Friday, December 31, 2010

12/31 New Year's Eve Quickie

Happy new year (in advance)! Wow, it's been a fascinating 2010 in sports (and life). Here's to a fun and safe New Year's Eve for all of you.

It's a shock but not a surprise that UConn's women lost at Stanford. If any team was going to do bust the streak, it was going to be the Cardinal at Maples. I just didn't think they'd do it.

(Question: Doesn't this kind of mitigate any chance Stanford has of beating UConn if/when they meet in the Final Four? Hard to see Stanford beating UConn twice in one season.)


Yesterday's CFB Bowl Insanity: The end of that Tennessee-UNC Music City Bowl was ridiculous. I actually feel bad for Tennessee fans (rather than the schadenfreude of the LSU loss).

Then there was the end of the Syracuse-K-State game, where the K-State receiver was flagged for a penalty for saluting after the late TD that brought KSU within 2. It pushed the would-be game-tying 2-point conversion back to the 17-yard line and cost KSU any reasonable chance at tying the game.

Was the call right? By the letter of the rule, yes. But it is so inconsistently applied that it was best left as a no-call, especially given the timing. (Then again, players should know better -- and if they don't, then the coaches haven't done their job preparing them.) I personally don't find post-TD celebrations offensive in the least, and so I have a high tolerance for gestures before I'd think throwing a flag was appropriate.

(Both games eclipsed what should have been a pretty notable win by Washington over Nebraska, especially considering how badly NU pounded UW back in September.)

Four bowls today, headlined by Notre Dame-Miami in the mid-afternoon. It's not what it once was, but we'll watch, of course, because it's ND vs. Miami. Nostalgia!

(More: USF-Clemson -- dud. Georgia-UCF -- upset watch! South Carolina-Florida State in primetime -- SC, jumped by New Year's Day bowls, should roll. They were very good in '10.)


New Year's Day Bowl Mania! Six bowls tomorrow, which I'll try to summarize as shallowly as possible:

*Will Northwestern get its first bowl win ever? (Remember: NU regularly ends up in some of the most exciting games of the season.)

*An hour into a Northwestern bowl game I would usually watch in its entirety, Florida kicks off against Penn State, so you know what's happening there. It's Urban Meyer's Florida finale -- frankly, it is a bigger deal that it is Steve Addazio's Florida finale. One more chance to enjoy that ineffective dive play, Gator fans.

*What a disappointing finish for the defending champs. Remember when Alabama's place in the national title game was a presumption? That's why college football is so amazing.

*Is this Rich Rodriguez's final game at Michigan? (If Michigan was smart, it would pay RichRod his reduced buyout -- but only having already backroom-secured Jim Harbaugh as its next coach.)

*The day's headliner is the Rose Bowl: Wisconsin -- which had a pretty awesome year -- against TCU, trying to win one for all the non-BCS teams out there (not to mention prove its bonafides as a team worthy of a national-champ vote or two). Wisco doesn't offer much of a strategic challenge: TCU simply has to stop the most punishing run game in the country.

*UConn-Oklahoma's Fiesta Bowl is as lame as all the UConn fans who aren't going know it will be. TCU's place as the Big East's automatic-qualifying BCS bowl champ can't happen soon enough.


NFL Week 17 Preview: For all of you whose teams play their final game of the season, I'm sorry. Even watching your pathetic team stumble not into the playoffs is better than no football at all.

I love that the weekend's headliner is the "playoff play-in" game for the NFC West title between the Seahawks and Rams, which could leave us with our first-ever sub-.500 division champ, an outcome I am rooting for hard.

Otherwise, it's a handful of teams still playing for a playoff spot -- or playoff position. But most of the league is phoning it in. The good news: The NFL playoffs start next Saturday.

More NFL: Sal Alosi and the Jets fined $100K; Brett Favre fined $50K. Gotcha. (Actually, I suspect that the Jets are guilty for the same thing Favre is: "Misleading" the league. Do you think the Jets actually copped to anything more than the "lone bad actor," as far-fetched as that seems? You bet. In sports, obfuscation has always been the optimal strategy.


More CFB: Quick thought about the Ohio State 5 apparently committing to return next season: If the presumptive threat was that there is no way Tressel would play them in the game if they didn't say they were returning (no matter how much pressure the Sugar Bowl CEO puts on the school), what would be their incentive to tip that hand now? What's the punishment if they say they are coming back, play in the game, then declare for the draft a week later?

As a nominal Maryland football fan, I heartily endorse Mike Leach as the next coach, if only because he would make the Terps the most entertaining/telegenic football team on the East Coast. If you're not winning a national title -- and Maryland most definitely is not -- then you might as well be fun to watch.


NHL Winter Classic: My favorite NHL event of the year -- and, in my opinion, the best idea in the history of the sport. That it pits the league's two biggest stars -- and had the promotion of HBO's incredible 24/7 series -- only makes it bigger. Shame the weather might mess things up. It's scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, but it could get pushed into the evening. At worst, it gets moved to Sunday. No problem: Fans will still tune in. (Yes, even on Sunday, against the NFL.)


Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due today. Here's hoping for a good result for Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines, among others. For the record, I am part of the camp that would vote Bagwell in.

Again, best wishes for a happy, healthy and satisfying 2011 to all of you. Huge stuff ahead. Posting all weekend.

-- D.S.

No comments: