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Some Thoughts on National Championship Game

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Oregon (#2) vs Ohio State (#4) – first of all, as the parenthetical numbers showing end of season ranking indicate, polls are sometimes, if not often, wrong. A play-off for the national title is more fair, though clearly other teams could contend that had they been in the final game things might have been different (TCU, for one).

I’m not a sports writer. Since I don’t have a TV anymore I don’t watch sports that often. After working retail for so many years, anything played on a weekend was something I could never follow anyway. So, don’t expect an intelligent or even semi-intelligent treatment of the game here. I didn’t watch it, but I saw highlights this morning, thanks to the Internet. And by the way, yes, I worked last night. Even if I had a TV to watch the game, I wasn’t home.

As a kid born and raised in the Buckeye state, I was a huge OSU fan in the Woody Hayes era. I recall teams toward the end of the 60’s being highly ranked nationally and appearing in the Rose Bowl usually to lose to California teams. Yes, I watched the USC trouncing of OSU on TV on New Year’s Day. You know the game. It was the one featuring “The Juice” at running back for USC. As a Buckeye fan I was heartbroken. But those were the days when national championships depended mainly on poll rankings after the bowl games. Ohio State won a few of those but lost several as well.

Fast forward a few years for my college years – I decided to not attend Ohio State, or any other school in Ohio for that matter. Why? I had this crazy idea that I needed to broaden my world a bit, experiencing other places, meeting other people. As many of my friends and acquaintances from grade school and high school (I attended different school systems between the two) were attending Ohio colleges, I figured the best opportunity for me to walk away from my past and start out fresh was to go somewhere that the people didn’t know me. Initially, I picked Purdue. Even so, in my sophomore year, a couple of people from my high school showed up on campus as freshmen. I guess being a couple of hours drive from home wasn’t enough separation.

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It wasn’t like Purdue was a national football powerhouse. They were renown as a cradle of quarterbacks, though. During the years of my matriculation the Boilermakers were, at best, worthy of their unofficial nickname, the Spoilermakers. They upset Notre Dame’s hopes of repeating as National Champion, beating them at home – I game I attended, by the way. My friends and I kind of crashed the gates. As the Boilermakers jumped out to an unexpected 21 – 0 lead in the first quarter my friends and I got in to see the game by using return passes we acquired from those Irish fans who were leaving the game in disgust. Later in my college career I watched a game at home where the Buckeyes were ranked and supposed to handle Purdue easily, but didn’t.

My point, if there is one, is that polls and rankings are often wrong. College football is played with a lot of emotion and at times even the best team on paper doesn’t win on the grid iron. Also, as the football season progresses some teams get better while others get worse or stay the same. That why I’m in favor of a playoff system. However I don’t think four teams are enough. And I doubt eight teams would do for me either – except it would give more teams the opportunity to prove they are worthy on the field, the only place where it really counts.

My question is how many national championships in the past have been awarded to the wrong team. My guess is many, though certainly not all. If the playoffs give most fans a sense of fairness and opportunity, then by all means let’s do it. Supposedly Ohio State wouldn’t have been considered under the BCS system and doubtfully would have been in the top five under the previous system. Yet they won. Go figure.

Several years ago, if you told me Oregon would be playing in the title game I would have laughed, but they have come a long way in the past decade. I’m sure they deserved to be where they were last night. Although I live in Florida and probably should support FSU, I don’t think they deserved to be in the playoffs. They were there because somehow they escaped defeat for 13 games during the season. I’m not sure if TCU had been the team picked to go up against Oregon in the semi-finals at the Rose Bowl that Oregon would have advanced. No one knows the answer to that. And any playoff system devised will not answer lingering questions like that. Yet, a field of eight teams instead of four would have included TCU and perhaps Baylor, or some other team that might have surprised everyone, coming from a 7 or  8 seed to take home the trophy. Now that would shout fairness to a playoff system. Judging from college basketball’s playoffs upsets happen because polls are often wrong and they do not take in account the intangible factors of team spirit and performance peaking at the right time.

I’m happy for Ohio State this morning. I have a lot of friends and relatives who still live in the Buckeye state. My publicist lives there and she’s a huge fan. So had they lost I would be  commiserating with her this morning. Since they won I guess I have to listen to her gloating. Oh well, it’s not so bad. I used to be a fan, too.

One of the things I like about the way OSU won the game is that they overcame their own mistakes – four turnovers – preventing the Ducks from cashing in most of their opportunities. Also, they pretty much shut down Oregon’s vaunted scoring machine, though Marcus Mariota threw for 333 yards and was obviously in the game. It was just good to see that in an age where football seems to be mainly about a fast-scoring, passing game, Ezekiel Elliot dominated with the run. It was kind of an old school game plan for that reason, one I’m sure Woody Hayes would have take pride in.

As for getting away from one’s roots and seeing the world, I did a lot of that. So I reached my goal of seeing other parts of the world back when I was young enough to enjoy it and have it leave an impression. Certainly it’s not a bad thing for an aspiring writer. somewhere along the way I ended up at the University of Texas at Austin where, to my knowledge, no one from back in the Buckeye followed me. Later on, I joined the Air Force and served in California, Texas and the Republic of Korea.

