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?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Without Chris Rose hosting, why even have the BCS?

The BCS rights will leave Fox after 2010 for ESPN. As I mentioned last week, this is good news for anyone who hopes to see a playoff, because with all the contracts under one roof at least it's possible that a revision of the deal to switch the format could happen. Beyond that, it's good news because ESPN understands college football and Fox doesn't. Sunday I saw Fox's guys try to feign interest in the latest BCS standings and it was obvious they had no idea what any of it really meant. I don't think any of their NFL guys could tell Michael Crabtree from Miss Krabappel on the Simpsons.

So now some USF fans want to can Jim Leavitt, huh? Sounds like a good plan. There are tons of great coaches dying to take over a job with the lowest recruiting budget of any BCS conference school in the country. After all, it's not like expectations will be hard to meet or anything. Leavitt only built the whole program from the ground up and put the entire school on the map nationally by getting to number two in the BCS standings in 2007. Why should that be good enough to keep his job another couple of years when the Bulls are "only" going to another non BCS bowl this year?

Crazy dollar figures like 66 million dollars are being thrown around in relation to the controversial ending of Pittsburgh's win against San Diego Sunday. In reality, while the sports books apparently did make money on the game thanks to the disallowed touchdown the impact's not anything like that amount (which seems to be stemming from one estimate of how much was on Pittsburgh but ignores that bets on the Chargers had to be paid). As a result of this latest controversy the NFL has now given the replay booth the ability to call the ref back to the review booth a second time, presumably to say "Try again, moron!" if he blows a call.

If Hank Williams Junior does follow through on his vague discussion about running for the US Senate from Tennessee, will ESPN finally take him off the Monday Night Football intro? Because I'll kick in a couple of bills for the campaign if they'll promise to do that.

Speaking of music, there's a lot being made of the word Paul McCartney may finally release the Beatles recording "Carnival of Light". As much as I enjoy the Beatles, this thing sounds like a seriously drugged out train wreck. I still remember what a big deal they made about the supposed "new" songs "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" when the Anthology discs came out. Neither could even come close to living up to expectations, and I seriously doubt this one can.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogging from Columbia - it was good to be home

Saturday was a pretty full day for me. Over the course of the afternoon I hosted shows for both my Gainesville and Columbia radio stations, did updates and got a postgame guest for ESPN Radio, provided a recap piece and some sound bites for AP Radio, and wrote my usual postgame column for All of that was chronicling a simple fact - UF football is miles ahead of South Carolina right now. The fourth quarter of that game - when UF's mostly freshmen backups scored fourteen more points against starters while shutting SC out - should scare the hell out of everyone in the SEC. When the LA Times is writing articles like this, a message has been sent. Now the Gators get a bye week (sorry Citadel, you don't count) to rest anyone who's banged up and then go deal with the fiasco in Tallahassee.

In perhaps the most inevitable news of the year, Syracuse fired coach Greg Robinson yesterday. Winning eight games in four years tends to lead to that. What kills me is this poll of supposed candidates from the Syracuse Post-Standard. Dave Clawson, Tennessee's offensive coordinator, is listed as a possible contender. What were the other options for that spot in the poll, "select coach via reality show" or "award job to ninth caller"?

I got to watch Florida against Bradley yesterday and a few things stand out. This team is going to be in huge trouble on days the threes aren't falling. Alex Tyus looked awful yesterday, and I refuse to believe that's the way he will play all season. Of the youngsters, Ray Shipman looked particularly impressive but I saw good things from Erving Walker and Allen Chaney as well. One thing UF didn't do this weekend: lose to VMI. Billy Gillispie is off to another rip roaring start in Lexington - wonder how much longer it's still going to be all Tubby's fault?

The Tampa Bay Lightning officially hit disaster mode Friday with the firing of Barry Melrose after sixteen games. Now the leaks are coming from everywhere about what a wreck the franchise is. Canning the GM and coach who won the Stanley Cup four years ago to hire an amiable TV personality was a bad idea - gee, who could have guessed?

