Friday, February 27, 2009

Battleship: The Movie - where's my check for such a great idea?

NFL free agency begins today, and one of the things I'll be extremely curious about is where Rex Grossman ends up. He's definitely going to benefit from getting out of Chicago and away from a fanbase that has irrationally hated him for several years. Given the right circumstances (and some receivers would be nice too) I think Grossman can still be a success for somebody in the NFL. There aren't a lot of QBs with meaningful starting experience under 35 available this year, so he should be in fairly high demand. Tampa Bay could do a lot worse than bringing him in.

The never-ending saga that is the recruitment of alleged star running back Bryce Brown has taken a new twist. He's headed to LSU this weekend, but the NCAA is going to be in Wichita investigating his "mentor" Brian Butler. This situation has stunk for weeks, so I have no idea what took them so long. Brown's already missed out on any chance to go to Miami and USC - it would be ironic yet appropriate if the hype machine around him wound up costing him the chance to play college football as all.

I mentioned yesterday that I wasn't impressed with anything I saw out of Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie Wednesday night as his team got demolished by South Carolina. After the game Gillispie teed off on some of his players and apparently one has had enough. A.J. Stewart, who went to UK from Jacksonville, has reportedly quit the team. Word from Lexington is he won't be the last out the door by the time the semester's over. Gillispie has literally never spent more than three years at any job in his entire career. He's used to success coming quickly, and he appears to have little idea what to to next since it hasn't. Gillispie's just not the right fit for the Kentucky job.

The daily "dead tree" version of newspapers is going away. The only question is just how fast it will happen in each city, and how many will successfully transition to some combo of website content and print editions a couple of days a week like Thursday and Sunday. One that won't be doing anything is the Rocky Mountain News. It was one of two papers in Denver, and it's being shut down effective today. You hate to see anyone lose their job, and while I dont have any friends who work at the RMN I have plenty who work for newspapers who are petrified right now. Beyond that, one of my favorite things to do has always been to read a city I don't live in's newspaper cover to cover. You get a great sense of what a place is about by doing that, and while I read lots of news on the internet it's not the same. I wish this was the last time a story like this would come up this year, but it won't be.

The Chicago Bulls haven't won any titles lately, but I guess when the preident is a fan you can still drop by the White House. Check out the photo up top - seems Anthony Roberson got traded at just the right time, since he scored the spot right next to Obama. As for Joakim Noah, it's a fashion upgrade from the last time he went to the president's house back in his UF days. Still no tie, though.

It's been apparent for a while now that Hollywood is scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to ideas for movies. Even with the regrettable trend of remaking perfectly good films, I wouldn't have expected someone to suggest a Clue redux, but that's on its way. They also reportedly will be making a movie based on the board game Candy Land. Can't wait for the Risk movie to find out what all that dice rolling was about. Have a good weekend - see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Number 55 better not be on the field in Tampa this fall

The news Tampa Bay cut loose a number of veterans yesterday wasn't terribly surprising. Guys like Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway are still useful players, but they aren't any kind of long term answer for an offense that desperately needs young playmakers. The stunner was telling Derrick Brooks to hit the road as well. It appears the Bucs handled this somewhat more appropriately then the cutting of John Lynch, but it's still hard to believe that Derrick Brooks won't be a part of that locker room. He was total class on and off the field and is a sure Hall of Famer. I have no idea who they think is going to be better as an option there in 2009, but he'd better be really good. Meanwhile, I bet Brooks is a New England Patriot within a week or so.

I continue to be less than impressed by Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. I watched South Carolina destroy his team last night, and marveled at the bizarre quality of his substitution patterns. Gillispie pulled Jodie Meeks just before the 12 minute timeout and didn't put him back in for seven and a half minutes of game time. At that point, with UK down two dozen, there was no reason to bother putting him back in at all. In his postgame radio interview, Gillispie was naturally asked about the Meeks move. His response: get pissy with the play by play guy. Bad coaching and bad manners are a bad combination for someone looking to stay in Lexington very long. I think UK misses the tournament unless they go on a run in the SEC event, and I doubt Gillispie is the coach there in 2011-12.

I'm not a big cel phone techonology guy. I use mine for one purpose - phone calls. I hate text messaging, even though I wind up dealing with some from people occasionally . What I have no desire at all to do is listen to music, watch videos or browse the internet on my phone. It seems hopelessly old school to people at the cel phone stores when I ask them what phone has the most reliable signal. The upside to all this is that I know exactly what my bill will be every month, and I'll never wind up getting a charge for $27,789 to watch a Bears-Lions game on my phone. How'd you like to have to explain that one to your wife?

A note in this column for the Austin American-Statesman says that Mack Brown still hasn't decided if he'll accept a coaches poll vote this year or not. Brown supposedly now favors doing away with the current poll in favor of letting retired coaches vote. The Legends Poll already does that without anyone paying attention to it, but they would be great in that role. Brown is right to be skeptical about the merits of the current coaches poll - it's loaded with conflicts of interest and should have been ditched long ago.

