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Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Pro Bowl Sunday...

...and I don't give a damn.

It's long been my belief that the Pro Bowl is the most worthless and least watchable of the major sports' all-star games. Here are five reasons why I don't give a damn about the NFL's Pro Bowl

1. It doesn't mean a thing. Admittedly, this is a criticism that could be leveed on any of the all-star games (except the MLB).
2. It defies the nature of the sport. NFL is, by definition, a collision sport. No one's putting their bodies on the line for an exhibition game, and as a result, the game is decidedly soft.
3. The timing. Instead of midseason like most all-star games, the NFL plays theirs at the end of the season. With its current placement between conference championships and the Super Bowl, athletes on the Super Bowl teams don't participate. With its previous placement after the Super Bowl, I had already, reluctantly, resigned myself to the end of football, and an exhibition wasn't going to bring me back.
4. It's in Hawaii. Except last year when it was in Miami. Either way, call me a hater, but I don't need to watch a bunch of millionaires have fun in the sun.
5. The skills competition. In both baseball and basketball, I actually enjoy watching the skills competitions--specifically the home run derby and dunk contest, respectively--more than I do the actual game. What does the NFL have? Wideouts catching balls from jugs and an obstacle course. No thanks.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Branching Out

So folks, I'm branching out a bit in this internet-presence thing. The 80 Minutes of Regulation you all know and love will remain right here, but there are a couple of other places you can find me:

-On Twitter, at @80mins
-On Facebook, 80 Minutes of Regulation
-Podcast - I can actually be found now on the iTunes store; search the podcasts for 80 Minutes. If you want to listen but not commit, check it out here.

Just a final note on the podcast: I pointed you in the direction of the BlogTalkRadio program, and of course you've heard the audio blogs/podcasts I've posted here. This includes both of those and will be the home for any new material.

Thanks for reading/listening!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How could I forget?

A half hour before showtime, and I realize that I did not promote the 80 Minutes (Give or Take) podcast, a direct offshoot of this blog, ON this blog. I'll be recording from 12-12:30pm ET on Saturday, 1/22/2011. If you don't catch it live, the recording will be available as well. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's in a Logo?

When things were still shifting (and who's to say they've stopped?) with regards to conference realignment. Now that the dust is settling, I've been seeing how conferences choose to forge their new identities, most prominently--because they've been the most bombastic about it--the Big Ten. There was plenty of publicity for the Leaders and Legends division names, but a bit less for the new conference logo.

At the left is the old conference logo; I think that there's brilliance in its simplicity. "Ten" as a word, not a number, de-emphasizes its inaccuracy, while the "11" silhouette alludes to the true number of teams in the conference. The thought was that when it came time to revamp the logo, a play on this same them would continue.

And it did... sort of? While it's clear the intent was to go numerical again, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be reading into this. The I is a 1, clearly, but the G is... a 0? a 6? The 0 would be both redundant and inaccurate, while a 6 could be foreshadowing. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.

Of course, it wouldn't be the internet if there weren't a community of folks who think they can do it better and quite frankly, I think many of them are right. I came across this contest on where artists put forth their own interpretations of the Big Ten conference logo. Many chose to embed the "12" in the logo, and quite a few did it well. I think this one is my favorite, and I wouldn't be mad at all to see it adopted by the conference. 
My favorite submission, by waqqas
One design in particular set off my drum corps radar, however; I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Big Ten logo submission by Awais

Logo of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, Canton, OH

Sunday, January 16, 2011

80 Minutes Podcast - DCI Tour and Rules Changes

Alright, I'm gonna stop the technicalities and call it a podcast. Ahead, I talk about the upcoming DCI tour and this year's proposed rules changes.

Click here to listen.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pay for Play?

Blogger's note: Interestingly enough, this started as notes for another audio blog. But when time ran short this afternoon to record/post it before I needed to do some things, and when I realized it read more like a post than an outline anyway, I figured I'd just blog it.

