Friday, August 31, 2012

Lazy Eye

Today's Retro Friday post is going to take a slight detour into the here-and-now, but will return with it's regularly scheduled Retro Friday awesomeness next week!

Today's featured song is "Lazy Eye," by Silverspun Pickups.

Silversun Pickups @ Coachella 2009. Photo: Jandy Stone
I have recently discovered the Silverspun Pickups, and I absolutely love this band. The Silversun Pickups is an alternative rock band from Los Angeles that was formed in 2002. The band members are Brian Aubert, Nikki Monninger, Christopher Guanlao and Joe Lester. The name, Silverspun Pickups, is derived from a liquor store across from Silverlake Lounge. In interviews, the band often says their name is more of "a state of mind"

"Lazy Eye" is the third single from their debut album Carnavas. The band has had some national exposure so far, performing the song on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Later With Jools Holland, and Last Call with Carson Daly. And for all of you Guitar Hero folks ... the song is a playable track on Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about this song that grabs me so much, but I really, really like this song. I'm not sure if it's the sound that I like so much, or the lyrics, but this song just pretty much fits me perfectly right now. I am also quite enamored by the video.

Silversun Pickups, Sasquatch Music Festival. Credit: Steven Dewall/Redferns
The music video is described to be a take on the 1970 Swedish film 'A Swedish Love Story'. The video is set in a club, possibly in the 1970s or 1980s (judging by the hairstyles and clothing), and is brimming with teenagers dancing to the song as the band plays it live on stage. The video alternates between the band playing, and a young girl with short hair.

The story that is told in the video is of the girl as she notices that a particular boy shows up. At first she  ignores him and dances with another guy, notably when the song takes an angrier tone. The boy then sits down for a while, looking very depressed, and then goes outside to talk with friends. The girl eventually leaves the club, and sees him outside waiting, just like she waited for him. This reveals to her that he really does care about her, and they leave together, happy.

Maybe this song does connect with Retro Friday after all. Maybe the reason I like this song so much is that it reminds me of my high school days ... and the band is from Los Angeles. Connections all around.

Anyways, here is "Lazy Eye" for your listening pleasure! I hope you like it!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Violating Team Rules

My dear friend, and former Notre Dame football player, Oscar McBride has written this fantastic post on Violating Team Rules that I felt just needed to be shared. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and please, leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Photo: John Bazemore / AP

After careful consideration I've decided to take a closer look at the epidemic that is sweeping the country. More and more student-athletes are being suspended for "violating team rules," so I thought we would put the situation under a microscope to see what's really going on.

Yes, it's official that the Honey Badger will not be at LSU this fall for "violating team rules." Cierre Wood will not be starting in the backfield for the Irish for the first couple of weeks of the season due to "violating team rules." Kansas suspended its long snapper Justin Carnes for "violating team rules." Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers was suspended for "violating team rules then transferred. Auburn suspended wide receiver DeAngelo Benton for "violating team rules," and now three wide receivers from East Carolina were just suspended for, yup - you guessed it ... "violating team rules."

What the HELL is going on here?!?!?!?

This really pisses me off, simply because the schools are so concerned with their precious little images and the endowments coming in from alumni that they're in denial about the truth.

Wake up people, we have a problem! A problem that's been around since Moby Dick was a minnow!

First let's cut the crap and put it out there that "violating team rules" is code for he tested positive for or got caught smoking marijuana, weed, chronic, pot, Mary- Jane, blunts, skimbibbidy, wacky tobacky, Maui Wowee, sticky-icky or whatever you want to call it.

Has anyone bothered to wonder why all of the sudden these kids are getting suspended in droves?? C'mon – you can't be that naive.

Here's a question that maybe someone can answer for me: "Why is it that division 1A colleges and universities have huge budgets in their athletic departments, but not one penny is obviously being spent on substance abuse treatment and/or prevention?"

Someone? Anyone?

In my humble opinion these young people need help, not suspension. Wait, before anyone comes unglued – I'm not suggesting that they shouldn't be disciplined for their actions, but what I am suggesting is that these young people need guidance and help. I know it might be news to some programs out there, but there's more to life than just athletics. Agree with me or not, these programs are aware of the problems these athletes have.

Is it really a big secret? "SSSHHHHHH … don't tell coach we smoke weed!" Really? What? Is everyone becoming Jim Tressel and "unaware" of what is happening in the program? Whatever. You mean to tell me that no one can help? Wait, no one cares to help?

From this poor man's perspective these institutions of higher education need to live up to what they promise these athletes and their parents when recruiting them – "take care of them." Taking care of them doesn't mean giving them money or a car or some lavish place to live.

