Wednesday, December 31, 2008

See you next year

There aren't many firings that really catch people by surprise in sports anymore. It seems like most moves have been discussed/preducated for weeks before they finally happen. Mike Shanahan getting cut loose was that rare one few saw coming. Shanahan is a good coach still, but he probably will benefit from a change of scenery. With a good personnel guy to keep him from ignoring the defense, he could immediately turn a team around. I'm fascinated to see who the Broncos think will be better than what they had in Shanahan. I think he deserved some significant criticism for the last few years, but if they made this movw without having a plan in place I think Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has made a major mistake.

Someone actually started a rumor that Jim Tressel could be a candidate for the Cleveland Browns job. He says he's not interested. In what universe would Tressel make sense as an NFL coach? Let's see... runs a boring, predictable offensive system at his current level, loses in the most critical games repeatedly, and college coaches have been almost universal failures in the NFL recently. Other than that, it makes perfect sense! Shanahan or Eric Mangini might work, but not this.

I've mentioned before here that Robert Marve doesn't impress me much as a college quarterback. Apparently Randy Shannon's terrified of him though, because the terms he put on Marve's transfer release are ridiculous. Marve can't go to an ACC or SEC school or to any school in the state of Florida. Compare that to Florida letting Brock Berlin transfer to Miami when the Gators were playing the Canes the next two seasons. College sports is allegedly about the kids - exactly how can Shannon justify denying Marve a shot at a place like Mississippi State when the Canes aren't scheduled to play them at all?

Part of Lane Kiffin's super duper staff at Tennnessee was supposedly going to be former Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron. Even though Orgeron was a punchline for his work as a head coach, no one disputes he's a terrific recruiter, a good DL coach and gave us the best coach TV commercial ever. All those things are what made him a desirable hire for... LSU, according to reports. This will make LSU's talent even better, even though Les Miles and Orgeron likely won't be able to utilize it too well. Meanwhile, a guy who worked with Lane Kiffin at USC has turned his back on him in favor of The Hat. Not a very impressive recommendation from Coach O about Tennessee's chances under Kiffin.
As for UT's offensive coordinator, Kiffin is apparently about to hire former Purdue OC Jim Chaney but still will call plays himself.

The next blog post will likely be January 5th, as I've got South Carolina's 11 AM kickoff for their Iowa game tomorrow to deal with and then travel to south Florida to begin UF BCS coverage after an early show on Friday. Most of you likely have the days off anyway and probably won't be spending lots of time on the web, so I'm going to take a break unless something huge I want to write about happens.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saw Gruden at SC football practice today - arrrgh

Alabama tackle Andre Smith is out for the Sugar Bowl thanks to inappropriate dealings with an agent. We don't know the extent of this issue yet, but the stunner to me isn't that this happened. It's that it doesn't happen all the time. At the college football awards down at Disney earlier this month, there were literally agents lurking around every corner. I saw Drew Rosenhaus hiding behind a pole in a public spot waiting for a prospect to come along so he could "happen" to run into them and say hello. One guy tried to convince me to be at the players party trying to talk with kids on his behalf. As long as there are more agents then there are NFL draft picks every year - which there are almost three to one - there will alweays be guys looking to get an unscrupulous edge.

For the second time in as many years, Randy Shannon has made one of his coordinators a scapegoat for Miami's poor performance. This time it's offensive coordinator Patrick Nix paying the price. Shannon's seems to be out of people to put the blame for losing on next year, but you can bet he'll find someone. Perhaps it will be "negative recruiting" - that's another favorite complaint of his. Hard to demand accountability from players when you have zero of it yourself, Randy.

Congratulations to Jai Lucas on deciding to continue his basketball career at Texas. I'm kind of surprised that they felt he was a high enough quality player to commit a scholarship to considering the Longhorns typically recruit well. Maybe it will work out well for Lucas closer to home, but he didn't seem like a top ten team level player in the year I covered him.

The Pro Bowl is going to start going to the site of the Super Bowl during the off week beginning with Miami in 2010. This is a pretty good idea, but the fact the game is meaningless is still going to seriously limit the amount of interest anyone has in it. This also means none of the SB teams players will ever be in the game again, which some of them will likely regard as a special incentive to make the big game.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Parcells - great football guy, horrible person

The NFL playoffs are set, and of Florida's three NFL teams only the Dolphins made it in. Naturally with Bill Parcells market value at a high point again, word just happened to get out yesterday about his availability to bail on his deal with Dolphins and get nine million bucks more while doing so. What a remarkable coincidence, much like when the word leaked the day before a first round Bucs Eagles playoff game that Tony Dungy was being fired and replaced by Parcells. As came to light a year later when Parcells decided to come back with the Cowboys, he had secretly signed a contract with the Bucs and then refused to show up after all. Parcells leaking that story when he did screwed over Dungy and the Bucs fans, and him not actually coming to Tampa compounded the damage even more. But hey, Bill was happy! As Fins fans are finding out with this needless distraction, that's the only thing that ever matters.

As a consequence of the Parcells fiasco, the Bucs gave away two firsts, two seconds and eight million dollars to Oakland for Jon Gruden. Tampa Bay would have gotten to postseason had they been able to handle the mighty Raiders at home, but that was too much to ask. A month after Monte Kiffin apparently left as defensive coordinator, he's now officially gone. Some Tampa area columnists are now suggesting perhaps Gruden should be bounced as well. I have wanted Gruden fired for three years, and this fiasco certainly didn't change my mind. Before last week, only one team in the NFL had been able to come to the eastern time zone from the west and win all season. Gruden's team just allowed it to happen on back to back Sundays - pathetic.

FSU won their bowl game over the weekend, but were a little too proud of a Champs Sports Bowl trophy for their own good. When your bowl MVP is the punter, that's just bizarre. Still, compared to Miami FSU should be ecstatic. The Hurricanes not only lost to Cal, they displayed some of the worst clock management I have ever seen. Not that Randy Shannon would ever admit it, of course. From his postgame Q and A...

Q: Do you wish you handled the timeouts better?
A: No. You have to call timeouts in key situations where you don't want to give up a big play. One was a fourth down play which they eventually converted on personnel. Another was something else that happened during the game.

Q: Should Harris have spiked the ball or run out of bounds instead of cutting back inbounds?
A: That's just him trying to make a play, I can't doubt Jacory for that. The key was getting first downs, move the sticks, not spike the ball.

The Canes took half of the game's last minute off the clock with one play and then called their final timeout when the clock was already stopped. Nope, no way that could have been handled better. Keep up the great work, Randy!

It seemed like Auburn's offensive struggles this year trying to transition to the spread meant the Tigers would go back to old school power football under new coach Gene Chizik. Uh, no. If nothing else, things on the Plains won't be boring this year. Those Ole Miss and Arkansas games should be expecially fun.

An Ohio State point guard is leaving after ten games at the school. Anthony Crater says he's interested in transferring to one of five schools, listing Florida as a possibility. Although Crater is talented, with UF already having a commitment from Austin Rivers and Brandin Knight still a strong possibility I doubt the interest will be reciprocated.

You may have heard Colin Cowherd going on and on during his ESPN Radio show about what a college football betting wizard he is. Well, twelve bowl games have been played so far. How's the master handicapper doing? Picking the games straight up - no point spread involved at all - he's 6-6. Color me impressed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hope you got what you wanted

Christmas Day is past, but you may still be enjoying some down time. The bowls restart today and South Carolina arrives here in Tampa, so for me it's back to business. For those who question whether Steve Spurrier is just playing out the string as coach of the Gamecocks, a move he's about to make shows just how committed he is to finding a way to make things work. Former Eagles and Steelers star running back Duce Staley co-hosts the show before mine on my Columbia station 107.5 the Game. He's a great guy, but he's also a no-BS person when it comes to football. Now Spurrier's going to add Duce to his staff in some sort of role after the bowl game. Spurrier's got many skills, but he's never been a big fan of motivational gimmicks or pep talks. That was fine at a place like Florida where he had top talent and kids who cared, but it's been a problem at a place with a culture of mediocrity. Bring in Duce is a move out of Spurrier's comfort zone, but it's the kind of thing it will take for him to win in Columbia.

The Yankees signing Mark Teixeira on Tuesday has triggered another wave of complaining about the unfairness of it all. The Milwaukee Brewers owner wants a salary cap, something the players will never agree to. The reality is, the Yankees can't sign everybody. Teixeira's a nice player, but I think they're complete idiots for giving him that kind of money for eight years. The guy hit .308 with 33 homers and has shown zero ability to be a difference maker in the clubhouse. Will he handle New York and the expectations that come with this contract well? Who knows - Giambi certainly didn't live up to his megadeal. Maybe the Yankees will be the greatest team in the history of the game, but with guys like Teixeira and A.J. Burnett the reason why they supposedly will I'll believe it when I see it.

