Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What do Donald Trump and Rand Paul...

...have in common? (Besides an apparent interest in golf?) They both may have had limited upside potential which prevented them from winning the Republican nomination. Also, ironically, by trying to broaden their support within the party, they may have doomed their campaigns altogether.

As Matthew Yglesias explained yesterday in Vox, "Donald Trump used to be the most interesting person in politics, but his tax plan made him boring" (all emphasis mine): 

Up until the release of his tax reform plan on Monday, Donald Trump was running a presidential campaign that was far and away the most substantively interesting and important development of the 2016 election. Far from a sideshow, his campaign was actually driving at the core blockage in American politics: the Republican Party's ironclad demand for lower taxes on the highest-income Americans. This is not the only uncompromising stand in American politics, but it is a curious one, since it is extremely unpopular with the broad electorate — something on which a huge share of rank-and-file Republican voters disagree with the party. 

Before this week, Trump said the wealthy should pay more in taxes, promised to protect Social Security, and, most important, feuded with the Club for Growth — the enforcement arm of the donor class's tax orthodoxy — and seemed to be prospering for having done so. None of that meant Trump would have been a good nominee or a good president, but it did mean his campaign was opening up the system and potentially laying the groundwork for more creative thinking from Republican politicians in the future.

Then on Monday, he threw all that away. He proposed a huge regressive tax cut that differs in detail from what other GOP contenders are offering but is perfectly compatible with the party orthodoxy.

It's not entirely clear why Trump took this particular turn. Even the GOP rank and file doesn't share the donor class's obsession with cutting taxes on the rich, and Trump is a very rich man who isn't relying on donors to fuel his campaign.

One possibility, however, is that Trump has started to believe he might actually win this thing and is deliberately taking steps to weaken elite hostility to his candidacy.
The reality, however, is that Trump has already shown himself to be far too much of a wild card for any halfway sane party regular to want to see him as president. Instead, he's simply thrown away the chance to do something distinctive without really doing anything to gain establishment support.

As currently positioned, he's an idiosyncratic figure, but his basic ideological position of pairing hardline anti-immigration politics with giant tax cuts for the rich is no different from where the average House Republican has been sitting for years.

In other words, Trump began his campaign with a unique niche: higher taxes on the wealthy combined with protection for entitlements. But this week he seemed to decide that while those positions could garner him, say, 30 percent in the polls, they may have prevented him from getting the GOP nomination. So, in order to broaden his base he abandoned them. The result? In a Catch-22, Trump may have just lost the nomination by surrendering what made him appealing in the first place.

As for Rand Paul, he began as a libertarian in the mold of his father but moved to more traditional Republican stances. The result? Like Trump, he may have sabotaged his chance for the nomination. The irony, of course, is that as a libertarian, like his father, he may have had a low ceiling anyway.

In another piece, Vox reports that Ed Crane, the head of a Super PAC backing Sen. Paul is frustrated:

Crane's critique is simple: Paul moved too far toward mainstream Republicanism, and his libertarian views "disappeared." Rand tried to be all things to all people, and in so doing lost what made him — and his father, Ron Paul — unique. 

It's no surprise that Ed Crane — a longtime libertarian true believer who co-founded the Cato Institute back in the 1970s — wanted Paul to run an ideologically purer campaign. But doing so would have sidelined Paul's campaign like his father's — limiting his appeal to a small part of the Republican electorate. 

Instead, Rand actually wanted to win the nomination. So he decided to try to appeal to a broader audience. For instance, he retained his anti-interventionist foreign policy views in general, but came out against an Iran deal that Republican voters overwhelmingly distrusted.
Similarly, Paul has remained quite conservative on economics, but has sanded down the rougher edges of his father's platform. "There’s no talk from the Kentuckian about ending the Federal Reserve, no quoting Friedrich Hayek and no laments about how the U.S. deserves a share of blame for terrorism," James Hohmann wrote in April. Paul himself told Hohmann his approach was "libertarian-ish, which means I have some libertarian impulses."
So far, this approach hasn't worked, and many are speculating that the end of Paul's campaign may be near (though his team denies it). But it was a reasonable strategy. Indeed, it's Donald Trump's anti-immigration and anti–trade deal rhetoric that's been hot among the GOP base this year. So while it might be comforting for libertarian activists to blame Paul's heresies for his failure to catch on, there's no reason to assume Ed Crane's approach would have worked better.

The bottom line: in politics, the niche that may initially put you on the map might be just what prevents you from taking the brass ring.

Here's a sneak peek... seven good games to watch this weekend.

If you live up north:

Jacobs (5-0) at Huntley (5-0)
Are the Red Raiders for real? Huntley beat previously undefeated -- and last year's 7A runner up -- Cary-Grove (4-1) last week, 29-8, for the first time in at least ten years. If the Red Raiders beat Jacobs they will be in sole possession of first place in the Valley division of the Fox Valley Conference. Is Huntley the most overlooked team in 8A?

Conant (5-0) at Barrington (5-0)
Or are one of these two the most overlooked team in 8A? This tilt is also for the conference lead, the Mid-Suburban West. While I'm tempted to say that neither squad has been tested, Conant did hand Fremd (4-1) its first loss of the season last week, 26-17. Barrington's quarterback, Johnny Davidson, gets a lot of press, but Conant also has a pretty good signal-caller in Kyle Bradley. Will this be an air war? 

Lake Zurich (2-3) at Libertyville (5-0)
Why on earth am I recommending a game with a losing team? Because the Bears are a heck of a lot better than their record would indicate. The perennial Lake County power's three losses all came at the hands of quality opponents: Fremd (4-1), Cary-Grove (4-1) and Stevenson (3-2). But the real reason to go to this game is to see Wildcat quarterback Riley Lees. He's far and away the most exciting player I've seen so far this year. If my brother weren't coming down to visit this weekend I'd be up in Libertyville Friday night. If you live up that way, for the love of God, go!

Down south:

Mount Carmel (5-0) at Brother Rice (4-1)
The Crusaders are at home and underrated, but the Caravan should prevail. Will Mount Carmel and Loyola be undefeated when they meet up in Wilmette in Week Nine? My Magic 8 Ball says, "Signs point to yes."

Loyola (5-0) at Providence (2-3)
Pssst: My Game of the Week (check back tomorrow).

Out west:

Naperville Central (4-1) at Batavia (5-0)
Batavia is another team that isn't getting a whole lot of respect even though the Bulldogs handed Oswego (4-1) and South Elgin (4-1)  their only losses of the year and beat St. Charles North (3-2) last week by twenty points. As for the Redhawks, this tilt should shed some light on the question of whether everyone in the DVC is beating up on each other because they're that good or because they're that bad. Central hasn't wowed anybody this year, but its sole loss was to Waubonsie Valley (3-2) in Week Four by only one point. I had always assumed the Redhawks would be in the hunt for the 8A title; this contest should answer a lot of questions.

