Friday, October 30, 2009

In which you learn more than you cared to about jai alai

It's been interesting to hear the buildup to Florida-Georgia this year. Dawg fans don't have much hope, and what they do have is based around the premise Florida's red zone offense will make zero progress from what it has been the last two weeks. UGA has to hope for big plays, which they're most likely to get from AJ Green or Branden Smith. Smith's a DB who they play on offense occasionally, and the guy can fly. UF has got to be aware of him when he's on the field. Brandon Boykin's been dangerous on kickoff returns too. One trend to keep an eye on with UGA is that they've tended to turn the ball over early in drives for some reason. I think UF gets the job done, and Tebow looks much more like what people expect to see from him as Florida secures the win. It's not a great weekend for college football overall - here's the list of games from Awful Announcing.

Let me get this straight: Tatum Bell the luggage thief is talking trash about the UFL's Orlando Tuskers being able to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Right, a team composed entirely of NFL castoffs would beat a team of players who aren't. That makes a great deal of sense. The only thing that would be stupider than that argument would be for people to take anything "reported" by proven liar and fraud Dan Sileo seriously. Nothing like calling Tom Hicks, owner of the Dallas Stars, "Hickey" when you're supposedly reading names off a secret list to give you credibility. It sounds like Sileo may have gotten himself in some serious hot water here, with Tampa's ABC affiliate reporting he's been suspended. I hope so - he's everything that's wrong with my medium personified.

The whole Brett Favre storyline comes to a head this weekend with his return to Lambeau Field. I have to give the guy his due - to this point he's played better than I anticipated, although the early part of the Vikings schedule was complete trash. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News does a great job of illustrating why the Packers still clearly made the correct call in telling Favre enough was enough when he tried his unretirement stunt last season. For me the game of the weekend is St. Louis at Detroit. The Rams are awful, and if they lose this one the possibility of 0-16 beomes very real. That would tie them with the Bucs for the longest losing streak ever at 0-26 - let's go, Lions!

One of the unique things we had in Florida when I was growing up was jai alai. It existed in a city here or there in a few New England states, but there used to be frontons all over Florida. Things began to tail off when the lottery was created in 1986 to give gamblers another way to spend their dollars. A lengthy strike caused a major disruption in 1988 and further damaged the sport. Sadly, it's been downhill ever since. I really enjoyed going to Tampa Jai Alai with friends, but the fronton was eventually closed to make way for a Home Depot. Now, one of the last operating venues is shutting down. Orlando Jai Alai goes away for good effective December 27, although they don't have any live action scheduled between now and then. My friends and I made a lot of trips there over the years, especially for the Citrus Invitational tournament in January where top teams from Spain and Mexico came in to play. The Ocala fronton bills itself as a poker room, although they stage the state required minimum number of jai alai performances to keep their license. At Hamilton the fraud of calling it a "jai alai" venue is even more absurd. They have six man singles games (real jai alai has eight, with singles and doubles) and there are literally no bets placed according to the results on their website. It's a shame - the game's a lot of fun to watch when played well. Only Miami and Dania are left as true American jai alai venues, and I'm not likely to be down there for any reason anytime soon. If you are, I encourage you to take some time and check out a performance.

That's kind of a downer note to head into the weekend on, so here's your chance to get a first glimpse of what the upcoming A-Team movie looks like. It should be good for a laugh, anyway. I had no idea Jessica Biel was in it - can't say that she and Liam Neeson would have been the people springing to mind if I'd been involved with casting. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Congratulations, you're having a better day than Dick Bavetta

The Tim Donaghy scandal should have been a much bigger deal than it was for the NBA. No sport has more people regularly doubt the integrity of its officials than pro basketball (not even this month's SEC football absurdity can compare). Now one of the NBA's referees got caught betting as well as providing inside info to gamblers, and yet the story went away relatively quickly. That was about to change, as Donaghy is due to be released from prison soon and has written a book unveiling what he claims to be the truth about the behind the scenes dirty deeds of the NBA's officials. Yesterday word came down that the book would not be published next month after all. Donaghy's represenative says it was due to NBA legal threats, which they deny. Regardless, Deadspin has excerpts from the manuscript which are worth reading. Looking at those, I can definitely believe the NBA wants to do whatever they can to keep the book from being published. Even if you assume Donaghy is lying about half of what he says, it's still damaging stuff.

Wouldn't have expected Li'l Wayne to turn up twice on the blog within a week, but the rapper made news yesterday with the word that he included Lane Kiffin's name in his rap song "Banned From TV". The lyric goes "smoke weed, talk shit like Lane Kiffin/whole country in a recession but Wayne different". Not sure being associated with "talking shit" is something I'd be in a hurry to be proud of, especially when it's vocalized along with a string of drug references by a guy who's on his way to jail. Kiffin, of course, brags that Li'l Wayne has boosted his street cred". Words can't do justice to just how much of a tool this guy is.

Major college basketball recruiting reforms may be passed today, something the sport has needed for years. Removing the possibility of schools hiring someone as a "package deal" with a player to do anything but actually coach would be a huge positive for the sport's integrity. It's possible the proposal about not letting anyone but current staff members work camps is a little extreme, and this won't stop some guys from getting their hooks in on kids and getting paid for them. Overall though, this proposal is very good news.

For a long time people have known that Vegas doesn't lose. If you go there and play in the casino, eventually you will lose because the math of their house edge built into the games gets you. There is one potential exception to that, which is sports betting. While they have an advantage that helps them make money when you lose, it's conceivable you could win twenty in a row if you can find a weak spread. Last Sunday, thanks to horrible NFL teams like the Bucs, everyone found a weak spread. There are more outright awful NFL teams at once this season than I can remember there ever being. The lines for those teams are going to get bigger, but then fate may shift the other way as people catch the crappy team plus three TDs and win. Tough time for this to happen with the economy already taking a bite of the "experts in the desert", as Corso calls them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Air Israel, please clear the runway!

I'm glad Nimrod Tishman has been cleared to see action for Florida this season. Billy Donovan clearly doesn't expect him to come in and have a giant impact, but at least it gives them a viable option to keep from wearing Erving Walker out before the Gators even get to conference play. Tishman's going to be a source of great curiosity for some people. In Birmingham last week, at least two different Jewish focused publications tried to get Billy Donovan to discuss him (which he said he'd been advised not do given his status still being unresolved).

