Another week, another Retort. This is going to be the worst one of the year. Well, so far. There could be a worse one down the road. Some emailers have asked how long it takes to write a Retort and how I do it. Typically, I do the "framing" on Monday or Tuesday night. I fill in the outline with the scores of last week's games and the matchups for next week. If any quotes or interesting items stick out then I will make notes in the proper area.
Then, I will read the papers throughout the week and continue to take notes of anything that would lend itself to a good joke. I have a folded up piece of paper in my wallet where I jot down theme ideas for the little mini-rants that take place in the middle of the Retort. I usually try and have at least two, plus the fan laws.
On Wednesday night, after the kid goes to bed and my wife heads out to girls' night out, I do my "relaxed writing". I generally try and get about half of it done on Wednesday at an easy pace before she gets home and we watch LOST, although I rarely get more than about a quarter of it finished. Then on Thursday, we put the kiddo to bed around 8:00, watch My Name is Earl and The Office on TiVo and at about 9:00, I go into full panic mode, desperately trying to fill the holes and still get to bed before about 11:30. I'm usually so exhausted at this point that I don't even bother to go back and edit it, so I just email it to Mark Sparrow, and he posts it on Friday morning.
Of course, tonight (Wednesday) is even worse than usual. I have such a horrid case of writer's block that the only thing I can think of to write is this intro talking about writer's block. That's it. I have no idea what to write about, and don't see anything amusing in any of the games. I suppose I could just go non-sequitur or talk about yardage or something, but that is usually a "Thursday night at 11:00" type thing.
Well, I've got nothing, which means I will write the whole thing tomorrow night. We'll see how it turns out.
Oklahoma 34 – Iowa State 9
This is not how things were supposed to go for the Oklahoma Sooners this season. A consensus top 5 pick in the preseason, they were expected to challenge Texas for the Big XII South. Instead their star quarterback and one of their linemen got caught with their hand in the alumni cookie jar and, being the sacrificial lambs, slipped away into the night. Now on a day where Stoops and the Sooners were supposed to be celebrating Adrian Peterson's drug money laundering father getting to see him play for the first time, it looks like instead the Sooner faithful are lamenting getting to see him play for the last time. Factor in another linebacker who was arrested this week, and the Sooners are dropping players faster than a gold-digging ho. Fortunately, this Saturday AD delivered, rushing for over 180 yards and scoring 2 TDs in a rout of Iowa State. Given that this is only a broken collar bone and not a major knee blowout, Peterson can still be expected to go high in next year's draft where he can pull in some serious money. All legal.
Oklahoma State 42 – Kansas 32
Perhaps I spoke too soon in lumping Oklahoma State in with the dregs of the Big XII. At least their offense is good, racking up 603 total yards as QB Bobby Reid passed for 5 touchdowns and rushed for another in a game where he broke his own coach's school record for total offense. Meanwhile, Kansas drops to 0-3 in the Big XII and still needs 3 more wins to become bowl eligible; a feat that is certainly doable with Baylor, Kansas State, and Colorado still remaining on their schedule.
Colorado 30 – Texas Tech 6
You knew it had to happen at some point; the Buffalae had to win a game, didn't they? We just all figured it would be against one of the Kansas schools, certainly not the Red Raiders. Not with the Air Raid offense ranked 3rd in the nation in passing, and the Colorado defense ranked 103rd. But Tech continues to struggle along with their young quarterback who turned the ball over 4 times after coughing it up 5 times last week. At least it is improvement. Still, I think Tech fans are learning the hard way how difficult it is to successfully run an offense that on the outside appears so simple. The 3 previous quarterbacks had success only after being in the system for a couple of years. When asked about his team, Coach Mike Leach said, "Everyone is pressing because they don't trust the guys on either side of them. I think we've got coaches who don't trust players and players that don't trust coaches. We've also got players that don't trust each other." Meanwhile, however, offensive lineman Brandon Jones said, "Trust is the foundation to anything, and I trust [Harrell]. I believe that the rest of our teammates do too." So as anyone can see, it all comes down to one thing. Turnovers. Oh, and trust. And to regroup and make it to a bowl game, the Red Raiders are going to have to start trusting in each other. Or keep trusting in each other. Or quit turning the ball over. Or play the Aggies two more times.
