College Football Week 11: Iowa saves the sport
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 11:
I got to Tech’s Jones Stadium early Saturday, before 2:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. kickoff. I didn’t have anything else to do – the Buddy Holly Museum adventure was behind me – so I figured I’d go to the pressbox and watch the afternoon football games. OU-A&M. Alabama-LSU. Penn State-Iowa.
You know the rest. Sooners rolled. Alabama and LSU went to overtime. And Iowa somehow KO’d Penn State 24-23.
Great, great football, at least on the Bama and Penn State games. Said Pete Thamel of the New York Times, “College football never fails to deliver.”
I watched the last halves of those games with members of the Big 12 office. And particularly with the Penn State game, you never saw such devotion from normally-neutral people. Living and dying with every play.
Penn State stood in the way of a Big 12 national championship appearance. That roadblock now is gone.
THIS’LL BE THE DAYLubbock is the hometown of Buddy Holly, the rock’n roll pioneer killed in a place crash almost 50 years ago, Feb. 3, 1959.
My first adult trip to Lubbock came in 1992, and a photographer I was with, Doug Hoke, wanted to go see the Buddy Holly statue before the OU-Tech game. So we went downtown, Doug climbed upon the base and posed for a picture with Lubbock’s favorite son.
Fast forward 16 years. Another photographer, Steve Sisney, suggested we stop by the Buddy Holly museum.
I’m sort of a Buddy Holly fan; I’ve got his greatest-hits CD and saw the movie starring Gary Busey. So I said sure. Figured it was good karma, since I was in town for OSU-Tech and Busey attended OSU.
Anyway, the museum was $5 and worth it for Holly fans. I learned quite a bit, including how much Buddy Holly and the Crickets (his band) influenced musicians world wide, including four young guys in Liverpool, England, who in the tradition of the Crickets named their band the Beatles.
I also learned that after Holly’s death, the Crickets remained intact and hired a long-time band member named Sonny Carter, whose claim to fame was authoring “Love Is All Around,” a tune better known as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme song.
Anyway, as we walked in the door of the Buddy Holly Center, in the old Lubbock depot, there was a media room of some kind where they conduct interviews and lectures and what not. Some old guy, tall and wearing a Stetson, was being interviewed on camera.
As we left the museum, we walked past the media room, and the old guy was leaving.
A few minutes later, as we went looking for our comrade, photographer Chris Landsberger, we went down a hallway with pictures of musicians on the wall. Sisney stopped and pointed to a photo. It was a picture of the guy in the Stetson.
Tommy Allsup, it said his name was. I remembered I had just seen the name “Tommy Allsup” in the museum. So back we went to the museum, where I found the exhibit that mentioned Allsup.
In 1958, the Crickets had broken up, but Holly was persuaded to tour in the Midwest in 1959. So he hired a band for the tour. That guitarist was a guy he had played with on occasion; fellow by the name of Tommy Allsup.
The tour was an organizational disaster. The tour bus was old and drafty. The heat didn’t work properly.
On Feb. 3, 1959, Holly was fed up and decided to charter a small plane in Mason City, Iowa, destined for the next stop in Fargo, N.D. Holly chartered the plane for his band.
But another member of the tour, the Big Bopper (J.R. Richardson, famous for “Chantilly Lace”), had the flu. So bass player Waylon Jennings volunteered to let the Big Bopper have his seat on the plane.
With the band split, Allsup and another tour headliner, Richie Valens, decided to flip a coin to see who got to ride the plan. Valens won.
Five minutes after takeout, in a blinding storm, the Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft crashed in an Iowa field. Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens died. Tommy Allsup survived, and almost 50 years later spent an afternoon with us at the Buddy Holly Museum.
TEN BIGGEST LOSERS OF THE WEEK10. Lame-duck coaches: You expected Washington’s Tyrone Willingham, a 39-19 loser to Arizona State, and Kansas State’s Ron Prince, a 41-24 loser to Missouri, to go down to defeat. But you figured Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer could win one for the already-fired coaches club. Not so. The woefully inept Volunteers lost to hapless Wyoming
9. Iowa State: A meager Cyclone season was one yard from a major boost, a road win at Colorado. But with Iowa State on the Colorado 1-yard line, D.J. Sykes and Jimmy Smith stuffed tailback Alexander Robinson for a two-yard loss on the game’s final play.
8. ACC Championship Game: It’s quite likely that the ACC division winners, whoever they may be, will each be 5-3 in the league. Best guess? Virginia Tech vs. Maryland, each at 8-4.
7. Arkansas State: A season that began with such promise – an upset at Texas A&M – is sputtering down the stretch. Ark State lost 22-21 at Florida International and fell to 4-5 overall, 2-2 in the Sun Belt, reviving a great debate. Who is the best team in Arkansas?
6. Illinois: In January, the Illini lost in the Rose Bowl. Saturday, the Illini lost in Kalamazoo. Western Michigan beat Illinois 23-17, and now the 5-5 Illini must beat Ohio State or Northwestern just to become bowl eligible.
5. Internet Expression: In the summer, OU freshman Josh Jarboe lost his scholarship with a violence-laced rap on YouTube. This week, Texas coach Mack Brown dismissed from the team backup center Buck Burnette, who on his Facebook page posted a racial slur about Barack Obama. The world wide web is not some insulated world where consequences don’t exist. It’s a pulpit.
4. West Virginia: The Mountaineers mounted a comeback for the ages, scoring 13 points in the final 72 seconds by every possible point production – touchdown, field goal, safety, 2-point conversion. But then Cincinnati won 26-23 in overtime, and WVU’s Big East title hopes are in jeopardy.
3. Jimmy Clausen: The beleaguered Notre Dame quarterback threw four interceptions in a 17-0 loss at Boston College, and the Irish now have been shut out three times in their last 19 games.
2. TCU: The Horned Frogs dominated Utah in their mid-major showdown, but TCU missed two late field goals and Utah quarterback Brian Johnson threw a 9-yard TD pass with 48 seconds left to knock the Frogs from BCS contention.
1. Zealousness: Two Alabama fans were shot to death over an argument about the LSU-Bama game, witnesses said. Can’t we all just get along?
DINING IN LUBBOCKA dining lesson I never learned until Saturday in Lubbock: don’t sit near the waiter’s station or the kitchen.
For lunch Saturday, we stopped at Triple J Chophouse and Brew Company in Lubbock’s Depot District. I’d been there before; solid place. I had a chicken pot pie. Excellent choice.
But we sat in a booth right next to the big counter in front of the grill and the brick oven. It’s interesting to watch cooks and chefs at work; not easy duty. From organization to culinary skills, those guys have to know what they’re doing. It’s sort of like watching the Food Network, except they’re juggling 8-10 things instead of the Martha Stewart gravy train.
There’s a downside, though. The waiters tend to hang out at the counter, waiting for orders, and you see them on their less-than-best behavior.
At a point when we were waiting on something – drinks, salad, I can’t remember which – our waiter paced in front of the counter, doing not much of anything. I guess he thought he was invisible.
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