Monday, November 24, 2008

BILLt to Last

On Nov. 30, 1988, the Kansas State Wildcats hired a 49-year-old offensive coordinator from Iowa named Bill Snyder to fill their football head coaching vacancy. Over the next 17 seasons, Snyder's Wildcats became what many deemed impossible. Namely, a national power on the gridiron and a championship football team.

On Nov. 24, 2008, those same Wildcats hired a 69-year-old coaching legend named Bill Snyder to fill the very coaching position that manned just three years prior. Guessing what Snyder's coaching future holds this time around is certainly no easy task, however that certainly isn't keeping many people from trying. 

Popular opinion from several who like to make their voices heard (literally) on sports radio and (not literally) on fan message boards seems to be that putting Snyder's name on the head coaching contract means the administration is waving a white flag (again, not literally... such actions are somewhat useless in football). Their reasons are simple: Snyder is nearly 70 years old, an age when most are not looking for new employment; he's been out of the game for three years and won't be able to relate to "today's players"; Snyder's Wildcats were not successful in his final two seasons as head coach, combining for just nine wins; and there were younger candidates who would be better for the future of the program.

These arguments have varying degrees of merit (yes, I'm counting negative merit as a degree of merit), and those disappointed with Snyder hire v2.0 certainly have the right to their opinion... But that doesn't mean I agree.

Call it hokey optimism. Call it drinking the Snyder Kool-Aid*. Call it living in 1998. You can call it whatever you like (even sensible, or genius... in fact, I'd prefer that), the fact remains that I cannot be disappointed with any move that brings Snyder closer the football program he built.

*Would I buy a glass of Kool-Aid if Snyder were selling it on a streetside Kool-Aid stand for 25-cents a cup? Of course. Thus, one could say I'm buying what Snyder is selling... if only he'd actually sell Kool-Aid.   

This is old news, but it's still relevant: pre-Snyder, any time the word football was associated with Kansas State on a national level, a words like futility, horrendous, or putrid were bound to be nearby. Snyder made them contenders for the national championship. Had Snyder not turned the program around, the "Decade of Dominance" out at Wagner Field, may have ended up being a decade of cattle grazing, as the football program was bad enough that folding would have been a legitmate option and the stadium sits near some fine pasture area.

The point is that Snyder is the reason K-State football became a product fans could get excited about. I'm not going to discount his chances at bringing some excitement back. Anyone who attended the final three homes games of the 2008 season could see the empty seats in Bill Snyder Family Stadium*. Did these empty seats play a role in Snyder's hiring?** After all, the athletic department has seen first hand what bringing in nationally-renowned coach can do for attendance (see: Huggins, Bob, and the K-State men's basketball team).***

*Has a football coach coached in a stadium bearing his own name before? Inquiring minds want to know.

**Rhetorical question.

***Rhetorical followup.

Along with excitement, Snyder's return from retirement brings another thing the program is in need of: hope. Yes, that's back on the hokey side of the fence, but any time a team's stadium is only half full for the season finale, it seems like it might be the right time for a hope booster. Those sick of the hokey arguments simply need to remember the guy's resume. He's been named National Coach of the Year and Big 8/12 Conference Coach of the Year, he's been inducted into the sports hall of fame in two states, and he has six bowl victories. I'll give that a second chance.

I have dabbled as a journalist in the past (although an admittedly lousy one), but it's a move like this that makes me remember that I'm definitely a fan first. Prior to the news of Snyder's hiring leaking, I was trying to view this entire coaching search objectively. I examined the positive and negatives of possible candidates and was trying to keep an open mind to the slew of available options. Now that I know Snyder will be once again walking the sidelines, it's been a barrage of one nostalgic thought after another. Will he bring back the pregame Van Halen? Does he still sport the Nike Cortez shoes? Will "young people" and "by and large" once again be staples of his press conference lingo?

It's a move like this that has me scrambling to YouTube so I can check out videos like this or this, reminding me of the days when there was a confident feeling surrounding every game. There was a swagger, and it was one that could be backed up.

The journalist side of me asks the question, "Does it really seem feasible that a man pushing 70 can get the program back to the point where it competes for championships?"

