Monday, November 29, 2010

Catching up after a holiday weekend

- According to the Wall Street Journal, Black Friday was a success with retail and website traffic up 8.7% versus last year. The average shopper spent $365.34, up 6.4% over 2009 data.

- Also according to the Journal, hot items this holiday season are gadgets like the iPad, smartphones, and gaming systems.

- Folks, the fact that we don't have a national championship playoff in college football is what's causing conference realignment to continue. Today, TCU announced that it would join the Big East Conference. Now, I'm no geography wizard but I know that Fort Worth is a very long way from Syracuse, N.Y. The Horned Frogs are making the move largely to join a BCS conference in football, meaning they don't have to sweat out BCS bowl consideration as they have the past three seasons. It's the same reason that joining the Pac 12 was so appealing to Utah. If we had a fair national playoff system, then the dependency on belonging to a BCS conference would not be so acute.

- The Samsung Tab is a very nice device and a good alternative to the iPad. The ergonomics of the Tab are much different--a bit fatter and small enough to hold in one hand. Obviously, the screen is smaller than the iPad but the Tab does run Flash.

- More on TCU...the Horned Frogs' travel in basketball will likely not be as bad as football. The Big East currently has a 16-team basketball league and could split into geographic divisions to accommodate easier travel. If Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State had joined the Big East, which likely would have happened had Texas gone to the Pac 10, then those four would have been paired with schools like Marquette, Notre Dame, DePaul, Louisville and Cincinnati.

- R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen.

- Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit, has written another terrific read. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption is the story of Louie Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent who became an Olympic runner and, ultimately, an Army hero. One of Zamperini's idols, once he discovered running, was former University of Kansas miler Glenn Cunningham.

- Kanye West appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. But, the crowd at the parade was anything but friendly to the controversial rapper. In a video appearing on YouTube, the crowd around West's float was unruly and can be heard yelling epithets.

- We can only hope they'll do this when they return to the States for their tour: U2 had opening act Jay Z join them on stage for "Sunday Bloody Sunday" during their recent concert dates in New Zealand and Australia.

Which retailers won on Black Friday?

We don't yet know the retail traffic and sales numbers from Black Friday but it appears that Target may have had a good day.

If we use Foursquare, the location-based check-in tool, as our guide, then the most mentioned retail location was Target. Now, keep in mind that only a tiny percentage of the populace uses a location app like Foursquare, and that those early adopters are more likely to be shopping online than in brick-and-mortar retail locations. Yet, it is an indicator of which retail brands may have done well this past Friday.

Target captured almost 25% of all Black Friday check-ins, likely indicating the success of its holiday promotional advertising as well as that of its stepped-up social marketing activity. Target has been much more aggressive in the social media space, and has even purchased the hashtag #BlackFriday on Twitter.

How did other brands fare? Here's the list:

Target - 24.2%
Walmart - 17.1%
Best Buy - 14.3
Toys 'R' Us - 12.2%
Apple - 7.2%
Kohl's - 6.8%
Macy's - 6.4%
Old Navy - 4.9%
The others mentioned were Home Depot and Costco.

It's interesting to note Target's success in light of its change in advertising strategy. The retailer moved to a harder hitting, promotional form of work versus the past campaigns which have focused more on the various brands featured at Target.

We'll compare back against these numbers once "real" Black Friday data becomes available.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday morning sports coffee (or "the day after the Border War")

- The Border War needs to return to the respective campuses of the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas. (The current deal is in place for two more years.) Yesterday's game only drew about 56,000 fans, the smallest crowd of the four KU-MU games played in Arrowhead since 2007. And, contrary to the suggestions made by Sam Mellinger in today's Kansas City Star, a campus location not only preserves this game for the students and the two college communities, it also provides a built-in level of interest even when one or the other program is down.

- By the way, give Mellinger credit for trying to figure out how to make this game work in K.C. But, his suggestions aren't well-considered--hoteliers aren't going to provide discounts on the biggest travel period of the year and retailers already have Black Friday/holiday weekend traffic. As for booking KU and MU basketball games in Sprint Center, that then inhibits the teams from traveling to Las Vegas, Maui and other holiday destinations for tournaments, which are alluring to recruits.

- Quote of the college football weekend: Rich Rodriguez, after losing--again--to Ohio State, said, "I'm ticked. What do you want me to do? Hold hands with all the Buckeye fans and sing 'Kumbaya?'"

- The off-season coaching carousel got off to an early start yesterday with the firing of Miami's Randy Shannon. That means that the Colorado job and the Miami job are open, and one has to wonder about Rodriguez's future at Michigan.

- It looks like TCU is headed to the Rose Bowl. It's too bad that Wisconsin will likely be the Big Ten representative there as it would have been very interesting to see TCU play Ohio State, given OSU president Gordon Gee's comments about the Horned Frogs and Boise State this past week. Gee doesn't feel that these two schools deserve to be in BCS national title consideration, given the schools they play on their schedules. You mean, teams like that powder puff Michigan team you rolled over yesterday?

- How big is that last second, come-from-behind win by Oklahoma State over Texas A&M which occurred back on September 30? Those two teams, plus Oklahoma, are tied in the Big 12 South and the BCS standings will now decide which of the three will play Nebraska next weekend for the conference title? OSU needed a win over OU last night to clinch the South but fell for an eighth straight time to the Sooners.

- Let's give a shout-out to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Harbaugh has developed a powerhouse in Palo Alto and the program hasn't received the national recognition it deserves. The Cardinal have only lost to Oregon this season and are the best one loss team in the country right now.

- Kansas coach Turner Gill lost to both Kansas State and Missouri this season by a combined score of 94-14. That's not a prescription for energizing a fan base or appealing to local recruits.

- Speaking of recruits, juco QB Zack Stoudt, if he signs with KU, would be an instant starter when he sets foot on campus for the second semester. The Jayhawks' personnel deficiencies go well beyond the quarterback position, but it's obvious that Jordan Webb and Quinn Meacham are not the answer. Any incoming QB will look at the offensive line to see if he can survive a full Big 12 season and, in Kansas' case, Gill and staff have placed a premium on recruiting that position. In addition, KU will get former starter Jeff Spikes back after he sat out this season due to injury.

Friday, November 26, 2010

College football predictions - week thirteen

It's the day after Thanksgiving and, in college football, a day with key matchups which will dramatically impact the post-season bowl and BCS scene. Let's break it down...

Games today:

Pitt over West Virginia. It's the Backyard Brawl and, guess what, these two schools don't like each other very much. (Keep that thought in mind--it'll be a common theme for the match-ups we analyze in this post.) Pitt's in first place in the Big East at 4-1 with West Virginia still in contention at 3-2. Home field advantage will win it by a field goal for Pitt.

Alabama over Auburn. Is this the week that Auburn's hopes of a national title come to an end? I think so. Each week the pressure has ratcheted up on the Tigers and each week they've handled it. Not this time--Bama finds a way to keep Cam Newton in check.

