Friday, December 29, 2006

Week Long Hangover

After a week long hiatus, it's time to shake off some rust. I could give an in-depth analysis of strength of schedule and quality wins amongst the NCAA elite, but that sounds like a lot of work. How 'bout I just recap Thursday's action instead? Baby steps.

I was with 11,000 of my best friends at Pauley Pavilion last night as we watched the Bruins play just well enough to beat the Washington State Cougars, 55-52. The Bruins never really got into a flow offensively thanks to a combination of a good defensive gameplan from Wazzu and poor execution from UCLA's offense. In the end, Darren Collison decided to take things into his own hands. Since UCLA won, it's called "putting the team on his back." Had they lost however, I'd be criticizing him for forcing the action.

The game wasn't much to look at, but fortunately, the UCLA dance team was. This season, UCLA's dancers have adopted the rival USC song girls' strategy of adapting their dance routines from a strip club and I for one applaud that bold decision. Sitting in the stands during their routines, I felt like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, only much, much dirtier. Thanks ladies!

The Bruins will have another tough game Sunday when they play host to the Washington Huskies, who certainly will be seething after their double overtime loss to USC. Spencer Hawes played 47 of the 50 minutes and was the only starter not to foul out for the Huskies in what was a typically poorly officiated pac-10 game. (Tho the officials weren't to blame for the Huskies loss. USC was burned by the refs both at the end of regulation on a non-foul call and at the end of the 1st OT on a missed out of bounds call. The refs just stunk throughout.) Huskies' fans better savor their one year with Hawes, who showed a variety of polished moves in the post as well as a solid midrange jumper. He's surpassed Tyler Hansbrough as the 2nd best center prospect in the game. He could start at center for the neighboring Seattle Supersonics right now. Ok, that really isn't saying much. But trust me- he's a damn fine player.

In college football, Cal saved the Pac-10 from total embarassment by beating Texas A&M 45-10. Leading up to the game, the Pac-10 was 0-3 in bowl play and hadn't come within 2 TDs of winning any of those games. One of those losses included UCLA's 44-27 loss to Florida State. It was yet another bad loss for the Bruins, but perhaps it actually provides the best of both worlds for UCLA fans. The Bruins still have the joy from their 13-9 victory to knock USC out of the title hunt, but now they also have the bowl loss to provide momentum for the "Fire Karl Dorrell" campaign. As Rosie Perez so poignantly said in White Man Can't Jump, sometimes when you lose, you actually win.

The North Carolina State Bar has filed ethics charges against District Attorney Mike Nifong now that charges against the Duke lacrosse team have been dropped. One of the members of the ethics committee is a law professor at Duke University. Coincidence? I hope people are learning their lesson. You do not mess with Duke athletics. Even if it's just lacrosse. Just to be safe, I'm enrolling myself in Dick Vitale's Blue Devil appreciation course so I can be certain of how to appropriately heap praise upon all things Duke. How's this: Way to get those charges dismissed, lacrosse guys! You guys were super, scintillating, sensational! Tho not at the same time in a locked bathroom with a stripper.

The Giants signed Barry Zito for $18 million a year over 7 years. I'm willing to bet that Zito never gets 18 wins in any of those $18 million seasons. Any takers?

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas Quandary

So, even Duke fans must hate Dick Vitale by now, right? He's abandoned any thoughts of actually delivering anything even resembling basketball analysis and is just a collection of "OHH'"s and "BAY-BEES," and not in that classy porno way. Even tho ESPN2 was only able to show the 2nd half of the Duke/Gonzaga game, I still found myself hitting mute before the game was over.

The only time I turned the volume back on was when they were interviewing Kobe Bryant, who was in attendance. He didn't say anything of interest, but did anyone else see that monstrosity hanging from Kobe's left ear? It looked like something you'd use to tag a deer. I think Vanessa must have given it to him and told him it was the latest style in self-important athlete bling. But in actuality, it's a homing device so that Vanessa can track his every move. Can't say that I blame her.

So here's a tough question to ponder: If ESPN's holiday gift to you was the ability to remove one person from their roster, who would you fire? Sorry, you only get to choose one.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Delay of Game

I woke up this morning feeling about as sick as Spencer Hawes was in the low post last night.

