Wednesday, September 30, 2009

UF-Boise for the title - gee, that sounds reasonable

This year's college football championship picture may have more flaws than usual. If Texas win out and plays the winner of Florida/Alabama, everything will be fine. Otherwise, we're in line for a major mess. Don't believe me? How does Iowa being ranked number two by the average of the four available current computer rankings grab you? Boise State is NUMBER FIVE in the polls, despite not having wins anywhere near as good as fellow non-BCS teams Houston or TCU. With no one of consequence remaining on Boise's schedule, how will they get moved down to make way for more deserving teams, many of which would destroy them on a neutral field? Are we going to have to pretend Boise is a top ten team forever because of their gimmick plays to win the Fiesta Bowl three years ago? The whole setup is just ridiculous.

Florida basketball's going to pick up a nice player today with Casey Prather committing. I really like what I've heard about this kid, particularly that he's athletic and has good length while also having shooting ability. The obvious and unfair comparison will be made to Corey Brewer because he's from Tennessee, but that's irrelevant. UF has got to get more athletic on D than they have been lately, and Prather appears to be a guy who will help them do that.

Miami trading for Tyler Thigpen yesterday probably didn't fire anyone up too much, but I really like this move for them. I've followed Thigpen since his college days at Coastal Carolina, and he's got the tools to be a good NFL QB. Whether he replaces Pat White as the preferred option for the Wildcat package or not, Thigpen is a viable starter with decent experience considering how young his career is. Developing Chad Henne will continue to be the focal point of the Dolphins offensive plans for the rest of the season, but if he struggles it wouldn't shock me to see the team consider Thigpen seriously as a future starting QB.

Binghamton basketball is not a subject I would ordinarily write about, but the program is undergoing a public meltdown the likes of which we haven't seen since Baylor. This makes the St. Bonaventure fiasco look good. Last week six players were kicked off their team after a star guard was charged with dealing crack. Yesterday, word came down that in a brilliant PR move the university had fired the lecturer who blew the whistle on being pressured by the school's athletic department to change grades for basketball players. How bad has it gotten at Binghamton? The city zoo's business manager wrote a letter objecting to people calling the basketball program a zoo because it's unfair to the zoo's reputation. Amongst the better lines: "No otter knocks over old ladies to shoplift condoms." Ouch - that'll leave a mark.

I've seen some interesting items autographed by sports figures before, but I can't remember coming across an autographed sandwich before. NBA top draft choice Blake Griffin evidently signed a turkey and cheese panini, which is on EBay for bid at $123.50 as of this writing. No word on whether it comes with a pickle or not.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Should've seen this coming when they announced we'd see Bucco Bruce again this year

Tampa Bay has decided to bench Byron Leftwich as their quarterback in favor of starting Josh Johnson. Let me get this straight, Raheem Morris. Thus far you have:

1. fired your offensive coordinator within two weeks of the season opener
2. needlessly dragged out your QB choice through the end of preseason when everyone knew you intended to start Leftwich
3. been outscored 30-0 in the first quarter this season

so your reaction is to change things again, and do so not with your first round pick but with a second year guy who's never started a game and said two weeks ago you told him he was a career backup? Is this entire Tampa Bay season some sort of elaborate prank?

While the Dolphins season isn't as embarassing as Tampa Bay's, the results are the same three games in. Losing Chad Pennington for the season isn't going to help this year's record, but it may be better for Miami longterm. They aren't going to be a playoff team, even with Pennington, so this will give them some idea if Chad Henne can do the job or whether they need to consider other possibilities next season. For Pennington, this is probably it - at least he got the satisfaction of sticking it to the Jets last season.

Donald Trump has always irritated me. The man presents himself as the epitome of wealth and taste, but he's been a lot better at hyping his supposed wealth than he has been at running businesses. His casinos in Atlantic City have been financial wrecks for years. Numerous stories have been done on "Trump properties" where he lent his name to condo ventures and suckers bought in only to find themselves in real estate nightmares. Now a new documentary on ESPN makes the case (correctly, in my view) that Trumps's arrogance and ineptitude killed the USFL. Naturally, Trump is firing back that the league wasn't up to his lofty standards and making it clear he doesn't care that it died. Had they stayed in spring, the USFL could have been very successful. It was fun to watch and had innovations like instant replay reviews and the two point conversion that the NFL later adopted. Future Hall of Famer like Reggie White, Jim Kelly and Steve Young were among its players as well as coaches like Steve Spurrier, Jim Mora and Marv Levy. The only thing "third rate" about the league was Trump's delusion about moving the league to the fall as a way of forcing the NFL into a merger so he could have an NFL franchise in NYC on the cheap. The least the jerk could do is admit his error, but that'll never happen.

I use Twitter as an aggregator for information. It's very helpful for breaking news - for example, I knew about Stafon Johnson's injury long before it hit websites thanks to a couple of the outlets I follow. Some of you who read the blog have tracked me down and opted to follow me on Twitter at heathradio. I appreciate the effort, but I don't send out messages and have no plans to change that anytime soon. I'm fascinated that athletes love to send out messages, particularly the ones who are crazy enough to rip the teams they play for or their coaches. Texas Tech had multiple guys pull that stunt this week, so Mike Leach has shut Twitter down for the entire team, effective immediately. Less than an hour after UF beat Kentucky, Randall Cobb of the Wildcats shared this thought: "embarrassin somethin gotta change real quick...". As Leach showed, what might change is Randall not being able to Twitter any longer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

May have more later

Florida's crushing of Kentucky became an irrelevant sideshow the second Tim Tebow went down with an injury. It was pretty clear from the time he left the field that it was a concussion, which doctors have since verified. Having a bye week is a gigantic asset for UF, since they can get Tebow a week of rest with no consequences at all as well as heal up overall from the flu epidemic. I suspect Tebow will play in Baton Rouge, but if LSU doesn't play better than they have this year I don't see any reason why UF couldn't get a victory with John Brantley under center as well.

My visit to Blacksburg for Virginia Tech's thumping of Miami was a good one. My friend had lined up club seats for us, which meant we were able to see some of the other games while waiting for ours to start. When we walked in and saw USF was leading FSU 14-0, I honestly couldn't believe it. Watching from that point, I saw an offense that didn't appear to know what they're purpose was. Poor blocking, curious playcalling, guys not making plays that were available - it was all there. Bobby Bowden may feel this kind of explanation is good enough for his school's fans, but considering FSU has lost their last four games at home against D-1 teams I don't think so. As for what I saw on the field in Blacksburg, VT has got to ease up on playing the gobbling turkey sound effect when they're trying to fire up the crowd. It makes you want to laugh more than it does prompt noise making. All of a suddden the Hokies are number six with only one ranked team the rest of the year. Not saying they'll capitalize, but there's a great chance they could be in the BCS title game if they win out (which they probably won't).

