Friday, December 24

It's Friday and Tis the Season.

Perhaps my favorite Christmas sketch of all time. Steve Martin expressing his Christmas wish. Simple, subtle, yet hillarious. Have a good holiday everyone.

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Monday, December 20

Dan Connolly Lives the Wide Man's Dream

Perhaps the greatest big man doing athletic things highlight in the history of the NFL. Jumbo Elliot has to be impressed. The Packers decision to squib it before the half turned the tide of the game, perhaps because Connolly's rumbling put the Earth temporarily off it's axis. It has been comfirmed that this is the longest kick return by a large man in the history of the NFL at 71 yards. Amazing that this return happened on the same day as Desean Jackson's throat rip of the Giants, which was so amazing it even made Joe Buck break monotone.

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Friday, December 17

Bowl Picks, Waitress Please Bring Some More Bowl Picks

I think I've got cabin fever. Bowl season kicks off Saturday. If 6-6 BYU and UTEP does not get you excited than nothing will. Don't worry, I am not going to go into a college football playoff discussion or mock the horrible names of the bowls or say there are too many (well I will slightly). Let's take a look at all 35(!) bowls and I will make a horrible educated guess on who will win. Read on....for entertainment purposes only of course.

New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 18, 2:00 pm, Albequerque
BYU(6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)

The Match-up: The first bowl has become the standard for mediocre match-ups. Here we have BYU who certainly fell off this year and UTEP who finished 4th in Conference their division. In the course of the meal of bowl season, this is the saltine you popped in before the party starts.

The Wild Card: Mike Price still coaches at UTEP. Anytime someone remembers that he does they usually include a joke about his unceremonious firing from Alabama. I won't go there Mike, hope all is well.

The Pick: UTEP. BYU gets distracted by the enchantment of New Mexico as some kind of black magic that goes against Mormonism.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 18, 5:30 pm, Boise
Northern Illinois(10-3) vs. Fresno State(8-4)

The Match-Up: Northern Illinois went undefeated in MAC play but lost in the championship game. The last three games before the title game they outscored their opponents 195-54. You may think they missed out on a superior bowl but the team that beat them is playing in Bowl in Mobile. Fresno gets the chance to travel...somwhere they already played this year.

The Wild Card: Pat Hill's mustache. That thing will not move unless a heavy dose of mineral spirits are applied.

The Pick: Fresno State gets the pick because the familiarity with the Smurf Turf.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 18, 9:00 pm, New Orleans
Ohio(8-4) vs. Troy(7-5)

The Match-up: When the Sun Belt and the MAC get together, you can throw out the records. If you can't get up for this match-up in the middle of December than there is a serious problem with your sports fandom.

The Wild Card: Most famous alum from each school? For Ohio it has to be Paul Newman, all apologies to Piper Perabo and Peter King. For Troy, some dude named Manley Johnson who is Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Edge, Ohio.

The Pick: Going with the Bobcats in this one, Frank Solich whips his kids intoa frenzy come mid-December.

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
Dec. 21, 8:00 pm, St. Petersburg
Southern Miss(8-4) vs. Louisville(6-6)

The Match-up: I'm sure Cardinal fans are breathing a sigh of relief that Charlie Strong is staying put. Not just from a performance point of view, but this team has gone through coaches like free bread at an Italian restaurant. Louisville squeaked in to bowl eligibility and were all over the place on the field in terms of results. They did blank BCS bound UCONN 26-0 so that counts....for something. Southern Miss was 8-4 but had two one point losses in conference play. That means they are a very good Conference USA team, take that as what you will.

The Wild Card: I do enjoy how we get the single quotation marks bracketing the O in Beef 'O' Brady's. Have you ever been to one of these? I have a few times. When I was in my "out of college but no clue what I'm doing" phases I was a door to door salesman. Yes, there was a clever title like Sales Associate tagged on there but that's essenitally what I was. It was the worst job I've ever had and this was before the economy went in the complete crapper. I did learn a lot about life and about people though. One of our clients was Beef 'O' Brady's. We met at a location in South Carolina and spoke with the manager. After getting some details we headed out. Now, this was basically a pyramid scheme and the guy who was running it was as shady as Calipari on an extra slicky oil day. So off I would go into some random middle class neighborhood trying to convince people that if they bought this sheet of coupons, they would save money on the multiple trips they were obviously planning to that restaurant for the next year. Hell of a way to make a living. The sick thing was is that I was good at it; I was coming back to the office having sold a stack of the coupons and getting paid straight commision. Every night I got home with a wad of cash. Problem was this job was going nowhere, I hated everyone that worked there, and I was working 72 hour weeks. The final straw is when they sent me into the ghetto of Gastonia, NC and expected me to sell a bunch of pizza coupon books. Anyway that's what Beef 'O' Brady's reminds me of, those years in my 20s that I'll never get back.

The pick: Louisville. I think Charlie Strong is going to lead the Cards to bigger and better things in the future.

MAACO Las Vegas bowl
Dec. 22, 8:00 pm, Las Vegas
Utah(10-2) vs. Boise State(11-1)

The Match-up: Easily the best early bowl game and probably one of the best bowl games period. Riddle me this? When Utah beat Bama in the Sugar Bowl a few years ago, people made the excuse for the Tide that they were let down from their loss against Florida in the SEC Championship game. This year the supposed exact same thing happend to the Utes. They had their game of the year against TCU, at home with their whole season riding on it. TCU obliterated them which sent them into a spiral (said spiral consisted of losing at Notre Dame, they won the rest of their games). Now all that was said was that it was hurtful to TCU's case. On Boise's side their poor kicker is probably running around pointing out to everyone that even if Boise had beaten Nevada like they should have the Broncos would not have been in the national championship game. He did cost them a Rose Bowl bid though and lots and lots of money.

The Wild Card: As much as these two teams wanted better bowl games, the players have to be happy with the locale. Vegas baby, those upper classmen must be especially happy. Not that Vegas is probably big on checking IDs nowadays, they need the money. These guys get to play before Christmas as well, so they will get to spend the holidays at home. As much as it hurts for neither team to make the BCS, they at least get a nice swag bowl to play in.

The Pick: I like how Whittingham gets a team ready for bowls, but Boise has a lot of frustration to get out and they are the better team. The foot will not be taken off the gas pedal in this one.

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia bowl
Dec 23, 8:00 pm, San Diego
Navy(9-3) vs. San Diego State(8-4)

The Match-up: Scrappy San Diego State from the Mountain West gets a virtual home game against a tough Navy team. They mentioned this during the Army-Navy game on Saturday, but the Navy seniors have accomplished quite a bit in their career. That includes 4-0 against Army, 3 Commander in Chief trophies, 4 bowl games and a 35-17 record. Impressive.

The Wild Card: Of course it has to be the triple option. Navy is so successful because Ricky Dobbs their QB can throw it down the field when he has to and they do have some athletes on defense as well. There is always the "month to prepare" thing about the option, but it doesn't always work like that. Giving someone time to do something does not mean they will always do it right.

The Pick: Maybe I was just too impressed with a win over a rebuilding Army team or their destroying of Notre Dame but I think Navy runs wild.

Sheraton Hawaii bowl
Dec. 24, 8:00 pm, Honolulu
Hawaii(10-3) vs. Tulsa(9-3)

The Match-up: Both of these teams quietly put together spectacular records and feature high-power offenses. I expect this game to be similar to the Boise-ECU shootout from years back in this bowl which introduced most of us to Chris Johnson.

The Wild Card: Hawaii playing at home of course. How many "Wow Hawaii is in the Hawaii bowl?" jokes have you heard so far? Yeah I lost count to. Next person that says that to you should be met with the retort of "I heard the NFC West was a bad division this year."

The pick: Hawaii. Can never get enough of that Haka.

Little Caesars bowl
Dec. 26, 8:30 pm, Detroit
Florida International(6-6) vs. Toledo(8-4)

The Match-up: FIU has been unfairly targeted by anti-playoff pundits as a horrible team that would get an automatic bid under the 16-team playoff framework. They really don't deserve that label. They are just a small FBS team doing what they can. Their opening 4 games were Rutgers(lost by 5), Texas A&M(lost by 7), Maryland(lost by 14), and Pitt(got shelled by 27). That definitely will skew your final record. Toledo's logo is phallic in nature (all I got).

