Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday 10/03 Quickie + CFB Picks

At the wire...!

3 Alabama over @Kentucky
18 Georgia over 4 LSU
5 Boise St over UC Davis
6 VA Tech over @Duke
7 USC over @24 Cal
8 Oklahoma over @17 Miami
9 Ohio St over @Indiana
10 Cincy over @Miami (OH)
11 TCU over SMU
12 Houston over @UTEP
13 Iowa over Arkansas St
15 Penn St over Illinois
16 Oregon over Washington St
21 Ole Miss over @Vandy
Michigan St over 22 Michigan
25 Georgia Tech over @Mississippi St

Other Games of Note:
Auburn over @Tennessee
Wisconsin over @Minnesota
South Florida over @Syracuse
Florida State over @BC
Arkansas over Texas A&M
Washington over Notre Dame
Purdue over Northwestern

*Chicago snubbed by Olympics. In hindsight: So obvious. Still: Humiliating.

*HS Football: Anyone else watch prep 1 vs. 2 last night? Just me? St. Thomas Aquinas is REALLY good -- when you can light up the No. 2 team in the country, you're pretty awesome. I think I saw that Aquinas has 19 D1-A prospects -- in the senior class. Yikes. (Do-everything Lamarcus Joyner was particularly impressive for Aquinas.)

*Anyone still think the Dodgers have any shot of winning the NL pennant? Cripes: They may not even win their division, at this rate. Someone's playing to win (Colorado); someone's just playing to get to next week (LA).

More later. Time to settle in for a day of CFB-watching.

-- D.S.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Most Important Anniversary

There are a couple of anniversaries I celebrate here: August 31 (the day was launched) and January 6 (the day the Daily Quickie launched) are the biggies.

But neither would matter -- would even exist, most likely -- if not for tomorrow's anniversary: October 3, my wedding anniversary.

This year, it happens to be a "biggie" -- 5 years. (Whoops: They're ALL big... this just happens to be the first nice, round-sounding number you get to after your wedding day itself.)

Everyone's marriage is special, obviously, but mine has a particular sports component:

If not for my wife, I would not be a Florida fan. And if I wasn't a Florida fan, I'm not quite sure WHAT I'd be, fan-wise -- probably the same aimless, rootless fan I was before I met her.

And it goes without question that my wife's own sports fandom -- that she was a fan at all, let alone a die-hard college football and college hoops fan -- was some sort of necessary attribute to our relationship working out.

One of my wife's biggest pet peeves is when people say to her "Oh, it's so nice you're a Florida fan with Dan" -- as if she glommed on to MY team. She brusquely corrects them (as she should).

She loves sitting on the couch all day on Saturdays, watching college football -- even when the Gators aren't playing. She particularly likes the NCAA Tournament. ("March Madness" was listed on her resume under "Interests.") Her skill in bracket-picking is prolific: Remember back in 2006, when my unborn son's bracket finished in the Top 10 OUT OF 10,000 entries in the Quickie Readers pool -- that was my wife, making the picks.

The weekend of October 3, 2004, our wedding was loaded with college footballish details: It was held on a Sunday in north Florida, and the day before was a Gators home game -- for those attendees who gave up their precious game tickets (a wild 45-30 win over Arkansas) to hang out with us, her parents put on a huge tailgate spread -- complete with custom plastic "stadium cups" for drinks, replacing the season schedule with big dates from our relationship. (I will take credit for the stadium-cup idea.)

Later that night, after the rehearsal dinner, worlds collided as my Northwestern friends watched NU pull off a stunning rare win over Ohio State -- the Florida fans were as loud in pulling for the Cats as the NU crowd.

I couldn't imagine a wedding weekend that DIDN'T pay at least some homage to college football -- as anyone who has held (or attended) a fall wedding can attest. It is one of the things I remember most about the weekend.

But let's wrap it back to this blog and the Quickie and and Varsity Dad and everything else I'm working on:

None of it would have happened or been possible without the complete support of my wife. She encouraged me to make the Quickie a reality; she encouraged me to dedicate the time I put into the blog -- now blogs, plural. She has been my biggest fan and my toughest (but fairest) critic and, frankly, the inspiration for all of it. Any success I have had is because of her influence and support.

And if I have any regret, it's that life is a zero-sum game: The hour you spend writing is an hour you don't spend with your wife or your kids or your friends or some other pursuit you care about. And I enjoy spending time with my wife so much, I miss those hours as much as I cherish the ones we do get to have together.

