Saturday, October 11, 2008

College Football Saturday Live-Blog

No baby yet.

UPDATE 8: Totally ready for the nightcaps. Although there's still plenty of time for my original prediction that my wife will go into labor during the Florida-LSU game and we'll be away from the TV by the time the 4th quarter starts.

Nebraska blew it in Lubbock. They should have gone for 2 at the end of regulation, rather than taken their chances in OT. Texas Tech is unbeaten, but they sure didn't look like the No. 7 team in the country.

: More on Who's No. 1, as I suffer through Northwestern getting shellacked by Michigan State in Evanston. (Could be worse: I could be a Vandy fan -- they're about to lose to Mississippi State -- or a Tennessee fan, losing big at Georgia.) Here's why a Mizzou win tonight is moot, in terms of being overlooked for No. 1 this week: They play Texas next week. If they beat Texas -- especially a No. 1 Texas? -- the Tigers will deserve to be No. 1. So sit tight, Mizzou fans.

UPDATE 5: I don't know what Brent and Kirk are talking about. Texas is the unquestionable No. 1 team in the country, and I can't understand anyone who argues differently -- and that includes even if LSU wins in Gainesville and Mizzou clocks Oklahoma State. Texas is No. 1. They just took the best shot of the No. 1 team in the country and won by a clear KO. Man, what a big win. And how awesome is it when a Game of the Year lives up to its billing with an awesome back-and-forth slugfest.

Let me clarify -- affirm or overturn the call, I don't care. What I care about is that the refs take the 1 minute to freaking ensure the integrity of the most iffy calls. And that there is some system in place to ensure that replay is put into use, rather than bafflingly ignored.

: That end-zone INT wrong-call (along with the 2 sketchy TD calls earlier) is Exhibit A why college football needs a more clear guideline for how/when to use replay. If not in that case, then WHEN, exactly?!?! Coaches should have 2 challenges per game, and refs should be extra-careful to use review (is is supposed to come from the replay booth upstairs?) any calls in the end-zone, either TDs or turnovers. This is embarrassing.

UPDATE 2: That Nike football ad is amazing.

UPDATE: Hell of a game so far in Dallas. If you have watched a lot of college football this season, you recognize these two teams are playing at a higher level than pretty much every other team (including Missouri). And I had KFC for lunch. Damn, is that KFC unhealthily delicious.

What I'm watching today:
Noon: Oklahoma-Texas (ABC)
3:30: Northwestern-Mich St (ESPN2)
(Look-in: Purdue/Ohio St on ABC)
8: Florida-LSU (CBS)
(Tracking: OK St-Mizzou, ESPN2)
(Tracking: Penn St-Wisco, ESPN)

Wow, the night lineup is exceptional, even if I wasn't a Florida fan.

Saturday 10/11 (Very) Quickie

No baby yet.

CFB Day-Long Set-Up Coming Shortly.

(1) Not only am I on the Rays' bandwagon, but I hate the Red Sox -- so last night's Game 1 result was twice as crappy.

(2) Wow, the Phillies seem to be on a mission, don't they? (Brett Myers: Mr. October... at the plate.)

(2a) Undoubtedly, they were inspired by manager Charlie Manuel, whose mother died yesterday morning, but he stayed with the team to manage the game.

(3) NBA Preseason: David Lee is going to have an absolutely monster season (19 and 15 in the NYK win last night)... Rookie of the Night: Kevin Love (9 and 11 in a T'wolves loss)... The Bulls are going to be terrible (Rose: 13 pts, 6 ast)...

(4) CBB: Kentucky's new uniforms have the privilege of being the ugliest in the sport.

(5) Canseco caught smuggling steroids? Hahahaha.

(6) I'm late on this, but who the eff would even joke about Magic "faking" AIDS?

(7) Rece Davis: G.O.P. operative? (I actually think that Rece is the best, most well-researched studio host in the entire network, regardless of sport -- even better than Fowler. He's very good with the pop/news-cultural references; this one may have tipped his hand. Fans hate when sports are merged with politics. I'm assuming this one whipped by most. The Atlantic's excellent political reporter Marc Ambinder caught it.)

-- D.S.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yes, But Will Tebow Do The Circumcision?

Exciting news: Tomorrow Today is Mrs. Quickie's due date to have our second child, another boy.