The Wild Card: I know recognition can be geopgraphical when it comes to food chains but this bowl did accomplish what Little Caesars wanted; it got people talking about the place. Granted, most of that chatter was in the form of, "Wait, Little Caesars is still around?". I saw them dissapear in Charlotte when I was a little kid and the only one I saw in Miami was a horribly shotty one that I would never buy food in. Yet now they host a bowl, even if a craptastic one.

The Pick: FIU. The Panthers have been battle tested, while Toledo's biggest win was ...Purdue?

AdvoCare V100 Independence bowl
Dec. 27, 5:00 pm, Shreveport
Air Force vs. Georgia Tech

The Match-up: Are you ready for some sweet triple Option on triple option action? The 117th ranked pass offense vs. 119th ranked pass offense. 2nd ranked rushing attack vs. 1st ranked rushing attack. This game may very well be over by 7 pm.

The Wild Card: I've never Paul Johnson. I'm sure he's somewhat of a nice guy but the man looks as miserable coaching a football team as I've ever seen. Never seems happy, his halftime interviews are usually pretty snappy, and he constantly gets on his players. I know perception is hardly reality from the outside of a TV, but it looks like the man dislikes the game, his team, and anyone who tries to talk with him.

The pick: Air Force. The Falcons handled Navy and Army so I don't think the Georgia Tech triple option led by a replacement QB will befuddle them.

Champs Sports bowl
Dec. 28, 6:30 pm, Orlando
West Virginia(9-3) vs. NC State(8-4)

The Match-up: Pretty intriguing game here. Bill Stewart has really done a fine job considering how many people were counting on him to fall on his face. He hasn't sniffed a title game but they have had solid records and bowls. The amazing thing about NC State is that despite having the most even-keeled, stable personality as their coach the Wolfpack are the same old Wolfpack. Up and down, good and bad, wild game Wolfpack that had a shot to lock up the ACC Atlantic but failed against Maryland.

The Wild Card: I've been somewhat familiar with these two fanbases. I won't throw the term 'unrealistic expectations' out there but they can be hard on their teams. Whoever loses this game will have their fans rabble-rabbling.

The Pick: NC State. I think we see the good Wolfpack, the bad Mountaineers, and the ugly cheerleader who made the team because they had to fill the fatty requirement.

Insight bowl
Dec. 28, 10:00 pm, Tempe
Missouri(10-2) vs. Iowa(7-5)

The Match-up: Both teams rode their high hopes to the top of the unrealistic expectations mountain only to see them take the log plume into the lazy river of moderately good bowl placement. Did that analogy blow your mind? Mizzou got the nod for this game of Nebraska even though the Huskers played for the Big 12 title. When reached for comment the Big 12 said "Cuz fuck them, that's why."

The Wild Card: Iowa may be having some problems with players so it appears there is more cause for concern than the team losing 5 games.

The Pick: Mizzou. I know that the conventional pick is "tough" Big Ten team over the spread speed team but I think the issues off the field and Iowa's lack of focus hurts them.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
Dec. 29, 2:30 pm, Washington D.C.
East Carolina(6-6) vs. Maryland(8-4)

The Match-up: I know Maryland is a little salty that they slid down the bowl pole and landed in a less glamourous bowl, but there are a few upsides. They only won 2 freaking games last year so they should be happy to be there, they play against a very beatable opponent, and the bowl is close to home so they should travel well. East Carolina also deserves some kudos for making another bowl after Skip Holtz skipped town (a-thank you).

The Wild Card: I think we all have the same question right now: The fuck is a Northrop Grumman? According to their website:

"At Northrop Grumman, corporate responsibility is a key component of our business and operating strategies. We take pride in conducting our business with a broad perspective, taking into account our customers, our employees, our shareholders, and the environment and communities in which we operate.
As we continue to grow as a company, we remain committed to maintaining the highest of ethical standards, embracing diversity and becoming an ideal corporate citizen. We do so by implementing our core values: taking responsibility for the quality we put forth, delivering customer satisfaction, demonstrating leadership as a company and as individuals, acting with integrity in all we do, valuing our people, and regarding our suppliers as essential team members."

I consider myself a patriot but seriously one thing I do not trust are defense contractors. Our defense budget is bloated with a bunch of crap we don't need and that has no effect on keeping us safe. Look at all that sweet talking, doesn't fool me. This company is making a shit ton of money an you and I are footing the bill for it.

The Pick: Maryland. Ralph Friedgen is either highly under or over appreciated and I can't decide which.

Texas bowl
Dec. 29, 6:00 pm, Houston
Illinois(6-6) vs. Baylor(7-5)

The Match-up: The magic of bowl season! Two teams not expected to be assured of bowls this year and whose records reflect that but there is always room at the table. Houston better be prepared to be Zookified. Baylor is worth watching just for Robert Griffin.

The Wild Card: Texas bowl. Is this really the best we could do? Should we have expected anything else from the home of a franchise named 'The Texans'? Seriously a few moments of thought could produce better branding. The Jalapeno classic, the Steer bowl, the BBQ bowl.

The Pick: Baylor. Seriously this might be the toss-up of the lot.

Valero Alamo bowl
Dec. 29, 9:15pm, San Antonio
Oklahoma State(10-2) vs. Arizona(7-5)

The Match-up: Arizona had quite a thud ending to their regular season. Losing to rival Arizona State because they couldn't make their extra points. Oklahoma State had a great season but fell just short against Oklahoma in a barn burner. Should be a good offense-defense match-up in this one.

The Wild Card: Alamo bowls have been highly attended and highly entertaining lately. The last five years the margin of victory has been an average of 6 points.

The Pick: Arizona. I think Okie State gets ditracted while Arizona focuses in. Stoops will be all over them while Blackmon begins thinking NFL, Holgorsen denies coaching rumors, and Gundy doesn't shine T Boone's shoes exactly the way he wants them the first time.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces bowl
Dec. 30, noon, Dallas
Army(6-6) vs. SMU(7-6)

The Match-up: Army makes it all three service academies in bowl games, and that's a good thing. These guys will never compete for national titles (most likely) but they have all found systems that fit what they do and give the young men who are going to serve a chance to compete on the field. SMU made the CUSA championship game but couldn't beat UCF. June Jones continues to emit positive vibes for the program.

The Wild Card: I wonder how SMU views the 'Pony Excess' 30 for 30? Source of their biggest success and shame.

The Pick: SMU. I've watched every Black Night game this year save one and the one thing I do know is Army is horrid against the pass. I am not saying this as a dig on the young men, they put forth great effort, they just have not been able to stop the forward pass mechanism.

New Era Pinstripe bowl
Dec. 30, 3:20 pm, Bronx
Kansas State(7-5) vs. Syracuse(7-5)

The Match-Up: The Cuse is in the house! Back in a bowl for the first time since 2004. Doug Marrone doing his miracle worker performance. Kansas State delivered a curse of the vampiric performance by bringing back Bill Snyder and returning to bowl glory.

The Wild Card: These two teams met in the 2001 Insight bowl and also the 1997 Fiesta Bowl when Donovan McNabb was under center and Paul Pasqualoni was chomping salami on the sideline.

The pick: The Cuse. Things can open up nicely for the Orange in the Big East if Marrone keeps the momentum going.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Dec. 30, 6:40 pm, Nashville
North Carolina(7-5) vs. Tennessee(6-6)

The Match-up: Two teams that had pretty ugly 2010 campaigns get a nice bowl game! Seriously, not a long trip for either school and they get nice bowl swag (up to $500 value per NCAA rules) and the schools get a little money in the pocket. Especially Tennessee since they will no doubt travel well. North Carolina will be discussed in the context over the players lost over the course of the season due to NCAA investigation. Catfish loves to hear about this every single 2 minutes of every UNC game played this year. Tennessee made a bowl game after Lane Kiffin bolted for the west coast. The Vols really had a bad season, barely beating UAB in overtime after dropping a game at LSU where they out Les Miles'd the Tigers.

The Wild Card: I know this will only infuriate Catfish more but I have to wonder where Butch Davis' head is at. Does he want to stay at Carolina long term? I thought by now he would have had them in the ACCCG (granted I thought the same thing about Randy Shannon). I can't really see him being an attractive hire for any school or NFL team. I was never really sure about him being happy to stay for a long time in Chapel Hill though. Everyone there seems to be more focused on getting the basketball program back on track and worrying about Duke though.For the school and Butch, it just might be one of those old axioms that Huey Lewis pontificated so poetically.

