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.