Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Case For Clausen, Cocky Or Not


Apparently, Jimmy Clausen is too cocky.

Whatever that means.

Todd McShay says so, and that's the big rap going around now about the Notre Dame quarterback ahead of April's draft.

Too cocky.

Like what, exactly? Ryan Leaf cocky? Jay Cutler cocky?

I don't want my QB to be timid, that's for sure. So if that's the only real knock on Clausen, I will say I have no fears or qualms about my Redskins drafting him with the 4th overall pick.

Excuse me for a moment, but this is NOW a problem, when last year cocky-ass Mark Sanchez was instead re-labelled "presidential."

Let's just back up a minute, and ask ourselves: who had a better college career? Sanchez or Clausen?

Uh, huh. Right.

Emailer Tim Mudd from Highland, MD chimes in with the following...

TO: Czabe
FROM: Tim
RE: Clausen and 1st Round QBs

Czabe,

I heard your discussion yesterday on drafting a QB in the first round. Bradford will be gone so we are really discussing Clausen. Full Disclosure – I am a big ND fan. You can take that as a negative or think about the fact that I saw about 90% of his college passes. He is amazingly accurate – AMAZING! Think about Golden Tate. He went from being a running back to a descent WR to a Heisman Trophy Candidate on a team that was 6-6.

In fact that 6-6 team had 2 Heisman Trophy Candidates with Clausen being the other. Tate has good strong hands and the ability to get open but what made him special was his Yards After Catch. Clausen made this possible through his accuracy and hitting Tate in stride rather than throwing slightly behind him or making him dive. To me this is what separates him from many. Turing a 6 yard slant into a 12 yard gain. Turning a 12 yard out into a crucial 3rd and 9 conversion. Hitting that 40 yard bomb in stride for a 60 yard TD!

Rather than a 1st and 10 from the 20 and settling for a FG. This is what makes a difference in the NFL – moving the chains and scoring TDs. Not settling for a FG or coming up a yard short on 3rd and 7. This accuracy will lead to that extra yard on 3rd down and lead to the big time pass on 3rd and long. Clausen had little to no running attack. There were no 1,000 yard RBs during his tenure.

In his first 2 years the longest run from scrimmage was 27 yards. His OL?? Gave up 58 sacks his freshman year. He matured and learned the mental clock and when to throw the ball away.

His Sophomore year he threw them away to the other team – 17 INTs and his Junior year he threw them out of bounds – only 4 INTs. I don’t have a stat on this one, but I would bet that he threw at least 3-5 balls out of bounds a game. Why is this important? 289 completions in 425 attempts. 68%!! If he threw 4 balls away a game (I would bet it was higher) then only 377 of the attempts were really intended for a receiver. That translates into 77% completion rate!

Thinking back to his Sophomore year with those 17 Interceptions. He had 25 TDs, 17 INTs for 3172 yards on 60.8% completion percentage and a passer rating of 132.49.

Here are Matt Ryan’s SENIOR year stats. 31 TDs, 19 INTs, 4507 yards, 59.3% and a 127.04 passer rating. He threw the ball 624 times – Clausen only 440 so that is the big difference in yards. Remember – I am comparing Clausen’s Sophomore numbers to Ryan’s Senior numbers. Clausen’s Junior numbers are ridiculous when compared to these. 28 TDs, 4 INTs, 3722 yards, 68% and 161.43 passer rating.

All this on 15 fewer passes than his Sophomore year.

Clausen is the real deal.

The Redskins are not going to turn this thing around in a year. Campbell is not the answer and neither is a rookie QB. So I look to 2011. Clausen will have a year under his belt. He will have a younger and healthier and better OL around him through this year’s draft and next year’s draft. Our WR core will be a little stronger and perhaps we will have a young RB as well. If we build the OL this year and draft Jake Locker next year for example to be our guy…we will be looking at 2012 as we cannot expect much from a rookie QB in 2011.

Now is the time to grab a franchise QB. How often do you get to pick in the top 5? I hope not a lot.

You cannot be gun shy because you busted on Shuler. Look at Manning, Brees, Favre, McNabb, Rivers, Palmer, Rogers, Sanchez and Flacco – All playoff QBs – 9 of the 12 playoff QBs were drafted 33rd or higher – in fact 4 of these guys were drafted in the top 5. Seize the moment.

It is time to get a QB for the next decade.

REACT: Sober, thoughtful analysis. I'm ready to pull the trigger. Let's do this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Groggy, I Am Very, Very Groggy



That's pretty much how I feel right now, and we are a full 24 hours after leaving Vegas!

I'm still recovering, so bear with me, people.

What a weekend. Absolutely A++ in my book, and I have been going to Vegas for March Madness now for 12 years straight.

There's a BIG update here coming with even more photos, but I wanted to start with something to get everybody going.

Let me start by thanking profusely Michael Larragueta of the Palazzo, and his right hand man Roger Reveyrand for hosting our Czabe.com excursion for Year #2 of hopefully many more to come. Also, thanks to Juliet Huong for being our VIP Hostess-With-The-Mostess and PR specialist Ashley Farkas for arranging Bobby Knight and Billy Packer to stop by for interviews. Also, I can't say enough about John Feld at Cramer-Krasselt Public Relations for bringing AirTran on board for flights. Thanks to Joe Sands for providing top flight engineering for our radio broadcasts.

Soooo... what happened?

Nothing. You don't need to know... NOTHING!

Just kidding.

If you want good stories, well then, you'll just have to join us next year and make some of your own!


No, not the Nevada House of Ho's, that would be someplace else. I bet they get plenty of crank calls.

The caption for this picture should read: "Czabe angrily asks Gitter: 'Who the hell said we should play 72 holes of golf!!? Brian Thiet in the middle says: 'Don't look at me, it was you two golf nerds!'"

Andy Pollin and Scott Linn (backround) watch a game of pool in the VIP room where we watched the games. Andy went 3-1 on his NCAA wagers! Sweet action!

Scott "Mayor" Quimby and his crew take in the fact that mom and dad do not follow you around Vegas asking: "How much have you had to drink?"

AND MORE TO COME.... bear with me!

(TOP PHOTO: Bobby Knight and Billy Packer join Czabe and Andy at Lagasse's Sportsbook for some pre-game analysis.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Rule Only Phil Luckett Will Love


Good to know that with the NFL's billion-dollar-gravy-train heading for a lockout cliff in a mere 11 months, the owners and competition committee have agreed to change the menu in the dining car to include a new soup appetizer called "Overtime Reform."

I can see how satisfied fans will be in 2011, with no games on Sunday, saying: "Well, at least these games which we are definitely NOT watching right now, won't be determined by some bogus overtime where a soccer-style fairy kicks a winning field goal after a decidedly un-manly 35 yard drive by the team that won the coin flip."

The rule has been in place for 36 years. Between 1974 and 1993, 46.8 percent of overtime games were won by the coin-flip winner. Since 1994, it's 59.8 percent.

What happened in 1994? The kickoff was moved from the 35 back to the 30, and kickers became wicked accurate over the years.

Well, so what?

How do we know this trend of coin-flip winners won't swing back to the middle again on it's own? Averaging the before and after numbers, it's a 54-46 split which isn't any great outrage.

Besides, the overtime sample of total games is too small, in my opinion to know for sure what has caused the trend.

So now, we have a convoluted, post-season only (for now), "solution" to something that wasn't really a "problem" in anybody's mind but Peter King and aggrieved Viking fans on message boards.

Speaking of King, the guy is amazing. He's super connected, right? He's one of the "premiere" NFL journalists out there, right? He's got a good bead on what's happening, yes?

Not exactly.

