Sunday, May 25, 2008

Google surveys the recruits: Raymond Cotton

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, which is awesome in that a) veterans b) holiday c) seriously, veterans.

The only thing about it that might be less than awesome is that it's the deadest possible period of the college football year. The season is still nearly three agonizing months away; Signing Day is rapidly fading into the rearview mirror; spring ball is done and dusted. What's a college football blogger who's looking to swing back into the, uh, swing of things to do?

Well, in this case, finally dip a toe into the slimy, overheated pool that is recruiting. There's never been too much recruiting talk here at the JCCW, since I tend to take the glass-half-empty-if-this-even-is-a-glass approach--a given commit can jump through each of the various academic, good-behavior, and "On second thought, that football team and/or institution of higher learning looks like the one for me" hoops to arrive on campus, and it's still even money whether he'll ever play a meaningful down or not. The view here is that recruiting is mostly about putting as many bullets in the chamber as possible; the macro-level developments I can get excited about, yessir, but at the micro-level of individual commitments, I'm still mostly Eh, Whatever--particularly since Tuberville's staff seems to have such a relatively high success rate with its "flyers." I often feel more than a bit ridiculous for having invested so much in the performances of college kids playing an essentially meaningless game, so investing the slightest dollop of time and mental energy into learning about 17-year-olds who may never even play for my meaningless-game team strikes me as a perfectly good candidate for an entry in the DSM-IV.

But considering that 1. it's May. 2. as an Auburn Blogger, I should theoretically be as informed as possible 3. I would think there would be some demand on the part of some readers for someone to do the work of plugging in a given recruit's name into Google and synthesizing the tidbits of information that trickle out ... that's what the JCCW is going to do. Even if I have to shower afterwards.

In fact, there's the possibility that I'll eventually make my way through the entire class. But today, we're starting with ...

Raymond Cotton

Cotton is a 6-4, 215-pound quarterback who accounted for more than 2,100 total yards and 25 TD's in leading Mobile's Faith Academy to the AISA AAA championship game in 2007. He'll spend his senior season at Meade High School in Fort Meade, Maryland, after his father, an officer in the Coast Guard, was transferred there. He creates fun unintentional double-meanings in headlines by being both a Mobile quarterback and a mobile quarterback.

Recruitnik hoo-ha:: Rivals doesn't have a rating as of now, but Scout gives him four stars and ranks him as the #24 QB in the class--the last four-star, one spot ahead of some kid Tedford's signed to Cal, if you're the sort to enjoy such comparisons. ESPN rates him a 77, which I the recruiting n00b think means "good, not elite." They call him a "fantastic-looking prospect on the hoof," with all the physical tools "mobile 6-4, 215 QB" implies, and add he could be an especially snug fit in the Spread Eagle. But they also say that mechanics-wise, he could use more polish, in words somewhat stronger than "he could use more polish." Cotton also had offers from Kentucky, Mississippi St., Stanford (?), and Troy, but his potential in the spread is likely best exemplified by the fact that Purdue had offered as well.

Links of potential interest: The article out of Annapolis I linked above humorously overstates Cotton's accomplishments a bit, since playing in AISA AAA is not playing in a mythical "Alabama state tournament" in football or an equally mythical "Alabama state track championship" in, uh, track. Still, those third-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dash don't exactly mean he's slow; he ran 11.47 in the 100 and 23.45 in the 200.

For a glimpse of Cotton's demeanor and an exhibition of strength involving the first use of the word "Power Ball" I've ever heard outside of the lottery or American Gladiators, you can check out this video. Apparently, he throws the Power Ball real far. So he's got that going for him.

The recap of Faith's 35-27 loss to Bessemer Academy in the AAA title game unfortunately doesn't do much to dispel the "incredible athlete, could be a better overall quarterback" scouting report. Cotton pulled off a 45-yard run and a TD sneak, but completed just 2 of his first 10 and finished 6-14 for 70 yards with a pick.

What conclusions, if any, we might draw: If Cotton has enough potential to draw an offer from a school that's produced two consecutive record-breaking, NFL quarterbacks and is about to graduate its third (however overrated he might be), yeah, I think he's got enough potential for Auburn, too. Also: he's a 6-4, 215-pound fast guy. Those guys tend to be useful.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'

Auburn's head football coach, as I'm sure virtually every reader of this blog is aware, is currently enjoying a six-day tour visiting the members of our Armed Forces in the Middle East.

