Wednesday, January 3, 2008, 12:31 a.m.
Early in the fourth quarter, the media was asked to submit their MVP ballots. We each had a chance to list one player from Cal and one player from Air Force. For Cal, the choice was obviously Kevin Riley. For Air Force, the choice was their quarterback, Shaun Carney. Even though Carney was injured near the end of the third quarter and would not return, his deftness in running the option was the key reason why Air Force was able to jump out to an early lead and why the Falcon offense continued to be pesky even as the Bears were catching up. Besides the obvious loss to the offense, his injury was also an emotional loss for the team as well.
"It was tough to see him like that," said Air Force wide receiver Chad Hall. "We're great friends and to be standing over him and hearing the pain that he was in was tough. By the way he reacted, I think we all knew [it was bad]."
Carney was hurt on a play at the Cal 1, when he was running right and was hit by Justin Moye and Thomas DeCoud on one side and then Syd'Quan Thompson came from the other side and hit him and from the way his leg bent, it looked like a severe injury.
"He's a tough player," said Moye. "He played tough before he was hurt. I wanted him to keep playing. I love competitors and I held out hope that he might be able to come back. I hope he's all right. I didn't see how he got hit from the side, I was coming in over the top. But the way he went down, I knew something was wrong."
The senior quarterback stayed on the sideline and was reluctant to be carted off the field for treatment, undoubtedly out of sense of duty to his team, and also because it would be his last game in uniform.
"I sure that in his mind, and in his heart, he thought he was going to find a way to get back out there," said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun.
* * * * *
Even though Cal's victory over Air Force was barely a half-hour old, players were already looking ahead to spring. Junior linebacker Worrell Williams who played in the middle this year, sees a lot of room for improvement in his game.
"I've got so much farther to go," said Williams, who made a big play in the 3rd quarter, when on a 3rd-and-12 from the Cal 35, he parried a blocker and ran down Air Force quarterback Shea Smith who appeared headed for an easy first down until Williams stopped him for a five-yard gain. Instead of continuing their drive, the Falcons settled for a field goal, and the Bears held the lead at 35-30.
"I'm ready to take it to the next level during the offseason. I've got to play at a faster tempo and I've got to work at everything. You name it, speed, basically everything. Whether it's looking at film, working on my strength, there's a lot I have to bring to be a better linebacker.
* * * * *
When Air Force scored a touchdown to close it to within 6, at 42-36, Air Force's Calhoun made the decision to go for two points instead of one. Since converting the two point try would have meant that the Falcons would be down four instead of five and that they'd still need a touchdown to win, the question was, afterwards, why?
"That's a good question," said Calhoun. "We thought if we'd go for two, we could make it 42-38. Then if we could score on the next possession, if Cal would get a field goal it would tie the game. If we just went for one, we wouldn't have that available to us."
* * * * *
During the press conference the day before the game, Calhoun spoke about why the Falcons used the 3-4. Part of it was based on his experience with it, and because he saw how difficult it was to play against. But also because Air Force's linemen generally tend to be smaller, it's easier for them to get linebackers than linemen.
On Monday, the Bears' defense finally started stopping the Falcons, once they went to the 3-4. The Bears defensive line had been stung by Washington and Stanford following the loss of defensive tackle Matt Malele, and although the Falcons weren't running up the middle all that well, they were blocking Cal's secondary well enough to spring several big gains. Down 21-0, it was time to make a change.
"I think it was to help us out with speed on the edges," said Moye. "When we had our four down linemen in there, our base defense, we were shutting down the inside running game, but we were getting hurt on the edges. So I think with bringing in one of our linebackers, and taking out one of our defensive tackles, it gave us more speed to match up with them. Then going back and forth from our base deense to three linemen and mixing it up caught them off balance in not knowing waht to call."
"When Coach (Bob) Gregory switched defenses, we played better," said Williams, who talked about what the differences in the defense meant for him. "With a four-man line, I'm more used to getting a lineman in my face and that slows down a lot of things. But with a 3-4, I was able to run more freely."
A 3-4 also helps the Bears because they have reasonably good linebacker depth, and with Williams, Moye, Greg Van Hoesen, Mike Mohamed, Zack Follett, Anthony Felder and Eddie Young, Cal was able to bring people in and out without having to worry about wearing itself out.
"Rotating the linebackers worked out real well," said Young. "We all stayed fresh, we all stayed healthy, and with Air Force's tricky offense, we really needed that."
* * * * *
At Amon Carter Stadium, the seats are about as close to the bench area as they are in any football stadium, anywhere. That meant that the Cal bench was well within earshot of the Air Force rooting section, and they were getting an earful.
