LSU Coach Ed Orgeron: “Get The Monkey Off Your Back!”

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Technically, this was not an upset. Technically, LSU was ranked ahead of Alabama. And technically, LSU should have been favored to beat Alabama, but they weren’t. LSU was ranked No. 2 and Alabama was ranked No. 3 in the polls. Alabama had history on their side. And Alabama was playing AT HOME. And yet LSU managed to throttle and thrash Coach Nick Saban and the consensus fan favorite Alabama Crimson Tide.

Coach Ed Orgeron and his LSU Tigers just won Game of the Century II. The Final: LSU 46 – Alabama 41, and it wasn’t that close. LSU lead by 20 at halftime and held on for the biggest win in Coach Ed Orgeron’s career.

And what about that journeyman head coach who just beat Alabama for the first time? What can we say about LSU’s Coach Orgeron? He’s been through the fire and the flood, and you just can’t help but be happy for this lumbering, lumberjack of a guy who is the persona of a college football coach. During the post-game press conference, as he squeezed his wife and his son close to his side, he said, “ I knew we were going to win.” That’s faith. He got the monkey off his back, and off of LSU’s back too. That’s redemption.

Coach Orgeron was saying that he was due, and by extension, he’s saying that you are too.

So the lesson is this: some of you have been through hell and high water, and you are wondering when things will turn around. Take courage, my brother. Lift up your head my sister. Live in the sunshine. Just like LSU, you are due a just reward for your patience and labor, and now your time has come.

Here’s what CBS sports had to say about the wining coach:

“Take a moment to appreciate what it took for Orgeron to get here. In his first opportunity as a head coach at Ole Miss, he went 10-25 over three seasons and didn’t win a single SEC game in 2007. He was given an opportunity as interim coach at USC when Lane Kiffin was fired in 2013 and led the Trojans to a 6-2 mark but got passed over for the full-time job in favor of Steve Sarkisian, who lasted just over one season. When LSU needed someone to fill in after it retained and then fired Les Miles, it was Orgeron who stepped up, again going 6-2 as an interim coach. The Tigers were on their way to passing over Orgeron for the job but wound up — for lack of a better term — stuck and gave him the opportunity after Jimbo Fisher and Tom Herman passed. So what has Orgeron done since? He’s led the Tigers to a 28-7 record the last three seasons, has LSU 9-0 and among the top two teams in the country in 2019 and improved his record against top 10 teams to 8-1 as coach of the Tigers. Can you say 2019 national Coach of the Year?”

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — November 9, 2019. LSU defeats Alabama, 46 – 41. Saturday’s win over Alabama belongs to Ed Orgeron, a man many doubted when he was tabbed as the LSU Tigers’ head coach in 2016.

If that doesn’t motivate you, consider getting your head examined. Seriously.

Here’s the skinny on the game itself:

“No. 2 LSU ended an eight-game losing streak to its SEC West rival with a stunning 46-41 victory over No. 3 Alabama under the lights at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscalusa. For the first time since 2011, the Tigers have beaten the Crimson Tide, and it was a game that felt entirely different than the one these teams played the last time LSU beat Alabama, 9-6.

The win not only got the proverbial Alabama monkey off LSU’s back, but it put the Tigers firmly in the driver’s seat in the SEC West. It likely cements Joe Burrow in front of the Heisman Trophy race as well. The LSU quarterback threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns, completing 31 of his 39 passes. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire combined for 180 total yards and four touchdowns (three rushing) in a star-making performance of his own.

The 46 points Burrow and the Tigers put on the board against Alabama were the most any team has scored against Alabama since Oct. 25, 2003, when Tennessee scored 51 points against the Tide. Of course, that game went to five overtimes and was only 20-20 at the end of regulation.

The game seemed over when Edwards-Helaire scored to make it 46-34 LSU with only 90 seconds remaining, but Alabama responded right away with an 85-yard touchdown to Devonta Smith to cut the lead to 46-41. LSU held on to win in a rare Game of the Century that managed to live up to the hype.

