Wednesday's List of 13:
Nobody asked me, but...........
All basketball information on college basketball page
NHL info every day from now until the Stanley Cup finals........
Baseball info starts April 6; lots of good knowledge every day
-- Kentucky 72, Georgia 64-- Dawgs gave Kentucky everything they had, but in the end, poor foul shooting doomed them. Wildcats are now 30-0.
-- Navy 56, Army 52-- Middies end a 14-game losing streak in conference tourney games.
-- Ill-Chicago 60, Wright State 57-- Flames were down 39-20 at the half.
-- Villanova 76, Creighton 72-- Wildcats didn't look like a #1 seed in this game.
-- Northwestern 82, Michigan 78, 2OT-- Chris Collins' team is finishing strong.
-- Kansas 76, West Virginia 69, OT-- Jayhawks were 0-15 on arc, 34-43 on line; they were down 18 at one point. WVU played without both its starting guards.
Quote of the Day
“That’s bullshit. No grownups on the roster. You can’t win without grownups.”
David West, on Denver firing coach Brian Shaw
Who was the basketball coach at Kentucky before John Calipari?
The younger George Bush beat Al Gore, John Kerry in his two Presidential elections.
Mike Davis replaced Bob Knight as basketball coach at Indiana; he is now the coach at Texas Southern.
Super Bowl records- most passing yards in a Super Bowl:
keep in mind there have now been 49 Super Bowls (98 QBs).
3) 365 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs NE-- Super Bowl XXXVI
2) 377 yards, Kurt Warner, Cardinals vs Pitt-- Super Bowl XLI
1) 414 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs Tenn-- Super Bowl XXXIV
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Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Great night of basketball on TV, but when midnight struck, all the favorites got out with a win; Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova. Its late in the year; everyone is tired-- players, coaches, refs. Conference tournaments will re-energize people.
12) Kentucky is good for other SEC teams; how many basketball sellouts do they get in Athens, Georgia? Wildcats most always win, but they put some big money in their rivals' pockets. Mark Fox signed a contract extension Tuesday; he is making progress, but its a big hill he is climbing.
11) It just dawned on me that I feel sorry for the poor bastard who takes Calipari's place at Kentucky; talk about impossible shoes to fill. he does a tremendous job, but has created a monster that is almost impossible to satisfy.
10) Iowa 77, Indiana 63-- Spoiled fanbase in Indy isn't thrilled with Tom Crean; on July 1, his buyout goes down from $12M to $7.5M. If Brad Stevens ever decides the NBA isn't for him, the coffers will open to lure Stevens to Bloomington.
9) Maryland 70, Rutgers 60-- Thirteen losses in a row for Rutgers, whose move to the Big 14 hasn't gone well. Lot of good ballplayers in New Jersey; how about recruiting some of them? Maryland on the other hand; they're a pleasant surprise.
8) Middle Tennessee is 15-14, 8-8 in C-USA, but they could be a lot better. Here are the Blue Raiders' last three losses:
-- Lost 71-68 at Rice, in double overtime.
-- Lost 57-56 at North Texas; led by 19 at the half.
-- Lost 100-95 at UAB, in triple overtime.
7) Chip Kelly already has nine ex-Oregon players on the Eagles, after he traded his star running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for Kiko Alonso. Kelly dumped DeSean Jackson last year, now McCoy is gone. Will he try to trade up to take former Oregon QB Mariota in the draft? If he does, hope he trades Nick Foles to St Louis.
6) Knicks and Celtics lost Tuesday.....by a combined 69 points. Oy.
Seriously, if you charge $3,600 a seat for courtside seats, how the hell do you lose at home to Sacramento by 38 points?
5) George Karl coaches Sacramento now; he is the Kings' third coach this year. Bet he had a little chuckle when Denver fired Brian Shaw yesterday, because the Nuggets were a pretty good team when Karl coached them, but ownership got impatient with early playoff exits and cleaned house. Not all change is positive.
4) NFL went to a 16-game regular season in 1976; since then, Chicago has had the most different starting QBs, 38. Buccaneers have had 36 and #37 will be in September. ESPN had the Browns with 37, but from '76-'95, those Browns are really the Ravens' franchise, so thats not accurate.
3) Ray Rice banks $1.59M from the Ravens in a settlement; must be nice. Doubt he gets signed by another NFL team and no way would he ever have a TV career; lot of negative publicity for anyone who signs him. Invest that money wisely, sir.
2) Smart move by New York City baseball teams, delaying spring debuts of ARod and Matt Harvey until they can play in games televised by TV stations owned by the team. Harvey pitches for the Mets Friday, SNY's first broadcast of the spring. Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup today on the YES Network. Smart move.
1) College basketball season has become so long; it starts around Veterans' Day and is still going. Most you can have is 13 scholarship players; most teams have less. You get couple injuries, a suspension and you're down to 7 or 8 players. Teams like UNLV, Southern Miss, Michigan, Marquette, even Duke have dangerously thin rosters. Indiana added a football player on January. Thats why teams are wearing down now, just before the fun starts with conference tournaments and the NCAAs.
Tuesday's List of 13: Looking at college tournament histories......
A look at histories of some of the conference tournament histories that start this week
13) MAAC-- Siena won both the regular season and conference tournament in 2008-10, but since then, the top seed hasn't won the tournament. #1 seed lost in the semis three of last four years, in the final last year.
12) OVC-- Murray State went 16-0 in the OVC this year; they've been top seed in this tournament four times in last ten years and won it three of the four times. In last four years, four different teams won this tournament.
11) CAA-- Eight of last 11 tournament winners aren't in this league anymore; #1 seed has won it once in last four years. This year, four teams tied for top spot so Sunday's semi doubleheader should be exceptional, if top seeds all win Saturday. In last four years, four different teams have won this tournament.
10) WCC-- Gonzaga and everyone else, though Bulldogs lost their last game at home to BYU. Zags won this tournament eight of last 11 years; St Mary's won twice and San Diego once. Gonzaga is looking like a #2 seed in NCAAs; every other team is trying to play their way in, with BYU having the best shot. Cougars lost in finals last year, split six games in WCC tourney since joining the league.
9) MVC-- Wichita State/Northern Iowa are far and away the two best teams this year; top seed won this tournament last two years, after winning only twice in decade before that. Shockers/Panthers' only two losses this year came against each other. Four of last six WCC finals were decided by 4 or less points.
8) Summit-- Even though tourney is played at a neutral site, top seed has won six of last seven tournaments. South Dakota State/North Dakota State tied for top spot this year. Bison won a game in NCAA tournament last March.
7) Horizon-- Top seed won this tournament six of last ten years, but 7-9 Milwaukee won LY. Wright State lost in final last two years, but they're 3-13 this year. Valpo is top seed this year at 13-3; Green Bay 12-4, Cleveland State/Oakland 11-5. League isn't as good as it was when Butler was here.
6) Big X-- One of few leagues where teams play everyone else twice, so every game in this tournament will be a third meeting this season. Top seed won this tournament five of last eight years, Kansas wins the regular season every year, but they've "only" won the conference tournament three of the last six years.
5) Big East-- St John's plays tournament on its home floor; they're #8 in country in experience, 6th-to-last in bench minutes. Winning three days in row could be an issue. Last 11 years, lower-seeded team is 6-5 SU in tournament final. Of last seven Big East champions, only one is still in the league.
4) Big 14-- Either Michigan State or Ohio State won this tournament the last five years (OSU three, MSU two); Top-seeded Wisconsin last won this event in 2008; #1 seed won this tournament five of last eight years. Maryland went 12-4 in its first year in the league; will be weird seeing them play in this tournament, instead of the ACC.
3) Pac-12-- Arizona is obviously best program here, but they haven't won this event in last 12 years; lower-seeded team won finals in this tournament last six years, with last four tournaments won by all different teams. Last time top seed won this event was UCLA is 2008. Having tourney in Las Vegas has upgraded it.
2) SEC-- If Kentucky doesn't win this it'll be national news, but top seed won the SEC tourney only twice in last seven years. Kentucky played in four of last five finals, but lost last two as different team won this event the last four years. Five of last six finals were decided by seven or less points.
1) Mountain West-- New Mexico won this turnament last three years, but the wheels have fallen off for Lobos this season, in a down year for the league. San Diego State is the only lock for NCAAs, but Bosie State is hot and could get in with strong showing here. UNLV is host team but they haven't won this event since 2008.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Everyone has bad days, even Lebron James, who went 3-11 from the foul line in an OT loss in Houston. Cavaliers are 37-24, right now the #4 seed in the east- that would pit them against #1 seed Atlanta in the second round.
12) NBA office once vetoed a Kevin Garnett/DeAndre Jordan trade, maybe the best move the Clippers never made. Jordan had 26 rebounds Sunday in Chicago.
11) Speaking of Garnett, he bought 1,000 tickets for tonight's game with the Clippers and gave them away-- thats a pretty expensive gift. .
10) Watched the Jerry Tarkanian memorial on the Internet yesterday; UNLV did a really nice job, with one segment video appearances by John Calipari, Dick Vitale, Tom Thibodeau, Bob Huggins and Mike Krzyzewski.
ESPN's Kenny Mayne was the emcee; he is a former backup QB for the Rebels.
9) Hard to believe the NFL hasn't had a team in LA or Anaheim since 1994, but it looks like they'll have at least one therre fairly soon. I've been a Ram fan since the mid-60's; they weren't supported that well in the Coliseum, which is why they moved to Anaheim. Part of the reason they moved out of the Big A is that then-owner Georgia Frontiere was from St Louis-- really wasn't a great move for the franchise.
8) Tired of people bashing current Rams owner Stan Kroenke as being difficult to deal with; its not that hard to meet him. I live in upstate NY and I've met the guy. Saw him at the NBA Summer League in Vegas few years ago, talked to him about the Rams for 10 minutes. Good guy, was very polite and answered some questions. He's a business guy; he'll do what is best for his wallet, which is how rich people get rich. Would any of us do any differently?
7) When James Hahn won the LA Open last week, he was 297th in World Golf Ranking; this week, Padraig Harrington was 297th and now he is contending at Doral, only four shots out of the lead, thats how competitve golf has become, guys barely in the top 300 are winning or contending to win.
6) If you shoot a basketball and it wedges between the backboard and the rim, that should not be ruled a held ball, the defense should get the ball. No way should the offense benefit from a shot like that- those are bad shots.
5) Want to feel old? Ron Howard (Richie Cummingham on Happy Days, Opie on the Andy Griffith Show) turned 61 Sunday.
4) Saturday night, UTEP blew a 15-point halftime lead and lost at lowly Southern Miss 63-60; thats what happens when your head coach is suspended for a game. Tim Floyd was ejected at Louisiana Tech in the Miners' previous game and got suspended for that, so in effect, he got thrown out of two games for the same act.
3) Did you know the voting age is Japan is 20? Me either.
2) Oregon 73, Stanford 70-- 11 ties, 17 lead changes as the Ducks stay hot; tough loss for Stanford, which now probably needs to win the Pac-12 tournament or else they'll be on ESPN losing an NIT home game in a couple weeks.
1) Let me get this straight; the 76ers have two young prospects they drafted who have never played for the team, then they traded for JaVale McGee and just cut him, possibly because he doesn't always try hard. My question is this: Is the 76er brass trying hard to win? How are they any different from McGee?
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) ESPN has gone overboard with "Joe Lunardi Week" this week, having the expert on Bracketology on live during every game to offer his astute observations on the Field of 68. Lunardi does a fine job, seems like a decent guy but his word isn't gospel and ESPN acts like it is. Interesting food for thought but thats all it is.
12) BYU 73, Gonzaga 70-- This probably means the Zags are out of a #1 seed and out of the West Region; also means headaches for the committee, since BYU can't play on Sunday so they have to be placed into a Thursday/Saturday bracket. BYU's RPI went up 20 sports after this win at Gonzaga.
11) Boise State 56, San Diego State 46-- Broncos are hot team in a down Mountain West this year. San Diego State cannot score and that'll be enough to send them packing early in the NCAAs.
10) Referee Brian O'Connell worked the Manhattan-Iona game in New Rochelle Friday night; less than 15 hours after that game emded, O'Connell was in Madison Square Garden, doing the Georgetown-St John's game. Refs make a ton of money but they also work very hard, as many as five or six games a week.
9) Boston College 79, NC State 63-- "you can buy Wolfpack/NiT ticket packages starting today in Raleigh"; this was a bad loss.
8) Clemson 70, Georgia Tech 63 OT-- Tigers raced out to a 20-2 lead, so if you laid 3.5 points in this one, what looked like an easy win became a nailbiter. Starting to look like Yellow Jackets will be coach-searching soon.
7) Fresno State 59, New Mexico 55-- Former Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, now a sub-par TV analyst, when this game was 26-8, Fresno: "I think the pace of play favors Frerno." Really? Ya think?
6) Sacramento State 73, Portland State 60-- Hornets are now game ahead in Big Sky standings, which means they would host the Big Sky tournament in a makeshift "gym" that has never been used for basketball before. Could be interesting.
5) Murray State 73, Tenn-Martin 67-- Racers finish OVC play 16-0; now comes the hard part; winning the OVC tournament, or else.......
4) St John's 81, Georgetown 70-- Steve Lavin's unpredictable team is taking its erratic act to the NCAA tournament. Good luck getting their bracket right.
3) Kentucky 84, Arkansas 67-- Razorbacks love to press, but they couldn't score enough in this game to set up their press enough- this one was over early.
2) UAB 100, Middle Tennessee 95, 3OT-- Blazers blew 12-point halftime lead befoe they won Saturday's game of the day.
1) I don't get too involved with which team gets which seed in the NCAA tournament; to me, the big thing is who gets in, thats what matters. The NCAA committee does a good job, for the most part, but is tough to do that job and keep everyone happy.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) At midnight Friday night, TCU's hoop team was still on an Amtrak train going from Fort Worth to Norman for this afternoon's game with Oklahoma. They took the train because weather problems made flying hazardous, but train travel was also slow. If the game goes on at the scheduled time, TCU will be on very short rest. .
12) Arkansas' flight to Kentucky also got off to a late start. Razorbacks won couple of OT games against Kentucky LY--in one of the games, both teams took 40+ FTs. In my mind, the biggest question here is can Arkansas score enough to put their press on enough to force 15+ turnovers?
11) Florida State has a freshman named Xavier Rathan-Mayes who went on an epic scoring spree at Miami the other night. He had fve points with 5:00 left and FSU was down 18, but he scored 30 points in the last 4:52 as Florida State rallied late but lost 81-77 to the Hurricanes in Miami. I checked it twice; he scored 30 points in less than five minutes of gametime.
Even after his scoring spree, Rathan-Mayes is shooting only 27.4% from the arc.
10) UTEP coach Tim Floyd is suspended for today's game at Southern Miss after he got tossed at Louisiana Tech Thursday. Ironic because Floyd's father used to coach at Southern Miss. Miners struggled lately; frustrations are mounting.
9) Florida Gators re-instated second-leading scorer Dorian Finney-Smith for their game with Tennessee tonight. Florida's season is a disaster; not even sure they'll go to one of the consolation tournaments.
8) If professional teams charge higher ticket prices for teams with big stars, like Lebron James or Mike Trout or Kevin Durant, do fans get a discount when those stars do not play? Cavaliers played in Indiana Friay without James or Kyrie Irving-- just doesn't seem fair that a game like that would have a premium price on it.
7) Nine of the 14 SEC football coaches make $4M+ a year. Think about that.
6) Some jackass stole a NASCAR car/trailer out of a hotel parking lot in Atlanta; how exactly does the thief think they'll profit from that? Nitwit.
5) When a team has trouble getting the ball over halfcourt and calls timeout, the 10-second count should NOT re-set. Why should the defensive team be penalized when it forces its opponent to call a timeout?
4) It has been three years since a running back was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Curious to see if that changes at this year's Draft, which appears to be very thin at quarterback.
3) Cleveland Browns signed QB Josh McCown, who played for the 2-14 Bucs LY and from what you read, was pretty much the team's offensive coordinator as well as the starting QB after OC Jeff Tedford had heart problems and had to quit.
2) Cornell 57, Harvard 49-- Crimson and Yale are now tied for first in the Ivy, which doesn't have a conference tournament. Teams play next weekend in Cambridge.
1) Best wishes to Josh Hamilton, who faces the battle of his life daily, fighting an addiction to drugs that now risks his baseball career. He had a support system with the Rangers that he doesn't have now with Anaheim and he is facing a suspension for at least part of this coming season. Its a scary thing. .
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) Some quick thoughts on Bill Walton, basketball announcer.......
-- He is one of the greatest college basketball players ever, winning two national titles and losing in the national semi-finals the third year he played.
-- He had a bad stuttering problem as a young man, so his getting paid to talk now is an act of courage, something to be admired.
-- He is positive, upbeat and different; Lord knows ESPN needs someone as an analyst who isn't bland- they've gone that way with most of their recent hires.
-- He does not talk about the game all the time-- I guarantee you that you will learn something you did not know during a Walton broadcast; I cannot guarantee that it will have anything to do with basketball.
He prepares and works at it; Who else would tell you it was Vanna White's birthday or that the guy who wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest lives in Oregon?
-- He tends to be more reserved when he works UCLA home games, and he feeds off the game he is working-- he is way better on close, fast-paced games.
-- If you don't like him, hit the mute button, but we need more positive energy in this world, and Walton is a 6-foot-11 fountain of positive energy.
12) Idaho 92, Montana 87 OT-- Griz gagged away a road game, fell out of a tie for first in Big Sky, which means they're unlikely to host the Big Sky tournament- they could knock Eastern Washington out of first place Saturday. .
11) Green Bay's Kiefer Sykes went over the 2,000-point mark last night; his team has won 46 games (14 losses) the last two years. Not sure he has enough help for them to win the Horizon tourney next month, but he is one hell of a player.
10) Minnesota 96, Michigan State 90 OT-- Gophers won for the first time in last 15 tries in East Lansing, as Spartans gagged away a late lead with horrendous defense. Not sure why a team like Michigan State plays so much better on the road, but they do.
9) Vanderbilt 73, Tennessee 65-- Commodores shot 84% in second half, then one of its players taunted an opponent after the game, prompting Vandy coach Stallings to flip out on his player in a public/profane way, so in the end, everyone lost in this one.
8) If you bet the road team in all of Tennessee's SEC games, you'd be 14-1 against the spread, which just doesn't happen very much.
7) Utah 83, Arizona State 41-- Game was 41-9 at the half. 41 to freakin' 9. It is safe to assume the Utes weren't looking ahead to the Arizona game.
6) Albany Great Danes will be the top seed in the America East tourney; my alma mater won this tourney the last two years, as the #4/#5 seed. Now the pressure is on them to win as the top seed. Easier said than done.
5) My cousin Kevin went to St Francis NY, one of five original D-I teams that has never been in the NCAA tournament, but they've got a 4-game lead in the NEC and are a favorite to win the tournament. Terriers started out 0-5 in November, but they're rolling now at 21-9, winning their last nine games.
4) Look out for UCSB in the Big West tournament; they got star big man Williams back from a shoulder injury, have a sharp coach (also named Williams) and are gaining positive momentum as they head towards the tournament in Anaheim.
3) Murray State is 25-4, 15-0 in the OVC but it looks like they still have to win the OVC tournament to make the NCAAs; lot of pressure on the top seeds in these middle of the road or lower leagues- their season is a failure if they don't win the tournament.
2) Its funny that Terry Collins can't get fired by the Mets, despite no winning seasons in four tries; he got fired at his other two jobs (Angels/Astros) despite having winning seasons in five of those six years. Life is funny sometimes.
1) Mets hitting coach Kevin Long once played CF on a summer league team with Curt Schilling, who says Long was the fastest guy on the team. It is unclear why Bronx cut the well-regarded Long loose after last year, but he didn't have to move, seeing as the two taxpayer-funded baseball stadiums in NYC are eight miles apart.
Thursday's List of 13: Looking thru some college hoop stuff......
13) Big West-- Cal-Davis has a two-game lead over Irvine. Long Beach lost its last four games, is in middle of the pack. Riverside is a much-improved team.
12) Mountain West-- Down year in this league; San Diego State is far and away the best team, but they struggle to score. Not sure Boise or Colorado State will get into the NCAAs if they don't win the conference tournament.
11) MAC-- Central Michigan is 11-4, three other teams are 10-5. This conference tournament is always chaotic in Cleveland; this year will be no different.
10) MVC-- Wichita and Northern Iowa, Northern Iowa and Wichita. Anyone else winning conference tourney would be huge upset. Teams play Saturday in Wichita.
9) AAC-- SMU and Tulsa are tied at top, but Cincinnati's defense is a good as aoyone. UConn is damn good #6 seed, but league drops way off after that.
8) Atlantic 14-- Four teams are 11-4; two others are 9-6. VCU, Davidson look good for NCAAs; everyone else needs to win conference tourney.
Needs to be pointed out here how many conferences have wide-open races; other than Kentucky, Wisconsin and maybe Gonzaga, every team in the country has glaring flaws-- aren't many deep teams.
7) WCC-- Gonzaga is to this league what UNLV was to the Big West 25 years ago, in Tark the Shark's heydey. Bulldogs have a 4-game lead, but has this league prepared the Zags for the rigors of March Madness?
6) Pac-12-- Arizona is best team, but if Stanley Johnson has a rough night, who picks up the slack? Could be a two-bid league, with Wildcats and Utah.
5) SEC-- Three teams behind Kentucky all lost their last game, two of them at home. Florida has had a dismal season. Luckily spring football practice starts soon.
4) Big 14-- Purdue has been a pleasant surprise, so has Maryland, but Purdue also lost to Gardner-Webb and North Florida. Four teams are locks; Indiana/Illinois are bubblicious-- Purdue and Iowa are close to being in.
3) ACC-- Five teams are locks, but North Carolina is playing lousy and Duke damn near got beat at Virginia Tech last night. Virginia needs to get healthy, Louisville has no point guard and Notre Dame is soft on defense.
2) Big East-- Not sure what to make of this league. Villanova has a 3-game lead, but this is a league where everyone else has at least eight losses. Butler is a pleasant surprise. DePaul has improved, but they're still in sixth place.
1) Big X-- League is just too hard; Home teams are 50-26, 4th-best home win %age in country. Texas is in 8th place but is #21 nationally in KenPom rankings.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Lebron James has a 10-year old son, Lebron Jr. There is no need for ESPN to show this kid playing youth basketball-- let the kid be a kid.
Wayne Gretzky's son wound up playing pro baseball; neither one of Michael Jordan's sons wound up finishing their college hoop career. Its hard as hell having a dad who you can't possibly be as good as-- no need to put a 10-year old on national TV.
12) Now that the Red Sox have this Moncada kid, they have a lot more depth in their position players than they do on the mound; are they stockpiling players, hoping to pry Cole Hamels from Philly?
11) If my job depended on drafting the right QB this spring, I'd have two really big questions about Jameis Winston:
a) Does he really want to play football, or does he want to try baseball too?
b) His weight would be a concern to me; thats a red flag about his dedication.
10) In the entire 2014 season, Marcus Mariota took five snaps under center. Five. The rest were shotgun snaps. Oregon never huddles, so a 1st-round draft pick QB has to learn the basics of running an NFL huddle-- thats a big adjustment, on top of all the other things he has to learn, in addition to adjusting to the speed of the game.
9) September 4, Friday night of Labor Day weekend: Washington at Boise State, the return of former Boise coach Chris Petersen, who now runs the Huskies' program. No one who has left Boise State has equalled the success they had on the blue turf.
8) UCLA quietly hired former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, right after the recruiting period ended. This way, he gets to coach a season before he has to recruit and possibly answer questions about the Penn State debacle that he lived through. Good football coach, he will help Jim Mora Jr's team.
7) It bears repeating that Snoop Dawg and Jim Mora Sr will both be in the Rose Bowl next fall, cheering on their sons with the Bruins. ESPN has to get an interview with these two football dads, two of the most opposite people in the history of man.
6) If you care about such things, ACC home favorites of 5+ points are 14-26 against the spread this season, which shows that the league has no dominant team. Conference tournament in couple of weeks is going to be something.
5) Wyoming gets star forward Larry Nance Jr (mono) back tonight; doubt he is 100%, but they need anything they can get from him. Cowboys are on the bubble but stand a pretty good chance in a wide open Mountain West tourney. League is down this year. New Mexico won last three tourneys; they won't this year.
4) Guy named Scott Walker might win the Republican nomination for President, but he isn't a college graduate.
Fair question: Should the President of the US be a college graduate?
Last non-graduate candidate to win a major party nomination was Barry Goldwater in 1964; last president who wasn't a college graduate was Harry Truman, and he was a pretty damned good President.
One other question: Walker went to Marquette for a couple of years. Why did he leave? How does a college dropout become such a successful politician?
3) Alabama has a young man on its golf team: Davis Love IV. Think their golf booster club has some deep pockets? If I remember right, Davis Love III went to North Carolina and introduced Michael Jordan to golf.
2) By the way, I had never heard this before, but in order for a PGA golfer to get into the Hall of Fame, he either has to have won 15 PGA tournaments or two majors.
1) Watched a replay of the Florida-Missouri game. Sometimes, you see a team that will just be really happy when the season ends. That team is Florida; they're just awful, losing to a Missouri club that had lost 13 games in a row. Florida's point guard goes 1-8 on the foul line-- what college point guard goes 1-8 on the line?
They've given up on the season and appear anxious for it to be over.
Tuesday's List of 12; Ranking the months of the year.......
Keep in mind I live in the northeast, so weather is a factor in these rankings.......
12) January-- 31 days of potentially horrible weather. NFL playoffs help, college hoop helps, golf on TV helps, but if you live in upstate NY, January generally sucks.
11) February-- Same as January, except three days shorter and spring training starts, though the exhibition games belong to March. Since I'm retired now, Monday holidays in January/February don't help this rating anymore- every day is a holiday.
10) May-- NBA/NHL playoffs, baseball and better weather, not much else.
9) June-- US Open, NBA Finals, summer starts and if you're a kid or a teacher, school ends for the summer, but I'm not a kid or a teacher.
8) April-- Opening Day of baseball is special, college hoop Final Four, playoffs start in NBA/NHL, the Masters and winter is officially over. Plus I usually go to Las Vegas in April, though this year my trip is in March.
7) October-- World Series, football, some downtime in between baseball and basketball seasons. If you've never done Halloween in Las Vegas, its quite an experience.
6) March-- NCAA tournament is my favorite event of the year, but other than that and spring training baseball, March is a slightly better version of February.
5) August is a great month to live in upstate New York, lot of fun stuff going on and it is only the end of summer if you're a kid/teacher. Plus football season is approaching so there's lot of studying to be done, preferably outdoors by a pool.
4) July-- Horse racing in Saratoga, me in Las Vegas for couple weeks-- NBA Summer League, lot of AAU games, baseball's All-Star Game, the British Open, even start of NFL training camps. July is a very good month.
3) September-- Football starts, baseball pennant races, a very interesting month.
2) November-- Ton of activity; college hoop starts, college football winds down, NFL, NHL, NBA; when I was working, you also had two days off in there. Election Night is an underrated night of good live TV, if its an even-numbered year.
1) December-- Bowl games, college hoop, end of the NFL regular season, Christmas, New Year's Eve, hey its my birthday too!!! So what if it snows sometimes.....
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Louisville threw senior PG Chris Jones off the team for good Sunday, a day after he played 36:00 off the bench in their win over Miami; Jones missed the loss at Syracuse because he was suspended. Lot of drama in Louisville this winter.
12) Sunday was Julius Erving's 65th birthday; I remember getting into arguments with a friend of mine in high school; who was better, Erving or Rick Barry? I was on Barry's side; still think he was a highly underrated player.
11) There are lot of reasons why the San Antonio Spurs are really good, but team chemistry plays into it too; Saturday night Patty Mills was honored by St Mary's, and Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter were all there with him. Pretty cool to see them watching a college game, considering none of those three played college ball.
10) It is amazing to me to watch a NASCAR race and see how close 20-30 cars are driving together, all over 195 mph. Do those guys drive out on the street in real life? Do they get mad at some bad driver who changes lanes all the time?
9) Knicks were a 17-point home underdog to Cleveland Sunday; its really hard to be so bad that you're a 17-point home dog, but Cleveland had the spread covered before the first quarter was over. This Knick team is an epic disaster; the coach and GM make a combined $17M a year and they're this bad. Wow.
8) Possible big trouble for Oklahoma City, as Kevin Durant had "minor surgery" done on his foot. Minor surgery is generally "surgery somebody else has"; if Durent has to shut it down for rest of the season, its curtains for the Thunder this year.
7) Anyone have any theories on why so many NBA players are getting hurt? Are the sneakers not sturdy enough to protect guys' feet? Do players overtrain, stressing maximum performance over durability? Are players just getting softer?
6) Want to win a bar bet?. Sam Snead is the oldest golfer to win a PGA Tour event, at 52 years of age. Sunday was Vijay Singh's 52nd birthday; he was tied for the lead for a while in the final round of the LA Open, but he faded late.
5) Bad beat of the day: Central Florida (+7.5) loses to Memphis by 10 in OT; Knights had fought back from a 16-point first half deficit.
4) According to Mapquest, it is 1,474 miles from Storrs, CT to New Orleans, but somehow, UConn and Tulane are league rivals, even though neither one has a football program that is worth screwing over your basketball team for. Go figure.
3) If you bet the road team in every Tennessee conference game this season, you'd have 13 wins and one loss. Vols' next game is at Vanderbilt.
2) Golfer James Hahn is a nice guy; walking up the fairway in a driving rainstorm in Los Angeles Sunday, Hahn turned to the CBS cameraman behind him and offered to share his umbrella with the guy. Not everyone would do that.
1) JK Simmons won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor last night, but I missed it because, for some odd reason, that was the first award they gave out- I was watching the Michigan State game on another channel. Simmons has been on Law and Order for 15 years, has been in many commercials/movies and is a terrific actor.
Thankfully the Internet exists and I saw his speech a couple hours later. Seems like a fairly normal guy for a celebrity-- good for him.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Gonzaga 70, St Mary's 60-- Gaels gave Gonzaga their best shot- they were up 17 in the first half, but they couldn't close the deal- they'll be in the NIT. This was a real good game; St Mary's played as well as they could, still lost by 10.
12) Jameis Winston had a good day at the NFL Combine; now the Buccaneer brass has to decide if he is good enough to risk their jobs on.
11) Never thought I'd see the day when 70,205 people would pay to see a regular season NHL game outdoors in California, but they did in Santa Clara. Kings won their seventh game in a row, 2-1 over San Jose.
If you care about such things, the road team is 11-4 in outdoor NHL games.
10) I'm not fond of the phrase, "He's just a winner" because that implies that there are people who are born losers and I will never believe that.
9) First weekend in May should be interesting in Las Vegas; Kentucky Derby Day and the Meriwether-Pacquaio fight that night, with hockey/basketball playoff games, baseball and the NFL Draft going on, too. MGM Grand sold out in 15 minutes after the fight was officially announced as a go.
8) VMI 113, Western Carolina 111, 2 OTs-- Each team had a kid score 40+ points.
7) We used to teach high school kids when they were rebounding, to "Catch it, tuck it, swing it", pivoting with the ball to create space, and if you drilled a kid with an elbow to the head, so be it-- he'd move his head next time.
But America has become soft because of concussion lawsuits; elbows to the head are treated like felonies now and it changes how the game is taught. Rebounders can be hacked and they can't create space for themselves anymore.
6) Arizona 57, UCLA 47-- Wildcats didn't score in first 6:00 of either half; you just don't see that very much, especially with a double digit home favorite. UCLA is headed to the NIT with St Mary's.
5) Bill Vinovich reffed the Arizona game; if that name sounds familiar, he was also the referee at the Super Bowl.
4) If I had a vote for college basketball player of the year, I wouldn't vote for Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin; lot of TV types are pushing him for the award. I remember his game against Georgetown back in November; 1-8 from the floor, in a 68-65 win for the Badgers. Kaminsky is a very good player in a sport that has virtually no skilled big men, so he has a huge advantage there, but he is not the Player of the Year. He was 5-12 from the floor against Duke, not exactly Player oif the Year numbers.
3) Kentucky lost the national title game last year, but none of their five NCAA tourney wins were by more than seven points. When they won the title in 2012, none of their six NCAA tourney wins were by less than eight points.
2) Bad Beat of the Day: Drexel, +9.5-- Lost by 10 in overtime. Oy.
1) Joe Lunardi will be all over ESPN for the next three weeks, as Bracketology becomes the nation's sports focus. First four out, last four in, every win/loss causing a shift in people's fortunes. Lunardi is good at what he does, but ESPN treats his word as gospel, which it is not. Just remember that on Selection Sunday.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) I almost never watch the Academy Award show on TV, but this year is different; one of my favorite actors is up for Best Supporting Actor and he is expected to win.
JK Simmons is the psychiatrist on Law and Order, the guy on the Farmers Insurance commercials, the surgeon who couldn't save Winona Ryder in Autumn in New York, the manager of the Tigers in For the Love of Game, Kevin Costner's baseball movie. he is a great character actor and it will be cool to see it if he wins.
12) As I am typing this article, the Internet Explorer on my laptop won't work and it is causing great frustration. Anyone know how to fix this? At this point, I'm off to Best Buy to get a new one the next time it isn't snowing, which could be in May.
11) Turns out James Shields got offered $80M for five years by the Giants, but he turned it down and wound up signing with San Diego for five years, $75M.
10) Georgia RB Todd Gurley wouldn't let NFL doctors look at his post-operative knee, on advice from Dr James Andrews, who operated on it. This is very unusual for a kid not to let the NFL doctors look at him, but it is his decision.
9) With three games left in the regular season, the CAA has a 4-way tie for first; same thing happened it Conference USA last year. A team finished last year one game out of first place, but they were in fifth place and had a very tough first round game in the conference tournament.
8) 47.3% of challenges were overturned by replay last baseball season; thats a lot higher than I thought it would be- the system was better than expected.
7) They're going to build a 4-story driving range near the MGM Grand later this year; that will be tremendous, hitting golf balls on the Strip-- it will open next spring.
6) Actor Ben Stiller is a huge hoop fan and has Knicks tickets; his son was a ballboy for the NBA All-Star Game last week.
5) Albany-Hartford game on ESPNU Friday night had seven Australian kids playing in it. Not a lot of east coast schools recruit Australia; too far from home. They also said on the telecast that the biggest WalMart in America is in Albany, which is cool since I live here, I'm just not sure which one it is. There are a lot of WalMarts here.
4) When did Toronto become a basketball city? NBA All-Star Game is there next winter. Menawhile their beloved Maple Leafs are 4-22-2 in their last 28 games. Oy.
3) Jameis Winston has a bum shoulder; whoops. Bad time for a kid to find that out; maybe being a relief pitcher all spring after playing football wasn't such a great idea after all. Could cost him millions of dollars.
2) Ever since it came out that Dan Monson was getting a decent percentage of the guarantee money Long Beach State got for losing all those road games in December, his kids haven't played as well; not sure if there is a connection, but the 49ers' body language is terrible, they just play indifferently at times. It is one thing to play a tough schedule to get better, it is quite another to play tough games so the coach can line his pocket with the gate receipts.
1) Major league baseball games are nine minutes a game longer now than they were 20 years ago; why is this a problem? Most of those nine minutes result from increased commercial time in between innings, but those can't be eliminated. I don't see what the big deal is-- seems like a media-driven complaint.
Friday's List of 13: Thinking out loud with the weekend here......
13) First of all, best wishes to Giants' manager Bruce Bochy, who had a procedure to put two stents in to help his heart work better. Get well soon.
12) Clippers 119, Spurs 115-- DeAndre Jordan was 10-28 on the foul line in this game; he also grabbed 18 rebounds- he should try shooting free throws underhanded.
11) Ton of trades in the NBA at the trade deadline; Miami stepped out and got Goran Dragic from Phoenix. Pat Riley doesn't sit back and wait for stuff to happen.
10) There are rumors around that some college administrators want freshmen to be ineligible in football/basketball; this is as stupid as smart people can be.
You make basketball kids ineligible as freshmen and you're pushing them to go to Europe and get paid to play. Can't think of one way that that this is a good idea.
9) When a coach calls an early timeout, that should count as the first TV timeout; in one game last night, team called a timeout with 16:53 left in the half, then a minute later, there was a TV timeout. This makes no sense; the game loses its flow with so many stoppages. College basketball needs to reduce its timeouts.
8) You want scoring to go up in college basketball? Call fewer charges; rewarding an defender for flopping in front of a player driving to the basket cheapens the game.
7) Louisville re-instated point guard Chris Jones; whatever he did to get himself suspended for the Syracuse game is now over; they weren't very good without him. Wonder if they had beaten Syracuse would he have been re-instated?
6) Speaking of Syracuse, their PG last year was Tyler Ennis, who bolted to pro ball after one season in college. Ennis got traded to Milwaukee yesterday, as the reality of basketball as a business emerged. You wonder how many of these kids regret going to the pros earlier than they should.
5) MacKenzie Skapski is backup goalie for the Rangers while Henrik Lundqvist is hurt; Skapski grew up as a Canucks' fan-- he was born in Vancouver, the day after the Rangers beat the Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.
4) Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga is in the movie Million Dollar Arm; he plays the part of Popo. Watched part of the movie; it wasn't very good.
3) Louisiana Tech has a point guard named Speedy Smith; not only is he good, but Tech was the only D-I school to offer him a scholarship. Another school said he could come and try and be a walk-on. A D-II school in Florida offered him, also, but he is a damn good player and Tech might be an NCAA tourney Cinderella.
2) Racing cars in NASCAR don't have speedometers; guess it wouldn't help for a driver to know he is going 200 mph or so.
1) NBA players want fewer back/back games but they also wanted an 8-day All-Star break. Hard to have both of these things. I'm guessing they'd be happy with a 64-game regular season, but they wouldn't approve of a 22% salary reduction. Go figure.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter night........
13) Duke 92, North Carolina 90 OT-- Duke jumped out to a 13-point lead in first half, but then Tar Heels started dominating game inside and led by 10 with 3:20 to go. UNC couldn't finish Duke off, though and lost for 4th time in last five games. Mike Krzyzewski is now 41-38 against the Tar Heels.
12) Quote of the Day, part 2: "I don't feel comfortable with the situation. I don't trust them anymore." Goran Dragic, soon to be an ex-Phoenix Sun
NBA trading deadline is today; should be a decent amount of action.
11) Xavier 59, Cincinnati 57-- Intense inner-city rivalry goes Musketeers' way, with Xavier going 10-17 from the arc, offsetting a -9 (15-6) turnover ratio. Bearcats do not have enough offense to win when other team goes 9-17 from the arc, though they did rally back from a 36-24 halftime deficit and led with a minute to go.
10) Syracuse 69, Louisville 59-- It is February 19; any team that suspends its point guard at this point of the season, especially for non-academic reasons, has problems that might not be fixable. Louisville has now lost three of its last four games, and its point guard is currently suspended.
9) Arizona State 68, UCLA 66-- ASU retired James Harden's number 13 and might've also retired UCLA's chances of going to the NCAAs; Bruins have two Pac-12 road wins, at USC and Stanford- they also lost at Alabama.
8) Arizona State has a player named Bo Barnes; his dad Jake is in the Rodeo Hall of Fame. Rodeo performers are tough humans, for sure.
7) Boise State 53, UNLV 48-- Rebels are down to seven scholarship players and just aren't very good right now; this was Boise's first win at UNLV, not counting neutral court wins in the Mountain West tournament.
6) They dimmed the lights of the Las Vegas Strip for three minutes at 10:30 last night, to honor Jerry Tarkanian; this is something that doesn't happen often; it had been done for passing of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and George Burns.
5) The inmates are running the asylum in Manhattan, where Carmelo Anthony is done for the year, but not until he played 30 minutes in the All-Star Game Sunday. It should be noted that Anthony sat out regular season home games before the All-Star break, basically giving the finger to Knick ticket holders. He makes around $275,000 a game, would've been nice if he acted that mattered to him.
4) Davidson 65, George Washington 63-- Wildcats are 9-4 in their first season in the A-14, a huge step up from the Southern Conference. Big-time schools missed out by not hiring Bob McKillop as its coach, most notably St John's; he is excellent.
3) Northwestern 72, Minnesota 66-- Rough night for the Pitino family.
2) Iowa State 70, Oklahoma State 65-- Cyclones ended a 4-game road losing streak, as they outscored the Cowboys 9-0 over the last 2:27 to sweep OSU this season.
1) Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks leads the NHL in scoring; no American-born player has ever won the NHL scoring title. Ever.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) The #1 thing I learned Tuesday: Alex Rodriguez has excellent handwriting, as in, superior cursive writing skills that any parent would love to see their kid come home from school with. Seriously, there were people on Twitter talking about that instead of what he wrote, which I guess was part of the intent.
12) Louisville senior guard Chris Jones is suspended for tonight's game at Syracuse for off-court stuff. Jones plays 31 minutes a game and the suspension is said to be for more than one game, so this is a fairly big deal.
11) Why would a quarterback go to the NFL Combine and not throw footballs, unless he was hurt? What does it prove, other than hint that you're not as competitive person as a team would want its QB to be? It can't possibly help, can it?
10) Notre Dame 88, Wake Forest 75-- Wake's Devin Thomas had 26 in ths game, 24 against Duke, 31 against Louisville.....he also had no points in 28:00 vs Delaware State, 7 vs Nicholls State, 8 vs Bucknell. A very strange resume.
9) Atlantic 14 had five teams in NCAA tournament last March; four lost their first round game, but three of the five games went to OT, including St Joe's blowing a late lead and losing to eventual national champ UConn. Tournament is going to be that wide open again this year, especially if/when Kentucky goes down.
8) ESPN is using the score crawl on the bottom of the screen to promote tomorrow's televised games in addition to giving today's scores; cheesy at best.
7) The movie 50 Shades of Gray made over $90M last weekend; whether or not it is a good movie does not matter. It was profitable, so there will be a sequel.
6) Seton Hall suspended guard Sterling Gibbs two games for slugging a Villanova player while he was on the floor in Monday night's game- seems fair. Pirates' ship is sinking, in what started out as a promising season.
5) Oklahoma 71, Texas 69-- Longhorns are 3-5 in their last eight games, after starting season 14-4; they're forcing 4th-fewest turnovers of any team in America.
4) 16 of 40 guys on the A's 40-man roster were in other organizations last year; in less than a year, they turned over 40% of their roster, dumping six All-Stars.
3) Kentucky 66, Tennessee 48-- Karl-Anthony Towns took one shot in his 16 foul-plagued minutes and the Wildcats still won by 18, despite looking bored for a lot of this game. Looking more and more like the Wildcats will be unbeaten heading into the NCAA tournament. Would help them to get tested more than they have been.
2) Serious question: If Aaron Hernandez is acquitted at his trial, does the NFL have to re-instate him? Can you banish a guy who wasn't convicted of a crime? And if he is acquitted/re-instated, what team would have the onions to sign him?
1) Serious question #2: If you owned the Denver Broncos, are you asking Peyton Manning to take a pay cut to play next season?
Tuesday's List of 13: Some thoughts on basketball......
13) There are eight TV timeouts in college basketball games; each side gets five more timeouts. Do we need 18 timeouts (plus halftime) in every game? Any game? If each time got only two timeouts per game, the action would flow better, kids would play better and scoring would go up.
12) College hoop has a 0:10 rule for getting the ball over halfcourt, the NBA's rule is :08. I'm saying :07 should be the new rule. make teams jog the ball up court, be more aggressive on offense. This would help more than shortening the shot clock.
11) NBA playoff series are too long; you don't need best-of-7 series to determine the better team. Best-of-3 would be better, with Finals best-of-5. So what if higher seeds lost now and then? Little drama makes the event more interesting-- NCAA tourney is great entertainment and it is single elimination.
10) DirecTV needs to add the Pac-12 Network, they just do. Don't need multiple soccer channels, or three C-Spans, or foreign language channels. I need to see games on TV late at night. I'm willing to pay for it, even though I already pay enough, but at the end of the day, I'd like to tailor my own channel setup. Its not asking much.
9) NBA needs to set up a 64-player 1-on-1 tournament for the summer, to benefit whatever charities the players want to support. It would be great fun; they had one for two years in the 70's, but star players backed out. This would be a great event.
8) When ESPN started in the early 80's, one of the first college basketball leagues that let them televise games was the Sun Belt Conference; now they're ignored by ESPN. would be nice if the Sun Belt got a weekly game, even if it was on Sunday afternoon or late Saturday night or even Monday night. They earned it a long time ago.
7) College basketball needs to change the way the games are officiated. I'm deferring to Jeff Van Gundy on this: refs have to allow continuation on drives to the basket, the way the NBA does. This automatically raises scoring, without the game itself changing very much. I'm not big on college hoop becoming more like the NBA, but this is one way to make the game more attractive without changing very much.
What I'm saying is this: Tulane led Cincinnati 19-13 at the half Saturday. We do not need 19-13 halftime scores in basketball.
6) When UConn won the national championship last April, they become the first team since 1987 to win the national title when it was an underdog in its second round game; they were also only the fourth national champ since '87 that was favored in their first round game by less than 10 points.
5) Six of the last eight national champs were #1 seeds; UConn won the other two, as a #7 seed last year, as a #3 seed in 2011.
4) Favorites are 11-4 vs spread in the last fifteen national title games.
3) You may never have seen a Summit League game, but in the last ten years, Summit League games have led the country in best 3-point shooting percentage five times. This league is underrated; good offensive teams-- North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Oral Roberts and Denver runs the Princeton offense.
2) I'd be in favor of the NBA scaling back to a 64-game schedule to reduce the back-to-backs and number of times the best players sit out anyway. More practice time and less games would lead to higher quality of games; problem is, would the players agree to scale their salaries back by the 21.6% that the schedule would be reduced by?
1) Conference realignment has made a mockery of geography; the following series are now conference rivalries, its really hard to believe........
-- UConn-Southern Methodist, which is in Dallas.
-- Rutgers-Nebraska-- Rutgers is the state university of New Jersey.
-- UTEP-Marshall-- Long road trip from El Paso to West Virginia.
-- West Virginia-Texas Tech-- 1,505 miles from Morgantown to Lubbock.
Monday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a frigid night.......
13) Its so cold out the icicles hanging off my house put parkas on; wind chill as I type this is a chilly minus-26. Spring training starts in three days, so it'll be fun to watch exhibition baseball games, as long as the satellite dish doesn't freeze. Oy.
12) Wall Street Journal posted that an average NBA regular season game has 7.4 dunks in it; the average All-Star game has 34.2 dunks, which is why I don't watch it. I like to watch guys compete; thats not what an All-Star Game is. Would rather watch a bad college game than the All-Star Game; those guys are competing, at least.
11) Indiana 90, Minnesota 71-- Hoosiers made 18-32 from the arc; impressive.
10) Northwestern 66, Iowa 61-- Horrific loss for the Hawkeyes, losing to a team that had lost its previous ten games; TV people kept showing Doug Collins in the stands, agonizing with his son's team as they struggled. Good TV.
9) Miami-Boston College game was postponed by weather, will be played at 3:00 this afternoon, televised on ESPNU. Hurricanes have been struggling lately.
8) Hofstra 81, Drexel 57-- Dragons won five of last seven games, with both losses by big scores to Hofstra, which has struggled recently otherwise.
7) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Kevin Durant:
“You guys (reporters) really don't know shit. To be honest, man, I'm only here talking to y'all because I have to,. So I really don't care. Y'all not my friends. You're going to write what you want to write. You're going to love us one day and hate us the next. That's a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y'all.”.
6) Toronto's Kyle Lowry had a dunk in the All-Star Game; he was the only All-Star who hadn't dunked a ball this season.
5) UNLV is a disappointing 5-7 in the Mountain West and now Rashad Vaughn is done with a knee injury; their seven losses are by a total of 26 points. Tough year for the Rebels, but if Vaughn is healthy next year, they'll be back in NCAAs.
4) Penn State hoop coach Patrick Chambers flipped out this weekend over a lack of respect he feels his team gets from refs, because they're not a winning team like his rivals are. Its one of the many obstacles that comes with turning a perennial loser into a winner; once they start winning, Penn State will get more respect. Just the way it is.
3) NFL ref Gene Steratore also works bigtime college hoop games; he had the game at Michigan State Satuirday, one at Wisconsin yesterday. Lot of money in officiating, once you get to that lofty level. He has worked 41 hoop games this year, in addition to his NFL duties.
2) Then there is referee David Hall, who shows up on my TV almost every night. Hall has worked 78 games in 94 days. Not a bad second job.
1) You should follow former Dallas Cowboy executive Gil Brandt on Twitter; he is sharp and gives good tidbits, such as the first NBA All-Star Game was back in 1952 in Boston, and the preliminary was a high school game. That sounds better than all the hoopla you see now, more style than substance.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college basketball Saturday
13) Big West-- Cal-Davis leads by two games after Riverside upset Irvine. Long Beach was 0-2 this week; they look disinterested a lot at start of games. UCSB had 2-0 week, but they'll need star Williams (shoulder) in lineup to make noise in tournament.
