A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘college football’

A Sports Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 10, 2014

Here’s another sports update.

Well, the regular college football season is over. Tennessee finished strong to finish with a 6-6 record, good enough to make a bowl. This is big, because we haven’t been to a bowl in four years. This year we’re going to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, against Iowa, a tough opponent. I can remember playing them in previous bowls and going 1-1 against them, I think. We’ve been bad for too long. We used to be great. We used to have 10 win seasons consistently and in 1998, we won the national championship against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. I was there for that game. It was awesome. Those were our glory days. We’ve won six national championships and have had some other great seasons, but for some reason we’ve fallen on hard times. However, we have a new second year coach — Butch Jones — who seems good, has gotten some excellent recruits, and seems on the right path. We’ve played 23 freshmen this year, more than any other team, so we’ll have experience in coming years. Next year, I expect us to win 8-9 games and challenge for the SEC East.

UT is now also in the middle of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. The men’s team lost most of its players from last year and has only one decent player and a bunch of new ones. So far, we’re 3-3. The Lady Vols have been decent, but not great, and are ranked 11th in the country so far.

Meanwhile, my Steelers have had a schizophrenic year. They’re 8-5 and in the middle of the wild card race for the playoffs. They just had a great win against division leading Cincy. The problem is, we play great against the best teams and have gotten beat by some of the worst teams in the league, teams we should easily pound, like Tampa Bay. It’s been really frustrating. Still, some of our players are having outstanding years. Career years. Ben Roethlisberger has passed for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He became the second player in league history to have two 500 yard passing games in the same season. Second year running back Le’Veon Bell has rushed for over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns and with his receiving totals, has nearly 2,000 yards, which is outstanding. Last week, he became the second player in league history, joining Walter Payton, to have three consecutive 200 yard games. And wide receiver Antonio Brown has 105 catches for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which lead the league. In fact, Brown is the leading receiver, Bell is the second leading rusher and Big Ben is the fourth ranked quarterback. All of this is really exciting and I hope they all make the Pro Bowl, because they really deserve it.

Additionally, my Pittsburgh Penguins are having an excellent year. They’re 18-6-3 and leading their division. Sidney Crosby is second in the league in scoring, after leading the league last year. Evgeni Malkin is fourth in the league in scoring. And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is fourth in the league in wins and is having perhaps his best season with a great goals against average of about 2.07. That’s  awesome for him because he’s taken a lot of criticism over the past few years for fading in the playoffs, even after helping the team win the Stanley Cup a few years ago. Even though we make the playoffs every year, we haven’t been to the Stanley Cup in five years, so I’m hoping this year we can do it. One of the problems, however, is we have tons of injuries. We’ve lost so many players to injuries that it seems these three great players are playing with all minor league players surrounding them. It’s amazing we can win any games at all. Hopefully we’ll get some players back soon because this has been ridiculous.

I guess that’s about it. I’m happy UT has made a bowl and hope we win. I’m hoping the Steelers make the playoffs and then anything can happen. A Super Bowl would be awesome. And the Penguins will go all the way to the Stanley Cup again, barring continuing injury problems. A good fall. Here’s to a good winter.


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Household Funk

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 10, 2013

There’s a funk in my household and it’s not from George Clinton. It doesn’t help that it’s dark, bleary, and rainy out either. For me, it started this past weekend when I got a $1,500 bill from my physical therapy place. I was stunned. I shouldn’t be paying a dime; my insurance should. But since it was the weekend, I was left to stew about it until Monday. It really ruined my Sunday and my enjoyment of the NFL playoffs.

When Monday morning came, I called and was told that my insurance company had denied my claims. That made no sense, so I called my insurance company. They looked back in the records three months and told me they hadn’t received one claim from this place for me. So I called the physical therapy place back and, sure enough, they had submitted the wrong subscriber ID. It was an old one from two years ago! I was pissed. I told them that they had a photocopy of my current insurance card, why couldn’t they get it right, and they had no answer. They said they would resubmit the claims. I then drove down to my local physical therapy office and had it out with the receptionist, who I’m sure mis-keyed my ID in the computer. She apologized, but I cancelled the rest of my appointments. I also didn’t like it that I was having to pay a co-pay three times a week, when no other office in town charges me a co-pay and my insurance doesn’t require it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to them, even if they are supposed to be the best.

Monday night was the NCAA national championship between Alabama and Notre Dame, which Bama, of course, won by killing Notre Dame 42-14. As I’m a Tennessee fan, I’m also an SEC fan, so it was good to see an SEC team win the national championship for the seventh straight year. Talk about domination! But I was still stewing over this bill, and other unpaid bills. I’m unemployed right now, and have lots of bills — and lots of medical bills — piled up waiting to be paid. It’s been pretty rough. And I can’t get that out of my mind. It’s weighing heavily on me.

