Troubled times have officially arrived for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman is out for at least the rest of preseason with a broken bone in his thumb, meaning the second year guy is missing out on a lot of valuable prep time for his first full season as the starting QB. I was stunned to learn that only 30 thousand people even bothered to show up for Saturday's game with the Chiefs. Part of that is because preseason football is awful - seven turnovers and zero TDs in the dreadful Jets/Panthers game I was covering - but a crowd that small is making a statement. The franchise has seemingly done everything in its power to alienate their fans, and the bill for their previous poor decisions is coming due. Any chance of them getting people back on board by winning early just vanished with Freeman's injury.
Perhaps the single most loathed person in all of sports media found trouble over the weekend. Jay Mariotti, currently a columnist for Fanhouse and one of the panel clowns on ESPN's Around the Horn, was arrested for suspicion of felony domestic assault. The sports media world reacted to the news with shock - not that Mariotti was arrested but that he had a girlfriend. It is not a stretch to say Mariotti is despised by everyone he's come into contact with. He's an unpleasant person to deal with, but it's more than that. Mariotti's commentary has always been the definition of the phrase "all heat, no light" - fire everyone, unless they're the champs in which case they're the best ever. He refuses to go to the locker room and actually interview the people he rips, or face their response. It's completely unsurprising that a man who's scared of Ozzie Guillen might do something like this, but even a jerk like Jay Mariotti is entitled to defend himself before people judge him. Most people won't give him that consideration, because if it was another media figure in this spot he wouldn't do it for them either. I assume he'll be suspended from any of his public roles until this is resolved. If he's guilty, that'll likely be the last we ever see of him. Should that happen, good riddance.
The AP college football poll came out Saturday, with Boise State ranked ridiculously high at number three. That puts them ahead of Florida, meaning a majority of AP voters contend the Broncos would be favored on a neutral field in a game between the two. Look at the level of talent on the two teams and explain to me how that's possible. The answer, of course, is that it isn't possible. Florida would be a sizable favorite over the "teacher's pet" Broncos team anywhere away from BSU's blue turf. USC would probably be favored as well, even though they're really thin on depth right now. People in Los Angeles are actually floating scenarios where an undefeated USC wins the AP national title. These folks clearly haven't watched Lane Kiffin coach if they're worried about that right now.
Now that Lou Piniella has stepped down as manager of the Chicago Cubs, who will replace him? How's John Cusack grab you? Okay, that would only be in the movies although Cusack would have as good a chance as Piniella of getting something done with this Cubs team. I like Cusack's work, but this would be the least convincing casting since John Goodman as Babe Ruth.
For sustained rambling stupidity it's hard to top this column from Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News ripping Tony Dungy for having the nerve to criticize Rex Ryan for cursing up a storm on HBO's Hard Knocks program. Raissman's argument is based on the notion Dungy is a hypocrite for saying he wouldn't hire someone known for a blue streak like Ryan is when Dungy didn't see the context of the remarks. By that standard, Dungy can't say he'd rather not eat something without tasting it first. One bite's not enough as a sample either, he has to eat the whole thing to know whether it all tasted good or not. Whatever Raissman's point was in writing this, it's hard to imagine Dungy wound up on the wrong side of a rip job column for coming out against sustained public cursing bad enough that the curser's own mother criticized him for it. Who knew THAT was a controversial stance?