12) Mountain West-- Down year here; San Diego State is 10-3 and leads league. New Mexico blew game at Nevada, bad sign for team that will be looking for their 4th MW tourney title in a row. UNLV lost star freshman Vaughn; they're screwed. Colorado State is now on bubble. This could be a one-bid league.
11) Mid-American-- Bowling Green is 9-3 with new coach Jans, after being 13-21 the last two years; Ball State (2-10) is only team that doesn't have 4+ MAC wins. Going to be lot of fun to watch MAC tourney. Kent needs Jimmy Hall to bunce back from having mono- they beat Toledo without him Friday.
10) Missouri Valley-- There's still Wichita and everyone else, but gap has narrowed this year. Northern Iowa is 12-1 in league, but Panthers haven't won an Arch Madness game since 2010. Anything other than a Wichita-UNI tourney final would be a shock. Wichita won tough game at Illinois State yesterday by 6.
9) AAC-- SMU-Tulsa-Temple in three way battle for top spot. Cincinnati lost home game to Tulane yesterday; game was 19-13 at half. UConn/Memphis are NIT teams. Kid at SMU hit a half-court shot on Game Day yesterday, won $18,000, second time in three weeks a kid nailed a halfcourt shot on national TV.
8) Atlantic 14-- Four teams are tied at top (9-3); VCU got injured star Graham back yesterday, won at fading GW. Nine of 14 teams in league are 6-6 or better, as bottom four teams have been pummeled (combined 9-38). There is so much parity this year in college ball; not many really good teams, ton of fragile teams.
7) WCC-- Gonzaga is like UNLV was in the Big West 25 years ago, dominating their league but uplifting other WCC programs like Pepperdine, Portland who have gotten better but not good enough to beat the Zags. St Mary's manages to stay #2, Alydar to Gonzaga's Affirmed.
6) Pac-12-- Arizona is much the best, but they're tied at top with Utah, which didn't play well in losses in Tucson/Westwood. UCLA is tough at home, soft on road. Cal is on the rise, winning five games in row after a dismal start. Washington fell off the cliff after throwing big man Robert Upshaw off the team.
5) SEC-- Kentucky is unbeaten but has been challenged. Arkansas/Ole Miss/LSU are next three best teams, everyone else is erratic as hell or just plain bad. Man, Florida is 12-13, 5-7 in SEC, terrible year for Gators-- five of their last seven games were decided by 1 or 2 points.
4) Big 14-- Wisconsin lost PG Jackson in loss at Rutgers, but is 7-0 since; they've got depth. Again, not lot of great teams here-- home teams are 58-27 SU, making it the #1 conference in America for home teams. Maryland is surprising 9-4 in its first year in conference; they won last two games by total of five points.
Denzel Valentine's shot with 0:02 left won game for Michigan State Saturday on Feb 14, otherwise known as.....Valentine's Day.
3) ACC-- NC State might be the best 15-11 team in the history of the world; they've beaten Duke/Louisville, lost to Wofford/Wake Forest. Erratic, typical of this season's quality of play. Virginia lost its best player Anderson; doubtful he'll be back for first weekend of NCAAs. Miami has slipped since its win at Syracuse.
2) Big East-- Villanova-Butler game last night was excellent ball; Bulldogs are back to where they were when they dominated Horizon League. Seton Hall has some internal problems, when a starting guard transfers in February, then the coach praises him up and down on his way out the door. Everyone else is typically erratic.
1) Big 12-- Kansas is going to win this league for 11th year in row, but Jayhawks did not win conference tourney two of last three years (they've won tourney in six of last nine years). Why is West Virginia in this league? Their shortest road trip is Iowa State; that has to take its toll over the course of a season.
Saturday's List of 13: Baseball's over/under win totals......
|2015 baseball over/under
|Red Sox-- 86
|White Sox-- 82
|Blue Jays-- 83.5
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) So Carmelo Anthony is going to play in the All-Star Game Sunday night, then he'll blow off the rest of the season and get his knee scoped; Anthony didn't play for the Knicks Monday or Wednesday, but a stupid exhibition game? He's all in.
Knicks are paying Anthony $22,458,000 this season, but don't seem to mind that he is more interested in the freakin' All-Star Game than regular season games. If he is hurt, then the knee should already have been taken care of, to ensure that he is ready for next season. If they're subtly tanking games, they should be embarrassed, because there is no one at the top of this draft who is that much of a difference maker.
Knicks are an awful team, 10-30 when Anthony plays, 0-13 when he does not. How did he get on the All-Star team to begin with? He has sat out 24.5% of their games.
12) College hoop will probably wind up with a 30-second shot clock, as opposed to the current 35-second clock. Don't think it'll make a big difference; I do think forcing teams to get the ball over halfcourt in 7 seconds instead of ten would prevent teams from walking the ball up and pick up the pace of action. NBA's rule right now is :08.
11) Rashad Vaughn, UNLV's best player, is probably done for the year after hurting his knee Tuesday night; he hurt the same knee in high school last year. Big blow for a Rebel team that had been playing a lot better the last five games.
10) Missouri hoop coach Kim Anderson was flying on a recruiting trip Wednesday night when one of the engines on his plane gave out and the plane had to make an emergency landing near St Louis. Thankfully, pilots landed the plane safely. Coaches fly a lot on small planes to make in-season recruiting trips.
9) Golfer Billy Horschel won $10M last year when he won the Fed Ex Cup; turns out he gave his caddy $1M of it, which is unusually generous.
8) John Daly is less than two years from going on the Senior Tour, where he should win a lot, seeing as he can still compete with the younger guys. Daly should help the Senior Tour; people still like to watch him play.
7) Golfer Padraig Harrington is a licensed accountant; wonder if he does other golfers' taxes? Harrington won the PGA in 2008 but hasn't won in America since.
6) PGA rookie Max Homa once won the pro-am part of a tourney on the Web.com Tour; his partner was actress Janet Jones Gretzky, wife of the Great One; she is not only really pretty, she loves to gamble. Its good to be the Great One.
5) As far as this Little League cheating stuff goes, I'll say this: kids from broken homes wind up with parents living in different places; they have a dad in one town, a mom in another, aunts/uncles/grandparents and sometimes there is a creative use of a relative's address, so the kid can go to school or play ball where he/she prefers.
4) I can think of two high school basketball scenarios around here where addresses were used creatively so that a kid could play ball where he wanted to. One was the dad living in a suburb, the mom in the city, but that one got quashed. The suburban school district actually had detectives watching where the kid went after school.
The other one was a dad using his business, renting an apartment, then using that apartment as his son's "address" so he could play basketball for a different school in a bordering town for a better coach. So the kid drove to School B every day, usually passing the athletic director from School A on his way. Nothing was done.
3) Not sure what Jesse Jackson is trying to prove by objecting to all this; the team from Chicago cheated, they got caught, but so what?
They still had the thrill of winning, that can't be taken away. The kids on other teams in the tournament got cheated and naming another team "champion" isn't going to make them any happier. The actual crime isn't cheating, it is getting caught.
2) Kid named Scott Meredith from Hargraves Military Academy made 18 of 24 from behind the arc Wednesday night; he scored 55 points-- he got fouled on one of the 3-point shots. His team won 131-80; not sure what the other team was doing.
1) Vermont made 16-21 from the arc as a team against Mass-Lowell the other night; even after that display, Catamounts are making only 35% from the arc this season.
Thursday's List of 13: RIP Coach Tark; a sad day in Vegas.....
13) RIP coach Jerry Tarkanian, one of the all-time great college hoop coaches, one of my heroes-- he died Wednesday at age 84. Tark is a rare example of a coach who put his school on the map-- no one knew much about UNLV before 1973. Now you can buy Rebel gear all over the country-- his Rebels made UNLV a national brand.
12) ESPN used to have a Big Monday tripleheader: Big East-Big 10-Big West and the Rebels were the headliner in the Big West the way Gonzaga is now in the WCC or Murray State is in the OVC. Even here in New York, my friends stayed up to watch that midnight game if the Rebels were playing, especially if it was against UCSB or New Mexico State, their two closest Big West pursuers. It was tremendous. .
11) Tark's UNLV teams played hard, played fast, were great fun to watch; picture the current VCU teams, only with better players, especially in the late 80's/1990, when UNLV jogged to its only national title, clubbing Duke in the national final.
10) But Tark learned its hard to fight City Hall; the NCAA pushed him out and he wound up in the NBA with the Spurs for a half a year; his first preseason game was here in Albany against the Knicks. It was a failed experiment and he left, winding up at his alma mater Fresno State for seven years.
9) Tark had a small role in Nick Nolte's basketball movie Blue Chips; he and a few other coaches were competing with Nolte's character on the recruiting trail. As they watched Penny Hardaway's character play, Tark shook his head and delivered one of the movie's funniest lines: "We couldn't get him in academically". Uh-huh.
8) Politics kept him out of the Hall of Fame until 2013, but he got in before he passed on, which is good. NCAA wound up writing him a check for $2.5M for the unlawful way they treated him and his team.
Jerry Tarkanian was one of a kind; RIP, coach.
7) Bill Raftery will be working his first Final Four on CBS next month, but he's worked the last 23 Final Fours on the radio. Somehow Grant Hill will also be on the telecast, as every Duke alum gets a shot at being a TV analyst or a head coach. Hill is brand new to TV work; he's not bad so far.
6) First NFL preseason game is August 9: Steelers-Vikings in Canton.
5) Tallest NHL team, on average? The Winnipeg Jets, whose average height is a little bit over 6-2, without skates. Just thought you'd like to know.
4) Seton Hall's hoop team took an unexpected hit when starting guard Jaren Sina left the program Wednesday; rumor has it the players don't get along very well.
3) DeAndre Jordan didn't make the West Conference All-Stars, a day after he put up 22 points and 27 rebounds in a game. Clipper coach Doc Rivers, who is a way better politician than a coach, spouted the predictable outrage, but Jordan will be better off in the second half with some rest instead of cavorting in the Big Apple all weekend.
2) If you look at last year's NFL results and then next year's opponents for each team, Steelers are playing the easiest group of opponents, the Falcons are playing the strongest group, but the NFL is fluid and so what we see now might not be what we see next fall. In fact, it probably won't turn out that way at all.
1) The father of Orlando Magic rookie guard Elfrid Payton is still second in career sacks in the history of the Canadian Football League.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Kentucky 71, LSU 69-- Outstanding game; LSU didn't have enough firepower, even after after a 21-2 run that erased a 13-point Kentucky lead. I get the feeling that Calipari wouldn't have minded taking a loss to relieve some pressure on his very young team. Winning the national title is all that matters.
12) Game was LSU's first sellout in six years, first in an SEC game since 2006; they have a program on the rise- their recrutiing class next year is outstanding. LSU guard Keith Hornsby, a 37% shooter from the arc, is the son of singer Bruce Hornsby.
11) Wisconsin 65, Nebraska 55-- Second game in a row, Cornhuskers had 13 points at halftime; they've taken a step back after LY's progress.
10) NBC suspended news anchor Brian Williams for six months, with no pay; what does a guy like that do to earn money now? He probably has some socked away since a guy in his position makes major bucks, but still, what does he do?
9) Meanwhile, Jon Stewart announced he will be leaving The Daily Show sometime in the next year, after 16 years there. He will be sorely missed; funny man.
8) John Daly's ex-wife is suing his current fiance for "alienation of affection", which is the Mississippi legal euphemism for "home wrecker".
7) Ralph Friedgen stepped down as Rutgers' offensive coordinator, meaning the Scarlet Knights will amazingly have their sixth offensive coordinator in six years next fall. Hard to have any continuity that way, but they manage to stay over .500.
6) Baseball America lists Notre Dame sharpshooter Pat Connaughton as the Orioles' #11 minor league prospect; he is supposedly a very good pitching prospect.
5) There will be four Atlanta Hawks in the NBA All-Star Game Sunday, which reminds me of last summer, when the A's had six guys in the All-Star Game, only to implode in the second half. Sometimes time off is useful keeping you mentally fresh; All-Star Game will provide a lot of attention those Hawks aren't used to getting and they're hoping their season goes deep into June, when the Finals are held.
4) There were rumors that Demarcus Cousins' agent was protesting the Kings hiring George Karl as head coach, so much so that Cousins made a statement saying he didn't mind if Karl was named coach. Sounds like a great organization.
3) Detroit Tigers got (fairly) good news; Victor Martinez had his knee scoped, will only miss 4-6 weeks, as opposed to months. Good news for the Armadillos too, my team in a 16-team keeper fantasy league that is going into its 11th year.
2) Guy on ESPN.com listed his top 200 fantasy league players, and I was happy to see that five of the top 32 are on my team, though none of them pitch. When you root for the A's, like I do, you can't get attached to players, because they come and go like there's a freakin' revolving door at the Oakland Coliseum.
Having a fantasy team allows you to root for a team where players leave only if I say so, which is more fun. I've said this before, the world would be a better place if I was allowed to make more decisions-- ha!!!!
1) Can you imagine what the media circus is going to be like next week when Alex Rodriguez reports to spring training in Florida???? It'll be a good day for anyone else to announce bad news, since it'll get buried in the paper by the ARod stuff.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Padres signed James Shields to a 4-year deal worth $72-76M; Shields has the most innings pitched (1,785.2) of any pitcher since 2007 (223+ IP a year).
12) Spurs 95, Pacers 93-- Gregg Popovich gets his 1,000th win as an NBA coach; San Antonio was down 14 points after the third quarter. How would you like to be the reporter who asked the sometimes-surly Popovich what 1,000 wins means to him?
Popovich is the ninth NBA coach with 1,000 wins; he has the second-best winning percentage of those nine. Only Phil Jackson's is better.
11) RIP, Mr Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films, who made the NFL a lot more fun for a lot of us. Miking players, coaches and putting highlights to music were strokes of genius that helped the NFL become as popular as it is.
10) Oklahoma 94, Iowa State 83-- Game was 46-all at half, an entertaining game to see; Cyclones are struggling away from home. Oklahoma has now won five in a row.
9) Oregon gave football coach Mark Helfrich a new contract for five years, $17.5M; he is 24-4 in two years, with a Rose Bowl win this season.
8) Helfrich's new QB in 2015 will be Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams, which will be interesting; Ducks open the '15 season against Eastern Washington.
7) Lousy day in sports talk radio; someone in New York sent Knicks' owner James Dolan a nasty e-mail telling him low lousy he is, Dolan sent the guy an angrier e-mail in reply and somehow it all became public. Not only were the NYC shows talking about it, the national media was too. Dolan's a billionaire; just hit the delete key.
6) Virginia Tech 65, Georgia Tech 63-- Hokies came from behind to win at the end, a game played with great enthusiasm but not tremendous skill. I'm watching this game and I'm like, "This is ACC basketball???" Football has damaged ACC hoop; too many teams, too many smallish crowds at the bottom of this league.
Serious question; where does Syracuse basketball go when Jim Boeheim retires? With probation looming and Boeheim over 70, it could happen sooner than later, but they're in the ACC because of football and the money it generates. The basketball fanbase is spoiled; the next coach has very big shoes to fill. It won't be easy.
5) Sacramento Kings stupidly fired coach Mike Malone when they were 11-13; now they're 18-32 and changing coaches again, with George Karl apparently headed to northern California. Owner must have a lot of money to spend.
4) Dan Haren has a $10M contract to pitch this season, and said he only wanted to play for a west coast team, but the Dodgers traded him to Miami anyway. Haren did not say much, but did you really think he'd pass up $10M to make 25-30 starts and travel first-class all summer while living half the time in South Beach? He'll be with the Marlins this season, no surprise to anyone. Miami might be pretty good.
3) Clippers 115, Mavericks 98-- DeAndre Jordan had 22 points, 27 rebounds with Blake Griffin sidelined. big win for LA, ending a losing skid before the All-Star break. It is very, very difficult to get 27 rebounds in any basketball game.
2) I'm not a big NASCAR fan but I like watching it now and then because its fun to watch pit crews do their work and the announcers are so enthusiastic and its amazing that cars drive so close to each other while going so fast without crashing all the time.
Plus, the start of NASCAR means one big thing to me: winter is almost over. The last couple weeks around have totally sucked weather-wise; 30 inches of snow, few more nights with temps below zero. Spring training and NASCAR need to start and soon..
1) It feels strange to follow a baseball off-season where the White Sox, Padres spent a lot more money than the Bronx Bombers. What the hell is going on out there????
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday......
13) RIP coach Dean Smith, who passed away at age 83 Saturday night; if you posted a Mt Rushmore of college basketballl coaches, John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith would definitely be on it- the fourth coach would be an interesting debate.
Rupp, Knight, Pitino, Donovan, Izzo, Calipari, Self? My choice would be Pitino.
12) Smith's 4-corner offense is one of the main reasons the shot clock was put into college basketball-- he was an innovator who put lot of coaches into the profession. George Karl, Larry Brown, Roy Williams, Buzz Peterson, Matt Doherty, Jeff Lebo, King Rice, Billy Cunningham, Doug Moe, Scott Cherry, John Kuester, all Tar Heels.
11) Lookalikes: pro golfer Paul Goydos and Lou Piniella.
10) Senior Tour golfer Rod Spittle (great name, by the way) finished three shots out of first place yesterday; he had a 10 on the par-5 6th hole. Cost him lot of money.
9) Blake Griffin has a staph infection in his elbow, is out for at least a couple weeks. Clippers had a rough week on the road; it ain't getting better with Griffin out.
8) Pelicans' star Anthony Davis sprained his shoulder on a nasty fall Saturday night, is doubtful for their game tonight with Utah.
7) Former Ravens' RB Jamal Lewis declared for bankruptcy; the Super Bowl ring he got from Raven owner Steve Bisciotti just sold for $50,820 at an auction.
6) Marv Albert's son Kenny is a very good announcer; he does his homework, asks his analysts good questions and makes broadcasts better, but you would never really notice him. Thats a good thing, by the way. Good play-by-play guys are like a point guard; they set their teammates up and make them better. Albert does that.
5) Utah State got good news this weekend; QB Chuckie Keeton who is a very good player but has been hurt a lot, got a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA so he'll be back next fall. Aggies went through four QBs last fall, still went 10-4.
4) Tony Romo's Pizza Hut commercial? Wasn't sure it was him until about fourth time I saw it. Not sure his face is well-known enough for him to be on it without a Cowboys' logo or his jersey on or something.
3) Oregon State 64, Washington 50-- Wayne Tinkle might be national Coach of the Year-- his Beavers are 16-7 after not being good for a long time. This is Tinkle's first year in Corvallis; he has some good recruits coming in next year.
2) Rhode Island 79, Richmond 74-- Danny Hurley's Rams are 16-5 and will be a fun team to follow during Championship Week.
1) Boise State 61, San Diego State 46-- Boise snapped 7-game losing streak against the Aztecs-- they're doing well despite losing Anthony Drmic, their best player for the season last month.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Pretty ironic that Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich is applauded for how his teams play and winning four titles while doing things the right way and all that, but this new trend of "recovery days", where star players often sit out one game of back/back nights, is something Popovich popularized with the Spurs.
How would you like to shell out major money to see a game, only to have the star of each team sit out because the teams played the night before? Happens all the time now-- maybe they should give discounts if the stars don't play. Ha!!!!
12) There will be 12 running backs just from the SEC alone at the NFL Combine.
11) Buffalo Bills signed Richie Incognito, who was banished from Miami after he was fingered in that bullying debacle; now he'll play the Dolphins twice a year. He did not play in the NFL this past season. When he was with the Rams, Incognito owned a car that had 31 TVs in it and I'm not kidding. 31 TVs.
10) Chris Paul got docked $25K for criticizing a rookie official, who is also a female; wonder if he would've gotten fined for criticizing a male rookie ref?
9) Virginia lost its best scorer Justin Anderson (broken hand) Saturday; he's getting operated on and is expected back in 4-6 weeks. Selection Sunday is five weeks from today. Tough luck for Tony Bennett's team.
8) Knicks TV analyst, former NBA star Walt Frazier said on air Saturday night he owns "around 125 suits". He must have a very large closet.
7) Noon tipoffs of college basketball games are for TV purposes only; its not normal to have a pregame meal at 8am, meaning you have to go to bed at midnight or so the night before. How many college students go to bed at midnight on Friday night? This leads to lot of lethargic first halves in those noon games.
6) Oak Hill Academy is a prep school in Virginia that is a basketball factory; its five starters this year will be playing next year for: Iowa-Ohio State-Purdue-Florida State and Missouri. Pretty good high school/prep school team.
5) PGA caddies are mad because the bibs they wear at tournaments have advertising on them that nets the PGA Tour a small fortune, but the caddies still have lousy health benefits. Shockingly, lawyers are now involved.
4) Every time I watch the movie Draft Day, I'm amused that Hodges from CSI plays the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs; unusual casting.
3) Saw a stat line I've never seen before; in Wednesday's 83-82 loss at Ohio U, the Akron Zips were 0-6 from the foul line for the game, and 18-36 from the 3-point arc. It makes no sense, but thats what happened.
2) Best wishes to Providence hoop coach Ed Cooley, who had trouble breathing at the Friars' game at Xavier; he spent the night in a Cincinnati hospital. He left the bench early in the second half and was taken to the hospital during the game.
1) Saturday, the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, Devils all lost, first time all five teams lost on the same day since 1986.
Saturday's List of 13: Looking at some college hoop info.....
13) Best 3-point shooting teams in country:
1) Cal-Davis 45.2% 2) Idaho 42.0% 3) Sacramento State 41.3%
Worst 3-point shooting teams in country:
351) Alcorn State 23.6% 350) Nevada 24.6% 349) Savannah State 25.7%
12) Best teams in country from foul line:
1) Ole Miss 79.9% 2) Illinois 79.7% 3) Quinnipiac 78.1%
Worst teams in country from foul line:
351) Nicholls St. 58.3% 350) Savannah St. 59.1% 349) South Carolina St. 59.2%
11) Teams with best eFG% on offense (3-pointers count as 1.5 FGs made)
1) Notre Dame 60.0% 2) Gonzaga 59.1% 3) Cal-Davis 58.9%
Teams with worst eFG% in country:
351) Grambling State 38.6% 350) Morgan State 39.1% 349) Alcorn State 39.8%
10) Teams that force turnovers on highest %age of possessions:
1) West Virginia 30.7% 2) Eastern Kentucky 27.5% 3) SF Austin 26.3%
Teams that turn the ball over the most on offense:
351) Central Arkansas 26.6%, 350) Grambling State 26.5% 349) Savannah State 26.1%
9) Teams that play fastest tempo games in country:
1) VMI 2) Coppin State 3) Neb-Omaha 4) Northwestern State
Teams that play slowest tempo games in country:
351) American 350) Virginia 349) Denver 348) Wyoming
8) Georgia Tech is 0-4 in ACC home games, but none of the four losses were by more than three points......underdogs are 8-1 vs spread in Syracuse's ACC games.
Next five notes refer to conference ratings.......
7) Fastest tempo games in the country, on average, happen in:
1) Southland 2) Southern 3) Northeast 4) Sun Belt
Slowest tempo games, on average, happen in:
32) Missouri Valley 31) WAC 30) Mountain West 29) Patriot
6) Best 3-point shooting conferences:
1) Big Sky 39.6% 2) Patriot 37.8% 3) Summit 37.2% 4) Big West 35.9%
Worst 3-point shooting conferences:
32) SWAC 30.6% 31) MEAC 31.3% 30) Sun Belt 32.4% 29) Atlantic 14 32.8%
5) Best foul shooting conferences:
1) Summit 72.8% 2) Atlantic Sun 72.3% 3) Big Sky 72.0% 4) Big South 71.9%
Worst foul shooting conferences:
32) MEAC 65.1% 31) AAC 66.0% 30) SWAC 66.5% 29) C-USA 66.7%
4) Conferences with highest percentage of close games:
1) Big East 33.3% 2) Patriot 32.7% 3) ACC 29.2% 4) WAC 28.6%
Conferences with lowest percentage of close games:
32) CAA 16.4% 31) Southland 17.2% 30) Horizon 18.2% 29) AAC 18.5%
3) Conferences with highest %age of wins by home team:
1) Big 14 (49-20) 2) Horizon (30-14) 3) Big X (32-15) 4) WAC (19-9)
Conferences with lowest %age of wins by home team:
32) Ivy (7-12) 31) American East (20-24) 30) SWAC (23-22) 29) MEAC (29-26)
2) Not sure why, but it has been 24 years since the winner at the Farmers Open golf tournament in LaJolla was won by a first-time PGA Tour winner.
1) Pelicans 116, Thunder 113-- Anthony Davis hit his first trey of season at buzzer to win it; he had 41 points. Westbrook had 48 for the Thunder; he had tied the game with three foul shots with 0:01.3 left. Davis is 3-24 for his career on the arc.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.......
13) Eldrick Woods was +2 on 3rd green (12th hole of his day) when his caddy picked up his ball marker and they went home; he has a bad back and withdrew, which forced Golf Channel announcers to actually watch other golfers play. I asked this last week, but how long does this go on before it stops being a story?
12) Woods now has three missed cuts and three WDs in his last eight tournaments, as reports circulate that he still owes his ex-wife $50M from their divorce settlement.
11) There is a golfer on the ladies tour named Brooke Pancake; tremendous name. If she did a radio talk show with former Giants' CB Elvis Patterson, they could call it "Pancake and Toast".
10) Starter at the Farmers' tournament this weekend in LaJolla is the dad of pro golfer Pat Perez, who has only one pro win, the '09 Bob Hope Classic. Perez played golf at Arizona State, where the coach (since 2011) is Phil Mickelson's brother Tim.
9) For the second time in the last four offseasons, Victor Martinez has screwed up his knee during a workout; why doesn't the guy just lay on his couch until he goes to spring training? One thing a fantasy baseball owner doesn't want to see in February is one his players' name in the paper. Almost always bad news.
This time at least, the injury isn't as bad as three years ago- he should be good to go sometime in April. He missed all of 2012 after two operations on the same knee.
8) UAB 80, Louisiana Tech 60-- Will be quite a story if Blazers get into NCAAs, in same academic year when school dropped its football program, which has caused lot of ill will within the UAB community. No matter what, Jarrod Haase has done a great job of reviving the program Gene Bartow started in 1978.
7) Of the 351 Division I basketball coaches, only two have a PhD degree; LaSalle's John Giannini and Brett Reed of Lehigh.
6) Cavaliers 105, Clippers 94-- Cleveland was up 32 after three quarters, sat their starters for rest of game; they've now won 12 games in a row and no one talks about them anymore. Maybe Doc Rivers shouldn't have given his guys Tuesday night off in Manhattan-- letting pro athletes loose in NYC is an invitation for too much fun.
5) Kansas State suspended two players, including leading scorer Marcus Foster; Bruce Weber has been doing a nice job with these Wildcats, but the margin of error for so many D-I teams is very thin, losing a guy like Foster could be a back-breaker.
4) ESPN named Rece Davis the new host of college football GameDay, a great move seeing as Davis is their best college football voice. Chris Fowler will still be on the Saturday night games; he was better on the pregame show than he is calling games.
3) Saw part of the football schedule next fall for Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas; its first six opponents come from five different states, with two from California. This is a high school program; their first game in August is going to be on ESPN.
2) Jim Harbaugh got himself a QB in Houston transfer John O'Korn, who was lot better as a freshman than a sophomore, when he lost his starting job halfway thru this past season. O'Korn will sit this year, play for Michigan in 2016-17.
1) Kam Chancellor played the Super Bowl with a torn MCL; Earl Thomas has a torn labrum, Richard Sherman's elbow might need Tommy John surgery. Football is a tough sport to play and thats a vast understatement.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) Syracuse pulled the plug on its postseason Wednesday, so we know two things:
a) They don't think they're good enough to make the NCAAs this year anyway
b) They're going on probation and are trying to use this year's tapping out to chop a year or two off the end of the sentence.
12) This changes the ACC tournament, which becomes a 14-team event, so we lose a game on Tuesday March 10; the ACC's #10 seed gets a bye they wouldn't have gotten had Syracuse been playing in the tournament.
11) Jim Boeheim is 70 years old and his program is going on probation; could the end be near? He'll be approaching his mid-70's by time Syracuse comes off probation. I wonder what former Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine thinks about all this?
10) Atlanta Falcons are in hot water for piping in artificial crowd noise when the other team had the ball, to screw up their signals in a domed stadium, where the noise has nowhere to go. It is my duty to inform you that Thomas Dimitroff, GM of the Falcons, worked for the Patriots before he came to work for the Falcons. Dimitroff was in Foxboro during the height of the Spygate years.
9) Why is it illegal for NFL teams to text the sidelines during games? Is this the case of having too many rules? Cleveland is in trouble for this one.
8) Phil Jackson was a supporting player for the Knicks, he was a Hall of Fame coach and so far, he is an awful team president. Those three jobs are all different; being really good at one of them doesn't mean you'll be any good at the others.
7) Handicapping is difficult; Indiana covered by a point Tuesday at Wisconsin, in a game where they made 13 of 24 from the arc, numbers that would normally signal an upset win, but they lost by 14. That tells me that Wisconsin would cover this game way more often than not, but it didn't happen Tuesday. Its a tough game to beat.
6) Memo to drivers in the Albany area: Putting your turn signal on doesn't give you the right to cut off drivers in other lanes. Its icy out there. Please be careful.
5) Kent State's Jimmy Hall has mono, is out for a while; he is averaging 15 ppg.
4) Oregon's star hooper Joseph Young is taking one class this semester, as he wraps up his education in Eugene-- sign language. Must be a quiet class.
3) Nets trainer Tim Walsh saved a man's life at practice earlier this week; scout had a heart attack and Walsh knew what to do and did it and the guy is going to be OK. It must be a good feeling going to sleep knowing you saved someone's life.
2) I did my taxes Wednesday; why on God's green earth do they ask you if you want to give $3 to the Presidential election funds? Seriously, I can think of 1,000 things I'd do with my money before I'd give it to a politician.
1) Cordell Broadus signed with UCLA, so the Snoop Dogg/Les Miles pairing will not happen, but Jim Mora Jr coaches the Bruins, so there is still hope for an ESPN Gameday interview with Snoop and Jim Mora Sr.-- that would be great TV.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Today is National Signing Day in college football; at 2:30, Cordell Broadus will announce his college choice-- he is Snoop Dogg's son. If the young man chooses to go to school at LSU (Odell Beckham Jr has to be helping LSU recruit WRs, right?), this would team Snoop Dogg and our man Les Miles as the unlikeliest of allies. Whoever is in charge of these things, please make this happen!!!!
12) ESPNU has 11 hours of coverage today, making this one of the few days of the entire year that I might be awake at 8am. Maybe.
11) The great Bill Raftery will team with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill in calling this year's Final Four. This is great news, because Raftery is awesome, but what a kick in the teeth to Clark Kellogg, the deposed #1 analyst who obviously isn't thought highly of by whomever is in charge. Haven't heard Hill enough yet to form an opinion. Seems like every single Duke alum is either a TV announcer or a head coach.
10) NBA All-Star break is longer this year; there are full schedules on Feb 11 and Feb 20, one game on the 12th and two on the 19th, so for 24 of the 30 teams, it is at least an eight-day break, almost twice as long as normal.
9) Unusual to see the Clippers' Jamal Crawford at the Celtic-Knick game; apparently the Clips stayed an extra night in NYC after losing to the Nets Monday- they play in Cleveland Thursday. Dangerous to let NBA players loose for an off-night in NYC, but Doc Rivers seems to do some things to make the season more enjoyable for his team. Not sure it helps them win more, but it probably makes them happier.
8) Crawford has curiously played for 17 head coaches in his 15-year career.
7) Syracuse 72, Virginia Tech 70-- ESPNU announcer, former Providence coach Tim Welsh was once a Syracuse assistant; when TV guys have neetings with coaches, do opposing coaches get paranoid about alliances between TV guys and the other team, like when the Redskins are on Monday Night Football and Jon Gruden's brother is coaching Washington? I know I would be.
Welsh spent a lot of the second half bitching about the refs, as Syracuse battled back from a double digit deficit, but he has taken up Jay Bilas' cause of scrutinizing the refs to the point of annoyance this season, not just in this game.
Virginia Tech gagged this game away, not getting a shot on their last two possessions in a game they led by 13 with 5:32 left.
6) Boise State 68, Utah State 63-- Broncos' first-ever win in Logan.
5) Browns' WR Josh Gordon caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards in 2013, but has had substance abuse issues and is now suspended for all of 2015, which is very sad. Young man should be having the time of his life, one of the best at his profession but he can't even play now. He shouldn't have to work a day in his life other than being a football player, but that seems unlikely now.
4) Why is Russell Wilson going to Texas Rangers' spring training? Whats the point? He is finally about to break the bank with the Seahawks and he feels the need to go play baseball? What if he blows his knee out? Then what? And why would Texas want him there? He is not that big a baseball prospect; he hit .229 in 93 minor league games in the Colorado system, in A ball.
3) The Caribbean Series is on TV, but it is on ESPN Desportes, which I don't have seeing as I....."no habla Espanol". These games should be on for everyone, even if we just see the games with graphics and no announcers- lot of people would watch. It is the dead of winter; baseball would be great to see, but what can you do?
2) Speaking of baseball on TV, SEC Network is going to have a lot of college baseball starting in a couple weeks, which is good news. Always weird to hear aluminum bats making contact with the ball on TV, but this is a good development.
1) Josh Hamilton is out 6-8 weeks after shoulder surgery; his signing hasn't gone well for the Angels- he's knocked in only 123 runs in 240 games with the Halos, after he knocked in 506 runs in 647 games with Texas.
Tuesday's List of 13: Random stuff on a frigid night.....
13) We had a foot of snow here in upstate New York the last 36 hours and as I type this is six below zero outside. Awesome. I'm not a big fan of winter.
12) Was Monday the easiest day ever to be a radio talk show host? Sit there, take calls about how dumb the Seahawks were, agree with everything that is said, play some commercials, collect your money and go home. Almost as easy as handing the ball to your best running back when you have the ball on the 1-ya-- oh, forget it.
Maybe critique some of the Super Bowl commercials too, but I'm not a commercial watcher, though I like the Harry Chapin song they played during one commercial.
11) Tigers' DH Victor Martinez was intentionally walked 28 times last year, most ever for a switch hitter. I'm hoping they bat Cespedes behind Victor this year.
10) Someone named Scott Walker is running for President. Apparently he is the governor of Wisconsin-- his Wikipedia page says he went to Marquette but makes no mention of him graduating from there. When was the last time a US President wasn't a college graduate? He had a 2.59 GPA when he left school.
9) Halftime score from Saturday: Temple 28, Tulane 8. Green Wave isn't a bad team either, but long road trips and day games in different time zones lead to bad games. If you score eight points in a half, it is time to roll the balls out and lets the kids run up and down rather than lose scoring less than 50 points.
8) Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins' son is a contributor as a freshman at Michigan; he wears his dad's number 24, but I guess they decided the kid would be better off not playing for his father. He would help Stanford, too.
7) Mets signed Lucas Duda to a $4.2M contract for this year, avoiding arbitration. If you were unsure whether this is a great country, that should clinch it for you.
6) Doc Rivers was complaining a little Monday about his team's current 8-game road trip, which was caused by the Grammys being at Staples Center Sunday night. Kings and Lakers are on long road trips too, but Kings' trip is only four games, the Lakers' only five. People that oiwn Staples own part of the Lakers/Kings, but they don't own any part of the Clippers.
5) Clippers led Brooklyn 96-87 with 1:40 left last night, but lost 102-100; games like this could haunt LA when the playoffs roll around, if they wind up playing a Game 7 on the road somewhere.
4) Nets have good uniforms, but also the simplest: just black-and-white, no third color but they're really nice. Apparently starting in March they're going to be wearing throwback uniforms to honor the old ABA Nets, red, white and blue.
3) Every time I see Chris Paul play, I am reminded of this story:
Paul was tight with his grandfather, who was a big Wake Forest fan, so he was happy when his grandson committed to play for the Deacons, but the grandfather passed away late in Paul's senior season in high school, way too early at age 61.
In Chris Paul's last high school home game, he scored 61 points, then when he was taken out of the game, he collapsed in uncontrollable grief as he walked to the bench. To this day, it is one of the most emotional scenes I've ever seen, anywhere.
2) Jermaine Kearse made one of the greatest catches in NFL history at a huge time in a Super Bowl, but now he is just a footnote in history. Hell, David Tyree wrote a book after his catch in a Super Bowl. Losing team doesn't write many books.
1) Five kids went to the Cal-Davis game Saturday dressed as bananas; they sat in the front row, got on TV a lot and rooted like hell for the Aggies, who rallied late to beat Cal Poly in overtime. Not many NBA fans dress up as bananas; thats one of the big differences between college and pro ball. College fans are more enthuisiastic.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a super Sunday......
Some of this info is coming off people I follow on Twitter, so thanks to them....
13) Darrell Bevell is Seattle's offensive coordinator; he played QB for Wisconsin in college, playing for Barry Alvarez, one of the most run-oriented coaches in the last 30 years. Bevell will now be forever known as the guy who lost a Super Bowl when he threw the ball from the 1-yard line when Seattle has Marshawn Lynch and a running QB, and a timeout in their pocket. Not only was it ill-advised, it didn't work.
By the way, when I say ill-advised, I mean stupid. Not only that, it didn't work. If it is stupid and it works, the guy is still a hero, but if it doesn't.....
12) Bevell is no idiot; he has been in the NFL since 2000, but you have to wonder if this will prevent him from getting a head coaching job. How do you sell to your fans "We just hired the guy who threw the ball on the 1 when he had Marshawn"?
11) Russell Wilson's interception was the first one thrown from the one-yard line by any QB in the NFL this season. Thats out of 111 dropbacks from the one.
10) It was only the third time all season the Seahawks dropped back to pass from the one-yard line. Thanks to KC Joyner for those last two nuggets.
9) Gene Steratore didn't ref the Super Bowl, but he did ref Wisconsin-Iowa and Michigan-Michigan State basketball games this weekend. Funny how NFL refs throw flags like madmen all season, but in the Super Bowl where TV ratings are a priority, they keep them stuffed in their pockets. Go figure.
8) Seattle WR Chris Matthews is the 4th receiver whose first NFL catch came in a Super Bowl; he spent part of this season working in a Foot Locker. Maybe the Jets should've signed Matthews from Foot Locker and not traded for Percy Harvin, saving a high draft pick in the process.
7) There is a disturbing program called Friday Night Tykes on the Esquire Network about youth football in Texas. I spent eight bizarre springs coaching Little League and it is not something I miss-- people get crazy where their kids are concerned.
6) Patriots have not scored a first quarter point in all six Brady/Belichick Super Bowls, but they won four of the six, with all six decided by 4 or less points.
5) In fairness to coach Bevell, Marshawn Lynch had five previous runs from the one-yard line this season and had scored only one touchdown, so there is that. Still think it was a dumb play call, but there was logic behind it, obviously.
4) Five of the seven WRs who caught a pass in this game were undrafted free agents. Maybe personnel guys are as important or more important than the coaches?
3) Seattle's Bruce Irvin got tossed for being an instigator in a scuffle after the Pats took a knee after the INT; he is the first player ever ejected from a Super Bowl.
2) Pete Carroll showed class by taking reposibility for the fateful play call, but it will be interesting to see going forward, which coaches leave and stay in Seattle. Dan Quinn will be going to Atlanta as head coach Tuesday; would be take Bevell with him? Would the Seahawks block Bevell from leaving?
1) At the end of the day, the NFL wins by having a memorable game cap a season where far too many off-field stories overshadowed the game on the field.
Sunday's List of 13: Finally it is Super Bowl Sunday.....
13) Lets get the unpleasant stuff out of the way first. If you read this space at all, you know that I'm a Ram fan and Kurt Warner was obviously one of my all-time favorite players, so I'm disappointed the voters bypassed him this year for the Hall of Fame, as well as Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, all ex-Rams.
12) Just to re-hash facts, which apparently aren't very important because it is hard to compare a QB to an offensive lineman, there have been 48 Super Bowls, which is 96 QBs: #1, #2, #3 on the Super Bowl passing yardage list is same person, the same guy who led the tying or go-ahead TD drives in the last 3:00 of all three games.
11) Steve Young got in in his first year of eligibiity; he had an 8-6 playoff record in the NFL, had a 3-16 record when he played for the woeful Bucs. He inherited a great team from Joe Montana and went 8-6 in playoff games. Kurt Warner played for two cruddy franchises and went 9-4 in playoff games. Yet Young got in on his first shot.
Enough about that, because I could go on for a while. Elsewhere......
10) Kid at Virginia won $18K by making a halfcourt shot during ESPN's GameDay.
9) VCU lost the heart of its defense, Briante Weber, who tore his MCL/ACL and is done for the season. Sad thing; tough way for a college career to end.
8) Why are there so many razor commercials on TV? Anyone?
7) Apparently Bill Walton called former President Richard Nixon "the prince of darkness": during the Colorado-UCLA game Saturday night. DirecTV doesn't carry the Pac-12 network, so I didn't hear this myself. Walton is tremendous on TV, but if he is going to go on political rants, will be interesting to see how long he lasts.
6) Cal Poly basketball coach Joe Callero is one of 16 children. Oklahoma City big guy Steven Adams is the youngest of 17 kids. Do familises this like live in a hotel? How do you remember all the kids' names?
5) Junior Seau will be the 12th USC Trojan to get inducted into Canton.
4) There was a furor on Twitter late Saturday night when it came out that an MVP vote was cast for Seahawk LB Bobby Wagner, who missed five games this year and is not close to being the MVP of anything.
Not Aaron Rodgers or JJ Watt, but Bobby Wagner. Oy.
It got even weirder when someone found out who voted for Wagner. Twitter got very quiet-- it was Tony Dungy. Not too many folks seemed anxious to rip him for it, but they did seem mystified by it.
3) If you live near a Sonic fast food place, they have half-price foot long hot dogs on Monday, to commemorate Groundhog Day, or KL Wheat's birthday.
2) Now Dan Rooney wants a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh. We're getting eight inches of snow here in upstate New York the next couple days. If the NFL keeps screwing around with cold weather Super Bowls, eventually they'll have a weather debacle on their hands- they narrowly missed one last year.
1) This is a weird time of year; its middle of the night and I'm watching live tennis, golf from the other side of the world. At least it is warm somewhere. Pitchers, catchers report in less than three weeks; spring is getting closer!!!
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) Green Bay Packers quietly fired its special teams coach, 12 days after they gave up a TD on a fake field goal and failed to recover an onside kick in Seattle.
12) Raptors 127, Nets 122 OT-- Brooklyn went 0-7 at home in January; this was an unusual regular season NBA game. Jarrett Jack played the whole game except for a 47-second rest. Nets seemed genuinely crushed when they lost.
11) NBA teams are 24-15-1 vs spread on last game of a 4+-game road trip.
10) Seahawks covered ten of last eleven times they were an underdog.
9) Buffalo 80, Kent State 55-- Bobby Hurley is the coach at Buffao because the AD at Buffalo is the son of the former Duke AD- they're brother/father of Michael White, the up-and-coming coach at Louisiana Tech.
8) When I was in college 35 years ago, Buffalo was a D-III program that played in a horribly small gym; on February 22, 1980, while everyone else in America watched the US Olympic hockey team beat the Russians in the Miracle on Ice, I was in the Buffalo gym, watching our college team lose a conference tournament game in four overtimes to the Bulls. In all four OTs, the team that won the tap played for the last shot, thats show basketball was before the shot clock.
7) So Bobby Hurley coaches Buffalo, he could very well be Coach K's replacement when that day comes, his brother coaches Rhode Island, Albany and Binghamton are also D-I when they had been D-III programs, and college seems like a long time ago, mostly because it was. Binghamton rarely even opened up both sides of its gym when we played there back then. Now they're D-I; go figure.
6) In their five Super Bowls together, the Brady/Belichick Patriots have scored zero points in the first quarter. Zero. None. Bupkus.
5) Golfer Jason Dufner lost a lot of weight, cut his cuirly hair short and I didn't come close to recognizing him on TV Friday. Hope he isn't sick.
4) Hawks 105, Trailblazers 99-- Atlanta has now won 18 games in a row and 32 of its last 34, but no one talks about them. Why is that?
3) Since 1991, this is the fifth Super Bowl where both #1 seeds faced each other; the NFC team won the first four.
2) Derrick Rose has a 13-year, $185M deal with adidas, which is why he cares as much about playing for Team USA as he does for the Bulls.
1) 15 years ago Friday the Rams beat Tennessee for their only Super Bowl title; 15 years later and Tennessee's coach that day is now the Rams' coach. Tonight,, they will announce who gets in the Hall of Fame this summer and I am hopeful that both Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace get in.
WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt will have to wait since there is a logjam of WRs who haven't gotten in yet. Warner and Pace? They deserve it.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Duke basically cut junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon Thursday, for unspecified reasons, but he is in good academic standing and he doesn't have a police rap sheet, so only thing left is that he wasn't being a good soldier about being a sub after he had started 50 games for the Blue Devils the last two seasons.
This from espn.com: "Last season the coaching staff talked to Sulaimon about his body language when things didn't go his way. He had specifically been called out for pouting and not celebrating his teammates while he was on the bench."
12) Suliamon is the first player ever banished by Duke in the Coach K era; lets face it, in this era, if you're a junior at Duke or Kentucky and not in the NBA, then you're a disappointment. Coaches fail to develop a kid, so they just purge him. Seems fair.
11) Jusr for the record, Suliamon was 4-5 from the arc, had 13 points in a win at Pitt 11 days ago, then he played 16 minutes at St John's, 12 at Notre Dame, fewest he has played this season. He has one year of college left, and is from Houston. Curious to see where he winds up.
10) One last Duke thing: If Jahlil Okafor is so great, why was he on the bench for most of the last 2:00 at Notre Dame? He is a defensive liability, thats why. Wonder if anyone would take the Sabonis kid first if he comes out for the draft in June? His dad was a great player over in Russia. Its a fair question.
9) Eventually, I think the NFL will go to an 18-game regular season with the Super Bowl being played the Sunday of Presidents' Day weekend.
8) Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham stays with the Cardinals, rather than jumping to the same job with the NFL's Raiders. Unusual decision.
7) So I'm watching Law and Order in the middle of the night this week and who shows up as a defense lawyer but Shirley Jones, who was the mom in The Partridge Family when I was a kid. She was a MILF before MILFs were a thing; Ms Jones is 80 and still married to Marty Ingalls, who was a funny guy but a terrible actor- he popularized the practice of famous actors doing voiceovers on commercials. .
6) How long will Eldrick Woods monopolize golf telecasts? How many times does he have miss the fairway or miss the cut before he is no longer a huge story? He was in 4th-to-last place at one point Thursday, yet they showed all of his shots-- why?
5) Ever hear of Branden Grace, Shane Lowry or Marc Leishman? Those are the three golfers directly ahead of Woods in the World Golf Rankings.
4) Must be a lot of money in collecting garbage, since Waste Management is the sponsor of this week's PGA Tour event in Phoenix.
3) Russell Wilson's grandfather was once president at Norfolk State University.
2) Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams is considering playing his last year of college ball at Oregon. Adams threw for 4,994 yards this past season for the I-AA Eagles, who lost to Washington 59-52, with Adams passing for 475 yards.
1) College hoop referee Brian O'Connell worked his 58th game of year last night in Cincinnati; he did 92 games last year- this will be 10th year in a row he's worked 70+ D-I games. Not a bad second job, huh?
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) NBA has a problem; their best players take too many games off. A new phrase is "recovery days" as in, they don't want their best guys playing back-to-back nights. When fans pay major money to see stars play, they're not going to be happy when the stars don't play. "Sprained wrist" is a poor excuse for Lebron James to sit out.
12) Watching Alabama play Tuesday night, they did a feature on the strength coach at Alabama, and how coach Anthony Grant approved of his players' "commitment to the weight room". How about a commitment to improving your skills with the ball?
Crimson Tide is turning ball over 22.4% of the time while playing the slowest tempo in the SEC. Four of their last five games were decided by two points. Little less time on the bench press, little more time in the gym. I'm just sayin'......
11) Wednesday will be a big day on ESPNU; National Signing Day for college football, with 11 hours (11 hours!!!) of coverage on ESPNU. National titles 3-5 years from now will in part be determined on Wednesday. Recruiting is an interesting subject.
10) Pete Carril's Princeton teams practiced different types of layups for eight minutes of every practice; you watch high Division I ball and guys struggle to finish plays around the rim. Its called skill development; you don't need a strength coach or a $1M weight room, but it helps you win a lot of games.
9) NBA teams who are playing at home for the second night in a row are only 3-10 against the spread this season.
