Wednesday, February 16, 2005

2005 US Army All-American Bowl

Somebody mentioned in an email that they had seen the Army All-American game in a bar. I can do you one better: I saw it on my couch.

9:08 – You’re looking LIVE at the AlamoDome, home to today’s “US Army All-American Bowl”, featuring 72 All-American high school football players, many of whom are going to announce their college choice today live, a fun way for each player to individually reinforce the game’s unspoken message to high schoolers: don’t join the army!
Accoring to Tom Lemming, a ‘recruiting guru’ and the color man today, USC’s current class isn’t in the top 10. Michigan is #1 with Tennessee #2.
9:11 – Maurice Wells becomes the first of our Future Soldiers-in-the-Kellen-Winslow-sense to declare his intentions for next year. The format for these declarations – which might be unique in all of TV - is that the kid is standing there surrounded by family, friends and hangers on, the sideline guy says, ‘tell us where you’re going,’ and then the guy reaches into a gym bag and pulls out the hat for his choice. Earlier they showed Adrian Peterson from a year ago picking OU. So Maurice Wells, a somewhat smallish, dreadlocked skinny kid who is apparently the top running back from the State of Florida, takes the Mic and throws out – minimum – 7 or 8 shout-outs: his neighborhood, his high school, several names like ‘li’ hank’ and ‘tyree’ and a woman named Jessica something. The sideline guy rips away the mic and tells him to get on with it – Ohio State.
Or rather, “Ohio State, baby.”
9:13 – Mark Sanchez, USC’s #1 QB recruit brings the West out. First play is a double reverse which goes nowhere. There are definetly some Matt Leinart related-program activities going on with this guy. Among other things, he has Leinart’s eyes and eyesbrows, Leinhart’s hair and Leinart’s general look of casual confusion.
9:14 – And here’s another: Sanchez drops the snap under center – maybe he IS the next Leinart. YES!!!
(pre-requisite on that joke is Leinart’s final offensive play of the season, a fumbled snap in garbage time against OU, but, really, it’s not a very good joke, so let’s discuss a better one, namely that that fumble was in the endzone and went for a safety, which cost USC two more points against OU and, evidently, three first-place votes in the final AP poll that instead went to Auburn. Sounds reasonable – with that safely, OU closed to within 36 of SC. Not exactly convincing, especially not when Auburn was taking apart Va Tech so badly that the Tigers had to milk 2 full minutes out of their last 3 snaps to avoid a punt that would have given Va Tech a look at winning the game. Hard to understand why it wasn’t a split title, in fact. Or Auburn’s outright)
9:15 – The East takes the field behind a QB named Paulus – who, rather than face the impossibility of living up to his name in the college football world, will instead play point guard for Duke, which, as an ugly white guy, he looks well qualified for.
9:20 – During a sideline interview, “Gametime” Raymond Henderson, a big ol’ boy, promises his college pick will “shock the nation.”
He picks Tennessee.
9:21 – The nation’s shock enters it’s second minute.
9:22 – Sanchez on first-down drops a perfect 30-odd yard pass into the arms of DeShaun Jackson who runs the rest of the way for a PERECT 68 yard TD. Just awesome, and both ends of that play are going to USC. Whoo hoo!
And the refs call it back for a – ready? – illegal man downfield. In an all-star game? Are you kidding?
Although in the ref’s defense, we’re all still a little shocked.
9:24 – I don’t know the names of either guy involved, but on the last snap, the West ran a run to the left, it was whistled dead mid-play and everybody pulled up except one East linebacker who went through a West tight end like wind through an open door. Shattering hit. If you haven’t seen a sports event in 10 years, you’ll be shocked to learn a fight nearly breaks out.
9:26 – Here are the rules: defenses must play 4-3, cannot blitz and 3rd and 4th down must be man to man. But let’s call back a 68yarder for a man downfield.
9:28 – West punts and it’s a FUMBLED SNAP!!!! However, the punter from Texas (“west” apparently stretches to Mississippi) booms it once he gets a handle on it. Clearly on the replay, he was baffled by the ridiculous gray-with-spiral-stripes Arena-league ball the game is being played with.