I assume the Bucs won't blow it against the Raiders, and the Eagles hate the Cowboys enough they'll play hard regardless of what happens in the Bucs game. Tampa Bay will promote secondary coach Raheem Morris to defensive coordinator in the post-Kiffin era. It's probably a good move, although when you take a chance on a young guy you never know for sure.

Brett Favre isn't sure if he wants to come back next year or not. I'm shocked. Hopefully Miami can finish this attention whore's career off this weekend. Even if they don't, the Jets still won't make the playoffs - that comeback was really worth it, huh?

While watching the Celtics lose to the Lakers yesterday, I saw poor Lisa Salters have to pretend she was interested in talking to Kevin James about his upcoming movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It looks awful, which is why it's coming out in January. It's a notrious dumping ground for bad movies, and between Blart, some sort of Underworld prequel (now even more werewolvey!) and Unborn it appears this year is no exception.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and have a delightful Kwanzaa

I'm traveling, so it's a light day on the blog today. I'm going to take the next two days off unless something really crazy happens, so the next post should come Friday. I'll be in Tampa most of the next week and a half for Outback Bowl coverage before heading to south Florida January 2nd to begin dealing with UF/Oklahoma.

Dan Mullen continues to put together his staff at Mississippi State, and so far he seems nostalgic for Coach Fran's two years in Tuscaloosa. His latest hire is Les Koenning, who says...

“I’ve known Coach Mullen for a long time and our offensive philosophies are very similar”

Koenning spent last year helping South Alabama get their startup football program going, but before that he was Dennis Franchione's offensive coordinator at Alabama and Texas A&M. Those offenses and Mullen's share a similar philosophy how exactly? Supposedly ex-UNC head coach Carl Torbush, Franchione's DC at Alabama and then at Texas A&M until he was made into a scapegoat, is Mullen's choice for defensive coordinator. I don't think this staff has people quaking in their cleats.

Some injuries are simply too horrible to put into words. There was a brutal injury in the New Orleans Bowl Sunday night, for example, that will induce cringes in anyone who saw it anytime it's brought up. I'm not linking to the video, because if you missed it you're lucky. I can put another horrible injury into two words, though: torn scrotum. Once you're done recoiling, read the story - the high school kid it happened to played half the game that way. He was either in shock or he's tougher than a Waffle House steak.

The Cleveland Browns have officially reached trainwreck status, and it's not just because they've gone five games without scoring an offensive touchdown. Defensive tackle Shaun Smith apparently punched supposed eventual star QB Brady Quinn in the face this past week. Between Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Eric Mangini with the New York Jets (maybe not much longer), it seems like Bill Belichick's genius status doesn't get passed on to proteges.

My favorite contemporary Christmas song is U2's version of "Baby Please Come Home", followed closely by Bruce Springsteen's "Merry Christmas Baby" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You". If I never hear "Feliz Navidad" or Wham's "Last Christmas" (it's not a Christmas song just because the word's in the title) again, it'll be too soon. What's your favorite? Have a great holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Bucs are Bernie Madoff's favorite team

The Bucs continue to stagger to the finish and will need help from the Eagles to make the playoffs. I guess it should bother me, but they're not good enough to be a playoff team so it doesn't. Gruden finally succeeded in having back to back winning seasons for the first time, but most of the victories were a mirage (Seattle, KC, Detroit, the Falcons with Matt Ryan in his first road game). The offense continues to be built on a foundation of sand, with virtually no young skill players and an ancient quarterback with no one developing behind him. Monte Kiffin's going to Knoxville, making it even clearer this is the time for a change. Jon Gruden is running a pro football ponzi scheme, and he should have been fired after 2005. The team will not progress until that happens.

As the Lions continue their inevitable march to 0-16, no one's discussing how close they easily could have been to breaking Tampa Bay's record 26 game losing streak as well. Remember, Detroit began last year 6-2 and then lost seven of their last eight. Their 25-20 win over Kansas City in week 16 means they would have to open next year 0-9 to tie the Buccaneers. Had the Chiefs won, they'd be just two games away from further infamy. As you may know if you're a regular reader of this blog, I'm fascinated by the city of Detroit and how a once vibrant place has become such a disaster over the past four decades. The average value of a home in Detroit is now $18,513! Their municipal government is a corrupt nightmare. And now, on top of everything else, they're about to become home of the worst team in the history of the NFL.

We had five bowl games this weekend, none of which was all that great of a game and several of which appeared to be in front of stadiums no more than a third full at best. They exist primarily to provide TV and radio programming for ESPN, yet schools are dying to get into them. Florida Atlantic was so hard up for a bowl bid that they took no money from the Motor City Bowl - just tickets which they'll largely wind up giving away. It's a ridiculous system, but so many people are getting rich on it that it's not changing anytime soon.

Lane Kiffin continues to strike me as rather full of himself for a coach with almost no accomplishments to speak of. The guy hasn't even run a practice as a college head coach, but Saturday he decided it was a good time to take a shot at Steve Spurrier....

“If Steve’s concerned about my test, I got 39 out of 40. I’d like to see what he got.”

Three weeks ago, Spurrier had questioned whether Kiffin had broken a rule by contacting a recruit before he even had been hired by the Vols. The official explanation was that Kiffin had taken the required test a few days before his hiring. Kiffin's score was never questioned. Instead of dropping the topic, Kiffin decided to publically proclaim he's sharper than Spurrier. College accomplishments aside, Steve even has a better NFL winning percentage than Kiffin. Between this and his comment about how sweet it will be to sing Rocky Top after beating UF, Lane really might want to stop having his ego write checks his football team can't cash.

Not a lot of people are big into college hoops yet, but I guaruntee folks in Lexington are well aware that Tubby Smith's undefeated Minnesota team just beat Louisville. Kentucky gets their shot at the Cardinals January 4th. If they lose, I'm sure it will be Tubby's fault. Enjoy, Billy Gillispie.

When Florida won the Final Four in 2006, the city of Indianapolis was already busy building Lucas Oil Stadium to take place of the RCA Dome. The Dome seemed fine to me, but everyone's always looking to have the hottest new thing. Over the weekend, they knocked the building down. It's amazing that in 24 years it went from modern palace good enough to lure the Colts away from Baltimore and host multiple Final Fours to something to be hauled to the dump. I sure hope Indianapolis has good roads and a solid school system if this was the most important thing they could think of to spend money on.

If you're still looking for a Christmas gift for Grandma, Best Buy would love it if you would take a copy of Chinese Democracy off their hands. They bought 1.3 million copies of the pseudo-Guns N' Roses Axl Rose solo album and have exclusive distributing rights. Unfortunately for them, only 318 thousand copies have sold and word of mouth on the album is really poor. Oops.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In other news, water is wet

For some reason, the information Tim Tebow would get an evaluation of his draft status from the NFL committee set up to do that was treated as BREAKING NEWS Thursday. Why wouldn't he do that? For that matter, why wouldn't any player who's being mentioned as an NFL prospect? There's no charge to get the feedback from the league, and even if someone has zero intention of declaring for the draft it may help the player know what he needs to do to improve for next year. I assume that's Georgia CB Asher Allen's angle for asking the NFL what they think about him along with his teammates Knowshown Moreno and Matthew Stafford. One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong...

Two of the SEC's top defensive tackles didn't need to hear from the NFL before they make their choice, as Georgia's Jeff Owens says he'll stick around. Considering he's recovering from a torn ACL, that's probably a good call. I'm surprised that Alabama's Terrence Cody isn't even asking for an evaluation after having that injury scare. His girlfriend apparently decided to scare Bama fans by putting up a Facebook message saying he was going pro, but he says he's staying.

Mack Brown says he may give up his coaches poll vote after the way things worked out for Texas this season. He should - all of them should. The poll is a farce and should never have been allowed to become a part of the BCS. I'm not a huge fan of Brown as a gameday coach, but he's a class act as a person. Not a lot of guys in his situation this year would have voted his own team second behind Florida, but Brown did. It's one of a number of things he's done that have impressed me over the years.

The one semi-prominent open job in college football right now is at Iowa State, and all kinds of rumors are swirling. The afternoon guys on KXNO radio in Des Moines claim Arizona's Mike Stoops is the guy and will be announced soon after the Wildcats play in the Las Vegas Bowl. Others claim Phillip Fulmer is a possibility. Bobby Bowden knows who they really need, though: Terry Bowden. The Bowdens pulled every string they could to get Terry the West Virginia job last year, including having the governor pushing for them, and it still didn't happen. It's not going to anywhere else either. If Terry really wants back in, he needs to go to a D-2 type of program and show he's serious about coaching for a couple of years. Maybe then someone will give him the shot in D-1 again, but with the pressure to succeed right away higher than ever no AD's going to roll the dice on a guy who's been out of the game for a decade. Terry left Auburn under extremely odd circumstances, which only makes it tougher for him.

