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
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:
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
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.