And on Saturday:

Hinsdale Central (5-0) at Glenbard West (5-0)
I'll be at the Minnesota - Northwestern game on Saturday, but I'll be following this game closely on Twitter. Does it really matter, though? The only team that stands a chance of beating Glenbard West in the regular season is Oak Park River Forest (5-0) in Week Seven.

Enjoy the Games!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 2015 season is now...

...more than half-over; let's check in with some of the teams that submitted scouting reports to me at the beginning of the year.

My first post was on Guerin, which I predicted would finish at 5-4. The Crusaders are currently 2-3, but with home dates remaining against Elmwood Park (1-4), Walther Christian (1-4) and Ridgewood (3-2), and a season-ending visit to Chicago Christian (1-4), I could definitely see the River Grove school finishing at 5-4 with a trip to the playoffs. And, what the heck, if Guerin beats Ridgewood they would end the regular season at 6-3 with a decent seed in 3A.

Fenwick, which I figured to end the year at anywhere from 5-4 to 7-2, looks like it will fall short and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Friars are 2-3 right now and could get into the plus column with wins against Marmion (2-3) at home and St. Ignatius (2-3) on the road. But in Week Seven the Oak Park squad runs into the buzzsaw known as Montini (5-0) at home. The season finale, at St. Francis (4-1), could make all the difference. Right now, though, it's hard to see Fenwick beating the Spartans.

Lindblom, at 4-1, has been my Cinderella team this year. While I thought the Eagles might finish at a very respectable 5-4, I'm now revising it to 8-1. (Yep, you read that right.) The Englewood eleven finishes the season with TEAM Englewood (1-4) at home and road trips to Corliss (2-3), CICS/Longwood (2-3) and John Hope (0-5). (Although Corliss and Longwood are actually at Stagg Stadium, so they're not really away games.) Okay; I'll spot Lindblom one loss -- that would still give them a more than respectable 7-2 record. Keep your eye on these guys.

St. Francis, at 4-1, is right on target to finish at 7-2, which is where I had them at the beginning of the year. The Spartans host St. Laurence (3-2) at home this weekend, travel to Montini (5-0), host De La Salle (1-4) and finish up at home with Fenwick (2-3). If St. Francis loses to Montini, beats St. Laurence, De La Salle and Fenwick, that would put them at 7-2. Worst case scenario has the Wheaton squad splitting with St. Laurence and Fenwick, and finishing at 6-3.

If anything, I may have underestimated Loyola. I figured the Ramblers would finish at 7-2, but now I see them ending the regular season at 8-1, if not 9-0. In fact, I'll say it right now: this could be the best Rambler team I've ever seen -- they could go undefeated and win the whole 8A enchilada. The only thing standing in their way might be Homewood-Flossmoor.

This week Loyola travels to Providence, which is probably the best 2-3 team in the state. If they can get out of New Lenox alive, they should beat DePaul (4-1) at home and St. Rita (1-4) on the road. Mount Carmel (5-0) travels to the North Shore for Week Nine and that looks like a pick 'em right now, but I'll say Loyola gets the better of the Caravan this year.

Finally, on the basis of Coach Derek Leonard's one-paragraph scouting report, I called for Rochester to finish anywhere from 7-2 to 9-0. The Rockets are currently 5-0, and I think they can finish at either 8-1 or 9-0 if they can get past Leonard's father and Sacred Heart-Griffin (5-0) in Week Nine. In the meantime, Rochester faces Lincoln (0-5) and Jacksonville (3-2) on the road before bringing it home against Decatur MacArthur (0-5) and SHG. Will this be the first time since 2010 that Leonard beats his dad and gets bragging rights at the Thanksgiving table?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“I did not ram Preston Sturges down their throats.”

Over the weekend I saw...

...the most exciting player and the most exciting game so far this year.

The player was quarterback Riley Lees, above, who led Libertyville to a 35-7 statement victory over defending 8A champ Stevenson up in Lincolnshire. And the game was on Saturday morning, as the Eagles of Lindblom came from behind to defeat conference rival Agriculture Science, 22-14. (More on those two contests in a minute.)

The loss for Stevenson dropped the Patriots from Mike Helfgot's top ten rankings in the Tribune in favor of Oak Park River Forest, which downed Downers Grove North, 44-20. The Huskies host perennial power Glenbard West in two weeks. (You're going to want to be there.)

The big victory for Libertyville vaulted the Wildcats up 12 spots to the No. 3 ranking in MaxPreps. Batavia also cracked the website's top ten with its 48-28 win over St. Charles North. If you live out west you may have to take in that Naperville Central (4-1) at Batavia game this Friday. It could be a barn burner.

Finally, Huntley (who?) upended Cary-Grove, 29-8, in what must surely have been the Upset of the Week. Are the Red Raiders for real? We may find out this week when they host Jacobs in a battle of the undefeateds in the Fox Valley (Valley) Conference.

This week's rankings had only a few changes, while Beth Long's top ten at the Sun-Times had none at all. (Teams are undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

Chicago Tribune

1. Homewood-Flossmoor 
2. Loyola
3. Mount Carmel
4. Glenbard West
5. Montini
6. Joliet Catholic
7. Phillips
8. Libertyville
9. Hinsdale Central
10. Oak Park River Forest

Chicago Sun-Times  

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Glenbard West
3. Loyola 
4. Libertyville 
5. Montini
6. Phillips 
7. Mount Carmel
8. Joliet Catholic
9. Hinsdale Central  
10. Nazareth (4-1)


1. Loyola
2. Joliet Catholic
3. Libertyville 
4. Glenbard West 
5. Montini
6. Rochester 
7. Homewood-Flossmoor 
8. Batavia
9. Phillips 
10. Sacred Heart-Griffin

Now, back to the two games I watched over the weekend. 

In the first, depending on which paper you read, Lees rushed for anywhere from 257 (Sun-Times) to 278 (Tribune) yards, the vast majority in the first half. The Northwestern commit ran for four touchdowns before intermission and threw for a fifth in the third quarter. It was a truly bravura performance reminiscent of Bolingbrook's Aaron Bailey and Lincoln-Way East's Tom Fuessel.

I had the good fortune Friday of sitting next to a guy who had played quarterback in high school and defensive back for Mike White at Illinois. He also had three sons who all played for Carmel High School during the Corsairs' heyday a few years ago. He knew Riley Lees' father as the Libertyville quarterback's three older brothers had played with his sons at Carmel. (Why didn't Riley follow them to Carmel? Good question.) One of his sons, who now plays for Western Michigan, told his dad he had to come out to the game to see Lees play. He wasn't sorry.

On the very first play from scrimmage Lees sprinted 80 yards, untouched, for the Wildcats' first touchdown. The Stevenson side went dead-silent. I looked at the guy next to me. Whoa!, we both thought.

