Archive for Uncategorized

Three Years Later: The Passing Of My Friend and Teammate Jasper Howard

// October 18th, 2012 // 3 Comments » // Uncategorized

jazz

I hate the idea of this becoming tradition; Sitting down to pen my thoughts on the current state of affairs regarding the murder of my teammate, Jazz.  But somehow that’s what it is, every October I now count the days until that day.  When life and all it’s trappings came screaming into focus.  Maybe, on some level, it’s a blessing that we all are forced to sit down, shed a few tears, and take stock.

Of course things have changed since 2009; Jasper’s daughter is another year into her life not knowing her Dad, the guilty  have now been prosecuted and sentenced, and those of us that had the distinct privilege to call him family continue with live our lives with a personal knowledge of just how fragile all this is. The UConn program marches on; The season in full swing.  I know the vantage this day offers does not diminish, at least not for me.  The petty squabbles, bad days, or “problems” we face are not nearly as bad as we might think.  I know Jazz wouldn’t want us to live our lives sad or in mourning, and so I fight back tears for a man taken far too soon.

Perhaps this was his last gift to us, one from a man of incredible character, work ethic, and devotion: Play every play like its the last play you’ll ever play.  Even on your worst day, you’re lucky to be here.— Live 365.

Miss you cuz.

[Originally Posted  October 19th, 2009]
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to a Monday night football game. In the stands, I sat with my former teammates, joking and laughing.
UConn’s star cornerback, Jasper “Jazz” Howard, sat next to me.

While Jazz and I were hardly best friends, we were teammates, on the same defensive unit, who shared many laughs and, of course, trying moments together.

“How are the guys doing?” I asked Jazz that night.

“Young, man,” he replied in a throaty, soft-spoken voice, which sounded strained but was always at ease. “Real young. But, you know, we still gonna bang.” (A smile crept across his face as he said this.)

Fast-forward to a homecoming game this past weekend, where I selfishly explored my own emotions on being at a place where, for five years, I was very much on the inside, metaphorically and physically. Inside the locker room, inside the huddles, inside the football mentality.

On Saturday, I returned to my home stadium, for the first time, and was very much on the outside. Outside the lines, outside the players’ box, outside the locker room.

After the game, I got to join my teammates, my brothers, in the fight song. I made my rounds, slapping hands, hugging and smiling, exchanging the typical locker-room jabs. I went over to Jazz, congratulated him on his excellent game (an interception, forced fumble and about 13 tackles). Laughing, he told me I was almost as skinny as he was, and I reminded him that he was still about 1000 times the athlete I’d ever be.

The entire time I was there, I was thinking, “Man, this is awful.” I am not yet at a place where I can enjoy watching the game from which I am less than a year removed. I was emotional about the smells, and on my long drive home, I had a lot of time to reflect on how much I missed playing, how important it was to me — things that in less than 24 hours would suddenly seem so much less significant.

I left that locker room. I came back to Boston. I went to sleep.

I woke up, and everything had changed.

The text messages said it all:

“Call me, we need to talk”

“Jazz is dead”

“S— went down last night”

I look back at that moment, from my Monday morning perspective, and I am embarrassed. A lot changed from Saturday afternoon’s pettiness to Monday’s deeper meaning. All my complaints about being done playing football didn’t matter. My teammate and friend had lost his life, leaving behind a family, a girlfriend, a daughter on the way.

Instead of enjoying the fruits of homecoming, remembering the good days, I am trying to make sense of something that is senseless.

How does a kid who makes it out of Miami — leaving the violence of his hometown by his own reckoning — get murdered in the seemingly safe setting of Storrs, Conn.?

These are questions without answers.

The violence of the football field is the stuff we can control, and Jazz was a master. Analogies between on-field violence and the outside world are often made, without regard to actual violence. And yet, in this instance, I have realized just how petty and fake that violence is. There are rules, whistles, referees.

Early Sunday morning, there were no such systems in place. My friend and teammate died at the hands of someone who clearly placed no value on life, and certainly did not consider the consequences of his actions.

