Saturday, December 22, 2007

12/22 (Very) Quickie: CBB Hoops, FAU, Simpson, Blazers, MMA-weather, More!

For the however-many of you checking the blog or your RSS feed today and this holiday weekend...

CBB: What a day today! We get what is arguably the non-conference game of the year (Georgetown vs. Memphs), another battle between Top 10 teas (Michigan St vs. Texas) and a rematch of last season's national title game (Florida vs. Ohio State).

CFB: Florida Atlantic beats Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl (which I overlooked yesterday in my weekend bowl preview). QB Rusty Smith and FAU looked solid when I saw them play Florida; it's a great win for FAU in their first-ever bowl game. Howard Schnellenberger once again proves himself a program-maker.

NFL Tonight: Cowboys vs. Panthers. The most intriguing storyline is how many fans will show up with Jessica Simpson heads on sticks to try to "distract" Tony Romo.

NFL: Taylor to Pro Bowl? Word around Jacksonville (where I am this weekend) is that Fred Taylor will get Willie Parker's Pro Bowl spot after Parker asked Taylor to fill the role after his injury. (Taylor was also first-alternate, but Parker's gesture was extremely gracious.)

NBA Stud Team: The Blazers win their 10th straight. Yes, 10th! And they beat the Nuggets, a division leader. Heading into the league's Christmas Day milestone, is there a bigger surprise this season than the Blazers' success? No, including the Celtics' success.

Stud Player: Kevin Durant scores 27
in Sonics beat Raptors. Hadn't talked much about Durant since the season's first weeks, but he is quickly establishing himself as every bit the scorer he was projected to be.

MLB: Josh Hamilton traded from Reds to Rangers. Hamilton was one of the great baseball comeback stories of the decade. Apparently, the Reds felt they got enough of the "back."

MLB PED Scandal: Sid Fernandez and Pete Rose Jr. were linked to Kirk Radomski. You'd think Rose would be linked to... gambling, naturally. As for El Sid: Steroids? That would explain some things... if a side effect of steroids was turning you into a fat-ass.

More CFB Bowl News: If you had Tennessee winning their bowl, you might want to reconsider now that three starters are academically ineligible for the game. Three bowl games today. Enjoy!

Boxing: "MMA-weather?" Is Floyd Mayweather going to switch to MMA? Needless to say, it would be the biggest news in the sport's history. And, to amp it up, Mark Cuban is going to back him through his HDNet Fights promotional company.

AP Male Athlete of the Year: Tom Brady. Thank you, AP! How much more sensible and smart is that pick than, say, Brett Favre. Brady is a deserving winner (although, like SI, the AP would have been better served picking the Florida starting 5 as AthleteS of the year).

(AP Female Athlete of the Year: Lorena Ochoa. Didn't the AP once pick Marion Jones as their Female Athlete of the Year? Do they want to say anything about that now?)

Deadspin Xmas Poem, 2nd Annual: If you missed it on Deadspin yesterday. So which contributor is going to send me the poem working in all the main DSCommenter names?

-- D.S.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday 12/21 A.M. Quickie:
Najeh, Tuna, Picks, R-Rod, Grimsley, More!

Today's Names to Know: Najeh Davenport, Bill Parcells, Levance Fields, Poinsettia Bowl, Jason Grimsley, Jon Papelbon, Gabe Kapler, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Stuart Scott, Sports Blog Tournament Update, Holiday Wishes and More!

Steelers beat Rams, 41-24: Najeh Davenport! So which fantasy football owner in their league finals on the back of Pro Bowl RB Willie Parker swapped out Parker for backup Najeh Davenport yesterday, foreseeing Parker's injury and Davenport's TWO touchdowns and insanely productive night of action. (No, I'm not talking about your "Hamper Dump Fantasy League," where Davenport remains the Tomlinson of the league.)

Meanwhile, Willie Parker's leg is broken, which is such a shame in a Pro Bowl season where he was leading the league in rushing. Here's to a full recovery for him and another big season next year, for one of the great running back stories of the decade in the NFL. (Not to seem to callous, but if people are thinking about a Pro Bowl replacement, Fred Taylor would be an honorable choice.)

Parcells to Dolphins, Cont'd: Like Dolphins fans, I am looking ahead to what Bill Parcells might do in the offseason, starting with what could/should be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Go the franchise QB route (a la Bledsoe) with Brohm, even though the Fins used a 2nd-rounder on Beck a year ago? Get a franchise tackle in Jake Long? Get a franchise D-lineman in Glenn Dorsey? Or, maybe, trade down for more picks?