On Tuesday, (that would be, um, ONE DAY earlier) King said the proposal wouldn't pass. King: "I don't think this is the year. McKay's making progress, but I spoke to three team officials at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes who aren't ready to support change."

Wide right, Pete. Good work.

Funny thing is, the coaches are apparently pissed about this. Why? For one, they weren't really consulted, which they seldom are on competition issues. Secondly, it will add another layer of "This Coach Is A Mouth Breathing Idiot!" decisions that will haunt coaches on sports radio and TV.

Example: Team A drives ball in overtime down to the 5 yard line. 1st and goal. Three runs later, ball is still at the two. Kick field goal, and hold? Throw for touchdown and go-home-everybody win? What if it's 3rd and goal and you pass, and your QB throws a pick? What if you kick a field goal, and the other team marches down and scores a touchdown to win and shove it up your pussy coach's ass?

The answer to all of these scenarios is: "The coach is an idiot."

No wonder they hate it. We here in "Couch Nation" always know the right decision.

Because we make it on Monday.

I must also point out, that Team B, which did not win coin-flip, but sees Team A kick field goal (fucking cowards!) now has FOUR downs to play with all the way down the field until they too must decide if they want to kick a field goal to tie and extend game further (fucking pussies, you better go for it!).

Let's say Team B is coached by the biggest pussy ever. (Norv). He kicks field goal to extend game. Teams then trade halting, futile drives that end in four consecutive punts.

They are now holding the following playoff game from starting, because we are 14:53 into extended overtime which (with injuries and timeouts and Viagra commercial #732 on the day) has translated into an extra hour. You have been drinking all day at the stadium, are freezing your ass off, and ready to rip the other teams heads off, and we're all waiting for Norv to call a semi-risky deep pass to win the damn game.

Super.

If they stupidly apply this to the regular season, I can easily see TIES going up. That should make Donovan McNabb unhappy, and a little bit confused.

I can also predict something else: much more boring end-of-regulation strategy. A team with the ball and :53 left on their own 40, will likely knees (if allowed by lack of timeouts on the other side) than risk crushing turnover.

Since overtime now ensures you will at least touch the ball, this allows coaches (wussies) to kick the "Don't Be An Idiot" can down the road a little.

Lastly, how about this. What if - for reasons we can't untangle - coin flip winners under the new rule, actually INCREASE their winning percentage!

Can't happen? You don't know, and neither do I.

In the meantime, even Morely Safer is tapping his wrist watch, and looking pretty pissed off.

A dumb idea all around, but hey, the league is going to self-destruct in a year anyway. Why should I care?

It's their league. I just bet on it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

November 2, 2010


You know my biggest problem with so called “Health Care Reform?”

The name.

It’s wrong.

This has nothing to do with actual health CARE. We as a nation, already have the finest health CARE on the planet. This is why even high level elected politicians from supposed health care utopias like Canada, routinely come south to America for life saving operations.

No, this is really “Health Insurance Reform.”

Or really, “Health Insurance Entitlement Reform.”

Or, let me take one last whack at it: “Health Insurance Entitlement Expansion.”

There.

You can’t refute that, even if you were for Obama and Pelosi’s hideous legislative mutant they pushed out on Sunday after 18 months of labor. If you are for it, you will say it’s morally right, it will be affordable, and that it will make the health care industry in America better over the long run.

You are also smoking crack, but I can’t help you with that.

This thing won’t save us money, it won’t work as advertised, and it won’t ever become popular. And it sure as hell won’t be a political plus for Democrats.

The numbers are simple. Some 30 million people will get “coverage.” (Two notes: A) Not until 2014, so sit tight, kids. B) Wait until they find out “coverage” doesn’t mean they’ll actually see a doctor who can help them in a timely fashion.) They are technically, the “winners” in this. The other 277 million Americans will be “losers” in this. Their taxes will go up, job creation will be given another crushing gut punch, and premiums will continue to rise.

Oh, and they’ll wait longer to see their doctor. That is, IF their doctor doesn’t take an early retirement. Which many will. Just watch.

Yet somehow, Nancy Pelosi thinks that “once we pass it, the public will like it.” Spoken like the arrogant botoxed San Francisco nitwit-granny she is. I for one, will never, ever, ever – in a trillion years – like a law that says I MUST purchase something or face tax penalties, or jail.

I am not alone.

But back to words, and what they mean. When you can actually change what words mean in the public debate, you can execute spectacular frauds on an uneducated public. If Democrats had started by stating plainly that they wanted to enact “Health Insurance Entitlement Expansion” this thing would have gotten nowhere.

So you start changing what words really mean. Health “care” is used instead of “insurance.”

And insurance is not insurance, it’s really a free basket of medical goodies at somebody else’s expense.

As a true “insurance” problem, health care is not that complicated. Fifty years ago, actual private health insurance was just that. They were policies written to hedge against catastrophic, nest-egg obliterating illnesses. Yet over the decades, health “insurance” has morphed into the Ceasar’s buffet of medicine.

In a perfect world, I would love to purchase a simple “catastrophic” policy for me and my family. I’d like to be able to opt-out of my employer insurance, pocket the cash it costs the company to provide that, pay taxes on it, and never again worry about “what happens if I lose my job?”

I’d like to be able to shop dozens of companies in any state in the country for it, and have a deductible in the $50,000 range. God forbid I run into some nasty disease, but even at that number, between savings, credit cards, friends and family, we’d be able to make it through, and pay off that deductible once I beat back my near death illness. If I die, problem solved. Life insurance.

Everything else, I pay for.

Like your homeowners insurance. That basically covers your house burning to the ground, or getting lifted off its slab and dropped 2 states away by a tornado. It doesn’t cover light bulbs, HVAC maintenance, painting, new windows, or plumber’s calls after hours on a Sunday.

Do you think homeowners “insurance” might be astronomical if it did?

Yet that is exactly what health “insurance” has become. I just saw where Virginia, my state, failed to root out Viagra as covered under state workers’ “insurance” plans. They tried, but just couldn’t do it. Those state worker drones want their boner pills, baybee, and they ain’t gonna pay for ‘em.

Good to know my taxes, will be paying for that.

All through Obama’s 50-state tour of lies, whoppers, and cherry-picked medical sob stories, you always heard about “Mrs. Jones, who has cancer, and lost her insurance, and is in danger of losing her life savings, and being kicked out of her house.”

Okay, so let’s fix THAT, then.

But no, instead the fight has been all about EXPANDING the myriad medical “conditions” that are covered by “insurance.” Like abortion, gastric bypass surgery, or psychiatric counseling for example. Whatever your opinion of the merits or morals of these kind of things are, have you ever heard Obama tell the story of “Mrs. Smith, who needs her third abortion, has lost her insurance, and is in danger of losing her house?”

No. Because these medical procedures are merely expensive. They don’t bankrupt people.

They are also procedures of choice. You can give birth and give your child up for adoption (the line in this country is around the block on that), you can eat less and exercise more (ever seen The Biggest Loser? There’s no such thing as “too fat” to exercise!), and you can take a deep look at why you are unhappy, and whether or not that Xanax prescription is really the answer.

So instead of giving most of “responsible America” reform that would be a wonderful lightening of the financial load, Obama and Pelosi are giving us the opposite.

That, and another 16,500 IRS agents in charge of enforcement.

Oh, happy day!

So they pushed the nuclear plunger. It doesn’t mean it’s over. No, it’s just beginning. Because the backlash and unintended negative consequences are about to come washing ashore.

I take solace in the fact that this will be Pelosi’s last significant act in political life. She’s back to being an obscure San Francisco trinket in the house after the November Republican tsunami, and Harry Reid will be home doing the laundry. Pyrrhic victory in pocket, they will have awoken the sleeping bear.

