Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vindy's 2008-09 Bowl Recap


CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (AP)....Florida and Oklahoma slugged it out on the field Thursday night to win the Bowl Championship Series Sears Trophy. The highly-coveted crystal hardware was presented in Miami to the Gators, but the actual title of BCS National Champion, vacated by the 2007 Bengals of Weeziana State, now belongs to the Fightin’ Illini, who bought the title from embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagovedich by outbidding other teams. UI alumni rallied to the cause under the battle-cry, “Buy One for the Zooker!”, referring to Illini head coach Ron Zook. Reporters pulled records from the governor’s office, suggesting teams in the monetary running for the pinnacle of Division I-A football included Idaho, Wazzou, and Syracuse. The politician, already in hot water for trying to sell President-Elect Obama’s former Senate chair, continues to proclaim his innocence in the matter, but examination of the expletive-laden FBI wiretaps being used as evidence also links him to the 1980 Olympics “Miracle on Ice”, the 1919 Black Sox scandal, the Pilgrims purchase of Manhattan (who outbid the Japanese by a couple of trinkets!) and the Academy Award for 1994 Best Picture to Forrest Gump (Editorial note: Oh sure....Tom Hanks’ brief role as a touchdown-scoring member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, on its own artistic merit, wins out over Sean Astin’s movie-long sacrifices to go down in history as a player for the Notre Dame Frightenin’ Irish in Rudy???!!!)

Your Hooville Holiday Cheer-Meister went 1-9 to open the 2007 season’s bowl fare, but his opening 2-1 tally through the first trio of the 2008 post-season was just a tease as NORAD (which passed on Santa’s flight this year due to budget concerns) had Vindy at a mere 2-5 by the time he finished unwrapping his highly-coveted Bakugan Battle Brawlers on Christmas morning. In fact, the prognosticator’s progress was handed off to the NYC Subway authorities with his record headed toward an early 3-8-1 slide. But the On-Star system installed in his forecast was notified immediately when the driver’s-side air-bag deployed...automatically-sending emergency crews to the crash site at the Independence Bowl on December 28 when Vin’s usually-dependable “lock” pick Northern Illinois went south (courtesy of three turnovers vs. Weeziana Tech [though the Weber Kid acknowledges some nifty defensive plays by the Bulldogs]). A push by Cal and back-to-back-to-back dog covers by NC State, Northwestern and Maryland (and a best bet win and cover by Rice) were followed by an 0-fer New Year’s Eve (0-4) hit to the codpiece (no, that ain’t a fish dish!). Needing to hit 9 of the final 12 to finish at .500, the Weber Kid girded his loins (All hail the Kevlar athletic supporter!) and got 2009 off to a blazing 7-1, losing the Orange Bowl (In retrospect, Vin forgot to take into account the Hokies 15-4 straight-up Thursday night run). Consecutive losses for the International and Fiesta Bowls left our haggard hero needing both the GMAC and the BCS Title game to break even. Tulsa trampled Ball State to give Vindy hope and the fab forecaster finally reached a very coin-toss-worthy 16-16-2 after Florida clamped down on the Sooners, following a shaky first-half.

Fine...a topless president-elect strutting his ripped torso on the island of Oahu gets global media coverage. Your prestigious prognosticator recently doffed his pre-printed silk-screened muscle tee, flaunting his six-keg abs in Sin City.... and got nothin’ more than a sign reading, “No shirt, no shoes, no service!”. But wait until the wire services get a load of...

(It’s how wise guys do fancy!)

BETWEEN THE HASHMARKS notes several...uh...unusual (or at least little-known)...New Year’s Eve droppings, including a 25-pound faux Peep (constructed from fiberglass) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and a cheese-wedge in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Not to be outdone, Vegas rang-in 2009 by dropping a 195-lb., former sportsbook employee who was caught skimming profits....did we mention he was lowered from the top of the Stratosphere into a bucket of cement, which was then transported to Boulder City and unceremoniously pushed off the Hoover Dam into Lake Mead??? Casino officials simply told the cheat he was helping test-out a new thrill-ride! Also just minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1000 balloons bearing the words “Joy” and “Hope” were released from rooftops near Times Square. Meanwhile, farther north, Orange fans at the Carrier Dome launched hundreds of balloons inscribed with “Syracuse 24, Notre Dame 23"!!!

After Vindicator told a department-store Santa he wanted a Red Ryder BB-Gun for Christmas, the faux Claus responded, “You’ll shoot your I-formation out, Kid.”

