Friday, June 26, 2009

What a week....

You know, they say death comes in threes, but really, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson? That's a pretty devastating week for pop culture geeks like me. A few notes and thoughts on each...

Ed McMahon was without a doubt the greatest sidekick ever, and he's a guy I grew up with. Mike Wilbon on PTI mentioned he would sneak away at night after his parents went to bed to watch the Tonight Show, and I was the same way. It's amazing to think that Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon are both gone, and that probably the most iconic version of The Tonight Show has been off the air for 17 years. It's worth noting that Doc Severinsen, the Tonight Show band leader, turns 82 on July 7. Here is a clip I could watch over and over again.

Farrah Fawcett was JUST a few years ahead of my formative years (I was born in 1970, so I was like 7 when she was really big). This one hurts my older brother and dad more than me, but she was truly iconic, a testament for many actresses of today that no matter how beautiful you are, if you have the acting chops, you can get the roles and make a difference. When I think of Farrah Fawcett, I think of probably the current iconic actress...Megan Fox of Transformers. She has gone on record as saying she hasn't had the chance to showcase her acting skills because she really has only been in robot movies. Megan should look no further than Farrah Fawcett to see exactly how far she can reach if she makes the effort.

And now to Michael Jackson, and this one hurts. When I was 12 and 13, Thiller came out, and it was one of those records, going to junior high school in New York, that it just wasn't "cool" to like, but we all secretly did. I took my aunt's copy of it and played that album A LOT. Interestingly, as his career went on and sales went down, the music really was still brilliant. His duets with Paul McCartney were great, and no one should forget that until Michael Jackson's Billie Jean video, MTV (back when they showed videos), did not show black artists, and he broke that barrier down, and led the way to "Yo MTV Raps", and in reality, opened the door that is still open today Without Michael Jackson, there is no Akon, no P-Diddy, no Beyonce...his contribution to world culture is massive, and should never be taken for granted. Oh yeah, he wrote We Are the World....not a bad aside to a musical career.

Junior National's....Not a Junior Mint
Mike Arnold did it again....the sickest ISU freshman vaulter, possibly ever, qualified for the 2009 Pan American Junior Games by setting a third straight PR in the vault, clearing 17-feet for the first time. I'm calling it, but Arnold has three more years at ISU, and he can become ISU's first ever men's track individual national champion. Dave Nielsen has done an unbelievable job coaching him, and that combination could mean a serious Olympic bid in 2012 as well...don't count it out...Arnold isn't even 20 yet. Oh yeah, Stacy Dragila is still kicking too....

Life with a Window
So I've been working at home all week on the media guide, and I'm in my home office (formerly my daughter's bedroom). I have a window to look out of, which is a far cry from the dungeon office I have in Holt Arena. Even if I wasn't in the bottom floor of Holt, how weird is it that no office in Holt Arena has a window that you can see outside. I can't tell you how enjoyable this has been.

I Try to Help
So, I called the Idaho State Journal and gave them a story about my neighbors, the Nelsons (there is no link on the net for it, but it was in the June 24th edition on the front page). The story was written by Tiarra Stout, and I don't know her, and I'm not really calling her out, but her story missed the most important thing....the woman not only delivered her own baby on the interstate on the way to the hospital, she caught the kid herself while her husband was driving and her mother was on the phone with the hospital. Think about this...people drop things all the time...I dropped a glass as home this week ... she CAUGHT HER OWN BABY AS IT WAS BORN. I was worried the doctor would drop my child and he was sitting there like Joe Mauer waiting for her.

The baby's head appeared on the interstate, and the rest of the baby was born on Clark Street...all this happened at like 5 in the morning, which is good, since Steve was checking the rear view mirror as much as the road at that point. My favorite part is when they got to the hospital (and by the way, the baby wasn't crying at all...just cooing after she was born), the hospital staff came out like the Keystone Cops and took Bri and her mother and the baby (umbilical cord still attached...everywhere, and use your imagination) inside, and Steve was left in the car, with a bunch of towels. He said as they all raced inside "I'll park the car...don't wait up." Classic. Suffice to say the car is getting detailed by the way. Amazing, amazing story.

