Friday, January 11, 2013

1/11 (NFL Divisional) Quickie

The most compelling storyline of the NFL Divisional round this weekend is Peyton Manning's return to the playoffs. I think it's pretty simple:

If Manning doesn't win, he fails to advance the Broncos any further than Tim Tebow did last year. And that would be just about as big of a failure as his regular season was a success.

Don't get me wrong: He SHOULD win. But if he DOESN'T? The season is a waste. For all the "MVP"-ness of Manning, they might as well have stuck with Tebow, if results are all that matter.

Broncos over Ravens
Pats over Texans
Seahawks over Falcons
49ers over Packers.

One quick plug: Do you like Super Bowl ads? We have opened up USA TODAY's "Ad Meter" panel to anyone who wants to participate (it has historically been limited to a few hundred people). Click here and then click on "Be a Panelist" to register.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

1/10 (Hall of What?) Quickie

Another day, another big milestone anniversary: Two years ago today, we launched Quickish.

I remember that day clearly -- it was one of the most thrilling of my life. In the year since we celebrated the one-year anniversary, obviously the big news is that the company was sold to Gannett and both Quickish and I joined USA TODAY Sports Media Group. With a huge brand and network behind it, expect big things from Quickish in its third year.

Let's get to it:

*Baseball Hall of Fame elects no one: The NYT had it right with its bold blank sports front page. The Baseball Hall of Fame is a joke. The stranglehold that the BBWAA has over the process is a joke. Given the sorry state of the Hall's finances and the insane grasp the BBWAA has, it took me five minutes and a blank napkin to sketch out a viable competitor for the Hall. Want to see changes? Lay out a vision where the Hall has to compete for fans and dollars.

*Brian Kelly interviews with the Eagles: Kelly coaching in the NFL is a "when, not if" proposition. The questions are: Is this the right NFL opportunity? If not, which one is? And will he be as sought-after if ND drops off even slightly? It is NOT about whether Notre Dame is a better gig. It is apples and oranges. Wetzel noted this today: Kelly's entire career has been about climbing a ladder, and even if Notre Dame is the pinnacle of that ladder at the college level, there is no indication that he wants to stop at the college level -- all that's left after that is the NFL. (And if he fails in the NFL -- like Chip Kelly, like Steve Spurrier -- he will have his pick of college jobs.)

*CBB Name to Know: Ben McLemore. The first-year Kansas guard might be the best player in college basketball. He is a sure-fire Top 5 pick in the NBA Draft -- given Bradley Beal's success, I could see him going as high as No. 2 or 3. If you can watch a Kansas game, do it -- he is that good.

*More CBB: With a win at Illinois, Minnesota is most definitely for real. The great thing about being a Gophers fan has to be that you are not beholden to "Final Four or Bust" thinking. If this team gets to the Sweet 16, that's a nice little season for a fan base that settles for much less, perennially.

*Tebow Watch: Jaguars fire Mularkey, and the only question is whether it is a prerequisite for his replacement that he be comfortable finding an innovative role for Tim Tebow. (I am guessing that it is.)

*The NFL's brain-injury problem: Junior Seau had CTE. Spoiler alert: They ALL have CTE. The day that there is a test for CTE that is as easy as a test for DNA -- or perhaps some kind of C-T scan (although that's a lot more costly and invasive) -- is the day that tackle football as we know it is over. Because we'll find out that not only does every NFL player have signs of CTE, but every college player will, too. And enough high school players will that the entire system will collapse.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

01/08 (Roll Tide) Quickie

Taking Gabe to the Wizards-Thunder game last night was such an incredible experience that I can't do it justice here and need to find some time to properly write it up. In the meatime...

Roll Tide. (Again.) We are in the Saban Dynasty for as long as he wants to continue coaching at Alabama. What last night did was re-affirm a couple of things:

*The best team in the SEC should never be locked out of playing for the national title. It is absurd to think that if Oregon hadn't stumbled, Alabama would have been shut out of the national title game.

*If it feels a bit unfair that non-SEC national contenders don't have to go through a season-long schedule nearly as rigorous as the would-be SEC champ, it is unfair that the SEC champ gets a month to prepare for whichever non-SEC team they might face for the national title.

*Once again in this dynastic SEC streak, the runner-up -- which looked so good heading into the game -- was exposed. It started in '06 with Ohio State and it continued through Notre Dame last night. ND might very well have been the second-best team in the country (I suspect ND isn't as good as a half-dozen SEC teams, but I'll let that go and avoid the word "overrated"), but the gap between "second-best" and "best" is vast.

*The game was such a blowout that the biggest story coming out of the game was Brent Musberger's on-air fascination with AJ McCarron's beauty-queen girlfriend.

*There is no reason not to slot Alabama right back at No. 1 next season, and people can say all they want about Ohio State or Texas A&M or even Notre Dame, but Bama will roll over any of them.

*It's always a sad moment when the college football season comes to a close.

But, suffice to say, "Roll Damn Tide," indeed.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 07, 2013

01/07 (Next 10 Years) Quickie

If yesterday was about an appropriately quick note of the 10-year anniversary of the launch of the Daily Quickie -- the moment I met at least some of you -- then today is leaping headlong into the next day, so let's get right to it:

*NFL Playoffs: Absolutely, yes, Mike Shanahan screwed up. His attempts to talk his way out of responsibility were about as damning as anything we actually saw on the field. The reality is that even if RGIII was effective early, as his effectiveness became obviously diminished, Shanahan blew it by not removing him for Kirk Cousins. Shanahan's blunder cost the Redskins the game. Let's just hope it didn't cost Griffin even more.

*More NFL: Don't worry about the Colts -- they'll be fine. Meanwhile, if Ray Lewis' career didn't end last Sunday, it'll surely end next weekend. We have to get Manning-Brady for the AFC title. Over in the NFC, I'll take the 49ers punishing the Packers and the Seahawks rolling along by upending the Falcons in Atlanta. (If Atlanta's season is "Super Bowl or Bust," we know how it's ending.)

*CFB: BCS title game, and I'm picking Alabama to roll. I have come to appreciate Notre Dame, but even with the SEC's lackluster performance in bowl season, Alabama is like nothing ND has seen this year. The only reason it won't be a three-TD rout is because there will be enough clock-sucking running plays to keep the scores relatively low. But it will be decisive. Then, let the "Nick Saban to Cleveland" rumors begin!

*Jobs: So who's excited about Doug Marrone!

*NBA: Kobe and Dwight don't like each other? Go figure. Wonder if the Lakers can still trade Howard for Brook Lopez...

*Sports x Parenting: Thanks to my immeasurably generous friend Jack Kogod, I'm taking Gabe to the Wizards-Thunder game tonight. The Thunder are Gabe's favorite team; Russell Westbrook is his favorite player. This has all the makings of being the most formative moment of his sports fandom, which is an incredible thing to be aware of when it is happening.

*Hey, hockey starts Jan. 19!

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

01/06 (Quickie) Quickie

Ten years ago today, I published the very first edition of something called "The Daily Quickie" on Here it is. What an amazing journey ever since. Thank you so much for joining me on it.