Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Girl on the Train

Two long plane rides and a snow day gives a reader time to read.  I picked up, The Girl on the Train, and put it in my satchel as I headed for the airport on Sunday.  I completed inhaling it today while resting my sore arms from the toil of shoveling.

Very good book. A thriller and a page turner with an unsettlingly plausible plot.

A woman takes a train into London daily. Ostensibly a commuter, when the train stops each day by a certain neighborhood she stares wistfully at the back yards of the homes on one street. She does so because she used to live in one of the houses as the spouse of the man who still lives in one of them with his new wife.

There is a disappearance and a murder. Who did it is a major plot line as is the emotional journey of the commuter who deals with her sadness as well as other hurts by knocking them back far more than she should.

There are five central characters with a few interesting and multi dimensional supporting ones.  The author's, (Paula Hawkins) ability to piece the story together is as impressive as the story itself.  Told in the first person by three of the characters, from different periods in 2012 and 2013, the reader --or at least I--had to go back a number of times to make sure that one event had taken place before another, because the first person narratives are not sequential.

Unlike a lot of whodunits, this book goes beyond the plot line.  When we've taken an emotional jolt our ability to think rationally is compromised. We might think of others as far more solid than they are and we just have a hard time connecting the dots. Maybe we become drunks or maybe we just are intoxicated from the poisons of loss.  It's important to try to purge the toxins, solve our puzzles, and piece our lives back together.

Great way to spend a snowy day and a long ride on an airplane.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Belichick's Press Conference

Earlier this afternoon I saw a replay of Belichick's complete press conference on Saturday.

I believe him.  I've watched his press conferences and tv shows for 15 years now. I think I can read his nonverbal messages as good as most.  Once, serendipitously, I was on a plane where he was, in row one, with his girlfriend. (So help me he was reading, in early April, one of those pro football digest books you can pick up at a news stand).

I think he is telling the truth and that Brady was similarly telling the truth.  If I am wrong, as I wrote earlier, the behavior is reprehensible on so many fronts--even if it is done all over.  And the Pats should be severely punished.

But until and unless it is proven that they did do something to give themselves an unfair advantage--that was specifically prohibited--Patriot players should be allowed to enjoy what they have earned.  And Patriot fans should be able to enjoy their team's successes.

If deflate-gate is deflated, the pats will win on Sunday by more than the 8 points I originally projected.  And if so, I wonder if the trophy ceremony will not include some choice monosyllabic words typically not uttered on network television--words directed at the media, league and others who explicitly and implicitly pilloried the team this past week.

Klay Thompson

If you haven't seen it yet, go onto espn.com and watch Klay Thompson score 37 points in ONE QUARTER in the game against the Kings last night.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Light, Sight, and Darkness

I don't know how strange this is, but when I read a book I tend to find myself talking and thinking like the characters in the book.  This can be amusing, to me at least, but is a liability when reading a book like All the Light We Cannot See.  It is a liability because this beautiful book is very depressing and I found myself sad and blue for most of the week when I snorted the read.

The story alternates between describing the life of a blind girl who lives with her father in Paris and an orphan who lives in a small town in Germany during the thirties and early forties.  At several points the novel jumps to August 1944 when the Allies liberated Saint-Malo. The blind girl has gone with her father to Saint-Malo in an attempt to escape the occupation. The boy in August 1944 is stationed in Saint-Malo.  While the story is about these two and how they are connected, their actual meeting is confined to about twenty pages of the book.

Werner, the boy, is good with radios and is able to escape a life of drudgery in the mines because he is selected to a school for young men who, ostensibly, have bought into the philosophy of the third Reich.  Werner does not buy into that philosophy.  However he doesn't want to live a dead end life in the orphanage. Consequently he is torn between doing what he knows is right and what he can see all around him is clearly horrible.  Marie-Laure is the blind girl who with the aid of her father an uber locksmith for a museum, and his agoraphobic uncle, attempts to survive, escape the darkness, and find the keys to light.