Jasper Howard was a man of incredible character and work ethic. He likely would have risen to the rank of captain in seasons to come. I have no doubt that Jazz, while undersized, would have been an NFL-caliber player. He was soft-spoken when he had to be, but was a vocal leader on the field. He pushed, provoked and brought out the best in his teammates.

I am always grateful to have been a part of UConn football, but I am — without a doubt — a better man for having shared the same field with Jazz.

I am not sure there are deeper lessons to be learned here. I don’t want to live in a world where one of my friends has to die for me or anyone else to value life. But here I am, reflecting more and more, valuing my own life and my own situation in a way I never did before Jazz passed.

I wish that society allowed us more opportunities to stop and reflect, but it doesn’t. All I can do is lead my life, with my new lease on it, the way that Jazz did — with honor, integrity and a relentless work ethic.

Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East Challenge 6

// February 1st, 2012 // 5 Comments » // Uncategorized

Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East competition is back this week with a great blog challenge question.

What are your favorite places to watch your team when you can’t be at the game?

I fortunately have the luxury of residing in the great town of West Hartford, some 36 miles from The University of Connecticut, therefore UConn’s home games are always on SNY (SportsNet New York) and I’m able to watch each and every game from the luxury of my man cave. However I’m really not that boring, so I try to get to as many home games as I can watch in person. When I don’t have a ticket, and don’t feel like yelling at my TV alone, I venture out to surrounding taverns where the beer flows and Husky fans are welcomed with open arms.

One of my best memories was watching UConn’s magical run in last year’s Big East Tournament where the Huskies won 5 (count em’) FIVE games in FIVE days. The Huskies first beat DePaul on Tuesday, and somehow snuck by Georgetown Wednesday before I started legitimately thinking we had a shot with momentum in our favor. The next game during the Big East Championship week, the Huskies were due to play the highly talented Pitt Panthers in an afternoon battle at Madison Square Garden. I took a couple hours off work and walked on over to The Arch Street Tavern, which conveniently sits across from my office. I found my seat at the bar, ordered a Reuben sandwich and it was on. A back and forth battle throughout, the normally quiet Thursday lunchtime customers grew louder as the score became closer and final minutes turned into final seconds. Then it was time. With just a few seconds left on the game clock and all of Arch Street Tavern watching, Kemba Walker took control into his own hands and put Gary”Brittney Griner” McGhee on the ground with a step-back buzzer beater.

Notice Brittney Griner McGhee on the ground

Notice Brittney Griner McGhee on the ground

The Tavern erupted into complete mayhem. We shook hands, high fived (yes people still high five), and even found myself hugging complete strangers. It was that game where I started to truly believe UConn could be special in March. I liked my game watching experience so much that I’ve been back twice for UConn games already this season.

The guy with the glasses is CTs Governor Dan Malloy

The guy with the glasses is CT's Governor Dan Malloy

Another place I frequent is Damon’s Tavern which is a quick drive from my apartment in town. It’s a high quality sports bar and the best part is seeing the massive UConn banner when you walk inside. It’s also awesome for watching football games on Sundays but during March Madness, it turned into THE SPOT for UConn games. If you didn’t show up at least 2 hours before tip-off, you had to stand throughout the game.

We went to each NCAA Tournament UConn game and the energy inside was the best. Everyone was decked out in UConn gear and multiple fans led the infamous U-C-O-N-N UCONN! UCONN! UCONN! chant(almost TOO much). We watched each game their all the way to the end, where UConn earned its THIRD National Championship led by Kemba Walker and co. If you’re ever in the Hartford area, I highly recommend these spots for watching sports. I promise you won’t leave unsatisfied.

Please remember to vote for me as Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East Competition on the Big East website.Thank you!

http://www.bigeast.org/Sports/MensBasketball/MyBIGEASTVolvo2012_Profile_13.aspx

Biggest Fan of the Big East Blog Challenge #4

// January 5th, 2012 // 4 Comments » // Uncategorized

Thanks for coming back FWG readers. Hard to believe we’ve already reached the half-way point in Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East competition. Luckily, I’m still alive but need your votes! (http://tinyurl.com/6m6cywh) As know, I was selected to represent UConn as an alumni participant in this year’s competition. Volvo is hookin’ it up big time, sending all participants back to their Alma mater for a basketball game and hotel stay for a weekend. The best part of the visit (besides watching Jeremy Lamb sky dunk and eating Dippin’ Dots) is that we’ll all have a chance to drive the new Volvo S60 for the weekend and pretend it’s ours. Rumor has it the overall winner of the competition gets one of these Volvo S60’s, therefore all the more reason to follow me on twitter (@ctopherhall) and vote for your boy! This ties perfectly into our blog challenge #4 which is to “Create/Customize a Volvo S60 to show school spirit.”

icewhite

amazing.

amazing.