Helping them means living up to your end of the bargain as much as they're supposed to on Saturday afternoon! Help them become better people. Help them with their issues. Help them with their studies. Help them, PERIOD!

Violating team rules … psssh …what a joke!

If you enjoyed these words of wisdom from Oscar McBride, please check out his web site for more information on how you can follow Oscar! You can also catch his blog, "Ask Oscar."


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Notre Dame Football Predictions

The captains have been chosen, the game plan has been set, and the Fighting Irish will take the field in just three short days. What does the 2012 football season have in store for the Notre Dame faithful? Here are my thoughts and predictions. (And yes, I am probably going to take some heat for this!)

Here Come the Irish ...

The season has not even begun, and we have four suspended players. What exactly is going on with this team? There seems to be a definite lack of leadership in the locker room, and it is time for someone to step up, and teach by example. When a senior running back is suspended for breaking the rules, you have to wonder what in the world is happening.

Even with four players sitting out, there is plenty of talent on this Irish squad to start the season on a winning note. That being said, I think it is time for Coach Kelly to end the quarterback merry-go-round, select a starter, and stick with him for the duration of the season. Nothing can replace time and experience when you are developing a quarterback. This in one week, out the next routine has got to stop if this team is going to be successful moving forward. Leadership in the quarterback position must be put in place and cultivated.

Yesterday, Coach Brian Kelly named his four captains, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin on offense, Kapron Lewis-Moore on defense as well as Manti Te’o. Hopefully these four men can bring some order into the house, which seems a little chaotic right now, and return the focus to the Irish. It’s time to remove all outside distractions and focus on the task at hand.

Okay, so here they are, my 2012 Notre Dame football predictions. I know that many people will feel that, if this is truly how the season ends, that it will be a step back for the program. But have you looked at this schedule lately? Even Jack Swarbrick himself said that the AD should be fired for lining up this schedule. And so here it is, without further ado.

September 1, Notre Dame vs. Navy - Win

September 8, Notre Dame vs. Purdue - Win

September 15, Notre Dame vs Michigan State – Loss

September 22, Notre Dame vs. Michigan – Loss

October 6, Notre Dame vs. Miami – Win

October 13, Notre Dame vs. Stanford - Loss

October 20, Notre Dame vs. BYU - Win

October 27, Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma – Loss

November 3, Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh – Win

November 11, Notre Dame vs. Boston College - Win

November 17, Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest - Win

November 24, Notre Dame at USC - Loss

Who knows, maybe I need to start drinking more of the kool-aid, but that’s how I see it as of today.

Now bring on the Midshipmen, and lets get this season started!

Cheers! & GO Irish!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Concussion Crisis ... a year later

Last year for my annual Football Week, I wrote a story on the concussion crisis in sports. Not just in football, but in hockey as well.

Here we are, a year later, and I'd like to revisit the subject a bit, and take a look to see if things have really changed at all.

This all came to my mind a few weeks ago when I was listening to Mike and Mike on the radio. Greenie was talking about the safety of the players in the NFL, and what the league is doing to make things better.

They were talking about the kinetics of football. If you take two ordinary people, put them 30 yards apart, and have them run at each other as fast as they can, there is a certain amount of power in said collision.

If you take Big Ben and, say, DeMarcus Ware, and put them 30 yards apart, there is a much greater amount of power in said collision ... than there was with the two ordinary people.

They made mention that, although the players have gotten bigger, the field has not gotten any bigger. Personally, I think they've got it all wrong. If I am driving down a freeway in Los Angeles, having more room to speed down the freeway does not lesson my risks of having a collision. Having less room lessons my risk of having a collision, simply because I cannot go as fast. If I have less room to speed ... the power of the collision is lessened as well. Maybe the NFL should try THAT philosophy.

On Mike and Mike they were talking about the eventuality of players at all levels of the game, high school, college, and pros, having to sign a waver removing liability of injury. How many parents would be willing to do that at the high school level? I know that some parents are under the train of thought that it won't happen to their child, but is that really the smartest way to go about that?

Now you even see former NFL football players, who are now parents, expressing that they hope their sons will not play at the professional level. This includes the likes of Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. What message does this send to the rest of us, who don't have that level of experience to base our decisions on?

In a recent study, researchers at the Center for Injury Biomechanics, a joint effort of Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, estimated the number of football players in the USA: 2,000 in the NFL, 100,000 in college, 1.3 million in high school and 3.5 million in youth leagues.

AP Photo: LM Otero
The study found that while youth league players have fewer and lower-magnitude head impacts than high school and college players, high-magnitude hits do occur, and most happen in practice.
The researchers acknowledge their study involved just seven players, ages 7-8, wearing helmet sensors. But they suggest limiting hits in practice, a rule change the NFL adopted last season.

