Saturday, December 26, 2009

Urban Meyer update - Meyer could be replaced by Dan Mullen

The legendary innovator Urban Meyer will step down as Head Coach of the Florida Gators after his team takes on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl. Meyer, who's health problems (including chest pains after Florida's 32 - 13 loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC championship game) finally convinced him to leave the field.

Urban Meyer, to me, is irreplaceable by anyone except former Florida Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen (now Head Coach at Mississippi State)

As Chris Brown points out in a comprehensive blog post at, Urban Meyer's contribution to football was to take several seemingly disparate offensive concepts - the Run-and-Shoot, the Spread Passing Offense used by Joe Tiller at Purdue, the Shotgun Formation, Zone Running, and The Triple Option - and fuse them together into a new offensive approach.

Urban Meyer has been so successful with this system that New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichek sent then-Quarterback Coach (now Denver Broncos Head Coach) Josh McDaniel down to learn about his offense in 2006. The result was several key changes that led to the Patriots record-setting passing game in 2007.

Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen refined the Spread Offense over time such that play-action passes (which Chris Brown points out were considered impossible in Shotgun Formations) are a common part of the attack.

My point is, Meyer and Mullen really created that offense and have been the architects of Florida's success. Dan Mullen's the most logical candidate to replace Meyer.

The question is if Mississippi State will match Florida's reported possible payout of $4.9 million a year. Since Mullen takes in just $1.2 million, it's not likely that will happen. While other coaches like Bobby Petrino at Arkansas and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma are rumored to replace Urban Meyer, Dan Mullen's the best choice to step in as he's a seamless fit.

Happy Kwanzaa! December 26th is the first day of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration of family, community, and culture. It's an African American holiday; born of the first harvest celebrations of Africa. In a custom similar to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is marked by candle-lighting and gift giving.

This Kwanzaa opening ceremony was held at Youth Uprising in Oakland in 2009:

Greg Hodge, who ran for Oakland's District Three City Council seat in 2008, is also Minister Greg Hodge of Wo'se Church in Oakland. In this video, he talks about the importance of language and names in Kwanzaa. Greg, as usual, offers great words of wisdom:

If you're looking for a good guide for the preparation of Kwanzaa-related cuisine, check out the new website Cuisine Noir.

Stay tuned and Happy Kwanzaa!

Charlie Sheen update - Brooke Mueller Sheen blows off police

In this Charlie Sheen update, we learn from that Brooke Mueller Sheen is blowing off the Aspen, Colorado police.

Charlie Sheen was arrested and placed in the Pitkin, County Jail in Aspen, Colorado on Christmas morning after having been charged with, according to the Aspen Times, a class-four felony charge of second-degree assault and a class-five felony charge of menacing. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of what is called "criminal mischief."

District Judge James Boyd presided over a hearing called Friday, Christmas night. The Judge issued a mandatory protection order against Sheen; he can't have contact with Brooke Mueller Sheen. He posted bond, set at $8,500 and was released.

Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller Sheen

Aspen lawyer Richie Cummins said Sheen was scheduled to board a flight to Los Angeles.

Now, reports Brooke Mueller Sheen "has told cops she's done talking with them about the incident" when they tried to re-interview her on Saturday. Initial reports quoted Colorado law enforcement officials as saying Brooke Mueller Sheen was legally drunk when she made a 911 call to report Charlie Sheen. has also reported that Brooke Muller Sheen changed her story from what she said during the 911 call.

Some have asked why Charlie Sheen managed to get a hearing on Christmas night. One reason separate from who Charlie Sheen is, is that he picked the right lawyer. Richie Cummins is reportedly a 30-year criminal lawyer in Aspen. He knows all of the police, sheriffs, and judges. Sheen made the right choice. reported that Charlie and Brooke took a "trial separation". They reportedly met in Aspen where Muller rented a house and started arguing Christmas morning.

Charlie Sheen is to report back to court in Colorado, February 8th.

Lady Gaga in San Francisco - fans praise Lady Gaga

This is one of those "slice-of-life" vlog moments. I was on my way to a Christmas Party, the route of which took me past the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and a huge line. Fans by the thousands were waiting to see Lady Gaga at Virgin Mobile Presents The Monster Ball Starring Lady Gaga featuring special guest Kid Cudi .

Lady GaGa

What got me was just how long the line of fans was. It stretched down the block, around the corner and almost to Market Street. In it were legions of people dressed in some way to indicate their affection for Lady Gaga. So, Flip Video Camera handy, I decided to conduct an impromptu Lady Gaga fan interview.

Even with the diversity of voices, there was little difference in the response to my question: "Why do you like Lady Gaga?" The answer was "I like her individuality", with little variation on that theme, even with people who talked to me off-camera. I've seen a lot of fans of different entertainers, but The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse don't spawn the kind of costume copy fans that Lady Gaga has.

