SEC Shocker: Auburn Upsets Alabama

December 2, 2013

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With just a second remaining on Saturday and the game tied at 28, Alabama lined up for a game winning 57 yard field goal.  Make the kick and they are in the SEC title game, just one step away from the National Championship game.  Miss the kick and they just go to overtime, right?  Well, Auburn’s Chris Davis grabbed the missed field goal in the end zone and raced 100+ yards for a touchdown to give Auburn the win.  Alabama’s quest for a third straight national title is almost certainly over.

Ohio State won a squeaker over Michigan, 42-41.  Michigan ran a failed 2 point conversion on the final play, going for the immediate win instead of playing for overtime.  While I understand the emotion of going for it, I rarely think that going to two in this situation is the right move.  Overtime is essentially a coin-flip, with the home team having a slightly better than 50% chance of winning.  Unless your success rate on two point conversions is greater than 50%, kick the PAT and take your chances in overtime.

So, where does this leave us?  Florida State and Ohio State have direct paths to the title game.  If they win on Saturday, they are virtually guaranteed to play for the championship.  If one of them falters and Auburn beats Missouri in the SEC title game, Auburn would earn a berth.  Missouri is #5 in the BCS standings (behing Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, and Alabama) but would likely vault to #2 if they beat Auburn and one of the top two loses (Alabama is idle, but I believe Mizzou would leapfrog them with a win).  If Ohio State and Florida State both lose, Alabama could slide into the title game through the back door, facing either Auburn or Missouri for the National Championship.

My Iowa State Cyclones had a disappointing year, finishing the season at 3-9.  For one Saturday in November, though, they made the fans proud.  The team stuttered out of the gates and were down 31-7 to West Virginia as the national anthem was finishing up.  Iowa State forced four turnovers in the second half and a 24 point fourth quarter flurry tied the game and pushed the game to overtime.  Iowa State prevailed 52-44 in triple overtime.

The Broncos beat the Chiefs on Sunday, pushing KC’s losing skid to three games following a 9-0 start.  Not to worry, Chiefs fans, KC is still is very good shape to make the playoffs and plays a couple of weak teams down the stretch.  Meanwhile, Peyton Manning’s exit from Indianapolis is working out well for both teams.  Andrew Luck has played well for the Colts (especially for a 24 year old QB) and the ageless Manning has been at the top of his game, no doubt aided by the thin air.  After all, the ball travels 10% further and the receivers have less resistance when running.  It’s surprising that Manning doesn’t throw an 80 yard TD on every play, given these advantages.  I expect opposing coaches to start calling for a humidor.

In baseball news, the A-Rod appeal saga continues.  New York Magazine has a lengthy article about the background of the case, including information on all the money paid to informants.  Millions has been spent  trying to obtain or hide information.

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Be A Good Sport

February 18, 2011

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On Thursday, Harvey Almorn Updyke, Jr. was arrested on one count of first degree criminal mischief.  His bond was set at $50,000 and Updyke faces up to ten years in prison for his crime.

What was his crime?  Being too much of a fan of the University of Alabama.

Updyke is a die-hard Bama fan, but lives near the campus of the University of Auburn.  In November, he drove to the campus and sprayed some trees in the area known as Toomer’s Corner with the herbicide Spike80DF.  The herbicide, which is use to kill trees, is fatal in conentrations of 100 parts per billion (or 0.1 parts per million).  Tests of the soil around the trees found concentrations ranging from .78 parts per million (7 times the fatal concentration) to 51 parts per million (500 times the fatal concentration).  In other words, the trees will almost certainly die.  I don’t think you need to be a “tree hugger” to be appalled by the wanton destruction of century old trees.

I’m not an Auburn fan, nor much of a follower of the SEC as a whole.  I wasn’t aware of the post-game tradition of fans toilet papering the trees to celebrate wins.  Apparently, it’s a pretty big tradition, and Updyke was trying to kill this tradition by killing the trees.

After Updyke called a Birmingham radio station last month to brag about the stunt, it was only a matter of time before he would be arrested.  He identified himself as “Al from Dadeville.”  Dadeville has around 3000 residents.  I’m sure a handful are even named Al … and maybe a couple of them happen to be Alabama fans in the shadow of the Auburn campus.

Updyke’s court appointed attorney filed a motion to withdraw from the case.  The reason?  Seems that the lawyer had perviously been employed as a part-time professor at Auburn.

I guess Updyke thought he would be hailed as a hero by Alabama supporters.  He certainly doesn’t have the backing of the Bama athletic director.  AD Mal Moore commented, saying that the poisoning was “a terrible thing to do.”  I applaud Moore for publicly denouncing the act, so that there can be no uncertainly whether or not the administration would condone such acts.  Rational people would realize that Alabama wouldn’t condone this, but perhaps Moore’s words stopped one extremist in his or her tracks.  I’m sure a great many Crimson Tide fans put aside their hatred of the Tigers for one day to feel some sympathy for Auburn.

Updyke should have asked himself WWBBD – What Would Bear Bryant Do?  I suspect that Bryant wouldn’t have stooped to vandalism.

Sadly, this sort of thing is not completely unprecedented in sports.  Back in 2002, White Sox fans William Ligue Sr. and his son (William Jr.) attacked a completely defenseless Tom Gamboa, the first base coach for the Royals.  Gamboa suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.  Sadly, the younger Ligue bragged about the incident online later.

And who can forget the knife attack on Monica Seles in 1993 – by a fan of Steffi Graf would hated seeing Graf lose to Seles.  Seles returned from the traumatic attack two years later, but nor at the same level of consistent excellence she had achieved before.

I’m a huge sports fan, and I have intense dislike for a number of teams.  Johnny Goodman knows how much I hate the Nebraska football program.  However, I would never dream of doing something like this.  Sports are great, but in the end, it’s a game.  There are more important things in life.  Ratchet the rhetoric down a bit.