In an article that ran in the Washington Post, they explain that the changes to the NFL’s kickoff rules appear to account for a slight decline in the number of concussions reported across the league last season. This according to a consulting firm’s study of injury data provided by the NFL Players Association.

Jesse David, senior vice president at Edgeworth Economics, said the number of concussions reported on kickoffs decreased by about 43 percent from 2010 to 2011. That led to a slight drop in the overall number of reported concussions, reversing a multi year trend toward more head injuries, he said.

“Most concussions are happening somewhere else, but kickoffs was one that they felt, I presume, that it was pretty easy to target,” David said Tuesday, in an interview with The Associated Press. “And it looks like the rule did what it was supposed to do.”

The NFL moved kickoffs up five yards to the 35-yard line last season, an attempt to increase the number of touchbacks and de-emphasize kick returns — one of the most violent and chaotic plays in football.

Last year I sat down with Blues beat writer, Lou Korac, to talk a little bit about concussions and the NHL. I had a chance to talk with him again this year, to see how things are a year later. (When we sat down last year, David Perron was still recovering from his concussion, and was not yet able to practice.)

Q: Do you think the NHL has made any significant changes in making the game safer for players in regards to concussions?

A: The change in the rules structure was the first step because it has created an awareness of how to play the game safer. New concussion protocols that involve players who display symptoms being given a test by a doctor in a quiet location before returning to the ice, rather than trainers doing an exam on the bench during a game is a huge step and one that was obviously necessary. Players I have spoken with say it's made a big difference. But I still think there's a fine line between playing the game the right way and playing the game with a reckless abandonment at times with certain players. Stiffer penalties and holding true to those guidelines will only raise awareness even higher and hold players accountable for their actions to a greater degree. I do think there have been positive changes in the overall view of this subject but there is still a way to go. The NHL has bridged the gap, they haven't connected that bridge completely yet.

Q: Do you think the Blues handled David Perron's situation correctly? 

A: Absolutely. They gave him the proper time to heal and in the proper manner. There was no sense to rush him back in any fashion, and with the severity of his concussion, his youth and most importantly, his long-term well being, the Blues took no chances and allowed Perron to come back on his own terms. Only the player knows when he is 100 percent healthy and ready to return to action and Doug Armstrong continued to reiterate throughout the process that Perron would tell the team when he was ready to return and that they would put no pressure on him. This situation should be used as an example throughout the game how such incidents should be handled.

David Perron (Photo: Mark Buckner)
Q: How do you think Perron's recovery has been? Do you think his level of play is back to pre-injury status? 

A: I don't think his recovery could have gone any better. As mentioned before, the Blues and Perron handled it as best as they could and took all the necessary and proper steps. As far as level of play, from a mental standpoint, it was going to take him some time to get acclimated with the speed of the game and just being comfortable within his own skin. He needed to be hit, he needed to feel the rush of playing again and from that in itself, I don't think it took him very long to feel like himself again from a mental standpoint. From a physical standpoint, I think heading into this season is when fans will really see Perron excel. I don't think he really recovered his pre-concussion physical and endurance stature last season but has worked hard all summer long to get it back to where he feels like it will be at the level he expected.

Q: Do you think the players are learning to respect each other ... or do you think we are a long way from being at that point? Or do you think that is impossible in the "heat of the moment."

A: There are still a number of head shots that were taken throughout last season as well as hits from behind along corner boards where there was a vulnerability with those players, probably a larger number than expected. I realize hockey is a high-tempo game and a lot depends on a split-second reaction, but what really can help is the discipline committee (Brendan Shanahan and Co.) becoming more consistent in its issuance of penalties for such infractions. There have been too many inconsistencies that have a large number of players and fans confused what is right and what isn't accepted or tolerable.

So here we are, a year later, and I think both the NFL and the NHL are making great strides in making their respective games as safe as they can be, without taking away too much of the "essence" of professional sports. There are, however, more steps that need to be taken to continue to keep the players safe.

What do you think? Please leave a comment ... I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Pete Carroll is a ...

Today is day five of my week of football posts, leading up to the return of football. Today’s post is from fellow blogger, sports radio host and Retro Music aficionado JR Reed of Reed My Writing

Pete Carroll is a @#%&!. So is Jim Tressel.

Carroll leads his team through the "Trojan Walk",
a tradition he created at USC in 2001.
Carroll leads his team through the "Trojan Walk", a tradition he created at USC in 2001.
I can hear the hardcore maroon and gold fans crawling off their collective high horse to argue but I suggest they stay where they are because I don’t need to hear what they have to say. Same with you Luckeye Nation.

