What If It’s Not Just About Ferguson

As the smoke clears this morning on the east side of St. Louis, the rest of the nation watches while shaking her head. A grand jury after weeks of investigation has chosen to NOT indict a white cop that shot and killed an 18-year old black man.

What are we to take from this?

More evidence of a community run by white power?
More evidence of a community intimidated by black power?
Is the policeman just another white racist with a badge and gun?
Is the young man just another black thug with an attitude and a chip on his shoulder?
Is this evidence of institutionalized racism?
Is this evidence of a subculture who rejects any kind of authority?

Here’s a thought – what if it is ALL of those things?

I’m disgusted with those who are painting Michael Brown as some kind of modern day Rosa Parks. That somehow, his death is the spark that is going to ignite another civil rights movement. Michael Brown was a thief and a bully. Yes, his death is tragic, senseless and unnecessary. But he stole from a convenience story, walk down the middle of the road like a gangster, told a policeman to “F” off, then physically attacked the policeman.

That’s not Rosa Parks behavior. Nor is it Little Rock 9 or Mississippi 3. His death may very well be a wrongful death but he wasn’t fighting for equality, standing up for the truth, or trying to change the world. He wasn’t even an innocent victim that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was stealing cigars and acting like a punk.

I’m disgusted with the stupidity and arrogance of the Ferguson police department and its district attorney. If the evidence was so clear that the officer acted within justifiable rules of engagement, then bring in outside council and a grand jury and let them affirm that. If there really isn’t anything to hide, what is the danger in recusing yourself from the process?

To have a long list of racial complaints from the community and then to act like none of that matters in this particular case is a special kind of stupidity. And that is best case scenario. What it really speaks of is an institutionalized arrogance and cultural blindness that is fully developed within the Ferguson Police Department and District Attorney’s office.

Here’s what further complicates the issue – the ‘crazy’ cycle. Ferguson explodes with riots and protests, smashing cars, burning buildings, and throwing rocks at reporters. Police (and others) see this as proof to justify excessive force and draconian police work. The community reacts to the excessive force and draconian police work with more riots and violence. Each points to the other as justification for their behavior.

For one side, the lack of an indictment is just more evidence that the system is corrupt. For the other side, the burning of a city is just more evidence that the police are justified in being over-protective and zealous. It’s like watching two 4-year olds argue except the stakes in this fight are human lives.

To those that would use Michael Brown as the poster child for a new civil rights movement, I’d say the same thing – wake up. There are just as many police officers being shot and killed in our cities as there are ‘unarmed black men.’ It doesn’t get the press because that’s the job, they are supposed to put themselves in harm’s way. But it is happening at the same alarming rate as unarmed black men that are being shot. It’s created a situation now where scared, tense police officers with guns are being sent into communities where scared, angry minorities are living.

The police officer in question may very well be racist and part of a larger system that is corrupt and broken. But the biggest reason Michael Brown is dead today is not because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s because he robbed a convenience store, cussed out a police officer, and physically assaulted him.

To those who roll their eyes at the idea of institutionalized racism and can’t understand what all the fuss is about from the community, it may be time to wake up. We’ve made a lot of progress in this country since the ’60’s but we’re not there yet. I remember clearly having a couple of hours of free time on a youth trip and we took our kids to the mall to get some food. We had two African-American volunteers on our team and they were followed all the way around the mall for those two hours by security. None of the rest of use were. I’ve seen two kids walk into a store and the white kid get service while the black kid is ignored. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s not just a “Southern” thing.

It’s an ugly, dark day in Ferguson but hopefully it is also shining a light into other communities so that this never happens again.

CFP Results, November 25

Week 1: 8 for 8 on teams, 8 for 8 on positions
Week 2: 8 for 8 on teams, 6 for 8 on positions
Week 3: 8 for 8 on teams, 4 for 8 on positions

This week: 8 for 8 on teams, 8 for 8 on positions

The Official CFP Rankings
1. Alabama, 10-1
2. Oregon, 10-1
3. Florida State, 11-0
4. Mississippi State, 10-1
5. TCU, 9-1
6. Ohio State, 10-1
7. Baylor, 9-1
8. UCLA, 9-2

No big surprises but it’s possible that this looks completely different next week. This being Rivalry Weekend in College Football, anything can happen. Then of course we will have the conference championship games on the next weekend.

Baylor is a team that could move the most. They have KSU left on schedule and a win over them will give them a boost. And if TCU drops to Texas or Mississippi State loses to Ole Miss, they could even see themselves in the top 4.

CFP Predictions, Week of November 24

There won’t be a lot of movement in the top 3. Slots #8 is another story.

1. Alabama
A little slow start with Western Carolina isn’t the major concern here. The injuries are. Iron Bowl is next.

Remaining games: Auburn

2. Oregon
Civil War game this weekend then Pac-12 Championship. Of the top 3, Oregon’s position looks the most solid.

Remaining games: at Oregon State

3. Florida State
Another week, another game they look horrible and unfocused until the 3rd quarter. Winston continues to amaze – both in good ways and bad.

