Saturday, December 29, 2012

Louisville vs. Kentucky


CATS VS CARDS: IS IT THE BIGGEST RIVALRY IN COLLEGE SPORTS?

Louisville and Kentucky basketball renew their rivalry Saturday at 4 p.m. in the KFC YUM! Center and on CBS Television. The Cards, #3 in the nation, are favored this year...for the first time in about a bazillion years.

This worries me. I've gotten used to Louisville being the underdog in the game. Ever since
John Calipari arrived in Lexington and set up his NBA Training program, the Cats have had a succession of "one and done" players breeze in and out of Rupp Arena that would rival patrons walking in and out of the Starbucks on Shelbyville Road. Without mocha delights.

I haven't followed this UK team very closely this year. Normally, I do like to have a broad-based familiarity on whose going to kick the crap out of my Cardinals...and I understand that
this particular Wildcat roster is not in the top-25.

They're probably not getting paid as much as the previous state employees either.

I have heard about the guy in the middle, Nervous Noel. Or Naworleans Noel. Whatever. My buddy "The Solo-Man" who lives and breathes Cardinal men's hoops tells me that he's OK around the hoop but the Cats will have trouble getting the ball to him because of our guards Russdiculous and Peyton. (What...they're going to take him to Waffle House)?

I understand UK also has a pretty good guard named Archie Goodwin. What a great sports name!

"Hey, Archie. Good win!"

I also think of my pal Bread Boy, who's first name is Archie. He's a big UofL fan. Then, there's Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica. Along with Nervous Noel, I assume that's
the UK starting lineup...

I am fond of this UofL team. They seem to be very talented , deep, prolific at scoring and they like grits, eggs, waffles and sugar. That gets a big O.K.! from me.  

The coaches...well, the only other thing that I'll say about them is this:

Sonja and I were in Memphis several years ago to attend a UofL vs. Memphis football game. This was the year we found a tailgate party for Newby's (a popular Memphis bar/restaurant)  that was being held in this big warehouse-type building, music blaring...fans of both schools having fun and dancing to recorded music.

It was near the lot we were tailgaiting in at the Liberty Bowl. Since her maiden name was
Newby...we went to go check it out and happened to run into the guy who owns Newby's and was running the tailgate. He invited us in, gave us food and drink wristbands at no charge an even a blue Memphis t-shirt with the Tigers and Newby's logo on it. I was talking
to a Memphis fan whose table we were sitting at and he mentioned that he saw we had
gotten Rick Pitino to come to Louisville. I'll never forget his words.

"Ya know, now that you got Pitino, it means that neither UofL or Memphis have basketball coaches anymore (referring to then-head Memphis coach John Calipari). What we have is
a couple of Italian Salesmen."

Louisville won the game that evening and we decided to check out his resataurant/bar after the contest. It was full of twenty-somethings and they had a rapper DJ. We didn't stay long.

So, in today's game, I'll watch and see which salesman has the best product to promote. Even though I'm worried about the Cards chances, I do think they have the superior talent.
I hope it shows up.

Cards 88 - Cats 83.

-Paulie


Thursday, December 13, 2012

ME AND THE BOBSTER

I read with humorous interest that Bobby Petrino is planning of becoming a Kentucky
resident again. At least it isn't in Louisville. The fine folks of Bowling Green, KY will
get The Bobster for a year or two. The beautiful thing about all this is that Hilltopper
football fans are excited that they're getting a nationally known football dignitary just
two days after USF played tag with Willie Taggart and won.

Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.

The word is that Petrino has changed his ways, accepted that his previous mis-doings
were wrong and he's taking steps to re-brand his image and make amends with his family.

That's a good sign.

All this reminds me of my first encounter with the former Louisville head football coach.

It was shortly after he had arrived on campus and was doing the weekly shows on WHAS
radio with Paul Rogers. We had been attending the shows for several years, first with Ron
Cooper and then John L. Smith, at the Kingfish restaurant on River Road. They used to set
up a great buffet for those pre-show meals and it was a fun event for a dozen or so months
a year. 

When the Bobster arrived, the locality eventually got switched to the old Tumbleweed on
Mellwood Avenue. It became increasingly hard to call-in and get a table reserved for these shows...
but we still managed to get a table most weeks...with another couple who we tailgate with.

I have this football I got as a Christmas gift years ago. It came with Howard Schnellenberger's
autograph on it. I liked it and kept it displayed in my basement. When Cooper came on
board, I got his autograph also. Same with John L. So, when Bobby breezed into town, I
figured I'd ask him to add his name to it also.

I approached him shortly before the show began while he was dining with his wife and kids
at the Tumbleweed. Other people had been going over to his table, so I saw no harm in
joining them. I smiled, complimented him on his success as UofL football head coach and
asked him to sign the football. I even had a Sharpie with me for him to use.

He never looked up from his plate of food. Mumbled that I needed to take it to the football
office and leave it with the secretary and he'd take care of it there. I backed away from the
table. Stunned. Surprised. A little baffled.

We stopped going to the weekly football broadcasts shortly after that and we haven't been
back to one since. Don't even listen to them much on the radio anymore. I did accidently
stumble upon one when I went to the Tumbleweed on River Road for a wedding rehearsal
dinner and the show was there that night also. Saw Charlie leave. Shook his hand. Smiling
broadly, he thanked me for being a Cardinal fan.

I bet he would have signed a football, too.

I never got around to taking that football to the football office. I never got around to getting Steve Kragthorpe to sign it either...while he was here. Haven't approached Charlie about it yet. When we moved, I put the football in a box with other things I had displayed in the basement. Haven't gone
through that box in a long time.

I hope Bobby Petrino has a good stay in Bowling Green. I wish him success. I hope he's sincere
about changing his lifestyle and reconnecting with his family.

And I hope he signs a few footballs for fans in public.
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Friday, December 7, 2012

CHARLIE STRONG DECIDES TO STAY IN LOUISVILLE

All the drama that has swirled around the football program and head coach Strong has now
finally been abated with Strong's announcement that he's turned down the offer to coach
the Tennessee Volunteers and remain at Louisville. On the surface, this appears to be very
good news for UofL football, athletic director Tom Jurich and the community as a whole.

I was able to talk to a top-secret source at UofL yesterday, though...and the terms for re-
negotiating his contract are...well...simply unbelievable! Here's what my clandestine
informant told me.

1) Charlie will now be mandatorally referred to in all media releases as: "The Great and Powerful Strong...seer of seers, divine light shining brightly above us all and best thing that ever happened
to Louisville" Good luck in getting all that in an article, on a business card or on his office door.

2) Charlie will receive a raise and will be paid in cash. Daily. In one, five and ten dollar bills...
to be delivered by knights dressed in armor...riding shiny, strapping white stallions. By 9 a.m.

3) Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will be re-named "The House that Charlie Built" and all patrons
who attend will be required to bow and genuflex in front of Charlie Strong life-sized statues...which
will be placed at every entrance, in every restroom and in front of each beer stand.

4) The teams' football uniform jerseys will have a smiling image of Charlie on the front and his
current net financial worth (updated for each game) on the back. No player names anymore and
player's numbers will be written in with eraseable magic markers...at coach's discretion and subject
to change without prior notice. The helmets will feature the Cardinal Bird kissing Charlie's feet.

5) Two holidays a year will be set aside to celebrate him. His birthday and the day he decided to
stay at Louisville. All state and local governmental offices will be closed and cars will be banned
from highways. All local television stations will pre-empt regularly scheduled programming and
devote 24 hours of coverage to Charlie. Paul Rogers is expected to emcee.

I think these are pretty great ideas and wish Charlie the best of luck in getting these implemented.
After all, football is king and we now have a royal figure for life now in Coach Strong.

Meanwhile, in Lexington.....
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top Ten reasons ACC chose Louisville

OK, a little tongue-in-cheek humor time here now that the Cards have safely been included into the fold of the ACC (Awesomely Cool Conference).

TOP 10 Reasons ACC Presidents Voted to Include Louisville

10. Conference meetings in Churchill's Turf Club on Derby Eve. (Woof!...)
 9.  Calhoun promised to come back as UConn coach if UConn got the nod.
 8.  Russ Smith called them.
 7.  Calipari paid off a couple more. No surprise there.
 6.  "Connecticut" and "Coast" start with a "C". Wanted to avoid 'All-Connecticut Conference' t-shirts.
 5.  Hmmm...Charlie Strong or Paul Pasqualie?...Seriously?
 4.  Ever tried to get a hot brown and mint julep in Storrs?
 3.  The thought of Geno Auriemma on ACC-TV was just too much to bear.
 2.  Officials were afraid UofL would bolt to C-USA if an offer wasn't extended
 1.  Another chance to "stick it" to West Virginia again.