The Pick: Carolina. Call me a fool for thinking the ACC takes down SEC speeeeeeeeeeeed in this one.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday
Dec. 30, 10 pm, San Diego
Nebraska(10-3) vs. Washington(6-6)

The Match-up: It's deja vues all over again. Braska went to UW earlier this year and beat that ass 56-21. We already mentioned the Insight bowl passed on them, but now it turns out Big Red is likely to lose money by traveling to this bowl. Clearly, the Big 12 sent the Huskers out with this clear message:

The Wild Card: The Jake Locker debate is sure to continue all the way through the draft. Some "experts" think he is the real deal, others look at his numbers. Is playing on a bad Washington team (but they finished 3rd in the Pac 10!) enough of an excuse for his bad numbers. Some are just enamoured with his physical tools. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I saw Kyle Boller throw a ball from the 50 yard line on one knee through the uprights at the combine.

The Pick: Nebraska. But it won't be the blowout it was during the regular season. Not because Washington is not that bad, but because Nebraska will sleep walk through it.

Meineke Car Care bowl
Dec. 31, noon, Charlotte
South Florida(7-5) vs. Clemson(6-6)

The Match-up: The Meineke Car Care bowl knows where its bread is buttered the last few years. They try their best to include a team that will get a local draw to Charlotte. Now a lot of bowls do this, because it is all about revenue for these non-profit organizations. UNC the last two years, West Virginia and now Clemson will put some butts in the seats. Oh, the game. Clemson is having an identity crisis which is what happens when your head coach is named Dabo. South Florida is going to be a top 25 team again soon with Skip Holtz at the helm.

The Wild Card: This game used to be played around Christmas. I am going home to Charlotte for Christmas but now they moved the game to the first New Year's Eve bowl. I would have ponied up some money for some cheap upper decker seats. Your loss Meineke!

The Pick: Clemson in a slopfest.

Hyundai Sun bowl
Dec. 31, 2 pm, El Paso
Notre Dame(7-5) vs. Miami(7-5)

The Match-up: Call me biased but I think the Sun Bowl made an excellent choice in creating this match-up. It has got people talking. It is always good to renew a rivalry, especially when one side of them had turned tail and ran from the rivalry. However, this is not the glory #1 vs. #2 match-up we saw back in the 80s. Both programs have had a rough year. Notre Dame has surged at the end of the year while Miami fell flat on their face and now have a new coach (who won't coach the bowl game). I dread this game as a Miami alum only because losing to Notre Dame is high on the list of my intolerable sports occurences. The Canes have offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland performing interim duties for the bowl game, and so far he says the attitude has been strong for Miami. Notre Dame has been very quiet so far, with Brian Kelly surely cooking up a good game plan.

The Wild Card: This game being on at 2 in the afternoon assures that I will be beyond intoxicated before the night even arrives on New Year's. Which is fine, I am not a big fan of New Year's. If Miami loses then I will be indentified as the lumped mass on the couch while everyone makes the final countdown.

The Pick: Notre Dame(/vomits). Like I said I am excited about the Al Golden hire, Jimmy Johnson agrees with me, but Notre Dame is a team hitting their stride with a sharp coach and Miami has no clue what its identity is. Miami will be in the game because of their superior size on the O-line and fast players on the outside. Notre Dame will win because of their continuity with the players filling in for injured ones and Miami's mistakes. If there is one thing we can be guaranteed it is that Miami will have stupid penalties and mental lapses. It is their M.O. this year. The Michael Floyd-Brandon Harris match-up will be very spicy by the way. Heart says Hurricanes but head knows better.

AutoZone Liberty bowl
Dec. 31, 3:30 pm, Memphis
Georgia(6-6) vs. Central Florida(10-3)

The Match-up: The Fightin' O'Leary's had a very strong season this year. Their 2 losses to BCS opponents were by a combined 11 points. How good are they? I am still not sure, they won CUSA but is a bowl game against a very so-so Georgia team this year a proper indicator? It will be in perception, Georgia is still a school from the SEC so if they win it is a very distinguished notch on UCF's belt.

The Wild Card: Coach Mark Richt. Is he on the hot seat? Should he be? My answers would be no and no but with a new AD in place and expectations always high to borderline unrealistic you never know.

The Pick: Georgia. Am I being a homer for my friend Beck? Possibly, but then again AJ Green is a freaking monster.

Chick-fil-A bowl
Dec. 31, 7:30 pm, Atlanta
South Carolina(9-4) vs. Florida State(9-4)

The Match-up: Runner-ups from the ACC and Big East meet in the Georgiadome. This bowl rarely dissapoints, always an entertaining game if you decide to tune in on New Year's eve. The Gamecocks won the SEC East only to get destroyed against Auburn. F$U took the Atlantic crown in the ACC only to get run over by Virginia Tech. This sets up a pure bragging rights game here. The Visor takes on Jimbo.

The Wild Card: Spurrier is a gmablin' man. He yanks QBs and calls unconventional plays at certain times. Since this bowl game as no tangible consequence for him, I look for a huge bag o' tricks to be opened on the Seminoles.

The Pick: F$U. Jimbo will have the offense working and I think Sakerlina's improvised offensive gameplan implodes.

TicketCity bowl
Jan. 1, noon, Dallas
Northwestern(7-5) vs. Texas Tech(7-5)

The Match-up: Well this is just a let's have a bowl for the hell of it. Northwestern always plays tough under Pat Fitzgerald but are without their QB who broke his leg on the winning TD pass over Iowa. I honestly have not seen much of Texas Tech this year. Have no idea how much Leach residue is on the squad.

The Wild Card: Remember when there was always a 11 am Citrus bowl on New Year's day? I miss the before noon game.

The Pick: Texas Tech. Northwestern heads south to play Texas undermanned.

Outback bowl
Jan. 1, 1 pm, Tampa
Florida(7-5) vs. Penn State(7-5)

The Match-up: This is one of those SEC/Big Ten match-ups that are guaranteed to involve big name programs every year even if the teams did not perform that well. Florida has speed and talent but have been very inconsistent this year. Penn State started off looking like it was headed for a historically bad year but was able to make some headway in the Big Ten.

The Wild Card: It is literally painful for me to watch Joe Paterno do anything these days. The man earned his choice of exit years ago so we are all held to watch him patrol the sidelines, slur his speech in interviews, and not be able to hear radio show hosts:

The Pick: Florida. With a month to practice and tune up I think the Gators get their playmakers in the right places, even if those playmakers were arrested on felony charges earlier this season.

Capital One bowl
Jan. 1, 1 pm, Orlando
Alamaba(9-3) vs. Michigan State (11-1)

The Match-up: If you were handed the records and teams seperately, most people would have thought Bama would never have 3 losses. This is no doubt a step down for the program after two consecutive BCS bowls, one being the title game. Like I said earlier there were many who were quick to give the Tide a pass for the Sugar Bowl loss to Utah, so you would think if Michigan State wins here there will be the same types of comments. Sparty did everything it could to win the Big Ten, except for one October day in Iowa that went horribly wrong. This should be a great power on pwoer match-up.

The Wild Card: Mark Ingram, the forgotten player of 2010. He had a knee problem and was not as dominant as last year obviously but still had 856 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 5.6 ypc clip. How will this affect his draft status? I'm not sure but the man is still a powerful runner.

The Pick: Michigan State. I think the Spartans will come into this game dead focused and with more to prove than Alabama.

Progressive Gator bowl
Jan. 1, 1:30 pm, Jacksonville
Mississippi State(8-4) vs. Michigan(7-5)

The Match-up: Bulldog Nation must have lost pounds in sweat over Dan Mullen the last few weeks. Metioned for both the Miami and Florida jobs, Mullen appears to be staying put for the time being. Rich Rod may not be staying put, but at least he shared his love for Josh Groban with the world.

The Wild Card: Should be interesting to see how Mississppi State handles Denard Robinson. After starting the year with insane numbers, he cooled off a bit in conference play but still put up gaudy numbers. MSU played Cam Newton to a 17-14 loss, but that was early in the year before Auburn really got rolling.

