Monday, November 30, 2009

Hopefully they're auctioning those helmets off so they can't be worn again

The most predictable college football season I can remember continued toward its inevitable conclusion over the weekend. Only Nebraska can stand in the way of the championship matchup everyone had forecast before the season, and unlike when Texas did it to them in 96 they don't have enough offense to surprise the Longhorns. Certainly no one was surprised by the events in Gainesville, as UF hammered the Noles without even having to really break a sweat. I really disliked the uniforms, especially the helmets, but Nike pulled this crap all over the place. Clemson kids were wearing shiny metallic orange shoes, LSU looked like Washington - there was just no need for all the wardrobe changes in a sport that revolves around tradition.

Bobby Bowden says he wants to coach FSU again next season, even though there's no evidence of any kind he's coaching them right now. Looks like that situation will come to a boil in the next couple of days. Other schools resolved their situations quickly, with Louisville and Marshall dumping their coaches. Al Groh's inevitable canning by Virginia led to the weird moment of the weekend, with the coach reading a poem (complete with his own verse at the end) at his press conference after another Virginia Tech loss. Charlie Strong's name is being thrown around for jobs, but I don't see an obvious fit yet of the ones that are currently open.

As for a job that's not open officially yet, Spencer Tillman of CBS claims Brian Billick is a legit Notre Dame candidate. Tillman has clearly been exposed to toxic chemicals from Tim Brando's hair dye that are making him hallucinate. Let's see here: Billick's a lifelong NFL guy known for his supposed offensive genius. He has a Super Bowl ring to show off, and is known for his arrogance. Hmmm... sounds familiar. Weis at least was an ND alum with recent success. Billick's a BYU alum who didn't win a playoff game his last six years in the league and hasn't gotten a serious look at a job since the Ravens fired him. Brilliant idea, Spencer!

Does anyone at ESPN hold their commentators accountable when it comes to facts? During the inane "Final Verdict" segment of College Football Final Saturday, Mark May said Alabama would beat Florida this weekend. To support his theory, he cited Florida's performance against the three SEC West teams they've played. This is a verbatim quote...

"Florida struggles with Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State. Alabama wins impressively over those teams."

There is one team that has stayed within ten points of Florida during their 22 game win streak - Arkansas. Bama beat them by 28. On that game, May is correct. Some of us who prefer our analysis a wee bit more thoughtful then just comparing scores would point out that:

1. Florida played Arkansas much later in the season when the Arkansas offense had gotten much more comfortable with Ryan Mallett at QB
2. the game was the week after UF's huge road game with LSU and was tailor made for a letdown, which most of us pointed out before the season
3. Florida won against Arkansas despite being -4 in turnovers including two inside the Hogs ten, and perhaps their performance in the other 11 games of the year might be more reflective of their merits as a team.

Regardless though, at least May is accurate that Bama clearly did better against Arkansas than UF. On the other two he's either wrong or exaggerating. Florida dominated their game with LSU, winning 13-3 after leading the whole way and allowing the Tigers just 162 yards total in Baton Rouge. Alabama trailed in the fourth quarter at home before winning 24-15. Bama's margin of victory was bigger than UF's against Mississippi State, but neither team allowed an offensive touchdown and at no point was Florida in danger of losing. May conveniently ignored comparing Alabama's performance against Eastern teams versus UF's as well - the Gators performance was vastly better against Tennessee in particular. If ESPN's going to insist on turning every show into a sports debate, is it too much to ask them to provide factual context as part of the discussion?

Florida basketball had a fantastic weekend, remaining unbeaten by knocking off Michigan State and then finishing the job against Rutgers the next day. They will be ranked when the polls come out today. They also get a boost from FSU's peformance in Orlando, as the Seminoles won the Old Spice Classic last night. Florida already has more valuable wins out of conference than they did the last two years combined, and with neutral court games against Syracuse and Richmond plus an NC State road trip and Xavier at home they have a chance for more. I really like what I'm hearing about this team right now - can't wait to see a game live once I'm not slammed with football stuff.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Apparently at CU, it will be intramurals

Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. Back to work for me, and unfortunately due to work I can't be at the Swamp to cover a historic UF-FSU game. It's always important, but you'll have to look a long time to find bigger storylines than UF's continued pursuit of an unbeaten season to stay alive for the national title, a final home game for Tim Tebow and Bobby Bowden's final trip to Florida Field. It'll be Greg Reid's first trip, but that's apparently no reason for FSU's MENSA candidate not to run his mouth. Hopefully someone will call him on his BS after the game, because he will be lucky to have 25 return yards for the game total. If UF plays at anything close to its normal levels, the game should not be in doubt. FSU does have athletes on offense though, and if UF starts screwing around a la Arkansas it could wind up looking like Texas's win over Texas A&M. Meanwhile, Jim Kelly's touting Tebow as the possible answer for Buffalo's quarterbacking woes. Kelly was much more the classic NFL gunner than Tebow appears to be, so this is an interesting endorsement.

One of the most fun things about this weekend is having two days of college football to work with. Alabama's at Auburn for their last game before next week's SEC title showdown - pretty savvy move by Nick Saban to get himself an extra day of prep time by agreeing to move the game to Friday. Dan Hawkins gets to coach against Nebraska today knowing he'll be back at Colorado no matter what happens. This means they couldn't afford his buyout and the program will drift aimlessly for another year with no chance of recruiting success. Go Buffs.

The BCS has suddenly mounted a publicity offensive to try and proclaim that their system is the most wonderfullest, super duper neato thing in all of recorded sports history. As an example of their PR brilliance, behold their website Playoff Problem. My favorite part is this quote...

"During the 11 years since the BCS was created, #1 has played #2 every year by BCS measurements."

That's right, they're BRAGGING that they have successfully matched number one and two according to THEIR OWN formula. Way to go guys - you avoided some sort of coup in your offices that put your number three in the national title game. Why not tout your ability to have gravity at every game while you're at it? This website is the stupidest thing I've seen in a while now. I assume this is supposed to help them with the pressure from Congress, because it's been clear for years they don't give a damn what the public thinks.

I'm guessing David Stern needed some Alka Seltzer over the holiday, and not because he got ahold of some bad dressing. First it was a report that 13 referees were actually involved in the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal, which the league has aggressively portrayed as a flukish incident with one rogue official. If you can't trust the word of a man named Jimmy "The Sheep" Battista looking to sell a book, who can you believe? A day later, Ron Artest and his sister were reported to be under investigation for welfare fraud. If this report is accurate, Artest is even more of a loser than I already thought he was. NBA Action - it's Fantastic!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Never thought the Richard Williamson Bucs era would look good

Florida's victory over FSU in basketball last night was an unexpected but nice beginning to a busy week for them. For a variety of reasons the Noles have had the advantage in the series in recent years, and this year there was plenty of buildup about the edge their size would give them. It didn't work out that way, despite UF really not having anyone whose performance in the game could be described as above average offensively. Michigan State in Atlantic City will be a tougher test, but this was a really important win for Billy Donovan's guys.

