Thursday, September 16, 2010

Playoff Is Bad For College Football: Part I

Every year in college football we hear the same argument from schools in smaller conferences. that argument is that college football needs a playoff to decide the national champion. They will tell you that a playoff is the only fair thing to do. But it's not a fair thing to do. It's not even close to being fair.

Last year Boise, Alabama, Texas, Cincinnatti, and TCU ended the regular season with perfect records. In the mind of small conference fans like those of Boise and TCU that is all that matters. But that's where they are dead wrong. This isn't the NFL. Not all wins are equal so not every season can be judged purley on based on wins and losses without looking at the competition. As much as Buster Bronco and Boise Nation would like you to believe that their season was equal to Alabama, I'm not ignorant enough to just take their word for it.

There is no denying the reality that Boise has gotten fat off of weak competition over the past decade. Wins over the UC-Davis' and Idaho's of the college football world have been much more frequent that wins over Oklahoma and Oregon. Every year they benefit from 5,6, and even 9 week stretches where they don't play a team of consequence. So if you want to make a playoff in the name of fairness, then doesn't it make sense that every team would have an equal shot to get to the playoff? But as long as the schedule of the WAC champion is much easier than that of any BCS team then the idea of a playoff isn't really in the name of fairness. In fact, all it does is give Boise an un fair advantage because they'll get a free ride to the playoffs every year while BCS teams slug it out for 13 weeks.

For example, the last 9 teams on Boise's schedule this year are New Mexico State, Toledo, San jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Fresno State, and Utah State. Now compare that to Texas A&M who ends the year with Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, and Nebraska. Now try to tell me that Boise and Texas A&M would have an equal shot to make the playoff.

Here is one more fun fact for all you giant killers. During the 2009 regular season there were 14 times when a team ranked in the top 15 lost. None of those losses came at the hands of Boise State.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why Sports?

I have an addiction that might be as harmful as drinking or doing drugs. It wouldn’t be considered that by many, but the time it wastes is huge. That time could be put toward more useful and productive activities, but I love sports! I am fascinated by them; almost all of them. I love watching them on television, in person, playing them, coaching them, critiquing them, announcing them, learning them, practicing them, competing. There is something pure about 11 men lining up against 11 others, playing a violent and tough game for pride and after it ends, each one shakes hands and walks away. There is something majestic about hitting an 85 mph curve ball or diving for a ball in the outfield. These things, to me, are beautiful in every sense of the word.
There is purity and majesty and beauty in sports. I’m not talking about the ooh and ah of spectacular moves or plays, though that certinally is a part of it. I am talking about the competition. In a world that gives you your destiny, or your success, based upon your last name or inheritance, the fairness and purity found on an athletic venue is paradise. Although countless men and women have been given titles, companies, money, and gift wrapped success in the business world because of what their dad before them accomplished, that is nowhere to be found in an at-bat. Sure, they might make the team, but a game winning hit was never handed to a person because of his last name.
Everyone has an opinion, but on the field, none of them count. The only thing that determines the outcomes are the head to head competitions. An analyst could have watched hours or even days of film on both teams, know the injury report, coaching schemes, game plans, home field advantage, and athletic ability of all of the players from both sides, but once the pitch is thrown no advantage is given, the point spread isn’t real, and the only thing that effects the ability of the player to hit the ball are the two men and their ability to operate within the natural laws of physics. That is purity.

Let Me Teach You Something Barack

As America suffers financially, a common question is running through the minds of its people; What do we do? Most of the answers or solutions I hear are based in theory. It seems as though you, Mr. President, and your advisors have settled upon the idea that a bail out is the best route to take for any problem. I don’t see it. I don’t see how our current government spending spree, our dive into debt, is going to strengthen our economy? I fail to see how doubling and tripling the national debt is the solution to increasing our wealth?
I take pride in this country, I take pride in success and so does the rest of America. I’m a door to door sales man. That is what I do for a living. Many people look down at my current profession but I think it’s great! Do you know why I think it is great Mr. Obama? I think it’s great because I helped our economy today. This morning when I woke up I didn’t have an income and so I got dressed and headed out to knock on doors to find one. Do you know what happened? I sold a home security system to a lady that hadn’t planned on buying it before she met me. Because I went out and sold that system, I created wealth in America. I created a job for a manufacturer that made the equipment. I created a job for myself. I created a job for a technician to install the system. I created a job for a lady in a call center that helped set the account up. I created a job for a secretary to organize the paperwork. I created a job for a company to monitor her home. You see, Mr. Obama, while you spend your time trying to share America’s wealth, I’m busy creating it. I am not unique. Today was not unique, it was real. Those jobs were not created on paper or in theory, they are real. So let me teach you something Barak, the next time you feel that your best solution is to redistribute wealth, think instead of a way to create it.

