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Kiffin continues fantastic SEC start

February 10, 2009

Ok- I have held off on commenting much about the whole Lane Kiffin incident, out of respect for some good friends on this site who are UT fans. Truth be told, even as a Florida fan, I’ve never really had a hatred for Tennessee football the way I do for Duke basketball, Manu Ginobili or Hitler. I’ve always respected their program, and the way they handled their business. Phil Fulmer had his faults, but he was a classy coach and he put out some tremendous pros. Besides, UT being good only made the conference as a whole look better, and as SEC fans, that’s something we hang our hats on – the top-to-bottom strength of our conference year in and year out.

But this is getting to be too much now. Less than three months into the job, Kiffin has managed to talk trash to the four most accomplished coaches in the league; Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier. He has guaranteed a win over Florida in The Swamp this year, accused Meyer of breaking an NCAA rule that doesn’t exist, accused a recruit’s high school of being incompetent, stolen coaches off other SEC staffs, admitted he encouraged a recruit to lie about his commitment until Signing Day, and generally put his foot in his mouth over and over and over.

Kiffin has done a lot of talking in his first few months at Tennessee.

Kiffin has done a lot of talking in his first few months at Tennessee.

(His apology to Florida was almost more insulting than the false accusations, saying he “never meant to offend anyone.”  Really? Calling someone a cheater was never meant to offend them? Come on.)

Then, it comes out today that Tennessee has self-reported two secondary recruiting violations. WHAT???  You can’t make this stuff up.

Look- the violations are no big deal. Every school has a ton of secondary violations during the recruiting process. In all honesty, the violations – using a fog machine as a recruit entered the stadium and holding a mock press conference – don’t seem to be a big deal at all. But it’s just the timing of all of this…just a few days after he wrongly accused another coach of cheating and being reprimanded by the SEC for not knowing the rules and violating their ethical policy, turns out Lane still has some studying left to do on the rules.

Again, let me say I don’t really care about the violations. Every school, my Gators included, does this. But the fact that it all happened while Lane was still wiping the egg off his face from last week’s false accusations does strike me as …well…hilarious.

I have no problem with a coach trying to infuse a little energy into his program. Like I said, the SEC benefits when their traditional power programs, like UT and Auburn, are good teams. But there’s a big difference between bringing energy into your program, or using false bravado to try to make a name for yourself by downgrading other programs.

Kiffin better hope his Vols can back up his words and bravado.

Kiffin better hope his Vols can back up his words and bravado.

Perhaps the best part of this whole story is that no one knows whether Kiffin is capable of backing it up on the field with his teams. He has yet to coach one practice, and already he’s running his mouth to the best teams and coaches in the conference.

Think Spikes and the Gators are excited for the UT game next season?

Think Spikes and the Gators are excited for the UT game next season?

Think this might be brought up in late September in Gainesville before the Vols visit the Gators? All the confidence and swagger in the world won’t matter when Jon Crompton takes the snap and sees Brandon Spikes headed his way. I wonder how Saban – who wasn’t exactly a teddy bear to begin with – will greet Kiffin on the field in Tuscaloosa this year after losing one of his assistants to the Vols staff. If he gets the chance, think Spurrier might leave his offensive starters in a few extra plays to teach Lane a lesson? Kiffin better hope his team can back up his brash words, because he’s angered a few coaches who don’t mind making a statement on the field when they feel they’ve been disrespected. (Example A: Florida 49, Georgia 10).

So this is going to be an interesting season. It’s one thing to be cocky and a proven winner (see Meyer, Urban and Saban, Nick). Its another to have an smirk as big as Neyland Stadium before even blowing your whistle as a head coach in the college ranks. I have a feeling Kiffin is going to learn the difference real quick.

College Football Regular Season Recap

December 7, 2008

Back by popular demand, and also because I have some free time this afternoon, it’s a final weekend update…looking back at the regular season of college football. As I write this, the final BCS standing have yet to come out, but there’s no reason to think we shouldn’t have a Florida-Oklahoma matchup to look forward to. Texas and USC have legitimate gripes about being left out, but as we all know, the system is far from perfect, and we’re going to have to live with it. But all in all, this was a fantastic season of football. Here’s a look at what stands out…

Oklahoma’s offense is umm….kind of good

I say that in the same sense that Erin Andrews is kind of hot. The Sooners have been ridiculous this season, scoring 702 points and putting up 60 in five straight games. Watching them play, there’s really no good way to defend them. If you stack the box to stop Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, QB Sam Bradford and his receivers will pick you apart downfield. If you drop back, the running game and short passes to tight end Jermaine Gresham will kill you. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, there’s Coach Bob Stoop dialing up a long pass play with 4 minutes left in the Big 12 Championship Game and holding a 55-21 lead. I firmly believe this team would hang at least 30 on the Chiefs, Lions or Bengals…easy.