Nebraska over Colorado. Remember when Colorado coach Bill McCartney proclaimed that NU would be Colorado's key rival? This is the last time these two teams will meet as members of the Big 12 Conference and there are sub-plots aplenty. Will Taylor Martinez play? Will the Pellini brothers speak politely to referees and players? Will Colorado continue its win streak under Brian Cabral? Can CU help out fellow black-and-gold school, Missouri, by beating the Huskers, thus all but giving MU the Big 12 North title? Nebraska will rally together and win, at home, by 13.

Oregon over Arizona. The Ducks continue their march to the BCS national championship game.

Boise State over Nevada. If Boise needed any additional incentive, they received it this week when Ohio State president Gordon Gee said they and TCU weren't worthy of a BCS berth.

Games tomorrow:

Missouri over Kansas. On paper, there is no way that Kansas can win this game. Sure, this is the "Border War." Sure, KU has won games in this series when they were the underdog. Sure, the Jayhawks are 8-7 in this series in games where MU has been ranked. This is a Kansas squad, though, that still has an unsettled situation at quarterback and, as of last week, was still tinkering with personnel in its defensive backfield. There are simply too many "musts" for Kansas to have a chance in this one. KU may show continued progress by keeping the spread to a couple of touchdowns but, ultimately, they'll lose the war. My prediction: MU-28, KU-13.

Kansas State over North Texas. Does anyone care? Okay, that's being harsh but weird quirks of scheduling like this are an odd way to end a season. KSU will be looking ahead to their bowl destination, thus making this a sloppy win for the Wildcats.

Arkansas over LSU. The second-best matchup of the weekend in the SEC pairs Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett against LSU's studly secondary. An Arkansas win could still keep them in contention for a Sugar Bowl spot.

Ohio State over Michigan. Remember the earlier comment about schools who don't like each other? That sentiment holds true in this, one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports. But, these are programs heading in different directions--OSU is 10-1 and tied for the Big Ten conference lead; Michigan will go bowling at 7-4 but has a coach on the hot seat given his 15-20 record thus far as head of the Wolverines. It may be trendy to pick Michigan as the upset special of the weekend, but Rich Rodriguez will lose--again--to OSU, making him 0-3 against the Buckeyes and thus giving the Blue faithful another nail for Rodriguez's coaching coffin.

Texas Tech over Houston. The final score in this one will look more like a Cougar-Red Raider basketball game.

Oklahoma State over Oklahoma. Rivals? Check. Don't like each other? Check. Rivalry big enough to warrant a name? Check--the Bedlam Series. This game will feature too much Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon, with a little Kendall Hunter mixed in for good measure. The Cowboys advance to the Big 12 title game.

Season predictions to date: 94-35 (73%)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Border War

On Saturday, Kansas and Missouri will do battle in college football for the 119th time. And, as they say about English futbol, this game isn't about life or death--it's much bigger than that.

Hyperbole aside, this game is important. A win can attone for a season of disappointment (see Kansas.) And, a loss can take the glow off of a successful season (see Missouri.) It's a rivalry which is as bitter as any in the country.

The history for this one goes back to 1891. And, save for no game in 1918, due to an influenza outbreak, the game has been played every year since--118 games in total. Even the overall record is a source of conflict in this oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi--KU boasts of a 55-54-9 record while MU claims the 55-54-9 history.

So, while this rivalry is disected every year in which the two teams play, here are some interesting, and obscure, factoids:

- Kansas coach John Outland only played Missouri once...and lost. This is the same John Outland whose name adorns the Outland Trophy, given to the best college lineman in the U.S. each year.

- Another famous Kansas coach went 0-1 against Mizzou. Phog Allen coached the football team for one season in 1920 and lost in his single contest against MU. He would fare much better against the Tigers on the basketball floor with an overall record of 65-33 in the series.

- In the early years of the rivalry, Kansas owned a 27-21-7 record. Then, during the golden age of Missouri football, the Tigers went 15-6-2 from 1951-1970. Kansas coach Jack Mitchell, who recruited stars like John Hadl, Curtis McClinton and Gale Sayers to KU, only went 1-6-2 against Mizzou.

- After his consistent success against Kansas, head coach Dan Devine of the Tigers lost in 1967 and 1968 to Pepper Rodgers, with the '68 victory giving KU a share of the Big Eight title instead of the Tigers. That may be why, in the following year, that Devine didn't call off the dogs with a 69-21 shellacking of the Jayhawks in Lawrence. The loss prompted Rodgers' quip, "I gave Dan the peace sign from across the field and he gave me half of it back."

- Famed anti-Mizzou personality Don Fambrough coached the Jayhawks twice. His first stint was 1971-1974, then he was re-hired to guide the team in 1979. Coach Fam went 3-1 during his first tenure; he went 1-3 the second time around.

- Is it any wonder that Don Faurot and Devine are so loved by the Missouri faithful? Faurot owned a 12-5-2 record against Kansas; Devine was 8-3-2 against KU.

- A.R. Kennedy coached for seven seasons (1904-1910) at Kansas and was the school's most consistent winner. He also owns the best overall record against MU at 4-1-2. In the modern era, Mike Gottfried went 3-0 against Mizzou, Glen Mason was 5-4, Terry Allen was 3-2 and Mark Mangino, 4-4.

So, what's this all mean for Saturday? Who knows. Kansas has fared well against MU when the Tigers have been ranked--KU is 8-7. And, in games played in Kansas City, KU is 13-8-3 although they are 1-2 at Arrowhead.

By my count, I've been to 19 of these contests, some of which have resulted in great memories and some which still stick with me in a far different way.

- In 1962, my parents took me to my first "away" game--KU versus MU in Columbia. We stayed at The Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia, and spent the day prior to the game shopping for warm winter clothing given the incredibly frigid conditions on game day. Both teams played conservatively, Kansas coach Jack Mitchell used All-American Gale Sayers as a "decoy," and the teams played to a 3-3 tie. The following year, the game was played in Lawrence a mere week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

- In 1968, Kansas won in Columbia 21-19, a victory which propelled the Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl. I can remember listening to this game on radio with my father and marveling at the performance of Dave Morgan, who had an interception and key fumble recovery.

- In 1969, I witnessed the 69-21 rout by Missouri. The game marked the ninth loss in a season which bore great promise given KU's Big Eight title the year prior.

- The 1973 game featured a late David Jaynes to Emmett Edwards touchdown pass to give the Jayhawks a 14-13 victory. That game, in Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, was the final win in a season of close contests for KU--one point losses at Tennessee and Nebraska and close or come-from-behind wins versus Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado and MU. KU would go on to the Liberty Bowl, losing to North Carolina State, 31-18.

Perhaps the game from which I'm drawing confidence is the 1976 contest in Columbia. Kansas' season went south when stud QB Nolan Cromwell was lost for the season with a knee injury in game six against Oklahoma. KU, playing with a third-string quarterback, whipped 19th ranked Missouri 41-14.

