Friday, January 31, 2014

New helmets could slash concussion risks, says study

I’m all for using technology to make gains in important medical issues. Football players and concussions is one of the most talked about issues in sports media. A new study suggests that technology in the development of new football helmets may significantly reduce the occurrence of concussions among college football players.

From NBC News:

The players in the study wore one of two helmet models made by the Riddell company: the older VSR4 and the newer Revolution. All the helmets had been equipped with sensors that recorded forces, or accelerations, experienced by the players’ heads each time there was a hit.

“No helmet can completely prevent concussions,” said study co-author Stefan Duma, a professor and head of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University. “There’s always a risk. All we are saying is that by effectively adding more padding, it reduces the accelerations, and that reduces concussions.”

Duma and his colleagues scrutinized concussion and accelerometer data collected from 2005 to 2010 from eight college football teams. All the players wore either the Riddell VSR4 or the Riddell Revolution.

The study was conducted by Stefan Duma, professor and biomedical engineer at Virginia Tech. Duma’s team collected data for six seasons and used eight college football teams. All of the study subjects used Riddell helmets. One group used the Riddell VSR4, while the other used Riddell Revolution helmets.

However, the story also notes that other studies have shown that there is little, if any, difference in concussion incidence related to the selection of helmet design.

The Duma study is an important data point, but it also raises an important issue that goes unaddressed in the NBC News piece. That point: Advances in both technology and technique have made the game of football more uhh… “impactful.” Recent rules changes have sought to reduce the number of violent collisions on the football field. Will better helmet technology decrease the number of concussions, or will that technology lead to even more violent impacts on the field, thereby erasing any gains made?

The rules changes we’ve seen—as well as the media coverage on head injuries and long term consequences—threaten the way the game is played as we know it. Football has always been an impact sport, not a contact sport like basketball or soccer.

The more we seem to armor the warriors, the more the warriors seem to defeat the armor of their opponents. It’s very much like the old warhead vs. armor competition on the battlefield. Sooner or later, the better warhead will defeat the greater armor.

Maybe we should just go back to leather helmets, minimal padding and no facemasks. Maybe we should let the game be contested by teams with the best players rather than the best equipment. That’s an extreme position, but I am unconvinced that rules changes regarding contact and advances in helmet technology will significantly reduce the kind of chronic and tragic brain injuries that plague so many of the guys we cheer for on Saturdays and Sundays.

Friday nights, too.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Badassery: Man fights off shark with knife, stitches his own wounds, then goes to the bar for a beer

How’s this for a palate cleanser during the height of recruiting season, in the midst of a SnowMageddon in the deep south and in the wake of a sleeper of a State of the Union Address? Here’s a story from a fellow in New Zealand, who did the kind of things you’d expect to see on the big screen rather than in real life:

A New Zealand doctor had to use a knife to fight off a shark before swimming to shore, stitching his wounds and rewarding himself with a beer at the local tavern, reported ABC News Tuesday.

The doctor, James Grant, 24, was spear fishing with friends off of South Island, New Zealand Saturday when he felt a tug on his leg.

Grant originally thought it was a friend playing a prank on him before looking down to discover a shark ripping into his leg.

“To be honest it was a bit of an odd reaction. It wasn’t really fear or anything, it was just like: ‘F**** it, I’ve got to try and get this thing off my leg,’” Grant told Radio New Zealand.

He did get the thing off of his leg. He then swam to shore, used a first aid kit from his car and stitched up the lacerations caused by the shark attack.

He and his mates then cleaned their catch and walked to a local pub for a proper pint or two.

Where else can you find a story involving a badass, a shark attack, individual heroism and a trip to a pub to reward oneself for a job well done?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My name is Dave, I’m officially a “Paulistinian” and this is why

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul appeared on Meet the Press Sunday, Jan 26 2014, and the video below shows that this guy is the Republican who GOP’ers need to support. He is plainspoken, tells the truth and speaks in a way that should resonate with conservative, conservative-leaning independents and Democrats who are tired of the foolishness and just want a fresh face and new ideas.

Via RealClearPolitics:

This is the kind of thinking that a center-right republic can rally around. This is a 14:00+ minute segment but frankly, it could have gone on much longer. Paul has spoken frankly and honestly about topics that were not covered in this interview, including the current regime’s “what difference does it make” meltdown.

