Kimmel Gives Thanks For Those Who Can’t

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Nick Kimmel saunters across the office with his host Jesse Mudd of Beloit. Kimmel throws his weight back and forth at the hips and shoulders to propel himself along on the carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum prosthetic legs he wears to stay upright and mobile. The rechargeable, waterproof prosthetics contain a computerized hydraulic piston, in what serves as the knee joint, to help give the wearer a more natural gait. Kimmel’s gait is anything but natural as he heads toward the back of the room.

His pace quickens as he moves forward. The shifting of his weight builds momentum with each step. You can see this is a skill he has mastered and that this mastery could not have happened overnight. He does not wear a prosthetic on what remains of his left arm, which has been removed just a few short inches below the shoulder. Kimmel pivots on his legs in order to turn and sit. Maintaining his balance with his hand now holding the chair arm. Then, in a single, sweeping motion that can only be described as a controlled fall, he drops into the chair with a thud before adjusting his position and sitting up straight.

This all takes place over the course of about a minute, but it is the first of many moments to come over the next hour or so that serve as examples of things most of us take for granted. Not just things and activities we take for granted but also people, like Sgt. Kimmel, who we tend to take for granted until faced with the reality of their situation, service and sacrifice. Watching Kimmel as he moves and seats himself would invoke many to feel a type of sadness or even pity. Sadness and pity, however, are not a part of Kimmel’s mindset nor his vocabulary.

Kimmel originally hails from Moses Lake, Washington, about 100 miles southwest of Spokane along I-90. He grew up as an avid duck hunter, an intelligent student and a good athlete. Coming out of high school he was offered a baseball scholarship to Arizona State University. An offer he declined in favor of enlisting in the Marine Corps.

Mudd is the founder of Vets 4 Vets, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled military servicemen and women through hunting, fishing and outdoor adventures. Kimmel was the original inspiration for Mudd to start the organization and is the first disabled Veteran who will partake in the program. Over the next two weeks, they will hunt coon, water fowl, prairie dogs and deer in the Beloit area before they head for Texas to take part in an exotic game hunt.

Following boot camp at Camp Pendleton, CA, and Combat Engineer school at Camp Lejune, NC, Kimmel served on assignments in Okinawa, Korea, Indonesia and Hawaii. Leading up to what would be a seven month deployment to Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines for road improvement and improvised explosive device (IED) detection in 2010. From there, Kimmel returned to Okinawa before volunteering to go back to Afghanistan with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion in 2011.

“We got there on November 10th, which is the Marine Corps’ birthday” says Kimmel who was a Corporal at the time. Less than a month later on December 1st, 2011, he was working with his unit building a patrol base in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. It was a day that would change his life, and his body, forever.

“I stepped on a 40 pound IED, but only 13 pounds exploded,” Kimmel says. The explosion resulted in Kimmel becoming a triple amputee. Losing both legs above the knee as well as his left arm. To his knowledge, he is the just the 36th Veteran in the history of the United State Military to survive as a triple amputee. The first known being from the Vietnam War era.

When asked about other complications or injuries he suffered in or as a result of the explosion, Kimmel said, “I had three pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs) and my heart stopped twice.”

As if all of that were not enough to endure, Kimmel also acquired a rare bacterial infection from the Afghan dirt which he believes transpired in the process of being dragged across the ground with open wounds to a helicopter for evacuation. All of this on the day referred to as his “Alive Day.” He still carries shrapnel from the explosion in his body.

After being stabilized and waiting out a 10 day quarantine due to the bacterial infection he contracted that affects only 1 in 10,000, he was moved to Camp Leatherneck in the Afghan capitol of Kabul. From there he was transferred to Bethesda, MD via Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Kimmel says, “They pretty much just get you stabilized enough to travel and then send you home.”

Upon his return stateside on December 4th of 2011, Kimmel endured over 50 surgeries. He remembers, “I had surgery every Monday, Wednesday and Friday… recovery took about two years.” This included physical therapy and learning to use his prosthetics.

“I started with a jointless stick prosthetic for 3 to 4 months and then with knees after that. The physical part was the most challenging, Psychologically it is what it is and I wouldn’t change anything. If I could go back to when I enlisted and they told me that you’re going to lose both legs and an arm I still would have signed up.”

“In the recovery process I tried to encourage and help others where I had the actual experience. The (medical staff) were trained to treat and help us but they had never had the actual experience,” Kimmel added.

Upon his release from Bethesda he returned to San Diego where his father came to live with him for a year to help him reacclimate to daily life. Kimmel says, “It used to take 30 to 40 minutes to put on my legs, now it’s 5 to 10 at the most.”

Kimmel currently resides in San Diego and is taking classes at the Vincennes School on Camp Pendleton and plans to transfer to San Diego State University majoring in mechanical engineering. His post study plans are to work in product design for a prosthetics company.

He has also served as an intern for the San Diego Padres baseball club in their operations department. Kimmel has built relationships with Padres players as well as San Francisco Giants players such as Jake Peavy who he is planning a hog hunt with on Peavy’s ranch in Mississippi.

He is an avid off-road racer and is planning to be the first amputee to compete next year in the Baja 1,000 driving an overhauled Toyota Tacoma truck he drove in high school. “Baja is the Super Bowl of off-road racing,” Kimmel injects. In the mean time he drives a Jeep Wrangler in desert races east of San Diego.

