Monday, December 29, 2008

Drew Bledsoe Is Not Walking Through That Door!



Well the Cowboys made it easy on everyone this weekend. Instead of losing by inexplicably giving up two long TD runs up the middle on plays where everyone knew the Ravens were running up the middle, the Cowboys saved everyone some heartache by turning the entire second half into extended gargage in a 54644-6 drubbing by the Philadelphia Eagles. At least there's good news - there will not be a disastrous 1st round playoff exit this season.

So what's next? Is Wade staying? Is Tony? Is TO? Is Jessica Simpson? Will the fans begin to clamor for more Brad Johnson? More Roy Williamses? Tune in to find out!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bassy Returns!!

No, Sebastian Telfair isn't returning to the TimberWolves starting lineup!!

But, Airborne great Vince Oghobaase is returning to Duke for his senior season. Can you say, Lombardi Trophy?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!


This blog have been obviously a bit slow lately, but I wanted to take this opportunity to wish our own Head Dude and all of DudeSpin's Jewish readers a Happy Hanukkah! Although he is a bit slow (and sometimes entirely foregetful!) in replying to text messages sent during Cowboys games, Head Dude has been a rock for this blog since its inception a few years - always quick to lend his insight, comment, wit, and reminder of the various transgressions of various Houston athlete. So to our dearest friend and co-blog author Head Dude & family, have a happiest of Hanukkahs!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou Airborne?

It's a Saturday without Airborne - I'm suffering from withdrawal - help!! How can an Airborne fan deal with this loss for 9 months?

So far, I have:
(1) drawn up plays next season involving Hollingsworth, Lewis and Johnny Williams;
(2) contacted Mel Kiper Jr. about Eron Riley and Michael Tauillilii;
(3) written Kevin White about a pay increase for David Cutcliffe; and
(4) swung by Best Buy to purchase NCAA Football.

Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

City of Dallas - Again Showing Off Its Renowned Class

Dear Dallas,
Please stick to what you're good at, namely: holding state fairs, erecting Big Tex, cheating to win Stanley Cups, using criminals to win Super Bowls, choking in basketball championship series, and never winning baseball championships.

Please, whatever you do, don't try your hand at international diplomacy.

Sincerely,
Refined Cities

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

All aboard the Houston crackwagon!

Trouble in Texansland, and they don't even win Super Bowls!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wade Report: Victory Bell, or another Saturday Hell?

In 1999, two young dudes traveled to Chapel Hill to see the 10th Airborne victory of their four-year college career. Optimism was high as UNC was suffering through a tough season filled with rumors that their head coach would soon be fired. Unfortunately, that 10th win did not happen, and the plucky young dudes graduated in the single digit win column. Sadly, had they returned for a Franchise-esque fifth year, they still wouldn’t have seen that 10th win. The Carl Franks era was not pretty.

Nine years later, the same two dudes were reunited, this time in Wally Wade, hoping to see Eron Riley and Michael Tauiliili ring the famed Victory Bell as they left Durham for the greener pastures of the NFL. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Things got off to an ominous start as parking goons forced me to leave my free (and legal) parking on Central to try to get me into their pay lots. I found street parking, but clearly everything would be a struggle on this cold, wet day.

Duke’s offense moved the ball well for much of the game, but struggled on third downs--three promising drives ended in field goal attempts. Defensively, Duke forced two turnovers and scored a TD, but too often gave up the third down conversion. While the Tar Heels converted on 80% of their third downs, Duke only converted on 20%. UNC made the plays, Duke did not.

In the fourth quarter, Duke had several chances to force what could have been an epic two-point conversion try, but found every drive stall. Dumb personal fouls hurt the cause, as did untimely turnovers. But ultimately the game came down to the final drive. Thad was let loose, and the team drove to the 16 before finally stalling. On 4th and 6, Thad was flushed out of the pocket and forced a throw, which was picked off by the Tar Heels. Travel, trip, championship. Or something like that.

I would like to salute a few seniors. To Joe Surgan, your name has been cursed many times in my home, but with two 50-yarders this year (including a 55-yarder Saturday), I hope you found some redemption. To Marcus Jones, three years ago, when you were named the new starting QB, I named my fantasy football team “The Marcus Jones Era?” One week later I changed it to Thad is Rad. But you made an impressive switch to defensive back, and for your flexibility and athleticism, I salute you. Eron, last year the bomb to you was our best play, and this season under a more disciplined offensive scheme, I missed it. You raised some big cash for the next president of the United States, and you provided me with more highlights over the last few years than any Blue Devil. And last, to Mr. Tauiliili, your 20 tackles Saturday was yet another impressive day at the stadium; Coach Cut said you are the best defensive player he has ever been around as a college coach, and called you the best in the ACC. I hope the Patriots draft you to replace all their old men in the middle.

But despite those sentiments, as I write this, the last “Wade Report” of the season, I find myself looking forward, not backwards. Sunday at noon, just hours after a 28-20 loss to UNC, the 2009 team met with Coach Cut. At 3:00, they ran. That’s the sort of no-nonsense approach we’ve come to expect from the new coach. Hopefully the hard work will be evident next year when I book my plane trip to the Orange Bowl.

The Dude Nearly Pulls Off Stunner in Mini-DudeBowling Showdown

In a three game show-down, things were not looking up for the Undude after the 1st 10 frames. He was in uncharted territory down nearly 30 pins to the Dude after the Dude rolled a turkey in the finals frames of the 1st game. After two games, the Dude maintained an 11 pin lead while as the Undude continued to struggle and leave open frames. It was, however, not to be for the Dude as the Undude rolled a spare-strike-spare-strike combo midway through the final game to cement a lead and avoid a nearly unthinkable upset for a mini-Kingpin title. Who knows what could have happened had the Dude decided not to ride the spinning ball for the 1st few frames of game 1?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Asack Line

On the bright side, Zach Asack completed 2/3 of his passes today. On the not-as-bright side, 4 of his 6 completions were to Virginia Tech cornerbacks. Wasn't he highly-touted when Duke signed him? The Hokies have a good defense, and the offensive gameplan probably didn't give him much chance, but he was given the opportunity to win the game in the last five minutes and made a terrible decision on a deep ball, which was exacerbated by the fact he underthrew it by about 5 yards. I guess it for now removes thoughts of a quarterback controversy heading into next year.
The defense played extremely well, and put the offense in good field position multiple times by creating 5 turnovers.
Perhaps UNC is vulnerable next week after what happened against State today, but otherwise the season certainly ends with a whimper.

Eh, Hartford?

Can't say I've focused too much on the women's team, but it doesn't appear I've missed much so far.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11 of 13


While the Dude may have prematurely proclaimed a changing of the guard several weeks ago, the Mavericks showed Houston tonight once again that change does not come easily, winning without much of a challenge, 96-86. That makes it 11 Dallas wins in their last 13 tries against the Rockets. With both teams missing an All-Star and their second-leading scorers, everyone's favorite JET lit Houston up for 31.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Uh oh...

Is the Cutcliffe era of good feelings falling quickly on hard times? It's halftime in Clemson and the 17-0 score only tells part of the story. Duke is being outgained 268-39 and has 2 first downs to Clemson's 16. This against a team that has an identical record.

Let's hope things change in the second half. Otherwise a slide to a 4-8 record begins to approach in the rear-view mirror, and the 3-1 start is a distant memory.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ESPN - still trying to chase down Bullet Bob

Every year, ESPN tries to emulate Bullet Bob's groundbreaking expose in the Chronicle in 1999 into minority hiring in college football - every year, it fails to live up to Bullet Bob's journalistic excellence, nor the merits of the accompanying graphic. This year is no different. The story doesn't even have a graphic. Where is the journalistic talent at ESPN?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heisman Time


All year long we've talked about Eron Riley for the Heisman, but ever since the Obama challenge ended, it's like he's had nothing to play for. Thad is quietly leading the ACC in passing yards, and some votes this year would help pave the way for the campaign next year. But my vote's going to Michael Tauiliili, the nation's fifth-leading tackler. I know the award rarely goes to defensive players, but is this not the year for political change? Poor Bob Harris has to say this name 11 times a game, and it's about time the nation learns it too.

So DudeSpiners, let's honor this senior (and Houston native), by casting your Heisman vote today!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Duke Still Old Duke

But on the bright side, Barack Obama is still the President-Elect!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

HISTORY!!


President-Elect Barack Obama!

FIRED UP?

READY TO GO!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cut-ting out early?

Following up on a previous post...
Phil Fulmer is out at Tennessee. Coach Cut will surely be mentioned as a potential replacement, and it seems impossible to imagine someone choosing Duke over Tenn.

Over at Wake, Jim Grobe has turned down some offers, but only after he had established ties to the Wake community. Coach Cut just got here, so it seems unlikely he's already fallen in love with Durham.