An Iranian effort to create the world's longest sandwich was ruined by people who couldn't hold off on chowing down until after the Guinness judges had a chance to verify its status. With 700 kilograms of ostrich meat as part of the ingredients, who could be expected to resist?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Time to lose the black uniforms

Florida basketball's loss to LSU wasn't surprising, but it was another missed opportunity in a season with far too many of them. Tennessee in Gainesville Sunday now becomes a virtual must win. The Vols are disjointed away from Knoxville, humiliated UF the last time out so motivation shouldn't be an issue, and their own coach says they don't play unselfishly or compete well. If you're a tournament team, you beat Tennessee in your building. Florida could still get to the NCAAs without beating UT, but I think they have to treat it as if they wouldn't and play accordingly. I had ESPN bracketology guru Joe Lunardi on my Columbia program yesterday - for whatever it's worth he does believe the SEC will get all five teams currently projected into the field in when it counts.

I enjoyed the Celtics winning the title last season, but they apparently want to make it a little harder to do this year. Stephon Marbury is evidently on his way to Boston. This move puts a guy who was too selfish to deal with the fact Kevin Garnett was a biger star than him back in Minnesota in the same locker room with KG again. It rewards a guy whose conduct toward women was documented in court to be despicable. Yet again, Marbury's talent outweighs the fact he has been a cancer in the locker room with every team he's ever played for. The guy does have skill on the court, but that's just not enough to justify what comes with it. If he poisons the team in Boston, they'll have gotten what they deserved for being stupid enough to sign him in the first place.

Those of you who used to listen to Conference Call and/or Southern Sports Tonight on 900/1230 in Gainesville or elsewhere likely remember Scott McKinney. He was co-host with Max Howell for a while, and by the time the program finally went off the air a few years ago he was down to a series of random co-hosts from night to night. The show was a really good concept done incredibly poorly - way too focused on the Mississippi schools and Arkansas rather than the programs in places that actually had big fanbases advertisers wanted to reach. It also didn't help that none of the hosts actually knew what they were talking about. Scott was a BS artist who always referred to every guest as his "good friend" and seemed stunned by any information that wasn't at least 36 hours old. While I wasn't a fan, I didn't think the guy was a criminal. He'll be spending the next five years in jail for ripping off investors in his "network". There's way too many sleazy guys like that floating around the fringes of my business - it makes my skin crawl when I see them "covering" an event.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has a curious new scheme to try and squeeze money out of his disastrous Six Flags investment. He's creating a series of high end haircut places for kids, Six Flags Rollercoaster Cuts. I can see how the concept of a kid targeted barber shop might have appeal, but having them watch a video of a "virtual roller coaster" while they're in the chair seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Haircuts and rollercoasters - such a natural pairing!

Barenaked Ladies had fallen off from their heyday pretty badly before yesterday's announcement that lead singer Steven Page was leaving the group. They say they'll continue, but I don't see how that's feasible. It's too bad - they were a lot of fun when I saw them live and they wrote some really good songs before "One Week" made them borderline one hit wonders. If you've never heard "What a Good Boy" or "The Old Apartment", you should.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Missing the point

The headline on this AJC recruiting update about Steve Spurrier's comments to a junior quarterback he's recruiting misses the bigger news. The reporter's so focused on the idea Spurrier might retire that he buried the prospect's quote about coming changes in Spurrier's offense...

"South Carolina is bringing in a little more of shotgun offense with a zone read, and [Spurrier] said that I would pretty much be a perfect fit for that system."

If you believe what Connor Shaw is saying, Spurrier is going to focus on adding designed QB runs to his system. There's been talk about that as a possibility here, but if he's promoting it to recruits who won't reach campus until 2010 than I think it has to be taken seriously. This should be interesting to watch, because Spurrier refused to use the shotgun at all for years and then came up with formations out of it no one had ever seen before when he finally chose to integrate it into his scheme.

The highest paid employee of any private university in America turns out to be Pete Carroll at 4.4 million dollars a year. Interestingly enough, considering Notre Dame is a private institution, no one else from the sports world is in the top ten. No word on what hero "journalist" Ken Krayeske thinks about any of this. As for Carroll, he's busy "rocking out to Coldplay's White Shadows".

The New York Rangers have hired former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella to take over their bench, a move I think will prove to be terrific for them. Stunning that they would hire Torts when Barry Melrose is also available. Tortorella will shake things up in a complacent locker room with stiffs like Wade Redden who are making big money and don't produce. The Lightning's play since dumping him sure makes that move look brilliant, doesn't it?

Baseball has another scandal brewing. This one involves skimming money off the top of signing bonuses given to players from the Dominican Republic. The biggest name dragged into the investigation is Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden, who denies everything. The more bizarre info comes from Chicago, where the White Sox senior director of player personnel was fired last May. Financial records indicate he blew through 570 thousand dollars in 2007 operating Club Burn, "voted Phoenix's top gay bar", in addition to owning six houses in the area. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who was making 185 thousand dollars a year. The movement to sign more players from Latin America has given MLB a huge new talent pool, but it's also caused some serious problems over the years. I'm sure Bud was working on solving this too - you can be assured there's no way any of it'll be his fault.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is anyone more tiresome than a self-proclaimed "activist"?

