I was pleased to read today that Navy promoted assistant Ken Niumatalolo to head coach to fill the vacancy left by Paul Johnson's departure for Georgia Tech.
December 8, 2007
According to ESPN and other sources, Steve Finley is lobbying on his own behalf at the winter meetings in Nashville. He's apparently in great shape, and is more concerned with playing than cashing another check (as evidenced by the fact that he indicated he would take a minor league contract if he has to).
Further, this is the Orioles outfield if the season started tomorrow:
Jay Gibbons (haha)
blah The best part? He is still this skinny. That's post-Mitchell Report insurance baby.
Plus, maybe we can erase some of the shame of Pete Harnisch, Curt Schilling and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis. MAYBE.
Considering Bynum is destined to be about a .210 career hitter, we might want to invest in a little veteran leadership. Aubrey Huff and Kevin Millar have both pissed off enough fans between Huff's comments on "Bubba the Love Sponge" about Baltimore and Millar throwing out the first pitch at a Red Sox game (which I still relate to pining after an ex-girlfriend and am willing to excuse).
December 7, 2007
I'm so excited and I will be attending all the games next year! Story here. I hope the ACC is ready for some option football because it's here.
[J-Red's note: Paul Johnson was the head coach at Navy. He ran the triple option flexbone at Navy and at Georgia Southern, compiling an impressive record at both schools. He has taken Navy to five consecutive bowls, only missing out his first year at Navy.]
December 6, 2007
Please, God, let me change my NFL picks. Chris Redman was absolutely destroyed by the Ravens, and now he gets to start again. His moment of glory came with the Ravens up 37-0 over the Bengals in the game that was so humiliating that Bruce Coslet quit immediately afterwards. Redman was 2-for-3 in that game, his incompletion coming when Billick was arguably running up the score by throwing into the end zone.
I have never witnessed a man become psychologically broken so quickly and severely as Redman was when he took the Ravens' helm. I don't know if the 5+ years since then have given him a chance to recover and reflect, but I don't have a lot of faith.
Of course, Redman has ties to Falcons coach Bobby "I Get a Free Pass Thanks to Vick" Petrino, though Petrino never coached Redman at Louisville.
Check out TMQ's Readers Fire Back column today, where I am quoted. Unfortunately, my highly-protected real identity is revealed...or is it?
Read about it here. While his brother Bret was a clear roider, ironically Aaron is most famous for ending the 2003 Yankees/Red Sox ALCS series with a walkoff homer. He is married to this:
Maryland grads (or at least Alan Bender) would know this Playmate, Laura Cover, as the centerfold who preceded Tiffany Taylor. Fun story from Jeremy to follow in the comments I'm sure.
Only four weeks of picks left. The possibility of Jeremy winning this thing has become frighteningly real.
Brien (32-31-2 for .508)
Chicago (+3) over WASHINGTON - This seems like the easiest pick on the board (which scares me a little bit). The Redskins suck, they played an emotional game on Sunday, went to Sean Taylor's funeral on Monday, and now they have a short week?
NY Giants (+3) over PHILADELPHIA - Let's not get too carried away over the Eagles' performance against New England.
Cleveland (-3.5) over NY JETS - I keep thinking that Vegas is going to wise up about the Browns, but apparently that's not going to happen. I'm willing to overlook last week's loss to Arizona. The Cardinals have surprised a few teams this year.
San Diego (pk) over TENNESSEE - The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in football now, and the Titans are just trying to hold on for a Wild Card berth.
Minnesota (-8) over SAN FRANCISCO - The Vikings have been blowing out teams lately, so the big number doesn't worry me. What worries me is that I picked all road teams.
Jeremy (34-25-6 for .569)
& Magic 8 Ball (36-23-6 for .600)
So many games, so many difficult lines to pick on. I can barely even find two or three that I'm confident of, let alone five.
Pittsburgh (+10.5) over PATRIOTS - I'll come out of the gates swinging with this game. The Steelers D is good enough that I think the Pats win, but I can't see them scoring enough points to cover this kind of spread. 50+ against the 'Skins and Bills is one thing... the Steelers is a whole different ballgame.
Cleveland (-3.5) over JETS - The Browns killed me last week, but Kurt Warner is a better QB than Kellen Clemens. And the Browns did almost pull the game out. Seriously... I didn't know "Kellen" was such a popular name. Each team has their own.
