Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CD Review: "Raising Sand" - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

What? Robert Plant and Alison Krauss doing an album together? Could there be a more disparate pair of people to put together on an album? Well, T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Counting Crows, Spinal Tap, Bruce Cockburn, etc) has done it again. Plant's vocals have never been better. He provides his characteristic vocal stylings on some of the songs (Gone, Gone, Gone), but on others (Through the Morning, Through the Night) he provides a gentle harmony with the angelic voice of Krauss. I never thought I'd hear Plant singing with pedal steel guitar accompaniment, but somehow it works. All of the songs are covers, and I can't find a bad one on the disc. T-Bone himself plays guitar on ten of the thirteen tracks. It's a surprisingly good combination of an unmistakable 1970's classic rock voice with the silky smooth vocal stylings and fiddle virtuosity of a bonafide bluegrass superstar. Only T-Bone Burnett could manage to pull this off. If you buy this one, you won't be disappointed.

Note: I can't manage to type T-Bone without thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George tries to give himself the nickname "T-Bone."

Monday, November 26, 2007

High Profile Coaching Positions

There are some very interesting open head coaching jobs in NCAA division 1 football already this offseason. And we're not talking about mid-level programs. We're talking some really high profile jobs. In addition, there are a lot that are rumored to be on the verge of opening up. A list? Okay:

This is arguably the highest profile of all the open jobs, and inarguably its the one on the minds of the writers of this blog. Many names have been floated out there as possibilities, including Les Miles, Kirk Ferentz, Brian Kelly, Jim Grobe, Chris Peterson, Mike Trgovac, and Wayne Fontes (just checking to see if you're paying attention). It's a good thing Jim Harbaugh took himself out of the running, because I'm sure he was really going to get a chance. I expect the decision to come before the bowl game.

Bill Callahan was rightfully fired after his team gave up an average of 50 points a game in their last four. Bo Pelini is probably considered the frontrunner, since lots of Nebraska fans thought this job should have been his the last time this job was open. Frank Solich isn't looking so bad anymore, is he Husker fans?

Texas A&M
Wow, that was quick. According to this article, Houston Texans assistant coach and former Packer head man Mike Sherman is about to be named head coach at A&M. He used to be an assistant in College Station. The NFL rout doesn't seem to work too often (Callahan), but you never know (Pete Carroll).

The Oregeron didn't work out at Ole Miss, but I'm sure he'll be back on USC's staff before their bowl game. Ole Miss, while not exactly a plum position, is potentially a good job because Orgeron recruited a couple good classes there that his successor could benefit from. I would not be surprised to see a top assistant from another SEC school get this job.

UCLA (rumored)
Karl Dorrell is not a favorite of the fans, and the season ending victory over USC last year may have been his "stay of execution," but a pathetic home loss to Notre Dame earlier this year may have sealed his fate. Rumors here in Texas have UCLA looking at Mike Leach, but they're just rumors.

Syracuse (rumored by me)
Okay, I have no idea if Syracuse is firing their coach, but what the hell happened to Syracuse? They used to be consistently good, and that was recently.

Am I missing any? Of course, more will open up after these big ones get filled, but these are the high-profile jobs that I could think of. And I didn't even include the really old guys who might retire (Paterno and Bowden). The addition of those two jobs to this list would really make this an offseason to remember. Let the games begin...


Georgia Tech
Chan Gailey was fired today. See comment about NFL guys not working out.

Nah, just kidding. There is nothing high-profile about this job. Their coach was 6-45, and that was probably as good as could be expected. The next guy will be worse, or at best marginally better.

Colorado State
Sonny Lubick is negotiating a buyout. Unless you live in Colorado, this is not interesting. In fact, even if you live in Colorado, this is probably not interesting. However, he did lead CSU to some bowl games and had some solid teams (9 bowl games in 15 years at the helm).

Okay, it's now being reported that Houston Nutt is out at Arkansas (and so, presumably would be his brother, an assistant with the Hogs). Pick your headline: Hogs De-Nutted; Hogs Cut Nutts; Hogs To Be Nutt-Less In '08. It's widely reported that Casey Dick is a bit concerned about his status as the Hogs QB, as the Nutts were Dick's biggest supporters.

