Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sam Bradford Wins Heisman

Sam Bradford wins the Heisman, not a big surprise - as was the strange balloting that saw Tim Tebow earn the most 1st-place votes, yet finish 3rd. Congrats to Bradford and Oklahoma fans; see you in Miami. - D.S.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday 12/13 (Very) Quickie

Wow, I miss College Football Saturdays. Very much.

Heisman tonight: Still too close to call.

Yankees sign AJ Burnett: Wow. What recession?

(By the way, it's going to be even funnier when they don't make the playoffs with CC and AJ in the rotation. Over-under on Burnett's injury-free starts: 10.)

Brandon Jacobs out tomorrow vs. Cowboys and the Cowboys deny there are massive problems in their locker room: You know things are bad if the Giants are saying, "Man, you guys got problems."

Celtics win 14th straight: Beating the Hornets is no joke.
Cavs win 11th straight: I'll be in Atlanta tonight, but won't get to see them, unfortunately.

1-AA Playoffs: Montana edges top-seeded James Madison in semis.

Syracuse hires Doug Marrone: Great hire. You want an alum. They have the kind of energy for the program that can't be imported from the outside.

Will Muschamp denies talking with Auburn: I have said this for a while. I know Muschamp is a stand-up guy and committed to Texas, but what does Auburn have to lose by offering him $3-4 million a year?

(From Texas' standpoint, they'll get Muschamp back as soon as Mack Brown retires anyway -- could be one year, could be three or four. Aren't they better off with him getting experience as an actual head coach, rather than as a head-coach-in-waiting? That's cynical, but - hey - it's a cynical business.)

On the road all day traveling. Will post again tomorrow a.m.

-- D.S.

Friday, December 12, 2008

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Inside Baseball: Rob Neyer in the BBWAA

Hey, that only took 13 years, for the most influential baseball writer of the Internet Era (1995-Present). Cripes: I realize I have known Rob for 12 years. God, I was a yippy young pup back then.

-- D.S.

On Heismans, Vince Young, Tim Tebow and Elements of College Football Immortality

Tying up some thoughts from yesterday and today, heading into the Heisman reveal tomorrow:

For all the Tebow slobbering I do, it's widely overlooked that I put Vince Young at or very very near the top of my "best CFB player of the last 25 years" list.

(Yes, even ahead of Tommie Frazier, who -- make no mistake -- was awesome. But just about as one-dimensional as you get. And while that '95 Nebraska team was arguably the Greatest Team Ever, it wasn't all because of Frazier. But if you're wondering, yes, I put Frazier in the Top 5.)

But, to reiterate: "Best ever" is derived, more than any other single factor, from mythology. But mythology itself is fairly complex.

The lesson of VY is that mythology isn't made from merely winning the Heisman. The Heisman is a resume item, which folks can break out to make the argument that so-and-so is among the best ever.

But championships matter. Playing big in big games matters. Stats matter... sort of. (You don't remember how many total yards VY had; you do remember that he had 500 yards of offense against USC. You don't remember Tebow's precise totals from last year; you know he was the first-ever to be a "20/20" player.) Which supports the following:

The transcendent talent you can see with your own eyes matters (like VY scoring against USC in the NCG). "Storyline" matters (Tebow's "Promise"; Tebow's handy circumcision work, representative of his larger philanthropical angle; he just won that "most inspirational" award).

Is it fair to credit Tebow with "well, he's already won one national title" in the same way Young has? Hardly. Young carried that UT team in a uniquely spectacular way; to his credit, Tebow was the offensive MVP of that Florida title team, even in limited action. But it's not the same.

I think everyone -- including Tebow -- knows that Tebow needs to be THE guy on a national-title team to truly rise to the top, or even the top tier. Consider how much he has been elevated simply by leading Florida to that comeback win over Bama in the SECCG.

