Saturday, October 31, 2015

Top Ten Rushing Seasons?

The NFL Network’s ranking of the top ten greatest rushing seasons:

10. 1980 1934 5.2 128.9 13 Earl Campbell
09. 2009 2006 5.6 125.4 14 Chris Johnson
08. 2006 1815 5.2 113.4 28 Ladanian Tomlinson
07. 1977 1852 5.5 132.3 14 Walter Payton
06. 1963 1863 6.4 133.1 12 Jim Brown
05. 1998 1998 5.1 125.5 21 Terrell Davis
04. 1997 2053 6.1 128.3 11 Barry Sanders
03. 1984 2105 5.6 131.6 14 Eric Dickerson
02. 2012 2097 6.0 131.1 12 Adrian Peterson
01. 1973 2003 6.0 143.1 12 OJ Simpson

NM 1985 2411 5.5 133.9 21 Herschel Walker

HM 2003 2066 5.3 129.1 14 Jamal Lewis
HM 1995 1773 Emmitt Smith
HM 2005 1880 Shawn Alexander
HM 2000 2189 yards from scrimmage Marshall Faulk

As usual, Herschel Walker was left out of the conversation. His monumental 1985 season out-did every non-felon on the list, both in total and on a per game basis.

While Marshal Faulk’s 2000 season made the list, when he collected 2189 yards rushing and receiving, his 1999 season with 2429 yards did not make the list. As a Dallas Cowboy in 1988 Herschel had 2019 yards rushing and receiving. But in 1985 Walker had 2878 yards rushing and receiving. Why Herschel is almost never even mentioned is beyond me.

Other tidbits:
1. Jamal Lewis had the only 2000 yard season to not make the top ten (besides Herschel).
2. Bertie Feathers had the first 1000 yard season in 1934. He shared the same backfield with Red Grange.
3. Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season was all the more remarkable when you consider it was his first season returning from a torn ACL, and Christian Ponder was his quarterback.
4. Earl Campbell had four 200 yard games in 1980, and averaged 30 carries in his last 11 games.
5. Terrell Davis was the only back in the top ten whose team won a playoff game in his big year.
6. Barry Sanders only gained 53 yards in the first two weeks of the 1997 season. His quarterback was Scott Mitchell. Sanders led the league that year with 197 negative rushing yards. This cost him both the single season rushing record and the career rushing record.
6. Eric Dickerson had 14 fumbles during his huge 1984 season. His quarterback was Jeff Kemp.   

Friday, October 30, 2015

Greatest Play in Tech History?

Was Saturday’s game-winning 78 yard touchdown return the greatest play in Georgia Tech’s storied football history? Surely not, though it has to be up there. Though I am far from an expert, here are some other great plays, mostly since 1976. Can you think of others I missed?
Roy Riegels’ wrong way run in the 1929 Rose Bowl. While Riegels played for Cal, his famous run helped Tech win the game and the 1928 national championship.
Jake “Mouse” Rudolph’s game-saving “$125,000 tackle” against Alabama on November 15, 1952, securing a Sugar Bowl bid and the national championship. Rudolph was knocked unconscious on the play.
Surely there were great plays in the 24 years between 1928 and 1952, as well as between 1952 and 1976. I’ll check Kim King’s book and maybe more. Can anyone share some of them?
Wishbone running back David Simms’ signature touchdown run to upset Notre Dame in the November 6, 1976 homecoming game.
Quarterback Mike Kelley’s 90 yard quick-kick in the 1979 season-opener against Alabama.
John Davis’ goal line block of William “The Refrigerator” Perry” in 1983. The offensive lineman was named the national offensive player of the week.
Gary Lee’s 95 yard kickoff return through the fog in the win over Georgia November 30, 1985.
William Bell’s 57 yard touchdown run against Nebraska in the 1991 Citrus Bowl – the signature moment in the game that secured Tech’s 1990 national championship (above).
Scott Sisson’s game-winning field goal as time expired against number one Virginia earlier in the 1990 season.
Bulldog Jasper Sank’s goal line fumble and Jacket Luke Manget’s game-winning field goal in the November 27, 1999 overtime win over Georgia.
Calvin Johnson’s leaping game-winning touchdown catch at Clemson in 2004 (above).  
Calvin Johnson’s often-replayed across-the-body catch against NC State on October 6, 2005. 
Roddy Jones’ 54 yard touchdown run against UGA to secure the road win in 2008.
Kicker Scott Blair’s 2009 borderline legal fake field goal / 40 yard touchdown pass to Bay Bay Thomas, to secure the win over Clemson (above).
Cornerback DJ White’s interception to secure the Jacket’s 30-24 overtime win over Georgia in 2014.
Lance Austin’s 78 yard “Miracle on Techwood” return of a blocked 56 yard field goal as time expired to beat #9 FSU on October 24, 2015. For his play Austin was named Tech’s co-special teams player of the game. The Jackets went from possibly losing the game on the last play (or a chance at overtime) to winning the game. A great play – possibly the greatest play in college football that week. Was it greater than the previous week’s great play, where Michigan State scooped up a mishandled Michigan punt to go from losing to winning the game? Both were mere regular season games.
Neither play was better Chris Davis’ “Kick Six” 109 yard return of a missed Alabama 57 yard field goal to win the Iron Bowl, sending Auburn to the SEC Championship Game and later the National Championship. Or “The Play” - the final play of the heated 1982 Stanford/Cal rivalry game when Kevin Moen took the fifth lateral of the play and ran through the Stanford marching band to score the game-winning touchdown. But perhaps on par with the statue of liberty two point conversion run by Boise State to beat the heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Or the hook & ladder touchdown pass earlier in the same game.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

