Monday, August 31, 2015

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“He’s very self-loathing, but not enough.”

The rankings are in...

Batavia quarterback Kyle Niemiec.
...for Week One from the three news services I follow. (We'll still check in with the AP from time to time.) I've only included the top ten from each -- that's enough for now.

The big news, I guess, is that Joliet Catholic joined all three rankings this week with its impressive 35-13 victory over defending 7A champ Providence. Montini also moved up after its narrow win over Maine South, 20-17, joining the Chicago papers' top ten but still only at No. 13 in MaxPreps. Also, Lincoln-Way East, Simeon and Wheaton North all lost.

Beth Long kept Simeon and Maine South in her top ten, I assume, because both fell to top-notch teams by close margins. But while the Wolverines travel down to Mississippi this weekend to play a school that's 0-3, the Hawks host Loyola on Friday and are in danger of beginning the season 0-2. (Not to worry, Maine South fans, they're still likely to run the table in the Central Suburban Conference.)

Oh, and lest we forget, Phillips cracked Mike Helfgot's top ten with its convincing victory over Fenwick, 40-16. 

On to the rankings (all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted): 

Chicago Tribune

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Mount Carmel
3. Glenbard West
4. Naperville Central
5. Loyola
6. Stevenson
7. Montini
8. Joliet Catholic
9. Wheaton Warrenville South
10. Phillips

Chicago Sun-Times

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Glenbard West
3. Nazareth
4. Libertyville
5. Naperville Central
6. Montini
7. Mount Carmel
8. Joliet Catholic
9. Simeon (0-1)
10. Maine South (0-1)


1. Loyola
2. Barrington
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Nazareth
5. Rochester
6. Stevenson
7. East St. Louis 
8. Glenbard West
9. New Trier 
10. Joliet Catholic

As for the game I attended, Batavia at Oswego, what started out as a 0-0 snore after one quarter (at least I got the senior citizen discount!) turned into a bit of a slugfest as the visiting Bulldogs held off a late rally by the Panthers to prevail, 36-28. While I had gone primarily to see Steven Frank, the highly-touted quarterback of Oswego (this kid can run as well as pass!), I was just as impressed with his counterpart at Batavia, Kyle Niemiec.

As I mentioned in one of my tweets from Friday night, I wouldn't read too much into the first game of the year. Both teams seemed a little rusty in the first quarter and, anyway, it's a long season. But Oswego now has to play Providence this week, and you know what that means: one of these two programs is going to wake up Saturday morning 0-2. Oswego can survive that, but the Celtics would still have to find five victories in their bruising Catholic League Blue schedule to make the playoffs. So it's an even bigger game for the New Lenox squad.

And as for my Upset of the Week that never happened: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

P. S. Note to high school teams: Please wear uniforms with numbers that can be read from the stands. It was next to impossible to tell who was who from both Batavia and Oswego Friday night. I didn't even learn Kyle Niemiec's name until Saturday morning. Thank you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Paul Royle, whose escape from...

...a German prisoner of war camp in 1944 with 75 other Allied soldiers inspired the 1963 movie The Great Escape, died at age 101. From his obit in the Times:

Mr. Royle told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014 that he did not care for the film.

“The movie I disliked intensely because there were no motorbikes,” Mr. Royle said. “And the Americans weren’t there.” (The American officers at the camp were transferred before the tunnel was completed.)

I don't care what anybody says; it's still a good movie.

Right now, the .01 percent...

...that invested donated over $100 million to Jeb Bush's campaign is not giving up (yet) on the former governor. That's the message from Paddy Power:

1. Jeb Bush (13/8)
2. Donald Trump (7/2)
3. Scott Walker (6/1)
4. Marco Rubio (6/1)
5. John Kasich (11/1)

But the polls show Jeb fading fast:

1. Trump (28.3 percent)
2. Ben Carson (11.6)
3. Jeb (8.0)
4. Rubio (6.6)
5. Ted Cruz (6.1)

So which is it?

For a while now, we've all assumed the Republican nomination would be a fight between a "movement" conservative and the establishment candidate. While the former was a big question mark (Rand Paul? Ted Cruz?), the latter seemed almost certainly to be Jeb (with Walker and Rubio as understudies), especially after he nudged Mitt Romney out of the race.

But then came the Donald. And while he's not exactly a "movement" conservative, he's effectively made it a two-man race with Jeb. Or is Jeb no longer the establishment's choice?

In today's Times Jonathan Martin sounds the alarm bells in Jeb's campaign (my emphasis):

Mr. Bush raised a combined $114 million for his campaign and “super PAC” in the first half of the year, but with Donald J. Trump unexpectedly surging and Mr. Bush falling in Republican polls, some of the party’s top money raisers are remaining on the fence in terms of supporting Mr. Bush. 

This reluctance, and the prospect of a hard-fought Republican contest that could last well into 2016, has prompted Mr. Bush to institute cost-saving measures in his campaign. Some aides have seen their pay cut back as part of an effort to curtail spending.


Frank Bruni, meanwhile, makes the argument for a Kasich/Rubio ticket: 

Kasich is hardly the anti-politician that many Americans seem to crave. But he doesn’t have the whiff of political royalty that Bush inevitably does. Put Bush up against Clinton and he erases some of her potential liabilities, because they’re also his: all the reminders of yesterday, all the time spent in a bubble of privilege, all the unshakable allegiances to over familiar characters. 

Kasich can strike a folksier chord, reminding voters, as he frequently does, that his father was a postal worker and his grandfather a coal miner.

He can do something additional that isn’t really feasible for Bush — pick, as his running mate, the person who might as well wear a sign that says “perfect Republican vice-presidential candidate.”

I mean Marco Rubio, who can seem too green for the top job but not for the No. 2 spot. He’s a talented politician. His selection could help with Hispanic voters. He connotes generational change. And he’s from Florida (as is Bush, which argues against a Bush-Rubio ticket).