Winning a national title as a freshman (and having a powerful role in it) and becoming the first player ever to win the Heisman as a sophomore opened up never-before-seen possibilities for Tebow this year, especially with a better team around him. From the debacle against Ole Miss to the Promise to the performance after that, the myth is elevated.

If he does win the Heisman -- or, more accurately, if he does win the national title (see the VY Corollary that you don't need to win the Heisman to be immortalized) -- the resume -- no, the mythology -- is stuffed so ridiculously that he elevates into that "Best Ever" conversation almost by default.

Where it gets more intriguing is whether -- realizing that he won't be a first-round NFL pick -- he comes back to Florida for his senior year.

(The NFL, amusingly, doesn't give a crap about college mythology, and the NFL teams that do -- see Vince Young -- usually make a terrible pick; there are exceptions, obviously -- see Barry Sanders -- but among QBs, mythology is almost always a terrible indicator of future NFL success.)

There has been some talk -- wishful thinking, more like it -- on Florida message boards about Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes all wanting to come back next year to make a run at real immortality: An unbeaten season (the first in Florida football history) and status as one of the greatest teams of all time. (Hey, it worked for the basketball team.)

If that happens, we're in truly uncharted territory and Tebow has a shot at permanent placement above all the other college football immortals. I don't think it will happen: Spikes is a 1st-rounder, and you don't waste that in football. Harvin is a likely 1st-rounder AND has a history of injuries; he better get into the pros now. Tebow could work his way into the 1st round (I'm convinced Bill Belichick schemes to take him) AND he just lost his mentor, Dan Mullen, AND if he wins the national title, what more can he do? (I think there's a part of him that thinks that leading Florida to an SEC title is already enough.)

Obviously, the notion that Tebow is, already, the greatest college football player ever is premature, at best. (And I'm obviously so biased as to disqualify the entire argument an irrational one.) In fact, it's fairly stupid to discuss it before Jan. 9. But he's already in the discussion -- with your Vince and Tommie and Herschel and Barry and Bush -- as being among the greatest ever. That's a hell of a thing before you've completed 3 full seasons.

It's all about the mythology.

-- D.S.

Friday 12/12 A.M. Quickie:
Heisman, Bears, Celtics, Hot Stove, More

The Heisman situation -- or, more accurately, figuring out which player is the "best" in the country -- is as convoluted as the recent BCS snafu. I laid it out in today's SN column, but I'm going to re-publish it here, because last night's awards were so strange:
*Tim Tebow won the Maxwell, the poor man's Heisman, for being nation's most outstanding player, ahead of finalists Colt McCoy and Graham Harrell -- even though Tebow is projected to finish 3rd in Heisman voting.

*Sam Bradford, the leading Heisman contender, won the O'Brien as the nation's top QB -- but he wasn't even a Maxwell finalist.

*Colt McCoy was named Walter Camp Player of the Year.

*Graham Harrell was a finalist for both the Maxwell and O'Brien, yet apparently wasn't good enough to invite to New York as a Heisman finalist.
(Total crock.)

So who will win the Heisman? As last night's spray of results showcase, it is as wide open as any Heisman voting ever.

With less than 20 percent of ballots publicly available, it looks like Bradford will win the Heisman and McCoy will come in 2nd, although -- oddly -- Tebow will earn more 1st-place votes than either of them.

(That indicates that Tebow is going to be left out of the Top 3 on an inordinate number of ballots. Are we seeing "Tebow Fatigue?" How strange, given that last night he won the "Spirit" award as the nation's most inspirational player; isn't that supposed to be a GOOD thing? It's not like he's Matt Leinart.)

There is a case -- a strong one -- to be made for all of them. I guess if there was some solace to offer the runners-up, it would be two words: "Vince Young." VY never won the Heisman, yet is still widely regarded as the best player of the last 25 years.
You might be wondering if I'm going to camp out at the Nokia Theater in Midtown Manhattan tomorrow night to watch/stalk the Heisman ceremony in person. Unfortunately, I'll be out of town, watching it on TV. I find it so odd that Tebow will likely get the most 1st-place votes but will still likely come in 3rd.