Fans, start sending the pleading emails...

One Day


With Head Dude probably in attendance, Barack Obama addresses a crowd in Cleveland with less than 48 hours left in the election. History beckons.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Woe in Winston



I'm sorry, dudes, but if we are claiming to be a blog devoted to Duke football, this game deserves more than one sentence of analysis. Plus, while I silently moped all of yesterday, I woke up this morning and still felt the need to talk about it some more.

While it's both easy and accurate to compare this game to 2006 (and had this blog existed back then, I might have set a record for longest post with the most expletives), this game was worth a lot more, potentially costing us the long-anticipated DudeMania: Idaho.

I'll start from the beginning... Each week in Wally Wade, Duke announces a special honorary coach of the week. This man is always a rich guy who has donated large sums of money to the Duke Football Improvement Plan at the Special Teams level. It seems that DudeSpin will have to reach into its deep pockets and contribute a little more, for special teams doomed us from the very start. (Corporate Dudes, I am not joking about this opportunity. Can't you picture us rewarded with a game ball and a day on the sidelines decked out in Duke polo and khakis? We could become a four-headed beast of a coach with complete access to Coach Cut’s left ear. Imagine on a 3rd and 5whispering, “double reverse flea flicker” and then watching Thad work his magic. But not only would we experience a thrill of a lifetime, we would be helping Duke football.)

-We fumbled the opening kickoff... Touchdown Wake.
-We had a punt blocked for a safety.
-On the ensuing kickoff, Wake returned it 57 yards to the Duke 30... FG Wake.
-After taking the lead 20-19, Duke attempted a surprise onside kick, which Johnny Williams recovered, but then was flagged for interference. (I can't begin to attempt to analyze this call as I was still watching a horribly slow, digitized, and audio-free production courtesy of ESPN360. I had to quit toward the end of the game and rely on Bob Harris.) Either way, it set up an easy Wake FG.
-We fumbled a punt... Touchdown Wake.
-And then, of course, the missed field goal at the end of regulation.

All total, not including the safety, on all of its scoring drives, Wake averaged a mere 20.5 yards per drive. They scored two field goals on drives in which they lost yardage. Meanwhile, Duke needed 62.4 yards per scoring drive.

Other tantalizing what-ifs:
-Riley was open on the final play, Thad just underthrew him. More zip, less lob, and we're posting pictures of potatoes today.
-On 3rd down in Wake's OT possession, Skinner avoided a sack, threw the ball off a Duke defender's hands, and it landed in the arms of a Wake receiver for the first down. Wake's back-up kicker has been shaky all year; I would have liked to see him attempt a long one in OT.
-Also, early in the 4th, Thad missed Riley on a sure touchdown. Eron was streaking down the left sideline, was wide open, had to slow down and wait for the throw and caught it falling backwards on the ten. Duke could only get a field goal out of the drive, but had Riley been hit in stride, it would have been a sure TD.

On the positive side, some perspective: I am upset that we now have to go 2-2 to reach a bowl. That's New Duke! (And 276 second half yards is nothing to sneeze at.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'm sure the Dude joins me in saying...

GUNS UP!!!!

Heartbreak

NC State now becomes a must-win

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Too Easy


It's too bad - this used to be a fun rivalry.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Closing Argument

As Head Dude heads out to Ohio; Big Daddy, Undude, and the Franchise hit the ground in the crucial battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and I head out to do voter protection in Texas - let's all remember what is at stake: the election of a "transformational" candidate in the most important election in our lifetime thus far.

Focus and Finish.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Bowl Breakdown

I realize it's premature to do this, but being much more superstitious about the election, I figured it can't hurt to peek ahead to whether Duke really has a chance at a bowl game, and if so, where. At 4-3, with winnable games left against Clemson, State, and Wake, and an outside chance against UNC, the path to 6-6 isn't unrealistic. But would Duke be selected for a bowl game at 6-6, since "bowl eligible" doesn't mean you get invited? And being a smaller school with not exactly a rich football history doesn't guarantee a large turnout, which perhaps is the most important factor to bowl game hosts.

That skepticism aside, however, I checked the bowl lineup and the ACC is slotted for 8 (yes, 8) bowl games, plus a BCS bowl for the ACC championship winner. So as many as 9 teams in a 12-team league have bowl spots theoretically waiting for them. You look at the standings now and State is the only team at 2-6 with no chance, at least if we give them a 7th loss (and if we don't, we won't be going to a bowl either). Clemson, at 3-4, still plays at BC and FSU, and we could give them a 7th loss (again, we probably need to beat them for a bowl spot).

Which brings us to the last questionable team - Wake Forest. Like us, they also sport a 4-3 record headed into this week's showdown in Winston Salem. If they beat us, at 5-3 they finish with UVa, State, BC, and Vandy, all winnable games. If we beat them, they still probably get 6 or even 7 wins, but perhaps then we also have a shot at 7, and it comes down to which program a bowl wants. Wake has more history the last few years, but hopefully the Duke name and Cutcliffe resurgence carries a little weight.

Every other conference team should reach at least 6 wins, and though UVa closes with a tough schedule, given their unexpected recent resurgence since losing to us, they seem a likely bet. Miami, at 5-3, also has a tough close, but should get at least one win -- our collapse last weekend may be the one to look back on with the most regret, even more than the Northwestern game.

So this all leads me to conclude that even though we could get to 6 wins by beating Clemson and State (certainly no guarantee in either case), we still probably need to beat Wake too -- otherwise we may be the 10th team on the outside looking in. And all of this suggests the road is still markedly uphill -- to expect a 1-11 team to progress to 7-5 is asking a whole lot. But after yesterday, there's hope!

If we can make it, exotic locales such as D.C., Charlotte, or Boise await. Though let's face it, Duke would be happy to play a bowl game at the stadium of Fred's high-school team right now, given the 14-year hiatus. And I'd be fine with that too!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The "D" in Duke!!

Vince Oghobaase, Michael Tauiliili, Vincent Rey & Co. put on a sensational performance in Vanderbilt and brought Airborne to within 2 wins of Bowl Eligibility.

Airborne!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Like G, I like to dress like G....

Well, now you can dress just like the former leader of the Journey!! As there is a location in Houston, I will take orders in bulk.

Are you comfortable with Cut's denial?

Big Daddy and I previously emailed about the likely coming of Cut-to-Tennessee rumors. Here it is in writing, and though Cutcliffe says he's 100% committed to Duke, could that change?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Price is Right!



9=8 is apparently the equation to take down the evil empire!! Congrats to the Rays!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homecoming Weekend Welcomes Back Old Duke

Up by 10 in the third quarter, things were looking great for Duke. A Homecoming crowd was set to see David Cutcliffe’s first signature win and I was wondering if the press would spin the win as Duke’s arrival to or Miami’s departure from the national stage.

Saturday even marked the return of the “Back Duke or Back Off” sign.


Yes, my friends, New Duke was looking great. Then Old Duke came back. And it came back ugly. As Head Dude indicated below, a punt changed the course of the game, and Duke returned to its old ways: dropped passes, poorly timed penalties, and missed tackles. As I thought about how to write my weekly report, I really struggled. To be honest, I still have a hard time figuring out what happened. All I know is we had them pinned back, on one play just missed both a safety and an interception for a TD, were winning in score and field position, then their punter booted a monster, our guy couldn’t quite get there, then it rolled forever. On the ensuing possession Riley dropped two passed and a chop block call erased a huge run play, and suddenly Miami has the great field position and Duke can no longer tackle.

Coach Cut: “The big thing was when the field position flipped. That was a tough punt and I’m not going to blame Donovan [Varner], but you’d like to catch that punt and do something with it. But that’s a very difficult catch and the ball got caught up in the wind. The field got flipped and we got a big penalty on a run that was broken and from there it went downhill. I don’t know if would have been any different, but I certainly liked our chances most of this game until it just got away from us.”

Thirty-five unanswered points later, and Homecoming welcomed back another familiar sight… deserted bleachers in the midst of a blowout.



Riley’s Heisman campaign suffered nearly as big a blow as Duke’s Bowl hopes; his hand has been injured and he did not play in the fourth, but he had some opportunities on wide open catches that he just plain dropped.

Again, Coach Cut: “I can’t change what happened in this game, but we can’t play like that. Our guy that is our leader, Eron [Riley], struggled. I don’t think his confidence will be hurt. He’s been hurt with his hand and maybe that’s in his head. Maybe that’s the case, but he’s been catching the ball great in practice, so it certainly shouldn’t happen in a ball game. You don’t just say we’re going back to work. We work hard and we prepare hard. We had a really good plan going into this game and a lot of that was displayed in the first half. We’re going to look at everything we’re doing to see what we can do. This is unacceptable and I told them that after the ball game. We didn’t run out of juice, it wasn’t that we got this or got that, we just did not play well in the second half.”

