Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A lot to like ... and not like about football

       Before I take a break from writing blogs -- got an important family matter to attend to, a baby -- one more piece about my football likes and dislikes.
      Let's start with Leonard Fournette, Mr. Heisman Trophy pose. Sorry, but in my opinion, that was not the way to act after his first LSU touchdown run. Maybe some people liked it, but I know two who didn't: Tigers coach Les Miles and me.
      As Fournette came to the sideline, Miles greeted him, and I don't think he was exactly congratulating him. I would say "chewing out" is more like it. My reaction: Good.
      Too soon, Leonard. (Get used to the "too soon" phrase. I'm going to repeat it.)
LSU freshman Leonard Fournette: C'mon, kid, be serious -- you're not
Heisman Trophy material yet, not after one or two TDs. (photo, Getty Images)
      But it got everyone's attention. It wasn't all that long after he scored -- and by this time the game was so one-sided, we needed some diversion -- when nola.com -- the web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (with its Baton Rouge branch) -- put a link on Facebook to a story about the touchdown ... and the pose.
     My posted comment: Don't like that, and neither did Les.
     Jim Kleinpeter, the T-P's longtime beat writer on the Tigers, quickly returned a comment to me: "C'mon, Nico, don't turn into an old fart just yet. lol"
      Yeah, lol. As I replied to Jim -- an old buddy from our early Louisiana sportswriting days -- it's way too late for that. I have admitted to old-fartness in several blog pieces, and I'll stick to it.
      I don't like athletes acting out, period. It spoils NFL games for me, same for the NBA, and I especially don't like it in baseball. Every walkoff victory is followed by a silly team-jumping, dump-the-water bucket-on-player and/or shaving creme-in-the-face pie on player ... even if the team is 10 games out and has no hope of making the playoffs. I know, my team is one of those. Can't stand it.
      Of course, the guy who played third base in years past for my team -- when he's not hurt or serving a suspension for PED use -- is one of the most call-attention-to-yourself players in history. If he never plays another game, I'm fine with that.
      I'm getting away from the subject, which today is football.
      I love college football; it's hard not to. There's a joy about it, an enthusiasm, an appeal that goes way back, a loyalty to a school and a program -- or in my case, two schools and two programs.
      In my opinion, college football so far surpasses the NFL these days. It's not even close. At least not on my television. I have some friends in journalism whose jobs are to write about NFL teams, and I'm happy for those guys. But read on.
      What I like about college football: Walking around a campus; the "walk" to the stadium -- Victory Hill at LSU, the Vol Walk at Tennessee, up The Grove at Ole Miss, etc., all are good; the tailgating (but not irresponsible drinking); the bands (can't show the bands enough for me; I like the pregame show, the fight songs, clips and sounds during games ... in fact, I want to see the halftime show on TV).
      I want the halftime show on TV because I refuse to watch any of the pregame, halftime, postgame analysis -- no Lee Corso, no Lou Holtz, no anyone. Really don't want it now that Tim Brando no longer the lead guy on the studio show at CBS.
      Like the fired-up players (except when they make a show of the whole team running down to the end zone).
      Don't like ticket prices. OK, I'm cheap. But I cannot pay $65-70 or a lot more for a game ticket. We will save our money for season tickets to the Pops Series by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at Bass Hall.
      Obviously, a lot of people will pay the price. Many stadiums are full, or mostly full, and I do marvel at full stadiums. And that's why we have 50 bowl games (see below).
      Like close, competitive games between ranked teams -- Southern Cal and Stanford on Saturday, for example. Oregon-Michigan State, Virginia Tech-Ohio State.
      Which brings up this: Don't like the Big Ten, never have. Overrated almost every year now. Let me repeat: overrated. Michigan State lost Saturday, Michigan lost (big-time to Notre Dame). Ohio State lost. Purdue and Northwestern lost to mid-majors. Send the Big Ten champ to the Rose Bowl, and see what happens almost every year.
      Don't like one-sided games -- majors vs. mid-majors. Here are scores from Saturday's Top 25: 37-12, 41-0, 52-7, 59-13, 73-3, 70-6, 56-0 (LSU), 41-3, 58-23, 37-3, 73-7,66-21. Boring.
      I even turned away from the LSU game several times, and on computer watched Louisiana Tech take care -- good care -- of Southwestern Louisiana (not "Louisiana").
