Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Thursdays With Raider: The Mayans Were Right


Raider Thoughts

For at least the past three or four days now, I’ve had the end of days on my mind.  I do so not because an ancient civilization predicted our doom manycenturies ago, but because of this:

Let me set the scene in case you weren’t following along last Wednesday.  Warriors are playing the Heat in Miami, and the Dubs lead for large portions of the game.  Well, the Heat, being the defending NBA Champions and what not, came back and tied the game at 95.  On the Warriors final possession of the game, Jarrett Jack has the ball at the top of the key.  While he’s looking for either a shot or someone to pass to, Shane Battier heads off to double team Klay Thompson when all of the sudden, rookie Draymond Green is underneath the basket, whereby he lays it up with 0.9 left on the clock.  Crowd stunned, Warriors Win, my Twitter timeline explodes, etc.

Now, normally, I would consider this to be one of the flashes of brilliance the Warriors are capable of, which usually occurs once every 1-2 seasons or so.  But get this: the Warriors are 16-8 right now, and doing the vast majority of it without Andrew Bogut and pretty good bench player in Brandon Rush.  This just doesn’t happen to this team, in fact, I was a mild mannered student at John Baldwin Elementary in Danville, California the last time the Dubs started off a season 8 games above .500.  So if I were you, I’d start stocking up on canned goods and weaponry.

I even had the restraint to wait a few paragraphs to discuss the fact that none of this would have been possible were it not for the fact that the Warriors lost games on purpose (allegedy) last season to keep the #7 pick, which ended up being Harrison Barnes, away from the Jazz.  As someone who lives here in SaltLake and happens to be a fan of another NBA team, you sort of develop a very weird interaction with their fan base.  During last season after Monta Ellis got traded, one guy got mad at me like I was Sauron of Mordor when I was at the bar watching a Warriors game because we were “stupid enough to trade away our best player”.  Look, I know this is a hard thing for some here to understand, but we’re really good at losing basketball games, so why not use that to our advantage for a change?

(Bear in mind that this could all come crashing down on us in about a month when this year’s team plays the Clippers a few times, the Nuggets again, along with the Spurs, Thunder, Blazers, Mavericks, Grizzlies and a re-match with the Heat at Oracle Arena.  So if you all wouldn’t mind if I just enjoyed this brief sojurn into NBA relevance, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks.)

(Oh, and I just realized I just got nerd all over your blog with that Lord of the Rings reference.  My bad.)

Other things:

–I must congratulate Utah State for their football season and in particular toGary Anderson.  Aside from a few statistical outliers, I’ve never had much of a grievance with Aggie folk, and truth be told, it’s very hard for me to hate a schoolwhere one of its biggest traditions involves making out under a full moon.

To add to that bullet point, how long do you think Gary stays there?  I could see him settling in for a good long while, but optimism has been a bane to me in the past.

–My anger and bitterness towards the NFL still doesn’t prevent me from a good LOL Chiefs bellylaugh.  Seriously, if you think your team (like mine) is in a mess, you could be KC.  One man, Sebastian Janikowski, scored more points by himself yesterday than the Chiefs, Giants, Jaguars, Bucs, Chargers and the Lions.  I’m not sure what I would do if they get Star for their #1 pick, but we shallswerve over that bridge when we get there.

–Speaking of the really high draft picks, I keep reading on the internet corners of the Raider Nation that with whatever pick we end up getting that Reggie McKenzie should trade down and get many more picks out of it.  Look, that’s great in theory, but there would have to be a team that would be willing to dogive up a bunch of their picks for a guy they really want, but unless there’s ateam with a lot of picks that doesn’t need them or you’re the Mike Ditka era Saints and you’re in the presence of a once in a generation kind of stupid, it’s not terribly practical.

–Let me get to something somewhat Ute-related and look ahead to Jan 2…if there is a Jan 2, and the Arizona State game.  I’m not expecting to win this gameand I really can’t explain why, other than I have a bad feeling about it.  Prove my worry-wort philosophy wrong!…

…or retire to the underground bomb shelter like I’m going to on Friday.

MAC Thoughts

I’ll start this story off with an interesting one of my own.  The wife is out of town tending to some family bidness so I’m left to do somethings to my own devices.  But I’ve also got a three year old so there are also limitation.  I went to try a new Mexican fast food place a few blocks away, El Taco Tote is it’s name and its mostly a Texas place with actual franchises in Mexico.  In any event, the place also has a bar in it.  So I was able to give my kid chicken nachos, rice and beans (the kid loves rice and beans) for cheap while I drank $3 margaritas and simultaneously watched Utah St. on the Blue and Eastern Washington v Sam Houston St. on the red turf.  I’m not sure my eyes have recovered.

As for Utah St., I’ve really developed a love hate relationship with them.  Because I don’t really have anything against them, I don’t.  But anytime they have the smallest amount of success they pretend like they’ve just won a national title.  I mean this was a great year, but it’s not like this Aggie team is national title material.  I mean they lost to BYU, took a horrible PI call to beat us in a game where both Wynn and White got hurt.  So ya know, you’re good but lets calm down a little.

As for Gary staying, I’m not sure why he would.  Chris Peterson enjoys money and the full support of the state and fans who at least show up to games.  USU fans don’t go to games and only sold 3000 tickets to their bowl game.  And it’s not like those roll around every year for the Aggies.  So maybe he didn’t like the jobs that were open this year.  But I think he’s a fool if he stays.  It’s Utah St. for God Sakes.

As for the NBA, I think I need to find my way back in some how.  I gave up on them some time ago but I am curious, so I need to find a team.  I had become a hockey fan and then they went and murdered hockey.