And while I don't think a poorly timed song can impact a football game, as things began to turn for the worse, Duke debuted the new football theme song, as voted on by the students: Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." But Duke did let me down, it did run around and desert me, it did make me cry, and while I'll never say goodbye, it did hurt me. And Duke, we have known each other so long, but it's not your heart that's been aching, it's mine, and I'm not too shy to say it. But one thing Rick Astley and I agree on, Duke Football, is I'm Never Gonna Give You Up!

**One amusing side note… I had numerous friends in town to watch the game, and at halftime one of them pointed to Bid Daddy and asked, “Is your friend 2 or 3 years older than us?” “Yes.” “Is there any chance he’s the ‘Ricky Time’ guy?” “Yeah, that’s him.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah, I’m pretty sure, why?” Disbelief and questions followed, but as it turns out, two of my buddies spent much of their freshman year watching Big Daddy in Cameron and LOVED the Ricky Time cheer. Today my buddy was so excited he proclaimed it his favorite cheer from freshman year, called Big Daddy a hero, and had to text his roommate to hurry back from concessions so they could talk with the legend. Then sadly they waited an entire quarter trying to get up the courage to talk to him.

They were also mad that I had known him all this time and never thought to mention it. Who knew?

Archway to Hope


100,000 fake Americans, according to Sarah Palin:

When was the last time a punt turned out to be a turning point?

That seemed like what happened today. The D had Miami pinned deep, and the punter booted a 70 yard punt that turned into an 80 yard punt when our returner tried to run the ball back after calling for a fair catch. A couple of dropped passes by Eron Riley later, Miami was well on its way to a win.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Move Over Southern States: PA Declared Officially Racist

I can tell you firsthand that some parts of my home state are a little... how should I put it... unenlightened. But long-time Democratic Representative John Murtha just came right out and said that Obama will lose a few percentage points here because "western Pennsylvania is a racist area."

Not a very tactful statement, but I'm sure when I'm as old as Murtha I'll just say the first thing that comes to my head too. I guess it's slightly encouraging that he still thinks Obama will carry the state.

It bears repeating in this context that sad as it may be, these undertones could have been enough to swing a close election if current headlines weren't so gloomy. Thank God the economy sucks so bad it's helping people get past their racism!

Debate Winner: Joe the Plumber!

No matter who you support in the elections, it seems that the true winner tonight was Joe the Plumber, a hard-working guy who has the admiration of both candidates and the respect of the American people. Here's to you, Joe...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How 'bout them Cowboys?

You have to say this about the Cowboys -- even when they're struggling, they remain in the spotlight. In the last 48 hours:

(1) Their premier QB breaks a pinkie
(2) Their pro bowl punter fractures his foot on a play that costs his team the game
(3) Their notoriously-troubled CB is indefinitely suspended
(4) Their emerging rookie RB hurts his hamstring
(5) They trade for their second underachieving Roy Williams.

Things are never quiet at Valley Ranch!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Better Know a Book: Boys Will Be Boys

WARNING: This review contains a few spoilers.

Normally I'm not a big reader of sports books, but when I saw that this one was coming out, I couldn't resist. An in-depth look back at the Cowboys' 90s dynasty from the first Jerry and Jimmy dinner in the spring of 1989 through Michael Irvin slashing teammate Everett McIver in the neck with scissors in 1998, this one covers it all. Jeff Pearlman manages to fit enough detail in 400 pages to give a full picture of the complexities surrounding America's Team during its greatest run.

Yes, there's plenty of space devoted to Jimmy (and Jerry) building the dynasty from scratch, but no question the entertainment value of this book comes from the tales of sex, drugs, more sex, and Charles Haley constantly masturbating in front of teammates. You wonder if this sort of stuff could have happened in today's internet age, but you inevitably shake your head in disgust and still marvel at how some of these guys could pull it all off -- taking it to extremes both on and off the field.

Pearlman devotes ample space to providing background on some of the players and coaches, such as the tragedy of Robert Jones laying in his mother's bed as a three month-old when his parents get in an argument that leads to his dad shooting and killing his mom, who falls dead on top of her son. Unlike some of his teammates, Jones pledged to be a devoted father and husband, and succeeded against all temptation. Then there's the sad coming-of-age tale of Barry Switzer, who turned his cheek when his down-on-her-luck mother attempted to show him affection. Seconds later, she walked down the hall and committed suicide.

In the end, and much to the Dude's delight, putting aside Jimmy and Jerry, the true protagonist of the book is Michael Irvin. With a dozen siblings, Irvin becomes a star in high school while coming to grips with the death of his working-class dad. With a pledge to his mom to take care of the family, Irvin sets off to the University of Miami and then Dallas, but injuries his first few seasons lead to Jimmy Johnson almost cutting his future star. By his third season, Irvin comes into his own and emerges as the undisputed leader of the team, the first one to arrive in the morning and last to leave. Given that he spent most nights out until the early morning, it's all the more remarkable. Readers will shake their heads at his off-the-field antics, which were unrestrained and seemingly without remorse until years later.

Inevitably, Pearlman takes you to Irvin's Hall of Fame induction, where a matured man attempts to make amends to his wife, children, and fans. Some readers may find it redemptive, others won't, but rather than being dropped off by the author when the team fades after its 3rd title in four years, Pearlman provides a glimpse at some of the players after the spotlight faded. The results aren't always pretty, particularly for someone like Clayton Holmes, but even the most devoted of Cowboys fans, of which this blog has a few, will learn many things they didn't know. Pearlman manages to tell the story with evenhandedness and a lack of bias, probably aided by the access that almost all of the former stars gave him. The one exception? Emmitt Smith, who comes across as selfish and probably the least likeable character, and the book doesn't even mention that he's the only one that wouldn't be interviewed. Why? He demanded to be paid, and Pearlman said no.

All dudes will enjoy this one, and certainly this is a must-read for the Dude.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Fast

On this, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, we at DudeSpin would like to wish our favorite non-goy Dude a happy fast and a restful Yom Kippur.

Dude: Barack is Doing His Job; You Need to Do Yours


All,

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are doing their jobs. David Axelrod and David Plouffe are doing theirs. The campaign staff and thousands upon thousands of grassroots volunteers will do what they need to do.

Come Election Day, more people will wake up wanting to vote for Barack Obama than John McCain.

And that is where we come in! We need your help to make sure that voters' rights are protected and insure that Barack Obama is elected our next president!

If you have not yet done so, please click here to sign up for voter protection work for the campaign: http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/vpcvol2

If thousands of voters are denied their voting rights, then all of the hardwork could be for naught.

Please sign up today and spread the word to others!

Additionally, we need your help to keep up our tremendous financial edge. Our next YLFO National Finance Committee call will be on Monday, Oct. 13th with Judge Patricia Wald. Please contact Amy Sterner at ylfofinance@gmail.com for more information about that.

Thanks for everything! We are close to the finish line, but we cannot let up.

Best,
Steven

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Second Open Letter to the Dude

Dear Dude,

On Saturday afternoon, just after the end of the Duke game, with disappointment still in the air, my cell phone lit up, and I turned to see an unfamiliar 312 number on the caller id. When I picked it up, I was pleased to hear that it was Tara with Ohio for Obama on the phone, calling to confirm my participation in Voter Protection on Election Day.

I of course said I was looking forward to it, and put me wherever you need to in Cuyahoga County. Tara then asked if I knew any friends who could join, since they're still very shorthanded in staffing lawyers in Ohio. I told Tara that actually I have a good college friend who had Obama as a law-school professor for goodness sakes but I can't seem to convince to join me. She said why would a fellow like that choose to sit it out on Election Day instead of helping an old friend. I replied: "I'm afraid this friend became a corporate whore a few years ago and is using his summer vacation as an excuse as to why he can't spend a few days in Ohio."

"What a shame", Tara said. "At least you won't wake up on November 5th with any regrets, and I sure hope your friend doesn't either." "Amen," I replied. "Amen." Dude, don't wake up November 5 with regrets -- wake up with the knowledge you did everything you could to assure us of a win. Ohio needs you, your country needs you, the Committee needs you. Don't let us all down.

Sincerely,

H. Dude

Most Embarassing NFL franchise?

If you had to pick one, wouldn't it be the Houston Texans? Especially after this debacle?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

From Hero to Zero

I'll let others weigh in as well, but here's the long and short of Duke's disappointing loss: the offense couldn't do anything, and the defense employed an effective bend-but-don't-break approach in the first half that kept things close. Finally in the third quarter still trailing just 3-0, while Duke was in the midst of 4 straight three-and-out possessions, Georgia Tech got a questionable pass interference call on third and long from Duke's 25 that spurred their first touchdown, and from there the rout was on as Duke's defense was exhausted and getting no relief from the offense. Georgia Tech got a few long runs and an 88-yard pass play for the final touchdown.