"They got a lead and they kept talking. And when they got up 21 they were saying things like 'This is how you do it,'" said defensive tackle Derrick Hill. "But then we started scoring at by the time it got up to 42, they were very quiet. And I'm saying, 'what happened to all your talking?'"
Because his season was slowed by injuries, Hill didn't get off to the start that he wanted to in 2007, and while he was happy to have finished this season off well, he too is looking to the off-season.
"The main thing is to learn from my mistakes," said Hill. "The last time I was on a losing team was my sophomore year of high school. I've had a losing record since then, and I wasn't about to start now. I've got to make sure that the same mistakes don't happen. As a team there were some games that we should have won, and next year, we'll win them, no question. The score speaks freely. If we're putting up 42s, that's going to beat the scores the other teams are going to put on us."
* * * * *
All right, how many of you thought that when Cal went down 21-0, and with Desean Jackson, Robert Jordan, and Thomas DeCoud all sitting out the first quarter, that the nightmare situation where all of the Golden Bears issues compounded themselves into a nuclear meltdown was finally unfolding?
It might surprise you that throughout this, the bench was calm.
"We weren't worried at all," said Young. "We all watched the film and knew that they liked to start off fast, so we knew they'd come out like that."
"When we were down 21, we didn't look at it like a negative situation," said defensive tackle Derrick Hill. "I was voicing it to the team, the goal for us is to finish on top. We knew we had some of our key guys on the bench in the first quarter, but when we had everybody in there in the second quarter, we knew that they were going to have to fight against the true Bears, and when we needed to respond, we made a response."
"All week the coaches were telling us that they were going to try to get up on us early and that's how they beat teams," said Williams. "We knew what we were up against and that we were going to see things we weren't used to seeing. But we believed in each other, and we knew that if always gave our maximum effort that we'd be all right. Coach Tedford kept us focused on our responsibilities and we were able to bounce back."
Tedford credited the team's leadership.
"I'm proud of our team, because we've been through a tough season, there's no question about it. We had a lot of high expectations, and we lost a lot of close games. So for them to continue to have the attitude they've had, and now to get down 21-0 after what we've been through the last six games, the leadership had a lot to do with it. Nobody panicked or started grumbling. I told them in the locker room, I've never been more proud of a group as I am of these guys in this game."
* * * * *
If such technology were available, you would have thought that Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and his wife had found a way to clone themselves, because it seemed like everywhere you turned in Fort Worth, there they were. After the win, Barbour talked about the bowl experience and the what the win meant.
"The Fort Worth community was fabulous and their hospitality was outstanding," said Barbour. "From the practice facilities to the activities they set up, the Armed Forces Bowl committee created a really neat environment for the families, the staff and the fans. There's a lot of history here in Fort Worth, and this turned out to be a perfect setting."
Whereas during the season, a win's only good until the next game, a bowl victory has longer ramifications.
"The casual observer might not know the importance of a bowl win," said Barbour. "It caps off the year on a high note, it gives us momentum on some of the larger things that we're working with, but most of all it's a great way to send the seniors out. These young men came here and helped put Cal on an upward projectile and we owe them a lot."
* * * * *
Here are a few last pictures:
During the cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards, there were people from Air Force, Missouri, Arkansas, and there was even someone wearing a Washington State sweatshirt. If anyone was wearing Cal colors, they were being very subdued about it. The only thing remotely close to blue and gold was found atop this balloon artist's head
The name of this sculpture is The First Bulldogger, and it depicts Bill Pickett who was invented bulldogging as a rodeo event and was the the first African-American to be named to the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
A picture of the platform that Greg Van Hoesen fell off of during the Sunday press conference.
The California shirt display at the Renaissance Worthington.
And if we're getting around to putting up pictures of empty platforms and stacks of t-shirts, it must mean that it's time for the end.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008, 11:49 p.m.
For an entry about Sunday morning's visit to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza, along with pictures of the grassy knoll, go down to the Sunday, December 30, 2007, 12:26 p.m. entry.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008, 7:41 p.m.
Lots to catch up on. Because of Monday evening flight, it wasn't possible to both update the blog and make headway on a story, so apologies for that. About five minutes before the game ends, the media is led down to the field. After the game, we (the media) had the chance to chase down players for quick interviews, before they headed back to the locker room. Then we went down to interview room to listen to Air Force coach and a couple of his players before Jeff Tedford came in with Justin Forsett and Justin Moye. Then we went down to an area just outside the locker room to talk to a few players who were waiting around for us. While the plan was to have Kevin Riley in the postgame interview room, he had to catch a flight back to Portland and was unavailable.