Ironically, there is no Gator game for us to watch together tomorrow, on the actual day of our anniversary. We will click on LSU-Georgia and settle in -- what more can you ask for that you get that kind of partnership for a BYE week. But, like I said, she's a bigger -- and better -- sports fan than I ever was. But you already knew that. And I love her for it.

(We will extend the anniversary celebration in two weeks when she comes with me to the Blogs With Balls conference in Las Vegas, where we'll have a reservation at the Wynn Sports Book to watch games all day Saturday -- if you'll be around town, I'd love to introduce you to her. She'll be in her Gators "Lucky Shirt," which -- speaking of which -- I'm not sure she was wearing last weekend when Tim Tebow suffered the concussion. Hmm...)

So to my wife: Thank you for the five best years of my life. For our relationship. For my kids. For my sports fandom. (Just to confirm: Yes, in that order...even if some mornings it doesn't feel like it.) I love you -- now more than ever.

-- D.S.

PS: Check out that Quickie link above, from the last column I filed before I took a few days off to get married: I had filed the Quickie for 447 consecutive weekdays -- an Ironman streak that I doubt is matched in mainstream media. I had nearly forgotten about that. Here's how I put it:
447 consecutive days. Not counting weekends and a handful of national holidays, that's my Quickie-writing streak, as of Wednesday morning. Not exactly Ripken or Favre, but hey ...

Who would put up with that kind of deviant behavior? The early mornings? The TV addiction? The obsession with awk. abbrev.? That would be devoted Quickie reader Margery, who -- assuming the rally caps work -- I'll marry on Sunday.
Five years after marrying me -- which was already a year and a half into the Quickie and three years into my Page 2 writing -- she still puts up with it.

IOC Eliminates Chicago: Ouch

The IOC dismissed Chicago -- the presumption was that between Obama's support and the sponsorship and rights-fee opportunities of a US-based Games, Chicago was the favorite.

It does no actual damage to Obama's standing, of course -- in the end, it's just the Olympics -- but you can bet plenty of political hay will be made about his inability to be a closer on this.

I was SURE that Obama never would have gone to Copenhagen if there wasn't an understanding that Chicago would be picked.

Friday 10/02 Quickie: NFL Goes Pink,
CFB Duds, Blount, Tebow, MLB Finales

The column-leading biggest storyline of the NFL weekend -- and I'm not counting the Favre-Packers storyline, which happens Monday -- is THE visual of the weekend: NFL players sporting pink accessories. It's a rare moment the NFL doesn't take itself too seriously -- and it's for an entirely worthy cause: Breast Cancer Awareness. I think players wearing flashy pink shoes is even cooler than when MLB players use pink bats.

Meanwhile, I think this weekend in college football is "Let-Down Saturday." Last week was so crazy, so intense... in part, it took the air out of this week's once-promising match-ups: Cal-USC once seemed like a Pac-10 title game. Now? Ha.... Oklahoma-Miami lost it luster when The U got walloped at VA Tech (if not when OU lost to BYU)... LSU-Georgia is tainted by UGA's loss at OK St, but also because LSU should have lost at Mississippi State last week, a revealing win that nontheless showed LSU to be overrated. In fact, the most intriguing game is Auburn-Tennessee, matching up strategic gurus Gus Malzahn vs. Monte Kiffin.

More you'll find in today's column:
*"Rocktober": Best postseason-related, team-based pun.
*MLB season ends this weekend: One more chance to see Greinke.
*Reinstate LeGarrette Blount!
*Ted Williams: Hall of Fame mockery.

Check the complete column here. More posts later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday 10/10 Quickie: SEC, Vick,
Tigers, Tebow, Phillies, CBB Top 50

Ahh: SEC triumphalism!

Actually, riffing on this week's Sporting News mag cover story on the SEC in the lead of my SN column today, I think I correctly label the phenomenon as "SEC exceptionalism." (Good context on exceptionalism here.)

What does that mean, exactly? That SEC fans -- their passion, their expectations -- are the engine of the SEC's performance, both on and off the field: The huge coaching contracts, the merchandise sales, the TV ratings, the winning, the hype.

This is not a myth created at the top and pushed down -- this is a bottom-up, populist surge that willed itself into what now goes for reality in college football.

Anyway, that's my shallow attempt at turning Sporting News into "Foreign Policy" magazine this morning.

More you'll find in the column:
*It's NOT a Nike endorsement for Vick; it's a couple pairs of shoes.
*Phillies fans might start getting used to the playoffs.
*The Tigers have all but wrapped it up in the AL Central.
*Tyreke Evans' knee! No!
*More love for Joe Webb.
*The obligatory Tebow watch.
*SN's college hoops Top 50, which I call "foreshadowing."