I thought the overall team speed on defense was very good, and though they could've given up a few more scores in the first half, they held tough and gave the offense numerous chances to overcome the 3-0 deficit. But Thad had no magic on this Saturday.

Ramblin' Wrecked, we might've once said.

The Return of Big Play Ray

The 1st story linked on our Duke Football News Plug-in (right) is a story entitled "True Confessions of a Duke Football Fan." Intriguing enough I thought, especially to pump me up for today's game, which starts in 20 minutes!!! I clicked on the link, and who's the author, none other than the one, the only, Big Play Ray!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I thought that was a butt kicking!

Palin probably surpassed the threshold set for by her: (1) insisting that seeing Russia over the Alaska gives her foreign policy experience; (2) not being able to name any news sources; and (3) not being able to name Supreme Court cases other than Roe v. Wade. Yes, she lasted 90 minutes without drooling and speaking in gibberish - but is epidemic question-dodging and repetition of talking points really an improvement on gibberish??

But let's not let forget the real star of the night - Joe Biden. Now that was a command performance.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Open Letter to the Dude

Dear Dude,

As always, we enjoy all of your posts on DudeSpin, including those where you criticize other dudes for at times expressing honest opinions about concerns related to the candidacy of Barack Obama. And surely, no dude disputes that you were first on the bandwagon and have remained loyal ever since.

However, it concerns me that your actions have not yet matched your large mouth. Yes, you've given money, and the campaign appreciates that. But where do Obama/Biden need you most? As a young lawyer, Dude, we need you at a polling station on election day, protecting the vote in the swing state of Ohio. I will be in Cleveland dude, ensuring that there are no voter suppression tactics going on, and that everyone who lawfully can vote, is given that right.

On several occasions, I have urged you to do the same, and after an initial response that because you were in China, you couldn't take more time off, I've gotten nothing but radio silence. Consequently, I'm now forced to take my plea public. I learned this weekend that while the Obama campaign has been signing up lawyers across the country and assigning them to key battleground states, efforts in Ohio are lagging. Your country needs you Dude -- join me in Ohio. Join me and spend election day at a key polling precinct, ensuring that Americans are able to vote for hope and against the politics of fear and suppression.

And all other dudes, join me in my call for the Dude to take action. Money is generous and necessary, but true change only happens with true action. The nation's eyes are upon you Dude. Answer the call.

Sincerely,

H. Dude

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh ye of little faith

We have some light on this day of gloom and doom on Wall Street, and in my pocket book. Not more than two days after the Undude lamented to me about Barack's dwindling electoral prospects in North Carolina, a poll has been released that Barack has taken a two point lead on John McCain in piney woods country. Though this is not the 1st time that the Undude has been shown to lack the audacity of hope, let's hope his negativity isn't contagious on the rest of the North Carolina electorate.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Final Airborne / Obama Challenge Tally!

Yes We Can!

Total Before UVa: $398
Challenge Goal:$500

Here we go,
Duke Win: $50
1 Riley TD: $25
36 Riley yards: $7
6 UVa TOs: $60
Attendance of 25,527: $25
UVa Total: $167
Challenge Total: $565

Congratulations Airborne, not only have you come within a hair whisker of starting the season 4-0, but you've earned Barack a healthy chunk of change - and that's change we can believe in!

I couldn't get the screen capture into a job, but here's the message from the Obama campaign, thanking DudeSpin for its donation.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 18:46:04 -0400
To: [Dudespin]
From: info@barackobama.com
Subject: Thank you for your donation!

Dear [DudeSpin],

Thank you for your generous donation of $565.00.

From the beginning, this campaign has been built and funded by supporters like you giving only what they can afford.

By making a donation today, you have joined more than 2.5 million people who own a piece of this campaign.

But we need to keep building our movement for change, and there are undecided voters who need to hear from you. We’ve launched a new tool to help you reach out to them, by making phone calls or knocking on doors.

Learn more and get started today: http://my.barackobama.com/n2n

Thank you again for your generosity,
Obama for America

P.S. -- Want to show your support with some Obama-Biden gear? There are plenty of great items at the Obama Store:

http://store.barackobama.com

With USC out of the picture...



At the end of the game the PA announced the start of the Blue Devils’ ACC winning streak to the delight of the loyal faithful who had remained. For the second time this year, tons of fans filed out of Wally Wade early because Duke was UP by so much. Yes, there is much to love about New Duke.

When we looked at the schedule, we knew that these first four games were potentially winnable. And while Head Dude will argue that Roof’s Rough Rider’s would be 3-1, I don’t think we can be anything but thrilled about how this team is playing. Georgia Tech will certainly be a much better test to see where this team really is, but right now, I can’t help but feel a new day truly has dawned.

The defense was not great to open the game, playing an Old Duke bend, don’t break defense. Uva drove down the field on its first drive before self-destructing with consecutive penalties, and during the first quarter they ran with relative ease. But as the game progressed, the defense really stepped up. Down 3-0, Duke pinned Uva on the 1, and stopped them for no gain on three straight running plays. That set up the field goal to tie the game at the half (by the way, on the play before, Thad had Riley wide open for an easy score but threw behind him).

The second half was more of the same, with the added plus of turnovers. Al Groh and John McCain had tough afternoons as six Cavalier turnovers doomed Virginia and bolstered Obama’s campaign donations.

At halftime Big Daddy and I noted that the 3rd quarter has been our quarter. We raised three fingers in the air and realized we were making the Ricky Price salute. Coincidence? I doubt it. But this team continues to get the job done in the 3rd quarter. If I were less lazy, I’m sure I could prove to you with startling statistics how many games in the past got away from Duke in 3rd quarters—but this year we explode for two touchdown leads. We're currently outscoring opponents 76-17 in the second half this year!

I really don’t have much profound commentary to this game. The offense was completely out of sync in the first half, but good defense and Uva miscues kept us in the game. Then in the second the offense started to click more (they turned to more quick passing routes and screens to make up for the fact that they could not protect the QB), and the turnovers just blew the game wide open. Here are some extra notes...

-Coach Cut mentioned this in his postgame, but it is a very good sign to win a game like this when your QB really wasn't sharp, and the offense never fully clicked. Oh, and Jay Hollingsworth at times added a nice spark in the running game. In addition to his TD, he had one 10-yard run where two different times he was swarmed and assumed down, but kept on going. Coach C. said that in a year or two, he's going to be something special. Do I dare dream of a Heisman Hat Trick of Riley, then Lewis, then Hollingsworth?

-For our weekly Crazy Sweaty Guy report, here he is politely yelling at some Virginia fans to relocate:



- Saturday Duke will be on the U (national television) for the third straight game. We made the main page of espn.com, and our highlight reel is up there too. You can almost hear the recruits coming in thanks to the extra exposure.

- To get myself fired up, before the game I watched last weekend’s edition of David Cutcliffe’s TV show. The highlight was Eron and Thad watching and discussing all 17 of their career TDs. Eron joked that they could have more if Thad hadn’t missed him with some thrown in the dirt. But during the show Cut said that last week Eron Riley earned a helmet sticker on College Gameday—Cut said he had just sent them a helmet because he knew they would need one soon.

- While crossing the quad after the game, a coed asked someone, “Did we win?” clearly unaware of the excitement that had transpired. That was an Old Duke attitude, but hopefully things are changing. (Note: For it to truly be Old Duke, the girl would have asked, “Did we lose?” or worse, “Was there a football game today?”)

- At the game were two representatives to the Orange Bowl. I think they saw about all they needed to see today. Gentlemen, we’ll see you in January!



- And, last, but not least, the money shot:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate React?

I think the primary theme of the debate for me was how close both candidates, especially in their non-verbal behavior, mirrored their campaign behavior in the debate. McCain appeared snarky, petulant, and annoyed at many moments; while Obama was calm, measured, yet forceful. I watched the coverage on NBC and they had the split shot going for the majority of the debate, and if you go back and watch it with the volume off, I think you might catch a bit of what I'm suggesting. And don't underestimate the importance of non-verbal signals; Al Gore's sighs may have cost him in 2000; Bush 41 looking at his watch may have cost him in 1992. Additional quick hitters:

- McCain hurts his image, especially the developing narrative of his lack of knowledge concerning domestic issues, with his fetish on earmarks. Spending isn't just earmarks - and many of which are for legitimate projects -it's inexorably tied with revenue, and McCain's tax plan just isn't going to make up for any decreases in earmarks.

- Obama's knife and scalpel analogy played well, and supported a narrative of the two candidates that's to Obama's benefit - with McCain being an unpredictable battering ram, and Obama being a measured tactician.

