Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thanksgiving weekend of games; Catching up on comments and Wilbon move; The BB+T Classic Benefiting The Children's Charities Foundation

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.


MarkS said...

Dear John,

We completely disagree with your assessment of the BCS. We strongly support any system that excludes people based on traditional biases, confers unmitigated privilege and power on the already privileged and powerful, and makes life extraordinarily difficult for 98% of the population so that the top 2% of the population is never threatened in any way.

The Republican Party

Gunnar said...

Stanford is the 2nd best team in the Country. No mention of Andrew Beyer and George Will as Washington Post collegues?

bevo said...

MarkS: +1

UConn or any Big East team getting a BCS bid is a complete mockery of the sham known as the bowl system.

Ohio State's bid is simply dumb. Although, to be fair, Bill Snyder approves.

Dave said...

Why isn't there a national tv deal, at least for the headliner game each year? Will ESPN or Fox not get involved unless they run it too, or want control over teams, etc? Would be very interesting to know how that all works, and the pluses and minuses that go along with it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're repetitive about the BCS.

But as long as unctious airheads like Craig James and Gary Danielson are given a podium, SOMEONE needs to keep knocking them down.

But don't pick on Elwood Gee any more. He's the perfect symbol of the BCS and we don't want him to be muffled. Anything you can do to arrange an OSU-BSU bowl game?

George Mason Fan said...


Can you explain why the BB&T does not receive a NCAA exemption? I understand why schools wont commit to a two day tournament that doesn't have an exemption and thus, the move to a one day event. But for all the good the BB&T does for the community, why can't it get one? Also, any schools confirmed for next year?

Kelly King said...

John -- What's rule #1 when it comes to your sponsor? Get the name right! Look above the "7" key on your keyboard, and you'll see that little loopy-curvy thingy (channeling Sarah Palin here) commonly known as an ampersand. I believe the good folks at BB&T bank would probably prefer that you use it (the power of brand marketing and all of that), rather than you being lazy and using the "+" sign that was in your article.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Maryland game is the same time as Ravens-Steelers. I'm guessing that may have some impact on Maryland support/attendence.

Momus said...

No shout-out to your former esteemed WaPo colleague and close personal friend Norman Chad?! Say it ain't so...

By the by, have the Islanders managed to win a game yet in Jane's lifetime??

FOTB_ said...

Mr. King - our ineptitude with technology is why it is done that way, as we are having serious glitches with using the ampersand and having it appear correctly on the site. Once we figure out how to fix that, we will make it correct. It wasn't done on a basis of lack of knowledge or disrespect for your bank, a partner to be proud of.


Anonymous said...

Since you opened the door on Post colleagues, I think the name at the top of the Sport section list is Shirley Povich.

Michael said...

I watched Virginia Tech play UNLV on Sunday night in some tournament in Anaheim on ESPN. Does anyone know why the building was almost completely empty? It seemed like a decent matchup.

Anonymous said...

John: I understand naming all your WaPo collegues was impossible, but surely your Academy connections make a shout out to Rick Atkinson a must. A Civil War is "Academy Life 101". "The Long Gray Line" is Academy Life 102."

Timothy said...

Michael - I noticed that as well, and it seems to happen at all tournaments but the Maui Invitational, which seems to be played in essentially a high school gym. Even the NIT and others that end up in MSG have sparse crowds. Either they aren't marketed correctly (or at all) or they price themselves out of the market. Since TV and 'non-profits' seem to run them all of their dime, it seems to be counter-intuitive to not price them as low as possible, for as high a number in attendance as you can get.

And John, as others have chimed in, it would seem to be a great topic to talk about those in the journalism profession that you think are the best, both inside and outside of the Post. We have heard you praise Bernstein, Kornheiser and others, but I know there must be many many others. Who do you read, and follow?

charles pierce said...

OTOH, John, I think you should be embarrassed by the WaPo's "poor widdle Tommy DeLay" editorial today, to say nothing of the continued employment of the senile David Broder, the inexcusable Richard Cohen, and the bloody-handed double-headed beast that is Michael Gerson/Marc Thiessen.
To say nothing of the recent hiring of Jennifer (Nuke The Ay-Rabs!) Rubin.
Come to think of it..Fred Hiatt, too.
But that's just me...