Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salivating Over a TCU-Rutgers Rivalry?

Salivating Over a TCU-Rutgers Rivalry?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 30, 2010

For years I complained that the Atlanta Braves had no business being in the National League West while the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals existed in the NL East. As a lifelong New York Mets fan, I quickly learned how true the adage “be careful what you wish for” is as the hated Braves reeled off 14 consecutive division titles in the realigned East.

And for years, the National Football League also continued to twist American geography with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East and the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in the NFC West. It’s no wonder American students have no sense of geographic knowledge of their own country.

 “The Dallas Cowboys play in the NFC East; TCU and their fans will be right at home in the Big East,” said former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, in support of TCU accepting an invitation to join the Big East effective July 1, 2012.

Comparing Texas Christian University being the Big East with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles in the same NFL division is terribly disingenuous. Professional teams are designed to travel and can afford the time and cost of such. TCU is a university whose players are supposedly students first, and the extended travel time is even more time out of the classroom.

The NFC rivalries are about as old as the NFL itself. Who’s showing up for that vaunted TCU-Rutgers game – in either football or basketball? Ooh – there’s a snore-fest that will garner a .001 on the ratings scale.

I am not so na├»ve as to not understand the financial, recruiting and television contractual advantages to see the Big East expand to Fort Worth, TX. But then again, it hasn’t really been the Big East in years, more like the Big American Behemoth Conference, stretching as far west as Indiana – hundreds of miles from the Eastern Seaboard. These mega-conferences are too unwieldy and dilute the importance of the traditional conference rivalries.

The Big East is not a football conference and TCU is not a basketball school, the Big East's bread and butter. A 17-team conference is outrageous, not that 16 is any better.
TCU should compete in an all Texas conference with Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Southern Methodist University (SMU), Houston, Rice, Baylor and North Texas University.

There is no doubt the Texas Conference would be a more than competitive conference and would produce quality bowl representatives on an annual basis. Two five-team divisions would produce a conference title game with an automatic BCS bid and four additional bowl teams would lend much credence to a new conference. With nine games against the conference teams, traditional storied rivalries can be upheld on an annual basis – Texas/Oklahoma for example.

Villanova in the Big East for football is a good idea, as they are already a strong hoops competitor in that conference. Adding Richmond and Temple in both sports makes sense as well, but the Big East has got to lose Cincinnati, De Paul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame and West Virginia. With Temple and Richmond in hoops, the Big East would have 14 teams. If the Big East feels compelled to have 16 schools, add George Washington and Rhode Island, who would already have natural rivals in the conference.

With the notion of Temple leaving the Mid-American Conference, they would have an even dozen teams; and leaving the Atlantic-10 would put the Owls in one conference, as it should be for all schools. There should not be split conference allegiances for different sports.

Dropping the six aforementioned schools would allow the NCAA to drop the Big LEAST from the automatic BCS bid, which is B.S. to begin with, but that’s a column for another day. The Big East would still have four or five quality bowl competitors every season, such as Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Temple.

The Big East would have a 12-team football conference that can be divided into two six-team divisions, featuring a championship game, and a 16-team basketball conference divided into two eight-team divisions. (G.W., Rutgers, St. John’s and Seton Hall would not participate in the football portion of the Big East.)

Conferences should remain true to their geography. The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) should no more have Boston College among its ranks then the Big East should have South Florida. But at least USF is ON the East Coast or in eastern seaboard states. Trade the two – BC would renew their rivalries with Connecticut and Providence, while USF would have intrastate rivalries with Florida State and Miami, shoring up the ACC’s Florida link.

The six schools recommended for being dropped from the Big East – Cincinnati, De Paul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame and West Virginia could form a New Conference USA with Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, Dayton, East Carolina, Jacksonville, Marshall, Memphis and St. Louis. Tulsa could move to the depleted Big 12 while Southern Mississippi and Tulane could join the Southeastern Conference.

The invitation of TCU to the Big East is not the impetus of this tome – it has been a long time in coming since the Big Ten added Penn State and did not change its name; since Conference USA stretched from East Carolina to UTEP two time zones away in El Paso where frequent flyer miles are more important than grade point averages.

The University of Utah has no business joining the Pacific-10 Conference either, but again, it’s all about the expansion of television rights. If the Pac-10 wants to expand, seek out hoops powerhouse Gonzaga, eventually they could put a competitive team on the gridiron.

Were the Utes to remain in the Mountain West conference with state rival BYU (leaving to become an independent – also a mistake), along with the addition of Boise State in 2011 as well as Fresno State and Nevada in 2012, this could be a powerful conference, especially if TCU were to stay put. This would be a geographically cohesive 12-school conference with solid competitors in both football and basketball. A football title game would put the winner in the BCS, where either Boise State, Nevada or TCU belong this year, as well as two or three other bowl eligible schools on an annual basis.

This is an expensive game of athletic and geographic dominos the conference CEOs are playing and one which the fans, and more importantly, the student athletes could lose – badly.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adopt Israeli Air Strategy

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Adopt Israeli Air Strategy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 18, 2010

In baseball, good pitching beats good hitting, or so goes the adage. In sports in general, good defense thwarts a solid offense and quickly leaves the field giving momentum to the offense.