When asked how people respond to him Kimmel says, “I get a lot of double takes and it doesn’t bother me and kids are curious about it. Sometimes when people just come up and just start asking me questions I’m like, “Hey, I’m Nick (etc.) and that’s kind of frustrating.”

Vets 4 Vets provides for all of Kimmel’s expenses on this trip he has embarked on. In regard to his organization, Mudd says, “It’s great for guys to come here to hunt and get a Kansas white tail. There are a number of organizations that do this kind of thing but there cannot be enough. I want to thank every who makes this possible. The VFW, Carrico’s, CPS, Yeti who gave us a cooler to raffle and the community at large for all their support and help.

Aside from Vets 4 Vets, Kimmel will receive assistance in the form of a new home being funded by the R.I.S.E. Program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) which is a part of the Gary Sinise Foundation. Sinise is well known for playing amputee Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump and has long been dedicated to Veteran’s causes.

For more information about Vets 4 Vets you may contact Jesse Mudd at (785)282-4793 or email huntingforhealing@gmail.com. You can also find Vets 4 Vets on Facebook.

Sgt. Kimmel will turn 25 this Thanksgiving Day and will celebrate his Alive Day on December 1st. He is thankful for, “Foundations that help vets and their families and I am thankful to be alive and want to live 10 lifetimes for those who can’t… to celebrate the lives of those who were lost in the sands of Afghanistan.”

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Kansas 3A Playoff Preview – Regional Round

Kansas Class 3A Football Playoff Preview – Regional Round

High School football playoffs continue across the State of Kansas on Saturday following Tuesday’s Bi-District round. It was a rainy, windy, muddy night across much of Kansas where things went mostly as expected in Class 3A. Although, there were a couple of surprises sprinkled in. We’ll start with the east side of the bracket. All games are scheduled to be played Saturday, November 9th.

Hiawatha Red Hawks (7-3) @ #4 Silver Lake Eagles (9-1)

Hiawatha began the season at just 2-3. The 3 tough losses for the Red Hawks came by a combined 8 points. Their last loss came to Big 7 rival and fellow playoff team Nemaha Valley where Hiawatha had a potential game tying extra point blocked after finding the end zone as time expired in Week 5. The Red Hawks have since rattled off five straight victories, winning by an average of 21ppg. Including a 25-8 Bi-District win over Riley County.

Silver Lake is looking to reach the State Finals for the 4th straight year and collect their 2nd title in that stretch. The Eagles began the season as the #1 ranked team in Class 3A before a 27-21 loss to Mid-East League rival Rossville dropped them to #4 where they have remained since. Silver Lake has excellent offensive balance with nearly 1,600 passing yards and 1,900 rushing yards this season. Senior quarterback Dailin Kruger has thrown for 1,410 yards with 19 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions and rushed for another 339 and 6 scores. The Eagles running game is paced by a pair of capable juniors in Cody Renfro and Ryan Matzke. Renfro has 653 yards and 13 touchdowns on 102 carries. Matzke has 558 yards and 9 touchdowns and leads the team at 8.7 yards per carry. Silver Lake has four players with at least 30 carries who average over 6 yards per touch.

Early season experience in close games could prove valuable for Hiawatha if they can keep things close, but that will be a tall order against the #4 team in the State. Expect a comfortable win for the Eagles.

Wellsville Eagles (8-2) @ St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers (8-2)

After a 46-12 loss to 4A #3 Baldwin to start the season, Wellsville has put together a pair of four game win streaks with a 38-20 loss at 4A Iola in between. The Eagles are a run heavy team led by a 1,000+ yard tailback in Jr. Brett Osbern who averages 8.5 yards per carry with 14 touchdowns. Wellsville rolled through a mediocre District 5 where they were the only team from that district who finished the regular season with a winning record before defeating Eureka (6-4) on Tuesday.

St. Mary’s-Colgan overwhelmed their opposition on a 5 game winning streak to open the year before dropping a pair of games to Columbus and Galena. The Panthers then righted the ship outscoring Riverton and Southeast-Cherokee by a combined 104-19 to end the regular season. Earning the right to face Caney Valley on Tuesday in what was a notable game. The Panthers had a 17-16 lead to start the 4th quarter behind the efforts of quarterback Luke Marquardt, running back Drew Dawson and the leg of kicker Aaron Twarog. It was a battle in the mud in Caney against a Bullpups defense that had been nothing short of stingy this season. They had allowed only two teams to score 10 points or more coming into the Bi-District game including a 21-6 loss to then #5 Conway Springs in Week 3. The Panthers outscored Caney Valley 13-6 in the final stanza and had 1st and 10 with 1:53 to play and the Bullpups void of time-outs. Take three snaps from the victory formation and move on, right? Well, eventually… Before the first down play lighting caused more than an hour delay but the Panthers ultimately won 30-22 to advance.

Wellsville defeated the teams they should have this year and lost to the teams they should have as well. This game should see that trend continue. St. Mary’s-Colgan proved they could put points on the board against one of the top defenses in all of 3A this week and will likely cruise to the next round.