I'll include some general observations and post a few photos. Then I've got to go finish up a couple of other things for the site then I'll add some final thoughts tomorrow.
*As the final seconds began ticking down, several of the seniors went around and shaking their teammates hands. After the season they've gone through and the two tough losses against Washington and Stanford, it was good to see not the just the seniors but the rest of the team leave the field with a good feelings going into the offseason.
*Right after the game, media relations has to find ways to help TV and radio get their interviews. Yet at that moment, the coaches and players have to be found amidst a sea of teammates, opposing players, and other print and broadcast media trying to get a few quotes. So while the media relations people are playing tug-of-war trying to get key people to where they're supposed to be, there's also the matter of having the trophy presentation as well as the MVP presentation at the middle of the field. I'm not sure how the post-game interviews came across on TV and radio, but as smoothly as it might have come across over the air, getting to that point was challenging. Big attaboys to Cal media relations staff John Sudsbury and Chris DeConna for helping everybody pull it off.
*As the team was milling about on the field after the game, linebacker Justin Moye was working to get his teammates over to the Cal section, to salute the fans and family members who'd made the trip to Fort Worth. While the contingent wasn't as large as it was for the Holiday and Las Vegas Bowls, it was a spirited group nonetheless and their faith in making the trip halfway across the country was rewarded.
*Right after the game, Robert Jordan, who'd been asked to sacrifice his redshirt year during 2004 after Chase Lyman's injury, was almost speechless after finally having the breakout game that he'd been yearning for. For years it seems like he's toiled in shadows, whether it's for being somebody's cousin or because of the receiving wattage of DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins. Yet he never showed a trace of jealousy, he never quit working, and he never let his confidence fall. At the football team's awards banquet, the coaching staff thought so highly of him that they gave him a special recognition award for what he's meant to the program.
Jordan, who'd finished with six catches for 148 yards and one touchdown was asked if he any idea that Monday would his be time.
"I didn't know," said an excited Jordan, "I didn't know anything. I don't know how many catches or yards or anything. I'm just thankful to the Lord and blessed be to God for putting me in a great place."
One of the last players off the field, Jordan wanted to let every last moment of this game linger, and stopped to have his picture taken with a young fan.
*As Thomas DeCoud went walking off the field with the Armed Forces Bowl trophy he kept be called back by people who wanted to have their picture taken with him and the trophy.
"Before the game we stressed that we needed to be laying hits on them because we were the bigger team," said DeCoud afterwards. "We knew that if we laid hats on them that they'd start getting tired and start feeling pain."
Even though the team fell behind big early, there was no panic on the sidelines.
"During the course of the season, we knew how to come back," said DeCoud. "We showed our resiliency by the way we played. Late in the second half, we had a sigh of relief knowing that we'd finish with a winning record. It's a great feeling."
*While every coach will talk about how proud he is of his team and what they mean to him, there's something about the way that Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun expresses it about his players that seems more heartfelt than the run-of-the-mill press conference statement..
"We left it all on the field," said an emotional Calhoun. "We fought and we hung in there. These guys have done that all year long and we've played that way all year long. At our place the way that you have a chance to be really competitive is that you hve kids with big hearts. These seniors leadership-wise have been phenomenal."
*While the video from the Cal portion of the postgame video can be viewed elsewhere on this site, toward the end of his comments, Tedford acknowledged that the media has its job to do, added "I want to thank [ESPN's] Kirk Herbstreit for saying we were going to be blown out." He then followed up his comments, "I'm happy for our kids. I've always been proud of them. I tell them that life's full of adversity and you need to bounce back from it."
*Derrick Hill, after the game in a suit and tie, looked regal sitting on a chair while answering questions from the media, talked about a recent conversation that he'd had with his father prior to making the first start of his Cal career.
"This game was a big opportunity for me and the coaches put their faith in me by giving me the start," said Hill. "It's a great start for next year, and it was nice to be able to show someone who's from local soil can do well. I always talk to my father before each game and he told me, 'whenever you get your chance, make the best of your opportunity, because it may be the only opportunity of your lifetime."
*And finally, for those of you that collect photos of scoreboards.
Monday, December 31, 2007, 11:06 a.m.
It's just been announced that Brett Johnson will start at free safety in place of Thomas DeCoud and Sam DeSa will start at wide receiver. Lavelle Hawkins and DeSa will be the starting receivers.
Monday, December 31, 2007, 10:33 a.m.
Keeping this updated during the game will be a challenge, but I'll give it a shot. The big news so far is that Cal's come out onto the field with no names on their jerseys. This should cause all kinds of mayhem on the ESPN broadcast considering Cal's frequent use of duplicate numbers. We're trying to find out why. Otherwise the weather's fine and shouldn't be a factor.