Now, I still say Donald Trump won't be the Republican nominee. It's just too outlandish for me to believe. Also, the establishment would never abide by someone who, according to Ross Douthat, challenges (my emphasis):

...the entire post-Reagan conservative matrix. He can wax right wing on immigration one moment and promise to tax hedge fund managers the next. He’ll attack political correctness and then pledge to protect entitlements. He can sound like Pat Buchanan on trade and Bernie Sanders on health care. He regularly attacks the entire Iraq misadventure... 

So Trump won't be the GOP standard-bearer. But he may still be strong enough to be in that two-man race with the establishment candidate. Will it still be Bush, or someone like Kasich? Or someone else entirely? (I actually heard Romney's name mentioned the other day.)

But does it matter anyway? On Paddy Power, Hillary is still the odds-on favorite to win the general election:

1. Hillary (11/10)
2. Jeb (4/1)
3. Trump (13/2)

What's that you say? Hillary may not even get the Democratic nomination? Please. Again, from Paddy Power:

1. Hillary (1/3)
2. Joe Biden (5/1)
3. Bernie Sanders (6/1)

And in the polls:

1. Hillary (47.2 percent)
2. Bernie Sanders (22.7)
3. Joe Biden (13.9)

So what's the bottom line? Today, Hillary still beats Jeb.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Melody Patterson, who played...

...Wrangler Jane in the 1960s sitcom F Troop, died at age 66. From her obit in the Times (my emphasis):

On “F Troop,” a comedy set in the Old West that ran on ABC from 1965 to 1967, Ms. Patterson played a feisty postmistress and storekeeper for a squadron of scheming incompetents at Fort Courage, a fictional Army outpost. Her character was also the love interest of the fort’s captain, Wilton Parmenter, played by Ken Berry.

In a 2001 interview with The Asbury Park Press, Ms. Patterson said she did not mind the innuendo between her character and Mr. Berry’s, even though she was a teenager at the time. “It wasn’t raunchy,” she said. “It was an innocent sexy.”

I did the math: Ms. Patterson was 16 years old when F Troop debuted in 1965. Are you telling me they couldn't find one actress in Hollywood over the age of 21?

John Holecek will lead...

...Loyola today* against Marquette University High School of Milwaukee at Sachs Stadium.

As I mentioned here and here, Holecek is entering his tenth season at the helm of the Ramblers with a career record of 96-24. The Marian Catholic grad has guided his Wilmette squad to seven straight seasons of eleven or more victories and five consecutive semifinal appearances from 2009-13. Wow.

But before Coach Holecek there was John Hoerster, the winningest coach in Loyola history. Over sixteen seasons, the St. Rita alum compiled a won-loss record of 133-57. You can read more about him here. Makes you wonder what might have been had Hoerster not died suddenly of a heart attack at age 53.

Now, before Hoerster there was Robert Naughton, whom I've also mentioned here.

But what about some of the others, like Len Jardine and Bob Spoo?

According to my older brother:

Coach Jardine went by the nickname "Jars"; very tough guy from Purdue, and I think LA; went on to coach at Brown and work at Cross Pen for many years; brother was John who coached at Fenwick many years.

According to this and to his Wikipedia entry (yes, he has a Wikipedia entry):

When Father English vowed to rebuild Loyola's football program he turned immediately to Len Jardine. Jardine had been All-Catholic League in both football and basketball during the 1950s and played at Purdue from 1957 to '59. In his senior year he led the team in scoring receptions and was named All-Big Ten. From 1960 to '63, Coach Jardine dramatically changed Loyola's football fortunes for the better. Jardine's 1963 squad is considered by many to be the finest team in Loyola Academy history. He set the pattern for the '60s, a decade that saw Loyola win 79 games while losing only 15.

After the 1963 season Jardine was hired as an assistant coach at Purdue under Jack Mollenkopf and served from 1964 to '66. Purdue went to the Rose Bowl in 1966 and Jardine moved on to the head coaching job at Brown University.

My brother mentioned Jardine's brother, John, in his email to me. Who the heck was he? From this and his Wikipedia page:

The son of a Chicago Water Commissioner, John Jardine (above in the white shirt and tie) arrived at Fenwick in 1959 after playing guard at Purdue. Jardine's five teams at Fenwick produced an overall 51–6–1 record and the Friars played in the Chicago Catholic League title game in 1959, 1961, and 1962. His 1962 squad was undefeated, winning the Chicago city title.

Following the 1963 season, Jardine returned to Purdue as an offensive line coach under Jack Mollenkopf (sound familiar?). He then served as offensive line coach under Tommy Prothro at UCLA from 1965 to 1969 before taking the top job at Wisconsin which he held until 1977.

Let's drill down on that 1962 season, shall we?

Jardine was only a 27-year-old head coach. In those days, many conferences, including the Chicago Catholic League, allowed only limited substitutions. Players went both ways on offense and defense.

Fenwick started the season in convincing fashion, putting away each Catholic League opponent starting with Mt. Carmel and allowing none of them to even score. When Fenwick bested Weber, 16-0, before 9,000 fans jammed into Oak Park Stadium, supporters started to believe that this might be the year for the Friars. By late October they had not lost and had not even been scored upon. When finally St. Philip became the first team to score on Fenwick, it made the front page of the Chicago Tribune sports section. Fenwick played their final three games at Soldier Field, defeating St. Rita, 39-6, and Leo, 34-6, in the Catholic League finals. Fenwick was back in the Prep Bowl on December 1, 1962, against the champion of the Chicago Public League, Schurz High School.

At the time, there was no state football championship and Chicago-area residents viewed the Prep Bowl as the ultimate Illinois high school game. In the week leading up to the contest, the papers ran many stories including the possibility that the game might draw 90,000 fans to Soldier Field. Although Fenwick had won the 1945 Prep Bowl and been in five others, the Friars had never been undefeated. On the day of the game, the Chicago Tribune sports section's headline read "Schurz, Fenwick Battle for Title." The next day the headline read "91,328 See Fenwick Rout Schurz, 40-0." A front page banner read "Fenwick City Champs! Navy Wins, Notre Dame Loses."

Schurz didn't get beyond Fenwick's 45-yard line until late in the game. Coach Jardine started sitting his starters midway through the third quarter. It was the most lopsided win in Prep Bowl history. Fenwick was undefeated in 10 games and had scored 317 points to its opponents' 32. The Friars probably completed 30 passes all year, but had as many interceptions and fumble recoveries.