Anyway, the Celtics are sick. And you know how much I liked to rip them last year during the playoffs. Well, they are better this season. If they were on a "title-or-bust" mission last season, what the hell are they doing this season? Do they want to crack 70 wins? 75 wins? Ray Allen is on fire. Rajon Rondo is an All-Star. It's ridiculous.

The Saints are out of the playoff picture in the NFC, but -- hey -- at least Drew Brees was the leading vote-getter for the Pro Bowl! And the offensive coordinator is so valued that he got the head-coaching job at Syracuse! May want to practice that pass-defense by the DBs, though.

Short a.m. post today, but you can get it all in the SN column. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Questions On The Table, Part Nth

(1) Who was the best player in college football this season, regardless of position?

ANSWER: Andre Smith

(2) Who is your favorite college football player of all time?

ANSWER: Tim Tebow (well, at least mine)

(3) In picking the best college football player(s) ever, what criteria should be used (i.e., stats, W-L, titles, Heismans/awards, mythology)

ANSWER: Mythology is the No. 1 criteria (see Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Herschel Walker)

Each of those questions could probably make for an epic post and conversation. Isn't it nice to cram them all into one single post?

-- D.S.

Thursday 12/11 A.M. Quickie:
Heisman, Melo's 33, Hot Stove, Bears-Saints

College Bowl Pick 'Em group is now open! Sign up now!

The Heisman race is as close -- and contentious -- as it has ever been
. At the very least, and I make this clear in today's SN column, I hope Tim Tebow voted for himself... given the regional bias, there's no guarantee he wasn't inexplicably left out of the Top 3 on plenty of ballots throughout Big 12 Country.

The Heisman finalists are set: Tebow, Bradford and McCoy. I know those are the Top 3 vote-getters, but the Heisman Trust couldn't invite Graham Harrell and, say, Michael Crabtree? In the case of the Heisman, "getting to New York" (the equivalent to the Oscars' "honor just being nominated") is a big deal, and they should be more inclusive, not less.

The vote appears too close to call. Unless all voters publicly reveal their ballots -- and, by the way, they should; there should be nothing "secret" about this balloting -- we won't really know until Saturday night.

From early voting patterns available at -- collaborative, open-source Heisman reporting if ever there was (that guy needs to set up a Wiki of known ballots) -- it looks like it will be Sam Bradford. Intriguingly, Tim Tebow will net the most 1st-place votes, but there are a fair number of ballots where he doesn't even appear in the Top 3 (including the Heisman "fan vote") -- hmm... Tebow Fatigue? Undoubtedly.

I'm sure this will shock you, but my vote would go to Tebow. But remember, before the season, I thought he had no chance; as recently as last Saturday, I don't think he had clinched it, but the SEC title game clinched it for me.

I'll dig into this later, because I was thinking a lot about it last night, but I'm trying to separate "Tebow is MY FAVORITE college football player ever" from "Tebow is the best college football player THIS SEASON" from my opinion that "Tebow is THE BEST college football player ever." There's a lot intertwined in there.

Meanwhile, Putz and K-Rod may be the best set-up/closer combo in MLB. But sounds like Putz doesn't want to BE a set-up guy.

More Hot Stove: Did the Nats offer Mark Teixeira 8Y/$160M? Is that enough to get him? (Cripes: How crazy is his market if that would be considered taking a "hometown discount.") As a Nats fan, I'm torn: I love the idea of them having a franchise player; I hate the idea that they are paying so much for him. What's wrong with the way the Rays built their team? I don't need to win now (especially at bloated cost) -- I need to see that there is progress and improvement... a plan.

Carmelo scores 33 in a quarter: It's not quite 81 for a game, but it's pretty freaking impressive. Hasn't been matched in 30 of years, so Melo out-did Jordan, Bird, Iverson, Kobe... any of the scoring machines of the 80s and 90s. I think this needs more appreciation.

