18 January 2009

On the Road Again... and Again... and Again

I like to take advantage of the fact that I have zero responsibilities in life.  It sure makes it easy to leave town!
In recent weeks I have been putting together my work travel schedule for 2009.  At the same time, I have brainstormed about what recreational trips I can fit in.  So far, this is what I have come up with...
If anyone wants to join me for any of my travels, let me know!

Trips already planned:
26 Feb-6 Mar -- St. George and Las Vegas
3-8 Apr -- Chicago
16-27 Apr -- New York and Boston
5-9 Jun -- Baltimore
23-28 Aug -- Milwaukee

Tentative trip ideas:
Sat 2 May - drive to Louisville, KY to attend the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
Memorial Day weekend - possible road trip to see an MLB game (currently considering Minneapolis or Cleveland)
July? - trip to Salt Lake
Labor Day weekend - road trip to Dallas, TX to see Oklahoma Play BYU in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium; trip also to include a stop in Kansas City for a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium
Fall - a trip to Salt Lake to attend a home Ute football game
Fall - road trip to Fort Worth, TX to see the Utes play TCU

Of course, I always try to incorporate a baseball game into my travels.  I plan to make some good progress this year on my goal to see a game in every Major League ballpark.  The following are currently on the schedule:
6 April - Chicago White Sox (US Cellular Field)
17 April - New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium)
19 April - Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)
25 April - New York Mets (Citi Field)
25, 26, or 27 Aug - Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park)
28 Aug - Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field)

Other possibilities this year:
St. Louis Cardinals (Busch Stadium)
Kansas City Royals (Kauffman Stadium)
Cleveland Indians (Jacobs Field)
Minnesota Twins (Metrodome)

15 January 2009

Forget Hawaii... come to St. Louis!

As I drove to work this morning, the radio DJ reported that the temperature outside was 0 degrees Fahrenheit - with a "feels like" factor of -15 degrees!  Fortunately, it warmed up a bit this afternoon - up to a balmy 12 degrees (feels like -4).

I am just glad that Thursday is my day off of running.  It is forcast to be up to a much more comfortable 21 degrees tomorrow.  Anyone up for 6 miles?

13 January 2009

My college football playoffs...

I am tired of hearing that a college football playoff system will not work... that it will interrupt finals... that it will extend the season too long... BOGUS!!!

Here is my plan:

Currently there are 119 FBS teams

The FBS will consist of 10 conferences - each with 12 teams (need to add 1 more FBS team)

Each conference will consist of two divisions, each with six teams

Regular season games begin on Labor Day weekend

A season consists of 11 games played over 12 weeds (one bye week)

Each team plays every team in their division (5 games), plus three cross-divisional games within the conference (8 total conference games - 4 at home, 4 on the road)

Each team plays 3 non-conference games (required to play at least one road game)

At the end of the regular season, each conference holds a championship game between the winners of the two divisions

Division winners are determined by the record within the division
1st tie breaker - record within conference
2nd tie breaker - overall record

Conference championships held on the week of Thanksgiving

Each championship winner automatically qualifies for the playoffs (10 teams)

6 at-large teams invited to participate in a 16-team playoff

1st round games played on the 51st Saturday of the year

2nd round games played on the 52nd Saturday of the year

Semifinals played on the 1st Saturday of January

National Championship played on the 2nd Saturday of January

Conference championships will be played on a neutral field

Teams seeded for playoffs by a committee with representatives from each conference

Seeding will be used to determine match-ups; the typical bracket model will be used: 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, etc.

1st and 2nd round games will be held on the college campuses of participating teams.

Conference champions will host 1st and 2nd round games - even if they are the lower seed;
if both teams are conference champions, the higher seeded team will host
- if neither team is a conference champion (both at-large teams), a division champion will host
- if both teams are division champions (but not conference champions), the higher seed will host
- if both teams are non-conference champions and non-division champions, the higher seed will host

Example schedules:

What is the argument against this? It does not significantly shorten the season. It gives several weeks off between Thanksgiving and 1st round games for finals. The latest the season will ever extend is 14 January - not much longer than the 8 January National Championship game this year.

