Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican debate live blog

I've slacked off on the political commentary, but I've churned out plenty of football live blogs lately. Here's hoping that live blogging translates to more than just the gridiron. I'll update continually throughout CNN's YouTube Republican debate.

9:15 p.m. Final thoughts: Huckabee gained the most from tonight. McCain regained (or at least solidified) some moderate street cred on non-Iraq issues. Giuliani held serve. Paul was, as always, unapologetically himself. Romney and Thompson struggled at times and could have had a much better night. And we're going to hear a lot about immigration from the GOP in the coming year.

9:10 p.m. It's descended to sports talk and bashing of the New York Yankees. Not that I mind those things, of course, but they mean it's as fine a time as any to shut 'er down for the night.

9:06 p.m. Fred Thompson has answered several questions tonight. He cracked a couple of jokes and delivered passable answers, but nothing was particularly memorable. The late entry and lack of on-stage fire are very much reminiscent of Wesley Clark's too-late, unsuccessful 2004 presidential run.

9:02 p.m. Romney manages to twist a question about the Confederate flag into a slam of Democrats in general and John Edwards in particular. Truly a linguistic work of art.

9 p.m. Huckabee goes partisan with a joke about sending Hillary Clinton to Mars. Two minutes later, it's back to bipartisanship with talk of outreach to black and Hispanic voters.

8:52 p.m. Chuck Norris is there. And watching. And waiting.

8:50 p.m. Let's hear some evidence that gay troops "destroy unit cohesion," or whatever the hell the excuse for upholding "don't ask, don't tell" is these days. Facts. Not assumptions or anecdotes, but facts. Booting good soldiers from the military in wartime for no other reason than that they're gay is beyond absurd.

8:40 p.m. MVP of the night: creepy cartoon Dick Cheney.

8:37 p.m. McCain vs. Paul, round two. This time, the crowd turns against Paul as he draws a parallel between Vietnam and Iraq. It's still the Republican debate, after all.

8:32 p.m. McCain closes the exchange with the definitive summation on waterboarding: "Life isn't 24 and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques that are humane and effective."

8:30 p.m. McCain seems disgusted, as he should be, that anyone would think that waterboarding isn't torture. Romney isn't helping himself at all by continuing to dance around the issue.

8:25 p.m. Giuliani complains that none of the Democratic candidates "have used the word 'Islamic terrorism.'" Because if you don't use that exact phrase, you aren't serious about national security, or something. Also, it's two words, Rudy.

8:23 p.m. Two questions from Alabama so far. Represent!

8:18 p.m. Another crowd-pleasing response from Huckabee, this time on whether the Bible is literally true. (Yes, it was one of the questions, and yes, they lobbed it up to the field's resident Baptist preacher.) This guy is winning the debate pretty handily, and his easygoing style would make him dangerous in a general election.

8:16 p.m. Huckabee, after dancing around the question of whether Jesus would endorse the death penalty: "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." Not bad as evasions go.

8:05 p.m. Hunter is glad to tell you about his gun. Very glad.

8:04 p.m. More than halfway through the debate, we've had three questions on gun control and zero questions on the Iraq war. Yep.

7:53 p.m. Huckabee is coming across as the most personable, down-home, aw-shucks GOP contender on stage, and his massive weight loss makes for a humanizing backstory. If he rides his Iowa momentum to bigger and better things, Democrats could have a bigger fight on their hands than they expect.

7:44 p.m. Grover Norquist? They billed this as a debate that allows everyday people to harness the democratizing power of the Internet to ask questions of powerful politicians and then picked a question from Grover Norquist?!?! Way to go, CNN.

7:42 p.m. McCain triggers Godwin's law, raising the specter of Hitler in a discussion of Iraq. The crowd seems split between McCain and Paul on the war. Interesting.

7:40 p.m. Loud cheers for Ron Paul's cry to "bring the troops home!" Louder cheers for Huckabee's cry to "get rid of the Internal Revenue Service!" Loudest cheers for Huckabee's call to scrap the income tax and replace it with a national sales tax. Telling.

7:34 p.m. The 2007 version of John McCain is loose, cracking jokes, talking up fiscal conservatism, and appealing to bipartisan sentiments, just like the 2000 version. Too bad he's tied himself to the wildly unpopular Bush stance on the Iraq war.

7:30 p.m. Mike Huckabee with the crowd-pleasing line of the night thus far: "We're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did." Now he's going after Romney. Meanwhile, a half-hour into the debate, it's still all immigration, all the time.

7:25 p.m. Duncan Hunter won't just build a border fence. He'll build a double border fence, and he'll do it in six months. He'll also get upwards of 1 percent of the primary vote.

7:23 p.m. Tom Tancredo: "All I've heard is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo!" Yep, that's about right.

7:20 p.m. So, um, just who does Fred Thompson regret hiring?

7:15 p.m. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have taken the gloves off already. It's getting very personal, and it's not helping that they're standing right next to each other. Anderson Cooper keeps trying, but he just can't peel them away from each other.

7:12 p.m. The first question is on immigration. Of course it is. It's the Republican debate, isn't it?

7:10 p.m.
All the posing and hand-shaking and cutesy intro packages are finally out of the way. Actual substantive debate -- or some facsimile thereof -- may begin.

7 p.m. The crowd is enthused that more people submitted YouTube questions for the Republican debate than for the Democratic debate a few months ago. I'm not quite sure why, though. As hyped as the last debate was, and as near in time as the primaries are, it'd be a bad sign if there weren't more questions.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's not just an abstract concept

If you were one of the people who voted last year for Alabama's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, take a moment out of your day to visit Birmingham Blues and read this post.

Ask yourself why our state's laws should treat a man in such a dehumanizing way when he's trying to plan the funeral of the person with whom he lived as a spouse and whom he loved more than anyone else in the world. Then ask what you could have done to prevent that travesty, and what you could do in the future to keep it from happening again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday live blog, Vol. 8

It's one of the various rivalry weeks that close the season. It's the year's penultimate edition of the Saturday live blog. (You honestly don't want to hear from me during the Iron Bowl.) And it'll be updated continually throughout the day. Enjoy.

12:25 a.m. College Football Final has drawn to a close, and with it go both the season's 12th week and the live blog's eighth installment. As always, thanks for reading, and Roll Tide anyway.