The fan side of me responds by saying, "Why don't you shut up and go proofread something!"

It may not seem like a great comeback to some, but my mind is pretty sold on who won the argument.

Is a dose of Coach Snyder the prescription K-State football needs to return to national prominence? Or will the second Snyder era be one that ends in disappointment and another coaching search where an answer is sought? Only time will tell...

For me, there's only one way to pass the time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Thanks, Little Thanks, and All Inbetween

Unless my calendar has taken up lying to me as a hobby, it seems that Thanksgiving is next week. What does this mean? It means that children will be using hand tracings to make paper turkeys. It means that millions around the country will eat so much food they barely have the energy to blink. It means that, despite the grave economic conditions, people around the nation will flood retail stores on Black Friday* to get door-busting deals on half-price toaster ovens.

*I won't argue with the fact that it's a good day for shopping, but does it have to come packaged with a name that makes me feel like plague-infested rats will be flooding across the K-Mart tile floors.

Unfortunately, what this also means is that the month of November has gotten by me with nary an update here at The Writings. I could make excuses for this lack of updating, but anything feasible would not be very entertaining. If, on the other hand, I were to say that a pack of wild dingos stole my laptop and infected it with a virus, that would be a better fit for the general feel of this blog, although not exactly feasible. If I then followed by saying that the dingos attacked me and chewed off my fingers (which I find quite necessary when typing) when I tracked them down in their secret billabongside lair and attempted to put an end to their laptop abduction, it seems I would have quite the alibi. Alas,
such is most certainly false, and I can make a hand-tracing turkey to prove it.

Anyway, the focus of this should not be my struggles to pass along the useless items in my mind during the eleventh month of 2008. The focus is embracing the spirit of the upcoming holiday and giving thanks. (Cue uplifting music...) Sure, it's easy to point out things that are not great in life or the things you don't have each and every day, but never forget to be thankful for what you do have.

This past year has certainly not been lacking in new areas necessitating thanks for this writer. New additions to the family and new work opportunities certainly help a person realize how fortunate they are. Combine that with one's health, along with the health and well-being of family and friends, and the idea of getting down over trivial matters seems an awful lot like any arguments that curling is a sport - rather asinine. 

Along with those personal items in the previous paragraph, I'm thankful for the opportunity to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, and the K-State Wildcats. Sure, I may spend a fair amount of time complaining about coaching positions or roster transactions, but it's all in unwavering support of the teams. The frustration of being a nonbandwagoneer is well worth it when those satisfying moments do come your way.

On a Royals note, I'm thankful that general manager Dayton Moore realizes that obtaining a talented position player for a talent relief pitcher is often a pretty good move.

I'm thankful that I've never been in a steel cage match with George "The Animal" Steele.

I'm thankful that my refrigerator is not home to some sort of demon-possessed netherworld.

I'm thankful for the fact that some TV executives really don't seem to have any idea what might be even remotely entertaining. After all, bad television can lead to pretty fun writing.

I'm thankful that I was able to pick Kurt Warner up on the waiver wire in one of my fantasy football leagues.

I'm thankful that people (hopefully) don't let the fact that I'm in multiple fantasy football leagues count against me.

I'm thankful that this winter provides a new opportunity for me to stay
a step ahead of my sworn nemesis. (I'm on to your slippery tricks, Ice!)

I'm thankful that those I communicate with via text message and/or instant messenger are mostly in agreement with my opinions on "terms" like "LOL" and "OMG."

I'm thankful that 99-percent of the time, my local Burger King does have "hamburger meat" available.

I'm thankful that Ben Folds released a new CD. It did not leave the comfy home of my car CD player for a solid month-and-a-half after the purchase date, making my motor maneuvering much safer for myself and fellow motorists.

I'm thankful that my apartment has never been infested with mice, rats, hornets, snakes, wombats, wildebeests or velociraptors. Granted, I can't say this has ever been a big worry, but I'm still thankful.

I'm thankful that my car has not turned out to be a robot from another planted that is hell-bent on wreaking havoc on Earth. (That could make sitting at stoplights a bit awkward.)

I'm thankful for entirely too many things to list in the pages of a blog.

