Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Come On, Come On, Emmanuel . . .




Last Friday, an adjunct professor at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts was fired for an in-class dramatization of the Virginia Tech shootings. In a statement released yesterday, school officials said that Professor Nicholas Winset was terminated for violating the college’s standards of civility and conduct.

This one genuinely surprised me, and not just because I’d never heard of Emmanuel College despite having gone to law school in the Boston area. (This is by no means a knock against the institution, I just often get the impression that there are almost as many colleges and universities in Boston as there are students.)

No, I was surprised that a liberal arts institution would fire a professor for discussing this issue.

I find it ironic that Emmanuel College's administration had this sort of knee-jerk reaction. The purpose of a liberal arts education is to help students develop and use their intellectual resources. The free exchange of ideas is essential to this.

I don’t agree with the point Professor Winset was (apparently) trying to make. I don’t think that last week’s tragic events speak to the need for more guns in our society. Unless college students and faculty members have changed significantly in the decade plus since I graduated college, I can envision many scenarios in which more firearms in the hands of students and faculty members might have exacerbated the situation. I can envision very few scenarios in which the presence of more firearms would have saved lives.

I do, however, support his right to make that point, particularly in the setting in which he made it. I’m sure that the discussion left many students upset. Discussions about sensitive subjects often have that effect on people. The fact that strong feelings are aroused is part of what makes them so valuable. Part of developing analytical skills and intellectual agility is developing the ability to think critically about these types of issues.

In its attempt to enforce institutional standards regarding conduct, I hope that Emmanuel College is not ignoring its educational mission.


oba


Fired Professor Speaks Out

Friday, April 20, 2007

K-Ville is (possibly) coming to town

First it was the news that Brangelina was coming to town. I’d just gotten over the emotional impact of their arrival (it took me a couple of months) when I learned that, in the fall of 2007, a hard-hitting dramatic series set and filmed here in New Orleans will be coming to network television . . . well, maybe.

A pilot episode of a proposed Fox Network television series, called “K-Ville”, entered production in mid-March. In May, we’ll all learn whether or not Fox has given the show the green light.



“K-Ville” is a cop drama, and prospective cast members include:

Arthur Anderson (never seen him in anything);

Cole Hauser (liked him in "Dazed and Confused", "Pitch Black", and “Paparazzi”);

The lovely and talented Tawny Cypress (she played Simone on “Heroes”); and

John Carroll Lynch (played the cross-dressing brother on “The Drew Carey Show”).

The script’s been vetted by the New Orleans Police Department, so I assume that it’s going to show the Big Easy’s finest in a very positive light. Hey, the X-Files required me to suspend my disbelief, too.

Anderson plays a veteran NOPD officer who is joined by rookie cop, Hauser. Hauser’s a do-gooder who’s come to New Orleans to pitch in with the rebuilding effort.

Okay, it’s not exactly a novel premise, but it could do wonders for a city still in need of as much positive press as it can get. The title needs some work. “K-Ville” is short for “Katrinaville”, and I’m sure that the powers-that-be at Fox can do a little bit better than that. (Of course, how much thought went into naming a show about two guys who break out of prison “Prison Break”?)

Another positive sign is that Jonathan Lisco, who developed the script for the pilot, is listed as the show’s creator and executive producer. His credits include the unfortunately short-lived “Jack and Bobby” (I watched this program faithfully during its lone season).

I don’t want to count my pilots before they’ve been picked up, but I am going to keep my fingers crossed.

oba

K-Ville at TV.com

My Take on USA Today's 25 Most Influential Books of the Last 25 Years














USA Today’s book editors and critics recently chose the 25 titles that have made the greatest impact on both readers and the publishing industry over the past 25 years. Here’s their list:

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling;
2. The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacqueline Mitchard;
3. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown;
4. The 9/11 Commission Report, by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks;
5. Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield;
6. Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, by John Gray;
7. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, by Robert C. Atkins;
8. And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts;
9. Beloved, by Toni Morrison;
10. The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw;
11. Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding;
12. Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins;
13. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren;
14. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser;
15. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie;
16. The Closing of the American Mind, by Alan Bloom;
17. The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe;
18. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan;
19. What To Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway;
20. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking;
21. Iacocca, by Lee Iacocca;
22. Waiting to Exhale, by Terry McMillan;
23. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier;
24. Backlash, by Susan Faludi;and
25. Final Exit, by Derek Humphry

25 Books that leave a legacy.

I’m a little bit bored at the moment, so I thought I’d give you my opinion of their picks. I haven’t read all of these books. In fact, I’ve read less than half of them. Still, I’ve never let a little thing like ignorance stop me from my expressing my opinion, so here goes.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I actually like the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince remains the only book I’ve ever purchased at a Supermarket (Publix, to be exact).