War is much the same – a solid defense of one country usually prevents the offensive of another country from taking effect. Certainly former President Ronald Reagan understood that as the United States won the Cold War leaving the Soviet Union a crumbling figment of its former self having broken down into myriad smaller nations of little consequence.

However, that the once great Soviet army could not defeat a rag-tag band of Afghanis in the 1980s was clearly a harbinger of things to come. The war on terror, and make no mistake, it is a war – declared by Congress or not, war has most certainly been declared on the United States by terror cells and groups throughout the Muslim world.

Yes, the Muslim world – we’re big boys and girls – at least outside of the current administration with its collective heads still deep in the sand – that we can affirmatively identify what we have known since before September 11, 2001 where our enemies have originated – in extreme Muslim ideology – straight from the Koran. All one need do is read it for proof.

And like a defense left on the field of play for an overextended period of time that eventually becomes weak and porous, so does that of a military which is short of ideas on how to combat the offensive. That is the current state in which the United States finds itself while attempting to combat a terror offensive that seems to know no bounds.

When one brand of defense falters, it is time to go back to the locker room at halftime and draw up a new plan. For the United States, it is time to adopt the Israeli defense strategy in dealing with air travel. A system privatized, not run by the government or union shops as has been proposed in the United States, as if delays in air travel aren’t bad enough now, imagine what will happen when unions run things.

In Israel psychological profiling rules the day where potential trouble is caught before it even reaches check-in and El Al does not have hijackings or terror attempts – at least none that reach the point of passenger awareness – and that is an important comfort. These are professionally trained men and women who interview passengers prior to reaching security to determine their flight-worthiness.

And while the naysayers are quick to point out how many flights leave Israel on a daily basis versus those that leave American airports, the airlines had better consider their own bottom lines – the profit and soon to be large loss statements.

How long will people continue to put up with what has turned from an inconvenience of removing shoes and belts to what is now, by all legal definitions, sexual assault by government flunkies. Remember, airline CEOs, the government has little vested interest in whether or not profits are made – see Amtrak and its stellar profit margins.

Adding insult to potential injury is the statement made by the virulently anti-American Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calling for Muslim women to arrive at airports in full Muslim dress demanding that the TSA only pat down their head and neck areas in deference to their religion. (Have Orthodox Jewish groups made the same unconscionable demands regarding their women who also dress modestly – covering from neck to wrists to ankles and wearing wigs? Certainly not.)

Remember, flying is not a right. It is a privilege and there are rules which are printed on the backs of airline tickets as well as on airlines’ websites. That said, touching of genitalia – never. Allowing CAIR and Muslim women to dictate the terms of their pat downs – never.

The United States is back on its heels playing catch up to the terrorists. Only after Muslim terrorists hijacked and crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon did this nation began to investigate where flight students originated and their status in this country. Only after the “shoe bomber” did airlines have passengers remove shoes and forbid carrying lighters or liquids of greater than three ounces. Only after the “underwear bomber” attempted to go “fruit of ka-boom” in Detroit, did airlines institute more strict searches. It’s a miracle they didn’t start inspecting passenger’s undies then.

In each case, the key word is “after.” Now, there is the most invasive scanning and groping to see if that’s a weapon being packed in the shorts or under the nun’s habit or in the infant’s stroller. However, until the United States adopts the Israeli strategy, it is actually necessary to conduct these searches, due to the short-sightedness of the government, specifically the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

These strict searches have become incumbent upon the airline industry because of the Muslim terrorist lifestyle. Why are infants’ strollers searched? Why are nuns searched? Why are men in wheelchairs searched? Because the Muslim terrorist has no regard for life. They are willing to sacrifice their women and children, for which they have no respect, and themselves as well, for the hopes of reaching heaven via some Koran edict about killing so-called infidels.

Further proof of this is how weapons are stockaded in elementary schools and milk factories. That no sacrifice is too insignificant and that the terrorists know Western sensibilities and emotions run high at the loss of innocent life. Thus a major difference between them and us.

The Israeli strategy must be adopted and pro-active measures must be employed in an effort to once again make the once friendly skies more tolerable. Yes, that means profiling, but at the same time remembering that converts to any religion are typically more zealous than those born into that faith, thus making everyone a suspect worthy of profiling, thus the need for the Israeli system.

Inculcating the Israeli system upon American should be relatively simple and easily accepted when considering the current hands-on approach that is turning frequent flyers into drivers and stay at home former travelers because the inconvenience has far outweighed the former allure of travel to exotic lands and family events.

Interestingly, that civilization began on the banks of rivers and seas in a part of the world that today is bereft of civilization. People lived close to their birthplaces out of necessity and civilizations grew around water for sea travel was the mode of the day. Terrorism may very well force people back to living close to their birthplaces once again in order to remain close to family and avoid what may or may not await them in the skies.

An important lesson must be culled from the words of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898-1978). “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Sadly, that day is nowhere in sight.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.