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A lot of the talk out of the SEC and their dominance over the National Championship for college football mentions their streak of wins in that game. Ask my buddy Brett, who lives with an Auburn fan (that must be REAL bad right now) SEC fans are crazy. No doubt it’s been a heck of a run, and they’ve beaten some very good opponents that rode strong seasons to get there. But really, lets take a look back and see just what the SEC has done to these poor teams. If you look at it, other than a thumping of Oklahoma, the SEC really hasn’t been beating the best competition in the country. They’ve been the biggest beneficiary of the lack of a playoff, in part because they’d knock eachother off, and also because they don’t face the best of the best, even if they are playing a number 1 or 2 ranked team. lets go back these last 4 years and take a look.

2010 – Alabama v. Texas

Alabama rode a superb defense led by Rolando McClain, the stout Terrence Cody and a fine young corner in Javier Arenas as well as a Heisman season by Mark Ingram to the title game. nevermind that Ingram wasn’t the best player in the country but instead the best player on the best team, this game has a bit of a cloud over it. On the first drive of the game, for whatever reason Mack Brown called an option left with his hyper accurate golden-armed superboy Colt McCoy carrying it, and McCoy suffered a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder on the hit. A freak accident that knocked the kid out of the game for good and put Garrett Gilbert in, people across the country were shocked at this turn of events. Gilbert was a blue chipper out of high school, just as the UT quarterback should be, but to throw him into the fire like this was to do a major disservice to how good this freshman could be. The Longhorns weren’t at full strength and yet they were still threatening late into the game, and had real chances to win it that, if it had been McCoy back there, they no doubt would have. Yes, injuries are a part of the game, but still, this puts a bit of a damper on the shine of the Coaches Trophy in Tuscaloosa.

2009 – Florida v. Oklahoma

There’s not much to say about this game- Tim Tebow is simply one of the greatest college football players to ever step on the field. Even with Sam Bradford at the helm, the swarming and strong Florida defense made it a hectic day to say the least for the Sooners. I’ll give this one to them, the Gators just beat Oklahoma. HOWEVER, the Sooners were neither the best nor the second best team that year. USC lost earlier in the season in a let-down game against Oregon State, and the Trojans had one of the best defenses not just that year, but in college football history. The Gators lucked out in that respect, plus the fact that the BCS had a hard-on for Tebow pretty much his entire career. The Trojans were in my eyes the best team in the country, despite that one loss. The Gators also had one loss, and if it hadn’t been for Tebow and the BCS computers artificially overrating the SEC a bit, USC would have come in and taken the trophy away. Yet another example of why a playoff is necessary. I know you can only play the teams you’re allowed to face, but nevertheless, Oklahoma got in because of a couple fluke losses, and if it had gone differently and USC had faced the Gators, I have no doubt Troy would have been victorious. Florida had Brandon Spikes leading their D, but USC had Ray Malaluga leading it, a better coaching mind in Pete Carroll, not to mention Taylor Mays and the rest of the linebacking corps in Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing. Just beastly if you ask me. A Rose Bowl was great, but the title should have been USC’s.

2007 and 2008 – Florida/LSU v. Ohio State

For the life of me I don’t understand how Ohio State got ranked so highly so much. Yes, they won a lot of games, undefeated in both these years, but the Big 10 just isn’t that good, I don’t get it. They routinely have trouble in inter-conference play, and Jim Tressell tightens up, Marty Schottenheimer style, in big games. I give little credit to Florida or LSU for these games, each a blowout and the Tigers got to play in the Superdome- it was basically a home game for them. There were definitely better teams out there than the Buckeyes both these years, if nothing else SC had some great teams, and Texas is rarely bad. But Ohio State was the lucky one in a year of upsets, riding other teams losses to victory. The luck ran out in January (compounded by playing a virtual LSU home game in New Orleans) and Tressell continued to blow it when it matters. He’s doing a great job of making that one title back in ’03 look like a fluke. There are times when you have to take a chance, but the Sweater Vest must not understand that inorder to receive great reward, there must be some risk. Woody Hayes retired (was fired, whatever) 30 years ago.

So what do we pull from all this? Obviously the SEC has had a good run these last few years, and this latest National Championship is, at least to me, on the level. Oregon is a great team, they score the hell out of the ball, and because the computers and pollsters hate the non-AQ teams, it’s the best we can get. Auburn is looking like the better team, but Chip Kelly works harder than Chizik. It’s not hard when your QB is bigger than the other team’s linebackers and faster than their corners. I still think TCU could give any of these teams a run for its money, but we’ll have to wait till next year. Plus, whatever happens, they’re still undefeated and beat a very hot Wisconsin team. But looking back, the SEC, while it has won against the teams it’s had to face, hasn’t faced the best team, just more often than not the luckiest team, or the recipient of an early-season slip up by a potential juggernaut. SEC fans will celebrate their wins and how dominant they are, but at least one school, situated in Compton of all places, and maybe some guys down in Austin, Texas, should have something to say. Wins are wins, but the wins the SEC has put together have not been the most convincing. Also, Ohio State is garbage, plain and simple, along with the rest of their terrible conference. Nebraska’s about to have a field day.

