Ramblin’ 7/25/16

Fall camp begins next week for all but one or two SEC teams.

Another political convention begins tonight. It will, mercifully, be over before the weekend, just like the nightmare that was last week’s circus. Deliver us, God.

I miss Hunter S. Thompson. I would truly love to read his scathing takes on these events. Fear and loathing, no doubt.

The Braves continue to hobble along.

A few of the songs on the Apple music setlist playing now. Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot, Shotgun Willie – Willie Nelson, Slow Rollin’ Low – Waylon Jennings, and 300 Pounds of Hongry – Tony Joe White.

A quick Tony Joe story. He and Tom Kimmel, a friend of mine and many of you, had been put together by the record label they shared, years ago. They hung out, did some riding around, shared ideas, and so forth. I suppose the label expected some big collaboration. One day they were eating lunch at a place famous for fried chicken in Franklin, TN. Tony Joe leans over Tom’s plate and, in his deep slow drawl, says, “I don’t see how anybody can eat that dark meat.”

Later he asked Tom when he did his best songwriting. I don’t remember what Tom’s response was but Tony Joe said that he, “…Did his best songwriting when he was driving to Arkansas.” You really need to hear Tom tell it. He has a gift for such.

Poke… salad, UNH!

I haven’t been to a movie, at the theater, in quite some time. I don’t tend to like summer blockbusters, action, popcorn movies, etc. Woooo!!! That blowed up REAL good! I do love popcorn though. Had some last night.

Bob Dylan is now serenading me with a song entitled Isis. Nope, not that ISIS.

Auburn’s first five games will be played in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium this fall.

I love Kroger fuel points.

I wonder how One-A-Day Multivitamins are holding up against the onslaught of vitamins and supplements we have today.

Supplements? I take Fish oil, folic acid (My how my taste in acid has changed! Gettin’ old!), probiotics, Co-Q 10, cinnamon,  B-6, and B-12. That’s in addition to the meds which my myocardial infarctions have necessitated. Yes, I have one of those damn trays that you load this stuff into by days of the week.

New setlist time. I’ll go with Rodney Crowell Essentials. Rodney wrote one of my favorite songs of all-time, Till I Gain Control Again. The first time I heard it was Willie’s cover on the ‘Willie and Family Live’ album. That was 1978. Goodness! What a great song!

There was, actually, an Apple Music option for me called ‘Songs With Parental Advice’.

Have y’all been getting some good home grown tomatoes?

We’re gonna get the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls pretty soon. Look for Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor, Stanford, and Notre Dame to jockey for the top ten spots.

Google or Yahoo?

Fallon or Colbert?

How about Kimmel and Conan?

Two different Kimmels in one short blog.

Burnt Siena is a good name but the crayon used to make me nervous, as did Periwinkle.

I really would like a couple of more days at the beach before school starts, but it ain’t happening.

What’s your favorite Beatles song? Stones? Those are really tough calls.

It’s been 41 years since the summer of Jaws. Yep, gettin’ old.

Speaking of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and gettin’ old, Paperback Writer and Paint It Black were big summer hits 50 years ago, as were When A Man Loves a Woman, Hanky Panky, and Wild Thing.

Chip Taylor wrote Wild Thing. He also wrote Angel of the Morning. If you want a tip on a great record, Chip and Carrie Rodriguez did an album by the name of Red Dog Tracks. That and/or their ‘live’ record are must haves, IMHO.

Well, my daily walk ain’t gonna take itself.

Grace and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ramblin’

This is my first Ramblin’. A shout out goes to my old buddy, Meg Tatom. Yesterday I finally promoted this site on Facebook and Meg said she looked forward to reading my ramblings. The descriptor for Bird’s Banter reads thusly, “A potpourri of ramblings, stories, musings and opinions.” The problem is, there were none, officially. My blogs contain all of the above, but none were dedicated to ramblin’.

So, let’s ramble. 

The song that is currently playing on my iTunes is Willie and Hag’s “It’s All Going to Pot.” It is. The world is, at least. But not the kind Willie and Merle are singing about. That might not be so bad.

