Friday, November 23, 2007

LSU Loses! BCS Mayhem!

Doesn't anyone want to play in the BCS title game? LSU is d-o-n-e, and the Missouri-Kansas winner still has to get past Oklahoma. West Virginia seems to be on deck, but still has to win twice. Ohio State suddenly might not have to back their way in...

Les Miles Watch: I'd say this loss means he's as good as gone to Michigan (since he won't have a national title to play for). LSU fans are left wondering if their team was either distracted - or just plain caught looking ahead. Neither is good.

Meanwhile, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Darren McFadden vaulted to the top of the Heisman list, where he started the season. What a signature game/win.

And there's still a lot of weekend to go for even more mayhem. Amazing. What an unexpected turn of events.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday 11/23 (Very) Quickie

NFL: Packers own Lions on Thanksgiving... Cowboys off to Best.Start.Ever... Colts seem to right the ship...

CFB: USC crushes Arizona State, will win Pac-10 if Oregon loses 1 of last 2 and USC can actually beat UCLA this year. I think they'll get a BCS at-large spot with a win, even if Oregon gets the Rose...

MLB Hot Stove: Torii Hunter to Angels...

CBB: George Mason upsets K-State despite Beasley's 30 and 10...

NBA: Arenas out 3 months. Yes, I'm bummed, but is it possible the team is more balanced (if not better) without him? (Still getting Gil's new shoes, out today)...

- DS

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday 11/21 A.M. Quickie:
Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's Names to Know: Thanksgiving, Lions and Cowboys, Kansas vs. Missouri, UCLA, St. Mary's, Lakers, Michael Redd, Andray Blatche, Jimmy Rollins, CFB Picks, NFL Picks and More!

Thanksgiving Sports Traditions: The NFL on Thanksgiving is one of my favorite traditions of the sports year and probably my favorite of all NFL traditions – there are a lot of weekends where I don't watch any NFL and just catch the highlights, but I always find time to watch at least the Lions game.

Obviously, the college bowl tradition on New Year's Day is a biggie, but it has decreased in relevancy as more and more of the major bowls move to subsequent nights of the first week of the year.

The NBA's Christmas Day game has increasingly become that league's biggest attraction of the season (including the All-Star Game and perhaps even the playoffs/Finals).

But nothing in terms of sports connected to a particular day of the year -- a holiday, no less -- tops the tradition of the Lions and Cowboys. No matter how the Lions or Cowboys are doing, I'm watching. (More T'giving goodness from the Ladies...)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families, and I hope you have a great weekend of good eating, safe traveling, dominant touch-football playing and quality TV sports-watching.

In the Comments, the question of the day, in addition to your usual topical analysis, an old "Morning Quickie" chat tradition: What (or who) in sports are you thankful for from the past year?

CFB Preview and Picks: Who would have thought back in August that Kansas vs. Missouri would be college football's biggest, most important and most must-see game of the year? Granted, it merely eclipses previous "Games of the Year" and its winner has no guarantee of being in the national title game, but given that both teams are two of a mere handful of teams with a BCS title-game shot, the fact that the game's loser is KO'ed and its winner stays in the Top 2 makes this incredibly dramatic.

I'm picking Missouri: From their close loss to Oklahoma, they finally know what it takes to win in these big games; Kansas has been playing with house money since about Week 6 – it's a Cinderella season for them even if they end up 11-1. If you haven't seen either team, this will be your chance. No excuses after this.

1 LSU over Arkansas (Friday)
4 Missouri over 2 Kansas (Game of the Week/Year)
3 West Virginia over 20 UConn (Big East title game?)
7 Georgia over Georgia Tech
8 VA Tech over 16 UVA (ACC title game play-in)
9 Oregon over UCLA
10 Oklahoma over OK St (OU: B12 South title)
11 USC over 6 Arizona State (Thursday)
12 Florida over FSU (Tebow: Heisman capper?)
13 Texas over Texas A&M (Friday)
14 BC over Miami
Kentucky over 18 Tennessee (SEC East title implications)
19 Boise State over 15 Hawaii (Friday)
South Carolina over 22 Clemson
23 South Florida over Pittsburgh
24 Cincinnati over Syracuse
25 BYU over Utah

NFL Preview and Picks.
This week's Top 5 Storylines:
(1) Pats 19-0 Watch: Sunday Night Blowout
(2) Fins 0-16 Watch: Monday Night Humiliation
(3) Thanks: Pack, Boys jockey for NFC No. 1
(4) Browns: How can you NOT be bandwagoning?
(5) NFL Network 07 debut: Anyone watching?

