Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years' Day Bowl Predictions

I wanted to begin this post with a little lecture about urinating in public. From going out in Maryland over this winter break, I've learned it is a much more serious crime than I could have ever imagined.

So, the other night, my friends and I were enjoying the bars of Bethesda, and as we are walking up the parking garage to head out, my friend -- who shall remain nameless (cough cough The Skin) decided to take a leak in said garage. Ordinarily this would seem like a logical move given how much had been consumed alcohol-wise, and peeing against walls is just more exciting anyways. But where my friend went wrong was he did all this even after seeing two cop cars parked right outside the garage.

And lo and behold, as if he had a camera against the wall to document exactly when piss met concrete, up drove a cop ready to fill out some paperwork. Now, at first, I just laughed because getting caught for pissing in public is funny. But usually when you get caught for pissing in public, it's one of those slap on the wrist 100 dollar fine, and maybe if you're hammered a class on keeping your wanker inside the zipper. But as my friend returned to our car after a good 10 minute lecture from the cop, he had with him a urinating in public ticket worth $1000 or 6 months in prison. Basically, this douchebag cop gave my friend a criminal offense for pissing on a wall. I understand the need to enforce the whole no public nudity thing, but the guy had to take a piss, give him a break.

Sorry Skin, the Man is just against you, I guess.

I'm not saying eliminate peeing in public laws, but c'mon...this is America. This is the same country that allows bands like Nickelback and Limp Bizkit to become household music names. I think that's a bigger injustice than someone taking a leak against a wall...

But I digress, here's my New Year's Day bowl picks in short form because I'm about to start drinking for New Years.

Outback Bowl: Tennessee 31, Wisconsin 24
I think the Vols put up some big plays at the get go and force Wisco to abandon the running game early.

Gator Bowl: Texas Tech 42, Virginia 21
Red Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree begins his 2008 Heisman campaign early by putting up huge numbers.

Cotton Bowl: Missouri 38, Arkansas 31
This one is close because of Darren McFadden, but I think most of the Razorbacks will already be looking towards next season with Bobby Petrino. Add in all this SUV drama with Mike Conley, Sr. and McFadden and you've got a perfect recipe for a Tiger squad looking to show it belongs where Kansas is.

Capital One Bowl: Florida 50, Michigan 24
You think I'm crazy? No way I go with my own school here, I'm trying to prove Matt wrong, remember? Florida is essentially Appalachian State, except instead of having 1-AA caliber athletes, the Gators have some of the best athletes in all the land. A healthy Henne and Hart provide some points against an average Florida defense, but this one could get ugly quickly.

Michigan LB Shawn Crable on Tim Tebow: "He's just an ordinary quarterback." Well Shawn, now I hope he runs circles on you because that's just stupid to say considering he's the only sophomore to ever win the Heisman. Oh yeah, he has 50 TDs this year, too. And apparently he can carry large men in his arms when he may mor may not be drunk.

Rose Bowl: USC 38, Illinois 14
Illinois is not better than Michigan as seen by the Wolverines beating them in Chanmpaign at night without Chad Henne. And this is basically the same USC team that bent the Wolverines over and repeatedly kicked them in the ass in this very same game last year.

Sugar Bowl: Georgia 31, Hawaii 27
Sorry Rainbow Warriors, the honeymoon is over. Georgia was the hottest team in the country when the regular season ended, and for some reason, I don't think rust will be an issue.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wrapping up the NFL Regular Season

Well, as should be obvious, I am absolutely ecstatic with how the end of the regular season went for the Redskins. Finishing on a four-game winning streak have made the Skins an NFC version of the Jacksonville Jaguars: i.e the team nobody wants to face right now.

And when I started bragging via text message once Todd Collins hit Santana Moss to make the score 27-3, some people (cough cough Graham) shot back with texts along the lines of "You guys don't deserve to be in the playoffs, you lost to (insert one of the Skins numerous disappointing collapses this season). Well, guess what? At 5-7 and coping with the funeral of Sean Taylor, this team somehow, someway came together and strung together four impressive wins over some quality competition.

It started with a 24-16 win over the Bears, where the phenomenon that is Todd Collins came in virtually unprepared after Jason Campbell went down with a kneecap injury. Then the wind game at Giants Stadium, where the Skins physically dominated New York, 22-10. Following that was the showdown last week in Minnesota, in a must win situation, the Skins came out blazing to 25-0 lead and cruised thanks in large part to the play of Collins and a heady challenge by Joe Gibbs. And now, today, a manhandling of a Dallas team that, in all fairness, rested some starters. Still, unlike the Titans, who barely squeezed out a victory over a Peyton-less (for the most part) Colts team, the Skins allowed little doubt to remain over who deserved the last playoff spot in the NFC.

Todd Collins could probably get away with a lot of different felonies in the DC area if he chose to commit any.

Kudos have to go to Joe Gibbs, who has once again proven why he is a Hall of Fame coach. Call me a homer, but I don't think any other coach could have led a team that has gone through this much adversity to the playoffs. Simply put, the guy is a leader of men who inspires faith in everyone. There were grumblings that it might be time for the legend to step down, but I think this little run showed everyone that Coach Joe has a little left in the tank. I'd be remiss not to acknowledge the great play of Todd Collins, who has stepped in and played better than Jason Campbell. Make no bones about it, Collins has earned the right to start against Seattle whether Campbell is ready to play or not. I'd have Campbell as the backup, ready to come in if Collins is a disaster come Saturday. We'll get into the defense in later posts, but they have played remarkable all season, but have been downright dominant as of late.

It's onto Seattle now, where I do have my doubts as to whether the Skins can keep this going. The Seahawks have a quality offense with a lot of veteran players who flat out know how to win playoff games. And they are tough to beat at home, boasting a 7-1 record at Qwest field this season. We'll have to see and obviously there will be more as we come closer to the weekend.

Qwest Field is not a fun place to play for visitors.

More NFL Thoughts

Pats Complete Regular Season Perfection
I watched the entire Giants-Pats game on Saturday night, and there was never a point in time where I worried about the Patriots losing. I guess that's what happens when you have Tom Brady at quarterback. He's the clear cut choice for MVP this season, and seems to be able to dissect just about any defense imaginable. You can talk about all the uber talented players on that team (Moss, Welker, Maroney, Stallworth, Watson, Seymour, Samuel, Bruschi, Thomas, etc..) but none of it matters without Brady behind center. I was not one of the people cheering for the Giants because I really want a team to dethrone those pompous 1972 Miami Dolphin jackasses. I'm sick of hearing about how they root against all the unbeatens, and Tom Brady is a Michigan man so I have to respect that. That being said, I'm sticking with my Colts pick from about a month ago. We'll have to wait and see who the Pats play

Browns Miss Out on Playoffs
I had a lot of trouble watching the Sunday night matchup between the Titans and Colts because I really wanted to see the Browns make the playoffs. Yet I had to cringe as the Colts didn't play most of their big timers in crunch time. Even though Tennessee played the Chargers to overtime just two weeks ago, I think the Browns had a much better shot at advancing. I really liked their nucleus of Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Kellen Winslow and of course, Braylon. It's unfortunate the one time Anderson decided to play like dog shit was last week against the Bengals. Cleveland did still finish 10-6, a lot better than anyone could have imagined after watching that opening season debacle against Pittsburgh. They likely saved Romeo Crenel's job for the time being, too.

Poor Braylon. He had a sick nasty year, though.

