Friday, January 05, 2007

NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview and Picks

Friday A.M. Quickie below.

Key Question: Generally, do any of these teams have a chance of "pulling a Pittsburgh" and going from Wild Card Weekend all the way to a Super Bowl win? (My take: The Pats are always in that conversation until you see their losing score with your own eyes, and the Eagles going all the way would be so hilarious and disruptive -- because of the Garcia-McNabb factor -- that I could easily imagine Philly finally winning the Super Bowl... when their fans least expect it.)

More questions:

Chiefs at Colts: Will the Colts fold this week or next? Can the Chiefs continue their unlikely, playing-with-house-money run? PICK: COLTS.

Cowboys at Seahawks: Which team has even LESS momentum than the other? Do the Cowboys fold? Do the defending NFC champs get bounced? PICK: SEAHAWKS.

Jets at Pats: Can protege beat mentor? Can we please stop hearing about the protege-mentor relationship? PICK: PATS

Giants at Eagles: Does any team deserve to win this game less than the Giants? Does any team deserve to win this game more than the Eagles? PICK: EAGLES

What do you think: Key questions? X-factors? Storylines to watch? I'm much more interested in your analysis than mine. -- D.S.

Friday 01/05 A.M. Quickie:
Playoffs, Coaching Moves, MVPs and More!

NFL Wild Card Weekend: I'm going to do a stand-alone post so we can talk specifically about the four Wild Card games, but it's nice to get back to the NFL Playoffs, because it felt like the last few weeks of the regular season dragged a little bit. But it's here. Settle in.

NFL Coaching Mania!
The Good Tale: Cowher resigns from Steelers
. He was defined by his longevity first, then his Super Bowl title last season that vaulted him from merely "stable" to "champ."

Cowher's career trajectory is easy to project: A year off, working on TV, making bank and enhancing his mystique. Then, before the 2008 season, he'll get a huge offer from Dan Snyder to replace the retiring Joe Gibbs.

(Question: Why does Cowher's exodus from Pittsburgh get spun as "retirement" and not the more accurate "resignation?" Does anyone actually think he's really retiring from coaching for good? Compare that to Art Shell below -- "resigning" or Nick Saban below -- "quitting." Both could have generously been described as "retiring" from NFL coaching. Of course, the media wasn't in the mood to be generous with either, but apparently, Cowher gets that treatment.)

And what about the Steelers? This is coaching upheaval they haven't experienced in two decades. Team Rooney seems stodgy and cootish enough to simply elevate longtime assistant Ken Wisenhunt (who will apply not-so-subtle pressure by expressing interest in a few of the other coaching jobs, including the newly open Dolphins job).

The Bad Tale: Shell resigns from Raiders. You have to figure his coaching career is over. More pressing for Oakland fans: Who the hell would take this job? Expect to hear the same names: Rivera, Chow, Sherman, Singletary.

And then there's the Horrifying Tale, at least if you listen to the media's ongoing campaign to destroy Nick Saban. Ooh: Haven't you heard? He's EVIL! He's a LIAR! He's a QUITTER! Dan LeBatard said so! Don Shula said so! As I said yesterday: I just can't dredge up the outrage on this one. You'd think these esteemed critics had never dealt with coaches before. I'd always classify him more accurately as a college coach who had skills to coach in the NFL, rather than an NFL coach who had the skills to coaching in college. It's not like he left for another NFL job.

LaDainian Tomlinson is NFL MVP: This was a no-brainer. The only question is whether it will go down as the greatest season of all time. He'll need a Super Bowl title – with a gaudy performance – to seal it.

Jason Taylor is NFL Defensive P.O.Y.: Everyone knows that Shawne Merriman is the best defensive player in the NFL. The only reason he didn't win is that stodgy and cootish AP voters discounted his play because of the pesky 4-game suspension for steroids.

(These are undoubtedly some of the same fools who regularly picked someone other than Michael Jordan as NBA MVP. And, yes, that's two references to "stodgy and cootish.")

