Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's safe, Bills fans, to board the bandwagon again

Some skeptics remain, their disbelief understandably hardened by an 11-year playoff drought and the tease of 2008 when the Bills started 4-0 and finished with nine losses in their final 12 games.

But the legions of doubters are dwindling dramatically each week as this motley crew of overachievers pile up the points and rewrite history with comebacks that defy logic.

After watching Ryan Fitzpatrick & Co. emerge from the crater they dug themselves against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Sunday to improve to 3-0, I left the ranks of the skeptical and climbed aboard the bandwagon.

And unlike three years ago I don’t believe I’m going to be nursing sprained ankles from having to jump off of it.

Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. Remember ’08, remember ’08. But the comparisons with that season just aren’t valid.

That was a team coached by Dick Jauron, quarterbacked by Trent Edwards and riding the runs of Marshawn Lynch.

This is a team coached by Chan Gailey, quarterbacked by Fitzpatrick and riding the runs and receptions of Fred Jackson.

Need I say more?

When I look back at that team and that start and how I, like so many others, was duped into thinking the corner had been turned, I realize that torrid start was merely a mirage. Jauron clearly didn’t have what it took to be a successful NFL head coach. Edwards was never the same quarterback after being KO’d by the Arizona Cardinals, and Lynch lacked the intelligence, grit, versatility and consistency of Steady Freddie.

In other words, those Bills were counterfeit. These Bills are real.

Gailey is as fine a play-caller as there is in the game. But beyond that, he is a respected leader who has convinced his players to believe in him, the game plan, and most importantly, themselves.

It was nice to see the past embrace the present at last Sunday’s riveting win at the Ralph.

There was Jim Kelly, waving the big Bills flag before the game and singing the praises of Fitz afterwards.

There was Thurman Thomas interrupting Jackson’s presser to give him a big bear hug at the podium.

There was Van Miller, the retired Voice of the Bills providing some unexpected play-by-play for all to hear in the press box. When Rian Lindell’s game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, Van the Man boomed, “Take that New England,’’ undoubtedly echoing the sentiments of all the Bills fans and players who had endured 15 straight losses to the Patriots.

Yes, it’s still very early. The Bills have many flaws and injuries, and bad bounces can change fortunes in a hurry. But I really believe the corner has been turned. I think this bandwagon is bound for the playoffs, not the junk yard.

Fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the ride.


Sunday’s game in Cincinnati has been called a trap game. The feeling is the Bills will be overlooking the 1-2 Bengals and instead be looking ahead to next week’s heavily anticipated matchup with the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles in Orchard Park. I really don’t think that will be the case. Yes, the Bills have enjoyed some long overdue prosperity this season, and are receiving love from near and far, but they haven’t forgotten last year’s 0-8 start. Guys like Jackson, Fitz and Chris Kelsay will help keep them grounded. Call it Buffalo 30, Cincy 13.


Through three games, Fitzpatrick has followed the trend of slow start, fast finish. His pass efficiency rating from the first-through-fourth-quarter reads: 75.3; 82.3; 120.7 and 131.1. His completion percentage in the final quarter is 12 percent higher than it is in the other three quarters.


I think it’s great that Bills cornerback Drayton Florence graces the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. There are still some who subscribe to the SI cover jinx theory. Yes, there have been a number of subjects who have experienced bad luck following their cover appearances. But the reality is that the vast majority of cover subjects experience continued success after receiving the national exposure.


Wicked week for Boston fans, huh? First, they watch Brady blow a 21-point lead for the first time in his magnificent career. Then, they witness their Red Sox miss the playoffs, completing the biggest collapse in baseball history.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I love what Fitzpatrick has done, but I need to see he and the Bills beat an elite team before becoming euphoric about them

Euphoric, victory-starved Bills fans have begun asking, “Who needs Luck when you have Fitzmagic?”

The references, of course, are to current Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andrew Luck, the Stanford University senior signal-caller who is destined to be the Heisman Trophy winner this December and the No. 1 NFL draft pick next April.

