Weakly Retort

PsychoAg joins us again for another edition of the Weakly Retort. A fan favorite since 2005, the Retort takes a light-hearted look at the college football landscape, with a specific emphasis on the Big 12.

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This week my back is still a little sore, but I have no major ailments to complain about.  This is good because I react horribly to side effects.  Pain killers especially make me paranoid.  After I had my throat surgery in 1999 (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty with a tonsillectomy) to correct sleep apnea, they put me on pain killers which unfortunately put me in a strange state of mind where I paced the house convinced that the government had put small transmitters inside the pills in order to control my mind.  I also did a whole lot of obsessive scratching of the back of my head.  I'm pretty sure this REALLY freaked out my future in-laws at whose home I was convalescing.  I really don't know why "turns you into Art Bell" wasn't in the prescribing information, but I've always been confused by the stuff they do put in there.  "Side effects include drowsiness and insomnia."  Ugh, no thanks.  If I wanted that, I would just go to more meetings.  "Side effects include constipation and diarrhea."  Seriously?  What kind of messed up scenario must that be like?  Nothing, nothing, nothing, BAM here come the Oompaloompas.  Or better yet, "Side effects include priapism and loss of libido."  Wow, so I've like got this thing going on down here for the next four hours.  Oh, well, I guess I'll just have a bowl of ice cream and watch How I Met Your Mother.

Okay, this Retort is going to be slightly different this week.  I wrote it over the course of two days as it required two completely different states of mind.  As such, I have moved the more serious part to the end in order to not sandwich it between two helpings of nonsense.  And we all love nonsense.  So, bear with me if I get a little bit sentimental toward the end.

20/20 Hindsight:

Texas  47  -  Baylor  14
It didn't take much for the Longhorns to stomp a mudhole in the Baylor Bears and keep their national title hopes alive.  The Longhorns jumped out to a 40 – 0 halftime lead on route to their 10th win.  Their ninth straight season with 10 wins, albeit only a single conference championship during that stretch.  Defensive end Sergio Kindle put it the simplest when he said, "The wins feels good.  It's one win more than nine."  It's good to see our student athletes are getting a quality education.  The Bears meanwhile showed that in Waco, no game is ever a home game when your opponent is less than 3 hours away as the majority of the crowd was sporting burnt orange, a color so horrific that it could only have been worn deliberately.

  38  -  Kansas State  12
The Tigers finally score a touchdown in the second half for the first time in a conference game.  I haven't seen something so terrible in the second half since "insert any Stanley Kubrick movie here".  Gabbert goes 20 of 27 for almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns to put away the Kansas State Tigers who are the most unstable team in the conference this year.  Almost as unstable as playing your home games in a stadium named after your active coach.

State  17  -  Colorado  10
Just to prove that there are too many bowl games, the Iowa State Cyclones went out and beat Colorado in order to become bowl eligible.   Yes, a team with wins over North Dakota State, Kent State, Army and Baylor gets to go to a bowl game.  The only remotely interesting thing I can find in this game is that a player named Stephen Ruempolhamer recovered a fumble and I believe that is German for "Mallet on the end of stick used to tap the buttocks."

  31  -  Kansas  17
Okay, forget this game and let's talk a little Mangino.  It is amazing how when a program starts going down the toilet, especially after tasting success, that the rats begin to appear.  In this case, players are accusing the love child of Tony Soprano and Jabba the Hutt of "grabbing, yelling at and *gasp* putting his finger in the chest of senior linebacker Arist Wright" who then went out and blew up a 160 pound walk-on running back and called him a female body part.  But you know, that's different.  Okay, let's talk a little bit about the game.  The Nebraska offense which had been putting up pee-wee wing-T kind of numbers sprang to life and racked up over 400 yards to stay in the Big XII North race.

  65  -  Texas A&M  10
Good grief.  The Aggies held with the Sooners for a whole quarter before completely defecating their sleeping apparatus.  You want to talk real football?  Here is A&M's problem.  They have some good players on defense, but their defense doesn't play well as a unit.  People are left too wide open.  Lanes aren't filled properly.  This leads to points being given up.  On offense, the Aggies success relies on balance.  When you don't know if they are passing or running, they are able to put together an effective gameplan.  However, once you get two scores ahead and they are forced into a pass only mode, it is very easy to lock them down and force 3-and-out after 3-and-out, which leads to a leaky defense giving up even more points and this is the recipe for a blowout as we have seen a couple times this season.  The Aggies can savor the moral victory that at least they didn't lose 77 – 0, but that is a lot like being glad the girl you asked to dance only kicked you in the junk and didn't put her cigarette out on your forehead.

  24  -  Texas Tech 17
This is the only game that had any drama.  After Potts proved to be ineffective in the first half, Tech coach Mike Leach went to the Kirk Gibson strategy and brought the injured Steven Sheffield off of the bench.  He trotted onto the field in slow motion and stared down the opposition. Unfortunately, Kirk Gibson didn't have 3 screws in his ankle and so instead of rounding the bases pumping his fist, which would have been strange for a football game anyway, Sheffield threw 2 picks and Leach replaced him with Potts.  When it looked like Tech was finished late, and OSU Quarterback Zac Robinson was running for a first down that would have allowed them to knee it out, safety Jamar Wall slammed into Robinson, jarring the ball loose and leaving both players laying on the turf.  But the Red Raiders couldn't take advantage of the turnover and complete the storybook ending, instead falling short and ending up more like a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm.

