Saturday, January 08, 2011

01/08 Quickie: Harbaugh, Wild Card

Happy Wild Card Weekend. Saints-Seahawks in the late afternoon; Jets-Colts tonight. More than enough to keep you entertained.

49ers hire Jim Harbaugh: A coup for a franchise that needs a lot of help. Harbaugh is the rare college coach who can/will make a successful transition to the pros.

It doesn't hurt that 8 wins will put him in the hunt for a division title.

(And if he doesn't? That's the 49ers problem; Harbaugh will always be able to command a fortune in college, basically at the program of his choice.)

LSU clobbers Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl: Was that Les Miles' last game for LSU? (Doubt it.)

But who's ready for the BBVA Compass Bowl between Kentucky and Pitt today? (No one? Fair enough.)

NBA: Carmelo to the Nets with help from the Pistons? Sure doesn't seem like it. But when it comes to Carmelo rumors, it doesn't take much to get folks talking.

MLB: Cubs get Matt Garza from the Rays. It's a display of Tampa's crazy surplus of starting pitching that they can ship out Garza -- who would have priced them out anyway, eventually -- yet still have one of the best rotations in the AL. Nice upgrade for Chicago, but the consensus is that the Rays got a ton of talent in return, led by Chris Archer, the Cubs' most recent Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

More NFL Coaching: Jeff Fisher gets another year with the Titans. Bud Adams was obviously not ready to rebuild yet, despite the need for a new franchise QB -- and how that typically goes hand-in-hand with a new coach to help pick him.

CBB Today: UConn at Texas in a Sweet 16-quality match-up. Performance to be filed away for use in March.


Friday, January 07, 2011

1/07 Quickie: Wild Card, Luck, Harbaugh

One more time: My new company Quickish is launching Monday. readers will get a special message. To keep up, please "like" the Facebook page and/or follow the Twitter feed. Huge thanks in advance for your support. I really hope you'll like it. Wow, is it going to be a crazy weekend....

Of course, it's NFL Wild Card Weekend, intriguing at the macro level because the road teams all seem like presumptive favorites. Here's what I like about the individual match-ups:

Saturday, 4:15 ET: Saints at Seahawks. The defending Super Bowl champs versus the first sub-.500 playoff team. The Saints have no running game; the Seahawks are terrible, but will enjoy the home-field vibe. Pick: Saints, barely.

Saturday, 8 ET: Jets at Colts. Rematch of last year's AFC championship game. The Jets have skidded to the finish; the Colts didn't look good against the Titans last week (and nearly lost). Pick: Jets, with an extra dose of Peytonfreude.

Sunday, 1 ET: Ravens at Chiefs. It's really hard to buy these worst-to-first teams in their first playoff games, even if they play at home. I'm long the Ravens' experience. Pick: Ravens.

Sunday, 4 ET: Packers at Eagles. The marquee game of the weekend, featuring the preseason favorite to win the NFC against the most enthralling player of the season. I'd love to see the Eagles win the NFC. Historically, I am a sucker for the Eagles to win the NFC. I'm going the other way this year -- congrats, Eagles fans. Pick: Packers.

The NFL's new overtime rules: Rest assured, something will happen that will make everyone freak out.

Andrew Luck staying in college: I love this, if only because I think Luck is one of the best college QBs I've ever seen, and I really want to see him at the height of his ability next season -- as if he wasn't this season, too. (And, yes, I do think that Luck is better than the two previous star Stanford QBs, but if you want to be technical about it, we can wait until Luck wins the Heisman next season -- and leads Stanford to an appearance in the national-title game.)

Don't worry, Panthers fans: You'll probably have the No. 1 overall pick next year, too. You'll get Luck eventually.

(BTW: I tweeted this out yesterday, but if your team was a lock to not make the playoffs next year and was woefully inadequate at QB, would you trade an 0-16 tank season for 10 seasons of Luck? I would, in a second. You could say real fans don't ever root for their team to lose, but how about real fans want what's best for their team to position themselves for a title at some point?)

