Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Week Off

My apologies, but I'm taking a break on this web site for a week. Will return on January 5th, 2010. Thanks to everyone for dropping by. Looking forward to next year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Auburn vs. The Big Ten

This is a first.

For this year’s Outback Bowl, Auburn is playing a team it has never played before. Not in its previous 1,136 games.

That’s amazing.

Then again, it may not be. They’ve played other teams in the Big Ten (plus One), but not as many as I would have expected after 100+ years. After Northwestern, there will still be four teams in the Big ten that Auburn has yet to play. Historical records against current Big Ten teams are below.

1) Illinois 0-0
2) Indiana 1-0 (1990 Peach Bowl)
3) Iowa 0-0
4) Michigan 1-1
5) Michigan State 1-0 (1937 Orange Bowl)
6) Minnesota 0-0
7) Ohio State 1-0-1
8) Penn State 1-1
9) Purdue 0-0
10) Wisconsin 1-1-1

This gives Auburn a 6-3-2 record against the Big Ten, with all but two of these games being bowl games. (The two ties were regular season contests.) Like any list, I need to admit a few things about mine (especially for any Big Ten purist who might be reading this). The list above is the complete record against all current Big Ten teams. What does that mean?

=> It counts games regardless of when they were played. The SEC was founded in 1932. The Big Ten in 1896. The list above counts Auburn games against Big Ten teams prior to the SEC’s formation. (None were played prior to the Big Ten’s formation.)
=> The list above also counts games against teams who weren’t in the Big Ten at the time of the contest. It means the 1937 contest vs. Michigan State was technically not an SEC Big Ten match-up as Michigan State joined in 1950.
=> It ignores teams no longer in the Big Ten. (Granted, this doesn’t change anything as Auburn never played Chicago.)

And while this game may be first opponent to both teams, it will add to the growing animosity that is the SEC vs. the Big Ten. Granted, that animosity has been there almost since the SEC’s inception. Scholarships, as we know them today, weren’t always the case. It used to be that schools recruited athletes by offering them jobs. The jobs in turn paid for the schooling. However, during the Depression, when jobs were particularly scarce in the South, the SEC began offering tuition as an inducement. The Big Ten filed a complaint immediately, stating that offering tuition was a violation of the rules. The SEC countered that this put them at a competitive disadvantage, as the Midwestern states had jobs to offer while the South did not. The NCAA (or its forerunner at the time) found in favor of the SEC. The modern scholarship was born. The Big Ten has been ticked at the SEC ever since.

So what is the record between the two conferences?

If you speak only of actual conference matchups, the record favors the SEC by a total of 66-47-2. To do this would count such schools as Chicago, Sewanee, Tulane, and Georgia Tech while they were members, and would not count Arkansas and Penn State during the times they were not. And, though Auburn has two ties against Big Ten schools, these two ties are not the same ties as mentioned in the conference head-to-head. (Auburn hosted Ohio State in 1917. Final score was 0-0. Auburn traveled to Wisconsin in 1931 and left with a 7-7 tie. Both games occurred prior to formation of the SEC.)

Yeah, a Big Ten fan might say, but this doesn’t mean that the SEC schools weren’t part of a major conference, and this is true. Prior to forming the SEC, most of the schools were part of the Southern Conference. While the Southern Conference is now an FCS conference that features such schools as Appalachian State, Elon, and Davidson, it once was composed of many members of the current SEC and ACC conferences. This leads us back to the SEC vs. Big Ten head-to-head when schools are members of the conferences.

Big Ten fans would also like to argue that you should include all current Big Ten schools vs. all current SEC schools. I saw one state where the Big Ten leads that discussion 95-88-7.

But it’s all a lot of argument.

Games aren’t won on debate. They’re won on the field.

And on New Year’s Day in Tampa, that’s where this game will be decided.

Until the next game anyway,

War Eagle!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

At church last Sunday, our pastor gave a talk about Mary's visit to her kinsman, Elizabeth. He pointed out that the two of them lived roughly 80 miles away form each other and that Mary, a young teenager, just didn't get up and go. Instead, she would have traveled in some kind of caravan and family would have come with her to protect her. The caravan would have traveled only four days a week. They would have unpacked the day before the Sabbath to set up camp, done no work on the Sabbath, and then spent the day after the Sabbath packing.

But the most amazing part of that story was the reminder that Elizabeth's baby, John the Baptist, leaped in the womb at the presence of Jesus.

May we all greet Jesus the same way.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Littlest Actor

Every family has a story that keeps on giving, one that will be retold for the rest of their days. This is ours. And while I have run it on previous Christmases, I hope you won't mind if I run it again. It occurred a few years ago, when we lived in Oregon. May you Christmas worship time be memorable to you.

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than this one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd. Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front. We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it. However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Impressive Display

It'll be short as the holidays keep me swamped. Click here to be taken to a most impressive display. I wish my wife would let me do this. Granted, I would end up spending as much money on our power bill as Al Gore.

Will post my initial thoughts on the Auburn-Northwestern match-up next week. Trying to take in the performance of the basketball team in the meantime.

War Eagle.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Little Boy’s Nightmare

My younger son likes to misbehave. At this time of year, my wife often find ourselves reminding the little guy that “Santa is watching him.” The admonition seems to work for awhile. However, he soon engages in what seems to be an all-out effort at being mischievous. It’s such an ongoing event with us that, while shopping at Wal-Mart recently, my wife found a t-shirt with the words, “Dear Santa, I was framed.” She immediately found one in our younger son’s size. Of course, he wears it with pride.

But there is one event in his life that still gets his attention.

One of our Christmas traditions is to place our boys’ Santa gifts next to their bed. My wife buys a nice wrapping paper that she hides in the closet so she won’t use it for anything else. (It wouldn’t do to have Santa using the same paper we do.) We wait till we’re sure the boys are asleep, then we set out their big present from Santa. (Actually I set it out as my wife is asleep. However, as she bought the gift, hid it, and wrapped it in the special paper, it seems to be the least I can do.)

Though we usually spend Christmas at home, one year we went up to North Carolina to visit my family. We spent Christmas Eve at my Dad’s place. My boys stayed up for while, drinking hot chocolate and watching Santa Claus’s approach on the NORAD website. However, my younger son was his usual naughty self. We warned him that we were going to call Santa. He would say he’s sorry, but then revert to his old self a few minutes later.

Finally tired, our boys sacked out on a queen-sized bed in the guest room. When we sure they were out, we set up a platform of pillows on each side and placed their Santa gift on top of each pile.

The next morning, while we were sipping coffee in the kitchen, my younger son came running into the room in tears. “Santa didn’t leave me anything,” he cried. We went into the room and realized what had happened. The gift had fallen off the pillows in the night and the pillows had covered it. He was devastated.

Well, we did the only thing we could do. We fought the urge to bust out laughing. After a few “well, we warned you,” we finally went back into the room and “found” his gift.

Relieved, he was able to enjoy the rest of his Christmas and was soon to back to his naughty, but lovable self, but a little timid at times.

Maybe next year. ;-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Freeze Your #*%$ Off For a Good Cause

For those reading this, you can fill in the blank. However, as far as weird things I’ve done in my life, how I spent last weekend hits a new level.

Last weekend was Yule Log for the Boy Scouts in the north Georgia area. For those unfamiliar with it, on the weekend of Yule Log in December, Scouts gather for a weekend of friendly competitions at Scoutland in Gainesville. The price of entry is canned food as all the Scouts in attendance spend their days prior to the weekend collecting food to replenish local food banks. Some troops spend the weekend. Some come in for the day. All bring food to help out. Sounds fantastic and it is.

So what was weird about it?

Last weekend was, as most of you may have noticed, a little on the cold side. And my son’s troop chose to spend the weekend camping out. As the day approached, I saw the weather reports showing freezing temperatures with an inch of rain scheduled for Saturday night and I started asking myself what I might have gotten myself into. I’d camped with my son’s troop before and it had been a lot of fun. However, the potential of freezing rain? I must have lost my mind.

Complicating this was that we’d gotten my son a new tent. It was his first and he was excited. Scoutland has a lot of large canvas tents with mattresses already set up at the various campsites and my son and I had arrived early enough to claim one. Mattresses sounded like a good idea, and the tents were big enough for our gear, but my son would have none of it. He wanted to spend the night in his tent. His 6’ x 5’ tent, camped out with his 6’2” father.

With the weather coming, the only thing I knew to do was dress in layers. For most of Friday evening, I felt pretty good. My son and I got the tent set up and then realized scant little of our gear would fit. We took what we needed to back to the car and made due what we had, blankets from the house that we’d hope would keep us warm. The two of sacked out about 10:30 p.m. and I thought we’d be ok.

I woke up later and I realized I was cold. I’d slept most of the night, I figured. It would be dawn in a couple of hours. Then I reached for my cell phone so I could check the time.

1:15 a.m.

Oh! My! Word! (Actually, I uttered something else, but this is a family space.)

I rearranged the blankets on my son to make sure that he covered and then drew back my hand. The blankets were wet. Condensation from my son’s body heat meeting with the night air. I checked to make sure his cap was on. I knew he was in no danger. (I could have always taken him to the car and driven him around to get him warm if it was really that dire, but I knew that would have been overreacting.) After taking care of him, I wrapped my own blankets around me and tried to get some sleep.

3:00 a.m.

3:45 a.m.

4:45 a.m.

I realized I hadn’t endured a night this long since I was a kid on Christmas Eve. My son woke up at 5:15 and had to go to the bathroom. (I took him there, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. The sun still hadn’t risen and it would be another two hours at least.) I asked if he was okay and he said that he was fine, though he didn’t like the cold. As much as we’d prepared, we hadn’t done enough. When he finally got up on Saturday morning, he was beat. So was I.