If you’re scoring at home, the Big Tent-Peg Conference went 1-6 SU/3-4 ATS this bowl season, losing by better than two touchdowns per tilt. That post-season pointlessness was second only behind the Mid-American Conference, which went 0-5 SU, 0-5 ATS and lost by an average margin of nearly 17 points per game!

We’d just like to share a Frank Zappa quote we found in an article listing the top 99brewskis on the planet in the January 2009 ish of MAXIM magazine...”You can’t be a country unless you have a beer and an airline-it helps if you have some kind of football team....”. BTW, for our readers living in or with ties to the Keystone State...Juengling Traditional Lager made that distinguished list and Vindicator is no stranger to said beverage!

Congrats to the Penn State Lady Lions, who recently reeled in the 2008 women’s volleyball national championship over 14-time contender Stanford in December. And a very late round of applause to the Lions’ men’s squad for toppling Pepperdine to take the V-ball title last February! Vindy tips his helmet to his grad school alma mater, Richmond, for taking this season’s Football Championship Subdivision national title!

Recently rebuking Joe Biden’s criticism about President Bush’s alleged requirement to get permission to initiate nuclear strikes, Dick Cheney noted the president is never without a military aide who carries the nuclear gadget, known as the “football”, that permits those attacks. Nice...not only does the Commander-in-Chief get a personal protector, said individual also totes the rock! In fact, the outgoing leader of the free world was seated so close to the field during the recent Colts game, the voice-activated device picked up signals from the Colts huddle and half-a-dozen long-range nukes went into ready-to-launch status. Fortunately, the QB on the field was Peyton Manning, who after stepping to the line of scrimmage and quickly surveying the defense, rattled off a long series of audibles, leading silo crews targeting Vancouver, Puerto Rico and BCS Headquarters in Indianapolis to then stand-down, averting a couple of international incidents.

David Hasselhoff sang national anthem at Las Vegas Bowl. After being panned by his fellow “America’s Got Talent” judges, the Hoff will be replaced next year by KITT. The Village People played at halftime of the Sun Bowl leading fans to croon “Y-M-I-Here?” during the Oregon State-Pitt 3-0 snoozer. In related news, Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA’s Dallas Stars admitted he hummed Hasselhoff’s “Looking For Freedom” while de-stressing himself at the foul line. Vindy’s been known to reduce those pressure-packed moments in the sportsbook by humming “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson , “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, “Like A Surgeon” by Weird Al Yankovic, or the Spongebob Squarepants theme song!

Shaquille O’Neal is closing in on 5,000 bricks from the charity stripe. Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z! When Shaq gets within grenade-range of 5K worth of forecast losses, let us know!

Speaking of bricks...a New Year’s Day college hoops game saw Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight pull a 12-year-old from the stands into his team’s huddle during a time-out vs. Stephen F. Austin. Seems coach wasn’t happy with his squad’s inability to hit lay-ups and used the youngster to make a point. Funny, that same day, Red Raiders coach Mike Leach snagged a 10-year-old from the arcade of a Vegas casino to show Vindy how easy it was to pick games against the spread after the fumbling forecaster went winless the night before. It worked, but the precocious little !@^%#$!! also hit all 12 of the 2009 bowls!

A few thoughts on some of the 2008 bowl swag given to participating players... the Meineke Car Care folks offered a “racing-themed” baseball hat. Why not a CD featuring soundtracks from Days of Thunder, Chariots of Fire or the Wacky Races??!! While a replica or life-size Bell Helicopter, Bradley Fighting Vehicle or M1-A1 Main Battle Tank might be a tad extreme for Armed Forces Bowl teams, a ride on one of those babies and the chance to test out the weaponry aboard said vehicles on a target-range (utilizing sub-caliber training rounds, of course!) would provide players with a story they could tell the grandkids! And finally, BCS title game contestants got a Tourneau watch. Not sure who or what Tourneau is, but Vindy would rather have a a Tourette’s watch, which instead of beeping, chiming or chirping, actually breaks into a profanity-laced tirade every hour on the hour!

The economy is so bad, even game shows are making it harder for contestants to win the big bucks. Thus we have 2009's “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grade Academic All-American?!” And BTW, “Milk and Cookies with the Mustangs”, SMU’s childhood literacy program, will now be known as “Powdered Milk and Temporary Internet Cookies with the Mustangs!” In fact, next season’s Rose Bowl will be preceded by the “Tournament of Dandelions” parade.

