Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life's too short to worry about certain things

Alabama is looking at facing Texas Tech in Jerry Jones's Dallas palace to open the 2012 season. If this does come to fruition, as it certainly appears likely to do, it would be the third time in five years that the Crimson Tide has opened at a neutral site. Nick Saban clearly has his sights set on doing some Texas recruiting, otherwise this move wouldn't make sense. With Yankee Stadium and Fedex Field in D.C. also hosting college games this year in addition to the annual Atlanta opener, this appears to be becoming a significant trend. Florida might not feel the need to ever participate considering the way they recruit and sell out every home game already, but I suspect other SEC schools will want to start looking seriously at doing this more regularly soon.

Tennessee offensive lineman Aaron Douglas bailed out on his team last week, depriving the Volunteers of their top returning guy up front. The move was puzzling since Douglas seemed to be on track for a likely shot at the NFL with another year of quality performance like last season. A few days ago I was told by a college football insider that the rumored reason Douglas quit was because he had decided he wants to be a rapper. Looks like that might really be the case. I hope the kid's the next Jay-Z, because otherwise he's made an incredibly poor decision. There's just no explaining what goes on in guys heads sometimes. I suspect Douglas will return to the game eventually, but probably not in Knoxville.

I've never been a believer in the "all publicity is good publicity" mantra the way some people are. Jesse James is more famous today than he was prior to his cheating on Sandra Bullock becoming the tabloids reason to exist this month. I doubt he feels the added exposure was a good thing. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, seems to be reaping benefits from his nightmarish last half a year. Inexplicably, sales of Tiger branded gear are up eight percent from where they were a year ago. The suspicion was that women would refuse to buy Tiger gear due to his exploits - never mind. There's a story in the latest Vanity Fair that features even more embarassing claims about Tiger's supposed extramarital adventures - maybe even more people will want to buy his logo hat after that hits newsstands.

It mystifies me how many people on both sides of the political aisle not only are hyperpartisan but assume that everyone they know is as well. Yesterday I got an email telling me I should be livid about comments by Matthew Modine regarding Osama Bin Laden. You can read them if you want at the link, but why would you care? It's Matthew freaking Modine. I can't imagine there's one soul who voted for Obama based on his suggestion, just as no one voted for John McCain based on the support of country singer Trace Adkins. This just in: some celebrities are dunces, just like plenty of non-celebs are. If you want to spend time being angry about every little thing someone semi-famous says or does that's not in agreement with your views, that's your business. I'll take a pass, so please don't ask me to share your angst.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

George Michael, Clay Aiken, now Ricky Martin - will the surprises ever stop?

Billy Donovan's not going anywhere, but this week could become an interesting one with regards to Florida basketball's staff continuity. Iona is looking for a basketball coach after their head man left for Seton Hall, and Richard Pitino's name has already surfaced as a possibility. Shaka Smart getting the VCU job last year after just one season in Gainesville was a surprise, and Pitino being in the mix for a good midmajor head job this quickly would be as well. If you're Billy Donovan this is a double edged sword. Tons of talented, ambitious assistants want to work for you because Florida's a great place to work and has been a launching spot for others to land head coaching jobs. If you hire another one of those talented assistants though, you may have yet another slot to fill next year and continue to be hampered in deceloping the consistency you had when the program was on top. Larry Shyatt's name has been brought up in Charlotte for their job too, but there's little indication that's likely to happen. Pitino to Iona could make sense though, and would be a loss.

Oregon continues their search for a basketball coach. Being turned down by Mark Few, Billy Donovan, Jamie Dixon, Mark Turgeon, and likely Tubby Smith might have convinced a lesser program that they should set their sights on someone a little more logical for the job. You know, Tom Izzo. If the person running this search was looking for a date he would start with Jennifer Aniston and then try Angelina Jolie once he got turned down. Nike's got a lot of money, but that isn't the only thing that matters when it comes to a coaching gig. My question is what "name" coach would be craven enough to take the job at this point when it's obvious he wasn't in the first half dozen choices? Call Randy Bennett of St. Mary's already, Phil Knight.

The owner(s?) of the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of a divorce. There's been plenty of speculation about whether this will affect the team's performance this fall, but I'm not a Dodger fan so I don't particularly care if it does or not. What blows my mind is that the McCourts are voluntarily coming off as sybarites when doing so is business suicide. Mrs. McCourt wants a million dollars a month to continue her lifestyle which has included having "hair stylists come to their house everyday". Even the Wolfman wouldn't need a haircut more than once every couple of weeks, and if you're dying your hair you still only do that occasionally. So if I understand this correctly, the Dodgers owner and his wife pay someone to come in everyday and comb their hair?! I'm sure fans being asked to spend ever increasing amounts for parking, tickets and refreshments in a bad economy just love hearing that.

I had someone ask me what I meant by yesterday's headline regarding Duke. It blows my mind how many breaks the Blue Devils get from officials. I'm not saying it's an NCAA conspiracy, but for some reason it happens. When you see Baylor's center fouled out on an iffy block call and then Duke's get the charge call on a much more obvious block three minutes later, it's infuriating. Baylor should have been up five with Duke's big man out of the game too, going to the free throw line for a chance at a three point play. Instead, Duke got the call and the Bears lost two points they should have had. Kyle Singler swings his elbows - no foul. Baylor guy bumps a Dukie in response - technical. I'm not a Duke hater, but there is no question in my mind that they get the benefit of the doubt from the refs more than any team in the country. As always, the Onion sums things up well. As for CBS, it's no accident the network assigned Nantz and Kellogg to Duke's site in both rounds of the tournament. That's the team they think America responds to most, and it's the one they want playing Monday night.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It'll be 5 on 8 - ten if you count CBS announcers - for WVU Saturday

The Final Four is set, with Duke the only number one seed to make it to Indianapolis and West Virginia the only one of my picks to do so. There have been a lot of surprises in this tournament, but for me the Mountaineers beating Kentucky wasn't one of them. The Wildcats managed to miss 32 three point shots in a row from the second half of their Cornell game until late into the WVU game. Think about that - they had missed that many shots from the outside and just kept jacking them up! Even phenomenally talented young teams still have to learn lessons like that the hard way, but this UK team is so full of one and dones there won't be anyone left who learned it. By the way, with the SEC having had two teams in the Elite 8 I'd just like to point out again how idiotic the coaches voting Kevin Stallings Coach of the Year over John Calipari and Bruce Pearl was. Tom Izzo's done an amazing job of coaching to get Michigan State through these last three games without Kalin Lucas. Baylor's Scott Drew is nowhere near as good, but they're still a thousand times better off with him than excuse making sleazeball Dave Bliss.