Florida should already be comfortably in the NCAA tournament field. Saturday's cruise at home against Vanderbilt should have been conference win number ten, and I believe ten gets them in. Thanks to the ridiculous losses at Georgia and South Carolina, there's still work to do. This final four game stretch is the trickiest of anyone in the conference: road trips to the two best teams in the west wrapped around home games against Tennessee and Kentucky. I still think they win two of these, but it's really irritating that they're in the position where they have to.

I think it's important for people to be involved in their government and work to enact policies they believe in. I don't think people standing on a street corner with a sign, whether it says "end the war" or "end abortion", make a big difference but if they're not hurting anyone than it's no big deal. I do get annoyed when someone decides their personal agenda is more important than anyone else's needs at an event. Andrew Meyer's stunt at John Kerry's UF speech springs to mind. After Saturday's UConn basketball game, "activist" Ken Krayeske decided it was the perfect time to question Jim Calhoun's compensation as head coach of the Huskies. He also got pissy with the sports media for not having asked his questions earlier - only "hero journalist" Ken Krayeske can expose that successful college basketball coaches make a lot of money! The nerve of those other reporters who were doing their job by writing or broadcasting stories about a game - dont they realize they should be staging self-serving confrontations instead?

Every year at the NFL Combine, at least one of the big name prospects suffers substantial damage to his reputation and draft stock. This year's loser: Michael Crabtree. The Texas Tech wide receiver measured at 6'1 and 3/8" as opposed as his listed 6'3", and he has a stress fracture which may keep him from running the 40 at all prior to the draft. Crabtree's saying he'll still run in a month, then have surgery. The guy's a terific player, but this is going to cost him some cash. It was a good weekend for Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, with both running in the low 4.4s.

Emmitt Smith's run as an ESPN commentator is done after two years. This is a good thing. I've interviewed Emmitt multiple times, and he's not a dumb guy. For whatever reason, when he was having to speak extemporaneously in a broadcast setting he came off like a dunce. In some other role, maybe a taped piece, he might be more effective.

If you're looking for a timekiller today at work, allow me to help out. This is a Van Halen themed Asteroids game, where you control David Lee Roth as he does battle with all sorts of trouble including flying Sammy Hagar heads. It does make noise, so make sure the sound is off if your boss objects to such things.

Friday, February 20, 2009

You just never know who you'll run into

It turns out Terrell Owens has actually been hanging out in Gainesville for the past few days. Apparently he ate dinner at Outback Tuesday and Stonewood Wednesday and has been hanging around GHFC. So why is Owens in town - to try and ruin a possible championship repeat for Gator football? Apparently the correct answer is that he's visiting former UF volleyballer turned model Kari Klinkenborg. Terrell, if you stumble across the blog, you really might want to try MT's Chophouse or Mark's US Prime over Outback if you're still feeling steak. Make sure you hit Adam's Rib before you leave town too.

Five games to go in SEC play, and we're looking at a four way tie in the East. The conference has had at least one Sweet 16 team every year since 1989, so this is definitely an atypical season. It will be a surprise if any SEC team's higher than a six seed at this point. Another interesting note: the SEC's had a one or two seed 16 of the past 17 years. The one year they didn't was 2000, when UF went on a run to the title game before losing to Michigan State as a five seed.

Orlando went out and made a move at the NBA's trade deadline. They're acting like Rafer Alston makes them a legit title contender again. Sorry, not buying. I felt they were well short of that status with Jameer Nelson and I think they still are with Alston. Are they good enough to win a round in the East? Perhaps, which was fine when they hadn't given up a first rounder in 2010 to do it. I'll believe this is even an Eastern Conference finals team when I see it.

Given the economy, the budget for school-related activities is being looked at in districts across the country. That's understandable, but the idea of Orlando schools not having athletic programs any longer is preposterous. It's not likely to come to that, but the fact the idea's even been brought up speaks volumes about how serious things are right now.

NASCAR's considered the best of any sport when it somes to prompting extreme fan loyalty to sponsors. Now that rep is coming back to bite them, as a prison inmate files a 23 million dollar lawsuit claiming his crime spree was inspired by NASCAR. My favorite part of this ridiculous story...

"Riches said he bought race tickets using credit cards that he admitted were fraudulent, “but the defendants insisted they did not care and encouraged me to buy Budweiser beer and funnel cake with more stolen funds.”

Well of course they did. It's a proven fact that the NASCAR cabal will stop at nothing to push funnel cake. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This has been a slow week - something needs to happen

Florida is back in a tie for first place in the SEC East thanks to their win over Alabama last night combined with losses for South Carolina and Tennessee against SEC West teams on the road. The next week will start to see some seperation, with UT and UK playing followed by UK at SC. UF has to take care of their business this weeekend at home against a Vandy team that seems to be playing better as their young players develop.

Earlier this week South Carolina coach Darrin Horn was venting about the level of hype that goes with Big Ten basketball. He doesn't feel that their conference is better than his league, yet the SEC has been getting ripped nationally all season long. Exhibit A for Horn's case: Penn State 38, Illinois 33 last night. Every now and then you see a game where offenses struggle a bit, but that's just ridiculous. I still think the SEC is going to get five teams in, but I doubt many will be seeded any better than seventh.