Speaking of which, Vindy has it on good authority that NBC’s “live” broadcast of the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day was actually produced and pre-recorded three days earlier by the Chinese and that the “floats” were simply digital enhancements inserted into the broadcast footage. In fact, the grand marshal was only a 12-year-old Chinese girl (she “misspoke” to bowl committee officials, telling them she was really 16), who through the magic of television and special effects, was altered to look like Cloris Leachman! Gotta’ hand it to those Chinese “volunteers” who pulled off that whole “high school and college marching band” thing!

The island of Oahu suffered a major electrical blackout just two days after the Frightenin’ Irish beat the Rainbow Warriors to pocket their first bowl win in ten tries. Coincidence? You decide!

Vindicator’s bowl predictions have now gone 149-157-5 (.486) since the start of the ‘97-‘98 post-season extravaganza. This season’s Weber-Friendlies....Joja’ (10-1-1), Florida (11-2) and USC (10-3)...all posted forecast wins, while the Injuns of FSU fell to 6-2. Way back in Week One, Vindy noted at least two teams unranked in the AP preseason poll, in all but one season from 1993 to present, ended up among the Top Ten in that season’s final AP Poll. We predicted two of three from Utah, Michigan State and Nebraska would get there this time. The Utes came in at #2, while the Spartans finished at #24 and the Huskers were outside the rankings when it was all said and done. The Mountain Best did, however, also place TCU in the seven-hole to keep the trend going!

In a follow-up to an earlier reference to the DUI arrest and subsequent Rose Bowl suspension of the Penn State mascot, the police blotter indicated, ” ...the suspect was administered a field sobriety test...and couldn’t walk a straight lion.” (OK, feel free to boo that one!).

Missing out on his 11th straight Pro Bowl opportunity, Redskins LB London Fletcher referred to himself as the “Susan Lucci of the NFL”. Feeling his pain, the Vegas Vindicator considers himself the Jar-Jar Binks of the football forecasting world...written-off as irrelevant and known only for being relegated to comic relief or simply-annoying against the backdrop of the bigger picture!

Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol recently gave birth to a son, whom she named Tripp. Given the family trend of applying monikers starting with the letters “TR”, might a subsequent newborn be called “Tressel” after the Buckeyes head coach?! (BTW, that might also be the Wasilla High School preferred-spelling of the bridge-like structure, over which trains traverse!). Were the parents trippin’ when they named the latest addition to the family?! What about the complex this kid’s gonna’ get when, exposed to hockey in Alaska, some player gets two minutes in ‘da penalty box for... tripping ??!! Is there a Trophy in the family planning?! Maybe a daughter named...Trebuchet...a medieval war siege machine used by Sarah Palin to launch giant snowballs (or moose carcasses) over her home-fence into the yard of her Russian neighbors???!!!

On New Year’s Day, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings played an outdoor hockey game at Wrigley Field. Play was stopped briefly when the puck became lost in the ivy, and after several minutes of conferring between officials, the Blackhawks were awarded a ground-rule double! Did players drawing penalties spend two minutes in the bullpen? Was the opening puck dropped at the pitcher’s mound???!!!

Reason #47 in favor of a Division I-A college football playoff: NFL?...”Win or go home”. NCAA Bowl Games? Win and go home...then wait for the voters!!!!

After much deliberation, the Arena Football League decided not to suspend its 2009 season. It will however suspend all former Florida State players among its ranks for the first three games just on general principle!

Earlier this month, Terrell Owens attended the sleep-over party at the Palms here in Las Vegas. The whiny receiver was later overheard complaining about his lack of involvement in his team’s pillow-fight!

LEFTOVER HASH (Stuff that was available but didn’t find its way into the forecast earlier this season)
NFL owners considered banning hair that hangs below the name on the back of the jersey. Players can stuff their manes up under their helmets. Apparently, it’s being called...the “tuck rule”!

With a number of budget-strapped states now considering alternative avenues of income, we revisit a January 2008 ish of Gaming Today, which quoted Senate president Richard J. Codey as saying “I think Appalachian State would have to beat the (New York) Giants before the federal government would allow New Jersey to permit sports betting in casinos”. Beat the Giants? No. Beat the Jets? Maybe. Would knocking off the Raiders or Lions be acceptable??!!!

This past summer, the Las Vegas Hilton was taking wagers on an Irish hurling match (Tipperary vs. Waterford). Vindy remembers doing his share of hurling in his college days in Happy Valley, but has no recollection of making it a competitive team sport! So upon what criteria is said behavior scored????!!!... Distance... of difficulty...artistic interpretation??! We foresee yet-another reality show...Hurling With the Stars....judged by...Will Farrell, Jack Black and Lindsey Lohan!!!