That's a great story, isn't it?

But what about Bob Spoo? My brother remembers:

Bob Spoo was from Purdue; went on to be head coach at LA; then to Purdue; famous line to Steve Fox: "Catch the ball"; Spoo was a lunch bucket type of guy; single; always came to events with a babe.

Spoo had been a quarterback at Purdue. (Loyola had quite a connection with that school, didn't they? No wonder Tim Foley went there.) As coach of the Ramblers, Spoo compiled a lifetime record of 51-9 and was named Coach of the Year in 1969. His team that year joined the 1930 squad as the only undefeated one in Loyola Academy history. The Ramblers went 11-0 and defeated Lane Tech, 26-0, in the Prep Bowl.

Spoo went on to serve as an assistant at Purdue and Wisconsin before being tapped for the head coaching job at Eastern Illinois University. From 1987-2011, Spoo was 144-126-1 and groomed future NFLer Tony Romo.

While we're at it, there were also these two:

Terry Sheehan was kind of a crazy type; went on to Brown with Jardine, I think; famous quote to David O'Donovan: "You're going to learn to love this game."


Bill Graff, who went on to be an academic person at LA; he and I never got along; died in the last 2-3 yrs.

* I meant to get this post out this morning but got sidetracked. Loyola won, 35-0.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Saturday Game of the Week...

...will be Bolingbrook at Glenbard West at 1:30. (Although Simeon vs. East St. Louis at Gately at 6:00 would be good too.)

But I prefer sports in the daytime, Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn is a lovely place to see a game, and I'm calling for the Brook to come in and upset last year's 8A semifinalists. Why? Just a hunch.

I know, I know, Glenbard West is ranked No. 2 in the Sun-Times, No. 3 in the Trib and No. 6 in MaxPreps. They have arguably the best running back in the state in Sam Brodner and only lost narrowly last year to eventual 8A champion Stevenson. (If memory serves, they held the Patriots scoreless until the last minute or so.)

But John Ivlow (above), the coach of Bolingbrook, is a wily competitor who usually shows up with a speedy offense and a stingy defense. This year's squad includes Tuf Borland (which was my Name of the Day almost a year ago), a 6'2", 225-pound linebacker who is committed to Ohio State. 

(To my knowledge, the two programs have never faced each other before. Until last year, I'm pretty sure Glenbard West was always in 7A while the Brook has been strictly 8A.)

Can the Raiders, unranked in the Trib, No. 12 in the Sun-Times, and only a nose-bleed No. 65 in MaxPreps surprise the Hilltoppers? Maybe.

In the words of that famous...

...Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, "Predictions are very difficult, especially about the future."

Just the other day my cousin asked me, "Who are your picks this year for state champions?" And my reply was, "That's too hard before the season; hard enough when playoffs start." And it's true; if you don't believe me, just take a look at your brackets the last few years. "It's a crapshoot," I concluded.

With that in mind, take a good look at the preseason polls below, because chances are they will look nothing like this at the end of the year.

(Having Homewood-Flossmoor in the top spot everywhere is the kiss of death. I think last year's preseason rankings had Bolingbrook at No. 1 in both Chicago papers and Loyola on top in MaxPreps.)

But this isn't a knock against Mike Helfgot, Beth Long, and whoever ranks the teams at MaxPreps* and the AP**. It's just that it never seems to work out the way everyone expects.

Now, to be clear: I'm not doing this to pick on anyone. These writers all have jobs that involve selling newspapers (or clicks) and, admittedly, this stuff is fun to read. And I'm sure they would all say, This isn't a prediction of where the teams will be at the end of the season; it's a snapshot. Fair enough. But I intend to revisit these from time to time, not to embarrass anyone, but to show how different it all looks once the teams actually start playing.


Chicago Tribune:

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Mount Carmel
3. Glenbard West
4. Naperville Central
5. Lincoln-Way East
6. Stevenson
7. Loyola
8. Simeon
9. Wheaton North
10. Wheaton South
11. Phillips
12. Libertyville
13. Providence
14. Montini
15. Maine South
16. Joliet Catholic
17. Barrington
18. Lake Zurich
19. Oswego
20. St. Rita

On the verge: Batavia, Glenbard North, Nazareth, Neuqua Valley, New Trier.

Chicago Sun-Times:

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Glenbard West
3. Nazareth
4. Maine South 
5. Simeon 
6. Lincoln-Way East 
7. Libertyville
8. Naperville Central
9. Mount Carmel
10. Stevenson
11. Joliet Catholic
12. Bolingbrook
13. Montini
14. Loyola
15. Providence
16. Hinsdale Central
17. Hinsdale South
18. Barrington
19. Phillips
20. Neuqua Valley
21. Cary-Grove
22. Lyons
23. New Trier
24. Glenbard North
25. St. Francis 


1. Loyola
2. Barrington
3. Providence
4. Stevenson
5. Homewood-Flossmoor
6. Glenbard West
7. Rochester
8. New Trier
9. Nazareth
10. East St. Louis
11. Mount Carmel
12. Simeon 
13. Maine South 
14. Sacred Heart-Griffin
15. Cary-Grove 
16. Naperville Central 
17. Oswego
18. Lake Forest
19. Edwardsville
20. Lemont
21. Libertyville
22. Lincoln-Way East
23. Phillips
24. Carmel
25. Fenwick

The AP

Class 8A

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Stevenson
3. Loyola
4. Naperville Central
5. Maine South
6. Bolingbrook
7. Edwardsville
8. Barrington
9. Oswego
(tie) Hinsdale Central

Others receiving votes: Neuqua Valley, O’Fallon, New Trier, Lyons, Huntley. 

Class 7A

1. Glenbard West
2. Mt. Carmel
3. Lincoln-Way East
(tie) Simeon
5. Libertyville
6. Wheaton Warrenville South
7. Normal Community
8. Glenbard North
9. Wheaton North
10. Belleville West

Others receiving votes: St. Rita, Geneva, Batavia, Lake Zurich, Fenwick, Auburn, Addison Trail, Machesney Park Harlem, Hononegah, Grant.