The Pick: Mississippi State. I like the weakness of Michigan's defense over the stregth of Michigan's offense.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Jan. 1, 5:00 pm, Pasadena
Wisconsin(11-1) vs. TCU(12-0)

The Match-up: It's BCS time! I am really looking forward to this game. If you are one of the 5 people that read here you know that I admire TCU. If there is one way they can answer the bell outside of winning the title it will be to beat the big, bruising Wisconsin in the Grandaddy of them all. The Badgers had one loss in a rainy field in East Lansing, but other than that they have trounced the competition. TCU once again ran through the regular season, notching some impressive wins but not as much as they did last year.

The Wild Card: Gary Patterson's defensive scheme. Wisconsin wants to use their hulking line to run it all over the Frogs, mixing in some sure throws for Scott Tolzein. How will the 4-2-5 handle it?

The Pick: I've been a TCU bandwagon navigator for 2 years now. No use jumping off now, Horned Frogs in a "stunner".

Tostitos Fiesta bowl
Jan. 1, 8:30 pm, Glendale
Connecticut(8-4) va. Oklahoma(11-2)

The Match-up: UCONN is not a BCS success story. They are in an unfortunate situation. They are the weakest BCS team, playing far from their home, and will most likely going to cost themselves a lot of money. They play Oklahoma which to the delight of Big 12 traditionalists (if they exist) vanquished Nebraska on their exit out of the conference. The Sooners have their own BCS demons to slay.

The Wild Card: How many people are going to watch this game outside of the panhandle area? My guess is not many. Probably a lot of frowny faces in the Fiesta Bowl board room.

The Pick: UCONN! No I'm just kidding, too much talent on the Oklahoma side.

Discover Orange bowl
Jan. 3, 8:30 pm, Miami Gardens
Stanford(11-1) vs Virginia Tech(11-2)

The Match-up: Stanford had one bad night against one of the teams playing in the title game. Virginia Tech had two bad games to start the season. The glaring note for Tech is that they lost to FCS James Madison. However, since that game they rolled and have been classic Tech on defense and explosive on offense. Andrew Luck is expected to be the #1 pick in April, but first Bud Foster gets a month to prepare and take a crack at him.

The Wild Card: The idea for spreading the BCS games out were so that they could get each game in prime time and hence better chance to rake in advertising dollars. However, with games such as these on weekdays it makes it harder for the fanbases to travel. It's easy to take the vacation for New Year's, but now you're asking people to take vacation past January 1. Furthermore, in this economy, people in general are not as willing to travel just for a game when watching at home is just as entertaining. Now I get that some schools are bulletproof to this and that iswhy they get the BCS nod if allowed. It starts to beg the question on whether those schools should just break off and form their own superconference.

The Pick: Stanford. Jim Harbaugh is as coveted as his star QB. Other colleges, NFL teams will be after him but if he chooses to stay at Stanford (they are going to offer him a big deal) he could bring a title shot to the school should he continue on this pace.

Allstate Sugar bowl
Jan. 4, 8:30 pm, New Orleans
Ohio State(11-1) vs. Arkansas(10-2)

The Match-up: Same old song. Ohio State after another dominant Big Ten season faces off against an SEC opponent on an indoor track. The Buckeyes are 0-9 against the SEC in bowls. Here is a big opportunity for them to break that streak against an Arkansas team that is much stronger offensively than defensively.

The Wild Card: Ryan Mallet. He's thrown 30 TDs and has the ability to carve up a defense. Ohio State is not going to sit back though.

The Pick: Arkansas. I had Ohio State winning it all this year, and in truth they have noly lost once, but they are far from battle tested. A lot of their wins look unimpressive now. That's not their fault, Miami was supposed to be a quality non-conference game and they never faced Michigan State because of the conference rotation. bowl
Jan. 6, 8:00 pm, Mobile
Middle Tennessee(6-6) vs. Miami(OH)(9-4)

The Match-up: I hate any lower level bowl that is played after January 1st. This bowl will be played by a 6-6 Sun Belt team and MAC champion Miami who just lost their head coach to Pitt on a Thursday night in Alabama.

The Wild Card: Never a fan of the GoDaddy commercials. I understand they are pushing their brand and must do so by outlandish means, but Danica Patrick unzipping some jumpsuit doesn't get me excited to register a domain name.

The Pick: Middle Tennessee because I like how they refused to pander to the geographic labels that every other school uses. Forget using directional indicators such as north, south, eastern, southwestern; they are just somewhere in the middle.

AT&T Cotton bowl
Jan. 7, 8 pm, Dallas
LSU(10-2) vs. Texas A&M(9-3)

The Match-up: I read somewhere that the chairman of the Cotton Bowl(or some such person) made an anti-playoff rant and one of the reasons he gave was that he wanted to preserve the tradition of the Cotton Bowl. What is left of the tradition of this game? It's no longer played on New Year's Day during the daytime, and it's not even being played in the Cotton Bowl. The days of Thrill Hill are long gone.

The Wild Card: Has there ever been more of a wild card in a college football game than Les Miles? Whether his team pulls one out of their ass, or he calls a gutsy fake on a 4th down while chewing grass you never know what you will see. In their bowl game last year Les had another interesting display of clock management so we can only hope for a repeat performance.

The Pick: LSU. A&M came on really strong at the end of the year but Les Miles playing in Jerry Jones' house? Combustable.

BBVA Compass bowl
Jan. 8, noon, Birmingham
Pittsburgh(7-5) vs. Kentucky(6-6)

The Match-up: Really people? A full week after New Year's we have a compass bowl in Alabama between two weak teams.

The Wild Card: Kentucky QB Mike Hartline was arrested a week ago for being "drunk in public".

The Pick: Disenchanted program who just lost their stache against middling SEC team that just had their QB arrested. I'm going with Kentucky for reasons I know not.

Kraft Fight Hunger bowl
Jan. 9, 9 pm, San Francisco
Nevada(12-1) vs. Boston College(7-5)

The Match-up: Ugg. I have bowl fatigue already and they haven't even started yet. This is Nevada's prize for knocking off Boise? I hope they travel well and their team has a great experience because from the outside, this is a Sunday night bowl game that starts at 9 pm eastern.

The Wild Card: BC lost all 5 of their games in succession. Their best win was over....Clemson?....Syracuse? Wow they have a shitty resume.

The Pick: Nevada. /fires pistol formation in the air

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
Jan. 10, 8:30 pm, Glendale
Oregon(12-0) vs. Auburn(13-0)

The Match-Up: Finally, we come to the game that will crown a mythical national champion. Oregon's spread it out high octance offense against Auburn's Newton spread. The expectation is a fast-paced high-scoring affair but with so much time off between games (37 days) who knows how the teams will respond once they are out there. What if Newton's shoulder goes dead like McCoys did last year? I expect one or both teams to come out rusty, nervous or a combination of both (rusvous?).

The Wild Card: What is Oregon going to do to stop Cam. We've already seen that SEC defenses cannot contain him and he is impervious to NCAA regulation. I think you have to attack him. If you sit back he either will wait for a running lane to open up or he will fire it downfield. Oregon's best bet is to creat chaos at the line of scrimmage.

The Pick: Oregon. I know, another contrary to SEC dominance pick. Ohio State smashed Oregon's offense up last year in the Rose Bowl as well. However, I think Chip kelly is going to take what he learned from that game and use it to make a better performance. Auburn's defense is stout at the line with Fairly but I think Oregon is going to avoid his presence using their hurry up mode and outside speed. Both teams will score, but in the end I think Oregon wins the turnover battle and take it by 10.

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Tuesday, December 14

His Name Is Al Golden

This was his past.

This is his present and future:

I went from cautiously optimistic at the time of the hire to pumped and confident after yesterday. I think this was a great fit. As Kent Brockman once said, "From now on we'll all be taking golden showers. What?"

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Friday, December 10

It's Friday, so Go Army

Tomorrow Army and Navy will meet on the field of friendly strife for the 111th time. A great read on the history can be found here. The Black Knights of Army have not won since 2001 but the program is back on the upswing. They will attend their first bowl game since 1996 when they face SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Navy had another strong year, but not as good as last year. All three of the academies are playing bowl games this year, with Air Force winning the Commander in Chief's trophy after wins against both Army and Navy.

