A quick look ahead to SC

Real Clear Politics has Huckabee and Obama with substantial leads.

More numbers out of the Palmetto State to chew on from SurveyUSA (Jan 4-6; 579 Dem LV, MoE +/- 4.2%; 658 GOP LV, MoE +/- 3.9%). On the Democratic side, what was a 2-point Clinton lead three weeks ago is now a 20-point Obama blowout:

Democrats
Obama 50 (+11 vs. last poll Dec 17-18)
Clinton 30 (-11)
Edwards 16 (-1)

Obama holds an 11.0-point lead in the RCP Average for South Carolina

On the Republican side, Huckabee appears to have gotten a decent pop, Romney and McCain have held their own, while Thompson and Giuliani slipped slightly:

Republicans
Huckabee 36 (+8 vs. last poll Dec 17-18)
Romney 19 (+1)
McCain 17 (+1)
Thompson 11 (-4)
Giuliani 9 (-3)
Paul 5

Huckabee holds an 8.3-point lead in the RCP Average for South Carolina

The Obama lead over Hillary is just, just, daaaaaaaang.

It might explain the tears on the campaign trail today. What is more stunning is the fact that these numbers don’t include the gaffe that Hillary made regarding giving the necessary props to Dr. MLK for the civil rights movement.

She is in big trouble. Cash flow may become a problem, and reports that staffers are circulating their resumes is a sign that the Democrats are poised to do the most patriotic thing they’ve done in decades — end the Clinton era.

Update:  The Big Dog thinks it may happen sooner rather than later.

Run-n-shoot Ponies

June Jones set to take over at SMU…

June Jones is giving up the paradise of Hawaii for the daunting task of trying to restore SMU to football respectability.

Jones, who coached Hawaii to an unbeaten regular season, resisted an emotional plea from Warriors fans as well as the governor and decided Monday to return to the mainland to guide a team that finished 1-11.

He agreed to a 5-year deal with SMU, which will pay him about $2 million a year, agent Leigh Steinberg told The Associated Press.

“He slept on it, finally came to peace and arrived at a decision,” Steinberg said. “I think he’s exhilarated by the challenge, by the environment.”

Steinberg expected SMU to hold an afternoon news conference to introduce their new coach. SMU officials did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Interesting.  It must have been hard to leave the great set-up in Hawaii, but 2 million a year for five years ain’t too shabby.  Read more from Jim Vertuno. 

LSU – Ohio State: Redemption and validation

By RALPH D. RUSSO

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Redemption and validation.

sec.jpgTop-ranked Ohio State enters the BCS national championship game against LSU searching for redemption, hoping to bury the memories of an embarrassing loss in last year’s title game.

“As much as you try to forget about it, there’s no way of forgetting about it,” Ohio State fullback Dionte Johnson said. “I can close my eyes and go through that game like I’m still there.”

The second-ranked Tigers come into Monday night’s showdown at the Superdome looking for validation, trying to prove they were indeed the team most deserving of a chance to play the Buckeyes for the title.

“I really feel it was our destiny to be here,” LSU receiver Early Doucet said. “For things to go the way they went – us losing to Arkansas, Pittsburgh beating West Virginia and Oklahoma beating Missouri – it all fell into place the way it did and I just think it was meant to be.”

That’s a good theory. How else to explain how two teams that lost their second-to-last games are playing for the national championship?

The winner will become the first school to win two BCS titles since the Bowl Championship Series began in 1998. The Buckeyes won it in 2002, then lost 41-14 to Florida as a prohibitive favorite in last year’s championship game.

LSU won the BCS title in 2003, beating Oklahoma right here in New Orleans, the Tigers’ home 90 miles south of Baton Rouge.

bigten.jpgOhio State (11-1), the Big Ten champions, and LSU (11-2), champs of the Southeastern Conference, have been two of the nation’s elite programs over the past six seasons; the Buckeyes have won 66 games and the Tigers 63.

Yet, there’s been little talk about dynasties or a place in history going into this championship game.