Class 6A

1. Sacred Heart-Griffin
2. Providence
3. Montini
4. East St. Louis
5. Hinsdale South
6. Cary-Grove
7. Lemont
8. Normal West
9. Richards
10. Prairie Ridge

Others receiving votes: Lake Forest, Lincoln-Way West, Quincy, Champaign Centennial, Rock Island, Chatham Glenwood, Belvidere North, Oak Forest, Danville.

Class 5A

1. Nazareth
2. Joliet Catholic
3. St. Francis
4. Normal University
5. Metamora
6. Belvidere
7. Peoria Central
8. Sycamore
9. Sterling
(tie) Peoria Notre Dame

Others receiving votes: Washington, Mahomet-Seymour, Marian Central, Highland, Peoria Richwoods, Lincoln Way West, Glenbard South, Kaneland, Decatur MacArthur, Jacksonville, Champaign Central.

Class 4A

1. Rochester
2. Phillips
3. Rockford Lutheran
4. Belleville Althoff Catholic
5. Geneseo
6. Herrin
7. Quincy Notre Dame
8. Murphysboro
9. Columbia
10. Coal City

Others receiving votes: Rock Island Alleman, St. Viator, Morris, Herscher, Freeburg, Manteno, Breese Mater Dei, Plano, Richmond-Burton, St. Edward, Stillman Valley, Canton, Waterloo, Mt. Zion, Evergreen Park.

A few final comments. Nazareth is No. 3 in the Sun-Times but only "On the verge" in the Trib? Bolingbrook is nowhere to be found in the Trib? And, conversely, Wheaton North and Wheaton South are conspicuously absent from the Times?

Let the games begin.

* MaxPreps, like the AP, and unlike the Trib and Times, ranks teams from across the state.

** Why did I not include classes below 4A? Because they really seem to thin out after that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Friday night Game of the Week...

...won't be Wheaton North at Wheaton South, Joliet Catholic at Providence, Maine South at Montini, Lincoln-Way East at Oak Park River Forest, or even Fenwick at Phillips, although all of those would be good choices.

No, I'll be watching Batavia at Oswego instead.* Huh? Who? What? 

Now, I know what you're thinking: But neither team is ranked by the Sun-Times, and Oswego comes in at only No. 19 in the Trib. What gives?

Last year the Panthers of Oswego (9-2) bested the previous year's 6A champs (8-2), 40-38, in the opener in Batavia. It was the Bulldogs' sole defeat until Round One of the 7A playoffs, in which they fell to Mount Carmel, 21-16.

While that would be reason enough to go out there, I'm really more interested in getting an early look at Oswego's quarterback, Steven Frank, arguably the best in the state. (No "three yards and a cloud of dust" for me!) 

I had heard a lot about Frank last year and finally got to see him play in the second round of the 8A playoffs at Bolingbrook. I walked into the stadium a skeptic (does Oswego play a good enough schedule in the Southwest Prairie Conference?), but came away a True Believer. Frank almost single-handedly led his team back from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit (if memory serves) to a 28-28 tie at the end of regulation and a heart-breaking 31-28 loss in overtime. Is this kid the Real Deal? In a word, yes.

According to Beth Long, writing in the Sun-Times:

Steven Frank, Oswego, Sr.
The 6-5, 220-pounder is one is one of the few uncommitted top prospects left in the local senior class. Frank’s strong arm helped lead the Panthers to the second round of the state playoffs last year, where they lost to Bolingbrook in overtime.

For giggles, Ms. Long also mentions Johnny Carnagio of Minooka in that same piece on the state's top ten quarterbacks. Since Oswego plays defending 7A champ Providence in Week Two and Minooka in Week Four, could I possibly be driving out to Kendall County three out of the next four Fridays? Stranger things have happened.

* Weather permitting. If there's rain in the forecast, I'm not driving almost 50 miles to sit out another lightning delay in my car like the last few years. The double-header at Soldier Field -- Malvern (PA) vs. St. Rita and
Marist vs. Mount Carmel -- will be my backup. (And I could walk.)

What can you say...

...about a football program that has won the last five -- yes, five! -- consecutive 4A state championships?

The Rochester Rockets, coached by Derek Leonard, have gone a dizzying 76-7 over the last six seasons:

2014: 12-2
2013: 13-1
2012: 13-1
2011: 12-2
2010: 14-0
2009: 12-1

(That lone defeat in 2009 was by only one point, 41-40, against Metamora in the semifinals. The Redbirds then went on to beat Geneseo in the 4A final, 41-7.)

Is this guy the best coach in Illinois?

The Rockets will open the 2015 season tomorrow night at Decatur Eisenhower, a team that went 2-7 last year. 

Here's their full schedule:

August 28: @ Decatur Eisenhower

September 4: Springfield
September 11: @ Lanphier
September 18: @ Glenwood
September 25: Springfield Southeast

October 2: @ Lincoln
October 9: @ Jacksonville
October 16: MacArthur
October 23: Sacred Heart-Griffin

While Glenwood (7-4 last year) should be the Rockets' first big test of the year, the finale against Sacred Heart-Griffin may be worth the drive down to Springfield. The Cyclones, coached by Leonard's father, Ken, were the undefeated (14-0) 5A champs last year. SH-G also handed Rochester one of its only two losses in 2014, a lopsided 56-13 drubbing in Week Nine. You don't suppose the son would like to get even with his father, do you? (Read this for a little more color on the two coaches.)

Will Rochester be back in the 4A final again this year?

I asked Coach Leonard for a scouting report and his was brief and understated:

Quarterback Dan Zeigler and Coach Leonard.
We lose 18 out of 22 starters, and we only have 12 seniors this year. So we are going to be very young. We have our quarterback coming back, so that is always a good thing. And both corners are back; other than that, we are going to be very young and inexperienced.

That's it -- from the loquacious (Loyola) to the laconic.

See you in DeKalb, coach.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Donald Trump is not a "serious"...

...candidate for president, right?