NBA Trade Mania: Jason Richardson on the Suns is intriguing, when you line him up next to Amare and Steve Nash. Not sure what the Bobcats are doing, but isn't trading J-Rich a bit of a repudiation (yet another repudiation) of Michael Jordan's skills as an executive? Wasn't acquiring Richardson his Big Move? Seriously: Worst NBA Exec Ever.

CFB: Dan Mullen to Mississippi State. Look, he's young and has never been a head coach before, but he is Urban Meyer's No. 1 protege and he is the mentor of Tim Tebow. And he's getting his first crack at being an HBC in the SEC, which is rough, but big-time.

College Bowl Pick 'Em: Sign up now! Group name Daily Quickie Readers -- no password necessary. See if you can knock off the defending champ... that would be me.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

College Bowl Pick 'Em Challenge:
Daily Quickie Readers Group Open!

It's that time of year: This year's College Bowls Pick 'Em group has been set up. You know how it goes: find the groupname Daily Quickie Readers, open to anyone.

So join on in -- and tell your friends. It's always fun to see the DQR on the leaderboard in total participants.

Oh, and do you remember who won the competition a year ago? (Forgotten already? Me. Yes: Me, in my finest hour of my prediction career. Bring it on, friends. I'm ready to defend my title.)

-- D.S.

Florida OC Dan Mullen to Mississippi State
UF DC Charlie Strong to Central Florida?

Yup, saw it. Not unexpected. Good for him. Tough gig. For the record, there were plenty of moments in the past 4 years when I yelled at an unimaginative call in frustration: "WTF?! Mullen!" Look for WR coach Gonzalez to be promoted to O.C. and for Tebow to stay, despite the fact that he and Mullen are tight. Impact on the NCG? Unclear. Presumably, Mullen is a bit distracted.

How I Ruined Matt Ufford's Fantasy Season

Read the whole hilarious thing here. Here's the money quote, from C.C. himself:
Week 8: I’m up against Shanoff, who notoriously sucks at fantasy. When I find out that his starting WR Santonio Holmes will be sitting out after his pot bust, I taunt him over email. His sincere response is “Thanks! I wouldn’t have realized it otherwise!” He starts Kevin Walter in his place, who gets 70 yards and two TDs as Shanoff — who didn’t even start a kicker or defense — beats me by three points. Also, I start Jeff Garcia instead of Warner. I fucking hate myself.
My 2008 season highlight, by far.

-- D.S.

Heisman Watch: Too Close To Call?
Bradford, McCoy, Tebow In a Battle

I wanted to pull a Nate Silver on the Heisman voting, but oh well. Stick with for updates on how individual ballots are coming in.

Here's how close it is:

*'s final straw poll went to Sam Bradford.

*The longstanding Scripps Howard straw poll went to Colt McCoy.

*If you dig into the numbers, Tebow is leading in first-place votes among declared voters, but Bradford is still the projected winner, by a small margin well within a margin-of-error at this stage of revealed ballots.

*The official Heisman fan vote -- which you know is near and dear to me, despite only counting for 1 vote out of 870 voters...totally preposterous -- was intriguing: Fans picked Colt McCoy by a smidgen over Sam Bradford, with Javon Ringer in 3rd (way to stuff the ballots Michigan State fans!), Graham Harrell 4th and Tim Tebow 5th. (Tebow backlash much?)

In other words: Too close to call. And that's a good thing. Isn't this a lot more fun with the ending as unpredictable as it has ever been?

Voter geographic bias is a funny thing; these voters are supposed to be unbiased experts, yet you constantly see them breaking toward players in their home region. Rare is the Oklahoma-based writer who will say, "You know what? I think Tebow is better." It's some old-school homerism, right there. (Absurdly, Mark Kiszla gave Zac Robinson his No. 1 vote.)