Meanwhile, did you hear how effusive Bill Belichick was about the 1972 Dolphins? How genius of The Genius: The '72 Fins look like even BIGGER jerks for their dissing and criticizing the '07 Pats… they can root against them, but you can't deny the '07 Pats as a spectacular team. Beating the Dolphins today will be sweet for Belichich – even sweeter now that Bill Parcells is attached to the team.

Oh, and it'll be extra-sweet for Belichick to top the 1972 Dolphins' 14-0 regular season by beating the Dolphins to take the Pats to 15-0.

This Week's Top 5 NFL Storylines:
(1) Pats 19-0 Watch Continues
(2) NFC Wild Card Madness: Vikings control destiny.
(3) AFC Wild Card Meh-ness: Jags', Browns' to lose?
(4) Fantasy Football playoffs: Are you in your title game?
(5) The Race for the Bottom: So who's tanking?

The Picks (Home team in ALL CAPS)
Cowboys over PANTHERS (HFA Watch)
BILLS over Giants (Game of the Week)
Packers over BEARS (Rivalry game)
BENGALS over Browns (Makes Cincy's season)
LIONS over Chiefs (Kitna will fall short)
COLTS over Texans (Mario vs. Peyton)
SAINTS over Eagles (Must-win for Saints)
JAGUARS over Raiders (Wild Card lock-up?)
CARDS over Falcons (Tank Watch!)
Bucs over 49ERS (Don't tank, Niners!)
TITANS over Jets (Mus-win for Tennessee)
PATS over Dolphins (Oh, the symbolism!)
SEAHAWKS over Ravens (Troy Smith starts)
VIKINGS over Redskins (SNF)
CHARGERS over Broncos (MNF)

CBB: Pitt beats Duke in thriller at the Garden: I was lucky enough to be on a JetBlue flight last night that let me catch the 2nd half and the OT. Levance Fields' game-winning 3 was heavy on the cojones, with Pitt down by 2. And DeJuan Blair (15 pts, 20 reb, 3 blocks) is one of my new favorite players this season: Dominant in the paint AND he plays with amazing enthusiasm… Meanwhile, Oklahoma upset No. 20 Gonzaga.

College Hoops This Weekend: What a lineup of great games, topped by Georgetown-Memphis, which on paper is arguably the best game of the year: A match-up of two teams for whom anything less than a Final Four is a failed season.

Rich Rodriguez fires all holdover Michigan assistants: What else did you think was going to happen? He's got to bring in his own group. Besides, would you really WANT this group?

(Don't cry for them: They get to coach through the bowl loss to Florida AND they get paid through the end of the 2008 season… a nice little golden parachute. Credit Lloyd Carr for protecting his guys by giving them that two-year deal last year, probably knowing that this past season was going to be his last.)

But really: How awkward must things be in the football offices as Carr and his staff prepare the team for the bowl game, ? (Cue "The Office" theme song, with clips of Rod and Carr participating in the annual Michigan football program White Elephant Christmas gift-giving party.)

Poinsettia Bowl: Utah beats Navy in a barn-burner. (Actually, given how lame the first half was, it was a second-half barn-burner.) Can't ask for a better kick-off to bowl season, except if you wanted to see Navy cap a spectacular season with a bowl win. But Utah in bowl games is close to as much of a lock as there is in college football.

College Bowl Mania This Weekend: Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati (Saturday). USM is in between coaches; Cincinnati has one of the best coaches in college football. Pick: Cincy.

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. New Mexico (Saturday). Not particularly a sexy matchup, and doesn't this smack of bowl nepotism? Pick: Nevada.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. UCLA. (Saturday) The Bruins are another team in between coaches; meanwhile, BYU might be the second-best non-BCS-conference team behind Hawaii. Pick: BYU

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. East Carolina (Sunday). Boise State is a long way from last year's BCS triumph, arguably one of the Top 5 bowl games of the decade. Pick: Boise State.

NBA Last Night: What a game on TNT between the Nuggets and Rockets. Double-OT, a last-second one-point win by the Nuggets at home. Carmelo with 37 (and a career-high 16 rebounds) and Iverson with 36. Yao with 26 and 19.

Must-Read: From Free Darko, about Julian Wright, who I happened to see play in person a week ago -- but more importantly, FD remembered that before the 2007 NBA Draft, I said Wright would be "the most Free Darko player" in the draft class. Here's the link. (h/t:'s excellent Court Reporters blog, for the DS name-check in citing this FD post.)