We went home Saturday afternoon and both had hot showers. (The whole troop bugged out on Saturday, in anticipation of the bad weather.) I slept for several hours, got up for awhile, then went back and slept for more. On Sunday, I felt like I was finally warming up again, though the pain in my back left me feeling like the stunt double for the hunchback of Notre Dame.

I asked my son if he’d enjoyed his time, now that it was over. He made a comment about camping in the cold, saying he didn’t want to go again until it warmed up. Maybe next Yule Log, we’ll go for the day. One time, though, in that weather was enough.

But we’ll be sure to take lots of cans.

Food banks can use your help. Please remember them at this time of year. Click here to get more information about the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Beauty of One Word

During the Siege of Bastogne (in The Battle of the Bulge), with American forces surrounded by German forces, the German commander, Heinrich Freiherr von L├╝ttwitz, sent a note suggesting surrender to General Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the American forces. McAuliffe’s response is below:

To the German Commander,

Nuts!

Signed,

The American Commander.

While the German high command (as well as McAuliffe’s non-American allies) supposedly had trouble directly translating the word “nuts,” the Germans had no problem discerning immediately that the one word response was not a positive one from the head of the American forces.

So what does this have to do with now?

While following the post-season articles in college football, I’ve been watching the exchanges that have followed between Auburn and Alabama fans. With Alabama having an undefeated season and their toughest game having been Auburn, I’ve seen a mix. Some fans of both sides have exchanged mutual words of support, as if this year’s Iron Bowl represented a new era. I’ve seen comments from Auburn and Alabama fans still expressing the “honor and glory of the SEC” and "well wishes for New Year’s Day," things I never expected to see. And yes, there is the expected “the Longhorns will gore you” and “you belong in the Papajohns bowl” barbs going back and forth, too.

How different it is from 2004, when Auburn had an undefeated season and yet was shut out of playing for the national championship. There were no kind words back then. Only derision. Dislike so bad that when a high school kid in Alabama set up a national championship computer poll that suddenly became national sports news because Auburn was leading it, the student and his family supposedly began receiving death threats from Alabama fans. The embarrassment of not getting to play for it (after having gone undefeated in the toughest conference in the land) was trumpeted. Admittedly, those memories remain in the minds of many Auburn fans.

So it was last week, when I e-mailed a friend of mine, asking a single questions. “Are you rooting for Texas?”

My friend responded with one word: “Absofrickinlutely.”

And one word can sometimes say it all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

When Reindeer Get Religion

“How was school today?” I asked my 7-year old son as he chomped away on his dinner.

“Great, Dad. We learned about reindeer.”

“Oh, really? What did you learn?”

“We learned people used to denominate them.”

I paused. “Denominate?”

“Mm-hmm. Denominate.”

My wife looked at me with a stare that said what? and I figured I must have returned one just like it as I wondered what might be the religious preferences of Santa’s reindeer. I realized I could never be certain. (After all, I don’t know them personally, except for the Christmas specials I watched growing up.) But, I could at least make some reasonable assumptions.

Dasher always has to be first, so that means he’s one of seven possibilities. As for Dancer, I had no clue how to get his religious preference , but as I figured “Dancer” was a nickname, I at least could eliminate a few choices. Comet was my best hope. As I learned in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Special, he’s all about rules. This meant I could narrow it down to two possibilities, one of which is mine. And I figured Vixen and Cupid were atheists, else they would have changed their names.

Finally, it hit me and I looked directly at my son. “Do you mean, domesticate?”

“Yeah, domesticate. That’s it. They used to keep them and use them to help around the house and the farm.”

I nodded. “Yes, and in some places they still do.”

My wife commented. “Big word for a little boy.” She then glanced at me. “How’d you figure that one out?”

“It just came to me.”

“Your mind works in strange ways.”

She has NO idea.

The writer hopes everyone takes the above in the humor it was intended. However, even though he acknowledges that denominate doesn’t mean “to assign a religion,” it really was the first thing that popped into the author’s head.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Goodbye, Mr. Monk

An era ended at our house last Friday.

The final episode of Monk premiered. I watched it with my wife and our younger son. Our older one, also a Monk fan, was involved in an event at his school. He’ll have to catch the final episode on re-run.

For eight years, we’ve watched this show. It started with me, because I like the quirky detective genre. I love Sherlock Homes and Hercule Poirot, so I gravitated to Monk. My wife started soon after and then my kids got into it, too. My 7-year old would scream with delight when it was time for the show to come on. “Monky-Monk,” he always called the main character.

For eight years, if we were home on Friday night, we watched. (The show is older than my younger son.) We always knew what the final episode would come down to…Monk finding his wife’s killer. We also knew it had to end After eight years, the writers seemed to be running out of ideas. Shows in the last season were nowhere near as crisp as they had been in the earlier years. Had the writing been like this at the outset, the show would have never survived. However, we stayed with it through the last season, like an old friend that had given us many pleasant memories.

I did wonder how the final episode would end. I was convinced he would die. Sherlock Holmes ended his career by falling off a high cliff ledge with his greatest opponent, Professor Moriarty. Hercule Poirot died of natural causes, but with his dying breaths convinced his greatest opponent to take his own life. It seemed appropriate for Monk that he would pass at the end, as the search for his wife’s killer had sustained his for twelve years. Instead, Monk was poisoned, survived, and given a new reason to go on living.

I’m sure we’ll find something else to do on our Friday nights. (My older son is already counting down the days until he starts driving and he’s not even a teenager yet.) But, we will miss the quirky detective who brought so much enjoyment into our lives.

Goodbye, Monky-Monk.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hung Over

When I say “hung over,” I’m not talking about drinking. The only thing I had during the Auburn- Alabama game was Diet Mountain Dew.

Yet, the loss hit like a gut punch and it lasted for several days. We led or were tied with Alabama up until the last two minutes, but the game is sixty minutes and not 58 so we fell.

I was proud of the way Auburn played, but had seen the story twice already this year. We ran out of gas in the 4th quarter and lost to Kentucky. At Georgia, we had the momentum on our final drive. I believe we would have tied them. But the injury that interrupted what became our final set of downs shut us down for 20 minutes. And it’s hard to face a critical third down at the end of a game when you’re just flat cold.

And we all know how the final game of the season ended.

A salve to the wounds came out a few days later as it was announced Auburn would be going to the Outback Bowl. As of this writing, I don’t know if our opponent will be Wisconsin or Northwestern. I’m hoping for Northwestern. We’ve already seen Wisconsin twice in the last decade. Let’s get somebody new. Since we weren’t going to be a BCS team, we couldn’t have done much better if we had two extra wins. And, an Outback Bowl gives Auburn a game that sounds more respectable than some of the other opportunities. Also, we get more practice, which we desperately need.

For now, though, we have to put up with the tauntings of the redneck roustabouts. We can be gracious, which we always are, and do what our hearts tell us to do.

For, and every Auburn fan knows the feeling (and it was initially expressed beautifully by one of my Auburn friends on Twitter), I’d rather lose as an Auburn Tiger, than win as anything else.

War Eagle!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Posting Schedule Change

I took a week off as the football season wore me out and the Christmas party season started. I will be shifting to one past per week, with the likely exception of bowl week.

I hope everyone who stopped by during the football season will continue to follow my musings on all things Auburn for the rest of the year.

I'm extremely excited about our projected Outback Bowl invitation. Should be a good game.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Blues

I did something Thursday morning that I shouldn’t have. I stepped on the bathroom scale.

Actually, it’s something I should have done a few days ago, but didn’t. I knew I’d indulged myself over the holidays and figured the extra weight would go away. (One of the rules of weight loss. If you don’t think about it, it goes away.) But as I walked into the bathroom that morning, the flat white device mocked me as images of clothes fitting more snugly than they used to fit flashed through my mind.

Don’t do it.

One voice of supposed reason echoed in the emptiness that is my head when I haven’t had coffee. It tried to talk me out of it.

Your wonderful wife fixed one of your favorite dishes last night. So what if you had thirds. Give it another day.

But I didn’t listen and I stepped on that scale.

Uggh!!

I was still five pounds over my pre-Thanksgiving weight, which was already elevated in an inverse relationship to the amount of Halloween candy left downstairs. And with parties every weekend until after New Year’s, it looks like I have no hope.

My wife would probably tell me to eat less. (Fat chance of that. She’s a great cook.)

I could hope for warm days, so I could get outside and play with my kids, or at least get some exercise. (Granted, I shouldn’t let a chill stop me.) However, keeping the holiday pounds off, like any laudable goal, takes work.

Any suggestions from readers out there?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Look Back at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was last week. (Not that I was thinking anyone missed it.) We had a blast. We drove up to NC to spend time with my family Two days, including the actual holiday, with my mother and her husband (Grandma and Papa Foy). Two days with my dad and his wife (Grandpa and Na-na). (I’m glad my wife’s parents are Japanese. My sons use the Japanese terms for grandma and grandpa. I would have had difficulty coming up with separate names for them otherwise.) Whichever set of grandparents it is, my boys enjoy being with them.

However, the start and end of the trip provided an interesting commentary that I hadn’t expected. On Wednesday, we met Grandma and Papa Foy at Old Salem, an historic community of shops (like a miniature Williamsburg) that demonstrates how people lived in the 18th and 19th century. The community, founded by the Moravian church, is located in Winston-Salem, NC. People take you through tours of explanations of old bakeries, gun shops, shoemakers, tinsmiths, etc. as well as living and worship spaces for the townsfolk. My sons enjoyed the gun shops. (They’re boys. It’s to be expected.) They also enjoyed a Toy Museum exhibit.