Boston's owner wants Major League Baseball to have a salary cap. As usual, the villains are the Yankees. Considering what the Rays pulled off last season, this doesn't come off as the most credible time to make this argument. Teams in smaller markets have less room for error, but there's no reason or excuse why they can't be competitive if they draft and develop the right talent. If New York wants to waste huge money on A.J. Burnett, they should be allowed to do that.

Charles Barkley's back on TNT to break down the NBA, and to his credit he owned up to his DUI mistake yesterday. The problem is that Charles has been promoted by the network based around his outrageous qualities. He's going to have to strike the balance between giving people what they want and owning up to his own flaws. With the NBA trade deadline this afternoon, it is good timing for him to get back on the air and have something to talk about besides his mistake.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crazy rumor: was T.O. hanging out in Gville yesterday?

The Alex Rodriguez spectacle certainly occupied a whole bunch of time yesterday. Many words will be written about it today, and ESPN is one giant echo chamber of opinions about WHAT IT ALL MEANS. After some consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I really don't care. I don't care whether A-Rod's "cousin" exists or not, nor do I particularly wish to hear from him. I have no idea whether he's being honest about having been clean the last five years, nor do I know of any way someone could prove that at this point. The guy cheated, just like lots of others in this disgraced era of the sport, and in the end that's really all I needed to know.

It's hard to believe that Texas Tech and Mike Leach have gotten so far apart on their contract negotiations that the school is getting ready to fire him, but that's the word from Lubbock. Leach has two years remaining on his deal and wants to preserve his freedom to interview for other jobs if one that's appealing comes his way. Ever since Bobby Knight was given Leach's parking spot upon being hired, it's appeared the school doesn't grasp the value of what they've got in Leach as football coach. The Red Raiders will not find a coach this good again anytime soon - if they let their ego overload them the way Boston College did they will be sorry.

How many wins does a team need to get into the NCAA tournament? There is no single answer, but the folks at the Rush The Court blog have compiled some interesting data from the past three years. It appears 23 is likely the magic number for most SEC level teams to feel completely comfortable. For Florida that would be ten SEC wins, which is the number I've believed they'd need the entire time. Thanks to Saturday's debacle, tonight's Alabama game is a no margin for error affair. I expect them to get it done.

The San Francisco 49ers have become the latest team to say they're not interested in Michael Vick as the onetime superstar gets closer to his eventual release from prison. I always figured Gruden would grab Vick for the Bucs as a "youth movement" since he's almost 30, but Tampa Bay has said they're not interested either. The guy does have a right to earn a living post-prison, and football is the only skill of any value he can offer. Vick wasn't a very good QB even before his jailing, which leads to the question of what team would be hard up enough to give him a serious look at that position. Factor in the PR hit they'd take, and I'm not sure a Vick comeback ever happens.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No way this makes Jacksonville better

The Jacksonville Jaguar purge continues, with Fred Taylor the latest person cut loose. Taylor's been underappreciated for his entire career thanks to playing in Jacksonville, so this may turn out to be a positive for his potential Hall of Fame chances if he goes to a more popular team and has good numbers. I believe Fred can still get it done for someone, but he needs to be used properly. We'll see where he lands. I can say this: no player I have ever covered has matured more as a person of the course of his career than Fred. When he got to UF he was a wide-eyed guy from Belle Glade who would follow whoever he was with and as a result found trouble frequently. By the time he was a senior, he'd grown up a lot and then covering him daily in Jacksonville for two years I couldn't believe what a sharp guy he'd become. He will be missed more in that locker room than Jack Del Rio can imagine.

Carl Johnson has become the latest Florida player to find trouble off the field. I'm puzzled to know just what to think about this yet, since no one has explained yet what the original "sexual violence restraining order" was about. It doesn't sound good, though, that's for sure. Johnson is an important part of the plan for next season, and before this he wasn't someone I'd heard about as a troublemaker.

There's been a recent spate of ATM robberies in Richland County, where most of Columbia is located. One woman was murdered in cold blood, and over a half dozen people have encountered a pair of armed robbers as they tried to take out cash. Couple that with the usual gang activity and burglaries, and you can imagine how much time people wanted the sherriff spending on trying to charge Michael Phelps for being photographed hiting a bong. After several weeks of threats, Leon Lott acknowledged reality and says Phelps will not be prosecuted. This was a stupid PR stunt from the beginning, and I hope it gets this guy voted out of office next time he runs.

Speaking of stupidity, how about the geniuses at the NCAA having a rule which would keep Mark Richt from going to hear a player who has already signed with him give a valedictorian speech? There's absolutely no advantage being gained by Richt here, and the young man would like his future coach to be there. Exactly who is a policy like this in place to help?