ESPN Total QB Rating

Just when you think you know who’s good and who is not, we have a season when the tables are turned upside down. No surprise Trevone Boykin leads the nation, or that a Baylor system QB is second. Too bad Seth Russell is hurt, giving TCU the edge in Baylor’s only tough game on their schedule. But after a rough 2014 both Marquise Williams, Brandon Harris, and Joshua Dobbs have finally cut down on turnovers and mental errors to climb toward the top of the rankings.
Much heralded Miami QB Brad Kaaya hovers in the middle of the rankings. Penn State’s good looking Christian Hackenberg remains near the cellar, though in recent weeks has moved from a ranking in the 100’s to the 90’s – passing Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas, who has been called on the pass more than he should. Justin hasn’t played well, but his rank is still comparable to the beloved Josh Nesbitt. Even Vandy’s awful Johnny McCrary is ranked above Thomas.
If you’d asked a Georgia fan in August if they’d be happy to have their new quarterback ranked in the top 25% in the nation - ahead of the quarterbacks from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Missouri – most would’ve said yes. As long as they were undefeated, of course.

1. 87.9 Trevone Boykin, TCU
2. 87.4 Seth Russell, Baylor (injured)
3. 86.8 Kevin Hogan. Stanford
4. 86.5 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
5. 85.7 Paxton Lynch, Memphis
6. 85.6 Greg Ward, Houston
7. 84.7 Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
8. 83.6 Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
9. 83.0 Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
10. 83.0 Taylor Lamb, App State: vs. poor competition?
12. 79.2 Cody Kessler, Southern Cal (above)
13. 78.6 DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
14. 78.3 Marquisse Williams, UNC: finally living up to promise?
15. 78.2 Connor Cook, Michigan State
16. 77.8 Brandon Allen, Arkansas: rising
17. 77.5 Chad Kelly, Ole Miss: falling
19. 77.3 Brandon Harris, LSU: why they’re good?
23. 75.6 Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
27. 72.0 Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
33. 70.0 Gunner Keil, Cincinnati
34. 70.0 Greyson Lambert, Georgia
36. 69.1 Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech: former Gator
37. 68.8 Eric Dungey, Syracuse
39. 68.3 Brad Kaaya, Miami
42. 67.3 Jerrod Heard, Texas
43. 66.8 Will Grier, Florida
45. 66.7 Jake Coker, Alabama: good enough?
46. 66.7 Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
49. 64.9 Everett Golson, FSU: why they’re bad
50. 64.4 Jacoby Brissett, NC State
51. 64.0 Patrick Towles, Kentucky
52. 64.0 Lamar Jackson, Louisville
55. 61.3 Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
61. 59.1 Thomas Sirk, Duke
62. 58.9 Vernon Adams, Oregon: disappointment?
66. 56.2 Joe Hubener, Kennesaw State
69. 55.7 Matt Johns, Virginia
78. 51.4 Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State
80. 50.3 John Wolford, Wake Forest
83. 49.2 Brenden Motley, Virginia Tech
96. 45.2 Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: climbing!
97. 44.6 Johnny McCrary, Vanderbilt
99. 42.2 Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech: passes too much
112. 32.3 Justin Holman, UCF: why O’Leary retired?
113. 32.0 Drew Lock, Missouri

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday Night Lights

Finally made it out to see Mary-Clayton's younger brother play football. Shortly after I entered the stadium at Sprayberry High, MC's dad told me it was not a good night to come: Johnson Ferry Christian Academy's best player and quarterback was down in Florida trying out for the Red Sox. Later Brett told me a top running back also was out. This made for a quite ordinary home school / small private Christian school high school football game (not that the level of play in higher classifications is much better).

There were several familiar faces in the crowd. Chris and Kim sat where they could greet fans as they entered. Later Will's former teammate Christian joined them. I first sat with Living Science/Flight Basketball dad and Facebook friend Jeff, who confessed to reading my blog. Like Will, his 22 year old daughter majored in biology and is engaged to be married. Her fiancĂ© is in medical school. After graduation the couple will return to Kenya, where they met. It was good catching up with Jeff. We also talked a little football. He goes to all the Clemson home games. Jeff's friend is a surgeon in the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, which may help Will secure a job in January.

I had walked in behind several somersaulting middle school coeds. One brought up popular comedian Jim Gaffigan, and my ears perked up. She launched into one of his routines, and my ears perked up even more when she slipped in a slightly off-color three-letter word. Come to think of it, there wasn't anything slightly about it, though the word is in the Bible in a different context. What had I gotten myself into?

