Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Favored Child

“Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.”
(Phyllis Diller)

Someone asked me the other day who my favorite kid was . . . I said, “I really like the neighbor’s kid down the street.  She’s a cool kid.”  The person then corrected herself, “I meant, who is your favorite kid in the family.”  Oh!  Despite the clarification, I still didn’t change my answer.

The most recent edition of Time magazine had a big story about parents having “favorite’ children within the family.  Despite all of the hoopla and wisdom of the generations of parents from the past who stated that they had no “favorites and loved all their children the same”—research says that they were lying.  Research says that despite all the fancy talk from parents that they love all their children equally, it just isn’t true . . . at least not in the eyes of the children.  Parents have “favorites” and they play those “favorites”.  Ask any person who was ever a sibling and he or she will tell you, “Yeah, my parents had favorites!”

Well, I am telling you right now, I love all my children equally and do not favor any one of them over the others.  It is sort of like the person who says that she isn’t prejudice—she hates everyone!  I love my children equally because I do know that they will someday choose the nursing home I will be admitted to.  With power like that you need to love and respect.

I imagine that if you ask my children they will tell you a different story.  I am sure that they will be able to point their fingers at one of their siblings and state that “Mom and Dad loved you best”.  That’s what the wife and I get for rising our children to think for themselves—I know now we should have worked harder at indoctrinating them with parental absolutes, myths, and lies.  Despite what they think, I really do think that the wife and I really do attempt to love our children equally no matter what the authors of the Time magazine article think.

Each of our children has brought into our lives a variety of gifts that the others could not offer.  Each has blessed us in ways that have made the two of us better as parents and as individuals.  They have made us have to look at the world in four new ways and ways that we might have chosen to look at the world.  They have equally made us laugh, and equally made us cry.  Never for a moment did they ever make life boring. 

For example, the oldest son has brought patience into our lives with his stubbornness and knack for making life an interesting adventure that doesn’t seem to follow too many of the rules of life.  Our oldest child is the dreamer and lover of life who learns the hard way—he is well onto his doctorate in the college of hard knocks.  He has taken us through the proverbial wringer a time or two.  Yet his charm and charisma are hard to deny—it is just hard not to root for the kid as he has a ton of potential.  But to us he has gifted us with patience and in return he has received love and grace fitting to his gift to us.

The daughter . . . well, she gifted us with a son-in-law.  A son-in-law we like.  In that way she did well.  Her real gift though is the ability to dream with a child-like awe that it will all work itself out in the end.  For her that is the way that things seem to bounce.  She is a dreamer who can’t give up the dream even though it seems to go in a million different directions.  Which brings us back to the son-in-law—he was her Prince Charming who pretty much fulfilled her dream of that special person to love.  The son-in-law was almost too good to be true even when he proposed to our daughter while in New York’s Central Park during a horse-drawn carriage ride.  It was a dream she believed in and hung on to until it came true.  Her gift to us was the belief in dreams . . . they really do come true.  Our gift to her . . . her biggest cheerleaders.

Number two son blessed us with the gift of stories, questions, and persistence.  This son loves a good story and surprisingly—whether he realizes it or not, his is a good story.  Ever since he was a small child he loved a good story and has become a sort of chronicler of the family stories. But he also likes to ask questions—lots of questions.  This too was a habit he has had since childhood.  Yet it is his persistence that is the greatest gift he has blessed us with.  From a young age a constant companion in his life has been Epilepsy that is severe enough that life is truly difficult because the seizures can be crippling at any moment in his life.  It makes life difficult never knowing when the storm might hit and limits his life.  Despite it all he has not given up and is striving (though stubbornly at times) to have a normal life just like his siblings.  No matter how many times the Epilepsy has thrown him down he has gotten up and gone on.  That is a strength—a persistence—that we have come to admired.  He is one of the strongest individuals we know and his persistence has blessed us with a sense that one can never give up.  For that blessing we have been his constant companions—not to carry him but to be there for him with love and hopefully tenderness.