The senior signal-caller added three more TD runs, of 61, 78 and four (four?) yards to lead Libertyville to its first victory over Stevenson since 2008. 

If you live up north, the Wildcats will be hosting Lake Zurich this Friday and you can see just what I mean. Mr. Helfgot wrote after Week One, "Do yourself a favor and go see Rees play." He's right; as I tweeted at halftime, This kid is every bit as good as you've heard.

The second contest, between the visiting Cyclones of Agriculture Science and Lindblom, took place at Amos A. Stagg Stadium in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of the city. It was a little different setting from the night before in leafy Lincolnshire, but the freight trains that passed in the background lent the field its own unique charm.

I had to drag myself out of bed for this one as kickoff was at 9:30 sharp. But it was worth it. Saturday was a beautiful day and the game, after a scoreless first quarter, turned out to be quite thrilling.

Both teams, but especially Ag Science, were plagued by offside penalties throughout the morning. (I wonder if the outcome would have been any different if the over-eager Cyclones had just waited for the ball to be snapped!) Coach Justin Pressley of Lindblom called a more conservative game, I thought, than the one I had seen the week before against Douglass. In that tilt he had the Eagles attempting onside kicks, going for it on fourth down and throwing the home run ball on occasion. Maybe Pressley felt he needed to be more careful with a stronger opponent. (Or maybe I'm just wrong.)

At any rate, running back Ryan Weatherspoon, who seems to be the workhorse for Lindblom, scored a touchdown and Makhi Cochran converted for two to give the Eagles an 8-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. But the celebration on the Lindblom side was short-lived as Kyle Fulkerson, who did practically everything for Ag Science, ran back the ensuing kickoff about 75 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, however, and the score was 8-6 when the two teams went into their respective locker rooms at halftime.

During the break I moved over to the visiting side; its bleachers extended farther and, with the sun at my back, made it easier to watch the action.

And there was plenty of action!

At the end of three the Cyclones had taken a 14-8 lead and seemed to have the momentum. But wide receiver Joshua Bufkin scored for the Eagles to tie the game at 14 with only three minutes left.

Were we headed for OT? No.

With less than a minute remaining, quarterback Bryce Walker (who had another solid performance) hit wide receiver Carlton Rutherford with a long pass to set up a Dimitri Gary score on the next play. (At least I think it was the next play.) The two-point conversion was good and the score was now Lindblom 22, Ag Science 14.

Game over? Not exactly. The Cyclones fought back valiantly in the final seconds, but an incomplete Hail Mary pass in the end zone ended the contest.

Lindblom, now 4-1 and in sole possession of first place in the Great Lakes Conference, will meet TEAM Englewood at Stagg Stadium this Saturday at 12:45. You could do a lot worse than watch that game.

By the way, Walker, Bufkin, Rutherford and Cochran are all sophomores. And Coach Pressley, once again, is in his first year at the helm of the West Englewood squad. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and say these guys are the next Phillips, but they certainly bear watching. Based on their schedule, the Eagles could very well finish the regular season at 8-1 with an enviable seed in the 5A bracket. Don't wait 'til then; get on the bandwagon now!

P. S. Coaches, I know you don't want opposing teams to read your players' numbers while scouting them from the stands, but it's really hard for us fans to tell who is who from those bogus stenciled numerals on the jerseys. It seems like almost half the schools I watch now (and I'm not exaggerating) have those and the scouts just bring binoculars to compensate for them. So you're not fooling anyone; you're just making it harder for the fans to appreciate the game. Please stop!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis addressed...

...Congress yesterday and liberals heard what they heard, conservatives heard what they heard, John Boehner cried his eyes out, and everyone will go back to believing what they believed before he arrived in the U. S. on Tuesday.

Do you really think some Democrat is going to wake up this morning and say, "Gee, maybe I've been wrong on abortion"? Or, "Should we rethink this whole gay marriage thing?" Or do you think a rank-and-file Republican is going to say to his colleagues on Monday, "You know, this pope really had a good point about immigration"? Or, "Maybe selling arms to other countries isn't such a good idea"? Please.

After the Pope leaves on Sunday, those Catholics who were going to Mass last week will continue to go to Mass, those who didn't won't and those who left the church will stay gone. If you used birth control last week you'll continue to use it, if you believed in capital punishment last week you still do, and whether or not you believe man has an impact on climate change will stay the same.

And the Pope? Let's face it: he doesn't really have that much power anyway. While he can change the Church's tone, he really can't change any of the rules. Even if Francis wanted to pick some of the low-hanging fruit, like allowing married couples to use birth control, letting divorced Catholics take Communion, or ordaining women into the priesthood, he couldn't. The Church is like an ocean liner in a small harbor. The Pope can't turn it around because of all the resistance from the clergy and laity. He's just a caretaker for the next pope.

Too cynical?

It's Friday, and before...

...I run up to Lincolnshire for that Libertyville - Stevenson game, let's check in with my other favorite sport, the 2016 race for the White House.

The Huffington Post poll, which tracks 169 polls from 30 pollsters, and the RealClearPolitics poll, which also updates regularly, show essentially the same thing: Donald Trump is still in the lead, although losing altitude.

Trump is followed by Ben Carson, also falling in RCP, but not necessarily in HP; upticks for Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina (a big one for her in RCP); and Ted Cruz hanging in there at a little over six percent.

The rest of the field is well under five percent.

On the prediction and betting websites, Bush and Rubio share the top two spots on PredictWise, PredictIt and Paddy Power (where Rubio surpassed Trump for second place this week).

What does all of this mean? Well, it's still early, of course, but right now it seems that Trump may have topped out. Are people getting bored with his schtick? He needs a second act to continue moving forward. Does he have one? We should find out soon enough. (My guess is yes -- are you kidding?)

As for Carson and Fiorina, are they just flashes in the pan, or do they have legs? I'd say the former, which begs the question: where would their support go? Would it all go to Trump? If so, that would give him about 50 percent. Or would it scatter?

And what about Jeb and Rubio? Does the GOP have its "heir and a spare"? Or will they both stay in and split the establishment vote? (And might they split it further with Chris Christie and John Kasich, who are both banking on a decent showing in New Hampshire?)

And then there's Ted Cruz, who hopes (I think) to hang around long enough to pick up the anti-establishment vote. (Makes sense, doesn't it? He's kind of a bottom-feeder.)

As for the rest -- Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore (and possibly Christie and Kasich) -- I guess the only question is who follows Scott Walker and runs out of money drops out next? (For the good of the party, of course.)

Where am I on all this? Hoo, boy. I'd still say it's Jeb's to lose, although he sure looks like he's trying awfully hard to lose it. (Did he really just say that?) Question: how long will the .01 percent that invested $114 million in Bush's campaign stick around? Forever? Or will they bolt to Rubio? (My dark horse.) And will it be sooner, or later?

