Saturday, September 01, 2007
Yes, Appy State is the two-time defending 1-AA (or whatever it's called) champs, but still -- it's 1-AA. This Michigan team was ranked No. 5 and expected to contend for the national title.
I wouldn't even keep Michigan in my Top 25 after this. (Wait: Can I put a 1-AA team on my Top 25 ballot? Why not? A win at the No. 5-ranked team is a win at the No. 5-ranked team. For this week, at least, Appy State deserves the placement in the Big Boys' Top 25.)
Meanwhile, Michigan's season is over. Finished. Done. Kaput. At least in terms of being considered a national contender. O-V-E-R.
(Seriously: Any other self-respecting program would consider firing their coach -- I don't care how long-tenured he is -- after an all-time epic humiliation like this. If Michigan fired Carr tomorrow, I wouldn't blame them.)
But while it's easy to make this about Michigan's season-obliterating humiliation, this should be about Appy State, about the pride of 1-AA and about college football's greatest upset of the 21st century. (Too bad no one could see it!)
College football: Welcome back! So let me be the first to say it: "Appy New Year!"
UPDATE: Wait...greatest upset EVER? I just went out for a head-clearing walk, and the more I thought about it, the more I think I'm on board with the idea that this is the biggest regular-season upset in modern college football history.
Not only was it the first time a 1-AA team had beaten a ranked team, but they beat a Top 5 team... a national-title contender... on the road. That's big on too many levels.
(My previous gold standard for Biggest Upset in Modern CFB History was Northwestern over Notre Dame in 1995 -- the prototype "loser" program over the prototype "winner." But at least that was in the same division of college football. This was two entirely separate leagues.)
P.S.: How amazing is it that a contender for greatest upset in CFB history was seen by... virtually no one. Maybe if you had the Big Ten Network on your cable system (who does?) Maybe if you had DirecTV (hardly a majority). Unfortunately for Michigan fans, this is no "tree-falls-no-one-hears" Zen koan. Quite the opposite. It was the Shot NOT Seen Around the World, but Understood Loud and Clear.
(For example: It's Tebow Time, and the New York Times knows it. This is an amazing way to wake up on a Saturday: My favorite college football writer -- Thamel -- reporting on my favorite college football player -- Tebow. Thamel really established his cred when he became the first national voice to really start talking about Urban Meyer before Utah's unbeaten season.)
Now, other stuff...
Rodney Harrison is a PED cheater: The NFL suspended him for 4 games, and he gets what is supposed to be a Pats' Super Bowl season off to a less-than-ideal start.
(Let's reiterate: This is probably closer to the norm than an exception. Harrison was merely stupid enough to get caught. But if you think the NFL doesn't have a PED problem that makes MLB's problems look small by comparison, you're delusional.)
Byron Leftwich demoted from Jags starting QB for David Garrard: This was a suprise. Leftwich was supposed to be having a good preseason. He's in a contract year -- and can't be happy. The Jags are going to try to trade him (um, KC?) -- I will continue to root for him.
(Leftwich is one of my favorite NFL players and my favorite Jag -- at least until Reggie Nelson plays his first regular-season down -- and I'm not exactly thrilled at the development, except maybe Leftwich can get to a situation where the coach actually likes and/or respects him.)
Michael Strahan ends holdout: What's the over/under on how many weeks until he's (inevitably) injured? I'm saying 2.
Juan Encarnacion struck in the face: Here's hoping he's OK, in what was probably the scariest on-field moment of the year.
MLB Stud: Scott Baker.
CFB Friday Night: Washington routs Syracuse. Wow, Syracuse is terrible, truly terrible. And Washington could be good this year. The Huskies get their true test next week, against Boise State.
NHL Relocation: Looks like the Predators are staying in Nashville. (Sorry, Hamiltonians.)
Beckham out six weeks: Might as well be six months.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Wow, I can't believe it was a year ago today that I filed the final edition (ever) of the Daily Quickie.
I'll have more to say about the past year (and the upcoming year) next week, but suffice to say it's been a wild ride this year. Thanks to everyone for reading, for commenting (well, most of you), for linking and for generally supporting the effort.