Monday, December 31, 2007, 1:37 a.m.
Only six-and-a-half hours left until the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl's official feeding of the media begins.
Although the entry was concluded a short time ago, to not let the events get too out of whack, I'm putting it back in it's proper chronological position. So if you've ever wondered what it's like inside of a honky tonk, go down to the Sunday, December 30th, 2007, 1:15 a.m. entry.
Sunday, December 30, 2007, 11:48 p.m.
As a journalism major who took writing classes when they were using manual typewriters and pasting stories down with wax, there are few things better than spending time on a Sunday with a thick newspaper and learning things that I wouldn't have otherwise learned if I was just clicking on links. Such as - as this is all courtesy of the Dallas Morning News, a fine newspaper except for the fact that they have too many stories about the Dallas Cowboys:
In New York City, during the winter time, rats like to crawl up into car's engine compartments to stay warm. Out of boredom, they'll start chewing up wires and cost car owners hundreds of dollars in damages.
In Chicago, people who shovel the snow off of a parking space, will then claim it for good by putting boxes, buckets, and lawn chair furniture out in the newly cleared space and stake it as "their" spot. Those who try to take somebody else's spot have had their car windows broken, their paint scratched and their tires slashed.
The Dallas Morning News's Texan of the Year is "The Illegal Immigrant" which beat out nine other finalists including someone who helped create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, a district attorney who's led the charge to let innocent men out of prison, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Alberto Gonzales, and a judge who denied a last-minute appeal of a death row inmate, saying "we close at 5."
By way of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ladies' Home Journal found that 24 percent of Americans would rather go to a karaoke party with Hillary Clinton than any other presidential candidate.
And in a story that's alternately alarming and encouraging while being very informative about success in sports, Barry Horn wrote a terrific feature about Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel.
Sunday, December 30, 2007, 10:56 p.m.
California and Air Force both participated in a pep rally outside of TCU's Amon Carter Stadium in one last show of joint spirit prior to Monday's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Both teams were accompanied by their respective marching bands and dance teams, and both coaches and one player from each team addressed the crowd.
For the Bears, Greg Van Hoesen was asked to give the remarks, and opened with, "I'm surprised they asked me up here after what happened this afternoon," referring to his unceremonious pratfall off of the platform at the afternoon press conference. Van Hoesen stayed upright throughout the rally, while thanking Bear supporters for making the trip.
In addition to the numerous Cal players, players' families, and fans, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour were in attendance, chatting up the Golden Bear faithful.
Behind the rally area were an impressive array of helicopters, fighter jets, tanks, and other vehicles that people could climb aboard and look into as well as other displays for other branches of the military.
Following the rally, a brief fireworks show took place.
Here are a few pictures from the late afternoon rally.
The team waits outside the pep rally before marching in.
The Bears could use a big game from Will Taufoou
Both dance squads were asked not to try any elaborate jumps or lifts on the platform so that nobody would hit their head.
The California Marching Band played just to the right of the platform.
Jeff Tedford addresses the Cal faithful.
One end zone has been printed in Cal's colors.
Three pieces from the 2007 Cal Armed Forces Bowl fashion line.
If any of you are sitting in the top deck, be careful. It looks pretty steep.
Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 7:29 p.m.
Here are a couple of pictures from the display of Greg Van Hoesen's artwork that's currently on display at the Renaissance Worthington.
Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 3:24 p.m.
FORT WORTH - Highlights from the press conference:
- Greg Van Hoesen fell off the platform prior to the press
conference. There was a gap between the backdrop and the wall and Van Hoesen took a
tumble off of the three-foot platform. While nothing was hurt aside from a bruised
embarrassment, he did have to endure a bit of ribbing during the afternoon session.
"We brought our chancellor and our athletic director [this afternoon]," said
head coach Jeff Tedford. "I didn't know that we'd have to also bring our
- Dan Fouts acknowledging a member of Cal's media relations staff,
"I'd like to thank John Sudsbury for adding me to the Cal media guide,"
referring to the entry that Cal has a 5-8 record when Fouts is doing TV duty. The
ESPN broadcasting team of Fouts, Tim Brant, and Todd Harris is 1-2 when doing Cal
games this year, doing the win at Oregon as wel as the losses to UCLA and Washington.
- "The Cal-Oregon game was one of the best games I've ever
seen," said ESPN's Tim Brant. "But I think that game broke their backs. Nate
(Longshore) hurt his ankle, DeSean's (Jackson) been hurt and they haven't been the same
- "I'm thankful for the late morning start," said ESPN
sideline reporter Todd Harris. "This'll be the first time I'll be home for New Year's
Even in nine years."
- Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Tom Starr reported that the
game is a sellout. There were 1,000 tickets available as of early Saturday, but in the
day-and-a-half since, all of those have been sold. "I'd like to thank Brant Ringler,
Scott Pomeroy and Tricia Branch, who all busted their tail to sell the game out."
After comments from Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun and Cal's Tedford, Starr went back
to the microphone, adding, "Justin, I've heard you've done a wonderful job too,"
referring to the more than 200 tickets purchased by Forsett's friends and family.
- "Justin's provided us with a lot of leadership and talent. He came here and played the back up role to J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch and when he had his chance to take over, we didn't miss a beat. Before this season, he had big shoes to fill and when he leaves there will be even bigger shoes to fill," said Jeff Tedford on Forsett. Look for a feature on Forsett and his dad during tomorrow's broadcast.
Story to follow.
Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 2:35 p.m.
FORT WORTH - While you can understand why a chip company, a fast-food chain, a credit card company, or even an overnight shipping company might sponsor a bowl game, the rewards that a helicopter company could reap would appear to be less obvious. While you might pay for a few bags of Tostitos with your Capital One card after dropping something off at FedEx, it's unlikely that no matter how impressed you are, you're not likely to spring for a Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey to put in your backyard next to the swimming pool.
"A couple of years ago [Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director] Tom Starr and [Manager of Sales and Marketing] Brant Ringler had an idea for a bowl game. They were looking for a sponsor and gave us a call and asked us if we were interested," said Bell Helicopter vice president of communications Michael H. Cox. "We looked at the concept, and the game was intended to honor the men and women in the military. We instantly wanted to do it. We've had a longstanding relationship with the military, a lot of people who work with us used to work in the military and it was a natural fit for us."
For Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter, the game isn't so much about product movement as it expressing thanks.
"Our approach to it is that we're paying tribute to the men and women of the military. To show our appreciation, we buy blocks of tickets and distribute them to families and we sponsor events for the military," said Cox.
In the Armed Forces Bowl's short history, this is the first year that they've had a team from one of the service academies, which is sparking local interest.
"This is a military town, so to have Air Force this year is fantastic," said Cox "We pleased Cal is here, they draw a lot of fans and more attention will be focused on the game because of them."
The company's been so happy with the way the partnership has worked that they're extending their sponsorship of the Armed Forces Bowl for another two years.
"It's been extremely successful," said Cox. "We've accomplished what we wanted to do. The game's another sellout this year and it's terrific to be associated with it. It made it easy for us to extend our contract for another two years."
Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 12:46 p.m.
FORT WORTH - Who was quoted yesterday as saying the following, "I'd like to see some of that scaffolding around our place. That crane is a beautiful sight. The hammers, drills and saws - that sounds like progress."
A. Al Davis
B. Zachary Running Wolf
C. The president of the Cotton Bowl.
D. Jeff Tedford
Sunday, December 30, 2007, 12:26 p.m.
While there wasn't any problem in finding ways to stay entertained in Fort Worth, a few free hours on a Sunday morning meant there was time to drive over to Dallas and visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Housed in the Dallas County Administration Building, which was formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository, the Sixth Floor Museum is dedicated to the events leading up to as well as the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November, 1963. The sixth floor is the floor from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired (or allegedly fired, depending on which theory you believe) shots at President Kennedy. By using a combination of photographs, old newspaper clippings, artifacts, documentary footage, and audio, the museum offers a chronological look going back to the Kennedy presidency, the various tensions taking place in America and the world, as well as the controversial nature of Kennedy's trip to Dallas. Emotions were so inflamed about the effect of Kennedy's policies, that a local newspaper wrote an editorial asking people to treat the President's visit with respect.
The day of Kennedy's trip to Dallas on November 22, 1963 was chronicled in detail from his arrival at Love Field to his speech in Fort Worth to his subsequent drive to Dallas. Numerous photographs, video, and radio reports of the assassination are provided, along with the initial uncertainty about where the shots came from, and the attempts to isolate suspects are covered, as well as footage of Walter Cronkite reporting the news of Kennedy's passing. The arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, along with video of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald are shown as well.
Considerable space is given into the efforts to reconstruct the scene and determine how investigators came to the conclusion that they did. At one point in the exhibit, a wall lists several of the theories behind the Kennedy assassination; such as the Mob, Cubans, Russians, and conservative Texans. And yes, the scenario proposed by Jim Garrison and featured in the Oliver Stone movie JFK is mentioned as well. Instead of holding to a particular interpretation of the findings, the exhibit looks at the work of the Warren Commission and includes a scaled reconstruction of the Texas School Book Depository along with Dealey Plaza to help witnesses point out what they saw, where they were, and what caused their reaction. It then goes on look at a change in the thinking brought about by reports that postulated that the chances of multiple gunmen were high until an additional, more conclusive investigation argued with considerable certainty that the shooting was the work of a lone gunman.
