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Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Grieving at Happy Valley

In Football, Inspiration on November 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

By the time this post is read, I seriously doubt that there is anyone who has not heard about the horrific scene at Penn State University. The entire nation is horrified and furious, and rightfully so. But this post is not about Jerry Sandusky, or Joe Paterno or even Mike McQueary. It’s not even about a couple of thousand students being ridiculous and shaming the school even further with their protest turned riot.

It’s about the 40,000 or so other students who did nothing wrong and who are absolutely heartbroken over the disgrace brought down on their beloved institution. It’s about the staff and faculty at PSU who are having to struggle past the media into buildings in order to get to work and class.  It’s about the collective heartbreak of a nation, for the victims, for the school and for themselves. It’s about their attempts to reach out, to rebuild and to heal.

Yes, I’m outraged. I’ve cried and read more than I probably should. But I don’t live there, and it’s not my team or my school. When I place myself in the shoes of those in the thick of this, I am even more sad. The disgust of an entire country has been lodged against them all because of the sick and twisted actions of a few.

Again, as a wannabe sports blogger, there are things I would be remiss not to write about here on GG, but I think that the media at large has it pretty much covered. As a person with a friend at PSU, I have become intrigued about what isn’t being covered. There is a glaring lack of reporting on the overwhelming sadness and grief of the students, faculty, staff, and fans, not to mention the complete disruption of life and total chaos both night and day.

PLEASE NOTE: obviously the victims of these horrific crimes are THE focal point and I am in NO WAY putting aside their pain and tragedy, it’s just that this post is not about them. I’m not saying this isn’t the most important thing – it’s just not the only thing.

There has been little to no mention of the efforts of various organizations of students and staff to reach out to the victims or simply to gather together to pray for them. No coverage of bunch of football players who have steadily worked their butts off and secured a very successful season but have about zero chance of a normal Saturday for their game. No mention of mothers taking their children to draw encouraging words and pictures with chalk on the sidewalks near the stadium. These people are fallout from a personal disaster not of their making.

My goal is, like I told my friend, is to shine the spotlight on the good guys. We know who the bad guys are but do we know any of the good ones? I didn’t until today. Did you know that yesterday kicked off the PSU “100 Days to THON”, an event that last year raised over NINE million dollars for pediatric cancer research? I didn’t. Did you know that this is the largest student run philanthropic organization in the world? I didn’t. Did you know that a group called PSU Hope is holding a candlelight vigil tonight to honor and reach out to the victims of these terrible crimes? I didn’t. Did you know that what is normally a nationally recognized “WhiteOut” at Saturday’s game has been changed to “BlueOut” in support of the fight against child abuse? I didn’t.  

What I do know is that there is so much more where those few examples came from. I know that this institution is grieving and wants to change the focus of this circus back to where it belongs – on the victims and their families, back to prevention of child abuse, back to reaching out to those affected by this horrible situation. 

Darkness is simply the absence of light. Light has been shined upon the evil that was visited upon helpless children and that glare is deservedly bright. But there is a shadow that has been cast upon the innocent bystanders of this school and they could stand some light too. Let’s remember that Penn State is more than Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Mike McQuery, etc., and they want to help. To make things right. To be a part of the solution. To say with one voice, “This is not who we are.”

Throwdown in Tuscaloosa

In Football on November 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

So while I realize that the entire college football world is talking about what I’m going to call the national championship semi-final, I would be remiss as a wannabe sports writer not to throw my two cents in as well. Truly, I have been looking forward to this game for weeks – basically since the moment it became apparent that these two teams were going to beat the crap out of pretty much every team they played.  I’m a closet Tide fan anyway, (and no, not just recently), so I follow them behind the scenes of my front page Gamecock obsession. LSU stays on the radar as well, if for no other reason than because of the conference affiliation. 

Honestly, I just can’t decide what I think about the outcome of this game. LSU’s Les Miles is some kind of mad genius with, forgive my language, balls of steel. Nick Saban of Alabama is widely considered to be the Dark Lord of football, turning players into special forces operatives. Both teams have amazing, deep talent all over both sides of the ball. Both teams are undefeated.

Here are some stats that may help those of you who like me, are really on the fence about who you think emerge the victor.

Under Les Miles, LSU is 18-1 in night games played on the road.  Under Saban, BAMA is 26-1 at home.