Rewind to roughly 9 months ago, when the doctor pegged the due date on October 11. Me: "But that's the Florida-LSU game!*"

(* - NOT my reaction. My immediate reaction.)

While there is no guarantee it will happen tomorrow, I am holding on to what I feel is a very medically sound theory that we will be in the delivery room precisely at the start of the 4th quarter of a close game.*

(* - NOT that I will care about the game at that point. Or, let's be honest here: I'll have the game on TiVo and will merely remind the nurses and doctors and various family members not to mention the result until I'm able to get home and watch. And the one upside of labor on a Saturday is plenty of college football to keep both my wife -- and me -- occupied**.)

(** - NOT trying to insinuate that watching college football somehow reduces the pains of labor. But it just might make it go by a little faster and more distractedly. OK: At least for me.)

No, we don't have a name picked out yet. Even now.

Back in the spring of 2006, before the birth of Kid No. 1, there was a running meme in my daily chat on, the Morning Quickie. There was some early discussion that I would name him "Joakim," which -- while awesome -- would make for an awkward bar mitzvah invitation.

Then, there was some discussion that I would pick "Noah" -- same homage to the Gators basketball team, less polarizing. And, in fact, Noah is a fantastic name. It actually made one iteration of our "baby-name short list," until I disqualified it precisely because I didn't want the kid going through life with people THINKING I named him after Joakim Noah.

For Kid No. 1, "Gabe" worked out fine -- and, as an added bonus, there was a modest connection to a notable sports name -- Gabe Kapler (my son Gabe's middle name starts with a "K," so it works out even better). How could I not appreciate the connection to that rarest of men, the major-sport Jewish pro athlete? (And I don't remember the MQ chatters ever guessing it.)

But it's true for this kid, too: Ideas for names came up -- and were discounted (and perhaps even reassured) -- because of a connection to an athlete or name from sports who I happen to dislike (or like). You simply can't help it.

And then there is the mother of all relevant baby-name questions:

Did "Tim" or "Timothy" make the short list?

I cannot possibly name my kid after Tim Tebow, can I? There's no question, as my Deadspin fans like to celebrate: He is my favorite athlete ever. He is a model person. It certainly wouldn't be a terrible choice, and it's actually a fine, normal name (unlike, say, naming your kid "Peyton," as so many in Tennessee did in the mid-1990s.)

But, no, while I won't reveal the top contenders -- though I have received some great suggestions over the past 36 hours, including more than a few guesses it would be "Tim" -- I will reveal that "Timothy" did not make the final cut, either as a first name or a middle name.

(No, "Tebow" did not make the cut for middle name, either. Though I appreciate you thinking it might... and though I'm not quite sure what that says.)

I will, however, offer an open invitation to Tim Tebow to come up for the bris, 8 days after the birth date. (Oh, you know why I want him there: Sure, you could NAME your kid after Tim Tebow, but it's a much better story to have him join the mohel for the circumcision. Tebow might even learn some new tips. Zing!)

Believe me: The Tebow/Shanoff-bris meme will be worked over on the blog between now and the bris itself. I cannot help it. As soon as I heard about Tebow's turn as the missionary mohel (after I knew my wife was pregnant), I knew I was on a collision course with this topic.

Anyway, as much as I would love to update the blog throughout the glorious event -- or via Twitter, or via updated Facebook status (can you imagine: "Dan is...coaching a birth!" Shortly after: "Dan is...facing divorce!"), if you don't see me on the blog in any given moment, that's why.

So: "Tim Shanoff" or "Tebow Shanoff." Ummm, no. But your name suggestions, guesses or advice, via the Comments, are always welcome.

More later (this time uttered with an epic degree of understatement).

-- D.S.

UPDATE (Saturday a.m.): No baby yet. Here's another tip on naming your baby, inspired after one commenter suggested "Levi" -- not sure if he was serious or kidding. Here's the tip:

If a potential name is nominated and the first person you can think of who shares that name is a douchebag (ie, Levi Johnston), do NOT give your baby that name.

(Now, in 20 years, we may have forgotten all about Levi Johnston. But for these next few months -- which is the only real time people care about a kid's name, just after they're born -- it's a millstone.)

College Football Weekly Preview and Picks

Oklahoma-Texas is an order of magnitude bigger than USC-Ohio State, which turned out to be a battle between two teams either of which arguably not worthy of being in the Top 10.