12:17 a.m. Thank you for making light of Kirk Herbstreit's jaunty little hat, Rece Davis. You bring joy on a day with so little of it.

11:57 p.m. The Tebow hasn't the time to listen to your attempts to find a reason he might not get the Heisman. He's too busy breaking SEC rushing touchdown records -- as a sophomore quarterback.

11:40 p.m. Say what you will about Lou Holtz, but I remember him getting mocked for being on the Kansas bandwagon weeks before it became the trendy thing to do. If I weren't already a temporary Jayhawk, I'd become one just to help Sweet Lou out.

11:33 p.m. From an outsider's perspective, going from LSU to Michigan would be a lateral move at best for Les Miles. But if mama calls, no one could blame him for answering. Either way, it'll be annoying to hear Michigan inserted into every single mention of LSU's national title run in the weeks and months to come.

11:14 p.m. The onside kick falls directly into Red Raider arms, and the upset is complete. It's field-storming time in Lubbock.

11:10 p.m. The Sooners get the ball with under a minute left and immediately complete a 46-yard prayer to the Tech 10. The next play is a touchdown pass with 31 seconds left. This game will not end. Red Raiders, 34-27. Oklahoma + onside kick = endless fun.

11:05 p.m. Oklahoma misses another last-ditch shot at a TD pass. Texas Tech faces the challenge of running off the final 3:10 with little in the way of a running game. This is why football is still on TV four hours after it started.

11:03 p.m. The Sooners have it back deep in Tech territory again with three and a half minutes left. It's officially the only active game left in the country, and it's officially fourth down again.

10:53 p.m. Oklahoma's comeback effort stalls in the left corner of the end zone after the officials rule that what looks an awful lot like a fourth-down touchdown is in fact an incomplete fourth-down pass. Fun fact: Just a few days ago, Mike the Pirate famously griped that Big 12 officiating decisions hurt his team against Texas.

10:46 p.m. BCS nightmare scenario: LSU loses to Arkansas or Tennessee. Kansas and Missouri both go down by the time the Big 12 title game is over. Hawaii wins out to clinch a BCS bowl. West Virginia loses to UConn. Arizona State finishes off USC before falling to its in-state rival in December. And Georgia Tech rises above Chan Gailey equilibrium to topple Georgia. Now, after the dust settles, swallow hard and brace yourself for the strong possibility of an Ohio State vs. Hawaii national title game. Breathe deeply and don't let them smell your fear.

10:25 p.m. Clemson's hopes and dreams for an ACC crown bounce harmlessly in front of the crossbar. What, you thought Tommy Bowden's team would end up with nice things? Have you learned nothing from the past decade of stark disappointment?

10:23 p.m. Except for that monster sack. Now it's a 54-yard field goal attempt that BC will get three opportunities to ice.

10:22 p.m. Down 20-17, Clemson converts on a clutch fourth down with 24 seconds left. A couple of plays later, it's down to 11 seconds with two timeouts in field goal range. No reason this shouldn't at least go to overtime.

10:18 p.m. Pain returns to Death Valley. A Clemson receiver drops a wide-open touchdown pass that would have sent the Tigers to the big show in Jacksonville. Still 38 seconds left.

10:16 p.m. Cincinnati put a late scare into the mountain men, but West Virginia escapes the Queen City with its Big East destiny -- and at this rate, maybe its national title destiny -- in hand. Meanwhile, BC is up on Clemson with a minute left, which probably somehow will lead to Matt Ryan getting the Heisman.

10:03 p.m. Clemson has a chance to achieve a meaningful goal -- an ACC championship game berth -- and isn't cracking under pressure. If you needed a final piece of evidence that we've slid through the wormhole into the parallel universe, there you go.

9:39 p.m. Oklahoma's players are getting injured right and left, its allegedly No. 4 team is getting trounced 34-10, and the ESPN on ABC, etc., broadcasters are joking around in the booth with Bobby Knight. All in all, not a very good night to be a fan of a team wearing red and white. I can sympathize.

9:31 p.m. I've tried to find something noteworthy to say about football in the last half-hour, but it seems Alabama has, at least temporarily, killed my joy for the game, and even Nick Saban's apology to the fans for the sorry performance today didn't bring it back. All it does is remind me of why Saban is apologizing.

9:01 p.m. Oklahoma mounts a drive deep into Red Raiders territory and the Texas Tech defense... holds?!? It's 27-10 with halftime knocking at the door. West Texas will be rocking tonight.

8:46 p.m. South Florida is schooling Louisville in the finer points of getting gored Pamplona-style by a bunch of angry, charging Bulls. It's 41-10, and it's not even halftime yet.

8:37 p.m. Texas Tech 27, Oklahoma 7. More evidence that you shouldn't trust undefeated teams that lack a rich tradition just because they win impressively every week. Besides, their coach weighs a lot. Better to vote for the names you know and trust.

8:33 p.m. ESPN on ABC, etc., just flashed up the following total yardage figures: Texas Tech 226, Oklahoma 38. And that was before the Red Raiders converted on another fourth down attempt. Any of those poll voters want to remind me why the Sooners, who lost at 5-6 Colorado, are so clearly superior to an undefeated Kansas team that won at Colorado?

8:20 p.m. West Virginia, emerging from the twisted, burning wreckage of a firebombed college football season, is casting a dazed look around the barren landscape and asking why it shouldn't get a chance to be king. The Mountaineers are trying out the scepter up in Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats 21-10 at the half.

8:16 p.m. Harrell hits a wide-open Crabtree in the right side of the end zone. Texas Tech, 20-7. Yarr, matey.

8:12 p.m. Oklahoma: a one-loss, top-five national title contender with an injured starting quarterback on the road in a nationally televised night game against a conference rival that plenty of observers have written off for the season. Sound familiar?

7:57 p.m. Amazing, sick cutbacks and speed from Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree puts Mike the Pirate's club at the Oklahoma 1-yard line after a touchdown is called back on review. Quarterback Graham Harrell sets it right on the next play to put the Red Raiders ahead, 13-7. I'm not sure why I'm so transfixed by this game with Boston College-Clemson and Cincinnati-West Virginia available elsewhere, but I'll chalk it up to the combination of Trump and Mike the Pirate feeling so... so cosmically right.