What's gone on in Tampa this year is now officially a total NFL debacle. As if the decision to fire offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski just days before the season began wasn't bad enough, now the Bucs have for all practical purposes canned defensive coordinator Jim Bates as well. The hiring of Bates puzzled me from the beginning - he doesn't run a Tampa 2 defensive scheme, which is what the team's personnel had been signed to fit. Bates is a respected coach and a veteran DC though, and I assumed Raheem Morris wanted Bates to use the scheme he has coached for years. Now Bates has been dumped for the sin of not being a Tampa 2 DC, and the overmatched head coach who put together this disaster of a staff will serve as defensive coordinator too. How can the Glazers actually be allowing this fiasco to happen? Everyone involved in current management and coaching should be fired. Burn it to the ground, then try actually hiring competent people to do the jobs next year.

I've never understood why PETA lets nutcases make absurd arguments using their name. Getting publicity for an outlandish request that 99 percent of the people who hear about dismiss as ridiculous and stupid doesn't seem terribly beneficial to me. The latest example: PETA wants UGA to replace the deceased UGA 7 with a robot dog because breeding of animals is supposed to be cruel. There's a better chance of me becoming Pope than there is of Georgia having Mr Chips the robot dog as their mascot. This is PETA's dumbest argument since trying to get Green Bay to change their name to the pickers or "six packers" because they don't like the current name's association with meat packing.

It's well documented that there are former players in all the major sports who were gay and kept that concealed during their career. No one can possibly be naive enough to think there are no current gay players, even though none have confirmed that to be the case. These guys are unable to acknowledge their true life to their teammates and the public because it makes some people uncomfortable. There's an interesting story you should read from the world of hockey that indicates the time when a guy can come out without it becoming a career killer may be closer than a lot of people think. If a successful current college team can handle having an out student manager in their locker room without it being a disruption, what possible excuse would pros have for it being a problem?

I'm taking Thanksgiving off, but there should be a new post up for Friday to set up the weekend. I hope you have an enjoyable holiday, even with the Lions and Raiders both being nationally televised.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Press thinks Urban's the magic 8 Ball - ask the question until you get the desired answer

Urban Meyer has said multiple times that he will stay at Florida, including specifically saying he would never be the coach at Notre Dame. So naturally, with a critical game against UF's instate rival and then a 1 vs 2 SEC championship game ahead, Monday was time to ask him about Notre Dame again. Meyer revealed he has already accepted the job and will sign a seven year, 49 million dollar deal in two weeks. No wait, actually it turns out he said he's staying at Florida. Again. What a stunner - never could have guessed that would happen. Not sure why the Peter Kerasotises of this world want to harp on Meyer having acknowledged that at one point ND was his dream job while completely ignoring everything else he's ever said on the subject, but I'm sure they'll just dismiss this as him covering up his true intentions as well. Meyer turned down ND five years ago. Since then he's won two national titles, coached a Heisman winner (and may be about to add another to both of those lists), has terrific talent assembled and more on the way, and is really rich. Would anyone still pushing Meyer to ND nonsense care to explain exactly why ND would hold sway over him now after adding all of that to his original choice of UF?

Of all the Florida guys who will contend for college football's awards this year, I was happiest to see that Chas Henry made it as a Ray Guy finalist. Henry has become a terrific punter, a skill that's easy to undervalue until you don't have a reliable guy doing it. I voted for Henry as a first team FWAA All American, but since he hasn't punted more than four times in a game this year I thought that would lead to him being overlooked. Tim Tebow being a finalist for both the Maxwell and O'Brien awards makes it clear that he's still alive for the Heisman if he can put a big final two weeks together.

Reports out of South Bend indicate an irate Notre Dame fan took out his frustration over the team's disappointing season by punching quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the face. If this is accurate, it's both pathetic and stupid if the person is genuinely a Fighting Irish fan. Clausen's been terrific this season - without him, Notre Dame would be lucky to have more than three wins. It's generally suspected he'll look to go pro, but there's a chance he could return. I'm guessing this kind of treatment doesn't increase the odds of Clausen sticking around, which they desperately need him to do. Considering Clausen's backup is a senior and his projected successor Dayne Crist recently suffered a major knee injury and may not even be ready at the start of next season, ND's about to have a major problem awaiting the next coach.

The Miami Dolphins are set up for a potentially nice second half run this season, but they'll have to depend on Ricky Williams to play at the same level he did against the Panthers if that's going to happen. You'll notice I didn't a "high" level - that's a bad word for Ricky. One thing about Williams that clearly hasn't changed is his New Age medicine fixation - check out how he deals with ankle pain....

``Ricky will send me a text message saying, for example, to work on his ankle,'' O'Hara said. O'Hara, in Orange County, Calif., will then ``visualize Ricky's ankle as if he's standing in front of me. I visualize him glowing. I make a sweeping motion over my ankle to remove the dirty energy from his ankle that's creating an abnormality and give his body fresh, revitalizing energy.''

Umm, okay. Hard to believe the Dolphins even feel they need team doctors anymore when this guy can do it by phone in five minutes.

David Hale of the Macon Telegraph's Bulldogs Blog is always worth reading if you're interested in what's going on in Athens. He outdoes himself with this post illustrating just how messed up things are and have been the last two years for Mark Richt's team. Changes have to come, even if they beat Georgia Tech somehow. The questions are how many will there be and whether they'll be embraced by Richt or this turns out to be the beginning of the end for him like Fulmer's coaching shakeups at Tennessee proved to be. Fascinating times are ahead in Georgia football.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stupidity being punished makes me happy

Florida cruised against FIU, but the win didn't come cheap as A.J. Jones is out for at least FSU and maybe longer with an injured MCL in his knee. (Side note - actual question asked of me by a Gator beat reporter who shall remain nameless: "MCL's a tendon, right?" Umm, no. The L is for ligament.) The Gators are 21 point favorites over FSU. Can't say that I'd be in a hurry to give 21 with this team against anyone with offensive talent, but they should be able to win without sweating too much late.

It wasn't a weekend filled with great games, but there were memorable developments in college football. Saturday's LSU debacle at Ole Miss suddenly has people lining up to proclaim what an idiot Les Miles is. Some of us have been saying that for years. Miles got away with some incredibly stupid decision making in 2007, but even with the most talented team in the country he managed to lose two games. If he hadn't won a national title, he would be in grave danger of being fired. As it is, he makes 3.74 million a year and isn't going anywhere.

Another bad Notre Dame loss only further greases the skids for Charlie Weis to be ousted as coach. Classless behavior like his curt ending of the postgame interview with NBC's Alex Flanagan certainly isn't helping his case. Weis is capable of being a courteous, occasionally charming guy. He has done great charity work and has shown class in dealing with guys like Mark Herzlich when the BC linebacker got cancer. Why Weis thinks presenting himself in a braggart pseudo tough guy "Jersey jerk" persona helps him is a mystery, but it's a huge part of the reason he was on the hot seat so quickly even after signing that ridiculous contract. As for who's next, the Chicago Tribune takes a shot at presenting the list of possibilities. There's been a lot of chatter about TCU's Gary Patterson the last couple of days, but I still find it hard to believe they can do better than Brian Kelly.