Number three son, the youngest in the family, was the most athletic of the children, but his gift to us is his easy-going nature and love for us all.  Now his siblings would probably tell you that he is just lazy, but they will one day learn that his is a take the moment for what it is and don’t worry about anything else.  This is the child who can relax.  Where he was gifted physically with athletic talent, he was shorted with dyslexia and works hard to get things done—especially when it comes to school.  But he is now on schedule to be the first of the kids to graduate from college next May.  Quite an accomplishment that he has done in his own time and at his own pace.  We also appreciate that he blessed us with a wonderful girlfriend who is the opposite of him, lots of fun, just as athletic, and the better hiker of the two.  For the gift he has blessed us with we have blessed him with the gift of rolling our eyes, encouragement, and lots of laughter and love.

I imagine that the kids will probably say that the order these examples were presented represent a sort of hierarchy that stacks the favorite to the least favorite, but the truth is this is the only way I can remember my kids.  This is the order that they appeared in our lives.  I love my kids.  I love them equally for many, many different reasons.  They have each been and continue to be a blessing.  If they want to waste their time figuring out which one is mine or the wife’s favorite, well more power to them.  It is just a waste of time because I already said—way at the beginning of this blog—that my favorite child lives down the street.  She’s a pretty cool kid.  What more can I say!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Something Got in My Eyes

Years ago Bruce Feirstein wrote a best-selling, tongue-in-cheek satire about masculinity titled Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.  The book was a hoot as it attacked the mythology and symbolism of the masculine mystic.  I had to laugh--and laugh a lot--because this witty little book hit me right where I was living in parts of my life at the time that I read it.  Apparently quiche is not considered to be a real man's idea of food, thus real men don't eat quiche!  Instead we run out to the backyard, kill the nearest wildlife, gut it, cook it and call it a meal . . . or we go to McDonalds.  But never, ever, would a real man eat quiche!

Nor would a real man ever cry.  Crying is a sign of weakness--especially for men.  No real man would ever be caught crying unless his favorite hunting dog died or the Dukes of Hazzard reruns got canceled.  No man would ever cry at a movie--unless John Wayne died, and we all know that only happened once in the classic The Cowboys.  Men don't cry at weddings--even their own daughter's wedding--unless it is when he is presented the bill.  Crying is just not "manly" and is frowned upon by the brotherhood of men!  Real men don't eat quiche and they sure the hell don't cry.

No, we men don't cry . . . we usually get something in our eyes.

In the past three days I have gotten something in my eyes a couple of times.  Our youngest son's girl friend's step-father died a week ago after battling cancer for quite a few years.  He was almost 60 years old--not too far up the road from where I am, but that did not bother me.  I regret that the wife and I did not get the opportunity to spend more time with this man as he was a pretty special guy.  We only had one opportunity to spend time with him and that was not nearly enough to really know him.  This past Saturday we drove the two hours south to Sheridan, Wyoming for his "celebration of life" ceremony.

As a minister I have done quite a few--many, many funerals--and for the most part, I really had no difficulty with the service.  Outside of my sadness for Joshua's girl friend and her family in their mourning, I was not really too moved by the service.  It was a fairly typical service--appropriate, loving, and truly a celebration.  I did fine throughout the first three-quarters of the service . . . it was when we went outside for the presentation of the flag, the 21-gun salute, Taps, and a Northern Cheyenne drum ceremony that I got something in my eyes.


Through the presentation of the flag--I was fine.  Through the 21-gun salute--I was fine.  Then they began to play Taps . . . with an echo . . . and something got in my eyes.  Something wet.  Something wet that only got worse as the drum circle began to play their ceremonial song.  It was haunting and beautiful.  There was a lot of wetness, but being a real man I hid it well.  It was hard to do, but I succeeded.  I am not really sure what happened, what struck a soul chord within my heart--whether it was remembering my father or if it was a summation of everything--but the tears appeared.  I was moved and I cried.  It felt good to acknowledge the emotion that was filling my soul at this moment.  Besides, it was a sunny day and made that made a perfect excuse if anyone saw my tears--the sun got in my eyes.

Then this morning it happened again!  I got something in my eyes while I was at work.  I got an email with a video that someone had sent me that I had not yet watched.  It was a video about one of the performers on the television show called The X-Factor--I guess it is a sort of hardcore American Idol sort of show.  I don't like these shows as I find them to be mean and belittling towards the contestants.  Because of that I usually do not watch them, but then again, I hardly watch any television--unless my beloved Big Red are playing a game.  Out of respect for the sender, I opened it and watched it.  That was a big mistake!

