As you may have heard, former Tulsa football coach Todd Graham abandoned his Pittsburgh Panther football to coach at Arizona State University after only 11 months at Pitt. Even better, he told his players by sending a text message (from a phone, I wouldn’t want anybody to confuse this with an actual handwritten note) to an assistant, whom he instructed to forward the message to the players. Yes, he sent a second-hand text.
In some ways, the second-hand text makes sense. You don’t want to actually have to explain your actions by sending a direct message that could be replied to, especially when you’ve pulled off such a daringly jerk move by leaving your third consecutive “dream job” after less than a year. I won’t get into that too much, as Pat Forde wrote an excellent explanation of that situation (found here). What I do want to get into is how Todd Graham has apparently fallen into a trap where there isn’t a whole lot that people won’t believe about him anymore.
Back in March, I wrote an article about Todd Graham leaving his new post as head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh to return as an assistant at Tulsa (Todd Graham Steps Down From Pitt Head Coach Position). This ridiculous article was meant as an early April Fools joke, as was its equally ridiculous follow-up (Todd Graham Reverses Course, Decides to Stay at Pitt). The basic intent of these articles was to use real stories of crazy stuff Todd and his wife had done and said to support a more crazy story that I completely made up. A lot of people read the articles, I was banned from a Pittsburgh message board, and a good time was had by
all a few.
Yesterday I decided to check my site stats after making my first post in several weeks. To my surprise, despite not having written anything in a month, I had about a thousand views in a 24 hour period. I started to look at where people were coming to my site from and found that pretty much all of the views were from message boards where random people had posted links to the Todd Graham articles and presenting them as fact, meaning that there were people who began to believe things from a random website they found. Not just any random website, one called “CorndogCountry.” Here are some of the things from the artcles that people believed:
- Todd Graham would leave Pitt after a month to take an assistant role at Tulsa for 1/10th the money he was making at Pitt.
- The University of Pittsburgh pays their basketball players a salary
- Penn State coach Tom Bradley colluded with Graham in negotiations to become the Pitt head coach in order to receive a chunk of Graham’s renegotiated contract.
- Todd Graham may have had his team chaplain at Tulsa distribute equine growth hormone to the players.
Of course, belief of those items is a bit more understandable once you see what were some of the true (or at least actually reported) items in the article:
- Todd Graham said his wife Penni threatened to leave him if he left Tulsa
- Todd Graham used bathroom breaks during negotiations with Rice to call and negotiate his upcoming deal with Tulsa
- Penni Graham used her Twitter account to mislead Tulsa fans of Todd’s whereabouts while he negotiated with Pittsburgh
- Todd claimed his team’s win over a 4-5 Notre Dame team was the greatest win in the history of Tulsa football and actually had that written on their Hawai’i Bowl rings (where they played Hawai’i, not Notre Dame), despite the fact that Tulsa has had wins over top-10 ranked arch rivals Houston and Arkansas, an Orange Bowl victory, as well as countless other victories that would clearly rank higher.
- Todd Graham is a jerk
So what does this mean? Well, I suppose it means you can no longer legally write satire about Todd Graham, as there’s pretty much nothing people won’t believe he did. This is especially sad for me, because it means I’ll have to shelve my “Todd Graham goes on a nun-murdering spree” article that I planned to post over the weekend. Oh well, you’ll just have to re-read this article about Todd Graham framing Tulsa player Damaris Johnson for shoplifting before the season.
Today I was leaving a work related white elephant party at the Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley when fate handed me a great opportunity to impart justice upon the parking lot. Not just any justice, but the special type of justice that is equal parts trivial, asinine, and glorious. Despite starting a new job, taking the professional engineer’s exam, and getting married this year, I can honestly say rising to this occasion is easily the highlight of my year. Let me take you through it.
As I walked out of Pyramid into the parking lot holding my white elephant gift (which I will not divulge because it is soon to be re-gifted to somebody who may read this), I noticed an SUV sitting in the narrow aisle between rows of cars. I was curious at this behaviour, as the SUV was several hundred feet from the entrance, and nobody appeared to be leaving their parking spot. I was even more curious when I noticed that a small sedan was sitting behind this SUV.
“Surely he can’t be holding hostage that car stuck behind him until somebody happens to exit from the entire parking lot,” I thought. But as it turns out, that was exactly what he was doing.
This may not make sense, as you’re probably wondering how somebody can claim dibs on the first spot that opens up in an entire parking lot. Well, the parking lot at Pyramid has one entrance and exit, which are adjacent to each other, and only four rows of cars with two narrow one-way lanes between them. This makes the route from entrance to exit look like a long rectangle, which you can pretty much completely block off by parking your car anywhere within.
This next part is my best guess of how the situation I walked into came about. I assume the guy in the SUV had taken a trip around the parking lot and noted that it was full. However, instead of leaving the lot and parking in any of the readily available street parking right next to the bar, this fellow decided he would loop back into the parking lot and park his car right behind the first few parked cars, ensuring that he would have the open path to the first vacated spot in the entire lot. However, in the meantime, some poor sucker pulled into the parking lot and got stuck behind this guy, forcing him to sit and wait and robbing him of the opportunity to leave the parking lot and park some 40 feet further away on the street like a normal human being.
As I walked to this car, I unraveled this sequence of events in my head, generating an appropriate amount of personal disdain for this particular individual. As I neared my car, I realized that this jerk was actually parked a few feet ahead of my car, meaning that it would be the hostage sedan, and not the douchebag SUV that would get to lay claim to my soon-to-be vacated spot.
“Fantastic,” I thought.
But as I approached my spot and the SUV began to realize he had made a critical mistake, he began to reverse, placing his dumb self directly behind my car.
