Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday 01/12 (Very) Quickie

Note: Weekend "(Very) Quickies" will continue to appear here as usual, even after the move of the usual weekday early-morning post to Sporting News.

Waiting on NFL Playoffs...: T.O. will play Sunday (or so he implies)... everyone's talking about Ryan Grant as the key to the Packers winning... "21" (Tomlinson) vs. "21" (Sanders) is turning out to be THE numerical matchup of the season... How can you NOT root for the Jags?

Marion Jones sentenced to 6 months in prison: As she should have been. She may have become sympathetic; it doesn't change the crime she committed.

Hawks-Heat to replay contested December finish... in March: This is a wild NBA storyline. Faulty scorekeeping puts 51 seconds back on the clock of a Hawks win over the Heat, to be replayed before their game in March. Probably the most fascinating final minute of an NBA game to be played this regular season.

NFL Draft: Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart turning pro. Many scouts think he'll be the 2nd RB taken behind Darren McFadden. I'm not sure he'll be a better pro than Mendenhall or Jones.

Purdue's Joe Tiller retiring after next season, to be replaced by Eastern Kentucky's Danny Hope: What a difference in transition between Purdue and, say, Michigan.

MLB Hot Stove: Nats sign closer Chad Cordero to 1Y/$6M deal. Necessary part if the Nats want to progress next season (which they will).

College Hoops: Huge game this afternoon between Washington State and UCLA. Don't expect a whole lot of scoring (over/under on combined points: 100?), but it's two Top 5 teams in the intra-conference game of the year.

-- D.S.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday 01/11 A.M. Quickie: Jags, NFL Picks, Ovechkin, R. Bush, Wazzu, Majerus, More!

Today's Names to Know: NFL Playoffs, Jaguars vs. Pats, David Garrard, Jim Schwartz, Tony Dungy, Alexander Ovechkin, St. Louis Billikens, Rick Majerus, Reggie Bush, Washington State, Rasheed Wallace, Felix Jones, Brian McNamee, Marion Jones, Edmund Hillary, Wright Thompson and More!

In case you missed yesterday's announcement. First of all, huge thanks to everyone for the Comments and emails. It meant a lot to me. Here is Darren Rovell's take on the news at CNBC, and MDS' take on the news at Fanhouse.

Second, to be clear: will not only continue, but be better than ever. Even though the usual morning post is over at– there's going to be all new content and gimmicks, daily. Should be a pretty interesting day on Monday.

Now, on to business…

NFL Playoffs: The Jags will beat the Patriots on Saturday night. One astute Commenter noted that it is costless for me to pick the upset – if the Jags win, I claim otherworldly credit; if they lose, they were supposed to lose. (Well, thank YOU, Mr. Cynic.)

Here's the amazing part: I actually think the Jaguars can win. WILL win? That's a pretty strong statement to make – that's the kind of arrogant talk that I expect out of Pats fans. But you're crazy to think it's a Pats gimme. If the Jags can keep it close, David Garrard's legs will put them in position to win, just like he did against the Steelers.

So, meanwhile, I have a new definition of "America's Team." It isn't the Pats. It isn't the Cowboys. It isn't Favre's Packers. The answer is: "America's Team is whoever is playing the Patriots." This week, it's the Jaguars.

I actually think non-Pats fans are torn: On the one hand, it's pretty cool to contemplate witnessing the history of 19-0. On the other hand, it's pretty cool to contemplate witnessing the biggest Goliath-falling ("choke" is the wrong word) in NFL history: The Pats NOT going 19-0. Whether it happens this round or in the AFC title game or in the Super Bowl (yeah, right), it doesn't matter. I suppose it would be more dramatic if they lost to the Colts or blew it in the Super Bowl itself, but I'll take it this weekend, too. (Particularly if I call it.)

The rest of the picks taste chalky:
Colts over Chargers: But it's close.
NFC: Cowboys over Giants; Packers over Seahawks

Redskins interview Jim Schwartz, the Titans defensive coordinator: Schwartz is reported to have had a great interview with Dan Snyder, the first the team has conducted officially with any coaching candidate.

Here's an ironic twist: Snyder has spent his ownership career making incredibly splashy coaching hires; his best hire ever might just turn out to be the lowest-profile name he has ever pursued.

The best reason to support him: Schwartz is a guru of statistical analysis, a Thinking Man's NFL coach; he has worked with Football Outsiders, a group that most certainly would lead a momentum of approval, particularly from bloggers. (Would Schwartz hire F.O. as official consultants?)

More NFL: Is Tony Dungy retiring after this season? He has a career ahead of himself as a best-selling author, apparently. (Let's not insult anyone's intelligence by suggesting that the defending champs can be motivated by something as weepy as their coach announcing his retirement on the eve of, say, an AFC title game against the Pats.)

