Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For Dr. Zibbs...

Pennsylvania’s own pig masked psycho serial killer and uber blogger Dr. Zibbs was lamenting about being brought back in time by a radio tune from his youth. I love that. It happens to me frequently since music was a huge part of my youth even before I discovered Kiss and hard rock. When I was first brought back in time by the song below 15 years ago, I had a hard time figuring out what the title of the tune was and who recorded it. Ultimately I gave up. Enter the age of the internets and all I had to do was Google a lyric and BAM!, it’s now in heavy rotation on the iPhone.

Back in 1976, I was tortured by being sent off to yet another Catholic School that naturally I hated. Why couldn’t I be bused into the oh so safe intercity of Norfolk VA and fear for my life like my brother Mathdude. Damn he was lucky… Anyway, while all my friends waited at the bus stop together, I had to put on a gayass uniform and wait for the carpool to swing by and pick us up so old hag nuns could wail on me all day. Needless to say, I had VERY little motivation to get up and out of bed in the morning and my folks tried everything in the book to hasten the process, up to and including throwing nasty dish sink sponges into the bed with me. It was all out of love I’m sure.

The first action they employed involved turning the radio on and cranking it up through our cheesy 1070’s house-wide intercom system. This was the only part of getting up that I enjoyed back in those days. As a result, I absorbed thousands of 70’s radio hits that crackled out of that lousy speaker on the wall by the door. Out of all of them, this one is amongst the badest of bad. If you can’t groove to it, than you simply have no soul and are a shell of a human. Or you might be like, Scandinavian white or something. Hell, even this kid whose parents weren’t even born yet when the song came out spent the time to work the tune out on the bass (restores my faith in the youth of today a little bit).

Without further ado, I give you Brick performing their 1976 hit “Jazz Dazz”...

A little Tony Alva leadership advice...

Date: September 30, 2008

To: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

From: Tony Alva and a shitload of people that seek a bipartisan solution to Wall St. crisis

Subject: How to win friends and influence people

Ms. Pelosi,

A bit of advise to you and that douchebag Barney Frank: When you're having a hard time mustering votes in your own party for passage of one of the most important bills to hit the floor in decades and must convince a skeptical bunch of number crunching GOP members who's constituencies are ringing they're phones off the hook and pleading with them to vote "Nay", do us all a favor and...





Monday, September 29, 2008

I read the news today oh boy...

Some news seems to immediately trump what was only moments ago screaming front page headlines. Take for instance the events of Saturday: Florida’s loss to Ole Miss, on a blocked extra point even! That WAS news I tell ya. Just as that was being telegraphed over the wire, the University of Maryland Terrapins upset the number twenty-two ranked Clemson Tigers. Wow! Things are getting wackier and my day is getting brighter with each passing moment was what I was telling myself. Then, relegating the Terps big upset to the backseat was an even more mind blowing turn of events that made all educated people in the state of Georgia forget the long gas lines (due to the fake gas shortage), Georgia went down 31-0 in the first half of what was supposed to be their national championship coming out party against the Alabama Forrest Gumps and never got in the game. It was an ugly scene between the hedges out in Athens my friends. Thousands of UGA undergrads mournfully wandering back to their dorm rooms to study for that tow truck operator’s exam they had coming up this morning. I'm no stickler for spelling as anyone who reads this terrible blog knows, but can we stop spelling 'Dogs' dawgs?

But the scoop of all scoops came unexpectedly on Sunday as morning gave way to afternoon as speaker Nancy Pelosi was announcing tentative agreement had been reached on the Wall Street bailout plan. Yes, after battling through a serious cold and slight bit of a hangover due to the prior night’s festivities, Tony Alva shot a round of 89 at the Flat Creek Country Club’s Homestead/Old Mill course. This was Tony’s first foray into the wonderful world of sub 90’s golf. Now THAT is some hard hitting news right there boys. When asked, I can now answer the question “What do you shoot?” with confident and casually arrogance, “Oh, I shoot in the eighties… Can you now go fetch me a plate of jumbo shrimp from the buffet please. Com’on, move along, Tony’s hungry, and put a little cocktail sauce on the side of the plate for me will you…”.

Oh yeah, nice slaughter of the Arizona Cardinals: The Last Place Arizona Cardinals, Perhaps the Worstest Team Ever Assembled - Ever! at the hands of the ever increasingly confident New York Jets. Can anyone tell me what the hell uniforms the Jets were sporting out there Sunday? I saw the highlights on Sports Center and thought the Cardinals were getting pummeled by the equally lousy St’ Louis Rams or something. Mathdude, it’s time to pick a new team my man. I’ve heard that Stan Brock is looking to get the Cardinals on Army’s schedule in lieu of Navy this December.