Got the word late last night that former UF assistant Donnie Jones is going to be the new basketball coach at UCF. (There's nothing about it on the Orlando Sentinel webpage as of 2 AM, so this might be news to them.) This is an interesting move for both parties. UCF fired Kirk Speraw because they wanted to make a major step forward with their basketball program. They've built a quality arena, now they want a team to bring the fans there. Jones did a nice job in three years at Marshall, finding stud freshman Hassan Whiteside and going 24-10 this year. Jones obviously has extensive Florida connections and he already knows C-USA, which should help. My only question is whether Donnie is enough of a Bruce Pearl-esque "salesman" to get the Orlando area media and fans to pay attention. He's a class act and a good coach, so hopefully the answer's yes.

Indications from Chicago are that the Bears may decide to part company with Alex Brown. The arrival of Julius Peppers supposedly made Brown relatively expenedable. If the move happens, either Jacksonville or Tampa Bay should try and get in on Brown as a possible pass rush presence. He's still young enough that he could help, and both can use every bit of crowd pleasing news they can get. Instead, Tampa Bay's ownership is busy explaining that their crowds will be small this season and warning of blackouts. Telling people they're going to miss seeing bad football unless they pay to see it in person isn't much of a marketing tactic, but that's where the Bucs are these days.

ESPN's spent years cramming Mike and Mike down everyone's throat. It started with the TV simulcast of their radio show, and then the guys as play by play for Arena Football. Now they call Monday Night Football's second game of the opening night doubleheader, despite the fact they're awful at it. We've seen them hosting the Spelling Bee, anchoring Sportscenter, hosting game shows, and who could forget their Atlantic City roast? Yet somehow ESPN's convinced you not only want more Mike and Mike, but are willing to pay 26 dollars for their "rules for sports and life". If you are, I implore you to raise your reading standards or find some friends to hang out with.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Urban's Tony Soprano moment

I wrote part of a blog entry yesterday focusing on the soon to be much discussed Urban Meyer confrontation with Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel and then decided I wasn't satisfied with it. Before I wrote on this, I wanted to call around and get some extra perspective from people who were there including Jeremy himself if possible. Having done that, here are my thoughts.

1. As noted here Tuesday, Thompson didn't phrase what he was trying to say very well but to me it was clear his intent was not to take a shot at Tebow. Let's pretend Thompson resented Tebow for not getting him the ball more and secretly believed he was a total chump all last year. Even assuming that to be the case, it still wouldn't make sense for him to even hint at that publicly. Thompson would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that doing so would anger his coach, the fans, and any teammates who were tight with Tebow. What would there be for him to gain? The assumption (one that most of the reporters present for Thompson's postpractice interview made) should have been that he misspoke rather than that he was trying to slam Tim Tebow. Asking a followup to verify that would have been a good idea.

2. Jeremy Fowler is not "a bad guy", despite Urban Meyer calling him that. He's a UF alum who's a solid reporter and worked hard to get where he is. Did he make a mistake in how he handled the Deonte Thompson quote? I believe he did, although I understand why. While it's an accurate quote from Thompson, it's one I learned about first on Jeremy's Twitter feed almost immediately after it was uttered. That is the unfortunate byproduct of all the leaps forward in technology we've made in the past two decades.

First the rise of the web led newspapers and broadcasters to begin racing to get stories online as quickly as possible when news was breaking. That led to more outlets taking gambles than they would have in the past, while shrinking the time for thoughtful reflection on what the news event meant. Now, thanks to Twitter, no one has time to even write the preliminary story. If something's happening or even might be happening you need to put it out on your feed as quick as possible. That's what happened here - Fowler heard a quote that sounded controversial and raced to get it on Twitter and his blog before anyone else did. He didn't ask the kid a trick question or set him up, but he felt like he had something hot his readers were going to want to know. It wasn't done with malicious intent - trying to accumulate Twitter followers and web hits is a huge part of media life these days. I suspect Fowler would not have handled the quote the same way if there wasn't that pressure to rush things onto the web like there is these days.

3. Urban Meyer was a psychology major. Never forget that when evaluating his actions. Could he have reached Fowler by phone, or even called him over on the pratice field and let him have it? It would have been more professional to do it that way, but Meyer didn't want to. He was sending a message to the kids on his team as well as future recruits that he has their backs. Remember this scene from season five of the Sopranos, where Tony roughs one of his underlings up to make clear he's still the man in charge after getting shot and being laid up (warning: bad language on that clip)? To some degree I feel Wednesday's scrap was a Soprano moment. Urban Meyer is smart enough to know he's not going to be able to unilaterally ban the Orlando Sentinel from covering future football events. The warning was issued anyway, as Meyer demonstrated he wasn't going soft post leave of absence.

4. Media commentators will continue to rip Meyer about being a control freak. They're lecturing him about his stress and questioning whether he should even be coaching. Some are taking cheap shots like Mike Bianchi's...

"I always thought a bad guy was someone who breaks the law or commits crimes. You know, like many of the recruits Meyer has brought onto UF’s campus – recruits who have been arrested nearly 30 times since the coach arrived five years ago."

The number is 27, but 'nearly thirty" sounds worse. Not all of those players were Meyer signees, nor were all of them actually guilty of something. Bianchi (a guy I like) is well aware of this, but he's defending his co-worker so he's going to fight dirty. Meyer has his players backs, and the media are going to have their own guy's too. Fans shouldn't get too worked up about it.

I may do a seperate "general subjects" post later - if so it'll be up by noon. If not, have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"You'll get nothing and like it!"

With the St. John's silliness from the NYC tabloids officially a dead issue, I presumed that would be it for Billy Donovan job rumors this year. For some reason, Oregon has now surfaced as a program supposedly making a big offer for him. This makes no sense on almost any level you can name. Donovan has no ties to Oregon or anywhere west of Lexington. He's done little Pacific Northwest recruiting, and I'm guessing the Ryan Appleby experience didn't make him feel like he was missing out. Oregon doesn't even have an AD in place - think Donovan wants to put himself in a work situation where he has no idea who his eventual boss will be? The man turned down Kentucky twice, and a year later similar money to his current deal and a new arena's supposed to make him want to bolt Gainesville? Don't forget that Donovan's son begins play at Catholic U in DC this year. I doubt he's going to want to be on the other side of the country where it'll be almost impossible to go see a game. I can see why Oregon would want a two time national championship coach, but their interest is about as meaningful as me wanting Salma Hayek as a lunch date.

The new overtime rule approved by NFL owners is a good way to start improving the sport, but there was way too much made of it yesterday. It only applies to playoff games for now, and for it to be relevant the team getting the ball has to score only a field goal on their first chance with the ball. Since 1958, there have been 27 overtime playoff games. Only five times, including this year's NFC Championship win by New Orleans, has the team getting the ball won it on the first drive of the overtime. Maybe this new rule will cause coaches to rethink their late game strategy, but if it could have only come into play a maximum of five times in the last half century I'm not going to get too worked up about it just yet.