CBB: Worst. Scoring. Ever. St. Louis set a shot-clock era record by scoring 20 points in a loss to George Washington. 20 points! This is incredible – arguably the most fascinating result of the college basketball season. 7/48 FG… 1/19 3-pt… 7 points at halftime.

"We have some issues in terms of our offensive proficiency": Rick Majerus is one of the most colorful, quotable coaches in all of sports. Amazingly, this sentence was uttered without irony.

Most drubbings are either boring or painful; this one was gloriously epic: Superlatively bad. I have to believe fans in attendance were gleefully scoreboard-watching to see if they could witness history.

Alexander Ovechkin, NHL's highest-paid player ever: 13 years, $124 million. Wow. I don't care if you don't care about hockey; that's one big effing number. Quickie readers know that I am not much of a hockey fan, but I did grow up rooting for the Caps and maintain a nominal allegiance. I'm happy to go get my Ovechkin jersey T-shirt now. (Jersey T-shirts are the adult-acceptable version of wearing a jersey. They're my new fascination. I love 'em.)

Reggie Bush Watch: A new book says he was given $300,000 in cash during his USC career. That's a sensational number, but regardless: Does anyone really doubt that Bush was given some large amount of money while still playing college football by a sports marketer angling to be his representation? What is amazing is that the NCAA has managed to avoid actually investigating this under the glare of public scrutiny, particularly the part about "what did the USC coaches know and when did they know it?"

More College Hoops: Washington State won at USC, in the Cougars' biggest win of the season so far. Everyone talks about UNC, Memphis and Kansas – but Washington State is still unbeaten, too, and a damn good team. East Coast Bias, much? (Or is that East Coast Bias?)

Washington State at UCLA on Saturday afternoon sizes up not just as the best game of the weekend, but as the best in-conference match-up of the season. (Not a high bar, given the way the top teams are spread out throughout many conferences. But still: That's a hell of a statement to say this is the best game of the season between teams from the same conference. Can't argue with No. 4 vs. No. 5.)

NBA Stud of the Night: Rasheed Wallace, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds in a Pistons win over the Spurs.

David Stern: "The Knicks are not a problem at the moment." One thing to remember about the Commissioner: Like Alan Greenspan, he chooses his words VERY carefully, and never says anything without extraordinary care in his word-choice. Keep your eye on "at the moment." (That said, the league didn't punish Isiah, even though he was ejected the other night.)

NFL Draft: Felix Jones turning pro on Monday? He will make his announcement. We're still waiting on Darren McFadden, who must be waiting from the hand-cuff bruises to go away. The gold standard for RB tandems in the NFL Draft is Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. I don't know if McFadden and Jones will BOTH go in the Top 10, but they will make a better pro pair than Brown and Williams.

More Draft early-entry: It's a WR bonanza! Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett (the leading-receiver in SEC history), Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly and West Virginia WR Darius Reynaud are all turning pro early, adding to a deepening WR class that includes Michigan's Manningham and Arrington. What is amazing is that if Texas Tech RS freshman Michael Crabtree was eligible, he might just be taken before all of them – but the NFL insists Crabtree "isn't ready" simply because of his age. Nevermind that he was the best WR in college football last season. After his sophomore season next year (technically three years in college), he can turn pro.

PED Scandal: The MLB and NFL gave $3 million each to the effort of steroid research. I'm not impressed by the number. As a percent of total revenue, it's a blip – particularly given how steroids, as a percent of total pain-in-the-ass for these leagues, is rather large.

Clemens Watch: Brian McNamee met with Federal prosecutors who are looking into PEDs in sports. Maybe that's why he isn't checking his mail for lawsuits from Rusty Hardin. Meanwhile, Clemens is going to speak in front of the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association on Saturday, making a mockery of their convention.

Marion Jones to be sentenced today: It could be anything from zero jail time to six months to a year.

Here's the prediction: Forgetting any underlying crimes (which is a shame, because perjury should be punished severely), I'm betting she gets zero jail time, with the judge buying her lawyers' notion that her public shame is punishment enough.

I could see the judge wanting to make an example that if a star athlete steps forward to admit cheating, their legal punishment won't be as severe.

That said, let's not give Jones TOO much credit: Don't think she would have said anything – anything – if it wasn't obvious that the Feds were going to be able to expose her as the lying cheater that she is/was.

R.I.P., Edmund Hillary, 88: If you consider extreme sports participants to be "athletes," then Hillary was one of the greatest athletes of all time. He's O.G.

Must-Read: Wright Thompson's latest for E-Ticket. Wright is one of my favorite writers; some say he may be the next Gary Smith. I say he's the NEW Gary Smith. Undoubtedly, he is our generation's Gary Smith and the antithesis to the current trend toward shallow (cough!), from-the-couch (cough!) "analysis." Here's an interview with Wright on TrueHoop. Start there, then get to the story.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dan Shanoff Partnering with

Qualifying as a pretty big announcement (at least for, I have entered a partnership with the Sporting News.