Kentucky is taking on Vanderbilt this evening on ESPN. It's a potential third chapter in the ongoing "Billy Gillispie acts rude and inappropriate to ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards" saga. Gillispie's behavior has been downright odd, and Sports By Brooks claims the reason is because Edwards shot him down when he asked her out. Seems reasonable enough on her end, what with being married and all, but Gillispie may not see it that way. I would hope this story is not true, but either way Gillispie's behaved poorly both times toward a professional woman attempting to do her job. He's not a good guy, and the coach part is in question as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hope your Valentine's Day was better than UF's

I was at the UF basketball loss to UGA Saturday and could not believe what I was seeing. For a Georgia squad that failed to score 54 points in three SEC games this year to post it in one half on UF was inconceivable. Only two Gator points in the final 5:52 was hard to believe as well. Whatever has hapened to Dan Werner, the reality is this team can not count on meaningful contributions from him yet he still has to play because of the lack of bodies. UF now has to win both of their home games this week or they're in a lot of trouble. I still think they will and stay viable for the NCAAs, but there's no getting around the fact this is a flawed lineup and can't be fixed until next year when Vernon Macklin becomes eligible and Kenny Boynton arrives.

Thanks to Preston Parker's weed fixation, FSU already had a significant WR depth issue. It just got much worse, as Taiwan Easterling ruptured his left Achilles in workouts. Best case scenario would have him back for a portion of the season but he'll miss all spring and likely all of summer conditioning and workouts as well. They'd better hope Preston hasn't invited Bert Reed for any ride alongs at 4 AM lately or things will officially become disastrous.

One side effect of the never ending steroids fallout is that people should begin to appreciate the career of Ken Griffey Junior more. At one time he was being ripped for the fact his numbers fell off as got older and that he got injured frequently. But you're SUPPOSED to be more injury prone and see your numbers drop as you grow older, not suddenly double your career best mark. This is one guy who no one has ever tied to steroids, and nothing in his body or numbers says that we should. Now it looks like Griffey may continue his career as an Atlanta Brave, which would be following in his dad's footsteps again. I hope he does - wouldn't mind getting over there to see him play at some point.

The craziness known as the A-11 offense, something I wrote about previously here, has basically been put out to pasture by the National High School Athletic Associations. It always seemed way too crazy for anyone above a high school level to commit to it, but I did think we might see some element of it show up in college at some point. There will be a new gimmick scheme soon - there always is.

The economy has taken a big bite out of Las Vegas. It seems like everyday I get at least a couple of emailed offers for rates on rooms and package deals which would have been unheard of at the same hotels even six month ago. I could do four nights at a fancy place like the Venetian now for less than I could have done two at New York New York some other year. So what can the places which already were considered the lowest part of the Strip do to try and convince people to stay with them? How's a 25 dollar, all you can eat all day long buffet sound? It might sound good, as long as you don't know it's at the Excalibur. They'd have to pay me 25 dollars to set foot in that dump.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Next up, Lane brags about how he doesn't tip

For those still unclear on whether Lane Kiffin is a shrewd newcomer to the SEC shaking things up with a "Spurrier on steroids" attitude or just a tone-deaf jerk, you got another clue yesterday. In what's becoming a daily occurrence, Tennessee again "clarified" one of Coach 5-15's remarks. The person who was supposed to pick Kiffin up at the airport was 25 minutes late. He apparently thought bragging to Sports Illustrated that "within five minutes" he fired the person in charge of that would make him sound tough and decisive. Actually, it makes him sound like a really petty jerk, especially given today's economy and the enormous salary Coach Daddy Has a Super Bowl Ring! is being given. Tennessee now says no one was fired, although numerous staff have been transferred out of the football office. How many more high profile lies do you think they'll have to correct before someone muzzles this clown?

There's a potentially very important court decision which came down yesterday. As usual, when a student-athlete challenges one of the NCAA's ridiculous rules in court the player wins. In this case, the rule involves the NCAA's ban on drafted baseball players with eligibility having lawyers represent them in contract talks with major league teams. There's no reason at all for that, other than the NCAA loves to place as many restrictions on athletes as they can. Hopefully this will stand up all the way through the courts.

Congratulations are in order for Erin Andrews, who retains her title as Playboy's Sexiest Sportscaster (do not click link if going to is a bad idea on whatever computer you are using) for another year by edging out Lee Corso. I think Erin does a fantastic job with the role she's asked to play. I've known her since she was at UF and whenever we happen to talk it seems she's remained remarkably normal as a person despite the obsessive fanbase she's developed over the past few years. Keep in mind, in 2000 Erin was at the Final Four dancing as a Dazzler. Her looks have unquestionably aided her quick rise, but there are lots of gorgeous women who simply don't have the talent or the work ethic to succeed in sports. Erin's more than proved she's got both.

David Letterman's on a roll right now. Coming off that hilarious interview with Joaquin Phoenix the other night, he's now got U2 coming in for a full week of shows in early March. I'm assuming they're going to tour at some point, which is good because that's just about the number priority band left for me to see that I haven't caught at least once.