Jim Harbaugh Watch: With Luck coming back, I would go back to Stanford and ask for a big raise, with no promises beyond next year. The NFL jobs will be there next year, too -- probably even more emphatically after he takes Stanford to the national-title game. Sounds like it's down to staying or moving down the street to the 49ers. I'd stay.

More players turning pro: Mark Ingram. Despite the way he gashed Florida in the 2009 SEC championship game, I think he was overrated -- let's be honest: He wasn't even the most talented RB on his own team (as you'll see when Trent Richardson goes wild next season as the featured RB). In the NFL, he'll have a place, but does anyone see him as a 1,000-yard-a-season-for-5-seasons RB? The "shared-RB" revolution of the past few seasons actually favors him.

Great Read:'s Amy K. Nelson on Galarraga-Joyce, six months later.

OK: Diving back into product development. More later. Blogging all weekend. Trying for a game-changer on Monday.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Home for A.M. Post

Just a heads-up on some news (or "news"): The signature morning "Quickie" column/post published here every morning will have a new home, starting Monday: On

(That publisher of Quickish is a convincing -- and might I say handsome -- person. Oh, and me. Yes, there's that.)

I can think of no piece of original programming more relevant to anchor a new site built on quick-hit content than the morning column I've been filing every day since... well, since this day a few years ago.

I'm really excited about the new spot -- for obvious reasons, and I hope you will check it out over there -- staying for some of the other stuff that will be going on. (Much like the Sporting News era, I will promote it here and link to the full version over there.)

The content itself should stay mostly the same -- but if there's anything new you want to see, please let me know.

And I will still do posts here on random things that seem interesting -- I might even get back to posting even more than usual.

Really looking forward to Monday.

-- D.S.

01/06: VY, HOF, RichRod, 49ers

My new company, Quickish, launches Monday. Very exciting. Keep up through the Facebook page and Twitter feed (and here, of course). Related post coming later today.

Vince Young is out in Tennessee: It was a disappointing career with the Titans, despite the fact that VY's drafting was celebrated, he won Rookie of the Year and he had that surging second half in the 2010 season (which almost certainly benefited from being in a backfield with the best player in the NFL, Chris Johnson, keeping defenses honest).

In between was erratic play and even more erratic behavior. Both the team and the player need a fresh start -- as ever, Young needs a coach willing to take advantage of his unique skills. Jeff Fisher wanted him to be Kerry Collins or Billy Volek.

Blyleven and Alomar make Baseball Hall: Two worthy choices. It's a shame the voters didn't take more -- Raines, Bagwell, Larkin, Trammell.

The news is about the so-called "Steroid Era" players: McGwire's support went down. Palmeiro's was nearly non-existent. The consensus is that this doesn't bode well for players like Bonds and Clemens and... well, like all of them.

If I had to bet, I would say all of the clearly worthy (McGwire, Bonds, Clemens) will eventually get in, but it will take 10 years and the inclusion of many many more voters who are less comfortable with the moral (and physical) arbitration.

Michigan fires Rich Rodriguez: This was always "when," not "if" -- going back to RichRod's first week as head coach, let alone that first season of foreshadowing.

So what next? Jim Harbaugh isn't an option. They really should make a play for LSU's Les Miles, but I suspect they will end up with former assistant Brady Hoke. And fans won't be happy.

Ironically, I think RichRod will do just fine. He will end up at a program with lower expectations -- or merely a lower profile -- and build up a winner. How about Clemson in 2012?

Jim Harbaugh: To the 49ers? He met with them for 5 hours yesterday, but what if the Dolphins are ready to break the bank for him? Should he take the money, even if it isn't the gig he wants?

(Apparently, the 49ers understand that their chances of getting Harbaugh are iffy -- they interviewed Raiders OC Hue Jackson, who will likely get an offer to be HC in Oakland, and apparently they now like Josh McDaniels, coming off a rough rookie stint in Denver.)

NBA: Rajon Rondo goes nuts, with a triple-double -- 12 points, 10 rebounds and 22 assists. Feels like Rondo should be the starting PG for the East in the All-Star Game.