“Still not far enough, he will have to give up” I thought.
I was wrong. As I passed the front bumper of the guy’s car he had still not abandoned the idea that he could get my spot. I decided to walk to the passenger door to drop off my items first, thinking the extra few feet would force him to realize it was time to give up. It did not. In fact, he began looking out his window at the car behind him, motioning for its driver to back up so that he could claim my parking spot. The driver of the hostage car glared forward at the douchebag and shrugged his shoulders as he lifted his palms towards the air, contorting his face into the most fantastic grimace that displayed the perfect mix of confusion and annoyance. I’m pretty sure if his face could talk, it would have said “Are you freaking serious?”
And so hostage car, seeing that the tables had turned unexpectedly in his favor, refused to back up. While I was on board with the hostage car’s cause, I realized that Mr. Hostage is probably not as big of a jerk as Mr. SUV, and that he would likely be the one to yield in the impending standoff of who was going to give up on the spot in order for me to be able to back out my car, which at this point was blocked in by the SUV.
It was like the end of a movie where the bad guy, despite being thoroughly beaten in the film’s climatic scene just prior, rises up unexpectedly one last time to kill the hero, but then the hero is equally unexpectedly rescued by that other character that disappeared without explanation 20 minutes before. And then the hero is all like “I thought you were gone” and the other dude is like “Well, blah blah witty statement” and then there’s the scene where they tie everything up or set up a sequel and then the credits (sometimes populated with outtakes or crappy little scenes where they tie up even more loose ends).
“I could be that other dude!” I thought. Actually, I didn’t think that because I only just now created that long winded analogy after several minutes of labored thought, but you get the idea.
I dropped off my gift in the passenger seat, closed the door, and then began to walk back to the front door of the bar as if I was just dropping my stuff off, making sure to hit the lock button on my key twice so the Civic honked and SUV dude heard it. Douchebag SUV driver immediately drove forward, completely frustrated at the apparent false alarm. As soon as he did, I turned around and ran back to the car, where the former hostage was still sitting in his car. I pointed and waved to him as if to say “We did it!” He then smiled and saluted me. Let me reiterate, he SALUTED me, probably because I had obviously just executed the most devastatingly brutal blow to evil on behalf of good in the history of mankind. In Star Wars terms, it was kind of like I punched the Death Star into a million pieces with my fist. It was that amazing.
The downside of this was that I then got stuck behind the SUV while he waited on another car to leave its spot. Luckily, this car was actually already leaving so I didn’t have to wait long. Even better was when the SUV realized he couldn’t fit into the new spot because his dumb SUV was too stupidly big to fit in normal parking spots. The SUV then left the parking lot and drove off away from Pyramid, meaning not only did I make sure the right guy got the spot, I saved the people inside the bar from having to interact with SUV dude on any level. If the folks at Pyramid only knew what I did for them, it’s safe to say I’d probably have free drinks for life. Of course, I don’t do good for the recognition or the free drinks, I do it because somebody has to fight the little battles.
So sleep well tonight my readers, because I’m pretty sure that SUV guy was the reason anything bad happens ever, and nobody will ever have to worry about him again. The end.
Well, there goes my Thanksgiving break.
I will have 5 days off for Thanksgiving this year, and thanks to the University of Tulsa’s football showdown with 8th ranked Houston for the C-USA West Division title the itinerary looks like this:
Wednesday and Thursday: Think about Tulsa vs Houston
Friday: Watch Tulsa vs Houston
Saturday and Sunday: React to, internalize and digest results of Tulsa vs Houston
For the game Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel called “Conference USA’s version of LSU-Alabama”, with the winner clinching C-USA West, a berth in the C-USA title game, and potentially C-USA’s first ever berth in a BCS game should Houston win, how could you expect anything less. In fact, I suppose I’m going to spend a large portion of tonight writing this, so we can go ahead and say my brain is on loan to this game for a full week.
Hey, at least I have this planned out in advance.
One of the first posts I wrote when I started this think examined my best and worst memories of TU football, and Houston games from the last 5 years accounted for one of each. That post also makes a reference to the 1968 Tulsa-Houston game in which the Cougars defeated the Golden Hurricane 100-6. Many would believe this game is the genesis of the hate that runs so deep in this rivalry, and to an extent they’re right. By halftime, Houston had yet to score 76% of their eventual points (there’s an easy calculation, mark that as one positive of a 100 point defeat), and it took 49 fourth quarter points by Houston over a TU squad decimated by the flu and playing backups of backups (perhaps even Dr. Phil) to reach their final total. To this day, Houston remains the only team to have scored 100 points against a Division 1 football opponent, and the game is still periodically brought up by Houston fans as an example of an epic beatdown or by Tulsa fans as an example of an epic display of poor sportsmanship by then Houston coach Bill Yeoman. However, whatever people’s thoughts were on this game, it did not occur in a vacuum.
I’m going to do my best Joy Hakim impersonation and take you in my time machine. We’re about to go back to a time when the Beatles were still together and Tulsa and Houston still had nationally relevant football programs. In fact, we’re going so far back that Tulsa was actually only 10 years removed from being in the same conference as Oklahoma State, Texas and Rice were in the same league, and even Oklahoma and Nebraska called themselves conference-mates (yes, that far back). Set the clock to 1967.
“But isn’t Houston nationally relevant now? They’re ranked 8th in the country!”
