Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maybe a personal assistant will write this blog one day

Sorry to be blogging a little later than usual today - just got done with Steve Spurrier's weekly press conference. He provided the perfect example of why the coaches poll is a sham, by the way. When asked whether it was him who voted for Duke this week, Spurrier said to ask Jamie Spernois. Speronis has been Spurrier's right hand man for years, but he is not a football coach. Unlike most other coaches, Spurrier's honest enough to admit he doesn't vote himself. The "coaches" poll should have never been allowed to become part of the BCS.

Speaking of dishonesty, I meant to post this column from Yahoo's Dan Wetzel last week. Wetzel points out the NCAA has basically taken the last two years off with regards to enforcing the rules against almost anyone. With the money for winning bigger than ever (and the pressure to do so even larger) no one in their right mind believes there's no cheating anymore. The NCAA doesn't like it when they get called out like this. If you're an FSU fan, this is a very bad time to have your team sitting out there waiting to be made an example of as a result of the academic fraud mess. I don't think they're going to take the suggestion of Ron Morris, columnist for the State here, and give FSU the death penalty, but it could still be a rough next couple of years in Tallahassee.

One of the lesser known but interesting college football ratings I keep an eye on comes from the Las Vegas Sports Consultants. These guys can see all the games and with money on the line they have every reason to be brutally honest in what they see when they size up the teams. So where does Florida rank this week after Saturday's loss? Number five - higher than everyone in the SEC including Bama. A lot of people are freaking out after the loss, but I'll reserve judgement on where this team is until I see them two weeks from now against LSU.

Torii Hunter of the Angels believes the reason no one hit the forty homer mark in the American League this season was because of expanded steroid testing. Gee, you think?

One of my favorite things to do whenever I go to a city is read the local alternative weekly and get a feel for whats going on there. Creative Loafing has been based in Tampa for a quarter century and does an excellent job of covering the local scene. They had editions in Atlanta and Charlotte doing well too, but then they bought prominent papers in Chicago and D.C. last year. Combine the meltdown of the newspaper industry's advertising base and the recent economic crisis, and say hello to Chapter 11.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"They brought their toys with them!"

We get a couple of crazy weekends like this past one every year. If you're lucky, your team doesn't get swept up in the wave of upsets. Florida was not lucky. Having said that, as I pointed out in my column for fightingators.com, if UF wins out they still can accomplish everything they wanted when they woke up Saturday except for an undefeated season. Even losing to LSU and then winning out is still okay for an SEC title shot. Losing Jim Tartt at left guard was enormous and will be even bigger if he's not available for LSU. He is the leader of that line, period. Emmanuel Moody getting hurt early didn't help things either. UF has had worse luck with injuries this year than any I can remember since I started covering them in 94.

It appears Georgia's offense took that "blackout" concept a little too literally, since they appeared unconcious for the whole first half. Give Nick Saban credit, bcause Alabama's much better than even the most fanatical Tide fan could have imagined. Having said that, John Parker Wilson has thrown just seven fourth quarter passes all season. At some point against an LSU, Auburn or Ole Miss he will be challenged to make a play late - whether he can will tell the tale on how good Bama is this seaon. It's interesting to see the huge gap between the AP poll, where Bama got 21 first place votes and is number 2 overall, and the "coaches" poll, where just two sports information directors pretending to be their coaches voted the Tide first. Georgia will lose at least one more game. I've believed all along that they're good but overrated, and nothing I saw in person two weeks ago or Saturay night changed my mind. LSU will beat them in Baton Rouge, and UF certainly has a shot as well.

I've got to admit, I'm actually looking forward to MLB's postseason for the first time in a long while. Not only are the Rays in as AL East champions, but Milwaukee got in there too at the expense of the Mets. The Brewers are the closest thing I have to a team to root for in the NL. I had a good time when I went to Miller Park, the sausage race is always amusing, and Wisconsin people are great. Can you imagine the odds you could have gotten in March of those two teams being in and both New York teams missing postseason altogether?

Paul Newman's death over the weekend wasn't a shock, as it had been reported he was dealing with cancer. It's still a huge loss. If you're not familiar with just how much good Newman has done for charities over the years with his Newman's Own products, I encourage you to read his book about the project. Slap Shot is my favorite sports movie of all time. If you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Not going to make a lame Beavers Trojans joke here

There was absolutely no logical reason to expect USC to go down last night. Yes, Oregon State beat them in Corvallis two years ago. Still, the Beavers were 1-2 and had already lost to Stanford and been throttled by Penn State. This is why we watch - you never know for sure. Think Urban Meyer (and every other coach of a quality team) was happy to have that pre-weekend warning for all his players about underestimating your opponent?

Florida should be okay Saturday. Ole Miss is just good enough to be dangerous, but I don't see them playing mistake free football. That's what it would take for them to beat UF. I do expect to see more of Emmanuel Moody carrying the ball early to force people to take the interior run threat other than from Tebow seriously. Hard for me to know what to think about Colorado-FSU. The Buffs typically struggle in Florida, and FSU is getting the rest of the music appreciation Einsteins back from suspension. Hopefully CU takes care of business.

I don't love Tampa Bay's chances against the Packers this weekend, but maybe Monte Kiffin's scheme can confuse a young QB in Aaron Rodgers the way it did a much younger Matt Ryan two weeks ago. Jacksonville should be able to handle Houston despite all the injuries, but this franchise seems to have been a trouble spot for them the last few years.