- You have to think that McCain's belittling of Obama, the snarky putdowns of "naivete" or "simply does not understand," hurts his standing with the swing voters; it doesn't appear Presidential; it paints him, ironically, as naive; and most significantly, viewers could see it as untrue when Obama responds to his putdowns by demonstrating an ample understanding of foreign policy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Light Bulbs Turning On For Carl Franks?

If only he and Ted Roof had thought of suspending the season given the dire circumstances of their teams before games against FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech in prior years instead of actually playing the games, perhaps their overall win-loss records would have been better?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Greatness of TO

While tonight may be more widely seen as a coming-out party for Miles Austin, and a continuation of the Cowboys establishing themselves as the top team in the league (which means nothing three games in), two plays stood out, and they were both made by Terrell Owens, who otherwise had a very quiet night. Neither play involved a catch.

Instead, after Romo's interception into the end zone in the second quarter, Nick Collins threatened to go the distance, and Owens was pushed down at the 10 yard line at the start of Collins' return. But rather than stay down, he got up, turned on the jets, and caught the dude near midfield, saving a possible touchdown that turned into just a field goal.

Soon thereafter, when Felix Jones burst across the line and raced towards the left sideline, first Whitten made a key block, and then it was Owens who provided a one-man convoy, pushing two Packers out of the way to clear the path.

Two years later, Cowboys' fans have embraced the guy because after a rocky first season with Bledsoe, he's managed to become a team player for the most part, and who would've thought he'd be an afterthought compared to Josh Howard in the category of negative sideshows.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Life of Undude

I truly feel like I'm living the life of the undude as I liveblog from a pizza parlor in the shadows of the tdbanknorth boston garden (in boston for recruiting at harvard) reading a boston herald. What do I see but this story in News in Brief.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School officials say students planning to attend the next home football game must be with a parent because of widespread drinking at the last game. Two kids were hospitalized and seven others were suspended after they were caught drinking last week. Principal John Ritchie called it a "low point," saying many more boozing students did not get caught. He said the rule, which only applies to tonight's game against Hingham High School, sends a message that drinking won't be tolerated.

If only I had the time to attend tonight's Lincoln-Sudbury game!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Airborne / Obama Challenge Update 3!

Happier returns from the Wally this time around!

Week 1-2 total: $201

Week 2
Duke win: $50
Riley TDs (3): $75
137 Riley yards: $27
2 NWU TOs: $20
Attendance of 25,082: $25
Week 2 total: $197
Total after week 3: $398

Other donations
Undude: $0
Head Dude: $0
The Franchise: $0
Big Daddy: $0

Remember folks, the goal is $500 after week 4. Can we do it?? y'all know the answer...
Yes!
We!
Can!
Let's get to work, and God Bless Airborne

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ka-Ching (for Riley, Duke, and Barack)!



We walked into Wally Wade about 10 minutes before kickoff, and I began having terrible flashbacks of Old Duke Football. The stadium was nearly empty, as seen below.


But as the game progressed through the 1st quarter the stadium started to fill out more. Clearly night games are bigger and better, so hopefully we’ll see more of those on the schedule. Plus, I need some relief as I’m now typing while sore from a classic Wally Wade bleacher sunburn.

But more important than the Old Duke crowd was the fact that New Duke was on the field. Old Duke lost this type of game. New Duke finishes the job in style. Thad and Eron Riley became the most prolific TD passing duo in school history, connecting for 3TDs in a very impressive win. Check this out from GoDuke: In the last two games against Navy, Lewis is combined for 48-of-71 passing for 745 yards and 7 TDs while Riley has combined for 14 catches for 372 yards and all seven of those touchdowns.

Riley’s third TD was a 50 yarder over the middle in which he simply outran the Midshipmen. At one point it looked like he would be taken down, but as he turned up the field near the sideline, he turned on those Heisman-winning afterburners and scored. His second was only five yards, but he made a great move and lunge to just get the ball over the goalline. And Thad looked so much better than he did last week. 25-of-35, 317 yards, and no interceptions. Very rad.

Now for some lazy-writer bullet points…

* The third quarter continues to be where Duke impresses me most. The defense started with a 3-and-out and Duke scored TDs on both of its possessions of the quarter. Especially considering how poorly the 2nd quarter went, it was great to see them come out with so much energy.

* Duke ended the game with a beautiful 7-minute drive that completely gobbled up the clock. The plan was simple: run two straight runs up the middle for no gain, then convert on a pass. And it worked. And by the end of the drive, the runs that had not worked all game became successful as well. A thing of beauty, though Old Duke came back on the last two plays of the drive which were a QB fumble and QB trip.

* In addition to that drive, Duke just did some things well to win a game that could have gone either way. About half way through the fourth quarter, Adrian Aye-Darko came up with a huge diving interception. Add that to a fumble return for a TD earlier in the game, and the defense, which by no means played great, came up with two huge plays that helped swing the game.

* Two punts downed within the five… good day for the new-and-improved Kevin Jones

* Duke punt returners need to call fair catch more often. Leon Wright botched a punt as a man was charging right on him, which led to an easy Navy TD.

* While I’m being negative, the end of the first half was almost fatal (and I’m really surprised it wasn’t). Up 14-10, a Duke DB had an easy pick with 3:30 to go that went through his hands and into the arms of a Navy receiver. This led to a field goal, 17-17. We get the ball back with 1:30 (after a penalty on the kickoff pinned us back), and decide to make some magic. Three unimpressive plays later, and Navy’s got the ball. And a few quick runs later, we’re down a touchdown. And we still got the ball back with 22 seconds. 10 points in one minute… not good.

* Inexplicably, after Thad had led the team to two straight TDs to start the second half, the first drive of the fourth quarter belonged to Zach Asack. He was not sharp, and we went 3-and-out. This being a family site, I once again fail to truly express my feelings about this decision.
Why is this man on the bench during a crucial moment? Never again, Cut!


*But enough complaining… Back to the good stuff… Joe Surgan, the same Joe Surgan who was about 50-50 anytime he lined up for an extra point, drilled a 52-yarder to end the half. Redemption! (Maybe)

* I am pleased to announce that we were reunited with Crazy Sweaty Guy. While the afternoon heat and lack of pre-game tailgaiting time clearly hindered his performance, he did have one special move up his sleeve (well, if he wore sleeves). For the traditional key rattling during kickoffs, he pulls out a gigantic ring of easily 100 keys. What’s the one thing that makes Crazy Sweaty Guy scarier than he already is? Knowing that he can get into your dorm room at night.



* Duke is undefeated in games attended by Big Daddy, so Wally Wade might want to be more accommodating. There were a lot more empty seats today, so we took our general admission tickets and decided to upgrade closer to the middle of the field. And while the three white people in our group were able to come and go as we pleased, the only man whose ticket was checked was the big, black man, who was briefly exiled back behind the endzone. Come on Duke, I expect better (well, actually, I don’t).

* Before the game, Republican groups were passing out McCain stickers, which became an all-too-common sight around campus. But Barack would have the last laugh; Obama picked up a lot of Dude money with this win, two turnovers, and three Eron Riley TDs.

* I’ll leave you with an anonymous quote heard as leaving the stadium: “The winning feels so much better than the losing.”
Well said.

2-1!

It wasn't in front of the biggest of crowds (except on ESPNU), and giving up those two big plays was unfortunate, especially on 3rd-and-12, but all in all a workmanlike afternoon at Wallace Wade. And Eron Riley certainly made some cash for the Obama/Biden ticket!
Undude, as always, we await your report.

Go Away Ike!


Fortunately, I'm safely tucked away in New Orleans, but let's hope for all the best for everyone in Galveston, Houston, and all the surrounding areas potentially affected by the worst storm to his Houston since Alicea in 83.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Giuliani's Son

On this day, which Rudy Giuliani likes to reference at every turn, the N&O shed some interesting light on Giuliani's son's foolish case against Duke. As expected, the son was nothing but a boorish college kid with an enormous sense of entitlement, as evidenced by the fact he's suing for guaranteed playing time, even though he apparently sucks and it was his teammates who instigated the move to kick him off the team. The kind of class we expect from a Giuliani.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fighting back!

There are positive signs the bad news of the last 10 days is being put aside. For one, today's Rasmussen tracking poll and last night's NBC/WSJ poll have Obama up 1, which is meaningless other than to suggest the tide has stemmed.

More importantly, our candidate is fighting back tough:

Barack Obama said Wednesday 'enough is enough' after nearly a day of McCain campaign claims his 'lipstick on a pig' comment was a sexist attack leveled at GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin, and accused the Arizona senator's presidential campaign of engaging in "swift boat politics."

"Spare me the phony outrage. Spare me the phony knee talk about change," Obama said at the start of an education event in Virginia. "We have real problems in this country right now. The American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations. They want real answers to the real problems we are facing.

