HAPPY THANKSGIVING! And welcome to Webisode #9 of “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al,” my weekly gab fest with that MVP of the MVN, Big Al of The Wayne Fontes Experience.
In this installment, we look back at the Michigan-Ohio State debacle and MSU’s failure last Saturday; laud the Red Wings; slam those who would take away our Turkey Day game; talk a little U-M hoops; and of course, there are the regulars: Word Association and Jerk of the Week.
Eno: Thanks for taking the time on this holiday to join us at “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al.” I’m Eno, aka The Journalist, and he’s Big Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. See, Al? Told you I’d remember to call you that every week now, going forward!
Big Al: Damn straight. I would have been sure to correct you otherwise, Mr. Journalist! So what’s on your overflowing-with-Detroit-sports-information-and-trivia mind?
Eno: Well, this is an unusual time at TKJ, because we’re doing this BEFORE the Lions game, and folks will likely be reading it AFTER the game. So right off the bat, our readers know more than we do this webisode!
Big Al: Don’t they always? I’m so full of BS, Rod Marinelli has nothing on me. Smoke and mirrors, sir, smoke and mirrors. You, on the other hand, pull facts out of nowhere, such as your post recapping previous Lions Turkey Days. Hell, I can’t even remember what happened last year on Thanksgiving, let alone in 1987.
Eno: What can I say? It’s both a gift and a curse! OK, let’s start with Michigan football. I guess you were right and I was wrong. Who was that idiot who predicted a close U-M/OSU game? He should have his Knee Jerk stripes revoked!
Big Al: Dean Wormer has you on double secret probation, so watch what you predict. Hey, you were right for a half of football, anyway. But I have to say I saw this one coming, as Michigan QB Nick Sheridan, who I’m sure is a nice kid, just isn’t a Big Ten QB. His having to start had the Wolverines behind the proverbial buckeye before the game even began.
Eno: Well, is this getting to the point where U-M bores OSU now? I mean, when Michigan was kicking John Cooper’s tail, it almost became not fun anymore. Look at the Red Wings and Avalanche. The Avs bore me now. When was the last time Colorado beat the Red Wings? When Patrick Roy was in net? So is this rivalry in danger of turning into a joke?
Big Al: Not yet, as even though the University of Columbus is currently holding the upper hand, almost all previous Wolverine-Bucknuts games had something on the line, and were, for the most part, tight ballgames. I think this loss is the exception, rather than the rule, Rich Rodriguez needed to experience the rivalry before he could truly grasp its meaning. The Wolverines may not beat CheatyPants McSweaterVest and his band of ill-tempered, ill-educated louts, but it won’t be a blowout in 2009.
Eno: Well, regardless, I’d say that Meeechigan (RIP, Bob Ufer!) better damn well beat these Buckeyes pretty freaking soon. Or maybe U-M better figure out how to beat Toledo first? Baby steps, right?
Big Al: Need to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, and a quarterback before you can beat tOSU.
Eno: Indeed. And what about Sparty? Again they prove they’re Not Ready For Prime Time (RIP, Gilda Radner!) They finished 9-3, but is it a Fool’s Gold 9-3 or a we-can-win-a-Bowl-game 9-3?
Big Al: As always, it depends upon the match-up, but MSU is not yet an upper tier team. I don’t see them beating a comparable SEC team. I do think that with six weeks to prepare, the ever cranky Mark Dantonio will make Sparty a handful for whomever they play. What do you think of Dantonio’s stunt of calling time outs in the final seconds of the Penn State game? Was he being an ass, or trying to make a point?
Eno: With Dantonio, you never know. He’s a rather irascible fellow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a football coach. But methinks he tends to sweat the small stuff too much. Maybe he tries too hard at times. Of course, his predecessor, John L. (for Loser) Smith never could be accused of trying too hard, so there you go.
Big Al: I’ll say this for Mr. Little Brother, he’s making the MSU/Penn State and MSU/U-M rivalries much more interesting. Which I think is the motivation to his madness. No one cared about MSU playing Methusela at the end of the season before. Dantonio is making the Big Ten-manufactured series relevant. And anytime he can annoy the living Hell out of Wolverines, the folks in East Lansing eat it up. If I’m MSU, I’m worried when one of the elite programs that has an opening (Tennessee?) will come calling. Dantonio could be another Nick Saban, if the Spartans aren’t careful.
Eno: Wow – some elite company there! He came from little Cincinnati with a mediocre 18-17 record, and now you’re putting him up there with Duffy Daugherty! What’s gotten into you?
