The Sammy Awards 2011 – Episode III: Revenge of the Phantom Fellowship

Welcome back to the exciting conclusion of the 2011 Sammy Awards. Thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to leave comments on who you would have nominated, your thoughts on the winners & losers, and ideas you’d like to see incorporated into next year’s show.

 

To present our next award please welcome the 99th most followed celebrity on Twitter, Academy award winning actor Tom Hanks. And the nominees are:

The Twitter Award for Best Water Cooler Topic

Tablet Computers & iPhone4GS

First we had desktops. Then laptops became ubiquitous. Now it seems we are heading toward a society where everyone surfs The Net, listens to music, and watches movies on an iPad, Kindle Fire, or any of the other similar devices that flooded the market in 2011. The other big techie toy this year was the new iPhone, which doesn’t seem like that much of an upgrade from the previous model. No worries though…they’ll come out with something else in a few months.

 

The Return of Beavis & Butt-Head

When I was in college in the early 90’s one of our favorite shows was MTV’s animated ode to slackers, created by Mike Judge before he wrote the cult classic film Office Space. This year, after a 14 year absence, the boys returned to television and it’s as if they never left, only now instead of making fun of music videos (which MTV doesn’t even show anymore), our two favorite idiots critique drivel like Jersey Shore, 16 & Pregnant, and Teen Mom. And you know what?? It’s still really funny.

 

Death of Amy Winehouse

On July 23rd this lush keeled over & croaked due to alcohol poisoning. Shocker. I couldn’t identify one of her songs if my life depended on it because I have taste & class. But apparently she did have her following and they were sad for about 5 minutes until something else grabbed their short attention spans.

 

Jerry Lewis & MDA Part Ways

Jerry Lewis hadn’t been relevant as an entertainer since The Nixon Administration, but until 2011 he still continued to be welcomed into our living rooms every Labor Day as host for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Toward the end of 2010 MDA announced that the normally 21.5 hour show would be scaled back to just a 6 hour broadcast on Sunday night. Then in May of this year it was proclaimed by the organization that 2011 would be Jerry’s last as host but that he would remain as their national chairman and would continue to close each telethon with his signature tearjerker tune You’ll Never Walk Alone. But in August, just a few weeks before Labor Day, MDA announced that Lewis was finished as both host & chairman, effective immediately. It is still a mystery whether he was fired or quit for some reason. The local station in my hometown that had always carried the event in its entirety decided not to do so at all this year, so I didn’t even get to see the stripped down version. Oh sure I could have tuned in online, but that’s just not the same. And neither will future Labor Day Weekends be without Jerry Lewis. It’s a shame that a treasured piece of Americana had to end with such a whimper.

 

The End of Oprah

On May 25, 2011 Satan’s Minion ended her talk show of 25 years, leaving millions of bored housewives, gays & lesbians, and unemployed, unfulfilled losers of all shapes & sizes curled up in the fetal position wondering what they were going to do with their lives. Hey now…don’t cry…you’ve still got Dr. Phil!!

 

The “New” Facebook

A few months ago Facebook users by the millions flipped the hell out when the site implemented a number of pretty radical changes like a “ticker” and a revamped news feed. I’m a big fan of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, and Zuckerberg & his crew just seemed to be tinkering with something that didn’t need changed. However, eventually everyone got over their displeasure and continued to enjoy the site. Now Facebook is rolling out another new deal called Timeline. I took the opportunity to switch over to Timeline a couple of months ago and, unlike the previous changes, I rather like it and will be surprised if it incites much rage.

 

Hanks Williams Jr. Booted From Monday Night Football

A version of Hank Williams Jr.’s song All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight had been used as the theme song for Monday Night Football since 1991. That all changed after an October 3rd interview the singer gave on Fox News in which he likened President Obama playing golf with Speaker of the House John Boehner to Hitler playing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The liberal drive by media…including the pantywaists at ESPN…predictably got their knickers in a twist because NO ONE is allowed to criticize their boy Barack Hussein Obama. ESPN made the decision to stop utilizing the tune altogether, and Bocephus called them out on their BS in his own inimitable way.

 

Kim Kardashian Marriage/Divorce

Do I really have to go into this?? I hate wasting even one iota of effort writing about this mind numbingly idiotic twit. We already know that she is a useless waste of space whose only redeeming quality is a fine caboose & a great rack and that her entire family is just as maddeningly unnecessary to humanity as she is. After years of toying with poor Dolphins RB Reggie Bush and leading Cowboys receiver Miles Austin on for about 5 minutes she moved on in 2011 to another semi-famous, quasi-rich athlete, New Jersey Nets bench warmer Kris Humphries. Within 6 months they were engaged and by August had a multimillion dollar wedding that, if my information is correct, she & her family were paid handsomely for so it could be broadcast on television. Unfortunately wedded bliss wasn’t in the cards and 72 days later Ms. Kardashian filed for divorce. And sadly, the tabloids, the entertainment TV shows, and the empty headed masses ate it up. Here’s an idea…go read a book, play with your kids (in the family sense, not in the Penn St. way), and get right with God. Quit paying any attention to this slut.

 

PA Teacher Writes Scathing Blog

30 year old  Natalie Munroe, a Doylestown, Pennsylvania (about 30 miles north of Philly) English teacher was suspended back in February after some parents discovered her blog. The issue stemmed from Ms. Munroe’s blatantly honest comments about what she’d really like to write on her students’ report cards for their parents’ perusal…things like “I hear the trash company is hiring”, “I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son”, “rude, belligerent, argumentative fuck”, “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”, “Shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.”, and “Am concerned that your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.)”. Now I’m not a teacher, and maybe her opinions aren’t necessarily socially acceptable, but I’d be willing to be she was spot on in her observations. Munroe eventually got her job back, and I assume she’s just keeping her opinions to herself nowadays, helping the system to mass produce worker drones willing to work for minimum wage to supplement their Welfare.

 

Angry Birds

Apparently it’s some sort of game. I’ve heard it’s rather addictive. I’ve never played it and most likely never will.

 

 

The Homeless Guy with the Golden Voice

Right after New Year’s a newspaper reporter recorded an interview with a homeless man wandering the mean streets of Columbus, OH. That man, 54 year old Ted Williams, just so happened to have a deep, booming voice made for radio, which was in fact his career of choice before drug & alcohol abuse and legal problems derailed his life in the late 1980’s. A video of that interview was posted on YouTube and went viral, making Williams an overnight sensation. He appeared on talk shows and received a plethora of job offers, most notably from MSNBC, Kraft Foods, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately the sudden fame caused Williams to fall off the wagon. Dr. Phil got involved and sent him to rehab, but he pulled a Lohan & left after less than 2 weeks. The job offers began to disappear. Fortunately though, Ted Williams eventually went back in to rehab and to my knowledge is now gainfully employed and off the streets. God speed to him in all his future endeavors.

 

The End of Harry Potter

After 7 books and 8 films the Harry Potter phenomenon came to a close in 2011 with the release of the final movie. The great thing about books & movies though is that we can continue to enjoy them for many years to come, and new generations have the opportunity to do the same if they so choose. All great things must come to an end, but what a ride it was.

 

Cancellation of All My Children & One Life to Live

When I was a young lad in elementary school my sister & I had a babysitter that got us hooked on soap operas…specifically Days of Our Lives & General Hospital. As I grew older I got interested in other soaps like Guiding Light, Another World, & As the World Turns. Then a few years back I added One Life to Live to the rotation. AW was cancelled in 1999. GL got the axe in 2009 and ATWT ended in 2010. In 2011 ABC announced that it was cancelling 2 out of its 3 soaps…All My Children & One Life to Live. I never really got into AMC, but I realize it was extremely popular, mainly due to star Susan Lucci. That show left the air on September 23, 2011, with OLTL scheduled to end on January 13, 2012. Millions of fans have expressed outrage, but it’s just a different world nowadays. Women, the original target audience for soaps, are in the workforce and not home during the day to watch TV. The Internet draws peoples’ attention away from television as well. And unfortunately suits & bean counters have discovered that producing talk shows is cheaper than soap operas. Ah well…atleast I still have DOOL & GH…for now.

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Ted Williams. I must admit that this choice is slanted in favor of my own personal interests. I refuse to honor that horrible piece of garbage Kim Kardashian, and neither will I bestow an award on Hell’s favorite talk show hostess. Williams’ story both touched me and brought out my usual cynicism. Oh sure he must shoulder the blame for his own failures like drug & alcohol abuse and his various arrests. However, I’m all for second chances. I think we all knew that the overnight notoriety & media attention was likely to cause a backslide, which it did. But it seems as if, once the spotlight dimmed a bit, Mr. Williams started making the right decisions to get his life back on the right path. Hopefully the turnaround will continue and 2012 will hold good things for him & his family.

 

 

 

Unlike Charles Barkley, the titular “honoree” for which this award is named will not be presenting it, because there is no way on God’s green Earth your humble Potentate of Profundity would let that disgusting cow sully these proceedings. Instead, we go in the opposite direction by welcoming three of the world’s most beautiful women: Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria, & Mandy Moore. And the nominees are:

The Rosie O’Donnell Memorial Just Go Away Award

The Entire Kardashian Family

These people disgust me. I truly believe it has gotten to the point that they are an actively negative force in American culture. My heart weeps for the millions of teenage girls who watch this hogwash and are in any way influenced by these evil, repulsive harlots. Even poor Bruce Jenner…a former Olympic hero for God’s sake…has been sucked into the void and just mindlessly does whatever his control freak of a wife commands. It’s sickening and needs to be stopped.

Lindsay Lohan

Okay, so she finally got naked for Playboy. But she even managed to screw that up by not showing us anything we hadn’t already seen. I just cannot stand even the mere mention of her name at this point. Only in Hollywood would a crack whore still receive endless opportunities to make millions of dollars and remain famous. It’s sort of disheartening for the masses in flyover country who rarely get a second chance if they make even one tiny mistake.