Complete column here. More later.

If I don't get a chance to post on it later, if you live in NYC, don't miss tonight's Varsity Letters Reading Series in Brooklyn, headlined by Joe Posnanski. FREE! (And awesome!)

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tebow Updates Today on

As has been the case since Saturday night, has been cranking on the Tim Tebow concussion story, relaying the latest news, highlighting the best analysis and explaining how it all fits together. In the last 24 hours alone...

*The biggest Tebow issue: Not CAN he play or WILL he play...but SHOULD he play?

*This week's Tebow column on Yahoo's Dr. Saturday: SHOULD Tebow play?

For the record, I am suspicious that he will be so healed in just two weeks that playing against LSU would be without any risk of further short-term or long-term injury or recovery needs.

But I actually think that Florida can -- and will -- beat LSU without Tebow, with John Brantley starting at QB. The D is that good. The RBs are that good. The special teams are that good.

(I'll get into this as we get closer to the game -- 11 days away...god, has it only been 4 days since the concussion? -- but there is a fascinating implication of the above statement: Florida is so good they can win their toughest game of the regular season WITHOUT Tebow? Or....)

*Is all the talk about Tebow possibly playing a genius ploy to get in LSU's head?

*Must-read quotes from (and reaction to)'s Chris Low and LSU's Les Miles.

*Eh: Couldn't help but take a dig at Gregg Doyel's flawed take on Urban Meyer.

Wednesday 09/30 Quickie: AL Central,
NFL Dementia, NBA Refs, CFB Injuries

There are "magic numbers" and then there are "reality numbers." (Damn, I should have started today's SN column with THAT line.)

And the reality is this: Because the Twins didn't sweep the Tigers yesterday, the Twins are in a must-win situation not just today, but tomorrow -- they need to head into the final 3 games tied for the AL Central lead. To go in 2 GB -- which is the scenario if they split today and tomorrow -- basically puts it out of reach. It's fuzzy math -- the Twins won't be eliminated from ANY possibility of catching the Tigers... just the most likely ones.

One of the big stories today will be this NYT front-pager about the study that NFL players are a lot more likely to suffer dementia than the rest of us, from all that clobbering. And while the study is powerful, there is a huge element of: WELL, OBVIOUSLY. I appreciate the increased medical-study certainty, but really -- we needed a study for this?

(As all of these things come back to Tebow for me these days, it certainly resonates as you think about the decision-making around bringing Tebow back -- a week from Saturday or beyond.)

Speaking of Tebow, I was thrilled to hear Urban Meyer talking about how Tebow is taking his rehab seriously -- what I'd like to hear more about is Tebow's willingness to sit for a few weeks to ensure he is as recovered as he can be. I'm still hearing a lot of hopefulness that Tebow can play vs. LSU. I hope that that is nothing more than gamesmanship by Urban.

If the Dolphins are so unsold on Chad Henne that they feel they need to bring in Tyler Thigpen, perhaps Henne isn't the solution. (More realistically, they see White as nothing more than a Wildcat specialist, and they needed a "pro-style" backup QB in case Henne struggles or gets hurt. But you get the sense that the rest of the season is a tryout for Henne -- if he struggles, and the Dolphins continue their pace for a Top 10 draft pick, I presume that Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy will be on the table as options.)

There's a ton more in the SN column today. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obama Ball: Photo of the Day

Maybe Obama is pushing for the Olympics in Chicago in 2016 so he can participate in hoops...

(Photo by White House, taken on Aug. 26, while Obama was on vacation.)

Time for BCS To Include BlogPoll in Formula

There has been a lot of (entirely justified) talk about the lunacy that is the BCS-driving Coaches and Harris polls this week: Cal over Oregon... Penn State over Iowa... Oklahoma State over Houston (Coaches)... Ole Miss still ranked... LSU at No. 4...

Let's compare those polls to the BlogPoll, a weekly (and administered) polling of more than 100 of the most respected and most attentive college football bloggers in the country. This week:

*Alabama at No. 1 -- only "mainstream" poll to do it.
*Boise State ahead of LSU.
*Iowa ahead of Penn State.
*Houston ahead of Oklahoma State.
*Oregon ahead of Cal.
*Ole Miss: Out.

Imagine that: A college football ranking based on reality (or "resume"), rather than reputation.

This isn't a bunch of forward-thinking, resume-voting outliers (like the AP's Doug Lesmerises) -- this is an aggregate conclusion of more than 100 college football experts.