Tampa Bay's performance against the Giants was every bit the pathetic display I anticipated going into it. I've gotten a couple of emails over the past months asking why I've been ripping the Bucs. I assure you it's not something I relish doing, but I'm honest about what I see. With the schedule this team has, I expected it to get off to a dreadful start. It has lived down to my expectations and will keep on doing so. At least someone in Florida has finally won a game thanks to Jacksonville.

Friday, September 25, 2009

If Ole Miss was a true top five team, I'm really a Chippendale

Greetings from Williams-Brice Stadium, where South Carolina just began the weekend by exposing Ole Miss for the fraud most of us suspected they were as a top ten team. Common sense tells you if a team loses first round picks on both lines as well as an NFL wide receiver they probably are not better than they were the year before. Ole Miss did, and they aren't. I'm guessing the Jevan Snead for Heisman site can be shut down any minute now.

Florida should be able to handle Kentucky, although it's worth noting that they've failed to cover the spread each of their last six games post Tennessee. The flu epidemic won't make things any easier either, but in the end the Gators just have too many athletes. I'll be paying my first ever visit to Blacksburg Saturday, as a buddy of mine and I are going to the Miami/Virginia Tech game. I want to see whether the Canes offense can execute when Jacory Harris is pressured, and that's one thing Bud Foster will do if he has to blitz eleven guys. Here's the viewing options for a pretty weak overall weekend from Awful Announcing.

Story: Tennessee coach says something stupid. Reaction: Of course he did - what's Kiffin babbling about now? Actually, he's off the hook this time. Bruce Pearl decided to make a wisecrack about the blend of guys on his team. Enjoy the comedy stylings of UT's basketball coach...

"I've got a tough job. I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I'm talking about the hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!"

Nothing like a little KKK humor to spice up life in the Deep South! Unlike Kiffin, Pearl had the good sense to apologize for a joke that didn't work. Pearl is unquestionably good for the conference, but he's also good for about three of these a year. Remember "Free bacon - a Jewish dilemna!" on ESPN?

Remember, college football is an amateur sport. Ballyhoo can't have a tree carved to resemble Tim Tebow, because that would be using a player's image to sell a product. That's why we know it's a complete coincidence that USC jerseys are suddenly on sale featuring freshman QB Matt Barkley's number. The school bookstore cashing in on a student athlete? Perish the thought. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Les Miles is the kind of guy who hits on nineteen

Florida-Georgia will now stay in Jacksonville through 2016. Hopefully this will put a stop to complaining from UGA fans and Mark Richt about how unfair it is to play on Florida soil, but I doubt it. It's a great tradition, one that other cities are trying to emulate as a way of enhancing a game's value (Arkansas and Texas A&M at Jerryworld in Dallas, for example). Do you think CBS would have signed up to carry Florida-Georgia seven years out if it was just another big SEC home and home? Of course not - it's the location that gives the game its history and makes it truly special.

Les Miles isn't the sharpest crayon in the box, something the LSU coach proved again earlier this week. Miles, who is supposedly a voter in the coaches poll, was asked whether his Tigers were a legit choice as the number seven team in the country. Miles proceeded to demonstrate once again why the coaches poll should be done away with...

"I can't tell you who the best teams in the country are, because frankly I don't get to see them every week," he said. "I don't know who's hot and who's not. I could no more rank ..."

At this point, Miles realized he was about to blurt out the obvious fact he does not fill out "his" ballot and started saying "I know I vote" over and over. All of this would be merely amusing if this farce of a poll wasn't actually a huge part of the BCS standings.

Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel has concluded Jacksonville is not a viable NFL market, but this is a classic case of a national guy not knowing what the real issues are. The Jaguars are in a small city, which is why they should have marketed aggressively to Gainesville, Ocala and Lake City as well as south Georgia. Instead, they've done virtually nothing. Jacksonville's expansion sibling the Carolina Panthers do a caravan, complete with a youth football camp, in places around their region like Myrtle Beach even though it's four hours away from Charlotte. Seen any Jaguars kids camps in Gainesville lately? When I worked at the Star 99.5, we offered to carry every Jaguar game on our FM signal. Instead, they opted to stay on AM 850 ("we've been on there for years") despite the fact their 1 PM games are routinely preempted on Sundays for UF women's volleyball. Does that sound like good marketing, particularly when your games are frequently blacked out in the area? I could write a full article on the multitudes of ways the Jaguars have screwed up, but you get the idea. To say a team can't succeed in Jacksonville just because fans won't pony up to watch a terrible team put together by this arrogant and inept organization is nonsense. Make someone with the mindset of a Mark Cuban or Arthur Blank the owner and they'd be just fine.

Remember Sean Salisbury? For a number of years, he was pretty ubiquitous and relatively unobtrusive on ESPN's coverage of the NFL. Late in his Bristol run Salisbury's persona started to take on a strange, creepy edge. He and John Clayton were paired up against each other for a weekly NFL segment that consisted largely of Salisbury insulting Clayton for not having played the game, unlike tough guy Sean. In 2006, he was suspended from ESPN for an incident that reportedly involved him showing someone a cel phone picture of his genitals. Not much later, he was gone from the network. After Salisbury was dropped from the lineup at 105.3 the Fan in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, more rumors swirled about what had led to the quick departure. Apparently all of this came together to lead to Salisbury making a bizarre public spectacle of himself in a series of emails to Deadspin yesterday. Aside from his threats to sue the website and become its owner, he also claims to have kept a thirteen year journal of his time at ESPN which he plans to use as the material for a tell all book that will blow the lid off Bristol. By the end of his unhinged correspondence Salisbury's language reminded me of the kind of speech a villain gives at the end of a terrible movie like Bruce Willis's Striking Distance about how he's getting his revenge on the hero cop. Public freakouts like this don't happen everyday - hopefully for Salisbury he's got a great plan for that book, because this seems like a really bad career move.

I've never been into horror movies or haunted houses. Since I know there's no actual psychopaths on the loose, having some actor jump out at me holding an axe just isn't that exciting. Lots of people go to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal or Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens every year - whatever floats your boat, I guess. Kings Island near Cincinnati has unveiled their version of the haunted house for this year. It features skeletons representing Steve McNair and Sahel Kazemi. The McNair skeleton has a hole in his helmet. The park also plans Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy and Ed McMahon exhibits of a similar nature. This has got to be the creepiest, most inappropriate thing any amusement park has ever done. Everyone involved in the decision to create the display should be fired.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

With the fourth pick, Tampa Bay selects...

Tampa Bay is in big trouble, as Jermaine Phillips is suddenly done for the year thanks to a thumb injury. Originally the word had been 6-8 weeks missed, which would have been bad enough. They still have no Tanard Jackson for two more weeks, and the Dallas radio team was talking during their Sunday night broadcast about how many blown assignments the Bucs secondary had when they had seen them the week before. Phillips is a solid, versatile player. Tampa Bay has very few of those these days, so you hate to lose one. Maybe they can get Eric Berry.