They say “there’s no way the Republicans will ever be able to repeal it.”

Oh, yeah? Just like “there will never be a black president in our lifetime” or “you can’t beat the Clinton Machine” or “no Republican will ever win Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat?”

Lifetime eligibility for welfare was repealed under Clinton, prohibition was repealed, the stamp act was repealed. Things get repealed all the time. This will be another.

Even Medicare and Social Security will face a de-facto repeal in the coming years: they're out of money!

Right now, nothing is impossible. Nothing. Did anyone ever think the United States would actually go bankrupt? No? Well that’s happening. It’s only a matter of picking what year it is.

And if come 2013 there’s a Republican president sitting atop thin Republican majorities in the Senate and the House, then we know now it’s perfectly okay to jam through highly partisan legislation by any means necessary.

Thanks, Nancy.

You should never give a whole bunch of really pissed off people a cause. Makes them extremely motivated, and focused.

So let's see. The approval rating of our beloved Teleprompter King has fallen below 50%. The opposition to this bill finished at 59% in the polls. Pelosi's approval rating is 11% and Harry Reid 8%. Unemployment is pegged at 10% with no signs of abating, and our national debt, even before this monstrosity, had already thrown another TRILLION on the pile.

It's like Democrats have a political death wish. And I, for one, can't wait to help make that wish a reality.

President Lincoln once said: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”

Better yet, was a sign at a recent rally: “Shove it down our throats now, we’ll shove it up your ass in November.”

See you at the ballot box.

Monday, March 22, 2010

You Can Go Home Again


The statline at the end of the first half, was gruesome. Gauchos: 7-28 shooting.

Seven blocked shots.

Actually, I counted 10 myself, from my courtside seat. But when you make the NCAA Tournament like clockwork every 8-12 years, no need to quibble.

Ohio State was superior. Smothering. Totally out of our league in every way.

Still, I was proud of the fellas. Proud to see the ol’ UCSB name and logo in the Big Dance brackets once again. And I am glad I got off my ass to get up to Milwaukee to see them in person.

First, some thanks. In no particular order: Lucas Lenoble of Marquette’s Sports Information Department. I appreciated the chance to be a (mostly) non-working media moocher on Friday. Jim Reichart of Midwest Airlines. A smooth flight each way non-stop from DCA-to-MKE. Still a great airline. Eric Gitter, my chauffeur. Sorry about the late nite beers at Leff’s Luckytown which prevented any chance of a decent rest before your Taylor Made demo day in the snow. Yes, snow! And of course, Bob (really, Deb) Madden for the bed and the ride to the airport.

Okay, on to the Milwaukee subregional. Did I mention Ohio State worked our ass? I did? Oh. Well, at least this Gaucho team - that won the a. Coach of the Year b. Player of the Year and c. Big West Conference tournament and regular season – returns ALL of their key players for 2011.



I might well be making a sub-regional trip again next March.

You see, the last time the Gauchos were in the Dance was 2002, and they played hard but lost to Arizona.

Prior to that, it was 1990. I was a senior. Writing for the school paper, I travelled to a Knoxville sub-regional that included…

a. Steve Smith and Michigan State
b. Popeye Jones and Murray State that almost pulled a 1-16 shocker vs. MSU
c. Shaq, Stanley Roberts, and Chris Jackson of LSU.
d. Rollie Massimino and Villanova.

The Gauchos rolled Houston, and then took Michigan State to the bitter end before losing. And THAT, my friends, concludes “Great Tournament Moments in UC Santa Barbara History.”

Once upon a time, long long ago, the “Big West” conference was part of “Big Monday” on ESPN where they went from Big East, to Big Ten, to Big West with a weekly triple header. Because UNLV was good (sometimes, great) and because UCSB’s 6,000 seat home gym (a big bleachered box, really) was so ear-splitting loud (aka: “The Thunderdome”) we often made that ESPN triple header.

You can’t buy recruiting power like that.

Somewhere along the way, however, ESPN exploded into Big Monday, Super Tuesday, Whopping Wednesday, Thrilling Thursday and basically only took a rest from college hoops on Friday for the NBA.

Then the WAC and Mountain West came and raided some good schools and rivals outside of California. (Fresno, New Mexico State, UNLV, Utah State).

So the Gauchos under Bob Williams – a very good coach and pleasant professional in his 12th year – are operating on the fringes of the college basketball universe.


Sadly, I’m not sure we can ever get back to the days when the program could stop a juggernaut like UNLV. (You know, we WERE the last team to beat the Runnin’ Rebs before they went 13 months without losing a game. It was us at home in February of 1990, then Duke in the Final Four in March of 1991.)

As I watched the boys struggle to even breathe against a much larger Ohio State team, I started to wonder how we rate against programs like Butler, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s. I wonder, how can Cornell be such giant killers, and we looked like a just very good rec league team?

I talked to some good friends who are still in the Gaucho family. Notably SID Bill Mahoney and associate AD Tom Hastings. They generally agreed. The conference needs to do something. Get big, get small, change names, re-organize, something. More national TV opportunities would be nice, but how do you get them these days?

Unfortunately, there are more programs on the verge of doing what Gonzaga did, in becoming essentially a “Major Mid-Major”.

I still believe UCSB is a relatively easy sell to a recruit. Beachside campus. Good academics. Pretty girls. Sunshine. More than adequate facilities. Rockin’ home gym when the team is good.

Well, either way, I’m proud of the program regardless. The “glory days” of 1988 and 1990 are indeed long gone. UNLV is not coming back as the national power and conference arch rival that helped fuel the program.

But the team scrapped its ass off against the Buckeyes. Sure, Jon Diebler made something like 39 three-pointers against us, and I am convinced that dude Dallas Lauderdale is older than Greg Oden was when he played in Columbus. I’m guessing 31.

Sour grapes.

It was good to get out of the house, to support the school I very much loved, and to see some really good basketball from the second row. And to see friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade, to know that they are still thriving in the athletic department, and to remember great times and stories from yesteryear was simply priceless.

I admitted to Mahoney that part of me was hesitant about showing up. Why? Well, it sort of smacked of front running, in my own mind. I have only been back to campus once in 20 years after graduation. I have not spoken with hardly anybody since then.

I am an East Coast guy, plain and simple. What idiot would go to school in Santa Barbara, California, get a great broadcasting job after college and spend 3 more years there - and THEN go back to the friggin' East Coast?

Me. I'm that idiot. What can I say. I think it's a disorder.

I said I could understand if those in the program who have remained would view me as somebody who had snubbed his alma mater. It’s not true. It’s just geography and well, life. They are on one side of the continent, I am on the other. And I don’t have much business reason to get up from LA to Santa Barbara.

Yet I was the only Gaucho media luminary to post. Jim Rome wasn’t there. Josh Elliot of ESPN wasn’t there. So, ha!

Luckily, if I was seen as an east coast interloper who had rejected his Gaucho heritage, I didn’t feel it at all. In fact, I said I was going to organize a 20th Reunion back in Santa Barbara. Right now, June will mark the official 20th anniversary of my cap and gown, so I better get crackin!

Facebook, here I come!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Beers and wings with the fellas, between afternoon and evening sessions.


Me and Sports Information Director Bill Mahoney.


Me and longtime UCSB basketball beat writer Mark Patton of the Santa Barbara News Press.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gargantu-Bracket Is Here! Behold....


... and tremble beneath it's utter awesomeness!!! Thanks again to Bradley Turner, who put the spreadsheet and PDF muscle behind this. A labor of love, and we owe him greatly. Last year, I said I wanted a bracket that had EVERYTHING!

Brad Turner, real American Hero, built it!

Now don't overthink this people. The higher seeds usually win. That is normal. That's how it's supposed to go.