“USC has a history of greatness,” Trojan fans will argue.
“Yeah,” I reply. “The Juice, Marijuanavitch and Baby Daddy Leinart are among your greatest success stories. You should be damn proud of all three.”

In case the Ohio State hardcore are snickering I would remind them that Maurice Clarrett used his OSU education to commit armed robbery in the alley behind a bar that he regularly hung out at.

I guess he figured it was easier to rob someone near where he was but he didn’t take into account the fact that everyone in the area recognized him. Mo was probably sick the day Tressel taught the “How to commit a felony” class so we should cut him a little slack.

And don’t forget about Terrell Pryor. Trading your NCAA memorabilia for ink is something that he probably learned in a business class at OSU. My only concern is that he didn’t get equal value in his black market deal. Looking at his tattoos I’m guessing he didn’t.

Oh the irony ...
Why am I cracking on these two coaches? The easy answer is because I can but the truth is that I think these two are a special kind of dirtbag coach. You see, you expect guys like Nick Saban at LSU or Lane Kiffin (USC’s current coach) to be skeezy but Carroll and Tressel excel at playing the Good Guy card. I don’t like people who play the Good Guy card as a ruse.

I grew up in Southern California and remember the great days of Trojan football with John Robinson roaming the sideline and guys like Marcus Allen, Lynn Swann, Ronnie Lott, Junior Seau and Jack Del Rio tearing up their opponents.

I’m very familiar with the tradition and mystique of USC football plus I’ve got a pretty good bullshit meter. What that means is that I can tell when I’m being played and about two years in to the Pete Carroll era I knew I was being played but I wasn’t quite sure how.

My familiarity with Ohio State is because I’m a big Wisconsin fan. Why do I have such a problem with the Buckeyes? I can’t really explain it other than to say that I just know there’s something rotten in Denmark. Or in this case, Columbus.

Things were too clean at USC and that was a big, red challenge flag, not unlike the obnoxious red vest Tressel is known for. Rather, the vest he used to be known for. I’m not sure what he wears to work as the Vice President of Strategic Engagement at University of Akron. I guess I could look to see what Akron’s school colors are but the reality is that I really don’t care, so I’m not going to look.

I’m not even sure if “Vice President of Strategic Engagement” is a real position. It sounds like one of those jobs they create for someone, like when Charles Barkley picked up the gig as an IT guy during March Madness just so he could play on the company basketball team.
I think my favorite move was when Pete knew he was going to get spanked hard by the NCAA so he jumped ship and left someone else to clean up his mess. Very classy, Pete.

You should be proud of what you accomplished during your Trojan years. By cheating you stole a Heisman trophy from Vince Young, had a National Championship ripped from your hands and you lied to hundreds of thousands of people who for some ridiculous reason looked up to you and the team you put together.

Does this post have a point or is it just to make fun of Carroll and Tressel? I see how you could think this has no point but you’d be wrong. It does have a point and it’s this.

There is a right way to win and a wrong way to win. If you want to know the wrong way to win you can follow the progress of programs like USC, Ohio State, the University of Miami, Florida State and Oregon.

OK, Oregon isn’t necessarily dirty but I don’t like the mirrored helmets and the wings on the shoulders are lame.

Winning in and of itself isn’t automatically good. There are right ways to win and wrong ways. Winning at all costs shouldn’t be the name of the game but for some guys at some schools it certainly is.

I'd like to give Mr. Reed a big thank you for stopping by and sharing his thoughts on football week! If you want to see more of JR's writing, please swing by his blog, Reed My Writing. Stay tuned ... more football week to come!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Musings from Chicago

Today is day four of my week of football posts, in anticipation of the beginning of football season. Today's post makes a shift from college football to the NFL, and is written by fellow sports maven and hockey expert Susan Crosby.

I’ve been agonizing over this article for weeks. I’ve just had one of those summers that kicked the NFL off my radar. Between the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Cardinals defending their status as MLB Champs and the media circus that has become Notre Dame Football, the NFL just fell to the wayside.

I figured if I was in that boat, there were probably some others sitting in the same predicament. So, I did some research. Come to find out that the biggest question mark in the NFL sits at quarterback. Here is a run-down of some of the more interesting story lines to keep an eye on. You can thank me later…

Eli is champ, Peyton is in Denver, New York is about to be Tebow’d and the Colts are hoping they’ve lucked out (I know, I know). Truthfully, I wish Andrew Luck was in New York. How much fun would that be? J-E-T-S SU.. I mean LUCK! LUCK! LUCK! Then again the New York Post and Daily News trying to find back page headlines for Tim the golden boy could also prove interesting.

