Thoughtless And Hopelessly Self-Absorbed

Sometimes I wonder about if people have changed, or whether there have always been a healthy percentage of seriously jerky people in the American population.  Did the “Greatest Generation” that survived the Great Depression and won World War II to usher in an era of great prosperity, for example, have a significant number of thoughtless and hopelessly self-absorbed members — or is the presence of such people an unfortunate modern phenomenon?

close-up-of-measles-rash-f7cd43Consider this article.  A 57-year-old Wisconsin man stayed in a hotel with people who have the measles — which is one of the most contagious diseases around.  The measles virus is communicated to different people by coughing and sneezing, and the virus is hardy enough to live for two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed.  In order words, you don’t need to be in the same room as someone who has measles at the same time for the disease to be transmitted.  The U.S. regularly deals with measles outbreaks when an infected person appears in a community, some members of the community aren’t vaccinated, and the disease quickly starts to spread.  With more and more people blithely deciding they don’t need to have their children vaccinated, the risks of an outbreak are multiplying.

Because the man had potentially been exposed to measles, officials decided it was prudent to keep him quarantined for 21 days and he was ordered to stay home.  Police officers were even posted outside his home to make sure he obeyed the quarantine order.  But because the man felt that he was “going crazy” inside his house, he enlisted his wife to help him escape.  He hid in her car and went to a gym so he could work out.  A gym, of course, would rank right up there as one of the best places for the measles virus to spread — an enclosed space where people are exercising in close quarters, and therefore breathing deeply of the shared air.

The man says he only stayed at the gym for a few minutes, because he started feeling guilty, and when he and his wife were later found outside by deputies, he apologized.  He’s now been charged with violating his quarantine order, and he points out that he never was officially diagnosed with measles and never thought he was symptomatic.  But, of course, that’s not a decision he gets to make, and now he and his wife are being prosecuted for their stupid and dangerous decision.

I think it would be tough to stay cooped up in your house for 21 days without getting cabin fever, but quarantine orders are for the public good.  You’d like to think that a mature adult would accept such an order and deal with it — but apparently that’s not the case.  I think anyone who would violate such an order and unilaterally decide to go to a public place like a gym, where they could potentially be exposing innocent people to one of the most contagious diseases around, should be prosecuted.  Maybe he’ll learn that the world doesn’t revolve around him, and there’s such a thing as a greater good.

Voters’ Remorse

With the onset of early voting in Ohio and many other states, and the increasing number of people who decide to exercise that option, you have to wonder if last-minute revelations and disclosures — like, this year, FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure about the resurrection of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices — will have much of an impact on national elections.

After all, if people have already voted, they’re done, right?

indecisive-peopleNot so fast!  It turns out that, in seven states, you can change your early vote.  Connecticut, Michigan,  Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all let early voters change their minds and correct their ballots.

In Wisconsin, early voters can change their ballots up to three times before the votes are officially deemed to have been cast– but if they’re going to do it, they have to act by November 4.  It’s a cumbersome process that involves election officials individually retrieving the person’s completed ballot and then having the voter document that they have changed their mind and are submitting a second, superseding ballot.  This year, according to a report from a Wisconsin TV station, some voters in fact have changed their mind and invoked the so-called “three strikes” re-vote process.

People argue about whether early voting is a good idea, with some opponents noting that it results in voters having different levels of information because of the possibility of late-breaking developments.  I’m in favor of early voting, because I think anything that allows more people to vote, easily and consistent with their work and child care and other obligations, is a good thing.  But the notion that, under some states’ laws, early voters can change their mind is an intriguing concept.  And in this election, where the choice is bemoaned by so many people, the “fickleness factor” may be magnified.  Indeed, apparently the Google search for “change early voting” was trending over this past weekend, after Comey’s announcement.