Pittsburgh and Jacksonville Rematch
I watched a majority of this game a couple weeks ago, and I'm still not sold on Jacksonville winning in the playoffs, even if all the analysts say otherwise. Everyone is overlooking the fact that the Jags really don't have any players that have had significant success in the postseason. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is littered with players with winning playoff experience. This game is going to be an absolute dogfight, and despite the Steelers limping into the game, my gut is making me lean towards the Steelers. I think Pittsburgh can load up on the run, leaving its corners on an island. And the Jags one true weakness is at wide receiver, where they don't have a true playmaker.

Here's What I'm Thinking Prediction-Wise
As a disclaimer, these may change as the week goes on and I stumble on various facts about the game. But here's what I'm guessing in the immediate aftermath of the season:

Giants over Bucs
Steelers over Jags
Chargers over Titans

I will not be picking Skins games because I hate picking against them, even if my gut feeling tells me to.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bands of Our Generation

So I was up in the Dirty Jerz -- New Jersey for all you non-slang knowing people out there, although I think I may have completely made up the term -- for Chirstmas, as usual. And as usual I had to do the unbearable four-hour drive with my parents and brother. It sucks being squeezed into a backseat with nothing but the same stories my Dad has been telling me since I was five.

If I dipped, like my brother, it would be a different story. Somehow, someway, the kid manages to throw in some dip and spit in a cup the entire ride without my parents even knowing. I would do it, but that shit is nasty.

But without dip and having to amuse myself because my iPod got stolen about a year ago, I had a lot of time for deep thought. And when a Beatles song came on the radio, my Dad's initial reaction was "The band of my generation, the band of all generations." I agreed with the his generation part, and some of me said I agreed with the all generation past simply because The Beatles have been so influential for many other artists.

That discounts the work of some really quality artists. So I give you my list of the bands of my generation, which means from when I started listening to music seriously (for reference, the first CD I ever bought was "Dookie" which should give you a hint about one of the bands on the list). For each band, I will also include a quote from somebody who knows more than me about the band:

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers
I think they've cemented their place in history with Stadium Arcadium, which alongside Californication, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and By The Way, make them THE biggest band of my generation. Have they revolutionized music the way other bands like The Beatles, The 'Stones and Zeppelin have? No...they were just the best of one of the worst generations of music ever. They are the one band that has appeased the critics and the masses. From their early ska/punk roots of the '80s to the more mellow sounds of the By the Way album, the Chilis have encompassed so many genres of music, continually added new fans of diverse ages/races, and sold a shitload of albums all at the same time.

From Greg Tate of Rolling Stone talking about the album, Californication: "RHCP furthermuckers are now moving toward funk's real Holy Grail: that salty marriage of esoteric mythology and insatiable musicality that salvages souls, binds communities and heals the sick."

2. Pearl Jam
Obviously, everyone talks about the work of Nirvana when they speak of the whole grunge era, but I have trouble including Kurt on here because of his death. You need more than two albums to do that. Eddie Vedder is the modern day version of Bob Dylan, though. Too bad his lyrics will never touch Dylan's. You can't tell me you don't like "Betterman", "Alive", "Yellow Ledbetter", "Even Flow", "Daughter" and man the list goes on and on. Besides Bono, has this generation seen a better front man than Vedder, though.

Review of the Album "Vs.": "Terrific players with catholic tastes, Pearl Jam also serves up singer-lyricist Eddie Vedder. With his Brando brooding and complicated, tortured masculinity, he's something we haven't seen in a while ­ a heroic figure. Better still, he's a big force without bullshit; he bellows doubt."

3. Green Day
The definition of punk for our era, whether you like it or not. You can criticize them for becoming too mainstream but with "Dookie" and "American Idiot", the boys that are now men have two albums that will probably be remembered forever. Not too many bands can say that. And I'm not sure if this is a positive or not, but Green Day's music spawned the whole pop-punk generation which produced shitacular bands like Simple Plan, New Found Glory, and the All American Rejects. To Green Day's credit, they also can take credit for solidly average bands like Blink 182, Fallout Boy, and Sum 41.

Rolling Stone on Green Day: "Crude rhythms, rude attitude, pumping adrenaline and a loudly pronounced point of view are key. Once you get sucked in by that formula, any punk band sounds good at first – because the musical rush is so basic, familiar and overwhelming. That's also the reason most punk bands – and records – ultimately turn out to be crap. In punk the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets."

4. Radiohead
These guys define the indie scene of our generation. There are many who will say the three above Radiohead on this list don't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with Radiohead, but I disagree. If Radiohead had hit it big, and say, the Chili Peppers were mostly underground, people would say the same thing about the Chili Peppers that they currently say about Radiohead. Most critics hate bands that get mainstream popular, because critics have to be unique in their opinions or else they'll lose their jobs. That being said, "OK Computer" "The Bends" and "Kid A" are albums that were came out of nowhere and featured originality unheard of for our generation. I don't think any of the bands on this list can say they influenced music the way Radiohead has.

David Fricke: "Radiohead try too hard to be nonconformist -- as if they're embarrassed to just be pop -- but ambition hardly makes them ogres. It makes them special."

Bono is probably the single most influential person in the music industry today. What he says garners interest and respect from all the leaders of the world. And in turn, his music automatically garners respect from critics and fans, alike. He's clearly won more Grammys than any of the artists mentioned above, but some of those were won on reputation alone, something that isn't really fair. But don't discount their musical ability. From "Joshua Tree" all the way to the recent "How to Dismantle a Bomb" album, U2 hasn't actually had something you could call a bad album. Frankly, though, they are on here because their leader, Bono.

Rob Sheffield: "Ever since U2 started making noise in Dublin several hundred bloody Sundays ago, Bono has grooved to the sound of his own gargantuan rockness. Ego, shmego -- this is one rock-star madman who should never scale down his epic ambitions. As the old Zen proverb goes, you will find no reasonable men on the tops of great mountains, and U2's brilliance is their refusal to be reasonable."

Honorable Mention: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Oasis, Rage Against the Machine, The Smashing Pumpkins

I realize not putting Nirvana on this list will probably cause most music "experts" to not take this seriously. But most music experts are self-absorbed, pretentious pricks. I mean, seriously, they bashed Zeppelin in the '70s.

Oh wait, by saying all this, doesn't this make me a self-absorbed, self-loathing jackass like all of them? Nope, I'm a lot cooler than those tools because none of them would ever dream of putting a band as mainstream as the Chili Peppers on a best of list.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What a Win and More Bowls

First off, I would just like to wish everyone here a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, whichever you like better. Secondly, I'd like to show my gratitude for having one of the greatest coaches of all time, Joe Gibbs, as the head honcho for my team. That win over the Vikings last night was mighty impressive.

Heading into last night's game, all the talk was about the Vikes' 5-game winning streak and how they control both sides of the line of scrimmage, which would negate just how atrocious Tarvaris Jackson was at quarterback. Well, 12 hours later, it's the Redskins who have a 3-game winning streak and it was the Skins who controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. Now, the Skins control their own destiny for that wild card spot, and it's my favorite week of the year to be in DC: Dallas Week. Obviously, Gibbs and his crew can't overlook a 13-2 team, but the 'Boys essentially have nothing to play for. T.O. -- who burned us for 4 TDs in the game at Texas Stadium -- has already been ruled out and I wouldn't be surprised if Romo plays very little or not at all. Things are looking up...