Alabama got hit with penalties midway through last summer for their players involvement in a textbook scandal. They got probation without scholarships being taken away and didn't lose the ability to be on TV or go to a bowl. The main damage was to the record books with a loss of 21 wins from Bama's official totals. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me for a program in trouble for the third time in fifteen years, but Alabama decided to appeal on the apparent grounds that they shouldn't be punished at all because they didn't want to be. Shockingly, the NCAA did not buy that stellar line of logic and left their penalties intact. The school wasted 175 thousand dollars on that appeal. No word on whether the Brodie Croyle "Bama's Back" SI cover from after the Crimson Tide's now vacated 2005 beatdown of UF has to be taken down in Alabama's football museum.

The idea anyone had a perfect bracket through the first week of the NCAA Tournament seems preposterous. No one out of 4.78 million ESPN entries missed fewer than four games but apparently one exists. It belongs to an autistic teen from the Chicago area. The peculiar thing is that his bracket is entered into a contest that doesn't have a prize attached to it. Since he picked Purdue to win, it's not going to be a perfect bracket after the next games are played but if real it's a neat story.

If you're a Caddyshack fan, as most guys are, you know it's been stripmined for material. The horrible "sequel" without any of the original cast other than a Chevy Chase cameo was bad enough, but there've been trivia games, Caddyshack restaurants (which had no movie connection beyond the name), DVD reissues, Tiger Woods commercials and so much more. I thought every possible tie in had been used up, but then along came a band named Punch Goliath. Their song "Gunga" is composed entirely of lines from the movie. Sadly, "Wang, don't tell 'em you're Jewish" didn't make the cut.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I can hear the sports radio teases now

Today I suspect a lot will be made on talk shows and message boards around SEC country (and maybe nationally, if it's a slow news day) of Deonte Thompson's comment to the Orlando Sentinel about John Brantley replacing Tim Tebow. If someone's looking to spark some controversy, this...

"With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback."

will do the trick. One of Tebow's teammates doesn't think he's a real quarterback! Couple that with the fact Tebow didn't look Thompson's way very often and there will be plenty of attempts to connect dots that aren't there. Thompson did a sloppy job of saying Brantley is a pocket passer while Tebow's running made it harder for receivers to know what to expect on a play, but he clearly isn't intentionally taking a shot at Tebow. That won't stop it from getting hyped up that way though.

Sunday a pair of Tiger Woods interviews had people talking. He spoke with Tom Rinaldi of ESPN and Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel, with both given only five minutes to ask whatever questions they had. The result felt like a combination of the lightning round of a game show with a little speed dating mixed in. The interviews generated a little info, but because of the limitations only a little. Yesterday the word came out that CBS had the chance to interview Woods as well but turned it down rather than dance to his tune. I applaud them for their decision. It would be one thing if they were offered an exclusive with Woods - some info is better than none - but with the five minute restriction all the interviews were going to be very similar. Rinaldi and Tilghman did as well as could have been expected with the time they had, but what's the point of letting Tiger recite his scripted answers on your network too? Meanwhile, Christine Brennan and other feminists are trying to claim Tiger's return at Augusta is a disrespectful gesture to women. Those protests eight years ago worked so well, why not try again?

We're a couple of weeks away from the start of MLB, with the news Joe Mauer is staying in Minnesota prompting much discussion of whether this shows smaller market teams can fend off the big boys to keep their superstars.'s Jon Heyman looks at Tampa Bay's situation with Carl Crawford heading into the final year of his contract and basically says forget about it. If the Rays deal Crawford for parts while still in contention (a la Scott Kazmir) or let the Yankees buy him without a serious fight, it's going to do more damage to that franchise than they know.

Utah media report BYU's Jimmer Fredette is likely to declare for the NBA Draft on the strength of his 37 point performance against Florida. Fredette would have until May 8 to decide whether to come back or not under the new NCAA rule. Having seen that game in person, I can help Fredette with his choice here: STAY. He has as much chance of being an NBA first rounder as I do of being asked to replace Jim Rome tomorrow. Ten of Fredette's 37 came after Kenny Boynton fouled out. Lots of underhand layups and scoring on Ray Shipman do not mean you're an NBA guy.

Walter Hodge's 2006 NCAA Championship ring is up for sale on Ebay. You hate to see someone sell off his momento from something he worked so hard for, although Hodge has a family and if he needs money it's certainly his right to do so. I'm just surprised Hodge's name was publicly linked to the ring. Normally the name of the seller in a situation like this is kept under wraps.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What a weekend

There's so many things to say about the NCAA Tournament that I could write a term paper, but I'm just going to rattle ten of them off rapid fire here...

1. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the world who was at both the Northern Iowa shocker against Kansas and Cornell's beatdown of Wisconsin. Sometimes you just get lucky, and the combo of Florida being assigned to Oklahoma City and Jax being a Friday Sunday site worked out really well for me.

2. Cornell can beat Kentucky. I'm not saying they will, because they played maybe their best game of the year yesterday and there's no way to know how they'll handle all the attention this week, but having seen them both play in person the Big Red is capable of doing it.

3. If your reaction to what Northern Iowa was doing wasn't excitement but instead angst about your bracket, you're missing the point. All weekend I heard people bitching about their blown brackets - who cares? Were you planning on retiring off your riches from the office pool? Besides, if Northern Iowa goes to the Final Four everyone's bracket will lose however far they go. Embrace UNI - those stories are what make the NCAA Tournament so great.

4. Jacksonville had a really good atmosphere in the Coliseum for the Sunday games there, much better than I anticipated given that Duke was the closest of the four teams to the arena. It seemed like a lot of locals got into it as well. Still hard to understand why so little has developed down around the arena though - between Suns games, events at the football stadium and concerts it seems like there should be enough to have a little life down there.

5. It's conceivable we could have a Final Four composed of Northern Iowa (who will make the Elite 8 thanks to Kalin Lucas's injury), Xavier/Butler, Cornell and St. Mary's. Would that be the coolest thing to ever happen, or the worst?

6. Kentucky was not tested in New Orleans, but there was something strange about the trip. Their fans were not there in anything close to the numbers they usually are. Were they saving money for the next round in Syracuse and/or the Final Four? Scared of New Orleans? Cornell is 45 minutes from Syracuse, and you have to imagine all their fans are buying up every ticket they can get their hands on. Will UK actually have to deal with a semi-hostile crowd? (Although in the Carrier Dome it's hard for any hoops crowd other than Syracuse to make overpowering noise.)

7. The committee did a horrible job of seeding teams, something I mentioned Friday but which was further proven over the weekend. Northern Iowa was 10-1 against the RPI Top 100 during the season. They're 12-1 now. Why were they a 9 seed? How was Villanova a 2, or New Mexico a 3?

