Thursday, August 30, 2012

8/31 (Tailgate) Quickie

College football is back, thank god. Let's review: I think Alabama is going to thump Oregon in the national title game to claim its second straight championship.

Bama will get there by fending off LSU; Oregon will get there by beating USC in LA, then doubling down by beating them in the Pac-12 title game. (It is more than a little intriguing that Oregon could lose to USC in the regular season, then leapfrog them with a win in the Pac-12 title game.)

I enter my 12th season as a Florida football fan -- at some point, I won't be considered a worthless carpet-bagger, but undoubtedly this ain't going to be the year. Regardless, I predict the Gators will do better than last season's pathetic 7-6 but do worse than the 14-0 that I expect from the program every year. At this point, I just want to go through games without wanting to throw my remote through the TV, which is how I spent the past two seasons.

Season opener: South Carolina escapes Nashville with a close win over Vandy, a tougher team than most folks give credit for. Not feeling like South Carolina looks like a Top 10 team.

Tonight: Michigan State will beat Boise State tonight, but it'll be awfully close. I mean, it's Boise -- they live for these kinds of games, regardless of whether or not they lost all their talent from last year.

This weekend: Picking all favorites but hoping we get an upset -- or at least a close finish or two. (Check out my fancy "picks" page at

Andy Roddick retiring: He's got that one U.S. Open title and it's not like U.S. men's players have been particularly good over the past decade -- and don't forget that he played in the height of the Federer Era, when no titles were available except at Roland Garros -- but it always felt like Roddick never quite became what we all wanted him to be.

Notre Dame: I like SI's Mike Rosenberg and Yahoo's Pat Forde, but any column lauding Notre Dame's "values" that doesn't mention that ND head coach Brian Kelly contributed to the tragic death of team student manager Declan Sullivan is woefully incomplete. As far as I'm concerned, the way the school handled that situation -- from putting Sullivan up in the air to white-washing the "investigation" -- said everything we need to know about the school's values.

Best thing I read today: JR Moehringer's "120 reasons why football isn't going anywhere." Brilliant stuff.

Headed to the Nats-Cards game tonight, in the wake of the news that Sunday's Strasburg start is one of his final 3 of the season. This remains the stupidest thing I've seen a contending team do in a long time.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

08/30 (Day Late) Quickie

Day late on Happy Madden Day -- hope you enjoyed it.

Best thing I've read this month -- maybe this entire summer:'s Kevin Van Valkenburg on why people play football.

NFL vs. Refs, Cont'd: If -- no: WHEN -- the replacement NFL refs screw up in Week 1, the NFL is going to lose its position. Unclear why a few bucks is so important to the league, relative to the integrity of the game. (Yahoo's Jason Cole takes the opposite view, and it's certainly one folks might relate to more.)

MJD Watch: The Jags seem prepared to call his bluff. I could see him sitting out the entire season. It's probably better for his health in the long run.

US Open: Ah shoot, I was kind of hoping for a longer run out of Kim Clijsters.

CFB Picks Preview: Went with all ranked (or higher-ranked) teams. Michigan is going to get throttled by Alabama. Michigan State is going to barely escape Boise State.

I'm really enjoying the new site Sports On Earth, and that's not (just) because they're a corporate sibling to Quickish and staffed with tons of folks I know and like. It's off to a really good start -- check it out.

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

8/27 (Monday) Quickie

Check out my initial BlogPoll Top 25 ballot below, led by Alabama (picking Oregon to meet them in the national title game and picking West Virginia to surge through the Big 12).

Tebow vs. Panthers: You know, I'm clearly Team Tebow, but even if you don't like Tebow, does Mark Sanchez really look better? I don't think so. I think Tebow will be more productive in the half-dozen plays he'll get in the first few weeks of the season -- and when the Jets are out of playoff contention under Sanchez, Tebow will do just as well (and probably better) than Sanchez as the starter.

Seahawks name rookie Russell Wilson starting QB: A bit shocking given that Seattle acquired Matt Flynn to be their starting QB, but unsurprising if you had been following Wilson this preseason (or watched him in college at either NC State or Wisconsin). Yeah, he's short, but so what? So talented. Absurdly, he could have been had by any team with a QB issue (cough-Jets-cough).

Meanwhile, the Bills are getting Tarvaris Jackson from Seattle to be their backup QB: So there's that.

Colts trade for CB Vontae Davis: Another fun development for "Hard Knocks." The bet in Indy is that his attitude problem in Miami can be corrected with a change of scenery. We'll see.

CFB: Notre Dame suspends starting RB Cierre Wood for the season opener in Dublin next Saturday and Week 2 vs. Purdue -- this only works out for Brian Kelly if ND goes 2-0 without him and the other players suspended. If they lose that opener to Navy -- and they could -- yikes.

U.S. Open: Rooting for Serena and Federer, as usual. More likely to see the former win than the latter -- Djokovic will be motivated and a fan favorite in his own right.

LLWS: Now that was a throttling.

MLB: Curtis Granderson has 200 career home runs? That feels like a lot, doesn't it?

Initial BlogPoll Preseason Top 25

Take a look and let me know what you think. I'll revise the final version on Monday night after seeing your comments. A few points:

*As usual, I'm going with "how I think the season will end." I really don't think we'll get an Alabama-LSU rematch in the national title game -- I think Bama will run the table in the SEC en route to another national title, but there's no way the system creates a second straight "intra-conference rematch national title." (Although I do think that either Alabama or LSU would beat any other team in the country.) However: All it takes is an unbeaten team from another conference to give the system its ballast for SEC hegemony, and I think it will be...

*Oregon, who will get to play Alabama in the national title game, and fare much the same as it did against Auburn in the NCG two years ago (and against LSU at the start of last season). This pick implies that Oregon is going to go down to LA and beat USC in what will turn out to be a de facto national title semifinal playoff game. Beyond being impressed by Oregon's offense, I think they will have terrific motivation after USC ruined their season in Eugene last year.

*I think West Virginia is going to take the Big 12 by storm (and so will TCU, to a slightly lesser extent -- I think TCU stuns Oklahoma in the final week of the regular season, which is why I have TCU ahead of OU.)

*The rest of the poll is the usual mish-mash -- SEC dominance in the Top 10, a rough prediction of how I think each conference will end up by where I put each of its Top 25 teams relative to each other. Things can and will change immediately after next weekend, when I will revert to "resume" voting, with a premium on beating quality opponents.