Monday, September 18, 2006

Woe is me, Woe is Jackson...

Wow. What a bummer of a football weekend for yours truly. It started early with the underwhelming Maryland Terrapins getting handed their jocks by a lightly scheduled, but still formidable West Virginia. I continue to remain loyal to the Fridge at UM for his honestly if nothing else. When asked about turning away a scholarship to WV star Steve Slaton he simply offered, “Yeah, that was a pretty dumb move on my part”. It’s going to be a long season for the Terps I’m afraid.

The GT vs Troy game was a respite from the let down. As many expected, Troy came with game in hand after shutting people up in Tallahassee two weekends ago. Same thing happened here. They hung in with GT’s defense and played like they belonged in Div IA football. Late 3rd/early4th qtr, GT went up by a touchdown and Troy seemed to panic and ended up losing control as they did against FSU. Good teams like GT and FSU know how to exploit this and both did handing Troy their second straight loss. It was a nice day and a good game. A word of warning to GT fans: Don’t be so quick to clear a spot on the calendar for the conference championship just yet. Clemson is most definitely for real and will be HIGHLY motivate to get even for all the squeakers GT’s pulled off over the last couple of years. (Why aren’t we going to this game?)

The events of the day left me physically drained and after having a pleasant evening with my wife and mother in law who was passing through on her way to Savannah, I headed up early to bed. I knew the Army vs. Texas A&M game had started late and was more than likely at half time. I also knew that I’d get little resistance to watching it since Mrs. Alva was fairly exhausted herself and would drift to sleep quickly, but I was given to serious evaluation of the merits of staying up into the wee hours just to see Army get demolished by one of the “sure loss” teams on their independent schedule (I even picked A&M to cover on my card). I attempted to fain interest by putting the local news on and picked up my book hoping I could resist, but eventually succumbed to temptation and flipped over to ESPN2 to catch the score. “HOLY SHIT! Army has them tied up 14-14 at the half” I said to my barely conscious love of my life quickly followed by, “Ah crap, I don’t want to stay up until 1:00 am watching them get their hearts broken, do I?”

Of course that’s exactly what I did readers, and that’s exactly what the outcome was. Army looked like a real football team out there as they once again proved themselves to be the best team in the league at winning a football game without actually winning the game. They lost the game with possession of the ball at Texas A&M’s two yard line 28-24 as time ran out. Go here and get all the gory details, but it was indeed quite exciting if not demoralizing. As I stated in a post early this year in regards to being an Army football fan: this is the life, the burden, we choose. I hope they can recover from this near upset and play well next week.

I listened to the Falcons win on the car radio (despite missing exactly 47 field goals) and upon returning to my homestead following a terrible round of golf in Peachtree City with my dad, brother in law, and Tom Culver, USMA class of 62 and Army football letterman himself, I turned on the Jet game with some trepidation.

The Jets were down 24 zip against the New England Patriots and people were leaving the stadium as the third quarter clicked passed the five minute mark. I was sure that I had nothing more in me after the Army loss and considered watching something else, but I knew Jackson would give me shit about it so I hung on. Just as I resigned myself to my decision, Chad Pennington connected to Jerricho Cotchery who was then delivered a vicious high/low hit by two Patriot safeties. A hit so awesome I was sure Cotchery was going to claim he was Batman once the whistle blew, but instead the dude somehow avoided letting his knee or his elbow touch the ground, he quickly rights himself, and sprints another 40 yards or so for a touchdown. I’m sure the play ran on every local sports highlight reel and much deservedly so. Okay, now I’m hooked. Following a three and out Pat’s series Laveranues Coles does an amazing dance to the end zone after catching a short screen pass and the Jets are now in the game with a quarter still to play. They made it exciting including blocking a Pat's field goal in the waning minutes, but in the end couldn’t rally enough to get the victory. I was left exhausted yet again. I’m sure Jackson would tell you: Such is being a Jets fan, this is the life, the burden, we choose.

I will forgive the disparaging remarks he made this weekend in the comments section of his blog with regard to the greatest game in the universe (college football) and wish him and his team the best next week knowing that he’ll have to contend with his new comment friend and annoyingly rabid Dallas Cowboys fan after the Redskin’s disappointed the world by not beating the star helmet sneeches.

Football starts early for us this week with UVA coming to Bobby Dodd to get their ass whuppin’ at the hands of the Ramblin’ Wreck on Thursday nights ESPN game. Going to be fun and perhaps uplifting?


At 12:15 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Your weekend would improve mightily if you ditched that nasty college football habit, less losses to fret over, save it for the important stuff, the games that matter are on sunday, and monday night, and sometimes on thursday and saturday night - but not during the day on saturday, except Army games, you are allowed that vice.

