Olympic cauldron gains little attention

By Chad Upton | Aug 08, 2011

In the middle of several parking lots that sit near Turner Field in Atlanta, a symbol so proud and enduring just sits in wait.  It is the Olympic Cauldron of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.  
After the Games, the Atlanta Braves didn’t want it and it was moved several hundred yards away from where it sat as part of the Olympic Stadium, later retrofitted for baseball.  
Now as you walk by, or drive underneath the structure, it seems oddly out of place. No circus or fanfare, no plagues or annual celebrations. ..Nothing.
Now is the time to change all of that.  The city of Atlanta should take a look at placing the cauldron where it once stood, or better yet, in an area that attractions a good deal of attention.  
Perhaps the Georgia Aquarium or Stone Mountain Park.  At least there folks could see it in its glory and remember that it stood for solidarity, peace and so much more.  
It is a symbol of what can be done when hearts and minds are put into the right place.  Isn’t this what the Olympics are all about?
And  I’d love to see the cauldron lit during special cultural events in the southeast, Georgia, and Atlanta.  Can you imagine having the torch lit during a World Series, or Superbowl? It could mean so much more...Let’s hope it can again.

Win for Menard Long Overdue
It was something that no one really saw coming, at least not here on this stage.  In one of the marquee events of the NASCAR schedule, Paul Menard became the fourth first time winner during the 2011 season.
Menard, son of billionaire home improvement store mogul John Menard, had only one win in the NASCAR Nationwide series and was often criticized for being only able to drive in NASCAR’s top circuit  because he (and his father) could afford the sponsorship dollars.  
That certainly doesn’t hurt things. Still, you have to be able to do more that just turn left to win.  Other critics will say that Menard won because of pit strategy and fuel millage.  
I’ll say this...Better him than the same characters that win every week.  Most folks know that I have been critical of NASCAR in the past because of the lack of parity that seems to exist.  Beyond about 10 cars, it becomes ever less likely that a car or team will win as you go down the point standings.  
To me, this means that NASCAR  is not taking advantage of what its fan base could be.  If there were 40 cars capable of winning, then there would be 30 more choices for fans hoping to pull for their driver to win on a given Sunday.  Smaller fuel tanks and shorter green flag runs would make this happen more often.  
I know this goes against the purist perspective of having the fastest car win each week.  It just seems to me that NASCAR  needs to make their product more exciting.  Paul Menard sure helped last Sunday.

Upton Poll
Again, where I feel teams will finish at the conclusion of the 2011 season in the FBS of college football.  Bowl game predictions are also included.
15 - Ohio State: I would have them picked much higher if they weren’t bringing on a new head coach and they didn’t have player suspensions looming overhead.  It will be interesting to see how the team will function with a new Head Coach, a new system, and a new quarterback.Capital One Bowl
14 - South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore and Ashlon Jeffery are the keys to a big season.  These are two big time offensive players in all of America. There schedule  is tough and I think they’ll be out of the SEC Title game because of it.  Outback Bowl
13 - Arkansas:  Tough games against Alabama and LSU in conference and Texas A & M out of conference.  This team loves to throw it around and will light the scoreboard laps even with their schedule. Cotton Bowl
12 - Nebraska:  My pick to win the Big Ten.  Taylor Martinez can run and throw.  If he can stay healthy, the Huskers will be in fine shape come January.  Rose Bowl
11 - TCU: Only 8 players returning from last year’s team.  This team has had an excellent D of late and I don’t see how that will really drop as the Frogs just reload each year with excellent recruiting classes.  The game at Boise State should be a good one.  Las Vegas Bowl