Our Rotting Tomatoes

The American economy is the best in the world. There are many reasons why historically Europe can’t touch it, why South America can only dream of our success and why Soviet Communism rose and fell during a time of our prosperity. The main reason, however, is the law of the harvest. Sure, we all know a jackass kid that will ride the coat-tails of his father’s name and bank account to success. It is a flaw in the system, but as annoying as that is, it isn’t a fatal one. For the most part in America you get what you earn. Because of that structure, there is very little waste in our system. In the Soviet Union it was not uncommon to see a truck sitting on the side of the road loaded with rotting tomatoes. It didn’t sit there because the truck was broken down. The truck was fine. It was the system that was broken. Those tomatoes were grown by, Farmer “A”. Farmer “A” was assigned to grow the tomatoes and sell them to store “1” and only store “1”. If store “1” didn’t want the tomatoes, Farmer “A” wasn’t allowed to sell those tomatoes to store “2”, “16” or any other store but the store that the government had assigned. It didn’t matter which store was closer or needed his type of tomatoes. The only thing that mattered was the government’s decision. If he did sell the tomatoes to anyone besides his assigned store he was either 1) sent to a Siberian labor camp, also known as a gulag, 2) his farm was confiscated without compensation, 3) both, or 4) he was found by his neighbors a week later, dead, outback with his family. You are probably fairly certain that no matter what our financial state is, Obama is not going to send his brute squad around to sentence you to some labor camp somewhere between Bismarck and Rexburg. I agree with you. But if you think that is the only consequences that sprung from that type of rule then listen to Rafiki and look harder. You are probably wondering what this system has to do with our current economy. I’ll get there. First, put yourself in the shoes of the farmer. The government has given you a customer. They have regulated the price you will receive for your tomatoes. They have guaranteed your business a provided a safety net when you fail. After all, everyone deserves a job. So what motivation do you have to grow good tomatoes? Their condition means nothing to your reputation, who will buy your tomatoes, or how much they will pay for them. Unfortunately for the state your human nature will eventually take over your love of country and as a result your product will suffer.
Now try to look through the store owners eyes. You have to stock your store with small, mushy tomatoes that were grown by a farmer that doesn’t give a damn. Go ahead and try to sell those tomatoes. You won’t be able to. So what do you do? Do you cut their price? If you do cut the government price it could be you in the Siberian gulag. Do you ditch farmer “A” and buy someone else’s tomatoes? If you do you will have your store taken from you. Do you become innovative in your marketing technique? Why would you? Your salary does not depend on your ability to sell tomatoes. You get paid by the government for having your doors open. So you do NOTHING except let those tomatoes sit on a shelf. Because your shelves are full of tomatoes, you tell farmer “A” you don’t need his shipment. He then parks his truck on the side of the road and lets the tomatoes rot. In some instances the tomatoes passed several stores needing those very vegetable on the way to their destination. So there is no innovation, no quality, no marketing. Just a lazy farmer, an ineffective store owner, and a truck full of rotting tomatoes.
So the lesson in all of this should be that if a government will bail out the man that fails, then production, inefficiency, and quality will fail also. Understand, this example is not a theory, it is not a story, or something you would find only in a history book. The scary thing is it’s not a concept that we don’t understand. Not only did we understand it, but we fought it. This reality is what we fought in the Cold War. Our desire to avoid this government influence is why we risked nuclear war. Think about that for a moment.
Fast forward with me from 1973 Russia to mid 90’s America. President Bill Clinton saw that the lower class was growing. That is not the kind of growth we want. He saw a cycle of poverty and he came up with a plan to end it. He wanted to help low income households make the jump from poverty to middle class. Typically, democrats are accused of attempting to redistribute the pie but on this occasion, much to his credit, I believe President Clinton was attempting to grow the pie. His idea was to give low income households the opportunity to become home owners. Renting just drained the lower class of its money. However, if they could become home owners, then instead of losing their monthly house payment, which they were making anyway in the form of rent, it would become equity. A sense of pride would develop within them like it does with most home owners. The maintenance on an owned home would increase over that of a rented one causing property value to increase which would also further the equity of the house. Wealth would begin to build. Maybe someday down the road, that waitress of 30 yrs would have 150K worth of equity and no house payment. Then just maybe that would lead to an inheritance for her kids and head start for a family line that never enjoyed anything like it. The idea was cutting edge, it was innovative, and it was made with the best of intentions. But just like the Soviet ideal to secure a job for everyone, the American ideal of making everyone a homeowner failed miserably.
Home loans were given that were a poor investment just like tomatoes were sold that had no business being on the market. Slowly but surely the loans, just like the tomatoes failed, but nobody cared. The farmer and the banks still got their money from the government and therefore produced more poor products. After all, every Soviet had the right to a job without accountability just like every American had a right to a home despite their qualifications.
So here we are in 2009. Our housing market has crashed. Instead of growing the pie, we have made it all but disappear. In the last year as I have walked through neighborhoods from Atlanta to Boston, from Miami to Salt Lake, from Rexburg to Houston I can’t help but think that each foreclosed house looks an awful lot like a truck full of rotting tomatoes.