Believe me, as someone who has covered this lost decade of Bills football, I understand the fans’ giddiness. They’ve been famished for something, anything positive. And Fitzpatrick, the Harvard graduate who could easily be plying his trade on Wall Street instead of One Bills Drive, has given them reason for hope.

He and his surprising 2-0 Bills are one of the feel-good stories in the early going of this NFL season. His Brady-like numbers – 7 touchdown passes, just one interception, 40 points-per-game – have people in these parts and beyond thinking, maybe, just maybe, the quarterback roulette that’s been playing in Buffalo since Jim Kelly’s retirement 14 years ago is about to stop.

I hope that is indeed the case.

I hope the seventh-round draft pick who went to Harvard after failing to receive a single Division I scholarship offer is about to become the next Kurt Warner – a journeyman who came out of no-where to become an NFL star.

But I still need to see more from Fitz before I start clamoring for a cereal to be named for him.

Fitz, an eminently likeable chap, has guided the Bills to wins in six of his last 10 starts. But he has yet to produce a signature victory against an upper echelon team.

That opportunity presents itself Sunday when unbeaten Buffalo (man, I haven’t written that in awhile) faces the New England Bradys, er, Patriots at the soldout and sure to be rockin’ Ralph.

Tom Brady amazingly has taken his Hall of Fame game to an even higher level with close to 1,000 passing yards through two games. He is completing a mind-boggling 71 percent of his passes.

Of course, we are used to seeing such magnificence from the quarterback with the three Super Bowl rings.

Brady has helped the Pats dominate the Bills, who have lost 15 straight in the series.

The wizards of odds in Vegas have installed New England as touchdown favorites.
Interestingly, as good as the Brady Bunch has been, this is not a team without its flaws. The quarterback’s heavenly play has masked some serious defensive deficiencies. You can definitely throw and run and score on the Pats.

Fitz’s performances against New England last season were a mixed bag. In his first start against them, he was 20-of-28 for 247 yards, two scores and two picks in a 38-30 loss. When he met the Pats again later in the season, he struggled mightily – throwing three picks while compiling a paltry 37.1 quarterback rating in a 34-3 loss.

Credit Bill Belichick, who has a reputation for confusing even the brightest of quarterbacks, for making significant adjustments the second time around.

The best way for the Bills to win will be to control the clock, win the time-of-possession battle, keep Brady off the field. Engaging in a shootout might be entertaining for awhile, but Brady very well could wind up with 600 passing yards against a Bills “D” that still isn’t getting enough pressure on quarterbacks and was burned badly when its defensive backs didn’t compete strongly enough for balls in the air.

Fitz and the Bills have been impressive so far. They bludgeoned a bad football team in the opener the way good football teams are supposed to. And they kept their cool and made a stirring comeback against the Raiders.

New England, though, will be a much sterner test. Should Fitz & Co. pull off an upset, we’ll see giddiness in Bills Nation the likes of which we haven’t seen since Doug Flutie was performing his magic act a decade ago.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Opining on Bills riveting comeback and Syracuse's move to the ACC

There have been many positive developments during the first two games of the season for the Bills, but the one I'm most impressed with is the play of the offensive line.

Consider this: Buffalo's much-maligned line has yielded just one sack in 71 passing attempts and has helped Fred Jackson and Co. rush for 380 yards.

The combo of center Eric Wood, guards Andy Levitre, Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart and tackles Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears didn't back down against Oakland's physical front seven, even after falling behind 21-3 in the first half. Buffalo's front line gave Ryan Fitzpatrick time to stage one of the most thrilling comebacks I've witnessed in more than four decades of following the Bills and opened the door for them to rush for 217 yards.


It's foolhardy, but fun nonetheless to project stats. With that in mind, Fitz is on pace to throw 56 touchdown passes and Action Jackson is on pace to rush for 1,832 yards. Again, you can't expect those things to happen in a physical sport where attrition is high, but it is fun to play with the numbers.


Tight end Scott Chandler continues to make a big difference. He only had two catches for 10 yards and a score vs. the Raiders, but the numbers don't measure the impact he's having even when he isn't targeted. The winning touchdown pass from Fitz to David Nelson was the direct result of Oakland paying extra attention to Chandler in the red zone, which is understandable, considering Chandler had beaten the Raiders for a touchdown earlier and had scored twice in the opener against Kansas City.