I’m trying to get my mind off of things by reading. I’m reading one book called The President’s Club, which isn’t a page turner, but is interesting. It’s about the relationships presidents have with former presidents. The other book I’m reading is Scar Tissue, by Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve loved the band since the mid-80s, but the book is kind of  depressing because so much of Anthony’s life was caught up in coke and heroin, along with other things. It’s a crazy book, but one I should probably be reading on sunny days.

Of course I’m paying attention to politics. I’m very interested to see what will happen with gun control. I know I’ll probably upset some readers, but I’m in favor of it, and I’m a proud gun lover. I don’t see why we need assault weapons for sale to the general public! Their only use is for killing people! You don’t hunt deer with an AR 15. I also don’t think we need high capacity magazines. Who needs 30 rounds for self protection? Again, those are made for murdering people. I also think there should be background checks for every gun sale, and mental health should be made a greater priority. And I sure as hell DON’T think arming our teachers is the answer! So I’m worried Biden will come back with some of these recommendations, and just when the public is behind the administration, the NRA will swoop in and get its paid off Congressmen to defeat new legislation. I don’t understand how the NRA, with only 4 million members, can hold so much sway over the country. I’ve had arguments with friends and non-friends about this situation, and of course I’ve heard the tired refrain that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Well, people use guns to kill people. Look, the other civilized nations have gun control laws and they have something like 20 or 40 gun murders a year. We have over 10,000!!! It’s not a coincidence. Fewer guns means fewer deaths. It’s that simple. Of course, it won’t mean an immediate stop to crime, and yes, criminals will still find ways to get guns, but these people committing mass murders weren’t criminals. They were nuts. If there had been a decent database to track these types of people, perhaps they never could have bought their guns. It’s a thought, anyway.

Today I have to go to the vet to get some flea medication for the cats. I have to go get a damn flu shot. I promised my fiance I finally would. Didn’t realize it would be killing people. See, the last two times I got flu shots — years ago — I got the flu, so I never get them. I guess I will today though. I have to go to Staple to buy labels. We’re doing our own wedding invitations and they look pretty good. That’s the one bright spot for the week. I’ve really enjoyed working on them, and working on our wedding registry too. These labels are the last thing we need, and then we can mail them out! Exciting.

Since my last surgery last October, I haven’t had TN-type head and facial pain, but I’ve been having a lot of standard headaches. Yesterday I had an all day headache, and it just wouldn’t respond to any type of medication. I’ve also been very tired, and have been having trouble sleeping. I’ve been up since 3:30 AM today. I’m tired and grumpy. I do hope to finish these two books reasonably soon so I can write new book reviews. I have four others that I’m in the middle of, but they’re definitely not page turners, so it’s slow going. I’m really disappointed with the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I’m about a third of the way through it and hoping it improves. So far, he was just a punk.

I’ve also been reading poetry submissions for the magazine I serve as poetry editor for — Ray’s Road Review. I accepted poems from two writers yesterday. One was quite good. I rejected poems from two others. I have about seven more to work through today. They don’t appear to be very promising. I’m trying to finalize the Spring 2013 issue while beginning work on the Summer issue.

My fiance has been down too. She misses her family back North, and is having work issues. She’s frustrated, and it’s frustrating that I can’t help her more.

I guess that’s the end of my diatribe for the day. Sorry if I brought you down. Sorry if I upset too many NRA members. The weather is supposed to be bad through the weekend, but hopefully I’ll be able to recover my good mood somehow. Hopefully my fiance and I will have a good weekend. Until the next time — cheers!

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On UT’s New Football Coach

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 7, 2012

The University of Tennessee hired Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones to become UT’s new football coach today. A lot of people have a lot to say about that, including me.

First, I am a UT alumnus and a big football fan. I have been for decades. And if you follow college football at all, you’ll know I’ve been pretty depressed over the past few years with the state of Tennessee football. Coach Phil Fulmer won us a national championship in 1998 and he’ll forever be remembered fondly for that, but the program fell down a few levels at the end of his watch, resulting in two out of three losing seasons. After he was fired, the idiot AD hired the recently fired Oakland Raiders coach, Lane Kiffin, who had a losing record and who I immediately hated. All he did was come in, make enemies around college football, insult people, take us to a 7-6 record and leave after one season to go coach USC. Half the players left and the cupboard was bare. Three years ago, then, we hired Derrick Dooley, who I hated immediately. He came from Louisiana Tech, a WAC school, where he also had another losing record, 17-20. And here he was ready for the big time??? All he did was come in and lose. Three straight losing seasons. Humiliating losses. This year’s defense was the worst in the history of the school, dating back to the 1800s. He was a nice guy, but in way over his head. So Dooley got fired with one game left in the season.