Over the weekend if you happened to be listening to Fox Sports Radio, you may have heard them playing tributes to Andrew Ashwood and not had any idea who he was. Ashwood was the executive in charge of FSR, with a successful track record in multiple cities before that. He died late last week as a result of a heart attack. I had not spoken with Ashwood in several years, but did get to know him a little bit at a yearly sports radio conference. When I was going through a very frustrating time career wise four years ago, Ashwood provided me some helpful advice and encouragement. The guy was a big timer, and had absolutely zero reason to pay attention to me at all. Ashwood did so because he was a good person and because he was passionate about sports radio. The world is a poorer place without him in it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blogging from Gainesville - it's good to be home

Florida should beat South Carolina comfortably Saturday. The Gators are the better team by far at two of the three phases of the game, and the defenses are close but certainly not a big enough edge for the Gamecocks to make up the other gaps. It's interesting to note that Chris Fowler has been told by the Wynn Las Vegas sports book that UF would be favored in the title game over everyone but Southern Cal, with Okalahoma a pick 'em game. The Trojans are good, but I think that stems from the enormous amount of southern California money that flows into Vegas affecting the numbers. USC's done little this season to merit being ahead of the Big 12's best.

The FSU brawl investigation continues, and there's clearly going to be fallout for the Seminole football team. Whoever threw the chair which hit a woman in the head and severely injured her - and there's a football name out there, but we'll see if the investigation confirms it - is going to get hammered. Anyone charged with a felony can't play, as Bobby so memorably joked about in the Peter Warrick case. My guess is this a big enough fiasco that FSU plays poorly against a strong Boston College defense Saturday night. BC will be motivated after blowing it at home against FSU last season - if their offense can muster a little energy I think they win.

I don't understand the wave of enthusiasm that a lot of commentators and media across the country have for Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has interviewed for the Clemson job already and his name is thrown around for Tennessee, Washington and Syracuse whenever they're discussed. Am I missing something? Kiffin wasn't considered a red hot college head coaching prospect when he left USC for the nuthouse in Oakland after the 2006 season. He went 5-15 in the pros, admittedly in a disastrous situation. I believe Kiffin is a great coach - Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, that is. Just because the dad was doesn't mean the son is, as the Shula boys proved so well. Most observers of the USC program thought the offense got worse under Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian once Pete Carroll and Norm Chow parted ways. Know how many national championships the Trojans have won under Carroll without Norm Chow as OC? That'd be zero. Maybe Kiffin is the next Bill Walsh, but I sure haven't seen any evidence that he's ready for a high level BCS head coaching job at 33.

I wish tonight's UF-Toledo basketball game started at seven rather than six, but as soon as I wrap up my live show at Mother's Pub I'm going to race over there for the second half. I'm definitely going to enjoy being in Gainesville this weekend - hopefully you'll have a good one as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wonder why UF wasn't stereotype worthy

South Carolina has suffered some noteworthy injuries as they get ready for the UF game. Moe Brown's their best deep threat at wide receivr, and even though he doesn't have great hands there's at least the chance of him breaking a big play. Now it looks like he'll be out, plus the Gamecocks have serious depth issues at free safety thanks to a first half suspension and an injury. Unless UF turns it over a lot, this game won't be pretty. By the way, I'll be live at Mother's Pub in Gainesville from 4 to 6:30 Friday doing my show back to Columbia, so feel free to drop by if you feel like saying hello.

FSU's plan to wear their black "Unconquered" uniforms again this Saturday against Boston College was something I'd originally intended to mention on today's blog. Give Bobby Bowden credit for acknowledging the reason they wear them is so Nike can try and sell more stuff, even though black is not an FSU color and the uniforms look ridiculous. I was at the game in 2006 when they wore them for the first time and lost to BC at home. I thought that would be the end of "blackouts" in Tallahassee. Leave the goofy uniform crap to Oregon, who's breaking out yet another look this week. Now, uniforms might be a more minor issue for FSU as a rumble at the student union between players and the Phi Beta Simga fraternity wound up injuring four people. The word is that multiple key wide receivers were involved in the brawl - now the question is whether any of them will miss action as a result of it.

The Awful Announcing blog does an excellent job covering the sports media world, and yesterday they got ahold of an absolutely astounding casting call memo for this year's ESPNU college basketball promotional campaign. I don't want to excerpt much because you should definitely click the link to see it for yourself, but the premise of the commercials was apparently going to be stereotypical fans of various schools taking calls from college basketball fans in a call center. This was the description of the stereotype for one school...

FEMALE. Marquette, on a scale of 1-10, she's a six. A B-, C in every category you can define a person by. Her defining characteristic is you don't really remember her. You're not breaking your arm to get to her, but you're not chewing it off to get away. She does have a winning personality though. Midwest, sweet girl.