TOP 10 Reasons the BIG EAST is a sinking ship

10. ESPN dropping TV contract. The Comedy Channel offering to pick it up.
 9.  Conference vote to add Bellarmine and Wofford as "football members only" almost passed.
 8.  They added the Pirates. The East Carolina Pirates. We all know what Pirates do to ships...
 7.  Papal support for BIG EAST now weakened since Notre Dame left.
 6.  Accepted Tulane because "it's really easy to spell and they got Mardi Gras!"
 5.  Calipari offering to buy league.
 4.  New league logo is a moving van with a flat tire.
 3.  Lee Corso being considered for Conference Commissioner
 2.  Landlord just raised rent on BIG EAST Corporate offices.
 1.  Arkansas offering to join if they change the name to PIG EAST.

Thank you and good night! You've been a great crowd!  We'll be here two more weeks. Be sure to tip your bartenders and waitresses.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Conference, schmonference...nothing to see here.

The musical chairs game of conference re-alignment has picked up again. Maryland and Rutgers maybe to the (fill in the blank). Connecticut pondering a move to the (fill in the blank). FSU and Clemson mad as hell at (fill in the blank). Philadelphia Textile and Pharmacy College looking at (fill the prescription by Monday, please).

It just doesn't matter.

Why? Because the scenario is just going to change again in a couple of months. People get worked up about it. Message Boards fret about it. Otherwise respectable journalist obsess about it. Aliens monitor the Earth and laugh about it. The chimps have taken over the zoo.

I was talking with someone the other day about when the Major Leagues had (8) teams in the National League and (8) in the American League. He looked at me like my hair was on fire.

"How long ago was that?" he asked skeptically.

"When I was in grade school." I politely replied.

"Oh...back before there were I-Pods and Call of Duty?"

"Back before there was touch-tone and Pong..."

Football, of course...and ESPN are the driving factors in all this shake-up and musical chairs. Football equals money. I'll say it again. Football = money. ESPN dictates football. If ESPN likes you, you will prosper and get the Saturday afternoon games. If they don't, you play at noon or play Friday at 8 p.m.

My solution? Form eight "superconferences" with 16 teams each. Do it regionally. I'd call them the East Coast, West Coast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Northern and Southern. That's 144 football teams. Drop everyone else down to Division I-AA status. You could divide each conference into two divisions of eight schools each. Have the winners of the divisions play each other for the Conference championship. Then, the eight winners go into quarterfinal playoffs. Seed them, just like basketball does and #1 plays #8 and so on. You can tie-in bowl games into it if you want. Eight games, followed by four more games, then two games and a championship. Fifteen "bowl" games. It's half of the number out there currently. It's plenty.

If you want more...then have the runner-ups of each conference championship play each other. Eight more games. Let's be brutally honest. 36 bowls games a year is ridiculous.

The process would take four weeks. Most bowl-bound schools are practicing during those four weeks anyway, so playing up to four games isn't too much. Divide the games equally among the networks and rotate which network gets the National Championship game each year...just like Pro Football does. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN. Three each. What could be more simpler?

Would I miss the Car Care Bowl and Motor City Bowl? Are you kidding me?

How would this work out for the other collegiate sports...like basketball, baseball and soccer? No problem. Just add the other 200 or so to the conference nearest them for the additional sports. A basketball team plays 30 games during the season. If your Duquense, for example...would it kill you to play 30 games against schools in a four state area around you? Travel expenses go down (a boon for struggling-revenue athletic programs) and fans are more liable to travel to West Virginia for a game than Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton.

Food for thought.

In closing...imagine this basketball conference..

Louisville
Kentucky
Cincinnati
Indiana
Eastern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Morehead
Murray State
Indiana State
Purdue
Ball State
Murray
Xavier
Dayton
Miami (OH)
Evansville
Vanderbilt
Memphis
Tennessee
Tennessee Tech
Austin Peay
Tennessee Martin
Middle Tennessee
Ohio State
Wright State
Ohio U
Marshall
IUPUI
Belmont
Northern Kentucky

How many of those "away" games would you travel to?

Wake up, NCAA. It's time to get organized and use a little common sense.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Tuesday is election day. The onslaught of political commercials on TV will finally end and that's a good thing. Seriously, have you ever decided to vote for a candidate because of a TV commercial?

The big enchilada is the Presidential race, of course. I'm not going to go into any impassioned pleas here with you to vote for either of these two guys, but I do think it's improtant to go out and vote if you prefer one of the other. IF you don't vote, then you have no legit reason to complain if your candidate doesn't win.

I've been voting since 1976. Haven't missed a presidential election yet since then. This will be my tenth Presidential election that I've voted in. So far, I'm 4-5 in choosing the winner. If I had this kind of record in football head coaching, Lexington fans would be calling for a contract extension. Louisville fans would be calling for my resignation. Funny how that goes, isn't it?

I've expressed a philosophy for years that it really doesn't matter who the president is...because big business runs the country. Each party slings mud at each other, blames each other and claims that they, not the opposition, have the real answer to solve whatever woes are ailing the country.

I see it this way. When big business is successful, jobs are plentiful, money is being spent, consumers are purchasing and the words recession and stagnant aren't used very often. When big business struggles, one of the parties call for a change...but it's big business that needs changing.

I have long been a proponent for the concept of keeping jobs in America intead of outsourcing them to third-world and cheaper labor countries. I remember the glory days in my hometown, when the factories were rolling, there were plenty of good, local and high-paying jobs in manufacturing. When International Harverster, GE, Ford, Phillip Morris, Brown and Williamson, American Standard, AAF and other corporations had strong and viable factories in Louisville. Those days are gone.

Big business spoke.

So, if you feel strongly about either Obama or Romney, go vote for one of them tomorrow. Same goes for the local races. Got a favorite? Make it known on a ballot.

If you choose not to vote, them don't complain if it doesn't go your way. It's like whining about how bad the buffet looks when you order off the menu. I don't wanna hear it and no one else does either.

But, remember that it's little more than a popularity contest. Big business dictates the terms.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Football games against Cincinnati are some of my favorite football trips and memories. I'll share a few with you.

First, we go back to the late seventies. A hastily arranged trip to Cincy to watch the Cards play UC by me and several of my frat brothers. A night game and the plan was to go watch horse racing at nearby Latonia Race Track (now Turfway) that afternoon and then to the game. Five guys, one car, two cases of beer and a bucket of chicken. We arrive at Latonia fairly smashed and "the Fish" hits a exacta that pays over $400.

More beer and we arrive to tailgate 45 minutes before kickoff. The smell of brats in Nippert Stadium is overpowering as we enter and each guy has two or more. Louisville wins, Crazy George nearly gets into a fight in the parking lot after the game and Barry decides to drive us home on US 42 instead of I-71. Five guys taking a "potty break" behind an abandoned gas station in the middle of nowhere and almost running out of gas before finding a open station on Brownsboro Road.

A night halloween game in Cincy and the group Sonja and I go up with decides to dress up in costume. Jim and Lou in clown suits. Sonja and I wearing masks...( I'm George Bush and she's Jimmy Carter). Bellowing at the crowd "Four more beers!" with my mask on while in the stands. The stares. Every one deciding to spend the night in the Travelodge near campus after the Louisville win. The desk clerk asking if we wanted the two rooms for the night or for an hour. Me pretty much crawling into Jim and Lou's room at 6 a.m. and begging for aspirin.

Tailgating in the parking lot on a clear, crisp afternoon and tossing the football around with a bunch of kids. One of them Denny Crum's son. Coach sitting in a chair, watching, smiling and talking with passerbys as I make sure and toss several touchdown passes to his son. Coach coming over to sit with us at the game and giving us a brilliant, rambling commentary on Louisville's offense. Me offering Coach a nip from my bottle of Maker's that I'd smuggled in. Coach declining.

The bus trips....so many and so much fun.

