The end of the world (as we know it): 11 January 2011

Ok, this is going to be a stream-of-consciousness kind of post, mostly because it’s caffeine-fueled and sleep-deprived after last night’s national championship game. As far national championships go, this was one of the best I’ve ever watched. In fact, it’s one of the few that I’ve watched in its entirety, a fact owed to my location in the Eastern (Worstest) Time Zone. I love football, but my God, an 8:37 pm kickoff pushes a game into Tuesday morning. People have to work! I do miss the Central Time Zone of my youth, that’s for sure.
Re: the game – well played by both teams. I skipped the much-too-long, much-too-over-the-top hype, I mean, “coverage,” before  the game. Sure it’s interesting (kinda) to see which of the 80 possible uniform combinations the Ducks would don (think I’m joking? Check here – and remember, in 2006, the number of possible combinations was 384. Seriously.) , but beyond that, I was just ready for some football.

Ducks on Parade

The booth crew for the night was Brent Musburger (more on him later) and Kirk Herbstreit. I don’t know why Musburger insists on saying, going into a commercial break, “It’ll be Auburn ball when you come back,” instead of the more traditional (and inclusive, I might add) “we,” but it sticks out.  I used to really get annoyed at Herbstreit – mostly because, early in his broadcasting career, he suffered from that most common malady of Ohio State supporters – the belief that OSU Is Better Than Anyone Ever.  He has gotten better. And Musburger has grown on me. Yeah, he too often tries to be a mashup of Cosell and Keith Jackson and he’s in the “totally out of touch” age range, but the man does know his football. He had a moment last night, though, that definitely made you wonder if he’s still sharp. That would be the premature TD he called as an Oregon receiver streaked toward the end zone. Touchdown! NOOOO!.  Hell, I though the guy was gone, too, but I wasn’t calling the game on national TV. Then there was the lame “This is for all the Tostitos.”

Oregon took the field in a fairly toned down uni – for Oregon that is. Day Glo yellow (green?) socks and “O” on the helmet.  Speaking of the helmet, I spent about 10 minutes studying it and battling vertigo. The gray/silver/”carbon” helmet looked cool enough, but there was op-art pattern that seemed to ring the entire helmet. We never got a close enough look to see what exactly the design was, but my budding entrepreneur son, knowing his geography, claimed to know exactly what the rings represented.  “Trees,” he said. What? “Tree rings. Oregon is known for its forestry.” And tree huggers, I added. I don’t know, but it was best theory I heard all night, so I’m going with it. Judge for yourself:

Speaking of trying to figure out the “what the ?” The game was played in the same stadium the Arizona Cardinals play in and where the Fiesta Bowl is played. You may remember that for a brief period, this building was referred to as “Cardinals Stadium,” but it’s now known as “University of Phoenix Stadium.” Which is clever, sorta. I mean, who doesn’t know that the University of Phoenix is an online institution of higher learning and has no athletic program? Probably the same people who tuned in last night and said, “Huh. So THAT’S where the University of Phoenix plays.” See, I told you. Clever.
Geico let me down last night, by the way. Not once did I see my favorite commercial – the dang woodchucks chucking wood. The big dog seemed to be Discover Card commercials. I like the “Peggy” commercials, especially the one where the very attractive woman loses it after getting transferred. And I really like the Bobby Bowden commercial: “Son, I’m not too old to find you.” My own son cackles at that one, remarking that it sounds like something my stepfather would say. (Again, he’s right.) But I really wanted those dang woodchucks.

I mentioned Brent Musburger. Seeing/hearing him last night reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a friend. We were talking football (of course. It was Sunday.) and we got on the subject of The Great Ones after Jim Brown’s appearance at the Cotton Bowl. It wasn’t long before we were talking about Walter Payton (the best I ever saw, and the classiest athlete ever). My friend mentioned seeing a clip a long time ago of some of Payton’s highlights set to the music of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” and asked if I had heard of it. Heard of it?? It was a Thanksgiving Day game between the Bears and Lions that featured Walter and his little brother Eddie (who played for the Lions at the time).  At halftime, Phyllis George introduced the clip with … wait for it … Brent Musburger. It was one of the most inspiring halftime tributes I ever saw, before or since.  I couldn’t locate the original, but this (Sweetness) will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. They didn’t call him “Sweetness” for nothing, people.

Finally, the Football Gods intervened and, thanks to a bizarre play, allowed Auburn to ice the game shortly before midnight. Which was good, because I’d already broken out the Manual of Cusswords To Use For Overtime. While it pains me to say congratulations to Auburn, I’m happy to know that for the fifth consecutive year, the SEC reigns supreme in college football.

Now, more coffee.

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