If you are a conservative who understands how government functions and how it must provide basic services to the American people without busting the budget, this is your guy. If you believe that the USA should provide basic national defense without simultaneously defenestrating key allies, this is your guy. If you believe that members of opposite parties should find areas of common ground and formulate policy based on what you can agree on, this is your guy. On tax policy, he’s Ronald Reagan. On domestic policy, he’s Ronald Reagan. On finding common ground, he’s Ronald Reagan.

Paul is 50. I am 51. Both he and I came of political age when President Reagan presided over one of the greatest rejuvenations of the American spirit in the history of this Republic. So there is no great surprise that his message resonates with me—Reagan’s enthusiasm and optimism resonated with the vast majority of the American people, most of whom still believe that once unleashed, the spirit of this great nation cannot be defeated and will always achieve its highest goals. Paul clearly believes the same thing. So do I, and if you’ve gotten this far you probably believe it, too.

If you are one of those constantly pessimistic liberals who are always looking for someone else to pay, Rand Paul should scare you to death.

Go watch the segment above. Sit through the whole 14+ minutes. It’s worth it.

I pray every night that this guy runs for President. If he does, he’s my guy and this space will go balls to the wall to help get him elected in any way it can.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Surprise: Hackers can host almost anything on Obamacare website

So, how cool would it be to host IBCR, or promote it, using the spectacular failure that is While the site continues to be an abysmal disaster—with more bugs than a foreign embassy in Moscow—there is at least one “feature” that worked pretty well.

A security expert who has testified before Congress and spoken to the media about vulnerabilities of the website has weighed in on the website's latest security issue, which was first reported Thursday by THE WEEKLY STANDARD. David Kennedy, the CEO of TrustedSec, an information security firm, said that the unintended opening at detailed in the story would allow malicious scammers to fool users with a "website that’s legitimate to make them believe its something else." He said the existence of this potential pitfall on the site is "absolutely amazing," and added that "an attacker can basically create a functioning website and host any content they want there and under the umbrella of"

At issue is the profile feature of the section of the website that allows anyone to set up a custom made page intended to host "data-sets" based on the insurance plan information database on the website. Users can sort, group, and otherwise manipulate the data to create unique presentations based on various criteria. However, the lack of disclaimers and other safeguards allow marketers, or worse, scammers and identity thieves, to establish what would appear to be legitimate webpages which can be used to redirect users to other sites.

Are you surprised? Me either. While the HHS “tech experts” have since removed the capability to create a profile and generate your own content, it still exposes a technical hole big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through.

This means that a scammer with malicious intent could have sent out a mass email promoting his enterprise, or promote it using social media, linking to what would appear to be a legitimate government-sponsored, government-endorsed, government-hosted website. That website could then redirect you to almost any website on the planet, including one designed to harvest your personal data, infect your computer with heaven knows what kind of malware or sell you some counterfeit pet medications.

Obamacare’s website has already cost nearly $600 billion. It’s been “under construction” since April, 2010. Almost four years in, and they’re discovering this security hole just now?

I guess if you like your government incompetence, you can keep it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The “University of Alabama at Auburn”

This is somewhat of an old story, and I’m not sure it got much press in the storied Iron Bowl rivalry media coverage. But while conducting some research on potential seismic zones that could threaten dams, levees and other important infrastructure projects west of the Mississippi, I ran across this piece on regarding what’s known as the New York – Alabama Lineament.

A little background—I do a lot of disaster planning and disaster response consulting and I have been in this business for about 25 years. I knew there were some areas of seismic risk in the eastern US, including the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone (ETSZ) and the New York – Alabama Lineament (NYAL). The NYAL is an ancient magnetic anomaly discovered in 1978, and runs in a nearly straight line from northern Alabama to the mountains of upstate New York. While it’s never been determined to be an active fault, it bears striking geological similarities to the much younger and much more active San Andreas Fault in California.

Anyway, one of the most engaged researchers on the NYAL is Dr. Mark Steltenpohl. However, the story thinks there is only one major research university in the state of Alabama [Emphasis mine]:

A more recent aerial magnetic survey of the Alabama end of the line suggests that it's probably a 500-million-year-old San Andreas-style fault that appears to have slipped 137 miles (220 kilometers) to the right in the distant past.

If so, it's no surprise that the most dangerous part of the eastern Tennessee seismic zone is right next to part of this magnetic line and has the second-highest earthquake frequency in the eastern United States.

