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Who are the current music geniuses?

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I’ve got a solid six geniuses from my gen.

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1979 was a good year to be an entering freshman and music lover.*  I thought as much at the time and now I think it can be said so objectively.  The Police, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, U2, Squeeze, B-52s, Joe Jackson, REM, Pretenders, English Beat were all breaking new.  Petty, Thorogood, Stones, Aerosmith had gas left in the tank for the old guard.  Springsteen in his prime.  Michael Jackson’s best album came out that year.  Prince’s first.  I soaked it in.

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Aerosmith, late 70s. Not shown: way too many pharmaceuticals. Not heard: the worst concert band I’ve witnessed. (Saw them in 2006 when they were dry… they’re quite good live now.)

So when I see music tweets in my timeline referencing artists I don’t know or, worse, don’t understand, there may not be a better way to recognize my elderly-ness.

Especially since I always thought of myself as a guy who wouldn’t stay locked into a music time warp.  I mean I moved on from my favorite bands in high school (Aerosmith, Todd Rundgren, Yes) to new wave, got into blues when I moved to Chicago.  (Literally threw money at Son Seals around two or three AM at Kingston Mines and followed it up with rib tips from Leons on Clark around 4…  but I digress.)  Like, “Hey I’m listening to English Beat and my high school buddies are still on Nugent.”

I thought I was with it.

Flash forward to the 90s and I’m still trying to stay current but finding it harder.  Sublime, Beck, Nirvana, I got.  Beyond that, I didn’t get it and also slowly stopped trying.  “Just tee up the Natalie Merchant, wifey, k, thx.”  Pearl Jam was a major divide.  Didn’t (and still don’t) get it… although Eddie Vedder’s music from Into the Wild was much appreciated.  Black Keys is pretty much the only current band I get unless you count OCMS.

So I posed a question to my younger friends on twitter yesterday:

q to the musical: my gen had two geniuses, lennon and marley. plus maybe prince. who are the geniuses of this generation?

Naturally, since then I’ve had a chance to think about it and the list is now longer.  And so, in the words of one of our geniuses:  How did I get here?

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Define genius.

I’m not sure you could raise a more subjective topic with a more subjective metric.  Not for the last time, I’ll state the obvious:  this is just one man’s take using gut feel measure.

For me, genius means quasi-God-like.  Other-worldly.  Hmm.. I’m not defining this very well; let’s go with examples.  There were many great artists in the Renaissance, only one Da Vinci.  Many great Baroque Classical Era composers, but Mozart and Beethoven stand apart.  Max Planck was a gifted physicist; Einstein was Einstein.

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Of course the inventor of three-finger banjo is a genius. Only debate is if he’s my generation.

It’s probably the worst way to think of it, but to me, the genius gets applied where there’s universal consensus.  Thus Lennon and Marley.  And since it’s my post, there’s going to be a bias based on whether I loved their music (e.g., no Jimi Hendrix.) and also whether or not I know their music (e.g., no Miles Davis).

Circling back to the subject.  Here’s one guy’s relative genius rating of the music from his generation.  (Original list in black font; additions in blue.)

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Einstein level.

John Lennon, Bob Marley, Prince, David Byrne, Earl Scruggs**, Brian Wilson, Neil Young.  Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, James Taylor.

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Planck level.

Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, Al Green, Elton John, Jimmy Page, Van Morrison, Sting, Freddie Mercury (moved up), James Taylor (moved up), Bono, Mark Mothersbaugh.  Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, David Bowie (grudging, see below), David Gilmour, Lowell George, Cat Stevens, Mick Jones, Pete Townshend.

Question:  who in this group is best candidate to move into top tier? 

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Oppenheimer level.

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Real easy to forget his pre-80s works.

Jim Morrison, Christine McVie, Jerry Garcia, Billy Joel (moved down), Angus Young, Ronnie Van Zant, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, Donald Fagan, Rod Stewart, Eddie Van Halen, Pete Townshend (moved up), Paul Rodgers, Ted Nugent (moved down), George Clinton.  Mark Knopfler, Marvin Gaye, Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty, Joe Strummer, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding.

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Post-doctoral work.

Joe Perry, Chryssie Hynde, Madonna, Ted Nugent, Ray Davies, (fine Bup, and because consensus matters) Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Joe Jackson, Bob Seger, Robert Palmer, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne.

