Today's Names to Know: Les Miles, Cowboys-Packers, "Plus One," Rutgers-Louisville, Greg Robinson, Delmon Young, Matt Garza, Dwight Howard, Tim Tebow, Mark Murphy, Erin Andrews, Tim Raines, Sean Taylor and More.
LSU will let
That, plus LSU will have to start their own coaching search, and that's where it gets interesting. I said it last week: I think, right now, LSU has become a better (if far tougher) coaching gig than
Cowboys-Packers play in NFC Game of the Year tonight: Supposedly. How would you know, if you can't watch it because it's on the NFL Network? What a debacle when the conference's best game of the year -- and the NFL Network's best game in its short history -- is not widely available nationally. Pick: Cowboys. (Complete NFL picks coming tomorrow, as usual.)
BCS won't have a playoff, but a "plus-one" might happen eventually (via USA Today): I would like to see a playoff as much as the next fan (despite my firm belief that college football's regular season IS a de facto playoff system, unique in all of sports). But let me be clear:
The "Plus-One" system is a TERRIBLE idea that solves NOTHING. Take last season: What would you do – make
If you think it's hard to pick two teams to play for the title now, try picking two more teams after the myriad possibilities of results AFTER the bowls.
The only way it could possibly work is if two existing BCS bowls, rotating on an annual basis, matched 1-vs-4 and 2-vs-3, with the winners meeting in the Plus-One title game.
Problem 1: How do you determine the Top 4? Through the BCS formula? That formula can barely get 1-vs-2 right. Selection Committee? Eh. That works best when you're picking 30 at-large teams, not 4.
Problem 2: Particularly in a season like this, how would you fairly determine 4 teams when there are at least 8 in that conversation?
The Plus-One only seems to work in those rare seasons when, after the bowls, there is a clear-cut pair of teams you'd like to see play for the title. The most common example is 2003, when LSU and USC split the title. Great: 1 out of X years, the Plus-One makes sense. Do it!
Luckily, it's a moot point: I don't think the Pac-10 or Big Ten would EVER go for a "Plus-One" model, just like they will never go for a more traditional playoff system. I dog both for their stodginess, but in this case, they're right to reflexively gag at the Plus-One.
(You know, for all of its flaws, the regular season DID manage to get the list of consensus contenders down to a mere THREE, with national -- perhaps continental
CFB Tonight: Rutgers-Louisville. This was supposed to be a HUGE game. Both teams were supposed to be Big East contenders -- if not BCS national-title contenders. Now, it's merely a chance for Rutgers to follow-up last year's program-making win over Louisville with another, something to build on for next year...
And the chance for Louisville to partially salvage an otherwise dreadful season. If Louisville loses, will first-year UL coach Steve Kragthorpe lose his job? Let's keep the focus on one-time Heisman contenders Brian Brohm and Ray Rice, both of whom will do just fine in the NFL Draft next spring.
CFB Coaching Carousel: In a nice change of pace, Syracuse WON'T fire Greg Robinson. They'll just wait until next year, because firing after four years seems a little less unseemly than firing after three. Won't get them to respectability any faster.
Meanwhile, Nebraska is reportedly down to Turner Gill and Bo Pelini: After initially coming out against Gill, I switched and now I'm supporting his hire. Doesn't Gill have more head-coaching experience than Pelini? Pelini was a fine D-coordinator at LSU... of course, not-so-fine if you factor in the way his D was torched by McFadden and Co. last weekend. Let's let the Gill Era begin. (That's my prediction of who gets the job.)
MLB Hot Stove: Delmon Young traded to the Twins. He's a huge talent (and a huge head-case), and -- if you factor in cost and age -- he more than makes up for Torii Hunter's departure.
(From the Rays' perspective, they get another promising young arm, which can't hurt. Garza joining top draft pick David Price instantly makes the Rays' rotation stronger.)
But the real question on everyone's mind is: What does this mean for the Johan Santana deal?
(Yes, yes: Francisco -- not Chad -- Cordero. Fixed. Removed. Whatever. You can stop sending emails and comments now. Come on: Would you expect anything less from me?)
NBA Stud: Dwight Howard scores a career-high 39, with 16 rebounds, and the Magic rout the Sonics. You know: I was WAY too quick to fold in the face of the "LeBron as MVP" pressure. (I picked LeBron as my MVP two seasons ago, so I hardly need to establish my cred as someone who values LeBron as MVP-worthy.)
I'm back to sticking with my original "if the season ended today, Dwight Howard is my MVP."
And if you were starting a team from scratch and had your pick of ANY player in the NBA to build your team around (taking out marketing need as a factor), LeBron might be No. 1, but Howard would be 1B. Scariest of all: Howard still barely knows how to play.
Speaking of LeBron, he sprained his left index finger in a loss to the Pistons in
Heisman Watch: There's still plenty of time for Chase Daniel or Pat White to come from behind, but all early indications seem to point to a Tim Tebow Heisman. You can hate
Northwestern AD Mark Murphy to lead Packers: In all the hoopla over the college football coaching carousel, how about the AD carousel? There's a fantastic post about this on the best (and only) Northwestern football blog,
CBB: Big Ten continues to get crushed by ACC in "Challenge" (ironic quotes required). UNC wins, BC wins. (Big Ten notches two wins last night with
Tim Raines for Baseball Hall of Fame: Baseball Prospectus is leading a "Rock the Vote" campaign, and I'm so in.
Sean Taylor Update: Police said they have no evidence to indicate the robbery and shooting was anything but random, making the mainstream sports media's coverage on Monday, focusing on Taylor's past and insinuating he had it coming (and mostly fuzzying the actual story that a guy was critically wounded), all the more disgraceful.
-- Dan Shanoff