Nelson was so open on his six-yard game-winning reception over the middle that he was afraid he might drop the ball. The 6-foot-7 Chandler clearly played a role in causing the blown coverage.


It was too bad that Ralph Wilson had to miss his first home opener in his 52 years as Bills owner. The soon-to-be 93-year-old missed one of the most riveting comebacks in franchise history because he was home in Detroit recuperating from a broken hip. Classy move on the part of Chan Gailey and the team to award a game ball to Ralph.


Nothing, of course, will ever top the comeback from 32 points in the 1993 playoff game against Houston at the stadium then known as Rich. But yesterday's ending was among the best I've ever seen. And what made the game even more thrilling was the way the Raiders kept responding. There were five lead changes in the second half. Extremely entertaining.


I think the big negative from yesterday's game was the Bills pass defense. Despite missing his top four receivers because of injuries, Jason Campbell was able to throw for 323 yards. Buffalo didn't get much pressure on him and the defensive backs lost too many battles for jump balls. The Bills need to shore that up in a hurry or Tom Brady might put 600 yards up on them this Sunday.


I understand why Syracuse had to take the preemptive move and join the Atlantic Coast Conference, but I still don't like the seismic shift going on in the big-money world of big-time college sports.

I'll always have a soft spot for the Big East Conference. SU basketball and the Carrier Dome benefited greatly from its formation and, likewise, the conference benefited greatly from Syracuse's presence.

The ACC membership makes geographic sense, particularly if West Virginia and either UConn or Rutgers are added to the mix. They'll be able to form a northern division that includes Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt, Maryland, West Virginia, Connecticut and possibly, Rutgers.

It certainly will be fun watching Duke and North Carolina make basketball visits to the Dome and Syracuse play regular games on Tobacco Road.

It's pretty obvious where this avaricious world of big-time sports is headed: Four super conferences (Pac 16, Big Ten, ACC and SEC).

As this unfolds, I would like to see hypocritical university presidents refrain from telling us that this is all about aligning their schools with colleges that share similar academic goals. That might be partially true, but the main reason you're doing this is for money.


(For more on yesterday's Bills game, please go to and check out my column and interview with Channel 8's John Kucko from the Ralph.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Opinions on Bills season-ticket sale decline, Syracuse vs. USC and Sabres great promotion

No one should be surprised that Bills season ticket sales have dropped dramatically – from 55,000 two seasons ago to 37,000 this season.

Clearly, the economy is a huge factor – Western New York has been harder hit than most areas of the country. And the Buffalo Sabres – rejuvenated by new owner Terry Pegula and the possibility of a Stanley Cup march – also have taken some business away.

But the biggest reason for the decline has been the cumulative effects of a decade of mediocrity by the Bills. You can’t go 11 seasons without a playoff berth and have just one winning record in that span and expect people to keep coming back for more misery.

The good news is that the Bills could still have a strong season at the gate this year. The keister-whipping performance in the opener at Kansas City last Sunday has fans stoked again. This week’s home opener vs. Oakland is a sell-out and next week’s home game against AFC East kingpin New England is close to being one.

A victory against the Raiders will get Bills fans and ticket-buyers even more fired up. It’s conceivable Buffalo could be 3-1 after the game against the Bengals in Cincy. And that certainly will ensure more sellouts.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon, though, is going to have his work cut out for him in December. The NFL schedule-makers didn’t do the marketing whiz any favors by saddling Buffalo with three home games in a month that traditionally is a difficult sell for fans strapped for cash because of the holiday season.

Of course, if the Bills were still in the playoff hunt in December Brandon’s job would be a lot easier.

I think the Raiders are going to be a much more formidable opponent than the confused Chiefs were. Buffalo is going to face a more serious challenge attempting to bottle-up running back Darren McFadden, and the Bills are going to need to establish the run and control the ball the way they did in Kansas City.

Two things are working in Buffalo’s favor. The Raiders played on Monday night, meaning they have less time to heal and prepare for the Bills. And teams going coast-to-coast are historically at a distinct disadvantage, a trend borne out by the fact Oakland is just 2-7 in East coast games the past three years.

