A True Christmas Miracle

Please pardon this interruption of the football blog but, at a time when the nation seems to be completely overrun by anger and hatred, I feel compelled to share with you all a wonderful story of a true Christmas Miracle.  While we read about tragic, senseless deaths that are resulting in even more tragic and senseless deaths, I’d like to tell you a story about a couple who have chosen life.  They’ve chosen to breathe a life into someone who is much less fortunate than the rest of us…

Earlier this summer, my wife and I were on our way back from a trip when we happened to share a cab with a sweet family from South Carolina.  We struck up a conversation with Brent and Claire and, as with most of my conversations, Brent and I quickly found a common ground by talking football – specifically, Clemson football – and after two or three hours we’d become fast friends.  Brent reached out to me via Facebook and suddenly a two or three-hour conversation turned into a great little Facebook friendship.

About two weeks ago, I saw a post from him saying that he and Claire decided that they weren’t going to celebrate Christmas this year.  I was intrigued so I clicked the “more” button and what I found was that this couple was doing far more for a human being than most anyone else I’ve ever heard of.  Brent and Claire were providing a true to life Christmas miracle.

A 58-year-old homeless person named Tony had spent the last year living in a shed behind Claire’s business partner’s office.  He’d actually been homeless for over three years until the business partner suggested that Tony take refuge in the shed to get out of the weather.  Unlike the typical homeless people that you see with their hands out at busy intersections, Tony’s only request was to simply ask for work.  Even at his age, the former Navy veteran still had a valuable carpentry skill set and the drive to put forth an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay but, of course, not many people were willing to take a chance that a homeless person could have any real value.  That is, until Brent and Claire happened along…

Brent owns a condo that had been a home to some exceptionally bad tenants.  These folks left behind a hurricane’s worth of damage but Brent found a way to turn his bad fortune into someone else’s good fortune – and that person is Tony.

Brent and Claire decided to pack up Tony’s belongings, which were little more than a knapsack, and they moved Tony into their condo where he now works to repair the damages in return for food and free rent.  In my eyes, it’s an amazing act of kindness and one I would have never considered!  But, here is a couple who decided that instead of spending money on gifts for Christmas, they’d invest in the greatest gift they could provide someone – hope.

After Brent posted this amazing story on Facebook, there has been an outpouring of love and support from many, many different places.  Offerings of food, clothing, bedding and an array of other items have been coming in from friends, family and people they don’t even know.  In a time when the world seems so full of violence, hatred and anger, it’s heartwarming to come across a story that renews your faith in your fellow-man.  When I asked recently about what Tony needs now, Brent simply said, “encouragement.”

So, as you enjoy this Christmas time with your friends and your families, I’d encourage you to remember this story and give an act of kindness whenever and wherever you see fit.  Whether it’s a donation to a Salvation Army bell-ringer or giving the gift of food to someone less fortunate, maybe if we can collectively give an outpouring of good deeds we can make a little difference in this world – especially at a time when we all could use an uplifting story this holiday season.

Update:  Here is the news story (click here) about this wonderful act of giving.  After this clip ran, Tony was offered a job!!!!  What a tremendous Christmas story!

The Lighthouse staff would like to take this time to wish you and your loved ones happy holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

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A Beginning Is A Very Delicate Time

Here’s another guest post from the notorious P.A.B., statmeister extraordinaire.  Could game one of the 2014 bring good Tidings….?

 

A Beginning Is A Very Delicate Time:

A Look at the Tide’s 2009 and 2014 Opening Games

 

The question

How did the Crimson Tide’s victory in the 2014 season opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers compare to other first games during Coach Saban’s tenure?

The nitty-gritty

Put together a scores-based summary of all opening games since Coach Saban took the reins in T-Town. If any game appears similar to the 2014 game, dig deeper into the statistics.

Scores-based summary

Since Nick Saban became head coach in 2007, the Crimson Tide has an 8-0 record in opening games. Five games have been played on neutral fields – AT&T Stadium in 2012 and the Georgia Dome in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2014. Five opponents have been from the so-called “power conferences.”

A quick review of the scores reveals:

  • Total points scored: 325 Average: 40.6 points/game
  • Total points allowed: 97 Average: 12.1 points/ game
  • Average margin of victory: 28.5 points per game

Looking at individual games:

  • Most points scored: 52 vs. Western Carolina (2007)
  • Most points allowed: 24 vs. Virginia Tech (2009)
  • Fewest points scored: 33 vs. West Virginia (2014)
  • Fewest points allowed: 3 vs. San Jose State (2010)

That’s an impressive run of victories, considering the level of competition with five “national exposure/season kickoff” games contested at neutral sites. Being nationally relevant year after year brings responsibilities and challenges.   No one can accuse the Tide of scheduling patsies, ducking the spotlight or refusing to travel.

