Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Texas Tech football, Secrets of being 90 years old, Movies to forget

For the most part I am not a devoted fan of football, even though I have a love for the game. Generally the difference between loving the game and being a fan is totally different, in my opinion. The purveyor and lover of the sport is one that generally knows something about the game and understands the x's and o's. While on the other hand the fan has probably never played the game, has no real clue what it means to develop the play calling series, or what the lead blocker is, or why T.O. is such a bad influence on any "team." They just see his theatrics and think it is good football, NOT!! Now I know this doesn't seem to make any sense at this point but I believe as you read along you will get the point. It came as a surprise to me that I agreed to attend the Texas Tech-Baylor football game last Saturday, since I had a long bike ride planned and it was a beautiful day in West Texas. But, alas, my long time friend of 40 years called with one extra ticket and invited me to fill that empty seat, along with 50,000 others. It should be pointed out that this friend is not just an "ordinary" friend, he knows football and played the game. My calculations revealed that between us we had played the game a total of 24 years counting from grade school on to college and some Army football. So, here we are sitting side by side expounding on all our knowledge and watching Coach Leach whip up on the Baylor Bears. As we watched and commented to each other on the game and how it was being played I decided that Coach Leach didn't have a chance with these two know it alls. We determined that Leach was without a doubt the best average 8 wins per year $1.5 million coach in college football. In 2009 he will be making $2 million, so then he will be the most overpaid, average 8 wins per season coach in college football. Back to my story, ole Higgins(Hig to his friends), and I sat there patiently watching the Raiders get beat by an average team and then all of a sudden wake up and enjoy their talent and move ahead. Hig and I watch the game by not watching the ball, but by watching the plays develop from the middle of the action. By watching the ball, as most fans do,you miss the blocking patterns, the reactions of the linebackers keying off of the lineman, the holes opening up for the running back, the defensive backs keying off of the receivers, the receivers running their patterns, and then the quarterback either handing off to the running back or throwing the pass down field, or across the middle on the down and in slant or down and out(Tech runs this pass pattern probably as good as anyone I have ever seen, it is their thing for getting key short gain yardage. Since the days of the 3 downs and a cloud of dust days are over(meaning the main focus is on running the football to gain yardage and touchdowns)and the wide open "West Coast"(could be called West Texas now)passing game is the thing, Hig pointed out that Tech had only run the ball one time in the first quarter of play and had thrown nine straight passes. Since it did result in a touchdown all was well. The other thing we noted about this passing game stuff is that the games last much longer, of course this was a televised game so they also take longer for the fans in the stands. You might as well forget the late afternoon bicycle ride you had planned because this dude of a ball game is going to take all of the afternoon up. As it appeared that Tech would win, with a 52-21 lead with a little over 8 minutes to go, Hig suggested we go stand in the end zone and watch the game from there. His purpose for suggesting this was twofold, we could get a jump on the crowd at the exits, but also we could watch from the end zone and see the plays develop from a perspective that is not possible from the side line angle. I must add that the running football team is much more fun to watch from the end zone than the passing team. In the running game the lineman are fun to watch as they come off the line to block the defensive giants, then the running back takes the ball and works his way through the hole created by these lineman. In the case of a counter or trap play you see the guards pull to the right or left and put the crunching block on the defensive tackle or middle guard while the lead blocking back takes out the linebackers. A good running back will then put his moves on the defensive back and make the score. That is of course the best case scenario and is fun to watch from the end zone. In the case of the passing team it is just the sight of seeing the lineman go to their stand up, stooped over pass block position with the wide out receivers doing their thing and the quarterback lobbing the ball over to them, ho hum, yawn, etc. Darrell Royal, one of the great college coaches one said there are three things that can happen to the forward pass and two of them are bad. I know he has got to be shaking his head with what is going on now in college football. Bottom line here is that Hig and I had a great day of analyzing, theorizing, and offering opinions that absolutely no one else in the stadium gave a damn about. But, who cares we paid for our tickets(actually Hig did)and we can offer what ever opinions we want. Tech went on to win by 55-21, while scoring a field goal in the last 2 minutes. One thing about Leach is that he never lets up, if he can win by 100 points, call a time out with 2 seconds left so he can score again he will. I don't have a problem with that actually since that is what it is all about, winning and winning big. While Tech's record is now 6-4 they are considered bowl eligible with two games to play. They will play Oklahoma Sooners this weekend and will lose and then Oklahoma State Cowboys the concluding week of the season and may win, so that will give them a 7-5 season and they will be invited to the Insignificant Bowl or Toilet Bowl or if they are real lucky they will get to play in that beautiful city of Shreveport, LA in the Independence Bowl. Hey dude, get on down to the ticket counter right now, they may sell out.

