Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday 09/05 (LeGarrette) Quickie

Two words: Game. Day.

Light post this morning, but I wanted to offer a quick take on LaGarrette Blount's suspension for the rest of the season. In short:

How kneejerk, inappropriate and draconian. And wrong.

Without digging into the mechanics of precisely what he did -- punching the other guy (possibly provoked) and it doesn't even seem like his engagement with Boise fans factored into the suspension -- let's consider the most important mitigating circumstance:

He seemed to grasp, almost instantly, that what he did was wrong -- and that he was sorry.

His apology made the game story -- when was the last time a player had an incident like that and almost immediately apologizes, recognizing the severity of the problem.

In short, he showed remorse -- almost instantly.

It feels like that wasn't even taken into consideration.

Oregon coaches and administrators like to talk about this being a "teachable" moment for Blount -- how about teaching that instant remorse can mitigate an emotional (and stupid and intolerable) mistake.

It is the adults in this situation who have compounded Blount's original mistake with another mistake -- one that I would argue is even more severe and inappropriate.

-- D.S.

(As for Blount's NFL future: Yes, he might have slipped from the 2nd round, but NFL scouts are pretty bottom-line, and if the guy has the talent, they will overlook almost any problem. He won't not be the 2nd-best RB in the country -- per McShay -- a few months from now. The only question is whether Blount drops out of school to focus on NFL draft prep full-time; I wouldn't blame him. Again: Forced out of college football by the "adults" in the room, they make a bad situation worse.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday 09/04 Quickie: Blount, CFB Top 25,
Vick, Goodell, Pedro, Red Sox, Weis, More

There is something about an athlete on the field breaking the invisible barrier between player and fan. Not "Lambeau Leap," but more "Boise Battlin'."

LeGarrette Blount is the No. 1-ranked term on Google Trends this morning because he broke through that wall -- and fans are mesmerized by that. It is the must-see video; it is the must-discuss sports-news topic.

Blount's freak-out -- which he apologized for and will likely miss a few games for -- eclipsed two things: (1) Boise staking its claim to a BCS bowl spot, and (2) Oregon's surprisingly atrocious offense.

As I reference in the lead of today's SN column, one game's worth of data is better than the paper prognostications of the preseason. But we will have a lot better understanding of whether Boise shut down a prolific offense -- or just took advantage of an overrated team -- by the end of the season.

Regardless, Boise gets a "quality win" check in its box -- and, from the WAC, a desperately needed one, even if they go unbeaten. That's better than most of the Top 25 will get this weekend.

Speaking of the CFB opening weekend, I'm all about the chalk -- I'll take every ranked team to win, and in the couple of matchups between ranked teams, I'll take the higher-ranked team (Oklahoma over BYU, Bama over VA Tech, OK St over Georgia).

Well, except in one game: I am picking Nevada to use its "pistol" offense to out-gun Notre Dame, which appears to have a fine offense but an unproven D.

Among unranked teams, I'll take Western Michigan over Michigan -- this one seems too easy. Michigan starts freshman Tate Forcier at QB. WMU starts super-senior Tim Hiller, running one of the best offenses in the country. So even if WMU's D is rebuilding, Michigan has yet to prove they can score efficiently -- and their D won't keep up with WMU.

Meanwhile, if all Mike Vick does is score one red-zone, Wildcat TD per game -- even on 1 or 2 plays per game -- wouldn't that be more than enough to value him? I look at last night's TD -- rather than the sacks, INT or lost fumble. He won't play that many downs in a game the rest of the season.

There's a lot more in today's SN column, but the big thing is: College football is back. Enjoy tomorrow's games everyone. We will have the usual open-thread throughout the day.

If you're taking off for the long weekend, have fun and be safe -- I will be checking in throughout the weekend, so feel free to check in!

-- D.S.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

TimTeblog Today: Debunking Backlash Myth

Two days before Florida's season opener, here are the new posts you can find on today:

*Debunking (yet again) the Tebow "backlash" myth.

(Interesting: I have heard from a bunch of folks questioning my take. Again: There are always going to be noisy extremists on message boards. Maybe I'm oversimplifying -- or projecting -- but it feels like most fans like him, most opposing fans begrudgingly respect him and although most fans can agree he gets a LOT of media coverage, it's not unreasonable why he earns it.)

*Tebow Quote of the Day from the must-read Alligator Army.