There are fewer than 100 days until the start of the 2008 season. 2009 recruiting is in full swing. Why is our head football coach spending a week halfway around the world?

Partly to honor his father. Partly because, as he tells Scarbinsky, he's "gotta get away from it," meaning the coaching grind. Mostly because, I think, they asked and Tubby--for all the less-than-nice things I have occasionally said about him--is generally, as they say, Good People. All of these reasons kick ass.

I doubt very much that every Division 1 head football coach would have accepted the offer. "I think a few people said no," Tubby told Scarbinsky, and given the timing and length of commitment to the tour, that doesn't surprise me. Taking the pressures of coaching at this level into consideration, I can't say I blame them too terribly much.

But: for obvious reasons it remains an unapologetic point of pride for me that Auburn's head football coach did say Yes. For equally obvious reasons--namely, that I openly despise the man--I have to wonder: would our state's resident Coachbot, the sort of man who has come to embody the polar opposite of "getting away from it," have said the same?

It's quite possible, maybe even likely, he would have. It's not like Saban doesn't have a charitable background. It's not as if he hasn't been willing to make appearances for good causes and been gregarious and engaging in doing so. Scarbinsky suggests Tubby's "people said no" quote may have been in jest and besides, it's not like we have any idea who got asked and who didn't. This (as far as Google can tell me) is the first year of the program, so maybe in 2008 it's Auburn's guy, in 2009's it's 'Bama's--and if Saban does go over next year, this blog will be more than happy to give him his due credit.

However: boil down Tubby's and Saban's respective offseasons into a single lingering image, and Tubby's will very likely be the one sent back from Kuwait; Saban's will be yet another reporter* bullied from behind a press conference podium. Forgive me my orange-and-blue-tinted glasses, but once again I am glad we have our coach, and they have theirs.


*Admittedly, the barely-disguised glee said reporter takes in needling Saban is less than professional. I can't blame King Crimson for disliking the guy. But is the high road still so difficult to take? Is asking Saban to show the same professionalism towards the reporters he dislikes as well as the ones he likes (or comes closest to liking, I should say) really asking too much?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Works, what the Daddy tomato said to the baby tomato-style


APRil showers. For all the endless LOLlygagging out there about Auburn football's academics--hyuck hyuck they take sociology classes hyuck hyuck hyuck they're the only ones hyuck--the NCAA's APR hammer has not only passed the Tigers by for another year, it wasn't even close. The team's 953 was well above the 925 scholarship ax-point and the fourth-best score in the SEC, behind Georgia, Florida, and Vandy and three spots ahead of ... let me see ... just want to double-check ... I mean, I'm just curious, that's all ... hmm, seems to be the Tide.

Actually, I think what might be most impressive about that is that it was he fourth-best score at AU, behind only golf and the two cross country teams. (Let's also give it up for the golf team. I think if there's any group of athletes we'd expect to struggle academically after their hardscrabble upbringing on the mean and ruthless links of the Robby-J,it's the golfers. How many kids like them do we lose every day to the temptations of the beverage cart?)

No, the APR isn't perfect but it's still a decent rough guide to how well a given program is keeping its kids in school and keeping their grades above the waterline. Auburn football is keeping its kids in school. It's keeping their grades above the waterline. I'm not suggesting we throw a party over it, but a nice round of applause is probably in order--particularly when, loopholes and all, a couple of what might be considered Auburn's peer institutions (Kansas and Washington St., the latter from a conference you may remember as the one that enjoys shoving its alleged academic superiority in the rest of the country's face) haven't been able to manage even that.

(As a quick aside: I'm with the Senator/Brian/SMQ when it comes to the APR and its potential weed-whacking of the bottom rung of DI. DI college football, hours-wise, is a full-time job. Like almost anyone with ties to Birmingham I like seeing UAB do well, but if they can't give their football players the help they need to both do their "job" and earn their degree, they need to get out of the business.)

As for Auburn hoops, since APR grades out a four-year period and the most recent year reported is still just '05-'06, that unsightly 905 is still mostly the result of Cliff Ellis's recruits fleeing the program like the proverbial light-sensitive cockroaches Ellis got dumped. I wouldn't blame Jeff Lebo for that. Well, mostly.

Because of course, there are some things you probably can blame Lebo for. Jay Coulter raised an issue worth discussing recently: clearly, the "success" "enjoyed" by Auburn "baseball" and men's "basketball" the last several years would have Jay Jacobs' head on a pike somewhere if repeated on the football field. So should Jacobs really show the same kind of lenience towards Lebo and Slater he never would towards Tubby? Why is the kind of floundering we've seen the past several seasons on the hardwood and the diamond tacitly accepted when it's unforgivable on the football field?