Some discussion is also provided about what to do with building. Some people suggested tearing down book depository, but eventually the building was converted to government use. Nonetheless, there is an oddity about walking through a museum where people have gone through such great effort to preserve a spot from which a president was shot.
Anyways, there are far better resources to refer to learn more about the Kennedy assassination, the possible conspiracies behind it, and the Sixth Floor Museum. The Sixth Floor Museum link includes a link to a gift shop that has the book "Dealey Plaza National Historical Landmark" which includes a lot of what's in the exhibits.
Taking pictures inside the museum was prohibited so here are some pictures from the outside.
This is the side of the building where the shots were fired. Behind the far right set of windows on the sixth floor (next to the arched windows), is a corner that's blocked off with glass and stacked with boxes to simulate what that area might have looked like in November 1963.
This is the grassy knoll. Up behind it is a parking lot with a short fence and some low-hanging trees. Next to the parking lot is a set of railroad tracks. Next to all of this was a gentleman selling a set of books that offered to tell you the real truth behind the assassination.
Here's a picture from the grassy knoll looking out onto the area where Kennedy and his motorcade went driving pass.
Here's another shot of the building from slightly farther back. These pictures were taken early on a Sunday morning and there were quite a few people walking around, pointing out spots of where the car was when the shots were fired, looking up at the sixth floor from street level, and looking out in the direction of the grassy knoll.
If you ever find yourself in Dallas and have an interest in history, this is well worth the visit.
Sunday, December 30, 2007 - 7:08 a.m.
FORT WORTH - Finally dredged up a copy of Saturday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where the headline read "Cal isn't being ignored; it just seems like it," yet even with the focus of the game towards honoring military personnel, "Tedford said Cal has received nothing but red-carpet treatment since its arrival Thursday"...While the game is almost a sell out, bowl director Tom Starr said that Air Force has sold more than 12,000 tickets, while Cal has sold more than 2,000. Starr was quoted as saying "Air Force kept asking for more tickets...We're pleasantly surprised with Cal. For being far away, that's pretty good. They're still coming in, and I really believe we'll be sold out by game time." Another comment later in the column said oddly, "most ticket holders are expected to show up."
Any of you in Fort Worth who are figuring what to do for a meal should try Razzoo's just off of Sundance Square and try the bottom entree. It'll liven up your insides in a good way.
Off to pick up the Sunday papers and do a little investigative work.
Saturday, December 30, 2007 - 1:15 a.m.
FORT WORTH - There's no point in going to Texas without visiting a honky tonk, so Saturday evening was spent at Billy Bob's Texas, which bills itself as the world's largest honky tonk. If any of you watched the movie Urban Cowboy, the place when John Travolta was always running into trouble; that's a honky tonk (although that was Gilley's which is occasionally confused with Billy Bob's). The Double Deuce, where Patrick Swayze did some of his finest cinematic work in the movie Road House, that's a honky tonk. The place where Jean-Claude Van Damme won the kumite in Blood Sport? That's not a honky tonk.
Inside Billy Bob's, you can watch sports on big screens, drink at numerous bars, stand in line for barbecue, dance, listen to the house band, play pinball and video games, pose for pictures on a mock bull, play pool, gamble on slot machines and video poker, watch live (not mechanical) bull riding and hang out at the gift shop all up until 10:30 p.m. when everybody goes to the front half of the building to watch the headlining act. It's a testament to the will of an entrepreneur and an ability to find a way to make things work. There's absolutely no way that a group of stuffed shirts sat around a table at a retreat and figured out, "Hey, you know what this place really needs? That thing at the country fair where you roll the balls into to make the horses go faster. And popcorn machines. We need to have more of those around because popcorn will make people drink."
It's the sort of place, where the the beer vendors walk around with a box of beer bottles, and if you're so inclined, hold up a hand and they'll find you.
What's odder is that this is a family-friendly place, so there are kids all over the place, and mom and dad will be sitting next to them drinking beer straight from a bottle and everybody's fine with it. Billy Bob's isn't nearly as hardscrabble as The Double Deuce, so there weren't any fights or loud arguments, and if there were any untowards groping on the dance floor, it must have been consensual, judging from the absence of hollering and slapping..
Actual conversation #1 from Billy Bob's, at the line to get into bull riding:
"That'll be $2.50, please?"
