Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clausen punched in the face by "irate fan"

No joke. From ESPN:
Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen was punched in the face by an irate fan outside a South Bend restaurant early Sunday morning and has a swollen eye, a person briefed on the incident said on Monday.

That person said Clausen was "sucker-punched" by a fan as he left an establishment after having dinner with his parents.

The fan allegedly said something to Clausen and/or a female acquaintance.

Odd choice of target, since Jimmy Clausen is one of about three people associated with Fighting Irish football who has played as good as he was supposed to.

The bar in question was CJ's, by way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

South Bend to Chicago in 1 hour, by train

This would be huge. The ability to commute from Chicago would practically cause a sea change in faculty recruiting for Notre Dame.

classy, Les

Les Miles is head coach at LSU, a highly successful program with a recent national championship under its belt and the January scalp of the last good Fighting Irish squad. It was in a squeaker against upstart division rival Ole Miss on Saturday, and found itself down 2 points with only a couple seconds left on the clock. LSU could have tried to rush out the field goal team to win it, or alternatively they could snap the ball and take a shot at the end zone since they might not be able to switch out 11 dudes before the clock ran out (no time outs left).

Instead, the quarterback tried to spike the ball with 1 second left to stop the clock, but the clock beat him to the punch, and the game was over before LSU got to make their final play. Miles, incensed, gives a press conference calling out his QB in front of God and everybody for trying to clock the ball and criticizing what was unquestionably a poor decision.

Only problem is one TV network had a camera on the field facing Coach Miles at the critical moment, repeatedly giving his QB the signal to spike the ball:

Of course, Miles won't suffer any repercussions for this sort of thing as long as LSU keeps generally winning, which at 8-3 and facing unranked Arkansas at home next week, probably means Miles will be safe for quite some time.

The lesson here is the same as the lesson currently being taught in South Bend. Jack Swarbrick says that winning "also" matters along with graduation rates and other such tripe, but the truth is that winning is all that matters, whether at a lowly football/party school like LSU or the austere, Gothic heights of Notre Dame. Charlie can boast high grad rates and all the rest, as could Willingham, but they were (or will be) unceremoniously canned on the basis of one statistic alone, in the same way that Les Miles can display all the poor judgment and cowardice he wants and will still get paid millions by the state of Louisiana as long as the tigers keep smoking their opponents in January bowls.

And let's stop kidding ourselves: if ND's next coach lets his kids make terrible grades, has a bad attitude, recruits a bunch of drug dealers and rapists, and makes an ass of himself on television but the Irish beat USC on their way to the National Championship Game, his job will be as safe as Jenkins'. This and previous athletic directors have more than amply shown that the alumni and ticketholders make the final call, and they only care about the W's.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lubbock featured on Dr. Saturday

We've hit the big time. And a special mention for the O-Bar, One Guy's, and Cricket's. Fittingly, too, right after mentioning a bar with Guinness, Bass, Fat Tire, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Amstel, and some 70 other beers on tap, it is suggested (in all caps, no less) that the beer of choice should be ... Keystone.

And why not, really? Half the people in Cricket's are usually paying $4 for a pint of Coors Light, anyway.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

the Plus-one, or an alternative to the playoff

We've heard a bit of talk the last year or two about the possibility of moving to a "plus-one" system in college football (rather presumptuously referred to here as the "Mandel plan"). Under a plus-one system, the bowl system remains intact except for the BCS bowls themselves, two of which shift to a 4 team playoff with no. 1 and 2 hosting, an extra BCS bowl to keep 10 BCS bids (not sure why that matters), and a 6th BCS championship game a week later. Using Mandel's example for this year's teams:
• Jan. 1 Rose: No. 8 Oregon (Pac-10 champ) vs. No. 11 Penn Sate (replacement)

• Jan. 1 Sugar: No. 1 Florida (SEC champ) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (Big East champ)

• Jan. 2 Cotton: No. 5 Alabama (first at-large) vs. No. 6 TCU (third at-large)

• Jan. 4 Fiesta: No. 2 Texas (Big 12 champ) vs. No. 3 Iowa (Big Ten champ)

• Jan. 5 Orange: No. 10 Ga. Tech (ACC champ) vs. No. 12 USC (second at-large)

• Jan. 12 title game: Sugar Bowl winner vs. Fiesta Bowl winner

This has one advantage over the current system: it at least allows the top 4 teams a shot at the championship, rather than just the top 2. That makes it better than the current system.