“To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold–brothers who know now that they are truly brothers.” – A. MacLeish

I need to go to space.

The world is such a massive place, full of literally everything there is to do in the world. Everything we know is here on Earth, every existence, every action, every idea we’ve heard of. Then I’m reading Beetle Bailey today, and old dummy Zero asks the question of what space means. Is it the space between everything, or is it the distant stars?

Now, I have experienced a vast nothingness. I went to school in Illinois and vistas of nothing but cornfields were never far off. I drove from Minnesota to California, and I haven’t seen such nothing as is in Nebraska, or Utah. But even in this nothingness, there’s stuff. There’s dirt, sand, in Utah’s case, salt. Obviously corn in the corn fields. But there’s never nothing, like there is in space. I want, I need to experience this nothingness, an empty void where all that surrounds is a cold, dark vacuum. Emptiness, the true emptiness that smells strong, metallic, and unique, according to astronauts. And who doesn’t believe astronauts?

I’ve always had a place in my heart for space travel. That sounds a little weird, because who wouldn’t like to go into outer space? But even as a kid when Star Wars enraptured me I would look to the heavens and wonder. Not about anything in particular, you understand, just wonder. Let the mind travel to wherever it wanted, even to the stars. Looking at these points of light and realizing they were the same thing as the sun that was so bright during the day, sometimes even bigger and brighter. As a young’un this was incredible. When someone told me that the light we see from stars is thousands of years old, that if you were in that stars’ solar system you would see Roman centurions and whatnot, I was floored. That was incredible to me. That meant that even if I had a telescope to look that far, I would be seeing the past! That opened up whole new avenues of thought into time travel, but that’s a story for another day.

The picture entitled Earthrise (it’s at the top of this post), taken by some astronaut whose name you could find out if you were less lazy than I, is to me one of the most thought provoking pictures ever taken. Maybe not even thought provoking as contemplation provoking. Someone once said that the unexamined life is a life not worth living, and a picture like that, to me, forces a look at oneself. We all have a sense of self worth, whether high or low (personally, I feel like I’m worth my weight in gold, which equals out to $3.6 million, from my last weigh in) but a picture like that just makes you think about existence. If the light from other stars is thousands of years old, that means that all you’re looking at is dead light, and if you see another life form, you have no idea if they’re still there. It’s just a dead image. That means that if they see Earth with a telescope, they’d either see the centurions, or, if they see you they see you dead 1000 years. I don’t mean to be morbid, but more just that images of Earth as this little rock, the Blue Marble photo, things like that just make you realize how big it all is, and how small you are. Seriously, the earth is 3.6 billion years old, the sun almost 6 billion or something, and we’re around for about 80 years if we’re lucky to live in the US or whatever.  What does that mean, what do we mean, in the scheme of things?

I’m not going to sit here and say go crazy, life doesn’t matter, but I don’t think I can agree with taking life as seriously as some do. I mean really, we are only here for a little while when it gets down to it, so doesn’t it seem like there’s no room for getting all worked up over bullshit. There’s things that matter, sure, like nuclear war or global warming, things that impact future life on Earth that could impact eventual growth into space. But the bullshit? Nah, man, that’s nothing to get pissed about, that’s something to have fun with. Although I wouldn’t suggest actually finding bull feces and playing with it, that sounds unsanitary.

Earth is a big small place, just as a peanut M&M Is salty-sweet. Best of both sides I guess. We have room to look around, explore, but it’s like a big ol’ play pen before we break out into the universe. And we weren’t allowed to fight or be mean in kindergarten, it wasn’t copacetic. So what’s the deal with doing it to other countries? Anti-war, etc. Space is big, and we need to get there. So do I. I’m out of words. Good luck.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, part of the problem