OK, now you’re just interrupting, but if you must know the answer, no, they aren’t. Like the University of Hawaii in 2007, Houston is a team that has been the beneficiary of an extremely light schedule, giving them an artificially high ranking that may allow them into a premier bowl game. As a Tulsa fan, I can’t particularly fault Houston, as we tried the same trick in 2008, backing out of a marquee home and home series with Texas Tech in order to play a rebuilding Arkansas team instead. Not only did Tulsa lose to Arkansas, Texas Tech added insult to injury by struggling to put away Tulsa’s cupcake replacement, Eastern Washington, in the season opener. Houston beat Tulsa 70-30 that year, perhaps a proper punishment for then Tulsa coach Todd Graham’s short-sighted attempt to inflate his own accomplishments by de-clawing his schedule.
But I digress, back to 1967.
Much like 2011, Houston entered Tulsa ranked in the top 10. Unlike this year, Houston already had two losses, but managed to hold a lofty ranking based on a schedule that included Florida State, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and wins over 3rd ranked Michigan State and 5th ranked Georgia. A win on the November 25th season finale in Tulsa would guarantee Houston a top 10 ranking. This was especially important as 1967 marked the last of a 6 year stretch where the AP poll only included 10 teams, meaning a loss would leave Houston completely unranked.
It was clearly Houston’s year, Sports Illustrated had even published an article on Bill Yeoman, and there were hardly enough data points to lend the SI curse any statistical merit back in 1967. Yeoman’s “Veer” offense had Houston in the second year of a three year run as the nation’s leader in total offense, a distinction that current Houston coach Kevin Sumlin’s teams have earned only once (2009).
Tulsa on the other hand, was coming off a 54-12 loss to North Texas, and had lost 3 of its last four overall after starting the season 4-0. On top of it all, Tulsa had gone into the Astrodome the previous year and lost to Houston by a score of 73-14. 1966 had also marked the first time in several years that none of a trifecta of Tulsa legends; Jerry Rhome, Howard Twilley, and Billy Guy Anderson had been on the sidelines, and those guys weren’t walking through the door in 1967.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing all of this if Tulsa hadn’t won.
Tulsa defeated the Cougars 22-13, which marked the last time Tulsa defeated a top 10 team (Edit: I stand corrected, Tulsa defeated 7th ranked Arkansas in 1971). Predictably, Yeoman wasn’t feeling the love, and famously refused to shake Tulsa coach Glenn Dobb’s hand, remarking “Wait until we get you back in our place next year!”
So the story goes, the next year Yeoman scored away at a Tulsa team lacking 15 of 22 starters, posting 7 touchdowns in the final quarter in an attempt to erase his own failure the year before. Unfortunately for Yeoman, destroying teams full of third stringers and players unfit to see a football field did not earn you a top 10 ranking in 1967; However, since this is the strategy Houston has employed to gain their current top-10 ranking, I guess you could make the argument that Yeoman was simply 44 years ahead of his time.
It should be noted, despite book-ending the 1967 loss with two huge victories by a combined score of 173-20, Yeoman’s lifetime record against Tulsa was only 8-7. Perhaps Tulsa wasn’t ever really as big of an underdog as people thought , which is one of several parallels that can be seen between the 1967 and 2011 versions of TU-Houston (Tulsa’s current team is a 3 point underdog as of this writing).
This Friday, November 25th, Tulsa will take the same field against the same team with the same top-10 ranking as the one they beat 44 years ago to the day. As Henry Ford once said, “Those who can not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Let’s just hope Kevin Sumlin and the Houston Cougars aren’t reading this.
Waco, TX – Realizing that their school had just scored the most notable victory in the history of its sports program, Baylor students and officials were exuberant in their celebration of Baylor’s continued unwarranted existence as a member of the BCS elite. In fact, despite having maintained their status through legal wrangling that by all rights should have splintered the Big 12 conference immediately, Baylor actually ended up causing the conference to make reforms that would not only stabilize it in the near term, but would also put into place revenue sharing model that would put money earned by conference powers Texas and Oklahoma directly into the pockets of lesser performing conference schools, like Baylor.
In terms of historical significance, Baylor’s victory is by far the fourth biggest in Big 12 conference since its formation, rivaled only by National Championships by Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska. Said Oklahoma Head Football coach Bob Stoops on the development, “It just goes to prove the old saying ‘It’s better to be litigious than good’”.
When asked for comment, Baylor President Ken Starr said “In terms of an underdog story, we blow Rudy out of the water. We were only here in the first place because Ann Richards was an alumna, shoot, even Rice had about as big a claim to being in the conference as us, and now we’ve gone from perennial cellar dweller to perennial cellar dweller. OK, it doesn’t sound that impressive when you put it like that. Sorry, I’m just excited to have something to talk about other than Bill Clinton’s sex life.”
Norman, OK – In a move likely to open many eyes around the country, Oklahoma announced it would be joining the PAC-12 retroactively, effective March 31st, 2010. The announcement means that Oklahoma will get to claim a share of the 2010 PAC-10, which it will share with the University of Oregon, which had previously been the sole recipient of 2010 PAC-10 conference champion honors. Said OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione of the move:
“(PAC-12 Commissioner) Larry Scott made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Our fan base was getting tired of piling up the same Big 12 trophy over and over, and Larry stepped in and gave us an opportunity to immediately trade one of those in for something different.”
For their willingness to share their conference title, Oregon was awarded Oklahoma’s 2003 Big 12 South Title, as well as Oklahoma State’s 2007 Insight Bowl championship trophy.
Oklahoma faces The University of Tulsa later today. Due to scheduling constraints relating to the Sooner’s conference move, Tulsa will be playing on behalf of the University of California Golden Bears, who host Fresno State University at Candlestick Park in San Francisco tonight. A Tulsa win would give Cal the inside track in the new-formed PAC-13 North Division.
It is yet to be decided whether Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State will officially join the Sooners in the move, stay tuned for more details as this story emerges.