7:47 p.m. Texas Tech is hanging tough with the Sooners midway through the opening quarter. It's 7-6, and the Red Raiders' defense, far from complete system failure, has yet to allow a point to Oklahoma. Trump appearances must be a good luck talisman.

7:16 p.m. Donald Trump has introduced the Texas Tech offense. The Texas Tech offense has delivered a pick-six to Oklahoma on the opening drive. This stuff won't fly on The Apprentice.

6:54 p.m. It's been a football lull for the last 30 minutes or so. The options have been largely limited to Southern Miss-UTEP and Baylor-Oklahoma State. I chose going outside to soak up some night air instead. Indisputably, I made the right call.

6:17 p.m. Around the Big Ten: Michigan State rallied to claim its seventh win and lock up a bowl berth. Indiana saw a 21-point lead over Purdue evaporate, only to grab the Old Oaken Bucket with a last-minute field goal. Wisconsin held on to win a wild one over Minnesota, the best 1-11 rival it has. And Western Michigan improved to 4-7 by sending Iowa back to a .500 record that may not be enough for a bowl in a conference with 10 eligible teams.

5:58 p.m. While I was busy lamenting the Loss of the Century, Vandy was busy coughing up a big lead to Tennessee. A 25-24 comeback win leaves the Vols a game away from winning the SEC East. Both teams went in opposite directions after the Third Saturday in October, but it'd be impossible to tell which one won based on the way they've played since.

5:53 p.m. What's left of space-time stays intact. The Tigers pick off Schaeffer and gets it back deep in Ole Miss territory after a slew of penalties. Look, an LSU game being decided before the last play!

5:44 p.m. Colonel Reb isn't crying yet. The Orgeron sends Brent Schaeffa scurrying to the end zone with the footbaw to cut LSU's lead to 27-17. The space-time hole is weighing its options.

5:42 p.m. Around the ESPN on ABC in HD on TV in the USA family of networks: Kansas is easily taking care of business against Iowa State, something that it should be noted that Oklahoma didn't do until late in the game. Penn State leads Michigan State by three in a land-grant shootout. Virginia Tech is pouring Miami's latest cup of annihilation juice. And over on ESPNU, Wake Forest has a 10-point edge over a surging N.C. State squad.

5:32 p.m. Well, I can't maintain radio silence forever when I've promised continual updates, so here goes. LSU casually has built a 17-point fourth-quarter lead at Ole Miss as it cruises toward the national title. The $2.8 Million Man trails Western Michigan in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame notched a three-touchdown victory over Duke, which ordinarily wouldn't be that impressive except that the Fighting Irish's winning streak is now a full game longer than Alabama's. And the Crimson Tide isn't the only team suffering a season-ending collapse; California, once No. 2 but now staring into the face of its fifth loss in six games, trails Washington by 11 heading into the fourth quarter.

4:45 p.m. Alabama's worst loss of the 21st century -- and likely one of its worst losses of any other century -- is in the books. ULM wins, 21-14, and deserves every bit of it. The Warhawks wanted the win and played hard as hell and got it. Alabama turned the ball over four times and earned the right to lose to a sub-.500 Sun Belt team. Even when Alabama lost to Central Florida and Louisiana Tech and Northern Illinois in the last decade, those teams had good records and were dangerous, bowl-eligible squads. ULM, even after storming out of Bryant-Denny with a win, is still 5-6.

This was an utter disaster for the Crimson Tide, and right now, I don't see how the team can recover emotionally to put up much of a fight in the Iron Bowl. This team is probably going to finish 6-6 with a four-game losing streak. That's bowl-eligible, but it's not bowl-worthy. The rebuilding process will be much longer and harder than anyone ever imagined.

4:14 p.m. Jimmy Johns fumbles. The Warhawks recover. That's Turnover No. 4. Disaster. Distress. Depression. Darkness.

4:10 p.m. Tennessee is about three minutes away from losing to Vanderbilt. Wisconsin is 30 minutes away from losing to Minnesota. And Iowa is 30 minutes away from losing to Western Michigan. None of these things matter, though, because Alabama is six minutes away from losing to Louisiana-Monroe.

4:01 p.m. Official Iron Bowl prediction: Auburn 91, Alabama 3.

3:48 p.m. And Alabama ends the third quarter by 1) stalling out and being forced to try a field goal and 2) allowing the Warhawks to block aforementioned field goal attempt. I thought we got the Nick Saban first-year loss of unspeakable horror (he dropped the homecoming game to UAB in his first year at LSU) out of the way last week, but it's looking more and more like it's coming today. I'm wondering if Alabama will ever win in November again.

3:43 p.m. D.J. Hall is back now? I think I missed something. D.J. didn't, though. That was a big play at just the right time.

3:40 p.m. Touchdown, Warhawks. Late in the third quarter, it's Louisiana-Monroe 21, Alabama 14. This is officially the emotional low point of all of my years as a Crimson Tide fan. Unless it gets even worse. At this rate, it very well might.

3:36 p.m. ULM has driven the ball to the Alabama 6. I have no idea what in the blue hell is going on here. This is abysmal.

3:34 p.m. Coach O gonna put Brent Schaeffa in the game to play the footbaw and he gonna put a hurtin' on 'em, Jo Jo!

3:26 p.m. Alabama survives a serious Warhawk threat to preserve the tie. Seriously. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has a halftime lead. Over Duke. This shouldn't be huge news, but it is.

3:06 p.m. This Duke-Notre Dame game may be the worst thing I've ever seen purporting to be televised football. In fairness, though, Alabama-ULM isn't on TV this week.

2:57 p.m. Tied at halftime in Tuscaloosa. Disgusting. Meanwhile, in news involving SEC teams that aren't struggling with a Sun Belt also-ran, Arkansas is shredding Mississippi State with a balanced offensive attack. Georgia has done all it can to get a trip to Atlanta by knocking off Kentucky. And Vanderbilt is doing its part to make that happen, holding a 17-9 lead as the second half begins.

2:44 p.m. The defense finally holds, only for ULM to get the ball back at the Alabama 40 after the punt bounces off a Tide player's back. How is this the same team that almost beat LSU?

