Dear Utah, You Have Officially Been Jimmered

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Uncategorized

Jimmer Fredette’s brother T.J. has always said he is amazing (see rapper T.J. Fredette’s song that is, interestingly enough, titled “Amazing”) — and after seeing Jimmer put up 39 points on UNLV last week in Las Vegas only to follow it up with the madness that was last night in Salt Lake City, I think I have to agree.

Fortunately for me I am not alone on this one. Jimmer and the BYU Cougars were the lead on SportsCenter last night, beginning the show with highlights of the BYU-Utah game, only to be directly followed by an interview Scott Van Pelt of ESPN had with Jimmer.

Despite embarrassingly missing a wide-open dunk late in the second half of last night’s game, Jimmer was able to do just about everything else. He had 47 points (32 of which came in the first half alone — more than any other Mountain West player has scored in an entire game this season), 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and, for good measure, a 42-foot shot at the buzzer to complete the run Jimmer BYU made to end the first half.

My favorite part about last night was not only his stellar performance, but the attention he is finally receiving from the media outside of Utah. The Twitter universe was flipping out as soon as the halftime buzzer sounded, and the nation began spreading the word that the All-American guard out of BYU had 32 points… in the first half.

I recognized that ESPN and CBS analysts like Andy Katz, Scott Van Pelt, Jalen Rose, Billy Packer, current NBA players, and even a few underground rappers I had never heard of were all tweeting about the show Jimmer was putting on in Salt Lake City. For example, I am sitting here eating lunch this very second listening to a group of girls (yes, females) talk about how Jimmer’s half-court shot was the #1 play on Sports Center last night. With an appearance on College Basketball Live late last night and an interview with Dan Patrick this morning on ESPN Radio, it is safe to say that Jimmer and the 10th ranked Cougars are receiving some well deserved attention.

Maybe the best part of last night was that all this took place in Salt Lake City — at the Huntsman Center on the Utes’ home court. Jimmer’s 49 points last year against Arizona was as impressive as any game I had seen from a college player. He set a personal career high in points and set the BYU all-time single-game scoring record. But last night, the same night teammate Jackson Emery passed former BYU great Danny Ainge as BYU’s all-time steals leader, against the Cougars long-time rival the University of Utah, on the Utes’ home court, his 47 points in 35 minutes of playing time could not have been sweeter.

Dear Utah, you have officially been Jimmered.

Goodbye Robert Anae, Hello ___________

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Uncategorized

After a week of speculation, BYU fans (at least the majority of us) received welcome news when offensive coordinator Robert Anae officially resigned this morning. A lot of people saw this coming after last week’s news that Coach Bronco Mendenhall advised all of his offensive staff to seek employment elsewhere or to re-apply for their positions.

As much as I loathed the presence of Robert Anae on the coaching staff, I have to give credit where credit is due. Many of us don’t remember the years before Anae because they were very forgettable. He was able to bring back a vaunted passing attacked that was missing for the first half of the decade. Many credit his success to the NFL caliber players he had on his rosters, but even when Gary Crowton had talented players he wasn’t able to piece together an offense quite like that of Anae. He was good, but never great — and, in the end, that’s why he is out.

Everyone is speculating that Anae will join up with his former boss Mike Leach. The former Texas Tech coach is the front runner to fill the head coaching vacancy at Maryland and, if he gets that position, Anae could join his offensive coaching staff.

So now that Anae is gone, there are two questions that need to be answered. Which of the offensive coaches will be back from last season’s staff? And who will be named offensive coordinator?

At this point, I expect most of the offensive staff will return. In all likelihood, Brandon Doman will take over as offensive coordinator. Mendenhall has been singing his praises all season and even said that he was the best quarterbacks coach in the country. I also think he is a great coach and, if we don’t promote him soon, someone else will.

Offensive line coach Mark Weber should be back next season. He has always done a phenomenal job coaching the big guys up front, even when he had very young and inexperienced players. The running backs coach Lance Reynolds should also be back, but he might decide it’s time for him to retire after being with the team for 25-plus years.

If anyone else is going to leave, it would be wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins. The receiving unit had some bright spots toward the end of the year, but they were uninspiring for most of the season. There is a rumor going around that Ben Cahoon, a former BYU star and record-setting wide receiver in the CFL, could be in line to take his place.