 

Michael Moore

What a revolting slob!! And he’s a liberal wackjob to boot. I don’t think he actually did anything noteworthy this year except make an appearance at the stupid Occupy Wall Street protest, which is ironic since he is a multimillionaire himself. At any rate, occasionally he’ll ruin a perfectly good late night show by showing up, spewing his uninformed hate, and making me want to vomit.

 

Lady Gaga

Here’s the sad thing about this chic…she’s actually quite lovely and can really sing. But I guess one has to have a gimmick these days, do wacky stuff to grab attention, and sing songs filled with lewd & suggestive lyrics. Whatever happened to class??

 

Skip Bayless

I really dig my ESPN sports talk shows, but this pompous know-it-all has absolutely ruined First Take for me to the point where it’s not even watchable anymore. For some reason the powers-that-be retooled the show so that it pretty much revolves around Bayless arguing the stories du jour with a revolving cast of “opponents”. The folks in Bristol have totally beaten the formula to death, but atleast other shows like Mike & Mike, Around the Horn, & Pardon the Interruption pull it off in such a way that I am not immediately tempted to hurl an object at my TV screen. Not only is Bayless arrogant & self-absorbed, but he’s usually so wrong about his opinions that it’s laughable. And he is the absolute #1 offender in regard to shoving Tim Tebow down America’s throat. I would love to see the statistics, but I would bet anything that Bayless and his posse have talked about Tebow on every single show for the past 6 months. Give it a rest already!!

 

The “Ladies” of The View

Without a doubt one of the more torturous exercises in futility is watching these twits sit around a table and attempt to intelligently discuss the “hot topics” of the day. Whoopi, Joy, Barbara, & the short fat chic who is so superfluous that I don‘t even remember her name are clueless, spiteful, and arrogant. Honestly watching Full House reruns seems like Shakespeare in comparison. And as much as I dig token conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck she is just so overmatched against the 4 other big mouthed morons that the poor gal hasn’t got a chance. I beg of ABC…PLEASE cancel this drivel, or atleast sell it to Oprah’s “network”…same difference.

 

Justin Beiber

I couldn’t name one of his songs if I had two guns pointed at my head, but every soccer mom and 12 year old girl in America seems to love him. I’m sick & tired of hearing his name and seeing him on my TV. Plus he needs a haircut.

 

Reality TV

The ironic thing about reality television is that there is hardly anything real about it. Anyone who watches The Bachelor/Bachelorette and thinks it is an accurate representation of dating & falling in love needs to just hurl themselves off the nearest tall building immediately. The same criticism can be made of craptastic stupidity like The Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, Wife Swap, Teen Mom, and just about every reality show on TV. I know these shows are cheaper to produce, which is why they have grown exponentially in the past decade, but I miss the days when some talented writers would get together with some talented actors and make a fictional show that allowed people to e-s-c-a-p-e reality and be entertained for 30-60 minutes.

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

You saw this coming didn’t you?? Yes, I’m sure you did. For the 2nd straight year we have a tie!! This year it is an 8 way tie. ALL of these wastes-of-space need to stop taking up valuable oxygen & other resources immediately. I can think of no better way to immediately improve this great nation.

 

 

 

To present our final award of the evening, please welcome the melodious & soothing voice of TV new personality Harry Smith. And the nominees are:

Biggest U.S. News Story

Shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

On January 8 an assassination attempt on 3 term Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords captured the attention of the entire nation. Giffords was speaking to constituents outside a Safeway grocery store when some nutjob opened fire, injuring more than a dozen people and killing 6, including a nine year old little girl. Predictably liberals in Washington DC seized the opportunity to begin furthering their gun control agenda, but that poppycock fell on deaf ears and the tragedy became bigger than politics. Giffords continues to recover, but still has some communication issues and has lost some of her eyesight.

 

Race for the Republican Nomination

Incumbent President Obama is, unsurprisingly, going to be unopposed for his own party’s nomination in 2012. However, the fight for the right to face Obama in the general election got in to full swing in 2011, with nearly a dozen Republicans battling it out as we head into primary season early next year. No single candidate has really taken control of the contest, with several of the contestants having their turn in the spotlight, and a few have already fallen by the wayside. Unfortunately I don’t think the conservative base will be all that enamored with whoever ends up with the nomination because none of them seem to really be what we were hoping for.

 

Unemployment

Nearly ¾ of the way thru President Obama’s first (and hopefully only) term the unemployment rate still hovers around 9%. In comparison unemployment under George W. Bush was below 8%, Reagan, Clinton, & Bush ‘41 just above 7%, and even Jimmy Carter…usually considered one of the 20th Centuries worst Presidents…only 7.5%. Obama can no longer realistically blame W. for the poor economy, and the American people know it.

 

End of the Space Shuttle Program

The three decades old space shuttle program came to a close with the final mission of Atlantis in July. Now if an American wants to go to space they have to catch a ride with the Russians. Somewhere JFK is rolling over in his grave (if he is really dead that is). I guess NASA has some new ideas in the hopper, which is fine. Until those plans materialize though the lack of an active space exploration program further diminishes the concept of American exceptionalism, which I’m sure puts a smile on the faces of the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

Fast & Furious

A 2001 film starring Vin Diesel & Paul Walker. No…wait…that’s not it. Apparently this was some sort of gun running operation by the U.S. ATF. I don’t know. The movie never interested me so when this story was dubbed with that name I pretty much decided not to pay attention right from the very beginning.

 

NY Legalizes Gay Marriage

On July 24 New York passed legislation allowing same sex marriage. My Bible tells me that this behavior is vile, against nature, and an abomination. Your mileage may vary, and we will just have to agree to disagree.

 

Death of Steve Jobs

Nerds nationwide mourned the untimely passing of the founder of Apple Computers on October 5th (my birthday) due to pancreatic cancer. I am not all that technologically savvy, but I know enough to realize that Jobs belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the modern computer age.

 

Hurricane Irene

Near the end of August Irene made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Its path of destruction, mostly from flooding, extended clear up into the New York/New Jersey area, causing 56 deaths and $7 billion in damage.

 

10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

America marked the decade anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks with modest ceremonies in New York, DC, and Shanksville, PA, as well as the requisite reflective coverage on television. So much has been said & written about that horrible day 10 years ago that I cannot add anything new. Just know that, for the victims & their families, we will n-e-v-e-r forget.

 

Deadly Tornado Hits Joplin, MO

On May 22 the small town of Joplin, about 70 miles west of Springfield, was hit with an F5 tornado that killed 160 people, injured nearly 1000, and did nearly $3 billion in damage. It was the costliest tornado in the history of the United States.

 

Occupy Wall St. Movement

Class warfare has been an effective tool for liberals in this country for centuries. Some people hate anyone who has more than them. That hatred reached a new peak in the fall of 2011 when a group of protesters decided to stage a massive sit-in at a park near New York City’s Wall Street, the financial epicenter of the nation. To my knowledge the protests…which have spawned numerous similar demonstrations nationwide…continue to this day. This kind of crap is the direct result of media & pop culture romanticization of the 1960’s. Instead of trying to learn from the wealthy and duplicate their success there is a whole new generation of dirty hippies that just want to sit around whining, bitching, and moaning about “big business” while they ignore the real problem, which is “big government”.

 

End of the War in Iraq

The nearly decade long Iraq conflict that began on the heels of 9/11 and the War on Terrorism came to an official close on December 5, 2011. I happen to believe that at one time there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that Saddam Hussein had some connection to Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. However, I also would have preferred a much shorter American involvement. The objectives seemed unclear at times and the lack of an effective exit strategy was troubling. The Middle East will always be a hot spot for strife, and I do not believe any amount of military involvement or attempts to spread democracy will ever bring total peace.

 

Casey Anthony Trial

Caylee Anthony, the 2 year old daughter of Casey, went missing in the summer of 2008 and was found dead a few months later. This past summer the mother went on trial for killing her child. Casey appears to be a mentally unstable woman who got knocked up before she was ready and, as the theory goes, murdered her daughter so she’d have the freedom to go back to being a drunken party girl ho. Unfortunately for the millions who became emotionally invested in the trial like it was OJ Part 2, the prosecutors were inept and Anthony’s defense team used annoying little techniques like lack of evidence, burden of proof, and reasonable doubt to get her acquitted. Soccer Moms everywhere were so outraged that they…they…they put their porch lights on!! As if that was going to help anything.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

The Republicans. I choose this story because, unlike other stories that have come & gone, this one has been a constant for most of the year and has been woven into the fabric of our daily lives. It is also significant because all the ups & downs, missteps, debates, and speechifying that has occurred over all these months will…eventually…lead to someone being nominated to run for President in 2012. That election may be one of the most important turning points in our nation’s history. 2011 has seen folks like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitt Romey, Ron Paul, & Rick Perry become household names, even if each has had their weaknesses & foibles exposed for the entire world to pass judgment on. That’s American politics. It’s not perfect, but it’s still the best system in the world.

