Friday, January 13, 2012

1/13 (NFL Divisional) Quickie

I actually try pretty hard to limit my Tebow talk here to just the big national storylines that everyone is talking about (For more on Tebow, try

But what happens when the Tebow story overwhelms everything else? From that dumb "St. Elmo's Fire" remake ("Tim Tebow's Fire") to the "Most Popular Athlete" poll to the talk about the "3:16" coincidences in the game to same-old stories about the Tebow story -- as if fans (even non-fans) don't already know all about him. And yet... people can't get enough.

I'm entirely ready to focus on tomorrow's game, and I'm left feeling pretty similar to last week: A win, of course, would be great. But Tebow's validation as an NFL player was in leading the Broncos (projected to 3 or 4 wins this season) to the playoffs. Last week's win was obviously a bonus -- it is Tebow's new legacy, from the great stats to the crystallizing final play ("The Pass") to the record-shattering TV audience numbers.

If the Broncos lose tomorrow, it doesn't mean anything about Tim Tebow. It doesn't mean he sucks, it doesn't mean he isn't an NFL QB and it doesn't take away from what happened last week and all season -- it means the Broncos lost on the road to the bye-week-rested No. 1 seed in the AFC. Yeah, losing under those conditions would be humiliating. Come on.

Here's what last week did for me -- and, without projecting too much, probably did for a lot of fans: It made me believe that the Broncos can beat the Patriots. That's not saying they will -- I'm just saying I believe it can happen, even more than I believed the Broncos had a puncher's chance at beating the Steelers.

Belief is a powerful thing. It is a huge part of what has driven the Broncos -- and the Tebow phenomenon -- all season long. The story of Tebow throughout his young NFL career comes down to disbelief ("Tim Tebow can't...") and belief, with the result largely trending toward: "I cannot believe that just happened."

If it ends tomorrow night, it doesn't take away from last week's career-defining win. It doesn't take away from a magic ride this season. It doesn't erode Tebow's position as the incumbent should-be-starting QB of the Broncos next season.

Maybe -- just maybe -- it means a little less Tebow hysteria, which has nothing to do with Tebow himself and everything to do with everyone else. Tebow's biggest fans and his biggest haters can all agree that's a welcome finish.


*NFL Picks: 49ers over Saints... Packers over Giants... Ravens over Texans.

*Dwight Howard: 39 free throw attempts last night, an NBA record. He also had 40+ points and 20+ rebounds in a win over Golden State. He only made half of the FTs, There's some pretty good analysis that the number of free throw attempts correlates to winning much more closely than free throw percentage.

*NFL Draft: A few of Alabama's junior stars are going pro early, including Trent Richardson -- who has impressed me more than any RB in the NFL since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is going to do extremely well in the NFL (although he will end up on a team with a worse offensive line -- relative to competition -- than he had at Alabama).

*The NCAA president can get behind a 4-team playoff: That's fine. It's an improvement on the current system. But let's please not suggest that picking a 4-team group will be any less contentious than picking a 2-team pairing. In fact, I predict it will be a LOT more contentious. (For example, let's say that picking LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State would have been relatively easy this season for a 4-team field. Who is the fourth? Stanford? Why? They lost to Oregon -- decisively, actually -- and Oregon won the conference title. Why isn't Arkansas in the mix -- is it unreasonable that three teams from one league take four spots, particularly from a league like the SEC? I'm pretty sure that the reason pro-playoff folks like the move to a 4-team playoff is that the resulting controversies will amp pressure to increase it to 8.)

Enjoy your weekend -- it is arguably the best NFL weekend of the season.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

01/11 (Into the Tunnel) Quickie

Thanks to everyone for the response to Quickish's 1-year anniversary yesterday. Much appreciated.

The end of the college football season is one of those moments where a lot of fans finally pay a lot more attention to college hoops for the two-month sprint until Selection Sunday. If that was you last night, then you got a whopper of a game with Illinois' upset win over Ohio State. Name to Know: Brandon Paul!

