Notes from the In-Between Times

First time long time! It’s been a pandemic-age since we snapped off a post on this old blog. Here are some internet sentences for your brain.

Beer for Dutch’s Horses

These next few weeks could be the final form of Brian Dutcher, San Diego State head coach.

Zeigler wrote about this last week. Ricky Pitino the Younger is a dead man walking at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota media thinks Dutch is a top candidate for the job. The Gophers will surely reach out to kick his tires at the very least.

Dutcher graciously dodged questions about it in his media appearances this week. His non-denial denials don’t assuage our hand-wringing. He could easily shoot down the rumors, and by playing it down the middle made a point of not doing so.

And why would he? It’s his alma mater. His dad coached there. His wife and his sisters were Gophers. He has lots of family in the area. He negotiated a $1 million buyout exclusively for Minnesota in his SDSU contract, instead of the $6.9 million poison pill it would cost any other school. He wants the job, philosophically if not actively.

“It’s my school,” Dutcher said of UM last September when he signed his extension.

From an Aztecs fan perspective, it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave beautiful San Diego and rocking Viejas Arena for the cold-ass Twin Cities. And stunning to picture him walking away from the successful program he and Steve Fisher built from scratch.

A successful mid-major program.

Dutcher’s current salary is $930,000 and his contract maxes out at $1.5 million in 2025. Richard Pitino is pulling down $2.46 million this year at Minnesota. So if UM poaches Dutch he’d be making at least $1 million more per year. To coach his alma mater. In the Big Ten. A million more to coach in your hometown against the likes of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State–after 22 years in the dreary Mountain West–is pretty compelling.

Now I’m picturing Dutch spitting rhymes in the MF DOOM mask. Oh my aching hands from raking in grands and breaking in mic stands.

Dutcher has done an amazing job to keep the program humming in the Fisher mold. Last year’s team started 26-0 and was a serious Natty contender. SDSU is the back-to-back conference champ. He could fairly feel he’s done pretty close to all he can do here.

Nobody in San Diego wants him to leave. Still, if you were his agent or advisor and Minnesota came calling, you’d have to tell him to take it. SDSU can’t match $2.5 million per.

Maybe UM will want to make a splash with a bigger name, like our old buddy Eric Musselman, who also has family ties to Minnesota. Maybe midwesterners aren’t all that impressed by someone succeeding at San Diego State.

Savor this March with Dutcher’s hard-nosed Tecs. Maybe it’s not the end of an era. But it might be.

Sorry I’m trying to remove it

The men’s basketball Aztecs remained at No. 19 when the new AP Top 25 poll came out on Monday, despite a voter who mistakenly put the 3-11 USD Toreros on his ballot instead of SDSU. To compound his error, the voter had ranked SDSU at No. 20 the previous week then inexplicably dropped San Diego/SDSU to No. 25, when all the Aztecs had done in the interim was beat UNLV and clinch a conference title.

Thinking that was funny and mockable I looked up who the voter was, then snitch-tagged him in a tweet calling out his error. By online standards it was tame: “I thought people in Indiana knew hoops” was the most acerbic line of the tweet. It got a little traction and presumably the writer saw himself getting dragged in his mentions. 

As the engagement numbers crept up I increasingly regretted it. Yes, the AP ballot is public and fair game. But did I need to put that negative energy into the world? Sports journalism is a tough gig to make a living from. Maybe this person works a regular job while writing about basketball. We’re a full year into a pandemic. I have no idea what kind of experience any stranger has had or what this guy was dealing with when he made a mistake in ranking college basketball teams.

So I deleted the tweet, even though it broke a thread I liked about old oaken buckets. Please clap.

Buddy,,,, You better run the table

College basketball polls are wildly imperfect, deeply unfair and biased against teams like San Diego State. It’s crazy, to me, that SDSU is 50-6 over the past two seasons yet are ranked No. 19 like some little upstart program from a nobody conference. 

Speaking of; after winning the Missouri Valley tournament, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (24-4) jumped from 20 to 18 in the AP poll, passing the Aztecs (20-4). 

Only five teams ahead of SDSU in the rankings have better win-loss records, and most of those teams have more losses this season than the Aztecs have in the last two combined. Yet here the Tecs sit, barely creeping up the polls while being projected as a 7 to 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This is old hat, par for the course, same shit different year. It ain’t fair gosh dangit. However it does highlight the distinction between SDSU and the other power program of the West, the Monsters of the Palouse, those undefeated Gonzaga Zaggie Zags. Despite getting to bully the cupcake West Coast Conference every year, GONZ gets the benefit of the doubt for their long résumé of signature wins and Final Four appearances. They haven’t won a national championship but they are perennially knocking on the door.

