By Knute Lombardi
Gobble gobble y'all. Knute here with my first annual Turkey Day Awards.
As I was sitting around dreaming of stuffing my already fat face with food all day on Thanksgiving, I started thinking about the tradition of a "Turkey Bowl" that many washed up old jocks enjoy.
For those of you unwashed cretins who know not of what I speak, a Turkey Bowl is a friendly game of football at the nearest park held on Thanksgiving Day. Any Turkey Bowl worth it's giblets is men only and held in the morning as an excuse to get out of helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Rumor has it that cranberry giant Ocean Spray is set to pony up billions for the naming rights to all Turkey Bowls making their official name something like, "The Hyde Park 400 East Street Turkey Bowl Presented by Ocean Spray". Anyone not using the full name will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Anywho, as I was thinking about Turkey Bowls far and wide I said to myself, "Self, you need to do some post season football awards for one of your columns." So here it is, The malformed monstrosity that was my brainchild.
The Turkey Day Awards work as follows:
1. I decide who gets what
2. Awards will be designated after foods eaten on Thanksgiving.
3. I decide.
4. There will be no press conference or trophy.
5. I decide.
6. No crying. (I call this my Gary Glitter rule)
So without further ado, the envelopes please!
The Cranberry Sauce Award - This award is for the most indispensable (in my opinion, and remember, I decide. See rules 1, 3 and 5.) member of a team that didn't get the recognition he deserves.
The winner: USU TE Chris Cooley. This kid is the real deal and will be playing on Sundays. Some scouting services have him rated as the number one TE in the country and I would have to agree. Kellen Winslow Jr. (after his latest outburst, if I were Kellen Winslow Sr., I would insist he drop my name and change it to Stupid McDumbasserson the First) may be the guy in the spotlight but no one that I have seen has the balance, strength, hands and blocking ability that Cooley demonstrates. He could have been even better too if Rain Man had decided to throw his way all of the times they threw fly patterns to a covered receiver instead (about 63 times per game).
The Stuffing Award - This is for the guy who held everything together, by doing things right because stuffing done right can make a good Turkey day dinner great but done wrong, could ruin it.
Alex Smith at Utah gets the nod. Here comes a sophomore in after Brett Elliott hurts himself doing his "Mike Vick if he was a slow, slow white guy", and all five Ute fans in the Salt Lake Valley are expecting the worst. In fact, Alex gave them better than what they had before and by the end of the season the Utes actually had close to 500 fans actually PAYING to get in. Smith was great and he has two seasons ahead of him. He came in and did it right and made a good Ute team better.
The Green Bean Casserole - This is my "what's the point" award. Every year there are five bowls of this stuff. Every year that is 5 too many but someone must like it because it keeps showing up right?
This award goes to USU offensive coordinator Bob "Rain Man" Cole for the flanker screen and deep fly patterns he keeps calling. Seriously, I know people say that DB's need to have short memories but if you just threw 4 fly patterns in a row their way, they just might detect a tendency. And the flanker/WR screen? Please. I know the concept behind the play, get the ball to a playmaker and let him go one on one. High risk, high reward. In USU's case it was always high risk. Why? Quick, name a big play made by a USU wide receiver this year. I said to do it quick. They didn't have a big play maker at WR so this always ended up a 4 yard loss. So what does Rain Man do? He decides to pull a lineman out there to block for the WR on the screen. So let me get this straight, you have linemen that are struggling to get out of their stance in time to block a man 6 inches away but you are going to ask one of them to run 10 yards out into the flat to try to block a guy who runs a 4.4 40 and is standing 15 feet from the guy catching the ball? Yep. That'll work.
The Jell-O Salad Award - This shows up in many different forms and does whatever is asked and while people always look skeptically at it and wonder how it will be, it usually performs well.