Long book but a fast read-in part because the chapters are very short. I like that in a book. I know when I start a chapter that I can take a small bite and finish the chew.

A problem with the writing is that the vocabulary is so sophisticated that after a while I just had to give up looking up words.  There is a character who is into birds so there are a lot of words that bird people would know. Also there are allusions to the sea and again many technical terms for water and fish. Finally a significant part of the book deals with a gem and the language around gemstones is alien to me.  There are inclusions of French words and, less often, German ones which can make you guess at what is being written.

Still, with all this, I turned the pages and sucked this sad beautiful depressing book up.

I have read my share of novels related to world war 2 and Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich history.   Not sure any of these better captured the horrors of the period.

All the Light We Cannot See was not about the holocaust centrally, but depicts--very believably--the decayed society of Germany.  If we are not vigilant we could lapse into something similar.

Recommended if you are a reader.  This book will hang around my head for a while.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Belichick's Press Conference

(1) I believe him.  If there was evidence that he is lying, he would know it would surface which would make this denial worse.

(2) Don Shula references to Belicheat are interesting. Shula famously did not cover the field when there was a heavy rainstorm in Florida before a playoff game with the Jets who had a strong running game.  His claim was that they did not have a tarp.  Sure, in Florida, it doesn't rain why have a tarp.  A year ago I flew to Florida and the water was up to just below my knees after a monsoon.  Shula may be jealous since he had Dan Marino--maybe the best passer ever--for over ten years and got to the super bowl once.  Belichick with Brady is going for his sixth time since 2002.  And uh, Shula was the head of the rules committee and met with the referees for years. Coincidentally, go figure, the Dolphins were often among the least penalized teams in the league.

(3) The deflategate chatter has reduced the fun of having a team in the super bowl for me.  Instead of talking about the game we won and the game to be played, I debate whether there was air in the ball.  Everyone is taking shots at the Patriots.

(4) I hope we win 77-0 and Belichick accepts the trophy, thanks the fans and the players, and tells Goodell that if his dad had not been a famous politician,  the commissioner would be in a less prestigious line of work.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Barry and Howard

Two basketball stars with two last names that are also first names. Rick Barry and Juwan Howard.

Rick Barry was a star in the upstart American Basketball Association and later in the NBA when the two leagues merged.  Juwan Howard was one of the fab five: University of Michigan freshman who came within a foolishly called time-out and a national championship.

I have gone to the last three Northeastern University basketball games.  Our team is well coached and fun to watch. They don't always play well, but they are moving continuously.  Last week we beat a very good Hofstra team.  On Saturday night we again won--that time against the College of Charleston. We laid an egg on Martin Luther King day losing a very winnable game to the University of Detroit.

I noticed something during the last two games.  At halftime of the Charleston contest I saw that one of the players for the opponents was practicing foul shots like Rick Barry. Rick Barry was one of the few players in the NBA to shoot foul shots underhanded.  In the fifties and sixties you would see a few players who would take the foul shot underhanded. Wilt Chamberlain who was hopeless from the line no matter how he shot the ball tried the underhanded shot for a stretch. But others took the shot and made them successfully during basketball's early years. But then nobody was taking them. Until Rick Barry came along in the mid sixties. And he shot nearly 90 per cent for his career.  Since Rick Barry, I don't remember seeing a single NBA player take the shot underhanded despite the many players who could use a boost in their shooting averages.

So, I noticed this twenty year old kid taking the foul shots underhanded.  He turned around at one point and I noticed the name on his jersey. Kid's name was also Barry.  What are the odds of that?

On Monday when I went to see NU lay an egg, I listened to the introductions of the opponents and one player was introduced as Juwan Howard Jr.  How many Juwan Howards can there be?  Juwan Howard Sr. was the player among the fab five who lasted the longest in the NBA. He wasn't the best of the five, but he had the greatest longevity.