The winner will get a crystal football and the title of BCS national champion, but the debate over which team is truly the best in the country will continue, especially by fans of Southern California and Georgia.

There’s even been speculation about voters in The Associated Press poll choosing one of those other teams as No. 1 after the Buckeyes and Tigers are through. That, however, seems unlikely.

For Ohio State, getting to this point was a surprise on two levels. The Buckeyes started the season ranked 11th, not even considered the best team in the Big Ten.

“We knew we had to step up because we lost so much star power,” said Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman, who passed for 2,171 yards and 23 touchdowns as Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith’s replacement.

Led by a stingy defense and a steady offense, powered by bullish running back Chris “Beanie” Wells, the Buckeyes rose to No. 1.

Then Ohio State lost 28-21 to Illinois in November and appeared to be out of the national title race. A string of upsets and surprising results put the Buckeyes back on top, though the skeptics – and there are still plenty – also returned.

None of Ohio State’s opponents were ranked in the top 20 when the Buckeyes played them this season. After last year’s sad showing against the Gators, Ohio State and the Big Ten took a bashing. The Buckeyes were labeled too slow to keep up with the sleek SEC teams.

“I’m not buying that,” Doucet said.

Still, the record does show Ohio State is 0-8 in bowl games against SEC teams.

The Buckeyes say they’ve learned from last year’s debacle. That they’re more focused. They arrived in New Orleans less than a week before the game and have mostly hunkered down in their hotel instead of bopping around Bourbon Street.

“Last year players were enjoying themselves a little too much,” All-America linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

Laurinaitis, defensive end Vernon Gholston and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins anchor the nation’s No. 1 defense, which yields only 11 points and 225 yards per game.

“I watched a lot of film on them and they are a big, fast and tough defense and they can really play well together,” LSU quarterback Matt Flynn said.

When they started the season ranked No. 2, Flynn and the Tigers were squarely among the favorites to reach this game .

How LSU got here, though, was anything but routine. The Tigers are the first team with two losses to play in the BCS title game.

“This team went through some highs and lows and a lot of drama,” LSU coach Les Miles said.

Miles was a leading man in the LSU’s dramatic season, taking some gutsy chances on the field and being publicly courted by Michigan off it.

LSU twice lost when it was ranked No. 1, both times in triple overtime. When the Tigers dropped their second game at home against Arkansas, a shot at the national title seemed lost.

One last wild weekend in an unpredictable college football season gave the Tigers a third chance to be No. 1.

The Tigers say they’re healthier than they’ve been in months. The defense, which was one of the best in the country early in the season, wasn’t as dominant down the stretch when All-America tackle Glenn Dorsey was hampered by knee and tailbone injuries. Flynn missed two games, including the SEC championship, with ankle and shoulder injuries. A groin injury took Doucet out of five games.

With Flynn back at full strength, LSU expects to go back to the two-quarterback system – with Ryan Perrilloux occasionally relieving the starter – that helped the Tigers average 39 points per game.

A potent offense against a dominant defense. Two storied programs meeting for the first time in 20 years.

For all the BCS championship game has to offer, it still almost sounded as if Miles was reminding everyone at his final news conference Sunday that the winner will be crowned national champion.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to end the college season than 1 playing 2 for the right to be 1,” he said.

Redemption or validation will be nice, too.

Thanks, Ralph. Nice piece. OK sports fans. Riddle me this………..

Q: What’s the difference between an Ohio State cheerleader and a catfish?

A: One of them stinks and has whiskers………….and the other one is a fish.

Parrumpah

GOOOOOOO TIGERS!

Our strongest nominee?

Bill Kristol writing in the NY Times (yeah, I know how odd that looks), with his take on last night’s GOP forum…

…the most interesting moment in Saturday night’s Republican debate at St. Anselm College was when the candidates were asked what arguments they would make if they found themselves running against Obama in the general election.

The best answer came, not surprisingly, from the best Republican campaigner so far — Mike Huckabee. He began by calmly mentioning his and Obama’s contrasting views on issues from guns to life to same-sex marriage. This served to remind Republicans that these contrasts have been central to G.O.P. success over the last quarter-century, and to suggest that Huckabee could credibly and comfortably make the socially conservative case in an electorally advantageous way.