That makes the regional voting patterns more intriguing: Bradford and McCoy are splitting votes in the Midwest and Southwest. The only question is whether voters are putting them 1-2, in one order or another, leaving Tebow 3rd (or even 4th, behind Graham Harrell). Or whether there is a decisive winner between Bradford and McCoy, with Tebow earning 2nd-place votes.

And for one more week, the virtual tie between Oklahoma and Texas will impact college football.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 12/10 A.M. Quickie:
CC, K-Rod, Curry, Cavs, Heisman, More

OK: So the Yankees snagged CC Sabathia for 6Y/$140M. And the Mets got K-Rod for 3Y/$37M. That hot Hot Stove action lead today's SN column (totally undercutting an awesome lead I had about Heisman voting, which got bumped to tomorrow).

Anyway, here comes a "when not if" inevitability: One -- or both -- of those signings will be a big fat huge mind-numbing FAIL. Probably from injury.

The question really is: Which one is it more likely to happen to? Both are in their prime, but both have had their arms thrown off for a couple of guys in their mid-to-late-20's.

If you think both will end up underperforming in some way, I'm going to go with CC getting injured and K-Rod simply not delivering when it matters.

Meanwhile, speaking of delivering when it matters, did you catch the end of the Davidson-WVU game at MSG last night? All game long, Stephen Curry was contained -- WVU's defense forced him into missed shot after missed shot.

Then, in the last 5 minutes, he absolutely took over. 3. Jumper. 3. 3. The 2 FTs were just icing. And a Davidson deficit became a high-profile win, thanks to Curry's late-game awesomeness.

I'll get into Heisman stuff tomorrow, but with ballots due today, I wonder who Tim Tebow voted for? Let me scoop myself tomorrow: I hope he voted for himself. What: Like he's supposed to vote for Bradford or McCoy, even though I'm sure he thinks he is the better player?

I'm going to end up writing 500 words on this right now before I even take a breath, so I'll cut it off there. But just prep that tomorrow, we'll discuss who should win the Heisman. Today, it's who should Tebow have voted for.

NBA Last Night: Who had the Kings beating the Lakers? Meanwhile, yeah yeah -- the Cavs set a new NBA record for beating 9 straight teams by 12+ points, but did you see who they were playing? That said: If the Kings can beat the Lakers, perhaps it's worth not dismissing the run the Cavs are on right now.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday 12/09 A.M. Quickie:
Panthers, Hot Stove, McCoy, Wade, Curry

Is it me or has it been a while since a Monday Night Football game mattered? Not just between the two teams playing, but also in offering up a meaningful statement about either of them.

In the case of last night's game, we got that from the Panthers, who feel like they have been overlooked all season long, eclipsed by the Giants or Cowboys or Eagles or even the Cardinals.

Ignore them no longer: They took on a rush D that held the Saints (OK: It was the Saints) to 44 yards last week and the DeAngelo and Jonathan Show ran for 300 yards and 4 TDs. I actually crunched some numbers this morning in the SN column (but don't confuse me for Aaron Schatz).

Williams and Stewart may not be quite as prolific or "signature" as the Titans' White and Johnson, but they are the most effective running combo in the NFC -- watch out for the Panthers.

Meanwhile, K-Rod to the Mets? The money is there, and I think both sides are willing (K-Rod should be willing, even at 3 years; he won't see $11M a year from anyone else.)

Don't expect any clarity from CC today.

Colt McCoy is coming back to Texas next season, as expected, and I couldn't put it more plainly in the column: Texas should be the preseason No. 1 and heavy favorite to win the national title next year and McCoy should be the heavy favorite to win the Heisman -- even if Tim Tebow comes back to Florida. The Revenge of Texas is the theme of next season.

Dwyane Wade's 41 last night was notable, as was Durant's 41, as was Dwight's second straight 20/20 game. But the player to watch was OJ Mayo, who tied Magic Johnson's rookie record of 21 games in double-figure scoring to start a career. And it doesn't look like it's ending anytime soon. Mayo is my quarter-season pick for Rookie of the Year, even ahead of Derrick Rose. That could change (will change, I'm sure), but -- as predicted for the past 3 years -- Mayo is made to be an NBA shooting guard.