I checked it out when I got back to my home. Both college players, Barry and Howard, are the scions of their famous fathers.  I wonder how much pressure this puts on the players and those who coach them.  Interestingly both players had about the same impact on their respective teams. They both were starters and both scored in double digits, but neither was "the man" on their teams.  Neither is going to be playing in the NBA.

But their daddies sure did.   Probably the only kids on the teams that did not need their scholarships given what basketball stars earn currently.  So the good news is that you're Rick Barry's/Juwan Howard's kid. And the bad news is that you will always be Rick Barry's/Juwan Howard's kid.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Would I be stunned to find out that the Patriots deflated the balls prior to the game? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being flabbergasted, I would rate the extent of my surprise at 3 or 4.  I don't think it is impossible, just unlikely.

One thing that I don't quite get with the discussion is a point that has not been brought up, at least I have not seen it.

After every play, every single play, a referee touches the ball.  A player catches a pass-- he throws it to a referee who often throws it to another referee who puts the ball down. A runner is tackled--he tosses the ball to a ref or leaves it on the ground for a referee to pick up the ball.  An incomplete pass is retrieved by a referee who then sets the ball down.

If the balls were discernibly deflated how is it possible that not once during the game did the referee acknowledge something strange? The only time the ball was changed was at the beginning of the second half when after a kickoff the same ball that was used to kick off was the ball put into play.  Different balls are used for kicks than other plays.

Maybe the referees will be called into the NFL inquiry and identify something peculiar with the balls. But if they do not, how deflated could the balls have been?  And if the refs could not identify a poorly inflated ball, how much of an advantage could it have given the Patriots?

Again, it would not startle me to speechlessness to discover shenanigans.  And if that was the case it is unconscionable even if every team does the same thing, and even if it pales in comparison with what the Raiders would do on a regular basis.  (I once heard how the Raiders would soak the endzone the Chiefs would practice in during pregame, so that every Chief player's shoes would be heavy after simple jumping jacks).  Regardless of chicanery of others, you don't do it yourself AND you are foolish and stupid, besides dishonest if you do.

Yet, can't believe such chicanery was done in this instance or else it would have been detected.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In case you missed it.

The streak continues.  Picked both championship games in "The Party's Over" on the 13th. In case you missed it, the excerpt below is from that blog.  Two for Two this weekend

  • I think he [Aaron Rodgers] will throw a pick or two in the championship game and the Packers can pack their bags.
    • [Rodgers threw two picks. The Packers are packing their bags].
  • The Ravens will be the toughest team the Patriots will play in the tournament.  The Pats will win the Superbowl by more than 8.
    • [Pats shellacking of Colts 45-7, was far easier than the battle against the Ravens. Pats will win super bowl by more than 8] 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

We are two

When at the neighborhood library book fair several weeks back, I spotted The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the "classics" shelf.  Like everyone else, I knew what people meant when they referred to  a Jekyll and Hyde personality, but I never had read the story.  So, I picked it up and put it in my bundle.

Until I started reading, I did not realize that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is only one of several stories in the book.  It is a novella, so it is longer than all the others, but there were a number of Robert Louis Stevenson's works inside.

I found his writing style tough to follow. He is very descriptive which, in itself, can be a challenge but the writing is from another era so, for me at least, it was not easy sledding. Also the vocabulary is from another time and while you can figure out what the words mean, it sometimes takes a second reading of a sentence.  The word, glass, for example, in one of the later stories is meant to mean mirror which I'll guess was common usage at one point. Still, the sentence did not make sense without an awareness that glass=mirror so I found myself not getting it without a couple of readings. Incidents like this made the book not the easiest of reads.

One of the stories in particular was nearly impossible to get through because not only was it written with a different era's slang, but the entire story was told in the voice of an old timer from that era with his peculiar accent--like listening to someone with a heavy cockney accent.  I barely could follow that one. And another of the stories--billed as a novella--"The Suicide Club" was three loosely connected stories that read like, and were, serial entries for a magazine of that time.  And it sure seemed to me that after he wrote the first one, he was not quite sure where the next one was going.