8) CBS hired Frank Nobilo as its newest golf analyst, replacing Peter Oosterhuis, who retired. Nobilo has been working for the Golf Channel, is a good hire.
7) NFL head coaches in their second Super Bowl are 14-8.
6) North Carolina-Wake Forest will play non-conference football games in 2019 and 2021; both teams are in ACC, but in different divisions- they weren't scheduled to play each other in those years. Makes sense financially, if not artistically.
5) 49ers hired an offensive coordinator from within? How is Kaepernick supposed to be a better passer without better coaching?
4) Braves signed 25-year old Cuban OF Dian Toscano to a 4-year deal, on same day the White Sox designated Cuban OF Dayan Viciedo for assignment. Viciedo started a lot for the Pale Hose last season; curious to see where he winds up.
3) DePaul Blue Demons went 0-3 at a Christmas tournament in Hawai'i and looked dead; now they're 5-3 in the Big East and are showing life. Or maybe the Big East just isn't very good, thats possible too. .
2) Patriots have only one offensive player (Nate Solder) who was a first round draft pick; they've built their success via defense and shrewd trades.
1) Underrated storyline of this Super Bowl: when New England hired Belichick, they fired a coach who was 28-23 in Foxboro and who made the playoffs twice in three years and had an 8-8 season the third year. A coach named Pete Carroll.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Just heard an ESPN commercial with Chris Berman narrating and it dawned on me: I never, ever watch ESPN's pregame show, because I can't stand Berman. His act has grown very tired for me. I'd much rather watch the NFL Network pregame stuff.
12) NBA 3-point shooting contest could be tremendous February 14 in Brooklyn; Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, JJ Redick. Excellent competition.
11) If you put Pete Rose's being eligibile for the Hall of Fame up to a public vote, how much of the vote does Rose get? 60%? 70%? More? No way would he lose.
10) James Shields/Chris Young appear to be the best two starting pitchers who are still free agents. Spring training starts in three weeks; no one wants Shields?
9) Bill Vinovich is the Super Bowl ref; Patriots won four of last five times Vinovich reffed one of their games, Seattle is 7-1 last eight times he worked with them.
8) Another sign I watch too much TV: I have a tremendous urge to play cards with Kenny Rogers, thanks to that Geico commercial.
7) Bob Huggins coached Kansas State for one season, eight years ago; counting that year, K-State is 89-55 in conference games since then. In the five years before Huggins came to the Little Apple, K-State was 28-52. Frank Martin stayed in Manhattan after Huggins went to West Virginia. K-State is not an easy place to win at
6) Bill Haas won the Humana Challenge, jumped from 41st to 23rd in World Golf Ranking. Steve Wheatcroft had a top 10, jumped from #501 to #289.
5) Interesting article in LA Times this week about how some mid-major college hoop teams supplement their coach's income by giving him a percentage of the money they take in for playing non-conference guarantee games.
Long Beach State plays the hardest non-conference schedule in America; their coach Don Monson makes $800,000 a year, $280,000 of which comes from the $380,000 Long Beach took in from playing (losing) five guarantee games this fall.
Its a creative way of keeping a coach you like from bolting for more $$$ elsewhere.
4) Why do TV networks put reporters outside during horrible weather? A woman named Snow was outside in a pile of snow reporting Tuesday morning- it just doesn't seem smart. If the wind is 60 mph, I don't need to see some poor soul outside with a microphone trying like hell not to get blown off his/her feet.
3) Speaking of weather, while I froze my butt off shoveling snow Tuesday, it was 61 degrees in Billings, Montana. Go figure.
2) They opened the first White Castle (little square burgers) in Las Vegas, across the Strip from the Mirage. People were lined up down the sidewalk. I've only had them once, a long time ago; need some intel if they're worth having.
1) Marcus Mariota's brother predictably committed to play football at Oregon, but the young man is a defensive end, not a QB.
Tuesday's List of 13: Some of the many Super Bowl props.......
These are some of the many wagering options from a 43-page document that lists all of the Super Bowl prop bets for Sunday's game......
13) Will there be a score in the first 6:30 of the game?
12) Will there be a score in the last 2:00 of the first half?
Yes: -$250.......No -$210
11) Over/under totals for game on various thing.......
Sacks by both teams: 4.....field goals: 3.5.........punts: 8.5
10) Over/under on longest field goal made in game: 44.5
Over/under for longest touchdown play of game is also 44.5.
9) Over/under on total amount of yardage of made FG's: 111.5
Over/under on total amount of yardage of TDs scored: 78.5.
8) Will the largest lead of game be over or under 13.5 points?
Over: minus-$160............Under: plus-$140
7) Will there be a TD scored by special teams or either defense?
Yes: plus-$155.........No: minus-$175
6) Over/under totals for passing yardage by each QB:
Brady: 262.5 yards..............................Wilson: 225.5 yards
5) Over/under totals for longest completion by each QB:
Brady: 34.5 yards..............................Wilson: 37.5 yards
4) Over/under for points scored by each team: Patriots 24, Seattle 23.5
3) If you want to bet which starting QB will have more completions, Brady is favored by 6.5 completions.
If you want to bet which QB will pass for more yards, Brady is favored by 40.5.
2) Seattle is a 47.5-yard favorite in total rushing yards for each team.
1) Over/under of the jersey number of the player who scored the first TD:
over 29.5: minus-$130........under 29.5: plus-$110
Good luck Sunday; hope its a great day for you.....
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) Didn't watch Pro Bowl or the NHL All-Star Game; if you pick teams by having guys choose up sides, then its a farce and I'm not watching. There was good basketball on all day/night Sunday, plus the golf, so that was enough entertainment.
12) Remember the beginning of the TV show MASH, when helicopters are coming over the mountain as they run the credits? That was filmed at the golf course where they played the Humana Challenge this weekend, in La Quinta.
11) Notre Dame 81, NC State 78 OT-- This was an excellent game, with Wolfpack up 18 in first half, but Notre Dame has lot of guys hwo can score and they fought back and won this high-level game.
10) Snoop Dawg's son Cordell Broadus is a 4-star football recruit from Las Vegas; ESPN has a reality show about father/son running on Wednesday/Sundays. First two episodes weren't bad. Young Broadus is 6-3, listed as the #27 receiver in this recruiting class by some recruiting service online. Curious to see where he winds up.
Not sure if I mentioned this last week, but the high school coach in this show is now the head coach at UNLV. Tony Sanchez, who has the backing of the two guys who run UFC- their kids go to Bishop Gorman HS, which has amazing facilities for a high school. I'm told their weight room is better than most Division I weight rooms.
9) College football's Signing Day is February 4; Michigan has only eight signees, with Jim Harbaugh getting his first two this week, including a four-star quarterback from New Mexico who shunned Texas to play for the Wolverines.
8) You figure that with the scholarship limit at 85 and most freshmen red-shirting, that makes 17 the average recruiting class, right? Michigan needs to change a few kids' minds in order to avoid this recruiting class being a hinderance to future success.
7) Cal-Davis leads the country, making 43.9% of its 3-pointers; Central Michigan, Iona and Idaho are right behind them.
Nevada is last, making 23.2% of its 3-pointers.
6) Ole Miss leads the country, making 80% of its foul shots; Illinois, BYU, Albany (my alma mater) are the next three teams in line.
Savannah State is last, making 56.8% from the charity stripe.
5) Charleston is 1-7 in CAA with a new coach hired in September after the old coach was forced out for being verbally abusive. Cougars lost their last three games, all by exactly two points. Strange this is, Rick Barry's youngest son (he has a LOT of sons) is Charleston's best player and only a sophomore. Maybe Rick Barry should coach.
4) Marcus Mariota apparently hurt his shoulder in the national title game when an Ohio State lineman landed on him late in the game; now he says he might not throw at the NFL Combine, because the shoulder isn't 100%.
Lot of rumors that the Eagles will trade up for Mariota so he can play for Chip Kelly again, so does throwing at the Combine really matter?
3) Virginia 50, Virginia Tech 47- Cavaliers survived a comatose effort against an inferior opponent; their next three games: Duke-North Carolina-Louisville. They'll need to be a lot better in those games than they were Sunday.
2) Miami Heat's Hassan Whitehead blocked 12 shots Sunday, making him the first NBA player to block 10+ shots in 25 or less minutes since Manute Bol in 1989.
1) Maryland 68, Northwestern 67-- Wrong team won this game; Wildcats played better, even though they're obviously not the better team. Northwestern has now lost six games in a row, the last five all by 5 or less points or in OT- they're close.
Freshman Bryant McIntosh missed a huge foul shot in this game, but he is a keeper; if Chris Collins recruits a few more kids like him, Wildcats will get to the NCAAs for the first time ever in the very near future.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Eric Compton is tied for the lead at Humana Challenge golf tournament, which may not sound like much, except for one thing:
Eric Compton is working on his third heart; he's had two heart transplants.
12) I can watch WCC basketball games on my laptop for free, but the games get blacked out on my DirecTV, even though I have the college basketball package; this makes zero sense to me. At least I can see them, unlike the St Peter's games......
11) Just to clarify from Friday night, Klay Thompsin had an alley-oop dunk, a driving layup thru three defenders and two foul shots in his perfect third quarter. All the rest of his 37 points in that quarter came on jump shots, one of the greatest shooting exhibitions ever seen.
10) Oklahoma State played the noon game at Kansas State; their coach Trvais Ford got a technical foul 0:53 into the game and things went downhill from there in a 63-53 loss to the Wildcats in the Little Apple.
9) West Virginia 86, Texas Tech 85-- Would not want to ref a West Virginia game; they press like hell, they're not the best shooters, so there's always a ton of loose balls, ton of fouls to be called and coach Huggins tries like hell to intimidate the refs. Plus, the West Virginia mascot carries a musket.
This game had a wild ending, with seven points scored in the last ten seconds. Trent Johnson is doing a terrific job rebuilding TCU's program, but he wasn't at all happy with the refs when this game was done.
8) Kenpom.com lists their all-conference team for each league; their SEC first team is five Kentucky players and I'm not even sure if they all start.
7) Looks like Pistons guard Brandon Jennings tore his achilles tendon Saturday night, tough blow for a Detroit team that has won 12 of its last 16 games.
6) I wonder if Big East is happy they put all their basketball games on FOX Sports 1? Not having a presence on ESPN has to hurt their exposure some, right?
5) UTEP lost in overtime at Western Kentucky Thursday night; they went 0-17 from the arc, but sent the game to OT when a 3-point shooter was fouled and made two of three foul shots. Miners lost at Marshall last night; rough week for them.
4) Dan D'Antoni is the new coach at Marshall by the way, Mike's brother.
3) ESPN must make money on the X Games and Winter X Games or they wouldn't have them, but where are the people who are bad at those events? Some of that stuff looks pretty damn dangerous.
2) Do the Seahawks have any advantage in the Super Bowl because they play the Cardinals in this stadium every year?
1) In my opinion, it would be unfair to the Seahawks to suspend any Patriot for next week's Super Bowl; it would make it a no-lose situation for New England and a tainted win for Seattle. I'm thinking we won't see Bill Belichick in 2015.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) RIP Ernie Banks, Mr Cub. One of the first things I learned about baseball was that Ernie Banks played for the Cubs and he was really good, winning MVP in 1958-59 even though he played for bad teams. Banks was a cheerful guy known for saying "Lets play two!!!" no matter how dismal the weather or the Cubs' outlook.
Heaven is a more cheerful place today, with one more Cub fan. They're probably playing a doubleheader up there too. Mr Cub will play in both games.
12) Mike Krzyzewski will win his 1,000th game Sunday; he is definitely a great coach, but the next time someone calls him the best college basketball coach ever, say these two words to them:
Wooden won 10 national titles at UCLA, seven in a row, in an era where you had to win your league just to make the NCAA tournament. Its not close.
11) In today's impatient culture, Coach K might've gotten a little more grief early on than he did in the 80's, when his first eight Duke teams combined to go 111-106, after he had a losing record at West Point. Think how Herb Sendek got run out of NC State despite going to the NCAA tournament most years- the world has gone crazy.
10) Speaking of which, Manhattan College is in the Bronx, not Manhattan; LIU is in Brooklyn, not on Long Island. The Big East has teams in Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin-- to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, what the hell's going on out there?!?!?!
9) South Florida wanted to hire Manhattan coach Steve Masiello last spring, but his resume wasn't 100% accurate, so they passed on him and hired Orlando Antigua from Louisville's staff. Its going to be fascinating 3-4 years from now to see how this all works out, because Masiello will move on somewhere else, to see if USF should've said the hell with it and hired him anyway.
8) One last Manhattan note: The Jaspers' Director of Basketball Ops is the son of former Maryland great Len Elmore, who played center for Maryland in '74, maybe the best team ever that didn't make the NCAA tournament, losing in OT in the ACC finals to NC State, back when each league got only one team in the NCAAs.
7) Someone explain to me how Marcus Paige isn't one of the 25 finalists for the Wooden Award? Where would the Tar Heels be without his fine play?
6) SMU lost Keith Frazier (grades) for the year; Creighton loses its best shooter for the year, Isaiah Zierden (knee). Big blows for both ballclubs.
5) Golfer Ryan Palmer shot a 61 Friday and bogeyed two holes. Not bad.
4) Coastal Carolina's football field will be teal next year; good think they're never on TV, that would be hard to take for three hours. Boise State has a blue field, Eastern Washington has a red one; not sure this is a good idea.
3) Hawks 103, Thunder 93-- Atlanta has won 15 games in a row, 29 of last 31.
2) Mentioned this up above but it bears repeating: Klay Thompson put on one of the greatest shooting exhibitions in basketball history Friday night against the Kings, as in, ever. He scored 37 points in third quarter alone, without missing a shot, and I don't think he made a layup or a free throw in the period. An awesome display.
1) If you see Illinois play basketball in next couple weeks, root for Ryan Schmidt; the senior walk-on has been the Illini's student manager for the last three years, but has been given a uniform after injuries ravaged the Fighting Illini roster. Apparently the kid was a pretty good high school player but chose being a manager at Illinois over playing D-III ball. I put myself thru college as a student manager; those kids work hard, with no expectation of any accolades or glory. It would be very cool if he got some.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) There is an extremely fine line between winning and losing in the NFL; if you don't believe that, here are the scores of the five Super Bowls Belichick/Brady have been in with the Patriots....they could easily be 5-0, or 0-5.......
-- Patriots 20, Rams 17-- Not my favorite subject.
-- Patriots 32, Panthers 29-- John Fox got to Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme
-- Patriots 24, Eagles 21-- Andy Reid's only Super Bowl appearance
-- Giants 17, Patriots 14-- Only a cynic would point out this was after Spygate.
-- Giants 21, Patriots 17- Belichick is 11 games under .500 without Brady at QB.
12) Apparently there is an ugly legal battle going on in New Orleans, where 87-year old Saints owner Tom Benson wants to leave the Saints/Pelicans to his wife, while his grandchildren want the $2B package. Go figure.
Grandchildren are claiming the wife is a golddigger; this sounds somewhat similar to the Carroll Rosenbloom debacle in the late 70's, when he was going to sign the Rams over to his son, but mysteriously "drowned" before he could, so his former showgirl wife Georgia inherited the valuable franchise. Don't go swimming, Mr Benson!!!
11) A 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl goes for $4.5M; 15 years ago, the same commercial cost $2.3M.
10) Bronx Bomber radio announcer John Sterling lost everything he owned in an apartment building fire in New Jersey Wednesday; miraculously, no one died in the fire. I am told Sterling is a good guy; friend of mine's son used to work for him.
9) Philly 76er coach Brett Brown played point guard at Boston U for Rick Pitino, back in Pitino's first head coaching job. Bet he has some interesting stories.
8) NFL stiffed Gene Steratore out of reffing a Super Bowl again; why? Because he refs college basketball all winter? To me, he is the best referee in the league, but he has yet to work his first Super Bowl.
7) Central Michigan HEAD COACH Dan Enos quit to become offensive coordinator at Arkansas; he coached the Chippewas for five years. Could be he jumped before he got pushed, but thats a kick in the teeth for the MAC school.
6) Kobe Bryant has a torn rotator cuff, is probably done for the year. I'd make a lame joke about Bryant not being able to pitch this summer, but I'm above that.
5) Almost threw up my lunch when I saw that ESPN pays Stephen A Smith $3M+ a year to spout his verbal garbage five days a week; that means Skip Bayless makes that much, too. What a waste of money; professional jackasses.
4) Interesting story on the Interweb today about how Steve Wojciechowski turned down the Dayton job before he filled the Marquette opening. Not sure Marquette is that great a job; pro town, they won a national title in the last 40 years, so the fanbase feels entitled. Big East is an interesting study; Wojo's team does play hard.
3) 49ers hired Eric Mangini as defensive coordinator, Tony Sparano as TE coach, as they surround rookie head coach Tomsula with former head coaches.
2) Chicago Bears brought Adam Gase in to be offensive coordinator for John Fox; working with Jay Cutler won't be as fun as his last job in Denver was.
1) Apparently football coach Gary Anderson bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State after he couldn't get all his recruits admitted into Wisconsin the way he did when he was coach at Utah State, and how he will in Corvallis. Hard to win without a lot of good players and not all of them are Rhodes Scholars, simple as that.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) I don't want to talk a lot about Inflate-Gate, since I've been whining about the Rams losing to the Patriots in a Super Bowl for the last 13 years, but I will say this: Sean Payton got suspended for a year and cheating during games is worse than paying guys incentives (bounties) for doing their jobs well. I'm just saying.....
12) Why does the guy in the OxyClean commercials have to yell?
11) Jerry Jones donated $10.65M to the Arkansas Razorbacks' athletic department; he graduated from Arkansas fifty years ago. Wonder what it feels like to have $10M to donate to anything? JerryWorld is going to host the next Wrestlemania, by the way, as Jerry recoups some of that $10M.
10) I could never be Speaker of the House; how does that guy stay awake during the State of the Union address? Only possible way I could stay awake would be to check scores on my phone while the weasel politicians applauded endlessly, but that would look bad on TV, wouldn't it?
9) Pepperdine has an assistant basketball coach named John Impleman, who is the great-grandson of John Wooden. How do you slip that onto your resume?
8) Georgia football coach Mark Richt got a 25% raise to $4,000,000; his defensive coordinator will make $1.3M next year, Brian Schottenheimer will make $950,000 to be offensive coordinator. That ties Richt with Steve Spurrier for the 5th-highest salary in the 14-team SEC. College football is very big business.
7) Florida Gators were last SEC team that didn't have an indoor practice facility for football; now they will. What do teams in the south need an indoor facility for?
I was in the Tennessee weight room once in 2003; if I yelled at the top of my lungs, the person at the other end of the room probably wouldn't have heard me, thats how big it was. Lot of barbells.
6) There is a par 3 at the Qatar Open this week; if you get a hole-in-one, they give you a gift voucher.....for $155,000!!!! Pretty sweet gift voucher.
5) In parts of the Middle East, the weekend isn't Saturday-Sunday, its Friday-Saturday, so crowds for the last round of the Abu Dhabi tournament last week were a little smaller than second and third rounds. In Qatar this weekend, its a Wednesday-Saturday event, so they won't have that problem.
4) Forbes Magazine reports that 11 NBA teams are now worth $1B+, with the LA Lakers being worth the most.
3) TV ratings for Atlanta Hawks games are up 61% this season, proof that if you build it, they willl come, as long as you win the games you play in it. Think the TV networks are looking forward to an Atlanta-Golden State NBA Finals? It would be great basketball, but not a ratings grabber for the casual fan.
2) Pretty good reality show on ESPN, not sure how long its going to be on, but it is about Snoop Dawg and his son, who is a D-I prospect as a wide receiver. Think it is running on Wednesday/Sunday each week; the first episode was interesting, if you're into football. I know very little about Mr Snoop's (Calvin Broadus is his real name) music career, but he is definitely into football.
1) I just remembered that I'm spending the first weekend of the NCAA tournament in Las Vegas, in a hotel where there is a Steak 'n Shake and 24-hour bowling. Yes!!!!
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Instead of inferring that John Fox didn't have an intense desire to win, maybe John Elway just should've said, "I want to hire my friend as our coach." Gary Kubiak's son already worked for Denver in the scouting department last season; makes sense that his dad would follow right behind. Elway just had to get rid of Fox first.
12) In other football-related nepotism updates, Michigan hired Jay Harbaugh as its tight ends\/special teams coach; the 25-year old joins Kirk Ferentz' son at Iowa as the second head coach's son to be a full-time assistant in the Big 14.
Oh and Urban Meyer hired his daughter's boyfriend to be a grad assistant next season at Ohio State. Its not always what you know, its who you know!!!
11) Jets finally hired Chan Gailey as offensive coordinator; next question is: which QBs will he get to work with next season? If he can fix Geno Smith, the next question becomes: why the hell has he been out of work for two years?
10) Former Bills' coach Doug Marrone surfaced as offensive line coach in Jacksonville; Bills play in Jacksonville next year- that figures to be an interesting game.
9) Fan in Seattle turned down $20,000 for the ball that was caught for the winning TD in the Seahawks' OT win Sunday. Apparently the guy is jobless, has two kids and is headed to jail on February 2 on an undisclosed charge. Go figure.
8) Auburn QB Nick Marshall will try to make the NFL as a cornerback, which is where he started his college career, before transferring to Auburn and doing well as a QB. In this day and age, you'd think he'd try to be a QB.
7) Last two football things: Ravens hired Marc Trestman to replace Kubiak as their offensive coordinator; he will be Baltimore's fourth OC in four years.
6) Esquire Network has a TV show called Friday Night Tykes, about youth football in Texas. Interesting stuff; I'll let you judge for yourself.
Elsewhere in this wonderful world of ours.........
5) Houston Astros signed Colby Rasmus to play CF, the day after they traded Dexter Fowler to the Cubs. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow was in the Cardinal front office when St Louis drafted Rasmus. He's been a disappointment in the majors so far.
4) ESPN's Dino Gaudio thinks Kentucky is going to the NCAA tournament with no losses. Gaudio used to be coach at Wake Forest; he's gotten a lot better on TV, is one of their better analysts now.
3) My biggest problem with Kentucky is that they often seem bored against teams they don't respect-- they let Vanderbilt hang around last night, they let Ole Miss and the Aggies go to OT with them. You do that in March and an opponent gets hot behind the arc, all of a sudden your season is over. Happens all the time; its a big part of why March Madness is called March Madness. .
Think about it: UConn won a national title ten months ago-- they were down in overtime in their first round game against St Joe's. First round.
2) Gaudio told an interesting story last night; when Kevin Durant was at the NBA Combine, he bench pressed 185 pounds.......four whole times. Sometimes all the extra stuff they do at those events just does not matter. Playing well matters.
1) I've been retired from my day job for a month, am starting to compile a bucket list: added Hilton Coliseum to it last night. Would love to see an Iowa State home game; only down side is going to Iowa in January/February is playing weather roulette. May have to look into a November game next fall.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Radio talk shows are funny; the Packers blew a lead Sunday, so now every move they made during the game becomes the one that cost them the game. They should've done this, they should've done that. Every "Joe from Queens" knows better than the guy who makes $5M a year to coach the team. Amazing.
12) Tom Selleck turns 70 years old next week. I read this Sunday night and it jarred me; I instantly felt older. He did an episode of Magnum PI called "Forty", all about hitting middle age. Hard to believe that was thirty years ago.
11) Milwaukee traded pitcher Yovani Gallardo to Texas, fueling speculation they are going to sign free agent James Shields.
10) Kansas 85, Oklahoma 78-- Jayhawks led by 19 at half, Oklahoma went ahead late in game, but couldn't finish the job. Really good game. Oklahoma is one of those teams that could lose in the first round of the NCAAs but they could win a title, too.
9) 49ers are paying new coach Jim Tomsula $3.5M a year, less than four coaches in the Big 14, where Jim Harbaugh ($5M a year) now works. Niners are a top 5 team in revenue, but Tomsula is the 3rd-lowest paid head coach- this makes sense how?
8) Some of these nitwit owners might've read Moneyball; Billy Beane isn't a big believer in managers being paid huge money, he sees them more as middle managers. In the NFL though thats just not true at all. 49ers will learn that the hard way.
7) Clippers are 28-14; Knicks are 6-36. Mike Woodson is an assistant coach in LA now, after being run out of NY last year. Think he is happier now?
6) Max Scherzer's $210M contract will be paid out over 14 years, even though it is only a seven-year contract. Washington is a prohibitive favorite in the NL East.
5) Forgot to mention this, but over the weekend, South Dakota lost by 14 at South Dakota State as an 8-point underdog, but only before they took a 20-0 lead!!! How many times does a team fall behind 20-0, then rally to win by double figures?
4) I screwed up a stat yesterday about #1 seeds making the Super Bowl. Here is the right stuff: this is the third time in the last six years that both #1 seeds made it to the Super Bowl. Before the Saints-Colts Super Bowl, it had been 16 years since both #1's got to the Super Bowl.
3) Bleachers in Wrigley Field will be closed in April; ones in right field might not be open until Memorial Day, as they refurbish the ballpark. Going to be strange to see games in April with no fans in the outfield.
2) Lou Amundson started for the Knicks Monday; he is on his 10th NBA team in nine seasons. Amundson and Drew Gooden are the two active players who have both been on ten different teams. The record is 12 teams; Amundson has a shot.
1) Four different players have played for 12 NBA teams: Tony Massenberg, Chuckie Brown, Joe Smith and Jim Jackson. Smith and Jackson were high draft picks.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Seahawks 28, Packers 22 OT-- Green Bay had the ball and a 19-7 lead with 5:04 left. From that point on, Seattle ran 17 plays for 206 yards, scoring three TDs as they pulled a rabbit out of a hat and won the NFC title with this unlikely win. Seahawks' first TD scored on a freakin' fake FG after they had converted a 3rd-and-19.
Its going to be a longer, colder than usual winter in Wisconsin.
12) Green Bay kicked 18 and 19-yard FGs in the first quarter, meaning they had two drives that stalled inside the 3-yard line; lot of people are criticizing McCarthy for kicking those FGs instead of going for TDs, but he had a 19-7 lead and the ball in the last 5:00-- things that went on in the first quarter aren't why they lost this game.
11) Seahawks are first team since the '82 Jets to win a postseason game in which they turned the ball over five times. Teams had lost 45 consecutive playoff games in which they turned the ball over five times.
10) Patriots 45, Colts 7-- These teams play again next season; please TV gurus, keep it off national TV, so I don't have to watch this carnage again. New England won its last six games against Indy, scoring 42.3 ppg in last four. This was an awful game.
9) As I type this late at night (did you know its summer in Australia and quite warm there today?), Super Bowl line has both teams favored by a point in various sports books, while other have game pick 'em.
This will be third time in last five years Super Bowl spread was less than three points, when there hadn't been any such games in the decade before that.
8) NFC won four of last five Super Bowls, if that matters to you.
7) Pete Carroll went 28-23 as coach of the Patriots from 1997-99, making playoffs two of three years, going 8-8 the third year, but he got fired, so New England could hire......Bill Belichick. I know its the Super Bowl and you don't need extra motivation, but how sweet would it be for Carroll to keep the Pats title-less since 2004?
6) How is there no NBA team in Seattle? You look at the crowd support they get for the Seahawks, the Mariners draw well enough for a mediocre team. What does the NBA have against the city of Seattle?
Hey, there's other stuff going on........
5) Last night I mentioned Martin Kaymer jogging to an easy win in Abu Dhabi; he had a 10-stroke lead with 13 holes to play. He lost.
After going 47 holes without a bogey, Kaymer went +6 in one 8-hole stretch. .
4) Last week, Gary Kubiak issued a statement about how happy he was in Baltimore, helping John Harbaugh and the Ravens; then the Broncos lost and John Fox got fired. Now, Kubiak is the new coach of the Broncos. Go figure.
Baltimore at Denver would be a fun primetime game next season.
3) Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a 7-year contract, meaning they will probably be trading Jordan Zimmerman/Ian Desmond soon.
2) DePaul 71, St John's 67-- Blue Demons are 4-2 in Big East, after going 10-98 the previous six conference seasons. Not sure if DePaul is that much better or of the Big East is that much worse, but good for Oliver Purnell.
1) Major League Baseball is bizarre; they named Mets' owner Fred Wilpon head of baseball's finance committee; this is same guy who was in bed with Bernie Madoff and has been running the Mets like they were the Toledo Mud Hens ever since. Oy.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Duke 63, Louisville 52-- Blue Devils played zone, which almost never happens, but it might be going to happen lot more the rest of this season. Louisville was 4-25 on the arc, 14-36 inside it; they could use a shooter or two.
12) Kansas State 63, Baylor 61-- Bears have weird team- their best scorer, Taurean Price, doesn't start. K-State is temporarily atop the Big X at 4-1.
11) VCU 70, Duquesne 64-- Rams have won ten in row, are by far best team in A-14.
10) Notre Dame 75, Miami 70-- Nasty scheduling spot for Hurricanes, tough road game after they blasted Duke in Cameron- they're better than the Irish.
9) Having 14 of 15 teams in a basketball conference makes no sense; too many teams. The best leagues have home/home series, where rivalries can form. You play a team once a year in basketball, hard for that to grow into a serious rivalry.
8) Wyoming 70, Fresno State 65 3OT-- Game of the Day. Cowboys are 16-3 and might be best team in a down Mountain West.
7) I can't tolerate Dick Vitale's announcing anymore; he works from the same script most every game. He got wealthy and turned into an elitist, though the work he does for the V Foundation is outstanding. ESPN has done a poor job of cultivating its younger announcers- having Jay Bilas as its new #1 analyst is a bad idea.
6) St Mary's 82, BYU 77-- Randy Bennett has the Gaels challenging Gonzaga atop the WCC standings again. He's bringing in three more Australians next year, will have a total of six on next year's squad.
5) Golfer Martin Kaymer is jogging to an easy win in Abu Dhabi as I type this, but Charl Schwartzel has the prettiest caddy- his wife, who was forced into duty when Schwartzel's regular caddy couldn't get a visa in time for this week's tournament.
4) There is a basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA and there is a college Hall of Fame in Kansas City, which somehow hasn't inducted Jerry Tarkanian. Norm Stewart and Gene Keady are in it, but no Tark-- not a lot of credibility there. Tarkanian is in the Springfioeld Hall of Fame, as he should be.
3) ESPN amalyst Jay Williams referred to Duke as "we" on the air Saturday night; of the Dukies on TV and there are many, Williams is by far the worst of the lot. How they decided to put him on their Saturday morning show is beyond me.
2) Clemson 66, Syracuse 53-- Orangemen used two subs a total of seven minutes. If I ever do a list of the most overrated people in America, Jim Boeheim is sure to be on the list. Before Carmelo Anthony spent his seven months in Syracuse and won a national title, Boeheim was best known for his underwhelming NCAA appearances.
Now supposedly he is responsible for teaching Mike Krzyzewski the 2-3 zone, as if the Duke coach didn't know how it worked before he met Boeheim. Its the simplest thing in the damn world; the tricky part is recruiting the great athletes to play in it.
This game was 39-18 at halftime; how does an ACC team have this thin a bench? He lost two kids for the year to injuries, but still.....
1) Arizona 69, Utah 51-- Utes are supposed to give Arizona a run for their money in the Pac-12 this season; this game was the opposite of that.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.......
13) Curious that 49ers hired a head coach from wthin, then fired all other assistant coaches but one, longtime Niner player Tom Rathman. Biggest hire they have is a new offensive coordinator who will be charged with improving Kaepernick's passing.
12) Detroit Tigers already have just under $117M tied up in only six players:
Cabrera-Verlander-Sanchez-Martinez-Price-Kinsler. Pauroll is going to be very high; am guessing a few minimum salary guys make it.
11) UTEP wanted to play Kentucky next year in Maryland, to commemorate 50th anniversary of the famous 1966 title game the Miners won, but negotiuations broke down, probably because the Wildcats don't like playing games away from home, not even at neutral sites. Or maybe they don't like being reminded they lost that game. .
10) Larry Brown won the 1988 NCAA title with Kansas, bolted to the NBA right after, or right before the NCAA put the Jayhawks on probation. Brown was out of college coaching for 25 years, but now, before his SMU team even got to the NCAAs, the Mustangs appear headed to probation too.
SMU took a chance on a coach in his 70's with a checkered past and it looks like it is going to blow up in their face. Brown will just skip town and hide behind his North Carolina pedigree, but fact of the matter is, they should've known this was coming.
9) Every high school/college basketball player should watch D-League showcase on NBAtv this weekend; see how many really good college players are toiling in virtual obscurity now, getting paid but not that much. If some of these kids stayed in school another year, they could've refined their skills and had a better chance at making an NBA roster. Nothing wrong with having an education to fall back on, either.
8) Greedy bastard update: Haven't done one of these in a while, but gas is down to $2.49 a gallon at the station I go to; price actually dropped 20 cents in one day last week. For the first time in at least ten years, the Mobil station I go to had a cheaper price than the Sunoco station across the street. Sunoco station always keeps their price 2-5 cents lower than the Mobil station, but they got caught napping last week.
Gas was $3.69 a gallon almost all summer, so $2.49 is a pretty big drop. Good.
7) Giants gave Nori Aoki $4.7M for one year, good move by them; he has almost no power, but plays a good outfield and will be happier back in the National League. .
6) Peyton Manning's wife owns 5% of the Memphis Grizzlies. Seriously. In other Grizzlies news, turns out they have a "mental endurance coach". I need one of those.
5) Why is the Duke-Louisville game on at noon? Thought that would be the 9pm game to cap off a basketball Saturday.
4) ESPN is broadcasting about 45 college basketball games with their announcers not actually at the game, but in an ESPN studio in Connecticut, like they did with soccer games overseas. Cost cutting measures they say; they don't make enough money?
3) "If I were you, I wouldn't come here." Thats what Jim Boeheim told a young Mark Jackson on his recruiting visit almost 30 years ago. Syracuse had Pearl Washington, so point guard was spoken for and kids strayed in school longer back then, so Jackson went to St John's, where things worked out pretty darn well for him.
2) Rory McIlroy has ten holes-in-one, but got his first in a pro tournament Friday on the 15th hole at Abu Dhabi. Must be fun being that good at something.
1) Pretty cool time of year for me, since I stay up very late writing all this; golf from Abu Dhabi, tennis from Australia, Lot of live events to amuse me while I write.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Good high school basketball event in Springfield, MA this weekend; 14 games with teams from all over the country. Games Monday will all be on ESPNU. Who is paying the freight for all these teams to fly to Massachusetts? It ain't cheap.
12) Washington Redskins hired Bill Callahan as offensive line coach; he had the title of offensive coordinator in Dallas, but thats all it was obviously, a title. Callahan is a good get for Jay Gruden and the Redskins.
11) Two of Rex Ryan's new assistants in Buffalo have famous names; Tony Sparano Jr and Bobby April III, sons of longtime NFL coaches. Don't forget, Rex Ryan is the son of a longtime NFL coach too.
10) 2016 All-Star Game is in San Diego, giving NL the mid-summer classic two years in a row, which is unusual. Going to San Diego is always good, but the HR Derby in Petco Park won't be great-- too big. HR Derby in Cincinnati this July will be very good. Smaller parks make for better home run derbies.
9) A's general manager Billy Beane has made nine trades with nine different teams since Thanksgiving weekend; when Oakland takes the field April 6, only two of their nine hitters will be guys who were on the A's last season.
8) Gonzaga's basketball game at Pepperdine was delayed for 33 minutes after the Zags' team bus got stuck in freeway traffic and got to the gym only 25 minutes before the scheduled gametime. Gonzaga was 14-33 from the foul line in this game; I'm sure they are just glad to get out with a win and get ready for LMU Saturday.
7) How long will Gonzaga big guy Domantas Sabonis stay in Spokane? He is highly skilled, the son of a great player. Young Sabonis will be a high draft pick whenever he decides to go pro. American big kids generally leave school too early-- is there anyone who remembers the Bradley kid, Patrick O'Bryant? He got the Braves to the Sweet 16, went pro and then his career withered and died. That happens too much.
6) Gonzaga was 14 for 33 on foul line last night; Duquesne was 13-34 in a 78-69 loss at Saint Louis Wednesday; how does a team full of kids on basketball scholarships do so poorly on the foul line? I am 55 years old sitting here in sweats watching CSI reruns and I could drive to a gym in ten minutes and make half my foul shots. Oy.
5) North Carolina's last three games were decided by a total of four points; Tar Heels are a good team but a weird one, they're thin in the backcourt in an era when guards are dominating the game. Marcus Paige might be the MVP of college hoop this year.
4) I love my IPhone6, but the whole autocorrect thing bothers me; I'd rather fix my own mistakes than have the phone invent words for me. .
3) May 23 the White Sox will retire Paul Konerko's number 14.
2) Ohio State QB Cardale Jones will stay at Ohio State, which makes sense; he has made three starts in college, no way is he ready for the NFL. Matt Cassel is the one guy who got drafted into the NFL without ever starting a college game-- he backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC, but he is an unusual case.
1) I saw Austin Rivers play AAU ball in Florida the summer before his 10th grade year; he played for team sponsored by Amare Stoudamire (Team STAT). Doc Rivers sat in first row at half court at Poinciana HS that day and gave advice quietly when he could-- now he'll get paid to give his son advice, as the Clippers traded for his son.
They will be the first father/son coach/player combo in NBA history.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day.......
13) Duke is struggling on defense, but fact of matter is that NC State/Miami went a combined 20-36 from the arc- most teams can't do that in an empty gym. Duke is also always young now, much like Kentucky; hard to develop good chemistry that way.
12) Las Vegas sportsbooks are concerned that if both NFL favorites win Sunday, they'll get buried by gamblers who pair the favorites in teaser bets. No one is giving the Packers a chance in hell of winning- they're 1-4 on artificial turf this season.
11) Grand Salami bet is an over/under on the total number of goals scored in NHL each night; so far this season, over is 54-36-1 on the Grand Salami.
10) NFL coaching news:
Jack Del Rio goes to Oakland, 49ers hire Jim Tomsula from within. Not sure what means for Doug Marrone or Adam Gase, who were both expected to get hired by teams looking for the next great coach.
Buffalo has to pay Marrone $4M no matter what, so no sympathy for him.
9) Should be noted here that Del Rio was once a catcher on USC's baseball team, when one of the pitchers was a tall first baseman named Mark McGwire.
8) Syracuse beat Wake Forest in OT Tuesday, but their bench played a total of 26:00; four of their starters played 42+ minutes. They're going to wear down over the next two months and they're not going to last long in March.
7) Hawks 105, Celtics 91-- Atlanta has won ten games in a row, is 31-8.
6) I talked yesterday about A's trading for SS Yunel Escobar; forget what I said, he's been traded to Washington for Tyler Clippard, which could signal that the Nats are about to trade Ian Desmond, maybe to the Mets.
No matter what, we can always say the A's went unbeaten while they had Escobar.
5) Golfer Chris Kirk shot 62 in Kapalua Monday, got drug tested Wednesday. I'm guessing he passed, since no news is generally good news.
4) Why is the Venezuela Winter League not on TV? People freezing in the north and northeast would definitely be up for some January baseball.
3) Marcus Mariota declared for the NFL, to the surprise to almost no one. The big question is how good Mariota will be in pro football. Radio host Sean Salisbury says college kids who do nothing but takes snaps out of the shotgun are less likely to be good pros. Salisbury played in the NFL, so he should know.
2) You watch UNLV's hoop team and you wonder how they would be had Khem Birch stayed in school; he is averaging 13.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 2.23 blocks, playing in the D-League. Sure he is getting paid now, but how much? Maybe staying in school and getting drafted in the top half of the first round would've been more lucrative in the long run. Kids don't often think of the long run.
1) First e-mail came about 45 minutes after Ohio State beat Oregon Monday night; collectibles, all sorts of Buckeye memorabilia for sale, including a helmet signed by Urban Meyer for a mere $130. College sports is indeed very big business.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Duke lost consecutive regular season games for first time in six years, and they go to Louisville Saturday. Young teams are going to struggle at some point. Kentucky played consecutive OT games with mid-level SEC teams. Its just inevitable when you go up against older players.
12) Mikhail Prokhorov is selling the Brooklyn Nets, as the Donald Sterling fiasco has had unintended consequences-- owners see how much they can get for their teams, so they jump ship for a big profit. First the Hawks, now the Nets.
11) According to baseballguys.com's Ray Flowers, 694 pitchers threw at least one pitch last year; 139 of them (20.8%) have had Tommy John surgery.
10) NFL coaching stuff: Jets hired Todd Bowles as head coach, Jason Garrett got a five-year extension in Dallas and John Fox is unemployed despite going 48-19 and winning four division titles in a row. I mention it every day because it is disappointing that the world is so bizarre that a guy who is 48-19 would get fired.
9) Dating Tip of the Day: Generally its a terrible idea to take dating advice from me, but this much I know: "You should always try and avoid dating trained/paid killers." Don't believe me? Ask NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who claims his ex-girlfriend was a trained killer, much like Chuck Barris in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Oy.
8) Last three ACC tournament champs: Florida State-Miami-Virginia. No Duke or North Carolina, though one of those two lost all three finals. Surprising fact.
7) In the Pac-12, the lower-seeded team won the last six Pac-12 tourney finals, so that will be an interesting fact to remember come March.
6) Suns 107, Cavaliers 100-- Cleveland is now 19-20. No bueno. How long do they wait before they pull the plug on the coach and bring Mike Brown back (again)?
5) Pirates are giving Korean SS Jing-Ho Kung $16M for four years. Last year, A's signed a Japanese shortstop for decent money and I still haven't seen him play. Lot of artificial turf in Japan; need a better throwing arm and better bat on grass fields.
4) Speaking of which, A's tried to trade for Yunel Escobar in July when Jed Lowrie was hurt and team was sinking; Escobar vetoed the deal. Now A's traded for him and his agent said Escobar is good with the trade-- not sure why he vetoed the trade last summer but was good with it now. Maybe because Joe Maddon went to Chicago.
3) There is a new TV program on WGN about a family that owns a funeral parlor and also dabbles in professional wrestling. Seriously. Wrestling with Death- no way could I make stuff like this up. Real life is much stranger than fiction.
2) Big East has teams in Indianapolis, Omaha, Chicago and Milwaukee, as kids all over America struggle with Geography. I wonder why? UConn and Tulsa are in the same league, as are West Virginia and six schools in OklahomaTexas. Yikes.
1) Odds and ends for Hump Day
-- Odd Fact of the Day: Rex Ryan roots for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
-- I'm afraid the vultures could be circling over UNLV hoop coach Dave Rice soon.
-- Why did Ohio State run the score up in the last minute against Oregon?
-- Islanders shut the Rangers out in Madison Square Garden for first time since 1975.
-- Georgia's best shot blocker is out tonight after getting hit by a car. Colorado State's center Avila is suspended for tonight's game.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Ohio State 42, Oregon 20-- Not Mark Helfrich's finest moment; eschewed an easy FG when down 14-7, punted when down 35-20 with 7:00 left and never went for two after a TD, which Oregon does in most games. Buckeyes ran ball for 296 yards, threw for 242 more, winning by three TDs despite a -3 turnover ratio.
12) Cardale Jones has started three college games, won 'em all as an underdog; scout on Twitter said Monday night that he would be the 4th QB drafted if he comes out of school, which apparently he will not. Ohio State has two other QBs returning-- which one(s) are going to transfer? At least one of them will.
11) 85,589 fans witnessed this event in JerryWorld; not sure how long before this turns into an 8-team playoff, but I'm guessing it won't be long.
10) Urban Meyer is obviously a great coach, but he lasted six years at Florida, after two years each at Bowling Green/Utah; this was his third year at Ohio State. It is not outrageous to suggest that by time Jim Harbaugh gets Michigan rolling, Meyer will have moved on from Columbus. Expectations for Ohio State will now be through the roof, which generally is bad for coaches' blood pressure.
9) Whats the over/under on time Meyer spends enjoying this championship? Is he in the office Tuesday morning at 8am making recruiting calls? Signing Day is in three weeks; after all. Football recruiting pauses only during the games.
8) One more Helfrich note: at $2M a year, Helfrich is now the lowest-paid coach in the Pac-12. You'd think he's due for a raise, no?
7) DeMarco Murray carried the football 436 times this year, which reminds us of Jamal Anderson, who got run into the ground by the late 90's Falcons. Better take care of the young man or he won't last much longer.
6) John Fox goes 49-22 with the Broncos (3-4 in playoffs) and gets fired? Oy. Hot rumor as I type this is Fox going to Chicago to coach the Bears.
5) Rex Ryan goes 50-52 with the Jets and gets $5M+ from Buffalo? Buffalo sent its DC Jim Schwartz packing; his philosophy and Ryan's didn't mesh, so it makes sense. Curious to see if the Jets hire Doug Marrone, if he brings Schwartz to the Swamp.
4) At one point Monday afternoon, ESPN2 was airing mascots riding an electronic bull; seriously, they did. 46 seconds was the best time while I was watching. ESPN over-covered the college football playoff a bit much; now they can finally dive into a little more college basketball. Less than nine weeks until Selection Sunday.
3) Golfers Jason Day, Chris Kirk both shot 11-under 62's in last round at Kapalua, yet neither one won the tournament; Patrick Reed beat Jimmy Walker in a playoff to win the first event of 2015. Walker led most of way, was awful on back nine Monday.
2) Odd fact that I learned Monday night: Bob Newhart once went to law school at Loyola, IL; he didn't finish, which was a good thing for TV comedy, right?
1) One last college football thing: the kid on Oregon who scored a TD but dropped the ball about two inches after he crossed the goal line? Go hand the ball to the referee and quit being a selifsh jackass. His cool guy BS is inexcusable, especially since a kid on Utah did same thing against the Ducks in November. He should know better.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Packers 26, Cowboys 21-- Playoff games were all good this weekend, with three dogs covering; NFL really needs to change the "maintain catch while falling down" rule that has sucked since the Lions got screwed out of a Calvin Johnson TD catch on Opening Day a few years ago.
12) No matter what the rule (and according to the current rule, the refs got it right) a gray area will always exist as to whether a ball was caught. Common sense should be involved in the decision though. The current rule takes some of that out.
Put it this way: I'm watching that play Sunday, the Dez Bryant play and the current rule doesn't exist. I'm saying Bryant caught the ball and most would agree. I just wish they would change the rule. I'm guessing Calvin Johnson would second that.
11) Colts 24, Broncos 13-- You got the idea this was the end for Peyton Manning as a player, and it wasn't pretty. There were rumors during the game that John Fox needed to win this game to keep his job, despite winning AFC West four years in a row. Gary Kubiak took his name out of the running Sunday night, but you get the feeling that the Bronco team we see in September will be a lot different than today's team.
10) Manning has had a great career, winning a Super Bowl, but his career playoff record is 11-13, 5-9 in the first playoff game of a year-- no other QB in Super Bowl era lost his first playoff game in a season more than four times. .
9) Colt-Bronco game was first playoff game in NFL history where the starting QBs were both sons of former NFL players.
8) Buffalo Bills are expected to name Rex Ryan coach while keeping Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator and naming Greg Roman offensive coordinator; in interest of good theater, Jets have to name Doug Marrone head coach so Bills-Jets becomes one of the league's better rivalries.
7) Cavaliers lost 103-84 in Sacramento, are now 1-8 without Lebron James; they are 18-11 when Lebron plays.
6) Oregon State 58, Arizona 56-- Beavers' coach Wayne Tinkle is the youngest of 11 children; he may already be the Pac-12's Coach of the Year. Oregon State is a good defensive team; holding Arizona to 56 points in very impressive.
5) Stanford 78, USC 76-- Cardinal scored one point in last 5:26, hung on to split an LA trip where they were 25-56 behind the arc- they blew a 14-point lead at UCLA Thursday and damn near blew an 18-point lead in this game. USC had ball for the last shot, but their point guard just dribbled into traffic and lost the ball. .
4) Only one golfer has made the TOUR Championship (top 30) in each of the last seven years; name is probably a surprise: Hunter Mahan.
3) Apparently one of the reasons Kyle Shanahan quit the Browns was the front office was texting suggestions down from the press box during games. Not only is that meddling micro-managing, its against NFL rules.
2) Sometimes it helps to check boxscores or watch games just to get a feel for what happened; final scores can be misleading. Elon beat Wm & Mary 85-78 the other day, after they went on a 28-15 run over the last 5:44 of the game. Elon was 12-25 from the arc; scoring 28 points in 5:44 is an impressive feat, but hard to duplicate.
1) Congrats to Utah State coach Stew Morrill, who is retiring after 29 years as a D-I head coach. Timing of the announcement is a little odd but Morrill had won 21+ games 12 years in a row before the Aggies moved up to the Mountain West last year.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) So who was it that pushed 77-year old defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau out the door? Coach Tomlin? Owner Art Rooney? When a guy in his position says "I am not retiring" that means he got fired. Tough thing, firing a legend.