Ranked Opponents faced:

LSU:5
BAMA: 3

Average ranks for opponents total offense:

LSU: 71
BAMA: 95

Average ranks for opponents total defense:

LSU: 46
BAMA: 51

Sacks and Turnovers forced:

LSU: 19/18
BAMA: 17/14

Offensive balance (passing yards / rushing yards):

LSU: 1465/1512
BAMA: 1827/1834

Thanks to Saturday Down South’s Robert Hopkins for the summary! http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/blogs/calling-baton-rouge/

Honestly, I don’t really think that there is any predicting this game. All I know is that it is going to be AWESOME. My pick is Bama but I’m really going on emotion because I just can’t decide.

Check out this video, also from Saturday Down South – goosebumpy! http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/2011/are-you-ready/

I’m so stoked about this one that I keep forgetting about the other game I’m supposed to watching, USC v Arkansas…and y’all, I’ve had it up to the proverbial here with everyone discounting the Gamecocks. Yes, Arkansas has an outstanding offense. Yes, South Carolina is hampered by injuries and will definitely miss Marcus Lattimore’s run game much more so than last week against Tennessee. But everyone seems to forget that the Gamecock defense is one of the best in the nation. I’ll repeat: The best. In the. Nation. Gilmore, Ingram, Allen – these guys are good and so is the rest of the defense as well. I’m confident they will not be sitting around wringing their hands before this game.

Stats don’t lie y’all, so deciding that Carolina has lost this game before they even get there is absurd. Yes, the offense is re-learning how to do pretty much everything – run without Marcus, throw with Connor, return with Sanders etc, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. I agree that the Gamecock defense is going to have to lean on the Hog offense with everything they’ve got because if Arkansas pulls out ahead far enough, I don’t know that the Carolina offense can catch up. But I feel still strongly that this is going to be a game.

Clemson is off this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier about that because I just do not have the energy for them on top of Bama/LSU and USC/Ark. Oh and last week when I said that The Citadel was boring me so badly I couldn’t even come up with anything to say about them?  I think they must have heard me somehow because they actually played an exciting game against VMI that included THREE blocked punts, which is awesome no matter who you are. The Dogs go to Georgia Southern this weekend, and I really hope the momentum is with them and that the second half of their season goes better than the first.

Alrighty then y’all – I hope you enjoy football this weekend as much as I plan to ’cause it’s going to be EPIC!!!  And as always, have a very happy and safe Gameday!

Gameday Greatness

In Football, Inspiration on November 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

In this age of being so connected, it so often seems that we are inundated with nothing but bad news. This carries through into the world of college sports, with so much talk about cheating, drinking, drugs, and other selfish/destructive behavior. So much so that I would like to point out some examples of the positive.

Like this past summer in St. Joseph, Missouri, where two members of the Missouri Western football team spotted a woman frantically trying to get into her car. It was August and exceptionally hot, so the behavior struck these two young men as odd, and they went to investigate. Turns out, the woman had accidentally locked her keys in her car along with her toddler grandson. All her efforts to break into the car were not effective and the baby was beginning to get sick and losing consciousness. Defensive back Shane Simpson took one swing at the window and that was all she wrote – little Liam was out of the car and back into his granny’s arms. Completely unscathed other than some minor dehydration.

Check out this tear-jerker. At Middlebury College in Vermont, there is a tradition called “Picking Up Butch”. The story originated in 1960, when a student named Ralph helped a grandmother with her grandson Butch’s wheelchair after a game on a snowy day. The tradition has carried on with various student athletes assisting Butch to this day. During football season, the basketball players pick Butch up for games and during basketball season, the football players take over. Butch suffers from cerebral palsy, and in 2003, was able to earn his GED with the help of, you guessed it, a Middlebury student athlete named Sara.

And in Michigan, MSU has begun what I hope will become a tradition forever. Ticket holders can donate their tickets to an exchange so that the children nominated have an opportunity to see the Spartans in action. I love this idea, because college football can be pretty cost prohibitive anyway, especially given the current economic situation of this country. Michigan has been even more hard hit than the bulk of the US, so the idea of affording children an opportunity to witness the awesomeness of a football game is fantastic!

Last but not least, let’s not forget Eric LeGrand. Eric suffered a horrific spinal cord injury last season while on defense for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Originally told he was paralyzed from the neck down, Eric has been making steady improvement over the last year and now is able to stand for about 40 minutes at a time. Currently an analyst for the Rutgers radio network, Eric led the Knights onto the field last week via motorized wheelchair. Not only have the Rutgers faithful rallied around Eric, he is motivating others to keep believing that odds are there to be overcome and that faith can move mountains. I wish Eric all the best in his rehabilitation and recovery.

I’m glad to read about these people, and I’d love to know more of these stories. In today’s depressing times, I need all the inspiration I can get. If anyone reading has something similar they’d like to share, I would love to hear about it…and as always, have a happy and safe Gameday!