 

 

 

 

actresses Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Russell, Betty Garrett (Laverne & Shirley), Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet), Peggy Rea (The Dukes of Hazzard, Grace Under Fire)…former Secretary of State Warren Christopher…Apple Computers founder Steve Jobs…director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network)…George Ballas (inventor of the Weed Eater)…“Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian…Frank Buckles (the last surviving WW1 veteran)…fitness guru Jack Lalanne…Indy 500 Champion Dan Wheldon…golf legend Seve Ballesteros…saxophonist Clarence Clemons…boxer Joe Frazier…former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Chuck Tanner…former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro…blues musician Pinetop Perkins…alleged singer Amy Winehouse…producers Sherwood Schwartz (The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island) & Gil Cates (Academy Awards Show)…former First Lady Betty Ford…retired MLB pitcher Mike Flanagan…Jimmy Kimmel’s Uncle Frank Potenza…baseball broadcaster Ernie Johnson…former NY Governor Hugh Carey…Dolores Hope (widow of Bob Hope)…Big East Conference founder Dave Gavitt…singer Dobie Gray (Drift Away)…Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis…pollster George Gallup…cartoonist Bil Keane (The Family Circus)…journalists Andy Rooney & Christopher Hitchins…retired football players Orlando Brown, Bubba Smith, Mike Heimerdinger, Kent Hull, and Chester McGlockton…actors Michael Gough (Batman), Jeff Conaway (Taxi), Edward Hardwicke (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), Jackie Cooper (Our Gang, Superman), Peter Falk (Columbo), James Arness (Gunsmoke), GD Spradlin (The Godfather Part II, One on One, North Dallas Forty, Apocalypse Now), Roberts Blossom (Home Alone, Doc Hollywood), Cliff Robertson (PT109, Spider-Man), Charles Napier (The Blues Brothers), and Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H, The Glenn Miller Story)…wrestling legends Sir Oliver Humperdink & “Macho Man” Randy Savage…baseball Hall of Famers Duke Snider, Ron Santo, and Harmon Killebrew…retired NBA players Robert “Tractor” Traylor, Lorenzo Charles, and Walt Hazzard…NFL Hall of Famers Andy Robustelli, John Henry Johnson, John Mackey, and Lee Roy Selmon

The Sammy Awards 2011 – Episode II: Electric Boogaloo

Welcome back to Part 2 of the 2011 Sammy Awards. I hope you enjoyed the first installment and will tune in for the conclusion.

 

 

At this time it is our pleasure to bring to the stage, to sing a duet of Frank Sinatra’s popular hit That’s Life, Grammy award winning artist Michael Buble and the winner of America’s Got Talent, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

 

 

 

To present our next award, The Manofesto is deeply honored to introduce three members of America’s greatest sports dynasty, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Please welcome NFL Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, and Lynn Swann. And the nominees are:

 

Biggest Sports Story

 

Dominance of the Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers went almost exactly a calendar year without losing a game. After squeaking into the playoffs last season as a wildcard team who had a plethora of players out with injuries, they ran roughshod through the field and won The Super Bowl. Then The Pack looked unbeatable and in fact were through 13 weeks of the 2011 season, easily vanquishing their opponents while quarterback Aaron Rodgers made Cheeseheads forget all about that Favre fellow. They had an inexplicable hiccup against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs just a few weeks ago, but still look like the odds on favorite to repeat as champs.

 

NFL & NBA Lockouts

To most fans these occasional spitting contests between owners of professional sports teams and their players is an annoying battle of billionaires vs. millionaires. However, regardless of the financial legalities involved, at the end of the day Joe Sixpack just wants to be able to sit around in his underwear, drink a few beverages, and cheer on his favorite team. The NFL Lockout had been foreseen for upwards of 2 or 3 years, and it ended up lasting nearly 5 months before being resolved in July, with the only casualty being the annual preseason Hall of Fame Game. The rest of the preseason and regular season were unaffected. I have no idea who is considered to have won or lost the battle…I was just thrilled when pro football was back on my television. Unlike their football brethren, the NBA did lose part of their season, with the first 6 weeks being cancelled and the regular season being shortened from 82 to 66 games. Again I don’t really know who is believed to have won or lost, and I don’t care. I wasn’t anywhere near as invested in basketball’s drama as I was the football story, but I guess it’s nice that they resolved the issue and are playing. Now I can go back to ignoring the NBA as usual until the playoffs begin.

 

Japan Wins Womens’ World Cup

I couldn’t possibly care less about soccer, but it is the world’s most popular sport and The World Cup is its crowning achievement. Like most Americans I was rooting for the U.S. team, but since the tournament took place mere weeks after Japan was devastated by a horrific earthquake & tsunami their gals were the sentimental favorites amongst most of the Earth’s soccer loving population.

 

Penn St. Sexual Abuse Scandal

Joe Paterno served 46 years as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions and is the all-time winningest coach in major college football with 409 victories. The chorus calling for his ouster had started to become louder in the past decade, mostly due to his advanced age and the fact that he hadn’t sniffed the national title picture since The Clinton Administration. However, few really thought he’d ever be fired, and absolutely no one on the planet could have predicted the circumstances of his demise. Back in November former Penn St. defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested for allegedly molesting numerous young boys, some of them on the school’s campus. Then news broke that another assistant coach had witnessed an incident in 2002 and reported it to Paterno, who had then reported it to the athletic director. Apparently no one called law enforcement. After the dust settled Paterno as well as the AD and the school’s President were fired. It was a sad & shocking end to a legendary career.

 

Tim Tebow

I’m not sure Tebow is as much a football player as he is a folk hero. Few thought his unique skill set would translate to a successful NFL career, and that presumption has been right…and wrong. Mostly due to financial considerations, the demands of a vocal fan base & the complicit media, and the fact that the Denver Broncos just aren’t a very good team, Tebow ascended to the top of the quarterback depth chart in 2011. Despite the fact that he couldn’t hit water if he was throwing from a dinghy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and looked like the worst QB in the history of football for 55 minutes of almost every game, he somehow lead the Broncos to a stretch of 7 wins in 8 games, with several of those victories due to late game heroics. Off the field Tebow is an unabashed born again Christian who does not run from his faith, a fact which endears him to some and offends others greatly. This mix of popularity, controversial religious zeal, and questionable ability have combined to make Tim Tebow a favorite topic of discussion on every conceivable sports program, especially ESPN’s First Take, where master debater & cunning linguist Skip Bayless practically drops to his knees and fellatiates him on a daily basis.

 

Ohio St. Scandal/Jim Tressel Firing

With his stoic manner and austere sweater vest Jim Tressel seems more like a professor than a football coach. But numbers don’t lie, and in a career spanning nearly 25 years Tressel won 75% of his games, 6 Big Ten Titles, and 5 national championships. Unfortunately in 2011 he got caught up in the arrogant culture of cheating that has sadly come to define big time collegiate athletics at institutions like Ohio State. A group of Buckeye players were found to have traded memorabilia in exchange for free tattoos at a Columbus shop. The NCAA tends to frown on such things, and they really get upset when it is discovered that the head coach had known about the whole thing and covered it up. Tressel decided to resign and the players involved were suspended for much of the 2011 season. The Buckeyes are now on probation, losing a handful of scholarships and will not be allowed to play in the postseason next year. All things considered they got off pretty easy, except for Tressel, whose career is essentially over.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Penn St. Scandal. As a fan I hate when issues like crime, sexual abuse, and indictments invade the sports page, but this was a huge story. A beloved, fabled, larger-than-life coach was fired and a hugely successful & seemingly clean program has been left in shambles. And lest we forget, there are numerous young men that must, for the rest of their lives, deal with having been molested by a sick freak who will hopefully be spending the remainder of his pathetic life behind bars being someone else’s bitch.

 

 

 

To present our next award, we are happy to reunite members of the cast of the 90’s Saturday morning staple Hang Time. Please welcome Daniella Deutscher, Megan Parlen, Anthony Anderson, Dick Butkus, Reggie Theus, and Amber Barretto. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Best TV Show

 

How I Met Your Mother

It’s a second consecutive nomination for the continuing Friends-esque adventures of 5 New Yorkers, with the question of how main character Ted (a part narrated…in the future…by Bob Saget) eventually meets his children’s mother yet to be answered. Oh we’ve come close a couple of times, but that pursuit has been kind of backburnered as viewers are mostly caught up in the on again/off again romance of pals Barney (played by the sublime Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin.

 

Big Bang Theory

Another two time nominee, this is the adventures of two uber nerds, their eccentric posse of co-workers & gal pals, and the hot, ditzy neighbor. It’s kind of a counterpoint to the classic 80’s sitcom Three’s Company. Whereas Three’s Company catered to the lowest common denominator, Big Bang Theory embraces the intellectual capacity of its characters while not shying away from their social ineptitude. The writing continues to be witty & sharp, and the expanded cast doesn’t feel overcrowded or excessive.

 

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

In my mind Jimmy Fallon has already surpassed Leno, Letterman, & Conan in the late night hierarchy. His monologue isn’t as solid, but then again he isn’t a stand-up comedian. The strong suit of the show is in the creative bits & audience participation games that usually come after the first commercial break…stuff like Slow Jam the News, Cupid’s Arrow (a parody of a 1980’s video dating service), Cell Phone Shootout, Models & Buckets, Beer Pong (played with a celebrity guest), Charades (played with a celebrity guest & an audience member), and my personal favorite Thank You Notes (a regular Friday night feature). The host himself is a strength of the show as well. One gets the feeling that Leno is kind of an ass & that Conan’s antics might become irritating in short order, and we all know that Letterman is mental. In contrast, Jimmy Fallon seems to genuinely be relishing what he is doing and appears to be the sort of sincerely pleasant fellow one wouldn’t mind hanging out with and enjoying a beverage.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning

The 2010 winner of this award is still going strong. The great thing about a show like this is that it is constantly changing yet never really changes. In other words, because it is a sports talk show and there are almost always new stories & issues to pontificate about and examine on a daily basis, the show is always fresh. Conversely, the affable charm and playfully antagonistic relationship of hosts Greeny & Golic creates an easygoing, reliable comfort zone that allows the viewer to just sit back & enjoy their antics. Even when one or both of the hosts are off there is a posse of guests and fill-in hosts like former NFL players Marcellus Wiley, Mark “Stink” Schlereth, & Cris Carter, baseball insiders Buster Olney & Tim Kurkjian, and football insiders Mel Kiper Jr., Adam Schefter, & Chris Mortensen that keep the show going even if they aren’t quite as entertaining as The Mikes.