It is -- in short -- more reflective of reality than any of the "traditional" polls. And it would be one thing to be triumphalist about the BlogPoll results, on their face. But the polls matter:

The Coaches poll and Harris poll impact the BCS title-game pairing. The AP not only crowns its own champion, but -- in the short-term -- most media outlets default to the AP ranking, which drives TV promotion and availability, P.R. and visibility for the teams that are "in."

The college football poll discussion is missing an important piece: The mainstream media is covered (AP); the Coaches are represented; the Harris poll purports to offer "expert" human opinion to "balance" out the Coaches; the computer programmers -- six of them -- get a say.

What is missing is non-"traditional" media (bloggers, some of whom write for the biggest outlets in mainstream sports media -- like Yahoo -- or compete favorably on readers and influence with their team's local "traditional"media outlet... indeed, any AP voter who doesn't consume their beat's best indie blogging is doing a disservice to their readers). What is also missing is any input from fans, but in the absence of a true national "Fan Poll," the BlogPoll -- with its system involving input from readers -- is the closest proxy we have to fan input.

This week's results -- as well as the mainstream hoopla around AP voter Doug Lesmerises' "controversial" (ha!) ballot using mostly "resume-based" ranking -- have made it clear that we have two simultaneous effects: The Coaches and Harris polls have arguably never been more out of touch; the BlogPoll does a better job of reflecting reality.

There is a solution: In the same way the "computer" component of the BCS mixes a half-dozen sources, the BCS should augment the "human" component of the BCS by adding the BlogPoll to the Coaches and Harris polls.

More human input -- particularly from the expert perspective of the BlogPollsters -- will only help the other two human polls. The BCS will get an instant injection of credibility, particularly for incorporating the BlogPoll's system of ultimate transparency and accountability (something absurdly missing from all three of the BCS' core elements -- the Coaches, the Harris and the computers).

And it's not like the BlogPoll is unruly; it is managed in the same way the AP, Harris and Coaches polls are -- by an administrator, who appears to do more to review the bonafides of BlogPoll participants than Harris does with its voters, the AFCA does with its coaches... or even that the AP does with its voters.

The BlogPoll has been around for a few years now; its legitimacy is unquestioned -- it is in the second year of affiliation with as its partner. This week's results merely highlighted the most striking differentials yet between the BlogPoll and its "mainstream" cohorts. Alternate, knowledgeable, credentialed perspectives -- like the BlogPoll -- will only help the BCS system.

As long as we're going to have the BCS system based on opinion -- and, like it or not, the BCS system will be here for years to come -- let's expand the inputs to include a valuable new source of opinion.

But don't trust me -- compare this week's rankings (even cover up which source is which) and use your own common sense to figure out which rankings seem most accurate.

Trust the closest thing to your own instinct -- trust the BlogPoll. And, by adding the BlogPoll to the mix, create expanded trust in the BCS system -- a system that desperately needs it.

It's better than the status quo.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 09/29 Quickie: Tebow, Obama,
Cowboys, Lions, Twins, NBA Media Days

So the theme of this morning's SN column is "So What'd I Miss?" Like, I step away for three days, and...

*Tim Tebow's concussion: Now Urban is saying he thinks Tebow will play vs. LSU. Wha?

*The Lions have as good as -- or better -- record than half the league.

*The Yankees clinch the AL East? Zzz. Call me when they win the World Series. But it's nice to see a division race matter: Twins-Tigers. Oh, and the Braves are catching the Rockies.

*Barack Obama will help Chicago's Olympic effort after all. Of course he will -- and why shouldn't he? The key: Communicate how many jobs it will create in the next six years.

More you'll find in today's column:

*The Cowboys are not a great team.
*Anyone who doesn't vote Greinke for AL Cy is a fool.
*NBA Media Day: LeBron and Shaq will rule the regular season.
*Stafon Johnson: Worst weight-room injury ever?

Lots more here
-- it's like a Monday column, but it's Tuesday! More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday 09/28 (Very) Quickie

Feels weird to do an early-evening edition of this post, rather than an early-morning edition. Like I'm working for a newspaper in the 1950s!

Just a couple headlines, then back in full force tomorrow in the SN column and right here:

*Tebow, the Latest: Meyer "THINKS" Tebow will play vs. LSU, doesn't "KNOW." I may be bullish, but I think Florida can beat LSU at LSU without Tebow -- why risk it?

*Obama going to bat for Chicago 2016 Olympics. And I think he'll be the closer, too.