Yeah, that sounds like a good way to portray a school's students and supporters. Trust me, there are plenty worse than that one. Since Awful Announcing got ahold of this and brought it to light, ESPNU has scrubbed the planned campaign and is claiming its marketing department didn't know about the "language and approach" of the casting call. Suuuuuure, guys. Of course you didn't.

The state of Michigan's in big trouble right now. How much help the auto manufacturers will get from the government (if any) is unclear, but it's safe to say there's no way Michigan will be on sound economic footing by election day 2010 when the state chooses a new governor. Jennifer Granholm, the incumbent, has to leave due to term limits. So who's the right person to take the helm? How's a 76 year old ex-football coach sound? George Perles's Michgan State teams were recently under scrutiny because Tony Mandarich acknowledged his extensive steroid use while playing there for him. Perles did take them to the Rose Bowl once though, so I guess he figures that all balances out. Maybe "I'll put Michigan's economy on steroids" is Perles's planned slogan?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The never ending BC-mess

One of the obstacles to any meaningful progress toward a college football playoff is the existing TV contract situation. ABC/ESPN has the Rose Bowl through 2014 and Fox has everything else. This results in ESPN trying to hype the Rose Bowl like it's a much bigger deal than the championship game, but also ensures they would not go along with any proposals to change the current system. If ESPN gets back the rights to the rest of the BCS after 2010 then that would be one less obstacle to progress. Does it mean there will be progress? Of course not, but at least if someone in power finally came up with a workable playoff plan they couldn't be shot down instantly.

I'm glad to see the Bucs feel comfortable enough with Cadillac Williams recovery that they're going to activate him for this week's game. Lots of people thought his career was over. Having said that, I still fear that given the severity of the injury Williams will be a shell of himself for however long he can hang on. Hopefully he's managed his money well, because this story reminds me of Robert Edwards a lot.

Speaking of stories that remind me of something, Evander Holyfield is going to fight against Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heayweight championship. Valuev is the freakish looking Russian seven footer. Let's see... way past his prime former American champ against mutant Russian.... hello Rocky IV! Hey Evander, Apollo dies! If you want to recreate a movie, they're casting now for Will Smith's Karate Kid remake. Evander Holyfield as a slurring, incoherent Mr. Miyagi is about as good an idea as the film is, so why not?

The Obamas have been given their Secret Service code names. I guess Obama did okay with Renegade, but if I'm Bush I think I would have asked for something better than Tumbler. I'm a little unclear on why we know these - if they tell everyone, what's the point of the code? Is it just to sound cool, like in the CB radio days?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jon Gruden wants to write this blog

Maybe one day I'll understand why every college football fanbase in America thinks Jon Gruden wants to be their head coach. The latest alleged landing spot for Gruden is Tennessee, which led him to deny interest yesterday. The fanatical fanbase will doubtless hear about this and tell themselves "that's what Saban said" and continue believeing Gruden wants the job. Among others, I've seen fans speculate about Gruden over the years at Notre Dame (he lived here as a kid for a while!), Ohio State (he played at Dayton and loves Ohio!), Florida (Gruden's a big Gator guy and grew up in Tampa!), FSU (Gruden's a big Nole and grew up in Tampa!), and now Tennessee (he worked here and his wife's a Vol!). Gruden doesn't like playing rookies in the NFL - he doesn't want to deal with recruiting and coaching freshmen. He also has a four million dollar a year deal through 2011 - you think he's taking a pay cut because his wife went to UT? It wouldn't bother me at all for Gruden to leave Tampa, but when he does it won't be for a college gig, no matter how delusional some fans are about that.

The Las Vegas Sports Consultants have Florida as their new number one team in the country. There's a reason for that - what UF is doing the last month is astounding. Spurrier has told people close to him that he's amazed at how good this year's UF offense is compared even to last year's. Lots of people in Columbia are shocked by the Gamecocks being 21 point underdogs, but Spurrier completely understands it.

I was asked via email( what I thought about these draft rankings from ESPN's Todd McShay not including Tim Tebow as one of the top ten quarterbacks. To be honest, I'm not sure what to think. McShay doesn't do much for me - they're trying to turn him into the new Mel Kiper so that ESPN can drop Mel's big salary, but I don't hear much from him that impresses me. As for Tebow, I believe McShay doesn't have him there because he isn't one of his top 64. He says in the article they will only list juniors he believes are first and second rounders. No junior QBs not in that list make his top ten. If I'm incorect and McShay actually believes Stephen McGee of Texas A&M is a better draft prospect than Tebow, than McShay is too stupid to boil water.