12) Kentucky 70, Texas A&M 64, 2OT-- Aggies were only 16-30 in foul line as Wildcats dodged another bullet in SEC play. They're very good, but don't tell me this Kentucky team is an all-time great team just yet.
11) Miami OH 82, Eastern Michigan 81 OT-- Ben Roethlisberger's alma mater was down 25 in first half, rallied to win.
10) North Carolina 72, Louisville 71-- UNC gets 8th-least % of points of anyone in country from beyond arc, where they shoot 31%; this was second Tar Heel game in row that was decided by exactly one point.
9) Seton Hall 68, Creighton 67 OT-- Sterling Gibbs hit a hard 3-pointer with 0:02.1 left to keep Bluejays (0-4) winless in Big East.
8) If you care about such things, home underdogs are now 1-9-1 vs spread in WCC conference games this season.
7) Super Bowl is in Phoenix this year, same week as Phoenix Open golf tournament, where Eldrick Woods will play for only the fourth time. Coincidence?.Nah, some of his sponsors probably want to watch him play, so he plays.
6) Roger Goodell and his wife sat outside in the cold in Foxboro last night; he runs the damn league but he doesn't sit in a luxury box? Mrs Goodell couldn't have been happy with this-- who wants to get sick when you don't have to?
5) At this point, Knicks might lose to the Washington Generals; they lost by 28 at home to Charlotte and they won the fourth quarter by 17-- you do the math.
4) New Orleans traded Austin Rivers to the Celtics in Jeff Green trade; rumor has it that Boston is going to ship him to the Clippers soon, where he will play for his dad.
3) ESPN's Jay Bilas/Dan Dakich are Robert M Knight henchmen, so they spend way too much airtime bitching about officials. Analyze the game, you're not paid to be the supervisor of officials. ESPN's college hoop analysts are a surprisingly weak lot. .
2) If they reduced the amount of timeouts each team got in TV games from five to three, it would be fine with me. In a college hoop game, there are eight scripted TV timeouts that have to happen; teams don't need five other timeouts, its too much. Let the kids play, the game would have better flow, better action. .
1) A's traded for Ben Zobrist/Yunel Escobar Saturday; counting DH, they've changed seven of nine position players from LY's team. One evaluator summed up the new A's in this way: "Younger, cheaper and deeper" Sounds like the A's.
Saturday's List of 13: Things haven't always been this way.........
13) There are advantages/disadvantages to everything; one of the good things about being my age is that I got to see Pete Maravich play basketball.
This was before ESPN, before 3-pointers; he was flashy and prolific but most of all, he was great fun to watch. He scored 68 against the Knicks one night in New Orleans before the NBA had 3-pointers-- if you put some of his highlights in a movie, you'd get laughed at for being unrealistic. An amazing talent.
12) There are still four phone booths in the lobby of a building I used to work in; no more phones, but the booths are still there. There used to be phone booths on a lot of street corners and in stores-- for a quarter you could talk for three minutes.
Now 90% of people have a cellphone in their pocket; someone took a bath investing in pay phones the last few years before cellphones became popular. I remember seeing Bobby Cremins talking on a cellphone in Orlando at an AAU tournament-- the other coaches all had cellphones, but Cremins was there putting his change in. I bet even coach Cremins has a cellphone now.
11) Basketball without shot clocks and 3-point shot was often strangled to death by control freak coaches; I mean a Duke Carolina game in the late 70's was 7-0 at the half. If teams played zone while behind the team that was leading could just hold the ball or pass it back and forth up top forever.Today, no one would watch it. Not everything has improved with time, but basketball definitely has.
10) There used to be weekday afternoon World Series games; the first weeknight Series game was in 1971. Now all the games are at night and sometimes don't end until close to midnight. One of the reasons less kids like the sport now.
9) Tell someone in their 20's that the Oakland Raiders used to be an NFL power, a team everyone looked up to and you get strange looks, but they were the coolest team for a long time, throwing the ball vertically down the field with their silver and black uniforms and DBs with tons of stick 'em on their arms. Not anymore though.....
8) There was a time when NHL players who wore helmets were mocked for not being as manly as other players; now everyone does it, but not always. Actually, as late as 1974, there was a pro goalie playing without a mask-- imagine that?
7) Until Larry Bird/Magic Johnson's rivaly revitalized the NBA, Finals games were shown on tape delay at 11:30 on weeknights. Seriously. Imagine if anyone did that now? Of course, ESPN was just starting out back then, too.
6) Instant replay is a fairly recent phenomena, but with 47% of challenged calls getting overturned in baseball LY, you wonder how many games would've ended in a different way replay existed 30-40 years ago?
5) One season in the 70's, Chicago White Sox had an artificial turf infield and a grass outfield; weird. Half the teams in major leagues had an artificial turf field at one time or another-- now Toronto and Tampa Bay are only ones that do.
4) Obviously, the Internet changed the whole world; when I was young, I saw the A's boxscores at 4:00 the next day, at least for their home games. Now I follow along in real time every night, both the A's and my fantasy team. Its part of the reason society is so impatient now; very seldom do we have to wait for anything.
3) NFL teams took longer to develop QBs because college teams rarely threw the ball a lot; many of them ran the option, couldn't throw the ball. Now so mamy teams run pro-style or run/shoot-type offenses, QBs come to the pros at least physically ready to play. The mental part of the game remains a puzzle for young guys.
2) College basketball players used to stay in school for three or even four years; that made the college game a lot stronger than it is now, where a kid makes two or three hoops in a row and starts looking for an agent. I actually think the college game would be better if kids could just skip college and go right to the pros.
1) Social media is a recent entrant into the "distractions" category that lot of teams and celebrities face. 40 years ago, if a college QB jumped up on a cafeteria table and started singing, I doubt we would've known about it. Now we know about it before dinner.
Friday's List of 13; Random stuff with weekend here.......
13) John Smoltz is first Hall of Fame pitcher who had Tommy John surgery, which reminds me that Dr Frank Jobe and Dr James Andrews should be in the Hall of Fame as contributors; not many people helped baseball more than those two surgeons.
12) Former NBA great Rick Barry will be 71 in two months; he was really a great player. The youngest of his five sons is named Canyon and is a sophomore guard at Charleston-- he had 21 against Hofstra last night. Just like his dad, young Barry takes his free throws underhanded-- he is 17-23 (73.9%) so far this season.
Rick Barry was a career 89.3% shooter from the foul line, scoring 25,279 points while averaging 24.8 ppg as a pro. In my mind, he was a very underrated player.
11) DePaul Blue Demons are 3-0 in the Big East, which doesn't sound like that much, until you realize that over last six seasons, they were 10-98. 10 and freakin' 98.
10) I walk into my living room Wednesday night; the Utah-Colorado game is on TV and Bill Walton is talking about dinosaur fossils; its always great fun listening to him doing Pac-12 games with Dave Pasch. Last night night they had Stanford-UCLA, a double OT game so we got ten extra minutes of Walton, never a bad thing.
9) So the Cavaliers traded Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City; Waiters asked to wear #13 for the Thunder (James Harden's old number) but for whatever reason, Thunder turned his request down, so he'll wear #23. Thats just a little strange- you'd think they want to make a new player feel comfortable, but not in today's micro-managed world.
8) Michigan State is 1-5 this year in games decided by 10 or less points; they were down 11 at the half in Iowa City last night, stormed back to win by 14, after Izzo got a technical just before halftime.
Spartans are 6-1 against Fran McCaffery, who once wouldn't let his Siena team shake hands with Manhattan after a game because the Jaspers "played too physically." Izzo teams occasionally practice in shoulder pads. Big 14 plays big boy basketball.
7) Five of eight QBs starting in the NFL playoffs this weekend have already won a Super Bowl and Cam Newton won a college champoionship.
6) Look beyond the records: Georgia Tech is 0-2 in the ACC, but lost in double OT at Notre Dame, lost by a point to Syracuse. Tech is an improved team.
Syracuse is 2-0 in the ACC, with road wins by 2 at Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech by a point. Orangemen are shaky and thin, not as strong as usual- they're pretty good, but not a top 25 team or a lock for the NCAA tournament.
5) ESPN has an incredible amount of coverage of college football during the day this week; coaches are scrambling for precious TV air time, since this is also recruiting season, with Signing Day less than four weeks away.
Brian Kelly, James Franklin, Art Briles all made appearances during the short time I was watching Thursday afternoon. Jim Harbaugh will be on during the national title game on ESPNU's simulcast Monday night. It is recruiting season, people.
4) Lot of stuff on ESPN2 on weekdays suggests that they might as well be airing WWE matches; the trash talking that goes on is childish and embarrassing. Probably sound old complaining about this, but you don't learn anything listening to the crap program that Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless pollute every day-- they just spout trash at each other, then laugh all the way to the bank. It is worthless garbage.
3) I have lot of channels on DirecTV; one of the better ones is #693, Prime Ticket from Los Angeles, which shows lot of Big West/WCC games late at night. Articles in this space tend to be a little better if I'm being entertained while I'm writing.
In old UNLV/Tark days, lot of Big West games were on TV, but they've disappeared off of TV recently, except for Prime Ticket, so we're thankful to them for that.
2) Thursday would've been Elvis Presley's 80th birthday; happy birthday to the King!!! Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas still has one of his old cars in their lobby; I was looking at it in November. An old Lincoln Mark IV; must be worth a fortune now.
1) Six weeks before spring training starts and James Shields/Max Scherzer are still free agents; these two pitchers are game-changers for whomever signs them. I am told pitching is the most important part of baseball; these two guys are going to get some serious money, but from which teams?
Additional warm weather note: the PGA Tour starts today!!!
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud............
13) In last seven years, #1 seed in the NFC is 4-3 SU in this round; #1 seed in AFC is 3-3 in this round. So much for the bye being a big advantage.
12) College basketball ref Kip Kissinger did the Iowa State-South Carolina game in Brooklyn Saturday, the UNLV-Kansas game Sunday in Lawrence, and New Mexico-San Diego State game Tuesday night. Lot of frequent flyer miles there.
11) Speaking of the Aztecs, they've now won their last 131 games when they led with 5:00 to play. Thats a tremendous streak and very sound coaching.
10) If I had a Hall of Fame vote this year, I would've voted for Tim Raines and Mike Piazza, in addition to the four guys who made it.
9) Four of the five kids on the Atlantic 14's pre-season All-League team are sophs, which says a lot for that league's future. Davidson-VCU game Wednesday was a terrific game between two teams with very different philosophies.
8) Herm Edwards/Bill Polian do good work during the day on ESPN; can learn a lot about the inner workings of how the NFL works. Job interviews, what front office people look for in players, good information.
7) Denver Nuggets are doing away with game-day shootarounds, hoping that if players have more uninterrupted sleep, they'll play better. They hired a sleep expert whose opinion it was that mid-day shootarounds were a hinderence more than a help.
6) Over the last six years, ACC football teams are 22-30 in bowls, not exactly what the league's honchos had in mind when they added Miami and Florida State.
5) Knicks-Bucks are playing a game in London a week from today; we've sent the Jaguars and Knicks to England in the same year. I'm sure the British are grateful.
4) Former Boston College/NC State football coach Tom O'Brien retired; he is the missing link in Russell Wilson's life story, the NC State coach who cut Wilson loose before his senior year, so he was free to transfer to Wisconsin. How did this happen ands why doesn't anyone talk about it?
I mean, a 3-year starting QB transfers before his senior year, doesn't have to sit out a year and the program he left doesn't seem to care?. Wilson played a lot of minor league baseball in summers when he was in college- he was a second baseman in the Colorado organization. You hear so much now about what a great teammate Wilson is, then why did NC State just let him leave town?
3) Should DH's be elected to the Hall of Fame? I mean, David Ortiz might not even own a glove. 68% of the games Edgar Martinez played in were as a DH.
2) Its freakin' freezing today in upstate New York, so the idea that the first spring training baseball game is March 3, Orioles-Tigers in Lakeland, only 54 cold days away, well thats a good thought. My tentative plan is to hit spring training in Arizona next March and see my A's get ready for the 2016 season. Haven't done that before.
1) If I interviewed Jameis Winston at the NFL Combine, my first question would be this: Are you 100% committed to football? Have you given up on baseball? Being an NFL QB is a 24/7 job; its hard enough when you're totally committed. His answers would be very interesting.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a winter day......
13) Stunning Statistic of the Day: Joe Flacco has seven road playoff wins, two more than any other QB in NFL history!!! Weird thing is how few home playoff games Baltimore has had, but they thrive on the road, for sure.
12) Since 2001, New England is 12-3 in home playoff games: 1-2 against Baltimore, 11-1 against everyone else.
11) Pistons 105, Spurs 104-- Detroit was down 18, rallies to win, is now 6-0 since they fired Josh Smith- they were 5-23 with Smith. Go figure.
10) Jim Burr was one of the refs at the Providence-Butler game last night; I don't want to say he's been around a long time, but when I was a college freshman, way back in 1978, I did the scorebook for high school sectional games at UAlbany, last of which was a Mt Vernon-Catholic High game, with Scooter McCray playing for Mt Vernon.
Rodney McCray had a broken wrist that night and didn't play. Tony Fiorentino was an assistant cxoach for Mt Vernon; he does Miami Heat games on TV now. Jim Burr was the ref that night. In 1978. 37 years later, he is still doing Big East games. if ever someone needs to write a book about his experiences, it would be Mr Burr.
9) Lot of schools were recruiting Scooter McCray, the older of the brothers; Wade Houston (Allan Houston's dad) was an assisstant coach at Louisville-- he used my student ID to check out racquetball stuff to play racquetball with Mt Vernon coaches. In return, I asked for an autographed picture of Darrell Griffith. He agreed.
Not only did I never get the picture, I got a bill for the rackets when the coaches left them in the trainer's room instead of returning them where they came from. The bill got taken care of, Louisville got Scooter, won a national title and then Wade Houston got the coaching job at Tennessee, where he went 65-90 in five years. Hmmm...
8) Not sure we talked about this last spring, when the Bills moved up four slots in the draft to take WR Sammy Watkins, they gave up two #1's and a 4th-round pick to get only four picks higher. Watkins had a strong rookie year, but an extra #1 and a 4?
Cleveland had to be happier than hell to make that trade; apparently, Doug Marrone was very unhappy-- it was said it is part of why he bolted the club last week.
7) Texas Tech signed a new defensiove coordinator, the guy who was Houston's interim coach for their bowl win; he'll be making $550,000 a year. He's not even head coach and he's making $550,000 a year in Lubbock. Its good to be him.
6) Illinois lost its best basketball player Rayvonte Rice with a broken hand and is out indefinitely, very bad news for the Illini., who play Maryland tonight.
5) Old Dominion is in the Top 25 for the first time ever; former Virginia coach Jeff Jones is the head man for the Monarchs, who are now in Conference USA.
4) If James Naimsith was watching the first half of this New Mexico-San Diego State game I'm watching, he might deny inventing the sport.
College basketball has gotten worse because every time a kid makes two baskets in a row, it seems like he declares for the NBA Draft. It has helped the D-League, though.
3) ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported that Carmelo Anthony won't be shut down for the season until after the NBA All-Star Game, which is in New York next month. My question is this:
Why the bleep should Anthony make the All-Star team?!?!?!?!
Knicks are 5-32; they shouldn't have any All-Stars, especially one who is supposedly "injured". If he plays in the All-Star Game but doesn't play for the Knicks, what does make people who buy Knick season tickets? Answer: suckers.
One more quick Knick note: They got a 2019 2nd-round pick in the JR Smith trade; if that player is a one-and-done college kid, that means right now, he is in the 9th grade, whoever he is. Has an NBA team ever traded for a 9th grader before?
2) Over the last three years, if you wagered on every Big 14 bowl team that was an underdog, you'd be 13-7-2. They were 10-10 the three years before that.
1) I'd love to have a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame; no one watches more baseball than I do, I write about it every day during the season-- I think I'm a qualified voter, so if you know anyone with some clout, hook me up!!!!
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) First of all, best wishes to Carolina Panthers' coach Ron Rivera and his family after part of his house caught fire late Sunday night; all six people in the house got out safely. Weird month for the Panthers, with Cam Newton rolling his car over a few weeks ago and now this. Both situations could've wound up much worse.
12) Heard an interesting story today from someone who was there: 20 years ago, Western Kentucky's football team was coached by Jack Harbaugh; you have probably heard of his sons. WKU was debating shutting down the football program, the way UAB's program just got shut down, but a celebrity stepped in to help the team out.
Doc Severinsen is one of the greatest trumpet players ever; back then, he was best known as the bandleader on the Tonight Show. He called an attorney working to keep the football team and volunteered to help their cause, which he did.
At one point, the attorney asked Severinsen why he was helping the team out, and he got an interesting answer: "I'm not interested in football, but if your team goes, the marching band goes with it." The man went out of his way to make sure those young musicians had a band to play in, which was a very cool thing to do.
11) Doc Severinsen is now 87, still alive and playing music; his website says he has two appearances in Virginia in mid-February. Western Kentucky won a bowl game this year, a game the the bandleader helped them win by his actions 20 years ago.
10) Hawks 107, Clippers 98-- Atlanta is 26-8 and atop the East; Mike Budenholzer is their coach, a former Spurs' aide who is winning the same way San Antonio does, with teamwork. But for whatever reason, their owner is selling the team; go figure.
Hawks are 19-2 in their last 21 games, with seven straight road wins.
9) Notre Dame 71, North Carolina 70-- Irish play fast, are fun to watch; they made 10-23 from arc in this game. Always good to have kids who can shoot. Curious that North Carolina doesn't have better shooters.
8) New Mexico point guard Cullen Neal, son of coach Craig Neal, will redshirt this year since his badly sprained ankle still hasn't totally recovered. Big blow for this year's Lobos, but three years from now when Neal is a 5th-year senior, they're going to be very glad this happened.
7) Cowboy-Lion game Sunday was highest rated TV show of any kind since the Oscars last March, and second-highest rated Wild Card game of all-time. .
6) Any team that hires Josh McDaniels as its head coach deserves to be mocked; the guy drafted Tim Tebow in the first round. His main claim to fame is that he knows Tom Brady. How many people has Brady made rich by his great play?
Charlie Weis should be sending Brady monthly checks for all the money he has been paid since he left the Patriots and was exposed as a fraud, and he's not the only one.
5) Mike Krzyzewski is going to win his 1,000th game this month; odd that he has not won ACC Coach of the Year since 2000. Right now, win #1,000 would be on the 17th against Louisville, but they play Miami right before then, so it could be delayed.
4) American League starting pitchers had a 3.92 ERA last year, first time they were under 4.00 since 1981, Lot of water under the bridge since then.
3) St John's gets Rysheed Jordan back for their game with Villanova tonight; party line was that Jordan's grandmother died over the weekend, which is why he missed the Butler game, but why didn't they just say that over the weekend?
2) Question of the Day: Do colleges recruit cheerleaders?
Think about it; they're on TV alot, and you can't tell me Oregon's cheerleaders don't help their recruiting at least a little. USC's, too. How are these teams of agile, cheerful women formed? If you any insight into this issue, please let me know.
1) This won't comfort Lion fans any, but in the CFL last summer, pass interference was a reviewable call, subject to being challenged. Could it happen in the NFL?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) When I was six years old, I chose the Rams as my favorite NFL team, mostly because I liked their helmets. Thank God I didn't pick the Lions.
That year was 1966, the first year of the Super Bowl era; in the 49 seasons since then, Detroit is 1-11 in playoff games, with the only win coming in 1991.
Sunday was probably the most bitter of those 11 losses, with Detroit getting hosed on a pass interference penalty with less than 9:00 left and the Lions nursing a 20-17 lead. Now Detroit blew 14-0 and 20-7 leads, but still, anyone who watched that game left it with the feeling that refs played far too big a role in the outcome.
12) How is Dez Beyant not penalized for going on the field (without his helmet) to protest the PI flag, which miraculously was then picked up? Its an automatic penalty.
Lets review the pass interference:
-- An official downfield threw a flag against the Cowboys.
Referee Pete Morelli announced it as a penalty.
-- FOX refereeing expert Mike Pereira said it was a penalty.
-- Even freakin' Troy Aikman (former Cowboy) said it was a penalty.
-- Who overruled the official who threw the flag?
-- Why wasn't Bryant flagged for bitching at the refs without his helmet on?
But the flag was picked up, the Lions predictably got beat and now FOX and the NFL get a marquee matchup next Sunday, Dallas-Green Bay at Lambeau, Ice Bowl II.
11) If you care about such things, Dallas is now 7-25 against the spread as a home favorite under Jason Garrett. Its not important but it is interesting.
10) FOX analyst Pereira mentioned more than once that he disagrees with the NFL not using set crews for playoff games- they cobble together "all-star" crews, so you have teams of officials who have never worked together before. Not an ideal situation.
9) Colts 26, Bengals 10-- Marvin Lewis is 100-96-2 as coach of the Bengals, but he has not won a playoff game and some Bengal fans are calling for his job. Be careful what you wish for; in the 12 years before Lewis coached the Bengals, their record was a hideous 55-137. Change isn't always an improvement.
8) Andy Dalton is first NFL QB of the Super Bowl era to lose his first four playoff games; pretty good QB named YA Tittle also did it in the 50's. Going to be a long winter for Dalton, Lewis and the Bengals but I root for the Rams, who haven't had a winning season since 2003. I'd be pretty happy to make playoffs four years in a row.
7) Indianapolis was only NFL team not to score a TD on first drive of a game this season, but they went 71 yards on nine plays for a TD on their first drive Sunday.
6) Want to win a bar bet? Jim Mora Sr holds the dubious NFL record with 125 regular season wins, most of any head coach who never won a playoff game.
To be totally fair, it needs to be noted that Mora Sr was 48-13-1 coaching in the USFL, which was a good league; he won two of that league's three championships.
5) Pistons 114, Kings 95-- Detroit is now 5-0 since they cut Josh Smith, who had $26M left on his contract. That is called addition by subtraction.
4) College hoop referee David Hall has already worked 43 games this season, which is only 52 days old. Dude works a game damn near every night.
3) Former Florida QB Jeff Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech, where he'll play for Skip Holtz. Lot of former Gator QBs around college football.
2) Six of the last nine Super Bowl champs played on Wild Card weekend, so if you think the teams that got byes are sure things next weekend, think again. Only twice in last fourteen years has a #1 seed won the Super Bowl.
1) One last football note: QB's get too much credit, too much blame. Tony Romo is a very good QB obviously, but he's played in 123 regular season games (78-45 record) and Sunday was only his second playoff win (2-3). Mark Sanchez (4-2) has four.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Panthers 27, Cardinals 16-- You're not winning a road playoff game with your #3 QB. What were the odds there would be a safety in both games Saturday?
12) Ravens 30, Steelers 17-- John Harbaugh has made playoffs six times and won his first game every time; Baltimore visits Foxboro next weekend.
11) Florida 28, East Carolina 20-- People scoff at the SEC, the league that went 7-5 in bowl games this year. 7-5 in bowls is a bad year for the SEC, but most other leagues would be more than happy with it.
10) Over last six years, Big 14 teams have played in 49 bowls and were favored only seven times (3-3-1 vs spread). They were the dog in 42 of 49 games; interesting.
9) Bengals lost their last seven visits to Indy; their last win there was in '97, when Kelly Holcomb subbed for Colts' QB Jim Harbaugh. Cincinnati is 10-5-1 this year and was an underdog in nine of their 16 games.
8) Kentucky/Vanderbilt are only two SEC teams that didn't go bowling this year; in the next few years, people will appreciate the job James Franklin did at Vandy.
7) Is there a carryover between how a team does in its bowl game and how they play the following season(s), or is it just a random occurence?
6) TCU's basketball team has interesting bloodlines, with Mark Price's son, Chris Washburn's son and Trey Zeigler, who originally went to Central Mixchigan when his dad was named coach there, then went to Pitt when his father got fired, then bolted there for TCU-- he's a good player, Frogs are much improved.
5) ESPN has few new basketball analysts this year; of the ones I've heard so far, Jim Calhoun will be very good, Craig Robinson is good, while Stan Heath, Shane Battier don't seem to add very much. Its still early though; they'll get better with time.
If I were advising a new analyst, I'd advise them to express strong opinions, when you have one. Don't rattle on just for the sake of being controversial; be yourself, but talk about the basketball things you care about.
4) ESPN'/Elias report that Arizona Cardinals scored only 73 points over their final six regular season games (12.2 ppg), fewest by a playoff team since 1935 Giants. They were also the first playoff team ever where no one ran the ball 100+ times.
3) The retired athletic director at North Carolina has an annual pension of $266,000; this is the guy who oversaw an athletic department whose athletes were often frauds in the classroom. When do people in athletic department start losing jobs for that?
2) Bad Beats of the Day: Virginia and Jacksonville State were both 7.5-point dogs who went to overtime and then didn't cover the spread; you have a 7.5-point dog in OT, you should almost never lose. Overcoming bad beats is a challenge to gamblers.
1) If NFL Network wants a great reality show, how about talking someone into letting their job interview be filmed? No way Rex Ryan says no to that.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.......
13) Houston 35, Pitt 34-- Cougars fired their coach; Pitt's coach bolted for another job, so of course this bowl had one of the best endings. Pitt led 35-14 with 4:00 left but lost in regulation. Houston recovered two onside kicks on a rainy day. Cougars gained 292 yards, just in the fourth quarter.
12) You see how happy those Houston kids were when they won, and you know why some people prefer the bowl system to a playoff. With the playoff, only one team gets to go home happy at the end. Those Houston kids are happy today.
11) Michigan State 42, Baylor 41-- Spartans were down 41-21 early in 4th quarter, rallied to beat Baylor team that passed for 605 yards. Next time you hear Art Briles' name mentioned for an NFL job, he better have learned better game management skills than he showed in this game. When you're holding the ball to kill the clock, don't snap the ball with :11 left on the play clock. Spartans got winning TD with 0:17 left.
10) Four teams have won bowls this year after trailing by 14+ points; Baylor's win at TCU was the only regular season game this year where a team trailed by 20+ in fourth quarter and won. Michigan State and Houston did it this week.
9) Butler named Chris Holtmann permanent head coach, taking the interim tag off that he had since this fall, when the previous coach took medical leave. Bulldogs have played better this season; not sure if they're an NCAA tourney team though.
8) UCLA 40, Kansas State 35-- Bruins led 31-6 at half, then hung on for win; Mora was annoyed that his QB got hit while kneeling down to kill clock at end of the game. He pretty much blew off Bill Snyder in the coaches' post-game handshake.
7) RIP Donna Douglas, who died this week at age 81. Ms Douglas played Elly May on the Beverly Hillbillies. Her death leaves Max Baer (Jethro) as the only surviving member of the cast. Guys I went to college with watched this show every day.
6) Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22-- Pac-12 is now 5-2 in bowl games this year. #7 on Washington not only played defense, he was covering kicks, alll while playing with a broken left thumb. Rams need to draft that young man.
5) Must cost a small fortune to transport/house these bands that play at college football games-- there are over 200 kids in those bands.
4) Warriors 126, Raptors 105-- Not sure if I've mentioned this, but Golden State has a really big fan base-- they have, by far, the most fans at summer league games in Las Vegas. If you didn't know and just assumed the teams with the most fans were the best teams, you'd identify the Warriors as a league power.
3) There is a reality program called Friday Night Tykes on the Esquire Channel-- it is about youth football and it is pretty interesting, if not occasionally disturbing. The show's second season starts later this month.
2) New Orleans Saints fired three assistant coaches, using them as scapegoats for the team's lousy season,. One of the coaches is Henry Ellard, who was one of my favorite players when he was a fine WR for the Rams. How does Rob Ryan keep his job while they fire the wide receivers' coach?
1) Now comes news that Knicks may shut Carmelo Anthony down for the season; do season ticket holders get a rebate when the supposed "star" stops playing? Knicks are already 5-30, with two 10-game losing streaks in the first 35 games.
Friday's List of 13: Our second List of 13 this year.......
13) Oregon 59, Florida State 20-- Extreme ugliness in third quarter for Seminoles, who turned ball over four times in that quarter alone. Game was 18-13 at half, seemed like a normal FSU game, but then they imploded in the second half. Ugly end to an impressive winning streak.
12) Ohio State 42, Alabama 35-- If I'm Braxton Miller, I'm packing my bags, calling coaches tomorrow, finding a new place to play next year. QB job for the Buckeyes is taken. LSU seems like a good place for Miller to land.
11) If I'm in one of those celebrity death pools (you get a point for every year under 100 when one of your celebrities passes away), I'm taking Urban Meyer; looks like he could have a stroke at any second, totally humorless, high-stress job.
10) Speaking of Meyer, one of his daughters goes to Georgia Tech and is engaged to a Yellow Jacket football player. Young man will be a graduate assistant at Ohio State next season. Its good to be engaged to the boss' daughter.
9) If ESPN ranked their college football play-by-play guys, Chris Fowler wouldn't be in the top five, yet there he is, calling the national title game. Why? Fowler seems to enjoy tennis more than football. ESPN better not let Rece Davis walk; he is their best college football guy, in my opinion.
8) SEC ends this bowl season 5-5; they're 26-18 in bowls the last six years. I'll have more bowl knowledge like this after I finish my research project this weekend.
7) Fairfield Stags are only 4-8 this season, but four of their last eight games went to overtime, so at least they're an interesting 4-8.
6) Evansville 52, Northern Iowa 49-- Panthers were up 10 at the half, but lost for fourth time in their last five visits here. Purple Aces are a contender in the MVC.
5) UConn is in same basketball league as East Carolina, Tulane and South Florida; this just seems odd. To me, the Huskies would've been a better fit for the Big 14 than Rutgers is, but then again, no one asked me.
4) TCU's basketball team is 13-0, yet the Horned Frogs are unranked, maybe due to their schedule being the easiest in the country so far. That'll all change quickly, with Big X play starting this weekend. TCU opens league play with West Virginia.
3) Biggest thing holding back an 8-team college football playoff might be the idea that crowds wouldn't be very good for the first round games. Fans can't afford to make three road trips in a month.
2) Think David Blatt will still be coaching the Cavaliers when Lebron James comes back from his injuries? They won't win a lot without him.
1) I'm in a grocery store Thursday night and I say to the cashier, "Hey I haven't seen you all year!!!" She didn't seem the least bit amused by this.
Thursday's List of 13: Happy New Year, everyone.......
13) At one point this season, Ole Miss/Mississippi State were both in the top four in the country; Wednesday, they both lost bowl games by combined score of 91-36-- SEC teams are 4-3 in bowl games. Dogs are 7-1 vs spread in ACC bowl games.
12) 7-8-1 Carolina is a 6-point favorite over 11-5 Arizona in the NFC playoffs Saturday; I know Cardinals are down to their #3 QB, but the Panthers went 1-8-1 in one ten-game stretch this season. Interesting pointspread.
11) New Orleans Pelicans are 9-0 vs spread if they played the night before.
10) Why does St John's wear blue basketball uniforms? They're the Red Storm.
9) Addition by subtraction? Detroit cut Josh Smith despite owing him $26M; now they've won last three games, by 10-23-23 points, after being 5-23. Coincidence?
8) Reds got Marlon Byrd from the Phils,. as he moves from one hitters' park to another. Good news for Byrd's fantasy owners.
7) Jamal Crawford has played 15 years in the NBA; during that time, he's played for 17 different head coaches.
6) Bills had their first winning season in ten years but wthin four days, their QB and head coach both quit. Not the best way to head into the offseason.
5) Not only did Doug Marrone quit the Bills, they still have to pay him $4M next season; hope Marrone buys his agent a Cadillac or a Humvee; the guy earned it.
4) Jim Burr reffed the St John's-Seton Hall game Wednesday; the guy is ageless. I once did the scorebook for a high school sectional game that Burr worked- that would not be a big deal, except it was in 1978, when I was a freshman in college, thats how long Mr Burr has been a bigtime basketball official.
3) Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy teaches an actual college course in the honors' program in Temple's business school; not a lot of D-I coaches do that.
2) Washington Redskins parted ways with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who becomes the scapegoat for the mess the Redskins have become. They traded a ton of picks for RGIII and he's been a flop, so fire the defensive coach!!!
1) Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2015 is a great year for all of us.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts as 2014 winds down
13) Ndamukomg Suh won the appeal of his suspension, can play in the Lions' game in Dallas this week; he's going to get fined $70,000, but if he had been suspended for a playoff game, it likely would've cost him a lot more than that when he hits the free agent market in March.
12) Notre Dame 31, LSU 28-- We need more accountability from replay officials, as in, who are they and are they actually watching replays? LSU tried a fake FG near the end of the first half, the runner was called down short of the goal line. Replays showed the guy scored (my father loves Notre Dame and admitted it should be a TD) but the replay official gagged and let the call stand. Incompetent or corrupt? You decide.
11) Think about the impact these rookies had in the NFL this season: Blue, Landry, Beckham, Hill; all four of those guys played for LSU LAST YEAR. Hard to replenish that much talent every year and remain a top 10 program.
LSU also lost defensive coordinator Chavis to Texas A&M after the game; a big loss, but they'll find a good replacement. SEC teams pay coordinators serious money.
10) In their last six games, Seattle Seahawks outscored their opponents by combined score of 85-13; they're going to be tough to beat at home.
9) ESPN2 shows three Big 14 games Tuesday and chooses to put Dan Dakich as an analyst on the Michigan game; his kid is a benchwarmer for the Wolverines. This is good journalism? I'd be better with it if they acknowledged the fact, but they never mention the kid on telecasts. When Fran Fraschilla did Oklahoma games when his son was on the end of the Sooner bench, they often acknowledged it.
8) Turns out Jim Harbaugh will make the same $5M a year at Michigan that he was making with the 49ers; the other $3M, I'm guessing goes to his staff, which is the new thing in college football, getting better coordinators by overpaying them.
Thats a big part of why Bret Bielema left Wisconsin and why Kyle Whittingham is having issues with his AD at Utah, salaries for their coordinators.
7) Georgia 37, Louisville 14-- Freshman Chubb ran for 266 yards, most ever by a freshman running back in a bowl, breaking Ron Dayne's old record by 20 yards. SEC is 4-1 in bowls this month, 22-8 in their last thirty overall.
6) Whenever I read about NFL job interviews, I'm reminded that Al Davis used to use job interviews as a way to pick people's brains for information. Lot of people that he interviewed he had no intention of hiring, he just wanted to learn from them.
5) Loyola Marymount is a combined 8-28 on 3-pointers in its last four games, ironic when you consider that LMU is the school that gave us Kimble-Fryer-Gathers and one of the highest scoring teams in NCAA history.
4) ESPN's college basketball analysts, a suprisingly weak lot, spend way too much time bashing officials. ESPN has a lot of terrific play-by-play guys, but they've let some of their better analysts walk. Many of those who remain don't talk about the game enough, they crab about length of replay reviews, officials' calls. No bueno.
3) Remember it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
2) There's a new Indian restaurant opening in Las Vegas with a cool name, the Urban Turban. I've never even had Indian food, just think it is an excellent name
1) Serious question: You're an NFL GM, make $1M a year. Keeping your job depends on you picking the right head coach. Would you hire Rex Ryan? I'm not leading you in either direction, its a fair question.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) NFL suspended Ndamukomg Suh for the playoff game this week, after he was flagged for stepping on Aaron Rodgers Sunday. Dominic Raiola was suspended for last week's gams; they lost Stephen Tulloch for the season after he blew his ACL out doing a celebratory dance. Weird year for the improved Lions, who have one playoff win in the 48-year Super Bowl era.
12) Want to feel old? Lebron James turns 30 today.
11) Tom Brady re-did his contract (again), giving the Patriots $24M or so in extra cap room this winter. When he retires, Robert Kraft should give him a small ownership stake in the team, thats how much he's meant to this team.
10) Jim Harbaugh is going to be making $1M a year more than Nick Saban; think about that for a second. I'm tired of hearing about Harbaugh; I'm also very happy he's out of the NFC West, because he did nothing but win coaching the 49ers.
9) Its amusing that Florida State is a 9-point underdog Thursday; they're 27-0 with Winston at QB, with last four wins all by 5 or less points.
8) College football fans took to Twitter Monday after to point out a Texas A&M assistant shoving a West Virginia player ont he sidelines; the assistant wasn't on the dielines for the second half of the game. Twitter is turning more fans into the golf fans who calll in obscure rules violations during PGA tournaments.
7) SI.com pointed out Monday that over last 12 years, Patriots have won 61 more games than any other AFC East team- thats five wins a year!!!!
6) Dallas Cowboys are 8-0 on road this year; of the last seven teams to be perfect on the road during the regular season, six of them made it to the Super Bowl.
5) I don't give a rat's ass about MVP races, Cy Young awards or the Heisman Trophy; those are just individual things. Way too much is written about them.
4) Connor Shaw is 22nd starting QB the Cleveland Browns have had since they became a team again in 1999. 22 starting QBs in 16 years? No bueno.
3) Sounds like Cavalier coach David Blatt needs to string some wins together; the rats are starting to jump off the ship a little bit, as Cavaliers struggle since losing their center Anderson Varejao for the season (achilles). Varejeo was a good energy guy, a little Rodman-esque, tough guy to replace.
2) Buffalo QB Kyle Orton retired, a big blow to the Bills, who gave Orton a 2-year contract this summer. Bills had their first winning season in a decade, now they take a step back, since it is evident that EJ Manuel won't be the answer under center.
1) Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6-- This result makes it a tossup between Sooners and North Carolina for the worst bowl performance so far this month. Clemson didn't even have their starting QB for this game. Dismal peformance by Oklahoma.
Monday's List of 16: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday
Texans 23, Jaguars 17-- Houston outgained Jags 358-233, but were -2 in turnovers; two Jax TDs were a defensive score and after a 23-yard drive. Houston finished 9-7 after being 2-14 last year, using four QBs this season; not sure where they go at QB next year. JJ Watt is first player in last 30 years with multiple 20-sack seasons.
Colts 27, Titans 10-- Tennessee upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead Opening Day, then won one game the rest of the year, losing their last ten games. Looks like Tennessee is in the #2 slot in the draft-- will they take one of the QBs or trade the pick? Colts had a 378-192 edge in yardage in a game where Titans averaged 1.4 yards/pass attempt.
Ravens 20, Browns 10-- Cleveland led 10-3 in 4th quarter, then Ravens woke up and clinched playoff spot after Chargers lost in Arrowhead. Baltimore had only two TDs on five red zone drives, have led at halftime only twice in their last nine games- -they outscored last four opponents 61-19 in second half.
Bills 17, Patriots 9-- Buffalo has first winning season in 10 years, but Brady didn't play in second half as Bills won for just second time in last 23 series games. Patriots haven't allowed a second half TD in their last six games. Buffalo didn't have any runner gain 100+ yards in a game, first time that happened since 1979.
Jets 37, Dolphins 24-- Next time we see the Jets they'll have new GM, new coach; no iidea if Geno Smith will be back. Dolphins lose three of last four games to end season, but apparently owner Ross didn't want a bidding war with his alma mater Michigan for Jim Harbaugh, so coach Philbin will be back- they faded in December once again.
Vikings 13, Bears 9--Minnesota drops little in draft by winning this meaningless tilt and finishes 7-9; they won four of last five home games. Eight of their last ten games were decided by 4 or less points or in OT. Chicago lost its last five games, scoring 38 points in last three; keep in mind that Trestman was brought in to improve Cutler's level of play. Oy.
Chiefs 17, Chargers 9-- San Diego lost three of its last four games to miss playoffs; they were outscored 26-7 in second half of those three losses. San Diego was -12 in turnovers over its last ten games, after being +7 in first six games. Chiefs finish season 9-7 despite their WRs not catching one TD pass all season. Hard to believe.
Eagles 34, Giants 26-- Philly is 20-13 in Chip Kelly's first two seasons, but who is their QB moving forward? Giants lost four of last five home games, but found a star in WR Beckham. Eagles are first team since '87 Rams to score a TD on a blocked punt three times in same season. Philly is just third team since 1990 to start season 9-3 or better yet miss the playoffs.
Cowboys 44, Redskins 17-- Dallas finishes season 8-0 on road, opens playoffs next week at home against Detroit; Cowboys scored 38+ points in last four games, 31+ in six of last seven. Washington has huge decisions this winter: do they keep RGIII, do they change defensive coaches- they're 32-65 the last six years.
Saints 23, Buccaneers 20-- New Orleans was comatose for three quarters, losing to a Tampa team that needed to lose this game to get the #1 pick in the draft; they woke up in fourth quarter, won their fourth road game in row but stilll missed playoffs. Tampa Bay blatantly didn't try to win in last 2:00, declining to use last two timeouts when they could've gotten ball back down 26-20. Crafty guy, that Lovie Smith.
Packers 30, Lions 20-- Detroit lost its 24th straight game in Wisconsin after tying it after trailing 14-0; Lions head to Dallas next week, Packers get a week off, after they won 4th straight division title. This is good time to point out that having all divisional games in Week 17 is a very good idea; always good rivalry games. There were players in this game who weren't alive the last time the Lions won in Green Bay.
Panthers 34, Falcons 3-- Carolina won first two games, last four games, went 1-8-1 in between, in possibly the strangest season ever by a division champ. Remember they went 2-0 in backup QB Anderson's starts. Panthers scored four TDs in this game: two by the defense, one on a 4-yard drive. Could be a coaching change coming in Atlanta.
Seahawks 20, Rams 6-- Seattle is #1 seed in NFC. I've said enough about the Rams' lack of a quality QB; they were outscored 106-48 in the third quarter this year, after outscoring foes 95-42 in the first quarter. On their first drive of the second half this year, Rams had two FGs, lost two fumbles, punted 12 times. No bueno.
49ers 20, Cardinals 17-- 11-5 Arizona is a 4.5-point underdog at 7-8-1 Carolina in Wild Card playoffs next week. In one of the worst-kept secrets ever, Harbaugh and the 49ers parted ways about 90 seconds after this game ended. Keep in mind that in the eight years before they hired Harbaugh, 49ers were 46-82; change isn't always good.
Broncos 47, Raiders 14-- Denver had a 13-yard edge in field position; teams with an edge of 10+ yards in field position are 89-4 this season. Oakland split its last six games after an 0-10 start, but lost 52-0/31-13/47-14 in games after the wins. if Manning were to retire, would the Broncos dare start 2015 with Brock Osweiler as their QB?
Steelers 27, Bengals 17-- Regular season ends with bad beat for Bengal backers; Big Ben hit Brown on 63-yard TD pass with 2:50 left to put game away. Bengals now go to Indy next week; Steelers host the Ravens. Steelers got away with incredibly stupid fake punt which didn't work- they better hope Bell is healthy this weekend.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Kentucky 58, Louisville 50-- People have to stop saying how this Kentucky team is the best in the last 30+ years; if they played the 1989-90 UNLV team or the Jordan-Worthy-Perkins Carolina team, they'd be playing against great players who were 2-3 years older than them. They're really good, but college basketball isn't nearly as good as it used to be, since no one who is any good stays in college long.
12) Georgetown 91, Indiana 87 OT-- This was way better game to watch; Hoosiers led by 10 at half, made 13-31 from arc but couldn't put the Hoyas away. I'm sure the fine folks at ESPN were thrilled when this game went overtime and pushed the start of the over-hyped Kentucky game onto ESPN News.
11) Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun works for ESPN now and he isn't bad; he talks a lot slower than he did in interviews when he coached. He was lucky to be with former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, who is very good on TV.
10) Then there is Jay Bilas, who has replaced Dick Vitale as ESPN's #1 guy but isn't worthy of the position; he quotes Robert M Knight too much and rips the refs for a good part of each game. How about just talking about the game?
9) Underdogs covered all five Saturday bowl games, are 11-7 vs the spread in bowl games this year, going 9-9 SU so far. There have been six bowls involving ACC teams and the underdog covered all six of those.
8) Georgia 86, Mercer 77 3OT-- This is same Mercer program that beat Duke in the NCAAs last March but with lot of new players as they move to the SoCon. Would have been a bad loss for the Dawgs, but they dodged a bullet as they head into SEC play, where it is assumed that Kentucky will run the table.
7) Cleveland Browns suspended their best player, WR Josh Gordon for the last game this season; Gordon was great last year but was a knucklehead this year, appearing in only five games after a couple of suspensions. Suspending him this week costs him a year of service, meaning Gordon can't be an unrestricted free agent for another year.
6) Starting QBs for both Boston College/NC State started their college careers at Florida, where the mismanagement of the QB poisition has them changing coaches again this winter. Gators recruit lot of good players, but they haven't been developing them into better players once they get on campus.
5) In the early 60's, Chicago Cubs didn't have a traditional manager; they used a "college of coaches", eight men who alternated duties, but it failed because there wasn't one true leader who made decisions- it caused chaos and backbiting.
Now the New Jersey Devils won't have one head coach for the rest of this season, using three men to divide the coaching duties, but one of them is GM Lou Lamoriello, who I'm assuming would be the "boss" the Cubs lacked when they tried this method.
4) Arizona Coyotes beat Anaheim 2-1 in a shootout, when Shane Doan scored on a shot where he shattered the blade of his stick, totally fooling the goalie. Doan hasn't scored a goal at home this season, but he picked up a point for Arizona there.
3) Arizona announcers were talking about the NHL considering adopting the AHL's overtime format, where teams play a 7:00 OT, with first 3:00 being 4-on-4, then the last 4:00 3-on-3, before going to a shootout. They were saying only 25% of OTs in the AHL are getting to the shootout, which is appealing to the NHL.
2) My father raises an interesting question; Where does all the money go that the NFL collects for fines? Over course of a year, its a decent amount of cash.
1) Penn State 31, Boston College 30 OT-- How on God's green earth does a major college football program not have a competent kicker? Kid on BC made a 20-yard FG and his teammates mobbed him like he cured cancer. Same kid missed an extra point in overtime that decided the outcome.
Saturday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Alex Smith has a lacerated spleen and won't play Sunday; Chase Daniel gets his second career start; scary thing is the injury wasn't diagnosed until Thuirsday. Daniel made his other career start last year in Week 17, also against San Diego.
12) NBA/ESPN has to wise up and stop showing Knicks/Lakers every Christmas; they're both terrible. Lot of good teams they could show, ya know?
11) Random statistic: 41% of NYPD is Caucasian; 28% is African-American, 24% is Hispanic. Just thought you'd like to know.
10) TV shouldn't bother showing NBA huddles with the coaches miked unless they show the more interesting stuff that goes on in there. This is a business with millions of dollars at stake; don't try and tell me all the coaches talk like Mr Rogers in huddles, because thats not realistic.
9) Bad news for the Bronx Bombers; Hideki Kuroda has gone back home to Japan to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp. Right now, Chris Capuano is penciled in as one of the five Bronx starters-- they're going to wind up over-paying for Max Scherzer.
8) ESPN.com had great stat today; Colorado Rockies hitters had a .902 OPS at home last year, only .636 on road, so how do you judge Colorado players? Do players in high altitude get hurt more, because there is less oxygen in high altitude? These are ther questions teams have to consider when talking trade with the Rockies.
7) Iona's AJ English is leading D-I in scoring at 23.4 ppg; doesn't that seem low for a kid leading the country in scoring? Scoring is still going down in college ball.
6) Another odd stat, this one from ESPN's Dan Dakich: a freshman has made more foul shots than anyone in D-I so far this season. Maryland's Melo Trimble has made 85 of 94 foul shots, thats the most anyone has made to this point. Surprising.
5) Kawhi Leonard has a very unusual hand injury; a doctor told Gregg Popovich that he had been a doctor for 40+ years, had never seen a hand injury like Leonard's. San Antonio is really scuffling right now, they need Leonard back as soon as possible.
4) Was cool to see the Spurs treated the NBA championship trophy like the Stanley Cup last summer, letting every team member have it for a couple days- they can do whatever they like with it. Spurs have so many foreign players, the trophy made its way around the globe all summer long. .
3) West Virginia QB Clint Trickett isn't going to play football anymore, after he had five concussions in 14 months. Young man will follow in his dad's footsteps and go into coaching. his dad is the offensive line coach at Florida State.
2) Atlanta Hawks finally had a home sellout against a lesser opponent, and they go and lose to the Bucks by 30; Hawks really are having a good season, though
1) Utah Utes are doing well in football, but they've lost both coordinators since the season ended, and there are reports on the Interweb that coach Whittingham and the AD are having problems that might not be fixable, to the point where Michigan may hire Whittingham if the Jim Harbaugh thing falls through. Stay tuned.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with the weekend here.......
13) George Washington 60, Wichita State 54-- GW takes big stride towards getting into NCAAs by winning Diamond Head Classic in Hawai'i; this was an excellent win.
12) LMU 72, DePaul 69-- Blue Demons lost sixth game in row after a 6-1 start; how can the biggest-name school in Chicago be this bad every year? LMU had lost six in a row before this, the 7th-place game in Diamond Head.
11) Wizards 102, Knicks 91-- New York is now 5-26; their GM and coach make a combined $17M a year, despite fact that neither person had done their job before this season. This is not a textbook case of how to run a business.