But OU-UT -- by far the biggest rivalry game of the year and, for now, the biggest game of the year, period -- isn't just about who gets pole position for the Big 12 title and the BCS title game. It is representative of the Big 12's "Big" year -- when it eclipsed the SEC as the best conference in the country.

(It's a sign of the Big 12's depth at the top that Mizzou-Oklahoma State is, itself, a massive game. Anyone willing to take the Over if I set the O/U at 100?)

I'm torn: Oklahoma's passing game should be able to exploit UT's defensive weaknesses; on the other hand, new UT defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is the best D.C. in the country -- ask any Florida fan. If anyone can scheme to stop the Sooners, it's Muschamp.

Speaking of the Gators, they have a make-or-break game against LSU at the Swamp in primetime. They beat LSU there two years ago en route to the national title, and last season, in Baton Rouge, Florida played its best game of the season -- and played LSU as tough as anyone did in B.R. all season -- but lost enough 4th-down battles to lose the game. (For what it's worth: I think Tim Tebow goes back to the old Tim Tebow for this game; if they were "saving" him with their offense this season, this is the time to cash in. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.)

Great, great weekend of games ahead.

BTW: Great post on why the BlogPoll matters. I'll get to my post about it eventually.

Let's get to the picks:

(1) Oklahoma over (5) Texas -- Game of the Week
(3) Missouri over (17) Oklahoma State -- O/U: 95?
(11) Florida over (4) LSU -- GOTW Jr.
(6) Penn State over @Wisconsin
(7) Texas Tech over Nebraska
(8) USC over Arizona State
(9) BYU over New Mexico
(10) Georgia over Tennessee
(12) Ohio State over Purdue
(13) Vanderbilt over @Mississippi St.
(14) Utah over @Wyoming
(15) Boise State over @Southern Miss
(16) Kansas over Colorado
(20) Auburn over Arkansas
(21) Wake Forest over Clemson -- locked Thursday
(22) North Carolina over Notre Dame
Northwestern over (23) Michigan St. -- !!!!
(25) Ball State over @Western Kentucky

Other Games To Watch:

Friday 10/10 A.M. Quickie:
Oklahoma, Texas, Phils, Rays, NFL Week 6

I am very excited about the ALCS, but tomorrow is a big day in college football, as I lead with in today's SN column: Headlined with Oklahoma-Texas at noon, then Northwestern(!)-Michigan St at 3:30, capped by Florida-LSU at 8. (Mizzou-OK St is a biggie, too.)

I'll dig into it more in the weekly CFB preview post coming around 11-ish, but OU-UT is arguably the regular-season game of the year -- much much bigger than USC-Ohio State. (Hindsight, but still...)

Meanwhile, big Game 1 win for the Phillies, behind Hamel's pitching and one inning of long-ball. In a 7-game series, it's hard to ascribe TOO much to a Game 1 win won by the home team, but it's a start.

Who else is excited about the NBA's outdoor game tomorrow night?

More later. Sorry for the short first post today. Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

CFB Weekend Preview -- Thursday Edition

Wake over Clemson -- at the wire!

All Top 25 picks coming tomorrow, 11-ish.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Off For Yom Kippur

No posts or SN column from Wednesday night through Thursday evening in observance of Yom Kippur.

Back again on Friday morning, bright and early. In addition to the extra interpretation of the SN column and the usual CFB and NFL previews, expect a hugely exciting announcement.

(I will provide a hint now, likely resonating only with those of you who used to hang out during my daily "Morning Quickie" chat at Don't pick "Joakim" in the pool.)

-- D.S.

My Final BlogPoll Ballot This Week

Here is my final ballot for the week; the final group BlogPoll ballot comes out on shortly found here. More on the importance of the deal later. (Here is BlogPoll administrator Brian Cook's intro post about it.)

1 Oklahoma 1
2 Missouri 3
3 Texas 1
4 Alabama 3
5 LSU 2
6 Penn State --
7 Brigham Young --
8 Texas Tech 1
9 Vanderbilt 14
10 Southern Cal --
11 Utah 1
12 Boise State 1
13 Georgia 2
14 Florida 3
15 Ohio State --
16 Oklahoma State 4
17 Ball State 4
18 South Florida 10
19 Kansas 3
20 Tulsa 5
21 Michigan State 3
22 Northwestern 4
23 Georgia Tech 3
24 Cincinnati 2
25 TCU 1

Dropped Out: Auburn (#14), Wisconsin (#18), Fresno State (#19), Connecticut (#22).