How’d everybody else do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roosting Chickens...

Been slammed at work for the last week or so, and thus lots of Tony Alva outrage and analysis has gone undocumented. I’ve sort of refrained from lashing out about the bailout plan mainly because it’s a huge animal that just might, just maybe, just perhaps, 99% of us don’t know shit about. The fact that it’s occurring in an election year is making mining real facts even tougher. So here’s what I’ve learned in my meager attempt to get up to speed, and what fits with my own experience...

It’s been interesting watching the democrats sling blame at “Bush Policy” for what has happened. Actually, from what I’ve learned from diving into this thing it was pretty much a bi-partisan pile of poop. It all started with lending money in the way of mortgages to folks that previously could not qualify for a loan. Dems (and GOP'ers) were hot to provide under earners with a home of their own and were more than willing to sponsor any legislation that made the American dream possible. The primary impetus for my leaving New York ( a place I love) for Atlanta 17 years ago was to own my own home someday, something I felt was not going to be possible in NY. I can fully relate to those who share(d) the quest and would certainly have supported this legislation myself.

Lenders (okay, let’s just say that many were more than likely Republicans), were resistant to lowering the bar on loan criteria without two things: Some type of federal guarantee, and the ability to get PAID for their risk in the way of higher interest rates for these earning deficient borrowers. A compromise to both desires was drafted, passed, and signed by the president and off to the races we went.

What went wrong? Two things, the first being people are greedy and this situation was ripe for the picking. So much greed it’s hard to know where to start. Banks making the loans to marginal buyers, bundling them and selling them as ambiguous value at the macro level, something that has been done with auto loans forever. Crooked real estate agents partnered with equally crooked brokers ripping off uneducated buyers (this was the case for the buyers of our own house last year). House flippers out to game EVERY hole in the system (so simple anybody could do it, right?). Builders fired up their own mortgage businesses and anybody with a job, no matter what their annualized earnings or longevity in position, was now qualified to live in a Masters Collection Series 5 bd, 3 ½ bath home, with the stack stone/stucco frontage, granite everywhere, in a gated community. (My wife and I as newly weds were told that we qualified for close to $300K on a combined income of less than $60,000 back in 1995 for Christ sakes! No, we didn’t take that note).

I know there’s more in the details, but that’s what I’ve gathered as far as run away greed goes…

The second, many of these borrowers plain and simply were not ready, and perhaps will NEVER be capable of honoring a 30 year mortgage whether it be on account of the fact they don’t earn enough, can’t keep a job, have ZERO financial discipline, or a combination of all three and more. The no cost/no money down mortgage greatly DEVALUED the essence of homeownership in the American dream sense. Everything was fine for a while since soaring appreciation meant that flippers were there to pick up the foreclosures and re-sell them to a whole new set of unqualified buyers. Even with the foreclosures, lending was so liberal that the inventory beast needed continued feeding. Of course, when there are too many foreclosures, values drop and then flipping is no longer a lucrative business.

At the philosophical and political level, I am as torn by this situation as I am with payday/car title loan business. It angers me beyond words that these assholes prey on those in need to a degree that they do. Georgia has a HUGE problem with these evil institutions and I myself cannot see how anyone in their right mind would use the services of a payday/title loan shop. At the same time, from a liberty perspective, it’s not a whole lot different than casino gambling. People go in knowing the odds are against them, but they alone have the CHOICE to roll the dice or not. It is a pure freewill act to enter a casino or a payday loan shop. It boils down to this: Do people require the government to be protected from themselves? While I say no emphatically, my hatred for the piranhas and bottom feeders remain front and center. How does one reconcile this? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. I do think that, just like those who put their last dollar down on red and lost deserve nothing more than a "Sorry pal...", the same is true for the house when they make a bad bet, or the rare instance a patron hits a lucky streak. Along with most, I feel far less sorry for them for feeding on their fellow man's short comings.

So, from what I know at this moment the key things I want to see in any bailout plan is ZERO taxpayers dollars going to greedy shithead CEO’s and VP’s for golden parachutes. Any plan that involves my tax dollars must include a severe financial penalty to those who captained these ships. It should also include a rollback of federal pressure on banks to make loans to under earning and unqualified borrowers. Banks will no doubt be more conservative about who and what their loans fund on their own, but we need a return to reason with borrowing criteria. No more zero down mortgages or rolling required down payments into loans. Proof that one can save some money over a period of time is a great way for banks to gauge an individual’s ability to pay a loan back. It’s just a start, but that’s what I can cobble together as this point in my own education.

