Friday, February 26, 2010

Finally, a chance to hear Billy Packer say Billy Dunavin a few thousand more times

I'll be in Athens Saturday to cover Florida's visit to Georgia for . This is a much better Bulldogs squad than the one that beat UF there last year, which may well have been the game that kept the Gators out of the tournament. UGA hit an unreal number of threes early in that one and rode the momentum to a victory. UF benefits from a Thursday-Saturday scenario for once, as Georgia went to OT in their loss at Vandy last night. With a win, I believe Florida would be in. If this team has really grown in the past two weeks, it gets it done. I'm far from sure they will do so.

The workouts at the NFL Combine don't get going until tomorrow, but there are lots of rumors flying out of Indianapolis. ESPN's Adam Schefter says the St. Louis Rams are going to take Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford with the first pick in the draft. If so, that means either Ndamakong Suh or Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy will be available for Tampa Bay at the third pick. Barring a really strong offer from someone looking to trade up, either of those two would be fine with me.

There are some businesses I would love to be able to shadow someone in for a few days and be able to ask questions. One of them is book publishing. How many times have you been to a bookstore and seen a book that made you wonder what the publisher could possibly have thought would make someone want to buy it? One example is the "tell all" coming out from Mark McGwire's brother Jay. It lists for 24.95, which is about what you'd have to pay me to read it. An estranged relative selling a family member out for cash, and not even breaking any new ground with his "revelations" - the entire thing is just pathetic.

The NBA has had a nightmare year when it comes to PR. Aside from a looming labor dispute likely to shut down the league in 2011, it's had to deal with:

1. players pulling guns in the locker room
2. multiple teams making clear they have no interest in winning in favor of clearing salary cap room or avoiding a luxury tax
3. an owner who's repeatedly violated housing discrimination law
4. an owner acknowledging multiple players missed games for his team because they were too hung over to play

and that's just a partial list. So what issue has the NBA chosen to do something about? Caron Butler's habit of chewing straws during games. He's only been doing this for eight years and discussed it on the league's website, so I can see how it would have escaped their notice until now. David Stern's normally a sharp guy, but this is so stupid that it's hard not to wonder if it's related to Butler being dealt to the Mavericks.

If you're a college basketball fan and you haven't seen the NCAA Vault, you've been missing out. It's a website that gives you the chance to watch any team's tournament game in the past decade from the Sweet 16 on in its entirety. Since I was covering all of the Florida games when they happened, it's the first chance I had to see these broadcasts. Lots of memories for me watching them. (Some examples from UF-Oklahoma State in the 2000 Elite 8: Donnell Harvey's wicked dunk to seal the deal is at the 1:04:43 mark, Doug Gottlieb's frightening free throw is at 1:06:00 and Erin Andrews is Dazzling at 1:12:34.) Enjoy - I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wouldn't have thought the standards for getting on my radio show were tougher than the ones for Sportscenter

A report out of St. Louis indicates Tampa Bay may have interest in bringing in Marc Bulger as a backup QB/mentor to Josh Freeman. If Bulger is willing to accept that role, I'm okay with it. I'm skeptical that's really the case though, and I've never particularly been a fan of Bulger as an NFL QB. The only thing the Bucs can accomplish this season is to continue to try and get Freeman ready so that if the defense is ever successfully rebuilt the team has a quarterback capable of leading them somewhere. Freeman's got the tools but has suspect decision making skills on the field, so he could use help from a veteran with the right mindset. Get a Jeff Garcia who's going to leak to the press almost immediately that everyone in the locker room supposedly wants him to be the QB and you've got a mess on your hands.

One fundamental rule of sports is that if it's televised, someone will bet on it. Much like last week with Tiger's press conference, there are odds for an atypical event available for the next few days. People are wagering on the outcomes of testing at the NFL Combine. If you've got a strong opinion on Tim Tebow's 40 time versus Colt McCoy's of Joe Haden's versus Eric Berry's, be my guest.

New USF football coach Skip Holtz has made his first post recruiting statement by kicking running back Mike Ford off the team. This is a good sign for Bulls fans, because under Jim Leavitt the program's reputation was that they were willing to overlook a lot if you could play. Michigan State's an example of a program that through the years has tried to build something with a group of turds. Talented turds in many cases, but still turds. If you have a team made up of guys who don't have character, it will show itself - just as it has in East Lansing over and over with meltdowns in critical situations and embarassing public episodes. USF's fans deserve better than being Florida's version of that program, and it seems like Holtz is on the right track to changing that.

Brooks of Sports By Brooks reports ESPN sources say Tony Kornheiser has been informed he can not criticize ANY ESPN employee in any forum. If so, that's absurd. For example, let's say someone did something as foolish as letting an imposter who was pretending to be Brian Westbrook go live on the air via phone without verifying it was actually him. Is Kornheiser not allowed to mention that on his radio show? Because if so, yesterday he was the only host not on ESPN Radio nationally that didn't. If Kornheiser has a guest on PTI that misses every prediction he makes, is he allowed to make note of that? Where's the line drawn? ESPN knows what Kornheiser's about, which makes this all the more absurd. You can't put a piranha in the tank and then wonder why he eats the other fish.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's about time

Florida basketball's win over Tennessee was nice, but not shocking. The Gators should have won the first one, and Tennessee has struggled on the road this season. During the broadcast ESPN's Jimmy Dykes says he feels the Gators are now in the tournament. I disagree with that assessment. If the season ended today, Florida would definitely make the field. To me though, the only way you're safely in is if you could lose the rest of your games and still be ensured of a tournament bid. If Florida finishes with losses in their final three SEC games and then in the first round of the SEC tourney, they don't make it in. Georgia beat UF in Athens last year, and they've been very good at home this season with just three losses. It's a game the Gators should win, but it's certainly one they can lose. Failing against the Bulldogs would put them right back in jeopardy.

Michigan football's facing five major NCAA violations, virtually all of which involve direct and obvious misconduct on the part of football staff members. It's not an obscure section of the rulebook that says you can't practice but a certain number of hours at a time, or that only official members of the coaching staff and not "office hires" can be involved in on field coaching activities. The hearing on these allegations will be in August, which means the ruling should come out right around the time the Wolverines start conference play. If the charges are confirmed, this has to cost Rich Rodriguez his job unless Michigan is amazingly improved this year. Beyond that, if the NCAA puts a bowl ban penalty on UM it had better be for the 2011 season. It will be a joke if Michigan's current kids are punished but the school isn't harmed by having to tell prospective recruits they'll have to miss a bowl game.

Ron Zook still has a job as Illinois football coach for one reason and only one: it was too expensive to fire him right now and then hire a new coach. Zook's had four losing seasons in five years, and just went 3-9 with a team most observers expected to be a bowl team when the year began. The Illini just signed what recruiting gurus claim was the worst class in the Big Ten, because even the kids have figured out Zook is not a good head coach. So who's to blame for all this? You guessed it - the noise in the system...