I give kudos to Ms. Rowling for getting a generation of children and adolescents interested in reading.

I also give kudos to fundamentalist Christians for showing these same children and adolescents that hysteria over witchcraft isn’t just something you read about in the history books.

2. The Deep End of the Ocean

I didn’t read this one. In fact, I’ve really never even heard of it. A friend of mine did see the movie, though, and he’s told me that it is, without doubt the finest movie to date starring Michele Pfeiffer, Whoopi Goldberg, and Treat Williams.

3. The Da Vinci Code

Ah, now we’re talking. I read this one in 2005, and saw the movie when it came out on DVD. I found the book enjoyable, in part because I knew a little bit about the Knights Templar beforehand, and this book enabled me to show-off this knowledge at a few social gatherings. I frankly didn’t understand (and still don’t) all of the hype surrounding it, though. I thought the movie was less entertaining, but similarly overblown, this time in terms of the degree to which it was panned by critics.

4. The 9/11 Commission Report

A point of agreement. I read this one from cover to cover. Thanks to USA Today, I’ve also learned that it’s the only government report ever nominated for the National Book Award.

5. Chicken Soup for the Soul

I read Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, and that’s close enough, in my opinion. It’s sappy, but the good kind of sappy. There was a market for this kind of stuff even before the publication of this book, so I can’t even blame Messrs. Hansen and Canfield for spawning a cottage industry.

6. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

People (like me) who didn’t even read the book, nonetheless added the phrase to their lexicon. Hell, people who don’t read books, period, added the phrase to their lexicon. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, but it’s tough to argue that it hasn’t had a tremendous impact.

7. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution

The book that got America counting carbs instead of fat calories, all while growing more and more obese.

8. And the Band Played On

I read this one as a teenager. It is a very, very powerful book. Shilts dealt with the then-emerging AIDS epidemic in an unflinching manner. It is investigative journalism at its best.

9. Beloved

I admit that I was a little bit Toni Morrison-ed out by the time I read Beloved in the early 90s. The year before, I’d read The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby, To say that I merely skimmed Beloved is to insult legitimate skimming. I knew enough of the basic plot to be able to participate in the class discussion. I was a history major who’s primary area of concentration was the Civil War and Reconstruction. At that point in my college career (second semester of my junior year) I had no problem launching into a monologue about the legacy of slavery. I saw the movie (if Thandie Newton’s in it, I’m watching it), but I plan on reading the book some day.

10. The Greatest Generation

Another book the title of which has become a part of our national vocabulary. I read this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. I did, of course, hear Tom Brokaw’s voice in my head the entire time.
11. Bridget Jones’ Diary

I did not read this book. I will never read this book under any circumstances. I have nothing personal against Helen Fielding. I was suckered into watching the film adaptation of this novel in 2002. I had seen chick flicks before. I have seen chick flicks since. This movie is to chick flicks what “The Fast and the Furious” is to westerns: the type of movie that makes one question the entire genre. So, since this movie would not have been possible if Helen Fielding had never written the book in the first place, she must accept her share of the blame.

12. Left Behind

Like Bridget Jones’ Diary, I saw the movie in 2002. Unlike Bridget Jones’ Diary, curiosity prompted me to find out if the source material was as bad as the adaptation. The best thing I can say about the film is that it answered that “Whatever happened to Kirk Cameron” question I’d never asked in the first place. As for the book, I’m a traditionalist about certain things. When I want to read about the Apocalypse, I’m staying old school with John the Baptist.

13. The Purpose Driven Life

I have mixed-feelings about this one. I liked parts of this book immensely. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for reading material of the “daily inspiration” variety, particularly when its author describes it as “anti-self-help”. On the other hand, I don’t agree with the overwhelming majority of Mr. Warren’s theological views. Strictly from an “impact” standpoint, though, this is another one that’s inarguably reached millions.

