Friday, December 02, 2011

12/02 (CFB Finales) Quickie

It's the end of the college football regular season -- for many, it came last week. But tomorrow is the last day of the old "sit in front of the TV from 10 a.m. until midnight" Saturday routine. As always, I'll miss it.

LSU is going to demolish Georgia. The Tigers' place in the national title game is secure. The only curiosity -- at least as it relates to the BCS -- is if Oklahoma State can beat Oklahoma so viciously and so publicly that voters leapfrog an OSU team that lost to a barely bowl-eligible Iowa State team ahead of an Alabama team that lost in overtime to the No. 1 team in the country without giving up a touchdown.

Beyond that, there is the novelty of crowning the first-ever Big Ten and Pac-12 conference title game champs. There is the fun of watching Houston's Case Keenum one last time. And there is the absolute must-see Robert Griffin III trying to lead Baylor past Texas, capping a wonderful year for a player soaring up Heisman (and NFL Draft) boards.

This was a mediocre college football season for my team, but I'll still miss it.


*NFL Last Night: The Eagles are the biggest joke of the past decade in the NFL. God, remember all the breathless preseason talk about them in August? (I was part of it.) They are an embarrassment -- and it's actually so much more fun to watch than if they were good.

*NFL This Weekend: Tim Tebow at Minnesota, looking for his 6th win in a row against a team without its best player... Must-win for the Bears at home against the Chiefs... The Pats-Colts game is going to be hilarious... Huge potential for the Falcons to get a big win in Houston playing against a Texans team just trying to limp across the playoff finish line... Game of the Week: Bengals at Steelers. Don't give much of a shot to Cincy, but you never know.

*NBA: Chris Paul is trying to be Mr. Nice Guy by not admitting he wants out of NOLA for NYC. The Hornets need to trade him ASAP, and the best plan I've seen is from's Matt Moore, who lays out the case for the Magic to mortgage the farm for CP3 and make a run at a title right now, hoping Dwight Howard and Paul want to stay together in Orlando, but realizing that the reality is that both would probably bolt. But flags fly forever. Don't discount that.

*CBB: Damn, Kentucky looked good last night. This UNC-Kentucky game tomorrow is going to be spectacular. (Want a good appetizer? Try Florida at Syracuse tonight. For my money, you can keep all the players on UK and UNC -- the player with the most NBA upside is Florida's freshman guard Bradley Beal.)

*MLB Hot Stove: The Marlins are obviously trying to make a splash. Giving Jose Reyes a big contract (presuming they can manage Hanley Ramirez) is a big one. Giving Heath Bell a big contract is a dumb one. Fantasy is just like reality: Saves are overvalued.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

12/01 (Thursday) Quickie

A few things on the agenda today:

Is UNC "back?" Regardless of whether they play in Chapel Hill or on the road, I think Wisconsin is as Tourney-tough of a match-up as UNC will see this year, including Duke (next year) or Kentucky (Saturday). An interesting win for the Heels.

: The Magic can try to trade Dwight Howard to whoever they want, but I'm with the folks who think that if D12 wants to be in LA with the Lakers, he'll be in LA with the Lakers. For me, the most intriguing idea is that the Clippers could offer up a hell of a good package to the Magic, and Dwight could get to LA and carve out his own legacy, long after Kobe has retired.

LeBron vs. Durant Flag Football game
: I wonder how an athlete who thrives on his authenticity -- like Durant -- felt about being part of something as contrived as a LeBron spectacle, which included no fans allowed, closing out the media, full pads and other overly precious LeBron-ish things.

MLB Hot Stove: As a new DC transplant -- and adopted (perhaps prodigal) Nats fan -- I can't help thinking that if the team didn't put all that money into Jayson Werth last December, they would have their pick between Fielder and Pujols right now. Plus Cespedes. Plus Oswalt or Buehrle. I actually find myself liking this team a lot.

Correction/Corrected: Eagle-eyed reader Tom emailed me to point out that not a week ago, I was saying "UNC and Duke are clearly the Top 2 teams in the country," then after Duke got throttled at Ohio State, I said Duke was clearly not a Final Four team. Yikes. Instant history strikes again! What I should have said was something closer to: "Setting aside the travel and the site, this was much closer to the profile of a team that typically gives Duke fits in the Tournament, which should give folks backing the Blue Devils -- like me just a week ago -- pause before taking Duke too far in March." As always, I am happier to be proven wrong than I am to be right.

Media navel-gazing: Congrats to SB Nation on two more fantastic hires -- Bomani Jones and Matt Ufford, two great talents (and folks I have been friends with for years). Expect them both to contribute heavily to SB Nation's new (and extremely promising) video network, in partnership with YouTube.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11/30 (Best Books) Quickie

Just published the Quickish list of the Best Books of 2011. Always a fun list to put together.

CBB: I'm torn between presuming Ohio State will choke before it reaches the Final Four and giving them credit for taking last season's humiliation and using it to drive them to the final weekend. (Duke? That's easy: No Final Four.)

MLB: Bobby Valentine to the Red Sox. It's hard not to like it, because you know he'll keep things interesting -- and even the more statistically minded seem to think he will make a fine choice, if only because he won't succumb to the pressure to bat Crawford 1st.