8. Somehow on a weekend where there was amazing action happening all over the place, Gus Johnson was assigned to the boring Buffalo games where nothing interesting happened at all. If you felt deprived of your annual does of Johnson's over the top excitement, here's the solution to your problem.

9. Leonard Hamilton continues to show no ability at all as an NCAA tournament coach. This is not a one year trend - the man has three NCAA wins in 22 years as a head coach. Last season FSU lost as a five seed in the first round, and this year they appeared totally unprepared to play against Gonzaga. Hamilton has one win as a higher seed ever and none in the last decade. This is as good as it's ever going to get, FSU. After eight years, is that enough?

10. Out of all the teams I saw this weekend, the one that impressed me the most in person was Kansas State. Their play is intense, and if their guards are on they aren't going to lose.

One of the most overrated positions in America is the St. John's basketball job. Because it's in New York, the media there acts like it's a great position. It is not, which is why no other school's head coach besides Mike Jarvis of GWU has taken the job in decades. Jarvis is presumably who NYC AAU coaches were thinking of when they explained to the New York Times that to get good enough players to win at St. John's a coach is going to need to cheat. St. John's doesn't have football revenue to fall back on either, meaning they could be in huge trouble if the Big East breaks up. Does any of that sound like something Billy Donovan would want to walk into while taking a fifty percent or more paycut for the honor? Sorry, not buying that. Donovan did not turn down Kentucky and NBA money in hopes of someday coaching St. John's.

The Miami Dolphins have to be cringing with the news Ronnie Brown picked up a DUI in Atlanta over the weekeend. Brown's a restricted free agent with a big enough tender that no one else is likely to make a move on him. He's coming back off a major foot injury, and now you add an off field screwup to the list. How much money can you give a guy with that on his resume? Brown's the key to the Wildcat offense too, since Pat White doesn't appear to be a factor in it. Lots of questions and not a lot of answers anytime soon on Brown, which is going to be a serious headache for the Dolphins to deal with going forward.

Friday, March 19, 2010

All suggestions for good Oklahoma City sports bars are welcome

Florida's stay in the NCAA Tournament turned out to be just one game. Frustrating as it was for Gator fans to watch, I think there are positives they can take from their double overtime loss to BYU that might be greater than if they had gotten a victory. They were dead at the end of that game. I don't know how much it came across on TV, but Parsons clearly didn't have the same lift on his jumper late in the game. Kenny Boynton was exhausted, and both of them visibly limped off the podium after the press conference. Playing K State in front of a huge pro-Wildcat crowd coming off a game where three starters played forty minutes or more and no one less than 33 would have been a blueprint for disaster. This way Florida's players have the frustration of that final close game to motivate them all through the offseason to find ways to make next season not have so many of them. I suspect that will be more helpful than an easily excusable beatdown would have. Can't plagiarize myself from the stories I wrote for after the game under the terms of my contract with them, so I'll have to leave it at that here.

The first day of the tournament was terrific, which we deserved after last year's whole event was pretty lame. It drives home again how wide open this field is, because there just aren't many good teams. The committee did a bad job seeding teams, and nothing proved it more than the six seeds. Tennessee was 14th in the RPI and had wins over the top two teams in the field, while Notre Dame was 49th and Marquette 50th. Somehow the pro-Big East zealots on the committee concluded they all deserved the same seed. UT's still around, while both of the Big East frauds are gone. With Georgetown getting embarassed by an Ohio team that was seeded ninth in the MAC and Villanova barely escaping Robert Morris in overtime, it would seem the Big East has just about locked up biggest disappointment status for this year.

I don't spend much time on, but that may have to change. Yesterday they broke a story about Oklahoma basketball star Tiny Gallon receiving three thousand dollars from an agent that had people here in OKC going crazy on the radio. Meanwhile, when I went to read the story I got to see this trash - the woman Sandra Bullock's husband supposedly had an affair with doing a photoshoot dressed as a Nazi. Hopefully I won't need to go to TMZ again anytime soon. (Bullock's husband Jesse James is not only an idiot for cheating on her, he appears to have the worst taste in mistresses of anyone in the history of the planet.)

It appears alleged superstar tailback Bryce Brown will in fact leave Tennessee, likely in favor of Kansas State. Good thing Lane Kiffin committed multiple violations to sign Brown, huh? I didn't see a lot of evidence that Brown was a special player last year, and now this move confirms he's not. Just another example of how recruiting hype doesn't ensure you'll get a player who can back up his press clippings. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here Monday morning.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Best day of the year

Some years I've headed into the NCAA Tournament pretty sure of what Florida was going to do. For example, no one was surprised when Manhattan beat them in 2004 even though UF was the higher seed. This year's model of the Gators makes it impossible to have a clue. You tend to suspect the game will be within a couple of posessions with five minutes to go and then we'll see which way it goes, because that's been the pattern all year. Getting down fifteen early against BYU, as UF has made a habit of doing and then trying to dig out from under it in recent games, would be disastrous. This is an excellent free throw shooting team, led by a guy in Jimmer Fredette that was described to me by one of the staff yesterday as being a Lee Humphrey shooter with Taurean Green's ability to handle the ball. Talking to Kenny Boynton yesterday, he's looking forward to the challenge of guarding him but says there's really not anyone they've seen all year who plays like this kid. I'm really curious to watch this matchup. BYU's lost seven straight first round games - UF can not let them get a huge boost of confidence early in this one.

The game tips at 10:20 in the morning BYU time, which may help the Gators get off to a decent start. I expect BYU to have a decent number of fans there, but not enough to likely make a huge difference in the atmosphere at the arena. The Ford Center's a good facility, and I like that it's a basketball arena as its primary task rather than the seating being set up for hockey or the ridiculous dome arrangements. Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin are the key figures for this one - if Tyus stinks it up as he tends to do every few games, Florida is going to lose. Macklin has really impressed me with his development as the year's gone on, but Mississippi State showed you can take him away with doubleteaming if Tyus is not playing with his head in the game. UF's advantage is on the inside, and those guys HAVE to deliver.

I can't understand why the media insists on reporting nonsense stories around this time of year about how much productivity is supposedly being "lost" by workers watching the NCAAs. People will do their jobs. Instead of spending a half hour talking to somebody two cubicles over about the concert they went to over the weekend, they'll spend it watching hoops. The idea that normally workers focus exclusively on their jobs to the exclusion of all else and then "Fill in the Blank" sporting event distracts them and costs X dollars in "worker productivity" is total horse crap. In the same vein, if you're getting worked up because Obama does a quick PR hit with Andy Katz picking out his bracket then you really need to relax. Presidents of both parties have done stuff like this for decades. If you dislike Obama's policies, that's one thing. Attacking him for doing this is just petty.

