Saturday, April 27, 2013

4/27 (Very) Quickie

San Diego is an ideal spot for Manti Te'o to land, almost entirely because it is as off the radar as any team in the league (for now).

Arizona is an ideal spot for the Honey Badger to land, almost entirely because he will have a great mentor in Patrick Peterson (and a team desperate for playmakers).

New York is an ideal spot for Geno Smith to land, almost entirely because the incumbent starting QB is a mess, and the team is pretty much ready to try something/anything new (except Tebow).

Matt Barkley still on the board: Makes Matt Leinart's senior-year slide out of the Top 10 look palatable. Hell, it makes Brady Quinn's slide look palatable. Hell, it makes Geno Smith's slide look palatable. Could he go to the Jaguars at the top of the 4th? Can we at least all agree that him coming back to USC this year was as massive of a miscalculation -- at least as it relates to his professional future -- as has been made in NFL history? (At least Barkley knows he will get drafted today, so....)

Russell Westbrook out "indefinitely" with a knee injury: Even if he rushes back in 6 weeks if the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals without him (a dubious presumption, given that the Spurs are elite and the Thunder without Westbrook are not), it is hard to believe he would still be the same Russell Westbrook.

Spurs up 3-0 on Lakers: It's not really "the Lakers," but a husk. This one can't be over fast enough.

Knicks up 3-0 on Celtics: See "Spurs up 3-0 on Lakers."

Warriors up 2-1 on Nuggets: Pressure on Denver in Game 4.

Anibal Sanchez K's 17 Braves: Whew.

Aaron Rodgers gets paid: Highest-paid QB in NFL history. As he deserves. Good model for all the QBs taking a slide this week.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

4/25 (NFL Draft) Quickie

I enjoy the NFL Draft. I like the first round in primetime on Thursday -- I thought that was a brilliant move and it gives me/us a fun evening thing to gorge on while watching TV. I lead today's USA TODAY Sports column with the five most intriguing storylines of tonight's first round.

Longtime readers know my biggest quibble with the NFL Draft is the age limit -- if the NFL is willing to draft a player coming off their freshman or sophomore seasons (as they clearly would with South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, who would have been the No. 1 overall pick this year and will be next year, barring some kind of Lattimore-esque injury that never should have happened), then that player should be allowed in the league.

Rather than place artificial constraints on players (and teams), let the market decide: If teams are unwilling to spend draft picks on 18-year-old O-linemen in the same way they would on 18-year-old receivers or running backs (Adrian Peterson coming off his sensational freshman year comes immediately to mind), great.

But there will always be one (at least one), and clearly the NFL is nervous that the market inefficiency will be glaringly obvious -- as it is with the NBA -- that the most talented younger players are clearly worthy of being drafted.

That is why I continue to be mystified that a professional minor league for football hasn't emerged -- the leagues trying to compete at the NFL's existing margins (taxi squad players, etc.) are terrible ideas.

The one and only viable idea remains going directly after the 18-, 19- and 20-year-old players that the NFL can't or won't.

And so for better or worse, we are left with obsessively thinking about the system as it is -- about where Manti Te'o lands or how the Jets plan to humiliate Mark Sanchez or why Eric Fisher is the best talent of the draft or why Tavon Austin is the guy you'll want on your fantasy team next year, regardless of what team he ends up with or what Chip Kelly will do in his first Eagles draft.

Those are the best storylines of the draft, heading into tonight and leading today's "Morning Win" column for USA TODAY Sports. Please give it a read, pass it along and enjoy tonight's spectacle. Bro-hugs for everyone.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

4/24 (Very) Quickie

We are "name them what you'll call them" parents. People make the assumption that Gabe's full name is Gabriel, but we have to clarify that -- indeed -- the legal name is "Gabe."

So you can understand why I am drawn to the name of the new college football playoff -- "College Football Playoff." Isn't that what we've been asking for all these years?

It is brilliant in its simplicity, and I heartily endorse the name in today's USA TODAY Sports "Morning Win" column -- now part of our exciting new "For The Win" product (

I ended up ranking the names of sports championships, and "College Football Playoff" finished in the Top 5. Clearly, it's not "The Masters" or "Super Bowl" (or the vastly underrated "Frozen Four"), but it is better than "World Series" (inaccurate) and "NBA Finals" (classic logo, zero pizzazz).

Much more in the column today, so give it a read -- thanks!

-- D.S.