There have been quite a few high-profile cases regarding the receipt or alleged receipt of compensation by student athletes this past fall. Among them, the most high-profile was clearly Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Cam Newton, but there was also Georgia’s AJ Green, who sold a game-worn jersey (initial reports suggest it was to an agent) and Ohio State’s Terrelle “I Paid For My Tats” Pryor, and four of his teammates, who sold awards related to their playing at Ohio State.  In each case, the actions had the potential to lead to consequences and threaten the eligibility of the players in question, and in two of the three cases I just mentioned, there were penalties leveed in the form of missed games. The Ohio State situation was most curious: those athletes will begin their suspension—assuming they are true to their word to Jim Corleone Tressel and return for their senior season—this coming Fall. They were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl, which in my opinion is related to the fact that everyone in a position to potentially discipline them: Tressel, the University, the Big Ten, and the NCAA—stood directly to benefit from them playing in that game.

I’ve never been one to believe that student athletes should be paid for their services, and don’t expect that I ever will be. I think every effort should be made to keep athletes from getting  into bed with agents or anyone representing the pro side of the game. But I’ve always maintained that the rules as they regard booster interaction and compensation should be examined and potentially relaxed. The fact that a coach risks sanctions for buying a player a cheeseburger borders on insanity, and it’s always been ridiculous to me that if, for example, you recruit a poor kid from Florida to a Midwestern program, the ability for anyone to pay for him to even visit home now and again does not exist. I think some things need to be put in place so that everything is above-board and above-ground, but common sense should prevail. And in the case of students selling things that belong to them? To me, once it’s your property, you can do with it as you will.

One final note on this: Professionally, I work in higher education, and I have a HUGE belief in college and its transformative nature. As such, it’s long been my argument that free access to a world-class education and near-endless resources related to its pursuit certainly qualify as payment for students-athletes’ services on the field or court.  But my continued thought has led me to this conclusion: Many of the young men in question—and I say young men because we are almost exclusively talking football and men’s basketball here—would not be attending college if not for their particular athletic skill. I liken it to reparations, and this is by no means to draw a parallel between college athletics and slavery, but merely to make a point. Now if I were alive a century and a half earlier and proposed reparations had taken place, I would have been granted 40 acres an a mule. That’s an excellent start—land upon which to erect a homestead, plenty to farm, and a beast of burden to assist in the process. Here’s the thing: I—and we’re talking 20th and 21st century Curtis—wouldn’t know a damn thing to do with it. I grew up in the city. I don’t know a thing about farming. So while something of great value would have been bestowed upon me, to me it’s just shy of worthless. So while these student athletes have access to something of great value, do they see it the same way?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Championship Observations

Last night is always one that's bittersweet. One the one hand, it was the culmination of another year of college football, and a champion was crowned. On the other hand, of course, it means we're 233 days away from the next college football games. Auburn, of course, took this year's crown (the cynic in me says: For now.) But a couple other things that were notable takeaways from last night's game:

-In the history of the BCS, this is the first championship game in which neither team represented a school with a shade of red as a color. And no, Auburn's orange is not a shade of red. Scarlet, garnet, crimson, and cardinal, however, are.
-With Auburn winning, pairs of in-state rivals have held consecutive championships in both college football and college basketball: Carolina and Duke in basketball, and Alabama and Auburn in football.
-While Nike's flagship (Oregon) competed in this year's championship game, UnderArmour, in its first foray into the game via the Auburn program, got the win. I've got a strange attachment to UA, perhaps as a Marylander-by-marriage, alum of a Maryland school (I sit here in my UMBC UnderArmour hoodie as we speak) and alum of a UA program at USF.

