There is only ONE Oklahoma

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Its Labor Day weekend

This holiday weekend marks the beginning of one sport’s season, and the beginning of the end of another. It is a great time of year, but not without a bit of controversy.

The ‘old guard’ Nascar fan still stings from not having the ‘tradition’ of the Southern 500 in Darlington. It is ironic that they feel this way however, as many of their claims originate from their perceived ‘greed of Nascar’. While there is no doubt that Nascar is financially strong, and yes does generate large profits, there is a key reason for this.

The ‘old guard’ still wants to see races on a ‘regional level’, in venues that are near the ‘roots’. While this is convenient for them, they also want to see nationwide sponsorship for their favorite drivers. The problem is that one can’t have that both ways. If one desires Nascar to ‘keep it’s southern roots’, then don’t expect to maintain the nationwide exposure (i.e. sponsorship) and TeVee time.

Will there be some empty seats at Caly this weekend? Probably. But the total race attendance will still be significantly greater than if the race was held at its ‘traditional venue’. Plus, (like it or not) the opportunities for untapped exposure of the sport to new and potential sponsors are much greater in Southern California, than in South Carolina. And remember, the last half dozen or so Southern 500s had empty seats as well. That fact maybe more of a product of the holiday weekend and not the race venue.

Labor day weekend also makes the start of the College Football season and for many, it can’t get here soon enough. Here are a few items to prime the season.

This weekend, it begins. It's what many of us have waited ALL YEAR for. If I stop long enough and really think about it.......it brings chills.

What really is important in life? The really important stuff are our spouses, our children....family.

Of course that IS number one.

But we are part of that unique obsessive breed that love and adore college football. Others not in this category say.....'It’s just a game.' Technically they are correct. But in reality it's not just a game. It is a very important part of our lives. It is a vital fuel that keeps us going and gives us strength.

During World War II the American public went to movies to get that precious moment of 'escape.' A moment where we could escape and dream and hope during very difficult times as loved ones fought for our freedom.

Today, for many, the escape in the fall is College Football. We love hearing the bands, the roar of the crowd, and our devotion to those on the gridiron that we don't even know become our heroes. Our devotion to our sport is somewhat bizarre. Here's a unique mind experiment. Let's say, for example that one-year for some unexplained bizarre reason that the entire squad of Oklahoma decided to transfer to LSU and the entire squad of LSU decided to swap and transfer to Oklahoma. It wouldn't matter.......that's OUR TEAM no matter what the players names are. We don't know the players but they are OUR guys and that's all that matters.

The NFL?......that is the arena where we get to watch 'our guys' get their monetary reward and we are happy for them and want them to succeed. But pro ball isn't college ball. College football is where the true glory is.

Why are college stadiums on the whole so much bigger than pro stadiums? Ask any NFL player that had the unique opportunity to play in the NCAA championship game and the Super Bowl and they will tell you.......NOTHING compares to the college game. Even crucial rivalry games are more important to them than the Super Bowl.

We live through them. We smell the grass, we hear the roar of the crowd, we, in some way, experience the glory they are feeling. We (the crowd) are that other player on the field that cheered and pumped them up to achieve victory. In a way we are a part of 'our team.'

College football isn't 'just a game.' It's an essential and deeply important and psychological part of our lives that even helps us to be better people. Yes, we lose games we shouldn't lose and we 'give up' and want coaches fired and we get on message boards and threaten physical violence to our opponents simply because it draws out the 'passion' in our very being. It's part of the fueling process.

It's not just a game. Every single sportscaster and analyst will tell you......this is the greatest time of the year. No other sport brings out passion like college football. If you don’t believe me, the best example is even Nascar related. Try walking through the camping areas during the fall Dega weekend, and it really doesn’t matter if it is Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. You will see the college football passion first hand. It’s everywhere and just as prominent as the race itself.

Wanna see some passion?
A poll of 42 college football coaches has found some consensus — the Pac-10 Conference has the worst referees. In other news: the Pope is Catholic, water is wet, and the Texas Longhorns still sucks!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Real Quick

Watching the CTS race at Bristol last night, a few observations:

1) The new surface is very, very, very, very, very smooth

2) There is actually another, higher (at the very least a half groove) to race in (maybe even two grooves)

3) This is now a 'race track', not a 'fan spectacle'.

4) There will be a significant number of fewer cautions Saturday night because the 'chrome horn' will not be as much a factor as in the past.