Raise Your Hand

By the time you get done reading the first few paragraphs you will probably label me as somebody or something I’m not so let me start by saying that I feel illegal immigration is hurting our country. Hopefully that will lead you to read the whole article.
I want you to raise your hand if you think this is true: We need to build a wall on our border to stop illegal immigration.
If you think that is true and you aren’t raising your hand, why aren’t you? I know why. It’s because you might be embarrassed if someone saw you. You might feel uncomfortable raising your hand just sitting in front of a computer. It would go against the social norm and to top it off, you don’t think that raising your hand is gonna make a dang bit of difference. You’re the type of person that knows there is a problem with this country but are too busy or overwhelmed to take it on. Even worse, you are probably waiting for someone else to do it. Thank heaven Rosa Parks didn’t think like you. Let me tell you something, people like you are more detrimental to our society than Juan and Maria Gonzalez crossing the border looking for work. You’re the reason the radical minority is taking control of our country. Your silent voice does more damage than the loudest opposition. So until you are ready to feel uncomfortable in a room full of people in order to stand for what is right, until you are ready to be a voice, no matter how small, then don’t complain about where we’re headed.
So let me say this again. Raise your hand if you think this is true: We need to build a wall on our border to stop illegal immigration. If you are raising your hand thank you. Don’t let it stop there. Write your political leaders. Do something besides just shaking your head. Unfortunately, if you are raising your hand then you belong in Washington. That’s basically a polite way for me to call you an idiot. It’s not your fault you are an idiot. You have probably formed this opinion because you have listened to our politicians spit off numbers regarding the harm of illegal aliens. To be honest it’s probably the best option of the ones we have been presented, so I’ll try not to be too hard on you.
What I don’t understand is why the solution to all of our problems is to spend money? Some reports have this wall costing upwards of 2 billion dollars. But in America, where our fiscal national debt averages 500 billion dollars annually over the last 8 yrs, what’s an extra 2 billion right? Don’t even get me started on that attitude.
Before we get busy solving the problem I think it would be helpful to determine what it is about illegal immigration that we oppose. For the majority of us, it isn’t the color of their skin; it isn’t their nationality, or their name. Those things are not important to America. Every one of us has a friend, a co-worker, someone at church, or a neighbor of Mexican descent that at the very least we respect. In all actuality we probably like them. Our situation is not like the one between Israel and Palestine. Mexicans and Americans can co-exist. We are not mortal enemies.
The language issue is a little annoying. Good luck finding a sign written in English when you drive through down town Phoenix. But if you have ever traveled abroad you probably realize that in almost every hotel, restaurant, and airport in every major city in the world you will find signs and menus in our beloved English. The French have been telling us since we bailed their butts out in WWII that if we wanted to go to Paris we needed to speak French. We’ve reacted by rolling our eyes and speaking English. The world is globalizing, it’s shrinking. Get used to it. Learn Spanish, it could bring down some barriers and help you make some friends. That is my suggestion
I know some of us are worried about losing our national identity. It’s a valid point. But as long as I’m alive, Saturday in America will normally feature at least 1 flag football game. As long as I’m alive at least one of us will order apple pie. Live your life, keep what you love, and be open to what our southern neighbors can add. Who doesn’t love homemade tortillas?
Financially, it is killing us. Maybe killing us is the wrong word but it is hurting us. This is where I get fired up about the subject. The shortage they are creating is a shortage of money. They are draining our tax dollars in our schools, our prisons, and especially at our hospitals. But it’s not like they are taking anything that we can’t regulate. It’s not like they are stealing our rain water and unless they leave we will die of thirst. They aren’t stealing our oxygen causing a national asphyxiation. We enroll them in our schools, we give them the health care, and we give them social security. If you are not fine with that then say so. Say that you aren’t going to foot the bill to educate illegal alien’s children. Stand up and say that you are tired of wondering how you are going to buy groceries because you can’t pay for a surgery being performed on a man that has no business being here. If it really is a problem, then why are we footing the bill? Our government is writing the checks and then complaining when they get cashed.
It is our fault. If we would just stop enrolling them in our schools, if we would stop giving them the health care we can’t afford to give them. If we would stop hiring them for jobs that could be filled by Americans then they would stay in Mexico. If they did come up, it wouldn’t matter, because it wouldn’t cost us a dime.
So don’t build a wall, it would cost too much money. Don’t deport them; make them find their own way home. They walked the desert to get here let them walk it back. Pull the rug out from under them. Don’t intentionally cause them harm, but don’t help them overcome the consequences of living here illegally. Strand them on an island of isolation and do not throw them a rope. Make it almost impossible for them to tolerate living here illegally. Make them long for the days of their Mexican village. If we want to stop what is hurting us, then we need to stop writing the checks for them to cash even if it leads to their temporary discomfort and suffering. We need to do it immediately.