That challenge of 12 men on the field, right when the momentum seemed to be going the Vikes' way, was a thing of beauty.

All that being said, if there's one thing I've learned as a Redskins fan over the years it's don't count those eggs before they hatch. The Cowboys game is always close and Romo's replacement, Brad Johnson, is a former Skin who probably hates Dan Snyder...and oh yeah he won a Super Bowl. I'm trying my darndest to score tickets to this game at Fedex.

Oh and if you haven't noticed...I'm 4-2 in bowl picks, a good start considering the little information I had on the teams that have played so far. I'm one East Carolina field goal away from being 5-1, too. Here's some more picks...

Meineke Car Care Bowl: UCONN vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 29 1 pm, ESPN

You have to admire the job Randy Edsall has done at UCONN, building a program that wasn't even in Division-1 in the '90s into a Big East contender. Jim Grobe has led a rebirth in football at Wake Forest, too. Neither of these teams has much offense, and both rely on their defense, so don't expect any sort of offensive explosion. Atleast that's what all the experts say. Obviously, I'm no college football czar, but something tells me this won't be as low scoring as others predict. I think this one comes down to the coaches and I like Randy Edsall a lot. He doesn't get recognized nearly enough.

UCONN 27, Wake Forest 20

Liberty Bowl: Central Florida vs. Mississippi State, Dec. 29 430 pm, ESPN

The bottom line is if Sylvester Croom doesn't make it to a bowl this season, his ass would be canned by now. But luckily for one of college football's few black head coaches, his team overachieved and made it to the postseason. Central Florida has the leading rusher in the nation, Kevin Smith, who will be looking to break the single-season record in this game. Don't take too much notice of the whole "Miss. St. is in the SEC so they'll have better athletes than UCF" thing because it simply isn't true. Mississipi State had a couple of nice upsets against some division opponents, but otherwise collected wins courtesy of its soft non conference schedule. I'm thinking UCF wants to make a statement in this one.

UCF 34, Mississippi State 14

Alamo Bowl: Penn State vs. Texas A&M, Dec. 29 8 pm, ESPN

Ah, the final chapter in the painfully mediocre and depressing Anthony Morelli era. Remember when he came to State College? Remember when the Nittany Lions thought they had Chad Henne all locked up only to see him escape to the superior college of Michigan? Remember how Morelli has the most underutilized weapons in all the land? Seriously, when Penn State fans look back on this season, they've got to think that their roster had all the makings of a Big Ten Champion, except at the quarterback position. But let's also remember what Morelli can do. Penn State always seems to beat those teams it is supposed to beat, and the Aggies are one of those squads. Without Dennis Franchione, who is a great bowl coach, Texas A&M should have a lot of trouble, especially if it can't run the ball. And if you've watched the Aggies at all, you'd know quarterback Stephen McGee is basically like a worse version of Morelli.

This is how I will always remember big Tony.

Penn State 27, Texas A&M 17

Independence Bowl: Alabama vs. Colorado, Dec. 30 8 pm, ESPN

Two coaches brought in to resurrect struggling powerhouses and all they got was the stinkin' Independence Bowl. But I would assume Dan Hawkins of Colorado is more than happy to be bowl bound given the destitute state the Buffs were in after the whole Gary Barnett ordeal. Nick Saban, while playing in a tougher conference, probably expected a lot more out of his Crimson Tide this season. They essentially threw the towel in after losing close to LSU, and then Saban did that whole September 11th thing. I do like Alabama's offense, though, and I definitely see them putting up a lot of points led by the older brother of the quarterback from Two-a-Days (that's QB John Parker Wilson, if you didn't know). But the word around the street is Saban, and therefore his players, aren't really taking this bowl all that seriously. The staff and Crimson Tide fans seem a lot more concerned with the stacked recruiting class coming in next fall. I think interested or not, the Crimson Tide — who also have stud WR D.J. Hall — have too much talent and speed for Colorado.

Alabama 34, Colorado 30

Armed Forces Bowl: Caifornia vs. Air Force, Dec. 31 1230 pm, ESPN

This is your classic underachieving big timer against more motivated, triple option running, less talented military academy. Seriously, it seems like yesterday Cal was No. 2 in all the land and on a beeline for a BCS Bowl (It was actually the beginning of October). Now, after starting 5-0, the Golden bears have lost six of their last seven. Air Force is going to a tough matchup for Cal because no Pac-10 teams run the triple option or anything remotely close to it. On the other hand, the triple option tends not to work when confronted by big time athletes, which Cal has plenty of...even if they underachieved big time. Another factor to take into consideration is Cal QB Nate Longshore having played the whole season with bone chips in his ankle. He's had a month off and now might actually be able to capitalize on the considerable talents of De'Sean Jackson. A lot of people see the Bears coming out like they have since October — a lackluster squad on the downfall. For some reason I see a rejuvenated team hitting the field on New Year's Eve.

Cal 31, Air Force 20

Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno St. vs Georgia Tech, Dec. 31 2 pm, ESPN2

Paul Johnson, formally of Navy, is the new coach of the Yellow Jackets, but it's defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta leading the way for Georgia Tech in this one. If you remember when Kirk Herbstreit wrongly stated Les Miles would coach at Michigan, it was Tenuta who Herby "announced" would be the new defensive coordinator. Overlooked among all this news was the fact that Tenuta is one helluva coordinator. Pat Hill is a great bowl coach, though, and Fresno State is not new to playing BCS conference foes. In fact, they relish facing them. But the Bulldogs are missing their leading rusher due to injury and the Yellow Jackets still have Tashard Choice at tailback.

Georgia Tech 24, Fresno State 14

Sun Bowl: South Florida vs. Oregon, Dec. 31 2 pm, CBS

This is your ultimate how the mighty have fallen bowl game. Without Dennis Dixon Oregon is a shell of the team that destroyed Michigan in the Big House. South Florida kind of fell of the map after that Rutgers loss after it reached No. 2 in the national rankings. Both were former No. 2's, actually, but unlike Oregon, the Bulls rebounded and won their final three ballgames. South Florida has a good run defense so Ducks' running back Jonathon Stewart won't be able to win this game single handedly.

South Florida 24, Oregon 20

Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. Florida State, Dec. 31 4 pm, ESPN

Alright, well I was already going to pick QB Andre Woodson, WR Steve Johnson, and Kentucky in this one and then the Seminoles got those academic suspensions, making this an easy selection. I'm actually kind of curious what sort of cheating the Florida State players did. Apparently, tutors and other school officials were helping athletes cheat for an internet-based course. But seriously, what did they expect? Shady Florida State guys were taking an internet course. If you're Bobby Bowden, what do you really say? "I guided you into an easy internet course and instead of making the most of your educational opportunities, you decided to cheat?" But who do you think made the tutors feel like it was okay to cheat? My money is on Dag gum Bobby Bowden.

Bobby Bowden...a true pioneer when it comes to upholding the academic standards of the NCAA.

Kentucky 42 Florida State 24

Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Indiana, Dec. 31 6 pm, NFL Network

This is a man's bowl. A 40-year-old man's bowl. It's too bad Indiana wants to win this really badly for its fallen coach Terry Hoeppner. Remember his motto of "play 13"? Well, the Hoosiers accomplished that mission and I'd look for their emotions to be running high in this one. This one should have some offensive fireworks and hopefully Mike Gundy will go off on the bush league sideline reporter that the NFL Network has there.