After going to many Husky sporting events and living in Connecticut, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of customized cars, decals and tailgating kits in my time. It doesn’t take a car enthusiast to know that the most important factor into customizing a vehicle is the exterior paint color. I need something that will get immediate attention. I know they can be hard to keep clean but I’d definitely go with Ice White. It’s unique and would really emphasize Jonathan the Husky’s white coat.

jonathan-the-husky1

As for the interior, I would surely add all the necessary bells and whistles-no brainer there. As mentioned, the outside is quite important but the inside of your car says a lot about you and can either make or break the driving/tailgating experience. Let’s start with the floor mats. I’d have two sets that I would interchange throughout the year depending on my mood. And I would obviously have to take my current UConn license plate cover and put it on the new Ice White Volvo S60. Best part of this plate cover(hard to see here) are the old school husky logos in the lower left hand corners. Can’t beat the throw back logos.license-cover

2011-uconn-championship-floormats

floormat1

A reserved parking sign is essential for the driveway or parking lot. A must have.

parking-sign

I would also make sure to keep the Volvo S60 covered rain or shine once I made my stop. That’s why this tailgate tent will come in handy.

uconn-tent

So there you have it. My ultimate Volvo S60 fully decked out with the essentials. Hopefully  I can make this customized car a reality with your help! Don’t forget to vote and stay tuned for Blog Challenge #5 next week!

Biggest Fan of the Big East Blog Challenge #3

// December 20th, 2011 // 5 Comments » // Uncategorized

Hello friends. Intern Chris here and I’m back for Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East challenge number 3. They want to know: “What are the top three Big East road trip towns and why?” While I’ve only been to couple Big East schools (Rutgers, South Florida and Providence, all of which I can proudly say UConn left victorious),  I would love the opportunity to see each and every school at some point in my life but for now, I’ll have to narrow it down to a few.

Since we all know our great conference has changed it’s landscape recently, I decided what better way to welcome the newest members in the club than spotlighting their universities in the best way possible. I decided the three best road trips (but really, direct flights in a private jet, then renting a VolvoS60) would be to the following newly added Big East members: San Diego State, Southern Methodist and Central Florida. Let’s go.

San Diego State: I could probably put San Diego with a big fat period and people would accept that as being perfectly okay. The name speaks for itself. One of the best climates in America, TWO MTV Real World seasons, and beaches? Yes please. I would LOVE to see the Aztec’s campus at some point in the near future and I just might have reason to. UConn takes on the Arizona Wildcats in men’s hoops next year during the 2012 Carrier Classic in Sunny San Diego. As if the Huskies facing the Wildcats wasn’t enough, here’s a time-lapse video clip of the court being set up earlier this year for the UNC-Michigan State battle earlier this year.

San Diego Zoo. I’m not a zoo guy really. I associate it smelling terrible, thousands of awkward middle schoolers getting in my way, and too much walking. However, the zoo trip suddenly increases its value when you throw “San Diego” in the title doesn’t it? What better place to give the zoo another try, right?

Pacific Beach. Any beach would be lovely but I’ve heard nothing but great things about Pacific Beach in San Diego. Supposedly they have some awesome restaurants and shopping along the streets and PB serves as a main center points for San Diego nightlife.

Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX): Unfortunately I’ve never been to Dallas. (I don’t count that layover flying home from Phoenix in May 2010). The City of Dallas has always intrigued me for the following reasons:

Walker Texas Ranger:

Chuck Norris won American Idol using Sign Language only.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders:

BBQ cuisine: I would have to stop by Sonny Bryan’s for some Texas style BBQ. With over 9 locations in the Dallas area alone, I think it’d be my first stop before checking in the hotel. Famous for their homemade barbeque sauce and onion rings, Sonny Bryan’s is must when visiting SMU.