During my college days I enrolled in ROTC(Reserve Officers Training Corps) and when I did this I really didn't know what I was getting into. But, as I progressed over the 4 year program I figured out I would graduate from college and ROTC as a commissioned officer in the US Army. This meant I would not get drafted(the old days, remember when you could get drafted and be a private in the Army making $77.00 per month)and would serve as an officer and a gentleman, by act of Congress. Since I was an athlete it seemed to be a double edge sword to me, be macho in football/track, be macho in the military. There were very few double teamers and it gave me the chance to be with people other than athletes, or military people. It is what I defined as cross culturing(a term I still use, i.e. triathloning, bowling, golf, Hog riding, writing, selling, business ownership, etc.). Well during these ROTC days at UT-Arlington I had a professor of military science that I will never forget. He was a great teacher and became one of my heroes. He took particular interest in me and even encouraged me to pursue the US Army Pentathlon team with the ultimate goal of making the Olympic team. I was flattered that he would think this highly of my athletic ability but I just never convinced myself I could do all those events on such a high level of expertise. The funny thing is now after all these years I have determined that if I had the same mind set back then(42 years ago) I have today I may have taken him up on the challenge. Oh woe is me, moving out of comfort zones takes time and maturity. Botton line is that I got my degree, received my commission and went on to serve 24.5 years total service with a nice retirement as a Lt. Colonel. So, Colonel George McDowell was a great teacher and mentor to me and I truly thank him. Recently he was interviewed in the UT-Arlington Newspaper and was ask, "what is the secret of getting to be 90 years old?" His reply: 1. Stay mentally challenged every day with tangible results. 2. After age 70, associate with only younger people. 3. Discard that rocking chair idea of retirement and stay active-walk-exercise. 4. Get seven hours sleep minimum each night. 5. Take a 45-minute nap every afternoon. 6. After that nap, have a good bourbon Old Fashioned before dinner. 7. On leaving the doctor's office if he does not shout "whatever you are doing keep doing it," get a new doctor and second opinion. Follow these rules and your chances will be greatly enhanced. From the Greerman, how lucky I am to have had such great teachers and influences on my life. RE-READ THE ABOVE SEVEN POINTS, THEY ARE GREAT!!!!

Movies to forget: "Facing the Giants"*(only because the popcorn was great and there was a football story to it). This is a low budget movie put out by a Southern Baptist Church in Georgia. It's so polyanna it makes Disney look like low life scum from the drug infested neighborhoods of New York City. What a bummer of polyanna bulls**t!! "The Prestige"** Two stars only because of the actors(Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale),and the story was good, but the way it was presented graded against it. A series of flashbacks were used that made it so complicated you couldn't figure out what flashback you were in or why they were even needed. At the end I looked at Marti and ask, "am I just totally stupid here, since I never really got the major points?" She commented that she didn't get it either. But, what can I say, she hangs out with me and it is probably rubbing off on her. So, you can go see great acting, a great story line, even good motives and action of the story line, but for the life of me there are some major things missing. Go try it during the matinee or $2 movie house.

Today is election day, so let's go vote for the candidate of our choice. My man Kinky will be running as an Independent for Governor. The last time an Independent ran for Governor of Texas was 130 years ago. The candidate was Sam Houston and he had to be drug out from under a bridge, while drunk, to accept the nomination. That wouldn't work today. Let's go vote!!



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