I'll say Carson and Fiorina drop out sooner than people think (probably after Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively), although Carly will be on everyone's short list for running mate (but won't get it). Cruz will hang around longer, at least until the SEC primaries on March 1.

And Trump? Who knows? (Does he?) I predict the Donald sticks around until the convention, doesn't get the nomination (of course), and makes a lot of trouble for the eventual nominee.

The most likely GOP ticket as of today? Bush/Rubio. 

P. S. The Democratic race? Hillary

Bernie Sanders can't broaden his appeal beyond what used to be known as the "Brie and Chablis set," and even if Joe Biden gets in (and I'll say he doesn't) his best day would be the one on which he announces. Old Joe's numbers would almost surely drop from their already mediocre level.

P. P. S. Until further notice, Hillary beats Jeb

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The forecast for Saturday... 73 and sunny (according to my phone). To paraphrase the legendary Ernie Banks, "It'll be a beautiful day for a game; let's watch two!"

Yep, that's right, I plan on attending not one, but two, tilts this Saturday:

Agriculture Science (3-1) at Lindblom (3-1) at 9:30 at Stagg Stadium; and

Glenbard West (4-0) at Lyons (4-0) at 1:30.

As I said, it'll be a beautiful day for a game; how many more of those do you think you're going to get?

The first contest pits a couple of 3-1 teams in a battle for supremacy in the Great Lakes Conference of the Chicago Public League. The visiting Cyclones are ranked No. 407 by MaxPreps, while the home team Eagles are No. 340. Ag Science hasn't had a losing record since 2007 and beat Lindblom in the only two meetings that I'm aware of in the last ten years (home team in CAPS):

2014: AG SCIENCE 21, Lindblom 19
2011: Ag Science 14, LINDBLOM 0

But this time may be different, as first-year head coach Justin Pressley seems to be turning the Lindblom program around. Who will prevail? I'm not sure. Both teams have been solid since dropping their openers:

PAYTON 34, Ag Science 14
AG SCIENCE 44, South (WI) 16
AG SCIENCE 22, Corliss 12
AG SCIENCE 27, Longwood 0

Curie 60, LINDBLOM 14
Lindblom 22, ORR 16
LINDBLOM 32, Bowen 22
Lindblom 52, DOUGLASS 28

Either way, the winning squad will be 4-1 and only one victory away from qualifying for the playoffs. For Lindblom, it would be their first winning season since 2010, when today's seniors were in seventh grade.

The nightcap of my twin bill is the much anticipated West Suburban Silver matchup of Glenbard West and Lyons. The Hilltoppers are ranked No. 2 in the Sun-Times, No. 4 in the Tribune and No. 9 in MaxPreps; Lyons is ranked No. 22 in the Times and No. 45 in MaxPreps. But, interestingly, neither has beaten a winning team this year.

Here are the two schools' results so far:

GLENBARD WEST 28, Bolingbrook 7
GLENBARD WEST 50, Hinsdale South 31
Glenbard West 41, DOWNERS GROVE NORTH 0

LYONS 24, Warren 0
LYONS 23, Morton 20
LYONS 36, Proviso West 0
Lyons 10, Leyden 7

Now, while I'd like to see a good game every bit as much as the next guy, it's probably not going to happen this week in LaGrange. The Hitters haven't bowed to a conference foe since 2010. But who was it that beat them that year? Oh, yeah -- Lyons.

2014: GLENBARD WEST 28, Lyons 14
2013: Glenbard West 44, LYONS 7
2012: GLENBARD WEST 49, Lyons 7
2011: Glenbard West 31, LYONS 3
2010: Lyons 31, GLENBARD WEST 13
2009: Glenbard West 28, LYONS 7
2008: GLENBARD WEST 28, Lyons 14
2007: LYONS 21, Glenbard West 14
2006: Lyons 30, GLENBARD WEST 20
2005: LYONS 14, Glenbard West 13
2004: Lyons 27, GLENBARD WEST 14

As always, I'll be live-tweeting the games (assuming my battery doesn't run out) @BoringOldWhtGuy. See you there!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Donald Trump's grandparents...

...immigrated to the United States from Germany. His mother was an immigrant from Scotland. Trump's first wife, Ivana, immigrated from the Czech Republic. And his current wife, Melania, is an immigrant from Slovenia.

Does the Donald, of all people, really need to be told that the U. S. is a nation of immigrants?

If you can't find a parking spot...

...up at Stevenson on Friday night (or just don't feel like trying), there are several other good games you could catch instead.

The most obvious is Marian Central (4-0) at Joliet Catholic (4-0), for the lead in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The Hurricanes are coming off a big 34-19 upset over previously unbeaten Nazareth, last year's 6A champion. The Woodstock eleven also bested Crystal Lake South (3-1) in Week One, 21-14.

Joliet Catholic, for its part, defeated a Catholic League Blue team (and last year's 7A winner), Providence, 35-13, in the season opener, and a DuPage Valley school, Wheaton North, 34-14, the following week.

Last year the Hilltoppers downed Marian Central, 31-21, in what I believe was the first ever meeting between the two schools. Friday night's result should be similar.

Don't like that game either? Well, how about one of the following instead.

Up north:

Johnsburg (4-0) at Richmond-Burton (3-1)
A Big Northern East Conference matchup between two programs that often go deep in the playoffs.

New Trier (4-0) at Evanston (3-1)
There was a time when this would have been a big game (when I was a kid), but the Central Suburban Conference has fallen on hard times of late. The winner of this tilt should challenge Maine South for the title. (And fall short.)

Cary-Grove (4-0) at Huntley (4-0)
The Trojans, last year's 7A runners-up, could very well be the most underrated team in the state. A victory over the Red Raiders won't change that.

Barrington (4-0) at Schaumburg (3-1)
Could the Saxons really end Barrington's perfect season? No.

Fremd (4-0) at Conant (4-0)
Neither of these programs have beaten a team with a winning record. So, what? It's always good to watch two undefeateds go at it. Remember, someone is going to go home 5-0.

Vernon Hills (4-0) at Antioch (3-1)
Another contest between two squads that haven't beaten a winning team. Vernon Hills' opponents have a combined 1-15 record! Hey, the weather forecast for Friday night is clear with temperatures in the low 70s. What else do you have going on?

Down south:

Brother Rice (3-1) at St. Laurence (3-1)
An interesting matchup between a traditional Catholic League Blue power and a scrappy St. Laurence team coming off a big 70-40 win over previously unbeaten Bishop McNamara (3-1). Can the Burbank squad upset the Crusaders at home? No, but they could give them a scare.

Curie (4-0) at Simeon (2-2) at Gately
Don't let Simeon's ho-hum record fool you. The Wolverines made it to the 8A semifinals last year and are due to break out.

Tinley Park (4-0) at Lemont (3-1)
Who? Just go with it; beautiful night, remember?