I'm looking forward to watching this race.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some Unfinished Business

A little over a month ago the University of Oklahoma athletic department, for the seventh time was found guilty of ignoring the NCAA rulebook. A book that is very much like the Nascar Rulebook in that it contains some very vague rules and interpretations. But I regress.

Just over 50 years ago the football program was cited for it’s first infraction of "improper transportation; extra benefits; improper recruiting inducements". This most recent infraction was for "impermissible extra benefits – payment for work not performed and failure to monitor”.

On the surface, one could look at OU as the ‘Rick Hendrick Motorsports of college football’ and after all the school’s nickname, ‘Sooners’ actually honors people who jumped the gun and ‘stole’ their claims back in the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run.

But what one might expect didn’t actually happen.

So what really did happen in Norman?

Yes, two starters and non-scholarship walk-on did indeed receive money for work they didn’t do at a local and well-known car dealership in Norman. It was no secret that Oklahoma athletes were (by NCAA rules) legally employed by this dealership, and in fact, many of the athletic department staff leased or purchased cars from this dealership as well. OU was ultimately guilty of breaking NCAA rules by failing to completely monitor athlete’s employment and maybe more could have been done on the front end, but that is up to much conjecture.

However, it is what took place on the back end that makes me proud to be a Sooner and especially how head coach bob Stoops conducted a real investigation, made a quick (and tough) self-punishing decision and showed the rest of the college football nation that there is a right way to handle things when those things go horribly wrong.

"You have to step up. I have a program built here for the long haul and this didn't change that." Bob Stoops

Some readers may simply call me a ‘Homer’ and just turning a blind eye to ‘my team’, a team that is a repeat offender after all, there should not have been this scandal in the first place. Furthermore, they should have had plenty of practice and it is about time OU did right in the first place?

In reality, OU handled this even by NCAA standards in a manner that maybe considered unprecedented in college football history. Lets look at the time line of events.

On March 3, 2006, the school received an anonymous email claiming some football players were being paid for essentially a no show job.

There is not a university in Division 1A that has not had to deal with an allegation like this, but the nature of even sending this allegation anonymously would tend to be ignored, deleted or simple delayed before being sent to the proper authorities.

OU did not hesitate to investigate immediately and conducted interviews, retained facts and narrowed down the potential list to just a few suspects. The coaching staff and Stoops not only didn’t resist but also actively aided to this investigation, even if that meant the possibility of losing the starting Quarterback, and a starting offensive lineman.

There was one huge stumbling block in this investigation and that was to legally access the players in question private tax records, the players would have to sign a waiver voluntarily. The players didn’t have to turn these records over, and their refusal would have delayed this investigation perhaps years. Unlike another school that has won recent multiple National Championships and an Upper Mid-West School as well, Stoops refused to ‘throw up his hands’ and fall back on the ‘let the investigation take its course’ (and stall) Stoops told the players they could either sign a waver to release the records or never play another down for him.

"Those players didn't have to sign their waivers to get all of their tax information. But I knew for me, they are not going to play for me unless they did because if they are not going to give us all of the information, then something isn't right." Bob Stoops

The guys turned over the incriminating info and on August 1, he and department officials interviewed the players. The next day they were dismissed from the team, even as it seemed to crush OU's chances of winning the Big Twelve championship.

"It was the right thing to do regardless of the consequences." Bob Stoops

On August 21, less than three weeks after completing the investigation and less than six months after that first tip, the school sent the NCAA an initial report. The NCAA came and did its own investigation and in July, the major infractions punishment came down – some minor scholarship losses, probation through 2010 and the forfeiture of eight victories back in 2005.

For years schools have ignored, denied and covered up original charges and then resisted when NCAA investigators tried to do their job.

Many schools prefer to launch an investigation that is as much eternal as internal. The goal is to drag things out, keep stars eligible and eventually come to a determination years later. After wasting vast sums of money with an NCAA-connected law firm, the school will then complain that any possible sanctions aren't fair since the kids currently playing had nothing to do with the long ago crime and will be unfairly punished.

This time, OU did it right.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What a difference a year makes?

Actually, when it comes to the “Southern Gentleman’s” on track performance, not much.

It was just one short year ago when Sadler formally cut the cord by leaving his ‘dream job’ and jumped on the Evernham bandwagon.