Getting off the bus at UC parked behind a dorm and drinking for three straight hours before managing to get in Nippert. Losing Chris during the first half, going to find him at halftime and eventually seeing him with a whole pizza, propped up against a trash can, munching and talking to a beautiful blonde in a UC sweatshirt. Buying beers for the three of us and not making it back to the seats until the fourth quarter. That blonde telling us that she'd like to take us back to her apartment and do some pretty wild things with us. He and I declining and going back to sit with our wives. Watching Linda cook bologna on a grill after the game behind the dorm and dozens of people lined up holding pieces of white bread to get slices of burned sandwich meat fresh off the grill.

The bus trip with the "broccoli lady". Stopping at Montgomery Inn Boathouse after the game, polishing off a rack of ribs, watching her stagger around the room carrying a plate of vegetables and then listening to her deliver an impassioned, obscenity-laced and inspirational speech over the bus P.A. system on the way back to Louisville on why we need to buy UofL women's basketball season tickets.

"Those f'cking Lady f'cking Cards are f'cking great and you f'cking need to buy f'cking tickets, f'ckers!"

Sitting in the snow one year at the UC game in Nippert with the late Don French, while the majority of the bus riders bailed out and went into a dorm lobby on campus and watched the game on TV. Don and I finishing all the "airport" bottles he smuggled in and then several of us getting lost on the way back to the bus.

Having to enter Nippert Stadium one year through the Shoemaker Arena because of construction and seeing (then) coach Bob Huggins in the hallway. Walking over to him, shaking his hand and then delivering a rambling, dis-jointed speech to him about BIG EAST basketball while he warily eyed me and was probably wondering what the hell were all these UofL fans doing in his basketball arena...They fired Bob several months later. I can't help but think he was glad to get out of there...

Me and MArkie-MArk grilling tons of meat for the bus riders, using two antiquated charcoal grills on a gravel road 13 blocks from the stadium during a tailgate and giving most of it away to college students. The bus driver almost knocking over a fire-hydrant while trying to park and the memorable frozen pound hunk of hamburger we cooked and subsequently gave away to a guy who put it between two buns and ate it in front of us....juice rolling down his chin and all over his white sweat shirt. He said it was the best burger he ever had. We think he was just stoned and hungry.

Last year at Paul Brown Stadium, meeting former UC basketball great Herb Jones supervising a concession stand booth and talking his ear off for the entire second quarter. Leaving the game, encountering three Cincinnati policemen and getting into a bargaining session with them...trying to buy their white uniform hats. The officers good-naturedly playing along and offering to give us a golf-cart ride back to where the bus was parked. Sonja's memorable parting comment..."No, that's OK. He's drunk and needs to walk it off."

Had me some great fun on the road at UC football games. My kind of town.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I guess the city of Lexington is waiting for the Joker to be removed from the crumbling deck of cards that is know as UK Football. On the surface, a lot of UK fans feign indifference about the gridiron program...especially now that basketball is so close. Deep down, you know it irks them.

USF recently ran an open forum for questions to be submitted to embattled football coach Skip Holtz and possibly to be answered on his weekly radio show. The Bulls are 2-4 and 'Mama ain't happy in Tampa, boys...' Some of the questions were hilarious and most will never make the airwaves.

So, in that same vein, here a list of questions that could be fun for Joker Phillips to wade through on his weekly football show. Enjoy!

Hey Coach, Do you wake up most mornings, look in the mirror and mutter, "Dude, u suck!" ?

Dear Coach Phillips. I have a small piece of property outside some swamp land in Arkansas. With the real estate market the way it is, I'm willing to build a small cabin on it, equip it with an outhouse and will consider running electricity and water to the property. If I turn the deed over to you, would you kindly get the f&^% out of Lexington?

Joker. Are you part of a Communist or Tea Party plot to undermine morals, corrupt the youth and ruin football at UK?

Coach, did your panties get in a uproar and all moist in Fayetteville last week, bitch?

Hey loser! Would you please get in your pimpmobile, wipe that s#!$-eating grin off your face and kindly get on I-75 South and never return?

Hi, Mr. Butthead! You are an epic fail of huge proportions. Do you still have a penis?

Do you like Spaghetti-O's? I love them! I often eat them straight out of the can! Maybe you could come over and we could eat them and look at my picture collection of shot-putters? I would like to see UK Football but I can't leave the house because I poopie all the time. Could you bring the team over to play in my backyard? Or could you put a toilet on the sidelines at Commonwealth and maybe I could sit there, go poopie and watch? I love Spaghetti-O's!

How much did Charlie Strong pay you to throw the season?

Hi, Coach! I coach a 4th grade team at St. Blessed Fish Fry and I think I have some plays that my kids run that could be of some help to you. Or, I could lend you a few of my players?

I have been a UK football fan since the days of Blanton Collier. I am so disgusted with this year's team that I have started to build a small nuclear device in my shed. What's the address of the UK Football office?

Bozo. Would you please put the crack pipe down and just walk away from it?

Is it true that John Calipari had you served with a restraining order to keep you 500 yards away from anything that has to do with UK Basketball? How's life on Shit Avenue?

Have a great Wednesday! I'm going to go warm up some Spaghetti-O's now, Bye bye!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Department of Codes and Regulations in the city of Louisville, more specifically The Division of Inspections, Permits and Licenses has it in for me. A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from them concerning my rental property down by UofL. It concerned my garage on the property. It was the first garage and house we ever owned. Lived there a good, long time and I have fond memories of that garage, the work I did in there...building it into a structurally sound and functional workspace, storage area and even a place to park a car.

This did not impress the Division. They're more worried about peeling paint and a few stray weeds. The Code Enforcement Officer sent me a two page letter, expressing her disappointment on the growth and paint chips. Gave me a month to square it away before " you will be subject to a citation, including a fine and possible criminal sanctions, as provided by law."

Fast forward to the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange.

Inmate 3047264:  'Whaddya in for, tall drink of water?"
Paulie: "Weed and paint crimes."

I am not ready to spend whatever years I have left busting up rocks with a sledge-hammer and making license plates. I've watched the movie Shawshank Redemption enough times to realize that i probably wouldn't make a great inmate...so I went about complying with the correction of these dastardly and criminal violations.

The first step was clearance of the weeds. I brought along my organic and plant-growing expert, who doubles as my wife, to survey the situation and "nip it in the bud." Armed with hedge trimmers, hand-held clippers, brooms, rakes, shovels and plastic trash bags...we descended on the blight to society one afternoon...ready for battle and with a firm resolve. Gonna kick some noxious plant growth's ass!

It took about two hours, but we cut, trimmed, swept and raked diligently until the area looks like a promo for Better Homes and Gardens. The Queen Mother would be proud to spend an afternoon picnic soiree there now...with croquet matches and finger sandwiches. Step one...done.

I had a plan for the next step. And a Plan B. I consulted with my renter of the property, showed him what needed to be done and proposed a reduction of rent for the month if he'd do the work. He whole-heartedly agreed at first. Several days later, I got a phone call from him.

"P. That's just too big a job for me. I'm gonna pass on it." he informed me.

On to Plan B. I know a couple of painters. Used them before on various jobs. Loved their work. So, I arranged to meet them at the scene of the crime and get quotes. The first guy spent about 10 minutes walking around the garage, scratched down a few notes and then fire me a price.

After I got up from passing out in shock, I responded with a "seriously, dude...that much?"

"It's a lot of work. I'm pretty busy right now and I'd barely be able to squeeze this job in before the deadline." he blithely informed me. I thanked him for his time.

The next guy had done work at my properties before. He's more of a handyman/hauler type of guy, but he's pretty good with a paint brush, too. Once again, I made the trek to inspect and greet. He walked the scene of the crime, pointed out a few things to me and shot me a price. Higher than the first guy's quote. I tried the bargaining ploy. Got him down a few dollars by offering to supply the paint. Not enough, though. I told him I'd let him know. He emphasized that he "and a buddy" would be able to start on it immediately. I guess so, at those prices.

I talked it over with my wife. She was shocked at the cost, as well. So, I developed Plan C. Do it myself.

Scraping. More scraping. Painting. More painting. Up and down the ladder. I was beginning to realize that for every good intention, comes a bucketful of second-guessing and pain. The job was laborious, boring and tedious. The neighbor down the street, who had received a similar notice of violation about his garage has five boys...all over eighteen. He has a ready-made, home-grown work force and he told me they were going to team up on it on a Saturday and then have a little cookout later that afternoon.