I'd love to be daring and creative with my pick, but Kansas is the best team I've seen this year so that's who I'm saying should win. My Final Four has them meeting West Virginia for the title with Baylor and Kansas State the other two teams. That won't be right, of course, especially since I have three teams from the Big 12 in it - only the Big East in 85 has done that. I hate the West region - wound up with K State by default because I couldn't convince myself to buy in on anyone else in the high seeds there given the questions about Syracuse right now. Best of luck with your bracket if you filled one out - time for me to head to the arena.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bert and Ernie, on the other hand...

One possible side effect of the Tiger Woods announcement yesterday, which immediately put ESPN into all-Tiger all the time mode, is that it might reduce the national overreaction to whatever Tim Tebow does at Pro Day this morning. It's unlikely he's been able to completely revamp his throwing motion in a few weeks, but I suspect it will look better. After the ridiculous response to his perfectly unremarkable Wonderlic score, I'm sure the usual posse of people who seem to have made ripping Tebow their full time job leading up to the draft will find something to base him again for. One sample sneering tweet from a basher last night: "Only twelve more hours before I see the lefthanded Messiah in Gainesville" Hopefully things go well for Tebow - he's not perfect, but I do not understand the obsession some have with tearing him down.

MSU's Rick Stansbury better have a fine or suspension coming his way after his comments about the officials not calling a potential lane violation in the Bulldogs SEC Championship loss the Kentucky. It's one thing to be frustrated with a missed call, even though it didn't affect what happened, but when you trot out lines like "At Mississippi State, you’re supposed to take it and be quiet." my sympathy ends. No one was rigging that game against MSU. If anything, the conference had every reason to want them to win and ensure a fourth SEC NCAA bid. For Stansbury to even insinuate otherwise is irresponsible, and he should be hammred for it under the Lane Kiffin rule.

Apparently someone was under the impression Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo, who we're told every Michigan State hoops broadcast are best friends, might actually be more than friends. As they revealed to HBO'S Real Sports, ummm... no. Not quite. Some people really need to back away from the gossip maagzines, it would appear.

I'm on my way to Oklahoma City to cover Florida in the NCAA Tournament. I imagine they'll be some conversation about Charles Pierce's over the top rip job of John Calipari there and elsewhere today. Never been to Oklahoma, so this should be interesting. Time to board my flight, so I have to cut the blog entry here. More UF details tomorrow after watching them practice and talking with the kids today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I guess Ari told him to do it

It's official now that Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf at the Masters. It makes perfect sense for a lot of reasons. Majors are the main thing he cares about (on the course, anyway) so it stands to reason he wouldn't want to miss one. The media's access is more controlled at that Masters than any other tournament, so it will be easy for him to talk as little as he wants. I've got practice round tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday this year, and I'll be very curious to get a firsthand look at how things seem to be going for Tiger when he's out there. What will be fascinating is how the announcers treat Tiger's return. We know that Augusta yanked Gary McCord off their broadcasts for the terrible sin of referring to the greens being smooth as "bikini wax". Will they tell the broadcasters they're forbidden to discuss the obvious story here?

In the last year it suddenly became the trend for anyone who got into trouble in football to seek out Tony Dungy for some combination of guidance and absolution for their sins. It was a little overdone, but I understand why people would want to be associated with Tony. He's a winner, a quality person, and a tremendously nice guy. What I can't figure out is how Ari Fleischer has suddenly become some sort of "go to guy" in sports. The former George W. Bush spokesman has been hired as a PR guru and then dumped by MLB and the Green Bay Packers, yet last week Tiger Woods reportedly hired him. Now Tampa Bay has him looking for a new Buccaneers Director of Communications, as if the Bucs problems last season were their spokesman's fault. It's not like Fleischer was some beloved figure as White House Press Secretary, and his sports PR strategies that have played out a national stage were ineffective. The BCS anti-playoff website and Twitter feed are active insults to the intelligence of anyone who cares about college football. Why are people hiring this guy?

One of the most trite things in the world to do this time of year is to have a "bracket" of women and vote them against each other to determine the hottest. This was really edgy stuff around the mid-90s. Esquire Magazine is doing just that, but there's one part of their rankings that's getting attention. Sixteenth in their sports seedings for sexiest woman alive is Lane Kiffin. Maybe he can turn this into some sort of positive, like Li'l Wayne's "shoutout". I'm just surprised at a shot like this coming from Esquire, which is generally more known for suggesting outfits for fall that cost thirteen thousand dollars. Must be a Tennessee alum on the staff somewhere. By the way, Scott Podsednik's wife is criminally underseeded, and Danica Patrick has no business being in the same conversation with Erin Andrews.

Mike Tyson is doing a new television show. You're expecting a train wreck reality show following Mike around and waiting for him to go crazy and kill someone, aren't you? Try Mike as competitive pigeon trainer instead. There have been previous pieces focused on Tyson's love of pigeon raising, and apparently Animal Planet wants to show just how intense the competition can be. If it keeps Mike from doing damage to himself or others, here's to the pigeons.

I read a lot of stories daily, but I haven't seen many quite as inane as this one. Did you know there are people who are on Facebook who later decide to delete their account and leave the website? The Boston Herald has the shocking truth! The idea that some of these narcissists really think the world cares whether they're on Facebook blows my mind. If you want to use it, go ahead. If not, don't. If that decision is causing you a great deal of mental angst, you clearly don't have a very challenging life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gator fans owe DeMarcus Cousins one

Florida's back in the NCAA field after two years in the NIT. I believe their success in returning depended on the outcome of yesterday's SEC Tournament championship. Once Kentucky beat Mississippi State, no matter how close it was, there was no logical way to pick the Bulldogs over Florida without saying the regular season was meaningless. Is MSU better than Florida? If both teams play their best, I'd say so. The reality is State didn't play their best often enough, beat no one of any value out of conference, and had multiple terrible losses on their resume. UF had to be the choice if MSU didn't beat UK. I firmly believe the committee had one spot assigned to MSU/UF depending on the game's outcome. I've read a number of things claiming Florida must not have been a bubble team since they were a ten seed. Remember, just last season a USC team that had no shot of making the field otherwise won the Pac-10 tournament and were assigned a 10 seed. Just because that's the number you were given doesn't mean it reflects your actual standing.

Just as Florida likely should be lower than a ten seed on pure merit as opposed to what it takes to make the bracket work best, BYU should probably be higher. This is a very challenging opponent for the Gators, one which may have gotten a seven because they have to be in a Thursday/Saturday region due to the school's Mormon status. Florida is capable of beating BYU, because their inside play is pretty weak, but this will not be an easy game. I'm not sure if the 12:20 start time (which equates to a 10:20 AM start for BYU) is a good or bad thing for UF. Last time they were in this spot of being the first game of the tournament was in 2004 against Manhattan and they were awful. We'll see if this group comes out with some intensity after getting wrecked early by MSU Friday and really struggling at the start of four of their last five.