Auburn, AL – In an unprecedented move, Auburn University has terminated the tenure of Head Football Coach Gene Chizik after his school nearly lost to the Aggies of Utah State, despite his being only one game removed from winning the BCS National Championship.
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs defended the move in a statement released shortly after the Tiger’s loss to Utah State:
We at Auburn University strive for excellence, and our fans will accept no less from our football team. This move follows the precedent set with Coach Tuberville that culminated with last year’s National Championship. Though we do appreciate the good work Gene did for us, I have made it abundantly clear as far as coaching moves are concerned that past accomplishments are in the past, and have no bearing in current decisions. Gus Malzahn will assume to the role of Interim Head Coach, and if he is someone that looks capable of leading us to another championship either this year or next, we may consider retaining him as head coach when the season concludes.
Stunned college football analysts blasted the move as short-sighted, but were quick to acknowledge that the Tigers have thrived through coaching turnover despite the apparent quality of the coach brought in to coach them. Chizik had been 5-19 at Iowa State in the two years he coached there prior to coming to Auburn.
Analysts also noted that it was primarily the defense, Chizik’s specialty, which failed the Tigers in Saturday’s 42-38 Tiger victory. Said Sports Illustrated contributor Stewart Mandel, “It was never really clear if Auburn’s success really ever belonged to Chizik to start with. I think a lot of people in Auburn were looking for an excuse to dump Chizik for Gus Malzahn, who is widely viewed as the offensive mastermind that was responsible for their national title. Today was the perfect example of that sentiment, as Malzahn’s offense scored two touchdowns in under a minute to rescue Chizik’s under-performing defense, which allowed 38 points to the third best team in Utah.”
Gus Malzahn was grateful for the opportunity, noting that he had spent much of the first four years of his college coaching career deferring the bulk of his glory to Chizik as well as former Tulsa coach Todd Graham, both of whom he referred to as “Compulsively ego-driven credit takers”.
In the end, it’s just another day in the SEC, where coaching seats never cool down and neither do the expectations of the men who occupy them.
Norman, OK- Who says Kickers aren’t real football players? Tress Way may be one of the best punters in Oklahoma Sooner football history, but he is about to fill a role nobody ever thought he would occupy, Offensive Lineman.
Emergency medical personnel responded to In The Raw Sushi near the University of Oklahoma campus late Friday night. Paramedics on the scene told reporters that many members of the Sooner’s O-line were having a private, after-hours party at the popular restaurant when all suddenly became violently ill after consuming large quantities of spicy tuna rolls. University doctors on the scene confirmed that the player’s symptoms were consistent with those of patients suffering from acute Mercury poisoning, and that consuming large quantities of raw fish in a short amount of time could easily sideline seemingly invincible 300 pound linemen for up to two days.
Casualties of the fishy fiasco include nearly every backup offensive lineman on the team, as well as nearly every available option the Sooners had at right tackle, including Daryl Williams, Tyrus Thompson, and Lane Johnson. Though all are in good condition and will certainly recover, none will be available for the season opening contest against the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa. This created an overnight quandary for head coach Bob Stoops, who had to find a suitable replacement for the Right Tackle position in short order. Enter Tress Way.
“Tress is a kid who has tremendous talent, as you know,” said Stoops. “What most people don’t know is that he was out every day during the summer busting his butt in O-line drills, just on the off chance that he would get to see some mop up duty. I guess Saturday will be his lucky day, because he’ll see a lot more than that.”
Many may recall similarly glowing comments from Stoops on Way after the Junior had been voted team captain. Stoops noted then that Way was not your usual punter, but never filled anyone in on what was until then a secret dream of Way’s that only he, Stoops, and offensive line coach James Patton knew about. Patton had this to say about Way in an unreleased interview taken during summer workouts:
“Tress may be 6 foot 1 and not even 220 pounds, but he has the soul of an old lineman. It killed him that he never got to try out his true position in high school due his size and the fact that he went to what is basically a football factory in Union, so we let him work out with our guys during the Summer. He’s actually really good, he’d work in a pinch if we had an emergency. We even submitted blocking stats for him to EA Sports so he could use himself on the line in their college football videogame.”
Many in the room during that interview didn’t believe Patton until he pulled out his cell phone, which contained footage of the video game version of Tress Way (#36) manhandling 6′ 3″ 273 pound Tulsa Defensive End Tyrunn Walker (#94).
When asked if the video was an accurate representation of Way’s skill, Patton replied “No, he would’ve held that block until the Quarterback got rid of the ball.”
So as Sooner nation sleeps on the eve of the start of another football season, the fate of Oklahoma’s #1 ranking, and perhaps shot at the title, hinges on the very narrow shoulders of a lanky kid from Tulsa. Before retiring for the night shortly before 4 in the morning Saturday, a weary Bob Stoops had this to say to the small group of reporters who had flocked to his home to cover the breaking news:
“We’re going to be OK. It’s just Tulsa. I’ve really got to get to sleep.”
If you follow college football, you should know the name Damaris Johnson, after all, it’s a name that sits on top of the all-time NCAA leaderboard for total yards. Sadly, much of the college football world is just getting acquainted with Johnson this week following his arrest on a charge of felony embezzlement.
The police have alleged that Johnson twice used his girlfriend’s debit card to purchase thousands of dollars of merchandise at a local Macy’s department store, but was only charged only a small fraction of the merchandise’s value.
Upon hearing this story, I immediately knew something was fishy. My wife and I had a Macy’s registry for our wedding last month, and I am well aware that that store lacks anything that would be of interest to a 22 year old male. Would Damaris really risk his career for three thousand dollars worth of Martha Stewart living cookware? I don’t think so. With these suspicions driving me, I set out to find the critical clues that would exonerate Damaris and in the process save Tulsa’s football season.
