Posts of the Week
Each week, we will highlight a few entertaining and/or informative posts from the previous week. Please keep in mind that it is hard to keep track/prioritize all posts so we would welcome input from all Booties. You can make a "Bootie Selection" post as a response to any post that you deem worthy or you can email a link (to the nominated post) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the posts that made this week's list:
Poster: Long Winded
Subject: I Hate To ALWAYS Agree With You, But...
that was my take as well: This game was not decided by talent
or luck or even Xs and Os(note I didn't say coaching), it was
decided by confidence. It was a mental victory for UA over a
Stanford team that simply played scared the last 9-10 minutes of
play. Other than Jacobsen, who looked tired at the end, and then
Teyo, who plays with athletic confidence, nobody wanted the ball.
I saw Borchardt catch the ball in low on one possession and
dribble OUT to the arc, where he gave it up. In our last
possession of regulation, Childress dribbled through the lane
just inside the FT line, with space. He had an easy 12-footer. He
never even looked to shoot! Instead, I'm almost positive that
sequence ended with Jacobsen getting the offensive foul as he
desperately tried to create space. Stanford looked like a team
playing with a tire over its shoulders. We didn't run. We didn't
create. We attempted some set plays, but many of those ended up
with UA guys intercepting passes, because we were timid; and they
knew our plays.
I don't know how much of this fear is attributable to the personalities of our players. I do know that the fear of missing a shot or making a mistake looked like our psychological makeup as a group. And that's where I have to question Montgomery's overall approach to this stuff, because too many guys played too timidly for this not to have a coaching flavor to it. Lute's guys looked overwhelmingly confident from about the 10-minute mark in, making play after play. Stanford's guys looked like they wanted the game to end, so they could lift the pressure. It reminded me of how we were dying coming down the stretch against St. Joes, saved by a Mendy rebound off somebody else's brick, how we couldn't make plays last year at home against UCLA and UA. Stanford doesn't look comfortable out there in crunch time, much of the time( I do remember Duke). It's almost like they feel compelled to run particular plays for fear of repercussion.
I don't know how much blame to put on the coach. He's clearly one of the best out there, a top-10 guy. But it's also clear he's not at Lute's level. We're seeing the difference between top 3 and top 10 out there, imo. These constant losses to UA are well beyond statistical fluke. These constant losses in CLOSE games have become the norm for Monty against Olson. Doesn't matter the talent levels, the experience levels, the venue: If it's close, UA wins, sans Brevin at Maples many years ago. I don't think it's Xs and Os, btw. What I suspect is the weeks/months of drilling structure into guys, combined with a short lease for several of them, simply can't be undone with gametime pleas of, "Play loose. Make plays." I don't think that rings true for the listener. I think the looseness has to come from the overall approach, day in and day out. Monty has publicly talked about our guys playing tight too often in recent years, as we played under the pressure/microscope of being #1 or #3 or whatever. But I don't think he's figured out how to make it real for them...
A couple of other thoughts:
1. Despite UA shooting so well, I thought Stanford played solid defense. Other than Borchardt, who gave up easy look after easy look to Frye, we had hands in faces. Credit UA for making tough shots. Particularly, we stopped them repeatedly in the last three minutes, as they got rebound after rebound, new possession after new possession. Barnes played Gardner beautifully, imo, making him work like crazy. Gardner literally destroyed Tony late in the first half, with about three, consecutive deuces. Gardner looked like a cat playing with a canary...I don't know how much longer the charade can continue: If Tony can't play against the teams we need to beat, then he shouldn't be playing at all. I've refrained from criticizing Monty for playing him recently recently, but maybe this charade has something to do with the overall sense of timidity on this team. It isn't normal. It's false. It's pretense. Maybe it's time to start the guys who can win...
On the other hand, what a dilemma: JB probably gives us more offense from the 2 than he does from the 1, but Tony can't driible, defend, or score from the point. What do you do? The answer has to be in giving the rock to both JB and Childress, start them, let them know they will play through mistakes, order them to go shoot whenever reasonable, and let nature take its course.