BTW, I’m all in for baseball this spring.  Trout, Pujols, and now Mr. Josh Hamilton (plus if they don’t deal Mr. Trumbo).  As I have said about Peyton Manning, he makes cheering for your team easier.  I’ve never been a Yankees fan, but the fact that your team will pay whatever it takes to try to win, well it’s a lot more fun than being a Rockies fan.  Plus Spring Training is just up the road for me.  It’s weird Arizona is full of totally crazy people but being warm all the time makes up for A LOT.

Finally, as for the Utes Pac-12 opener in Arizona.  First I will say that I’ll be attending both games.  Second, I don’t have a great feeling.  ASU is playing for Sendek’s job and just might have a team worthy of saving it.  And if you saw any part of Arizona-Florida this weekend, or at least the last minute or so, you know that Arizona isn’t a bad team.

I too am troubled about that roadie.  But on the other side I’ll see Oral Roberts and former Ute Shawn Glover vs Arizona tomorrow night, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Raider Thoughts

Speaking of USU and Gary, I have a theoretical exercise for you.  Let’s assume for a moment that in a few years from now–if there is a few years from now–that Kyle is no longer the head football coach.  No, I’m not pining for him to not coach here, so just calm down, we’re all friends here.  Provided Gary is still in Logan, would you make him the primary candidate?  I mean, he’s not Jeff Judkins so there’s no chance he’ll end up in Provo, but why not go after him if that day comes?

As someone who is “all in” for baseball and specifically the Giants every single year and it’s been this way for me for a while now, there’s that “go to spring training in Scottsdale” item that sits prominently on my Bucket List.  But I have to express some surprise that the Angels didn’t make the playoffs last year, despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly a well kept secret that their bullpen wasn’t up to snuff.  Maybe if the A’s don’t play out of their minds during the second half of the year, maybe the Angels make at worst the 2nd Wild Card, but one would think that with a core of Pujols, Hamilton, Trout and whatever their pitching gives you, that they’ll get a World Series title…eventually.

Still, I’ve always been sort of partial to building teams through the draft, especially when you consider that the current core of the Giants (and for the purposes of this argument, I’ll consider Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and for better or worse Brandon Belt, the core) is largely “homegrown” talent.  A lot of Giants fans think the front office ought to spend more on free agents, but that kind of thinking got us “Barry Zito: 7 years, $126 million”.  There was even a little bit of grumpiness about not making a bigger play for Josh Hamilton, but quite honestly, I don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings about Hamilton patrolling Triple’s Alley at AT&T Park.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not impying that Hamilton would be a defensive liability, but it’s 421 feet to right-center.  Playing either CF or RF in that ballpark is a man’s game, and I’d rather take my chances at this point with either a potential prospect in Gary Brown, who a lot of people believe is the Giants #1 overall prospect, or some kind of platoon involving Angel Pagan & Andres Torres.  Besides, could you imagine a worse fit for Hamilton that playing in San Francisco?

A lot of people have their issues with the NBA, some of them are founded and some of them aren’t.  But my biggest beef with the Association is the fact that I am of the opinion that it has decimated the college game.  Think about this for a minute.  Where would the college game be right now if Kobe Bryant had gone to, say, UCLA or Georgetown?  Or Dwight Howard had gone to Kansas or North Carolina?  Or Lebron James had gone to Ohio State?  If I’m mad at the NBA for anything, it would be the rash of high school kids that have gone directly to the NBA and bypassing the college game altogether.  Maybe I’m wrong on this, and I’ll solicit your argument if you want to go there, but I can’t help but think that a Kevin Garnett type of player going to the draft instead of signing with Indiana didn’t adversely impact the college game.

While I’m at it, the first conference home games are against USC and UCLA.  I’m going to try optimism for a change and state right now that both of these games are winnable.  Yes, I am fully aware that USC’s 4-6 record is a little deceptive, because they’ve played some very good teams.  I’m also fully aware of the fact that I’m reading too much into the Bruins loss at Cal Poly.  But if conference wins are to be found, that’s as good of a place as any to start.  By the way, I also found out that the USC game is 80′s night, so if you have an old Bon Jovi tape on you, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks.

Before I finish this portion, you’ve seen this, I’m sure, but this has to be the most BYU YouTube video of all time.  And that’s saying a lot.

MAC Thoughts

Funny things happen on the way to the forum.  As we discuss Mr. Andersen and his work in Logan, the fine folks in Wisconsin come along and give him their job.  WOW.  First, I didn’t see it coming but I think it’s a solid hire.  Although enjoy playing Urban and Brady Hoke.

As for your question, my choice before would have been and remains, Mr. Dan Mullen.  Maybe I just loved the Urban era too much for how short it was.  But I think the guy has shown that he can win, he’d bring exciting football.  Gary is a great coach, but that too early move to the prevent, well, that’s why I go with a killer like Mullen.

However as it turns out Gary called each of his players personally.  That is class.  Stayed up till 2:30 AM.

I think the NBA should make it 2 years to enter the league.  For the few that are ready, so what, they spend 2 years in college.  For the bunch that aren’t and have that career where they’re never heard from again, well maybe they get a chance to learn and become an actual player.  Hell let the ones who don’t want to go to called do the Brandon Jennings thing in Europe.  But one year is stupid.  I think zero is worse because it lets kids make really stupid decisions.

We just beat SMU last night and I’m in one of those rare moods where I’m positive about Utah hoops.  However athletic teams scare me to death.  Shabazz Muhammad isn’t fat anymore and I think USC is going to turn out to be a lot better than people think.  I think we lose the Arizona roadtrip, come home and drop those two games.

And I’m not sure anyone will notice beyond the 5000 remaining basketball fans Utah has left.

Tags: Basketball Football Pac 12 Utah Utes

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