(BTW: I didn't talk about the Slam Dunk contest yesterday, but I kind of like the "Big Men" theme this year. They all need to go heavy on the theatrics.)

Meaningful anniversary today. Anyone remember? (I only bring it up every year....)

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

01/05 Quickie: Ohio St, Jobs, HOF

Reminder: My new company, Quickish, launches publicly this coming Monday. Stay updated by liking the Facebook page and/or following the Twitter feed.

Ohio State gets off the SEChnied: Though they did their best to give the game away at the end, the Buckeyes beat Arkansas to win the Sugar Bowl -- but, more importantly, Ohio State finally beat an SEC team in a bowl game for the first time in a couple decades.

What next for Terrelle Pryor? I'm no OSU fan, but that was a pretty powerful scene in the game's immediate conclusion, with Terrelle Pryor limping on an injured ankle and in obvious pain. Was it his final game for Ohio State (no matter what he or Jim Tressel say)?

Even more than the suspension, the ankle injury should remind him that he is one really bad injury away from seriously undermining his contentious NFL draft potential. If his mobility is such a big part of his ability, then ankle (or knee) injuries are no joke.

But really: Despite all those wince-inducing drops, Arkansas should have won the game by running back that final Ohio State punt, rather than falling on it -- one more piece of chokey execution failure by the Hogs.

Jim Harbaugh: No decision yet. But all the scuttlebutt has him ending up with the 49ers, with a power/control set-up to his liking. The Dolphins are also rumored to be making a push. All power equal, which team would you rather coach?

I'd say San Francisco for Harbaugh, because he obviously loves the Bay Area -- and because he has a better chance of succeeding in the NFC West than in the AFC East.

(Alas, either means he won't be able to draft Luck, but there will be plenty of potential franchise QBs in the mix when SF or Miami picks.)

I buy the rationale that now matter how he does in the NFL, he can always return to college, basically at the job of his choice, and command one of the Top 5 salaries in college football.

Speaking of Andrew Luck: Apparently the Panthers would take Luck with the No. 1 overall pick if he was in the draft. (This is news? Of course they would! Almost any team in the bottom half of the NFL would, too. Even if you have a solid incumbent QB, you don't pass on the biggest QB talent since Peyton Manning.)

Rich Rod: Out! No... not out! (Yet!) Here's the thing: Rodriguez may yet have been able to save his job by begging (or whatever would convince AD David Brandon to keep him around), but the reality is that RichRod will eventually get fired.

(So is it possible that Brandon keeps RichRod around for another season for lack of a better alternative right now? Harbaugh doesn't want the job. Brady Hoke is uninspiring. Next season may allow for a new "hot" coach to emerge.)

NFL Coaching Carousel: Tom Cable out in Oakland, but the coaching staff's impact on the Raiders' improvement this season will not go unrewarded -- apparently, OC Hue Jackson will get a promotion to HC. Meanwhile, Marvin Lewis will be back in Cincinnati.

NBA: Last night's Knicks win over the Spurs might be New York's new signature win of the season.

Mark Cuban on Phil Jackson: "I love that Jeanie Buss' boy toy had something to say about us. I don't know if it was his thought or Jeanie's thought, but it's nice to know that she lets him speak in public about other teams." (Cuban on Jackson on Caron Butler's season-ending injury.)

OJ Mayo vs. Tony Allen: When you let competitive NBA players gamble for money on team planes, fights are going to happen. Haven't we seen this before, over and over? (I'm not against it; I'm just saying it is a natural outcome that everyone should expect.)

MLB: Dan Uggla gets a 5Y/$62M extension, which was presumed the minute he was traded to Atlanta.

CBB: Notre Dame over UConn? Maybe the Irish are for real this year after all.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Today is the big reveal of the 2011 class. Roberto Alomar is presumed to be a lock. Bert Blyleven will likely get in after more than a decade of being on the ballot.