I became addicted to Buffalo wings back in the mid-eighties in Upstate New York. The Hudson Valley. Albany and environs. Melodye, or Paul as you may know her, might have it worse than I do. Anyway, our favorite place to get said wings was at Skipper’s Tavern in downtown Albany. It was not in the nicest part of town. No matter. It was THE place to feed one’s jonesin’ for wings. Mild, medium, hot, or death. We liked ’em hot. I’m sweating under my eyes thinking about them. Skipper’s is closed. Burned down. Gone. Sigh.

Speaking of pot, it ought to be legal. Of course, Big Pharm and Monsanto would screw that up like everything else.

How’s your mommer ‘n ‘nem? Don’t y’all just love that interrogative phrase?

BTW, I hope all of y’all’s mommers are well. If you mommer is gone, I’m sorry to hear that.

“Slap the dog and spit in the fire!” I heard Naomi Judd utter this euphemism many years ago. Do any of y’all know how she’s doing?

South Carolina plays at Vanderbilt the first Thursday night SEC game on September 1. Tick tick tick.

“Long Way Down”, by the SteelDrivers is now playing on my shuffle. Apple Music created this Americana setlist for  me. I really like it. It features Brandi Carlile, Dwight Yoakam, Sam Outlaw, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Banditos, among many others. I’m in my three month free trial with Apple Music. I like it. Still haven’t decided if I’ll keep it and pay the $9.99 per month. It ain’t much, but when you add in Netflix (streaming and DVD), the Xfinity starter package (with a sports channels extra), etc., it all adds up for a po’ boy on a fixed income.

Back to ‘tick tick tick’. Frasier Crane responded with that line, on Cheers, to no one in particular after Woody said he never talked about his problems. He just stuck them away somewhere and tried to forget them. “Tick tick tick.”

It’s now thundering outside. Could it be thundering inside? The dogs are tick tacking all over the house with no lap to sit in. Uh oh.

*GOT SPOILER ALERT*

Me and Paul just finished season six of Game of Thrones a couple of nights ago. WhoooWeee! I was so happy to see Ramsay Bolton (who let the dogs out?) and Walder Fry (give ’em hell, Arya!) get theirs. WDE!!! I just wish Cersai Lanister would get hers.  GOOOOOOOO Daenerys! And how about Jon Snow turning out to be a “true” Snow?

I do enjoy binge watching these TV, Netflix, Amazon series! Some favorites are House of Cards, The Fall, The Killing, Wallander, Broadchurch, Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Happy Valley, Luther, Longmire, Rectify, Damages, Boss, Bloodline, and Last Tango in Halifax.

If you’ve never used The Message translation of the Bible, you should. It is self-described as ‘The Bible in Contemporary Language’.

And with that, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (And HURRY!)

Grace and Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fame! Which Nominees Will Deck The Hall?

The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame released the ballot for the 2017 class of inductees last week. There were 75 players and six coaches from the FBS included on the ballot, and there were 95 players and 29 coaches named from the divisional ranks. The announcement of the class will take place live on January 6, 2017. This will coincide with the College Football Playoff National Championship Weekend.

Before we go any further, let me say this. If you have not yet visited the College Football Hall of Fame, located right here in Atlanta, do so at your earliest convenience. It is excellent, incredible, and amazing. You will smile broadly and you just might shed a tear or two during your experience, and I emphasize the word “experience.” Also, if you need an escort or friend to accompany you, I will be more than happy to do that. I am always looking for any excuse to go down there. It is great fun, and there are plenty of first class lodgings and restaurants within the distance of a tossed or kicked pigskin.

For the purposes of this blog, I am only going to list, and speak to, a small handful of the candidates that somehow impacted or struck me personally.

The bios provided come directly off the press release. I’ll provide my brief take in the second paragraph following each player or coach.

If you would like to see a complete list then click here.

2017 FBS PLAYER CANDIDATE CAPSULE BIOS

Tim Couch, Quarterback, Kentucky – 1998 consensus First Team All-American who finished fourth in Heisman voting in 1998 and ninth in 1997… 1998 SEC Player of the Year who led Cats to first win over Alabama in 75 years… Set seven NCAA, 14 SEC and 26 school records.