Speaking of going coast-to-coast, Syracuse is a 17-point underdog on the road this Saturday night against the University of Southern California. And that might be a conservative spread. I think we could be seeing a lot of connections between NFL-bound quarterback Matt Barkley and NFL-bound wide receiver Robert Woods.

If you are looking for silver linings, the Orange men were 5-1 on the road last season, and won in Morgantown, W.V., one of the tougher places to visit because of the fans’ hostility.

SU hasn’t won a game on the West Coast since crushing Heisman Trophy-winner Gary Beban and UCLA, 32-14. Larry Csonka ran rough-shod over the Bruins that day.

What a great idea having Pegula and his star players serve as couriers and deliver season-tickets to Sabres fans yesterday. Other NHL teams have done this in the past. I wish all sports owners and their teams would follow suit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ruminating on Bills win, baseball's foolish decision and Syracuse football

The more I see and hear from Fred Jackson the more I’m impressed. Following the Bills annihilation of the Chiefs in Kansas City Sunday in which the veteran running back rushed for more than 100 yards, he lent some perspective. “It was just one game,’’ he said. “We didn’t win the Super Bowl.”

Given the abyss the Bills have been in for more than a decade, it’s understandable to become giddy and maybe overreact a bit when things go well. I do believe they are a much improved football team from a year ago, and I can see them beating Oakland at home this week and Cincinnati in two weeks (after losing to the New England Bradys in Week III.)

Hey, 3-1 would be a great start. But even if that happens, Buffalo isn’t going to the playoffs this year. I think most rational fans understand that. But a 7-9 or 8-8 record isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and that would be a significant improvement from last year and an indication that the Chan Gailey/Ryan Fitzpatrick/Buddy Nix trio has the ship headed in the right direction.

The big thing I would like to see is for the Bills to remain relevant until late in the season for a change.


(By the way, you can read my Bills blog and watch my television interview with Thad Brown about the opening-game victory at Once on the website, just click on the icon bearing my ugly mug and it should take you to the column and interview. Like last year, I’ll be doing blogs and interviews with sportscasters/friends John Kucko, Cory Hepola and Thad after each Bills game. Please check it out on the web or catch us on the Sunday 10 o’clock news on WUHF-TV 31 or the 11 o’clock news on WROC-TV 8.)


Watching Brady torch the Miami Dolphins for 517 yards and four touchdowns last night was a sobering reminder that the Patriots domination of Buffalo probably will continue.


Major League Baseball just doesn’t get it. The New York Mets players wanted to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 Sunday night by wearing hats representing first responders (NYPD, NYFD) during the game, but the commissioner’s office threatened heavy fines.

You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. For one night, you couldn’t put away your stodgy rules to allow a New York City team to pay a fitting tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives that tragic day.


Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given who’s running the show.


Congratulations to Ryan Callahan for being named captain of the New York Rangers. He and fellow Rochesterian Brian Gionta (Montreal Canadiens) will be wearing the traditional “C” on their hockey jerseys this season. That speaks legions about them as individuals, but also reflects positively on the type of hockey players our proud burg produces. Bravo.


Syracuse football is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1999. The Orange men have looked shaky, but would you rather be 2-0 against two relatively weak opponents or have suffered two heart-breaking losses to strong teams, a la Notre Dame?

SU is a long ways away from being a football power and is looking at a huge challenge Saturday night in the L.A. Coliseum against a USC offense that has the potential of putting up 40-to-50 points on a defense that puts scant pressure on the quarterback.

And the following week back at the Carrier Dome doesn’t figure to be a cakewalk either. Toldeo comes to town and before you snicker, realize this: Toledo almost beat Ohio State last week.

I still like the direction that Doug Marrone has the program headed, but Syracuse remains very much a work in progress.


I was absolutely mesmerized watching yesterday’s U.S. Open men’s tennis championships between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. You talk about two incredible athletes. The shots they were hitting at times defied logic.