Ceil and Matthew and Regina and MC's grandparents arrived. When Regina and Ceil moved I chatted with my kindred soul Carolyn Gilbert. She opened our conversation by saying how she's loved a recent joke. The elder Gilberts raised their boys at Peachtree Presbyterian, and we determined she was in a weekly Bible Study with my Aunt Martha. My grandmother's name was familiar to her. Her husband Walter attended North Fulton High just four years behind my mother. Carolyn marveled at a man sitting nearby, watching the game while busying himself inexplicably writing thank-you notes, ala Jimmy Fallon.

The game had most of the trappings of a real high school game. The Saints marching band lined up before the game, performed at halftime, and led the fans in cheers - including the always famous "Hey!" song. During the halftime show I was talking to Carolyn, and a band parent shushed me for talking over the music. Like I said, just like a real high school game.

The game finally kicked off at 7:30, and I focused on young Thomas. Covering the kick when the return man veered right Thomas wisely did likewise - where he was blocked in the back not once but twice, as the return man dashed down the far sideline into the end zone. No call. Then on North Georgia's second offensive play the receiver quite obviously pushed off. No call. Jeff noticed the same thing. So it was going to be one of those games. The rival Falcons already had the size and speed advantage, and evidently they would take advantage of the novice referees as well. The first 14 seconds of the game took ten minutes to play, and the pace only picked up slightly from there.

With the young backup quarterback making his first start the Saints mostly stuck to the ground. The big bad Saints lacked good tackling fundamentals. Taking a que from the college and pro players they see on TV, the Falcons would swing ballcarriers around and fling them to the ground. One big linebacker looked like a football player but rarely hit anyone. In fact when a tiny Saint defensive back smashed into a big Falcon receiver at the same time the ball arrived, the Falcon was knocked out of the game. When the Saints did throw several passes right in the receiver's hands were inexplicably dropped. Several times Saint receivers misjudged long passes and stopped, only to have the ball sail over their head. Some of the best gains came on scrambles by the quarterback, though the stadium held their breath each time to make sure the signal-caller survived the tackle.

After a JFCA punt the Falcons went for it on fourth down, perhaps not only because of confidence in the defense but also due to a lack of a good punter. On North Georgia's second possession the receiver was flagged for pushing off. Thomas was making plays on defense: making tackles and grabbing ankles and breaking up passes. When one near interception bounced high into the air another Saint defender caught the deflection and raced downfield with the interception. A defensive pass interference penalty on fourth and goal gave Johnson Ferry four more tries, but they failed on what turned out to be their best chance of the evening.

A Falcon pass was thrown right at a tiny Saint defender, who tried to make an ole type catch instead of getting his body in front of the ball. He missed. The ball went right through his hands into the waiting arms of a Falcon receiver. Touchdown. While the smaller Saints were able to hold the North Georgia ground game in check for the most part, the infrequent Falcon touchdowns were mostly one on one matchups where bigger and stronger beat smaller and weaker. North Georgia would surely have trouble running up against a team close to their own size.

We saw several familiar faces in addition to the Gilberts, Maioccos, and Smiths. After the game I spoke at length with Brett. Our families are in the same boat with multiple college students and aging high-mileage cars. He's got it worse than me. Matthew found several friends to hang with. As usual we were among the last to leave. I had come straight from work, and the 16 hour day had worn me down.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Matt Ryan Joins NFL's Elite

This past Sunday Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan became the fifth-fastest quarterback in NFL history to pass for 30,000 yards, passing the mark in only his 117th game.
114 Dan Marino
114 Kurt Warner
115 Peyton Manning
116 Aaron Rodgers
117 Matt Ryan
120 Drew Brees

The 30 year old Ryan is the fourth youngest to reach the mark, behind Marino, Manning, and Brett Farve.

Just last week Rodgers became the fastest to 30000 in terms of pass attempts (3652) breaking Johnny Unitas’ mark.