I refrained from scraping and painting him.

My quads and hamstrings will probably never recover. My shoulders and arms feel like I've been in the ring with Mike Tyson for 10 rounds. My feet hurt, my knees ache and I may never successfully get the paint off my fingers, ladder, shoes and forehead.

But, it is done. I have gained a new-found respect for painters. I now realize just what they go through. I'm not considering becoming one, mind you...although a steady stream of income like that would have me eventually on the beach in Naples...pounding drinks with little umbrellas in them and dining on lobster and steak each night.

I have won the battle. I beat the rap and won't be sharing a cell with a guy named Bubba.

But, lord...I am tired.
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Monday, October 8, 2012

You gotta love "found" money.

I was surfing around the Internet late Sunday morning and decided to check out my TVG account. In case you aren't familiar with TVG, it is a site where you can wager on the horses on the Internet.. They have a TV channel also and they're showing Keeneland during the fall meet.

I hadn't used it in a while and wasn't sure if I had any money left in it. I switched to Twinspires.com a few years back. I barely remembered my account # and password over at TVG, but was able to access my information and got a good surprise. I had a little over $120 still in the account.

I'm a big fan of jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. and saw that he was on four horses on the Sunday card. I decided to "go for broke" and put $10 "across the board" on his four chances. This all but wiped out my balance...the cost of investment was $120.

Things got busy, though...as they usually do on Sunday afternoon...and I didn't get around to watching any of the races until right before the 3rd race. That was also his first ride of the day. He was on a horse named Rivers Legacy, and the horse got off to a pretty good start in the seven furlong race but got tired around the turn for home and finished pretty far back and out of the money. My "go for broke" strategy was off to a rough start.

Brian had a mount in the next race and Keeneland runs races every half hour or so. I had a quick errand to run so I motored off, got that done and got back home in time to see the start of the race. He didn't start off too well in the mile race but started picking up momentum at the 1/2 pole and came flying down the stretch to grab second place by about a neck. Couldn't catch the winner, but he had pretty good odds at 12-1 and the horse that won was 21-1, so the payoff for place and show wasn't bad. $30 invested again, but a payoff of $92...so I was ahead $32 dollars for the day. Miss Squeal was the name of the horse. I squealed in delight.

I really liked his chances in the next race. He was on a horse trained by Charlie Lopresti named Rivendell. Once again, the start was a little slow but he swung Rivendell outside of the pack as they enered the turn, drove him hard down the stretch and hit the wire first by about a half-length. At 5-1, the payout wasn't too bad...$120 returned on the $30 spent and I now had a nice $122 profit on the day

Brian's final ride of the day was in the Bourbon Stakes, a stakes race for 2 year olds on the turf. Brian is a great turf rider and I was surprised that his horse, Strike The Note, wasn't getting much respect at 32-1. He had the runner pretty close to the leaders in the mile and one-sixteeth race and made a nice outside move to
go for the lead as they started down the stretch. Then,  another horse, named Really Sharp, sweved violently right into the side of Strike the Note and almost knocked Brian off his charging mount. The impact knocked Strike The Note into the horse on his right and a horse sandwich with Strike the Note being the meat in between the two pieces of bread occured.

Pinched back, he steadied his stunned horse and tried to get him re-started...but it was too late and he finished fifth. Really Sharp was disqualified from second because of the bumping incident. Strike The Note really looked like he was getting ready to unload on the field and I thought he might have won the race if he hadn't got so rudely slammed just when he was kicking into high gear.

I lost the $30 wagered but still had a $92 profit and no wagers left pending.

So, it should come as no surprise to you readers that I've decided to keep this little "bet on Brian" strategy going the rest of the Keeneland meet. They run again Wednesday at Keeneland, so I'll check the paper and see what kind of rides he has.

A $92 total profit on $120 wagered isn't bad. Beat the heck out of the stock market. How long it'll last is anyone's guess...but as I mentioned...it was "found money" and a chance to have a little fun. That $212 dollars now currently there could grow into vacation fund money...or shrink down to nothing.

That's why it's called gambling and those of us who take the risk are called gamblers. It's never wise to bet money that you don't have to spare on races...or anything, really. This "found money" though sat waiting around for me to find it for nearly two years. It's getting some exercise now...
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Here it comes again.

Seems like every time that the University of Louisville gets a fairly successful football coach, the pundits, talking heads, impresarios and press immediately peg him for departure. Even though Charlie Strong was barely over .500 in his first two years here, his 5-0 mark with the 2012 Louisville Cardinals has speculation
and rumor that he's looking around. He's a hot commodity.

Arkansas is being mentioned. Charlie was born and raised in Arkansas. John L. Smith (SMILE!) has taken
a pre-season top 10 program and tossed it in the recycle bin in Fayetteville. Arkansas is in the SEC, the self-proclaimed, best darn conference in football. ( These promoters obviously haven't watched Kentucky play, but I digress....they're a basketball school.)

Arkansas has a checkered history of ending up with ex-Louisville coaches. It began with Tom Collen, Louisville women's basketball coach, who left the Cards to go to Fayetteville. He had two years left with Angel McCoughtry. He still went. He had the KFC YUM! Center in a couple of years to play in. He still packed up the twins and Nikki and got on the bus.

Arkansas women's basketball isn't exactly tearing up the SEC.

Collen was 88-37 in four years in the "Ville". That .707 winning % is the best in Louisville women's basketball history. He's nowhere near that with the Hogs. His departure did open the door for Jeff Walz to
take the job. I say we definitely got the best end of that deal. Walz will eventually top that .707 percentage. The only variable is time. A move to the BIG 12 wouldn't hurt, either.

John L. Smile Smith and Bobby Motorcycle took circuitous routes to get to Fayetteville. Their stays have been bad career moves for the most part. Are you paying attention, Charlie?

I don't believe that Charlie Strong is looking to leave Louisville. His appearance on the Jim Rome show yesterday pretty much backed my philosophy up.

There will be more innuendo and speculation down the road about Charlie and other jobs. There's nothing we can really do about that...programs look to improve and go after proven, successful and trendy coaches.
Charlie is one of those.

I hope he studies the lessons of the three mentioned coaches in today's article and learns from their sagas.
Tom Jurich has provided him with pretty much everything he's asked for over the past three years. That commitment is likely to continue, as far as I can see.

There's no place like home, Charlie. Unless it's Arkansas.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tell me it's a joke, OK?

The four-letter network...ESPN...has dictated a 11 a.m. start for the Louisville @ Pittsburgh football game on Saturday, Oct. 13th.

Jammies and a pillow are optional.

I won't go into how badly this is going to wreak havoc on my (and many other Cardinal fans) tailgating
regimin and schedule. Having signed up for a bus trip to go to Steel City and take in the contest...I'll be there. I'm not happy about the start time, though.

It's a prime example of two things that are ridiculous about the state of college football. Major networks, ESPN being the prime culprit...have taken a Hitleresque hold on the gridiron nation and have dictated that everyone march to their cadence, which consists of doing whatever the hell ESPN wants, when they want and screw anybody who protests.

It's money that matters. Randy Newman pegged it dead on in his classic song. Link below:

IT'S MONEY THAT MATTERS

The second ridiculous thing is that it has come to this. Corporate America keeps delivering groin shots to the average football fan and we keep taking them without raising our hands in defense.

I'd offer a boycott of the game if I thought that it would do any good. It wouldn't.

The ugly duckling BIG EAST isn't going to cry out in protest. They'd take a game on the National Geographic Channel for ratings.

I weep for the current state of college football. It's probably why I don't write about it much anymore.

Our bus group will be in a quandry about this deal concerning the Pitt game. They like to get out and tailgate several hours before the game starts. I wonder how they'll respond to a 7 a.m. departure and 8 a.m. tailgating venue.

Thanks, ESPN.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Just build it.

I'm getting tired of the rhetoric about the financial woes of the downtown area around the KFC YUM! Center and the failure to produce the expected revenue and tax base. Weary of the blabber about bringing an NBA team to town to share the Downtown Arena with the Cardinals and increasing the number of people downtown.

Just build a casino and watch the dollars roll.

There's room on the riverfront. You may have to move a barge or riverboat....but, hey...they float. No big deal. You want increased traffic flow and pedestrian movement around 2nd and Main?

Just build a casino and see Dick and Jane show up.