‘‘Sometimes I think as a university and as a group of fans, we shoot ourselves in the foot. The negative recruiting, it all stems from us, from our own people. Rather than getting behind the program, they want to start lambasting it.

‘‘The negative recruiting was the worst I’ve ever seen it this year. But a lot of that is our own people."

Right, Ron. It's not that folks have realized you managed to avoid winning more than seven games in any of your three seasons at a school that otherwise has been a perpetual top program for two decades. It's not that your supposed elite recruits keep failing miserably. It's not that you are constantly outcoached and made scapegoats of both of your coordinators. It's the fans not believing enough - you bet.

ESPN has suspended Tony Kornheiser from PTI for two weeks as a result of comments he made about the appearance of Sportscenter anchor Hannah Storm. Kornheiser went off on her outfit, saying among other things that "she looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body". Storm's outfit was youthful, but hardly trampy. Women in sports television have an extremely difficult task striking the balance between positively emphasizing their attractiveness but not coming off unprofessionally. Kornheiser, who gets great comedic mileage out of his own lack of looks, isn't particularly well suited to understand that. It was amusing yesterday to watch as this story spread all over the net for eight hours before ESPN finally acknowledged it on their website at 6:15. Think this kind of remark leading to a suspension for anyone else's air personality would have been ignored on the Worldwide Leader's outlets all day?

A great political movement is underway on the Oxford campus of Ole Miss. Students voted yesterday to create a new mascot as the replacement for the deposed Colonel Reb. That in and of itself isn't what's so terrific though - that would be the movement to replace the plantation owner with Admiral Ackbar of Star Wars fame. Before every game, they could play the legendary "It's a trap!" clip. Hopefully next season we will see a seven foot tall squid wearing Colonel Reb's hat on SEC sidelines.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sources tell ESPN water is wet

Sometimes ESPN puzzles me. They have the ability to create a story out of nothing, then inflate it by discussing it incessantly on their assorted panel shows and radio programs. Such was the case yesterday with the "news" that Tim Tebow is working on altering his throwing motion to be more NFL friendly. No kidding - who wasn't aware of that? The closest thing to actual news in ESPN's report was that Tebow won't throw at the combine this week, opting instead to wait for UF's pro day March 17. That's not surprising - many top quarterback prospects typically opt to do that. There was a ridiculous rush to judgement after the Senior Bowl (with ESPN's Todd McShay leading the charge) that ignored the fact Tebow's evolution of his throwing style was still a work in progress. Maybe they just found out about it?

Meanwhile, Birmingham News columnist Ray Melick proclaims UF will suffer DRASTIC recruiting repercussions because Tebow is "struggling" to be a high draft choice. That's a wonderful point, as long as you're a lazy thinker who doesn't have any perspective whatsoever. Urban Meyer has already coached an overall number one NFL draft choice QB in Alex Smith. Think he might point that out? Beyond that, if natural prostyle passer John Brantley excels in the offense as most observers believe he will, he'll be being touted as a high draft pick at the time Meyer is actively recruiting any future prospects. In Melick's world, a kid is going to ignore everything else because Tebow was a second or third rounder. The highest drafted QB off a Nick Saban team is Tony Banks from the mid second round in 96 back at Michigan State. Is Meyer supposed to quake in fear at the thought of a quarterback recruiting battle with the man who's sent Banks and Rohan Davey to the pros? No wait, it must be the terror that comes from competing on the recruiting trail with the school that has third rounder Brodie Croyle as their only drafted QB in the last fifteen years? Memo to Melick and everyone else that hasn't figured this out yet: URBAN MEYER HAS NOTHING TO FEAR IN RECRUITING. He just handicapped himself by raising mammoth questions about his own future a month before signing day and still put together the number one class in the country. Predicting recruiting trouble for him at this point makes as much sense as still being worried about the Y2K computer bug.

Miami football opens their spring practice today. Over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported that the school is working on extending Randy Shannon's contract. The problem? Shannon wants two million a year, while the school is looking at around sixty percent of that. The paper's source, a member of the school's Board of Trustees, expects there to be a compromise. There shouldn't be, because Shannon has zero leverage here. No other school wants him as their head coach, and no one wants him as a defensive coordinator at a rate of more than a million dollars. Shannon has shown thus far that he's dreadful with the media, far from an extraordinary recruiter, and a poor gameday coach. He got the Miami job because they didn't have the money to go get someone established. Since then he's 21-17 with two bowl losses - that's supposed to be worth two million a year? Please.

We all know that athletes with too much money have been known to do some crazy things, but Marquis Daniels of the Celtics has taken the lead for most tasteless and absurd display of supposed wealth I have ever seen. He had a jeweler create a head of Daniels made out of black, white and cognac diamonds and put it on a chain to wear. Looks like that Auburn education is really paying off for Daniels. I'd love to see him try to sell this to someone whenever he needs the money in a few years - that's going to be quite a pitch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Maybe Tiger's caddy can have his own videogame

Tiger's speech the other day was about what I'd anticipated going into it. Playing up the Buddhism angle was a little surprising, as was not giving any indication of a return schedule, but otherwise it was pretty standard stuff. I particularly liked when Tiger exhorted us not to blame Elin for this, because whenever a guy gets caught cheating with a a dozen or two other women I think all of our reactions are naturally to blame his wife. Whenever Tiger does resurface on the course, it appears his caddy is planning on taking his tough guy act to the next level. I'm not sure what Steve Williams thinks he can do to hecklers, but I'd love to see the jerk pick up an assault rap considering some of his previous antics.

Oregon football is suddenly in meltdown mode. There's been a string of problems, and not just the fairly typical underage drinking or DUI type stuff. We're talking multiple assaults, and now Ducks coach Chip Kelly has kicked a player off the team. Wide receiver Jamere Holland, the player in question, has not been accused of a crime. He did lash out at coach Kelly in a Facebook message, then followed it up with a declaration that he wanted to block any white people from being his friend on Facebook. Classy and brainy to boot - sounds like Holland should have no trouble finding people at another school to take him for a year. Holland actually wanted to come to UF when he looked to transfer from USC, but the Gator coaches said no. It would appear they made the correct call on that one. As for Kelly, the fact that violent crimes haven't led to dismissals but Facebook criticism of him did speaks volumes about where his priorities are.

The NFL is making Bryant McKinnie reimburse the league for his Pro Bowl expenses and will not give him a check considering he blew off the game. That's a good start, but this shouldn't be the end of the story. McKinnie campaigned for fans to vote him into the game, then showed zero appreciation or respect for the honor. So far McKinnie has not been fined or suspended. He should be both - otherwise, guys will be pulling the same stunt next year because no one actually wants to play in the Pro Bowl.