Chop that up any way you want.  It’s opinion; it’s for fun.  And it’s guaranteed to require editing.  I’m actually curious to see who I’m forgotting or who gets moved.  So I’ll keep this original set in black, any edits will be in some other color.

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What about now? (more…)

Redemption for Quentin Groves.

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Down goes JaMarcus.

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Quentin Groves had a nice day at camp yesterday.  He’s shaping up as a fascinating story to me.  He got on my radar with a YouTube clip I found when I was doing the college bands post.

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[No really.  Click that YouTube link.  I’ll wait.]

Groves was quite the star for Auburn.  The Jags traded up to take him in the second round.  Now he’s on his fourth team in five years and this might be his last shot.  We’re all about learning from mistakes and love redemption stories here at Kanick.  So we’re pulling hard for Groves because the guy was on top of the world just a couple years ago.  We want to him to get back there.

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Chronology of fail. disappointment. non-meeting of expectations.

Groves came into Jacksonville with Derrick Harvey and the idea was instant pass-rush.  Didn’t work out.  Harvey* held out and is now out of the league.  Groves was shipped to the Raiders for a fifth rounder two years later and here’s the report from the time:

… Groves failed to get a sack last year while starting seven games.  He had two in his rookie season.  Groves played in every game his first two seasons and played significantly on special teams.  He might have had trouble making the final roster this season.

Groves was a kind of tweener in Jacksonville; he struggled at both defensive end and linebacker as he couldn’t duplicate the pass-rushing ability he showed at Auburn, where he tied for the school’s sacks record with 26.  At 6 feet 3 and 264 pounds, he couldn’t overpower offensive tackles.  When he tried to speed rush, he typically was blocked past the quarterback.

And also this from Oakland getting their fans up to speed on the Raiders’ new tweener:

In two years with the Jags, Groves had just 2.5 sacks.  The Jaguars were expecting Groves to be a pass rushing presence, but in 2009, in seven starts, he provided little and the team ultimately ended at the bottom of the league with a total of 14 sacks.

The faint praise preceding him carried through into Raiders camp with at least one writer predicting he’d be cut from the Raiders before the 2010 season: (more…)

Clearing the decks.

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New Miami unis. As far as *new* uniforms go, these are as subtle as it gets. (While still fitting in some chrome, of course.)

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Tarted-up uniforms done right, done wrong, and John Greco.

UPDATE 7/26, MUST READ:  Training Camp Dispatch from @zachluby via Reboot.

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Miami’s new uniforms, very prodesse quam conspici.

Miami University (my alma mater) is out with new football uniforms.  Ever since Miami dropped the Redskins nickname in favor of Redhawks (1997), there’s been a struggle -in my opinion- to hit the mark for Miami’s sports teams’ uniforms.  After all Miami is a school heavy on tradition.  Kissing under the Upham Arch.  Beta, Sigma Chi, Phi Delt alpha chapters.  Miami was a school before Florida was a state.  Et cetera.

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Prodesse quam conspici.

So do you capture the tradition of a school founded in 1809 when your new nickname sounds like a NY-Penn short season Class A minor baseball team?

Welp they did good with this iteration.  And, it seems, they did it by using their seal as the main design element.  Prodesse quam conspici translates roughly to “Progress without being all proud and showy about it.”

That’s what this uniform does.  It brings in new design elements like the shiny helmet and a new approach to the shoulder treatment.  But it stops short of glitzing it up with lots of stripes or piping or fluorescent color tones.

I’m thinking of Michigan as a case study in doing it wrong.  Don’t know the latin for “Conspicuous regression” but Michigan represents it in a football uniform.  Michigan’s contract with adidas is worth $80m.  Maybe they should have taken $60m from Russell and kept their soul.  Or maybe they should have just kept control over what their jersey should look like.  Whatever the case:  Michigan, take a cue from Miami and get back to your best-in-the-country uniforms that you used to have.

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Great uniforms with great tradition are not to be screwed with.

Well done Miami; Adidas, you surprised me in a good way. (more…)

Bizarro Browns defenses: Cincy and Tampa.

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Atkins (97) and Dunlap (96) attacking aggressively.

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I’ve been critical of the Browns’ off-season strategies this year.  But the area that I most misunderstand is the imperative for a whole new defense.  Putting a finer point on it, I think the Browns have needlessly junked a promising defensive scheme (with the best+deepest+youngest d-line rotation in league) and passed on quality FAs to improve the d-backfield while simultaneously and breathlessly hyping how smart they are for discovering this Attacking Aggressive Horton 3-4 Defense (AAH34D).