#3 Rossville Bulldogs (10-0) @ Nemaha Valley Raiders (9-1)

The Rossville Bulldogs are rolling. Having played just one remotely competitive game in the first 5 weeks coming in the way of a 33-21 road win against 4A playoff team Abilene. Then it was off to Silver Lake to face their #1 ranked Mid-East League rival in one of the best games of the season. A game won by the Bulldogs 27-21. Silver Lake is the last team to score against Rossville who have won their last four by an average score of 42-0. The Bulldogs feature a solid defense that tackles well and forces turnovers. They are paced on offense by stellar sophomore quarterback Tucker Horak who has thrown for 1,301 yards and 9 touchdowns completing 60% of his passes. Horak also leads the team in rushing with 1,441 yards 29 touchdowns on 154 carries for an average of over 9ypc.

Nemaha Valley has just one loss on the season coming 21-20 at Jeff West but those wins came in much different fashion in contrast to Rossville. Six of their wins have been by 8 points or less. This is thanks in large part to a respectable defense allowing an average of less than 12 point per contest. The Raiders boast their own 1,000 yard passer in senior Caleb Meyer who has 1,061 yards and 10 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. Devin Henry leads the Raiders rushing attack with 819 yards on 142 carries and 10 TD’s.

The records look similar but that is where the comparisons end for the most part. Nemaha Valley’s defense has done a nice job holding down their opposition and the offense has scored enough to win. The Bulldogs defense has allowed 8ppg on average against better overall competition and the Raiders have not seen an offense as dynamic as the one Tucker Horak will operate in Seneca come Saturday. Rossville will continue rolling through the bottom half of the East bracket.

Humboldt Cubs (8-2) @ Cherryvale Chargers (7-3)

Humboldt will have redemption on their minds when they travel to Cherryvale on Saturday to face a familiar foe. These two rivals met in Humboldt in Week 5 in what was a 47-31 victory for the Chargers that ultimately led to their runner-up finish to Caney Valley in the Tri-Valley League and a 3rd place finish for the Cubs. Humboldt and Cherryvale had common opponents in Caney Valley, Burlington, Fredonia, Eureka and Neodesha with similar results. This appears to be a fairly evenly matched contest between two teams looking to extend their season another week.

Cherryvale was one of the few surprises out of the Bi-District round winning on the road at Galena. There were questions as to how wet conditions would affect games across Kansas on Tuesday and those conditions probably effected that game more than any in Class 3A. Negating Galena’s glaring speed advantage and playing right into the hands of the Charger’s pair of straight ahead, downhill runners in Tristan Thorton and Cody Hockett who are both around 5’7” and 210 pounds. Referred to as “Thunder and Thunder” Thorton and Hockett combined for lion’s share of the Chargers 369 rushing yards in the game.

In a pairing of familiar teams, give the edge to Cherryvale based on their ground game in what should be a competitive affair. The reward to the winner will all but certainly be a match-up against #3 Rossville.

The West side of the 3A bracket features the two top ranked teams with #1 Beloit and #2 Conway Springs on opposite ends of the bracket as well as the defending State Champions from Scott City.

#2 Conway Springs Cardinals (10-0) @ Kingman Eagles (7-2)

Conway Springs returned the bulk of their offensive and defensive lines this season that has size as well as mobility and another year of experience. The glaring loss for the Cardinals from a year ago was that of All Classes Top 11 player Tanner Wood who rushed for 2,709 yards and 39 touchdowns. Teams know year in and year out they are going to get a heavy dose of the single-wing offense. This year the Cardinals traded a one man wrecking crew for what has developed into a three-headed monster. Dakota Finstad is a speedy and elusive big play machine. Luke Fisher is a downhill bruiser with deceptive speed who also leads the team in tackles. Travis Wood is a hybrid of the two leading the team in carries, yards and touchdowns. The trio has combined for 2,733 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground.

Kingman returns all of its starters from a year ago from a squad that went 2-7 but have taken great strides in 2013. The Eagles wishbone offense features very good depth with 5 players over 300 yards rushing led by 3rd year starter Zach Anderson with 743 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Eagles defense allowed just four of its nine opponents to score in double figures but have not seen a running attack comparable to what they will face on Saturday.
Kingman is a much improved team from a year ago and won their first playoff game since 2002 on Tuesday by defeating Halstead for the 2nd time this year. Conway Springs is among the top teams in both scoring offense and defense in Class 3A making their 7th straight playoff appearance and 15th in 17 years. The improvement of Kingman is unlikely to trump the consistency of Conway Springs who are among the favorites to claim their 7th State Championship in 13 years.

Scott City Beavers (9-1) @ Phillipsburg Panthers (9-1)

The defending 3A State Champions from Scott City are a different looking team from a year ago returning just 3 offensive and 4 defensive starters from 2012. Yet the Beavers are in the midst of yet another successful season with their lone loss on the year coming to 4A playoff team Ulysses 25-6 in Week 4. Scott City has since allowed just 21 points in their past 6 games while scoring an average of 36. Led by quarterback Trey O’neil at nearly 1,000 yards passing and 11 touchdowns and tailback Paco Banda with 539 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Beavers don’t have the offensive firepower they did a year ago but are holding pretty close to the defensive standard set last season. They have allowed 99 points in 10 games after allowing 122 in 14 games last season.

Phillipsburg lost some key offensive talent from a year ago as well with the departure of Sean Newlan and Justin Juenemann to K-State and Minnesota respectively. Despite those losses, the Panthers began the year in impressive fashion winning their first 6 by an average of 36-6 before running into offensive buzzsaw and #1 ranked Beloit in Week 7. The 48-27 loss is Phillipsburg’s only defeat of the season. The Panthers earned hard fought victories the past two weeks 20-16 over Norton and 27-20 over Sacred Heart.