One of the facts I found interesting was that, at Old Salem, they alternate days between the 18th and 19th century. We’d showed up on 19th century day. This meant that a lot of the 18th century style shops were closed. Old Salem used to run both types every day, but budgeting and the economy had forced the community to cut back. Some people did double up. The shoemaker was also the potter. The tinsmith switched operated both days and just switched the equipment he could use. Overall, though, the interesting little place was half-staffed and would remain that way for the immediate future.

Though I thought the situation sad, I didn’t think much else of it. We celebrated with a big group on Thanksgiving day at my mothers, went to my father’s on Friday, and then went shopping on Saturday with my wife while my kids enjoyed a movie with Grandpa and Na-na.

On Sunday, we packed for home. We left mid-morning, as we were afraid of traffic slowing us down. It had before. We expected it. And while we did run into spots of traffic, the overall traffic volume was lower than I remember in previous years. Were we lucky? I don’t know.

However, those musings were overshadowed by all the similar-looking signs I noticed while traveling south on I-85. How were they similar? They all had a number to call, if you were interesting in leasing the space.

So, a nice family vacation, bracketed by little signs of weakness in the economy. And I as considered my own situation, I realized one thing.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Auburn - Alabama Postgame 2009

Posting early due to the early game.

Opened my first Twitter post of the game with the words, “I’m cautiously optimistic.” With Terrell Zachary’s opening TD, I went crazy. My wife sent our younger son upstairs to tell me to calm down. I kept it down on the onside kick, but I felt almost the same way.

Then we went up 14-0. I was still cautiously optimistic. The Georgia game started the same way. However, as Alabama tied it up at 14-14 all, I knew already Auburn had to dig down deep if they were going to win this game. The odd thing is that even at the half, nobody outside of Auburn fans was giving Auburn a chance.

And then I saw something different.

Toward the end of the second quarter, Auburn learned how to move the ball again. And I felt we had a chance that I hadn’t seen two weeks ago. “If only the refs would watch the same game.” How that hit on Fannin toward the end of the second half wasn’t helmet-to-helmet was an amazing “no call” by the officials.

We maintained some semblance of heart through the third quarter. According to the CBS announcers (the ones in the studio), it shouldn’t have been that way. Alabama was merely biding its time and was in no danger. Alabama was going to win walking away with a double-digit lead. It was just a matter of time.

Somebody forgot to tell Auburn they weren’t even supposed to be in it.

Two defensive stands in the third quarter left Auburn ahead 21-20. My stomach continued roiled as the tension rose.

And then there was that final drive. Alabama showed why it was undefeated, coming into that drive 2 for 11 on third down conversions and making them when it counted. That last one hurt worst of all and put the Tide ahead for good. Auburn, traditionally having some semblance of clock management at the end of a half, showed they’d watched Les Miles in the LSU-Ole Miss game. Hail Mary chance at the end, but game over.

Back in the ‘70s, I remember watching a TV series called Operation: Petticoat. It was about a pink-colored submarine during WWII that carried a contingent of nurses. The sub was the laughingstock of the navy. In one episode, they were given the dangerous assignment of ferrying MacArthur to another location. It turned out that the MacArthur on board was a decoy. The navy had let it slip that the famed “pink sub” was carrying MacArthur to hide MacArthur’s real movements. At the end, the crew was down because they knew no one had given them a chance, yet they handled their mission. The Captain, played by John Astin, made a speech at the end about not having had a chance. He instructed his crew not to get down around him, because he was too busy “feeling proud.”

So am I. And so should every Auburn fan.

Let’s face it. Moral victories do suck.

But I’m still proud.

War Eagle anyway! Always and forever!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! If you're going somewhere to be with family, I hope you have a safe journey.

Next week, I will resume my Tuesday and Friday posting schedule. However, I will be dropping the "This Weekend in Atlanta" posting. Not sure what I'm going to do yet. I like the idea of people submitting funny comments by kids. We'll have to see.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Auburn vs. Alabama Preview 2009

Auburn vs. Alabama 2009 Preview

Auburn lost a game to NC State this weekend.

No, you didn’t miss a football game. Auburn lost a basketball game at a tourney in Florida. Auburn was the underdog going in. The team lost a lot from last year’s 24-win squad that dropped a heartbreaker to Baylor in the quarterfinals of the NIT. They are predicted to finish 6th in the West Division this year, not much different from the last few years.

The team trailed at halftime, but led through much of the second half. NC State came back to tie it at 48-all with a few minutes left and it was back-and-forth all the way. Auburn, outmanned and outgunned, lost 60-58 on a basket with 1.7 seconds left. The men’s team is currently 2-3. No one can tell them if that’s good yet.

This week, Auburn, the football team, plays Alabama. It’s a Friday game, meaning it won’t get lost in the melee of games on Saturday. Granted, Alabama and their fans probably think this Friday will be a showcase. A chance to show off. The press has already written us off. Finebaum predicted a blow-out last week. Scarbinsky has already commented that Auburn won’t get beat as bad as last year, but it will still be a beat-down.

And no one expects us to have a chance. We’re currently 12-point underdogs. Prior to last year’s game, we were 14-point underdogs. Since home field advantage is supposedly worth seven points (which makes the Kentucky loss seem even worse), this team, from an odds standpoint, is a bigger long-shot than last year.

The ESPN GameDay guys don’t have to show up for a prediction. They can just use tape from 2003. On that day, the crew pontificated on how bad the beat down might be. When they reached Corso, he just paused as if to add one of his infamous “not so fast, my friends,” and then shook his head and spoke one word, “Alabama.”

This team is better than last year’s team. The defense has been through a lot of changes and is more porous than last year's squad, but the overall team has a stronger heart.

And if the referees allow the game to play, then this is a team that can challenge the whole game.

Pat Dye, when asked in his interview how long it would take for him to beat Alabama, replied “Sixty minutes.”

It will take sixty minutes of solid play for Auburn to beat Alabama this year. I just hope it doesn’t fall in the last 1.7 seconds.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Haircut

“Daddy, I need a haircut.”

The words, coming from my 7-year old, stopped me dead. “You want a what?”

“I want a haircut.”

“Ok,” I said, nodding. Inside, I was happy. My little guy has fought getting a haircut for a number of months. My wife and I have often commented how long his hair is and that he should have it shorn. We tried numerous approaches.

“If you don’t cut your hair, you won’t be able to see. You’ll trip over something.”

“I can see fine. I just move it out of the way.”

During baseball season, he went into a slump. We seized the opportunity.

“You seem to be having trouble batting. Is your hair getting in your eyes?”

“I just shove it under my helmet. I can see fine.”

“That’s a lot of hair, though. Maybe your helmet’s too tight.”

Still, he blew our concerns off and wouldn’t be deterred. My wife, frustrated, demanded that he at least agree to cut his bangs. He pouted and sat still, long enough for my wife to give him a trim. Other than that, nothing.

Finally, we thought we had a solution.

“Tell you what. We’ll let you keep your hair long. You just need a bow.”

“Mom! Dad!” he fumed. “I don’t want a bow.”

“”It’ll be cute,” we countered. “You can borrow a bow from one of your classmates. Your cousin wears a lot of bows in her hair. Maybe she’ll give you one.”

Eventually, given enough teasing, he would storm off. My wife and I would laugh, convinced we were getting to him. However, he was not deterred. Finally, my wife and I agreed to let him keep his hair long as long it didn’t get in his eyes and cause him problems.

So, for this reason, his comment about cutting his hair caught me off guard.

“Really,” I asked. ‘What made you change your mind.”

“Some friends of mine said I look like a girl.”

Ah. Peer pressure. That would do it.

Still, even though he’s decided to get a trim, my wife and I realize that we have another challenge. He’s only seven. Is he already listening to his peers more than us? How do we deal with that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta


When my wife and I visited New York a few years ago, we had a chance to see the Rockettes. The show was absolutely wonderful.

This weekend, today actually, The Rockettes open at Fox Theater. They'll be in town until December 6th. Click here for more information. (Picture originally published on the Fox Theater website.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Season in Review…So Far

Back in July and August, I made a series of predictions about the impending season. By this time, I predicted Auburn would be 7-4 in the season.

Part of me is flat-out amazed that I’m right. I wasn’t right last year at this time. But, I have to at least bask in a little bit or smarmy satisfaction.

Yeah, right.

Below is a chart showing how I did. I missed a lot

Week 1: Auburn 37, La. Tech 13. (My prediction: Auburn 24, La. Tech 13). I got La. Tech's score correct.
Week 2: Auburn 49, Miss. St. 24. (My prediction: Auburn 13, Miss. St. 6). Obviously I was still thinking about last season's contest.
Week 3: Auburn 41, West Virginia 30. (My prediction: Auburn 21, West Virginia 26). My first miss, but I was happy about it.
Week 4: Auburn 54, Ball State 30. (My prediction: Auburn 31, Ball State 10). Not unexpected.
Week 5: Auburn 26, Tennessee 22. (My prediction: Auburn 27, Tennessee 21). Couldn't believe how close I was here.
Week 6: Arkansas 44, Auburn 23. (My prediction: Arkansas 16, Auburn 14). Correct outcome, but boy was I off on the score.
Week 7: Kentucky 21, Auburn 14. (My prediction: Auburn 27, Kentucky 7). I never imagined drinking beer after the Kentucky game.
Week 8: LSU 31, Auburn 10. (My prediction: LSU 31, Auburn 30). I had LSU's point total correct. Thought we'd do a little better.
Week 9: Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20. (My prediction: Ole Miss 17, Auburn 13). Happily wrong.
Week 10: Auburn 63, Furman 31. (My prediction: Auburn 38, Furman 7). I didn't expect our subs to do this well.
Week 11: Georgia 31, Auburn 24. (My prediction: Auburn 21, Georgia 15.) Fully expected us to get out from behind the eight ball regarding Georgia's recent dominance.