No daytime post. I'll give it a shot in the evening.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

That Cupcake Didn't Go Down Easy

While some of the top 25 teams turned their Tuesday non-conference games into a highlight reel:

North Carolina 102, Florida Atlantic 52
Ohio State 75 (Sixers fans have hope!), Iowa State 56
Kansas 94, Winston-Salem 43

Others weren't having nearly as much fun in what were intended to be tune-up games.

UCLA seemed genuinely disinterested throughout their matchup with Sam Houston State. The game was played in front of a half-empty crowd at Pauley Pavilion and lacked any sense of urgency. Eventually, the Bruins were able to pull away to a 75-61 victory, but at no time did it feel like fans were watching the #1 team in the country.

Similarly, Duke never really got into a rhythm against a very tenacious Kent State team. The Golden Flashes (no really, that's their mascot) hung tough for 35 minutes, and even briefly held a small lead in the game. But Josh McRoberts' presence was too much inside, and his 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 blocks led the way as Duke held on to win 79-72. Still, this Duke team looks like it's a year away from being where it wants to be.

#23 Syracuse lost their game to Drexel, 84-79. Lost to Drexel? Jim Boeheim must have thought it was white boy day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Michelle Got In? For Wiel?

From the Sportsline article reporting that Jim Harbaugh had been named the new head coach of Stanford.

"The first challenge for Harbaugh will be recruiting talented players who can meet Stanford's stringent academic requirements. Harris and Teevens both struggled in that aspect of the job."

And now ESPN is reporting that Michelle Wie has been accepted to Stanford. Michelle Wie?? Have you ever heard an interview with her? Something tells me that the academic requirements for incoming athletes aren't really that stringent afterall.

(Perhaps Michelle got extra credit on her application for her international business experience:)

...So, good luck to Captain Comeback as he tries to double Stanford football's win count next season to two. But if that goal isn't met, I don't want to hear academics being used as an excuse.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Needling Chargers Fans

I wonder how many of those fans in San Diego that were cheering when Shawne Merriman made a play last night are the same fans who mercilessly taunt Barry Bonds when he visits Petco Park? I guess it's a little bit different when it's your guy juicing up to boost his performance, huh? And don't even try to give me that whole "he got it from a tainted supplement" story. If you actually believe that bill of goods, then I've got a bottle of flaxseed oil that you'll really love.

By the way, didn't Merriman say that he was going to sue the manufacturers of the supplement for his positive test? When exactly is that going to be filed again? I guess he's still waiting to find a chemist that can come up with a plausible mechanism by which creatine can transform itself into Nandrolone. If he does find that guy, he should get in touch with Rafael Palmeiro, who has a vitamin B-12 to Winstrol theory that needs investigating.

These incidents illustrate the differences in the way steroids are perceived by baseball fans and football fans. In baseball, taking steroids is the biggest sin a player can commit in the eyes of their fans. But in football, fans generally accept the fact that everyone is trying something to get bigger, stronger, and faster. In football, steroid use is the equivalent of a speeding ticket. Sure it's against the law, but everyone does it from time to time. It's nowhere near the worst thing that a football player can do to offend a fan. The worst thing a player can do, of course, is to spit on another player.

DeAngelo Hall said he lost all respect for Terrell Owens after Owens spit on him while the two were jawing in the Saturday night game. This was a pretty surprising statement because I didn't think anyone still had any respect for Terrell Owens to begin with. Now Deion Sanders is trying to give some Owens some credit for "owning up" to the spitting incident and apologizing for it. But for anyone that saw the Terrell Owens postgame interview on the NFL Network, it was obvious that Owens thought his act had been caught on tape, so he wasn't owning up to anything- he was trying to perform some damage control.

