I missed this in 2013, and this is not a 3-post series as usual. Instead of writing a lot about each topic, I’ll give a short reason I categorized it where I did. Please make no assumptions or conclusions about what I don’t say; the fact that people are so apt to do that should probably make the “Bad” list, but not this year. Since this is a single post, we’ll lead with…
No Terrorism at World Stage Events - 2014 saw the Winter Olympics in Russia and the World Cup in Brazil. Neither were marred by terrorism.
16 Out of 20 Ain’t Bad - Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood did not want to provide coverage for 4 of the 20 forms of “birth control” mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as they work post-conception (an “abortofacient”). The Supreme Court agreed, in a rare victory for religious freedom.
Plummeting Oil Prices - In spite of the current administration’s best efforts, our economy overcame them. The “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd was vindicated, as an explosion in US oil production caused prices to drop substantially. Fracking has enabled this boom while preserving the environment, and the drop in prices has hit hostile-to-us oil-based economies hard. It’s a big win-win that progressives still can’t throughly grasp.
Republicans Win Control of Congress - This is a qualified “good” entry, assuming that they’ll govern as they ran. Hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?
Tennessee Football Rises - Playing an SEC schedule and non-gimme out-of-conference games with the youngest team in FBS is a recipe for a 3-9 season; the Vols made it 6-6 (and, since this is written after their bowl, 7-6) and have great momentum for 2015.
The Deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner - Neither the Brown nor Garner families had loved ones with them this Christmas that they had last Christmas. There may be speculation as to the incidents surrounding their deaths (and neither are going to trial, so we’ll likely never fully know), but even the public knowing every little detail of what happened will not bring these young men back to their families.
Colorado Going to Pot - The first year’s experiment with legalized marijuana has not gone well. Assurances that children will not be able to easily get it have evaporated, and nearly all the tax money it’s generated has gone to enforcement. Their governor caught some heat for saying that the citizens acted foolishly, but the facts certainly indicate he was correct in his assessment.
Ebola - 2014 was the year Ebola came to America. While there were some ridiculous things with how it was handled, the bad was limited, with some who contracted the disease surviving, and a new set of medical protocols helping to protect those who care for people.
ISIS - Nearly 10 years after being freed, Iraq fell back into enslavement thanks to a group coming in to make a hostile takeover, combined with an army that was not willing to fight for what it had won. Islamic law marches on, while Christians die, in a place where thousands of Americans gave their lives to win freedom.
Russian Aggression Versus Ukraine - Russia invaded and took over part of another sovereign nation. They do not appear to be done yet.
The Handling of the Death of Michael Brown / The Reaction to the Brown Grand Jury Verdict / The Reaction to the Garner Grand Jury Verdict - Ferguson and Missouri police handled the initial aftermath of Brown’s shooting about as poorly as you could. The riots once the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson were unnecessary and unhelpful (and unwanted by Michael Brown’s family), and the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” gesture would have been impactful had it been based in verified fact (which it was not). This was also the case where “unarmed teen” is supposed to imply harmless, peaceful, law-abiding child, but video showed a certain store owner who would dispute that characterization. Once the Garner verdict came out, there were die-ins all across the country, proving nothing, but inconveniencing people who had nothing to do with anything surrounding the case. Two dead New York policemen and one in Florida, at last reports, still hadn’t brought Michael Brown or Eric Garner back to their families. (If I have a chance, there will be much more on this in my MLK post.)
p.s. ALL lives matter.
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing E-mails - Under oath, and subpoena from Congress, IRS chief Lois Lerner claimed to have lost her e-mail. This was after other e-mails came out that pretty much confirmed their deliberate targeting of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election. While those e-mails were “found” toward the end of the year, this Watergate-esque dodge was pathetic. IT does not work that way, and if it does, those people need to be fired.
Computer Security - This was a bad year for computer security. “HeartBleed,” “Shell Shock,” and “Poodle” were names given to long-existing exploits that were discovered in the software that runs much of the Internet. Target fessed up about how large their breach was, and Home Depot let a lot of customer information get away as well. Finally, targeted attacks released iCloud data from celebrities, while an (internal? North Korean? We don’t know yet…) attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment released salaries, movies, even e-mails among leaders and actors. (Maybe we should sic the Guardians of Peace on the IRS!) Hopefully some good will come of this; if nothing else, it will make people think about security before they trust a “cloud” service with their information.
Kaci Hickox - Kaci is a nurse who was exposed to Ebola. She defied quarantine, though, and created a lot of concern. While she ultimately was not found to have the disease, her foolish, selfish actions stirred up a lot of concern in her community. As a medical professional, she should have known better. But, of course, if she had, then her name wouldn’t be on some random guy’s blog in a year-in-review post, would it?
This post has grown out of a discussion I had with a friend over on Facebook, regarding the BCS vs. deciding the championship on the field. I said that it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with something better, and below is an expansion of the remainder of that comment.