2. Teyo looks too short at PF: Guys can score right over him. He rarely gets clean rebounds. Actually, where he has no peer is in loose ball situations, with ball on the floor in traffic. I've never seen a guy get it more often than Teyo. He's an animal. But that height thing--he looks shorter than CJ to me--is hard to ignore. He played Walton tough most of the time. Luke went over him, not around him.
3. I think the regular season championship is probably out of reach. Mathematically, no. Realistically, yes. We'll be lucky to hold serve at home against the LA schools and UO. 18 wins again appears to be the goal. Maybe we get lucky in the conference tournament....I think what we also lost tonight was the chance for a top-4 seed in the NCAA tournament. Unless we get a miracle run here, I see seeding in the 6-8 range....
Subject: Football recruiting anecdote
It's been reported that Tyrone Willingham wrote the following
note to Lorenzo Booker:
"Mr. Everywhere, we want you to lead us back to the national championship. You can do that because you are Mr. Everything and Mr. Everywhere."
If this report is accurate, Willingham evidently has gone over to the "promise the moon" school of recruiting. But there's another approach, as this anecdote illustrates:
MY BRUSH WITH HISTORY
Character, Not Celebrity
An Exciting and Troubling Discovery
By Richard M. Gardella
Early in the second month of 1953, I was summoned from study hall at White Plains High School. A college football coach wanted to see me.
Such recruiting visits were common place because the school's football team had not lost a game during my three years there. Our quarterback, the high school coach's son, was chosen as a high school All-American in his senior year. I played center and received my share of recruiting attention as a result of that reflected glory. One head coach, whose undefeated 1952 team was ranked number one, had offered to put me through a Baltimore law school if I would play for him. (I didn't accept the offer and learned only years later that the law school was not accredited.)
However, the coach I was summoned from study hall to meet that day in 1953 was different. He was not a head coach, and his team was a long way from a number-one ranking. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point (Army), where he was an assistant, had Columbia and Penn on its football schedule, and its team was not the powerhouse it had been in the forties.
But the coach I met that day was different in more important ways. Although he was obviously interested in me, he made no easy pledges of future help. Nor did he sugarcoat what West Point had to offer, or what it required. First and foremost, he told me, you were in the Army, and basic training was your initial obligation. Football would have to come later.
That coach, with thick glasses and black, curly hair, stood out over the years in my memory even though I soon forgot his name. He was the most honest person I met during that recruiting period. I had encountered a man of character, and even the obtuseness of adolescence could not hide that fact from me.
I took almost 30 years for me to realize who it was I had met that day. The revelation came by accident, and in some ways it was disturbing.
While watching a football game on television with my brother-in-law at my mother's house, I told him about a kind letter I had received from the coach at USC when I sought a college transfer back in the fifties. In an effort to produce the letter, I searched a desk containing old correspondence; I never found the USC letter, but I stumbled on one from that Army assistant coach written days after our interview, inviting me to visit West Point.
The signature at the bottom was strong, careful (each letter was legible), and familiar:
Vincent T. Lombardi
Asst. Football Coach
My 1953 interviewer was a football legend! He was the coach who led the fabled Green Bay Packers of the 1960s to victory in the first two Super Bowls, a man whose name had become synonymous with winning football.
I was impressed that I had harbored such a vivid memory of him without reference to his celebrity. The letter, discovered more than a decade after Coach Lombardi's death, now hangs proudly in my offices.
But there were two troubling aspects to the discovery.
First, I could find no evidence that I ever answered the letter or its invitation. The ignorance of youth cannot be used to excuse that discourtesy.
Second, my memory of him did not seem to jibe with his celebrity image. The barrel-chested, gap-toothed martinet who prowled the sideline in a camel's-hair coat could not have been the same thoughtful person who had interviewed me in 1953-- a man who seemed more like a careful math teacher than a football coach. That person would not have believed that "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"-- the quote famously associated with Lombardi.
