Thursday, September 21, 2023

Chuck Jones

From What's Opera Doc?
A person I admire is Chuck Jones.

"Who?" you might be saying.

Chuck Jones was, in my opinion, the best director/animators of cartoon shorts ever. He worked for Leon Schlesinger productions where the first Looney Tunes shorts were made (exactly six minutes long). Later, Leon Schlesinger productions was bought by Warner Bros. According to his filmography on Wikipedia, he made 209 shorts (if I counted correctly) for Schlesinger/Warner Bros. before he left them in 1962. He is responsible for the creation of the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons and many amazing shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, and the whole Looney Tunes gang.

I was listening to the commentary for What's Opera Doc? (probably his best cartoon) and they said at Schlesinger/Warner Bros. the animators were expected to make ten cartoon shorts a year, working five weeks on each (and then two weeks vacation). Which explains his productivity.

Chuck Jones's cartoons made me laugh after I discovered Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings as a child. Now, at 63 years old, I still love them. I can still sing the song from those Saturday morning shows ("Overture, hit the lights...").

One thing I admire about Jones is that, until I read his autobiography, Chuck Amuck, I had no idea of his politics. He kept them completely out of his work and only hinted at in it his book. So I had no clue that he was actually an FDR Democrat. I admire people who can keep their personal opinions out of their art (I can't).

How do you feel about Chuck Jones and his work? Let me know in the comments below.

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, September 14, 2023


 I pride myself on thinking scientifically. Or at least trying to. It's hard because that's not how human minds are wired to think. It's hard to only look at objective evidence and not let your prejudices or preconceived notions get in the way. And I know I do that, but I try to minimize it.

But when it comes to sports, and my beloved University of Washington Huskies football team, I can be unscientific. In fact, I am downright superstitious. 

For example: In 2021 I dyed my hair purple to show my support for the team. I thought it would be fun and a cool way to show how much I love the team. So this is how I looked:

And, I got a little beef about it living among Washington State Cougars supporters. Some people, however, thought it was neat.

But in 2021, the Huskies had a horrible year. They were 4-8. They lost to FCS team Montana (I was in the stands). They lost the Apple Cup!

So I'll NEVER dye my hair purple again. Why? Superstition. I don't want my Huskies to have another awful year. I know that's not at all scientific (how does my hair color affect the team?). But I'm still not dying my hair purple again.

(I did talk to my wife about dying my hair green so that the Oregon Nike Ducks have a horrible year.)

Do you have any superstitions that you keep practicing despite knowing they aren't really working? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Are College Football Coaches Overpaid?

College football has had their first games last weekend. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season a lot. I think my beloved University of Washington Huskies are going to have a great year.

But there is a large controversy in college football and that is what the coaches are paid, at least in Power 5 conferences. For example, Kalen DeBoer, the coach at the University of Washington, is being paid a $26.7 million base salary over six years (or $4.45 million a year). If he stays with the program through 2025, he'll get a total of $10 million in bonuses (spread out over the years).

And DeBoer is considered a low-paid coach (I'm sure if he has another season like last year, that will change). Alabama's head coach, Nick Saban, is the highest paid college head coach at $10.7 million a year that will increase to $12.7 million by 2029. 

That's more than a lot of corporate CEOs make. But less than Taylor Swift.

(Pete Carroll, head coach of the NFL Seattle Seahawks, makes $15 million a year, in comparison.)

Then there's all the other coaches such as offensive and defensive coordinators, quarterback coaches, offensive line coaches, etc. They have to make a lot of money, too. Husky offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb just got a pay increase to $2 million a year because someone was trying to hire him away from UW.

The reason why these coaches are paid so much is that a good, winning coach is in high demand (just like CEOs that can make a company prosperous and like Taylor Swift concert tickets). You have to pay them a lot to keep them at your school.

And, yes, the coaches are often the highest paid state government employee.

Are they worth it? 

Yes! Because a winning program will make more money for the schools' athletic departments. That profit the football program makes goes to paying for sports, including women's sports required by Title IX, that the school otherwise couldn't afford. Plus, a winning football team has been shown to increase donations to the school for scholarships and other things.

So, yes, college football coaches are paid a lot. But they are worth it. (This is probably true of winning college basketball coaches, too, but they don't seem to make as much.)

How do you feel about coaches' salaries at the college level. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

College Football Starts this Weekend!

College football starts this weekend!* And despite there being a few things I don't like about college football, I'm really looking forward to this year and the University of Washington Huskies' prospects.

The Huskies were 7-0 at home last year. They currently have a seven-game winning streak. Let's hope they keep both streaks alive. Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. and other key players decided to return this year instead of entering the NFL draft. That's very good news!

Last year was amazing for the Huskies. Their first season under new coach Kalen Deboer, I was expecting a rebuilding year. But they went 11-2, having their first 11-win season since 2016. If they hadn't lost to Arizona State, they might have gone to the CFP. As it was, the Huskies ended up being the number two team in the Pac-12, behind USC.

It's going to be hard for the Huskies to top that this year. But I'm hoping they do. They have some tough games ahead: Oregon at home, USC in Los Angeles, and Utah at home.

Last year we didn't play USC or Utah, two tough teams. Playing them this year will make it even harder to be successful. 

The Huskies are #10 in the AP preseason poll. They finished last year at #8. They are the second highest ranked Pac-12 team in the preseason poll (USC is #6).

The first game we play is in Husky Stadium against Boise State. They were 10-4 last year, so they won't be a pushover. 

That game will be Saturday at 12:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time on ABC. I'm going to be there near the 50-yard line, two rows up from the field.