I would love for Bronco to bring in some new blood to the program, but I’m not sure where it would come from. A lot of people are throwing out the name of Ty Detmer, but that could be a stretch because he doesn’t have any real coaching experience.

In the end I don’t see a whole lot of change occurring within the offensive staff. Doman will probably get promoted and use the same basic system that was in place. If anything, we can look forward to better play-calling and a team that plays like they respect and trust their coach.

89

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Uncategorized

Eighty-nine University of Connecticut women’s basketball team wins later and the PB&J Report crew still believe that, given a month to practice together and get in shape, they could take the UConn women in a game at the palatial Rhombus courts (a.k.a. 24 Hour Fitness).

Rumor is our very own Ben Wagner is just tired of the publicity UConn is getting all together:

“24 hours of ESPN overload later, I still don’t care about the UConn win streak, and I don’t know anyone who does.” — 12:26 a.m. on December 22nd via Twitter

You out there, Geno Auriemma? You hear that? We want to take you on.

We win, UConn gets pulled from all ESPN broadcasts for the rest of the year. By the rare chance we lose, however, we have decided in advance to nominate the host of The PB&J Report himself, Jake Welch, to cover ball boy duties at UConn for a minimum of one lifetime. It is a chance here at Rhombus that we are willing to take.

Geno, you name the time and day. We’ll bring the Cactus Coolers.

Who do you think would win in The PB&J Report vs. UConn “Game of the Century”? Make your voice heard by voting in the poll below!


WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Uncategorized

Over the past few days, I’ve witnessed some confusion on the possibility of the United States government taking action against WikiLeaks for any potential illegal action they might have committed in their recent divulging of thousands of secret State Department cables. As a result, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a minute and clear up some misconceptions.

Many WikiLeaks supporters are currently up in arms, saying the United States has no grounds to prosecute the organization or its founder, Julian Assange — and they may be right about that. The fact of the matter is, like all criminal cases, it will depend on what the government can prove in a court of law.

The problem with many of the WikiLeaks apologists’ arguments is that they’re often predicated on a deep misunderstanding of a landmark Supreme Court decision — New York Times Co. v. United States, or the “Pentagon Papers” case. According to the arguments I’ve heard, WikiLeakers believe the precedent set by the court’s Pentagon Papers ruling — which held that the government could not legally prevent The New York Times from publishing a news story about leaked top-secret military documents — also prevents the government from pursuing legal action against Assange and/or WikiLeaks in this latest snafu.

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable line of argument. However, as with most things, we need to dig deeper to really understand the forces at work here.

Most importantly, we need to understand what the government is considering charging Assange for. (They haven’t actually done anything yet, to the best of my knowledge.) They’re not investigating him for possessing the documents or posting them online or even giving them to media outlets around the world. None of those activities are the focus here. On the contrary, the Justice Department is currently investigating exactly how Assange got those documents and if he or his organization became accomplices to a crime in order to obtain them.

So how do we determine that? What would Assange have to do to be considered an accomplice to a crime in this case? Well, this is where it all starts to get a bit hairy.

Let’s start with what we know. We do know the documents were allegedly obtained by U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who used his security clearance to gain access to the classified documents and subsequently downloaded them to a data storage device (I believe it was a blank disc labeled as a Lady Gaga CD, funnily enough) without authorization and eventually disseminated them to the general public through Assange and WikiLeaks. The act of stealing and exposing those files is considered treasonous and illegal under U.S. law, and Manning is now being detained for that alleged crime.

The question the Justice Department is trying to answer in their current investigation is just how involved Assange was in the the young private’s crime — or, essentially, when he knew about the leak and how involved he was in actually stealing the documents. If Manning acted alone in accessing and obtaining those documents and then brought them to Assange after the fact, WikiLeaks is in the clear and the Justice Department doesn’t really have a case.

On the other hand, however, if Assange was involved in the theft from the beginning and coordinated with Manning throughout the commitment of his crime, then everyone’s favorite blonde-Australian-not-named-Nicole-Kidman is in some trouble. If the Justice Department can ultimately prove that Assange was in contact with Manning about leaking those documents prior to the crime being committed and was even tangentially involved in aiding and abetting him throughout that illegal act, then Assange is complicit in Manning’s crime.