Anyone who is willing to straighten me out on anything I've got wrong feel free, but know I will ignore anything that wholly blames one party over the other.

Wouldn’t it be great if this fiasco turned out to be the greatest bi-partisan solution ever drafted by our government, especially in an election year?

Fat chance, right?

More importantly, did you hear that People Magazine is reporting that Clay Aiken has admitted to being a gay man? Holy shit! How could I have missed that?!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Absolutely horrible news...

Richard Wright, Pink Floyd's most esteemed gentleman and pianist has died after a battle with cancer. I hope he and Ian Stewart are together lifting a pint or two and having a laugh at the drama that surrounds their more celebrated fellow band mates.
Rest in peace my man...

It's not whether you win or lose...

It was one of those “you gotta love the game” weekends since most of my teams will be shaking the stink of defeat off of them ahead of Monday practice. The one notable exception was the Maryland Terrapins who beat the dirty, tree sitting, hippies of Berkley California, and after all who wouldn’t want to do that. Beat a tree sitting hippie that is (How could they not know that football will always trump trees? Sheez...) Oh yeah, Cal just so happened to have been ranked twenty-second. The Terps seemed to be bi-polar this year due to a QB controversy that just may have been settled by Chris “Napoleon Dynamite” Turner’s stellar performance Saturday. He got the Terps on the board early and way out in front preventing the patchouli brigade from ever really getting any foothold in the game. Big win, big confidence builder.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had a chance to stir up the ACC with a win over a better than their record Virginia Tech. Paul Johnson’s G Tech team actually looked very good and they executed the option with flashes of brilliance with the exception of one glaring weakness: fumbles. Had they not given the up the ball as many times as they did, we’d be talking a different story here in ACC land this Monday. No matter, they can still spank Mississippi State, Duke, and Gardner-Webb (is that a community college?) and be 5-1 ahead of the rest of their ACC schedule. That’s a lot of game experience before the tough ones. My brother’s UNC Tar Heel’s stomped all over The State University of New Jersey (Rutger’s) Thursday night causing a stir all over the conference. Could we be seeing a resurgence of The Blue?

I guess the good news is that Army didn’t lose a game this weekend. They had a bye.

On to the pro’s…

The Falcons. Well, they certainly dashed away all the “Can they?!” talk with what was a typical ‘bunch of new guys’ performance. The Falcons offensive line was abysmal. Ryan ate a lot of turf and took many shots (many of them cheap). Welcome to the NFL Matt. They managed to stay in the game, but there was no feeling that they could keep up in my mind. Lot’s of work to be done there.

The Jets were stunned by the performance of Matt Cassel. Bill Belichick has obviously made a deal with the devil. I thought the Jets didn’t look too bad really. I hate that they lost, but with Farve’s short time in camp, I think there’s much to look forward ahead for Gang Green.

What’s up with that HORRIBLE call during the Bronco/Chargers game? Phillip Rivers and the San Diego bunch were freaking ROBBED! As much as I hate Denver, I’ve gotta give mad props to Shanahan for the go for the win two point conversion call. That was ballsy.

My Raiders. What the hell? They win. How did they manage to do that? I’m glad it was on television somewhere lest there be actual proof that it happened. An owner essetially locking out a coach in order to get him to quit. An organization in as much trouble and scraping the bottom as Army.

Mantra I’m living by today: It’s still early.

Another one: Go Eagles!!!

How ‘bout that banking industry?!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Whip it up...

In addition to following the Jupiter size disappointment that is West Point’s football program that I've been boring my three readers with lately, I’ve been enjoying The Misanthrope’s election analysis of the last month or so. Yes, we’re both of similar conservative bent, but we also share a bewilderment of the rich foamy lather that the campaign season brings. I refer to this as the WWF factor. It breaks the sanest and well spoken of pundits and bloggers. A blogger I admire and respect to the level of brotherhood was so incensed this week about Sen. Palin that he hurled borderline insults that kind of shocked me and many of his other readers. I hold no grudge and remain a faithful reader and friend of course, but what an ungluing. You have to have thick skin to talk politics with your friends in a bar, much less an open public forum like a blog. No way I could say that I’ve not lost myself on occasion as much as I try to stay afloat on top of it.

This week what has struck me as amazing is how fast the "reach across the isle" meme has disappeared from Obama’s stump. Sad, because that was the thing that most appealed to me about Obama. It appealed to me that he seemed to be a listener. I liked that he changed his mind on his Iraq withdrawal plan. To me it showed that facts can change his mind. I gave a great deal of thought to what I see as a major difference between the two men running for office last night, the differences beyond the well trotted ground of supposed major policy issues and the jingoism of both campaigns, the differences that mostly guide my voting decision.