Stephen Curry at Madison Square Garden tonight. It's on ESPN, so everyone can watch. I'll be watching from the couch, too -- my attempt to secure tickets didn't work out. (I'm saving all my chits for the game on Jan. 8.)

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Let's Put This Year's BCS Drama Behind Us

Feels like fans are ready to accept Florida-Oklahoma. But while we're hearing the last vestiges of this year's edition of "the BCS system sucks," I'll throw in my own coda about the root problem -- and it isn't the formula or a lack of a playoff. It's a lack of will by people who gripe the loudest.

Every year, there's something new to expose the BCS system as mucked up. And every year, there's griping. And every year, nothing changes.

Let's be clear. The BCS system endures precisely because the "snubbed" teams at the top allow it to. I have very little sympathy for them -- and I'd say that even if Florida wasn't "in" this year.

The teams involved in being snubbed (Texas, USC, Alabama, Penn State) are powerful enough that if any of them actually felt more strongly about playing for a national title than how they feel about their conference affiliation and BCS short-money, they would follow my original idea and secede from the BCS, even if it meant dropping out of their conferences -- or at least threaten it, ready to back it up and walk.

But you won't see them doing that, because they don't really care THAT much about a playoff... at least not as much as other things, like conference loyalty and, y'know, money. If they did, they'd do something about it.

At least as much of a fraud as the BCS system is the cabal that continue to support it -- not just the leadership of the power conferences or the university presidents, but also including the country's most powerful head coaches, including Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, Nick Saban and Joe Paterno.

That's why you won't see mouthy Mack Brown or griping Pete Carroll turning down either program's second-tier BCS bowl destination out of principle.

You think if Texas and USC said "Guess what? Eff you and your bowls. We're going to go play each other at a neutral site for sponsorship and a TV deal we'll generate ourselves, and we're going to call the winner of our game the REAL national champ," BCS folks wouldn't blink?

Texas is ready to set up its own TV network, but still feels like it needs to remain part of the Big 12? For what? Same with USC.

The only solution is for the best programs to drop out of their conferences -- an offer open to any other team that wants to join them, prominent or not -- and form their own super-league, complete with a playoff system. At least for football. Just follow Notre Dame's lead: Conference affiliation for everything BUT football. The sponsor and TV money will quickly follow.

It's all well and good to complain about the system. Just remember that the folks with the real power to change it -- the most powerful coaches and programs -- don't do anything about it but talk. That makes them no more serious about reform than your average fan on a barstool. Per a commenter's astute point, this last line as originally written was insulting to fans, including you and me. Let's leave it at this: That makes them unserious about reform.

-- D.S.

Coaches Final Top 25 Ballots Out: How Did Mack Brown, Mike Leach, Urban Meyer Vote?

Want to see the individual Coaches' Top 25 ballots? It's fascinating to see the conference rivalries and loyalties -- and conflicts-of-interest -- revealed so transparently. You can play with this for a hour. I spent 3 minutes:

*Mack Brown: Florida 1, Texas 2, Okla 3. (Like me!)

*Urban Meyer voted Florida No. 1 and Oklahoma No. 2, with Texas at No. 4 behind Alabama.

*Ranking Texas No. 1: Iowa St's Chizik, North Texas' Dodge, UCLA's Neuheisel, UTEP's Price.

*Who ranked Texas 5th? Mike Leach. Guess he more than anyone else has a claim. (Leach ranked Texas Tech No. 2, behind Oklahoma.)

*Florida ranked no lower than 3rd, but ranked 3rd by most of the Big 12 coaches -- and Jim Tressel. (Still bitter, eh, Coach SweaterVest?)

*Oklahoma had one ballot putting them out of the Top 3 -- Neuheisel had them 4th. Ouch.