In my last post, I was sort of joking about seeing if anything else in Gainesville had been torn down during my drive through on the way to Tampa. I then learned the next day that Jack's Bar downtown is apparently about to be toast as well. This is starting to get ridiculous. Jack's was never my number one hangout, but it wasnt a bad place to go have some beverages and just talk with friends. Other than Market Street and Durty Nelly's, it was pretty much the only non-restaurant I'd go to down there. It blows me away how much change has occurred in just the past eighteen months. Beef's near my house had a recent ownership change and looks completely different, my buddy Kyle just sold his Wing Zone, and several other spots I used to frequent are gone altogether. With that in mind, if you haven't checked out Adam's Rib or Mother's Pub I encourage you to do so. Adam and TJ, the guys who own those two establishments, are good guys and friends of mine. As far as I know both places are doing well, and I want them to stay that way so they're still there when I go back.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What happens if the stick breaks?

Florida got the win they absolutely had to have last night. Beating Auburn won't get them into the NCAA Tournament, but a loss would have made it exceedingly difficult to make it in. Besides, Florida losing the game might have made Stickman sad. (Does that guy have a relative working at UAA who brings him back every year?) Now they have the most critical game of the season to this point, at Ole Miss in another ridiculous Thursday-Saturday combo. At least the Rebels also played last night. These two teams are going to be very close in the selection process - having a win against them on their court would be a major boost for Florida's chances.

If you're looking for a way to jazz up the Tiger Woods press release reading today, CNBC's Darren Rovell has gotten a set of betting lines for it you could use to get a little action going in your office. For the record, I'll go with the following picks: Elin not present, under on 5.5 uses of the word sorry, apologize for the most used word over sorry and family, no tears shed by Tiger, and yes on an announcement for his return tournament. I wish Tiger would step up to the mic and say rehab has taught him that he needs to upgrade his flings to a better class of woman, give out the number 888-TIGER4U and invite every female on earth to leave a message if they're looking for a hot time. It would be the greatest press conference moment ever, and as an added bonus Jay Mariotti's head would explode.

Perhaps the New York Knicks already have some kind of secret commitment from a superstar's agent that the player will sign with them this summer. Otherwise, I think their front office is completely insane for having traded for Tracy McGrady as part of their continued tanking in pursuit of LeBron James or someone like him in free agency. New York will have tons of money to throw around as a lure for free agents, but we've seen teams try this same trick before. The Chicago Bulls have never fully recovered from their failure to lure someone significant post-Jordan. Orlando got Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady - not exactly a smashing success. Thanks to inept trading, should the Knicks win the 2010 draft lottery, finish with the number 2 pick in 2011, and the sixth pick in 2012 they would wind up with none of those choices. If they don't get LeBron, Dwyane Wade and/or Chris Bosh to sign with them, it will all have been for nothing. Does that make any sense to you?

When I was a kid, my favorite two animals were always penguins and zebras. (I guess the black and white thing worked for me.) I've seen zebras running in their habitat area at Busch Gardens, but that's as close as I've gotten to one. Too bad I wasn't in downtown Atlanta yesterday. Fortunately no one hit the zebra when he got on the Interstate. Can you imagine having to try and explain to your insurance company that the damage to your Honda Civic was caused by a zebra? I'm headed for Tampa today, and maybe I'll stop by Gainesville on the way to see how many more familiar things have disappeared - the Publix by my old house is apparently among them. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SC also no longer recognizes law of gravity

Tiger Woods is going to prove he's still alive and on this planet tomorrow. He will appear and read a statement to cameras, while refusing not only to take any questions but to even allow the reporters at the event to be in the same room as him. The arrogance on display here makes it pretty clear Woods still doesn't have a clue about the level of damage that's been done to his status with the public. There is no way he's going to be able to put this fiasco behind him without facing some inquiries he won't enjoy. Does he have the right to refuse to come clean about his actions? Sure - but no corporation is likely to want an arrogant serial adulterer as their spokesman anytime soon. Whether Tiger likes it or not, that's his image until he does something to change it eventually. Getting on the course again and winning will help, but even that's not going to be enough by itself.

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is out with a broken foot for three to four months. As long as he doesn't have any further problems with it, he'll be healed long before the football season starts. It's still an issue though - no starting QB for all of spring drills is going to keep the Razorbacks from making much progress on offense. Lot of people have the Razorbacks pegged as this year's hot team to make a move in the SEC, and Mallett's presence was the main reason why. This may cool off that hype enough to keep them from being this season's Ole Miss.

The state of South Carolina is 112 miles from Florida on Interstate 95. Days like today make it feel more like 112 light years away. A state represenative has introduced a bill that would declare the American dollar no longer valid as currency in the state. After all, that whole "secede from the Union" thing worked out so well the first time. I'm sure lots of prominent businesses would respond enthusiastically to the idea of having to operate like prospectors in the old west if they had interests in South Carolina. There's a reason the Daily Show loves this place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This post has no title

For whatever reason, a Houston blogger/radio host decided to do a blog post questioning the NFL draft worthiness of Florida players based on the past decade. It is true that UF has had prominent flops through the years, as many places have, but this exercise seems rather pointless to me. Unless you believe a player's success was system based (as was the case with Spurrier WRs or Osborne era Nebraska RBs for example) then what someone else did in the NFL is useless in weighing what a current college player will do. Everyone has different athletic ability, motivation, susceptibility to off field distractions, etc. Beyond that, no one prior to the 2006 draft worked with Urban Meyer's staff at all which makes their success or failure after receiving other coaching particularly irrelevant to considering what the current crop can achieve. Of the four picks cited for 2008 and 09, only Derrick Harvey has struggled while Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy have delivered excellent value for where they were chosen. Does that mean it would be good strategy for teams to draft Riley Cooper but avoid Carlos Dunlap or Jermaine Cunningham? Of course not, which is why this piece is pointless.

Tomorrow will be USC's day of reckoning with NCAA Committee on Infractions. The organization has one last chance to prove they're no longer toothless when it comes to punishing prominent programs. FSU's penalty for academic fraud was a joke, and Indiana got to name its own punishment for the Kelvin Sampson phone fiasco. If USC, which has offered its basketball program up as a sacrificial lamb to try and minimize the football penalties, gets off with no major damage then why would anyone take the threat of NCAA justice seriously again?

Nolan Richardson, who went public daring Arkansas to buy him out of his contract and then got angry when they took him up on it, has a book out. In a CBS column, Richardson falls back on the predictable claim that he was blacklisted for being "uppity" and adds that Bob Knight and John Wooden would have been "nobodies" had they been black. That kind of garbage is only part of the reason Richardson never got a college gig again after he left Arkansas. He was 60 when he left - how many schools have hired coaches that old to start rebuilding their program in recent years? Couple that with a losing record in Richardson's final year (and no trips past the second round in the NCAAs in his final six seasons) and his actively pursuing a lawsuit against Arkansas. Would you have hired him?

