Friday, November 23, 2012

11/23 (Awesome Friday) Quickie

RGIII for MVP. Not much more to say about that. What a performance on a Thanksgiving afternoon where everyone is either watching... or following/hearing about his second quarter via Twitter/Facebook during dinner and rushing to the TV for the second half, right after dinner. Ahem.

The Jets are awful: Whether Tebow had broken ribs that made him unplayable or not. That play where Sanchez ran into his center's butt, fumbled and the Pats returned it for a TD couldn't have been more symbolic of the Jets this season.

Texans edge Lions: I absolutely hate that rule where a coach who throws the challenge flag prematurely on an automatically reviewable play disqualifies that play from review.

TCU beats Texas: Let's be clear -- Texas is the third-best team in Texas this season, by a wide margin. Couldn't be higher on the long-term upside of the Horned Frogs (AND Texas A&M). Hell, both might start/end in the Top 5 next season. (Texas? Not so much.)

CFB Today: Some fun rivalry games, plus a less-than-merciful finish on Arkansas' Worst Year Ever, along with a coronation of Nebraska as the Leaders (Legends?) division champ in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State is one of the best rivalries in college football -- if only Wazzu was up to it this season.

College Hoops: Duke-VCU headlines some really great games today (7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). Another good one: Kansas State vs. Michigan from MSG at 4:30. And if you have a limitless appetite, try Creighton-Wisconsin at 10 p.m. on ESPN. Great challenge for Doug McDermott and Co.

You shopping today? If so, best of luck with the crowds.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

11/21 (Thankful) Quickie

Sorry to cut in: 138 points by Grinnell's Jack Taylor. Mind-boggling. Back to it....

A year doesn't go by when I'm not extraordinarily thankful for what I have -- this year particularly so:

*My happy, healthy baby daughter Lucy delivered by her amazing super-mom.

*Taking Quickish and joining the phenomenal team at USA TODAY Sports Media Group.

*Resuming my adjunct career in teaching down here in D.C. at Georgetown.

*Health, happiness and the growth of a network of people I care about.

As it relates to this blog, the biggest thanks goes to you for continuing to stick with me. Your interest is what keeps me going every morning, and I sincerely appreciate it.

Now, a few sports-related things I am thankful for from 2012:
*Tim Tebow's game-winning TD pass in the playoffs.
*The moment my Wizards drafted Bradley Beal.
*Florida football restoring my "win or fail" expectations.
*Florida basketball turning March into a thrill ride... again.
*The Nationals making me a die-hard baseball fan again.
*My two boys turning into crazy sports fans.

Here's to a great year ahead and a reminder to be thankful for everything you have.


*Grinnell's Jack Taylor and "138": It is baffling. Baffling that he would shoot that much. Baffling that his coach would encourage it. Baffling that he actually was pretty efficient. Baffling that little Grinnell could co-opt sports on a day where Indiana and Georgetown played a thrilling college hoops game, Notre Dame made the cover of SI and Mike D'Antoni made his debut for the Lakers.

*College Hoops: As I tweeted last night, the Indiana-Georgetown game was as good as you'll get for college basketball in November. The big takeaway: The Hoosiers aren't so great that it isn't obvious this season is as wide open as it has been in years. And Otto Porter (or possibly Jordan Hulls) -- and not Cody Zeller -- was the best player on the floor.

*Mike D'Antoni's debut: All that matters is what this team is doing in June. Here's hoping the Lakers are entertaining to watch in the 80-odd games until then, but they are a "bottom line" team this year.

*Rutgers joins the Big Ten: My friends at made this point yesterday, and it's spot-on: Rutgers should immediately market to Michigan alums in the NYC area, offering them guaranteed seats to the Rutgers-Michigan game in 2014 if they buy season tickets for 2013 right now.

*College Football: Matt Barkley's backup -- the one who will start for USC at QB against Notre Dame on Saturday -- predicts a Trojans upset. (What: Like you expected him to say "Nah, we're going to roll over.") Good for him. The more mind-games played with the Irish, the better chance USC has of actually fulfilling the upset potential.

If you aren't checking out the blog before the weekend, I think USC will beat Notre Dame on Saturday night, throwing the BCS situation into chaos, because Florida State is going to beat Florida in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon, opening the door for 1-loss Oregon to get back into the national-title game against the Alabama-Georgia winner (who are we kidding: Alabama).