I think the major diff between the two PRESIDENTIAL candidates is one guys operating strategy is to rely heavily on advisors and consult to sort of adjudicate a decision and make policy. I’ve worked for people that manage this way. They’re managers who have little understanding of the minutia and nuance of a particular issue that requires a decision be made. They didn’t rise through the ranks like many of their subordinates. They call a meeting with representation from both sides of the issue either together or separate, earnestly listen to “arguments”, and then make a decision. Obama is a lawyer; this is sort of his training. He’s also young and less in the know about the minutia that makes ANY major policy decision difficult, but if he picks trusted intelligent folks to summarize for him it can and has worked.

The other candidate has been around for a LONG time. He graduated from USNA 3rd generation. He’s got a foundation of principled ideology underneath a great deal of worldly experience dealing with the minutia and the macro, both failures and successes. On account of this, he has very specific ideas of how he’d like to see things operate. I have worked for these types of people too. It’s sometimes referred to in the hyperbolic sense as “visionary”. These people also utilize advisors and consultants, but for a different purpose. They tend to use these folks to support their “vision” and advise them of pratfalls and risks of their ideas, in addition to making recommendations for compromises. I think this encapsulates McCain’s legislative approach pretty fairly.

These two subtle management approaches mirror the aged old and often argued beef NCO’s have with their commissioned counter parts. One has boots on the ground experience and training with actual troops, perhaps in live fire situations. The other has studied tactics and leadership in a classroom setting, but will have to rely on NCO’s and other advisors to guide decisions. History provides many examples of both types of leaders, exceptional, grossly incompetent, and all point inbetween. It's also worthy of note that both bring a management skill set to the table that is valuable to the other.

Bush for example I would argue was/is more like Obama than many supports might think. Not as well studied version of Obama, but one who relied on his “trusted” advisors to a fault. His lack of vision and gulibility made him a slave to these advisors and it led to disasters (one word: Rumsfeld. Oh, here’s another: Brownie). It seems that Bush never made any attempt to bone up on the minutia even when things started looking bad. Managing like this can also put you in the compromising position of being beholden to others. I think this is how Bush spent his way into oblivion. Bush did a horrible job of managing using this approach. He simply lacked the big brain to keep his head around it all. No need to point to evidence, it's pretty glaring to most (i.e. proxy Pres in the VP seat). That does NOT mean Obama couldn’t make it work. He’s a VERY smart guy (despite his campaign blunders lately) and if he could somehow manage to keep from being cooped by special interests and partisanship, be his own man, perhaps go against his party on a few issues, he could really be something else as president. That’s a big somehow though.

It’s also the most glaring example of how different John McCain is to George Bush. Even McCain's worst detractors couldn't claim he doesn't comes to the table with strong opinions, ideas, and policy. John McCain has spent a second lifetime digging through minutia in decades of committee meetings before becoming a legitimate candidate for the executive office. He’s served in the armed forces from pee on level to decorated officer. This is stated fact. Part of the reason I believe that McCain was still hanging around in the polls before the Palin pick was that most know he’s NOTHING like George Bush and Misanthrope is right when he says that the whole McCain = Bush thing is a failed campaign approach by Obama.

No telling what will push the needle to one side or the other in this campaign. It might be something completely unrelated to either’s suitability for office. It might be a slip of the tongue that morphs into a viral sound bite that takes one guy down. We’ve got a Presidential candidate running himself against a Vice Presidential candidate for cripes sake. I sincerely hope not and will continue to do my best to ignore the Sean Hannity/Bill Mahr bullshit as best I can, or mock it at least.

So, weird things have gone down and I'm not expecting that much will change. I’m prepared for both camps to carefully couch what they say for the next seven weeks which is truely sad. I'd much rather hear them speak their mind about how their particular management style is better suited for the office of President.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: A bad situation getting worst for Army Football...

In a late development, according to IDM sources in the West Point/ Highland Falls area, Army’s top quarterback recruit plebe Paul McIntosh, a topped ranked high school prospect from Indiana, resigned from the military academy on Monday along with fellow teammate, fullback Patrick Mealy. The McIntosh resignation was confirmed by the Mid-Hudson’s Times-Herald Record, “McIntosh was an option star at Reitz High in Evansville, Ind., where he was named Indiana's Mr. Football in 2007. Many thought McIntosh's arrival was a major reason why Army changed to an option offense this season”, according to the report.