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3-4 defenses highlighted in yellow.  Seven out of ten top defenses ran 4-3. Imagine how much better they’d be with the AAH34D.

The corollary to the Browns stridency in their adoption of the AAH43D is that if you’re running a 4-3, you’re.. well you’re old-fashioned at best but really borderline dull.

Yet it turns out the seven out of the top ten defenses (points allowed) run a 4-3.  (See right.)

The biggest issue with the AAH34D is this:  we mainly don’t like to have our back pissed on and be told it’s raining.  That’s been that pattern and it continued with Joe Banner’s interview with Terry Pluto over the weekend.  Word search of Pluto’s piece reveals five ‘attacks’ and two ‘aggressives.’  Banner also made a point of telling us obfuscating about spending $90m on free agency.  It’s actually $22.7 this year when measuring by average salary:

  • Kruger, 8.1m
  • Bryant, 6.8
  • Everyone else, 7.8 (Campbell, 1.9; Barnidge, 1.2; Groves, 1.1; Graham, 1.0; Hoyer, 1.0; Owens, 1.0; Nelson, 0.6).

So, of $22.7m in average salary in this year’s FA spend, 70.4% was on the defensive front.  4% on the defensive backfield.  Implied message:  we don’t need to worry about finding a cornerback or free safety because attacking defensive front five in an aggressive 3-4.

Welp.

It didn’t escape my notice that the Bengals extended Carlos Dunlap last week.  In addition to that, Michael Johnson got the franchise tag from the Bengals this year and there are some indicators that the Bengals are trying to keep him.*  In addition to that, they drafted Margus Hunt in the second round.  That’s a hell of investment in the conventional DE-DT-DT-DE front four.

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Sheard, Rubin, Taylor with Hughes/Winn rotating in…  was shaping up as special.

The other part of the Browns defensive personnel strategy is, or seems to be, d-backs aren’t a worthy investment and, of course, height doesn’t matter.

Welp.

Couldn’t help but notice that Tampa signed Dashon Goldson, traded their first rounder for Darrell Revis, and drafted Johnathan Banks in the second round.  Those three will pair up with last year’s seventh overall, Mark Barron.  That’s a hell of an investment in the secondary.

This morning I want to take a look at these two defenses and challenge the wisdom of the new Browns’ gutting of the old Browns’ defensive scheme.

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The Bengals are building a beast front four in their 4-3.

We love a great front four on a 4-3 defense and the Bengals are building one.  According to the latest depth chart: (more…)

Keeping the world safe from offset language.

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Browns cap number: greater than three sigmas from mean. #analytics #math #stats
Click to see dataset used “CAP SPACE, 7/18.”

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We can all sleep easier, Joe Banner has taken the black to protect -someone- from the NFL version of grumpkins and snarks:  offset language.  If this means the Browns top draft pick has to hold out, that’s ok.  Pay that no mind and don’t forget the guys who are at Berea have a healthier cafeteria?  Good thing the Browns have staffed their communications and fan experience departments.

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Tonight his watch begins.

Berea seems to be asking a lot of loyal Browns fans this off-season.

As of 7/19 AM, Barkevious Mingo is unsigned due to the line-in-the-sand drawn by Joe Banner on offset language.

Here’s a definition of offset language.  As I’ll show below, it doesn’t matter.  But we should be on the same page on what we’re talking about.

Thanks to the new CBA, first-round contracts are four-year deals with a fifth-year option for the team.  That option must be picked up by the March following the player’s third year.  Once that is exercised, a player’s fifth year of the contract (as much as $10 million) is guaranteed for injury.  Essentially, teams will make decisions on their first-rounders after Year 3, determining whether or not they want to be on the hook for the remaining money.

But in the fourth year comes the debate over offset language.  If there is offset language, it allows the team to save money when releasing a player. Let’s say a first-rounder is due $2 million in his fourth year.  If he’s released, and then agrees to a $2 million deal with a new team, the original team is completely off the hook.  He receives $2 million from his new club, and the team that drafted him washes its hands of the situation.  If there is no offset language, the discarded player receives the guaranteed money from his original team and the full salary from his new team. The original team can’t merely allow the new team to pay the remaining guaranteed money as part of the new deal.

This is interesting background and shows how utterly improbable it is that offset language will ever factor.  If the Browns are waiving Barky Mingo after four years… no one else is signing him.  We don’t even need a bell curve for this.  Won’t happen.