Monday, October 26, 2015

More on the Miracle

Tech needed a miracle to beat FSU, and got it. It had been highly possible that Seminoles All-American kicker Roberto Aguayo could very well have made the game-winning 56 yard field goal. And even if he hadn’t it was just as likely that FSU would’ve came out on top in overtime, based on the love affair Paul Johnson seems to have with the forward pass. After five straight losses I was done with my note-taking. This game I would just watch.
First, the miracle. I was on the couch watching the play. Any 56 yard field goal attempt is interesting to me, but especially one to win a game Georgia Tech is involved in. That would be something. Then the kick was blocked, and everything started happening so fast. The thought of “game over – we’re going to overtime” may have crossed my mind. I saw the ball and the Tech player hesitate before picking it up. I wasn’t sure of any of the rules, but by then he picked it up and ran. I wasn’t yet thinking of the similarities to Auburn’s Chris Davis running back the missed 57 yard field goal 109 yards to win the Iron Bowl (clearly a greater play).
What I saw was the dreaded escorts racing down the field next to the ballcarrier – looking good but not blocking. Fresh off his end zone interception of a deflected pass, Jamal Golden had earlier botched a punt return, prompting me to tweet that he was no Kelly Rhino – the slow but sure-handed Tech north/south punt returner  / son of former All-American Randy Rhino. Golden glanced at one speedy FSU defender and decided not to block him. Golden (number 4, above) didn’t block anyone. It almost cost Tech the game. But the rest is history. I was able to sit and enjoy the moment.
Social media was blowing up. Along with the usual accolades and obvious news reports “Most AWESOME finish ever!!! Ga Tech defeats Florida State on a blocked kick and run-back with no time on the clock! 78 yards!” I most enjoyed the on-the-scene selfies and photos from Wayne Rogers, Steve Hawkins, Bill Headley, Connie Morris, and Chris O’Leary. My contribution succinctly referenced last week’s loss to Pitt ”Die by the last-second 56 yard field goal, live by the last-second 56 yard game-winning field goal. #togetherweswarm” Tom Leuze posted “Lance Austin is my new hero!” I did not reply because I didn’t know who Lance Austin was. Tom might have changed the channel or been talking about an earlier game. Not until the next morning would I realize he was talking about the Tech touchdown scorer.
Great story on Austin being escorted into the end zone by his twin brother, and how both had already played and contributed more in this game due to injuries. Nice to see the fans storm the field. A great ending to homecoming, the mostly successful whiteout, and the picturesque nighttime downtown Atlanta setting. Hustling off the field grinning like the Cheshire Cat, Paul Johnson appreciated the ball finally bouncing his way. Later replays would show his attempt to wave off the return, though surely he was happy with his player’s disobedience.
But even in the exhilaration I knew what Paul Johnson knew as well – the Jackets were lucky to escape with a win. While the defense played their best game of the year – holding alleged Heisman hopeful Dalvin Cook to a mere 82 yards rushing and forcing inconsistent QB Everett Golson to beat them through the air – Tech’s offense consisted of three Harrison Butker field goals and one long keeper by QB Justin Thomas. Though FSU took away the fullback dive and forced the Engineers to wide their second and third string B-backs outside, Tech was able to move the ball reasonably well on the ground all night. In his Monday night radio show Johnson reminded us how many undetected mistakes happen that us regular fans can't detect.
But as usual Johnson called too many dropback pass plays with mostly unfavorable (and sometimes disastrous) results. FSU scored their first ten points off Justin Thomas turnovers – both pass plays, including one pick six. The OL O-line, built for run blocking, was a revolving door for the Seminole pass rush. As quick as the fleet Thomas could take the snap from center, drop back looking left, then turn to set up to throw, the rushers were closing in. On one end-zone rollout A-back Marcus Marshall failed to block, and Thomas was lucky to escape a safety. Late in the game an ill-advised third down dropback resulted in a sack that took the Jackets out of field goal range, instead forcing a punt. ESPN2 analyst Ron Franklin correctly pointed out the Johnson should only be mad at himself for the poor play call, that Tech shouldn’t stuck to the option.
Take away the two interceptions and the fourth quarter sack and Tech might have been up as much as 19-6. There would have been no need for a last second miracle. As it was Tech played perhaps their best game of the season, particularly on defense. Had the D played this well against Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and even Notre Dame the Jackets could be closer to 7-1 than 3-5. The Jackets will have to play just as well the rest of the way to become bowl eligible, but there are no slouches: Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Miami, and rival Georgia. Perhaps Tech should wear all white again next week.      
I’m guessing FSU fans were more disappointed in their team’s performance than stung by the miracle defeat. Gone was the no turnovers all year streak. Gone was kicker Aguayo’s perfect fourth-quarter field goal performance. Gone was the undefeated season. Gone was the 28 game ACC winning streak. Knowledgeable ‘Noles knew from previous close games that this was an egg waiting to be hatched. Quarterback Golson showed why Notre Dame was willing to let him walk. If FSU hadn’t lost to Tech, surely Clemson would expose their number nine ranking as unjustified.
ACC loyalists would have you think having one undefeated team (Clemson) and one one-loss team (when FSU theoretically lost to Clemson) would give the conference a shot at two teams in the playoff. Hogwash. As strong as Clemson looks, FSU is light-years behind. Still, anything could happen in Death Valley on November 7.
Speaking of Clemson, the Tigers only get better and better. Miami showed themselves to be the thugs they are, and Dabo was swift to make sure his team did not stoop to the ‘Canes level. Keeping them on the field at halftime was genius. At least one Bulldog fan thought UGA should fire Richt and hire Dabo, but that ain’t happening. There’s only one school Dabo would jump to: Bama.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

One in a Million

Today we'll enjoy Tech's improbable last-second come from behind victory over undefeated #9 ranked Florida State. Check out replays at the links below:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Big Dig

Our day: having the kitchen floor dug up to fix a leaking water pipe. At least Tech pulled off a miracle.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Brave Questions

Not really too much Braves stuff to discuss those last few weeks of the season. Just wanted to get it over with. Good that football grabbed the casual fan's interest. I guess there won't be much movement until after the World Series, huh?

Does Fredi become more entrenched as the number of Spanish-speaking players increases? Perhaps your idea of signing Cespedes is valid. Cespedes will command big bucks but was he traded twice because of his contract or because of some negative reason?

What will it take to unseat Fredi as manager? I ask wondering if the Braves would make a move if the perfect candidate became available? Is there a perfect candidate? I'm not sure there is. Last year when Joe Maddon became available the Cubs quickly jumped on him. Seems like Maddon is not exactly Braves material.

