Saturday, September 26, 2009

CFB Wrap: Tebow KO'ed (Yes, I Freaked)

That was an insane few minutes. As Tim Tebow lay motionless on the field, I admit to fearing the worst. I have never been so relieved -- at least about a sports event -- to see him sit up.

It may "only" be a concussion -- his "bell rung," as the team relayed to ESPN; it may be more. The speculation will be rampant. Even a concussion is a big deal. The image of him throwing up while being taken out of the stadium in a cart was, itself, pretty disturbing.

Here's the video (which will probably be yanked down shortly):

Florida's win over Kentucky? An afterthought. Tebow's assault on Herschel Walker's SEC career rushing TD record? Superficial.

It is ironic that a day that began dominated by news that Tim Tebow might have the flu (overblown) ended with news that Tim Tebow was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

Not overblown... at all. Scary stuff.

More notes from today's games:

*So it turns out that Miami was even more overrated than Ole Miss.

*And it turns out that Cal was even more overrated than Miami.

*And it turns out that Penn State was more overrated than all of 'em.

*Florida State? Ugh: "Rated" doesn't begin to cover where they belong.

*Alabama affirmed for me that they are the No. 1 team in the country.

*Mississippi State should have won that game over LSU. Sucks for them.

*Cincy did nothing to show they aren't a Top 5 team.

*Same with Houston.

*My (mild) upset special came through: GT over UNC.

*If resume matters, then I'm not ranking unbeaten Michigan in my Top 25.

*Through halftime, does Penn State look like a Top 5 team? Please: Hardly.

*Kudos to my college classmate Doug Lesmerises for going on GameDay and successfully arguing on behalf of "resume ranking" in the AP Top 25.

Back to tracking Tim Tebow news, including trying to educate myself what vomiting after a concussion might/might not mean...

-- D.S.

Saturday 09/26 (St. Augustine) Quickie

Last full day in Florida, sticking around long enough to watch the Florida-Kentucky game tonight with the locals. Speaking of which, this morning's big story is...


The all-caps treatment is satire (even coming from me). Sure, it IS a big story -- but only the biggest if Tebow's flu triggers a "black swan" event that finds Florida losing at Kentucky.

For now, Tebow traveled to Kentucky, quarantined on a separate plane with the other Gator flu-zombies, which by some accounting is a third of the team.

Doc Saturday was first to post the key implication: Is this going to be Tebow's "Flu Game" (a la Michael Jordan in the Finals?)

You know Tebow will WANT to grit through it -- how effective will he be? CAN he be? Can he do the 20+-carry thing? How much will John Brantley need to play?

And how will Florida respond in its first SEC road game of the year -- in the closest thing Kentucky will have to a national-title shot (until the Final Four, at least). UK will be up for this.

Urban Meyer will be playing this game not to make any statements -- simply to survive it and slide into the bye week with 2 weeks to get recovered for at LSU on Oct. 10.

More on the radar today:
*Game of the Day: Miami at VA Tech
*Yankees beat Red Sox: Does it matter?
*Rockies beat Cards: Pressure on other NL WC contenders.

Obviously, tracking all the mania around the Tebow Flu until Florida's 6 p.m. kickoff. Live-comment post coming later today.

-- D.S.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CFB Top 25 Picks: Dazed and Confused

Well, at the very least, I won't be picking Ohio State to lose in an "Upset Special."

1 Florida over @Kentucky
2 Texas over UTEP
3 Alabama over Arkansas - Worth tracking
4 Ole Miss over @South Carolina - D'oh
5 Penn State over Iowa -- Vengeance + HFA > Overrated
6 Cal over @Oregon -- Huge "prove-it" game for Cal
7 LSU over @Mississippi St
8 Boise St over @Bowling Green - Won't help Boise's S.O.S.
11 VA Tech over 9 Miami -- Game of the Week.
12 USC over Washington St -- Who cares?
13 Ohio State over Illinois -- Won't pick against OSU 'til @PSU
14 Cincy over Fresno St - Compare to Boise's perf vs. Fresno
15 TCU over @Clemson - Great non-conf W for BCS-buster
16 Oklahoma St over Grambling
17 Houston over Texas Tech -- Must-must-must-see
18 Florida State over S. Florida - No Grothe, no chance for USF
19 BYU over Colorado St
20 Kansas over Southern Miss -- Should be a shootout
21 Georgia over Arizona State -- Not quite what it would have been 2 yrs ago
Georgia Tech over 22 UNC -- Mild Upset of the Week
23 Michigan over Indiana -- UM at 4-0 (but a soft 4-0)
24 Washington over @Stanford -- Let-down for Dawgs?
25 Nebraska over LA-Lafayette -- NU gets back on track