So, of the first 11 games of the season, I was 7-4 in my picks to go along with the 7-4 record. I was wrong on West Virginia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and UGA on the winner. My biggest miss was likely the Kentucky game, where I predicted 27-7 Auburn victory. My best effort was he Tennessee game, where I predicted a 27 – 21 Auburn victory (and was only off by two points).

What did I miss, other than the games?

I clearly missed the potential for potency in Auburn’s new offense. I also missed the potential for it to tank.

I also missed the potential for it to be even bigger season. Auburn could have been 9-2 right now, with victories over Kentucky and Georgia, games they blew.

So, with one game left in the season, I look at my prediction and realize that I predicted an Alabama victory of 20-13. This would make Auburn 7-5 on the year.

I hope I’m wrong.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ode to Maurice Sendak

I took my boys to see “Where the Wild Things Are” recently. It’s been out awhile, I know, but we’ve been busy. We caught the Saturday morning show over at Discover Mills Mall, when tickets prices are only $6 apiece for shows before noon. My wife thought it was a wonderful way to save money on ticket prices and it would have been, had I not promised the boys popcorn and drinks.

The kids enjoyed the show, though my younger son thought it a bit scary at times. (Granted, that could have been the caffeine and sugar in the Coke that kept him agitated.) My older son loved it. Admittedly, so did I, but not for any reason that had to do with the movie.

When my older son was still a toddler, my wife and I noticed he had trouble speaking. He had babbled like any child does at the appropriate ages and then his language abilities fell to the ground like a meteorite. We took him to doctors, therapists, specialists, etc. And we grew more and more frustrated.

One of the things we did though was to continue to try and read to him. We read simple books, books with great pictures, books to help kids pick up reading. We tried acting these books out to bring his words out.

No book was more popular with my older son than “Where the Wild Things Are.” We read the book every night. We bought a cassette tape of Maurice Sendak stories and listened to it in the car on the way to day care. And, as we went through the book, we followed the crescendos and decrescendos all the way up to my son’s favorite part of the book, where the little boy character, Max, is made king of the place where the wild things are and gives his first decree.

“Let the wild rumpus start.”

Max and the wild things all danced around and played. My son and I would do the same thing, at least until it was time for the wild things to be sent to bed without their supper as had happened to Max earlier in the story.

From there, we would finish the book. We might read something else. Another one my son’s favorites was another Sendak book, “In the Night Kitchen.” And while my son enjoyed that story, his reaction was never close to what came out for the wild things.

And after our reading was done, my son and I would put the books away until the next night, when we got to open up them up and let the wild rumpus start all over again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Auburn - Georgia Postgame Review 2009

When the game started, I was drinking coffee. (Yes, I can drink coffee in the evening and not be bothered by it.) However, after the initial euphoria wore off, I knew I would have to break out the beer.

Ironically, after the first half, I should have felt good.

1) We were leading.
2) We’d only had four penalties called on us in the first half. That’s got to be a record. We’ve had more penalties that that in drives this season.
3) We had a 3-2 ratio in time of possession. Our defense must be rested and ready to go out like out gangbusters in the second half.

Yes, it seemed like we were seeing difficulties.
1) We couldn’t establish a running game
2) Georgia was establishing a pass rush.
3) Georgia started moving the ball.

And in the back of my mind I kept thinking, Auburn was ahead of Kentucky 14-7 and we blew that.

I wonder if that’s what it means to be an Auburn fan sometimes. It seems like we always play games close, where our guts get roiled every game. And then I thought…enough with the introspection. Get back to football.

We opened the third quarter and we looked like crap. Georgia moved the ball on us with relative ease, taking the lead. Finally, Auburn showed some moxie and tied it up. From there we moved into the 4th quarter and Auburn blew it again on a drive where they had Georgia 3rd and long. One time, the ball was tipped and the Georgia player still caught it. And then Neiko Thorpe just got flat out beat.

I gained some happiness from the 99-yard KO return, though I did think Washington let go of the ball too early. I was still troubled as I hadn’t seen Auburn really hold Georgia in the second half. I found myself praying that Auburn wouldn’t blow another 3rd and long. They did, but then Todd threw an interception to kill what had been a good drive. Georgia went on to score and that was it.

So, as I watch Auburn lose to Georgia for the 4th straight time, the question that really troubles me is that Auburn hasn’t beaten Georgia since I moved to Georgia. Do I need to move back to Oregon so Auburn can win again?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Weekend In Atlanta

For those of you on the east side that have always wanted to see a hockey game, but don't relish driving downtown to Blueland, the Gwinnett Gladiators are at home this Friday and Saturday. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Auburn - Georgia Preview (Musings) 2009

I hate the Georgia bulldogs.

Actually, that’s not true. I have nothing personal against them. Florida fans hate Georgia and vice-versa. And they can share that each year.

However, for one week of the year, I don’t like Georgia very much either.

And that’s odd, because I’ve always considered Georgia like the cousin you see twice a year at the family BBQ and Thanksgiving. I have a cousin my age. He attended a rival high school. When my school played his, I rooted for my school. But I held nothing against him personally before, during, or after the game. My cousin also had a shot at a basketball scholarship. Scouts came to watch him play. I wished him well, even if my school was the other team on the floor.

And so I feel when that way when Auburn plays Georgia.

Years ago, Auburn played its biggest games at neutral fields as the city of Auburn wasn’t big enough to host them. When Auburn began bringing its opponents to Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech all fought the change. Only Georgia respected Auburn’s right to play its home games where it wanted to. I always liked that story, though an older friend of mine once told me that, had I seen the field where Auburn and Georgia used to play (in Columbus, I think he said), then I’d understand why Georgia didn’t argue. In the end, it didn’t matter.

For me, one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship involved a game against Georgia. The Auburn CB was laid out on the Georgia sideline. The Auburn defense knelt around him and said a prayer while the trainers worked on the player. The Georgia players came off the sidelines and knelt around the Auburn defense. On the first play from scrimmage after the injury, the Georgia QB threw a TD strike at the guy’s replacement. Still, it was a prayerful moment.

And, as I look at this weekend’s game, I think about the fact that we have lost three straight. In one of those three, we were heavily favored (2006). In another one, we were the underdog and just blew it (2008). It’s time to redress the balance and have the “W” on our side of the ledger again.

So, as I said, I hate Georgia.

But only for this week.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Step Away from Independence

As much as I love both of my kids, I sometimes find myself wanting to spend time with just one or the other. It varies back-and-forth. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it does seem to be a fact of life.

And so, when my older son went camping with his Boy Scout troop this past weekend, I found myself looking forward to some one-on-one time with my 7-year old. My wife made it easier, heading out for shopping with the girls on Saturday, leaving me to take my little second grader to his school’s fall festival. I’ve been to this festival every year since we’ve been in Georgia. It’s a good time for all. My son jumped on jumpies, came home with brownies from a cakewalk, and bought a poster at the book fair. (My wife is still getting on me about allowing this one. “He’s supposed to buy BOOKS, not POSTERS. I couldn’t help it. There were posters for sale and he really wanted one. He vacillated for several minutes between a poster for the Falcons and one for my alma mater, Auburn. He finally decided on the Auburn one. I’m sure that’s why my wife thinks I let him buy it.)

One incident from that afternoon stands out. My 7-year old is an independent type, or at least he claims to be. He often runs off, convinced the world is his playground, and every day is a day to play. My wife and I have often gotten upset with him when he runs around in public places. We’ve tried to explain how dangerous this is. He says he gets it, but runs away again. When he was younger, my wife and I thought we might be driven to get one of those kid leashes. We chose not to do so.

This day, however, the little guy boy proved he’s not as independent as he likes to pretend. I was at a row of booths checking out the goods being promoted at one of them. My son ran toward the end of the booths to see some others items. I was watching him, so I knew exactly where he was. However, he thought I was behind him. When he turned and didn’t see me, he went a little nuts. When we reunited, he was upset. “Daddy, you left me. I thought you were behind me.” Telling him I was watching him the entire time didn’t make him feel any better.

That night, after my wife returned, our son regaled her with the story of how Daddy left him at the fall festival. We joked, saying “Don’t you like being by yourself?”

The truth is…no. As independent as he is, he needs to know someone is close by. When I put him to bed that night, he asked if I would sleep on the floor for a few minutes till he went to sleep.

“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.

So, he still needs me. And I’ll enjoy that feeling as long as I can.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Auburn - Furman Wrap-Up

It was an interesting day today.

With my son camping with his Boy Scout troop and my wife out shopping with the girls this weekend, I took my 7-year old to his school’s fall festival. He played on jumpys (jumpies?). He also ate Chick-Fil-A for lunch (his favorite), won brownies in a cake walk, and built a colored sand sculpture.

From there, we headed to our favorite BBQ place and picked up two pounds worth. We got cole slaw, but forgot the baked beans. From there, we headed to Kroger to pick up some buns. My wife wanted BBQ sandwiches for dinner. We now had everything.

What does this have to do with anything. Easy. It was homecoming at Auburn and I thought I could relax.