Eisenhower (3-1) at Hillcrest (4-0)

Lincoln-Way North (4-0) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (4-0)
A couple of undefeated teams in the Southwest Suburban Red go at it.

Thornton (4-0) at Lincoln-Way West (4-0)
Same. But two of these guys will go home 5-0, setting up a good showdown for the conference title.

Lincoln-Way East (3-1) at Bolingbrook (2-2)
In a way, I can't believe I'm not going to this game. I watch it every year; it's one of the first I circle on my calendar at the beginning of the season. But this time the Raiders are only so-so and the Griffins lost their opener -- again -- to Oak Park River Forest. Will either team challenge Homewood-Flossmoor for the conference championship? My Magic 8 Ball says, "Outlook not so good." 

Out west:

Marist (3-1) at Benet (3-1)
A good East Suburban Catholic pairing of two teams headed for the postseason. The RedHawks, however, should get the better of the Redwings. (And I'll let you figure out which is which.)

Kaneland (3-1) at DeKalb (3-1) 
These two schools, along with Morris (3-1), are in a three-way tie for the lead in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference. Friday's tilt should clear things up a bit.

Batavia (4-0) at St. Charles North (3-1)
The Bulldogs are flying under everyone's radar right now, but if they beat St. Charles North they could surprise Naperville Central the following week. The North Stars, however, are coming off a heart-breaking 42-41 loss to Geneva and may not be in a very good mood. This could be the one everybody is talking about on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, there are two good games scheduled that I just might try to make:

Agriculture Science (3-1) at Lindblom (3-1) at 9:30; and
Glenbard West (4-0) at Lyons (4-0) at 1:30.

I'll have more to say about both tomorrow. Enjoy the games!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jack Larson, who played...

...the cub reporter Jimmy Olsen on the television series “Adventures of Superman,” died at age 87.

Mr. Larson lived in the George Sturges House in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Adlai Stevenson, governor...

...of Illinois, Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956, and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, lived in this house in Libertyville.

So it's fitting that the two schools, Stevenson and Libertyville, are rivals in football. They'll meet this Friday night in Lincolnshire for my Game of the Week.

The visiting Wildcats (4-0) are ranked No. 4 in the Sun-Times, No. 9 in the Tribune and No. 15 in MaxPreps.

The big news in Libertyville, of course, is their quarterback, Riley Lees, who's already committed to Northwestern (as an athlete, not necessarily a quarterback). As you can see below, Lees is directing an offense that is averaging 46.5 points a game. Wow.

On the other side of the ball is Ben Kimpler, a defensive end and Miami of Ohio recruit. 

Here's the Wildcats' 2015 schedule so far (with home team in CAPS):

LIBERTYVILLE 55, Elk Grove Village 28
Libertyville 48, LAKE FOREST ACADEMY 0
Libertyville 41, ZION-BENTION 0
LIBERTYVILLE 42, Lake Forest 7

The Patriots (3-1), meanwhile, the defending 8A champs, are ranked No. 8 in the Trib, No. 12 in the Times and No. 22 in MaxPreps.

The big name up in Lincolnshire is Jack Sorenson, who has also committed to Miami of Ohio (as a receiver). I'm a little unclear, to be honest, whether Sorenson is the Patriots' quarterback, or wide receiver, or if he's even healthy enough to play. (Didn't he get injured in that Homewood-Flossmoor game?) I'll find that all out on Friday. 

In the meantime, here's Stevenson's results so far: 

Stevenson 26, PALATINE 24
Homewood-Flossmoor 43, STEVENSON 29
STEVENSON 38, Lake Zurich 35
STEVENSON 20, Wauconda 7 OT

Looks a little shaky, doesn't it? Narrow wins over Palatine (3-1) and Lake Zurich (1-3) and an overtime victory against Wauconda (1-3). (They scored twice in OT?) And then there was that shellacking at the hands of H-F. In fairness, everyone's been shellacked by the Vikings. (Will they meet up with Loyola in the 8A final? That's the subject of another post.)

Even though it may be pointless to look at past meetups, it's interesting (to me, at least) to see that Libertyville hasn't gotten the better of Stevenson since 2008, when this year's seniors were in fifth grade:

2014: Stevenson 34, LIBERTYVILLE 14
2013: STEVENSON 49, Libertyville 0
2012: Stevenson 14, LIBERTYVILLE 9
2011: STEVENSON 13, Libertyville 0
2010: Stevenson 35, LIBERTYVILLE 21
2009: STEVENSON 36, Libertyville 22
2008: LIBERTYVILLE 28, Stevenson 21
2007: STEVENSON 24, Libertyville 21
2006: LIBERTYVILLE 21, Stevenson 12
2005: STEVENSON 31, Libertyville 0
2004: LIBERTYVILLE 34, Stevenson 12

Even though Libertyville looks like the favorite on paper, I'm going to go with the home team on Friday. (Although I'll be quietly rooting for the Wildcats.) Stevenson often starts the season slowly (do their systems take more time to learn?) but usually finishes strong. And they're not about to let some upstart unseat them from the North Suburban Lake crown. I say you have to beat the champ in the ring and I just don't think Libertyville is up to it.

You can follow the action with me on Friday night @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Somebody tweeted.”

The Fall Equinox...

...will be this Wednesday, September 23 (not today) and will pretty much coincide with the mid-point of the 2015 football season. Week Four is now behind us while Week Five looms large on the horizon.

What happened this past weekend? Well, the biggest news, I suppose, is that Nazareth got upset by Marian Central, 34-19, which caused the Roadrunners to drop out of Mike Helfgot's top ten at the Tribune and down to No. 10 in Beth Long's rankings at the Sun-Times. Neither of which was as precipitous as MaxPreps, though, which lowered the LaGrange Park school a full 29 spots to No. 38!

Why didn't I pick that as one of my Games of the Week? Because last year I saw Nazareth thoroughly dominate the Hurricanes and figured this time would be more of the same. I know kids graduate and all, but I thought the Roadrunners were still the team to beat in 6A and wouldn't be tested until Joliet Catholic in Week Seven. Friday was the first regular-season loss for Nazareth since September 21, 2013, to -- you guessed it! -- JCA.

Previously undefeated Naperville Central also fell, to Waubonsie Valley, 15-14, causing the Redhawks to drop to No. 11 in the Sun-Times, No. 19 in MaxPreps and out of the Trib rankings altogether. (Not even "On the Verge"!)

Hinsdale Central joined both Chicago papers' top ten this week and vaulted 11 spots to No. 14 in MaxPreps on the back of its 52-21 victory over York (1-3). York? Really?

MaxPreps continues to mystify. The website finally discovered Phillips, which leaped 16 spots after defeating Julian, 40-0; Brother Rice (3-1) climbed five tiers after its 46-33 victory over St. Francis; and Normal cracked the top ten after jumping eight with its 47-0 shutout of winless Manual.