What's my prediction for Saturday? You'll have to wait until my weekly college football outlook, which will be posted tomorrow. Selfishly, I'm hopeful for a 1976-like performance by the Jayhawks but know that the outcome could easily be a repeat of the 1969 rout. That game ended up as the worst loss ever by Kansas in this long and storied rivalry.

Thanksgiving musings

- As I perused the 59 free-standing inserts in this morning's Kansas City Star, I thought to myself "I wonder what's so magical about stores opening at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow--who set that as 'the time'?" That was until I came to the Kohl's insert and the blaring headline, "Open tomorrow at 3:00 a.m." Seriously? What the heck...

- The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, being broadcast on NBC, will have a guest-starring appearance from Kanye West. Yes, the same Kanye who did the Today Show meltdown on this same network with host Matt Lauer.

- Is there any meat dish which is analyzed more than turkey? I'd love to know the number of television programming hours dedicated to the best way to cook this bird.

- What's the most popular side dish to said turkey? Why, stuffing, of course, followed closely by cranberry sauce and some sort of potato--usually sweet potatoes and/or mashed potatoes.

- More food is purchased in the U.S. for Thanksgiving than any other day or time of the year. What's next? Super Bowl Sunday.

- Detroit and Dallas have hosted NFL football games on Thanksgiving Day for years. This year, those two teams are a combined 5-15.

- The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade started in 1924 in New York. But, the longest-running Thanksgiving parade in the U.S. is in Philadelphia--that traditional event started in 1920.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving, I wrote the following as a direct rip-off of my favorite column which Joe Posnanski (Sports Illustrated, Kansas City Star) writes each year. As I re-read the piece, I realized that most of what I gave thanks for in 2009 is what I say "thanks" for in 2010.

So, here we go--2010 edition...


I’m thankful for our screened-in porch and the view out our back yard--for fall colors and the leaves which now cover our lawn, and for a Kansas sunset. I’m thankful for my short commute and the serenity of driving through our neighborhood and into my driveway as I come home from work each night. I’m thankful for the therapy of a glass of California red coupled with a fine cigar and the sound of my honey’s voice as we de-brief on the events of the day.

I’m thankful for the smells of Allen Fieldhouse, for afternoon games in that grand old barn when the light streams onto the floor, and for the jumping jack students who make the tip-off of any game there a special experience. I’m thankful for thousands of bodies swaying in time to the singing of the Alma Mater, for the shouting of “Rock Chalk!” on the east side of Memorial Stadium and the answered “Jayhawk!” from the west side. I’m thankful for crimson and blue, for the Hill on a fall day, for red tile roofs and for one of the prettiest campuses anywhere.

I’m thankful for coaches who mold the lives of high school students—coaches like Bob Hurley (St. Anthony’s, New Jersey) and Roger Barta (Smith Center, Kansas), and thus touch these kids’ lives forever. I’m thankful for college coaches who lead their programs with dignity and character—people like Bill Self, Roy Williams, Turner Gill, Mike Anderson and Pat Summitt. I’m thankful for voices like Brad Nessler, Ron Franklin, Clark Kellogg and, yes, even Brent Musberger—voices I hear and which immediately transport me to a memory given the number of college games they have broadcast. And, of course, I’m thankful for Bob Davis, the voice of the Jayhawks whose calls of big plays in Kansas history would make a classic “greatest hits” CD.

I'm thankful for men and women who serve to protect our freedom. And, I'm thankful to those who have gone before them to do the same for past generations.

I’m thankful for those I never tire of watching, playing games I love. And, I'm thankful for the new generation of stars--guys like Dexter, Eric, Jamaal, Brandon and Javier.

I’m thankful for words which turn into sentences which turn into stories. I’m thankful for the written artistry of Joe Posnanski, Rick Reilly and Thomas Boswell and for the literary genius of Dennis Lehane, Pat Conroy, James Ellroy and Larry McMurtry.

I’m thankful for producers, writers and directors who take chances and who strive to develop quality television programming like Mad Men, Glee, and Friday Night Lights. I’m even more thankful to those who watch and help keep these programs on the air.

I’m thankful for my church family—for the staff which makes the place run to the many there that have my utmost respect and to whom I use as role models for my life and the lives of my family.

I’m thankful for those who save animals and place them in loving homes where they become a member of a family.

I'm thankful for the good aspects of technology--for the ability to connect, via Facebook, to those who have long since drifted out of my network of friends since high school or college.

I’m thankful for those who give back, and for those who give to the less fortunate. I’m thankful for Ronald McDonald House and for the Christmas Red Bag program. And, I'm thankful for this time of year when stories of grace are a part of what makes this season special.

I’m thankful for my friends and for the amazement which comes when their call or note comes at a time when I need it most. I’m thankful for sincerity, for a kind word, for random acts of kindness and for friends who allow you to do something for them.

I’m thankful for a mother’s love, a father’s concern, a son’s inquisitiveness and a daughter’s sincerity. I’m thankful for a wife’s partnership, support and gift of giving of herself.

I’m thankful for Bobbi, Erin, Jared and Brett. I’m thankful for my and my family’s health.

I’m thankful for this day when I can say, “I’m thankful.”

I’m thankful…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mid-week musings

- The Beatles library was released recently on i-Tunes and, within a day, two of the band's albums reached the top 10 on the online music retailer's charts. I report this as I sit and watch a Beatles retrospective on The History Channel. In sum, it's been a good week for The Beatles.

- released its list of predicted bowl match-ups and believes that Missouri will play Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, a rematch of the two teams' match-up in that bowl in 2008.

- Okay, I really don't like the new Target holiday retail work. What started out as a head-scratcher has turned into flat-out dislike. The character of the woman who can't wait until Target opens after Thanksgiving is very irritating and a stereotype of the Black Friday shopper.

- Color me surprised...not! The publicist hired to be Kanye West's media trainer quit after three days on the job. The publicist gave up after West's interview with Today Show host Matt Lauer where the rapper clearly became frustrated and, ultimately, visibly angry.

- In case you missed it, Ohio State University president Gordon Gee strongly suggested that TCU and Boise State were not deserving of a spot in a BCS National Championship game. Gee continues to support the BCS and bowl system, saying that he's worried about a national playoff leading to increased professionalism in college football. Why? He's worried about the pressure on "student athletes." What Gee did not reference is why football is the only Division 1 sport without a playoff, and why the lower divisions in college football can support a playoff, even though it clearly means more games for the "student athletes" of whom he expresses so much concern.

- After looking dominant against the likes of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Valparaiso and North Texas, the Kansas Jayhawks hoops squad now dials up the competition meter with upcoming games against Ohio and Arizona in Las Vegas, UCLA, Memphis in New York, Colorado State (Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO), USC and at California.

- That team who many predicted would be "the best team in Kansas" lost against top-ranked Duke last night at the CBE tournament in Kansas City. Kansas State is good but needs help at point guard, the spot vacated by Denis Clemente. Jacob Pullen is an off-guard and running the offense doesn't allow Pullen to easily move without the ball to create scoring opportunities. The Wildcats will figure it out, which is why early season games against teams like Duke will pay dividends in March.