Before the tears arrived I could feel them swelling up in my chest--working their way up the body to the eyes.  I tried to take a deep breath to ward them off but that only made it worse.  Then I looked around to make sure no one could see me--no one was to work yet.  I looked for the sun so I would have a convenient excuse, but my office has no windows.  These were tears.  As I listened to the young singer's life story and heard him sing--well, I was a goner.  Maybe it was the story, maybe it was the song (John Lennon's Imagine), or maybe it was a combination of all of it, but the tears came.  Second time in three days that I got something in my eyes--man, was my manhood disappearing.  I suddenly had a hankering for quiche!

Here is the video I watched:

The truth of the matter is that real men do cry.  It really does not matter how it is described--the sun got in my eyes, something is in my eyes--but real men do cry.  I guess I am getting tired of fighting it and making excuses for it--I cry.  I cry when something moves me.  I never am sure from where it comes, but it sure feels good to let it loose.  It is probably the Spirit of God moving through me and playing me like a cheap guitar.   Twice in three days! Maybe it is because I am getting older--who knows.  I just know I cry when the Spirit moves me . . . sometimes it is when I hear harmony sung in worship, sometimes it is when someone overcomes great odds to succeed, and sometimes it is walking my daughter down the aisle to be married.  I cry!

If my admitting that I cry means that I have to give up my place in the fraternity of men, then so be it.    It is better to be honest than in congruent.  God made me with a heart and sometimes that heart just needs a good cry.  Oh well, I hear a quiche calling my name.  I think I will go eat some quiche while watching a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movie--that sounds pretty darn manly to me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coming Home

"Homecoming means coming home to what is in your heart."
  (Author Unknown)
"You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right."
(Maya Angelou)
"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."
  (From the television show The Wonder Years)

I have been thinking about "homecomings" lately.  Homecomings seem to come is all shapes, sizes, and occasions.   One of the greatest "homecoming" stories of all is the story of the Prodigal Son found in the Holy Bible--in particular, Luke 15:11-32.  If you have never read this story you should.  It is a poignant story that speaks of reconnecting and the love of family.  When I think of coming home, I think of this story.

The truth of the matter is there have been several "homecomings" lately that I have had the privilege of being a part of lately.  First there was the homecoming of our daughter's husband from his deployment to Iraq.  Though we missed our son-in-law we did not miss him as much as our daughter.  Throughout the deployment we spent a lot of time watching the pain of separation between the two--there were nights of loneliness and tears.  It pained us to see our daughter hurt in her loneliness.  Thus it was with great joy that we celebrated our son-in-law's return home.  Like the father in Luke's story we killed the fatted calf, broke out the best wine, and sat around the fire pit basking in the glow of reunion and reconnection.  Actually, because it was the daughter's birthday we had chicken-and-noodles over mashed potatoes--probably the best meal of the year!

Yet, not all "homecomings" a deal with actual coming home to a physical place--sometimes it is just reconnecting with those we love.  The second "homecoming" in the past month had to do with the wife's and mine's own prodigal son--our oldest child who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The "prodigal child" is a strong-willed child who ventured off into life on his own, wanting no help, and hell-bent on enjoying life--sound familiar?  We honored his choice and stood by as witnesses to the consequences of those choices--they were all good.  Throughout this time there was minimal contact--minimal connection.  It was not easy watching the path he chose to journey down, but we stood from afar and patiently waited.  

Recently the prodigal has had a major change in his life--one that will effect his life until the day he dies.  Finally we received the call with the news and the consequences of his choices--a extremely difficult and heart-wrenching call that he had to make.  There were tears and sadness, a mixture of anger, and relief.  Yeah, relief.  The prodigal son had returned home--at least for the time being.  Since then we have had constant contact, lots of "I love you", and hope for the future.  Our son, our prodigal son, has come home and we rejoiced to be reconnected once again.