Also, I listened to the radio when I could. It was homecoming at the University of Georgia, too. They were handling Tennessee Tech with ease. By the half it was 31-0 and UGA looked as if it was coasting. It was a needed win and “rest” after last week’s beat down at the hands of Florida. By the time I got home, UGA was still coasting. (They went on to win 38-0.)

Why focus on Georgia with the start of this post? Easy. It was homecoming at Auburn They were focused on Georgia, too.

When I got home from the early afternoon out with my son, I turned on my computer. It was halftime in the Auburn game as I pulled that game up on espn360. com. The score read 42-3 and I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not that I’d been worried, but Auburn did take extra time in putting away Tennessee-Martin last year. I knew that Caudle would see a good half of football (and he needs it). Final score was Auburn: 63, Furman: 31. A decent score. If the first half score had been doubled, it would have looked like Auburn was running up the score. And as the subs played out the second half (and as I hoped those two 3rd quarter fumbles were anomalies), I turned my focus to next week.

When I set my predictions for this year, I predicted we’d end the season 7-5. Given that injuries could devastate even those chances, some people told me I was nuts. At this time, we’re 7-3.

And I hope my early season prediction doesn’t come true.

War Eagle!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Weekend (actually next weekend) in Atlanta

On Facebook this weekend, I posted a comment about taking out the Christmas decorations now that Halloween is over. My wife reminded me that I'm not the one who pulls out the decorations, she does. However, she'd never let me put up anything until after Thanksgiving anyway.

So, with that in mind, what better than a reminder that next weekend (Saturday, the 14th), Stone Mountain Christmas opens up for the Christmas season. For more information, please click here to be taken to the website.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Auburn vs. Furman Preview

As we enter the season of thanks, I’d like to pause for a second and say I’m thankful that Zac Etheridge is out of the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Though he is out for the season and will be in a harness for the next four months, he talks optimistically about playing next season. As much as Auburn could use his leadership next season, I hope he calls it for a career. What happens off the field is much more important than what happens on it. Thanks also to Ole Miss RB Rodney Scott who was under Etheridge and didn’t move until Etheridge was take care of. He, as much as the doctors, is responsible for Etheridge not being in the hospital right now.

On to this week’s opponent…the Furman Paladins. Though Paladins are not specifically knights, they are often identified as knights. A roommate of mine in grad school graduated from Furman. He use to refer to the school as the Purple Paladins. If my old roommate still follows Furman football, he’s probably scratching his head as to what his team is going to do this weekend.

When you looked at Auburn’s schedule at the start of the year, among the feelings you got in your gut was knowing automatically who the Homecoming opponent was. Furman knew it, too, going back to when the contract was inked. Let’s face it. Auburn pays well. (After the incident in 2004, when their only decent non-conference opponent was stolen by Oklahoma, they upped the ante.)

But what do you say about Furman? What do you say about a team that Auburn faced once in the 40s and twice in the 50s, compiling a 3-0 record while allowing six points and blanking Furman twice. We probably shouldn’t be facing them now?

Do you say…Thanks for coming. Here’s your check.

Do you say…Thank you for allowing us to rest our starters before our final two games of the season.

Do you say…all the right things pre-game, though you know you’re scheming for Georgia.

What you should say is let’s play the game.

A lot will be made this week by Alabama fans about Auburn having scheduled Furman, now 4-4 after dropping its last game to App State. Auburn fans will point out that Furman pummeled Chattanooga by a score of 38-20 and that Alabama plays Chattanooga the week before they play Auburn. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to play a game.

It doesn’t mean that the team can’t relax that Furman is coming. Auburn has to remain vigilant. We have thin depth and we just lost a starter on defense. If we play sloppy, we will still win the game. However, sloppy play leads to injuries and we can’t afford that.

While the victory over Ole Miss showed the team’s resiliency, the injury to Etheridge showed us how fragile this group is. And when they got tired in the three weeks prior, they had nothing to sustain them.

This is the second straight year Jay Jacobs has scheduled 12 straight games with an off week before Alabama. It’s as asinine as not opening next year in the Chick-Fil-A kick-off with UCLA. I don’t know what Jay Jacobs is doing, but then neither does anyone else.

However, what I do know, is that I love my Auburn Tigers and will be supporting them all the way.

No matter how asinine anything gets.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Too Soon to Pass By

Last October, we told my older son that it was his last year of trick-or-treat. It wasn’t like he didn’t enjoy it, but he’d outgrown the costumes at Party City. My wife had concocted a Harry Potter ensemble that my older son loved and we made sure that we hit every house in the neighborhood. While walking the neighborhood, we talked about what Halloween 2009 would be like. My son mentioned he wanted to play escort and take his little brother around.

As this October drew closer, he often mentioned his role in taking care of his little brother. He wanted my wife and I to have a night to our own. As much as I appreciated his consideration, I knew I had to go. Unfortunately, the scariest people out on Halloween are sometimes not in costume. My older son debated with me vociferously, but as Dad I drew a line in the sand.

When this Halloween rolled around, my 12-year old made one last impassioned plea. I agreed to follow from a distance, but knew I would keep them in my sight. He could still escort his little brother. And, as it was raining, his little brother needed someone with an umbrella to keep the candy dry.

So, as my younger son, Bakugon (Japanese anime), went door-to-door, my older son had a quandary. The adults tried to give him candy, too. He initially refused it. (He didn’t have a bag.) But he finally gave in and began accepting the offerings, stuffing them into his pockets. When his pockets filled up, he gave them to me or dropped them in his little brother’s bag. When adults asked him what his costume was, he told them he was dressed as “Dad.”

After we got home, my wife suggested we might have made a mistake. There were many older kids, dressed in costume, who came to our house. My wife thought we’d aged our oldest out too early. Maybe next year, he could go door-to-door again.

My older son didn’t mind. He doesn’t like candy that much anyway. (And my younger son gets to ring the bell at every house.) However, for my older son, he tells me he got to be one of the things he wants to be when he grows up—he got to be Dad.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Auburn - Ole Miss Postgame Review

I reminisced today about my days about my days as a collegian.

It’s not that I do it every time I watch college football. It’s just that certain things remind me of certain games. For example, during the Florida – Georgia game, the trivia question asked what was Georgia’s only win against a #1 team. Apparently, it was Georgia’s 24-3 win over Florida in 1985. I remember that game. Auburn had played Florida the week before in Auburn. Auburn lost 14-10, but Florida pretty much left the Plains banged up. When they met Georgia the following week, Florida had nothing left in the tank. Still, Florida took it to Georgia physically, making Auburn’s 24-10 win in the Athens the following week not as close as the score indicated. Such is life in SEC football.

When Auburn announced they were trying to make the game against Ole Miss a “Navy Nightmare” on Halloween, I thought back to 1987. Florida visited the Plains that year. Auburn’s slogan for that game was “Nightmare in Jordan-Hare.” Auburn won that day 29-6.

So when Auburn made it 31-7 against Ole Miss today, the 1987 Florida game popped into my head. I thought we should have had it in the bag. However, jaded by both this season and last season, I knew we still needed to play it out. There was a long way to go.

And I was right. Ole Miss scored two quick TDs to make it 31-20, still in the 3rd quarter. I wondered if this was how Arkansas felt when we scored 20 quick points in the 3rd quarter to make it an 11-point game in Fayetteville. Arkansas responded by stopping Auburn the rest of the way and tacking on a couple of extra scores.

For Auburn today, we responded with a blocked PAT, running it back for a two-point conversion. It was our last score of the day, but possibly the biggest play of the game.

That conversion turned it from a 10-point game (it would have been a 10-point game if Ole Miss had made the PAT) to a 13-point game. Ole Miss went from needing a TD and field goal to essentially needing two TDs. Granted, they could have gotten a TD and two FGs, but that would mean three successful scoring drives. The reality basically negated what Ole miss could do when they got close. A FG was no longer acceptable. They had to go for the TD.

And that may have made the difference. Forced to adopt a higher-risk strategy, Ole Miss wouldn’t get any closer. If they could have only needed a FG to make it a one-score game, then they might have been able to do that and Auburn would have gotten nervous.

Granted, Auburn was nervous anyway. We’ve seen a lot over the last two seasons. Games in which Auburn couldn’t close it out.

Today, they closed the deal.

Today, they turned a corner.

Today they ended with a victory.

And took another step toward making 2008 a bad memory and helping the future look bright.

It may have been a “Navy Nightmare in Jordan-Hare” for Ole Miss, but Auburn’s three-week nightmare was over.

War Eagle and prayers for Zac Etheridge!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

I'm about a day late on this one, as the event started yesterday. But with shows running through Sunday, I figure there's still time.

The 101 Dalmatians Musical is playing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The show will run twice a day through Sunday, with the exception of Friday. (One show only on Friday.) Tickets are $15 - $65, depending on seating and show time.

Click here for more information on this and other Cobb Energy Centre events.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Auburn vs. Ole Miss Preview: Fifty years in the Making?

Two weeks ago, Auburn did something they hadn’t done in over 40 years. We lost to Kentucky.

This week, we may do something we haven’t done in over 50 years, lose back-to-back games to Ole Miss.

The last time Auburn lost to Ole Miss twice in a row was during the Truman Administration. We dropped three straight contests in 1949, 1951, and 1952. (Yes, no game in 1950.) Those games were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times we had played Ole Miss. At that time, Auburn had a 1-4 record against Ole Miss. Since 1952, Auburn has gone 23-5.


However, forgetting that we lost 17-7 last year to Ole Miss and have lost the last three games this season, I have to try and put it out of mind.