[And quite frankly, why SHOULD a player accept offset language?  If I’m not working for you, because you fired me, who the hell are you to restrict my future earnings?]

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Wasn’t gonna start anyway so no biggie?

But even if it WAS a realistic possibility, it doesn’t matter.  The market has been set.  Robert Quinn got a contract without offsets at #14 last year.  In 2012 only one top 10 pick did not have offset language:  the implausibly highly drafted Ryan Tannehill.  (And I would bet my left nut that “The Brady Quinn Holdout of 2007” figured in the Tannehill talks.)  This year, three top 10 picks have signed (Joeckel, Ansah, Austin).  None have offset language.  But we can shorten this discussion:  Tavon Austin was drafted at #8.  Mingo was drafted at #6.  If you were an agent, would you allow your client at #6 to sign to worse terms than this year’s #8?  Than last year’s top 10s?

You would not.  That is because your singular reason for existence is to know the market and ensure your player is paid at or above it.  To do otherwise without specific reasons is bad for your client, true, but also career limiting ending for you.  Imagine interviewing your next client.  “Yeah I was the only agent who didn’t get offset language waived for my top ten draft pick client.”  “Click.”

This is nothing more than a hold-the-line GM and responsible agent richard measuring contest.  And Banner will lose.  Even if he wins, he loses.  Because it’s more important to have the sixth overall pick in camp on time than it is to prevent an individual from striking a contract with another business after you fired him.  In four years.

To recap the hand Banner is playing:

1. The market says #6 picks do not have offset language.
2. Offset language itself is highly improbable to go into effect.
3. Agents hate being the worst ones at their jobs.
4. It’s a wrong policy for any employment contract on it’s face.

(more…)

The curious case of Alex Mack.

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Banner says: earn it.
Probable outcome: the Berkeley grad says eff-you, challenge accepted, and buh-bye.

The problems with the Mangini-era drafts have been well documented.  (Not even gonna link.)  But less widely acknowledged is that he won the Sanchez trade.

The actual trade was the Browns’ #5 pick in 2009 (Sanchez) for #21 (Mack), #52 (Veikune) plus Jets vets Coleman, Ratliff, and Elam, plus two trade-backs for late picks (Davis and Francies).  Never mind that the Seahawks saved Mangini from himself by taking Aaron Curry at #4.  Never mind that he traded #17 (Freeman) for the #19 (Maclin) before settling on #21.  Seems foolish to talk about Percy Harvin being taken with the pick after Mack… can you imagine Harvin in the Shurmur offense?  Hell, never mind that six of the seven players coming the Browns way are no longer factors in the league.

Alex Mack straight-up for Mark Sanchez is a win.

Since 2009 Alex Mack has started every game at center for the Browns.  That’s 48 in a row; rather a major accomplishment for an NFL player.  In so doing, Mack has gained a reputation as being one of the top five centers in the league.  We won’t cite the pro-bowl appearance since that was an injury-replacement on the third team.  But still pro-bowl appearance and effectively 4th team AFC center in his second year.  In short:  Mack has done all that could have been expected from him.  In fact, he’s exceeded reasonable expectations.  (Here’s one re-draft of the 2009 first round that rates only Brian Cushing ahead of Mack for best value.)

Mack is a UFA at the end of this year.

Why are the Browns’ dragging their feet in extending his contract?  Why are the Browns leaving the door open for him to leave as a free-agent?

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Rating Mack.

I’m not the guy who pours through the game tape looking at footwork, push, low center of gravity, knee bend, and explosive hands.  And don’t even start with the fluid hips talk, I have enough of an internal struggle with hand-size measurements.

No I prefer to find reputable evaluators and defer to them.  If that means the dreaded Pro-Football-Focus ratings, so be it.  Matt Miller is one such resource.  Here’s rating of centers Bleacher Report*:  Alex Mack #4.  It goes:

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All-pro and 2009 draft classmate Max Unger proved it *after* signing an extension. AFTER. Because if he had proved it *before* he’d have been more expensive and possibly playing for Mike Munchak.
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Is anyone listening?

1. Chris Myers, Texans
2. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
3. Max Unger, Seahawks
4. ALEX MACK, Browns
5. Jonathan Goodwin, 49ers
6. John Sullivan, Vikings
7. Nick Mangold, Jets
23.  Matt Birk, Ravens, retired.  Well come back to this.