The religious right will not like this column. The evils of gambling right here in River City? Wake up and take a look around. Casinos haven't corrupted the morals of people in other states and areas. What are we in Kentucky...gullible sheep?  Show me the correlation of people stopping church attendance once a gaming facility is build nearby. You don't want to gamble? Then don't. You wanna go to church? Have at it. There's no law that says you can't do both.

Let's build a couple of casinos. One at Churchill and one downtown on the river. The rest of the state doesn't like it? Big deal. No one's forcing them to come to Louisville. David Williams doesn't like it? My tears flow. The guy shouldn't be able to dictate the fortunes of the largest city in the state from Burkesville or Frankfort.

We need a mayoral proclamation that this thing is going to happen and a gentle reminder to the rest of the state that it's Louisville's tax base and revenue that helps fund roads in Rineyville and bridges in Boston.

You want more money, y'all? Just build a casino in Louisville an watch your coffers fill.

Ohio is jumping in with both feet. Indiana and West Virginia did it years ago. Just how stupid we are in Kentucky? (don't answer that -- yeah, we're morons.)

We've always resisted things here that have paid huge divididens and reaped rewards in other areas. An huge international airport? Naw...forget it. City-county governmental merger. Took awhile. Bridges that bypass the city and actually improve travel? Surely you jest. We can't even build a full bypass around the city.

It's time to take the heads out of the sand and view reality. Roll the dice, Kentucky. It's a game you'll win.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gone but not forgotten

I got another phone call for Dad yesterday. The "Sarge" has been gone since 2006, but his popularity among the telemarketers for insurance agents, home improvement companies, home security outfits and credit card companies remains strong. This particular call was to inform him that the lawnmower had been diagnosed, problem spotted and how much it would cost to fix it. I explained to the caller that it was I, and not my dearly departed father, who had dropped the grass cutter off and would be picking it up.

My dad did cut the grass for many years, and grudgingly turned the responsibility over to me when he turned 81. For 13 more years, though...he supervised my weekly forays into the yard and rewarded me with a cold beer after the completion of the task. Those were good afternoons, sitting in the garage...sipping beer and talking about whatever crossed our minds. He died on a Tuesday afternoon, I normally cut grass on a Thursday. He was up and around for my lawn maintenance two weeks earlier, before he entered the hospital.

I thought about the call and the other calls he still occasionally receives and decided to do a credit check on him. An hour or so later, I discovered that he still had a fair credit rating, had five accounts with various card-issuing companies still active but no balance remaining on them. I made the appropriate calls to close and cancel these and four out of the five went very smoothly. One of them insisted on a copy of the death certificate before they would close the account. I told him he could drive down here and pick it up.

I decided to run my mom's credit history as well. She passed away in 1998. Two accounts still open, including a positive balance on a credit card that she had overpaid back in 1995. I called and explained. The customer service guy said he'd send a check.

If you have loved ones who have passed, it's not a bad idea to check their previous credit history.

All this reminds me of the time we signed the family Yorkie Bobby up for a credit card.

We're not sure how the caller got his information but we got a call one afternoon from a telemarketer asking for him. I told the called to hold. Bobby was sleeping on his favorite chair and drowsily looked at me when I told him he had a call. It appeared to me that he wasn't interested in taking the call, so I told Dad that Bobby had a call. Dad got a big kick out of this and suggested I find out who it was.

I told the caller that Bobby was interested in who was calling him. And, he may have been. He was always willing to go on walks with people, engage in a tug-of-war with his favorite toy or just submit to a good petting and combing. He told me the name of his company and why he was calling. I asked the caller to hold again and told Dad and Bobby. Dad asked Bobby if he wanted a credit card. Bobby lazily extended a paw toward Dad. We took this for a "yes".

Since Bobby couldn't speak for himself, I offered to get the details. A major credit card, low introductory APR and some other perks that escape my memory now. I urged the caller to continue. It sounded like a great deal for Bobby. After all, what if he was out on a walk and decided he wanted a bottle of water or breakfast burrito? What if he wanted to treat Sarge and I to a beer or a lunch at Dad's favorite restaurant?

We sealed the deal. Two weeks later, Bobby's credit card arrived via mail.

With a credit card comes credit responsibility. Since it was his first card, I sat with him and gave him a lecture on fiscal proprieties, paying off balances and identity protection. He passively listened while chewing on a beef jerky stick.

It was time to go shopping.

He needed dog food and his brush was pretty old, so we decided to go to the pet store where these supplies were available. Pet-friendly store, so he was able to accompany me in the store. We looked at different brushes, got the one that seemed like it was best suited for his coat and picked up a bag of his IAMS dog food. We proceeded to check out. The clerk rang up the purchase, scanned the card and handed me the receipt.

Bobby was now a consumer.

Since he didn't have a checking account and a steady income, Dad paid his first monthly statement for him. I urged Bobby to go out and seek gainful employment. Movie animal, police dog, security patrol...I told him he had several options. His ears perked up, though, when I mentioned that many dogs were used in advertisements and he was a cute fella, so I suggested he develop a resume and get employed.

He also got several more invites for additional credit opportunities. We used the card for several more months at the pet store and also one afternoon when Dad and I went to lunch at Dad's favorite Mexican restaurant.

Margaritas on Bobby!

Then, about a year later..sadly...Bobby passed away. It was my sad duty to mail in that final payment, cut the card in pieces and include a note that Bobby was gone. Dad received several phone calls to extend Bobby credit in the after-life and had to break the sad news of Bobby's demise to the telemarketers.

Bobby had a better credit rating than Dad.

I know that the three of them (Mom, Dad and Bobby) are re-united in the skies above...watching over us and enjoying long walks in heaven.

Pre-approved for a $5,000 credit limit.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Leaving are ya? Safe travels...

I'll admit that I was a bit shocked when I heard the news that Notre Dame was leaving the BIG EAST conference. Yanking out powerful teams in women's basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball and swimming/diving is never good...but these are areas I will get into in my Friday column over at CARDINAL COUPLE.

(If you haven't been there, here's a link below)

CARDINAL COUPLE

Here at this site, I will talk about the overall picture that Notre Dame was, is and will be. Some may disagree with some of my assessments and statements below...and it is your right to do so. Go start a blog an counterpoint me. E-mail me or leave a comment below. Go fly a kite or learn to speak Cantonese. It's your call.

1) Notre Dame was not a football member of the BIG EAST. They won't be in the ACC either. So, basically...they're a part-time employee. Football is the economic engine that drives conference and universities' sports programs. Football has caused most of all the conference re-alignment drama that has transpired over the last several years. Notre Dame refuses to share their Twix bar with the other kids on the block. A cash-rich, tradition rich program that is no longer one of the power-houses of college football or relevant in any national championship discussions. The "Floyd the Barber" of the Mayberry R.F.D. football landscape.

2) Notre Dame has a better women's basketball team than men's team. The poor guys...they'd have some regular season and conference success and then flame out in BIG EAST and NCAA Tournament play. They join a ACC men's basketball conference that will be a challenge. Duke. UNC. Maryland. Syracuse. Traditional top 25 programs and esteemed coaches. A colorful history and proud tradition. Notre Dame will be the "Flounder" of the ACC 'Animal House' in men's basketball. Bring back Digger.

Take that, BIG EAST! 
3) Does it really matter what conference Notre Dame is in? I heard that the BIG 10 was making similar offers to the Irish to pony up with them. The stickler was that they had to join in football also. And, there would be some great football matches in a BIG 10 Notre Dame football alignment. Imagine playing Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State each year. (Sorry, IU fans...this borders on migraine headache time for you and I apologize.) Notre Dame has agree to play a few ACC schools each year in football. Notre Dame vs. Miami, Florida State, Boston College and Virginia Tech do have some appeal. But, the independent tradition remains. It must get lonely up there in that rarefied, non-committal air. Greetings from earth below!

So...so long, goodbye, auf wiedersehen, adieu.

I doubt there will be any tearful, heartfelt goodbyes from the remaining BIG EAST members. I doubt there will be any gala bon voyage parties planned. I would like to see this concept, though. Dress up seven or eight student-athletes and have them perform this little ditty from The Sound of Music and have them perform it at the BIG EAST annual conference meeting in 2014. Link below.  