That’s really what this all boils down to — what Assange knew and when he knew it. If Bradley Manning randomly decided one day that he was going to steal a bunch of secret State Department cables and then dropped them in Julian Assange’s lap after the fact, WikiLeaks is clean as a whistle. However, if the Justice Department can prove that Manning contacted Assange (or vice versa) prior to stealing the documents and said, “Hey, I can get this information,” and Assange essentially replied, “Great, how can I help?” then they’re both toast.

Which brings us back to the Pentagon Papers. WikiLeaks apologists say Assange should be insulated from any criminal charges because, like the Times during Vietnam, he is a member of the press who is simply publishing information in the public interest and the Supreme Court says there’s nothing illegal about that. And that could perhaps be true (maybe) — if it weren’t totally irrelevant.

First, WikiLeaks is a) not a news organization, and b) it wouldn’t matter even if it were. WikiLeaks is not like the Times or The Washington Post or even The Huffington Post. They are not fulfilling a newsgathering, journalistic role as defined by the court. The press publishes synoptic reports about newsworthy events of the day. WikiLeaks dumps raw info and data onto the Internet and then disseminates it to actual news outlets for the aforementioned synoptic reports. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but they are very different roles.

WikiLeakers would probably disagree with me on that — and that’s perfectly fine because, for the intents and purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter whether WikiLeaks is a member of the press or a bunch of cyber-hooligans or a loose-knit coalition of unemployed birthday clowns. The distinction is completely irrelevant.

In Times v. United States, the Supreme Court did not rule that news organizations could do whatever they wanted. That’s not what the case was about. The court ruled that the government could not prevent the Times from publishing their story on the Pentagon Papers. The Times was provided those documents by a third-party source — they did not do anything illegal or conspire with anyone who did in order to obtain that information. They were presented with the report after the fact by the leaker, Daniel Ellsberg, who subsequently faced criminal charges (and was cleared, due to a mistrial) for his actions.

Now, draw a parallel between the Pentagon Papers and Assange’s present predicament, as laid out in the space above. If Assange was, in fact, simply presented with the State Department cables by leaker Bradley Manning — as the Times was with the Pentagon Papers by Ellsberg — then he has done nothing wrong and any criminal charges against him would undoubtedly fail in court.

However, if Assange was complicit in Manning’s crime from the beginning, he is an accomplice to treason and should face appropriate charges. Likewise, if Times correspondent Neil Sheehan had participated in a coordinated effort with Ellsburg to illegally photocopy the classified Pentagon Papers so he could ultimately divulge their information in the pages of his newspaper, he would have faced the exact same charges as Assange — and rightfully so.

There’s no double-standard here. No one is trying to skirt or ignore the Pentagon Papers ruling. It just doesn’t apply. If you commit an act of treason, the Supreme Court’s opinion against prior restraint does not insulate you from prosecution, regardless of whether you’re a prestigious newspaper or an international man of mystery. Neil Sheehan did not commit an act of treason, he just published the information he was given — hence, he did not face charges and Daniel Ellsberg (they guy who allegedly committed an actual crime) did.

The same goes for Julian Assange. We don’t know what he knew or when he knew it quite yet — the Justice Department is still trying to work all that out. But if he really just published information that Bradley Manning handed him after the fact, then he should be free to go on his merry way, leaking everything everywhere to his heart’s content.

But, conversely, if it can be established and proven in a court of law that he knew what Manning was doing and that he encouraged, aided, participated or conspired with him to commit that crime, then it’s time for everyone’s favorite Aussie enigma to face the music, for better or for worse.

It Might Sound Crazy, But It Ain't No Lie, Robert, Bye, Bye, Bye

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Uncategorized

The news is in. Not only was the entire offensive staff for the BYU football team released this afternoon by head coach Bronco Mendenhall and encouraged to search for job opportunities elsewhere, but my fellow colleagues here at Rhombus Magazine are starting a boy band. We plan to dedicate our first cover of the ground-breaking hit “Bye Bye Bye” from none other than ‘N Sync to BYU’s very own Robert Anae.

The news broke about 3:00 p.m. today from the Deseret News. Funny enough however, at 5:41 p.m. when I went to check the article before writing my thoughts here, the page that broke the news officially can “no longer be found” or “may not exist.”