QB Sam Bradford directed the Sooners offense, which scored a few points this season.

QB Sam Bradford directed the Sooners offense, which scored a few points this season.

Jimmy Clausen has work to do

The golden-boy QB predicted multiple national championships upon signing with the Irish. Well, he’s come close, if by multiple national championships he actually meant losses to Navy, Syracuse, Air Force and North Carolina, as well as consecutive blowouts at the hands of USC. Note that I didn’t say that USC was a rival, because as Chris Fowler pointed out, the hammer and the nail don’t have a rivalry. But back to our wonder-kid, who has put himself in the Heisman conversation (as in “who will NOT win a Heisman”) by compiling 27 touchdowns and only 23 interceptions. On top of that, most of the interceptions were Ty Willingham’s fault, and shouldn’t go against Clausen. The record books are being cleared as we speak to make room for this kid. Move over Ty Detmer and Danny Wuerffel – there’s a new sheriff in town. At this rate, he will easily go down as one of the top 3 Clausen brothers to play college football.

Jimmy Clausen's claim of multiple national championships is not looking so great...

Jimmy Clausen's claim of multiple national championships is not looking so great...

More Irish hating…just because I can

in 2007, Notre Dame lost to USC 38-0. In 2008, they lost to USC 38-3. Clearly, Charlie Weis has this team headed in the right direction. Look for Notre Dame to finally knock off the mighty Trojans 39-38 in 2020. Ok-I’m sorry. That was mean. In all fairness, he’s only been there four years and he hasn’t really has a chance to get his system and players in place. What’s that you say? It’s Urban Meyer’s fourth year at Florida and they’re in position for his second national championship?  Well…umm…he didn’t have to clean up after Willingham, who was the worst coach, and man, ever in the history of people. Huh? Nick Saban??  What does he have to do with anything?  Oh right – big deal. So he also inherited a proud program that had fallen on down times because of poor recruiting, and in only two years had them in the national championship picture – who cares? He doesn’t have to play Navy every year – of course he can pile up victories!!  Next year is our year – look at our recruiting class. You’ll be back on the Irish bandwagon next year after the 38-6 loss to USC.

* In related news, Charlie Weis has just signed a 12-year, $472 billion extension. The future is indeed bright in South Bend.

The SEC…not quite what we thought

You don’t know how much it pains me to write that. Yes, Florida will be playing for the national championship, and Alabama is headed to a BCS bowl, but the league lacked the top-to-bottom strength it normally offers. Georgia, a popular preseason#1, was abysmal on defense. Bad losses to Alabama and Florida were one thing, but giving up like 800 yards rushing at home to Georgia Tech? Wow. Plus, am I the only one not in love with Matthew Stafford? Look, just because a kid is big and has a good arm doesn’t mean he’s a great QB (ahem.. Ryan Leaf). In the 49-10 loss to Florida, announcer Gary Danielson was tripping all over himself to pat Stafford on the back. A blind man listening to the game may have thought Stafford was re-writing the record books with the praise he got. By the way, he threw for 265 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in that game. I hate to say over-rated but…

And don’t get me started on Tennessee and Auburn. Thanks for showing up to play this year guys. You really helped the league look good. Ditto to South Carolina, who proved that they can always lose to Clemson, no matter how much the Tigers choke during the year. Vandy and UK…well they’re Vandy and UK. Ole Miss actually looked like a solid team by the end of the year, but they’re hardly a national power. Arkansas..well let’s just say Darren McFadden isn’t walking through that door. LSU – wow. How does a school like LSU not have a better QB situation? I realize Ryan Perriloux was projected to start before he got kicked off, but with a risk like Perriloux, shouldn’t you at least have a decent back-up plan in place?  Jarret Lee is clearly not the answer, unless the question was “who sucks?” And no word on whether Mississippi State actually fielded a team this year. So, as the biggest SEC homer ever, I’m officially conceding the title of “The Best Conference” to the Big 12 this year. A very sad day for me.