The first break in the case was one of the items Damaris allegedly “embezzled,” a size 9 fitted hat. For those of you not familiar with hat sizes, I have a pretty giant head, and my hat size is only 7-5/8. A size 9 hat would only be appropriate for somebody with a really unbelievably massive head, and it certainly would not fit 5-7, 170 pound Damaris.
After thinking about the hat for a while, I began to think about motive. Who would want Tulsa’s star player out of the equation for the season. At first I suspected Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops (Tulsa’s week 1 opponent), but quickly realized that Stoops was dumb as a box of rocks and wouldn’t have the wherewithal or brains to pull off such a maneuver.
I decided to approach the motive question differently, and instead of asking “who wants to beat Tulsa” I began to think “who wants Tulsa to fail?” Suddenly, the answer was clear:
Former Tulsa coach Todd Graham left town last year after setting up the Golden Hurricane’s 2011 schedule with three top 10 opponents, and since moving to Pittsburgh Graham and his staff have repeatedly made references to the lack of talent of their former players in Tulsa. It was as if Graham wanted Tulsa to fail following his departure to prove to people that he alone was the reason for Tulsa’s success. Personally, I don’t even blame Graham, who has apparently studied the history of other fat blowhard coaches of overachieving small school teams who thought the grass would be greener in bigger conferences.
Hawkins famously flamed out at Colorado while his successor at Boise State, Chris Petersen, went on to lead the Broncos to much greater heights than Hawkins ever had. Hawkins is now head coach at Division III school Williamette, where I’m sure he’d hold a defensive coordinator position for Graham if he wanted it.
But why, you ask. Why would Graham hurt the player who is arguably the biggest reason behind million dollar raise?
While posing this question to one of Graham’s close friends, who wished to remain anonymous, I found out that Graham’s favorite off-season activity is baby seal-clubbing. Said the source:
“Yeah, he’ll go out, smash a few baby seals. He’s sick, he doesn’t even sell the skins, he just does it for fun, says it makes him feel powerful. I think in the end Damaris was just another baby seal for Todd to club.”
I asked my tipster how Todd Graham could have pulled off such an elaborate frame-job. There was no indication of Graham’s involvement anywhere in the police report, and Graham has yet to even be interviewed by Tulsa Police.
“Well, if his past accomplishments are any indication, he probably hired an assistant with a brilliant scheme to pull off the miracle for him. I guess the only difference now is that he probably won’t be taking the credit for this one. Honestly, this isn’t even the first frame job Graham has pulled off, remember Dana Holgorsen?”
Todd Graham remains at large with his accomplice, known only as one Giant Ego. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Todd Graham please leave that in the comments. Graham was last seen in South Bend, Indiana, demanding that the Notre Dame administration declare last year’s Tulsa game the worst loss in Notre Dame history.
So, I guess I should be writing about Tulsa’s season opening football contest against top ranked Oklahoma, but I won’t. Nor will I discuss how one of the best Tulsa players ever was arrested for embezzlement and will miss that game. I have a different, though perhaps more frivolous tale of disappointment to share with you today, and it involves a little company that goes by the name Datavis.
As you may know, two weeks ago HP announced they were going to pull out of the computer hardware business altogether, and would be liquidating their stock of the heavily promoted (yet horribly selling) Touchpad tablet computers at firesale prices, $99 for a 16GB model to be exact. Given that iPads start at $500 and HP spent over $300 each to produce these things, people went a bit nuts over the news. Black Friday type lines formed out of stores, and online sales systems of many suppliers went insane, many selling far more Touchpads than were in stock.
Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, and even HP itself oversold their actual supply in hours, while most of the Touchpads that did get picked up for $99 seemed to be resold pretty quickly at prices between $250 and $300 on eBay. After missing the initial rush to grab up the $99 items, I was alerted by a friend (and fellow internet entrepreneur/operator of the website FatDeals.net) to the existence of an eBay seller, Datavis_sales, that was offering Touchpads for $119, a mere $20 markup. I thought to myself that $20 didn’t seem that unreasonable to avoid all the nonsense, and it would be nice to have my own tablet so that I would be able to stop using Morgan’s iPad constantly. I pulled the trigger and made the purchase, one of 8000+ units “sold” by Datavis.
I looked up some information on Datavis (I had never heard of them and wanted to make sure I didn’t just send my money down a black hole) and they seemed to be a legitimate reseller of electronics with a brick and mortar store in New York City. Furthermore, their eBay store claimed that 99% of items sold shipped the next day. Good enough for me.
Two days pass, and I receive this email (feel free to skip it if you just want to get the jist of what happened):
We would first like to thank you for your purchase of the HP TouchPad over the weekend. As I am sure you saw, the item sold out almost immediately. This will be the first of a series of email notifications and status updates in order for you receive the latest and most up to date status on the order without having to phone or email our systems.As of 5pm EST on 8/23, we anticipate shipping these towards the end of this week.We have freight tracking # from HP with enough orders so that everyone will receive their complete order.For those that ordered 10, 50, or 100, they will be PARTIALLY filled this week, and the balance FILLED most likely next week. It is the only fair thing to do, as we are assuring that everyone will get their FULL order without any canceling.Currently the order process will be the following:-Over the next day or two, we will start the “Invoicing” stage. This is when our systems take your order status from “Active/Open” to the packing stage.-Following the Invoicing, a shipping label will be created, and emailed to you.*Please note, when you receive this email notice, it is GREAT NEWS, as it means it is almost out the door.Also, the tracking # will NOT scan right away, so please do not panic or get concerned.We have to start the order flow now, as the multiple shipping stations can only print invoices/receipts/tracking decals but so fast.Based on the timing, it is the best scenario for you to get your item(s) fastest.Thank you for your patience as we have been literally bombarded with calls, emails, and website hits.We are doing our very best to process each call and email, and apologize for any delay.In order for us to focus on order processing, we would kindly request you send emails if there are any urgent request, as we can handle them much faster.If you do need to cancel for any reason, we can certainly honor this request. Please reply with the following:Order #Payment IDuser nicknameemail addressName*If you have made a request to cancel already, you should see that process and refund in the next 12 hours or so.Thank you once again,**There will be future emails with updates. You may also want to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see current statuses.Finally, we completely understand your situation in wanting this product as timely as possible. We certainly hope that once we deliver your TouchPad, you will take consider the fact we followed through on the order completely, as opposed to other retailers canceling orders with simple apologies.You deserve the item you ordered, at the incredible price paid, and we intend to deliver for you. All of our sites, and marketplaces received over 10,000 orders in total, and it has simply been overwhelming.Thank you once again for your continued patience, and please reply to this email only if you need to cancel.
