The scene: The decision room at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. The issue at hand: Which city will host the games of the 31st Olympiad?
IOC Official No. 1: This is ridiculous! I mean, I know itís only been a little more than a decade since the U.S. hosted the Summer Games, but ó
IOC Official No. 2: Last time we were there for the Summer Games that crazy white supremacist snuck in and bombed the place.
IOC Official No. 1: Oh come on! Youíre denying an entire country just because of one unfortunate terrorist attack?
IOC Official No. 3: Why do you think we havenít been back to Germany since Ď72?
IOC Official No. 1: OK, OK. So you guys are citing security concerns in the U.S., but leaning toward having the games in Rio? One of most dangerous cities in the world?
IOC Official No. 3: What can I say? That Pele is a charming fella!
IOC Official No. 2: And this is some top grade burro meat he brought with him, I tell you what. Virtually hair-free!
IOC Official No. 1: Unbelievable.
IOC Official No. 2: All right, fine. Letís discuss the real reason were picking Rio for 2016 and not the obviously better choice of Chicago or....well, any of the rest of the cities on the list...
IOC Official No. 1: Lay it on me...
IOC Official No. 3: You know that the same country canít host two Summer Games in a row, right?
IOC Official No. 1: Well yeah, of course I do.
IOC Official No. 2: Well, we think that 2020 is the perfect time for America to get back into the Olympic spirit!
IOC Official No. 1: But... thatís crazy! Thereís only one American city that filled out our Facebook questionnaire to host for 2020, and you canít possibly be thinking that ó
IOC Official No. 3: Oh, yes we are!
IOC Official No. 2: Birmingham, Alabama will be a fine site for the 2020 Olympiad!
IOC Official No. 1: But, but... the government there... itís in shambles. It takes seven hours of standing in line just to get a car tag! Jefferson County is on the brink of the worst bankruptcy in the history of American government. They have no transit, no hotel space, no infrastructure! Crime is out of control! Their mayor is a chain-smoking, money-laundering, double-talking, stark-raving, Machiavellian lunatic! What in the world has come over ó wait, whatís that canvas bag over in the corner?
IOC Official No. 3: Canvas bag? Preposterous!
IOC Official No. 2: Yes, letís hear no more about this so-called canvas bag with the big dollar sign on it. Which, I mean, absolutely doesnít have a dollar sign on it! Itís got a ó itís a ó I mean it doesnít, uh...what canvas bag?
IOC Official No. 1: Whatís that say? Colonial Bank?!?
Scene: City Hall, Birmingham, Alabama. Same day. A television in the mayorís office flashes the news that Rio will host the 2016 Games.
Larry Langford: Best $500,000 I ever spent! Where are my smokes?
- Fin -
One streak lives, another one ends
Got this e-mail last Thursday, a couple of hours before the UAB-Southern Miss game:
Do you know the ESPN game, Streak for the Cash? They have a prop tonight about total points in tonightís Southern Miss - UAB football game:
(a) 60 Points or Fewer
(b) 61 Points or More
Iím thinking of picking (a) 60 Points or Fewer, but wonder what you think, since you cover UAB football.
Turns out I was indeed familiar with the ESPN ďStreak for the CashĒ promo, which allows fans to ďbetĒ on any one of several scenarios from that dayís sports action in hopes that theyíll string together 25 in a row and come away with a cool million bucks. I played a couple of times, never got my streak past three or four in a row. Now Iím generally not very good at giving advice, and I didnít want to be the one responsible for kiboshing this young ladyís streak. For all I knew, she was at 22 or 23 already! So I responded in a way befitting a cowardly individual, such as myself:
Well I would probably lean toward the under myself. UAB is struggling mightily offensively and the Eagles do play solid defense. The only question: Can UAB get any stops on the S.M. offense? I doubt it... considering they gave up 50+ to A&M last week. So Iím not very confident in either side... but if I had to choose Iíd take the under. Good luck!
In other words: Take the under, but I donít know. See? This is why I donít give advice.
As it turns out, Jesse Chambers and I made our way to Legion Field last week for that game, perched ourselves in the press box, noshed some complimentary pre-game vittles and provided a NCAA-approved ďliveĒ blog of our experience. It was a defensive affair, at least until the waning moments of the fourth quarter, when an extraordinary set of circumstances involving Joe Webbís arm, UABís defensive prowess and Southern Missí lackadaisical punt fielding turned into a huge upset victory for the Blazers.
Not since that night nine years ago when Watson Brown out-coached Nick Saban in the Bayou had the klieg lights shown brighter on the UAB football program. And thatís not necessarily because the Blazers played like gangbusters. To be honest, itís fair to ask whether UAB won that game or Southern Miss lost it. Rather, the win was a big one because, for once this season, the Blazers owned the news cycle.
We all saw what happened. Why? Because the T.V. news stations had nothing else to cover. We all read about it the next morning. Why? Because the News sent itís ace columnist to cover it. We all talked about it the following afternoon. Why? Because Paul Finebaum was with us in the press box. If UAB had laid an egg last Thursday, boy, that would have been a disaster. But instead they made hay. For their sake and the sake of what used to be the Football Capital of the South, one hopes this is a trend.
And yes, in case youíre wondering, Laura took the under. Iíll be taking at least six percent of that million, pre-tax of course.
Perhaps I gave Lane Kiffin a little too much credit...
Two things that arenít hard to do: Get a rise out of Tennessee fans and make fun of Lane Kiffin. Fortunately, we can do a little multitasking here.
Things I called Lane Kiffin in the preseason: ďa bum,Ē ďGoofusĒ (as in Gallantís foil from the old cartoon strip), ďan embarrassmentĒ and ďthe worst hire in the modern era of SEC football.Ē So far, Iím doing pretty good.
The Tennessee offense, I begrudgingly use the cliche, is offensive. Jonathan Crompton is the worst quarterback Iíve seen play in this league since Brandon Avalos filled in for Spencer Pennington during the 2004 Alabama football season. And Lane Kiffinís refusal to bench him in favor of...anybody else!...is perplexing at best. But donít take my word for it. Read what Tennessee fan and author Clay Travis had to say about the situation on his Fanhouse blog:
ďRight now, Kiffinís refusal to make a change at quarterback is slowly bleeding his head-coaching legitimacy among the fan base. In his first season Kiffin has struck an iceberg, and heís going down on the S.S. Crompton. So is his team. Itís time for a change. Lane Kiffin has been brash, confident, and quotable. What he hasnít been is a winner.Ē
If Lane Kiffin had spent more time during the offseason adequately addressing his teamís concerns at quarterback and less time calling out his rival coaches and players, maybe the Vols would be sitting better than 2-3 heading into the difficult stretch of their schedule. Instead, I get another chance to blow the dust off my favorite quote from our 16th President, who once remarked: ďBetter to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.Ē Or to coach, for that matter.
Upon Further Review is the Birmingham Weekly sports page. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org