Jon Papelbon's dog ATE the World Series clinching baseball: First of all, what the hell is Papelbon doing with the ball? Shouldn't it be on display at Fenway or in the Hall of Fame? Second, it's just sitting on his counter? If you had a World Series-clinching ball, wouldn't you, like, have it in a nice container on the mantle or something?

MLB PED Scandal: The release of Jason Grimsley's affidavit to the Feds came, oh, about two weeks after it would have any impact. Two weeks ago? "Bombshell!" After the Mitchell Report? "Yeah…and?"

(Although to be fair, Grimsley named Sammy Sosa, who was missing from the Mitchell Report. Sosa-haters have been waiting on this moment, I'm sure.)

Jewish Sports Heroes: Red Sox A-ball manager Gabe Kapler is back in baseball as a player, signing a one-year deal with the Brewers. The moment he is in the same lineup as Ryan Braun will truly be a glorious one. Hanukkah comes late this year!

Stuart Scott cancer diagnosis revealed: Here's to a full recovery for him in his battle.

Sports Blog of the 2007 64-team tournament: is up against MetsBlog and it could be ending before we even get to the Sweet 16! Help out and vote now! (Ugh: It's a rout. Hat-tip to the MetsBlog folks for a fantastic effort in rallying their readers to support them.)

Question: When you lose in a bracket-style tournament, what's the etiquette? Are you supposed to support the team that ousted you (Transitive Property?) or are you supposed to want to see them destroyed (Revenge Factor?).

Happy holiday weekend to you and your family: If you aren't planning on being online between now and after Christmas. I put together my second annual "Night Before Christmas" poem for Deadspin, which should be running today. (Here's last year's.) It's a spin-off of my longtime "Night Before Christmas" poem for Page 2, one of my favorite pieces to write each year. If you want a trip in the Way-Back Machine, here you go.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sports Blogger of 2007 Tournament
I'm Being Crushed By MetsBlog! Vote Now!

Thanks to your votes, I have moved on to Round 2 of the Sports Blogger of the Year 64-blogger tournament. I'm now locked in a struggle with mighty MetsBlog, swamping me by a 10-to-1 voting ratio. Here's the link: Vote now! Tell your friends! Rally for the cause! And thanks!

Thursday 12/20 A.M. Quickie:
Parcells, Celtics, Schilling, Bowls, More!

Today's Names to Know: Bill Parcells, Plus One, Celtics, Knicks, Curt Schilling, Bobby Bowden, Big Ten football, Memphis hoops, College Bowl Pick 'Em and More!

Bill Parcells to run the Falcons Dolphins! What a turn of events. Instead of hope for Falcons fans, another massive disappointment/humiliation.

And for Dolphins fans, between the win last Sunday and potential for hiring Parcells today, this might be their best week in years. Nice little holiday gift.

(It really doesn't matter which woebegotten franchise he takes over; both need his help.)

NFL Tonight: Steelers-Rams. Yeah, I'll be taking the Steelers, who are coming off that tough loss at home (their first) to the Jaguars.

CFB: NCAA honcho Myles Brand supports the ridiculous and regressive "Plus-One" playoff idea. To recap: (1) Reseeding the Top 2 teams after the bowls have been played as usual is ridiculous, patently.

(2) Finding a Top 4 to play "semifinal" bowls before a "Plus-One" title game COULD work... if the difference between the No. 4 team and the No. 5 (or 6 or 7 or 8) team was clear. But it's usually not.

For example: Please explain how you would parse this season into a 4-team playoff. Ohio State and LSU? (Sure.) Oklahoma? (Over Kansas? OK, although Oklahoma lost to two unranked teams, while Kansas lost once, to a team that was No. 1 in the last week of the season.) But let's stipulate to it. One spot to go...

USC? (Can't get over that loss at home to Stanford; how can you pick USC over Virginia Tech? Because USC is hot at the end of the season? OK, fine: If that's your standard, Georgia earns in ahead of USC.) So without trying too hard, I got 5 teams for 4 spots, with no way to fairly decide.

Celtics lose at home (finally): Well, at least ONE team in Boston will lose this fall. The Celtics' perfect home record was snapped by the Pistons (of course it was Detroit).

If the Knicks suck and they beat the LeBrons by 30, what does that say about the Cavs?

More: Is Alonzo Mourning's career over? If so, it was a Hall of Fame career.