The last "homecoming" is a mixture of sadness and joy as it involves a death.  It involves our youngest son and his significant other--her step-father died of cancer this past week.  It had been a long battle that her step-father waged for many years, but the cancer finally won out.  Though the wife and I only met the man once, I can honestly say that I was impressed.  Not so much by his presence in that one meeting, but in his treatment of our son.  The man welcome our youngest into the family, treated him as one of his own, and expressed a deep love for him.  Tomorrow we go down to Sheridan, Wyoming for his "celebration of life"--for his funeral.  He has come home--a home that his family wished for him, that many prayed for him, and now he has finished the journey.  It is an honor to be a part of his "homecoming".  I wish I had had the opportunity to know him better--anyone who can put up with our youngest has to be a pretty good guy!

We all come home . . . eventually.  Sometimes it is a physical homecoming, other times it is an emotional homecoming, but we all eventually come home.  Sometimes it is in time, sometimes it is too late.  In my own life I think I have missed some opportunities to "come home", and for those missed opportunities I feel regret.  Life is too short for not taking advantage of those opportunities to reconnect with where the heart longs to be.  For each and every homecoming let us be thankful--no matter how painful they might be.  Let us rejoice in re-disccovering that which binds us together.  As the old hymn says:

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.
 Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.
  We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Prize Possessions

If your house was on fire, what would you take on your way out?

The most recent edition of Reader's Digest had a brief article dealing with that question--if your house was on fire, what would you take on your way out?  Actually it was less of an article and more of a free advertisement for The Burning House website  at http://theburninghouse.com. According to the article Foster Huntington, creator of the website, states that people need to think of it as a sort of "an interview condensed into one question."  Each day he publishes a photo and list of one reader's answer to the question.

Now, in all honesty, I try not to think about things like my house burning down--especially now since the wife and I own our first home ever.  Also, this is not the first time that I have heard the question as it has been offered in various retreats and settings as a exercise in values.  For the most part I try not to think about my house going up in flames, but this time the question kind of stuck with me--that, and the fact that I needed a topic for a blog.  I know, honesty sucks.

So . . . what would be my most prized possessions that I would grab if my house caught fire?


I would grab the dogs--Maddie the Boxer and Dora the Dachshund.  Maddie has been one of the most loving and loyal dogs that the wife and I have ever owned--she's too sweet to leave in a fire.  Dora, despite her stubborn German blood, is pretty loving too and always a hoot.  I know that one thing that Dora would grab on the way out would be her dog dish--she'd die if she couldn't eat.  The dog lives for food!

Canon Power Shot Camera
 Maxtor External Hard Drive

I would grab my Canon camera--it is my favorite toy in the whole wide world and it takes great pictures.  My youngest son would want me to grab my more expensive Nikon digital SLR camera, but until I get better telephoto lenses I'm going with a sure winner.  The external hard drive has all of my pictures--I mean all my pictures.  I just cringe whenever I think about losing all that family story.  And, so I can continue to save my pictures and share them with others I would save one of the computers--the Toshiba is the newest and fastest.  I'd even let my IPad go up in flames in favor of the most versatile laptop.  Gotta have my camera.

I would have said my Kindle but ever since a person can download Kindle onto a computer I think I can afford to let the Kindle go up in flames.  I would miss my books--I've got lots of books and few of them have been put onto the Kindle account.  I would especially miss my Montana collection and books on spirituality.

Old School Zune
My old school Zune . . . definitely would have to have my music.  Thankfully just because I use an old school Zune doesn't mean that I am not new school--I have put the majority of the music I own on the external hard drive.  Losing my music would almost be as big of a shock as losing all of my books . . . if I had to rely upon making my own music . . . well, that would be a pretty scary and sad day for the world.  The world is not ready for that!
Hiking Boots and DayPack

My hiking stuff and capsOdds are I would probably throw most of the stuff I would grab into the pack--I have a fairly big day pack.  One of the reasons for moving to Montana was to be able to go hiking and I would surely miss it if I couldn't go hiking.  The caps, well bald men love their caps.  I have quite a few and the one I would probably grab first, and the one I wear the most, is the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets cap--primarily because it would be the first one on the stack.  Hey, the house might burn to the ground, but the old noggin won't get burnt!
I would also grab my wallet, the check book (which would mean I have to grab the wife's purse since that is where the check book  is 99% of the time), and any other essential documents that I keep laying on the top of my dresser.  Yeah, though it wouldn't be a high priority, I would grab my Blackberry phone--at times it is pretty helpful and my only contact with my children.  I would grab the keys to my pick-up truck--maybe the Jetta--because I would need some sort of transportation.  The wife would encourage me to take the Jetta, but I love my truck.  I am sure that there are a few other things I would probably miss, but this is a good start and I could survive with just this stuff.