All bowls must occur by January 1st. I’m still undecided about whether playoff contenders still play in a bowl, but I’m leaning toward yes, as this leaves the “season” as close to its current incarnation as possible. Once these final rankings come out, the AP top 16 qualify for the playoffs.
Beginning the weekend after New Year’s Day, there will be regional playoffs for the rounds of 16 and 8, then a final four that rotates from year to year; the higher seeds (1-8) go to the regional closest to them that has a spot open. All playoff venues will be NFL facilities, to avoid any team playing on their home field. This would also have to take into consideration teams who make the NFL playoffs, so they won’t lose the use of their home field to use for practice. For the South/East, some venues would be the Georgia Dome (Atlanta) or Raymond James Stadium (Tampa); the West could play at Qualcomm Field (San Diego) or Candlestick Park (San Francisco); the Midwest could play at Cowboys Stadium (Dallas), Soldier Field (Chicago), Reliant Stadium (Houston), or Invesco Field (Denver). For the championship, I foresee NFL stadiums bidding for a chance to host the Final 4, similar to the way cities bid on the NCAA basketball Final 4.
The round of 16 would feature the lower seeds on Friday night, and the higher seeds on Saturday; the following week, the winners would play (staggered Friday/Saturday among regions, to maximize TV time). The round of 4 would play lower seeds on Friday, higher seeds on Saturday, with the championship the following Saturday. This will wrap up the college champion by the end of January, in plenty of time for the Super Bowl, which is usually the first or second weekend in February.
So, how would this play out this year? As of this writing, we would have:
West Regional - Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Friday - #12 Virginia Tech vs. #5 Stanford
Saturday - #16 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Oregon
South/East Regional - Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Friday - #9 Boise State vs. #8 Arkansas
Saturday - #15 Missouri vs. #2 Auburn
Midwest Regional 1 - Invesco Field, Denver, CO
Friday - #11 LSU vs #6 Ohio State
Saturday - #13 Nebraska vs. #4 Wisconsin
Midwest Regional 2 - Cowboys Stadium, Dallas, TX
Friday - #16 Oklahoma vs. #7 Michigan State
Saturday - #14 Nevada vs. #3 TCU
I don’t really see a whole lot wrong with any of these pairings. Nevada/TCU? LSU/Ohio State? Boise/Arkansas? I don’t even follow those schools, but those would be some sweet games. And, throw in a few upsets, and there are some really good college football games in the month of January. Boise State and TCU still get to play for the championship; failing to win your conference championship doesn’t necessarily keep you from getting a shot at the national championship. Any of these 16 teams could win the championship, by winning 4 games in a row.
I don’t know if we’re ready for college teams with records like 18-0 (what Auburn’s record would be if they won out - 12 regular season games, 1 conference championship, 1 bowl, and 4 playoff games). But, as a college football fan, I’d sure love to stop hearing about “BCS Busters” year after year. (It would also make Tim Brando and Rece Davis find something else to talk about.)
The game was great - Fresno State got the ball first, and marched down the field and scored. CSU did the same thing on their drive. It was pretty tight throughout the first three quarters, and both teams played great ball. However, in the fourth quarter, CSU broke it open, and Fresno State wasn’t able to come back. We were sitting near the 1 yard line, and had a great view of Gartrell Johnson’s touchdown run late in the game, which gave CSU what proved to be a game-winning margin.
So thank you, CSU fans, for allowing me to attend the New Mexico Bowl; you have a new fan in Albuquerque. And congratulations, 2008 New Mexico Bowl Champions!
Is it just me, or is college football officiating in general (and SEC officiating in particular) this year just atrocious? I don’t know if the fact that they can review every play has made them sloppy, but the pitiful calls on the field cost Tennessee dearly in Saturday’s 29-9 loss against Alabama.
As the second quarter came to a close, Tennessee was driving. They pushed themselves back with an ill-advised holding penalty. Tennessee runs a play and makes a completion that puts them close to a first down - but out comes the laundry. They call Tennessee for offensive pass interference, and the replay clearly showed no such interference. This was an additional 15-yard penalty, and the kicker missed the field goal attempt. Zebras +3.
Midway through the third quarter, Alabama was getting a drive going. As one of their players was tackled, the ball came loose, and one of Tennessee’s players picked it up and hustled it back 40+ yards for a touchdown. As the celebration commenced, the referee came out and said “The ruling on the field is that the player was down when the ball came out.” The review confirmed the call. Alabama eventually scored a touchdown on that drive. Zebras +7. This drive was also a huge momentum swing for what had been a back-and-forth game up to that point.