Rodeos: Cowtown Coliseum, Mesquite Rodeo, The Fort Worth livestock show and Rodeo are all must stops if you’re in the Big D. Strap on a Canadian Tuxedo and hold on.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: (In case Rob didn’t see it the first time)

Central Florida (Orlando): Welcome to the Big East Conference South Florida’s little cousin! (I kid, I kid) I’m actually very eager to see the Knights join and even more excited to have another excuse to visit some family down in sunny Orlando, FL. Orlando is famous for the Backstreet Boys, O-Town, NSync, Disney World and Shaq. While there I plan to see…


Disney World:

Who doesn’t love Disney World? Time to hit up Epcot, MGM Studios, Universal Studios,  and the Magic Kingdom. Never too old for some Disney love.

Typhoon Lagoon. One of two water parks Disney operates in Orlando.  It’s a great place to unwind and relax. They have a lazy river tube ride, a massive wave pool, water coaster, and plenty of slides to choose from. Just don’t forget to wear flops or you’re bound to get athlete’s foot.

So there’s that. My top Big East road trips in no specific order. Orlando, Dallas and San Diego. It sort of feels weird saying Boise, Idaho, Tampa, Florida and Storrs, Connecticut are all going to belong to the same conference, doesn’t it? I dig it though. Just means more opportunity for road trips!

As always, your vote for me to win Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East competition is appreciated. Follow the link below and please please vote for your boy.

http://www.bigeast.org/Sports/MensBasketball/MyBIGEASTVolvo2012_Profile_13.aspx

A Perfect Storm…Of UCONN Greatness

// December 6th, 2011 // 6 Comments » // Uncategorized

So the second challenge in Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East competition is upon us. “Pick five or more things you have to do when you return to your Alma Mater (places to see, best bars, best food, cool places on campus, etc.”  Before I say another word, I need to set the record right out of the gate: UConn’s Ballard Institute of Museum and Puppetry will NOT be making my list of must see things when returning to campus because it smells like kindergarten and I’m pretty sure the puppets come alive at night.

c.r.e.e.p.y.

c.r.e.e.p.y.

Deep breath. Now we can continue.

The beautiful people over at Volvo are being more than generous by putting together an alma-mater weekend visit where I get to return to UConn and enjoy the things we all love about college. Upon my February arrival in tropical Storrs, Connecticut, I’ll be staying at the Nathan Hale Inn, checking out a UConn basketball game and will DEFINITELY hit up a lot of places I haven’t been to since graduating in 2008.

nathan

Now let me set the scene for what I consider to be the best 24-hour return trip back on campus.

1.  I’ll roll onto the scene driving a Volvo S60 while BUMPIN’ Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (Yeah, did I mention Volvo’s also hooking me up with a ride for the weekend trip?). The windows will be down regardless of temperature and I’m going to give a lot of “what’s up bro?” head nods throughout campus. It’s what I do. Before even checking into the hotel, I’m stopping at Ted’s Restaurant & Bar for a buffalo chicken grinder and a pitcher of their Big Blue Drink. Not sure what’s in it, but I know it’s delicious and good for you. Ted’s is literally smaller than most Citgo Convenience Stores but has all the character a college bar could ask for. Good food, good people, and I can’t think of a time where I left unsatisfied. They have great specials ($1 pitchers when you order a large pizza, seriously?!) and what’s best is alums from all ages still go before sports games. It’s got a neighborhood feel to it, which is my kind of place. Love it all.

volvo_s60_3

Isn't she lovely?

Isn't she lovely?

