Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Always Thought It Was the Message That Counts

Recently, the Kansas City Star did a report on how churches here in America are having trouble finding organists- and how this country's universities and colleges are experiencing difficulty in attracting students to pick up the King of Instruments. The article also talked about how the University of Kansas (boasting of a multimillion-dollar pipe organ) has one of the strongest organ programs in the United States today.

24 students strong.

Well, the Omaha World-Herald picked up this article and, after having staff writer Kevin Coffey do a local interview to add an Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue slant, put it on the front page of the paper's Living section on 2-23-2013. (One of the points the local edition made was that Nebraska's colleges and universities are bucking the trend the Kaycee original lamented.)

In both versions of the article (you can still catch it at; type in "Pipes aren't calling many"), you'll find some quotes from University of Kansas organ professor James Higdon.

Higdon bemoaned the trend toward praise bands in many of America's churches, not only labeling the groups "pick-up garage bands" whose members know just six chords...but also saying that the praise bands aren't going to last.

You could see where the professor's coming from; after all, he teaches at a major university with one of the nation's best organ curricula. Higdon's got to look out for his back end and that of his school. (And why throw a few thousand years' worth of compositions out the window?)

I don't want to throw all those compositions out the window, either.

What's more, I'm in a praise band, too...and I love it. 

The church I'm in launched its contemporary worship service in September of 2007, and it meets at the church's Fellowship Hall each Sunday at 9:35 AM. (For a while, the service was held at our church's sanctuary...but moved back downstairs in 2011.)

Long before that, I was a substitute organist at the very first United Methodist church I joined...when I was still living in Sioux City, IA. (This was from 1994 to 1997. At that time, that church's lead organist was the wife of the church's pastor. And unless I hear otherwise, they're still married!)

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is this: Whether it's traditional worship music, contemporary praise music, or a mix of the two, it makes me no difference.

I'm more concerned about the message in each church service. That's what I'm trying to dig.  

The basic message doesn't change whether you're using a six-manual pipe organ or a Fender Stratocaster. (At least, that's what I find.)

And as far as I'm concerned, the underlying message is: "God loves each and every one of us...and He wants the very best for us. (And if we could just work to get along with each other.)"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Last-Second Heroics

The first game was decided by an overtime extra point.

The very last game came down to a touchdown pass with just two seconds left in regulation.

And, when taken as a group, the games in between weren't too bad, either.

All in all, the 2012 version of a shoulda/coulda/woulda NCAA Division 1-A football playoff was one of the best and most interesting playoff cycles to have ever come out of this computer.

Well, here's proof:

FIRST ROUND (seeding in parentheses): Wisconsin (24) 21, Georgia (9) 20; Texas A&M (17) 35, Utah State (16) 14; Louisiana State (13) 24, Nebraska (20) 21; South Carolina (12) 33, Tulsa (21) 32 (1 OT); San Jose State (14) 20, Louisville (19) 15; Oklahoma (11) 38, Oregon State (22) 35; Boise State (15) 34, Clemson (18) 3; Florida State (10) 28, Arkansas State (23) 21

SECOND ROUND: Notre Dame (1) 14, Wisconsin 13; Texas A&M 21, Kent State (8) 14; Louisiana State 14, Oregon (5) 13; Florida (4) 21, South Carolina 0; Kansas State (6) 28, San Jose State 21; Oklahoma 45, Northern Illinois (3) 28; Stanford (7) 21, Boise State 14; Florida State 24, Alabama (2) 7

QUARTERFINAL ROUND: Notre Dame 27, Texas A&M 7; Louisiana State 28, Florida 0; Kansas State 49, Oklahoma 28; Florida State 35, Stanford 7

SEMIFINAL ROUND: Kansas State 28, Florida State 27; Notre Dame 21, Louisiana State 2

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Notre Dame 17, Kansas State 14

And here's some more proof:

*The Golden Hurricane and the Gamecocks met in actually the first 2012 playoff test. Bill Blankenship's Conference USA champs led Steve Spurrier's club after one quarter, 12-7, and enjoyed a halftime lead of 18-15. But that halftime lead went away when the Gamecocks recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a 19-18 third-period lead.