Ironically, when I was halfway around the world – 13 time zones away from home, actually – I saw someone on base who looked familiar. I stopped him in passing and seeing that his last name on his uniform was Boggs, I asked, “Are you related to a guy named Randy?” “He’s my brother,” was the response. Yeah, Randy was in my class at high school, and his little brother served with me in Korea – small world.

#SmallWorld #OhioState #Oregon #NationalTitle #College #Rankings #Purdue #UniversityOfTexasAtAustin

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Jackson Paul Baer – Literary Suspense Writer And Father

Jackson and Kids

Jackson Paul Baer is an author of literary suspense whose most recent release, The Earth Bleeds Red launched late last October from Pandamoon publishing and is available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online book sites. Originally from Woodstock, Ga (north of Atlanta) he’s a huge Braves and Georgia Tech fan. However, he lived in Oregon for the over five years and only recently moved back to North Georgia. Over the past twelve years he had been all over the country. He loves the Trailblazers as well as Oregon State, where he will soon graduate with a B.A. in English in June 2014. He has been married for eleven years and has four beautiful children, ages 4-9.

He graduated from a Bible college in 2003; that’s where he met his wife. He spent seven years as a youth & teaching pastor, but has not been a pastor for the past three years now. “I’m not very religious though you will find spiritual themes within my writing due to it being such a large part of the majority of my life. My characters, much like myself, struggle with faith, doubt, and love as a part of their everyday lives.” The Earth Bleeds Red is by no means a Christian novel, however, with language you’d find in real life, as well as situations not suited for a church service.

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Jackson’s favorite author is Joyce Carol Oates and he also loves Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie, among many others. “Their novels have influenced me the most and I’d like to think my writing style resembles their amazing books. Them by Joyce Carol Oates is the best book I’ve ever read. If you’ve never read it, stop what you’re doing right now and read it. Seriously, do it now.”

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Jackson’s latest book is The Earth Bleeds Red:

Scott Miller has everything he’s ever hoped for. He has a successful marriage to Jessie, a stunningly beautiful, creative woman. His seventeen-year-old daughter, Ashley, is both gorgeous and intelligent, and has just been accepted to the University of Notre Dame, where Scott received his PhD. He has a comforting home in the woods, and a fulfilling career as a college professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He’s blissful, and at peace, until it all comes shattering down.

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Ashley is kidnapped. The scene of the abduction is horrific and bloody, and the police are convinced she couldn’t have survived. They accuse her boyfriend, Brandon, of Ashley’s murder. He declares his innocence, and claims that a masked man who entered his house and overwhelmed them both took Ashley. No one believes Brandon.

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Then the bodies of three other missing girls are discovered, all bearing the mark of a known serial killer the FBI has been hunting for years. Evidence mounts. As Special Agent James Duncan tracks the Hail Mary Killer, Scott and Jessie try to move on with their lives. But they can’t shake the feeling that Ashley may still be alive, and that the time for saving their only daughter is quickly running out.

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In the best tradition of literature and suspense, Jackson Paul Baer has weaved a heartfelt tale of one family’s struggle to survive after a despicable evil wrenches them apart.

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Jackson is current working on a literary psychological thriller titled The Lights Will Never Fade.

He gave me the chance to ask a few questions and learn more about his fascinating life and his writing:

Q: How much research do you do before starting a novel? Does the research help develop the plot or do you use it for all background details?

A: I researched a lot for The Earth Bleeds Red. I went and took pictures in the city of Corvallis, or that I pictured as I was writing the book. I wanted my writing to accurately reflect the city. I also had to do a good deal of research with regards to police procedure, crime scenes, what happens to a person after death etc… With my write-in-progress, I emailed people who live in the town I set the book in to verify the types of trees, flowers, close rivers, and other things like that.

River near Corvallis

Q: Creative people tend to be spontaneous. In particular, most people think that writers are at least a little crazy. Tell us the most unusual thing you have done in your real life that doesn’t directly relate to writing.

A: I’m a fairly spontaneous person. I travel a lot, playing cards, and have been known to take a road trip on a whim. I don’t do this as much anymore as I’ve gotten older and my kids have gotten bigger, but I’ve driven ten hours before, only an hour or so after deciding to go.

Q: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

A: The story line in “Them,” by Joyce Carol Oates has to be one of the biggest influences on me as a writer. The characters were so flawed and imperfect. I actually heard her speak at Oregon State and after that, I went out and bought that novel. I read it and fell in love with her writing.

Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

A: I’ve actually written a handful of songs and even recorded four or five of them several years back. It was more for fun than trying to make a career out of it, but I do enjoy music. I play guitar and bass and songwriting is really where I got my start in writing.

Q: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

A: I usually take a break and read. I think that any good writer is an avid reader, as time allows. With work, school, and a family, my time for reading has been limited. I am almost done with school and will be able to devote regular time to reading and writing again. I miss them dearly.

 

Jackson Family

Q: There is usually someone in a writer’s past that is to credit or to blame. In your life, who was that, when and what happened?

A: I had a professor at Oregon State who spoke to me. He was real and down to earth. To be honest, it started at the community college I went to prior, but this professor’s class was the first actual writing class that I took. I began to write short stories for the class and realized how much I loved creating this world that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

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Check out Jackson Paul Baer online at:

http://jacksonpaulbaer.com

www.facebook.com/JacksonPaulBaer

https://twitter.com/JacksonPaulBaer

And Jackson’s Previous writing:

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