So the big news from last night's edition number two of "Joe Buck Live" was that Curt Schilling isn't going to run for Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. What a shock - his possible candidacy seemed so well thought out and he had such a keen grasp of the issues. No Artie Lange meant very little attention for Buck's return to HBO, but he apparently has been told to give the attempted comedy stuff a rest and just talk sports. Buck's just not Bob Costas, no matter how much some people would like for him to be.

I'm glad to see the College Football Hall of Fame is going to be moved from South Bend to Atlanta. If you aren't a Fighting Irish fan, there are zero reasons you would ever go to north Indiana on vacation. Atlanta is more convenient and has every bit as much college football passion as any place in the USA. When the Hall is set up there, I will have to go check it out.

One of the curiosities about NCAA rules has been the way MLB prospects are allowed to have "advisers" who are actually agents involved in their process of deciding whether to sign with pro baseball. A kid from Oklahoma State actually beat the NCAA in court after they tried to punish him for having a lawyer represent him during negotiations. The NCAA hates losing, so suddenly it appears a crackdown on "advisers" is beginning. Keep in mind that the NCAA only allows 11.7 scholarships per team, so almost no one gets a full ride. Despite that, they want to act like kids who could potentially make six figures to leave are doing something wrong by considering such a thing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why is the only rookie SEC coach with a losing record getting so much attention?

Any thoughts that Lane Kiffin has learned or grown in any way during the past few months can officially be put to rest. I never thought I'd see the day when losing to Florida by ten was cause for the coach of Tennessee to preen and strut, but here we are. Kiffin decided to respond to Urban Meyer pointing out the obvious - Tennessee did nothing to try and win the game despite being down two scores with five minutes to play - with an insinuation that Florida's players weren't actually sick. I imagine Billy Gonzales isn't either. Kiffin also played the "Mike Slive said not to do that" card, as if that was supposed to apply to honest assessments of what went on during a game, and claims he wishes UT could play Florida again. I would have figured he'd like another shot at UCLA, but that's just me. Lots of really tough talk coming out of Knoxville - just imagine what Kiffin would be saying if he wasn't 1-2.

The Jaguars season is already teetering on the edge of becoming a disaster. The news wide receiver Troy Williamson is done for the season with a torn labrum certainly won't help matters. All state of Florida NFL teams have opened 0-2, as the Dolphins made it look easy for Peyton Manning to lead a two minute drill for a game winning TD in south Florida's new celebrity hot spot/football stadium.

Some coaches think the way to motivate their players is to be a jerk. Bo Schembechler is famous for saying he treated all his players the same - like dogs. It appears coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns has no clue how to deal with other human beings. Why else would Mangini fine a player for drinking a bottle of water in his hotel room while on a team road trip? The cost of the bottle was three dollars. The fine given the player who drank the bottle and failed to pay for it: 1,701 dollars. Not quite a proportional response, but when a guy's focus is more about making himself seem like a tough guy than it is helping players deal with actual problems this is what you get.

There's plenty of ways communities have honored prominent sports figures. Street names, statues at the stadium, retired jerseys - all pale in comparison to North Carolina's tribute to pro wrestler Ric Flair. He now has his own line of NC Lottery scratchoff tickets called Wooooooo! How did this promotion ever hppen without Pete Rose being involved in some way?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lane Kiffin clearly hasn't heard the Herm Edwards speech

What a bizarre game we saw Saturday at Florida Field. Normally when teams playing UF seek to cover the spread, we're referring to disrupting the Gator offense. In Tennessee's case, we're talking about the Vegas number. It's the only explanation for their curious 4th quarter behavior, with the Vols going through full huddles and running into the pile while down two scores with five minutes to play. Clearly Lane Kiffin is terrified to ask Jonathan Crompton to do anything more complex than ordering a ham sandwich (UT's first drive: runs on 2 and 12, third and 9 and third and 19 in UF's red zone), but at some point you have to make an effort to win the game. Florida's offense didn't perform at its usual level, with the combination of a couple of turnovers, Deonte Thompson's hamstring and multiple flu stricken key guys to blame for that. Between losing Carl Moore and Andre Debose before the season began and now missing Thompson, the WR spot has taken a bunch of hits already. At some point, whether Meyer is completely comfortable with it or not, they're going to have to start mixing in guys like Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines to give teams more to think about in the pass game.

There were a couple of huge college football injuries over the weekend. Notre Dame lost Michael Floyd for the regular season with a broken collarbone. He was one of their two elite guys at the WR spot, which means Jimmy Clausen is going to have to avoid falling into the trap of looking for Golden Tate too much and forcing things. Get ready to hear freshman Shaq Evans's name a lot in the media this week. Meanwhile, Matt Grothe's career as USF quarterback is over as a result of a torn ACL. The Bulls played the worst three games to begin the year of any team in the country: Wofford, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern. Now, just as they're about to play FSU and have things get interesting, Grothe's gone and their season is likely shot. I feel terrible for the kid - Grothe was a fun player to watch and took them to a level they're not likely to approach anytime soon.

The "crowd" in Jacksonville yesterday looked like it was for an ACC Championship game rather than an NFL team's season opener. The NFL blackout rule sure seems to be helping things, huh? As for the game itself, the Jaguars put on another subpar performance which likely made the fans who did chose to come less likely to do so again. Tampa Bay continues to look like a 4-12 football team, losing soundly in Buffalo while committing over 100 yards worth of penalties. It's up to Miami tonight against the Colts to keep all of Florida from opening 0-2.

I don't know whether the NCAA concern about the "Tim Treebow" statue outside Ballyhoo actually came from the organization or someone at UF worrying about what could conceivably happen. If the NCAA genuinely raised a concern about that while USC's football program closes in on year five of "investigating" the Reggie Bush agent fiasco, something's seriously wrong here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's going to be weird rooting for Monte Kiffin's D to get shredded

Back to Gainesville for me this weekend, as I cover one of the most unusual games of my career. No one is discussing the actual specifics of Tennessee's visit to Florida. It's all about the potential bloodbath expected to be unleashed by a vengeance seeking UF squad and coaching staff thanks to Lane Kiffin's offseason antics. I don't get it. Of course the Volunteers are extremely unlikely to win the game, but it's not like they have no athletes to work with. The front seven defensively is decent, Eric Berry is one of the best DBs in the country, and the offense at least has some talented athletes. I'm particularly curious to see how the UT coaches approach this one. Monte Kiffin hasn't dealt with a spread option offense yet - what wrinkles will he show to defense it? As for Lane, do you sell out to try and pull the miracle or do you keep whatever gadget plays and interesting formations you may have in the bag for a more winnable game like Auburn in two weeks? My guess is that UF wins something like 45-14 and people are disappointed it wasn't much much worse.