 

Parenthood

Loosely based on the 1989 Ron Howard film that starred an ensemble cast headed by Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves, and a young Joaquin Phoenix, this is the second time a television adaptation has been attempted. Needless to say this version is much better than the first effort (which starred Ed Begley Jr., David Arquette, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s one of those dramedies that I tend to love so much on both the big & small screens, I think because it is an accurate depiction of life…sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh until we cry, and sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. There are no huge stars, but there are a few recognizable faces…Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night), and Craig T. Nelson (Coach). As with most shows with a large cast of characters, there are usually a few stories going on, and it’s a hit or miss effort. Fortunately Parenthood seems to hit all the right notes most of the time.

 

Pardon the Interruption

Readers of The Manofesto know how much I love my ESPN talk shows, and this is the evening book end to Mike & Mike. Starring former sports writers Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, who worked together at The Washington Post, it’s your standard “let’s debate the foremost sports topics du jour” format. However, it must be said that Tony & Michael have been doing it longer & better than anyone else.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Mike & Mike. Congratulations to Greeny & Golic for capturing their second consecutive Sammy Award. This is comfort food television for any sports fan, as well as being very informative & entertaining. I’ll continue to look forward to every weekday between 6 & 10am as long as these guys are on the air.

 

 

 

To present our next award, please give a warm & hearty round of applause to sociopolitical pundit, bestselling author, and radio personality Glenn Beck. And the nominees are:

 

Biggest International News Story

 

 

Arab Spring

I will not even pretend to be an expert in foreign relations, but basically what this boils down to is a wave of civil disobedience that spread across the Middle East and resulted in the governments of 3 nations…Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya…being overthrown. The revolution in Egypt that eventually lead to the resignation of their President of 3 decades, Hosni Mubarak, probably got the most attention. 6 months later long time Libyan leader General Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and eventually killed. Each uprising gave courage & energy to the next, and one wonders why the populations of those nations put up with evil dictatorships, corruption, and human rights atrocities for so long before finally deciding to stand up and do something about it.

 

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Meltdown

Back in March Japan was hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, said to be one of the five most powerful quakes on record since 1900. The earthquake generated 130 ft. tsunami waves. The tsunami triggered multiple nuclear meltdowns at several plants. All told nearly 16,000 people lost their lives and another 10,000 were injured or missing. The earthquake actually shifted the Earth on its axis somewhere between 4 & 10 inches.

 

The Greek Economic Crisis

I’m not a financial guru either, but apparently Greece is even worse at managing its finances than America. Other European nations banded together to bail out their Greek pals, enacting some strict spending rules in the process. However, it seems like that little trick hasn’t worked and the situation is still a mess. Predictably the citizens bore the brunt of the financial mismanagement by paying higher taxes and having salaries limited, and they didn’t care for that so there were protests and backlash there too.

 

Bin Laden Killed

On May 2, 2011 the decade long manhunt for the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001 ended when U.S. Special Forces raided his compound in Pakistan where he was “caught & compromised to a permanent end”. Giddy crowds of proud Americans gathered to celebrate in places like Times Square, Ground Zero, & outside The White House, which may have been somewhat overzealous and inappropriate but considering the death & destruction Bin Laden had perpetrated & perpetuated over the years was totally understandable.

 

The Royal Wedding

On April 29, 2011 Prince William, the eldest son of England’s Prince Charles and the late, nearly beatified & canonized Princess Diana, married his college sweetheart Kate Middleton. As usual those wacky Brits can’t just have a quiet, subtle little ceremony. They are still under the mistaken impression that they are royalty. Well…okay…they are royalty, but they somehow still seem to think that the distinction actually means something, which of course it doesn’t. Anyway, just like his Mom & Dad’s nuptials three decades ago, the world went nuts over the wedding of William & Kate, with apparently hundreds of millions of people watching the whole show on TV or The Internet. I just hope the marriage goes better than Chuck & Di’s, which we must recall ended in divorce and her dead carcass being splattered in an underpass during a high speed chase by paparazzi.

 

Rupert Murdoch/News of the World Hacking Scandal

Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp, which is the world’s 2nd largest media empire behind only Disney. News Corp owns various familiar businesses like Harper Collins Publishing, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox, Fox/FX television networks, Fox News Channel, Hulu, and a 15% stake in the Colorado Rockies, as well as a ton of newspapers in Britain & Australia. One of those newspapers was tabloid rag News of the World. In 2011 it was revealed that employees of this tabloid had somehow hacked into the phones & computers of a wide range of celebrities, politicians, and even victims of crimes & terrorism. If memory serves me correctly they even hacked into the phones of Britain’s Royal Family. Ain’t technology grand?? Anyway, the tabloid shut its doors and Murdoch’s credibility has suffered a bit, but otherwise business as usual carries on.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

I hate to do it, but it’s a tie. Both the Japan Earthquake & the Death of Osama Bin Laden captured the attention & the hearts of a worldwide audience, and both events have far reaching implications & consequences that will extend beyond 2011. My heart goes out to the families of the dead in Japan, as well as the millions of victims who were hurt physically, financially, and on so many other levels. We also can hope that the end of Bin Laden’s existence has brought some sort of closure to the families of those lost on 9/11 and the many other heinous acts for which that monster was responsible.

 

 

 

Rarely does a person get to introduce an award named in their honor, but our next presenter will be doing exactly that. Please give an enthusiastic welcome to NBA living legend Charles Barkley. And the nominees are:

 

 

The Charles Barkley Memorial Role Model Award

 

Tony Larussa

I’m a sucker for “going out on top” stories, and Larussa certainly qualifies since retiring soon after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. Larussa managed in the big leagues for 32 years, but I have a feeling he will not be one of those guys who keeps “unretiring” every other year. He’s actually an attorney, and has mentioned that his post-retirement dream is to manage a book store. As much as I love my sports, I very much appreciate folks who seem to keep it in proper perspective and have the ability & desire to pursue other interests.

 

Hawkeye the Lab

Most web surfers probably saw the picture back in August of Hawkeye, the beloved chocolate Labrador retriever of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, lying in front of his master’s coffin. Tumilson, a 35 year old Iowan, was a Navy SEAL whose helicopter was shot down by a grenade in Afghanistan on August 6. The photo of Hawkeye faithfully staying by his master’s side until the bitter end likely put a lump in the throats of most anyone with a heart, especially dog owners.

 

Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K. has been at the helm of the vaunted Duke basketball program for over three decades. Before that he was a player and a coach at Army, where he was mentored by the infamous Bobby Knight. He has won 4 national championships, been in 11 Final Fours, and lead the USA to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. On November 15, 2011 he became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, surpassing Knight with his 903rd victory. To my knowledge he has achieved all of this success the right way, without much controversy or any accusations of wrongdoing. And much like Tony Larussa, Krzyzewski appears to be an intelligent, well-rounded man of varied interests & solid character.

 

Navy SEAL Team Six

The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group is a Special Forces counter-terrorism unit whose details are mostly classified. On May 2, 2011 two dozen members of the group conducted Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden, the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that resulted in the tragic, senseless deaths of nearly 3000 Americans, was finally brought to justice. Personally I am in no way reluctant to celebrate the fact that a dirtbag like bin Laden no longer takes up valuable oxygen on this planet, and I would proudly shake the hand of each one of the brave soldiers involved in his demise.

 

Rep. Paul Ryan

I hesitate to nominate a politician for this award, but Ryan seems to be one of the few out there, atleast on a prominent national level, that is promoting genuine conservative principles. The 7 term Congressman from Wisconsin spent much of this past spring promoting his counterproposal to President Obama’s budget, a plan that would reform Medicare, effectively repeal the horrendous Obamacare fiasco, reduce spending, and lower taxes. Predictably liberals killed the bill in the Senate. However, Ryan still looks to be a rising star that may be shining beacon of hope for conservatives, assuming he doesn’t sell his soul like so many other elected officials.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Seal Team Six. God bless our men & women in uniform. Even though the battles of the past decade seem to be winding down, we know that there are still plenty of soldiers scattered in all corners of the world who put their lives on the line every day and spend months & years apart from their loved ones all so that we can continue to enjoy the freedom too many of us tend to take for granted.

 

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please join us tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of the 2011 Sammy Awards!!

The Sammy Awards 2011 – Episode I: There Is No Hope

In producing the 2nd Annual Sammy Awards, I began to imagine the choices I would make if this were to become a televised awards show. I would want it to be taken a bit more seriously than MTV’s awards shows, but not be quite as demure as The Academy Awards. The telecast itself would certainly have a brisk pace, because anything over 2 hours loses the audience’s attention and reeks of self-important ostentatiousness. There would be no acceptance speeches because A) a few of these categories have far too many nominees to have in the audience, and B) there are some awards where the winner might not be especially proud of the victory. The host of the show would be actor Paul Giamatti. I believe him to be one of the more talented yet underrated actors in Hollywood, with just the right mix of gravitas, low-key sense of humor, and beleaguered animosity simmering just below the surface that I appreciate tremendously. We would be live on HBO, which would eliminate commercial interruptions, allow for abundant repeats, and create a sense of freedom that should minimize any kind of politically correct pomposity inherent in dealing with the broadcast networks. So without further ado, let us take an introspective look back at the year that was 2011 and reward the people & stories that made it another memorable ride.

To present our first award, The Manofesto is proud to introduce the cast of the classic 1985 teen dramedy The Breakfast Club: Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, & Molly Ringwald. And the nominees are:

Favorite Movie (That I’ve Seen)

Little Fockers

I loved the original, and the sequel benefited from the addition of Dustin Hoffman & Barbara Streisand to the cast. However, this third battle of wills between patriarch Robert Deniro and son-in-law Ben Stiller is lacking something. It feels like it was written & produced in a hurry and unfortunately not very well. It’s an example of going to the well one too many times and trying to extract one last drop out of something that is already empty.