10) Clippers 100, Warriors 86-- Golden State is now 2-3 in its last five games, after their 16-game winning streak, as Steve Kerr finds out the same thing Mark Jackson learned; Warriors are pretty ordinary when oft-injured Andrew Bogut doesn't play.
9) Somewhere in LA last night, Clipper assistant Mike Woodson sipped on a cool drink, looked at the NBA standings, saw the Knicks are 5-26 and had a small smile on his face. Woodson coached the Knicks for three years and did his darnedest to win with a team whose best player doesn't care about defense. Good luck with that.
8) Rickey Henderson stole 1,406 bases in his Hall of Fame career; is that a record that will never be broken?
7) How good would the Pitt Panthers be if Steven Adams had stayed in school another year or two, instead of jumping to the NBA? Of course, you could say that about few other teams, like Duke and Kentucky, but Adams wasn't thought to be a sure thing by any means in the NBA when he bolted Pittsburgh for the pro game.
6) I'm watching a replay of the Auburn-Ole Miss football game as I type this; does anyone know why kids in the south wear suits and ties to football games? Its been 20 years since I had a jacket and tie on for anything other than a funeral/wedding.
5) One thing I learned Thursday; Lebron James eats lefthanded.
4) When GW beat Arizona Thursday night, all the teams on Colonials' schedule were happy as hell-- it helps boost their resume too.
3) One of those teams is Seton Hall, which lost prize freshman Isaiah Whitehead for a while with a stress fracture in his foot.
2) UNLV jumped 16 slots, from #133 to #117 after its upset win over Arizona. First conference game for the Rebels is at Wyoming, tough place for a young team to win.
1) Arizona Cardinals announced early this week that rookie Logan Thomas will start at San Francisco Sunday; yesterday they switched back to Ryan Lindley. Next thing will be a return to Neil Lomax or Jim Hart under center. Cardinals are going to have to go on the road for the first playoff game next week; hard to have much faith in them.
Thursday's List of 13: Merry Christmas, everyone........
13) First of all, word of thanks to the staff at Veterans' Hospital in Albany, where my dad was for the last nine days. He is home now; the hospital staff was just so nice and helpful-- they have a difficult job and they do their best to do it well.
12) Western Kentucky 49, Central Michigan 48-- Hilltoppers led 49-14 after third quarter, wound up stopping Chippewas on a 2-point play after time expired to get its first-ever bowl win. CMU scored on a 75-yard play on the last play of regulation, on a combination Hail Mary/Music City Miracle, one of the greatest bowl plays ever.
11) While I'm here, if you're Central Michigan, it is really foolish to go for two and the win when you're the only game on TV; how much is TV exposure worth? You go to OT and get as much national TV exposure as humanly possible, right? Wouldn't it be more beneficial over the long haul to have more recruits see you play?
10) Rice 30, Fresno State 6-- This game was awful; luckily, there was a Law and Order marathon on TV to amuse me, on one of the worst TV nights of the year. Guy who coaches Rice seems like a friendly human-- he did good job after Owls lost their last regular season game 76-31 to Louisiana Tech.
Someone remind me why Fresno fired Pat Hill; they've regressed since he left.
9) A former walk-on player at Rice became a real estate magnate and recently gave the school $20M to refurbish the end zone in Rice Stadium, where a Super Bowl was once played in the 70's. The amount of fund raising that goes on at colleges is really staggering; you see a field or a court named after someone, you can assume the school cashed a huge check from that person's family/friends.
8) Do that many people go to the movies on Christmas? Why?
7) Houston Rockets signed Josh Smith, are trying to get something, anything for one of its spare perimeter players to make room for him. This is just me, but if Stan Van Gundy disliked Smith's game so much he ate $26M to get rid of him, then I would not be real anxious to sign the guy.
6) So the Pirates' $5M bid was enough to win bidding rights with Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang? What is this world coming to? Kang hit .356 LY in a league said to be about the same as AA minor league level. He is 27 and is supposed to be a pretty good hitter, though he may not be a major league-level shortstop defensively.
5) Stores around here are opening at either 6am or 7am Friday; are there people who will get up at 5:30am just to get to Penney's to shop, the day after Christmas? Have to feel bad for people who work retail; the hours around the holidays suck.
4) Very bad news for the Cleveland Cavaliers, losing Anderson Varejao for season with a torn achilles; he gave the Cavs a lot of positive energy. .
3) Average baseball salary this past season was $3,886,212, up over 12% from LY. Looks like the average salary next year will get over $4M for the first time.
2) There are now bowl games in Boca Raton and the Bahamas; how soon before there is a bowl game in Cuba?
1) Merry Christmas, everyone; enjoy your family and friends. There is no guarantee how long any of us will be here, we need to make the most of each day.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) UNLV 71, Arizona 67-- This was a legit upset; young Rebels hadn't played that well this year until this game. Wildcats' bench contributed only six points. UNLV has a 4-0 record in games decided by 4 or less points, but other three games were against Morehead State, Sam Houston State and Portland, not exactly top 25 teams.
12) At some point in March, Arizona's Final Four/national title run is going to depend on senior PG McConnell making an open jumper at a key time. I'm not confident he'll make it, but opposing teams are going to dare him to shoot the ball.
11) You know how some teams shoot t-shirts into the crowd during timeouts? Well, UNLV has a freakin' gatling gun that shoots out about 20 shirts in 10 seconds. Thing is wheeled onto the court by two people; haven't seen another one like it.
10) Wichita State 80, Hawai'i 79 OT-- Tremendous game won by the Shockers, who now play Geoprge Washington in the Diamond Head final Thursday. Felt bad for the Hawai'i kids, who played their hearts out but came up short.
9) Patriots opened up as an 8.5-point favorite over Buffalo, but game is now 4.5 or 5 points, raising questions as to whether Brady-Edelman-Gronkowski will play. Game means nothing to the Patriots, so they can do what they want here.
8) Hearing Johnny Manziel say how "I have to take my job more seriously" is tough to swallow; he has been in the NFL for a year, he played in the SEC, how does he not take his job seriously right off the bat? Browns have to be concerned about him.
7) Some college football pregame show needs to do a feature next fall on the nomadic nature of assistant football coaches. Take Doug Nussmeier; in the last three years, he has been a play-caller at Alabama, Michigan and now heads to Florida. This is not uncommon;lot of these guys move around like gypsies.
6) So I go in to VisionWorks to get my last free pair of glasses as a benefit from my old job; I get two free pair, as long as they cost $149 or less. If the glasses cost more than $149, you only get $30 off the tab. Lot of those glasses are pretty similar, except for the designer's name on them.
I'm supposed to pick up the glasses on New Year's Eve, but the guy tells me not to come in then, because "it'll be too crowded that day". He says lot of people come in to take advantage of their insurance before the year ends. I'll miss my free glasses.
5) University of North Dakota teams used to be called the Fighting Sioux, but they were forced to drop the nickname, because God forbid anyone be offended by a name of a hockey team. Few years later, UND still hasn't come up with a new nickname; whats the holdup, people? Prairiedogs is my suggestion to them. .
4) There is a commercial on latenight TV for Passages rehab center, where the guy who runs the place says "I was an addict for 10 years, but now I'm not". Wonder what the tab is for that place; I always heard once you were an addict, you always were. Hope the guy is legit; people's lives are depending on it.
3) Penn State is down to 41 scholarship players for its bowl game against Boston College Saturday; NFL teams dress 47 players for games. Lions also have walk-ons who play, but teams can have 85 scholarship players, so coach Franklin has some recruiting to do to replenish his roster next season. .
2) There is a minor league pitcher named Pat Venditte who pitched at Creighton; he pitches with both hands. He is in the A's system now, curious to see how they use him. With all the platooning teams do, could be an advantage to have him.
1) ESPN screwed up by letting Doug Gottlieb get away to CBS College Sports; he is the best college hoop analyst on TV, opinionated and smart. He doesn't sit there and bitch about the refs for two hours every night, like Jay Bilas, who is heir to ESPN's #1 analyst spot that Dick Vitale will be giving up one of these years.
Tuesday's List of 13: Random stuff on a rainy day......
13) Bengals 37, Broncos 28-- Cincy is in playoffs after this rainy win, which also clinched #1 seed in AFC for New England. Peyton Manning looked old in this game.
12) Temple 77, Kansas 52-- Huh? Owls lost to UNLV, St Joe's two mediocre teams, but they spanked the young Jayhawks here.
11) Providence 76, Miami 62-- Hurricanes had been unbeaten but have now lost three of their last four games. Good win for the Big East here.
Oklahoma had a 39-0 run in its win over Weber State, which apparently is down this year. Weber is usually one of the better teams in the Big Sky Conference.
10) Oregon 82, UCSB 78 OT-- For what I pay for DirecTV, they should carry the damn Pac-12 Network. Ducks are 9-3. Gauchos are a little disappointing.
9) Gardner-Webb 89, Purdue 84-- Runnin' Bulldogs from Boiling Springs, NC have wins over Clemson, Purdue, also have a loss to #340 Jacksonville- they're 8th-worst free throw shooting team in America, at 58.3%. .
8) Loyola Marymount has kids from six different countries on its basketball team this year. It is unfair to compare current LMU teams to the Kimble/Gathers team from the late 80's that made the Elite 8-- those two went to USC originally and transferred to Loyola after a coaching change with the Trojans.
7) Memphis 55, BYU 48 OT-- First Miami Beach Bowl had a thrilling end followed by a vicious brawl; do these nitwits realize the games are televised, so everything they do is on film? If you see the replay, check out #61 on Memphis, who looks around at the fisticuffs, quickly puts his helmet on and adjusts the chinstrap. Smart man.
Jake Elliott is the Memphis kicker; he drilled a 54-yarder in OT to keep Memphis alive; ball hit the net, might have been good from 64 yards. Clutch kick.
6) Colorado State replaced Jim McElwain with former Georgia QB Mike Bobo, who was most recently the Dawgs' OC. Hard for a Mountain West school to keep a good coach; if he wins big, the megabucks schools start calling and the mid-major has to go head-hunting all over again. .
5) Detroit Pistons cut Josh Smith, despite still owing him $26M for the rest of his contract. You know a coach has clout when he convinces management to eat $26M.
4) NFL suspended Lions' OL Dominic Raiola for stomping on another opponent this week; Detroit has to be relieved he didn't get suspended for two games, second of which would've been a playoff game. Last time the Lions won in Green Bay, the QB for Green Bay was Mike Tomczak and I still had most of my hair.
3) NFL teams who won field position by 10+ yards are 84-4 this season.
2) Seattle Seahawks won their last five games by a combined score of 114-33, but I do not think they're winning this Super Bowl. Its been nine years since the defending Super Bowl champ even won one playoff game.
1) Think about Russell Wilson being a 3rd round draft pick, just like Joe Montana was; Tom Brady was a 6th-round pick, Kurt Warner wasn't even drafted, while Ryan Leaf was the #2 pick in the whole draft. Scouting is an inexact science, for sure.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday......
Dolphins 37, Vikings 35-- Weird game with 41 points scored in 4th quarter; Miami won game by blocking punt for a safety with score tied in last 0:41, after they had tied game 30 seconds earlier. After game, Miami owner Ross announced that Joe Philbin will be back next season as Dolphins' coach, so good for him.
Packers 20, Buccaneers 3-- Green Bay just isn't the same offense away from home; they clinched playoff berth today, play Detroit for division title next week. Bucs had six first downs, gained 109 total yards- they've played this year without an NFL-level offensive coordinator. Lovie Smith needs to hire a good one this winter.
Lions 20, Bears 14-- Detroit is in playoffs; they play Packers next week for NFC North title and a first round bye. Bears were outgained by 133 yards; Clausen is now 1-10 as an NFL starter; this was his first start since 2010. Detroit had two TDs and a FG in six red zone drives. Jim Harbaugh-to-Bears rumors are getting stronger.
Falcons 30, Saints 14-- What were the odds of New Orleans losing five home games in a row? Saints were 36-11 SU at home from 2008-13, now they're out of playoffs and Drew Brees isn't getting any younger. Salary cap for next year will be $140M or so; Saints already have $160M in salary commitments for next year. Not good.
Patriots 17, Jets 16-- Gang Green is 3-12 and looking at sweeping changes, but they lost two games to Patriots this year by a combined three points. Edelman didn't make trip for this game; NE's only two TD drives were 36-38 yards; six of their last eight TD drives were less than 50 yards- their offense hasn't done much lately.
Steelers 20, Chiefs 12-- Pittsburgh is in playoffs for first time since 2011; they play Bengals next week for AFC North title. Chiefs have now lost four of last five games; they had three FGs on four red zone drives, even after a successful fake FG near goal line. KC needs to beat Chargers next week and get help to make playoffs.
Panthers 17, Browns 13-- Carolina is 6-8-1.......and in first place; they play Falcons next week in winner-take-all battle for NFC South title, but NFL didn't want game in primetime, so they put Bengals-Steelers on NBC instead. Johnny Manziel hurt his hamstring and left early; his rookie season didn't go too well.
Texans 25, Ravens 13-- Putrid exhibition by Baltimore team that needed a win, with 25 yards on 28 plays in first half. Ravens lost to team using its 4th-string QB who was sitting in a tree bow-hunting deer last Sunday. Houston had one TD on seven red zone drives; their only TD was thrown by RB Foster. Baltimore needs help to make playoffs now.
Giants 37, Rams 27-- St Louis needs a QB who can stay healthy and they need to grow up; too many times, they shoot themselves in foot with stupid, immature stuff that has given them a bad reputation with NFL refs, which is why they get penalized so much. They were down 10-0 in this game before offense took the field.
Raiders 26, Bills 24-- Major gag job by Buffalo team that wasted upset of Packers by losing to a 3-12 team. Bills' last winning season was ten years ago; they can still get to 9-7 next week, but they'll have to beat Patriot team that will need win for home edge in playoffs if the Broncos win in Cincinnati tonight.
Cowboys 42, Colts 7-- Indy had great fake punt dialed up when down 7-0; recevier dropped pass while wide open. Dallas wins NFC East, holding Indy team to one yard rushing and owning a 20-yard edge in field position. Teams that win field position by 10+ yards are now 84-4 this season; Vikings were 4th loser in Miami today.
Seahawks 35, Cardinals 6-- Coach Arians has kept Arizona's season pasted together despite a rash of injuries but there's only so much he can do; you can't beat good teams without a good QB. Total yardage was 596-216; Seattle can win NFC West by beating Rams last week; they lost first meeting this seaosn with St Louis. .
-- If the playoffs started this morning, they would look like this:
AFC-- 1) Patriots 2) Broncos 3) Bengals 4) Colts 5) Steelers 6) Chargers
NFC-- 1) Seahawks 2) Lions 3) Cowboys 4) Panthers 5) Cardinals 6) Packers
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Kentucky 83, UCLA 44-- Wildcats led 24-0; it was 41-7 at the half. This is same team that trailed Columbia and Buffalo at halftime. Kentucky has played much better against the bigger-name opponents.
12) Get well soon, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, who was found to have a problem with an unruptured aneurysm. He's a lucky man; those things can be fatal. There is no word when Cronin can resume coaching.
11) Villanova 82, Syracuse 77 OT--- Wildcats trailed by 15 in the first half, rallied to win a game Syracuse might need on Selection Sunday.
10) Big East/FOX Sports1 have a great idea, starting league play with five consecutive games on New Year's Eve; they did it last year too. Get to see the whole league in one day without switching the channel.
9) Texas Southern 71, Michigan State 64 OT-- Huh? Tigers are 2-8, losing by 40 at Gonzaga, 26 at Eastern Washington and Baylor. Terrible loss for the Spartans.
8) Gotham Classic was an odd twinbill at Madison Square Garden; first game was Pepperdine-Richmond, nightcap was West Virginia-NC State. They had a crowd of 8,088 in the supposed "....Mecca of college basketball". They draw 10,000+ for the play-in games in Dayton. New York City is more of an NBA city.
7) Gas is $1.99 a gallon in San Antonio; it is $2.89 here in upstate New York; we must be getting much higher quality gasoline, huh? Nah, probably not.
6) Former Texas football coach Mack Brown is very good on TV; listened to him on the New Orleans Bowl Saturday. Former coaches generally make better analysts.
5) Big day for some mid or low-majors Saturday: check out these upsets:
-- Texas Southern 71, Michigan State 64 OT
-- SC-Upstate 53, Mississippi State 51
-- St Francis 73, Rutgers 68
-- South Carolina State 71, Houston 63
-- Lehigh 84, Arizona State 81, 3OT
-- South Dakota State 68, Utah State 65 OT
4) I missed the whole nine-year Stephen Colbert run; supposedly he is a funny guy who takes his talents to CBS now. Colbert was once an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City Chicago- he is the youngest of 11 children, two of whom died in a plane crash with their father. Lot of comics have sadness inside them.
3) Roger Goodell announced there won't be an NFL team in Los Angeles next year, so that soap opera will continue next season. Supposedly for a new stadium to get built, two teams have to move, so they'll share the new stadium like Jets/Giants do in the New Jersey swamp.
2) Redskins 27, Eagles 24-- Philly ran 30 more plays, gained 190 more yards, but had 13 penalties, while Washington had three. Sanchez has turned the ball over 13 times in seven games-- you cannot win that way. Eagles aren't dead yet, but they're close.
1) Chargers 38, 49ers 35 OT-- Niners ran for 355 yards, led 28-7 at the half but lost with Rivers throwing ball for 356 yards. Gutty performance by the Chargers to stay alive in the playoff hunt. 49ers have fallen apart, losing last four games.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff on my first day as a retiree
13) Friday was my last day as a New York State employee, so I have a pension coming to me starting in a few weeks. It is nothing, though, compared to former used car dealer Alan R. Selig’s $6M a year retirement package from major league baseball. $6M a year…….for a pension!!!!! He’ll be making more than some utility shortstops.
12) Good news/Bad News Dept: Good news: Bill Clark was named Conference USA football coach of the year this week. Bad news: Clark doesn’t have a team to coach anymore, as UAB dropped football right after the season ended.
11) Knicks TV ratings are down 20% this season, which hurts their TV network quite a bit, seeing as Knicks/Rangers games are the only good things the network shows. If this pace keeps up, stockholders are expected to lose as much as $6M in profits from LY.
10) Not only did the Dodgers send Matt Kemp to San Diego, they send a moneybag to the Padres filled with $32M to help defray the cost of Kemp’s contract. San Diego has gone wacky the last 48 hours, making five trades during that time.
Giants added Casey McGehee to take Pablo Sandoval's place at third base.
9) Mets’ payroll last year was $52M less than it was in 2008, before they had a new, taxpayer-financed stadium. Mets are rumored to be discussing a Tulowitzki trade, but the shortstop has averaged only 88 games a year the last three years, so he is a huge gamble at his hefty salary.
8) Dallas Mavericks are really good but they’re still the #6 seed in the West, so they traded for Rajan Rondo to try and get better.
Interesting gamble by Mark Cuban, who finalized the deal while in the Green Room to go on the last Stephen Colbert show Thursday night.
7) With Derek Norris off to San Diego, that’s five of the A’s seven 2014 All-Stars who are no longer on the squad. Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle are all that’s left and they could be going soon, too.
6) Tennessee Titans added Carson Palmer’s brother Jordan to their roster to back up Charlie Whitehurst for last two games this season. Thursday was just Whitehurst’s 4th career start in ten NFL seasons, good work if you can get it.
5) Was looking at an NFL mock draft for next spring: the first seven guys were all underclassmen, with a LB from Clemson the first senior to be chosen by the mock drafters.
4) Boston College extended football coach Steve Addazio’s contact thru 2020, which sounds like a long time from now, but for current high school seniors who redshirt a year in college, that would be their senior year.
3) UConn’s hoop team is just 4-4 after losing to Duke, first time the Huskies have been 4-4 since 1986.
2) Golden State Warriors have a 92-home game sellout streak; will be curious to see if they retain their raucous following when they head to downtown San Francisco in a couple years, and if the new building is as loud as Oracle Arena.
1) At least seven bowl directors made at least $500K last year; why? According to CBSsports.com, in the last 12 years, the average pay for the directors of the top nine bowls has tripled. Must be nice to be in that exclusive club.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) Russell Wilson still only makes $667,000 from the Seahawks; haven’t heard much about this, but they have to have tried to sign him up to a long-term contract, right? He’s going to break the bank when his contract is up, one way or the other. Hard to believe they’d let him walk.
12) Too bad about Bucks’ rookie Jabari Parker, who messed up his leg and is done for the year. Milwaukee is a fun team to watch with a good core of young players; this injury really hurts.
11) Bears benched Jay Cutler for Jimmy Clausen? Really? Wonder what Packers think about that, since they’re tied for first place with Detroit, could use a Bears win. Inserting a new QB on a short work week usually doesn’t wind up going very well.
10) Guy on ESPN the other night made a good point about how since the NCAA went with a softer, composite basketball, rather than a leather ball, now and then you see shots take odd bounces off the rim, especially the back rim and go in.
9) Michigan offered Jim Harbaugh six years, $49M; they play 12 games a year, plus a bowl game. That’s a lot of cabbage to coach 13 games, but that must be how much money the Wolverines’ program generates when they’ve got it rolling. Been a while since they had it rolling.
8) Islanders are 9-0 in overtime/shootouts this year, first team ever to win their first nine such games in a season; Blackhawks are 5-1, Edmonton is sadly 0-6, which helped cost their coach his job.
7) Going to see Mark Wahlberg’s new movie The Gambler next week; I’m assuming this is a remake of James Caan’s 1974 movie, which was very good. One advantage of being retired from my day job will be matinee movies. Popcorn tastes better in the afternoon, although it is still ridiculously expensive.
6) Angels still owe Josh Hamilton $83M over the next three years; ha!!!! Hamilton knocked in 128 runs in 2012, then knocked in a total of 123 the last two seasons, while missing 84 (25.9%) out of 324 Halo games.
5) Of the 26 basketball teams in the AAC and ACC, only seven of them are in the top 200 in strength of schedule; they schedule stiffs in December because they know their conference schedule will be enough to raise their power ratings to acceptable levels. AAC is in danger of having one team in the NCAAs this season.
4) Bo Pelini is an adult; therefore, he has to know that in this day and age, there is no such thing as a truly “private” meeting. What he said on his way out the door in Nebraska will hurt his chances of getting another D-I head coaching job and it could hurt him wherever he recruits.
3) There is a new movie out called Wedding Ringer; the father-in-law in the movie is Ken Howard, who played Coach Reeves in The White Shadow, one of the all-time great TV shows. Haven’t seen him on TV much lately, but he is an excellent actor who nailed the part of a former NBA player who became a high school basketball coach in LA in the early 80’s.
2) Listening to Hubie Brown on NBA telecasts is like taking an online course in basketball coaching; highly educational, he is still sharp as a tack and a pleasure to listen to. Learn a lot every game.
1) When your football team is going to have its fifth coach in six years next season, the man who hired all those coaches comes under scrutiny, which is why Pitt fired AD Steve Pederson this week, after Paul Chryst bolted for Wisconsin (his alma mater).
Pitt expects better than 6-6 from its once-storied football program, they’re going to have to hire the new AD before they hire a new coach which is going to cripple this year’s recruiting, unless they move very quickly.
How odd is life? Pederson basically got fired because Gary Andersen surprisingly bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State. Chryst wouldn’t have left Pitt for any other job.
Thursday's List of 13: Our Bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL
32) Redskins—Jay Gruden was an Arena League head coach for a long time but the media involvement aspect of being an NFL head coach seems to be hampering his program. Memo to coach Gruden: This isn’t the AFL; millions of people read what you say. Try not to bash your QB every single day.
31) Bears—Jay Cutler has the worst body language of any QB I’ve ever seen; he is this generation’s Jeff George. Problem #2 is, he makes $100M+ and everyone knows it’s a bum contract. Problem #1 is the offensive coordinator said so publicly. Now he is sitting behind Jimmy Clausen this week. Jimmy freakin' Clausen.
30) Raiders—Would they really move to San Antonio? In the early 90’s, there used to be a World League team called the San Antonio Riders; I think Nebraska coach Mike Riley coached that team. It would be bizarre if the Raiders moved to Texas.
29) Jaguars—Tom Coughlin will get in the Hall of Fame someday; his best work was getting the Jags into the playoffs in their second year of existence. Seems like a long time ago now, for both parties.
28) Titans—Doing a good job of playing the Washington Generals-type role and losing every game down the stretch so they get the #1 pick in the draft, which is the best way for them to get better, long-term.
8) Cardinals— Ten weeks ago, Ryan Lindley wasn’t in the NFL; now he’s starting QB for the NFC’s #1 seed. No pressure there.
7) Steelers—Win two more home games and they win the AFC North; problem is, they’ve lost to the sub-.500 Bucs/Saints at home.
6) Cowboys—They should let Murray sit this week, to rest his hand and to lessen his workload, seeing as he is on pace for 401 carries this season. Tony Romo has been a warrior this year, for sure.
5) Colts—Offense gave up three TDs in last two games; am little concerned about them going forward. Interesting game with Dallas this week.
4) Broncos—I get the feeling this could be it for Peyton Manning; not really sure why, but could see him bowing out and eventually becoming part of an ownership group of an NFL team.
3) Seahawks—Playing really good defense, but unless they beat Arizona this week, they’ll have to go on road the first week of the playoffs, which is always dicey.
2) Packers—They’re #1 on this list when playing at home, much lower when on road, not in top 10 on artificial turf. Seattle’s field has artificial turf; they don’t want to go there in January.
1) Patriots—Did you see the Alex Sandler movie where Rex Ryan plays a guy who is a huge Patriot fan, with a Belichick bobblehead on his desk and a Brady poster on the wall? If you didn’t know who Ryan was, you’d never know he wasn’t an actor. He could be very, very good on TV, if he chooses that route.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Vanak Ranadive, new owner of the Sacramento Kings turns out to be a nitwit, a guy other NBA owners see as “…..a know-it-all” who compared coaching the Kings to coaching his 12-year old daughter’s team.
This is a guy who admits he never touched a basketball, not even once until he was in his 40’s, but he knows more than professional coaches. Oy. How do people like this get rich in the first place?
12) Kings fired coach Michael Malone with an 11-13 record, which for the Kings ain’t bad; they were 9-6 before DeMarcus Cousins got sick, are 2-7 since he’s been ill, but the problem is stylistic. Kings management wants the team to play faster, Malone is a defensive guy. So despite big man Cousins being Sacramento’s best player, they’re going to start playing faster; whether they win more remains to be seen.
11) Mr Ranadive suggested that the Kings play 4-on-5 on defense and have a guy basket-hang on the other end; this is professional basketball, the highest level of a great sport and this educated fool doesn’t know enough to let his people do their jobs.
10) Which reminds me, the LA Kiss of the Arena League were on a reality show this past season; one of their nitwit owners ordered the coach to onside kick after every TD the Kiss scored. The coach has won Arenaball titles, he’s a good coach but he had to do what the owner told him to do, so they onside-kicked every time in one game. Lets just say it didn’t go very well. There is a reason some things are the way they’ve been for a long time; its because the alternatives do not work.
9) Back in 2009, the Rams were truly awful; they were getting hammered in a home game against Minnesota, when Donnie Avery scored a TD to cut the Vikings’ lead to two or three TDs- the game wasn’t close, but Avery dances and carries on like he just won the lottery.
This stuff annoys me to no end and Avery is hardly the only offender; it happens every Sunday. Celebrating a TD like a jackass should be illegal after Halloween, if your team is behind and has a losing record. Pretend you care that your team sucks, instead of being full of yourself and being a damn fool.
8) Christmas music is uplifting, especially in malls this time of year, but if you haven’t seen Michigan State hoop coach Tom Izzo playing Jingle Bells on an accordion, get yourself to YouTube right now and find it—it is tremendous.
7) Amazing Stat of the Day—New Orleans Saints have had a great offense, but they haven’t scored a first quarter TD in their last ten road games. Ten. That’s well over a year and it is hard to fathom.
6) Deion Sanders’ old house is on the market for $12M; it has two bowling alleys in it. It would be so awesome to have a house with bowling alleys in it. Not sure if the $12M includes bowling shoes or if you have to rent those.
5) No matter what the NFC South winner’s record winds up as, and it looks like it’ll be under .500, they will not be able to draft higher than 21st, those are the rules, just like the Super Bowl champ always picks last in the first round.
4) Portland center Robin Lopez, the more durable of the Lopez brothers, broke his hand and will miss his first games in almost three years this week. Portland has a really good team, one of many strong teams out west who probably wish they were in the east.
3) Astros signed SS Jed Lowie to a 3-year, $23M contract; this was a guy they threw at multiple times LY, almost starting a fracas in one game with Oakland. Guess it was former manager Bo Porter who didn’t like Lowrie, since he is gone now and the Astros just made Lowrie very wealthy.
2) Still don’t think an under-.500 NFL team should make the playoffs; they should defer to a better team in another division with a winning record. Who would object to this?
1) Jeb Bush might be the greatest guy in the world, I know nothing about him except he was once governor of Florida, but I don’t want anyone else in that family (or the Clinton family) being President. Enough already.
I’d vote for Reggie Bush, Kurt Busch, former NFL center Blair Bush, August Busch, anyone but someone from that family. Go do something else. We need different, better leaders, not the same ol’ thing over and over.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Cowboys’ RB DeMarco Murray broke his left hand, probably won't play this week; he was on pace to carry ball 401 times this season, which means he was headed to Jamal Anderson-type burnout. 401 carries is too many; he could use a rest.
12) Will Muschamp has been hired as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, but he won’t be working the Tigers’ bowl game; why? He’s more valuable recruiting right now than coaching in a meaningless bowl.
Signing Day is in early February which means that recruiting season overlaps with bowl preparations. Bruce Feldman wrote an excellent book about this a few years ago; if you like college football, Meat Market is well worth your time.
11) Miami Hurricanes haven’t won a bowl game since 2006, which seems odd.
10) San Diego State is playing Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl; Aztecs won their last eight games against service academies and they play Air Force (best of the academy teams) every year.
9) Bryce Harper signed a 2-year deal with Washington for $7.5, couple days after he stiffed the team's fans by not showing up at FanFest, where obviously enough, fans can come and meet players and buy tickets and stuff. Cruddy move by Harper; shouldn’t stiff the fans.
8) Speaking of the Nationals, why are they so eager to unload Jordan Zimmerman? Good young pitchers are hard to find these days.
7) Miami Dolphins were outscored 48-3 in second half of their last two games, news that makes Jim Harbaugh’s agent smile. Price for Harbaugh goes up every week.
6) Odd stat of the day; Green Bay Packers were outscored in second half in seven of their last eight games- they’re also 1-4 on artificial turf this season.
5) Daniel Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999; since then, he’s employed eight head coaches and 16 starting QBs. In 16 years. Yikes. Snyder must be some kind of financial wizard; he had enough money to buy an NFL team when he was 34, and I’m pretty sure he made his own money rather than inheriting it.
4) Not to be outdone, Cleveland Browns have had 21 starting QBs since ’99, but they were an expansion team in ’99, and they figure to be settling in now on Johnny Manziel as their starter the next few years. At least they hope they are.
3) Burt Reynolds is selling off some of his stuff to pay bills; the Trans Am he drove in Smokey and the Bandit brought back $450K last week.
2) Lakers are 8-17 this season, but 7-8 since Nick Young returned to the lineup. Young is a loose cannon, but a loose cannon that can make shots and he’s helped take some heat off of Kobe Bryant down the stretch in games.
1) After watching a few episodes of Storage Wars, I’m guessing it can be annoying to live with an auctioneer; how would you ever get the last word in?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.......
Chiefs 31, Raiders 13-- KC had 19-yard edge in field position; teams who win field position by 10+ yards this season are now 80-3 SU. Field position and getting first downs to move the chains isn't talked about nearly enough on game telecasts. Chiefs had lost three games in row, so this breather came at a good time.
Ravens 20, Jaguars 12-- Baaltimore blocked punt for TD early on; six of first nine TDs that scored Sunday were scored by defense/special teams. Despite that, under is 12-2 this week, as offenses took the week off, even with no bad weather games. Jags play Tennessee Thursday night in a game neither side wants to win.
Steelers 27, Falcons 20-- AFC North is now 12-2-1 vs NFC South this year, which is why Carolina is 5-8-1 and in first place. Falcons did HBO's Hard Knocks this year; Miami did it last year. Both had terrible seasons. Good luck finding someone to do it next year. Steelers win AFC North if they win their last two games.
Colts 17, Texans 10-- Fitzpatrick/rookie Savage both got hurt in this game, meaning Houston will go with Thaddeus Lewis (2-4 as NFL starter) next week at home against Baltimore- they'll have to sign a backup off the street. NFL teams need to dress three QBs for every game; it hurts the product when you have a QB playing who has no backup for the rest of that game.
Bengals 30, Browns 0-- Manziel's debut was ugly but before he even took the field, Bengals drove .81 yards in 14 plays (took 7:07) to go ahead 7-0. Cincinnati ran ball for 244 yards, and Manziel doesn't play defense, but he has a lot to learn. Browns finish at Carolina and against the Ravens-- going to be interesting to watch, since it can't get much worse than it was in this game.
Patriots 41, Dolphins 14-- Jim Harbaugh's agent enjoyed this score. Nitwits will run amuck about New England's offense; in fact, they scored four TDs on offense; three of four came on a drive of 47 or less yards- they blocked a FG for a TD to start scoring very early in the game. Dolphins scored total of 43 points in last three games.
Panthers 19, Buccaneers 17-- 5-8-1 Carolina is atop NFC South as I type this; they won both games against the Bucs, and Cam Newton didn't play either game. Panthers had a 22-yard edge in field position; their only TD came on a 4-yard drive. Nine of 11 Bucs' drives started 80+ yards from goal line. Hard to score a lot that way.
Giants 24, Redskins 13-- Game turned on odd play at end of half; RGIII looked like he ran for a TD that would've put Washington up 17-7 at half, but ball slipped out of his hands as he dove for the goal line- he recovered in the air, but landed OB in the end zone and thats not a legal recovery, so Redskins didn't score at all on the drive.
Bills 21, Packers 13-- Green Bay is 1-4 on artifical turf, with only win at Minnesota by a FG. Rodgers was 17-42 passing, tough day with no TDs and two picks. Packers' game with Detroit in Week 17 could decide NFC North and a first-round bye. Buffalo can clinch a winning season by winning at Oakland next week.
Lions 16, Vikings 14-- Six of last eight Minnesota games were decided by three or less points, or in OT. Detroit was +2 in turnovers, had 11-yard edge in field position; their only TD came on an 11-yard drive. Vikings tried a 68-yard FG on last play of the game to win it; they would've had a better chance at hitting a Hail Mary.
Jets 16, Titans 11-- Gang Green had hard time beating Tennessee team that benefitted by losing- they're going for that valuable #1 pick in draft. Rex Ryan is getting fired so he has no reason to lose. Tennessee hasn't won a game since the baseball playoffs were going on, losing its last eight games (0-4 vs spread in last four).
Broncos 22, Chargers 10-- Denver won its fourth game in row, allowing 43 points in last three; they ran ball 39 times, dropped back to pass 23 times, with Manning sick-- he missed one series late in first half. Backup Osweiler didn't look too sharp in relief. Chargers are 3-5 in last eight games after starting season 5-1.
Seahawks 17, 49ers 7-- In 16 drives against Seattle this season, 49ers scored one TD with six 3/outs. Seahawks allowed total of 27 points in last four games-- they go to the desert to face Arizona and its third-string QB next week. 49ers are 7-7, as speculation begins as to who their next coach will be.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) White Sox signed Melky Cabrera to a 3-year contract as they escalate their spending war with the Cubs in the Windy City. Both teams should sell a lot more season tickets in 2015.
12) Albany 77, Siena 68-- My alma mater beats their crosstown rival for third year in row and 4th time in five years, in front of 10.278 at the Times Union Center. Why do I mention this? Because every time they play its a Siena home game, which is BS.
11) Siena should play in Albany's gym now and then, even if teams play a second game some years; its only fair. Not like Siena's team is superior; they've lost four of the last five meetings. Siena plays in a better league, is more popular with local fans, but fact of the matter is, both teams do well in their respective leagues. Its spineless to duck playing in SEFCU Arena- Albany's administration should tell Siena to take a hike unless they get a home game in the series now and then. .
10) Kansas 63, Utah 60-- Utes were down 21 in this game, stormed back; at the end of the day, they may have gotten more out of this game than the Jayhawks, who are very thin at point guard. Utah will finish near the top of the Pac-12.
9) VCU 93, Northern Iowa 87, 2OT-- Panthers lose for first time this season in the best game of the day. Much-needed non-conference win for the Atlantic 14.
8) Notre Dame 83, Florida State 63-- Seminoles lost leading scorer Thomas (grades) for the season, looked lost Saturday without him.
7) Greg Chalmers beat Adam Scott on the 7th playoff hole to win the Australian PGA very late Saturday night. Chalmers shot a 64 to get into the playoff.
6) Gonzaga 87, UCLA 74-- Bulldogs lost in OT at Arizona last week, needed this win to establish themselves as second-best team on west coast.
5) Dave Winfield/Jimmy Connors were sitting next to each other in this game; Dick Vitale ran over to get his picture taken with them. Connors was tossed from a UCSB hoop game last year for being too boisterous with the refs. Hard to believe, huh?
4) Late in the game, Vitale said this: "Steve Alford hates to lose." Is there a coach out there who doesn't hate to lose?
3) Meanwhile former UCLA coach Ben Howland has surfaced as a studio analyst on FOX Sports1; hard to believe he's not coaching somewhere, but he priced himself out of the Oregon State job last spring. Someone will hire him this offseason.
2) I'm in my mid-50's and still can't convert yards to meters; I didn't forget how, I just never learned. Nitwit. I know 100 meters is longer than 100 yards, just don't know how much longer. Realized this watching the golf tournament from Australia, when the caddy was discussing chip shot distances in meters.
1) If the guy in the Dos Equus commercials is the Most Interesting Man in the World, then NY Post columist Phil Mushnick is the Most Miserable Man in the World. If you're not from New York or have never read the Post, I highly recommend reading his work-- he rarely has a good word for anything, criticizing everyone from talk show hosts to show-off athletes with a very biting style. Makes me laugh every day.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) 2015 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $140M; the Saints already have $160M in salary commitments for next year, so their chances of improving on this year’s dismal season aren’t great- they’re going to have to purge players, not the best way to improve.
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze jumped into the top 10 of highest-paid college football coaches for next year, at around $4.3M a year. His nine assistants make a total of $2.6M a year. Side note: Chris Kiffin (brother of Lane, son of Monty) is an assistant coach for the Rebels.
11) Miami Marlins are assembling a pretty good pitching rotation: Fernandez-Latos-Cosart-Haren-Alvarez, with Tom Koehler sixth starter. Pretty solid with some depth. Curious to see if they bat Yelich or Gordon leadoff.
10) Wisconsin’s AD (former football coach) Barry Alvarez is coaching in his second bowl game in three years; you see two head coaches bolt Madison in three years with Alvarez taking over after each left and you can’t help but wonder if he ever totally yields control of the program to his head coach.
9) Baylor OC Philip Montgomery is the new football coach at Tulsa; he has the Baylor offense on his resume, but can he recruit enough Baylor-type players to win in the AAC?
8) 900 media credentials were issued for baseball’s winter meetings this year; I’m wondering if this website couldn’t get a credential for next year’s meetings—might be a fun event to go to.
7) When Paul Chryst leaves Pitt for Wisconsin as expected (he can’t get hired until Wednesday because of some hiring law), Pitt will be the sixth bowl team (of 76) to go bowling without its head coach. Curious to see how high that number is going to get.
6) In case you care about such things; before Thursday night, last NFL game without a touchdown was 12/16/12—Raiders 15, Chiefs 0.
5) You read about the dysfunction within the Redskins/Bears and by comparison, the Jets seem like just an ordinary terrible team with no issues other than performance. Chicago’s OC threw QB Cutler under the bus then it came out that it was him who told the writer about “buyer’s remorse” and he has to apologize to the team. Could be new coaches in the Windy City next year.
4) Top three picks in Chad Ford’s mock NBA Draft on ESPN.com:
1) Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2) Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
3) Emmanuel Mudiay, playing pro ball in China.
3) College of Incarnate Word is in San Antonio; they’re a new D-I basketball team that is making no secret of their intention to use D-I hoops as a way to market the school better. CIW won at Nebraska this week, but isn’t eligible for the NCAAs until 2018; looks like they’ll be making some noise in the Southland Conference as they bide their time waiting for 2018.
2) An attempt to steal 7,500 pair of Lebron James sneakers was foiled this week; real cost of the sneakers is apparently $83.10 a pair, so that’s $623,250, but they sell for $200 each, so that’s a total of $1.5M the shoe buyers would’ve been out if thieves had successfully stolen the sneakers.
1) Sunday’s Bengal-Brown game is being broadcast into 43% of American homes Sunday, primarily because of Johnny Manziel making his first NFL start.
Before it was announced he was starting, very few people outside of Ohio were going to see the game, which is an important game with playoff implications. Manziel is marketing gold; Jerry Jones will probably be sick if he turns out to be a star, since he wanted the Cowboys to draft the former Texas Aggie star.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) Dodgers made lot of moves in last 36 hours, acquiring Rollins/Kendrick as a new double play combination, adding Brandon McCarthy as a #4 starter, dealing Drew Butera to Anaheim; addition of Chris Heisey signals that Matt Kemp is probably on his way out (San Diego??) too.
12) Cubs are now only 12-1 to win the World Series after adding Lester/Hammel and catcher Montero, who is an upgrade behind the plate; could use an OF with some pop, but have to give the owner credit. He’s trying hard to put a winner on the field.
11) Irony Dept: Miami Beach Bowl is being played in a domed stadium (Marlins Park). Hope they at least open the roof for the game. Marlins very seldom open the roof for their games.
10) Texas Rangers added Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson to their 40-man roster so he wouldn’t be eligible to be nabbed in the Rule 5 Draft; why? He hit .220-ish as a minor league 2B in his days as a Colorado farmhand. He’s about to cash in bigtime with the Seahawks; not sure what this baseball stuff is all about.
9) Big night for hoops in South Dakota Tuesday; South Dakota State won at Saint Louis, South Dakota lost in double OT at Creighton. Summit League has some pretty good basketball. Coyotes have UNLV coming to town Saturday, in one of the weirder road trips you’ll see—are there non-stops between Vegas and Vermillion, SD?
8) Michigan lost consecutive games to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, now they visit Arizona next. Oy.
7) Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty got a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA, great news for the Hilltoppers next season; Doughty has been a highly productive passer for WKU’s prolific offense.
6) Apparently Jeff Fisher is good friends with former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, which may explain why Fisher trolled Washington by sending his six RGIII-related draft picks out for the coin toss Sunday. Things did not end well between Shanahan and the Redskins and they’re not going too well for Washington this year, either.
5) Red Sox started patching up their depleted pitching rotation by adding Wade Miley from Arizona Wednesday night, then added Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to it Thursday. Detroit gets Yoenis Cespedes as he enters the walk year of his contract- Tigers' lineup is going to be very strong this season.
4) Guy on ESPNews was interviewing Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio Tuesday, only he introduces him as “Mike Dantonio”. First thing that goes thru my head is: “Does Dantonio correct him or not?”
Before I can think too much, Dantonio interjects “Its Mark” with a slight smile. Guy who works for ESPN should not be making that mistake.
3) In the NBA, Western Conference teams are 77-31 against the east, 64-44 vs spread, 25-14 when an underdog.
2) Wisconsin lost football coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas couple years ago, because Badgers wouldn’t pay his assistants enough; now Gary Andersen leaves Madison for Oregon State after two solid (19-7) years in Madison.
Is one thing to lose a coach to the SEC; its quite another for a guy to bolt a top-level Big 14 program for Oregon State. These assistant coaches in college football make a lot of cash and lot of them lead a nomadic existence. Andersen apparently didn’t feel he could keep his staff together in Madison, so he bolted.
1) Cardinals 12, Rams 6-- Les Snead is GM of the St Louis Rams; between now and next summer, he has one job and only one job. Find a bleeping quarterback.
Thursday's List of 13: Our top 8, bottom 5 in NFL.......
32) Redskins—A complete train wreck. Sonny Jurgensen could come out of the radio booth and play and they’d be better off; except he’s 80. They paid a king’s ransom to draft RGIII, but the kid doesn’t do classwork necessary to excel on the field. Whoops. They’ll have a very interesting offseason.
31) Titans—Trailed at halftime the last two weeks, 23-0/24-0; have feeling they’re trying not to win, since the coach is secure and they’d be better off with #1 pick, either to trade or draft a cornerstone player. Not trying is bad.
30) Jets— Losing every week when you ARE trying might be worse; Rex Ryan is auditioning for his next job, Geno Smith is terrible and Michael Vick is just trying to replenish his bank account. They just need to start over, much like an expansion team; it would be an easier fix that way.
29) Raiders—Will be part of Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes; they’ve lived thru salary cap hell, should be able to improve their roster in the offseason. Tough division, but at least they think they’ve found their franchise QB.
28) Jaguars—If Giants can Tom Coughlin and I had a bad NFL team, I’d be tempted to bring Coughlin in to run my program, not as a coach but as the President, establish an infrastructure on what a team should be like, from top to bottom. This would work.
8) Cowboys—Needed 10-day break, especially the defense, Romo’s back; rematch in Philly Sunday night is a big game.
7) Chargers—You wonder how things would’ve been different in the ’04 draft had Eli Manning agreed to play for San Diego, the Steelers took Philip Rivers and the Giants Big Ben. I firmly believe Rivers is as good as Manning and both are a cut below Roethlisberger, but Rivers is the one without a Super Bowl ring. I mean, Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl and Dan Marino didn’t; life is weird sometimes.
6) Colts— Indy’s receivers had trouble getting open on a grass field in December in Cleveland Sunday, something to think about when the playoffs roll around; Reggie Wayne is playing hurt and it shows. Indy-Dallas game next week is in a dome, should be entertaining.
5) Seahawks—Have feeling this week’s game with 49ers will be a fierce struggle, the Niners’ last stand in the Harbaugh era. Teams looking for a new head coach have to stop just looking at Seattle defensive gurus; maybe the head coach is the reason that defense is so good.
4) Broncos—Its hard to watch Denver play the last three weeks and not wonder if Peyton Manning is hurt or has a sore arm; they’re just so much different now. He threw only 20 passes against the Bills; that’s usually below his halftime numbers. Maybe its just me being a conspiracy theorist, but its hard to envision them winning the AFC this year.
3) Cardinals—Probably too high at #3; hopefully they’ll lose in St Louis tonight and I can drop them next week. Love the aggressive nature Arians coaches with, but he has to temper with no viable backup now behind Stanton.
2) Patriots—If not for Robert Kraft buying this team 20+ years ago, the Patriots would’ve moved to St Louis and the Rams would be playing in Hartford. That’s a better what-if game than the Rivers-Eli-Big Ben thing.
1) Packers—Everyone who thinks these teams on TV know it all, here are two things:
a) Aaron Rodgers didn’t get a college scholarship out of high school
b) As many people thought the Colts should’ve drafted Ryan Leaf out of college as Peyton Manning. Manning is still an All-Star; Leaf just got released from prison.
Sometimes, you just never know.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) I’m guessing Tuesday was a good day to be a White Sox season ticket salesman, with team adding Samardzija/Robertson. Pale Hose are making a run at the playoffs this coming season.
12) Guy in Las Vegas hit a $15 12-team parlay this week that paid him just under $45,000; his last game was Atlanta +12.5. Imagine sitting there with him when the Falcons were down 31-7 at the half?
Had to be kind of exciting in those last few minutes. Would’ve sucked to go 11 for 12 and wind up with bupkus. (Hope he hedged the bet, at least)
11) Cam Newton was in a car accident Tuesday afternoon near Panthers’ stadium; he has a couple breaks in his lower back, is in the hospital and not expected to play Sunday against Tampa Bay. Derek Anderson is the Panthers' backup QB.
10) Not only was it a dismal December day Tuesday, with freezing rain/sleet/icy roads, but I looked at mlbdepthcharts.com and saw they had Ike Davis batting 5th in the A’s prospective lineup for next season. Bleeping fifth. Oy.
9) One of unspoken benefits of the college football playoff: no one talks about the Heisman Trophy anymore; thank the Lord. Before this year, they’d start talking about it in September. Team stuff is always more interesting than individual stuff.
8) There is an NBA ref named Ben Taylor who is only 29 years old; he worked the intense Phoenix-Clipper game Monday night. 29 seems young to be an NBA ref.
7) I don’t give a rat’s ass about the royal family; they could be very nice people for all I know, but what have they done? What do they do? They’re rich/famous for no reason, like reality TV stars. Please go away.