What a freaking disaster. More…

“Brock questioned his entire team's character after Army dropped its second consecutive home game to start the season, saying, ‘I think some guys quit.’”

While the players may have in fact given up during the game, IT”S YOUR FREAKING JOB TO KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING YOU MORON!!!

From McIntosh’s former high school coach John Hart:

"From my standpoint, I don't understand it," Hart said. "They just got beat by a Division I-AA school and the best player in Indiana is not on your No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 deep depth chart?"

Read the article, I can’t quote any more, it’s just too painful. You know what this sounds like to me? It sounds like an 18 year old plebe just might have known more about how to run an option offense than his colossally moronic head coach.

Brock must be fired. The Superintendent, the Army Athletic Association, and perhaps some folks in Washington need to GET THIS SITUATION SQUARED AWAY NOW!

CLARIFICATION: After discussing my previous posts with Yoda Jacket, he pointed out that he thought I was deficient in my mention of Navy’s and Air Force’s successes. He’s right. For the record, I have nothing but MAD PROPS for both the Air Force program over the last 10 years, but especially Navy. I watched Paul Johnson’s first game as head coach and Navy’s season opener against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets with our group of friends when GT clobbered Navy by 70 points, a devastating and demoralizing loss. Navy won only a couple of games that season, one of them against Army. The following year they got their first bowl invitation in decades and have been back to many bowl games since. There’s a stark contrast in coaching ability right there. Johnson get’s his team up after a disastrous season to beat Army, Brock has his top players not only quitting football, but leaving the academy.

The Corps deserves better...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Army football revisited (for fans only, all three of them)

(I started this response to Fatsacca's comment to my last post and got pretty fired up while drafting it. I couldn’t help myself. I'm still reeling at the loss this past Saturday. For those two people who might actually read it all here it is…)


Good to hear from you...

Ah, the peanut gallery. Every time an Army game is televised I always take a gander at our little corner of the stadium to see what's happening as I'm sure many others who spent their Saturday’s there along with us do.

Yes, Army has been beaten by many greats throughout my life as a brat at WP, but I was also fortunate enough to have lived there when the football program experienced a resurgence and became a force to be reckoned with in the mid to late 80's and into the 90's. The legend reads like this:

Jim Young took a defeated Army team over from Ed Cavanaugh after Young left Purdue in 1983. In five years with Purdue, Young had amassed a 38-19-1 record. Not bad. He came to a cellar dwelling program at Army and in his first year goes 2-9, including another demoralizing loss to Navy on the pitch at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Army football fans sighed a big “Whatever…”. On the plane ride back from Pasadena it is said that Young’s offensive coordinator sat down next to him and conceded to his boss that the caliber player Army is able to recruit will never have the capability to keep up with the bigger schools and their ever expanding passing schemes, and the only way to effectively compete against them is to find a way to keep their opponents offense off the field. He suggested to Young that Army dust off the Wishbone playbook and implement it right away.

Who knew at the time what a stroke of genius this was. Smaller, simpler playbook, focused on what cadets CAN do vs. attempting make them do what they CAN’T. A discipline and decision based offense that kept an opponents offense off the field and made their big fat defensive linemen huff and puff while they chased these little cadets all over the field down after down, play after play. Young must have thought at this point, "What the hell do I have to lose".

It was boring to some to watch for some, but in 1984 its effectiveness could not be denied. Young took Army to an 8-3-1 record the following year grinding it out on the ground yard by yard. They tied Tennessee IN TENNESSEE stunning everyone with even the slightest interest in the college game. Their winning record earned them a bid to play in the inaugural Cherry Bowl where they beat a heavily favored Michigan State. That season, if Army happened to find themselves down ten points late in the fourth quarter, Young determinedly stuck to his game plan and taught the cadets the same patience and discipline. The following year, they went 9-3 and beat Illinois in the Peach Bowl here in Atlanta. In those two years the Army team finished RANKED number twenty-two in the nation both seasons! The following two years of the Young era saw the Army team play to consecutive .500 records (one highlight of the 1985 season was an Army VICTORY over Tennessee in Knoxville). On the heals of their success, the program began putting tougher opponents on the schedule at the same time losing a couple of key backfield and offensive line players to graduation. But college football is cyclical, and in 1988 Army went 9-3 and played tough, but lost to a heavily favored Alabama in the Sun Bowl and by a one point margin.