Again, more next week, but as the "official" anniversary of the end of the Daily Quickie and the start of danshanoff.com arrives over the next 24 hours, I offer my sincere thanks for what a great experience it has been. Now, on to today's top storylines...
College Football Opening Night: Four games involving ranked teams, four blowouts. 212-20 was the combined score, including the 73 that
We also have our early Heisman contenders:
(1) Brian Brohm, L'ville QB: 4 TDs, 375 yards (16/21 passing)
(2) Ray Rice, Rutgers RB: 3 TDs, 184 yards, 7.4 ypc
(3) Ian Johnson, Boise St RB: 3 TDs, 128 yds, 7.1 ypc
For all you Bootys and Hennes and Brennans or you Harts and Harvins and Slatons, the initial bar has been set.
(And that doesn't even consider the shutout that LSU's defense pitched, including 6 INTs. The Tigers' D is as good as advertised, making its showdown with Virginia Tech's D next week as good as it gets.)
College Football Opening Weekend! It's time to revive the Friday tradition of picks. Not many games in question, but of the weekend's three best games (listed in bold), I'm picking upsets in two of them.
1 USC over
14 UCLA over Stanford
At Clemson over 19
22 TCU over Baylor
Don't forget to submit your picks in both the College Football Pick 'Em and the College Football Challenge groups through the links on the right. Group name: Daily Quickie Readers.
(By the way, the New York Times' Pete Thamel and Co. are back with a college football blog, following up their excellent college hoops blog. Thamel's the best college football reporter in the country, and he and his colleagues put together a really entertaining addition to your daily CFB reads.)
Who led the way? Kobe Bryant, who had 27 points and justified his place as the team's most valuable player – the biggest reason they'll win gold next year. Along the way, he's going to affirm his status as the world's greatest player.
(And I'm not a particularly big fan of
Yankees sweep Red Sox: More important for their Wild Card chances than it was for their division chances. Stud: Robinson Cano.
Phillies sweep Mets: More important for their division chances than their Wild Card chances. Stud: Chase Utley.
NFL: The NFL is changing it's logo! It's not a radical re-design, but it is different. And I think I like it better, although purists might not agree with me, just because most don't like ANY change.
More: AJ Feeley broke his hand in the Eagles' loss last night, but he's not expected to miss playing time as McNabb's backup.
U.S. Open: I don't watch much tennis, but (as long as it's not conflicting with college football tomorrow) I'll have an eye on the Federer-Isner match tomorrow. Best of the tournament.
Beckham Watch: He might be done for the season, making his MLS rookie year the most expensive summer marketing gimmick of the decade.
NCAA will let the dead recruit enjoy a decent funeral courtesy of a college booster: Common sense must take a while to filter through.
PGA Drug-Testing: Will start as early as next year. And I predict you'll be shocked at how many (and who) gets busted.
Tyson Gay pulls off the double: He won the 100 and the 200 at Worlds. The sports Name to Know in 2008.
Sports Movies: Balls of Fury. The guy playing the lead is hilarious and relatively unknown. He's a poor man's Jack Black. I think this will be a sleeper hit. The premise is simply too good.
Happy Labor Day Weekend, for those of you enjoying three days off. I'll be posting all weekend, but catch you Tuesday for Year 2.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
College Football kicks off tonight: And I couldn't be more excited. Sure, LSU shouldn't be challenged by
(1) Kickoffs: Experts and pundits can disagree, but I'm saying that moving the kickoffs from the 35 to the 30 will be the biggest rule-change in college football since OT -- perhaps more. Just wait for the first KR TD early in a game (the first kickoff of the game?) and you'll see coaches simply kick it out of bounds and take their chances with the ball placed on the
(2) "We're All Hokies Fans": Virginia Tech is already an overdone story, which is a shame, because it's the team story of the season. It'll get even better when the Hokies win at LSU, then sit staring at a table-running remainder of their schedule and a date with the BCS title game -- and destiny. (Again: This will be the most overwraught, maudlin storyline of the year.)