I imagine that there are some of you out there who are wondering about whether or not I would grab the wife or any of the kids if they were in the house . . . its every person for his or her self.  No, not really.  But the realist in me says that they would be able to get out on their own, grabbing their own prize possessions, and hoping for the best.  Lets just say that family is a "gimme".  Family photos--on the external hard drive.  Important documents--on the hard drive.  Hmmm . . . who would have thought that my life would come down to an external hard drive?

What would you grab if your house caught fire?  Let me know, I'd be curious to know.  I don't think this is an exercise in values as much as it is an exercise in what feeds one's soul.  These are essential things I need for my soul.  If I lost my soul in a fire . . . well, then I have lost it all.  Everything else can be replaced but the soul . . . I am not so sure about.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Yellowstone Interlude

"People are extremely passionate about Yellowstone on all sides of every issue."
(Frank Walker)

The Yellowstone Interlude began with the wife and I traversing the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge on Friday morning.  Rumors were stirring about that the lowland rain we had received the previous day was snow in the Beartooth Mountains, and in the highest elevations it had snowed a light covering.  Luckily for us we encountered none of the snow personally though wee could still see traces of the newest snow along with last winter's efforts.  Though it was cold and drizzly once we hit the higher elevations the scenery was wonderful.  Charles Kuralt said years ago that the Beartooth Highway was one of the most scenic and beautiful highways in America--the man knew his food and his beauty!

After what was supposed to be a quick, but instead was a gut-wrenching, slow as molasses lunch in Cooke City, we headed into Yellowstone National Park through the Northeast Entrance.  The Northeast Entrance is one of two entrances into the park that are open all year--the others is the entrance at Gardiner.  I enjoy entering park from the Northeast Entrance as it has my favorite sign.  I have always wondered what idiot would "molest" the critters of Yellowstone.

Entrance into Yellowstone begins with expectations--GREAT EXPECTATIONS.  It is always the wife and mine expectation that we will witness many of the magnificent animals of the Yellowstone ecosystem--moose, grizzly and black bears, elk (especially as the rutting season has begun), wolves, and even the mighty (and plentiful) bison.  It was not too long before we encountered our first critter--the mighty bison.

The bison were on the move.  Bison are big critters who pretty much do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it.  They are big and powerful and dangerous--plus they are a heck of a lot faster than people think they are.  They are not slow domestic cattle--these fellas are on steroids--unless, of course, they are crossing the road.  If they are crossing the road . . . well, everyone is at their mercy.

With the typical Keener luck this didn't happen to us once, but twice.  After the first ten minute delay waiting for the bison to cross the road we encounter a wandering herd down the road at Roosevelt Lodge.  Once again, they took their sweet time getting across the road. But, hey!  Who was I to complain!

Unfortunately, this was the critter highlights of the day.  Despite our expectations of abundant wildlife, the best that we could do that first day was a couple hundred bison.  The rest of our trip through Yellowstone to the East Entrance and Cody was pretty uneventful.  A nice oriental meal and lots of rest in Cody got us prepared for our main day in Yellowstone the next day.

As I stated earlier, the wife and I always have great expectations whenever we go into Yellowstone National Park and Saturday morning was no different.  After a quick breakfast at Mickey D's Golden Rainbow Room--and yes, it was quick--we were on the road towards Yellowstone.  Again, the rumors of snow had been circulating around Cody that there was snow in the mountains.  The East Entrance takes one over the most notorious of the passes--Sylvan.  My fear and deep down hidden expectation was that it had snowed on Sylvan Pass.  Happily we were only greeted by wet roads as we made our way over the pass.  It was coming down off the pass that we spied our first moment of "awe"--Yellowstone Lake.  Through the breaking dawn and drizzle we witnessed the new day from on high.

