Tag Archives: Reba McEntire

Bowl Me Over!

I will jump right in with a keen grasp of the obvious. It’s BOWL season! Well, duh!

We’re surrounded by bowls and they’re closing in on us ($1 to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson for that bit of inspiration). If you substitute the word idiots, for bowls, then you have the good doctor’s quote exacto.

Much of our chatter about bowls comes in the form of criticism. How many times have you heard or spoke this phrase? Now, everybody together. Fill in the blank. “There are too (blank) bowls.” How did you complete that sentence? I’ll bet you didn’t use the word ‘few’. Who says there are too FEW bowls? No one. Who says there are too ‘many’ bowls? Almost everyone.

It’s true that there are a glut of bowls which now comprise our postseason. There are so many, in fact, that teams with a sterling record of 5-7 are now being invited to participate in these, often meaningless, exhibitions.

Bowl names are sometimes, at once, both puzzling and amusing. Case in point. here are the bowls that have already gone into the books as I write this column. The Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl,  R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and the Miami Beach Bowl.

That’s six down and thirty-five to go!

Bowls, bowls, bowls! Sponsors, sponsors, sponsors! And half-filled stadiums (which is being generous to a number of these contests). Or half-empty stadiums, huh? 😉

But you know what? I like bowls. Bring ’em on! Watch them or don’t watch them. Let the kids, their schools, and their fans have a big time. It’s fun! And bowl trips, themselves, are a lot of fun. That’s certainly the case as I have experienced it.

I have attended nineteen bowl games, in my lifetime, and the Auburn Tigers were participants in each and every one of them. Surprise!

Let’s take a look at two of the most memorable of these events.

Auburn vs. Michigan – 1984 Sugar BowlIMG_2569

There’s nothing like the first time. This holds true in many areas of life. This was the first bowl game I ever observed in person. And even though it was a low scoring game, Auburn won 9-7, it was very exciting. Michigan coach, Bo Schembechler, said Auburn wouldn’t be able to run the ball on the Wolverines. They did.

Bo Jackson ran for 130 yards on 22 carries and he was named the game’s most outstanding player. But, the Tigers were not able to punch the ball into the end zone. Al Del Greco kicked three field goals to account for all of the Tigers’ points. The last one came with 23 seconds left on the clock to seal it for Auburn.

As memorable as the game was, to me, it was the city of New Orleans that almost stole the show. My wife, Melodye, and I arrived on New Year’s Eve for the game which was to take place on Monday, January 2, as Sunday is pro football day and the Saints were playing at home.

Our hotel, a Days Inn in Kenner, LA, was in the grip of a most unusual cold snap that ‘The Big Easy’ was suffering through at that time. The pipes had burst in the modest facility and we were sent to the International Hotel on Canal Street. It was quite close to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and it was a big step up from the little motel near the airport where we were scheduled to stay

To say a big time was had by all would be putting it mildly. We watched, in both awe and disbelief, at the proceedings which took place in the French Quarter, and, most popularly, on Bourbon Street. “Laissez les bon temps router!” Or, in English, “Let the good times roll!”

They did!

It seems as though we walked dozens of miles in ‘Nawlins’ those three days and nights in late 1983 and early 1984.IMG_2570

There were hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and rum swizzles at the Seaport Cafe & Bar, but primarily there was beer at Molly’s Irish Pub on Toulouse Street. This was the first time we had ever run across those 24 ounce cans on Foster’s Beer, which is brewed in Australia.

As luck would have it, there was a group of Aussie sailors who were docked in New Orleans and we made their acquaintance through an Auburn student, from Baltimore, who was named Sarah. Sarah, and the sea faring lads from down under, combined with us to finish all of the Foster’s that Molly’s had in stock on the eve of the Sugar Bowl. Then it was into the Dixie beer, which was a step down.

There was also Shrimp Remoulade at Arnaud’s, this is where the dish was conceived, red beans and rice at Joe’s, and oysters at the Acme Oyster House.

We have since made several trips to New Orleans, including four more Sugar Bowls, but there will  never be another like that first one.

“Laissez les bon temps router,” indeed!

Auburn vs. Texas A&M – 1986 Cotton Bowl

As luck would have it, this was the 50th anniversary of the classic from Dallas. Oddly enough, that 1983-84 jaunt to New Orleans was the 50th playing of the Sugar Bowl.

The Aggies, under the leadership of then extraordinarily highly paid coach, Jackie Sherrill, laid a whuppin’ on Heisman winner, Bo Jackson, and the Auburn Tigers. Bo DID win another MVP for this game, yet again.IMG_2568

But what a trip!

We were living in Albany, NY at the time and we were accompanied by our dear friends, Don and Linda Meagher. The Meaghers were New York natives. We were about to introduce them to the world of hospitality, Texas style.

Melodye and I spent the first three years of our marriage in Ft. Worth, so we were very excited to be headed back that way for the first time since we left Tejas. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Euless, which is located about half way between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

We gorged on Mexican food at Raphael’s in Dallas, twice, and BBQ at the Southfork Ranch near Plano. The four of us used to always watch Dallas together on Friday nights, so this was a big treat for us.

One night, after dinner at said Raphael’s, I coaxed the crew into stopping by Carter Country in Irving, TX, the then home of the Dallas Cowboys. Carter Country is a combination bowling alley and honky tonk.