- People magazine recently named Ryan Reynolds as the "World's Most Sexiest Man." Meanwhile, Esquire magazine crowned Minka Kelly as "Sexiest Woman" in its "Woman We Love" edition. Kelly starred on Friday Night Lights and is the main squeeze of New York Yankee star Derek Jeter.

- Apparently much of America was intrigued as to whether Bristol Palin would pull an upset in this season's Dancing With the Stars. The series had its highest final episode viewership since 2007 with over 26 million tuning in on Tuesday night.

- It looks like Tom Cruise is out should the Mission Impossible franchise continue past the fourth movie, currently in production. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is rumored to be the guy who will take over should there by an MI 5. Renner has a supporting role in the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series.

- On Tuesday, the Kansas mens basketball team won its 63rd straight game at Allen Fieldhouse. That consecutive streak pales, though, in comparison to the one Oprah Winfrey is overseeing. Winfrey's daytime talk show remained the most watched talk show in syndication for the 602nd week in a row!

- Has this ever happened before!? The New York Times and The Washington Post, long competitors on stories as major as Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, usually do everything possible to avoid having similar content on their front pages. Yesterday, the two newspapers ran the same photo--of the deadly stampede in Cambodia--in roughly the same size and in the same spot on their page ones.

Happy Thanksgiving Week - volume III

Today is generally acknowledged as the busiest travel day of the year. And, thankfully, I won't be out on the roadways nor schlepping through an airport in an attempt to get to Grandma's house for the holidays.

This heavy travel is spurring discussion on the latest security measures being employed at airports--notably the full-body scanners which are becoming more prevalent. I've used the screeners and have been patted down as a result. (Who knew that a quarter in a pants pocket would show up on the machine's screen?) As uncomfortable as it may be, I'll do whatever it takes to make my flight secure and safe. But, seriously, isn't there a better and more efficient way to process travelers through the needed security, e.g., some sort of pre-screening system for frequent travelers?

Good luck and safe travels to all my peeps who are out and about this extended holiday weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving week - volume II

Happy Tuesday, one and all.

What's cool about Thanksgiving week, prior to Thursday, is the feeling you get when visiting the local mall or shopping district--the environment isn't yet into that hectic, over-the-top Christmas frenzy. Yet, sadly, signs are on the horizon of what's to come:

- The exterior signage proclaiming "We'll be open 5-9 p.m. on Thanksgiving." Really!? Is it that important that some store is open so people can flee their family gathering in order to get out and start shopping for Christmas?

- Television, radio and print ads shout "opening at 4:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving." I always feel really, really sad for those who work retail at the post-Thanksgiving time of year. I did it once and it's always made me appreciate those who have to deal with the thundering hordes of shoppers over the next few weeks.

Speaking of which, where did the name "Black Friday" come from? Wikipedia does not provide any clear sense as to the origin of the term, suggesting that using the phrase in connection with this day after Thanksgiving may have originated in 1975, given two newspaper articles, originating in Philadelphia, which used the words. The term "Cyber Monday" (the Monday after Thanksgiving) started in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, recognizing the power of web shopping, particularly for those who did not or could not get out in the days following Thanksgiving.

I wish the holiday shopping vibe could stay like what I experienced yesterday with my wife--friendly sales associates with helpful ideas coupled with fellow shoppers who weighed in with opinions as we sought out food preparation items for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving week

Today starts what, for me, is perhaps the best week of the year. I love Thanksgiving and what it means, I enjoy the holiday season, and I have such fond memories of this week, both as a child and as an adult.

So, let's start off the week with some idle musings and fun facts, shall we?

- Michael May is a part-time bartender in Cleveland. Recently, May left a pouch carrying $3,600--eight months worth of tips--on the roof of his car before driving off. A volunteer safety ambassador in Cleveland found the bag in the street, took it to police, who then traced it to May through bank receipts. May's response? "It's a miracle," he said. "It's nice to know there are honest people in the world."

- The Twitter Nation was abuzz last night with rumors that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had quit the team after his Saturday night, publicly telecast chewing out by head coach Bo Pellini. Speculation is that Pellini was incensed at reports that Martinez called, or texted, his father from the locker room after aggravating an ankle injury in the game against Texas A&M. Regardless, Pellini's antics, both in this instance as well as his rants at officials, drew the ire of Nebraska's chancellor, Harvey Perlman. This is the same Perlman who displayed his petulant side at last summer's "we're leaving the Big 12" press conference, publicly calling out Texas and Missouri, and piously explaining why NU was ditching the conference for the greener grass of the Big Ten.

- I'd strongly encourage you to buy or download Bruce Springsteen's latest, The Promise.

- A couple of things I'm thankful for this week: the smell of pumpkin pie and the aroma of baking gingerbread cookies.

- The Wakefield, MA track and field team donned their new team t-shirts recently. The front of the shirts read, "WTF." School officials later admitted that they were unaware of the text-speak definition of the letters.

- It's Border War week--Kansas versus Missouri in the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi. And, being ever the dutiful Jayhawk alum, I will report that the series record is 55-54-9. My colleagues and friends who hail from the University of Missouri dispute this record, stating it as 55-54-9 in favor of Missouri. No matter, it's a game where the adage of "throw out the record book" applies. This will be the fourth straight year the teams have battled at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, with the games matching the large scale, NFL-stadium setting and capturing national attention. In 2007, MU beat Kansas 36-28 with the ESPN College GameDay experience a part of the festivities. In 2008, a late touchdown pass gave Kansas a 40-37 victory. And, last year, Missouri paid back the late-game victory by kicking a field goal for the win. What do we expect this year? Watch this space later in the week for my prediction.

- I've been a fan of Target's advertising and marketing communications but I'm very underwhelmed by this holiday season's television advertising for the retailer.

- Despite the Democratic Party's historic midterm losses in the recent election, President Barack Obama's approval ratings actually went up recently. Three days before the election, 43% of Americans approved of the job he's doing. Now, that figure is up to 47%.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wrapping up the sports week

- Gee, maybe Taylor Martinez of Nebraska wouldn't have been hurt so easily at the beginning of the Texas A&M if he'd been sitting down at the end of the victory last week over Kansas. Instead, the injured QB was on the field, passing with less than a minute to play.

- There's something wrong with the system when a player gets suspended for nine games for receiving $4,000 in improper benefits but a head coach at an NCAA institution, who broke rules he's paid to understand, gets an eight-game suspension.

- There's just something very cool about Army and Notre Dame playing tonight in Yankee Stadium in New York. It's the first football game to be played in the new Yankee Stadium. The old stadium, across the street from the present location, hosted a number of notable football contests, including the "greatest game ever played"--the Baltimore Colts win over the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game in 1958.

- Oklahoma State's star receiver Justin Blackmon may be better than the Cowboy's stud of last season, Dez Bryant.

- Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti is rumored to be a candidate for the opening at Colorado. If he gets hired, that means Bellotti would face his old school next season when CU joins the Pacific 12.