I mean, his immigration plan is as unrealistic as it is heartless. Jeb Bush is correct: We're not going to build a wall on the border with Mexico or round up and deport 11 million people -- it's just not going to happen.

As for unemployment, there's no evidence to support Trump's claim that the rate is closer to 18-20 percent.

Obamacare? It's not a "disaster" or the "big lie"; it's actually working as designed.

And the United States is not about to "become Greece." (Ask yourself: If the debt were really a problem, wouldn't the yield on the 10-year note be a lot higher than two percent?)

So the Donald has said some crazy things; why should we listen to him at all?

Because for an "unserious" candidate, Trump is saying some very serious things.

I'm serious.

For starters, take entitlements. In his announcement speech, Trump said:

Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.

All these other people want to cut the hell out of it. I’m not going to cut it at all. 

On healthcare, Trump's thinking is a little muddled, but he's said:

We must have universal healthcare. 

As far as single payer, it works in Canada. 

We have to take care of the people that can't take care of themselves.

(Those quotes weren't from Bernie Sanders; they were from Trump.)

What about infrastructure? Trump wants to:

Rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

So we have to rebuild our infrastructure, our bridges, our roadways, our airports.

China, you got there now - roads, bridges, schools. You never saw anything like it. They have bridges that make the George Washington Bridge look like small potatoes.

But we’re becoming a third-world country because of our infrastructure, our airports, our roads, everything.

You come into LaGuardia Airport, it’s like we’re in a third world country. You look at the patches and the 40-year-old floor. They throw down asphalt, and they throw. 

You look at these airports, we are like a third world country. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I come in from different places, and they have the most incredible airports in the world. You come to back to this country and you have LAX, disaster. You have all of these disastrous airports. We have to rebuild our infrastructure.

Trump also said we need to "take care of our vets." Any argument there? Fewer than one percent of American families have been directly effected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and we've treated them shamefully

As for money in politics, Trump says his competitors are:

...controlled fully, they are controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors and by the special interests. Fully. They control them.

And, again, he's right about that. Consider this (my emphasis):

Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the [$388 million] raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.

The super PAC set up by allies of Jeb Bush collected by far the most money, $103 million, given by thousands of donors. But a relatively small number provided the bulk. At least 26 individuals or companies contributed more than $1 million to the group, including Mike Fernandez, a Cuban-American billionaire who with his family gave more than $3 million; Francis Rooney, a former ambassador to the Vatican, who gave more than $2 million; and Helen Schwab, wife of the investor Charles R. Schwab, who gave $1.5 million.

Or this:
Only three percent of Jeb Bush's campaign cash came from small donors.

From that piece in the Times:

“Most start-up operations need an angel investor: someone who believes in the project and the candidate and puts money in to make it viable,” said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which pushes for fewer limits on campaign giving. He said the potential for corruption was minimal.

“Are they going to return people’s phone calls? Yeah, I’m sure they’re going to return people’s phone calls,” Mr. Keating said. “But I don’t think it’s going to drive policy.”

Oh really? Are you telling me that the .01 percent, or .001 percent (I don't really know how many zeros to use), who invested in Jeb Bush's candidacy aren't planning on "driving policy"? They're not looking for a return on their investment? Please. Don't kid yourself; Jeb is the candidate of the super rich. If he's elected you can expect to see reductions in the capital gains tax rate, estate taxes, corporate taxes, etc.

Which brings me to Trump's latest (and the motivation for writing this post in the first place), the carried interest tax provision. Huh? The what? (Again, my emphasis.)

Most hedge funds and private equity funds are structured as partnerships where the fund managers serve as general partners and the investors as limited partners. Carried interest represents the fund managers’ share of the income generated by the fund, which is typically 20 percent of the fund’s profits at the end of the year. For most funds, this share of the profits, called an “incentive fee,” makes up most of the fund managers’ income, and, depending on the size and performance of the fund, it can stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s largely what pays for 40,000 square foot mansions in Greenwich, Conn., and major league baseball teams and $100 million works of art. Under current tax rules, much of that incentive fee income is taxed at the long-term capital gains rate of 20 percent. If it was taxed as ordinary income, the top rate would be 39.6 percent. For hedge fund managers, the carried interest tax provision is something of a third rail, the one thing that unites them in furious opposition.

I happen to know a partner in a small private investment partnership that pays this rate on all his income. (He's also the author of a blog on high school football.) And he would tell you that it's Just Plain Wrong that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his cleaning lady.

So, while it's easy to dismiss Trump as a clown, he's actually making some very serious contributions to the 2016 conversation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to actress Ashley Madison.

How do we elect presidents?

I'd say the most sure-fire way would be to assess the economy in the year before the general election. If people feel better about their jobs, the value of their homes, their finances, etc. they'll vote for the incumbent or the candidate of the incumbent party. If not, throw the bums out! In modern times, think Eisenhower in 1956, Johnson in 1964, Reagan in 1984, Bush in 1988, Clinton in 1996 and Obama in 2012. On the flip side, what doomed Carter in 1980, Bush in 1992 and McCain in 2008? I'd say in part the economy.

This isn't air-tight, of course; it's hard for the incumbent party to win a third consecutive term. Think Nixon in 1960, Humphrey in 1968, Ford in 1976, Gore in 2000 and McCain in 2008. (And Hillary in 2016?)

There are intangible factors as well: the nation fell in love with a young, charismatic Kennedy in 1960, Goldwater was just too extreme in 1964, and everyone was worn out by the unrest of the Vietnam years under LBJ in 1968, disgusted by Watergate in 1976, ready for the optimism and nationalism of Reagan in 1980, turned off by Clinton's shenanigans in 2000 and the Republicans' incompetence in 2008.

But there's still one other thing that affects the way we elect our presidents. Americans often seem to want just the opposite of what came before. Think Kennedy in 1960, Carter in 1976, Reagan in 1980, Bush in 2000 and Obama in 2008.

If that holds true in 2016, who would be the opposite of President Obama? I would argue Donald Trump: he's loud, aggressive, shoots from the hip and seems completely intuitive rather than intellectual. I hate to say it, but in many ways it reminds me of Reagan following Carter: an outsider whom many people dismissed who sees the world in simple terms and in which every problem has an easy answer vs. a highly-intelligent, nuanced gentleman who is realistic about the world.