(3) Offensive Innovation: I'm not saying Florida created a new template for a championship team, but if the defense was fast and furious, the offense was eclectic and electric: The two-QB system, the lack of a traditional lead RB, the deployment of the best players, like Percy Harvin, anywhere (and everywhere) on the field.
Between the Gators in the South, West Virginia in the East, Michigan in the North, Louisville in the heartland, Cal and Boise State out West and Hawaii WAY out West, I think we'll see offensive Xs and Os that will change the future of the game.
(4) Defensive Dominance: Despite all of the offensive firepower that will generate most of the headlines and highlights, the reason the consensus Top 2 teams -- USC and LSU -- are where they are is because of their sick defenses. Meanwhile, the reason I picked Virginia Tech as my national champ was because the defense will be so dominant. Yet one more reason the VT-LSU game is the Game of the Year.
The Yankees and Mariners are tied for the AL Wild Card after
The Indians own Johan Santana: They beat him for the 4th time this season (they are the only team to beat him even 3 times). That, and
MLB Stud: Ben Sheets, who came off the DL to lead the Brewers to a near-must-win over the Cubs. (Ryan Braun also is coming very close to locking up the NL ROY, contributing a double with the bases loaded.)
NFL Get-Tough Policy: It's selective. Apparently, missing palimony payments doesn't rise to the level of triggering punishment through the league's personal conduct policy. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?!
Florida football might be effed: Speaking of CFB projecting, not to put too fine a point on it, but Florida lost their most important and valuable player: All-America candidate, senior captain and left tackle Phil Trautwein, who has a stress fracture in his right foot. He will certainly miss the first few weeks and could miss the entire season.
People can talk about Tebow, about Harvin, about Harvey or about any of the Gators' other weapons, but it was the potential of the O-line – led by Trautwein -- that anchored the promise of this offense to be spectacular (and making up for an inexperience, if speedy, D).
More CFB: Facebook breaks the news that the mainstream media couldn't -- Notre Dame's starting QB. Charlie Weis is powerful, but not more powerful than social media! (h/t EDSBS)
US Open: 6-foot-9 American sensation John Isner vs. Roger Federer in the next round might just be the most intriguing match-up of the men's tournament this year. Isner will get crushed, but as the Next Great American Hope, it'll be fascinating to see how he stacks up against the Best Ever. (Federer played last night in all-black, which was a badass look for the most dominant athlete in the world.)
Beckham Watch: Right knee sprained in SuperLiga final! What does this mean for his future this season?
NCAA Idiocy: Oh, for cripes sake: Just grant the waiver to let a booster pay for a recruit's funeral. This is a case of rules overriding reason.
Bernard Lagat: Wins 1500m for the
R.I.P. Richard Jewell, who in 1996 was put through a publicity hell most of us wouldn't wish on anyone.
CFB Picks: In a preview of tomorrow's Top 25 predictions (a weekly tradition carried over from last season):
Boise St over Weber St.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Three years ago, I picked Reggie Bush as my Heisman winner, because he was the best player in the country. He finished as runner-up to his teammate Matt Leinart, then won the award the following season.
Last season, I picked Darren McFadden as my Heisman winner, because he was the best player in the country. He finished as runner-up to Troy Smith. McFadden will win the award this season, then become the best NFL running back East of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Here's my preseason Heisman ranking:
1. Darren McFadden, RB,
2. Colt Brennan, QB,
3. Pat White, QB,
4. Brian Brohm, QB,
5. Tim Tebow, QB,
The next tier:
6. DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
7. John David Booty, QB, USC
8. Ray Rice, RB,
9. Steve Slaton, RB,
10. Andre Woodson, QB,
Who's your pick as the best player in college football? And who is the player who isn't on that radar... but should be?
MLB Pennant Race Mania! With just more than a month to play, it is SO on:
Phillies pick up a game on the Mets, after a head-to-head win. Padres pick up a game on the D'backs in a similar way. The Cubs came back to hold off the Brewers, and the Cards took over second place in the NL Central. The Angels came back to hold off the Mariners, pushing
And, oh right: The Yankees beat the Red Sox. But with all of these other (more) compelling division races, this one is the least dramatic of them all – by far the least competitive division race of the six. How great is that?