Starting Monday, my signature morning product – that began with the Quickie and migrated to the sports blogosphere at – will be found on, both as a stand-alone column on the front page and as part of the Sporting Blog.

As with this blog's daily morning post and the old Quickie, there will be a permanent URL you can bookmark, along with an individual permalink to each day's column (for easy blog linking!)

What can you expect? The exact same thing that you get here! Only with a much spiffier brand attached to it.

The shallow analysis? Still there!
The quick-hit format? Obvs!
The takes on all the must-know storylines? Of course!
The "instant history" and half-baked notions? Um...yes!
The superlatives? (Best. Superlatives. Ever.)
The daily frequency? Monday-Friday!
The "Must-Reads" and hat-tips? Absolutely.
The pop-culture and political sidebars? Is Bunk a drunk?
The grudges and biases? (The guy who hired me is a Florida guy.)
Available when you get to work? If not, what's the point?

The fact is: The signature post I've been doing every morning over the last 16 months on the blog is exactly what you'll still get. (Now, whether THAT is something you find valuable is entirely different.) will continue to be here and active: Better than ever, actually, with more single-topic posts, new enhancements and content gimmickry that I will be rolling out and experimenting with over time.

Each morning on, I will tease the Sporting News column with the day's "Names to Know," then point you to the Sporting News column's URL. Other posts will pop up as inspiration allows. (But you are encouraged to access the column at or directly, making both the column and my blog each a daily destination. I will be able to publish those URLs on Monday.)

Comments at are still welcome (though still moderated), and you can always try to join the on-topic conversation at

Why am I making this return to "mainstream online sports media?" Duh: The money! (Kidding.)

Honestly, there are two factors at work:

One reason was buried in my Deadspin "In/Out" list for 2008: Near the end of 2007, there was a lot of attention paid in old sports media to old sports media journalists jumping online.

The really exciting trend was, not unsurprisingly, left underreported by the mainstream media too fixated on bemoaning the state of their own industry: Mainstream sports media hiring bloggers, as they recognize the value that these new voices bring.

From Henry Abbott joining at the start of the year to Jamie Mottram jumping from AOL Fanhouse to Yahoo Sports to Will Leitch being a staple of the New York Times' Op-Ed pages, sports-blogger value is skyrocketing (as it should be), and the opportunities are emerging as mainstream media recognizes that value.

The second factor: I was intrigued and energized by the specific and unique opportunity to join the Sporting News – for the chance to reach a wider audience, for the chance to help innovate one of the most famous brands in sports media and for the chance to work alongside some of the most respected names in the sports-blog universe.

The columnist lineup that has put together is really impressive. Three recent additions are notable – king-of-their-sport talents who I really respect and admire: Spencer Hall (aka Orson Swindle) of Every Day Should Be Saturday, THE definitive college football blog; Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion, THE definitive hockey blogger; and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who blew up in 2007 as arguably the most influential voice in NFL media.

But, wait, there's even more: Brian from Awful Announcing, the premier sports-media-criticism blog, is involved. had already been using David Pinto from Baseball Musings. They have Will Leitch going down to the Super Bowl. And running the new "Sporting Blog" initiative is Chris Mottram, Jamie's brother and a rising online-sports programming talent in his own right.

I love being part of the sports-blog community, full of the most talented, enthusiastic people and engaged, knowledgeable fans I have ever encountered. Sincerely, it has been (and continues to be) one of the highlights of my career. I am still a sports blogger – now I just export a little blogger "cred" to mainstream sports media, an ironic twist given my origins as a guy who launched an indie sports blog entirely leveraged on my career in mainstream sports media.

And so tomorrow's "A.M. Quickie" will be the last weekday version published in its entirety on before the move on Monday to and

I hope you will still drop by daily for fresh opinion to see what's going on – and I hope you will continue to make the new (but familiar!) column a weekday morning routine.

-- D.S.

Thursday 01/10 A.M. Quickie:
Jags, Carroll, Bobcats, Tilghman, More

Today's Names to Know: Jaguars, Pete Carroll, Arther Blank, Kelly Tilghman, Jason Richardson, Roger Clemens, Pete Carroll, Dayton, Brian Roberts, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kenny George, Tyler Hansbrough, James Davis, Oscar Pistorius and More!

Exciting announcement coming at 10 a.m. ET. Here it is.

NFL Playoffs: Can the Jaguars beat the Patriots? There are more pressing stories today (Carroll, Tilghman, Bobcats, Dayton: See below), but it's the national story of the week, heading for its climax on Saturday night.