What is the wrong with this model? NOTHING!

My suggestion... let's start raising capital. Let's put the bowls out of business by introducing a dynamic, workable, new plan for a college football postseason.

09 January 2009

Empower the Student Athlete

Earlier today I was listening to an interview of Kyle Whittingham on ESPN. Of course he has repeated over and over during the past week his feeling that the Utah Utes are deserving of the National Championship crown this year. Included were the regular points, "we are the only unbeaten team in the United States;" "we are the only team that does not need to explain away a loss;" "we believe we can play with anyone in the country;" "someone will have to explain to me why we are not deserving of a National Championship." I am in full concurrence.

He made an additional point which, I believe, is very insightful. The show host asked why he thought the Utes would beat the Florida Gators and thus are deserving of the national title. Whit responded by saying, "well, the current system that's in place isn't about who beats who... it's who has the best season, and I believe we had the best season." HE NAILED IT!!! Whittingham perfectly identified what the BCS is designed to do.

The pageantry of the BCS is designed to crown the team with the best season - not the best team of the season. There is a difference there. A playoff will identify the best team of the season by flat out on-the-field performance. Whoever wins, moves on. Whoever is standing at the end is the champion. However, the BCS system coronates its national champion based on which team had the best season. This goes far beyond wins and losses. The BCS is a beauty pageant of collegiate football teams. The judging criteria includes brand name, conference affiliation, preseason expectations and projections, timing of one's loss during the season, fan following, national media perceptions, strength of schedule, etc. It is all about show. It is all about garnering votes. College football is not a sport, it is a competition. Each program competes for votes. Whoever can piece together the best season - not just based on wins and losses - will win the most votes.

Now, the BCS along with other administrators and commissioners claim they are protecting the student athletes with their system. They say they cannot interfere with the student athletes' final exams in December. They say they cannot take the football season late into January because such a long season will be too hard on the student athlete. They say the bowls are a reward for the student athletes - something they deserve at the end of a long, hard-fought season. Well, if these powers who control the college football postseason are so intent upon empowering and protecting the student athletes, why does their system strip said student athletes of all power to control their own destiny as to where in they finish in the final standings?

Think about it for a moment! Consider all that is taken into consideration to determine who plays in the BCS games and who plays in the National Championship game. What say does the student athlete have in what conference his school plays in? What influence does the student athlete have in who is on the team's schedule? What control does the student athlete have in his team's preseason ranking? What influence does the student athlete have in how his opponents perform in other games during the season? None. None. None. And none!!!

Why don't conference commissioners, university presidents, athletic directors, bowl committees, computer rankings, media polls, and coaches’ polls step aside and return the focus of collegiate football to the student athlete! Let the student athletes determine who the best is. Let the student athletes today determine who the best is. Not has-been athletes who now populate press boxes and fill the air waves with biased opinions and tainted analysis. Not teams of yester-year who established a respected tradition at a particular school. Not bowl committees who are simply looking to increase viewership and incite intrigue for their name.

College football should be about college athletes. The winner, the champion, the #1 team should be determined on the gridiron, athlete versus athlete. Let the athletes answer the question of who is the best team this season.

05 January 2009

Trip highlights

My first stop along the way was Memphis, TN.
I stopped to enjoy some authentic Memphis BBQ ribs...

Then, I visited the King!

I spent the night at a rest stop somewhere in Mississippi

My first day in New Orleans I parked beneath a tree. When I returned to my car I learned that said tree was home to several... er, MANY birds!

Of course I had to enjoy some of the local fare - beignets!

I did not go in this store, but it reminded me of some women in the Jensen family

This guy is a stud!!! I ran into Aaron as we were leaving the game. We went out to dinner and spent some time together to celebrate the victory. He sends his warmest regards to all in the family.