Remaining games: Florida

4. Mississippi State
TCU, Baylor, and Ohio State are closing the gap. Ole Miss losing this week didn’t help.

Remaining games: at Ole Miss

On Deck: The Next 4

TCU
If the Kansas game didn’t drop them, I’m not sure what will. Baylor winning out?

Remaining games: @Texas, Iowa State

Ohio State
Not a particularly strong showing against Indiana. For them to make CFP, they are going to need major help.

Remaining games: Michigan

Baylor
They have a chance to move up with a win against K-State. They need some help though.

Remaining games: at Texas Tech, Kansas State

With the shutout loss at Arkansas, Ole miss leaves a huge hole here. There are 8 2-loss teams that could argue for the #8 position. This year that means very little but in years to come I believe this will be the last playoff spot.

UCLA
The debate here is between Georgia and Michigan State. UCLA’s win over USC is the difference…for now. They beat Stanford, they get a rematch with Oregon in Pac-12 Championship.

Remaining games: Stanford

Throw your picks in the mix. Love to hear from you.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

After the outstanding The Hunger Games and then the spectacular The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the expectations were high for Mockingjay, Part 1. Could director Francis Lawrence match the visual excellence, the pace, and intensity of Catching Fire? Would Mockingjay push the saga further and deeper like the first two films did?

Well….not exactly.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. It just doesn’t hold its own against the other two.

You can read the rest of the review and join the conversation on The Reviews blog.

Florida’s Next Coach

There is not a lot of marquee games on the docket this weekend. USC/UCLA maybe the biggest one. After weeks of intense college football action, we get a one weekend reprieve before the madness starts again. So let’s talk a bit about Florida’s next coach.

Florida hired the best coordinator available and they went defense with Muschamp. What are the odds they go proven head coach and offense this time?

Yeah, me too.

Just Stop It Already Candidates
These are the candidates that for some reason are going to get mentioned but shouldn’t – for various reasons.

Rich Rodriguez – After the debacle at Michigan, RichRod is in a great place. He’s going to win a lot of games, go to a few bowls, challenge for a championship every now and then without all the crazy pressure of a SEC school.

Dan Mullen – I know Florida wants him. He’d be awesome but can’t see him leaving Mississippi State. What he’s built there is impressive and it’s more than just a good football team. It’s a complete culture change.

Lane Kiffin – There is a part of me that would love to see this happen if only to get him off of the Alabama coaching staff. After seeing what he’s done as a head coach at the Raiders, Tennessee, and USC – it would be awesome to see Florida go even lower than what they already are. Somebody, somewhere, sometime is going to offer Kiffin a head coaching job again against all the evidence to the contrary. Can’t see Florida being that desperate right now.

Mack Brown – Actually heard somebody say that Brown would be a good fit at Florida. Made me wonder if that person had been stuck in a time warp for the last 5 years.

Tim Tebow – It’s going to happen. Mark my words, somebody is going to seriously suggest Tim as a head coach to Florida. He’s a great guy and his legend has only grown since he left the Swamp but Tim as a head coach?

The Usual Suspects

Bob Stoops – Does anybody really see him leaving Oklahoma?

Bobby Petrino – He’d leave in a heartbeat, great offensive mind but comes with baggage and risk.

Hugh Freeze – Florida ties, has a great gig in Ole Miss. Possibility.

Jim McElwain – former Alabama offensive coordinator and current head coach at Colorado State. He’d be a great hire but he’s got a $7.25 million dollar contract buyout clause.

Mike Shannahan – Don’t know if this would be a good hire or not. With all the drama coming out of the Redskins, it sure does paint him in a better light. He wouldn’t have to fake and bake as much.

Assistant Coaches That Could But Won’t Be Hired
The only reason I say this is because of Muschamp. I imagine Florida is going to be a bit hesitant to hire another assistant. I could be wrong though.

Kirby Smart – Defensive coordinator at Alabama. I hope he never gets hired anywhere else. He’s brilliant. I hope Alabama has some clause in his contract that makes him the next head coach after Saban. Have no idea how he will do as a head coach. Don’t want to find out either.

Dave Wommack – Defensive Coordinator, Ole Miss. What he has built at Ole Miss is impressive. Does he fit the profile of Florida? Not an offensive guy, not a young guy.

Chad Morris – Offensive Coordinator, Clemson. What Morris has done with Dabo Sweeney is pretty impressive. He consistently has an offense that puts up points no matter what the talent level is. Imagine what he could do with Florida?

Put your thoughts in the comments. (I’m looking at you, Chris! ha ha)

The NFL and the NFLPA Are Completely Lost

This week Adrian Peterson got suspended for the rest of the season without pay for his child abuse case in Texas. Peterson pleaded no contest to reduced charges over the discipline of his 4-year-old son, who suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, his back and on his genitalia.