Andre Agassi's admission in his new book that he used crystal meth back in 1997 has people as stirred up as anything from the tennis world short of Anna Kournikova finally posing for Playboy would. The part I found interesting was how he got away with it after testing positive - he claimed he drank a soda spiked with the stuff by his assistant (who he had since fired). The ATP let him skate, which is absurd. I'm surprised Agassi would admit this - by all accounts he seems to be doing well financially so it's not like he's desperate for the book to sell. He's also got a foundation doing great work in Las Vegas and was a tremendous positive for his sport in his final years as a competitor after being everything that was wrong with it earlier in his career. I suppose he should be commended for his honesty here, but I hope it doesn't overshadow all the good things he's done since that time in his life.'s Don Banks has spotted a major problem brewing for college football in the next couple of months. There are two factors most people expect to drive an unprecedented number of top underclassmen into this draft:

1. a possible NFL labor stoppage in the 2011 season which would deprive guys who don't go this year of all or part of their rookie year's salaries
2. the Sam Bradford/Jermaine Gresham effect - better go pro or you'll get hurt and lose millions the way they may have

Knowing that more players than usual will be eyeing the draft, it would appear more important than usual for them to get reliable evaluations of where they stand. Thanks to a dispute over the coaches tapes, which XOS Technologies now control and want 20-30 million for when they used to be free, they aren't going to get them. XOS is the same outlet behind the SEC Digital Network that was trying to say TV stations could no longer use video they shot more than 72 hours after the game earlier this season. Remember, this is an "amateur" sport and it would be horribly wrong to give the kids any money. So what if XOS's greed now results in some of those same kids making bad decisions and wrecking their shot at a pro career because they couldn't get an honest assessment of where they stood - if you want to make an omelet you have to break some eggs, right?

Myron Rolle is studying at Oxford this year while also preparing for a potential NFL future. The former FSU safety didn't really do his alma mater any favor with his comments in this New York Times Q and A about their recent poor history of developing talent for the pros...

"Darnell Dockett, Laveranues Coles, Javon Walker, Anquan Boldin, Chris Hope were good in college, but when they got to the pros they blew up. I think it has a little bit to do with the scheme that’s played. I know for me, particularly, I don’t think that my abilities were used in blitzing and in pass downs. I was 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and could run a little bit, I would like to have blitzed. My assignment on the field didn’t call for that. I also didn’t cover tight ends that much. I was covering slot receivers. It’s about your abilities and how they’re used."

Who knows whether FSU's coaching staff will be in Tallahassee next year or not? Should the current assistants stick around, they can count on having to defend themselves from those comments when they hit the recruiting trail in January.

Anyone else creeped out by Directv using Chris Farley's "fat guy in a little coat" scene from Tommy Boy in their new ad? It's one thing to have Sigourney Weaver doing a different version of a scene from Aliens - she made a concious choice to be in the commercial. Directv's decision to have David Spade basically mocking his dead friend as a way to make me want to buy their programming puzzles me. As for Spade, he's still got a TV series, does standup in Vegas and gets some film roles - he should be doing alright. How could he need money badly enough to think this was a good idea?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mike Slive - still as effective as a lawn gnome. A rich lawn gnome, but a lawn gnome

The SEC took the easy way out and reprimanded Lane Kiffin again yesterday while putting out the word that should he act out again he might be suspended. He already should have been - questioning a call out of frustration is one thing, but claiming you made coaching decisions during a game based on fear of cheating referees is to put the conference on the level with WWE. Mike Slive should have suspended Kiffin for a game, hit him with a severe fine or both. No one in Knoxville seems bothered that Kiffin's version of the helmet rule isn't, you know, accurate. Of course considering the newspaper's columnist incorrectly thinks a suspended Kiffin could call the plays via cel phone I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Stephen Colbert's concept of "truthiness" seems to be in effect up there right now when it comes to the football program.

Fifteen quarterbacks were named as semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, which goes to the country's best quarterback. Tim Tebow made the list, the only SEC QB to do so. Something is wrong when the SEC can't muster enough quality QB play to do better on this list than the MAC or MWC. The last two years no one has emerged as another high quality college quarterback except for Jevan Snead for a few weeks last year. Not appearing on the list: FSU's Christian Ponder, which is unfortunate because his individual performance on a bad team certainly merits it. Since none of the SEC quarterbacks but Tebow have stood out enough to make the final 15 for their award, it shouldn't surprise anyone too much that only AJ Green made the cut as one of the ten Biletnikoff semifinalists for the top receiver award. Guys from Bowling Green, San Diego State and Syracuse all apparently are doing as well at WR as the whole SEC.

The Knight Commission, now in its 20th year of refusing to acknowledge reality when it comes to college athletics (although I think technically they have a different mission statement), is concerned schools are spending too much on sports. No kidding, guys. Welcome to the 2000s. The system of college sports is a goofy one that's evolved over time. No one in their right mind would propose something like it if it didn't already exist. It does though, and there's huge interest from fanbases that only grows each year. All this lofty talk from the Knight Commission about cutting costs sounds really nice, but what's going to happen when one of the commission members has a coach who wins an unexpected conference title and bowl game? Will they pay market value to keep them, or smile and wish them well if they ask for more than the school president's salary? You know the answer, so do I, and so do they. It sure feels good to talk about getting serious about reining in athletics, though! Especially in Miami as opposed to say, a Chicago airport Fairfield Inn - that tropical climate really clears the head!

One of the weirder scores from the recent college football weekend was Texas A&M dominating Texas Tech. Mike Leach, coach of Texas Tech, feels he knows part of the reason his players weren't mentally sharp for that game: their fat little girlfriends. Presumably most of the players were dating these same girls the week before when Tech thumped Nebraska, but apparently they became dumber about football in the ensuing week. Leach discusses more interesting and daring things than any other college football coach, but this was not smart.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've seen this movie, not involving killer sharks, before

Florida's win over Mississippi State was about what I expected. When

1.your offense is already somewhat limited in its effectiveness
2. the guy on the other sideline knows all your tendencies
3. you're using different signals than usual because of him as well
4. it's a night game in a stadium filled with clanging cowbells

those things tend to lead to a less than ideal performance. One thing that does stand out to me is Tim Tebow not talking to the media. People seem to forget that Tebow has struggled before. He got to a pretty crappy start to last season, and it wasn't until late in the Arkansas game after a particularly irritating interception when he snapped out of it. I suspect you will see him do that this week in a big way. Having some defenders get healthy will help UF as well.

Lane Kiffin's arrogance and ignorance continue to make for a heady brew. Now he's singing the "officials are conspiring against me" song to explain what happened at the end of Tennessee's loss to Alabama. Kiffin foolishly chose to run the clock down and settle for a 44 yard field goal try by a kicker who'd already had one blocked and missed another short from 47. With half a minute to go Kiffin's team could have attempted to get it closer and have an easier kick, but he now claims he was worried refs would call a phantom flag on his team if they did so. Simply put, he is claiming SEC officials were looking to fix the game for Alabama and he should be hammered for it by the conference. Kiffin's also complaining about not getting a chance to rekick after a 15 yard penalty since Terrence Cody of Alabama took his helmet off to celebrate the game saving blocked field goal while the ball was still live. Unfortunately for Lane the rules don't work that way, but it's already been established pretty well that he doesn't know what they are.