Dallas (-10) over DETROIT - A big spread, but remember what Brett Favre did to the Lions D on Thanksgiving Day? You do? Well guess what... Romo and T.O. are better. And I'm going up against both of them in my fantasy football playoff this week. Great....
PHILADELPHIA (-3) over Giants - This is going to be a true war. Eagles come out on top. And the New York media begins to roast Eli again.
BUFFALO (-7) over Miami - Buffalo's offense is horrible. Miami has to travel to the frozen tundra of Ralph Wilson Stadium. I think Buffalo can win by more than a TD. Ryan Lindell has six FGs in him.
Magic 8 Ball Picks:
I refuse to be beaten by a human. Especially after I was mocked by that asshole J-Red.
PATRIOTS (-10.5) over Steelers - "Signs point to yes." [Pats beat spread]
JETS (+3.5) over Cleveland - "Signs point to yes." [Jets beat spread]
Dallas (-10) over DETROIT - "No" [Lions won't beat spread]
Giants (+3) over PHILADELPHIA - "My answer is no." [Eagles won't beat spread]
BUFFALO (-7) over Miami - "Yes." [Bills beat spread]
J-Red (32-30-3 for .515)
Chicago (-3) over WASHINGTON seems like the most logical pick in the world, right? Others have justified it well. I'm just scared of Rex Grossman.
Dallas (-10) over DETROIT - Detroit is fading fast, and Dallas still only has a 1.5 game lead on home field advantage. They can't pull off the accelerator yet, and they know it.
NEW ENGLAND (-10) over Pittsburgh - Ok, mediocrity and weather combined to undermotivate the Patriots the past two weeks. Seeing that black and gold and a likely playoff opponent won't have that effect. I think we get back to the old New England this week.
Miami (+7) over BUFFALO - The football gods are not going to let this Miami team go winless. They're really not horrendous. They're a little healthier, playing a division opponent, giving a rookie QB his third or fourth start, and getting a touchdown. I'll take it.
My God there are some truly putrid games this week. It seems like every matchup is either a clear-cut mismatch or a combination of two unpredictable teams.
Tampa Bay (-2.5) over HOUSTON - I have yet to see ten minutes of Tampa Bay football this year, but the stats indicate they are running the ball well, playing good D and limiting turnovers. I think playing fundamentally sound football is about all you need to stop Houston.
Cleveland (-3.5) over NY JETS - Cleveland's the bad team that has found some mojo, but they're definitely good enough to beat last year's bad team that found some mojo.
Russell (28-35-2 for .446)
I have 4 weeks to get back to .500, so I might as well go 5-0 this week. I can still catch J-Red and/or Brien if they stumble.
Chicago (+3) over WASHINGTON - The loss last week to the Bills was devastating, and with the short week and the funeral, I think this could get ugly. There's more than a slight chance the Skins won't win again this year.
BUFFALO (-7) over Miami - Buffalo's the better team, and the 'Phins never play well in the cold.
SEATTLE (-6.5) over Arizona - Boldin and Fitzgerald are both hurt, and AZ has really struggled on the road.
NY JETS (+3.5) over Cleveland - Cleveland does not win big on the road, and the Jets are definitely playing better than they were.
Dallas (-10) over DETROIT - Yeah, Dallas is this good, and Detroit is this bad right now, esp without Roy Williams.
Brien - CHI, CLE, MIN, NYG, SD
Jeremy - BUF, CLE, DAL, PHI, PIT
J-Red - CLE, DAL, MIA, NE, TB
Russell - BUF, CHI, DAL, NYJ, SEA
Magic 8 - BUF, DAL, NE, NYG, NYJ
Magic 8 (36-23-6 for .600)
Jeremy (34-25-6 for .569 -- 2 GB)
J-Red (32-30-3 for .515 -- 5.5 GB, 3.5 GB Jeremy)
Brien (32-31-2 for .508 -- 6 GB, 4 GB Jeremy)
Russell (28-35-2 for .446 -- 10 GB, 8 GB Jeremy)
December 5, 2007
First, I'd like to say that it looks like the Heisman committee got the finalists right. At various points, 10 or more players had a legitimate shot at it, but injuries eliminated candidates like Dennis Dixon. Todd Reesing has a poor schedule to blame and lost to Chase Daniel, and Pat White's numbers aren't even in the same ballpark as Tebow's.