ESPN has done Joe Lunardi a great disservice by overexposing him so much the last couple of years. He had Gator fans worked up with his proclamation they would not make it in, which was incorrect. Lunardi used to just be on ESPN's website, which was fine. Now his "last four out" are on the bottom line as if they're news, and he's on the air all the time! Lunardi has never been an athletic director, basketball coach, or a member of the selection committee. He has no way of understanding which factors matter most to a particular year's committee, since its makeup changes every year. My dog Mader could have picked out about 93 percent of this field. Lunardi's job is to correctly call the teams that make up that other seven percent as well as guess the seeds. Check his seedings of teams like UTEP or Clemson - off by three full spots. Lunardi's a guy who used to do this as a hobby and is now touted as some all knowing guru. He's not, and never has been. ESPN needs to dial the Lunardi hype way down.

As for the bracket overall, I'm not thrilled about the way the field is set up. Kansas seems to have gotten a particularly challenging region, while Duke has little to scare it. If you're the Blue Devils, you could get to the Elite 8 by beating a 16 seed, a mediocre and inconsistent Louisville team, and a Purdue squad without its best player. The committee sure gave Jacksonville some real hot teams - other than Duke, they have a 16 seed, a Cal team that's not likely to bring any fans or have alums there, three private schools, plus Wisconsin and Louisville. Gee, thanks guys. All about the tournament today - I'll broaden back out tomorrow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time for things to get interesting

Good morning from Nashville, where Florida puts its basketball season on the line against Auburn today. It'll likely be a close game, as all UF's seem to be this season, but I suspect there'll be a reason for me to be here tomorrow. Only had a little time to spend on today's blog, but didn't want to miss a day.

The latest chapter in the insanely excessive scrutiny of Tim Tebow leading up the draft is his Wonderlic score. Tebow got a 22, which is unremarkable. An average person apparently scores a 21, and most of the QBs in this draft were within a couple of answers of Tebow's total. Your headline: TIM TEBOW SCORES BELOW AVERAGE! Apparently the average QB does a 24. Wow, two whole correct answers below average. I'm sure Tebow's success or failure in the NFL will prove to have hinged on this test. The Wonderlic is a tool for evaluation, but it does not measure anything close to all the categories necessary to succeed in the league. Tebow's score aside, it's been clear for awhile that there's virtually no correlation between Wonderlic scores amd anything that follows in the pros. People have got to ease up on the Tebow stuff - between this and the absurd complaints about him doing an autograph signing for cash last week, we've gotten bogged down in nonsense. Let the guy play, and judge accordingly.

Sad news for Dolphin fans, as Jim Mandich reveals he's dealing with cancer and will give up his sports talk show in Miami. Mandich is as distinctive as it gets on NFL radio broadcasts these days, and even though he screams over the play by play guy all the time it works. There had been some speculation that Mandich's recent absence from his show was related to the Dolphin rights being grabbed by Clear Channel. Clearly that was not the case, and I certainly hope Mandich will be well enough to call the Dolphins games this fall.

I always enjoy reading the Onion, because they have a true knack for satirizing the absurdities of both news coverage and daily life. Sometimes there are people who don't grasp that Onion stories are a joke, which is how Chinese news organizations actually wound up reporting that Congress was threatening to leave Washington unless they got a new Capitol building with a retractable dome and luxury boxes. When I heard about the proposal to bar restaurants in New York from using any salt in food preparation, I honestly thought it had to be a similar situation. No one could possibly be stupid enough to attempt to ban restaurants from using a staple of cooking all over the world for centuries. Turns out I was wrong. I understand people are trying to make our population healthier, but this is the kind of nonsense that leads to the creation of the Heart Attack Grill in response.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Imagine how good Wall would be if he was the best freshman

Greetings from Tennessee. I'm on my way to Nashville to cover the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament beginning today. I always enjoy this event, but right before it the SEC always seems to go out of its way to come off looking really silly when it announces the yearly awards. This year was no exception, as John Wall was voted Player of the Year by the same group of coaches that then somehow did NOT vote him Freshman of the Year. At least that could be spun as a desire to spread the award wealth around to multiple kids, but there's simply no justifying Kevin Stallings as Coach of the Year over John Calipari. These are the facts:

1. Calipari and Stallings matched up twice, with Calipari's team winning each of them
2. Kentucky finished two games ahead of Vandy
3. Both teams were in the NIT last year, so it's not like Calipari had a ready made team waiting for him
4. Calipari's doing what he did largely with freshmen, while Stallings has experienced players galore

Stallings did a fine job, but this is just about as absurd as him winning the award three years ago. That year Billy Donovan, who has still never been voted Coach of the Year, won his second straight national title. But how could an achievement like that possibly impress anyone compared to Stallings going 10-6 in conference play?

Did you know Paul Hewitt has been basketball coach at Georgia Tech for a decade? Somehow it just didn't seem all that long to me. What's extraordinary about that tenure is Hewitt has lasted ten years and only has one winning ACC record in that time span. Now it appears his job may be in jeopardy. Hard to argue with that line of thinking, because there's no reason GT shouldn't be better than that with the city of Atlanta to recruit to and their program's history.

One of my favorite traditions in sports is the playing of CBS's One Shining Moment" NCAA tournament clip montage at the end of the Final Four. The decision a few years back to have the team be able to watch it together as a group on the floor was brilliant. Seeing UF's kids enjoy the moment together in Indianapolis when they won their first one was a lot of fun. Since 2003, the version of the song they've played was recorded by Luther Vandross. It's believed to be the last thing he recorded before the stroke which subsequently killed him. Vandross was one of the alltime great voices, yet CBS has decided to change to a new version by Jennifer Hudson. Hudson's a talented woman and I'm sure she does a fine job with the song, but this is stupid. Is this supposed to be a hook to get a younger audience to watch? It's going to run after midnight - good luck with that. Sometimes things don't need to be messed with - this was one of them.

Also falling in the category of bad ideas: Robert DeNiro will play Vince Lombardi in a movie chronicling his run with the Packers. We all know how good an actor DeNiro is, but I hate movies where someone famous whose face we know this well tries to convince you they're someone else. For every "Ray", where Jamie Foxx pulled it off, there are many more "Nixon"s. Anthony Hopkins is a terrific actor, but no matter how much face putty they put on him he still did not remotely resemble Richard Nixon. It's distracting, because instead of focusing on the storyline you wind up critiquing the star's impression of the famous person. Casting DeNiro as any football coach seems like a stretch to me - as this football coach, it's ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Maybe we can have a telethon for the Big Ten

Tampa Bay's been quiet in free agency, but I like yesterday's trade for Philadelphia wide receiver Reggie Brown. Brown's never lived up to his potential. He was supposed to be Superman when Georgia signed him as the top WR recruit in the country. Despite not having a spectacular college career his physical tools still got him drafted high. For the Eagles he's had good moments but never been dominant. Despite that, he's an experienced NFL performer with good ability and they got him for a sixth round pick a year from now. That's a reasonable price to pay for a guy who might turn out to be a nice surprise this fall.

