It’s Ugly…It’s Good!

So which do you think Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Jamie Christensen would have preferred–a picturesque, high-arching, 60 plus yarder which sailed just inches outside the left upright, or a twisted, ugly-as-sin, 45 yard knuckleball job which squeaked through the left lower 90 by the hair of it’s “chinny chin chin?” Well, duh! For Christensen, his teammates and the longsuffering Bama Nation, the answer is a no-brainer–“ugly is as ugly does!”

Christensen’s winning field goal with 5 seconds left in the 4th quarter gave the Crimson Tide a 13-10 win over the hard-fighting Red Raiders from Texas Tech in Monday’s Cotton Bowl. His kick will surely go down as one of the most asthetically agonizing of all time, but it seemed a fitting conclusion for a team which relied on stellar defense to compensate for an anemic offense crippled by the loss of sparkplug receiver Tyrone Prothro earlier in the season. Nothing glamorous or sexy here, just effective.

Bama’s triumph is also proof postive that nice guys don’t always finish last. Head Coach Mike Shula is a class act (just like famous father Don) who inherited a nearly impossible situation three seasons ago following the near implosion of the Crimson Tide program. He has increased Bama’s win total from 4 to 6 to this year’s 10 wins over his first three seasons (can anyone say “contract extension?”). He still must figure out the secret to taming the Auburn Tigers consistently to earn his place in Bama’s pantheon of greats, but he seems well on his way. A victory in a major Bowl game will draw even more top recruits Shula’s way and increase the prospects of that first Iron Bowl win and more New Year’s Day delights in the future. Surely “Bear” Bryant is adjusting his houndstooth hat and grinning somewhere up in that great gridiron in the sky.

With Virginia and Virginia Tech both posting impressive come-from-behind wins in their respective bowls and Duke’s thrashing of supposed “giant slayer” Bucknell in college basketball, it was a very good sports New Year for yours truly. Now if I can just eat better, encourage my sons more rather than criticizing them, pray more deeply, romance my wife more regularly, run another marathon and read the Bible through in 365 days, I’ll be good to go.

Chances are my attempts to reach that level of resoluteness will fall short and at times appear downright “ugly.” But just when I feel ready to give up, I’ll recall Jamie Christensen’s dying quail of a field goal and remember that even an “ugly” attempt is sometimes good enough.

  1. Ed

    As the announcers in that showdown and last night’s Penn St vs Florida St matchup said, “That is why they don’t put pictures on scorecards!” It’s what you do that counts, not what you look like doing it. I’m often reminded of that when I get on a bicycle 😉

  2. Ed

    Also, noticed you upsized the layout. Bigger is better.

  3. mike

    Amen! My running gait has been reduced from a glide to a waddle, but the endorphins feel just the same!

    What an emotional roller coaster ride it was for place kickers this past bowl weekend. Those guys carry such a weight and they can turn from hero to goat (or vice versa) in an instant as was the case in the Penn State-FSU game last night. I know the PSU kicker was relieved and elated and the FSU kicker crushed. I wish the TV directors and producers would show a little more class and not insist on those close up shots like they did on the FSU kicker, all aimed at trying to capture the agony of defeat. I thought that was pretty cool of his teammates to stand in front of him and try to block the camera view.

    Thanks for your help with the layout. I’m going to try a picture in the title bar soon, so be watching your inbox for when I get in trouble!

  4. Hoots Musings

    I am a die hard Texas Tech Red Raider. I have to hand it to the Tide for a good game, good players, good defense and a good coach. Yall outplayed us.

    I have nothing but respect for Alabama and welcome a game with yall anytime.

    Sniff sniff…

    Not sure I can bring myself to root for Texas though.

  5. mike

    My hat’s off to the Red Raiders for a great game. What an effort by Cody Hodges to come back into that game injured and lead them to the tying TD. It was a classic matchup of a strong offense (TT) v. a smothering defense (UA), so it was not surprising in the least to end up with such a close game.

    I have no horse in tonight’s race but will probably root for Texas since they are the underdog. Should be a great game on paper, but sometimes these affairs do turn out to be one-sided flops.

  6. Derek Jenkins

    Ugly?…yes? Perhaps. More fascinating to me: Was it accidental? Think about this fact for a minute: his CAREER long field goal before that kick was 43 yds! In his whole CAREER.

    Q: If you knew that was the only way he could possibly get that ball to the goal, was it ugly…

    BTW, it wasn’t actually knuckling from what I could see, but it was spinning sideways instead of end over end.

    Aesthetics is a mysterious subject. What is it that engenders wonder and delight? If that which is beautiful includes that which elicits wonder, then may it be that his kick was truly a thing of beauty?

    The good, the true, the beautiful, who can plumb their depths?

    Go Bama.

  7. mike

    Derek said: “The good, the true, the beautiful, who can plumb their depths?”

    I’m not sure, but you sure are doing a good job for a Bama grad! 😉

    From one photo that I saw taken at the point of impact, it appeared to me that Christenson simply hauled off and whacked it with everything he had–perhaps proving your point that he knew that a flat out line drive was his only hope of reaching the goal post. These days, a 45 yard outer limit (many college kickers hit 45 yarders with 15 yards to spare and routinely hit 50-55 yarders in practice) seems a little short to me. Yet, didn’t Christansen win 3 games in the closing seconds this year?

    “Ugly is as ugly does” certainly does challenge conventional notions of beauty and supports the idea that simply “gettin ‘er done” under extreme conditions is a “thing of beauty.”

    This much I know–watching Vince Young dance through the USC defense like some wispy phantom was poetry in motion.

  8. DJG

    Roll Tide!!

    And what a great application of our “ugly” efforts still producing results.

    Maybe 2006 will be the year we take the Iron Bowl back!!!

  9. Derek Jenkins

    You are spot on Mike. Young owns the Rose Bowl. They should consider renaming it to Young Stadium.

  10. David U

    Mike, you captured my thoughts completely! ROLL TIDE, brother!


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