Let’s break down the game with some takeaways from LSU’s stunning, season-defining win over Alabama:

  1. LSU is the best team in the nation: There, I said it — and I won’t apologize to Ohio State either (despite the thorough dismantling of Maryland on Saturday). What LSU did to Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium was historic. No, history shouldn’t matter when discussing which team deserves the No. 1 ranking. But LSU just walked into the belly of college football’s beast, ripped its heart out, stomped on it on the ground and threw it out like a used paper towel. The 33 first-half points by LSU were the most in the opening 30 minutes against a Nick Saban-coached since 1999, when Purdue — led by quarterback Drew Brees — dropped Saban’s Michigan State squad 52-28. Burrow and passing game coordinator Joe Brady have transformed LSU’s offense from the punchline of a very bad college football joke into the most prolific offense in the country. That’s not what sets this team apart, though. The Tigers defense — which hasn’t been great all year — rattled quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, confused coordinator Steve Sarkisian and created havoc in the backfield thanks to creative pressure dialed up by defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. K’Lavon Chaisson was the star of the show, including a thunderous third-and-short stop of Najee Harris on the Crimson Tide’s first drive of the second half.
  1. Burrow made a clear statement … The senior signal-caller for the Tigers entered as the front-runner for the most prestigious individual award in sports and left the field with a grip on the stiff-arm trophy as tight as a bite from Mike the Tiger. Burrow stood tall in the face of enormous pressure and delivered strike after strike in tight windows all game long. He opened the game 9 of 9 and hit Ja’Marr Chase for the first score of the game in the blink of an eye. LSU never looked back. Burrow brought the fight to Bama and forced it to counterpunch. The only person who has done that in the last two years is Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence … and we all remember how that worked out. That’s the company Burrow keeps now. He’s no longer the scrappy graduate transfer who changed a program; he’s a transcendent college football legend with more in the tank.” https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/alabama-vs-lsu-score-takeaways-no-2-tigers-conquer-no-3-tide-in-thriller-first-series-win-since-2011/

In closing, I don’t know abut you, but I’m rooting for LSU.

Kawhi Leonard: Demand A Trade

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LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This means that the King is now an unrestricted free agent. While this is not a big surprise, what happens next could be.  The Sixers, yes the Philadelphia 76ers, are in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Reportedly, the Sixers can pretty reasonably create the cap space to just sign him outright, but that’s not the big news either. Here’s the skinny from CBS Sports staff writer, Brad Botkin:

“Where this really gets interesting is Philly has a very attractive package to offer for Leonard, with reports out there that the Spurs could be interested in a deal involving Dario Saric and Robert Covington. San Antonio would clearly prefer to trade Kawhi to the East, even if they’ve predictably backed off their stance of ruling out a trade with a team from the Western Conference, and if he were to end up in Philly, if the Sixers could live with the risk of him being a potential one-year rental, suddenly James joining Philly would become his only real chance to play on a super team next year.

Imagine the possibilities of a lineup including James, Kawhi, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Yes, James would have to play off the ball more as Simmons is not equipped at all to do so with his inability to shoot outside 10 feet, but from every other perspective, this is a juggernaut. Defensive versatility. Playmaking everywhere. This would be an incredible team. Keep an eye on this.”

So, it seems that Kawhi, who has done well in San Antonio under the reigning dean of NBA coaches, Greg Popovich, is “demanding a trade.” Not overtly or vehemently, but he seems to want out of San Antonio nonetheless.  So what’s the spiritual lesson to be learned here?”

If you are not victorious in any and every situation in your life, you should demand a trade. If your situation is not to your liking, demand a trade. Is the job stressful? Demand a trade!  Is your money funny?  Demand a trade. Is your current station or status in life not working?  Demand a trade. You might not get out of the situation, but you can demand that your situation improves and gets better than it is.

A better situation is what we all strive and struggle for and want and wish for, right? An improved and enhanced life and lifestyle should always be the aim and ambition of our hearts. So, in prayer, beseech and believe Heaven to trade your stress and strain for a bigger and better and higher and healthier situation than the one you’ve got right now.  Stop settling for the mild and mediocre. Stop accepting less that what you deserve. Stop letting the abundant life that Jesus promised slip away. Just trust Him.

And demand a trade.