Interestingly, the three non-conference games the Huskies play are all against FBS teams (Boise State, Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, and at Michigan State). This is unusual because most teams play an FCS team as sort of a "warm up" game. This makes the Huskies' season more difficult than normal. 

Are you looking forward to college football? Do you have a favorite team. Let me know in the comments below.

*There were a few games last weekend but most college football starts this weekend.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

What I Don't Like about College Football

College football starts next weekend. If you read this blog you know I love college football, especially the University of Washington Huskies. I love watching kids develop and get better. I enjoy the game and the competition. I like that the players aren't making millions of dollars but are playing mostly for scholarships and for love of the game (although a bit of that has changed recently).

But there are things I don't like about college football.

I talked about the downside of NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) before.

Another thing I don't like is that college football players can enter the NFL draft three years out of high school. That means they might only be 20 years old and only sophomores if they were red-shirted during their freshman year. Yes, I understand wanting to get into the NFL to get that sweet, sweet money and not risk a career-ending injury in college. But I wish the NFL would make it at least four years out of high school.

Also in an effort not to get injured before their NFL career, some players will "opt-out" of bowl games. Again, I understand not wanting to give up the big NFL money. But to me, this reeks of selfishness and no team spirit. If you helped your team get to a bowl, wouldn't you want to play in it? 

Another thing I don't like is the recent development of the transfer portal. It used to be that once you committed to a team, you were there until you were out of NCAA eligibility or went into the draft. Now players can change teams in the middle of there eligibility. This did work out great when Michael Penix transferred to Washington. But I still don't like the transfer portal.

There's not really a playoff. Yes, there's the CFP (College Football Playoff) which chooses four teams to play against each other in a sort of mini, three game playoff. And, yes, there is talk about expanding it to more teams (which I like). But the NCAA Division I FCS teams get a playoff, why can't the FBS teams. Turn all those bowls into playoff games. Yes, the CFP is much better than what we had before (the BCS or just the AP and coaches poll). But I think we need more teams to compete. College basketball has a 64 team playoff. Why can't football?

(Yes, I know that the plan is to expand to 12 teams in 2026 or sooner. I think this is a good thing.)

Are there things you don't like about college football that I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

College Football and the NFL

The college football season is quickly approaching (most of the first games will be the weekend of September 2nd). And I was thinking about the connection between college football and the National Football League (NFL). The NFL is, of course, professional football.

I read a statistic once that only 5% of high school football players play in college, and only 5% of college players make it to the NFL. That means one out of ever 2,500 high school football players ends up in the NFL. Not good odds.

Then there's the NFL draft. The teams with the worst record the previous season get to pick first (unless there's a trade or other complication). So the best college players go to the worst teams.

But even then, sometimes it doesn't work out. Wide receiver John Ross played for the University of Washington Huskies (Go Dawgs!) and help them reach the College Football Playoffs in 2016. He entered the next NFL draft and was picked number 9 overall (out of probably 200-some odd players in the draft). But he had a disappointing career in the NFL and wasn't the star he was a UW. He's suffered injuries and hasn't had a lot of good plays. He signed with the Kansas City Chief on January 9th of this year. But he never played in the Chief's run to the Super Bowl.

I loved John Ross when he was at UW. But for some reason his talent didn't extend to the NFL.

On the other hand, Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback from Clemson, was drafted first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He managed to take the team that had the worst record in 2021-2022 to the playoffs in the 2022-2023 season. And that had never happened before in the NFL. So that worked out.

And that is not very uncommon for a great college player not to do well in the NFL. (The same happens in college, great high school players don't do well in college football, too.) 

What do you think of the NFL draft and college football? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Is the Pac-12 Dead?

The news broke last Friday: the University of Oregon and the University of Washington are moving to the Big Ten conference next year. This follows Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado going to the Big 12. And is all started last year with USC and UCLA announcing they were going to the Big Ten. That leaves four schools in the Pac-12: California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.

Frankly, I blame USC and UCLA. When they announced that they were leaving the Pac-12, that took the Los Angeles television market away from the Pac-12. So when the Pac-12 went to negotiate media rights, they no longer had the LA market to offer. Fox and ESPN both declined to make offers. The Pac-12 ended up going with Apple TV streaming service which wouldn't pay as much as a Fox or ESPN media deal would. It was shortly after that that Oregon and Washington announced they were leaving.

People are saying it's about the all mighty dollar. And it is. The schools need money and lots of it. They have to pay coaches (who are paid a lot), pay for uniforms, travel, and in the University of Washington's case, keep paying for that beautiful, new stadium they built in 2012 and 2013.

How do I feel about this? It makes me sad. If the Pac-12 even survives, it'll likely no longer be a Power 5 conference. There are rumors it might merge with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Or it might merge with the Mountain West Conference. Who knows?

But also, that my beloved University of Washington Huskies will go from being a big fish is a medium-sized pond to being a smaller fish is a larger pond. There will be 18 teams in the Big Ten spread out all over the country. And what will happen to the Apple Cup cross-state rivalry game between UW and WSU? Will that become a late-season non-conference game? And what of the Border War game against hated Oregon? These are all questions that need to be answered.

Washington was a founding member of the conference that became the Pac-12. It was part of that conference for 109 years. I don't think this decision was made lightly.

Someone proposed a Big Ten West and Big Ten East. That might work to get Oregon and Washington to play more often. 

Washington has a good chance of being the Pac-12 champion this year. But it'll be very hard to top 17 other schools, including Ohio, to be the Big Ten champion. 

No matter what happens, it'll be interesting to watch. It might not be as fun, but it'll be interesting.

What do you think will happen to the Pac-12? Will it merge with another conference or just go away? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.