Favorite lyrics from Z-Z Top for a sports gambler who’s hit five of his/her first six ties-win parlay card picks with one to go...”Lord, take me downtown. I’m just lookin’ for some push!”

With the UNLV basketball team on a six-game exhibition tour of Australia last summer, the Sutherland Sharks promoted their game on the team website, noting... “UNLV reached the final 16 of the NCAA championships and were knocked out by the eventual winners Kansas State University. This should be a big game.” The Rebels, of course, lost to actual title-holders, the Kansas Jayhawks, but the K-State Wildcats are still national champs down under until proven otherwise!

Also last June, a New York-Pennsylvania League baseball game between Staten Island and Brooklyn featured an ambidextrous pitcher and a switch-hitting batter. The hurler and hitter switched sides repeatedly for several minutes before umpires ended the shenanigans. Vindy tried to engage a ticket-writer in a similar conflict, but the bookie didn’t see the humor in it and simply had security remove the ominous oracle!

The NBA’s newest Senior VP of Referee Operations is former Army Major General Ronald L. Johnson, who was the Commanding General of the Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division in 2003 and 2004. Well, we’ll know who to call upon if there’s ever a need to clear a path through a half-court minefield, rebuild some blown-up backboards or set up a pontoon bridge between the two sidelines!

Coming Spring 2009....the first U.S. Coin stamped in Braille. The front of the silver dollar commemorating the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth will feature the blind alphabet’s creator with the word “liberty”. On the “tails” side will be a schoolboy reading a Braille book, with a bookshelf behind him bearing the Braille equivalent of “Take the Trojans over 9 ½ wins!”

In May, five college students were charged with attempting to steal a baby alligator from a mini golf course in Daytona...but not before taking turns trying to putt the ball through its mouth as it raised and lowered its jaws on the 14th hole!.

Taking a few liberties with the NHL’s Stanley Cup commercial...”I am the third-down sack. I am the touchdown pass. I am the 50-yard field goal. I am the BCS trophy!”

Researchers discovered what could be earliest photo of Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Keller is seen holding a doll, believed to be first word spelled into Keller’s hand. Just days after the picture was taken, Keller would spell Y-A-L-E P-L-U-S-S-E-V-E-N-O-V-E-R-H-A-R-V-A-R-D into Sullivan’s hand.

If a team falls in a bowl game broadcast on Versus, does it make a sound?

A February “Leftovers” column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal compared Tony Romo’s going from Carrie Underwood to Sophia Bush to Jessica Simpson and denying reports he’s moved on to a new girlfriend as “a veteran quarterback going through his checkdown progression”. Might his remaining “release valves” be Britney Spears, Hayden Panettiere, Hannah Montana or the Olson Twins???!!

ESPN: Da’ Mag, citing a December 2007 divorce petition, noted that among Shaq’s monthly expenses was a $3345 telephone bill! Imagine what it would be if he just “phoned it in” each game!!!!!

The Spring ‘08 ish of The Penn Stater magazine recognized sophomore Erin Luley for setting national records in the USA Memory Championship in the Poetry and Names & Faces events. Bill Belichick plans to use the Happy Valley student’s skills on the Patriots sidelines to memorize opponents hand-signals!

April Fools Day conference- Hillary challenges Obama to a bowl-off. Hey...Vindy would love to match post-season picks with the president-elect and his Secretary of State!

UNLV coaches were told $300K needed to be hacked off its athletic department budget. Solutions considered included reducing the number of showerheads in the locker rooms, forcing players to shower together post-game (OK, maybe just the women’s locker room); replacing bobblehead give-away nights with silent auctions of stuff owned by players and coaches; scheduling more away games with Big Six conference teams to get those big paydays in exchange for certain losses; shortening dimensions of Sam Boyd football field to 90 X 40 to lower groundskeeping costs; allowing Vegas gamblers to “invest” some of the budget money each week (on non-UNLV games of course) and changing the team moniker from Runnin’ Rebels to “Rebs” or “Rubles” to save on lettering for uniforms, team logo-wear and printing costs. Of course, winnin’ more than five games might get the fans to show up! How ‘bout adding Notre Dame, Michigan, UDUB and Wazzou to the non-conference schedule???!!!!.

In October, the Truckee Meadows Community College orchestra conductor sued EA Sports for copyright infringement over inclusion of his “Win With The Rebels” music in its video games, to the tune of $150K per unauthorized use. Not to worry for the folks at Electronic Arts since the song will only be heard five times or less per any 12 games played!

