Thursday, August 26, 2010

Questions for a hot August Day

The Big Ten isn't stupid enough to mess with the Michigan/OSU rivalry, are they?

Sadly, the Big Ten is more than stupid enough to move the Michigan/Ohio State game. They are going to ruin a rivalry that has been played on the last day of the regular season since 1935, all for a chance at the teams playing a rematch for the conference championship at the end of the season. Even though this would only happen about once every six years, and even though the Miami/FSU rivalry has been a quaint curio for most of the football world since a similar strategy was employed by the ACC, the Big Ten sees dollar signs and can't resist making their championship game a contrived "mega-event."

Apparently, Jim Delaney has convinced the presidents of the teams in his league that the game isn't good enough to stand on its own without selling out the flagship rivalry of the conference. The AD's from both Michigan and Ohio State are saying that they are in favor of being in different rivalries, but I am beginning to wonder if they really are.

When first hearing this news and hearing David Brandon speak, I was quite upset. I have gone so far as to wish that Bo could visit Brandon from the grave and set him straight. And, make no mistake, Bo Schembechler would not be in favor of such an obvious lack of respect for the rivalry that, though he didn't create it, he helped to its current relevance. After some serious thought, though, I am beginning to think that neither AD is in favor of this terrible arrangement, but both are being good "company men" and "falling on their swords" for their bosses.

Both AD's have to realize that putting their schools in different divisions and playing the game as a "protected rivlary" will make both of their schedules the toughest ones in the conference, because they will have to play each other as a cross-division game every year. While others in their divisions are playing easier games against lesser teams, they will be playing each other.

No matter how much money the commissioner and presidents of the schools think they can make by dancing on the graves of Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, Michigan and Ohio State need to be in the same division. And the greatest rivalry game in all of sports needs to be played as the last game of the season, just like it always has.

How soon do we get to see the "old" Tiger?

Now that the inevitable divorce is final, Tiger Woods will probably go back to dominating the tour again. Tiger has long lived by the rule, "never let them see you sweat." He has never admitted any frailty or flaws: until now. Lately, Tiger has opened up to fellow players and the media, and has admitted that the drama in his private life has taken a toll on his game.

Well, the major source of drama in the life of Tiger Woods is now history. And Tiger will soon be back to his "old self." Between having been a bartender and musician, and now being in the health industry, I have been around a lot of people who have gone to various twelve-step programs. The program changes many for the better. In the case of those whose performance requires a certain amount of obsession to maintain, though, therapy can sometimes "cure" the very thing that made them great in the first place.

I think this is part of what has happened to Tiger Woods. The "kinder, gentler Tiger" may be a better human being, but he isn't as good of a golfer as he was. Basically, for the last nine months, Tiger has been trying to be someone he isn't. Predictably, his game has suffered.

As callous as it may sound, Tiger Woods needs to forget a lot of what he "learned" in therapy and be himself. Besides, now that Tiger is not married, he can revert to his old, womanizing lifestyle, and it will be "OK" because he won't be committing adultery anymore. Tiger may even become a counter-cultural "folk hero" of sorts, in the way that Wilt Chamberlain was in the latter part of his life.

Womanizing has been a part of the tour since it began. Without mentioning any names, I can safely say that one of golf's most beloved figures of the "golden age" pretty much did exactly what Tiger did when he was young. Luckily for him, the private lives of athletes weren't considered "news," and the media often "looked the other way," thus keeping his "beloved icon" status intact.

Has anyone noticed the curious silence about Tiger's "lifestyle choices?" The reason other players on the tour aren't speaking up is that many of them are doing the same thing. Tiger may have made some curious decisions as to his choice of partners, but many think that the only "groupies" hotter than those who follow the PGA Tour are those who follow Formula One. And Tiger Woods definitely is not the only one doing what he did. It is common knowledge among insiders that one of the PGA's most revered "family man" types has a "scoreboard" that may rival Tiger, even if he can't beat him on the course.

Anyway, back to the question: I think we saw traces of the "old Tiger" today, when he shot 65 at Barclay's. I'm not counting him out of winning the Tour Championship this season, and I'm not counting him out of the Ryder Cup just yet, either. At any rate, the "Anti-Year of the Tiger" is very close to being finished, and I look forward to seeing him win two majors next season.