HORIZONTAL



VERTICAL



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

And since you can never have enough handy, one-sheet charts and such, I have included my personal "cheat sheet" with all the pertinent info and a little note nugget on each team.



And then there was this little gem...

Steve,

Here is a spreadsheet that shows when the games are on also what other games are on at the same time. This is especially handy for the first two days with so many games and guys strategizing when to be "sick" or "out of the office."

Note, since I live in KC, all times are converted to central.

Also, my sales job sucks without my daily Czabe fix on XM. damn them. I think I'm going to quit.

Enjoy!
Brian LaForge




>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE!!!!

Let it be known, here is my OFFICIAL bracket! I don't have any other versions floating around, this ONE is it! Feel free to print, enter, and win your pool! You can thank me later, or not at all!

Memo To Wall Street: Suck It!


If you watched 60 Minutes on Sunday, you probably saw the piece on author Michael Lewis and his latest book, "The Big Short."

Incredible stuff.

Makes me want to go beat the living crap out of anybody who works at either Standard and Poor or Moody's. To me, those guys were the Tim Donaghy's of this whole thing. The referees of the game, who should have at least blown the whistle many years back on what was happening, to at least slow down the runaway train that was about to jacknife into flames. But first, let's take our own medicine.

There are plenty of "villains" to go around in the sub-prime housing crisis, that turned into the AIG meltdown, that prompted the massive government bailout, that will be paid by all of us for decades and decades.

And we can start by pointing the fingers at ourselves, the average consumer.

We too, were pigs at the trough.

We (and I don't mean literally all of us, just a collective "we") were the ones who took out home equity loans on inflated house values that were too good to be true. We bought larger and larger houses with exotic mortgages that would have been considered pure voodoo back in our father's day. We were the ones who thought we could be Donald Trump in our spare time, and flip condo after condo in Miami. We were the ones who signed papers without asking good questions, or considering the consequences. We were the ones who willfully lied about our income on applications.

So I'll be the first to admit that we are hardly innocents.

That said, I am not sure I ever want to purchase another stock, mutual fund, or other Wall Street investment instrument ever again. Not after the 60 Minutes piece.

I'd rather "invest" in catfish farms or rare stamps before I throw money at anything which includes a "prospectus."

Not that it matters, but for disclosure sake, I did not lose any substantial amount of money in the stock market because of this. And while my family and I moved during the dying days of the whole funny-mortgage mania of 2007, it was a move that was made for wholly different reasons, that still resulted in a nice little bit of real estate profit from the sale of our previous (and likely overvalued) house.

I also like to fancy myself an ardent fan of capitalism, and somebody who does not begrudge any millionaires (or billionaires) who are in my midst.

But like many Americans, it is hard to be convinced that what most of Wall Street does isn't just pure bullshit. A sort of "Casino Capitalism" in which "they" can never lose. Especially when the government rushes in to make AIG and Goldman Sachs whole when they should have all been left to walk home from Manhattan in barrels held up by suspenders. Yeah I blame Bush. And I blame Obama for hiring the same asshats who built the financial doomsday machine in the first place.

Oh yeah, I know. Letting those assclowns fail would have been more painful than the expensive taxpayer cure. I've heard that one. I'm not smart enough to know if its true. Still sounds like bullshit to me. Besides, maybe letting everybody's 401k bleed out to nearly nothing would have been the kind of wake up call this country needs. At least set the precedent to Wall Street: "You want to pay one guy $100 million a year, just because he sat on a pile of cash worth $10 billion, and turned it into $20 billion with indecipherable high-finance voodoo? Ooohhhhkay.... but you are on your own, if the whole thing comes up crap-sevens."

Back to the 60 Minutes piece. In there, Steve Kroft produces a singularly spectacular moment of interview journalism. While talking to the one-eyed Asperger Syndrome doctor who made $970 million by betting against all this insanity, Kroft led him into a question that left the good doc literally speechless.

When Kroft asked how the guy knew that these mortgage backed securities were becoming toxic junk, he said, innocently, "I started reading the prospectuses." When Kroft asked why that wasn't the job of places like Moody's and Standard and Poor's, the doc said "well, there was so much stuff being issued I don't see how they could keep track of it all."

Kroft: "But, you're just one guy....."




The doc just locked up, in silence. Kroft was right. This was once of the most amazing stories in modern capitalist history.

And Lewis focuses on the 12-20 investors who dared to bet the "Don't Pass" line at the Wall Street craps table back in the 2000's when it came to mortgage backed bonds. That's right, 12-20 people TOTAL! Versus millions of others, and every major institution that was stampeding the other way, right off the financial cliff.

Meanwhile, I know how many folks will email me to say: "You know, Czabe, 'buy and hold' is the best long term strategy. History has shown, that only solid, diversified investment in the market can safely outpace inflation."

Heard that one. I'm not so impressed anymore.

I feel like telling Wall Street: "Go play with your own money. I'm gonna build that catfish farm."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hello, Larry


Larry Johnson is a Redskin.

Only about 4 years late. But hey, we'll take him.

Funny what a change in regime will do to perspective. If Snyder-atto were still running the show, I would be howling at the moon over this signing. So too, would most of Redskin Nation.

Instead, I'm going to call it: brilliant.

Why? No particular reason, other than that it is a move made by the Shan-allen-han regime. The guy is old, broken down, a cancer, and a rough duplication of the power back that Portis has become.

It makes no sense to me, the money seems overly generous, and I absolutely hate his off-field persona.

So, great signing. I mean that.

This is now like the "Opposite George" episode of Seinfeld.

In an uncapped year, we all figured Dan Snyder would have purchased by now the following. Julius Peppers, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Terrell Owens.

Instead, we've got a guard, a Tongan nose tackle, a blocking tight end I've never heard of, and now Larry Washedup.

I'm going with the flow here. In Shan-allen-han I trust. This is such a refreshing change of strategy, I feel like a dog who just had the back seat window rolled down.

There's some motivational logic here too. How to you best combat a diva-like running back bitch in your lockeroom? Bring in another one just like him!

Sure, Johnson doesn't dress up like Portis once did, but he'll complain about just about everything else. So I can't wait to hear what both men will say publicly about the prospect of sharing carries.

The one thing both guys know is this: under a Shanahan offense (father or son) the running backs are going to eat! So don't lose your line in the buffet!

Portis will take this one of two ways. He'll either get demoralized early in the off-season, let Johnson pass him, and then sulk out of town. Or, he'll bow up and have the best camp of his life in order to keep his gig in the backfield.

Win, meet win.

Plus, there's statistical logic to the move also. Jason Reid of the Washington Post points out the following.

Portis has more carries (2176-1421)and more receptions (242-151) than Johnson, despite being younger. He's also played 8 seasons compared to 7 for Johnson. In the last 4 years, Portis has missed 16 games to injury, Johnson, 14.

In Johnson's last meaningful season, 2008, he played 12 games and had a 4.5 yard per carry average. By comparison, Portis last topped 4.5 a carry his 2nd and final year in Denver.

So improbably, the Skins turned the clock BACK with this signing, not forward.

As of Sunday afternoon, I had not yet heard what "Coach Hankey Jankey" thought of the Johnson signing. But I certainly can't wait.

It's a whole new world Clinton. Welcome to it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Run Away Huskies


I'm not sure if I should be proud, or ashamed.

I have said that UConn's utter dominance of women's college hoops (71 in a row and counting... yawn) is utterly BAD for the game.

Now, Christine Brennan agrees.

Let it be said, I am fond of Christine personally, even though I find some of her knee-jerk feminist opinions on sports to be groan inducing and predictable.

Yet when Christine begins her USA Today column thusly: "I'm worried about women's basketball" I sit up and take notice.