2. After a quick nappy back in the hotel, I’ll be in the mood for some zerts. That’s when I’ll mosey on over to the UConn Dairy Bar for a two scoop sundae. Husky Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, whipped cream, hot fudge, and shots. I’ll do the same routine I always do. Where I’ll know exactly what I’m getting way before hand but still take a moment and pretend to be mulling over such a large variety of options to make it appear as though I’m not a regular or anything. The UConn Dairy Bar is a staple on campus and no matter when you go, there’s a line. The DB makes their ice cream from Cows raised in the barn right on campus. Some find it gross, I find it to add character, not to mention very fresh. I can honestly say it’s the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Yes it’s that good and yes it’s better than all other Big East ice cream spots. Taste test, anytime, anywhere.

dairy-bar

3. Then to burn off some of the thousands of calories I would’ve consumed at this point, I’ll probably try to sneak inside the Greer Fieldhouse for some intramural action. I LOVED intramural sports at UConn. I refereed. I kept score. I played. I watched. I was all about it. UConn has a great Recreational Sports program for its students on campus. It’s always competitive and makes for some great memories. What makes the field house extra special to me as a die-hard UConn fan, is how the little old Greer Fieldhouse used to be called home for UConn basketball. It shows how far both the Men’s and Women’s programs have come in just a few decades. My dad, also an alum, still talks about buying a ticket for $1 and seeing UConn get trounced on by the likes of Holy Cross and Yale. It made playing a co-ed soccer game on a Tuesday night have all the more meaning and really lets you appreciate how lucky we are to have such elite basketball programs.

greer

4. Jonathan, the Husky Dog Statue. Right next to Greer Fieldhouse stands this guy. Jonathan the Husky is probably the #1 picture parents crave after their son or daughter graduates from UConn. The line takes forever but it’s beyond worth the wait. Some people attempt to jump on for a ride, some kiss his checks and some just stand with a smile. As a true Husky fan, I can’t walk by without a quick pat on Johnny boy’s head.

huskyjohn

5. Time to get some swag at the UConn Co-Op, Husky Shop. This is the best place to go for all UConn apparel. They have everything UConn here. Sweatshirts, game jerseys, hats, umbrellas, oven mitts (what’s up mom?), golf tees, tailgating gear, etc. Whenever I’m back on campus, stopping at the Co-Op is a must and usually I can’t leave without spending at least $50 on something. I’ve also been known to complete my Christmas shopping here. (alum discount!)

uconn-co-op_3

GAME TIME-Jim Calhoun yells, folds his arms, and then stares at his bench coaches for answers. Jeremy Lamb scores 26, Huskies slaughter their competition, I continue my visit.

he's happy, I swear.

he's happy, I swear.

6. Student Union for dinner. Commonly known as “The Union” or just “The U,” UConn’s state of the art Student Union Center is awesome. There are meeting rooms, chill rooms, a movie theater, a game center, a restaurant, and a food court filled with people all night and day. My favorite part however, is getting a Burrito in the Mexican food line. They PACK these burritos to the max and it leaves you stuffed for hours. I’ve heard a terrible rumor they’ve gotten stingy with the amount they put in the burritos, therefore all the more reason for a visit so I can see for myself. For their sake, I hope the rumor is false or things might get REAL.

buritto

7. Memorial Stadium. UConn’s old football stadium. It’s basically the size of most Texas High School stadiums and like the Greer Fieldhouse, Memorial Stadium represents how far UConn’s football program has come in just 10 years. I’ve been known to jog the stairs for an early morning workout here (okay ilike 3 times ever but still) and spend hours kicking 34 yard field goals just in case coach calls me for a tryout. Your move Paul Pasqualoni.

memstadium

8. Huskies. Probably the most popular bar on campus. Infamously known for its “Thursday Night Nickel Night,” Huskies is where it’s at if you’re looking to get after it. Nickel drinks before 9pm, then the DJ comes in and people just get weird. Cell phones in toilets, girls crying over sorority drama, bros in packs grinding up EVERYWHERE, screaming bartenders, the buffest of bouncers and people packed in like sardines. God, I miss this place.

huskiesbar

9. After Huskies has last call and you can avoid a drink being thrown on you or a fight leaving the parking lot, a lot of people would get pizza on their walk home. Since it’s on the way back to my hotel, I’m getting a Buffer Zone at DP Dough. It truly is the best/worst late night Calzone anyone can ask for. The buffer zone is stuffed with buffalo chicken chunks, blue cheese, onions, among other unhealthy items. Oh and they deliver. Oh and it’s only $5. It’s fantastic and horrible all at the same time.

dpdough

10- I’ll likely wake up in a bath robe 10 lbs heavier. Time to warm up the Volvo S60 and head back home. Phil Collins “One More Night” will be on repeat the entire ride back just because I feel sorry for myself. Single tear streaming down my face as I leave the best University in all the Big East. Notre Dame doesn’t count. What is this partially committed business? GO HUSKIES!