The following two years had Army going 6-5 in each, but the program was riding high and stacking up year after year wins over Navy. Added to that was a couple of wins over Air Force that kept fans and The Corps energized. Jim Young left at the end of the 1990 season. He was heard to comment that in order to sustain a winning program at West Point, a coach must maintain a level of energy that can take years off an older man’s life. He was exhausted. The team was handed to Bob Sutton, Young’s offensive coordinator who served under him his entire time as head coach at Army. Sutton struggled for the next few years as Army opponents began to take the wishbone seriously and actually took to practice against it in preperation to play Army. In Sutton’s first five years the Army team was better than .500 only once, but the key to him keeping his job was beating Navy and other teams Army was SUPPOSED to beat (something they haven’t been able to do for a long time now). Then, in 1996, hard work paid off and Sutton took Army to a 10-2 record, one of the two losses coming against Auburn at the Independence Bowl where Army missed a last second field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime. Auburn coach Terry Bowden only weeks before had threatened to turn down such a “lowly” bowl invitation and had publicly denounced Army as an unworthy opponent to his sagging football factory. After nearly losing to Army in one of the most exciting games I've ever watched, he earnestly apologized in front of the cameras. This author here will never forgive his arrogance and to this day I turn him off when he appears on television.

On the strength of the 1996 season, the academy made a colossal blunder, a gaph of epic proportions. It was announced that beginning with the 1998 season Army would be joining the marginal Conference USA not just in football, but many of the academy’s other sports as well. Sutton struggled against conference opponents whose teams were made up of creeps and thugs who rarely, if ever, set foot in a classroom their entire college careers. After struggling in two years of conference play, Sutton was unceremoniously sacked on the street outside the gates of Philadelphia’s Veteran Stadium after losing to Navy for the second time in three years. The deed was carried out by West Point’s newly anointed Army AD Rich Greenspan who had plans of his own. We would all soon find out that the hiring of Greenspan as Army’s Athletic Director would become added insult to injury to our battered and beloved Army team.

In hindsight there were many, including myself, who thought Sutton was the only problem. He failed to upgrade the wishbone with ANY passing component at all like many other option schools were doing, but we now know that joining a conference, especially Conference USA, was the real bonehead move and contrary to the mission of the academy. Those of us who were lucky enough to have basked in the glory of all those Jim Young years were lusting after bigger bowl games, ESPN highlight reels, and top 25 rankings. We’d simply been blinded by light of college football glory. Army football had become bigger than the academy’s mission to many close to it. If there were those that didn’t understand how upside down this thinking was, the events of 9/11 set them straight including your humble author.

As Malcolm McDowell’s character in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ narrates as he is driven to suicide, “This is the sad and weepy part oh my brothers…”. Most Army football fans waited with hope filled anticipation (guarded as it may have been) for search committees to be formed and candidates to be vetted through the winter that followed Sutton’s horribly handled firing (this is a guy who served the academy faithfully for sixteen years, through up’s and down’s and was rudely handed his hat on the streets of Philadelphia. He is now the defensive coordinator for the NY Jets). Much to our collective shock and barely 10 days after announcing the commencement of a national search, Greenspan abruptly announced he was hiring his good buddy and coach of his former Div IAA institution Illinois State. Shock at the announcement could be felt throughout the Army football community, but most just thought, “Well, they’ve got to know what there their doing up there, right?”.

The four seasons that followed made the Conference USA decision look like a stroke a sheer brilliance. Together Todd Berry and Rich Greenspan, neither of who had ANY comprehension whatsoever of West Point and its unique challenges, completely decimated the Army football program beyond anything ever seen before. Berry and Greenspan quickly alienated the prep school coaches, recruiting staff, and scouts with their ineptitude and lack of understanding of what kind of individual comes to West Point. In his first press conference, Todd Berry arrogantly made grandiose predictions of undefeated seasons and bowl game invites as he abandoned entirely Army's option offense for the West Coast variety. Todd Berry and Rich Greenspan collectively amassed a shameful record of 5-36 in their four year tenure, including an NCAA Div IA record of thirteen losses in a single season (scheduling an extra game against an emerging Hawaii by skirting the NCAA rules about maximum number of games allowed to be played on the continental U.S. Just another Berry/Greenspan blunder). Take a minute to let that sink in: won five games in four seasons and never beat Navy. There were cadets that entered West Point and played all four seasons and won only five games. Players who were now newly minted 2nd Lt.’s reporting to units deployed in battle who won only one game in two seasons, three in another and went 0-13 in their last. Wow.

The Superintendent mercifully fired Berry midway through the 0-13 season and Greenspan ducked out in the summer that followed. Greenspan along with his associated stink were picked up as AD at Indiana where he immediately got their storied basketball program in hot water. He was most recently fired for ruining yet another program. Todd Berry kicked around in Div IAA for a year or two before ending up on Miami’s coaching staff as a QB coach. Miami finished in the basement of the ACC that year and Coker along with most of his staff were fired. The Miami football program was a train heading off the rails.