And wellllllll ... in Lebo's case, I think it's fair to make a brief, meek case for "extenuating circumstances." When you're dealing with a sport in which only five of your guys take the court at a time and only nine or ten at the most are going to play at all, losing several of them to flukish injuries (as Lebo did in '07-'08) is going to be a tough row to hoe for any still-wobbly program. I'm OK with Lebo getting a mulligan on last season given that the program had shown progress--however snail-paced--his previous three seasons.

That said: that's his last one. The counter to the injury-pity argument is that Lebo's had four years to build the kind of program that could withstand those injuries without sinking to the bottom of a division so putrid in '07-'08 I could smell it from Ann Arbor. Like Jay, I'm not willing to give Lebo the benefit of the "just wait until the new building opens!" kind of doubt; Mississippi St. was the second-best team in the SEC this season and I refuse to believe it's any easier to build a team in Starkville than it is on the Plains, gym quality be damned. Five years is enough. If Lebo doesn't get it done in '08-'09--"it" meaning a finish in the top half of the division and at the very least consideration as an NCAA Tournament team--it's time to move on.

As for Slater, well, there goes that debate. Methinks that Jacobs' willingness to give Slater the gentle -yet-firm push out the door means Lebo's leash has run pretty short as well.

UPDATE: OK, so I wrote that last bit Sunday night and have been battling internet issues to get it posted ever since, so that's why it doesn't take into account that the alleged jewel of Lebo's 2007 recruiting class just walked out on him after one sea-- ... actually, you can't even call Sylla's time with Auburn hoops a "season" can you? Yeah, I'm still willing to give Lebo his last-ditch effort, but it's awful hard to find reasons at this point it'll work out.

Oh yeah, football, right, right. So, there was this A-Day thing you might have heard about. Part of me feels irresponsible that, as an Auburn Blogger, I haven't said anything 'til now about the only thing resembling Auburn football between January and August, despite the wedding and the basketball and the whatnot. Part of me also feels like, damn, it's not like without the aid of television (or, obviously, being there) I was going to improve on what friend-o'-the-blog Acid Reign put together over at Track 'Em Tigers, so maybe no harm, no foul this time. (There will be coverage next year, I swear by my copy of this year's Phil Steele.)

Besides, how many definitive statements can be made on the basis of spring ball? (Line of the spring from TWER: "Franklin’s candor has moved beyond refreshing to almost exhilarating and his straightforward style is especially on when answering questions concerning the quarterback situation, which reporters seem eager to put to bed. Franklin just keeps feeding it candy.")

What I would want to know is: did Franklin and Rhoads have the look of guys who know what they're doing? Do we have enough guys who can actually catch a pass to run the offense Franklin wants? Not that I would ever expect him to be, but Burns doesn't look so hopelessly lost in the passing game we're going to see the same third-grade "Burns = Run, Todd = Pass" offense again this fall, does he? (Not that that offense wasn't hella effective against Clemson, but long-term ... ) And did anyone turn their various cruciate ligaments into spaghetti?

With the answers on Acid Reign's good authority being Yes, Looks That Way, No, and No, I'm ready to go. When even OTS at RBR acknowledges Auburn had a good spring, it's probably safe to call it a good spring. (Also worth clicking: OTS's breakdown of the SEC's noncon schedules. I hope LSU's appropriately ashamed--just because we want them to beat Big 10 teams doesn't mean we want them to schedule like them.)

No. Sorry. (Please read that in the style Alex Trebek would when responding to a wrong question on Jeopardy!. It's more gentlemanly that way.) I would consider myself a reasonably staunch playoff advocate--2004 just confirmed what I'd long suspected, that 11 or 12 games will never reliably whittle down 100-some-odd teams to exactly two qualified national title game participants--but I can acknowledge that there are some compelling arguments against a playoff and that Kyle King has put forth many of these before. Rather than compile shortcuts to said arguments myself, Kyle has already done that recently in this response to Garnet and Black Attack's pro-playoff platform. (That response has since continued and spawned a generous and healthy comment thread I would recommend.) I can buy Kyle's argument here that the BCS has yet to produce an out-and-out fraudulent champion, even though my gut says this comes awfully close to tautology*; part of the reason these champions are legit is because they received the opportunity to end their season against other top-of-the-polls opponents as opposed to, I don't know, Virginia Tech. Still, OK, I can deal.