2:32 p.m. ULM methodically powers back down the field to tie it at 14-14. I know what I said about the Sun Belt, but I really hoped it wouldn't start playing out at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

2:25 p.m. Ohio State is going to the Rose Bowl again. Lloyd Carr is probably going to retire with a 1-6 record against the Sweater Vest and an 0-1 record against the Southern Conference. Buckeyes!

2:21 p.m. Terry Grant enters the game and provides a spark. Touchdown, Alabama. It's 14-7.

2:17 p.m. Barry Krause reporting from the sidelines: "The intensity down here is very much lacking." You don't say.

2:14 p.m. Touchdown, ULM. It's tied at 7-7. Not heartening.

2:10 p.m. A Wilson pass slides off the receiver's fingertips to become Interception No. 2. It's returned to the Alabama 1 as the first quarter ends. This would be a really bad day to keep turning the ball over, guys. A loss here could make the bowl bid disappear.

2:01 p.m. Syracuse is 2-8 and down 30-0 to UConn. Why is this on ESPN2 when both Arkansas-Mississippi State and Tennessee-
Vanderbilt are getting no TV love? Aren't Division II playoff games available, too? Get a camera to North Dakota posthaste.

1:58 p.m. Wilson lofts up a bad pass that the opponent snags out of the air. You wouldn't think this sort of thing would keep recurring after almost two years as a starter, but there it is again.

1:52 p.m. I shouldn't question the ways of motivational guru Mark Richt. Georgia has punched in three touchdowns to take control with 5:40 left in the third. Even if the Head Dawg calls for his fan base to show up to the Georgia Tech game in purple clown suits, I'll know better than to crack wise.

1:41 p.m. John Parker Wilson accounts for his first touchdown of the day. In a refreshing change from last week, this one is on the Crimson Tide's behalf. Alabama, 7-0.

1:38 p.m. Eli Gold on a monumental Andre Smith pancake block: "That was Pancake House. That was all of IHOP right there."

1:35 p.m. They've kicked off on senior day in Tuscaloosa. D.J. Hall won't play today due to an unspecified violation of team policy, but hey, Jimmy Johns will play. Eli and Snake will tell me about it.

1:30 p.m. It's not on TV and it's not homecoming, but the Alabama game against Louisiana-Monroe nonetheless is minutes away from kickoff. Why? Because Nick Saban thought it'd help to have a few more hours to rest up for Auburn next week. Further Saban justification: "Is somebody mad? Are we back at LSU now where if you don't play at night, we don't have enough to time to get ready for the game by drinking and eating all day and all that? If that's the case, I'll be glad to do it at night."

1:24 p.m. Michigan quarterback Chad Henne looks to be in excruciating pain, and not just the kind caused by trailing your main rival by 11 at home. You have to wonder how much longer he'll stay in the game with that shoulder flaring up.

1:17 p.m. The following is an actual exchange from the on-field halftime interview of Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Pinkel: "We've just got to play better." FSN reporter: "And how do we do that in the second half?" Ladies and gentlemen, you're watching Fox.

12:54 p.m. It's a classic, old-fashioned, three-yards-and-a-cloud-
of-dust game up in Ann Arbor, where Ohio State leads 7-3 at the half. Meanwhile, in a game that improbably is of enormous national relevance, Missouri and Kansas State have been swapping the lead. Right now, it belongs to the Tigers, 21-15. In other news, Ron Zook's Fighting Illini are whipping Northwestern, and Zook's former nemesis, FSU, is easily handling the Maryland Terrapins.

12:35 p.m. Florida Atlantic is hanging in there with the Gators. Florida's lead is only 28-20 late in the first half in Gainesville. This is just two weeks after Troy took Georgia to the limit between the hedges. Remember when I pegged the rise of the Sun Belt as the shadow story of the season? I stand by that.

12:31 p.m. Dave (and also Dave) occasionally will refer to Dave as "Arch," even though he's just as much of a Dave as they are. Be not ashamed, gentlemen. Be bold. Be proud. Be DAVE.

12:25 p.m. I'd been under the impression that Harvard-Yale would be on WGN again this year. Naturally, though, when I consciously set out to watch a few minutes of a I-AA game, it's nowhere in sight. I have no hostility toward Lizzie McGuire, but the fact remains that she isn't playing for the Ivy League title.

12:18 p.m. Georgia is learning a valuable lesson: Motivational gimmicks lose their significance if you do them every week. After the Bulldogs stomped a mudhole in Auburn last week in the "blackout" game, Mark Richt called for a "red-out" this week. The results? A 10-0 Kentucky lead and a second quarter that just opened with Georgia's third turnover of the day.

11:53 a.m. I wasn't hallucinating when I heard the Coach calling a football game last week, because now he's back again. This time he's behind the mike for what's evolving into a Citadel blowout of VMI. No, I-AA football, you don't get Jim Ross. You don't deserve Jim Ross. You have to earn Jim Ross.

11:45 a.m. Through the benevolence of the artists formerly known as Jefferson Pilot, DAVE has been reunited this week as a single, unstoppable commentating unit. And through a quirk of television contracts, DAVE has ended up with Kentucky at Georgia, the day's marquee SEC game. Dave seems nonplussed about this opportunity, but Dave clearly is glad to be back with DAVE, and Dave barely can wipe the smile off his face. You'd think he just found out that DAVE is calling the Super Bowl. For all I know (and dream), DAVE might do just that.

11:37 a.m. Actually, Kirk Herbstreit, those Michigan seniors probably came back to try to win a national championship, not just to beat Ohio State, but I appreciate the effort.

11:32 a.m. If they're going to go down, Ohio State's backfield at least might want to force Michigan to expend the energy needed to tackle them instead of just sliding to the ground.

11:30 a.m. For the record, any suggestion -- from the Bristol types or otherwise -- that Michigan-Ohio State is the biggest rivalry in college football is completely off-base. The correct answer to that question is Alabama-Auburn, and the reasons are simple: We have to live with each other all year, and it's all we have. Michigan and Ohio State fans largely get to go back to their respective states to live among similarly minded people, and they also have a host of nearby professional sports franchises to divert their attention. In Alabama, though, the Crimson Tide and the Tigers are the sole focus of 12 full months of sports mania. No other rivalry can compete with that. Besides, you get bonus points when neither game participant has lost to a I-AA team.