Fur to Flannel

When exactly did it happen? Where along the last 4 generations did we go from Hooverville to sub-prime lending? When did our American right transform from the pursuit of happiness to a 60” plasma screen? Somewhere along the line we went from Al Bourlin to Tim Taylor, from substance to flash. I don’t know exactly where it was, and in reality it doesn’t matter when it happened. The only thing that matters now is that it did, and we need to get back to what made us great. It’s time to turn our fur in for some flannel. It’s time to return to the roots that made this country strong. But how?
I realize that very few people in my generation even realize what our roots are and I am not exempt from that categorization. It is difficult for us to grasp the consequences of laziness or to appreciate the danger of evil. Our laziness does not give us hunger like it would have done to my grandfather. Our ignorance to evil does not threaten our safety like it would have in previous generations. Our prosperity has made us fat in many ways. The plow has been replaced by the key board. The strong backs of the early 20th century have been replaced by carpal tunnel of the 21st. It’s not completely a bad thing. Quite frankly, most labor has been replaced by technology and that has increased our ability to produce goods and services. However, we start to suffer as a nation when we lose the value of hard work and I believe, to a large degree we have.
When our Country returned from WWII we had grown in many ways. On one end of the spectrum the war made us rich. On the other end of the spectrum we saw the worst of humanity. We experienced the darkest fog of Europe and we grew from that. We saw unspeakable things and realized that life was too short not to fully enjoy what America had to offer. So we came home and we bought cars, houses, microwaves and T.V.’s. But at that time, those things were not a right in the mind of the American that purchased them. They were a product of the hard work they had performed. Each Rosie Riveter and every Sailor recently returned from the Philippines understood the value of those possessions in every sense of that word. My generation doesn’t get it and it is hurting us. We have seen the fruits without seeing the labor and therefore have come to the conclusion that every piece of ground is deserving of ample fruit regardless of the gardeners effort. There is only one way for us to change that way of thinking and it is to be faced with a time in which even our best efforts fall short. It will be uncomfortable, it will hurt, it will even break a few of us but in a strange way what we need is a depression. What we need is the refiner’s fire. It is the only way we will understand how sacred our blessings are. The history books touch our hearts but only until the bell rings. The stories of difficult times in previous generations make us role our eyes and think that the ones telling them don’t understand, when in reality, it is us who are mistaken.
The irony of the whole situation is the blame can reasonably be placed upon the Baby Boomers. They have given us the misunderstanding by not being able to portray these realities to us but will also give us the medicine by ushering in these difficult financial times I suggest we need.
So I say bring on the depression. When the difficult times come be thankful for them because not only are they are what thrust our country into its prime, but the absence of them are leading to our deterioration.