From Maureen Dowd's column in the Sunday Times (my emphasis):

“Trump is the proverbial strongman,” David Axelrod says. “There’s no one more opposite to Obama. Bush had been impulsive and reckless, so voters wanted someone who was thoughtful and deliberative. Now they’ve had enough of gray and they want to go back to black and white, and that’s Trump. He knows nothing else.”

It has me thinking: Is a President Trump possible?

In the words of John Hoerster...

...Loyola's winningest coach ever, “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

No post on Loyola would be complete without at least one mention of the legendary Hoerster:

Driven and demanding, electric with an energy that lifted and inspired, John E. Hoerster resurrected Loyola’s moribund football program, guiding his men to a state championship title, a state final, and two state semi-finals during an unprecedented four-year run. With his trademark enthusiasm, commitment, and good humor, he likewise invigorated Loyola’s athletic directorship. John lived and breathed football. His knowledge of the game, his sure command of the X’s and O’s, was absolute and complete. A master of defensive football, John understood that a disciplined, aggressive, meticulously prepared defense would keep Loyola in contention in any game. The thoroughness of his game preparation was unrivaled, his ability to break down film legendary. Nothing was taken for granted. Yet he proved equally adept at making mid-game adjustments on the field. He was, above all, an inspiring teacher of football whose passion for the game was a lesson in itself. John’s record of accomplishment is long and impressive. He was an All-State, All-American offensive lineman at St. Rita and an award-winning, three-year starting guard at Northwestern. After fifteen seasons as an assistant coach to mentor Tom Winiecki at Gordon Tech, John came to Loyola. In his sixteen seasons at the helm, he led the Ramblers to 133 wins against 57 losses, a seventy percent winning record. A state title (1993), a state finalist (1992), two state semi-finalists (1990, 1991), four Catholic League North Section titles (1989, 1991, 1992, 1993), three Prep Bowl titles (1988,1995,1996), and twelve playoff qualifying teams – the list is indeed an impressive chronicle of achievement. Named the Chicago Catholic League’s Man of the Year in 1990, the Catholic League Coach of the Year in 1991, the Frank Leahy Prep Coach of the Year in 1992, and the National Football Foundation High School Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1992, John fulfilled a dream with his induction into the Catholic League’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

It's in Hoerster's memory that the Loyola scouting report continues:

Scheduling perennial power Maine South as a Week Two non-conference game was a bold move. It shows Coach Holecek and his Ramblers fear no team. But, this is such a heated rivalry (meetings between the two schools have been physical, chippy affairs late in the IHSA playoffs) that anything can happen. Loyola once again has arguably the toughest schedule in the state.

And as for that Week Nine game against Mount Carmel:

It’s the best rivalry in all of Illinois High school sports – and this year, the Caravan have to play in Sachs Stadium. A Loyola vs. Mt. Carmel finale just screams, “CCL Championship on the line.” In fact, the league title has essentially been decided by this game for the past five years. The highlight of this battle over the last decade has been the chess match between Frank Lenti, architect of a dynasty that has won 12 IHSA championships, and John Holecek, the defensive mastermind, and the man behind Loyola football’s third golden era.

Lenti’s name is in the record books with this gaudy number: 384 wins, a state record. He's had the most prolific coaching Illinois prep football has ever seen. Last year, with his team’s back against the wall, he took the Caravan to its 29th straight playoff appearance -- and the IHSA semifinals. He won consecutive state titles in 2012 (8A) and 2013 (7A).

One the other side is John Holecek -- the NFL blue-blood who resurrected Loyola’s program -- and with a record of 96-24 -- his winning percentage as Loyola's head coach is above 80 percent. Nine of his 24 losses came in his first two seasons, 2006 and 2007. I have no doubt if he coaches as long as Lenti, he'll own the all-time victory mark.

While we're at it, what other Loyola records are in danger of falling?

Senior running back Dara Laja is not only running for his senior season, he’s making a run at the record book. Loyola’s most sacred athletic title – the all-time leading rusher – is within his grasp. He’s about 500 yards away from Pat Naughton’s mark of 2,142, and -- barring injury -- he could have the record anywhere between Week Four and Week Six. Running backs coach Ryan Gallagher, himself one of the top ten running backs in the history of the program says Laja’s has the potential to be “the most impactful position on the field, but I’m biased.”

Naughton, who is the varsity wide receivers coach, recently said Laja provides a different dimension for the offense. “He’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball,” Naughton said. “We haven’t had a player like that since Adrian Autry.” Jack Spellman held the record for 30 years, Pat Naughton for 20 years. This is a generational record, and it should be fun watching history unfold with Naughton and Gallagher on the sidelines. Naughton’s place in the record books seems secure – his single season rushing record of 2,005 yards is not likely to be broken in the modern era of pass-first football.

Next: One last look (I promise!) at a few more Loyola coaches of yesteryear.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Donald L. Trump, a doctor in Buffalo, N.Y.

Loyola will play its 2015...

...schedule in new uniforms, above. From my source:

For the first time in a decade, the Ramblers will don new uniforms. Traditionalists have nothing to worry about, though. The new Nike uniforms are sleek and stylish, but they pay homage to the program’s past. First class, all the way.

So let's take a look at that 2015 schedule, shall we?

August 29: Marquette

September 4: @ Maine South
September 12: Brother Rice
September 19: @ Fenwick
September 26: St. Ignatius

October 2: @ Providence
October 10: DePaul
October 16: @ St. Rita
October 24: Mt. Carmel

Before I get to my own thoughts on the 2015 season, let's look at what the Ramblers themselves have to say.

Marquette (Milwaukee, WI)
Saturday, August 29, 1:30 p.m. 

Marquette's had its deepest playoff run in five years and won its second consecutive Greater Metro Conference (Milwaukee) championship in 2014. Is this proud program on the rebound? The Hilltoppers outscored their league opponents by a combined score of 253-64 last season, but gave up 44 points to the Ramblers in a Week One blowout loss. So far, none of the games in this series has been close. The MUHS program may be catching up, but it's still far behind Loyola. Coach John Holecek has never lost a season opener.