"It's most likely a strike-slip fault," said Mark Steltenpohl of the University of Alabama at Auburn. "But it's all buried."

The fault is invisible from the surface and there is very little information about it because no one has actually drilled down through it to investigate, Steltenpohl told Discovery News.

Whoops. The dude is the Chair of the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University.

Steltenpohl really is a respected researcher and a recognized expert on NYAL. Whether NYAL ever results in a devastating earthquake that threatens the numerous dams that populate the region along the Appalachians remains to be seen. Most researchers, including Steltenpohl, have the risk as quite low.

The real temblor comes at the fact that a national media organization has, as often happens, shown that there really is only ONE University of Alabama.

Of the NYAL, "It's almost a needle in a haystack," said Steltenpohl.

Apparently, so is the number of journalists who can find the “University of Auburn” on a map.


This article made me LOL. I hope it makes you do the same. Go mash the link if you’ve never heard of NYAL.  

Bama’s Kevin Norwood showing NFL scouts what we already knew

From’s Aaron Suttles. Check out the video below the break.

For the first time in years Kevin Norwood caught meaningful passes from a quarterback not named AJ McCarron.

The pair will always be linked together, but with McCarron choosing not to participate in the Senior Bowl in order to recoup from the regular season, it leaves Norwood catching passes from other quarterbacks this week. Norwood and McCarron will workout together at D1 Sports Training facility in Jackson, Miss to help prepare for the NFL Draft, but this week he's working with Fresno State's Derek Carr, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppalo and San Jose State's David Fales under the direction of the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff at this week's Senior Bowl.

"It's not really that different," Norwood said. "Everything's pretty much the same just different terminology."

His size, he measured in at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds Monday morning, is a major asset and scouts praised his hands through the first two practices.

"He's got a chance to be a nice move-the-chains receiver," one NFC scout said. "He runs good routes and he catches what's thrown at him. He's fundamentally solid." -

A lot of pundits believe that Norwood had the best hands on the Alabama team since Julio Jones racked up yardage, first downs and touchdowns during his all too brief stay at Tuscaloosa. His prototype measurables, great hands and route-running skills are sure to impress pro scouts during Senior Bowl workouts, Alabama Pro Day and the upcoming NFL Combine.

Expect to see Norwood as someone who will have improved his stock after these workouts, and the likelihood of a big Sunday paycheck next year can only go higher.

Update: The post title has been fixed. It’s Kevin, Dave… Ugh.

And you thought the Oregon Ducks’ uniforms were gaudy…


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So, who’s up for getting rid of the extra point?

clip_image001Roger Goodell may be, for one. 

The strawman proposal: Score a touchdown and accept the automatic point after, or go for an eighth point in the traditional manner from the two yard line. In the NFL at least, PAT’s are all but automatic. Two point attempts are much less so.

In other words, not much would change.

Goodell’s stated purpose in considering such a move is to create more excitement.  NFL coaches—especially the successful ones—are not known for being big risk takers. In a 16-game season in a league engineered for parity, how many head coaches are gonna “go for it” on a sufficiently frequent basis to change how the game is played? My guess is not many.

College football coaches are a little different. There are a lot more “riverboat gambler” types whose teams play on Saturdays. Getting rid of the PAT in college ball probably would create some more excitement, for two reasons. One: The aforementioned propensity to take small risks in the college game. Two, and most importantly, with literally hundreds of college football programs and a 12-game season, there will undoubtedly be more go-fers in a season than in the NFL.

That would in turn likely result in having several games during the college season be determined by a coach’s decision to roll the dice and go for two after a touchdown.

I don’t think this idea would do much for excitement in the NFL. I think it would be more likely to occur in college football.

Exit question: Which coaches in the SEC do you think are more likely to go for two under such a plan?

Helmet Tap (and screengrab credit) to AllahPundit at

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A win for bloggers, but the responsibilities haven’t changed

On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed bloggers a significant victory. A three judge panel unanimously decided that bloggers enjoy the same First Amendment rights as credentialed media. In 2011, a District Court judge decided that libel plaintiffs did not have to prove malice to prevail in a libel suit. The Ninth Circuit panel overturned that decision this week.

The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held unanimously that there is no difference between a journalist for a media outlet and another speaker when it comes to First Amendment protections.