Miami starting quarterback Robert Marve is suspended and will not play in the Emerald Bowl. (That's intended as a punishment, not a reward.) Canes coach Randy Shannon says he hasn't heard any rumors about Marve transferring, which makes him the only person in college football who hasn't. The current rumors seem to focus on Tennessee, but I can't see why any BCS conference program other than possibly USF would want the guy. If Marve transfers he has to sit out until 2010 and will have only two years to play at that point. USF will lose Matt Grothe after next year and Marve is a hometown kid, so maybe they could use him. For everyone else, what's supposed to be the selling point that makes Marve (9 TDs, 13 INTs) special?

Speaking of transfers, at Oregon there's a stud freshman from Wichita named Chris Harper who's supposed to be considering leaving for Kansas State. If he wasn't before, he should be transferring now after sharing insights like this in an interview...

“The girls at K-State and Kansas are way, way better than here,” Harper says. “I don’t know. There are so many different types here — environmental types, weird types. That’s not attractive to me."

Good call, Chris! The next time you're out and about in Eugene, hopefully you can find a girl who hates the environment and doesn't have computer access to read that story.

There's two weeks to go in the NFL season, and for some reason I'm not feeling it this year. Sure, I'd like Tampa Bay to do well but I just can't get too worked up about a team that's likely to have another first round playoff loss. Hopefully they take care of the Chargers Sunday. Miami should have a relatively smooth road trip to Kansas City, although the Chiefs have played well lately. As for the Jaguars, they blew a ten point fourth quarter lead and fell to 5-10. Supposedly Jack Del Rio's job is safe - we'll see. Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Maybe 34 bowls was too many after all?

The more stories I read about this year's bowl national situation, the more things keep coming back to one trend. People are not buying tickets to these games at anything close to their normal pace. When UF is playing for the national title in Miami and prices are 400 bucks a month out from the matchup, that speaks volumes. Ohio State has opened bowl ticket sales to the general public, something which never happens up there. Maryland's denying they've only sold sixteen tickets to the Humanitarian Bowl, but acknowledge their total will likely wind up in the hundreds. Utah, with an undefeated season, has been unable to sell their full load of Sugar Bowl tickets. Obviously the economy is a huge factor here, but that can't explain all of it. The essentially meaningless quality of these games seems to be sinking in, and if that trend continues the BCS might have to reconsider its anti-playoff stance soonr than anyone could have imagined.

Another day, another lost Sooner for the BCS title game. This time it's defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger. He's been banged up for most of the season and his stats don't wow you, but this is a quality player in the Oklahoma interior rotation. It's far from a crippling blow, but it does take another bite out of them.

The BCS Championship Game will be avilable for viewing in 3-D. My question is why anyone would want to do that. It'll cost around twenty bucks, and there's no guaruntee the broadcast will work perfectly. The recent NFL test run went well in some places but was a technical nightmare in others. That was for a crappy Raiders-Chargers game though, so if someone wanted to try it as a novelty then what would the harm have been? This is a huge game if you care at all about college football - find a big HD screen somewhere and you should be good. Here's the website if you want to see if the 3-D presentation's available anywhere near you.

The Gene Chizik departure to Auburn from Iowa State didn't go over so well there, leading to two of his ex-players posting videos of themselves on Facebook lamenting his departure. Among the thoughtful expressions of regret from the student-athletes: "Rule one: Don’t f--- with a Florida n----. Rule two: Don’t lie to your team. Rule three: Respect rule two." Words to live by, no doubt. Technologies which allow Einsteins like this to put anything that pops into their heads out there for the whole world to see thirty seconds later have to be the worst thing that ever happened to college coaches and ADs.

A new study shows that talk radio has become the number one format in the US. This trend will continue to build for a long time to come. I work for a forty thousand watt FM sports station in market 89. There's not a chance in hell this station would have existed five years ago - sports was always put in the AM ghetto on crappy thousand watt stations like 1230. Music radio is being killed off by the Ipod and the internet, meaning talk programming is the only unique quality radio has to offer in the coming decade. Sooner or later someone in Gainesville will have the good sense to go to an all-sports format on FM. When they do, they'll make a lot of money.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Heisman Curse is striking already

The news DeMarco Murray will be unavailable for Oklahoma in the BCS title game wasn't a total shocker since he had been injured in the Sooners demolition of Missouri. Most had thought he would recover in time to face UF, though, and without him Oklahoma is considerably less explosive at the tailback spot. The Gators should be much more willing to take chances with the occasional blitz to try and rattle Sam Bradford now that Murray's not there.

Dan Mullen apparently will call the plays for Florida against the Sooners according to Urban Meyer. The main thing that makes sense about this is the fact Meyer has never been a playcaller during a game, having gone straight from WR coach at Notre Dame to head coach at Bowling Green. Someone will become UF's new OC, likely Billy Gonzalez, but with the championship on the line you'd prefer not to have him make his debut under that pressure. The extra week to get ready for the title game seemed to help Bo Pelini do alright last year (as opposed to Mark Richt, who had less prep time before FSU's awful performance in the 2001 Orange Bowl). It's not ideal, but this is probably the right move.

82 year old Joe Paterno's signing a contract to coach Penn State for three more years. That does not mean he actually WILL coach the Nittany Lions that long, a distinction that appears lost on many I've observed commenting on this subject. Right now Paterno's coming off a successful season and his hip replacement went well. Considering Paterno's oft-stated concern that stopping coaching would lead to his quick death, why wouldn't he feel like doing it for three more years? The reality is that Paterno's health is always going to be a question and he will face pressure to go anytime he has a bad season. This doesn't change that at all.

I'm glad to know that Michigan football has found the reason year one of Rich Rodriguez's tenure was a colossal flop. It was all defensive coordinator Scott Shafer's fault. I'm totally surprised that it was the assistant with the fewest ties to Rodriguez who turned out to be the scapegoat, how about you? Shafer's actually a pretty good coach based on his work at Western Michigan and Stanford. Dan Mullen could do a lot worse for a guy to lead his D in Starkville.

ESPN is redesigning their webpage, which is a great idea if it means no more video content with loud audio starting up as soon as the page loads. If you want a sneak peek at the new design, you can find their test version of it here.

In Germany, all children's names have to be approved by a Standesbeamter before they're official. That's the policy so that no one is stuck with a ridiculous or offensive name. A good example of the kind of foolishness they're trying to eliminate is naming your child after the village bar. We may need an American version to deal with idiots who think naming a child Adolf Hitler is clever. Their kids are going to need some serious therapy in a few years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Should've said it was for Furious Styles from Boyz N the Hood, Greg

Tampa Bay has lost two critical division games in a row, and if not for the back to back home games against AFC West disappointment San Diego and total disaster Oakland to close the year I'd fully expect them to miss the playoffs. (As it is, they'll make it and lose their opening game badly the same way Gruden's teams typically do.) So, with Monte Kiffin officially announcing he'll be leaving, Derrick Brooks at risk of finally missing a game due to injury and general chaos descending upon my favorite football team, what do the players have on their mind? In the case of Greg White, the answer is legally changing his name to "Stylez G. White". Why Stylez, you ask? To honor Michael J. Fox's 80s film "Teen Wolf". Great - just great.

Meant to mention this yesterday, but they were boarding the plane so I didn't get to it. Ohio State freshman defensive end Nathan Williams was busted last week for shoplifting three shirts from a Macy's in Dayton. Williams claims a friend he was with was actually stealing the shirts, and since the friend had previous brushes with the legal system he decided to take the blame so the friend could avoid another trip to jail. The part I love is how surprised he seems that stealing things is, you know, sort of a problem...

"I didn't expect any of this," Williams said. "I thought I'd just get a ticket and pay a fine. I'm at a loss for words."

They take you to jail for the first time you steal stuff - who knew? Williams also acknowledges he hadn't called Jim Tressel yet, but I'm sure the Sweatervest is cool with learning about his players covering for their criminal buddies by reading about it in the morning paper.

On the plane, I got to read about Sondra Fortunato in the New York Post. I wasn't familiar with the name, but I knew who she was. You've probably seen her too if you've watched many Giants games - this is the woman who typically is in the stands dressed in some outlandish outfit like a wedding dress. That may change, as her cleavage is apparently now too risque for a New York football crowd to deal with. The Giants do not have a cheerleader squad, so they have a little fig leaf of credibility to defend this. Still, it's the stadium where Jenn Sterger is the pregame warmup act for the Jets. It's the stadium where females atending the game were pressured for years to flash their breasts if they dared to walk down a certain set of ramps. I don't think Sondra Fortunato's outfits are traumatizing anyone at Giants Stadium. It's amazing what people get worked up about sometimes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Back to Columbia - yippee

Good morning from JFK Airport in NYC. I'm headed back to Columbia today after spending the weekend here and covering the Heisman ceremony. The story on Tim Tebow's third place finish is simple. He got squeezed by the Big Twelve people, and they didn't get the same treatment in SEC territory. With no one besides Tebow relevant in the south this year, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford got on most ballots of anyone I know. With guys like Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree available, plenty of people in the southwest went for them and blew off Tebow altogether. If you're a Gator fan, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. It was clear afterward that Tebow's fired up, and so are his teammates. The last time Florida played a Heisman winner in the BCS game it worked out pretty well. Having Bradford dealing with the media responsibilities and hype over the next couple of weeks can only help the Gators. If Tebow won, the amount of people rooting for him to fail on January 8th because they're sick of hype overload would have been off the charts. Not clear as of yet is how many voters this song cost Tebow.

Mel Kiper proclaims Tebow will enter the NFL as an H-Back or tight end, not a quarterback. Perhaps. Mel's also the guy who described Andre Ware as being not only the best quarterback in the 1990 draft, but in any draft. I'll wait and see what the league has to say once they've worked Tebow out at the combine (and postseason all-star games, if he stays for 2009).

Auburn's hiring of Gene Chizik is bizarre. They ran Tommy Tuberille out of town for having a losing season, and then hired a guy who's never had a winning season. Chizik has won as many games in his two years as a head coach as Tuberville did this season. Iowa State doesn't seem all that sad about him leaving. This column eviscerates Chizik as viciously as anything I've seen. One particularly harsh passage...

"If Mike Sanford and Tom Amstutz and Doug Martin hand you your lunch with inferior talent, what's Saban going to do with superior talent? When the clock ticks down to 0:00 on future Iron Bowls, there will be nothing left to do but I.D. the Auburn bodies."

Ouch. When Mike Kruzcek is the best the media can do to find someone to sing your praises, you've got a lot of work to do to sell people you're the right guy for the job.

Jacksonville won yesterday, but the season has been a huge disappointment. Even though it sure seems like Jack Del Rio's lost the locker room, it appears his head will not roll. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, on the other hand, is toast. This guy's gone from being head coach of the Bills to "head coach in waiting" with the Redskins to fired by the Skins and hired by the Jags and now he's on the move again after one year. For a guy with a reputation as one of the sharpest defensive minds in the league, Williams must have some seriously weak people skills.

If you're in New York anytime soon, I encourage you to visit the Shake Shack on the upper west side. My friends who took us there swore it was the best burger they'd ever had, which is a pretty high standard to meet. It was really good, and although I maintain my loyalty to Fatburger I can recommend Shake Shack highly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The one thing Tim Tebow can't do

I'm traveling back to Columbia from Orlando today, so ther hasn't been time to do a typical weekend preview blog. Sure, there's some stuff going on I'm caught up on. A Montgomery TV station decided to go with a Steve Spurrier's about to be hired at Auburn story without bothering to confirm their facts with anyone. By eleven they had backpedaled to the point of barely acknowledging their "scoop" from the early newscast. Now a Mobile station says it's Will Muschamp. And yet another report has Wake Forest's Jim Grobe interviewing for the job. I think Auburn should hire all three and then spin a wheel to say who gets to make decisions - it couldn't be much more confusing than what normally seems to be going on over there. Still, since I have to get back on the road, in lieu of the typical post please accept this WORLDWIDE SUPER TIM TEBOW EXCLUSIVE STORY instead....

Last night at the College Football Awards show at Disney, Tim Tebow won the Maxwell Award as the most outstanding player in college football. Over the course of a two hour telecast we heard about Tebow's exploits as a makeshift doctor performing circumcisions and removing cysts. The hosts, current players, Terrell Buckley and even Ann Bowden paid tribute to him. Tebow's just about perfect in the eyes of everyone. I can now tell you there is something he falters at.

Because Tebow is a huge story in Florida, there was much more coverage of the award show event from instate media than in a typical year. Too many people confined in a very small press space on the second floor meant there were no electical outlets available to power the laptop I'm writing this on. I needed to be able to send my postshow story about the awards in to, and my laptop was under twenty percent power left. There was one option available - the press area's men's restroom had an open wall outlet by the sink. Not ideal, for obvious reasons, but you do what you have to sometimes.

So I'm set up with my men's room "office", just like the Fonz only not even remotely cool. Still, if I can get fifteen minutes worth of juice back into the laptop that should be enough to make it through the show. Meanwhile, Tebow was presented the Disney Spirit award for being the most inspirational story in college football and then brought to the press area on the second floor of the building. I go out to get a couple of quotes for the story and then return to my laptop. After he's done talking, Tebow drops in for a quick pitstop before returning downstairs.

Tebow joked with me about my unusual writing location as he came to wash up. I had to put the screen down, because you really don't want a guy to find out he's won the Maxwell Award (they give us the winners early so we can start writing as long as no one puts a story out before the award's been presented) by seeing the headline on a story you're writing about him in the men's room. Tebow goes to rinse his hands and... nothing. Not even Tebow can get those stupid motion detector sinks to give him a steady stream of water to rinse his hands off. Eventually there were enough of those one second splashes to do the job and get Tim back downstairs - there was more to be won. Other than when he's dealing with sinks, that's how it usually turns out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sorry this is later than usual - Blogger's been buggy today

Orlando was an interesting place to be yesterday. Of course there were the college football awards preview interviews, which is what I'm in town for, but the Dan Mullen to Miss State news turned things upside down. I'm happy for Mullen if this is the job he wants. He's always been a standup guy in answering questions even when people were unhappy with the offense, which I appreciate.

Having said that, I think this is a curious choice on both sides. Mullen's personality is a total 180 from everything that MSU fans are used to. They'll love him until September but I suspect people will get pretty cranky when the offense sputters for the next couple of years, which it will. There's simply not enough talent there to work with. As recently as the Alabama game, Mullen still displayed what I consider his biggest flaw. He does not know what personnel are in the game when he calls a play. That's how, as Florida did, you wind up with David Nelson in the backfield in the same look Percy Harvin gives when he motions in. The Nelson play didn't work so well - wonder why? Personnel matters! I've discussed this with Mullen, and he really believes plays will work with whatever guys on the two deep are in at the spot. At MSU, they won't even work that well with the first group for a while.

I'm surprised Mullen made the move because it seems his star is still rising. Bob Stoops turned down Minnesota's head coach spot after the 1996 season and wouldn't even interview to replace Danny Ford at Arkansas because he believed he could and would do better. To me, even though it was an SEC job, this was Mullen's Minnesota. On the other hand, UF DC Charlie Strong is getting to the point where if he wants to be a head coach he has to take a job and get started. Here in Orlando, the word is George O'Leary is in big trouble at UCF, to the point Mike Bianchi of the Sentinel called for his firing yesterday. The investigation of the latest significant player health problem stemming from a UCF workout is underway - if UCF can use it to rid themselves of O'Leary with the five million dollar buyout, they will. Should that happen, Strong is almost certain to be their next head coach. How quickly could any of this happen? That's unclear, although one UCF site is claiming Friday. It would be a good launching spot for Charlie's head coach career, but obviously having two coordinators gone will put UF way behind the eight ball for the title game.

I probably should have posted yesterday about the absurdity of the NFL letting 150 workers go, claiming the economy necessitated it. That's ridiculous, of course. The NFL is printing money by the bushel, but this way they'll keep even more of it. Still, I let it go. Then I saw Bonnie Erbe of US News and World Report chime in. She's happy people lost their jobs nd hopes more will, because she doesn't like football. Something is seriously wrong with a person who would wish unemployment on people in this economy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nice resume, Mike

Since that "Urban Meyer is going to leave for Notre Dame - trust me I know (even though I've got no personal connection with the man and have criticized him every step of the way)" bit got Peter Kerasotis so much attention, another passionate Gator basher has decided to weigh in. Mike Freeman, the same guy who ripped Meyer for "costing Chris Leak the Heisman to prove how smart he was", now announces Urban will be going to the NFL. He's got nothing to back his contention up other than "several sources" - couldn't even bother to make up a better title than that, Mike? Meyer has said throughout his career that the NFL doesn't interest him (unlike Billy Donovan, who acknowledged thinking about the NBA). His offense does not seem a particularly great fit for the league, and there's been zero indications from anyone else covering the NFL anywhere that he's a hot candidate to target. Other than that, Freeman's article makes a lot of sense.