"$2.50? Wow. There aren't too many things in life that you can do for $2.50."
The ticket lady chuckles.
"Are there?," asks the person who's buying the ticket.
"You don't want to know what I'm thinking."
With bull riding, the idea is to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds. There are two numbers that go into scoring a bull rider's score - the score of the rider and the score of the bull. If the maximum length of an event is going to be in the eight-second range, you're not going to see lots and lots of action. But what you'll see is that anybody who'd pursue bull riding seriously has to be certifiably insane. Between the bull thrashing about in the pen, and the rider being totally at the bull's mercy, there's always that few seconds when after a rider is thrown, and yes, invariably, they are almost all thrown, when the bull is charging about that the rider has to hope that the bull doesn't land on him or try to gore him. Because after getting tossed from a large animal, the last thing a bull rider wants to hear about is global warming.
But the rider, who's wearing a helmet, has to hope that the bull doesn't land on his feet or any other part of him, because, like Ivan Drago, what the bull lands on, it breaks. To help the rider, there are a couple of clowns, dressed in bright colors, whose job is to distract the bull and have him charge in a direction away from the rider. And a clown has to know when to run, and when to climb the fence. After one ride, a rider was tossed and saw that the bull was still riled up and he ran over to the fence and climbed up it and out of way of harm.. He was close enough to the crowd that he was breathing heavy, and with his head down and over the fense, you couldn't help but wonder if he was thinking he needed to find more sedate ways to spend his time.
Actual conversation #2 from Billy Bob's, while waiting for the headliner to appear. A couple walks by and the woman leans over, slaps herself on the butt and starts walking in an exaggerated manner. The boyfriend objects, so they ask the input of a stranger.
"Do you think this is embarrassing?," as she leans over again, slaps herself on the butt and repeats her exaggerated walk.
"See?" she says to her boyfriend.
She leads him away, and he looks back and says pleadingly, "But you're not with her."
Part of the deal of being at a honky tonk is that you have to like country music. OK, maybe you don't have to like it, but it sure helps. But country music, despite being with children's music, the only format that regularly generates music that you can sing along with, also has the ability to drive people nuts. While working in a progressive, non-profit a while back, I was going through several radio phases, and the people around my area could hear it ever so faintly. Sports talk? No problem. Rush Limbaugh? A furrowed eyebrow or two. Soft rock hits of the 70s and 80s, always popular. But once the phase shifted to country music, everytime I went to the copier or had to use the bathroom, I'd come back to find the station changed.
The argument is that today's country music is where the old pop music has gone and that there's not much country left any more. When Garth Brooks helped contribute to a big spike in country music sales in the 90s, purists claimed that Brooks seemed to be more interested in being the next Billy Joel than being the next Hank Williams. Which lead us to tonight's headliner, Jason Aldean.
Aldean has had a succession of raucous, radio-friendly hits, "Amarillo Sky", "Johnny Cash," and the song that put him on the map, the John Rich-penned "Hicktown." And after spending a portion of the year opening for Rascal Flatts, he's working in a few of his own gigs as well. Being the opening act for a name attraction is nice in that it gives you a bigger audience. But at the same time, most of the audience is there to see them, not him, and while he and his band are pouring out effort into their songs, some of the crowd is filling in, some of them are wolfing down hot dogs with mustard dribbling down their arm, some of them are yakking on cell phones asking what made them think they could fit into last year's jeans, are some of them are just hoping for him to finish.
But tonight, Aldean's got a chance to show that he can take his audience and hold down a show. He plays the fast songs with gusto, and his hits are so well-known that the crowd sings along with the verses and the chorus. While every concert act throws in a few covers, he made the odd choice of covering two Guns n' Roses songs, Paradise City and Sweet Child O' Mine. While the two songs give the bands' guitarists a chance to show off, the songs loose a lot of oomph without Axl Rose's piercing wail. This did make you wonder that if this were 20 years ago, if he'd be more likely to have taken the Tom Petty/John Mellencamp musical path rather than getting lumped in with his country brethren. While he's had one hit with "Why", he hasn't had the one slow song hit that with catapult him into crossover success and ultimately ruin his artistry. Judging by his performance on Saturday, he doesn't seem to be too eager to find it either, as he'd use slow songs to provide a change of pace, but would also use them to pose for photographs while walking across the lip of the stage.
But the one fast hit that'll have everybody jumping to their feet and singing it from start to finish, that needs to be heard live and not out of an iPod or a car stereo? The show was already solid, but a roaring version of "Hicktown" made it doubly worth it.
Saturday December 29, 2007 - 5:15 p.m.