So now Terrell Owens is a member of the Saliva All-Stars where he joins Bill Romanowski, Sean Taylor, LenDale White, and PacMan Jones. That's actually not a bad list of players (in terms of talent, not character). In fact, that core group is better than anything the Raiders have going for them. I think in the 2007 draft, rather than studying combine numbers, the Raiders' scouts should just try to find as many spitters as they can. It's working for the Titans, who have two spitters and have now won 7 of their last 9 games. (Vince Young has been getting a lot of the credit for the Titans' resurgence, and some of it is warranted. But do you realize that Young has three of his wins this year have come in games in which he completed fewer than 10 passes? Even Michael Vick can do that...well, maybe.)

Deion says it's time for everyone to move on from the spitting incident and that there's no need for the league to get involved. Deion Sanders of course works for the NFL Network. You're more likely to hear Fox News say something critical of the White House administration before the NFL N will condemn one of their players. And yet, players will still find a way to blame the media the next time they do something wrong.

As reported by True Hoop, the NBA has made their attempts at fair and balanced reporting by completely omitting the Nuggets/Knicks brawl from their website Saturday night. If the NBA says it didn't happen, then it didn't happen. Unfortunately for the league, other media outlets went ahead and ran the story anyway. One of the angles that the Knicks players were taking was that the Nuggets were responsible for the brawl because they were running up the score. One of the Knicks adopting that stance was guard Nate Robinson: My favorite response to this claim comes from Dan Wetzel of Yahoo sports.
"If we're up 20 points, we're not going to play Stephon (Marbury) and Eddy (Curry)," Robinson said.

Of course not, because if the Knicks were up 20, Robinson would just honor his fallen opponent. Like when he botched that ESPY-campaign self-alley-oop and claimed humbly, "I won't be trying it again unless we're up by 20."

To the surprise of no one, David Stern is bringing down the hammer with suspensions. Carmelo Anthony is getting 15 games, while Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith are getting 10 games each. Perhaps Stern would have been more lenient if he'd been aware of the backstory behind Anthony's open hand slap (safe for most workplaces):

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A New Look

I'm not sure if I'm keeping this new design or not. But I was bored today, so I thought I'd try out a few new things. I have been resisting this as long as I could, but unfortunately I've had to add word verification to the comments section. I've just been getting carpet bombed by spam the last few weeks. If spam were sperm, I'd be the bukake queen of the blogosphere.

I'll still be tweaking the site over the next few days, so it might be a little messy. I'm also adding an RSS feed, which I've never done before- hopefully it's pretty easy.

But one thing you can count on always be a constant around here. Lots o' women in as little clothing as possible...

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Moment of Inspiration from Lorenzo Mata

If this guy:

Can find himself surrounded by bikini glad cheerleaders:

Then maybe there's hope for us all.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wrapping Things Up

-It's a bit of a slow week in sports, so while my productivity may have tapered off recently, there are still some great links across the interweb. Here are just a few of my favorites:

-Complete Sports has found some great clips of some of the best tirades by NFL coaches.

-Pacifist Viking has some really thought-provoking commentary on Peter King's recent proclamation against Terrell Owens. Dammit, I hate it when people make me think!

-USC alum Jack Del Rio had to pay off a bet to Bruin Maurice Jones-Drew after UCLA's 13-9 triumph over the Trojans.

-Ever been reluctant to vote because you felt like you wouldn't really make a difference? Well, here's an opportunity where your choice could actually have an impact. It's the NBA D-League All-Star ballot! This is part of an actual message that I received from the NBA after submitting my votes (Ryan Hollins, Dijon Thompson, Marvin Williams, who are having good years so far, and then whoever else I'd actually heard of):

Being named a starter is one of the greatest individual accolades a D-League
player can receive because it represents your voice.

Actually, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that being summoned out of the D-League is the greatest accolade a player can receive.

