Today's Names to Know: Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan, Michael Vick, Iowa-Arizona, Urban Meyer, Denard Robinson, Texas Tech fans, SF Giants, Reggie Bush, Derek Jeter, Black Eyed Peas, Ike Davis, Sue Bird and More.
After a week of "Ines-anity," I'm really looking forward to the weekend, when we can get back to arguing with each other about game results.
The NFL weekend is headlined by Jets-Pats (I'll predict a Pats romp); a likely Michael Vick start for the Eagles; and an awesome Sunday night match-up between the Giants and Colts.
The CFB weekend has a ton of intriguing "prove-it" games -- Iowa-Arizona is probably my favorite (I'm taking Arizona), but throw in Baylor-TCU, Texas-Texashhh Tech, Air Force-Oklahoma, Arkansas-Georgia, Florida at Tennessee and even ND-Mich St (in primetime).
CFB Picks: I'll take the ranked team in all of the Top 25 matchups (except AZ>IA), but if you are looking for an unranked-over-ranked Upset Special, I'm intrigued by Baylor over TCU and the end of the BCS-crashing-the-national-title-game meme.
Oh, and Denard Robinson going crazy on UMass. He turns an otherwise lame game into must-track.
Florida, Urban Meyer under scrutiny: I'm impossibly biased here. It is odd to try to argue that Meyer runs a disciplined program when so many of his players get arrested -- it is also hard to argue when he is so willing to give them second chances. I think he's right to be offended that people want to label the program "dirty" and that there is nothing to indicate -- aside from individual issues -- that he is doing anything but running the program as a whole the right way.
In theory, the Texas Tech student government idea to have the crowd be totally silent when Texas takes the field is kind of intriguing. In practice, it makes no sense and is doomed to sputter.
MLB Pennant Races: The Giants are now in 1st place in the NL West. Is that it for the Padres? Hardly, but you have to believe they feel that tickle in their throat.
In the AL, it is easy to keep a focus on the battle at the top of the AL East between the Yankees and Rays, but please note -- as reader Will M did to me -- that the Twins are rolling.
Oh, SURE, Reggie Bush: Returning the Heisman doesn't make you look guilty at all. The good news is that we all have been assuming he took the cash for years.
Jeter Cheater, Cont'd: Loved Rob Neyer's take on this. Reprising my take: It wasn't gritty gamesmanship; it was unfair deception -- lying -- that has no place in the game.
Entertainment: Black Eyed Peas for Super Bowl halftime? Really? The NFL was actually on kind of a roll with decent halftime acts. This is playing it as safe as it gets.
Site design tweak update: No favors with your voting -- nearly as many hated the switch to Ariel font from Georgia as liked it, with most of you not really caring one way or the other.
(I actually had gone into the vote saying to myself that if 20 percent of you hated the new font, I'd leave the old one. Can we live with it for the weekend and make a final determination on Monday?)
Enjoy your weekend. Easy fast, to my folks observing Yom Kippur.
(On a related note, for someone who pays attention to Jewish athletes, how did I not know that Ike Davis is Jewish? His mom is Jewish and while he isn't observant, he considers himself "culturally Jewish," and is actually letting his mom decide for him whether he should play tomorrow night during the holiday.)
Speaking of all-tie great Jewish athletes, congrats to Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm on winning the WNBA title.
Big week next week. Rest up.