Other Games of Note
Missouri over Nevada: Should be enough to get Mizzou ranked
Pitt over @NC St: Decent non-conf win for Pitt on the road
Notre Dame over @Purdue: Eh.
Northwestern over Minnesota -- Syracuse loss notwithstanding.

Friday 09/25 Quickie: Ole Miss Exposed,
Vick, Penn State, Canes, Verlander, More

Allow me this existential moment, inspired by today's SN column:

What is "overrated?" To be overrated, doesn't someone have to overrate you? Or can you be overrated simply by existing?

Here's the quandary: Ole Miss is what Ole Miss is. They were not a Top 5 team that "got exposed" or "was overrated." They were a merely OK team whose abilities were vastly overrated...

By the pollsters.

This is why a non-"resume"-based ranking system -- using preconceived, unjustified preseason assumptions as the baseline for everything that happens in the actual season -- is terrible.

Ole Miss had done nothing to actually justify a Top 5 ranking this week, except beat Florida and Texas Tech LAST season and have a ton of preseason expectations and hype.

And yet there the AP voters were (I don't even count the coaches), propping them up. (Kudos to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who has been using this season's resume to -- mostly -- do his rankings; he had Ole Miss at No. 24, and even that was probably overrated.)

It's why USC gets to retain a Top 10 ranking, despite losing to Washington -- while Washington "debuts" at No. 24 (or, according to the coaches, remain unranked).

I shouldn't care about the rankings -- they are ludicrous and, ultimately, meaningless (at least heading into Week 4 of the season).

The beauty of college football is that these things shake themselves out -- sometimes quickly (Oklahoma), sometimes after a few weeks (BYU), sometimes on a Thursday (Ole Miss).

Penn State gets a Top 10 ranking despite feasting on cupcakes all season long. They will beat Iowa tomorrow, but only because they are playing in Happy Valley (I won't even count the vengeance factor). But at least they will finally have a "quality" win.

It's why I can't understand how anyone can't rank Alabama No. 1 -- sure, they have a couple of cupcakes like everyone else -- they also have one of the best "prove-it" wins of the season.

So does Houston. So does Washington.

I'm not even sure how much to credit South Carolina -- they played a great game, especially defensively. But did they beat a REAL Top 5 team, or just a team propped up by bad rankings?

All we know is that one more week of college football provides one more set of data by which to evaluate and compare teams. Not losing is important; WHO you beat should matter, too.

More you'll find in today's SN column:
*All eyes on Mike Vick.
*Twins-Tigers for 4 games, starting Monday. Quasi-playoffs?
*The David Lee offseason saga is over.
*Plus a lot more.

I'm still in Florida -- relocated from Gainesville to St. Augustine -- but will be posting later today (CFB picks, among other things) and tomorrow (CFB Live-Comment). Sunday will be light (travel day) and no posts on Monday (Yom Kippur). If this will be your last check-in before next week, have a great weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Be There: Blogs With Balls Conference 2.0

A few months ago, I got to participate in Blogs With Balls, a first-of-its-kind conference bringing together the best in sports-blogging and online sports media for a one-day spectacle of panels, networking and general merriment. It was a huge success...

So much so that they are having its second edition -- BwB 2.0 -- in Las Vegas, next month. I will be there, along with tons of other folks. It should be a terrific two days (it is part of the larger Blog World Expo).