Really? Is this going to be a major let-down to BYU football faithful everywhere? Let’s face it — Robert Anae has been a suspect (to say the least) play-caller for years. Thanks to a few questionable games he called this season without veteran quarterback Max Hall or running back Harvey Unga there to bail him out, Anae’s ineptitude was on full display and, thankfully for us, Bronco realized this… or so we thought.

I was on cloud nine for the last two hours. Robert Anae, finally gone. This is what BYU needed. I have been saying it for the last two years repeatedly. Not only was he asked to leave, but the entire offensive coaching staff was asked to seek employment elsewhere while Bronco evaluated each member. In my opinion, this could not have come at a better time for the Cougars.

We have a promising future on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Jake Heaps, wide receivers McKay Jacobson and Cody Hoffman, and the entire running back core returning for at least one more season. Why not put the best possible coaching staff together now when the team looks to be making big steps onto the national scene going independent next season? Reassessing things on the offensive side of the ball is exactly what Bronco needs to do.

Many believe that quarterback coach and former BYU quarterback Brandon Doman would be the perfect man for the job. He has a brilliant young mind, is liked by the players, and is said to be BYU’s best recruiter as well. The story that broke the news this afternoon also mentioned that each coach is encouraged to reapply, hinting that Doman could be hired back on to the staff to be the Cougars new offensive coordinator.

Before we determine anything else, we need to clarify if the report that “is no longer” is valid.  For our sake and the sake of the BYU football program, let’s hope that it is (otherwise our future smash cover of “Bye Bye Bye” may have to wait.) We will keep you posted as we receive updates, but until then, I want to know your thoughts:

1) Good or bad move to get rid of Robert Anae?

2) Who would you like to see take over the play calling for the Cougars?

3) Or more importantly, how do you think BYU will fare next season with the new independent schedule in 2011-2012?

———————

UPDATE: 8:24 P.M.

BYU has issued a statement through football sports information director Brett Pyne regarding reports in The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and elsewhere that coach Bronco Mendenhall met with members of his offensive staff this morning and advised them to pursue other employment opportunities outside BYU.

Here is the statement issued by BYU:

Any reports that BYU football coaches have been released from the staff are inaccurate. BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has begun the evaluation process of the recently completed season. As part of the process, Mendenhall met with offensive coaches and indicated a restructuring of the offensive staff is being evaluated. Mendenhall told the coaches this includes possible changes in assignments and personnel. The review will continue after the holidays and has no specific timetable.

FIFA's Big Blatter

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Uncategorized

Over the past few weeks, England has been torn apart and sharply divided by political unrest. Prime Minister David Cameron’s aggressively conservative budget cuts and attempts to reduce the country’s deficit have led to thousands of students protesting (sometimes violently) throughout the streets of London. However, this past Thursday, the country stopped its political infighting to unite against a common enemy, one more dreadful to the English then even the prospect of tax hikes — Sepp Blatter.

For those of you who don’t know, Sepp Blatter is the president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer and the organization responsible for hosting the world’s premier sporting event, the World Cup. This week, the organization voted on which countries would have the privilege of hosting the 2018 and 2022 cups. England sent a delegation to lobby for the 2018 cup that included Prince William and David Beckham. The Unites States sent a similar delegation to fight for the right to host the 2022 cup, a delegation that included Morgan Freeman and former president Bill Clinton. Both England and the Unites States were the favorites to win their respective bids. Then the news hit Thursday that neither country had been successful — and that Russia had won the 2018 bid and some place called Qatar had won the 2022 bid.

Even before the vote and announcement, allegations of vote fixing began to arise. The politics of how FIFA chooses these event locations is messy at best. FIFA’s 24-man executive committee votes on the proposed sites in a multi-round format. However, allegations of committee members selling their votes caused FIFA to suspend two members of the committee, leaving only 22. During each round of voting, the country with the lowest amount of votes is eliminated until one country holds a majority. Russia won a majority in the first round of voting and was immediately selected. It took 4 rounds for Qatar to win the bid, and it beat out the Unites States in the fourth round of voting 14-8.