I should have realized that UGA fans are even worse than Braves fans when it comes to unrealistic expectations. I'm learning to stay off social media on Saturdays. Tech can lose five straight games after winning the Orange Bowl and the fanbase hardly stirs.

Will has a SEC Network all access pass to use the rest of the season. He watched part of the Alabama game from the sidelines. His interview at the medical school in Augusta went well last Friday but it will still be a few weeks for he knows anything. Eight hundred apply, 150 are interviewed, but only 40 are accepted. In early November he has an interview with the medical school in Charleston.  

ROB: After the World Series, the baseball hot stove will heat up.  I don't know how it will happen, but I don't think Fredi will be the manager in 2017.  I still think Bud Black will be the next manager - if someone does not snap him up first this winter.

After I took off both last Thursday and Friday afternoon, co-worker Wanda was out sick Monday. Still I spend most of yesterday writing that 2100 recap. It has received over 220 page views, which is pretty good for me. I thought a football reunion might be more interesting than a regular reunion, and it was. Not sure why two guys stayed away, though I'm sure they might've had good reasons. My dad enjoyed going to the game with me. After I posted the recap I went back and took out a couple of things perhaps too personal that people might not have wanted me to share.

Super busy week here at work. Monday I wrote the 2100 word football reunion recap. Since then I've been buried in real work. Still digging out. Today should be quiet but I have to help with physical inventory today and tomorrow.

I've got an out-of-ordinary lunch streak going. Last Wednesday I ate at Waffle House. Thursday and Friday I took off early but are leftovers at work. Monday I brought hot dogs for lunch but we had sandwiches and salad at the sales meeting. Tuesday I ate leftover breakfast sandwiches from a meeting I didn't have to attend. Wednesday I ate lunch at home (leftover meatballs) before heading to work. Thursday Jonathan and I had lunch at Ruby Tuesday (salad bar) with vendor Burch. He must be close to 70 because he too is celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. Today they're bringing in Papa John's pizza for lunch.

The bad news: Our water bill doubled and a few months later doubled again. I had the water department check and there's a leak. On Wednesday I stayed home to meet the plumber, who determined the leak is inside the slab. Not good. Yesterday the leak detector determined the leak is in the kitchen near the refrigerator. Ceil has more people coming out today.

Tuesday Ceil cooked two kinds of soup, and we still have those leftovers. Picked up M last night in Midway, so I didn't get home until 9 pm. M drove all the way. Service at the Midway Wendy's was terrible. Long line at the drive thru and a long wait inside. Ceil was watching Project Runway. They're down to the final three. 

Anna is enjoying school – hopefully not too much. Matthew may cut his very long hair.

Having read the SI article on Chris Bosh, seeing him in the blood thinner commercial with Arnold Palmer and Kevin Nealon is no surprise.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Man of Many Moves

While working for one company I have worked at over 13 different desks:

1. TMP receiving office
2. TMP inside sales desk
3. Blue building mezzanine
4. TMP plant quality office
5. TMP scheduling
6. Washington Metals office in Lawrenceville
7. Norcross Fab Department
8. North Berkeley office front
9. North Berkeley office back
10. 01 Sales office by window
11. 01 Sales office in middle
12. Program Sales office by window
13. 01 Sales office in back

I’ve worked for at least a month in TMP receiving, TMP office, the Blue Building, TMP plant, TMP scheduling, Lawrenceville, Norcross Fabrication, North Berkeley, Greensboro, Little Rock, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Tulsa, Dallas, Orlando, Houston, 01 Sales, and Program Sales - 18 different places in my 28 years with the company.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Visit Idaho

A car dealership east of Spokane is giving away a Camaro convertible. The catch: you have to pick it up in person. Those buying cars from them get more entries. Still it would be a fun adventure to win, fly out, pick it up, and drive home. Three possible routes: one through Denver/KC/St. Louis, a shorter route bypassing Denver, and a northern route through Minneapolis/Milwaukee/Chicago. A man can dream, can’t he?
1. Spokane Washington
2. Idaho
3. Butte/Billings Montana
4. Wyoming
5. Rapid City/Mt Rushmore South Dakota
6. Nebraska
7. Denver Colorado (Rockies)
8. Kansas City Kansas (Royals)
9. St. Louis Missouri (Cardinals)
10. Illinois
11. Evansville Indiana (MiLB)
12. Bowling Green Kentucky (MiLB)
13. Nashville Tennessee (Sounds)
14. Atlanta Georgia (Braves)
1. Spokane Washington
2. Idaho
3. Butte/Billings Montana
4. Wyoming
5. Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore South Dakota
6. Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota (Twins)
7. Green Bay/Milwaukee Wisconsin (Brewers)
8. Chicago Illinois (Cubs & White Sox)
9. Indianapolis Indiana (MiLB)
10. Cincinnati Ohio (Reds)
11. Lexington Kentucky
12. Knoxville Tennessee (Smokies)
13. Atlanta Georgia (Braves)
Fastest: WA, ID, MT, WY, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, TN, GA
If needed I could make the drive in three days:
Spokane to Mt. Rushmore 12 hours.
Mt. Rushmore to Kansas City 10 hours
Kansas City to Marietta 12 hours.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Unconditional Love

Considering how UGA blew out SC and Mizzou barely beat SC, it is obvious UGA has regressed – or at least QB Lambert has. Chubb was missed, but Michel took up the slack. Not sure why #22 received more playing time than Keith Marshall. The story has gone viral about Richt hugging kicker Marshall Morgan before the game deciding field goal, telling the youngster he loved him whether or not he made the kick. Shut up many of the fans whose love of the team is totally conditional on whether they win (and win big).