Odds are you didn't notice that Georgia Southern fired their football coach Chris Hatcher over the weekend. He'd been there for three years. Whoever replaces him will be the fourth different head coach at the school in six seasons. Hatcher was an excellent coach at Valdosta State and then headed to Statesboro to continue their transition away from option offense that had begun the year before under the previous coach. For an FCS program like Georgia Southern to not give Hatcher even three full recruiting classes before dismissing him is absolutely insane. Can any school's AD and/or fans cope these days with the fact that college football success requires time to recruit and develop players?

Last week I mentioned Jerry Glanville's remarkable knack for wringing all kinds of attention and money out of a football career where he accomplished very little. Now he's got a role in an online football video game. Just imagine how much this guy would do stuff like this if he had actually been good at coaching.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tony Dungy's a floor cleaner AND a desert topping!

Florida football has a bye this week, although for financial purposes they will claim it's a game with FIU. I hate these kind of matchups - the only good thing you can get out of them is playing time for younger players on the roster. Hopefully the starters will get out of the game healthy early on and then that's how it will go. It's a pretty horrid week overall for college football when even the Ohio State-Michigan game has no buzz to it. Here's the available viewing options from Awful Announcing.

What may be Bobby Bowden's final game in Tallahassee now has another sad storyline attached to it. Longtime FSU writer Steve Ellis of the Tallahassee Democrat won't be there to see it after his death from a heart attack yesterday afternoon. When Ellis called for the end of the Bowden era earlier this season, it was a significant development. No one else on the FSU beat even remotely approaches his time spent covering the ins and outs of that program. It's a tremendous loss for the paper. I didn't know Ellis well personally, but when I did deal with him he was always a good guy. My sympathies go out to his friends and family.

An already rough year for Georgia football continued with the word yesterday that UGA VII had died unexpectedly. Of course I hate to see any family lose their pet, and from my limited observations of UGA at games over the past couple of seasons he seemed like a very nice dog. Having said that, I really wonder if Georgia people are going to go overboard with memorial services and a funeral the way they did when this happened a couple of years ago. UGA's a much loved dog without question, but something's seriously screwy when its funeral is getting vastly more attention than those of people who've served the country.

For a number of years, the answer for major public image issues has been to go to rehab - drug, alcohol, overeating, or even sex rehab like Steve Phillips, but some kind of rehab. Now it appears the strategy's changed to "TD-hab". I have great regard for Tony Dungy, but when did he become some sort of magic talisman that solves all problems? Guiding Michael Vick back into the NFL made some sense, but then it got silly. Oregon's LaGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player - part of his image remake was to get "counseling" from Dungy. Mike Locksley got himself into multiple messes as New Mexico head coach, so who's his new mentor? You guessed it. I actually saw someone suggesting yesterday that Mark Mangino should call Dungy too. I'm sure Dungy is sincerely trying to help anyone he deals with, but he needs to be careful with who he's letting present him as a PR shield.

Maybe USF basketball coach Stan Heath should call Dungy too. He needs to do something after former Tampa Tribune Bulls beat writer Brett McMurphy blew the lid off his program yesterday on the Fanhouse website, with both first hand reporting and interview documentation of multiple NCAA violations. I know it's hard to get high quality recruits to look at USF, but the answer to that is work harder at evaluating talent and find diamonds in the rough you can develop. Instead of panning for gold in a river, Heath opted to do it in a sewer and signed lots of kids kicked out of other programs. When that's the kind of person you go after, this is the kind of result you get. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This rapid fire post brought to you by Time Warner Cable

Last night I sat down at my computer to begin working on this morning's post. Three minutes later, the internet and my cable TV went down completely for hours - second day in a row this has happened, although the other one was at 1 in the afternoon. Now that it's back, I wanted to crank out a quick post - never know, I might lose net access again in five minutes.

Florida picked up another early hoops win, this one over Georgia Southern, but the shooting continues to be an issue. Having seen the Eagles play in Columbia Monday night, I'm not surprised by how that game went. They uglied up things against Darrin Horn's squad and had the lead for awhile in the first half and weren't put away until after the break. At least UF has avoided a loss, unlike five SEC teams. That's ridiculous - the SEC has more teams with a loss right now than the ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten combined!

In keeping with the recurring theme of comments from family members never being helpful to sports figures, Ann Bowden popped off again in yesterday's USA Today...

"They'll have to fire him for him not to go another year... if they've got guts enough to do it, let them do it."

Brilliant job, Ann. Always a good idea to draw lines in the sand like that, and I'm sure FSU administrators just love being put in the position of having the public choice between firing Bowden or having guts. It apparently hasn't occurred to Ann that it will take a lot more guts for university officials dealing with a fan revolt to prop up her doddering husband as coach for another year than it would to tell him to go since he refuses to take a hint.

ESPN reportedly breathlessly yesterday that the Buffalo Bills had contacted Mike Shanahan about their open coaching job. Of course they have. Wake me when he shows the slightest inclination toward taking it. There will be huge competition to land elite free agent coaches like Shanahan and Bill Cowher this year. None of them are going to be foolish enough to close off any doors by taking a deal before they've played multiple teams against each other. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure I have about as good a shot of coaching the small market, talent deficient Bills next year as Shanahan does.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lying Lane strikes again

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is a liar. This is once again not a matter of opinion, it is proven fact. The latest example comes courtesy of Nyshier Oliver, a freshman defensive back who was busted for shoplifting the day of the Vols game with Memphis. Four days later, Kiffin touted on the SEC teleconference that his team had not had any arrests since his arrival. Since Tennessee says punishment occurred the day of the incident, Kiffin clearly was aware of Oliver's brush with the law when he bragged about his program's supposed sterling record. Kiffin refused to talk after practice Tuesday when his latest lie had been exposed, but some Vol fans are trying the spin that it wasn't completely untrue because Oliver wasn't physically taken to a jail cell. That's preposterous, and they should be ashamed to even begin the effort of selling it. Beyond that, if Lane doesn't think shoplifting busts count as arrests then who knows how many other similar incidents may have occurred in those eleven months he was bragging about?

The Notre Dame job appears to be close to opening up, which means it's once again time for Florida Today columnist Peter Kerasotis to claim Urban Meyer's likely to take it. Kerasotis, who bashed Meyer every step of the way for the first four years of his UF tenure, first trotted out this "Urban's leaving any day now" routine last year. UF's coach plays his cards extremely close to the vest, which is one reason I believe Kerasotis has as much insight into Meyer's thinking as he does my dog Mader's. If and when you hear Pat Dooley or Kirk Herbstreit talk seriously about Urban considering Notre Dame, pay attention. Otherwise, it's just nonsense.