Whether or not the vote was fixed is up for debate — and with Vladimir Putin involved anything is possible. What is clear, though, is that there are serious flaws in this election system. FIFA is an organization compromised of over 208 countries, yet only 22 have a voice in selecting the site for the World Cup. Not only is this an unfair system, but it makes it far too easy for vote-fixing to occur, as only a few committee members need to be bought off before a majority is held. Furthermore, Blatter’s personal preference appears to hold too much sway over the committee, as it was common knowledge before the voting that he supported Russia and Qatar’s bid. FIFA needs to review its selection process and work out a system that is fair and less susceptible to fraud.

But the choices have been made and now the world has to deal with them. In some ways, Russia is not an illogical choice to host the cup. England will always love soccer, whether or not it hosts the World Cup. However, Russia hosting the cup will boost the soccer infrastructure in the country by creating new facilities and stadiums. It will help FIFA tap into the country’s vast talent pool and will help establish FIFA as a media entity. Politically, the move shows confidence in the former Soviet Union, and this cup will mark the first time the World Cup will be hosted by an Eastern European country.

However, having the cup in Qatar is, in short, a big mistake. The country has a population of just over 1.6 million people, no soccer stadiums big enough to host a World Cup game, and in late June (the time of year the cup normally starts) boasts an average temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The country does not at the moment have enough hotel space, any public forms of transportation, or an airport big enough to support the huge influx of foreign visitors that will invade the country during the month long tournament.

Furthermore, concerns have arisen as to what the effect of having 400,000 drunken foreign visitors will be to a country that is still a relatively closed-off Islamic nation. Politically, the move may make sense — the entire Arab world (and all of its oil money) was behind the bid to host the cup in Qatar — as it will mark the first time an Arab nation will host a World Cup. In the long term, Blatter is hoping the 2022 cup will open up further opportunities for FIFA in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the Unites States should not have been forgotten in the equation. There are over 300 million people in the Unites States, most of which is still an untapped soccer market. The sport’s popularity is growing by leaps and bounds, MLS attendance and TV ratings continue to rise, and the U.S. national team continues to be successful in trying to establish itself as one of the elite national teams. The country’s premier sports leagues, the NBA and NFL, are both set to go into lockouts and there will be a huge opportunity for soccer to fill the void they leave. By having the Unites States host the cup, FIFA would boost enthusiasm and investment in soccer in America.

FIFA passed on a real opportunity to give the Unites States Soccer Federation the final weapon it needed in its attempt to cement soccer as a premier sport in America. Blatter and his cronies decided to take a huge risk with Qatar, instead of what was a sure return on investment in America. In 2022, the future of international soccer will still be in the United States — unfortunately, the soccer world will be melting in the hot sun of Qatar, still trying to find a hotel room.

Who Got the Best Post-MWC Deal?

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Uncategorized

Just a few days ago, TCU announced they will be leaving the Mountain West Conference for the greener BCS pastures of the Big East. I will be the first to admit my disdain for the Big East and their automatic BCS bid, but I also think this was the best landing spot for the Horned Frogs. I would even say it was the best move made by any of the three teams leaving the MWC.

When it comes right down to it, we know this was all about the money. Going to a BCS conference means BCS money and a BCS television contract. While it’s true that Utah will jump on a similar gravy train in the Pac-12, TCU will only have to split their money between nine other schools, as opposed to the 11 schools Utah will have to share with. BYU will get its own contract with ESPN, but it won’t come close to what TCU will be hauling in every year.

TCU is also going to a significantly weaker conference. Some might say this will put them at a disadvantage, but I beg to differ. If Gary Patterson continues his winning ways, the Horned Frogs should compete for a conference championship every year — and that means going to a BCS game. I could see how the soft schedule would work against them if, for example, Utah and TCU were both to go undefeated in their respective BCS conferences. I could see Utah getting the nod for the national championship game and TCU being shut out. In fact, we saw this happen last year when an undefeated Cincinnati team was shut out from playing in the title game.

To be completely honest, I don’t see Utah going into the Pac-12 and winning a conference championship in their first five years. By that time, TCU could win three or four. They are that good of a football program and they will play in a very winnable conference.

Another huge factor I think people are missing out on is the presence of East Coast bias. People in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania will now be seeing TCU on a regular basis at a viewer-friendly hour. The Pac-10 still struggles to earn the respect of the media back east, because they simply don’t see any of their games. TCU should have no problem getting all kinds of attention in their new position.