While I could do nothing to dispel the first troubling aspect of my discovery, I was able to do something about the second. My pastor at the time, the late Msgr. Joseph P. Moore, had served as a West Point chaplain when Lombardi was there and knew him well. The coach had regularly attended 6:30 A.M. mass and had been a handball competitor of the priest.
Monsignor Moore assured me that my memory was more accurate that the popular image. The coach had been a multifaceted person of high moral and ethical standards, he was a man of character who knew there was more to life than winning.
This experience of discovery taught me important lessons about the difference between celebrity and character. It taught me not to take someone's image as a definition of the whole person, and it taught me to pay attention to everyone I meet, because you never know where you will find the strength of character that inspire.
Poster: Original East Coast Fan
Subject: With This, Ted Leland Gambles Everything
Time to start talking about the selection of our new head
coach. Letters of intent are in.
I suspect that virtually all of us have an opinion on Buddy Teevens. I'm actually quite optimistic now. Certainly more optimistic than I was right after his hiring.
What I want to do here is not to discuss the merits of BT, but to talk about Ted Leland's role in the hiring. I think it is safe to say that BT was Ted's choice and his choice alone. There is no way we would have hired BT had Ted not been in the picture.
After much thought, I think there are two hypotheses to explain the choice of BT. Both are consistent with the evidence we have now. Only one will be consistent with the evidence we will have in a year's time. The two hypotheses are "Trust Ted" and "Ted's Crony." Here's how they go:
"Trust Ted." When has Ted let us down on a coaching hire? Look at the minor sports hires and look at football. Although many of you didn't like how TW left the program and a few of you (like OECF) had reservations about TW when he was coaching at Stanford, I think most people will agree that (i) TW was an obscure and risky hire (like BT), (ii) TW turned out far better than most people expected, (iii) TW left for what is probably the premier college coaching position in America. He won coach of the year twice and took us to the Rose Bowl. He wasn't perfect, but what a choice by Ted!
Ted also has a lot of info -- about BT and Stanford-- that none of us have. He has known BT for 15 (20?) years. He has talked to people at Tulane, Illinois, Florida. Ex-players, coaches. He simply has information that we don't. And most of all, Ted has the incentive to make the right choice here. "Trust Ted."
I think a lot of people accept this hypothesis. Maples, Voltaire, Gerald M. among others. It's a very reasonable hypothesis and it's consistent with the evidence. But so is the alternative hypothesis:
"Ted's Crony." As a story that ran in the Merc and got reprinted all over the country says it all: "A source close to the Stanford situation said the choice of Teevens was "all about comfort level." Leland has known Teevens for more than 15 years." Why would you ever hire BT? 10-45 at Tulane. Fired. Two years as OC at Ill. His offense finished dead last in the Big 10 for both years. Fired. Vanderbilt passed on him just this year as HC. Reports are that his assistant coaches didn't like him at Tulane (see Irishguru's comments in January). Not a pretty picture. The only reason this guy got hired is that he is Ted's Buddy (another point made by the Merc).
I think some of the posters on this board would agree with this hypothesis. SD, for example (who doesn't seem to be posting much recently).
Two final points.
1. Let's support BT 100%. As the voice of reason on this board, Terry, said, he is the only coach we have. So let's back him. Amen. (BTW, I think BT has done an excellent job recruiting. I'm getting excited about next year.)
2. Ted Leland must bear the consequences of this hire, be those consequences good or bad. As Terry also said, BT isn't his first choice, or is second, .. or even his fifth choice for coach. This was a solo mission by Ted Leland. I know he had committee to interview candidates (another topic for discussion), but does anyone think BT would have been hired had Ted not been in the picture?
A year from now, certainly three years from now, we will have a much better feel for which hypothesis best explains the choice of BT: Trust Ted or Ted's Crony. If it's the former, I think Stanford should richly reward Ted -- salary, job security, etc. The whole nine yards. If it's the latter, then it will be time for Ted to go. A university that is supposedly based on merit could not stand for anything else.
With this choice, Ted Leland gambles not only the future of the football program, but he gambles everything for himself.