Of course, this setup is still worthless compared to an actual playoff with more than four teams. For one thing, non-BCS teams still have virtually no chance at getting into the playoff, despite the obvious silliness of handicapping teams like Boise St. and Utah who have made quite a name for themselves humiliating top 10 teams. There's also still a high probability that national championship contenders even from BCS conferences will be snubbed. Last year, for instance, there were 7 undefeated or one-loss teams just in the BCS games, including Southern Cal, Penn St., Utah, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. How many of those do you think there will be at the end of this season?

Essentially, the plus-one still allows very little margin-of-error for an evaluative system (BCS rankings) that is highly, highly flawed and subjective.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

what Obama has done in the Oval Office

An interesting take.

various elections results

Republicans win both gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, but lose both congressional elections, including the much-publicized race for the NY-23 seat they've held since the Civil War. LGBT equality loses in Maine, but civil unions appear to have prevailed in Washington.

Or as the AP calls it, "a GOP sweep."

Let's establish that the people who tell you this is a rebuke of Barack Obama don't know what they're talking about. Thanks to Marc Ambinder for having the presence of mind to head off this nonsense. Suffice it to say, Obama's approval ratings in these states are very close to his election numbers from last year, and the voters themselves say it wasn't about him.

It's an off-year in a bad economy after 2 straight massive Dem waves, folks. These things happen. And still the Democratic party increases its congressional majority.

Bush vs. Clinton, "uncensored"

I'd bet you $100 it won't be nearly as cool as it sounds. Bill Clinton, despite his caricature in the media, has always used kid gloves on George W. Bush because that is what's expected of former presidents.

Besides, George W. Bush pretty much single-handedly resurrected Clinton's legacy!

Seriously though, you have to figure that you've held an office with so much power and responsibility, and one that fewer than 50 people have ever held (only 5 of whom are currently living), you know there's some mutual respect there, as silly as the thought is of a man like Clinton having respect for a man like Bush.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

torture is now officially legal

Remember Maher Arar, the Canadian returning home from vacation who was stopped in JFK, accused of being a terrorist, and shipped off to Syria to be tortured before the government admitted that he had nothing whatsoever to do with any terrorist organization?

Remember how he sued the United States when he got back?

The Second Court of Appeals just dismissed his case on the following grounds:
It [the court] held that even if the government violated Arar's Constitutional rights as well as statutes banning participation in torture, he still has no right to sue for what was done to him. Why? Because "providing a damages remedy against senior officials who implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its implementation in this particular case, matters that directly affect significant diplomatic and national security concerns " (p. 39).

In other words, the practice of shipping an individual -- any individual, visitor, immigrant, or citizen -- to another country to be tortured is de facto deemed legal because to even hold a trial on it could theoretically threaten national security.

A court in the United States has just officially sanctioned the use of torture.

Monday, November 02, 2009

ND in the BCS

No, this isn't a prediction that we'll get in.

I've talked with several people about Notre Dame's arrangement with the BCS, and about the possibility of ND being guaranteed a slot under certain circumstances (in particular, 10 wins).

This is incorrect. From The BCS's page at FOX Sports:
Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.

It takes #8, not 10 wins. Eight is extremely unlikely even at 10-2, considering the recent turn of events for both of ND's losses (USC suffered a 4 touchdown beatdown by Oregon, likely losing their first conference championship in 8 years, while Michigan has dropped 4 of the last 5, including a 38-13 drubbing at the hands of heretofore hapless Illinois).

Not that this conversation is necessarily even worth having anyway, as 10-2 is also extremely unlikely given Notre Dame's, ahem, uneven performance so far this season. Pittsburgh is the only ranked team left on the schedule, but the three final opponents are all dangerous if incomplete teams (and, of course, Navy, who's always a bigger pain in the ass than everyone expects, and this year's Midshipmen nearly put down Ohio State). In every case, it will depend entirely on which team "shows up."