The case stems from a series of blog posts published in 2010 by a woman accusing a financial advice firm of fraud and corruption. One of the firm's principals was appointed as the bankruptcy trustee to a company that had misappropriated client funds, and the woman, Crystal Cox, accused him and his company, Obsidian Finance Group, of impropriety in advising the bankrupt firm in a series of online posts.

They sued Cox for defamation. The district court ruled that because Cox did not prove her status as a journalist, Obsidian did not need to prove malice or negligence on her part to win the case.

A jury found against Cox and ordered her to pay $2.5 million.

On Friday, Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for the unanimous court that, especially in the age of the Internet, the distinction between traditional journalist and other speakers doesn't matter in this case.

In its decision, the Court ordered a new trial, which means that the defendant blogger isn’t off the hook just yet. While the plaintiffs could appeal to the full court, it is likely that the case goes back to the District Court for a new trial.

What does all of this mean? It means that while bloggers should enjoy the protections of the First Amendment, there is still an overarching responsibility to exercise those rights with care; insuring that the targets of controversial “investigations” are investigated with due diligence and that the truth is told without malice.’s Ed Morrissey gets it (emphasis mine):

[It] was disturbing to see a district court get this so wrong. The media protections that have developed by legal precedent under the First Amendment must apply equally, as does the First Amendment itself. In fact, the media protections should probably apply equally to all speakers, and not just those who publish their works via paper, broadcast, or the Internet. One can make the argument that the media has to put itself in a more vulnerable position in order to function as communication sources and therefore should have more leeway, but that applies to bloggers at the very least as well as newspapers and television news outlets. It might apply even more, since bloggers are much less apt to have legal resources readily available and are much more vulnerable to intimidation.

This is an important decision, and a win for bloggers. The core case, though, should serve as a cautionary tale. When a blogger or a reporter goes on a crusade, especially against targets who are not “public persons” (the appellate court rejected Cox’s appeal on that point), he or she had better take care to get the facts right or at least demonstrate a responsible approach to finding them.

So true. Last week, I mentioned the troubling case of Roger Shuler and his controversial blog, Legal Schnauzer. In that post, I also mentioned the importance of ethics when it comes to speaking out about potential wrongdoing by public figures. In the case before the Ninth Circuit, the target of the blogger was not a public figure and the plaintiff lost in her effort to argue otherwise. But public figure or not, the targets of investigative reporting—be it print, broadcast or internet reporting—must not be pursued maliciously. Investigative journalism is not a crusade. It is an effort to expose the truth and demonstrating that the truth has been told is paramount to avoiding costly and disastrous litigation such as this and the Shuler case.

There is nothing in the Ninth Circuit decision that allows otherwise. While it is indeed a win for non-traditional media, it still means, as Ed suggests, that there is no freedom to go off half-cocked, with dubious or anonymously sourced information, in a crusade against someone you oppose politically, personally or philosophically. The First Amendment is indeed a shield, but it is not an impenetrable one.

You can tell the truth, demonstrate the factual nature of the story, show that there is no malice aforethought and you might not get sued for libel or defamation.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The troubling case of the Legal Schnauzer and Roger Shuler

imageI’m a few months late on this, but this New York Times story about the Robert Shuler situation reminded me that it’s time to weigh in.

In case you’re not up to speed, Shuler runs (or, ran) the controversial blog Legal Schnauzer, in which he has regularly accused (mostly Republican) officials of wide-ranging political corruption and on many occasions, sexual misconduct.

He had accused Robert Riley, Jr., son of former Governor Bob Riley, of having an illicit affair with Liberty Duke, a prominent Alabama lobbyist. He further accuses Republican operatives of paying Ms. Duke hundreds of thousands of dollars for an abortion and ordering her to keep quiet.

Both Riley and Duke denied the allegations and filed a defamation suit against Shuler. Shuler’s petulance and refusal to comply with court orders has landed him in the Shelby County jail. He was arrested last fall and remains in lockup to this day.

In a nutshell, an Alabama judge ordered Shuler to remove what he decided was defamatory content on the alleged affair, pregnancy and payoff. Shuler refused, was found in contempt and ordered to jail.

In the Alabama blogging community, the Schnauzer is almost universally perceived as a blog that promotes the wildest of the wild conspiracy theories. Almost no one takes Shuler seriously. It’s seen as an electronic version of your every day supermarket checkout tabloid.

