Should We Pity Poor, Winless Nebraska?

Nebraska Coach Scott Frost
Despite the Historic 0-6 Start, Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost Should Keep Looking Up

The  University of Nebraska was once a college football power.  Under Tom Osborne from 1973 to 1997, the Cornhuskers went an astounding 255 – 49–3,  for a winning percentage of 0.836. Osborne subsequently became Nebraska’s longest-tenured coach, ending with the fourth-highest winning percentage in major college football history. Osborne never won fewer than nine games and secured 13 conference titles in his 25 seasons. And for those interested in ancient college football history, before Osborne, there was head coach Bob Devaney.

Bob Devaney lead Nebraska to a 101–20–2 record, with a 0.829 winning percentage from 1962 to 1972.  Delaney brought about an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Nebraska football. He led Nebraska to a 9–2 record in his first season, which was capped by the school’s first bowl win, against Miami in the 1962 Gotham Bowl.  Wow. Talk about winners. Nebraska could surely use Osborne or Devaney right about now.

Now, the once mighty and proud Nebraska football program has fallen on hard times. Most recently, The Cornhuskers blew a ten point margin and fell to Northwestern, 34 -21, after having a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. A Northwestern field goal cut the lead to 31-24 with about two minutes left in the game. Northwestern would then get the ball back and marched 99 yards with zero time-outs for a game tying touchdown that sent it to overtime. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable, especially for a team that was 0 -5 and searching desperately for its first win.

In that oh so painful loss to Northwestern, Nebraska had the ball first in the extra period. The drive came to a fourth and one, and then a nightmare for Huskers fans. A botched snap and QB Martinez was forced to scramble; he launched one for the endzone and it was intercepted. Northwestern got the ball and got into position to allow kicker Drew Lauckenbaugh to make a 37 yard field goal to give Northwestern the stunning 34-31 win.

Last week, after Nebraska lost to Michigan, Head coach Scott Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that “things can’t get any worse”, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a “watershed moment” for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff. When they were 0 -5, the Nebraska coach believed that the Cornhuskers had reached the bottom.

But then the bottom fell out, and they lost this heartbreaker to Northwestern to fall fo 0 – 6 for the first time in school history. It’s the worst start EVER for this storied football program.

Incredible. Just incredible. So, are we to feel sorry and compassionate for the Cornhuskers? Some say yes, but most, I surmise, would say no. They had their heyday, and now the mantle for winning big in college football has moved on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC touts such powerhouse schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia, just to name a few.  Ohio State and Michigan, two bragadocious, Big Ten schools, are still powers, so why not Nebraska? It’s a thousand things, none of which can be fixed in an instant. 

So let’s encourage Nebraska.  And let’s encourage all of our friends who are going through a tough time. Things will get better. Things HAVE to get better, right? They have to; they just have to.  Becasue life is like sports and sports are like life.  Trouble don’t last always. 

And always remenber; “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

 

Aggressive Faith: How To Come Back From Way Back

Stanford Coach David Shaw
Stanford Coach David Shaw Says You Just Gotta Believe

 

We love college football. And the only thing we love more than college football is college basketball and March Madness. But it’s the first full day of Fall 2018, and it’s football weather, so we’re in for upsets, comebacks and turnarounds, college football style.

In the Stanford – Oregon game — played in Eugene Oregon, mind you – with the score 24 -7, Ducks, Oregon running back Jaylon Redd appeared to have scored a touchdown, but he was later ruled to go out-of-bounds just inside the 1-yard line. He hit the pylon, and the pylon is out of bounds. It is?  Who knew? Anyway, no big deal, right? The way the Ducks were playing, they were destined to punch it in on the next play and take a seemingly insurmountable 31-7 lead in the first half. Right?  Wrong.

Wouldn’t ya know it, a bad snap sailed over Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s head. Stanford’s Joey Alfieri scooped it up and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. All of a sudden, a 14-point swing has the Cardinal down by just 10 points. After the game, Coach David Shaw called it the turning point of the game. And then, the Ducks go three and out, and the next time Stanford touches the ball, they go right down the field like it’s a walk in the park and they get another touchdown. That made the score 24 -21 at half-time, when it could have been 31 -7, Ducks.  Unbelievable.

And the final score? Stanford 38, Oregon 31, OT. Talk about a comeback for the ages.