Congratulations to Mike Locksley for being named New Mexico's head coach. It will be interesting to see what Ron Zook does without his offensive coordinator and ace recruiter. Meanwhile, Auburn looks like they have absolutely no idea what they're doing. They interviewed Miami OC Patrick Nix! Have they seen their offense? I know he's an "Auburn man", but when other schools would contribute money to help you hire your new coach that's not a good sign. I'm sticking wih my initial call of Derek Dooley, but when they interview people like Nix and Rodney Garner you start to wonder.

It looks like one of the first signficiant sports casualties of the economic meltdown may be the Arena Football League. This would be a shame, because it was a way for guys to keep their football dreams alive. For families in cities with a team, it was a reasonably cost effective way to go to a professional sporting event. I really enjoyed watching the Tampa Bay Storm - even went to the airport with a friend to welcome them home after the first Arena Bowl victory over Detroit. Hopefully there's a way out of this for the AFL, but it doesn't look good.

This is a non-partisan blog, but two semi-political stories deserve mention today. "Joe the Plumber" decided to attack John McCain, saying the Republican nominee "appalled me". I get that this guy's trying to extend his fifteen minutes of fame, but this is pathetic. The only reason anyone knows or cares (if for some strange reason you do) about this guy is because of McCain. The least he could do is show some class and express gratitude for that. Meanwhile, Fran Drescher wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate in what sounds like the worst reality show pitch ever.

I'll be in Orlando today to begin coverage of the College Football Awards coming up Thursday night. Tonight we'll get to interview most of the big names in college football. It's one of my favorite things I get to do each year, because we get to actually talk with the kids. There's no game coming up this week we need to preview, they're there for the purpose of being interviewed so there's not a time issue, and they're relaxed and getting to have fun at Disney hanging out with a bunch of other elite guys. Should be a good time - maybe I'll have a good story or two to tell here tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"The BCS game is sold out, but we do have Orange Bowl tickets for sale... hello? Hello?"

This was a weekend that showed off the best and worst of college football all at once. UF played a tremendous football game with Alabama and earned their way into the national championship game. Oklahoma kept Sam Bradford throwing into the end zone late in a blowout just to make sure they had nothing to worry about. Texas, USC, Utah, even Alabama and Penn State have every right to wake up this morning feeling like they got ripped off. I do think it's ridiculous when people like Pete Carroll start trying to compare teams losses while ignoring the value of their respective wins. By the way, this will be an extra long post because I don't expect to be free to do one for tomorrow (although you're welcome to check in and see if I was able to).

I was at UF's press conference last night and spoke with Percy Harvin. He says he'll be back healthy in two weeks. People watching touchdown catches by Carl Moore, David Nelson and Riley Cooper against Bama had to be asking "who the hell are these guys?" UF's got amazing receiver depth, but they don't beat Oklahoma without the special x-factor that only Harvin brings.

Lots of Gator fans seem upset about Steve Spurrier's vote in the coaches poll, where he put Oklahoma first and Florida second. I don't know why he voted that way, but it's not like OU is a ridiculous choice. It's no secret that Steve's close to Stoops, so why get worked up about it? The poll is an enormous conflict of interest and should be abolished anyway.

Unfortunately the Harris Poll, while not as laden with conflicts of interest as the coaches poll, still has its share of idiots like Larry Keech. Keech is a writer from the Greensboro, NC paper who retired in 2004 yet has had a Harris Poll vote for three years now. Keech is notorious for always voting undefeated teams first, strength of schedule and common sense be damned. The stupidity doesn't stop there, though. Here, because there's no way to link it that I've found, is Keech's top 25:

1: Utah
2: Boise State
3: Texas
4: Oklahoma
5: Florida
6: USC
7: Penn State
8: Alabama
9: Texas Tech
10: Ball State
11: TCU
12: BYU
13: Ohio State
14: Cincinnati
15: Oklahoma State
16: Oregon
17: Michigan State
18: Rice
19: Northwestern
20: Georgia Tech
21: Georgia
22: Pittsburgh
23: Western Michigan
24: East Carolina
25: Tulsa

If looking at that final poll vote (Ball State at number 10 after LOSING the MAC title game!) makes you think this man should no longer be a member of the Harris Poll, you're smarter than everyone involved with the BCS apparently is. Here's the rest of the roll call of college football experts that make up the Harris Poll. Apparently having not been involved with the game in two decades or more is a mandatory qualification for at least half the voters.

Urban Meyer acknowledged that he's got assistant coaches who are being sought after for other jobs. Dan McCarney wants to be a head coach again, and I imagine if New Mexico offers him their job he will take it. Their AD is the one who hired Meyer for the Bowling Green job originally, and you may remember Dan Mullen was originally the UF coach linked to that job. The fact he's no longer mentioned and McCarney is tells me Mullen has decided to wait on a better gig. I assume that's why McCarney has the Meyer recommendation (and he deserves credit for the job he did in making a horrible Iowa State program relevant for a while). Mullen's got the luxury of time that a 55 year old does not, and I suspect Mississippi State is not the right job for him either.

In an item in his Miami Herald notebook, Barry Jackson suggests UF would be interested in Robert Marve should he want to transfer away from the Canes. Let's see... Marve has three years left and would have to sit out one for transferring, meaning he would only be available for two seasons for UF. They already have commitments from QBs in each of the next two classes and a hot prospect they've developed for two years in John Brantley (who's expected to start in those exact two years Marve would be available). Marve also has character questions and wasn't recruited heavily by UF coming out of high school. Well OF COURSE Florida wants him - isn't it obvious?

Auburn continues looking for their next football coach, with indications that they will interview Buffalo head coach Turner Gill sometime today. ESPN reported Ball State's Brady Hoke would interview as well but he's denied that he's even been contacted much less scheduled an interview. Jimbo Fisher claims he has no interest, which may be true but would seem a lot more believable if this exact same story hadn't played out with him for the West Virginia job less than a year ago. Gill's the best of this lot, but as amazing as the job he's done at Buffalo is he'd be a hire that's not going to scare anyone in the SEC.

There is nothing amusing about mental illness, which is at the root of the problems a former Wisconsin football player has been having. The bizarre quality of the story revolves around his twin targets/obsessions: ex-Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez and Maria Sharapova. That's a couple that doesn't quickly spring to mind. When a guy's so off the rails he's calling his former football coach and leaving voicemails about wanting to "marry (Sharapova) and kill her and her family", hopefully he gets help quickly.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Atlanta bound

As soon as my show wraps up this afternoon, I'll be headed to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game. I'm really looking forward to this one, much more so than when I spent last year at the ACC title game in Jacksonville for ESPN Radio. I've talked to half a dozen connected people on the Percy Harvin injury and gotten a different answer every time. What we do know for sure is that he hasn't practiced. I suspect Harvin will at least attempt to play in the game, and we'll all find out together just how much he's able to do. If he's anywhere close to himself, Florida will win. Without Harvin, the blend changes a bit. I still think UF is the better of the two teams, although Alabama has a half dozen guys with first round pick potential. To me, Bama quarterback John Parker Wilson is the key to this game. If he plays as most anticipate he will, there will be some opportunities for Florida to make plays against the Tide passing game. If they do, the Gators will win. No one has put Wilson in position to have to throw in meaningful time late all year. UF has to make that happen.

Here's a stunner. The two schools playing in the ACC title game can't sell their tickets to Tampa any better than they did Jacksonville. Who could have guessed? Part of the ACC's problem is that they haven't had a special, elite team in the conference this decade. Boston College winning multiple division titles to play in Florida wasn't supposed to happen. They're a private school with a small fanbase that's over a thousand miles away. Preseason top ten team Clemson, FSU, Miami or a hot Georgia Tech would have all been winners for the ACC this year. Instead they get a rematch of a game no one wanted to see in 2007, with the teams playing for the fourth time in two years. Good luck with that.

Somehow I missed the newsflash earlier this week that USF quarterback Matt Grothe will return for his senior season rather than putting his name into the NFL draft. Exactly what posessed Grothe to think he had any business looking at doing that was not made clear. Grothe's next "revelation" could be something along the lines of "I will obey the laws of gravity."

The thing that floored me about the arrest of Dee Morley yesterday in Knoxville on what supposedly was a warrant mixup is that they let him back into school in the first place. Morley went to a bogus "diploma mill" high school, then failed out of Tennessee. Now we know that while out of school, he shook down a guy for 35 dollars in Miami and was charged and convicted of strong arm robbery. School officials knew about the arrest but let Morley back in anyway. Everyone wants to win, but not all schools are re-admitting a violent felon who cheats in class. Tennessee alums should be hanging their heads in shame.