      Yeah, those "money" games for the mid-majors often reek. But then you get McNeese State almost beating Nebraska, and that makes the day.
      Speaking of routs: What in the heck, Texas and SMU? Hard to digest what's happened to those great traditional programs so dear to the Lone Star State where I live now. 
      I do not like "sack" dances/celebrations, particularly on routine plays. If it really makes a difference in a game, fine. Don't like receivers giving us a first-down signal or defensive backs waving their arms "incomplete" after a pass breakup. It's ridiculous, showoffs.
      Deplore late hits and tackles with the helmet. Don't have a problem with any rules put in to punish the offenders. Here was a beauty I saw Saturday: After breaking up a pass intended for a La. Tech receiver, a ULL defensive back got in his face and got a 15-yard penalty for taunting. His team was behind by 27 points ... in the fourth quarter. Stupid.
      Love "the play is under review" -- in any sport. As long as the technology is there and the procedure is relatively quick, great. Let's get the calls right. It's one of the best developments in sports in my lifetime. Love it in college football, the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball (which should expand its system). Soccer, too.
      Here is one of my current major gripes: bowl projections, Heisman Trophy watch, Davey O'Brien QB Award watch, wind-your-watch and scratch-well, your nose watch. And the most important watch of all: What teams are going to make college football's first Final Four playoff?
      Too soon, people. Too soon. All of the items above.
      They were talking about this last week after the first week of games. They're talking about it this week. The season is two weeks old. Too soon.
      Yes, my newspaper friends are writing about it, the sports magazine writers are projecting and predicting and ranking, the talk shows everywhere -- radio, television -- go on and on.
      A lot of these people writing and talking are my friends; my son-in-law is a radio sports talk show host. Sure, it's good fodder ... for them. For me, I refuse to read any of it or listen.
      One more time: Too soon. I will start paying attention about Nov. 1, or maybe Nov. 15. By then, everyone might have a clue.
      If it were up to me, I would not release any national rankings before Oct. 1. But I understand this is what people want, what they can talk about.
      I think the college football playoff is so long overdue, and I think it should be an Elite Eight, not a Final Four, and after some team(s) get a raw deal, it will be. While we are it, let's cut out all but about 20 bowl games. In fact, let's cut it to about 12 -- and really make them count.
      On the playoff selection committee, I think it's a select group -- great diversity and knowledge. And, yes, I think Condeleeza Rice is a darned good choice; she's smarter than most of the guys, and she'll be fair.
      This group will do the best it can be done. They'll be criticized, but any panel doing this would be. In fact, they can do the pairings for the 12 bowl games I've suggested.
      What else? Oh, the NFL.
      I love the history of the NFL, the days when Tom Landry coached the Cowboys and they won pretty consistently. Watching Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman as their QBs. I wasn't as big a fan of Jimmy Johnson as of Landry, but Jimmy's teams were consistently efficient and often dominating. There's never been a better Cowboys player than Emmitt Smith or a more overblown, overpaid one than the current QB.
      Saints? Didn't care then, don't care now. Sorry, Saints fans. I know you're out there, and more power to you. The Saints whip the Cowboys every time they play now. I don't like it.
      What I like about today's NFL: 
       (That's right ... that's a blank space up there.)
       I'm not watching. I'll tape the Cowboys' games. If I feel like reviewing the game, I will, and I'll skip the parts when they show Jerry Jones. How's that for front-running?
       Don't like the violence. Don't like the concussions. Don't like the announcers (well, I could tolerate Troy Aikman ... but I won't watch). Got other things to do on Sundays, Monday nights, Thursday nights. See ya.
       Don't like the players woofing at each other, and celebrating every tackle and every touchdown and every passing of gas (oops, I slipped and got ugly). I'm back to where we started, players acting out.
       Enough football. Now let's talk about Duck Dynasty and the Duck Commander and his family. I'm just kidding. Let's not. I'll let all you people who have nothing to do talk about them. 
       Enough opinions. Let's take a break from this blog. How about that? That I like.
       Oh, Leonard Fournette. Let's win the Heisman before you give us the pose again. This old fart doesn't approve.