Another former SEC coach who'll be looking to get back in this spring is Billy Gillispie. The ex-UK bench boss's PR push to convince people he's a new man has begun, with Gillispie telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he's given up drinking. He's even reading books now! (No, seriously, that's what he says.) I hope Gillispie has straightened himself out, but when a guy's claiming he didn't feel he had a problem with alcohol until after getting his THIRD DUI there's not a chance on Earth I'd give him control of my program if I was an AD looking to hire a coach. If Gillispie really wants back in, he'd be better off taking an assistant job to show he can stay on the straight and narrow amidst the excitement and pressure that comes with coaching. After a year or two of doing that without incident, it would be much easier to justify giving him a chance at the lead spot again.

If, like me, you are a male and enjoy the TV show Mad Men the odds are you also are a big fan of actress Christina Hendricks. Joan, the character she plays, smolders her way through the office on a regular basis. New York magazine has her on their cover as part of a fashion story this week - the photos are worth your attention.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Maybe he can transfer to Illinois

Want to know why I tend to be a skeptic on recruiting? Take a look at Jeremy Fowler's piece on the Orlando Sentinel about Florida defensive tackle Gary Brown's arrest over the weekend. Quoting him...

"Brown, a former Greensboro West Gadsden star, did not see the field for Florida in 2009 but was a coveted recruit in the 2009 class. ESPN and ranked Brown the second-best prep defensive tackle in the country that year. Brown entered fall camp out of shape and displayed a poor work ethic that resulted in a season watching from the sidelines."

So Brown is a kid who has thus far succeeded in only bringing bad publicity to the program that landed him while demonstrating the kind of entitlement issues that so many of these "big deal" recruits have. On signing day, he was a "must get" guy though, like the great Ernie Badeaux. You'll have to forgive me for not buying in on recruiting mania.

Not sure why Joker Phillips thinks he has credibility to call out anyone in the SEC just yet, but the new Kentucky coach decided to call his shot about Florida's future decline post Tebow. From an interview with CBS's Dennis Dodd...

"Obviously, Florida won't be the same."

"(Tebow) could play anywhere. He's a coach on the field. He's one of those guys who rarely comes around. Now with him being gone you hope that they take a step back. They will, definitely, in leadership."

Interesting talk from the coordinator of the nation's 93rd ranked offense in 2009. I'm sure Urban Meyer appreciates the help motivating his guys for this year's game, and you can count on that leadership quote being a staple of the offseason.

There's an old joke about a man going up to heaven and seeing a guy dressed in a houndstooth hat leading a football practice. When the guy sees the man in the hat, he asks St. Peter if that's Bear Bryant. Peter responds, "No, that's God. He only thinks he's Bear Bryant." Now a look at Facebook fan groups indicates it's not a joke. While God has the most members of fanpages in almost every southern state, Nick Saban has more fans than him in Alabama. Meanwhile, exactly what is supposed to be so wonderful about Starbucks that Florida people have that above everything else in the entire world? (Caribou Coffee's better if you are looking to spend too much for a hot drink, by the way.)

Tiger Woods has still given no sign of when and where he'll resurface, but anyone and everyone else remotely associated with his scandal continues to seek the spotlight. Just yesterday another of his supposed mistresses claimed he got her pregnant twice, and there will doubtless be many more of those kind of cash grab stories in the future. The one that actually annoyed me was GM's Vice Chairman claiming Tiger wasn't a good endorser for the Buick brand. He thinks part of the problem was they didn't have Tiger "say the right things". Here's a hint, Sherlock: he shouldn't have been saying he was driving a Buick. Young, incredibly rich people don't drive Buicks. Everyone in America knew without a huge check coming his way Tiger wouldn't be caught dead in one, which made the ads ineffective. Taking a shot at the guy now, particularly when it was your poor decision making that led to the campaign failing, is classless and foolish.

I should have posted this on the blog yesterday to brighten up your Monday. Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips getting his groove on in Miami would be funny on its own. Him coaching other dancers on the way to do the YMCA dance with him makes it comedy gold.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Presidents Day

Friday I traveled over to Myrtle Beach with my wife, who had trained for weeks to run in their half marathon. In a display of staggering incomptence, the city cancelled the marathon at 11 PM the night before it was scheduled to begin at 7 AM. The next day, there was no reason they couldn't have run despite the snowfall the night before. We came back that evening, and watching my dog deal with snow all over the place has been interesting. Whether it was the snow or just normal canine aggression, she decided to go after a possum and wound up killing it by shaking it around before we could drag her away. Valentine's Day kept me busy Sunday. While Florida's irritating loss to Xavier, the bizarre Daytona 500 with repeated pothole issues, and the horrid NBA All-Star dunk contest all merit discussion, right now I'm still getting caught up and don't have time to do it. So, like the post office and the banks, I'm taking a holiday today. Back into the usual blog routine tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Waiting for the Snowpocalypse

With multiple conferences on the hunt for expansion candidates, lots of rumors are going to fly around that make little to no sense. The latest comes courtesy of the Lawrence Kansas Journal-World: the Big Ten is going after Texas and there's at least interest on the Longhorns end. Texas is not going to the Big Ten, because the realities of Texas political life will not let them do so even if they wanted to. Baylor is in the Big 12 for one reason and one reason only: Ann Richards, the governor of the state when the Southwest Conference imploded, made clear Texas wasn't going anywhere unless her alma mater got on the life raft too. The governor of Texas at the moment is Rick Perry. Before he became known as Governor Goodhair, Perry was a Yell Leader at Texas A&M. Think he's letting the Longhorns ditch the Aggies in a conference that would immediately fall apart as a result? The Big Ten isn't going to want A&M, and there are plenty of other politicos with influence on this as well who'll be looking out for their alma maters. Sure, the Big Ten might want Texas. I want Sports Illustrated cover model Brooklyn Decker to do her next photoshoot at my house. Like Mick sang, "You can't always get what you want".

UCF football has been put on probation for two years as a result over making over 300 illegal phone calls and text messages to recruits over an eighteen month span. That in itself is moderately interesting, but once you see where the two staffers who ran roughshod over the rules are now it gets a lot more so. One of them is Steve Rubio, the Tennessee "recruiting intern" under Lane Kiffin who got busted in a rules violation for accompanying Kiffin on a visit to St. Thomas Aquinas and also frequently is in communication with the "hostesses" of inappropriate Byrnes High visit fame via Twitter. The other staffer is now director of player personnel for Alabama. There's no indication either is in danger of losing their positions there. Gee, that'll teach anyone else tempted to cheat a lesson.

There's plenty that's good about college basketball, but Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports singles out one particular problem that needs to be addressed. Finding good officials is tough. As a result, ones who've proven to be competent are in high demand and work virtually every night. Mix six nights a week of work along with lots of travel, and it's no surprise you see them blowing calls. I think Tony Greene would work an early afternoon game and then another one later that night if he could. There's no way this is good for the game, and the conference supervisors of officiating need to work together to keep it from happening. Officials should be limited to a maximum of four games per week in any conference. If it takes paying a little more for them to agree to that, do it.