But even supermarket tabloids enjoy the most basic freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. What Shuler doesn’t seem to understand is that along with the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment comes the responsibility to exercise it wisely and that failing to do so can result in very unpleasant consequences.

What the judge has apparently done with his injunction—ordering Shuler to remove the story from his blog pending litigation of the defamation trial—is what is known as prior restraint, a very carefully defined and rare situation where a judge decides that a publisher must hush until the case reaches trial. Prior restraint is almost always determined to be unconstitutional. It can only be exercised in extreme circumstances, such as preventing loss of life or preventing catastrophe.

While the Schnauzer is often obnoxious and routinely salacious, there is nothing in the case at hand that would appear to allow the judge to exercise prior restraint. It is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.

The problem is that Shuler refuses to accept legal counsel, even when offered the opportunity for the court to appoint a public defender to represent him. Shuler is a regular with the Alabama judicial system, and has almost always represented himself pro se. As the old adage goes, anyone who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for an attorney and an idiot for a client.

Predictably, Shuler has a lousy record in court. In fact, I don’t think he’s had a single significant victory. As a measure of his world view, he attributes his lousy record to conspiracy, corruption and judicial incompetence. He is his own worst enemy.

A newly barred attorney fresh out of law school could get Shuler freed based on a challenge on the prior restraint issue. But Shuler continues to decline legal counsel, insists on pro se representation, and as a result he continues to sit in the Shelby County lockup.

Remember the definition of insanity? Repeating the same effort, over and over again, and expecting a different result.

What’s troubling in this case is that it could establish a precedent in which all bloggers—in Alabama and beyond—might have their First Amendment rights seriously curtailed.

This blog has gone after several controversial issues, ranging from exposing an oil spill truther group to allegations of corruption at the highest levels of college athletics and state political actors. I’ve not been shy in this space. However, regular readers of this blog also know that I adhere to the Blogger’s Code of Ethics.

It’s not just a bunch of suggestions. The Code is set of a guiding principles. It’s so important, it’s linked right there at the top of the page.

If I go after public figures, I’ll either have my facts straight and be able to demonstrate the truth of my statements, or I will refrain from posting. I have refrained from posting many more times than I’ve gone forward with a story because I either couldn’t get someone to go on record or could not independently corroborate information provided by confidential sources.

In both of the cases I linked above where this blog went after folks, I gave the parties involved an opportunity to respond and state their side of the story. All refused, but that opportunity is necessary for honest reporting and factual presentation of the issues involved.

Bloggers do not enjoy the same protections that credentialed journalists in traditional media enjoy. I can’t have an anonymous source in a potentially defamatory story. I can’t make stuff up and publish it just because the organization or individuals involved are public figures or politicians. Along with my First Amendment rights come responsibilities. I am mindful of those responsibilities, as are 99% of other bloggers in this state and elsewhere.

Shuler doesn’t seem to get it. But that doesn’t mean the courts should be free to exercise prior restraint just because he’s not behaving responsibly. Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke have a legitimate right to have their grievance against Mr. Shuler adjudicated in a court of law. But that the court could silence an irresponsible blogger simply because the court has determined that he’s behaving irresponsibly is a dangerous step towards censorship. Even irresponsible speech is free speech, unless that speech threatens human life, national security or could lead to a manmade catastrophe.

I frankly believe that Shuler should be freed, even though I agree with virtually nothing he believes or has written. I may disagree with what he says, but I will fight to the death his right to say it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kiffin-palooza: Who else is not sure what to make of this hire?

imageCount me as being as wrong as I am confused. In what surprised many observers of the Nick Saban era at the University of Alabama, Former Oakland Raider, Tennessee and USC head coach Lane Kiffin has been hired to take over the Crimson Tide offense.

I thought such a thing would never happen. I was wrong.

“We are excited to have Lane join our staff,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban in a statement. “He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called. He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama.”

I agree that the guy can coach. We all know that he can recruit. But he’s been fired from two of his last three jobs as a head coach, which means he’s also either a helluva salesman of his own acumen, he’s a locker room polarizer, or both.

I’m not sure what to make of this. Does Saban really see Kiffin as the guy, or did Kiffin convince Saban that he was the guy in what may have been the most seductive, most irresistible sales jobs in the history of seductive, irresistible sales jobs?