The Picks:
Packers over at Lions (Thursday)
At Cowboys over Jets (Thursday)
Colts over at Falcons (Thursday)
At Bengals over Titans
At Browns over Texans
At Chiefs over Raiders
At Rams over Seahawks
At Giants over Vikings
At Bucs over Redskins
Saints over at Panthers
At Jaguars over Bills
At Cards over 49ers
Broncos over at Bears
At Chargers over Ravens
At Pats over Eagles
At Steelers over Dolphins

CBB Last Night: Really big win for UCLA over Michigan State (Kevin Love: 21 and 11 in what is becoming a routine double-double for him)... and don't call it an upset: St. Mary's crushed Oregon in Moraga, Calif.

Year of the Freshman, Cont'd: Patty Mills, St. Mary's, 37 points (school record for freshman). Why shouldn't a mid-major like the Gaels join in this season's dominant theme?

CBB Feasting: Tonight, catch Duke and Marquette in the Maui finals... On Thursday, catch Michael Beasley for yourself on ESPN2 at 9 when Kansas State plays George Mason... Friday: Track Final Four favorite Tennessee in a tough road test at West Virginia... And, of course, a ton of tournaments where the title games could yield interesting intersectional pairings.

CFB BCS Tweak: Opening the BCS at-large invites to the Top 18 teams, rather than the Top 14, seems ludicrous, until you are reminded that the entire system is driven by greed, and the relatively equal distribution of that greed across the six power conferences. Otherwise, they could just expand the limit of each conference's BCS reps to more than two. Or expand the pool to guarantee a non-BCS team gets invited.

MLB: Jimmy Rollins edges Matt Holliday for NL MVP. Have to say: I'm a little surprised that the Rockies' unprecedented and thrilling late-season surge didn't yield a single individual award, despite two very legit candidates in Holliday and Tulowitzki. If the Rockies played on either coast, they would have swept the awards, you can bet on that.

NBA: Last night's Studs: Michael Redd and LeBron went at it, scoring 34 each, and the Bucks edged the Cavs... Andray Blatche took advantage of Gilbert Arenas taking the game off, and had 26 points (12/14 FG), 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 29 minutes, in a Wiz win... The Nuggets are sizzling: 6 straight wins...

The Lakers made a trade! No, they didn't trade Kobe. And, no, they didn't trade for someone to help Kobe play on anything but a Lottery team. But they DID trade Brian Cook and Maurice Evans to the Magic for Trevor Ariza, who is young and springy but hardly the missing piece.

Marbury and Isiah were booed by Garden fans, and the Knicks lost their 7th straight. I know Isiah had/has been untouchable, but you have to wonder how many more losses he can go before he's fired. (Don't cry for him: I'm sure there's a huge severance check that comes with it.

YouTube Must-See: Have you seen the new Gilbert Arenas sneaker TV ads? Amazing. (h/t: Fanhouse)

Michigan-Carr-Miles Watch: Cajun Boy in the City, the finest LSU blog out there, has some inside scoop (and innovative fact-finding techniques) that Michigan is interested in Les Miles...

More CFB: So, yeah, Nick Saban compared Alabama losing to Louisiana-Monroe to 9/11. EDSBS perfectly captures the utter absurdity of Saban's statement. Here's the link.

OF COURSE Joe Paterno's salary is public information: I am stunned that anyone would argue otherwise.

Over the long weekend, don't forget to put in your vote for CFB Coach of the Year over at, where I have been guest-blogging all season long in my partnership with Liberty Mutual.*

Filed under "Hmm...": With Leather's Matt Ufford is all over the story that may be the talk of the online-sports world today (or maybe it won't be).