The Stanford Cardinal (Cardinal is singular, mind you – but don’t ask) is ranked No. 7 in the nation. No. 7!  But they sure didn’t look like it in the early going, as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert picked Stanford apart. It looked like a shooting gallery. It was like shootin’ ducks in a barrel – get it? Ha ha.  Anyway, Stanford couldn’t do anything right, and Oregon seemingly couldn’t do anything wrong. But that all changed in an instant. And as we live and breathe, we also believe that what’s going wrong can go right, if we only put feet to our faith.

After the miraculous comeback, Stanford Coach David Shaw said this:

 

We talk so much about believing. And not just about believing, but believing in the work and the effort and believing in the passion that we have for each other.

Wow. Coach Shaw sounds like a preacher! And he’s right. He’s exactly right. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. But you first have to believe; you must have faith.  And then you must put feet to your faith. We need not just talk about believing; we need to put our faith in action put our confidence in God in motion and do more than just believe. And that’s exactly what Stanford did.

Stanford came back from way back because they hung in there. Stanford was aggressive in the second half, and took advantage of every opportunity that came their way. And that’s what we need to do. We need to have aggressive faith. When we’re down, we should never feel like were out.

In this season, many of us are praying for revival. As we pray for a revival in the land, we should also pray for a revival in our souls. We should ask God to give us a personal revival. And as we pray, we should sing this great hymn by W. P. Mackay:

Hallelujah, thine the glory!

Hallelujah, Amen!

Hallelujah, thine the glory!

Revive us again.

 

 

 

Keith Jackson

Kieth Jackson

Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson, the Godfather of college football, just passed away. He was 89.

Keith Jackson coined such phrases as “Whoa Nellie!” and “the Big Ugly” and “The Weekend With Whiskers” and called Michigan’s football stadium “The Big House.”  Keith Jackson was a former American sportscaster, known for his long career with ABC Sports television, his coverage of college football as well as his style of folksy, down-to-earth commentary and deep voice.

“For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family.”

Jackson got his start on the radio in 1952, broadcasting Washington State games, but went on to provide the national television soundtrack for the biggest games in the most storied stadiums. His colorful expressions — “Whoa, Nellie” and “Big Uglies” among the many — became part of the college football lexicon.”

So long, Keith Jackson. Thanks for the memories.

Here are some of his Keith’s quotes: 

“Great teams have great character. These are teams that are not distraught that they’re down at halftime.” 

 

“The question came up the other day: Has there ever been another game that had more on it or more hype? The answer is no. … I think this one goes down as an all-time all-timer.” 

 

“He had never seen a corn dog, much less tasted one. It took him three quarters to eat one, and then he ate three.” 

 

“It’s just the aura, the ambience, particularly when it’s full. And then you’ve got the broad-shouldered San Gabriel’s sitting there, looking down on all of this.” — Keith Jackson

Baker Mayfield Eats A Face Full of Humble Pie

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is who he is, and he just learned a long overdue lesson in humility.

In fact, all athletes and sportspersons everywhere the world over got another lesson in humility and sportsmanship and modesty and gamesmanship courtesy of Baker Mayfield. The Heisman Trophy winner and the Oklahoma Sooners suffered a humbling, if not humiliating, loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first semifinal college championship game at the Rose Bowl last night.

Baker Mayfield was supposed to win. Oklahoma was supposed to come out on top and beat and best Georgia just because.   Mayfield got out to a hot start, but succumbed to Georgia at the bitter end of a classic, come from behind thriller for the “Dawgs”, 54-48 in Double Overtime.

Baker Mayfield is a brash and brazen, braggadocios boy who has a lot of growing up to do. His antics and outbursts all season have earned him a well-deserved reputation and at one point lost him his captainship and almost his career. Earlier this year, he was arrested on a public intoxication and fleeing the scene charge and ordered to undergo 35 hours of community service. And there were other incidents which may have cost other players their scholarships, or more. And during last night’s game, after every early score, Mayfield would run full steam from the end zone with his arms outstretched as if he was soaring above and beyond Georgia’s reach. But not so fast.

Here’s how Sports Illustrated described his behavior: “Mayfield has been known for the emotion he displays during games but avoided controversy during his college finale. When asked about an apparent throat-slashing gesture after the game, he said it wasn’t directed at the Bulldogs. ‘When you get up on a team, you talk about stepping on their throats,’ he said. ‘Obviously, we didn’t do that.’

 As Oklahoma’s frenetic star wandered back onto the playing field to congratulate celebrating Bulldog players, Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy began screaming at him.

HUMBLE YOURSELF! HUMBLE YOURSELF!