I am moderating a panel about the dynamic between traditional ("mainstream") and alternative ("blog") sports media, which in NYC earlier this year was... heated, to say the least.

If you are interested in attending, I'll point you to this discount code, which BwB has put together in conjunction with ESPN: $100 for your event tickets, special parties and more. Check it out here.

I will be periodically updating you on the event -- yes, promoting it, and of course I will offer lots of coverage FROM the event.

Let me tease my coverage with this: It will be my first time in Las Vegas.*

(Now, back to my search for a great hotel, good restaurants and a list of things to put on my itinerary of fun. And I can't just pile in with a bunch of bloggers in some Hangover-style bachelor suite; Mrs. Quickie will be coming with me.)

-- D.S.

* -- You read that correctly.

Media Watch: ESPN's Radio iPhone App

ESPN just launched a new iPhone app for ESPN Radio that is getting a ton of publicity -- for good reason. Like NPR's recent app launch, it is a game-changer for its fans.

Mainly, I want to concur with JoeSportsfan's Matt Sebek, who gives you everything you could possibly want in an app review here.

Between the ability to listen to ESPN podcasts (sigh: I stumblingly pitched a Daily Quickie podcast back in 2006...) and the ability to listen to local radio streams, it is a terrific utility.

I agree with Matt that using iTunes to manage your full range of ESPN and non-ESPN podcasts (and run them in the background when using other iPhone apps) is valuable.

But that's not ESPN's challenge. ESPN's challenge is to make their content available where fans want to access it. They do that through iTunes. Now, they do that through iPhone apps.

ESPN was always going to dominate this when they decided to get into it as content providers, rather than the ill-fated ESPN Mobile attempt to be a carrier/distributor. ESPN's instantly dominating rankings on the app sales lists affirms that.

What I really like seeing is ESPN taking a leadership position beyond sports -- they are introducing iPhone apps that are setting standards for any media company, not just sports media. This fits with what ESPN is doing with local online coverage, what they're doing with social media and beyond.

I have been a little disappointed by ScoreCenter (is it me: why can't I find automated, app-driven NFL and college football scores and stats, without going to on my mobile browser?) and don't need the Fantasy app (I play on Yahoo and use their app plus CitizenSports' great fantasy team-tracker).

But this ESPN Radio app is tremendously valuable. It is well-conceived, well-designed and does much of what you would hope it would do. It is a must-have... and, frankly, a bargain at $2.99 (consider what you pay each month for your cable package).

Check out Matt's review here.

-- D.S.

Thursday 09/24 Quickie: Tebow vs. Leinart,
Ole Miss, Vick, NL Wild Card, Kansas, More

Shocker at the Sporting News: My colleagues picked Matt Leinart over Tim Tebow as college football Player of the Decade.

This despite two things: (1) In a head-to-head match-up, fans preferred Tebow 4-to-1 (79 percent to 21 percent), and (2) the argument for Tebow is much stronger than it is for Leinart.

As you would imagine, I used the lead of today's SN column to offer a dissenting opinion to SN's choice. I think that by January, SN will want to offer a correction.

(For what it's worth, SN followed the fan choice in the other sports, even when the fan-voting margin wasn't nearly as wide as Tebow-Leinart. With one exception: Overruling the fans' 60-40 vote for Tom Brady over Peyton Manning.)

More you'll find in today's column

*Mike Vick says he is the "Wildcat originator." Not quite, but I am excited to see the single-wing evolve with a "QB-who-can-run" running it, rather than an "RB-who-tries-to-throw."

*Ole Miss is the most overrated team in the college football Top 25. It's not their fault: Voters are going on preseason hype, rather than what the Rebels have done. Here's their chance tonight.

*It's hard to imagine the Rockies blowing a 4-game lead with 10 games to play. But both the Giants and Braves seem game to make it interesting. Either will need a 2007-Rockies-style 10-game win streak to finish the season, hoping the Rockies will do worse than 6-4.

*I appreciate Les Miles' candor about his qualifications (or lack thereof) to vote in the Coaches Top 25. How many AP voters have the guts to admit that they are too busy doing their job, covering their home team, to be able to watch more than bare highlights of the rest of the games around the country. Most probably watch less of a variety of game action than your average fan.