- Do you remember what Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant after Grant was caught in a publicly compromising situation with a prostitute? Grant, at the time, was married to beauty Elizabeth Hurley and Leno's question, when Grant appeared on The Tonight Show, was "what were you thinking!?" I have a feeling Leno would ask Tony Parker the same question after revelations this week about Parker's sexting relationship with teammate Brent Barry's former wife. Parker, of course, is married to his own beauty, actress Eva Longoria.

- It's going to be a very exciting end to the NASCAR season tomorrow at Miami-Homestead Raceway. Denny Hamlin has a 15 point lead on Jimmie Johnson going into this race. Hamlin qualified 36th but came from that far back last year, in this same race, to win. I think Hamlin will do enough to stop Johnson from winning his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Best halftime college ads

The Wall Street Journal used four experts to select the best college television advertising from the 112 ads surveyed--commercials which typically air during halftime breaks of college football broadcasts.

Both the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas were mentioned--the only Big 12 institutions which made the top 13 cited by the panel.

Jon Hamm was the "best cameo" in Missouri's spot which uses the "MIZ-ZOU" cheer coming from notable alums. In Kansas' case, the panel said that "visually, the spot is pretty typical...but the 'Rock Chalk, Jayhawk' chant in the background gets you fired up."

Other spots of note:

- Tom Brokaw as "best voiceover" for the University of Iowa.
- "Best historical footage" in Rice University's spot, which features President John F. Kennedy.
- "Best original score" by Shimon, a robot who plays the marimba while a fellow student plays drums for Georgia Tech's commercial.

College football predictions - week twelve

This might be called the "Saturday of Tradition" in college football. Army and Notre Dame will renew their rivalry tomorrow, but in a venue where they formerly played every year--Yankee Stadium in New York. And, Northwestern and Illinois will do battle in Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The playing of these games in traditional, old stadiums recalls the days when the Chicago Bears played at Wrigley, along with some college games, and the Army-Notre Dame battles took place at the Polo Grounds and then the original Yankee Stadium. In fact, the term "subway alumni" originated as a result of this rivalry, given that Notre Dame fans and alums would journey, via that transportation mode, from the New York boroughs to the South Bronx to watch this game each year.

Here are this week's predictions:

Notre Dame over Army. Army is bowl eligible for the first time since 1999 but is facing a Notre Dame team playing with renewed confidence, given their defeat of Utah last week.

Illinois over Northwestern. Northwestern lost starting QB Dan Persa last week in the big win over Iowa, thus making the Illini the favorite in this week's game in Chicago.

Oklahoma State over Kansas. KU's season has devolved to one of "let's see if we make improvement each week," given the final three games of Nebraska last week, OSU this week, and Missouri next Saturday. Staying within the spread of 24 would be considered a good day for the Jayhawks.

Missouri over Iowa State. Has there been a more up-and-down team in the Big 12 this season than Iowa State? They've lost their last two, won the two before that, lost the two before that, and won the two before that, meaning they should win this weekend, right? No. Even though the game is in Ames, QB Austin Arnaud is out for the remainder of the season.

Colorado over Kansas State. Perhaps Colorado's win last week for interim coach Brian Cabral was a one-time thing. Or, perhaps the Buffs were shocked to reality with the firing of Dan Hawkins. I think CU builds off last week's victory with another win in Boulder.

Stanford over California. Yes, I know that Cal held Oregon to 15 points last week. The Golden Bears are good but Stanford QB Andrew Luck is special--Stanford will win in a tight one befitting this rivalry.

Ohio State over Iowa. Last week's loss had to take it out of the Hawkeyes, who no longer are involved in the Big Ten race.

Nebraska over Texas A&M. This will be the best game in the Big 12 tomorrow. And, NU seems to rise to the level of their competition.

Oklahoma over Baylor. The Bears continue to tumble.

Texas over Florida Atlantic. Don't be fooled by the name of the opponent--FAU has won three straight. And, this game is huge for Texas--win and they are bowl eligible; lose and they need to defeat A&M next week to get to a bowl.

Texas Tech over Weber State. In an odd scheduling twist, the Red Raiders finish their season with two non-conference games--against Weber State tomorrow and against Houston next week.

South Florida over Pittsburgh. This game is in Tampa--a win puts the Bulls in a tie with Pitt atop the Big East.

Season predictions to date: 84-33, or 72%.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What are we watching?

Last week I wrote about what it says about us as consumers given the shows we view on television. So, you now ask, what are most of us watching?

The latest Nielsen ratings, for last week, are released and, not surprisingly, the sport called the National Football League continues to deliver monster ratings. The Sunday, November 14, NBC prime-time game between New England and Pittsburgh delivered a 20.8 rating, meaning that 21 million sets of eyeballs were watching these two AFC rivals.

But, football didn’t deliver the best ratings of the week—that honor belonged to the Dancing With the Stars franchise, which once again is delivering big-time ratings on a regular basis. The Monday night program (ABC) has delivered a 20.9 rating, season to date, with the Tuesday results show providing a 17.2 rating.

What are the other high performers this season? Here you go (with season to date ratings, all adults):

NCIS, 21.6
NCIS Los Angeles, 17.7
The Mentalist, 16.9
Criminal Minds, 15.8
CSI, 15.6
Two and a Half Men, 15.3
The Big Bang Theory, 14.8
Grey’s Anatomy, 14.3
The Good Wife, 14.2
Desperate Housewives, 13.8
60 Minutes, 13.7
Survivor: Nicaragua, 13.2

How about some of our, and your, other favorites, as well as new shows this fall?

Blue Bloods, 12.9
Glee, 12.8
Undercover Boss, 12.6
CSI: Miami, 11.8
Private Practice, 9.8
Detroit 1-7-8, 9.3
Law & Order: L.A., 8.4

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kansas vs. Nebraska

The Kansas-Nebraska football series was the oldest continuous "rivalry" in college football. I place quotes around the word "rivalry" because the games played between these two schools have hardly resembled anything like a rivalry--the Huskers have dominated the series, 91-23-3 (including tonight's game.)

The series between these two schools ended this evening with another Nebraska win--20-3. And, yet again, we were exposed to a classless act by the Huskers. Nebraska was up by 17 with less than a minute left in the game...and passed the ball.

To review, this is the program who announced their departure from the Big 12 this past July by holding a press conference with their university's chancellor and athletic director arrogantly defending NU's academic and athletic superiority while calling out the alleged conference realignment misdeeds of schools like Texas and Missouri. And, this is the same program who, once when playing Kansas, went for two at the end of the first half, even though the score was Nebraska 33, Kansas 0. Head coach, and now athletic director, Tom Osborne's comment was "we were concerned about Kansas' explosive offense."

So, I guess that I shouldn't be surprised that the series ending in this manner--with head coach Bo Pellini instructing his quarterback, Taylor Martinez, to pass with 45 seconds left to play. (Yes, this is the same Martinez who was in the game with less than a minute left, even though he was questionable going into the contest due to injury. Why was Martinez still playing? Apparently, the boos by some Nebraska fans suggested they were wondering the same thing.)

