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Another shot of Argus at The Pound before we brought him home. (2005)
Jump on the bed with me when I'm crashed on a Saturday afternoon watching a heartbreaking weekend of football. Lie down next to me with your body pressing against my left side and hang your head over my arm and gently go to sleep.
Oh, and it helps if you're a 85-pound German Shepard/Rottweiler mix we recently adopted from the animal shelter.
Dr. Boroto, this awesome psychology professor I had my last year of college, once riddled us about what makes something a game. After more than a few minutes of guessing and trial and error in order to get our brains stretching to figure out the answer, he summed it up neatly. "In order for something to be a game," he told us, "some things must be more valuable than others and, by the end, there must be a winner and a loser."
It's that last bit about the necessity of a winner and loser that kept running through my mind in the heartaching afterglow of the last second of the Penn State/Michigan game this weekend. Hailing from Pennsylvania (or Pennsyltucky as she likes to calls it), Candy is a huge Penn State and Joe Paterno fan. It was more than a bit of a disappointment for her when Bobby Bowden overtook Joe Pa for most career wins of a Division 1A football coach, but somehow we've managed to maintain a civil household.
Every year, I purchase a subscription to ESPN GamePlan so Candy can watch all of her precious Penn State weekend clashes in the Big Ten. Ironically enough, Penn State has been doing so well this year that the last several games have been locally broadcast. Good thing we didn't need that $100 for groceries or medicine or anything important.
The ongoing joke between us for the last decade has been our year after year discussion about how a Florida State / Penn State bowl matchup would play out in the house. Invariably, I insist that I will make use of an obscure fine print addendum in our marriage contract requiring Candy and I to wear watching garnet and gold outfits, while she is quick to remind me that I can do whatever I want on my side of the house, but her side of the house is going to be all done up in the blue and white. Visions of a huge Dr. Seuss-like, brightly colored line of demarcation running down the center of the house on both the outside of the house and the ceilings and walls of the interior.
But Penn State lost this weekend in the most terrible of ways: Emotionally and at, literally, the last second (there was a gift from God, herself, up there on the board when Chad Henne's pass got knocked down short of the end zone Harry Nilsson's favorite number was sitting there on the scoreboard almost unbelievably). Time after time, over the years, I've complained about Miami "doing their Miami thing" to put the hoodoo on FSU more times that I'd probably admit short of being strapped down, drugged and pummelled a few times. After about four lead changes in the fourth quarter, when that lone second was on the scoreboard taunting us with its promise of opportunity for the blue and gold, all I could think of was, "Here we go... now Michigan is gonna do their Michigan thing and rip another one out of the hearts of Penn State fans around the world." And, sure enough. It sucks when your worst fears come true. The teasing palpability of practically certain victory put on hold and then slowly turning to terror as time slows down and you watch that final down play out in the most unfair of ways.
The loss was heart-wrenching, but it was, without a doubt, the most emotional fourth quarter of football I've ever watched (narrowly beating out FSU's four touchdown, come from behind "victory" when they tied Florida in an incredible game in the early 90's). The two most amazing back-back plays I've seen occurred when, first, a Penn State defender literally took the ball out of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne's hands and ran away with it for a touchdown. Then on the extra point, the snap got botched and the kicker ran the ball in for two. Unbelievable! That's just a taste of the drama that played out in the fourth quarter in Ann Arbor this past Saturday.
But with FSU and Penn State each taking their first losses this weekend, perhaps this gets us one step closer to what would be the sports media wet dream of a Bowden/Paterno bowl game matchup. The only way it could be better is if at the time they were tied for most career wins.
Your Link of the Day is a fascinating little puzzle. Being a big fan of brainteasers, I was surprised that I'd never come across this before. Your friend and author solved it in 19 rolls of the dice over a period of about 45 minutes completely absorbed in the combinations and their resultant scores. Can you solve the riddle of the Petals Around the Rose?
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