*Northwestern's highest ranking: 16th, by Urban Meyer(!), Rich Rodriguez and Joe Tiller.

There is so much more here -- I don't have time to look deeply into how coaches voted for their own teams -- outside of the biggies like Leach and Brown.

First one to find the most interesting individual ballot detail wins... I don't know... something.

-- D.S.

Monday 12/08 A.M. Quickie:
BCS, Giants, Steelers, Cards, Hot Stove

Did the BCS get it right? Hmm: Would you settle for "right-ish?"

That concept leads today's SN column and I think it sums up the Florida-Oklahoma outcome.

Most fans -- outside of Texas, USC, Texas Tech, Penn State, Alabama -- will be pretty satisfied with the result: Top "name" teams from the two "power" conferences with telegenic offenses and Heisman star-appeal at QB.

What will likely drive Texas fans most crazy is how quickly the rest of the country moves on, settled into the reality of Florida-Oklahoma. (Well, UT fans will go crazier if -- perhaps when -- Florida rolls over OU.)

The column has my one-line instant reactions about each of the BCS bowls. They're OK, although it would have been fun to see Texas matched up with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But if the BCS overlords want clarity, that wouldn't have provided anything but more doubt.

Meanwhile, it's time to settle in for the final 3 games of the NFL season. The top of the NFC is still clearly the Giants (or maybe not-so-clearly anymore). The Cards are an amazing story. And I think the Eagles will win the NFC... IF they even make the playoffs, which is no gimme at all.

With the Giants and Cowboys' struggles, the top of the NFL seems to be in the AFC: Tennessee and Pittsburgh -- defense wins championships. (Remember that, Oklahoma fans.) The AFC East is a hilarious mess. Pick your poison: The loathed Pats? The loathed Favre? Or the lovable worst-to-first Dolphins? And watch that game next week with the Steelers at Baltimore.

College Hoops: I think I have to try to get to see Stephen Curry at the Garden tomorrow night. He's one of those players you really want to see play in person -- or say you saw in person. Particularly coming off his 44-point binge over the weekend vs. NC State.

Meanwhile: With wins over UCLA and Duke, it's hard not to say that Michigan is on the up-and-up. But I'm drawn to the notion that Duke ain't that great. Certainly not "Final Four" great. Probably not even "Sweet 16" great, if the past few seasons are any indication. They remind me a lot of Florida right now: Woefully undersized. That's a hallmark of Coach K-coached teams: He just doesn't recruit, develop or produce great big men.

(Don't say Elton Brand or Carlos Boozer -- both came to Duke fairly fully baked. Credit Coach K for recruiting them, but both leaving early says a lot about how much they felt he and his staff of ex-guards -- Collins, Henderson, Wojo -- could develop them. Since those guys? It's grim. Please don't say "Josh McRoberts" or "Shav Randolph" -- both turned out to be either (a) terrible or (b) painfully undercoached. Either way, it's pretty damning. UPDATE: I guess Sheldon Williams counts. Meh: My theory has been obliterated by those pesky massive exceptions -- still: doesn't it FEEL like Coach K can't develop big men? I digress...)

Hey, let's hope for some fun hot stove action this week in Vegas. How about Jermaine Dye for Homer Bailey?

Complete SN column here. More later -- last night, I put together what is probably going to be my coda about the BCS for this season. I'll obviously keep writing about the match-ups and title game, etc., but it's time to let go of frustration at the BCS system...unless, as I write, you're willing to spread the blame where it REALLY belongs. Check back at noon ET for that.

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

BCS Title Game Is Set: Florida vs. Oklahoma

Watch how quickly the "debate" dissipates and everyone embraces Florida vs. Oklahoma. Sort of like: "Well, you know, as far as match-ups of 1-loss teams go, this is a pretty good one."

Did the BCS system get it right? Well, I'd argue the BCS system failure was last week, when Texas was nudged aside by Oklahoma. The system failure wasn't this week: Oklahoma earned its spot.