“It’s truly an honor to drive for Dodge and Ray Evernham and to be a part of this team. I admired Ray as a crew chief and now as a team owner and business leader. His operation is impressive. When you look at the engineering resources, the talented guys on the team, the marketing programs, the facilities and the way he and his directors run things, you can tell that this is a powerhouse organization that is focused on winning races and championships. I look forward to providing some of those wins and hopefully competing with Kasey and Scott for the championship next year.” -- Elliott Sadler 8-15-06

Looking at the numbers and the justifications Sadler gave for leaving RYR, one has to wonder if the “Southern Gentleman’s” internal clock is ticking once again to bolt to another team.
This time last year, Sadler took the driver seat of a race team that was 34th in owner points and while the 19 team as a whole has improved that position somewhat, the on track results are actually worse than what Sadler was achieving with RYR. The “Southern Gentleman” was not ‘happy’ with the result in 2006 with the 38 RYR team and made this justification.

"They're great, great people, and I've definitely enjoyed driving for those guys, but pretty much we have just come to differences of opinions on which way the sport is going. I couldn't really make myself buy into the system and which way I think the company is going. So we just decided to split ways and do something different." Elliott Sadler 7-22-06

In 2006 with RYR, Sadler had an average starting position of 17.5 and an average finishing position of 23.1 while completing 92% of the total possible laps (20th in driver points standings). Not stellar numbers by any means, but when you compare them to the 2007 Evernham numbers of an average starting position of 19.6, an average finishing position of 24.3 while completing 96.9% of the total possible laps (20th in driver points) the similarities are striking.

We have all heard the excuses owner Ray Evernham has recently made, and the may or may not be justified. But the ‘Southern Gentleman’ seems to be more motivated by the end results, and little has changed in terms of end results in a year.

Now the real question is will Sadler revert back to his old ways and 'media speak' and start to spin his web. One doesn't have to look far to see his work unfold. Compare these quotes to recent Sadler quote and quotes to come. Its like Deja Vu all over again, or is it?

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law - Cite This Source
Main Entry: ex·clu·sive
Function: adjective
1 a : excluding or having power to exclude others b : being independent from or not shared by others : SOLE
2 : limiting or limited to possession, ownership, or use by a single individual or group
It seems that some Nascar fans don’t have a good understanding of this word, especially when it comes to Nascar’s Title Sponsor. This past week, Nascar scored a courtroom victory with it’s favorable ruling in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is a banner ruling that will not only benefit ALL race teams, but helps secure and stabilize the racing series as a whole.

By giving Nextel exclusive naming/sponsorship rights for approximately 100 million dollars a year, Nascar not only gives teams a financially secure governing body, but also passes off much of this money to teams in prize money. While in the other hand, AT&T is getting the full benefits of a Cup primary sponsorship for less than 18 million a year (probably more like 14 million) when the Title Sponsor was guaranteed mutually exclusive naming and sponsorship rights. What AT&T and RCR are attempting to do is exactly what Nextel was attempting to prevent and more importantly, paying to prevent.

Some of the AT&T/RCR defenders are giving justifications and claiming foul, but lets took a closer look at a couple of them.

“So let get rid of SHELL on HARVICKS car because SUNOCO IS "EXCLUSIVE" Gas of Nascar...
Burton is still wearing the NEXTEL LOGO ON his Suit and on the car...
This is stupid...
Look up the word "exclusive" in the dictionary and see what it means.
I know what that means... it means let NEXTEL own the series... not SPRINT... that came after the agreement with NASCAR, so this should allow 1 car change if they are allowed too.
look up "Close minded" (Thats what NEXTEL is)

1) Sunoco does NOT have the same exclusive rights built into their supplying of the racing fuel. Sunoco is the ‘official racing fuel’ of Nascar. While the 29 car does have SHELL on the hood, Nascar has been very careful to maintain their working relationship with the official fuel supplier (Sunoco), and earlier this season, forced the 29 car to make the focus of their sponsor logos more directed to the Pensoil Lubricant branding and not the Shell fuel. Thus preventing a direct conflict of interest from competing and like products.

2) Nextel had the foresight even during the original negotiations with Nascar that a provision to be put in place (and Nascar agreed) for one name change if Nextel acquired or acquiring another branded name.

The only part I don't like is Nextel/Sprint made it clear they don't want Cingular and Alltel sponsoring a car. Nascar should have took their (um nevermind too graphic to post) before signing up with Nextel. Alltel has not pulled the same stunt as AT&T so they should not be forced out.

Oh well, Winston Cup>Nextel Cup anyday!!!