I’m not sure how I feel about people who have voted early changing their minds and getting a “do over” on their ballots . . . much less doing so three times.  Obviously, that’s not something you can do if you vote on Election Day, and I’m not sure the rules should be different.  But I do know this:  if you haven’t reached a clear, settled, and final decision in your own mind on how to vote — one way, or the other, or not at all in the presidential election — you probably shouldn’t be voting.

Trinity’s End

Tomorrow Ohio State plays its first game.  That means it’s almost time to put aside The Trinity.

The Trinity, of course, refers to the last three games that Ohio State played to reel in the first ever college football playoff championship.  The Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin to get into the playoffs, roared back to upset Alabama in the semifinal game, then spanked Oregon in the National Championship Game to bring home the trophy.

For members of Buckeye Nation, this Trinity of games is just this side of heaven.  They are three of the finest games Ohio State has played in my lifetime, and for them to come back-to-back-to-back, with all of the marbles and pressure and SEC jinxes on the line, is just short of incredible.

So, I’ve watched them, and watched them, and watched them.  I’ve seen the 30-minute version of the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin so many times that I’ve pretty much memorized dvery Cardale Jones completion and every catch phrase in Gus Johnson’s commentary.  I’ve watched Ezekiel Elliot split the Alabama defense and rip away for 85 yards so often that I see it in my dreams — which is a good thing.  And the fourth-and-goal stop of Oregon, following by the relentless ground game that chewed the Ducks into bits, is indelibly carved into my memory banks.

But now, it’s time to put those wonderful things away.  When a new season starts, you’ve got to forget the past and focus on the present.  There’s nothing sadder than football fans who live in the past.  I’m sure there are Michigan and Penn State fans who need to go deep into their history to find happy moments — and that’s pathetic.  I’d rather live and die with this year’s team than revel forever in last year’s glory.  That’s part of the fun of sports.

I’ll always remember The Trinity.  In fact, since we’re still more than 24 hours from kickoff, there’s still time for me to enjoy them — one more time.

Night Game

IMG_4986Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer is a big fan of playing football at night, under the lights.  It’s not hard to understand why.

When the sun goes down and the lights come on, the atmosphere becomes more charged.  The fans — fueled, in many instances, by ample alcohol consumption at tailgates — are seriously into the game and ready to scream.  Playing at night just seems cooler.  When you add in a flyover and fireworks launched from the top of the south scoreboard, as Ohio State did in its game against Wisconsin last night, you create an atmosphere that is designed to appeal to kids, and particularly the recruits who are trying to decide where to take their athletic talents.

Last night was a great atmosphere, and the Buckeyes won over a good Wisconsin team, 31-24.  As Buckeyes fans left the Horseshoe after 11 p.m., they could be happy with the result — but also confident that they would be seeing Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis, who created his own fireworks with 10 catches and more than 200 yards gained, in their fevered dreams.  Thank God that kid is a senior!

 

76-0

Today the Ohio State Buckeyes trounced the Florida A&M Rattlers, 76-0.  The game was expected to be a rout — and it was.  Ohio State had more than 600 yards of offense and only had to punt once.  Florida A&M put up only 80 yards of offense and never got close to the Ohio State goal line.  Ohio State was favored to win by 57 points, and it almost exceeded that line by halftime, when the Buckeyes went into the locker room ahead 55-0.

IMG_1440People here in Columbus complained about the quality of the game.  It wasn’t a much-heralded match-up, to be sure, but it’s not entirely the fault of the OSU Athletic Department.  The Buckeyes had scheduled Vanderbilt, but the Commodores backed out.  So, Ohio State went looking for someone to fill the open date, and the Rattlers agreed to be the sacrificial lambs.  We shouldn’t feel too bad for them, though — they got a nice fee for coming to Ohio Stadium and getting pulverized.

Although games like today’s aren’t competitive, they still can be interesting.  You get to see players you’ve only heard about until now.  Today, freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott had his coming out party, rushing for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and we got to see third-string quarterback Cardale Jones run the offense.  They both look like they may be able to contribute in the future.  Other players who’ve been working hard in practice had their chances, too.  Carlos Hyde came back after a three-game suspension and got some touches, the OSU defense manhandled the Rattlers’ offense, and Braxton Miller got another week of healing as Kenny Guiton put up another OSU offensive record.