And, a note to you [EPSN] announcers - when Tennessee gets called for phantom pass inteference, don’t keep holding it up as a way that “Tennessee just can’t capitalize on these chances Alabama’s giving them.” How are you supposed to capitalize when you do nothing wrong and are penalized 15 yards? (Yes, PK Daniel Lincoln is not having his best year, but still…)
So, what do you fellow college football watchers think - has there been a rash of bad officiating this year? The Tennessee/Alabama game is not the first time I’ve noticed it - Tennessee had a really bad call in the Georgia game too, and even the people calling the game said “Boy, I think they got away with one there.” And it’s not just games involving Tennessee (though, of course, those hold a special place in my heart). And, if you’ve noticed this, what do you think is the cause? Too many rule changes? Instant replay? Aging referees with declining eyesight?
Anyone still want to make the case that Michigan should have been in the BCS Championship Game instead of Florida? [crickets chirping] Thought so…
By the way - as a fan of the Volunteers, I rarely cheer for the Florida Gators. But, NCAA championships in basketball and football in the same year is a first - congratulations to Florida for making history in 2006.
Here is part 3 of the series “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous”. The bad things and the ridiculous things are what they are, but there was still some good in 2006.
I completed my first deployment this year. It was a tough time, but I was in a safe place and was able to participate in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. I wrote a lot about how this deployment affected the way I view things in my posts “Appreciate What You Have” and “Do Not Bend”. The Lord protected me over there, and my family at home. My oldest son stepped up and helped a lot while I was gone, and my wife kept everything going at home, in spite of how difficult it was at times.
Saddam Hussein’s execution was an important development in the War on Terror. Although he had been out of power for years, seeing him brought to justice after a trial is a great symbol of the power of democracy. Some people are upset that he was not tried for even more crimes; but, considering the 100 or so deaths he was on trial for was enough to get him the death penalty, what more could they want? You can’t kill the guy twice! (Some folks over at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler (language warning in effect) have some ideas - as well as the video of the actual execution.)
As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, more and more of these high-level leaders are being either captured or killed. If they’re captured, the justice system will do its job; and, if they’re killed, well… that just saves time. And, as the people of the Middle East begin to see democracy and a rule of law take hold, they’ll be drawn to it.
In college football and NASCAR, my folks made a resurgence after a disappointing 2005. The Tennessee Vols followed up their first losing season since Phil Fulmer had become head coach with a 9-3 finish, losing only to #2 Florida, #4 LSU, and #13 Arkansas. Throughout the year, quarterback Erik Ainge matured greatly, and became more willing to hand off the ball to a running back, which lead to more big passes opening up for him. Freshman running back LaMarcus Coker had an outstanding year, and looks to be one of the best running backs Tennessee has had in a while - and that’s saying something. Congratulations to the Vols on a great year.
Jeff Gordon became the Nextel Cup Champion! Well, OK, Jimmie Johnson was top driver, but since Jeff owns Jimmie’s cars, he is the owner’s points champion. He did finish the season in 6th as a driver. The comes after a season when he did not make the Chase for the Nextel Cup (although he did finish at the “top of the losers” 11th spot). Consistency was the name of the game this year for Gordon, crew chief Steve Letarte, and the rest of his crew; he finished in the top 10 in half of the 36 races, and won 2 of them. Were it not for two mechanical problems and a wreck back-to-back-to-back, he would have given his protoge a run for his money. On top of that, he got married in 2006, and he and his wife are now expecting their first child. Congratulations x 3 for you, Jeff, and here’s to a great 2007!
Those are the best things to come out of 2006, in my humble opinion. If you’ve read all three parts, you’ll realize that in the big picture, these don’t quite balance out - Tennessee’s winning season doesn’t offset North Korea’s nuclear tests, for example. But, what this does illustrate is that even when bad things of enormous import are happening, it is still possible to be personally happy and satisfied.
Instant Replay has been used in the NFL for a few years now, and this year, the NCAA’s Big 10 conference has instituted it as well. I prefer the NFL’s rules, where the coach is allowed two challenges, and if both are overturned, a third. Challenges are not allowed during the final two minutes of play, so they can’t be used as “extra time-outs” during the game; and, if a challenge fails to result in a changed call, the team is charged a time-out. In my opinion, it has been quite successful in helping to correct some pretty bad calls.
The most recent contender for a clearly overturnable call was the non-call of pass interference in Saturday’s LSU/Alabama game. An LSU defender pushed the Alabama receiver down, intercepted a pass, and ran it back out to the middle of the field. It was a game-changing ruling - Alabama had been struggling (and continued to struggle) to move the ball, and was close to scoring. Now, I’m no Alabama fan (Go Vols!!!), but that call was flat out wrong.
College football is such big business these days - we’ve got human rankings, computer rankings, and a collage of them together helping us decide a “national champion.” Nobody likes a tie, it seems - that’s the reason for the NCAA’s overtime rules. While we’re at it, let’s take the technology of today to help make the game more fair for the kids who are playing their hearts out Saturday after Saturday.