Big Al: Drugs? I’m not going that far yet, but Dantonio has been a great fit at MSU. I’ll say this, though. He’ll be better for the program than George “Motor City Bowl should be in the BCS” Perles, the last coach to have a lengthy tenure in East Lansing.
Eno: And now George might run for Governor, so go figure. Your turn: what’s on Mr. Big Shot’s mind?
Big Al: Turkey legs. Oh, you mean in sports? Well then…we have to mention the Lions, and the ongoing cry from the MSM about taking away our Super Bowl – the Thanksgiving Day Game. The show I like to call “Douchebags in the Morning,” ESPN’s Mike and Mike, Mike Ditka, and numerous columnists around the nation who’re looking to get some cheap heat, all call for the NFL to take the game away [from the Lions]. Personally, I think they can go to Hell. What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the 12:30 Turkey Day game remain ours and ours alone?
Eno: YES!!! Of course!! Are there REALLY a bunch of teams clamoring to play on Thanksgiving? I was talking to Keith Bulluck of the Titans a few weeks ago and he didn’t seem to be so jazzed to play the game that he would like to play it every year. Look, it’s easy to say this now with the Lions down. Funny, but I didn’t hear this in the 1990s, when the Lions were competitive. The only whiner was the late Lamar Hunt of the Chiefs. What is the motive to take it away? What does it matter to those folks? The Lions are rarely on national TV, so chill. Deal with it, I say.
Big Al: They can all pound sand. I’m just getting sick and tired of all the Detroit bashing. From the politicians in Washington more concerned with Wall Street than saving Detroit’s auto industry, to the sports media slagging away on the Thanksgiving Day game, it’s giving us in the Detroit area a MASSIVE chip on our shoulders. I, for one, am ready to go nuclear on the next politician or columnist who takes unwarranted cheap shots at Detroit, the State of Michigan, and the residents and fans of all things Detroit!
Eno: You know, I agree. The Detroit bashing seems to be at an apex right now. It truly does give us that chip on our shoulder you were referring to. I just think that it’s hilarious how this happens when the Lions are crappy. So, should we stop playing the MLB All-Star Game because the AL always wins? Should the Red Wings stop playing the Avalanche? Sorry – I already talked about that!
Big Al: Lets not forget the over done and totally untrue Red Wings = Yankees or Detroit = Beirut comparisons. Enough is enough, and I’ve had enough. Enough already! Seriously, I’m going to get out the big guns and go off on the next Detroit basher. The morons on CBS best watch what they say during the game. I’ll be watching them…
Eno: Whoa….let’s call a 20-second timeout!
Big Al: NO! NO! NO! I’M OUT OF ORDER? YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER!!! OK, I’m done. I feel better. What’s next?
Eno: Well, Al Pacino….I have Red Wings on the brain. I don’t write about them too much because, well, they’re just so good; what else can be said? I just hope folks around here appreciate what they have. This team is truly dynasty-ish. They’re never out of a game. Do you truly see anyone knocking them off four times in a playoff series?
Big Al: No. NO! NO! N…Sorry, I had a flashback! My only concern is Chris Osgood, as he has yet to play up to the level of last season. I realize it’s early, but I think the Red Wings have the same concern, which is why we are seeing more and more of Ty Conklin between the pipes. Other than possibly in net, I don’t think the Wings have a weakness. At least not a weakness that is easily exploited. The Red Wings’ worst enemy will not be the Sharks or the Ducks, it will be complacency.
Eno: But even that, I don’t see happening. It’s almost silly to nitpick them. Do you realize they’ve been Cup contenders since 1993? That’s amazing. No other pro sports team can say that. Makes you wonder if they’ll EVER be down – or how we’ll react to it when it happens.
Big Al: Probably the same way Wolverines fans reacted: with much anguish and finger pointing. But the Wings are in fine hands, so I doubt it’s something we’ll be have to worry about anytime soon – knock on wood.
Eno: Hey, how about some Word Association?
Big Al: NO! NO! NO! Oh, word association? Cool by me. I’ll start…
Big Al: Let’s begin with a local columnist, Mitch Albom.
Big Al: No doubt. Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.
Big Al: I wish. Lord, how I wish. Lions backup QB who just signed a two-year contract, Drew Henson.
Eno: Two words…three, really. No, four: Why the hell not?
Big Al: Hey, he was thought to be a franchise QB not all that long ago. How about the other backup Drew, Drew Stanton.
Eno: The future of the Lions. No joke. OK, my turn.