Lots more in today's column, which you can find here. More coming later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday 09/23 Quickie: Yankees,
Vick, Greinke, Reynolds, USC, Barber, More

It feels like we have seen a particularly dense level of "Title or Bust" in 2009:

*UNC in college hoops.
*Lakers (and Cavs) in the NBA.
*Florida in college football.
*Federer at the US Open.
*Tiger in any golf major.

The Yankees have been "title or bust" since they missed the playoffs last year -- maybe even since they last won a World Series, in 2000 -- and they cleared an important milestone yesterday: They clinched a playoff spot.

There are two milestones for the Yankees this year: Make the playoffs, win the World Series. That's it. If they didn't make the playoffs -- well, let's not even think about that; it would have been baseball Armageddon. Besides, it has been a foregone conclusion for months.

If they don't win the World Series, then making the playoffs is kind of a waste -- that's the one thing (maybe the only thing) I admire about the Yankees: They expect championships, and anything less is a massive let-down. Anything failure.

So in today's SN column, let's welcome the Yankees as the first team to make the playoff field -- for their sake, they better be the last team standing, too.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Vick will revolutionize the Wildcat
*Mark Reynolds: 206!
*Greinke for AL Cy -- it's no contest
*Pete Carroll: "Players' coach." Right.
*CBB's best 2-guard: Willie Warren?
*Jahvid Best for Heisman?
*Memo to Plax: "Waiver claim" is a prison euphemism.

Check out the complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today on TimTeblog: We're Among Friends

Today on

*To my friend MDS: Wrong about Tebow's NFL future?
*To my colleague C. Low: Riding Tebow is temporary?
*Even more on those pesky expectations we talked about last night.

Oh, and then there's this...

I suspect this fan will be sought-after for

-- D.S.

Tuesday 09/22 Quickie: Colts, Kiffin,
Crabtree, Cincy, Beasley, Herschel, More

I'm sure there are some hard-core, FootballOutsiders/SmartFootball-style analysis about time-of-possession being either important or over-inflated.

For now, the Colts' 15 minutes of possession last night in a win -- the lowest number in a winning NFL effort since 1977 -- just seems remarkable, all the moreso because it's not like Miami played badly or the Colts turned the ball over. They simply scored quickly -- two TDs in 45 seconds, at the start and end of the game -- and otherwise scored 3 times in 5 other possessions averaging just under 3 minutes each.

Longtime readers know that I live for novelty items like last night's game, so it's no surprise that it leads today's SN column. But there's a lot more:

*Rex Ryan has no need for Crabtree.
*Lane Kiffin, inexplicably, keeps yapping.
*Heat fans can go back to worrying about Wade leaving.
*Cincy is embarrassingly underrated by the pollsters.
*Chip Kelly is no Brian Kelly, but he's a good guy.
*Twins still in it; too little, too late for the Rangers.
*How can you not love Mark Reynolds?

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Revising Expectations for Tebow, Florida

My latest essay for Yahoo's Dr. Saturday, on the newly revised expectations for Tim Tebow and Florida football -- influenced in large part not just by Saturday's result, but last week's mass hysteria leading up to Saturday's result.

In short: Tebow's "greatest ever" legacy will have little-to-nothing to do with his stats and everything to do with the expectations surrounding the team's potential. It is a common refrain on this blog and elsewhere: "Win a championship...or bust."

(Find more on this at

Monday 09/21 Quickie: Jets, Brees,
Romo, Gore, Schaub, USC, Vols, More

Let's not discount the enormity of the Jets' win over the Patriots by insisting that Tom Brady ain't Tom Brady anymore and the Patriots kind of suck.

Instead, let's give Rex Ryan and the Jets some credit -- Brady looked like crap because the Jets made them look like crap. That is lead-worthy for today's SN column.

Here's what I would like to see: Rex Ryan versus Sean Payton -- Jets D versus Drew Brees. Because Brees is unstoppable and the Saints look like the best team in the NFC.