BCS Title Game: Have you (a) admired, (b) appreciated or (c) regretted my restraint in not maniacally analyzing the upcoming BCS Title Game? I'm sort of freaking out about it, because I'm convinced you're going to see the upset of the year, but I don't actually want to say that out loud (or write it down).

I'm going to create a separate post so we can break the game down. But aside from that, if anything, the wait between Jan. 1's bowl mania and this Jan. 8 title game seems WAAAAAAY too long – even endless. And not because I'm a fan of one of the teams, but because it just doesn't fit the rhythm of the CFB season.

Meanwhile, where do you stand in our College Bowl Mania pick 'em group? (I'm tied for 93rd. Why didn't I put all my "confidence" points on LSU whupping ND?! D'oh!)

NBA: Mavs win 12th straight. But I'm far more concerned about Gilbert Arenas' 25th birthday party, happening tomorrow night. NBA social event of the season! (Well, aside from the parties at the Vegas ASG.)

College Hoops Parity Watch: The non-conference season's parity trend should be magnified during conference season. Examples: Providence beat No. 15 Marquette. And USC racked up another quality win, giving No. 16 Oregon its first loss of the season.

MLB Hot Stove: Randy Johnson to Arizona is a done deal, which should make Roger Clemens to the Yankees a done-deal, too. Meanwhile, the Yankees signed Doug Mientkiewicz, which begs the question of which player will get booed most when the Yankees visit Boston: A-Rod? Doug M? Clemens? My money's on Dougie. Meanwhile, Jake Peavy joins the list of Athletes Gone Wrong.

LeBron needs a theme song: At least, for his Sprite TV commercials. But I think it's much more fun to hear your suggestions of what real-life songs might best define LeBron. (Extra points for cleverness and/or Top 40 references. Now, open up that iTunes Top 100 songs list.)

The Bloggie Awards, Cont'd. Only a few days left. Have you joined the grassroots campaign of the year to nominate this blog for "Best Sports Blog?" (You have? Great! Nominate early and often.) Here's the link to the Bloggie Awards page, and here's a link to the original post about it.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thursday 01/04 A.M. Quickie:
Notre Dame Even Worse Than You Thought

Notre Dame blown out by LSU in Sugar Bowl: Here's what was confirmed last night:

(1) Notre Dame was the most overrated team in the country this season.

(And after last night, LSU might have made a case as the No. 3 team in the country, a hell of a debate between LSU, USC and Boise.*)

(2) Brady Quinn was the most overrated QB in the country this season.

(And after last night, LSU QB JaMarcus Russell might have leap-frogged Quinn on everyone's draft board. Hell, Russell might have played himself into the Raiders No. 1 draft spot. Or maybe the Lions at No. 2.)

(3) Charlie Weis has a better chance of winning an NFL title coaching the Giants than he does winning a BCS title coaching the Irish.

(And after last night, Weis might re-think his opposition to an NFL return. BTW, check out this pre-game post about Weis' overratedness.)

* - As I said on Tuesday: You simply can't rank USC ahead of Boise, because of the "Oregon State Factor." My head says to rank LSU ahead of Boise, but I can't stop thinking those rascally Broncos would find a way to beat LSU, too. The way I see it: (3) Boise St. (4) LSU (5) USC. That's not a dis of USC. LSU is that good.

More on today's biggest storylines:

Saban to Bama: See yesterday's post. I repeat: It's harder to consistently be BCS-eligible in the SEC (Conf. champ or BCS at-large a la LSU) than it is to consistently make the playoffs in the NFL.

Simply put: The SEC offers, at most, two BCS chances out of 12. The AFC offers 6 playoff chances out of 16, including a possible 3 chances out of 4 from a single division. Given those factors, the SEC's top-heaviness is tougher to overcome than the NFL's parity crunch.

Meanwhile, I just can't get behind all the outrage -- sincere or knee-jerk columnist b.s. -- about Saban bolting or about him saying one thing and doing another. That's the nature of the coaching game, and – as fans – at one time or another we've all benefited and we've all been stung. It's hard to get too worked up. I try to see it from the point of view of, say, a Dolphins fan: If Saban was willing to go, did you really want him anyway?