This should be the 1st of what we hope are 2 updates today. Please bear in mind that several of our mail order employees have had to move out of low lying areas in New York, as Hurricane Irene approaches. Also, Mayor Bloomberg has ordered a halt to the subways and bus systems today, so we are unable to staff the phone systems today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday)
Please keep that in mind as we encourage few replies unless there is an emergency to this email, as nobody will be able to access it for several days, thus creating a “Hurricane of emails”.
This distribution list was the original buyers. Those that shipped, you may find some of the below interesting, especially if you wish to purchase more. If you have already canceled and would like to buy again, you may also want to read.
We are certainly aware of the update emailed last Monday about the ETA and the turnaround time on these. Certainly in a perfect world, everything would have held true to form. Many of you have already received tracking, and maybe even the Touchpad itself. The second batch of shipment tracking labels will be created starting on Monday.
For those who are not following the discussion on Facebook, here is a quick overall explanation of what has transpired, why, and what is going on this coming week. We will also address for those who have canceled, or even want to buy more down the road what we and HP have down the line.
If you have not joined, will certainly keep you updated as we know more onl, Facebook, and Twitter.
In regard to posting, we encourage productive comments only. The threats, colluding to unite negative feedbacks, and of the like will simply not be tolerated and will get anyone’s order processed faster. Thank you for understanding.———The way HP works for LARGE inventory is they allocate goods in distributor warehouses for US. We stock 99% of the items, including touchpads. The extended quantities are sometimes offered on hotter items as we have allocation and we can utilize their warehouse space. In a normal situation, including high volume shipping times like Christmas, we are certainly able to “drop ship” large quantities of items immediately without a hitch.When the floodgates opened on Saturday (with no notice from HP), we sold this massive # in a short time. When we went to pull our stock, the distributors did not want to ship, though our goods were PAID for and confirmed. It took longer than expected and letters sent from our legal team, but the money was deducted from our account x 9500 units, which COVERS ALL OF YOU, ebay and website orders. Touchpads are in route and we will post a copy of our Bill of Lading as proof hopefully today. (update, we still hope today, Saturday to post this). Lastly, with regard to more units after the committed batch. We believe we will get 1 last shot of them as HP is building more. YES they do cost more than $80-$90 and everyone that HP sold for $99 was a loss. You will get your item AT THE CHEAPER PRICE YOU PAID. The next batch will be considerably more. We do not know the higher price, but please also keep that in mind when complaining. Once again, thank you once again. This is one in a million $*#& storm that nobody could ever predict. Keep in mind we are a direct national HP Authorized dealer. HP advertises in our 5th Avenue window with a massive display. They are behind us in every way possible, are aware of the situation with all of you, and are working with us to resolve this as fast as possible.——I will also address some frequently asked questions:1. Why did you sell something you did not have?Again, this inventory was allocated to US and nobody else. When we went to pull it from distribution, we were not filled. This was simply out of our control, but we do have the units coming to cover the orders. See our track history on ebay, Amazon, etc. We fill 99.9% of our orders, are Top Rated Merchants on ebay and have 95% positive reviews on Amazon. Simply put, we deliver, we are authorized dealers, and we care about each customer.2. When will we receive our tracking number?We have freight tracking # from HP with enough orders so that everyone will receive their complete order.For those that ordered 5,10, 50, or 100, they will be PARTIALLY filled this week of August 29, and the balance FILLED most likely next week. It is the only fair thing to do, as we are assuring that everyone will get their FULL order without any canceling.3. What does the status mean?New and Active are actively in the shipment creation process.Complete, means it has been completed and shipped to you.4. Why is my card charged, and I have not been shipped yet?If you paid by a 3rd Party Payment system, (PayPal or Amazon Payments) you are initiating the payment. If you feel as though you would prefer a refund, simply let us know and we will gladly cancel.5. Can I change my delivery address?