It may not seem like a big deal for Georgia's redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger to be arrested on five counts related to underage drinking and having a fake ID, but it is. This episode will almost certainly result in him being suspended for at least one game under Georgia's alcohol policies, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was two. That means Mark Richt's game one QB options will consist of redshirt freshman Aaron Murray and junior Logan Gray, who is expected to be moved to wide receiver. Murray had better be good and stay healthy, because week two has Georgia on the road in Columbia. That could be a real adventure.

Sports Business Journal reports the ACC's goal is to increase their broadcast revenue from its current 70 million per year to 120 million. Sounds like a great idea, except for one little detail. What incentive does anyone have to spend big money to secure the rights to NC State-Wake Forest in football? Apparently the conference has tried to get the NFL Network interested in showing some games. They might be willing to do that for some Saturday programming, but they're certainly not going to pay much for it. Beyond UNC-Duke in hoops twice a year, what featured "must see" event does this conference have to sell anyone right now? FSU and/or Miami might be good again eventually and some other basketball games are good, but very little feels special. Good luck getting that extra fifty million.

As noted yesterday, I enjoy conference basketball tournaments. They give every team, no matter how crappy their season's been, a reason not to just give up. There's always a chance of getting in a groove for a few days and still making the NCAAs. Beyond that, they're a great revenue stream for conferences. That's why I couldn't believe how pathetically chintzy it was of the Pac-10 and Big Ten to cut the player gifts out of this year's budgets. Football kids get gifts of 500 bucks or less from their bowl trip, basketball kids get theirs at the tournament. The conferences get the items at a discount for a bulk purchase, and the combined cost of the whole thing could be paid for by the money from a few of the luxury suites at the event the kids are playing in. Think Jim Delany or the Big Ten staff are going to stay in cheap hotels to save money, or grab their dinner at the concession stands? Not a chance in hell - just take the budget cut out of the athletes experience. The Atlantic 10 can afford to take care of their kids and the Big Ten can't? Really classy, guys.

If the Big Ten is looking to save on food costs, I've got just the thing. How about a seven pound hot dog? They say it's good for fifty servings, and it's marked down to just 29.99. I'm sure there are some things that would concern me more if I was eating them than a marked down seven pound hot dog, but other than that poisonous fish Japanese folks enjoy as sushi I'm not sure what those would be.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back in action

Word is out that Tim Tebow will work out specifically for the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills after his general workout at UF's Pro Day next week. Both teams would make a lot of sense as possible destinations, particularly Buffalo. Remember, Jim Kelly has endorsed Tebow as a QB option and the city was willing to embrace T.O. for a year in the pursuit of winning. The franchise needs to sell tickets, and they need hope. If Tebow goes in there and runs over some people, that will fit perfectly with Buffalo's self image as a blue collar town.

I normally stay away from NASCAR here on the blog, but what Carl Edwards did Sunday can't be ignored. There's no getting around the fact he could have easily killed someone, be it Brad Keselowksi or a fan, because he was pitching a temper tantrum. This crap is unacceptable, which is why it amazes me that some people are arguing that docking him 100 points is an adequate penalty. Will that hurt Edwards in the standings? Of course, but that's not good enough. He should sit the next race to make it clear to everyone that while there's always going to be some bumping out on the track you can not take it to that level he did on a speedway like Atlanta.

Another automatic bid will be awarded tonight to the winner of Wofford and Appalachian State's game in the Southern Conference tournament. I went to the night session of this Saturday, and it was fun to experience an event like that from a different perspective than I get from the SEC tourney. The schools in the SoCon know the only way they're getting into the NCAA field is to win, and they play like it. The fans were having a great time and it wasn't anywhere near as corporate feeling as the SEC. Check tonight's game out - both teams are pretty good.

You likely didn't feel there was a sports parallel in Sandra Bullock winning the Best Actress Oscar last night. I disagree. It's ridiculous that she won, of course. No one in the building, Bullock included, believes she gave a better performance than Meryl Streep in whatever movie Streep is nominated for this year. So why did Bullock win? Because she's likeable, and has made a bunch of money for studios with successful pictures, and there's a strong chance she'll never get a shot at the award again. Meanwhile Streep has won just two Academy Awards, none since 1982. Basically, Bullock is Karl Malone or Charles Barkley. Michael Jordan won 5 MVPs, but he should have at least three more and maybe more than that. He was the MVP of every year he played in the 90s, but voters wanted to throw other guys a bone so they ignored the facts and did what they felt like. It's stupid, but it happens all the time which is why anything we can do to minimize the impact of voting in sports is a great thing. As for Bullock, turns out she could have had Big Baby Davis of the Celtics as a co-star.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Sorry for no Thursday post, but I'm having a serious computer issue at the moment. My main laptop's no longer receiving any power - the spot where the cord connects appears to have gotten damaged. Not sure what I can do about that. As a result, I'm using my backup laptop, which is a "My First Computer" by Tonka - memory issues and outdated browsers abound. There are plenty of things on my mind, including Florida's hopes of making the NCAAs and NFL free agency (looks like the Dolphins are going to make an early free agent splash), but I just don't have time to write about them given my technology situation. I'll get it sorted out over the weekend and resume the usual routine here Monday. One more thing: I strongly encourage you to take the time to watch the story of Butch Lumpkin, an extraordinary man excelling in the face of tremenedous adversity. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some people are just not lucky

Dan Werner's final basket at the O'Connell Center was for the opponent, and largely provided the points for them to win (officially Ogilvy was credited with the bucket on Werner's tip in). That kind of cruel twist of fate doesn't happen very often, but the karma dispenser for Werner is apparently broken. Watching him feels like a real life version of Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and Lucy yanking it away at the last minute. For Florida things now become extremely shaky for the tournament, barring a shocking win at Kentucky. I still think they can get in with two wins in Nashville. Even one MIGHT do it, but it will be a very nervous Sunday if that's all they get. There's no escaping one simple fact: the last two years this team has lost road games at Georgia and South Carolina. Win any of the four, and they're in the tournament. If they don't make it this season, those games will be the reason why.

Savvy move by the Tampa Bay Rays to bring back Rocco Baldelli as a special assistant. He should be in the prime of his career right now, but despite being 28 various physical ailments have rendered Baldelli unable to play. The guy was a solid big league performer before his mitochondrial disorder threw his career off course, and his perspective as a guy who came up through the organization can be invaluable when it comes to counseling young players. It's good PR as well. Very smart decision by Tampa Bay management - wish I could say that about any of the teams more often.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Rutgers has emerged as the Big ten's number one target for expansion, followed by Missouri. Apparently they think adding Rutgers will make New York City a Big Ten town. They're delusional if they believe that, as they'll learn the hard way. Missouri makes a lot more sense as a new conference member, but if they don't come after them there will be a huge sigh of relief coming from the Big 12. The Tribune also says two Big Ten sources believe the main reason for expansion is so that conference Commissioner Jim Delany can add another accomplishment to his legacy. Even for an egomaniac like Delany, that's hard for me to believe.