There wasn't much celebrating for Auburn this year, which stumbled badly, leading to Tommy Tuberville's resignation.

There wasn't much celebrating for Auburn this year, which stumbled badly, leading to Tommy Tuberville's resignation.

ACC football...

ACC football...

The ACC

Only kidding – I’m not writing a review of the ACC – give me a break. As far as I know, every team in the league went 8-4 or something like that. I think Virginia Tech won the title game. Or maybe Boston College. Or maybe Florida State. or maybe Miami, or North Carolina State, or Maryland. Wait – is South Florida in the ACC? What conference is East Carolina in? Well regardless, somebody did win it – I know that. And they were definitely from the East Coast – that much I know. Oh yeah, and it wasn’t Duke.

Heisman Trophy is up for grabs

One week from the ceremony, I don’t know that there’s a clear-cut favorite for the trophy. OU’s Sam Bradford, Florida’s Tim Tebow, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell are all worthy candidates. Bradford and Harrell have the most impressive stats, but McCoy and Tebow have shown the intagibles in leading their teams. Tebow’s speech after the Ole Miss loss proved to be prophetic, as he pushed the Gators harder than ever, and then willed them to victory over Bama without sidekick Percy Harvin. McCoy put the Longhorns on his back during what may be the toughest 4-week stretch ever in college football, and he’s the unquestioned leader of one of the nation’s best teams. Harrell’s star lost some shine after the blowout loss to Oklahoma, but he’s still put up the usually ridiculous Red Raider numbers, and turned Tech from a novelty into a legit title contender for most of the season. Bradford has thrown for about 50,000 yards and 200 touchdowns this year (numbers slightly exaggerated but not by much), and he’s captained the best offense in the history of college football. So who wins? At this point, I’d say Bradford edges out Tebow, but I really think a case can be made for any of the four.

One of the best QB's and leaders in the country, McCoy might only be second-best in his own conference

One of the best QB's and leaders in the country, McCoy might only be second-best in his own conference

The BCS

Yes, it’s been talked about all season, and I hate it as much as anyone. But its still worth it to point out the faults. Texas, a team that went 11-1 with that one loss coming on a last-second play on the road against the #7 team in the country…is getting the same shot at a national title as Virginia Tech, who went 9-4 and lost to East Carolina (thats to say they’re not getting one). Cincinnati, who played one real team all year (and lost by 26 to Oklahoma), is going to a BCS bowl while Texas Tech, who suffered only 1 loss (albeit a bad one) and owns wins over Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, is not. USC suffered only one loss, on the road to a solid Oregon State team, while Florida lost at home to a decent Ole Miss team and yet the Gators are ranked higher. Penn State lost on the road on a last-second field goal and they were eliminated from title contention, while Oklahoma lost by 10 on neutral field and never fell far in the rankings. Please please please can we get a playoff????  As it stands now, it is all subjective, with a multitude of one-loss teams. Is Florida better than USC? Is Texas better than Penn State?  Is Alabama better than Oklahoma? We all have opinions on this, but the sad thing is we’ll never know for sure. In a season like this, where there are 4-5 teams with legitimate arguments about playing for a national title, the BCS is even more of a joke than usual. Say Florida beats Oklahoma in a close game, while Texas and USC blowout their opponents in the bowls. How can you say a one-loss Florida is better than a one-loss USC or Texas with any certainty?  I think college football season is one of the greatest times of the year, but I just hate that the season always ends with so much uncertainty. The best idea I’ve heard for a playoff involves taking the top 8 teams in the BCS, regardless of conference, and holding the first round of playoffs the week after the conference championship games. To battle the argument that the season goes too long, we’d scale back the regular season to 11 games instead of 12. So now, we’re back to the weekend after the conference championships, and we have 4 teams still alive for a title. The four losing teams in that playoff would then be eligible for other bowls – therefore allowing them to get another game’s worth of revenue. The four winning teams would then playoff in the same schedule we have now…the semifinals on Jan. 1 and the title game on Jan. 8. The semis and championship game would rotate around the 4 major bowls, while the other major bowls would have first shot at selecting the teams from the first round of the playoffs – therefore still securing exciting matchups. And to those who say that the regular season already is a playoff, then why aren’t Utah and Boise State playing for the national title?

The whole system is a joke right now, and all I can hope is I end up in charge one day so I can fix this. There’s a thought huh??