When asked after the game about the call, Gill said, "They did what they felt they needed to do." To me, it felt like it was Pellini's way of saying, "Welcome back to Lincoln, Turner." It's too bad that Pellini won't be on the sideline when Kansas plays Nebraska in basketball--January 15 in Lawrence and February 5 in Lincoln. The record in that series? Kansas leads 168-71 and has won 15 straight against NU.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

College football predictions - week eleven

If you're an Auburn fan, this has to be a nightmare--your team is having a dream season but now is awash in recruiting scandal talk swirling around Cam Newton. At what point does this all become a serious distraction, if it isn't already?

Here are our week eleven predictions:

Nebraska over Kansas. No surprise here--the Huskers have dominated this series, the longest-running consecutive series in college football which will end on Saturday. The big question is what we will see from Kansas--can they build on their record-breaking fourth quarter comeback performance of last weekend? Staying close with Nebraska until early in the second half could do wonders for this team's psyche heading into the final home game next week with Oklahoma State followed by the Border War clash with Missouri. Nebraska by 17.

Missouri over Kansas State. Mizzou returns home after an upset loss last week in Lubbock, TX where the storyline was Blaine Gabbert. Is Gabbert battling an undisclosed injury, just as Chase Daniel did in his senior season? Will the MU faithful stay confident in their first string QB or clamor early for James Franklin to be inserted, should Gabbert look shaky? I expect MU to win but this will be one of the more interesting games to follow this weekend.

Iowa State over Colorado. The Brian Cabral era starts at Colorado. Okay, I know, it's not an era, but Cabral will tend to the program until Mike Bohn can come to terms with Bill McCartney to return to the Folsom Field sideline. CU will continue its disastrous season by falling to ISU at home.

Oklahoma State over Texas. Yes, yes, yes--I learned my lesson. Don't pick the Longhorns to win, at all, this season. This is another home game and another home loss in this lost season for Texas.

Texas A&M over Baylor. The Bears return home after last week's humbling loss to Oklahoma State. And, in what may be the best game in the Big 12 this Saturday, the Bears will lose a close one to a surging Aggie squad.

Oklahoma over Texas Tech. A bunch of guys named "Freedom" beat Missouri last week in Lubbock. Oh, wait--those were special Red Raider uniforms and they were, shall we say, fashion-challenged. OU will cover the spread and win by 15.

Florida over South Carolina. The ol' ball coach returns to The Swamp in Gainesville, FL and leaves with his second straight loss.

Utah over Notre Dame. What's the cure for losing big to TCU last week? Why, beating Notre Dame on their home turf, of course. Utah by 12.

Ohio State over Penn State. These two traditional powers do battle in the Horseshoe. It won't be victory #401 for JoePa--look for Ohio State to win by two touchdowns.

Georgia over Auburn. Yep, my upset pick for the week. Newton-gate finally gets to the War Eagle Nation and they fall, on a late field goal, to Georgia.

Arizona over USC. Arizona hasn't won consecutive games in this series since 1999-2000. It'll happen ten years later as the Wildcats recover from last week's thrashing by Stanford.

Season predictions to date: 79-28

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What do you watch...and what does that tell us about you?

What you watch says a lot about you, according to new research from Mindset Media. The media company recently researched 25,000 television viewers across 70 different shows. And, what they found out were common personality traits for the viewers of each of the shows.

Let's take a look at the findings:

Mad Men - Creative people are more likely to tune into AMC's smash about the advertising business in the 1960's. And, Mad Men viewers tend to be more liberal.

Glee - "Gleeks" are very open and believe that intellectual and imagination pursuits lead to a good life. Followers of this show search for unique and varied experiences and are more in touch with their own feelings.

Real Housewives of Orange County - Researchers dubbed viewers of this show as "pugnacious." These people are unafraid to tell others what they think--they value honesty over keeping the peace.

The Office - Like the character of Michael on this show, viewers who regularly tune in think that they are superior to others. They also tend to happily brag about their accomplishments and prefer to be in charge.

Dancing With the Stars - Traditionalists are most likely to watch DWTS. These folks are the opposite of the experiential "Gleeks" and instead prefer stability and the tried-and-true. They respect authority and are firmly grounded.

The Biggest Loser - This show is for those who have personalities which fall low on the creativity scale. Viewers also tend to be realists--pragmatic people who live in the present and work with what they've been given.

Now, don't get upset if you're a left-brain engineer and you watch Mad Men. The study groups viewers based upon statistical tendencies, i.e., the increased likelihood that a group of people who watch a particular show will tend to have one or more similar personality traits.

Why is all of this important? Well, consider the ability of advertisers to better target programming based upon this insight into viewership. Mindset Media suggests that certain brands will better fit with the above shows based upon the findings. For example, brands like Apple, Audi, Blue Moon (beer) and American Express would fit best with Mad Men, according to Mindset Media. On Dancing With the Stars, brands like Kraft, Chrysler, Fiber One and Buick Regal would play best. As for Real Housewives, how about Botox? Yes, Mindset Media suggested that this product, along with brands like Nike and Crest Whitestrips, would resonate with the Housewives viewing audience.


I was honored and humbled to have received an invitation to speak last night at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus in Overland Park, KS. The audience was a Masters in Marketing Communications class on "Leadership and Management." It was a thrill to speak to a group of ambitious, curious, energetic and really, really smart graduate students.

I used the opportunity to talk about my leadership journey and to provide ten tenets which make up the leadership philosophy I have formed as I've advanced in my professional career.

Here are some of the highlights from my discussion with this marketing communications class:

- Phil Johnson, a principal at PJA Advertising, wrote recently in Advertising Age, "Eventually, you learn about leadership as you thrash about in the reality of day-to-day life and encounter the unpredictable, the unexpected and the unpleasant. I've blundered with the best of them. I've stood on the sidelines with my hands in my pockets when I should have taken strong action. I've jumped into the fray when I should have stayed out. It takes experience and instinct to know what works." I couldn't agree more with Johnson's statement--as I read it last week for the first time I thought, "that's me!"

- Two of my favorite authors, or sources, on leadership are Colin Powell and John Wooden. Powell is Retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as former Secretary of State under George W. Bush. The late Wooden was the legendary coach at UCLA, where he won 10 national basketball championships in 12 years. Both know or knew a thing or two about leadership.

- Powell once said, "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible."

- Wooden, ever the common man in his approach, said, "A leader must make decisions. Making decisions is a tough job. Those under a leader can make suggestions. Making suggestions is an easy job. Everybody has a suggestion--not everybody has a decision. Perhaps that is why there are so few leaders--at least good leaders."

- My ten tenets of my personal leadership philosophy are:

1. Hire good people and get out of their way. That doesn't mean ignore them--it means give them the space and freedom to reach their potential.

2. Always be accessible. MBWA, i.e., "Manage by walking around."

3. Avoid being a "pleaser." Inevitably, as a leader you are going to make someone angry with a decision. A good leader is willing to make the tough decisions; trying to get everyone to like you will result in mediocrity.