Indiana 42, Oklahoma State 31

Chick Fil-A Bowl: Clemson vs. Auburn, Dec. 31 730 pm, ESPN

This is going to be a really, really good game. Both teams have speed, great defenses and coaches with the first name of Tommy. I think the difference is Auburn, for some reason, switched offensive coordinators during these bowl practices leading up to the game. Al Borges has been replaced with Troy's Tony Franklin -- who will be implementing the spread offense immediately. To me, this sounds like the Tigers (of Auburn) are sacrificing the short term goal of winning this game for the long term goal of improving the offense. Chances are the game winning play is made on offense by Clemson's C.J. Spiller.

Clemson 21, Auburn 17

Alright, that's all I got for now. The New Year's Day predictions will come in the days that follow.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh Erin Andrews

I was perusing the internet just now and found a picture of this blog's favorite sideline reporter that I just had to post online immediately. Let's just get right to the point here...

Maybe I'm obnoxious for posting this, but I have a whole new respect for Iowa students everywhere. What this kid did took guts and was probably the highlight of his life until that point. It's too bad Michigan blows in basketball this year because with each loss my chances of covering a game with Erin goes down. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the picture.

More bowl stuff coming tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time to go Bowling Again Part 1

I returned home to Maryland a few days ago and my first adventure was to go to the friendly confines of College Park. It was a fun night with some boozing and what not, until the late hours of the evening. That is when good friend and blog enthusiast, Matt "See that mop" Brown accused me of being horrible at picking game, events, etc. The statement shocked and stunned me because I think I'm pretty smart when it comes to sports...I mean I have a blog and everything. The problem with Matt's argument about my poor prognostocating skills is that he used my near certain prediction of "Les Miles will be the coach at Michigan next season", which I was advocating over Thanksgiving as the prime example of my flaw.

Well, I got news for you I said in that last post, Les Miles would be the coach here had it not been for media sabotage. Besides that, you should be happy my prediction didn't come true because now Maryland may not have to lose by 40 points to West Virginia anymore.

That being said, Matt's statement made me look back on past predictions and reflect on what I've accomplished. And the sobering fact is...I do suck at predictions. I'm the guy who said the Miami Heat would win the Eastern Conference (if you've watched the NBA at all, you'd realize they are a shell of the team that won the title a few years back). I predicted the Mets and Padres to make the playoffs with a month left in the season. Oh yeah...and in picking 20 bowl games last year...I went 9-for-20. Definitely a good batting average, but for picking games that's just horrendous. So Matt, I've reflected and realized you were right even if you were wasted and had bad reasoning. But that's all about to change with this post...the 2007-08 edition of Bowl Pick 'Em. I'm predicting every bowl game and I'm going to be good at it...I promise...I hope.

San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Utah vs. Navy, Dec. 20 9 pm, ESPN
*Disclaimer...My Poinsettia Bowl pick was, in fact, made before the game actually happened. I just didn't finish all the bowls in time to post before Utah won.

This is your classic strength vs. strength game. Navy's rushing offense against Utah's rushing defense. I hate picking lame duck coaches and that's what Navy's Paul Johnson is because he's going to take over at Georgia Tech following the game. Chances are 30 percent of his mind went into making a gameplan for this bowl and the other 70 percent is already in Atlanta. Also Utah plays Air Force every year, so the whole surprise factor of the triple option (which Navy runs) shouldn't be there. I'm curious to see how many underclassmen perform well for Utah since they are coming to the Big House next season in a non conference game.

Utah 35, Navy 17
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic, Dec. 21 8 pm, ESPN2

Florida Atlantic just started playing Division-I football back in 2001, and this is its first bowl game. Memphis went 7-5 this year, five of which were by a margin of three points or less. Both teams apparently have high-flying offenses so there should be some scoring. But seeing as I haven't seen either of these teams play this season, you'd think a prediction would be hard to make. But if we look at common opponents, Memphis went 0-2 against Sun Belt Conference teams. Florida Atlantic, which is in the Sun Belt, went 6-1 in conference play.

Florida Atlantic 49, Memphis 38 Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati, Dec. 22 1 pm, ESPN2

Obviously, I'm a huge Bearcat guy considering I wanted their coach to be the next coach at Michigan. But it has to have been a distraction for the team when its coach keeps cropping up in rumor mills. Southern Miss on the other hand will be playing its final game for "legendary" coach Jeff Bower, who is stepping down after 17 seasons. Did you know he led the Eagles to 14-consecutive winning seasons? I didn't. The only problem here is Southern Miss is a runnning team and Cincinnati's weakness is its secondary. Add in my man Brian Kelly and I think you know where I'm going with this one.

I think I may have a Brian Kelly fetish.

Cincinnati 30, Southern Miss 24

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. New Mexico, Dec. 22 430 pm, ESPN

Right off the bat, you'd think New Mexico would win considering it's going to have home-field advantage. But seriously, how many New Mexico fans are there anyways. Add in the loss of their leading rusher, Rodney Ferguson (academically ineligible) and inconsisten QB play throughout the year and this one looks easy to predict. I'm actually going to watch this because with Nevada freshman QB Colin Kaepernick (19 TDs, 3 INTs after becoming the starter in October), the Wolf Pack are poised to be the next Hawaii or Boise State in a season or two.

Nevada 31, New Mexico 14

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl: UCLA vs. BYU, Dec. 22 8 pm, ESPN

This game looks like it should be easy to pick considering the Bruins and Cougars played earlier this season with UCLA winning 27-17. But like I said earlier with Navy, I'm not a huge fan of picking teams with lame duck coaches and Karl Dorrell is one of those guys. But wait, it gets complicated because Dorrell has chosen not to coach this game after getting fired, giving the reins to DeWayne Walker. BYU is riding a nine-game winning streak and has that potent offense that those dang Mormons always seem to have. The big question to me is whether UCLA can move the ball against the Cougars. The Bruins will be getting several playmakers back on offense because of the long break between the end of the season and the bowl game. This one really could go either way.

BYU 24, UCLA 20

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. East Carolina, Dec. 23 8 pm, ESPN

I've always wondered what state East Carolina was in because as we all know there is a South and a North Carolina but no East Carolina. So I did some research and it is in Greenville, North Carolina. East Carolina is also coached by a son of Lou Holtz (his name is Skip), so you know this team is going to have some sort of ridiculously funny/mildly motivating pregame speech going into this one. Oh, but wait, Boise State has lost twicein two years and one was to Colt Brennan. My only issue is that apparently Boise State is enjoying Hawaii too much already. The Broncos leading receiver has already been suspended for the game and their best offensive lineman got hurt in pratice. Here's an interesting factoid about this game...the Boise State players had a choice to play in this game -- which is in Hawaii -- or in the Humanitarian Bowl, which is in Boise. Their fan base is pissed the players chose Hawaii, but c'mon can you really criticize the choice.

Boise State 31, East Carolina 20

Motor City Bowl: Purdue vs. Central Michigan, Dec. 26 730 pm, ESPN

Well, if you've watched Big Ten football this year, you'd know Purdue is your classic "win games against the bums, lose games against anyone near decent" team. A interesting caveat in this game will be motivation because this is a big deal for Central given it's the only bowl game the MAC gets into. Purdue is the sixth-seventh best team in the Big Ten and still got in a bowl. But the Chippewas already got their big time upset of the holiday season in basketball when they beat Michigan the other day. Add in the fact that Purdue blew out Central in the beginning of the season and it's obvious where this is going.