MLB PED Scandal: Guess how many players appeared in front of Congress? Zilch. What a difference between this hearing and the famous "Don't want to talk about the past" circus.

Curt Schilling doesn't believe Roger Clemens: Beyond the argument Schilling makes (provocatively, that Clemens should be stripped of his Cy Youngs and wins after 1997), this post put the signature on what has been the sports blog experiment of the year, the next evolution from Gilbert Arenas' pioneering effort in 2006 (which continued in 2007). Schilling's transparency and direct pipeline to the fans (and media) is the model for any athlete.

Must-Read: The Year in Schadenfreude, by Fanhouse's Brian Cook. Fantastic recap, as we head into the time of year when year-end recaps are the norm. Here's the link.

College Bowl Mania: Poinsettia! Utah vs. Navy, where they are simultaneously celebrating an amazing season (headlined by that dramatic, once-a-half-century win at Notre Dame) and lamenting the loss of coach Paul Johnson to Georgia Tech.

FSU academic scandal: The NYTimes correctly points out that if the scandal forces forfeits, that drops Bobby Bowden on the career wins list; with perhaps only one season to go in his career, he can't afford to give away too many Ws.

Big Ten Ref Scandal: I'm two days late to this, but this was yet another piece of crackerjack, headline-making investigative reporting by Yahoo Sports. Let's get to the story...

Did the Big Ten use a ref who was sketchy? (Say, sketchy enough to make some questionable calls? Some, say, "Donaghy-like" calls?)

Here's the thing: I'm quite sure that there are refs with, um, "incentive issues" in every sport, perhaps working almost every weekend or every night.

It's part of the game, and you just hope it never affects your team – or stays at the margins, where most of the expert gambling or point-shaving goes on.

(Take it from a guy who watched a Northwestern running back – on the take – fumble on purpose in an otherwise meaningless game against Iowa. Seriously: My era at Northwestern was like Point-Shaving U.)

College Hoops Tonight: Duke vs. Pitt at Madison Square Garden. One of the Top 5 games so far this season – the first real test for both teams (and a clip-n-save result until March).

(Last night: Memphis rolls on. Given the expectations for this team, anything less than a trip to the Final Four is an utter failure. On the "Utter Failure Spectrum," not nearly as bad as the Patriots not winning the Super Bowl, but certainly more of an utter failure than any other team – including UNC or UCLA – not making the Final Four.)

College Bowl Pick 'Em: Last chance! Sign up using the link on the right. Group name: Daily Quickie Readers. No password needed!

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday 12/19 A.M. Quickie:
Parcells, Pro Bowlers, Clemens, Vitale, More

Today's Names to Know: Bill Parcells, Roger Clemens, Florida State, John Salmons, Dick Vitale and More.

Bill Parcells to run Falcons football operations? Wow. What a U-turn by the Falcons -- it would be such a P.R. and strategic coup for a team smacked down by both the Vick and Petrino scandals.

If this works out, huge credit to owner Arthur Blank for making the boldest move possible. For Parcells, it's a good deal: The Falcons have nowhere to go but up and really need to remake their entire image.

(And, hey, the Falcons sure could use a starting QB: How 'bout Parcells fave Vinny Testaverde?)

NFL Pro Bowlers, The Top Storylines:
Sean Taylor starting: Symbolic gesture of the year in sports.
Starting QBs are Brady, Favre: Well-earned, both.
Rookie sensation: Adrian Peterson. Much-deserved honors.
Biggest snub: Fred Taylor. He deserved it over Joseph Addai.

Roger Clemens goes the "denial" route: I wouldn't keep him out of the hall for the cheating, but I would keep him out of the Hall for lying to fans.

Mitchell proffered at least a minimum of evidence, which you can take for what you will; Clemens offered only his word, which you should take for very little.

If he is telling the truth in his denial, the damage from the Mitchell Report will never be undone; if he is lying, he has just looked all fans in the face and lied to them -- that's brutal.

Here is the question, although it will never be answered: Has Andy Pettitte personally ever seen Roger Clemens do steroids? Let's have someone ask him.

(Meanwhile, isn't there a way for the Feds to call Clemens as a witness in a small case against Brian McNamee, if only to force Clemens to testify under oath -- and either perjure himself or reveal his denial is b.s. by taking the 5th?)

Must-Read: The ghostwriter of Canseco's "Juiced" sent a fascinating Letter to the Editor to the New York Times. Here's a link.