This is probably the best matchup of the weekend in Class 3A between two teams who appear to be fairly evenly matched. Give Scott City the edge defensively but home field advantage for Phillipsburg could be the great equalizer. A win for the Beavers sets up a likely matchup with Conway Springs in what would be a battle of the last two champions in Class 3A.

Marion Warriors (9-1) @ Sedgwick Cardinals (9-1)

In another match-up of league rivals, Marion will look to avenge their only loss of the season coming at the hands of Sedgwick in Heart of America League play 35-14. The Warriors cruised through their remaining schedule with their two closest games both coming against Hutch Trinity 19-10 and 10-0. Marion has not allowed more than 14 points to any opponent except Sedgwick. In their wins the Warriors have outscored opponents 33-4 but gave up 35 in the first matchup with the Cardinals.
Sedgwick began the season with a Top 5 ranking in class 3A before a 62-48 Week 3 loss at Sacred Heart and dropped out of the Top 5 after that. However, the Cardinals have been dominant since the loss outscoring their opponents by an average of 51-12. You won’t find a more balanced offense in Class 3A. Sedgwick averages nearly 500 yards per game with 248 on the ground and 248 through the air thanks to gaudy numbers posted by their quarterback and running back. Brylie Ware completes 63% of his passes on 226 attempts for 2,358 yards 23 touchdowns and only 3 picks while Dalton Brandt has 1,490 yards and 27 touchdowns and averages over 9 yards per carry.

This game has potential to be a good one but Sedgwick’s offensive firepower should prove too much for Marion as it did earlier in the season. Sedgwick may be flying a bit under the radar and are probably the only team that has a shot to trip up #1 Beloit in the bottom half of the West bracket.

#1 Beloit Trojans (10-0) @ Holcomb Longhorns (7-3)

Beloit has been an offensive juggernaut once again this season. The Trojans average over 53ppg and posted a whopping 4,262 yards on the ground at 426 per game. Despite allowing just 14ppg the Trojans gave up 44 to Sacred Heart and 27 to Phillipsburg but no other team has put up more than 14 against the 1st team defense. Bowe Behymer leads a triple threat rushing attack with Tanner Niemczyk and four year starting quarterback Payton Vetter. All three average over 8 yards per carry. Behymer has 1,471 yards and 25 touchdowns. Niemczyk has 845 yards and 10 touchdowns while Vetter sits at 774 yards and 9 trips to the end zone.

At 7-3 Holcomb is probably a better team than others with better records in the 3A playoffs. Their losses have come against 4A playoff team Ulysses, 4A Hugoton and Scott City. They defeated 2A Top 5 ranked Meade as well as 4A schools Goodland and Colby. The Longhorns should be well prepared in terms of facing good competition. They are unlikely to be intimidated with the #1 team in Class 3A coming to town. Whether they’ll be prepared to slow down the Trojans double wing offense is another story.

Beloit has given up some points to their best competition but no one has been able to able to match them score for score. Smith Center held them to a season low 36 but the Trojans scored 50 or more in 6 games. The Longhorns have given up 20 points or more in 5 games this season and haven’t seen an offense like Beloit. Some are talking about a close one between these two teams, but don’t be surprised if it’s not.

Chad Hallack
chad@skyshinepro.com
http://www.facebook.com/hallack

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“In Time…”

Sitting round drinkin’ and thinkin’ on a star that’s brightening up my sky.

Thinkin’ about her heart and her shape and her smile lit up from the light of her eyes.

Sometimes my dreams take me back to that night, it don’t feel wrong baby but maybe it ain’t right… This feeling I don’t wanna fight, when I see her wearing nothing but moonlight.

Rolling in kisses and simple little wishes for someday in time down the line.

For a night we won’t have to say goodbye, I’ll just wrap her up and say goodnight.

Sometimes my dreams take me back to that night, it don’t feel wrong baby but maybe it ain’t right… This feeling I don’t wanna fight, when I see her wearing nothing but moonlight.

Copyright 2013 Hallacek Tunes
All Rights Reserved

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B.roken C.hampionship S.ystem

It’s another regular season in the books for the loathsome BCS and another epic failure to add to it’s list of growing epic failures.  Normally, the BCS doesn’t pass the eye test.  This season, it doesn’t even pass the smell test.  It stinks… bad.  We’ll start at the top and work our way down and finally arrive at a solution that is fair, sensible and compelling.

#1 Notre Dame (11-0) ultimately played the weakest schedule of any team to ever finish the year rated #1 in the BCS.  Three of their wins came against Big 10 teams Michigan, Michigan St., and Purdue.  Outside of Ohio St. (who is on probation and not bowl eligible) the Big 10 was as weak as I can ever remember this season.  No Big 10 team finished in the top 15 in the final BCS poll.  The highest ranked, bowl eligible Big 10 team?  #16 Nebraska who got D-stroyed by Wisconsin (7-5) on Saturday by a final of 70-31 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest.