“Texas”, a conglomerate of college football players with ties to the Lone Star State, defeated “Nation” (a collection of players from around the rest of the country) 41-14 last February. But thanks to the tie-breaker system and the BCS computers, Nation will go to the conference championship game anyway!

Prior to last year’s Super Bowl, KFC offered to donate $260K to charity in the name of any player who did a chicken dance celebration for at least 3 seconds in the end zone during the Big Game. There were no takers, but Vindy would be happy to embarrass himself doing so in the sportsbook! With all apologies to the folks at Jack-In-The-Box... Vindicator is....your chicken-man!

Last February, Europe’s new science lab, Columbus, was attached to the International Space Station. Nice of the folks at Ohio State to sponsor a European space lab, dontcha’ think?! Maybe Mrs. Palin had something to do with that. We heard she said she could also see The Horseshoe from the front porch of her Alaskan home!

This time last year, White House officials revealed that tapes containing e-mails and electronic documents prior to 2003 were recycled. Kinda’ like all those wedding videos that get taped over with NFL Conference Championship games, huh?!

The Mike Lowell Foundation, named for the Boston Red Sox player, raises big dollars for children with cancer. It also sponsors “Dancin’ with the All-Stars”. Hmmm...we think it’s just a matter of time before the event determines home-field advantage for the World Series!

UCLA hoopster Kevin Love, on facing the Lopez twins of Stanford, said...”It’s like the walking trees from ‘Lord of the Rings’...” No truth to the rumor the Cardinal will change its mascot from a mere redwood to an Ent!

Yankee Alex Rodriguez has been romantically-linked to Madonna. No sign yet though that he’s changed religions to... Kabaseballa!

As reported by ESPN: Da’ Mag, 92 South Korean soccer players dislocated their own shoulders to get out of being drafted into the military. Not only were they drafted, they were signed up for Special Forces!

The Obama camp has been pondering what to do with a $30M campaign surplus....we’re thinkin’ OSPN (Obama and Sports Programming Network) has a nice ring to it! (Come to think of it, so does...the Barack Ten Conference!). Or how ‘bout buyin’ out the Big Ten and PAC-10, then implementing that Football Bowl Subdivision playoff he wants!

A Wolverhampton (England) striker assaulted a nightclub doorman with his girlfriend’s purse. His was a Gucci, while hers was just a cheap knock-off or what??!!! We just want to know if the card shown to the player by the referee following the play was...carmine or saffron!!!

Terrell Owens admitted missing a random drug test, blaming it on a “communication problem involving cell phone numbers.” Vindy’s thoughts?.....”Ya lost me at ‘T.O.’”

Black Shirt: The coveted ebony tee goes to 285-lb Kentucky defensive tackle Ventrell Jenkins, who returned a late fumble 56 yards for the deciding TD vs. ECU, allowing Vindy’s Best Bets to finish 4-0!

“Wish I Had That One Back”: BYU over Arizona...after sarcastically scribing “woo-hoo” as a measure of Coogs enthusiasm for drawing a post-season date in Sin City for the fourth straight time!

“Locked in a Box?”: NIU fell outright to Louisiana Tech as previously noted, dropping the 08-09 lock record to a still-mighty-respectable 13-3 (.812).

Shoppe Talk: The Weber Kid never actually saw the final Ole Miss-Texas Tech score, but the combined absence of “guns up” um... nostrils...and searing of his retinas upon attempting to view the box score suggests he had the correct side, sending the Raiders forecast tally to 2-9. Flame-Throwers Wisconsin (1-7) and BYU (2-9) continued to thwart Vindicator with losses.

Vindy’s Best Bets: Bowls: 4-0 Season: 42-25-1(.627)

Despite his reasonable amount of success this season, those guys from the Alltel commercial think Vindy’s “still a ding-dong!”

A man named Jim Purol set the world mark for most seats sat in over a 48-hour period with 39,250. After busting the record, Jim sat in the remaining seats at the Rose Bowl for a total of 92,542. In his honor, Vindicator will spend the upcoming off-season sitting in every seat in every sportsbook in Las Vegas!

Until late August, Sportsfans, we leave you with...

Words of wisdom from frequent Gaming Today contributor Sid Diamond: “Never fall in love with a big favorite, as with the underdog you always have two chances to win and with a favorite you only have one.”

And the traditional Irish blessing...”May the road dog rise up to beat you!” (Something like that!)