Thursday, January 17, 2013

1/17 (Te'o, Cont'd) Quickie

Let's review: This is the strangest sports story I can remember -- it makes the first day of Tiger's scandal look buttoned-up.

Here's where I net out, at least for the moment:

*I do believe that Te'o GOT hoaxed, mostly because it is unfathomable to me that Notre Dame -- an institution that knows a thing or two about paving over scandals -- would get behind this in the way that they did if they thought they could get hung out to dry.

*I think that there was still some deception involved on Te'o's part, and we'll get more details about that as this unravels. After he found out he was hoaxed, I don't blame him for wanting to cover it up, rather than make an announcement about it, but he clearly was ready to let the world continue believing the myth-defining g/f story in the absence of the news coming out.

*There are some incredible peculiarities that might make a conspiracy theorist think that it wasn't quite the "he's 100% the victim here" situation -- namely, that he would have a multi-year (seemingly romantic) relationship with someone and not just never see them in person, but never even get on Skype? How about the origin story reported in the South Bend Tribune?

There is NO way that it is as neat-and-tidy as Notre Dame has presented it.

It is the understatement of the sports year to say "Tracking..."

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1/16 (Te'o) Quickie

OK, this Manti Te'o story broken by Deadspin is the craziest sports story I've read in years. If you haven't, read it now. If you have, you're probably like me: Gobsmacked.

(Chip Kelly to the Eagles? OK. Great move. I'm a huge Kelly fan and will bet on him adapting his Oregon system to the NFL -- as if Bill Belichick already hadn't?)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

01/15 (Lance) Quickie

I have pretty low expectations for what Lance told Oprah, except to the extent that he has outed himself as a liar, which bothers me a lot more than the cheating, which was endemic to the sport.

He built his entire brand on lies -- look, if anyone battling cancer took strength from Lance or the LiveStrong movement, I absolutely hope that happened. Thankfully, LiveStrong became way bigger than Lance Armstrong.

But Lance's lies hurt people -- how about the folks who tried to blow the whistle on him who he sought to destroy? How about the money he took from sponsors (and taxpayers)? How about the money he won in a libel case against a newspaper?

I buy into the theory that, more than anything, Lance is sorry he got caught. He is sorry his empire crashed around him. He is sorry that he lost his standing.

I will have to watch the Oprah interview -- again: low expectations -- but I doubt he is sorry that he engaged in a decade of lying about everything.

It is as close to a Quickie truism as we have: It is always the cover-up and rarely the crime.


*USA TODAY Sports is doing a 30th anniversary of the All-USA high school football team, and what stands out more than anything is that the first-team QBs through the years... have been uniformly mediocre. When wrapping together HS, college and pro careers, the all-time All-USA QB was... Jeff George.

Seriously: I went over to our archives of the All-USA teams and looked for myself -- and it really was the best pick. (Frankly, Joe Mauer probably should have gotten it, given his "pro" success... albeit not in football.)

It is a testament to just how iffy high school recruiting is -- how dependent the player is on where they end up, who their coaches are, even what kind of system they played in high school. For what it's worth, the All-USA hoops picks were largely excellent, relative to how the players turned out in college and/or the NBA.

*With the exception of Colin Kaepernick, there is no more must-see athlete whose team is active in sports today than Kevin Durant.

*As discussed yesterday, I couldn't care less who is ranked No. 1 in college basketball -- all that matters is how you do in the NCAA Tournament. To that point, the newest No. 1, Louisville, sure looks like one of a handful of teams with a legit shot at winning it all. (My short list: L'ville, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Indiana and, possibly, VCU. Common factor? All are Top 10 in KenPom's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rating.)

*Chargers hire Broncos O.C. Mike McCoy: Yeah, he did some interesting things with Tim Tebow last year, but the success of the Broncos' offense this year was Manning, not McCoy. But anything is better than Norv Turner at this point.

*How 'bout my Wizards?!

-- D.S.

Monday, January 14, 2013

01/14 (Last Four) Quickie

Remember back in the day when "instant history" was sort of mocked? Now, we get claims like you're seeing all over today: That was the best NFL Divisional Playoffs round ever.

(And it was.)

Five thoughts, coming off the weekend:

*The weekend's biggest winner was Tim Tebow.

*Pete Carroll's bone-headed ice-the-kicker move was the single-dumbest coaching decision of the season.

*Yes, seeing Ray Lewis and Tony Gonzalez extend their first-ballot Hall of Fame careers one more game is kind of awesome.

*It's impossible not to love watching Colin Kaepernick.

*"Oh, well: We'll be back!" is idiotic rationalization. (Looking at you, Seattle pundits.)

Looking ahead: The 49ers are going to thump the just-happy-to-be-here Falcons, and the Patriots are going to thump the Ravens, because that's Baltimore's m.o.: An improbable early-round win followed by a loss in the conference title game. 49ers-Pats will be one of the most-watched Super Bowls ever.


*Who is No. 1 in college basketball? Who cares? No poll means less than college basketball's. What Duke's loss signified is that, as usual, the Blue Devils can fold when facing a team that wants it more.

(UPDATE: A rebuttal from reader T.M., who appropriately calls me out for lazy punditry due to my anti-Duke bias: "Duke was without Ryan Kelly, a critical piece to their success this year...he's got the same foot injury that kept him out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments last year and resulted in Duke's first round loss to Lehigh. Without Kelly, the game was still up for grabs until the final minute. And it was at NC State, who if you recall was the preseason pick to win the ACC. I don't think the game was any kind of referendum on 'who wanted it more', and to say it was is basically saying that Duke didn't care enough, and moreover ("as usual"), doesn't care enough on a regular basis. You know better than that Dan...I know you respect Coach K, and to imply that the reason Duke didn't win Saturday was because his team didn't want to win that game as much as NCSU is pretty offensive." Fair point, T.M.!)

*The Lakers are off the schneid: Not as good as they should be, not as bad as everyone thinks they are.

*Lance talks to Oprah today: If you think he'll be offering a full confessional, you don't know Lance. I'm fully expecting McGwire-style "I'm not here to talk about the past" evasion of actual details or taking full responsiblity, mostly because Lance is on the hook, both with lawsuits and with the Feds. You can only hope that Oprah digs in a little bit.

*Super Bowl ads: Have you registered to be a USA TODAY Ad Meter panelist yet? Do it now. (Just click here, then look for the "Be a Panelist" link.

-- D.S.