Finally, I'm thankful for you (yes you) the reader. Granted, when writing I'm often aiming to keep myself entertained, but knowing at least one other person is reading (and at least occasionally appreciating) my oft-pointless meanderings certainly helps in maintaining motivation.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm currently stumped by quite a riddle... "What does one write about when he has nothing to say?"

Granted, anyone who is even a casual reader of The Writings is probably convinced that I never really have anything to say (rambling posts about Google searches for his own name seem to support this argument), but this time I'm really stumped.

Such inability to think of anything even remotely worthwhile to put in print is often referred to as "writer's block." Unfortunately, it seems my mind is having such a difficult time conjuring any sort of prose that I'm having a hard time even finishing this... uhh... you know... hmmm... sentence.

This is certainly not the first time that I have found it difficult to come up with an idea for a Writing, but such afflictions are normally assuaged by a simply getting caught in the webbing of the World Wide Net. Alas, it has provided no luck this time, as I can't even piece together commonly known terms. (it's Earthly Wide Web, right?)

Sure, I could write about some pirates seizing an oil tanker, and joke that Captain Hook's cousin, Captain Hinge, must have been getting tired of his squeaky elbow. I even could have added an arbitrary pirate-speak joke (sorry, I meant ARRRRRbitrary), but the whole pirate thing seems to be a bit overplayed lately. (I blame the Goonies.)

If searching online doesn't do the trick, a journey through my cable lineup always seems to provide inspiration. Alas, one can only write that The Hills provides as much entertainment as cleaning one's ears with a powerdrill so many times before the words begin to lose their meaning. (Nevertheless, it's still a true statement.)

Right now, you may be saying to yourself, "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Self*, wait a second, doesn't this guy** like sports? Why doesn't he just throw some thing together about that?"

*If you're a self-respecting individual.

**If you aren't very good with names.

Sports are always there, and seem to be a subject I can always fall back on... yet, I feel there's really nothing new I can add to the conversation at this point. My favorite college football team has a lame duck coach and the search to replace him seems to be surrounded with more mystery than the motivation behind the creation of the movie White Chicks.

My favorite college basketball team has looked stupendous for two of the four halves it has played so far in the regular season, but the other two halves have been filled with an attitude best summed up by one (now official) word - meh. Thus, it's too early for me to create any sort of team assessment. (Although, I must reiterate, they have looked marvelous for two halves.)

My favorite NFL team has precisely one more win this season than the Kenosha Maroons - a team that has been defunct for 84 years. Sure, they've had some entertaining losses, and they are finally getting play from the quarterback spot that doesn't seem directionally challenged ("Which way are we supposed to go again?"), but it seems a little early to begin debating who they might take with their first round draft pick. (Cue gasping in horror from every "NFL Draft expert" who has been babbling about the the potential No. 1 picks in 2009 for three years.)

In the world of baseball, might favorite team is in the midst of an offseason where they have several holes to fill. In a perfect world, they would be able to fill all those holes this offseason. Alas, in a perfect world, I would have seen the aforementioned team in the postseason sometime in the last 23 years.

In a perfect world, my laptop would not require an extra fan to keep from losing all functionality out like a frightened goat.

In a perfect world, some dude that calls himself "Mystery" wouldn't have a TV show where he teaches guys that have apparently never talked to members of the opposite sex before sleazy ways to become a "pickup artist." I have to think that if I were to even consider putting any of his "methods" in practice, I'd begin punching myself in the nose repeatedly before I ever got a word out.

... Actually, that show may have Writing potential...

Nevertheless, writer's block can rear it's ugly head*** at any time. Never be afraid to pass along... uhh... you know, those things... the ones that come from your mind... ideas.

***The author of this Writing realizes it is unfair to deem the head of writer's block as ugly when writer's block is not actually tangible, and therefore possesses no head. It is with sincere apology that he writes this note, and he hopes things don't get awkward between he and writer's block.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Albert Einstein once said, "If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."*

*See that? An Einstein quote... We're all about education here at The Writings.