14. Fast Food Nation

Um, I saw the movie “Super Size Me” a couple of months ago. Does that count?

15. The Satanic Verses

Any work the mere publication of which can spark riots and a fatwa calling for the death of the author has had an impact on readers, publishers, and the publishing industry. This book has been on my “I’ll read this one at some point” list for the last 19 years. One of these days I’ll actually get around to it.

16. The Closing of the American Mind

This is another one I read and enjoyed, even though I didn’t really agree with the author’s conclusions. I don’t know if today’s college students still discuss the book, but we certainly talked about it during my undergraduate years. Contrary to popular belief, Bloom’s book is a pointed critique of the manner in which he perceived that American colleges and universities were failing their students, not a statement that “liberals are bad, let me tell you another reason why.”

17. The Bonfire of the Vanities

One of my all-time favorite books. Forget it’s impact on anyone and anything else, this book inspired me not only to purchase A Man in Full in hardcover, but also to try and argue that it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of my friends said. Like Godfather III, I refuse to recognize that the film actually exists.

18. The Joy Luck Club

When the film came out in 1993, I said I wasn’t going to see it until I’d first read the novel. 14 years later, that’s still the story I’m sticking to.

19. What To Expect When You’re Expecting

I’ll cross this bridge when I get to it.

20. A Brief History of Time

I purchased and read this mainly to say that I had. I was surprised to find that I really liked it. It’s well-written and actually understandable, even for this layman/non-specialist. It also shows that truth in advertising is not an oxymoron; the book is only 200 pages or so.

21. Iacocca

This is another one that’s been on my “must read” list for a long, long time. I’ve seen this book on the shelves of numerous Baby Boomer executives for whom I’ve worked. I don’t think most of them have actually read it, either. A part of me thinks this book’s impact has been of the “office d├ęcor” variety.


22. Waiting to Exhale

This is another one about which I’m ambivalent. I applaud Terry McMillan for providing an entertaining story and showing the publishing industry that a story about black women can sell. I just wish she didn’t have to bash black men to do it. Oops, did I write that, or just think it? Just kidding, the book was excellent, as was the film.

23. Cold Mountain

Surprisingly, I really liked this book. I say “surprising” because I generally hate novels having to do with the Civil War. This was also an “airport” book for me. I only purchased it when I learned that my flight was delayed, and this was the best that the bookstore had to offer. Cold Mountain is well-written and emotionally stirring. I will not see the movie, though, because Renee Zellwegger must also bear some responsibility for the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary”.

24. Backlash

A good friend of mine swears this a great book. I trust her judgment.

25. Final Exit

I read this in the mid-90s after a discussion I’d had with someone concerning assisted suicide. I knew nothing about the book beforehand, and was shocked when I read it and discovered that it dealt far more with the mechanics of the act itself than it did with its moral issues and legal ramifications.

So, there you have it: my critique of someone else’s top 25 list. May it do as much to alleviate your boredom as it did to alleviate mine.

oba

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

True Confessions of a "Smallville" Fan



Yes, I admit it, I still watch "Smallville". I caught the Pilot in the fall of 2001, and I've been watching it ever since.

"Smallville" started with such promise. I'm usually wary of prequels, but I just couldn't resist the concept of watching a young Clark Kent and Lex Luthor forge a seemingly deep friendship, blissfully unaware that they were destined to become mortal enemies.

Tom Welling played his part well. I liked the notion that Clark Kent, far from simply accepting his powers and his alien heritage, would be torn between a sense of resonsibility to use his abilities for the greater good and the desire to lead a normal life.

Michael Rosenbaum was brilliant as Lex Luthor in "Smallville's" first three seasons. In Lex Luthor, we were able to see a young man's struggle against himself and his own darker inclinations.

I loved Annette O'Toole and John Schneider as Martha and Jonathan Kent. Despite some initial misgivings, I even enjoyed the new characters added to this take on the Superman mythos like Lionel Luthor and Chloe Sullivan. The former, portrayed delightfully by John Glover, provided remarkable insight into the development of young Lex, and his ambivalent feelings toward his destiny. Allison Mack's Chloe Sullivan was a breath of fresh air. Her character was, at least in the early seasons of the show, a believable mixture of precocious intelligence and youthful vulnerability. Heck, I didn't even dislike Lana Lang in those days.