The fun just keeps on coming for ESPN lately. The Steve Phillips saga has ended as it was obviously going to, with him being officially fired by the network yesterday and heading to a treatment facility for unspecified personal issues. Now the network's PR can deal with whatever fires Bob Griese started with his comment that NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya was "out eating a taco" when his name came up during the Minnesota-Ohio State game. Maybe Bob can team up with Joe Buck on his show for some hilarious HBO comedy antics.

If the report that Mark McGwire will return to baseball as the new hitting coach for St. Louis is accurate, I'm puzzled. He was a beloved player there and LaRussa has defended him in the wake of the great steroid panic, so you understand why they want him. How does this help St. Louis though? Not many guys hit like McGwire did, so I'm not sure how exactly he'll be able to impart his wisdom to younger players. He was never known for being especially vocal either. This a really odd move by LaRussa.

For some reason, the concept of a channel that delivers reasonably accurate weather info every ten minutes has apparently become stale. Now they're going to show crappy movies on the network instead. I can only imagine how thrilled people trying to figure out if they can make it to work or not will be to learn that they can watch LL Cool J's epic killer sharks film Deep Blue Sea for a while and wait.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Better late than never

Today's post is a little later than usual because I was completely out of gas after driving back from Birmingham yesterday. Write when you're exhausted and you might wind up saying something really stupid like Creed is an excellent band. I didn't get to see all of FSU's comeback, but the part I saw while having dinner in Atlanta was impressive. Down 24-6 on the road, the easy thing to do is mentally pack it in. FSU didn't do that. They're still not very good - UNC is winless in conference play, after all - but at least they've got some pride. One thing last night will push into the national discussion a bit is that Christian Ponder has quietly been playing very well all year.

UF going against Dan Mullen will be the obvious storyline for this weekend, although the gone and not particularly lamented John Hevesy is involved as well. The defensive injuries are becoming a major issue for Florida, especially being thin at DT against an excellent back in Anthony Dixon. This will not be a fun experience for the Gators, but Mullen simply doesn't have enough horses yet to win a game against a team of this caliber. It's a pretty bland weekend overall - here's your viewing options courtesy of Awful Announcing.

Isiah Thomas is about as loathsome as anyone active in sports right now. His performance in any venue other than on the court has been disastrous, and then you throw in moments of racism, sexual harassment, using his daughter as a shield and so many more delightful memories and it all adds up to a gigantic zero. How FIU could possibly think he's an appropriate person be their basketball coach boggles the mind. Now Isiah's mad that Magic Johnson acknowledges he was one of many players who blackballed Thomas from the 92 Dream Team. Naturally, Isiah's pure as the driven snow and would NEVER have done any of those terrible things everyone in basketball has attributed to him for years. It's as if he honestly believes people don't remember all the other times he's looked them in the face and lied to them over the years. Magic's no saint, but I know whose word I'll take between those two every day of the week.

Lil Wayne is on his way to jail for felony gun posession. Betwen him and Plaxico Burress, celebrities may start to figure out that NYC's gun laws are not some sort of suggestion for them. I wonder if ESPN will ty and find a way to have him do some more appearances on their First and Ten show with Skip Bayless via satellite from his cel. It would make just about as much sense as it did putting him on in the first place. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Will Bobby wear sunglasses tonight?

Greetings from Birmingham, where I'll be covering SEC basketball media day today. Somewhere else in town, SEC referee Marc Curles will be going about his day job as a financial planner. The conference announced yesterday that he and his crew won't have another assignment until November 14 as a result of the crappy job they did in the Arkansas-Florida (and presumably LSU-UGA as well) game. Curles spoke to ESPN's Mike Fish about what happened Saturday, and hopefully the people who are unloading on him will read what his explanation and realize they're being ridiculous. NFL officiating isn't consistently good, and college refs are a step down from those guys. It's an extremely hard job, and there aren't too many people who do it well. Frankly, even judged against his college peers Curles doesn't appear to be one of them. That doesn't mean people should be harassing him at his workplace or believing he's Tim Donaghy part 2 though.

FSU is on the road in Chapel Hill tonight for a matchup of teams winless in the ACC to this point. History is on UNC's side - Thursday night road games have tripped FSU up even when they were much better than this team is. Bobby Bowden's had a week and a half to get ready for this one, but his guys are seriously beaten up. DT Budd Thacker's apparently now gone for the year, there's likely no Dekoda Watson at LB tonight - this is very bad news for the Noles. A loss here and it becomes a virtual certainty that FSU's bowl streak will end. There'd also be no chance at a winning conference record, and there are just two home games left for them to try and regroup in this second half of the season. A win won't necessarily save the day for Bobby, but a loss tonight will be devastating.

Bad week to be a high profile sports TV personality, with ESPN's Steve Phillips having his affair with a 22 year old employee turn up in the New York Post. That would be bad enough, but according to the Post she went berzerk and began harassing his wife and son. I've never understood why ESPN hired Phillips in the first place. He's a former Mets GM who was viewed as having done a terrible job when he was dismissed. He's not a beloved former player, nor is he particularly controversial the way Bobby Valentine was when he was on air. On top of all that, Phillips was suspended from the Mets over sexual harassment issues. ESPN has had a lengthy history of controversy on that subject, including the dismissal of Harold Reynolds over an alleged episode of it. My guess is we've seen the last of Phillips as well, although they won't be in a hurry to announce that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If you can read this, your vision's too good to work for MLB as an ump

Everyone seems to be pointing toward Florida and Alabama meeting in the SEC Championship game. I think it's a mistake to assume that so early. Remember a couple of things:

1. Alabama's offense has scored two touchdowns total in the last two weeks
2. LSU still controls their own fate for Atlanta, despite the loss to UF

Is Alabama the favorite to win the West? Sure, especially since they have LSU in their place November 7. It's not a sure thing though. As for a possible Bama matchup with UF (who will be there, considering they'd have to lose at least twice just for someone to potentially tie them for the East division lead), according to a note in this column from Las Vegas, Florida is currently available as a three point favorite.

Major League Baseball has a major problem on their hands. The incompetent performances by their umpires have been steadily accumulating throughout the postseason, and last night things just got absurd. Tim McClelland butchered two calls at third base so badly they almost defy description. See one of them for yourself - when a runner is not on a base and is tagged with the ball, he is out. This is not a hard concept, yet McClelland is either blind or making things up as he goes by refusing to call two runners out at one base when neither is touching it. That seems to be what he did with the other call, calling a runner out for leaving early on a fly ball when it's very clear he could not have seen that happen - both because he's not looking at the play and because it didn't happen. The expansion of instant replay may offend baseball purists, but this kind of crap is just not acceptable. Something's got to be done to fix it, and more video review seems like the best option.

When South Carolina plays Florida next month, the Gamecocks will be sporting camouflage uniforms. I'm not a huge fan of the incessant uniform changes some teams do in the name of merchandising these days, but this is an Under Armour promotion to benefit the Wounded Warrior project so at least the intent is positive. Not sure about the player names on the back of the jerseys being replaced by words like courage and commitment - seems a little over the top to me. Hopefully it will all come off well as an appropriate tribute a few days after Veteran's Day.