  1. From Chuck Baker: Agreed with almost all your comments. Liked that you mildly criticized the Top 25 blowouts. Hogs have taken some criticism as well but the reality is (as much as I hate to admit this), they were a team that had lost 10 in a row, have not won a conference game in two years, had not won any game is 356 days. I don't think they can be criticized (you didn't -- some Hogs fans have) for being a "power" beating up on a little guy. Obviously it was a mismatch. But everyone thought Nebraska-McNeese would be a mismatch, too.

  2. From Maxie Hays: It is amazing how much this old fart agrees with you, the younger old fart, regarding football. I absolutely agree with you. High school and college football are the greatest; I could care less about the NFL. If the local newspaper would just cover the high school and college sports, I would be so happy.
    I love the humble, respectful athlete! Can't stand the others.
    Go back to less than 12 bowl games. Let each of them be playoff games. I like an eight-team playoff format. And so on.
    And I love Bass Hall and all that goes on there. Never let music die!

  3. From Raleigh Whitehead: This old fart didn't approve of that pose either. I got to be an old fart by virtue of getting older. My tolerance for idiots and the "talking heads" football announcers isn't there anymore. I was watching the Auburn game when these three dunces (aka announcers) decided to show off their "football speak." The director shrunk the size of the screen to accommodate these idiots and what was shown of the playing was absolutely awful. I mean really awful.
    By the way, my daughter went to Auburn and my favorite teams are Auburn and LSU and anyone who beats Alabama. Back when I was a lot younger, I had to work offshore with some folks from Alabama and they would lord it over me when they beat LSU. Hated it and still do.
    Anyway, like you, I love college football and much to the dislike of my wonderful wife, I will jump up out of my recliner and yell when LSU or Auburn make a big play/score or beat Alabama.

  4. From Marty Mule': Agree with just about everything ... almost.

  5. From Ellace Bruce: I just finish reading your latest blog, agree with you 100 percent. It was well-written and to the point. I have felt this way for a few years now.

  6. From Tommy Canterbury: Ain't no bigger Saints fan and anti-Cowboy than me. We should agree to disagree. I never gave up in the 40 years of wondering in the desert. We were terrible, but we were Louisiana. Anyway, can't help it. We are not terrible now; love our coach, character and players..Still believe we will be exceptional this year, as will our division. Cowboys -- 8 and 8, if lucky. Slow learners. Just waiting for a chance to screw up and they seem to find one every time. Remember that v"keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result" ... check the blue stars.
    LSU: You are correct. Honestly, a slow start and ass-chewing should prove to be good for Fournette as a potentially good player. If not, he's gonna be a problem for his career. Oh, Tommy Vardeman once said, "Potential means you ain't done it yet." Fits perfectly here. I hope it all develops.

  7. From Jim McLain: I completely agree with you about the current showoutedness in sports. Wish I could read some opinions like yours from working writers. NFL is more showbiz than football and the hot dogs are taking over in other sports, too.

  8. From Ed English: I couldn’t agree more on the NFL. There are many Sundays during the fall when the only football I’ll watch on TV is a replay of the College Gameday recap with Reece Davis and company. And it has been that way since the early '90s. College football is a different story. Can’t get enough. I’ll even watch bad bowl games between teams I don’t know the nicknames of.