There are a bunch of other players who DESERVE to get in -- Tim Raines and first-timer Jeff Bagwell among the more contentious -- but won't. Get some background on why this year creates a new era in HOF voting in this must-read piece from Jayson Stark.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

1/04: Stanford, Luck, Sugar, Favre

Today's Names to Know: Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck, Terrelle Pryor, Brett Favre, Eric Mangini, Jeff Fisher, Carlos Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, LeBron, St. John's, Snooki and More.

Stanford rolls in Orange Bowl: There's not much more that the program, coach Jim Harbaugh or star Andrew Luck could have done to showcase the elite level that the program reached this season. It was a clinic of Stanford-Harbaugh-Luck-ness.

At this point, if there was a national college football playoff tournament, I think Stanford would be a popular pick to win the championship -- I think it's a good bet that on a neutral field, Stanford would beat Oregon (Stanford lost at Oregon after their only bad half of the season.)

Luck is very very good. I think it goes without saying that he is the best player in Stanford history. I'm more interested to figure out where he ranks among all Pac-10 players ever. Let's just stick with QBs: I'd take Luck over either Matt Leinart or Carson Palmer -- and over Troy Aikman, if you want to go back that far.

So what next? If Harbaugh and Luck went back to Stanford next year, I think Stanford would deserve to be preseason No. 1 and Luck would be a lock for the Heisman.

But I can't see Harbaugh staying: His stock is too high and the money that he will be offered will be too much (although I don't see why Stanford can't match any dollar figure, up to and including Saban-level money).

I know most people think he's going to end up at Michigan -- and I understand why he would like to be a college coach more than an NFL coach -- but old-school loyalties aside, Michigan is not as good of a job as Stanford, now and if Harbaugh chose to stay there.

But I think he will end up in the NFL. The 49ers covet him, as does Denver -- now run by Stanford alum John Elway, whose cutaway TV shots from the Stanford sidelines were conspicuous.

Here's a hypothetical: Harbaugh tells Elway he will come to Denver, but only if the Broncos flip-flop from the No. 2 draft slot with the Panthers to get Andrew Luck.

Alternatively, Luck could "pull an Elway" and tell the Panthers he'd rather sit out the season than sign with them, effectively forcing a trade down to Denver.

It would be even more intriguing if the Panthers said: OK, we'll trade with you. But we want Tebow. If the Broncos were going to ride with Luck anyway, trading Tebow is a necessity.)

Then again, I flip-flop: Harbaugh is so good as a college coach. He might very well be one of those successful college coaches who can successfully transition to the NFL, but I think all the rah-rah intensity works much better within college programs.

So we're right back to Harbaugh going to Michigan vs. staying at Stanford.

To me, the ideal scenario is that Harbaugh and Luck both stay at Stanford for another year and take their shot at a national title. Harbaugh will be an even BIGGER draw for NFL teams and Luck won't lose his spot as the No. 1 player in the draft.


Bowling Tonight: Ohio State-Arkansas in the Sugar, in the Big Ten's last chance to avoid utter humiliation (rather than just mere humiliation). All eyes on the OSU 5 -- including Terrelle Pryor -- who are playing their last game until next October... or ever for OSU.


Brett Favre and Jets sued for sexual harrassment: Based on the findings of the NFL's investigation -- with or without Favre's help -- Favre and the team would seem to be in some trouble, because you can totally buy the claims, given the Sterger background.

NFL Coaching Carousel: Eric Mangini is out in Cleveland, and while Mike Holmgren might WANT to coach the team, I don't think he will. (If I was the owner, I wouldn't want him to. I'm not a fan of your head coach also running your team as its top exec.)

But Gary Kubiak is safe in Houston. And Jack Del Rio is safe in Jacksonville. The only coach still hanging out there is Tennessee's Jeff Fisher. Meanwhile, on the hiring front, all eyes are on Jim Harbaugh, with the dominoes (John Fox?) likely falling depending on what he does.


MLB Hot Stove: Carlos Gonzalez getting 7Y/$80M extension from the Rockies? He certainly seems like a "foundation"-ish player that can join Troy Tulowitzki as the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade. But what if last season was the best he'll do? Always a risk, I guess.

