Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday 12/20 (Very) Quickie

I can't believe Lou Holtz and I were in Gainesville at the same time and I didn't spot him around campus yesterday, let alone hear him give a patented "Dr. Lou" pep talk to the football team...

Bowl season starts today with a quadruple-header -- did you enter the Bowl Pick 'Em group? You missed the cut-off for Wake-Navy, but you can still get in.

UPDATE: Wake rolls, as expected.

Meanwhile, what a four-game group of hoops today, headlined by Xavier-Duke -- a must-see. But all four are pretty must-see, especially to store away for picks in March.

UPDATE: Wow, Duke is just kicking Xavier's ass all over the place. Did NOT expect that. Hey, at least Texas-Michigan St. is competitive. Gonzaga-UConn and Davidson-Purdue -- both Sweet 16 or Elite Eight quality matchups -- run at 4.

Wade trumps Kobe. Celtics win 17th in a row. St. Thomas Aquinas will be the national champ of high school football. Richmond wins the 1-AA football national title. More later.

UPDATE: What is it about the Auburn-Iowa State connection? First Chizik is hired from ISU to Auburn; now, former Auburn DC Rhoads is hired to coach Iowa State.

-- D.S.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday 12/19 A.M. Quickie:
Bowls, Peyton, Hansbrough, Roy, More

I'm not complaining, but I just need to recount my travel this week:

I spent the weekend in Atlanta (missed both LeBron playing the Hawks and the Falcons beating the Bucs in OT, though I did get an up-close look inside the Georgia Dome), then caught a 6 a.m. flight Tuesday to Denver.

Three days of Mountain Time Zone goodness (though missing LeBron at the Pepsi Center tonight), then I flew out of Denver last night in the snow to Orlando, where I battled delayed flights and car rental fun to my brother's house for about 4 hours' sleep (missing the Magic hosting the Spurs last night AND the Florida 5A high school football title game tonight at the Gator Bowl, which could be a de facto national-championship game).

Then today's SN column filed early this a.m. from his office, then into the car for a drive up to Gainesville 'til Sunday (alas, no Gator hoops games scheduled while I'm in town, although I'm holding out hope that if I wander over to The Swamp, I'll have a TT sighting.)

Again, I'm not complaining. But it's been a crazy week. Though I will say this: Greeting my kids for the first time since Monday -- it was the longest I had been away from them in a while, certainly the longest I had been away from No. 2, who seemed to grow in 3 days -- was amazing.


Is Peyton Manning this season's NFL MVP?

Is Tyler Hansbrough the best player in UNC history?

Is there a better day of college hoops this regular season than tomorrow?

Is any NBA player going to have a better game this week than Brandon Roy had last night?

Is there any more fun to be had than trying my Bowl Quiz?

Is it worse for NASCAR to have the publicity from that lawsuit or to have drivers test positive for PEDs?

(Longtime readers know the old match-sponsor-with-bowl-name format; this year, I mixed it up a bit, inspired by some of the more ludicrous names and sponsorship situations. For example, is GMAC asking for taxpayer dollars while sponsoring an eponymous bowl? Really?)

Complete SN column here. More later, hopefully. Probably some Twitter activity from around Gainesville, if I can manage it.

-- D.S.

CFB Bowl Mania -- Last Chance!

Last chance to sign up for the CFB Bowl Pick 'Em -- groupname: Daily Quickie Readers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday 12/18 A.M. Quickie:
Celtics, Favre, Tebow, Baugh, CP3, More

Now that they have that pesky first title behind them, the Celtics can focus on making history -- I would hope that is what is motivating them at this point, tying the NBA record for best start after 26 games. And they have ripped off the last 16 (straight) wins so effortlessly (though the Hawks gave them a hell of a game -- as usual!) that numbers like "72" don't seem unreasonable.

Celtics and Sharks (who ruined a perfectly good storyline by losing last night in OT) lead today's SN column.

There's also some stuff in the column about a weariness with Brett Favre (go figure!) and Tim Tebow's NFL draft prospects (actually relevant this time!), but both are eclipsed when you take a deep dive into the career of Sammy Baugh.

Instant History demands that we not look too closely at players like Baugh -- hell, I can barely remember what happened last month -- but when you read the obits, the guy was about as revolutionary a player (certainly as revolutionary a QB) as ever played the game.

All these historical rankings that put Brady and/or Peyton and/or Montana and/or Elway ahead of Baugh (even the ones that put Unitas ahead of Baugh -- usually at the top of the list, actually), they all need an asterisk that those QBs wouldn't exist without Baugh's influence on the game.

What baffles me is that we're talking about a player for whom if you aren't at least 70 years old (and if you're over 70 and reading this blog PLEASE email me), you have no active memory of the guy. You may have seen clips. You may have heard his name. But it's not the same.

It's easy to put Tom Brady in a pantheon -- the era in which he played is remarkable for nothing as much as the 24/7 hyper-access we had to following him, which inflates his value -- but let's tip our caps and have a moment of thought for Slingin' Sammy.

Travel day today, so posting might be light until tonight. Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.

2008 Sports Blogger of the Year Tourney:
And the Seeding Is...

Not seeded! It's mid-December, and nothing delivers link-bait like the navel-gazing of a Sports Blogger of the Year tournament. Kudos, Busted Coverage fellas.

(No, I'm not bitter that this year I didn't make the Ballhype-generated cut into the Top 64 -- wait: you mean a blog obsessed with Tebow and Obama isn't one of the 64 most linked-to? Get out!)

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Obamaball: Time Person of the Year
(Time Can't Help But Copy Me, Obviously)

So Barack Obama isn't just the Sportsman of the Year, but he is Time Person of the Year (shocker!).

Great sidebar article by Obama brother-in-law Craig Robinson, specifically about basketball with Barack.