Like I would right a college football post and not put a picture of Tim Tebow on it

Like I would write a college football post and not put a picture of Tim Tebow on it

That’s it for now. I can certainly do a lot more, but we’ll have some downtime the next couple of weeks with no games, so I have to save some material. But it feels good to be back on here after my 3-month hiatus. Until next time, Go Gators!


Beavers, Buckeys and everyone in between

September 28, 2008

Ok – first off, I haven’t written a Week in Review column the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, Duke Energy couldn’t restore power to my house for what seemed like an eternity, so that’s my excuse for Week 3. For Week 4, I was too busy hanging out with the throngs of girls who want to date me…wait that’s not right. Week 4…what was I doing again? Yes that’s it! I was just too lazy. Rest assured, it will return this week.

But for now, the crazy weekend got me thinking about the title game this year. Two weeks ago, everyone was ready to crown the USC national champs and team of the decade after they beat Ohio State. After their loss to Oregon State on Thursday, the door was open for teams like Florida and Georgia, who responded by playing like dogs yesterday, and losing at home. While Oklahoma is sitting pretty right now, it appears that the field is wide open again. Obviously, still a lot of football to be played, and I’m sure one month from now I’ll read this and won’t believe how stupid I am, but I wanted to make some predictions for which teams have the best chance of playing in the BCS Championship Game this year…as it stands now and looking at their schedules in the coming weeks.

Here’s my list of legit contenders for the national title: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, USC, Ohio State, and LSU. I’m not sold on Texas Tech being able to stop anyone, Texas (post Vince Young) still chokes in big games, Auburn’s offense isn’t consistent, Penn State will have more players in jail than on the field by mid-November, and Temple is least a year away (just seeing if you were still paying attention).

So we’re left with 8 teams. Here’s how they stack up. Remember, I’m already offering the disclaimer that this could all change, and likely will change, as the season goes on. But what fun is life without going out on a limb now and then? In no particular order…

Georgia: The Bulldogs have arguably the best RB in the nation in Knowshon Moreno, a talented QB in Matt Stafford, a developing group of receivers and a fast defense. Of course, they also just got pounded at home by Alabama last night, and it wasn’t even close. The Bulldogs commit way too many penalties, and their defense looked lost last night. Furthermore, the Tide managed to take Moreno out of the game, making the Bulldogs offense one-dimensional. With a young offensive line, Stafford spent most of the night with a defender in his face, and his accuracy suffered. Another bad sign? The Dogs still includes road games against LSU and Auburn, as well as a neutral-site game against Florida. Georgia is immensely talented, but Alabama exposed some holes, and their schedule is simply too tough. Look for them to have at least one more loss this season.Florida: Wow. I didn’t think Florida would win by three touchdowns, as they were favored, but I never imagined they’d actually lose at home to Ole Miss. Quite simply, this Florida offense stinks, despite the plethora of talent. The offensive line has been abysmal, and QB Tim Tebow hasn’t been able to show off his wheels like last year. The play-calling, always fun and adventurous last year, has become somewhat mundane, even though the Gators boast about six players who run 4.3. Defensively, they showed some promise early, but they reverted back to the ’07 defense yesterday, missing tackles and blowing assignments.  With games still against LSU and Georgia, the Gators better hope they can fix whats wrong, or they could have two or three more losses tagged on them. I still believe they have arguably the most talented team in the country, but they better play like it from here on out.Nick Saban has the Tide rolling.

The Bulldogs' schedule doesn't get any easier after a loss to Alabama.
 

Alabama: Sadly, I have to give in now. Nick Saban is one of the best coaches there is – no two ways about it. Last night’s win in Athens was incredibly impressive, and the Tide are still growing. They have a great ground game, and QB John Parker Wilson is playing much better than he did a year ago. Their defense is just flat out nasty…fast and aggressive. Even better, Saban is the ultimate perfectionist, and you know he won’t let his team get too cocky. They still have to travel to LSU and Tennesee, but they get Auburn at home. If they can get past LSU in Baton Rouge – no easy task – the Tide have the potential to run the table if they play like they did last night. Of course yesterday showed that anything can happen in the SEC, but things are looking pretty good so far in Year 2 of the Saban Era.