I've mentioned before my belief that it is virtually always a bad idea for family members or close friends of players or coaches to go public in their defense. They may be well intentioned, but all it leads to is people questioning the athlete even more about their remarks and whether he/she agrees with them. Looks like Rex Grossman will be getting asked those questions soon, as his dad teed off on the Chicago Bears for their poor job of handling quarterbacks. Some of his thoughts are on target - it's ridiculous the way Bears fans and media reacted toward Grossman - and others are not. None of them will really be considered though, because the story will be all about the fact Rex's dad spoke out and not what he actually said.

There's a truly strange story developing at Kansas. The school's AD met with Jayhawk players and has acknowledged an internal investigation of coach Mark Mangino. The coach is accused of poking one of his players in the chest, which doesn't seem too outrageous even though it's been known for years that Mangino is a grumpy and unpleasant guy. It seems like the school is looking for an excuse to fire him, which is hard to believe less than two years after Mangino took them to the Orange Bowl and won. On the other hand, his players have had major issues with the basketball team this year, and you know who's going to win that battle in Lawrence. Kansas is playing at Texas this week, by the way. That should be a terrific game after they spend the week dealing with this.

Has anyone in sports ever gotten more attention out of few accomplishments for longer than Jerry Glanville? He had a video game, even a spot in MC Hammer's awesomely bad 2 Legit 2 Quit video (at the 9:55 mark, if you really don't want to watch 11 minutes of unintentionally hilarious stuff). The former Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons coach, who also spent considerable time in broadcasting thanks to his "cowboy" image, has been dumped as head coach at Portland State after leading them to their worst record in 27 years. The cowboy, who's from the great western outpost of Detroit, talked a better game than he coached. What a surprise from a guy who was ten games under .500 in his NFL career and never came close to any kind of championship. But hey, he leaves tickets for Elvis - that's kooky!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Names from the past resurface

Some Florida fans are intrigued by the idea that Urban Meyer's former Utah offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was fired at UNLV Monday. Could he be the right guy to put some juice back into UF's playcalling? Perhaps, but I don't think you'll see that. Sanford left after the regular season instead of waiting until after the Utah Fiesta Bowl, something Urban Meyer was not crazy about. He also was a little too aggressive about trying to declare himself the tue architect of the Utah success, which didn't play well inside the UF staff. This may be a moot point since there's not an opening at UF and probably won't be one on that side of the ball this year, but if it occurs I doubt Sanford becomes a factor in Gainesville.

Jon Gruden's decision to stay with ESPN for the forseeable future is a good one. He makes good points on the Monday Night Football broadcasts and comes off as an energetic, likable personality. If he wants, he could easily be John Madden for the coming generation. Beyond that, this is a jampacked year for NFL coaching candidates. Mike Shanahan wants back in. Bill Cowher reportedly is willing to listen again. Mike Holmgren and Brian Billick have Super Bowl wins on their resumes and are available as well. If you're Gruden and you know that's the case, why not keep collecting the Bucs checks and living the easier life of a broadcaster for a few years until your market value is at its peak?

If it seems to you that the NFL's entire style of play has changed in the past few seasons, you're right. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News shows that the days when running was the key to winning in the NFL have gone the way of the dodo. As recently as 2007, a 300 yard passer didn't necessarily mean good things for your team's chances of winning a game. Now, it practically ensures they'll win. Speaking of winning, Freakonomics author Steven Levitt feels Bill Belichick made a good choice by going for it at his own 28 Sunday night. While I agree that teams do punt too often, this choice still seems to have been an totally unneeded risk for the Patriots.

The news that Ken Ober had died caught me off guard yesterday. If the name means nothing to you, it's understandable - you just aren't the right age. Ober's primary claim to fame was being the creator and host of MTV's Remote Control, which began airing as I started high school and ended its run when I graduated. What blows me away is the amount of comedy talent that worked on that show part time. Denis Leary and Adam Sandler performed in bits. Colin Quinn was the announcer. It was funny and it was different from anything else that was on at the time. I knew Ober had done some other comedy work, but hadn't paid much attention other than his roles in the occasional Blues Traveler video. The funny Remote Control guy from my high school years was 52, and now he's dead. Just another reminder for me that time moves way too quickly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I can't tell you why

Not to go all Chris Berman on you, but Florida's win over South Carolina had lyrics from an Eagles tune rolling around in my head Saturday. "We make it harder than it has to be, and I can't tell you why..." Such is life for this year's version of Gator football. Three missed field goals, two bombs that Riley Cooper gets his hands on but doesn't catch, running Tebow into the pile on 4th and 2 when everyone knows it's coming even though your stuff on the outside is working... and still they keep winning. A few other thoughts from Saturday's game:

1. If I had suggested here that David Nelson was emerging as a relevant figure in UF's offense around the same time last year, most people would have dismissed it as silliness. He went on to catch TDs in the SEC and national title games. With that in mind, keep an eye on Omarius Hines. Two catches for 20 yards may not seem like much, but the last two weeks he has been seeing the field earlier in the game. The idea Hines has just one fewer reception than Deonte Thompson is ridiculous, but is also completely true. UF has to find more weapons, and Hines might be one place they look.

2. Xavier Nixon is going to be a very good left tackle for Florida, and the coaching staff didn't start him for the first time in their last road game by accident. They needed to see if he could handle that kind of situation before getting to the Georgia Dome. Nixon did fine, and I suspect he'll be the guy at that spot the rest of the way.

3. Charlie Strong's a terrific defensive coordinator, but I have no idea why Florida went so blitz crazy in the first half. If there's ever been a time UF should have anticipated being able to use its front four to generate pressure, going against the Gamecock offensive line should have been it. By blitzing and making it obvious they were doing so, they played into Spurrier's hands. He loves it when people blitz him, and Garcia's mobile enough to make plays against it. It was a puzzling decision by a staff that normally makes good ones.

As for the rest of college football, this continues to be the least inspired season I can remember. Every week I hope we have some good games on the schedule, and each week it turns out we don't. The only game with two ranked teams this week is #25 Cal at #17 Stanford. That would be the same Stanford that destroyed USC, scoring 55 points that included a 2 point conversion try up 48-21 just to rub it in. As wild as that was, there just haven't been enough of those kind of moments this year. That leads to time spent talking about other stuff like three Tennessee players being arrested on armed robbery charges. By the way, have you heard about the name of the Twitter account for accused Vol Mike Edwards? How's RealGeniusMike sound? Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

Florida basketball got started with one of their typical cruise control games, beating Stetson soundly. I'm looking forward to seeing how things come together for them next week after two more tune up games. I'm not too crazy about the traditional U2 opening being cast aside for individual music choices, although not having been there yesterday I'll have to hear more about how this worked out. "Where the Streets Have No Name" has been a staple of the Gator hoops experience for years now, and if it was good enough for the back to back NCAA Champs to use it would seem to be adequate for back to back NIT teams as well.

The Jaguars won yesterday because when the game was on the line, they made a smart choice. Maurice Jones-Drew kneeled down at the Jets one rather than score a touchdown that would have given the ball back to New York. It's a brilliant decision, one other teams would be wise to consider. For example, had Tampa Bay not scored a touchdown on first and goal late in their game with the Dolphins but instead waited until third down, they probably win. Control of the football is everything - some teams don't value the ball enough. On the other hand, Bill Belichick turned into Marty Mornhinweg because he didn't want to give up the ball to the Colts late in a game and lost.