The Fisher/Dutcher era has been hugely successful, by local standards. Yet until the Tecs finally crack a Final Four it will be this way every year. National media regards the Mountain West as a western Missouri Valley Conference. SDSU has to win the conference tourney to avoid a dreaded 8/9 seeding or worse. 

Thank the old gods and the new for good things that still exist

The women’s soccer Aztecs went 16 months between games due to the lockdown. They finally got back on the plastic pitch and are still baller as hell. SDSU needed a scorched late strike to beat Nevada 3-2, then benefited from a howler of an own goal in cruising past Boise State 3-1.

I am SO glad for what these results represent: That SDSU Olympic-sport programs like women’s soccer weren’t eliminated during this harrowing public health crisis. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been for the athletic department, coaches, staff members and athletes. Especially the athletes. Huge kudos and gratitude to every one of them. 

There’s a long list of things I would yell at my college-age self if I could and one of them would be: Go to some SDSU women’s soccer games you fool. They win a lot. The games are fun and don’t cost nothin’! 

The defending conference champion Aztecs are playing a shortened makeup season and have just three more home games, all later this month. Get out to the sports deck and enjoy some quality soccer playing.

In conclusion: My kingdom for a clove

This is one of my favorite songs I happened across during pandemic year. Andy Schauf is a singer-songwriter from the lands of Canada. His song “Clove Cigarette” is a nice mood and very evocative of things we’ve all been missing. The video is really cool and uses an innovative mix of technologies, including a video game engine that renders images in a kind of 3-D dot matrix.

Cheers, good health and warm wishes to you all. Here’s to green plastic chairs and tippling a few with good people.

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Where do we go from here?

That’s the wrong way.

So your favorite college football team just shot itself in the junk with a t-shirt cannon.

San Diego State’s 23-17 loss to a very good Utah State team on Saturday sure as hell wasn’t ideal. I DID NOT GLEAN A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF ENJOYMENT FROM IT, TRUTH BE TOLD. But the game did clarify a few things about where our beloved squad stands and what the season looks like moving forward.

A few thoughts:

Continue reading “Where do we go from here?”

Do the Aztecs run on first down too much? Well,,,,,

Juwan looks for daylight on another zero-yard gain, probably. via GoAztecs.com

Due to extremely unfortunate employment-related circumstances, I was not at the Rose Bowl to witness the San Diego State football Aztecs’ historic first win over UCLA. Nor was I even able to watch the game, despite the vast reach of the mighty Pac-12 Networks. Therefore, ergo, I only caught updates of the proceedings via the interwebs and radio play-by-play.

As the game progressed in the 2nd half, Uncle Teddy, in his usual….distinctive manner, effusively complained that the Aztecs continually and predictably ran the ball on first down.

But did they really? Is Coach Horton’s spread offense still Ground Jeff? To drill into this crucial issue, I did what any extremely healthy-minded person would do: Collate all the Aztecs’ first-down play calls.

Continue reading “Do the Aztecs run on first down too much? Well,,,,,”

10 reasons to be excited about the 2019 SDSU football season

It’s that man again.

Another San Diego State Aztecs football season kicks off this Saturday against an FCS team that is … probably quite a bit better than we wish it was! Weber State’s pesky competence is sure to provide some pregame nerves to unsettle our stomachs — even before they endure their typical pregame tailgate onslaught of Fireball and processed cheese food. Drink kombucha now, friends. It’s going to be ugly.

To prepare your SOUL for the start of a new campaign, our staff spent about 20 minutes plopping ideas into Twitter DMs painstakingly compiled this list of the Top 10 reasons to be excited for the upcoming season. Behold!

Continue reading “10 reasons to be excited about the 2019 SDSU football season”

Happy new renderings day! Here’s what we learned

Aztecs football once again rolled up the rusty steel shutters to San Diego’s crumbling brutalist sports-tomb on Saturday afternoon, offering fans a chance to watch a Juwan Washington-less scrimmage and purchase phased out merchandise at a discount before it winds up on a TJ Maxx clearance rack next week. This year’s Fan Fest, however, also provided something exciting — a look into the (hopefully) not-too-distant future, when we all lavishly bask in the spoils of a victorious Battle For Mission Valley.

Fancy new renderings adorned the View level escalator near Gate E, providing fans the opportunity to filter past and look upon them in wonder, as though they were the Dead Sea Scrolls or the preserved body of V. I. Lenin. Here, comrades, have a look:

32E66AF6-B86C-4CAF-AF79-17AE98D4A8F4

Ah yeah, that’s the stuff.