Bad Teacher

I really thought this movie had potential, but outside of Cameron Diaz being smoking hot it has few redeeming qualities. Diaz stars as a teacher who absolutely hates her job, but is forced to keep it after her wealthy fiancée dumps her. It is never explained why such a shallow, mean spirited malcontent chose teaching as a profession in the first place, which is a question that can’t help but baffle any viewer with a working brain as we see this 30-something woman smoke pot at school, drink like a fish, and let her students watch movies while she sleeps. I am assuming it is supposed to be funny, but I did not find myself laughing. I kept looking for a reason to root for the character (who spends much of the movie scheming to raise enough money for an expensive boob job), but there just isn’t any. Justin Timberlake (who I’ve rapidly come to really like as an actor) is decent in a supporting role, and I really enjoyed newcomer Lucy Punch as Diaz’ goody-two-shoes rival teacher. The real crime is the underutilization of very talented actor Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who is barely an afterthought.

No Strings Attached

This is the first of two nominees where the story revolves around two pals who decide to enter into a purely physical relationship without the messy complications of romance. Starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, it’s not a bad little film, but it ain’t Shakespeare either. I was sort of surprised at the rather dramatic turn it took toward the end, and Portman has potential as a comedic actress although it clearly is not her comfort zone.

The Muppets

One might think that a 30-something year old man going to see a movie with The Muppets is kind of odd or maybe even a bit sad. I am sure all the soccer moms in the theater with their crumb crunchers might have thought it strange as well, but thank goodness I was clean shaven and not wearing a Penn St. hoodie. At any rate, there aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe what a wonderful experience this film is. Is it corny?? Sure, but that’s okay. For those of us that grew up in the 70’s & 80’s when Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, and the rest of the gang were a ubiquitous part of pop culture it’s like being a kid again. And the angle that is taken…acknowledging that The Muppets are forgotten relics and that the world prefers edgier entertainment nowadays…is absolutely brilliant. There are wonderful cameos, smartly written in jokes about movies, and of course goofy song & dance numbers. Jason Segal (he who did not receive enough screen time in Bad Teacher) is awesome, which is a surprise because I never figured him as a musical kind of guy. Amy Adams is her usual perky self and perfectly cast.

The Hangover 2

It’s not that it’s not a funny movie…it is. The drug dealing monkey elicits some chuckles, and Zack Galifinakis is still hilarious. It’s just that the folks in charge got really really lazy…or were just afraid to take any chances…and so what we get is almost a replica of the first film, only set in Bankok instead of Vegas. The original was unique, but the sequel is just predictable and safe.

Friends With Benefits

Two decades ago the Billy Crystal/Meg Ryan classic rom-com When Harry Met Sally asked the question “Can men & women ever just be friends??”. In 2011 this was the second film to turn that question on its ear and ponder the implications of two friends having casual sex without dating or falling in love. I enjoyed this take on the situation a lot more than the aforementioned No Strings Attached, which I think can be owed to the winning charm of the two leads, Justin Timberlake & That 70’s Show’s Mila Kunis. Sure we can all see the ending coming a mile away, but it’s a fun trip.

Bridesmaids

I presume it is supposed to be The Hangover for ladies, but it falls short of the mark. SNL’s Kristin Wiig stars as a down-on-her-luck baker whose best friend is getting married. Wiig is the maid of honor and an eclectic group of ladies round out the wedding party. We see this group of women gather for several events that I guess women get into when planning the festivities. Hilarity ensues, atleast theoretically. There are some funny moments in the film, but it is a mixed bag. Wiig’s character is such a pathetic and, at times, unlikeable loser that it’s really difficult to become invested in her journey. Mike & Molly’s Melissa McCarthy steals the show as one of the bridesmaids and is the best thing about the movie.

Hall Pass

Two guys get a week long “vacation” from marriage from their frustrated wives. It’s a fresh twist on the relationship genre, and it sorta kinda works, doing so in a way one does not see coming. The two guys…Owen Wilson & SNL’s Jason Sudeikis…are okay, and the wives…Christina Applegate and The Office’s Jenna Fischer…are quite fetching. The funny twist is that the men, when given this tremendous opportunity that many middle aged dudes would kill for, totally whiff and realize just what complete losers they are, while the ladies are the ones who find out they still got it even if they are unsure they want to use it. This is a less funny, less cool version of Old School, but it isn’t a bad way to spend an evening. I could have done without that idiotic shrew Joy Behar besmirching the screen, but I got over it.

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

The Muppets. Honestly, toward the end when Kermit breaks out into Rainbow Connection I became so swelled with happiness & emotion that if I could have jumped out of my wheelchair and given a standing ovation I swear to God I would have (obviously that did not happen cause if it did you might have read about it in your local newspaper). I sincerely hope more Muppet movies are made and that a whole new generation grows to love them as much as their parents did. 2011 was kind of a down year for movies in my humble opinion, with the vast majority of films being crap that I had no interest in seeing and several of the ones I did see being somewhat disappointing, but The Muppets was a fine way to end the year.

There’s always time for a little comic relief, and to provide that please welcome America’s foremost conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine.

Regrettably Vice President Joe Biden had to decline our invitation to participate, but to present the next award we found a “man” who is certainly a clown and apparently knows a lot about ass. Please give a tepid welcome to soon-to-be former (thank God) U.S. Congressman Barney Frank. And the nominees are:

Assclown of the Year

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen has had what most would call an above average acting career, starring in a handful of decent movies like Red Dawn, Platoon, Major League, & Wall Street, as well as two pretty good TV shows: Spin City & Two and a Half Men. But he’s also long had a reputation as a party animal, and that reached a crescendo in 2011. Sheen apparently lost his damn mind back in the first quarter of the year, becoming a media sensation after doing a few interviews and posting some YouTube videos in which he appeared to be batshit crazy. He told the masses that he was “tired of pretending like my life isn’t perfect” and said that he was indeed using a drug called Charlie Sheen. That drug, according to Sheen, is made of “tiger blood’ and “Adonis DNA”. Whether it was all an act or Charlie is genuinely nuts, eventually his behavior got him canned from his sitcom, after which he went on a nationwide tour doing a one man show called Violent Torpedo of Truth. You can’t make this stuff up.

Rep. Anthony Weiner

The ironically named & very married Weiner…a 46 year old, 7 term U.S. Congressman…not only made the absolutely idiotic mistake of putting a picture of his junk on Twitter, but he then gave a very weak denial in which he acted like he couldn’t recognize his own penis. He was only able to run from his own stupidity for about a month before being forced to resign. Where have you gone John Adams??

Terrelle Pryor

Back when Pryor was a highly recruited high school QB he was being courted by my WV Mountaineers. That all ended when then head coach Rich Fraudriguez bolted for Michigan, and I opined at the time that the Mountaineers had dodged a bullet. I was right. Pryor is very talented, but he is an egotistical prima donna who, to the surprise of no one who’d been paying attention, managed to do significant damage to the fabled Ohio State program. Sure there were other players who got suspended for trading memorabilia for tattoos (which is asinine), but the red hot spotlight shined down on Pryor, who should have shown better leadership qualities. Instead he seemed to scoff at the NCAA investigation, publicly driving a sports car that no uncompensated college football player could possibly afford. I’m not sure we will ever know how much money & other illegal benefits Pryor received as a Buckeye, and it’s a damn shame that his former coach Jim Tressel’s career is effectively over and the team will be suffering under NCAA sanctions for a few years, all while this ghetto thug is making quite the comfortable living in the NFL.

Harold Camping

It was the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. On May 21, 2011 the California based (well there you go…that explains it) “Christian” radio broadcaster predicted that Jesus would return to begin The Rapture, which would then culminate in the end of the end on October 21st. Needless to say neither event occurred. This wasn’t Camping’s first rodeo, as he had also predicted The Apocalypse in 1988 & 1994. I guess if one keeps blindly throwing darts long enough eventually…maybe…you might hit something. Any genuine Christian…and even the ones who have successfully faked it long enough that all the fundraisers & public displays of phony religiosity make them SEEM authentic…knows that The Bible, in the book of Matthew, says that we “know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh”. But I guess Camping has shucked that pesky Bible stuff in favor of numerology. How’s that workin’ out for ya there Harry??

MLB Umpire Jerry Meals

My Pittsburgh Pirates, after nearly two decades of frustrating futility, finally seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough in 2011. They were actually in first place after 100 games near the end of July. On July 26 the Pirates battled the Atlanta Braves into the wee hours of the next morning. After 19 innings of all even baseball home plate umpire Meals made what might be the single worst call in the history of baseball, declaring Braves runner Julio Lugo safe at home plate when he was clearly out by a country mile. The Pirates completely crumbled following the crushing loss, going 19-42 the remainder of the season and finishing in 4th place, 24 games out & 18 games below .500. Both Meals & MLB later acknowledged the colossal mistake, but a lot of good that did.

Kim Kardashian

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I consider marriage sacred. I realize I am in the minority nowadays since the divorce rate in America is somewhere around 50%, but I’m betting that the overwhelming majority of marriages still last a lot longer than 72 days, which is how long this mental giant’s union with NBA bench warmer Kris Humphries lasted before she decided she was bored. Kardashian was already worthy of a nomination simply by being herself…an obnoxious, out of touch, airheaded attention whore who is only famous because she made a sex tape. However, having her head stuck so far up her own ample posterior that she decided to give up on marriage less than 3 months in makes her even more worthy of consideration.

Questlove

First of all, what a stupid nickname. His actual name is Ahmir Khalib Thompson, which figures. He is the drummer for The Roots, a band so successful & popular that they had to resort to taking a gig as the house band on a late night TV show. Back in November this idiot had the band play a song called Lyin’ Ass Bitch (how classy) as Presidential candidate and U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made her way onto the stage of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He even tweeted beforehand about what he was going to do. Now if a conservative entertainer would have perpetuated such a sophomoric gag on a liberal politician, the outcry would have been loud & forceful. But since Bachmann is a Republican Mr. Thompson faced no penalty and was only halfheartedly reprimanded by his network bosses. The situation, as well as Rep. Bachmann, was treated like one big joke.