No posts tomorrow. I'll be enjoying -- "enjoying" -- my Thanksgiving commute. Eat well.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday 11/20 A.M. Quickie:
Broncos, Vick, A-Rod, Love, Carr, More!

Today's Names to Know: Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Alex Rodriguez, Matt Holliday, Jimmy Rollins, Mariano Rivera, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Kyle Singler, Lloyd Carr, Brian Kelly and More!

MNF: Broncos use big plays to beat the Titans and re-enter the playoff picture in the AFC West by moving into a tie for first place. Denver scored at least 4 TDs of at least 40 yards. Jay Cutler was 16/21 for 200 yards and 2 TDs, in one of his best performances as a pro. Vince Young passed for 305 yards, but threw 2 picks to go with a single TD.

NFL: Mike Vick wants to go to jail early. Reports seem to indicate confusion as to why he would do it, but it makes sense: He's going anyway, so he might as well start now. Every month he can get out earlier is one more month he can attempt to rehab his NFL career. (Just a few months after the climax of his indictment, it already doesn't seem like a particularly crazy notion, does it?)

MLB Awards Season: A-Rod wins AL MVP. This is hardly a surprise.

Now, the NL MVP is a different story. Heading into the end of the season, Jimmy Rollins was edging Matt Holliday. Then: Game 163, when Holliday provided what was arguably the signature moment of the regular season, a game-winning (non-) slide, right into (or around) home plate, completing the greatest late-season run in baseball history. If it is possible for a single play in the final play of the season to be the difference in an MVP race, this would be that moment. I'm not sure this situation has gotten the appreciation it deserves.

MLB Hot Stove: Mariano Rivera will go back to the Yankees (3Y/$45M), giving New York yet another experienced piece with which to bring along the young core.

More: World Series MVP Mike Lowell is going to stay with the Red Sox; we'll never truly know if his stats this season were goosed by the lineup around him or because he is that good. That said, he WAS that clutch in the World Series, and that bit of performance undoubtedly led to the new deal he's about to get from the team.

Strat-O-Matic '86 Update: Jody Davis hit a 3-run HR in the bottom of the 8th to lead my Cubs over the rival Cards at Wrigley Field, bringing me one game from .500. A little-known pitcher named Greg Maddux got his first win of the season, in relief, and Lee Smith racked up his 5th save in 5 Cubs wins.

NBA Last Night: Amazingly, the Magic are quickly eclipsing the Celtics as THE team of the first month of the season. First, a win over Boston; now, becoming the first team to notch 10 wins, with yet another quality win over the Hornets, who themselves were 9-2 heading into the game. Dwight Howard (NBA Player of the Month?) had 24 and 15 in what continues to be a break-out, 1st-team-all-NBA season for him.

CBB: UCLA is really good. After making UCLA my preseason pick to win the national title (a position I haven't changed), I have a vested interest in continuing to pimp them all season long (beats me pimping Florida hoops, I'm sure many of you are muttering).

After watching UCLA dismantle Maryland: Wow, the Bruins are good. Frosh post man Kevin Love (18 points, 16 rebounds) is a stud. The team is athletic, fast and – as usual – plays fantastic defense.

If the only thing stopping them from winning national titles the last two years was Florida, there's nothing stopping them this season. (They play Michigan State tonight in the CBE final, in a "quality" game for both teams.)

More Freshman-Watching: Add Duke's Kyle Singler to the growing list. Singler led the Blue Devils with 21 points (9/14 FG, 2/3 3-pt) and 12 rebounds. Has there ever been a season with such a deep freshman class of talent?

Next year's freshmen class: Li'l Romeo, boy-rapper and son of Percy "Master P" Miller confirmed he is going to play at USC. Or, at least, sit on the bench until he pouts and quits the team. Whichever comes first.