Honestly, though, I don’t know what to think this week. Will Auburn show up to play? Or will it look like they’re going through the motions? They started the first drive against LSU well, but flag-happy refs killed the momentum. What should they do this time around?

I think Auburn should pass.

In the first two games, Auburn ran a lot and established the ground game. By game three, though, they had to start passing the ball in order to open up the run. Consequently, opposing teams are looking for the run.

Let’s give them the pass.

I know we don’t have great receivers, but we do have some good ones. We need to start using more of them. Short passes on 1st down. Pick up 5+ yards. It opens us up on second down, where we can go for runs or short passes to pick up longer yardage. This will back up the safeties and not allow the teams to focus on stopping the run. This, in turn, will open up lanes for Ben Tate.

I know the general perception is that Auburn will make it four in a row this week. Ole Miss looked good in its win over Arkansas last week. They started out with an early lead and never looked back. Auburn needs to do the same. Short passes. Small victories. And get that score. The team took two days off to rest after the LSU game to recharge their batteries. (Speaking of rest, Auburn needs to reconsider its policy of playing 12 games straight. The players needed a break.

Auburn’s back is against the wall, but with these small victories up front, I think Auburn can stand a chance at regaining some of its momentum back.

Last year’s game vs. Ole Miss was on November 1st, after a woeful October. Let’s try to end this month the same way we started…with an SEC victory.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Desire of a Champion

This week, my older son’s baseball team will play in the championship game for the 11- 12 age group in the Mill Creek area. My son is looking forward to it. He’s never been in a Championship game before.

My son has been playing sports for a few years. Unfortunately, he inherited his Dad’s athletic ability. (I think I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating in his defense.) He tries hard and occasionally does good things. In the semifinal game, he made a great play in the outfield that helped save a run. He also got an RBI. Granted, that was from being hit by a pitch when the bases were loaded. Still, like any dad, I was proud.

One of the things my son is thinking about, if his team wins, is the trophy. Both my sons have received a lot of trophies already. They’ve played on various teams, had fun, and made good friends. After the season ended, the boys got trophies at whatever shindig/get-together the team organized.

Up until recently, the favorite trophy for both of them was the one each received for finishing second in the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. They designed and built cars themselves. My older son made his car look like Bumblebee from the Transformer movie. My younger son made his look like the Mach 5 from the Speed Racer movie. They sanded, painted, and then I added weight to take the car up to the legal race limit. Why was the Pinewood Derby trophy their favorite? It’s because it represented winning. As much as each likes the trophies he has received for playing, it’s the winning that they remember.

Like I said, up until recently.

In the spring, my younger son’s team won the championship of their league. He now has a trophy he treasures above all the others, one of being a champion. Yesterday, after my son’s team won their semifinal match-up, I found out how envious my older son was of his brother’s success. “Dad, I hope we win the game. I want a championship trophy, just like my little brother has.”

As I told my wife, championships games don’t come around too often for players, whether little or big. I remember my feelings as a kid of winning and losing baseball and football championships. (I also remember never playing on a championship basketball team, though I did play on a couple of runner-up ones.) It was a special time. Winning isn’t everything, but sometimes it does carry extra weight. My kids have reminded me that, though they have fun, winning and the opportunity to be on a team and play for it all means a lot to them.

And they (my boys, that is) mean a lot to me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Auburn vs. LSU Post Mortem

I sometimes call my post game reviews a post mortem. Tonight definitely applies. Somewhere tonight, rigor mortis set in.

It’s only the third quarter as I write this, but as it’s 24-0. I’m having trouble breathing. We’ve finally gotten to a play where we have 1st and goal. And the thing that goes through my mind is how difficult it is for spreads to score on a short field. Granted, the way Auburn’s been playing, Auburn’s been having difficulty scoring period. The three and out inside the 10-yard line proved it. Oh well, we did need the field goal.

The game started out bad. Tennessee was unsuccessful in their upset bid at Tuscaloosa.

Then it got worse.

LSU defensive player enters the neutral zone on an Auburn 4th and 1 and causes the Auburn player to flinch. Auburn offsides.

Auburn defensive player enters the neutral zone and causes an LSU player to flinch. Auburn offsides.

Auburn called for several personal fouls. Auburn called for delay of game WHILE ON DEFENSE. It’s gotten so bad, the announcers see a flag and they automatically assume the call will go against Auburn.

The fact that we were down only 17-0 at the half was the amazing thing.

Still, I’m at a loss and am trying to figure out the progression on what’s happening to our football team. The logic is this.

=> Defenses are playing a base defense against us, which takes away the big play.
=> This forces our offense into more three-and-out situations.
=> This keeps our defense on the field longer (even more than would be normal for a spread-style offense).
=> Our lack of defensive depth means our players get winded even more. Consequently, they have trouble stopping teams as the game wears on.
=> So we look like we’re totally outclassed.
This means we know how Alabama felt back in 2007.

However, we also went through this last year and I didn’t want to go through it again.

I’m trying to look for something positive out of this game…out of this streak, but we’re getting beat on all sides of the football. For any of you reading this, I hope you have some suggestions. I’m, like tonight’s game, at a loss.

However, we’re still Auburn. That may not mean much on the football field at the moment. However, it does carry a lot for the experience we had while we were there.

War Eagle anyway! Always and forever!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Auburn vs. LSU Preview

A lot of news stories have made a big deal that this weekend is Auburn’s first game this season against a ranked opponent.

That’s technically true.

However, what the story fails to mention is that one of Auburn’s earlier opponents this year, a team that wasn’t ranked when Auburn played them, is ranked now. West Virginia, with a record of 5-1, is ranked in the Top 25 in all three polls. They are probably kicking themselves about losing to Auburn.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Absolutely nothing.

The point is, we can’t change the past. In my preseason predictions, I had Auburn 5-2 at this point, with losses to Arkansas and WVU. While I thought we had an outside shot of beating WVU, I never imagined losing to Kentucky. However, a senior-filled offensive line can make up for a lot of mistakes elsewhere. Auburn has experience on the O-line as well, but they’ve spent a lot of time recently jumping offsides. Still, we can’t look to the past. We can only go forward.

And that means going to Baton Rouge, a place where Auburn has won only five games. The last time was the infamous Cigar Game, when Auburn won 41-7. The last two games Auburn played there were nailbiters, in which Auburn came up on the short end. Oddly, saying Auburn’s won only five times in Baton Rouge isn’t saying much. LSU’s only won six times at Auburn.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Not much.

Despite it’s 5-2 record and two recent shanks in the fairway that is the college football season, Auburn is pretty high up on a number of charts. According to the Auburn website, Auburn is
=> 7th in the nation in rushing offense
=> 8th in total offense
=> 12th in scoring offense

So what does that have to do with anything?

Some, but it hasn’t meant much lately.

The SEC Referee Crew that blew both UGA-LSU game and Florida – Arkansas game has been suspended, at least for this weekend.

So what does that have to do with anything?

A lot, as it means they can’t botch our game.

This weekend, Auburn has a chance to erase the memories of the last two weekends in a place where they are long overdue for a victory and the coach is living on borrowed luck.
So what does that have to do with anything?

Everything!

In one of the original Star Trek episodes, the villain exchanges bodies with Captain Kirk through a mind transference device. I’m convinced something similar happened in Knoxville between Chris Todd and Jonathon Crompton sometime during the Tennessee game. In the Star Trek episode, the only way to make the transference complete was to kill one of two parties. Else, they would switch back to the way they were.

Auburn ain’t dead yet.

This weekend, the switch happens and I hope we prove it.

War Eagle!

This Weekend In Atlanta

This weekend begins Boo at the Zoo at Zoo Atlanta. The event takes place this Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th, and then next Saturday, the 31st. Activities run from 10:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m. on all three days. Events include costume contests, treats booths and the Monster Mash Disco as well special birthdays for various animals at the zoo.

Also, both this Saturday and next Saturday, the Zoo features Boo at the Zoo Nightcrawlers, which includes evening activities from 6:00 p.m. - 10:30 a.m. the following day. Event include pumpkin painting, trick-or-treating, and story telling for children ages 6 and up.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unavoidably Delayed

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my post on the Auburn-LSU will be posted late. In the meantime, Charles Goldberg has written a wonderful article about how Auburn is refusing to get down on itself. Please click here to go to the article.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the the only game each season that requires, at least for me, more than one beer to get through.

War Eagle!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Money Money Money Mo-NEY...MO-ney

With apologies to the O'Jays...

Last week, I went out with my boys for a pre-Halloween walk through the neighborhood. Or at least it felt like it, given that I had the boys get dressed up and walk door-to-door.

My boys were involved in their annual Cub Scout/Boy Scout popcorn fundraiser. Many people are unaware that the male version of the scouting world sells popcorn to raise money for their activities. I figure it’s because of the late start to the American psyche. When I was a scout as a child, the boy scouts didn't sell popcorn. (We tried yard sales among other things.) However, given the iconoclastic nature of the annual spring activities of the green-clad cookie cartel, I figure the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided, some time in my adult life, that they should try something like this, too. The BSA at least sells its popcorn in the fall, partly out of courtesy and probably knowing they’d get waxed in the spring.

The weather was misty with occasional sprinkles when we headed out. But, given that there were other activities on other nights, it was the only night they would have all week to do this. Still, they trudged on happily, arguing about who would get to ring the next door and present the pitch. Our neighbors were receptive and wonderful, with a number of them purchasing popcorn. As we have two boys and they’re selling together, we split the sales in half so that each boy reports roughly the same amount to his pack or troop.