The Irish won three games against really bad ACC teams Boston College, Miami and Wake Forrest.  Miami hasn’t been relevant for several years now in college football and neither has anyone else from the ACC not named Florida St. or Virginia Tech on any consistent basis in decades.  ND’s win against USC (7-5) sounds good because it’s USC but is less than impressive as Trojan’s Mr. Everything QB Matt Barkley did not play due to injury.  A game the Irish almost certainly lose without their good fortune in that regard.  But… a win is a win.  They needed triple overtime to beat Pittsburg (6-6).  Pitt finished 3-4 in the joke that is the Big East that somehow still gets an automatic berth in the BCS.  ND also defeated mediocre at best BYU (7-5) and pounded a not at all good Navy (7-4) in a virtual home game across the pond in Dublin, Ireland.  Their notable wins came against #8 Oklahoma (10-2) whose only other loss came to Big XII Champion Kansas State and in overtime versus #15 Stanford who finished at #6.  Notre Dame was rated as having the #1 toughest schedule in the nation in the preseason by the “experts”.  No one is suggesting now that Notre Dame had the most difficult schedule in the nation this season as their opponents combined record was 79-63.

Alabama is the #2 ranked BCS team based much more on legacy than substance and will face Notre Dame in the BCS title game.  The Crimson Tide survived a down year in the SEC that somehow still managed to get six teams in the top 10 (also on legacy more than substance) as the media/pollster darlings of the east.  Running the table against their SEC opponents who had a combined record of 51-45.

Florida at #3 is probably the poorest 1 loss team from a major conference I have ever seen play.  Two of the last three opponents for the Gators amounted to a 23-0 win against a inept Jackson St. team.  While Florida got a blocked punt return for a touchdown at home in “The Swamp” in the final minute to escape with a 27-20 win over the “Ragin’ Cajuns” of Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) who didn’t have what it takes to win the Sun Belt that ranked 9th out of 11 Division I conferences this season.

Oregon at #4 comes from the admittedly mediocre Pac 10 and would be in the title game were it not for a slip-up against #6 Stanford a couple of weeks ago.  Outside of the Stanford game… Oregon, despite playing a comparable schedule in terms of strength to Notre Dame was utterly dominant the rest of the way.  The Irish, not so much.  Oregon won by an average of 54-22 including 4 wins vs. Top 25 teams.  Oregon was much more impressive in their four wins vs. Top 25 opponents than was Notre Dame in their four Top 25 wins.  ND won their games by an average of 27-10.  A difference in margin of victory overwhelmingly favoring the Ducks with comparable schedules in terms of strength when you look at them side by side.

Kansas State at #5 earned that ranking the hard way… both ways.  The Wildcats began the season off the BCS radar and marched their way to the top spot.  Had it not been for a complete meltdown against Baylor in Waco, the Wildcats would be playing Notre Dame for the title instead of ‘Bama.  Kansas State is certainly the best coached team in America and probably lost more poll spots than they should have with the loss to Baylor who was a completely different team late in the season than they were in the beginning.  Though, to be fair, at the time it appeared to be a really bad loss.

Stanford at #6 is at #6 because they beat Oregon on a field goal in overtime.  End of story.  Outside of that, they were not overly impressive in the lackluster Pac 10 with the exception of a blowout win over lowly Colorado (1-11).

The point is, there is much more parity in college football than it’s given credit for and that is the reason that the BCS in it’s current form is a joke.  It is not a fair measuring stick when it ultimately excludes all but 2 teams from having any shot at winning a National Championship.  It is only a slight improvement over the old system where the National Champion was chosen almost totally subjectively.  Most years before the BCS there was no clear cut way for any team say they were the National Champion outside of the media pollsters christening them as such.  The BCS was supposed to cure the issue of subjectivity in determining a National Champion.  In truth, it has created more problems by far than it has solved.

RANT ALERT!!!

The fact that Florida St. gets an automatic bid is sad.  The fact that Louisville gets an automatic bid is pathetic.  The fact that Northern freaking Illinois is playing in a BCS Bowl has brought pathetic to an entirely new level!  The idea that the Big East deserves an automatic bid is a joke.  Except it’s not funny.  At least this season Louisville is ranked in the top 25 at #21 unlike in the past where unranked Big Least teams have played in BCS bowls.  Such as unranked UConn getting pounded by Oklahoma in last year’s Fiesta Bowl that nobody watched except for OU fans and UConn fans until halftime.

Northern Illinois is in a BCS bowl due to a technicality in the BCS rules and thanks in equal part to the Big 10 and the Big East.  The Big East is simply a bad football conference.  Case closed.  The problem in the Big 10 is because two of the best four teams in that league are bowl ineligible.  Ohio St. for a money scandal involving players and Penn St. for covering up the fact that an assistant coach was raping little boys for years.  A team outside of the BCS automatic qualifying conferences gets a bid if it finishes in the top 16 of the BCS standings and ranks ahead of the champion of an automatic qualifying conference.  In N. Illinois’ case, they finished ranked ahead of the bowl eligible champions from the Big East and the Big 10.

N. Illinois accomplished this dubious feat by somehow jumping from #21 to #15 with a win over #17 Kent St. (who had no business being ranked 17th) in double overtime to win the MAC Conference title.  The MAC ranks as the 10th best conference out of the 11 Division I conferences in America in 2012 according to the Associated Press.  Yet, they have two teams in the final top 25 poll?  The Mountain West ranks #5 among conferences and has one top 25 team in Boise St.  The ACC ranks 6th and had one top 25 team in Florida State.  Conference USA ranks 7th and has no top 25 team.  The Big East ranks 8th and has one top 25 team in Louisville.  The Sun Belt conference ranks 9th and has no top 25 teams.  In jumping from #21 to #15, N. Illinois passed up teams such as #17 UCLA who lost to #6 Stanford by 3.  #18 Michigan who did not play this past weekend and lost the week before to undefeated Ohio St. by 5.

