Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Nick Saban coaching tree extends a branch into Ole Miss

Nick Saban's dynasty isn't over. It's just beginning. He is the Genghis Khan of college football.

There are 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference. With Saturday's hiring of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss, there are now five current head coaches in the SEC who have served as assistant coaches under Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

They are:

  1. Kirby Smart - Georgia
  2. Jimbo Fisher - Texas A&M
  3. Will Muschamp - South Carolina
  4. Jeremy Pruitt -Tennessee
  5. Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss 
The Florida Gators have twice put their hopes and dreams with Saban disciples, hiring Muschamp in 2011 and following with former Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain in 2014. The impatient Gators traded Mac for former Urban Meyer disciple Dan Mullen in 2018.

What's obvious here is that a successful stint under the coach who's almost certainly the best in his era (if not best ever) has led to very lucrative head coaching jobs at six different programs in the best conference in big boy college football. 

But wait: There's more.

Saban himself has coached at two SEC programs. He won his first national title in 2003 at LSU. So that makes eight SEC programs that have either been coached by Nick Saban or coached by at least one of his former assistants.

Only Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt have yet to feel Saban's touch. Missouri may get a Saban branch of their own if rumors of McElwain's imminent hire there play out.

How has coaching under Saban worked out for the programs that have hired his former assistants? The clear answer is "not too shabby." We excuse the patience-less Florida Gators, of course. (They're special and they'll tell you so if you ask.)

Jimbo Fisher has three conference titles and a National Championship and has a record of 99–32.

Kirby Smart has three SEC East championships, one SEC title and an appearance against his mentor in the championship game for the 2017 season. He's 43–11 in his first and only head coaching gig.

Will Muschamp has a winning record as a head coach, going 54–46 overall between Florida and South Carolina.

Jim McElwain has a 52–31 record with head coaching stops at Fresno State, Colorado State, Florida and Central Michigan.

Lane Kiffin has been the head coach at Tennessee, Southern Cal and Florida Atlantic. Along the way, he's cobbled together an impressive 61–34 record with two Conference USA titles. 

Jeremy Pruitt is the only Saban Padawan with a record at/below .500 with a 12–12 record at Knoxville.

That's a combined record of 321–166 with a national championship and six conference titles. In a 12-game season, that's an average 8–4 record, with a realistic shot at division, conference honors and an occasional chance at national championship contention. Not too shabby.

The only bad news for SEC programs with Sabanites at their helms is that they are a collective 0-19 against their mentor. Sooner or later, one of the students will best his master, but so far... they're not that good.

So, why the Genghis Khan wisecrack? An early 2000's genetic study shows that at least 1-in-200 men living today are direct paternal (Y-chromosome) descendants of the Mongol conqueror.

I'll leave you with this quote, attributed to Genghis hisself:

"The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms."

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Impeachment, Democrats, and the 'Tinkerbell Effect'

Watching the impeachment hearings and listening to Democrats and the media on Sunday morning news shows, I couldn't get over the sense that I'd seen this play before. Then it came to me--this is all just like a scene from the stage adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. 

In the scene, Captain Hook has secretly poisoned Peter's 'medicine.' Wendy, her brothers and the Lost Boys are on their way back home from Neverland. But before Peter can drink the potion (thus sealing his demise as planned by Hook), Tinkerbell snatches the bottle, chugs it down and immediately falls out, dying. Peter leans close and Tink tells him what's happened.

"Captain... Hook... poison..." she whispers.

"Captain Hook?" Peter exclaims. "He poisoned my medicine? Tink! You took it to save me? Oh, Tinker Bell!" Then Peter starts crying as Tink's light slowly fades...

But then Peter jumps up, turns to the audience and says, "Tink says that she thinks she can get well again if children believed in fairies. Do you believe? Do you? If you believe clap your hands, don’t let Tink die!"

He starts clapping and the audience starts to clap with him. Tink slowly gets better but it's not enough! "Louder!" says the little brat. "Yes! Yes, that’s it! See? She’s getting better. Louder! Louder!"

Then, miraculously Tink sits up, stands, and gives a cute little curtsy.