In his postgame interview Richt shared what he told Marshall Morgan before the kick. Richt and Dabo are good about saying what they want to say in those short pregame / postgame interviews instead of being drawn into the storyline questions being asked by the sideline reporters. Former kicker Rex Robinson shared the photo and took UGA fans to task for their conditional love of the team.

Tech’s offense is getting better but their defense is getting worse. Like every other team Pitt was able to gain 4 or 5 yards on just about every play – both passing and running. No way they’ll beat FSU. Bye bye bowl streak.

Clemson did good to put away Boston College. It helped that it was the first collegiate start for BC’s freshman QB. Tiger QB Deshaun Watson threw for 420 yards but threw two interceptions and missed on several other passes. Next week on the road in Miami will be much rougher. But should Clemson run the table and finish the regular season undefeated Watson could be a Heisman finalist.

The amazing play that ended the Michigan State/Michigan game was remarkably similar to the two botched Georgia Tech punts against Duke and Clemson. Coaches should practice what specialists what to do in that situation. LSU practices the fake field goal every day, and it proved to be the difference in the game Saturday. These last two weeks LSU RB Leonard Fournette has gained 135 and 180 yards – and fallen even further behind Hershel Walker’s collegiate pace each week. Fournette needs to average 260 yards per game just to keep up with Herschel’s pace.

Not only was Steve Spurrier the guest picker on ESPN College GameDay, at least two of his Nissan Heisman House commercials began to air this weekend. But those were obviously filmed earlier this summer.

Sunday afternoon I had the TV tuned to the NFL Red Zone Channel. I’m liking that channel more and more. Before they sign off at the end of the afternoon games they run a clip of every touchdown scored all afternoon. I thought the overturned call was correct: the Lion caught the pass, then took three steps in the end zone before the defender knocked the ball loose. If you have most of the other sports channels (NFL Network, SEC Network, ESPNU, MLB Network, ESPN Classic, etc.) then you probably have Red Zone. It may only be on Sunday afternoons. I find it by searching for channel 733 (which spells RED) or 635733 (which spells out NFLRED).

Thought: poor Calvin Johnson toils away year after year for the mediocre Lions, yet has the tools superior to even the great Jerry Rice – who racked up huge numbers playing for the 49ers dynasty. IS Calvin the wide receiver version of Herschel Walker?

This football season isn’t turning out too good, is it? At least my high school beat their rival 41-0. I saw where Georgia State won. I bought a Grady High football shirt but it is one of those tight stretchy ones. Maybe the Hawks can have another good year.

Thursday afternoon I headed over to Alpharetta to pick up Matthew. On the way home I shopped for a phone case but wound up using a gift card to buy one on Amazon. M bought part of his Halloween costume and some jeans. I got some Ecco golf shoes, jeans, and a Tech golf shirt. Took a nap Thursday afternoon before heading to my focus group. Ceil and Dawn went to some sort of fundraiser on West Conway to see Dawn’s other Atlanta friend.  

Left Duluth at 1:30 Friday and still got stuck in bad traffic. 285 had 6 miles of backup so I took North Druid Hills to 85 so I could get stuck downtown instead. Then it was worse south of the airport in Morrow and McDonough. My mom had fixed a delicious dinner, then I drove my dad over to the stadium for the 40th reunion of my state championship football team. Great seeing the old guys. Some looked great, and others not so much. Afterwards I met up with many of them above the Rookery, and downtown restaurant/pub.

Saturday morning I trimmed hedges than drove back. Bad wreck at the airport had virtually shut down traffic. Listened to the first half of the Tech game on the radio and watched the second half. Washed clothes and cleaned downstairs. M went to Six Flags. Ceil got home about the time GA/MO and Clemson/BC started. After those games I packaged three eBay packages and mailed them off.

Slept through Sunday School. Did lots of needed cleaning upstairs. Got out the winter clothes, which took most of the afternoon. C drove M to church and later I picked him up.

These days I am hating traffic and cleaning more than ever. There’s a bunch to clean before the wedding. I drive slower than I used to – 60 MPH on the interstate instead of 70-75. I stay in the slow lane.

I need to watch that What to Expect movie. I just haven’t been in a movie watching mood for the longest time.