Bill Cowher to the Dolphins? Sounds like wishful thinking out of South Florida. But wouldn't that be an awesome 180 by Huizenga?

More NFL Coaching: I predict – without evidence, as usual – that the next Cards coach will be Ron Rivera.

Vince Young named Offensive Rookie of the Year: What an amazing story, particularly considering the pre-draft Wonderlic scandal. How wild that it turns out the Texans didn't screw up by passing on Reggie Bush, but by passing on hometown hero VY. Is he already the NFL's most popular player? Do you know anyone who DOESN'T like/respect/enjoy Young?

NBA: Gilbert Arenas is my hero. 32-footer at the buzzer to carry the Wiz over the Bucks, 108-105. More: Pat Riley takes leave of absence to deal with health issues. Yeah, but like Shaq, he'll be back just in time for the playoffs. The Heat aren't worth paying attention to until then.

College Hoops: Wait, is Clemson for real? They win their ACC opener at FSU to remain unbeaten on the season. (I might put more weight on that than others because I watched FSU beat Florida earlier this season, so I'm tainted by that.) Meanwhile, Air Force wins again. I said it in my "What's Hot, What's Not" List for 2007: AFA is this year's George Mason. (Damn! Quickie curse!)

BCS title game ramp-up: I'll obviously have a LOT more on this as we get closer to day-of-game, but let me point this out:

You can dislike Florida but still REALLY like that the Florida president, Bernie Machen, is being so vocal about pushing for a CFB playoff. Check this out.

Best story of the day: McGwire 70th HR ball juiced! A research company gave a CT scan to McGwire's 70th home run ball and found out... THE BALL WAS JUICED. Link here. ROFLMAO.

Why is Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson still merely considering a jump to the NFL? He's a contender for No. 1 overall pick and a lock for the Top 3. (Can you imagine if the Lions took him at No. 2? Actually, yes. Yes, I can. Vividly. In fact, the upset would be if they DIDN'T draft him.)

Add this to the Mike Tice Follies File: He would love to be the next college football coach at Minnesota. The only problem? He doesn't have a college degree. That explains a lot.

Sports announcer Jim Lampley doesn't just call boxing – he gets arrested for investigation of domestic violence. The "Boxing After Dark" jokes will be tasteless, but fair.

More Sugar: Great point made by newbie ESPN CFB analyst Robert Smith on why Notre Dame keeps getting hammered in bowl games. Let me re-state it in my own words: Their brand is writing checks their talent can't cash. BCS bowls pick Notre Dame because of the TV ratings and national interest, but – talent-wise – they are overmatched against other BCS teams. This Notre Dame team would have had trouble against second-tier bowl teams, let alone an unquestionable Top 5 team like LSU.

Last thing: Bloggie Awards, Cont'd. (Flex Your Power!) Did you see yesterday's post on the Bloggie Awards nominations? Did you catch my shameless self-promotion? More importantly, have you joined in for the grassroots campaign of the year... to get this blog nominated as "Best Sports Blog." As far as I'm concerned, you readers and commenters deserve it, too. Here's the link to the entry form and here's a link to yesterday's original post. Thanks for the support... and the tolerance for my asking about it!

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Living Well Is the Sweetest Revenge
(Vote For Me For the 2007 Bloggies!)

OK, so this is sort of shameless, but from NCAA Tournament pools through career, ah, transitions through comments-comments-comments, I have always been able to count on you all for enthusiastic participation. And that's why I'm putting this out there:

The 2007 Bloggies. The 7th Annual Weblog Awards. And I'm looking for your support, which means your active participation, which means your nominations of this blog for "Best Sports Blog." (Yes, whether it deserves it or not.) So check out the link and let's see if we can put together a grassroots effort that will have some kind of impact. Consider it a challenge!

In all honesty, I see it as much as an award for all of you who participate -- from taking the time to read to taking even more time to comment and become part of the action yourself -- than for me. It's for all of us.

So if I pimp this nomination thing over the next 7 days with reminders, etc, don't get too annoyed. It's for a good cause, right? Click here to check out the process and get into it!

