Some extended weekend. Here, in 2000 words or less, is a summary of how your trusty blogger passed the holiday.
We were hosts for the local family this year. It sounds daunting to say that we fed 17, but when you factor in that we are a family of five, hosting 12 people isn’t really that big of a deal. Certainly not in my wife’s family. With only three of my sisters-in-law and no brothers-in-law attending, it qualified as a small gathering, I think.
Dinner was good and without incident. The girls, especially the older sisters, were in a fever pitch much of the day. Watching the Macy’s parade got them going and the knowledge that a Christmas tree was in their future kept their fires stoked. I managed to pop in the Cheers “Thanksgiving Orphans” DVD around 9:00 pm, which is just about perfect.
Friday we stayed comfortably entrenched in our home bunker. No shopping for us. At least no shopping that didn’t involve using our internet connection.
That night I covered my first boys basketball game of the year. My team was tied after the first quarter and blew the game open over the final three. Good game, good interviews after the game, and my story was filed at 10:17.
Saturday was Christmas tree day. As has happened the past couple years, we had a lighting failure that postponed the complete trimming of the tree until Sunday when we could make a trip to Target. We did get the tree inside and in the stand, though, and brought most of the decorations down. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day here, so I was able to take M. and C. outside to burn off some energy while I assembled our yard Santa.
Our local ABC affiL.te was showing the Miami-USF game, for some odd reason, so I followed the KU-MU game on my phone. With what’s happened to the football team over the last six weeks, I was about as non-excited about a KU-MU game as I’ve ever been. There have been years when MU was clearly a lot better and I knew an ass-kicking was coming that I had more enthusiasm for than this year. But it turned into another very exciting game, and ABC even switched over for most of the fourth quarter. I got to see Dez’s big catch-and-run*, a solid defensive stand, and then perhaps the worst play calling in the history of the world. I’m not going to run through the numbers for those of you who did not watch, but if there wasn’t already an excellent chance we’ll have a new coaching staff next year, the offensive coordinator made sure his ass is gone with three unforgivable calls late in the fourth quarter.
(I missed his two huge fumbles, I guess. I love Dez, but he’s sucked this year, given the expectations he entered with. Way too many dropped balls, especially in big situations. He’s not shown me he’s ready for the NFL, and I wonder if his stock is down enough that he’ll come back.)
It was like the good old days of the Glenn Mason era, when pretty much anytime we needed ten yards to put a game away, we’d get eight, punt, and give up the game-winning score just before time ran out.
Perhaps it’s better that way. I’d hate to have seen the kids who have Mangino’s back try to carry him off the field had we won.
LOVED the Jayhawk on the helmet. Keep that big beautiful bird where the whole world can see it. Wasn’t quite as keen on the uniforms. A bold attempt, with some heavy 1970s overtones, but I’m not sure they worked. Not as bad as Mizzou’s uniforms from last year’s game, to be sure. And not as bad as those awful helmets MU broke out. The uniforms were fine but the black on gray or whatever those helmets were? I’m sure lots of old men from across middle Missouri called to complain to Mike Alden during and after the game. I suppose by registering my thumbs down I’m identifying myself as an old man from central Indiana.
(I have to laugh at Nike’s marketing pitch for the new unis they’ve been busting out over the last couple weeks. Do uniforms really weigh so much that shaving half their weight off will make a difference?)
Oh, and it sure seems like the move to Arrowhead was a resounding success. Three different games that were all great in their own way. Lots of money for both schools. Lots of national attention. And from what I heard, it sounds like the game day experience has gotten much better as they’ve tweaked things. Of course, it helps that the two programs are both about as strong as they’ve ever been at the same time. We’ll see what happens if the fallout from this autumn causes KU to take a serious step back for more than a year.
Lots of names being thrown around, but my personal favorite for next KU coach would be Kevin Sumlin, the current Houston coach. He’s an Indy native, so I’ve read a lot about him this year. Seems like a great guy, a solid coach, and he’s spent the last decade in Texas or Oklahoma, prime recruiting ground for every Big 12 program. And while perhaps it’s too transparent of a move, hiring an African-American coach can’t hurt given some of the racial contexts that have surrounded this season’s various controversies.
On to the evening. After working hard to get L. to bed, and being puked on as reward for my efforts, I was able to watch most of the second half of the Indiana 5A state title game, which featured my local team that my tax dollars support and whose defense is coached by my man Coach Hebs.
It was the fourth-straight state title appearance for the local 11. In that stretch, they’ve lost, won, and then lost again, last year giving up an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter.
This year, playing one of their local rivals they narrowly beat earlier this season, they carried an eight-point lead deep into the fourth quarter. The opposing 11 drove inside the ten. After three incompletions in the endzone, they went to the ever-popular fade to the corner. The receiver leapt for the ball as one of our local boys shadowed him. The receiver came down with the ball but appeared out-of-bounds. The referee raised his arms, signaling a touchdown. It was a two-point game with :01 to play. A replay was shown both on TV and inside the stadium. The receiver came down a foot out-of-bounds. Boos errupted from our local fans. The TV announcers didn’t bother to explain what the high school rule on these situations is. They just said it looked like he was out-of-bounds.
Yet, our local 11 was still up by two. Hold on the conversion, and they would be state champions.
They could not hold.
The teams exchanged TDs and two-point conversions in the first overtime. Then our local 11 failed to score in the second, while their opponents marched in for the game winner on their possession.
In the postgame show the announcers still failed to explain why that referee might have signaled for a touchdown at the end of regulation. It wasn’t until I read Sunday’s paper that I learned that in high school, a referee can use his own judgement as to whether a defender pushed a receiver out-of-bounds, and award a catch if he thinks the receiver would have come down inside the line without contact. Apparently that’s what the ref thought. There was contact, but the receiver was heading out-of-bounds already, and I don’t think the defender hit him hard enough to force him out.
So that was a pisser.
Roll on to Sunday. We got our replacement lights and were ready to start trimming the tree while watching the Colts’ game. By the time I got the lights on, the Colts were down 17-0. I figured they would come back, but also wondered if this was the week their luck ran out. I’d not been sleeping well, because of my own cold and L.’s issues. So I laid down, put on <em>Little Bear</em> for the sisters, and took a 90 minute nap.
Wake up, it’s 28-20, Colts. Nice. I’ve already sent a few friends who are bigger fans than me messages saying that I’ll happily take money in order to sleep through every Colts game.
And now, as I’m putting this together, I notice Dennis Dixon is quarterbacking for the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight. I know Dixon well from his days at the University of Oregon. I did not know, until tonight, though, that he is also a graduate of San Leandro High School. I spent roughly a year at that fine institution back in the day. Dixon is my homie! SL in the house!
I hope all of you had happy and safe holidays as well.