Friday, November 13, 2009

UT's wildcat formation being called the "Nu-Gun" is pretty ironic now

The arrest of a trio of Tennessee football players on armed robbery charges was the story of the day Thursday, especially since two of them were prized "signing day steals" for Lane Kiffin NuKeese Richardson and Janzen Jackson. Jackson had just got done serving a one week suspension, reportedly for a positive drug test, but had learned his lesson according to Wednesday's Knoxville News-Sentinel. Of course he had. No matter where it happens, I hate seeing kids make stupid choices. Lane Kiffin just got a big serving of karma for incessantly beating his chest about how there were no arrests under him (as recently as Wednesday) while trying to throw mud on other programs. It doesn't matter what kind of coach you are or where you coach, eventually you will have a rash of football players getting in legal trouble. If you're foolish enough to believe it won't happen, you'll look stupid when it does. Par for the course with Lane, though.

My worlds collide this weekend as UF visits Columbia for their final road game of the season. People like Mike Bianchi and Gene Frenette are writing that Steve Spurrier should hang it up. They are wrong. They're wanting Spurrier to be the same guy he was in Gainesville, and since he's not they don't want him to be a coach at all. As someone who sees what's happening with the Gamecocks much closer than them but has zero rooting interest, I can honestly say that Spurrier is on his way to something good. The worst thing in the world that could have happened for him here was to have the immediate success that he did when he arrived - beating UT and UF in year one, nearly getting UF again and winning a bowl in year two, then rising to 6th in the BCS midway through 2007. It made Spurrier believe what he had always done was going to be good enough to change things in Columbia, but it wasn't. The last year and a half, everything came crashing down and forced him to reevaluate what needed to be done. He dumped a staff of cronies in favor of quality coaches who are also good recruiters. The Gamecocks have good young skill talent and an okay QB to build around for the next two years, but this isn't the NFL where they can go sign free agents to fix the offensive line. Until that mess is solved, it will continue to be a struggle for Spurrier to score a lot. His five year stretch is still the most successful SC's program - one that has NEVER been to three straight bowls - has ever been, so why should he quit?

As for the game itself, Florida should win as long as they are reasonably responsible with the ball. South Carolina has forced zero turnovers in the past three games and are seriously depleted on the defensive side of the ball due to injuries. This is their eleventh straight week with a game, which doesn't help things either. In some ways the teams mirror each other - able to move the ball on offense but not consistently producing in the red zone. The Gators are clearly better, and while the crowd could be a factor I expect a sizable UF fan contingent to mute that effect somewhat because tickets were on sale for anybody who wanted them for weeks. Florida hasn't been blowing anyone out this season, but if they play defense like they normally do the Gamecocks will not be able to run the ball and their passing isn't good enough on its own to seriously threaten UF.

SI's website reports The Who has been chosen as this year's Super Bowl halftime act. If this is true, it's a tough call for me. The Who is a terrific band, but it has not existed for a long time. Keith Moon and John Entwistle have been dead for years. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are the two main cogs of the band and are still here, but have recorded one album in the past 27 years. If they can somehow recapture the magic to give a performance as great as the one they did at the Concert for New York City in early 2002 before Entwistle's death, it'll be incredible to see. While I'm hopeful, I hate to imagine kids watching the Super Bowl and thinking some old guys are ripping off the CSI theme songs. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That ad with the replay ref asking the fans at the sports bar what they think isn't supposed to be a documentary

The news that SEC replay officials are not getting an HD feed of the game they're ruling on was bad enough. How could it be possible that no one had come up with the radical concept of making sure these guys had the best available picture? Go grab one of the screens out of the club seat section and install them in the replay booth right now! Rogers Redding, the SEC supervisor of officials, says he wouldn't object to HD but thinks the current system is just fine. Redding took the absurdity to another level with his comments...

"If this isn't broke, let's not fix it. I dont see any sort of emergency, oh my God, we've got to fix something here."

Sure, people accusing the conference of rigging games because of how many calls your officials have blown isn't anything to be concerned about. A system that breaks down regularly and isn't giving the officials a better view than some guy in a sports bar is just fine. Is the SEC trying to look stupid?

Remember back in January when Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune demanded Joakim Noah be dumped from the Bulls? He had bashed him before he even got there, and now one season and two months of another had "proven right those of us who never believed Noah was any good", according to Morrissey. Noah then proceeded to play a huge role in leading the Bulls to the playoffs and is averaging a double double this season. Good call, pompous newspaper twit! Now, Morrissey is trying to toady up to Noah by literally eating his words. Sometimes guys need a little time to develop, especially when there's a presence like Ben Wallace blocking their progress.

According to Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, firing Charlie Weis would cost Notre Dame 18 million dollars. That's not including the cost of hiring a new coach and staff or paying off whichever assistants the new guy doesn't retain. They've got the money, but just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. Can ND really justify dropping that kind of cash on getting rid of a coach who's had a winning season? This is the school whose fans touted the fact that everyone, even Gerry Faust and Bob Davie, finished their original five year deals as a sign of its integrity. They threw that principle out the window to dump Ty Willingham after three years and then inexplicably gave Weis a ten year deal seven games into the next season. With six more seasons left on his deal, it may be time to try and get some of that "integrity" back. There's no doubt in my mind Weis is not a particularly good head coach, but that doesn't mean he says so long South Bend for sure either.

What if there aren't enough teams to go around for the college bowl games at the end of the season? It's not out of the realm of possibility, as these figures from Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times demonstrate. My guess is that they'll get a couple more than necessary eligible, but remember that next year there will likely be a new game in Dallas and Orlando's been working on a third game. Sooner or later there will be a cancellation due to the lack of eligible teams, it's just a question of when.

Former FSU player Bradley Jennings has one hellacious sense of humor. He went into a check cashing store dressed in all black and wearing a mask, pointed an apparent shotgun at the clerk, and demanded money. You might think that's an armed robbery, but actually his attorney explains it was just a wacky joke. Hahahaha - that Jennings, what a card! Bobby Bowden will comment as soon as someone can tell him who Jennings is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Late or not at all today

With SC and Florida meeting this week, I've got a lot of extra writing to do for Right now, I'm just out of gas. Will attempt to have something up by later today, but can't swear that will happen. Either way, back to the regular schedule tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy my friend Dan Sheldon's video of an ex-FSU punter trying to talk smack about UF prior to the Clemson game last week. I'm sure Urban Meyer's anxious now that Keith Cotrell's blown his cover.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I may need to rethink my reluctance to begin Tweeting

On the list of things most people will be thinking about leading into South Carolina's game with Florida this week, Dorian Munroe getting injured again won't be one of them. Munroe looked ready to be a significant contributor for the Gators before tearing his ACL in 2008. To have the same knee get hurt three times in two years is just brutal, and I feel sorry for the kid. Munroe played a role in the 06 SEC Championship Game victory over Arkansas, so he'll always have that memory and some rings, but no one deserves to have their career end this way. Meanwhile, South Carolina had a tight end who dropped a pass in the end zone and missed multiple blocks due to a clear lack of effort against Arkansas proclaim he doesnt get the ball enough because Steve Spurrier Jr favors the receivers he coaches. Spurrier Jr was also coaching the receivers when this kid got twelve catches the first two weeks, but it seems no one is willing to pass up a conspiracy theory these days regardless of little details like that.