Not buying Miller?  Here’s what Pat Kirwin has to say in his o-line ratings:

1. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
2. Ryan Kalil, Panthers
3. Chris Myers, Texans
4. Max Unger, Seahawks
5. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Honorable mention:  Alex Mack

One more link and this one is to local DawgPoundDaily: (more…)

How I would renovate Berea.

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Berea renovations and hoping for osmosis.

Brent Stehlik, Browns EVP-Revenue, tweeted out a picture last week showing how the some of the renovations of Berea are coming along.  The latest renovation was one of the first orders of business for the Banner regime after taking over.  As it was for the Mangini era prior to that.  And by the Lerners in 1999.  All this for a facility built just over 20 years ago.

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Lou Groza Drive, Berea.

The building, which originally opened in August 1991, was renovated in the spring of 1999, while further renovations and expansion commenced during the 2009 offseason.  The most recent improvements include an expanded locker room, a lobby restoration that pays tribute to Browns’ Hall of Famers and a complete renovation of the cafeteria, video room, and meeting rooms, including a new 2,300 sq. ft. auditorium featuring 120 theater seats.

It’s been hard for me to capture my reaction to the investments the latest regime has put forward in Berea.  I’m not against eating healthy, so what’s the harm in improving the cafeteria?  Maintenance of the physical plant is important for any business, so why not spruce things up?  It’s not my money, it doesn’t eat cap space, what’s the problem?

I part company with the goodness of all this when these improvements are presented to the Browns’ customers (us) in a guise of “look what we’re doing for you.”  The logic that it’s “for us” relies on a very broad set of guides for “implementing culture change.”  That is, comfortable environs make for happier employees make for successful organizations leads to winning football.  It’s stretch, for me.  If this is all “for us,” what’s next?  Pictures of Norv Turner’s new Escalade?  Quinton Groves’ new house?  They’re now happier and they’re Browns’ employees… should we the fans expect to be treated to some selfies in front of garages?

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“Look and feel.”

So…, I’m not quite on-board with the embrace of renovations as being meaningful accomplishments of the new leadership team.  But Joe Banner wants me to think this is progress:

Everything we do — the type of foundation we’re going to have, the type of events we’re going to run in the community, the renovation of the offices upstairs … there’s going to be a completely different look and feel. Over the next couple of years, for instance, we’re going to change the logo and uniforms in a way that will respect the history but will be forward looking. We’re going to do a major renovation project at the stadium, too, the details of which are still to be determined. So it’s going to be a completely different place.

If culture change is what’s being sought, what is the new culture exactly?  It looks like they’re missing the mark or haven’t defined one.  What’s the new “look and feel?”  From here, the message reads:  You athletes –and also you VPs of Fan Experience– are super special and sixty years ago the Browns were really good.  By dint of having signed a contract with the Browns, you are heir to the mantles of Otto Graham and Jim Brown.

In other words, the renovations seem to me a furtherance of the entitled athlete thing and not at all useful if “culture change” is the goal.

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More than a club.

Wrong message.

The message should be:  you have to earn it.

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Browns ≠ Barca

To the right is the tunnel from FC Barcelona’s lockers to their pitch.  It seems the Browns made have taken their design cues from here.

That’s a problem.

Barca has earned their tunnel.

  • 22 La Liga winners;
  • 12 UEFA Cups;
  • 2 FIFA Club World Cups;
  • Countless international stars from Rivaldo to Ronaldinho to Messi and now Neymar.

The 2013 Browns have earned nothing.  They’re NOT part of something special until they create something special. (more…)

Top 5 marching bands.

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Spoiler alert: TBDBITL fares well.

I think the marching band component to college football is very special and vastly underrated.  So I was glad to get busy with this; it’s a project I’ve wanted to take on for some time.

I set out to do a “Best Fight Songs” list and we’re going to do that.  But I found that best fight song is less interesting than the broader ‘best band’ question.

For instance, I think UGA’s Glory, Glory and Tennessee’s Rocky Top are tip top fight songs.  But do they have ‘background music’ pieces that add to the atmosphere?  They may and I admit I’m not completely up to speed on all schools’ songs.  The converse is the school whose fight song is meh, but their background music works,, that’s Florida to me.  (I like the ‘Go Gators’ thing and at the same time could see how many wouldn’t.)  Texas A&M marches great but not sure the music measures up.

It presents an interesting subject to tackle.