According to multiple reports, USC ofensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is Tyrone Willingham's replacement as Washington head coach. No Carroll proteges have done anything outside that program, Lane Kiffin included at this point. Sarkisian is the guy who was smart enough to turn Al Davis down before he grabbed Kiffin. He's had a lot more to do with USC's success than Kiffin did. It's interesting that none of the jobs in college football which have been filled so far have grabbed a head coach from somewhere else. The usual domino effect isn't happening this year. Have a great weekend - see you back here Monday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Urban Meyer won't miss this guy

A lot of people were stunned by the news Tommy Tuberville is out at Auburn. The word earlier in the week had been to expect a lot of staff changes on offense, but for Tuberville to make it. The more I look at this, the smarter I think Tuberville is. One way he would have had to try and assemble a staff of quality guys, with all of them knowing they could be one year employees, implement a new offense and deal with the resurgent Bama. This way he's going to sit out a year, maybe do some TV work, and enjoy his five million "go away" dollars. Next year he'll be the immediate obvious candidate (a la Spurrier and Butch Davis when they took their years off) for any SEC, ACC or Big Twelve job. Auburn's already been touch with Mike Leach, who I think is a very poor fit personality wise for that job. Just a hunch, but I think Louisiana Tech's Derek Dooley (remember, Vince is an Auburn alum) may wind up being the answer here.

So Tuberville's out of a job, but somehow Virginia's Al Groh is not. Groh is the classic bad college football coach. His teams never impress you as being particularly well prepared, nor do they ever win significant games. Groh's had losing seasons two of the past three years, has a son as offensive coordinator who would and should be fired if not for the nepotism, and is incredibly arrogant to boot - another Bill Parcells trained NFL "genius". They did not roll over his deal, meaning it ends in 2011. Even in the mediocre ACC, it will actually end in 2009.

Some people might be surprised that undefeated Ball State would turn down the chance to play undefeated Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl. Nothing wrong with the undefeated Cinderellas settling things on the field, right? Not really. Boise would have home field advantage and it would be incredibly inconvenient for the Ball State fanbase to get to the game. There won't be many years like this for Ball State, and I'm glad to see they're trying to do the right thing for their team and fans rather than what would have gotten them the most national attention.

I almost never watch network television shows. I did when I was a kid, but once I got to college I just stopped watching almost any television other than news and sports programming. The last show I watched with regularity on any of the networks was Homicide: Life On the Street. It was a terrific show, one that NBC never really committed to promoting and unfortunately stashed in the viewer unfriendly Friday night at 10 PM time slot. Too bad Homicide isn't running now, because it might live forever. NBC is out of programming. I know companies are tightening their budgets everywhere, but how does a TV network not get around to producing, you know, TV SHOWS?!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Maybe I need a blog succession plan

This "coach in waiting" bit is getting ridiculous. It made perfect sense for FSU and would for Penn State as well. When your coach's age is an obvious recruiting issue, it needs to be addressed. I didn't understand why Purdue or the Seattle Seahawks chose to do it this year, though. By having one year "waiting periods" for their new coaches, they turned their seasons into wrecks with players ignoring the lame ducks in charge. Now Oregon football will not only have a question at coach, the entire athletic department will have an open ended question about the AD spot too.

Notre Dame apparently will keep Charlie Weis for another year. This isn't a total shock - their AD's new in the gig and has little experience that would prepare him for an ND coaching search this early. There's also the gigantic buyout they would to deal with (between 4 and 16 million, depending on what report you've chosen to believe this week). I suspect Weis will shove some coaches out the door (especially the OL coach) and hope a weak schedule which features both Washington and Washington State next year will be easy enough he can get to nine wins again.

Meanwhile, if you clicked that link you saw Fox Sports had a writer who felt Urban Meyer would be distracted this week by the Notre Dame job. You know, the one that's not even open. Just because Peter Kerasotis wrote something stupid in Florida Today two weeks ago, suddenly Urban Meyer's distracted by a job (that's not open) the week of the second most important game of his career to date? Is it too much to ask for people who get paid to express opinions at least try to make sense?

The part I find amusing in this story about the "United Football League" supposedly being interested in signing Michael Vick when he gets out of prison is this quote...

"We've received fan letters and e-mails already saying, 'What are you guys, nuts?'"

from league "commissioner" Michael Huyghue. Sure you have, Michael. The fans of those six nonexistent teams that will play in the cities you haven't selected are just LIVID about this. As a publicity stunt, announcing you'll sign a guy people hate is really not that clever. Pretending your bogus league has fans when it doesn't even have teams is even less so.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wait until this guy hears about Obama

Want to know what's wrong with college football in one simple story? Here's your perfect summation: what you or I think about who should play for the national title doesn't matter. What former Oklahoma State sports information director Pat Quinn thinks matters a lot. That's because he's part of the ridiculous Harris Poll the BCS concocted to replace the AP poll a few years ago. When asked by the Oklahoma City paper about his vote with regards to the Oklahoma Texas controversy, Quinn explained it didn't really matter where they were ranked since he's pretty sure Alabama and Penn State will play for the title. Why those two teams? BECAUSE THEY'RE BOTH UNDEFEATED, says a man whose vote ACTUALLY counts. That tells you all you need to know. Quinn's voted at least twice since Penn State lost, and it's news to him they have. I love college football, but I'd love it a lot more if it wasn't held hostage by imbeciles year after year.

Tampa Bay fans should be livid at the news they will miss out on a regular season game with the Patriots next season so the teams can play in London. There is no excuse for the community which invested money in building a stadium for the Bucs to lose out on a week of economic impact so that the team can sell some t-shirts to British people. Fans get only eight days to cheer for their team in person each year. One of Tampa Bay's next season was just stolen because the owners want to help their soccer team.

Plaxico Burress desperately wanted to come to UF out of high school. Back then, I covered recruiting as a student working for WRUF and I talked to him quite a bit. He always was hoping the latest test score might be good enough, or that the school would take another look at his transcript. Despite his immense talent, Burress never got to even sign with the Gators because he was incredibly stupid. While Burress now has Super Bowl rings and big money, not much has changed. You're looking to explain away a gunshot wound in New York City, and the best plan you can come up with is that you got shot at an Applebee's?! Ever heard of muggers? Perhaps the memory of Ron Mexico led to the use of the more bland but still ineffective "Harris Smith" pseudonym, but if Burress had called himself "Don Canada" he'd be a legend right now.

Corey Brewer has torn an ACL and is out for the season in Minnesota. I hate to see this happen to a really good kid. Brewer had begun to make his mark in the league, and this will set his offensive development back a long way.

Remember the good old days when Ed Zaunbrecher was calling plays for Florida? Ron Zook actually brought Zaunbrecher with him to Illinois as an assistant after Larry Fedora bailed on him three weeks in. After a couple of years there Zaunbrecher surprised Zook by leaving for Purdue, and now he's out of another OC gig. Rumors of a man standing by the side of an Indiana highway with a "WILL CALL BUBBLE SCREENS FOR FOOD" sign have not been verified at this point. As for Zook, a look back at the Illini's 5-7 season notes that maybe agreeing to be featured in the Big Ten Network's reality show wasn't the best idea.

What would Penn State smell like? According to the company manufacturing the new Nittany Lions line of scents, "the Penn State perfume exudes vanilla, lilac, rose and white patchouli, while the cologne smells of blue cypress and cracked pepper vapor." UF fans will doubtless be thrilled to know they'll be getting the same opportunity to have their own scent soon. I imagine the UF scent's aroma will be a blend of Krishna food, grilled meat, suntan lotion, beer, Burrito Brothers and pot smoke.

Monday, December 1, 2008

BCS chaos begins a week early

Another week, another thirty point win for the Gators. If not for the awful weather conditions it would have been worse, and perhaps Percy Harvin is healthy rather than dealing with an ankle inury. The Gators are a ten point favorite against Alabama despite the questions about Harvin's status.

For FSU fans, this postgame quote from Bobby Bowden about Florida State's potential revival...

"Somebody'll see it. It might happen when I'm here — but I doubt it. I don't know."

had to make them sick, particularly when Bowden clearly intends on "coaching" at least two more years.

This week will be an interesting one. For the first time since 1995, Florida heads into the SEC Championship Game knowing they have control of their own destiny for the BCS title game. No stunning wins by Texas or UCLA are required. I'll be there to cover it. That will be the thing which gets me through to Friday while enduring the nonstop bitterness here in Columbia as a result of South Carolina losing to Clemson again. Some people have asked me if this is it for Steve Spurrier - nope. He's making moves on his coaching staff for next year.

There was lots of movement over the weekend on the coaching scene. Some people were surprised that Sylvester Croom took three million dollars to go away at Mississippi State. After losing 45-0 to their instate rival, it was obviously either going to be a total departure of the offensive staff or it was going to be Croom himself going. Today Tennessee unveils the hiring of Lane Kiffin, and ESPN claims he will bring his father Monte with him. No one thinks more highly of Monte's work in Tampa Bay than me, but I still don't like this hire at all for the Vols. Talk to Charlie Weis about how it can turn out when you're trying to teach NFL tactics to college kids.