A couple months back I watched A Law Abiding Citizen, with Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx. Butler plays a character whose wife and daughter are raped and murdered by a couple of criminals during a home invasion, then he exacts a disturbingly brutal revenge on them after they were sentenced to only a couple years of prison. He also focuses his vengeance on the system that let them get out early, meaning the judge, arresting officers, prosecutors, etc., killing them in cinematically spectacular fashion apparently you learn he was an assassin for the Defense Department who used complex techniques to kill Taliban, Al Qaeda, whatever the enemy du jour was for the US government. Foxx is the prosecutor from the case that got a plea bargain so as not to fuck up his conviction record in court, so he could be more electable as district attorney, or mayor or something. In all, a fantastic movie, but something bothered me about it, or at least triggered neurons in my brain to start firing. I didn’t really have a grasp on it till recently, which made that movie much more eye-opening when seen like that. Without getting too wordy right off the bat, the character Butler plays in that movie is an embodiment of popular disgust with the system as its set up now, sort of the Tea Party prior to its astroturfing by the right wing, with Foxx as the Obama character, the one trying to make it right and get Butler to stop what he’s doing. It’s a movie not unlike Network, somebody snapped and said “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

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Reviewing the golfing experience at The Golf Club at Oxford Greens in Oxford, Connecticut by a course member and golf enthusiast.

Gary Napoli, Frank Ciancio, Angelo Carlucci, Sal Melchiore at Oxford Greens Member/Member Tournament.  Photo: oxfordgreens.com

Member/Member Tournament Results

About the Course

Delicately carved from the woods west of Naugatuck State Forest, the Golf Club at Oxford Greens is one of Connecticut’s most impressive golf courses and has been named the “3rd Best Public Course in Connecticut” by Golfweek. Taking full advantage of more than 680 acres of natural beauty, breathtaking vistas, and ever-changing terrain, The Golf Club combines New England’s greatest resources with a neoclassical design. Read Full Article →

NFC EAST

New York Giants

Giants RB Brandon Jacobs (Al Bello / Getty Images)

Kudos to the Giants for being able to maintain a level of competitiveness despite losing one of the best wide receivers last year in Plaxico Burress. The guy could ball, and only had one leg working the whole season. But competing is not contending, and there the Giants are lacking. Coach Tom Coughlin was supposed to be fired back in ’07, but the Giants went on to win a championship, which is always good for job security. Also, Eli Manning got a fat contract, and from my point of view at least, did a good job of making him the most overrated QB in the league. I was a little irritated by the positive comparisons writers and talking heads were making between him and his brother last year, when he tore it up the first five weeks. But that’s last year, and Manning is a capable QB. The major question mark on this team is at the halfback position. Brandon Jacobs was a wrecking ball in ’07 and ’08, but his running style seemed to catch up with him last season. Is he healthy? If so, the Giants have a good season ahead of them. The offensive line is pretty much the same as in their Super Bowl run, and as the Colts and Patriots have shown us, continuity is the key to that group. Manning isn’t carrying this team though, that’s for sure. If the Giants can get back to the defense and ball control that won the thing in ’07 especially against the high-powered offenses they face in-division, they could frustrate a bundle of higher rated teams in the Cowboys and Eagles. It all hinges on Jacobs. Defensively, a lot of fans are pissed that Rolando McClain wasn’t there for the G-Men, but Jason Pierre-Paul, while raw, is in the right place to learn the position of defensive end from some of the best. Osi Umenyiora is back and less pissed at his team it seems, so the front four seem to be pretty solid. Unfortunately they got rid of Antonio Pierce which leaves the team without a real leader on defense. the front four are the engine that runs the whole squad, and with the problems at safety and cornerback as well as linebacker this team could face a lot of long days. They seem to miss Steve Spagnuolo more and more with each passing day. Still, if they keep with Coughlin’s mandate of playing every down hard and not letting up in true Giant football fashion, combined with the bludgeoning the four teams in the division lay on each other, who knows, they could catch some magic once again. It’s a lot of ifs and maybes, but a fan sees those as yes’s. Like Dave Chappelle said, “Maybe? I can work with maybe. It’s those no’s that get me.” A new stadium and a firey fan base are in their favor, so who knows. Prediction : 8-8. Not bold, but I’m not sold either way with this team.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Martinez / Getty)