CFB: Is Michigan one of the Top 5 coaching jobs in college football? I said a lot of things yesterday about Lloyd Carr and Les Miles, but declaring Michigan as NOT in the Top 5 (anymore) got more response than anything. (I should have clarified and said that I thought it was as high as No. 6, but why undercut a perfectly good piece of inflammatory rhetoric?)

Anyway, I appreciate all the reasons for – and Michigan certainly USED to be a Top 5 coaching job. But I just think that if you had your choice, you would pick USC, Texas, Florida, Ohio State and even LSU ahead of Michigan, if your goal was to have the resources to compete for national titles. (Now, Michigan annually has an easier path to the national-title game than LSU, but LSU gets better recruits and gets the SEC's "degree-of-difficulty" bump in perception.)

It's going to be interesting to see who they get, because the timing of Lloyd Carr's announcement really screws up the shot that Michigan has at landing Les Miles. If they wait until January, they lose valuable recruiting time; if they get someone else in December, they miss out on their most ideal "Michigan man."

I will renew my own personal endorsement: Brian Kelly of Cincinnati, who has done a great job in his first year at Cincy, coached in-state in Michigan (Central), won two national titles at Grand Valley State, will have no interest in ever leaving to go anywhere else and runs a rare combo of effective spread offense and buttoned-up D. Michigan fans worried Kelly is a job-jumper? So was Urban Meyer. Not only do I think Kelly is the right pick, but I think he WILL be the pick. Now that the Quickie Curse has been appropriately applied, we can move on...

(Although the second-most popular email sentiment I got was: What's wrong with Rich Rodriguez? My common response was this: The spread offense in the Big Ten, run by a dual-threat QB, would be hugely successful. Look at the player that had the most success against Ohio State in the last three seasons: Illinois' Juice Williams, who torched OSU for 4 TDs passing and a quarter's worth of clock-killing first downs through the run. Why everyone in the league wouldn't want to imitate that immediately, I have no idea.)

Les Miles broke down a little yesterday while talking about Michigan... or was he talking about this LSU team that is about to take him to a national championship? Talk about mixed signals... Miles made one good point when he said everyone should just focus on LSU's next opponent, but unless he's willing to say "I'm in at LSU" or "I'm in at Michigan," the questions will keep coming. He has all the power in the world to make the questions stop. I don't know whether I respect him or not for the way he is handling it; he's not denying his interest, per se, but he's not exactly acknowledging it either.

Coach of the Year: There's one week to go in the first stage of voting – narrowing the field to a Top 25. There has been a huge surprise surge in the last 7 days, and there is a new leader. Go to to check it out, and while you're there, don't forget to check out my exclusive blog, in partnership with the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. And don't forget to leave your own analysis in the Comments of the LMCOY race this season.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday 11/19 A.M. Quickie:
Brady, Carr, BCS, A-Rod, Celtics, More!

Today's Names to Know: Tom Brady, Chester Taylor, Terrell Owens, Matt Schaub, Lloyd Carr, Kansas vs. Missouri, Tim Tebow vs. Chase Daniel, Michael Beasley, A-Rod and More!

Pats 19-0 Watch: Pats run record to 10-0 after steamrolling the Bills, 56-10.

New England scored TDs on their first seven possessions, and they have found a way to make blowouts interesting. "How badly will the Pats destroy THIS week's opponent?" is the reason to tune in.

Tom Brady had another 5 TD day (with 0 INTs), still tracking for the greatest season for a QB in NFL history. Cripes: It's like the Bye made them even better.

NFL Wrap: (1) Heckuva job, Browns! There isn't a more feel-good story in the NFL this year (including Brett Favre and the Packers) than the Cleveland Browns; they are this year's Saints, without the sociological undercurrents. Phil Dawson's crazy kicking exploits only serve as ideal symbolism...

(2) So given Chester Taylor's numbers, was it really Adrian Peterson or was it the Vikings' offensive scheme? Probably a little more of both than we all wanted to believe...

(3) For once, Terrell Owens has the right to gloat after that 4-TD performance. It's worth asking if it was the best game of his career...

(4) Any remaining doubts that Matt Schaub was worth trading for? What a difference getting over a concussion makes...