It’s said that a good salesman can sell crap to a sewer man and ice to an Eskimo. It’s also said that Nick Saban is a genius when it comes to identifying highly qualified assistants. Maybe Kiffin is an excellent salesman who is also a highly qualified assistant that just happens to be a locker room polarizer.

If Saban can rein in the latter of those three extant character traits of the boy wonder, this might prove to be a brilliant hire. If the product sold proves to fraudulently defective and the boy wonder’s ego causes strife and tension in the locker room and staff meetings, all hell could break loose and college football’s most prolific program could spend enough time wandering in the wilderness to make the head coach wonder if it’s time to go watch the ducks F$%^ on the lake.

It is a splashy, albeit risky hire for Saban.

Kiffin’s background is in pro-style and West Coast offensive strategies. He’s a decent play-caller and has made the most of the talent he’s had on the field (whenever he’s had enough talent to make a difference). The one thing that Kiffin has never had the benefit of in any of his three previous coaching stints is a roster full of talent that is as deep as it is heralded. In fact, in this space I discussed how his roster management skills gave USC a chance to be competitive in an NCAA sanctions environment that was intended to make his team far less competitive than it was. It could make a difference.

Or, it could result in Lane just being Lane, and it could be a disaster of biblical proportions at the Capstone.

Beginning with the 2014 season, we’ll find out. But, I’m still not sure what to make of this, and I dare not make any more predictions. My scorecard on that account is woeful.

[ed note: This post is corrected to reflect that Kiffin was fired from two of his last  three jobs, not all three, as originally posted.]

Friday, January 10, 2014

Who follows Doug Nussmeier?

The Birmingham News has a few possibilities for your consideration. As you know, Nuss left the Capstone to take the offensive coordinator position at Michigan. Alabama fans wish him all the best.

Now the speculation and debate rages over who Saban taps to run his offense in the 2014 season and beyond.

The most frequent—and most polarizing—names being thrown out there are former head coaches Lane Kiffin and Rick Neuheisel. Both were fired from west coast schools and both have a good head for offense. But the chances of Saban going in one of those directions is not very high.

For starters, Kiffin likes the camera and the microphone, and Saban doesn’t let assistants deal with the media. Neuheisel likes the media too, but he hasn’t coached in what? Two years?

Then there are the ego issues. Both of these guys have been head coaches at big schools. They tend to be outspoken in their convictions and clashes in the conference room are a near certainty when you have a brash, outspoken assistant at odds with a head coach who is notorious for his control freak persona.

No, the most likely hire will have us all saying “Who the hell is that?” And send us all rushing to Google to see if we can find out if he coached well at East Popcorn State. Or, it will be someone he’s already familiar with, like Billy Napier and Mike Groh. The News mentions them as candidates.

Saban doesn’t go for big, splashy hires when it comes to key assistant positions. He prefers to look deep, find a solid candidate from a mid-tier school that he can work with, and give the man a chance to show his stuff.

I could be dead wrong in my assessment and Saban could announce an earthshaking hire of his new OC. But I doubt it.

Either way—we will know in a few days. We need those extra boots on the ground for recruiting.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bridge Scandal indicates that Chris Christie is no conservative

imageWeeks after the 1964 presidential election, the Lyndon Johnson administration announced the closure of Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama. Johnson, who had a well-known reputation for rewarding friends and punishing enemies, was accused of punishing the state of Alabama for voting for Johnson’s 1964 opponent, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Johnson viewed the vote as a betrayal of the state’s traditional Democratic roots and ordered the base closed as retribution.

To my knowledge, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush rarely, if ever, punished a group of people or constituency for perceived insolence of their political leaders or for voting against them. Richard Nixon did, but then history is clear that Nixon was no conservative. Make an argument if you will that neither were the Bushes, but both at least endorsed some conservative ideals.

Barack Obama certainly has. See the IRS scandal, for example. There are others, but the Chicago community organizer knows how to reward friends and punish enemies.

As does, apparently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

At issue is an emerging scandal wherein top Christie aides apparently ordered access lanes to the George Washington Bridge between Fort Lee, New Jersey and New York City for several days, causing massive, hours-long traffic jams. It prevented people from getting to work, it prevented school buses from getting kids to school and it may have indirectly led to the death of an elderly woman that was unreachable by emergency personnel.