Penn St. Fans

As late as Halloween no one would have ever predicted that legendary Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno would be fired before the end of the season. However, less than two weeks later he was ousted, buried under a mountain of criticism that he had not done enough after being told that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting young boys in the locker room showers. Thousands of the school’s students (and I suspect a considerable number of adult non-students) took to the streets in protest, acting as if Paterno had been canned because he’d lost a bowl game or not won a conference championship. It was completely backassward (as my Grandma might have said) and a total failure to recognize the seriousness of the charges, not to mention utterly disrespectful to the alleged victims of the abuse. I am a passionate sports fan and can appreciate such fervor, but there are things that are far & away more significant than sports, a fact the folks in Happy Valley, PA don’t seem to grasp.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Commandant Fidel Goodell isn’t fooling me. He has consistently abused the power of his position by handing out arbitrary fines & suspensions. It’s all under the guise of “player safety”, which has caused Goodell to crack down on “helmet to helmet” and other bone crushing hits that not that long ago were highlight reel fodder. I realize that modern medical advancements and research have revealed alarming information about concussions & their long term effects. No one wants to see players suffer brain damage or any other calamity. But neither do fans want to see the game we love watered down & wussified to the point that it is unrecognizable. At best Goodell and his minions need to develop some structure & consistency in the rules and the way players are disciplined.

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

Charlie Sheen. Duh. Still WINNING!!

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break.

Please join us tomorrow for Part II of the 2011 Sammy Awards!!

The Sammy Claus Wish List 2011

Yes West Virginia, there is a Sammy Claus. I exist as surely as chocolate, fast food, Facebook, & soap operas exist, and I know that they abound and give my life its joy & meaning. Alas! How would The Manofesto exist if there were no Sammy Claus?? It would be really dreary, like being married to a Kardashian or cheering for the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. There would be no Internet then, no high definition television, no cute puppies to make tolerable this existence. We would have no enjoyment, except in sleep & dreams. The eternal light with which bachelorhood fills the Manoverse would be extinguished. Not believe in Sammy Claus?? You might as well not believe in lower taxes & self-reliance!! Nobody sees Sammy Claus, but that doesn’t mean there is no Sammy Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither Stevie Wonder nor The Who’s Tommy can see. No Sammy Claus?? Thank God I live, and will live forever…or atleast hopefully for another several decades. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, my legacy shall continue to make glad the hearts of bored & lonely web surfers everywhere.

For now though, you’ll just have to settle for the 2011 edition of the Wish List. As always, I yield no authority in making these dreams a reality and just have to hope that The Jolly Old Elf himself checks it out and may see fit to provide folks with the gifts which I am suggesting for them. Enjoy…and God bless us…everyone.

 

 

Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh……….self control

 

 

Regis Philbin……………a very happy retirement

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Barack Hussein Obama………..crushing defeat in November & utter rejection by the American people of radical & destructive leftist philosophy

 

 

The Southeastern United States…….a mild 2012 hurricane & tornado season

 

 

Former Penn St. Assistant Coach

Jerry Sandusky……………….very slippery soap

 

 “Golden Voiced” Ted Williams……..continued sobriety, success, & happiness

 

Fans of The Kardashians………….better role models

 

Iraq………………….peace

 

The Cast of Harry Potter……..continuing relevance & achievement without being typecast or having to resort to desperate moves like hosting a game show or doing softcore porn on Cinemax

 

 

America…………………..more Jesus, less PC Godless liberalism

 

 

Heisman Winner Robert Griffin III…….a pro career more like Vinny Testaverde & Charles Woodson than Danny Wuerffel & Chris Weinke

 

 

My Family & Friends……………health, serenity, & dreams that come true

 

 

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day……………..a balmy 40 degrees with lots of sunshine. White Christmas can remain just a song & a movie.

 

 

My Alter Ego………………..the genuine Christian experience I have been seeking

 

 

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick……………………a hoodie

 

 

Amazon.com……………………inspiration for an improved Kindle Fire 2

 

 

Vegas………..my presence in 2012!! You hear that Greg, The Owl, Sealey, & Slack??

 

 

 

 

 

 

I shall wrap up with a quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:

“Lot’s of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give –  of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Harry Potter Series

I envy author JK Rowling. She has stated more than once that the idea for Harry Potter just came to her as she was riding a train back in 1990. Five years later she was a clinically depressed single mother living on welfare when the first book was published. Less than a decade after that she was a billionaire. If that isn’t a rags to riches story I don’t know what is. Someone somewhere once said something to the effect that “everyone has a book inside of them”, and I have long believed that to be true for myself. I’ve always felt like there was a great idea right on the cusp of forming in my brain but it never quite has. I so want to someday have that Rowling moment, to just be driving along in my truck or traipsing through WalMart and have that awesome character or story come busting through into my consciousness. I am not even concerned with becoming wealthy or famous…I just think it would be very cool to create something that scores of people enjoy and that would last beyond my lifetime.

 

That definition of success certainly fits the accomplishment of Rowling and her boy wizard. The Potter series encompasses 7 novels which have been made into 8 films, with both the books & movies setting multiple records within their respective industries and making billions of dollars. My focus here is obviously the books, and I don’t think I’d be stepping out on too much of a limb to assume that children and adults will still be reading and be thoroughly enthralled by them a century from now, just as modern readers still enjoy the works of authors like Dickens, Twain, Tolkien, Bradbury and many others whose greatest achievements came long long ago. I wouldn’t go so far as to classify Potter as classic literature, but it probably comes as close as anything that has been published in the last few decades.

 

For the benefit of those unfamiliar and as a refresher for those whose mind may be more feeble than they care to admit, Harry Potter is, at the outset, an 11 year old boy living with his abusive aunt & uncle because his parents died when he was a baby. We find out that Harry isn’t your normal, average, run-of-the-mill pre-teen…he is a wizard. And he isn’t even your normal, average, run-of-the-mill wizard…he is The Boy Who Lived. Harry’s parents didn’t just die, they were murdered by Lord Voldemort, the most evil wizard in all of wizardry, sort of a cross between Darth Vader, Adolph Hitler, and Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. Harry is whisked away to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, where he spends the next seven years coming of age, having various adventures, and battling Voldemort, who eventually resurfaces after lying dormant for about a dozen years.

 

In the course of 7 books we meet a whole host of interesting characters from Rowling’s fertile imagination, but only a few are what can be called featured players. Of course there is Harry, who evolves from a sheepish young boy into a courageous, valiant hero & leader. Then there are his two best pals, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Hermione is an intelligent, precocious, ultra driven, somewhat annoying muggle child, meaning neither of her parents are wizards. Ron is the classic sidekick…loyal & brave, yet somewhat clumsy & unaccomplished…the very essence of mediocrity. This triumvirate forms the centerpiece of the action for all of the books. Their mentor is Hogwarts’ headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, a wise & gentle soul akin to Star Wars’ Yoda or Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There is also Rubeus Hagrid, a half giant that serves as the groundskeeper for Hogwarts (a little like Schneider from One Day at a Time) and becomes a trusted confidante to our young heroes-in-training, and Professor Severus Snape, the triumvirate’s nemesis reminiscent of teacher Dick Vernon in The Breakfast Club or Dean of Students Mr. Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, only a lot more bitter and pissed off for reasons we learn about in the last few volumes.

 

Rowling, much like her fantasy predecessors JRR Tolkien & CS Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), masterfully creates a whole other world filled with unique characters and memorable images, but she doesn’t stop there. Harry Potter isn’t all style and no substance. Just like the famed works of Tolkien & Lewis, there is a lot of meat on the bones here, much much more than just fancy window dressing. Sure Harry Potter might be cloaked in a world of magic, potions, and spells that makes it palatable to adolescents, but underneath it all is an epic plot and a level of quality writing that easily surpasses most of what is considered modern “popular fiction”. Don’t be fooled…these books may be marketed as children’s literature, but once one gets past the first two books the tone becomes progressively darker and more mature.

 

I did not begin reading Harry Potter until I believe after the fourth book was published. First of all I thought it was for kids and that as a nearly 30 year old man I wouldn’t be the slightest bit interested. Secondly, I had some serious concerns relating to God & faith vs. the occult.

 

Let’s face it, the literary device that is the whole framework for the series is sorcery and other pagan imagery, which The Bible is very clear in warning against. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says “there shall not be found among you anyone…who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead, for all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.” Sorcery is one of the works of the flesh that we are warned against in the 5th chapter of Galatians. Lots of space in the Scriptures is dedicated to differentiating between darkness & light and telling us that we are to be the light in the world. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.” 1 John 1:5 tells us that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Romans 13:12 advises to “cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” The Gospel of John says in the 3rd chapter that “Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

 

I understand that there are many Christians who choose to stay away from or even actively campaign against things like Halloween, Harry Potter, Santa Claus, and a host of other pop culture & entertainment influences, and I appreciate their viewpoint. Some feel that such things, while harmless on the surface, serve as a sort of gateway into dabbling in much more serious & sinister activities that pull people away from God and into the abyss of darkness & sin. I am sure that isn’t an unheard of circumstance. However, as usual, I tend to look at things a bit differently. It has always been my opinion that if something as simple as a movie or rock n’ roll music or buying the occasional lottery ticket can so easily sway a person and drag them into a life of debauchery then maybe their faith wasn’t very strong to begin with. Discernment grows as one’s relationship with Christ deepens, and personally I don’t see these books as a threat. I may be wrong, I may be right, or I may be crazy.