Why Didn’t You Watch The 2017 Masters? (It’s A Golf Tournament)

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I watch the Masters every year. Well, at least some of it, every year; it’s a tradition for me. So many lessons can be drawn from the game of golf in general, and from the Masters Golf Tournament in specific, that time would fail to detail them all here, but here are a few tidbits.

First, golf is like life and life is like golf. In this tournament and many others like it, you play the same 18 holes each day four days in a row. It sounds monotonous because it is. Life is a combination of proper, principled, daily practices; taken apart or put together they all can be just as monotonous too, but it’s the consistency of living well day in and day out that wins the day.

Second, in golf, the lowest score wins; i.e., you try to make the fewest mistakes and make the most aggressive moves without landing in the rough or plunking into the water. I can certainly relate to that.

Third, in life, you try to live with consistency and accuracy. There are times to drive long and hard, and there are other times to walk lightly and speak softly. Try as I may, when I play golf I try to hit that little white ball really hard and send it very far. But then other times I need not try so hard or to go so far. The tee shot requires you to drive the ball a long way. Conversely, the closer you get to the green and the cup, you need to slow your roll and putt that same little white ball very softly and very slowly into the hole.

I love golf and I love the Masters even more. I can’t play worth I lick, but when I get out on the green and actually drive the ball in the direction I intended it to go, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.

Charlie Hoffman and Sergio Garcia were at the top of the leader board and led the tournament and both looked as if they had the victory in the bag. But not so fast; Hoffman found the water on Saturday afternoon and sunk out of sight. Garcia led at the end of the day yesterday, but today he bogeyed on 10 AND 11 and fell out of a tie for first.

In golf it’s you vs. the field. The field is the competition around you and the grassy greens beneath you that stand between you and the victor’s cup. You have no backup to call in; you can’t call time out or take a break; and you can’t take plays off and it not come back to bite you in the butt. It’s all on you, and all eyes are on you. It’s takes mental toughness and physical acumen and a boatload of gumption and determination too.

Yes you have the roar of the crowd when life is a banquet and you birdie, but you also get the silent treatment when you bumble and bogey. That’s why I love golf. You have to learn how to navigate the ups and the downs, the ins and the outs, the highs and the lows, and the sometimes messy, and other times merry stuff in between.

This year’s Masters Golf Tournament was so thrilling, so riveting, and so captivating that I even got my wife to watch. How’s that for a happy marriage!?

And what about the happy outcome:

Sergio Garcia did it! After trying and striving for years, Sergio won in a playoff against his longtime friend Justin Rose. It was one of the best Masters finishes ever, going into OT; yes, it took extra innings for Sergio, the fan favorite this year, to win his first major at his 74th attempt. The joyful and gleeful golfer became the third Spaniard to win the Masters on what would have been his idol, Seve Ballesteros’, 60th birthday.

Gargia Wins Masters

Congrats Sergio!

Survive The Madness and Advance In March

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Survive and advance. That’s the name of the game. That’s the goal and the general idea. To survive and advance is everyone’s aim and aspiration. That’s what it’s all about, right? So if you snooze, you lose. Because it’s win or go home, baby.

So who ya got? Kansas? UCLA? Arizona? Gonzaga? Kentucky? North Carolina? Last year’s Champion,Villanova? Or God forbid – Duke? It’s the Big Dance and it appears that one of the big dogs will win it all again, unless a Cinderella crashes the party.

Vince Lombardi, the immortal coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Naturally speaking, this phrase has been overblown and misunderstood.  But spiritually speaking, Lombardi was spot on. When it comes to surviving and advancing, Lombardi was right.  Who remembers who came in second place?  Who remembers who was the runner up? Who even remembers the entire final four year in and year out? And is being the second runner-up as rewarding as finishing first?  Is an honorable mention as gratifying as the championship trophy?

Winning is everything. And not just winning, but winning big. I’m not talking about the margin of victory, but the quality of victory. The fiercer the battle, the sweeter the victory. Hard fought wins are more memorable, more satisfying, and more gratifying than all others. And so it is with life. 