Can someone explain why Dan Aykroyd has his own line of vodka? Aykroyd has't exactly been cranking out the box office hits lately, but he should have plenty of money from the successful films he did make and the House of Blues chain. Who wants to pay fifty dollars for a bottle of vodka just because Aykroyd is marketing it?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tom Petty versus Hootie might be a better matchup

It's UF-South Carolina week, which will be a curious one for me this year to say the least. Saturday, I'll be hosting the Gator Nation Tailgate from 1-3 on the Star 99.5 in Gainesville and then on the air for 107.5 the Game in Columbia around an hour and half after the game wraps up. Somewhere in between I'll write a column for as well. UF is a 21 point favorite for good reason - I'll get into more detail about the game later in the week, but there's no way South Carolina will win without being at least plus two in turnovers for the day and likely more than that. Florida is winning the first quarter 80-0 in the past five games - if they put that average of sixteen up on the Gamecocks in that quarter the game will be over.

Thanks to Penn State's loss, UF is now assured of playing in the BCS title game if they can take care of their final four games. Even though they're currently fourth in the BCS, there's no scenario where they wouldn't make the big game should they win the SEC. Not appearing in the BCS standings? Illinois, who managed to lose to Western Michigan this weekend. I called this one on the air Thursday, because Zook teams and noon kicks against teams they should beat don't mix well. If UF gets to the title game again, maybe the national media will grasp that Meyer did a hell of a coaching job in 2006 rather than claiming Zook left him a ready made championship team.

Just for fun, here's a quote from the 2005 archives. It's from Dan Pompei writing in the Sporting News:

"Notre Dame will be better off with Charlie Weis as its head coach than it would have been with Urban Meyer. Based on his work in New England, Weis should have one of the most prominent offenses in college football with the talent he'll get at Notre Dame. And he will get talent. In my dealings with Weis, I've found him to be a natural salesman. His charm will serve him well in recruiting. His toughness will serve him well in motivating. This is an excellent hire."

Good call, Dan! (In fairness to Pompei, who now writes for the Chicago Tribune, he was far from the only guy to float this nonsense out there in 2005 but he was the first one I found in a google search.) Weis has apparently decided to start calling plays again, as offensive coordinator Mike Haywood becomes the latest scapegoat in South Bend. Three defensive schemes in four years, lots of underqualified cronies on the coaching staff and unfulfilled boasts of a "decided schematic advantage" over other schools thanks to the Super Genius head coach - that is the Charlie Weis leagacy at Notre Dame thus far.

Michael Phelps hangs out in Columbia periodically, evidently because he has some friends here. He was on the sidelines for the Gamecock game with Arkansas and was naturally asked by a few reporters if he could give them a comment on his gameday experience. His response: anyone who wants an interview with him should call his publicist and try to arrange one. It probably tok him longer to avoid the question than it would have to just be cool and answer it. You're still a swimmer, Michael - the clock on that fifteen minutes is ticking faster than you think.

Keyshawn Johnson is getting his own show on A&E that involves him showing off his skills as an interior designer. A little Keyshawn on ESPN Sundays goes a long way with me. His Tampa restaurant Profusion tanked - I suspect this venture will do just as well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will UF ever end a year with all its basketball players?

With the number of commitments Florida has been building up for the future in basketball, it was obvious some players from the current team would not be around next season. The timing of Jai Lucas's departure wasn't expected, though. Lucas isn't a terrible player, but he was not the performer I expected him to be based on his buildup coming into last year either. I'm really looking forward to seeing Erving Walker, who appears very similar to South Carolina's Devan Downey to me, in person next week. If he's as good as I hear, Lucas won't be missed too badly. Hopefully he finds a good fit wherever he transfers, as he seems like a good kid.

The mood in Jacksonville is foul, with Jack Del Rio complaining about team chemistry being lacking early this week. Now Mike Peterson got told to take a hike by Del Rio during practice yesterday. Peterson's unhappy with his contract situation, but he's always been a standup guy throughout his career which makes him a curious choice to pick a fight with. It sure sounds like Del Rio's losing control of his locker room, and once that happens it's really hard to ever get it back.