I want to encourage you to make the time to watch the debate tonight. I was talking with my friend Freddie Wehbe of Gator Dominos last night and learned about two different auto dealerships in Gainesville shutting their doors. Lots of other businesses are hanging by a thread. We're at a critical time right now, and the events of yesterday in Washington made it clear that the posturing by one of the candidates has definitely not helped the situation. Whether both guys show up in Oxford or not and what they have to say should be quite interesting. Yes it stinks that they're having it on a Friday night, but whatever your politics are you need to watch. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We own the Southern Conference, dadgummit!

FSU takes on Colorado this week in Jacksonville. Naturally, I want CU to pummel them. Seems like it won't bother Bobby Bowden all that much - check out his comments in the Denver Post....

"Mediocrity?" said Bowden, sitting in a hotel lobby last week. "Yeah, we're decent, but we're not in the top echelon. Does it bother me? I don't let it. It's one thing about being my age. Who cares? Hey, I can step out tomorrow and go to the beach."

Uh, yeah. Who cares? If you're an FSU fan, that plus Bobby's continuing to complain about Jeff Bowden being run off as OC (say, how's that job hunt coming for Jeff anyway?) should make you sick. It can't really surprise you, though.

I've always been amazed that fans boo their own team. It seems to be the ultimate counter productive move. If a guy's booing college kids, does he think they're going to actually play harder because they know Joe in row 42 is ticked off? Sure, they work daily for eleven months a year to try and win these games. Their hopes of a pro career may hang in the balance. But hey, now that some dude they've never met is booing it's time to get cracking! Tennessee fans have decided to let it rip on the Vols this year, and look at the productivity it's created for them. Not only is their team still awful, but it appears they've also alienated a top 20 quarterback who had committed to the program. Keep booing, Vol fans!

How entrenched is the bowl system in college football? It's so bad that teams have started accepting bids for bowl games in 2010. If you're a Navy fan, buy your Poinsettia Bowl tickets now!

Notre Dame's football team has already improved this week. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen got a haircut. Whatever that mulletish thing was he had on his head was seriously bad.

Chalk up another red hot showbiz "scoop" for TMZ.com. It turns out Warren Sapp is a jerk on Dancing with the Stars when the cameras aren't rolling. Maybe this is shocking news to anyone who has never met or heard of Warren Sapp. He's always put on the big teddy bear routine for national media and been a complete jerk to everyone else in his path. I still remember when Sapp informed a high school coach (who was an invited guest of the team) at a Bucs practice that he was not allowed to look at him, as if Sapp was some sort of royal being.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Garbage in, garbage out

It'll be a bit longer before we start getting weekly BCS standings updates, but the computer ratings which comprise a significant chunk of the national title formula have been coming out each week. As always, they're pretty silly. Check out the Massey Ratings. I understand all the data is not in yet, but any formula that can conclude that four weeks into this season UNLV is #11 and South Carolina is better than Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and Florida is a pretty stupid setup.

Darryl Gross, the athletic director for Syracuse, has gone public to say football coach Greg Robinson's job is in jeopardy as a result of the Orange being awful. That's fine, but Gross should be the next guy out the door. Robinson was the defensive coordinator at Texas for one season. Before that he spent years as a mediocre NFL assistant. There was nothing at all that made Robinson a logical choice for the Syracuse job, or any college head coaching job for that matter. When an AD hires a guy with no ties to the school or geographic area who then fails miserably, there's a price to pay for that. Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio worked at Syracuse when they weren't awful and is hoping to get this job, although I have no idea what his chances will be.

Former American Idol second place finisher Clay Aiken has announced he's gay. This is being treated as big news for some reason. The part of that story I find funny is the accompanying poll, where 96 percent of those voting say they were not surprised by the news. Based on the numbers at the time I saw it, that means at least ten thousand people with computer access had no idea Clay Aiken was gay. Presumably they also felt bad for Liberace never being able to find the right girl to setle down with.

Speaking of music, a commenter on yesterday's post responding to my thoughts on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame argues that Metallica is better than R.E.M. based on number of records sold. I don't buy that line of thinking. New Kids On the Block sold 70 million records, but that doesn't make their music any good. Put four of my favorites - let's go with Warren Zevon, John Hiatt, Ben Folds and Marshall Crenshaw - together and they haven't sold as many CDs as Zamfir, master of the pan flute. Chuck Berry's only number one hit was "My Ding-A-Ling" - think he feels like it's his best tune? Sales figures reflect just that - the ability of a record company to sell recorded music, not how good an artist is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"We just crushed their face!"

It wasn't surprising news when Larry Munson announced late yesterday afternoon that he would no longer be calling Georgia home football games on the radio. Munson's almost 86 and has had significant health issues in recent years. He sounded very weak when calling the first two games of this season. At the Miami game, Pat Dooley and I actually had a conversation wondering if it was safe for him to be doing it any longer. You can hear some of Munson's most famous calls here. Munson is a legend because he was authentic - you don't hear forced ryhming catchphrases and faked enthusiasm there. No radio voice for any school can connect with the fanbase the same way today because almost all the games are on TV. They used to have to truly be the eyes and ears of the fans. Munson did that as well as anyone has - although it was time, he'll be greatly missed.

There are some times when I get frustrated as a Bucs fan, particularly when Gruden insults my intelligence by lying about something again. ("We love the bull" - the lie Gruden told about supporting Brad Johnson as his QB in early 2004 - should be his official motto). Still, it could be much worse. I could be a lifelong Detroit Lions fan. The owner's son has now gone public saying Matt Millen should be fired as general manager. The team is 0-3 and has been a complete disaster for about eleven of the twelve quarters they've played. The Lions were one last second Bears field goal away from he playoffs when Millen arrived and are 31-84 under three different head coaches since then. Rod Marinelli's a good coach and I'm hoping things work out for him, but no one can clean up Millen's mess. Despite all this, owner William Clay Ford likes Millen personally and won't fire him. Between this, the Tigers colossal flop and the mayoral scandal, it's a tough year for a tough town. At least there's always the Red Wings.