Well, that's all she wrote this season, folks. Now iI turn my attention to what remains of the NFL season (sans Eagles) and college hoops.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Athletes of the Year

If I had thought of this any sooner than, oh, say, five minutes ago, I would have included it in my year in review. Based on a recent conversation with Chris, I felt the need to recognize a couple of athletes. And while the theme won't necessarily always be athletes that faced adversity and caused controversy, that certainly seems to be the case this year. So for 2010, I wish to recognize:

Michael Vick
While his season ended last night, Michael Vick put on a helluva show this year in Philadelphia as the backup-to-starting quarterback. There may be some who read this and can't even stomach it because of his recent past, but Michael Vick is a man who, while he did some horrendous things, served his time and seems to be legitimately trying to make amends, but in terms of his image and his action. The maturity that seems to have been brought about by his time in prison and subsequent bankruptcy seems to have carried over onto the field--post incarceration Vick is light years better as a passer than pre-incarceration Vick. Even in his Twitter presence (which, and I don't know why, just feels like it's really him), Vick seems like a man trying to make amends.

Ron Artest
I've really never had much reason to think about Ron Artest. I saw the Malice in the Palace like everyone else, but after that I really didn't think much about him until recently. Sure I'm aware of his rap career (?) and his NBA career between then and now, but he really came back onto the radar with this past year's Lakers championship. Now I can't stand the Lakers, but Artest thanking his hood and his psychiatrist struck a nerve with me. In a fairly quick and innocuous statement, Artest told us all both that he knew where he came from, and that he needed some help to get to where he is today, which I found quite admirable. But that's not all: Artest has been active in speaking on mental health awareness, and he even announced that he is selling his championship ring to raise money to combat mental illness.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2010 Year In Review

Alright, we're nine days in, but I'm giving you my sports/band year in review for 2010, as I did last year. I figure I'll keep the same categories, which were Live Events, Biggest Surprises, and Looking Forward to in 2011.

Live Events
I got the opportunity to take in quite a few things live this year, and of course there's nothing like being there in person. Here are my tops, in chronological order:

Tour of Fenway Park - This was actually my second time touring the hallowed grounds; I was at a conference in Boston this February, and, like I did four years prior, I took in the tour of Fenway. It's pretty much visiting a museum.

ACC Women's and Men's Basketball Tournaments - Both ACC basketball tournaments were here in Greensboro this year. I've done the women's tourney a few times before; this time around I went with coworkers on Mascot Night. The men's tourney boasts being notoriously difficult ticket, with sales only being done through member institutions, but my friend Josh and I decided we'd take a trip to the parking lot and see what we could see. We were able to get our hands on some tickets for a pretty good price, and we caught a double headed which included the Terps' game--Josh is a UMCP alum, and I, of course, am a part-time fan.

Preakness - This isn't one I think I would have necessarily seen myself doing, but I'm glad I did. As Megan and I were planning to make a trip up to MD to take care of some of the wedding details, it just so happened it was Preakness weekend. At that point I planned to make the Sport of Kings part of the bachelor party festivities. I got in my Derby Day attire (although take note, the Preakness is NOT the Kentucky Derby for all vis-a-vis attire) met up with my brother and cousin, and had a grand ol' time in the infield. It may be a feat I repeat at some point.

Honeymoon - Yes, I had a great honeymoon, but it's typically not the sort of thing that would find its way into this blog. The honeymoon trip had several applicable stops, however; my wife and I took an Alaskan cruise and then a cross country drive from Seattle back to NC. Stops included a tour of Wrigley Field (went nicely with the earlier tour of Fenway) and the pro football and college football Halls of Fame, as well as poking around Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and seeing Touchdown Jesus in South Bend.

Punkin Chunkin - I don't know if this counts as a sporting event, and frankly, I don't care. Megan and I made the trip up to Slower Lower Delaware for the annual fall classic, World Championship Punkin Chunkin. This one's definitely going to be a return trip, and we'll be more up on the tailgating gear next time around as well.

Coach K passes Dean Smith - I spoke about this one here, but despite root again him and an undying hatred of Dook, it was cool to be there as history was made.

