by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome: Football's fashion, fading passions, hockey's rations and more ...
Fashion vs. Style: This week in the dead-tree, I talk about a summer of promise and a September of failure for Vandy and the Titans.
And I talk about the difference in fashion and style.
It's fashionable to make YouTube videos showing all the fun times and heartwarming times you have on campus. It's fashionable to fly around the country in your helicopter and it's fashionable to rent limos for your coaches. It's fashionable to talk about your assistants' hot wives.
Style, friends. Style is forever. Style is what matters. And winning? That's style.
Northwestern has style (and not just because they had the good sense to match purple jerseys with black pants). And the Patriots have loads of style, little of which has to do with model-handsome Tom Brady and his actual-model wife.
Talking a good game is as easy as taking care of a pet rock.
Winning games takes a whole lot more.
The Week Behind
Symbiotic, Patriotic, Slam Book Neck: Hey, Jake Locker looked OK, right?
Well, except for that back-to-the-goal-line fumble immediately returned for a touchdown, sure. Heck, even when he got hurt, it was because he was making a tackle. More than we can say for some other people.
And Jake Locker even had two rushes for 11 yards — a whole 21 feet more than Chris Johnson!
There are folks out there who are going to moan about the officiating — a lot of these people would moan about the officiating even if the normal NFL refs were calling the games — and it certainly was woeful. The play on which Locker was injured technically didn't happen. The refs missed an obvious pass interference in the end zone early in the game. Indeed, the officiating was so atrocious, Bill Hobbs was on Twitter siding with a union.
But let's be honest here, people: the refs didn't turn Chris Johnson into CJ12Foot, nor did the officials turn the offensive line into the Maginot Line.
Outsmarted: Years ago, Vanderbilt losing two early-season games to two perennial bowl teams in such close fashion would have been cause for celebration down at Kelly's.
These days — and this season — it's not good enough (old-school Vandy fans will go to Kelly's anyway, probably).
What doomed Vandy in their 23-13 loss to Northwestern in Evanston were the same things that have doomed Vandy for decades: inability hold on to a lead, horrible decision making and ill-timed turnovers (as if there's ever a good time for them) from a quarterback.
And watching the offensive play-calling was like listening to a Train album on repeat: unappealing, mind-numbing, uninspiring MOR drivel that's never likely to result in scoring. Vandy's offense is the "You're such a good friend" of football.
It's almost as if in James Franklin's efforts to change the culture of Vanderbilt football, he forgot to change the football itself.
Garbage Time: It's not all bad football in the Music City: TSU is heading back to Hale Stadium 2-0. ... The Brewers and Sounds extended their affiliate agreement by the standard two years and Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin gave the usual line pressuring the city for a new stadium. ... Preds minority owner W. Brett Wilson is out with his You Can Play Project video. ... The Preds responded to Intern Adam's lawsuit, starting off by reminding him of the actual, legal name of the entity which owns the team and continuing by saying "aver" a lot. SICK LEGAL BURN.
The Right to Arm Bears: Down I-40, the city of Memphis is trying to get guns off the street so they are doing one of those buy-back programs:
During the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Bloomfield Baptist Church, the city and its partners plan to hand over a $50 Mapco gas card for each gun a person turns in, for a maximum of $150 worth of gas cards, per person. Those who surrender guns will also receive two free tickets to a preseason Memphis Grizzlies game
Preseason NBA? Boy, if that doesn't get guns off the street, nothing will.
Hey, Remember Jon Runyan?: Hey. Remember Jon Runyan? He played for the Titans for awhile, before moving on to Philly and then finishing his career in San Diego, as all the great ones do.
Anyway, now he's a congressman and his opponent came up with a unique ad that uses Runyan's footballing background as a way to attack him.
You Missed: Vandy's doing upgrades at Hawkins Field. Measurements weren't exact.
Tweet of The Week: Chris Johnson had a pretty craptastic week — his worst Sunday performance ever. But he's still on that Twitter game.
The Week Ahead
The First Blast Of The Trumpet Against The Monstruous Regiment of Blue Hose: James Franklin said his team had the toughest first two weeks in college football. While opening with South Carolina and Northwestern was difficult (and directional), Savannah State probably wins the award for toughest first two weeks.