I'm right, and she's right. What Geno Auriemma is doing in Storrs these days certainly can't be criticized - he's not cheating. At the same time, it merits only the smallest of golf claps.

And please don't start making the UCLA men's program comparison as they approach that consecutive wins number.

UConn has so much amassed firepower in terms of talent, they could theoretically keep winning like this for another 3 years before a hiccup.

And how do they get so many great players, many of which must sit on the bench for at least a year when they would be starters on another program?

In large part, I believe, because of television.

Yes, they show other teams than UConn on cable. But only the Lady Huskies seem to matter. Especially to the 800 pound TV gorilla nearby in Bristol: ESPN.

Connecticut being a very parochial state, proud of their own, has the World Wide Leader eager to pump up and hype UConn at any chance, while the rest of the women's hoop universe has to scrap for whatever is left.

When UConn broke their own consecutive wins mark, SportsCenter LEAD the show with an 11 minute package on it!

Eleven minutes!

I know the flip response to this would be: "Hey, when Texas Tech goes 71 straight, they'll get the same treatment."

Oh sure they will.

Great high school players decided to go to UConn and share minutes, because they are the Yankees of the NCAA. And mom and dad have a decent chance of seeing their highlights or reading about them in USA Today.

This advantage - undeniable - is one that Auriemma is right to leverage to the fullest.

That doesn't mean the NCAA should just turn a blind eye. I don't quite know what they can do, but it would be in their interest to give it some thought.

Few fans realize, but the NCAA has arcane restrictions on things like the number of full color pages allowed in a media guide. They have this, to ensure that Kentucky doesn't have a media guide that looks like a beautiful Time-Life hardback, while Bowling Green has a media guide that looks like it came from Kinko's.

Seems silly, but it's something the NCAA has kept an eye on.

Just like TV. I had forgotten, but my sports/anti-trust guru Skip Oliva reminds me of the struck-down 1984 NCAA "television plan" that would have radically curtailed TV appearance discrepancies among programs.

Writes Skip...

From the Court's decision in NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (1984):

"The interest in maintaining a competitive balance among amateur athletic teams that the NCAA asserts as a further justification for its television plan is not related to any neutral standard or to any readily identifiable group of competitors. The television plan is not even arguably tailored to serve such an interest. It does not regulate the amount of money that any college may spend on its football program or the way the colleges may use their football program revenues, but simply imposes a restriction on one source of revenue that is more important to some colleges than to others. There is no evidence that such restriction produces any greater measure of equality throughout the NCAA than would a restriction on alumni donations, tuition rates, or any other revenue-producing activity. Moreover, the District Court's well-supported finding that many more games would be televised in a free market than under the NCAA plan, is a compelling demonstration that the plan's controls do not serve any legitimate procompetitive purpose."

LAST ADD, OLIVA:
Now, the "television plan" here was pretty draconian. The NCAA controlled all members' television rights and limited each school to six television appearances (and no more than four national television appearances) per season. Obviously, this was pre-ESPN.


So there's likely no reeling in UConn until Auriemma steps down, at the earliest. Sure does make you yearn for the days when Pat Summitt had the horses to run with Geno

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sports Moments That Need Animation



I don't know why crude video-game style animations of random stories in the US news cycle by Taiwanese programmers so tickles my funny bone.

But they do. Every time.

Perhaps it is the scrambling, rat-a-tat-tat cadence of the Chinese voice-over. Perhaps it is me visualizing some dude sitting in front of a computer saying to his co-worker: "I don't know. Maybe we should make Elin's face look more angry as she smashes out that back window? Click-click-click. Yeah, like that. Super pissed. Perfect!"



Maybe it is the attempt to actually animate a rather obtuse story.

Like the latest edition, a kerfuffle over the mascot at Ole Miss. In case you didn't know, dem racist cracka's down in Oxford have decided to deep six ol' Col. Reb in favor of "Mystery Mascot 2k10."

Naturally, somebody thought a "fan poll" would be a good start in their search for a replacement.

Awful idea.

That produced an instant front runner in the form of Star Wars fish/commander Admiral Ackbar. University officials have quickly doused any notion that this will actually happen, but that didn't stop the Chinese animators!




Fabulous, isn't it?

And I thought they couldn't out-do themselves on sorting out the whole "Jay Leno vs. Conan O'Brien" late night TV fight.



Which gets me to thinking. What famous, fucked up stupid/bizarre sports stories over the years that we do NOT have any live footage of, deserve the Chinese animator treatment?

Here are a few to get the conversation started. You people can help add some more.

Kobe's hotel encounter in Eagle, Colorado.
Bob Knight stranding Texas Tech's AD at the salad bar in a fight.
Latrell Sprewell going Homer Simpson on PJ Carlissimo's neck.
The Nancy Kerrigan clubbed-knee attack.
Brett Favre scooping loose vicodin's out of his vomit.
Mike Vick trying to sneak weed in a bottle onto an airplane.

And the possibilities, they are endless!

Have at it, boys and girls!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'd Buy One Tomorrow


While I am not downplaying what appear to be legitimate engineering troubles at Toyota, I am also amused at anybody who wants to engage in Toyota bashing.

I have typically been more of a Honda guy (Accords, Acura TL's) than Toyota, but I have always held their product quality in the highest esteem. My one foray to their side of the Japanese car aisle, was quite enjoyable.

I owned one of the original Lexus IS300's and it was absolutely orgasmic in terms of driving fun. Never had a problem with it either.

So yeah, I'd buy a new Toyota or Lexus tomorrow despite all of the recall stuff going on.

Roy Exum writes an excellent piece in the Chattanoogan.com about Toyota's issues, and how Congress has been piling on. Writes Exum...

Right now Toyota is processing 50,000 recalled vehicles a day, somewhat easily, too, I might add. To do so, their dealers are loaning cars while repairs are being made, paying rental fees and even taxi receipts. The simple fact is that never in the history of the auto industry has there been such an intense response. General Motors, on the other hand, will not offer a similar assistance program to the 1.3 million owners in this latest recall because, quite frankly, it doesn't have the clout nor the "want to" that Toyota does right now.

Listen to this - J.D. Power has just announced the best luxury car in the world right now is a Lexus, the premium brand of Toyota that just dominated four of J.D. Power's five main categories. This week Consumer Reports, not a government agency but one of the most respected quality-assurance sources in our country, returned eight different Toyota models to its "recommended" list. Go ahead, look it up. While you're at it, buy the Consumer Reports' car annual; you'll see for yourself Toyota is a tight No. 3 overall while GM and Chrysler are solidly "dead last."


Even if you aren't a big fan of the Toyota-Lexus brand, it's hard not to notice what a push Hyundai has made in terms of quality - and yes, luxury - vehicles.

Shame, because I am damn sure that American know-how is still quite capable of making great cars. In fact, Ford, which passed on the bailout money, finally pulled its head out its truck-obsessed ass and put some ooomph into re-launching Taurus brand.

From what I've read, the new Taurus is nothing short of awesome. A higher-end sports sedan that has all the bells and whistles, and competes quite nicely with my current Acura TL.

Do I expect GM to ever put out a car (not truck) that pushes foreign competitors in the same vehicle class? Um, nah.

Congress has been shameless as well, but then again, that's what they do.

Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post, wrote a good, long piece that pretty well explained why finding quick, easy answers to these problems, is damn near impossible.


It was made painfully clear at the hearings that a number of lawmakers do not understand the process. An exchange between Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Toyota President Akio Toyoda illustrated the problem.

Toyoda said that when his company gets a complaint about a mechanical problem, engineers set to work trying to duplicate the problem in their labs to find out what went wrong.