11:15 a.m. Michigan and Ohio State have kicked off up in the Double A. Buckeyes! already has escaped Brent Musberger's lips at least three times. ESPN on ABC in HD on TV in the USA has made quadruply sure that we know that if five other teams lose and/or get decimated by a falling meteor, Ohio State will be right back there in line for a national title shot. So you most certainly should pay rapt attention to the Buckeyes!

Whither anything not made of pigskin?

One of these days, things will settle down enough to allow a return to regular posts about things that require me to think a little bit. Until then, get ready for more college football.

Yes, the football posts basically have taken over the entire place this fall, but when you look at that "politics and sports" balance as a year-long average, it's not so bad. That's what I'll keep telling myself, anyway. Check back in another day or two if you're here for the political content, and thanks for your patience.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday live blog, Vol. 7

The College GameDay guys are at a Division III school today, but I'm right here. I'll update continually throughout the day.

12:30 a.m. Hawaii is pretty much on cruise control. Oregon State-Washington is a close game that nonetheless fails to move my spirit. San Diego State-UNLV has been mentioned twice now, which is two times too many. College Football Final has drawn to a close. Barring any unforeseen developments, I'm calling it a night for yet another installment of the live blog.

As always, thanks for reading, and Roll Tide.

12:27 a.m. A Nebraska quarterback throwing for 510 yards and seven touchdowns in one game? Where has that been all year?

12:20 a.m. Fun fact of the night: Four of the five highest scoring games in NCAA history have come in 2007. Lou Holtz is right: Global warming is everywhere, and it's on the attack.

11:42 p.m. Lou Holtz to Mark May at the end of a passionate discourse on why Kansas is No. 1: "My dad fought in the war so you can have the privilege to say dumb things." Rant, Lou, rant!

11:28 p.m. Other unfinished business from today: Arizona State survived in Pasadena to keep alive its hopes for a return visit in January. Out of nowhere, N.C. State is a game away from bowl eligibility after a hard-fought victory over North Carolina. It was a good day in Evanston, where Northwestern ensured at least a .500 season. And after a Cyclone-tastic start to the season, the $2.8 Million Man has Iowa back in bowl contention after a narrow win over its 1-10 rival, Minnesota.

11:11 p.m. Around Conference USA: Tulsa controls its destiny in the C-USA West after slamming a 56-7 wrecking ball into Houston. UCF leads the East after East Carolina inexplicably dropped one to 2-8 Marshall. Southern Miss found a way to choke away another game it had no business losing, this time to Memphis. And UTEP seems to be back in its past form, losing by 15 at Tulane.

11:05 p.m. With unidentified debris swirling around the field, as is often the case during Aloha Stadium games, Brennan fires off the 121st touchdown pass of his career to tie Ty Detmer's NCAA record, which is officially living on borrowed time. Hawaii, 31-7.

10:57 p.m. Instead of sending its own broadcasters to Hawaii, ESPN2 is streaming the feed from Fresno State's local telecast. My favorite added touch: This is labeled "bonus coverage" when it's very much a regularly scheduled broadcast. Guess you've got to give credit when it's due, even if that's during the entire game.

10:51 p.m. As we near midnight on the East Coast, three games remain on television. None of them are particularly engrossing -- San Diego State vs. UNLV doesn't exactly scream "must-see TV" -- but I can't say that I've seen much of Hawaii this year, so I'm giving it a shot. Colt Brennan came into the game needing three touchdowns to claim the NCAA record for touchdown passes. He'll probably get that out of the way in the first half.

10:45 p.m. KU wins, 43-28. I'm removing the "interim" from Kansas' No. 1 ranking. Their defense is a little too porous for my taste, and they probably won't end up as the nation's best team, but why not reward perfection at this point in the season? Mark Mangino actually came into this year somewhat on the hot seat. It's safe to say his job is safe for as long as he'd like now.

10:37 p.m. The one-loss teams have taken advantage of weak opposition this week to make their cases for climbing the national title ladder. LSU is cruising over Louisiana Tech, 58-10. Oklahoma shredded Baylor, 52-21. Missouri took down a backsliding Texas A&M squad, 40-26. And Oregon utterly dominated Bye State University without ever leaving its couch.

10:23 p.m. One game is the SEC's premier showdown of the evening. The other is the Pac-10's marquee prime-time matchup. Both are late in the fourth quarter. One game's score is 51-31. The other's score is 24-17. Bet you can't guess which is which.

10:12 p.m. Kansas got that memo about the TPS reports keeping the lead. Todd Reesing fires another TD pass to Marcus Henry. Jayhawks, 40-28. It's not pretty, but what has been this year?

10:07 p.m. Boston College is following the trail blazed by its predecessors: choking away the No. 2 ranking, and then losing again the next week, in this case to a .500 Maryland team striving for bowl eligibility. Play no heed to whatever the rest of the Boston area sports juggernauts may say: If it's good enough for California and South Florida, it's good enough for you, too, Eagles.

10:03 p.m. The Tebow has almost 400 yards of total offense by himself. Florida leads 44-24 with seven minutes to go. Remember when South Carolina was knocking on the door of the top five and the SEC title? It feels like forever and a Vanderbilt ago.

10 p.m. With Ohio State out of the picture, Kansas has a golden opportunity to make a statement tonight. First, though, it might want to work on this "hanging on to a lead" thing. The Jayhawks, once cruising by 19, are now up only 33-28 in the fourth.

9:41 p.m. For some bewildering reason, the Coach is inspired to say he likes Neil Callaway's call for an onside kick when his team is down seven with two minutes and change left. Naturally, the Blazers kick it straight to a UCF player. Moments later, Kevin Smith (the nation's No. 2 rusher, not the guy who gave the world Clerks and Chasing Amy) bursts free for his fourth TD of the game. UCF, 45-31. UAB is still a couple of years away from a breakout season, but it's coming. Tonight was an inspired effort against a team that took Texas to the wire earlier this season.

9:37 p.m. UAB is back within seven of UCF with two minutes and change left at Legion Field. Their record may say 2-7, but the Blazers are much better than a 2-7 team.

9:20 p.m. Brent Musberger is interspersing his play-by-play with questions about peak oil and the national water supply. This is so bizarre that it officially qualifies as postmodern performance art.