It's not a great weekend for college football if you judge it by the number of games matching two ranked teams, but there's a lot going on worth keeping an eye on. Georgia's visit to Arkansas is one I'll be particularly interested in. The Razorbacks are down a couple of WRs but still have enough personnel to expose a UGA defense that was very soft against the pass underneath last week. How will FSU do on their visit to BYU - was the Jacksonville State fiasco jut a short week issue, or are they still making no progress at all? If Notre Dame loses to Michigan State in South Bend again (as they have every time the teams have played there since 1993) the pressure on Charlie Weis the rest of the way will be incredible. Here's the list of games on TV from Awful Announcing.

No game for Illinois this week, but Ron Zook still racked up a big loss. Star Illini linebacker Martez Wilson is gone for the season with a neck injury. It's no secret I'm not the biggest fan of Zook as a head coach, but the guy's also not been very lucky with the exception of two seasons ago. Imagine how different a lot of things might be right now if Dallas Baker doesn't pick up this personal foul against Tennessee five years ago this week. I still have no idea how the ref stared right at the players, saw a UT kid hit Baker and then called him only for the foul after he returned the favor. Without that and Chris Leak's unnecessary slide a half a foot short of the game clinching first down against LSU, Zook could easily have been on his way to a very successful season. Instead, he got the axe after the Mississippi State debacle. With the seat already getting warm in Champaign, Zook didn't need this Wilson development at all.

This may seem like a minor thing, but the Big East commissioner casually mentioned to the Birmingham News in a Q and A that he believes there won't be a BCS after 2014. Not because a playoff is coming, mind you, but because they may junk it and go back to the old and even more ridiculous setup where the SEC champ was in the Sugar, Big Ten and Pac-10 in the Rose, and the Big 12 in another game (Orange back in the Big 8 days, Fiesta now) with no way for the champs to play each other. The result, of course, would be that no one would ever play for a national championship again unles Notre Dame or an uncommitted conference champ (Big East, MWC?) was one of the opponents. Gee, that sounds like a wonderful idea. How does such a great sport have such a broad group of people committed to making its postseason process as idiotic as possible?

According to Tim Tebow, a woman taking a picture with him at Radio Shack tried to expose her breasts at the last second (presumably going for the "shock value" of Tebow next to a naked rack. Even more amazing was the person taking the picture: her mother. I'm sure your reaction to the story was similar to mine - what the hell was Tebow doing at Radio Shack? Have a good weekend, please keep your top on if you run into Tebow at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

R.I.P. Myles Brand

The death of NCAA President Myles Brand leaves a power void atop the organization that will be an interesting challenge for them to fill. Do they go for another school president, or possibly a conference head? Will they look outside for a business mind, expecially one with connections in TV since that rules everything in college athletics these days? I felt Brand was a grandstander in the early years of his run - the "should we play or not" Hamlet act about the NCAA tournament in 2003 as the Iraq war was about to start was particularly annoying. In the end, Brand's NCAA showed more willingness to look out for kids interests in the eligibility process than it had before he arrived. That and the APR will likely be his two biggest legacies.

As noted above, TV runs everything in college sports these days. Want proof? Check out ESPN's opening day of college basketball blitz. They've arranged for Monmouth to play at St Peter's beginning at 6 AM. That's on a Tuesday, when kids are supposed to be going to class. At 8 AM Drexel visits Niagara. This nonsense will disrupt all normal activities on campus those days - not just for the athletes, but the students too. But hey, just imagine all the new recruits and student applications St. Peter's will get from the Peacocks playing at 6 AM!

Chris Low of ESPN points out that it's not just Lane Kiffin who's dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to knowing how to handle yourself with the media. Check out this quote from the acting president of the University of Tennessee...

"Lane comes from the Pac-10, which in many respects is the epitome of great academics and great athletics, as this past weekend showed on several different levels, including to us. When we lost to UCLA, we lost to a better academic institution, too.”

Call me crazy, but I'm guessing the "acting" part of that president title is going to never change to permanent. How dense do you have to be publically acknowledge another university is better than yours? I'm sure Lane and company are thrilled to have that quote out there as they try to recruit in California, too.

I'm all for creative marketing ideas, and the folks at TGI Friday's have decided to use one for this Sunday night's game. If either punter at the opening regular season game in the new Dallas stadium this Sunday night hits the video board, everyone can come in for a free menu item. Sounds good so far, right? The problem: the menu item is their Crispy Green Bean Fries. Why would you try to convince people to come to your thoroughly uninspiring chain restaurant by featuring potentially the least desirable thing on your menu? Fried green beans - yuck.

Good game in college football tonight, with Georgia Tech at Miami. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Hurricanes handle their success in Tallahassee. Not every team is going to give Jacory Harris eight seconds to throw downfield. The Yellow Jackets have owned this series, and last season Miami could do nothing with the option. The Hurricanes have several sick guys on defense as well. In this coaching matchup I'll pick Paul Johnson every day of the week, but Miami's got good enough athletes to do the job if they're ready mentally.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If only I could know what Crompton thought of this

As I was writing this blog, I recevied another email from the Tennessee people pushing their Eric Berry for Heisman campaign. Good to know they're focused on the big things up there right now. If Berry wants to be a Heisman candidate he has a pretty simple way to make that happen: beat Florida. Make a huge play or two, shock the Gators and Tim Tebow in the Swamp, and you're on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week. "Wacky" GEICO ad parody videos, on the other hand, won't get it done. Neither will 13 tackes and no interceptions with a 1-1 record in two games.

College football isn't a huge sport in New York City. Despite tons of alums who gather to watch their teams in bars across the city, there's no "home team" for the NYC market. Rutgers hasn't been good enough to hold interest consistently, plus it's in Jersey. Notre Dame, Army, Syracuse and Penn State have followings to some extent, but they aren't getting on the back page of the New York Daily News or the Post. Despite all that, there's an effort to create "the Yankee Bowl". Big East versus Big 12 in the Bronx. Even more bizarre, a Yankee Stadium official claims a number of top 25 teams are in talks to play regular season games at the stadium. Say what? I get why schools want to play "neutral" games in Dallas, Atlanta or Chicago. Those are recruiting hotbeds. Even if you throw in Connecticut and north Jersey, NYC high school talent doesn't stack up. Also, don't the regular tenants in the Bronx tend to need the stadium available until deep in October? NYC's a great place, but this talk makes zero sense to me.