9:30 – Here’s a Big Ol’ White Boy with the biggest jaw on the field, Dan Doering, an O-lineman. He picks…. Iowa. This was the third guy to announce, all of whom (according to the helpful onscreen graphics) had Tennessee as a finalist. Shocking.
9:38 – Here’s a kicker named Zolton. Let’s see – 18 – that means born in ‘86. Were the 80s really so bad – really so soul-crushingly awful – that new parents of the day had to take it out on a generation? This isn’t new – watch the MTV reality show of your choice. Genesis, Ibis, Talan. Did Def Lepard really screw people up that badly? You think it’s funny now, but we’re 10 years away from having to deal with a population of adults named like infomercial exercise equipment. And Microsoft Word appears satisfies with the word ‘infomercial.’ Doom!
9:42 – Debut of Ryan Perilloux, Texas’ star QB recruit, and very definetly the owner of the best high school quarterback website on earth. He comes into the game and lays a beautiful 40-yard pass on a receiver, which gets knocked away by a defender but draws a flag for interference.
9:45 – Lemming calls Perilloux a “tuck-and-run” QB (that’s ‘black’ in recruit-speak). While Lemming is saying this, they show clips of Perilloux in high school throwing consecutive Pac 10-caliber 30-yard ropes, and he promptly does the same in our game, on top of the 40-yarder from a minute ago. Wonder if Greg Davis will get him to tuck and run that well.
9:46 – fumble!!!
9:47 – Time for another declaration!!!! Ryan Somebody, whose brother just enlisted in the army (there’s a wrenching social justice story in there somewhere) is going to “Iowa, baby!!!!”
That’s two for Iowa and three “Baby”s in four declarations.
9:51 - David Gettis, a tall receiver, is up. From Dorsey high (famous alum: Darryl Strawberry) in Los Angeles, Gettis has it narrowed to – can this be right? – Arizona State, Cal and… Baylor.
Huh? Pick Baylor, pick Baylor, PLEASE pick Baylo- BAYLOR!!!!!! YES!!!!
But… Really?
9:52 – Seriously – what’s going on here?
9:53 – Oh. He’s some sort of super-hurdler. Baylor for track. Got it.
9:54 – Ha!! A punt returner named House just had a moment. He caught the punt, when right, found nothing, came back left across the field and still had nothing. Obviously House and everybody else isn’t used to playing aganst guys as fast them but House pulls a classic – after he cut back across the field looking for a whole, no less than 4 West guys closed on him, without a single East guy within 15 yards, a situation House reacted to by giving the universal point-sign for ‘block him.’ Like who?
9:59 – Oh, wow. Honestly, one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a sports event. Taken in it’s total big-picture sense, probably one of my top 10 favorite sporting moments ever. Wow.
Let me lay out what just happened.
Sanchez, who in the small amount of time he’s getting here is clearly a complete stud, threw a lovely post pattern to DeSean Jackson, who, despite the terrible stuff I’m about to say about him, is clearly the best non-QB on the field.
So on a post pattern, Jackson’s defender fell down, leaving him all alone over the last 20 or so yards to endzone.
So… Jackson went for one of those head first dive-from-the-five-yardline things. Only two things.
One, he clearly couldn’t jump far enough because he put one of his hands down at the two and tried to convert the move into a cartwheel-into-the-endzone.
But that meant he had to put his other hand down as part of the cartwheel – the one carrying the football.
Of course, he doesn’t think so.
After the play, he spends a minute taunting and celebrating and then comes over and starts yelling and pointing at the endzone as the refs stand there talking about how they are going to rule it.
Here is what they clearly have to do – the ball should be down at the 1, since he put the ball down there during the cartwheel and the ground can’t cause a fumble. I was hoping they’d rule it a turnover or touchback but clearly he was down.
Which is what the refs do – though they also tack on 15 yards for sportsmanship, which means a breakaway TD is now first and goal from the 16.
That was awesome.
10:02 – Sanchez pulls everybody out the fire by hitting some kid wide open for the TD.