Bud Selig and Don Fehr agree to meet to talk about making baseball's drug-testing policy stronger: "Agreeing to meet" isn't anything close to the same as "agreeing on a deal."

MLB Hot Stove: Are the Mariners about to sign Carlos Silva?

Florida State suspends 25 players in academic-fraud scandal: With those kind of numbers, it will be interesting to see what kind of team they will field in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.

West Virginia Coaching Search: Assistant Bill Stewart is interim coach, but that's only because they have to play a bowl game. Presumably, he will not be Rich Rodriguez's replacement. Stewart may be a fine man and a fine coach, but in this hiring era, he's not "name" enough.

CFB: Tim Tebow named AP college football player of the year. (And, based on the photo of him floating around the Web with an unnamed hottie, he may also be considered as AP's "playa" of the year.)

NBA Stud: John Salmons, who scored a career-high 31 in a Kings win over the Nets. I have been tracking Salmons as a fantasy value pick-up all season long, but haven't pulled the trigger because I keep expecting him to cool off. Instead, he just keeps getting better, it seems.

College Hoops: Kansas seemed to have a little bit of trouble with Georgia Tech... Texas earned a quality non-conference win over a mid-major with a gritty win over Oral Roberts.

Get well, Dickie V: I'm not the world's biggest Dick Vitale fan as an analyst, but I appreciate what he does for the sport of college hoops -- and, of course, I wish him a full and healthy recovery. (Meanwhile, I think fans who haven't yet grasped Jay Bilas' TV brilliance will be pleasantly surprised by a Dan Shulman-Jay Bilas TV tandem.)

Don't forget to vote for this lowly 14-seed in the 64-blogger tournament. (Warning: Site holding the tournament is nominally NSFW... lots of pics of bikini-clad people.) Vote here/now!

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday 12/18 A.M. Quickie:
Vikes, Saban, Rod, Roy, Blogs, Bowls, More!

Today's Names to Know: Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson, Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Brandon Roy, Mike Dunleavy, Mariano Rivera, Fernando Vina, Blogger Tournaments, Bowl Mania and More!

Vikings win 5th straight, zero in on NFC playoffs: The 20-13 win over the Bears wasn't pretty (4 turnovers), but it was effective enough to bring Minnesota within at least one scenario that has them clinching an NFC playoff spot as early as next week. (Rookie of the Year lock Adrian Peterson: 20 carries, 78 yards, 2 TD.) Who saw the Vikings' playoff surge coming?

Must-Read: Fanhouse's Michael David Smith gets an inside look at how "Monday Night Football" is put together. Here's the link.

Did Nick Saban's agent contact West Virginia about its new head-coaching opening?

True or not, this rumor is spectacularly awesome – the best kind of rumor, because it could/should send fans of both the principal teams (along with every other college football fan, along with a few particularly bitter Dolphins fans) into a frenzy. Can you imagine if Saban left Alabama after a season for West Virginia?

(Aside from the sleaziness -- and, given that it's college football coaches and Saban in particular, how un-sleazy do you expect it to be? -- it isn't a bad thought. If you want to compete for national championships, it is easier to do it at West Virginia, where you rule the conference, than it is at Alabama, where the conference rules you.)

Rich Rodriguez welcomed to Michigan: Sure, there are lingering doubts that he's not a "Michigan man," that his spread offense won't take in the Big Ten, that he lost (when it mattered most) to Dave Wannstedt.

But otherwise, how can a Michigan fan NOT be excited? The fact that he's NOT a "Michigan man" should be considered a plus; the marriage of Rod's spread and a creaky Big Ten should lead to on-field pyrotechnics (especially if he adds super-prep Terrelle Pryor); and that loss to Pitt won't be remembered in Ann Arbor if he can beat Jim Tressel.

(Ryan Mallett Update: reader Eric H. thinks that Mallett ends up at UCLA, becoming Norm Chow's latest strapping young QB who turns into a star. It's not a bad theory at all.)

NBA Stud Team: Suns beat Spurs in San Antonio. Here's the thing about the NBA season: This win was meaningless. Call me when the Suns KO the Spurs in the playoffs.

More: Blazers win 8th straight, behind Brandon Roy's 24 points and 8 assists. Roy is working on an All-Star-caliber season and the Blazers are the biggest surprise in the league. (Hey, weren't they supposed to stink without Greg Oden? Just imagine when he returns next season....)

NBA Stud Player: Mike Dunleavy, who scored a career-high 36 in the Pacers' win over the Knicks (including 22 in the 3rd quarter.) Again, this is Mike Dunleavy we're talking about.