Kansas State is letting coach Ron Prince go after the season, meaning he got less than three years to thrive at one of the more difficult jobs at any of the BCS schools. Prince was hired from Virginia, where he had been an offensive coordinator, to come to a completely different conference and part of the country while learning how to be a head coach. What did they think was going to happen? I'm not saying Prince would have turned it around in another year or two, but to get rid him this quickly given the circumstances he was thrust into is absurd. The reality is that K-State boosters see what Mark Mangino's done at Kansas and they're ticked off about it, so they got Prince canned. I have no idea who that's any good they think they're going to get to replace Prince if they aren't willing to even give them three seasons before pulling the plug. There's certainly no reason for a guy like Jim Leavitt to look at it even though he has ties to the school. College football becomes more like the NFL every day.

Lute Olson's behavior toward the end of his run at Arizona was very odd. Somehow, despite missing all last season, he not only announced once it was done that he would return as coach but forced out his announced sucessor Kevin O'Neill. Along the way, Olson convinced Jeff Withey to come play center for him. Last month, Olson abruptly bailed out again, retiring for good this time. Now, despite the fact the Wildcats will now play another season under an interim coach with no clue what will happen next year, the school's AD is refusing to let Withey transfer. The school can blackmail him into staying by using the language of the letter of intent, even though everything they did to induce Withey to sign it turned out to be a complete lie. I hope the kid takes legal action to get out of the LOI - it's a completely unreasonable stance by Arizona.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A quick note while watching Morning Joe

I've spent the past evening monitoring what was going on with the election, so there weren't a lot of things that came across my radar screen with regards to sports today. With this fascinating battle now settled and the college football regular season's end only a month away, I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands soon. Here are a few items that did get my attention, though.

The Jacques Rickerson domestic battery allegations that broke during the day Tuesday are disgraceful. Urban Meyer responded the right way by booting him from the Florida team. Rickerson has some talent, but has been a problem from the second he stepped onto campus. He's been a pain for them to deal with on the academic side and now has multiple incidents off the field as well. The one thing you wonder about here is what effect if any this has on his half brother Brandon James, but presumably he understands Meyer's rules and knows Rickerson has made his own bed.

Michigan State football typically has underachieved for the past two decades. The reason it has failed so often is because East Lansing has been a haven for talented kids who are undisciplined personally and/or extreme academic risks. Guys like Plaxico Burress couldn't get into Florida and settled for being Spartans instead. When you get lots of immature guys with suspect character together, they don't tend to handle adversity well. When a moment like this happened, the Spartans would fold under the pressure and then tank the rest of the season. This year things are different, and Mark Dantonio's coaching is the reason why. He benched his starting left guard against Wisconsin. Why? Because he didn't wear a tie with the suit Dantonio requires for the pregame walk. It may seem silly, but that attention to detail is making a difference. Just something to keep in mind as schools like Tennessee and Clemson look for a head coach - a guy like Urban Meyer or Dantonio can come in and change a program's sloppy culture very quickly.

Covering sports, I have heard of many different injuries over the years. Colt McCoy's most severe ailment from the Texas loss was a new one to me, though. How's a torn upper labial frenulum grab you? Any idea what that is? It turns out to be the piece of skin between the gums and lip above your front teeth. McCoy had to have his cut out after the game. That sounds quite unpleasant, but I've officially learned something new.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Miami Ohio at Buffalo - big game to watch on ESPN2 tonight!

Ronnie Wilson should have been gone from the Florida football team long ago. I understand Urban Meyer feels he can help young men who screw up by giving them the carrot of being involved with athletics again one day rather than just booting them. The death of Avery Atkins still resonates with him. I have no problem with that approach when it is applied to non-violent offenders, but that's not the case here. Wilson's original brush with the law involved trying to scare someone by firing an AK-47 into the air - unacceptable. Now he's been involved in another incident where things got physical, resulting in a woman getting a broken wrist while trying to play peacemaker and two others being attacked as well. I've long discussed on air my belief in the knucklehead postulate - people who are knuckleheads tend to remain knuckleheads. Wilson had already screwed up his second chance (although not with a physical altercation) back in January. There is no reason he should be anywhere near UF's (or anyone else's) campus again, and Meyer needs to step up and say so.

I'm very much looking forward to getting a first look at the UF basketball team in person November 14 against Toledo. Last night was the standard exhibition walkover, but there was still some news as Walter Hodge was used as a sixth man. The Gators will actually have depth to work with this year, and I'll be curious to see how Donovan makes all the young pieces fit together.

