Monday, July 13, 2009

BCS Dilemna: Solved

No, no- it wasn't Orrin Hatch. Believe it or not, congress wasn't able to get something done...

Instead, the answer to college football's awkward postseason dilemna has finally been found by a student at the University of Colorado, who hit pause on his game of Halo long enough to unveil his master plan to the world this weekend.

I have to say, I like the way the kid thinks outside the box, even if that box does say "Jack in the Box" on it. Any idea that includes TCU rather than exclude them is fun to consider. But as you read the artcile, it becomes more and more evident that the kid's original draft probably included a few paragraphs about the moon crashing into the earth and ordering pizza with gummi-worms on it: Wisconsin in a conference with Arizona and Arizona State? Maybe we should put TWO flavor packets on this Ramen!

Summer Reading List

With just a smidge under 1,500 hours to go until kickoff of the Virginia game (yeah, that's right- hours), I can only assume that a lot of you are going through the same kind of antsy in your pantsy, Trainspotting-esque withdrawls for football. If you've already read through all of the preview magazines, and the re-runs of "classic" games on CBS-College and ESPN-U and the incredibly bland summer editions of "College Football Live" aren't enough to satiate your gridiron itch, let me nerd out for a minute and offer up a summer reading list that ought to help calm your nerves:

Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins

If you haven't yet gotten into Jenkins, now is definitely the time. It's not often that you can laugh out loud at a book, but nearly all of his have caused me to. Semi-Tough is written in the first person as a diary by fictional Paschal High & TCU alum Billy Clyde Puckett, who is preparing to lead the New York Giants into the Super Bowl. If you enjoy the irreverant humor in this one (and you will), also check out Jenkins' You Gotta Play Hurt, a spin-off that isn't quite a football book, but does have a backstory involving TCU football enjoying a great season. There was a terrible movie version of Semi-Tough made with Burt Reynolds playing Billy Clyde Puckett, and apparently also made a pilot for a TV series version with David Hasselhoff playing one of the supporting roles (I kid you not).

The Junction Boys by Jim Dent

When I read The Junction Boys, I had a few painful flashbacks to my own torturous experience with two-a-day practices in the brutal August heat. But those flashbacks were nothing compared to the relief I felt that I wasn't playing "back in the day" and with a psychotic sadist of a coach like Paul "Bear" Bryant. If you don't already know the story from watching the God-awful ESPN movie version, in 1954 Bryant (then at Texas A&M) took his team to Junction, TX, and basically decided to separate the men from the boys by putting them through workouts that, even for the time, were cruel & unusual. It's interesting to see how- and why- some of the players refused to quit.

Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger

Friday Night Lights goes in a category along with Lonesome Dove- if you haven't read it yet, shame on you. Growing up in a house with a parent who grew up in Odessa, I was required to read it at an age when some of the lengthiest titles I had completed included Little House in the Big Woods and Sideways Stories from Wayside School. For those of you still in the dark, FNL follows the 1988 Odessa Permian Panthers as they strive towards their ultimate goal, a state championship. It caused quite a stir upon it's release, because aside from showcasing the on-the-field success of the players, it also exposed some of the underlying moral flaws of the community behind the team. It was followed up, of course, with a movie adaptation starring Billy Bob Thornton that has enjoyed mixed reviews since it came out and a critically-acclaimed TV series, although the latter is not actually based on the book.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John

Warren St. John, an Alabama native who was educated and lived as an adult in New York City, couldn't explain why he was still so emotionally invested in the Alabama Crimson Tide. So to answer the question "why do we care?", he bought an RV and followed the Tide to every game one season. He came into contact with some seriously, seriously salty characters along the way and came to some interesting conclusions to his initial question. Taking it's title from a signature Crimson Tide cheer, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is definitely a good read for a psycho-fan.

Twelve Mighty Orphans by Jim Dent

"Incredulous" is an apt description of someone reading Twelve Mighty Orphans for the first time. It's the incredible but true story of the kids at at Fort Worth's Masonic Home Orphanage, which despite all odds, became one of the state's most dominant high school football teams during the Great Depression. The hardships that these kids overcame There is talk that it will be adapted into a film in coming years.

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Plimpton was already one of America's most prominent sports writers in 1963, when he somehow convinced the coaches of the Detroit Lions to let him join the team as a reserve quarterback in training age 36. Given jersey #0, Plimpton worked through camp along with legends like Alex Karras and Dick "Night Train" Lane, and the players never knew he was really a writer. There was apparently also a movie version starring Alan Alda.

...But don't take my word for it!