From there we headed into the park towards the Fishing Bridge area where--yeah, you guessed it--we encountered some more roaming bison.  Actually the bison were not so much an issue as were the other tourists who kept stopping, hopping out of their vehicles, and attempting to get close up pictures of the bison.  I imagine this is what the sign was talking about--molesting!  Thankfully the bison were patient, even though the ranger was losing his patience.  I am thankful that I have a good telephoto lense on my camera.  From the safety of the wife's truck I got a beautiful picture of a bull bison.

Even with great expectations of seeing abundant wildlife--translated that into grizzly and black bears, moose, and wolves--we were shutout in the critter department.  Mostly we saw more bison, lots of geese and ducks, and a few other itty-bitty critters.  Whenever that happens I am thankful that God took the time to make Yellowstone a natural wonder of beautiful landscape.  I had plenty to take pictures of . . . if the critters weren't going to cooperate I knew nature would.

In prime grizzly territory--Hayden Valley--we saw nada of the grizzly.  Instead we got to spend some time witnessing the beauty of the thermal wonders of Yellowstone--geysers and mud volcanoes.  These too can be pretty awesome.  It was here that we took our first mini hike of the day to witness the beauty of this huge thermal bomb making its way up through the ground.  Oh, yeah!  We also saw our first vicious critter of the morning--the human-eating chipmunk.  If there is one critter in Yellowstone you don't want to molest it is the chipmunk!

Next stop was the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon.  This waterfall must be one of the most photographed sites within the park.  Here we encountered plenty of tourists all snapping pictures of the waterfall and canyon.  When in Rome one does as the Romans do and I took pictures.  These were among my favorites from this stop.

From the Upper Falls we headed over to one of the "wonders" of Yellowstone--the Petrified Tree.  Yellowstone has one petrified tree in its millions of acres of land--only ONE!  Since there is only one everyone ought to see it and this was the first time that the wife and I got to witness this natural wonder.  More importantly we got to take our second mini-hike of the day.  Together we hiked the mile down the trail to the Lost Lake--prime grizzly territory again.  At least that is what the sign said, but we saw nothing.  Just a lot of bison dropping, elk rubbings on the trees, and some sort of scat that we could not identify--but no grizzlies!  Despite there being no grizzlies the lake was well worth the hike.

Next stop . . . Mammoth.  Mammoth is a favorite spot for the elk to gather, especially during the rutting season.  Even though it is early in the rutting season there is always some young bull pushing the envelope, and sure enough there was one young bull with his little harem.  Making it even more spectacular was getting to hear the young bull bugle.  Hearing an elk bugle is music to the ears and this one did not disappoint.

From Mammoth we began the journey back home.  We headed through the Lamar Valley where we did not see any wolves or bears--just lots of people staking out places along the road with spotting scopes and binoculars watching carcasses.  These patience people were hoping that a wolf or bear would come along and make a feast on the carcass.  Unfortunately we did not have time for this as we were taking the Beartooth Pass home.  The drizzle of the day in Yellowstone was snow showers in the higher elevations.  Those rumors were true at the top of the Beartooth Pass as we drove through snow and sleet that was covering the meadows and peaks.  The wind was whipping the snow and sleet across the pass and luckily the roads were warm enough to keep everything from freezing.  I did not need the excitement of driving the pass in icy, snowy conditions--my hair is grey enough.

Though our original expectations were not met, we were not disappointed.  We were blessed to have had the opportunity to have a brief interlude in Yellowstone to feed and refresh the soul.  We were blessed to have been able to share it with our friends from Nebraska, who will tell you that this is their favorite special place.  And, we were blessed . . . plain and simple.  That alone tops all the expectations.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Greatest Team Ever--The Great Debate

The Sporting News Magazine--the grand-daddy of all the sports magazines--has been running a series of articles in 2011 celebrating their 125th anniversary on "great sports debates."  So far they have thrown into the argument the greatest teams of the NFL, NHL, NBA, college basketball, professional baseball, and now college football.  Of course their choices for the "best" in each of these categories has not always matched up with their readers.  To say the least, there have been quite a few arguments.  The readers and Sporting News panel did agree once--both agreed that the 1927 New York Yankees were the best professional baseball team.  Surprisingly the other categories had differences of opinion.  The following were the selections:

