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June 24, 2010
Suggestion for President Obama and his speechwriters:
As the speeches are prepared for display on a teleprompter, there must be some electronics involved—something that can be computerized.
I would suggest that the computer be programmed to either totally eliminate the use of the word “I” or perhaps limit it to one use in each five or 10 minutes of speaking.
I would think the president would come across as less egocentric and more as a team leader—a strong team leader if he chooses the right language—if he more frequently referred to “we” or something like “I believe the American people will…”.
We knew that the American people had elected a self-confident, sometimes cocky president based on his campaign speeches. But a touch of humility would go over much better than the first person singular, especially when so many of his listeners know that the words are coming from the least experienced president in modern times.
* * *
The “Official Souvenir Program” for the “2010 National Championship U.S. OPEN” at the famous Pebble Beach golf links in California included this message from the CEO of the Pebble Beach Company and the general chairman of the 2010 U.S. Open:
“We have no doubt that the 110th U.S. Open will provide its own memorable memories, and we welcome the 156 great competitors battling it out to join the honor roll of champions.”
Well, the 110th U.S. Open certainly did provide “memorable moments” but the moments turned into several hours as the six leaders going into the final round last Sunday played a combined total of 23 strokes above par in that final round.
Eleven of those over-par strokes resulted from the spectacular implosion of the leader after three rounds—a confident (cocky?) Dustin Johnson, who went from 6 under after three rounds to 5 over by shooting a final round 82.
So the five other lowest-score leaders going into the final round shot “only” a combined 12 strokes over par—certainly not an example of the old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Besides Johnson, “standouts” among the six who couldn’t match or break par in the crucial final round of one of the so-called “major” championships were the Irishman Graeme McDowell, who won the championship with a 3-over final round and even par finish for the 72 holes, and Tiger Woods, who had won a U.S. Open championships at Pebble Beach in 2000 but finished Sunday with a 4-over-par 75 and a 72-total, 3 over par.
“Memorable” performances indeed, but more like a final summer outing of the Good Guys Golf and Guzzle Society at your local publinks course, not a performance by some of the world’s supposedly best golfers.
* * *
After the almost unbroken journalistic celebration of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s joining the Big 10 conference, we are finally reading some facts which bring more reality to the situation.
It appears very likely if not certain that the Big 12 baseball program will be negatively affected by Big 10 membership.
A World-Herald story Sunday pointed out that there are recruiting restrictions and non-conference travel restrictions which the Huskers have not faced in the Big 12.
You need look no further than the College World Series, currently center stage in Omaha, to see that Big 10 baseball is simply not in the same league with Big 12 baseball.
In the 14 years since the Big 12 Conference was formed, Big 12 teams have made 10 trips on “the road to Omaha.” This includes three College World Series appearances by the Cornhuskers. In those same 14 years, no Big 10 team has qualified for the CWS.
To the more serious question of what the Big 10 prestige factor may cost Nebraska:
A non-sports-oriented story in The Sunday World-Herald carried this subheadline: “UNL hopes to draw more students and thus have less need for state revenue.”
How’s that again? More students reduce the need for state revenue? Some observers would think it would be the other way around. (Additional funds that could be very well spent, I would add.)
The story quoted State Sen. Greg Adams from York, chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee, as saying that besides increased federal grants (again, the undocumented hope for more federal research dollars flowing automatically from Big 10 membership) UNL might need to seek private donations to establish research centers.
“In Nebraska, if there’s something of critical importance, private philanthropy has a way of filling in the gaps,” Adams said.
Unfortunately, Senator Adams’ attitude is typical of that of too many state government leaders.
A strong case can be made that “private philanthropy” is doing more than its share of “filling in the gaps.” A University of Nebraska Foundation campaign which ended in 2000 raised $727,770,000 for the university’s four campuses. Consider also the current University of Nebraska Foundation campaign to raise $1.2 billion to support the four campuses.
Too many state officials are perfectly willing to let the private sector carry a major share of the cost of supporting the University of Nebraska while figuratively running for cover when a perfectly reasonable alternative is suggested; i.e., increased state tax revenue in support of Nebraska’s most important public institution.
Another touch of reality appeared in a Monday World-Herald story under this headline: “NU: Big Ten academics shouldn’t alter recruiting.”
In contrast to the headline, the story quoted a UNL official as saying that it’s too early to say anything definitive although he doubts that the Cornhuskers will be required to make significant changes in their academic standards for athletic recruits.
But then this note of caution: “Where Nebraska might fall slightly below most in the Big Ten is its (the Big 10’s) performance-based criteria—applying students should have at least a 20 on the ACT and should be in the upper half of their class.”
* * *
In all of the understandably enthusiastic Nebraska comments about UNL joining a prestigious conference which offers greater long-term stability and the prospect of improved academic performance, one of the most sensible reactions was voiced by Husker head football Coach Bo Pelini.
After saying it will be an honor to be a part of the Big 10 conference and the Big 10 tradition and “really take Nebraska into a new age,” Pelini got back to the business at hand with this statement:
“When the 2010 season is over, you’ve got to adjust your sights, you’ve got to think how it’s going to impact your recruiting and those types of things, but that’s for another time. You start thinking ahead too much and you lose focus on the task at hand.”
The task at hand, of course, is the 2010 football season, not what happens after UNL officially joins the Big 10 July 1, 2011.
* * *
For today’s column-closer, a look at both golf and what the Cornhuskers bring to Big 10 athletics.
I have some questions about the logic of the way the Nebraska Golf Association put together its new “Great 18 East Course.”
In the first place, it limited any Eastern Nebraska course, no matter its overall quality, to a single hole. (I’ll admit some prejudice here, since my home course, the Omaha Country Club, along with Firethorn in Lincoln and Arbor Links in Nebraska City had the most holes nominated.)
In the second place, the “Great 18” course would end both of its 9’s with a par 3 hole—No. 11 at the Omaha Country Club (surely not the best hole at the OCC) and the back 9 with a par 3 at Woodland Hills near Eagle, Nebraska.
I don’t know of any great golf course that ends both 9’s with a par 3. In fact, no outstanding course which ends its 18 with a par 3 comes quickly to mind.
As to what the Nebraska Cornhuskers will bring to the Big 10 in terms of athletics, Nebraska media have not mentioned that UNL’s women’s athletic teams—scholarships awarded and expenses paid by football profits, of course—include bowling and rifle marksmanship. (Or should it be “markswomanship”?)
The Lady Huskers ought to be able to handle any Big 10 competition—if there is any—in those two unusual collegiate sports.
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