As noted yesterday, the only question for Phillip Fulmer after Tennessee's loss in Columbia was when his departure would be announced. By doing it Monday, the Vols can get on with their coaching search in the open. Presumably UT fans will pay tribute to Fulmer down the stretch now rather than booing and refusing to come to games. While it was hard not to feel for the man during his emotional press conference, there's no getting around the fact he is not (and has not been for quite a while) a very good X's and O's coach. Look at his four wins against Spurrier as a non-interim head coach. All were by under a touchdown, while Spurrier routinely hung beatings on Fulmer (including the 21 point win that finished him off). Considering the high level of coaching in the conference right now, nothing about Fulmer inspires confidence that given similar personnel he will beat another current SEC coach. A #36 ranked recruiting class last year shows the days of the Vols loading up on talent have been gone for a while. No definitive word on what UT will do yet for a coach, but it won't be Steve Spurrier, Jon Gruden or David Cutcliffe no matter what some guy with "great sources" posts on a message board.

Looks like Greg Maddux is ready to hang up his glove. It's been a great career, but the timing on this seems right. Now the question is whether Glavine and Smoltz will do the same. I'm no Braves nut, but those three should get the shot to go into Cooperstown together. I think they all will make it eventually, but you never know how long it will take with the way some of the snobs on the committee are about "first ballot" Hall of Famers.

I hope you vote today. I also hope, as I am, you're prepared to be fair toward whoever wins. After Clinton won in 92, Republicans refused to give him any credit for it - he didn't get a majority, it was all Perot's fault, etc. We all know the controversy that happened in 2000 and that Democrats have never considered Bush's presidency legit as a result. Whichever candidate wins tonight, hopefully it's clear enough that there are no lingering issues stemming from the victory. Once it's done, people need to give the guy a legit shot to do the job - things have been polarized for way too long. Whatever side of the the political fence you're on, I think everyone understands tonight's winner inherits a major mess and will need the support of the American people to start solving it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yeah, they're pretty good

That was quite a weekend for college football, as Florida destroyed Georgia and improved to number five in the BCS. You'd think getting humiliated by 39 points would be enough to force the defeated team to shut up and take their medicine, but Georgia LB Rennie Curran's a tough man to convince....

“I thought we were better team this game — just a few turnovers held us back,” Curran said.

You betcha, Rennie. Let me guess - Alabama got lucky too. Someone's spent too much time reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's propaganda machine (with polls like "Who will win the Heisman - Matthew Stafford, Knowshown Moreno, or will they tie?") this year.

Texas Tech's victory over Texas was pretty amazing. If you can explain what the safety was doing on that game deciding play, please let me know. Tennessee is just awful. The question's no longer if Fulmer goes, but when the announcement will be made. For Toledo's Tom Amstutz, the announcement gets made later today.

Tampa Bay got away with one yesterday, but it was ridiculous that they were ever in that position. The biggest comeback in team history should not be required to beat a one win football team being quarterbacked by Tyler Thigpen. The Jaguars are officially finished after a disastrous loss to Cincinnati - too many offensive line injuries to overcome. The idea the Jags would wind up with the worst record of the three Florida NFL teams would have seemed like crazy talk before the year, but the Dolphins are tearing it up right now. Rex Grossman led a comeback for Chicago, which was nice to see. Hopefully the media and fans won't kill the guy every time he makes a mistake, but that seems to be what they get a kick out of up there.

One thing I've always tried to keep in mind is how many people would love to have the opportunities my job gives me to be involved with big events. No one cares about any problems you have associated with it, period. So how many readers of the New York Daily News do you think were deeply moved by baseball columnist Bill Madden's complaint that the World Series press pins weren't sufficiently fancy for his liking? Cry me a river, Bill.

When I was young, I thought Halloween was great. Over the past decade, I've become progressively less fond of it for a variety of reasons. Two stories from this year's holiday made me both sad and angry. An imbecile here in South Carolina decided a good response to someone in a mask knocking on his door was to empty an AK-47 through it (as opposed to say, not opening the door). He killed a twelve year old and wounded his father and brother. Suffice to say I would be fine with this guy exiting the planet yesterday, if not sooner. Meanwhile, a woman in Michigan refused to give candy to any children whose parents are Obama supporters. Either you want to do something nice for kids on Halloween, or you don't. I don't care what your politics are, leave them out of it. What the heck's wrong with some people?