Texas 63 – Baylor 31
In a strange reversal of nature, this time it wasn't the bear playing with his prey prior to going in for the kill, but the steer. Texas allowed Baylor to jump out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, giving them false hope before goring their guts out in a rout. Apparently not getting shut out again was enough to provide Guy Morriss with delusions of grandeur claiming that it is feasible that in his last 5 games, "we could win out" and that "overall, I came out of the game feeling we can play with the big boys." And by "play with the big boys", I think he means "almost come within 30 points of". Not to be outdone in the "what the hell are you saying" category, Baylor cornerback C.J. Wilson opined, "We know we should be 3-0 [in the Big 12], when you play a team like this, you come into the locker room knowing that you're better than these guys." In another strange note, Texas QB Colt McCoy said that he begins every game with the same joke in the huddle, asking "who stole my Snickers?" I don't get it. Seriously, I don't. I'm still trying to figure out who swiped C.J.'s brain-to-mouth filter.
Nebraska 21 – Kansas State 3
Nebraska continues to roll as they keep finding success with the running game. Backing down from the pass-happy Air Husker offense of last season, Coach Callahan has instead turned to "The Four Kernels of the Apocalypse", a runningback quartet destined to bring the people of the corn back to championship form. Still, it wasn't easy for the Huskers, winning for the first time in the last 5 tries in Manhattan, boosted by 2 successfully converted fourth downs. It helps that Kansas State kind of sucks this year.
Texas A&M 25 – Missouri 19
Convinced that nut-mushing was not the way to help your team win, I tried an experiment using positive vibes to assist the Aggies from afar. When the game started, I surrounded myself with flowers and began doing the Care Bear Stare with all of the vigor I could muster. This quickly proved to be counter-productive as Missouri receiver Will Franklin slipped in behind the Aggie secondary and streaked down the field for a sure touchdown. At this point I became so frustrated with the state of Aggie football that I kicked the coffee table as hard as I could. Immediately after this, I remembered my wife's rule about not wearing shoes in the house, and the shearing pain in my big toe reminded me that I had indeed been judicious in following it. Immediately after this, however, Aggie cornerback Jordan Peterson chased down the receiver and punched the ball loose at the half-yard line for a touchback. This is the moment that I discovered that self-mutilation did indeed help your team, just as long as you stay away from your goods. The football gods aren't that crazy.
And so, at key points in the game I began to find new ways to torture my soul in order to help the Aggies best the undefeated Tigers. Simple things like pulling nose hairs, stepping on a rake, and lifting with my back and not my legs all helped the Aggies get turnovers or convert key third downs. Satisfied with my new found athletomasochism, I dished myself a big bowl of ice cream during halftime. Unfortunately, play resumed as I took my first bite, and the center snapped the ball over McGee's head for a safety. Thinking quickly, I ate the remainder of the bowl as fast as I could, giving myself an ice cream headache the likes of which has never been seen, and after a long drive the Aggies scored the go ahead touchdown. I single-handedly shut down the vaunted Missouri offense in the fourth quarter simply by listening to a burned CD of Kelly Clarkson's greatest hits. Then in the waning moments, I placed the end of my tie in a paper shredder, and as my face edged ever closer to the blades, I was able to see the Tigers fail to convert a fake punt out of the corner of my eye. If this continues to work, it will be comforting to know that following the post-Thanksgiving matchup with the Longhorns, I will no longer have to worry about unsightly hairs in my bikini region.
Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting
And once again, this time in a game between powerhouses Miami and Florida International, life imitates art. Assuming, of course, that the art you are referring to is a painting of a bunch of thugs, er, student-athletes, beating the mess out of each other during a football game. Just weeks after the NFL witnessed a vicious cranial-Riverdance where Andre Gurode ending up with over 30 stitches in his forehead, leading talking heads around the nation to criticize the senseless violence of football, the state of Florida bears witness to a classic melee that will no doubt dominate the sports talk shows for weeks to come.
This led to 13 people being ejected, for such crimes as taking off their helmet and swinging it at other players (which has to be the dumbest thing to do in a fight ever), stomping on the legs of downed players, or even executing wrestling moves that old Psychoag hasn't even seen before. However, the big question centered around how these players were going to be handled for future games.
Florida International kicked two players off of the team, and suspended 16 others indefinitely. And at Miami, where behavior like this is not only expected, but condoned, 13 players were given one-game wrist-slaps, and Miami president Donna Shalala (yes, that's her real name) took a more carefree attitude and said she was not here to "crucify" athletes to restore the school's reputation. Maybe not literally, but figuratively something needs to be done. Certainly more than a one game suspension for those involved. Players should be forced to feel punishment for their actions, with a minimum of four games for fighting. I'm not talking about the pushing after the whistle stuff, I'm talking about the kind of senseless mob violence that took place here. Hey, hey, Shalala. Hey, hey, Shalala. Who's going to ride your wild horses?