*Twins-Tigers: Any hope of the final week of the baseball season being at all dramatic comes down to these 4 games, which Minnesota must go 3-1 at worst, but ideally sweep. (NL Wild Card: More interesting than it deserves to be.)

*MNF: More Cowboys Stadium porn, I presume. I'll pass. After last week's House season-premiere (had to watch on iTunes a few days after the fact), I'm back on night-of viewing.

More tomorrow. I have to go eat...a lot.

-- D.S.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday 09/27 (Yom Kippur Eve) Quickie

Starting in about an hour, I won't be posting through tomorrow (Monday) night, in observance of Yom Kippur.

Just a few thoughts between now and then:

*Tim Tebow is back in Gainesville. Apparently it's "only" a "minor" concussion. We'll see. I have a lot of thoughts about that, as you can imagine.

*See my latest BlogPoll Top 25 ballot in the post below. I'm big on Cincy, Houston, Iowa and Oregon; I'm down on Ole Miss, Penn State, Miami and Cal. Oh, and Boise in the AP's top 5: Big rant there.

*Congrats to the Lions breaking their epic losing streak -- I think that's the story of the weekend in the NFL. (The Rams are the new Lions! Oh, and fire Jim Zorn.)

*Yes, that includes Brett Favre's Hail Mary TD to lead the Vikings past the 49ers at the last second. (Although let's credit Greg Lewis -- wow, what a catch.)

*And, yes, that includes Mike Vick's return, which was overshadowed by Kevin Kolb's sick game (327 yards passing, 2 TDs passing, 0 INTs, 1 TD rushing). Vick Who?

*I think I shallowly believe in "statement wins" -- the Pats made one today by beating the Falcons.

*As argued last week, the Jets are for real. The Titans' season may be over already.

*Fantasy Stud of the Day: Maurice Jones-Drew (119 yards and 3 TDs), reminding everyone why he was the consensus No. 2 overall fantasy draft prospect behind Peterson.

Have an easy fast, to those of you who are doing that. Back tomorrow evening.

-- D.S.

This Week's BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot: Exposed!

I reject the notion that the college football season is already in "chaos." Debunking rankings inflated by preseason b.s. is not "chaos" -- in fact, that's the definition of bringing order.

I took Ole Miss out of my Top 25. Who have they beaten? All they had to do was beat SoCar.

I took Cal out of my Top 25. Who have they beaten? And a drubbing at Oregon on top of it.

I nearly took Penn State out of my Top 25. Who have they beaten? And they lost ugly AT HOME.

I nearly took Miami out of my Top 25. Between getting throttled by VA Tech and the win over FSU back to being "hardly quality," they are non-contenders.

Meanwhile, I upbraid myself for having LSU 6th. I watched nearly the entire LSU-Mississippi State game, and LSU should have lost, but for MSU's own incompetence. I'll fix that.

And I don't know why I'm dropping Cincy from 2nd behind Florida and Texas; Cincy looked good beating Fresno State -- a quality win. Houston resumes its place in my Top 5.

And I absolutely reward two teams that deserve it -- Oregon, whose only loss is a fluky Week 1 loss at Boise, a Top 10 team, and Iowa, who won a tough game on the road.

The AP's treatment of Boise State is laughable -- No. 5? Aside from beating Oregon (in Boise), their schedule is a joke. If all it takes to be a Top 5 team is to be unbeaten and toppling a "name" team, why isn't Iowa ranked ahead of Boise State by the AP? Or Houston ranked ahead of Boise? At least they won on the road!

It's like the AP voters watched that Game Day segment about "resume voting" and twisted it into some kind of absurdity involving Boise State. If all it takes to be a BCS bowl team is to go unbeaten against a crappy schedule, every middling team in a BCS conference should secede and play a WAC-quality schedule.

Anyhow, here's how my ballot looks right now. As always, any/all feedback appreciated (with the caveat that, yes, LSU is currently ranked too high).

1 Alabama
2 Florida 1
3 Texas 1
4 Cincinnati 2
5 Houston 2
6 LSU 1
7 TCU 3
8 Virginia Tech 6
9 Kansas 3
10 Iowa 14
11 Boise State 2
12 Oregon
13 Southern Cal 9
14 Ohio State 9
15 Brigham Young 4
16 Oklahoma 4
17 South Florida
18 Oklahoma State 3
19 Auburn 2
20 Michigan 5
21 Georgia Tech
22 Miami (Florida) 11
23 Georgia 7
24 Missouri
25 Penn State 16
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: California (#6), Mississippi (#8), Washington (#17), Florida State (#18).

-- D.S.