Wow, the Jags are talking a lot; that makes me sort of nervous:

"We feel like we can match up with anybody." (Rashean Mathis)

"They're beatable." (Vince Manuwai)

"It would be nice to be the team that eliminates them." (Khalif Barnes)

"0-0": Barnes offered the most reasonable talking point: The Pats aren't 16-0; they are 0-0… in the playoffs. That doesn't make the Pats any less of a juggernaut. But it is a reasonable way for the Jaguars to get their minds around "16-0."

I suppose the Jags have nothing to lose by talking. If the Patriots need Jaguars trash-talk to get motivated to play their first playoff game after a 16-0 season, they aren't the team fans thought they were.

(Coming tomorrow: Will I pick the Jaguars to win?)

Pete Carroll talks to the Falcons: Yes, yes – we know that the Falcons want to interview Pete Carroll; what we didn't know is whether Carroll has any reciprocal interest. I mean, hell, I could say that I want Matt Ufford to be my weekly guest-poster here; that doesn't mean he has any interest.

Well, Carroll DOES have interest, and he spoke with Falcons owner Arthur Blank on the phone yesterday (h/t: Joe Schad). That doesn't mean it will go any further than that or that Carroll is any closer to leaving his near-perfect set-up at USC. But if he didn't have ANY interest, he wouldn't have had the phone call and would have put out a statement saying, "No interest." So there's that.

Golf Channel suspends Kelly Tilghman for two weeks for the "lynch him in a back alley" comment about Tiger Woods. Tilghman and Woods are apparently friendly, according to Woods' agent, and the player is not making any kind of deal about it. If she's not a closet racist, then – as a broadcaster – she's openly stupid, making the suspension appropriate.

Bobcats shock Celtics in Boston: The Celtics had one loss at home; the Bobcats had one loss on the road. Hardly a "something's gotta give" moment. And, yet, there is Michael Jordan's Bobcats, with arguably the biggest win in franchise history, thumping the C's by 12. MJ's top offseason acquisition Jason Richardson led everyone with 34 (making it arguably MJ's best night as an NBA executive, too.)

Clemens Watch: Congress postpones, digs in. The highly anticipated hearing has been moved from next Thursday to February 13 – get your Valentine's Day allusions ready now. It would have been cooler had this story continued at its relatively condensed pace, but Congress wanted to launch its own investigation into Clemens' denials. This is an intriguing development and all, but my default reaction to it is: Congress doesn't have better things to do?

CBB: Dayton beats Rhode Island in the CBB Game of the Month, a battle between two ranked teams from the A-10 – two of the biggest pleasant surprises of the season so far. Dayton's Brian Roberts (who I'm going to start calling "Brian Roberts, All-American") had 22.

Atlantic 10 fans hate it when I call their league a "mid-major," but they are. (They are certainly not a traditional "power conference.") Dayton and URI have been battling all year over who is the nation's top mid-major – Dayton is the pick.

Tennessee hands Ole Miss its first loss of the season: Are the Rebels for real? That was one of the Top 5 questions of the college hoops season as it headed into conference play. A loss to the Vols (one of my Final Four teams, preseason… and still today) in Knoxville is hardly an embarrassment; to push Tennessee to the final seconds is the litmus test, not whether Ole Miss actually won the game.

Kenny George Watch: Dunked on! UNC Asheville's 7-foot-7 center took on Tyler Hansbrough and UNC… and got dunked on by Hansbrough (23 points) in a UNC win that finished up the Heels' perfect regular season. The question: Who's REALLY No. 1 – UNC or Memphis? (Or, as jhawkjjm argues: Is it Kansas?)

More NBA: Blazers beat Warriors, win 12th straight at home, take over first place in the Northwest Division, something that hasn't happened since March 2001. There was a Rose Garden scare when Brandon Roy went down with a knee injury, but he returned.

NFL Draft: Clemson's James Davis – one-half of the second-best one-two RB punch in college football (behind McFadden and Jones) – is turning pro. Two implications: (1) With the juniors, this is turning into a really interesting class: Rashard Mendenhall, Kevin Smith, Ray Rice and, presumably, Darren McFadden and possibly Felix Jones. (2) Davis' backfield-mate CJ Spiller has the carries to himself in '08 – could have a Heisman-quality run in him before Spiller turns pro early, too.

Athletes with prosthetics against the "able-bodied": How do you feel about double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who uses springy prosthetics, competing against "able-bodied" athletes at the Olympics in 2008? The IAAF is about to tell him he can't.

Sneaker News: Air Jordan XXIII officially unveiled. Longtime readers know that I'm a bit of a shoehead. I have seen pics of the AJ23 for a few weeks now, but the official announcement from Nike happened yesterday. Given that it's reported to be the final "numbered" edition of the Jordan shoe, I think the shoe is nothing if not fascinating. Consumer reaction – from kick fiends and casual wearers alike – will be interesting.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NFL Pick 'Em Champ Picks the Playoffs

Special guest-post! Eric Thompson won the Daily Quickie Readers 2007 NFL Season Pick 'Em group. For that, he gets to proclaim his genius to everyone by explaining his picks and analysis for the Division Round. It'll be nice to see someone ELSE get ripped for their picks for once...