Thursday began with the New York Daily News claiming Rick Pitino was a candidate to coach the New Jersey Nets next season. Pitino denied that, and it's hard to imagine a team has any interest in bringing the man who traded Chauncey Billups for Kenny Anderson before Billups made it halfway through the his rookie season back to the league anyway. No, the next Nets coach is clearly Mike Krzyzewski. Sure, he's turned down the Lakers and Celtics before, but I bet he's just dreaming of taking over a team with just one win in six weeks of 2010. I'll go out on a limb and say Duke finds a way to hold onto coach K. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dumb and Dumber

Florida basketball played their worst game of the season last night - it was absolutely awful to watch. When you're shooting 68 percent at the half and your opponent is shooting 38 percent, it's almost impossible to only be up by four. Twelve turnovers in a half, many unforced, will do that for you. Free throw shooting couldn't have been much worse - I've seen guys called out of the stands to shoot for a free pizza look better. Having a six man rotation is clearly going to be an issue going forward, and Dan Werner almost counts as only half a player at this point because it's clear he's terrified to shoot. This one hurt the NCAA chances some, but if UF wins against Xavier they'll repair a decent amount of the damage.

Duke continued North Carolina's nightmare of an ACC season by knocking them off in Chapel Hill last night. That wasn't the biggest surprise of UNC's day by a long shot. John Mayer managed to say enough stupid things in his latest magazine interview that hit the web yesterday to keep Roy Williams from getting a lot of attention for his own braincramp. That's too bad, because Roy deserved the grief he likely would catch for comparing his team's bad season to the Haitian earthquake disaster in an interview with

"Our massage therapist told me, 'You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you're having is a disappointment,' " said Williams. "I told her that depends on what chair you're sitting in. It does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it is my life."

I'm sure that was supposed to be a joke (and it's still not worse than Nick Saban's comparing Bama losing to Louisiana-Monroe to 9/11 two years ago) but it's positively idiotic for Williams to have said it. Some things just don't make for good analogies or joke material, and disasters with a six figure death count tend to be pretty high on that list.

While Jimbo Fisher was an assistant coach, he was allowed to speak with the media. He even had a regular weekly radio appearance in Tallahassee on the local sports talk show. Now that Fisher's FSU head coach, he's announced that none of his assistants will be allowed to speak with the media. The supposed reason is that this way the football program will have "one voice" - Fisher's. FSU fans who want to know about how the secondary is picking up the new defensive scheme will have to settle for the supposed answer from a guy who's spending no time with them because he's busy running the offense. This kind of crap is the sort of thing coaches do when they're paranoid, petty men. It's insulting to the assistants they've hired to act like they can't be trusted not to say something stupid. Nick Saban does this and he wins. He also eats two Little Debbie cakes every morning and wins. Both of those things have the same amount of relevance to his team's success on the field - zero. Fisher is a colossal hypocrite for the way he's treating his guys when his career might have turned out differently had he been put under these restrictions. Not impressed at all with this move.

Interestingly enough, the way Jimbo Fisher was elevated at FSU has led to an NCAA rule change to close the loophole of "coaches in waiting" being able to make extra recruiting visits. Head coaches can only make one home visit and aren't allowed on the road in spring. Before this, Will Muschamp could go out as the acknowledged future head man at Texas and get lots more face time with recruits than Bob Stoops could. The Longhorns and Maryland are the only two places with a "coach in waiting" right now. I imagine this will make other schools think twice about appointing any new ones anytime soon.

Earlier in the week I noted the NCAA had failed in its efforts to have Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against them for using his image thrown dismissed. Now they'll have to undergo the discovery process, which will give O'Bannon's lawyers access to the NCAA's books. In a remarkable coincidence, word just came out that there won't be any college basketball video game produced next year. Basketball games never do as well as the football ones, so I imagine we'll continue to see NCAA football for at least another year. If word gets out that one is going away, feel free to assume the NCAA is about to get crushed in court.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Pac-10 will actually change their name if they add members

Florida will be in Columbia tonight to take on South Carolina, which might be sending shivers up Gator fans spines considering that means seeing Devan Downey again. The Gamecocks star injured himself during practice though, and was wearing a walking boot Tuesday to protect his sprained ankle. If he can't go or isn't close to his usual level of play, this could be very ugly. For Florida it's a chance to get to 7-3 in conference and keep positive momentum going for the big Xavier game this weekend. If the Gators get to ten conference wins and beat Xavier, I don't see any way they miss the tourney. Lose this and getting the ten before SEC tournament play starts becomes a lot trickier, although it can be done.

One thing I've been interested in following this season was the impact of Jai Lucas on Texas. One particularly ridiculous column in Austin after his transfer claimed that Billy Donovan asking Lucas to play shooting guard was "not worthy of his artistry" and compared him to a five star chef. So far this year, Lucas has been more of a sandwich artist than a chef. Andy Katz notes in his Tuesday ESPN daily word that...

"When a player transfers there is a good reason. Jai Lucas was not a major hit at Florida and clearly hasn't found a way to be successful yet at Texas."

Lucas is averaging 3.6 points per game, but that's actually an artificially inflated total by his fifteen against Gardner Webb and nine against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In Big 12 play he's 3 for 16 from the field with a 12-7 assists to turnover margin. So much for the "explosive scorer" who's the "best third string point guard in America". The Texas media sure likes to hype their kids up. Lucas isn't a horrible player, but he never had any business transferring to Austin. If he wasn't willing to stick it out in Gainesville, he should have gone down to a lower level program in Texas like a UT-Pan American. In their conference, he'd actually be the player the hype claimed he was going to be.

The Pac-10's commissioner now acknowledges the conference is considering expanding to twelve teams, something which should scare the Big 12 in a big way. The most obvious team for the Pac-10 to add is Colorado, with Utah the other one. It would give them major new interest in the Denver and Salt Lake City markets, and unlike BYU there are no scheduling issues with either program. CU has always felt more like a fit with the Pac-10 than the Texas and Oklahoma schools anyway, and Utah has earned enough credibility with the past half dozen years of work. The Big 12 now has to worry about the Big Ten taking Missouri or Nebraska as well as this scenario. Suddenly they could be the ones put in a jam the way the Big East was the last time this happened. Things are about to get very interesting.

The Washington Redskins are interviewing Bill Romanowski for a role as their strength and conditioning coach. No confirmation as of yet that they're looking at Bernie Madoff for Chief Financial Officer. Seriously, how is this possible? Romanowski is an admitted cheater with ties to the BALCO scandal, and unlike Mark McGwire he turned his confession into an attempted cash grab in a book. "Romo" is a thug who attacked a teammate in practice and did enough damage to end his career. The litany of his misdeeds - which include spitting in another player's face, dirty hits galore, allowing his wife to face prosecution on a drug rap, etc - are far too numerous to detail fully here. It's inexplicable that Mike Shanahan could feel Romanowski's an appropriate person to interview, and Roger Goodell should make it clear to everyone in the league that under no circumstances will he be allowed back in the NFL without substantial punishment for his previous actions.