Florida is letting steroid testing for high school athletes lapse after spending 100 grand to catch a whopping one student using the drugs. Some people are reacting with panic, insinuating that removing the threat of testing will prompt a surge of use. That's a load of crap. The program tested 600 kids TOTAL. If anyone thinks a high school football player who believes taking steroids to improve will get him a shot at playing in college and possibly the affections of the hot cheerleader is going to hold back because of a microscopic chance of being chosen, they're deluding themselves. There is simply not enough money available, particularly right now, to have an effective high school testing program.

It's time to take a few years off from inducting people into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe it should be every two years, like the Ryder Cup. If the best two options this year are Run-DMC and Metallica, it wouldn't hurt to wait awhile. Both are worthy, but the talent pool is getting ridiculously thin. War? Little Anthony and the Imperials? These bands are on the same level as the Beatles, U2, Elvis Costello or R.E.M? Sorry, no.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time for me to fly

I'm writing this in Tampa's airport, so I'll have to be quick this morning. A few thoughts on UF thumping Tennessee again:

1. Lou Holtz and other national commentators are raising questions about Florida's offense due to Tebow's quiet numbers so far this season. That's ridiculous. UF got up 17-0 and than Urban Meyer chose to go extremely conservative. His number one goal is always win the game. On the road with a lead that seemed insurmountable, his plan to do that was run the clock and work on Florida's ground game. It wasn't terribly aesthetically pleasing, but it was efficent. Why show all your cards if you don't have to?

2. UF running backs seem to be improving and are able to avoid fumbling so far this year. Tennessee's running backs fumbled twice, and one of them got a key penalty early. Guess that Stan Drayton hiring to learn UF's secrets didn't work out so well for Phil Fulmer after all.

3. If you're Jonathan Crompton and your team just got humiliated again by a team that owns you, it's possible you could have said something stupider than this...

“We should have won the ballgame in my opinion. We moved the ball great at times on offense. We stopped ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot.”

but I'm not sure what that would have been.

Maybe Christian Ponder will feel better after hearing Crompton's comments. The FSU quarterback at least had the sense to say something stupid before the game, not after. Seven turnovers, twelve penalties, a quarterback controversy, and a third straight loss to Wake Forest. Looks like they're in midseason form in Tallahassee. Whichever idiots voted this team into the top 25 last week based on two beatdowns of high school teams should have their ballots taken away.

Yesterday in the NFL was insane. 67 passes for Brian Griese and the Bucs rally from ten down in the fourth in Chicago. The Dolphins over the Patriots by 22 in Foxboro - huh? An 0-2 Jaguars team that never beats the Colts in Indianapolis stages a last second comeback. It could have been even crazier - the Bengals took the Giants to OT and the Raiders were up big on the Bills in Orchard Park before blowing it. It's looking like as interesting a year in the league as we've had in a long time.

Congratulations to Paul Azinger and the US Ryder Cup team - it's a great story that they finally broke thorough without Tiger. I don't think people should use that to bash Tiger, though.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I don't often get to sit down and watch Colorado play as a fan, because my Saturdays are generally pretty occupied. Last night was a lot of fun, both because CU won and because I was amazed at what was happening. Bill Stewart as head coach was a bizarre hire when WVU made it, and it looks even worse now. That was the worst clock management by a coach I may have ever seen, Zook included.

This is a big weekend ahead, for a lot of reasons. UF should take care of business in Knoxville, but if Tennessee can run things get interesting. Between that, LSU-Auburn, Wake-FSU, Georgia-Az State, even games like Vandy-Ole Miss are interesting this weekend. It's the best SEC schedule for a single week I can remember. The only game no one gives a crap about is Wofford-South Carolina, which of course is the game I would normally be covering. I won't be, though, because I'm heading home to deal with a family situation. It will feel much more appropriate to be in Tampa for UF-UT than it would have to be siting in the press box for the Gamecocks and Wofford.

How bad are the concerns about the economy, gas prices and so forth getting? Bad enough that some people think the NCAA may look to reduce the size of the March Madness field or limit the amount of distance teams can travel as they design the field. I don't think it will go anywhere near that extreme - that's the NCAA cash cow, they can't mess with it too much. Meanwhile, the media continues its laserbeam focus on the important issues - a survey shows more people would like to watch football with Barack Obama than John McCain. Great - just great.

Your life is probably more interesting than mine, so you likely weren't home on Saturday night watching the second half of Wisconsin and Fresno State last week. I had nothing riding on the game - hadn't picked it on air, don't play in a pool and don't root for or against either team. As a neutral party, I was amazed at the instant replay ref overturning a call on the field that certainly appeared correct to me. At minimum there was no evidence to make a change of the original call. It was just bizarre. Turns out I was right - the guy upstairs screwed up a correct call. This can't happen. They have got to stop putting officials upstairs who don't know how to use the technology or understand the job. People need to be trained specifically to be replay officials because it's a job with a different skill set than the one the guys on the field need. You don't guess - evidence is either clearly there, or it's not. Too many officials who've been sent upstairs think their job is to make a call even if they don't really know for sure, because that's what has to happen on the field.