Lots of people on ESPN's payroll do football play by play on a regular basis - let's say around 20 to 30? Mike Patrick was the voice of their Sunday Night NFL package for years. So why did Monday night's second game feature an incomptent performance by Mike Greenberg along with poor analysis from Mike Golic and Steve Young? The answer, as always with ESPN, is about self promotion. Putting Mike and Mike on Arena League play by play, the spelling bee, anchoring Sportscenter, hosting a game show - these are all annoying but relatively inobtrusive ways to shove them down people's throats. It's not like we're comparing them to other spelling bee legends. To put them on immediately after a solid NFL crew only emphasized how bad their performance was. Seriously, ESPN, stop doing this every year. It made me less likely to want to watch/listen to their show, which is the exact opposite of what you're trying to accomplish.

I was going through some emails that had piled up at my account (I don't typically use that for anything, it was just the one I had for show emails down in Gainesville) and got one from Gene letting me know the Mike London article link from my post last week was going to the wrong story. I've corrected the link in the old post, but here's that Washington Post story about the Richmond head coach again. If you didn't find it on your own, it's still worth your time to read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some people have no shame

It's Florida week in Knoxville, but Lane Kiffin is busy cleaning up after the UCLA mess right now. The coach now says Tennessee players who haven't been practicing due to injuries won't play. Turns out when the doctors say something will take six weeks to heal, they might know more than Kiffin or Coach O about how that process works. What I find amusing is that Kiffin has made quarterback Jonathan Crompton unavailable to the media all week to "avoid distractions". A gag order on Crompton is definitely what was needed - just imagine if he said something stupid which fired the Florida players or crowd up!

The PR push has begun for onetime scourge of the Florida football program Tank Black's book. It appears the corrupt former agent's trying to convince people that what he did wasn't really all that bad, drawing a comparison of himself to Martha Stewart. That would make perfect sense, if Stewart had wound up costing numerous individuals she worked for all their assets while also being linked to money laundering by a drug dealer. My personal favorite part of Black's book website is the quote...

"Tank will never sell his integrity. Just as importantly, Tank Black will never rent, share, or sell his subscriber list."

Yes, that does seem roughly as important. Talk to Fred Taylor sometime about Tank's integrity.

How bad are things for Virginia football right now? Bad enough that the Cavalier mascot falling off his horse before their most recent game wasn't even in the top five most embarassing things to happen this year. It's gotten so ugly already that the student paper is calling for UVA women to give the cold shoulder to all the men on the team so that the guys will eventually get angry and play better. The only place which might be worse is Colorado, where the nightmare scenario is that Dan Hawkins's team performs as horribly all year as they already have. The school can't fire him because they can't afford to. That should make for some great recruiting this year.

The spin on Ohio State's two most recent losses to high profile teams has been that they were at least competitive with Texas and USC. They were, but the writer of the Smart Football blog makes a very persuasive case that they should have been much more than that. You're not likly to see any coach's offensive approach more thoroughly vivisected than Jim Tressel's is in that piece. Whether you agree with his argument or not, the Buckeyes have got to begin more effectively utilizing Terrelle Pryor at some point. His physical tools are unquestioned, but the decision making and accuracy on downfield throws has just not been there.

Unlike some celebrity deaths this year, Patrick Swayze's had been anticipated. The actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and the reports had been very clear from the beginning that he had little time left. Swayze was never an Academy Award contending kind of guy, but his resume of memorable films is pretty extraordinary. Red Dawn, Road House and Point Break may be cheesy, but they're incredibly beloved and quotable guy movies. Meanwhile, women still know Ghost and especially Dirty Dancing by heart. That's quite a legacy in a business where the clock on your relevance is always ticking. R.I.P. to the man who gave us immortal lines like "Pain don't hurt".

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wish I could shove this column down your throat!

Quite a weekend for sports fans - lots of interesting stuff happening. I'm having a major computer issue, so today's post will be link free and in a little different format than usual.

My visit to Athens was interesting. Wish I'd had more time to check out the town, but the football game was well worth the trip. UGA escaped with a 41-37 win, but South Carolina showed they're capable of being potent on offense and getting decent QB play from Stephen Garcia. Branden Smith is going to be a huge star for Georgia - the kid can fly. The Bulldogs could be in trouble against Arkansas this weekend, especially if LB Darius Dewberry and backup RB Caleb King aren't healthy enough to be ready to play.

FSU has got to wise up and stop playing an important game Monday and then a dog food game on Saturday. Every time they do, they wind up getting pushed to the brink before surviving against a chump opponent they should beat soundly - this time it was Jacksonville State, but Troy and others have scared the crap out of them before. Miami took their bye and is playing Thursday. If FSU wants to keep playing on Labor Day night, they need to pursue a similar situation.

Tennessee losing to UCLA cooled off the anticipation for this week's game, and UF finds itself in somewhat of a no win proposition as a result. If they destroy the Vols, they're only meeting expectations. Win by 35, and it'll be perceived as a letdown. Tennessee is not five touchdowns worse than Florida overall, but their quarterback play certainly is and then some. Gameday was coming to Gainesville, but now will go to Austin as a result of UT's loss. That's too bad, because other than possibly (and unlikely) FSU it's hard to see a game which would make sense for them to hit the Swamp the rest of the way.

Other quick weekend thoughts:

1. If I had a "pick of the week" hotline, I would have been telling anyone and everyone to take Houston plus the points against Oklahoma State this past Saturday. Houston may well be the best non-BCS conference team - they're certainly the most interesting to watch. Oklahoma State didn't know how to handle their win against UGA last week, and it showed in their loss to the Cougars.

2. Auburn is better than they were supposed to be, and with no UF game they dodge the toughest bullet in the SEC. Gene Chizik will have to show he's the right choice long term, but for the short run he'll be fine.

3. Charlie Weis's team is better than it has been, but he's still having to eat those "decided schematic advantage" remarks about being smarter than everyone else in college coaching. He will be doing that for as long as he's at ND.

4. Dan Hawkins will be fired at Colorado, the only question is when. Seriously, how does a Big 12 team lose 54-38 to Toledo and have it actually seem even worse than the score indicates?

As for the NFL, all Florida teams lost. Get used to it this season. Jake Delhomme was disastrously bad and Carolina lost - might have to get used to that too. Jay Cutler showed that getting rid of Rex Grossman didn't magically solve all Chicago's QB issues - gee, what a shame.