Wayne Gretzky's old mansion that Lenny Dykstra purchased from him is now on the market. When Dykstra bought it the price was 17.5 million, but now it can be yours for the low low price of 14.9 million. Why the drop in value? Well, after Dykstra realized his financial trainwreck was going to cost him the house, he trashed it. Raw sewage from a torn out drain line, dog waste, beer bottles everywhere and "other unmentionables" have a way of reducing a property's value. Don't forget that Jim Cramer, supposed stock picking expert, insisted Dykstra was a financial genius. Just something to keep in mind when you're watching Cramer break it down on CNBC.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The NCAA's going to cut Ed's player rating now

The NCAA is about to have to open its books to the discovery process in former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the organization. The NCAA had asked a judge to dismiss the case altogether, and they were shot down. O'Bannon's suit asks a perfectly reasonable question: why can the NCAA continue making money off of his image in a video game fifteen years after he actually played without compensating him? Regardless of how the case is eventually resolved, the chance to get some real figures on just much the organization is taking in from this kind of activity has tremendous value. Keep an eye on this case - it's going to be extremely important.

The media circus will be in full swing over in Daytona this week, as Danica Patrick has announced she will take part in the Nationwide Series race. She's not going to win, and she doesn't have much chance of finishing in the top ten. Despite all that, Patrick will be the center stage figure leading up to the sport's supposed Super Bowl. I have no problem with her doing it, but I hope this storyline won't get beaten into the ground like Michelle Wie's repeated failing PGA Tour attempts were. What I am wondering is how much longer Patrick's other sponsors are going to put up with the Go Daddy people putting her in commercials that resemble bad porno scene setups. You'd have to be pretty stupid at this point to think there's going to be any truly "naughty" content on the company's website, and the two ads they ran with Patrick finished 60th and 63rd out of a possible 63 in USA Today's viewer ad ratings. Surely there's a company willing to pay for Patrick to race that won't be embarassing in their marketing attempts.

The NFL is unhappy about an ad that aired during the Super Bowl, but it's not any of Patrick's awful ones. No, they're upset about Kia's ad featuring assorted toys on vacation. What was the problem with that? The toys were IN LAS VEGAS! The NFL is just shocked and appalled at someone connecting its league with a city synoymous with gambling. Sure, they offer Fantasy Football on their league website. True, teams couldn't wait to make their logos available for scratchoff games with state lotteries. Yes, lots of franchises have casinos as key local sponsors. But other than that, the league is pure as the driven snow when it comes to gambling of any kind.

Rumors began swirling yesterday about a possible bidding war for the services of Chris Berman. Supposedly both NFL Network and Directv would like to lure him away from ESPN. Am I missing something here? While I do think football's Berman's best sport, most people I know have grown tired of his shtick because he hasn't done anything in years to keep it fresh. I certainly don't know anyone who would begin demanding their cable systems add NFL Network so they won't miss a minute of Chris Berman. The Directv offer suposedly would involve a radio show, because anyone can do that. You almost never hear Berman do guest shots on the radio, and people who've worked with Berman closely say he doesn't care for the format. Gee, a Chris Berman show sounds like a great idea. "Hotel California" references everytime someone from San Diego calls in should be hilarious fun.

People were killing the Who on my radio show Monday, which is a shame. This was a great band once - compare "Won't Get Fooled Again" done live correctly to what you saw last night. Meanwhile, the guesses are already flowing in for the next halftime show, and I'll call my shot now. The NFL wants a spectacle, and they like the idea of presenting something rare and unique. Garth Brooks is performing in Las Vegas a few days a month now at the Wynn, doing an acoustic solo show that apparently is going over well. Brooks is a marketing wiz, and he knows what the Super Bowl audience can do for record sales. Brooks playing halftime as a rare return to the big stage spectacle he was known for is right up the NFL's alley, and with the game in Dallas it's a great fit. If I had to guess who's next, Garth's the guy.

I''m happy to have a cool dog, but you couldn't get me to own a cat. First of all, I'm allergic to them. More importantly, if a dog did this to its owner, he'd at least look like he felt bad about it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sean Payton won't need Jimmy's product

Eight posessions - that's the story of the Super Bowl. Through a combination of circumstances and two gutsy calls - one worked out, one sort of did - New Orleans limited Indianapolis to just eight posessions and won the game. A typical NFL game has around a dozen posessions per team. I'm thrilled for New Orleans and their fans, as I imagine most of are today, but most of all I'm happy we got an intriguing final football game for the next seven months. The most important play absolutely no one will talk about today is the Colts failure to convert on 3rd and a half yard after they stopped the Saints on 4th and goal. I understood the basic run calls on the first two plays, since they needed to get it out from the edge of the end zone. Once you're outside the 10, why are you calling a predictable run into the pile when your passing game has been effective? By getting the stop and scoring a field goal as a result of ensuing field position, the Saints redeemed Sean Payton's gamble to go for the TD. Maybe if they don't do that, he doesn't have the nerve to call for the onside kick that changed everything. Good thing ESPN spent time debating whether Peyton was now the greatest QB of all time before they played the game, huh?

The only debate sillier than that one was the nonstop discussion of the Tim Tebow Focus on the Family ad. At the time I wrote this, 43 percent of the people voting in a poll on Huffington Post actually were saying CBS shouldn't have aired an ad "with this type of message" - seriously?! Considering Huffington Post's readership, I suppose it's a positive sign that 57 percent of people likely to be pro-choice were willing to be reasonable about it. The loon from the Women's Media Center who thinks the ad's "tackle" showed an undercurrent of violence against women clearly isn't capable of that. Can't say that I thought the ad was all that effective, but not many of this year's were.

The Who were what I was afraid they'd be - a shadow of their once great past. I'm all for booking legendary acts, but they need to still be capable of performing at something resembling what they were in their prime. It's a shame a lot of kids will think that's what the Who was like. Someone else who no longer is his prime: Jimmy Johnson. The former Cowboys coach will appear in ads for a "male enhancement" product - one that's so embarassing that the last celeb they hired gave the check back once commercial filming started because he just couldn't go through with it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Give Edwards credit - he was undefeated as UF's DC

George Edwards's abrupt departure as Florida defensive coordinator to take the same position with the NFL's Buffalo Bills caught most people by surprise yesterday, but it probably shouldn't. Anyone expecting loyalty from coaches these days hasn't been paying attention. Edwards has been an NFL focused guy for his entire career. Apparently he believes being DC under Chan Gailey is preferrable to a college gig, so he's gone. This certainly isn't some sort of crushing blow for Florida, as Edwards had little impact on the recruiting trail in his brief stay and they have ample time to replace him. The timing of the move was not ideal for PR purposes, but I defy anyone who's criticizing Florida for what happened here to find a single player who says he chose to sign with the school due to Edwards. There will be more candidates available for UF to choose from now that they're past national signing day than there would have been in the days leading up to it. It'll be interesting to see what direction they choose to go now.