Now, if Oklahoma wins the title game, its selection is justified. But if OU gets its doors blown off -- and if you look at their last 3 BCS bowl games, including in 2005 when they played USC for the national title, that's the Sooners' history -- Texas fans will have a gripe.

In fact, all fans will have a gripe, because it's not like you wouldn't have seen Oklahoma's BCS bowl failures coming. In that case, wouldn't you have rather seen what Texas could have done?

Anyway, I can now breathe easy -- and book my flight to Miami for Jan. 8. Now, about those game tickets....

-- D.S.

Polls: AP Florida 1; Coaches Oklahoma 1

The AP has Florida at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2. The Coaches have Oklahoma at No. 1 and Florida at No. 2 -- by a single point. Can't wait to see the individual ballots.

And, predictably, the computers have Florida at, like, No. 4. The BCS "experts" seem to think that the distance between Florida and Texas in the Coaches poll should be enough to mitigate the computers' dislike for Florida.

As for my BlogPoll ballot? Here's how it is sizing up:

(1) Florida; (2) Alabama; (3) Texas; (4) Oklahoma; (5) USC; (6) Penn State; (7) Utah. More coming later.

(That's not to say I think that Florida should play Alabama in the national-title game. But it's my feeling that after you see Florida smash Oklahoma -- far more decisively than Texas' 10-point win over Oklahoma -- we'll all realize that not only is Florida the No. 1 team in the country, but Bama is No. 2. Meaning: I think Bama would beat either Texas or Oklahoma, also. It's really too bad Oklahoma is in the title game ahead of Texas, because I think UT could give Florida a much better game than OU. It's going to be painful for Texas fans to watch the Gators stomp OU.)

-- D.S.

45-35? Remember 48-28 (And 43-42)

"45-35" is so last week. The new catch-phrase-number is "48-28" -- the score of last year's Oklahoma blowout loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Between that and Oklahoma's 43-42 Fiesta debacle the year before against Boise State, the Sooners have allowed 45.5 points per game in BCS bowls in the past 2 years. Good luck with that.

(Wow: The Sooners HAVE to average 60 points per game -- because that's the national ranking of their defense. Oklahoma is Ohio State without the pathos; if BCS voters were ready to hold Ohio State's past 2 BCS blowout losses against them, they should remember OU-WVU. Oklahoma is the chokiest BCS-bowl team of the decade -- and that's saying something, considering the Buckeyes.)

-- D.S.

Sunday 12/07 Quickie: Florida vs. Okla?

I'm not sure I'll truly believe in a Florida-Oklahoma BCS national-title game until I see it in the official reveal tonight. It is absurd that I should be worried about Florida's place in the game.

But if it is Florida-Oklahoma, I project that the Sooners will get worked over as roughly as they have been in their past two BCS bowl games.

The fact is: Oklahoma's prolific offense -- which scored the most points in a season in D-1 history -- is complemented by an utterly porous defense, which doesn't even crack the top half in D-1.

If there is one common trait that national champions share, it is stifling defense -- at least Top 20 in the country. Florida is No. 3.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma's defense is in a competition with its offense to see who can score highest into the 60s.

So: Florida's offense can overwhelm OU's defense -- especially with Percy Harvin back. (They scored 31 points on Alabama's Top 5 defense...without Harvin.)

And Florida's defense -- again, Top 3 in the nation -- can contain Oklahoma's offense.

We have seen this before, both with Florida ('06) and with Oklahoma (the last two BCS bowl games it played in).

I wouldn't be surprised if Florida won by 20+. Florida's toughest game of the season was played last night.

(Now: Will there be a split champ? If Florida is ranked ahead of Texas in the AP poll today -- especially at No. 1, where it should be, given that it was No. 2 heading into a win over No. 1 last night -- it would be very hard for AP voters to vault Texas over Florida, unless they were simply interested in the college football equivalent of "jury nullification.")

-- D.S.