Big Al: Go ahead, oh journalistic one.
Eno: LeBron James.
Big Al: Two words. Big Apple.
Eno: Hmmm….or Motor City….OK, Joe Paterno
Big Al: BRAIIIINS!
Big Al: Sorry, had to go for the zombie joke. Retire!
Eno: Wow…OK. Jim Price
Big Al: Is there one word I can use for “heavy breathing into an open mike?” No? OK, loyal.
Eno: Wow – THAT’S diplomatic! OK, one more: Thanksgiving.
Big Al: BRAIIINS! Seriously, Detroit.
Eno: Nice….alright, before Jerk of the Week, I’m gonna volley it back to you for the next topic.
Big Al: Volley? We playing tennis? You making a joke? You think I’m funny? I’m funny to you?!
Eno: You back in Pacino Mode? Or is that DeNiro?
Big Al: Sorry, for some reason I need to channel Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. How about something good about the Wolverines? The basketball boys beat a Top Ten team for the first time in, well, forever, when John Beilein’s team beat UCLA [last week]. I couldn’t remember the last time I so enjoyed watching a Michigan basketball game. Is Michigan hoops back?
Eno: Oh, that was terrific. Didn’t see the game but good for Beilein’s kids. That was great. It didn’t even matter that they lost to Duke after that. It would be wonderful to see that program back on the map. Do you see it happening soon?
Big Al: It was a great game to watch, and it was Beilein ball at its best. Treys, back door plays and his funky 1-3-1 defense. They aren’t back yet, but are on the way. I think Michigan could be an NCAA bubble team this season, and is maybe a year or two away from contending for the Big Ten title. Beilein knows what he is doing, and what sort of players he needs to run his system. Give him time, and he’ll win.
Eno: Yeah, he’s a keeper. You need stability. My alma mater, EMU, just fired another football coach. And they’re gonna bring Lloyd Carr in as an adviser to select the next coach. That kinda makes this old Huron (NOT an Eagle) a little….excited?
Big Al: It should. I like it that EMU asked Lloyd to help. Say what you will about his coaching abilities. Lloyd’s a good egg and well connected. He’ll go a long way in helping the Hurons (Eagles my ass!) find the right coach to right the ship.
Eno: Hey, maybe Lloyd himself will come out of retirement, a la Sam Rutigliano at Liberty U! A Huron can dream, can’t he?
Big Al: Or like Kansas State’s Bill Snyder. EMU could do a lot worse than Lloyd. A LOT worse. Ready to give your Jerk of the Week?
Eno: You know, I hate to make him a JOTW three times in a row, but I gotta go with your man Drew Sharp of the Freep.
Big Al: Really. What did the dull one say now?
Eno: Well, it’s this annoying insistence of his that the Lions absolutely, positively, can NOT go 0-16 because it’s “impossible.” Other than Minnesota at home, I don’t know where he’s seeing a win. At Indy? At Green Bay? Against the Titans? The Saints? Good grief! He was at it again last Sunday, predicting the Lions to beat the Bucs because of the aforementioned “impossibility” of going 0-16. It’s very annoying!
Big Al: I thought you were going to name Sharp because of his “column” about the Lions’ Turkey Day tradition, where he just came off as hateful towards those who really do root for the Lions. I honestly believe Sharp has five different boiler plate columns, and just changes the names and teams as needed. His shtick is getting old. Ready for my jerk?
Eno: Ready, willing, AND able!
Big Al: Sure you don’t mean, Abel?
Big Al: I’m going to give a co-Jerk of the Week award. My jerks are Lions head coach Rod Marinelli and Detroit News columnist Rob Parker for the unintentional comedy that ensues when Parker asks Marinelli if he’s going to quit/fire his son-in-law/quit over and over and over, while Marinelli talks in circles, never answering anything. I swear the two could join a touring company of “The Odd Couple.” Post-game pressers will never be the same once Marinelli gets the ziggy
Eno: That’s actually very funny, and very creative! I never thought of them that way! Parker has fired more coaches than George Steinbrenner.
Big Al: And written more bad columns than Drew Sharp!
Eno: Now THAT’S saying something! OK, my friend, enjoy your Turkey Day. Sorry the Lions are gonna be on local TV, though. Don’t let them ruin the turkey and stuffing!
Big Al: Lions ruin turkey? That’s un-possible! Have a great Turkey Day yourself, Mr. Journalist!
Eno: See ya next Thoisday.
Big Al: HOOOO-HAAAAA!