One final thing before the weekend - please don't be "that guy" constantly making a global warming comment in winter. This isn't about whether you believe the theory of it or not. I have friends on both sides of that debate, but it's never been suggested by even the most ardent proponent of climate change concern that somehow it will not get cold in winter or that every day in summer will go to 120. A few days ago it was particularly cold, and over and over I heard people say variations of "so much for global warming". Today it's 76 degrees here - unusually warm for mid-February - which has nothing to do with potential global warming either. The "joke" is seriously played out, so please let it go. I'll be in Athens Saturday to see UF get back on track in hoops against UGA. See you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back to work

For some reason I've always been really healthy. It's certainly not eating lots of vegetables or getting lots of sleep, because I don't do either one of those. Despite that, other than a food poisoning episode I hadn't had a serious illness since I graduated high school. I appreciate that more than ever now - these past four days have been rough. At one point I was having a lengthy hallucination that I was there watching Pittsburgh and Minnesota in Super Bowl IX - no idea why. Fortunately the worst seems behind me now and so it's back to our regularly scheduled blog.

There's no point in me getting all worked up about the Alex Rodriguez news in a blog post five days after it hit. The latest info on it, that Bud Selig says he may suspend A-Rod, is worth discussing. Do you believe this Saturday was the first Bud Selig has heard of this situation? I certainly don't. But since Rodriguez's name got leaked, now the 18.5 million dollar man thinks he might need to do something as a PR move. There are 103 other guys who tested positive in 2003, most of whose names have not come out. Unless Selig intends to suspend all of them, this is a ridiculous notion. Rodriguez is a dope, as his ridiculous and inaccurate complaints about SI's reporter further demonstrated, but he shouldn't be singled out for punishment on tests that were supposed to be destroyed six years ago.

For some reason the NCAA Football Rules Committee thinks what the sport needs right now is less celebrating when a player does something good. They're considering making it a live action penalty, so if a kid high steps the final five yards into the end zone and offends a ref's delicate sensibilities his team would lose the TD and be back on the 20. After the Washington-BYU fiasco last season, you'd think they would be trying to create a version of the rule which allows for spontaneity and excitement in a big moment. Instead, we get this idea, a cure that's worse than the original cold.

The Jaguars cut bait on a pair of bad free agent signings yesterday, which should drive home again how foolish teams are with these acquisitions. Jerry Porter's been known as an incredible athlete with major attitude and work ethic questions since he was in college. What do you know? Turns out that's what he still is. Jacksonville got 11 catches out of the guy. All around the league, agents phones will be ringing with clients who want to get the Porter deal - 1 million per reception. How exactly does Jack Del Rio not catch serious heat for last year? He dumped the DC, they fired the GM, but Jack seems to be able to skate on by.

I'm from Tampa, which is why I noticed this but it's a recurring theme through the years. The latest example that caught my attention came from a column by Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch...

"The Southern schools will pick off an Ohio player now and then, but it's not make or break for them; as the migration continues, the odds of them finding a great player in Tampa, Fla., Atlanta or Houston keep increasing."

Tampa's hosted four Super Bowls, has had pro sports since 1975, a BCS conference member school is located there and it's the thirteenth largest TV market in the US. If someone doesn't know by now that Tampa is in Florida, odds are that person can't read. Yet northern writers always seem to do this - not sure why, but it annoys the hell out of me when they do.

One final thought for your day: never shoot at a target on a steel pole.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Under the Weather

I apologize for no blog today or yesterday. I am currently dealing with a nasty throat infection which has completely sidelined me from the Internet. Hopefully I will be back to normal tomorrow.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lane Kiffin is sharp as a bowling ball

You almost certainly already know the core details of Lane Kiffin's bizarre public attack on Urban Meyer yesterday, so I'm not going to recount them here. I have said from the beginning I believed the Kiffin hire was a poor decision by Tennessee, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the guy turning into the circus act he has in just two months on the job. Thursday he managed to:

1. inaccurately accuse another coach of cheating
2. get reprimanded by the SEC
3. brag about getting Nu'Keese Richardson to lie to lots of people
4. insinuate that Pahokee High staffers couldn't be trusted not to sabotage their player's attempt to sign with Tennessee
5. chuckle about sending fake text messages to Richardson's high school coach posing as the player
6. falsely claim Pahokee High has been a Gator hotbed for recruiting
7. insult Nick Saban's recruiting by asserting that new Vol staffer Lance Thompson got Alabama its highly rated class (with Thompson apparently vowing never to be beaten on a player by the Tide again)
8. Issued the least sincere sounding apology in the history of sports: "If I offended anyone at the University of Florida, including Mr. Foley and Urban Meyer, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention." Well of course not - who could possibly have expected someone to take offense at being publically called a failed cheater?

That's quite a day. The strangest part of the whole thing to me is the decision to accuse Pahokee High's staff and coaches of being a bunch of untrustworthy Gator partisans when they've sent one kid to Gainesville this decade. Even if you think going after Meyer will fire your fans up, what's gained by deeply offending folks at one of the strongest schools for producing talent yearly in south Florida? College football commentators around the country used Kiffin as a pinata yesterday, with Andy Staples and Gene Wojciechowski doing two of the better jobs of it.

I ask the question again: what has Lane Kiffin done at any stop along the way during his career which indicates he is even a particularly good football coach? I can't find any evidence to support that contention. His work at USC was considered to be lesser quality compared to Norm Chow and he was perceived as being promoted by Pete Carroll as a favor to Monte. He was 5-15 with the Raiders as a head coach and showed no special play calling or strategic brilliance there. This is the biggest imbalance of achievement and attitude I have ever seen from a college football coach. By the way, Kiffin's 650 grand a year master recruiter Ed Orgeron managed to actually cost Tennessee star Memphis high school wide receiver Marlon Brown rather than successfully sealing the deal with him. No biggie though - the Vol coaches own Memphis now, just ask them.

