Today's Names to Know: Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett, James Harrison, Dan Hawkins, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki, Brad Wanamaker, Jordan Hamilton, Marcus Dupree, Joe Morgan and More.
Wade Phillips axed: This was an inevitability as soon as the Cowboys hit 2 or 3 losses this season... not to mention the Super Bowl-sized preseason expectations... not to mention last season's typical fizzle.
Jason Garrett won't be Jerry Jones' long-term solution -- and the speculation over who he might hire (Gruden doesn't seem interested; how about Cowher?) will make the rest of the season more interesting for the Cowboys than "another loss? ha!"
MNF: Steelers hang on. Two interpretations here: Either the Steelers went on the road and beat a motivated division rival, and it doesn't matter how they did it -- or the Steelers lack a championship instinct, having let the Bengals back into the game and one late 4th-down conversion from potentially stealing the game back. I'll begrudgingly stick with the former.
Matt Stafford out for year: Again? Ouch. You know, of all the problems I had with Stafford before the 2009 Draft, durability wasn't one of them. (That was supposed to be Bradford's problem; who would have guessed that Sam Bradford would be more NFL-durable than Stafford?)
Cam Newton Scandal, Cont'd: With the agent-asked-for-money-to-sign-him story fizzling, now the story is that he left Florida because he was academically cheating? There may be more substance there -- "athlete has tutor write paper for him" is hardly "man bites dog" -- but it lacks sizzle to make fans care. Possible cheating two years ago? Eh. (And the sourcing on the story is VERY iffy. Anonymous guy makes a claim with no evidence? Cripes, that's like a message board post. Hell: Rivals message board posts have MORE credibility than that.)
CFB: Colorado fires Dan Hawkins. Remember when Hawkins was at Boise State and was the eccentric dream coach of the media and fans? Turns out a larger program was a little bit too much for him to handle. He's out, after years of muddling through at CU. But he will surely land on his feet back at a non-BCS school and turn them into an unbeaten power within two years. (Either that, or Hawkins' success was all Chris Petersen, his successor at Boise who has had even more success than Hawkins.)
Media: Joe Morgan out at ESPN. I seriously wonder if he would have been kept around had it not been for years of high-profile erosion by the hilarious guys at "Fire Joe Morgan," whose site was never really about Joe Morgan as much as it was bad sportswriting. It is unrealistic, I guess, to hope that all sports-news organizations jettison their iffy analysts.
(Jon Miller is leaving the Sunday night baseball broadcast, too -- I grew up with Miller calling Orioles games, and I can't view him with any sort of objectivity. I hope he will stick around ESPN Radio to call the national game in that medium. Meanwhile, presumptive replacement Dan Shulman is the most talented play-by-play announcer at ESPN -- or in sports. Welcome!)
Tebow Watch: His memoir is coming out in April, which will have me kicking myself I didn't write my own Tebook last spring. Here's a guarantee: No. 1 New York Times best-seller and the top-selling sports book of the year -- same as Tony Dungy's book. (They share a co-writer.) As for the mocking about how much a 23-year-old could have done to earn a memoir, I think we can all agree that his last five years have had more than enough material.
NBA Last Night: The Hawks could never keep up the unbeaten pace, obviously; following their first loss, playing a back-to-backer at Orlando was way too much to ask... Big win for Dirk and the Mavs over the Celtics -- one of those wins that screws up the expectations for Mavs fans... Monta Ellis goes down, Stephen Curry (34 points) picks it up... Derrick Rose really has become unstoppable this season.
CBB Openers: Have to put together a shallow college hoops preview for sometime this week, but last night's openers had that competitive Pitt-Rhodey game that the Panthers won (Brad Wanamaker: 24 pts). I don't think it was an indictment of Pitt being overrated as much as it was a function of URI being a pretty good squad that would be tough for any Top 25 team to open their season with.
It's a lot easier to be Texas starting with, say, Navy. The only conclusion to draw about Texas after a single game is that UT's hoops offense is MUCH better than their football offense. (Jordan Hamilton: 26 pts, 10 reb for the likely NBA 1st-round pick.)
TV Tonight: Marcus Dupree. Apparently, the "30 for 30" doc tonight about Marcus Dupree is amazing -- one of the best in what has been an incredible series. Will definitely be watching.