-I'm extremely jealous of Adam (of Hater Nation) and Zach's (The Big Picture) new roles for the AOL FanHouse. But nonetheless, I'm still a big fan of their work. Their latest stuff is here:

-Any UCLA fan has got to check out Larmz's UCLA/USC video (you may want to right click and save to your hard drive- it's about 34 MB). I was going to wait until the final version was ready before posting since there are a few items which need to be cleaned up, such as an error on the date. But the overall quality is just so amazing that I couldn't wait to share it. If you're a Bruins fan and watching this video doesn't make you a little bit emotional, then I just don't think we can be friends anymore. (Thanks to BruinsNation and Bruinville for the find.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Madden Awards, Minus the Whap

Anytime that a team ascends to first place in their division, there will always be a superstar that symbolizes that team (Tomlinson, Urlacher, Manning, etc) and receives all of the publicity. But to truly be a great team, there must also be players willing to do the dirty work that goes unnoticed. The following players are all relatively unheralded, underappreciated teammates who are nonetheless essential to their team's success:

San Diego, FB, Lorenzo Neal

LaDanian Tomlinson is the leading candidate for the NFL MVP, but he owes some of that front-runner status to the man running in front of him. Lorenzo Neal is a 5’11, 255 pound wrecking ball that feeds off of contact. Following Neal’s lead blocks gives Tomlinson the space he needs to take any carry the distance. When Tomlinson is giving his speech in Canton in a decade or so, he should be sure to thank Neal for helping to pave the way. For a true appreciation of the innerworkings of Lorenzo Neal’s mind, check out the Smorgasboard over at The Mighty MJD and search “Lorenzo.” My personal favorite comes from week 4.

(Update: Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver obviously read my blog, then scheduled an impromptu interview with Lorenzo Neal to produce this excellent article. Very shrewd of you, Mr. Silver.)

New Orleans, OT, Jammal Brown

Jammal Brown anchors the Saints’ offensive line and protects the blindside of one Mr. Drew Brees, who you may be aware is having a pretty decent season. In addition to already passing for over 4,000 yards and 25 TDs, Brees has only been sacked 15 times in 13 games. Jammal Brown hits an opposing pass rusher like it was his wife and she was late with dinner.

As an aside, the Saints traded with the Texans to move to the #13 spot in order to draft Jammal Brown in the 2005 draft. The Texans slid down to #16 and used that pick on Florida State DT Travis Johnson who has had very little impact on the team thus far. So Texans fans (are there any left?), your team could have had Jammal Brown and either Reggie Bush or Vince Young, but instead opted for Travis Johnson and Mario Williams. Ouch.

Baltimore, LB Adalius Thomas

Ray Lewis always gets all of the publicity on this Ravens’ defense what with his dancing and his belief that he’s chosen by God , and his ability to cover-up a murder and all. But while Lewis may be the most versatile player off the field, Thomas is the Ravens’ most versatile defender on the field. Thomas is a very effective pass rusher and has tallied 10 sacks this season. However Thomas isn’t just a pass-rushing specialist. He can also drop into coverage and is very good against the run. I’m sure Ravens’ fans already know how good Thomas is, but since he doesn’t have a seizure every time he makes a tackle, much of his play goes unnoticed around the league. By all accounts, Adalius Thomas is a good guy off the field too. He’s created the S.L.A.S.H. fund, which is a community foundation with the goal of promoting acadmic development in urban areas. And as far as I know, he's never been charged with murder.

Chicago, K, Robbie Gould

I was going to give the Bears’ nomination to LB Lance Briggs, as his 100+ tackles are a huge part of a Bears defense in which Urlacher gets most of the publicity. But then Peter King featured him on America’s Night of American Football in America. If Peter King is talking about him, then there’s no way he’s under the radar. So instead, I’ll go with Robbie Gould and his league leading (among kickers) 118 points. With Rex Grossman struggling, the offensive gameplan is just to avoid making mistakes and try to get an early lead for the defense to protect. In that scenario, Robbie is as good as gol… sorry, I just can’t do it.

New England, DL, Ty Warren and Vince Wolfork

Football analysts are so busy slurping on Tom Brady seven days a week that I’m surprised he has the energy to actually play on gameday. But since I drew #145,367 in the waiting list to lick Brady’s right nut, I’ll have to find another player that’s important to the team. The Pats’ defense is 3rd in the NFL in points surrendered, and as I’ve learned from playing Madden, it all starts up front on the line. Vince Wolfork does a great job occupying multiple offensive linemen and stuffing the run, while Ty Warren has a career high with seven sacks this season. Their activity frees up space for the linebackers to make plays and keeps pressure on the QB, which CB Asante Samuel certainly appreciates while he’s in the midst of contract negotiations. Drafting D-linemen in the 1st round has worked out much better for the Patriots than the Texans thus far.