While TCU will enjoy a soft football schedule, tons of money and a lot more attention, they will also have to endure lengthy road trips and watch their basketball team get mauled every year in conference play. TCU does have a phenomenal baseball program that will see some better competition, but they will struggle in the rest of the Olympic sports. But like I said, in the end it’s all about the money — and TCU will be making bank.

It’s interesting to think that TCU got the best deal out of the three teams leaving because they made their decision a little later in the game. I guess there’s some truth in that whole “patience is a virtue” thing.

The Obama Administration's Self-Inflicted Political Straitjacket

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I’m alive. Welcome back to the blog. I hope everyone had a nice little break over the Thanksgiving holiday. I know I certainly did.

You know who didn’t have a nice little break over the Thanksgiving holiday? The White House.

It’s been a(nother) bad week for Barack Obama and friends, what with WikiLeaks dumping 250,000 top-secret State Department communiqués that reveal nothing particularly earth-shattering, but some damning backroom espionage by America’s top diplomats nonetheless. This, of course, beget a media firestorm questioning whether the leak has left the president “weak” in both the political and foreign policy realms just as his administration prepares to shift an eye toward reelection efforts.

Oh, and the president took a mean elbow the mouth in a friendly post-Thanksgiving basketball game, resulting in 12 stitches and some unflattering pictures of the commander-in-chief holding a wad of toilet paper to his bloody lip as he made his way out of the gym.

In the words of VH1, Barack Obama is having the best week ever!

And do you know what cures a bad week better than anything else? A poorly strategized, one-sided gesture of “bipartisanship” that undermines your economic agenda, that’s what!

Yesterday, in what seems like a desperate attempt to deflect some media attention away from the WikiLeaks scandal, the White House announced a two-year freeze on salaries for all civilian federal employees. You know, those lazy fat-cats that are living large on government benjamins — or, in other words, getting paid $40,000 a year to perform thankless jobs that are nevertheless essential to several important programs that millions of Americans rely upon every day.

That’s right, public servants. Stop sticking your hand out, the gravy train stops here.

Oh, President Obama. Where to begin?

The pay freeze is, first and foremost, a disappointing political move. These kinds of one-sided gestures are exactly what killed the White House (and, by extension, the Democrats) on both the stimulus package and health care reform.

Let’s recap. In early 2009 when the administration was trying to pass a large-scale stimulus package in hopes of boosting the flailing economy, the president made it very clear that he wanted some Republican support for whatever measure ultimately passed through Congress. How did he do that? By putting forth a bill laden with Republican-favored tax cuts that his economic advisers cautioned would be less effective in stimulating economic growth than other methods. In fact, tax cuts comprised approximately one-third of the $789 billion stimulus package.

Now, it’s all well and good to compromise with Republicans. Indeed, it’s preferable to be agreeable and productive, both politically and policy-wise. But you don’t open negotiations by giving them what they want right off the bat. That’s not how it works. Such a strategy — or lack thereof — doesn’t require them to make concessions (i.e. give up some votes) in order to secure a more desirable policy outcome. It doesn’t give them a political stake in the negotiation process.

Imagine a world where the president comes to the Republicans and says, “We want to do this stimulus package. We’d like to put $789 billion into the economy — 45 percent through infrastructure spending, 45 percent through aid to state and local governments, and 10 percent through tax cuts.” What would the congressional Republicans do? They’d throw a fit. “That’s ridiculous, Mr. President,” they’d say. “Our members won’t vote for something with that much spending and that little tax relief.” And they would be right about that.

This is where negotiation begins.

Perhaps after haggling for awhile, the president could secure some modicum of Republican support in exchange for cutting the bill’s spending and increasing its tax relief efforts. Perhaps he could strike a deal where the package would be structured equally across the board — one-third to tax cuts, one-third to infrastructure spending, and one-third to state aid — but do so in such a way that gives the Republicans some kind of role in the process (and, therefore, some responsibility) and picks up a chunk of votes along the way.

Or he could do what he did — just throw them a bone up front and get nothing in return. What incentive do Republicans have to be cooperative if the White House is just going to give them what they want without demanding any kind of concessions? In that scenario, they are free to sit on the backbench and lob political grenades at the administration, vote against the bill, and still get their desired policy outcome — and that’s exactly what they did.