But this:

"[T]he Southern California squad that pulverized previously unbeaten Oklahoma in a game that wasn’t even as close as the 55-19 score indicated wouldn’t have lost to Auburn, even though the Tigers likely would have given U.S.C. a better game."

is ... absolutely right! After all, even if Auburn was good, it's not like Pete Carroll and his gold doubloon-crapping Trojans would ever be the sort of team that might suffer an upset. Not even on the road ...

... and definitely not with a national title shot on the line ...

... and if you're some bottom-rung program like Stanford, you'd best not even show up ...

... so yeah, even though the SEC is now 4-0 in BCS title games with an average margin of victory of 654 points, I still think it's safe to assume the greatest SEC team of the BCS era wouldn't have really had a chance against those guys.

Look, kidding aside, even I can agree that if the 2004 Tigers had gotten their date with the Trojans, a USC win was the likely outcome. But I would think last season and its endless carousel of Appalachian St.'s and Kentucky's and Pittsburgh's would have put to bed forever the idea that a "likely" win was even distantly related to an actual win. Discussing who would have won a USC-Auburn title tilt might be fun, but it has the same practical value as discussing what would have happened if, like, Dude, you went back in time and gave Robert E. Lee the secret of how to make an army of clone soldiers out of corn husks and tobacco.

But that doesn't keep Kyle from, essentially, arguing that it's OK to use our perpetually woebegone assumptions about who-wins-what-matchup to measure and retroactively justify the injustice inflicted by the BCS. Yes, the BCS was wrong about Auburn, Kyle argues, but not that wrong. Kyle and all anti-playoff advocates have my sympathies for their efforts in preserving our sport's tradition, regular-season punch, etc., but there's a point at which the injustice outweighs the tradition and all that other stuff. And that point is when your team has gone 13-0 and virtually no one outside of its own fanbase truly gives a crap that it won't get its fair shot, because, oh, it wouldn't have won anyway.

At that point, trust me, the BCS is very much that wrong.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

NCAA Posterity: Same coin, two sides

As I said: I know no one cares at this point, if they cared ever. But when the Internet archaeologists from the year 4031 find the JCCW, I don't want them to think I didn't have anything to say on this year's NCAAs. Next post is 100% Auburn content, guaranteed.

Era of the Supermids

For the first 14 years of the modern NCAA Tournament (i.e. 1985-1998), Cinderella was pretty good in the first round, relatively speaking: 3's fell with regularity, 12's took home at least one victory every single year save '88, etc. They could have been better in the second round, maybe, but 13 double-digit-seeded mid-majors made the Sweet 16 in that period of time--almost one a year.

But Round 3 was a wasteland. Precisely one of those 13 teams pulled the upset and found their way into the Elite 8--the justifiably legendary Bo Kimble-led Loyola-Marymount team that (now here is something that should be remembered more often) blitzed defending champion Michigan 145-115 in the second round before surviving Wimp Sanderson's slowdown tactics in the Sweet 16. (A victory that says something as well. As an aside, that team might have been Wimp's best: Robert Horry, Latrell Sprewell, an SEC tournament championship, and a dreadful shafting as the seventh seed out West. They crushed the 2-seed, Arizona, by 22.) Still, 1-for-13-- a winning percentage of 7.6%.

Then in 1999, things changed. Gonzaga took down Florida on Casey Calvary's tip-in to become just the second Cinderella to survive the Sweet 16. (Navy also made the Round of 8 in 1986, but did so as a 7 seed, had only to beat 14-seed Cleveland St. in the third round, and had David Freaking Robinson manning the middle. They weren't Cinderella.) Since then, we've had three more: Trevor Huffman and Antonio Gates' Kent. St. team survived Ok. St., Alabama, and then Pitt in 2002; George Mason (duh) toppled Michigan St. and UNC before winning the all-mid clash against Wichita St. in 2006; and just a few short weeks ago now, Stephen Curry strapped Davidson to his back and marched them past Georgetown and Wisconsin, improving Cindy's record in Sweet 16 matchups since 1999 to 4-14, or 29 percent.

In other words, we have entered the era of the Supermid. For 14 years, Cinderella couldn't manage to win even one Sweet 16 game in 10; for the last 10, they've won nearly one in three. From one Cindy in the Elite 8 in those first 14 years, we've had two in the last three.