Einstein may have developed the theory of relativity, but I'm not sold on his theory about ideas. After all, if Animaniacs has taught us anything (aside from the fact that lab mice enjoy attempting to take over the world), it's that a lot of pretty absurd ideas turn out to be pretty horrible ideas.

I'd like to think that, if ideas were sumo wrestlers, my good ideas would outweigh all the bad ideas I've conjured. Unfortunately, I get the overriding feeling that, if the good ideas and bad ideas were opposing football teams, the bad idea squad (sounds like a nickname for the Raiders) would have subbed in its scrubs to show some mercy long ago.

Alas, we're not here to dissect my faults in thinking (this is a blog, not a dissertation), but those of others. Consider the following...

- Do not pass 'Go'
Never once, during any of the games of Monopoly I have ever been a part of, did I think, "Wow, another community chest card. I'd love to see this excitement on the big screen." Buying property, building houses and hotel, purchasing utilities, it's all great fun when you're driving that little metal car across Baltic Avenue, but I'm struggling with this idea that such can make an entertaining script. Granted, a movie where a little dog buys a railroad may have some potential (Lassie meets Thomas the Tank Engine), it seems that there are other board games that are more deserving to move to the big screen.

Tell me you wouldn't be interested in a Hungry, Hungry Hippos film...

- I'd hate to see what the sand trap is used for...
So golf is often referred to as a gentleman's game, right? Yet, here we are now with golf clubs acting as urinals. The invention may come off sounding pretty slick (figuratively... hopefully) in the article, but it certainly does not address my main concern. What happens when the fake club is inevitably mistaken for a real one and it strikes the golf ball? My guess is that the golf towel will be a necessity... As might a new crew of golfing buddies.

So how does one look when using the UroClub? "It looks like you're practicing your swing or something," according to the inventor. My guess is that the "or something" portion of that sentence is pretty accurate.

- One of the few foods that can clog your arteries just by reading about it
I'll admit, I'm a little curious. It sounds like a dish that would be fun to try.

I just want to know if you're expected to pay the waitress before or after your trip to the emergency room.

Monday, November 10, 2008

People in your Neighborhood - The two random folks edition

What happens when one particular location doesn't provide enough material for a Writing examining the ins and outs of those you encounter everyday? You improvise.

Don't get confused, I'm not going to ask member's of the audience to name an occupation and a location (partially because I have no audience and partially because it's rather difficult to have live interaction with web readers while writing). Instead, I'm just going to cheat the system a bit, and not focus on one particular location for this edition of People in Your Neighborhood. (Then again, it's my system, so I can determine whether or not I'm cheating... If you're editing text while reading this (keep your red pen handy), feel free to mark out the previous, non-parenthetical sentence.)

The guy at the grocery store who is a little too excited about a certain item in the frozen food aisle
If I had to venture a guess, I would say I purchase more food of the frozen dinner variety than most individuals. As someone who may occasionally struggle with motivation once he's planted on his couch in the evening (once in couch mode, devoting the effort to putting out a fire might depend on how content I was with the room's temperature), the frozen meals provide pretty simple forms of sustenance. If I was eating dinners with less prep time, I'd eating Playdough straight from the can. 

I may eat more frozen meals than most arctic foxes, but I try to keep a level head about them. Sure, some are decently tasty and satisfying, but I'm not going to go boasting about the food to anyone in particular... This guy was different. While I checked out the chilled culinary items, he regaled his shopping companion with tales of a frozen chicken pot pie. If one were to take his word for it, this guy apparently found the Holy Grail of chicken stew contained in a pie crust. No, he never went as far as saying the pot pie could give the gift of eternal life, but he did refer to the dish as "addictively delicious" in a tone normally used by eight-year-olds talking about their new bikes.

Perhaps I misconstrued his enthusiasm, and it was actually a cry for help. After all, addiction is never a good thing, even when the subject of said addiction is fowl in a crust.

The guy with inappropriately sheathed feet
I once wrote of how I disapprove of the idea of wearing flip flops with long pants. Two years later, I have not flip-flopped (clever, I know) on this issue. Alas, the aforementioned Writing was written in effort to sway the continued progression of a fall-weather fashion. My protest has proven unsuccessful, but I always assumed that people would be smart enough to not even consider such fashions upon the arrival of brisk winter breezes.