Southern Mississippi
I have no idea who their coach is, but apparently he was there for a very long time. Your new coach? Offensive coordinator blah-blah or Brett Favre's dad will probably step up, as no one else really cares about Southern Miss.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Big Ten Football and The Office

Taking a page from bloggers everwhere, I’m making a list. Hey Jenny Slater did the Simpsons characters as college football teams. Like Doug says in his blog post, "no good idea goes unstolen." I’m tackling characters from The Office as Big Ten football teams. This may be a gimmick whose time has come and gone, but I have not seen this done with The Office yet. Since my favorite conference is the Big Ten, my favorite show is The Office, and I’m new to blogging, here goes.

Big Ten Football and The Office

Ohio State – Michael Scott
Obviously the boss has to be the team at the top. Like Michael Scott, OSU is the boss right now, yet still does not get the respect from the national media. Michael is the head of an underperforming branch of Dunder Mifflin, and OSU is at the top of the underperforming Big Ten. Michael is always sure that he is right. The Buckeyes are always sure that they are better than everyone else. Michael obsession is that everyone likes him. OSU fans’ obsession is that everyone hates Michigan. And Michael is kind of a dick.

Michigan - Jim Halpert
Like Michigan in recent years, Jim is Michael’s “number two.” He’s likable, and he’s eminently more capable than Michael. He even interviewed to be the boss, but thought that selling his soul for “success” was much less important than his ultimate goal (Pam). Like Lloyd Carr, he’s loyal to a fault. Unlike Jim Tressel, he won’t skirt the rules or step on others to get ahead.

Illinois – Andy Bernard
Andy is the up and coming new guy, much like Ron Zook and the Illini. He’s even managed to get some “necking” time in with Angela, the office prude. Like Ron Zook, Andy would be a great recruiter because of his self-proclaimed skill for personality mirroring.

Penn State – Creed
He’s the elder statesman of the office. Like JoePa, no one’s really sure how old he is (“when I was a kid, I was in an iron lung.”). Creed has some of the best lines on the show, but he is utilized sporadically. Similarly, Penn State has appeared sporadically at the top of the Big Ten rankings. It’s hard to dislike PSU or Creed.

Wisconsin – Dwight Schrute
Like Wisconsin, Dwight is forever mired in the second tier. Dwight will always be the “assistant to the regional manager.” Wisco will always finish between second and fifth in the Big Ten. And Dwight lives on a farm. And I suspect he (and his weird cousin Mose) has had intimate relations with some of the farm animals. Wisconsin is an assembly line for good college running backs (Dayne, Calhoun, Davis, Hill), and Dwight is an assembly line of great quotes (“Always go for the eyes. The eyes are the groin of the head.” Or “This was my grandfather’s tuxedo. He was buried in it.”).

Michigan State – Kelly Kapoor
Like Spartan coach Dantonio, Kelly is always running her mouth about something. She reeeally wants to marry Ryan, and even briefly pretended to be pregnant. Spartan players reeeally wanted to be Wolverines, but most were not recruited by them. Like Kelly, they feel spurned and bitter. Very immature and petty.

Purdue – Pam Beesly
Both are kind of meek, but essential to the success of the show/conference. Like Purdue, Pam can’t seem to “finish” – she broke off her 5-year engagement. She is as decisive as Joe Tiller is competent.

Northwestern – Oscar Martinez
Oscar’s gay. So are Northwestern’s purple uniforms. He occasionally has some good lines, and NU occasionally has some good years.

Indiana – Jan Levinson
Jan has self-esteem issues, since she was fired from the corporate offices of Dunder Mifflin. Indiana has a self esteem problem as it relates to football. They are a basketball school that plays football. And Jan is a middle-manager with no one to middle-manage. But she did manage to buy herself a nice new set of cans, and Indiana did manage to get itself a pretty good coach (before he died).