Warning:  I’m not going to be objective about this.  I am going to wrap a veneer of a objectivity around it with a framework of metrics to evaluate the bands.  But I’m confident Ohio State will measure out #1.

But still there are a LOT of GREAT bands out there.  Here’s the loose set of characteristics I’m trying to take into account:

  • Precision marching;
  • Precision execution;
  • Terrific and beloved songs;
  • Stadium entrance;
  • Cadence.

They all contribute but don’t totally cover the main evaluation criterion:  what’s the band’s contribution to a memorable stadium experience?  That’s a soft opinion call and I’ve got no problem making it.

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Honorable mentions.

UPDATE:  UMass Minuteman Marching Band is a force I didn’t know about.  Hustle Belt ranks them tops in the MAC:

They are one of only four marching bands from outside the major athletic conferences to win the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s prestigious Sudler Trophy, which has been described as “the Heisman Trophy of the collegiate band world.” If you care even the slightest about marching bands, you owe it to yourself to seize any chance you get to see this band perform.

Here they are in the Big House.

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I took a hard look at several contenders.

Texas Longhorn Band.  “The Showband of the South.”

4027dc_8266b12a9c38317d92e7965d8f8c5d53First off, I’m not docking marching bands for cheesy uniforms.  Texas’ cowboy hats plus fringy buckskin… hey it’s a signature brand.  Not my style but I will guess that UT alums love it.  And that’s the idea:  they’re not performing for some Ohio guy in New Hampshire.  Their audience is the student body, alumni, and Longhorn fans.

Big drum + Bevo = memorable.  I don’t think you can look at a band like Texas without including other ‘non-band-specific’ elements that contribute to the production.  Bevo counts.


Texas Fight is a good song.  Who doesn’t love a trombone stealing the show.  It’s got tradition, it’s associated with some great teams, it’s instantly recognizable.  Big points.  Add in Eyes of Texas, a great alma mater, and that’s a powerful one-two punch.

In the end, I couldn’t get Texas into the top five because I’m not sure their marching is on par.  Like, good effort on the Script Texas, but I can’t really read it.  Hey.  Austin people.  Straighten me out if I’m way off base.

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Carmen Ohio kickstarter.


My favorite national anthem. ^^^

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I was all set to dig into “Why hasn’t Alex Mack been signed” today but when I found myself mixing it up with Brent Sobleski on Joe-Banner-is-getting-too-cute-with-Alex-Mack, I decided to a step back and reflect.

Nope,, still think Banner’s playing chicken with his pending UFA center who has started 48 consecutive games and who seems to be well respected in the league and even in Berea.

But that’ll keep.  Let’s go in a different direction altogether today.

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What the hell is pop culture anyway?

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Click me.
R.I.P. Earl.

I chuckle when I see sports blogs branching in ‘pop culture.’  You all know Grantland does that to get more page hits right?  It’s a business decision aimed at bringing non-sporty types to a particular website.  It’s not illustrative of any paradigm shift representing the convergence of sports and music and movies… sorry it’s not.  Or maybe it is, I don’t know.  Don’t care.  I do know it doesn’t generally speak to me and that’s fine, I know I’m not the target demo.

That’s not to say it can’t be worthwhile.  Occasionally, I’ll be turned on to something I wasn’t hip to.  For example, Art Brosef‘s fondness for bluegrass prompted me to dig in and led me to OCMS to Earl Scruggs to Doc Watson to Maybelle Carter to Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.  For that tip I am still grateful.

But instead of categorizing this piece as pop culture, let me just call it what it is:  a point of personal privilege to offer up something of interest to me in the hope that maybe you’ll be interested in it too.

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One man A capella.

Julien Neel (aka Trudbol) is a talented singer who lives in France.  That’s all I know about him.  I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work.  I’ve always had a fondness for Barbershop, have a good friend who’s in a superlative chorus, and was probably clicking around looking for the Family Guy Vasectomy song, when I stumbled onto this.

Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.  Love that song.  I’m a sap, can’t help it.  Love his version of it and I think he does a superlative job on it.  Now I’m a subscriber to his YouTube channel and if you like chorus, barbershop, A capella, you might want to subscribe too.  His work is for sale here. (more…)

Clearing the Decks, bitchy edition.

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Minor gripe session this morning.

I try hard not to be “that blogger.”  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  “You know what grinds my gears?”  All that stuff.  I did What’s Great about Cleveland and Adopt a Brownie.  Pointed out the good side of Dan Gilbert.  Hell, I’ve even got a “What if SUNY-Stony Brook got serious about football” piece in my drafts.