Admittedly, though, I was a little apprehensive when the annual popcorn sale was announced. It came at the end of a whole list of fall fundraisers. We had stuff for fall baseball, Christmas items for the band, magazines for the schools, and the list goes on. All good causes. All worthy of support. Sometimes, my wife and I just ask the fundraising organizers a question, “How much do you get per item and how many are you asking each boy to sell?” This works really well with the coupon books, where the boys might be asked to sell only three and the group gets $5 of the $15 purchase. For my wife and I, it’s easier to write a check and just move on to the next one.

There are lots of kids in our neighborhood and they do come to our door, too. Hopefully, we participate as much as we ask our neighbors to do. However, many of the kids are also scouts and a number of them also play fall and spring sports. Those kids are selling the same things our kids are. (Oddly, there seem to be no girl scouts close by. Thankfully, the girl scouts set up stands at grocery stores. My wife can satisfy my craving for shortbread cookies when she goes shopping.)

I am happy that my boys get excited about these sales endeavors. As I mentioned before, I didn't sell popcorn. However, to raise money for various school groups. I sold doughnuts, pizza, magazines, and Christmas ornaments. The doughnuts were always my favorite. A dozen cost only $2 back then. The school group got $1 from the sale of each box. The Krispy Kreme truck would arrive early in the morning and you could smell the sugar all over the school. Of course, my parents always bought a box for our house. If my parents were lucky, I made it home with half a dozen at the end of the day.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a note posted on the fridge. It detailed an upcoming bake sale at my older son’s school, listing the prices of cakes, pies, etc.

“Honey, the school’s having a bake sale?” I asked my wife. “What are they raising funds for?”

“It’s just his math homework project. He has to plan a fundraiser and figure out the best way to raise $150.”

I was glad of that. I wasn’t ready for a bake sale. However, I was gratified to know the school was teaching my older son practical skills…for the day he becomes a parent.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Auburn - Kentucky Postgame (Post-mortem)

I HAVE TO SAY I’M WORRIED ABOUT THE REST OF THE SEASON.

It’s the 4th quarter as I write this and it appears we’ve brought back Tommy Tuberville-style football. Instead of winning the games we should win easily, we play to the level of our opponent and go into the 4th quarter fighting for our life. (I knew when I was in Wal-Mart today, I should have bought beer. No, I thought, it’ll be fine.)

But let’s face it.

Offensively, the first half of the Kentucky game, we gained about as much as we did against Arkansas. The only difference is that the defense allowed only 7 points.

With the third quarter, we started running the football better, but we were losing the battle of field position in a major way.

And now in the 4th quarter, we’ve allowed Kentucky to take the lead.

So, I have to ask myself., what the heck is going on? We have started every game sluggish, but we’ve been out of sorts the last two games. I think part of it has to do with the play calling at the outset. We switch up so much in the first few minutes, I don’t think Chris Todd has any chance to settle down and get into a rhythm.

That may be the reason why Auburn outgained Kentucky by only 20 yards through three quarters. If you count the penalty yards Auburn has coughed up, then Kentucky has outgained Auburn. By the 4th quarter, Kentucky had blown us out the water yardage wise.

So, with three minutes left, we have to make up 80 yards…and that’s to tie. All I can think of is that I’ve got early church tomorrow, but that I need to start praying now.

And on 4th and 11, my prayers have now not been answered.

So what do I think?

1) The referees really screwed us. They’re making up stuff it seems like. We’re 3rd and 1 and then we’re 3rd and 11. We’re trying to score earlier in the game and we get three straight 5-yard penalties.
2) Chris Todd is hurt. The way he’s playing, he must have re-injured his shoulder and no one’s saying anything.
3) Are we running out of gas?
4) Are the players getting down on themselves from last week?

We don’t have the luxury of #4. However, next week we have a rested LSU team. Auburn better find its mojo fast, or it could be brutal.

Congrats to Kentucky.

War Eagle anyway!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

My sons and I attended two Gwinnett Braves games this year and we had a blast. (My wife took the opportunity to sleep. Hopefully, she’ll come next year.)

Now that the season is over, Gwinnett Braves stadium has been converted into the Stadium of Screams for the rest of the month. Times are 7:00 – 12:00, Thursday through Saturday, with one final night on Sunday, November 1st. There are scary attractions for those who are ready for horror with less scary attractions (Friday/Saturday only) for younger children. The scarier attractions are priced slightly higher than infield box seats at a Gwinnett Braves game, while the less scary attractions can be had for about the same as a field box level ticket. Discounts can be obtained by purchasing on-line and parking is free.

Click here to be taken to the website for further information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Auburn vs. Kentucky Preview

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about baseball and the playoffs.

In the playoffs, they always ask the team that will be the visitor in the first two games in the series what they hope to accomplish in their first two games. Every time, the answer is the same. The players all say that they hope to go 1-1 and take home field advantage in the series. If the team loses the first game and wins the second, they’re happy or at least satisfied. However, if they win the first and lose the second, then they’re upset because they had a chance to win both games and blew it.

Had Auburn players been asked at the start of the season if they would be satisfied with 5-1 at the midpoint of the season, they would have been happy. Now, it seems like a letdown. But letdowns happen. Auburn beat Tennessee. Tennessee beats Georgia. Georgia beats Arkansas. Arkansas beats Auburn. The SEC’s version of the circle of life continues. And now that the impossibility of a perfect season this year has been eliminated, we can move on and get back to one game at a time.

So, it is focusing on one game at a time that we go home to face Kentucky. Kentucky hasn’t exactly been burning it up this year. Right now, the team’s only claim to fame is giving Tebow a concussion. He seems to have come back from it. Unfortunately, for Kentucky, their QB is now out. If this were last two years, it would worry me. For some reason, Auburn seemed to have problems with QBs they hadn’t prepped for.

With Kentucky hurt and Auburn hungry again, I think we’ll squeak by. Auburn will be favored in this game. It will be at home. It will be at night. Auburn will be licking its wounds with hopes of quick redemption (and bowl eligibility).

Auburn’s record against Kentucky is 24-5-1. We first played the Wildcats in a home-and-home season in ’34 and ’35. We split those, with Kentucky taking the first one (at Kentucky) and Auburn winning the home bill. The next meeting was in ’54, the first of 18 straight. We last lost to Kentucky in ’66 in Lexington. Auburn’s only loss to Kentucky at Auburn came in ’61 in a 14-12 heartbreaker. (The one tie game was at Auburn.)

Again, we need to move on from last week. Auburn was due for a down game. I hope this was it. I was still proud of the team. Last year’s squad wouldn’t have rattled off 20 points in the 3rd quarter and made a go of it. This team has come back a lot of adversity. They’ve trailed in every game but one, and come back in all but one. They’ve been down. They’ve been written off. And most likely they’ll be written off again. (Particularly as the Iron Bowl will be in the afternoon.) For this weekend, they will leave with a victory, a 6-1 record, and hopes of continued improvement down the road.

And speaking of the road, they have LSU next weekend. LSU has a bye this weekend and will have had two weeks for the Florida game to fester by the time Auburn travels to Baton Rouge. LSU will be pumped and ready to take out their frustration on our beloved Tigers.

Coming next week, why LSU is always fun.

War Eagle!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Taste of Things to Come

We recently entertained friends from Japan. Among the gifts they brought us was some very high-quality eel. For those of you who haven’t had eel, it doesn’t taste like chicken. However, it is delicious and, for me, one of the wonderful things I picked up during my four years in Japan. (A good friend of mine refers to wife as the best thing that happened to me in Japan. Agreed, but that’s another story.)

Now, because my boys have a Japanese mother, they have acquired tastes for a number of Japanese foods, including all the basic noodles and fried items (though the latter may also be partly due to their southern heritage). They also like some Japanese sweets. My older son is particularly fond of shrimp chips and will do anything for spicy rice crackers. He’d take them as snacks to school, if we’d let him. However, given how cruel kids can be to other kids who are different, we don’t let him take these snacks to school. My wife often finds the cracker bag empty and yells out, “Who ate all of these?” It’s one of the few times she’s not looking at me for an answer.

On the more grown-up Japanese items, my kids aren’t there yet. Eel is something of a grown-up taste, at least in my opinion. Sushi is the same. And as both are expensive items, my wife and I were content when our sons hadn’t acquired a taste for these items.

Then, there was our trip to Japan in the summer of 2008. While there, we visited the northern island of Hokkaido and went to Otaru, a wonderful little city on the sea of Japan. (Click here for my post on Otaru.) One of the things my wife wanted was good (re: expensive) sushi. We found a good restaurant and my wife eyed the menu greedily, ordering various items. Then my younger son asked to try it.

What a wonderful time for my younger son to instantly acquire a taste for sushi. Now back in the U.S., he often asks to go out for it. We indulge him when we can.

So, with the eel in front of me, I look at younger son and say, “Do you want to try some?”

My wife looks at me, horrified. “I don’t want him to acquire a taste for eel yet. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll waste it.” Still, I break off a little piece and offer it to him. His upturned nose tells me the answer.

Despite his distaste, he chews the tiny piece down anyway. My wife then notes, “you forgot to add the sauce.” I add it to my eel and give him another little taste. Same reaction.

“That was eel?” he asks. “It tastes like fish, not chicken.”

No kidding.

I do hope my son will someday love eel as much as I do. However, on those days where friends and family bring us eel as a gift, I’m happy not to have to share it yet.

And I will not serve Kobe beef at the house, at least until after the kids go away to college.