Wednesday 10/08 A.M. Quickie:
Rays, Red Sox, LCS Picks, Elgin, Oden

Rays in 7. That's the pick for the ALCS in today's SN column. (Quickie jinx, be damned.) Why? Home-field advantage? Perhaps. But how about the fact that the Rays proved in August that they can win at Fenway -- even take 2 of 3.

Obviously, the playoffs are another story -- and I'm already inclined to pick defending champs to repeat (especially in pro sports), let alone the Red Sox, who are the preeminent franchise in baseball (and perhaps all of sports).

But I can't shake the Rays bandwagon -- the Rays' season-long Cinderella story. They may not even win the World Series, but to vanquish the mighty Red Sox would alone be monumental.

Meanwhile, I pick the Dodgers in 7, although I have to confess that I flip-flopped a few times before finally settling in on the belief that the Fates are ultimately out to hurt Phillies fans. (It's not SABR-friendly analysis, no, but I presume the SABR community would make exceptions for this.)

Big big news in the NBA: Greg Oden made his debut. Don't expect him to be the next Olajuwon or Ewing. I think his impact will be similar to what happened for him in college: His presence was simply so disruptive that he made the team around him infinitely better. That may or may not show up in the box scores (eventually, perhaps), but you'll see it in the standings.

Meanwhile, longtime Bullets fans will recognize the pattern: Star signs big contract; star gets injured. We'll see what the story is with Antawn Jamison's knee, but at that price, it can't be good. Kornheiser used to call it the "Le Curse of Les Boulez."

*OKSt-Mizzou will be more fun than Oklahoma-Texas.
*Tebow turning pro? Why not: QB who can "Wildcat"
*Elgin Baylor: Nice guy, terrible GM. For like 20 years.
*"Bull Durham" should never get a sequel.

My final version of this week's BlogPoll coming later this morning. (Yes, I nudged USC up, per your comments.) The full group's final BlogPoll will be up later today, too.

Complete SN column here
. (Note: No SN column -- or blogging -- from me tomorrow during the day. I'll be observing Yom Kippur.)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday 10/07 A.M. Quickie:
Rays, Red Sox, Reggie Bush, Big 12, More

In the lead of today's SN column, I put the newly minted ALCS showdown in the starkest -- and most culturally relevant -- terms:

The Rays represent hope; the Red Sox represent the status quo.

With that kind of choice, how can you NOT vote -- oops, ROOT -- for the Rays?

Meanwhile, the Angels totally blew it -- SABRmetrically and otherwise -- with that suicide squeeze attempt. Remains to be seen if they take their payroll to new levels in the offseason.

The White Sox actually exit the playoffs with their heads held high: They won not one but two "play-in" games to make it, and unlike their cross-town rivals, actually won a game (a home game, no less).

Only one team can win a championship and usually, the other playoff teams go home incredibly disappointed; I think the White Sox can go home content -- compare that to the fates of Cubs and Angels fans (or even Brewers fans, who mortgaged the future on an '08 run).

Meanwhile, I'm as impressed as everyone else at Reggie Bush's 2 punt-return TDs. But it begs a question: Doesn't this confirm that Bush is merely a really good...punt returner?

What happened to the transcendent, NFL-offense-revolutionizing playmaker? He is a mediocre runner, and his reception totals are misleading. He is Devin Hester with more crippling cap implications. (If ever there was a candidate for a direct-snap "Wildcat" formation, isn't it Bush?)

There is an incredibly strong class of Bush-like players coming to the '09 NFL Draft: Jeremy Maclin (a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore), Percy Harvin and Derrick Williams, to name the Top 3. Will the "Bush-like" label help or -- to bring it back to the '08 Election -- hurt?

Meanwhile, you know what? Coming off his NBA preseason debut, Kevin Love is going to be a very effective NBA player. I can't believe there was ever any doubt about this.

And Plaxico Burress is a bit of a d'bag: You are surprised by this?