Iowa – Ryan Howard
Before Ferentz got there, Iowa was mired in suckitude for the last years of the Hayden Fry regime. Ferentz took charge and quickly had the Hawkeyes back on top. Now they’re back on the downslide to the previous level of mediocrity. Before Ryan took over, Dunder Mifflin was also sucking wind, but his new ideas were a breath of fresh air – how about a website? But after the newness wore off, Dunder Mifflin was back to being a crappy paper company.

Minnesota – Toby Flenderson
Like Minnesota, Toby is just there most of the time. He’s never the center of any storyline, but is occasionally the voice of reason, as the HR guy is supposed to be. Minnesota in recent years has been pretty solid, if predictable.

And just for the hell of it, possible future member of the Big Ten:

Notre Dame – Angela Martin

Angela is the office prude. She’s unapologetically a self-righteous Christian and does her best to make sure that if anyone has fun, it’s on her terms. She’s the head of the party committee, and all party decisions go thru her (“I don’t like green. It’s whorish.”). Like most Domers, she is a total buzzkill.

So, there you have it. If you have any suggestions or additions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Ohio State Week

How anti-climactic. Both osu and Michigan come into their game off a loss. The last time that's happened? Anyone? I can't find it, but I would wager that it's been a long time. Anyway, the M defense was swiss cheese against the Badgers on Saturday. While it would be great if Henne and Hart can play against the buckeyes, they can't play defense. Let's reflect on the Wisco game before we get too far into osu talk:

  • Mario Manningham is a great wide receiver. However, he also seems to have become afflicted with a common ailment among talented players at his position. It's called I'm-Always-Open syndrome. He was acting like a whiny little bitch whenever Mallett would not get him the ball. Get over yourself Mario. It's a team game, and you're trying to intimidate a freshman QB? Enjoy being the next non-Braylon Michigan WR to flop in the NFL.

  • If Wisco's mediocre running attack can gash the Blue D for 232 yards rushing, I shudder to think what osu and Wells might do to us.

  • I did not agree with the second Crable personal foul call. The QB was leaning back when he pitched the ball, and he head level dropped right before the hit. I get the feeling that the referees were on the lookout for Crable from the start. Anyway, the penalties on that drive were a killer.

  • Mallett made some nice throws, but he definitely looks like a freshman out there. It really makes me appreciate what Henne did as a freshman. I don't recall him ever being that flustered as a frosh.

That's all I can muster for now. It's early in the week, but my confidence level is not high for the osu game. However, that could change if we hear that Henne and Hart are playing. Let's get Zieg in here this week.

Photo courtesy of BrakeMan.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Rant

Okay. Happy Friday and all. But what is it with media continually pushing unwanted content down our throats (and I'm not talking about American Idol)?

The content I'm talking about is women's sports.

You can't watch an NBA game without hearing about the floundering WNBA. How long is David Stern going to subsidize this boring league? Does he have a daughter coming of age who wants to be a professional basketball player?

Now I don't have kids, but let's be clear. I think being a student-athlete is great. I was one (for a while) and I think it's an excellent experience for college-aged men and women. I don't get the Nike ads for women that get all over this "empowerment" thing, but that's fine.

What I don't like is when media tries to ram unwanted content down our throats like it's good for us. Um, I'm sorry. Women's sports on TV or hidden under the guise of football news in the Detroit News e-mail links? NOT good for us. The whole point of the Internet and new media is that the consumer can CHOOSE the content he or she wants to see/read. Personally, I don't want to see women's sports. Unfortunately for those women trying to make a living as professional athletes, the vast majority of media viewers don't either.

Now I already know what many would say -- show the broadcast and print or e-mail the articles to a wider audience and give it time. People will start to watch and gain more appreciation for women's sports. Ya think? Take a look at WNBA ratings or attendance figures and get back to me on that one.

The media need to stop treating women's sports like a charity and quit trying to force us to like something we're not going to like. How is that good business??

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


After many months of talking about this, we are finally getting around to starting a blog. It's a work in progress, and there will be a few of us contributing. We're just a bunch of bored forty-something middle aged professionals with a need for a creative outlet. Hopefully, we'll have this thing up and running at full speed shortly.

EDITED - A couple guys aren't forty yet. Nit-pickers...