Purdue 38, Central Michigan 17

Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas, Dec. 27 8 pm, ESPN

Every year, the Holiday Bowl always seems to have one of those teams that just barely missed out on a BCS bowl game and now has to settle for a lesser one. This year, that team is Arizona State. Obviously, the big thing in this one is motivation. Texas coach Mack Brown has said he has no depth chart for this game, meaning a lot of younger players will be in the lineup. That's good and bad because you lose some experience, but those younger guys are going to be amped up to play. But it's not like ASU is one of those teams that's going to be lacking for motivation playing a big time school like the Longhorns. Rudy Carpenter is a better QB than Colt McCoy, so that's who I'm going with.

Arizona State 35, Texas 31

Champs Sports Bowl: Michigan State vs. Boston College, Dec. 28 5 pm, ESPN

C'mon, you really think I'm going to pick Little Brother and Mark Dantonio. Speaking of the Spartans coach, I'm really starting to get annoyed with him. I realize you think your program is on the up and up but there's no need to shove it in our faces. Even though State is finally going to a bowl game again, it's not like it actually beat anyway good. I mean, I guess wins over Purdue, Penn State and Indiana are good...but c'mon it's the Big Ten. No one was really that good. The Spartans do have a potent offense that should be solid. Expect this game to be Matt Ryan's unveiling as the top QB prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft. You heard it here first...or maybe second because I think Todd McShay of ESPN is saying the same thing.

Boston College 42, Michigan State 31

Texas Bowl: TCU vs. Houston, Dec. 28 8 pm, NFL Network

This is definitely one of those games I'll be tuning in for...NOT!Oh wait, I don't have the NFL Network here in Maryland, so I have an excuse. As for a pick, I don't know much about either team but Houston lost 56-7 to end the season when the C-USA title was on the line.

TCU 30, Houston 27

Emerald Bowl: Maryland vs. Oregon State, Dec. 23 830 pm, ESPN

On paper, this looks like an absolute blowout. The Terps were extremely mediocre this season, whereas the Beavers are coming in hot after winning six of their last seven games. The one loss was to USC in the Colisium. Maryland has an awful running game and Oregon State has the No. 2 rushing defense in all the land. The Terps' rank 103rd in the nation in sacks allowed compared to Oregon State's No. 3 ranked pass rush. But the Beavers are battling the injury bug. Star running back Yvenson Bernard will not be 100 percent after getting his knee scoped and QB Sean Canfield is deifnitely out. But although the Fridge is a sweet coach when he has more than a week to prepare, I think the injuries only make this one closer than it would have been.

Oregon State 27, Maryland 20

More predictions to come, I promise. Remember I have very little to do here in Maryland right now.

Lightning Rod hits Ann Arbor

Seriously, this whole Rich Rodriguez thing came out of nowhere...atleast for me it did. The first I heard of Rodriguez was at a basketball press conference with John Beilein and one of the reporters asked him about it. That was last Friday afternoon. With how much Bill Martin and co. seemed to just bungle the heck out of this coaching search, it appears to me that they basically got hit by lightning. The bolt was Rich Rod. It was lucky, but it happened, so I'm satisfied.

But before we start bashing Martin for what he did wrong (going on a sailboat on the most important weekend of the year, allowing too much information to leak to the media, etc..) let's look at the end result. The Wolverines got one of the best coaches in the country, and lured him away when it didn't even seem like he was looking to switch jobs. Everyone who started piling on the whole "being Michigan football coach isn't that great" bandwagon has some serious re-thinking to do.

So much better than Lloyd.

The bottom line is without media interference (cough cough Kirk Herbstreit and ESPN) Michigan could have stolen two coaches who are viewed at the top of the coaching ladder right now. Anyone who has one ear to the ground in Ann Arbor knew Les Miles wanted to come back to Michigan, no matter what he says to the national media. If that report isn't leaked on the morning of the SEC Title Game, I have very few doubts Les Miles would be the next coach at Michigan. But after the report came out, coupled with West Virginia losing to Pitt and therefore putting LSU in the National Title Game, Miles was out of the equation. No one in the BCS Title Game can really even talk about switching jobs.

Basically, from my standpoint, I feel like whichever team (LSU or WVU) didn't make the National Championship, that's the coach we were going after. And that's exactly what happened. Now, did they plan it like that? Hell no! This was a flawed search from the get go, but again, things couldn't have turned out better.

What does this mean for next season? Well, if the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Terrelle Pryor, comes to Ann Arbor, you're looking at a bright immediate future. If he doesn't, it may take a couple seasons to get the correct personnel in place. That being said, it's not like this is the same situation John Beilein inherited when he moved from Morgantown to Ann Arbor. Lloyd has been snagging top-15 recruting classes for years, and there's definitely a foundation of quality athletes ready to start learning the spread.

Meet Terrelle Pryor

Pryor is the difference maker, though. Standing 6'6, weighing in at 236 and running a 4.4 40, this kid sounds like the real deal. He single handedly won the Pennsylvania State Title game a few weeks ago, and is also a 5-star basketball recruit. He would likely come in and start at QB right away, and after a transition year that every freshman goes through, the Wolverines could be poised for big things in '09. But I'm getting ahead of myself here because there's a good chance he doesn't even end up here.

I really do feel sorry for the West Virginia fans of the world. The Michigan athletic department was that douchebag friend who saw one of his other slightly less cool friends making out with a really hot chick and then decided she was too good for him and should be making out with him, the "better" kid. Well, West Virginia, we saw two hotties and decided they shouldn't be making out with you anymore. And now, with news that Michigan may be pursuing WVU's women's soccer coach, we may be trying to steal an ugly chick just to rub it in their faces.

Now that it's all done, I have a huge sense of relief. This dragged out for too long and I'm glad it's over. The final piece of business is coming up with an original nickname for Richie. Everyone in the media has been using Rich Rod or a variation of that, so I'm going to go along those lines.

Look at that shit eating grin...He really is a Dick Rod...haha

I'm thinking DickRod because it's funny and it will help keep alive the greatest nickname ever created. The Richard-Dick connection is unclear, but anyone with the name Richard who goes by Dick is historically awesome. Think about it: Dick Vitale, Dick Van Dyke, Dick Clark, the guy who started Dick's Sporting Goods...And the problem with today's society is that the name Dick has fallen out of style. Seriously, when's the last time you met a guy named Richard who went by the name Dick and was under the age of 40? So not only is Dick Rod going to save Michigan football, he's also now the head man for my Save Dick campaign.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mitchell Report Aftermath

You and I have both had some time to digest this whole Mitchell Report business, and I figured I would share my thoughts on the whole thing. First off, I should say that I was a total fan of the report, no matter how much money it cost to undertake. It was necessary to figure out — atleast to the best of the investigation's ability — what the hell happened during all these years of monstrous homers and beefed up sluggers.

That being said, I think the finger pointing that goes on in the report is — in most cases — unwarranted. There were guys like Brian Roberts of the Orioles who are now forever going to be linked to using HGH or steroids just because their names were in the report. If you actually read what it says about Roberts, though, it's clear he had nothing to do with the rampant roid usage going on in his own locker room. All he did was have a meal with Larry Bigbie and Bigbie's trainer. There's no evidence of checks written, people saying they saw Roberts do steroids, or any sort of old prescription forms. Basically, Brian Roberts will forever be linked for being friendly with Larry Bigbie.