Andrew Luck has all the tools to become another
Cardinal legend at QB. (Photo:
Meanwhile, as insufferable as anyone thinks Peyton Manning is you have to admit he lived his own personal nightmare last season. First, he has to give in on the season due to a neck injury while concussion syndrome rumors run rampant. Then he has to watch his younger brother win the Super Bowl and then the Indianapolis Colts decide to permanently sideline his career when they drafted Andrew Luck. Now, hoping to resurrect his career (he was a Colt now he’s a Bronco ... there is a joke in there somewhere) without permanently damaging his health, Peyton is going to be in thin air with the Denver Broncos hoping that the Colts stroke of luck also rubs off on them. The Tebow faithful will say no way, because Tebow single-handedly ran the Broncos into the playoffs. General Manager John Elway knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, though and he decided to send Tebow packing. You have to wonder what Elway knows that we don’t?

And what about Andrew Luck? Expectations are too high. Former Stanford teammate Coby Fleener is just a rookie himself. Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne just isn’t enough to boost this sub-par offense. Quarterback has the longest development continuum of any NFL position and Luck will need that time to learn more complicated schemes, deal with faster and nastier defenses, and handle the pressure that the pros bring. Don’t expect any miracles in Indianapolis. Not this year.

Tim Tebow (Photo: Mark Seliger/GQ)
The Colts may have started the dominoes falling by drafting Andrew Luck but Tim Tebow was the last to feel the fall. And fall he did, from Denver to New York. What happens first? New York decides his good boy, high ethics, religious morals and high-standards are too good … or even too boring for them? Or does Tim Tebow get corrupted by the Big Apple? Oh and let’s not forget what actually happens on the field. And how much will Mark Sanchez have to say about all of it? Surprisingly, a lot. With a new deal in his back pocket, Sanchez won’t bow out quietly or gracefully to Tebow. There might just be a QB fight brewing with the Jets. After starting hot and then collapsing to a .500 season last year, this could prove the final nail in their coffin or the fight that keeps them from folding like a card table.

Pssst … speaking of quarterbacks … Robert Griffin III … heard of him? He’s that great type of quarterback. Runs. Throws. As the NFL slips further and further into becoming the No Fun League and offenses trying to find new ways to put points up, the NFL needs him to explode. Desperately.

As much as I think expectations are too high for Luck, I wonder if RGIII can live up to the expectations set for him? Arguably, the last quarterback to come into the NFL with his dual talents was Michael Vick. In Vick’s first season he played in 8 games and amassed a whopping two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdowns and six fumbles. However, in Vick’s sophomore year, he played in fifteen games with sixteen passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns, leading the Falcons to the NFC Title Game. I think RGIII comes closer to Vick’s sophomore season, especially with Mike Shanahan starting to feel a bit of heat in D.C.

Whatever team, position or story line you plan on eyeing this season, quarterbacks are going to provide some much needed fodder. Unless, of course you are a fan of one of the teams affected. In which case, you might want to go by stock in Mylanta.

A big thank you goes out to Susan Crosby for stopping by the blog for Football Week 2012. If you want to follow more of her sports musings, you can catch her on Twitter at @RuffStough.

Until tomorrow ... Cheers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where Are They Now? Ryan Leahy

Photo: Jonathan Daniel
With a grandfather and father who both played on national championship team at Notre Dame, Ryan Leahy probably didn’t need much of a nudge when it came to beginning his own career as an offensive lineman at Notre Dame. His grandfather is Irish playing and coaching legend Frank Leahy, who played for Knute Rockne, and his father, James Leahy, who played on the 1966 national championship team. Frank Leahy won four national championships at Notre Dame and had six unbeaten seasons. Ryan Leahy arrived in South Bend from Washington’s Yakima River Valley eager to carve his own slice on the family tree. Brother Pat Leahy was already playing baseball at Notre Dame, so the brothers were at South Bend together. Ryan Leahy was twice elected co-captain of the Notre Dame football team (1994 and 1995) and he also received the Edward "Moose" Krause Lineman of the Year Award, which is named after the Notre Dame legend and one of his grandfather close friends. After a brief career in the NFL, Leahy now lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two daughters.

Q: Being a grandson of Notre Dame legend Frank Leahy, was there ever a point that you thought you’d go to school anywhere else?