Why? Hell if I know. All four of these teams essentially won in different ways--the Zags with the 3-point gunning of Richie Frahm and Matt Santangelo, Kent with their MAC-honed ruggedness, Mason with their half-court precision, Davidson with Curry's all-encompassing brilliance. Faced with this same question I suspect John Q. Columnist would jerk his knee, scream Parity! and blither about more talent being available in The Game Today, but the unprecedented levels of chalk in the bracket the past two years suggests the opposite. High-seed power conference teams are better than they've ever been at seeing off third-round challenges from their power-conference brethren (or highly-seeded mids like SIU '07 or various late-era Gonzaga squads); but for whatever reason, they've gotten much worse at doing the same to Cinderellas.

It should also be noted that none of these Supermids made their runs via a "collapsed bracket" fluke. All four did so by beating three straight higher seeds, at least two of which hailed from power conferences. They were--are--legit.

And I think it's highly possible Davidson was, for lack of a better word, the legitest of the four. Consider that they first beat a Gonzaga team (still) laden with NBA prospects playing likely just about as well as they could play. The Wildcats then overturned a 17-point second-half deficit against the Big East's regular season champion, a team whose defense and slow tempo should have made them impregnable--and did so in no more than 12 or 13 minutes. And then they faced the Big 10's double-champion, a Wisconsin team that 100-percent deserved a second seed and had the efficiency margin of a 1-seed.

The result was a bona fide woodshed beating even George Mason never matched, a delirious runaway train of a middle finger extended to any one who said in the weeks approaching Selection Sunday the Wildcats might not deserve a bid. I'm not usually one for savoring a blowout, but in this case I had to make an exception; it wasn't just that Davidson won, it's that they flat flattened the Badgers.

They scored at will. They rebounded over guys a half-foot taller. They made them look slow and silly and hopelessly--um--Big 10. They toyed with Wisconsin--for what was Curry's iconic pump fake-flyby-and-swish three that Davidson fans are going to see in their dreams 50 years from now if not Team A playing cat to Team B's point-and-laugh mouse?

Me, I loved that second half every bit as much as I did Mason's shock-the-world moment against UConn two years previous. Because by that time, it was already painfully obvious that chalk was ruling the bracket again; that at least three if not all four 1-seeds were going to the Final Four; that the chaos we've depended on the NCAAs to provide is at its all-time lowest ebb; that it may never come back.

But all is not lost. We will still have Jason Richards channeling Steve Nash, still have Andrew Lovedale and Boris Meno out-rebounding NBA studs, still have Curry firing away with the kind of stroke J.J. Redick only dreams of.

Even in this period of money and Goliath and predictability, Davidson reminded us, we will still have Supermids and we will, in fact, even have them more often. Someone will still carry the flag. Always.

The Doomsday Scenario

That was the name Ken Pomeroy coined for the potential ascension of all four 1-seeds to the Final Four, which as most sea urchins, pine trees, and anaroebic bacteria living on asteroids circling Jupiter could have told you, had never happened before this year.

I like the term for a few reasons. First, I appreciate that Pomeroy agrees with me that this lethal a level of chalk is, Verily, A Portent That The End Times Hath Descended Upon Us All, like statues weeping blood or horses breaking out of their stalls or ESPN devoting SportsCenter exclusively to the coverage of actual sports. After so many years spent believing that "All four 1-seeds in the Final Four will never happen" with the fervor of your neighborhood cult's most recent convert (true story, I actually spent a summer passing out pamphlets at the airport a few years back that said "All four 1-seeds in the Final Four will never happen") seeing it come to pass doesn't seem so far removed from Apocalypse.

Second, the minute UCLA and Memphis survived their second-round assassination attempts from Texas A&M and Mississippi St., it seemed like you could pretty much set up a countdown clock 'til the (dooms)day arrived--with UCLA's region gutted, UNC just steamrolling people, no one remotely matching up with Memphis, and Kansas facing back-to-back double-digit seeds, there wasn't a whole lot of "tension" or "doubt" or "drama" in those Regionals, was there? (As an aside, I hope Texas, Xavier, and Louisville were appropriately shamed that the only Elite 8 opponent who put up a halfway serious fight was the 10th-seeded interloper from the SoCon.)