(I'm not sure why the Yankees would focus AT ALL on the division title, when they should be concentrating on winning the Wild Card. The mantra should be: Make the playoffs, however it happens. In the Wild Card Era, who cares about division titles?) And, for now, the Yankees are 1 GB the Mariners, with
Yi signs with the Bucks: Well THIS was an unexpected development, but kudos to the team for closing the deal (even if it took owner Herb Kohl going to
MLB Stud (and Dud): Ian Kennedy (and Mike Mussina). The MLB vet was booted from the Yankees rotation in favor of rookie sensation Ian Kennedy. The future is now for the Yanks.
NFL Fantasy Watch: Is Jesse Chatman about to displace Ronnie Brown as the Dolphins starting RB? (Was it so long ago that Brown was a hot pick to be in the Top 5?) At the very least, sounds like they will split carries, making Brown's fantasy value proposition all the more shaky. (Will Chatman be this season's Maurice Jones-Drew?)
CFB: How bad is Erik Ainge's finger injury? And how much will it hurt the Vols when they play at
Meanwhile, USC Running Backs coach Todd McNair has a history with dog-fighting, convicted of cruelty to animals a decade ago. In the current environment, will that embroil him in a scandal that could cost him his job? If he was coaching in the NFL, definitely.
But under the shield of the college system – where a coach like Pete Carroll rules with no restriction (from either the NCAA or even the leaders of his own institution) – unlikely. Carroll will cover for one of his own.
Artest supports Vick: Sort of. He says "I want to support him and be there for him." To his credit, Artest also says, "I don't support the dog fighting. I can't watch it. I can't imagine another dog biting a dog. It makes me nauseous." (via NY Post)
NBA Scandals: The refs get a lawyer. (Why: Do they NEED one?)
Meanwhile, Rafer Alston was arrested (again). At what point does David Stern invoke a Goodell-style "personal conduct policy" and suspend Alston for the quarter-season "time-out" he probably deserves?
Tim Couch coming out as having used HGH shouldn't come as too much of a surprise: The pressure to use steroids or other PEDs has always been felt greatest at the margins. Oh, I'm sure the superstars do it too, but it's the guys who need the artificial boost just to get to the point where they stay be on the margins that must feel the greatest temptation.
Equipment Watch: Given the court ruling upholding a ban on metal bats in high school games, I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of the "ping."
CFB: By mistake, I didn't post my Heismania post yesterday. It'll go up today. Sorry about that.
Meanwhile, I submitted my Week 2 Blog Poll ballot, with a few changes. Dropping USC behind LSU. Moving
But there's one constant: I kept Virginia Tech at the top of my ballot. I believe that I am the only college football-related pundit (mainstream or blogger) that has the Hokies picked to win the national title. (Please shoot me a note if you know that I'm not.) If the Hokies win at LSU ("if?" I mean "when"), EVERYONE will be on that bandwagon. And it will be here in a mere 10 days. Reserve your seats now. Still plenty of room.
Here's one of my favorite parts of the Blog Poll: The weekly roundtables off the poll results. This week's is: Who's overrated? Who's underrated? Lots of great stuff here. (None from me, this week.)
Alert: Stop reading here if you don't care about other people's fantasy teams. (I think that disclaimer should be standard before any item about your own fantasy team, particularly during the height of draft season.)
Fantasy Football: After a fierce draft battle among DS.com commenters, the results are in. Picking 4th in a 10-team league, I got (in this order): Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Chad Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, Calvin Johnson, Vernon Davis, Reggie Brown, Santana Moss, DeAngelo Williams, Jon Kitna, Vince Young, Chester Taylor, Denver D, DJ Hackett and David Akers.
Finally, in case it's not on your radar today, don't forget to take a moment to consider the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the civics outrage it should continue to provoke.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday was the first day of the rest of Michael Vick's life. (Or lack of one.) He worked the contrition angle. He worked the "got religion" angle.
"Immature?" Please: Bankrolling an illegal-gambling operation and killing dogs is less immature than simply immoral. (Hmm: If he had led off with "I've been immoral," he might have made more headway.)