A: "I did take three other visits (Washington, Oregon UCLA).Notre Dame was my first visit and to me I really felt at home there. Even though I am a grandson of Frank Leahy, growing up in Washington State I felt pretty removed from Notre Dame. My older brother Pat was there when I was in high school. He played for the baseball team, and while he was there my parents flew me up for a two-week visit, which gave me a good impression of what Notre Dame had to offer. Frank Jacobs and Irv Smith played baseball with my brother but were also members of the football team, and they helped recruit me. On my official visit to ND, I took my host (Bernard Manly) to a baseball get-together and introduced him to the guys that I knew on the baseball team.  I never felt any pressure from my family."

"Washington was my second choice, but Notre Dame was so far in the lead it was not even close. USC did call me a few times and sent some recruiting letters. After I received the first couple recruiting letters, I got a call from one of the USC coaches. His first question was to inquire if I was related to Coach Leahy, and after I said yes, that was the last call I got from USC. Notre Dame was not just like family to me, it was the best place for Ryan Leahy."



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Robbing the Cradle

Today is day two of my week of football posts, in anticipation of the beginning of football season. Today's post is written by fellow Fighting Irish blogger, coach and motivational speaker Oscar McBride.

Robbing the Cradle

Does anyone remember when National Signing Day was an event? No, not the televised event that we've witnessed in recent years, but a day to really look forward to? Remember following your favorite high school player in the paper and desperately hoping that he would sign with your favorite college team? Yeah, me to. Unfortunately it seems those days are long gone in the college recruiting game.

Big time colleges and universities are now going after recruits as early as 7th and 8th grade in search of a verbal commitment to attend their institutions. If I remember correctly, when I was thirteen I couldn't decide which pair of blue jeans I was going to wear much less which college I wanted to go to. Of course I was a "fan" and followed certain college teams, but making a commitment to a division-1A college football program? Really? How can a coach look at a twelve or thirteen year-old and know how the kid is going to progress? Isn’t there more than just the "eye ball test" that needs to be passed?

Jim Stout
Of course the argument can be made that some kids are ready for the big time (i.e. David Sills). If you remember Sills, now 16, was the youngest quarterback to accept a division 1A scholarship offer extended by the University of Southern California at the tender age of 13 back in February of 2010 read more. Granted the Red Lions Christian Academy quarterback from Bear, Delaware has been working with legendary quarterback guru Steve Clarkson since the age of nine and has just as much hype surrounding him as Tim Tebow in New York – that just ain't normal! Whatever happened to "Junior Day?" For those of you who aren't aware, "Junior Day" is when the top junior class recruits in the nation are invited to colleges and universities for "unofficial" visits during the spring. Since NCAA regulations don’t allow the institutions to financially back the athlete's visit, it truly becomes a question of whether or not the recruit actually wants to attend … but then again the recruit is a junior … NOT a 7th grader! Has the college recruiting game changed so much that now recruiting begins at age 12?

Where do we draw the line? In their early teens, kids are still growing cognitively and socially. What happened to enjoying the game? Has sport become all work and no play for our young people? Have we (parents and coaches) taken all the fun out of it by driving our kids to the point they believe that our dream is actually theirs? What are we thinking? There are families who transfer their kids from one high school to the next just to get "more exposure." Can you imagine your kid attending three different high schools in three years? Guess what? It happens.

Here's a quote for those parents who have no concept of how college recruiting works: "If your kid can play, they will find him."

Funny, we give collegiate athletes such a hard time about being committed. Hmmmm … let's see – he made the "decision" to attend your school when he was fourteen and now as a more mature nineteen-year-old he realizes that your school isn’t where he wants to be. So now what? He wants to leave. At this point can we honestly blame the kid? Especially if that same kid attended three different high schools in four years!

We need to take a serious look at what’s happening in sport. What are we teaching our kids? Obviously commitment isn't communicated … instant gratification is what it’s all about and winning is the MOST important thing. C'mon! Coaches, parents please wake up. We're looking squarely down the barrel of the assassination of sport. Early commitments and sport specialization at age 10 – for what? So a kid can get hyped up to make a poor decision early and then get beat up for making that same decision later?

Sport in its most pure form is about competing and giving it your best. There isn't always a shortcut or loophole to secure. If you take the shortcut it always, trust me … always comes back to get you. Hard work does pay off and at the end of the day winning, although awesome, really isn’t everything. As the great Vince Lombardi once said: "The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur." For cryin' out loud, just let the kids play.

If you enjoyed these words of wisdom from Oscar McBride, please check out his web site for more information on how you can follow Oscar!

Tomorrow I will have the latest post in the  "Where Are They Now" series, featuring offensive linesman Ryan Leahy!