The title of this post is a nod to Serena Williams getting tossed out of the US Open for her verbal abuse of an official. It's one more example of how her overwhelming talent has allowed her to coast along rather than play by anyone else's rules. Had Serena really been motivated, she could have crushed Martina's records.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nowhere but up to go for the NFL

There aren't a lot of things that are potentially new to me when it comes to covering SEC football, but Saturday I'll experience one. I'll be making my way over to Athens for South Carolina's visit to Georgia. The only time UF went to Sanford Stadium I was assigned to host the postgame on WRUF, so I didn't make the trip. As a result, this will be the first game I cover there. Considering the two teams scored 17 points last week combined and neither team has broken 18 in this game the last four years, it should be a slugfest. It may sound crazy, but UGA's season rides on this game. With a loss, they could easily be staring 6-6 or worse in the face. Florida should win comfortably against Troy, but it still feels weird not being in Gainesville to cover a game. I'll be back for Tennessee, with the odds extremely good Gameday will be in town as well provided UT beats UCLA Saturday (which they should). Here's Awful Announcing's list of televised games this week

Wish I could say that Tennessee Pittsburgh game got my NFL engine going, but not quite. Hopefully there'll be some better action on Sunday. Yesterday the NFL finaly revealed its plan to help fans who are missing their teams games thanks to the outdated blackout rule. The games will now be posted online after midnight. So in essence, Jaguar fans can now watch their team's home games in their cubicle Monday morning. Especially after a loss, I doubt that will be all that popular. What I still don't understand is how the NFL can charge a fan in Jacksonville money for a satellite package of games and then intentionally refuse to provide some of them to him while giving me the same game. It makes no sense.

The Caster Semenya story appears to be getting closer to resolution, with reports indicating that the 800 meter winner as a female in the world championships is in fact a hermaphrodite. Now the question is how to handle this situation, and I don't envy the people who have to figure that out. The reality is Semenya isn't intentionally cheating yet she has an unfair advantage. I can see banning her from future events until she's undergone some sort of assignment surgery, but stripping her medal seems unfair.

Not to be all mawkish heading into the weekend, but make sure you take some time to think about what happened eight years ago today. That Tuesday morning was supposed to Florida/Tennessee media day, and I'll never forget sitting there with the assembled media and Steve Spurrier just watching what was unfloding and talking about it rather than the nuts and bolts of a football game we all knew instinctively wouldn't be played. It's astounding to me that we've gone from the kind of unity of purpose that was on display immediately after the attacks to the point where I heard people seriously argue yesterday that it's perfectly acceptable to them for a congressman from the area where I live to interrupt a presidential address and call the commander in chief a liar since they don't like him. The polarization of this country is a major concern to me, and at this point I honestly wonder if even another attack would unite people or just unleash an immediate orgy of fingerpointing and blame. I know, kind of heavy stuff for a Friday post on a sports blog, but I couldnt believe what I was hearing around here yesterday. Hope you have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More from TK the DA

The NFL gets started tonight with a pretty decent game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee, but I'm not feeling a whole lot of excitement for it right now. Not only is my team, Tampa Bay, going to be awful but they also are stuck with one of the league's five toughest schedules. Carolina, the team I'll be covering this season, had a winless preseason and looks lost on defense. They've got the second toughest schedule. Right now the best thing I have to pull for is the Lions losing ten more to break Tampa Bay's 0-26 futility streak. Even watching Percy Harvin, which should be fun, gets diminished because any success he has also means success for the NFL's resident drama queen.

Current FSU President T.K. Wetherell popped off at the NCAA again earlier this week over their handling of the school's academic scandal. I'm still amazed that FSU doesn't seem to grasp just how easily they were allowed to get off in the "punishment" for that. Yesterday the NCAA pointed out that yet again Wetherell has no idea what the hell he's talking about. Has any university ever had a president quite this clueless about what proper protocol is for dealing with controversial situations? The quicker they can get a new guy named in Tallahassee, the better off the school will be.

Remember when former UF women's basketball player Tamara Stocks posed for Playboy as one of their "Girls of the SEC"? Another former Lady Gator is going to be appearing sans clothing, although in a different publication. ESPN the Magazine is doing a publicity grab with their "Bodies" Issue next month. Basically, it's going to be lots of nude or semi-nude photos of male and female athletes. Golf World reports Sandra Gal will be among three current LPGA players to appear in the issue. There's always a debate about what this kind of thing can do for women in sports that seems silly to me. Most male golf fans don't tend to watch anything other than elite level men play golf - not seniors, juniors, developmental tours or women. Even if Natalie Gulbis and Anna Rawson played the LPGA tour in bikinis every week, it would only boost interest for a brief period of time. This will make some ESPN readers slightly more aware of a few female athletes, but it won't do a thing to get them to actually check them out on the playing field.

The most recent NFL jersey sales numbers are in. The number one seller: Michael Vick. Obviously part of this is that he's new to his team. A Philly fan who wanted a Donovan McNabb or Brian Westbrook jersey likely would already have bought them before the last few weeks. I get that. That still doesn't make it any less puzzling that there are people lining up to spend money to brand themselves as proud supporters of a guy who has the record Vick does (the whole episode with the dogs, "Ron Mexico", flicking off the home fans, positive drug test while awaiting sentencing, and so much more). What would possibly make someone want to wear Michael Vick's jersey before he's even played a down that counted for the Eagles? The fact so many people are jumping at the chance is just depressing.

Good college action tonight with Clemson at Georgia Tech. I'm really curious to see what a Dabo Swinney coached team will look like. The guy impressed me at the ACC's media gathering as being pretty sharp and having a good plan in place, but who knows how he'll handle a tight game or tough 4th down decisions. I love Paul Johnson's offense and the moxie he brought to a Tech program that had been sleepwalking for years under Chan Gailey. This should really be a fun game on what is a pretty lame overall week for college football.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

College football is a flyover country sport, it appears

It's now official that Florida will not have Andre Debose this season, as the ultra hyped freshman will have surgery to fix a torn hamstring tendon. The news has been expected for a couple of weeks, and Debose had clearly not been the player he was supposed to be well before that due to hamstring problems. It's a loss, because WR depth is one of the few things Florida lacks. This may also prompt Meyer not to praise anyone too much on National Signing Day. In 2008 he raved about Omar Hunter, and back problems led to him having to redshirt. This year it was Debose's turn. Hopefully for him, he'll be out there ready to go in week one against Miami of Ohio next season. Speaking of which...

I've mentioned before my belief that no one from the northeast sports media should be allowed to discuss college football unless I have given them a test and personally approved their fitness to do so. The New York Post made the reason for that clear Monday. As Matt Hinton from the Dr. Saturday blog points out, the Post ran an AP story preiewing the Miami at FSU game. Unfortunately, the helmets they featured in the accompanying art would lead viewers to believe that they were about to see Florida take on Miami (Ohio). Identifying Florida's helmet really shouldn't be a stumper for anyone at this point. I'm surprised to find out the NYP even HAS art of a Miami of Ohio helmet, much less that they couldn't tell the difference between that and the U.

With all the football on TV this fall, it's hard to imagine Bonnie Bernstein won't be a part of broadcasting it somewhere. The former CBS and ESPN reporter has joined the Michael Kay show on ESPN Radio's New York station. I've always been a huge Bernstein fan - she's excellent on air, is good to deal with on a personal level, and also happens to be drop dead gorgeous. True story: the first thing I ever remember saying to my wife upon meeting her was how uncanny her resemblance was to Bonnie Bernstein (good thing for me she agrees Bonnie's really attractive!). Bernstein had a serious health issue caused by DVT a few years ago, and avoiding air travel may be part of the explanation behind this. TV's loss here is definitely radio's gain.