This is an absolutely crazy thing for the administration to do — but they keep doing it. First the stimulus, then health care reform, and now the pay freeze. The White House continues to give Republicans what they want without getting any substantial concessions in return. Even worse, they know what they’re doing. They know these kinds of tactics are a mistake — as the president has lamented in recent weeks — yet they continue to do it.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results each time, then the White House political team is in dire need of a nice facility with tight white coats and padded walls. I don’t care how badly the press is savaging the administration over the WikiLeaks documents — we’ve been down the road of foolish, one-way “bipartisanship” before, and it doesn’t end pretty for anyone with a ‘D’ next to their name.

When does the madness stop?

Black Friday for College Football (Literally)

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Uncategorized

There is probably nothing I could have asked for more on a Black Friday following turkey day than seeing the #1, #2, and #4 teams in college football play on national television. Unfortunately for me, as the day has recently concluded, I am able to say with 100 percent certainty that this Black Friday, November 26th of the year 2010, will go down as the worst day in my college football history.

Before the day began, we saw a possibility for one of two non-automatic qualifying schools (#3 TCU or #4 Boise St.) to jump either #1 Oregon or #2 Auburn and have a shot at playing for the national title. Oregon found themselves facing a a tough Arizona opponent, but were expected to win the game without much of a problem despite their recent struggles against Cal Berkeley.

Auburn, though, was set to play the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, and many analysts (including myself) predicted Alabama to pull the upset. If this were to have happened, the nation would have been looking at the likely chance that a non-automatic qualifying school like TCU or Boise St. would be given an opportunity to play in the national title game for the first time in the BCS era.

What did we all see instead? An early Christmas present given to the BCS and everything the flawed system stands for.

If I were the BCS commissioner and could have scripted the way each of these three football games ended today so that the system already in place would stay in tact, I probably could not have asked for a better outcome. I would have hoped for an incredible performance from Heisman Trophy candidate Cameron Newton and the Auburn Tigers, and then gotten more than that in a most impressive 24-point come-from-behind victory over Alabama, 28-27.

I would have asked for a dominating performance from the Oregon Ducks and their offense to show any doubters from last week that they are the real deal. They succeeded without any problems by beating Arizona 48-29 and, more importantly, outscoring the Wildcats 34-10 in the second half.

Then, if all else had failed, I would have prayed to God for a miraculous upset from the Nevada Wolf Pack over Boise St. to prove to all the small school and underdog homers out there that they really just aren’t that good. That happened, and in the most sickening way.

This is where the real me enters. I am as big a fan of the small school and underdog team as you can find. I love the idea of a playoff in college football and think that teams like Utah, TCU and Boise St. have proven that, on any given day, they can compete with any team in the country. We were on the brink of something amazing to happen this season in college football, and on this Black Friday, we saw it all come tumbling down.

BCS: 1. Justice and equality in college football: 0.

The worst part for me is that we may never see an opportunity like this again. Is it too much to ask for a small school to have their shot? Or for everyone in the nation to recognize that the current non-playoff BCS system is flawed? Is it too much to ask for either Oregon or Auburn to lose a tough game today and Boise St. to get a big win on the road? We failed on all accounts. In my opinion, we may have lost our only chance at ever seeing a playoff implemented in college football today.

For me at least, I will always remember today as my true Black Friday.

Who Will Dish Out the Hate Speech This Year?

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Uncategorized

As we get closer and closer to game time, there is one question that should most definitely be on our minds. I know for a fact that someone is going to fill the shoes of Max Hall and dish out some hate speech after tomorrow’s game. The only thing we are left to wonder is who it will be. Let’s take a look at the possible candidates.

Bronco Mendenhall

I know most of you think there is no way that Bronco would ever spout off on the U., but you never do know. I know he will never admit it, but every defensive coordinator has a little crazy in them. Just look at other defensive-minded head coaches, namely Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Arizona’s Mike Stoops. Bronco doesn’t seem like he is capable of a complete and utter meltdown like Pelini had last week, but you better believe that he gets fired up. ODDS: Did hell freeze over yet? No? OK then. Not happening. 1,000,000,000,000,000-1

Travis Uale

I have a good feeling about this guy because he used to play for the Utes back in 2005. Well, he didn’t actually play for them, but he did redshirt and practice with the team. I could see him going up to the podium and making a very logical case for his hate because, after all, he was there to experience the school for himself and, therefore, has the credibility to make a reasonable judgment. This would also open the door for Kyle Whittingham to say a few things about BYU, seeing that he spent his playing days here in Provo. ODDS: I bet he has some beef that he wants to get off of his chest. 8-1

