American Crow

The Zeros Never Lie

In Chicago Sports, Notre Dame on December 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm
Was the lecture on Mammon not in the curriculum?

Notre Dame continues to amaze with their altruistic vision of money grubbing fraud.  Seriously, if Notre Dame was my secret santa, they would gift wrap a piece of dog poo, attempt to convince me that the gift is actually something other than dog poo, then claim offense for any suggestion that they would ever gift wrap dog poo.

In my opinion, college universities with major football and basketball programs have clouded the line between themselves and their professional brethren.  The money made by the 6 major equity conferences (Atlantic Coast/ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern/SEC) and the independent Notre Dame have tainted college sports into basically creating an alternative professional sports league.

The worst offender is the University of Notre Dame.  The Catholic university with the motto “Life, Sweetness, and Hope” should add greed, arrogance, and being disingenuous.  The football team has an exclusive contract with NBC for an estimated $9 million per year through 2015.  Back in 2005, Notre Dame signed a 10 year / $60 million apparel contract with Adidas.  It has a $5.5 billion endowment, but still rose tuition 4.4% during a recession.  It now costs an undergraduate student $48,845 (including room and board) to attend Notre Dame, and that doesn’t include the additional $230 to attend the 8 home games.

I feel the university has really gone downhill since the George O’Leary debacle of 2001, where Notre Dame hired the Georgia Tech coach without fully checking his inaccurate resume, which included falsifying his academic credentials and attending a non-existent school.  Subsequently, they hire Tyrone Willingham, whose firing 3 years later represented the first time in school history that a coach was fired before their initial contract expired.  Next was Charlie Weis.  After posting a 5-2 record in his first half of his first year, Notre Dame officials extended his contract to 10-years, which was to be worth a reported $30–40 million through 2015.  The extension was a horrible deal as Weis was fired this year.  No wonder tuition is going up, they have to pay Charlie Weis for the next 6 years to do nothing.

Obviously, the Willingham and Weis hires were bad calls.  Oddly enough, both Willingham and Weis had books written about them touting a “return/rise to glory.”:

I was surprised to find these listed under non-fiction.  I guess these books are slightly less presumptuous than the Tribune book “This is The Year” touting the Cubs 2008 season just before losing to the Dodgers in the playoffs.  Seriously, we need a special place in the Dewey Decimal System for books that jump the gun, which would be right next to books on Global Warming.

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick hired Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly to be the next head football coach at Notre Dame.  Kelly just won the Big East conference with an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats squad (which in another example of NCAA fraud will not be given an opportunity to play for a national championship) and whose team will play in the Sugar Bowl against Florida on January 1st.  Notre Dame’s ego was on full display as they hired Kelly on December 11th thereby preventing him from coaching his undefeated squad in their bowl game.  Hey ND, way to think about Cincinnati’s students.  Even the NFL prevents interviews for any coaches or assistant coaches with teams still in the playoffs.  But then again, this is Notre Dame, who unapologetically writes their own rules.  Couldn’t Notre Dame have waited one month before beginning their coaching search?  Couldn’t they come to a verbal agreement and announce the hiring after the bowl game?  Couldn’t the NCAA write a rule preventing interviews between the regular and bowl season?  This situation is completely set up to the advantage of the money makers, in this example the university and coaches.

Did Kelly express remorse?

“Transition is very difficult…Those situations are extremely emotional. I handled myself in a way that was up front and honest. I’m forever grateful for the players at the University of Cincinnati, for what they gave me. They gave me this opportunity at Notre Dame.”

What a jackass.  Transition is difficult…but not difficult enough when you get millions.  Glad you feel you were up front and honest even though your old players don’t agree.  Way to pat yourself on the back.  You get to go off and make millions.  Players have to commit to the university, get paid nothing, and have no head coach for their bowl game.

For a more realistic perspective, ask Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard how he feels:

“I heard everything I needed to know: ‘I accepted the Notre Dame job.’  He went for the money. I’m fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long.  I don’t like it…I feel there was a little lying in the thing. I feel like he’d known this the whole time. Everybody knows Notre Dame’s got the money. I kind of had a gut feeling he was going to stay just because he told me he was going to be here…Just blindsided by the fact that it’s a business.  People lose sight of that. At the end of the day, NCAA football is a business. People have got to make business decisions.”

During a news conference announcing the Weis firing, Swarbrick patronized Weis by discussing his national championship…in academics:

“You know, Charlie did win a National Championship; he won a National Championship when his football program finished first in graduation success rate this year, and that is an important contribution and one which we value very highly.”