The news former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie has entered rehab for his drinking problem isn't stunning, particularly in light of him recently picking up DUI number three, but I hope it works for him. People around the basketball community swear the guy's an excellent coach, but I didn't see much evidence of that in his two years in Lexington. Maybe the pressure of the UK job combined with his personal issues help explain why Gillispie alienated virtually everyone he came across from players to boosters to his own administration. Acknowledging he has a problem is at least a first step toward getting his act together.

Richmond football is not ordinarily a hot topic on my radar, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't encourage you to check out this profile of their coach Mike London from the Washington Post last week. He's won a national title on the FCS level and just beat Duke with that same team. There's a lot more that's interesting about London, though. Not many current coaches can describe what it's like to be a police officer, and I doubt anyone else can tell their players what it feels like to have someone attempt to kill you and fail. London's story is fascinating - I'll be interested in seeing where he goes next.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Playing Kenny Chesney every quarter has got to stop

I mentioned in the last post that ESPN apparently feels the law of averages indicate that if they keep putting South Carolina in the season opener eventually one will be enjoyable to watch. Last night Miami and FSU rewarded their patience with that game, with the Canes taking an entertaining victory. I was impressed with the progress Jacory Harris has made under new OC Mark Whipple. Randy Shannon as a head coach does absolutely nothing for me, but that was a good hire. As for FSU, the clock management at the end was as inept as I have seen in a long time. The failure to take a timeout with 45 seconds left while wasting half of the remaining time shuffling in new personnel is baffling, and the poor decisions on playcalls afterwards appears to be a direct indictment of Jimbo Fisher. Seminole fans have to be sick about where their program stands right now, because the secondary looks dreadful and there's little pass rush.

Thanks to the Sam Bradford injury, all the incessant blather about the three man Heisman race and UF versus the winner of OU/Texas is officially moot. I hated to see what happened to Bradford for two reasons:

1. you hate to see it happen to anyone, especially what by all accounts seems to be a really good kid
2. agents will be using the 2009 Oklahoma team as the boogeyman to scare kids who aren't ready into going pro for the next few years

Jermaine Gresham, the stud tight end for the Sooners, already has a knee injury and missed the BYU game with rumors indicating he may need surgery and miss quite a few more. Now Bradford could potentially miss all but half of a game of his season. Both would have been first round picks last season, with Bradford possibly first overall. That's why no one should ever begrudge guys who are ready from going ahead and getting themselves taken care of financially. Unfortunately, there will be plenty of guys who aren't first rounders that get persuaded they need to go early as well to protect themselves from injury. Hopefully they turn out better than, for example, South Carolina's Emmanuel Cook. The safety was convinced he was a hot enough draft commodity that he stopped going to class and went pro. He wound up not being drafted and was just cut by the New York Jets after trying out as a free agent. There will be many more stories like that next year thanks to what's just happened in Norman.

Other rapid fire college football thoughts...

Isn't it remarkable how Notre Dame football is perceived as being back because they were able to put together dominating performances against Hawaii in their bowl game and now Nevada at home? All kidding aside though, keeping Nevada from scoring was a legit accomplishment. I'm a huge fan of Jon Tenuta as a defensive coordinator, and he's fully in charge there now. The Irish will be better for it.

Ron Zook has officially entered his warm seat phase at Illinois. It's one thing to lose to Missouri, it's another to get embarassed by them when you're favored by a touchdown. The Big Ten is mediocre enough Zook's guys will probably make a bowl, but doubt about whether he can take them any farther than 7 wins has begun to be a majority view.

My team of choice, Colorado, looked awful in losing to Colorado State Sunday night. I've been optimistic about Dan Hawkins as he's done the right things trying to clean up Gary Barnett's mess the past three years, but time is running out. People around college football have been saying for a couple of years Chris Petersen was the power behind the throne at Boise State under Hawkins. Looks like they may have been right.

Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor has a right to be a fan of Michael Vick, but his decision to put the disgraced QB's name on his eyeblack was supremely stupid. His quote explaining it is even more so - see for yourself. Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that Vick's name won't be there when the Buckeyes go against USC this week.

There are tons of gorgeous women available for pro athletes to date. With all the possibilities who aren't known attention whores, I have no idea what would posess an NFL guy to involve himself with a person like "Tila Tequila". Shawne Merriman did, and found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a result of her "citizen's arrest" for him allegedly choking her. Funniest line in the story? "Caldwell said deputies determined Tequila had been drinking." - really? Get out of here!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Suddenly it's 1986 for Buc fans all over again

If they keep putting South Carolina on ESPN to open the season the law of averages says they have to play an entertaining game one of these years, right? Last night wasn't the night, although they still won 7-3. Spurrier showed he's willing to play power football and lay off the passing if that's what it takes to win. At least there was clear physical potential there for them to grow and improve in the coming weeks. I can only imagine what the mood is in Oregon today - the Ducks looked awful under new coach Chip Kelly in losing to Boise. That was before their star running back decided to act like a street thug after the game.

There were a couple of below the radar suprises last night. Troy lost to Bowling Green 31-14. This is supposed to be the best Troy team ever, and I'm sure Urban Meyer's just thrilled that he'll need to convince his players not to look past an 0-1 team to Tennessee. Villanova beating Temple isn't surprising in basketball, but it wasn't supposed to happen on the football field. They were talking bowl in Philly this year - never mind. Here's a list of all 43 remaining games being broadcast somewhere this weekend from Awful Announcing.

While I still believe Tampa Bay made the right move by parting company with Jon Gruden, my hope was that they would replace him as head coach with someone competent. Yesterday it became alarmingly clear that they did not. Raheem Morris's decision to fire his offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski before he even coached a single game for the Bucs demonstrated that he was simply not ready for the job. Maybe Morris can grow into the job over the next two years, but his lack of understanding who he was hiring like this can not happen. This harkens back to Hugh Culverhouse firing Leeman Bennett live at a press conference after having told him he'd be retained. The Raiders wouldn't even do something this stupid.

I'm looking forward to getting down to Gainesville tomorrow to see UF's opener. Of course there's zero drama in the actual matchup, but I want to get a firsthand look at how some of the young receivers perform on a gameday since they may not have Carl Moore at all this year. The most interesting matchup to me this weekend is Georgia at Oklahoma State. The respective coaches performance in big games indicates the Bulldogs should have the upper hand. I've been quite unimpressed with the way Mike Gundy has handled the buildup to this game - he appears to be showing the stress that comes with expectations in a big way. If Joe Cox can play at a decent level of performance, I think Georgia gets it done. I'm taking Labor Day off, so I'll also note that I believe FSU will play well enough to win in what hopefully won't be another stinkfest between them and Miami. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let there be football! Also, happy 38th anniversary Mom and Dad

Thank goodness we finally get the college football season started tonight. South Carolina at NC State should be an interesting game. The Wolfpack have a gigantic issue in the secondary, but no one knows if the Gamecocks have a good enough passing game to take advantage. SC's depending on lots of newcomers with talent to be able to play big on the road in their debuts. If this comes down to field goals, SC's in trouble. In the end, I'll give their superior talent the edge over NC State but it's a really tough game to get a good read on. Right after that it's Boise hosting Oregon, in another game that's tough to evaluate. Chip Kelly makes his head coaching debut in this game for the Ducks. What effect will that change have on their approach? The Broncos have been extremely tough to beat at home too. Should be a fun night of watching football.