Auburn never played against Couch and I should probably be thankful for that. I also remember that Bill Curry, the coach at Kentucky when Couch arrived, did not start him right away. He shared quarterback duties with Billy Jack Haskins. That probably was one of many factors that contributed to Curry only lasting in Lexington through seven games of Couch’s freshman year. The Wildcats were 1-6 during that stretch. Hal Mumme replaced Curry and immediately started Couch. The Cats went 3-1 in those last four games.

Eric Dickerson, Running Back, SMU – Named unanimous First Team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1982… Twice named SWC Player of the Year, he holds 14 SMU records including career rushing yards (4,450).

Dickerson and Craig James were backfield mates at SMU and were touted the “Pony Express.” They actually alternated for much of their four years together in Dallas. My wife, baby son and I made our residence in Ft. Worth for two of those years and we saw a lot of this duo. How did SMU, not a football power in those days, pull of that recruiting coup? Most of us know the answer to that question. The Mustangs received the “Death Penalty” before the 1987 season and they have yet to return to form in the aftermath of that debacle.

Bobby Humphrey, Running Back, Alabama – Named First Team All-American in 1987… Led Tide to victories in Aloha Bowl and two Sun Bowls… Named UPI Offensive Player of the Year in 1987… Ended career with 4,958 all-purpose yards and 40 TDs.

Mercy! Number 26 was a great one and, obviously, a thorn in the flesh of my Auburn Tigers for three years. He only played in two games his senior year, 1988. ’86 and ’87 were his big years as he rushed for just over 2,700 yards in those two seasons. I saw the ’86 game on TV, we were living in California at the time, and I was able to attend the ’87 Auburn-Alabama game as our residence was in Auburn, Alabama. The Tigers were fortunate to win both of those games, 21-17 and 10-0, respectively.

Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Tennessee – 1997 consensus First Team All-American and Heisman Trophy runner-up who won the NFF Campbell Trophy and the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards… Three-time All-SEC selection and 1997 SEC Player of the Year while guiding Vols to SEC title… Tennessee’s all-time leader in wins (39), passing yards (11,201) and TD passes (89), among others.

I so enjoyed following Peyton’s career while he quarterbacked the Vols. Auburn had no regular season games against Tennessee during his four years in Knoxville, but the two teams did square off in the SEC Championship Game in 1997. Auburn jumped out to a 20-10 lead at the half and led 29-23 after three stanzas, but Manning hit Marcus Nash, early in the fourth quarter, and Tennessee hung on for a 30-29 victory. That was a tough pill to swallow but I was very proud of my Tigers’ effort.

Buddy McClinton, Defensive Back, Auburn – Three-time All-American who earned consensus First Team honors in 1969… Auburn’s all-time leader in interceptions (18) and holds record for interceptions in a season (9 in 1969)… Set SEC career interception record (18).

McClinton is, most assuredly, my favorite on the list of this class of Hall of Fame nominees. He has been overlooked and is long overdue to make it in to the Hall. Buddy, #27, played safety beautifully. He was quite the ball hawk. His biggest game was, probably, the 1968 Sun Bowl. He intercepted four passes in that contest and was named the game’s MVP. Also, he started every game in his Auburn career.

2017 FBS COACH CANDIDATE CAPSULE BIOS

Danny Ford – Clemson (1978-89), Arkansas (1993-97) – Led Tigers to perfect 12-0 season and national title in 1981… Won five ACC championships and twice named conference coach of the year… Boasts four of the top five winningest seasons in school history and set Clemson record with 41 consecutive weeks in AP Top 20… Led Arkansas to first SEC West title in 1995.

Ford played offensive tackle at Alabama from 1967-1969 under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. That was how I came to know of him initially. But he is best known, by far, for his time at Clemson. During that 1981 national title run, Clemson was the only team to defeat the University of Georgia and Herschel Walker in the regular season. That was quite an accomplishment as it was the only regular season loss the Bulldogs suffered in Walker’s entire there years in Athens.

Notably, Ford’s first game as head coach at Clemson was the 1978 Gator Bowl against Ohio State. He replaced Charley Pell who left for the Florida Gators. That was also Woody Hayes’ last game as coach of the Buckeyes. If you’re a serious fan of college football, you might remember that Hayes punched Clemson nose guard, Charlie Bauman, and that was the undoing of the legendary coach.