For a while, the contest was better known as The Trey Watts Show, because the Tulsa running back scored on two kickoff returns- a 96-yarder and the 102-yarder that, combined with his successful two-point conversion, sent the game into overtime. Then, in the extra stanza, Watts scored from a yard out...but the extra point was no good.

South Carolina QB Connor Shaw and WR Ace Sanders then hooked up on a five-yard scoring strike...and K Adam Yates' point after canceled the Watts show.

*The Beavers of Mike Riley- in their first playoffs in a dozen years- owned a 35-21 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Bob Stoops' Sooners rained down the game's final 17 points. The game-winning score came with 0:26 to play in regulation, when QB Landry Jones fired a one-yard TD pass to WR J. Brown. (It was Jones' third TD toss of the contest.)

*Bo Pelini's Cornhuskers were 1:18 away from notching their first 1-A playoff win since 2001 (a 49-0 second-round pasting of Washington)...but the Tigers' Zach Mettenberger flipped a two-yard air score to WR Spencer Ware.

*Mark Richt's Bulldogs were heading for the second round...but the Badgers (now back under Barry Alvarez, because Bret Bielema had just accepted a deal to become Arkansas' new head coach) pulled a shocker and a half. First, RB Montee Ball went in from one yard with 2:09 to go in the fourth; K Kyle French's PAT made it 20-14 in favor of Georgia.

Then Wisconsin recovered an onside kick...and all of that led to QB Joel Stave tossing an 11-yarder to WR Jordan Fredrick for the tying points with 13 ticks to go.

French's next extra point enabled the Badgers to become the first 24th seed to win a playoff game since Troy stunned USC, 16-0, in 2006.

*In the second round, Darrell Hazell's Golden Flashes were working on their own stunner (well, to some people, it would've been a stunner). But halfway through the fourth period, with Kent State leading Texas A&M, 14-7, the Aggies' Johnny Manziel showed just why he picked up that Heisman Trophy.

With 7:58 remaining, Manziel found WR- and fellow freshman- Mike Evans from 14 yards out to make it 14-13 (the point after was no good). Then with 18 ticks to go, the two of 'em connected on a 50-yard bomb to take Kevin Sumlin's first A&M squad into the next round. (The Aggies got a two-point conversion.)

*Bill Snyder's Wildcats needed the whole second half to sideline Mike McIntyre's Spartans (in their first playoffs since 1990). QB Collin Klein (he ran 30 times for 102 yards) used his right arm to do it, with a third-quarter scoring strike to FB Braden Wilson (K Anthony Cantele's PAT tied it at 21-21). Klein- the 2012 playoff MVP- then threw a 13-yard score to WR Chris Harper with 10:06 left to play in the fourth. That did it.

The whole thing wasted CB Tyler Ervin's two kickoff-return touchdowns (a 93-yarder and a 98-yarder) for San Jose State.

*Les Miles' Tigers ended the Ducks' reign as playoff champion (and got revenge for what Chip Kelly's club did in 2011 to LSU- a 30-29 overtime win for the Green and Gold) by foiling an Oregon two-point try with 2:51 to play in the fourth.

*Wisconsin almost pulled off The Impossible against the Fighting Irish. With 1:31 left in the fourth, Stave heaved a two-yard TD pass to wideout Kenzel Doe...but Ball's try for two failed.

*Speaking of Fighting Irish...K-State had Brian Kelly's team on the ropes for most of the fourth quarter in the championship game, thanks to Klein's three-yard run with 7:21 to go.

But Notre Dame QB Everett Golson engineered a minute-long, 80-yard drive that was capped off by his 18-yard desperation heave to WR DaVaris Daniels with those two seconds remaining.

Result: The Irish became just the third Number One seed to go all the way [something previously done by Nebraska in 1993 and Miami (FL) in 2001].

And: This is the second straight year that a team whose head coach has the last name of Kelly went to the top.

Many thanks go out to the man known as Brian in Alabama for providing the teams disk that allowed these playoffs to be run to begin with...on Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football (using the computer vs. computer mode).

How will the 2013 playoffs look? Stay tuned!