4. Be comfortable with who you are. Leaders don't change who they are--they hone their skills.

5. "It's amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit." (John Wooden)

6. It's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Commit errors of commission versus errors of omission, or inactivity.

7. Set clear expectations. My two primary expectations of my team are (a) meet deadlines and (b) be on time. It's better to be on time and 80% complete than late and 100%. And, being late (to a meeting or appointment) means "my time is more valuable than yours." Get over it--it isn't.

8. Know the customer--and ensure that they are always the focus.

9. The situation dictates which approach is best. Don't be formulaic in your leadership.

10. Have fun...laugh, have work-life balance, let your team see your "human side." In an environment where 40-50% of one's waking hours are spent at work, it must be a place where team members are comfortable, inspired, and having fun.

- If you Google "leadership," you'll find over 145 million entries. On Amazon, there are over 64,000 books listed for the topic. One can read tons of material on leadership--the key is to ensure that you know what leadership approach suits you best and continue to hone those skills.

- Finally, as a leader, no matter what you say or are always sending a message.

What was most encouraging about last night was the quality of questions asked by the students. This group was engaged and craving insight into leadership and management. They also are rightfully concerned about business right now--about dealing with a glutted personnel market, about how they advance, about how they manage their subordinates.

It was a fun evening which sent me away inspired--inspired to continue to improve as a leader and to help others as they move along their career and leadership path.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

It's the day after the Kansas City Chiefs' painful loss to their arch-rival Oakland Raiders, and I'm just sitting here wondering:

- How does a team--Kansas City--which has won consistently this season by NOT making mistakes lose by: having a punt return touchdown called back due to a penalty, taking three points off the board due to a penalty on a made field goal, and throwing an interception in the endzone when it was assured of getting at least a FG prior to halftime? And, that's on top of Oakland having 15 penalties, three turnovers and a missed FG!

- Does Colorado fire Dan Hawkins this week, or allow him to finish the season? Many in college athletics think that the "fire a coach in the season" action is a real no-no but CU has Iowa State and Kansas State coming to Boulder in the next two weeks. Both are winnable games--will the Buffs rally around Hawkins or would an interim coach be a better solution?

- Dead man walking - Wade Phillips. (By the way, Phillips has not been seen today at Valley Ranch, the Cowboys practice facility in Dallas.)

- "He can recruit but..." What in the Sam Hill is going on down in Austin? How does a coach take recruiting classes which have been ranked in the top 12 the past five years and coach them to ugly losses at home against UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor, and on the road Saturday in Manhattan? Mack Brown is, right now, the second least popular coach in the state after the aforementioned Phillips.

- Speaking of Texas, the best college football team in the state right now is TCU. And, Baylor and Texas A&M will play for second place this Saturday in Waco.

- By the way, Brown has the current top recruiting class for 2011 headed to Austin next season. If he has another sub-par year, look for the Longhorns to give Eric Taylor a look at head coach. Taylor is the coach of the fictional East Dillon, TX team on Friday Night Lights, which will cease to be on NBC after spring 2011.

- Free Josh Selby.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lazy Sunday afternoon

- Can we just stick with one "time?" As much as I like the "fall back" idea, I'm still not convinced that we need to move to Daylight Savings Time in the spring, much less move away from it in the fall.

- How did Kansas make its amazing comeback yesterday against Colorado? It did it by scoring 35 points in the fourth quarter. Therein lies the beauty of college sports--it's amazing what confidence can do to a teams' performance.

- More on KU-Colorado yesterday...this loss, and how it happened, put the final nail in the Dan Hawkins coffin. The former Boise State coach will surely not make the trip with Colorado to the Pacific 12 conference next season.

- A 15-month old baby in Paris fell from a seventh story window, and survived, by bouncing off of a cafe awning and into the arms of a passerby.

- As alluring as the thought was of an immense talent like Randy Moss in a Chiefs uniform, I'm glad that General Manager Scott Pioli did not pursue the troubled superstar. The Chiefs organization has done a terrific job of blending team chemistry--the addition of Moss would have been the ultimate test of that approach. Why take the risk, given the success of the team thus far this season?

- I'm not a fan of the special uniform designs which are becoming more prevalent in college football. Texas Tech's pinkish camo look last night was, shall we say, interesting? Throwbacks are cool--over-designed unis are not.

- Show of hands--who remembers the school bus ride with the prankster on board who would make various bodily sounds intended to "entertain" his captive audience? Apparently, that sort of behavior is frowned upon in Ohio where a sixth grader was placed in detention for farting on the school bus. The 11-year old insisted that the flatulence was involuntary. The bus driver, however, contradicted the story saying that the offender would "laugh while the others screamed."

- It wasn't a good day for the Pac-12's new entrants yesterday. Not only did Colorado surrender a 28 point lead in Lawrence, but Utah was routed by TCU thus ending any national title hopes for the Utes.

- That "pfft" sound you hear from Waco, TX is the Baylor balloon being burst by Oklahoma State. The Bears still have a chance to go to a good bowl with home games remaining against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, but will not win the Big 12 South. A&M now owns a three-game winning streak and beat #8 OU yesterday at Kyle Field in College Station. The Aggies have remaining games against Nebraska and Texas, in addition to Baylor. OU still has Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, plus Baylor, on their schedule.

Friday, November 5, 2010

College football predictions - week ten

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's recruitment is being scrutinized. Helmet-to-helmet hits are being debated--what's a penalty and what's not? And, margin of victory apparently now is not considered when factoring in the dominance of programs like TCU, Utah and Boise State. Yes, it's the wonderfully wacky world of college football--week ten.

After going 9-2 last weekend, let's see what your fearless prognosticator has to say about this Saturday's action.

Kansas over Colorado. You heard it here--Kansas will get its first Big 12 win of the season and its first since last year's close win over Iowa State. Last year, KU lost to Colorado late, the "Mangino Meltdown" went down after the game, and the Jayhawks have been spiraling ever since. Their season gets righted a bit tomorrow in a close win over the Buffaloes and lame duck coach Dan Hawkins.

Oklahoma State over Baylor. It's the battle of coach-of-the-year candidates--Mike Gundy at OSU versus Art Briles at Baylor. It'll be another typical high-scoring Big 12 South shootout with the Cowboys winning by a touchdown.

Missouri over Texas Tech. This road game could be a pesky one for Missouri but, after a slow start, they'll roll to a 13 point win and continue motoring on to a one-loss regular season.

Texas over Kansas State. It's the trendy pick to predict a Kansas State victory. And, yes, I keep picking Texas to play like, well, Texas. I think the Longhorns simply have too much talent and that KSU's defense will be the perfect antidote for Gale Gilbert's recent struggles.

Oklahoma over Texas A&M. A&M is finding its mojo after inserting Ryan Tannehill in at quarterback. And, Kyle Field is not an easy place to play. I'm still picking the Sooners.

Nebraska over Iowa State. Will Taylor Martinez play? Can ISU construct another upset this season? This too is a trendy upset pick but I believe NU will continue the momentum coming out of last week's win over Missouri.