  • NFL: 1972 Miami Dolphins (SN), 1985 Chicago Bears (Readers)
  • NHL: 1976-77 Montreal Canadians (SN), 2001-02 Detroit Redwings (Readers)
  • College Basketball: 1966-67 UCLA Bruins (SN), 1973-74 North Carolina State (Readers)
  • NBA: 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (SN), 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (Readers)
  • Baseball: 1927 New York Yankees (SN and Readers)
Now I can't say that I agree with them on some of their choices, especially when it comes to the NBA.  They seem to have forgotten about all those great Boston Celtics teams that made shambles of the league for ten straight years; but that is speaking like a die-hard Celtic fan!  The bottom line though is that these are "great debates" whenever sporting fans gather.  Into this mix they throw the greatest college football teams . . . and guess who came out on top!  the 1971 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers!  In fact, two Cornhusker teams made the top ten.

I cannot make this stuff up.  It is in glorious color in the most recent Sporting News Magazine this week.  Here are the top ten all-time college football teams according to the magazine's expert panel (listed from first to tenth):
  • 1971 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
  • 1972 University or Southern California Trojans
  • 1974 University of Oklahoma Sooners
  • 1995 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
  • 1956 University of Oklahoma Sooners
  • 1968 Ohio University Buckeyes
  • 1945 Army (West Point)
  • 1961 University of Alabama Crimson Tide
  • 2001 University of Miami Hurricanes
  • 1987 University of Miami Hurricanes
So, let the debate begin!

We Big Red fans can't even agree which is the better team--1971 or 1995.  Every Big Red fan's wildest pipe dream would be for the two teams to gather at Memorial Stadium and play to see who is truly the greatest Cornhusker of all time.  Right now it is a coin flip in Nebraska.  Ask any Big Red fan which team was better--1971 or 1995--and that fan would tell you, "Yep!"  Both were pretty impressive.

The 1971 team was lead by the offensive duo of Jerry Tagge (quarterback) and Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers (I-Back).  This team would place 17 players on the all Big Eight Conference's first team on offense and defense--there were only 22 slots.  There were eight All-Americans on the team.  Johnny Rodgers would eventually win the Heisman Trophy in 1972.  The team was undefeated at 13 and 0, averaged 438 yards of offense a game, won by an average of 31 points a game, and had the nation's top defense.  They won their second consecutive national championship with a 38 to 6 whipping of Alabama in the Orange Bowl.  The team was coached by Bob Devaney with future head coach Tom Osborne as his offensive coordinator.

Jerry Tagge

 Johnny "the Jet" Rodgers

Bob Devaney
The 1995 was coached by Tom Osborne as it put on an impressive display of football prowlness.  This team did not put up the post season award numbers that the 1971 team did, but it did put up some impressive numbers.  The Cornhuskers led the nation in scoring, was second in total offense (number one in rushing with a 7.0 yard per carry average at 399.8 yards per game--second only to Army's 7.6 all-time record) with 556.3 yards per game as quarterback Tommy Frazier and freshman I-back Ahman Green led the team.  Frazier would finish as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy that year.  Green would set a freshman rushing record at Nebraska, and would have set a scoring record but was beat out by freshman kicker Josh Brown who set a Nebraska kicker record with 97 points.    This team won their games by an average of 38 points a game while going for their second undefeated season.  They trounced Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl 62 to 24 to win their second consecutive national championship.
Tommy Frazier
 Ahman Green
 Tom Osborne
The sad thing about the two teams is that we will never know which one really was the greatest team--at least in Nebraska.  In the meantime the debate rages on and everyone has an opinion.  At this time the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football team is 2 and 0--ranked tenth in the nation.  A big test is coming up this weekend against the University of Washington Huskies.  But, right now, Big Red Nation has bragging rights as having the greatest college football team ever! 
Now I am sure that there are those of you who would disagree, and that is your right as a fan.  Right now we in the Big Red Nation are not going to argue with the panel from The Sporting News.  For once we agree with them!     We didn't start this argument, but we will put in our two cents worth.  In the meantime . . . we are number one!

What do you think?