ESPN aired their "Who Killed the USFL?" documentary for the first time last night. If you didn't see it on the original showing, make sure to catch it on a reairing. The clips of Steve Spurrier running the show with the Tampa Bay Bandits alone are worth it. It was cool as well to see film of the USFL Championship Game between Philadelphia and Arizona that I went to in Tampa with my grandfather when I was eleven. There's no reason the USFL shouldn't have been successful for years, but that jerk Donald Trump just had to have his way and move to the fall. Watching his smug interviews last night was infuriating, and a reminder of why Spy Magazine called him a "short fingered vulgarian".

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zebras running wild

The SEC confirmed yesterday that the personal foul call on Arkansas during UF's drive to tie the game at 20 was incorrect. I couldn't understand what they were thinking when they made the call in the first place - they clearly blew it. Having said that, I've heard people throwing out this call and a pass interference flag as proof for their conspiracy theories about the refs helping Florida win the game because the SEC wants an undefeated matchup in Atlanta. That is a load of horse crap. After the score was 20-20, there was never another penalty called the rest of the game. You're telling me that refs looking to corruptly affect the outcome of the game couldn't find a holding call anywhere on the Arkansas drive to a potential game winning FG or give the UF team they were supposedly "helping" a boost on their final drive? The botched penalty took UF from 2nd and 10 at the Arkansas 20 to first and goal from the ten. Anyone who claims that bad call's why the Gators won the game is either being obtuse intentionally or doesn't know enough about football for their opinion to be taken seriously.

The SEC basketball media has put UF basketball fifth in the East for this year. In reality, it's Kentucky and Tennessee in one clump followed by Vandy, South Carolina and UF in another. Any combination of those teams in those spots makes perfect sense. I'll be going to Birmingham for Thursday's basketball media day. It should be interesting to see what the mindset is about this Florida team, and I'm really looking forward to talking to Billy Donovan about what he sees so far. I don't think he'd ever say it to the press, but I don't think he's missing Nick Calathes all that much.

The call has officially come from one of the primary columnists who covers Illinois: Ron Zook must go. "It's broke. And coach Ron Zook has no idea how to fix it." pretty well sums up everything that's happened since he got the UF job in 2002. I really thought Zook would have a decent run in Champaign - make them a seven/eight win a year team and eventually get bounced like Glen Mason did at Minnesota when the fans got sick of going to the Sun Bowl. Instead, he gave them one spectacular fluke run to Pasadena (although not as Big Ten champs) and has been melting down from the second he stepped onto the field there. Looks like some NFL team's going to have a well known special teams coach next season.

The previously threatened political action committee for a college football playoff has made its public debut. Just can't see many people feeling so strongly about the need for a playoff that they'll spend money on this concept. The folks running this have to demonstrate a clear plan for why their approach would achieve success, because otherwise why would anyone give them money when there are so many established worthy causes out there? Maybe they should promise to spend some of the PAC's funds on lobbying for fulltime, better trained college officials.

Jim Nantz is getting divorced from his wife of 26 years, which has opened up his finances and personal life for public consumption. This story from the Stamford Advocate detailing their hearing is blowing people's minds. The testimony about him having a 29 year old girlfriend or being upset that he couldn't hang an oil painting of himself in their house is the tabloid stuff, but what blows me away is that Nantz makes just under 8 million dollars a year. JIM NANTZ! He's a solid enough broadcaster, but have you ever said "I can't wait to hear Nantz call this game?" Most people would watch the Masters or Final Four if Lenny from down at the bar was doing the play by play. Who in the world did CBS think they needed to spend that kind of money to outbid for the services of Jim Nantz?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lots of flashbacks this weekend

Florida's struggle with Arkansas didn't cost them in the BCS, where they're number one and Boise is absurdly in the fourth spot. The question is whether they use the struggling moment at the halfway mark to inspire growth and progress as they did last year or whether this team will continue to flail along on offense. The passing game is becoming a concern for more reasons than just limited WR personnel. The continued use of five wide sets when you don't have the bodies to do it makes little sense to me. Who's taking Emmanuel Moody seriously split wide? What's the point of putting him out there to do that? I'm just not seeing the route combinations that a good passing offense should have, and routinely going to a set that ensures Tebow will be hit over and over which hasn't been terribly productive (the concussion causing hit was out of it, and nine of the twelve sacks on him have been in five wide) baffles me.

When Tampa Bay drafted Gaines Adams with the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, I was not happy. It seemed exactly like the kind of picks they made with guys like Keith McCants and Eric Curry - physically gifted guys who gave you lots of reason to wonder if they would be productive once they got their pro money. Two and half years later, Adams is a Chicago Bear in return for a second rounder. Given the Bears record to this point, that pick is likely to be between 50 and 60 in the 2010 draft - wonderful value for the highest draft pick the franchise had made since McCants in 1990. Sometimes I hate being right.

Being a Bucs fan isn't easy right now with them being 0-6, but at least there's a chance things will eventually improve. In Washington, there is no chance they will ever win anything as long as Daniel Snyder is the team's owner. Two years ago he hired Jim Zorn as offensive coordinator. Typically the head coach would like a say in that, but Washington didn't have one of those yet. Since that search was a fiascod they went ahead and just made Zorn, who hadn't even been anything more than a QB coach in Seattle, the head man. It's been a disaster - losses to the Lions and Chiefs?! - so now they're taking playcalling away from Zorn. The owner's racquetball buddy who poses as a GM hired Sherm Lewis as a consultant two weeks ago - word is he'll be the next offensive coordinator. Does he know the personnel? Is his system and terminology compatible with Zorn's? Who cares - after the season they'll fire everyone and give Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden or someone else who's a big name ten millon a year to be the next stooge for this ridiculous organization. Whoever it is will win six-eight games and get fired within two years as well. What a fiasco the Redskins are.

A name from Florida's past resurfaced in Gainesville this weekend. Bobby Sabelhaus came back to town, and wrote a first person account of his recruiting and college experiences that was published in the day leading up to his visit. It's a three part story worth reading. I've always hated the fact that people like Sabelhaus hear themselves referred to "busts" every year around signing day. Some kids are simply overpublicized, others get hurt, and many wind up playing in the wrong system for their skills. They didn't create the hype echo chamber that's grown up around recruiting, and it seems unfair for them to be pilloried forever because they didn't live up to the expectations placed on them by some website or commentator.