"I don't care what they say about me. But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics," he also said. "Enough is enough."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Campaign Needs You, Now, More Than Ever

Today comes word that after months of record-breaking fundraising, the Obama fundraising machine has finally slowed, at a most inopportune time. Dudes, this is our moment; this is our time. Will you step up to the Airborne / Obama challenge?

Tom Brady

We can't let this one go by without comment.
Couldn't happen to a more despised team.
Undude, your thoughts?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Airborne / Obama Challenge Update 2!

Well, the Northwestern game was a bit of a letdown for Duke, and the Obama campaign. Not only did Northwestern steal a game, but Eron Riley also left the game in the 2nd quarter and did not return until late in the 4th. Riley's absence (along with Duke's inability to force turnovers) made this a bad night for Duke, and Obama.

Week 1 total: $173
Week 2
Duke loss: $0
0 Riley TDs: $0
28 Riley yards: $5
0 NWU TOs: $0
Attendance of 23,614: $23
Week 2 total: $28
Total after weeks 1 and 2: $201

Other donations
Undude: $0
Head Dude: $0
The Franchise: $0
Big Daddy: $0

C'mon Airborne, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that uniquely Duke promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I hope you're seated, Duke's undefeated!


At least that's what I was going to title this post before the comeback fell just short.

As I dejectedly walked through campus last night, I realized this was a feeling I was all too used to. After the hope and excitement generated by last week’s win, the old Duke football reared its ugly head and stopped by to say hello.

Last week I was online before 8 am composing this report, this week it has been a huge burden hanging over my sad, little head. A classic Duke loss where you can point to so many near misses and “what ifs.”

You all saw the game, so I will not provide a recap, but merely once again give you the perspective from inside Wally Wade’s pearly gates…

· Before kickoff, the quads were full of drunk students. Last week I was thrilled by the student turnout, but this week I remembered, “Ya know, I don’t really like Duke students.” But that said, the student section was again packed, though the rest of the stadium was significantly less crowded than last week. I’ll be curious to see what happens next week. A tough loss, coupled with the Saturday at noon kickoff could be detrimental to the crowd. Still, Wally Wade has never been more fun, so hopefully students will still see it as an event worth checking out.
· In the first half there was a noticeable difference in sharpness from the week before. Duke was forced to call a timeout before the first snap, had a too many men on the field penalty, a risky non fair catch, and someone stole Kevin Jones’ bionic leg and replaced it with his old one. Fewer silly mistakes in the second half, so that’s encouraging.
· The play of the game was the muffed snap that set up an easy Northwestern score.
· Thad’s leaping touchdown run led to a fan eruption, and while I thought he played okay, his accuracy needs to improve. He overthrew too many open receivers. One key difference: While Duke had three touchdown passes just off the fingertips, Northwestern’s only lengthy pass play was an absolutely perfectly thrown ball to hit his receiver (who only had a step) in stride. Not to mention our tough missed 4th-and-5 to end comeback attempt, Part 1.
· Northwestern converted several key third-and-longs. On the game-winning drive they had two third-and-10s, and one other time they converted a 3rd-and-12 while pushed up against its own goalline.
· We didn’t get a replay, so I have to ask, did Ringfield really fumble, or was he down first?
· Another key play that upset the fans: A tough pass interference call that the fans clearly though should go against NU, but was instead called offensive pass interference against Duke. I can’t remember the time or the players involved, I just remember being upset.
· You know I back Thad, but Asack looked great.
· Although at times predictable, we’re still doing nice things with that quick wide receiver screen. Sometimes Thad gets over excited, but it’s becoming a fairly reliable five yards.
· The running game continues to impress me.
· My favorite play other than Thad’s run? The fake field goal punt. This is a family site so I can’t tell you everything I was thinking when I thought Cut was attempting a 50-yard field goal, but the play worked beautifully, pinning the Wildcats deep in their territory.
· Welcome to the Johnny Williams era. Though man I wish he hadn’t slipped after getting past that last tackler. A classic Duke so-close play.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

National title hopes dashed

Bummer. In a reversal of last year, we get a massive advantage in yards and first downs, and unfortunately also in a reversal of last year, we were the ones driving at the end of the game, and thanks to a Cameron Goldberg holding call, unable to convert.
Undude, we'll await your report.

Rock NU like a Hurricane!

While reading this report, please imagine me in a flapping NBC windbreaker and hat, desperately yelling over the wind into my microphone:

Reporting live from Durham, NC, Hanna is here, and the question everyone is asking is: "Sure, no football team can stop the Blue Devils, but what about a hurricane?" Hanna has hit with much less impact than originally feared. It's been raining and gusting all night, but it should clear up by game time. Weather.com reports for the evening a partly cloudy sky, a mere 10% chance of rain, and winds around 14 mph.

But there has been a lot of rain, Durham is under serious flood warnings, and you can expect a soggy, slow turf which could impact the Riley sideline streak. (By impact, I mean slow him down to a mere 150 yards, 1 TD kind of night).

Duke has been practicing all week with wet footballs, but I think the conditions are an advantage to Northwestern. Last week the Wildcats rushed for over 260 yards while dismantling Syracuse. The Wildcats named their entire offensive line the player of the game. Duke's ability to stop outstanding running backs has often been a weakness, so it will be tested tonight against Tyrell Sutton, who was limited last season due to injuries. The Duke D will have to step up.

Last week our offensive line looked great. We had holes to run through, and Thad had plenty of time to throw. In a game like today, they will need to duplicate that performance, and this time against a much bigger 1A defensive front. Last year's win against Northwestern was done almost entirely through the air. Tonight they will need to run some.

That said, this was the one team Duke beat last year. They are clearly better this year. Here's what cut had to say about that:

"I think the pro would be a lot of these guys know they have beaten this team on the field. I think the cons are we gave up way too many yards, 500 and something yards, so it wasn’t all good from that point.
"The other part, a con I guess, is that probably Northwestern is pretty pumped up trying to steal one back that they probably felt like kept them from playing in a bowl game."

If I missed a bowl game with a loss to a 1-win team, I'd be pretty pissed, too. On Duke's side of things, it's a chance to go 2-0 since Fred Goldsmith's last stand in 1998.

One last word from Cut: "It's going to be really heated. I love these. It's two very similar universities under similar circumstances. The kids from both teams should be just competing like crazy. It should be a lot of fun."

Come back later this weekend for another full report from Wally Wade.

**Early, early preview for next week: Last night Navy gave up over 300 passing yards in a loss to Ball State. Thad takes things one game at a time, but if he didn't, he would be salivating at the thought.**

Friday, September 05, 2008

DudeSpin's Airborne / Obama Challenge!

Boy, I'm fired up after Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain's speeches (probably not the way they intended). So fired up that I'm going to propose a DudeSpin Airborne/Obama challenge!
Here's how it will work: I will set out a list of benchmarks related to Airborne's onfield performance, and pledge to donate a certain amount of money to the Obama campaign based on those benchmarks. Because we just have 2 short months until the election, I'm going to set an October 1 deadline for my pledged amount. Accordingly, the 1st four games on Airborne's schedule (including James Madison) will count towards the Airborne/Obama challenge.

I will pledge:
$50 for each Airborne win;
$25 for each Eron Riley touchdown;
$1 for every 5 yards gained by Riley from scrimmage; and
$10 for every Airborne forced turnover
$1 for every 1,000 fans at Wally Wade (here's how you can help even if you don't sign up for the pledge!)

The tally after the James Madison game [win ($50), 2 Riley TDs ($50), 67 Riley yards ($13); 3 TOs ($30); and 32,571 fans ($32)] is $173. Let's push it past the $500 barrier in the next three games! (Of course, I will update DudeSpin readers on the challenge every week).

Of course, I invite all DudeSpin readers and contributors to devise their own benchmarks for the Airborne Obama challenge. By leaving the benchmarks up to you, you can determine how to devise them to root for your favorite player, and how much you want to contribute. If you're willing to participate in the challenge, simply edit this post to add your benchmarks, or post them in the comments. And even if you can't, you can help by packing in Wally Wade in the next three games. I hope that the forces of DudeSpin can contribute at least $1,000 to the campaign through Airborne. C'mon Airborne, you are the ones we have been waiting for!
UPDATE:
Head Dude has pledged to donate $1,300 if Airborne goes 4-0!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sights and Sounds of Wally Wade

Highlights from Pre-game
- Driving down Towerview toward the parking lot, I notice an open space on the street. Free parking on Game Day? A good start to the Cutcliffe era!
- While walking the BC walkway, I noticed a parachuter flying through the air. This morning I learned that at six, two parachuters landed in Wally Wade with the game ball. The problem? They were supposed to land in UNC’s Keenan Stadium and missed their target by eight miles. Oops.
- The campus was incredibly festive. Inflatable games and a DJ blasting hits like “Celebration” and Ton Loc’s “Wild Thing” lined the main quads. The athletics area around K-Ville was packed with various parties, and the gate area was jammed full. Hopefully this is a tradition that can continue.