I try to bring more than bitch.  For example, you won’t see me saying:

  • It’s Pronounced “Lajaway” is a horrible name for a blog; just feels unfriendly.  I deliberately avoid the site because it’s already presumed to talk down to me before I’ve even clicked on it.
  • Cleveland-focused SBNation sites are absurd with their ‘no-use-of-the-subject-line-in-the-forum’ rules and the self-policing of the silly rule is consistently petty and unfriendly and actually dickish to any hapless newbie who makes that blunder.  “IT MAKES IT HARD TO READ!  ALSO: NO GIFS!!!!”  Geez, lighten up Francis.  Go check out EDSBS, they seem to be doing alright.  Not for nothing, some (all?) of us scan before reading.  Your Asik post has 700+ comments… sure would be nice if I could scan subject lines instead of [not] reading 700 comments.

Disclaimer now out of the way, I’ve got three bitchy items to bring up.

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“The Official Energy Partner of the Cleveland Browns.”

FirstEnergy Stadium is now the home of the Browns.  The signage went up last week.  It’s a “meh” item until you stop and think about it.

My understanding on stadium naming rights is that it’s basically a high-profile billboard and, like any advertising, intended to help companies gain share or increase sales.

So why does a regulated monopoly need to advertise?  Here’s what FE says:

By joining two Ohio traditions, this partnership and regional branding opportunity makes good business sense,” said FirstEnergy’s Alexander. “FirstEnergy and its predecessor utilities have been serving the energy needs of customers throughout northern Ohio for more than a century, while the Browns’ rich legacy in the same regional footprint dates back to 1946. It is clear the team is headed in the right direction and we look forward to being part of the new energy in FirstEnergy Stadium.

But how does this “regional branding” improve your captive customers’ service or make that service more cost-effective?

If this is a ‘giving back to the community’ thing, is giving $100,000,000 to a billionaire the best idea you could come up with?

Don’t ask questions Kanick.  The Browns now have an official energy partner.  Here’s what Joe Banner says:

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If you’re in a shaded area, you’re a First Energy customer.
I.e., not cell phone service; you don’t choose.

Having a stadium naming rights deal in place was extremely important for us as we look toward the future, and it was just as imperative to accomplish this with a strong, regional company such as FirstEnergy,” said Banner. “We are excited about what this long-term partnership means, allowing both the Browns and FirstEnergy to derive many benefits from this association. This deal is a great example of why we feel very good about the direction our organization is headed, and we believe it can serve as a catalyst for many other positive developments moving forward.

[Ugh.  What utter gobbledygook.]

Terms weren’t disclosed, but reportedly FE will pay about $6 million a year for 17 years.  Call me crazy, but public monopolies with $6M x 17 = $102M cash on hand should be plowing that into the physical plant or rebating their customers or cutting their rates.

If you’re stroking a check to FE from Pennsylvania or New Jersey… are you not even more in the WTF boat?

The Official Energy Partner of the Browns.

Cripes.

Update:  here are some comments from the ABJ readers who observe many of the same problems with this arrangement.  (Thanks Titus!)

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The Mayor of Akron since 1987.

Mr. Mayor.

If you missed it, Don Plusquellic showed up on the Baskin-Phelps Show Wednesday to address a perceived slight from Andy Baskin.  The Mayor had made demonstrably wrong, borderline stupid, obviously uninformed comments on Dan Gilbert’s lack of spending causing LeBron to leave:

I wish Dan Gilbert would have spent some of his money and gone out and bought a couple of all-stars and then said to LeBron, ‘Hey, I’m giving you a team that you can win a championship here.’ Instead, everybody waited, held their cards close to the vest and said, ‘OK, LeBron please sign.

Baskin responded with a very strong piece that rebutted Plusquellic’s misinformation point by point.  Seriously, good work by Baskin up until he closed with a cheap shot:

The Mayor of Akron needs to be worrying about jobs and economic growth in his Summit County city.

I set out to write a piece defending Plusquellic.  After all, being mayor and making stupid sports talk are not mutually exclusive.  As dumb as Plusquellic’s comments were, he’s not the only one getting the Lebron-Cavs era wrong.

But after listening to the radio interview, I was moved to write a j’accuse screed directly toward the people of Akron.

You elected this guy your mayor seven times? (more…)