I was a student reporter working at WRUF at the time Sabelhaus was recruited, and he couldn't have been a nicer guy. He actually wound up playing a role in two important stories for me. The first was landing an interview with Randy Moss, who UF was recruiting at the time. Nobody had Moss's number - his coach wouldn't give it out, and even the recruiting gurus couldn't get it. One night as I was working it dawned on me that Sabelhaus, who was a UF commitment at that point, had mentioned he was in touch with Moss. I checked to see if he'd be willing to give me the digits. He did, and I wound up with the first comments from Moss anyone in Gainesville had been able to get as a result. The other big story was tougher - the news Sabelhaus was planning to leave after one year at UF. I got the tip from a friend, and when I asked her how she had found out the answer was "in bed last night". How do you phrase that for air? Sources "extremely close to" Sabelhaus? Sources on top of Sabelhaus? I knew Sabelhaus had become active in the film business with the Keanu Reeves film "Constantine". From what he's written it seems things have worked out well for him, and that's good to see.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Should second graders be insulted?

Florida has a dangerous game this weekend, but they should be able to handle Arkansas. I don't understand the 26 point spread at all though. Presumably the offensive approach this week should look closer to the typical Gator attack than what we saw in last week's game with LSU. Ryan Mallett is a very talented QB with no mobility whatsoever, something Florida should take advantage of. South Carolina is trying to work some magic in Alabama, but just had last week's starting left guard suddenly decide to bail on football. That's probably not going to help things much. Here's your channel guide for all this weekend's games courtesy of Awful Announcing.

Cincinnati's win over USF was about what I'd anticipated, but it may have come at a significant cost. The Bearcats lost their starting QB for at least the near future, which could have a meaningful impact on their reasonably decent shot at the BCS. Brian Kelly's an excellent coach - he'll be watching the USC - Notre Dame game with great interest, because he'd love to get the gig in South Bend. I'm guessing the field there will look like British Open rough as they try to slow down USC.

FSU has the weekend off, but they're still finding ways to lose. Information contained in the documents released from their NCAA hearing included the news that some FSU athletes had a second grade reading level according to the learning specialist assigned to work with them. Think that'll come up a few times in recruiting? When the word that your fifth leading tackler is done for the season isn't even the worst news of the day, it's got to be tough to be a Noles fan right now.

The National Football Post reports that Louisville thinks Jon Gruden would be a great choice as their next football coach. They also think it would be swell if they discovered oil on campus and everyone on the team woke up with superpowers. Gruden would be a terrible fit for college coaching. He hated playing young guys in the NFL, and now that's all he'd ever get to work with? We heard for years how complex Gruden's offensive system was and that it took years to learn it - now 18 year olds will pick it right up? Aside from that silliness, if Gruden wanted a college job he would make considerably more money than Louisville could ever hope to pay from a much better program. An NFL job would pay even more than any college can, another reason why he's highly unlikely to be appearing on the NCAA level anytime soon. I bet Louisville could get John L. Smith back if they ask really nicely.

Try not to let the word that a-ha is giving up their musical career at the end of 2010 get you too down as you head into the weekend. Like Garth Brooks, they can always come back ten years from now and be just as relevant as they are today. Reel Big Fish can give you your "Take On Me" fix while you wait for the triumphant return. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Have you heard about their blue field? It's kooky!

Boise State has no business being in the top ten. They proved it again last night, with a 28-21 escape against Tulsa on the road. That's the same Tulsa Oklahoma beat 45-0 earlier this season. Boise is a cute little story and people like them, but at some point reality has to intrude. In the AP poll they're seven spots ahead of an undefeated TCU team that BEAT THEM last year in their bowl game. If there are truly pollsters who now believe Boise is better than LSU because the Tigers lost to UF last week, they should have their heads examined. It's time for what they call a "market correction" on Wall Street - voters need to put the Broncos ahead of the teams they believe they'd beat, and behind the rest. Oregon's at 13 in one poll and 16 in the other, so somewhere between 12-15 should work. What we've been seeing the last few weeks is ridiculous.

Rush Limbaugh is now officially out as a member of the group that was one of six or seven trying to buy the St. Louis Rams. Based on what Bernie Miklasz (the St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist who knows that city's sports scene as well as anyone) has indicated, this outfit was highly unlikely to land the Rams from the beginning for reasons having nothing to do with Limbaugh. It's pretty ridiculous for Rush to say this is a conservative/liberal thing. NFL players weren't speaking out about their opposition to him being a part owner of the Rams because he's conservative, they were doing it because they believe he's a racist based on things he's said (and another supposed quote which is in dispute). My suggestion to Rush: call the Dolphins. It appears they're looking for anyone people have heard of to be a part owner. Limbaugh lives in Palm Beach, so why not? He can sit between the Williams sisters and Fergie in the owners box.

Kentucky gave Billy Gillispie 2.9 million dollars after all, despite him never having signed his contract. I assume they didn't want to deal with anything from the Gillispie era being rehashed in the media at all, because it sure seemed like they had a very solid case to demonstrate the Gillispie intentionally refused to sign his deal and thus shouldn't be entitled to the protections of it. One of the reported sticking points was over a character clause - Gillispie's DUI earlier this year emphasized again why that was necessary. Seems like UK's lawyers should have been able to do better on the settlement than meet in the middle of the two figures, but that's what they did.

Once upon a time, before Vince McMahon decided pro wrestling was supposed to primarily feature roided up freaks who looked like He-Man action figures, there was a place for characters like Captain Lou Albano. The guy who established the music and wrestling connection back in the early days of MTV died at 76 yesterday. While I hope I'm wrong, I don't think too many prominent figures from the last twenty years of McMahon's business will live to see 76. R.I.P. , Captain Lou.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why not suggest John McKay's coming back too?

A rumor was started by Chris Myers of Fox Sports Radio yesterday that Tony Dungy might return to the Bucs in some front office capacity. Dungy denied the ridiculous report, and I have no doubt he's telling the truth. All indications are that Dungy is done with football as a full time occupation, but there's more than that to explain why this story made no sense. Dungy's too polite to remind people of the inexcusable way he was treated by the Glazer family, with them leaking word of his upcoming firing the day before a playoff game with Philadelphia. Dungy has more class in his little finger than the Glazer boys did with their snickering, giggly "oh no, we haven't talked to Bill Parcells" press conference after canning him (they were lying, of course). I'd love to have Dungy back in charge, but there's not a chance in hell that's going to happen.

One of the games I'm most looking forward to this weekend is USC at Notre Dame. It's become trendy for people to tout Jimmy Clausen for the Heisman Trophy thanks to him leading the Fighting Irish to last second wins three times. That would be fine except for the fact the wins came against Purdue, Washington and Michigan State. The best player in the country's team wouldn't be losing late against those teams in the first place. As an example of what I'm talking about, here's one of my least favorite writers Gregg Doyel proclaiming Clausen is the best passer in the sport. If he is, now's the time to prove it. Do something special against a USC team that's held ND to 3 points in the last two games combined. Otherwise, Clausen is a good quarterback in his third year as a starter for a mediocre football team. That's nothing to be ashamed of, but its nothing to hype up either.

Mike Locksley's nightmarish first year as a head coach continues, with him being suspended for ten days as punishment for getting physical with his New Mexico team's WR coach. I liked Locksley when he was at UF, but New Mexico felt like a weird fit for him from the time he took the job. He's got a number of former Gators on his staff there, including Mike Degory and Cheston Blackshear, so I hope he gets his act together and is eventually able to turn things around.