HOF announcement coming tomorrow: Qualitative evidence suggests that Jeff Bagwell will fall short (crime), Tim Raines will gain but also fall short (crime) and Bert Blyleven will finally make it (justice). I'm ambivalent about Jack Morris, except to the extent that I buy the "You can't vote for Morris without voting for Blyleven" argument.


NBA: LeBron and D-Wade were named NBA co-players of the month in December, which seems fitting -- it's only a matter of time before someone makes the case that they should be league co-MVPs in June. Then the Heat rolled over the Bobcats, for yet another W.

CBB: St. John's had enjoyed a decent start under Steve Lavin, but there were those ugly non-conference losses. Well, those are now eclipsed by Lavin's signature win: Beating Georgetown. (Still not buying the Johnnies as a March threat in '11, but it's the right direction for the program.)


Media: And I'll consider it a personal failing that Snooki came out with her book (today) before I had a chance to publish my Tebow book. Oh well....

-- D.S.

Monday, January 03, 2011

1/03 Quickie: 7-9, Bowls, More

This is a big week: Quickish launches a week from today. Connect with it through Facebook and Twitter, because I'm going to have a bunch of pre-launch beta invites to give out.

7-9! As a fan of novelty and the superlative, I cannot be anything but delighted that the 7-9 Seahawks made the playoffs, becoming the first sub-.500 team to break the barrier. (And, for superlative fans, becoming arguably the worst NFL playoff team of all time.) Now watch them upend the defending champs next week.

The NFL playoff field overall is tantalizing, if only because so many folks think the road teams will dominate in next weekend's Wild Card round. Great: The more uncertainty the better.

Yikes: Sorry, Giants fans.

Black Monday: So which NFL coaches get fired today? Tom Coughlin's job is safe. Eric Mangini's won't be. Gary Kubiak could be axed in Houston and hired in Denver a few days from now. Jack Del Rio is, as always, a push.

CFB Bowling: Stanford vs. VA Tech in the Orange Bowl tonight. Stanford has awesome enough individual stories -- Jim Harbaugh, hottest football coach in the country (college or pro) and Andrew Luck, the presumptive No. 1 pick of whichever NFL Draft he chooses to enter -- to make the game a must-see.

TCU Hangover: Meanwhile, I'm trying desperately to find the hour in the next day or so to write up the moral case for AP Top 25 voters ranking TCU at No. 1, regardless of the outcome of the Auburn-Oregon game. I think the crux is: Your flimsy "ballot integrity" doesn't trump your mandate to promote the integrity of the sport.

Charlie Weis as Florida's Offensive Coordinator: Sorry, not a fan. I don't begrudge anyone putting their family first ahead of their career -- hell, that's how I want it to be -- but that doesn't mean I want the offensive coordinator of my elite college powerhouse to do it.

I want someone who is NOT interested in "work-life balance" or a "quality of life" move; I want someone who is willing to put everything aside for the job. That's how Urban Meyer did it, and it's what made him the best -- even if it ultimately burned him out.

Maryland hires UConn's Randy Edsall: Zzz....

Tim Tebow Watch: In 2 starts and 13 other assorted snaps, he accounted for 11 TDs. In the preseason, I pegged him for 7-10, and that was considered a Tebowphile's pipe dream. If he got the same 16 games started as Sam Bradford, he would have easily surpassed Bradford's 19 total TDs -- and made the choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year a lot more interesting. All in all, a pretty good rookie season.

NBA: L-ack!-ers? Uh, it's one thing for the Lakers to lose decisively to the Heat on Christmas Day. It's another thing for them to get blown out at home by the Grizzlies. Panic time.

MLB Hot Stove: Adrian Beltre to the Rangers? That makes a lineup with a fair amount of pop even more dangerous.

More later.

-- D.S.

Sponsored Post: Hail the Champ

Your weekly update on my travails in the Blogger Football League, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. For background, see this intro post.