Note to Readers: My wife thinks I should put the this weekend in Atlanta recommendations on Thursday instead of Friday. Will try the switch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Auburn vs. Arkansas Postgame Wrap-Up

I’m posting early today. The best thing I can say about today so far is that I haven’t had any alcohol yet. That may change. Trying to talk my wife into opening the bottle of wine we have chilling in the fridge. So far, she’s not convinced. Also, we’re out of beer.

I had a bad feeling when I decided to wear the shirt I hadn’t worn all season. I knew I shouldn’t the minute I put it on, but I thought that was crazy.

Granted, I also had a bad feeling when former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said in public that Auburn would beat Arkansas by three TDs, handing Arkansas serious bulletin board material. (Doesn’t that buy-out include a gag order of some kind concerning talking in public about Auburn.)

Then, on the first two drives, I watched Auburn sputter on a 3-and-out (as I asked myself what was Kodi doing in there on second down). Arkansas countered by driving the ball down the field, including converting twice on third-and-long. What bothered me most was that we couldn’t get any pressure on Mallet in that first drive. After that, I knew the game had the potential to be long.

And so Auburn drops it’s first game of the season. Sportswriter Ray Melick will crow on Sunday about how he saw it coming. My response to Ray…if you say before every game that Auburn’s going to lose, you will eventually be correct.

The stats tell all.
1) We had the ball less than 20 minutes and ran only 67 plays. Last week we had the ball more than half the game and ran over 80 plays.
2) We gained less than 400 yards total, which is jack squat considering that we were playing the worst defense in the SEC (supposedly).
3) We can’t convert on 4th and inches because our QB isn’t used to having the ball snapped to him.
4) We take our opening drive of the 3rd quarter and fumble on the other team’s 3-yard line, providing valuable momentum and deflating ourselves in the process.

Do we have anything positive to take back with us? I take some heart in that we tried to make it respectable. (Pollsters don’t watch games anyway, so they’ll only look at the final score. Still it was pretty bad.)

I take some heart that we’ll likely have night games, at least until Georgia. And since that game will technically start in the afternoon (whereas this one started at 11:00 a.m.), we might be awake for it. Day games can both be great and suck for the same reason. You’re stuck watching the highlights all day. Given that Auburn is a Top 25 team as of this week, this is guaranteed. Given how badly Auburn has sucked recently when they had to get up early, this also seemed guaranteed.

A friend of mine who happens to be a UT grad is celebrating her team’s victory over Georgia. Georgia beat Arkansas. Arkansas beat us. We beat Tennessee. This means the circle of SEC life continues.

Auburn will return home to fight next week against Kentucky. I think the boys will return and play well. (Like I mentioned earlier, the game is at night.)

I also believe that this team is exactly that…a team. They play hard. They win and lose together. There’s no sniping. No backbiting. Just team.

And a class team it is.

War Eagle anyway!

Friday, October 9, 2009

This Weekend In Atlanta

Tomorrow, from 10:00 - 4:00 at Mercer University's Atlanta Campus, is the sixth annual Atlanta Parent Family Block Party. It's an opportunity get out and play all day with more than 50 kid-friendly activities, entertainment, storytelling, informational booths and more! It's a way to spend a beautiful fall day with family (and then spend the evening watching college football
:-) ).

A Georgia Tech Fan in Auburn Country

New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith has released her latest book, Ladies of the Lake. Haywood is best known for such contemporary books as The Red Hat Club and Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch. However, the author has also written a number of award-winning historicals.
When asked about the effect college football has had on her life, Haywood responded:

When I was a girl in Atlanta during the fifties, my family of seven rooted for GA Tech, and the family of seven across the street were rabid Auburn fans. Whenever the teams played, the loser had to take the winners to dinner at the Varsity (a big splurge back then.) I still remember watching the games together. It got really tense sometimes (one WAR EAGLE too many), but we always enjoyed the rivalry.

A blurb on her latest book is below. For more information on Haywood and her books, click here.

LADIES OF THE LAKE recounts the adventures of four middle-aged sisters who must spend the entire summer with just each other, completely out of the contexts by which women define ourselves, at the beloved lake of their childhood summers in order to inherit and sell the valuable acreage. Before long, old alliances—and old rivalries—surface. But the sisters get far more than they bargained for, including love in a most unexpected package for one, and two mummified dead bodies—one in a WWI doughboy’s uniform—walled up in the root cellar in great-granddaddy’s masterpiece hand-carved chairs!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Auburn vs. Arkansas Preview

Auburn vs. Arkansas Preview

Does anyone remember what happened last year in the week leading up to last year’s game vs. Arkansas?

If you said Tony Franklin was fired, you were right. I was wondering who might call the plays that weekend. Given that we were looking at the return of Nallsminger, I jokingly speculated that we should find out if Borges was still in town. It turned out to be the most embarrassing half of a season in Auburn history.

Auburn, surprisingly took an early lead and looked like that might win the game. However, Auburn shot itself in the foot so often in the second half, it gave the game away. I blame the poor coaching. However, I just wonder if the defense hadn’t worn itself out. They’d kept us in so many games, but they had nothing left to give.

What a difference a year makes.

This time, Auburn is a 5-0 team and nationally ranked as it faces a 2-2 Arkansas squad that has wins against Texas A&M and Missouri State and losses against Georgia and Alabama. The Georgia game, played at Arkansas, was a high scoring affair and could have gone either way.

And that’s what worries me.

Yes, I know, I’m always worried, but I have history on my side in this argument. Forget the years where Auburn hasn’t had a good team when it faced Arkansas. Most of the time we do fine.

It’s when we seem to be having good years that a game with Arkansas trips us up. In 2006, a 5-0 Auburn team faced Arkansas at home and lost 27-10, blowing our shot at an SEC title. The same happened in 2002 when we lost at home 38-17 and also the previous year 42-17 (though we had a late season slide that ruined us there as well, including that final game against LSU when Damon Duval got into it with the LSU band).

So, I’m justifiably nervous as we head into this weekend. We have a morning game this weekend, and mornings haven’t been kind to us of late. I’m hopeful that a change in coaching staff can get this team playing before its coffee kicks in. (Coach Taylor, I’m depending on you.)

Expect Ryan Mallet to light us up a few times on defense, but I hope Todd gives them even more.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When Benchmark Meets The Bench Player

Several times during the school year, my sons have a battery of tests that seem to last a week. The big one is the CRCTs and we sweat those out for a while. Other tests include COGAT, ITBS, and a lot of other acronyms I’ve either forgotten of mixed up.

This week, my older son has Benchmark tests. Benchmark tests to review what kids have learned so far this particular school year. It doesn’t have a big effect on your grade. However, like losing baseball games in April, it will still count you at the end of the season. For the benchmark, it’s as if the teachers are being judged to see how well they are doing.

Because school and tests take center stage among all kid activities, we sometimes find ourselves making decisions on our kids’ evenings. With benchmarks requiring nightly study in all subjects., we told my oldest that he would have to miss his Monday night at Boy Scouts. Scouts is a wonderful endeavor and my son enjoys it. It teaches kids such skills as how to work together as a team to accomplish goals. Still, Scouts is something of an individual endeavor. If my son isn’t ready for his tests, he can’t go to Scouts.

It’s the same way with sports. We’ve had scenarios where one of our kids has had a big test is the day after a practice. On that day (and days before), we’ve made them study hard. We check their comprehension before practice. If they know it, they can go. If they don’t, then they can’t.

Games are a different matter. If you keep a kid away from game, you bring up the possibility that the game could be a forfeit. Kids get sick. Nothing you can do, but there aren’t a lot of extra kids on each team. My older son’s team has one extra player. If two kids are missing, they only have eight kids. They can play with that many, but you’re trying to cover an outfield with two kids. Not easy.

So what should we do? School is still the most important thing. Commitment is also important. So, we pray we make the right decision. We pray that our son studies early and often.

And like the fans of the Boston Braves during the last 40s when Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain took the mound, we pray for rain.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Auburn - Tennessee Postgame

When Gene Chizik and Lane Kiffin shook hands on the field after the game, I doubt that they were thinking about all of the pre-game BS about when they last faced each other.
They were focused on the game at hand. I’m convinced the fans were the same way. No one but the media cared about the story the media was trying to manufacture.

So, focusing on the game at hand…

There were times tonight when I was nervous.
1) We’ve had to come behind in each game and then establish ourselves. Not that it’s a bad thing to lead from start to finish, but still I thought about it.
2) When Wes Byrum missed the field goal toward the end of the first half and Tennessee drove down the field to get a TD, I worried that we might have given them momentum. It just had too much in the “shades of last year” department.
3) As we seemed unable to stop them on 4th down and Crompton seemed to be hitting his receivers, I began to worry. When Auburn held UT to a field goal to make it a 7-point game in the 4th quarter, I finally thought we had it.

So where does this leave us.

Auburn will gain a little respect for beating UT on the road. However, the garbage TD at the end will hurt. In 2004, both UGA and Alabama scored garbage TDs at the end of the game, hurting Auburn as pollsters often only look at the final score and not the game itself. (Granted, I may be living in a fantasy world there. Last week, the pollsters had Penn State ahead of Iowa and Cal ahead of Oregon.)

Any respect will be short-lived. Next week, Auburn travels to Arkansas, a place where we’ve always had trouble. In my preseason predictions, I mentioned I thought Auburn would lose this game. Now, I’m not so sure. It could be a test of both will and nerve.

Auburn may finally crack the Top 25. Cal and Michigan should drop out. Maybe even Houston, though I expect they will stay in. For now, let’s just enjoy the game, the road victory, and the knowledge that all we can do is win the games on our schedule.

War Eagle!

Haven’t seen a time frame for next week’s game. Hope it might be earlier. These late night postings wear me out.