MLB Hot Stove: Mariano Rivera finalizes deal with Yankees for 3Y/$45M. Mo plays a key part of the Yankees' "old-new" strategy.

Mitchell Report: Having tons of names in the Report didn't scare the Dodgers away from signing another Mitchell name, catcher Gary Bennett.

Fernando Vina admits using HGH: If he was smart, he would volunteer to become ESPN's permanent "PED Analyst."

Hot meme: Using HGH to rehab injury before it was outlawed by MLB isn't so bad and certainly isn't as bad as using illegal steroids.

(If you applied the same standard to amphetamines as MLB PED hysterics did to HGH, it would cover ALL players and go back 50 years.)

Best Sports Blogger of 2007 Bracket: As reported yesterday, I'm seeded No. 14 in the South Region, with a very tough match-up against the 3-seed Brothers Mottram of Mister Irrelevant. Let's produce a world-shaking upset! Vote here. Vote now. (Warning: Browser opens to pictures of people in bikinis. SFW? Your call.) Support the cause! (Voting ends Wednesday. Coming tomorrow: A look at the rest of the bracket.)

CFB Bowls Preview: My latest Deadspin column, published yesterday, breaks down every single bowl game, along with its sponsors and a prediction.

Reviving a Daily Quickie tradition, see if you can match the sponsor to the bowl game:

Konica Minolta
R&L Carriers
Bell Helicopter
San Diego County Credit Union
Pacific Life
Gaylord Hotels

Music City
Armed Forces
Las Vegas
New Orleans

Answers found in my Deadspin post. Don't forget to sign up to compete in my Bowl Pick 'Em. Use the link on the upper-right. Group name: Daily Quickie Readers. No password needed; it's an open group.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday 12/17 A.M. Quickie:
Fins, Pats, NFL, Coach Rod, A-Rod, More!

Today's Names to Know: Greg Camarillo, Tom Brady, Vikings, Jags, Brett Favre, Michael Spurlock, Tony Romo, Jessica Simpson, Fred Taylor, Jamal Lewis, Matt Moore, Rich Rodriguez, Terrelle Pryor, A-Rod, Scott Boras, Brandon Roy, Ty Lawson, Wake Forest men's soccer and More!

UPDATE: One enterprising blogger has created a 64-name tournament to name Sports Blog of the Year. I am a 14-seed in the South region, going head to head with 3-seed Mister Irrelevant, a combo of the Mottram Brothers, Jamie and Chris (no slight intended, CM!). Let's pull an upset! VOTE NOW/HERE.

Dolphins win: 0-16 Oblivion averted! It took OT and it took a home game against the Ravens (who appear to have simply given up following the near-miss against New England), but who cares?

The Dolphins will not go winless for the season. This is huge enough that it eclipses the Pats' streaking to 14-0 as the biggest story of the NFL Weekend.

Greg Camarillo may do nothing else for the rest of his NFL career, but after scoring the game-winning TD, his name will live on in triumph among Dolphins fans; he will never have to buy a drink in Miami again.

Pats win: 19-0 still alive! 14-0 ties the record for best regular-season start. They can set a new record next week.

(Of course, as it has been since the beginning of the season, anything less than a Super Bowl title is a failure of all-time epic proportions.)

BUT: How many fantasy owners who rode Tom Brady to top seeds in their league playoffs found themselves bounced out on the back of Brady's unusually weak individual stats?

Playoff Watch: NFC. The four divisions are locked up by the Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks and Bucs. The Giants (9-5) and Vikings (7-6) would be the Wild Card teams if the season ended today, but it doesn't.

The Saints and Redskins (both at 7-7) stand to gain with wins and help. You can be sure they are rooting for the Bears against the Vikings tonight. Five other teams are also still mathematically in the WC race.

Playoff Watch: AFC. It's all but figured out. The Steelers and Browns are both in right now at 9-5, but it's unclear which will win the division and which will be the Wild Card. The Jags (10-4) are a near-lock for the Wild Card. The Titans (8-6) need to win AND get help.

Milestone Watch: Brett Favre set the career yards-passing record. Still shouldn't qualify him for SI Sportsman of the Year, but I'm going to let that go now.

More Milestones: Michael Spurlock became the first Bucs player ever to return a kickoff for a TD. Doesn't that seem like a strange stat in this day and age? (It's like no Mets pitcher ever throwing a no-hitter, except you'd figure that KO returns for a TD would be much, much easier to accomplish.)