GREEN BAY over Seattle: Both defenses are solid, both passing attacks can be dangerous, and most other factors cancel each other out. The difference? Grant somehow became a bona fide NFL running back, and Alexander is too busy looking for a nice piece of turf to fall down on before contact to be good anymore. Seriously, this guy was the MVP 2 years ago? Who knew a broken foot also affected the testicles?

Overhyped "factor": The weather somehow giving an advantage to the Pack. Really? Both teams have to play in the same weather, Green Bay isn't exactly a power team, and the weather sucks in Seattle too.

The only way Seattle can win: They avoid Alexander at all costs, and Brett Favre has one of his classic "no matter how many atrocious interceptions I throw Joe Buck will irrationally justify them" stinkers, circa the 2004 playoffs against the Vikings. (Of course, as borderline-unhealthy rabid Vikes fan, I'm openly rooting for this.)

NEW ENGLAND over Jacksonville: Well, the Patriots are 16-0. Last time I checked, that's pretty good The Jags are a nice team, and sure they match up well, but c'mon. I didn't win the Pigskin Pick 'Em group by picking against New England.

Overhyped "factor": The Patriots having more pressure on them because they're undefeated and anything less than 19-0 is a failure. Hmm…how about the pressure of knowing you'll basically have to play a perfect game on the road against a team that hasn't lost yet?

The only way Jacksonville can win: They play completely out of their minds and the Pats have another "single-handedly destroying the championship dreams of thousands of #1 seeded fantasy teams" game like they had against the Jets on Week 15. (I had Brady, Moss, and Welker in one of my leagues. No, I'm not bitter at all, why do you ask?)

INDIANAPOLIS over San Diego: The defending champs are getting healthy, Gates might be out, and I sincerely doubt Manning throws 6 picks again (and the Colts STILL should have won their first matchup). Indy's just better top to bottom.

Overhyped "factor": The Chargers are "hot" or "on a roll" right now. You know, because the AFC West was REAL tough this year, and beating the Titans' B-squad thanks to all their injuries was so impressive.

The only way San Diego can win: LT shoves Rivers out from under center and takes direct snaps most of the game. I'd feel better about the Chargers' chances if that happened.

DALLAS over New York: I could see a possible upset here—Dallas has stumbled a bit, Popcorn Man is banged up, they don't use their best weapon nearly enough (Barber), and the G-Men have looked pretty darn good. But one thought keeps stopping me short from picking New York: three good games by Eli Manning—in a row? No thank you.

Overhyped "factor": I swear to God, if I hear one more ridiculous Jessica Simpson reference by a chuckling analyst and I'm going to feed my ears through a meat grinder.

The only way New York can win: Romo has a Brett Favre game I referenced earlier (announcers are verbally fellating Romo almost as much as #4 these days), the Giants control the ground game, and Eli actually does have his mythical Third Consecutive Good Game. Just don't blame the swarm of locusts on me if that happens.

Nicely done, Eric! My picks coming Friday. Will I jinx my (or "my") Jags with a prediction that they will upset that Pats in New England? Check back Friday.

Wednesday 01/09 A.M. Quickie:
Carroll, Gossage, Rice, Gibbs, Rod, More

Today's Names to Know: Pete Carroll, Goose Gossage, Michael Adams, Roger Clemens, Ray Rice, Mario Manningham, Ryan Mallett, Mike Martz, Joe Gibbs, LeBron vs. Durant and More!

Pete Carroll to the NFL's Falcons? The team is interested in HIM... but is HE interested in the job?

I just don't understand why he would want to leave one of the Top 3 jobs in college football (perhaps even No. 1), not just to return to the NFL (where his experience kind of sucked), but to the Falcons, a team that isn't just rebuilding, but needs wholesale renovations.

Presumably, Carroll will entertain the notion for about a minute, then stay at USC, where he has built up a perennial contender and rules the roost like no other coach in college football.

Nevermind the fact that top college coaches going to the NFL (and vice versa), even with previous NFL coaching experience, is a bad idea. For Carroll specifically, it makes no sense.

(The Falcons were also given permission to interview Titans D.C. Jim Schwartz, whose Q-rating is hardly at the level of Carroll's.)

Meanwhile, who is Dan Snyder going to hire to replace Joe Gibbs? Do the players want Gregg Williams? Eh: With names like "Pete Carroll" being thrown around by his owner-colleagues, Snyder can't be satisfied.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Goose Gossage was the only one to make it, with Jim Rice falling JUST short. (Oh, just let him in already.)