Owner Jerry Jones has a right to be excited about his Cowboys this year. They added an exciting player in Dez Bryant, but other than that, they’re the same team as a year ago. Miles Austin came out of nowhere, and when Roy Williams is your number three or four wideout, you don’t have problems. That’s one guy you don’t mind telling to can it when he complains about touches, like the opposite of a certain number 81. Letting offensive tackle Flozell Adams walk was a good move since he was aging and Doug Free seems like a capable replacement, and the line in general seems pretty solid and as big as ever, Texas style. The Boys luck out because of the lack of a great pass-rusher in their division plus Tony Romo is very mobile in the pocket, so protection shouldn’t be a problem. The offense is all-around badass, make no mistake, with Marion Barber and Felix Jones sharing carries and Jason Witten continuing to be the standard at which modern tight ends should be measured. His rapport with Romo is amazing, they could find eachother if blindfolded in a forest. Tashard Choice is a nice number three back, probably better than some number ones around the league. Defensively, other than DeMarcus Ware it seems like the cupboard is a little bare. Jay Ratliff is a moose of a man though, and Igor Olshansky is a big ugly with a mean streak, so at least the run shouldn’t be a huge problem for them. Their linebackers are getting a little long in the tooth, guys like Keith Brooking pushing 35 and Bradie James leaning on 30. If Tony Sparano were still around I would say that’s not a problem because he’d just dial up some complexity to confound the other guy, but he isn’t, so it is. Terrence Newman is a good corner, but without safeties to add over the top help and linebackers to put pressure on the QB, it’s going to be tough for him to cover the whole field. All the defense has to do is keep the Cowboys in the game though, and the offense will win it. There’s a lot of talent, particularly on the offense, so while they aren’t a lock to win it all, the continuity at QB and the veterancy of the team should make them a favorite to win the division. Prediction : 12-4, playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles new QB Kevin Kolb(Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

This is a boom or bust kind of a team right here. In unloading Donovan McNabb for Kevin Kolb and not resigning Brian Westbrook, the Eagles have all but cut ties with the team that has gone to 4 NFC Championships in the last decade. Kolb, despite a couple of starts, is a basically unproven asset, and though Andy Reid is one of the most creative, exiting offensive minds in the game, it remains to be seen where Kolb will lead them. Much like the Cowboys, other than a couple shiny parts the defense is a little lax, but like the Boys, the offense is where the magic happens anyway. Youth at receiver with DeSean Jackson (if he can hold onto the ball all the way across the goal line) and Jeremy Maclin (if he can stop complaining about hurt) are just a couple of tools Reid has at his disposal for his video game –based offense. Another new face in running back LeSean McCoy seems like an exciting addition and could be a capable replacement for Westbrook, a man who was an offense by himself. The key to all this is replacing John Runyan at left tackle to keep the line a solid piece of machinery for another year. On the other side of the ball, the only name that someone would recognize is Asante Samuel. A great corner, it will be hard for him to do anything if there’s no pressure on the QB and no safety coverage or anything like that. They’re going to give up points, but if Kolb does work out, they’ll score them too. I’m just glad I’m not an Eagles fan because it could get real ugly if Kolb isn’t the real deal. This may all be a cover up for a rebuilding year, more like a reloading year really. They did a lot of drafting with the Donovan trade, the first four picks all defense, so there is a lot of unproven talent there. If it all works out the Eagles are Super Bowl contenders. If not, middle of the road at best. They’re still a tough team though, the furthest thing from a pushover.  Prediction : 10-6. Probably playoffs, if it all works properly. If not, hoo doggy, things could go bad.

Washington Redskins

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb (Winn McNamee / Getty Images)

Dan Snyder continues to throw money at problems and hope they’ll go away. The thing is, with all the talent on this team you’d think they’d be really good. Donovan McNabb moves south for the winter, bringing old friend Brian Westbrook with him. That alone should be enough to make the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys nervous. McNabb with a chip on his shoulder combined with a possibly healthy Westbrook was always dangerous, but now they have a coach with a winning pedigree in Mike Shanahan and something personal driving them outside of winning. The wide receiver position is a little questionable, but McNabb has worked in Philadelphia for most of his career with worse, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The line though is where Skins fans should be worried. His whole career in Philly, Donovan had days of protection because Big John Runyan and his boys were there. The line in Washington is at best tissue papery, at worst sieve-like. Donovan isn’t as mobile as he once was, and this could prove to be a problem. At least Jason Campbell was able to evade some sacks despite being knocked around last season. Chris Cooley is back from an injury plagued season, and should resume his position as a top flight tight end. On the other side of the ball Albert Haynesworth is finally in camp and could prove to be the key to this whole operation. When the best defensive lineman is the nose tackle in your 3-4, good things are in the offing. Him plus London Fletcher at LB is a dangerous combo.  And let’s not forget the young Brian Orakpo. His rookie year was filthy, and now that he’s back in the 3-4 he’s comfortable in it should free him up a little more to crush the QB or whoever gets in his way. The defense could be quite solid especially against the run. If DeAngelo Hall, CB, can play to his potential and stop trying to jump routes so much, and LeRon Landry can play as a serviceable to very good safety, that could be a solid secondary. But, anyone who watches football can tell you, the NFC East loves to run the ball, even the Eagles, so it’s going to start and end with that front seven, as ever. And as long as the offensive line holds up, the Skins could actually challenge the Boys and Eagles for supremacy. Who knows, it’s a tough division that could send three teams to the playoffs. Prediction : 9-7, playoffs?