Army's last game was a debacle against Notre Dame in the new Yankee Stadium in which they only mustered 3 points and those came in the first quarter. Since both they and Navy run versions of the triple option it is interesting to see how they attack each other. I have a feeling the game comes down to a few wrinkles the teams have thrown into their offensive gameplan and who executes them. It is a great tradition and a great chance for these young men along with the armed service men and women they represent to be recognized. Speaking of traditions, one of them is for the Cadets and Middies to craft videos for the upcoming battle. Here is one such video that was obviously made in the Army camp and (I'm guessing) in the spirit of fun. Since I'm rooting for them tomorrow, they get the honors.

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Jose Calderon, Defensive Stud

The Bobcats were close to acquiring Jose Calderon during the off-season. Allegedly, Larry Brown put the kibosh on the deal at the last possible moment. Although the video was originally made to highlight Rony Turiaf's dancing, Calderon's defense is infinitely more humorous to yours truly. How could Larry not want him?

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Wednesday, December 8

NCAA Inspired by Top Gun

Get Kenny Loggins on the horn right away. The NCAA voted last year to put sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women in college athletics. It will begin in next August. There are a few theories as to why a new sport such as this would be introduced. Obviously title IX plays a part here. By the proposals it appears there will only be a maximum of 14 counters so it is not a tremendous swing but it is something. Facilities for housing the sport should not be too much of a committment, you just need a sand pit.

This of course points to the sad fact that men's non-revenue sports are dissapearing faster than the Amazonian rainforest. Why incorporate a sport that will obviously be prevalent mostly in geographically favorable areas? Also there has been some concern over what impact this will have on the traditional indoor volleball game.

There continues to be a struggle over creating fair and equitable opportunities under Title IX as it exists while balancing the issue of the financial health of athletic departments. The NCAA (meaning its members) sees sand volleyball as a viable course of action to aid in these areas. No word on whether the uniform of choice will be jeans though.

Division I to consider parameters for sand volleyball [NCAA]

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Tuesday, December 7

Blowout Win Says a Lot, but not Everything

I enjoyed the epic 45-3 beatdown the Patriots gave the Jets last night as much as anyone. For the past week I have heard all the media hype and all the analysts up here discuss why the Jets are the better team and even if they did not win, they would keep it close. With an extra three days to prepare given to both teams, New England sliced and diced the Jets defense. On the other side of the ball, the sometimes porous Patriot defense instituted the "bend but don't break" philosophy that Belichick seemingly has crafted to perfection. Rex Ryan looked lost for words on the sideline, which isn't easy. Mark Sanchez was completely out of his element (Donny) and soon turned to jawing with receivers and throwing blindly into coverage.

It was a total immasculation. However, it is not the end of the season. For either team. The Pats now have the leg up on the division but still 4 games left. No game in the NFL is a easy one but they are at the Bears, home against Green Bay, at Buffalo, and then hosting Miami. The Jets host Miami, then are at Pittsburgh, at Chicago, and then finish with Buffalo. A lot could happen within those four games.

The sentiment today is going to be that Brady is flawless and the Pats are the clear best team in the AFC but one humiliation doesn't make a season. Nothing is secured right now and although it appears the Patriots realize that, they better perform like it if they want to get homefield. Still, it is pretty nice. These Pats seem to be a hybrid of 2004 and 2007 and they finally realized that variety on offense is the only way to succeed. Last year and early this season they seemed resigned to what Randy Moss was going to give them and crafted the offense arround that. Getting Branch back and replacing Laurence Maroney with BenJarvis Green-Ellis has made a tremendous difference. With Logan Mankins back on the offensive line they are giving Brady enough time even if allowing a sack on occasion.

The Patriots will never be back in 2007 form, but they have proven to still be in the upper echelon of the league for a decade. There is a lot of football to be played but at least for today they can earn a tip of the cap (or in Donald Trump's case, a flop of the hair).

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Friday, December 3

It's Friday....So Let It Be?

I really don't know how to explain this. A bunch of random celebrities, many from the past, singing and some lip-synching along to Let It Be which seems to be orgnaized by some Scandinavian dudes in red sweaters. Even that does not do it justice. Just watch, somehow find meaning in this and apply that meaning to your own life and I'm sure something positive will happen. Let it be this weekend, don't go beyond your bounds, don't try to be a hero or popular girl/guy, just let things happen. We're all going to get through this.

(H/T: TST)

[Update: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Video removed...but I found another one...and that one was yanked too. Why can this not be shared with the world?]

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Thursday, December 2

A Requiem For Randy Shannon: What This Says About The U

Did Randy Shannon deserve to be fired?

Yes. Let me repeat what I said on Monday: you will not find a better man in college football coaching anywhere. Randy Shannon overcame tremendous odds just to make it to Miami, let alone be a part of three national championship teams. Only a horrible person who passes themselves off as a Hurricane fan would hold any hostility toward him. That being said, the man was not cut out to be the head coach of this team. It hurts to type it but it is the truth.

Shannon did wonders in the classroom and off the field. His grad rates were bested only by Army and Navy and his APR score was even better than Stanfords. His single arrest during his tenure came when Robert Marve, who would later transfer to Purdue, broke a car mirror during a fight with his girlfriend. Those accomplishments are commendable, they are praiseworthy, and they are what got him his contract extension last year and would have kept him at UM another season. I believe in these goals the program as much as anyone, but it cannot be the single driving force behind football at your school if football is your main source of athletic revenue. Ideally, you want to run a clean program that is successfull academically and win football games. Shannon only gave you one of the two.

Can I pinpoint the problem? No. I have heard various stories from everywhere. Yes, I have a few (very few) contacts on the inside that I heard rumblings from. Shannon was too loyal to certain players, Whipple was forced on Shannon and the two never got along, the players didn't agree with Whipple's playcalling, etc. The bottom line was the performance on the field. 28-22, 16-16 in a mediocre ACC, 0-2 in bowl games. The final game against South Florida was an appropriate final straw. The Canes out-matched the Bulls on paper with first-year coach Skip Holtz setting out to rebuild the program. Miami went scoreless in the first half. Then with the game tied at 10, Storm Johnson seemingly saved the day with a 71 yard scamper. Yet in crunch time, the Canes let a true freshman walk-on who was replacing the injured starter B.J. Daniels march down the field for the tying TD. South Florida won in overtime. The Randy Shannon era was encapsulated in a nutshell.

Going 7-5 with the talent on this team is simply inexcusable. The great recruiting classes Shannon pulled in have matured in age, but not development. All year long, asinine penalties, lapses in concentration, and foolish turnovers costs them games. Shannon never even came close to playing for an ACC title and when he did, the team choked. For all the good that Shannon did, one of the basic tennants of coaching at Miami is winning games playing in big time bowl games. His failure to accomplish these goals and the regression of his results deservedly led to his firing.

While I mentioned above the off the field work Shannon did let me ask you something: did the perception of Miami's football program ever change? College football is an old boy system. Just look at the schools that stay on top on the bowl system in place opertaing under the guise of non-profits. People hold onto old ideals, whether it is the "magic" of Notre Dame or the "tradition" of southern football. The point is the detractors still subscribed to the theory that the U was a bunch of thugs. So the academic progress should strictly be an insitutional goal, and not used as a public item. No one was mentioning Miami's successes in this area while Shannon was coaching, but once he was fired people came out supporting him for that reason alone.

Now that the Gruden rumors seem to be dying away, Miami has a real chance to turn the corner like they did way back with Schnellenberger, with Jimmy, and with Butch Davis. If they get the right coach that can use the talent and fertile recruiting grounds famously termed the "State of Miami" by Schnellenberger then Miami should be competing for a BCS bowl every season. There is a notion being floated around that Miami is short on money and facilities. Once again, this is people working on notions that are old and out-dated. The issue of playing in Sun Life Stadium is what it is, there will never be an on-campus football stadium and there are much worse places to watch a game than Sun Life. Considering Edgerrin James helped get a new weight room built and NFL players still spend their summers there working out and that The Rock donated money to get new locker rooms built, I'd say facilities are on doing okay. They don't have a behemoth museum like some schools but you definitely are not left wanting. Add to this a new $5 million plan to renovate the athletic center does not give the appearance of struggling either.

The other factor when it comes to money is the firing itself. Shannon had just signed a four-year extension before the season, which came with a buyout. Someone had to step up and swallow that money for the school because the athletic department itself sure as hell was not footing the bill. Then added to that AD Kirby Hocutt is reportedly willing to offer $3-4 million per year for a new coach. There is clearly some money in the coffers at the U.