This all changed after the first few episodes of Season 4. That's when it seemed like this show just started treading water. In my opinion, it's been treading water ever since.

Lex has gotten closer to his destiny . . . provided said destiny is to become the only billionaire arch-criminal who is beaten up, shot, or kidnapped on a regular basis. Lionel Luthor is seen far too infrequently. Chloe is always on hand to provide plot exposition, but her character has lost its freshness. (And while I admit it would be an interesting "twist", I don't think that "Chlois" is going to happen, either).

Everything you ever wanted to know about "Chlois" but were afraid to ask

Much as I love the actress portraying her, Erica Durance, "Smallville's" Lois Lane can best be analogized to an unwanted party guest: she showed up too early, and has stuck around too long. The writers have proven themselves incapable of writing about two smart women with a talent for journalism, so Lois' role has been relegated to providing comic relief and occasional eye candy. She works for a cheesy tabloid and has been called upon to go "undercover" wearing skimpy outfits.


Lana Lang remains annoying (no offense, Kristin Kreuk, I know it's not your fault), but to me, her presence is like a toothache I've learned to live with.

My real beef is with Clark Kent. In five plus years, this Clark Kent has out-Peter Parkered Peter Parker. The future super hero to whom other superheroes (except Batman, of course) look for inspiration, now has to be reminded of the responsibilities which come with his great powers by the Green Arrow. He has spent most of this season keeping the world from dangerous super-criminals released from the Phantom Zone. He's also the one responsible for their having been released in the first place. He still can't fly. In fact, without having the situation explained to him by Chloe, he can barely tie his own shoelaces. Up, up, and away, indeed.


Superman has always required me to suspend my disbelief when it comes to the whole "secret identity" thing. In other words, no one recognizes that Clark Kent is really Superman wearing a pair of non-prescription frames. Fine. Well, in the World According to Smallville, I'm now supposed to believe that no one with whom he's interacted over the past 5 1/2 years (including Aquaman, the aforementioned Green Arrow, the Flash, Cyborg, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Perry White, and the staff of the Daily Planet) will recognize this despite the fact that they've seen Clark Kent walking around sans glasses! He gave Lois Lane a "kiss of forgetfulness" in Superman II. Mr. Kent had better have a case of chapstick handy.

Did I mention he's still obsessed with his high school sweetheart?

Finally, this future Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter is, like Lois Lane, a college-dropout. Unlike Lois, he has given no indication that journalism is anywhere in his future.

Ultimately, "Smallville" has failed by dragging the show on too long. As with any other prequel, the audience has a good idea of where things are going to end up. Clark Kent is going to put on the red and blue tights and start fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Lex Luthor is going to become his deadliest enemy. The interesting part of it was supposed to be the way in which their respective journeys played out before our eyes. By spending the better part of the last three seasons not developing these characters, this journey has been rendered completely uninteresting.


So yes, I still watch "Smallville", but I no longer tune in expecting to be entertained. I watch this show now out of a sense of morbid curiosity. How will they find a "new" way to keep these characters in a state of arrested development?
oba

A Culture Desensitized to Violence?

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of yesterday morning's tragic shootings in Blacksburg, Virginia.

I followed the story as best I could, and was genuinely horrified when each new report brought more gruesome details. I was equally horrified, though, when I saw evidence of how benumbed many of us seem to have become to the violence which permeates our society. The Columbine shooting happened April 20, 1999.

I know a great deal has happened in my life during the last 8 years. The climate of the United States and our attitude towards violent behavior and its aftermath has changed, as well. I was living in New York. Many of my friends were, as well. I recall our sending e-mails back and forth throughout the day as the events unfolded. None of that happened yesterday.

Part of it, I recognize, is that our circumstances have changed. I have lost contact with several of these people. Several others are now married with families of their own. At the same time, I also get the sense that we're also just that much more jaded.