Alabama over LSU. Alabama must win if it wants any shot at moving past Boise State or TCU in the BCS standings. LSU must win to prove that it's truly a legitimate one-loss team. Alabama by 3.

TCU over Utah. You all know the story line on this, the most anticipated game of the day. The Mountain West conference takes center stage, at least for this Saturday. TCU's last regular season loss was in 2008 against...Utah. It won't happen tomorrow.

South Carolina over Arkansas. The Gamecocks take care of business at home.

Air Force over Army. Air Force doesn't have an "air game" on the field but should win by a touchdown over Army.

Clemson over North Carolina State. State has one loss in the conference but the Tigers are hard to beat at home.

Michigan over Illinois. This game is in Ann Arbor and features two 5-3 teams. The Illini, however, still have an outside shot at a league title with their 3-2 conference record. That record will be 3-3 after they lose to Denard Robinson and company.

Season predictions to date: 71-24 (74.7%)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Random musings

- If you want to see U2 this summer, the closest stops to Kansas City will be Chicago (July 5 at Soldier Field), St. Louis (July 17 at Busch Stadium) and Minneapolis (July 23 at TCF Bank Stadium.)

- If, on the other hand, you want to see Kenny Chesney, the country star will play Arrowhead Stadium here in our cowtown on July 30. The Zac Brown Band will open for Chesney, who will headline the first concert in Arrowhead in 10 years.

- It's "they're," "their," and "there." Each is its own word with its own definition.

- When's the last time you can remember the Kansas City Chiefs-Oakland Raiders game meaning something in the NFL's AFC West?

- Was advertising copy testing used on current campaigns for brands like Old Spice ("Old Spice Man"), Dos Equis ("World's Most Interesting Man"), Charles Schwab (the paint-by-numbers illustrated people in the "Ask Chuck" work) or Dominos Pizza? I don't know...but I doubt it. Breakthrough advertising is rarely validated by pre-campaign consumer research.

- Speaking of advertising, how cool is it to have all political advertising now off the air? If only the candidates' yard signs could come down as quickly.

- Charlie Sheen is getting divorced, you say? Boy, I couldn't have called that one.

- Free Josh Selby...and Enes Kanter, while you're at it.

- Is there a show on television with a less likable cast of characters than Grey's Anatomy?

- Losing three games at home during the 2009-2010 college hoops season does not give a team license to crow about its homecourt advantage, much less nickname the building.

- The Real Housewives spoof which opened The Women of SNL special on NBC this past Monday night was hysterical.

Top 10 Reasons to Live in Kansas City

The Kansas City Area Development Council publishes a magazine called Options, which is used as a tool to retain businesses, and employees, in the Kansas City region as well as a sales piece for those who may be considering K.C. as their business' next home.

The new edition of the publication has an article titled "Top 10 Reasons to Live in K.C."

In descending order:

10. "With three major and two minor league sports teams, roller derby and allegiances to at least three Big 12 universities, our tailgate parties are always winners--even when our teams aren't."

9. "Kansas City has spawned contestants on Survivor, Design Star, Project Runway, Top Chef Masters, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef and Work of Art--not to mention an American Idol winner. You might be next!"

8. "Beer from Boulevard Brewing Company, coffee from The Roasterie, milk from Shatto Milk Co., artisanal sodas from SodaVie: We can 'drink local' at every event."

7. "Recently installed ramp meters control interstate congestion, so you'll be covered during that one time a month you actually run into a traffic jam."

6. "It may be 458 miles from Barney Allis Plaza to Graceland, but that hasn't stopped this downtown gathering place from hosting the 'world's largest Elvis parade' every year."

5. "We're home to both Browne's Irish Market, the oldest, family-owned Irish business in North America, and the Irish population to support it!"

4. "It took an act of Congress to designate the National World War I Museum as the United States' official commemorator of the 'Great War,' but it only takes $12 ($6 if you are a kid) to see its one-of-a-kind collection."

3. "KC was dubbed the 'Paris of the Plains' in the Jazz Age; Paris was nicknamed 'City of Light' in the Gilded Age. But with more than 80 miles of multicolored bulbs illuminating the Country Club Plaza during the holidays, we may just usurp that latter identity, as well."

2. "Foodies love us: In 2010, KC restaurants were featured on Travel Channel's Food Wars and Man versus Food, and on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Hungry yet?"

1. "As if the state-of-the-art acoustics in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts aren't enough, the building's dramatic silhouette is giving Kansas City's landlocked skyline its very own seashell."

This is a good list, but I think the editors of Options left out some important items:

- The Sprint Center, ranked the second best arena nationally by Pollstar magazine.

- Barbecue...and more barbecue. From where? Take your pick--Oklahoma Joe's, Gates, Arthur Bryant's, LC's, Jack's Stack, Danny Edward's, and on, and on, and on.

- The "new" Arrowhead and the recently renovated Kauffman Stadium--the best stadium complex in the United States.

- First Fridays in the Crossroads District.

- The BLT's at The Peanut.

- The American Royal...and its barbecue contest.

- Ward Parkway.

- This city's legendary pro athlete, Tom Watson, and our ascending star, Dexter McCluster.

-'re only 40 minutes from Lawrence.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


This is, I hope, a blog post which is more appropriate for our single readers. I pass it along because researchers at my alma mater, the University of Kansas in Lawrence, found that there are various styles of flirting. And, I share it with you so that our married readers can--ahem--determine what kind of flirters they were, and those who are single can figure what kind of flirter they are.

The KU researchers determined that there are five types of flirting behaviors and that understanding how you communicate romantic interest may help you improve your chances in love. (No, this is not the makings for a new television reality show...)

The five styles of flirting are:
- Physical
- Traditional
- Polite
- Sincere
- Playful

If you're wondering if these different styles correlate to gender, it's a good question. Women scored higher on all styles except for, interestingly, playful.

Physical, sincere and playful were all styles associated with greater dating success. The physical and sincere styles were more likely to lead to deeper relationships with a stronger emotional connection and physical chemistry.

Researchers surveyed over 5,100 men and women about their flirting techniques. From their findings, the research team grouped the styles into the five categories:

Physical - This style communicates sexual interest to a potential partner. This form of flirting usually led to relationships which developed more quickly.

Traditional - In this style, men were most often the one to take the lead with women playing a more passive role. People who flirted in this way were physically more introverted, and men who used this style typically knew their potential partner for some time.

Polite - Proper manners are used in this style with a more cautious approach to expressing interest.

Sincere - As expected, this style involved communicating sincere interest and a desire to establish a strong emotional connection. Both men and women scored high for this style.

Playful - This style is the one least likely to result in meaningful relationships. And, people who engaged in this style often did it to boost their own self-esteem.

The lead researcher at KU said, "Knowing something about the way you communicate attraction says something about challenges you might have had in your past dating life. Hopefully, this awareness can help people avoid those mistakes and succeed in courtsthip."

Okay, single folks--consider this your "self help" blog post for the day. Now, go have fun out there!