(I'm not sure AA is a particularly big fan of mine, and I'm more than happy to defer to the hierarchy AA lays out in the quote that Tebow belongs to Florida alumni and students, discounting people with a regional/childhood fandom or... um... fans like me.)

*The defining word of Tebow's 2009 season: Expectations.

(An expanded version of the Quickie lead today. The upshot: Yes, the expectations are crushing. But you get the sense that Tebow -- and Meyer and Spikes -- would have it no other way.)

In case you missed it:
*Tebow leads preseason poll.
*An incredibly relevant quote from Pete Carroll.
*Tim Tebow vs. Steve Young: Will Tebow get a Bill Walsh?

-- D.S.

CFB Top 25 Picks: Thursday Night Edition

Complete CFB Top 25 picks coming tomorrow, but I wanted to address tonight's games (home team in bold):

14 Boise State over 16 Oregon
19 Utah over Utah State
Bonus! South Carolina over NC State

Excited for College Football Kickoff?

Take a trip in the way-back machine to 2008, courtesy of Holly and EDSBS. The video is so well-done that it is worth revisiting today:

09/03 Quickie: Florida's "Win-or-Fail" Expectations, Schilling, Kazmir, Vick

Today is more college football lead-up, and you'll have to indulge me for today's SN column lead, tied into SN naming Florida its No. 1 team in the country (kudos to the NYT's Paul Myerberg at the Quad for going against the grain and naming Texas No. 1 ahead of Florida).

My point is this: It's "BCS title or bust" for Florida. Win it all or fail. Those are crushing expectations -- equal to the "all-time" stakes on the line for this team.

We have seen this come up twice in the last half-decade.

(1) USC in 2005. If you think I'm jocking Florida -- and, yes, I obviously am -- I also was ready to give USC 2005 that "greatest team ever" status... that is: IF they won the title.

Most folks remember the absurd "Are they they best ever?" stuff that was being discussed... in October, November and December. We don't even talk about the hysteria in August, like Florida is experiencing now.

The whole thing felt...premature, especially as Texas kept pace. Then, post-Rose Bowl, it simply was ridiculous, after USC was exposed as a pretender -- supremely good offense, mediocre (for a national-title contender) defense.

Best team of all time? They weren't even the best team that year -- in fact, by vanquishing USC, Texas '05 joined a very short list of "GOAT" contenders. Matt Leinart went from "Greatest College Player of All Time?" to helping to promote the very viable argument: "Vince Young Is the Greatest College Player of All Time."

The parallels with Florida '09 are interesting -- ultimately, they fall short. Again, USC's defense was merely OK, for a team with national-title aspirations. Compare: Florida's defense not only shut down one of the Top 3 most prolific offenses in college football history a year ago, but the entire two-deep comes back this year, plus last year's redshirts (Beal, etc.) and some awesome true freshmen (Bostin, Jenkins, Finley). This defense could end up one of the best in college football history. Huge difference with USC '05. THE difference.

(2) Florida basketball in 2007. They won the title in 2006, then returned virtually everyone -- the top 6 players, at least. The expectation was simple: Win a back-to-back NCAA championship or the season is a complete bust. Battle-hardened by '06 and laser-focused on '07, they did it.

(Actually, I found that '07 tournament excruciating to watch, because winning was expected and losing was intolerable. When they won it was: "Yes, but they were SUPPOSED to win." That kind of harsh judgment has an upside: Partly because they played under those conditions, I would argue they were the best starting 5 in modern college hoops history.)

Florida players have slipped this offseason and talked a little bit about the history -- about repeating, about being the first Florida team to go unbeaten, about being the best defense ever. Urban snapped them back to the "We just want to win the SEC East" talking point.

But you get the sense that Urban Meyer relishes the "national title or fail" stakes. That was why Tim Tebow came back; that was why Brandon Spikes came back. There is no greater highwire than to say that anything less than a national championship is a massive disappointment.

Just ask Pete Caroll.

To be fair, if "Team X" had come back under the same conditions as Florida this year, I would be making the same argument. I said the same thing about Tyler Hansbrough and UNC hoops last season -- anything less than a national title would have been a failure for him and the Heels.

But I think it is important to understand the stakes for the nation's No. 1 college football team this fall:

They are battling their own potential as much as they are battling the rest of the country.