Former Kentucky football coach Guy Morriss probably tipped us all off to the fact he wasn't too bright when he left the SEC to take over at Baylor. (No one's left an SEC head coaching job for another school in decades except for him and Lane Kiffin.) After getting canned at Baylor, Morriss has moved down the food chain to Texas A&M-Commerce. He's back on the radar because of some disgraceful and imbecilic behavior by members of his football team. The school's student newspaper had a report on team members being arrested in a drug bust, so players decided a good way to handle the situation was for them to take and destroy all the papers so no one could read about it. (Apparently they haven't heard of the internet yet.) So what did Morriss have to say for his guys? He called it "the best team building exercise we have ever done" and said he was proud of them. Simply put, he should be ex-coach Guy Morriss immediately. If he's actually so dense he doesn't understand this behavior was both pointless (since it attracted vastly more attention to the story) and illegal (mass paper grabbings have been both going on, and considered theft when they have, for eons) then Morriss doesn't have any business being a supposed "molder of young men".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

At least Tebow isn't on Dancing with the Stars

I can't remember a Senior Night at the O'Connell Center quite like the one that will be held tonight for Dan Werner. He and the crowd both hope not to be back there for an NIT game in two weeks, but there's lots more to it than that. Werner has come to symbolize the frustrations of the post championship era of Gator basketball for fans. They, particularly the students, have not been bashful about sharing that fact with him. Werner was supposed to be an ace three point shooter out of high school but has never been able to do that consistently in college. He wound up so low on confidence he's seeing a sports psychologist. Early in his UF career, Werner struggled with adapting to the freedom that came with college life. Midway through his second season he began making really sharp plays that demonstrated what great basketball intelligence he has. Despite that, Werner also seems to have a remarkable ability to botch something crucial at the worst possible time - losing track of Zam Fredrick defensively at the end of the South Carolina game last year springs to mind, as does Saturday's inexplicable pass attempt with two seconds remaining in the game. Here's hoping that tonight Werner is able to have success in his final night on the Odome floor, but also that the students will show some class if he doesn't.

The NFL has changed its draft routine this year, with the first round only on Thursday night and then the second and third rounds the next evening. Now that the second round picks will be featured in prime time, the league may invite second rounders to the draft. This actually makes sense considering the second round will be getting the same exposure as the first now. If this goes through, count on it being described as the Tim Tebow Effect. He's got a fanbase eager to see him selected that will tune in until he is, which has to be what led the league to contemplate this potential change. Post Combine, Tebow needs to disappear for a bit. Between the "new throwing motion" story, his Super Bowl ad and the Senior Bowl he's been in the news almost every day for months. A break would be a good idea for his image and his NFL chances.

Bobby Bowden is apparently coming out with another book this fall. "Called to Coach" will hit bookstores in August. Interesting timing, especially since Terry Bowden is described in the linked article as being reluctant to discuss the situation with his father and FSU. Will Bobby go after the school's administration right before the season starts as revenge for what happened last year? I doubt he'll completely unload on them, but I'll be curious to see how much mud Bowden is willing to throw. Bobby has come out with several books already - wonder how much fresh material he'll have for the ghostwriter this time?

I'm lucky enough not to have a wife who forces me to watch "Dancing With the Stars", so I can honestly say that I have never seen a second of the show as it aired. I have wound up seeing highlight clips of guys like Jerry Rice and Warren Sapp, because one of their staple casting devices has been to put former jocks on the show. This year, they've switched it up and gone with current ones, as Ochocinco and the men's figure skating gold medalist have signed up. I'm somewhat surprised Erin Andrews will do it after her stalking nightmare last year, but I'll be rooting for her. Is it a bad sign that I have literally never heard of three of the eleven "stars" and the fourth I only know the name of from an article I read because he was just "the Bachelor"?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Laces out, Dan

Florida basketball's loss to Georgia Saturday was something you could see coming a mile away. This team refuses to make anything easy. Alex Tyus was absolutely awful Saturday. Wherever his head was, it was not in that game. Tomorrow night, he has to come out and play or Florida is not going to beat Vanderbilt. Chandler Parsons told me after the game, "When Alex plays well, we play well." In Athens, he didn't and neither did they. Of course Dan Werner should have taken the shot at the end, but nothing in history gives any reason to believe he would make it. That game was lost with a disastrous showing defensively in the first half, not on the final play. Thanks to the Tennessee win over Kentucky, UF's likely degree of difficulty for picking up a win at the SEC Tournament may have gone way up as well since they're just about guarunteed to be the fourth seed (and thus don't get to face LSU). Dan Werner Senior Night is going to be interesting.

While pro football beat guys are busy dissecting every last drill from the NFL Combine, the most important story to me from Indianapolis this week had nothing to do with 40 times. The NFL is finally going to take a look at a new overtime idea. It wouldn't get rid of sudden death completely, but it would require a touchdown to win on the first posession. I'm all for anything that makes the deciding moments of a game more like real football than a field goal kicking contest. Want to win? You'd better go score a TD rather than settling for a 42 yard field goal try on first down with ten minutes left on the clock. Hopefully this will pass.

As much as it was disappointing for the US to lose the hockey final to Canada yesterday, I'm glad that happened in overtime. That game was entirely too good to go down to the ridiculously artifical shootout. Unfortunately for the NHL, if potential new fans want to follow up on a hugely viewed game like yesterday's by watching more hockey they're probably not going to be able to find it. Versus has a game at 9 tonight, but finding that would require people who aren't already NHL savvy to 1. know Versus exists, 2. know it has the league's TV deal and 3. know where to find it on the dial. Good luck with that - nice call to take the games off ESPN, Gary Bettman. Bettman doesn't seem to want the NHL to make players available for the Olympics in 2014, which tells you all you really need to know. How does this man still have his job?

I was surprised when I was driving in Tampa last week to see a huge Tag Heuer billboard on Dale Mabry Highway featuring Tiger Woods. I thought by now just about everyone had taken down their Tiger signage with the exception of Nike in their stores. Turns out that for the luxury watch company, Tiger's much chronicled adventures have made him a more effective endorser. Apparently in China having a number of mistresses is very impressive to the people Tag Heuer is looking to reach. Not sure if they think he got the women because of the snazzy watch or not. Tiger aside, I can't think of a single human alive that could get me to want to buy a luxury watch just because they supposedly wear one. Apparently people who do base their purchases on such things exist, but I'm not sure I have ever met one.