Tony Romo should be embarrassed: Not for his Cowboys losing at home to the Eagles, but for allowing his girlfriend Jessica Simpson to wear a PINK No. 9 Cowboys jersey, setting back the "women-as-fans" movement about a decade or so.

(Meanwhile, Brian Westbrook taking a knee at the 1 when a TD could have been his, because it made more strategic sense to let the clock run out than to score, was the Play of the Weekend -- but the Worst Fantasy Football Play In The History of Fantasy Football.)

Chargers sizzling: San Diego clicking JUST enough to tease the majority of fans who are anti-Pats that there might be one team in the AFC that can stop New England in the playoffs...

Jaguars, NFC's Best? Wow, the Jags actually won in the cold (against a previously unbeaten-at-home playoff-quality team, no less)... If the Jaguars were in the NFC, after a breakthrough they-can-win-anywhere win like this, we would be talking about them as being the best team in the conference... It's going to be very cool to see Fred Taylor (147 yds, 1 TD) finally make his first-ever Pro Bowl this week...

More: Speaking of unlikely Pro Bowlers, how about Jamal Lewis (Sunday-high 163 yards rushing)... Oh, NOW Vince Young has his breakout game?... Earnest Graham has a good shot at Fantasy Waiver Pick-Up of the Year... Congrats to Matt Moore, the Panthers QB got the W after becoming the fourth starting QB for Carolina this season...

MNF: Bears-Vikings. How can you not be rooting for Adrian Peterson to lead the Vikings to the playoffs? With so many teams in the NFC at the Wild Card periphery, if you would like the final two weeks of the season to be insane, you are rooting for the Bears.

Michigan hires Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia: What a coup for Michigan, which had been a mockery during their coaching search.

Instead, they end up with arguably the best coach on the market -- yes, that includes Les Miles.

Now, the only pause for Michigan fans would be that Coach Rod was completely baffled by that great coaching mind, Dave Wannstedt.

Still: It gives Michigan (and the Big Ten) some much-needed sizzle. And it sets back WVU, which had become a consistent Top 10 contender.

One huge recruiting implication: Dual-threat QB Terrelle Pryor, the top player in the country, has put Michigan among his list of finalists, and I am predicting he follows Coach Rod to Ann Arbor, giving the Wolverines a player who is like the love-child of Pat White and Tim Tebow. (And Michigan has a slick freshman RB coming in next year, Sam McGuffie, who will be Coach Rod's Steve Slaton from Day 1.)

(Presumptive Michigan 2008 starting QB Ryan Mallett couldn't be a worse fit with Rod's offense -- Mallett, one of the Top 3 QB recruits a year ago, is 6-6 and plodding. Have to believe he'll go elsewhere. Hmm: Texas? Texas A&M? Houston? Another school in Texas?)

More: WVU fans are, understandably, a little ticked off. But as great as the WVU job was (and as great of a fit as Rod was there), Michigan is an even better job with legendary upside. (For older WVU fans, they can simply look at former WVU coach Bobby Bowden, who left to take over at a rising program called Florida State.) Should be intriguing to see who they hire to replace him. Rodriguez won't coach WVU in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, which is as good as giving the Sooners the game.

(The most pressing question, of course: Will Rodriguez have any hand in preparing Michigan for the Cap One Bowl against Florida? I presume the deal is that Lloyd Carr will get his swan song. As the Gators break out the spread offense and beat Carr senseless with it, I'm sure Michigan fans will happily accept defeat and simply proclaim, "That could be us next year.")

Trip in the Way-Back Machine: September 14, 2006, when Maryland was playing West Virginia and I floated the notion that Michigan's coaching short-list (should they jettison) had Rich Rodriguez at the top. This was two weeks into the blog's existence; it even earned me my first email from MGoBlog's Brian Cook. 15 months later, I would like to say "Told you so!" (Wow, go back to those September 2006 blog posts: Having no job apparently gave me all sorts of enthusiasm and stamina to write posts all day, about interesting single topics, etc. Wild.)

MLB Mitchell Report fall-out: Alex Rodriguez said on "60 Minutes" that he never used PEDs, because – frankly – he never felt the need to. Given that the Mitchell list was populate with aging, hurt or just plain mediocre players, that's not such a crazy line for A-Rod to push.

(Jose Canseco said he couldn't believe A-Rod wasn't in the Mitchell Report. Given how ahead of the parade that Canseco has been on steroids in baseball -- forget your problems with him personally or his delivery issues, but the guy has been the biggest truth-teller in the whole mess. If he would just get a personality transplant, he could have been the hero in this thing.)