 

Actually I see a lot of Christian undertones in Harry Potter. I see themes like good vs. evil, sacrifice, friendship, love, life & death, and standing up to fight for what is right. To the extent that the books deal with darkness & light, darkness is ultimately defeated. Good triumphs over evil. I still struggle with the debate, just as most Christians battle a variety of issues. It’s just that in the grand scheme of life I think there are bigger nits to pick and at the end of the day I don’t feel that my enjoyment of an extremely well written series of books threatens my faith. Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t atleast mention the films that have been made based on the books. Honestly I think I have only seen half of them. As is usually the case, the books are far superior to the movies. Most of the books are 500-900 pages long, so when the movies were made lots of things got left out. There are entire characters & subplots that are interesting parts of the books but never appear in the movies. That doesn’t mean they are bad movies, it just means that one shouldn’t skip the immensely pleasurable experience of reading the books.

 

Most Harry Potter fans would probably agree that these stories will be enjoyed for many generations to come. I suppose at some point that would qualify it as classic literature. But for now let us avoid labels and just enjoy a fun reading experience.

 

 

 

 

2011-12 NCAA Bowl Prognostications

Well this ought to be fun. Let me be completely honest…the past 2 years my bowl prognostications have been a total disaster. Teams that I thought would kick ass & take names laid a big ol’ egg. Teams that I thought were horrible and didn’t even deserve to be in a bowl game all the sudden played like the ’72 Miami Dolphins. Fortunately for me (and hopefully for loyal readers & citizens of the Manoverse) this is just a fun exercise completely devoid of meaning & consequence. As always, I do not condone gambling or claim any level of expertise. If one chooses to ignore those friendly warnings they do so at their own peril. Also, so I do not have to keep repeating myself throughout these proceedings, keep in mind a few things. First of all, I think there are way too many bowl games. As much as I love football I would prefer to see an 8 team playoff and about half as many bowl games. Secondly, I detest bowls named after locations or corporate entities. Bowl games should be named after fruit or other agricultural products. I understand the necessary evil of corporate sponsorship, but when they drop all pretense and just name the game after a company I find it irritating. And finally, if it were up to me teams with .500 records wouldn’t get anywhere near a bowl game. Mediocrity should not be rewarded. Having said all that, it is clear that the money grubbing bastards that run the NCAA and all of their member universities do not share my views. So be it. At any rate, I will watch a good many of these games with varying degrees of interest, and maybe I will actually get a majority of my predictions right. We’ll see.

 

 

 

New Mexico

Temple               vs.              Wyoming

I am going to take a total shot in the dark here and pick Temple, mostly because I have a passing familiarity with their team & conference, while I don’t think I have seen a Wyoming game on television since the Reagan Administration.

 

Potato

Ohio                    vs.              Utah State

The Bobcats play in the MAC, which means they don’t get a lot of respect, which is unfortunate since it is a better brand of football than most think. Having seen them play a few times this year I feel comfortable picking Ohio U. in this game.

 

New Orleans

San Diego St.                       vs.              Louisiana-Lafayette

Another shot in the dark since I know zilch about either of these teams. I’ll take La-Lafayette in a high scoring affair.

 

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

Florida International                    vs.                       Marshall

Full disclosure: I am a proud alumnus of Marshall University (Class of ’94), so there’s no way I am picking against my Thundering Herd, even though they are one of those 6-6 teams that would not get any post-season love under my hardcore NCAA regime.

 

Poinsettia

TCU                              vs.                        Louisiana Tech

A year ago the Horned Frogs defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and finished #2 in the final polls, so this is kind of like dating a matronly old maid after having broken up with a super model. Unfortunately close losses to Baylor and, inexplicably, SMU, cost them. But I don’t see this game as being much of a challenge and I think TCU rolls to an easy victory.

 

Las Vegas

Arizona St.                  vs.              Boise State

The Broncos have to be heartbroken. The only blemish on their record is a close loss to the aforementioned Texas Christian Horned Frogs on a missed last second field goal. That loss plummeted them all the way from national championship contender (or atleast the BCS bowl mix) to this afterthought of a game that no one will be watching against a 6-6 Sun Devils team that doesn’t deserve to be in a bowl. I think Boise has had more than enough time to get over that mid-November misstep and will win big.

 

Hawaii

Nevada                         vs.              Southern Miss

Nevada pulled off a big upset in 2010, costing Boise St. an undefeated season (that seems to happen a lot to those guys), while Southern Miss had the honor this season of shattering another team’s dream, defeating previously undefeated Houston in the C-USA Championship Game, knocking the Cougars out of the Sugar Bowl in the process. Because I think the Golden Eagles may have…ummm…exhausted the full extent of their ammunition…with that huge victory, I am picking the Wolfpack in an upset.

 

Independence

Missouri                       vs.              North Carolina

Does anyone really care?? I suppose I will roll the dice and pick Missouri, based largely on the fact that they should be more battle tested as a Big 12 team than the ACC’s Tar Heels.

 

Little Caesars

Western Michigan               vs.              Purdue

I like Western Michigan. MAC football is fun to watch, and it’s kind of sad that their reward for a solid season is playing a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team, although I suppose that a MAC team defeating a Big Ten team would be sufficient reason for chest thumping, regardless of how mediocre the Big Ten representative may be. I’m going with that scenario.

 

Belk

Louisville           vs.              NC State

Belk, for anyone who may be interested, is a North Carolina department store chain. How Belk has their own bowl game but WalMart, Target, Kohl’s, or JC Penney do not is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, both of these teams skated into post-season play with solid if unspectacular seasons, yet I have high hopes that this may be a fun game to watch. I’ll go with the Cardinals in a squeaker.

 

Military

Toledo                vs.              Air Force

Here we have what might be another sleeper, with lots of offense & scoring. As much as I’d like to give some love to the flyboys, I have to go with the Rockets in this one.

 

Holiday

California           vs.              Texas

The Longhorns have recovered a bit from the disaster of a season they had in 2010, but just happen to play a murderous schedule in one of the top two conferences in the nation. Being battle tested may serve them well though, so I’ll take Texas in a comfortable fashion.

 

Champs Sports

Florida State               vs.              Notre Dame

If this game were being played 20 years ago it might be for the National Championship. However, both of these storied programs have fallen on hard times, atleast by their definition of success. I can tell you that the folks in South Bend didn’t think they’d be playing a December bowl game this year…they had much loftier goals. That level of disappointment, combined with the fact that this game is in Orlando, FL just a few short hours away from Florida St.’s campus, is enough for me to give the nod to the Seminoles. Okay okay…maybe the fact that I detest Notre Dame has a bit to do with it as well.

 

Alamo

Washington                vs.              Baylor

Baylor got robbed. The Bears should have been chosen as a BCS at-large team and be playing in January. QB Robert Griffin III is one of the most exciting players in the country and will almost definitely finish in the top 3 for the Heisman Trophy, if he doesn’t end up actually winning the darn thing. There might be some that express concern about a possible letdown due to the disappointment of getting screwed out of a more prestigious bowl game, but I’d be surprised if that happened. I’m picking Baylor to win easily.

 

 

 

Armed Forces

BYU                              vs.                       Tulsa

It’s pretty cool that our men in uniform get two bowls christened in their honor. It’s just too bad that neither Army nor Navy was good enough to qualify for this one since Air Force is playing in the other one. At any rate, this should be a highly watchable game, with BYU winning a close battle.

 

Pinstripe

Rutgers                        vs.                        Iowa State

I’ve watched Rutgers play a few times this season and they are decent but not unbeatable. Iowa St. ruined Oklahoma St.’s national title hopes. Rutgers has the better record, but the Cyclones are the epitome of my “battle tested” philosophy, so I give them the edge.

 

Music City

Mississippi St.            vs.              Wake Forest

This is a matchup of two 6-6 teams that would never happen if it were up to me, but it’s not so here they are. My vibes are telling me to go with the Bulldogs, and even though the vibes are hardly ever right I continue to listen to them. I don’t know why.

 

Insight

Iowa                              vs.              Oklahoma

No team is probably more disappointed in their 2011 season than the Sooners. Many had them ranked in the top 2 in the preseason, and halfway thru the campaign all seemed well. But after losing 3 out of the final 6 games, including a Big 12 Championship Game in which they appeared to not even give a damn, it is hard to fathom what went wrong. This is the very definition of a contest where the lesser team pulls an upset because the favored team doesn’t really want to be there, and for that reason I suspect a lot of the talking heads on ESPN and other places might try to convince us that the Hawkeyes are going to get the win. However, I just cannot pull the trigger on that logic. I think Oklahoma had their temper tantrum game against Oklahoma St. and will come into this one psyched up and ready to make a statement.

 

Meineke

Texas A&M                 vs.              Northwestern

Didn’t this game used to be in Charlotte?? For some reason Meineke switched their sponsorship to a bowl game in Houston. That should work out well for Aggie fans I guess. This is another dreaded two teams at 6-6 contest, but it might actually be more fun than the numbers would indicate. A&M just fired their coach, so that could have a negative impact. I predicted A&M would finish 8th & Northwestern 15th when I did my pre-season Top 25, and obviously I was way off base on both counts. I’m going to go out on a limb once again and pick the Wildcats in what most would consider a significant upset.

 

Sun

Georgia Tech                       vs.                        Utah

I don’t understand the reason, but I have always had an odd aversion to watching Georgia Tech football. They just aren’t a fun & interesting team. Utah is equally unimpressive since the Urban Meyer/Alex Smith era ended 7 years ago. Still, I’ll go with the Utes in a mild upset.

 

Liberty

Cincinnati                             vs.              Vanderbilt

Cincinnati finished in a 3 way tie as Big East Champions but lost out on the BCS bid due to tiebreaker technicalities so they have something to prove. The Bearcats are being lead by a sophomore backup quarterback, but he’s got a few starts under his belt now and should be fine. On paper this doesn’t look like it’ll even be a close one and I agree…Cincy wins in a laugher.