Gut feelings about the weekend's games: Wake beats FSU, UGA cruises past ASU, and UCF surprises BC. Tampa Bay beats the Bears, Jags and Dolphins fall to 0-3. Have a good weekend - I'll be flying Monday so there may not be a blog that day but check in and see.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's Go Buffs

There will be college football tonight, with Colorado hosting West Virginia in a pretty interesting game (and as the song goes, "CU must win!"). Unfortunately, there was last night as well. Why were BCS coference members like Kansas State and Louisville playing on a Wednesday? I can reluctantly buy Thursday as a weekend kickoff for schools looking for exposure, but Friday was a bad idea thanks to high school football conflicts and Wednesday is worse. No kid dreams of playing college football on Wednesday nights. I've seen first hand this year what a pain Thursday games are for a fanbase, and Wednesday only makes the problems with things like time off from your job worse.

Suddenly people who have never watched Josh Howard play a second of basketball are talking about him. That's because the Dallas Mavericks player said something really stupid on a video that was then posted on youtube. This is a guy who's already proudly acknowledged being a pot smoker this year. It's safe to say he's not the sharpest crayon in the box. Yesterday despite everything happening in sports right now (MLB playoff chase, pro and college football, Ryder Cup, etc), multiple times on national shows I heard people discussing this like it was a vitally important issue. You guessed it - they were outraged! Some guy almost no one outside of Dallas cares about said something stupid - I'm betting America will pull through. There are more critical things to worry about, like Idaho's cheerleader uniforms being too revealing for some people.

Former UF softball player Jenn Brown has been added to the lineup of Showtime's Inside the NFL. She'll do a weekly feature for them. Between her and former Dazzler Kristina Akra working for the Patriots, UF has an outstanding chance of having the NFL version of Erin Andrews be a Gator alum as well. Hopefully, like Erin, they'll do their jobs well and also avoid encounters with sexist drug addict clowns like Artie Lange.

The movie The Express, telling the story of legendary Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, is coming out in October. As part of the buildup to the release, a statue of Davis was unveiled a few days ago. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact he's wearing Nike shoes, which would have been sort of difficult seeing as he died in 1963. Lame marketing - just do it!

Speaking of the movies, last night I went to see Kevin Smith speak here in Columbia. The director and writer had answered questions from the audience for over three hours (and may still be doing so for all I know) when I had to leave. He was funny and down to earth while dealing with some seriously disturbing people mixed in with the normal ones asking questions. There are some major league losers in this town, but Smith was great. I've always been a fan and am even more of one having seen him in person.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This may outrage you

When did being outraged about anything and everything posible become a fulltime way of life for so many people? Ed Hochuli blew a critical call in the San Diego-Denver game Sunday. He knows that - he apologized profusely for it. The guy's been a good ref for years, but he screwed up. It happens. Doesn't matter - livid Chargers fans want him disemboweled as part of the next game's halftime show. Tony Kornheiser made a self-deprecating joke about his inability to understand Spanish during the Monday Night Football game this week. He apologized for it later in the game, because there was some concern it might be perceived as derogatory toward Spanish speaking people. The second comment on the blog with that video calls for "the utmost urgency and punishment", even though the person who wrote it can't explain what's supposed to be offensive about the comment. In politics last week we had the great "lipstick on a pig" debate rather than discussion about anything that matters in what clearly is an enormously important election. I'm not sure how we got to this point, but it's really getting old. In life, some things will not be perfect - unless there's evidence someone is genuinely being malicious, accept that and just move on.

Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton needs all the practice time he can get. Unfotunately for the Volunteers, he missed practice yesterday with an ankle inury. This guy is not accurate as a passer and does not make good decisions. If UF keeps the Vols from running all over them, they will win handily.

I'm not a huge fan of Doug Flutie as a commentator, but the guy was a remarkable success story as a quarterback. Now, ten years after Flutie Flakes were all the rage, he's bringing them back. Thi is an easy but effective way for athletes to help out a charity they believe in, and the fans can have fun with it too. I still have a box of Mike Alstott's "A-Train Express" cereal here at the house.

With Notre Dame at Michigan State this week, I wondered what former Spartans coach John L. Smith was doing now. Two years ago his team blew that game against the Fighting Irish with as bad a choke job as you will ever see. I should have known - as of last week Smith's now hosting a sports radio show in Louisville. Everyone thinks they can do my job, until the part where they find out there's actually a little work involved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Knucklehead Postulate resurfaces

Great Monday Night Football game last night - too bad the only thing most people will be talking about today is the bonehead play by rookie Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson. If you missed it somehow, he caught a long bomb from Donovan McNabb but failed to wait until he was actually in the end zone before dropping the ball and beginning his touchdown dance. As ESPN pointed out, Jackson pulled a similar stunt in a high school All-Star game and apparently learned nothing from the experience. I cite again what I have said on air for years: people who are knuckleheads tend to remain knuckleheads.

College football's a great sport, but perfect examples of what's wrong with it turned up in both my mailbox and my inbox yesterday. My Chase Daniel for Heisman Viewmaster is here, which is particularly amusing since I don't have a Heisman Trophy vote (though I am a Football Writers Association member). The inbox had word that I could begin voting for college football's coach of the year tomorrow. Looks like your winner's going to be Skip Holtz. Sure we've played less than a quarter of the season, but isn't coach of the year the main question on everyone's mind?

I can't imagine what it's like being a Raiders fan these days. Oakland supposedly will keep Lane Kiffin as coach for now, despite Al Davis yet again having either threatened to fire or attempted to coerce a resignation out of Kiffin. This used to be one of the signature organizations in pro sports. Now the Raiders aren't just a joke, they're as bad as one of the jokes in those painfully unfunny Bill Gates - Jerry Seinfeld ads.

You may have noticed I've posted a couple of pictures on the blog this past week. I'll keep doing that every now and then, but I promise you none will be of me. First of all I hate being photographed. More importantly, that way there's no chance I'll ever wind up like Chris Cooley of the Redskins, who's apologizing for accidentally showing his package on the web.