Donald Trump is Captain Hook, of course. The wishful Democrats are the audience and Peter is promising Neverland, i.e., the socialist utopia in which the left thinks we can all live happily ever after. Remember: We never have to grow up in Neverland. It's all fairy dust and rainbows over there and grownups have to pay for it. Tinkerbell is impeachment and removal from office because as the play goes, Peter needs Tink to take care of the Trump problem. But don't forget that cute little Tinkerbell is a fairy, and she's ill-tempered, spoiled, undisciplined, jealous, vindictive and incorrigibly mischievous. She only loves Peter; the rest of us can rot.

Democrats are stuck at the part in this play where all they have to do is believe in impeachment and it will happen. But they don't want you happy-clappy hopeful. What they need is angry rancor. They believe that if their minority is angry enough, the socialist utopia can be brought about by resuscitating Tink. So they parade a bunch of angry deep staters before the people and their Congress, who all solemnly say that because Trump is “inconsistent with consensus views of the interagency”  he is evil; that only Trump stands between them and their Neverland Nirvana.

But in all proper stage adaptations of Barrie's masterpiece, Hook and Father are played by the same actor. At the end of the play, everyone grows up. They have to do what Father tells them, after all. And Neverland is just a stupid fairy tale that only children and Democrats ever believed in.

Extra point: This is the second failed political adaptation of Peter Pan. Remember this?

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Free trade advocate Jimmy Lyons retiring from Alabama State Port Authority

Jimmy Lyons will retire from his Director/CEO position at the Alabama State Port Authority effective December 31, 2020. His departure ends a 23-year transition from the Port of Mobile's focus on coal and agricultural & forest products into a diversified facility. and coal in which he led the transformation of the port of Mobile into a container gateway.

The Port Authority has a conservatively estimated $22 billion impact on national, regional and local (combined) economic activity. That impact is expected to grow over the next decade as the port capitalizes on improved infrastructure.

Lyons also stewarded the Authority's role as the non-federal partner for the Mobile Harbor Deepening Project, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to widen and deepen the ship channel from just south of Dauphin Island to the container terminal (located well south of the I-10 and Bankhead Tunnels).

The Port of Mobile expansion and the deepening project are examples of public and private partnerships that have tangible and easily measured economic benefits exceeding their economic costs. Both the port expansions and the channel deepening projects were studied openly and publicly, with their economic and environmental effects published almost every step of the way. We knew what we were getting.  

Contrast the Port's expansion with the ill-advised, poorly-planned and economically infeasible Mobile River Bridge & Bayway Project, which spectacularly crashed and burned last summer thanks to the grassroots efforts of the Block the Mobile Bayway Toll Group on Facebook.

Lyons' term at the Port Authority has not been free of controversy. In early 2006, then Governor Bob Riley put the brakes on a deal to develop facilities at the Port of Mobile in conjunction with Gulftainer, a privately held United Arab Emirates firm seeking to invest in U.S. seaports. The mere possibility of such a deal sent conspiracy nuts into near apoplexy over not much.

Lyons is also a doctrinaire free trade advocate. When President Donald Trump announced plans for tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel products, Lyons' reaction was swift and clear. “My greatest fear all along has been that an action like this could lead to retaliation that could affect our exports. I’m afraid that’s where it could lead us,” said Jimmy Lyons, CEO at the Alabama State Port Authority. “In a trade war, there are no winners.”

That of course, depends on the strategic objective of the "trade war" belligerents. If the objective is to protect native industries from cheap foreign competition, Lyons is absolutely correct. Markets adjust, prices go up, but commerce continues. But if the objectives include effecting a foreign policy that exports real liberty and real free trade, perhaps short term pain may be worth long term gain. Perhaps Lyons is speaking in two dimensions while President Trump is acting in three.

Lyons' replacement is expected to be named in June, and the plan is to allow a six-month or so transition and change of leadership. The hire may be one of the most important personnel changes in decades for Mobile and the state.

h/t Jim Ziegler

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Feckless liberal trollop rings wrong bell

How many times have you heard the old saw: "You can't unring the bell?"

Professor Pamela Karlan was testifying in today's impeachment circus before the House Judiciary Committee, when she dropped this obviously planned, obviously rehearsed and obviously staged response to a question from Sheila Jackson Lee:

Wasn't that cute and witty? The peanut gallery thought so, but ...

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican from Pensacola and in Mornin' Joe Scarborough's old seat:

Professor Karlan later offered a conditional apology after being scolded by Gaetz and also after being made aware by her handlers that her little witticism was playing out as well as an Anthony Weiner SMS photo.