The Commodores schedule does ease considerably tomorrow when the mighty Blue Hose of Presbyterian come to town for the
paycheck big game. The excitement about this game is at such a fever pitch, free tickets for it are available at Belmont.
The only interesting thing that could come out of this game (other than the 900 jokes I will make about my fellow Presbyterians) is a quarterback controversy.
It's clear Jordan Rodgers isn't going to get it done, which means there is a clamor for Austin Carta-Samuels (whose nickname has to be "Magna," right?). Should Rodgers continue to play poorly — or if he plays OK and comes out of the game because Vandy is beating the limited atonement out of Presbyterian — and Carta-Samuels responds by playing well, James Franklin will find himself in the same situation as every Commodore coach before him: with fewer SEC wins than Louisiana-Monroe and with a quarterback controversy.
Worthless Prediction: Vandy wins this one in a walkover, but Rodgers continues to struggle. The calls for Carta-Samuels get louder.
Everything That Should Be Up Is Down, And Everything That Should Be Down Is Up: It's been almost 20 years since the Tennessee Titans beat the San Diego Chargers.
Well, that's not actually accurate. The Tennessee Titans such as they are have never beaten the Chargers. The Oilers beat the Chargers Sept. 27, 1992. A few days later, Ross Perot would re-enter the presidential campaign.
Remember James Stockdale? Who was he? Why was he there?
We still don't know. And the Titans/Oilers have yet to solve the mystery of "Where In The World They Can Beat The Chargers of San Diego?"
They aren't going to beat them this week either. Chris Johnson will get more than four yards, presumably by falling forward a few times, but don't expect any eye-popping numbers, especially since his Hall of Fame head coach and the Hall of Fame offensive line coach continue to deny there's any problem with the offensive line.
Kenny Britt will be back, which should help the passing game and very well may give Johnson a little more space up front, but they'll have Britt on a pitch count, so his impact may be limited.
On defense, the Titans will likely go without Colin McCarthy, who very well might be the best player on the team. Will Witherspoon Organic Farmer will move to middle linebacker and rookie Zack Brown (and his band) will take over Witherspoon's spot on the outside.
Worthless Prediction: Remember when every Titans game was 23-17 last year? That. Chargers win.
Don't Hate The Player(s); Hate The Game: The NHL is all but certain to lock its players out tomorrow.
League commissioner Gary Bettman is just as certain to take much of the blame for this work stoppage from fans — it will be the third time the league has locked its employees out since Bettman became commissioner. Fans will, of course, ignore that Bettman is an employee of the league's owners — who are a lot like congressmen: everyone hates the owners as a whole but loves their own team's owners.
In some ways, Bettman does deserve a bit of blame, at least for driving a silly narrative. In his press conference Thursday announcing the owner's purported unanimous decision to have a lockout, he cited the rising cost of jet fuel and massage therapists as two reasons the league was asking the players to take a lower share of revenue than the 57 percent they are currently getting.
It's a strange change in tack from Bettman, who heretofore had been harping on the fact that the NBA and NFL give their players a share of revenue closer to 50 percent. Players' association chief Don Fehr, who you may remember from this (coincidentally, 1994 World Series was officially cancelled on Sept. 14), has a standard riposte to this argument: that all sports aren't the same and, hey, baseball doesn't have any labor strife and it's the only sport without a salary cap. Yes, Fehr argues for baseball's labor model. Fehr, the guy who all but killed the pastime in 1994.
Reasonable minds never thought the NHL would go through this again. Revenues are booming, contracts are sky high, the league has a sterling new TV deal with NBC. Why mess with a good thing?
All that forces Bettman to talk out of both sides of his mouth and then find another side and talk out of that, too. The league — stronger than ever before — is healthy but not every team is profitable. Some teams make out like gangbusters, some do OK, some are hanging on for dear life. By that logic, despite the $200 million annual check from The Peacock and a big revenue increase since the lost lockout, the players should take what amounts to a pay cut, even though they took a pay cut in 2004.
But look, people, Bettman's not to blame here. Bettman's just doing what at least 16 guys who own teams want him to do. And odds are one of those guys owns the team you love.
Wanna say hi? Hit me at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com and listen Tuesdays when I join Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland on 102.5 The Game from 6 to 7 p.m.