And, again, apologies for the shamelessness.

Saban to Bama

Wednesday A.M. Quickie below.

Say this: It's very hard to mock Alabama now as the job no one wants. They've just successfully landed one of the Top 5 CFB coaches in the country. (My Top 5? In no particular order: Pete Carroll, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, Greg Schiano, Saban.)

I have to believe that the ego boost of being the highest-paid coach in college football was more than a mere bonus, in addition to the total control of running a college program -- plus Bama's legacy among CFB's "elite" programs.

The SEC is now even MORE ridiculous than it was before. I said this earlier: It's harder to win (big) consistently in the SEC than it is to consistently make the playoffs in the NFL. One of the reasons I think Saban is so good is that he DID win in the SEC. But, ouch: It's r-o-u-g-h.

Then there's the aftermath: Apparently, he let Huizenga know via phone (classy!) and his assistants via conference call (classier!) And now the Dolphins join the Cards and Falcons on the coaching search. Here's a guess: The Fins won't hire a college coach.

What do you think of the move? Of the impact on Bama/CFB? Of the impact on the Dolphins? Of his decision making, overall? Look forward to hearing your comments. -- D.S.

Wednesday 01/03 A.M. Quickie:
Boise, Bama, Brohm, Brady, AI, More

Boise State, The Morning After Morning After: Everyone keeps saying that Boise State's win proves the need for a playoff. I actually think it proves how hard a playoff field would be to create:

Let's say it was an 8-team field, with 6 of the slots filled by the BCS conference champs (no reasonable playoff scenario exists without that condition).

How could you justify picking Boise State over BOTH Michigan (ranked No. 3 in the final regular-season BCS poll) AND LSU (ranked No. 4)?

(Unless one of the two remaining "at-large" scenarios is an automatic bid to the top-rated non-BCS team -- not a bad idea, but poses a ton of problems when the top-rated non-BCS team isn't, say, unbeaten, like Boise State was. What happens when the top-ranked non-BCS team is a one-loss dud ranked in the high teens or low 20s?)

Plus, you're simply naive if you think that a glamorous (if overrated) Notre Dame team ranked in the vicinity of the highest-rated non-BCS team would be snubbed, even in favor of a Cinderella like Boise State. It's just not reasonable.

The other complicating factor is trying to transpose the current bowl lineup onto a playoff format: Even if Boise State was in the playoff field, why in the world would they be matched up with Oklahoma in a "quarterfinal" bowl game? Wouldn't Boise State be, at best, the No. 7 or No. 8 seed? That would earn them a quarterfinal with either Ohio State or Florida, both superior to Oklahoma.

You can appreciate the amazingness of Boise State's Fiesta Bowl win – it's thrilling ending(s), it's wild trick plays – and still recognize it doesn't solve anything related to CFB's playoff problem.

More on today's biggest storylines:

Nick Saban: Bolt to Bama or stay in Miami? Let's assume the money is equal, what would YOU do if you were him?

Argument to stay in NFL: Already reached the pinnacle of CFB. NFL jobs are harder to get (and better to have). Winning big consistently in the SEC is way harder than making the playoffs in the AFC.

Argument to go back to college: Total control that he'll never have in the NFL. He would instantly become one of the Top 3 coaches in college football. Though he'll never be the highest-paid coach in the NFL; it's a hell of a thing to be the highest-paid coach in college football.

Orange Bowl: Louisville ends Wake Forest's dream season. Wake can't catch a break. Even as they finally emerge from Rutgers' shadow as THE Cinderella of the CFB season, they are eclipsed by Boise State, the Team Everyone Can't Stop Talking About. And then they lose to Louisville in an unremarkable game. (The unintended consequence of Boise State's win over Oklahoma: ALL games are unremarkable by comparison.)

Big questions: (1) Is L'ville QB Brian Brohm going pro? (2) Was Wake's success this season a fluke or is it sustainable?

Tonight's Bowlin': Sugar! LSU vs. Notre Dame. It's very possible that LSU is the REAL 2nd-best team in the country. And, much like Michigan and USC, they'll get a chance to beat up on an overrated Irish team to prove their claim.