But it was too late. You can't unring the bell and this liberal strumpet rang the wrong one. You just don't use minor children as foils against their parents. The Bush daughters were off limits. The Obama daughters were off limits. Therefore, Barron is off limits.

This episode is a perfect metaphor for the unmitigated hatred borne by the professional left for anything related to President Donald Trump. This hatred drives them to extremes and gives way to dehumanizing and objectifying the targets of their vitriol.

These are not rational people, y'all.

There is something else these folks still don't realize. Donald Trump doesn't sit still after stuff like this. He is not George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. He retaliates in kind so if you go low, he goes lower. He's going to carefully craft his payback and he's going to make the left look like idiots. Again.

Probably in front of cheering crowds in the midwest battleground states they call flyover country.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tua Tagovailoa is considering a return for 2020

In an interview with the Don of Tide Sports Media, Tua Tagovailoa says he hasn't ruled out a return to the Capstone for his senior year.
“Whatever God puts in my heart and my parents’ hearts, that will be the right thing.”

Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip dislocation in Alabama’s Nov. 16 game at Mississippi State and had hip surgery two days later in Houston, is finishing the semester at Alabama and will take final exams next week.

As far as his decision, Tagovailoa said he was looking “at both sides of the spectrum.”

“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said.
I don't know about other Bama fans, but regardless of where he plays next season, I will hold my breath every time he takes a snap. He's the kind of football player that Brett Favre, Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath were. They put finishing the play first and didn't care how the dice rolled on whether he survived it or not. Sometimes the play ended spectacularly, but sometimes it ended with us all gasping in sudden fear.

Go ahead, Bama fans. Tell Tua what he should do, and tell us why your counsel makes sense. Heh...

College football is big business whether we like it or not. With big business comes big risk.

He talks about money as part of his decision making, and that's ok. There's nothing wrong with squeezing every nickel out of your abilities and there's nothing wrong with the timing of his departure coming down to a business decision.

When Tua is healthy and all cylinders are firing, he is absolutely unstoppable. He sees plays unfold before the ball is even snapped and has finished games with more TD passes than incompletions. He's a rare phenomenon and we're blessed to have had him on our side.

The Crimson Tide returns a lot of talent next season. The 2019 team was deep and talented, but also very young. Great things are possible in 2020 whether he returns for his final tour or takes his God-given talent to the NFL.

Wherever he goes, may he take God's grace with him.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Enjoy it, Auburn fans. But try to keep it in perspective, ok?

Online, on sports talk radio and even in person, grateful Auburn Tiger fans are relishing that unusual sensation of having their team encounter a Nick Saban coached Alabama Crimson Tide and come away the victor.

But my goodness, you'd think that Auburn has suddenly become the giant killers of the Southeastern Conference. 

With Nick Saban at the helm in Tuscaloosa, Auburn has suffered eight losses against five hard-fought Tiger victories. Four of those five wins have come in the friendly backyard of Jordan Hare Stadium. Their only win in Tuscaloosa was a 1-pt squeaker in 2010, when today's Senior class were eighth graders.

It is true that Auburn has become Alabama's most competitive rival. The two closest SEC schools in rivalry terms are LSU and traditional Bama nemesis, Tennessee. But under Nick Saban, those two programs are a combined 4-23 against their Master. Only Tennessee has ever run off a streak of 7-0 against Alabama. Emphasis on ever. LSU has run off a 5-0 streak, but that was during the Mike Shula era at Bama and two of those games were with Nick Saban as the LSU head coach.

No team in the SEC has ever beaten an Alabama squad coached by Saban more than twice, and we all know how Ole Mrs. did it.

So today, Auburn fans are practically bursting with pride because they have five wins against a Bama team led by Nick Saban. Never mind that none of those wins are back-to-back. Never mind that Saban has done the back-to-back thing to Auburn twice and has done a threepeat once. Never mind that not one of Auburn's wins against Master Saban were by more than two touchdowns and all were competitive. Never mind that six of Alabama's wins in the period were blowouts and that two were shut outs. Auburn hasn't shut out Alabama since 2000.

Its kind of a lame claim to fame when you say, "well, he's beaten us twice as often as we've beaten him, but Saban hasn't dominated! He's only shut us out ok... two times! Nobody else can say that! War Eagle!"