The life God wants us to live is about quality, not necessary quantity. Coming back from way back, getting to the ball and not only dancing with the Prince, but falling in love with the prince, and having the Prince hunt her down to see if she fit the glass slipper she inadvertently left behind, is what we all love about Cinderella. That’s why we all love Cinderella stories.  Those improbable victories that no one, I mean no one – not even Hollywood – can script, are what we live and die for.

God loves the long-shot.  God loves the underdog.  God loves Cinderella.  She had undergone mistreatment and maladjustment before she met the Prince at the ball.  But she first believed that she would indeed meet the prince; and along the way she had unlikely help, too.

The Bible says this about victory: “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”  Cinderella believed.  I come back to this because if you can believe, you can achieve. If you can survive, you can advance. Believing is the first step.

Many of us have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, beaten bigger, better, more talented teams, and won when no one gave us a chance.  Many of us have undergone major surgery, endured unforeseen layoffs, weathered 100-year storms, and yet overcame big setbacks and huge letdowns.  We bounced-back, with the help of God and some God-sent friends and fans, and overcame the worst of circumstances.  Cinderella had mice, sparrows, a pumpkin and a Fairy Godmother.  We have those who are Heaven-sent into our lives, who, just when we need them most, come to our rescue and stretch the basketball rim just enough to let the winning shot go in.

Don’t Bet Against Brady

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I’m not a Tom Brady fan. I’m not. And I don’t like the New England Patriots. I don’t. But something tells me to tell you not to bet against Brady and the Pats in Super Bowl LI. Don’t do it. As much as I don’t want them to win, I think they just might pull off and turn in another super, Super Bowl.

 Some say that sports and life are polar opposites. In fact, sports and life are actually opposite sides of the same coin.  In both sports and life, there are some things that you thought would never happen and yet happen they do. In sports and in life, there are the improbable, implausible, almost impossible occurrences and incidents that no one, and I mean no one, could even dream up in a thousand years and yet “Voila!” – they appear and emerge and transpire right in before our very eyes.

 Such is the case with Tom Brady. He is headed for yet another Super Bowl, after a season of suspension and turmoil, and perhaps the only thing that stands between him and another Super Bowl ring is a favorable coin flip or two.

 This year, Matt Ryan may be the sentimental favorite. But Brady is still Brady. He’s still coached by Belichick and he is the only member of the Patriots roster left from the 2005 Super Bowl Team. If there’s one constant in the Patriots puzzle, it’s Brady.

“Since the first week of the season, it has seemed inevitable that it would end this way, with Tom Brady in his seventh Super Bowl and two years of drama finally winding down to one final scene.

 From the moment the New England Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals in the one game they seemed most likely to lose without Brady — on the road, in prime time, in the first start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career — the trajectory of the Patriots’ season was set. That first month certified Bill Belichick’s ability to adapt to his circumstances, without Brady and then, incredibly, without Garoppolo, too, shutting out the Houston Texans with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett under center.

But everything after — the 13-1 record since Brady came off his suspension, the nearly flawless regular-season statistics, the relentlessness of the Patriots’ offense even after Rob Gronkowski was hurt — was testament to Brady’s own ability to compartmentalize and carry on.” By Judy Battist, NFL Media reporter

Sports science stipulates cohesion and consistency and comrade on any and every team. And yet, with all of the shuffling and shifting, the one constant with the Brady Bunch is, you guessed it, Brady. The Patriot Way is the Brady Way. Brady has won more than most. So it’s difficult, nay pert near impossible, to bet against Brady. So don’t do it. Don’t bet against Brady. Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me later.

Brady, the University of Michigan stud, was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (THE SIXTH ROUND!) of the 2000 NFL draft. In Brady’s 13 full seasons as a starter (he missed nearly all of 2008 with a torn ACL), the Patriots have earned six trips to the Super Bowl, winning four. Brady has won three Super Bowl MVP awards, two league MVP awards (2007, 2010), has been selected to eleven Pro Bowls, and has led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history, with thirteen. Brady is fifth on the all-time list for career passing yards and third for career touchdown passes. His career postseason record is 22–8; his playoff win total is the most in NFL history. Unbelievable.