MTV is killing off TRL (the show to blame for Carson Daly among other things) after ten years on the air. I honestly can't believe anyone can still watch that channel, and this show was a big part of where the slide into the astounding mess it is now began. I had no idea it was still on. Back in high school I watched plenty of MTV, and enjoyed ridiculous videos like Simple Minds "All The Things She Said". Change isn't always progress.

Monday, September 15, 2008

That's why you're the Gamecocks

Two years ago, I was in Columbia to watch South Carolina go against Arkansas. The Gamecocks shouldn't have had a shot to win it, but they made a comeback and were down six with big momentum on their side. With the ball in Razorback territory, SC's quarterback Blake Mitchell threw a dreadful pass right into coverage and was picked off. After the game, Steve Spurrier said, "That's why we're losers." Against Georgia Saturday, it happened again. First a fumble on 2nd and goal from the 2, then a pick thrown from the 16. Either play executed correctly likely gets the Gamecocks a tie and a shot at the biggest win in their history (they've never beaten a #1 or 2 team) in overtime. Instead, the transformation of Spurrier's image from Evil Genius to Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius continues. It's sad to see, because he's sharp as ever at calling a game but the players never finish the job.

While waiting in the press box for UGA-SC to get going, I watched the Vols stagger past UAB. UF should win comfortably against them if the Gators play even close to their potential. Don't take my word for it - here's what Memphis columnist Geoff Calkins has to say about UT: Florida will kill 'em.

A few other quick college football thoughts...

1. I've never seen NCAA football as stratified as it is this year. The SEC and Big 12 are loaded, the Big East and ACC are pathetic, and the Big Ten and Pac-10 each have only a couple of credible teams at best.

2. The Mountain West Conference went 4-0 against the Pac-10 this weekend, including BYU's 59-0 beatdown of that same UCLA team Tennessee lost to. UNLV coming back from down 10 in the fourth quarter to beat Arizona State in Tempe is as strange an outcome as anything we'll see the rest of the year.

3. Some people are mocking Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis for getting his knee blown out on the sideline, but as someone who's experienced the delight that is ACL repair surgery I feel for the guy. Weis has been overhyped for his supposed abilities as a coach and his arrogance has justifiably turned a lot of people off, but no one deserves that.

4. I like Columbus, Ohio very much. I've spent a decent amount of time there over the years and always have enjoyed it. Ohio State fans can wear on you sometimes, though. They've had a persecution complex for years, convinced the world is out to get them. Even Kirk Herbstreit, who played there and still lives in Columbus, is in on the conspiracy against the Scarlet and Grey! Maybe after losing to USC 35-3 they'll understand - the Buckeyes are good, but not even 25 percent as good as you keep insisting they are.

As for the pros, it was nice to see Matt Cassel get a win over Favre in his first start. Doesn't mean he's the next Tom Brady, but at least the guy has shown he can do the job. That's more than can be said for the Detroit Lions - how do you go from a one point lead with 7:41 left in the game to a 48-25 loss? I feel bad for Rod Marinelli. Of the three Florida NFL teams, only the Bucs won which probably didn't surprise anyone. The Jaguar OL injury situation sure looks like it may sink what was a pretty promising season.

I haven't been spending much time on baseball, especially the NL, but the fact MLB declared Milwaukee a "neutral site" for a Cubs at Houston series is beyond absurd. Carlos Zambrano pitched the first Cubs no hitter in 36 years in front of an overwhelmingly pro-Chicago crowd. Yet again, Bud Selig's leadership proves to be a farce. There was plenty of time to find a place for these teams to play in a truly fair setting. Bud twiddled his thumbs and did nothing until it was too late, and then made the situation even worse with his "solution".

Friday, September 12, 2008

The extra d in Budd is for dummy

With UF off this weekend, I'll be staying around Columbia. Probably a good idea anyway, given the gas panic that Ike has triggered. I'll be at South Carolina's game with Georgia, curious to see whether the Bulldogs are as great as they're hyped up to be. I don't think they are, although they're certainly good. It turns out Miami-UF was watched by the third biggest audience to see an ESPN College game. Imagine what the audience might have been if it had actually been a great game.

Ohio State - USC is the big game of the weekend, and the Buckeyes may have accidentally caught a break with this Beanie Wells injury. Now, if they get defeated soundly by the Trojans, OSU can rationalize it later in the year by saying they were missing their best guy. They'll DESERVE a rematch to show what they would have done this week.

FSU is about to finally release their NCAA response this morning. Their handling of the allegations against them in the academic fraud scandal has been embarassing at best. If there are no surprises in the documents, why refuse to cooperate with basic public records requests and make yourself look bad? As for another example of the way FSU has treated the situation like a punchline, Budd Thacker may return early by claiming a game he missed last year due to an unrelated issue should count as part of his suspension. Between that and the two 1-AA farces to start the year, FSU seems to be going out of their way to make it clear they feel the NCAA's punishment shouldn't have any meaningful consequences at all.

For the first time I'm aware of, content from this blog has turned up elsewhere. The Las Vegas Sun quotes my August 15th post in this article about their mayor Oscar Goodman's ridiculous idea for an eighty thousand seat stadium to host all the NFL Monday night games and Super Bowls. Since Goodman claims in response to my criticism of his idea that teams losing games could be reimbursed for the revenue they lose by not playing at home, let's make this clear. Indianapolis didn't build a palace like Lucas Oil Stadium so the Colts could play elsewhere. Jerry Jones is about to open an enormous new stadium in Dallas with marketing deals galore based on eight home games a year - you think he's giving one up just because Vegas is cool? These games are economic engines in places like Detroit. Unless you plan on compensating every stadium employee as well as every parking lot, bar, shop, restaurant and hotel owner anywhere near the stadium for their damage suffered by the loss of a home date (or two, for successful teams) the plan is dead on arrival, mayor.