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Iron Bowl 2019: It's tough to beat luck like that...

For this Iron Bowl, both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers laid everything on the field on a perfect Saturday evening at Jordan Hare Stadium. This is the way this annual grudge match is supposed to be.

What seems to set the 2019 apart from the standard fare of the series was the sloppiness. Sloppiness is a symptom of a lack of discipline, lack of experience and poor concentration. Neither team had much of any of that good stuff.

Auburn won this game using their athleticism and incredible luck. But as the old saying goes, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Auburn was prepared, Alabama was not.

Four plays epitomized Alabama's fortunes in the game:

  1. Auburn's Smoke Monday (is that a name or a play call?) picked off a sailed throw from Alabama's Mac Jones and took it in for a 29-yard touchdown. This is not typical Mac Jones--he's never wild or careless with the ball. It just sailed this time.
  2. After three 1st and Goals, Auburn took a Jones pass that bounced off of Naji Harris's back into his hands and raced 100 yards for another pick six.
  3. With the score 48-45 Auburn's way, Joe Bulova boinked what should have been an easy kick to tie the game. That's pretty much been Bama's poison for a lot of Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama, but anyway...
  4. With Auburn facing 4th and 4-ish with about a minute left, and with everyone in the world except Auburn expecting a punt, AU instead showed a standard offensive lineup. That forced Bama to too-hastily substitute and AU caught'em with 12 men on the field. Automatic 1st down; ball game.
That last penalty was the 13th against Alabama, which is the most ever for a Saban coached team at Alabama. Almost every one of the flags went against underclassmen, every one of them on the field at Auburn for the first time.

In many of the 2019 games, the left side of the defense seemed to always have at least one guy out of position. Opposing teams exploited that weakness repeatedly. Often on 3rd down. Usually for a conversion. Almost always against underclassmen.

Truth be told, Alabama has been cheating lady luck all season. Had this team of uncharacteristically young Sabanites faced up-to-speed and healthy opponents in South Carolina, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Mississippi State, a 10-2 regular season record would have gotten Coach Saban legitimate nominations for SEC and National Coach of the Year awards. The team lost a treasure trove of talent to the NFL after the 2018 season. No fewer than five freshmen started on defense. There were no more than seven seniors starting against Auburn on the whole team. The offense didn't have one senior starter on the field against Auburn. Not one. The defense only had four. The starting lineup for the Iron Bowl consisted almost exclusively of underclassmen, and only a handful will (or should) depart early for the NFL Draft.

All Bama fans want Alabama to win every single game they play. The players and coaches want that even more. But when your team's best players lack big game experience, you're at risk. When you're up against teams in the SEC, and your team's best players lack big game experience, you're really at risk. When you're the Alabama Crimson Tide and every opponent on the schedule has your game circled on the calendar... luck is just about the only thing that gets you through unscathed. Alabama lost to the only two ranked teams it played--LSU in a down-to-the-wire shootout at home, and Auburn in a down-to-the-wire shootout in their corral. 

There is still a bowl game to play and Alabama will be at the top of the list for the SEC's top tier bowl tie-ins. The few seniors and departing juniors still have one more chance to show their stuff.

After that, Alabama will get down to business putting the 2019 season's experience to very good use. Nick Saban never misses an opportunity to use disappointment as a motivator. The 2019 true and redshirt freshmen will come back and work with the rising upperclassmen. Between 25-30 players from this team will be back for 2020. A year older, a year better an a year hungrier.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity and it's my bet that Alabama will be more than prepared this time next year to take advantage of many more opportunities. And other fans can complain about bad luck.

Bama will be just fine.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Hong Kong protesters stand together, sing OUR National Anthem after Trump signs support legislation

This is after their elections, and this is done in full knowledge that America has just celebrated an important national holiday of giving thanks. They're thanking us for the bipartisan law President Trump just signed.

The legislation passed earlier this month provides for more monitoring the independent status of the former British colony. It also allows for sanctions to be imposed if the Chinese government attempts to rein in the tiny island's liberties, which they agreed to respect in the treaty that the west negotiated in returning Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1999.

The island has been rocked with first peaceful, then violent protests over what was seen by residents as attempts to enforce communist rules and roll back legal rights.

Earlier this week, Hong Kong voters overwhelmingly rejected pro-Beijing legislators in the island's only means of official expression of displeasure over the changes Beijing wanted to move forward.