The day after Signing Day, Lane Kiffin got a verbal commitment for USC from a quarterback. So why should you and I care about that? Because the quarterback in question is 13 years old. He's scheduled to sign as part of the 2015 recruiting class. This crap has to stop. Seventh graders don't need to be getting recruiting hype. Say this kid starts to struggle in the tenth grade, or gets a serious injury - anyone think Lane will still honor that offer? For that matter, anyone think Lane will actually BE at USC in 2015? Why should this kid be potentially set up as a "has been" before he even gets to his senior year of high school? The offer shouldn't have been made and the parents shoudn't have accepted it or publicized it.

Very important win for Florida basketball last night in Tuscaloosa. No one can say this team's boring, that's for sure. It's ridiculous that they have to play again on Saturday against an oppponent who had an extra day of rest AGAIN, but that's what the SEC served UF up three times this year. Mississippi State hasn't played very well away from home, but they're dangerous. Dee Bost may not be full strength after hurting his wrist the other night - that would be a big boost to Florida's chances if he's off his game. Ten SEC wins should get UF into the tourney, eleven definitely would. This is the kind of game you have to win to take the pressure off the ones at the end of the season.

There's an exciting new ride coming to the Kings Dominion amusement park beginning in April. It's a rollercoaster that is modeled on Dale Earnhardt called "The Intimidator". It's taken them so long to engineer it because they had to make sure it only made left turns. Design work continues on the Dale Jr. rollercoaster. That one features the best equipment but for some reason it always goes slower than all the other coasters and frequently burns out its engine.

Ben Folds is coming to Gainesville, as well as Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte. One of the coolest days of my career came back when I was doing afternoon drive for 900/1230 and mentioned I was bummed out that I hadn't got a ticket to the show Folds was doing that night at the Florida Theater before it sold out. After I got off air, I checked the station voicemail and found out that Folds was listening to the show when I said that. He personally took the time to find out our office number and left a message with his cel number so that I could call him to hook me up with a pass. How many famous musicians would ever do something like that? Folds is doing this tour solo with a piano, as opposed to recent shows with a full backing band. Either way, he puts on a terrific show. I'll have to work around the SEC and NCAA tournament because of when the shows are scheduled, so I'll probably go to the Atlanta concert, but I'm definitely catching one. Here's a pair of live videos of my favorites of his - "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You" and "Zak and Sara" (with a full orchestra!) Get tickets - you need to see this show.

Is there anything I've missed? Oh yeah, the Super Bowl. This should be an entertaining game, but even though I'm rooting for New Orleans I can't come up with a good reason not to pick the Colts to win it. It's been a quiet week, with Dwight Freeney's ankle problem and Reggie Bush's 3:30 AM clubbing on Monday the closest thing to exciting news. Remember that no team has ever lost to Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl. That stat may not scare you away from the Saints by itself, but the track record of first time Super Bowl participants should. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Best signing day names: Jose Jose and Munchie Legeaux

Now that Signing Day has come and gone, a few things stand out. If ratings mean anything, then the Big Ten is in serious trouble in the years ahead. When three fourths of your conference is signing classes ranked 32 or lower, that's not a good sign. UF signed 12 top 100 players by itself, while the entire Big Ten mustered 13. I know Miami feels like they can recruit most of their talent from there in the south Florida area and win, but unless they have done a great job at discovering underhyped players it sure seems like they're struggling badly right now - only four signees ranked higher than three stars and no Top 100's at all? When Miami made its official visit to megahyped offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, the kid left Randy Shannon waiting for an hour and a half because he was getting his hair braided. (The sense of entitlement chronicled in that article is exactly why I can't stand what a circus recruiting has turned into.)

As for Florida, the big haul they expected did come in with no negative surprises. Now Urban Meyer will step away for some rest time, although he did flat out say during an interview with ESPNU that he would be coaching UF in the fall. That might have been in response to ESPN's Todd McShay (who has apparently added psychic to his nonexistent supposed scouting skills) saying there was a "strong possibility" Meyer wouldn't do so. It appears McShay has missed everything that's happened since the Sugar Bowl, perhaps because he's been so busy offering to trash Tim Tebow for tips outside the Bristol Quickie Mart.

The Super Bowl reportedly may be transitioning from Roman numerals in the future. It's expected to be announced today that next year for the 45th version of the game the logo will feature both modern and Roman numerals. Apparently this is all being prompted by the impending 50th edition of the game, since no one wants to have to explain what Super Bowl L is all about. The over the top quality of the Roman numerals in a lot of ways symbolizes what the game is about though - I'm not sure this will catch on.

For sheer weirdness, this story's hard to top. You've heard about guys who pretend to be cops and pull people over, right? This nut in L.A. apparently not only pretended to be a US Marshal, he successfully deported a cousin's wife to the Philippines. Most disconcerting is that the guy apparently used his crackerjack box "badge" to get past airport security in San Diego and escort his prisoner to her plane. Even crazier, he showed up for police questioning and thought wearing his "federal agent" t-shirt would fool them. This whole thing sounds like some sort of rejected sitcom script.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A five star post with great upside and explosiveness

Today is National Signing Day for college football recruits. UF apparently is signing the number one class, and South Carolina fans are rejoicing because running back Marcus Lattimore selected them yesterday. Inevitably some guy will pull a "shocking change of heart" and get far too much attention, while a higher quality player and kid who committed to his school 14 months ago and never looked around after that is completely ignored. Two years ago, Kansas linebacker Arthur Brown was a super bluechip prospect that everyone wanted before Miami won the battle for his services. Brown has made zero impact in two years and is now transferring. No one will notice today, of course. This year's kids can't miss!

Pat Dooley reports UF is considering creating statues of their three Heisman Trophy winners. It's interesting how much the UF athletic department's attitude has changed the past few years. Until very recently, there was no acknowledgement of the past at all in Gainesville beyond some words painted on the overhang of the South End Zone. Since the 2006 100th Anniversary celebration for the football program we've seen the creation of the Ring of Honor, actual signage rather than paint on a wall, and the new "front door of Florida football" that puts things like the Heismans and BCS trophies where people can actually see them. To me, those changes were all for the better. Statues, though? Other programs do stuff like naming streets (Hal Mumme Pass, anyone?) and building statues of people (Bobby Bowden, complete with ridiculous looking Garanimals FSU belt). This doesn't seem like UF to me. It feels like a copycat move.

Tennessee has their new defensive coordinator at last, and it's a curious choice. Boise State DC Justin Wilcox, a 32 year old with no SEC experience or ties, will take over the Vol D. He played at Oregon and has worked at Cal as a position coach and then Boise State as DC the last four years. None of that appears to prepare him well to continue the work Monte Kiffin did last season or to scheme against the speed of the conference. This seems to further reinforce the idea that Derek Dooley's throwing a staff together, because if this was a guy you wanted originally there's no reason you'd wait until the day before signing day to make the move. I'm not saying Wilcox is a bad coach, but I think he's a very puzzling hire.