Huckabee went on to pay tribute to Obama for his ability “to touch at the core of something Americans want” in seeming to move beyond partisanship. And, he added, Senator Obama is “a likable person who has excited people about wanting to vote who have not voted in the past.” Huckabee was of course aware that in praising Obama he was recommending himself.

I was watching the debate at the home of a savvy, moderately conservative New Hampshire Republican. It was at this moment that he turned to me and said: “You know, I’ve been a huge skeptic about Huckabee. I’m still not voting for him Tuesday. But I’ve got to say — I like him. And I wonder — could he be our strongest nominee?”

He could be. After the last two elections, featuring the well-born George Bush and Al Gore and John Kerry, Americans — even Republicans! — are ready for a likable regular guy. Huckabee seems to be that. He came up from modest origins. He served as governor of Arkansas for more than a decade. He fought a successful battle against being overweight. These may not be utterly compelling qualifications for the presidency. I’m certainly not ready to sign up.

Still, as the conservative writer Michelle Malkin put it, “For the work-hard-to-get-ahead strivers who represent the heart and soul of the G.O.P., there are obvious, powerful points of identification.” And they speak to younger voters who are not yet committed to the G.O.P. In Iowa, Huckabee did something like what Obama did on the Democratic side, albeit on a smaller scale. He drew new voters to the caucuses. And he defeated Mitt Romney by almost two to one, and John McCain by better than four to one, among voters under 45.

I admit that I had not seen that comment by Ms. Malkin. In fact, as a Huckabee supporter, it has become almost painful, and frustrating to surf over to most any of the A-list blogs lately. HDS has infected them to the point that I would rather not even read their pages anymore. Their threats to sit out the election, or even support the donk candidate is not only not divisive, but to me, infuriating. If Huck is the straw that breaks it for them, then their opinions are based less on fact, and more on fear.

One thing that I noticed last night was the fact that all five candidates are worthy. I can support whomever gets the nod, but for me, Huck’s the guy.

Monday reading

Boortz’s reading assignment…..

Dick Morris has his latest assessment of the Democrats and Republicans leading up to the New Hampshire primary.

Mark Steyn gives his two cents on the results of the Iowa caucus.

Mitt Romney won the Wyoming caucuses this weekend … ok, not that we got that out of the way.

The government of Great Britain is inviting Muslim women to attend assertiveness training courses to counter radical Islamists. Let us know how that works out for you.

Al Qaeda video messages of Osama bin Laden can now be downloaded straight to your cell phone!

There are parts of Britain that are being labeled “no-go” areas because it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. Coming soon across the pond?

UNICEF wants to spend over $5 million to “support the needs of children and women” in Kenya.

George McGovern wants to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. George McGovern is one of the biggest losers in the history of American politics.

Here’s rational Canadian who understands the implications of the Kyoto protocol and doesn’t buy into the mass hysteria of OwlGore’s warming crowd.

Speaking of global warming … frozen iguanas are falling from trees in South Florida because of the cold.

Al Sharpton has found a new cause to support … a man that shot and killed a white teenager and was solely convicted “because he is black.”

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case on the Constitutionality of lethal injection.

The Oxford Economics consultancy says that standard of living in Great Britain is set to rise above America’s for the first time since the 19th century.

A woman who was hit in the head with a golf ball is now suing the course for $1million, claiming that the 16th and 17th holes are “poorly designed.”

When the Port of Seattle wanted to construct a 3rd runway, it was required by law to spend 1% of its budget on “art.”

An inmate was able to escape from jail not only once but twice. Now the inmate is filing a federal lawsuit because the guards “didn’t do enough to stop him from breaking out.”

In Colombia, they have opened up a museum of laziness.

The world is now a better place with Tom Cruise being the #2 in command of the Church of Scientology … or so one author says.

Speaking of the Paulistas, this comic pretty much sums them up, doesn’t it?

TIME NEVER DIES

Sercan Ondem

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