Welcome to the blog, those of you from Vegas who've found me thanks to the Sun. Wish I could be there this weekend for a quick meal at T.C.'s Rib Crib or the Hash House A-Go-Go and some college football watching at the LV Hilton Superbook. Maybe later this fall. Have a great weekend and see you back here Monday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We're losing too many talented people lately

Why do so many companies try to market people by having them look angry? Showtime's new version of the old HBO Inside the NFL program debuted this week, and the promotional photo of the cast makes everyone but Warren Sapp look like they're about to pass a kidney stone. I just want to hear about the games, Phil Simms. Please don't hit me!

UF is catching some breaks with the schedule this year. First Tennessee foolishly gives up a bye week prior to facing the Gators so they could play a game on Labor Day, and now Ike has delivered some assistance. The Arkansas at Texas game has been moved back two weeks as a result of the hurricane. Before this, the Razorbacks had a bye week to get ready for Florida. Now, they'll be coming off a game against Alabama followed by a trip to Texas. Compare that to the Volunteers, who have four games this year against teams coming off their bye weeks, and the Gators schedule is looking good.

I'm a radio guy, and I take my profession seriously. I do some other things, like writing for fightingators.com, but my first priority has always been doing the best radio show I can. When people in my business act unprofessionally, that bothers me a great deal. It happens a lot, from music station DJs getting press box credentials and then showing up wearing the home team's jersey (in Jacksonville, one idiot country DJ actually was cheering during a Jaguars game before getting tossed) to sports guys who don't know basic facts of a big story because they were too lazy to do some reading before they strolled in to the studio that day. Not content with radio having the occasional egg on our face, someone has aparently decided to go for the whole omelet this week. With Ohio State about to face USC, Pete Carroll suddenly is getting prank calls during his teleconferences with reporters. The last time stupid crap like this was happening, it was a "wacky morning show" out of Philadelphia. This will turn out to be someone from my medium again. Can't wait to find out if it was a Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati rock station that thinks Trojan condom jokes about USC are still fresh. Way to make us all look good, guys.

Michelle Wie has not won a golf tournament in five years. It's the reason her continuing efforts to challenge men are so absurd - she hasn't even beaten the women in half a decade! Now, the supposed female Tiger Woods has to go to Q-school just to try and keep her LPGA card. Good thing she spent all that time trying to beat the guys as a marketing angle, huh?

One of my favorite authors has died. Gregory McDonald wrote the Fletch novels, which are all marvelous. McDonald helped adapt Fletch for the Chevy Chase movie, and it was brilliant. Three years later, genius studio executives decided they could write their own storyline for a sequel rather than use any of the dozen possibilities available from other existing McDonald Fletch novels. The result, Fletch Lives, was a huge disappointment and the movie series died off there. It shouldn't have gone that way. Take the time to read Fletch's Fortune, Carioca Fletch or Fletch and the Man Who and you'll see how good McDonald was. His Flynn series is only four books long but is also well worth your time - particularly Flynn's In and The Buck Passes Flynn. I strongly encourage you to check out any of his writing if you can find it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Next question!

Sorry not to have had anything new here for you yesterday. Had to cover Steve Spurrier's press conference for the Georgia game, and things have definitely changed. No zingers, no clever lines or even much distinctive at all from the Ballcoach. I think he's looking around the SEC and realizing there's a good shot he has his first losing season ever brewing. It's got to be killing him.

There are some stories I have argued with other media types for years about the necessity of doing. Asking a coach "would you take the job at School X?" is a waste of time, unless the coach is unemployed and desperate for publicity (which is why you'll see articles in mid-November detailing things like how Gary Barnett supposedly has always thought New Mexico State football is a sleeping giant). Also in that same class of stupid is asking players if they'll go pro or not. It puts the guy who's asked in an unfair position - they can't say yes and come off as selfish, but to say anything else likely means lying. Despite that, someone insisted on asking Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody the question. Shockingly, he claims he's staying. Of course he is - get back to me on that in January.

Missouri is trying to win quarterback Chase Daniel the Heisman, and they're spending fifty thousand bucks campaigning for it. What was their brilliant idea? Send the Heisman voters View Masters! Each week they'll send them a new reel with "three dimensional" images of Daniel playing QB. While I'm sure Beano Cook will be excited about the cool new technology, I suspect the voters not still living in 1978 will be less than wowed by this promotion.

I meant to link to this Monday. Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel details how that "contract extension" for basketball coach Leonard Hamilton that FSU revealed right before signing day last year was completely made up. It was a ridiculous idea to extend Hamilton, so I'm not surprised. The recruit who picked FSU over Kentucky probably is, though.

Lots of college football games don't attract much attention, hence I was blissfully unaware of Arkansas State's 83-10 pummeling of Texas Southern before now. For one store owner, that game was sort of a problem. That's because he had a promotion going that made all Arkansas State stuff 73 percent off since that's how much they won by. Whoops!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Why were UF and UM playing for a Seminole canoe?

It was quite a weekend in Gainesville, with Florida reclaiming the War Canoe Trophy by beating Miami. Always nice to see familiar faces, and I ran into a bunch of them. The Gators get a couple of weeks to get people like Jim Tartt healed up before playing Tennessee, and for Dan Mullen to figure out that it's not a good idea to send 155 pound backs up the middle into a run blitz several times a game. As for the Hurricanes, if anyone can figure out the logic in Randy Shannon making a QB switch immediately after what turned out to be their only scoring drive of the night, you're better than me.