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan flipped the bird at some Dolphin fans attending an MMA event in south Florida over the weekend. By most accounts the fans in question were being colossal jerks toward him, and eventually Ryan had heard enough and gave them the finger. He's been fined fifty thousand dollars for doing so by the team, which amazes me. Ryan was not there on behalf of the Jets, and I don't think anyone believes for a second that MMA fans were traumatized by getting flicked off. It's not a family crowd at those kind of events. If one of the fans doesn't get a cel phone picture of Ryan's gesture and send it all over the place to Miami area media, this doesn't lead to anything. Coaches and players do represent their teams when they're in public, but they're also human beings. A brief angry gesture in response to provocation is not something that merits this kind of punishment.

The Academy Award nominees are out, and there certainly doesn't seem to have been any need for ten Best Picture nominees this year. The Blind Side may be a pleasant enough movie, but we're talking about being up for the same honor that The Godfather once won. I see a difference in quality there. I don't generally care who wins acting awards, but if Vera Farmiga doesn't get Best Supporting Actress for Up In the Air something's seriously wrong with the voting process. Tragically it's too late for Alluda Majaka to be nominated for Best Picture, but as this scene shows it clearly should have been.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lucy Van Pelt would have been a more appealing hire

Wouldn't it seem pretty clear that the Tampa Bay quarterback coach spot is one of the most important hires the team will make? Since they're trying to build around a physically gifted second year QB in Josh Freeman (who's struggled with poor on field decision making throughout his career), the person assigned to developing last season's first round pick needs to be one of the very best at what he does. The Bucs opted for a guy with two years of ineffective NFL experience in the role. Maybe Alex Van Pelt will prove to be a brilliant choice, but nothing in his career history tells me he understands anything about how to bring out excellence from either the position or an offense as a whole. Maybe the problem is that no quality assistants want to work under Raheem Morris, a coach who threw both his coordinators under the bus before his first year was even two thirds complete?

Tennessee football continues in scramble mode as they try and keep some semblance of a recruiting class together. How you go about signing defensive players when you don't have a clue what scheme your DC will want to play is beyond me, but they're about to try it. They're still trying to add touted WR prospect Markeith Ambles to the class. In a tweet over the weekend, Ambles crudely propositioned Knoxville radio morning host Heather Harrington. Interestingly the Knoxville News-Sentinel quoted his tweet directly but censored the pickup attempt in their report on Ambles visit. Guess honestly reporting that would have contradicted the whole "Go Vols" part of your website's name, huh guys? Meanwhile, after Ambles referred to UT recruiting intern Steve Rubio as "my boy", Rubio suddenly was interviewing for a job with Lane Kiffin in Los Angeles yesterday. Just a 100 percent classy group of people we're talking about here.

Monday in Lexington was all about putting out the fire caused by point guard John Wall's comment after Saturday's win against Vanderbilt that he would "just try not to listen to" coach John Calipari. The coach had the audacity to question the Great Wall, correctly pointing out the freshman has actually not been all that special in conference play. Wall maintains everything between them is fine now, but I'll be very curious to see how the Wildcats look at home against Ole Miss tonight. With a team composed largely of one and done guys, if things start to go south the conflicting interests of players wanting to show off for the pros could cause UK some serious issues.

Inaccurate web reports yesterday claimed that the NCAA had reached a decision to expand its basketball tournament to 96 teams. They say that's not the case yet, although acknowledging it's under consideration. This is a terrible idea at any time regardless of where it comes from. The current three week, two games per round format has been hugely successful. Removing all semblance of drama as to whether a team will make the field of 64 by making it borderline impossible for big schools to miss will kill off any value the regular season has. This would be the BCS's dream scenario should it happen, as it would support their weak rationale that small playoffs will always eventually expand too much.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another missed opportunity

It would be easy to focus on Alex Tyus missing a shot that he's expected to hit as the reason Florida lost to Tennessee 61-60, but that would be a major mistake. The game was lost with sloppiness in the first half - what should have been a sizable lead was just six at the break (and three after UT sank a 3 on the first posession of the second half) thanks to turnovers and poor decision making. Generally when a team plays as well as UF had compared to UT and doesn't take full advantage, it comes back to bite you. A couple of other thoughts: Kenny Boynton is a scorer, not a shooter. This is 2 of the past 3 SEC games he's gone 0 for 5 from behind the arc. I'm sure Donovan is encouraging him to penetrate more, but it's got to start sinking in soon. Also, can anyone explain what's going on in Dan Werner's head? He played the late first half completely in a fog (getting lost on zone coverage, committing multiple turnovers, not even looking for an inbounds pass that bounced off his back as he ran up court) and while Werner struggling from the field is common, him making lots of mental errors is unusual.

The NCAA is looking for someone to be Myles Brand's successor as the orgaization's president. Whoever that is, they've got some really fun issues to eventually deal with. Rule enforcement's become a punchline already, and what do you about the reality that any schlub with a computer can now get ahold of recruits to make the case for their school? You want schools to educate their fans not to do that? Surveys show 1 in 5 Americans still think the sun revolves around the earth - good luck getting everyone to grasp why they can't post "BOBBY U NED TO COME 2 UK" on a kid's page. Vague threats about someone in Washington doing something about the BCS continue. You have no control over any of that, of course, but it could lead to the big money schools eventually leaving your organization altogether and forming their own splinter group. Even now, the Big Ten continues to make noises about throwing other conferences into chaos by expanding. Head of the NCAA's a good paying job, but the next guy's going to have to earn his money.

The Pro Bowl is a waste of time, no matter which week they play it. Having said that, there's no excuse at all for Minnesota's Bryant McKinnie blowing off practices repeatedly and getting kicked off the NFC team. Since the NFL actually made the guys from the Super Bowl teams show up for the game, he definitely deserves to be punished. For McKinnie being stupid enough not only to blow off practices but to Twitter out his actual locations including strip clubs, the NFL ought to hammer McKinnie with the biggest fine and/or suspension they can under the collective bargaining agreement. As for the game itself, instead of 45 grand per man to the winners and half that to the losers the league should make it winning team gets it all and the losers get zip. If they're going to insist on playing the thing, that's the best chance they have of getting anyone to really try.

If you've ever been in the vicinity of Kevin O'Neill when he's coaching a basketball game, you know that the current USC head coach's language makes sailors sound like nuns. At one Tennessee-UF game I heard him use the f bomb as every part of speech except for a preposition, and I'm sure he's working on that. Satuday night, O'Neill's Trojans lost to Oregon in large part because of a technical foul called on a student manager for swearing at the refs. O'Neill fired the guy, and I'm honestly surprised he was even willing to let him on the team plane back to Los Angeles. I assume the kid thought him talking a blue streak at the refs was okay since O'Neill does it all game, but that's the stupidest thing I've heard of anyone doing not involving the internet in a long time.