Next week, the season starts in earnest as Wisconsin comes to the Horseshoe.  After next Saturday night, we’ll have a better idea of how good this Buckeyes team really is.

Down Goes Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines have had a tough time of it lately.

Michigan was undefeated for the first two months of the season.  On January 12, they were 16-0 and ready to become the number one-ranked team in the nation.  At that point, everyone raved about the Wolverines’ offensive efficiency, their tough defense, their talented players like Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., and their heralded freshmen like Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

On January 13, however, Ohio State held the high-flying Michigan offense to 53 points and beat the Wolverines in Columbus.  Since then, the other coaches in the Big Ten — which some people call the best-scouted league in the country — have tried to exploit the weaknesses first exposed by the Buckeyes.  Michigan ended the regular season 25-7 and lost 5 of its last 10 games.  Today Michigan got knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament by Wisconsin, losing 69-58. The Wolverines lost even though they held Wisconsin to only 17 points in the first half.

Michigan fans are depressed, but college basketball is full of ups and downs.  If I were a Michigan fan — and I’m not, of course — I’d be glad that the Wolverines are done with the Big Ten and can focus on the NCAA Tournament.  Michigan has a lot of talent, and if they play teams that don’t play defense like they do in the Big Ten, Michigan could make a run in the Big Dance.  I wouldn’t count them out.

 

The Big Ten Tightens Up

This year’s Big Ten has got to be the most entertaining basketball conference in years — and, perhaps, the best conference as well.

Over the past few days, the top three teams in the conference — Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan — all have lost.  Ohio State’s victory over Michigan State on Sunday wasn’t that much of an upset, but Minnesota’s win over top-ranked Indiana last night was a real surprise, and Penn State’s victory tonight over Michigan, in a game in which Michigan frittered away a double-digit lead, is an absolute shocker.  Before that game, Penn State hadn’t won a conference game all year.  As a result of the upsets, Indiana leads the conference race with three losses, Michigan State and steady Wisconsin are right behind with four losses, and Ohio State and stumbling Michigan are one game farther back.

College basketball is a lot of fun because the players are kids, the students watching the game are into it, and emotion can play a significant role.  When a conference has have a bunch of very good teams, some good teams, and some teams that can rise to the occasion when their home court advantage comes into play, you get lots of surprises and unexpectedly close games.  The last few games of the conference regular season over the next week and a half are likely to be a free-for-all.  If a team like Ohio State wants to stay in contention, it had better be ready to play every game against every opponent — starting tomorrow night, when it travels to Evanston to play Northwestern.

After the regular season finally ends, we’ll have the Big Ten Tournament.  There’s a reason why this year’s tournament is the first one ever to be sold out:  it should be a very good show.

Big Ten Chumps (Cont.)

It’s bad enough that a 7-5 Wisconsin team won the “Big Ten Championship” game.  It’s bad enough that Nebraska, the other team in the “Big Ten Championship” game, gave up 70 points in getting crushed by Wisconsin.  It’s bad enough that the Ohio State Buckeyes, the best team in the conference, weren’t playing.  But the crowning indignity is that Wisconsin’s head coach, Bret Bielema, is now reportedly bolting the Big Ten for Arkansas and the SEC.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I don’t think that Bielema, the former Badgers coach who now reportedly will be leading the Razorbacks, is a great football coach.  He won or tied for the lead in the Big Ten three times — at least, according to the conference title game organizers — but I never thought he matched up well, in terms of coaching or recruiting ability, against Ohio State or other premier college programs.  Bielema always had a squinty, slack-jawed look on his face, seemed overmatched in in-game coaching contests, and rarely won the big games.  If Arkansas thinks they are getting a great coach, they may well be mistaken.