Meanwhile, I think Michigan ruins Ohio State's unbeaten season in Columbus; TCU upsets Texas in Austin on Thanksgiving; and Oregon takes out its frustrations on Oregon State in the Civil War. It is a GREAT weekend of college football.

*More College Hoops: Was UNC overrated or Butler underrated? Both, obviously. But it is so easy to climb back on the Butler bandwagon. (Your tusch imprint on the seat is probably still there from 2011.) Meanwhile, what the hell happened to Villanova?

*Jobs: Cal fires Jeff Tedford. He'll hook on somewhere -- he could be a head coach for a third-tier BCS-conference team or bide his time as an offensive coordinator, perhaps even in the NFL. I was shocked to see Bruce Feldman say that Cal is one of two jobs that Boise State's Chris Petersen would consider -- between the dominance of Oregon and the establishment of Stanford and what Steve Sarkisian is building at Washington and the wild card of Mike Leach at Wazzu, the Pac-12 North is turning into a tough place to win consistently. (And that doesn't even count rising teams in the South like UCLA, USC and Arizona.)

*Stat of the Morning: The Knicks are 8-1 for the first time in 40 years? Wow.

Enjoy your day -- and Thanksgiving prep. Updates all (long) weekend.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11/20 (Bigger Ten) Quickie

Now, remember: I'm a Northwestern alum and I grew up very close to Maryland (including a strong rooting interest in Maryland hoops), so I appreciate all sides here.

But the reality is that it is a GREAT move for Maryland (and, arguably, even more for Rutgers), and -- yes -- it is entirely about the money.

Maryland athletics is in terrible shape financially. Joining the Big Ten and its ATM of a cable network will help immeasurably.

From the Big Ten's standpoint, expanding the footprint is mandatory in a "super-conference" world, and it is most ideal to do it in big markets like DC and NYC.

I have no patience for people griping "What about the tradition!?" Those people don't have to finance college athletics. You can lament the end of the Maryland-Duke rivalry while agreeing the move makes sense.

As many have suggested, it is likely the Big Ten isn't done yet. The ideal form isn't 14 -- it's 16. And UNC is the prime target for the league, unless the SEC wises up and nabs them first.

And once the Big Ten is up to 15 -- and presuming the ACC loses a standard-bearer like Florida State to a less-desperate league like the Big 12 -- ACC newcomer Notre Dame may re-think its opposition to joining the B1G.

And if ND isn't interested, I could see the Big Ten going for UVA (great academics, irrelevant media market) or Georgia Tech (great academics, terrific media market) or even Syracuse (great academics, even more of a NYC media influence than Rutgers).

When you acknowledge that the moves are all about money, they make sense.


*49ers find a QB: Alex Smith is solid, but Colin Kaepernick has the potential to be a star. Jim Harbaugh suddenly has a QB controversy, which qualifies as a "quality problem."

*Shabazz Muhammad's UCLA debut: Solid, with plenty of room for upside. But the real revelation is that Georgetown is much better than they were getting credit for (and Otto Porter is a star).

*David Beckham leaving LA Galaxy: By all accounts, his MLS career was a success, if not exactly something that propelled the league into the top tier. But it definitely helped.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 19, 2012

11/19 (Very) Quickie

What to make of NFL Week 11? What stood out to me was that this was a week where teams that are seemingly hopeless gave fans hope.

The prime illustration is the Jaguars, who took mighty Houston to OT... and might have finally proven the Gabbert experiment isn't worth pursuing any further.

No, Jacksonville didn't win, but no one thought they were going to win. This was as close to a moral victory as you'll get in the NFL.


*Gronk out with broken arm: Yikes for Pats fans.
*RGIII mania: He was better than ever yesterday.
*Eagles Watch: Is it even a good gig to want?
*Cowboys win: "At least we're .500" is a good season?
*Player of the Week: If not Chad Henne, his opposite number Matt Schaub.
*BCS: Notre Dame-Alabama? Tide by 3 TDs.
*Tennessee fires Derek Dooley: Again, is it even a good gig to want?
*Barkley out vs. ND: Will make Irish getting Kiffin'ed even more epic.
*Kobe triple-double in W: And D'Antoni hasn't even started yet!
*Speaking of triple-doubles: Kevin Durant is so amazing.
*Terps to B1G: If you're a MD regent, do you vote to join Big Ten? Hell yes.*
*Finally, who can't get behind populist new NASCAR king Brad Keselewski?

-- D.S.

* - Yes, as with Syracuse and the Big East, let's lament the end of Maryland's storied ACC basketball legacy, but this is all about football.