Norton said: "Your answer -- we'll wait to see if this is duplicated -- is very troublesome." Norton asked Toyoda why his company waited until a problem recurred to try to diagnose it, which is exactly what he was not saying.

Members of Congress are generally lawyers and politicians, not engineers. But they are launching investigations and creating policies that have a direct impact on the designers and builders of incredibly complex vehicles -- there are 20,000 parts in a modern car -- so there are some basics they should understand. Chief among them: The only way to credibly figure out why something fails is to attempt to duplicate the failure under observable conditions. This is the engineering method.

If you put a lot of parts together to form a complex electromechanical machine and make it talk to itself via software, it can behave, sometimes, in ways you cannot anticipate. It can fail for reasons you cannot anticipate.

That's the problem Toyota faces. And, after thorough testing by Toyota, NHTSA and garage mechanics trying to win the $1 million Edmunds.com prize, no single answer may be found. Obviously, this will not stop juries from awarding damages in the liability lawsuits already filed.

Finally, Toyota can't say this, but I can: Some of the cases of runaway acceleration could have been caused by driver error. Think about the times you've been in an accident, a near-miss or -- more to the point -- a distracted-driving situation that almost veered out of control. You remember the white-hot spike of fear that shot up your spine. You remember the shakes afterward. But do you remember what you did during those few seconds of panic? Do you remember where your feet and hands and eyes went?

Too true, but nobody at Toyota can possibly hint at this because of the hell that it would invoke. And, probably, there is an underlying mechanical failure at fault in some of the cases.

But am I afraid of Toyotas? Hell, no. Damn fine car. And yes, the company is going to be just fine. In fact, I'm rooting for them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big Dumb


Apparently, athletes are the slowest learners.

If they learn, at all.

How many people would have guessed that shortly after Plaxico Burress landed himself in jail, that another high profile jock would think about fooling around with guns in a place where they are not allowed?

Hello, Gilbert Arenas.

How many people would have guessed that with a sexual assault case still pending in Nevada, Steelers QB Ben Roesthlisberger would decide that there's no harm in going to a nearby college town in Georgia and cruising for some sorority sweater?

Now the QB who loves to hold onto the ball way too long, a guy whose signature move is shrugging off lineman with one arm to heave a last ditch pass, is looking at the biggest sack of his career.

If this current woman's story is credible, and if she can follow through (unlike the Kobe accuser) then Big Ben's career is done. Finished. He's going to jail.

If not, then Ben will play again. But his image will never be the same. And it shouldn't be.

Because Big Ben is a drunk.

This is not even debatable. In addition to photos all over the internet (like the one above) and now these twin "incidents" involving drunken libido gone over-the-edge, it is clear that the guy can't manage his liquor.

Okay, now, go ahead with the argument that "he's only 28, dude, and he's not married! What do you want him to do, stay at home and read a book!?"

Oldest excuse in the internet age. Lamest, too.

If you want to be a club-hopping playboy-athlete in today's camera-phone age, then you better accept the fact that you aren't going to be fit to endorse anything. And you better have a great criminal defense attorney on retainer.

Big Ben may feel young, act young, and wonder "what's all the fuss, I'm just a normal guy" when he goes cruising for fun in Milledgeville, GA. But he's not. He's a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. While he is not obligated to act like an arrogant ass when he's in public, he ought to know that he actually IS sports royalty.

And royalty does not do jello shooters with commoners.

It would be another thing entirely if Big Ben were a tight end, or a lineman. Hey, football players, will be football players.

But he's not. He's a quarterback. That's a leadership position. The next time a guy like Santonio Holmes gets busted for smoking weed, what is Big Ben gonna say?

"Come on, man, we're pros."

Or will he say, "Dude, got any to share?"

We'll see how the Steelers handle this. For now, they are sitting back, waiting for the "facts" to come in. But the relevant facts are indeed, already in. Your quarterback is a drunk, with exceptionally poor judgment, who has embarrassed the franchise. This is, further evidence not needed, simply un-acceptable.

A statement to that effect, can and should have been released already.

The legal wheels will turn on their own schedule. But in the meantime, a franchise and fan base that preens on their reputation of class and conservatism in the NFL, should just shut their yaps the next time they decide to get on their soap-box about how they do things "the right way."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh, PleasePleasePlease Let Us Be #96!


So if the NCAA tournament goes from 64 teams to 96, is that good or bad?

For Joe Lunardi, I mean.

If you have made your sports niche one in which you start painstakingly predicting the 64 team bracket - IN OCTOBER! - then does having another 32 teams thrown in the mixing bowl make your job more, or less, important.

On the one hand, a 96 team bracket would be far more complex, and it would bring in at least double the bubble teams.

On the other hand, it wouldn't really matter.

Part of Lunardi's appeal, is that teams are desperate to get into the tourney, and thus they cling to his every change in the "Last 4 In" and "First 4 Out" lists.

Using the Sagarin Rankings - if only because you need some kind of "objective" tool to drill down to 96 teams for exploration purposes - I can report that as of Sunday the "First 4 Out" of the 96 team tourney would be (in order) Harvard, Weber State, Iona, and Nebraska.

Oh yeah, Nebraska is 14-17, and 0-10 this year against Top 25 teams.

You can say that a team like Nebraska would never be argued as a bubble team if we really were putting 96 teams into the bracket. You can say that. But you never know. There will almost certainly be a 14-17 team from a good conference that is upside down on conference record by at least 3 or 4 games, but DOES have a single signature win over a ranked team (probably on ESPN, too) which gets serious consideration.

Yes, this argument will happen. If anybody gives a crap enough to actually argue it.

The "Last 4 In" using Sunday's Sagarin's snapshot, would be Louisiana Tech, Missouri State, Providence, and Oklahoma.

Certainly a more handsome looking bunch as a snapshot, but it's not like we can't have a wonderful March Madness without them.

This also means, that swept up on the extra 32 teams will be....

Wofford, Wright State, Northeastern (and Northwestern for the first time ever!), Portland, Marshall and Illinois State.

Whoo hoo. Wow. Yeah, bracket madness. Get those pool sheets turned in by tomorrow folks.

The concept of a 96 team tournament is being pushed by ESPN and most Division 1 coaches. The reason the NCAA hasn't slammed the door in their face, is because they smell money.

I have a feeling this will end badly.

ESPN wants the extra games because they have 7 different platforms which need constant feeding of programming. ESPN doesn't care about ruining the perception, vibe, or enthusiasm of a 64 team NCAA tournament.

Which a 96 team tourney, would do. That's not even debatable.

They just want the games. Look at what ESPN's football appetite for stupid bowl games has done. It has fueled expansion on the BOTTOM end of the bowl schedule, involving more and more irrelevant teams, while the burning desire by fans to just get ONE more bowl game at the top end has been effectively thwarted.

The coaches have pushed for it, because they think (incorrectly) it will lead to added job security. Knowing several NCAA coaches personally, they chafe at fans, media, and school administrators that quickly cite how many years their team has "missed the tourney."

These coaches are correct when they complain that most critics have no real appreciation of how HARD it actually is to get into the Big Dance.

But making that easier, won't reduce the heat on their profession. It'll just move the 3-point line back a few feet, so to speak.

In a 96 team tourney universe, program critics will start citing how many years it has been since their coach has secured one of the coveted "first weekend bye's" as a Top-32 team.

Program critics will start citing how many years it has been since their team actually WON a tourney game.

And god forbid you are a heritage program (say, UConn) that loses to ol' Team 92 like say Wofford.

Unfortunately, the "logic" of an expanded tournament is seemingly driven by the mere fact that it is logistically do-able.

Yes, an extra 32 teams would fit as a sort of giant prelude tourney one weekend earlier in March. Then we would be back to 64 teams, just like before.