Here's the lingering question: In an Instant History world, can a multi-year Vick expulsion create enough of a buffer to get him back into the NFL eventually?
"I will redeem myself," he said. We'll see about that. But then he uttered the most honest and realistic analysis of this entire fiasco: "I have to."
Meanwhile, the Falcons played on MNF last night. I didn't watch more than 30 seconds (it happened to be Johnson's TD pass to Henry), but I was struck with a Master Plan for the Falcons:
As long as this is a lost season for the Falcons (sorry: "transition" year) that they might as well write off this season (OK: tank), then put themselves in a position to draft franchise QB Brian Brohm, who happened to have played for Falcons coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville.
Here's the reality: An offensive-minded coach needs a great QB to build the team around (one who already knows the system is just a bonus).
As long as the Falcons aren't going to make the playoffs this year (and they won't), why not put themselves in position to turn it around as soon as possible with a spectacularly talented stud QB perfect for the new coach's offensive system?
Falcons fans (or if you put yourself in the position of Falcons fans): Wouldn't you sacrifice one season now (especially if it's a lost season anyway) for a better chance at a string of great seasons down the road?
More NFL: Lovie Smith isn't happy with Lance Briggs? Well, duh!
Tarvaris Jackson named Vikings starting QB: Guess Kelly Holcomb is just insurance.
MLB Stud: Chase Utley, who returned to the Phillies lineup just in time to go 3/5 (with a HR) and lead his team over the Mets in a near-must-win series.
MLB Dud: Astros manager Phil Garner and GM Tim Purpura, both fired. (Stud: Cecil Cooper, given Garner's job.)
Oh, and Mike Mussina was on the wrong end of a blowout loss to the Tigers (16-0!), calling into question whether he'll be of any value to the Yankees during the last month of the season.
Bonds 756: How much do you think the ball will go for when the auction sale starts today? The over/under is $500,000. I'll say "over."
CFB: If you didn't come around after noon yesterday, I revealed my pick to win the national championship: Virginia Tech.
Speaking of VA Tech, there's this interesting campaign to get Hokies fans to cheer opposing teams, to honor the support that opposing fans showed VA Tech after the shooting. I suspect that fans will welcome a team like
The preview continues today: Heismania. (No, Tim Tebow is not my pick to win the award. Maybe next year. For this year, all you have to do is look to my Heisman pick from last season.)
UPDATE: As you may have noticed, the Heisman list didn't go up. It'll go up tomorrow.
Tennis Gambling Scandal: Paul Goldstein says he was approached about throwing a match. I guarantee you this tennis scandal is so much worse than you can even imagine. Things like this usuall are.
Women's Hoops: Delle Donne is going to UConn.
NBA Moves: The Suns signed second-round pick DJ Strawberry, notable only because Strawberry totally dominated the Vegas Summer League and looked entirely like the steal of the draft.
In Case You Missed It: My latest weekly guest-post for Deadspin on college football.
Fantasy Football: Tonight, I take part in my third draft of the month. Bragging rights are huge: It's the DS.com Commenters league.
Speaking of football prediction games, you only have a few days left to sign up for any of the four leagues (2 NFL, 2 CFB) I have set up. See the links on the right, group name: Daily Quickie Readers.
Monday, August 27, 2007
UPDATE! This week's edition of my Deadspin CFB guest-post is up.
Let's get right to it. Here's my preseason Top 25, with an emphasis on which team I think will win the national title.
1. Virginia Tech (BlogPoll: 8)
4. USC (BP: 1)
5. LSU (BP: 2)
11. Wisconsin (BP: 9)
12. TCU (BP: 26)
16. BC (BP: 33)
18. Auburn (BP: 15)
BlogPoll Top 25 teams I had unranked:
(1) This is how I predict the teams will finish the season, with my emphasis being on the Top 10 contenders. (20-25 was my guess at Top 25 sleepers.) As soon as there is actual 2007 performance on the field to account for, I'm sure this listing will change radically, particularly after Week 1.