I eat Taco Bell and it’s ok. Taco Bell is better than most other fast food places. Wendy’s too. Hardees is ok but so bad for you. Del Taco is far worse than Taco Bell – they don’t warm up their burrito shells, they just wrap the ingredients and it flops apart. Last Friday you could get a free sausage biscuit at McDonalds if you wear your pajamas.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Celebrating 40 Years

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Central’s 1975 state championship, members of the team gathered and were honored during halftime of Friday night’s Central / Southwest game at Henderson Stadium. My dad and I arrived early, not realizing the tailgating party was across the street.
At the gate we ran into Southwest’s offensive line coach David Cape, pulling double duty as reunion organizer. Like me, as the evening progressed you could tell how much our long-snapper Cape (#51) enjoyed having the team come together – though it was killing him to be on the opposing sideline. Later I remembered how in high school Cape went to the professional wrestling matches at what was then known as the Macon Coliseum. Afterward in the parking lot the affable Cape found himself on the other side of a car from Andre the Giant. When I brought up the tale after the game Cape finished the story: “I stuck out my hand and called ‘Hey Andre!’ The giant stuck out his huge hand, smiled, and happily grunted ‘UGH!’” Cape quickly withdrew his hand.
Outside linebacker Roger Jackson (#41) organized the tailgate and secured orange Central jerseys for the players to wear: a wonderful touch. Roger is kind and has done a great work in Macon, leading and developing young people.
During the first half the team hovered around the special roped off section in the stands, chatting up long lost friends. The half seemed to take forever, but finally we moved as a group down to the corner of the end zone. There we had more time to talk and snap pictures. When we walked out on the field we were supposed to spread out one player on every five yard stripe, but that message wasn’t quite communicated thoroughly – not that it mattered. Cape had provided the stadium announcer with copious notes about the season and team. The speaker was hard to hear, but he had a lot to say. The large crowd on the Central side cheered loudly as each player was introduced. Before the game I didn’t know how much attention the stadium would give to a team from 40 long years ago, but they were most appreciative.
Another nice touch: Central coach Jesse Hicks had his player’s take a knee and watch the ceremony: perhaps a good object lesson for his players. As a former player this show of respect was heartwarming. As the ceremony ended Roger walked over to shake hands with the team, and several more of us were quick to join him encouraging the young Chargers. As the Sugar Bear and Southwest bands performed we took our time leaving the field – talking and snapping pictures all the way. Nice of WMAZ Channel 13 to capture some of the highlights. In the video I can be seen taking pictures.         
Mike Jolly (#11) was deservedly the center of attention and life of the party. The story was retold of how Jolly was knocked out of the first two games of the season by teammate David Belote, the junior defensive end who always went full speed. Coach McWilliams still had some choice words for Belote, who wisely stayed away from the reunion. Jolly freely shared several stories: of Bear Bryant wanting to make a cornerback out of him, of Pepper Rodgers calling him into his office, of creatively calling signals by interchanging colors like orange and turquoise with the all too ordinary blue. Mike gave a fiery pregame speech to the current Chargers, speaking of Central’s great tradition and how orange was a color boys were honored to wear (now the Chargers wear all blue with just a little orange trim). Hours later the QB took time to speak to Tim Kurtz’s boys, sharing how if he had it to do over he would’ve concentrated more on his studies. Jolly married his Southwest High bride 28 years ago, and they now make their home around the corner from my office.    
Larger than life (figuratively and literally), fullback Randy Rutherford (#33) is still smiling and gregarious. It was natural to see him hanging with tailback Ray Patterson (#31). Both were tough, fierce competitors who appreciated my mention of our transcendent 9th grade team’s 96-0 victory in Milledgeville. They correctly added that our grade won championships all five years we were together: city championships in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, the state championship our 11th grade year, and the sub-region title as seniors (above L-R: Cape, Randy, and Ray).   
Phil Clark (#22) arrived early, looking dapper. Someone remembered Phil’s game-winning 95 yard fumble return touchdown late in the 1976 Southwest game, played on this very field. With no score Southwest was threatening to put the game away when the speedy Clark scooped up a fumble and went the distance. Southwest scored but failed to convert the PAT, making my extra point the difference - we won 7-6.  
Of all my former teammates I was most looking forward to reuniting with Johnny Dennis and Tim Kurtz. Offensive lineman Dennis (#60) still has his sweet countenance, belying his job with the Department of Corrections. Johnny and I lifted weights together three days a week for two years. I sent Johnny the picture we had taken together, and he requested I send him the one of us with Roger. Later I went through my pictures and deleted several blurry photos before realizing I hadn’t sent one to Johnny. Oops.
After high school wideout Tim “Quasar” Kurtz built his experience as editor of The Charger Pride into a writing/editing career. At the game his delightful children hovered nearby, his youngest wearing Tim’s actual 1975 Central jersey. It was great catching up with Tim. We reminisced about our days stretching the boundaries of high school journalism, as well as our plot to put on an Al Green concert – then trot out our diminutive receiver with the same name. Hopefully I didn’t ruin our renewed friendship by posting his picture on social media.
Backup quarterback Tom Whatley (#14 above with Tim) hadn’t changed. He graduated from UGA and Emory Law School, and now practices in downtown Savannah, where he loves to live. Met his wife as a freshman in college. Their kids are grown. On fall weekends Tom tailgates with Tim in Athens.
Unlike brother Tim and me, offensive tackle Ricky “Sonar” Kurtz (#66 above) has slimmed down over the years (these are Tim’s words). His cowboy hat and red beard made Rick look like a young Willie Nelson. Now known as Rick, he still has the same mischievous eyes I remembered. The memory of older brother Danny “Radar” Kurtz was quite present: his widow, children, and mother were there to accept Danny’s state championship ring. It was heartwarming to learn that so many former teammates attended his recent funeral, including Cape, Crawford, Whatley, and others.
Wide receiver extraordinaire Stan Putnal (#42) was represented by his lovely wife and family, sister Zeta, and brother Rex (above). It was great having them all there. Jolly and Randy had visited Stan before he passed away. Coming off the field after halftime Stan’s wife Kay was commenting about how wonderful all this was. As I shared a few Stan stories her two beautiful college-age daughters figured out I was the one who had written a memorial to Stan. Their 27 year-old son Kane is the spitting image of his father. Kane wore his father’s jersey. Some not in the know actually thought Kane was Stan. My Facebook friend Zeta was a sophomore when I was a senior, and we were able to say hello at the after-party. Rex, the former Lanier and UGA standout, is now retired and living in Florida. Spending time with the Putnal family was one of the highlights of my evening.
Wingback Clement Troutman (#25) looked great, rocking a cap from The Lion King I was sure my daughter-in-law would appreciate. Now Troutman lives north of Washington. He made a point to have meaningful conversations with most of his teammates, including me.  
Tailback Curtis Wiley (#24) looked good, and still had all his same mannerisms. Offensive tackle Veotis Williams (#78) looked good, and was all smiles. Tough linebacker Gerald Payton (#68) arrived late but received a warm welcome. He seemed shorter than I remembered. Gerald and I rode the same school bus. Late flanker Hodges “Mooney” Glover (#20) was represented by his sister, a 1978 Central graduate.