Biggest snub of the awards season: Kevin Smith, RB, UCF. Many of you may not have heard of him if you don't watch enough football on Saturdays. The numbers: 2,448 rushing yards (5.9 yds/carry), 29 rushing TDs (30 total). That's just 180 yards shy of Barry Sanders' single season record. He was not even a finalist for the Doak Walker Award (best RB). WOW. And unlike other RBs getting national attention, he plays for a conference champion (UCF was 10-3 and won C-USA). I have plenty of respect for Mike Hart and Ray Rice, but are you kidding me? Mike Hart didn't even play half the year. Just look at those guys' numbers. At least give him an invite.
That having been said, my projections for the Heisman:
4. Chase Daniel: A good year, but getting blown out by Oklahoma cemented his fate as a runner-up. You have to do something special to overcome the "system" stereotype (see Texas Tech QB from any year in the Leach era).
3. Colt Brennan: Set the record for most career TDs, but also played the weakest schedule in the land. In addition, the voters saw the other guys every week. Hawaii made national TV four times maybe, and only once or twice at a reasonable hour. I don't think this is an East Coast shaft.
2. Darren McFadden: Another impressive year, and almost everyone thinks he's best player in college football. But there are a number of reasons to be disappointed. First, the Razorbacks struggled early in the year, starting 0-3 in SEC play. While the Heisman is not officially "the best player on the best team", they're going to switch to that soon. The Hogs were never in the SEC race and he lost a lot of press. Second, if you exclude the two huge games against SC and LSU, he averaged 121 yds rushing/game and had a total of 3 rushing TDs in the other 6 SEC games. I know he splits time with Felix, but how did that work out for Cadillac and Ronnie Brown? He needed to be more consistent, carry his team, dominate games... it only happened twice and it was already too late for their season. Not to worry, he'll make big bucks in the draft and avoid the Heisman curse.
1. Tim Tebow: Everyone knows that Tebow is a battering ram as a runner. Most of you have heard about the record setting 22 rushing TDs and 29 passing TDs. How about the second-best passer rating in the nation at 177.8? True, Florida didn't win the SEC, or even make the title game. But a 68.5 completion pct, almost 10 yds/attempt, and no more than 1 INT in any game? He had at least 1 rushing TD and at least 1 passing TD in EVERY game this year. That's leading your team every game, doing what you have to do. Two of their three losses were to teams in the BCS top 5. Say what you will about the Urban Meyer system, Tim Tebow was awesome this year and deserves it more than anyone in a few years. And I don't even like Florida.
Two of my favorite ESPN guys talk the BCS here, particularly Illinois over Georgia in the Rose and Kansas over Mizzou in the Orange.
December 4, 2007
All you ever needed to know about Pissburgh:
I bet everyone who took the Pats prior to Monday wishes they had read my note that I wasn't touching the game because of the high likelihood of it being windy following the passing of a major front.
Unfortunately, Jeremy's fine picking delivered a blow to Brien and I that was matched only by Chasey Lain on Peter North in House on Chasey Lane (1996) (I recommend Scene 4. Contact Vivid for a copy.) We hope to recover and catch him and his suddenly-flagging Magic Eight Ball.
No, I am not accusing Jeremy of swapping his own picks for the Magic Eight Ball's this week.
Brien (2-3-0) - CLE, GB, MIN, NE, TB
Jeremy (4-1-0) - CLE, DAL, MIN, NYJ, SD
J-Red (3-2-0) - BUF, DEN, JAX, MIA, TEN
Russell (3-2-0) - DAL, MIN, SF, TB, WAS
Magic 8 (1-4-0) - CLE, DAL, DET, KC, MIA
Magic 8 (36-23-6 for .600)
Jeremy (34-25-6 for .569 -- 2 GB)
J-Red (32-30-3 for .515 -- 5.5 GB, 3.5 GB Jeremy)
Brien (32-31-2 for .508 -- 6 GB, 4 GB Jeremy)
Russell (28-35-2 for .446 -- 10 GB, 8 GB Jeremy)
For the first time ever, I cheered for the Baltimore Ravens to win a game. I'm a Steelers fan and I've hated the Ravens since they came to Baltimore, but last night I chose the (far) lesser of two evils. Unfortunately my support wasn't enough to carry the Ravens over the Patriots, but I did get to see a great game.