Here’s all you need to know about how good Kent State is while trying to wrap your head around their #17 ranking coming into Satuday’s game against N. Illinois.  They got beat 47-14… by Kentucky!  Kentucky’s only other win on the season was against Division I-AA Samford.  The mighty #15 Huskies of N. Illinois played two BCS conference opponents this season.  Losing 18-17 at Iowa (4-8) and defeating the worst team in the Big XII by miles and miles in Kansas (1-11) by a final score of 30-23.  The Jayhawks are the only Big XII team that is not bowl eligible and barely got beat by a team that is going to play in the Orange Bowl?  Are you kidding me!?

This technicality cost a BCS berth to Big XII co-champions Oklahoma.  Oklahoma’s losses on the year were to #5 K-State and #1 Notre Dame.  This sends the Sooners to the Cotton Bowl to play Texas A&M in a significantly better non-BCS game between who are both significantly better teams than Flordia St. and N. Illinois would be if they combined to make one team.  Is there anybody on the planet who thinks that OU wouldn’t stomp a mud hole in N. Illinois’ ass?  Is there anybody on the planet who thinks N. Illinois would have a snowballs chance in hell of beating any Top 10 BCS ranked team?  I think not.  This, if nothing else, and in and of itself should prove once and for all the epic failure that is the BCS.  This concludes the massive rant…

As it turns out, I still get to see the match-up that is most intriguing to me with Oregon taking on K-State in the Fiesta Bowl.  I wanted to see it as the title game, but at least I’ll still get to see it.  I believe that K-State and Oregon are still the two best overall teams in college football this year.  That, of course, is subject to debate.

I’ve said it in years past, and I’ll say it again… and I’ll keep saying it until they fix it.  Here is the best, most feasible, most fair and most effective way to fix college football and the Broken Championship System.

You keep the BCS rankings but you include components that add significantly more weight to strength of schedule and margin of victory in a formula that takes both of those factors into balanced account.  But you do it in a way that can and would be adjusted as the season goes on.  For example…. Your opponents final rankings would carry much more weight than what their ranking was at the time you played them in terms of your strength of schedule/margin of victory points allotment in terms of how it would figure into the final rankings themselves.  Case in point… K-State’s 5 point win over Oklahoma who was #6 at time and finished #11 would be at worst equally and likely more valuable than Notre Dame’s 17 pt. win over Michigan St. who was #10 at the time and finished outside of the Top 25.  Notre Dame was awarded as having the #1 toughest schedule in the nation at the beginning of the year by the “experts.”  It certainly did not play out that way.

You take the final top 8 ranked BCS teams regardless of conference and seed them 1-8 in a bracket.  1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, so on and etc. and you play it out.

All the way out.

The higher ranked team in each match-up in the first two rounds gets to play at home.

You have a winner’s bracket and a losers bracket.

The added bearing of the margin of victory and strength of schedule components that I suggest and should be implemented in the interest of fairness would have changed this year’s final BCS standings… but for the sake of not making this overly complicated, I will use this season’s final BCS rankings as the example of how the playoffs would work.  This year’s 1st round match-ups in this suggested format would be as follows…

December 8th
Game 1 – 8)LSU @ 1) Notre Dame
Game 2 – 7) Georgia @ 2) Alabama
Game 3 – 6) Stanford @ 3) Florida
Game 4 – 5) K-State @ 4) Oregon

On December 15th
Game 1 winner plays Game 4 winner in Game 5
Game 2 winner plays Game 3 winner in Game 6
Game 1 loser plays Game 4 loser in Game 7
Game 2 loser plays Game 3 loser in Game 8

Then you take off from Dec. 16th to December 31st for finals and Christmas break.

The way the bowls are set this year, this is how it would look.

January 1st
Game 8 loser vs. Game 7 loser for 7th place in the Orange Bowl

January 2nd
Game 8 winner vs. Game 7 winner for 5th place in the Sugar Bowl

January 3rd
Game 6 loser plays Game 5 loser for 3rd place in the Fiesta Bowl

January 7th
Game 6 winner plays Game 5 winner in the National Championship game

You rotate the bowls each year so that each of the four BCS bowls get the title game every 4th year.  If the Rose Bowl wants to keep their Big 10 vs. Pac 12 alliance and will not play along, you insert the Cotton Bowl back into the BCS and the Rose Bowl gets the best remaining teams from those two conferences outside the top 8 BCS ranked teams.  I’ll bet they would change their tune and get on board with the quickness.

Imagine it…  March Madness in December and January for football!  It’s overwhelmingly more compelling and it determines winners and losers on the field rather than in the polls.  It creates more revenue for the schools and conferences involved and NCAA as a whole with the additional games.  If you can’t make the top 8 to get in the tournament, too bad, so sad.  At least then you would have 8 teams with a title shot instead of two in a far more compelling format for the fans and a profitable format for teams, conferences and the NCAA.