Meineke Car Care Bowl - Full account of the Bulls' bowl victory here. Go Bulls! \m/

Biggest Surprises
Three teams in the NCAA soccer tourney - none of these is surprising by itself, as UMBC, UNCG, and USF all fielded decent squads this year, but it was cool from my standpoint to have three teams make the postseason.

USF over Miami - Not unlike last year's victory over FSU, it was no surprise to anyone who was paying attention that this could take place, but the strength of what it means in the state is undeniable. Like last year, the coach lost his job, but unlike with FSU, we have an annual series with Miami. It could happen again, and could even spawn a rivalry.

One win away from 0-for-Fall 2010 - it took until December 30th for either UNCG or UMBC to notch a victory this season. UMBC still holds onto that one, while UNCG remains winless. Again, nothing spectacular independently, but combined? Damn.

Looking Forward to in 2011
The birth of my daughter - Does it tie into my blog? Not exactly, but I can't help but post it as something I'm looking forward to in 2011. At some point I'll get into some of the specific thoughts I've given to raising her with respect her own fandoms and what-not, but I will say that she's already got Eagles, Ravens, and Orioles gear waiting for her.

UMBC lacrosse at UNC - March 5, the Dawgs'll be playing the back half of a home-and-home at Carolina, and I'll make my way out to Chapel Hill to see them. Also notable is the matchup the following week vs. Hopkins at M&T Bank Stadium, but I'll be watching this one at home.

There you have it--happy 2011!

Fun with Numbers - Bowl Edition

With the bowls nearly completed (only the Blue Box Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and BCS Championship game remain) we are now at a point where we can look holistically at what transpired this bowl season and use it to extrapolate something about the conferences. Yes, I know that bowl records don't tell the true conference vs. conference story, but much as in-season out-of-conference games, they are a basis for comparison.

I figured in doing the tallies, I'd focus on BCS auto-qualifying conferences playing one another. Surely playing non-AQs is just a resume padder, right? Actually, non-AQs are currently 3-2 against AQ competitors, and the best the AQs can do is pull even as Boston College plays Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl tonight. Both the SEC and the Big Ten have losing records vs. non-AQs; UCF over UGA and TCU over Wisconsin, respectively, though the latter, played in the Rose Bowl, really shouldn't count. And my internalized Big East oppression was telling me that surely our conference had the most games against non AQs; actually, the Big East only had one (Louisville over Southern Miss in St. Pete) where the ACC is already 1-1 (College Park over ECU; Air Force over Georgia Tech) with one (Fight Hunger) yet to be played.

So with the non-AQs teased out, the records are:

ACC 3-3 (includes Miami loss vs. Notre Dame) .500
Big East 3-2 .600
Big Ten 3-4 .429
Big XII 3-5 .375
Pac-10 2-1 .667, with Oregon still to play
SEC 4-4 .500, with Auburn still to play

Friday, January 7, 2011

To Hell With ESPN

This is my second audio blog; I felt the need to talk this one out. Click Here to give "To Hell with ESPN" a listen!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Strike (up?) The Band

One thing I have looked forward to each bowl season is the showing of at least a portion of each band's halftime show during the BCS games. During the past few years, Fox, who televised most of the BCS, made it a point to show some of each pregame or halftime. That, coupled with the fact that the Rose Bowl has always forced its carrier to show the bands, meant that I would get a legitimate look at all ten BCS bands. Fox's coverage wasn't the best, but it was something. That's all changed, and I'd like to thank--and by thank I mean curse--ESPN.

The Worldwide Leader has the BCS back, and honestly, I was excited by this fact. As far as football coverage is concerned, I trust ESPN more than Fox, who doesn't typically show a single college football game all season. Fox's coverage always left some to be desired, so when the contract changed hands, I was excited. Be careful what you wish for. There was indeed a change in coverage, but it wasn't all good.