Unfairly hiding behind stylish black eyeglass frames, tight end Jesse Anthony (#88) asked if I remembered who he was. While several teammates were hard to recognize (including me), I immediately pointed at Jessie and declared: “Number 88 – Jesse Anthony!” During the second quarter I was able to sit with Jesse, his lovely wife, and inquisitive son and catch up. As an underclassman Jesse had met with school counselor Mr. McElroy, who had encouraged him to get his grades up so he could get into college. He wound up playing football at Knoxville College. I remembered from a past Class of 1977 reunion that he had a tryout with the Washington Redskins. Later he coached at Northeast. Nowadays he looks great.
I am thankful to center Ken Herndon (#50) for sharing details with me about the reunion. Ken still lives in Macon and sees a few teammates around town from time to time. He still has that same great smile. Ken told me that a few years ago Bobby Pope had published the ten greatest football games he’s seen in the Macon Telegraph. On the list was the 1975 team’s signature win over Northside. Later Pope told Ken the Central game could’ve been higher than he ranked it .
Coach Roy McWilliams looked great. That's him showing off his ring with Tim. As hard as McWilliams was on us players, it is easy to see and feel the love he has for us – and us for him. His mind and wit were as sharp as ever. Cape told me that as a coach he was fortunate to have McWilliams as a sounding board. Roy’s son looked like he may have played a little football. Coaches Mike Rozier and Tony Thrift also attended and looked good.
Mean old defensive lineman Glen Neal (#71) looked good under his white Yankees cap. Receiver Al Green (#87) hasn’t changed. Speedy running back Rob Gary (#44) still looked like he could play. Tough as nails linebacker Michael Washington looked the same, with the seemingly permanent beard he had in high school still in place. Perhaps I shouldn’t have told his family just how mean he was. I remembered Rufus Brudage from junior high. He’s still got his magic smile. I heard Rufus was the grill master at the tailgate. Basketball player Johnny Oliver was a familiar face to many.
In the second half Waymond McKissick approached and asked my name. I’m usually terrible figuring out who people are after all these years, but McKissick’s face quickly rang a bell. He was a member of the 8th and 9th grade teams. I hadn’t seen Keith Berkner since high school, but his bright eyes hadn’t changed. We were able to have a nice chat.
Before the game a familiar looking couple climbed into the stands behind us. Former Sugar Bear Band baton twirler Lisa Ransom (now Reynolds) later came down to say hello. She was wearing husband Curt’s vintage Lanier letterjacket – easily the best-looking article of clothing in the stadium. Later I got to talk to Curt as well. I may have moved away to college, but I remember Curt and Lisa as newlyweds at Northside Christian church. She asked me to say hello to my younger brother Franklyn. Speaking of the Sugar Bear Band, they provided a strong performance at halftime, albeit a slightly different genre than the 1914 Colonel Bogey March days of beloved director Bob Barnette. I was just happy to hear they still are named the Sugar Bears.
Offensive tackle Earl Chester (#73) couldn’t make it – he was on his way to see his son play for Middle Tennessee State. Wayne “Bug” Bowdry (#43) lives in Kentucky. Offensive tackle Paul Connor (#52) was a last minute dropout. Guard Jeff Stewart (#63) was also missed.
After Central’s 41-0 win many gathered at the Dovetail Restaurant, upstairs from the Rookery in bustling downtown Macon. Punter Johnny Crawford (#10) brought his wife to the after-party. Johnny got to know my dad when they were both in the grocery distribution industry. When defensive tackle Ulysses “Scream Machine” Hawthorne (#77) called in, several teammates remembered the high-pitched way we called his name. We all posed for more pictures and continued our swell time.
I’m trying to piece together a recap of the 1975 season, but details are hard to come by. Be warned.