LSU: The Tigers are still breaking in a QB, but everywhere else, they are loaded. They have a stable of talented backs, two great receivers in Demetrius Byrd and Brandon LaFell, and as always, a great defense. Les Miles is a little too arrogant for my taste, but he’s a great coach  and obviously can win big games. But as with other SEC teams, their schedule is brutal. They already won at Auburn in a great game, but in a span of five weeks, they travel to Florida and South Carolina, and host Alabama and Georgia. All are winnable game, but as we’ve seen, you can’t take anything for granted in the SEC. I like LSU’s talent, but I don’t see them going unscathed this year. Of course, a couple losses didn’t hurt them last year…

Can Jarrett Lee lead lead LSU to another national title?

Oklahoma: The Sooners have looked as impressive as anyone so far, and things are set up nicely for them to advance to the title game. QB Sam Bradford is piling up ridiculous numbers, and they have a ton of weapons at receiver and running back. They still have the Red River Shootout with Texas, but other than that, their toughest games are all at home, including visits from Kansas and Texas Tech. However, the dangerous game looming is that Oklahoma State road game to end the season. This rivalry game is always a battle, and the Cowboys have looked solid so far. Then there’s the matter of the Big 12 Championship Game, likely against a loaded Missouri squad that’s anxious for revenge. But all in all, the Sooners have a great chance at advancing. But will their recent bowl performances hold them back if it comes down to a judgment call between them and a 1-loss SEC team?

Chase Daniel and the Tigers are loaded.

Chase Daniel and the Tigers are loaded.

Missouri: The Tigers were a great story last year, but I never bought them as legit, national championship material. That’s all changed this year. Chase Daniel is a stud QB, Jeremy Maclin is as talented as any wideout in the country, and their offense is flat-out sick. They have so many weapons that it’s impossible for teams to defend them all, and that’s why the Tigers have rung up 215 points in only four games. Their defense is also legit, and they’ve proved capable of getting stops when they need to. Schedule-wise, they still travel to Nebraska and Texas, but they get Oklahoma State and Kansas at home. Call me crazy, but I like this Tigers team to have a real shot at the BCS title game this year.

USC: Yes the Trojans looked awful against Oregon State (again). But the fact remains that hey have a great chance at running the table in the Pac-10, and setting themselves up for a chance at the title. With the SEC and Big 12 teams beating up on each other, the Trojans should (key word =should) cruise through a weak Pac-10. QB Mark Sanchez has a great arm and more mobility than John David Booty, but his decision-making isn’t always the best and he forces throws. Their receivers have still underacheived, but they’ve still got plenty of offensive weapons to win. Their defense is fantastic, although they looked horrible in Corvallis. LBs Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing are studs, and safety Taylor Mays is a beast. Pete Carroll should have his team’s attention now, and the Trojans should be right in the mix at the end of the year.

Ohio State: I know Buckeye-bashing has become a national past time, but hear me out. It’s not out of the question that every team on this list except USC could suffer two losses this year…such is life in the Big 12 and the SEC. It’s also possible that Ohio State could win out in the Big 10. They still travel to Wisconsin and Illinois, and have to host Penn State and Michigan, but the Buckeyes have owned the Big 10 in recent years. Plus, with RB Beanie Wells healthy and QB Terrelle Pryor now starting, they’re a different team than the one that got blown out by USC. So at the end of the year, if we have two teams at 11-1, and about six or seven at 10-2, or 9-3…who plays for the title? I’m not saying it’s a good system, or that I like it, or that Ohio State deserves to go there even if they win out, but it’s the system we have, and it’s not out of the question. Just some food for thought…

A healthy Beanie Wells could put the Buckeyes back in national title contention.

A healthy Beanie Wells could put the Buckeyes back in national title contention.

P.S. Don’t come back to me and start talking trash in two weeks when things have drastically changed. I know this is very very preliminary – but what’s college football without some good-natured debates?

Week 2 review…ECU??

September 8, 2008

Two weeks into college football season, and the unpredictability continues. East Carolina beats a ranked team for the second consecutive week. Ohio State struggles with Ohio. Notre Dame needs a fourth quarter comeback to beat San Diego State…the same San Diego State who lost to Cal Poly a week earlier. Arkansas and new head coach Bobby Petrino squeak have to out another win over a high school team, Louisville, who acted as if their endzone was covered in poison ivy in Week 1 puts up 51 points. And more Penn State players are arrested…ok maybe that’s not that crazy after all. Here’s a look at the day.

The Pirates are for real

The Pirates are no joke.