When Fox took on the BCS, they made a commitment to show each band. I don't know what their impetus for this was; it could be that this was the way they said to themselves that they weren't showing pro games. It could be that since ESPN had the Rose Bowl, which has always shown bands, Fox felt the need to keep up with the Joneses. Whatever the reason, I loved that it was there. I was hopeful it would continue with ESPN, but it is clear that they are only committed insomuch as the Rose Bowl forces them. Beyond that, they don't give a damn, and that bothers me.

True enough, my sample size thus far is small. So far three BCS bowls have aired; the first is the Rose Bowl. During the Fiesta Bowl there was no band coverage, and while the Orange Bowl has a performer (Goo Goo Dolls this year) do halftime, bands do pregame, which was not shown. I'll know a little more with tonight's Sugar Bowl but I'm not hopeful. It wouldn't surprise me if they show Ohio State's band--ESPN has already shown they have a hard-on for Script Ohio--but if you can't show 'em all, spare me. At least Fox still has the Cotton Bowl; here's hoping they show the Golden Band from Tigerland and the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Just a quick note: Over the coming weeks/months, I'm going to be doing some playing with my online presence. Rest assured, this blog isn't going anywhere, but I actually dropped the piece I'm about to share here over on Tumblr first. I figured I'd bring it over here to give it some burn.

Of Fan and Band Behavior —or— This I Believe (no Cadets)

Having attended a couple of high(er)-profile games in the last week, I was reminded of a few rules of fandom and band-dom that I personally hold to be self-evident. Many of these only come into play when you have a critical mass of both teams’ fanbases and bands present, but I personally hold them to be tenets of good sportsmanship, bandsmanship, and fair play.

  • There are two (or more) songs each school holds dear: The fight song and the alma mater. The fight song, of course, is the team’s battle cry, and because your team is doing battle with the team across the field, you owe it no respect. But the alma mater is the anthem of that particular school, its students, alumni, and supporters. It should be respected. I usually at least remove my hat even for the other team’s alma mater, though I recognize that’s not commonplace. At the very least, ignore but don’t disrupt. Starting chants, cheering, or playing over a school’s alma mater is supremely disrespectful.
  • When YOUR fight song plays, sing along, clapa along, cheer along… at least acknowledge its presence.
  • When the near-sole battle being attended is the game itself (in other words, this excludes battle of the bands situations), and the game takes place at a neutral site or in a tournament situation, the band of the team that wins has earned the right to sound the final note. Typically, both bands will play the fight song as time expires. What occurs after that is between the two bands, but the winning band’s alma mater should be the last thing you hear.
  • As the opposing team takes the field, feel free to boo the hell out of them. As the opposing band takes the field, either ignore them or clap politely. Contrary to the beliefs of some, marching band is not a sport, and their success will not impede your own band’s, so show some respect. Again, battles of the bands are excluded, and if the band does something verbally, musically, or visually to disrespect your team or band, all bets are off. They started it.
  • The drum major should direct nearly all of both the field and stands performances. If your head coach isn’t taking snaps, your director shouldn’t be playing field commander.
  • Unless you are playing to ants, there is no reason your bell-front instrument should ever be at less than 90°. Get your horn up!
  • If I can see your band’s plumes but can never see your cymbals, something is wrong. If you have two shiny pieces of metal strapped to your hands, nothing you do should ever be boring (I expect I’ll write an entire cymbal manifesto soon enough)
  • When tailgating with fans of other teams, good natured ribbing is ok, but don’t be that guy. The tailgate lot should be a good time had by all. And above all else…
  • …Don’t be a douchebag.