Vote for Chris in his quest to be crowned Volvo’s “Biggest Fan of the Big East!” He needs our support. Vote here.

Big East Dream Team

// November 22nd, 2011 // 6 Comments » // Uncategorized

You can’t really talk college basketball without thinking of the Big East conference. Though it’s changed it’s make-up from time to time, several characteristics remain the same. The conference has a rich history for smash mouth basketball, intense rivalries, dominant players, legendary coaches, and oh yeah, who can forget those 5 days in early March where all 16 teams battle it out at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” in the heart of New York City? I was recently asked who I thought made the All Big East Dream Team. Natural instinct was spouting off 10 players from my alma mater (see Huskies, UConn) but knew that would be completely one sided, so I put down my UConn kool-aid and got my think on. I tried to keep the bigger picture in mind and diversify my picks when choosing a squad of dream-team worthy players. Wasn’t too sure on how to break it down. Maybe by position? The era they played in? National popularity? Biggest ladies man? (Mike Nardi would’ve come in dead last) Well after hemming and hawing for days, I decided the best way to approach this was to break it down by who meant the most to their program then and now. The following 5 players make my All Big East Dream Team and here’s why:


1. Patrick “Chewing” Ewing, Georgetown.

For me, there’s no debate Ewing is one of the best college ball players of all time. He was the first real star the Big East had ever seen. The NBA Hall of Famer remains the most popular Big East alum almost 30 years later. He was a dominate presence on the court and lived up to all his hype. Oh yeah, and he led the Hoyas to 3 NCAA Final appearances. No brainer here folks.



2. Allen Iverson, Georgetown.

Dude only played 2 years in the league so some might gaff that I have him ranked so high, but look what he did in just two seasons at Georgetown. A.I. finished with 1,539 total points and would likely have shattered the Big East scoring record if he stayed all four years before declaring for the NBA draft after his sophomore year. In 1995 Iverson was Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year. He repeated his Defensive Player of the Year honors in 96′ along while being named a First Team Consensus All-American. Some off the court issues tarnished his legacy in the NBA, but no one can argue how truly dominant he was in his freshman and sophomore years in the Big East. Let’s not forget how SICK those Iverson sneakers were either.


3. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Connecticut.

When you ask UConn fans who their favorite Husky is of all time, most would say Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor or Kemba Walker. For me, Rip Hamilton takes the crown as best Husky of all time. Standing 6′7 and probably 170 lbs soaking wet, Rip was a prolific scoring threat and to this day fans undervalue how significant he was to the school and UConn’s program. Although there were some key figures before and after his time, Rip simply gets the nod here by leading UConn to their first ever National Championship in 1999 and REALLY put the Huskies on the map. Did I mention they beat the almighty DUKE BLUE DEVILS who were heavily favored that year?  UConn wouldn’t be where they’re at today without this guy, and for that I am forever grateful.

4. Chris “Look at that hair” Mullin, St. John’s.

Mullin could be ranked on the haircut alone and I don’t think we’d have any argument there. He was of the best pure shooters in college basketball history and definitely a pioneer in making the Big East what it is today. He had three straight years where he was named “Conference Player of the Year,” and was 87.8% from the free throw line. He also had 57.7%  shooting percentage from the field. What makes that even more impressive? All of Mullin’s numbers were put together BEFORE the college game installed the three-point line. Can you imagine how many more points he could’ve had? Scary good. Truly legendary.