The "Body Snatchers" was a decent short story and I am almost sure I saw a Twilight Zone episode in its seventies incarnation that used this story loosely as the basis for plot.  The last story in the collection, "Markheim", I think had been assigned to me when I was an undergraduate in a short story class, but I wonder if I did not come prepared that day, because I don't remember much except the title.  If you can stay with the heavy description in "Markheim" it is pretty good. One line stood out.  "All men are better than this disguise that grows about and stifles them."

The title story, Jekyll and Hyde, is what one would suspect from the references to it throughout our lives. A serious and responsible Dr. Jekyll transforms--on occasion--to a reprehensible Mr. Hyde.  And sometimes this is done by design, but sometimes it just happens. And I will guess without much risk that that is the point of the story. We are two--our responsible selves--and our reprehensible selves. And sometimes we allow the miscreant to take center stage. If we are not careful the ne'er do well can command our performances without our awareness until the Dr. Jekyll who we are is overwhelmed by Mr. Hyde.

I can't really recommend the collection.  Those who like detail and the style from that era might have a different attitude about the readings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Empty drawer

Yesterday, Dad, a fellow cancelled an appointment in the afternoon and I had a rare afternoon with an uninterrupted few hours with which to accomplish things. So, I decided to tackle a drawer which has become a dumping ground for receipts, records, and assorted items that I did not want to address at the times when they first made the scene.  Then, I would toss the item in a drawer saying, "I'll get to it later."  Yesterday afternoon became later.

Strange sensations I had when I went through that drawer.  For the most part I am doing fine with your departure. We have our moments, of course.   Bobby and I were in New York last weekend dealing with this and that, and I was in Florida in December addressing some house stuff.  I had intended to enjoy the sun, but Mr. Sunshine must have had some vacation time coming to him. Still for the most part I am fine and so is Bobby.

Emptying the drawer was not easy.  In it was one reminder after another.  There were some doctor bills, and house bills that I had deposited there.  I get your mail now and there were various items that I had placed in the drawer about your bank accounts, charities, and interests.  You and mom took some cruises so now every cruise outfit sends you ads, and yiddish magazines write to you urging that you subscribe.

And then I came across travel itineraries for when I visited when you were alone after mom passed.  Those were the hardest.  I recalled the trip Thanksgiving time and the one a year ago when I arrived in a storm that required Noah-esque navigating.  And then boarding passes and car rental receipts from the trips when you were hospitalized.  Every time I yanked one of those receipts out, I felt a burning in my gut.

A couple of people sent you hanukkah cards so I wrote back and told them that you were gone.  I saw Wally in Florida and he, again, spoke of his affection for you.   I got to see Penny and Arthur also at Penny's.  They too, of course, mentioned your contribution to us all.

You would have enjoyed the end of the football season.  The Patriots, vu den, are in the championship game.  Great tilt between them and the Ravens last weekend.  It's the Patriots and the Colts, and the Packers/Seahawks.  Even relaying that creates a burn as it was on Super bowl Sunday last year that Bobby and I flew back after your first week in the hospital.  We were down again a couple of times before you left, but I remember that night because while you were not a happy camper at least you got into watching the game on the hospital tv.

Shabbat Shalom, Dad.  You are missed up here in Boston. And all the other places where you touched the world.  You used to say that you would still be part of the equation after you left. Another bit of wisdom from you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Party's Over

The feast of weekend football is over.  Fans of the game will begin to feel itchy over the next few weeks.  There is no more college football and only two weekends of professional games.  Three games in total.  Six months of depression loom for voracious fans of the game.

Some observations beyond that I picked six out of six games this past weekend. (Have I mentioned that before?)  For those mathematically challenged six out of six is 100 per cent.

