Wednesday

12-16-09: 2009 College Football Picks: Fin, plus...

Hello again everybody...

Mid-week and things feel... weird. This is the first Wednesday I've worked in a couple of months, and while I'm happy to be back on a Monday through Friday schedule, it'll be another adjustment to get used to it again.

I trust it won't take as long as the last adjustment did!

One other quick announcement before we get to today's proceedings. As I write today, I'm about 90% sure that I won't be doing “Bowl Mania II” this year. Barring a last-minute outcry by you folks, I've decided that there's too much else going on to fill 3+ weeks with nothing but college football picks. Once a week during the regular season was one thing. But 34 games in less than a month is more than I think I want to take on again.

On that note, let's get to today's column, shall we? I've got to put a final bow on the 2009 college football regular season, and then I've got a couple of other quick items to hit you with.

Off we go!

”I never think about the future - it comes soon enough.”
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), theoretical physicist


“Never” is perhaps slightly stronger a term than I'd use personally, but “staying in the now” is usually pretty good advice.

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First up today, it's time to talk college football...

2009 College Football Picks: Fin

Only one game to talk about this week, so...

Navy -14 vs. Army: Final Score - Navy 17, Army 3

It's probably appropriate that my final pick of the year was a push. I mean why not? The whole season has pretty much been a dud. Ending on a push is probably better than I even deserve!

As for the game itself, it was a typical physical battle between two teams that perhaps don't have the most talent in the FBS, but have more heart than many teams combined.

Army came out strong defensively and never really lost their edge. Navy had all kinds of trouble getting on track offensively, and only some of that was due to Army's D.

Navy scored just enough to get me back to even, though there were a few moments towards the end when Army was threatening my push. Thankfully, Navy's defense made enough plays to hold on.

But all of that is sort of beside the point. After all, it's the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game that makes the atmosphere so special...

Only this year, a little of the shine was missing. That's because for reasons which still have me befuddled, the fine folks at Nike decided to throw their “creative” uniforms into the arena of the Army/Navy game.

If you've ever been watching a college football game and thought, “boy, those uniforms sure do look crappy”, 99.9% of the time, the uniform was made by Nike. It used to be that only Oregon was abused by the alternative-uniform folks at Nike. But recently, their insidious designs have wormed their way into locker rooms across the country.

I understand. It's a money thing. Nike gets it's logo splashed all over national television. Universities get tons of Nike gear. It's still evil to me, but it's understandable.

But not in the Army/Navy game. A line has to be drawn, and I think that's the place to do it. How the Naval Academy looked at these uniforms...



And thought they were a good idea was beyond me.

In fact, when I first saw them, I thought, “Gee, those are terrible. Wait, don't tell me Nike is screwing with this game too? [cut to close-up shot of Navy Uniform with the Nike Swoosh prominently displayed] Oh good lord, why is there life on this planet?!”

The more I looked at them, the more I decided they looked like something out of a Stallone movie...



I mean seriously, you can see the resemblance, right?!

Shame on you Nike. You want to ruin Oregon, Florida, Kansas and a host of other schools? Go ahead. Wisconsin has a deal with Addidas. You can't really hurt me.

But leave Navy alone. Please, I beg of you. Don't do this. Don't ever, ever, ever do this again.

So my final pick was a push, making me 22-26-1 (.458) on the year.

Certainly not the 33-17 (.660) mark I had last year. In fact, I'm not sure you can see my 2008 record from where I stand at the end of 2009.

I wish I had an explanation for you. I wish I had an easy answer. Unfortunately, I've got nothing. Looking back on my justifications, they make as much sense now as they did when I wrote them.

All I can do is promise you to be back after it next fall, working my tail off to get things going back in the right direction!

(Admit it though... it was still a fun season, no?)

Next...

Can't we just leave Tiger alone....

There are many, many things to be mystified about when it comes to the Tiger Woods story.

But the one that's got me scratching my head this week is the backlash that's starting to occur. The chorus of, “we should just leave this man alone so he can work on his family” has me a little stunned.

Some people were of that mind from the get-go, and I can respect that.

That being said, in my opinion, no, we can't “just leave the man alone”.

Look, I understand that this involves his family. And neither his wife, nor his children asked to be part of a scandal. I couldn't feel sorrier for Elin and the kids, and the last thing I want for them is to be hounded by the media.