More later. Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Big BlogPoll News: BlogPoll

There it is, listed right alongside the AP and the Coaches. Here is the stand-along BlogPoll page, including links to every single blogger who votes, which I think is amazing for transparency and legitimacy. Much more on this later. I'll have some time tonight to collect my thoughts. -- D.S.

Monday 10/06 A.M. Quickie:
Phils, ALDS, Skins, Fins, Oklahoma, More

The usual Monday craziness in today's SN column.

As bad as I feel for Cubs fans, I feel great for Phillies fans -- last year's "Why bother?" depression turns into this year's "That's why" motivation.

Meanwhile, I'd like to see both the Red Sox and Rays win their series, but how can you not love the idea of needing a do-or-die Game 5 to make it happen?

I grew up in D.C. hating the Redskins, which settled into more of an ambivalence in adulthood. But their wins the last two weeks have made me take notice -- a drop-off is inevitable, but you can be sure Skins fans are enjoying the now.

Meanwhile, I am slightly obsessed with the Dolphins' successful "Wildcat" formation, and now I'm even more convinced that some team can draft Tim Tebow and just have him run that -- hell, as an RB. (In fact, why can't Vince Young run something similar? Oh, right: The Titans don't have the imagination. And I know it's crazy to say that about a 5-0 team.)

You can check out my CFB posts from the weekend, below, but I put Oklahoma into the No. 1 spot, with Missouri and Texas right behind. It almost doesn't matter -- the Oklahoma-Texas winner will be No. 1 on my ballot next they should be for every voter.

I will say: How can you not love the Vanderbilt story. It reminds me a lot of Northwestern in 1995. Vandy has a ways to go before they reach potential BCS status.

Again, I think back to when Northwestern was 5-1 in 1995: All we really thought about was bowl-eligibility. VU fans need to keep their expectations in check: First, just get into a bowl. Then, ponder which bowl that might be.

More later. Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

CFB BlogPoll Ballot 1.0: Bama Out, Okla In

As always, let me know what you think. Very impressed by what I saw from the Big 12 yesterday -- particularly Mizzou. Oklahoma-Texas winner will be next week's No. 1.

1 Oklahoma 1
2 Missouri 3
3 Texas 1
4 Alabama 3
5 LSU 2
6 Penn State --
7 Brigham Young --
8 Texas Tech 1
9 Utah 3
10 Vanderbilt 13
11 Southern Cal 1
12 Boise State 1
13 Georgia 2
14 Florida 3
15 Ohio State --
16 Oklahoma State 4
17 Ball State 4
18 South Florida 10
19 Kansas 3
20 Tulsa 5
21 Michigan State 3
22 Northwestern 4
23 Georgia Tech 3
24 Cincinnati 2
25 TCU 1

Dropped Out: Auburn (#14), Wisconsin (#18), Fresno State (#19), Connecticut (#22).

(Note new BlogPoll branding. More on that tomorrow.)

Sunday 10/05 (Very) Quickie: Cubs Lose

I can't believe that it was less than 5 days ago that we were talking about whether it was good or bad for baseball if the Cubs won the World Series.

Here is what we know for certain: It is terrible for baseball that the Cubs get swept out of the NLDS in 3 games.

Even more than the Phillies' phurious surge a year ago, this becomes the gold standard for "Why'd you even bother?" Especially given that the Cubs finished with the NL's best record.

It's enough to make even the most die-hard Cubs fan question the value of the entire season.

On the other side, college football was about statements:

Vanderbilt: Beats Auburn and goes to 5-0 for the first time since anyone bothered to pay attention.

There is the validation at the top of the Big 12: Mizzou at Nebraska? Rout. Texas at Colorado? Rout. Oklahoma vs. Baylor? Rout. The only clarity between these three will come when they play each other, starting with Oklahoma-Texas next week.

USC earned a measure of payback against Oregon -- and earned back a measure of respect against a team that was purported to be USC's closest challenger in the weak Pac-10.

Ohio State made a statement, winning in Madison -- but it wasn't pretty. Ohio State may yet win the Big Ten (although I don't think they are nearly the team Penn State is), but they aren't particularly great. (Although Terrelle Pryor sure seems to have the ability to make the big play.)

Brewers stay alive -- would be fun to see this one go 5. Meanwhile, the Red Sox go for the sweep today, as do the Rays. Let's just get right to the epic Rays-Red Sox ALCS, can't we?

More later.

-- D.S.