Top Sugar Subplots: (1) Can a big game out of LSU QB JaMarcus Russell vault him over Brady Quinn as an NFL draft prospect? (2) Is this Charlie Weis' last game as ND coach?

NBA: AI ejected in return to Philly. But he gave his old fans a perfect snapshot of his tenure there: (1) 30 points. (2) 10/24 FGs. (3) Griping about management. (4) Loss for his team. (Meanwhile, Ron-Ron Artest had a career-high 39 in a Kings W over the Knicks.)

MLB Hot Stove: Big Unit to D'backs. Reportedly, it's going to happen before the end of the week. The biggest impact? With Johnson's $16 million off the payroll, the Yankees can simply and easily slide it right over to... Roger Clemens.

NFL: Matt Millen says "I'll never quit." How nice for him, because it seems that the Lions ownership will never fire him. William Clay Ford is retaining Millen – despite overwhelming fan protest (for years) – and he still has four years left on his contract. I'll repeat what I said on Monday morning: No NFL fan currently suffers like the Lions fan.

DeMeco Ryans wins AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading all NFL players in solo tackles. Given that he was a 2nd-round choice -- and that the Texans used their first overall choice on defensive player Mario Williams -- do you think they now regret not using that pick on Reggie Bush or Vince Young? I'm sure the fans do.

College Hoops: Greg Oden has career-high 21 in Ohio State win over Indiana in Big Ten opener for OSU's Fab Frosh. Why do I think that this won't be Oden's last "career-high" game?

Remember the Dead Schembechlers? They have changed their name. The band is now called "Bastard Sons of Woody." I like that they maintained the integrity of using college football references.

Do you live in New York City? If you're looking for a good time tonight, go check out the Varsity Letters Reading Series, hosted by Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal's excellent Daily Fix and Gelf Magazine, recently named one of the top sports media of the year by (Want to get on the Varsity Letters mailing list and always be kept updated on the latest events? Email Carl at For all the info, click here.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tuesday 01/02 A.M. Quickie:
Boise State! Best! Ending! Ever?!

Fiesta!!! Boise State pulled off the most entertaining finish EVER to a bowl game, thanks to the dramatic trick plays -- (1) the hook-and-ladder to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation (on 4th-and-18 from midfield!); (2) the wacky, hike-to-RB formation to score a TD in OT, (3) the gutsy, do-a-double-take 2-point conversion to win and...oh, right... (4) the post-game marriage proposal live on national TV.

(Click here or scroll down to see my full post on this all-time amazing game. And here's a link to the best video clip I could find that contained all the plays.)

Where will the unbeaten Broncos finish in the final rankings? I'd put them at No. 3, behind Ohio State and Florida. (Don't even THINK of ranking USC ahead of them. Hint: Compare each team's performance against Oregon State.)

So much for Michigan's worthiness to play in the BCS title game. I look forward to NOT hearing from Michigan fans for at least another 6 months.

USC is No. 1... in '07? USC's big win is very similar to Ohio State's big win over Notre Dame last year in the Fiesta Bowl:

It sets up the Trojans as everyone's team to beat next season. (Without Dwayne Jarrett? Hmm. BTW, he is SICK.)

Nick Saban to Alabama? You can't criticize Bama for not going big – and you couldn't criticize Saban for taking the job. If he accepts, it's a coup for Bama that eclipses the previous month's coaching-search folly. If he declines, the program is effed.

Cards fire Green. Who's next? I've read re-tread Mike Sherman is interviewing, along with Ron Rivera, Norm Chow and Jim Caldwell. If I wanted to focus on offense, I'd hire Chow. If I wanted to focus on defense, I'd hire Rivera. Neither is a bad pick, and both would increase the NFL's pathetic number of minority head coaches.

Falcons fire Mora. Who's next? I read that Blank and McKay will be sure to ask any candidates how they plan to use Vick. Uhh... ya think?! (If they didn't ask Mora that question, maybe McKay should've been fired.)