Oh yeah, I officially have a boss
After a long 15 months (really, there has been wars completed in fewer time, but I get why it took 15 months), Jeff Tingey finally had the interim tag removed from his title. What I have found funny is the comments about it at the Idaho State Journal from a few fans ... apparently the 15-month turn as interim wasn't enough for them, nor was the turn around from an $800,000 deficit to a surplus good enough. Do me this...change his name from Tingey to Thompson, and NO ONE HAS A PROBLEM. For the record, Dr. Tingey (Jeff's dad, and what Jeff himself calls him) has nothing, zero, nada, zippo, zilch to do with the athletic department. Jeff has earned this promotion boys and girls...he did all of that 15 month-span as an interim while leading the department through NCAA Certification (which is a giant pain and very time consuming) and having a wife pregnant with twins. It's well earned, and you know, isn't nice to have a Pocatello native running the ship?

Shhhhh, Don't Tell Anyone...
....but look who is one game out of first place....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Look Ahead No. 3: Weber State

Weber State has dominated Idaho State in football in a lot of different ways over the years. In racking up a 34-14 advantage over the Bengals, the Wildcats have won tight, defensive battles like the 6-3 field goal fest in 1998. WSU has enjoyed majestic aerial shows, like the 641-yard, 60-41 pasting Jamie Martin and friends put on the ISU defense in 1991. And the Wildcats have even gotten a little lucky, as they did in 2006, when Bengal kicker Braden Jones missed a 37-yard-field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.

But nothing better characterizes the way Weber State has dominated the Bengals recently than these two words: Trevyn Smith (above). Over the past three years, the Big Sky's No. 6 all-time rusher has absolutely owned Idaho State's defense, to the tune of 667 total yards and 10 touchdowns -- an average of over 232 total yards and 3 scores a game.

The Bengals have actually moved the football pretty well against Ron McBride's defenses during that time, averaging 27 points a game in those three contests. But ISU has had no answers for Smith and his offensive teammates, yielding an average of 47 points in those losses.

Smith gets one more shot at Idaho State this season, when the Wildcats host ISU on September 19. With the Bengals sure to be staggering off road games at Arizona State and Oklahoma, it's not exactly the perfect time to be playing their arch-rival. Especially when that rival will be loaded, with eight starters returning from the 12th highest scoring offense in the FCS. Chief among those returnees are Smith, who tied for the nation's lead with 28 touchdowns last season; quarterback Cameron Higgins, the reigning Big Sky offensive MVP; and wide receiver Tim Toone, who caught 84 passes for over 1,500 yards for the Wildcats.

Weber also returns all-league TE Cody Nakamura and wide receiver Mike Phillips, who averaged 18.5 yards a catch on his 37 receptions. The Wildcats groomed two promising redshirt freshmen running backs while Smith sat out their spring game. So there appears to be plenty of offensive weapons for Higgins, who threw for 36 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions last year, to play with.

Defensively, the Wildcats do return some playmakers in end Kevin Linehan (10.5 sacks last year), leading tackler Beau Hadley at safety and all-conference defensive back Josh Morris. But they have only four starters returning on that side of the ball, and will miss all-league linebacker J.D. Folsom, who was the only Big Sky Conference player drafted this spring when he went to the Miami Dolphins.

As beaten up as the Bengals are likely to be when they head to Ogden, there is one positive to the timing of this matchup -- Weber State will be coming off two FBS contests themselves, having opened the season at Wyoming and Colorado State. History also suggests the Wildcats may have a hard time defending their co-championship which they shared with -- who else? -- Montana. While the Grizzlies have won or tied for 11 straight Big Sky titles, nobody else in the conference has been able to sustain a real challenge to their hegemony. Other BSC teams occasionally rise up for a big season, maybe even tying Montana for the regular season crown, but none of them have been able to maintain the challenge over time.

The combination of Higgins and Smith may just be enough to do it this year, but remember two things: Big Sky quarterbacks have a history of "junior slumps," after putting up big numbers their freshmen and sophomore seasons. Higgins has to prove he won't succumb to that. And one more item: Weber State has to play in Missoula this year. None of that is likely to be much salve to a young and battered Bengal team come Sept. 19, however.


And thanks for being a Bengal -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.