So long, farewell...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My afternoon with Ozzy

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It was late Wednesday afternoon. I was preparing to see if I could get the lawnmower started again. A Tuesday attempt proved futile, so I stopped by Sears and got a "tune up" kit...which included a spark plug,air filter, bottle of motor oil and gas stabilizer. I'm not the most mechanical guy but I can successfully operate a screwdriver and adjustable wrench at times and these were the tools required to install the new parts. What'll I'll do with the oil and stablizer, I have no clue...but it was part of the package deal.

Then, the cell phone rang.

The next door neighbor. Frantic. Seems the family dog, Ozzy, had gotten loose from the plastic wire rope that keeps her tied up in the back yard. A call from another neighbor to report the break-out to the neighbor who called me. No one home, the dog meandering aimlessly around the back yard.

Put me in coach.

Sauntering through the neighbor's back yard, I saw the fugitive in the back corner of the yard. Staring at me. No wagging tail. No happy bark of recognition. A menacing growl, though.

Ozzy and I do not get along. It stems back from her barking and charging me one afternoon while I was cutting the grass. An attempted bite. A retaliatory kick in the side from me. Paul 1 - Ozzy 0. A frank discussion with the neighbor and a resulting shortening of the rope so that Ozzy could not reach me when I cut that particular section of the yard. Detente. Battle won but cold war still in existence

Ozzy loves Sonja, but Sonja was at work. As I stood my ground on this hostile turf  (picture Cardinal fans tailgating in Morgantown) I realized I needed a strategy to capture and secure the hostile. Making a slow retreat from the battleground, I returned to the house and searched the refrigerator. Sandwich meat. Yeah, that's the ticket. The old bait and switch.

I returned to the battlefield. Ozzy still in the corner, eyeing me like a safety eyes a wide receiver infringing the secondary. Gentle words, a toss of a slice of processed meat and the slow, wary approach of the escapee toward the offering. A step closer. Another toss of Fischer's best. Another consumption. One more step toward the hostile and another toss. I was now within a few feet of the loose plastic wire rope. No more growling. Another step and another offering. Reaching down slowly, unassumingly to grab the rope and...

Off Ozzy goes, sprinting through the backyard.

She runs around me in circles, barking and pawing. A chance grab of the rope fails. The heck with it. I'm out of sandwich meat. I walk away. Ozzy follows, at a safe distance. I turn, she stops. I walk, she follows. I decide to sit....she does, too. I stand, she stands. This game of chess is full blown now and I try to devise a strategy. I wonder just how far she'll follow me. I walk away again, but this time she stays. I offer a "Good, Girl !" and step towards her. No movement. Another step and she sits. "Stay, girl." She cocks a inquisitive head at me.  I walk to her left, behind her and approach the rope. She watches, almost disinterestedly. I bend down, extend the hand and ! Voila! I grab it. She turns her head and rolls over.

The winning of hearts and minds through feeding.

I tied a nifty sailor's knot to connect the rope again. I leave...battle won and game over. She barks at me once and returns to the shady tree line by the fence. I didn't strut it out, but if there had been someone there with me, I would have offered a fist bump or high five.

This does not mean that Ozzy and I are comrades now. This does not mean that I'll be wasting more processed meat on the canine. I was called into action, engaged the enemy and triumphed.

It's what neighbors do. I call the concerned neighbor with the news. I am thanked.

Buoyed by my victory, I attend to the lawnmower. After several minutes of labor...new parts installed and a yank of the starter rope. Growling, sputtering and then silence. I remember an old trick my dad taught me about spraying the end of the spark plug with starter fluid and reinserting. I have no starter fluid but I dip it in gasoline and reinstall. Same result. A belch, brief roar and then death.

1-1 on the afternoon.

I call "Big Jim"...my yearly lawn mower tune up guy. He's closed for the day but still in the shop. Tells me to bring it in Wednesday. He advises that there is some bad gas out there and he's worked on a few mowers that have had similar problems lately. He assures me he'll have it ready to go in less than a week. A week? You would have thought I called for a prostate check or colonoscopy.

Each day is an adventure, every moment provides the opportunity for surprise, intrigue and mystery.  What lies ahead, we cannot be certain of... but I will offer this sage advice:

Keep a pack of sandwich meat in your refrigerator. Just in case.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11. Let us never forget

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It was on 9/11/01 that the world as we knew it was rocked by the bombing of the World Trade Towers.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I was a salesman back in those days and had just completed taking an order from one of my customers. We were chatting when one of the employees burst into his office and breathlessly told us that a plane had crashed into one of the towers. He had a television in his office and he turned it on.

We sat there for the next couple of hours and watched the horrible events unfold. Employees would walk in, watch for awhile and then leave...some stunned, some crying and all unbelieving that such a thing could take place on our shores.

I didn't get anything else accomplished that morning. As I made my afternoon rounds, it was the obvious choice of conversation among my customers. Terrorism had hit home.

It could happen again.

My late father was an avid radio listener. He sat by his radio in the bedroom that day and listened to the tragic events unfold. I went to visit him after my work day was completed and we discussed the attack. I showed him the crashes on the computer. He expressed amazement that such a thing could happen. We talked about the Pearl Harbor bombing. We talked about the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We watched a special on TV later that evening that recapped the attack. We sat there in silence.

Stunned. Incredulous. Angry.

Later that evening I returned home. My wife and I discussed the events. She was at work as well when the terrorist attack occurred. She talked about a lady in a office she knew, who had a brother that worked in one of the towers. She hadn't heard from him. We found out later that he was at a corporate planning meeting somewhere else in Manhattan that morning and wasn't on site.

I think of the story that Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame's head women's basketball coach, tells. She had been recruiting in New England. She was scheduled to fly out of Boston that morning, on one of the planes that crashed into the twin towers. She had a schedule conflict and could not make the flight. Despite the intense rivalry between Louisville and Notre Dame, I cannot bring myself to cheer against the Notre Dame basketball team.

I remember my trip to New York several years later. Part of a football trip to Connecticut. Viewing ground zero. Going to the church where the first responders and volunteers gathered. Reading the notes, the details. Seeing the fire department patch in a case from my buddy Keith's fire department. He left Louisville a day after the attack to volunteer his services in New York.

I have a neighbor. A young boy. He was not born when the attack occurred. He has heard people speak of it. He asked me a very poignant question.

How could America allow this to happen?

I wish I had the right answer. Let us never forget that there are people who are constantly plotting and organizing for the downfall of our nation. They don't like our lifestyles, our beliefs, our religion and our politics. They will not rest. We cannot afford to, either.

As the years pass by since 9/11, the memories still remain strong. I pray that such horror never again taints our shores. I pray for the end of violence, wars and threats against our way of life. I hope that someday, all nations, all people and all philosophies can exist in peaceful co-existence.

Maybe I'm a dreamer...but, in the words of the late John Lennon, "I'm not the only one".
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Charlie Strong -- The Coach of the future?

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He came to Louisville at one of the lowest ebbs in Louisville Football history. The gridiron giants were getting dwarfed by the rest of the BIG EAST. They were on a three game losing streak to cross-state rival Kentucky. Steve Kragthorpe had disillusioned a fan base, the Cards hadn't "been bowling" since his arrival and Cardinal fans had had enough.

(Photo by Charlie Springer - UofL Card Game)
Enter Charlie Strong. The bridesmaid. The perpetual "candidate not chosen". A strong coaching resume, Florida contacts and a dynamic speaking style. Cardinal fans weren't quite convinced, though. They'd been down this path before.

Strong brought in a close group of assistant coaches. He wore out the public speaking circuit, challenging Cardinal football fans to renew their hope. There were gaps to fill in the program, issues to address and seats to fill in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The prevailing attitude amongst Cardinal fans was "Well, it can't get much worse...can it?"

Charlie spoke of a long term plan to get Cardinal Football back to the top of the BIG EAST standings. Warned us it wouldn't happen overnight. Informed us that he would install a winning attitude in the current and future players. It all sounded good.We'd heard it all before, though.

And, the Cards did return to a over .500 season in his first year. A dramatic win in the Beef O' Brady Bowl over a C-USA opponent in Southern Miss. Getting one of the best quarterbacks in Florida High School football to commit to Louisville. Plenty of other Florida guys were buying in also. It may have been a 7-6 first season record...but to Louisville fans, it was nirvana.