(Meanwhile, Baylor stayed unbeaten with a gutsy win at Kansas State -- the Bears seem so for real, but could easily be that classic 1- or 2- seed who doesn't make it out of the first weekend of the Tournament.)

NFL: It's not that Tim Tebow is bigger than the NFL, but Tim Tebow is easily the biggest star in the NFL, and it's not even close. Sunday's Wild Card game against the Steelers was the most-watched Wild Card game in a few generations, the second-most-watched show since last year's Super Bowl and basically blew the doors off the standard (high) interest in the NFL Playoffs.

Wow: The Jets players really kind of hate Mark Sanchez, don't they?

NFL Draft: Robert Griffin III is going pro. He will be the No. 2 pick of the draft, behind Andrew Luck. I don't think the Rams will take him -- I think they will open that pick up to the highest bidder, and one of the QB-starved teams behind them will pay a ransom to get him.

(The Colts are going to hire away the Eagles' player personnel director as their GM -- how instrumental was that guy in pulling together the debacle of a "dream team" during last year's free agency? Admittedly, the Eagles have drafted well. BTW: How hard is it to say "We're taking Andrew Luck and cutting Peyton Manning?" I guess they want the outside person to come in, because he'll have the lack of a connection to Manning necessary to make that obvious call.)

NFL Jobs: Jaguars hire Mike Mularkey. (Zzz... another re-tread.) Raiders fire Hue Jackson (who never really had a chance, did he?)

NBA: Hard to know what is the biggest story -- Kobe scoring 48... the Heat choking away a 17-point lead in Oakland to the Warriors... or the Wizards finally winning their first game.

Best Thing I Read Yesterday: SBNation's Spencer Hall on the end of the college football season.

Best Thing You'll Read Today: SI's Thomas Lake on the search for Michael Jordan's high school coach, the one who -- according to Jordan mythology -- "cut him from the varsity."

Pop by Quickish to keep up with all the best takes on the biggest stories.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Final 2011 BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot: Bama

Alabama is No. 1. LSU is No. 2. Oklahoma State is No. 3. You know I'm an SEC exceptionalist, but I really liked the trio at the top of the Pac-12 and the TCU-Boise pairing (TCU earning the edge for its head-to-head win).

01/10 (Alabama) Quickie

"They are a hateful bunch." That is Nick Saban describing his defense. What an appropriately colorful way to put it, after Bama's D shut out LSU to power the Tide to another national title.

It is an undisputed result from a highly disputable process. These were the two best teams -- Oklahoma State fans might weakly protest, but down deep they know that their Cowboys would be decimated by either of these defenses -- and if LSU's win in early November gave them a slight nudge (particularly for winning in Tuscaloosa), Alabama's win in the rematch was decisive.

Sometimes, teams are what we think they are. In the same way that this title-game rendered the first match-up basically moot, the fact that most people had Alabama tabbed as the No. 1 team in August proves that for all its eccentricities, college football is pretty simple: Bama's combination of arguably the best defense we've had in a decade and a punishingly simple offense made them an easy pick to win the title before a game had been played -- and after all of them had been played.

We are bordering on a dynasty here -- Florida's national titles in '06 and '08 were just as impressive, but could be bracketed under the "Tebow dynasty." Alabama's titles in '09 and '11 came with different QBs, different lead RBs, different WRs and TEs and a largely reloaded defense (one which nearly carried the team to a national title last year, too).

Saban's "hateful bunch" -- and seeing them in person at The Swamp earlier this fall, when they just ripped the soul out of the Gators (...again), that moniker is totally appropriate -- is the best program in college football, and right now it's hard to imagine another team that can knock them off.


*Early prediction for the 2012 college football season: The regular-season winner of Alabama-LSU will win the national title (regular season: this time we really mean it!), but expect someone from the second tier of USC, Oregon, Oklahoma and West Virginia -- at least two of which will be unbeaten -- to claim the No. 2 spot in the title game.