While watching a news report early this morning, I overheard someone remark that it must be a slow news day, since the networks were devoting so much time to this particular story. I was amazed at this. This was the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, yet, less than 24 hours after the fact, this particular individual seemed surprised that it was still regarded as important news.

I was similarly shocked when an acquaintance could speak of nothing else but the fact that the shooter had been identified as a resident alien. He launched into a nonsensical diatribe about the problems with our immigration policy.

I hope that these reactions are gross exceptions to the norm.

I hope that we have not become that cynical, jaded, and otherwise desensitized.



oba

Police: Virginia Tech shooter an English major, 23

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Human Face










Yesterday morning, the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, their head coach, and various other university officials held a press conference to voice their feelings about the Don Imus situation.

Testimonials by two members of the team spoke to the heart of the issue. I had to recognize that I had been viewing it from a decidedly narrow perspective. I focused on the impact of the comments on racial discourse as a whole, without recognizing that there were individuals who were harmed by, if we take him at his word, an aging shock-jock’s pitifully lame attempt at being glib. I should know better. I was the only African-American member of my high school graduating class. I remember how hurtful words meant “in jest” were to me. I remember being placed in the awkward position of being called on to defend myself because of someone else’s ignorance.

Instead of celebrating a tremendous achievement, an appearance in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game, these young women have had to spend their time dealing with a controversy caused by one man’s thoughtlessness and stupidity. That’s far more important than the future of Imus’ radio and television career.

C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Lady Scarlet Knights, said that she wanted to “put a human face on this.” She and her players did just that. That human face is not the wrinkled visage of Don Imus.

oba

Press Conference at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Not in Mourning over Imus in the Morning





I first listened to Don Imus in the spring of 1988. I was living in New Jersey and listening to a lot of New York Mets games on WFAN out of New York. One night, I fell asleep with the radio still on. The next morning, I awakened to the dulcet tones of Imus and his crew of misfits. Even 19 years ago, he sounded like a grouchy old man. He was obnoxious, rude, and rarely had a good thing to say about anyone or anything. When I finally put a face to the voice, I thought he certainly looked the part. He was 47 at the time.


I've caught Imus' shtick off and on (mostly off) ever since. In a way, he’s aged well, but I suspect this has more to do with the fact that the human face can only look so wrinkled and weather-beaten. I think he reached the visibility limits with respect to “mileage” quite a few years ago.

His program certainly became more political, but it was still largely the a.m. (both in terms of time and frequency) ramblings of an unrepetentant curmudgeon. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of the MSNBC simulcast of his show. This is mainly the principle of the thing. I refuse to watch a “television program” that is, essentially, a bunch of cameras rolling while a radio program is being broadcast. Anyway, the point is that I’m pretty familiar with “Imus in the Morning”.

I was a little bit surprised when I heard that he’d made racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

I was more surprised when I learned that he’d been suspended for two weeks by both MSNBC and CBS Radio. I think their response was “appropriate” by definition. He’s their employee, and, in matters like this, they make the rules. I just thought that Imus had enough clout to avoid a suspension.

I have not been at all surprised by the tone and tenor of the ongoing debate over all of this.

I knew that I would soon be subjected to water cooler debates over why it’s “o.k.” for an African-American entertainer to make derogatory statements about black women, while a white male gets into trouble for doing the same thing. At the other end of the spectrum, I’m going to hear calls for his head from people who I’ve heard make statements that make Imus’ look mild by comparison.

Look, context is everything. If comedian Chris Rock walks into P.J. Carney’s in New York City and tells the joke about an Irish seven-course meal's being a six-pack and a boiled potato, I would expect some of the patrons to respond differently than they would if comedian Denis Leary did the same thing. By the same token, yes, Tom Joyner might have been able to make the “nappy-headed ho’s” comment without sparking much, if any, controversy. What is usually ignored is the fact that no one should really be making statements like this in the first place!

"Double standards" always have existed when it comes to things like this, and they always will. One’s racial and ethnic identity can, absent evidence to the contrary, enable one to get the benefit of the doubt in terms of intent when it comes to making certain statements. It can work the other way, as well. This is also true in terms of other aspects of our “identities”, as well. I can call a sibling an idiot as often as I like. That being said, I will probably not take too kindly to such a label being applied to him or her by someone outside of the family. I tell more New Jersey jokes than most people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll appreciate it if someone from, say, Ohio starts talking about the “Garbage State”.