5. Kerry Kittles, Villanova.

Aside from having one of the best college basketball names of all time, Kittles is currently Villa-no-fun’s all time leader in steals and scoring which says a lot for such a storied program.  He finished his career ranked 2nd in made field goals, compiled 2,243 total points and his 715 rebounds are the most boards by a guard in Big East history. He was named Player of the Year in 1995 and was a First Team Consensus All American in 96′. Kittles kind of fizzled out in the NBA due to injuries early on, but he will be remembered as one of the most dominant players in Big East history on both sides of the ball. (That’s what she said)


image.png6th/7th Man Award: Kemba “Pittsburgh Center Gary McGhee Will Never Recover After That Crossover Dribble and Buzzer Beater Shot I Hit In His Face To Advance In The Big East Tournament” Walker and Carmelo Anthony are neck and neck here. I decided to put these two guys in the same boat since they remind me a lot of each other. Not their physical attributes nor their their timeline of success. But the similarity they share is how they each had one magical year where nothing could go wrong and it eventually led to a National Championship trophy for their school. (It should be noted during Carmelo’s championship season in with Syracuse in 2003, UConn beat them twice, just side information if you’re keeping score at home). Both got hot at the right time and were completely dominant when it mattered most, tournament time.

Need more proof? Check this out.

Dreamiest Coach: Jay Wright, Villanova.

Half the reason fans that go to Wildcat’s games in Philly are for a peak at George Clooney, I mean, Jay Wright. He’s got the three T’s: Tall, tan and toned. And that’s not all you get with a former Naismith Coach of the Year. Coach Wright has been known to partake in flash mobs on campus.

He’s the man.

——Chris the Intern

Chris is participating Volvo’s Biggest Fan of The Big East Contest. You can support Chris, who has been eating Ramen noodles every day despite graduating from college years ago, by voting HERE.  He needs your help!!!!! Help keep Chris the Intern off the streets and vote HERE

The Student’s Perspective: Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky, and What It Means To Be A Nittany Lion

// November 15th, 2011 // 8 Comments » // Uncategorized

penn-state

The ongoing, evolving situation at Penn State continues to raise eyebrows and churn stomachs as details continue to emerge from State College.  Last week I had the opportunity to diverge from my traditional, good humored spot on ESPN Radio and breakdown the player’s perspective on what I saw as a systemic failure of accountability at one of the nation’s premiere football and academic institutions.  I realized that my perspective might not be a little “out of touch” as far as the college football players perspective;  but I am not and never have been a student at Penn State.

My experience at PSU is limited to recruiting visits and football camps.  So I decided to reach out to a current Penn State student.  I originally intended to craft a piece pulling quotes from her answers to my broad stroke instructions,  “Give students perspective on the firing and the atmosphere on campus.”  Instead, I offer her response in its (powerful) entirety.

This past week has been extremely emotional for everyone here at Penn State. A mix of emotions from anger, to hurt, to betrayal, to heartbreak has turned Happy Valley into a somber, solemn place. We hurt because the man who has represented our beloved University as a symbol of honor and integrity for 46 years has been revealed to be so much less of what we thought we loved and cherished so deeply. We question how this horrible scandal will affect our degrees and reputation, that only a few days ago were held in such high esteem, when we are finally faced in the real world. But above all, we hurt because of the disgusting crimes Jerry Sandusky committed and the lives he destroyed so close to our home. For a University whose students have single-handedly created the largest student-run philanthropy in the world for children with cancer to have to turn around and apologize for crimes against children, harming them in the worst way possible, is absolutely disgraceful and horrifying. I hope that the rest of the nation will place the blame on those who rightfully deserve it and not denounce the students for this man’s actions.

As for those who rioted on behalf of Joe Pa’s firing, coming from a person who has spoken to many and saw the events occur downtown, it is not because they were protecting a child molester. It was because the center of their Penn State world was taken away in such a blunt, aggressive way, that causing commotion was the only outlet to that anger. I also feel that at that point, many did not understand what exactly the means of Joe Paterno’s allegations were, failing to have read the Grand Jury Indictment yet.

However, I also can say with all honesty that these people represented such a small portion of the student body, and that their actions are insignificant compared to how the majority of the students reacted to this situation. I hope that how the media portrayed Penn State that night does not overshadow the more prominent events that actually took place here in University Park this weekend.