Tom Brady's done for the year, which completely shuffles the deck in the AFC and triggers waiver mania in every fantasy football league in the world. Chris Simms will likely be a Patriot by tomorrow - he'll save the day! If someone had said in June that the Jets-Pats game in week two would feature Brett Favre versus Matt Cassell as starting QBs, they would have been put in a rubber room. All three Florida teams took losses - Gruden has never had back to back winning seasons in Tampa, and he isn't going to start this year. Meanwhile, can someone explain how the Panthers and Bears beat San Diego and Indianapolis on the road?

I have to comment on two commercials which were in heavy rotation over the weekend. One is a campaign for a beef jerky brand (I'm not going to reward them by mntioning their name) entitled "Messing with Sasquatch". The spots all feature a group of people who, while in the midst of an outdoor activity, decide to share some tasty beef jerky. They then spot Sasquatch, the Bigfoot creature who is doing something harmless like marveling at a butterfly or sleeping. Our beef jerky eaters decide to handle the situation by intentionally doing something mean to the creature and then trying to run away. HAHAHAHA! So, is the selling point here that eating this particular brand of beef jerky will make you cruel and stupid, or are they trying to reach out to people who already are?

The other spot which grabbed my attention was for the National Football League. It's supposed to feature the variety of ways someone can get NFL content these days. One scene features a guy sitting in the airport with his laptop. Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Marisa Miller, who's rather attractive, sits down next to him and looks over at his screen. What does our football fan do? He yanks his computer over so she can't see it, at which point she makes a bemused face and proceeds to start reading the SI swimsuit issue with herself on the cover. Wouldn't implying a shared love of football might help you bond with one of the most desired women on Earth be a better sales pitch than "we can help you avoid social interaction with anyone"? Oddly, the slogan for the spot was a studio musician singing "Every Day is Like Sunday". Yes, the NFL has decided to use a Morrissey song (although a cover of it) as a core piece of its marketing. I'm guessing Roger Goodell didn't get to the lyrics about "How I dearly wish I was not here.... come, come nuclear bomb".

The Tampa Bay Rays are suddenly in a tailspin, leading Boston by just 1.5 games now in the AL East. How did it all go so wrong? The answer can be found at the bottom of this story posted Friday on MLB.com:

"The Rays were under strict rules for their attire on the way to Toronto, as the clubhouse sign instructed the players to don Ed Hardy shirts and black pants."

The Ed Hardy t-shirt is the new version of the Von Dutch crap that was hot a couple of years ago. Everyone in Las Vegas between the ages of 18 and 33 hitting the town has been wearing them for so long that Treasure Island actually opened a nightclub with that as a theme. If those lame shirts were their rallying point, no wonder the Rays got swept by Toronto. Better toss them before they play Boston.

One sad note from the weekend: Don Haskins, former Texas Western (now UTEP) basketball coach, died at 78. Glory Road's a good book (never saw the movie) if you have curiosity about what it was like when race was as important a factor in a team's future as its style of play. Haskins was a legend and will be missed in the college hoops world.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Commodores biggest moment since Lionel Richie left

Watching Steve Spurrier coach South Carolina makes me sad. The brilliance for playcalling is still there, but he doesn't have a soul on his roster who can do anything with them. Neither QB can throw downfield consistently, and the five star recruit he got at the position went nuts and was nearly kicked out of school altogether. Once Kenny McKinley got hurt in the second quarter last night, SC was done because there isn't another reliable receiver on their team. The Gamecocks allegedly had a great signing class at the position two years ago - yet another example of how ridiculous the hype and hysteria is about that every year - and none of them are worth a darn except for Dion LeCorn (and he's a third or fourth receiver at best). Vandy's 2-0 - Bobby Johnson is a heck of a coach.

I'll look forward to seeing some actual quality football this weekend. Driving through the side of tropical storm Hanna won't be too fun, but it beats the possibility of encountering Ike. This storm looks very scary - if you are in the potential window for it please do not screw around. I remember how congested I-95 was all the way up in Jacksonville when people were fleeing Floyd - give yourself enough time to get away from south Florida if this thing's coming.

As for the game, UF is clearly the better team and should win. The key item to watch for will be tackling - Miami will look to control the clock if at all possible using their ground game. Florida was sloppy with its takling in the first half against Hawaii. As long as guys make tackles when they have the chance, they'll be able to get the Canes off the field and put up around 45. The Gator Nation Tailgate show will be from 5 to 7 on the Star 99.5 if you want to tune in.

Daunte Culpepper says he's done with the NFL. When you have people offering you backup jobs that you don't accept, they tend to stop asking eventually. Culpepper's never recovered from the combination of a serious knee injury and the horrible PR he got as part of the Vikings "sex boat" scandal. I suspect we'll see him again despite the "retirement", but he's got to accept that no one is going to hand him a starter gig ever again.

Tampa Bay has a tricky game this weekend with New Orleans, one I suspect they will lose. Jacksonville has a tough opener at Tennessee, particularly with the Richard Collier shooting an enormous distraction all week. I feel like a loon for saying this, but the Dolphins might have the best chance of the three at winning this weekend. Since they're facing Favre and the Jets, I hope they're able to do that.