Monday, August 20, 2012

How To Be A Better Fan

Today is day one of "Football Week" ... my annual week of all that is football in preparation of the upcoming football season. This year, football week is kicked off by my fellow Fighting Irish blogger, The Subway Domer! Enjoy!

Greetings readers of Bridget McGuire’s Filling Station! I, of course, am your Warlord and Soverign Emperor of the Subway Alumni; The Subway Domer.

OK, that’s enough pomp and circumstance. Bridget asked me to stop by and chat with y’all, and I promised to behave.

What I want to talk with you today may be a bit out of the normal from what you would think about just weeks away from the season, and you may beat your head into a wall even more violently if you have read Subway Domer or have followed me on Twitter. What I want to discuss, is how to be a better fan. Correction: How to be a better fan of The Fighting Irish.

I have to warn you now, this is not a post filled with fanboy rhetoric and a breakdown of Notre Dame traditions. If you want that, there are plenty of other resources available to you. Sorry folks, but I roll a different way.

Where do you live? Chances are, you probably live outside of the state of Indiana and are surrounded by Notre Dame haters at every turn. Yes, they are haters. Notre Dame is the most polarizing school in the country for college football fans. You either love them, or hate them. So, if you wish to talk college football with your neighbor, classmate, friends, coworkers, or whoever you discuss this great sport with, the chances that you, as a fan of Notre Dame, are heard with much respect is most likely nonexistent.

Why is that? The obvious answer is that other fans are jealous of the rich history of Notre Dame. Yet, that is only part of it. Notre Dame fans tend to bring up the storied past a little too often when talking about the Irish. Honestly, you’re not going to find too many people that care about 12 National Titles and 7 Heisman Trophy winners. But I guess, mostly, what they hate is that they think Irish fans are self absorbed and know nothing else of the college football world, and although that statement has a lot of truth to it for Irish fans, the same can be said for a lot of college football fans.

Photo from:
What can you do? Climb out of the Cave of Ignorance. Be informed, be a college football fan. That may sound simple and very matter of fact, but that is the single greatest thing you can do to earn more respect from peers. Now, no one expects you to spend half of a day reading about the teams we play, but reading just a little about our opponents each week or about that team that 90% of your friends cheer for, will make a huge difference in your perception of them and their perception of you. That makes better conversations, which make better fans. Besides brushing up on your enemy knowledge, here are a few other tips:

  • Do not talk about academics. Seriously, no one cares, and it really makes you seem like a jackass if you are a Subway Alum.
  • Do not try to insult, or talk trash about other team in every conversation. Be complimentary when appropriate.
  • When you make outrageous statements and then are proved wrong, own up to those statements.
  • Stop making outrageous statements with your friends.

So, how do you become a better fan of the Fighting Irish? By becoming a better fan of College Football. If you read Subway Domer and/or follow me on Twitter, you may be still scratching your head. I talk a LOT of trash and make the most outrageous statements, so how can I sit here and tell you otherwise? Well, it’s because of years of doing this blogging thing in jest from a platform that allows it. I like to have fun, and people know it. However, when it comes down to talking about the nuts and bolts of the sport, I always try to maintain a level of respect between myself and others. Respect.

In closing, I hope these thoughts help you enjoy the college football season a little more, regardless of what happens with Notre Dame. I encourage you to read other team blogs, follow other teams media/blogs on Twitter. Be informed. It never hurts to be as knowledgeable about a topic that you are discussing as humanly possible. It doesn’t make you less of a fan, it makes you a better fan.

Thank you,

The Subway Domer

If you like what you read above, read more from The Subway Domer here! Tomorrow I welcome Oscar McBride to the blog for day two of football week! I hope you'll come back and check it out!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Still Haven't Found

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band U2, and the song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

I have already done a Retro Friday on U2, so I am going to spare you with the "band details."

I had an "a-ha" moment of sorts this week. This year has been a crazy one for me. One full of ups (winning the Biggest Fan of the Big East was a BIG up) and downs. But there has been something that's been bothering me, that I just could not put my finger on, and it came to me last night.

In the 10th month of my father's 40th year, he suffered a massive cardiac arrest, and we very nearly lost him. I was in the 7th grade at the time.

On my training run last night, it came to me, I am in the 10th month of my 40th year. And my daughter is in the 7th grade. Maybe reaching that age in my own life has had more of an impact on me than I realized.

I know this for sure, my life would have been totally different had we lost my father that night. And at this point in my life, I still may feel that I have not found my niche yet. Have not "found what I am looking for." But I am doing my very best to enjoy the ride on my way there, and I think that is all that matters!

And really, how many people actually do find what they are looking for? Just a thought ...

Okay, here it is for your listening pleasure, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."