Bill Cowher done in Pittsburgh? The players think so. The smartest bloggers and analysts think so. It doesn't take a genius to understand he's better off taking a year off, enhancing his rep on TV, then taking the big money in 2008 from, say, Dan Snyder.

Knight 880: Unbreakable record? Of the Top 2 contenders to do it – Coach K won't last long enough before retirement, and Billy Donovan won't last long enough before jumping to the NBA. Plus, it's a moving target: It's not like Knight is retiring any time soon.

NBA back to the leather ball: It returned last night. Keep an eye on whether players struggle with the transition wedged right into the middle of a season. I sort of doubt it.

AI vs. Sixers tonight: I have to believe that Philly fans are too drunk on the Eagles' success to truly care.

College hoops: OK, OK, I believe – After watching UCLA dismantle a very good Washington team, UCLA *is* the No. 1 team in college hoops. I'd still rank Florida over UNC at No. 2, if only because the Gators crushed Ohio State, where the Heels only eked out a win over OSU.

Condolences to family, friends and fans of Broncos CB Darrent Williams. What a horrible story.

-- D.S.

Fiesta! Underdog Boise State Pulls Off
Most Entertaining Bowl Game Ever?

Boise State just might very well BE the best team in college football.

And while they'll never actually GET the No. 1 ranking -- despite finishing the season 13-0 -- they are certainly the most entertaining. And, no matter how the BCS title game ends, they were part of the best bowl game of the season.

The only lingering questions? (1) Was it the most exciting bowl game ever? (2) Where WILL Boise State end up in the final rankings? (3) Have you ever watched a more exciting finish to a game?

(1) Most exciting bowl game ever? This year: Definitely. All time? It's hard to top last year's Texas-USC title game. But let's qualify it as the most exciting non-title-game bowl game ever.

(2) Final ranking? Even if Ohio State loses to Florida, it's hard to imagine Boise State being ranked No. 1. But after watching them pour on the points against Oklahoma, is there any doubt they could have hung with ANY of the season's top teams?

I'd actually rank them No. 3, behind Ohio State and Florida. Meanwhile, don't even THINK of ranking USC ahead of Boise State. Just look at the performance against common opponents: USC lost to Oregon State. Boise State clocked Oregon State. Case closed.)

(3) A more exciting finish? Arguably not, though again: Last season's Texas win over USC set a pretty high bar. But consider Boise State's case:

*Trick hook-and-ladder play in dwindling seconds of regulation on 4th-and-18 to tie the game.

*Trick play to score game-tying TD in OT.

*And then, going for 2 (and the win) in OT... with another trick play... even after showing the formation to Oklahoma before the Sooners called a time-out to scheme a defense for it. It was, without question, the finest sell-job on a play-action play I have ever seen. You need to see the replay to fully appreciate it, and I defy you not to shout out loud when you do.

That, my friends, is cojones.

*Oh, and to top it all off, the game's MVP, Ian Johnson, proposed to his girlfriend on the field -- on national TV -- immediately after the game.

Again: Case closed. This might be one of those games I have to buy on iTunes to have in my library forever.

Here's the larger point: We can argue about where Boise State ranks against the other top teams in the country this year, but the WAY Boise State won that game -- the style, the dramatics, the creative calls, the guts -- ensures that they have earned every college football fan's RESPECT.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Jan. 1 Bowl Wrap:
So Much For Michigan's Worthiness

USC crushes Michigan in the Rose Bowl: See the post below for my take on the short-term "rep" boost for the Big Ten with Wisconsin's win over Arkansas, but it's all moot after Michigan got its ass handed to it by USC.

Michigan fans can argue that the team's BCS snub left it unmotivated, but in reality, they should have recognized that they needed a big win to justify griping over being snubbed by the title game. Again, with this drubbing, the point is moot: Not only is Michigan NOT one of the Top 2 teams in college football this season, they aren't even one of the Top 3 -- obviously, USC is worthy of being ranked higher than Michigan. So so SO obviously.