Imus’ remarks were stupid and insensitive. Guess what, he has a 30-year history of making stupid and insensitive comments in an attempt at being funny. I don’t listen to him much anymore, but I actually hope he keeps his job. Like the famous W.C. Fields quote regarding prejudice, Imus seems to hate everyone pretty much equally. He's also raised a lot of money for some very good causes. From a personal standpoint, I know that if he does get fired over this, the water cooler conversations will only get worse.

Come what may, though, I know that Imus will come out looking no more careworn than he did before the whole firestorm erupted.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Go Gators?



I used to live in South Florida. I lived there, in fact, from the beginning of 2001 until the end of 2005.

I have nothing personal against U of F. I’ve never been to Gainesville, but I hear it's a great town. I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous alumni of the school. The overwhelming majority of them are/were great people. I just don’t usually root for their alma mater when it comes to sporting events. You see, Gator fans can be pretty obnoxious and annoying. They’re brashly arrogant in victory and incessantly whiny in defeat. Their fight song stinks, and the Gator chomp is decidedly unimaginative.

I did root for the Gators’ football team when they played Ohio State in this year’s BCS Title Game. I was no longer living in Gator Nation. I’d gotten a few e-mails last spring when Florida defeated UCLA to win the 2006 NCAA College Basketball Tournament. I was pretty sure that I could handle rooting for the University of Florida under those circumstances, particularly when their opponent was the Ohio State University. I have never rooted for an OSU football team. This was true even before my undergraduate days, when someone who turned out to be one of my closest friends, revealed the extent of his Buckeye mania. Unless an OSU victory would bring about world peace, end hunger, or save innocent lives, I doubt I ever will root for the Buckeyes on the gridiron. I celebrated OSU’s loss, and endured U of F’s victory. Granted, that was two championships in a relatively short time period, but I wasn’t too concerned. College basketball season was underway, and it’s not like anyone repeats in college hoops anymore, right?

Let’s fast forward to April 2, 2007.

As Florida and OSU tipped off at the Georgia Dome, I was faced with a Hobson’s choice. I didn’t really want either school to win. I found myself rationalizing. I have nothing against OSU’s basketball program. I actually like Greg Oden. I think he was the oldest person on the basketball court Monday night (referees included), but they tell me that 70 is the new 60, and I think that his outstanding performance sent a positive message to senior citizens. On the Gator side of the ledger, there hadn’t been a repeat basketball national champion since Duke in 1992. It’s been a feather in the Dukies’ cap for 15 years. I wouldn’t root for a Duke basketball squad even if there were innocent lives hanging in the balance, and how could I not support anything that would, even on a small scale, erode their prestige? I just couldn’t make up my mind. I stayed neutral throughout the first half.

A few strange things happened, though, as I watched the second half unfold. Florida led throughout, and, with the way OSU was playing, a Gator victory seemed pretty likely.

It occurred to me that Billy Donovan has the potential to be every bit as annoying as Mike Krzyzewski. At least Coach K, though he often comes across as a phony, is something of an original. Billy Donovan still comes across like a guy doing his best impression of Rick Pitino.

The camera also gave me a few glimpses of U of F’s head football coach, Urban Meyer. He appeared tan and rested. He also had a look of smug self-superiority written across his face. In other words, he looked like Steve Spurrier after a corporate makeover. I began to feel a sense of unease.

After the final horn sounded, and the Gator players, coaches, and fans celebrated a well-earned 9-point victory, it hit me. The University of Florida had now won the last 3 of college sports’ most widely viewed championship games. They have 2 young, hotshot coaches, neither of whom are exactly camera or microphone shy. Visions of cheesy articles, dual television interviews, and fluff pieces about the similarities and differences between Donovan and Meyer danced through my head. This morning I learned that Florida’s team will be featured on a Wheaties’ box. Enough’s enough.

I think that the NCAA needs to intervene. These guys need to be separated like any other 2 problem children. Urban Meyer’s not going anywhere, but the powers-that-be must somehow ensure that Billy Donovan either takes the University of Kentucky job or leaves the college ranks for the NBA.

I have yet to open the e-mails I’ve received from University of Florida alums.