Locksley is one of just seven black head coaches in Division 1, and the New York Post is beating the drum that Charlie Strong should increase that number soon. We'll see if that happens - if UCF doesn't open I'm not sure I see a great fit for Charlie yet. There likely won't be an opening in the SEC this year unless Rich Brooks retires at Kentucky, and his successor will be Joker Phillips whenever he does go. Memphis will be opening, but that's not a very good job because of horrible facilities. In the ACC, only Virginia seems likely to open right now (FSU and Maryland don't count, with successors in place) and even that's not a sure thing. I'd love to see Charlie get a shot, but he needs some jobs in the part of the country he's got the best ties in to come available.

Despite all the discussion of concussions the past two weeks, the best article on the subject has nothing to do with Tim Tebow's injury. Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting read on any topic - you should take the time to read his piece from the New Yorker. Former Buc Tom McHale's downward spiral and death was somewhat stunning - when you read about the analysis done on his brain in this piece, it makes a lot more sense.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another edition of a bad idea

The BCS standings make their debut for the season after this week's games, but ESPN couldn't wait. No stunner that they project Florida in the top spot with Alabama right behind them, but Virginia Tech at number three would get people talking if it's still that way post-Texas and Oklahoma this weekend. The computers love Iowa right now, but the polls will hold the Hawkeyes back unless they're the only undefeated squad left.

Miami looked good on offense in winning against the Jets last night. Chad Henne is coming along nicely for being at this stage of his career. It's remarkable how many talented young QBs there are in the NFL right now. The Dolphins think they're special and should get more money from the lottery to use their trademarks than Tampa Bay or Jacksonville would get. Can't say that I agree with their line of thinking too much.

You may remember that I was hoping for Detroit to find a way to drop every game so that their losing streak of 26 (plus?) would replace Tampa Bay's for worst all time. The Lions won, but a new challenger for alltime awfulness has emerged. Check out the schedule of the St. Louis Rams. Only two or three of those eleven don't seem like sure losses, and right now St. Louis has lost 15 in a row. 0-16 and matching the alltime losing record would be pretty wild to witness. If it happens, the Rams will do it the final week of the season. Go Jaguars this week - keep St. Louis winless.

As the fallout from FSU's struggles continues in Tallahassee, one of Bobby Bowden's former players decided to open up on his ex-coach with both barrels. Roland Seymour claims Bowden badmouthed him to NFL scouts and doesn't know who some of his players are. He also believes the decision to make Jimbo Fisher head coach designate was a way to get around having to look at black coaching candidates. With alums like this speaking out, Bowden doesn't need any further bad news. He got some anyway, with tight end Caz Piurowski out for the season. That's only going to make their blocking worse.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fifteen and counting

Tim Tebow played against LSU and the sky did not fall, despite all the panic mongering by commentators leading up to the game. It was obvious that UF protected him with their playcalling, especially early, but he seemed fine. Hopefully the country got a reminder just how ridiculously good Florida's defense is, because that's what makes the current team special. Charlie Strong's resume was on display again, just in case anyone feels like paying attention. The Arkansas game this week will be very interesting, because it's had trap written all over it since the season began. If UF handles this one as they should, they aren't losing before Atlanta.

Over in Tallahassee, the supposed blackout protest went the way of almost all such internet "movements" - nowhere. The Seminoles are still out at Doak looking for the pitch man on Georgia Tech's option plays. They're 0-3 and have ten days left before a road Thursday night game with a mediocre UNC team. Lose that, and it's just about certain Bobby Bowden's final game as a coach will be getting pounded one last time at the Swamp. Georgia looked awful in losing to Tennessee - the offense put up just three points! Things are getting very tense in Athens.

As if getting humiliated 41-0 wasn't bad enough for the Jaguars, they're about to reap another harvest of bad PR. Quentin Groves, Jacksonville's second round pick last season, was involved in an accident on his way to the airport for the flight to Seattle. Reports claim Groves was given only a warning despite being to blame for the accident and then not staying at the scene initially until compelled to do so. There had been a spark of optimism for the franchise as a result of their two game win streak. This weekend certainly stomped that out. The only thing uglier than Jacksonville's play yesterday were those Broncos throwbacks.

Too much is being made of the possibility of Rush Limbaugh being a partner in one of the groups attempting to buy the St. Louis Rams. Much like the recent slew of celebrity co-owners in Miami, should Limbaugh and company purchase the team he'd own around 1-2 percent of it. The NFL Players Association came out against Limbaugh becoming an owner yesterday. This isn't about politics as a whole, it's about race. Remember, Limbaugh got bounced from his role as "voice of the fans" at ESPN in 2003 over his absurd remarks about the media protecting Donovan McNabb because of wanting a black QB to succeed (regardless of what you may think about political journalists, there is no such thing as the "liberal sports media" - people's views in any press box are wildly divergent). Many NFL owners are politically in line with Limbaugh's views, but there's not a chance they'll vote to approve him as an owner if they think it will damage the NFL or their team's standing with black players or the community. There's simply no incentive for them to do so.

I've always despised the NCAA's policies toward "student-athletes" because they define bullying. Think they would ever be arrogant enough to insist that any coach negotiating a seven figure contract with a university has to do the deal by himself without any help from an attorney? Of course not. Yet when college baseball players negotiate with MLB teams, that's what the NCAA demands they do. After they declared an Oklahoma State pitcher ineligible for the heinous crime of having direct involvement in his negotiations with the Minnesota Twins by an attorney, he sued and won. The bully had gotten punched right in the nose. Last week just before the damages phase of the case was to go to trial, the NCAA bought him off for 750 grand. Part of the terms were the dropping of the judge's order barring the NCAA from enforcing the ridiculous "no attorney" allowed rule against anyone. The bully's back in business - but remember, this is an amateur sport!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tebow or not Tebow, that is the question

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday. My internet decided not to work when I was ready to write, and by the time it was back up I didn't have time. U2 put on a a good show, although the acoustics of the Georgia Dome are every bit as crappy as I anticipated they would be. The Tampa show tonight should sound quite a bit better.

All week people have been asking me about the Tim Tebow situation. Will he play or not? Should he? I have no secret source with the answer, although the word from people close to the situation as of last night seems to be leaning toward yes. Tebow's clearly going to make the trip, but lots of things could factor into what choice is made. There's zero benefit for UF to put the word out one way or the other, so I dont expect them to before Saturday at the earliest. To me, holding Tebow out is the smart play here. If UF plays without him and wins, it's great experience for Brantley and Meyer gets credit for looking out for his player's safety instead of trying to win at all costs. A UF loss in that same scenario will instantly be downgraded in importance by voters because they had to play without Tebow. I doubt they'd drop lower than number 4 in the polls unless the defense got destroyed, which seems unlikely. LSU has spectacular athletes and should be playing much better than they are. They're held back somewhat by the fact their coach is an imbecile. That by itself doesn't explain no sacks in the past three games or an offensive line that hasn't been able to get the run game going. It's a very dangerous squad, but if UF's D plays as it's capable of they should be able to win this regardless of who takes the snaps.