@ Maine South
Friday, September 4, 7 p.m. 

This could be the first time these two state powers have met in the regular season. Maine South ended Loyola's season for three consecutive years in heartbreaking fashion (2008, 2009, and 2010). Jack Penn and the 2013 team did a lot to exorcise those demons with a 35-0 throttling of Maine South in the playoffs two years ago, in what may have been Holecek's finest performance as a head coach. The Ramblers will travel to hostile Park Ridge to play the Hawks this year, then Loyola hosts the match-up in Week Two of 2016. One other note: This is Loyola's seventh different Week Two opponent in 7 years (Montini, Evanston, O'Fallon, Edwardsville, etc.).

Brother Rice
Saturday, September 12, 1:30 p.m. 

This year, the Ramblers get Brother Rice at home. BR showed it can hang with the big boys in the CCL Blue last year, and announced its new presence when a junior-laden team upset Loyola in Week Three. Brother Rice brings back 14 starters. The Ramblers had trouble with senior RB Marcus Jones (5-foot-8, 185 pounds), a tough, game-controlling running back.

@ Fenwick
Saturday, September 19, 1:30 p.m. 

This old rivalry has lost some of its luster over the last decade. This is a game to circle because of its potential significance to the Holecek’s legacy. If the Ramblers were to start the season at 3-0, this game could give Holecek a chance to win his 100th game. He’d become one of the fastest coaches in Illinois history to get to that mark. If that scenario presents itself, the team will have to work hard against a letdown. This could have “trap game” written all over it.

St. Ignatius
Saturday, September 26, 1:30 

This has traditionally been viewed as a tune-up game for Loyola. Last season, every single Rambler in uniform saw action on the field, something that rarely happens. The team usually calls off the dogs in the fourth quarter leading by 50-plus points. You can expect the same kind of results this year.

@ Providence
Friday, October 2, 7 p.m. 

This is the worst road trip on the schedule. Fans who want to go to New Lenox on a Friday night should leave around 3 p.m., otherwise the brutal traffic could cause you to miss part of the game. Seriously, it’s faster to go to Milwaukee from Wilmette than it is to go from Wilmette to New Lenox. This is the CHICAGO Catholic League, right? OK, rant over. This is a revenge game for Providence. Last season, Loyola provided the one blemish on the 13-1 Providence record. Providence is coming off of a 7A state championship, but they remember losing on the last second Mike Kurzydłowski kick. Providence was hit hard by graduation, and lost a lot of firepower from an offense that scored 40-plus points per game last year, but they do still have a stud running back.

Saturday, October 10, 1:30 p.m. 

DePaul Prep can’t be overlooked. This team gave the Ramblers a scare last year, hanging close for the entire first half. In the second half, a motivated Loyola team pulled away for a blowout win, but it showed that Loyola can’t simply show up and beat a team. We’re at the point where we get every team’s best shot. There’s also the legacy factor in this game – so many people who have had an influence on Loyola’s program have come through the old Gordon Tech system (John HoersterTim Feldheim, Scott Baum, and others).

@ St. Rita
Friday, October 16, 7 p.m. 

This is where it gets real: Loyola’s final two games are against the toughest two opponents. Last year, the Mustangs went 7-5 overall, but only 1-3 in the Chicago Catholic League Blue Conference. They were much better than the league record indicated. They went to the second round of the playoffs (just like the Ramblers) and lost to an eventual state champion (just like the Ramblers). St. Rita boasts a big offensive line anchored by blue-chip prospect Drew Walega (6-foot-6, 275 pounds). The big question for them is do they have a decent quarterback to play behind that line? This will definitely be a state playoff team, and could be a legit state title contender.

Mt. Carmel
Saturday, October 24, 1:30 p.m. 

Speaking of state title contenders, it’s almost cliché to say it, but the Caravan will be ranked among the elite once again this year. Last season, Mt. Carmel defeated Loyola in a 10-7 must-win game, which denied the Ramblers a share of the CCL title, and a shot at a No. 1 playoff seed. Despite a 5-4 regular season the Caravan won six straight win-or-go-home games, and lost only to the 7A champion Providence team in the semifinals. The scary thing is that it was a junior quarterback winning all of those elimination games. Anthony Thompson is now a senior signal caller and added strength in the offseason (he’s 6’1” 195) and has already accepted a scholarship offer to NIU. Experts agree that this Mt. Carmel team will return to form with experienced stars Steve Wirtel, Avery Safford and Demetrius Lewis, among others. This one could be for all the marbles, as Frank Lenti and John Holecek add another page to the history of this outstanding rivalry. 

Wow; that's pretty thorough! Hard to improve on it, except to say I think the Ramblers will go 7-2 this year, with sure-fire victories against Marquette, St. Ignatius and DePaul. I'll also give them the edge vs. Brother Rice and Fenwick. If the Wilmette squad can split the remaining four games -- Maine South, Providence, St. Rita and Mount Carmel -- that would get them to 7-2 and a decent seed in the 8A bracket. (It's really hard to run the table in the Catholic League Blue -- just ask Providence.) But after that, who knows? Is this the year the Ramblers go out to DeKalb and win the whole enchilada?

Next: mopping up.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Friday, August 21, 2015

In 1980, among a host...

...of also-rans, a relative outsider, a Democrat-turned-Republican whom many Americans didn't take seriously, faced off for the GOP nomination against a scion of the Republican Party establishment named Bush.

Known as the "Great Communicator," due to his ability to connect with average Americans, Ronald Reagan also earned the sobriquet "the Teflon president," in that public perceptions of him were not tarnished by the controversies that arose during his administration.

According to Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder, who coined the phrase, and reporter Howard Kurtz, the epithet referred to Reagan's ability to "do almost anything wrong and not get blamed for it."
Public reaction to Reagan was always mixed; he did not fare well with some minority groups. The former Hollywood actor was also the first president to have been divorced. The combination of Reagan's speaking style, unabashed patriotism, negotiation skills, as well as his savvy use of the media, played an important role in defining the 1980s and his future legacy.