So here we are. UT’s new AD looked around for a prominent winner and nobody wanted anything to do with us. Why has UT football fallen so low? How did this happen? We have one of the largest stadiums in the country, seating over 102,000, the best facilities, a rabid fan base, etc., et al, but no one wants to come coach us. WTF? First, we allegedly went after Jon Gruden, who won the Super Bowl, but didn’t seem likely to leave Monday Night Football to coach a college team. I thought that was wishful thinking. Then we talked about FSU’s Jimbo Fisher, but that was just talk. Meanwhile, other schools — including three SEC schools — were hiring coaches like crazy! Why were we taking so long? Make a freakin’ hire, and make a good one!

Apparently, we talked to a number of coaches and offered the job to Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who turned us down, and more recently, to Louisville’s Charlie Strong, who also turned us down. WTF? Who turns down a major SEC school to stay at their schools, especially one in the Big East like Louisville? I thought TCU’s Gary Patterson might be an interesting hire, but no one talked to him. I also like the job the Boise State coach has done, but apparently he wasn’t considered either. So one day after Charlie Strong turned us down, the news is released that UT has hired Butch Jones away from Cincy. To say there’s a mixed reaction amongst the fan base is mild. It’s pretty hot on the Knoxville News-Sentinel sports boards right now. Here’s my take.

The pros:

  • He’s a winner. He has a 54-27 record as a head coach at the college level.
  • He wins championships. Out of his six years of coaching, he’s won his conference championship (or tied for the win) four times. That’s a pretty good track record.
  • He took Cincy to some good bowl games and won 19 games over the past two years, beating some solid Big East teams.
  • He’s young and following in the footsteps of Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, who coached before him at Central Michigan and then at Cincinnati, before leaving to coach the Irish. Maybe he can emulate his track record, who knows?
  • He was West Virginia’s offensive coordinator when they won 10 games two years in a row and threw up lots of points in a spread offense. Exciting.

The cons:

  • He was UT’s fifth choice, behind Gruden, Oklahoma State, Louisville & North Carolina’s head coaches. That’s worse than Dooley, who was our fourth choice several years ago.
  • The Big East is no longer a power conference, and is basically a joke as a conference now that most of the good schools have left it for the ACC or Big 12. The level of competition he’s faced won’t come close to what he’ll face in the SEC. Pitt & Syracuse? Please! Try Florida and Georgia back to back, mixed in with a little Alabama and LSU. We also have to play South Carolina and the rest. He’s not battle tested in a real power conference.
  • The word is he can maintain good levels of play, but can he rebuild? He’s never had to, following Kelly the whole time. Can he recruit at the SEC level? Can he rebuild a once proud school into the type of football team people are clamoring for? Only time will tell.
  • This is the one that really annoys me, and if you read what people are writing online, this gets a lot of UT fans: Dooley beat the hell out of him head to head in 2011. That was Dooley’s only victory over a ranked opponent and Cincy was embarrassed by middling SEC talent. That’s truly worrisome, since Dooley couldn’t beat anyone else worth a darn.

I guess when it comes down to it, I’m cautiously excited. I think it’s a much better hire than Kiffiin or Dooley were. He’s a proven winner. I think he has potential. He wins championships. But he hasn’t won against consistent top 25 talent like he’ll face in the SEC, so my enthusiasm is tempered by that a bit. It also worries me that he was UT’s fifth choice. He was actually going to leave for one win Colorado yesterday before UT came calling. He clearly wants to move up in the conferences and he’s capable. He was signed to a six year deal. Our three best offensive players are all juniors and word is they’re all leaving for the NFL draft this year. That’s horrible. If he can talk them into staying, UT could field a winning team next year, provided he hires a solid defensive coordinator. If they leave, we’ll have another losing year next year, but I’d expect about 7 wins in two years and 8 or 9 in three, followed by our formerly expected double digit win seasons at Year Four. Those are my expectations. I want to make it back to a bowl game in two years, and to a good one in three. A BCS-type bowl in no less than four. If he hasn’t been able to do that in four years, never mind his six year contract — it’ll be time to find someone else. Hell, Auburn just fired their coach who only won them a national championship two short years ago. It’s win now or else, and keep winning. That’s pressure. But that’s what the big bucks buy. My take for three years has been if Florida, Bama, LSU & South Carolina can all hire high profile, national championship winning coaches, why can’t UT??? Maybe this guy can do it for us. I sure hope so. As always, Go Vols!!!

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