Bellamy stood near the spot on the field where the Heisman Trophy winner had aimed his wild, arms-flailing sprints back to the bench after each Oklahoma touchdown earlier in the day, when the Sooners scored on five of their first six possessions and looked like they were about to blow the Bulldogs out of the Rose Bowl. Instead, Georgia outscored Oklahoma 37–17 after halftime.” https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/02/baker-mayfield-oklahoma-georgia-rose-bowl-nflIt was a great game but also a sad commentary on how not to lose. Baker Mayfield couldn’t finish and seal the deal against a Georgia team that didn’t know the word quit. Down 17 just before the half, Oklahoma inexpiably squib kicked after a field goal and allowed Georgia to run one play to get into position for a long field goal. And they made it, cutting the lead to 14.  Then and there,  I said Oklahoma was going to lose and Georgia was going win. Why? Because of Oklahoma’s arrogance. They  thought they were too far ahead for Georgia to catch up and assumed that Mayfield would continue to throw touchdown pass after touchdown pass the entire second half. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The lesson Baker Mayfield hopefully learns is that pride still goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. So let’s let this be a lesson and let’s do what Mayfield didn’t.

Humble yourself.

Save Your Best For Last

College_Football_Playoff_logo.svg

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was turned to wine, not knowing where it had come from, he said, ‘A host always serves the best wine first; then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!’

John 2:9-10, New Living Translation 

The best teams play their best ball during the best time of the season. And that’s December. I love December football. Every football fan loves football in December because it’s cold, games are contentious and, err, it’s cold.  It’s football weather, and December is the month when the big boys beat down the little guys to within an inch of their playoff lives. And December is the time when the best teams face off and stare down and square up against each other until only one is left standing.

We’ll find out who will be in the college football championship tonight. Alabama is outside looking in at number five, and they will have to watch Georgia and Auburn duke it out before they find out if they can make it in. Clemson is currently holding onto the number one spot and they can solidify their position with a convincing win over Miami.

As for my Eagles, they play Seattle tomorrow night in Seattle and that should be another good test to prove to all the naysayers that Philly is for real.

So save your best for last. Keep something in the tank for the stretch run when you need to out kick and out last and out best your competitors. And that includes your best buddy and your brother-in-law who would love to topple you just for something to do.

The lesson is clear; play to the whistle. Clearly we are living in the last days. Evil doers are calling right wrong and wrong right. Workers of iniquity are calling evil good and good evil; seducers are calling up down and down up.  Those who disdain God are calling right left and left right. Sin has run rampant and the enemy of our souls is out to destroy us, as he knows his time is short.

So don let up and don’t let down. Keep a goody bag and a spare tire and extra reserves for use as you approach the wire because our enemies and our foes are trying harder and harder to overcome righteousness and goodness and are going after you even harder as the sands of time wind down to the begining of eternity. 

Why does a gymnast put her most impressive skill at the end of the routine? Why do fireworks designers put the big burst at the end? Why is the fourth movement of the symphony the most powerful one? Why do stand-up comics like to end with their strongest material? Why does the climax come at the end of the movie instead of the beginning? Why do we eat dessert last? Why do we save the last dance for our best beau?

God saves His best for last, and we should too.

Survival of the Fittest

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) is carried off the field by outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (54) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) after kicking a game winning 61 yard field goal as time expires for a victory against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.                                           Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports    

Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly.  He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback  win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.

Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.

It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.

And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards.  Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.

Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.

The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.”  While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term  to sports teams and players appropriately.   

In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials  of life and emerge intact; you may be battered  and you may be bruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear. 

So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived.  It’s a lesson for us all.

Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.

Terps Topple Texas 51 – 41: a.k.a., Why We Love College Football!

Fear the Turtle

My Maryland Terrapins beat the Texas Longhorns in a shootout, 51 -41! Who saw that comin’? Texas was supposed to blow out and beat up and beat down my alma mater, but Maryland outscored them and out bested them and outlasted them in an early season shocker that reverberated all across college football from sea to shining sea.

So here’s to my Terps!  They pulled an upset for the ages, and hopefully they can build on this momentous win. And that’s the truth for all of us; big wins give us all hope and faith and confidence and courage. When we see our teams, and even someone else’s team, pull off the unthinkable and the almost impossible, it gives us a shot in the arm and a pat on the pants.

A shot in the arm is an expression derived from the invigorating effect of injecting drugs.  And a big win is a welcome dose of prescriptive medicine for what ails us. A shot is of course US slang for an injection, either of a narcotic or medicinal drug, and means a stimulus or impetus.

So thank God and thank you Maryland Terrapins for the inspiration and the motivation and the medication of the shot that the win over Texas gave us.