Thursday, February 07, 2013

02/07 (Signing Day Hangover) Quickie

College football's "National Signing Day" always reminds me of the last day of Rush Week during my freshman year of college, when I was torn between joining two fraternities.

The rush process was awesome; the decision was gut-wrenching for a while. In the end, I felt totally secure about going one way over the other, although telling the "other" guys was hard.

But, with yesterday's NSD in mind, at least my mom didn't swoop in and hijack my commitment at the last second. (Although that would have been funny if she did.)

The recruitment battle for Alex Collins -- him versus his mother, over his interest in Arkansas versus hers in Miami -- was, by far, the wildest story of NSD.

The biggest, of course, was the way that Ole Miss put together a recruiting class unprecedented in the school's history. I had been hoping a reporter was behind the scenes for a tick-tock, and Andy Staples has it for

Count me among those who thinks that the conversion of college football recruiting into its own sport is a fine development.

It is easy to get caught up in the rankings and the commitments. Ultimately, you judge a recruiting class on its wins, and that especially goes for Ole Miss.

But National Signing Day itself is about hope. Hope your team got better. Hope the kid made a good choice for himself. There is something entirely energizing about a day based on sheer potential.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

2/05 (Very) Quickie

I turn 40 in a few weeks, so I'm sort of obsessed with Grant Hill, who turned 40 in October but is still chugging along in the NBA. He had a DC homecoming last night when the Clippers were in town to play the Wizards, and I lament not heading down to the arena to watch him in person.

For my money (and clearly for wildly personal reasons), the rarity of watching a 40-year-old pro athlete is way more interesting than watching the young phenom -- or even the superstar in his prime. There is no level at which I can relate to LeBron -- that is part of his appeal: That he feels superhuman to me.

But Grant Hill? Hell, we might as well have been in the same high school class. However, while he is still contributing meaningfully at an NBA level, I'm struggling to keep pace with a slowing metabolism -- the best I can do is hope to make a few shots in my weekly "Old Man Hoops" run.

Grant, you're welcome anytime, but I am more than happy to keep watching you, Kurt Thomas (ironically, born just one day before Hill), Jason Kidd (40 in March) or Steve Nash (turning 39 on Thursday) in the NBA. It keeps me feeling younger, because there is an underrated "life stage" point -- "when there are no longer any NBA/MLB/NFL/NHL players as old as you."


*Did people know in advance that the Superdome might suffer a blackout? You sorta knew that kind of day-after-day-after leak was coming.

*Do you buy the Knicks as contenders? Because I don't. Oh, sure, they're good. But good enough to beat the Heat? Come on.

*Indiana is college hoops' latest new No. 1, and as a Florida fan, I would love to get a shot at them in the Final Four, because IU doesn't seem so dominant.

*CFB: This is an absurd lament, but I wish they had Signing Day for high school seniors who are specialists in engineering or journalism or pre-med.  (Oh, yes, my Northwestern journalism "recruiting class" would have been top-ranked, for sure.) Still surprised an enterprising marketing department at a university wouldn't try to create an admissions campaign around that.

*ICYMI: The entire "scorecard" of how every Super Bowl ad rated on USA TODAY's Ad Meter.

-- D.S.

Monday, February 04, 2013

02/04 (And We're Back) Quickie

As I've been immersed in the Super Bowl ad game for the past two months, let's start there:

Anheuser-Busch's "Brotherhood" spot -- friendship between man and horse -- won USA TODAY's Ad Meter (which had more than 7,000 panelists participate). From the minute it was pre-released, it was a clear favorite to win. A few notes:

*In an intriguing twist, a 4th-quarter ad -- Tide and the "Miracle Stain" -- surged to a runner-up finish. In the history of Ad Meter, 4th-quarter ads rarely finish that high.

*In the past three years, Doritos' "fan-generated" ads have done remarkably well. This year, both Doritos entrants finished in the Top 10, but the higher-ranked one ("Fashionista Dad") finished out of the Top 3.

*Massive success for Chrysler, whose RAM ad (featuring the stirring oration by the legendary Paul Harvey, combined with fabulously evocative photos) finished 3rd and whose JEEP ad finished 5th.

*Coming in at the very bottom? Go Daddy's spot from early in the 1st quarter, in which supermodel Bar Rafaeli makes out with the nerdy looking guy. Here's the thing: It was the ad everyone was talking about during the game and this morning. In that respect, Go Daddy is a huge winner.

Now, on to the game:

*Joe Flacco: He wants to be considered "elite?" OK: He can be considered "elite."

*Ray Lewis retires a champion: Doesn't happen often, and it is so cool to experience as a fan, even if you don't like Lewis or don't like the Ravens.

*Jacoby Jones: Breakthrough superstar.

*Was it a hold at the end during the 49ers' final shot in the end zone that should have been called? Yes, but I can understand why the refs were nervous and erred on the side of the no-call -- it would have decided the championship and bookended with the Seahawks-Packers replacement-ref debacle from the start of the season as the defining moment of an otherwise kind-of-awesome NFL season.

*Will Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers be back? Yes -- I'll say as soon as next season.

*The Super Bowl's biggest winners: Jack and Jim Harbaugh's parents -- they are adorable.

*In the most randomly fun thing from my weekend, Vernon Davis followed me on Twitter on Saturday. Now, nevermind that it's the day before the Super Bowl and Davis was just sitting around looking for folks to follow on Twitter. Clearly, he earned my rooting interest (I was already picking and partial to the 49ers, despite a loyalty to my home state of Maryland and a fondness for fans in/around Baltimore), but I feel bad that he didn't understand the power of the Quickie jinx. However, I will remain a huge Vernon Davis fan.

It's the NFL offseason...
College football signing day is this week...
The NBA is snoozing into midseason...
Time to lock in on college hoops...
My children can't get enough of the NHL...
It was a hell of a Super Bowl.

Back to it.

-- D.S.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

02/03 (Very Super Bowl) Quickie

Prediction for game: 49ers win. (MVP: Vernon Davis.)

Prediction for Ad Meter-winning ad: Doritos. (Surprise of Top 5: Audi.)

Back to it here on Monday morning, after too many days of neglect.

-- D.S.