Smacking the bovine

We finished up our regular season this weekend and despite a sub-optimal performance by Mr. Culpepper and the receiving corps, the Piranha coasted to a 29-22 victory over the White Buffalo courtesy of Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones and the Carolina defense. That swept the series and brought the season to a close with a three-game winnning streak that coincided rather nicely with two, four, and three game losing streaks on the part of other playoff contenders for a comfortable 8-5-1 third-place finish with a game-and-a-half to spare.

Not bad for a team that started 1-4. The path to the championship is a daunting one through a 12-2 juggernaut and a solid 10-3-1 squad, but at least I’m still in the hunt.

Mike Tice must go

I wanted Mike Tice to succeed. Not just because he was coaching my favorite team, but because he’s a bit of a throwback. You don’t expect to see him wearing expensive suits and writing self-important books, he’s not annoyingly arrogant and he clearly works hard.

But a genius, he isn’t. Indeed, one gets the impression that he’s sub-par when in comparison with the league average. His decision not to run the ball down the throats of two teams with trouble defending the run, (13 and 14 carries for Onterrio Smith against teams giving up 4.3 and 4.4 yards per carry) cost the Vikings the opportunity to gain two games on the reeling Packers, and the pass attempt by Randy Moss with two minutes left on the verge of the Red Zone bordered on lunacy.

There is a time and a place to take risks; first-and-ten with two minutes left on the opponent’s twenty when you’re trailing by four is not one of them. You’ve got one of the league’s best rushing teams, you’ve got three solid backs, run twice off-tackle then take two cracks with roll-out passes that give Daunte the chance to run for the first. Just a terrible call.

It’s too bad Charlie Weis is headed for Notre Dame. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done with Minnesota’s offensive talent.

College and class stratification

One of the interesting things about the Amazon reviews for Tom Wolfe’s latest, I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS, is the way that different people interpret the accuracy with which it presents college life at Dupont, the fictional university. Typical is the criticism of one young man, who argues that everyone at his (presumably) big state university is too busy working two jobs in order to pay tuition to have much time for the sex and partying that so occupies Miss Simmons at Dupont.

Of course, this is precisely the ironic point that Wolfe is making. It is at the elite schools with the best academic reputations where the commitment to the intellectual life has been most completely destroyed. The seed planted in the Sixties, when it became fashionable to be more concerned with passing political fads than any search for the truth, has flowered and found deep root.

That Wolfe is describing a different world than the one in which some of his critics should be obvious. No one works two jobs to pay a $40,000 annual tuition. Wolfe is not criticizing every university, he is slamming the rot that is festering at the head. But if the head dies, the body will soon follow and already one can arguably get a better education at a technical school supplimented by personal study than by going to an Ivy League university.