Steve Spurrier – Duke (1987-89), Florida (1990-01), South Carolina (2005-15) – Winningest head coach in both University of Florida and University of South Carolina history, ranking second all-time in wins in SEC annals… Led Gators to 1996 National Championship and six SEC titles… Posted seven conference championships, nine conference coach of the year honors and 21 bowl appearances in 26-year career.

This one makes me smile. I have always enjoyed Spurrier, first as a player and then as a coach. I miss him. You know the story. Here is my take on the “Head Ball Coach.”

I eagerly look forward to the selection of the Hall of Famers. And, once again, come on down to Hotlanta and join me for an up close and personal look at this next class, and all of the greats who have gone before them.

The March To Tampa: Let The Hype Begin

It’s that time of year. On Monday, three major college football publications, Lindy’s, Athlon, and The Sporting News, released their Preseason College Football rankings for the 2016 season. Ever since I was a kid, waiting for Street and Smith’s to publish their preseason magazine, this has been a much-anticipated time for me.

Where is Auburn? Alabama! Again? That refrain rings true once more as Auburn is nowhere to be found in any of the three polls and Alabama resides in the top spot in all of them. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

There are a great many of the usual suspects, from years past, that also find themselves in the hunt. Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, and USC would count among those teams. There are also a few teams that would not have been rated back in my younger days. They would include Baylor, TCU, Louisville, Clemson, Houston, Oklahoma State and Oregon.

And here they are with links:

Lindy’s Athlon The Sporting News
1. Alabama 1. Alabama 1. Alabama
2. Clemson 2. Florida State 2. Clemson
3. Oklahoma 3. Ohio State 3. Oklahoma
4. Ohio State 4. Clemson 4. Ohio State
5. Baylor 5. Michigan 5. Baylor
6. Tennessee 6. Oklahoma 6. Florida State
7. Michigan 7. Tennessee 7. Ole Miss
8. Florida State 8. Notre Dame 8. Michigan
9. LSU 9. LSU 9. Stanford
10. Stanford 10. Ole Miss 10. Notre Dame
11. Notre Dame 11. Washington 11. Michigan State
12. Houston 12. Stanford 12. LSU
13. Ole Miss 13. Michigan State 13. Tennessee
14. Louisville 14. Baylor 14. Houston
15. Iowa 15. UCLA 15. USC
16. Oklahoma State 16. Houston 16. Oklahoma State
17. USC 17. Georgia 17. Iowa
18. Georgia 18. TCU 18. North Carolina
19. San Diego State 19. Louisville 19. Oregon
20. TCU 20. Iowa 20. Georgia
21. Washington 21. Florida 21. Washington
22. Michigan State 22. North Carolina 22. Louisville
23. UCLA 23. USC 23. Arkansas
24. Oregon 24. Oregon 24. Texas
25. North Carolina 25. Oklahoma State 25. TCU
In the SEC, we have Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas. That’s half of the league in and half of the league out. Auburn would be the most prominent exception. Now, lets take a look at all of the SEC teams that made their way in and what the average ranking of each, between the three magazines, would be. We will divide the total of each team’s ranking by three, thus, Alabama 3 divided by 3 = 1. I was hell in arithmetic.

Alabama – 1.0

Tennessee – 8.67

Ole Miss – 10

LSU – 10
( A tie. Interesting.)

Georgia – 18.3

Florida was ranked just once, at 21 by Athlon. Arkansas was also ranked only once and that was at 23 by the Sporting News. I suppose they would both fall into the “others receiving votes” in our combined poll.

And so, that leaves only four teams, Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU as being unanimously ranked. That is not what the SEC is accustomed to. Does that mean it will be a down year for the SEC? I don’t know. I could see Auburn making it in when all is said and done. But Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M? No.

The way I’m looking at it, there would be a maximum of seven SEC teams being ranked when the final poll results are in. A maximum, but there, obviously, could be fewer than that.

I mentioned only four teams that are unanimously ranked in the three publications, and they all fall within the top ten. There is certainly a chance that some of those four teams do not meet expectations.