The media has not covered itself in glory during this Tebow thing. I've seen way too many pious proclamations that Tebow "must" be protected even if he's cleared. Tempted as I am to take the medical opinion of a columnist for the LA Times or Tennessean over that of neurologists who have actually been examining the patient, if the doctors say Tebow is healthy I don't see how anyone can fault Urban Meyer should he opt to play him. The single stupidest Tebow related observation came from ESPN's Kevin Negandhi, who was filling in for Rece Davis on their Thursday night football pregame show. They were going through the tiresome ritual of naming their Heisman candidates (as if it matters after five weeks who the "leader" is) and Lou Holtz names Tebow as his current top choice. Neghandi's skeptical followup: "Even though he missed the Kentucky game?" Great point, Kevin. Please try to keep up with the rest of the class next time. I repeat my belief that no one in Bristol should be allowed to discuss college football unless they have passed a test administered by me. Here's this week's list of your college football viewing options from Awful Announcing.

It speaks volumes about where the SEC is in the college football power structure that the Gator Bowl has dumped the ACC in favor of bringing the sixth or seventh best SEC team to town each season beginning next year. Why are they down on the ACC? Maybe this piece addressing concern about whether a 6-6 Maryland could knock itself out of a bowl by playing and losing in the conference title game can explain it for you. After the debacle that was the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville before a crowd that appeared no larger than 25000 its final two years, the city has clearly seen all of the league it wants to for a long time.

Tiger Woods emphatically denied he's a billionaire a couple of days ago. It's not like being a billionaire's a bad thing, so why make a point of saying it's not true? It's not like people are going to suddenly notice Tiger's rich and start trying to hassle him for loans or donations. Anyone who would try to take advantage of him in some way for financial gain is no less likely to do it if they think he's "only" worth 950 million. This is like denying a rumor you're a great lover - why would you want to? Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hope U2 plays "I Will Follow" tonight

No big surprises as UF-LSU week got started yesterday. Tebow's not cleared to go yet, but everyone anticipates he will be. LSU fans are already acting like jerks, which everyone anticipated they would be. Tebow's final post concussion recovery test will be to fill out an AP Top 25 ballot. If it looks anything like this one by Scott Wolf of the L.A. Daily News, he will not be allowed to play. (Ole Miss at number 7 and ahead of USC - say what?).

The snowball in Tallahassee is moving downhill faster than ever. Jim Smith, chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees, came right out and said Bobby Bowden has to go after this season. It's hard to understand what Smith could possibly have been thinking doing this now. The season isn't even halfway over and he's not calling for Bobby to step down right away, so what good could possibly come of it for FSU? Regardless, Smith spoke out and so Ann Bowden returned fire at Smith and others criticizing Bobby. If there is a time in sports history where a family member speaking out has helped a heated situation, I am unaware of it. It usually only makes things worse, and I'm fairly certain that's the case here as well. Notably silent is T.K. Wetherell, the person who enabled so much of the stupidity in Tallahassee the past few years and endorsed the Fisher as successor plan without ever getting Bobby on board with it. The next two months will be fascinating.

One less than proud moment for FSU in the past few years was the way they handled Brandon Warren's desire to transfer to Tennessee after the 2006 season. The gifted tight end wanted to be closer to his mother, who had been dealing with cancer. FSU's refusal to release him made him go to a JC for the 2007 year and have to fight to be eligible for the Vols in 2008. Turns out it probably wasn't worth the trouble, as Lane Kiffin kicked Warren off the team yesterday. For whatever reason, Warren has been a Kiffin whipping boy from the time he arrived as coach. When Warren went off on Tennessee's WR coach during the Auburn loss, that was the end. Hard to see a scenario where this makes UT better, but they're too busy continuing the ridiculous Eric Berry Heisman campaign to notice.

Tennessee will be hosting Georgia with neither team ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1937. At least one genius in the media thinks that means it's time for UGA to fire Mark Richt. Even better that that, he wants them to hire Atlanta defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, a man who was a total disaster in his one year as head coach for Georgia Southern. Hopefully this guy didn't drive within four hours of writing that column.

Bulldog fans are still ticked off after the SEC acknowledged what anyone with eyes could tell immediately on Saturday: the refs blew it on the A.J. Green "celebration" call. Some UGA people believe Richt is still paying the price with officials for his stunt in Jacksonville two years ago. I doubt that, but something's got to be done about this celebration rule stupidity. It's the most inconsistently applied rule in the game. How many more moments like this late in games will be ruined by idiotic penalties in the weeks to come?

I'm taking a one day break from the blog tomorrow, as I'll be in Atlanta for the U2 concert this evening and won't be taking my computer along for the trip. Back to the usual schedule on Thursday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nick Saban's biggest accomplishment is going to be winning Les Miles a national championship

Never thought I'd see the day when the FSU beat writer for the Tallahassee Democrat called for Bobby Bowden to step down, but it happened Sunday. The Seminoles aren't just losing to mediocre teams, they're embarassing themselves as they do. Meanwhile, Bobby Bowden keeps telling anyone who'll listen that he'll leave when he's good and ready. There's a movement for fans to wear black to Saturday's game with Georgia Tech to demand a change, but if they're hoping not to have Jimbo Fisher as the successor they're out of luck thanks to the five million dollar buyout. It's getting really ugly, and if the Noles defense can look lost against an offensively challenged team like BC there's little reason to believe things are going to improve.

Watching LSU beat Georgia was fascinating. They have so many athletes that they're extremely dangerous, yet the combination of Les Miles's absurd game management and a physically gifted QB who they clearly don't fully trust yet in Jordan Jefferson keeps them from fulfilling their potential. They had four first half trips to Georgia's red zone and came away with six points! A week after escaping Miss State they likely should have lost to UGA, but got huge breaks from idiotic SEC refs calling unnecessary celebration penalties. Of the three called during the game, none should have been flagged. It was a ridiculous situation that resulted in Verne Lundquist saying after a game with two TDs in the final 69 seconds that "The play of the game was the celebration penalty." Meanwhile, Jefferson decided to talk some smack toward UF after the win over UGA. Not a smart choice by a young guy who's coming off a game where he got sacked six times and made plenty of bad decisions.

I was thrilled to see the FBI made an arrest in the Erin Andrews nude videotaping incident. Hopefully it's been a big relief for Erin, because what happened has clearly caused her a lot of stress. Astounding as it is that a hotel was willing to book the apparent perv into a room next door to Erin's, it's clear that they did. So much for all the amateur Columbos in the media and on message boards who decided that since an arrest hadn't happened yet it must be a publicity stunt of some kind. Hopefully there's a lesson in this for those people - despite the internet allowing you to know more than ever, you don't know everything about everything. Watching CSI doesn't make you a detective, so the next time something controversial happens involving a public figure feel free not to provide your ridiculous "analysis" of the crime.