NOT the best team in the NFC: The Cowboys. Tony Romo had one of the worst games of his career -- again, we'll credit the Giants D -- and ruined the opening of Cowboys Stadium.

Anyone out there hit the fantasy trifecta: Matt Schaub at QB, Frank Gore at RB and Mike Sims-Walker at WR?

Are the Broncos the worst 2-0 team in NFL history? (Related: Who IS the worst team in the NFL? Jaguars? Chiefs? At least KC fans will go to games -- memo to Jaguars execs: Tim Tebow can't help you with the size of the problem you have.)

So, yeah, it was a typically big weekend in the NFL -- feels like midseason already, doesn't it? But there is a big college football hangover (see my two CFB posts below from the weekend):

Obviously, USC losing to Washington was THE story of the weekend. I think there is a Pete Carroll backlash brewing -- he is the anti-Tressel, losing games he is supposed to win.

You'll see in the post below: While I agree Tennessee did what it set out to do -- lose by less than the 30-point spread (seriously: they had no intention to even TRY to win the game) -- it would be a mistake to think the Gators are overrated. The defense is still sick, and Tebow was missing 3 key weapons to either injury or illness.

That said: I still don't think Florida is the No. 1 team in the country. I'll take Alabama, and I rank Cincinnati at No. 2. Wins at Rutgers and at Oregon State sandwiched around hanging 70 on a cupcake is a better resume than either Florida or Texas -- or most teams.

(The only reason Cincy is in the mid-teens is because AP and Coach pollsters had them unranked in the preseason. But isn't that the pollsters' fault, not Cincy's?)

The third-biggest CFB story of the weekend: BYU's BCS hopes end in a rout at home to FSU, which was overlooked because they played like crap against a fiesty Jax State team last week, on short rest over an exhausting game vs. Miami.

(You see Miami was a "transitive-property" beneficiary of FSU's win. So why doesn't Washington get the same "transitive-property" boost for beating USC?)

Anyway, as usual on a Monday, the SN column is loaded. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Re-Thinking Florida's Win over Tennessee

Like many Florida fans, I was seduced by the expectations -- that Florida was unstoppable, at least as it related to Tennessee, a team that couldn't even handle UCLA at home last week.

And like many fans, I was as disappointed with a rivalry win as you could be -- which is to say: Not disappointed, but the celebration was muted. You could feel it, walking out of The Swamp.

24 hours later, I have bought into a couple things that make the win seem better:

*Monte Kiffin is the best defensive coordinator in college football, and the Vols have a pretty damn good defense. That will be the best D Florida will see until Bama in the SEC title game.

*The Gators were missing a home-run threat at wide receiver (Deonte Thompson), and the biggest weapons (Demps, Hernandez) were battling some kind of flu.

*INT and goal-line fumble aside (the former took a great play by the best defensive player in college football; the latter was just plain stupid), Tim Tebow played well.

*Even if Tennesee's running game was locked in, Florida's defense dominated, and they still look like the best defense in the country. Regardless of how the offense plays, that is big.

*The expectations were way out of whack. For that, I sort of blame Urban Meyer for not talking up Tennessee during the week -- the points about Kiffin, or their returning solid core.

*The game could have easily been 30-6 -- or worse. The 10-point spread masked two things: Florida miscues (not just the turnovers, but that stupid excessive-celebration penalty that kept UT's final TD drive alive) and Tennessee playing not to win, but simply not to be blown out.

*That last point can't be overstated: Tennessee's entire game plan was to keep it within, say, 20. They had no interest in winning the game. It happened to be that their only offensive strength -- Hardesty and the run game -- was actually working, but it bled the clock.

*Florida was not punished for playing a close game -- presumably because Texas played a close game at home vs. Texas Tech and because USC lost to Washington. With their built-in advantage as last week's top-ranked team, Florida looked better than the rest of those top teams.