Don, not being steeped in, or necessarily comfortable with Texas culture was a bit wide-eyed when we pulled into the parking lot. Don surveyed the situation and said, “I don’t know. There are an awful lot of pickup trucks here.” I assured him that the crowd here could add and subtract and that there would be no problem. There was not a problem. But, we were familiarized with a song that played on the jukebox between live music sets. It was/is entitled, ‘The Rodeo Song’. I’m not going fill you in on the lyrics to ‘The Rodeo Song’ as they are not fit for younger eyes and ears or those who are easily offended. Google it, if you so desire.

‘Well it’s forty below and I don’t give a…”

Take it from there!

The highlight of the Cotton Bowl trip was probably New Year’s Eve at Billy Bob’s Texas. Surely everyone of you good readers is up on this world renowned country and western palace. The mechanical bull and all that. I think Gilley’s was the first of these types of establishments. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Gary Morris and Reba McEntire brought in 1986 that evening. A good, no GREAT, time was had by all. Melodye truly enjoyed the champagne that was served up to us, in twelve ounce Billy Bob’s Texas plastic tumblers, at the stroke of midnight.

Ask her about it the next time you see her. Or, better yet, give her a shout on Facebook. She is such a good sport about my telling of our adventures together. There have been countless numbers of those and I look forward to many,  many more with great anticipation.

The next one will take place in the great state of Alabama. The Birmingham Bowl. We’ll see you here, next week, with a preview of that bowl game, and hopefully, we will see some of you, who help to make up the Auburn Family, in Birmingham.

Peace on earth to one and all!






My Two Cents on Healing in the Heartland, E. Gordon Gee and Jim Brown

by Ryan Isley

It was definitely an interesting week in the world of sports, especially in Northeast Ohio. Trade rumors continued to swirl around the Cleveland Cavaliers and the first pick in the NBA Draft, the Indians went on a losing streak, Chris Perez was pulled from a game due to injury and then the Indians had a Cuban Missile Crisis of their own after Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman tried to behead Nick Swisher with a fastball.

But these are the three topics I am thinking about most as the week comes to an end:

On Healing in the Heartland:

While I realize this is a sports site, sometimes there are things in the world that are more important than sports. One such instance is the devastation that happened in Oklahoma last week when a tornado ripped through town and destroyed everything in its path. Last week, I used this space to write about Kevin Durant and how he donated $1 million and visited the town of Moore, Oklahoma that was in the eye of the storm.

This week, I want to recognize another group of people who gave of their time and organized a fundraiser for those in need in Oklahoma.

On Wednesday night, “Healing in the Heartland” – a benefit put together by country music superstar and “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton – aired live from the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City on NBC as well as other channels.

Blake was joined in person by his wife Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Ryan Tedder, Luke Bryan and Usher, who all performed songs live on the show. In addition to the performances, there were public service announcements throughout the show from Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Alicia Keys, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon and NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson.

While there were many emotional moments during the show, none were more tear-jerking than when Miranda Lambert started to cry during her performance of “The House That Built Me.” There was also a touching moment when Blake brought out a student who had lost her mother in the tornado just a week before her high school graduation.

All in all, it was a great event for a great cause and each artist who took time out of their schedule should be commended for their efforts. Anyone who would like to donate to the “Healing in the Heartland” benefit can do so by visiting the “Healing in the Heartland” Facebook page, texting REBUILD to 52000 to make a $10 donation on their cell phone bill or by calling 1-800-890-4999.

On E. Gordon Gee:

It seems that Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee had a Mitt Romney “47 percent” moment this past December. According to the Associated Press, Gee told a university committee that the reason Notre Dame wasn’t invited to join the Big Ten was because they’re not good partners, and then made a joke that Catholics can’t be trusted.

He went on to say that Notre Dame “wanted to have its cake and eat it, too.”

While I can’t completely disagree with Gee’s last assessment of Notre Dame wanting to have its cake and eat it too, this is just another in a line of stupid comments made by Gee when he should clearly be addressing anything other than the athletic programs at his school.

Let’s not forget that this is the same university president who hoped the football coach (Jim Tressel) didn’t fire him and also said that TCU played a schedule full of “Little Sisters of the Poor.” He has also continued to back Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and even went as far as to say that Ohio State was “blessed” to have Smith, despite the numerous issues within the athletic department. When I called for Smith’s dismissal in 2011, I also said he should take Gee with him on the way out the door.

If Gee doesn’t learn to keep his mouth shut, someone needs to do something before he embarrasses the school any further.

On Jim Brown:

It was announced on Wednesday that Jim Brown would be taking the role of “special advisor” within the Cleveland Browns organization. This was a move that sparked a ton of response on social media among Browns fans – some liked it, some hated it.

My question is this: Why does it matter?

Jim Brown is not going to be in the front office and will have zero impact on the players that the Browns bring in to help their football team. He won’t be on the sidelines coaching the team or having any say so on what happens during the 60 minutes of football played each game. The last time I checked, Brown is 77 years old, which means he also won’t be playing running back for the Cleveland Browns.

If Brown feels like he had to take a job just to feel vindicated and to get one last shot in at former Browns President Mike Holmgren, so be it.

Browns fans need to be more concerned with the people running the front office and the coaching staff than they need to be about a former player – albeit a GREAT former player – coming back to the organization to act as a glorified Wal-Mart greeter.

As Kendall Lewis – AKA “The BSK” – used to always tell me: It is what it is young fella.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at [email protected]