Weis’ players were not just good classroom performers but the best performers in the country as he won a National Championship…in academics.  Apparently, winning an academic national championship is still not good enough to keep a job.  Imagine if the opposite were true.  Could anyone imagine Notre Dame firing Weis after winning a National Championship in football but only graduating 1/3 of the team (à la Bob Huggins)?  I guess if you are looking for excellence, its more economically feasible to have it on the field then in the classroom.

So much for high standards.  Notre Dame likes to publicize its standards when financially to their advantage.  They put a contract renewal with Taco Bell on hold due to their lack of disclosure regarding labor standards.  While Adidas has the same problems (which came under fire at Michigan and Wisconsin back in 2007), there is no talk about ending that contract.  The difference here is the Taco Bell’s contract is for hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the Adidas deal is worth millions.

Notre Dame has transitioned into exactly what they professed they would never be…just like everyone else.  They are no different from Alabama, Oklahoma, or USC.  Well, slightly different.  They still can’t win games.

It’s gotten so bad that even Jesus doesn’t want to coach there.

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This Week in Chicago Sports Envy (11/29/09): College Football Edition

In Chicago Sports on November 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Given that Notre Dame is about to fire their 3rd head football coach since 2000 and Illinois is stuck in the Big 10 cellar, The Chicago Tribune needs to find a successful football story and their new favorite team is the Northwestern Wildcats.  In the November 23rd Chicago Tribune, reporter Teddy Greenstein examines the factors that will drive the bowl committee’s team selection of Wisconsin or Northwestern.  In my opinion, the bowl committee will choose teams based on the following 2 factors:  (a) teams providing a good matchup and (b) teams that will bring in the most money.  Teddy’s analysis looks at these 2 criteria and a host of other absurd critera:

Wisconsin advantages over Northwestern:

  • Better overall record, assuming the Badgers beat Hawaii (9-3 vs. 8-4). (Legit point)
  • Much larger fan base. (Absolutely legit point)
  • A stronger “name.” (Another legit point)
  • Many would view the Badgers as a better matchup against an SEC opponent such as LSU or Tennessee. (This may be true, but Northwestern may pose an interesting matchup as well)
  • A possible Top 25 ranking, though the Badgers fell out this week after their loss to Northwestern. (Another legit point)

Northwestern advantages over Wisconsin:

  • Head-to-head victory. (OK, this one is legit)
  • Wisconsin’s Florida bowl fatigue: The Badgers have played in Florida bowls the last five years. (And this is a problem, how???  The Badgers and their fans travel well and, except for last year’s trouncing by Florida State, the games have been exciting with Wisconsin winning 2 of the 5 contests)
  • Wisconsin’s season-ending trip to Hawaii will pull some traveling fans away from its bowl game. (Again, huh?  The bowl game is in Florida, not the China.  And, the games are over one month apart.  I don’t think the fans will be too worn out for a drive to Tampa.  Wisconsin fans will travel anywhere there is beer).
  • The Wildcats have momentum after winning three straight. (Legit point)
  • Northwestern has not played in a Florida bowl since the 1997 Citrus — and never has played in Tampa. (Does anyone really think the bowl committee really cares about the last time Northwestern played in Florida?  However, lets take Teddy’s point and examine that 1997 Citrus bowl, in which Tennessee beat Northwestern 41 – 21, and was leading 21-0 after the first quarter.  It was the 2nd biggest bowl thumping I have ever seen except for the 2000 Alamo bowl, where Northwestern lost to Nebraska 66 – 17).

How does one measure envy…the length at which one is willing to make stuff up.

Flying Through O’Hare Makes Me Feel Like ****

In Chicago Blogs, O'Hare on August 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Useless I am on my way to Charlotte for my cousin’s wedding.  I hate travelling.  Pre 9-11, I used to travel for work about 17 weeks per year.  After about four years of constant delays, luggage mishaps, security nightmares, and standby list screw jobs, I looked for a different line of work and avoided airports at all costs.  It even bothers me to come to the airport to pick up friends given that the Soviet Red Army is guarding the drop off / pick up lanes with their ticket briefcase and yellow glow stick.

I left my South Loop apartment over two hours before the flight left.  After catching a bus to the “EL” stop, I took the train to another train, which then took me to O’Hare.  The bus was fine, and the first “EL” train was also fine; however, the second train was a ridiculously slow.  I have no idea why.  Construction on the tracks?  No.  Train in front of us?  No.  Rush hour (i.e. many passengers getting on and off)?  No.  Homeless dude urinating on the tracks?  Not today.  I think that the slowdown was the result of pacing the train.  The CTA is on a budget crisis and they probably have less trains leaving, thus slowing throughput.   What should only take 50 minutes is now taking over an hour and 10 minutes as the driver is waiting at stops longer and driving the train slower.