1). Count me among the surprised after ECU pulls off another upset. I thought Virginia Tech might have been ranked a little high this season – having lost a lof of their defense, most of their receivers and their running back – so that upset didn’t totally shock me. I figured West Virginia and Pat White would put ECU back in their places. Instead, the Pirates dominated WVU in every phase of the game. They took them behind the woodshed and pounded them. The high-powered WVU offense, led by White and Noel Devine? three lousy points. These Pirates are for real, and could cruise to the C-USA title. No team has started the season with more impressive wins.

(more…)

Week 1 review (aka the ACC sucks)

September 2, 2008

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, we’ve finally got college football again. While nothing may top the craziness of last year, this season is still going to be a rollercoaster if the opening week is any indication. Virginia Tech, Pitt, Clemson, Michigan and Tennessee all go down, while Missouri, Ohio State and Georgia suffer some key losses with injuries. Florida, USC and Oklahoma all beat up on some cupcakes, while Kentucky and Lousiville set offense back 50 years with a less-than-exciting game. Here’s a few things I learned this weekend:

1). The ACC shouldn’t expect a BCS bowl win…again. Clemson, touted as the class of the league, proudly donned their underachiever label again as they got hammered by Alabama. Clemson’s offensive line is among the worst I’ve ever seen, and their defense was less than impressive as well. Alabama looks to be better than expected, with a fast defense and solid running game, but this game surely didn’t help the ACC’s cause. Of course, Virginia Tech losing to ECU on a blocked punt was pretty bad, as was Virginia’s spanking by USC. I’ve often wondered, that after months of practice, two-a-days, film watching, conditioning, lifting and more practice, after waiting anxiously to run out on the field and hear the crowd roar, after thinking “this might be our year”…what does a coach say to a team that loses by 45 in the first game? “Hey guys – nice effort! Maybe next time we’ll score in double digits. I told you guys all that hard work in the off-season would pay off!!” On the bright side, UNC and Duke should be really good in basketball again…

2). Players run really fast. Check out CJ Spiller, Brandon James and Jeremy Maclin’s kick-off returns for touchdowns. As my friend put it, Spiller ran “faster than I can drive my car. I’m pretty sure he was in the other end zone before the kicker even knew he had kicked it.” Point being – there’s a host of fantastic athletes on high profile teams, and this season should have plenty of highlight reel plays. In addition to the above-mentioned, here’s some other guys you should check out if you get the chance. Percy Harvin of Florida, Arrelious Benn of Illinois, Julio Jones of Alabama, Knowshon Moreno of Georgia, Joe McKnight of USC, Trindon Holliday of LSU, Shane Vereen of Cal and Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech.

3). Tennessee hates the West Coast. After last year’s drubbing at Cal, the Vols were primed to play UCLA on Monday. Despite playing against a depleted Bruin squad starting a third-string QB, the Vols were unable to capitalize, losing in overtime. UCLA QB Kevin Craft tossed four (yes four) first half interceptions, yet Tennessee let them hang around. But all is not lost for UT, despite another very disappointing start. While the offense looked out of sorts, the defense was very solid. I’d put the safety combination of Eric Berry and Demetrice Morley up against any in the country, and their front four played well also. Once Jonathan Crompton settles in a little more, the Vols will be tough.

4). Ohio State’s title hopes went downhill quick. Say what you want about the Buckeyes getting pounded in two straight national title games (and I have), but there’s no denying they’re one of the best programs around, entering this season on a short list of contenders. But all that may have changed when running back Chris Wells went down early in the second half with an apparent foot injury. Although loaded with premier talent, Wells is the one guy the Buckeyes can’t do without. He takes pressure off the offense, and opens things up for Todd Boeckman to throw. Early word sounds out of Columbus sounds like Wells will be okay and should be healthy for USC in two weeks, but Buckeyes fans will be holding their breath until he takes the field again.

5). And finally, in the “It seemed like a good idea category”…here’s some questionable decisions from the opening week.

Jim Tressel: “Sure I’ll put Beanie Wells in the game even though the outcome is no longer in doubt in the second half. What could go wrong?”

Tommy Bowden: Apparently promised hotshot recruit Jamie Harper he would get the first carry of the season. One fumble later, Clemson was on their way to a beatdown.

Steve Spurrier: Vowing to be different this year by not rotating quarterbacks, Spurrier’s confidence is rewarded when Tommy Beecher tosses 4 picks. Welcome to the starting line up, Chris Smelley!