10:06 – They just interviewed Kevin Jones, the Va Tech stud and this year’s NFL rookie rush leader. So coming back next year for the Eagles is Joey Harrington, who I still believe in, the NFL’s best sophomore RB in Jones, Roy Williams and Charles Rodgers, both of whom were hurt this year. Not a bad core.
10:08 – A KNEE!!! A giant lineman from Hampton, VA suffers a good, nasty, crippling knee. Not only can he not put weight on it, it hurts so bad he can’t even stand on his good leg and has to be carried. Sorry kid, but look at this way – when you get back, at least the schools who still want you will have a playoff.
10:13 – An east receiver named Rouse outjukes 3 guys on a slant but it gets called back for – ready? – illegal formation. Fans of income tax, near-beer and PG-13 movies everywhere rejoice.
10:18 – Purdue just pulled off the worst come-from-behind-to-tie in NCAA history. Sorry, different channel, but let’s discuss it:
With .9 seconds left on the clock and a tie game in overtime, Indiana Guy gets two free-throws. Makes one. Now, with .9 seconds left, NO WAY Purdue goes coast to coast for a winning shot, so you miss the freethrow right?
Nope – the guy does the ‘accidentally make it’ thing. Purdue can now run an inbounds play. The IU coach is going ape shit over it.
So IU doesn’t cover the inbounds which is REALLY bad but then when Purdue completes the Laetner-like fullcourt pass to Tall Purdue Guy under the other basket and he spins for an akward shot, Indiana FOULS him. The guy, obviously, makes the shot and now can go to the line and WIN the damn game.
And here’s the best part – the shot came after time expired and would not have counted but the FOUL foul came before time expired which meant he was allowed to finish the shot, regardless of the time.
So, quickly, IU’s mistakes – made the freethrow when missing would have sealed the game; didn’t cover the inbounds for a full-length pass; allowed the catch; fouled the shooter; did so in regulation to allow his late shot to count.
So Purdue steps to the line to win the game and… clank. Double OT. I’m quite sure it seems breathlessly exciting for everybody there, but come on…
10:19 – Back in the AlamoDome, a guy from Florida who missed his whole senior year is going to… Florida, “God willing.”
10:25 – Cool. West runs a reverse on a punt return, which gives two guys the chance to lay two savage downfield blocks and the play goes for 30 yards.
10:26 – Sanchez, back at QB, just misses Jackson deep.
10:28 – Sanchez hits a 39yarder to the Baylor guy with a perfect deep fade – don’t get used to it kid.
10:35 – During his declaration, a huge samoan linebacker lets his dad pull the hat out of the bag. Dad promptly puts it on his own head, and does so at such a pitched-up angle that you can’t see who it is. The kid, clearly pissed, rips it off dad’s head and, with a snarl at his dad says, “Southern California.” Sanchez runs in and hugs the guy.
10:41 – Sanchez, fresh off the TD and hug, gets handed some National Player of the Year award and he promptly thanks the Lord, the US Army, the city of San Antonio, his all star coach and the all star coach’s wife. Really.
That does it: Sanchez is the Next Big Thing.
10:43 – Cartwheel-King DeSean Jackson goes airborne to wrestle a would-be-interception away from the defensive back, completing a judo-type spin in midair to comedown with the ball. Best play of the game – and he deliberately, calmly hands the ball to the ref. Way to learn your lesson, young player!!!
10:44 – Perilloux hits another TD pass over the middle. Sanchez’s GOP-like image control aside, Perilloux is a dominant player. He’s 4 years better than the East’s defense and at least a couple past his own teammates.
11:01 – The West is up by about 200 points and Mandy just got up, so further updates may be sporadic.
11:06 – A player named Dayl Warley just picked Notre Dame. The sideline guy tries to get him to talk about the coaching change by saying, “say hello to your new coach.”
“Hey coach, HAAAAAAA!”
11:19 – Another Big ol’ White Boy is given some sort of Myoplex Strongest-Teenager-In-The-World award, and promptly picks OU.
11:50 – DeSean Jackson takes a double reverse and throws to Perriloux, who has snuck down into the endzone for still another TD.

That’s enough.