But most importantly, it works as the Doomsday Scenario because in a sense, I do think--provided there's no change in the laughably misguided NBA age limit or scholarship rules--this is the end of the 64-team NCAA Tournament giving us the same level of delirium and chaos as it's historically given us. 2007 was chalkier than antacid aftertaste, but it was just one year. Now it's two. Bleah. The presence of Supermids, hope springing eternal, sheer bloody-minded love of the sport, etc. mean I'll still be watching just as closely next year and the one after and the one after. I'm just not expecting things to be much different than they were these last two years.

I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. After all, again, in the overwhelming majority of cases it's not mids these 1 seeds are trampling in their Sweet 16/Elite 8 rush to the semis--it's their power-conference siblings. And though 2007 was less than thrilling, there was a reasonable amount of chaos in this year's first two rounds. Two 13 seeds won. Two 12's won. Two Cinderellas crashed the Sweet 16. And we were one Belmont shot, one Butler stop, one call in Texas A&M's favor from even more high-seed turnover. I feel like I should maybe quit all this complainin' and whinin' and embrace the Davidsons and Sienas and San Diegos we've got. Why should I care so much if 3-seed Louisville beats 1-seed North Carolina when I'd be rooting just as hard the other direction if the seeds were reversed? If UNC was battling, say, Southern Illinois, there's a perfectly good good-and-evil-based reason. Otherwise, it seems like it's just silly little numbers attached to the teams when you print the bracket out, right?

Maybe it should be, but it's not. Some of that, I can admit, is pure and undiluted snobbery; I've looked down my nose at the Digger Phelpses and Andy Katzes and That One Guy In Your Pool's of the world for years for their gutlessness and sheep-like tendencies in picking all four 1-seeds to make the Final Four, and I despise the idea of them finally being able to say they were right and the folks out on the limbs were wrong. Damn them damn them damn them.

But a large chunk of it is a straight-up need for unpredictability no matter its agent, mid-major or not. I get enough predictability everywhere else; I know what I'm having for lunch when I get up in the morning, I know I'm going to have X and Y done for work by the end of the week but not before then, I know I'm going to have to feed the cat when I get home from the office. I know those things will happen. Not to put too fine a point on it ("Way too late," you say, and I hear you), but one of the great big giant reasons I watch any sport is because there, I don't know what's going to happen.

So when it gets to the point that I know those teams with the 1 or maybe the 2 attached to their name are off to the Final Four before the first NCAA ball even tips, something's very, very lacking.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back shortly

I'd like to think there's a few things that long-time readers of the JCCW (all seven of them) can count on this blog to provide, things you might say the JCCW """brand""" (because one set of sarcasm-indicating quotation marks isn't enough in this particular case) is "known" and "recognized" for after its two-plus years of existence. Like, say, witty-and-honest-but-far-from-libelous assessments of Auburn's performances. Wild mood swings as regards to the figure of Tommy Tuberville. Horrible puns. Laughably wrong NCAA Tournament bracket guesses.

And, of course, mysterious, unexplained weeks-long absences like the one the JCCW has just offered up since late March.

Look, I can be honest about this: some of those absences in the past have basically been the product of what most light bulbs would refer to as "burnout," in which an unfortunate confluence of Real Life and several weeks of serious blogging that would simply result in lighter posting on a more responsible blog has, here, resulted in the kind of silence in which you could give birth to a Scientologist's baby.

This time, though:

That's a view of the harbor outside Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala, from the deck of a wondrous giant boat laden with steak and overpriced alcohol. I spent a week on said boat with this blog's favorite recurring guest star, the Mrs. JCCW, in mutual celebration of a procedure vaguely alluded to previously in which her "Soon-to-Be" was removed.

So: as you might imagine, said procedure, said celebration, and the time Real Life demanded first in preparation for the weeks spent, uh, proceeding and celebrating and then in making up for those weeks upon returning have bumped blogging pretty much to the bottom of the to-do list.

Forgive me for treading so relatively close to LiveJournal territory here, but the point is that just this once, it's not laziness or a sudden unyielding addiction to "Lost" on DVD. (Though I did go through that this spring. Been clean now for six weeks.)

And to prove it, the JCCW will be back in the swing of things starting ... now. The next few days we'll have a post with a few post-NCAA Tournament thoughts that no one in the world would care about but that I want for posterity, then it's full-on Auburn mode for the summer.

And while it doesn't look like I'm going to have the full-scale relaunch I'd kinda hoped for a few months back, the site's definitely going to get spruced up bit-by-bit and will likely look very different by the time ... well, by the next time I disappear for a month.

Stay tuned. It'll be worth it.