- The students came out in force. The student section was packed and I can think of no other time when it was as crowded as last night. Usually the first game is a freshman only thing, they learn that no one comes to these games, and then the student section remains bare for the rest of the year. But with so many students seeing a convincing win, I expect big things next week.


- Bad weather delayed kickoff for an hour and a half. We were told it was for the pre-game festivities, which turned out to by pyrotechnics as the team took the field. I like to think we didn’t wait 90 minutes just for that, but I could be wrong. Anyway, the stadium DJ was on his game, delighting us with old-school rap, Europe, and a stadium sing-along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”
- At one point toward the end of the delay, Coach Cut came out to massive cheers. He went straight toward the students, gave the crowd a few fist pumps, and fired everyone up.
- An announcement was made that a little boy named Dallas was missing his parents, and please find him in section 12. Twenty minutes passed and they had to make the same announcement again. Worst parents ever. We were half expecting them to announce in the 3rd quarter that they needed someone to adopt little Dallas.
- Duke also debuted a new leaner, meaner Blue Devil mascot. For a picture, click here. His signature move is throwing his pitchfork into the ground at center field while looking intimidating. This new Blue Devil truly doesn’t take crap from anyone. If you want your baby photographed with him, watch out, he looks like he eats babies. At one point while he was performing, the JMU band started up, and he marched right over there to stare them down. I half expected him to knock down the ladder holding the band’s conductor. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with this guy.

Game Highlights
- And speaking of guys you don’t want to mess with, last night saw the debut of “Crazy, Sweaty Guy.” CSG was a shirtless student standing in the student section whose antics simply cannot be described by mere words. Like Homer before me, I invoke the help of the Muses to help tell his story. CSG was shirtless, greased up, and very animated. He yelled, he jumped, he pushed down neighboring fans to get them fired up. He ended up on the stadium scoreboard a few times, which only encouraged him more. By the fourth quarter, while the student section remained packed, there was a huge circle of empty seats surrounding him, because no one dared stand too close. One student wanted his picture with him, and CSG proceeded to put him in a headlock and wrestle him. The fans started chanting “Crazy Sweaty Guy” to the tune of “Crazy Towel Guy,” and as Big Daddy pointed out, we could have used some of the towels to wipe this guy down. With seven minutes to go, CSG left the game, and another student attempted to mock him. He took off his shirt, poured water on himself, and started to nonsensically scream and shout and push and jump. But just how crazy was CSG? The kid who was mocking him looked back about every ten seconds, clearly fearing that the original Crazy Sweaty Guy would come back there and kick his ass. I don’t think anyone blamed him for his fear.



- And speaking of potential steroid users, someone should test punter Kevin Jones. The sophomore was a beast, averaging 53.5 yards per punt (including a 67 yarder), and an average new of 46.8. The 67-yarder was a touchback, and his other three punts led to a combined seven return yards. Last year Jones averaged 37.2 yards per punt. Simply awesome.
- The Dude was most missed during halftime. Duke had a ceremony honoring its Olympic athletes (though only Coach K, Wojo, and Collins showed up) and the crowd began a stirring U-S-A chant.
- You’ve probably read that the key was the third quarter, when Duke forced consecutive turnovers (including a HUGE interception by Jabari Marshall) and converted them into two touchdowns. That was the difference. The Duke of old probably would have turned those turnovers into two field goal tries, one of which would surely be missed.
- For the first time in my Duke career, fans flocked toward the exits early not because Duke was down, but because Duke was up so convincingly. Never thought I would see that.
- Coach Cut meant it when he said he would go for it on fourth downs. We were 3-for-3on 4th down conversions. Very late in the 2nd quarter, in a pretty makable field goal situation, Cut went for it, got the first down, which ultimately set up Riley’s beautiful diving touchdown grab to give us the 14-7 lead at the half.
- Duke’s D has always had troubles with large, running QBs and the option, and at times that was a problem tonight (something to worry about when Navy comes to town). But they came up with some huge turnovers, and were fantastic on third down. The Dukes were 0-for-8 on third down conversions.
- Thad missed a few open guys high, had some of his passes dropped, but for the most part looked sharp. He made only one bad decision (a pass that should have been picked off) and moved the ball well. The play calling did a nice job of mixing run and pass, and we were very successful at running many short passing routes. And while I don't know if JMU is the best test, our running game was much stronger than I would have thought, though we did have a couple of turnovers.
- But some people are hard to please. Down the row from us sat a very intense Duke fan, who simply wasn’t satisfied with a three TD lead. On a 2nd-and-10, Thad ran a draw for five yards and this guy nearly had an aneurysm he was so upset with the play call. I’m not sure if he has ever seen Duke play before, but if you’re not happy when up by three touchdowns, well, you’re going to have a very tough time being a fan of Duke football.
- Toward the end of the game, security lined the student section, and crewmembers were prepared to bring the posts down before students could charge. I didn’t see this, but while driving home I heard Cut on the radio say that he told the students to save the goal posts for something bigger. That is an attitude I can get on board with.


- The Riley for Heisman campaign begins. And I saw my first home win since 2005. As I said before, Bravo!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Palin


Looks like McCain is going all-in on the disgruntled Hill-cats. A bold move - but probably not the smartest one. Pawlenty was the safe choice, but this is a roll of the dice for sure.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Candidate LiveBlog

Yes We Can!

Just How Important is Saturday?

Nine years ago, I entered the 1999 season with high expectations. Duke was coming off of a four-win season, brought back many starters, and had new coach Carl Franks, who promised an explosive Airborne attack carefully mastered under Steve Spurrier. I openly fantasized about a 6-5 season and a bowl game in Hawaii. Nothing could bring me down.

The Dude and I drove down I-40 on Opening Day to witness Airborne take off against ECU. It was a crash landing. The Pirates' first-down cannon still rings in my ears, Spencer Romine became Ramen Noodles, and Duke's offense went from Airborne to Stillborne to Airdead. The rest of the Franks era was a disaster, followed by the unspectacular Roof years.

Now Duke Football seems to be upon another threshold. Coach Cut continues to emphasize how his team finishes. He wants stronger fourth quarters and tells stories about the importance of strong finishes. But a look at the schedule makes it clear that if wins are going to happen, they are likely to happen during this season's opening stretch of home games. Cut has built up a lot of good will and enthusiasm, and Saturday night I am expecting to see Wally Wade as crowded as I've ever seen it (excluding when NC State fans pack the place). But how much of that is dependent on a win against James Madison?

Of course I predict victory, but does the health of this program depend on the next month? Dudes, please discuss.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Almost Time

DudeSpin, I apologize. But you are right, we need more Airborne coverage.

In my defense, a month ago I tried to set up a kickoff countdown clock, but my technical know-how failed me. I’ve been grappling with insecurities since. But while my game preview has been lacking, I assure you I will be at the game Saturday, and typing up my report at midnight while sipping champagne.

And I won’t be alone. Duke has reported that season ticket sales are up 2500 this year. The tickets arrived last week, and Game 1 is a special extra-large commemorative ticket, sure to become a framed collectible! Big Daddy, if you want to come, I have an extra, but I will have to charge you $500 based on future value.

We’ll be seeing a new uniform and a new attitude. Players have been commenting that they are getting a lot more attention on campus. Lewis said the enthusiasm from his classmates can only compare to the attention after the Northwestern win that ended the most recent version of The Streak.

"Even when you walk around the community you have people telling you that they're coming to the game: 'We're coming to see ya'll play, we're coming to support y’all,” Thad said. “As far as the other years, other people didn't quite say things to you."

He also said that it is easy to be forgotten with basketball and lacrosse. Lacrosse? C’mon!

I’m still very concerned about the loss of Re’quan Boyette. I have been playing the new EA Sports college football game, and they label Boyette as an impact player. In fact, the first time my offense takes the field each game, the ESPN crew wonders if there is any way for the defense to stop this guy. And Sunday night against Marshall, he ran for 133 yards and a score. Losing that will not be easy.

But perhaps so many years have left me too pessimistic. Eron Riley promises a more explosive offense…

“I believe we are going to be much more aggressive and a lot different than you've seen in the past. The offense is all about getting people in a position to positively impact the game - and I think it's a lot more aggressive than we've been in the last few years.”

Duke football without the 3rd-and-long draw? Surely not!

Both Riley and Cutcliffe have pointed out the play of rookie receiver Johnny Williams. Williams was Cut’s first commitment, and when Riley got hurt in practice, he apparently stepped up big time and has impressed people with his hands. On the other side of the ball, look out for hard-hitting freshman DB Matt Daniels.