(PS: I really wish Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger would stop disparaging the "bloggers," as if they/we are some kind of scourge on Michigan. It's just taking cheap shots -- not to mention wildly uninformed analysis to the point of making Kirk and Brent simply sound petty and spiteful. Maybe Kirk is just grumpy that this Michigan team he pimped for days after the BCS title-game selection controversy has, in turn, crapped the bed today.)

Monday 01/01/07 A.M. Quickie:
Happy New Year! (Now Give Me My Bowls!)

Happy New Year! Late posting today, but I wanted to comment on two things:

(1) NFL: OK, the Chiefs making the playoffs (or, more accurately, the Broncos completely muffing the playoffs) was a shocker. And though there's no doubt that KC earned it (with by far the toughest Week 17 matchup of any AFC Wild Card contender), Denver completely crapped the bed on this one. KC fans must be thrilled.

Over in the NFC, there might not have been much drama after the Giants clinched the No. 6 spot on Saturday, so how awesome was the Lions-Cowboys result?

(A) The Cowboys swipe the mantle from the Giants for "Least Momentum Heading Into the Playoffs." (B) The Lions manage to bungle the one thing – top draft position – that they really needed. Even when they win, they lose. Unbelievable. I think it's official that rooting for the Lions is the worst fan position in the NFL.

(2) New Year's Day Bowls: As I've said before, the Arkansas-Wisconsin game is a proxy for the BCS title game:

If SEC tops Big Ten, it's one more piece of data that the Big Ten sucked this season and the SEC was terrific. If Big Ten tops SEC, the Big Ten has been underrated and Florida's SEC title-game win isn't what we thought it was. (Meanwhile, the game features the two best RBs returning in college football next year: Darren McFadden and PJ Hill.)

Rose Bowl: I'm torn. As a Big Ten alum, I almost always root for Big Ten teams in bowl matchups. And I absolutely hate USC. But as a Florida fan, I want to see Michigan get beat, if only to end the whining that they somehow deserve to be in the national title game.

Fiesta Bowl: How can you NOT be rooting for Cinderella non-BCS team Boise State to beat big bad Oklahoma and finish the season as potentially the only unbeaten team left?

Join in the comments for your bowl-day observations and analysis. Like me, I assume you're parked in front of the TV, too. Happy New Year!

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): OK, so Wisconsing beating Arkansas (in what can only be described as one of the least entertaining bowl games I've ever watched) is a huge win for the Big Ten -- and erodes at least a bit of SEC haughtiness from the Bowl Season (and BCS title game).

After all, wasn't Wisconsin supposed to be vastly overrated? Weren't they supposed to be hardly a "quality win" for Michigan, let alone Michigan's "best" win of the season? New reality: Wisco just beat an Arkansas team that was the 3rd-best team in the SEC and one that many (including me) had thought extremely highly of.

It's Wisconsin's first (and only) quality win of the season, but suddenly makes Michigan's win over Wisconsin that much more impressive. (Nevermind that still only makes 1.5 quality wins for Michigan this season -- better-than-we-thought Wisconsin and worse-than-we-thought Notre Dame. But certainly fodder for the argument that the Big Ten isn't being dragged down by Wisconsin being overrated. (God, I'm going to miss college football until next September.)

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday 12/31 Quickie:
New Year's Eve Edition!

In classic Quickie style, my 2006 Superlatives:

Best personal moment of the year? Birth of first kid.

Best sports moment of the year? Florida wins NCAA Tournament.

Worst personal moment of the year? Cancellation of the Quickie.

Worst sports moment of the year? Um... cancellation of the Quickie. (Can that count for both?)

Wow, talk about your highs and lows! So: What were YOUR best moments of '06, either sports or otherwise? (I won't make you describe your worst moments. Let's hope they weren't as public as mine.)

Meanwhile, you can talk NFL in the Comments, too, but what's the point when Week 17 is so otherwise meaningless? (Say this for college football's controversial set-up: At least the final week of the regular season meant something -- and it dominated the conversation.)

If I don't connect with you later today, have a safe and enjoyable New Year's Eve, and I'll catch you here tomorrow for Bowl mania.

-- D.S.