What a weekend. ESPN Full Court got turned on in time for me to watch KU play UT-Chattanooga Friday night. It’s a weird age we live in when you can feel like you’re sitting on the same couch, just 500 miles away and six months in the past thanks to TV. If all goes as planned, be looking for a lengthy discussion of the KU-Michigan State game on the Big 8+4 blog later this week.

Saturday, KU beats Iowa State to become bowl eligible. I listened to most of the second half on Yahoo’s college game cast. Again, technology. I’m, in general, opposed to 6-6 or even 6-5 teams going to bowls. There are far too many meaningless bowls for mediocre teams. Far too many pre-Christmas bowls with 20,000 people in the stands. If a bowl can’t fill 75% of its seats, I say you end the thing. Let’s get back to the days when going to a bowl really meant something. That said, the progress made by Mark Mangino and the rest of the KU coaching staff in 15 months is phenomenal. A year ago, I sat in Ames, Iowa on Labor Day weekend and was embarrassed by how little talent KU had. As a token of thanks for making their win so easy, the Iowa State team gave Tight End coach (and former KU coach) Terry Allen a game ball. Saturday, he slunk out of Memorial Stadium without comment, realizing that maybe it is possible to get enough decent players to Lawrence to become bowl eligible. As an added bonus, there have been fewer arrests since he left town, too. More wins, fewer arrests. That’s good coaching. Sustaining the success is another thing completely, but it was an amazing job getting this team within three plays of being 8-4.

Also Saturday was my first Old Oaken Bucket game, Purdue-Indiana. As we’ve all learned, rivalry games are always interesting. IU somehow stayed with the huge favorite Boilermakers until a late interception robbed them of the chance to take the lead. Purdue fans were happy they escaped with a win, IU fans were happy they didn’t get embarrassed. Hey everyone, we’re all going to get laid!
There was a beautiful shot of a Purdue student after IU grabbed their second consecutive interception in the fourth quarter. She was in all black and gold, sitting between two crimson and cream clad IU students. This poor girl looked like she was going to get sick as her IU friends celebrated. She wasn’t a casual fan. You could tell she had been talking smack for months, convinced IU had no chance. All of a sudden, IU was 35 yards from taking the lead late in the game. I’m sure she was debating whether to cry or just flee. I’ve been there, I know the dilemma. Three minutes later, when Purdue took the ball back, she was ecstatic.
Throughout the game, there were shots of mixed groups of friends. Alternating red, black, white, and yellow in various shades. That, my friends, is the true beauty of the rivalry game. Thanks again to the assholes in Dallas for taking away my rivalry game.

Later in the day, I was showing a visitor where the ESPN Full Court channels started in our cable lineup. What’s this? I can see the ESPN Game Day broadcasts too? Either some huge error, or they just open up the channels for both packages when seasons overlap. I had UConn – Sacred Heart basketball on one channel, and then five football games on other channels: OU-Texas Tech, Wisconsin-Iowa, and three Pac Ten games. Of course, I didn’t discover this until the USC and OU games were already out of hand, but I was in heaven switching between a total of nine football games. In fact, I probably got too excited and fell asleep before I could watch either the North Carolina or Maryland basketball games that night. That’s ok, I have four months of non-stop hoops ahead of me.

And now we’re officially in Countdown to Turkey mode. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not even close. It’s brief. It’s about good things: eating, football, marquee basketball match-ups, the greatest episode of Cheers ever, and taking time to be reflect on things that are important to you. It lacks the debt, mania, and guilt of Christmas. I’ve noticed if you have to make an emergency run to the grocery store Thanksgiving morning, even though the aisles are crowded, everyone is happy and polite. Try getting the same reaction if you go shopping at 4:45 on Christmas Eve. So I’m working on some Thanksgiving specific items for the rest of the week. For those of you departing early, have a safe and happy week.