Cary-Grove still doesn't get a whole lot of respect, even after the Trojans blanked previously undefeated Woodstock North, 34-0. MaxPreps has the defending 7A runners-up at No. 12, Ms. Long has them at No. 16 while Helfgot has them only "On the Verge."

My Game of the Week, Lake Forest at Libertyville (which I didn't even attend), was a bust, as the Wildcats easily handled the Scouts, 42-7. But that only sets up my next Game of the Week (yes, I'm tipping my hand early), as Libertyville travels to Stevenson (3-1).

The true Game of the Week, though, turned out to be that slugfest out in the Fox Valley, as Geneva edged St. Charles North, 42-41. I don't know anything else about that contest, but it must have been exciting!

Now, before I get to this week's rankings and the one game I ended up seeing, it's worth noting one more upset: St. Ignatius over Aurora Christian, 41-23. While St. Ignatius is known more for its academics (the Wolfpack went 1-8 in each of the last two seasons), the Eagles were undefeated going into the game and won the 3A crown as recently as 2011 and 2012.

On to the rankings! (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

Chicago Tribune

1. Homewood-Flossmoor 
2. Loyola
3. Mount Carmel
4. Glenbard West
5. Montini
6. Joliet Catholic
7. Phillips
8. Stevenson (3-1)
9. Libertyville
10. Hinsdale Central

Chicago Sun-Times

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Glenbard West
3. Loyola 
4. Libertyville 
5. Montini
6. Phillips 
7. Mount Carmel
8. Joliet Catholic
9. Hinsdale Central  
10. Nazareth (3-1) 


1. Loyola
2. Montini
3. Homewood-Flossmoor 
4. Phillips
5. Sacred Heart-Griffin
6. Joliet Catholic 
7. Rochester  
8. Brother Rice (3-1)
9. Glenbard West
10. Normal Community 

I fully intended to drive up north for that Lake Forest - Libertyville contest, but the rain upset my plans (as well as everyone else's). Saturday was a three-ring circus around here (aren't things supposed to calm down once you're an empty-nester?), so I didn't make it out to River Grove for the game between Aurora Central Catholic and Guerin, which the visitors won, 37-28. (And garnered a not-so-favorable piece in the Tribune.)

I was, however, able to sneak away in the afternoon and ride my bike the eight or nine miles up to Hanson Stadium on the Northwest Side (it was a beautiful day!) for the Lindblom at Douglass tilt, which the visiting Eagles won, 52-28.

I really didn't know what to expect, even though I had written a post on Lindblom before the season. Head coach Justin Pressley seems to be having quite an impact in his first season with the West Englewood squad. The Eagles, just 2-7 last year, are out to an impressive 3-1 start with a big showdown this Saturday with Agricultural Science. The Cyclones are also 3-1 after their shutout of Longwood this weekend, 27-0, so the contest will be for the lead in the Chicago Great Lakes Conference.

On Saturday my battery died as soon as I sat down in the stadium so I wasn't able to tweet or consult the Internet or anything. I also didn't have a program so I can't tell you much about the players, except that sophomore Bryce Walker (No. 1 with fancy gold shoes) had a heck of a game at quarterback for Lindblom.

Pressley really seems to have his players performing as a team and the fan support in the stands was impressive too. The Eagles like onside kicks, punts on fourth down not so much, and going for the home run on occasion (and making it!).

I just might have to take in that game against Ag Science this weekend; I have a feeling we may be hearing a lot more about Lindblom before the season is over. (Are these guys the next Phillips?)

Friday, September 18, 2015

The guy who owns...

...this house probably pays taxes at a lower rate than you.

"You could say there was a little justice in the world," said hedge fund billionaire David Tepper. Yes, Mr. Tepper, very little.

But that could change. According to a piece in the Times today, "Trump Lands a Blow Against Carried Interest Tax Loophole" (my emphasis):

...the people who benefit are among the richest in the country. Even though most hedge funds haven’t had a very good year, last year the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a combined $11.62 billion, according to Institutional Investor, or an average of $467 million each. The latest data from the Internal Revenue Service for the top 400 earners, a list studded with hedge fund and private equity managers, show that in 2012 they paid the second-lowest average federal tax rate since the data has been collected, a mere 16.7 percent, in large part because much of their income (an average of 57 percent) is taxed at the lower capital gains rate.

That’s one reason the loophole has survived as long as it has. “The group that benefits may be small, but they’re rich and they give a lot of money” to politicians, said Daniel Shaviro, a specialist in tax policy and law professor at New York University School of Law. “To everyone else it can seem a vague talking point. It’s classic interest group politics.”

As Donald Trump correctly observed, “The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.”

Carly Fiorina asked Democrats...

...on Wednesday night to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton's.

Okay, how about this one: She was an integral part of an administration that delivered eight years of peace and prosperity.

Now, can you name an accomplishment?

Like any good political...

...junkie, I can't wait to see the latest polls after Wednesday night's Republican debate. I expect Carly Fiorina, the consensus winner, to get a bit of a bump, largely at the expense of the two frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. (The rest, I'd say, will stay in single digits.)

But until the polls come out, we have only the betting and prediction markets to go on. (They might be better, anyway; and they have the advantage of updating in real-time.) So let's get right to it; where do we stand at the end of the week?

Paddy Power (with odds):

1. Jeb Bush 7/4
2. Donald Trump 3/1
3. Marco Rubio 6/1
4. Scott Walker 7/1
5. Ben Carson 8/1
6. John Kasich 11/1
7. Carly Fiorina 12/1

PredictWise (with percentage chance):

1. Jeb Bush 37%
2. Marco Rubio 17
3. Donald Trump 13
4. Carly Fiorina 9
5. Scott Walker 4
6. Ben Carson 4

PredictIt (with price):

1. (tie) Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush $0.30
2. Carly Fiorina .23
3. Donald Trump .19
4. Ben Carson .18

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, all of them still show Hillary beating Jeb in the general.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I keep hearing Republican...

...candidates for president say they want to rebuild the nation's defenses. And I always think, huh?

This piece (admittedly from 2013) from the Washington Post, "America’s staggering defense budget, in charts," makes a point that's still relevant today (my emphasis):

The United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined in 2011.

I thought Republicans were supposed to be the party of smaller government. How much more do they want to spend on defense?

Carly Fiorina was the...

...clear winner in last night's debate -- she was prepared, smooth and crisp. But it doesn't change her biggest liability: she's just not qualified to be president. Fiorina is a great speaker and debater (what a good answer about her failed tenure at Hewlett-Packard!) and could very well be the eventual nominee's running mate. But Ms. Fiorina does have one other problem: she's no more "likable" than Hillary Clinton (or anyone else, for that matter).

Donald Trump and Ben Carson showed themselves to be empty suits last night, but the big question is: Will it even matter? (How Carson even got on that stage is a mystery to me. Well, not really: Republicans love black conservatives. But could anyone really see him in the White House?)