In the Brookley AFB closure, Johnson imposed a decades-long economic stagnation in Mobile, a city that relied heavily on the economic stimulus of having a large base within its city limits. Mobile’s economy didn’t fully recover until the 1980’s, when the base was transferred to a local airport authority. Brookley Aeroplex, as it’s now known, is a growing industrial and aerospace complex and is set to become the home of a major Airbus assembly facility.

The Jersey bridge lane closure lasted less than a week, but it still demonstrates that Christie, or people who work for him, know how to send a message.

This is decidedly un-conservative behavior, and it’s demonstrative that the bombastic Jersey Governor is no conservative. It is more consistent with the actions of Johnson, Clinton and Obama than it is with those of Reagan and the Bushes.

Conservatives don’t treat people like this, and the conservative base should be appalled by this event. While Christie has apologized and today fired those responsible, the fact that it even happened is reason enough to look elsewhere for a conservative standard-bearer for 2016. If he’d do this to a small town for the reticence of the mayor, he’d do it to the residents of a state that rebuked him, and that’s just wrong.

Conservatives believe in diversity of opinion. We believe in an honest, open debate wherein our opponents are free to oppose without fear of retribution. Non-conservatives, liberals in particular, have absolutely no stomach for a loyal opposition. Time and time again, liberals lash out at those who oppose or offend them, seeking to shut them up, shut them down, get them fired, get them back.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Texas booster bashes Strong hire because… racism, of course

imageYou watch.

The twitterverse and interwebs are going to go into thermal runaway with Texas booster Red McCombs. McCombs, who has donated more than $100 million to the Austin institution and has a statue inside Darrell Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, said during a radio interview that he felt the hire of Louisville’s Charlie Strong was like a “kick in the face.”


He doesn’t mention race as a factor at all. Rather, McCombs’ reasoning is that while Strong is a very good coach, he’s not suited to run what McCombs believes is one of the country’s premier football programs. He seems to think that Strong is getting in over his head.

That is perfectly reasonable, and there are numerous examples of college football head coaches getting into programs that they were woefully ill-prepared for. See Mike Shula at Alabama. See Gene Chizik at Auburn. Ray Goff at Georgia.  Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. Franchione at Texas A&M. The list is nearly endless.

But the national media isn’t going to buy that line at all. Any time an old white guy criticizes the hiring (or the election) of an African-American, regardless of how well articulated the old white guy’s logic is, it’s racism.

The narrative coming out of the media will be that Red McCombs is a racist bigot. The furor will likely die down quickly—long before McCombs is proven dead on or dead wrong. Strong is a fine coach, and I frankly believe he’ll be successful at Texas. He has a reputation for toughness, discipline and physical football, characteristics long missing from Longhorn football under Mack Brown. But Texas is a big school, with many different influence peddlers like McCombs working both publicly and privately to steer the athletics programs. The task of rebuilding a powerhouse in that environment is a tall order for any man, including one whom I admire like I admire Charlie Strong. Hell, I’m not so sure that Nick Saban could gain the level of success at Texas that he has at Alabama, and maybe he knew that all too well himself (they did go after him, hard, fast and strong. Make no mistake about it).

Let’s assume briefly that Strong does his level best and still doesn’t rise to the expectations of the Longhorn fans and power brokers. What happens then? What will the narrative be, in such a scenario?

Well, of course it will be because of all the old white guys with deep pockets who tried to derail the program led by its first ever African-American coach.  Those damned obstructionist racists!

This narrative is repeated in politics and in popular culture, which has contributed to a society programmed to believe that any criticism of a black man in a high position is because of the racist bigotry of the critics.

I hate that, but that’s the truth.

I hope Charlie Strong thrives at Texas. I think he has the coaching acumen and experience to make it at that level. I believe Texas will win a Big XII championship or three, make a high-tier bowl appearance or three, and be in annual contention for a National Title. He’s that good. He didn’t have all of the resources he needed at Louisville to accomplish such things, but he will at Texas.

That said, I understand McCombs’ reasoning as well. It’s a fair argument, but it’s going to be shouted down by the sacred cowists in the increasingly liberal, outrage-expressing national media.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


As some of you know, last October I lost my “day job” and decided to semi-retire and start my own business. Little did I know that when the boss is always in your head, you have no choice but to work your arse off.

That’s what I’ve been doing since November of 2012. Any semblance of “retirement” is gonna have to wait for a while.