(5) Upset of the Week: Who had the Jets beating the Steelers?...

(6) Dolphins 0-16 Watch: At least the Fins opened up a 2-game advantage for the first overall draft pick on the Jets, 49ers and suddenly sizzling Rams...

(Meanwhile, would you rather be a Dolphins fan, where you kind of KNEW you would suck and the epic ignominy of 0-16 is a distinct possibility, or a Chargers fan, where you thought you'd be a contender but your team is utterly disappointing? The Fins fans have it tough, but I think Chargers fans take the "Sucks Worst to Be You" Award among NFL fans.)

CFB: Lloyd Carr to announce retirement from Michigan today. The question, of course is: Who replaces him? The obvious pick is LSU's Les Miles, but that puts Miles in the awkward position of trying to lead the best team in the country to a national title, with an eye (and everyone else's) on a coaching job he seems to want more than his current one. If you're an LSU fan, do you indulge him for the next six weeks in order to get your national title? Or do you put it to him now and say: If you'd rather be at Michigan, get out now.

Other contenders? I'd put WVU's Rich Rodriguez and Cincy's Brian Kelly on my short list. I'm sure others would push Cal's Jeff Tedford; after the way Cal has collapsed since the Oregon State loss, I wouldn't. Is Michigan still one of the Top 5 jobs in college football? Probably not (USC, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, LSU, with FSU and Michigan on the outside looking in). That means if Les Miles does leave LSU , the intrigue over who takes over the LSU job will be even more interesting than the job situation at Michigan.)

UPDATE: Let me clarify. I'm talking about the Top 5 college football coaching jobs TODAY. "History" only matters as it relates to resources and recruiting, which are the two biggest factors in the ranking.

A third would be "opportunity to play for national championships," which is really a function of the first two. Michigan has a relatively easy path to the national title (one brutal game, Ohio State, and whatever Big Ten team is having a particularly and anomolously good year), but you just don't get the sense that the resource intensity is there to the extent that it is at the other 5 I mention.

Why do you think Michigan is defacing the Big House in the face of all that griping about "tradition" from its octogenarian alumni base? Because that's part of the calculation that goes into success on the field.

I'm not saying it's not a great job. It is. It's just not in the Top 5 anymore. Top 10? Totally. Top 5? Sorry, but no.

CFB Weekend Wrap: Down to four, max. It's fairly simple: Only four teams really seem to have any shot at playing in the national title game. LSU and the KU-Mizzou winner have the inside track, but the KU-Missouri winner has to beat Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 title game. (And LSU has to win the SEC title game, by far a less daunting concept.)

If either stumble, West Virginia should be there to take their spot, provided the Mountaineers finish off UConn next week in a de facto Big East title game, then beat Pittsburgh at home in the season finale.

If WVU can't (or both LSU and the KU/MU winner stumble), Ohio State would be in position to back into the title game, actually using the two-week layoff at the end of the Big Ten season to their advantage. (Nice role-reversal from last year's scenario.)

Beyond the BCS title game, the intrigue lies in which teams will be the BCS at-large selections. If the Hawaii-Boise winner is in the BCS Top 12, they get an automatic bid (which would be a shame, last year's performance by Boise State notwithstanding). Hawaii is so overrated, I fully expect Boise State to throttle them, but ultimately be left out of the Top 12.

Given the way things are shaping up, I could see traditional powers who don't win their conference's automatic BCS bid (USC, Texas or Florida, among others) jumping more qualified teams ahead of them in the rankings. All should be within the BCS' at-large qualifications of 9 wins and a Top 14 BCS ranking.

Kansas vs. Missouri, the Lead-Up: The story that will bubble up this week is that this was supposed to be a home game for Kansas, but KU AD Lew Perkins sold the "home" rights to Arrowhead Stadium for $2 million. I'm sure he made the calculation based on Kansas being merely bowl-eligible (and not BCS-contending), but there's a great example of selling out the team and the fans for a few bucks. If Kansas loses the game, Jayhawks fans can and should assign some of the blame to the AD.