9:14 p.m. The score with two and a half minutes to go: Virginia 48, Miami 0. See ya, OB. Literally and metaphorically.

9:10 p.m. The Jayhawks break out a little rock and chalk to go with, well, themselves. Todd Reesing hooks up with Marcus Henry for an 82-yard touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 27-14.

8:59 p.m. The Coach (not) calling a failed UCF fourth-down conversion attempt: "I was actually looking down at my papers." Were Michael Cole and Joey Styles busy tonight or something?

8:52 p.m. UAB is on live television. And only trailing Central Florida by seven. And Jonathan Coachman has taken a break from the pro wrestling world to handle the play-by-play. And yes, the Blazers are only 2-7 this year, but I defy you to find any team whose punter has a more awesome name than Swayze Waters.

8:37 p.m. California-USC is being aired in West Coast oblivion, which means practically no one is getting to enjoy the Golden Bears' throwback uniforms. The Trojans are, though, because they lead the team that's wearing them 14-10 at the half.

8:34 p.m. Hey, don't be blue, Miami! Kyle Wright has connected on seven passes so far. That's six more than your other QB completed last week! I mean, sure, he's also completed three to the other team, but that's not a very optimistic way to look at it!

8:16 p.m. With the lone unbeaten team from a BCS conference locked in a back-and-forth battle on the road, Brent Musberger says he wants to go out eating with Rick Majerus and Mark Mangino. He also sounds like he means it. Buckeyes!

8:13 p.m. Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Sun Belt team that obliterated the Cowboys is now 7-3 after surviving a nail-biter up at Western Kentucky, which I'm guessing is, like every other obscure team in the entire country, better than I think.

8:07 p.m. You wanna come after someone in their own stadium, Kansas? You come after Mike Gundy! He's a man! He's up 14-10! And his age is roughly halfway between 30 and 50!

7:56 p.m. Well, at least someone is sending the OB out in style. Virginia is humiliating Miami 31-0 at halftime. I'm not saying the Cavaliers are both across the ocean and across the city tonight; I'm just saying the Hurricanes might want to consider scoring one more time before their stadium is turned into a pile of rubble.

7:53 p.m. Kansas has looked solid but not spectacular so far in surging to a 10-7 lead at Oklahoma State. Still, as wild as this season has been, if the Jayhawks escape undefeated, they without a doubt would deserve a national title shot. I'm even starting to feel the same would hold true for Hawaii. OK, just kidding. I think.

7:48 p.m. The bad news: Navy's defense surrendered 62 points tonight. The good news: The Middies scored 74. We have a brand-
new highest scoring game in Division I-A history, and they didn't even need overtime to get there. Final combined stats: 136 points, 60 first downs, and 1,315 yards. The Mean Green's quarterback had eight touchdown passes in a loss. Assuming the middies in attendance continued the tradition of a push-up per point after each Navy score, that would be 488 total push-ups during the game. That, at last count, was way, way too many.

7:45 p.m. The Tebow hasn't the time for not plowing down your ESPN cameraman on the sideline. He's too busy getting the lead back. It's 20-14 early in the second quarter as the SEC does its best to become what it used to accuse the Pac-10 of being.

7:31 p.m. It was a touchdown only in the official sense, but that's the only sense that matters. South Carolina finally gets its legs and seizes the lead, 14-13. Defense seems optional in this game.

7:23 p.m. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a time when the Florida Gators had living, breathing running backs who didn't take direct snaps from the center? Perhaps they should look into a return to those days, that they may convert fourth-and-shorts.

7:03 p.m. The Tebow is making South Carolina's defense look absolutely silly. Florida leads 13-0 after a missed extra point. I should mention they're four minutes into the game in Columbia.

6:58 p.m. After an epic drive, the Cavaliers are up 14-0 down at the OB. Did I mention I also never mind seeing a Miami loss? Can't imagine what would have prompted that sentiment...

6:50 p.m. Miami is playing its very last game ever in the Orange Bowl tonight. As dilapidated as it's become, the stadium is one of the most historic places in American football, and it'll be sad to see it go when city officials have it bulldozed next year. Virginia is ahead 7-0 right now, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Hurricanes win to send the place out in style. Now then, don't say I've never said anything nice about Miami.

6:38 p.m. Is it wrong that I'm super-geeked about seeing Kansas play tonight? Part of it is that the Jayhawks are the last real hope for a national champion that could fit the dominant champion mold. Part of it is that I get to hear Brent Musberger call a national broadcast less than two hours after the Buckeyes! went down to defeat. Part of it is the legitimate question of whether a team that got annihilated by Troy can knock off a title contender. And part of it is, of course, that Mike Gundy is a man! He's 40!

6:19 p.m. Virginia Tech's defense has turned on the turbo jets against FSU, notching that rarest of all scoring plays: the safety. The Hokies have rolled off 20 unanswered points since the Seminoles took a lead that was not long for this world.

6:08 p.m. It took every available second, but Brandon Cox slipped in that fourth INT against Georgia. Again. Buckeyes!

6:03 p.m. Turnover on downs for Auburn. That'd be Georgia, 45-20. No revenge for the Tigers this year. Meanwhile, while you weren't looking, Mississippi State became the second-best team in the SEC West. Bet you didn't call that one on Aug. 30, huh?

5:47 p.m. They're nearing the fourth quarter in Denton, where Navy has clawed its way to a 65-56 lead over the Mean Green in a defensive battle. Sooner or later, the offenses have to get in gear.

5:38 p.m. Uga VI tries to take a bite out of a guy on the sidelines. Two plays later, Georgia is in the end zone for an 18-point lead. A win tonight would make the Bulldogs undefeated since 1996 in games where their mascot has briefly reverted to primal self.

5:27 p.m. Goodbye, final minute of game clock. Goodbye, perfect Ohio State season. Goodbye, overrated Big Ten team in the national title game. Hello, classless post-game fight. Buckeyes! I'm officially naming Kansas the interim No. 1 team for a few hours, unless or until Mike Gundy proves that he's a man! He's 40!

5:20 p.m. There is no excuse for Georgia to have lost a game this season. None. Moreno is an absurdly fast and powerful runner. He looks better than Darren McFadden tonight.