Seriously, I think calling Bigbie a mediocre Major Leaguer would be giving him too much credit at this point. That's how disappointing he was. He was a first-round draft pick, too.

And speaking of Bigbie — who was one of the few former major leaguers to cooperate with the Mitchell boys — what is he thinking? Bigbie was always one of those Orioles who looked impressive physically, but never actually did much in terms of hitting homers or hitting for average. He had one year, 2004, where he hit .280 with 15 homers. Is it a coincidence that is the same year he admitted to having contact with the 'roids guy? No way...I think the guy is just bitter that 'roids don't work for untalented assclowns.

Now, don't get me wrong, this steroid era controversy business is dead serious. But I think it's no different than any other era in baseball. Yes, there should be some kind of disclaimer in the record books...maybe something along the lines of a little intro page detailing the various controversies in baseball history. You know, a little blurb about the Black Sox scandal, something about how blacks weren't allowed to play until Jackie Robinson, and then a little something at the end about the steroid era of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. I think putting an asterisk next to Bonds name or Clemens name is stupid and counterproductive.

I will say this...many of Mitchell's claims would not hold up in court...but you can't fault him for so few people cooperating.

Clemens and Bonds were still great athletes, and to become a great athlete, you have to have the inner drive to pursue that greatness. And in an age where it's become pretty obvious a large number of baseball players were taking steroids or some sort of illegal supplement, the greats like Clemens and Bonds had a desire to continue being great. We, as the viewing public, demand this pursuit of greatness in our athletes. So why shouldn't they do something that everyone else seemed to be getting away with? And frankly, this is no different than any of the other greats, they've all had something that makes any historian go "but what if". For instance, many consider Babe Ruth the greatest power hitter behind Hank Aaron...but the Babe didn't hit any homeruns against black pitchers. Should we put an asterisk next to him saying he didn't face the best competition? Walter Johnson never faced black hitters, either.

It just seems ridiculous to go to all this trouble to taint some of the game's greats. This whole Mitchell investigation accomplished its mission in figuring out how to help the MLB move forward in this whole ordeal. It outted a guy like Clemens, whose legacy will forever be tainted. But should we completely discredit seven Cy Youngs and all the great performances he had over the years. There's something to be said about the mental fortitude needed to compete at a high level in baseball. Steroids can't help that. Barry Bonds may have taken steroids, too, but he still hit a shitload of homeruns. These guys were great athletes who became popular in a culture that demands greatness out of you in order to remain popular. It was human nature to attain this through the a system that was inherently flawed from the beginning. You take advantage of weaknesses in the system, and in MLB's case, that flaw was its drug testing policy. This stuff was known to be going on, and baseball's bigwigs ignored it. Why should players be taking the brunt of the criticism if this were something others merely turned a shoulder towards.

If I were Clemens, I would just admit to what you did and move on. The public is very forgiving of people who admit when a mistake has been made.

I think the main point to get out of all this is that a lot of guys were doing something illegal. It was a malfunction at all levels of the MLB — the players, the coaches, the front offices, the players' union, and the commissioner's office. Every single one of those groups has some of the collective blame in all this. So, why should we let this linger if you can't single anyone out? This was just another controversy in a league that has had its fair share over the years. Rather than trying to completely exclude any memory of what happened from the record books, just accept this as another chapter in a book that will always be adding new chapters in the future.

So yes, I do think Clemens and Bonds should be first ballot Hall of Famers. For that matter, I think McGwire should be in, too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

College Basketball in Review

As many of you know, the NBA happens to be my favorite league going right now, even if not too many people actually agree with me. But that doesn't mean I haven't been watching some of the college stuff, too. I mean I do cover it for the newspaper here at Michigan. Speaking of the Wolverines, like I said in a recent post, they aren't very good this season. It's worth mentioning that they did look pretty impressive last night, beating Oakland 103-87...yeah a college team putting up 100 is definitely pretty impressive. But what about the rest of the Big Ten?...and the rest of the country for that matter. Have no fear, I'm going to make some sense out of all of it for you with a little college basketball analysis.

And yes, I realize this probably should have been done before teams started playing this year, but I figured I'd do it now so it would be a little more accurate. We don't want a repeat of me picking the Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference-type picks:

1. Duke
2. UNC
3. Virginia
4. BC
5. NC State
6. Maryland
7. Clemson
8. Florida State
9. Virginia Tech
10. Miami
11. Georgia Tech
12. Wake Forest

Tyler Hansbrough, player of the year in the ACC

This is clearly a conference that is extremely top heavy this season. I think Duke and UNC are by far and away the class, and their two games this season will likely decide the regular season champs. In my years of watching the ACC, I've noticed the best teams usually have the best guards. That's why I have Virginia so high because of the play of Sean Singletary, who might be the best guard in the country and no one even really knows about him. I think my guard theory is refected in how high I put BC on this list. I saw them play Michigan and then watched a good portion of its game against Maryland last weekend where tthe Eagles were convincing in College Park. Eagles junior Tyrese Rice is a monster and is putting up All-ACC 1st team numbers so far.

I think NC State takes the next step under coach Sidney Lowe. I'm not exactly sure why I think this given the Wolfpack have losses to East Carolina and New Orleans on its resume already. But I like Lowe as a coach and I think his abilities steal them a couple huge wins in the conference. I like Maryland's roster a lot...except for one thing...there's too many role players and no go to guy — a la DJ Strawberry a year ago — to take the big shots in crunch time. Close losses will become a prevailing theme for this team this year. And even with wins over Mississippi State, Purdue and South Carolina in its non conference docket, I still don't believe in Clemson. That collapse last season has me completely tainted with this team. Florida State is quietly having a great beginning to the season, despite two subpar losses to the likes of South Florida and Cleveland State. We'll learn a lot about them Saturday when the Seminoles travel to Indy to face Butler.

The rest of the league is the rest of the league and I don't think have much of a chance to dance this year. Keep an eye out for Miami, though. The Hurricanes are undefeated and if they get by Mississippi State tonight, they could very easily be 14-0 heading into conference play...making them this year's Clemson because I just don't see Miami doing all that well this year come ACC time.

Final Verdict: 6-7 bids in NCAA Tourny

Big East
1. Georgetown
2. Villanova
3. Marquette
4. Louisville
5. Pitt
6. West Virginia
8. Syracuse
9. Notre Dame
10. Providence
11. St. John's
12. Seton Hall
13. Rutgers
14. South Florida
15. Cincinnati
16. DePaul

Yeah Rome...

The Hoyas have the inside and outside combination reminiscent of the great Final Four teams. You could argue Jonathon Wallace is the best guard in the conference and Roy Hibbert is the best big man. That's going to be tough to stop on any night. Teams like Villanova and Marquette will more than hold their own with the play of guards like Scottie Reynolds at 'Nova and Dominic James at Marquette. I wanted to put Pitino and Louisville higher, but they just haven't looked good early on with losses to Dayton and BYU (although BYU is legit).

West Virginia should settle out just fine without John Beilein because Huggy Bear is on the scene now. I put UCONN higher than most because of my partiality for Jerome, but this Husky squad is as talented as any in the Big East. The big question is whether they can finally put it all together or if they remain a team that can only play well in limited spurts. Syracuse is young this year, but definitely talented. I think the Orange are a year away from returning to conference dominance levels, though.