Season two brought more improvement. A win over Kentucky. The development of Mr. Bridgewater and a wealth of talented wide receivers and running backs to accompany him. Another bowl bid...a narrow loss in chilly Charlotte, NC to an ACC middle-of-the-pack school but a second straight bowl game. No longer the second best team in the state. Bigger, faster, more heart and another season over .500. 7-6? The Cards would take it...not satisfied it with but seeing it as another building block in the construction. They went to West Virginia, beat the Mountaineers and looked good in doing it.

Season three saw defensive coordinator Vance Bedford imploring Cardinal fans to "get on the train." A revamped defense, an offensive line that didn't serve as a punch line to a joke. Teddy confident, blossoming into a quarterback that was drawing praise nationally. Pre-season pick to win a temporarily hobbled BIG EAST.

We're two games into this season and two victories notched. A domineering win over the faltering Kentucky Wildcats. A sound thrashing over Missouri State. An offense averaging almost five touchdown a game and a defense allowing less than two.

A horse racing betting theory implies that one should watch out for a horse making its third career start. Especially if the first two showed a little improvement from the first to the second. The same philosophy can be applied to this third-year plan of Charlie Strong for his Cardinals.

Saturday, Sept. 15th. could very well prove to be the acid test for this Cardinal squad. North Carolina comes into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium smarting after a totally unexpected loss to Wake Forest. A Cardinal team looking to show their level of improvement by beating a TarHeel team that effectively shut them down 14-7 last year in Chapel Hill.

We'll see just how far the train that Vance Bedford wants us to board has progressed down the tracks next Saturday. A win could pave the way to a 6-0 UofL start...with patsies FIU, Southern Miss and Pitt next. Road games, yes. Winnable? Yes. And, three straight at home after the road trip.

Charlie, the green light is on and the tracks are clear. How far will this train go? A chance to accomplish something that hasn't been seen in Cardinal football history since 2006...when the Cards started off 8-0.
A chance to fast forward the timetable.

Is Charlie Strong the coach of the future? How many schools will come after the coach, waving more dollars, more prestigious conference affiliations and larger stadiums? The Cards have been traditionally been a stepping stone for aspiring coaches to upgrade (see Howard Schenellenberger, John L.Smith, Bobby Petrino, Vince Gibson and Lee Corso). Past performances have shown that leaving Louisville isn't always in a coaches' best interest. Motorcycles, bankruptcy, failure and goofy appearances on ESPN could happen.

The train could turn into a vehicle of opportunity for the coach who had been been kissed before accepting the Louisville head job. We hope not. Charlie speaks of his love and commitment to the community. He'll speak just as quickly about his daughters' volleyball experiences here in Louisville as he will about the Cardinal defensive strategy. How many third-year coaches have had their face plastered on a Maker's Mark
commemorative bottle (beside Billy Gillespie...whose lips were permanently wrapped around one?)

If they offer, will Charlie go?


Standing on the brink of possible brilliance, ready for the national recognition that behooves success...with feet firmly planted in the now, Charlie Strong is at a crossroads of sorts. In which direction he'll go is hard to say...but, for now, his current path has him strolling down the red and black highway and not consulting a GPS on On-Star.

We hope he doesn't need a road map.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Billy G still an idiot

Gillispie? WTF?

Many years ago in the land of BIG BLUE basketball, a young coach from Texas A&M came in and took over the program. Cats fans love him immediately. He had defeated Louisville in the NCAA Tournament a few weeks before and Tubby Smith, the doomed replacement of Rick Pitino, was finally outta Lexington.

Turns out that UK fans didn't know how well they had it with Tubby.

Billy G. eventually resurfaced in the Lone Star State and continued being an idiot. Now that he's hospitalized
with a stroke/heart attack/not sure....allegations are flying faster than a roadrunner down a dusty Texas road.

All class, BCG...all class. See the link and join the BCG Hate Club with me after reading it.

Coaches are constantly in the hot seat and under public view and scrutiny, I get it. They don't have to be idiots and jerks, though.

Billy would have served Hitler or Mussolini well if he'd been born a generation earlier

Jeez...

Billy the Kid...What Have You Did? .

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A clear winner

Even though the weather leading up to the annual UofL v UK football clash  was cloudy and rainy, it became
clear early into the contest that Louisville was the superior program. A 98 yd. drive for the opening touchdown. Two more drives of over 80 yards leading to the same.

Not that UK really cares.

The emphasis with most UK fans I know is basketball. Seeing if they can repeat as national champions.
Football a reason to tailgate on fall Saturday afternoons and not much else.

This has to be stressful to the head football coach Joker Phillips, the athletic director Mitch Barnhart and those associated with the program. Not that Kentucky has ever been a major power in the gridiron game...but there was a sense of at least being able to go to a bowl game during the Rich Brooks years
and the consecutive wins over Steve Kragthorpe's Cards.

Add that to the fact that the program is currently considered the doormat in the nation's most powerful football conference and you have apathy, disillusionment, disgruntlement, and indifference in a sport that
traditionally is a cash cow for major collegiate institutions.

IF they play it, will the Cats fans come?

Commonwealth Stadium is still the largest venue for non-racing sports events in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Whether it reaches 70,000 again for a football game in the near future or not will depend on a few factors...the opponent, the success of the Cats and the weather.

LOUISVILLE won the 2012 version of football Commonwealth style 32-14. It could have been 53-14 if Charlie Strong hadn't pulled his starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the final quarter began. A deference to the plight of his friend Joker? After all, they were on the same coaching staff together a few years back and there's no smoldering rivalry there that exists...unlike the Pitino v. Calipari cold war.

Louisville will travel to Lexington next year to play the Cats in football. Not to open the season, UK doesn't schedule it until the third game of the year. Louisville will be stronger, more experienced, deeper and better. UK may be in the first year of a new head coach. I remember a flyer I was handed several years ago when attending the annual game...which was in Lexington that year. It read 'Dump Mitch and Rich.' UK actually won that year in Commonwealth, Rich retired after leading the Cats to several bowl games and Mitch is still the AD.

What will they hand out at UK games this year?
.
..
...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

You need to go.

.
Louisville Volleyball could be the next big thing in University of Louisville sports. 5000 plus on a Wednesday night in the KFC YUM! Center to see a match against Kentucky. Six different media/internet reporters on hand to cover the match. Television coverage on one of the WHAS spin-off channels. Assigned media seating...for maybe the first time in Louisville Volleyball history. 

There was a time when Louisville womens' basketball was tickled pink to draw 5000. Look how WBB took off. A season ticket base over 5000 now. 

Was it just the lure of the UK vs. UofL rivalry that brought them in? Granted, there were patches of "blue" in the Arena. UofL treated it like a major sporting event, though...trotting out the LadyBirds Dance team, Louie the Cardinal Bird and Al Greener's Pep Band. Even a "in-the-stands" reporter doing silly stuff on the media center scoreboard overhead during time-outs. No offense, amigo and brother J-Bone..but the young lady has game.

All that was missing was the Kroger Crew throwing stuff at people. (Be careful what you wish for, Paulie).

A big time atmosphere. Will it translate over to the Duke match this Friday night...or the BIG EAST home schedule? 

Here's thinking it will. There is a lot of local interest in high school basketball and UofL head coach Anne Kordes has five Louisville area high school stars on the roster. 

And there's Lola.

In her final season, the Cards' superb outside hitter has the game (pre-season BIG EAST Player of the Year), the looks (could be NCIS's Ziva David's sister) and the swag. When asked after the game if the rivalry was important to her, she responded with a boisterous "He!!, Yes! I beat them as a freshman, I've been waiting three years to do it again. It's huge!" 

Gotta love that. 

The VolleyCards have been in the BIG EAST since 2005. In that time, they've managed to win the conference tournament four times and been runner up twice. 14 straight NCAA appearances. A fresh, dynamic, young and media savvy coach in Kordes...a marked change from the sometimes difficult-to-understand (but highly effective) Leonid Yelin. 

You owe it to yourself to go. 14 weekend regular-season matches remain. You can park for $5 beneath the KFC YUM! Center. They also sell beer...a reason to get my buddies Tom, Stu and Keith out there. 

Fear the bucket. 



   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Angel's Among Us.

.
THE SAGA OF ANGEL McCOUGHTRY

And so it came to pass that the leading scorer in the WNBA returned to the fair city of Atlanta after her Olympic experience and all was not well. Her Dream team, currently in third place in their WNBA division and playing .500 ball (11-11) was struggling and the head coach, /G.M. of the program...Marynell Meadors...was benching Angel for reasons quite unclear to the fans who follow these Southern Belles. 

