Friday, June 20, 2014

Is Alabama taking a new direction with the incoming QB’s?

clip_image001Last winter, I expressed some exasperation over the game plans for Alabama’s final two games of the 2013 season. I just couldn’t believe that an Alabama team known for smashmouth football would attempt to outscore two programs using a basketball-on-grass strategy when both of those two opponents were designed to play basketball on grass.

Then came the puzzling and controversial hire of Lane Kiffen to replace Coach Nuss at the offensive coordinator slot. Kiffin, known for pro-style and West Coast type offenses is a heckuva coach and a good playcaller. He’s also a proficient recruiter and a salesman who could sell to other salesmen.

Which is why the recruitment and ultimate commitments of Jacob Coker and Blake Barnett are so curious. As CapstoneReport’s ITK points out, this signals that the Tide’s traditional offense is in for more than just a tweak or two here and there:

Think you have Alabama’s offense figured out? Think again.

Yesterday Alabama received a commitment from one of the top three dual threat quarterbacks in the country, Blake Barnett of Corona Santiago, California. Barnett, like the incoming transfer Jacob Coker, presents a different skill-set from other quarterbacks in Nick Saban’s arsenal while at Alabama.

While it’s doubtful Alabama’s new offense will stoop to bush-league tactics like the HUNH, football’s version of the cheap shot punch (then run away as fast as you can), it appears Bama is intent on standing in front of you, punching you in the mouth, then kicking you with very, very quick feet.

The emphasized statement is important. Like ITK (and probably most Bama fans), I pray that we don’t go to the trick offenses run by Auburn, Oklahoma and Oregon. We’re not geared for that, and it would take a disastrous few years to get geared for it. Just ask Rich Rodriguez how things work out when you take a team geared for downhill running and try to put in a spread-type offense.

It’s just not Alabama football. It’s not what the team is currently designed to do, and it’s not something most Bama fans would recognize as “our brand.”

More speed on the offense is never a bad thing. Nor is it a bad thing to have a QB who can turn a busted play into a first down or a TD. It is a bad thing to fundamentally rewrite the playbook and completely change strategies when you’ve been recruiting for years with the goal in mind of playing the game a certain way.

In the game of football, and especially in the SEC, the winners are usually the teams that control the ball, dominate the clock and own the line of scrimmage. Play trickster football against smashmouth football and nine times out of ten, the team with the smashmouth strategy wins.

You wanna get some additional speed to augment the physicality of your traditional brand of football, fine. But if you don’t dance with the one who brung ya, ya ain’t gonne get much time on the big dance floor.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brett Favre: Dain Bramage or shrewd move?

The Mississippi primary runoff election is a mere five days away. Long-tooth long-term US Senator Thad Cochran is in the political fight of his life against challenger and TEA Party favorite Chris McDaniel.

Enter the US Chamber of Commerce with this ad, featuring hometown son Brett Favre, who wants Mississippians to return the old guy back for what will surely be his final tour.

Oh, goody. Another topic that blends my two most passionate issues.

Why should Favre’s endorsement mean squat in a primary race won by the challenger (but without the majority required to avoid a runoff)?

Well, because Brett Favre is from lovely Kiln, MS. It’s part of a three-county stretch between the state lines of Alabama and Louisiana. Thanks to the shipbuilding and casino industries in this stretch, the area is the second-most populous urban area in the state. It’s also solidly red, meaning that attention levels will be high in the area over the next several days.

To put it mildly, Favre is a homeboy. He enjoys tremendous popularity in the region and is treated like a rock star wherever he goes. The dude has clout.

The question is simple: Is Favre dain bramaged, or is this a shrewd and calculated move by the donor wing of the GOP to get their guy over the finish line by using a populous region’s most celebrated athlete to do a full-throated endorsement?

Granted, I believe that Cochran should have retired already. He’s uhh… getting on up there and McDaniel has shown political chops on the stump. Cochran refused to debate him and has a long record of establishmentarianism.

But y’know, getting such a beloved homeboy to speak up may turn out to be genius. The race is reportedly as tight as a drafting maneuver at Talladega. This one’s going to the finish line.

Forget about the jokes regarding Favre’s little sexting scandal. Forget about the irony of having a QB who didn’t know when to hang up the cleats endorsing a Senator who, frankly, doesn’t seem to know when to hang it up.

This little thing might produce enough votes in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties to push Cochran over the goal line.

Or, it might be too little, too late and Cochran is forced into doing something Favre just couldn’t bring himself to do.

We’ll see Tuesday night.

On the controversy over the “Redskins” name

clip_image001As you are probably fully aware, the controversy over the use of the term “Redskins” for the Washington NFL franchise has reignited with greater fury than perhaps ever before. A group of Native Americans filed litigation with the US Patent and Trademark Office to have owner Dan Snyder’s trademark on the name and logo associated with the franchise revoked.

USTPO sided with the plaintiffs, ordering that the trademark be squished like a bug, reasoning that the name and logo was disparaging to a significant enough degree that it violated the Trademark Act.

The Redskins organization will no doubt appeal the decision, just as it did in 1999 when the USTPO tried to void the trademark.

This is an irresistible topic for me, because it melds two things I am passionate about: Sports and politics.

Predictably, many on the politically correct left are hailing the decision as a decisive victory for civil rights. Also predictably, many on the right (and probably a vast majority of ‘Skins fans) are deriding it as an unnecessary intrusion into an NFL owner’s right to conduct business as he sees fit.

In my opinion, I think’s AllahPundit has the correct take on this issue. The money quote from his post yesterday:

The weird thing about “Redskins” is that it’s so closely associated with football and the team in the public’s mind, I think, that over time the sports meaning has completely overtaken the racially derogatory meaning. If someone walked up to you today and said “What do you think of the Redskins?”, you’d assume without a second thought that he was asking you about the NFC East, not casually slurring Native Americans. Hard to argue that the word’s “disparaging” in that context. On the other hand, if you let the mark stand for that reason, then theoretically “Washington Blackskins” would and should also stand as long as it’s been in use for a long enough time that the underlying racial meaning has basically melted away.

Essentially, the argument comes down to how one would answer this question: Was there an intent to disparage Native Americans in adopting this name, or is it the intent of certain segments of the population to feel disparaged and demand action? Put another way: Was the franchise determined to disparage, or are those who claim disparagement determined to be disparaged?

AllahPundit’s angle on the question is also valid and raises another important question: Has the sports context of the name overtaken the potentially derogatory meaning, or is the derogatory meaning so overarching that it trumps the long evolution of the sports context?

If the USTPO decision is upheld during the federal appeals process (the mark remains enforceable throughout the appeals process), then Snyder will have no good business choice than to change the name of the team. Otherwise, he stands to lose precious sums of money from the inability to protect the trademark. Plus, his well-known obstinance means that he’s probably taking this all the way. He ain’t gonna quit.

It will be years yet before this matter is finally settled but my exit question is simply this:If there is no intent to offend, why can’t we as a society simply choose not to be offended?