Will Alabama, truly, be as good as they were last year or in years before? Danny Sheridan, oddsmaker and Bama grad, thinks the Tide could lose a couple of games and finish behind LSU. Alabama also lost Kirby Smart to Georgia. How about them Dawgs? There is an entire new coaching staff, and system, that the Bulldogs have to adjust to.

What about LSU? And Tennessee? There are pundits who are beginning to surmise that these teams are overrated. I disagree. In fact, the more I think about these two, the more I like them.

Tennessee, and Butch Jones, have been steadily building this program and those freshmen that were talented, but green, back in 2013 are bigger, stronger, and experienced. The Vols are also deep. I fully expect them to win the East and play for the SEC Championship.

LSU? Same thing with Brandon Harris, Leonard Fournette and their fellow Tigers. I’m beginning to see Danny Sheridan’s point of view and I understand why he thinks the Bayou Bengals will win the SEC West. It could happen.

Hype! Hype! Hype! That’s all we’ve got until September 1 when South Carolina and Vanderbilt open SEC play. And that, my friends, is only 98 days away!

Is It Possible To Repair A Ruptured Recruiting System?

Recruiting high school kids to play college football has always been a maddening, vile, cut-throat business. I use the word “business”, intentionally, as people often throw the word around, loosely, when attempting to justify an action or transaction, that blurs the boundaries of integrity.

How many times have you, or I, heard some say, “Well, it’s business.” Or they might pronounce the word “bidness”, as if its mispronunciation somehow lightens their burden of responsibility. It could be that they’re not overly astute in grammatical matters. Whatever, if an action or transaction is less than savory, then it “ain’t” right.

To hell with ethics and grammar, right? We’re doing “bidness.” And folks, recruiting is big “bidness.”

So, what in the world can be done to sanitize the, too often, seamier side of recruiting?

Andy Staples, senior writer at Sports Illustrated, spoke to a few coaches from four conferences who were meeting in Phoenix, a few days ago, about the matter.

I am of the opinion that some of what these coaches had to say, when weighing in on the ins and outs of recruiting, makes good sense. Much of it, probably, makes too much sense considering the logic-defying decisions that have, sometimes, made their way forth from NCAA and conference gatherings.

The satellite camp hot potato now has a temporary “solution.” It will, undoubtedly be tweaked and re-tweaked in the months and years to come. Will sanity or insanity prevail? Most likely it will be a little of both. There are coaches, like Patterson and Rodriguez who appear to be moving in the direction of a fair and enlightened approach to all of this madness.

Did I just use the terms fair and enlightened in discussing college football recruiting? Is that even a remote possibility? It could be if coaches truly have the very best interests of the “student-athlete” in mind, and not pushing the envelope, living in gray areas, getting an edge and, sometimes, but sadly, winning at all costs.

Back to Patterson and Rodriguez. The TCU coach has thoughtful, rational ideas like rules that propose a specific number of days that coaches could work camps that take place on their own campuses or in another location.

Rodriguez comes with a solution that is far more radical and I find it a swimmingly good one. Eliminate National Signing Day! Say what?

When one begins to milk sacred cows and the baggage that they udder, one is treading in treacherous territory.

Now people, consider that we gone from one such cow, which was the antiquated bowl system that patriarchs such as Paul “Bear” Bryant and Bob Devaney, to name a couple, often dominated, to the BCS to the College Football Playoff.

It can happen.

But here’s the rub, the Almighty Dollar. And with “In God We Trust” remaining proudly emblazoned on said dollar, it reigns supreme. It is in Ben Franklin that we trust and if anyone tells you any differently, they are deluded.

Follow the money. That’s what makes this world, and the world of college football, go round.

The bottom line is the bottom line.

Cars, houses, prostitutes, meals, bag men, and hundred-dollar handshakes. These things, and other dubious practices, to whatever degree, have been a part of college football recruiting for as long as there has been college football recruiting.

Then you come back to ridiculous coaches salaries, massive stadiums to fill, and ticket prices that continue to spiral out of control.

Houston, we have a problem.

I, for one, have more questions than answers about all of this, and there are answers.

But…

Who is willing to sit down and, honestly and evenhandedly, make the hard decisions that could provide some relief to a system that is, often, bloated, bigoted, and blind?

Is it possible?