But more important is they pick up on her idea of individual freedom and civil rights. So Lady Gaga is seamlessly weaving her concern for social justice with her music and image. I don't think that was intentional; it's an outgrowth of who she is. But if it turns out that it was an intentional marketing trick, then it was genius.

Here's a video from her San Francisco concert:

I think to some degree much of it is on purpose. For example, Virgin Mobile, the concert sponsor, is offering free tickets to see Lady Gaga if you volunteer at a homeless youth organization in your town. Just visit Lady Gaga's site for more info. (No, Virgin Mobile's not my sponsor; would be massively cool, though.)

Of course, if Lady Gaga's music was awful, the effort would be all for naught. Fortunately, Lady Gaga can sing.

Urban Meyer stepping down - history of health problems

In stunning news, Urban Meyer, the Head Coach at the University of Florida, and the father of the modern Spread Offense, is stepping down due to health concerns.

Urban Meyer

According to the University of Florida Sports Information Department, Urban Meyer made this announcement Saturday afternoon. Meyer said:

"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program," said Meyer. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."

"After consulting with my family, Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family.

"I'm proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida.

"I'm very appreciative for the opportunity I've had to be a part of a tremendous institution - from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I'm also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most."

Urban Meyer has the best record amoung active coaches in college football. Meyer has 95 victories, just 18 losses for a .841 winning percentage in his nine seasons of coaching.

Urban Meyer rang up a school-record 22-game winning streak, two SEC Championships and two BCS National Championships.

But Urban Meyer's best known for the Spread Offense he created then refined at Utah and Florida.  The system, which combines spread "Airraid" passing patterns with option running, changed the strategic face of both college football and the NFL.

In hospital with chest pains after 2009 SEC Championship

According to, Meyer had been battling concerns about his health for years. But after the 2009 SEC Championship Game - a 32 to 13 loss to Alabama - they came up again as Meyer was hospitalized with chest pains. In 1998, as an assistant at Notre Dame, Meyer had headaches; doctors discovered a non-life-threatening arachnoid cyst on his brain.

Stay tuned for updates.

PETN explosive used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - father warned U.S.

The father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he warned U.S. authorities about his son according to the Associated Press and The Huffington Post. Also, a PETN explosive was used by the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit.

His father reportedly went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria to report his concern that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a terrorist. But the information his father provided was not of significant reason to place his son on the "no-fly" list.

The No-Fly List is a secret document maintained by the U.S. Government. It bans those listed from air travel in, to, or from the United States. There are reportedly over 1 million people on the No-Fly List.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was stopped in his attempt by Jasper Schuringa.

According to ABC News, the bomb plot was planned by al-Qeada in Yemen. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is reportedly giving a lot of information.

I can't help but wonder what was going through Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's head because on CNN,Jasper Schuringa said that Abdulmutallab said very little when he subdued him.  He intended to execute a Christmas-day suicide bombing.

Stay tuned.

Jasper Schuringa's on Facebook and CNN - become a fan!

I just saw CNN's interview with Jasper Schuringa, who's the hero of Northwest Flight 235. I did not record the conversation as it happened to come on as I sat down to eat, but I did listen attentively. Jasper Schuringa said that when he saw the fire coming from alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, he just "leaped over some seats" and went to put out the flame.

Jasper said "I didn't think; I just reacted."

It's hard for me or anyone else to say what we would have done in that situation. The last two fights I took to get here to Georgia for Christmas, I was so tired I fell into a deep sleep. It's possible I would have been zonked out on Jasper's flight, too. Regardless, Jasper's actions are a reminder that people should not be afraid to take action.

As Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab' was on fire, from Jasper Schuringa's account, it seemed others around him were initially afraid to act. In fact, Jasper seemed like he was holding back criticism of his fellow passengers. Good for him.

Jasper Schuringa's Facebook page has just over 200 friends as of this writing, but that's about to change. He also has one of those "Become a fan" buttons - I don't have one. But I did become a fan of him for what he did. You should too. Click here.


Oakland lawyer turns Oakland artist - Thomas McDonnell on law, racism

Oakland lawyer turns Oakland artist - Thomas McDonnell

Just when Charlie Sheen, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, and Michael Jackson's doctors need him, Thomas McDonnell, a well-known Oakland, California criminal defense attorney every bit as good as Gloria Allred, quit the practice.

Thomas McDonnell

Thomas is now a digital artist (and very happy) specializing in creating art using scanners. But why McDonnell - who comes from a family of lawyers, based in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area – quit practicing law is a fascinating story. I know a lot of lawyers - from Oakland City Attorney John Russo and Personal Injury Lawyer Robert G. Shock, to Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie and Peralta Community College Chancellor Elihu Harris - and many talk about what they like and dislike about the practice. Quite a few quit. Some go into politics; others take a completely different turn. That's Thomas.