The rest are the rest and I don't think have much of a shot at playing in the NCAAs come March. Notre Dame and Providence are sleepers to keep an eye on.

Final Verdict: 7-8 bids

Big 12
1. Kansas
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Texas Tech
5. Missouri
6. Baylor
7. Nebraska
8. Kansas State
9. Oklahoma State
10. Oklahoma
11. Colorado
12. Iowa State

The forgotten Longhorn, D.J. Augustin

Another very top heavy conference, with the Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M being the top. But there's still more balance underneath, despite how good the top 3 are. The Jayhawks are loaded as usual thanks to the recrutiing of Bill Self. The key is going to be the play of Brandon Rush on that recovering knee of his. I've watched him a couple times so far, and while he's definitely looked solid, he still doesn't look like the same player from a year ago. Everyone talked about Kevin Durant a lot last year — and deservedly so — but lost in the shuffle was the play of another freshman on that Longhorn squad from a year ago...D.J. Augustin. He's been lighting it up so far, and I bet he's gone to the pro after this year, so expect him to make the most out of this season. Bob Knight has his best Tech squad in a couple seasons with Martin Zeno — a complete package — leading the way. Mizzou is going to turn a corner this season and make the NCAA Tournament. They beat up on Maryland, gave Michigan State a run for their money, and beat a good, young Purdue team. Mike Anderson and the style he brought with him from UAB a couple years back is finally in place and ready to wreak havoc on the Big 12.

And no, that wasn't a typo when I put Baylor that high. They are my surprise team from the Big 12 to make the NCAA Tournament this year. Just three years after the atrociousness that was the whole Dave Bliss debacle, the Bears have recovered, in my opinion. They already beat Notre Dame on the road, and almost beat Washington State a couple weeks ago. Nebraska is definitely another team to be aware of since it's got lots of experience returning. And although Michael Beasley may be Derrick Coleman revisited, he and Bill Walker are going to take their lumps in a conference with a lot of solid teams. Still, Beasley is really, really good. I think Oklahoma State has a down year this season...they are basically the same time as a year ago except without its best player — Mario Boggan.

Final Verdict: 5-6 bids

Big Ten
1. Indiana
2. Michigan State
3. Illinois
4. Ohio State
5. Wisconsin
6. Minnesota
7. Purdue
8. Michigan
9. Penn State
10. Iowa
11. Northwestern

If you didn't know, this is Raymar Morgan.

This is definitely a down year in the Big Ten, with Indiana and Michigan State being the only real national threats in the conference. I think the Hoosiers have Elite 8 written all over them this season now that Eric Gordon has emerged as that outside complement to D.J. White underneath. Gordon needs to improve his shot selection, or else teams are going to start daring him to shoot to cut off his driving capabilties. The key for Michigan State is the play of Raymar Morgan. It's not a mystery that when he has a monster game, the Spartans are capable of beating anyone in the country. But once you get by those two teams, no one is really that impressive...kind of like Big Ten football. Illinois has some great interior players in Brian Randle and Shawn Pruitt, but no guards and no impressive wins after losses to Maryland, Arizona and Duke.

Ohio State has had a rough go of it against some quality competition, losing to Butler, UNC and Texas A&M. Wisco, as evidenced by its dissection courtesy of Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, has a long way to go in terms of replacing Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor. Minnesota has a ton of veteran players and only one loss so far this season. But the Gophers haven't played anyone yet and their one loss came against Florida State. Purdue is a year away from being an upper echelon Big Ten team. I was debating between whether to rank Penn State above Michigan — my gut told me yes — but then pride came in and I was like, "I'm going to be depressed if we're worse than Penn State." Whether I'm depressed is clearly up in the air still, but for now we'll put Michigan in 8th.

Final Verdict: 4-5 bids

1. Washington State
3. Oregon
4. Arizona
6. Stanford
7. Cal
8. Arizona State
9. Washington
10. Oregon State

Derrick Low is going to be a star come March

Washington State and UCLA could very well both be in the Final Four when all is said and done. They are definitely the class of this conference. Wazzou has already gone into Gonzaga and beaten the Bulldogs, and they have one of the best, if not the best guard in the country in Derrick Low. If you can't tell, I am completely sold on Wash State this year. UCLA returns everyone but Aaron Afflalo, which I think will cost them in the end. Can they find a replacement for crunch time scoring will be the key to the Bruins' success. Oregon and Ernie Kent keep bringing in talented players and they keep performing at a high level. NCAA Tourny appearances are the norm in Eugene these days. I've been really impressed with the way 'Zona has handled this whole Lute Olsen "I'm depressed because I got divorced storyline so I'm not going to coach the team this year" episode. By the way, his replacement, Kevin O'Neill, is the guy who recruited and signed William Gates of Hoop Dreams fame to a scholarship at Marquette back in the day.

USC is awesome with O.J. Mayo. A lot fo people are giving him some grief for not being as good as some other freshmen (Gordon, Rose, Beasley, etc) but give the guy a break. He's been running point while also acting as a go-to scorer — all as a freshman. He's got a lot on his plate right now, and I fully expect him to settle down once things get interesting in January and February. Standford and Cal both have the talent to make the Tournament, but nothing really stands out for meto make some wide-ranging, dynamic prediction for either.

Final Verdict: 5-6 bids

1. Tennessee
2. Vanderbilt
3. Arkansas
4. Florida
5. Mississippi
6. Kentucky
7. Alabama
8. Mississippi State
9. Georgia
10. South Carolina
11. Auburn
12. LSU

Bruce Pearl's love triangle explained.

Right off the bat, I'll admit, this is the conference I probably know the least about. I do know this, though, Tennessee is loaded. They may have lost to Texas early on, but judging from the Longhorns win over UCLA a few weeks ago, that loss isn't bad at all. Chris Lofton feels like he's been a Volunteer for a decade now, and the addition of Tyler Smith from Iowa is going to be HUUUGEE. Smith is the real deal. The only thing holding back Tennessee is that looming controversy when it's finally revealed Brcue Pearl is gettin freaky with Pat Summitt. Vandy is 10-0, haven't played anyone, and have a coach who is as bald as my Dad. So of course they are my second pick. Expect Arkansas, led by one-time Michigan recruit Patrick Beverley, to have a very solid season after unexpectedly making the Tourny a year ago. Florida will take its licks with teams looking for some revenge after two years of brutalization. I like Ole Miss, too. Andy Kennedy has done nothng but win in his two years as a head coach (one at Cincy, one with the Rebels).

Final Verdict: 5-6 bids

Who Else Could Be on Your Bracket (in no particular order)
1. Memphis
2. Gonzaga
3. Butler
These three are clearly the cream of the crop in terms of teams outside the power conferences. The Zags have looked good, but are sorely missing shroomster Josh Heytvelt on the interior. In terms of quality wins, nobody has more than Butler so far (and no, I'm not even calling a win over Michigan quality, either). Memphis is good, but once C-USA play starts they won't play anyone decent for like three months.

4. Rhode Island
6. Xavier
7. Dayton
8. Charlotte
The Atlantic-10 is going to strong, real strong. Rhode Island has already gone into 'Cuse and won. Dayton just beat Louisville. Xavier beat Indiana...etc. They do have to be careful about beating each other up in conference action.

9. Creighton
10. Southern Illinois
11. BYU
Like I said earlier, BYU is for real this year. Jeff Bzedelik is a great coach thanks to his NBA pedigree, and forward Trent Plaisted has NBA talent.They've got narrow losses to UNC and Michigan State, but also a nice little win over Louisville. Besides, Dickie V is on their bandwagon this season.