[I have found when speaking with people who simply say, "I don't do math" that it is a revelation when I explain that "cent" as in "per cent" means 100.  "Per cent" therefore means per 100.  100 per cent means 100 out of 100.

To compare say 6 out of 10 to 11 out of 20, we need some common point for comparison. We'll figure out what 6 out of 10 is per 100, and what 11 out of 20 is per hundred, and then compare. 60 per cent versus 55 per cent. So we can easily say  6 out of 10 is better than 11 out of 20.  

 (Those of us who are not mathematically challenged are troubled by coaches who exhort players to give 110 percent.  This is not possible.  You can't do better than 100 out of 100)].

The non mathematical observations:

  • Urban Meyer is as good a college coach as there is.  He won the championship with a third string quarterback.
  • The college playoff system worked.  Ohio State is the national champion. Had the old BCS system been in place, a team that would not have been the best team would have been declared the champion.
  • After nearly ten years I still can't tell the Harbaugh brothers apart.
  • Whichever Harbaugh coaches the Ravens, he is a crybaby.  He was outfoxed by the Patriots and is whining about deception.  Next time we fake a hand-off we will give him a heads up.
  • I heard of a sports announcer who commented that the Bills had shellacked the Jets twice during the regular season, so then on what basis would the Bills pay the Jets coach, 5 million dollars, to coach its team.  Reasonable question, but I do think Ryan will be a good coach for the Bills.
  • Peyton Manning looked like he must have been hurt on Sunday. Either that or it is time to sing, "so long it's been good to know you."
  • It was quid pro quo that the Cowboys got eliminated by a ref's decision in the same way the Cowboys eliminated the Lions on a questionable call.
  • I wonder if the reason that Fox decided not to show Jerry Jones and Chris Christie in their suite during the game, is that the cameraperson did not have a wide enough lens to capture the governor's girth.
  • Aaron Rodgers' best therapy for his sore calf were the supportive screams of the crowd. The balm will not be present in Seattle. A torn calf is a killer injury so I think he will throw a pick or two in the championship game and the Packers can pack their bags.
  • The Ravens will be the toughest team the Patriots will play in the tournament.  The Pats will win the Superbowl by more than 8.
  • Ohio State will win the championship again next year.
  • Mariota will not be a star NFL quarterback. Neither will Winston.
  • I picked 6 out of 6 this past weekend.

Just Saying Six for Six

From my blog called the Best Ones. Written on Saturday the 10th at 1137 am eastern time.


The best ones this weekend: 

  • North Dakota State
  • New England Patriots
  • Seattle Seahawks (but it will be close)
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Ohio State

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The best one

I have fifteen books sitting on the top shelf of a brackets and boards bookcase on the wall by my desk at home. They are the books I own that have had the greatest effect on me. The Cider House Rules is one of these fifteen.  I read the book about thirty years ago and saw the movie when it came out. Usually I am disappointed in movies I see after having been impressed with the book. Not the case here. I thought the movie was terrific as well.

In the book there is a recurring scene that takes place at the orphanage when a couple would visit looking for a child to adopt.  One boy regularly says to the prospective parents, "I'm the best one."  At one point this orphan says to Homer, the main character in the story, "Tell them, tell them I'm the best one."

It has stuck with me over the thirty years.  The need to be loved, and embraced, and adopted in the word's broadest sense.  "Look at me. Choose me. I am the best one."

In sports when championships are determined, there is much emotion but not the same type.  This afternoon 430 eastern time begins what I consider to be the best weekend for professional sports. The remaining eight teams in the national football league will play for the right to advance and be identified as the best one.  This weekend is the best one for sports, and it will determine who will be eligible to pursue the recognition of being number one.