The Gulf of Mexico. It was interesting to drive along the Gulf Coast. On the south side of the road was a seemingly endless, white-sand beach. On the north of the highway was what I would expect to be valuable beachfront property occupied by nice homes and/or hotels. Although this was probably the case not long ago, now the land is desolated! All there was to be seen were empty foundations here and there, as well as parking lots for buildings that no longer existed. This continued for nearly 100 miles. It was easy to see how recent hurricanes have ravaged this part of the country.

04 January 2009

My first trip to the South

By the numbers...

Miles driven: 1,750
Days: 5
Tanks of gas: 5.5
Hours on the road: 25
States driven through: 8
Nights spent in a motel in the ghetto of New Orleans: 2
Drunk people I observed making fools of themselves on Bourbon Street: 287
Beads exchanged on Bourbon St: no comment
Sugar Bowl victories: 1!!!


This was my lame attempt to get a picture of the Missouri sign. It was on a bridge so I couldn't stop to get my pic. I was a bit upset.

*I failed to get a picture of the Arkansas sign - it was dark outside and I drove right by it.

More still to come...

03 January 2009

31-17 !!!

I have all sorts of things to post from my trip to the deep south. But first, let me address the most important detail...

Utah Utes - 2009 Sugar Bowl Champions!!!

That is beautiful!

What a year it has been! It began with a thrilling victory in the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It included last minute victories at Rice-Eccles over Oregon St. and TCU. The regular season concluded with a most enjoyable drubbing of the hated rivals from the south (wait... Max Hall just threw another interception!). The perfect season was coronated with a man-handling of national powerhouse Alabama in the 75th Annual Sugar Bowl played at the Louisiana Superdome.

What can really be said about the Utes victory over Alabama? It is not so stunning that the Utes won - what is really stunning is how they won. From the opening snap Utah appeared to just outmatch Alabama in every way...
- The Crimson Tide have had great success all season running the footall with their all-american running back Glen Coffee - Utah held the Tide to only 33 yards rushing.
- The Alabama offensive line had given up only 17 sacks all season (an average of just 1.3 per game) - Utah sacked quarterback John Parker Wilson 8 times.
- In 13 games this season, Alabama had allowed only 27 points to be scored in the first quarter (an average of just over 2 points for each game) - Utah scored 21 points on the Tide defense in the 1st quarter.
- Alabama's defense yielded an average of only 257 yards of opposing offense per game - Utah cummulated 349.
- And most importantly... Alabama's average score this year 31 vs. only 13 points for oppontnents - the 2009 Sugar Bowl: Utah 31 - Alabama 17!

Utah fans were outnumbered probably three to one by 'Bama fans at the game. But what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in enthusiasm. The Ute fans were NUTS! From delerious cheering to coordinated chants - the noise was nonstop and loud. Perhaps my favorite chant was just before kickoff. The entire Ute section started doing the Florida Gator 'chomp' with our arms while we chanted in unison "Ur-ban Mey-er... Ur-ban Mey-er...". I got a good laugh from that one.

I am willing to debate anyone who claims that any team other than Utah should be National Champions this year. They are the only unbeaten team in the country. They need not make any excuses. Let us consider common opponents between the Utes and other top teams. Both Utah and USC played Oregon St. Utah won; USC lost. Both Utah and Florida played Alabama. Both won. Utah won 31-17; Florida won 31-20. Utah beat three teams who will be in the top 25 at the end of the season - Oregon St., TCU, BYU, and Alabama. Two of those - TCU and Alabama - will likely be top 10 teams in the final standings. The Utes have the best argument of any team in the country to be #1. The only reason they will not be is because of the BCS system designed to crown only a team with a recognized name. Interestingly, if this same situation occured in the pre-BCS era Utah would be, without question, the national champion this year. Although I hate the fact that the Utes are on the losing end of the failed BCS system, I am glad that they have added another argument toward changing the status quo.

A Utah Man am I... GO UTES!!!