Firing season has officially begun in college football. The first name to go was Memphis head man Tommy West, and naturally Charlie Strong's name is being thrown around as one of the possible candidates. The word is that Memphis will likely try to land a "big name" first. Considering the basketball search earlier this year was so inept that it made people question whether you would trust these folks to successfully make a ham sandwich, I'm guessing they won't end up with one. West raised some excellent points as to why at his semi-farewell press conference. Like a lot of schools, Memphis wants to be big time but doesn't want to spend the money to do so. Their stadium's a dump, their practice facilities are well behind teams they compete with and the fan support has been spotty at best. Charlie wants a head coaching job badly but unless the school is willing to commit resources to solving those issues, he'd be the one at the podium saying goodbye in four years if he took the Memphis gig. I don't think that will be where he ends up.

Michael Vick's return to the NFL ranks as one of the most overhyped stories of recent years. None of the buildup to it was right - the protests were almost nonexistent, and Vick has made little difference for Philadelphia. The people who bought Vick Eagles jerseys have got to feel pretty silly, because he's been a virtual non entity. Now Vick's spoken out, making it clear he doesn't consider himself a Wildcat guy after not getting to do much this year. This bears repeating: Vick was a mediocre at best QB before his legal troubles. His raw athleticism has certainly peaked, meaning he'll have to rely on his weaker skills more and more. Anyone who expects him to become a successful NFL starter again is deluding themselves, Vick included.

I mentioned before that MLB held very little appeal for me this year. Between all the scandals and only around a dozen teams at most being relevant, it's just hard to find much reason to care unless you have a team you've been passionate about since you were a kid. If Mark Cuban was to buy the L.A. Dodgers, that would change. Cuban knows how to market himself and his team, and his inconoclastic ways would be a much needed shakeup for the sport. It's way too early to tell if the ongoing and extremely nasty divorce of the McCourts will lead to the Dodgers being sold, but I hope it does. Cuban's not perfect, but he'd be the perfect remedy for a league that's grown stale.

So this is what it's come to in the search for new ideas for material in Hollywood: the first sitcom based on a Twitter feed. The oneliners on "Shit My Dad Says" are generally pretty funny, but that's hardly enough material for a TV show. You can practically see Jerry Stiller's Seinfeld and King Of Queens characters saying the lines. I suppose I should just be glad someone didn't do an ALF Twitter feed and have them decide to remake the show based on that. If any entertainment folks are reading this blog, film rights are surprisingly still available.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lionel Richie's Commodores would have had a better chance of scoring

I saw two full games of Vanderbilt football in person this season, and I still have not seen them score an offensive touchdown. Knowing firsthand how bad they were going in, I thought Florida might really put a pounding on them. While that didn't happen, when a team so clearly has zero chance of scoring I do think it dulls the other side's energy level at times. UF has got to figure out what they're trying to accomplish in the passing game, because the Commodores should not be sacking Tim Tebow four times and forcing him to struggle for a yard or two on several other plays. Something is getting lost between the playcall and the execution.

You have to feel for FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, who may well be out for the regular season due to injury. He was the only really bright light they've had in Tallahassee this season. Highly touted redshirt freshman E.J. Manuel has to try and fill Ponder's shoes. He's talented, but there's no way he's ready for what's ahead. The Seminoles are officially in serious danger of missing a bowl game this season.

A few other college football items, rapid fire style...

The people voting in the polls aren't even trying to make sense anymore. That's the only explanation for how a USC team with the exact same 7-2 record as Oregon who lost to the Ducks last week by 27 is ranked three spots ahead of them in the AP, and SIX in the coaches poll.

As that last item should have made clear yet again, the coaches shouldn't be voting. If they are allowed to vote, they have to be held accountable for their choices. The coaches don't like being stripped of their ability to pursue their own objectives without anyone knowing, but will continue releasing their final votes after the BCS made clear they'd be dropped from the ratings if they went through with the plan to go back to a secret poll next season.

What's the difference between the SEC and Big 12 this year? You won't be seeing any stories like this one in the Florida or Alabama papers. Texas fans have decided to poke fate right in the eye and dare it to do anything to them.

Mike Leach made a cameo appearance on Friday Night Lights. He's much better at portraying himself than most people I've seen try to do that.

Not doing as well on TV as Leach is whoever on the production side of the telecast of Richmond's loss to Villanova didn't realize his mic was on air. Apparently the production guy was in a hurry to get off work - I'm guessing he'll have a lot more down time in the very near future (language on that video is not for family/work consumption).

Remember Jeremy Tyler? He's the highly touted center from San Diego who had been planning on playing for Rick Pitino at Louisville for the 2010-11 season and then was expected to be the first pick in the NBA Draft. Then someone got the bright idea that he should blow off his senior year of high school as well as the year of college and go pro overseas now. He'd be making money and getting ready for the NBA, which is clearly much more important than experiencing your senior year of high school. Pete Thamel of the New York Times went to Israel to see how Tyler's doing. So far, he's miserable and the whole project is a disaster. Gee, who could have guessed that would happen? Hopefully other talented high schoolers will learn from this and do things the right way rather than go for a cash grab as a foreign pro, but history says that's not real likely to happen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Maybe someone can mix in a plaid uniform soon

Vanderbilt heads to Florida for what should be a fairly unremarkable football game Saturday night. The Commodores haven't got anyone capable of making big plays other than freshman running back Warren Norman, and they haven't broken ten points in SEC play all year. UF would almost have to throw the game for this thing to be competitive late. I'll be there to see my second Vandy game in three weeks, but I can safely say that if not for my writing duties for this would be a game I'd take a pass on. Here's the rest of your possibilities for a pretty blah overall weekend from Awful Announcing.

Somehow the SEC's entire season has been hijacked by nonsense. Think about what we've spent time on this past month alone: ridiculous celebration penalties, blown calls, ref suspensions, SEC pro UF-Bama conspiracy theories (egged on by a spoiled child posing as a football coach in Knoxville), and "eye gouging". Is there any chance at some point we'll just be able to talk about football? LSU at Alabama this weekend has the potential to reshape the conference race as well as the BCS. It's got Nick Saban going against his successor. Both teams have outstanding athletes capable of big plays at any time. So why has it been completely below the radar in favor of more anti-Spikes bloviating all week? Four SEC teams play garbage games with 1-AA teams, including Georgia against Tennessee Tech. By the way, Georgia tight end Aron White thinks they had UF right where they wanted them, it's just those pesky four turnovers that screwed things up...