This year the weekend is even more of a feast for sport enthusiasts because on Monday night, after a Saturday and Sunday packed with games, the champion of division 1 college football will be determined when Oregon plays Ohio State.  And if you are truly a fan you will begin the entire weekend not at 430 today, but at 1 eastern when college football's Division 1-AA tournament concludes.  North Dakota State will defend its crown against Illinois State at that time.

Whoever wins this weekend's tilts will be thrilled and those who lose deflated.  The sense of winning and losing will linger.  Cincinnati's head coach, one week later, I imagine is still despondent because despite his successes during the regular season he has never won a playoff game.  Excellent athletes who have never won "a ring" sound deflated when they speak of this loss in their grown up roles as tv analysts and pundits.  Dan Marino who was one of the best quarterbacks I have ever seen, never won a super bowl and despite his stunning skills, only went to one super bowl game.

We all want to be the best one.   And be recognized as such.  It is a sign of good health, I'll suggest, when we can make that determination ourselves. That is, we can take a good long look in the mirror and say we are the best one of who we could be.  But the human condition is such that most of us need to have our successes acknowledged.

The best ones this weekend:

  • North Dakota State
  • New England Patriots
  • Seattle Seahawks (but it will be close)
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Ohio State

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

But then I thought about the game

We've got to think about the game,
The game, the game!
Booze and broads may be great,
though they're great they'll have to wait,
While we think about the game!

My dad was crazy about broadway musicals. We had not much in the way of  dough, but we had records from musicals. I would play the hell out of them.  Damn Yankees was one of the records and then one year--and I must have only been about six--he took the whole clan to Radio City and we saw the film.  

The lyrics above are from the Damn Yankees song called The Game. And it is in my head this week because......I am nervous about the Patriots.

Is this a good thing?  The night before last I had a dream that the Patriots were on the goal line. Brady jumped over the line and pushed the ball over for a touchdown. However there was,in the dream, a penalty and the Patriots were backed up to the five.  And then, no kidding, I bolted up as if I had a nightmare.

I am eligible for social security, have begun to lose short term memory, walk with a limp, am losing my hair at a rapid pace, get tired when I think about taking long plane rides, get senior discounts at Dunkin Doughnuts without the attendant even asking my age, and received my terminal degree during the Ford administration.  

I have watched football games since around the time my dad took us to see Damn Yankees. The Patriots have been in the super bowl five times since 9/11. I have no bets on the game.

Yet, I am thinking about the game and concerned that the Pats drew a formidable opponent for Saturday.  I am not a crazy person like those who wait an hour to spew volcanically on talk radio, but I am worried about the Patriots.

Methinks this is not a bad thing, but a good thing.  We all need something to get excited about.  I will be happy if the Patriots prevail on Saturday and sad if they are defeated.  Not a bad thing.  I am glad that I care more about Tom Brady's passing average than the Dow Jones average.  

My dad would often say that he feels bad for those who are not interested in sports as they miss out on so much excitement. Another piece of wisdom from a man who, I am fortunate to be able to write, oozed wisdom.

Patriots will play either the Seahawks or Packers in the super bowl. We (note the pronoun) will defeat the Ravens by 10 points on Saturday.  Carolina will get shellacked by Seattle.  The Colts will defeat the Broncos in the upset of the weekend.  Dallas will get beat like they stole something when they play the Packers.   Governor Christie will have to go back to hugging the buffet lines as opposed to Jerry Jones.

We've got to think about the game.


Winston not

Jameis Winston is going pro.

A prediction here.

He will go nowhere.  I've written about this recently, but will repeat it given the news that came across the screen today.  Quarterbacks who have had as an asset running skill are not successful in the NFL if the running skill when complemented by their passing abilities is what made them sensational in college.  If you run in the pros you are going to get hurt. If you are hurt you either cannot play or cannot play the way that made you special in college.

Running quarterbacks might make a splash but eventually they drown.

Winston, I don't believe is nearly as good at RG3, or Johnny Manziel, or Vince Young, so I am not sure he will even make a splash.

