Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect? Dartmouth certainly hopes so as it kicks off practice this morning on Memorial Field. Check BGA Premium tonight for full coverage as the Big Green begins the chase for its 18th Ivy League title.
Several days ago I bought the online version of the venerable Phil Steele FCS magazine, which predicts the Ivy League to finish this way:

1. Harvard
2. Dartmouth
3. Yale
4. Brown
5. Princeton
6. Cornell
7. Columbia
8. Penn

Nothing unusual near the top but picking Cornell sixth and Penn eighth is going out on a limb ;-)

Dartmouth has 13 players chosen on Steele's first and second teams, the most of any Ivy:

First Team Offense
Dalyn Williams, quarterback
Ryan McManus, wide receiver
Jacob Flores, offensive line

First Team Defense
AJ Zuttah, defensive line
Cody Fulleton, defensive line
Will McNamara, linebacker
Vernon Harris, corner

Second Team Offense
Kyle Bramble, running back
Victor Williams, wide receiver

Second Team Defense
Zach Slafsky, linebacker
Troy Donahue, defensive back

Second Team Specialists
Alex Gakenheimer, placekicker
Ben Kepley, punter

Dalyn Williams is the projected Ivy League offensive player of the year and AJ Zuttah is the projected defensive player of the year.

Steele's 220-page FCS College Football Preview is not available in print but can be purchased for online reading HERE.
The publication Dartmouth Now writes about the STRIVR virtual reality program the Big Green is using as well as the mobile tackling device. (LINK) The story begins this way:
Dartmouth football heads into the fall with the highest preseason Ivy League ranking in 18 years and an arsenal of high-tech tools that Big Green head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 expects will reduce injuries and give all his players virtually unlimited practice time on the field.
The Times of Northwest Indiana has a piece about safety issues in football and it has a bit about Dartmouth's motorized tackling dummy, which will make its public debut this morning. From the piece (LINK):
Speaking of concussion, leave it to the Ivy League, which was part of the very first college football game, to help save the sport’s future. Tomorrow, Dartmouth College will unveil the MVP, short for “Mobile Virtual Player,” at an on-field news conference.
And . . .
Tackling drills are a necessary part of football but ball carriers and receivers subject to repeated hits in practice risk injury. An immobile tackling dummy is much safer but a poor simulation. The MVP looks like a far more promising alternative in a demonstration video. Designed at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, it will be offered for sale “in the near future.”
Without something like the MVP, football faces hit limits for high school players, somewhat akin to the pitch limits in youth baseball. Data from multiple studies indicate an excessive number of sub-concussive hits in a season are a greater worry than individual concussions. 
Speaking of technology and football, that other Times, the Times of New York ;-) has a piece about how TV has planted GPS trackers in NFL shoulder pads and how it will use that to track all kinds of data on player movement. (LINK)
And finally, a story.

When I lived at home and long after, my mother did income tax returns as sort of a side business. To be truthful, while she did a healthy number of returns – people would come by five or six nights a week as April 15 approached – it is probably a misnomer to call it a business because she didn't charge anywhere near the going rate for the work she did.

People would come by once a year and sit down at the kitchen table. Within seconds a cup of coffee would appear in front of them and they'd have a cat purring on their lap. After a half hour or an hour or more of catching up on what happened in their lives over the past year, people would pull out their records, their check stubs, their receipts and all the rest. My mother would pile it all in a manila folder with a thick rubber band around it. She'd ask a few questions and answer a few questions, the cat would be gently placed on the floor and the visitor would eventually be on his or her way.

A few weeks later the folks would come by to pick up their taxes and we probably wouldn't see them for another year but they'd come back year after year after  year.

I once asked my mother why she didn't charge more for what she did because, and this isn't bragging, she was very good at it. She told me that over the years people became friends, she enjoyed having them come by, and well, most of the returns were for working class people and she was making enough money for her trouble.

BGA readers don't often come by Moose Mountain (except if we host a hike). I don't have a cat, I don't drink coffee and you sure wouldn't want me to do your tax return.

But you've become friends. When I go to the post office to pick up the mail and find an envelope from a subscriber it's a good thing because we still have a kid in college and bills to pay. But truth be told, what I most enjoy is the little notes that are in so many of the envelopes. This is a seven-day slog from mid-August until Thanksgiving and it really helps to know that you understand and appreciate how much of myself I pour into this.

This site? Yeah, it's back and it's still free but make no mistake about it, this is a slog as well. I have been encouraged for years to put it on the premium site and was sorely tempted a couple of weeks back. I'd spent a lot of time pulling up some really good stuff and posting it and found myself wondering why I bother. I mentioned that donate button up there and it has been clicked two times in the past year.

Then I got a letter from a former football parent and it said this:
"Hi Bruce. I was reading tonight on your difficult decision to charge blog readers and sense I was falling into that category."
The sentence or two that followed meant more to me than the check he sent along. He'll have premium access for the next year and in a large part you can thank him and another former parent for this site staying where it is.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.