Seattle, FB, Mack Strong

Mack Strong is to the Seahawks what Lorenzo Neal is to the Chargers (tho I’d say Neal is slightly better at the position). Coming into 2006, Mack Strong had been the fullback for a 1,000 yard rusher in 11 of his 13 seasons. With the injury to Shaun Alexander along with the departure of Steve Hutchinson, that stat will likely be 11 out of 14; but nevertheless, Strong has been doing his part- sacrificing his body so that someone else can get the glory. Even in a down year, the honor has to go to Strong, even if for no other reason than the process of elimination. The run defense has been horrid, Alexander has been hurt, and the passing game has been erratic since Hasselbeck injured his knee. How is this team in first place again? Wow, the NFC West is bad.

Dallas, LB, Bradie James

After watching their performance Sunday night, it’s hard to believe that the Cowboys are a first place team with a solid defense. But unless the Falcons prove otherwise this Saturday, I’ll consider the blowout to be the result of excellent play by the New Orleans Saints rather than poor play by the Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware is the most exciting and most dominant member of the Dallas defense, but it’s inside linebacker Bradie James that is actually leading the team in tackles with 83. In the Cowboys 4-4 start to this season, James was averaging 5.3 tackles per game. Since then, James has stepped up his play and is averaging 8 tackles per game, and the Cowboys are 4-1. I don’t know if that stat really has any meaning attached to it, but since I went through all the trouble of opening the Windows calculator to compute it, I’m using it! (I also probably doubled the hit count on Bradie James’ player card on

All of these players help make the job easier for the anointed stars on their team. While it may not land them on a video game cover anytime soon, it has landed them in first place.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Case of the Mondays

Rather than spend the day indoors w/ my laptop, I'm going to actually head outside where there are real walking, talking people. It will be a culture shock for sure, but sometimes I need to remind myself that humanity can exist beyond the internet and Sunday Ticket.

So no update until tonight.

As a public service, please be aware that with this being the holiday season, it's unfortunately also the time of year to be wary of scam artists. I recently became aware of this con job:

A "heads up" for you and any of your guy friends who may be regular Home Depot customers. Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you.

Here's how the scam works: Two seriously good-looking 18 or 19-year-old girls come over to your car as you are packing your purchased items into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say "No" and instead ask you for a ride to another Home Depot. You agree and they get in the back seat. On the way, they start having sex with each other. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and performs oral sex on you while the other one steals your wallet.

I had my wallet stolen November 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, three times just yesterday, and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Nightcap

In a move that shocked no one, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants came to terms on a one year deal. The negotiations became productive when Bonds decided to personally attend the winter meetings. At the meetings, a fan called Bonds a cheater who had ruined the game, at which point Bonds said, "Man, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that." Giants GM Brian Sabean yelled out "deal" and after estimating that he'll be derided 320 million times by fans this season, a 1 year, $16 million contract was agreed upon...

When the Dodgers were informed that J.D. Drew was going to exercise the escape clause in his contract, there should have been rejoicing within the organization. At the $11 million per season that he was due, he was an overpaid disappointment. His departure would pave the way for prospects such as Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Jason Repko to establish themselves on the team, and at a much lower price. Instead, GM Ned Colletti reacted with anger and then in panic moves, signed Juan Pierre to a 5 year, $45 million contract, and today officially signed Luis Gonzalez to a one year, $7 million deal. These two players will not provide any more production than the youngsters would have, are older, and will cost roughly $15 million more in the 2007 season than the prospects. It makes absolutely no sense at all. Dodgers fans are so outraged that they've decided that as a sign of protest, they won't show up to any home games until the 3rd inning...

The Royals surprised people by entering the free agent frenzy and throwing $55 million over 5 years to Gil Meche. Meche has a career ERA of 4.65, but somehow in today's market, that's worth 11 mil a year. Although to be fair, the Royals will really only pay about $6 million before trading him to a contender sometime in July...

