Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Sep 12, 2011

I am an Aging Salmon, Swimming Upstream; Also, the Big Ten is Awful



HOW I AM FEELING: Fortunate that my name is not "Brian Kelly." Also: Harried, frazzled, and generally overwhelmed. Work is cascading down like the waters of a mighty Alaskan river, and Your Editor is the proverbial salmon, swimming upstream, making stilted progress, wondering what lies at the end of the line. In other news, Penn State was entirely outclassed by Alabama up in Happy Valley, proving once again that This Once Great Program has fallen completely off the pace with college football's big boys. But again, hey, at least my name is not "Brian Kelly."

WHAT I AM DRINKING: Sly Fox Brewing Co. Pikeland Pils. Lighter than Your Editor's much-preferred IPAs, but still much more flavorful and Worthy Of TCFA than your standard American macrobrew slop. Life is good here in Philadelphia, craft brewing capital of America.

WHAT I AM LISTENING TO: Neil Young, Harvest. Autumn is approaching fast, folks. Which means it's time to break out the Autumn classics. This one stands at the top of the list. If you don't own this record, you are wrong about everything.

VILLA UPDATE: My Season Full Of Heartbreakingly Dull (English) Football rolls on. Villa continued its not-bad, not-good, generally boring form with a 2-2 draw at Everton on Saturday. There really isn't much to say about the game, except that we got a point out of it, and we at least appear on path that will allow us to avoid the indignity of relegation. Small victories, folks. Small victories.



I feel old, folks.

There was a time, circa 2005 or so, when I was actually capable of enjoying, well, A Full Day Of College Football. A "full day" being defined as such: Watching college football from noon, and that first sleepy Big Ten kickoff, right through midnight, and the conclusion of The Proverbial Brent Musberger Night Game on ABC.

I accomplished this feat on a weekly basis, without any effort at all, and in fact would usually continue my Saturday college football-fueled enjoyment with ESPN College Football Final, which took me well past midnight. Throw in a little writing on the side, maybe a late-night Victory Hop Devil or two, and my days routinely extended to 2 a.m., sometimes even 3 a.m.. Heck, even at that point, it actually took some effort to get to sleep.

My refusal to sleep wasn't just about the fact that I didn't want Those Glorious College Football Saturdays to end. No, you see, there was another factor at work. Specifically, this: I was young.

I did not get tired. I did not need sleep. I was invincible.

But now? Well, now, I'm not young.

Now, I need sleep. Desperately.

Now, I'm anything but invincible, because now, I am middle aged, stressed out, and tired. At almost all times.

That was the lesson of This Past Saturday.

Whether it's because I now have four children (by comparison, back in 2005, I had only one, and my-oh-my, what a differece three additional children makes), whether it's because I have more complex day job (let's just say that, a few years back, my role did not seem quite so involved), whether it's because I have several hundred (or so it seems) side jobs to handle, or whether it's because that, quite simply, I am six years older than I was back in The Halcyon Days Of The Mid-2000s, the sad reality is that I am completely and utterly incapable of making it through A Full Day Of College Football anymore.

I can't wake up as early.

I can't power through the day without at least one long prolonged battle with fatigue.

I can't come close to making it through the end (or seeing the beginning, for that matter) of College Football Final.

Heck, I can't even stay awake for The Proverbial Brent Musberger Night Game.

This past weekend, after putting Three Of My Four Kids to bed, I settled down on the couch with Young And Oft-Difficult Joey with the full intention of watching what I figured would be a truly glorious showdown between Notre Dame and Michigan. As it turned out, the game ended up being precisely that--an all-time classic, a milestone in Michigan football history, a true nadir for the Fighting Irish, and one of the saddest displays of defensive football that The Great Footballing Midwest has ever seen.

I know the game was all of these things because I saw the first quarter. And the last 17 minutes or so.

What I didn’t see, however, was the entirety of the second quarter, or most of the third.

Because I fell asleep.

I didn't want to fall asleep, mind you.

But I fell asleep anyway.

Because I am old.

Time marches on, folks. And tramples us slowly.


THREE: Here's what I wrote last week in This Very Space about the Penn State football program: "The folks who run Penn State football need to understand that the rank-and-file supporters—the people who, at the end of the day, choose to fill those Beaver Stadium seats when the chips are down and the weather is cold—are beginning to question the ambition of the program. What is the goal these days at Penn State? Is the national championship even in the discussion anymore? Are we aiming for an occasional Big Ten title run? What’s the strategic vision?" After Penn State's latest meltdown against an elite opponent, it must said that, sadly, these questions have been answered: No, Penn State is apparently not interested in winning the national championship any longer. Yes, Penn State is content to be a very occasional Big Ten contender. And as for that strategic vision? Well, so far as I can tell, there isn't one. In most every way, this program is simply treading water. Sad. But true.

TWO: In a somewhat related note, I had an interesting conversation with My Father And Mentor, Patrick J. Hyland Sr., late yesterday afternoon. As you all know, the man is a longtime Big Ten supporter/defender. But after this past weekend's results -- Penn State's loss to Alabama, Ohio State's struggles against Toledo, Iowa's unforgivable loss to Iowa State, Minnesota's loss to New Mexico State, Purdue's loss to Rice, and Indiana's loss to Virginia -- my father has finally relented. "You know," he told me, "as sad as it sounds, I think it's true: All the power in college football has shifted to the South." I wanted to disagree with him. But I couldn't. It is early, yes. And things can change, yes. But this has all the makings of A Year Of Crisis here in Big Ten country. The Emperor may not be nervous. But he should be.

ONE: OK, so here's one positive note about the Big Ten: Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson is, shall we say, living up to the hype. Through two games with the Badgers, the supremely talented Wilson is completing 79.4 percent of his passes. He has five touchdowns and no interceptions. And his passer rating is (wait for it) ... 237.6. That would appear to be a good thing. If the Badgers don't win the Big Ten, I'd be stunned.

TOUCHDOWN: TCFA would like to extend its thoughts and prayers to Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a frightening seizure on the sidelines this weekend. Kill, who has a history of seizures, was still hospitalized as of Sunday, but Minnesota officials said his condition was improving and that the could return to his duties as early as Wednesday. Said Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover: “When it comes upon him, there’s not much he can do. It’s kind of a perfect storm of circumstances that brought this upon him. Now it’s just about getting the medication he’s on regulated. It’s just getting past the trauma of having the seizure. In the past, it’s been several days of recovery.”

OVERTIME: Reminder: The TCFA Podcast is accepting nominations for our new "official" sign-off line. The Intelligent College Football Fan who sends in the best suggestion will be rewarded with a spot in this year's TCFA Guest Prognosticator Challenge. It's the greatest reward possible. So if you've got an idea, let us know by writing us at Cheers.

DOUBLE OVERTIME: Longtime Friend of TCFA Brian M. Schleter, a noted Georgia fan, texted Your Editor on Saturday in the wake of the Bulldogs' 45-42 loss to South Carolina. Wrote Brian: "Not a horrible loss. ... Most importantly, Richt not guilty of losing the game." Not so sure about that, Brian.

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