1) Actually, Nextel and Nascar realized that existing sponsorship agreements before the Title Sponsorship was put into place, needed to be honored. Nascar required Nextel to agree to a ‘Grandfather Clause’, which allowed existing competing wireless communications sponsors to remain with their teams as long as they kept that sponsorship current.
2) Alltel has never once been asked to alter their sponsorship agreement with Penske Racing and the 12 team and as long as they continue that relationship, Nascar or Nextel will have no legal grounds to remove them from the series.
3) Winston when it was the Title Sponsor also had these same provisions in their exclusive deal with Nascar as well. When Winston became the Title Sponsor in 1972, there were no other cigarette sponsors in the series until the day Winston left. Of course some will site the #33 Skoal Bandit car, sponsored by U.S. Tobacco beginning in 1981, however that sponsorship was not in direct competition with Winston in terms of market share. One being a ‘smokeless’ brand the other was not.

Exclusive rights are just that, exclusive, and can and will keep competitions from benefiting from their investment. For example, ever tried to order a Bud Lite at a Colorado Rockies home game? Or a Coca Cola at a Colorado Avalanche or Denver Nuggets game? Try it sometime for a giggle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Driving in Dallas

First, you must learn to pronounce the city name. It is DAL-LUS, or DAA-LIS depending on if you live inside or outside LBJ Freeway. Next, if your Mapsco is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and buy a new one. If in Denton County and your Mapsco is one-day-old, then it is already obsolete and really, there is no good reason to be in Denton in the first place.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Dallas has its own version of traffic rules... There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in Dallas. We all drive like that.

All directions start with, "Get on Beltline," which has no beginning and no end. (It REALLY DOESN'T!!!)

The morning rush hour is from 6 to 10. The evening rush hour is from 3 to 7. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out and possibly shot.
When you are the first one on the starting line, count to five when the light turns green before going to avoid crashing with all the drivers running the red light in cross-traffic.

Construction on Central Expressway is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. We had sooo much fun with that, we have added George Bush Freeway and the High Five to the mix.

All unexplained sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh, we're in Fort Worth or maybe Denton!"

If someone actually has his or her turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect.

Car horns are actually "Road Rage" indicators - and remember,
it's legal to be armed in Texas ...

All old ladies with blue hair in a Mercedes have the right of way. Period. And remember,
it's legal to be armed in Texas ...

Inwood Road, Plano Road, NW Highway, East Grand, Garland Road, Marsh Lane, Josey Lane, 15th Street, Preston Road all mysteriously change names as you cross intersections (these are only a FEW examples).

The perfect example is what is MOSTLY known as Plano Road . On the south end, it is known as Lake Highlands Drive, cross Northwest Highway and it becomes Plano Road, go about 8 miles and it is briefly Greenville Ave, K Ave, and Highway 5. It ends in Sherman...

The North Dallas Tollway is our daily version of NASCAR. The minimum acceptable speed on the Dallas North Toll Road is 85 mph. Anything less is considered downright sissy. It also ends in Sherman .

If asking directions in Irving, SE Dallas or Garland (Garlando), you must have knowledge of Spanish.

If in central Richardson or on Harry Hines, Mandarin Chinese will be your best bet.

If you stop to ask directions on Gaston or Live Oak, you better be armed... and remember,
it's legal to be armed in Texas.

The wrought iron on windows near Oak Cliff and Fair Park is not ornamental!!

A trip across town east to west will take a minimum of four hours, although many north/south freeways have unposted minimum speeds of 75.

It is possible to be driving WEST in the NORTH-bound lane of EAST NORTHWEST Highway . Don't let this confuse you.

LBJ is called "The Death Trap" for two reasons: "death" and "trap."

If it's 100 degrees, Thanksgiving must be next weekend.
If it's 10 degrees and sleeting/snowing, the Fort Worth Stock Show is going on. If it has rained 6 inches in the last hour, the Byron Nelson Golf Classic is in the second round (if it's Spring) or it is TMS weekend- and it is the Texas State Fair if it's Fall.

If you go to the Fair, pay the $8.00 to park INSIDE FairPark . Parking elsewhere could cost up to $2500 for damages, towing fees, parking tickets, etc.
If some guy with a flag tries to get you to park in his yard, run over him.

Any amusement parks, stadiums, arenas, racetracks, airports, etc., are conveniently located as far away from EVERYTHING as possible so as to allow for ample parking on grassy areas.