Gossage threw down the "steroids are SO not over" gauntlet, as a bonus. (Question, Goose: Ever take greenies to "goose" your tireless relief performances?)

Snubs: I can't believe Tim Raines only got 25 percent of the vote; how the hell do these voters keep their status? (Andre Dawson came in a strong 3rd, suggesting that he will eventually make it in.)

Meanwhile, here's my question: If Gossage wasn't good enough for you last year or before that, how/why is he suddenly Hall-worthy?

(Oh: Mark McGwire? Same vote total as last year. Which is to say: Not even close. Cripes: All the guy needs to do is admit his PED use and pledge to spend the rest of his life battling PEDs in youth sports.)

How about this: You get one year of eligibility, with an up-or-down vote from the Hall voters. (When will the Hall of Fame tell the BBWAA that they no longer control this, creating a new panel from scratch?)

CFB Playoff Watch: Georgia president Michael Adams backs 8-team playoff. Note that his openness to a playoff coincides with his own awesome team missing out on the title.

His plan would have the winners of the four major bowls play semifinals a week later and a title game after that.

What he doesn't seem to do is explain how he would fairly pick the 8 teams: Conference limitations? Non-BCS exemptions?

Nor does he explain how he would get the Rose Bowl to buy in to not only dropping its beloved Pac-10/Big Ten default, but to be a quarterfinal game. Ain't gonna happen, even if they promised the Rose Bowl could host one of the semis AND the title game every year.

Scoreboard: Positive points for going public supporting a playoff; negative points for his blatant opportunism; net-zero points for lack of details.

Clemens Watch: You're either with Clemens or with McNamee. For his part (and for whatever it's worth), David Segui is with McNamee.

NFL Draft: Ray Rice turning pro. He was the cornerstone of Rutgers' turnaround, and he became the most reliably productive running back in college football over the past two seasons.

More: Michigan defections. WRs Manningham and Arrington going pro. And, in a move you could see coming the moment Rich Rodriguez joined the program, lumbering 6-6 pocket passer Ryan Mallett, one of the most highly recruited QBs a year ago, will transfer.

As floated in this space a few weeks ago off a theory from a reader, I have to believe Rick Neuheisel will be all over that kid for UCLA, and don't discount June Jones seeing if Mallett wants to come back to Texas to start the revival at SMU.

Are Texas and Texas A&M moving their annual game to Thanksgiving night?

More NFL: 49ers hire Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Get ready for the Alex Smith Renaissance!

Joe Gibbs returning to NASCAR? .

NBA: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. The Cavs won the game, but KD outscored the King. Durant had to leave the game with an ankle sprain. But just wait until their head-to-head battle in, say, 2016.

TV Ratings: BCS ratings were down 17 percent from last year. Was it Ohio State fatigue? Lack of enthusiasm for non-obvious title teams?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tuesday 01/08 A.M. Quickie:
LSU Champs, Ohio State Chumps, More!

Today's Names to Know: LSU, Les Miles, Matt Flynn, Georgia, USC, Plus-One, Joe Gibbs, Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee, June Jones, Bob Sanders and More!

LSU clubs Ohio State, wins the national title: Another year, another dominating performance by an SEC champ over the Buckeyes.

There was a stretch, from Wells' early 65-yard TD run to about the mid-3rd quarter when OSU didn't seem to have a notable productive gain. The consecutive unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties must have drove OSU fans insane.

Credit LSU's defense, which seemed to take offense that OSU laid any claim to being the "No. 1 defense in college football."

But LSU QB Matt Flynn's 4 TD passes: Wow. For a steady but hardly spectacular QB, it was the game of a lifetime. And I think RB Jacob Hester answered any questions about his ability to gain tough yards in the NFL. It seemed like he owned every 3rd-and-short

It was a huge win for Les Miles, a huge win for LSU fans who enjoyed a title won in-state and a huge loss (again) for Ohio State and its fans.

No split title: Georgia finishes No. 2 in the AP poll, with 3 first-place votes. (USC and Kansas each earned first-place votes, too.) In the coaches' poll, USC finished No. 2 ahead of Georgia. So there's a split after all... for who's No. 2.

What next for the BCS? There will be lots of discussion to install a "Plus-One" where they seed 4 teams into two "semifinals."

It remains to be seen whether the Big Ten and Pac-10 will play along (as I've argued, call their bluff and set up a coalition without them).

But consider the 4 teams you would have picked this year: LSU, Ohio State, VA Tech and Oklahoma. After the bowls, 3 of those choices look ludicrous.

And the Daily Quickie Readers Bowl Pick 'Em Group Champ is... Dan Shanoff. Yes, for the first time in my life, I won a fantasy- or pick-em-related competition. Wow.

Breaking: Joe Gibbs retires. I'm not sure how I feel about his "comeback." He seemed awfully out of touch, although he did get the team to the playoffs this year. The big question: Who's the next head coach? You know Dan Snyder wants a big splash: Cowher? Carroll?