Come on, let's do it! We'll be rich!

What a dreadful idea.

I better enjoy the most perfect sporting event on earth with additional gusto this March. I've got a feeling it may be the last chance we get.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Desk is Not Adam Archuleta!


To appreciate how absurd Free Agency Week 2010 began for my Washington Redskins, all you need to know is this: my owner issued a press release saying he doesn't own any alligator shoes.

As Dave Barry would write: "I am not making this up."

When the NY Post's Page 6 gossip column reported that Dan Snyder had ordered two alligator leather-bound desks at a price of $600,000 from a chi-chi boutique in Manhattan, it spread like wildfire through the sports blogosphere.

Heh, heh. Typical Snyder. Overpays for everything.

Only, it wasn't true. The Redskins sprung into action to debunk the story.

“Dan does not have an office at FedExField," said Dave Donovan, COO of the Redskins. "Second, he has no need for new desks at any of his offices. We are demanding a retraction from The New York Post.”

Then Snyder added the part about his lack of alligator shoes.

The boutique apologized, and fired the employee who leaked the false rumor.

Whew. Glad we got all that squared away!

That makes it like the whole Adam Archuleta fiasco never happened.

Ha ha, yeah, sure. Alligator desks! Like we'd ever do that. Har! Who needs an alligator skin desk? And for $600 grand? Please. We like slow white safeties who really wanted to go to Chicago to play in another scheme, and we like to make them the HIGHEST PAID SAFETY IN NFL HISTORY!

In the big scheme of things, I suppose this story doesn't matter. But then again, the Redskins (or Snyder, or his legal pit bull Donovan) thought it was important enough to crank out a press release and demand a retraction.

A press release!

This is why being a Skins fan under Snyder is so exasperating. He has been such a sucker for overpaying, that now rogue furniture store managers are even using his name to gin up hype.

What that employee should have done, is hint to Snyder that Jerry Jones was interested in those desks for $700,000, and then just sit back and watch the magic happen.

So off we go, into the great un-capped NFL of 2010.

By the time the HTML is dry on this posting, I can pretty much bet that Julius Peppers will be a Redskin. When the Redskins hone in on a free agent, the first reports are RARELY wrong.

And while I was hoping that Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan would bring a more sober, long-term-build approach to the Skins, I am coming to realize that pretty much no coach Snyder hires will be willing to say no to purchasing players.

Especially in an un-capped year.

To which there IS a coherent argument for actually spending like a banshee this spring. I'm not saying I endorse it, but the argument goes something like this.

Yes, you will overpay for players this spring. Yes, there aren't nearly as many unrestricted free agents, so you won't be able to land very many impact guys. Yes, newly minted free agent acquisitions often go soft now that they've been paid.

Yes, yes, yes, I get it.

But look at it the other way. Players are just players. If you can get a better player than the one you have now, without using a draft pick, then so what? Right now, it's just money. And Snyder has plenty of that, alligator desks or no.

Could the post-lockout NFL re-introduce a salary cap that causes havoc for your spending spree this spring? Sure. Could. But nobody knows. And I think the chances are better that even with a new system and cap, any teams that get a little "out of whack" on spending this year, will have provisions that allow for an orderly re-alignment under the cap going forward.

I doubt the Skins would be forced to play with a 29 man roster.

So in that sense, there is an argument to go hog wild, at last. No more salary cap! Free at last, free at last!

Isn't this what we have been waiting for as Skins fans? Snyder, his fueled up Redskins One on the runway, and a cargo hold full of money? Without any more NFL bean counters tisk tisking our purchases?

Sadly, the NFL is much more complicated than that, I believe. And even if you could purchase the SINGLE BEST player at every position, I am not sure your chances of winning the Super Bowl would be better than just 50-50 in a given year.

The best orchestra in the world doesn't have 100 lead violinists. There has to be somebody oompa-loompa-ing away on a tuba too.

As such, hungry young role players, and guys who want to MAKE their name, will remain the league's lifeblood of success. Those guys, unlike alligator desks, you simply can't purchase.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Somebody Stop Him, Before He Says Something Even Dumber


Peter King is like a sportswriting equivalent of the movie "Best In Show." His columns read like a complete spoof on the genre. I'm coming around to the alternate theory that this is nothing more than a continuing bit of journalistic performance art. One in which he tries to prove that no matter how many absurdly wrongheaded notions he espouses, he is somehow still taken seriously.

I wonder why more NFL coaches don't simply say: "Hello. Who? Peter King? You are an idiot. Please lose my cell phone number."

Here's what he wrote after the combine:

I was encouraged to see a guy I like a lot, Stanford’s big back, Toby Gerhart, run a 4.53, a little better than people thought he would. Anyone who watched Gerhart play last season and who would think he can’t play in this league and play at a high level just doesn’t know football.

No, you don't know football. And you continue to demonstrate this every time you open that laptop.

I wonder when, or even if, King will realize that the NFL has perhaps the greatest relevance gap between the college version of its game, and the pro version. I wonder when, or even if, King will recall any number of excellent - nay, dominant - college players who couldn't do much more than fill their pants up with farts on Sundays. I wonder when, or even if, King will fess up to his own laughably incorrect assessments about players at the NFL level. (See: "Danny Wuerrful will throw for 3,000+ yards with Spurrier's Redskins.")

And the whole "... just doesn't know football" line is a high school level rhetorical device meant to say - without the crassness of actually saying it - ".... but I DO know football. I am smart!"

The pro prospects of Toby Gerhart are just as muddy as any college draftee. There are a multitude of reasons for this. Among the obvious: scheme he'll be playing in, quality of surrounding players, injuries, mental capacity, professional discipline, coaching staff, and on and on and on.

In my opinion, the biggest reason nobody knows is more basic, more primal.

Toby Gerhart is going to get his ass kicked. Hard.

How do I know this? I have talked to many ex-Redskins (now in the radio and TV biz) who described for me their first year experiences in training camp. Almost to a man, they said the speed, size, and intensity of the pro game was something no amount of warning could adequately prepare them for.

Plus, god forbid Gerhart is a high pick, or gets a fat contract. Then, the guys will really want to fuck him up. Starting with the very first chance they get in a full-pads two-a-day.

What Toby Gerhart does on Day 2 of his pro career, and for every blessed day after that he lasts in this meat grinder of a league, is predicated on how he handles an uncomfortable new reality, one not experienced since he was a little boy. He is no longer the biggest kid on the sandlot.

Deal with it.

Some do better than others, obviously. But nobody knows, not even Peter King, until a newly minted millionaire football player wakes up in camp with a battered body and serious doubts about how to play the game, and decides he either wants to figure it out, or just go through the motions.

Every Redskin fan remembers the case of Desmond Howard. Joe Gibbs actually said on draft day: "We couldn't find anything we didn't like about him." Now this wasn't just Gibbs riffing. This was indeed the consensus of the Redskins scouting braintrust, which for the record, long pre-dated Snyder, Cerrato and that whole clown circus.

Furthermore, when the Skins TRADED UP to get Howard at #4 overall, it's not like the entire football world gasped and said: "Have Gibbs and Casserly gone MAD! What a risky reach the Redskins have made here."

Howard was an electrifying receiver and return man at Michigan, and would have certainly not lasted until the 2nd round. So Howard was, a consensus blue chip pro prospect. This wasn't even a debate at the time.

And yet, one thing that Howard actually couldn't do very well in the NFL, was get off the line of scrimmage against press coverage.

Ooops.