The same day they signed Meche, the Royals released Runelvys Hernandez. Hernandez was 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA last season, so the only options for the Royals were either to let him go, or sign him to 4 year, $36 million deal...

The Steelers destroyed the Cleveland Browns 27-7 in a game that wasn't even as close as the score indicated. The Browns couldn't stop the run at all, surrendering 223 yards to Willie Parker. Meanwhile, their own running game averaged an Edgerrin James-like 1.6 yards per carry. The play of the Browns was so pathetic that after the game, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Browns would immediately be moved to the NFC where they'd fit in much better...

The Notre Dame student body rushed the court after their basketball team upset the #4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 99-85. It's a little early in the season for a major school like Notre Dame to storm the court. I think watching their football team these last few years has conditioned students to expect a home loss anytime a ranked opponent comes to visit, and now they don't know how to appropriately react when they actually win...

The Miami Hurricanes have decided to promote defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to be their next head coach. Shannon said he was pleased, but mostly relieved, because he would have had to quit the profession completely if he'd been beaten out for the job by Bernie freaking Kosar...

Despite signing a 7 year deal with West Virginia in June, Rich Rodriguez will officially take over as the new coach of Alabama for the handsome sum of $2 million a year. The last time a Big East coach left his team just before a bowl game to accept a higher paying job, John L Smith was ditching Louisville for the Spartans gig. I think we all know how well that worked out. Fortunately for Rodriguez, he doesn't have to do much to show an improvement from the 2006 season. Succeeding Mike Shula as head coach is like auditioning for a Shakespearean play and learning that you'll be on after Keanu Reeves.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Free Firewater for Players Only

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is buying the Hard Rock business, including the Hard Rock Casino in a deal worth $965 million. The deal is seen as great synergy for the Seminoles as it was projected that Jenn Sterger was going to be working as a vegas cocktail waitress within the next few years anyway.

According to this article, U.S. tribes now collect more than $22 billion per year in gambling revenues. Meanwhile, the US government is still trying to figure out how to enhance its online gambling act because they want to protect Americans from reckless gambling. In related news, the NCAA is reluctant to institute a college football playoff system because they want to protect the academic integrity of its athletes.

I mid-Majored in Political Science of Athletics

The college basketball season doesn't really get heated up until conference play starts in a few weeks. So if you haven't really been paying attention to scores yet, I don't blame you. Here is a quick recap of some notable results from the last few days:

Tennessee routed #16 Memphis 76-58 to improve to 7-2.

Indiana destroyed Western Illinois by 52 points and is now 5-2 on the season.

Notre Dame went into Maryland and beat the #23 Terrapins 81-74, for their 6th win against one loss.

#18 Gonzaga struggled in Pullman, losing 77-67. However that was only their 2nd loss of the season, which removes only a little luster off of their 8 wins, including one against North Carolina and one at Texas.

So what do Tennessee, Indiana, Notre Dame, and Gonzaga all have in common other than having no more than two losses? They've all been beaten by the undefeated Butler Bulldogs of the Horizon League. Butler, who beat Ball State by 24 Wednesday, has four quality wins and is now a perfect 10-0 on the season. They've won their last three games by an average of 21 points, and their Sportsline RPI, an approximation of the Ratings Percentage Index, is #1 in the country. So...where did pollsters put Butler this week? Well, the AP has them at #15 while the coaches bumped them up to #14. Say what??

This week, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the BCS and the problems inherent with using polls to help determine a champion. While the flaws of polls are most glaring in college football, they have similar failings in college basketball. The system sets up these polls to be failures from the onset by virtue of asking its voters to rank teams before any team has actually played a game. Preseason polls, while great for selling magazines and initiating discussion, do little more than to harden preconceived notions about traditional powerhouses while handicapping less renowned schools with institutional obstacles that are very difficult to overcome. In football, Rutgers and Boise State were hindered by these obstacles. Both teams were among the last of the unbeatens (the Broncos still haven't lost), yet neither were given a sniff of being #1- mostly because nobody anticipated them to be good; and therefore, their initial ranking was so low that even a steady climb wouldn't get them to the top. Now the basketball season has begun, and Butler is dealing with the exact same scenario.