5:17 p.m. Florida State, fresh off smacking around Boston College on the road, has just taken the lead at Virginia Tech. I no longer feel empty inside upon thinking about Alabama losing to Florida State. I can't say that about certain other Alabama losses.

5:15 p.m. Brandon Cox lofts up his own attempt at an Error of Unspeakable Horror, and Georgia gladly snags it. The Bulldogs have it near midfield as the third quarter begins to run out.

5:08 p.m. Sick, sick cutback on that Knowshon Moreno TD run. Georgia reclaims the lead, 24-20. Elsewhere, Illinois clings to a seven-point edge over THE Ohio State University.

5:05 p.m. Cincinnati leads Connecticut heading into the fourth quarter, 20-3. The universe of people who care consists of the people in attendance plus maybe a small percentage of the residents of those places. And some folks in West Virginia, where their team is about to claim a tie for the Big East lead. Hide your couches and crank up the John Denver tonight.

4:52 p.m. Halftime score: North Texas 49, Navy 45. The teams have combined for 36 first downs and more than 800 yards in the first half. Even PlayStation stat lines don't look like that.

4:48 p.m. Worthy of note: Auburn has rallied to tie Georgia at 17-17. This is not exactly an auspicious development relative to Alabama's chances of success in the Iron Bowl.

4:46 p.m. Not even NBC's green peacock logo can help Notre Dame. Midway through the fourth, Air Force is doubling up the Irish, 34-17. It's not necessarily that I agree entirely with this Slate article -- but I understand.

4:43 p.m. Four touchdown passes for Juice Williams. It's 28-14 for the Illini. Let's check in with Brent: "Buckeyes!" Thanks, Brent.

4:35 p.m. Illinois picks off Todd Boeckman in the end zone to halt what was shaping up as a lengthy Buckeyes touchdown drive. With this and Matt Ryan's meltdown at Boston College in the last two weeks, Heisman voters might have to back someone other than the quarterback of an overrated top-five team. Like Oregon's Dennis Dixon, whose top-five team isn't overrated.

4:22 p.m. Kentucky-Vanderbilt is the only conference game not being televised from the SEC today. So of course it would shape up as the most interesting game of the day. Yes, in football. The Wildcats have taken a 27-20 fourth-quarter lead as they look for their first win since last month's LSU upset. The Commodores are looking for another victory to become the SEC's 11th bowl-eligible team. In this wacky year, though, it'll probably take seven wins to cinch a bid. That means Vanderbilt could well qualify for a bowl for the first time in most of its students' lives but not get to go. And here you were thinking there were too many obscure bowls.

4:04 p.m. Juice Williams has connected on a third touchdown pass. The Illini have a 21-14 halftime lead in the No. 1 team's house. I hesitate to mention it in fear that it will flutter away like an endangered butterfly not meant for this world, but there it is.

3:53 p.m. Of course UCLA is winning against a top-10 team. Did you expect any different? Were you deterred by those three losses to teams that are a combined 8-20? Well, you shouldn't be. It's a game the Bruins aren't solid favorites to win, which means it's a game they can win. Don't ask questions. You won't get answers.

3:44 p.m. Neither Navy nor Notre Dame has rebounded well from that triple-overtime battle last week. The Midshipmen are down 21-3 early to a bad, bad North Texas team, while the Irish trail Air Force 24-10 at home, despite starting their 37th different quarterback for the 12th time this year.

3:37 p.m. Touchdown, Bulldogs! This time, I don't feel sick inside when I hear it. Georgia leads Auburn, 17-3, in black jerseys that I must say are quite a stylish addition to the uniform repertoire.

3:34 p.m. Illinois' Juice Williams has completed a forward pass. For a touchdown. Twice. Against that vaunted Ohio State defense. It's tied at 14-14. And now the No. 1 team in America is punting again. Cue the Brent Musberger soundboard: "Buckeyes!"

3:15 p.m. And we're back. Let us never again speak of the horror we just witnessed. Let us instead speak of other horrors. Horrors like the 73-31 vengeance that Nebraska is extracting from Kansas State, a perfectly good team that just happens to have the word "Kansas" in its name. Or horrors like Colorado, the only squad to beat Oklahoma this season, dropping one on the road to 3-8 Iowa State. Or horrors like 10 of the 11 members of the Big Ten being bowl-eligible, even though the conference still could crown a champion that lost to a I-AA team next week. (Yes, even after the loss to Wisconsin.) Let us contemplate no other brand of horror, most especially the brand that occurred in rural Mississippi.

2:43 p.m. And it ends in the most fitting way possible: with Wilson holding on to the ball too long and then getting sacked. Mississippi State wins. Again. Um, yeah, excuse me for a minute.

2:40 p.m. Finally a defensive stop. Alabama gets the ball with 38 seconds left, no timeouts, and no effective passing game today. This should be fun. Excruciating, agonizing fun.

2:34 p.m. MSU gets another first down. On a draw. On third-and-
10. Alabama deserves to lose if it's going to allow things like that. One more timeout, not that it really matters.

2:30 p.m. Mississippi State is running out the clock with a one-score lead. This hasn't happened since... well, last year. The Bulldogs are winning ugly, but they are, in fact, winning.

2:24 p.m. Leigh Tiffin is Alabama's lone bright spot on the day. Again, words I never thought I'd use and mean. MSU, 17-12.

2:23 p.m. Wilson takes off running on third-and-14. Why? Why?

2:20 p.m. The good news: Alabama is getting the running game going. The bad news: The passing game has been practically nonexistent. Wilson just now went over 100 yards on the day.

2:13 p.m. Alabama starts the drive in Bulldogs territory. Wilson throws it away three straight times. Punt. State is in the offense's head. Croom's guys look like they're going to win this one again.

2:08 p.m. Ryan Mallett hits a diving Adrian Arrington in the end zone to cut the Wolverines' deficit to two. The Michigan comeback begins. It'd be nice if the Alabama comeback would.

2:02 p.m. You know who I'm glad isn't here to have to see this right now? Dave. Also, to a lesser extent, Dave.

1:59 p.m. We're a quarter away from LSU having to share the Alabama state championship with Mississippi State. This is something that should never happen under any circumstances. And yet, because 2007 is what it is, it's very much real.