The 2014 opening game, however, is something of an outlier. During Coach Saban’s tenure:

  • 33 is the fewest points scored
  • 23 is the second-most points allowed (24 by Virginia Tech, 2009)

10 is tied for the smallest margin of victory (34-13 vs. Virginia Tech, 2009)

Let’s compare the Tide’s offensive efforts between the 2009 game versus the Hokies with this year’s contest against the Mountaineers.

                                       2009                                                         2014

Time of possession:        37:02                                                       37:47

Total yards:                     498                                                             538

Offensive plays:             79 ; 22 first downs                               82 ; 30 first downs

Passing:                        230 yards, 15/30, 1 TD!                       250 yards, 24/33, 0 TD

Rushing:                       268 yards, 49 att., 2 TDs                     288 yards, 49 att, 3 TDs

3rd-down efficiency:      6/17 (35%)                                          9/16 (56%)

Turnovers:                     1 INT, 1 FMBL                                       1 INT

Penalties:                      10: 83 yards                                           7: 49 yards

In the 2009 game, Tide special teams allowed a 98-yard kickoff return (TD) in the first quarter. In 2014, a 100-yard kickoff return (TD) by West Virginia came in the second quarter. (Eerie.)

Good things from the 2014 game: 1) better third-down efficiency, 2) more rushing yards on same number of attempts, 3) fewer turnovers and 4) fewer penalties and penalty yards. Bad things: 0 passing TDs despite more attempts and a better completion percentage.

Overall, the offensive stats from the 2009 and 2014 opening games are very close. Both games were against above average opponents at the Georgia Dome and ended as 10-point victories. The 2009 season resulted in an undefeated BCS national champion. Might 2014 do the same?

By the Way

The observation that “A beginning is a delicate time” is taken from the movie Dune (1984). That film is based, of course, on the sci-fi masterpiece novel of the same title, written by Frank Herbert.   Dune (1965) won the Hugo and Nebula Awards and is among the best selling sci-fi novels of all time. If the 1984 film is not to your liking, look for the 2000 TV mini-series that was broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was known then).

The Long and Winding Road

*Many  thanks to PAB for the first of many guest posts.  Enjoy!

The Long and Winding Road:

                               How Much Travel Does A College Football Schedule Entail?

The Question

Every year, during March Madness, the issue of travel is raised. “Games are being played all over the country. Teams are travelling a lot of miles.”
Well, college football is at least as important as the NCAA men’s hoops extravaganza and “a lot of miles” isn’t very precise. Just how many miles of travel might a big-time college football team log in a season? Let’s look at the Crimson Tide’s 2014 schedule and see what numbers we get.

The Nitty-Gritty
The street address of the home stadium for each team on the schedule was identified. The same was done for the Georgia Dome and the stadiums that will host College Football Playoff games. Mapquest provided stadium-to-stadium driving distances. If more than one route was given, the average distance was calculated. Driving distance was multiplied by two to get round-trip miles.

Regular season
Crimson Tide total travel: 3,207.82 miles
Opposing teams total travel: 5,282.64 miles
Total travel, Crimson Tides and opponents: 8490.46
(For comparison, it’s about 3304 miles from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge.)
Longest trip by the Crimson Tide: to Arkansas: 1121.10 miles
Longest trip by an opposing team: from Texas A&M: 1354.96 miles
Shortest trip by the Crimson Tide: to Ole Miss: 348.00 miles
Shortest trip by an opposing team: from Mississippi State: 167.18 miles

Postseason
Travel to the SEC Championship Game, Georgia Dome: 406.26 miles
Travel to College Football Playoff semi-final, Sugar Bowl: 582.82 miles =OR=
Travel to College Football Playoff semi-final, Rose Bowl: 4051.54 miles
Travel to College Football Playoff championship, AT&T Stadium: 1209.66
So if the Crimson Tide wins the SEC title in the Georgia Dome, then reaches the CFP championship game, that will add either 2198.74 miles (the Sugar Bowl route) or 5667.46 miles (the Rose Bowl route).
Combining these distances with regular season travel, the totals are:
Total travel (Sugar Bowl route): 5406.56 miles
Total travel (Rose Bowl route): 8875.28 miles

Conclusion
An old adage, attributed to Lao-Tzu, states “The longest journey begins with a single step.” The Crimson Tide’s journey begins in the Georgia Dome on August 30… it could cover almost 8900 miles and make Alabama the first-ever CFP Champion.

By The Way
Yes, “The Long and Winding Road” is a homage to The Beatles. The song was released in 1970 on the “Let It Be” album. It was the last Beatles single to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.