Friday, August 10, 2012

Lay All Your Love On Me

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band Information Society, and the song "Lay All Your Love on Me."

Information Society is an 80's American band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band is comprised of Kurt Larson (aka Kurt Valaquen/Kurt Harland), Paul Robb, and James Cassidy. The latter two reunited the band in 2006, initially with Christopher Anton as lead vocalist, and then Kurt Harland rejoined them as lead vocalist by 2008.

The group's breakout hit was the 1988 single "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)." An energetic dance hit with that 80's synthpop hit sound, it went straight to No. 1 on the dance chart and spent 39 weeks on the chart. It also peaked at No. 3 on the hot 100 pop chart. The single included a vocal sample of Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) from Star Trek, saying "pure energy," and also opened with a sample of Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), also from Star Trek, saying, "It's worked so far, but we're not out yet!" The samples are from the Star Trek episodes "Errand of Mercy", and "I, Mudd" respectively.

My favorite Information Society song, however, was "Lay All Your Love on Me." Originally recorded by ABBA on their 1980 album Super Trouper, it was re-recorded by Information Society in their signature 80's synthpop style. I guess my love for ABBA probably contributes to me liking this song so much, but it is one of my favorites!

My friends and I just loved Information Society in high school. This band is pretty much what got me addicted to seeing bands live, front and center, in the mosh pit.

When you go to high school in the Los Angeles area, they have this thing at graduation called "Grad Night." What is "Grad Night" you ask? Well, after your graduation ceremony, they put all of the students on buses and take them to Disneyland for a lock-in of sorts. You are there from after graduation until 7am when they bus you back home. One other feature of "Grad Night," besides having free reign of Disneyland, is that they also had several music groups throughout the park for entertainment. The year I graduated the bands were ... New Kids on the Block (yuck), Samantha Fox (ehhh), and Information Society. We were SO excited about getting to see Information Society that we waiting in line outside the venue so that we could make sure we got a front row spot ... and we did. It was awesome. That night was amazing, and seeing them front and center was a big part of it. Well, among other things, but I digress.

And now for your listening pleasure, "Lay All Your Love on Me:"


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Football Week is Coming!

My annual Football Week is fast approaching, featuring my 2012 Notre Dame Football Preview, a follow up post on my Concussion Crisis piece from last year, as well as several guest posts!

This year I have the pleasure of welcoming the following writers to my 2012 Football week!

-Notre Dame blogger, Editor-in-Chief and Emperor of The Subway Domer

- Blogger, sports radio show host and fellow KROQ music enthusiast JR Reed from Reed My Writing

- Former Notre Dame football player ... author, speaker, coach, mentor ... Oscar McBride

- Fellow sports writer and hockey maven Susan Crosby.

Look for posts to start appearing the week of August 20th!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where Are They Now? Irv Smith

Irv Smith was a great athlete who made it from tiny Pemberton High in New Jersey to becoming the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft. A three-sport star in high school, Smith earned all-division, all-county and all-state accolades as a tight end, linebacker and safety in football and also starred in football, baseball and basketball. Smith originally committed to play football at Clemson, then changed his mind and decided to play football and baseball at Notre Dame. Smith was talented enough in baseball to be drafted by the Houston Astros after his junior year at Notre Dame. After three years playing two sports for the Fighting Irish, Smith focused on football as a senior and wound up reaching the NFL. Smith was drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 20th pick of the first round and went on to play seven seasons in the NFL with the Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. Smith finished his NFL career with 183 receptions for 1,788 yards, averaging 9.8 yards per carry, and had 15 touchdowns. He now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his son “Little Irv.”

Q: What caught your attention and made you interested in playing football at Notre Dame?

A: “Notre Dame was actually my last choice. It was my last choice because Derrick Brown was a freshman at ND when I was a senior in high school, Notre Dame had just won the national championship, and they flat out told me that I would be Brown’s backup for my first three years. All of the other schools that I was looking at promised me a starting position. I was looking at Florida State, USC, UCLA, Clemson and Auburn. When I took my visit to FSU, it was for the FSU/Florida game and “Neon” Deion Sanders was a senior at FSU. Auburn was supposed to be my fifth and final visit. I was getting ready to commit to Auburn during my official recruiting trip when they called me the Monday prior to my visit and told me that had just signed two tight ends that weekend (one of which was Fred Baxter) and they no longer had a scholarship for me. I was getting ready to sign and they said ‘no thank you’ to me. Once Notre Dame got wind of this, they put some pressure on me to make my fifth visit there. I told them that I would take my fifth visit there, but firmly told them that it was my intention to commit to Clemson.”