Gentlemen, falling for the propaganda of Carl Franks and Ted Roof leaves me cautious, but I cannot pretend that I don't love what Cut is doing. We shall see Saturday night!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Night 2

Hilary speaks ... CNN and MSNBC both uniformly say she hit a home run, preserving her legacy while uniting the party and throwing her support behind Obama. FoxNews says she gave a selfish speech that gave no details about Obama and was a general disappointment. Who's right?
And wasn't the Montana governor Schweitzer the biggest hit all night? He went after McCain like everyone else needs to, but thus far really hasn't.

The Dude was Right

Before we move too far away from the Olympics and shift ahead to the conventions and football season, I must make one final footnote about the Olympics. Several months ago, I took Mark Cuban's side against the Dude in arguing that the Olympics is primarily about money, especially in the events like men's basketball.

Perhaps, I was blinded by missing much of the last 3 summer olympics, because we were moving across the country in 2004, I was just starting law school in 2000, and in college in 1996. Not since Barcelona had I watched much coverage or paid close attention, but this time I did, and I must say the Dude was 100% right in this debate. Sure, money matters a great deal to NBC/GE, and many athletes like Phelps, Liukin, Walsh/May-Treanor, etc. will benefit handsomely from their performance, but only the most cynical would watch closely and claim that money is the key driver in most cases. Certainly not for Yao or Dirk when they were carrying the flag, or Carmelo tearing up during the national anthem, much less every other sport where only a few will truly have their lives changed by future endorsements.

So it's easy for me to conclude -- Dude, you win that one. Next stop, London!

Thoughts on Day 1?

In a speech that is probably more important than Barack's acceptance speech Thursday night, Michelle Obama really hammered it out of the park.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 7



So this was it - the final day of our madcap Olympics adventure. We did some shopping in the notorious Ya Show shopping center in Beijing during the day (aggressive shop assistances, fierce bargaining, and ridiculous haggling over 30 cents for a pair of underwear). Around 5, we headed again to the Bird's Nest for our final rendez-vous with arguably the greatest Olympics venue ever. We made sure we had camera batteries fully charged for the occasion.

Though we had seen the US 4x100M relay teams strike disaster twice, the 4x400 meter teams would meet no such misfortune, instead those team struck gold in spectacular fashion. The women's team went first and, behind the legs of Alyson Felix and Sanya Richards, took down the Russians over the last 200 meters in a thrilling race. The men were simply dominant as it led from wire to wire - starting with gold medalist LeShawn Merritt and ending with silver medalist Jeremy Warriner. But this was also a night that we learned that the Scandanavians loved their javelin thrower; the javelin throwers loved to take off their shirts; and Bernard Lagat's dream of a double gold in the 1500m and the 5000m was nothing more than a dream - as he was simply outclassed by the far superior African runners. As the final victory ceremony for the women's high jump concluded, many fans simply lingered on the Olympics plaza, snapping up as many pictures as they can and relishing their last memories of a spectacular Summer Games.




Olympics LiveBlog 6 (Slightly Delayed)


No Olympics events on this day (August 22), though it was momentous as it was the day that we mounted our assault on the challenging hike on the Great Wall from JingShanLing to SiMaTai - a 10 km trail of the great wall filled with steep ascents and equally daunting descents. We were fortunately greeted by the best weather in Beijing on our trip and I wanted to represent my old professor on the most famous wall in the world - so I put on the Obama 08 shirt. About 30 minutes into the hike however, I realized that I would be regretting putting on the dark t shirt in a few hours. To no one's surprise, the shirt came off about 2 hours later. A 1000 RMB round trip cab fire, a sweat-soaked shirt, a few knick-knacks purchased from enterprising hawkers, and about 5 hours later, we finished one of the most spectacular hikes. As this is a PG-rated blog, I've spared the DudeSpin audience of any pictures of me sans shirt - here's one of the many pictures taken on this remote stretch of the wall that was mostly devoid of other tourists.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Hopefully the title of this post will be self-explanatory in a minute. I also hate interrupting The Dude's string of Olympic entires, but here's a passage from one of the early AP articles on Obama's announcement that Joe Biden will be his running mate:

A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his boss has expressed impatience with what he calls a "reverence" inside his campaign for his message of change and new politics. In other words, Obama is willing — even eager — to risk what got him this far if it gets him to the White House.


So that begs the question: now that we've made it to this point, is it win at any cost? Do we just jettison the message of change for some kind of perceived greater good and hope that our candidate remembers it once he takes office?

This is why I hate politics...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog (Day 5)

*Note, I will be adding photos later; no current access to computer outside of Internet Cafes

From a competition standpoint, day 6 was a light one, only the prime time Track events in the Bird's Nest. Nevertheless, it was our first foray into the Nest and thus, made it a much anticipated event! We spent the morning waiting out a torrential downpour (which you would have seen if you saw any highlights of the women's 20 km racewalk or the women's beach volleyball final) before we made our way to the forbidden city to walk the grounds and learn about the 4,563 concubines maintained by the emporor in imperial times - must have been a busy guy! We traversed the approximate 2 hours it took to get from the forbidden city to the Bird's Nest (actual travel distance is about 5 miles) and the multiple levels of security. The Bird's Nest itself is an absolutely spectacular venue, and, as an added bonus, has restrooms with actual toilets rather than the squat toilets preferred at most Chinese public restrooms. The attached photo shows Olympics Greens Plaza on a drizzly afternoon. Sadly, my camera batteries died on this day before I was able to capture any of the splendor inside the Bird's Nest



It sprinkled a bit during about 30 minutes of the competition, but remained cool and breezy for the major competitions. The highlights:
- Jeremy Warriner giving up in the 400 m when he realized how far he trailed LeShawn Merritt; while Neville dove across the finish line to get the bronze - way to be Olympian Jeremy!
- The US team choking not once, but twice in the 4 by 100m relay when they dropped the baton on the final exchange of the men's and women's relay semis when they had a clear lead and path to the finals. Fortunately, the men's team probably did not cost itself a gold medal as Jamaica looked dominant.
- Usain Bolt has no ego issues. As one day after being criticized by the head of the IOC for his celebrations, he once again struck several poses after being serenaded by the entire Stadium, as it was his 22nd birthday (Bolt made an appearance because they had to redo the medal ceremony for the men's 200M as a couple of medalists were disqualified).
- we had memorized the Jamaican national anthem by the end of the evening.
- The greatest part of the Olympics is seeing and hearing the fans of the different countries cheer on and celebrate their athletes. We had enthusiastic Jamaicans and Ukrainians in our section, and it made it immensely entertaining.
- what was supposed to have been a coronation for Liu Xiang in the 110m hurdles backfired after Liu withdrew in the prelims. The planned final victory ceremony of the night for the winner of the 110m hurdles was attended by about 1,000 people as the fans filed out en masse during the running of the 400m heats for the men's decathlon.
(Just one more Olympic LiveBlog to go! Tomorrow night - we wrap up with one final night at the Bird's Nest for the final night of track and field).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog: Day 4 (Slightly Delayed)

Day 4 promised to be the busiest day on the Olympics schedule for us - the day began with 2 classification games in water polo; followed by all 4 men's basketball quarterfinal games. As dawn broke, however, the day began inauspiciously as one of our neighbors saw my obviously foreigner friend and advised that we go register with the government. I kindly advised her that we would be leaving in 3 days and thus saved us the hassle of going through that mess! Unfortunately, we would not have missed much with water polo, as the two games were "classification" games to determine 7th through 12th places. I'm still unsure of why this needed to be done, but what it meant was that we saw the 4 worst men's water polo teams in the tournament. Fortunately, since we knew nothing about water polo, we detected no mediocrity in the play. We did, however, conclusively determine that China has an extraordinarily bad team, and that the locals love taking pictures with foreigners. Our seat locations for this event was our worst of these Olympics - but of course, better this event than any that actually matters. Of course, what surprised me most of all was that at a water polo match involving Greece, China, Canada and Italy, who do I see in the concession line but some detestable member of the nation dressed up in Papelbon gear.




Another nice and filling $15 lunch for two later, we found ourselves outside of Wukesong Basketball Center for a highlight of these games for us - a full day of men's basketball quarterfinals. Rather than run down the results that everyone knows, here's a couple of things you might not know:
- 99% of Croatian basketball players have names that end in "ic";
- None of them could shoot the basketball;
- Kobe Bryant is really really really really really really popular in China;
- The post-entry pass, however, is not, at least not among the Chinese team's guards;
- Wang Zhi Zhi is really bad at basketball;
- The Chinese love an underdog, as everyone became an Aussie fan by the 4th quarter;
- the Greeks know how to cheer on their team - as the Greek version of the Cameron Crazies brought much life to a thrilling affair between Argentina and Greece;
- Manu is money in international ball.