His numerous jokes and one-liners have been labeled "classic quips" and "legendary." Among the most notable of his jokes was one regarding the Cold War. As a microphone test in preparation for his weekly radio address in August 1984, Reagan made the following joke: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

In the 1980 Republican primaries George H. W. Bush memorably called Reagan's economic policy "voodoo economics" because it promised to lower taxes and increase revenues at the same time. Did Reagan care? Heck no! Was Bush right? Of course!

Reagan the presidential candidate was kind of a character who many Americans just couldn't see in the White House. His world was a very simple one, all the answers to our problems were easy and he had a habit of saying the darnedest things right off the top of his head. Here's a sample:

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

"What we have found in this country, and maybe we're more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

"Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources."

"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles."

Whatever happened to Reagan? Oh, he won his race with Bush and went on to serve two terms in the White House.

Remind you of anyone?

Uh-oh, I may have started...

...something. More from my brother:

50 years is a long time, for sure. Attached is a picture from the Chicago Tribune, I believe, the day we won the Prep Bowl. Quarterback Tim Foley (who later played for Purdue and the Miami Dolphins), right guard David O'Donovan and fullback Paul Gebuhr. (Foley was hurt and played one point-after where his kick went awry.) 

We always thought of it like the Revolutionary picture of the drummer, fifer and flag bearer. Kids!

One other fact: Foley got hurt early in the year at the Gordon game where he broke his shoulder. He had a pin put in. Bill O'Donnell stepped up and played the rest of the season, but he got hurt also.  Ken Krakovich stepped up and was the quarterback for the Prep Bowl and maybe the Catholic League Championship game vs. Leo. It taught me the meaning of teamwork and showed how Coach Bob Naughton's system was the key to winning, not stars.

Thanks for the memories.*

Fast forward to August, 2015. Who are the players to watch on this year's Loyola team? From my contact at the Wilmette school:

Offensively, the Ramblers should have a variety of weapons with a wealth of tall receivers, a star-quality running back in Dara Laja and a veteran offensive line. Coach John Holecek says this unit is “the most explosive” he has seen in his time at Loyola. It starts and ends with a healthy Emmett Clifford at quarterback.

Defensively, Loyola had to replace a lot of starters, including the Fearsome Foursome of linebackers (Brian O'Brien, Cal Falkenhayn, Mark Nichol and Emmett Russell). With such stalwarts gone, Loyola will need players to step up in the middle and backfield of the defense, but the line, anchored by Ben LeRoy, looks solid. Expect the same attacking and relentless defenses that bring pressure and cause turnovers as we’ve seen throughout the Holecek era. “Our defense has to catch up to our offense,” Coach Holecek said.

This group of seniors has come a long way from being 2-7 as freshmen, to 8-1 as sophomores (CCL Blue Co-Champs), and 11-3 as juniors (Prep Bowl champions). They are hungry for success.

Let's "drill down" a little, shall we?

Here are a few of the players who figure to make a big impact on Loyola’s 2015 season:

No single player will have as much of an impact on the season as six-foot quarterback Emmett Clifford. He’s the unquestioned leader, not only of the offense, but also the entire team. He thoroughly understands coach Tyler Vradenberg's offensive schemes and play options. He’s tremendously physically fit, so the up-tempo game the Ramblers play is not a problem. He played a lot last year, and propelled the Ramblers to big wins -- including the epic comeback against Edwardsville in Week Two. He suffered a season-ending broken collar bone against DePaul Prep, so the big question is, can he stay healthy?

Running back Dara Laja (5'9", 180) begins his senior season about 500 yards shy of Pat Naughton's all-time rushing record. Laja played sporadically as a sophomore, when Julius Holley was injured. He was the featured back last year and is a lock to start again this year. He has a background as a wrestler, with a low center of gravity. He not only added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to his frame in the off-season, but also retained his speed. The extra bulk should help him negate the persistent criticism of him last year – that he goes down too easy on first contact, something Naughton never did. Still, we’re watching one of the all-time greats, here, and he’ll likely have the record by mid-season.

Tight end Eric "Esh" Eshoo (6'5", 225) is perhaps the best athlete/physical specimen on the team. He has already accepted a scholarship to play for Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern next year.

Defensive lineman Ben Leroy (6'3", 265) is a dominant force on the interior defensive line. He brings pressure against the pass and is solid against the run. He has already accepted a scholarship to play for the resurgent Northern Illinois Huskies.

Middle linebacker and special teams John Shannon (6'2", 235) is ranked as the No. 1 long snapper in the nation in the Class of 2016. He has already accepted a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

Other seniors to watch:

Wide receiver Thomas Smart (6'3", 195), center Sam Badovinac (6'2", 250), right tackle Danny Kurkowski (6'4, 290), linebacker Cross Daffada (5'9", 200), wide receiver Jonah Issac (5'9", 170), wide receiver Paul Escalante (5'10", 170), running back Jack Loper (5'10", 210), guard Thomas Nute (6'0", 290), safety Bobby Desherow (6'2", 190), nose guard Justin Somuah (5'10", 245), guard Jack Tamisea (6'0", 225), middle linebacker and kicker Patrick Tata (5'9", 193) and cornerback Sam Taylor (5'6", 165).


Tight end Jake Marwede (6'5", 221), wide receiver David Terrell (5'11", 165), cornerback Ian Swenson (6'1", 170), middle linebacker Graham Repp (6'0", 200), middle linebacker Anthony Romano (6'2", 215), guard Jack Badovinac (6'2', 250), tackle John Brekke (6'3", 260), defensive end Omar Mendez (6'3', 250), wide receiver Jack Martinus (5'11', 165), and running back Kyle Rock (5'9", 170).

And sophomore quarterback Quinn Boyle (6'0", 165).

Next: the Ramblers' 2015 schedule.

* More on Coach Naughton:

Very smart; math teacher; went on to be the head coach after Len Jardine left; surprised us all, as he was more of an academic guy rather than a tough guy; turned out to be a big winner at Loyola and later New Trier West; also the athletic director there; very funny.