I met with my friend and fellow singer at The Alley on Grand Avenue, to talk about it on a lovely fall Wednesday at Lake Chalet Restaurant at Lake Merritt; the result is this 25 minute video (with one brief section a discussion with two other Oaklanders about the history of Lake Merritt).

We started our talk in the middle of a panic: Thomas was in search of an extension cord to power his scanner. Fortunately, Lake Chalet staff provided one, and we were off to the races. Thomas has a technique where he uses the scanner as a camera. The device produces fascinating images of ordinary scenes, like he and I sitting on the patio of the restaurant. Where did he get the idea?

"I was spending my nights processing autopsy autographs taken by some cop, of the burial, exhumation, and autopsy of Eddie Araujo, which was horrible. And it kind of got to me. It was the first time (working) after my mother had died. I found myself walking out in the middle of the night, just walking around. Just to clear my head of these horrible images."

(Eddie Araujo was the transgender Fremont woman killed because her attackers thought she was a woman and not a man. For legal reasons we could not talk at length about the case.)

Thomas went out with his best friend James Serwa and his wife Lisa, for an Oakland Open Studios Tour, and discovered the work of Jan Camp. She made images primarily by scanning flowers; Thomas saw his next practice, and started by "liberating flowers" for use in his newly-discovered passion for art work.

But with that, Thomas also felt overwhelmed in practicing criminal law in the East Bay.

"I never felt that I was doing a good job for my clients. Everyone told me I was a great lawyer. I was very successful." The problem was that Thomas didn't feel he was giving the client "what the case deserved". So he got out, but not just for reasons of workload or ugly images. Racism played a factor, too.

Thomas said that the racism that exists in the socioeconomic problems and in the lack of police officers and resources that come to play in cases was hard to deal with. "Crimes are committed by poor people," he said. "And it seems more poor people are people of color – black, Hispanic and elderly – are arrested and convicted of crimes than white people (or) Asian people. (They) Seem to not get as convicted or caught."

I pointed out that in San Francisco's Marina District I've attended parties of mostly white folks where at times there was cocaine (which I don't do). It occurred to me that cops aren't in that area; they patrol the poor black and Latino areas of San Francisco. Thomas said "The cops would be at the parties doing the drugs."

Thomas gave another example of racism in the way Oakland police treated a black person versus a white person today, 2009. A black man stopped by a police officer and arrested for a felony of any kind after dark would be given a curfew. But the idea of limiting that person's time out at night played into the overall racist question of what a black man was doing out late at night.

"So you get what happened with (Lovell) Mixon (who shot four Oakland officers in March) and the officers. And I knew all of them. It's tragedy all around. You get these kids who live their lives anticipating being arrested."

Thomas says that there are good and bad people in the law, law enforcement, and among the so-called criminals he's represented. The line between good people and bad people is far more blurred than many understand.

He told me a story of how the Alameda County District Attorney staffers would meet with lawyers in "the old days" at what was called The Courthouse Bar, and is known today as The Ruby Room on 14th Street near Lakeside Drive across from the Oakland Library. Thomas said they would decide cases over a bottle of scotch. "They got a lot of work done," he said. But Thomas says it had its limitations. The racism was different in that at the time the lawyers didn't know that what they were doing and how they did it was racist.

Thomas McDonnell's' advice for new lawyers

Thomas says that new lawyers should attend to how they spend their day and enjoy what they do. "The law is a wonderful career because it can lead you to, anywhere," he said. You can do anything you want to do.

Including becoming a digital artist.

Watercooler Chat for week 16

Watercooler Chat week 16 By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

A Wireless Week

For most computer geeks wireless is usually a very good thing, but for fantasy owners it means you have to roll with what you got; sometimes that's not so good. If you're stuck with few choices, but have a chance to tap into the free market here's what our good buddy Wayne "The Wire" Bosco has to offer...

Wayne says...

It's always better to play the hot hand, rather than a cold one which could be the case this week. With Jerome Harrison coming off a career day 286 yards on the ground and set to face a questionable Raiders run defense (ranked 28th against the run), those are plenty of reasons to jump on the Brown's running back's milk-truck. Harrison has not done a whole lot in 2009, but he made a loud statement last week and it's a good bet that the Brown's coaching staff was listening. He should be featured quite a bit on Sunday and could be very good play against Oakland. This game is going to lack a lot of great defense, so there should be plenty of big plays on offense from both sides; including Mr. Harrison.