This week's BlogPoll ballot: I flip-flopped from last week. LSU is No. 1, followed by Kansas, then Missouri. Obviously, that 2/3 situation resolves itself next Saturday, and the winner of that game will be No. 1 on my ballot, regardless of what LSU does. As mentioned above, I have West Virginia and Ohio State perched at 4 and 5, ready to move up as things shift at the top.

Heisman Watch: It's hardly typical Shanoff homerism to say that Tim Tebow is the front-runner, especially after he became the first player in college football history to run and pass for 20 TDs each.

That said: If Chase Daniel can lead Missouri past Kansas and through the Big 12 title game into the national championship, he would get my vote. Though, under that theory, if Kansas QB Todd Reesing can do the same thing, he would deserve my vote, too. (And, if that happens, he'll get it.) If WVU ends up in the BCS title game and Daniel and Reesing both stumble, I could see the Heisman going to Pat White, too.

Regardless, it's time to bring back the tradition of bringing five candidates to New York for the ceremony, up from three. In the case of the Heisman, "it's an honor just to be a finalist" IS a big deal, and opening that up to a few more players wouldn't hurt anyone.

CBB: When the new polls come out today, I would put Memphis ahead of UNC at No. 1.

Beasley Watch: Meanwhile, if you thought Kevin Durant put up dominant, eye-popping numbers for a freshman, you really need to follow Kansas State's Michael Beasley, who had 28 and 22 in K-State's win over Western Illinois on Saturday. He's averaging 30 and 20. (Yes: 30 and 20.) For those of you old enough to appreciate the reference, it's like Waymon Tisdale two decades later, including the Big 12 orientation.

NBA: The Celtics FINALLY lost. Now, they only lost by 2, the game was in Orlando and the Celtics thoroughly dismantled the Magic in the second half, but still – a loss is a loss.

Amazingly, the Magic won by being out-rebounded 41-28; the difference appeared to come at the free-throw line, where the Magic were 31/44 and the C's were 18/26.

Boston fans didn't REALLY think that the Celtics were going to run the table, did they? Although if the Celtics can win 8 of every 9, they will be just fine; that's a pace for a 72-10 season.

How about the Magic at 9-2, with a win over Boston on their resume? They are showcasing their own "Big Three" -- Dwight Howard (24 and 6, with 3 blocks), Rashard Lewis (22 points), and Jameer Nelson (18 points, 6 assists). Definitely the surprise team of the season so far.

Meanwhile, the Bulls playing the Lakers was a nice moment to second-guess the Bulls for not pulling the trigger on a deal to bring Kobe to Chicago. I guess John Paxson thought that the Bulls would be, y'know, competitive. As they aren't, the missed opportunity is on him. By all accounts, that window is closed.

MLB Awards Season: Today, A-Rod will be crowned AL MVP in what should be a runaway. It was arguably his best individual season yet, though the accomplishments were/are once again diminished by the lack of postseason success and – this year – the inelegant way his contract opt-out was handled by Scott Boras. The only redeeming situation was that A-Rod seemed to minimize Boras' impact in doing his new deal with the Yankees. Needless to say, it is unlikely that this is A-Rod's final MVP award.

MLB Hot Stove: Tom Glavine gets a homecoming with the Braves for 1Y/$8M. Too bad Greg Maddux signed his deal with the Padres, or we could have a full-on mid-90s reunion in ATL.

NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson wins second straight Nextel Cup title. Under Shanoff definitions, that qualifies him as a NASCAR dynasty.

-- D.S.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday 11/18 Quickie: Oh-No!-klahoma

Here's how the title contender list reads today:


It's pretty simple, actually: If LSU wins out, they're in the BCS title game. The Kansas-Missouri winner, should they win the Big 12 title game, are in, too. That's the cleanest version.

If the KU-MU winner loses in the Big 12 title game (or LSU stumbles), the other spot(s) will either go to West Virginia or Ohio State.

Five teams for two spots (with that number dropping to 4 as soon as we have a KU-MU winner next Saturday). That's what we've come down to. All hail the Red Raiders.

-- D.S.