At 1:59 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Of course, I have to respectfully disagree… Sans the overt cheats (like Reggie Bush et al) and the standard level of corruption that comes with anything in America, college football remains pretty much an amateur sport. A team’s ability to win any given year can change quickly and the ups and downs are very exciting to follow. It’s greatest appeal to me is the fact that “careers” are finite. Too big a deal is made about guys like Bush (even if he wasn’t a cheat) which creates a collective memory lapse in regards to the other 75 kids who suit up and take the field every Saturday. They play their hearts out for four years and move on to regular jobs like most of us have. Like you, I grew up on Army football and share the same undying love for the team. There is no other team I follow that matches that distinction. It’s even more pure than big time conference football. This is why I have such a soft heart for the underdog in the college game. My favorites are the small academic schools who compete in leagues with these huge football factories like Auburn, UGA, and FSU. Teams like Wake Forest, Duke, even GT. I love to see Goliath slain on the rare occasions it happens like Army beating Tennessee back in the eighties. You just don’t have that in the NFL, or it’s been ruined by free agency.

Having said that, I moved to the south 15 years ago and have become immersed in the culture of the college game. I resisted for a long time, but it’s highly contagious. It is a MUCH bigger deal than the NFL down here. Yes, the NFL has a solid fan base like any city, but the real turn out down here is on Saturdays my friend. I may have heard you say one time, “It’s the ‘We’ part I don’t like about the college game…”. This I don’t get. I can’t reconcile this sentiment with your undying love for the Jets for instance, or our shared love for the Army team.

Like a moth drawn to a porch light, I’ll admit part of the appeal is the kids. I love being on a college campus. I’m not attempting to live vicariously through them (although I’ve been known to display this behavior sometimes), it’s just a ton of positive energy and optimism gathered within the confines of a 55,000 seat stadium. I’ve been to many NFL games including a division championship. It is a very good game indeed and I lost my voice and got the same hangover I end up with Sunday following a Saturday home game, but the experience is entirely different. The players are better, the speed is much faster, everything is precision, where even the best of Div. 1A don’t come close to what the worst team in the NFL can execute. But that’s the point. The college game IS imperfect and that’s the appeal. Going to an NFL game there is nothing you see or do once you enter the gate that isn’t about money and that extends to the players. No matter what you or anyone says, other than a lucky 25 or so that sign the big contracts, this is not the case for the above mentioned faceless 75 other players that show up for nothing more than the glory and love of the game.

Maybe you’ll get a taste of it if one of your road trips has you here during a home stand. That would be great…

At 6:43 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger fatsacca said...

Mrs. Alva sounds alright, she let's you watch football all the time and play golf too and drink beer before 10:00 am? Cool.

At 10:00 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

Cheat? Get over it. Taking money isn't cheating, it's sensible.

College football is fun....when you are in college - grow up.

If those other 75 kids were given the same choices they'd take the money, and sign up for the NFL without a second thought.

Face it, it's a corrupt system, and as long as the NCAA ants to beleive that there's some inherient benevolence is 'ameture status' it will remain so.

The 'we' thing bothers me because 'we' don't suit up and take hits, 'we' drink beer and yell at the ref.

Still, any football is better than none. I just think the NCAA lives in a dream world.

At 10:44 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Taking money IS cheating when the NCAA rules prohibit it (what next? Your endorsement of stealing downloadable music?). I don't disagree at all with anybody who takes the position that college athletes need some way to earn extra pocket money, but I’d say that your knowledge of the game, or lack there of, handicaps your argument and on top of that, it would appear that you missed the point of my response: The FACT is that most college football players WON’T go on to play in the professional ranks and, and here’s a bulletin, MOST know this. If that qualifies for benevolence, well that’s up to the individual, but it certainly qualifies for 'amateur status'.

“College football is fun....when you are in college - grow up.” WTF? On the rag this week?

Reading your blog, I’d say your comments regarding the “We” factor is apropos to both college and pro, yes?

I don’t begrudge any player who opts out early for the draft. If they’re that good, they should follow their dream, but if that’s the basis for your position on college athletics (i.e. the handful that get drafted to play in the pro’s) you’re excluding the legions of guys who are grateful to get a free $150,000 education, and show up to play for the love of the game. I’ll bet Maurice Clarett understands this all to well right now. Geez, I’d think you’d see some benevolence in that. Isn’t that the modus operandi is for the billions unsigned musicians who take the stage each night in some half filled night club, or is makin’ money why they do it?

It IS a great game. Perhaps if the area of the country you reside had more Div 1A programs (one’s that were any good) it’d be as popular as it is down here. I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, but relax and lay off the haterade…

At 11:37 AM, September 20, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...


Mrs. Alva is truely a wife I think I'll keep.


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