"I don't feel that they're unbeatable by any means. I feel like if we'd have come and had a little more focus, we could have come out with a W."

Uh, yeah. The reason the 4-4 team with the atrocious defense didn't beat the one on the eighteen game win streak is because they needed a little more focus. You betcha.

For whatever reason, the recent trend of colleges imitating Oregon by breaking out new uniforms seems to be picking up steam. FSU announced yesterday that they'll wear this thing for the Maryland game in two weeks. It looks like a Georgia jersey with spiderwebs on the shoulders and a shiny black helmet. Meanwhile Ohio State will wear pseudo throwback jerseys and a white helmet against Michigan. There's a rumor UF may do something similar against FSU. This stuff needs to stop. How's it a good idea to put your guys in uniforms that feel different from what they've been accustomed to all year for the last game? Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What a tedious week of discussion this has been

Brandon Spikes sitting out the second half of the Vandy game is the right call for a lot of reasons, although it would have been a better choice if it had been announced that way from the start. Spikes has been bothered by a groin issue anyway, so what would the point have been of putting him out there in the second half of a game UF should be controlling? Vanderbilt is going to start a redshirt freshman at left tackle due to an injury, the first time Ryan Seymour will have started in his career. His thoughts on the matchup...

"Dunlap and Cunningham are big guys like me. They're not going to be the fastest guys I've seen all year. "

I thought you had to be smart to go to Vanderbilt, but apparently they make exceptions for athletes.

People who complain there are too many bowl games make no sense to me. If you don't want to buy tickets or watch them, no one's going to force you to. It's still a chance for the kids to play one more game and go have a good time somewhere new for a few days. Especially for smaller schools, a trip to something like the GMAC Bowl in Mobile can be a huge deal. MAC or C-USA schools with good records would get shoved aside in a heartbeat for .500 BCS conference teams under a new proposal from the Big 12 though. As things stand, .500 teams can already go to a bowl as long as a league tie in needs to be contractually filled. Once in a great while, like what happened to South Carolina in 2007, a team goes 6-6 and finds that its conference has more eligible bowl teams than bowl slots assigned to their league. As a .500 team SC couldn't get a bowl bid over any available teams with a winning record, and there were enough of them to fill all the open slots. If this rule was in effect, could the Gamecocks have gotten a spot in the International Bowl over Ball State that year? Of course, had the school pledged to buy tickets in big enough numbers. Would their players have appreciated the experience as much or deserved it more than Ball State? Not a chance. This Big 12 proposal is a terrible idea.

It amazes me sometimes just how spoiled fans have gotten across the country. It honestly seems no one can deal with the idea that someone has to lose games, and occasionally it'll be the team they root for. This column from a North Carolina paper notes that Jim Grobe may look to leave Wake Forest because the fans there don't feel his program is living up to their expectations. They just lost to Miami by a point. Think about that - WAKE FREAKING FOREST fans think it's unacceptable to lose to MIAMI. Grobe has been to bowls the last three years, including taking Wake Forest to the Orange Bowl as ACC Champs. The last coach with a career record over .500 at the school left in 1950 - Grobe could lose every game next year and still finish at .500. He's a terrific football coach and has been loyal to Wake Forest despite having plenty of chances to leave. God only knows who the idiots complaining about Grobe think wants to be the coach at the school with the smallest enrollment of any BCS team. I hope Grobe leaves - they deserve what they'll get if he does. Maybe they could get Al Groh back.

The "ooh, it's Michael Jordan's son!" factor better be off the chart when it comes to UCF basketball attendance this season. That's because Marcus Jordan wearing Air Jordans in the Knights first exhibition game just cost the school its deal with Adidas. That's roughly three million dollars gone, as well as the free apparel, shoes and equipment for every UCF athletic program through 2015. Since they don't seem to move much merchandise, I have no idea why Adidas thought UCF was worth a deal like that. Unless MJ pulls some strings no one else is going to feel they are, especially in this economy. UCF coaches wanted to keep their promise to Marcus Jordan, but that shouldn't have come at this high a cost.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What does Ealey know about this anyway? Off with his head!

We now have our answer to the question I asked yesterday amongst the hyperventilating by the media about Brandon Spikes's supposed "eye gouging" of Washuan Ealey: if this was such a heinous crime, why didn't Ealey react in some way? Why didn't Richt know about it a day later when he was asked on his teleconference? The answer, it turns out, is that Ealey didn't feel Spikes was gouging his eyes, nor does he think he should be suspended. Keep in mind, Ealey plays for UF's archrival and will never see Brandon Spikes again on a college field. He has zero incentive to cut him a break here. I'm sure all the commentators who spent the last two days raving about how Spikes "could've blinded Ealey for life" and should be punished worse than LeGarrette Blount are now acknowledging they may have overreacted just a bit. I must not be tuning in at the right time to catch them saying it.

Can anyone explain to me how it's a good idea to tell the media you've stripped your quarterback of his ability to audible out of run plays? That's what Jack Del Rio has done, with the thought being that this will help ensure more runs for Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD is their best offensive weapon without question, but announcing this is begging for people to go ahead and stack the line against him. Even if the play's a suicide mission, opposing defenses now know Garrard will be forced to go through with it. Taking away your QB's audibling is debatable, but disclosing you did it is flat out stupid.

I've documented my belief that drafting cornerback Aqib Talib last year in round one was a very bad decision by Tampa Bay numerous times, so I'll spare you the rehash. That doesn't mean I'm any less irritated about his latest episode. Talib blew off curfew in London, which led to him being confronted about it in the hotel lobby by coach Raheem Morris. Now Morris is saying that, while Talib did swear at him in response, that's cool because he didn't find it disrespectful. After all, swearing's just football talk. I've seen this movie before, and I know how it ends. Eventually Talib will screw up enough that they outright cut him or trade him for a handful of magic beans. The organization's front office and coaches will talk about his unfulfilled potential as if that wasn't an entirely predictable development from the start. How could they have possibly known a guy dumb enough to test positive for drugs multiple times in college would turn out to be a turd once he got big NFL dollars?

Further proof that blind faith in recruiting rankings will lead to lots of disappointment comes for Colorado, where Darrell Scott has announced he'll transfer, more than likely to UCLA. Every school in the country was after Scott, who allegedly was the best RB coming out of high school that year. Scott never made any meaningful impact despite being on a bad Buffaloes squad dying for playmakers. He showed up out of shape last year and apparently expected the Big 12 to fall at his feet to worship his greatness. Things never really got better from that point. When the Ron Zooks of the world claim football is all about the "Jesses and Joes" rather than Xs and Os, this is the kind of kid they're believing is the answer to their problems. I'll take my chances with guys who know how to coach really well that can recruit at a reasonable level for their competition over "great" recruiting that brings in lots of Darrell Scotts.

