Friday, November 27, 2009

27 NOV 09: Iron Bowls, Iron Dogs

If you're reading this at around 4:00 a.m., I can understand the reason why. You're up long before sunrise, hoping to beat the big crowd for the much-publicized event of the day. And here's hoping you get a tailgate spot within two blocks of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

For the first time in decades, the "Iron Bowl" football game between Alabama and Auburn is being played on Thanksgiving Friday. So a large number of fans showed up in Lee County early. I'm not sure exactly how many did - but there were no reports Thursday night of supporters throwing pecan pies at each other.

WXTX "News at Ten" estimated thousands of Tiger fans attended a Thursday night pep rally in downtown Auburn. One Columbus family admitted it landed a spot for tailgating at 6:00 a.m., as soon as reservations opened. How big a turkey can you roast over a portable grill, anyway?

Auburn city officials tried hard to take advantage of the football game's change in timing. It set up a web site promoting an "Iron Bowl Thanksgiving." Downtown businesses even opened their doors Thursday afternoon to make money from special sales. People who bought items in stores today probably will NOT be looking for scalpers tomorrow.

(One Iron Bowl deal offered free Auburn men's basketball tickets for people staying in hotels. But from the clips I saw of Wednesday night's win over High Point, visitors apparently considered Bill O'Reilly on motel TV sets more entertaining.)

Auburn Police expect 30,000 people to tailgate outside the stadium, before the Iron Bowl begins. And that could be in addition to the 90,000 or so with tickets to the game. The new basketball arena ought to be nicknamed the "Overflow Room."

It's actually a football doubleheader day in Auburn. The Iron Bowl in the afternoon will be followed by a high school playoff game in the evening. So Auburn Police plan to have about 300 officers on duty - perhaps holding as many "tickets" as the fans.

(The Prattville-Auburn high school quarterfinal game will be played at Duck Sanford Stadium. Someone needs to explain to me why Aflac doesn't pay for special team uniforms.)

Oh yes, about the Iron Bowl itself - Alabama heads to Auburn with an undefeated record. The Tigers have seven wins, and are "bowl eligible." That phrase sounds to me like a league bowling team looking for one last player.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik promised to reporters this week that "someone will go down in history" at this year's Iron Bowl. Oh no - please don't tell me that couple which crashed the White House state dinner plans to sing the national anthem.

Auburn graduates who live in Columbus may be thrilled about something I saw Thursday. Momma Goldberg's Deli plans to open a new location on Manchester Expressway, near Armour Road. So how did Warner Robins wind up with a restaurant before Columbus did? Have they been flying sandwiches to the air force base for years?

Georgia's version of a big in-state football rivalry takes place Saturday night in Atlanta. But what does it say about the quality of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game when the big issue of the week isn't pigskin, but mechanical dogs?

The front page of Thursday's Ledger-Enquirer included a story about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals proposing a change in the Georgia football mascot. PETA wants the late "Uga VII" replaced by a robotic bulldog. Aw, c'mon - doesn't this group realize Georgia Tech geeks would have to build such a thing?

PETA's protest apparently stems from "interbreeding" of purebred bulldogs - claiming it can lead to "breathing difficulties" and "heart disorders." So? The Georgia cheerleaders probably bring the same reaction from male students, but there's no talk of banning them.

While you may scoff at the PETA "robo-dawg" idea, today's Athens Banner-Herald has an editorial leaning in favor of the group. The newspaper suggests finding Uga VIII at an animal shelter - but it stops short of giving that dog the name Ugly I.

(There's someone lost in all of this discussion. If I was the person wearing the "Hairy Dawg" costume at Georgia games, I'd start checking it for dangerous sharp objects.)

How far does PETA plan to go with this campaign? Will the group go after the "War Eagle" which flies around the Auburn football field next? Flying a remote-controlled airplane with a miniature Aubie in the cockpit simply wouldn't be the same.

Don't worry, Columbus sports fans - I didn't forget this city's big football game. Carver High School hosts Flowery Branch in the quarterfinals tonight. But a Thanksgiving Carver seemed more appropriate to me....