We are only able to ship to the address provided on the order. However, we are able to refund your payment, take a repayment from the “new” correct address and you WILL NOT LOSE your space in line or order.6. When will your tablets be back on hand to pack up?They are coming in each day, however the bulk amount which will satisfy each customer has already been shipped. It was shipped from Florida, so we do not anticipate any extra delays from receiving the shipment due to Hurricane Irene. We will do our best to post later today a screenshot/tracking#/ or something of the like to show everyone we are not “blowing smoke” as well as give a more hard date.7. We ran a promo on thise piece at 3-4x the price many of you paid. Several of those customers did not want the Touchpad when they heard the news and are returning new, sealed, never opened units.As fast as those new sealed returns come back, they will reship to you. We anticipate another few hundred of those to fill to the pending orders as well. Honestly, $119 to surf the web, check mail, listen to music is a “no brainer”. You all certainly recogize a price point to make this unit worthy!8. Another option for some customers.We are also receiving a shot of 32GB versions. At this point we do not know how many, or the exact date. We will send this list an email when they are available to order, as we feel you deserve first crack.I would just like to thank each and every one of your for your patience. Many of you also deserve an additional thanks based on your sensidble, understanding, compassionate and supportive comments which have been posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc. In 22 years of retail, we have never seen anything like this.Many of you never heard of DataVision prior to this. We certainly understand this, and are doing everything humanly possible to make sure you all get your orders, are communicated as best as possible, and everyone is taken care of. There are many sellers out there simply deleting orders, feeling there is nothing they can do. Again, we are NOT canceling 1 order, unless requested by the customer. We intend to not only fill these, but come out in the end as someone you can trust, and depend on.We sincerely mean every word we say. We intend to follow through with every order. Yes, it will be delayed from when you expected it, but there were circumstances out of our control. I have seen public petitions for national retailers who canceled 20,000 orders. It is a disaster for many, but we hope not for us. Each of you will end up with an incredible 10″ Touchpad, at a rock bottom price.As an added note, though HP is discontinuing the tablet, they have just announced some App Discounts. Please see this here - http://blog.palm.com/palm/2011/08/6-pack.htmlIf you need to cancel for any reason, we can certainly honor this request. Please reply with the following:Order #Payment IDuser nicknameemail addressName*If you have made a request to cancel already, you should see that process and refund in the next 12 hours or so.Thank you once again,**There will be future emails with updates. You may also want to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see current statuses.Finally, we completely understand your situation in wanting this product as timely as possible. We certainly hope that once we deliver your TouchPad, you will take consider the fact we followed through on the order completely, as opposed to other retailers canceling orders with simple apologies.You deserve the item you ordered, at the incredible price paid, and we intend to deliver for you. All of our sites, and marketplaces received over 10,000 orders in total, and it has simply been overwhelming.Thank you once again for your continued patience, and please reply to this email only if you need to cancel.DataVision Computer Video
Valued DataVision Customer,
You have been incredibly patient through the entire ordering process for the HP Touchpad, and for that, we are appreciative beyond what words can describe.
We received another round of unfavorable news today regarding the inbound shipments of the Touchpads. We can not express how sorry we are to have to share this news with you. While detailing the past week’s events below, we kindly request you read through them and understand the entire picture before forming an opinion of us.
To help rectify the situation, we will be doing the following:
-On Thursday, September 8, you will be receiving a coupon valued up to $50 directly from eBay for your inconvenience. The unique code will come from eBay directly to your email address registered on file within your account.
-On Wednesday, August 31, we will process all refunds for those that did not receive their product. We felt best option would be to refund each cusotmer as opposed to holding on totheir funds any longer.
-We received a few more Touchpads and will process those shipments on Wednedsay, August 31st.
-We still have plenty of units on order, and hope to receive more as HP produces them. We will of course email you directly when they arrive and give you the option to making the purchase.
We hope you consider our overall ratings and reviews which are “Top Tier” on the major marketplaces before you leave yours. A situation like this can be devastating to our business. Though we understand you were inconvenienced and product not delivered, we wanted you to know that this situation is certainly out of the norm, could not be expected, and we have attempted to communicate as much as humanly possible to you. Also, you will note we are going a few steps beyond the other major retailers that simply deleted orders, and moved on. Though this sale never completed, we still think of you as customers and we care about each and every one of you. We will not stop at the canceled order.
Thank you once again for your time, patience, input, suggestions, comments, and enthusiasm. We are so appreciative of all of you, and thank you once again for the chance, and the faith you had in us to deliver this item. This catastrophe was simply out of our control and could never have been predicted. We have never seen anything like this in 25 years of being in business.
DataVision Computer Video
Please read below if you would like more information on what has transpired over the past week.
On Saturday 8/20, our email box was flooded with requests for courtesy refunds for prior purchases of the HP Touchpad, based on a price drop. We sold approximately 500 units this month at the normal price of $399 each . After reading a few of the emails, we asked who was offering this price. Numerous replies were sent stating that HP had drop their price to $99. At that moment we contacted HP to find out how much they would reimburse us per unit, so we could immediately pass that on to our concerned customers. At the same time, we questioned the price on new units to purchase, as no announcement was made by HP of any price change to them. The price was not known at that point (approximately 11am EST) how much more units would cost.
There have been many comments claiming we knew in advance of this price drop. We will link below to a purchase order we had confirmed on 8/20, at a much higher price than the $99 price point. As you can see, this was unannounced to HP’s retail partners, and there was not even enough notice for the distributors to adjust their pricing. On the next link, you will see we were confirmed on 7000 units, at a price OVER retail. Click Here for a link to the purchase order confirmation and price. *We blocked out the distributor’s name and our account # for obvious reasons.
On Monday this same distributor wanted to hold our order, even though it was confirmed and our credit lines allocated. HP gave authorization for this distributor to ship the pending units, as you can see in the email below.
We found out later these units never did process.
Link to portion of the email correspondence. This email was from HP directly instructing the distributor to ship the units to us.
At that time, we realized the continued demand for the Touchpad, so we secured more units from every channel we could. Our second confirmed purchase was at the “second” distributor for a total of 4,000 units. The below screen shot is their confirmation. As you can see there were no back-orders. Again, I have omitted their company name for obvious reasons.
Our third confirmation of a 5600 units was on Monday evening as well.
Link to 5600 units
This is a 17 page confirmation document based on them needing to break up the payments in batches totaling under $99K each. I took a screen shot of 1 portion of the order, and the final confirmation page as well.