FORT WORTH - Bear in mind that I only slept a couple of hours on the plane, so I'm not exactly sure what I'm seeing. While driving around, I think I saw Ray Ratto walking down the street with a Barnes & Noble bag. Dude! You're in Texas! Explore it a little! Don't come out here and do the same stuff you do back home!
Fort Worth, along with its brethren St. Petersburg, St. Paul, and Tacoma, falls somewhere below Jermaine Jackson but above Andrew Ridgeley on the scale of otherness. It's always going to be in the shadow of the larger city, and no amount of culture, fine dining and lack of traffic jams will change that. But sometimes there's a benefit in being a Pip. Parking on downtown streets isn't too hard to come by on weekends and they don't enforce the meters.
One of Fort Worth's biggest attractions is the Fort Worth Stockyards. It has an older feel to it and you can momentarily lose yourself into thinking this is probably a little bit of what parts of the west might have looked like in a bygone era - until you see all the stores selling hats and Beanie Babys and t-shirts. The Stockyards include the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (real cowboys, not the Roger Staubach kind), mule barns, a maze to explore, cattle pens, the Cowtown Coliseum which hosts rodeos, and around the corner, there's Billy Bob's which will warrant an entry of its own later.
One thing that draws people to the stockyards are the twice-daily cattle drives. Billed as the world's only daily longhorn cattle drive, for a few minutes each day, the streets are cleared as a herd of cattle walk through the stockyards. It's not exactly the running of the bulls in Pamplona, but in most of our daily lives, we're used to dogs, cats, squirrels, the odd raccoon or two, and maybe a skunk or a deer every now and then. But to see a herd of longhorn cattle, who don't have any road rage issues in terms of horns clattering into each other, is impressive.
Over on the sidewalk, if you've got a spare fiver, you can climb aboard a longhorn and have your picture taken. Big Duke was doing brisk business.
On the other hand, having barbecue for dinner didn't seem like such a good idea.
In football news, the Dallas Morning News's sports section has two pages on the Cotton Bowl, one page on the Alamo Bowl, a page of updates from the Emerald, Champ Sports, Liberty, Meineke, Orange, and Rose Bowls, and another page on the Texas and Holiday Bowls. Articles on the Armed Forces Bowl....we're still looking. I've tried to look at the Fort Worth Start Telegram, but all of the hotel copies seem to be missing the sports section.
Tomorrow afternoon, there will be a final pre-game press conference, and I'll head over to the team hotel to see what the blue and gold spirit's like out here.
Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 5:15 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - When making the flight reservations, it was clear that this flight was going to be almost full. Yet on this early Saturday morning in the wait area, with a lot of people standing around, only half the seats are being sat in? Why? Because people put their carry-on luggage on their seats. And in some cases they've put bags on the seats on each side of them to create a buffer zone.
Luggage does not need a chair. Whatever brief contours in airport waiting area furniture there are were not designed with laptop bags in mind. A purse will not complain because it gets placed on the carpet momentarily. The reason people pay $80 for a backpack was because of its ability to withstand the elements, and it's fine in heat, rain, and carrying all sorts of weight, but put that thing on the floor of the airport and they might as well have put their stuff in a paper bag from Trader Joe's.
Saturday, December 29, 2007 - 2:14 a.m.
STATE OF FOGGINESS -Heading into the weekend, it was hard to get excited about travelling to Texas for a few days. Having the chance to cover another football game is great, but my last two trips to Dallas weren't without issues. The last time was to watch the Red River Shootout during Vince Young's freshman year. If you want to watch one of the great spectacles in sport, watch a Texas/Oklahoma game while it's still being played at the Cotton Bowl. The game is held in the middle of the Texas state fair, the crowd is half in red, half in burnt orange, the latest iteration of Bevo is at one of the field while the Sooner Schooner is lurking somewhere nearby. Anyways, a combination of bad traffic and a shuttle driver that had to make too many stops meant an all-nighter in an airport while watching an endless loop of a Siegfried & Roy feature and trying to discreetly nap in the Christian Science Reading Room.
Then there was the previous trip. Anytime you have "dating", "Internet", "student", and "law" in the same story, you're doomed. For all you young people out there reading this, if any of your friends ever use those four words as it relates to a personal experience, feel free to mercilessly beat them with a baseball bat. It'll be the best thing you ever did for them. Imagine the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic, while the S.S. Minnow comes along for rescue duty with Britney Spears singing the theme song in the background. Only worse.
Add onto that a 6 a.m. flight, which means getting to the airport around 4:30, which means leaving before 4, and if you keep backing it up, it's easier to not sleep.
But there's something about getting closer to the airport that always provides a jolt of energy.
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