Now why didn't anybody know this was going to be an issue? Perhaps because the "3-Cone Drill" at the combine doesn't simulate NFL press coverage very well with a big, physical DB who can push you off balance AND run up the field with you, stride for stride. Perhaps while the combine was meticulously measuring the 40 yard dash times of a dozen or so top cornerbacks from around the country, they were NOT measuring the utterly crappy 40 yard dash times of the Big Ten stiffs that Howard was beating on rain soaked natural grass fields cut to 2 inches high every week.

("Hey, boss, come look at this. I think I've figured it out. Purdue's corners only run a 4.6 forty, and look: they're playing Howard 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Might be an issue at our level. Just sayin'.")

(NOTE: My colleague Andy says D.C. Richie Pettibone coached in the Senior Bowl that year, and told the Skins brass that "we shut him down with just a safety." Warning, ignored.)

Maybe the scouting staff for the Redskins just looked at all the pretty highlights and said to themselves quietly in a whiny little Homer Simpson voice of envy: "Awwww... I'd love for him to do that for our team next year.... ohhhhh."

And maybe they were scared that if they passed on Howard, and he started doing all that cool touchdown making shit with another team further down in the draft, fans, media and other GMs would look at them and say: "You idiots! How could you pass on Desmond Howard!? Didn't you see him play in college!"

Which is exactly where we left King, sitting on the curb, waiting for the football short bus to come pick him up and drive to the nearest Starbucks. God, what a fucking dummy. It just never ends.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Ice Cougar Fails


So let's get this out of the way off the bat: what I know about the sport of curling, couldn't fill the jockstrap of figure skater Johnny Weir.

Like that's gonna stop me from calling Cheryl Bernard a choking dog. Not!

You probably have seen the MILF-Celebre of curling for team Canada. If you ask me, she's mostly dazzling folks with the fact that her cans are at least 3 letter sizes larger than necessary for sliding a stupid doorstop down a sheet of ice.

But hey, whatever. Goes to show you how easily people can get duped into thinking a chick is hot when you surround her with a bunch of frumpy Swedes who haven't seen the outside of a barn in 9 months.

So I'm watching the curling gold medal match(?) and it comes down to skip Bernard with one shot to win the gold. After a ratio of standing around to action of nearly 25:1, she finally gets those golden globes down low to the ice and lets it fly.

Gack!

"Pretty routine double," Bernard said afterward. "Rubbed it, missed it by a millimetre. Couldn't ask for an easier shot."

The loss, seemingly snatched from the jaws of victory, was a hard pill to swallow.

O'Connor, who might have had the best tournament of any member of her team, outplaying her opposing thirds time and time again, also spoke with reporters with tears in her eyes.

But she maintained there's no one else she would have wanted to have the stone in her hand.

"Cheryl is the reason that we're sitting up here now, is the reason that we're at the Olympics," she said. "There is nobody in the world that I would rather have throwing last rock."

Like Bernard, O'Connor said the silver medal hardly feels like a prize right now — but she did her best to look at the glass as half-full.

"It's a pretty huge accomplishment and there's a million people and curlers in Canada that would kill to be in our spot right now," she said.


If "that spot" means in the team room consoling Cheryl with a bottle of Crown Royale and sedatives, then huzzah huzzah you can count me in! Better luck next time, ice cougars!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>




Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Case Study: Redskins Dysfunction



Got this email from a real person. Checked it out. It's legit. As the kids, would say: OMG.

Czabe,

A friend of mine is attending the Georgetown MBA program. One the classes this semester is Sports Management which is taught by Charlie Casserly. I thought you might find it interesting that he was essentially able to base one of the major projects of the class on the Redskins poor management practices - see below.

I'm a big fan and long time listener of the Sports Reports.

Cheers,
Mike from DC




Group Project

1. When the Redskins hired head coach Jim Zorn they hired almost his complete coaching staff first and then hired him, allowing him to hire only 3 coaches on a staff of over 15.

2. Early in the season Redskins management hired a Consultant to help with the offense against head coach Jim Zorn's wishes.

3. A couple of weeks later the Redskins promoted the Consultant to play caller against Zorn's wishes. The Redskins offense was struggling at the time of both of these moves.

4. Two players, Clinton Portis and Albert Haynesworth, both had a direct line to the Owner and EVP Vinny Cerrato. Thus, they could bypass the Head Coach with their complaints.

5. During the season on his Friday radio show Vinny Cerrato gave a "vote of confidence" to Jim Zorn saying he will finish the season. He neglected to tell Jim Zorn this and the media informed Zorn of this when he met with media later that day.

6. Vinny Cerrato admonished Jim Zorn over a play calling decision in front of the team after a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

7. With Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato still in their positions with the Redskins, Redskins management interviewed people for their jobs. These were minority candidates, thus fulfilling the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which states minority candidates must be interviewed for certain positions before a hire is made. The NFL ruled the Redskins were in compliance with the rule.

8. Redskins management banned fans from displaying signs in the stadium, but later
changed the policy. The ban was put in place after derogatory signs about Redskins
management and ownership were visible in the stadium.

9. Albert Haynesworth complained to the coaches about having to come in too early on Christmas Day for meetings. The meetings were scheduled for 10:00 AM. He privately told players he was purposely going to come in late for the 10:00 AM meeting. The coaches found out about it. When he showed up late on Christmas Day he was sent home. Later on that day he ripped his Defensive Coordinator, saying he was not being used properly. He went on to start the next game against the Dallas Cowboys.

10. Vinny Cerrato stated publicly that the Redskins had a "playoff" roster to the press during the season. However, the Redskins had not addressed what their coaches had said was their number one priority in the off-season: the need to improve the offensive line. The offensive line was in disarray for much of the year.

Please address each point above by doing the following:

Philosophically from a management point of view (not a football perspective) explain why you believe the Redskins action was correct or incorrect and relate it to how it would parallel to a situation in the business world. If you disagree with the Redskin action, explain why and say what you would do in the business world.

REACT: Well, this surely makes for a good biz school exercise. But the real life follies of the Redskins are over, aren't they? Aren't they? Um.....

Monday, March 1, 2010

"So, How 'Bout It...?"


You know me, I love a good analogy. Or in this case, a more direct comparison. Is Barack Obama the political equivalent of Daunte Culpepper, Vikings Version?

Dan Calabrese of the Northern Star Journal website thinks so.

And you gotta admit, he argument is persuasive. Now, if you want to skip the politics, and just remember how idiotic Culpepper was on his way out of Minny, then read the following excerpt that focuses on Daunte's negotiating, ahem, "style."

With a year left on his contract, a horrible season just behind him and serious questions about his health, Culpepper makes two very interesting choices. First, he refuses Childress’s request that he conduct his injury rehabilitation in Minnesota under the watchful eye of the new coaching staff. Culpepper says, “I’m good,” and proceeds to rehab near his home in Florida. But that was just the start.

When he does finally make his way to Minnesota, it’s for the purpose of sitting down with ownership and demanding a lucrative contract extension. He was already making something on the order of $10 million a year, so hey, what better time to ask for even more than when you’re hurt and you just had the worst season of your career?

As Culpepper sat at the conference table at the Vikings’ Winter Park headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota, saying, “How ‘bout it?” team management looked at him as if he had lost his mind. Somehow the Vikings convinced the Miami Dolphins to take Culpepper off their hands, and he has never come anywhere near his one-time level of success in the years since.


MY ADD: If I'm not mistaken, Culpepper also served as his own agent. Which is a truly idiotic idea. Even if NFL contracts came in 3 sizes only, S, M, and L, you should still employ a good agent at a sensible hourly rate just so he can be another set of eyes to help guide your career.

Such an agent, or anybody with a brain, might have told Daunte: "Dude. You really shouldn't ask for a pay raise right now. And please work out at the complex a few times to make your bosses feel good about your commitment to the team. They are paying you well. They'd just like to see your face in the office a little bit."