Chattanooga: I don’t care if they expected to lose to Oklahoma. I don’t care what the payout was. I just don’t think it can be good for a team’s morale to be down 50-0 at halftime in the first game.

Frank Beamer: “I think I’ll redshirt our most dynamic offensive player, and give the job to Sean Glennon, who’s been nothing but mediocre in every outing. What – it’s not like we’ll lose to ECU.”

Myron Pryor: “Wind sprints? Why would I need to do those? I’ll just sit over here and order a pizza?” (only kidding Myron – the 72-yard fumble return was the highlight of my day)

Idaho: Let’s see…lose first game? Check. Lose first game to Arizona? Check. Lose first game to Arizona by 70 points?? Maybe it’s time to start scheduling down, considering the Vandals clearly weren’t ready for this. I’m pretty sure I could grab Smoothron and a few other jokers here and we could play the Wildcats closer than that.

Gold standard

August 24, 2008

It may have just been a photo op, but perhaps the most telling snapshot of Team USA’s 2008 journey to gold was captured just after the medal ceremony, in the wee hours Sunday morning in the U.S. Shortly after the players were presented their gold medals, all 12 walked over to Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and draped their medals around his neck, a show of team unity that was the hallmark of the team during the Olympics. Since the coaches don’t receive medals, it was a great gesture to show just how much Coach K meant to this team, and how united this team really was.

Watching every second of every game, I couldn’t have been more proud to see our players take home the gold Sunday. For four years, since the disaster in Athens, all we’ve heard about is how U.S. basketball players are too selfish, too worried about highlights, can’t play defense, can’t sacrifice for their teams, don’t play with the same passion as international players, etc.  We’ve heard how the rest of the world has caught up, and in some people’s eyes, passed us.

Let’s dispel one myth right now. Losing in Athens was terrible to be sure, but I hardly think that demonstrated the rest of the world has caught us. I don’t think anyone can argue that the 2004 team was a representation of our best players. I like Richard Jefferson and Lamar Odom as much as the next guy, but are they really the best we have? Of course not. So while that 2004 team was certainly talented enough to win gold, coming home with a bronze was not an indication that basketball was off the map here. Yes, the world could beat our second-tier players, but these games showed that when our best compete, we still set the standard.

And it’s quite a standard they set. Not only did Team USA win their games by an average of 28 points, they did everything the “right way”…playing unselfishly, making the extra pass, keeping their composure, respecting opponents, and in general – playing for the name on their front of their jersey. There were superstars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, who are all used to having the ball in their hands, playing brilliantly off of each other, demonstrating terrific teamwork and adding to their legends in the process. There was Chris Paul, the NBA MVP runner-up last year, accepting coming off the bench, something he’s probably never done in his life. There’s Deron Williams, one of the best young point guards in the game, playing heavy minutes at the off-guard. There’s Dwight Howard, the center of the Orlando Magic franchise now, accepting his role as merely a defender and rebounder on this team. Carlos Boozer, one of the NBA’s premier forwards, playing only six minutes per game, and yet still being the first one off the bench to high-five his teammates. On and on down the roster, every player made sacrifices to their games to help Team USA capture gold, and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Off the court, this team was great too. While the 2004 team was branded “aloof” for keeping their distance from the games (is it really surprising that a team with Stephon Marbury had attitude problems??), this team was determined to take in the Olympic experience. There’s the now famous video of Kobe and LeBron cheering like star-struck fans at a Michael Phelps race. There was Jason Kidd, braving the rain to watch the U.S. women’s volleyball team take home gold. There’s pictures of Wade and Chris Bosh posing for photographs on the Great Wall, with the fans’ smiles only slightly larger than the ones the players wore.

I could go on and on about this team ( and I may have in some early morning texts or phone calls…sorry if I woke anyone), but I’ll just go back to that snapshot of Coach K with all the gold medals. After all the grief the 2004 team took, most of it deserved, we should be standing and applauding this team for their teamwork, unity and character. They were a team in the truest sense of the word, and they took home the ultimate prize for it. As a fan, I couldn’t be more proud.

So, to Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd and Carlos Boozer, I say congratulations for the gold, and thanks for representing our country with pride and passion. Wearing U-S-A across your chest is a big responsibility and a great honor, and you all earned it every step of the way.