Dennis Green's NFL coaching career is likely done, thanks to his inept performance with the Arizona Cardinals and his screwy reputation. With the free time he has now, Green's still trying to cash in on his bizarre Bears postgame rant. Just a helpful hint in case you're looking for some early Christmas presents. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hopefully Erin helped Jesse Palmer with his tie this week

It's gameday again for Gamecock fans, as South Carolina is visiting Vanderbilt. While I've covered Thursday night games before, I've never had the team that's my primary topic on air play in one. It's really odd, and while the Thursday night games free me up to come down to Gainesville for the weekend I'm still not fond of them overall. As for the game itself, I watched Vandy's opener on tape. Their QB Chris Nickson looked great running around, but other than their senior wide receiver Sean Walker I saw no credible threats in the passing game and no running backs of note. Their offensive line has virtually no experience (0 starts by returning players last season) and will be tested by a quality defense. If South Carolina's offense doesn't totally melt down again, they should be able to handle this one without sweating in the fourth quarter.

FSU's got a starting quarterback at last, and it's not Drew Weatherford. Redshirt sophomore Christian Ponder begins the year as the guy. This should make it clear Jimbo Fisher is in charge in Tallahassee, because Bobby Bowden wouldn't bench a senior with as much experience as Weatherford until later in the year when he was looking for a scapegoat. Fisher is thinking down the line and wants more reps for Ponder now so he'll be better prepared when Fisher's officially the head coach.

The natural immediate reaction to LSU postponing their game with Troy to November 15th is to say "no big deal". After all, the Tigers should cruise whenever the teams play. There are serious consequences of this move for other weeks, though. It's one game less of experience gained running LSU's offense for their current pair of QBs before the critical Auburn matchup on the 20th. LSU's other bye is slated for October 4, meaning they will now play the last eight weeks of the regular season. That could prove significant should they reach the SEC title game for and need to play for a ninth week in a row.

From the "no kidding?" department: a review of recent college football seasons by the Las Vegas Sun comes to the conclusion that failing to cover the spread is not a good idea for coaches. Next week they'll do a followup on whether it's also bad to regularly lose to your instate rival.

The NFL opens up tonight with the Redskins visiting the New York Giants. I'm not sure how much of it I'll have time to see, but I am curious abut Jim Zorn. I suspect he's going to turn out to be a very good offensive coordinator for Washington. Doing that for the first time while also being a rookie head coach may be a little too much to bite off at once.

Ben Folds Five is reuniting! It's for one show only and they're playing their entire last album beginning to end, but it's still cool. You never know, this might open the door to something more down the line which would be great to see.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

After this weekend's UF and Miami matchup it will be five years before we see another during the regular season. It's too bad, because it would be a fun game for the fans as opposed to the 1-AA crap UF's got lined up the next few seasons like Charleston Southern and Furman. I understand why Jeremy Foley won't go along, though.

Leigh Torbin used to be the number two SID guy for football at Florida before he left for UConn. He just returned to the state as director of the UCF SID office, and set up a George O'Leary media teleconference. Typos can make a big difference sometimes, as anyone who tried to phone in and reach coach O'Leary got a phone sex line instead. The real question here will be how many reporters tell their boss they had to stay on the line for an hour "just in case" O'Leary got patched in.

NFL cuts and the resulting fallout are always interesting, but I've never heard a story quite like this. Detroit signed Rudi Johnson to take running back Tatum Bell's place. There've been stories throughout Lions camp about Bell not seeming to care much about the game anymore, so being cut shouldn't have come as a shocker. Apparently Bell was trying for some version of the George Costanza "pretend it didn't happen and eventually they'll forget about it" approach to his firing. (In case you weren't a Seinfeld fan, Costanza just kept showing up for work after he'd been fired by the Yankees.) According to Pro Football Talk, Bell opted for the "he can't play if I steal all his stuff" approach and stole Rudi's bags.

One of the most distinctive voices in America has died. I can't imagine there's a person in this country who hasn't heard Don LaFontaine's work, even if they had no idea who he was. Here's a nice look at the man and his work.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Beaver roundup - say what?

It was a lot of fun being back on the Star 99.5 for the Gator Nation Tailgate Show (5-7 PM this Saturday, barring Hanna elated issues which don't seem likely at the moment). The first weekend of college football is in the books, and a few things stand out immediately.

1. The ACC is a bad joke at this point. No game all season will damage any team or conference more than Clemson's humiliation by Alabama. When the high point of your league's opening weekend is that Wake won and comfortably covered the spread against Baylor, you know it's pretty crappy. The football went so poorly even the ACC's pregame skydivers couldn't get things right.

2. Georgia suffered a major blow with the loss of DT Jeff Owens for the year. The lines of scrimmage are huge in any game and the Bulldogs have now lost their best lineman on each side of the ball.

3. The new Tennessee offense will wind up looking a lot like the old Tennessee offense. That's because last night on 25 tries the Volunteer RBs averaged just under 6.5 yards per carry. 41 throws netted an average of 4.5 yards per pass attempted. Fulmer's a control freak to begin with, and new coordinator Dave Clawson's about to learn what UT does when they play UF - tighten up. To lose to UCLA with a third string QB starting and the Bruins losing three offensive starters in the first half is astounding. The fans seem to be taking it well, though. Ok, maybe not.

4. Dave Wannstedt found a way to lose a home game to a MAC team, something Pitt had never done. His team had a 14-0 lead and lost by ten. The guy's amazing - he can go 5-7 with any level of college talent he gets to work with.

5. UF cruised, because Hawaii's really bad. Miami's not much better, but at least there's a rivalry aspect that will make Saturday's game intriguing. Very little else this weekend will have an interesting hook to it - it's one of the dullest weekends of the college football year.

I'm extremely happy Gustav didn't destroy New Orleans further than the previous damage of three years ago. Hopefully there won't be any more scares for them this year. While we all wait out the Hanna news, I give you this look at the potential next vice president of the USA in her previous career.