I've asked it before, yet I must ask it again -- why is there STILL no sign at the Columbus city limits noting Carver's state football championship? It's now been nearly two years. Are city officials waiting for Jarvis Jones to pay for signs, from his big pro football contract?

Somebody's gotta say it - if someone other than Isaiah Hugley was City Manager, civil rights leaders would be publicly fuming over the lack of signs for the 2007 Carver football team. Yet they apparently didn't even persuade Mayor Wetherington that those positive signs could prevent crime.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Not that we're complaining, but we had no Thanksgiving break from reader comments. Take this question....

Hey Richard,

Enjoy your blog each day. Long time reader.

Question. What will happen to 103.7 once THE TRUTH moves to 88.5 FM? Any plans for a different format.


Jimmy Hubbard

That question has me puzzled, too -- and the station managers haven't tipped their hand yet. I'm hearing the WRCG simulcast will stay where it is, at 106.9 FM. As we all know, listeners to conservative talk shows become suspicious when there are too many changes.

The web site for WBOJ-FM "The Truth" has not been updated, and doesn't even mention next week's move down the dial to WTMQ-FM. But the station announcers mentioned in passing this week that the two stations might be simulcasting. I don't think that will increase sales of stereo boom-boxes....

Speaking of broadcasting, we also heard from a former TV news reporter:


Kari Tornabene here :) Hope you are doing well! It's been a long time. Since you are the man who knows just about everything going on in this city...

I thought you had written something on your blog recently about a "black" Friday type even for Kelly Clarkson tickets. Do you know if this is in fact true? I can't find it on your blog anymore. I also heard something about it on the radio but can't find details anywhere. Hoping you would know something :)

Take Care!

Kari Finley

Sorry -- the Columbus Civic Center offered that $14.99 discount price last weekend. So if you want tickets now, you'll have to pay at least $39.50 - and at that price, Clarkson's hair had better look like it does in the promotional ads. She looked during the American Music Awards like she's looking for a retired stockbroker to marry.

We thank all of you who write us - and let's stick with the broadcasting theme, as we get caught up on news from the last couple of days:

+ WRBL canceled its Thursday 11:00 p.m. news, and tried to show a special on severe weather safety. But for some reason, it didn't appear until 11:09 -- and I really don't think Bob Jeswald was illustrating what happens when lightning strikes the station tower.

(For nine minutes WRBL viewers saw the last part of a Georgia Lottery drawing, a test pattern for The Late Show with David Letterman - and I actually was thrilled when about 30 seconds of the WSB-TV news from Atlanta came on.)

+ The Georgia Lottery's Fantasy Five drawing suddenly stopped when the fifth ball never came out of the machine. You could hear people in the background afterward yelling, "What happened?" After all, you're not supposed to have cardiac arrest until all five numbers match.

+ New state statistics showed Columbus unemployment rate went up slightly in October, to 9.6 percent. But thankfully, Columbus Council is trying to change that -- by voting this week to add one new job in crime prevention.

(Mayor Jim Wetherington says he's looking for a Crime Prevention Director who has "good people skills." That seems logical to me - since bad people skills seem more likely to result in bad people.)

+ A CQ Press report ranked Columbus the 55th worst U.S. city in terms of crime. Believe it or not, Columbus rates worse than New York and Los Angeles - so maybe the Convention and Visitors Bureau can offer our city as the setting for a new TV crime drama.

+ WTVM reported the Aaron Cohn Youth Development Center is under investigation. Two young inmates were found with pornographic pictures in their rooms - pictures apparently printed from Y.D.C. staff computers. This is what happens when state computers don't come with Photoshop software.

+ Several local businesses and agencies provided Thanksgiving dinners for needy people. The manager of The Market on First Avenue told THE Noon News he prepared 200 pounds of ham and 200 pounds of sweet potatoes. No one ever told me you're supposed to eat all the menu items in equal amounts.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths pounded Pensacola 8-1 -- but no Columbus radio station aired the game. If the hockey team can play on a holiday, why can't a sports talk station.... oh wait, I forgot. WRBL couldn't even show a late-night newscast.

Our deep thanks to a Columbus business owner, who became a "blog patron" this week by donating to us! To make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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