This season, my proposed format would leave the Big East and Big 10 out of the tournament and for good reason.  Neither of those conferences featured a bowl eligible team this year that has any business making a case for the chance to compete for a national title.  Again, too bad, so sad.  The saddest is part is that this is the reason why my proposed format will probably never happen.  Even if it is the most fair, the most compelling, the most profitable and the most exciting possible way to play this out.

Cry baby fat cats from bully conferences will likely never let it happen.

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Calimari Strikes (out) Again

It is many people’s fairly fitting and not so affectionate name for arguably the slimiest man in college basketball, John Calipari of Kentucky.  His biggest highlights on the slime-scale were having two of his four Final 4 seasons vacated after the fact (meaning scratched from the record books) for violations ranging from extending improper benefits to players (cash, gifts, etc.) to players having their college entrance exams taken by other people who could actually pass them.  Coach Cal was back at it, to a lesser degree, on Tuesday night.  Being shady… and not very good at it.

As in other times past, he tried to be slick and when it blew up in his face he tried to pretend that he knew nothing about it.  He’s got a system, I’ll give him that.  During the 2nd contest of the 2012 State Farm Champions Classic in Atlanta Tuesday night, Coach Cal’s Kentucky Wildcats took on Coach K’s Duke Blue Devils.  When interviewed at halftime, this was the impromptu highlight from Coach Cal…

“They’re flopping all over the place. In the NBA, they’d all be suspended.”

Sure, Duke has been accused of getting more than their fair share of charge calls over the years… but never by a opposing coach in a halftime interview.  I can’t say that in all the games I’ve seen that I can ever remember a coach griping about officiating, let alone calling out the officials and the other team in a halftime interview.  But it gets better!  After the game Coach Cal said he didn’t remember saying it… then when presented with his exact quote he cut off the interviewer and said, “”It was a joke.  Come on, you guys can take a joke at Duke. Geez.”

He was right about one thing.  It was a joke… and as it turns out, the joke’s on him.  In more ways than one.  Duke won the game 75-68.  There was a good, well written article by Pat Forde for Yahoo! Sports that talks about the incident in more detail.  Including Coach K’s response which was given, but not discussed further in the piece.  I found it much more amusing than the rest of the story.  In fact, it really was “the rest of the story” as the late, great Paul Harvey would have said.  Particularly the final line.

When asked about Calipari’s comments, Coach K said, “I mean, he has a right to say whatever he wants.  I thought we took some amazing charges and probably – I thought we had taken a couple more. There’s a difference between a charge and a flop. A flop means you don’t take any contact. I would hope that anybody that watches the game would say our kids really played outstanding defense and were there to take charges. And we don’t make any money, so we can’t be fined.”

Did you catch that?  Hold on a second… Who said anything about being fined?  Coach Cal said, “In the NBA, they’d all be suspended.”  Yet, Krzyzewski’s response to the “suspended” comment was,  “We (our players) don’t make any money, so we can’t be fined.”  So what are you trying to say Coach K?  Are you suggesting that some team’s players do get paid???

I think I know exactly what he was trying to say, but I’m not sure that most people caught it.  This is not an unintelligent man that has never spoken into an interviewer’s microphone before.  This is Coach K… a college basketball and media savvy mastermind at work.  Guys like Coach K choose their words very carefully when it comes to the media.  It was subtle, it was genius and I have no doubt that it was still burning Coach Cal when he laid down last night, assuming he does have a conscience.  I also have no doubt that other college coaches who know or have a history with Coach Cal couldn’t help but at least snicker when they heard it.

There seems to be one of these idiotic “unwritten rules” like they invented in baseball that applies to college coaches.  They don’t mark each other or rat each other out because payback is a… well, you know.

Coach Cal steamed right up to the S.S. Krzyzewski in broad daylight and fired a cheap shot across its bow.  Coach K responded by quietly remote detonating a smart bomb in the Captain’s quarters of the the S.S. Calimari.  I think a “well played” is in order.

Coaches know.

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Scoop Shovels

A friend of mine posted to facebook today and this is what he said.

“I don’t care about Gen. Petraeus and his affair. That’s his personal business, not mine. I don’t care about Texas wanting to secede from the Union. That’s their business, Mexico can have them back. When is the media going to understand? Most of us just don’t care.”

He’s absolutely right.  What happens in his personal life is his personal life.  I could care less about the details or who the diggers are.  It’s not the issue even though it’s been made the issue.  Not my concern.  I do care about what his exit means.  Was there a potential security breach involved with his extra-curricular activities?  What could be bigger is that General Petraeus will likely never testify about Benghazi… or anything else for that matter.  The Director of the CIA at the time will likely never testify in any hearing on anything because he cheated on his wife?  It’s a cop-out… somebody or some group wanted him out.  I’m not condoning what he’s done.  It seems to me that a lot of people who reside on the side of sexual liberation and what or with who happens behind closed doors is your business all of a sudden jump on the side of the strictest of family values just long enough to determine that this man is such a horrible person and lowlife human being because he had an affair that he is not credible to testify on matters that he was directly involved with as the Director of the freakin’ CIA…  Really!?

On the secession thing there was a comment left that said…

“It kinda reminds me of when I was two…I would threaten to run away….my parents would say “bye..see you when you get back…”..nothing more then a two year old tantrum…if they would stop and think about it…buh bye paved roads (states cannot afford that)…..buh bye public schools (state funding will not be enough)…buh bye federal funding for military bases…military equipment…gone…can you say Mexican drug cartel country..then they can see what a dictator really is… govt. subsidies for farmers…gone…list just grows and grows.”