As is often the case, I was wrong.

With temperatures floating in the 30s the last few days, I have witnessed a couple different portrayals of Mr. Coldtoes. The motivation for adorning flip-flops in such weather has proven to be a subject my mind cannot comprehend. When outside for extended periods of time in the winter, there's little I despise more than the rapid chilling of extremities. Having my toes cool to the point of physical pain is certainly not something I'd volunteer for, yet it seems Mr. Chillyfoot is signing up for such duty every time he slides those sandals on.

Honestly, if the weather gets much cooler, Jonny Birkenstock is flirting with frostbite. At that point, wearing flip flops in the cold weather is somewhat akin to going scuba diving in a suit washed in a bucket of chum.

Then again, I guess Eddie Toecicles may just be preparing to play the abominable snowman in the live stage production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (casting, production, and creation pending).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

While you were out...

A new theme seems to be that whenever I travel, big news happens back home.

In July, I went north of the border, up Canada way. While I was busy being utterly confused by the French language and trying to convert things to the metric system, my niece (a.k.a. the infant who has her uncle wrapped around her littlest finger) introduced herself to the world.

Since that time, I have enjoyed being a homebody, hanging in the heartland. Alas, duty called this week, and I currently find myself outside the state border.

Naturally, the K-State football team (a.k.a, the source of much pride, satisfaction, discouragement, and now embarrassment) made news today with the announcement of the (eventual) dismissal of head coach Ron Prince.

Some might argue that Prince was not given enough time to find success as head coach. After all, he's in just his third season at the helm, and coaches like Missouri's Gary Pinkel and KU's Mark Mangino were both struggling to find success in their third years. Now, both programs (unfortunately) find themselves competing for Big 12 North championships.

While such may be true, it can be argued that both aforementioned coaches at least had their squads showing improvements in key areas by their third seasons. On the other hand, Prince's Wildcats seem to have peaked in his rookie campaign. Back in 2006, the Wildcats found themselves in the post-season with a true freshman quarterback and speedy defense seemingly fueled by the energy of then-coordinator Raheem Morris.

Now, the Wildcats would be beating all odds to become bowl eligible. They feature a wildly inconsistent offense and a defense that may be fast, but tackles like weak cornerbacks on Tecmo Super Bowl going up against the Nigerian Nightmare. Granted, the passing game can be spectacular at times, but it's still not enough to compensate for the lack of a defense.

The question now is, who will be the next coach walking the Bill Snyder Family Stadium sidelines. Rumors are rampant, and even include the namesake of the stadium himself (a.k.a, the messiah of football in the Little Apple) coming out of retirement. Seems unlikely in most scenarios, but I guess it would make more sense than digging up the corpse of Vince Lombardi or awarding the job to the winner of an NCAA Football 09 tournament on X-Box 360.

I am taking such rumors with a mammoth-sized grain of salt, however I would not be surprised if the new coach came from the Snyder coaching tree. There are several names out there that would be intriguing possibilities, and I'm confident the athletic department will make a quality hire. (I'll even go as far as guaranteeing that they don't hire a blind hobo who combs his beard with a plastic spork.*)

*No, I don't think anyone has ever hired a blind hobo that combs his (or her, this blog is about equal opportunity) beard with a plastic spork for a Division I head football coaching position, but I figured the reiteration might be reassuring.

I would like to take the opportunity to toss my hat in the ring for the position, but I'm not really sure what that phrase really means. After all, I own several hats and I have never been tempted to toss them into any sort ring, be they circus rings, boxing rings, or burning rings of fire.

Oh well, my resume is pretty thin in the football coaching department anyway. I'm not sure yelling at the television when the weak-side contain gets sucked in on an end-around counts as "prior coaching experience," and my play-calling has been limited to the offerings available on my video game system of choice. (Watch out for the flea-flicker).

The really interesting thought in my head is what Prince's exit might be like following K-State's final home game. How will the crowd react? Boos? Polite cheers? By singing "Happy Trails?"

How will Prince respond? Humble acceptance? By swearing revenge? Maybe even something like this?

That would make for an interesting press conference, anyway.