He was also 6 weeks too late in expressing remorse for the way his contract opt-out happened during World Series Game 4. If he was so aghast by his agent's ploy, why didn't he say something the next day?

Speaking of Scott Boras: He isn't going to win by defending player HGH use in the media; on the other hand, if he is looking to prove to clients (and potential clients) that he's willing to say or do anything to be their agent, it was an understandable gambit. After all, he has been neutered by the A-Rod fiasco.

Meanwhile, the Orioles, who -- along with the Dodgers and the two Yankees pitchers -- took the brunt of the Mitchell Report, aren't sitting pat. They are actually questioning the report. I'm sure that will make Bud Selig none too pleased. (By the way, the O's should also answer for the coincidental, day-before timing of their Tejada trade.)

MLB Hot Stove: Are the Mets and Yankees going to get into a little bidding war over Mark Prior?

NBA Stud: Brandon Roy with the double-double and the W.

CBB Stud: Ty Lawson, who had a career-high 26 for No. 1 UNC in a win over Rutgers.

NCAA Men's Soccer: Wake Forest wins the title. And, once again, Ohio State makes it to a national championship game only to fall short. Are they the Buckeyes or the Bridesmaids?

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday 12/16 (Very) Quickie

Rich Rodriguez to coach at Michigan, leaving West Virginia: This is huge. Coach Rod represents the absolute best-case scenario for Michigan fans -- the absolute best coach available.

Instantly, the Keystone Kops routine of the last month is forgotten... and so is Les Miles. Rodriguez will bring a sizzling offensive system to a stagnant Michigan program (and a Big Ten conference that needs the boost of energy).

One quick observation: Lumbering 6-6 QB Ryan Mallett, next year's presumptive starting QB, does NOT seem to fit in Rodriguez's system. He's already got a controversy! Anyway, that's for the spring game.

For now: Congrats to Michigan fans (and, yes, AD Bill Martin) on a HUGE score.

49ers beat Bengals
: The ultimate symbol of Cincy's lost season? Meanwhile, this was the game that 49ers fans had been waiting for: QB, RB and WR all clicking.

But it wasn't Alex Smith: It was backup Shaun Hill (in his first NFL start), who passed for nearly 200 yards, throwing and running for TDs. Plus: Frank Gore had a season-high 138 yards rushing. Darrell Jackson had 8 catches for 86 yards.

It was enough for 49ers fans to say: Hmm, maybe next year. (Although giving up that first-round draft spot to the Pats in '08 will make the leap slightly tougher. By the way, how bummed are Pats fans to see the 49ers win the game and slip down the draft board? "Bummed," of course, is relative; they're still picking in the top 10.)

Andy Pettitte admits using HGH: Pettitte understands the climate in a way that buddy Roger Clemens doesn't; players named in the Mitchell Report are better off getting out in front of this story by 'fessing up and showing contrition. You can 'fess up and probably be absolved (but tainted), or you can deny and -- truthful denial or not -- spend the rest of your life battling. If a player sincerely didn't use PEDs but were named, I do feel bad for them. But I seriously question how many names on the list were falsely accused. No, I do not believe David Justice.

CFB Title Games: Wisconsin-Whitewater beat Mount Union in the D-III title game; Justin Beaver had 249 yards and a TD... Carroll beats Sioux Falls for the NAIA title; shout-out to my former Quickie editor and proud Carroll alum David Schoenfield.

CFB Coaching Carousel: Norm Chow to interview at UCLA; here's hoping he gets the job. Meanwhile, per MGoBlog, it looks like Rich Rodriguez is staying at West Virginia; another slap in the face for Michigan.

CBB: Arizona State with a nice quality win over Xavier... Oregon lost to Nebraska... Louisville lost to Purdue in Indianapolis... Tennessee got a challenge from Western Kentucky...

HS Football: Northwestern (Miami), the No. 1 team in the country, won its state title and likely locked up a national championship. Pretty dramatic turnaround season, given that the team was almost folded due to off-field scandals.

Waiting for the Pats-Jets game. Just got a new HDTV (my first ever, actually) and excited to see what NFL looks like on it.

In the first minutes of hooking it up, I turned on the D-III championship game last night and was blown away by the viewing experience.

(And people are right about hockey in HD: The league really blew it by not defining itself as "The Official Sport of High-Def.")