That leads us into recent history in which Bobby Ross feels a patriotic duty to come out of comfortable retirement and restore respectability to the Army football program. A good guy doing it for the right reasons. Berry to Ross, what a change. The game wasn’t televised, but on October 9th 2004 when Army miraculously defeated fellow Conference USA opponent Cincinnati for their first home win in a very long time, the Corps stormed the field, tore down the goal posts, carried them down the hill, and erected them in the Superintendent’s front yard. I was lucky enough to have seen the celebration late Saturday night on ESPN College Football Round Up. I’m not at all afraid to admit tears were welling up as I watched.

So hear we are. Ross found out the hard way what Jim Young had discovered years earlier about the youthful stamina required to win at West Point in this day and age. The bottom line is this: In order to be successfully at Army, one must understand all that I have written above to a depth far greater than an outsider such as me possesses. Understand the kid who goes to West Point, not just to play football for 3-4 years, but his goals and aspirations military and otherwise, know who his family is, what motivates him, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and of course understand the primary mission of the academy. A coach at Army will NEVER have his players daily attention as long as his civilian counterparts do with their players. Army football players (Navy and Air Force for that matter) will never enjoy rock star like lives on campus and all the other spoils that come with playing football at a Div IA school. The head coach at Army needs to have a strong desire to be a part of West Point, it’s community, and share in his players off field cadet experience just as much as he wants to win games, because winning games is sometimes a rarity.

A winning program can be restored at West Point as they have at Air Force and Navy over the years. Both of these rivals have simply done what we all know needs to be done at West Point (Paul Johnson WILL win at Georgia Tech and anybody who takes them lightly will be sorry they did). We know the formula that works. We don’t need to drop to Div IAA play, and we don’t need to dangle shorter military commitments to attract better football players. We need to hire a competent option offense coach. Not a big name guy who flinches at 5-7 seasons, someone who wants to be there. Who wants to beat Navy and Air Force as much as The Long Gray Line does. I've seen what is needed with my own eyes and it happened regularly every Saturday while living at West Point in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

There is much to admire about any individual who decides to attend West Point. Its four years of days from pre-dawn to dusk filled with academic and physical activity that most of us could never endure. I know I couldn’t then or now. Being a football player at West Point in addition to the normal rigors of cadet life is beyond comprehension to me. As I said in my previous post, the Long Gray Line, The Corps, and fans everywhere deserve better than what they’ve had for the last decade and action should be taken immediately to make it right.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Time to go...

"I’m embarrassed, and I’m ashamed —- not that we lost to the University of New Hampshire [28-10], because they are a good football team, but by the way we did it. … I apologize to the United States Military, Corps of Cadets, anybody really who watched that game.”

- Army Football Coach Stan Brock after losing to Div IAA New Hampshire 9/6/08 -

Well, you ought to be you bastard…

There are no excuses anybody can make at this point for the sorry state of West Point's football program. The Superintendent, The Long Gray Line past, present, future, the community and fans all over the country should demand accountability. I've seen both of Army's games this season courtesy of ESPN Classic and for the second weekend in a row watching the debacle on the field has spoiled my mood through Monday. When will the academy learn that NOT conducting a national search for a head coach means virtual instant failure? Why, when finally deciding to adopt an option offense, the ONLY offense that has EVER made Army a contender, an offense that countless other schools including arch rival Navy has leveraged to put them in a four year run of bowl games, did Athletic Director Kevin Anderson keep Stan Brock. Stan Brock, a guy who came in as Bobby Ross’s (who gallantly tried to run a spread offense for two years before re-retiring) offensive coordinator and was handed the job with no consideration given to anybody else.

So here’s where we are… Army brought in arguable the best college football coach to rebuild the organization from the ruins of Todd Berry’s four year reign in which Army lost more games in one season than any other Div IA team has ever lost (0-13) and install a West Coast offense. While successfully generating renewed spirit in the program overall, Ross figures out that he’s too old, and West Point’s five year post graduation military commitment during a time of war too onerous to recruit a caliber of player to run an offense throwing the ball. Ross leaves exhausted. AD Anderson HANDS the job to former Ross OC Stan Brock. Army fans hope for a return to the option. Doesn’t happen. Army gets crushed by Navy last season for the billionth time in a row and wins 3 games all season. Brock scratches his ass and is heard to utter, “The option huh? Think they got any books in the library on how to do that?” This is the time in which AD Anderson should have been saying to himself, “I need to conduct a national search for an up and coming head coach experienced in running the option. Get a selection committee together stat...”. Instead, for two weeks he’s had Stan Brock out there on the sidelines flipping through a copy of ‘Wishbone for Dummies’ looking for all his highlighted sections while Div IA & IAA cupcakes, scheduled to give Army a chance at going 2-0 into the meatier parts of their schedule, run up and down the field spraying touchdowns like machine gun fire at Army. It’s tough to watch folks.