However, one issue I take with a lot of sportscasters is their statements that these players should be arrested, because if you did this on the street you would go to jail. I don't think that this kind of behavior should taken lightly, but by that logic, there are a lot of things that go on in football that would get you thrown in jail. For starters, try tackling someone in a bar. Football is a situation where people are doing violent things to each other, and sometimes people lose their cool. I understand that. And although there are certainly cases that could warrant jail time, I think that you do have to temper that with the understanding of what is going on. People are colliding at full speed in a competitive situation, and tempers are going to flare. We just have to let players know that there is a right way, and a Miami way to respond to that anger.
While we are discussing the more seedy aspects of sports, let's take a look at gambling. The NCAA, and sports in general, love to look down their noses at the gambling industry as something that corrupts their sport. They claim that organized crime and high-dollar gamblers could be influencing the outcome of games in order to line their pockets. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was recently asked about this, specifically in reference to government legislation targeting online gambling. He said, "I don't know. I mean, in Georgia, they used to have chicken fighting in this little town on Sunday. Did wagering hurt the integrity of chicken fighting? I don't know. I don't know if it does or not. You don't want any corrupting influence, somebody trying to impact the game for their own benefit. But providing that doesn't happen, I don't know that it hurts the game at all. If anything, it might generate some interest. Are you going to go to the chicken fights and see if there's any integrity as a result of wagering?"
Despite his confusing response, I think Coach Leach is right on. While nobody wants to see games affected by anything but those on the field, to act like mere gambling hurts the sport is paranoia. And for the NCAA to act like it opposes the act on higher moral grounds is laughable. The NCAA, and most sports leagues, know that giving people more of a stake in who wins is a sure formula for getting more people watching a game. An Oklahoma State – Kansas game that normally wouldn't show up on anyone's radar, suddenly generates some increased interest when it is part of a three-game parlay. I don't personally gamble on sports, and so I may be totally confusing the terminology, but you get my point.
And maybe I am naïve about being naïve. Maybe there isn't as much gambling going on as I think there is, and the risk of tampering is not offset by much of an increase in viewership. Still, in a world where people bet on who gets voted off of Survivor, what numbers are going to roll out of a little hopper, and which Coach Terrell Owens will get in a fight with first (if you guessed his position coach, consider yourself a winner), I don't see why people can't make a few wagers on the outcome of sporting events, as long as it is done responsibly.
I've only got one this week, but it comes from Raiderpower's own Trent Wycoff.
"Thou shalt not alter the words of a school song or cheer to something vulgar, idiotic, and juvenile."
Far too often, amateur Weird Als up in the stands feel the need to change the words to their school song to be offensive and demeaning to other schools. This is ridiculous; you should respect your school and its associated songs enough to sing them the right way. If you feel the need to be childish, at least make up lyrics to the songs of OTHER schools, but sing yours the right way.
This rule obviously does not apply in cases (Texas A&M) where the actual words of the song are written to be offensive and demeaning to another school; a school that 11 games out of 12, is not even present at the contest.
Texas at Nebraska 11:00 AM on ABC
Why to watch: The best of the North takes on the best of the South in a potential preview of the Big XII Championship game.
Why not to watch: You like surprises.
Colorado at Oklahoma 6:00 PM on FSN
Why to watch: It's the only other Big XII game on as far as I can tell. You want to see how Oklahoma responds to losing Adrian Peterson, and how Colorado responds to actually winning a game.
Why not to watch: You bet on the Southern Miss – Virginia Tech game that's on ESPNU.
Other games of disinterest:
Kansas State at Missouri Missouri should bounce back against the Wildcats.
Kansas at Baylor A football game.
Texas Tech at Iowa State Two struggling programs look to rebound. Actually, at this point, the fans may be looking forward to watching some rebounding.
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State My boss went to Oklahoma State, and so help me if I have to listen to that sportstard saying "SCOREBOARDS!" to me for the next year, I am going to snap.
Well, that's it. It is 11:39 on Thursday, and I am headed to bed. I'm not even going to bother to change the rest of the Conclusion, and am just cutting and pasting from last week.
So, if you have a topic you would like to see addressed, a comment, or even a question that has been bugging you, no matter how ridiculous, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I admit it. One of my favorite parts of the week is reading your feedback and seeing what you liked and didn't like. If you want to share something with the community, maybe a line that struck you as funny, a stat I screwed up, or maybe an idea of your own, you can do so here. Anyone can read them, but it requires registration to post. It isn't painful, and you might just meet some new people.
Until next week,
The Weakly Retort