Dan Sileo remains suspended from his radio show in Tampa and Orlando as a result of his erroneous "scoop" about the Glazers Bernie Madoff dealings. It should be a permanent vacation as far as I'm concerned, but I find this column about it from the St Petersburg Times amusing. I just love when writers who have never worked a day in sports radio condescendingly explain how talk show hosts do their jobs. Tom Jones, the author of the piece, doesn't bother to note that his paper played up the Sileo report initially rather than immediately labeling it as the horse crap it clearly was. Not every media outlet did that, just as not every sports radio host is a meathead who goes on air with stories he either made up or heard secondhand from some guy at the gym and presents them as fact. The idea that all sports radio hosts need to think about Sileo before "saying something controversial" is as insulting as saying all reporters should think about Jayson Blair before writing a feature story. Professionals will act as such in either field, and the others will eventually be exposed for what they are.

Not sure the new Weezer album does much for me - they've been in a slump for a while now, although they do get bonus points for having a dog that looks exactly like mine on the cover of Raditude. I've got to give them credit though, of all the possible product tie-ins for a band, the Weezer Snuggie definitely wouldn't have been one that sprung to my mind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Amazing what the internet can do sometimes

The Brandon Spikes "eye gouging" hysteria yesterday puzzled me quite a bit. Was what Spikes did wrong? Yes, and a full game suspension rather than only half of the Vandy game probably would have been a better choice. On the other hand, it was hardly the crisis some hysterical commentators portrayed it as. It was poor sportsmanship in a game that had already featured multiple incidents of such, including two directed at Spikes. The fact neither Mark Richt or Urban Meyer were even aware of the play when asked about it on their teleconferences Sunday should have told people it wasn't something that stood out that much at the time. If you're Washaun Ealey and someone "gouged your eyes", wouldn't you have made a bit of a stink about it to the refs or your coaches right away? None of us in the press box at the game had even seen it happen. This entire thing was driven by the video clip getting circulated on the web, and then it was off to the races to see who could overreact more. I heard pundits proclaim Spikes should be banned from football for the rest of the season, and that this was vastly worse than LaGarrette Blount punching a player in the face and then trying to go after fans. I suspect very few of those people actually watched the game. I assume the SEC based their acceptance of the half game suspension on their previous precedents for fighting and treated this as the same thing as throwing a punch. While I think a full game would have been better, I can understand their thinking.

I can't imagine anyone's going to argue Urban Meyer felt he needed Brandon Spikes available in the second half for Florida to be able to handle Vandy at home this week, but now the Commodores should be even meeker offensively thanks to the loss of starting QB Larry Smith for the rest of the season. Mackenzi Adams, his replacement, is a senior who hasn't started since Vandy's game with UF last season. The Commodores simply don't have anyone capable of making plays in the pass game right now - this weekend's game could get very ugly if UF is even close to efficient offensively.

All indications are that Mickey Andrews will officially acknowledge his intent to retire as FSU defensive coordinator after the season today. This can't possibly surprise anyone at this point, and given how awful the defense has been this year I suspect Andrews wishes he'd stuck with his original desire to quit last year. Regardless, what happens next should be fascinating. Even if Jimbo Fisher has won the battle to keep Bobby from promoting Chuck Amato, will he be allowed to hire only a coordinator or an entire defensive staff as its believed he wants to? If not, what quality coordinator will want to come in and try to install his system with a staff full of short timers who don't want him there? Will FSU even discuss this issue during the season, or let it just sit out there as the elephant in the room?

As awful as Tampa Bay is this year, at least I can console myself with the thought that I'm not a Cleveland fan. The Browns fired their GM yesterday after half a season on the job. It's been rumored Eric Mangini may go after the season, and this is the second person with close personal ties to Mangini dismissed from the organization in the last week. Bernie Kosar's been brought in as a consultant - is he next to serve as ringmaster for this circus? Between the Redskins, Raiders and Browns the NFL has more genuinely embarassing organizations top to bottom at the moment than I can remember in a long time.

Looking for that special Christmas show to really bolster your holiday spirit this year? Forget about the Rockettes, and ditch the Nutcracker or Mannheim Steamroller. What you need to do is get on a plane for Vegas to enjoy the magic that is Twisted Sister's A Twisted Christmas live. Just to get warmed up, feel free to crank up their version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful at work - don't worry, everyone will enjoy it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Teams need to leave their uniforms alone

Florida continued their dominance of Georgia as anticipated Saturday. The Bulldog coaching staff has got some serious questions to answer longterm, because when gimmicky crap like black helmets that make you look like Grambling is the best new idea you've got coming out of a bye week you don't have much. As for UF, it was good to see Tebow back to looking like he was having fun, but it would be a mistake to draw giant conclusions about the offense from that game. UGA does not have enough pass rush to judge whether the Gators have figured things out or not. Speaking of figuring things out, if you can make sense of this incoherent column by Dennis Dodd of you're better than me. The guy watched that game and his conclusion was there's no way Tebow can survive the season? Huh? Then again, this is the same guy who said Eric Crouch should win the Heisman over Rex Grossman because he came to Nebraska's media day every week, so this is par for the course.

Whoever's in charge of crisis PR for the SEC must be the worst at their job in America. Two weeks ago they let the whole "ref conspiracy to help Florida" crap drag on half the week before they suspended the crew who blew the call and announced they were doing so. Last week, when it was clear Lane Kiffin's comments should have gotten him hammered by the conference, they did nothing more than a reprimand. UT assistant Ed Orgeron made the same claim of refs favoring certain schools two days later. Still nothing. Friday afternoon, the league finally said we'll punish someone next time they do something like that. Way to go, guys. You really handled that situation.

After all that crowing Lane Kiffin did about landing NuKeese Richardson, it appears there is trouble brewing in that relationship. Apparently Richardson pulled a noshow at practice yesterday, and word is he may be looking to leave. I hope things out well for the young man one way or the other, but it would be pretty hilarious for Kiffin to be left with virtually nothing to show for his big signing day coup.

Baseball's done nothing for me this year, and the fact the World Series is about to be won by a team put together almost entirely through "no price too high" free agent spending certainly isn't going to change that. I guess A-Rod's a real Yankee hero now, huh? Maybe that means people won't care that he supposedly has paintings of himself as a centaur hanging over his bed. He's a creepy dude who's a steroid cheat, but if you can win no one in NYC cares. If you can't, then you're Stephon Marbury and will be ridiculed for your bizarre and self destructive behavior.

Mike Locksley, who worked under Ron Zook at UF for two years before following him to Illinois, has had nothing but trouble since he took the New Mexico head coaching spot. He was suspended for a game over an incident involving him getting physical with assistant coach J.B. Gerald. Now Gerald's told his story to ESPN, and they also dug up two other supposed coach on coach violence incidents from Locksley's past. I feel bad for Cheston Blackshear and Mike Degory, two guys I covered who are on that staff now, because this has got to be a brutal year for them. The funny thing in that article is Gerald's insistence that his coaching career "at New Mexico" is over. No, his career in college coaching is over. Going public with stories like this, particularly against a guy who by all accounts had been a big supporter of Gerald prior to the altercation, means he's going to be radioactive to anybody putting together a staff for years to come.