One thing usually stands as a predictable rule in professional organized sports. When there is friction between the coach and the franchise player, the coach should probably start packing suitcases and updating the resume. 

Good bye, Marynell...hello Fred.

In the last year of her contract with Atlanta, Angel has taken a cellar dweller to a WNBA finalist in her time at Atlanta. She's the darling of Atlanta, Louisville and hardly shy about expressing her feelings and emotions. She's a player that has the inate ability to change the nature and circumstances of any game she steps onto the court to perform in. 

Keep the talent, the headline act happy. The fans aren't flocking through the gates to see Marynell Meadors coach.  

Yes, she has teammates. A potential star-in-waiting in Tiffany Hayes. Solid veteran players in Lindsey Harding, Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle. How far would they get in WNBA competition without Ms. McCoughtry? How far can you toss a feather in a closet?  

Jeff Walz got it. When he arrived on the UofL campus after the departure of Tom Collen, he probably looked at his roster and circled two names. Angel's and Candyce Bingham's. The rest of the lineup was essential but not the path to the NCAA Championship game. Walz and McCoughtry reached an accord. It got them to national recognition, a tag as one of the best young coaches in women's college basketball and a #1 pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Jeff Walz can be a demanding coach but he knows that you don't upset talent. Don't poke the bear. Don't clip the Angel's wings. 

Keep the talent happy. It's what's for dinner. 


Angel may choose to remain in Atlanta after this season or test the choppy WNBA waters. She well may once again put the team on her shoulders and carry them to another deep run in the WNBA playoffs. 
Regardless of what she does, she's the headliner act, the cash cow and daring diva of the Atlanta Dream.

You don't put baby (or in this case...Angel) in a corner. 

I'm sure that somewhere today Marynell Meadors is reviewing her years with the Atlanta Dream. Years that brought her a certain amount of recognition, a gig  with the TEAM USA Olympics and a job and salary. 

Would they have been as fruitful without Angel McCoughtry? 

My guess is that if she could have a "do-over" or a mulligan...she'd offer to drive Angel to the grocery store instead of putting her on the bench. 

The late Jim Croce, a wonderful songwriter and performer who was taken from us way too early in his life, wrote these lyrics for a song which pretty well sum up the situation :

You don't tug on Superman cape
You don't spit in the wind
You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim.

Good words to live by, Fred. Let Angel fly. It just might translate into job security. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kentucky State Fair -- A primer in people

FAIR GAME

For 11 days each August, the antiquated and worn out Kentucky Exposition Center gets a shot of adrenalin when the Kentucky State Fair takes over the property. 
For me, it is a excellent chance to people-watch and observe. You get all types at the Fair. Wanted or not. 

My visit to this year's fair spanned a time period of nine hours. It's enough. You not going to see everything anyway...and you pick your battles. The State Fair Guide is a valuable tool for strategy-planning. 

I've learned to beat the system and acquire free entrance and parking each year. I could tell you how...but why spoil this perfect secret? The $20 bucks or so we save is spent back, though. Three rituals each year are a pork chop sandwich, turkey leg and lemon shake-up. That $20 bill vanishes pretty quickly. I added a cheeseburger this year and wish I hadn't. 

Finding a shady spot to sit and rest for awhile is mandatory. Mine's a good one that allows us to rest the hooves, observe folks and still get the enticing aroma of the horse barns and funnel cakes. 

Check out the guy whose waiting in line five hours before a free show in Cardinal Arena starts. I had to find out why. 

"Have you ever heard any of (artist protected) music?" he gushed.

I had to confess that I hadn't. 

"Well, man...you need to." he insisted. I chose not to wait with him in front of the fence gate on the entrance ramp. I think I was that way about Lynyrd Skynyrd 35 years ago...but I really don't remember. 

 Next is the young lady pushing a double-seater baby carriage while puffing away on a Marlboro. She stopped to share the shade with us. UK T-Shirt, cutoff blue jeans and a considerable amount of free stuff piled on and around the girls' transport device.

"I love it. This is my third trip this year. The girls love it. My boyfriend he don't come but once a year. Says it's too boring." she confined while lifting one of the ankle-biters out of the stroller. "I got three free scratch-off tickets, too."

Priorities, yes.

Seems I always run into several people I know. One of my favorite bartenders from Churchill, there to work a show...extra money for make-up and perfume, I suppose. 

"Hon, I make twice what I do at the track at these shows in tips. They could hold this fair for a month and it wouldn't bother me." she laughed after giving us a hug. I smelled like cheap perfume for two hours afterwards. "ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) is a LOT tighter here though. I'm checking grandmas for ID's." 

A bowling buddy from years ago. A bit greyer, heavier and slower...he had a seat with his wife next to us and gave us a rambling 15 minute dialogue on life after bowling and how bad his boss sucked. The View doesn't get stuff this good. I was ready to go to commercial, though...and we left. 

A neighbor from the old neighborhood...a tragic figure who lost a husband, job and car all in one year. With a new man, dressed to the nines and carrying a stuffed animal the size of Rhode Island. Laughing. That was good to see. Her struggle with life temporarily conquered. 

The Pukey Boy strolled by a bit later. With a female on his arm and a half-finished beer in one of his massive paws...his gait was unsteady and his head bouncing like a bobble-head. You knew it was coming. Guided over to a garbage can, he contributed probably $20 of liquid trash to the container. Mission accomplished, they headed indoors. A satisfied smirk on his face and a war whoop bellowing from his lungs. 

Elephant ears and warm Budweiser seldom mix well. 

Finally, my yearly chat with Freddy Farm Bureau...the big guy sitting in front of Freedom Hall. 

ME: "Hey, Freddy..where'd you play your college ball?"
FREDDY: "Right here in Kentucky!"
ME: "Where's Ms. Farm Bureau?"
FREDDY: "Back on the farm." 
ME: "Let's you and I go grab a cold one and score some babes." 
(Silence from Freddy...then a "Hi, little boy. Welcome to the State Fair.")

Dissed by Fred. I'd had enough. Time to leave the smells, the sights and the scenes. 

I'm sure it's the same in Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Nebraska. The state's finest, gathered together in a mish-mosh of sweat, sunscreen, sandals and fried food. Keep an eye out for the golf carts. These aren't Sunday duffers looking for an errant tee shot. The rules of the road or links vanish here. 

I guess there will come a time when I'm too old and feeble to make this yearly jaunt. Maybe I can get Pukey Boy to roll me around in a wheelchair. I wanna party with this guy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

EARLY MORNING CONFUSION

Nothing like waking up and realizing the alarm failed to go off. Not user error, but a loss of power in our part of town early this morning.

Still dark, seeing the LED readout on the alarm clock out. Wondering what time it is and groping in the dark around the nightstand to find the cell phone. 

Who put that glass of water in my way? Spill on aisle four. 

Accessing the clock on the cell and realizing it's 30 minutes past the designated wake up call. Gently shaking the slumbering wife...with the terse information that she has 35 minutes before she's late for work. Having a bit more leeway in time, I assist her in the frantic duties of preparation. Lit candles, flashlights, battery operated radio and decisions on whether I should fire up the generator or not remind me of the loss of power a couple of winters ago. 

A phone call to our power company assures me the problem has been reported, it's not just us. "Crews are working on the problem and power will be restored safely as soon as possible." Thank goodness for that. Wouldn't want those folks taking any chances. 

Out the door she goes with a few minutes to spare. I realize that the coffee maker doesn't work without electricity and opt for the instant stuff and hot (kinda hot) tap water. 

We are such slaves to electricity. As I wait for the power to come back on, I think of all the things I take for granted each morning. Alarm, lights, toaster, coffeemaker, television, computer and stove...all at the whim of Louisville Gas and Electric.

I walk outside. The street looks barren and deserted. No street lights, no porch lights...nothing. I think about pioneer days and decide I probably wouldn't have been a great homesteader or farmer without these things I take for granted. 

I decide against the generator and sit on the back porch working the daily newspaper sudoku and crossword puzzle by candlelight. I walk back into the house for more instant coffee and then...with a few beeps, growls and whirs...power has returned to the property.  

Man goes without many things. Companionship, food, luxuries, recognition. Take his power away, though...and he is lost.