Immediate reaction from DeMaurice Smith, president of the NFLPA and Adrian Peterson’s lawyer was outraged that the NFL had overstepped their boundaries. According to Peterson’s lawyer, the NFL was now trying to determine how NFL players should parent. Smith was more concerned about due process for Peterson and the NFL was now making up the behavior policy as it goes along.

In reaction to this, NFL representatives quickly issued press releases and did radio interviews defending their position under the collectively bargain Player Conduct Policy. The NFL point to Adrian Peterson not completing ANY counseling during his time off, his continued insistence that he’s done nothing wrong in his texts and other public forms of communication, and his refusal to meet with the NFL last week to talk about this very suspension.

I am by no means a Roger Goodell fan and have said in the past how I think it would be wise for all parties involved if the disciplinary process was changed to completely remove him from the process. Yes, this suspension smells of “we are not going to make the same mistake we made with Ray Rice” damage control. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right thing to do.

Seemingly getting lost in the media spin being put out by both sides is this indicting quote from Roger Goodell to Adrian Peterson:

You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.

Combine this with Peterson’s rejection of counseling and a sit-down meeting with Roger Goodell, the NFL was painted into a corner with no other option other than the suspension. For the NFL, it’s simple. If this happens again with Peterson, the public won’t decry the court system or Peterson. The public will come after the NFL.

The outcry against Ray Rice was not directed at the court system, the district attorney, or even Ray Rice himself. It was squarely at the NFL. Fair or not, right or not, the NFL now finds itself as more than just entertainment but also as the moral police for its players. It’s a role that it may not have wanted but it has been put there by the fans, the media, and to some extent by the players themselves who continue to break the law and have the money to buy their way out of it through the work of their high-powered attorneys.

The NFL fails to understand how poisoned Roger Goodell is. He is not ever getting the benefit of the doubt from the players or the public. Even when he gets it right (as he did in this instance), it gets lost in the media scrum afterward.

What the NFLPA fails to understand is that the world is different now. Just because a player can afford an attorney to work the justice system, that doesn’t buy them a free pass with the public particularly in cases involving domestic abuse. The opportunity to play in the NFL is not a right, it’s at the pleasure of the fans. They foot the bill and the public has been clear – ‘no more.’

The NFLPA claims all of this is just a public relations ploy by the NFL due to the Ray Rice case. Does that even matter? The NFLPA and Peterson’s lawyers can cry due process and public relations fiasco all they want. They can point to a plea bargain in Texas and scream that’s enough punishment.

All the press conferences and soundbites will never change the images of that 4 year-old boy’s bruises and lashes. Anyone who has seen the pictures knows better. That was abuse. The courts got it wrong. This isn’t an invasion of privacy. This is delivering on a promise – ‘no more.’

Critique the process all you want but the NFL got this one right.

CFP Aftermath, Week 3

Week 1: I was 8 for 8 for teams, 8 for 8 for their positions.
Week 2: 8 for 8 for teams, 6 for 8 positions
Week 3: 8 for 8 on teams, 4 for 8 on positions – (GE’s rankings in parentheses)

CFP Rankings, Nov. 18
1. Alabama, 9-1 (2)
2. Oregon, 9-1 (1)
3. Florida State, 10-0 (3)
4. Mississippi State, 9-1 (4)
5. TCU, 9-1 (7)
6. Ohio State, 9-1 (6)
7. Baylor, 8-1 (5)
8. Ole Miss, 8-2 (8)

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!!
I don’t think there are any surprises in the top 4 teams. Those 4 are consistent across every poll. It’s the bottom four that is a bit mystifying.

The real surprise for me is TCU/Baylor arrangement. What this shows us is that the committee values strength of schedule over head-to-head action. TCU’s win over Minnesota is the only glaring difference between them and Baylor at this point. Baylor doesn’t have an out-of-conference win of note.

It’s tempting to blast the CFP Committee for this decision – looking at strength of schedule vs. solely head-to-head. But it wasn’t that long ago the entire college football nation was blasting teams cruising to 10-0, 11-0 records, staying healthy because they weren’t playing tough competition, and having only to win one big game. (Boise St., BYU, and Utah – I’m looking at you. Although to be fair, once Utah joined the Pac-12 this changed for them.) This also explains why FSU continues to get little love from the Committee.

SEC Bias?
Here’s the argument – SEC schools start the season rated higher therefore the early season wins count more than they should and the losses hurt less than they should. Case in point – MSU. They beat LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn early in the season when they were highly ranked. Turns out all three are going to be out of the top 25. The MSU shine takes a hit but not enough to knock them out of the top 4.

There may be some truth to this but the counter-argument is equally persuasive. LSU – a 3 loss team – handled Wisconsin easily this year. Auburn went TO Kansas State and won a close one. Two teams that are currently out of the top 25 but won convincingly against two top 25 schools.