I think he accidentally makes a very good point.  That we are far too dependent on and beholden to the federal gov’t.  It was never supposed to be that way.

We are blind… and we eat bullshit by the scoop shovel full.

That is all.

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E.ventually M.aybe A. W.inner

When you first see the title above, it seems like it may be a cheap shot at K-Staters… and it is.  But that’s not the point.  I enjoy the back and forth between us Jayhawks and Wildcats for the most part until they get too crazy and then you gotta drop it on ’em.  KU’s football team sucks.  Bad.  It’s embarrassing and not difficult to point out.  Yet State is 25 games down in the football series and there may not be enough years left of civilization for them to catch up in the basketball series.  When all else fails you can remind them that they’ve never won a National Championship.  In anything.  There’s talk of some equestrian national title in the 50’s but for the sake of argument… we’re talking about sports where human beings are the athletes.

The point is… all of that may be changing.  The folks in Wildcat Land have got themselves a football team.  A good one.  They’ve pretty much got all the pieces… somehow.  I’ve heard a couple of K-State fans cheering for Cal to beat Oregon tonight.  To all that Duck bashing I say “No Way!”

Things went exactly how K-State needed them to today and Oregon winning tonight doesn’t change that.  The only team that can keep K-State out of the title game now is K-State since ‘Bama finally got beat.  They’ve got Baylor next week who can’t stop anybody.  Then they get a 13 day break over Thanksgiving and host Texas on Dec. 1st.  As we all know… they own Texas, but this one is different.  K-State probably cost the Longhorns a couple title game appearances over the past several years in games they weren’t supposed to win.  This year they will be a solid favorite coming in and I’m sure that Texas will be looking forward to playing the spoiler role for a change.

Oregon is not going to jump K-State in the polls and I think if the pollsters had their way, Alabama would still be ahead of Oregon although they shouldn’t be.  The ‘Cats will be number #1.  Oregon is getting hammered by the computer rankings right now, sitting at #5.  It points out that computers crunch numbers but do not watch football games.  K-State didn’t look like a great team tonight but they were on the road, a little banged up and playing against a well coached team with a good defense.  It was a game that was not as close as final score shows.

I really, really want to see a KSU vs. O match-up in the title game.  Oregon is purely an offensive machine.  They’re dynamic, athletic and multifaceted.  There’s little they can’t do offensively.  They’re defense is suspect, but their offense has more than made up for that all season long.  Then you’ve got K-State.  The picture of an old school, smash mouth, run it down you’re throat and play solid defense college football team.  I think it’s by far the most interesting match-up possibility for the title game.  The easterners won’t like it and don’t want it, but if K-State and Oregon win out I don’t think it will matter what the folks on the other side of the Mississippi think.

The cognitive, calculating, ball controlling coach against against a fly by the seat of their pants outfit that is a legit top 3 team despite being as much style as they are substance.  Offensively, everybody knows what’s coming from K-State and it makes them easy to prepare for.  So easy in fact, that K-State leads the conference team rushing totals by about 300 yards and 11 touchdowns.  No, they don’t throw the ball a lot but future Heisman Trophy winner Collin Klein is a 70% passer with the best TD/Int ratio in the conference.  They’re defense is solid and really good in the red zone.  They have the #2 and #3 sack leaders in the Big XII in Williams and Davis as well as Zimmerman and Chapman who are tied for 2nd in the Big XII in interceptions.

It all comes down to execution, which comes down to coaching… and they’ve got one of the greatest football minds the game has seen roaming their sideline.  Although roaming is probably not the right term.  I would assume that roaming is frowned upon by a man who is very purposefully precise.

It would be easy to get sidetracked on Bill Snyder, so I think I will…

Truth be told, from the standpoint of his ability and what he’s done where he’s done it, Bill Snyder is easily a top 10 all time college football coach, possibly top 5… but he’s not.  There’s a reason, and it’s a very good reason.  The biggest measuring stick for great coaches and players is championships.  He hasn’t won one.  Until he does, you can’t put him on the top shelf with the best of the best.  But you would get no argument from me on how good a coach he is.  Bill Snyder does more with less than anyone I’ve ever seen in terms of coaching.  If the BCS rankings took into account how many blue-chip athletes you had recruited, K-State would be screwed.  I’ve always wondered if Snyder just isn’t a good recruiter or if that’s the method to his madness.  I still haven’t made up my mind for sure but it seems to me that if they had just a couple more athletes at a couple more spots in years past we wouldn’t still be talking about when Snyder might win a title.

I’ve told some of my KU friends this season… The difference between KU and K-State’s athlete’s would lean toward K-State, but not much more than slightly.  The difference is coaching and as we all can see, it makes a very big difference.

K-State is good and they’ve got a legit shot to win it all and their destiny is now in their own hands.  Just like their coach would want it to be.  I will be rooting for K-State with one foot in the closet the rest of the way.  If they play the last game in January, I’ll be cheering them on.  Despite all those who screamed for Kentucky the 1st Monday of April and for Memphis a couple years before that…  I want to see Bill Snyder win a National Championship more than I want the rest of you not to.  😉

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