Let the record show that had I made it to the league finals, I would have likely beaten the league champ Diana from National Football Post, who will now be headed to the Super Bowl to represent the league as its winner. (Then again, I surely would have triggered some other karmic justice that would have seen me lose the game.)

It was a really fun season -- if a bit too much of a roller-coaster ride for my tastes. I got the first overall pick of the league's draft, which I spent on Chris Johnson. That looked SO good at the time; it turned out to be a complete bust. My 2nd-round pick at the end of that round -- Tom Brady -- turned out to be my team MVP.

I started the season crushing the league, then went up and down with the fortunes of Johnson and the injury situation with my two Chargers, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates. A midseason pick-up of RB LeGarrette Blount -- Rookie of the Year! -- stabilized my running game and gave me back some momentum.

Ultimately, I simply couldn't top the combination of timing and talent that was Michael Vick in Week 15 against the Giants, a game that one half looked entirely in hand, then just an hour or so later was my league Waterloo.

What a terrific experience the league has been -- in a dozen years of playing fantasy football, I have never done as well in a league as I did in this one. It's a shame that I couldn't close the deal. Maybe in a future year.

Here is the final league recap from Jared of Midwest Sports Fans.

Check out P&G's Take It To The House page on Facebook. Be sure to look for the new contest where you predict the players who will have the top 5 rushing or receiving plays from scrimmage, and if you get them all, you win some insanely good prizes.

The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 online sports folks competing on the fantasy platform for the chance to win a donation for a local charity, furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in anyway.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Sunday (New Year's) Quickie

It's the final week of the regular season in the NFL, and the day games look to be so drama-free that it's nice to know the night game is a virtual playoff game. Worth watching, especially if the Seahawks become the first team ever to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record.

TCU rules: What an awesome team, with an awesome story and an awesome attitude about their situation -- willing to celebrate winning the Rose Bowl for its own sake, rather than freaking that they aren't going to get a chance to win a national title.

(That is, unless the AP voters do the right thing and give TCU their half of the national title. It is in the best interests of the sport for voters to nullify any individual feelings they have about the Auburn-Oregon winner and promote TCU as their champ. More on that later this week.)

Otherwise, the storyline was that the Big Ten got clobbered up and down: Wisconsin by TCU, Michigan State by Alabama, Michigan by Mississippi State and -- a bit less egregiously -- Penn State by Florida in Urban Meyer's last game at UF and Northwestern by Texas Tech.

Rich Rodriguez is almost certainly going to get fired from Michigan, leaving two questions: Who replaces him (Jim Harbaugh, if Harbaugh isn't swayed by the pitch to stay in the Bay Area and coach the 49ers) and where RichRod ends up (I'm rooting for Pitt, for the pathos -- wow, that coaching situation there is pretty awful, and it wouldn't surprise me if the AD was tossed out, too.)

NHL Winter Classic: As expected, so much cooler under the lights than during the day. The visuals were stunning -- and that's kind of the point of the NHL's biggest game of the regular season: A showcase for casual (and non-) fans to pique their interest. The Caps' retro jerseys took me back to my childhood of going to games at the old Cap Centre. Huge win for the Caps -- in the absence of a Stanley Cup title, arguably the biggest win the team has had in the Ovie Era.

The Heat's comeback from 20 down against the Warriors to get the win might be my favorite win of their season so far (to the extent I like ANY of their wins, which I really don't). But it shows an interest in Ws that inches them closer to actually being... well, if not likeable than at least respectable.

And that's it for Brett Favre's career. Maybe. Out not with a playoff run -- or even a final start -- but an "inactive" listing and a hazy lingering concussion. Say this: It's close to a no-bullets-left-in-the-gun situation, which is better than quitting after last year's NFC title game loss and lamenting that he had another season in him. (And, aside from the concussion, he probably could have gone these past two weeks.)

I'm quite sure he'll put out signals in July that he's interested in coming back for a team that will have him. Won't believe he's done until next season comes and goes without him playing -- and even then, it's unclear he wouldn't get into shape and try to come back in the fall of 2012. I'm totally serious. This is what Favre has done to us.

-- D.S.