I suppose the question to ask is: What are these polls supposed to represent? Should voters be picking the team that they think is the best (i.e., the greatest accumulation of talent), or should they be choosing the team that has actually performed the best? If the answer is to just pick the best team, then in basketball, Florida should be #1 in the country throughout the entire year. Their losses should just be viewed as aberrations that have no effect on their actual ranking. Just keep them at the top until tourney time. But if voters are supposed to be choosing the team that has actually had the best performance to date, then it seems to me that Butler should be the #1 team in the land. (No offense to UCLA, who I'd have at #2, as their wins over Kentucky and Ga Tech don't seem quite as impressive as they did back in Maui.)

Fortunately, basketball has a playoff system, so rankings aren't quite as big of an issue in hoops as they are in college football. However, rankings are certainly used as a factor in determining tournament seedings, so they aren't completely irrelevant. Additionally, for a small school like Butler, being ranked #1 for even just a week or two would be a tremendous reward for the players. Unfortunately, with the system in place today, Butler players will never be fully rewarded for their early accomplishments this season.

There is, however, one silver lining for the Butler Bulldogs. By staying out of the limelight of being #1, at least they'll be able to avoid having Dick Vitale call their games. On second thought, maybe being an unheralded mid-major isn't so bad afterall.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

My friend Don Capo (it's a blogger's rule that anytime you refer to a friend in a post, you have to give them a goofy, psuedo-frat nickname) had this response when he first saw this video. "Life is complete when you realize you have a theme song." I couldn't agree more. So while this isn't sports related, I'm still going to post this work of genius to the site. It was either that or write a few hundred words on how JD Drew sucks. I think I made the proper choice. Enjoy.

Someone Caught a Big Fish

This Saturday, Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis will marry law school graduate Natalee Vitagliano. With two days left until the wedding, there are still a few items remaining on their wedding registries. Fortunately, the couple has been reasonable and is registered at Macy's and Crate and Barrel.

While the Waterford standing cross has already been snatched up, you can still send your love with a Vera Wang Ice Bucket for $150. Of if you'd prefer, the 7.5" Holland Bowl for $15.95 is a nice way to say, "Hey, I'd really like a thank you note from Dontrelle Willis."

By my count, the registries include over 80 individual items (goblets, martini glasses, decanters, etc) whose primary function is to deliver alcohol from a bottle into your belly. I think I'm beginning to understand Dontrelle's crazy windup now. He thinks he's going through a normal delivery, but he's so lit that he flails about like Bob Huggins at a sobriety checkpoint.

Oh...and congratulations to the happy couple.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pete Carroll's Ass Shall Not Be Crowned

Tonight, a clam and I are of equal happiness. However I am slightly drunker. It would be a mistake to try to conjure up some sort of coherent thoughts about the day in sports, but I will at least try to jot down a few notes before passing out...

  • I don't know who inserted an emotion chip into the Karl Dorrell robot, but thank you, and it's about time. I fully expected Dorrell to stare blankly throughout the day while watching the game slip away from him. But instead, he actually showed fire and a desire to win. I hope he noticed the results and puts the lessons learned to use in the 2007 season that he'll now be allowed to coach because of this victory.

  • For the most part, Pete Carroll said all of the right things in his interviews after the defeat, but what was with the slap to Dorrell's face during the postgame handshake? I doubt he would have tried that stunt with Charlie Weis if the Trojans had lost to Notre Dame last week. Of course, it's probably a bad idea to put anything too close to Charlie's mouth that you're not willing to lose.

  • After the game, I was considering naming my next born son "DeWayne" after UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker. But since I'm white, it might make more sense for me to go with "Eric" in honor of linebacker "Eric McNeal."

  • This was probably Patrick Cowan's second to last start of his college career, but he's already got a great story to tell his kids. Although, I'll be telling my kids that I played in that game too. What difference is to them if I distort reality a bit? If the kids can have Santa, then I can be a nickel back on the UCLA D.

  • Could Lisa Salters please join my co-ed softball league? Did she really ask Karl Dorrell, "Who else believed you could win this game?"