It's no secret the economy has been challenging for a lot of businesses this year, but I have to admit the closing of Atlanta's ESPN Zone surprised me. Maybe the evolution of the Buckhead area reduced the number of people in the area substantially enough that it caused this. Especially during football season, you'd think they'd be doing well. It's too bad, because I've done shows for both Gainesville and Columbia from there over the years and they were always very helpful. The ESPN Zone in Denver closed a few months back - wonder how long the other nine will be around?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wonder what their backup donation idea was?

Florida gets the weekend off, but this is a pretty interesting college football weekend. I'm most interested in Auburn's visit to Tennessee. The last time Gene Chizik and Lane Kiffin coached against each other was in the 2005 season's Rose Bowl for the national title. For all Lane's relentless hype, he's 2-2 while Chizik's 4-0. If Auburn walks out of Knoxville with a win, that'll make a major statement about both what Chizik's staff has done and what Lane's "accomplished". Gus Malzahn calling plays against Monte Kiffin - good stuff. LSU/UGA will be good as well - who are these teams really? LSU should have lost to Miss State and Georgia easily could and maybe should have lost every game they've played in. I've been hearing lots of crazy stuff out of Tallahassee - FSU should thrash BC this weekend, but if they falter it could begin to get really ugly over there.

Are the Jaguars taking a page out of the WWE playbook and just working any storylines they can to get some attention? As their latest local TV blackout became official yesterday, the national story was Jack Del Rio forcing David Garrard to give up his radio show on 1010XL in Jacksonville. Considering Del Rio has previously expressed his belief that anyone who covers the Jaguars ought to be a fan of the team, his grasp of the media's role in things is not too great. With their struggles at the box office, the franchise ought to be ecstatic that they're getting prime exposure for one of their players on a popular station that's not their flagship. Garrard taking a few phone calls on a Friday remote would have had nothing to do with why he'll struggle on Sunday - the Jaguars lack of receivers will. Considering Del Rio's the same meathead who brought a shotgun with him to an NFL player picket line during the 1987 strike and thought having his players hit a tree stump with axes in the middle of the locker room was a great idea, I shouldn't be surprised when he does something else stupid.

Want some proof that no matter how good things get someone will still find something to complain about? This weekend I'll be covering South Carolina State's visit to South Carolina. It's the kind of game which would unquestionably be on pay per view before this season, but instead anyone who cares can see it on ESPN Classic. Despite that, Lexington columnist John Clay calls the SEC's TV deal a bust. Production values on ESPNU aren't to his liking, which would be a great point except for the fact that without the new TV deal the games wouldn't be on at all. Clemson-TCU, a good ACC team going against the #15 team in the country, wasn't on TV anywhere last week. That's something to actually complain about, which is why the ACC would kill for the SEC's TV package even if it doesn't meet the standards of a newspaper's self appointed TV production expert. Here's this week's list of college football broadcasts from Awful Announcing.

If you have a Missouri fan in your life or just want to buy potentially the strangest auction item we'll see this year (yes, stranger than that Blake Griffin panini), boy are you in luck. The Mizzou football program has provided an item for a charity auction to benefit a children's auction: a toilet autographed by the entire 2009 football team and coaches, complete with Kansas logo in the bottom. I'd love to see the guy who buys this thing explain it to his wife. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Maybe Hayden Fox can replace Del Rio as the coach

The NFL schedule's very likely to expand as part of the new collective bargaining agreement whenever it gets hashed out over the next couple of years. When it does, Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver says the Jaguars will look into playing some games in Orlando. There are a couple of issues with this plan. It doesn't appear to take into account that Tampa Bay has territorial rights in Orlando as well and may not be real keen on someone bringing NFL football within 75 miles of their stadium. Beyond that, the Citrus Bowl is a pit that's needed to be replaced or renovated extensively for years. It wasn't, and UCF eventually built their own place and moved out. How would a city already spending huge money on a new Magic arena and performing arts center justify a new football stadium for a couple of NFL games a year? The last problem is this: not many people in Orlando give a crap about the Jags. Think that'll change if they play two games a year there? Talk to the Tennessee Titans about how their year in Memphis went. Fans embrace their city's team. Dropping in for a few days does not merit them switching their support.

While acknowledging that they mean a great deal to some people, I believe recruiting rankings are silly. (Full disclosure note: I write articles about Florida athletics and college sports in general for the site, although I am not involved with recruiting coverage.) The only thing sillier than getting worked up about the rankings on signing day is getting worked up about them four months before signing day. Who knows how many kids who are committed will switch schools by then, not to mention how many there are who've already picked a school but are keeping it quiet? Despite that, there was something I found noteworthy in ESPN's release of their current rankings yesterday. That super recruiting staff of Lane Kiffin's in Knoxville has the Volunteers fifth in the country right now. That would be more impressive if they weren't behind three other SEC schools, all of whom are on their schedule every year. Currently seven SEC schools are in the top 13. Kiffin will learn this the hard way - he is not going to win in this conference by landing overwhelming talent. That will work against Vandy or Mississippi State, but the top programs in the SEC will always be just as loaded as anything UT puts together. We know Monte can coach - still waiting for some evidence on Lane.

When ESPN the Magazine announced it would put out a "body issue" dedicated to stirring up publicity... err... chronicling the various physiques of athletes, the immediate question was who they would get to pose for them. I still don't think it's kosher journalism to ask athletes to pose nude as a favor when you cover them on a regular basis, but here's the list of who they landed. Mark Martin - really?!

It was announced yesterday that Nike has signed Michael Vick to a new endorsement deal. The word came from Vick's people, not Nike, and thus far the company has not confirmed it. My guess is that either:

1. Vick's marketing guy jumped the gun and the plan was to roll the news out once he did something of note as a player again or
2. this is a trial balloon to see if groups begin to organize protest campaigns against Nike.

People are buying Vick's jersey, even though he's made zero impact on the field thus far. It still surprises me that a company would think having him endorsing their product in some form is an asset right now. Coincidentally, I'm about to buy a new pair of shoes. The chance they'll be Nikes just went down.

Rick Morrissey, the same Chicago Tribune sports columnist who was insistent that the Bulls had to get rid of Joakim Noah midway through last season, has penned another masterpiece. Actual headline: Is Jay Cutler the Second Coming of Tom Brady? Let me help you with that, Rick. No, he's not. I thought that would be the dumbest thing I read yesterday, and then Sports Illustrated's Selena Roberts had to come along and proclaim that Tiger Woods won't catch Jack Nicklaus. The guy's 33. He's done things no other golfer has even thought about, and I'm supposed to believe he can't win five more majors in his life because he's been at it a long time and Selena Roberts thinks he'll feel pressure if he gets within two of Jack? Suuuuure. Hey Selena, how are those ARod book sales coming?