Rand Paul and Chris Christie also did well, I thought, but probably not enough to save their dying campaigns.

As for the rest of them, I doubt if anyone moved the needle. Bush came across as a weak version of his dad and brother -- it's really hard to believe he will get the nomination. Cruz is smarmy, and Huckabee, Rubio, Walker and Kasich were just plain invisible.

Bottom line: Fiorina's poll numbers should improve, while the Donald's rapid ascent may finally slow down a little. But that's about it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Donald Trump is...

...a bully, right? (I don't even think the Donald would disagree with that.)

So how do you deal with a bully? Or, should I ask, how do the other Republican candidates in tonight's debate deal with a bully?

Personally, I have no idea. (And I'm glad I'm not on that stage with him tonight.) But, really, Republicans need to be asking themselves that question. And I don't think the answer is a million dollars worth of advertising by the Club for Growth. (Or the Club for Greed, as Mike Huckabee calls it.)

From Bloomberg today:

Javier Palomarez, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Republican voters “will come to their senses.”

And I agree. We all agree. But . . . how long will that take?

Joe McCarthy, another famous Republican bully, began his reign of terror in February, 1950, and didn't get taken down until almost four and a half years later, in June, 1954. Now in this day and age of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, it shouldn't take that long, should it?

The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for Monday, February 1. That means the Republican Party establishment has less than five months to figure this problem out. Tonight will be their first chance. I'll be watching.

Looking for a Saturday game?

You could go out to Concordia University in River Forest and see Loyola (3-0) at Fenwick (1-2). (Yeah, you could do that.)

But after watching the Ramblers shut out Brother Rice last weekend, 28-0, and after the Friars fell to previously winless De La Salle, 27-20, I'm not so sure that'll be much of a contest. (Sorry Coach Nudo.)

There's also Benet (2-1) at St. Patrick (2-1), normally a good East Suburban Catholic matchup. But both squads are coming off losses, the Redwings to Notre Dame and the Shamrocks to Nazareth. (And I'm a momentum trader.)

How about Rich South (1-2) at Rich Central (2-1), in a battle of the Riches? Admittedly, I don't know much about either team except that they're both coming off losses, too. (Although I almost went to a similar game last year.)

So what's a high school football fanatic to do?

Well, you could go and see an up and coming team, like Guerin or Lindblom. Or both.

The Guerin Crusaders (2-1) host the Chargers of Aurora Central Catholic (1-2) out in River Grove at 1:00. It's a Metro Suburban crossover game pitting Guerin, in a three-way tie for the lead of the East division, against ACC, a West division team that made it to the 4A playoffs last year. 3A Guerin is currently ranked No. 352 in MaxPreps; ACC is No. 377.

If you're not satisfied after watching that contest (and it's a long wait until Week Five), you could always cruise on over to Hanson Stadium on the Northwest Side (which, despite its grim exterior, above, is actually a great place to watch a game) and see the Lindblom Eagles (2-1) take on the Douglass Tigers (2-1). Both Chicago Public League schools are on two-game winning streaks after dropping their openers. They're also part of a four-way tie for first place in the Great Lakes Conference with Agriculture Science and Longwood, who are also meeting this Saturday. (If nothing else, we should have a much clearer picture of the conference after this weekend.)

Lindblom, which is looking to make the 5A playoffs, is ranked No. 370 in MaxPreps while 1A Douglass comes in at No. 495.

I say both Guerin and Lindblom are headed for the postseason this year. If you want to fill out an intelligent bracket you really need to see these guys now.

If it doesn't rain, I'll be live-tweeting the contests @BoringOldWhtGuy. Get out and see a game this weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gary Richrath, lead guitarist...

...for REO Speedwagon, died at age 65.

Okay, Mike Helfgot, I'll...

...take your advice and go see Lake Forest (2-1) at Libertyville (3-0) this Friday.

Helfgot wrote after Libertyville's season opening win over Elk Grove, 55-28:

Must-see QB: Speaking of eye-opening performances by players we already knew were good, Riley Lees comes to mind.

The Libertyville quarterback, a Northwestern recruit as a receiver, ran for a 72-yard touchdown on the first play of the season and finished with 307 yards and 6 TDs on 19 carries. He also completed 10-of-18 passes for 147 and didn't throw a pick.

Whether or not you're a Wildcats fan — Northwestern or Libertyville — do yourself a favor and go see Rees play.

The Sept. 18 home game against Lake Forest, Sept. 25 at Stevenson or Oct. 2 against Lake Zurich in Libertyville would be good times.

To be fair, Beth Long of the Sun-Times also ranked Lees the best quarterback in the state. And all he's done so far this year is lead Libertyville's offense to a staggering 144 points in three outings. (That's an average of 48 per game!)

While I'm a little disappointed Lake Forest lost last week, 34-28, to Warren (1-2), the Scouts haven't bowed to the Wildcats since 2008 (when this year's seniors were in fifth grade). Last year was a relatively close one, though, as Lake Forest prevailed, 29-20. Will this be the year Libertyville breaks its losing streak?

The Scouts defeated Niles North in Week Two, 44-22. And the Vikings annihilated Niles West last week, 52-27. Libertyville is undefeated, of course, but has only beaten one winning team, Zion-Benton, 41-0, in Week Three.

Lake Forest, a perennial 6A playoff contender, is ranked No. 46 in MaxPreps; Libertyville is No. 4 in the Sun-Times, No. 10 in the Tribune and No. 29 in MaxPreps.

It's my Game of the Week.

Not sold? Okay; how about one of these?

Up north:

Cary-Grove (3-0) at Woodstock North (3-0)
The Thunder has outscored its opponents, 150-19, but Cary-Grove is Cary-Grove.

Down south:

St. Francis (3-0) at Brother Rice (2-1)
Can the Spartans play with the big boys in the Catholic League Blue?

And way out west:

Geneva (3-0) at St. Charles North (3-0)
Two undefeated Upstate Eight (River) teams go at it.

Minooka (3-0) at Oswego (2-1)
Two of the best quarterbacks in the state, Johnny Carnagio and Steven Frank, will face off against each other.

 Enjoy the games!

P. S. I'll be live-tweeting that Lake Forest - Libertyville contest @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I have to admit...'s kind of hard to dislike this guy after watching him in this bit with Jimmy Fallon. For someone who's famously thin-skinned, Trump is a pretty good sport here.

P. S. Don't worry, I'm still voting for Hillary.

The regular season is now...

...a third of the way over (tempus fugit!) and the only thing the three news services can agree on is that Homewood-Flossmoor is one of the two best teams in Illinois.