 Some players aren’t pegged or don’t seem to have the potential to pan out and prosper. Yet someway somehow, they seemingly, consistently and continuously find a way to win. We might not like them but we sure do respect them. They give us patterns and paradigms to follow. Whatever happens, and in spite of who comes and despite who goes, there stand players like Tom Brady, like a stone wall. He’s endured derision and disdain from everyone from Roger Goodell to me in this blog. But like the Bible says, Brady is steadfast and unmovable.

 So, like him or lump him, just don’t bet against him.

Who is Malik Monk – a.k.a., Why Don’t You Like College Basketball?

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Note to Kentucky Wildcat fans: Who is Malik Monk?

“If you watched that game, and if you never liked basketball, you’re going to start liking basketball,” Coach John Calipari said. “Play fast, score quickly, open the court up and let these kids do their thing.”

Malik Monk was considered by some to be an on again-off again collegian who was undisciplined and didn’t show up for or come through in every game. Yet come through he has, as he just played the game of his life just when his team needed him most. And he’s a FRESHMAN — and it’s only December. Come on March madness!

Monk’s scored 47 points against the North Carolina Tar Heels.  It was the highest-scoring game by a Tar Heels opponent since 1970. So it was only fitting that he took the go-ahead 3-pointer from the wing with 16 seconds remaining to cap his record setting outburst and lift No. 6 Kentucky to a 103-100 victory over No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Monk, who made 8 of 12 3-pointers, said he took the winning 3 instead of driving because he was “in the flow.” It was a packed house, and everyone was going crazy,” said Monk, who scored 27 in the first half.

Even after Monk set a Kentucky freshman scoring record, Calipari found a flaw in his 6-foot-3-inch star’s effort. “How many rebounds did he have?” said Calipari, who knew the answer was zero. “He’s special, but he’s got a lot to learn.”

And so the spiritual tie in is clear: if a freshman Phenom can carry his team on his back and beat an arch rival opponent on the big stage, then you and I can rise and shine and give God the glory as we disappoint the  devil and prove all of our haters wrong.

Will Steph Curry Bounce Back?

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Steph Curry will bounce back, right? I mean, he was the 2016 NBA regular season Unanimous MVP. His team won 73 games. His fans fully expected him to do something heroic or herculean, especially in Game 7, in order to win another title. Unfortunately, Steph and his team went down to the wire, only to lose in the last minute. And just like Draymond Green said, losing the way they lost hurt something awful. His exact words were “this one stings . . . and it’s supposed to.”

Jason Keidel from CBS sports said this: “Since Stephen Curry’s rise was so quick and acute, we haven’t had a chance to find any flaws in his game. Not only did he become the NBA’s darling, the Currys became the first family of basketball. Now he gets a mouthful of the bitter, abject analysis that has dogged LeBron for a decade.

Curry’s stat line is hardly MVP-worthy: 17 points; 4-14 from 3-point range; 5 rebounds; 2 assists; 4 turnovers. He had more turnovers last night than points in the fourth quarter (3). And now comes the ignominy of being just the second reigning MVP to lose game 7 of NBA Finals at home.”

So, let’s ask the question again: will Steph Curry bounce back? Will he get back up and jump back up or will he whine and wallow and stumble and fumble away the rest of his basketball life? I don’t think Steph is the stay down in the dumps type. Curry may not be LeBron James (yet) but he ain’t no Developmental League wannabe either.

If Steph Curry has an ounce of bounce and courage and pluck and grit and spunk, he’ll be back – and back with a vengeance. Because that’s how champions roll. And champions in the game of life all have been knocked down and counted out, but they all bounced back.

Take it from me: I’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises along life’s way, but I always seem to bounce back. I’ve been laid off a good job, been passed over for promotion, wasted money and ruined relationships, lost time, and friends and church members and cars and a house. But thank God I didn’t lose my mind or my faith or my wits or my core. With the help of God and the Grace of our Lord and Savior, I’ve always been able to bounce back.

Steph Curry and “the Warriors were 60 seconds from winning the NBA championship. But they didn’t. This can be a speed bump on their way to a dynasty, or the bookend of a nice, two-year run. How far they go will depend on Steph Curry, as it should.”

Getting knocked down is a given in life. The unknown is if and when you will do a 180° turn and get back on the horse and get back in the fight and get back up to where you belong.