If Dickie V likes him, I like him.

12. Western Kentucky
13. St. Mary's
14. Davidson
Davidson has already dropped five games this season, but how can you fault them for losses to UCLA, Duke and UNC. They do have a bad loss to Western Michigan on their record. The slow start in non conferenc likely means an at large bid is out of the question. But expect Stephon Curry — how do big time schools miss a guy like this — to win the Southern Conference and do some damage in the Tournament.

Well, hopefully that brought some clarity to the mayhem that is college basketball...I'll definitely have more college stuff up in the coming weeks, seeing as it is my job top follow the goings on in the sport. Now, I'm going to brace myself for my dreams and idols being demoralized courtesy of this MItchell Report...yes I will be commenting on that today or tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Davy Crockett's Return to Fame

I just couldn't resist posting what I just saw on the front page of ESPN. Appaerently, there are still people claiming descendance to the somewhat mythical yet always relevant Davy Crockett. And it looks like they are following in the man's footsteps.

This 5-year-old could be another reincarnation of THE Davy Crockett. Part of me wants to see him talk like Bobby Bowden, you know, using phrases like "Boy, I tell ya" and "It's a dag gum war out there".

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quick Hits

I've been gone basically a week for various reasons (school, road trip to Duke, school), but I figured I'd pump out some thoughts from the weekend...

1. So I finally went to Cameron Indoor Stadium and watched a basketball game (if that's what you want to call it). Although Michigan got crushed by the Blue Devils, it was definitely an experience to remember. I sat courtside right in front of the Cameron Carzies, who were actually on top of me. I got to ask Coach K a question at his press conference, too. Apparently I sounded very nervous. Oh yeah, I was on TV a lot. Seriously though, I can check this off my life checklist. It lived up to everything I ever imagined Cameron to be. I was so close to the floor that if I reached out during the game, I could probably touch a guy on the floor who was hanging by the 3-point line.

With the loss, Michigan basketball dropped to 3-6 for the year, which is probably why i don't mention them all that much on this blog. That includes a loss to Tommy Amaker and Harvard last week, that thankfully I did not go to. After watching this team over nine games I've come to the conclusion that it's going to be tough to get to double digit wins this season. They may do it, but just barely. Duke, on the other hand is old school Duke loaded. Eight McDonald's All Americans on one roster will do that for you. And as much as the ACC is probably the most well balanced conference in college basketball right now, I think it's abundantly clear it's going to be a two-horse race with the Dukies and UNC battling it out as usual.

Looking good for one of my idols, Coach K.

2. Todd Collins? Todd Collins!!!! I think that was the range of my emotions on Thursday night as Jason Campbell went down with what looks like a season-ending knee injury. Collins did his best impression of his Michigan days, coming out and completing 15-of-20 while standing strong in the pocket. The Skins sit at 6-7 and one game out of the last wild card spot. They control their own destiny with games against the Giants, Vikings and 'Boys coming up. And with the way the Skins have flat out given up wins this season, I think controlling your own destiny is all you can really expect. In any other year, this might not be the case. Do I think they'll do it....Ummm get back to me after the Giants game this week. Win that, and I'll feel a lot more comfortable with their chances.

3. MIguel Cabrera and D-Train to the Tigers was the talk around town here in Detroit. Hell, even John Beilein was talking about it at his press conference on Thursday (He liked the deal). And I liked the deal, too. The Tigers did implode their vaunted minor league system by giving up their two best prospects, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, but they basically traded a 21- and 23-year old who could be stars in the future for a 24- and 25- year old who are already stars. I don't see how you can turn that down. That being said, if the Red Sox get Johan Santana, they remain the favorite to win the AL. Even without Santana, I think I'd take the Sox anyways. This was definitely a great trade by the Tigers, but I don't think it quite puts them over the top.

4. I don't want to talk about the football coaching search. It's just depressing. The Michigan mystique is falling by the wayside everytime it becomes public that someone else turned down the job. Rumor has it, the team is turning back to Les MIles now and making a final, last ditch effort to lure him away from Baton Rouge. But with a National Championship looming and the expected wrath he would face from the media for signing a deal with LSU and promptly turning around and leaving, I think he would be crazy to come to Ann Arbor. I'm still uncertain why Michigan hasn't contacted Chris Peterson of Boise State. He's innovative, successful and a great recruiter. Seems logical to me, but I guess the athletic department doesn't want logical these days. My problem with this whole thing ( and it's not the fact that on the most important weekend of the year for Michigan athletics, when we should have locked up Les Miles, our athletic director, Bill Martin, was on a yacht) is that Sailboat Bill knew Lloyd would be retiring after the Oregon loss in week two. That means he's had four months to prepare for this search, and yet somehow he's managed to look completely unprepared.

I really want this search to end. Just hire someone already.

5. I took an even bet with Nate last week and it goes like this: I took the Colts to win the Super Bowl and I gave him the field. I repeat, even bet. Sounds crazy on my part, but that's how confident I feel about this Colts team being able to beat the Pats in Foxboro in Jannuary. It's gonna happen. Trust me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let's Take the Losses in Perspective

In the immediate aftermath of yet another demoralizing, gut wrenching Redskins defeat, I wanted Joe Gibbs gone. He's an old man, who clearly isn't the coach he once was. But now that I've had some time to ponder, I can't help but think about how meaningless this game was on some level.

Sean Taylor died. And frankly, as the days pass by, I'm starting to regret my previous post about how Taylor probably had something to do with all this. Reports out of Miami are that this was, in fact, just a senseless murder of a changed man. Now whether new stuff comes out as the trials of the four guys arrested remains to be seen. But I couldn't help but think there would have been no Buffalo comeback had #21 been on the field.

Think about the 30-yard pass to Josh Reed to set up Rian Lindell's field goal. It was completed right in Taylor's old stomping grounds, down the seam of the secondary, a place most average receivers like Reed would cringe a little because of the mere presence of a hitter like Taylor.

I'm not excusing what happened at the end of the game, but I am willing to give Gibbs a pass considering the circumstances.

As much as I was furious at Gibbs in the immediate aftermath of his stupid decision to call two timeouts in a row, I would want no other coach leading my team at this point in time (seriously, though Joe, that wasn't some obscure rule...I'd say any educated NFL viewer knows it). Expecting this team to recover from losing its best player is unrealistic and probably unfair to the players. People deal with death differently and it's going to take time for the Redskins to fully handle. I'm not talking about a couple weeks, either. That being said, I expect the Skins to come out impassioned against the Bears after blowing their chance to honor Taylor with a win.

Will that result in a victory? I'm not really sure, but it would be a welcome respite from all the negativity surrouding the team. For all the devastatingly unexpected news that has come the Redksins way in the past week (Taylor's death, Gibbs decision, the loss in general), it's a welcome bit of news to know that, despite losing four in a row, the Skins still sit just one game out of the last wild card spot with four weeks remaining. Not to mention, the two team ahead of them, Arizona and Detroit, both lose a tie breaker to the Skins as a result of early season victories over both teams.

I guess all that's left to say is...RIP Sean Taylor. Clearly from the scene at your funeral you were a man who touched many, but few truly understood...myself included. Whether he was going to be the best safety to ever play is definitely up for debate, but there's no denying his legacy will likely be equal to that of any of the great players given how his life ended.