(I still think that after three weeks, Alabama looks like the best team in the country. And I think Cincinnati looks better than either Florida or Texas; if UF or UT had beaten Rutgers and Oregon State -- both on the road -- as convincingly as Cincy -- with that 70-point rout in between -- they would be overwhelming No. 1. Compare Cincy to, say, Penn State's early schedule, which has been a joke.)

Anyway, I was happy with the win 24 hours ago -- but not exactly thrilled. I am happier about it now. Urban made the best point: The Gators are 3-0. And that's all that matters. As long as they keep winning, they will play for the national title.

-- D.S.

Preliminary BlogPoll Ballot Thinking

It's an interesting week -- there aren't many top undefeated teams left (many undefeateds haven't proven themselves yet). At least half the list includes teams with a loss, and it's only Week 3. And I'm a bit hamstrung by my interest in not ranking a team ahead of a team that it lost to. Anyway, let's get right to it:

1. Alabama
Clearly playing the best.
2. Cincinnati
Two solid road wins and a slick offense.
3. Florida
The defense is still best in the nation.
4. Texas
Hamstrung by... Texas Tech's D?
5. LSU
Win over Washington suddenly..."quality!"

6. Cal
Jahvid Best: Should be Heisman front-runner.
7. Houston
Still like that fearless win from 2 weeks ago.
8. Ole Miss
Eh. Feasted on the weak.
9. Penn St
How about playing someone?
10. TCU
Better BCS-buster than Boise.

11. Miami
OK, I believe.
12. Kansas
Underrated in down year for Big 12.
13. Boise St
Oregon's win over Utah helps.
14. Virginia Tech
Struggled, but still a very quality win.
15. Oklahoma St
Georgia makes OK St look good.

16. Georgia
Not much D, but Arkansas is a good team.
17. Washington
Oh, you bet they are.
18. Florida St
Lit up a good BYU team.
19. BYU
There goes the BCS; still have that @OU win.
20. Oklahoma
Will never get my rank above BYU.

21. Auburn
WVU is a good team. Auburn for real?
22. USC
Probably don't deserve to be THIS high...
23. Ohio St
...But can't rank Trojans behind Buckeyes.
24. Iowa
Solid win shows NIowa escape was fluky.
25. Michigan
Promising. Still a little suspicious.

Sunday 09/20 (Husky) Quickie

Gainesville -- With a decent night's sleep to think on yesterday's games (including a late night watching Georgia-Arkansas and Texas-Texas Tech), here's what stuck with me:

*No offense to Washington fans -- for whom yesterday was the best win since the year current freshmen were born -- but the story is "USC lost."

*Jim Tressel takes a lot of grief for not being able to win the "big" games, but at least he beats the teams he is supposed to. Pete Carroll loses to teams he has no business losing to. Which is worse?

*Monte Kiffin is the smartest Xs and Os strategist in college football -- it's like he is taking a sabbatical from the NFL to show college coaches how it's done. He neutered Florida's offense.

*Lane Kiffin will get a ton of mileage out of his supreme expectations management -- that the Vols "only" lost by 10 at The Swamp. Never seen a home crowd in a rivalry win so subdued.

*Meanwhile, Florida is still unbeaten, but if that wasn't their wake-up call -- their "Ole Miss moment"-- to re-focus and stop listening to the hype, I'm not sure what will be.

*Heisman front-runner Tim Tebow didn't have a great game -- neither did co-front-runner Colt McCoy. Does the Heisman race get blown wide open after this? How about Cal's Jahvid Best?

*And that will be that for all the talk about BYU crashing the BCS national-title game. (Same with Utah.) Boise State (and TCU) are left, but Boise's schedule is a joke -- BCS-unworthy.

*I'm working on my BlogPoll, and I will tell you that neither Florida nor Texas will be No. 1. (It will be Alabama.) Several new teams will debut: Washington, Auburn, Iowa.

*Looking ahead to next week, the best games: Miami at VA Tech, Arkansas at Alabama, Iowa at Penn St (revenge!), Fresno St at Cincinnati.

Among non-CFB storylines: How about the Twins, beating the Tigers again and closing within 2 games of the AL Central lead?

BlogPoll ballot coming later this a.m.

-- D.S.