Local sports beats in the Hudson Valley are now questioning whether Army should be running an option offense. Morons all of them. What Stan Brock has the cadets running is NOT an option offense in any sense that most understand it. All one needs to do is watch Georgia Tech game film to see how it's supposed to be done, perhaps with less passing than GT has employed to date.

For all they get right up there at West Point, it absolutely befuddles me as to how they can’t seem to get the wheels back on the football program's train. I know football is not the academy's primary mission, I get that. So do the administrations in Annapolis and Colorado Springs, yet these service academies seem to field competitive teams year after year. There is simply NO excuse and the corps of cadets DESERVE BETTER.

So, as respectfully as can possibly convey to Superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck: Take a clue from Gen. Petraeus and do what needs to be done here. Fire Stan Brock immediately (Anderson too if he’s not on board), conduct a national search for replacement who has experience running an option offense at the college level and start recruiting soldier/players for this system. Enough of the excuses, the pathetic apologies, and chaos on the field.

Army football fans are not looking for a BSC bowl or a run at the national championship, but we absolutely expect to win games they are supposed to, and have a program worthy of the esteemed institution it represents.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Hey Fred, I have a venture that needs funding...

I can set up a meeting whenever you available Fred.

My little one (on the right) with her latest money making scheme. The cool thing is she buys a lot of music with her capital gains.

Welly, welly, welly, well...

Well, it sure has been an interesting week. Work has been hectic as all get out. "Exiting a business is as stressful as starting one" is the axiom I’ve come to understand lately. The obvious diff is starting them is hopeful and exiting them is thoroughly depressing. Still, much to my surprise, I got a “shout out” (company speak for: here’s a gift card now get back to work) at our all hands meeting yesterday for my work on the project. While nobody handed me a check or anything cool like that, it’s always good to have your efforts acknowledged.

The GOP convention was a mixed bag for me. I guess the Palin thing turned it into an event that I was actually interested in tuning into. Despite all the pathetic attempts to immediately discredit her, I have to say I think she’s the real deal, probably more electable than anybody on either ticket. Her speech was brilliant. McCain’s speech was tepid in comparison. I know it’s not his thing (he’ll crush Obama in the debates though), but presidential campaigns are nothing but long and very dull advertising blitzes. It sucks that substance doesn’t trump flash, but it is what it is. If I were McCain, I’d focus all my energies on showing the country how different he is than Bush and Co. I think he laid the foundation for this meme last night, but now that he has nothing to fear from the party by dissing the current prez, he should let it all fly. He’s still the underdog to win, but there’s a lot of stumping to be done. I remain convinced that he is the most qualified candidate in the last four elections to be president.

Me and my gal will be taking in the Chris Isaak show around the corner from our house tomorrow night. The weekend will of course include copious amounts of college and pro football gazing on the idiot box (can we still call them that when they’re not flat as a pancake?). The Falcons open against the Lions and only just yesterday sold enough tickets to prevent a local blackout of the game. I’m sure the Jets are having the same problem… NOT! The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are up in Beantown to take on BC with their new Paul Johnson hybrid option offense. After watching them crush their opening cupcake both my dad and I think GT will surprise many this season. The Terps barely got past the University of Delaware (that statement alone is foreboding enough). Most troubling was the fact that Chris “Napoleon Dynamite” Turner was not starting at QB. I’ve not followed the QB controversy at UM, but wha the fuck Fridge? The kid was good last year and ought to be out there this season. I’ll have to dive deep and find out what’s going on there at my almost alma mater.

My dad and I were excited to find that the Army vs. Temple game was available on my cable package and he came over to watch. After settling in with our beers and snacks it took exactly ten minutes to realize that Stan Brock is NOT the coach that will pull the cadets out of the basement. We were all prepared to see a new shaky yet committed option offense grind out a narrow victory, but instead saw him run only ONE option series the entire game, AMAZINGLY the only series to result in a touchdown, choosing to back up and pass all the rest. Idiot. Get him out of there NOW. GOD, will we EVER be able to beat Navy again?

Oh well… Looks like it’ll be another season with my teams being also ran’s, but it’ll still be fun. Hope all your teams win this weekend, but only if you’re not in my football pool. If you are, I hope you lose every one.