The Bengals Never Cease to Amaze

August 21, 2008

What – like the Bengals need another challenge entering this season? It’snot as if we’re talking about a perennial playoff contender who is making some small adjustments to move forward. This is a team with one playoff appearance since 1990, a team who went 7-9 last year, and a team whose defense allows teams to score as easily as Brad Pitt at a women’s prison (thanks to Dave Barry for that one). Not to mention the fact that they spent much of their off-season “getting tough” with star Chad Johnson, not giving into his trade demands. With an unpredictable and volatile Johnson back in Cincy for another season, and with the team floundering, and with everyone questioning Coach Marvin Lewis’ ability, and with a tough schedule, and with very low expectations for the team…why not re-sign an underachieving felon who has had 13 incidents with police in the last 3 years?

Even better, why not sign a felon that the team waived only four months ago, saying they could no longer tolerate his off-field problems? What – did he become a Boy Scout since April? I must have missed the story where he saved all those children from the burning orphanage, and then donated his free time to work at the soup kitchen…when he wasn’t delivering Sunday sermons and giving motivational speeches at schools. And Mike Brown wonders why he presides over one of the worst franchises in professional sports. With decisions like this, he’s quickly working his way into Isiah Thomas territory. I can’t wait to see his next move. Is OJ available? They could use a back-up for Rudi Johnson. Why not bring in Unabomber to be offensive coordinator? Maybe he could even convince Barry Bonds to be the team trainer. Ron Artest could be the team chaplain. I’m sure Michael Vick wouldn’t mind organizing social outings for the players on off days (dog track anyone?), and who wouldn’t agree to have Amy Winehouse in charge of the post-game buffet?

Obviously, the re-signing of Chris Henry is sure to be nothing short of a comedic adventure. A bad team, lots of explosive personalities, a disgruntled fan base, a moron who can’t stay out of handcuffs, who was once arrested (this is still hard to believe) wearing his own jersey…this is can’t miss. Rumors are that souvenir stands at Paul Brown Stadium will also be selling bulletproof vests this year – discounted for fans within range of the home team’s sideline. Also, keep an eye out for Week 7 this year – first 10,000 fans to PBS receive a free can of mace, and in Week 13, all kids 12-and-under can redeem their ticket stubs for a free tour of Henry’s latest jail cell.

So my advice for you Bengals fans, as we count down the days until kickoff? Forget about playoffs this year (if you haven’t already) – just enjoy the show.

WANTED!!

August 20, 2008

NAME:  Andrew Bogut

DATE OF BIRTH:  November 28, 1984

LOCATION(S):  Melbourne, Australia/Milwaukee, Wisconsin/NBA Draft Lottery

WANTED FOR:  Stealing approximately $72 million from the Milwaukee Bucks basketball club, impersonating a quality NBA center

DISTINGUISHING MARKS:  Australian accent, bad haircut, terrible stench, lack of coordination

LAST SEEN:  Crying on Australia’s bench after a 116-85 loss to Team USA

CASE DETAILS:  On or about July 5, 2008, suspect signed a five-year extension to continue “playing” basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball club (hereinafter referred to as the Bucks).  Contract is reported to be worth at least $60 million, and could reach $72.5 million if suspect reaches agreed-upon incentives.  Bucks officials were believed to have been drugged at the time said contract was signed, given that Bogut posted only measly averages of 14.3 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.  Furthermore, the Bucks won only 26 games last year, providing only more evidence that Bucks officials were not able to think clearly in paying extravagantly to bring back a core member of that team.

In his time in Milwaukee, suspect has reportedly alienated teammates and fellow NBA employees with surly attitude, and incomprehensible arrogance.  Furthermore, his greasy haircut continues to bring down the entire league, threatening all sense of style in cities across the United States.  Finally, suspect has shown little to no remorse for stealing fans’ money with said contract, despite being a mediocre center (at best) on a bad team.

CRIMINAL HISTORY:  In 2005, while attending the University of Utah, suspect was also believed to have been behind a heist that allowed the John R. Wooden and the James Naismith College Player of the Year awards to be falsely presented to him, over candidates such as Chris Paul, Sean May or Francisco Garcia.  Suspect received awards under false pretenses, as he played in a community college-level conference with little quality competition.

NOTE:  SUSPECT IS CONSIDERED ARMED WITH POOR FREE-THROW SHOOTING ABILITY (58%), AND MAY LAUNCH BASKETBALLS FROM ANY AND ALL ANGLES TO ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.  IF FOUND, PLEASE REPORT TO TEAM USA, WHO WILL PROCEED TO BEAT HIS ASS ONCE AGAIN.