Obama's love of hoops is one of his most defining characteristics -- all the more reason to tap him as Sportsman of the Year, right?

-- D.S.

Obamaball: Arne Duncan, Sec'y of Hoops?

Arne Duncan isn't just our newest Secretary of Education -- he might be the best basketball player in the history of high-level federal government. Certainly among Cabinet-level appointees.

Henry linked
to this must-read about Duncan's hoops past. And H.A. coined an amazing little line: "Basketball is the new golf."

As a bonus, Duncan is a huge proponent -- like Obama -- of infusing billions of dollars into early-early-childhood education, which could radically improve our country's future.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 12/17 A.M. Quickie:
JoePa, All-Americans, Pro Bowlers, More

Penn State is sort of like the banking industry a few years ago -- there's an upheaval coming, but they keep wanting to push it off. JoePa is the lead of today's SN column.

Sure: Give the 82-year-old (on Sunday!) a 3-year contract extension. Maybe it's all a facade to let him go on his terms, because I cannot imagine him coaching at age 85.

I don't want to get into a debate about whether he is an able coach -- obviously, he did something right this season (likely, letting his assistants do everything).

But at what point will Penn State let him go and begin a new era? "Coach-in-Waiting" doesn't seem to be an option -- but Penn State is the optimal place for it to happen, isn't it?

Really, what I should have led with was a comparison of college football's "All-American" team and the NFL's "Pro Bowl" accolade.

Frankly, I like the NFL's system better -- a combination of fan vote, player vote and media vote. The AP (or SN) All-Americans are media-only -- as if fans couldn't pick an A-A team?

College A-As feel like splitting hairs -- if you're only picking 2 WRs or 2 RBs or one "all-purpose" player, can you really decide between the 2 guys on the first team and the 2 guys on the 2nd team (or even 3rd team)?

College hoops long ago dropped the mandatory G-G-F-F-C construct; it was the best five players. I recognize that football can't do that, but I'd certainly like to see 4 WRs on the first team, rather than 2 -- most teams run that many WRs. Or both a "drop-back" QB and a "dual-threat" QB.

I don't know -- it just seems kind of ludicrous.

Of course, not as ludicrous as Brett Favre being a Pro Bowler. Or 7 Jets. (7!) And, at some point, MLB's system of requiring at least one All-Star from each team begins to make sense. How can you leave Calvin Johnson out of the Pro Bowl?

The good news for the snubbed is that the biggest tradition of the Pro Bowl is NOT playing in the Pro Bowl. Maybe if/when they move the game to the week before the Super Bowl, rather than after it, fans will tune in -- and players will have interest.

Also found in today's column: Lamar Odom! Chris Paul! Padraig Harrington! Turner Gill! Urban Meyer! DeMarco Murray!

Find it all here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tim Tebow's NFL Potential:
Mel Kiper vs. Bill Belichick

Tim Tebow's NFL potential?

Mel Kiper isn't a fan (at least as a QB.)

Matt Hinton asks "Why not?"

MJD says "That's why."

As for me, I think, at worst, he can have an impact with a coach who is willing to go crazy with the Wildcat: Let your "game manager" QB get you to the 15; let Tebow do the rest. At the very least, how about using him innovatively; he doesn't have to take a lot of snaps to have a big impact (see Florida's 2006 national-title season).

At best, I think Tebow can be an NFL starter; don't underestimate the ability of NFL coaches to turn unpolished passers with big size and mobility into NFL starters. As always, it will totally depend on the context he is drafted into -- coach, team around him, etc.

I stand by my prediction that Bill Belichick will draft Tebow, then unleash him. (I wouldn't be surprised if Belichick made it clear through back-channels -- perhaps Beli BFF Urban Meyer -- that the Pats won't let Tebow slide past them in the 1st round.)

BTW: I find Kiper's gold standard of "pure NFL pocket passer" as Matt Stafford to be laughable. Two words: Rex Grossman. I spent all weekend in Atlanta and Stafford came up a lot. Someone tell me how Stafford isn't the next Grossman -- a strong-armed dummy.

Instead of calling Tebow "the next Eric Crouch" (or "next Frank Wycheck" -- where the "W" stands for "WTF?!"), why not call him the next Donovan McNabb?

-- D.S.

UPDATE: WSJ's Allen Barra on Tebow's bonafides -- if not as an NFL player than as arguably the greatest college football player of all time. BTW, for the commenter who said Tebow didn't stack up to Donovan McNabb statistically, you were right: Tebow is actually superior in all the stats you cited -- yards per attempt, passer rating... let's not even count TDs, TD/INT ratio, yards-per-carry, rushing TDs, etc. As good as McNabb was in college, Tebow is -- statistically -- much better.

Early-Morning Travel Sucks

Didn't file an SN column this morning AND didn't get a chance to update the blog. Very very very quickly:

*The rest of the NFC better hope the Eagles don't make the playoffs...

*That shot by Cleveland State was incredible. "Buzzer-beater" doesn't do it justice...

*Barkley on Auburn/Chizik: I don't disagree with him...

Gotta jump. More tonight. Back as usual in the a.m.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday 12/15 A.M. Quickie:
Cowboys, Steelers, AFC East, Tarvaris, More

Ahh: All is right in Cowboysville -- at least for this week. That's what a decisive win over the Giants will do for a drama-intensive Dallas squad and that makes for my SN column lead today. Of course, there are still 2 weeks -- with the toughest final pair of opponents of any NFC Wild Card contender -- left in the season.

Still on the road in Atlanta -- had my first-ever Chik-fil-A on Saturday, in fact -- so it's a light post this morning. The column is loaded with everything you'd expect about yesterday's NFL: Cowboys, Steelers (Ravens were robbed!), Tarvaris! and more.

-- D.S.