Some great quarterbacks, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco--were not on anyone's five star list in college.  Wilson does run, but only when he has to, in order to escape. And he runs smart as well not taking big hits and running out of bounds.

Jameis Winston may not even be a back-up for a professional team.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Had the championship game participants this year, been determined by the BCS as they have been in the past, Florida State would have been slated to play Alabama to determine "the national championship."

Both teams were eliminated last night. Florida State particularly showing themselves to be not in the same company as Oregon.  Alabama with a first string quarterback unable to beat Ohio State with a third.  BCS, sure.  I agree in principle, just hold the C.

And the SEC?  They will need some spin doctors at the end of this season.  Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU,  Alabama-all losing bowl games.

Schadenfreude-sports style

Now 1-1. I predicted the Ohio State game correctly. Great game.  Urban Meyer is one of the, if not the, best coach in college football.  Ohio State won the last two games with a third string quarterback.

Best player on the field, however, was an Alabaman--the punter. He was terrific.

When I was in Auburn a few weeks back I got to understand the intense rivalry between Alabama and Auburn.  Auburn lost today in its bowl game in an overtime heartbreaker.  Judging by what I heard when I was in Auburn--not from the college people, but town folk--there are people in Auburn who are more happy than sad this evening because even though their team lost, Alabama's loss overwhelms the disappointment of having lost themselves.

Schadenfreude--sports style.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Prediction number one does not seem to be an accurate one.  I picked Florida State.  It is the fourth quarter and Florida State is losing by 39 points.  As the color man has just commented, the Seminoles--defensively at least--have quit.  In the second half Florida State turned the ball over five times and Oregon just ripped off scores on each occasion.

I will make another prediction, however, that I think you can take to the bank.

Marcus Mariota is playing terrifically.  If today is the norm, the guy can run and throw and he seems to be smart in that the offense he is running is complex and tonight he is making wise decisions.

I remember seeing Vince Young play when he was in college at Texas.  And Michael Vick was virtually unstoppable at Virginia Tech. Then there is Johnny "football" Manziel who was great at Texas A&M and RG 3 who was terrific at Baylor.

Young was great at Texas. Made smart decisions and had great skills, but he did not last long in the pros.  Vick has proven to be just mediocre as a pro.  Nobody ever laid an egg like Manziel did in his debut a few weeks back. RG 3, after a great start, is not doing a whole lot as a pro.

The thing is that quarterbacks who are great in college, and are great in part because they can run, are not so special in the pros.  What makes them remarkable in college is that half the time the defenders don't know if they are going to pass or run.  In the pros they might run a bit, but after they take a few shots, they are not going to be running a whole lot. So in the pros a dimension that made them special is a relatively insignificant asset.

What makes quarterbacks great in the professional ranks is a combination of brains, industry, and passing talent.

I am not suggesting that Mariota is not smart--to the contrary.  But one of his assets is that he is playing in a fast offense in which he is a running threat. Professional teams--with the exception of Philadelphia--do not play up tempo and no team is successful when the quarterback as runner is part of the offense.

So here is my prediction. Someone will draft Mariota in the first round and think he will be a savior. And he will not be.

Of course I predicted that Florida State--now getting tattooed--would win today.


Welcome to the new year.

Today begins the first ever NCAA Division 1 football playoff.  Regardless of the outcomes, it has done what all who were proponents assumed it would. It made the regular season meaningful.   There will be a champion who wins on the field and who earned the right to be on the field to compete. The playoff system has also had the side effect of making the other non playoff bowl games meaningful.

Predictions today.

  • Oregon should beat FSU, but they won't.  FSU has won games by magic and somehow they will magically survive today. Teams that run and gun often lose their way when a defense slows them down. I think we will see this today. 
  • OSU will defeat Alabama in an upset. Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football. He has rarely lost at Ohio State, and almost never lost at Florida, and almost never lost at Utah.  Saban is no slouch himself, but I like Ohio State today.