Clemens Saga, Cont'd: The defamation lawsuit against Brian McNamee has been filed. (Why wasn't the suit filed against George Mitchell, too?)

Roger Clemens is the new Linda Tripp: Clemens produced a 17-minute tape of a phone call he had with Brian McNamee. Yes, it was as boring as your own 17-minute phone calls.

When Clemens was asked if players who used PEDs were cheaters, he refused to give a clear answer. What about "Yes?"

Clemens came across less defiant than just plain angry (as pointed out by Postman E on Fanhouse). Won't win him any fans.

Clemens seems to be suggesting that McNamee lied in the face of intimidation by the Feds; that's a dangerous claim to make.

Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2008 announced today: I think Gossage gets in and Rice doesn't (and Raines SHOULD, but won't).

CFB Coaching Carousel: June Jones to SMU to resurrect the long-dormant program. Have you ever seen more media around a non-BCS coach moving to a non-BCS school?

(I think he's going to do really well at SMU. He can apply his pass-happy system to Texas recruits; what QB wouldn't want to play for him?)

NFL: Is Joe Gibbs not coming back to the Redskins next year? Would that put Bill Cowher's return to the NFL on an accelerated timetable?

NFL Awards: Bob Sanders wins Defensive Player of the Year. Pretty amazing that the strength of the Colts has gone from the QB to the DB.

Brady, Cont'd: Neglected Tom Brady winning MVP, but that one voter who voted for Favre should lose his voting privileges, let's be honest You have beaten me down, my Commenting friends. Favre was a fair MVP pick -- Moss, too.

NBA: Inspired Warriors beat the defending champs. On any given night, is there a team more capable of beating anyone than the Warriors?

-- D.S.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday 01/07 A.M. Quickie:
BCS, NFL Wild Cards, Clemens, UNC, More!

Today's Names to Know: LSU, Ohio State, Jaguars, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eli Manning, Jon Gruden, Roger Clemens, Kevin Smith, June Jones, Tulsa and Paul Smith, Terrelle Pryor, North Carolina and Wayne Ellington, Rick DiPietro and More!

Oh my god: If LSU beats Ohio State tonight, I win -- WIN! -- the Daily Quickie Readers Bowl Pick 'Em group. (h/t: reader/commenter Steve)

BCS National Title Game: LSU vs. Ohio State. You all know where I stand: I have been high on LSU's championship bona fides most of the season – and equally down on Ohio State. I think this game plays out similarly to last year's national title game, except Ohio State fans won't be so shell-shocked when it happens: Overmatched Ohio State loses decisively to an SEC champ.

But the fact is: LSU brings a ferocious, lightning-fast defense the likes of which Ohio State has never seen. Last year's Florida defense was very good; this LSU defense is even better (and this year's Ohio State offense isn't nearly as good as last year's OSU offense). And LSU's offense is more than versatile enough, between Flynn/Perriloux, Doucet, Hester and Holliday.

Prediction: LSU.

Here's the intrigue: Will there be a split champ? There is one team with a very legit claim to the AP half of the title:


Start with this: LSU didn't beat Georgia during the regular season. They never played (and, unfortunately, we missed a match-up between them in the SEC title game, which I argue Georgia would have won).

They have the same two losses. They played the same brutal SEC schedule. Georgia finished the season hotter -- and playing better. Georgia romped in its BCS bowl win, not just beating the only undefeated team in the country, but absolutely stifling the nation's most prolific offense.

Even if Ohio State beats LSU, I would argue that – this wacky season, if ever – Georgia deserves a share of the national title.

If I was an AP voter, I would have already locked in Georgia as my No. 1 team, regardless of what happens tonight. Let the coaches have their champ, and the media end a season appropriately unconventionally.

NFL Wild Card Wrap. Jaguars, Seahawks, Giants, Chargers advance. Obviously, the Jaguars' win was the biggest of the weekend, because it was the one that creates the first playoff hurdle for the Patriots. More on that later this week.

Chargers stifle VY, Titans: This quickly felt like a gimme once the second half started. Let's wait for Norv Turner's usual season-killing miscalculation next week in Indianapolis. But, still, congrats to San Diego on their first playoff win since 1995.

Giants beat Bucs in Tampa: Suffice to say, Eli Manning really really REALLY needed this win, his first ever in a playoff game. Everything after this is gravy, because this result alone will be spun as "progress."

Jon Gruden insists that tanking the last few weeks of the season "to stay healthy for the playoffs" (my quote) didn't leave the Bucs unprepared for the Giants: Yeah, right. That just doesn't pass the smell test.

Clemens Watch: "It's not a lie if you believe it." Perhaps the most defining (and most memorable) words ever uttered by George Costanza properly puts Clemens into perspective at this point.