More you'll find in today's SN column:
*Senator Curt Schilling? Oh for cripes' sake.
*Vick back for Week 1? I just drafted him, so let's hope so.
*Kazmir: THE X-factor of the AL playoffs.
*Oregon at Boise State: What a terrific season-opener.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wednesday 09/02 Quickie: College Football,
Rubio, Brady, Hamels, Goodell, FIU, More

Let's set aside the next three days here to dig into the college football season, which starts tomorrow night and ramps up nationally on Saturday.

Today's SN column leads with the Top 5 storylines I think will dominate the season -- obviously, the thrill of college football is the emergence (often sudden) of the unexpected. Still...

(1) Tebow as GOAT. You may be weary, but "all-time" is an undeniably interesting thing to watch in real-time.

(2) Florida repeat. There is something inherently dramatic about "championship or fail," and Florida is looking to match Nebraska as the best team of the ESPN (post-1980) era.

(3) Menage a Heisman. Believe it or not, I actually think that Colt McCoy will win the Heisman, even if Tebow leads Florida to a wire-to-wire unbeaten regular season. McCoy seems to have that "it's his turn" mojo from the media.

(4) Notre Dame. It remains a huge brand in college football, with all the intrigue over whether they are "back" or merely pretending. Don't be fooled: A 9- or 10-win season will be built on the back of a flimsy schedule, and when they get their inevitable BCS bowl bid -- even though better teams will be snubbed -- they will get destroyed, and we will once again say: "Um, why do they get the near-automatic BCS bid again?)

(5) This year's Utah: I think Boise State will go unbeaten. But if they lose at home to Oregon tomorrow night -- and I don't think they will -- look for TCU to be the BCS-crasher. (Unless, of course, Notre Dame snaps up the spot designated for the unbeaten BCS-crasher. Ridiculous.)

In the comments, I'd love to get your own top storyline (or storylines) for the season. (Don't forget to sign up for the College Pick 'Em group -- Daily Quickie Readers!)

More you'll find in today's column:
*Don't buy the Kahn-friendly Rubio spin.
*Cole Hamels: Best start of the season for him.
*Rockies back on top of NL Wild Card.
*Don't sleep on this brewing NFL-NFLPA collusion scandal.
*And more.

Complete column here
. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What Would Implode the BCS?
Not Inequity, But SEC Seceding

Ed Gunther has an interesting post yesterday ("How the BCS Will Die") about the scenario that would/could/should implode the BCS:

To oversimplify his argument, the moment when one BCS league sees its unbeaten team shut out of a title game by others from the "better" leagues. Say, if Cincinnati went undefeated but didn't make the title game because unbeaten Texas and 1-loss Florida were there instead. That snubbed league then lobbies the rest of the group internally for a playoff.

Regulars know that I agree about a BCS implosion scenario, but see it slightly differently: The best chance of seeing the BCS implode is if the SEC gets snubbed, then "secedes" (or, as I have put it "SEC-edes") from the BCS and forms its own "Eff-Off" playoff.

I think it's pretty clear that we were close to that a year ago, when Texas nearly out-pointed Florida for the right to meet Oklahoma in the BCS title game.

I think that if that had happened, Florida would have led the charge for the SEC to get out of the BCS and simply say, "If we have the best team in the country and that's still not good enough to break through the BCS formula, we simply withdraw and will crown our own champ."

As I have argued, it would be difficult -- if not impossible -- for the BCS to crown a "national" champ without the SEC's participation.

In fact, it makes very little competitive sense for the SEC (or Big 12) to participate in the BCS, given that their teams have great potential to be monumentally screwed over (despite qualitative reputational advantages); it makes very little economic sense too, given that the SEC could command billions for an 8-team playoff (an SEC-Big 12 playoff combo would command even more).

There would be no backlash from the NCAA -- remember, the NCAA is not affiliated with the BCS; the BCS is a cabal created by a select group of conferences.

The other leagues might be ticked, but their only recourse would be to come to the table to negotiate their way in to the SEC (or SEC/Big 12) playoff, rather than the other way around. (And if the Big Ten and Pac-10 don't want to be a part of it, they can feel free to opt-out; the backlash would come from their own fans and coaches.)

The problem with the Big East or ACC getting screwed like your average Mountain West or WAC champ is that the Big East and ACC have little competitive juice to stand on; nobody takes them seriously. But the SEC and/or Big 12? Without them, there IS no "national" title to be bestowed.