The Titan's will have a difficult matchup on Friday night against the San Diego Chargers, but there's no question two of the biggest keys for Tennessee will be Chris Johnson and Vince Young. What some folks may not be aware of, rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt will also be a huge key for the Titans. While Britt has cooled off some the past couple of weeks, he'll be an important instrument in the Titans success. With the Charger's starting corners preoccupied with Tennessee's other receivers (Gage, Washington), Britt is going to see some favorable coverages and should be targeted quite a bit in this one. When Young has looked for Britt, the kid has been big with three touchdowns in his last five games and facing the explosive Chargers the Titans will have to throw the ball.

The Colts are not going to head into this Week 16 matchup lightly and if Peyton Mannng has any say, they will play to win. This week's matchup with the Jets will present many challenges, but with New York's shutdown corner Darrelle Revis pretty much locking up Reggie Wayne the Colts second year wideout Pierre Garcon could be big. Garcon starting opposite Wayne has played well when called on this season has been quiet the past couple of weeks, but could become a primary weapon against the Jets. Last week Garcon saw only two throws in his direction, but in his six games prior he saw no fewer than eight (averaging more than nine). This should be a matchup for the Colts second year wideout that gets him back on track.

Waynes Weekly "Friendly Word for the wise"...

The Niners are basically playing for pride now, but their quarteback could be playing for a whole lot more; a strong finish. Quarterback Alex Smith has not quite sold the idea he's the team's future, but a strong finish could go a long way. With the rookie Michael Crabtree one of his favorite and best targets, it safe to say he (Crabtree) will likely play a big part in the success of the passing game down the stretch. A late arrival this season Crabtree has been a very positive addition to the team's passing attack and with his quarterback looking to make a statement, expect Crabtree to be a huge beneficiary. Despite playing in just nine games Crabtree is amongst the team leaders in receptions, yards, and touchdowns for wide receivers. With Smith continuing to call his number, expect the rookie to see his numbers greatly improve.

Player Watch for Week 16

Once again here a few players of note that fantasy owners should consider riding or hiding for the coming weekend of games. Keep these players on your watchlist, you just may want to give them a hard look come Sunday;

(Start) JermIchael Finley
The Packer's tight end has been better than consistent with 21 receptions and three touchdowns in his last three games. He's a huge target in the red-zone and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is looking his direction more and more.

(Start) Vince Young
The Titans quarterback Vince Young has been a fantasy keeper over the past several weeks averaging more than 20 fantasy points in his last three starts, including three touchdown passes last week. There's no reason to believe he shouldn't do more of the same against the Chargers 15th ranked defense on Christmas night.

(Sit) Thomas Jones
As reliable and solid as running back Thomas Jones has been all season, this game could simple be a case where he just won't get any opportunity. The Colts offense is just so impressive they could easily turn the Jets offense to one dimensional by jumping out big real quick. Thomas is likely a long shot to see more than 15 carries in this one.

(Start) Michael Bush
The Raiders running back Michael Bush has to love his chances this Sunday against the Browns defense after watching highlights of Jamaal Charles shredding it for 150 yards on the ground. Bush is coming off a season high effort of 133 yards of his own and should do well in Cleveland.

(Sit) Knowshon Moreno
The Broncos backfield will likely be a little crowded on Sunday with the return of running back Correll Buckhalter. With the Eagles 10th ranked run defense on the slate fantasy owners shouldn't expect a great effort from rookie running back Knowshon Moreno.

(Start) Pierre Thomas
The Saints lost their bid on perfection, but they won't just lay down the rest of the way. They need to get back to winning with their balanced attack and with Buccaneers (ranked 30th against the run) in town Pierre Thomas should be featured even more on the ground this Sunday.

Charlie Sheen arrested, out on bond; Brooke Mueller Sheen and drink?

The sad Christmas tale of Charlie Sheen arrested and charged with a reported two felonies and one misdemeanor charge of domestic violence against his wife Brooke Mueller Sheen in Aspen, Colorado is gaining clarity.

After accounts that Charlie Sheen would not be able to post bond after his arrest, reports that he paid $8,500 after talking to a county judge.  He's out of jail.

Moreover, his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, was given a breath test to determine the level of alcohol in her body relative to her blood; the percentage was .13. By contrast, Charlie Sheen was given the same test and posted .04. TMZ wrote that law enforcement sources say Brooke Mueller Sheen was "legally drunk" when she called 911.

In a way, this is beginning to read like the Tila Tequila / Sean Merriman incident all over again. In that case, an intoxicated Tila Tequila called 911 reporting that Sean Merriman allegedly assaulted her. The San Diego County District Attorney dropped the case after witnesses and Merriman claimed he was trying to stop her from driving while drunk.

The difference here is there are no reported witnesses as of this writing, just Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller Sheen.

Charlie Sheen said Brooke Sheen was the agressor and he was trying to defend himself. Again, that's very similar to the Tila Tequila / Sean Merriman disagreement.

Stay tuned.