Don’t look now, but the Tampa Bay Rays are only three games behind Boston for the Wild Card berth. And the Rays have several games remaining with the Red Sox and the Yankees. We might have a pennant – or at least a Wild Card - race after all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My search for sports meaning in the aftermath of 9/11

In the days and weeks following that horrific September day 10 years ago, I spent a lot of time soul-searching.

I began questioning whether I should continue to devote my life to writing about sports. The atrocities of 9/11 had made the games people play seem so insignificant, so irrelevant. I felt it might be time to do something more meaningful.

I remember bumping into David Hunke, the kind-hearted publisher of my former newspaper, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, in the cafeteria a few days after the terrorist attacks changed our world forever. A kind-hearted man who actually cared about his newsroom, Hunke could see that I was stressed and asked me to come up to his office and chat. I told him I was having a difficult time writing about such inane matters as who should start at left tackle for the Buffalo Bills in the aftermath of 9/11.

I said that I didn’t believe sports mattered to me anymore. Hunke said he understood completely, telling me that he and many others were involved in similar introspection, wondering if what they were doing was relevant. He advised me to give it a little time before making the decision to bag a career that I had devoted my heart and soul to since I was a teenager.

Over the next several weeks, I continued to struggle. I sought out human-interest stories that had always been my niche in hopes they would help me get back on track.

I wrote a column about former Rochester Red Wings player and current Rochester firefighter named Rey Palacios, who grew up in Brooklyn not far from the World Trade Center and who knew several of the first-responders killed that fateful day. I wrote about Bills-offensive-lineman-turned-commercial-airlines-pilot Jim Ritcher, who wanted to return to the cockpit as quickly as he could to show the terrorists they hadn’t won. And I spoke to fans at the first Bills home game following 9/11 to gage the meaning of sports in time of tragedy.

Ultimately, though, it took an 11-year-old boy, a baseball team in pinstripes and a wounded but resilient city of millions to convince me that sports could be relevant, even in the worst of times.

That 11-year-old – now a 21-year-old – was my son, Christopher, who convinced me over the protestations of his mother to take him to Game Three of the 2011 World Series at Yankee Stadium, a scant 10 miles north of the ruins of Ground Zero.

Below, I’ve reprinted the column I wrote off that experience that appeared on Nov. 1, 2001.

It was a trip we’ll obviously never forget.

One that convinced me that sports could have a powerful galvinizing impact, and that somehow, some way we’d all get back on our feet after the atrocities of one of the worst days in American history.


NEW YORK - My son Christopher greeted the purchase of two World Series tickets with a gleeful leap that would have made Derek Jeter proud.

My wife wasn't nearly as gung-ho.

With the warning that a new wave of terrorist attacks might occur at any time, she was deeply concerned, as I was, that Tuesday's World Series game at packed Yankee Stadium before a national television audience would be a prime target.

It was only after Christopher, a sometimes wise-beyond-his-years 11-year-old, convinced us not to give into fear that she reluctantly agreed to let us go.

As we drove from Rochester to the south Bronx on Tuesday, I felt many emotions. A part of me was euphoric because I realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience - one of those unforgettable moments between a father and a son. I wanted so much for it to be like one of those MasterCard commercials: priceless.

But a part of me also was a tad apprehensive. Was I doing the right thing? Or was I jeopardizing the welfare of my child and myself?

The longer I drove, the better I felt. I knew that with President Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and with security at the stadium and above it beefed up, the old ballpark at the corner of 161st and River Avenue might just be the safest place in America.

Crossing the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York, I pointed to the Empire State Building in midtown, then to the tip of Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood. Christopher's eyes were transfixed. After parking in the Yankee Stadium garage, we took the No. 4 train to Wall Street, just blocks from Ground Zero.

The subway cars were stuffed with workers and students, and that was good to see, because it told Christopher and me that, despite the atrocities of Sept. 11, New Yorkers were forging on as best they could.

Emerging from the subway tunnel, we were greeted by an indescribable odor and a dusty haze that seared our nostrils and made our eyes watery and red. The area within four blocks of the crumpled skyscrapers was cordoned off, but we could hear the roar of cranes, dump trucks and bulldozers.

