Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday practice notes: Is Bob Slydell watching "Clash of the Choirs"?

Before we get to the news and notes of today's practice session, a brief story and a couple of links.

My wife forced me to watch "Clash of the Choirs" on NBC last night. It's a week-long reality show where five singers go back to their hometowns to recruit members for a choir, train them, then compete all week in New York City for charity. I watched only because New Haven native Michael Bolton had come back to the Elm City to drum up interest at the Milford Mall and held auditions at Toad's Place in New Haven. It was a fairly uneventful 10 minutes, though I did get a kick out of the fact that the New Haven choir chose Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" as their song last night. Oh, they also have a 77-year old grandmother who was rocking out during the performance.

It's too easy to make jokes about Michael Bolton, but last night reminded me of a funny story from about 15 years ago. Bolton lived in Woodbridge during the height of his career (the "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" days) and his daughter went to my high school. Every spring, the big event at Amity High School was the Mr. Trident pageant. Sort of a mock beauty pageant for guys, where the entrants performed skits, made fun of teachers or rocked out with a band. It was pretty funny, trust me, and everyone went.

One year, a bunch of friends and myself didn't buy advance tickets and got to the auditorium late. We were told the tickets were sold out. Michael Bolton and his daughter just happened to be in line right behind us, and were also shut out. Rapscallions that we were, we decided to sneak in and stand in the back. No harm, we figured. Bolton even followed us in and stood in an opposite corner. About 10 minutes later, our crew-cut, no-nonsense assistant principal, Mr. Czuba, spotted our group. He came over and abruptly booted all the students. As he supervised us leaving, I noticed Bolton on the other side. "Oh sure," I said as exited past our assistant principal. "Kick us out, but you let Michael Bolton stay."

Now, I was 99.9 percent certain our assistant principal must have known Michael Bolton was one of the biggest names in music at the time. I mean, the guy had only sold like 50 million records and had Grammy's growing out of his ears. I figured our principal would have to let him stay. But to my surprise, he said "Where's Michael Bolton?", spotted him, walked over and made him leave! "Oh, man. He has no idea who Michael Bolton is," we whispered to each other in astonishment. "This might get ugly." But Bolton left without an argument, and stood in the hallway in stunned silence while looking in my general direction. I felt compelled to say something. All I could muster was, "Uh, sorry about that."

So that's my Michael Bolton story.

One link that had me laughing for a good half hour last night was sent to me by former New Haven Register sports writer Ned Griffen (now at the Day of New London). It's commentary on the Mitchell Report and Andy Pettitte from Carl of the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force". Just watch it. You won't be sorry.

Also, still a couple days to enter the Runway Challenge bowl pick'em. Here's the link. League ID # is: 26267. Password is: runway. We've got a lot of entries, even without the Ghost of I'm Too Good to Pick Games Without the Spread. He should change his screen name to the Valley Chicken.

Enough nonsense. Here's the practice notes.

  • Perhaps the most surprising note from practice for me was learning that most of the UConn players will be flying to Charlotte from wherever they call home. Edsall is allowing them to go home on Friday for the weekend, and UConn arranged travel for everyone to get to Charlotte on Christmas Eve from their respective hometowns. There's also a charter leaving from Hartford for the coaches and the Connecticut and Massachusetts residents. Pretty ambitious, and probably pretty costly. The real question is who, and how many will miss their flights on the 24th.

  • The time off since West Virginia has allowed everyone to heal. Edsall said only true freshmen Yianni the Greek and Isiah Moore will be unable to participate in practices.

  • Tyler Lorenzen is one of many who greatly benefited from the time off. Lorenzen was truly banged up after the West Virginia game, not only because the Mountaineers did everything but throw him up into the student section in the final game, but from a season's worth of punishment. He hobbled around much over the last two weeks, not doing much practicing, but was back in form today.

  • Edsall on Rich Rodriguez's departure, "I don't think it's a blow to the (West Virginia) program. He established something while he was there, and now someone will pick up where he left off. ... The thing we all have to remember is no one person is bigger than a program. Rich did a great job. Their win over Georgia really helped the league when a lot of people were questioning it. He always stood by the Big East and really liked it. But opportunities for he and his family came up with Michigan and he took it. You can't fault someone for that."

  • Edsall hasn't spoken to Rodriguez yet, but plans to. "Maybe I can pick his brain a bit about how to stop that spread offense," Edsall joked. "I'm glad he did leave because now I can pick his brain about what's given us the most problems."

  • Edsall was asked if rumors that Michigan contacted him about the position were true. "To me, that's a non-story," Edsall said, which was followed by about 15 seconds of awkward silence.

  • Here's another non-conference series to throw on the future schedule calendar. UConn has agreed to a four-year, home-and-home contract with Buffalo. It is expected to start in either 2009 or 2010. As I reported back in August, negotiations with Notre Dame are still on-going. Both sides are trying to get something done, but nothing has been finalized.

  • UConn sports info man Leigh Torbin is usually a fountain of knowledge, be it UConn or college-football related or on pop culture and other useless information that occupies most of my brain. The best way to describe Leigh is like a well-adjusted Rain Man (I mean that in the nicest way possible). But today, we found out Leigh has never seen the movie "Airplane". What?!? Who hasn't seen Airplane? Comedy Central shows it three times a day. Learning Leigh hasn's seen Airplane is like going to get your teeth cleaned and discovering the doctor never heard that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident. In another development, later on Tuesday Leigh admitted to Joe Perez of the Norwich Bulletin that he wasn't aware Benedict Arnold was born in Norwich. I realize the majority of you don't know Leigh. But trust me. It's stunning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too went to Amity and experienced Mr. Trident. Good times, good times... Mr. Czuba is a very nice man, but I'm not surprised he did not know Michael Bolton :)

December 18, 2007 10:01 PM 
Anonymous Ghost said...

I think you should change the blog name to "Scoops from The Runway".


December 19, 2007 9:29 AM 
Blogger Chip Malafronte said...

I give you credit ghost. Despite my best efforts to prod, goad and shame you into joining the Yahoo group, you've stuck to your guns. Maybe I'll pull a Clubber Lang and have Mr. T crash one of your classes and challenge you in front of everyone just like in Rocky III. (Hey foo! I'm talkin' to you, chump!)

December 19, 2007 10:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Mike here- How can anyone be considered a pop culture guru if they have never seen Airplane. "Surely you can't be serious?"

I'm suprised about the Notre Dame thing. They are always big on the ticket sales, and might be willing to play Uconn at their place, but would never come to a smaller place like the Rent!

December 19, 2007 1:11 PM 

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