Couch Potato's Guide:

Colorado  at  #12 Oklahoma State  6:30 PM Thursday ESPN
Why to watch:  Oklahoma State is one of the only good teams left.  Unfortunately this game was already played on JV night.
Who will win:  Finally, one I can pick correctly.  But I won't.

  at  Texas Tech  11:30 AM on FSN
Why to watch:  This is the only game that has any interestitude (made up word) to it.
Who will win:  Gooooooooooooooooo Soooooooooneeeeeerrrrrrs.  Sooners win, 35 annoying yelling people to 21.

  at  Missouri  1:00 PM
Why not to watch:  Not on TV.
Who will win:  The Cyclones are bowl eligible, but may still need another win to actually getting invited.  Unfortunately, they won't get it.  Missouri wins, 17 Poulan Weed Eaters to 12 Bluebonnets.

Baylor  at  Texas A&M  2:30 PM
Why not to watch: Not on TV either, which actually bodes well for the Aggies who are 5 – 0 when not on TV and 0 – 5 when they are.
Who will win: This win could also make the Aggies bowl-eligible, proving once again that we have too many bowls.  Aggies win 41 Souths to 28 Elmendorfs.

  at  Nebraska  6:45 PM on ESPN
Why to watch:  I think these teams are still battling to see who gets donkeypunched by the Longhorns in the championship game.
Who will win:  I bet it is funny watching Bill Snyder eat corn.  Nebraska 24 – Kansas State 21.

  at  #2 Texas  7:00 PM on ABC
Why to watch:  It's the Longhorns and you paid $15 for that t-shirt.
Who will win:  Kansas is the worst team in the conference and Texas is the best.  This also exhibits the two polar opposites in coaching styles.  Mack Brown never put his finger in anyone's chest, in fact he is more likely to rub their shoulders and braid their hair.  Still, if this isn't a blow out, he might clap his hands in someone's face and say "Let's go".  Longhorns win 56 Laurels to 14 Hardys.

My 98 Cents Worth:  Bonfire – The 10th Anniversary

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  It was November 18, 1999 and my alarm clock had gone off to let me know it was time to drag my self out of bed to start getting ready for work.  Because I abhorred the sound of the buzzer, I had my alarm clock set to come on in radio mode and it was tuned to some manner of modern rock station.  But this morning, no music was playing, instead it was the sound of the morning crew talking, and before I could smack the snooze button for nine more minutes of bedded bliss, I heard them say that the A&M Bonfire had collapsed.  My first thought was "oh, great, not again" and this comment may require some backstory.  Five years earlier in 1994, my freshman year, the center pole snapped while Bonfire was being built due to unusually intense rains and a new Bonfire site, and since it was a slow tip over and not a major collapse, there were no injuries, and the stack was dismantled log by log.  Although we took some ridicule from Texas fans for this, we were able rebuild the Bonfire in week by working round the clock and getting more people than ever pitching in and working to get it done.  The fact that we went on to beat the Longhorns made it even sweeter.

But this time was different.  As the story went on, they mentioned that at least ten were dead and many more injured.  This caused me to sit up straight in bed, not believing what I had heard.  I woke my wife (also an Aggie) and told her the news.  Still in shock, we stopped and said a prayer for those affected and their families.  For the previous five years, I had been out there working on the Bonfire stack myself.  Although I was never out there at that time of the morning, it shook me a bit that something so enjoyable and so memorable could end in something so tragic.

Bonfire was where a lot of memories were built.  Working with your dorm to cut down trees with axes for hours on a Saturday with only a sack lunch.  Working your shift on stack carrying giant logs across a field and putting them into place.  Sweating and occasionally bleeding together from minor cuts and scrapes, you would generally not wash your Bonfire clothes for the entire stretch from September to November and they would easily stand by themselves by the time Bonfire was ready to burn.

But this time was different.  We went to work and tried to understand it all by talking to Aggie coworkers around the water cooler. We went to the memorial service put on in Fort Worth by TCU and hugged each other and cried together.  I will not hesitate to admit that I shed a lot of tears over those few days.  We drove down to College Station for the game and went to the Bonfire site and saw the thousands of messages, pictures and mementos left by grieving students and alumni.  We attended the candlelight vigil at Kyle Field and I cannot begin to describe the wave of emotion that was experienced as we gazed around the stadium to the sight of thousands of dots of light dancing in the darkness in complete silence.

And for one year, the fists of rivalry became the arms of an embrace.  Texas fans cancelled their usual "Hex Rally" and instead held blood drives and memorial services arm in arm with their longtime rivals.  It didn't matter if you wore maroon or burnt orange that weekend as everyone knew that some things are more important than football.  The Texas band marched with A&M flags held high and the Aggie band performed the entire halftime show in complete silence.  It was an experience that will live with me forever.

And so ten years later, we pause for a moment to remember the tragic events of that day.  And as the roll is called, I will stand beside my Aggie brothers and sisters and answer "here" for those twelve whose voice was silenced.


Keeping this short.

Email:  psychoag98@yahoo.com
Forum: http://forums.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=188&f=1658&t=5154293
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Thank you for your time,

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