1:56 p.m. Well, the game almost ended there. By a few millimeters, Nick Johnson's fumble rolls out of bounds to allow Alabama to stay alive. This is not at all promising.

1:53 p.m. Around the blowouts: Tennessee has shut down the Arkansas running game and leads 27-6 over on Rocky Top, where the other two-thirds of DAVE is hanging out. Clemson has begun its annual rally to close the season strong, beating down Wake Forest 37-10 in the fourth quarter. And this season is bizarre enough that, for once, it's quite unexpected to see Nebraska annihilating Kansas State 38-10 in the third quarter.

1:49 p.m. Oh, great, Wilson gets to start a possession at his own 1-yard line? Surely this will end well.

1:47 p.m. MSU is playing smart, smart, ball-control football. Just milk the clock and wait for the other team to make silly mistakes. It has the Bulldogs up by eight late in the third quarter.

1:35 p.m. Rage. Numbness. Numb with rage. Feelings, words... They fail me. It's Shulaball all over again over in Mississippi.

12:59 p.m. Never mind, I do know what happened. It was the Official John Parker Wilson Error of Unspeakable Horror. A hundred yards later, Mississippi State leads, 10-9.

12:56 p.m. OK, Alabama is at the Bulldogs 1 with 27 seconds and a timeout left. The 1-yard line. If this one doesn't end up in the end zone, I officially won't know what's happening here.

12:53 p.m. MSU vaults a promising Alabama drive into the red zone with a late hit on John Parker Wilson. Both head coaches are enraged for different but slightly nebulous reasons.

12:44 p.m. Sylvester Croom watches game film. How do I know this? He's done whatever is necessary to kick away from Javier Arenas all day. This might seem an obvious strategy, but certain orange-clad and tight-hat-wearing coaches missed the memo.

12:41 p.m. It's bend-but-don't-break defense for Alabama today. Late in the first half, MSU gets in on the field goal festival with one of its own. Tide, 9-3. The fundamentals look good for Alabama's defense, but the offense just hasn't finished a drive yet.

12:38 p.m. Rashad Johnson has been lights out today. Huge interception at the start, and a big-time play to break up a deep pass just now. Hope I'm not cursing it by mentioning it.

12:31 p.m. Your first-half MVP: Leigh Tiffin. Now there are words I never thought I'd type in earnestness. Alabama still can't find the end zone but stretches the lead to 9-0.

12:28 p.m. The remaining Dave just suggested that the second quarter is winding down. Ten minutes remain in the second quarter. See what happens when you surround a Dave with a bunch of non-Daves? Please don't ever let this happen again.

12:26 p.m. I really don't like it when I hear cowbells. And I really don't like it when I see an artist-formerly-known-as-JP game that comes without my full complement of Daves. But I really do like it when I see Alabama in the red zone. Maybe we can turn it into a touchdown this time.

12:18 p.m. Michigan has scored to break the streak of utter Wisconsin domination that has constituted the first half thus far in Madison. The Badgers still lead, 17-7. Whenever I check in, I keep hearing the broadcasters call the name of Wisconsin receiver Paul Hubbard. As an avid follower of Alabama politics, this never fails to result in split-second disorientation.

12:14 p.m. Not the best first quarter I've seen, but not the worse, either. At least Alabama isn't wholly unprepared for the game, as it was under past coaches who shall remain nameless.

12:09 p.m. A pooch punt! Yeah! That'll show us, Sly! Thanks.

12:04 p.m. Carroll isn't quite as rattled as he was half an hour ago. That probably has something to do with him being in the shadow of the red zone. The defense needs a stand here.

11:53 a.m. A 51-yard field goal? Where has this Leigh Tiffin been? I'm hating the lack of touchdowns, but I'm loving the dead-center perfect for a change. Alabama, 6-0.

11:42 a.m. Mississippi State's offense looks scared and confused thus far, too. Alabama promptly broke Wesley Carroll's string of passes without an interception, but a couple of dropped and errant passes meant the Tide only turned it into a field goal. Alabama, 3-0. Time to keep the momentum going.

11:30 a.m. I don't start these things sooner than kickoff of the Alabama game whenever the Crimson Tide starts playing before noon, and things are no different today. Except on television, that is. Lincoln Financial has a split telecast today, and where there should be three Daves, I only see one. They've separated DAVE, ladies and gentlemen. Who's going to fill the time between the Daughtry promos now? I'm so scared and confused.

The down home news compendium

What have I learned from the last couple of weeks? For one thing, I've found I shouldn't make any sort of promises as to how frequently I'll post around here. For another, I've realized that the Alabama political world is just as sublimely bizarre as it was at last check. Some highlights:
  • After decades of back-and-forth squabbling, our state's water wars with Florida and Georgia ended once and for all last week -- at least for a week, until Florida called off the ceasefire due to concerns for the state's mussel and human populations. Their governor also appears to be the only one of the three who hasn't publicly called for prayers for rain. Coincidence? It's called giving peace a chance, guys.
  • Attorney General Troy King seems to need to appear in headlines at least once a week, no matter what it takes. Call for parole to be abolished without suggesting where to get the money for the extra prisons that would necessitate? Check. Ask a judge to bar a district attorney from testifying on behalf of the AG office's position? 10-4. Talk about how his office will do "everything they can" to keep former Gov. George Wallace's shooter in a Maryland prison, even when Alabama officials obviously can do nothing about it? Yep.
  • State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb -- last seen associating her name with the governor's race in between bouts of not doing much of note in the Legislature -- has emerged as the early favorite for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. But don't worry, political wonks: Fob James' son may well be along to make a race of it yet. And the Democrats might even decide not to forfeit their shot at a rare open seat.
  • State Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale -- he of "bury the gay books" fame -- spoke to a meeting of his local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. No, really. Gotta commend the fearlessness, if nothing else.
  • The state's political future is bright. SGA leaders at the University of Alabama have launched a research group on an issue of utmost importance: getting the school a live elephant for football game days. An enormous, living, breathing elephant that would have to live somewhere, and that presumably would demand its own private dorm bathroom and no suitemate. At least one freshman was skeptical: "You can't just throw an elephant in the middle of the Quad. It has to be thought through."
Given that it's the only thing I've managed to update with any sort of regularity around here, why not do another Saturday live blog? It's next. Hope you enjoy it.