That Bob Hayes fake sister promotes him for the Hall of Fame story from earlier in the week just gets worse. The "letter" Bob Hayes wrote his supposed sister to tout him for Canton, among many other inaccuracies, thanks Roger "Stauback". It's possible there could be some fraud involved here, yes. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No Nu'Keese, no peace!

Signing Day came and went, with the usual last second switches causing great frustration for the hardcore recruitniks around the country. Two guys bailed on UF for Tennessee, and Nu'Keese Richardon in particular seems to have upset people by doing so. Florida's fine at WR for next year, and there are plenty of equally talented athletes who will line up for that scholarship in 2010. Is Richardson a bigger deal as a recruit than Deonte Thompson was? No, and Thompson has only begun to be a slight factor two years into his college career. If your day was seriously affected by this yesterday, you need to spend more time watching the DVD of the championship game and enjoying winning.

Every year there are more and more kids who can't be satisfied just to announce their college choice, they need to make spectacles of themselves while doing so. We had one of those up here with Alshon Jeffrey dissing USC in favor of South Carolina. At least no one I cover decided to flip a coin to determine their college choice like this kid from New Jersey. Can't wait for this to catch on so I can see Tom Luginbill on ESPNU breaking down the mechanics of a recruit's coin flipping technique.

This probably interests only me, but I'm amazed that Texas is switching its football field back to artificial turf. Yes, modern turf is very different from the painted concrete that destroyed so many players knees prior to this decade, but this is Texas we're talking about. You're telling me they can't find anyone at one of the largest universities in the country capable of reliably maintaining a roughly 150 yard long grass field successfully?

We've been over the fact Hollywood seems incapable of coming up with creative ideas any longer. The latest evidence is more disturbing than ever. No, I'm not talking about the Friday the 13th remake out next week. While I'm sure it'll be awful, who cares what the latest gorefest served up for the kids is called? That means little to me, but when someone messes with Slap Shot it's a whole different deal. Already there have been two dreadful direct to video "sequels", including one with Stephen Baldwin, but now they're planning to redo the real thing. Unacceptable, especially when it's being done by a guy whose last movie credit was the remake of "Fun With Dick and Jane". Have we hit the bottom of the idea well yet? Well, Steve Gutenberg's going to direct Police Academy 8 with David Spade in a lead role so it appears we're not even close.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If Florida doesn't get Ernie Badeaux, they're totally screwed

It's signing day, one of my least favorite days of the sports year. All around the country today fans will act as if their team has won a championship or is doomed to failure based on the whims of high school football stars. It's largely nonsense, of course. For every Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin who lives up to their hype, there are Brock Berlin or Steve Shipp who fail miserably. The Birmingham News broke down the 25 first team members of this year's AP All-American team, and found that only five were originally "five star" guys on - with just one on the offensive side of the ball. As long as schools are filling their needs today and getting reasonably talented guys, they'll be fine. Whether a kid commits in October or on signing day shouldn't matter, but for the hardcore recruitniks it always does. It's all really silly.

Florida got a win they had to have last night at the O'Connell Center. 6-2 in conference is about where before the season most would have expected this team to be right now, likely swapping results of the SC road loss and the Vandy road win. If they protect their homecourt the rest of the way, Florida will go to the tournament. South Carolina's very good, and Devan Downey's terrific. That team is not a fluke - covering them is proving to be the highlight of my tenure here in Columbia thus far.

Florida gets a week to get ready for next week's trip to Rupp Arena, and it's safe to say Kentucky's struggling right now. They shot 35 percent from the floor and Mississippi State controlled the entire game last night in Lexington. That's three straight losses - having fun yet, Billy Gillispie? I'm sure this is all still Tubby's fault somehow.

I was happy to see Bob Hayes of the Dallas Cowboys finally get chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend. He changed the way NFL teams played defense - that alone should have been credentials enough to get in, but some voters overreacted to his issues with drugs. Hayes has been dead since 2002, so he won't be able to experience his day in Canton. There still will be weirdness connected with it, it appears. A woman claiming she was Bob Hayes's older sister spent Super Bowl week arguing his case to media members. She was even brought to the podium to speak for him at the NFL's announcement press conference. Now Hayes business manager says the woman is a fraud - not related to Hayes and having previously tried to fake a will and letters from the man. What a bizarre obsession/hobby/scheme to have.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wonder what Bud would make if he was good at the job?

I suspect Barack Obama wishes he'd never answered Chris Berman's question the night before the election on ESPN about a change he'd like to see in sports, because now his answer keeps coming up incessantly. Sunday during the Super Bowl pregame show, Matt Lauer once again asked the President about his thoughts on a playoff system. As the famous 1992 Clinton campaign message said, right now "It's the economy, stupid". At least there's a reason Obama has been discussing it, since people keep asking. Congressman Gary Miller, a Republican from California, has no such excuse which makes his latest bill so embarassing. H.R. 599 requires cutting off federal funding to all D-1 schools unless they create a playoff to pick a champion. Hopefully Rep. Miller's constituents will let him know how much they appreciate him being focused on the important stuff.