On Friday night, a candle light vigil was organized by the students held on the lawn of Old Main, our Central Administrative Building, to pay our respect and show support for the victims of child abuse and sexual assault. Over ten thousands students huddled together as we reflected in silence, listened to many inspiring speeches from our peers, and created a new mission to “fight until no child is harmed again.” That night we vowed that our call of duty was to rise above these allegations, and I believe that the students will continue to do so to no prevail.  On Saturday, Beaver Stadium flooded in a sea of intense emotion and the color blue as the students dedicated the game to victims of child abuse in a “Blue Out”. Never before have I seen the stadium more packed or a heard a more powerful “We Are” chant– even as the players exited the field after losing to Nebraska.

We may have thought we lost our center of Penn State Football due to the recent events, but at that moment, I think each of us realized that the essence of Penn State isn’t Joe Paterno, it is the students and the players that make it so special. We came together that day for the victims and the players, not for Joe Pa’s “legacy.” We showed that amidst the crumbling of what we thought was Penn State, we would stick together stronger than ever and focus on what the real issues were, and those were the children affected.

These are the first of many evolving events that are going to show the nation that Penn State is not Jerry Sandusky or the rest of the people involved with the scandal. We all feel betrayed and repulsed by the actions (or lack thereof) brought upon by the leaders of our school, but we will not let them define us as students and will fight until our name is honorable once again. From the outside looking in, you would never understand that the Penn State student body grew stronger than ever this past weekend. We will continue to grow through this scandal to better our University beyond what it was in the past. I  could not be less proud of the actions of the men I once respected, but I will always be proud to be a Penn Stater and that I can say with my whole heart.



Reacting To The Penn State Scandal: FWG On ESPN Radio

// November 14th, 2011 // 7 Comments » // Uncategorized

The tragedy of this entire situation at Penn State is the failure of people (legends!) to properly report and handle situations that hold no moral ambiguity.  The role of college coaches is molding young athletes to eventually contribute to society outside the game, and the lessons they impart have so much to do with good decision making.   A basic, fundamental level of critical analysis that Paterno and McQueery failed to execute.  When you get into discussions about “will this taint his legend” or “….you have to look at the body of work” the answers are, respectively, Yes and you can’t pick and choose your moments that will reflect on you as a person.  It would be great to wrap JoePa up in this tight little package of winning-est coach, eternal tenure, and old fashioned values and representing State College with dignity and grace.  Unfortunately, this latest, more pressing, more blatant action (or lack thereof) seems to be the bow that ties the entire thing together.
I commend Penn State students and alumni for handling the situation with the outpouring of emotion and support it so rightly deserves.
fwg-espn-radio

Looking Ahead: Baltimore Ravens

// October 27th, 2011 // 4 Comments » // Uncategorized

Per my recent tweets (follow me @thefatwhiteguy) about the NFL “castrating defenses” rule changes, I decided it was time to look at defenses and good teams around the NFL. Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens Schedule – Games to Watch This Season

The Baltimore Ravens lead the AFC North into another hard-hitting season of football, and there are plenty of reasons to be a Ravens fan this season (yes, even though I’m not) The Baltimore Ravens Schedule is packed full of thrilling matchups that will take fans into 2012, and with some tough AFC battles on the itinerary, it's sure to be an exciting year for Baltimore. Here are some of the most anticipated matchups of the year for the Ravens as the regular season unfolds.

Week 11, Bengals at Ravens:

The Ravens don't play division rival Cincinnati until Week 11, though they will then turn around and play them again in Week 17. The first of the two divisional matchups will take place in Baltimore, and this is one game that will help determine the postseason as the AFC North teams head to M&T Bank Stadium.

Week 14, Colts at Ravens:

The Colts may or may not have Peyton Manning back behind the ball for Week 14, and the Ravens are certainly hoping Manning isn’t on his A-game if he’s in the lineup. Baltimore and Indianapolis are two teams that meet in the playoffs more than occasionally, and both teams will get to see what the other is made of during this late-season melee. Manning or no Manning, expect this one to draw huge crowds to the stadium between two teams that are very familiar with one another.

Week 15, Ravens at Chargers:

The Ravens have a tough two-game stretch against the Chargers and Colts sandwiched in between games in Weeks 13 and 16 against division rival the Cleveland Browns, putting some massive pressure on the team at the end of the regular season. The Chargers are another tough AFC team the Ravens very well might face in the playoffs this year, and Week 15 will be a good indicator of where both teams stand closer to the postseason.