  • On the bright side for USC fans, at least not every USC supporter was upset about the Bruins scoring points. I wonder if that's the same cheerleader from the Texas game? (thanks to Bruins Nation for the find.)

  • If Michigan does get into the championship game, then the Rose Bowl will likely be a matchup between USC and LSU in what could be dubbed the OnePeat Bowl. LSU fans are still upset that their 2003 championship has been largely dismissed by the media (ESPN/ABC) who believed that conjuring up a "threepeat" for USC last year was a better storyline. While there won't be many of the same players from the 2003 teams, there will still be plenty of animosity coming from LSU. It should be a pretty compelling matchup.

  • Oh..I also saw some previews for the new Rocky movie today. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but I think Rocky gets beat up pretty badly at the beginning of the fight, but then rallies towards the end.

  • There were other games played Saturday, including a triple overtime game between Rutgers and West Virginia, which the Mountaineers won by defending a Rutgers two-point conversion. Normally, this game would be considered a thriller, but in this instance the three overtimes were mostly an inconvenience, as it meant that the athletic directors at Miami and Alabama had to wait longer before they could call the head coaches to lure them over to their schools.

  • Speaking of coaches, Bob Stoops has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country this season. He lost his starting quarterback and Heisman level running back and is only a pac-10 officiating crew away from being a one loss team. Granted the Big 12 is down a bit this year, but it's still a very impressive accomplishment. It will look great on his resume when he applies for the 2008 Cowboys coaching job.

  • Arkansas could be a great team if they didn't have to ask Darren McFadden to be Bugs Bunny for their team. Running back, Darren McFadden. Quarterback, Darren McFadden. Wide Receiver, Darren McFadden....Get the man some help!

  • For those who say the BCS system doesn't work (i.e. everyone except university presidents), here would be the matchups of a 4 team playoff:

    (1) Ohio State vs (4) Louisville
    (2/3) Florida vs (2/3) Michigan

    Hmmm...that doesn't look bad at all...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Those Gutty, Little Bruins"

I'm still too giddy (and buzzed) to make a coherent entry. So I present this for your viewing pleasure:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Putting the Cry in Rally Cry

This week, I haven't mentioned much about the upcoming UCLA-USC game at the Rose Bowl. With the UCLA's head coach Karl Dorrell already conceding defeat, it's hard for any Bruins' fan to have much optimism. Sure, there's always the cliche that you can throw out the records in a rivalry game. But while the records may not matter, attitude and motivation do; and it's really, really, really difficult for me to imagine that Dorrell is going to fire up the troops with comments like, "I hope we give them a game." That kind of stuff works when you're Lou Holtz or Bill Parcells in the 80's and your team is heavily favored, and you're just trying to prevent your players from overlooking the opponent. But when you're the underdog, humility isn't the recipe for success- unabashed, irrational optimism is. However, since I am a Bruin, I'll still hold on to some hope that UCLA can find a way to win this game. But I feel like a 10 year old who still believes in Santa- everyone tells me I'm crazy, but I don't want to give up the last bits of hope that it could be real.

A few other quick thoughts on the game:

-How slim are the Bruins' chances of a victory on Saturday? Well, a local furniture store has a promotion wherein all purchases made today will be free if UCLA beats USC Saturday.

-Listening to Pete Carroll's press conference yesterday, I was filled with just one emotion. Jealousy. Short of NCAA sanctions, there is no way that USC is ever leaving the top 5 as long as Carroll is their head coach. I just hope that the Arizona Cardinals make him an offer he can't refuse. (Tho if it were me, the immediate factor that would make me refuse any offer would be, "it came from the Arizona Cardinals.)

-Thank you Ben Howland for saving my sanity. (Or maybe giving me another outlet for insanity...but either way, thank you.)

-Instead of a bonfire rally last night, perhaps UCLA should have held a seance, in the hopes of channeling the spirit of Wayne Cook into Patrick Cowan and JJ Stokes into Brandon Breazell.

-Reality check: Saturday will be the day that running back CJ Gable becomes the next great breakout star at USC.

-Finally, I'll leave UCLA and Michigan fans with one final glimmer of hope- if Mike Riley can coach a team to an upset victory over USC, then anyone can.