After walking the streets for about 30 minutes, we boarded the No. 4 uptown to Yankee Stadium. I doubt either of us will ever forget that pungent odor.

The atmosphere at the Stadium was slightly more subdued than for previous World Series I had attended. There seemed to be as many cops as fans, but that was OK with me.

I bought my son a sweatshirt and a program, and we tailgated at our car, before walking through metal detectors and heading for our seats near the top row of the upper deck on the first-base side.

The game was tightly contested and quite entertaining. To my son's delight, Roger Clemens pitched brilliantly and the slumping Scott Brosius delivered a clutch hit to lead the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But those won't be the lasting memories.

Years from now, I'll remember seeing the president throw out the first pitch to thundering chants of "U.S.A. ! U.S.A. !"

Years from now, I'll remember joining 56,000 others in the singing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. My eyes welled as Yankee Stadium became the world's biggest choir. The tears were not caused by the frigid wind.

Driving across the GW Bridge on the way home, I stole a glance at the Empire State Building, which had been lighted in Yankees blue, and at my son, who was asleep in the back seat. I thanked God for keeping us safe and for giving us the opportunity to share this special time.

I recalled a sign I had seen at the Stadium. It read: THE USA WILL NOT GIVE INTO FEAR - PLAY BALL!

It sounded like something my occasionally wise-beyond-his-years son would have told me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

We of little faith bailed out on SU's comeback

When we were students at Syracuse University in the 1970s, my good friend, Ed Shaw, and I would dutifully attend every SU home football game at the antiquated concrete monstrosity known as Archbold Stadium.

We fancied ourselves as diehard fans (though others viewed us as somewhat deranged and masochistic) because we would sit, kickoff to final gun, through the losses that usually transpired, often in raw, inclement weather.

There was one game in particular during our senior year when we and about 10,000 other fools sat through a chilly, game-long, torrential downpour. Fortunately, our loyalty/stupidity was rewarded when Dave Jacobs somehow managed to kick a field goal in the quagmire for a 3-0 victory against “football powerhouse” Tulane. We thought for sure that ugly, muddy game was destined to end in a scoreless tie.

Ed and I often boasted about our dedication to a floundering football program that was making the painful transition from Ben Schwartzwalder to Frank Maloney and from old Archie to the Carrier Dome. Heck, we joked, anybody can follow Penn State or Ohio State or USC. But it takes real character to keep coming back for more punishment when your team is wallowing in mediocrity. It got to the point where Ed and I would razz fellow students for leaving games early or not showing up at all. "Hey, where’s your school spirit?" we’d ask.

During the autumns that have ensued, my former college roommate and I have continued this tradition of reuniting for at least one SU home football game per season. It just so happened that our schedules were open for last night’s 2011 season-opener against Wake Forest in the Dome.

The reason I bring all of this up is that we were among the 15,000 to 20,000 fans who gave up on the Orange men a quarter and an overtime too soon.

Yes, the same guys who endured so much bad football and crappy Syracuse weather through the years wound up being momentarily un-true to their school. We bolted with SU trailing by 15 late in the third, the lure of some more tailgating and two mighty fine cigars obviously stronger than our belief that Doug Marrone’s charges would somehow muster a comeback.

As we smoked our stogies – a stinky, bonding ritual we childishly partake of once or twice a year – we stood near my car listening to the play-by-play of the game blasting from the radio. As Matt Park described the cardiac ‘Cuse comeback that was unfolding, we were half tempted to snuff out our cigars and hike back up the Hill to see if we could re-enter the sauna-like Dome for the dramatic finish.

But we didn’t want to risk altering the good karma, so we stayed put and listened excitedly as the Orange men put the finishing touches on a 36-29 overtime victory against Wake Forest.

Not long after the victory, we watched hundreds of loud, orange-clad students fill the streets near M Street, the campus hotbed. The SU marching band soon joined in the festivities, playing the fight song. Cars were honking horns. The school spirit was nice to see.

We made sure we told people passing by that we were smoking victory cigars, a la legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach, in honor of the SU win.

We conveniently, however, forgot to mention that we bailed out on one of the great comebacks in recent SU history.