There was no change this week to Mike Helfgot's top ten, but Beth Long at the Sun-Times finally relented and dropped Simeon (1-2) while elevating Phillips and Loyola (above). In MaxPreps, Sacred Heart-Griffin vaulted eight spots to No. 4 and Cary-Grove twelve to No. 6. (The Trojans are only No. 18 in the Times and "on the verge" in the Tribune.)

While MaxPreps is looking smarter and smarter with that preseason No. 1 ranking for Loyola, I don't understand why they lowered Phillips 15 spots and raised Simeon eight after the Wildcats defeated the Wolverines, 29-18. Also, Barrington fell eight places after beating Elk Grove, 42-18, and undefeated Libertyville, ranked in the top ten in both the Trib and Times, comes in at only No. 29 despite shutting out Zion-Benton, 41-0.

I'd say Helfgot has it about right at this point in the season: H-F and Loyola in the 8A final (with Glenbard West, Naperville Central and possibly Stevenson as potential spoilers.)

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

Chicago Tribune

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

Chicago Sun-Times

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


1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor 
3. Montini 
4. Sacred Heart-Griffin
5. Rochester Phillips
6. Cary-Grove 
7. Joliet Catholic 
8. Glenbard West
9. Nazareth
10. East St. Louis (2-1)

What happened this weekend? I think the big news is that Loyola shut out previously undefeated Brother Rice; Phillips had a big "statement" win over Simeon; Bolingbrook and Fenwick were both upset; St. Rita may be weaker than we thought; and Lake Zurich and Providence are still looking for their first wins of the season.

(That should all end this Friday, though, as Lake Zurich takes on Zion-Benton (2-1) at home while Providence travels to 1-2 Marmion.)

As for me, I missed what may have been the best game of the week, Richards' come-from-behind victory on the road over Lemont, 28-24, and saw only the first half of the Loyola and Phillips games, the latter online. (My game selection/attendance has admittedly been less than optimal so far.)

The Rambler performance I witnessed on Saturday may have been one of the best I've ever seen. If I remember correctly, Loyola scored on three of its first four possessions with the other a punt that rolled down to the Brother Rice one-inch line. Not only did the Wilmette squad jump out to an early 21-0 lead, but their scoring drives were quick! quick! quick! (Can anyone on their schedule* beat them?) It reminded me of what Mike Helfgot said about Homewood-Flossmoor:

With 99 points and several long touchdowns to its credit through two games, H-F may actually be scoring too easily.

Quick possessions means little rest for the defense...

The only difference, however, is that Loyola's defense has been stellar as well: in three games, the Ramblers have outscored their opponents, 112-8!

(The fans in the bleachers on Saturday were positively giddy about that big win over Maine South the previous week. They said it was the first time a running clock had been used against the Hawks at home, if ever. One of the guys even said it had been important to "humiliate" Maine South. Yikes!)

Tomorrow: Pickings may be slim for Week Four, but I think I found at least a few good games worth the drive.

* While I'm sure everyone on the North Shore is looking forward to that Week Nine showdown with Mount Carmel, I wouldn't be surprised if Providence gave Loyola its best game of the season down in New Lenox in two weeks.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Notre Dame football...

...was in the Times yesterday (how's that for a shameless example of "Search Engine Optimization"?) in a piece by Dan Barry, "Notre Dame President Stands Firm Amid Shifts in College Athletics."

The author has a conversation with the university's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins (above, right), regarding:

...the growing demand that student-athletes share in the revenue they generate; the calls for N.C.A.A. reform; the push for unionization; academic fraud, sexual assaults, seamy cover-ups.

There's so much here it's hard to know where to begin. So let's take it point by point. 

The first is one Joe Nocera beat me to in his column this morning, "Notre Dame’s Big Bluff." Before I get to Nocera's reaction, what did Barry's piece say? (All emphasis mine.)

[Jenkins] adamantly opposes a model in which college sheds what is left of its amateur ways for a semiprofessional structure — one in which universities pay their athletes. “Our relationship to these young people is to educate them, to help them grow,” he says. “Not to be their agent for financial gain.”

And if that somehow comes to pass, he says, Notre Dame will leave the profitable industrial complex that is elite college football, boosters be damned, and explore the creation of a conference with like-minded universities.

That’s right: Notre Dame would take its 23.9-karat-gold-flecked football helmets and play elsewhere.

“Perhaps institutions will make decisions about where they want to go — a semipro model or a different, more educational model — and I welcome that,” Father Jenkins says. “I wouldn’t consider that a bad outcome, and I think there would be schools that would do that.”

Pundits scoffed when Jack Swarbrick, the university’s athletic director, voiced similar sentiments this year. No way would Notre Dame — practically French for college football — set aside its national ambitions and settle for Saturday matchups against, say, Carnegie Mellon.
Think of it, they reasoned. Television and sports-apparel contracts would dry up, alumni generosity would decline, and the best athletes would go elsewhere. Notre Dame would no longer be ... Notre Dame.

The scholar-president disagrees. Notre Dame will remain Notre Dame no matter what, he says, fully aware that he is on the record.

Nocera thinks he's bluffing:

Would Notre Dame actually turn its back on something as central to the university’s identity just because it would have to pay a handful of its students?

Not long ago, the University of Alabama at Birmingham — a nobody in football terms — tried to cancel football but quickly reinstated it after a huge outcry. Can you imagine what Notre Dame would face if it de-emphasized football?

And my point about Jenkins is this: Who in the heck does he think he is? Notre Dame football is much bigger than any one individual. Jenkins is the president of Notre Dame, not the pope. Can the president make a unilateral decision about the football program, or is he answerable to a board of trustees? And as for "boosters be damned," seriously? A wise man once told me that everyone has a boss. Someone else once said, "follow the money." So aren't boosters and alums Jenkins's bosses?

If you'll recall, back in 2004 Notre Dame's board ignored its president and athletic director and fired football coach Tyrone Willingham:

As Notre Dame continues its search for a new head football coach, the university's outgoing president yesterday boldly criticized the university for firing Tyrone Willingham after three seasons as coach.

The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, who will retire as Notre Dame's president on July 1, told a sports forum in Manhattan that he and Athletic Director Kevin White wanted to give Willingham five seasons to prove himself, in line with university precedent.

"In my 18 years, there have been only two days that I have been embarrassed to be president of Notre Dame, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, because I felt we had not abided by our precedent," Malloy said, referring to Willingham's dismissal. Malloy's remarks were reported by and The Sports Business Daily.

Malloy criticized what he called "a strong presence of the board of trustees" in the firing of Willingham, whose team went 6-5 this season. Patrick McCartan, who is the chairman of Notre Dame's board of trustees, and Philip Purcell, who is the chairman of the board's athletics committee, were two of the seven administrators who met on Nov. 29 to determine Willingham's fate.

So that's point number one: If colleges start paying football players, Jenkins is kidding himself if he thinks he has the power to stop that at Notre Dame.

Next: Are Notre Dame football players "student-athletes" or professional athletes?