*Baseball Hall of Fame: It's Barry Larkin -- entirely deserving -- and that's it, which is a shame. Folks can debate about someone like Jack Morris or Alan Trammell (whose profile is not so different from Larkin's) and there is certainly a philosophical debate about admitted PED users like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro -- both entirely Hall-worthy on the numbers alone -- but it is mystifying that Jeff Bagwell remains on the outside. With loaded classes coming up next year and beyond, it's hard to know what will happen with the holdovers.

*NFL Jobs: Congrats to Romeo Crennel for earning the Chiefs' head-coaching gig on a full-time basis. His firing in a few years is an inevitability.

*One year ago today, I launched Quickish. Since then, it has been a non-stop roller-coaster -- 30-word blurbs and 90-second video clips at a time. Sincerest thanks for your continued support. Now: Go visit Quickish -- and tell 10 friends, while you're at it.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 09, 2012

01/09 (Tebow) Quickie

You all know how I feel about Tim Tebow and even I didn't see that one coming.

Here's what I do know, and this goes to the heart of the Tebow phenomenon: Every time you think that Tebowmania can't get any more intense, insane or improbable... it does.

I had been arguing all week that Tebow didn't need to win yesterday's game to validate his season or his NFL career -- simply helping the Broncos get to the playoffs was more than enough.

And yet after yesterday's game -- Tebow's finest as a pro and, given the context, one of the greatest performances by any player in NFL playoff history -- Tebow has a new defining moment.

Not just in the NFL, but for his entire career.

Even the haters had to admit Tebow pulled off something special -- at minimum, they were speechless.

Oh, the Steelers might have misjudged their strategy -- but isn't that part of the strategic advantage you get with Tebow?

This is football's version of "rope-a-dope," with two opponents: The first was the Steelers, lulled into thinking that Tebow can't possibly pass, that the Broncos would rely even more heavily on the run, that his receivers can't make plays. The second was Tebow-haters, who pummeled Tebow for three weeks, only to find themselves winded and, ultimately, KO'ed when Tebow pulled off his greatest feat yet.

I will resume last week's expectations-setting: There is no shame in Tebow and the Broncos losing next Saturday to the Patriots at Foxboro. New England is the No. 1 seed in the AFC, playing at home, coming off a bye week, with the smartest coach and winningest QB. But no one can take away yesterday's win from Tebow, the Broncos and fans.


*More NFL Playoffs: ...And yet people still put down Tebow and hold up Matt Ryan as an example of a "prototype" NFL QB.

*CFB: BCS Title Game! I'm picking Alabama to beat LSU, because all things being roughly equal, it's more motivating to seek revenge than to seek repetition. If Alabama wins, they should get the No. 1 ranking, and LSU should finish No. 2. None of this "split title" stuff.

*Baseball Hall of Fame: I feel strongly that Jeff Bagwell deserves to be in, but even more strongly that any voter keeping him out from unfounded suspicions of PED usage should be banned from being a Hall of Fame voter. Others I would have voted in: Larkin, Raines, Mark McGwire, Edgar Martinez. Very good chance that Larkin is the only player admitted today.

*Varsity Dad, Part 1: I took Gabe to the Wizards debacle yesterday. I will say this: The Wizards' best fan is a five-year-old, because he was paying less attention to what was going on on the court than he was to his cotton candy, the Wizards Girls, the Kiss-Cam, the Chipotle blimp, etc. Meanwhile, my Wizards are the worst team I have ever seen on an NBA court.

*Varsity Dad, Part 2: First practice for my team of 5-year-old basketball players. The other team sharing the court with us was the Kobra Kai of Kindergarten basketball. They were so organized as to be kind of scary.

Stick with Quickish all day for Tebow reactions, Baseball Hall reactions, BCS title game lead-up and more.

-- D.S.