Tiger, on the other hand? Look, when you accept hundreds of millions of dollars to try and convince the public to buy products based upon your endorsement, you don't get to scream “leave me alone” when it turns out that your carefully crafted image was a bunch of bunk.

“Buy a Buick, Tiger drives one...” “Buy a Tag Heuer watch, Tiger wears one...” “Use a Gillette razor to shave, Tiger uses one...” “Drink Gatorade, Tiger does...” “Buy Nike anything, Tiger uses their stuff...”

The list goes on and on. And that's fine. I don't disparage Tiger taking their money for the use of his image. But if you take that money, there's a price you have to pay. Your behavior will be monitored and scrutinized. And if it turns out that you conducted multiple affairs with women of questionable morality while married with two children, then you really pay a price.

The media has to stay on this story. I'm not talking about the paparazzi trying to get pictures of Tiger and Elin in the same location. That doesn't serve anyone's interest. I'm talking about the media who are trying to find out just what the final tally on Tiger's tote board is.

Why does the number matter? The specific number doesn't. But as you dig deeper in this story, more and more details come to light. And it's details like those, that lead to discoveries like this Canadian doctor who's facing drug charges and has connections to numerous professional athletes, including Tiger.

Don't get me wrong. There's no direct evidence that Tiger's used any illegal or banned substances. But if in the course of the investigation of this doctor, it turns out that he has, then that changes everything.

We have to remember, some of the biggest scandals in history have been unearthed by investigations which began as a result of completely unrelated issues.

Woodward and Bernstein made their careers on what began as an investigation of a simple burglary attempt.

I'm not saying we're going to find a Watergate cover-up at the end of this Tiger story. But that's just it, we don't know. And until we do know, journalists have a responsibility to follow the evidence wherever it might lead them.

But if we listened to the “leave Tiger alone” crowd, none of that would happen.

Yesterday, pro basketball player Kevin Durant posted the following on his Twitter account:

“Ok now leave Tiger Woods alone now...its been long enough, i cant believe its making people happy to see this man suffering...he will b back”

Or witness Lakers forward Ron Artest who wrote this open letter to Tiger.

If we went by what Ron said, you'd think Tiger had come forth of his own volition and tearfully admitted to his mistakes. Nothing of the sort happened. Tiger was essentially caught red-handed. And it took three vaguely-worded internet posts before he came close to brushing up against what might be considered an admission.

You'd also think that the attention that's being shown towards this story comes as a result of media members wanting to “attack” Tiger and “bring him down”. The only evidence of anyone attacking Tiger would point towards Mrs. Tiger. And the only person bringing Tiger down, is Tiger.

It's not a great surprise to see other pro athletes rushing to Tigers defense and pointing the finger at the media. Like somehow it's sports writers fault that Tiger chased skirts from coast to coast. After all, there but for the grace of God go a great many pro athletes. They want people to leave Tiger alone because if the same kind of spotlight was put on their personal lives, bad things would be likely to happen.

That doesn't concern me. People who believe these athletes motives are genuine deserve to be duped.

What concerns me is that the sentiment seems to be spreading. More and more, I'm hearing from sensible people that Tiger should be “left alone” so he can try to “heal his family”.

I'm all for calling off the dogs chasing him physically. But as for the story? No, that needs to be chased until we find out everything that might be lurking under that pristine persona that's now been tarnished.


Finally... one last note before I go.

If you'll recall back to Friday's column, I had a rather harsh assessment of Wild winger Martin Havlat's performance thus far this season.

In fact, I said it's been since the preseason since he'd made me say “wow”, which is tangentially one of the things he was brought to Minnesota to do.

Well that ended Friday night. Take a gander at this goal:



Remember, that's not some schlub goaltender. That's Mikka Kiprusoff. He doesn't get beat like that. Ever.

It was a remarkable goal by Havlat that earned the Wild a confidence-boosting road win in an arena that's traditionally been a house of horrors.

And Havlat's been absolutely on fire ever since.

Coincidence... probably.

But it's still nice to see Havlat stepping up and producing like Wild brass knew he could.


That's going to wrap things up for today. I'm back on Friday with your week-ending DFTU column.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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