No, what’s embarrassing is that the “Big Ten Championship” coach is skedaddling the conference to go to a marginal team in the SEC.  Arkansas apparently was willing to pay him a lot more money than Wisconsin would shell out, and perhaps Wisconsin’s discretion in that regard is wise.  Still, if winning coaches are bolting for a second-division team in a different conference, what does it tell you about the Big Ten?

Big Ten Chumps

Tonight the Nebraska Cornhuskers play the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game.  It’s a bit of a nightmare scenario for the conference.

https://i0.wp.com/www.waitingfornextyear.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/bo.jpgNebraska is not a bad team.  They’re 10-2 and have only lost one game in the conference — although it was a crushing loss, a 63-38 spanking at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Wisconsin, on the other hand, is a different story.  The Badgers are 7-5 overall, and only 4-4 in the conference.  Wisconsin lost three of its last four games, all in overtime.

Wisconsin is not a bad team, either — but what does it tell you when a .500 team in the conference makes it to the championship game and has the chance to play in the Rose Bowl?  The reason, of course, is that undefeated Ohio State, easily the best team in the Big Ten, isn’t eligible to play due to NCAA sanctions.

https://i2.wp.com/media.scout.com/Media/Image/60/608537.jpgNot surprisingly, there’s not a lot of interest in the game.  Many tickets are for sale at a steep discount from face value, and organizers are expecting a number of empty seats.  I’m confident that the Rose Bowl organizers, too, are holding their breath and hoping that Nebraska wins, so the Granddaddy of all bowl games doesn’t feature a team that barely has a winning record.

I’m sure the Badgers will play their hardest and will be proud to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl if they win.  I’d feel that way if I were a Badger, too, but for the rest of us Big Ten fans this game is an embarrassment.  It’s a pathetic conclusion to a year that — thanks to the sanctions imposed on Ohio State and Penn State, weak teams, a less-than-stellar out of conference record, and uninspired play by teams like Michigan State that were expected to be powerhouses — has been an embarrassment for the storied Big Ten conference.

Honoring Coach Tressel

During the break between the first and second quarters of Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game, the University recognized the 2002 National Championship team and its head coach, Jim Tressel.  Tressel was hoisted onto the shoulders of his former players as the crowd at Ohio Stadium roared.

After the game, I was surprised to read some very harsh comments about this simple gesture.  Fans of Michigan, Wisconsin, and other schools — many of whom think Ohio State’s domination of the Big Ten conference is the product of a dirty program that skirts the NCAA rules and cheats — depicted the ceremony as Ohio State thumbing its nose at the NCAA and displaying its contempt for the rules and sanctions that ultimately resulted in Jim Tressel’s resignation.  I think that is a small, mean-spirited reaction to a desire to honor a storied Ohio State team on the 10th anniversary of its greatest achievement.

No one at Ohio State will forget how the Jim Tressel era ended — and I’m confident Coach Tressel won’t, either.  That reality shouldn’t mean that we can’t remember the good moments of the Tressel era, too.  There were many, and the 2002 National Championship is one of them.  I’m glad the members of that team, and Coach Tressel as well, were saluted for their accomplishment.

The Buckeyes And The Badgers

At 3:30 this afternoon, the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes play the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.  The venue will be rocking, as it always seems to be when Ohio State plays Wisconsin.

These teams have a very good rivalry going, in both football and basketball.  In football, the teams have taken turns knocking each other off in recent years, often in dramatic fashion.  Last year, Ohio State’s nail-biting win over the highly ranked Badgers was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal season, and the year before Wisconsin handed Ohio State its only loss.  In basketball, Bo Ryan and Thad Matta have established a tremendous rivalry; each program has had excellent teams in recent years and the season series has been split in each of the last three seasons.  Next to traditional rival Michigan, Wisconsin is Ohio State’s top adversary in the Big Ten and, I think, the team Buckeye Nation most wants to beat in the big-money sports.