I give this to USU QB Travis Cox. No one knew what to expect outta this guy and he stood in and delivered a solid season. He finished in the top 8 for USU QB seasons in every category and always competed hard. The Iraqi Republican Guard didn't take the pounding this kid did and he kept getting up and competing. After being injured during the Troy State game, the training staff nearly had to Taser him to get his pads off so they could examine him. He couldn't feel one side of his body but he wanted back in. He was wobbly but good to go. Just like Jell-O salad.
And finally the Turkey Award - This category is self-explanatory. While the turkey is the centerpiece to the meal, it is also a dumb damn bird that is now dead.
This goes to Gary Glitter and all the gang at BYU. How can it not? Back to back losing seasons. Nearly oh-fer the season at home (their only win was by 11 versus Georgia Tech) and the icing on the cake, a shut out loss to Utah that snapped the BYU non-shutout streak at right around 398 million games. A player for this team tells me that there is no discipline, no respect for Crowton and his staff and the inmates are running the asylum. He pointed out that this has happened from day one, citing numerous examples including one of former Cougar demi-god...er...QB, Brandon Doman receiving plays in the huddle, declaring them "bullsh*t" and then changing the play to one of his own. The problems run deep at BYU right now and it makes me wonder how long they will stay with Glitter. My spies tell me that he's not going anywhere but he's lost the players, he's lost the fans, he's just flat lost for 2 seasons so I really wonder how long it will be before he gets a "mission call" and has to exit Provo.
That does it for the Turkey Day Awards. Now on to a few other odds and ends.
I recently received an email from a reader wanting to know if I had any insight on the Mick Deadasme situation in Logan. Is he going to get the hook? My answer won't be so popular amongst alumni I talk to but I hear that Mick is safe for one more year at least but if next season turns out like this one did, he'll have plenty of time to fish in the off season. The way I hear it, Mick is suffering from the same lack of respect from his players that is plaguing Glitter in Provo but his AD is committed to giving him time to shake off 2 years of recruiting without a conference and hoping that the new WAC invite will help them land more D1 quality players. That's what I hear so there you go. I hear there may be other changes in the offing but, unlike my days writing for RiseandPout, it behooves me to not to share all I know on this site. Sad but true.
Sorry I haven't pounded out a basketball preview column folks but I've been busy with my real job and while I like writing the column, I like my real job that provides me with a substantial paycheck even more.
Having said that, I took The Ol' Crystal Ball into the shop to winterize it and get it all calibrated for basketball season and to ask it about the game between USU and Weber.
The Naughty Nurses are coming off a Big Sky champeenship and an NCAA bid while the Ags are also coming off a BW Tourney crown and a near upset of eventual runner-up Kansas. The two teams play right down to the wire each and every year and each year, Weber reaches deep into their collective colon to make games close or win with lights out 3 point shooting.
Weber is solid in the frontcourt with Slobberjaws Ohivegotanitch and U of U refugee Lance Allred. Add hot and cold Nic Sparrow to the mix and the Naughty Nurses have enough horses to give the Aggies fits. But talk to anyone associated with the Weber program and you get a real sense of unease about their backcourt. The loss of Jermaine Boyette is huge and they have a sophomore running the point. The Aggies have a distinct advantage there with senior Mark Brown running the show. The Ags look to have a team without a stand out but that will see 4 guys averaging between 8 and 12 points per game. The last time the Aggies had a team like that, they advanced to the second round in the NCAA tourney.
The Aggies are deeper but Weber has won 900 straight at home (okay, so it's only 19) and after the way the Dweebs felt they got jobbed in Logan last year I expect to see a lot of Aggies in early foul trouble as the home court advantage kicks in. TOCB says the Ags lose this one by 6, 67-61 because one of the Nurses will get out of their head hot from 3 land and the home team will enjoy a substantial advantage from the free throw line. Sorry Big Blue fans, TOCB told me a couple of times during the football season that the Ags would lose and I decided to play to the home crowd and I over ruled TOCB only to have it come back and bite me. From now on I will go with what TOCB tells me and if it's wrong...well, that's it's problem.
Happy Thanksgiving all!
Knute talks turkey