 

Fight Hunger

Illinois                          vs.                        UCLA

This used to be the Emerald Bowl. Then it was the Walnuts Bowl. Now the powers-that-be are apparently concerned with feeding the hungry. Unfortunately the matchup they are feeding us is a steaming pile of crap. UCLA actually has a LOSING record!! It’s bad enough that all these 6-6 teams (including the Bruins’ opponent Illinois) get bowl bids, but now we’re allowing a team below .500 to play in the post-season?? It’s insane. Fortunately there are three other games on New Year’s Eve…two of them in the afternoon at the same time as this one. Plus the majority of the populace will be making final preparations to go out and get crazy, wasted, and stupid later that night. There was one year that I was already drunk by the time this game kicks off. But I digress. My point is that only the most bored & lonely among us will have to be subjected to this torture. If there was any justice both of these horrible teams would lose, but that won’t happen, and since I refuse to pick a team with a losing record I’ll go with Illinois.

 

Chick-fil-A

Virginia                        vs.                        Auburn

This used to be the Peach Bowl, and the name needs to revert to that ASAP. College football is all about tradition, and the Peach Bowl was a solid traditional bowl game. Anyway, Auburn’s fortunes have fallen significantly since winning last year’s national title, but I suppose that happens when you lose players the caliber of Heisman winning QB Cam Newton and defensive lineman Nick Fairley. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers came within a whisker’s whisper of landing in the ACC title game before being beaten soundly by in-state rivals Virginia Tech. I think UVA is being overlooked and disrespected, and they just might do something about that in this game by upsetting the Tigers.

 

TicketCity

Houston                       vs.              Penn State

TicketCity, it is my understanding, is a poor man’s Ticketmaster. Why the former has a bowl named after it but the latter does not is yet another head scratcher. This isn’t exactly what Houston fans were expecting. The Cougars seemed to be on their way to an undefeated regular season and a huge pay day against Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Those plans blew up when Southern Miss crushed Houston in the C-USA title game. Meanwhile, anyone interested enough in sports to be reading this knows about the turmoil that has engulfed Penn St. the last couple of months. There had been a train of thought that bowl games might steer clear of the Nittany Lions fearing controversy and sponsor backlash. Thankfully that did not happen because their players & fans should not be punished due to the idiocy of those no longer associated with the program. These are two good teams who should provide us with an entertaining contest. I am glad that Houston still gets to test its mettle against a BCS conference opponent, and I think they will take advantage of the opportunity by winning the game.

 

Outback

Michigan St.                         vs.                        Georgia

This might as well be called the Bridesmaids Bowl. Both teams had solid seasons and legitimate shots to win their conference titles, but there was no way Georgia was going to beat #1 LSU, and after beating Wisconsin on a last second Hail Mary earlier in the season it was too much to ask the Spartans to repeat that feat. So this is a consolation prize for these two teams and a treat for fans. My vibes are telling me to go with Michigan St, and I shall follow that advice.

 

Capital One

Nebraska                              vs.                        South Carolina

I like this game. It should be fun to watch. The Gamecocks are riding a 3 game winning streak coming in to the contest, while the Cornhuskers lost 2 out of their last 4 games. Both had high hopes coming into the season, but tough losses to Auburn & Arkansas lead to South Carolina being edged out in their conference’s east division by Georgia, while Nebraska acquitted themselves quite nicely in their inaugural Big Ten season but stumbled against Wisconsin, Northwestern, & Michigan. The loss of star RB Marcus Lattimore halfway thru the campaign didn’t seem to slow down Spurrier’s Cocks, and I think given several weeks to prepare The Ol’ Ball Coach will have his team ready to win this one.

 

Gator

Ohio St.                        vs.                        Florida

Let’s call this the Urban Meyer Bowl. Meyer’s former team, the Gators, which he left last year due to “health issues” and to spend more time with his family, goes up against the Buckeyes, who just hired Meyer to take over after this season concludes. I guess he decided he’d spent enough time with his family. I’m a little confused by this matchup, because regardless of the past success of these two programs the fact is that they both finished at 6-6 this season, so how in the world they ended up in a New Year’s game is beyond my comprehension. This is where the current system, with all its various bowl tie-ins, fails. There are several teams…TCU, Boise St., Southern Miss, Baylor, BYU, Oklahoma…that are playing in “lesser” bowl games in December but are much more deserving of these slots. I understand that these are “name” programs that will draw good TV ratings and pack the stadium full, but that should not trump the fact that this season they are two mediocre teams who don’t measure up to the high standard of playing in a New Year’s bowl game. But I guess the money does indeed trump won-loss records, which is shameful. I have lost a lot of respect for the Gator Bowl because of these decisions. At any rate, it’s a toss-up kind of game, with neither team having much momentum coming into the contest. The crowd should make this as close to a home game for Florida as it gets, so I’ll give them the nod.

 

Rose

Wisconsin                             vs.                        Oregon

Now we’re getting to the really good games. This should be extremely interesting…Oregon’s fast paced, high powered spread against Wisconsin’s old school grind it out power football. Both of these clubs had national title aspirations that fell just short of the mark, with the Ducks losing out of the gate to #1 LSU and then having a late season hiccup against USC, while the Badgers lost consecutive midseason battles to Michigan St. & Ohio St. Neither team has anything about which to hang their heads though. As much as I like old fashioned smash mouth football, I think Oregon is just too fast and will score too many points on big plays for Wisconsin to keep up.

 

Fiesta

Stanford                       vs.                        Oklahoma St.

The race for #2 will be won & lost in this game. Stanford’s lone miscue was a late season loss to the Oregon Ducks, which began to sow seeds of doubt as to whether All-World quarterback and future #1 overall NFL draft pick Andrew Luck is really as awesome as he’d been hyped up to be. Meanwhile, many would rather be watching the Cowboys compete for the National Championship instead of playing in this game after the Cowboys came oh so close to overtaking Alabama in the polls. Oregon exposed Stanford as a team with a good QB but not much else, and I think the similarly high octane offense of Oklahoma State will do the same. They’ll be out to prove a point after losing out on an opportunity to play for the title, and I think we may be looking at a 100 point game here, with possibly 60 of them being scored by the guys in green.

 

Sugar

Michigan                      vs.                        Virginia Tech

What an odd matchup. Both of these teams got into this game by way of at-large BCS bids, but the question is whether either deserved one. The original plan was for an undefeated Houston team to face Michigan, but Southern Miss torpedoed that idea. That left the powers-that be scrambling. The fall back options seemed to be Baylor or Kansas St. to face the Wolverines, which would have been just fine. Theoretically those teams had earned both slots, but that wasn’t going to happen since they are both Big 12 teams and had faced off earlier in the season. Therefore Michigan, with its lofty pedigree and rabid fanbase, became locked in. I have no problem with that part of the equation. But either Baylor or Kansas St. still should have gotten the other spot. Virginia Tech just got shellacked in the ACC Championship Game last weekend. In the minds of most that knocked them out of BCS contention. But I guess money & reputation won out yet again. Why the folks in charge of the Sugar Bowl would pass up an opportunity to have a very exciting Baylor team, with their Heisman nominee QB Robert Griffin III, face off against an equally exciting Michigan team lead by another electrifying QB in Denard Robinson is mystifying, especially since anyone with any level of football knowledge has known for months that the Hokies are completely overrated and Clemson just proved it. My vibe is that this will be the least interesting of the BCS bowls, with Michigan winning by atleast 3 touchdowns.

 

Orange

West Virginia                        vs.                        Clemson

More full disclosure: I am a lifelong Mountaineer fan and find it very difficult to pick against them most of the time. I even said in my pre-season rankings that West Virginia would upset LSU early in the season. That prediction proved to be slightly wrong. However, I shall not be deterred!! Clemson QB Taj Boyd originally committed to WVU before his Daddy talked him out of it, and I guess it turned out to be a wise course correction given the success he has had with the Tigers thus far. Most of the talking heads on ESPN and other outlets will do their damndest to ignore this game as much as possible, which is a shame because I think it will be a really entertaining affair. Of course I am picking West Virginia to win.

 

Cotton

Kansas State                        vs.                        Arkansas

We’ve already talked a bit about Kansas St., and Arkansas is another team that might have fit into that Sugar Bowl game nicely, atleast moreso than Virginia Tech. But hey, both clubs find themselves in this contest which isn’t a bad thing. I hope that fans haven’t begun to suffer from football fatigue by the time this one kicks off on January 6th, which is four or five days later than it should be played. Those that do tune in should see a great game, but I think the Razorbacks just have too much on both sides of the ball and should win comfortably.

 

Compass

SMU                                       vs.                        Pittsburgh

I still maintain that this game should feature two directional schools. Southern Methodist fulfills half the equation, but Pitt doesn’t hold up the other end. Anyway, I hate Pitt, which has worked out well the past couple of years because they legitimately suck. I suppose the Panthers will be favored, but I’m going with SMU all the way.

 

GoDaddy.com

Arkansas St.     `                            vs.                        Northern Illinois

First of all, this is a ridiculously named bowl, sponsored by a web building company that overtly uses sex to sell what I assume must be an inferior service. Secondly, the game is being played on January 8th, atleast 2 weeks past when a bowl of this caliber should be played. And finally, the matchup isn’t exactly attractive. I honestly thought Arkansas St. was a 1-AA/FCS school. I guess not. I am sure there will be NFL games on since 1/8 is a Sunday, so who knows if more than a dozen people will even be watching. And really, who cares?? I have been entertained a bit by MAC football this season, so I’ll pick Northern Illinois to win this one.

 

National Championship Game

LSU vs. Alabama

The rematch that no none wants to see. Look, I know these are undoubtedly the best two teams in the country. Few people question that fact. But we’ve already seen this game and quite honestly it wasn’t very watchable the first time. I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so I appreciate great defense, but a 9-6 game with no touchdowns just doesn’t frost my cupcake. I sincerely hope this game is a lot more fun & interesting the second time around, and there’s reason for optimism because really, it can’t get much more tedious than that first contest. I think the result will be the same since there is no way LSU has kicked ass this long only to choke when the trophy is on the line. Of course lots of people said the same thing about the New England Patriots a few years back.