You will also see a copy of our credit card statement showing the money being charged.
Though we currently have over 16,000 units ordered, no significant number of units has been transported to us even after being promised several times by each company. We understand the position you are in, by unfortunately having your order canceled. We simply hope you empathize with our situation that we were literally lied to by three separate companies on the timing and confirmations of the shipments.
OK, game over, I get it. You never had a tracking number, you never had the units, and even though 99% of everybody else’s Touchpad orders were cancelled due to overselling, you decided to guarantee that you would not cancel anybody’s orders, possibly because you thought you placed magical orders that could never fall through.
Suddenly, I wsn’t feeling so generous about those things for which I had previously given Datavis a pass. Now they had violated eBay’s terms of service because they wanted to make a quick buck while hype was high. Now the delays seemed to be an intentional way to keep us from placing orders elsewhere and cancelling theirs, why else would they lie about the tracking number? Now Datavis was just another sleazy Nigerian advance fee fraudster, holding onto hundreds of thousands of dollars for two weeks and giving nothing in return. I know that doesn’t technically make this an advance fee scam, but I assumed they used the money they held to fund a company that deals exclusively in Nigeria-based advanced fee fraud, which is why I can make the claim.
But wait, weren’t they offering a $50 gift card for my trouble, didn’t they say “On Thursday, September 8, you will be receiving a coupon valued up to $50 directly from eBay for your inconvenience.” Turns out, the key words are “up to,” and instead of this being a gift certificate that you could cash in, it was a mere 20% off coupon for the very store that had just failed so spectacularly in satisfying the customers it was reaching out to.
I think Datavis knew how this looked, and the more I looked at it, the more their email read more like the pleas of a villain that had been caught at the end of a long action movie, only instead of begging for their life, Datavis was begging not to get 6000 negative feedbacks on eBay. As of this writing, they are only at 316 negative feedbacks in the last month, so they may have managed to dodge the bulk of the scorn they rightfully deserved, but there’s still plenty of time. If you want some inspiration for what to write in your negative eBay feedback, here is a screen capture of Datavis’ recent feedback from my iPhone:
In any event I am now obsessed with the idea of getting my own non-Apple tablet, and the ASUS eeePad Transformer caught my eye. I could use it to replace my current ASUS netbook (which I love, but at two years old is sadly showing its age in the amount of time it takes to write one of these posts) as well as serve as a tablet. There’s a new version of the eeePad out next month, so I may try to pick one up if I wind up missing out on the next shipment of cheap Touchpads that HP is producing to finish off their already purchased parts. I’ll let you know how that goes.
With the assistance of billionaire Mark Cuban, Presidents of 46 former NCAA member universities struck a historic accord Wednesday night, forming their own governing body dubbed simply “The Alliance”. The move codifies what many have observed to be a shift towards treating popular athletic programs as profit centers.
The Alliance will be a semi-professional sports league involving former NCAA member institutions from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Play in new league is set to begin in 2012. The news came as a shock to college football fans as well as the administrations of many of the 74 remaining Bowl Subdivision schools left out.
“This is nothing but a blatant money-grab,” exclaimed Baylor University President Ken Starr. “We’ve made plenty of money playing by the same rules for over a hundred years, there no reason to De-amateurize.”
Reports later surfaced that the Baylor administration had been told that it was going to be the 47th team admitted to The Alliance up until the official announcement in an apparent attempt to keep the arrangement a secret.
The new league will operate under many of the same principles of the NCAA, with some major changes. Scholarships will still be given out as reward for players who wish to retain their amateur status, but contracts worth up to $200,000 per year will also be offered as an alternative.
“To be honest, I think most players will opt for the contracts” said Oklahoma Head Football Coach Bob Stoops. “Most of these kids I recruit don’t have any real desire to sit in class, and a few hundred thousand for a young kid out of high school is a big deal. Personally I don’t like it, but times are changing, and I think we have to face that. College football is about to look more like the NFL: Bigger, Faster and Dumber.”
The 46 member Alliance struck a closed door deal with ESPN which will reportedly boost revenue for member schools between $30 and 40 million dollars annually, in many cases tripling or even quadrupling current television rights revenues. Factoring in an average payroll of $50,000 per player and 100 players, the league set a salary cap of $5 million dollars per year, making the annual return on increased television revenue alone an astonishing 600%. Cuban claimed this was a major selling point for the Presidents in this statement released by his office:
“The point of The Alliance was for these schools sitting on billion dollar endowments to find an investment strategy that utilized their natural assets. The point I made was that if you’re Alabama or Oklahoma, why in the world would you be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an increasingly weak stock market when you could invest that money into your sports programs and create massive returns. The only thing keeping these guys from tapping the full value of their football program are the silly self-imposed restrictions of the NCAA.” -Mark Cuban
When reached for comment, Cuban said he got the idea while listening to criticism of the former Bowl Championship Series, which had previously guaranteed certain conference champions a spot in lucrative high-payout bowl games. “I was sitting there listening to everyone pound on the BCS, claiming it was some sort of Cartel. I thought to myself, ‘Aren’t cartels supposed to make sure they take all the money off the table?’ No playoffs, hangers-on like Wake Forest and Northwestern getting undeserved cuts of the money, and a product where the value is unnecessarily hampered by self imposed rules? In business this is what we would call low hanging fruit.”
Cuban’s rhetoric certainly found the ear of school presidents, many of whom pledged to invest their personal funds into the effort in the event they couldn’t secure an investment from their school’s endowment.
This is a developing story, tune back to see a full list of Alliance schools as well as comment from NCAA president Mark Emmert. CorndogCountry will have more on this story as it develops.