I spent a lot of time this weekend watching games. To me, that’s the best way to spend Thanksgiving weekend: Avoid the roads (and certainly the airports) and watch a lot of ball in-between spending time with your family. I also watched Christmas movies. I LOVE Christmas movies. ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’—the 1947 version—is about as good as it gets. I also really like ‘Elf,’—Ed Asner as Santa?; Bob Newhart as ‘Papa Elf?’ Brilliant stuff. I haven’t seen ‘White Christmas,’ yet this year but I will.
I won’t get too far into the BCS (you can read my Washington Post column on that if you want) but let me say this: Friday was a tough day. All credit to Auburn for coming back but it would have been great had Alabama won. First—and probably last—time I pulled for a Nick Saban-coached team and they blew it. They should have been up 35-0. Boise State’s loss was even more disappointing even if it did once again disprove Elwood (that’s his first name) Gee’s various ridiculous theories about schedule strength. Check out some of The Big Ten (and others) non-conference schedules. Oh, and the rumor that The Little Sisters of the Poor have been invited to join both The Big East and the ACC are true. I’m already picking them ahead of Duke if they’re in the ACC next year.
Note to my Duke friends who keep saying it’s ‘insane,’ to propose Duke leave the ACC in football. Really? How’s this for a stat: 1-20. That’s Duke’s record since Steve Spurrier left against alleged arch-rival North Carolina. When is a rivalry not a rivalry anymore? And it’s not like Carolina has been a superpower the last 21 years. Duke has also lost ELEVEN in a row to Wake Forest. That’s eleven—not a typo.
Let’s send out congratulations also to Notre Dame for finishing its season by winning three straight games. Beating Utah was semi-impressive even if the Utes failed to show up. It’s still a win over a good team. But all the screaming that, ‘Navy was an aberration,’ since the wins over Army and (very mediocre) USC smack of ‘I think they doth protest too much.’ The only real surprise for me is that the BCS apologists aren’t claiming Notre Dame should be ahead of TCU in the polls. Did anyone watch that ludicrous show Sunday night? If you believe the so-called ESPN experts, TCU is lucky to be in Division 1-A. One guy had them ranked SIXTH. Chris Fowler gets a nod as the only ESPN on-air guy with the guts to at least rank the Frogs third. You would think the panic button would be turned down over there with Boise State out of the picture but now they’re all freaking out that Oregon or Auburn might lose Saturday. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen.
Oh, one other Notre Dame note: a couple of posters accused both me and The Chicago Tribune of being unfair to dear old Notre Dame on the subject of the awful suicide story broken by The Tribune two Sundays ago. The reason is that the St. Joseph’s County police changed their story after The Tribune story broke and said they HAD been informed by the Notre Dame police about the sexual assault charge. The detective in charge, ‘forgot,’ to tell his boss about it. Really? Seriously? Ever see ‘A Few Good Men?” Remember the transfer order? Notre Dame is so busy hiding behind The Buckley Amendment and trying to make everyone else out to be the bad guy it makes a lot of people queasy.
A few other notes about posts that I finally had a chance to catch up on over the weekend. I want to thank the guy who called me a ‘shameless self promoter,’ for—among other things—not mentioning when I compliment Mary Carillo that she’s my wife. There’s a reason for that: she’s NOT my wife. My wife Christine is in the other room right now with our one-month old daughter who has her blue eyes and is quite adorable, thank you very much. Mary Carillo has been a good friend for 25 years—which, I believe, is exactly how I identify her when I write about her.
On the subject of not paying attention: Hey Hokie fans, come on down! Some of you wrote angrily about how wonderfully supportive you are of your football team. Yes, you are. In fact, what my column said—go back and read it if you’d like—is that Virginia Tech is the ONLY ACC school that sold out all its home games this season (sorry N.C. State fans, that’s according to the ACC so take it up with them if you have a dispute). I DID say they haven’t won a game that truly mattered outside the ACC in recent years, which has nothing to do with their level of support.
Some of you wondered how I would feel about Mike Wilbon leaving The Washington Post for ESPN and if that somehow proved that the fact that I would prefer (by a lot) being at The Post over ESPN was wrong. All it proves is this: ESPN threw a LOT of money at Mike’s feet. I’m glad for him. I’m sad to see him leave The Post because it was his home for 32 years and the paper was, I think he would be the first to tell you, great to him. I have no issues with someone—anyone—being swayed by a huge pay raise (ESPN, in true ESPN fashion told Mike he could only have that kind of money if he left The Post. Personally, if I’d been Mike, I’d have called their bluff. You think they would dump him? He’s actually GOOD on TV, unlike, say my close friend Rick Reilly). And, for the record, I never criticized Reilly for leaving Sports Illustrated, I simply said that I didn’t think ESPN The Magazine was in the same league with SI. I’ll stand by that statement until the end of time.
As for the guy who noted that I’m not Woodward or Bernstein: no kidding. But I’m VERY proud to work at and to have been part of (in a small way) their newspaper and the newspaper of The Graham family; Ben Bradlee; Howard Simons; Leonard Downie; Dave Kindred; Ken Denlinger; David Maraniss; Tom Boswell; Tony Kornheiser; Mike Wilbon and Herblock—among many others. Yes, I’ll take that list over Chris Berman, Bob Knight and Andy Katz without apology.
Okay, I think I’m caught up now. If you live in the Washington area, let me make a shameless plea to you to consider buying tickets to the BB+T Classic on Sunday. The first game begins at 2:30. It is Florida vs. American. Then comes Navy vs. George Washington and at 8 o’clock in what should be really good game, Temple vs. Maryland. The Terrapins are considerably better than people around here think. The hoops should be good; the Redskins game, if you HAVE to watch, is over by 4 o’clock and God knows the cause is good. The Children’s Charities Foundation, which runs the event has turned nearly $10 million over to kids at risk in 15 years. Just for comparison purposes: with a one-day event and NO NCAA exemption (as in the games not counting against the maximum you can play and no national TV contract) that’s more than TWICE what the Coaches vs. Cancer event, which is now a 16 team-event has turned over to charity in 16 years even though it has all the above-mentioned advantages. Tickets are very inexpensive in today’s market: $45 top for a tripleheader. You can get more information from Ticketmaster or at Children's Charities Foundation. At least give it some thought.