There was a brief time in late spring/early summer where I also had to care for an aging parent who’d been injured in an unfortunate accident. That was followed by a somewhat difficult, if not productive second quarter of 2013.

The third and fourth quarters of 2013 were much more successful and, while I’m in no position to coast yet, I should have more time to communicate with the dedicated readers of I Bleed Crimson Red.

I’ll likely be blogging more, and with the 2014 mid-term elections looming in November, you’ll likely see more political content here than you have in the last couple of years.

If you find yourself somewhere left of center on political matters, you may not be pleased. I’ll be blogging content from and linking to sites such as, AoSHQ, and other assorted right-leaning blogs.

But I also hope to be talking about the upcoming playoff system in college football for the 2014 season and beyond. It’s been my reserved belief that a four-team system is the best one and that expansion beyond that is both wasteful and harmful to the importance of the regular season.

There’s also the issue of the nine-game SEC football schedule, to which I am bitterly opposed. You’ll hear from me that traditional rivalries like the Third Saturday in October and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry are much more important to the culture and texture of college football than the media’s desire to “move on.” I expect to make that argument forcefully and repeatedly in the near future.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the dedicated readership. Millions of page views, hundreds of comments and thousands of external links are I wasn’t doing it wrong. I love hearing from you on Twitter and Facebook, and I hope to improve my presence at, which has always been my “home forum” for all things Crimson.

Believe me when I say, “I listen to you.”

May you all have a blessed, safe, healthy and prosperous 2014, and please stay tuned.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Alabama’s exasperating game plans for the last two games

Not once. But twice. Two times in the two most important games of the 2013 season, the Alabama Crimson Tide decided that they could outscore teams that are quite comfortable in high scoring games that are still close late in the second half.

It is inexplicable, and it is exasperating.

Here you have a football program that has developed the best downhill running game in the history of downhill running games. A program that throws the ball when it’s convenient and will simply out-physical, out-hustle and out-muscle you. They use their superior talent and depth to wear you down and make your ass quit. You are literally beaten into submission and you are forced to like it.

Until the Iron Bowl.

Not satisfied with that dismally failed game plan, Alabama’s brain trust decided to double down and play basketball on grass with a team  that is designed to play basketball on grass, from a conference of nothing but teams that play… basketball on grass.


You can point to several other aspects of last night’s Sugar Bowl puzzler that contributed to Alabama’s loss. The offensive line performance in pass protection was atrocious. The linebackers’ performance in short and medium range pass plays by Oklahoma was just as ugly. AJ McCarron’s sudden affinity for turning the ball over was bad too, but the point is that he never should have been put in a position where the game’s outcome relies on the quarterback’s play. That’s not Alabama football.

Maybe this goes back to Coach Nick Saban’s promise during the run-up to the 2013 season that he wanted the offense to be more explosive. Maybe it comes from a head-strong, fifth-year senior quarterback that thinks he might be the second coming of Brett Favre, or something. Maybe it stems from an offensive coordinator who, seeing all of the talent he has on the field, thinks he has the guns to beat anybody, anywhere, even at their own game.

Maybe part of the issue is the shuffling of the depth charts on both sides of the ball and what Jess Nicholas adeptly points out:

Keeping up with the weekly depth chart meant scouring for information on who was suspended, who was in the doghouse or who simply didn’t want to be there. On most good teams, depth chart maneuverings are the result of hungry players moving up and challenging veterans. For Alabama in 2013, it was about talented players underachieving, sulking or running afoul of coaches’ policies. The primary movement was not forward, up the depth chart … it was backward, with names falling off hither and yon.

Again, that’s not Alabama football.

I still think it all goes back to game planning, and doing what it is that you do best.

The best way to beat high-powered, up-tempo offenses is to keep the damned things off of the field. You run the football early and often, and you throw it to your tight ends and receivers when you’re damned good and ready, not when you need to and when the other team knows you need to. You chew up the clock and dominate time of possession as you dominate the line of scrimmage. Alabama’s offensive line did pretty well when the Tide ran the football, did they not? Play field position football. Give the other guys few opportunities to touch the ball and when you have to do so, make them drive a country mile through the teeth of a hungry, well rested defense in order to score.

That is Alabama football, and until the final regular season game of 2013, nobody did it better than Alabama.

What we saw last night was an absolute abomination. It was ugly, it was exasperating, and I pray that I never see it again.

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