Oklahoma gets to go the Big Twelve title game, with all kinds of strange things happening in the coaches poll to try and manipulate the results. Gee, anonymous voting resulted in people trying to game the system for their own interests. Who could have ever imagined such a scenario? Only anyone who's ever paid any attention for the past two decades. We've seen stunts like two coaches voting UF 11th and 13th overall after an undefeated regular season in 1995 ended with the Fiesta bowl loss to Nebraska. Tennessee just happened to get to number two in the coaches poll that year as a result of those votes - what a remarkable coincidence! Remember when Jim Tressel refused to vote two years ago rather than have it be public if he picked UF or Michigan second? The coaches poll shouldn't exist, and it definitely shouldn't be a part of the BCS.

If you're going to the SEC title game, the Atlanta Hawks are trying to convince you to come see Al Horford play the night before with a special deal. Al explains in this video. If you are going to Atlanta and are looking for some cool Christmas presents or something good for yourself, I recommend dropping by Distant Replays. That link is to their website, but I've always just gone to the store. Andy, who owns the business, is a great guy and I've gotten a bunch of cool stuff there over the years so I figured I'd pass the suggestion on. (Just so I'm clear, that's not an ad and I will not benefit in any way if you click it or opt to go by the store.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Detroit really is going 0-16 this year

Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. It wasn't a good day if you hoped to see a decent football game - three awful NFL matchups and a college rivalry that is hopelessly mismatched right now did not make for compelling viewing. If you're dealing with malls today, good luck. I don't care what they're selling, if Elle MacPherson was handing out free samples in her birthday suit I still wouldn't go anywhere near a retail store this weekend.

Florida should beat FSU this weekend, but the Noles have the proverbial "puncher's chance". I don't see the evidence of improvement on D necessary to slow Florida's attack down, but they at least have some athletes on offense besides Preston Parker this season. It will be strange not to be there - I'll have to watch it in my Columbia studio while talking about the aftermath of South Carolina-Clemson.

Wednesday the word came out that Tennessee has offered its job to Lane Kiffin. To me, that would be a less than impressive hire. He's gotten tons of attention this year, but what makes him a good fit for the Volunteers job? No SEC ties, no college head coaching experience, a 5-15 record in the NFL... I don't get it. I'm not the only one, either. If Kiffin's really the guy, I predict he's gone in five years or less. While we're on the subject of being gone, Bruce Pearl's ex-wife has openend a Knovxille business: a hair salon named Alimony's. Gee, that sounds like a good situation.

It's pretty ridiculous that just as the election wave of advertising recedes, we've now got negative campaigning seeping into college football. Texas fans have ponied up money for signs and banner planes to tout their 45-35 win against Oklahoma earlier this year. Texas cruised by forty last night against Texas A&M. If that wasn't enough to convince voters to give Texas the edge over the Sooners, a banner plane with the Oklahoma score sure won't.

While those two schools are battling for a piece of the Big Twelve title game and the shot at the BCS that would provide, an interesting situation is brewing elsewhere. Nevada coach Chris Ault says he'd recommend declining a bowl if the Wolfpack's record ends up at 6-6. Given the economy and fans reluctance to spend money to go to a blah game, Nevada might not be the only school feeling that way. Eleven ACC teams could be bowl eligible, with none getting over eight regular season wins. How many of them really want to go to Boise? What happens if no one will accept a bowl bid?

One of the items some people are buying today is undoubtedly the new "Guns N' Roses" (not really, but that's what Axl wanted to be called) CD, Chinese Democracy. Axl Rose messed around with this thing for around sixteen years, and listening to it online I can hear flashes of brilliance. There's a whole lot that's just an overbaked mess, too. Still, the CD's out and now Rose has found someone new to get into lengthy legal battles with: the folks who make Dr. Pepper. Their promo originally tied in with the CD's theoretical release hasn't been done to Axl's satisfaction. He might as well enjoy it, because the music it took him a decade and a half plus to come up with isn't going to sell well enough to justify the hype in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blog holiday schedule

I'm dealing with some work and pre-Thanksgiving stuff today, so I'm taking the day off from the blog. I can't imagine you caring what I have to say on Thanksgiving, so we'll resume with Friday's post. Have a great holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where was Walter Hodge last night?

Florida basketball's loss to Syracuse last night was a mixed bag. They did a pretty good job attacking one of the better zone teams in the country, but given the lack of a reliable postup presence I'm not sure they'll see many zones during the season. The defense was far too soft at times, and the foul troubles that have surfaced in multiple games this year have got to stop or they're going to have some nightmarish SEC games. I do expect Florida to beat Washington tonight - a 1-1 trip to Kansas City is fine for this team at its current level of development, and a game with Kansas there would have been a virtually certain loss anyway.

Did the ACC's commissioner try and use his status as leader of the BCS as leverage to try and get Fox to bid on a package to make ACC football games weekly programming the way the SEC is on CBS? No idea if Bob Raissman's report from the New York Daily News is accurate or not, but it doesn't sound far fetched to me. Word the last couple of years had been that Fox wanted the feature games from either the SEC or Big Ten. It got neither, and now appears to have lost interest in involvement with the sport longterm. For the ACC to think a network would want to exclusively air its games when the conference teams haven't won a single BCS game this decade was pretty silly.

Tampa has had some bad luck with Super Bowls. XXV was held right after the 1991 Gulf War began, which removed much of the "party" vibe from the week. Now, with the city poised to host its fourth Super Bowl this season, parties are being cancelled left and right due to the economic collapse. These events are part of the circus around the game which have made the Super Bowl such a big deal for cities to have. Even Tampa's well known strip club industry may take a financial hit compared to what was expected.

The fallout from the economy will hit sports in lots of other ways as well. The golf and tennis tours are about to see a whole bunch of sponsorship money disappear. General Motors isn't willing to give Tiger Woods big money to pretend he likes Buicks anymore, so why would they want to sponsor multiple Buick Opens?

Things are getting progressively weirder in Knoxville, as the university president's wife has been forbidden to speak with university donors. When you need six million to pay off Fulmer, having a five million plus dollar donor's wife leaving the president's house in tears is probably not the best plan.

Some performers seem like natural fits to spend a chunk of their career headlining in Vegas. Celine Dion, David Copperfield, Cher, Bette Middler, and Barry Manilow are all current or recent regular acts there. All of them make sense. The Kids In the Hall? I got some laughs out of their show, but this sounds like a really bad idea to me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Win and you're in

Some people are worked up about the BCS for Florida right now. Please do not be one of them. If the Gators win their next two games, they will play for the national title. Who they will play is what could get very interesting. If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma this week and the other two schools atop the South win, it's Texas Tech versus Missouri for the Big 12 title with a Texas team that didn't win its division likely getting to the national game. The BCS system would look ridiculous again, and Florida would win the national title decisively again. I'm okay with both outcomes - go Cowboys!

The Bucs tried to tank against the Lions Sunday but they got away with it. Making a habit of spotting crappy teams seventeen points on the road was a really bad idea. The NFL as a whole was pretty blah Sunday, unless you care a lot about Donovan McNabb getting benched. But hey, at least soon you may be able to watch the Jaguars play like crap in 3-D!

Norv Turner should have been fired in the locker room after last night's San Diego loss to the Colts. Calling timeout with 1:35 left in the game as you're about to attempt a field goal, thus providing Peyton Manning the maximum possible time available to lead the game winning drive, is coaching malpractice. On top of that, Turner actually called a timeout to "ice" Adam Vinatieri. He tried that stunt with perhaps the most clutch kicker in NFL history and deserved what he go in return - Colts win on the 51 yard FG. Turner disproves the notion that good NFL offensive coordinators will likely make great head coaches, much like...

Charlie Weis has been doing from the time he got to Notre Dame. After Saturday's mind-boggling loss to Syracuse, firing Weis is now being openly advocated in South Bend. Weis's incredible arrogance in bragging about his "decided schematic advantage" - he's an NFL genius like Norv, and college guys can't possibly match wits with him - set him up for failure from the day he arrived. College football is a different game, and Weis still hasn't come close to figuring out how to motivate players or put together a proper coaching staff. It's all fascinating - ND expects to be great again, but there is no logical reason the football team at a Catholic university in South Bend Indiana should have ever been really good in the first place. Lots of coaches can get them back to eight or nine wins and a decent bowl, but I'm not sure there's more than about three I can think of who could get them farther than that.