Today’s game should be a classic.  Wisconsin is a tough team that has lost three close games.  It features the perennial punishing ground game that you expect from a Wisconsin football team; top running back Montee Ball has already rushed for more than 1200 yards and is mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.  The Badgers strap it up and run right at you, which means the Ohio State defensive line will need to come to play.  The Wisconsin defense, on the other hand, has been terrific in keeping opponents off the scoreboard and is one of the best defenses in the country in that category.  Add in the din that always is found in Camp Randall Stadium, and you have all the makings of a barnburner.

To win this game, the Buckeyes need to get off to a good start — something they haven’t been able to do in many games this year.  On offense, the Buckeyes will need to mix it up and Braxton Miller will need to be as accurate with his arm as he has been elusive with his feet.  The Ohio State defense must stop Ball and the Badgers’ ground game.  It would be nice for Ohio State to get a big lead and force Wisconsin to throw, but that’s probably wishful thinking.  This will probably be one of those back-and-forth, hard-hitting games where turnovers tell the tale — and one that will add to the luster of this fine Big Ten rivalry.

Big Win To Start The Big Ten

I didn’t get to see most of yesterday’s Ohio State win over Michigan State — I was at a wedding, thank you very much — but that doesn’t mean I can’t savor the sweet taste of a hard-fought and much-needed Big Ten triumph.

Michigan State clearly is one of the better teams in the Big Ten, so any victory over the Spartans is one to be prized.  Beating the Spartans in front of the Michigan State faithful is so much the better.  Ohio State’s defense played its best game of the season — holding Michigan State to 34 yards on the ground makes a serious statement — and the offense played well enough to somehow overcome three turnovers.  How often do you see a team lose the turnover battle, 3-0, on the road, and still pick up a win?

That reality, in fact, might be the ultimate story of this game.  Last year, Ohio State found ways to lose games they should have won.  Yesterday they found a way to hang on to a win that easily could have been a loss.  Winning breeds winning attitudes, and winning attitudes and confidence breed more victories.  Now, if Ohio State could just figure out how to hold on to the football. . . .

The Buckeyes will need to make every possession count next weekend, when Nebraska comes to town for a night game at the Horseshoe, fresh off a come-from-behind home win over a Wisconsin team that let a big lead melt away.  (Sound familiar, Buckeye fans?)

Hearty Buckeye thanks to Mike N., who went to yesterday’s game, for taking the photo of the scoreboard shot that accompanies this post.

The Little Big Ten

Today the Big Ten kicks off league play.  It should be a competitive conference race, because the Big Ten clearly doesn’t have any powerhouse teams this year.

The results of pre-conference play were not kind to the teams in the Old Conference.  Michigan got pulverized by Alabama and then played badly in a loss to Notre Dame.  Wisconsin lost to Oregon State and has struggled mightily against mediocre teams like Utah State and UNLV.  Pre-season favorites Michigan State and Nebraska have fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, with the Spartans getting pounded by Notre Dame and the Cornhuskers dropping a winnable game to UCLA.  Iowa, Penn State, and Illinois already have two defeats.  Minnesota is undefeated, but hasn’t played anybody.  The best team in the conference could be Northwestern, which has knocked off Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.

The marquee games today are Wisconsin at Nebraska and Ohio State at Michigan State.  The Badgers will be trying to get their offense back on track against a Nebraska defense that was dismal in its only game against a tough foe.  The Ohio State-Michigan State contest is intriguing because MSU handed OSU an embarrassing home loss last year, when the Spartans manhandled the Buckeye offense.  Ohio State is undefeated, but it has played mediocre football against inferior teams and hasn’t played a road game yet.  The tilt in East Lansing today will tell us a lot about whether Ohio State is competitive — and also whether Braxton Miller can weave his offensive magic against a very stout defense.

Thanks to NCAA penalties, Ohio State can’t play in a bowl game or the Big Ten conference championship game this year.  If the team wants to make something of this lost year, it needs to win games like today’s match-up.