After all this trouble, I still made it to the airport with 50 minutes to spare.  I wasn’t checking any bags and already had my boarding pass.  It took me about 7 or 8 minutes to get to the security line from the “EL” station.  The line was longer than usual, but I was figuring no more than 20 minutes tops.  This should give me at least 20 minutes, which is more than enough time to walk to the terminal.

Couple of problems with my estimates starting with the screening process.  The bottleneck in the operation was not necessarily the number of people in line but rather the TSA security officer taking far too long to check through bags.  We had tons of people standing and waiting for their bags to go through the screening machine.  Once I actually made it to the machine, I had to wait at least 5 minutes before my bags actually made it through.  I left security with 10 minutes to spare before my flight left.  I then noticed that my flight was leaving Terminal C and I was in Terminal B.  The only way to get to Terminal C from B is to walk in this very bizarre 80s-modernistic, Alice in Wonderland-esque relaxation tube.  The tube is so long that I think its dropping me off somewhere in Wisconsin.

Where is the white rabbit?

Where is the white rabbit? Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!

The mind bending spa music gave me my Timothy Leary moment of clarity.  I had a vision of myself as my morning’s healthy and nutritious breakfast being chewed up by the teeth of the “EL” and the stomach of the TSA.  I am now entering the intestine of the “Love Tunnel” on my way to the anus of Terminal C.  It is fitting description of the events, given that commercial airlines typically treat their passengers like a bowel movement.  Take my nutrients (i.e money) and poop me out.

I ran to the gate.  When I arrived, the door had been closed.  The ticketing agent (aka Nurse Ratched), returned to tell me that the flight was sold out and that they gave my seat away to a standby customer.  “How could you do that,” I proclaimed.  “I checked in on-line and have my boarding pass.  I’ve been waiting at this door for over 5 minutes”

“It doesn’t matter” said the agent while looking down and typing away on her keyboard.  “If you are not here 10 minutes before your departure time, we provide seats to the standing list.  Also, I called your name on the loudspeaker.”

I love how airlines get to write the 10 minute non-guarantee rule without checking with me first.  It is a “fine print” example of a company inventing rules that seek to benefit only them.  I cannot think of another situation where a company will give away your purchase if not claimed 10 minutes before delivery.  In my opinion, the seat is mine and if I don’t get it nobody should.  The reason this rule exists is because airlines are so incompetent they cannot profit without it.  Next thing you know they will start charging you for bags.

The ticketing agent was hearing me but not listening.  She has probably heard my story a million times before.  I loved her irreverence while she continues to type away not making eye contact.    She is like an automated call center.  I was waiting for her to say ‘Press pound after your response.’

“I was stuck in security,” I replied.  “Does your loudspeaker work over there?”

She finally look up at me with an annoying frown.  “No,” replied the agent.

“What was I supposed to do?  Security couldn’t get me through the line any faster.”

She shrugged her shoulders confirming her indifference.

“Look, I know you don’t care, but what am I supposed to do now?”

Her ears perked up.  “Sir, I do care.  Head to gate C16 for customer service.  There is another flight leaving in two hours.  See if you can get on the standby list.”

I am fuming as I walk to customer service.  Is it just me, or does every airline customer service area remind me of a a combination of a refugee camp and a Ponderosa buffet.  Stranded passengers from around the world come here for any and all issues, which are in turn completed by the lowest quality of employee.  Seriously, I think employees are assigned to Customer Service as punishment.  Also, why are the lines typically moving slower than the DMV at lunchtime?   This particular line probably had 15 or so people in it with 3 agents.  After 40 minutes, I finally get to the front part of the line, but by this time the line has easily doubled to 30 people.  In an act of unbelievable arrogance, two of the agents leave the desk and are replaced by one agent.  Are you kidding me?  If you have 3 agents and the line grows, what happens if you only have 2 agents?  Is the government overseeing this operation?

5 minutes later I finally get to the desk.  It takes the agent another 5 minutes to put me on the standby list and issue my ticket on a later flight.  The standby flight leaves in an hour and a half but is delayed by an additional hour.   I’m never getting out of here.  Seriously, this airport needs an enema.

This might be a little small for this logjam

This might be a little small for this logjam