6) UNLV hired a high school coach as its new football coach; Tony Sanchez from Bishop Gorman in Vegas. Keep in mind that Art Briles, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze were all high school coaches at one time, and they’re doing pretty well now. Sanchez needs to recruit some of his Gorman players to make UNLV relevant on the gridiron, one of whom is Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dawg’s son.
5) Tennessee replaced UAB with Bowling Green on next year’s football schedule; UAB dropped football, rifle and bowling last week, for $$$ reasons.
4) Which begs the question, how much does it cost to fund a freakin’ bowling team? Does the bowling coach fly to the northeast to recruit a kid out of a duckpin league in Boston? Does he take a private jet to fly cross country to Vegas to find a kid in Rock ‘n Bowl at Red Rock Casino? Seriously, dropping bowling just seems un-American.
3) NFL record for most receiving yards in a game is Flipper Anderson’s 336, set on a Sunday night in 1989 against the Saints; was looking at some highlights from that season and it turns out when Anderson caught the winning TD in overtime in a playoff game against the Giants later in that ’89 season, the ref was Bob McElwee, who ten years later was also the ref when the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV, the greatest sporting event ever played.
Good man, Bob McElwee.
2) Green Bay Packers are 9-0 on grass, 1-3 on artificial turf, the one win by a FG in Minnesota. Packers play on a short week in Buffalo this week. On turf. Hmmmm
1) RIP actor Ken Weatherwax, 59, who as a child played Puggsley Addams on the Addams Family, one of my favorite shows as a kid. 59 is too young to die, for sure. He’s probably in heaven today blowing up toy trains with Uncle Fester. RIP, sir.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Either Baylor/TCU got hosed out of going to the 4-team playoff because the Big X doesn’t have a championship game, which they can’t because it’s a 10-team league (have to have 12 for a title game). Does this mean they add Cincinnati/UConn and go to 12 teams? It’s a question they have to consider, or this could happen every year. Downside to that is they’d have to split their $$$ 12 ways instead of 10. Interesting decision they have.
12) Looked it up this weekend: Pete Rose got on base 5,929 times in his career, most of anyone in baseball. He never cheated; how does he not get in the Hall of Fame? He wasn’t perfect, he broke rules and paid a very public price for it. Time to move on and give him the plaque he has more than earned.
11) Jeff Fisher sent out six captains Sunday for Rams’ game in Washington: the six guys the Rams have as a result of the RGIII trade with the Redskins. Wow, talk about thumbing your nose at someone; then he faked a PAT in the third quarter, when the Rams led 15-0 and that worked. Daniel Snyder must’ve had a fairly lousy Sunday.
10) 49ers are 43-17-1 under Jim Harbaugh, but everyone expects him to leave after this season; keep in mind they were 46-82 in the eight years before he got there. I would be very, very slow to let him walk, but its not my decision.
9) Big 14, a Midwestern college sports league that also has Rutgers (New Jersey), Maryland and Penn State, announced their 2018 basketball tournament will be in Madison Square Garden, the week before its traditional date. So Michigan-Indiana-Ohio State-Wisconsin et all will be trudging off to the Big Apple for five days of fun? How does this make sense? Will they schedule non-league games for the next week, when all the other big conferences are having their tournaments?
8) ACC won the first ten ACC-Big 10 basketball challenges, but since the conferences scrambled to accommodate football, the Big 14 is 4-0-2 in the last six. ACC really weakened itself in basketball when it added Virginia Tech, Boston College and to a lesser extent, Miami and Florida State (though Miami is very good this year). Football money seems to speak loudest of all in college sports.
7) Carolina Panthers are 4-8-1 and a half-game out of first place in the NFC South; that’s how weird this season has been.
6) In his last five games, Carolina rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin has been targeted 47 times but caught only 21 balls, which helps explain why the Panthers had been struggling to win games; Cam Newton needs him to keep up his high level of play, since he is by far their best option at WR.
5) Nick Markakis got $44M for four years from Atlanta, which seemed (relatively) kind of low but then we find out he may need neck surgery this winter, which explains a lot. He’s a good player, a dependable player and will help the Braves.
4) Former NY Knick/US Senator Bill Bradley called Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to tell him that watching the Spurs play rekindled his enthusiasm for NBA basketball. What a compliment!!! Bradley is a brilliant guy who thrived as a shooter for the Knicks team that was two titles in the early 70’s; he’s written several books and if politics wasn’t so TV-centric, could’ve been elected President. He’s not a glad hander or a BS artist, so he never made it as far as he should have.
3) Houston Cougars fired football coach Tony Levine, so four of 76 bowl coaches won’t be coaching that team in their bowl game this season. Curious to see how high this numbers gets; every high major coach that gets fired sets off a domino effect.
2) A’s traded Brandon Moss to Cleveland for a AA infielder Monday, 3rd of their seven All-Stars from LY to already be off the team, then sent Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox- they might as well trade Sean Doolittle; who needs a closer when you’re never going to be ahead in the ninth inning? Not going to recognize the 2015 A’s, at least not in spring training or in April. Awesome.
1) Packers 43, Falcons 37-- In their last six home games, Green Bay outscored its opponents 184-30 in the first half, an average of 31-5.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday.......
Ravens 28, Dolphins 13-- Miami led 10-0, wound up getting outgained 447-249, as we wonder if losing to one Harbaugh brother increased their chances of being coached by the other Harbaugh brother next year. Fish are 2-3 in last five games after laying an egg in last two games LY when they were 8-6. Miami owner Ross is a Michigan alum.
Steelers 42, Bengals 21-- Cincy led 21-17 after third quarter; Pitt gained 229 yards on 20 plays in fourth quarter, scoring 25 points to pull away for the win. Last week Bengals were only team in division to win; this week, they were only one to lose. Pitt had five plays of 20+ yards, all on first down-- they were more aggressive today.
Giants 36, Titans 7-- How does Jameis Winston look in powder blue? Tennessee lost its last seven games, covering one of last six; they allowed 41.3 ppg in last three games. Giants snapped 7-game losing streak. Giants had a 14-yard edge in field position; this week, teams with a 10+-yard edge in field position were 6-0 (70-3 for season).
Vikings 30, Jets 24 OT-- Minnesota scored on 87-yard pass in OT, so if you had the Jets +4.5, this was a tough one. Jets had ball in red zone five times, kicked four FGs and lost a fumble, which is really where they lost this game. Vikings won four of last six games, covered six of last seven.
Colts 25, Browns 24-- Indy turned ball over four times (-2) with two run back for Cleveland TDs; Colts were 0-2 on 2-point conversions, but they scored a TD when they had to, getting winning score with 0:32 left. You lose at home when you score two defensive TDs, it might be time to change QBs, I'm just sayin'......
Texans 27, Jaguars 13-- Jags and Oakland won't be drafting QBs, so if Tennessee takes Winston, who takes Mariota? (or other way around) Will a mediocre team like Houston trade up to grab someone they think is The Answer? Texans scored three TDs in this game. on drives of 52-84-26 yards. Jags led 13-10 at the half.
Panthers 41, Saints 10-- Home side won Saints' first seven games, lost their last six, with New Orleans losing its last four home games; they've allowed 27+ points in their last five games, giving up 271 rushing yards to a Carolina team that was 1-8-1 in its last ten games coming in. Who replaces Rob Ryan as Saints' DC next year?
Lions 34, Buccaneers 17-- Tampa Bay lost eight of last nine games, with one win by three TDs over Washington; how awful are the Redskins? Stafford was 8-for-9 for 158 yards and a TD targeting Calvin Johnson. Bucs ran ball 14 times for 26 yards in whole game; they might be a team interested in Mariota in April's draft.
Rams 24, Redskins 0-- St Louis scored 83 points since last time they allowed one; you say they played Raiders/Redskins, I say Oakland beat Chiefs/49ers in last three weeks. Kicker Zuerlein kept Washington in game in first half by kicking like Charlie Brown, missing a PAT and 28/38-yard FGs. Jay Gruden must really dislike RGIII.
Broncos 24, Bills 17--- Was theory on Twitter late Sunday that Peyton Manning is hurt, since Denver is playing timidly on offense since loss in St Louis. Broncos had a 23-yard edge in field position but didn't cover, with Bills scoring twice in last 11:00. Buffalo had 77-49 edge in plays run, both teams turned it over three times. Broncos ran ball 29 times, threw it 20-- what does that say?
Cardinals 17, Chiefs 14-- Arizona was beneficiary of terrible replay reversal with 5:23 left; they ruled Chiefs' TE Kelce fumbled on Arizona 16, when it was fairly clear he did not. KC didn't score in second half, lost third game in row. Cardinals stay two games ahead in NFC West with three to play. I can't stand watching Alex Smith play; reminds me of the 70's Rams with Pat Haden. Take some chances, man!!!!
Raiders 24, 49ers 13-- Oakland won two of last three games, lost 52-0 in between the wins; seems apparent that Jim Harbaugh won't be with the 49ers next year, so where does he go and who replaces him? Next coaching staff better have a QB guru, someone who can make Kaepernick a more accurate passer.
Seahawks 24, Eagles 14-- Total yardage: 440-139. Philly misses DeSean Jackson; their WRs are lot less explosive than last year. Last time Eagles played game decided by less than 10 points was October 26. Cowboys-Eagles is big game next week. Who thought Mark Sanchez would be in the middle of a pennant race?
Patriots 23, Chargers 14-- NFL has to make hits by DBs reviewable, as far as hits to the head go. Patriot DB had a great hit on Green last night, causing an INT; there was no head-to-head contact, it was shoulder-to-shoulder but it was violent so they threw a flag. Nowadays you get penalized for doing your job too well.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Top six teams in the college football rankings all won; how does the committee not take the same four teams that were #1-4 last week?
12) Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0-- Epic tank job by the 10-3 Badgers, whose AD is on the selection committee; ESPN's Dan Dakich threw in that he was Urban Meyer's next-door neighbor when both were head coaches at Bowling Green. If I'm affiliated with TCU this morning, I'm really, really nervous that we're going to get screwed.
11) Florida State 37, Georgia Tech 35-- Seminoles are 13-0, 3-10 vs spread; Jameis Winston is 27-0 as a college quarterback. Jimbo Fisher didn't sleep well last night, in spite of not having lost a game in two years.
10) Oklahoma State 38, Oklahoma 35 OT-- Bad game management cost Sooners this game; up 7 with 1:00 to go, Oklahoma punted and Cowboys fair-caught ball on their own 10, something like that, but State ran into the punter, so for some reason, Oklahoma decides to punt again and the kidr runs it back 92 yards for the tying TD, then wins the game in OT. Just a bad mistake.
9) St John's 69, Syracuse 57-- Would love to hear what Coach Boeheim says about joining the ACC, off camera and behind closed doors. This is not a real good Syracuse team, hard to envision them in the NCAAs this season.
8) Arizona 66, Gonzaga 63 OT-- Good game, but Bulldogs were fouled shooting a 3 with 0:03.3 left in OT and missed all three foul shots, giving Arizona a comeback win on its home floor. You could see these teams meeting again in March.
7) NJIT 72, Michigan 70-- Highlanders lost by 17 at Albany, lost to UMass-Lowell twice; thats not the Minutemen, thats UMass-freakin'-LOWELL. NJIT trailed 8-0 at the start, then made 11-17 from arc as they jumped from #293 to #261. Oy.
6) North Florida 73, Purdue 70-- Ospreys is a cool nickname; North Florida has a coach named Matt Driscoll (not the Syracuse mayor), who 20 years ago was the head coach at Laroche College; his mentors are Larry Shyatt and Scott Drew, interesting contrast in styles. Purdue was off to a 6-1 start before this happened.
5) Green Bay 68, Miami 55-- This score just makes no sense, though Green Bay does have a very good PG in Kiefer Sykes.
4) Towson State plays Georgetown today; Tigers probably won't win, but they're 50-25 over the past 2.5 seasons, after being 1-31 three years ago. Some bigger school is going to give Pat Skerry a chance to run its program this spring.
3) Golden State 112, Chicago 102-- Warriors have now won 12 in a row, but their owner took an unnecessary shot at former coach Mark Jackson, bragging how the team is better with him gone now. 19 games into an 82-game season is a bit early for that.
2) When you look at NFL teams nad how they do on drives that start 80+ yards from goal line, these teams do the best:
Patriots 2.66 points/drive, Packers 2.47, Saints 2.33, Ravens 2.21, Colts 2.14
1) Teams that do the worst driving ball from own 20 or worse field position:
Vikings 0.63, Jaguars 0.74, Raiders 0.78, Bucs 0.97, Jets 1.07, Titans 1.16.
Saturday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Colts @ Browns—How long is Brian Hoyer’s leash here? If he struggles early, do we see Johnny Manziel again? Browns are still in playoff race, but Hoyer has thrown six picks in last three games.
12) Florida State better come to play against run-happy Georgia Tech, which will run the option over and over until you stop it. Would advise the Seminoles not to fall behind 23-7 here, the way they did at Miami.
11) Buffalo (and former Denver) QB Kyle Orton returns to Mile High City with a 7-5 Buffalo team that has a shot to make playoffs first time since 1999. Curious to see if Broncos stay as run happy as they were the last couple weeks.
10) Now that the 76ers won, when will they get win #2? If they started winning a lot of games, would they fire the coach for screwing up their tanking blueprint? When do they decide their roster is good enough to actually start trying to win?
9) Miami should run ball more now that NT Haloti Ngata is suspended for the Ravens; he is the anchor of Baltimore's defensive line and will be missed in a big way.
8) Gonzaga visits Arizona Saturday afternoon, in a battle of west coast titans; it’s a game where the result could effect seeding on Selection Sunday in March.
7) Saints lost their last three home games, are still tied for first in NFC South. Carolina is 1-8-1 since a 2-0 start; they were 12-4 last year, that’s how fine a line there is between winning and losing in the NFL. Atlanta is a double digit dog Monday night, so Saints can grab first place with a win here.
6) Steelers-Bengals play twice in last four weeks of regular season; with Cincy having a 1.5-game lead in division, Pitt might need a sweep to win the division. Steelers ave up 35 points to Saints last week and NO didn’t target Jimmy Graham once the whole game. Go figure.
5) Chiefs visit Arizona in a game between teams who really need a win. Cardinals’ lead in NFC West is slipping away; Chiefs are in a huge logjam at 7-5 for the AFC Wild Card.
4) Ohio State is down to its #3 QB when they play Wisconsin for the Big 14 title. This is why some QBs struggle in the pros; in college, a kid from Ohio State or Florida State is surrounded by superior talent. In the NFL, talent level is lot more even, and QBs need to make plays and be difference makers.
3) Patriots hunkered down in San Diego all week, practicing in nice weather as opposed to freezing their butts off all week in New England. NE won four of last five games with Chargers, winning two of last three visits here. Good Sunday night game.
2) If Missouri beats Alabama in the SEC title game, the conference won’t be represented in the first college football playoff. Think the game officials will be aware of that? Mizzou is in this game for the second year in a row, so they shouldn’t be awed by the surroundings. Has to be tough for Alabama to get up for a game after the intensity of the Iron Bowl last week.
1) Seahawks-Eagles could be preview of NFC title game; Pete Carroll coached Mark Sanchez in college, will be interesting to see how he does coaching against him. Seattle needs win to keep heat on Arizona in NFC West. Dallas’ win Thursday makes this an urgent game for the Iggles.
Friday's List of 13: A totally non-sports List of 13.............
Was talking to someone the other day who I’ve known for a long time; we were talking about visiting San Antonio and the person finally said “Are you just saying you like it because they have a good basketball team?” like I was incapable of having non-sports thoughts. So with that in mind, we have a non-sports List of 13 today.
I wrote all of this, really………
13) An afternoon in a veterans’ hospital is a sobering experience, so many people who have fought for our country, now hanging on to their lives, some of whom seemingly have no one to hang out with. They make the military look glamorous on recruiting commercials, but at the end of the day, people give their lives to protect us and I’m not sure we are appreciative enough of that.
12) I’m pretty sure nurses are underpaid; watching the care my father gets at this hospital, they are terrific, polite people who are nice to an 88-year old guy who is fighting for his life. Nurses have lot of responsibility, they do all the real care, but they don’t make so much money. Thanks to all of you from me.
11) There are 121 different items on the McDonald’s menu; not sure why, but thought you’d like to know.
10) Why do people smoke? Worse yet, why do they go outside on frigid days to smoke? Cigarettes cause cancer; standing outside in freezing weather causes pneumonia; why is any of this good?
9) Unsolicited endorsement: if you’re looking for a financial person to help you with investments, I highly endorse the Fagan brothers in Troy.
Have known both of them for years; smart, hard-working guys who are very sharp but are regular people, too. You’d like them if you knew them, and they’re smart when it comes to investments.
8) Why don’t all birds fly south in the winter? Are there birds who like cold weather? Are some birds just stupid? Lazy? Can’t fly that far? The birds who stay behind for the winter seem bigger than most birds, if that means anything.
7) I don’t trust people who use shredders at work; maybe its growing up during the Nixon years, but if I hear you using a shredder, I assume you have something to hide. Shredding at home is good for identity protection, but at work, come on now. Maybe its just me, but I don’t trust those people.
6) I highly recommend flying on Southwest Airlines, especially if you’re headed to Las Vegas. Friendly workers, they don’t charge for the first two bags and they fly non-stop to/from Albany once a day each way. Good company and the $12.50 early boarding fee is well worth it, to avoid those dreaded middle seats on a long flight.
5) City of Albany is installing 20 cameras by traffic lights to catch people who run red lights; not sure how it all works or how they decide where to put the cameras, but the mayor says it’ll add $2M in revenue to the city. Just as long as none of that money is mine.
4) Speaking of Albany, looks like they’re going to put a casino over the river in Rensselaer County, about 10 miles from Armadillo World HQ. Outstanding. Pretty soon we’ll be able to hop in the car and play blackjack; is this a great country or what?
3) I don’t care who the next President is, as long as it isn’t someone named Bush or Clinton. Enough with those people; give someone else a chance. There have to be some smart people who don’t have a huge amount of money but would do a good job; can we find a couple of those, please?
2) We need to remember that freedom of speech is important; we need to be tolerant of everyone’s opinions, especially those that are different than our own. If freedom of speech goes away, then what do we have left?
1) RIP Bryan Burwell, who passed away too early at age 59. As a Ram fan, spend lot of time reading the St Louis paper online. Burwell and Bernie Miklasz were the two voices of reason when it came to the Rams, who haven’t had a winning season since 2003. I respected his opinion and enjoyed his articles; he will be missed. RIP, sir.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) UAB shut down its football program for financial reasons, the first I-A team to do that since Pacific in 1995. Blazers are 6-6 this year, could still go to a bowl game, but after that the players are free to transfer ansd be elighible to play next year.
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze leveraged the Florida opening into a pay raise from the Rebels. Would've been a huge slap in the face had Freeze gone to another school in the SEC. He's making over $4M a year now-- wow.
11) Remember this when interleague play is discussed in April: nine of the first ten baseball free agents to sign went with AL teams, as if the AL wasn't already much stronger than the Senior Circuit. The big-name pitchers haven't signed on yet, which obviously will also influence the balance of power.
10) Buffalo Bills won't be playing any more "home" games in Toronto; they had been playing one game a year there, but under new ownership, they'll be playing eight home games a year in Buffalo, a good thing for fans in western New York.
9) Brady Hoke got $4.95M to leave Michigan; I'm leaving my day job in two weeks; ain't no one giving me a check stuffed with zeros like that. Hope Coach Hoke uses bit of that cash to buy himself a winter jacket; I got the chills watching him stand outside on cold November days with no coat on.
8) You don't think college sports is big business? Crowd for Michigan-Ohio State game was 108,610, winning creates huge money. Losing makes lot of that money go away and also makes coaches go away.
7) Arkansas coach Bret Bielema lost his last 12 games that were decided by 7 or less points; his last close win was two years ago for Wisconsin, against a Utah State squad coached by Gary Andersen, who wound up taking his place with the Badgers.
6) If you're the Cleveland Browns and you plan on switching to Johnny Manziel as your QB, you make the switch when you're about to play a bad defensive team, a defense he can have success against. Indianapolis is not that team, and thats who the Browns are playing this week.
5) Serious question: If you were an NFL owner, would you hire Rex Ryan as your head coach? I don't think he cares enough about offense to be a good head coach, but he will almost certainly get another chance at some point.
4) Would college football be better off moving its Rivalry Saturday to September and leaving the end of the season to conference games with implications towards the national championship playoff? I mean, USC could play Notre Dame, UCLA and then the Pac-12 title game on three consecutive Saturdays; why is that good?
3) Congrats to the 76ers, who won 85-77 in Minnesota, avoiding an infamous 0-18 start that would've tied an NBA record. There are some teams we'd enjoy seeing lose 18 games in a row, but the 76ers aren't one of them.
2) Highlight of the NFL Draft this spring will be where Jameis Winston winds up, much like Johnny Manziel was a big part of LY's draft. What if Florida State runs the table and Winston never loses a college football game?
Tremendous reality TV would be NFL Network airing his interviews with NFL teams at the combine. Now that would be fun to watch to see how they questioned him.
1) My friend Scott knows more about football than anyone I know: he doesn't like Winston's release throwing the ball and compares him to former Oregon QB Akili Smith, who was an NFL flop in Cincinnati. Will be fascinating to follow.
Wednesday's List of 13: Looking at the AFC teams.......
Bills—Last made playoffs in ’99, have shot here. Jimbo Fisher told teams that EJ Manuel wasn’t an NFL starter; Bills took off as soon as they benched him for Orton. Kudos to the GM for giving Orton a two-year contract. New owner, chance for the playoffs; exciting year in western NY.
Dolphins—Not sold on Tannehill as the franchise QB, but they’re 7-5 and have shot at first playoffs since ’08. If they don’t make it, would owner Ross (unfairly) fire Joe Philbin and go after fellow Michigan alum Harbaugh as his next coach? Could happen.
Patriots— Belichick’s career record without Tom Brady: 51-64. Proper punishment for Spygate: make Belichick coach the Patriots for three years after Brady retires- their lack of talent at WR/RB is alarming. Brady just makes everything work. One of the all-time greats.
Jets—Fire every football-related person in the building; everyone. Start over like an expansion team; its an easier fix that way. Lot of empty seats in Swamp Stadium on Monday night, a stadium that didn’t need to be built.
Ravens—Allowed 8+ yards/pass attempt in four of last five games, a red flag. Only team in NFL to lose this season when they won field position by more than ten yards; teams that win field position by 10+ yards are 64-3 this season. Ravens lost to San Diego Sunday with a 15-yard edge.
Bengals—Marvin Lewis is 97-88-2 as Bengals’ coach, but has no playoff wins; they better not repeat the Bears’ mistake with Lovie Smith and fire Lewis if they don’t win one this year. Cincy just won three consecutive road games; that doesn’t happen much in the NFL. Lewis is a good coach.
Browns—Now the rookie coach has a QB controversy to deal with; star WR Gordon seems to have better chemistry with Manziel, for whatever reason. Hoyer threw six picks in his last six games, but if I’m Pettine, I’m looking to start Manziel for the first time against as weak an opponent as possible. Don’t think the Colts fit that bill.
Steelers—Five of last six Pitt games went over total; Big Ben threw for 435 yards in loss to Saints, mostly after game was already lost. Steelers allowed 11.0/8.9 ypa in last two games, have only one takeaway in last three games, very un-Steeler-like. Play Bengals twice in last four weeks; might need sweep to win division.
Texans—Fitzpatrick had six TD passes last week; where is Houston headed at QB after this year? No way Fitzpatrick is their long-term answer, but Mallett lasted two games before getting hurt, so he probably isn’t either. QB draft class ain’t much this year and there are few other teams (Jets, Rams) who would be looking to add QBs. Going to be an interesting spring, for sure.
Colts—Indy allowed 30+ points in all four losses; they’re 8-2 in last ten games, after opening season with losses to Broncos/Eagles. Colts are 7-2-1 as road favorites under Pagano, very dependable when playing an inferior team.
Jaguars—They play hard, have nice uniforms, a cabana with a pool in the end zone bleachers but only have two wins. In last two games, Jags have nine sacks and eight caused fumbles; they need a more productive offense, just like half the league does. At least they compete hard every week; good things usually follow that.
Titans—Horrible season with an injury-decimated offensive line that is getting the QBs killed. Upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead Opening Day, are 1-10 since and that was a 16-14 home win over the 2-10 Jaguars. Another team with a QB dilemma, but chances are they’ll stay in-house with Mettenberger for next year. Whisenhunt is a good coach, but other than Kurt Warner in Arizona, all his guys get hurt.
Broncos-- Ran ball for 201/214 yards last two weeks, since 22-7 loss in St Louis; did they watch Patriot-Colt game and decide to go same way, to preserve their aging QB? Rushing yards in their three losses: 36-43-28. Trailed at half in three of last five games, converted 18-34 on 3rd down last two games.
Chiefs-- Were outrushed 393-137 in last two games, after 7-1 run which followed 0-2 start. Are 8-42 on third down last four games. Alex Smith doesn't win games, he just doesn't lose them, but if they can't run the ball, then what? Couple of stumbling teams meet in desert this week when Chiefs visit Arizona.
Raiders-- Had been competing well until they got smoked in St Louis Sunday. Don't have a takeaway in last three games, only two in last six; they're -14 in TOs in those six games. Last time they averaged more than six yards/pass attempt was Week 6. It is very doubtful they'll win another game this season.
Chargers-- Looked dead when they lost 37-0 at Miami in Week 9, but well-timed bye gave them time to regroup and they've won three close games since. San Diego is first west coast team to win a game in Ravens' Stadium (1-17). Last four games are a tough gauntlet, finishing with road games at 49ers, Chiefs.
Tuesday's List of 13: Looking at the NFC teams........
Cowboys—Defense looked tired on short week vs Eagles; they get needed 10-day break after another Thursday game this week in Chicago. Why don’t they ever draft a young QB? Not like Romo is Marino or Elway.
Eagles—Have it rolling right now, but will they go forward with Sanchez as their #1 QB? What happens if Foles gets healthy later this month? Kelly is changing the way coaches coach.
Giants—Lot of changes loom this winter; Manning is useless unless they shore up the offensive line. Coughlin is a Hall of Fame coach but will probably “retire” after this season. They should probably change GMs if they’re going to unload a Hall of Fame coach.
Redskins—Drafted two QBs two years ago, yet Colt McCoy is their starter. Oy. How do they recoup something (anything) by trading RGIII? Who is the real problem here? Lot of good coaches have been thru Redskins Park the last 15 years, with not much success.
Bears—Is Jay Cutler this generation’s Jeff George? Arm talent but not much charisma or leadership? Firing Lovie Smith to hire Marc Trestman was not an upgrade. As long as Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay, going to be hard for Bears to win NFC North.
Lions—Team’s last playoff win in 1991 against Dallas. Favorites covered Detroit’s last six Thanksgiving Day games. 10-day break should help as they begin playoff drive.
Packers—Phil Simms had good nugget Sunday on how Aaron Rodgers prefers footballs be little overinflated so he can throw them better; most QBs prefer the opposite. Maybe that’s why the Packers play so much better at home; extra air in the footballs.
Vikings—Looks like they found a keeper at QB in rookie Bridgewater, who runs just enough to keep defenses honest and is getting better as passer (he’s lucky to have Norv Turner to tutor him). Still feel bad for Zimmer, who waited until age 58 to become a head coach then had his best player thrown off the team after one game.
Falcons—Steven Jackson’s career W-L record in the NFL: 53-118-2. Seems like a terrific guy, not the best receiver for a back, but runs hard and well. You’d wish he could get a taste of the playoffs before he’s done. 5-7 Falcons are tied for first, but Saints seem like stronger team now.
Panthers—This is how fine the line is between winning and losing in the NFL; last year, Carolina was 12-4 and Cam Newton was the next big thing; now they’re 1-8-1 since Week 3 and Newton is a suspect, which is bunk. Still wondering why they let John Fox walk, but Newton needs better receivers next year.
Saints—Home side won their first seven games, now lost last five; not sure how you score 35 points on road without targeting Jimmy Graham, but they did in Pittsburgh. Why did they let Sproles walk? Why did they hire Rob Ryan?
Buccaneers—Again with the fine line thing: when your new OC has a heart problem and has to quit in August, this isn’t good, unless the HC is an offensive guru, which Smith obviously is not. Bucs were put behind 8-ball and could make big leap next year with a new OC (or a healthy Jeff Tedford).
Cardinals—Field position is important: Arizona is 4-19 on third down the last two weeks, which created shorter fields for their opponents, who had 18/16-yard edges in field position for their opponents. So far this season, teams who win field position by 10+ yards are 64-3 and two of the three losses were this past Sunday.
Rams—5-7 is 5-7, but the Rams are getting closer; in past years, their losses would be one-sided debacles where I never watched the second half. This year, I’m annoyed they lost most of those games, since they led early or frittered away chances late to win on the road. Need that final piece, a glue-guy QB who can make plays at the end to pull games out. Not sure who he is, but they need to find him.
49ers—Seem to have tremendous dissension between coaches/front office, never a good thing. As a Ram fan, hope they fire/trade/release Jim Harbaugh; all the guy has done is win. Its easy to see why he chose Kaepernick over Alex Smith; good, decisive choice, but unless you win a Super Bowl, there will always be critics.
Seahawks—Last Super Bowl champ to win a playoff game next year? ’05 Patriots, that’s how long it has been. Seattle is within range of the Cardinals now, could still wind up with a home playoff game or two.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Colts 49, Redskins 27-- Indy is first team since '66 Redskins to score six TDs of 30+ yards in same game. Bet Jay Gruden had more fun coaching the Orlando Predators in the Arena League than he is now. What a mess the Redskins are.
12) Texans 45, Titans 21-- Fitzpatrick threw six TDs in this mismatch; he is the 7th QB to throw 5+ TDs in a game this year and only one of the seven who hasn't won a Super Bowl. Tennessee's OL was missing three starters.
11) Bills 26, Browns 10-- Cleveland lost the game and ignited a QB controversy when they benched Hoyer (six INTs in last three games) for rookie Manziel, who led only Cleveland TD drive. Three of four AFC North teams lost today, making it a very big day for the Bengals, who won a close game in Tampa.
10) Chargers 34, Ravens 33-- Rivers drove San Diego 80 yards in eight plays to get the game-winning TD with 0:38 left. Ravens got into the red zone on seven of their eight drives, but managed only three TDs, four FGs and thats why they lost.
9) Jaguars 25, Giants 24-- New Jersey led 21-3 at the half, then had two of its three lost fumbles recovered for Jax TDs as Jaguars won for only second time this season. Seven losses in row probably means the end of the line for Tom Coughlin, who will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Jaguars have nine sacks, eight forced fumbles in their last two games.
8) Bengals 14, Buccaneers 13-- Cincy leads AFC North by 1.5 games with four to play. There were 23 penalties in this sloppy game that was not a good advertisement for professional football. Dalton threw three first half INTs, was supposedly playing with the flu. Tampa was only NFC South team to lose this week.
7) Rams 52, Raiders 0-- Good to see improving Rams put their foot on someone's neck and end things quickly. Tank job by Oakland, which seemed disinterested from the start. St Louis receivers are starting to make more plays. I'm being optimistic, but Rams could head to Seattle for season finale with an 8-7 record.
6) Saints 35, Steelers 32-- Road team won last five New Orleans games, after they lost first seven. Think NFL refs got a memo to keep calling defensive penalties; in the first 14 games this week, teams got 70 first downs via penalty, five per game. Those totals had been coming down recently, but not this week-- I'll repeat myself-- no one pays to watch officials throw flags.
5) Vikings 31, Panthers 13-- Minnesota blocked two punts for TDs in first 20:35 of the game; last time a team scored on two blocked punts in the same NFL game was on Sept. 30, 1990, when Kansas City did it against Cleveland. This was 7th-coldest home game in Viking history; Minnesota is playing outdoors for first time since 1981.
4) Falcons 29, Cardinals 18-- Atlanta won its first non-divisional game this year and is tied for first in NFC South with the Saints at 5-7. Arizona lost for second week in row, now faces the Chiefs and its three NFC West rivals to close the season.
3) Broncos 29, Chiefs 16-- Alex Smith is this generation's Pat Haden; smart guy, does not make lot of mistakes, can't throw long, won't win a Super Bowl. At least he isn't going to law school during his playing career, which Haden did.
2) Gilbert Gottfried, Johnny Damon, Terrell Owens and Lorenzo Lamas will all be on Celebrity Apprentice this winter; maybe it really does suck to be famous, you get addicted to the fame and you can't be a normal person.
NBC ran a great stat near the end of the Bronco-Charger game; teams that score 21+ points against a Peyton Manning team are 72-62; teams that score less than 21 points against Manning are 4-113.
1) If you're travelling anywhere in first half of 2015, today is the day to book your hotel; you can get lot of great hotel deals on Cyber Monday.
Sunday's List of 13; Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Alabama 55, Auburn 44-- Weird game with 1,169 yards of offense; have to feel good for Crimson Tide QB Sims. TV announcers had him being yanked in third quarter when Auburn led 33-21, but then he led five consecutive TD drives in an awesome show of offensive force by the Crimson Tide.
12) Amazing intensity of the Iron Bowl game raises two questions:
a) How the hell can Alabama get up again for the SEC title game next week?
b) Would colleges be better served moving Rivalry Saturday to September?
11) Florida State 24, Florida 19-- Just win, baby. Seminoles would be Al Davis' favorite team, if Davis weren't currently deceased. Jack Nicklaus' grandson caught two TD passes and the Florida kicker missed two go-ahead FGs as FSU won another close game. 12-0 straight-up, 3-9 against the spread. Interesting team.
10) Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 17-- Bulldogs have 63 kids from Mississippi, Rebels have only 44; thats counting walk-ons.
Why do Ole Miss and Arkansas play home games on artifical turf? Isn't the weather in Arizona and Mississippi pretty good?
9) Ole Miss 66, Cincinnati 54-- No one in Oxford probably noticed this score, but few years ago, Andy Kennedy was interim coach at Cincinnati after Bob Huggins was stupidly fired there; think he didn't like winning this game? Big win for the Rebels.
8) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40-- Very chippy game, issues after most every play and even before the game. Kentucky coach Stoops didn't look very happy with one of his defensive assistants during a Louisville TD drive, but Wildcat defense scored two TDs in this game. Losing makes a lot of us crazy.
7) Clemson 35, South Carolina 17-- First time in six years Clemson won this rivalry game. Spurrier had three troopers behind him during halftime interview; they looked VERY serious. In case you didn't think college football is very big business, turns out Clemson QB Watson is playing with a torn ACL.
6) Ohio State 42, Michigan 28-- Buckeyes won game but lost QB Barrett to broken ankle. Michigan won't go bowling for only third time in last 40 years. Hope Brady Hoke's next job is in a warm climate; tired of seeing him stand outside for four hours in cruddy weather with no coat on.
5) Serious question: Ohio State is now down to their #3 QB; does this hurt them in the polls? Do they get factored out of the playoff picture?
4) Colorado State 65, Cal-Santa Barbara 63-- Rams won Great Alaskan Shootout, an annual Thanksgiving weekend staple. Would've helped Big West's power rating to get a win over a Mountain West team.
3) Nevada 49, UNLV 27-- Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze were high school coaches, which apparently has inspired some wealthy UNLV backers to go after the Bishop Gorman coach to be the Rebels' new coach. Problem is, Gorman (a high school in Las Vegas) might have nicer football facilities than UNLV does.
2) Memphis 41, UConn 10-- Name you'll hear in coaching carousel: Justin Fuente of Memphis, whose Tigers are 9-3. He was a backup QB at Oklahoma much like Mark Richt was one at Miami. Rising star in the coaching business.
1) USC 49, Notre Dame 17-- Saturday was 40-year anniversary of the day Anthony Davis scored six TDs in a 55-24 thrashing of the Irish. This game was almost as much fun, but not quite. Lou Holtz probably still has Notre Dame in his top ten.
Saturday's List of 13: Wrapping up a very busy Friday.....
13) Ten years ago, I started a keeper fantasy baseball league because I was sick of rooting for an A's team that always lost its best players, either via free agency or a trade before free agency. The list of star players to bolt Oakland over the last 40 years is very long and now Josh Donaldson's name has been added. It sucks.
12) Its the financial reality of baseball and all that; I mean, 30 months ago, Donaldson was a former minor league catcher who was hitting .108 in the majors before getting sent back to AAA. Since then, he developed into an All-Star player who was also a fan favorite and a terrific clutch hitter (9th inning, Game 4, '12 playoffs vs Detroit).
At least no one gets dealt off my fantasy league team unless I do it, and yes, I'm sure Billy Beane has a few more moves this winter, before all this rebuilding is done.
11) One last note on this trade that worries me: Brett Lawrie is a Canadian; for the Blue Jays to trade a Canadian player means they think they got the best of this deal. Plus he gets hurt a lot, always a great thing to be known for.
10) Kansas 82, Tennessee 67-- Misleading final; this game was 62-all. Tennessee has a good team and will be an SEC contender in years to come.
9) Wisconsin 69, Oklahoma 56-- Frank Kaminsky got his lunch handed to him by Georgetown Thursday, but the media is in love with the guy; Badgers are good because they've got a lot of good shooters, and Ryan is a very good coach. Sooners also had a productive week in the Bahamas.
8) Western Kentucky 67, Marshall 66 OT-- This was a football game, the first one Marshall lost this season; hard to feel too bad for a team that was down 49-42, at the half, but what do you do with Marshall in their bowl game? They score a ton of points but history tells us that disappointed teams rarely fare well in bowls. .
7) Gonzaga 73, St John's 66-- Good road win for the Bulldogs; think they're going to the Final Four in April. As for St John's, Harrison looks like a tough guy to coach, kind of like a talented runaway train where you give him the ball and hold your breath. As a senior, you hope he has senior-level sense. You hope.....
6) Stanford 31, UCLA 10-- Bruins' dismal showing sends Arizona to the Pac-12 title game against Oregon. Wildcats beat Arizona State; if they beat the Ducks, Arizona could get to the Rose Bowl game for the first time. Big year for RichRod.
5) UTEP 77, Xavier 73-- Games like this are why I'm watching games in November before I jump into the handicapping pool; this result makes no sense, much like a lot of what we see in November makes no sense. The games count, but coaches experiment and learn much like we're learning. Good win for Tim Floyd, though.
4) Ole Miss 75, Creighton 68-- Bluejays' win over Oklahoma (they were down 18 in second half) was a fluke. This is a good win for the SEC and Andy Kennedy.
3) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14-- Mizzou's Gary Pinkel might be the most underrated college football coach; all the guy does is win.
2) Air Force 27, Colorado State 24-- Rams drop to 10-2; this was really good game, fun to watch. Wonder if Colorado State can keep McIlwain in Fort Collins.
1) Cal-Santa Barbara 65, Mercer 60 OT-- Very late at night in Alaska, Gauchos hit a 3 at the buzzer to force OT, then won and will face Colorado State very late tonight in the Alaskan Shootout final. Should be a pretty good game. Hopefully the A's won't have traded Samardzija or Kazmir by then.
Friday's List of 13: Happy Black Friday, everyone........
13) This is probably the busiest sports weekend of the year; definitely is for this website. Lots of stuff going on, from college football to the Alaskan Shootout, which is being played in a new gym this year. Alaska-Anchroage built a spiffy new gym with good lighting; the old arena looked like the ice rink in Slap Shot. .
12) Colorado State is the fourth different school coach Larry Eustachy has taken up to Alaska to play: Rams have an experienced team this year, are a threat to win in the Mountain West Conference.
11) Invention of rubber-based Field Turf has helped punters deaden the ball near the goal line. The old Astroturf, the ball would bounce like it was a Superball into the end zone. Now guys often don't even have to down the ball, it just dies not too far from where it landed.
10) Good idea by the NFL, having next Thursday night's Dallas-Chicago game be two teams who played this Thursday; Cowboys looked really tired against Philly, that 10-day rest after the Chicago game will be a God-send for them.
9) Detroit Lions' last playoff win? 1991 against the Cowboys.
8) Steve Young comes out and says RGIII doesn't prepare well for his job; how are the Redskins supposed to get anything for him in a trade after that? What a disaster; they gave the Rams a king's ransom for the right to draft him, now it seems like RGIII is on his way out of Washington.
7) Can't we get a Jets-Redskins game this year, the Dysfunction Bowl?
6) Seattle 19, San Francisco 3-- 49ers' owner sounded off after the game; you get the feeling there is major dissension behind the scenes with 49ers brass. As a Ram fan, it'll be a good day for me if/when the Niners fire Jim Harbaugh.
5) Wisconsin 68, Georgetown 65-- This felt like an NCAA tournament game, with Hoyas playing their hearts out but coming up short. Badgers have lot of guys who can shoot the ball; Georgetown needs to give Smith-Rivera some scoring help.
4) North Carolina 78, UCLA 56-- Bruins are 0-2 in the Bahamas; poor UAB, they get a hungry UCLA team in the 7th place game. No one wants to go to these events and come home 0-3, but especially not a blue-blood program like UCLA.
3) Oklahoma 59, Butler 46-- Now have to watch Butler more to figure out if their North Carolina win was a fluke. Looks like the Sooners' loss at Creighton goes down as a learning experience.
2) Cal-Santa Barbara 71, Washington State 43-- Not often a Big West team cleans the floor with a Pac-12 squad, but it happened here. Ernie Kent has his hands full with this rebuilding job at Wazzu- they play Gonzaga pretty soon. Yikes.
1) TCU 48, Texas 10-- Statement made, in Austin. Very loud and clear.
Thursday's List of 13: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.......
13) Butler 74, North Carolina 66-- Bulldogs shot 31% from floor but outrebounded the Tar Heels 57-40, with 29 offensive boards. Impressive win for them.
12) St John's 70, Minnesota 61-- Gophers scored 40 points in first half, 21 in second and looked terrible in last 10:00, playing their first true road game this season.
11) Oklahoma 75, UCLA 65-- Steve Alford has a big advantage with his son Bryce on the team; not only is the kid really good, but he's going to stay in school for four years and kids who are that good don't do that much anymore.
This was a terrific win for Lon Kruger, whose team was 10-38 outside arc, 11-26 inside the arc. Thought for a second that Paul Westhead hijacked the Sooners.
10) Redskins will start Colt McCoy against the Colts Sunday, as the RGIII drama continues to play out poorly for Washington. Its fairly obvious that Jay Gruden isn't too fond of Robert Griffin the player.
9) Purdue center Isaac Haas has size 22 sneakers; those are big feet!!! Haas had 12 points in 22:00 off the bench in the Boilers' OT win over BYU.
8) Diamondbacks signed Cuban OF Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5M contract, good signing for Dave Stewart, Arizona's new GM.
7) Why are stores opening at 6pm tonight? What if we boycotted these stores and told them thats its OK to give employees a day off? Would they listen?
6) Atlanta Falcons lost seven games the last two years when they led in the fourth quarter; they're 4-7 this year but tied for first place. Has a team ever won a division title and still fired their coach after the season?
5) When the Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, they went five games in a row that season without scoring an offensive TD. Thats how great their defense was back then. Lions haven't scored a TD in their last two games and people are in a panic; imagine going three more in a row?
4) Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked in hoop's top 25 for first time in seven years.
3) I'd be in favor of fewer timeouts in televsied college basketball games; you get an automatic timeout for TV every 4:00, so teams don't need five each besides those. Games lose their flow with so many stoppages.
2) Louisville 45, Cleveland State 33-- Rick Pitino gets his 700th college win in an oddly low-scoring game; first time I saw the result, thought it was a halftime score. .
1) Three NFL games today; three divisional rivalries, all NFC teams meeting for first time this season. Will be odd to see an NFC game on CBS.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL.........
32) Jets— They don’t have the worst record, but they go in the tank the most, which is more of an indictment. Monday night they just looked disinterested.
31) Jaguars—This was a year where they could’ve stolen some division games; they’re 1-10. Houston and Tennessee will be improving in coming years too; when will the Jags get out of last place?
30) Raiders—Wonder if they’ll give Sparano the full-time coaching gig; they’ve played better since he took over.
29) Titans—Have to be encouraged with how Mettenberger has played; will they trade high draft pick for multiple picks?
28) Redskins—You wonder what the real problem is with this team; over the last 15 years, lot of bright people have tried to win there. All of them failed.
8) Chiefs—Thoughts and prayers to DB Eric Berry, who has a medical issue to deal with now. His absence will hurt the KC defense.
7) 49ers—Amazing how awful they’ve been in red zone this year; by far worst red zone offense in league. How are they so bad with a mobile QB?
6) Seahawks—Last time a defending Super Bowl champ won a playoff game? 2005 Patriots; been a long time.
5) Ravens—Impressive win Monday night in Superdome; that was a high-level game. Teams that win Super Bowl seem to be play well in that same building when they re-visit.
4) Cowboys—Are finding ways to win; Beasley helped them bigtime Sunday night. OL took game over on game-winning drive.
3) Broncos—Probably should be lower on list, but they scored 39 points on a day that started out with them looking disjointed and old. Will need home playoff games.
2) Packers—Pretty fun 4:00 game Sunday: Brady vs Rodgers at Lambeau. Wonder if Jonas Gray has more than one alarm clock now?
1) Patriots—Has anyone ever done less to get on a Sports Illustrated cover than Gray? One game and he’s a cover boy, then six days later, he never gets off the bench. Life is funny sometimes.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Bills 38, Jets 3-- Tank job by the Jets, who seem disinterested. Bills didn't even practice Tuesday-Thursday- they've won two games in Detroit this season. ESPN has to be thrilled with next Monday night's Dolphin-Jet matchup.
12) Ravens 34, Saints 27-- Saints are 4-7 and tied for first in NFC South; they're not playing well, obviously. Just finished 3-game homestand with three straight losses. AFC North teams are 10-1-1 SU vs NFC South squads this year.
11) My nomination for two worst referees in NFL: Carl Cheffers and Jeff Triplette. There is often chaos in Cheffers games; his crew also calls the most penalties in the league. Triplette once blinded a guy (seriously, he did) by throwing a penalty flag and hitting the guy in his eye.
10) Macy's is opening at 6pm Thanksgiving night to beat the Black Friday rush; must be fun to work there. Thanksgiving is still a national holiday, right?
9) Red Sox gave Hanley Ramirez $88M for four years, Pablo Sandoval $100M for five years. Problem is, neither one of these guys pitches; Ramirez isn't exactly durable. Sandoval figures to slide into the DH role when David Ortiz retires.
8) Those signings dropped the Red Sox from 25-1 to 15-1 to win the World Series.
7) Last Super Bowl champ to win a playoff game the next season? 2005 Patriots.
6) Average over/under in the NFL, the last five years:
42.8--43.7--44.9--45.7--46.2. Its gone up four years in a row.
5) Patriots-Packers total opened at 58, the highest NFL total since Christmas Day in 2004, a Chiefs-Raiders game.
4) Eastern Washington 88, Indiana 86-- Huge win for the Big Sky conference.
3) Pitcher Bronson Arroyo had never been on DL before last season; he had Tommy John surgery this year, which made him decide to keep playing longer.
2) Ryan Mallett era didn't last long in Houston; he tore a pectoral muscle, is done for the year. He's a free agent after the season, but is now a suspect, not a prospect.
1) There is a College Basketball Hall of Fame that is separate from the Hall of Fame in Springfield; not sure who makes their selections, but Norm Stewart, Gene Keady are in and Jerry Tarkanian isn't. How is that possible? Wake up people!!!!
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up Week 12 in NFL.........
13) Raiders 24, Chiefs 20-- First win in over a year for Oakland. Chiefs were 2-12 on third down. Raiders ran ball for 179 yards.
12) Browns 26, Falcons 24-- Atlanta is now 0-7 out of division, 4-0 inside it; AFC North teams are 9-1-1 against NFC South. Hoyer threw three picks, Browns had ball in red zone six times, scored one TD, four FGs; despite all that, Browns won.
11) Eagles 43, Titans 24-- Josh Huff ran opening kick back 107 yards for a TD and things went downhill from there for Titans, who were travelling on short week after Monday night home game. Eagles now have ten return TDs this season.
10) Patriots 34, Lions 9-- Detroit didn't score TD on 21 drives on this two-game road trip, losses in Arizona/Foxboro. Jonas Gray was on cover of Sports Illustrated after he ran for 199 yards last week. He didn't play this week.
9) Packers 24, Vikings 21-- Two of three Packer TDs came on drives of less than 55 yards. Green Baay's offense is way better at Lambeau than on the road.
Comment that has nothing to do with this game: college football is better officiated than NFL games; too much micro-managing of officials by higher-ups. They want the refs to pick out a culprit when there is a skirmish. Ridiculous idea.
8) Colts 23, Jaguars 3-- Indy is now 14-0-1 vs spread under Pagano/Arians in game following a loss. Jacksonville is awful; say they wanted to move to LA; why would anyone in LA buy season tickets to watch such an awful team? Not like the fanbase in southern California is known for its loyalty.
