I’ve never understood it. I never will understand it. The late-game squib kick to prevent a big runback. I don’t get it. Why hand your opponent 30 yards of field position at the most crucial moment of the game? Why just give them 30 precious yards? I don’t get it.
UCLA scores a touchdown with 27-seconds left to take a three point lead over Tennessee last night. And instead of kicking deep—inside the five or into the end zone—they pooch it. They squib it. The Vols wind up with the ball near their own 45. They only need two first downs to get into game-tying field goal position. They get the two first downs. And they tie the game.
Aren’t the odds, aren’t the statistics, aren’t the trends going to show that nine times out of ten you’re going to cover your kick and make the tackle inside the 25? Why do these football coaches who rely so much on their “charts” and numbers and facts—who never stray from what the odds say, who dogmatically hold onto their numbers with a white-knuckle death grip—why do they throw all that out the window when it comes to these late-game squib kicks? If UCLA executes a normal kick and everything goes like it normally does for them, Tennessee has to make four or five first downs to tie the game instead of two.
I’m bothered by what passes as serious political discourse now in this country. Of course, this has been coming for decades. It didn’t just happen overnight. But still…
How is it possible that Larry King can put together a panel of four that consists of a comedienne, a congresswoman, a dot.com reporter, and a democratic strategist and spend one full hour talking about what they all swear is a non-story and all of America deems it serious? What’s wrong with us? Have you noticed that during the political conventions the networks won’t give us any of the speeches except for those made between 9:00 – 10:00pm? They all come on the air at 8:00 but they spend that first hour talking about stages and wardrobes and sets and strategies while some of the best speeches are taking place behind them.
While former presidents and current governors are speaking, the network anchors promise, “We’ll bring you portions of these speeches later.” And then they get right down to the much more important matters at hand: Hillary’s pants suits, Obama’s basketball game, one man’s journey to Denver from New Jersey, and just how many fireworks are they going to shoot on the last night? And the whole thing’s in a football stadium! As someone else observed: Mile High, Inch Deep.
We no longer want political discourse. We want entertainment. We don’t want to hear about the issues or think about the candidates themselves. We want to be entertained. If that weren’t true, C-SPAN and PBS would have the highest rated news hours.
Neil Postman saw all this coming when he wrote “Amusing Ourselves to Death” in 1985. He quotes Robert MacNeil on the idealogy behind television news:
“The idea is to keep everything brief, not to strain the attention of anyone but instead to provide constant stimulation through variety, novelty, action, and movement. You are required to pay attention to no concept, no character, and no problem for more than a few seconds at a time. Bite-sized is best, complexity must be avoided, nuances are dispensable, qualifications impede the simple message, visual stimulation is a substitute for thought.”
Postman concludes in his work that “Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.”
Searching for serious political discourse for the past couple of weeks on TV has been futile and frustrating. It’s not there. And we don’t seem to mind.
The KK&C Top 20 College Football Poll is out. I’m not sure if it’s because of the Labor Day holiday or the fact that this was the first regular weekend, but we only had eight of our 20 panelists turn in a poll. Most of the slackers have apologized and they’ve all been sequestered in a dark room and are being forced to watch a replay of the SMU-Rice game as punishment.
But the poll must go on. And here it is. USC has leapfrogged Georgia to the #1 spot. Alabama makes its first appearance at #15. And Penn State’s in there for the first time at #17. Clemson’s loss dropped them eight places to #20 while Illinois’ weekend knocked them completely out of the poll. The poll was compiled prior to Tennessee’s gag last night at UCLA.
September 2, 2008
1. USC (5-1st place votes, 154 total) “Weak Pac-10 schedule plus Ohio St. at home plus much talent equals undefeated regular season” A.G.; ”Talent, talent, talent” B.W.; “Can you say ‘National Champs?’ If only they can get by Stanford” JimG.
2. Georgia (2, 145) “If good guys finish first, Mark Richt’s team will there when it’s all said and done.” JimG.; “May not know ’til we get to SEC” P.D.; “Too many problems—on and off the field—to stay this high” C.J.
