to a human life, but criminal behavior with criminal behavior).

My biggest concern is what happens if criminal behavior, masked as fandom, gets completely out of control? Will someone bring a gun to a stadium and shoot a fellow fan or a player or coach on the field? I am sad to say this is not the first time this thought has crossed my mind. I have many times wondered how many of my fellow fans are armed and will intoxicants provide them with liquid courage? Can we imagine having to walk through magnetometers in order to go to a game? Preposterous? Just think about how airport security has changed in the last 10 years.

One way to cool everyone’s jets and reduce this awful possibility is to simply enjoy the game, and remember it is only a game…not life or death. And if your team wins? Great. And if your team loses? Oh well. Remember: You personally did not win. And you personally did not lose. The team that you are rooting for, won or lost. It’s not personal.

Sometimes we seem to forget that.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/sports/pro/baseball&id=8205448

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/sports/pro/baseball&id=8200676

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodgers%E2%80%93Giants_rivalry

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=6129272

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeW1ECI3PVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm8AqL9FV-o&NR=1

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2011/04/20/1547031/toomers-corner-tree-poisonings.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Bowl

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