7) Bengals, Bears and Seattle all won field position by 10+ yards Sunday, making those teams 57-1 SU this season. In other words, its important to get first downs and move the chains to help create longer fields for your opponents.
6) Bengals 22, Texans 13-- Cincinnati is really erratic, even by NFL standards. Andy Dalton gave a signed jersey from this game to his dad for his 55th birthday. Only TD Houston scored was by their defense, one of three defensive TDs scored league-wide; other two were scored by Rams-Chargers in same game.
5) Bears 21, Buccaneers 13-- Tampa led 10-0 at half and looked like they'd get their coach a win in his return to the Windy City, but they turned ball over three times in third quarter and Bears scored three TDs in a 7:31 span to get their second win in a row. Total yardage in this game: 367-204, Tampa.
4) Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3-- Arizona still leads NFC West by two games, but of their last five games, which are they winning? @ Atlanta, Chiefs, @ Rams on a short week, Seattle, @ 49ers. If they finished 10-6 it wouldn't be a shock.
3) Chargers 27, Rams 24-- You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB.
In case you're wondering, my living room wasn't a happy place at 7:15 last night.
2) 49ers 17, Redskins 13-- Added note from the Ram game; Ronde Barber sucks as an analyst. His comment after Shaun Hill threw a brutal INT on the goal line at the end of the game: "He played a great game".
My ass he did. Rams scored two TDs on offense, one was a 21-yard drive; Hill was picked on the Rams' second series, handing San Diego a FG, he fumbled when sacked, giving them a TD, then the last fateful pick. Gutty effort, not a great game.
1) Cowboys 31, Giants 28-- Question for you readers out there; your team has the ball on its own 20-yard line, down three points, 2:00 left-- what current QB do you want leading your team? Send me your answer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon set the D-I single-game rushing record last week and held it for a week; Oklahoma's Samaje Perine ran for 427 mostly uncontested yards as the Sooners drilled hapless Kansas 44-7. Watch the highlights; he hardly gets touched on any of his TD runs.
12) Notre Dame lost 31-28 to Louisville; Irish put down artificial turf on their home field, so now when a really fast team comes to South Bend, they can't grow the grass like a cow pasture, like they used to do when USC came to town.
11) Maryland is 7-4 with wins at Penn State/Michigan, in Terps' first year in the Big 14. I realize Penn State/Michigan are both down, but nothing was expected of the Terps this year, so they've got to be excited about going bowling.
10) Providence 80, Florida State 54-- Seminoles lost to Northeastern earlier in week, as Leonard Hamilton's crew is off to a rough start. Lot is expected of them this year.
9) College of Incarnate Word 79, Princeton 68-- Had never heard of this school until LY; it is in San Antonio, they play in Southland Conference and they're getting better quickly. Winning this game at Princeton is a good step for them.
8) Philadelphia 76ers are now 0-13; nine of their 15 players weren't even drafted into the NBA. You know how hard it is to make an NBA roster when you weren't drafted and Philly has nine of those guys?
7) In case you care about such things, Ravens/Dolphins are only two NFL teams that scored 10+ points in second half of every game this season.
6) Hawai'i 37, UNLV 35-- There was chicanery in paradise last night; UNLV scored with 0:15 left to go ahead 35-31, but were called for two 15-yard penalties after the TD, so Hawai'i wound on the Rebel 42 after the kickoff. They completed a pass, the clock miraculously stopped early with 0:01 left and Warriors scored the winning TD with an extra play that they may or may not have deserved.
5) UNLV 57, Temple 50-- In Brooklyn, a solid comeback for the Rebels, who looked awful in losing to Stanford Friday. Bad loss for the Owls.
4) Wyoming 56, Colorado 33-- This is a basketball score; Buffs scored nine points in the second half. Nine. Unfortunately for Wyoming fans, Boise State's footballl team scored more points than Wyoming did, in either football or hoops, beating the Pokes 63-14 in Laramie.
3) UCLA 38, USC 20-- Jim Mora is now 3-0 against the Trojans. .
2) An 8-team college football playoff seems inevitable, just a matter of when.
1) Florida State has won 27 straight football games; Jameis Winston is 24-0 as a college QB. Five of their wins this year are by 7 or less points, but these polls aren't about beating the spread, they're about winning. FSU does nothing but win.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Knicks’ PG Jose Calderon hasn’t played yet but he practiced Friday and is expected to play tonight against the 0-12 76ers. Calderon will help the Knicks but they're 3-10, which means they have multiple problems that go beyond point guard, but he will help move the ball better.
12) In case you care about such things, over is 26-9 in NFL primetime games.
11) 16 of 32 NFL teams have started their backup QB at least once this season and there are still six weeks left.
10) Patriots signed RB LaGarrette Blount about 45 seconds after the Steelers released him. Blount has a fairly long rap sheet of not being a great guy, not sure why the Pats want him (again), especially since they’re not playing the Steelers this year unless they meet in the playoffs. Not sure if he’s a big help on special teams, that could be part of it.
9) Closer look at Giancarlo Stanton’s contract: $10M a year for the first three years, then it ramps up to $26M a year for the next three and $32M a year for the seven after that. Maybe Jeffrey Loria plans to sell and won’t be around to give Stanton the really big bucks, or maybe he’ll just trade him to the Dodgers (Stanton is from LA and would no doubt waive his no-trade to go back there) once time comes.
8) Bovada has Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy as the betting favorite to replace Will Muschamp as the next football coach at Florida.
7) Next Cuban baseball sensation is OF named Yasmani Tomas, who will capitalize on the Cespedes/Abreu success to make very big money when he signs. Lot of teams have been prominently mentioned as suitors, most notably the Phillies and recently the Braves.
6) These are facts, do with them what you want: Redskins are averaging 347 yards a game when RGIII plays, 394 when someone else plays.
5) Just realized that former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel now works at Youngstown State, where he was a highly successful coach; he’s not coaching there anymore, he’s not the AD, he’s the freakin’ school President. Saw a pic of him with a kid in a Penguin costume, which caught my eye.
4) Golfer named John Hahn picked a great time, the last day of European Tour Q School, to shoot a 58 and get his Tour card for next year. He was using preferred lies, but 58 is 58. Good for him.
3) This is what my Las Vegas trips sometimes wind up like: It is Tuesday morning, I’m waiting to go to the airport to go home, sitting by myself at a casino bar, playing video poker and listening to Jeff Van Gundy broadcast the Northern Iowa-SF Austin game. How cool is it that Van Gundy was in Nacogdoches, TX doing an obscure college game on a Tuesday morning?
2) Never realized until this week that Alex Rodriguez signed two separate 10-year contracts in his career, which were worth a combined $527M. How about that? Its good to be him, or his agent.
1) I’m not much for politics, but I’d feel better for our country if we did as much for soldiers returning from active duty as we do for illegal immigrants—I’m pretty sure they deserve it.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Jets-Bills game was moved to Detroit; game will be 7:00 Monday night. Bills haven't practiced the last two days- there's still a driving ban in parts of Buffalo. Jim Kelly said there is as much as seven feet of snow at his house in suburban Buffalo.
12) Arizona has been one of the most interesting teams this season, lot of close finishes. Wildcats are at Utah this week, a week after Utes won in OT at Stanford.
11) Broncos have been strong after a loss in Manning era; Miami won four of its last five games and looks to be catching a break with weather (sunny/43 is forecasted) on Sunday. Interesting game in Denver.
10) Arkansas got the SEC monkey off Bret Bielema’s back last week; now he goes for two in a row, but the Ole Miss offense is better than LSU’s. Not many easy outs (Vandy, maybe Kentucky now) in the SEC this season.
9) Giants lost their last five games and haven’t covered any of them; now the hated Cowboys come calling a few weeks after they beat Big Blue 31-21 in JerryWorld. How much did the bye week help Romo’s ailing back?
8) Miami went all-out last week and came up short against Florida State; much like LSU last week at Arkansas, the Hurricanes go on road this week to face a lesser but dangerous opponent in Virginia. Winning a letdown road game with a freshman QB has never been an easy day in college football.
7) I’ve basically given up predicting how the Bengals will play from week/week; they’re so erratic. Houston is improved this year at 5-5, winning Mallett’s first start last week in Cleveland. Dalton played college ball at TCU; will a trip back to the Lone Star State help his game any?
6) Saturday night, the 0-11 76ers visit the 3-10 Knicks, in Philly’s best chance in a while to actually win a game. Why are the Knicks paying Phil Jackson $12M a year? How are they any better now than they were the last two years?
5) Saints lost their last two home games, now host a Raven squad that won the Super Bowl last time they visited Bourbon Street. This should be a fun game to watch.
4) Stanford-Cal is a fierce rivalry; Cardinal seem to be declining, while Golden Bears are getting better, though only on offense. Speaking of Cal, shouldn’t Jack Nicklaus’ grandson have gone to Cal instead of Florida State? After all, he is the Golden Bear.
3) Lions head to Foxboro after they were held without a TD by the Cardinals. New England has been a juggernaut since Gronkowski got healthy, scoring 40+ points in their last three games.
2) USC-UCLA is a terrific rivalry; neither team wears white jerseys. UCLA always wears the light blue jerseys, Trojans wear the cardinal and gold. Third different HC in three years for USC, but Sarkisian looks a guy who will get their ship headed back towards the top, once he gets back to 85 scholarship players.
1) 9-1 Cardinals are getting 6.5 points from a 6-4 Seattle team this week. Redbirds won in Seattle in Week 16 LY. Going to be interesting to see how they fare out in the elements this year. Drew Stanton is a real good backup QB, but if something happens to him, the wheels are going to fall off the Redbird Express.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Pretty sad that Jay Gruden apologized Wednesday for criticizing RGIII for what he said after the loss to Tampa Bay Sunday. In this day and age, speaking your mind only gets you in trouble. People risk their lives to protect our freedoms, but the freedom of speech seems to be slipping away anyway.
12) Bucks 122, Nets 118, 3 OT-- Jason Kidd's return to Brooklyn turned out to be a tremendous game, full of twists/turns and drama. Bucks have a nice young team that has a solid future. OJ Mayo had 21 points in 39 minutes off the bench; Milwaukee was +13 while he was oin the floor, -9 while he was off it.
11) Spurs 92, Cavaliers 90-- Kawhi Leonard held Lebron James to 6-17 from floor as Cleveland fell to 5-5, 2-3 at home. Lebron took only one foul shot the whole game.
10) Celtics 101, 76ers 90-- Sixers are now 0-11, on their way to becoming the worst team in NBA history. 76ers-Knicks in NYC Saturday should be a treat.
9) Timberwolves 115, Knicks 99-- Minnesota was floundering since Ricky Rubio got hurt, but they won easily here. Knicks' starters other than Anthony combined to miss 18 of 26 shots- at least their bench was 17-32. Anthony only took seven shots (7-10).
8) Not sure if this is the right time, but the Knicks are 3-10; there is only so much help PG Calderon will be when he returns soon from his injury. Why exactly did the Knicks pay Phil Jackson $12M a year? He's never constructed a roster before.
7) Suns 88, Pistons 86-- Seven of last nine Detroit games were decided by 4 or less points, or in overtime. Pistons are struggling (3-9) but they're fun to watch.
6) Kent State-Buffalo game was postponed because of the snowstorm in Buffalo; am guessing this game will be re-scheduled on some odd night when ESPN needs some programming. These two teams are starving for mational TV exposure.
5) Raptors 96, Grizzlies 92-- Toronto is 9-2, but eight of 11 games were played at home. Memphis is 10-2 but no one talks about them. What would ABC ever do if the Finals wound up being Memphis-Toronto? Good teams, bad TV ratings.
4) Not sure if it is solely for recruiting appearances, but 69-year old Steve Fisher signed a 3-year contract extentrion with the Aztecs Wednesday. San Diego State was a downtrodden program when Fisher took over; now they regularly lead the West Coast teams in attendance.
3) Gonzaga 94, St Joe's 42-- This game was 48-10 at the half. 48 to freakin' 10. Zags are really good, while Hawks are rebuilding. Spokane isn't a very good place to visit this year if your team is rebuilding.
2) Creighton 65, Oklahoma 63-- Sooners led by 18 early in second half, new-look Bluejays got untracked and stormed from behind to pull the upset. Games like this are why big-name teams don't go out on the road too often before Christmas.
1) Marshawn Lynch got docked $100K for not talking to the media; what he has to do is study some Belichick tapes, when the Patriots' coach fulfills his duty by saying words to the press, while never saying anything of substance. Saves him lot of cash.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random post-vacation thoughts........
13) If you're in Las Vegas for a football Sunday, go to the Westgate Hotel, watch games in the theater there; can see all the games easily, bet on them and its a relaxing, almost quiet atmosphere. Plenty of room. I highly recommend it.
Meanwhile,, now that I'm back home, lets catch up on some things......
12) Damn I hate cold weather; get off the plane and its 25 degrees out, this after a week in the desert, where it was in the low 40's some nights. Feel bad for the people in Buffalo, who were already socked with a big winter storm. No bueno.
11) Giancarlo Stanton got $325M for 13 years from the Marlins; now that they've done that, how about moving the 20-foot tall CF fence in from 418 feet away, so that your best player doesn't look disgusted when he hits shots 410 feet that get caught? Its hard to believe Stanton will play his whole career as a Marlin....
10) Peyton Manning has played 42 regular season games with Denver: they scored 30+ points in 30 of 42 games, less than 20 twice; Sunday against the Rams and a 17-9 win at Kansas City couple years ago. Great job by Gregg Williams' defense Sunday.
9) Kentucky 72, Kansas 40-- This raises the question of whether Wildcats will lose a game, especially in a weakened SEC where Mizzou lost to UMKC, Ole Miss lost to Charleston Southern, Auburn lost by 30+ at Colorado.
8) Adrian Peterson is done for this season; lot of these athletes have kids out of wedlock with multiple women, so now they have to be wary of ex-girlfriends they had kids with who are embittered that the guy has moved on. Does Peterson still have to pay child support now that he is not getting paid anymore this year?
7) Russell Martin gets $82M for five years from Toronto. Martin is 31, he grew up in Montreal and the Blue Jays need a catcher. He made $8.5M this past year. Always risky to give a 30+-year old catcher big money-- this hurts the Pirates.
6) Miami 69, Florida 67-- Terrific win for Jim Larranaga that will speak very loudly on Selection Sunday. This rewards Miami for having PG Angel Rodriguez sit out last year when he could've played after transferring from Kansas State, but last year Miami wasn't as good. Now this year, the Hurricanes have a shot at a very big year.
5) Westgate Hotel is switching from Coke to Pepsi, so they were out of 20-ounce bottles of Coke this week, not good for me. Wonder how much money that is worth to Pepsi, getting one hotel like that to switch. Keep in mind they have several restaurants in the hotel, including a Pizza Hut and a great deli in the back of the sportsbook.
4) Rockets-Thunder played a game Sunday where no player in the game shot 50% or higher from the floor. None of them. Last time that happened? 1986.
3) Watched Wofford's win over Iona in the ESPN hoop marathon; wonder how much that helps either the Terriers or the weakened Southern Conference, which has been hurt badly by defections (Davidson/Charleston/Elon) the last couple years.
2) In Ken Whisenhunt's last 58 games as a head coach, which is 3.5 years, he's used nine different starting QB's. Nine. Thats a lot.
1) Over is 25-9 in NFL primetime games. No idea why, but it is what it is.
Tuesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL....
32) Raiders-- Oakland has now lost 16 games in row, but are 5-5 vs spread this year. Their last win was at Houston, last home win against the Steelers.
31) Jaguars-- Outscored 46-13 in the first half of last three games; they had bye this week, are 3-1 in last four post-bye games.
30) Jets-- Were outscored 65-21 in last two post-bye games; have winnable game this week in Buffalo. Jets are 3-8-1 in last 12 games as divisional road underdog.
29) Titans-- Only win since season opener was 16-14 over Jaguars. Mettenberger is promising, but three of bottom four on this list are playing rookie QBs.
28) Redskins-- When the head coach starts criticizing the starting QB in the media, there are problems. Either that, or he's not going to be the starter much longer. Making it dicier is fact that they traded a boatload of draft picks to take RGIII. Whoops.
8) Cowboys-- Do broken backs heal in two weeks? Didn't think so. Four of their last six games are divisional games- they also play the Colts. Dallas lost three of its last four post-bye games.
7) Chiefs-- Won last five games, three by 4 or less points. Scored 30.8 ppg in winning last four home games, after losing season opener to Tennessee.
6) Colts-- Got pushed around by Patriots Sunday night; they're only 6-4, one game up on the Texans in AFC South. Finish with three road games in last four weeks.
5) Seahawks-- You get feeling they're not enjoying their season too much; Pat Riley calls it "The Disease of Me" when everyone takes credit for the team's success, when it shouldn't matter who gets the credit. They need Marshawn Lynch, but he seems like a royal pain in the butt at times.
4) Broncos-- Averaging 34.6 ppg at home, where they play this week for first time in four weeks. They brought Richie Incognito in for a reason; they need help on the OL to protect their QB, who is immobile. they didn't sign him, but it was a signal they're not comfortable with their OL.
3) Packers-- On serious roll right now; they're crushing teams at home. Their game in two weeks with New England could be interesting; later they visit Buffalo/Tampa in consecutive weeks, an interesting weather contrast.
2) Patriots-- Healthy Gronkowski turned their offense into a steamroller; in their last three games, they scored 51-43-42 points. Right now they'd be #1 seed in AFC- only team within game of New England are the Chiefs, who own tie-breakers with Pats.
1) Cardinals-- How in God's name is this team getting 6.5 points in Seattle this week, when they're 9-1? Stanton is as good as Palmer, but public perception is against them because they're not a popular team. This should be a good game.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday.......
13) Under is 10-3 so far this week, with an alarming shortage of touchdowns; with one game left this week, a total of only 44 TDs were scored by offenses in 13 games, compared to 64 in 13 games last weekend.
Of the four non-offensive TDs scored this week, three of them were scored by Green Bay in its 53-20 win over Philadelphia.
12) Texans 23, Browns 7-- JJ Watt caught a TD pass; Browns came up empty on two red zone drives and fell out of first in AFC North. Houston won Ryan Mallett's first NFL start. Cleveland had a kick return for TD called back by penalty; they were just 3-15 on third down conversions.
11) Bears 21, Vikings 13-- Minnesota led 10-0 early, but Chicago used their WRs' height to their advantage; Jeffery had 135 receiving yards, Marshall 90. Bears won 19 of 28 3rd downs in this game and that was a big part of the difference.
10) Packers 53, Eagles 20-- Philly got drubbed playing on short week, giving up two defensive TDs and a punt return TD. All four Green Bay TD drives were 80+ yards; they've scored 50+ points two games in row and outscored last four visitors to Green Bay by combined score of 128-9 in first half of those games.
9) Chiefs 24, Seahawks 20-- Marshawn Lynch stayed on the bench with trainers at halftime; they worked on a leg injury. He also refused to talk to reporters after game and could be fined $100K by the league. First drive by Chiefs, second drive for Seattle ate up total of 18:01, on 31 plays for 176 yards, which shortened game a great deal.
This game was first NFL contest this year where both teams ran ball for more yards than they passed it. Thats actually hard to believe, but it is true.
8) Falcons 19, Panthers 17-- Atlanta is 4-0 in divisional games, 0-6 against everyone but is now in first place in NFC South. At 4-6. Carolina missed a 46-yard FG with 1:27 left wide left, then had a 63-yarder tipped at the gun. Panthers are 1-7-1 in their last nine games, after starting season 2-0.
7) Bengals 27, Saints 10-- New Orleans has problems, losing second home game in row; this was an odd game where teams combined to convert 17 of 26 on third down, but game stayed under total by 13.5 points, with Saints' longest play only 17 yards. Everyone in AFC North is either 6-4 or 6-3-1; they're killing the NFC South teams-- so far this year, AFC North is 8-1-1 against NFC South (Bucs won at Pittsburgh).
6) Buccaneers 27, Redskins 7-- We're learning that the real star of LY's Texas A&M football team might've been WR Mike Evans, not Johnny Manziel. Evans caught seven balls for 209 yards and two TDs. Washington has a real dilemma with RGIII, who as one patron in the Westgate Theater said Sunday ".....RGIII looks awful today!!!!"
5) Rams 22, Broncos 7-- Rams played perfect defense, offense didn't screw anything up, hit one big play and an upset happened. Odd stat of the day: Rams are now 7-0 vs spread, 6-1 SU when I am in Las Vegas and they were underdog in six of seven games. Maybe I should move here. Ram DBs hit like Hall of Famers in this game.
4) 49ers 16, Giants 10-- When you turn ball over five times on 12 drives, go 3/out on four other drives, you're going to lose. 49ers scored only six points on three red zone drives, didn't recover an onside kick, butchered an easy FG, but escaped with a win. Aldon Smith's return meant a reduced role for Ahmad Brooks, who was not happy.
3) Chargers 13, Raiders 6-- Oakland fumbled on first play; Chargers scored couple plays after that and that was only TD all day. San Diego averaged only 5.0 ypp; they are having problems protecting Rivers, so they're reduced to shorter pass plays. Next week the Rams visit Qualcomm after beating Denver; should be a good game.
Chargers had 15-yard edge in field position in this game; teams with 10+-yard edge in field position are now 54-1 this season.
2) Cardinals 14, Lions 6-- Arizona is now 9-1 but will be an underdog in Seattle next week. This game had a scoreless second half. Detroit had only 11 first downs, was outgained by 95 yards, averaging only 4.8 ypa, half of what Arizona averaged. Best part about Bruce Arians is that he rarely stops attacking, on offense or defense.
1) Patriots 42, Colts 20-- Brady threw ugly INT at end of first half that let the Colts creep within 14-10, but Patriots were juggernaut in second half, scoring first four times they had ball (31 plays, 272 yards)- they ran ball for 244 yards, were more physical.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Florida State 30, Miami 26-- All they do is win; Jameis Winston is now 23-0 as a starter; he threw for 300+ yards in 12 of the 23 games. Down 23-7 with 10:00 left in first half, they chipped away and finally took lead for good with 3:05 left. Anyone who doesn't put them in the top 4 in the country is either stupid or has an agenda.
12) In-game wagering here in Las Vegas is interesting; they change the spread after every score. At one point, you could have bet Florida State +11 in this game, when it was 23-7. It takes a leap of faith and a strong stomach, but is turned out to be a good bargain. Seminoles fall behind so much, if you like them to win, might as well wait until they fall behind, then bet them and get added value.
11) Alabama 25, Mississippi State 20-- Nothing like being in Las Vegas sportsbook when a team gets a backdoor cover in last minute or two. After being down 19-0, State battled back to within 19-13 early in 4th quarter, but Bama scored with 8:09 left to go up 25-13. Bulldogs scored with 0:15 left on 4th down to cover the spread.
About 90 seconds after State scored, Texas Tech scored on last play of the game to cover against Oklahoma. Great fun to see people's reactions.
10) TCU 34, Kansas 30-- Jayhawks are terrible; this close result pushes the Horned Frogs out of the top 4. Kansas led by 10 with 19:00 left.
9) Wisconsin 59, Nebraska 24-- Melvin Gordon carried ball 25 times for 408 yards as Badgers won on a 26-degree day in Madison, Wisconsin's coldest home game since 1965. 408 yards is the single-game record, beating out LaDanian Tomlinson's record of 406 yards. Gordon had 258 at the half, was done for day by time it started to snow in fourth quarter. I hate snow, even on TV 1,500 miles away.
8) Arizona 27, Washington 26-- Huskies fumbled on their own 45 with 1:23 left, and kicked winning 47-yard FG to go to 8-2. Kicker Casey Skowron was once the student manager of the women's soccer team at Arizona; now he's a hero.
Penalty yardage in this game: Washington: 111, Arizona 14. Six of Arizona's 10 games have been decided by 7 or less points.
7) Northwestern 43, Notre Dame 40 OT-- Wildcats had scored average of 12.5 ppg in losing previous four games, they win here in OT after a hideous piece of coaching by Notre Dame, which had the ball with 1:38 left and Northwestern out of timeouts.
Instead of taking three knees, Notre Dame ran a play and fumbled, losing for second time in row to the Wildcats. They were a 17-point dog in this game; last time they met, in 1995, Northwestern was a 28-point dog.
6) Tennessee 50, Kentucky 16-- Vols have their QB in soph Joshua Dobbs, who threw for 297 yards and three TDs and ran for 48 more yards. Butch Jones is a very good coach; the Vols will be a force in the SEC for years to come.
5) In case you care about such things, Alabama/Mississippi State are two schools in SEC who are closest to each other, 84 miles. Finanacially? Little farther apart.
4) South Florida 14, SMU 13-- 0-9 Mustangs led 13-0 with 9:00 left on a rainy night in Texas, had their hearts ripped out when USF scored with 0:04 left for the win.
3) South Carolina 23, Florida 20 ot-- Spurrier beats his alma mater; his Gamecocks tied game with 0:12 left. Gators will be looking for a new coach soon.
2) Arkansas 17, LSU 0-- Sometimes you can handicap just by looking at a schedule; Tigers battled hard in OT with Alabama last week, Arkansas had a bye. LSU's kicker had a rough night, missing an easy one that would've gotten Tigers to within 10-3.
1) Boise State 38, San Diego State 29-- Aztecs led 20-0 with 7:33 left in half, but Boise battled back and held serve on its blue turf. Boise/Colorado State are two best teams in Mountain West and Air Force is pretty good, too.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert....
13) UNLV 60, Morehead State 59-- Had lot of fun at this game; Rebels have a really young team, are lost on offense when PG Doolin is off floor. UNLV took almost twice as many foul shots (27-14) as Morehead, the price of playing on the road.
12) UNLV freshman Vaughn is very good, but he looked almost guilty when he was taking so many shots in middle part of game, when no other Rebel could get open for his shot. At one time, Vaughn had 21 of UNLV's 37 points. He will have to become a more committed scorer for UNLV to be good this year, until other freshmen develop.
11) Charleston Southern 66, Ole Miss 65 OT-- Oy. Rebels put up with Marshall Henderson's shenanigans because stuff like this never happened when he was around.
10) UMKC 69, Missouri 61-- Rough night for SEC at 7-4; four losses in November, against stiff teams like the Kangaroos, aren't going to look good when teams wind up on the bubble in March.
9) Louisville 81, Minnesota 68-- Kid like Montrezl Harrell staying in school makes Cardinals a legit national title contender; when kids like Khem Birch go pro, a guy like Dave Rice finds himself on a hot seat in Las Vegas. Million dollar jobs hinge on these decisions a 19 or 20-year old makes, with help from "advisors". Awesome.
8) Birch got such good advice to leave UNLV early that he will be playing this year for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League; not a great decision.
7) Kentucky 85, Grand Canyon 45-- Dan Majerle coaches Grand Canyon; biggest problem he had here was that his team was the 3rd-best team in this game, behind the two 6-man units Kentucky rotates, like hockey lines.
6) Michigan State 64, Navy 59-- Spartans struggling early on; either that, or Navy is going to win the Patriot League.
5) Louisville's win over Minnesota makes fathers 16-2 in Division I games, when coaching against their sons. Good TV exposure for the Golden Gophers, though.
4) Jazz 102, Knicks 100-- Carmelo Anthony scored 46, tying game on banked 3-ball with 0:02.3 left, but Trey Burke ended it with a walk-off fallaway from the left corner, as Phil Jackson's creation lost its 7th straight game.
3) Rockets 88, 76ers 87-- Philly lost by 53 Thursday, damn near won in Houston, as Mexico hangover made Rockets/Wolves 0-2 vs spread last night. Minnesota lost by 48 in New Orleans- it was 43-19 after first quarter.
2) Cavaliers 122, Celtics 121-- Lebron James had 41, as Cleveland rallied back from down 17 in the 4th quarter. Last time Boston lost a home game they led by 17+ in fourth quarter was 1988. James played 41 minutes; be careful,. coach Blatt!!!!
1) Whoever the person is who is responsible for the Lakers being on ESPN/TNT so much this season, well that person should lose their job. Lakers are one of the five-worst teams in the NBA- why are they on national TV so much?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.....
13) Browns' QB Brian Hoyer is a free agent after this year; his old coach with New England was Bill O'Brien, the Texans' coach. Houston needs a QB; if Ryan Mallett is not the Texans' answer, would they make Hoyer a rich man?
12) Clemson lost its last four visits to Georgia Tech; can they reverse that trend and get a solid win over a streaking Yellow Jacket squad?
11) Weather is supposed to be frigid on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Sunday, as Eagles visit in a rematch of the 1960 championship game. Mark Sanchez is from California; will Philly offense suffer in this game?
10) LSU lost a tough OT game last week; Arkansas had a bye. Bret Bielema is 0-13 in SEC games; can he break thru at home against a Tiger squad that beat Arkansas the last three years?
9) Bengals were awful last week; Saints lost their first home game in OT. This game looks like an over waiting to happen. Which team will stop whom first?
8) Duke is favored over Virginia Tech this week; the last ten times these teams met, Tech was a double digit favorite. Blue Devils are an over-achieving 8-1 this year.
7) Seahawks-Chiefs is a surprisingly good game this week. KC held the Bills to two field goals on four red zone drives last week, escaped with a 17-13 win. Seattle lost its NT for the year last week, good news for Jamaal Charles' fantasy owners.
6) Arizona State has a trap game in Corvallis after beating Notre Dame 55-31 last week. Graham has a good record as a road favorite and Beavers have been slumping but in the past, thats when they've been most dangerous.
5) Chicago Bears were pathetic Sunday night, now they're a home favorite when the entire Windy City is calling for people to be fired. Whatever they have left in their collective tanks, we'll see it here, if they have any pride at all.
4) Georgia gets star RB Todd Gurley back from his ridiculous suspension this week; Dawgs won six of last eight games against Auburn, which lost to Texas A&M last week as a 21-point favorite.
3) Patriots-Colts are both very hot teams. Not many teams have transitioned from one superstar QB to another as easily as Indy has. Both teams are going to coast to division titles, but this game could matter for home field in playoffs.
2) Mississippi State is a 9.5-point underdog at Alabama; how come they're ranked #1 in the country? Why don't the oddsmakers have a voice in the polls?
1) 7-2 Lions at 8-1 Cardinals is the best game of the week in a week with several big games. Who would've guessed this back in May, when the schedule came out?
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert....
13) What does it say that one of Drew Brees' kids was on the Superdome field after the Saints' game Sunday, wearing a #43 jersey? Think Brees misses Darren Sproles?
12) Chiefs' WRs have yet to catch a TD pass this season; every other team's WRs have caught at least three touchdowns.
11) Bills have to be sick about losing at home to the Chiefs; in a 17-13 game, they scored two field goals on four trips to the KC red zone. No bueno.
10) NFL officials lightened up on the defensive penalties in Week 10, with average of 2.83 first downs via penalty per game last week, down about 1.5 a game from what had been the season average this year.
9) Redskins have scored only two TDs on drives of less than 60 yards, least in NFL; Jets and Rams are next with three each. Baltimore (13) has scored the most.
8) By way of contrast, 10 of Cleveland's 22 TDs came on drives of less than 60 yards, meaning their defense/special teams are setting the offense up in great shape.
7) Odd stat of day: Raiders are 0-9, Houston lost their last 14 games last year, which means that Oakland backup QB Matt Schaub is on a 23-game NFL losing streak.
6) Something to follow while watching the Giants this week; the team that won field position this season won all nine Giant games.
5) When was last time someone tore the goalposts down after beating Iowa State? Fans at Kansas did last week; thats how awful their football team is. Usually if you lose to Iowa State, your coach starts packing his bags for his next job.
4) I told you being a window washer is a bad job; couple guys had to be rescued off the side of a building in New York City, up on 50th floor or so. Not sure how much those guys get paid, but it ain't near enough.
3) Victor Martinez re-upped for four years to be the Tigers' DH, good news for Detroit fans and more importantly, for my fantasy baseball team.
2) ESPN's NBA pregame show is way better now with Avery Johnson and Jalen Rose as studio analysts. It had been unwatchable the last couple years.
1) Denver Nuggets fired George Karl because he always lost in the first round of the playoffs; no such worries anymore- Denver is terrible, losing its last six games of the year, not even covering a spread in any of the six games. Only way they'll watch any playoff games in Denver this season is on TV, where Karl now works.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) 24 of the 32 NFL teams have a #1 draft pick playing at offensive tackle; none of Carolina's tackles were even drafted, which helps explain why Cam Newton is getting treated like a pinata every week.
12) Rising star in ESPN's studios; Louis Riddick, who is on during the day; he offers strong opinions and he makes sense-- he should be on the Sunday morning show, if their Sunday morning show wasn't more nonsense than good football stuff.
Colts' backup QB Matt Hasselbeck worked the Rams-Cardinals game Sunday and he was very good. If he quit playing right now and signed with CBS, he'd be their second best analyst, behind Dan Fouts.
11) Since 2010, NFL home teams that played the previous three games on road are 5-13-1 vs spread, 2-6 if favored.
10) Since 2009, NFL road teams who played previous three games at home are 31-22 vs spread, 9-7 if favored.
9) There were 11 NHL games Tuesday; Dallas was only road team to win. There was a 44-16 goal differential in favor of the home teams.
8) Phil Mickelson is now an assistant golf coach at Arizona State; his brother is the head coach-- think that helps their recruiting?
7) UCLA made its first ten 3-pointers in its scrimmage with UNLV last weekend; first half was all Bruins, but the young Rebels played better after that.
6) Sacramento/Charlotte were up both up 20+ points on road Tuesday but neither team won. Kings couldn't even cover as a 7-point underdog in Dallas.
5) Interesting tidbit from Al Michaels' new book: He once worked as a booker on The Dating Game, the 60's game show where a single went on and interviewed three prospective dates, without seeing any of them before he/she made their choice.
4) Mark Few is 403-100 at Gonzaga, the only active D-I hoop coach whose career winning percentage is over 80%. Few has one of his best teams this season.
3) Alabama won at LSU but stayed the same in the latest rankings? Oy.
2) If I ran ESPN, Rece Davis would be my #1 college football guy.
1) Disappointing news from back home, where the bowling alley I grew up going to has been sold and will be used as a warehouse for the many Asian supermarkets that are now open in my hometown. Had a lot of fun in that building.
Tuesday's List of 13: Happy Veterans' Day.......
13) Greetings from Las Vegas, where it seemed kind of quiet on my first night here. I highly recommend non-stop flights to/from Las Vegas; changing planes with a 2-hour layover made for a very long day.
12) Eagles 45, Panthers 21-- Have to feel good for Mark Sanchez, who got openly mocked by the wiseasses on ESPN before the game. Sanchez has started in two AFC title games; there are lot of NFL QBs who never played a conference championship game. Chip Kelly is on his third starting QB in 26 games, though.
11) I'll never forget this story about Sanchez; NFL teams go to colleges to work out draft prospects every spring. Obviously, if you're looking at a QB, you will also need RBs/WRs to be there, to run routes and catch his passes. Sometimes this can be a problem; when Josh Freeman worked out at Kansas State, two kids showed up to catch his passes.
When Sanchez worked out at USC, around two dozen kids showed up; USC guys, kids who played in high school with Sanchez. He is a beloved teammate by most who know him and thats a big part of being a professional quarterback.
10) NFL officials toned down the penalty stuff this weekend; teams got only 35 first downs in 13 games (2.69 per game) via penalty. Number had been around 4.3 per game for the first nine weeks of the season.
9) Chicago Bears are first team since 1923 to allow 50+ points in consecutive games; at this rate, hard to imagine all their coaches surviving the season with jobs intact.
8) Odd twist to the Alabama/LSU rivalry; LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron replaced Nick Saban as coach of the Dolphins when Saban bolted for Alabama.
Enjoy watching Bama-LSU games, but this year's was a little painful: Crimson Tide hit on only 20 of 46 passes. LSU was just 8-26. Oy.
7) #1 Mississippi State is a 7-point underdog this week in Tuscaloosa. Maybe the committee that picks the Final Four for playoffs should use Las Vegas power ratings as part of their selection process. Lot of brain power behind power ratings.
6) An 18-year old kid won NASCAR Nationwide championship? When did he get his license? How does an 18-year old become a professional driver and a good one?
5) Nine of the top ten in the Westgate handicapping contest were right when they had the Jets over Pittsburgh this week. They're smarter people than I am-- how did they know the Jets would have four takeaways, when they had a total of three in their first nine games? They were +4 and only won 20-13.
4) Speaking of which, top six picks each week in Westgate contest are now 33-27 this season; those picks had a lousy record (42-57-4) last year.
3) Washington State's redshirt freshman Luke Falk was 44-61 for 471 yards in his first college start last week, in a 39-32 upset win at Oregon State. Say what you want about Mike Leach, but the man can coach quarterbacks.
2) Michigan 10, Northwestern 9-- This was a terrible, sloppy game, but the ending was dramatic. Wildcats were down 10-3; they score with 0:02 left-- instead of going to OT by kicking the PAT, they try for two points and the win, in a game that had been devoid of any semblance of offense for 3.5 hours.
I think Pat Fitzgerald is a terrific coach but I hated this decision- it tells his kids they aren't as good as Michigan when for this year at least, they probably are. This is not a second guess; was yelling at my TV as it happened live and I had no stake in who won the game. It cheated the kids out of playing it out the right way. Too bad.
1) If you care about such things, over is now 23-8 in NFL night games this year.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Browns 24, Bengals 3-- Dalton's 10-33 for 86 yard passing night was dismal; all four teams in AFC North are 2+ games over .500. Last time that happened was way back in 1935. Ravens only have one divisional game left.
12) Cowboys 31, Jaguars 17-- Turnovers had a huge influence this week; eight of 12 games so far this week had one team with a +2 or better turnover ratio; all eight won their game. Teams with a 10+-yard edge in field position are now 49-1 this year.
11) Lions 20, Dolphins 16-- Detroit finds a way to win late in game for third game in row; Lions visit Arizona/Foxboro next two weeks. We'll know lot more about them then. In a pregame interview, Calvin Johnson sounded like he wasn't too crazy about Jim Schwartz, the previous coach of the Lions. Interesting stuff.
10) Chiefs 17, Bills 13-- Huge play in game with 9:47 left in third period and Bills up 10-3. Bryce Brown was running for TD, but was stripped of ball on 4-yard line. TE Chandler had clean shot to recover ball in end zone, but fumbled it out back of end zone and Chiefs got ball on their 20. Game swung on that play.
9) 49ers 27, Saints 24 OT-- Niners drove 51 yards in 1:08 to kick tying FG, then Brees fumbled on sack in OT and Saints lost at home for first time. Kaepernick was 14-32 passing, which has to be a concern, especially in a domed stadium.
8) Ravens 21, Titans 7-- Tennessee ran 24 plays for 137 yards on first two drives of game, then for rest of game, ran 30 plays 73 yards- not good. Titan fumble on 1-yard line on first series became a huge play. Ravens forced seven 3/outs, which resulted in their having a 12-yard edge in field position.
7) Jets 20, Steelers 13-- Nine of top ten people in Westgate handicapping contest had Jets in this game, which defies logic. Jets forced four turnovers (+4) after having three takeaways total in their first nine games. Roethlisberger threw 12 TD passes in his last two games; Steelers scored three points in three red zone drives here, as they fell to 0-2 on artificial turf this season (one TD on 19 drives).
6) Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17-- Favorites covered nine of 11 games Sunday; home sides were 6-5 vs spread, over was 6-5. Bucs converted 12 of 17 on third down but turned ball over four times (-4), as they remained winless at home. If Carolina wins Monday night, they'll be 4-5-1 and tied for first in the woeful NFC South.
5) Broncos 41, Raiders 17-- Oakland led 10-6 in second quarter, then the roof fell in; Denver outgained Raiders 471-222; four of their five TD drives were 62 or less yards. All five of Manning's TD passes were 10+ yards, unusual for Denver. I hope Justin Tuck is enjoying his big contract, because he signed to play on the Titanic.
4) Cardinals 31, Rams 14-- Arizona gave Carson Palmer $50M extension this week with $20M guaranteed; he tore his ACL with Rams up 14-10 in 4th quarter. Backup QB Stanton came in to lead go-ahead TD drive, then defense scored twice in 1:15 to seal game, but now only QB behind Stanton is highly suspect rookie Logan Thomas.
3) Seahawks 38, Giants 17-- Seattle ran ball for 350 yards, very rare for an NFL team; those yards were most rushing yards allowed by the Giants in game since Week 13 of the '78 season, when they allowed 366 against OJ Simpson and the Bills. This was a game Seattle trailed until 4:13 was left in third quarter- they outscored Giants 21-0 in fourth quarter. .
2) Packers 55, Bears 14-- Game was 42-nil at half. Chicago was terrible, the kind of non-effort that gets coaches fired. Why exactly did they fire Lovie Smith, a coach who had a winning record? Jay Cutler is gradually turning into this generation's version of Jeff George, a skilled passer who isn't much of a leader.
1) Next time I talk to you will be from Las Vegas, America's favorite city. Time for a little vacation. Have an excellent Monday.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Oregon 51, Utah 27-- Utes' WR Kaelin Clay was going to score a TD to put his team ahead 14-0, but he showboated and dropped the ball before he crossed the goal line. Oregon picked the ball up and ran it back 99 yards for a TD, which propelled them to a 24-10 halftime lead in Salt Lake City. No bueno.
12) Boise State 60, New Mexico 49-- Lobos had 409 rushing yards at HALFTIME but lost; game was 42-35 NM at half. Boise ran ball for 307 yards, threw it for 367. Odd game; very rare for team to run for 500+ yards and lose.
11) Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31-- Sun Devils raced out to 34-3 lead, had to take a deep breath when it got to 34-31 but they scored three TDs in last 4:29 to put it away. Golson threw for 446 yards but turned ball over five times.
10) Baylor 48, Oklahoma 14-- Bears had lost 37 road games in row vs teams in Top 25, with last win coming in 1991. Petty was 32-42/387 while Knight was 12-27 and got KO'd late in game. Total yardage was 544-319. Sooner defense is ordinary.
9) Alabama 20, LSU 13 OT-- These teams have gone to OT four times in last decade, road team won all four games. If you had LSU +6.5, the gambling gods owe you one.
8) TCU 41, Kansas State 20-- Horned Frogs ran ball for 334 yards; Wildcats had covered 13 of last 16 as a road underdog. TCU ran 82 plays to 59 for K-State, which threw ball for 376 yards in losing cause. Could TCU make the Final Four?
7) Colorado State 49, Hawai'i 22-- Rams are 9-1; they ran ball for 293 yards, threw it for 287; are they the best team in the Mountain West? Their only loss was 37-24 at Boise State, which lost to Ole Miss and Air Force.
6) Florida State 34, Virginia 20-- Seminoles are 2-7 vs spread but Winston is now 22-0 as a starter at FSU. No way will Winston ever see that disciplinary hearing; he's off to the NFL as soon as Florida State plays its bowl game.
5) Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38-- Something as simple as a center snap cost Auburn this game; they lost fumbles in A&M territory on their last two drives and lost even though they ran ball for 363 yards in game they trailed 35-17 at the half.
They trailed 35-17 because the Aggies blocked a FG for a TD on the last play of the first half. Aggies won as a 21-point underdog; Tulane won as an 18-point dog, with its 31-24 win at Houston.
4) Ole Miss 48, Presbyterian 0; Mississippi State 45, UT-Martin 16-- Why in the name of Shug Chumbler are these teams playing I-AA opponents? All we hear is how great the SEC is and I enjoy their games, but DON'T PLAY I-AA TEAMS!!!!!
3) Georgia 63, Kentucky 31-- Dawgs ran opening kick back for TD, later a punt for another TD; they also converted all eight third down plays, gaining 559 yards as fans in Kentucky start looking forward to basketball season. Wildcats lost their last four games, allowing average of 42.3 ppg.
2) Rice 17, Tex-San Antonio 7-- Owls won last six games after an 0-3 start, where they lost at Notre Dame/Texas A&M by a combined score of 86-27, then lost 45-42 to Old Dominion, a I-A newcomer. Thats a really good coaching job, keeping your kids' heads in game after such a bad start.
1) Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37-- Former South Carolina QB Phil Petty is the answer to an odd trivia question; last QB to beat Buckeyes in consecutive seasons, as both games were also in bowls, in 2000-01. Connor Cook had chance to do that here, but the Buckeyes spanked Michigan State, winning 5th straight visit to East Lansing. .
Saturday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend
13) TCU-Kansas State is a big game in the Big X; Bill Snyder covered 13 of his last 16 games as a road underdog, winning SU at Oklahoma last month. Can Wildcats win at TCU?
12) If you were a casual football fan in Florida looking to buy Jaguar season tickets, and the NFL took the Dallas game this season and put it in London, what does that tell me? It tells me the Jaguars are going to move, either to London or LA. Too bad, but for this week it is London. Interesting to hear Deion Sanders/Michael Irvin say Sunday night that Tony Romo had to play in this game, based on how bad Brandon Weeden was against the Cardinals. No mention of Romo’s health.
11) Alabama-LSU is in Baton Rouge and it is always good theater. Crimson Tide covered once in its last seven games away from home. Its amazing how many games Les Miles has won in Baton Rouge with sub-standard QBs (other than Mettenberger). This game is most always a defensive slugfest.
10) Dolphins-Lions is a surprising big game this week. Detroit pulled two games out of its hat before their bye. Miami has played better and better each week, crushing the Chargers last week. Tannehill’s running (he was a WR at Texas A&M for two years) has bolstered the Miami offense.
9) Total yardage in LY’s Notre Dame-Arizona State game was 427-424, a 37-34 Irish win. This is only second true road game this season for Notre Dame, who gave up 39 points to Navy’s option attack last week. ASU’s offense is way more diverse. This should be an interesting game.
8) How healthy is Aaron Rodgers? He tweaked his hamstring in New Orleans two weeks ago. Packers are 5-0 on grass, 0-3 on carpet. Bears lost four of last five games, as natives continue to grumble about their QB.
7) Charles Barkley is going on a hunger strike until the Lakers win; he better be careful or he’s going to wind up looking like a 6-4 version of Manute Bol. The Lakers are terrible.
Unrelated note: in 1991, I gave up soda/pie/candy after the Rams lost a game to the Raiders, saying I wouldn’t have sweets again until the Rams won another game. That win came……11 months later, in Week 2 of the following season. Felt like a freakin’ idiot, but lost 30 pounds.
6) Good thing to watch with the Cavaliers’ development as a team: in their loss at Utah Wednesday, the Jazz passed the ball 421 times, Cleveland 269.
Kyrie Irving is learning how to play in this style of play; remember, during his one year at Duke, he didn’t play in any ACC games because he was hurt. Cleveland will be good eventually; its going to take a while for them to become more cohesive.
5) Mark Sanchez’ first Philly start is on Monday night against Carolina; no pressure there, in front of those easy-going Eagle fans. Sanchez will be an interesting study; if he does well, will Iggles part ways with Nick Foles?
4) Jim Mora is a Washington alum who from sound of it, wouldn’t have minded becoming the Huskies’ coach back when they hired Steve Sarkisian. Now Mora takes his UCLA Bruins to Seattle to play Chris Petersen’s Huskies; this will be one of the weekend’s better games.
3) Ben Roethlisberger threw 12 TD passes in his last two games, first NFL QB ever to do that. Now Pittsburgh visits Swamp Stadium to play the struggling Jets, who haven’t won since Opening Day. There might be more Steeler fans than Jet fans there; Terrible Towels travel well.
2) Ohio State-Michigan State is a rare Big 14 game that might be watchable over an SEC game; Buckeyes have been crushing teams since they lost to Va Tech early on. MSU’s Mark Dantonio might be the most underrated coach in America. This will be a very good game.
1) Saints are 4-4, but they’re 3-0 at home. 49ers need to win in Superdome to avoid falling to 4-5. Loser of this game is going to have lot of ‘splaining to do next week.
Friday's List of 13: Our NFL's bottom 5 and top 8.........
32) Raiders—Common thread between bottom four teams on this list are QB issues; Carr looks like he’ll be fine, but playing a rookie has its drawbacks. Oakland has played better the last four weeks, under interim coach Sparano.
31) Jaguars—Another rookie QB, another team that has been more competitive of late, but 1-7 is 1-7. They’re in England this week; NFL cheated their fans out of seeing the popular Cowboys to move this game to London.
30) Jets—Fire everyone as soon as the season ends. Coaches, QB’s, GM, janitors, secretaries, everyone. Start over; that way it’ll be easier to win in the long run.
29) Titans—First road start this week for young Mettenberger against Baltimore team smarting after consecutive division losses.
28) Buccaneers—Offense has legit excuse in that OC Tedford had to leave before season really started because of heart issues, so they’re getting outcoached badly on that side of ball since HC Smith is defensive guy and couldn’t step in and take over.
8) Dolphins—This time LY, Miami was in hell, its season ruined by the Incognito bullying scandal; Joe Philbin had wanted to cut Incognito the previous spring but was overruled, which is probably why the owner fired the GM after last season. Now Philbin has his team rolling and headed towards the playoffs.