O’Neill Chambers

For some reason I have a feeling that our ole pal O’Neill could come out of nowhere and surprise us by saying some hateful words about BYU. He is still here in the state of Utah finishing up his classes, so it could happen. How about this for a hypothetical? Maybe he decides to come up to SLC for the game for fun and Sammy Linebaugh from The Mountain finds him in the stands wearing a Florida Gators hoodie. She figures it would be insightful reporting if she asked him a few questions about his former team and heads into the stands. O’Neill tries a few spin moves to get away from her but, as we all know, the vaunted spin fails him. Frustrated by his attempts to get away, he gets caught up in the moment and unleashes a substantial amount of profanity, which not only gets The Mountain in all kinds of trouble but also makes for the most awkward moment in television history. ODDS: For those of you who are going to the game, you might want to set this one to record on your DVR. This might just happen. 2-1

Jake Heaps

Ever since he has been allowed to speak into a microphone at the BYU press conferences, Heaps has pretty much said all the right things. The way he talks about execution and preparation makes you wonder if Bronco has threatened to take away his dining privileges if he said anything besides those two words. There is a chance, however, that Max Hall personally contacted Heaps and told him that he needed to carry on the tradition of excellence. With this being Jake’s first Holy War, he just might go against Bronco’s wishes and unleash hellfire and damnation from the postgame podium. ODDS: This will actually happen next year after Jake’s parents get drenched with beer during this year’s game. 30-1

Matt Reynolds

I want to say there has never been an offensive lineman that has used hate speech in the Holy War. Defensive linemen have been guilty many times, but not those guys on offense. Pre-season All-American Matt Reynolds just might be the guy to buck the trend. I could see a Utah defensive player questioning his toughness after he gets hurt for the 377th time this season. He would then decide to grow a pair, live up to his All-American billing and then talk some trash after the game. Trust me when I say that the Reynolds brothers are capable of a mean streak. One of them may or may not have accidentally punched me in the face during drills at BYU football camp when I was 13. (I got over it quickly after LaVell Edwards handed me an ice pack and called me son. That was about as close as I came to playing BYU football. Those were the glory days.) ODDS: Pretty sure they don’t let people over 300 lbs speak in the postgame press conference. 300-1

Andrew Rich

I just got done reading a lovely article about how Andrew Rich’s brother is a huge Utah fan. That would make it really tough for Rich to replicate Max’s performance from last year. I can see it now. “I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, I hate their fans, I hate their… wait. I actually don’t hate my brother, who is a big Utah fan. He’s a pretty good guy. I actually don’t mind their coaches either. I played a round of golf with Whittingham during the summer and I took his daughter out on a few dates. I guess I just hate their alumni.” ODDS: This guy is pretty much Bronco Mendenhall reincarnated. There is no way he slings any hate. Unless he actually did date Whittingham’s daughter and it ended badly. 500-1

Matt Marshall

I find it very interesting that one of the more insignificant individuals on the BYU football team happens to be the most arrogant. I actually shouldn’t say that. He came up huge on two fake punts and has done a great job holding extra points. That said, it seems like every single game I see Matt get in someone’s face to talk at little trash. Marshall is also from the SLC area so I’m sure he has plenty of beef with some folks up on the hill. If he does decide to run his mouth, let’s hope tsomeone with a little more substance, like Terrance Brown, will have his back. I’m afraid of what someone might do to the little guy. ODDS: I’m taking this bet to the bank. Well, to Vegas first, then the bank. 2-5

Jordan Pendleton

Correct me if I am wrong, but JP might be the scariest person alive. He has this look in his eye that screams, “I’M SO FREAKING CRAZY! I WILL EAT YOU!” You think I’m kidding, but I’ve seen it. I nearly wet myself. Anyhow, nobody knows if he is going to play in this week’s game, but I’m going to say he will tough it out and suit up. It seems as if BYU coaches have done their best in keeping JP away from the media, but I think after this game a reporter will shove a microphone in his face and he will go crazy and let the hate spew from his mouth. ODDS: He’ll probably eat Matt Asiata’s leg instead. 50-1