Miami has a niche in college football. It is not your traditional big conference school that churns out mobs of mouth-breathing fans every year. Our fraternity of fandom is pretty small, almost minuscule compared to the football powers. But it's one I am proud to be a part of. When I traveled down to the U this October and partied and tail-gated with what turned out to be a 60% full Sun Life Stadium, I couldn't care less about a full house. I was there to support my team with others I knew cared as much about them as I did. The value of your football program is not measured in attendance, how well your fans travel, or message board traffic. Miami has risen to the upper echelon of college football with a low rating in all those categories. The U is the exception to the rule, gate crashers that turned college football on its side and some people are never willing to let that go. We cannot duplicate our history but we can build on it. This year there will most likely be a Hurricane taken in the first round after a one year absence. Prior to that it had been 20 years straight. The strength of the U is the former players who come back and connect with the present players to show them it is a special thing to wear the U on their helemt. That may come off sounding cheesy but it is true. The strength of the U is players like Santanna Moss, who were not highly recruited but played with a chip on their shoulder and were willing to outwork anyone else.

Miami needs a coach who will foster this strength but not let it keep the program from moving forward. Acknowledge the past, but make your own destiny in the record books. Unlike when Shannon took over, the cupboard is full of talent that is waiting for someone to take them to the next level. There's nothing we can do but wait. If I had to throw a name out there since it seems clear that Gruden will not become the coach, it is Dan Mullen. He knows the state, he knows offensive football, and he has finished with a better record than Miami this year with far less talent.

I hope Randy does well wherever he goes and he is still appreciated for all the years he put in, but as Tom Petty once said, it's leaving time.

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Wednesday, December 1

But He Gets To Play

According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete's father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton's commitment to attend college and play football. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.


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Monday, November 29

The Times They Are A-Changin'

More on Randy Shannon coming. Here is the statement he released:

I am proud of the last four years at the University of Miami and what we have been able to accomplish. I have a deep respect and appreciation for the young men who have played here during my tenure.

We established three winning seasons; continually improved in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the last four years; brought in strong recruiting classes; and just as importantly, made tremendous strides off the field with our academic progress rate and graduation success rate among the best nationally.

I believe that I leave the Hurricanes football program with a stronger foundation upon which they can continue to build. I thank President Shalala for the opportunity. Those that know my history know of my passion and dedication to the 'U', and only want success for this University moving forward.

--Randy Shannon

Before I write my big summation piece on the situation, I just want to say you will not find a better man in college football coaching anywhere. I am a passionate fan but nothing can change what Shannon has meant to the program at The U. I wanted Shannon to lead Miami to success on the field as bad as anyone. It's been two days and I still do not have a good handle on how I feel about everything. One thing I do know is that I am frustrated about why it came to this.

At least Andre Johnson knows how to let off some steam for the U's frustrations.


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Friday, November 26

What's Wrong With Gerald Wallace?

Few players in the NBA have the career arc of Gerald Wallace. A first round pick to the end of the bench in Sacramento, where he became a fan favorite for his dunking prowess. Then shipped off to the new Charlotte franchise in the expansion draft, where he was propelled from mop-up duty to starter. Once Emeka Okafor departed he became the face of the young team and ultimately named to the All-Star team and all-defensive first team in the same season. This season, however, something is different and not in a good way.

Gerald’s always had a cult following, but mired in mediocrity of the first five years of the Bobcats organization, few have observed the metamorphosis of Crash. From year-to-year it has been a gift to watch his off-season work pay off as he’s improved in virtually every aspect of the game, from defense to rebounding to shot selection. Even after signing a healthy contract extension he continued to be a student of the game (a fact that is oddly praiseworthy when referring to NBA players), receiving effusive praise from notorious grumpy old man, Larry Brown. He’s gone from bench energy guy to basketball dare devil (before Blake Griffin reinvented the term) to team leading crafty veteran who still possesses the power to amaze athletically.

My view, as well as other Bobcat fans, of him has likewise evolved. I’ve argued he’d never be able to be healthy to be worth the money, that he should be traded because his value would never be higher, that he deserved to be 1st team All-Defense over LeBron , that the team would be better if he never took a shot and now I have to recuse myself from trade discussions involving him because he’s my guy.

Perhaps last season was his peak. For the first time in his Bobcat career there’s been no sign of the continuing growth that had been as much his calling card as his ability to careen in to the line, get fouled and fall awkwardly. Last season, Gerald had fewer than five rebounds just five times. He’s already logged four games this season with fewer than five. He’s also fouled out more times than he did all of last season. The biggest question for Bobcat fans, is what brought on this de-evolution? There are several possibilities, but few answers.

Possibility 1 – The loss of Robin. Entering last season, Gerald and Raymond Felton were the undisputed leaders of the team. Gerald accepted that mantle and led the team with historic rebounding numbers and for him, unprecedented scoring punch. This year, however, Raymond is gone and Stephen Jackson appears to be DJ Augustin’s preferred option. Gerald’s seemingly become an afterthought in the offense for long stretches. His “demotion” seems to have resulted in him uncoiling a greater percentage of ‘well, I guess it’s my turn’ jump shots, which have been as inaccurate as a senior citizen with a Derringer.

Possibility 2 – New Toys. Head Coach Larry Brown’s known for his penchant to tinker with the roster and also for falling in love with projects. Early in his tenure, that project was Gerald. Now, Tyrus Thomas and even Dominic McGuire have seemed to become the Players du jour for LB. Gerald’s been put on the back burner, possibly by his PG and his coach, whom he worked tirelessly for the last couple years. A couple times this season, it’s seemed clear that LB has insisted Gerald get the ball early in the 2nd half after lackluster first halves, so while he may not be getting the bulk of attention (PGs would tell you that’s a good thing) from Larry, the coach clearly understands the importance of Crash.

Possibility 3 – The Mountain Top. This one’s tough to even type. For the first time, Gerald looks like he might be feeling entitled. Not to say he hasn’t been making the “Crash” plays that fans love, but too many jumpers, too much disappearing, too much whining instead of fighting. For the first time, could he have tapped cruise control during the off-season? In the teams last four games, Gerald’s averaged over 32 minutes per game, but ten of the sixteen quarters have had either zero or one made field goal by Crash, and excluding the Knicks game in New York where he appeared to be the Gerald of old, 10 of his last 12 quarters have been subpar efforts.

Maybe last season was the peak. Maybe Gerald’s not a good fit anymore. Obviously, I hope the Cats get it figured out, but I fear it may be time for me to recuse myself from the conversation.

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MJ's Mashed-Up Message to the King

No description necessary. Just watch and get chills.

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Wednesday, November 24

Happy Thanksgiving: When A Turkey Survives

Happy Turkey Day everyone. This is without a doubt my favorite holiday of the year. A whole day of cooking, drinking, smelling food, drinking, parades, football, drinking, eating, football, drinking, and drinking while watching football. The air is fall crisp and it's the last big celebration before the dead of winter barrels down upon us.

As my family and I have gotten older the Thanksgiving traditions have changed slightly. We live in different parts and rarely all get together now but I'm looking forward to seeing most and enjoying the things I listed above with them (mostly football and drinking!). The NFL has a slate of 3 games tomorrow for your viewing pleasure. Now the games on this day are not always entertaining but it fits into the ambience of the holiday.

Patriots @ Lions: Naturally I think this is a great game because I have a rooting interest. The Lions lost Matt Stafford which is horribly unfortunate. Unlike most of the country I am rooting for the Pats and unlike most of the country I want this to be a blowout.

Saints @ Cowboys: Just think of every Cowboy fan you know. How many of them are reasonable, level-headed people? The Saints have been so quiet this season I fear for the city of New Orleans. Could another disaster be on the way? I like the Saints in this game, I think they are prime for one of their stretches of brilliant tactical offensive execution.

Bengals @ Jets: Lot of vitriol at the Jets for "getting lucky" but if the Lions don't much up their clock management, Chancey Stuckey holds onto the damn ball, or the Texans pass defense doesn't do its impression of the Hindenburg then the Jets have no shot to pull those wins out of their asses. Fact of life is the Jets are 8-2. I don't like that fact any more than you do but it is what it is. The Bengals are an absolute chemical train wreck. Jets take this one in a laugher this time.