7) Eagles—Mark Sanchez makes his first Eagle start this week at home on Monday Night Football. If he plays well, it’ll be another nail in the 2014 Jet coffin- they couldn’t wait to dump the guy two years ago.
6) Colts—Have a vast array of offensive weapons, but Luck has taken lot of hits this season; they’re screwed if he gets hurt. RB’s Richardson/Bradshaw are suspects, but they do have lot of weapons at WR/TE.
5) Packers—How healthy is Rodgers’ hamstring? He tweaked it at end of Saint game two weeks ago. Interesting game against reeling Bears Sunday night; both teams are coming off byes. Chicago lost four of its last five games.
4) Steelers—Roethlisberger is first QB EVER to throw 12 TDs in two-game span; now they go on road to face reeling Jets. Pitt lost only previous game on artificial turf this year, in Week 2 at Baltimore.
3) Broncos—Raiders can’t catch a break; they play Denver this week with Broncos reeling after their beatdown in Foxboro.
2) Patriots—Healthy Gonkowski makes a big difference in their passing game; still amazing how Patriots don’t have any good WRs. Edelman was a QB in college.
1) Cardinals-- Life is all about opportunity; Bruce Arians had to wait for a head coaching job until he was in his 60’s, now he is making the most of it. There are people out there saying Arizona is lucky; I say they’re getting the most out of what they have, despite a lot of injuries.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Lebron James played 85 minutes in Cleveland’s first two games, which is way too many; he was down to 35 in Tuesday’s loss in Portland, then played 42 minutes in Utah last night, where the Cavaliers lost 102-100.
Coach Blatt is going to have to learn how to dispense minutes to preserve his starters for the long season, especially James. Season is 82 games and as many as four playoff series, which could be 28 more games.
High drama at the end in Utah last night; Gordon Hayward hit a fadeaway from deep on the right wing as the horn sounded, dropping the Cavaliers to 1-3.
12) Cavaliers made their first ten shots in Portland, five of which were 3-pointers, then shot 28% the rest of the game; they need to find a dependable third scorer to supplement James/Kevin Love’s production.
11) Speaking of James, did the Miami Heat lower its ticket prices once he left? Its fairly obvious they won’t be as good; somehow I doubt they lowered prices, but hopefully they did.
10) FOX Sports 1 basketball analyst Bill Raftery filed for trademarks to his pet phrases "Onions" and "With a kiss" last week, protecting the use of the words as Raftery's during sports broadcasts and on clothes.
9) How did Sacramento let Isaiah Thomas get away? The lefty Washington alum is pretty good and is helping Phoenix bigtime so far. Not like the Kings have so many good guards that they couldn’t use the guy.
8) If you’re in Las Vegas December 17-20, the Jerry Tarkanian Classic will be played, a terrific high school basketball tournament with lot of really good players. I was there the last two years; its worth your time, if you’re in Vegas that week. Most of the games are at Bishop Gorman HS, I think.
7) Next big Cuban baseball star to come here will be 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas, who is said to be a stocky slugger being pursued by both the Phillies and Red Sox. Philly could use the money AJ Burnett just turned down to sign Tomas, who is 24 years old.
6) There are reports the Eagles were souring on Nick Foles even before he got hurt; Philly turned ball over 16 times in their last five games (-9) prompting rumors Eagle brass weren’t happy with him, all of which makes Mark Sanchez’ first Philly start Monday night a little more interesting.
5) Alfonso Soriano retired this week; he is one of six players in history with 400+ doubles, 400+ homers and 250+ steals in his career. Wasn’t much of a fielder, but was a very dangerous hitter.
4) Houston Texans pulled the plug on Ryan Fitzpatrick and will start Ryan Mallett at QB in Week 11; they have this week off. This was inevitable, with Mallett having been acquired from New England for a draft pick- they have to see what they have to see if they want to sign Mallett going forward.
3) Dodgers signed A’s assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi, a Berkeley-educated economist, as their next GM. Zaidi grew up in the Philippines, attended MIT as an undergraduate and, after getting his doctorate at Cal-Berkeley, decided to try to break into baseball after reading Moneyball. Hey, I've seen Moneyball the movie 25 times; can I get a job with the A's?
Not surprising, but it looks like the Dodgers’ new direction under Andrew Friedman will be heavily weighted towards analytics.
2) Timberwolves 98, Nets 91-- Minnesota led 17-2, then Nets went on a 34-14 run, but Wolves closed game on 18-5 run. Rubio had 14 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds as all five Minnesota starters scored in double figures.
1) I know they do it because they can charge more for those tickets, but it is weird how close some fans sit to the team benches in NBA arenas. At Lakers' home games in Staples Center, the opposing coach often stands right in front of Jack Nicholson. If a guy goes lunging out of bounds for a loose ball, he might knock over people's drinks who are sitting right there. You don't get that in other sports.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) This will remain fluid for the rest of the month, but if the college football tournament started today, the semi-finals would be:
-- Mississippi State vs Oregon
-- Florida State vs Auburn.
Alabama and TCU are the first two teams on the outside looking in.
12) Going to miss those political ads on TV—well, no I’m not. Whats the old joke? How do you know if a politician is lying? If his/her lips are moving.
11) Supposedly, Alex Rodriguez paid his cousin $1M to keep quiet about PED’s. Damn, I wish someone would pay me $1M to shut my mouth; I’d make Shields & Yarnell look like freakin’ auctioneers.
10) This is the month MAC football takes over ESPNU and ESPN2 on Tuesday, Wednesdays; I think Akron’s last four games are all on Tuesday nights.
I used to joke that teams would play at 4am if ESPN wanted them to, then the basketball tip-off marathon was born (Nov 18 this year) when there are actually games played at 6am and 8am local time in the east. It must help the schools involved or they wouldn’t do it.
9) European golfers Marcel Siem and Alexander Levy openly wagered 200 Euros (roughly $252) on each round of their tournament last week; not sure the powers-that-be were all that excited about openly gambling on a match during a tournament. Phil Mickelson is notorious for wagering on practice rounds, but that’s different.
8) Quick look at QB situations in the NFC East find Dallas/Philly starting different QBs this month because of injury. Washington started three different QB’s in their last three games then there are the Giants, where Eli Manning has started their last 158 games without a miss. The immobile Manning is struggling behind a shaky OL, but he plays every week and that’s important, to be a dependable player.
7) Phillies are rumored to be shopping 1B Ryan Howard, who can’t move, can’t hit lefties and makes $20M a year. Good luck there.
Only places I could conceive of him being useful would be Baltimore/Texas/Houston, AL teams with small home parks, but the Orioles are too smart for that. I guess Texas is a possibility. If the Astros traded for him it would be intriguing, since they’ve tried so hard to make Jonathan Singleton their 1B of the future.
6) If you live in Indianapolis, you might vote at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Butler plays its basketball games and where the final basketball scenes in Hoosiers were shot. How cool would that be, voting where Jimmy Chitwood ran the picket fence.
5) Cleveland Indians gave Terry Francona a much-deserved contract extension thru 2018; I enjoyed listening to him on TV, but glad he is doing well running a ballclub. Still think the Red Sox screwed up getting rid of him, though they won a World Series with John Farrell, after the Bobby Valentine debacle.
4) Cleveland Browns are a surprising/uplifting 5-3, but QB Brian Hoyer’s contract is up after this year and the team has a lot of $$ tied up in Johnny Manziel. This has to be the owner’s call I would think, whether to re-sign Hoyer or plunge forward with Manziel. Am very curious to see what they do, because their players are watching too. You know damn well Hoyer has the other players’ trust. Cutting him loose would be very risky business.
3) Rockets 108, Heat 89-- Houston is off to a 5-0 start despite whiffing in their free agent dealings. Rockets made 17 of 36 behind the arc. Think the Thunder miss James Harden? He had 25 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists in this game.
Kostas Papanikolaou has done really well replacing Chandler Parsons as a shooter; Houston was +17 when he was on the court in this game, even when he was off.
2) I highly recommend getting the NBA League Pass, tremendous entertainment on nights where there is a full schedule of games.
1) Cubs are said to be going heavily after free agent catcher Russell Martin, who will use the lack of quality catchers to become really, really rich this winter. Hope the Cubs are saving lot of money to buy some pitchers- thats what wins.
Tuesday's List of 13: Happy Election Day, everyone.......
13) Field position is an under-reported part of football. NFL teams are 45-1 this season when they win average starting field position by 10+ yards; only team to lose was the Raiders in Week 6, when they had a 10-yard advantage but lost 31-28 in the last 2:00 at home to San Diego.
12) NFL’s rules on protecting QB’s are BS; guys like Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III run, slide at the last minute with defenders rushing at them, then whine to the refs for a flag before they’re even done sliding. Once you break the pocket, you should lose any protection as a runner, especially if you cross the line of scrimmage.
11) Last time the football Cardinals were 7-1 was 40 years ago; they played home games in St Louis and were coached by the great Don Coryell, who had fantastic offensive teams with the Redbirds and Chargers.
10) Its not often two rookie coaches meet who had been coordinators on the same staff. Redskins-Vikings Sunday was Gruden vs Zimmer, both of whom were coordinators for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Who has the advantage, if anyone?
They both know a lot about the other, would be curious to know how that works. Long time ago, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were both coordinators for the Giants and became head coaches and later opposed each other in a couple of NFL title games. You wonder if either of them felt they had an edge.
Obviously the guy with better players has a leg up, I just mean in terms of one being able to anticipate what the other will do in certain situations.
9) Timing is Everything Department: Baltimore Ravens are 5-4 and in last place in AFC North. New Orleans Saints are 4-4 but are in first place in NFC South.
8) Steelers’ first four drives Sunday night totaled 18 plays for 29 yards, not very good. Their last nine drives totaled 47 plays for 394 yards and 43 points; all of a sudden Pittsburgh is a juggernaut and now they go play the 1-8 Jets this week. Oy.
7) Speaking of the Jets, they’re headed for a major overhaul in a couple months, which could be the best thing for them. In the meantime, they’ve lost eight games in a row, while old friend Mark Sanchez is now the starting QB for 6-2 Philly, at least for the next 6-8 weeks, maybe longer, depending on how Nick Foles’ collarbone heals.
First Eagle start for Sanchez is on Monday Night Football next week.
6) Rams had eight sacks of mobile Colin Kaepernick Sunday; they had a total of six sacks in their first seven games. Kapernick has now been sacked 14 times in his last two games; you see how unwilling Harbaugh was to run the ball in the last minute Sunday. He musn’t have much faith in his offensive line.
5) Wonder what it feels like after you’ve run a 26-mile marathon? Longest I ever ran at once was just under two miles in some stupid high school gym class; not my thing. Hell, if I drive 26 miles I’m looking for the nearest drive-thru window for a burger and a Cherry Coke. Running 26 miles just seems unhealthy.
4) Random movie/TV things: the actor who played Mr Bentley in The Jeffersons later on was Tom Cruise’s college professor in Cocktail.
Also, the guy who was Herman Munster in the old 60’s TV series wound up being the judge in My Cousin Vinny, 36 years later.
3) Why futures baseball bets are a horrible idea:
Cubs dropped from 400-1 to 200-1 to win the World Series after hiring Joe Maddon as manager. He doesn’t pitch and he didn’t bring any of his coaches from Tampa Bay. The guy the Cubs fired did a good job in his one year there and they cut the odds in half? Also, if Maddon is worth the Cubs getting their odds lowered, then how come Tampa Bay’s stayed at 500-1? Shouldn’t they have gone up to 750-1 or higher?
2) One thing that has made handicapping college basketball harder is teams are allowed two “secret” scrimmages, where they play what amounts to an exhibition game, but with no media and no reporting of results. Awesome. How does that help anything?
Anyway, for what its worth, someone on Twitter said Harvard nipped Providence this weekend. Harvard is favored to win its fifth straight Ivy League title this winter.
1) One thing I neglected to mention from Saturday: Maryland captains refused to shake hands with Penn State's captains before Saturday's game. Bush league; they got a 15-yard penalty for it. Before the game. How do coaches let this happen? Its not like its a great rivalry; it was their first meeting as conference rivals.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Saints 28, Panthers 10-- New Orleans snapped long road losing skid by holding Carolina to 231 yards. 4-4 Saints are in first place in AFC South. Carolina is 1-5-1 in last seven games after its 2-0 start; they scored total of 36 points (3 TD’s on last 30 drives) in last three games.
12) Dolphins 37, Chargers 0-- Severe ugliness for San Diego, which heads into its bye on 3-game skid. San Diego's last win in south Florida was famous playoff game in 1981, when Kellen Winslow led his team to a win, then was helped off field- they lost last eight visits to Miami since then.
11) Bengals 33, Jaguars 23-- LSU rookie Hill came off bench, ran ball 24 times for 154 yards; now we know why Les Miles didn't toss him off the team when he got in trouible last fall-- he's really good. His 154 rushing yards were most by a Bengal in any one game in last five years.
10) Browns 22, Buccaneers 17-- Every team in AFC North is over .500. Cleveland is 5-3 halfway thru season- they have big Thursday night game with Cincinnati coming up this week. Rookie WR Evans caught seven balls for 124 yards, two TDs for Bucs; ironic because he was Johnny Manziel's #1 target at Texas A&M.
9) Vikings 29, Redskins 26-- Washington had ball, 10-0 lead with less than 2:00 left in half, threw a pick, Vikings scored, gained momentum-- this turned into fun game in second half. Think rookie QB Bridgewater learned during game from watching RGIII use his feet to pick up key first downs- he needs to use his mobility more.
Odd stat: Jay Gruden is 0-6 on replay challenges; the NFL average is 36%.
8) Eagles 31, Texans 21-- "Costly victory" is a cliche, but Philly lost QB Foles, LB Ryans for year with injuries; Mark Sanchez (15-22/202, 2 TD, 2 INT) is now Eagles' QB. Houston rookie Clowney sat out another game; NFL.com reported that Texans coaches are getting frustrated because Clowney has already missed seven games.
7) Chiefs 24, Jets 10-- Don't think the Jets get outcoached? In their last six games, Jet opponents, on their first drive of the game, have scored four TDs, two FGs, with 394 yards allowed on 46 plays (8.6 yards per play). Chiefs converted 8 of 13 on 3rd down, in only game this week with no turnovers by either side.
6) Cardinals 28, Cowboys 17-- Romo didn't play; only Cowboy TD before last 2:00 was scored by their defense. Arizona (7-1) has best record in NFL; they had four TDs in four trips to red zone. Dallas scored seven points in three red zone drives-- they've scored exactly 17 points in all three losses
5) Rams 13, 49ers 10-- Niners had 1st-and-goal from inside 3-yard line with 0:43 left but didn't score, as Kaepernick fumbled on QB sneak on last play of game. Rams had to make 18 personnel moves during week to replenish an injury-ravaged roster, this was a really good win for them.
4) Patriots 43, Broncos 21-- 110 passes were thrown in this game, most in history of NFL, for a non-OT game. Patriots converted 6-11 on third down, won field position by 14 yards. Brady is now 11-5 in games vs Manning; Patriots won last five games (4-1 vs spread); they covered 14 of last 18 when getting points, are 26-18 vs spread in last 44 home games.
3) Seahawks 30, Raiders 24-- Seattle led 24-3 at half, but blocked punt for TD got Oakland back in game. Raiders are winless, but none of their four losses in true road games were by more than 10 points. Odd note on Seattle: on their first drives in third quarter this season, Seattle offense has been outscored 7-3 by opponents' defense or special teams- they've gained only 148 yards om 43 plays on those drives.
2) Steelers 36, Ravens 23-- Roethlisberger is first QB in NFL history to throw 12 TD passes in two-game span. Of the 22 guys who started for Baltimore's Super Bowl champs two years ago, only eight of those players are still on the Ravens.
Steelers play their first road game in four weeks next week- they've got one home game between now and December 20th.
1) Other notes from this weekend:
-- Steelers' retired Joe Greene's #75, just second number they've retired.
-- 45-year old Dwayne Roloson was Anaheim's emergency backup goalie Sunday; they lost two other goalies to injuries this weekend.
-- Minnesota Twins offered Paul Molitor their managing job.
-- Six most popular picks in Westgate contest went 2-4, are 28-26 this season.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Saturday.......
13) Auburn 35, Ole Miss 31-- Rebels fumbled twice inside Auburn 10-yard line in last 7:00. Rebels' star WR Treadwell broke his ankle on 1-yard line with 1:30 left, fumbling as he fell to ground in pain, on a play that appeared like it was going to be a sure TD. Auburn overcame 13 penalties for 145 yards with excellent balance- they ran ball for 248 yards, threw it for 254.
12) TCU 31, West Virginia 30-- Horned Frogs kicked 37-yard FG at gun as they came back from being down 27-14 with 18:00 left; not best day for QB Boykin (12 of 30 passing), but he drove TCU 56 yards for winning points when it mattered most. Mountaineers turned ball over five .
11) Mississippi State 17, Arkansas 10-- #1 Bulldogs trailed Razorbacks at half; this is an Arkansas team that hasn't won an SEC game in two years. Total yardage was 459-401 State; I keep saying they're not the best team, and they keep winning.
10) Wyoming 45, Fresno State 17-- Brian Hill ran ball 23 times for 283 yards and caught three passes for 106 more, scoring two TDs as Cowboys improved to 4-5.
9) Bulls 106, Timberwolves 105-- Chicago got first interconference win (1-6) for an eastern team, despite oft-injured Derrick Rose sitting out again. Since start of 2012-13 season, Rose has played in 12 of a possible 165 games. He makes $17M a year.
8) Florida 38, Georgia 20-- Gators ran ball down Georgia's throat for 418 yards, with game turning on fake FG/TD that tied game 7-7. Dawgs went in tank from that point on. Florida only threw ball six times the whole game.
7) USC 44, Washington State 17-- Wazzu QB Halliday, who threw for 734 yards in a game October 4, saw his college career end with a broken leg. Coogs are 2-7 and not showing progress expected under Mike Leach. USC is 6-3; their first score came on a 65-yard punt return.
6) Tennessee 45, South Carolina 42 OT-- Vols have their QB or future in young Joshua Dobbs, who threw for 301 yards, ran for another 166, rallying Tennessee back from 42-28 deficit with 2:00 left. Not a good nite for Steve Spurrier, whose postgame press conference lasted 54 seconds.
5) UTEP 35, Southern Miss 14-- Game was 7-0 at half, then got weird; Miners had second half TDs on a kick returm, INT return and fumble return. Southern Miss also had a defensive TD in second half. Eagles outgained UTEP 402-234; neither team completed half its passes. Miners are improved at 5-3.
4) Arizona State 19, Utah 16 OT-- Utes' Andy Phillips is an inexperienced kicker, but a very good one; he missed an easy FG in OT, then ASU made theirs and moved to 7-1, outgaining Utah 444-241.
3) Ryan Moore won the PGA tournament in Malaysia, getting help when Kevin Na lost a ball in a tree on the 17th hole- Moore won this event last year, too.
2) Arkansas State 44, Idaho 28-- Vandals (+15) suffer bad beat, turning ball over eight times (-7), including a fumble that was run back 93 yards for a TD. Idaho led in third quarter, but ASU scored last 20 points of the game.
1) Turns out Tony Romo has two small fractures in his back; they actually put him back in the game Monday night with a broken back. Roger Goodell puts in these rules to deflect the possibility of lawsuits down the road; how is a player allowed to play with broken bones in his back? Who thinks this is a good idea?
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) Kevin Durant has a walking boot on his injured foot, Russell Westbrook broke his right hand Thursday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder are 0-2, with not much relief in sight before Thanksgiving. Like we said, its going to take 50 wins to make the playoffs in the west; Thunder aren’t putting a 50-win team on the floor anytime soon.
12) In 2008, NFL teams averaged 211.3 passing yards per game; so far this year, 241.7. That’s a 14.4% increase in six years.
11) ESPN the Magazine had some interesting stuff this month; from 2001-03, NFL tight ends were responsible for 15.8% of a team’s passing yardage. From 2012-now, that number has risen to 22.6%. Spread offenses are said to the reason why.
10) CBS is remaking the Odd Couple again next TV season, with Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison. This will make me sound old(er) but no one could top Jack Klugman as Oscar.
The next few notes are related to college basketball and again, they come from my reading of this week’s ESPN the Magazine…….
9) ESPN’s Jay Bilas says if Kentucky divided its team into two 6-man units, both units would be ranked in the top 25, that show much talent they have. Calipari’s team actually has too much talent; no way he can keep all those guys happy.
8) Wisconsin returns 82% of its minutes from last year; their defense slipped last year, curious to see if what is basically the same team will play better defense this season.
7) Duke’s 2-point FG% defense was 49.1% LY, which ranked 13th……in the 14-team ACC. Freshman C Jahlil Okafor is supposed to be really good, so we’ll see if Duke is better defensively this year.
6) Villanova was 8-1 LY in games decided by 5 or less points, or in OT; the other seven #1/#2 seeds in NCAA’s were a combined 43-22 (66.2%) in close games like those, which infers Villanova may have had luck on its side LY. Wildcats have a veteran team, should win Big East this year.
5) Gonzaga has a freshman named Domantas Sabonis, whose dad Arvydas was the best basketball very few people saw play, at least until he tore his Achilles tendon. The elder Sabonis played for Portland late in his career, after the injury, but was in Russia at the peak of his career, before the Internet. His son is supposed to be very good and should help the Zags win the WCC again.
4) VCU was a bully team in the A-14 last year; they forced turnovers on 23.6% of possessions, rebounded 35.5% of their missed shots, so they were just a lot more athletic than most opponents. But if you didn’t turn the ball over forced them to set up in the half court, they made only 44.6% of their 2-point shots, 9th in a 14-team league. If you held your own on the boards, then they struggled to score.
3) SMU made 37.9% of its 3-pointers last year, which is very good, but they ranked 339th out of 351 D-I teams when it came to %age of shots that were 3’s.
Larry Brown is old-fashioned and doesn’t like the trey, despite playing/coaching in the ABA. We’ll see if Coach Brown, a media darling for sure, gets his team in the NCAAs after they were a disappointment in missing it LY.
2) Syracuse scored 63 or less points in 11 of its last 13 games LY and lost 59% of its minutes played from LY. Boeheim always has players, but his players this year are very young and could struggle some in an improved ACC. Don’t forget, Louisville is in the ACC now.
1) Say what you want about Jameis Winston, but he is 21-0 as a starting QB in college and he’s stared down a few double digit deficits.
His career going forward is going to be fascinating to study, as he heads to the fishbowl that is playing QB in the NFL.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) As an A’s fan, I’m well-versed in losing good players to rich teams in free agency, but for the Rays to lose their manager……to the Cubs, well that has to sting a little extra. Money talks and Joe Maddon is cool for admitting it; plus if someone ever wins a title with the Cubs he becomes a God, so there is no downside there.
Remember that Maddon was close with the late Don Zimmer, who managed the Cubs from 1988-91 and made the playoffs with Chicago in ’89.
12) Read this week that 55% of gas stations in this country are selling gas for less than $3.00 a gallon; here in upstate NY, it is in the $3.30’s.
11) Florida State was down 21-0 at Louisville, 24-7 in third quarter, but Seminoles rallied as usual and won going away 42-31. Cardinals were 1-11 on third down. Needs to be said that Jameis Winston is now 21-0 as a starting QB at Florida State.
10) Tremendous exhibtion by Madison Bumgarner in World Series; my next question is this: Does his workload this season (270 IP) affect how Giants bring him along next spring? He is a valuable commodity, will be interesting to follow.
9) Rough debut for Lebron and Cavaliers, who lost to the Knicks; James was 5-15 from floor; Cleveland was actually +8 when Lebron was off the floor. NBA season is a long one; probably better to play Cleveland early on, before they get accustomed to playing with each other.
8) Dwight Howard made less than 55% of his foul shots the last three years; he hasn’t shot over 60% from the line since his rookie year. The guy makes $21M+ this season, how can he much such a hideous shooter? Doesn’t he practice? Least he could do would be to try shooting underhanded, like Wilt Chamberlain did. Rockets got KO’s from playoffs by one point last year; that’s one missed foul shot.
7) Remember Coach Reeves from the White Shadow, the great TV show in the late 70’s? Actor Ken Howard played Coach Reeves; saw him other day on an episode of Blue Bloods, playing a retired hockey player with dementia. Hard to believe its been over 30 years since White Shadow was on the air. Great show.
6) Found a link between White Shadow and Major League; remember Pedro Cerrano, the slugging first baseman who couldn’t hit a curveball?
Actor Dennis Haysbert played Cerrano; he also appeared in one 1979 episode of White Shadow as an opposing player. Haysbert was also the President in 24 and is the guy who does a lot of insurance commercials, can’t remember which company.
5) If DirecTV had a channel on NFL Sundays where DBs/WRs were miked and it was uncensored, I’d pay to listen to it. “Trash Talk Channel” would be a big success, but it would also incite and encourage more jawing which would be bad. Would be interesting to hear what gets said down on the field, though.
4) Explanation, please? Only 12 NBA players started all 82 games last year; four of the 12 played for Portland. This for a team that had Sam Bowie and Brandon Roy, two of the most injury-prone stars in NBA history.
3) Will college football teams run up scores to impress the selection committee? Would the committee be gullible enough to fall for such shenanigans? When you’re handicapping games, have to be wary of going against these contending teams, who might not be above adding on another score or two to impress people.
2) Horse named Free as a Bird was scratched from the Breeders Cup because the horse didn’t want to fly. Horse is stabled in Kentucky;it freaked out when they started the engines on the plane and he had to be taken off the plane. Expensive day for the owners.
1) Lakers lost their first two games by 18-20 points; when announcers are saying LA is anxiously awaiting the return of Nick Young to bolster the lineup, well you know things are bad-- Swaggy P isn’t that much of a difference maker.
Thursday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Saints lost their last seven road games and were favored in most of them; after this game, a 4-4 team will be in first place at halfway point in the NFC South. Three of NO’s four road losses were by three or less points.
12) Florida State has a dicey road game at Louisville; Seminoles are only favored by 3.5 points, which seems very low. Bobby Petrino is a good coach; not sure his team is ready to pull this upset.
11) Chargers lost their last two games after a 5-1 start, now visit south Florida, where they haven’t won since the Kellen Winslow/OT playoff game in 1981- they’re 0-7 at Miami since then, losing a tight one LY.
10) Stanford beat Oregon the last two years, holding Ducks to total of 34 points; they’ll be hard-pressed to make it three in a row.
9) 7 of 13 NFL games this weekend have a spread of 3 or less points; there are four home underdogs this week. Over is 19-6 in primetime games this season.
8) Pitt-Duke played a 55-52 thriller LY, in their first meeting as ACC rivals; this year’s game won’t be like that one, but should be a good game.
7) Lot of new faces in new places as the NBA season kicks off; how long will it take the Cavaliers to become a cohesive unit? It took the Heat a month or so when Lebron James first went there.
6) Brett Bielema still hasn’t won an SEC game at Arkansas, but he’s pretty good at beating up Sun Belt teams like he did last week; his Razorbacks visit Starkville and the #1 Mississippi State Bulldogs, whose QB Prescott wore a walking boot for at least part of this week.
5) Will Tony Romo play? Would Dallas be better off if he didn’t play for a week or two? Arizona is 6-1 despite using three different QB’s, with only loss at Denver. Cardinals won their last three games with Dallas.
4) West Virginia beat Baylor at home two weeks ago, now the TCU Horned Frogs come east to Morgantown; Horned Frogs scored so many points last week, the school ran out of fireworks that they shoot off after every TCU score. Total in this game (74) is the week’s highest as I type this.
3) Steelers are retiring Mean Joe Greene’s number Sunday night; what took them so long? Ravens are 0-2 against the Bengals, 5-1 against everyone else- they’ve won five of last seven games against the Steelers.
2) Auburn-Ole Miss is the best SEC game this week; can the Rebels bounce back after getting beat at LSU last week? Will teams try to run scores up to impress the Selection Committee? Will the committee care about such things?
1) Broncos won, covered all four games since their bye, but they’ve lost last four visits to Foxboro, after blowing a big lead there LY. You know its a big game when they say Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch it on TV in prison.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) College Football Playoff selection committee announced its first-ever top 25 rankings on Tuesday with Miss State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss the four teams. This will play itself out, but the initial reaction is that strength of schedule is going to be stressed and thats going to make future Septembers more fun to watch, as teams will be forced to upgrade their non-league schedules.
12) Baylor is 13th in the rankings; upgrade your schedule. Bears were favored by 34+ points in their first three games this season.
11) Redskin-Cowboy game was highest-rated Monday night game in four years.
10) That said, did ESPN even show Redskin owner Daniel Snyder once? Jerry Jones had an in-game interview, had to be on camera 25 times, but no sign of Snyder that I can remember-- they were more interested in showing Colt McCoy's dad.
9) ESPN did show Tony Wyllie, the Redskins' PR guy, pulling McCoy away from an ESPN Desportes reporter, grabbing him by the jersey. Apparently the TV business is also a contact sport-- there is a protocol to when/where players do interviews and Tony Wyllie takes that protocol seriously. Don't mess with him.
8) Jackass update: Bears' DE Lamarr Houston tore his ACL while celebrating a sack of the Patriots' backup QB when New England was winning by 25 points. He is the second NFL player to do that this season. It is not smart.
7) Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks all have new general managers, which means the Giants are only NL West team that hasn't changed GMs this year.
6) San Diego hired scouting director Logan White away from the Dodgers-- he has a very good reputation as a talent evaluator. San Diego seems to be doing smart things as far as beefing up their scouting department-- its the best way for smaller market teams to become competitive, and then stay that way.
5) Hawai'i fired basketball coach Gib Arnold Tuesday, not the best thing to do on October 28, but an indication the NCAA may come calling soon. An assistant coach also got the boot. Have a nice season, fellas.
4) We all have worked for bosses we don't like much; imagine how hard it must be for an NFL QB, if he doesn't get along with his head coach or offensive coordinator?
3) San Antonio 101, Dallas 100-- Tremendous game. Seriously. Someday, when the NBA cuts back to 64 or 68-game schedule, you'll see a lot more games like this, when both sides have fresh legs more often.
2) Marv Albert is 73 years old and still going strong calling NBA games. When FOX resorts to showing Erin Andrews interviewing a couple who just had a baby during a World Series game, they're telling me to put the Spurs game on. In the 4th inning.
1) Grant Hill is now teamed with Albert and Greg Anthony on TNT; does every Duke alum have to be on television? When does Greg Koubek get his TV gig?
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Selfishly, I’m hoping Joe Maddon doesn’t manage next season and works on ESPN baseball telecasts; you never know for sure, but I’m guessing Maddon would be television gold.
12) Sports books in Las Vegas opened at 6am Sunday to accommodate people who might want to bet on the ridiculously early Lion-Falcon game from London. I love watching football, but it doesn’t need to be on 24 hours a day. People need time to sleep.
11) Odd fact: both punters in the Ole Miss-LSU game Saturday night are from Australia. I’m pretty sure LSU’s last three punters were all from Down Under.
10) Kentucky QB Patrick Towles is the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning; Gary Danielson was adamant Saturday when he said he thinks Towles will be a good NFL QB.
9) NFC South standings: :
Carolina 3-4-1, Saints 3-4, Falcons 2-6, Bucs 2-6. Not much to endorse there.
8) Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards Sunday, so whenever we see highlights of that game in years to come, we’ll see the God-awful Steeler throwback uniforms, which look like prison garb. Does anyone buy those?
7) Because it is never too early to gamble, here are odds to win '15 World Series:
6) TCU scored 82 points Saturday, causing the school to run thru its entire stash of fireworks that they were supposed to use the rest of this season whenever the Frogs score a touchdown.
5) Somehow Notre Dame has suckered NBC into throwing money at them to televise their home football games; even more bizarre was BYU’s decision to also be an independent in football, so they wouldn’t have to share any BCS-football money that they earned.
One small problem; BYU ain’t Notre Dame. Their QB got hurt last month, now they lose every week- they’ll be lucky to get to any bowl. BYU should’ve stayed in the Mountain West.
4) Detroit Lions got back from their London trip at 1:15 Monday morning; they’re on the post-London bye now, but some of those coaches probably went right in the office and started watching film of their next opponent.
3) Packer-Saint game Sunday night got better TV ratings than Game 5 of World Series; MLB continues to pay for shoving Red Sox-Bronx down our throats during the regular season. Other teams make the World Series, less people care, since they don't know those teams, having never seen them during the season
2) Jerry Jones finished his live interview on Monday Night Football just before Tony Romo got hurt and left the game; would've been some interesting live TV had Jones still been miked when Romo got hurt.
1) If you bet the Super Bowl blindly today, line is AFC -3 over the NFC.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Lions 22, Falcons 21-- Long trip home for Atlanta, which led 21-0 al halftime. Word is NFL will have five of these London games next year; not fond of starting a game at 9:30am ET. Second week in row Lions won after being in hopeless situation, good for them. NFC South teams are putrid.
12) Vikings 19, Bucs 13 OT-- Minnesota tied game with FG at gun, then scored a defensive TD on first play of OT to snap 3-game losing streak and go home happy. Four of six Buc losses are by six or less points, with two of last three in OT- they scored 17 or less points in five of seven games. .
11) Patriots 51, Bears 23-- Brady was 30-35/354 with five TD passes; this game was 38-7 at the half. Going to be long bye week for the Bears, who visit Lambeau in first game after their bye- they've lost four of their last five games. Patriots are now 22-15 vs spread in last 37 games as a non-divisional home favorite.
10) Chiefs 34, Rams 7-- Rams' putrid lack of production from WRs is summed up by this stat; they're last in NFL, getting only 8 first downs vis penalty- DBs do not respect them enough to grab/hold/interfere with them. St Louis special teams won game last week; they were not good in this one, missing a chip shot FG when it was 7-7, giving up a 99-yard kick return when it was 10-7.
9) Seahawks 13, Panthers 9-- Seattle has come to Charlotte and won three years in row, by similar scores: 16-12/12-7/13-9. Rumors persist there are problems between QB Wilson and other Seahawks. Carolina is 1-4-1 after its 2-0 start.
8) Bills 43, Jets 23-- Jets were -6 in turnovers, lost for 7th game in row after being first 1-6 team EVER to be favored a team with a winning record. Bills threw for 217 yards despite throwing only 17 passes- they won field position by 30 yards.
7) Dolphins 27, Jaguars 13-- Jax rookie QB Bortles had three turnovers, giving him six in the past two weeks and 13 in six games. Four of those have been interceptions returned for touchdowns, two by Miami here. Dolphins are unspectacular but 4-3 and thats a hell of a lot better than last year's debacle.
6) Texans 30, Titans 16-- Tennessee RB Greene was arrested Friday after parking his BMW in a handicapped spot, then almost hitting a traffic cop as he left the scene. Distractions like this are almost always a red flag. go-against sign, especially for a team starting a QB for first time in NFL. No news is good news.
5) Bengals 27, Ravens 24-- Terrific game that turned many times, last of which was when refs called offensive interference on Steve Smith with 0:32 left, negating what would've been an 80-yard TD pass. Cincinnati sweeps the season series and now has tie-breakers over Baltimore.
4) Cardinals 24, Eagles 20-- Thing I like about Bruce Arians is that he blitzes the other QB when he is protecting a lead late in the game. Arizona had TD passes of 80-75 yards, Eagles had only a FG to show for three red zone drives, and also threw an INT in the end zone from the 25. Hard to win that way.
3) Steelers 51, Colts 34-- Big Ben is now 100-50 as an NFL starter after throwing for 522 yards as Pitt dismantled a Colt team that had won five in a row. Back when he was a HS junior, Ben sat behind the coach's son, who wound up playing WR at a Division III college. Coach must be a helluva guy.
2) Browns 23, Raiders 13-- Good sign for Cleveland fans, winning easily against an inferior opponent. Raiders have now lost 13 straight dating to last season. Oakland has dropped 16 games in a row played in Eastern time zone -- a streak that started in 2009. Browns are now 4-3, matching their win total of last season.
1) Saints 44, Packers 23-- Green Bay is 0-3 on artificial turf, Saints are 3-0 at home. Luck of the schedule whether you play New Orleans at home or in the Superdome. Rodgers dinged his hanstring in this game, but Pack has next week off, so he can get better before they play the Bears on Sunday night, November 9.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Saturday.......
13) Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 31-- #1-ranked Bulldogs got good challenge at improved Kentucky, which passed for 401 yards, but couldn't handle State's running game. Bulldogs ran for 324 yards, ran a squib kick back for clinching TD with 2:22 to play. No way is Mississippi State the best team in the country.
12) TCU 82, Texas Tech 27-- Tech beat the Horned Frogs the last two years; this is a league game, and TCU scored 82 points!!!! Frogs had 785 yards of offense. Here's a hint for Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury-- recruit defensive players. A lot of them.
11) Arizona State 24, Washington 10-- Game was 10-10 with 4:00 left, but ASU scored twice in last 3:00 to get on the plane happy- they're 4-0 on road. QB Kelly got knocked silly when he threw GW TD pass; Sun Devils got clinching pick-6 with 0:53 left- they host Utah, Notre Dame the next two Saturdays. .
10) Georgia Tech 56, Pitt 28-- Panthers lost five fumbles on their first 13 plays and trailed 28-0 5:16 into the game. No bueno, especially against a team that is content to run the ball for three hours. Tech ran the ball for 465 yards.
9) Michigan State 35, Michigan 11-- Another dismal day for Brady Hoke, whose players planted a stake on Spartan Stadium turf after running onto the field before the game. Michigan State players and their coaches noticed, so when Spartans scored a meaningless TD in game's last minute, that was why.
In case you wondering, the 17-point spread Michigan got in this game was the third-biggest Wolverines had ever gotten in a game-- ever. Michigan got 20+ points in a couple of games in 2008, against Penn State and Ohio State.
8) Nebraska 42, Rutgers 24-- This is my weekly plea for geographic sanity; why are these teams in the same league? Rutgers is in New Jersey, which is, according to Mapquest, 1,297 miles from Lincoln. Apparently TV money drives all this, but it baffles me how taking so many long road trips helps Rutgers win.
7) Giants 11, Royals 4-- KC led 4-2 in middle of 5th inning, but their bullpen got roughed up and World Series is now 2-2. Since 1982, when WS is tied 2-2, team that wins Game 5 has only won series four of 11 times.
6) Marshall 35, FAU 16-- Unbeaten Thundering Herd were down 16-14 at the half in this game, but held Owls scoreless in second half. There was a female official in this game; Maia Chaka, who Mike Pereira thinks will be in the NFL fairly soon.
Pereira is really, really good on TV; he works a lot of games in the studio and gives clear rules explanations for his opinions and he is usually right.
5) Utah 24, USC 21-- Trojans fell to 5-3 when Utah scored with 0:08 left to win; five of USC's eight games were decided by 6 or less points.
Unrelated weather note: It is 2am as I type this-- we just had a thunderstorm here in upstate NY, complete with a brief hailstorm. Weird for this time of year.
4) Kansas State 23, Texas 0-- Why did Texas fire Mack Brown? Longhorns hadn't been shut out since Oklahoma beat them 12-0 in 2004- they look terrible now.
3) UCLA 40, Colorado 37 OT-- Mark my words: two years from now, Colorado is going to be really good. Coach MacIntyre is building a solid program, it just takes lot of time to build a solid football program, unlike basketball.
2) Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 OT--Buckeyes were up 17-0 at half, but threw a pick-6 early in third quarter and wound up surviving in OT, in a game where neither side gained 300 yards. Penn State has now lost its last three games, scoring total of 36 points, not counting the OTs in this one.
1) LSU 10, Ole Miss 7-- This was a fierce throwback-type game where Tigers ran ball for 264 yards, but kept shooting itself in the foot, with a missed FG and couple fumbles in Ole Miss territory. LSU finally drove ball 95 yards on 13 plays to win on a TD with 5:07 left, then survived the Rebels' final drive.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Miles, whose mom Martha passed away Friday night, at age 92.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Sad day to be a Rays’ fan; manager Joe Maddon has bolted St Pete. He had an opt-out clause written into his last contract in the event GM Andrew Friedman left the team, which happened earlier this month. I’m guessing Tampa Bay will hire Dave Martinez, Maddon’s bench coach, but it is a sad day to root for the Rays.
Maddon had a .517 winning percentage in nine years with the Rays; in eight years before he got there, their winning percentage was .401.
12) Baseball sold its soul to FOX and is now paying for it; my friend lives an hour north of Pittsburgh. He told me the other day that he wouldn’t have been able to watch Pirate playoff games had they advanced to the NLDS, because his cable system doesn’t carry FOX Sports1.
How in God’s name does MLB allow freakin’ playoff games to be on stations that everyone doesn’t have? Do they want people to see their (excellent) postseason product? FOX uses the playoffs to try and get cable systems to carry this new channel. It makes no sense for baseball to be in this situation, but what do I know?
11) Broncos are up 35-21 with 2:00 left Thursday and they have the ball. San Diego is out of timeouts- Denver can’t possibly lose unless they throw the game.
The PA system is playing music, the fans are celebrating and Peyton Manning is going nuts after they got a 5-yard penalty because linemen couldn’t hear with all the noise. Seriously, he called out the scoreboard operator after the game;
Manning must be a lot of fun to be around, as long as he gets to run everything. Fans pay a king’s ransom to watch the games; they’re entitled to celebrate when the team wins. Too much noise? Deal with it.
10) Steve Nash’s great basketball career is over; he’ll make $9.7M this season for doing nothing, since he is hurt and was retiring after the season anyway. Saw the Lakers twice this preseason; if they make the playoffs, it will be a small miracle- they’re not very good.
9) If what you read about the Seahawks having dissension is true, then those long plane trips they take to road games must be a lot of fun. Because of living up in the Pacific Northwest, Seahawks usually fly the most miles of any NFL team; St Louis last week, Carolina this week, for example. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
8) Speaking of the Seahawks, still want to hear the whole story on Russell Wilson leaving NC State for Wisconsin after three years/36 starts. That just never happens in the college game; who willingly lets the star QB walk? There has to be a juicy story there somewhere.
7) All three of Indiana Hoosiers’ assistant coaches are former D-I head coaches, which is a lot more unusual than you would think. Most teams have at least one younger, up-and-coming coach; I can’t remember another team where all the assistants had been head coaches in D-I.
6) Speaking of Indiana, Hoosier alum/Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo broke bones in his face this week during practice this week and will be out for a while. Tough blow for the Magic, who may turn to rookie Elfrid Payton to run their offense at the start of the season.
5) Stat that I knew but to see it on paper was impressive: Michigan State has made the Sweet 16, the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, 12 of the last 17 years. That’s damn good.
4) Illinois basketball players have a good deal coming up; Nov 27-28 they play two games in Las Vegas, then four days later they have a game in Miami. Lot of pool time for them that week, though pools in Vegas might be closed by then. I’m sure they’ll find something to do.
3) You get the feeling that by the time this disciplinary hearing for Jameis Winston at Florida State takes place, the kid will be packing up his stuff to head to the NFL Combine. Lawyers are very skilled at delay tactics.
2) I’m pretty sure that last night was the last Friday night until June without meaningful basketball—that’s a good thing.
1) Was another Dumb and Dumber movie necessary? Seriously; couldn’t they have just re-shown the first one in theaters and everyone who would go pay $11 to go see it would’ve still been happy?
Friday's List of 13: What we're looking for this weekend.......
13) Back in May, who thought Eagles-Cardinals would be battle of 5-1 teams? Nick Foles comes back to Arizona as a much better player than he was for the Arizona Wildcats in college. This is Sunday’s best game.
12) LSU is a home underdog for the 5th time (2-2 in first four) in 9+ years under Les Miles; Ole Miss covered its last nine visits to Baton Rouge, but most of those were as pretty substantial underdogs.
11) Steelers scored 24 points in 2:54 Monday night against a Houston team that imploded. Indy has won five games in row and will not implode, but they’re 2-11 in last 13 games vs Pittsburgh, though this will be Luck’s first visit to Heinz Field.
10) West Virginia knocked Baylor from ranks of unbeaten last week, but now have a long road trip to Oklahoma State, which got bamboozled at TCU. OSU’s starting QB is out for the year; they’re 4-0 at home, but against all stiffs. WVU won both its true road games by three points each.
9) Oakland fired Dennis Allen when the Raiders got home from London; if the Falcons lose to Detroit across the pond, will Mike Smith get the Ziggy too? Atlanta has been playing terrible defense.
8) Mississippi State is #1 in the country, which just looks strange; they’ve got a trap game in Lexington, as a double digit favorite in Lexington, against improved Kentucky. Lot more media distractions when you’re ranked #1. Bulldogs haven’t been on road in over a month, either.
7) World Series shifts to San Francisco, where Ned Yost gets to test his magical managerial run while playing under National League rules. Yost used to manage in Milwaukee, so he’s done it before, but Billy Butler has to sit now, with no DH for three games.
6) USC has a tricky road game at Utah, which is having a hard time picking a starting QB- Utes are back to Wilson this week. Utah’s last three games were all decided by 6 or less points. Trojans allowed 26+ points in each of their last three games.
5) Rookie Zach Mettenberger gets his first start at QB for offensively-challenged Tennessee, with Houston in town after falling apart Monday night. Texans have to be really disappointed to be 3-4; they’re close to having a much better record.
4) Lane Kiffin’s going to be in Knoxville this weekend, which should have the locals out in full force. Young Vols are a 17-point home dog to Alabama, which looked really good at home last week after struggling to win 14-13 at Arkansas.
3) Ravens rallied from a 15-0 deficit to take a 16-15 at home against the Bengals in Week 1, before Cincy won it on a long pass with 5:00 left; now teams meet again in the Queen City, with Bengals on an 0-2-1 downer after their 3-0 start. Ravens are quietly 5-2; do you think they will re-sign Ray Rice if he gets reinstated?
2) South Carolina is getting 18 points at Auburn? Have to look up the last time Spurrier got 18 points in a game, has to be a decent amount of years, but his defense is sub-par this year and that’s bad news against a Malzahn team.
1) I think the Saints are going to break out and beat Green Bay Sunday night; nothing I’ve seen on TV this year endorses that opinion, just a feeling I have.
Think the Jets will beat Buffalo too, but you cannot give points with a team that’s lost its last six games.
Saturday's List of 13: My suggestions for Rob Manfred..........
13) Geographic realignment. Bud Selig wanted to do this, but got rebuffed on it. Too bad. Here is the way I would re-align the divisions:
12) The schedule.........
72 games-- Play four division rivals 18 times each......
60 games-- Six games against other 10 teams in conference
30 games-- Six games against five teams in division in the other conference, which alternates every year.
11) Leave pace of play alone, it is not a problem, except for the media. One of baseball’s strengths is that it doesn’t have a clock, it makes it unique. If you have to do something to speed up games, eliminate visits to the mound within a half-inning.
10) With that in mind, coaches do not come on the field during games; no stalling on the mound; you want to change pitches, just sub him like it was a basketball game. Call time, signal the new guy in.
9) Players are only people who should wear uniforms; why do baseball coaches wear uniforms anyway?
8) No activity is washed out; if game gets rained out in second inning, you pick it up from the point of interruption. Anything that happens counts.
7) All-Star Game goes to a USA vs World format; this would increase the competitiveness of the game, believe me. Home field in World Series is decided by who wins season series between Eastern and Western Conference.
6) Move trade deadline back to August 31; with second Wild Card, not many teams are out of contention by July 31. Trading creates interest.
5) Would it be too much to ask for all the warm weather/dome teams to play at home the first week each season? It won't be something that eliminates rainouts, but it should help reduce them.
4) Get rid of the designated hitter. Placate the players’ union with an increase of 60 jobs; go to 27-man rosters, but only increase rosters to 33 after September 1.
3) There is a place for the DH; spring training and All-Star games. DH would be optional for spring games, but since outcomes don’t matter, teams could use it to get guys more at-bats. As for the All-Star Game, no one wants to see a pitcher bat in one of those.
2) Its OK to imitate a good idea. Have managers throw the red flag for replay reviews, instead of going out on the field. Its just simpler. Overall, I like the replay system, but having managers go out there to stall to see if they want to challenge a play doesn’t seem right. Just use the flag system.
1) This is very important and probably the least likely thing to happen: $80M salary floor, $160M salary cap. Imagine how great the sport would be with more competitive balance, like in NFL or NBA or the NFL. Teams should be able to retain their own home-grown stars.
Small market teams can compete in small windows, but not over the long term. This way, everyone would have a chance, every year. Except the stupid teams.
One of the most fascinating part of modern sports for me is the tug of war between modern analytics and old-school philosophy, which is more sound?
I love numbers, but you can go overboard with them. There is a human element to sports and team building that cannot be ignored. Old school horse sense has its place, but there has to be balance. The best franchises have that balance and that’s why they give themselves the best chance to succeed.
the armadillo, click here