Syracuse: Jim Boeheim clearly isn't going to get fired or pressured into retiring immediately (although we'll see what happens after the season), but it is also clear that his reputation is permanently stained for his association with Fine, plus his continued tone-deafness after the fact.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 28, 2011

11/28 (Urban Meyer) Quickie

We'll get to the NFL, but first, a quick thought on Urban Meyer:

I'm an unabashed Meyer fan. I can hate Ohio State and like (if not root) for Meyer, not unlike I can hate the Patriots and like (if not root) for Bill Belichick.

As a Florida fan, I have no problem with him leaving a year ago for "health problems," only to turn around and take the Ohio State job not a year later. I can't begrudge him.

I think he will win big, if only because: it's a huge program with tons of resources; it's a huge recruiting base; and the Big Ten is dramatically easier than the SEC.

Here is what I see for Meyer: He will win Big Ten title after Big Ten title. He will not be able to beat the SEC's best, should he get the Buckeyes into the national title game.

In the end, that's the sneaky arbitrage for Meyer: Gaming a BCS system that would rank an unbeaten Ohio State ahead of a one-loss SEC champ -- ahead of everyone, really.

I'm not sure Meyer will be able to ever put together a collection of talent (and coaching) like he had with his 2008 national champs in Florida. The brawn of Bama or LSU will still stymie him.

But Ohio State merely needs him to be great, not legendary. And do it in the milder Big Ten, not the off-the-charts competitive SEC.


*Tim Tebow: Not sure when the haters and snickering masses will finally ease up. If the Broncos didn't win another game this season, Tebow still outperforms the expectations by about 200%. Now: What if they go 4-1 down the stretch (which will include a thrashing on Sunday Night Football against the Patriots) and make the playoffs? That's my own expectation for him/them.

*Stevie Johnson: The TD celebration was in poor taste -- I'm not sure it commands a hailstorm of criticism. (Conduct penalty or not, if the kicker doesn't shank the subsequent kickoff, the harm of his celebration is neutered.) Frankly, I'm more offended that he dropped the easy would-be game-saving TD late in the game. If he's apologizing, it should be for that.

*Playoff Watch: The Texans are in a good enough position to make the playoffs without a QB -- they'll get drummed out in the first weekend. But that's OK: First of all, making the playoffs at all is a huge deal for the team. Second, no one expects them to get out of the Wild Card Weekend anyway. (The Bears, meanwhile, might run out of gas just short of the playoffs. I'm not as down on Caleb Hanie as some -- I think he can get them there. But once in the playoffs, they're cooked.)

-- D.S.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Week's BlogPoll Top 25

LSU, Alabama, then the rest. I'm not much of a fan of a four-team "plus-one" playoff -- try figuring out which four teams are worthy of joining LSU and Bama this year -- but I would love to see an 8- or even 12-team playoff this year (although I don't think anyone besides Alabama could beat LSU).

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings Ballot - Week 14

Rank Team Delta
1 LSU Tigers --
2 Alabama Crimson Tide --
3 Houston Cougars Arrow_up 1
4 Oklahoma St. Cowboys Arrow_up 4
5 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_up 1
6 Boise St. Broncos Arrow_up 1
7 Georgia Bulldogs Arrow_down -2
8 Arkansas Razorbacks Arrow_down -5
9 USC Trojans Arrow_up 1
10 Oklahoma Sooners --
11 Oregon Ducks --
12 Stanford Cardinal --
13 Virginia Tech Hokies Arrow_down -4
14 South Carolina Gamecocks Arrow_down -1
15 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_down -1
16 Michigan Wolverines --
17 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_up 2
18 Kansas St. Wildcats Arrow_down -3
19 Baylor Bears Arrow_down -1
20 Nebraska Cornhuskers Arrow_up 3
21 Clemson Tigers Arrow_down -4
22 West Virginia Mountaineers --
23 Southern Miss. Golden Eagles --
24 Texas Longhorns --
25 Cincinnati Bearcats --
Dropouts: Penn St. Nittany Lions, Auburn Tigers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Virginia Cavaliers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »

11/27 (Bama) Quickie

So here's the dilemma: If you think the national-title game should feature the top 2 teams in the country, your pick should be LSU vs. Alabama, regardless of other context.

If you loathe the idea of a "rematch" -- and I do -- then you would be forced to contrive some sort of cynical false workaround to wedge, say, Oklahoma State ahead of the Crimson Tide.

I think we have no choice but to favor the former -- it is the most intellectually honest.

Is it absurd that LSU has to play Georgia in Atlanta while Alabama gets a free pass to the national title game? Absolutely. But it beats the alternative of leaving one of the top 2 teams out of the NCG.

A few other notes:

*I edged Robert Griffin III past Andrew Luck on my Heisman ballot last week. This week, I push Trent Richardson past both of them. He's as good of a college RB as I've seen since Bo. (Now, is that him or his NFL-sized front line? We'll see next year when he is playing behind a woeful offensive line in the NFL.) Don't get me wrong: Luck is terrific and Griffin is a very close No. 2, for making Baylor relevant as the most spectacular talent in the game (and winning!)

*Congrats to Michigan -- it's been a long time coming. The arrival of Urban Meyer in Columbus is imminent, and while I love Urban, I look forward to rooting against him as part of tOSU.

*CBB: UNC loses in Vegas to UNLV. File that away for your bracket in March -- no team, no matter how invincible they look, is unbeatable when the right circumstances hit.

*NFL Sunday: Adjust your fantasy team and fire up the Red Zone Channel...

-- D.S.