What would you describe as being Bud Selig's biggest accomplishment as baseball commissioner? The massive performance enhancing drug scandal? The cancelled 1994 season and frequent labor problems? The tied All-Star Game and resulting overreaction of making that game the determining factor for World Series home field advantage? I can think of absolutely nothing the man has done which could be classified as special leadership. (Pooling all MLB internet sites into one entity was something anyone in his spot should have done, and the World Baseball Classic is meaningless.) Yet somehow Selig made over eighteen million dollars last year. How can a guy with no leverage of any kind - seriously, who would even joke about hiring him away - be making seven million dollars more than any other head of a pro league?

Tom Verducci's book The Yankee Years, an account of Joe Torre's run in the Bronx, is out today. While lots of attention's been paid to his thoughts on guys like Alex Rodriguez and Carl Pavano, very little has been said about the inside scoop on the game day routine of Roger Clemens. After boiling himself in the whirlpool, the Rocket would have the trainer "rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles". For the money Selig's getting paid, that should have been part of his job.

A bad year for Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy got worse yesterday, with WLWT in Cincinnati getting ahold of his arrest video from December and putting it on the web. The single goofiest thing in the video is Kennedy telling one of the arresting officers that this will be "an international altercation". I will say Kennedy has every right to object to the behavior of the first police officer on the tape. That guy has an enormous chip on his shoulder from the beginning and acts like a total jerk throughout. The Cincinnati PD would be wise to get that guy some extra training on dealing with people. As for Kennedy's ongoing nightmare, we can only hope this does not further reduce his wife's ardor.

Last week I mentioned the banality that is Pete Carroll's Twitter feed. Ashton Kutcher, who's exactly the kind of person I'd expect to feel we need constant updates on his status, used his Twitter to break the news Lawrence Taylor will be on the next season of Dancing With The Stars. Set your Tivos now.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rumor is Alberto Gonzales wants the Southwest Conference job

I expected a good game between the Steelers and the Cardinals, but this year's Super Bowl was better than that. We got several memorable plays, including Santonio Holmes outstanding grab for the game winner. I suspect Kurt Warner made the Hall of Fame in a few years as well despite losing the game. NBC did a reasonably solid job on the broadcast, although no one seemed to grasp that the Steelers would have gotten at least one untimed down on the Harrison interception had he not reached the end zone because the half can't end on a penalty. Bruce Springsteen did as well as he could at simulating his show environment despite the limitations of a twelve minute window to perform in. As for the commercials, if this is the best the ad agencies have to offer it's time for some of their personnel to visit the career sites they were promoting. Only the Conan O'Brien Bud Light spot really made me chuckle at all, and the whole "look, cute horsies!" concept for Budweiser is more than a little played out. And Pepsi thinks McGruber is a funny idea?!

It's been a few weeks since I've mentioned my concept of the Knucklehead Postulate: People who are knuckleheads tend to remain knuckleheads. Preston Parker demonstrated Saturday that the concept remains accurate - three arrests for him now in three years. The latest, a DUI charge featuring Parker telling cops he'd "been around some weed earlier", should finish off his career at FSU. That means the Noles best returning weapons are wide receivers Taiwan Easterling and previous knucklehead Bert Reed along with running back Jermaine Thomas. That won't exactly have defenses staying up nights worrying this summer.

Florida ran into a motivated Tennessee team with a packed arena, and the results were disastrous. Twelve turnovers, two fouls on Calathes in the first three minutes, 0-4 at the line, countless missed or blocked layup attempts - if something bad could happen in the first half, it did. The Gators didn't quit, but there was no chance of digging out from under the worst 20 minutes they've played all year. UF will get the benefit of being the home team at the right time tomorrow, with South Carolina coming in for a 9PM tipoff revenge game after an emotional and impressive last second win at Kentucky.

I mentioned ten days ago that Bobby Knight was hinting about coming back to college coaching. Those comments appeared in a column by ancient Minnesota Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman. Now, a "mutual friend" tells ancient Atlanta Journal-Constituion columnist Furman Bisher that Knight wants to be the next coach at Georgia. Gee, I wonder who that source could possibly be? Knight was a great coach, but short term publicity is not what Georgia needs. A few years ago in a similar situation they decided to hire an older name and make a splash with Jim Harrick - at least Knight wouldn't embarass them as much as that did, but Anthony Grant or Brian Gregory would make a lot more sense.

Speculation swirled heading into the weekend that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has put her name up for the open post of Pac-10 commissioner. This would be a really bad idea for everyone involved. The obviously polarizing nature of any political figure being appointed to a sports position aside, this is an awful idea because the Pac-10 needs a visionary leader in that job. Tom Hansen has been in charge there forever and has not evolved his thinking at all with the times. That's been an impediment to any playoff progress as well as leading to his conference having the worst TV package by far of any of the BCS leagues. Putting anyone who doesn't have a recent successful background in sports administration, television or both would be a major mistake for the Pac-10.