That’s it for now, though I may add to this later. I saw many of these either upheld or violated over the past week or more, so I felt compelled to put this out there.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gone Bowling

Happy new year, everyone! A Year In Review will be coming soon, but for now, as I watch today's New Year's Day action, I'll recap the trip down to Charlotte to witness a Bulls victory in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Apparently my tailgating gear expands like gas, because even in my new vehicle, it took up the whole trunk and spilled into the back seat. I got down to Kristy's at about 3:30 and we headed uptown and grabbed some food before heading to the Square for the pep rally. As was to be expected, Bulls outnumbered Tigers at the pep rally, since the Clemson faithful could easily make the trip on Game Day. The "battle of the bands" that ensued was really more of two short concerts; both bands did four pieces in a row, no back-and-forth. Both bands did a dance number; for the HOT it was the sousaphones doing Single Ladies (quite entertaining, I might add) and Clemson did Michael Jackson featuring their drum major and dance team. after running a quick errand (Kristy had a hookup with a parking pass) we headed back uptown to try and catch the rest of the Bulls faithful. While we never caught the folks I knew at Whisky River (the official Big East bar), we did catch the CRAZY end to the Music City Bowl with a couple locals and some Clemson fans.

We got up early at Kristy's in Charlotte and headed uptown to catch up with the folks I knew. Kristy's a UNCG alum and as such had never been tailgating; she told me this may have spoiled her. The Bulls faithful were small but mighty. The folks from Bulls Outfitter had a pretty serious setup with inflatable Rockys, and my boy Brandon had a full DJ setup. We were also fortunate that we made it to that particular lot before there was anyone on duty. An attendant came by later attempting to collect, but apparently I was persuasive in pleading my case.

While the tent and cornhole boards ultimately stayed in the car,  we had a decent set up. As I mentioned before, I got breakfast casseroles from New York Butcher Shoppe and they did not disappoint! And just because it felt like the right thing to do, I brought along a snare stand and pad that doubled as a second table. But what made it was the people--I was able to catch up with quite a few folks from my days at USF who were up in town for the game.

Kristy, Jenni, and I headed into the game (unfortunately, a death in the family kept my friend Lauta from attending) towards the beginning of HOT's pregame. At that point, we had missed Clemson's. Both bands played the Anthem, under the direction of Clemson's director. Kristy was wearing the "Bullshirt" I loaned her that was given out to student organization leaders during my time there; we ended up chatting with the guy behind us who was a former officer with the indoor percussion ensemble. Needless to say, I was a little geeked.

I actually didn't know much about what to expect from this one. Of course I wanted a Bulls win, but I thought the teams were pretty evenly matched and that it could have gone either way. I was pleased when USF scored their first touchdown; it meant we wouldn't leave Charlotte empty-handed as we did last time. We pulled up 17-3 before a few Clemson scores made it 17-13 at the half. A little closer than I would have liked, but it was a lead, and the play on the field had me feeling good.

The showing in the stands from both bands was comparable; our seats were nearly equidistant from both and I've give the slight edge to USF on sonic output. I liked our stands tunes better, but that's a clear bias. Clemson killed us with some of their varied horn swings, though. Clemson also had the benefit of easier field access, giving them more more time in the stands both before and after the half.

Herd of Thunder's halftime show rocked, including Weather Report's Birdland. In contrast, I wouldn't have picked Clemson's halftime show, which ended with Beethoven's Ode to Joy and most certainly did NOT shake the southland.

The second half reminded of USF at WVU back in 2006; a lead in the second half led me to believe, "we're actually going to do this," followed by a run that led me to think, "we better not screw this up..." Indeed, as with the 2006 game, Clemson pulled within five. A half-yard early illegal touching penalty after an onside kick gave the Bulls the final possession and the win.

I stuck around through the trophy presentation and the alma mater. One small blemish--don't know if it was miscommunication or disrespect--is that the Herd of Thunder played The Bull over Clemson's alma mater. Maybe it's just me, but it is my belief that if there is anything you don't play over, it's the alma mater, regardless of the school, so that was a bit beat up. Regardless, I saw a USF bowl win, ended my post-season drought (that I mention in the last paragraph here) and drove home with my flags waving high. Go Bulls! \m/
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