So if you want to see the end to the BCS, root for the SEC or Big 12 to get screwed out of a national-title spot in favor of a lower-tier BCS league champ with a "better" record.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 09/01 Quickie: Favre, RichRod,
Thome, USC, Rubio, Erin Andrews, More

I have no doubt that Brett Favre didn't intend to hurt Eugene Wilson. I don't think that notion is incompatible with the fact that it was a dirty play. Say the word: Dirty.

As if Brett Favre could engender any more hostility from fans (at least the ones outside of Minneapolis, where the fans are single-handedly propping up buying Favre jerseys), he went for Wilson's knees. I believe he knew what he was doing, even if he had no intention of actually hurting Wilson.

It's a good Tuesday morning when you can wake up and take a shot at Favre, like I did in today's SN column. By tomorrow, we'll all have moved on. For today, it's the big story.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Worst GM in sports: David Kahn.
*RichRod: I don't buy the tears.
*Venus: Not off to a good Open start.
*MLB Trade Deadline: What trade deadline?
*Does Thome/Garland make LA the favorites in the NL?
*USC's ineligible stud CB: It's just not their year.
*EA on Oprah: The only choice she could have made.

My quest to lead my fantasy baseball team from perennial cellar-dwelling to the playoffs in a very competitive 16-team league -- I am right on the cusp -- took a hit last week, but I drafted Adam Lind and have enjoyed his breakthrough all season long. As it looks like I will just miss the playoffs, yesterday was like his victory lap for me -- 2 HR, 8 RBI -- and I wanted to tip my cap to him for his service to my team.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy 3-Year Anniversary,

Three years ago today, I filed the final edition of the Daily Quickie on and welcomed readers at a new blog: And 2,137 posts later, things are still going strong.

I say this on every anniversary of this date: What a truly amazing experience this has been (and continues to be), for three big reasons:

(1) What remains a terrific connection with (and my daily gratefulness for) your continued attention, feedback and support.

(2) Getting to know so many folks in the sports-blog universe -- both the "indie" writers and the increasing number within traditional media, a welcome development.

(3) The chance to be even a small part of this game-changing platform in how sports media is produced -- and consumed.

A few of the highlights of the past year, at least for me:

*The birth of my second child last October.

(Let's be honest: Everything else is a distant runner-up to that.)

*Launching this summer (and, as a fan, the wild ride to Florida's national championship a season ago -- ha: remember the posts after the Ole Miss loss?)

*The rapid proliferation of Twitter as a medium where everyone -- bloggers and fans alike -- can instantly weigh in on breaking news, share recommended links and more.

*The continued opportunity to write a daily column for, which I hope you all have enjoyed as much as I have enjoyed putting it together every morning.

*My increasingly frequent posts about the state of sports media, which remains a true passion of mine and will continue to be something I enjoy analyzing here.

*All our Daily Quickie Readers prediction competitions. (Don't forget to sign up for the Daily Quickie Readers groups of's Pigskin Pick 'Em and College Pick 'Em!)

*What you wouldn't know, but I don't mind revealing: I spent the early part of this summer working on a book proposal. It remains a work-in-progress, but I hope to solve that soon.

Looking ahead to the next year, you know what I'm struck by most? That next June, I will have been publishing this blog longer than I wrote the Daily Quickie. We'll talk about it more then.

In the meantime, the biggest thing is that I cannot thank you enough for your support. You pay me the highest compliment simply by stopping by to connect with me each day.

That alone continues to make this worth it.

Many thanks.

-- D.S.

Monday 08/31 Quickie: Brady, Cassel,
Cutler, Michigan, NL Wild Card, Greinke

Very big anniversary today around here. More on that later.

Meanwhile, I lead today's SN column with an attempt at a unifying theory around the weekend's biggest NFL news: The injuries to Brady and Cassel.

I am all for picking the Pats to win the Super Bowl -- I'm picking them. But, of course, it all rests on this assumption -- a big assumption, frankly -- that Tom Brady stays healthy.

And Friday night's shoulder issue illustrated why that assumption is not to be taken for granted. Sure, you can say, "Well, ANYONE can get injured." But, at this point, I think that Brady has to show that he ISN'T injury-prone, rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Especially if you are doing something like making your preseason pick to win the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, Brady's injury (and the Pats subsequently cutting "next Cassel" Kevin O'Connell) is a nice reminder that the Pats had a pretty decent backup QB last year -- who is now doubtful-to-maybe for Week 1 with the Chiefs.