The new watercolors, which replace the blah Populous renderings from Measure G, are by architect Gensler.  You might remember them from such previous Mission Valley renderings as SoccerCity’s proposed stadium. Kudos to Gensler for playing all sides and generally improving on the original vision considerably.

But what did we learn from these purty pictures, you ask?

Continue reading “Happy new renderings day! Here’s what we learned”

A programming note

A few weeks ago, blog co-editor lemonverbena and I were huddled in the soon-to-be-less-expansive STADIUM parking lot drinking beers and debating who would write the game recap following another 7:30 p.m. football start. It could have been the Hawai’i game, or maybe the UNLV game. Hell, who really remembers. All I recall is that it was dark and too cold for the thin hoodie I was wearing.

Neither of us volunteered for recap duty particularly quickly, and with good reason. The game would end around 11 p.m., meaning we’d get to our respective homes around 11:30, meaning we’d probably have a draft ready to post around 2 a.m., meaning holy shit someone’s Sunday was going to be in tired shambles. This was one particular moment but much of the past couple years of blogging has gone like this.

A realization finally set in that was time to rethink our endless cycle of game previews and recaps.

Our ultimate conclusion was that we’d see football season through to its — as it turns out, horrific — finish, then go on blogging hiatus for a bit while we recharged and figured out a way to make the project feel lively again. The timing worked out for other reasons. One of us is starting a new business venture; the other is spending much of the next two months traveling.

Let’s be clear: Neither of us are going away. I mean, what kind of asshole would blog about your favorite team for multiple years and then completely ghost you without warning? We’ll still be around on Aztecs Twitter, passing along clumsily photoshopped images and noting the various locales that are not, in fact, states. Much — if not all — of our audience dwells on that micro-blogging hellsite anyway. If you’re someone who follows the accounts but never clicks on the actual posts, you probably won’t notice a difference. And if you don’t follow us, well, what the fuck.

Both of us extend big thanks and humble gratitude to AttemptedChem (David), EgosAndDespair/Advisory Columnist (also David, but different), and to Jodes, who became too busy having a life and running a different site to keep posting here but will always be a K30er in our hearts. Seriously, thanks to each of you for the quality content and support, the laughs and tears, the cold comforts and warm misgivings.

Most of all, a hearty THANK YOU to the loyal blog readers of Kabeer Thirty. From the outset this has been a self-funded passion project we wanted to share with San Diego State fans, of whom we feel kinship as an overlooked and neglected band of cynics tucked into the best corner of our unsettled country, and scattered around it. This would be a pointless exercise without your feedback, support, appreciation and/or aggrieved rebukes.

These many moons later, please know that the blog isn’t going dark. We’ll be back soon-ish, just not at the same pace or format. Expect less day-to-day grind and more the stuff we actually like doing; i.e. absurdist humor, bad logo roasting and big-picture taeks.

We’ll see you soon. Promise.

*This promise is not legally binding.

Frisco Bowl Recap: I’m not mad, I’m actually laughing

San Diego State football entered 2018 on the heels of one of the best stretches in program history, ripping off 32 wins in three seasons. The 2018 season just ended with probably the lowest ebb of the Rocky Long era — a rain-soaked 27-0 loss to Ohio University in the Frisco Bowl in which the suspension-depleted Aztecs didn’t look particularly interested to be there.

If only, friend. If only.

Continue reading “Frisco Bowl Recap: I’m not mad, I’m actually laughing”

Frisco Bowl Preview: Aztecs vs Ohio

Major Rock is gonna ride out this bomb of a season if it harelips everybody in Lemon Grove.

What: Postseason football game
Who: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Ohio Bobcats
When: 5:00 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN
Line: Ohio -2.5

The Stakes
Pride and self-respect. Making their ninth straight bowl appearance, the Aztecs need a win to avoid ending the season on a four-game losing streak. And in a late surprise, SDSU will have to overcome the suspension of three players — including starters Noble Hall and Daishawn Dixon — sent home by Rocky Long two days before the game.

The Frisco Bowl is the former Miami Beach Bowl, which was played at Marlins Park from 2014 to 2016. Frisco is a half-hour drive north of Dallas.

The Opponent
Before being announced as SDSU’s bowl opponent, I was only vaguely aware of Ohio University’s existence. Founded in 1804 and the oldest university in the state, Ohio U. is situated on a sprawling 1,800-acre campus in the little college town of Athens. It sounds kind of idyllic to be quite honest. The school’s student population is 60 percent women, a demographic anomaly future college applicants may wish to consider.

Ohio started playing football in 1894. Pretty legit considering the game has only existed (as 25-on-25 murderball) since 1869. The football Bobcats have competed in Division I since 1962.

Continue reading “Frisco Bowl Preview: Aztecs vs Ohio”