We now come to one thought I had about a Thanksgiving tradition. The President did his usual pardoning of a turkey at the White House today. Pardoning 'Apple' and 'Cider' from certain doom. I wonder how these birds feel about themselves afterwards. Are they overwrought with guilt over being sparred while so many of their kind were hacked up and stuffed with bread product? Is there sheer joy at getting a second chance at life? Perhaps they are planning an uprising against humanity? I just imagine Apple walking out towards the edge of a field on his farm and peering deep into the distance of a sunsetting sky and trying to make sense of it all.

pic and turkey story via

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Tuesday, November 23

VHS Boxes of Epicness

A friend sent me a link to this glorious list of the 30 Most Amazingly Terrible VHS Boxes of All Time. There are some ones in this list that will have you laughing, others will have you shaking your head. For sports relevance the one below features the late Lyle Alzado was "The Destroyer". Bask in the greatness of the picture, marel at why his jackhammer has a scope on it, puzzle over the tagline and wonder if they put Lyle's head on someone else's body.

30 Most Amazingly Terrible VHS Boxes of All Time [Comics Alliance]

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Monday, November 22

Patriots Prove Einstein's Theory on Insanity

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."


One year ago, I had just moved up to New York and was crashing on my brother's couch while I looked for a place to live. On a Sunday night I headed out to a bar by myself to watch the Patriots and Colts play the Sunday night game. The Patriots jumped up to a 4th quarter 17 point lead and I left the bar and went home. On my brothers couch I prepared to watch the final seconds dwindle away. However, after a Maroney fumble and some conservative playcalling the Colts were right back in it. Bill Belichick was forced to go for it on 4th and 2 in his own territory. [Side note: I still maintain Faulk got that first down but there was no way the ref would have the onions to overturn it. Seriously, look at where Faulk's body is when he controls the ball after the bobble. Only his left leg is behind the 30.]

The Patriots did not keep attacking and that is what led to their downfall. As I sat there watching the game yesterday, I could not believe they were making the same mistake twice. Listen, I am a huge Tom Brady fan and he may be my favorite QB of all time but no one can run an offense like Peyton. In a game against the Colts, typically you have a certain number of Colts offensive possessions to implement your gameplan. After a certain point of no return (like the old mill in Back to the Future III) there is nothing you can do. Peyton will systematically break your defense into mush. That is when your defense has been as porous as the Pats has this year.

After the Patriots went up 17 they shut it down. They went to umbrella corporation mode and when you do that Peyton needs only a minute or two to score. The Colts had to bring in a no-name CB to play press coverage on Deoin Branch on 3rd down after the first TD of the 4th. He decided to manhandle Branch and got away with it. The refs were calling it light all game. Colts get the ball back and again drive right down the field and score. Now we get to the same position we were in last year. This year however, the Colts are decimated by injuries. Aside from Freeney and Mathis they are a patchwork defense. All the Patriots had to do was drive it down the field like they had been doing and they could have ended the game. They ran on first down, no problem there. They actually picked up a first down on the run. But then they ran it two more times with Indy stacking the box. A quick screen, a quick slant, a quick out, a pass to one of the TEs in the seem, anything would have gotten them down the field.

Indy had all 3 timeouts. Why are you playing kill the clock with over 3:00 left when number 18 has just shown you he needs less than two minutes to score? The Pats were left with 3rd and 9 and Brady almost threw a pick. At this point, I was hoping just to hold the Colts to a FG. Peyton picked on poor Pat Chung who had a horrible game in coverage. Down the field they went. Less than a minute left. Pats attempting to waste clock meant they would be left with no time themselves. Somehow, New England got a reprieve. Tully Banta-Cain's pressure forced an off throw and Garcon and Tamme running their routes too close together meant Sanders was close enough to intercept the pass.

This wasn't Terry Porter making the right read and stepping in front of Wayne in the Super Bowl. This was Sanders being in the right place at the right time when Peyton's throw was altered. The Colts might have gone for the home run a little early. The Patriots' defense has been bad this year, but they are young and Belichick has instituted the bend but don't break philosophy. When the Patriots have had a lead, that has changed into just try not to give up the big play. That has led to giving up big plays and points. It happened against the Jets, the Chargers and the Colts. They were fortunate to win two of those games.

I hope this philosophy changes when the playoffs get here because taking your foot off the gas is not a solid strategy. Killing the clock when your defense lets the offense score quickly is not going to work. The Pats escaped this time and have an inside track to home-field advantage. It would behoove them to learn from this game.

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Friday, November 19

It's Friday and We Ain't Gettin' No Younger

Time is unstoppable. It keeps moving and as time moves, we can taken along in the current. Before you know it you are 30 years down river when you can lucidly remember your first Thudercats Christmas present, making out with Andrea at the movies (actually paying money to see Look Who's Talking Now), walking to your first class in high school, and your last race at the U. No use fighting it. Look into the past and enjoy it but don't mire yourself in it. The time you had is gone and you are not getting it back. Have a good weekend everyone and glance back but look forward, this could be the best decade yet.

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Wednesday, November 17

It's Wednesday, Won't You Have a Link With Me?

Wednesday! What a horrid day. The phonetics of it just piss me off and it is the middle of the week so everyone uses the phrase "Hump Day". Like getting to Thursday solves everyones problems. Maybe I just hate Wednesday now because I don't get the luxury of playing trivia with Mookie Blaylock anymore.

Have you heard why Salvatore Giunta got the Medal of Honor earlier this week? If not take a look at what this guy did in Afghanistan. (Bonus! He's from Iowa) [Badassoftheweek]

Some good stuff cooking over at S & F. Some facts involved dispelling the myth of the big bad NCAA. [Sparty and Friends]

It will always be trivia Wednesday. Can you name the 100 greatest albums of the 80s according to Rolling Stone? If you can't name at least 25 get out of my sight. [Sporcle]

These are pretty cool. College basketball hype clouds. [Audacity of Hoops]

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NFC is Nonsensical as Well

The other day we took look at the mired AFC picture where there are so many contenders it is hard to decide who stands near the top. Today we turn to the NFC which has the same problem to a smaller degree and a bunch of teams that leave you wondering if they are for real or not.

Super Bowl favorites? Super Bowl favorites! It is amazing how much the talking heads love stating who is the Super Bowl favorite in the middle of the season. The NFC teams to hold the mantle in recent weeks have been the Packers, Giants, and Falcons. The Eagles vaulted into the stratusphere the last few weeks. It seems people want it to be the Packers since they were the media favorite entering the season in the NFC. There also seems to be a movement for the Falcons now. At 7-2 they hold the best record so that part of it is undeniable. However, if you are not Raheem Morris than record is not the only indicator of how your team will finish. The Thursday night win over Baltimore though and the manner in which they won has put them at the forefront.

The Pack remains a big favorite IF they avoid a slip against the Vikings. Right now they are sitting at 6-3 along with...Chicago(?). The Bears have no business being 6-3 but that is in the past. If they can somehow keep the train going they have a shot at the playoffs that very few thought possible. Minnesota is worse than the Springfield tire fire. What a mess, only an idiot would have thought they would make the playoffs let alone the Super Bowl. /clears throat.

The Giants are definitely the normal guy/werewolf of the NFC teams (didn't want to use Jekyll/Hyde line). They blow teams out, and then they look flat. I expected a good Giants team to put the hammer down on the Cowboys but instead they let John Kitna throw all over them and looked lackluster on offense. The Eagles became number 1 in everyone's hearts after Monday Night. The Vick redemption song is being drooled over by every media member out there. The outrage has been drowned out by Vick looking like he finally has a total grasp on the position. The Sunday night matchup between New York and Philly will have consequences in the division but even more in the useless power rankings. The Redskins are 4-5, still completely in it but I have never seen less faith in a 4-5 team ever.

The NFC South is always a tough division. The Panthers are not helped by having six games against these teams. Tampa is still having trouble finding believers. Morris deserves all the credit in the world for getting this team to the point they are at. Hopefully he keeps playing the "Nobody Believes In Us" card. The Saints are a forgotten team right now. They are 6-3, and can put together a playoff run if they get hot like they did last year.

The NFC West continues to be the butt of jokes. 5-4 Seattle is leading...for now. St. Louis is only a game behind and a game behind them are Arizona and San Francisco. I fully expect the winner of this division to get universally picked against in their wild card round game and I fully expect them to come out on top.