(2) Yes, I am picking Virginia Tech to win the national title. Yes, that's driven in large part by the "it HAS to be the Hokies, this of all seasons" effect.
And, yes, this implies that I think that VA Tech will go down to Baton Rouge and upset LSU on 9/8, then -- using that as the springboard -- go unbeaten, with that win at LSU arguably the single-best win that any of the contenders will be able to point to.
And, in a CFB season likely to be defined by explosive offense, I love the Hokies' stifling D (not to mention returning experience on BOTH sides of the ball).
(3) I also think that it will be a moot point: VA Tech will be the only BCS team to go unbeaten. Of the rest of the contenders, I think
(4) Yes, I recognize that I'm VERY down on
(5) Here you go: Which team do YOU think will win the national title? Will they go unbeaten? Who will they be playing? If you foresee a messy ending, who will be involved and why will it be messy?
Michael Vick to plead guilty today: It will be official, and then it's on to "How much time will he do?"
Not to mention: "How deep will Vick's snitchin' go?" (If nothing else, hopefully this episode puts to bed the myth of "stop snitchin'.")
And, finally, "What will the Falcons do about Vick and how quickly will they do it?"
Meanwhile, how surreal that on the day Vick pleads guilty, the Falcons play on national TV against the Bengals. Uh, think the topic will come up on MNF? They should just put Lester Munson in the booth as an extra analyst.
(Meanwhile, I wonder if Alberto Gonzalez timed his resignation to coincide with Vick's guilty plea, to take advantage of a news media pulled in several directions at once?)
Name to Know:
Meanwhile: I take back my mocking commentary of David Wells as the Dodgers' newest starting pitcher.
MLB Injury Watch: Chase Utley could come back tonight.
MLB Pennant Races: Suddenly, the Twins enter the picture. After (season) sweeping the Orioles, the Twins have won 5 in a row (9 of 12) and are only 5.5 GB the Indians, with a 3-game series in Cleveland coming up next. (Isn't it great that there is so much more playoff-race intrigue beyond the trite "Will the Yankees make it?")
NFL Preseason/Fantasy Watch: Wow, that Steelers offense looks a LOT more wide open in the Tomlin Era than the Cowher Era. There might not be a single WR star, fantasy-wise, but it should mean big numbers for Big Ben (and a lot of room for Willie Parker... IF he can keep that knee healthy).
NFL Dud: Lance Briggs. Is it now a "Lance-borghini?"
Meanwhile, Browns GM Phil Savage said that Brady Quinn won't start the team's opener. Not sure if he made any promises about whether (a) Quinn would play in the opener, or (b) Quinn would start Week 2. (And based on the way he played against the Broncos' first-team D, that could happen.)
CFB: Coming later this morning is the kickoff to our week-long College Football Preview discussion. Today: Top 25, with my pick for national champ. Teaser: It's not USC. And, no, it's not
Intrigue: USC and
More NBA: The Celtics really needed complementary "glue" players to go with their Big Three, and I think they got one in James Posey, a versatile defender who won't demand the shots that KG, Pierce and Allen will demand.
Golf "Playoffs": Part of the reason no one can take golf's "playoffs" seriously is because, by skipping this past weekend's events, Tiger Woods drops from 1st to 4th. Does anyone really believe he isn't still 1st? (This would be like USC going unbeaten, dropping out of the BCS system, then laughing as two other teams play for the "championship.")
Track: By this time next year, newly crowned World Champ sprinter Tyson Gay will be a household name, heading into the Olympics.
Mark Cuban to go on Dancing with the Stars: This is NOT the same as Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice. But, man, does that guy have a Hall of Fame flair for self-promotion. (That's said in admiration, not scorn.)
In Case You Missed It: Jamie Mottram delivers the final word on jean shorts.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Damon Huard: Least-fantasy-owned NFL starting QB?
Rex Grossman: How many more bungled plays?
USA Hoops: Could Canada have done any better with Steve Nash?
Ken Griffey: Can he reach 600 HR this season? (591 Saturday)
Michael Vick: Will the Falcons get their money back?
Randy Myers: Will he get in trouble for mixing it up with a reporter?