I said this yesterday: The Chiefs will regret paying for Cassel when they had no expectation of competing this season anyway, putting themselves in a position to draft regional superstar Sam Bradford.

Speaking of regret:
*I'll bet RichRod has no regrets about Michigan's off-season workouts.

*Think Pat Bowlen regrets trading Jay Cutler? Think Jay Cutler has any regrets about leaving Denver?

*I regret ever making a case (even jokingly) about Cliff Lee for NL Cy, when Tim Lincecum is so clearly the best pitcher in the NL, in MLB and on the planet right now.

*(No offense, Zack Greinke. I hope you win the AL Cy, because you deserve it, running a close second to Lincecum.)

*I wonder how many people will regret picking Ole Miss to finish in the Top 5? That implies that they will go 12-0 in the regular season (or, at the very least, 11-1 with a win over Alabama but a loss to someone unexpected).

*No regrets if you're a Little League World Series champ. (Although you have to wonder how many LLWS participants -- 20 or 30 years later -- still think it's the best thing that ever happened to them.)

Lots more in today's column. Check it out here. More later this morning and today. Big anniversary today!

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Breaking-ish: Taylor Mays Is...Jewish?

I presume that USC football fans knew this, but I didn't until I read about it in the New York Times' profile of Taylor Mays this morning: Taylor Mays is Jewish.

Not "mom-is-Jewish-but-otherwise-nonobservant" Jewish, and he puts football ahead of the High Holidays, but he is bar-mitzvahed and did some Hebrew-schooling.

(Why does this matter to me? Longtime readers know that as a Jewish sports fan, I keep my radar out for high-level college and pro Jewish athletes, because they are fairly rare -- and awesome.)

Some questions:

(a) How did I not know about this until now?
(b) Like Jon Scheyer, can I like the player but loathe his team?
(c) Is Taylor Mays the greatest Jewish football player ever?

I think someone needs to create a tribute T-shirt that features a generic football player wearing the No. 2 and tackling someone, reading "I Had A Blast At Taylor Mays' Bar-Mitzvah!"

For those of you who have been to bar-mitzvahs in your time, you know the proud tradition of the bar/bat-mitzvah T-shirt every kid receives.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: The more I dig into this, the more it is obvious that this has been well-known news about Mays for a long time. I am shamed for not knowing this earlier.

Sunday 08/30 (Very) Quickie

NCAA violations at Michigan football? With RichRod, who DIDN'T see this coming?

(Sounds like RichRod flagrantly violated the rules about how much time the players can spend working out in the summer. You always figured that most elite programs got around this by having the players work out as much as they can on a "voluntary" basis, but this seems more "from-the-top.")

Matt Cassel: Injured! It's his leg, and who knows how bad it really is, but is sure seems like a bit of karmic payback for how his career took off last year.

(The question needs to be asked: Was KC really going to turn it around this year? If not, why not skip the cost of trading for -- and paying for -- Cassel, give up on the season and get Sam Bradford, who will be 10 times the NFL QB that Cassel is.)

Cliff Lee for NL Cy: It's over! Beyond the way I relented that Tim Lincecum was the best in the NL -- and MLB -- Lee was only going to keep my support if he kept dominating. Instead, he got shellacked by the Braves.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Giants, if they're getting great performances out of Barry Zito at the end of August in must-have head-to-head game with the Rockies, they may not be out just yet.

I think Miles Austin just went up fantasy draft boards. He didn't score, but he looks like he could emerge as the Cowboys' top option at WR. Meanwhile, is Felix Jones not just the home-run threat, but the guy who will get the ball from the Cowboys near the goal line?

Chad Ochocinco scooped the media by reporting Andre Smith's signing through his Twitter feed.

Did Brady Quinn just lock up the Browns' starting QB job?

Is Scott Feldman the best Jewish pitcher since Steve Stone?

Am I concerned that Florida freshman sensation Andre Debose has a major hamstring injury? Not really. Even though he was expected to help out at the "Percy Position," the Gators have three players ahead of him on that depth chart. As good as Debose is, he was never going to be as good as Percy was as a freshman. Give him the redshirt and turn him loose in '10.

USC loses starting WR Ronald Johnson. Not as big as, say, losing Damien Williams, but a big blow. Good thing they have like 6 h.s. all-Americans sitting behind him. Still: One more omen that this won't be USC's year in the Pac-10.

LLWS: California leaves no doubt in LLWS US title game, will face Taiwan today in the final.

-- D.S.