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Monday, November 15

You Can't Make Sense of the AFC Right Now

It must be generating pageviews and the debate it stirs up to keep everyone putting up NFL power rankings. They really serve no tangible purpose. Discussion relative to how "good" football teams are can be constructive and used as a tool for reflecting on the season and what possibly lies ahead. However, often times they are taken either too seriously or used as concrete fact in debate. Most seasons you can ignore all that noise, but especially this year it becomes mindless droning. There are no fewer than 21 teams in the playoff race right now and while there may be some stratification within this group it is near impossible to pin down a clear-cut favorite.

As a society we are losing our memory. We can now only remember recent events if they receive a deluge of media coverage. Things happen so quickly and we are fed information at such a rate that whatever happened two seconds ago remains relevant. It's like we are watching Spaceballs, the Movie and we missed now just then.

After the Patriots got blitzkrieged by the Browns last week many were starting to waffle on their prospects. With the Jets holding the division tiebreaker (because they have only played once at New Jersey) and beating the Lions in overtime and the Pats facing Steelers and Colts in back-to-back weeks people were ready to bury them. This was a week after New England stood alone as the only 1 loss team in the NFL. The Pats game against Indy is huge this coming Sunday. If the Pats win they will give the Colts their 4th loss and hold tiebreakers over the Ravens, Steelers, and Colts. This would seemingly give them the inside track to home-field advantage if they finish ahead of the Jets. The Pats worry continues to be their defense. One good half against Pittsburgh does not solve all, especially with 18 coming to town. Offensively, Brandon Tate remains the key in my mind. If he can get his head (and hands) straight he can become Deion Branch 2.0, you know when Deion's legs were not made of peanut brittle.

The Steelers are now in everyone's doghouse. They had a bad performance last night, especially on defense. After they went 3-1 without Roethlisberger many had them wearing the crown of the league's best team. They are still in a tough fight with Baltimore but Pittsburgh is not going to crumble down the stretch. The defense will get back in gear, but they are a far cry from the formiddable power that people had them at earlier. The offensive line is bruised and not sure-footed at all. The Patriots were at the bottom of the league in QB sacks but got 5 last night. They made Tully Banta-Cain look like LT.

The Colts are like a hybrid that ran out of electric power and are now putting along on gas fuel to try to get to Dallas. Peyton of course is that fuel. I say just give the guy the MVP again right now. There are other players who are crucial to their teams but without Manning the Colts are a 1 or 2 win team. I don't often play the violin for other teams when it comes to injuries, but they are a walking MASH unit. We all knew Bob Sanders wasn't going to make it and Anthony Gonzalez had us going for awhile. I know Peyton can take any schmoe off the street and mind-meld him into the offense after a practice or two but at some point you wonder how much you can do. The Philly game looked to be telling, but why on Earth would you count these guys out? People will be leaning heavy on New England this week but I don't buy it. I still see Peyton against that pass defense of the Patriots and shudder.

The Ravens lost a tough game on the road in a short week. This team is dangerous. When Joe Flacco doesn't sail passes they are Bangkok Dangerous. Problem is Flacco has the consistency at times of a Schizophrenic with Aspurgers. The defense is not as unassailable as in the past. The corners would be stronger if Foxworth had not gone down in the preseason. Yet, they are still a stout group. After 2000, the Ravens had some mighty good teams that never got over the hump. That is not enough to condemn a team to failure this year but the offense might be. If the offense clicks late and takes some pressure off the defense and let's them attack, the Ravens will make the Super Bowl.

The AFC West picture is foggy. The Raiders and Chiefs are 5-4 due to some ingenuity but they are prove it teams. The Chargers are right behind at 4-5 and are poised to make their late-season run. If one team can seperate they could grab a home playoff game and host either the Steelers, Patriots, Jets, or Ravens.

The Jets are winning. That is the bottom line. Like last year they are making every game an adventure of late. Unlike last year, they are winning the close contests. Some times just keep winning and you usually don't say that with the Jets but it doesn't have to dazzle you, scoring more points than the other team is a sure-fire way to come out on top. With all the attention and self-brought pressure, people are making all sorts of innane judgments about the team week to week. Some people are pointing to the will to win after beating the Browns and Lions in OT o the road. Others are not happy the team is not winning by more. To go along with 2 losses at home. As jolly as Rex Ryan is, he will keep the Jets in any game they play in January.

The best of the rest looks like Miami, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. The Dolphins beat the Titans and became a quiet 5-4 on the season. Miami certinaly has their own fate in their hands as they play both the Jets and New England but they now have their top 2 QBs on the shelf. This may stun you but Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury. Jacksonville did their best to give Gus Johnson an anuerism. Garrard is probably the best QB no one wants to talk about. Forget the LA talk, this season the Jags are going nowhere and will at least be the proverbial "thorn in side" for teams down the stretch. The Titans Randy Moss and Randy Moss but Jeff Fisher Randy Moss Vince Young's ankle Randy Moss.

Who can make sense out of all this. Easy answer is no one. Many will rank their teams and offer predictions but there are so many that when they land wrong no one cares or takes accountability. Why bother picking Super Bowl match-ups when the each week is so up and down. Getting a handle on the next few weeks to me is more intriguing than playing what if for the post-season. Of the 11 teams I mentioned only 6 are making the playoffs. This is the NFL of this season, a great up and down ride for the fans, and providing an illumination on the frivolous nature of dart throwing.

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Friday, November 12

It's Friday So Don't Blow It

Mr. Ilya Kovalchuk had a bad moment Wednesday when the Devils faced a shootout against the ASD adopted NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. The man being paid $100 million dollars to put puck in net sent puck lazily adrift in the critical moment. He blew it. Our friend of the blog Walter Peck is a Devils fan (and a veteran [/belated salute!]) so I'm sure this play and the subsequent 4-10-2 record does not please him. Being winless at home is pretty dismal as well. The Sabres are a slightly less vomit-inducing 5-9-3. Fear not Jersey fans, Kovalchuk has 15 years to make that blunder up to you.

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Tuesday, November 9

Someone Splooged on Oregon's Basketball Court

There can be no amount of surprise anymore as to what designs roll out of Eugene, Oregon. Phil Knight and his company are mad scientists when it comes to designs for his alma mater. Usually, it is the uniforms that grab people's attention but now the basketball court at the new Matthew Knight Arena. The facility is scheduled to open early next year and Oregon will certainly love the attention. The court design is supposed to evoke images of the tree-covered region of Oregon and the 1939 NCAA title team nicknamed the "Tall Firs". My first thought was that a giant got excited all over the court surface, but then again my mind is a twisted place.

Oregon’s New Court: An Unvarnished Rorschach Test? [Rush the Court]

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Monday, November 8

Herb Was Not Properly Taught How to Dougie

Everyone seems to be very impressed with John Wall's Dougie, except scrotebag radio hosts. Here we have Herb Sendek giving it his best college try and failing horribly. Him being an old white man is not enough excuse for how bad this Dougie was.

Turns out the culprits were:

"the 3- and 4-year-old daughters of Arizona State assistant coach Lamont Smith.

They showed him how to do the Dougie before the Tip-Off event began but were too shy to get on stage with him to do it, so Sendek got on stage and delivered a solo performance."

I guess there will have to be an age limit instituted no when you can teach others the mysterious intricacies of the Dougie.

Good thing Herb Sendek is a better coach than a dancer [Rivals]

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Friday, November 5

It's Friday and Kobe Is A NoobTuber

I am pretty excited for the new Call of Duty: Black Ops game to hit the shelves. It may be the first video game I get on the first day of release since...I can't even remember, Mario Kart Double Dash? Of course they have a badass commercial (Gimme Shelter is my favorite Rolling Stones song btw) to hype it up and features none other that Kobe himself.

Also, Jimmy Kimmel is in there as well with his RPG. I haven't given Kimmel much thought since the demise of the Man Show, but kudos to him for getting in on the action as well. I think it is fitting that Kobe is sporting the noobtube in the spot, especially since I loathe noobtubers. Nothing gives me more pleasure than a noobtuber wildly shooting away with his grenade launcher and missing while I line up a nice clean headshot. It appears they will still feature prominently in Black Ops so I'm sure they will frustrate me further but I look forward to getting out there and shooting projections of random people over the internet. Why yes I am single, why do you ask?

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