Clemens has determined to go the denial route – he has no other choice BUT to convince himself that he is being truthful, which is why I'm quite sure Clemens can offer to take a lie-detector test on "60 Minutes." That's why it is important to watch for any linguistic hedge, such as "My understanding was that he was giving me lidacaine and B-12..."

Meanwhile, Rocket sues McNamee: For all the talk about Brian McNamee suing Clemens, the Rocket struck first, suing McNamee for defamation. Oh, yes, this will get uglier.

NFL Draft: Kevin Smith WILL turn pro. The Central Florida running back was the most prolific RB in the nation this season, both in terms of yards and TDs. He had said he was going back to school, but a weak bowl game and the chance to be a first-rounder now probably seems too tempting.

CFB Coaching Carousel: June Jones resigns from Hawaii. One can only surmise that it's "SMU, here he comes." If it is SMU, I'm looking forward to see what Jones can do with a pipeline to Texas talent and his wide-open offense. SMU will be a poor man's Texas Tech. (Or, I guess if you know the SMU students and alums, a rich man's Texas Tech.) There is still a chance he'll return to Hawaii.

CFB Bowling: Tulsa routs Bowling Green 63-7, and the 56-point difference was the greatest margin of victory in a bowl game ever, topping Alabama over Syracuse by 55 in the 1953 Orange Bowl. Tulsa QB Paul Smith holds a new record with his 14th straight 300-yard passing game. If you're going to win in a blowout, at least it was a record-breaking blowout.

CFB Recruiting: Here's a prediction: Terrelle Pryor will lead the college team of his choice (Michigan?) to a national title before he leaves for the NFL. I'll say it will be 2010, when Pryor is a junior.

CBB: UNC survives at Clemson, but it took a buzzer-beating 3 in overtime by Wayne Ellington, and that was to win by 2. The lesson here? Don't let UNC's non-conference buzzsaw fool you; it's a new season when teams go into conference play, and UNC is not the best team in the country. (That would be Memphis.)

CBB Weekend Wrap: If you spend the regular season (particularly the non-conference season) looking for clues and foreshadowing related to the NCAA Tournament in March, then Texas' win over feisty (and ranked) St. Mary's was one to file away. Yes, the Longhorns are better this season than last season, even without Kevin Durant.

Meanwhile, West Virginia got its first huge win under Bob Huggins, a Big East win over Marquette... staying in the wild Big East, Villanova (coming off a loss to DePaul) beat Pitt.

NHL: Rick DiPietro's crazy all-white goalie pads last the entire game. Wow, he really was worth that gajillion dollar contract the Islanders gave him, wasn't he?

Anniversaries: Five years ago yesterday, I debuted the Daily Quickie on How many of you remember being there from the first day? Regardless, it was a momentous day for me and my career – it's not unreasonable to say that not many (if any) of you would be here today if not for that day and what came every day for the next 3-plus years afterward.

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday 01/06 A.M. (Very) Quickie

Jags survive in Pittsburgh: They blew an 18-point lead, but who cares? The Jaguars won. In Pittsburgh. Again. This time, when it counted most.

OK, I'll say it: The Jags will can beat the Patriots. Of any team remaining in the playoffs, the Jaguars have the best shot at beating the Patriots in Foxboro.

I'm not saying they WILL beat the Patriots, but I'm giving them a puncher's chance. Maybe I'll have the guts to say they WILL beat the Patriots by tomorrow morning.

Seattle ousts Redskins: Unsurprising. Holmgren vs. Favre in Green Bay will draw a big media storyline.

High School All-Star Games: Eh, not necessarily all that exciting, actually. Although dual-threat QB Terrelle Pryor (game MVP) is the real deal. I'm betting he ends up at Michigan, starting as a freshman for Rich Rodriguez in a revamped Michigan spread offense.

CFB Bowl Mania: Rutgers crushes Ball State in Toronto. Ray Rice finishes the season with a 280-yard, 4-TD effort – one of the best individual performances of the bowl season.

Bowling Today: GMAC Bowl. Bowling Green vs. Tulsa. Tulsa flirted in my own personal Top 25 throughout the season; they are one of the more wide-open offenses out there. Who's watching?

CFB Coaching Carousel: June Jones to SMU or staying at Hawaii? I think Jones has done as much at Hawaii as he ever can, and I am curious to see what he would be able to do with Texas talent in a weak conference.

CBB Stud of the Day: DJ Augustin scored 30 and Texas beat St. Mary's in an intriguing non-conference, early-round-Tournament-style matchup.

Clemens Watch: I'm intrigued to see how Clemens performs in front of Congress. (More intrigued, at least, than to see how he performs on "60 Minutes," which was foreshadowed earlier this week: He's gonna deny it. Let's see him do it under oath, with Brian McNamee sitting next to him, also ready to testify under oath.)

-- D.S.