Curt Schilling says he's been approached to run for the Massachusetts US Senate seat which opened as a result of Teddy Kennedy's death. That's an awful idea. There are plenty of experienced Massachusetts politicians who share Schilling's conservative political views, but they know Kennedy's seat isn't likely to wind up in the hands of a regular GOP candidate. Naturally the hope is that voters are such dopes that they'll elect Schilling just because they're grateful Red Sox fans regardless of whether he agrees with them politically. Check with Lynn Swann about how that kind of cynical campaign approach works out. Hopefully Schilling's smart enough not to tarnish his connection with Red Sox fans by taking on the role of an unlikely to succeed political gimmick.

A new study prominently plays up its conclusion that forty percent of sportswriters bet on sports. Once you look past that headline, a couple of things stand out to me. According to the study, five percent of the surveyed sportswriters admitted to betting on the sport they covered. That means the other 35 percent of that headline figure's 40 are doing something else. If the guys who cover the Yankees are in an NCAA basketball or football pool, does that really matter? The study also makes reference to 45 percent of reporters believing that accepting free tickets or meals from a team they cover would not affect their objectivity. I've never heard of a school or team offering reporters free tickets. As for the food, if there's actually a reporter out there unwilling to honestly cover a football team for fear of losing out on chicken fingers or hot dogs in the press box then I feel sorry for them. No one I've come across meets that description.

If you ever wind up feeling less than satisfied with your romantic relationship, remind yourself that at least you're not Anthony Miller. The 39 year old is serving a three to six year sentence for bank robbery after intentionally getting caught while holding up a bank with a BB gun. Why did he do that? Because he wanted to leave his wife and she'd threatened to kill herself if he did. When your marriage is so bad an actual prison sentence seems like an appealing option, things have probably gotten past the "let's go to counseling" phase of the relationship.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Western Michigan is about to be really lucky or really sorry

Rich Rodriguez hasn't been having the best luck lately. There was the embarassment of having to kick a player he recruited off his team when it turned out his coke deal gone bad led to an arson attempt at a Michigan dorm. There's the recent accusation of rampant violations of the 20 hour a week rule. What could possibly be the cherry on top of that sundae? How's a 3.9 million dollar lawsuit over a real estate deal gone bad sound? Oh, that's not a big enough conundrum for you? What if I throw in that his partner on the deal was a booster who's been banned from the Clemson program multiple times, including while Rodriguez worked at the school? That same guy now faces five felony counts. Sounds like Rich is a tremendous judge of character. How happy is Alabama that this guy changed his mind after originally taking their job in 2006?

The Tampa Bay Lightning once had a guy go to prison as a result of an an attempted scam about partial ownership of the team. The guy, who was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy, was actually an English duke. After eventually getting a competent owner and even winning a Stanley Cup, the team was sold again. Now it's apparently back to the good old days of scam artist owners with no money, as Len Barrie will reportedly be forced out thanks to being uncooperative with his co-owner and now being accused of financial chicanery. This crap never happens in other leagues - it's practically routine in the NHL. How does Gary Bettman keep his job?'s efforts to get the coaches to reveal their top 25 ballots through public records requests bear fruit again, as Andy Staples gets Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman's ballot - sort of. It's not actually his vote, but rather the list his SID gave him to vote from on the phone. Did Sherman follow the list? He thinks "he stayed close" to it, according to the A&M SID. Great - Sherman himself isn't sure about his vote, but it would count in the BCS process. How did we ever get stuck with a system this stupid?

Remember how last season ESPN was playing AC/DC all the time as music in and out of breaks during college football games, especially "Thunderstruck"? Get ready for a more mellow alternative this year, as the Dave Matthews Band has done a deal with the network for the same thing. They just came out with an album a few months ago, but it's not clear if something off of that will be the music being played incessantly. Kenny Chesney's Gameday song remains unaffected by this - what a relief.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

There are zero guaruntees in life

Here on the edge of the college football season getting started, there was a frightening moment last night. Alabama starting defensive end Brandon Deaderick was shot in an apparent attempted robbery. Fortunately, reports indicate the only wound was to his forearm and it's not a life threatening injury. Three years ago someone shot and killed Miami DL Bryan Pata - fortunately Deaderick will not be the new version of that story. Nick Saban now has to get ready for Alabama's game with Virginia Tech while his best pass rusher is missing. The only good news for the Tide is that Tyrod Taylor's such a poor passer he's not likely to exploit the absence.

I have a t-shirt and hat that feature the old Tampa Bay "Bucco Bruce" logo. Lately, it feels like the pastel pirate is more appropriate to wear as a Bucs fan than the current one they won a Super Bowl with. Cutting a second round draft choice one year later would have been a little extreme even for the awful mid 80s Buccaneer squads. Apparently Dexter Jackson wasn't even good enough to be cut from the roster as part of the major reduction to 53. Danny Peebles, congratulations. You're off the hook as the worst Tampa Bay second round wide receiver ever.

September 11th, Erin Andrews will speak about being videotaped without permission while she was naked in her hotel room. Her venue to discuss what the situation felt like? An appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. I see nothing wrong with this plan. Andrews is going to have to discuss the video at some point, so what makes Oprah a bad idea as the place to do so? AOL columnist David Whitley, a former Orlando Sentinel writer, seems to think she should be on CSI instead so the taping could be solved within the hour. A friend of mine was was assaulted and raped by a stranger in Gainesville a few years back. She barely heard from police for a year, at which point they let her know an arrest was pending thanks to a test result coming back from the lab. That's how police work in the real world goes. Why would or should anyone anticipate that the Andrews case is such an important investigation that it's being worked around the clock by authorities?

There's a new contender for the sports memorabilia item you're least likely to want to own. Remember Onterrio Smith? The former Minnesota RB was in posession of a Whizzinator when trying to get on a plane. It was the first most people had heard of the device that was supposed to simulate a penis as a way to dispense clean urine and beat a drug test. Now, four years later, Smith's Whizzinator is out of the evidence locker and has been sold at auction for 750 bucks. The new owner plans to display it as his sports bar in Mankato, home of Vikings training camp. Who wouldn't be delighted to sit next to that?