Other schools are already making coaching moves, as San Diego State whacks Chuck Long after three seasons. This is madness. Long doesn't seem to be a good head coach, but he took over a program which was a disaster. People criticized UF for getting rid of Zook when his third year turned out to be a failure, but he took over a team which had been number three in the country the year before he arrived. SDSU wasn't even number three in Southern California! When schools like SDSU and K-State say win in three years or you're gone, fans have to expect coaches to act like mercenaries by leveraging any success at all for a bigger contract or outright cheating. Show no loyalty, get none in return. Speaking of K-State, they're bring Bill Snyder back. A seventy year old who hasn't coached in three years, ended with two consecutive losing seasons, and is returning to a conference that just had its best season in years.... great plan, Wildcats.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Can UF outrush GT this weekend? Probably not.

Georgia Tech won a critical ACC game against Miami last night while throwing just seven passes. Nothing like 472 yards rushing to get your weekend started on a good note. It's amazing that Paul Johnson's offense is working as well as it is in Atlanta. Back to the drawing board for the Canes, although Randy Shannon will insist the loss was great news for them.

The BCS has yet another nightmare scenario to consider. It's a little complicated, but the gist of it is that should Missouri win the Big 12 title game it's conceivable the conference could get three teams into the BCS. Considering there's a rule against that happening, it would appear the BCS executives haven't thought their scenarios through well enough. Who could have ever guessed?

Former Florida assistant Mike Locksley has interviewed for the Clemson head coaching job. He's curently offensive coordinator for Ron Zook at Illinois. Locksley is a good guy who's a great recruiter and a decent offensive coordinator, but the Illini are 5-6 this year. I could see Syracuse feeling like he's their answer because of his DC-area recruiting ties, but Clemson is not the right fit for Locksley. How in the world has Charlie Strong not been contacted about this job yet with his previous ties to the state?

Last night I got a reminder why no one at ESPN Radio should be alowed to talk about college football until they pass an exam given by me. Doug Gottlieb, their early evening host, was doing a bit - with Bush about to pardon people as he leaves office, Doug was pardoning some sports figures for their misdeeds. That's fine, until he issues a pardon to Rich Rodriguez for Michigan's disastrous season. Why? Because they didn't get Terrelle Pryor to come be quarterback for Rodriguez's spread offense. "If they had, we're talking about a bowl team and probably a national title contender." Ummm, no. Pryor went to a team universally considered the best in the Big Ten going into this year, a team which had played in back to back BCS title games. Is Ohio State, led by Terrelle Pryor, a national title contender this year? Why no, they're not. So exactly how did Gottlieb conclude Michigan would have been? All I'm asking is for my fellow radio hosts to please at least try and make sense when they're talking college football. The national guys almost never do.

It's certainly no surprise to see that Steve and Barry's is going out of business altogether but it is a shame. This was a really cool store I found at a mall near Detroit completely by accident while up there to cover Brett Nelson, Matt Bonner and possible UF recruit Donnell Harvey in the Magic Johnson All-Star Game. Where else would you ever find Central Michigan and Washington State basketball t-shirts in the same store? The prices were amazing - I got five t-shirts for 25 dollars, and I still wear a couple of them today. Eventually the chain expanded, went into way too many cities way too fast and got away from the college concept that made it cool in the first place. Even though it's nowhere near as good as it once was, I always check it out if I'm in a town with one. The economy's tough even for well run businesses, so this one was definitely toast once things went south. I'll miss them though.

Back to Gainesville for me this weekend, although it'll be a quick trip to do the tailgate show and cover UF's demolition of Citadel before heading on to Tampa. I have a very bad feeling about the outcome of this weekend's Tampa Bay visit to Detroit, but hopefully I'm wrong and they don't gag against an 0-10 team. Have a great weekend and I will see you back here Monday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jerry Jones's leftover skin from the facelift is surprisingly not available for bid

The Knoxville News-Sentinel's Mike Griffith maintains that Cincinnati's Brian Kelly is now the lead candidate for the Tennessee job. I think Kelly is a terrific offensive coach, but I don't think he's a good match for the Vols job. Kelly's known for being an abrasive guy. (His first year at Cincy, he refused to even speak with the Cincinnati Enquirer reporter assigned to cover his appearance at Big East media days because it wasn't the regular football beat writer.) He's from Boston and spent his coaching career in the state of Michigan before taking Cincinnati two years ago. Does any of that sound like a great fit with the Volunteer fanbase to you? Kelly has not shown recruiting prowess in places like Texas, California or Florida. Tennessee has to get most of its talent from those kind of places. This pairing just doesn't feel right to me at all.

Georgia hasn't lived up to the hype as a supposed great team this season, but some of their fans apparently think 2009 could be the magic season instead as long as Matthew Stafford and Knowshown Moreno stick around. Not sure who besides A.J. Green is supposed to make plays in their passing game in that scenario, but that won't bother UGA fans delusional enough to believe a website encouraging the players to stay will make a difference. Moreno would be crazy to wait to go pro. Running backs have short shelf lives and every carry could be their last - talk to Cadillac Williams about that. The idea that Moreno's going to look at a webpage and decide to stay another season to make the anonymous message posters happy rather than take care of his family financially is ridiculous.

I didn't bother to post earlier in the week about the whole "Donovan McNabb didn't know about ties in the NFL" thing because it was getting beaten to death in the media. Suffice to say I knew there were ties in the NFL, and everyone I know who remotely cared about the league did too. It seemed like a moot point until Hines Ward came out and announced he also was unaware there were ties in the NFL. Considering Ward PLAYED A GAME THAT ENDED IN A TIE himself, one would think it might have occurred to him. I don't know if Ward was trying to help McNabb out, but when he said that (and when Ben Roethlisberger is saying there are so many rules changes it's hard to keep track despite the rule not changing since 1974) he embarassed both of them.

Texas Stadium is being auctioned off piece by piece, which is interesting since the stadium is still operating. Normally they wait until the last event's been played, but Jerry Jones needs cash quickly to finish building the new place. It's just in time for holiday shopping, too. Who wouldn't want a game used Cowboys locker room urinal?

Like the Obama family, we're looking at getting a dog in a couple of months. A rescue dog or a pound dog is an option as long as we can find one that's feasible to have as an indoor dog. Assuming for whatever reason we do not go that way, I am looking for breeds that are: 1. affectionate, 2. not super high maintenance, 3. sufficiently cute that my wife will like it (it's her first dog) while not being embarassing for me to walk by myself (because I know when it's cold I'm going to get stuck doing it). Any suggestions are welcome on the comments page.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If the Longhorns had a top ten defense he'd be the next governor

Texas pulled a stunner yesterday, naming defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as its eventual replacement for Mack Brown. Muschamp's defense is currently an impressive 58th out of 119 teams. While I understand Muschamp is this year's hot assistant, I'm not sure I'd want this guy as the leader of my program. He's only been "solo" as a coordinator for this year - working under defensive head coaches like Saban and Tuberville means you run their schemes. Meanwhile, Charlie Strong's UF defense is sixth in the country and he has a recent national title as a DC. People like Brent Venables and Bud Foster are interviewing with Clemson right now, yet there's no sign of Strong getting a head coaching gig anytime soon. Seems pretty questionable to me. Can't wait to see Muschamp's bio shown hourly on the new Longhorn Sports Network.

Maybe Texas just wants to avoid a mess like what Michigan wound up with thanks to their Rich Rodriguez hire. Ann Arbor already knows there's no bowl game in their future for the first time in 33 years. Some of their fans are frustrated with the Wolverines disappointing performance. Rodriguez's response: "Get a life". Imagine if you're a laid off auto worker and you read this nonsense...

"There's a whole lot bigger problems. Look at the economy."

from the coach who your school paid a four million dollar buyout to West Virginia for after he refused to honor his contract. That should put you in a great mood. Hey Rich, if you want to play the "it's only a game" card, try coaching for less than three million bucks per year. Quit your job and take a part time coaching position with an area high school. Maybe that argument will fly then.

FSU has lost safety Darius McClure for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. There's nothing funny about that, but the fact he was injured while celebrating his first interception is amusing. Did Bill Gramatica's plight teach us nothing?

While the Tampa Bay Rays will largely bring their AL Champions back intact next season, the mascot has been bounced. The woman who'd been dressing up as "Raymond" - bascially a dancing dust mop - for the last half decade has been let go. This seems like the kind of thing people come back later and decide started a curse.

The worst team in D-1 this year will be determined in the Apple Cup, as both Washington and Washington State are winless against D-1 competition. A quote from this article sums up the Wazzu experience...

"WSU is a hard school to go to, man," defensive back Courtney Williams, dismissed because of disciplinary problems, told the Times. "You ain't got nothin' to do but get drunk and smoke weed, and not go to class because you're too tired from doing what you're doing."

That could affect this year's team perfomance, yes. Who knew Pullman, Washington was so lively?