3. Ohio St. (139) “Hoping the Wells won’t run dry” B.W., early favorite for Skip Bayless line of the year; “Will run the table after losing to USC” A.G.; “O-ver-ra-ted. Clap-clap-clap,clap,clap” JimG.;
4. Oklahoma (134) “Dominant team in Big 12″ A.G.; “The only thing stopping the Sooners was the thunderstorm delay” JimG.;
5. Florida (133) “Great team, tough schedule” A.G.; “Will replace Georgia as #1 SEC team when all is said and done” C.J.; “A good QB can carry a team” B.W.
6. LSU (1, 127) “Can’t keep the champs out of Top 10 until they’re knocked out” C.J.
7. Missouri (117) “Much respect for taking on a Top 20 opponent right off the bat” J.S.; “Experience plus talent equals success” C.J.; “Their QB was rocking, I quit watching an SEC game to turn to this one!” JennG.; “Offense unstoppable against Illinois” A.G. “Oh, for a little defense” JimG.
8. West Virginia (95) “Weak schedule” A.G.; “Always good against the inferior Big East” C.J.
9. Texas (91) “Not sure they are ready for the Top 10″ B.W.; “Enjoy it while the schedule is cream puff!” C.J.; “Licking their chops to pay back Arkansas” JimG.; “Ho-hum” P.D.
10. Auburn (89) “Typical Tuberville team doing it with defense and special teams” JimG.
11. Kansas (70) “What did Mark Mangino weigh following preseason camp?” JimG.
tie 11. Wisconsin (70) “Don’t know much about them, ESPN says they’re good and they never exaggerate.” C.J.; “Trembling over their pending trip to Fresno” JimG.
13. Texas Tech (60) “Will move down as soft defense is exploited” C.J.; “The defense is supposed to be better, so far it’s worse” J.S.
14. Arizona St. (45) “Until they play USC” B.W.
15. Alabama (43) “Impressive win against Clemson” A.G.; “Will move up” C.J.; “The dark horse that may not be so dark now” P.D.; “Looking like a real team this year, John Parker Wilson looks so much better” JennG.; “What a difference a Fresno State offensive coordinator makes” JimG.
16. Tennessee (38) “Despite better thoughts, Rick Neuheisel puts his money on the Vols” JimG., a great line reduced to meaninglessness after last night’s loss to UCLA; “I’m keeping them in the top 15 because I’m hoping for a win tonight” JennG., D’oh!;
17. Oregon (28) “Would be higher if they had real uniforms” B.W.;
tie 17. Penn St. (28) “Joe Pa, the Legend, has all the engines running” C.J.; “Maybe better than predicted” P.D.; “As long as everyone is on the field” B.W.; “Are he and Bobby Bowden going to toss the ‘winningest coach’ award around until one of them dies?” JennG.
19. BYU (26) “Who needs a running game?” JimG.
20. Clemson (20) “Outcoached and outplayed dramatically by Saban and Alabama” P.D.; “Wasn’t a believer before and I’m not one now” J.S.; “”Thunder and Lightening was a no-show” JennG.
Also receiving votes: South Florida (12); Illinois (7) “They will make someone pay” P.D.; “They will be back” J.S.; Fresno St. (6) “This year’s BCS-Buster!” JimG.; Wake Forest (3); Arkansas St. (1) “Anyone who can win playing with eleven against twelve should be in the Top 20″ B.W.
Charlie Johanson was actually at Saturday’s Aggies game in College Station and reports, “We have a pretty good team this year except for our offense, defense, and special teams.”
Folks, that’s the kind of insight and opinion you’re only going to get on this blog.
Charlie also had one of the better lines of the weekend when he threw out this gem about Wisconsin, “I don’t know much about them. ESPN says they’re good and they never exaggerate.”
Jim Gardner also had this to say about his Tennessee pick, “Despite better thoughts, Rick Neuheisel put his money on the Vols.” A great line rendered meaningless by last night’s UCLA upset.
For the latest poll and pictures and bios of all the panelists, just click on the green “KK&C Top 20” tab in the upper right hand corner of this page.
What a fantastic weekend in Arkansas with Keith and Amanda and their family and Jimmy and Elizabeth and the Northside Church of Christ in Benton. Much more on that tomorrow.