To have thousands of protesters singing a free country's national anthem must really stick in Beijing's craw.

This is beautiful beyond description.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Palate Cleanser: Interstellar object to enter our solar system, come close to Earth

A big object from another star system has been making its way towards our little corner of the Milky Way. It's been on its way since before we were even here. So... Why are we just learning about this now? And why did we have to wait for a British tabloid to alert us when NASA has known about it since August?

A MYSTERIOUS object hurtling towards our Solar System from deep space has been photographed by scientists. ...

Discovered in August, Borisov has travelled at least 7trillion miles to get here and will make its close approach with Earth next month.

Experts captured a closeup of the object on Sunday using a telescope at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The image, taken by Yale University scientists, showed the comet surrounded by a bright white glow. ...

Made up of ice and other debris crumbling from Borisov's main body, the ghostly tail stretches a staggering 100,000 miles long.

That makes it longer than 12 Earths stacked side by side behind the comet.

"It's humbling to realise how small Earth is next to this visitor from another solar system," said Yale scientist Dr Pieter van Dokkum.
Maybe all this impeachment nonsense is just a false flag operation. It's meant to distract us from what could be the end of everything. A dozen Earths stacked side by side is YUUUGE. It is supposed to pass about 190 million miles away, or only about twice the distance between Earth and the Sun.

But what if NASA is off a few compass points on this thing's trajectory. Humans aren't very good at predicting the ultimate path of earthly phenomena. Hurricanes, for example. Those things only have two dimensions to their trajectory. 

Despite numerous attempts to study Borisov, scientists remain clueless as to what it is. Many speculate the distant mass is a comet. ...

According to prominent astronomer Dr Seth Shostak, 76, we can't say for sure Borisov is not an alien probe sent to study our planet.

"We can't rule out that this is an interstellar probe," Dr Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in California, told The Sun in September.

"If we get a closeup look, we may well see it has a metal exterior with portholes and little green faces looking out at us.

"However, I would bet next month's pay cheque this is a comet."
Well... I hope he's right but if he's wrong, next month's payday might never come, so...


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Was Toll Road interoperability partly behind Alabama's push to get the Toll Bridge built?

The communities in Mobile and Baldwin Counties may have a little something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

This story was posted on, but it's from WPMI's parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group. It brings to light a previously unknown (to us) obscure provision in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, aka, MAP-21. This is the federal law that also contained the obscure provision requiring FHWA and its non-federal partners to get local approval for all federally funded highway projects through their Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Those MPOs were the two boards that soundly rejected the Mobile River Bridge & Bayway Project in August, after the grassroots Block the Mobile Bayway Toll Group on Facebook mobilized its forces and made clear that the local electorate was having none of it.

The project was fatally flawed and faced years of litigation even if it survived the Facebook Group's MPO broadside, but the group prevailed and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey pulled the plug and declared it dead.

With this story, we learn that MAP-21 also required tolled roads to be interoperable, so that drivers who purchased electronic pass systems could use toll roads in other states without having to register their vehicle or electronic gadget in each state. It's for our convenience, of course:
Congress hoped to have all tolls systems interoperable by 2016 and the good news is we’re close.

“Ninety-five percent of toll transactions are already interoperable,” said Pat Jones, CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, or IBTTA.

He said the problem with not meeting that 2016 deadline set by Congress is that there was no direction attached to that deadline.

“They said this should happen, they didn’t say who should do it, they didn’t say how it’s going to be paid for,” said Jones. “They simply said this needs to happen.”
Thank goodness for small favors. It's one thing for Congress to require states to meet certain requirements as a condition for accepting federal money. They call that... dare I say it? A quid pro quo.

It's quite another thing if along the way, Congress or the agencies it funds make it easier for certain concessionaire enterprises to share the revenues from the tolled roads they manage with all of the states they operate in. Thinking big-picture and connecting dots (with no evidence), is it hard to imagine deals where part of the tolls paid by Alabama drivers traveling in Texas, Florida and Georgia get shared with the home state? You know... so Alabama can pass along a bit of their take with concessionaire partners in Texas, Florida and Georgia when their drivers use Alabama toll roads (and bridges). They kinda already do this sort of thing with Powerball Lottery drawings, don't they?

Thank God we don't ever have to worry about what coulda happened, because it ain't gonna.