Watching the game, I realized that penalties were really hurting Baltimore, but I didn't think any of the calls were particularly bad (with the exception of one illegal contact call in the 2nd or 3rd quarter on the opposite side of the field from the play). So I was very surprised when I turned on the radio this morning and heard Ravens fans and players complaining about the officiating.
I know in situations like this, the easiest thing for a fan to do is to blame the officials. Or, if you're Bill Simmons, you blame the officials after you win. As a Maryland basketball fan, I'm more than familiar with all the conspiracy theories and the feeling of helplessness that goes along with a tough loss when you didn't get any of the calls. That said, I don't think Ravens fans can complain too much about the calls last night.
The penalty that probably hurt the most was the holding call against Randy Moss on 4th down late in the game. The DB clearly initiated contact on the play, and even though sometimes that penalty won't be called, it's difficult to say that the call was bad.
The bottom line is that the Ravens played their best game of the season (how's that for an understatement?) and had every opportunity to win the game. They lost because they didn't make the plays they needed to at the end of the game. It's tough, but there's no one else to blame.
- If you want to beat the Patriots, you're going to have to get a first down in the 4th quarter (other than on your desperation drive).
- Bart Scott should have been kicked out of the game (not that it would have mattered with 45 seconds left), and he should be suspended for 1 game. Allowing players to get away with throwing anything into the stands is unacceptable. There easily could have been an injury from the penalty flag (remember Orlando Brown?), and the league needs to put a stop to behavior like that.
- I'm not sure what to make of the Samari Rolle "boy" comments. Rolle claims that one of the officials called him "boy" throughout the game and says that's why Scott flew off the handle at the end. I don't know whether or not to believe Rolle, and even if it's true, I'm not sure how big of a deal it really is. It certainly doesn't justify Scott's actions.
- For Ravens fans, I'm sure the two "stops" on 4th down that didn't count (first a timeout, then a false start) feel like the '72 Olympics Gold Medal basketball game. Ouch.
- I was really impressed with Kyle Boller. He hung in the pocket under pressure, took a beating, and kept making his throws. The pressure didn't seem to bother him at all. Are we due for another Ravens fan 180 on him?
- If Ben Watson had scored one of the Patriots touchdowns, I would have made the playoffs in my fantasy league.
- I still don't think the Patriots will go 19-0, but I also don't think they'll lose to the Steelers next week. I'm predicting a 16-0 regular season followed by a late round playoff loss.
December 3, 2007
Congratulations to LSU. They won the undisputed #1 conference in America, and it's easy to make an argument in support of their right to play for the title.
That having been said, I'd like to point out how the system has failed us again.
Regarding LSU, the Tigers jumped over Georgia, VT, and Kansas to take the #2 spot in both polls this week. In last week's standings, LSU trailed VT. Yesterday, each won their conference title, though I would argue VT's win was more impressive because they overcame a defensive TD by BC, while LSU needed an INT return to take the lead. BC was also ranked higher than Tennessee coming into the games. How does LSU leapfrog up to #2, receiving 11 first place votes in the AP poll, while VT stayed at #5 and #6? What happened? What game did I not watch? VT's #1 in the computer rankings, won their conference, and played a tough game out of conference (LSU, which actually cost them a spot in the championship game). This was a blatant effort by voters to "remedy" the BCS rankings which would have put VT in the championship game. Didn't we implement the BCS to take it out of the voters' hands in the first place? If the voters felt LSU was the better two loss team, why did they fall so far last week? Ridiculous. The voters should be ashamed. Not too long ago, the computers' importance was reduced to 1/3. The voters made it 0 this year. If we can't trust the voters or the computers, what should we do? PLAYOFF. Please, God, playoff...
In an equally terrible move, and one which was fully in the humans' hands, Missouri was left out of the BCS. Missouri beat Kansas, and had a better strength of schedule (26th vs 109th). Missouri was #1 before losing to OU again, a team that KU never had to face. Missouri beat them at a neutral site, and was ranked better prior to the conference championship. Missouri is still ranked higher in the BCS (6th vs. 8th). Why then is KU going to a BCS bowl and while Mizzou is not? Tell me, please. Is there any argument in support of KU? Anything?
The lesson I learned this year, and one that all AD's should learn from, is to play a completely shitty out-of-conference schedule. Ohio St. played a I-AA opponent, two bad MAC teams, and Washington (4-9). USC's 3 non-conference opponents combined for 9 wins this year. Hawaii's schedule is, I believe, dead last in difficulty. Kansas played Directional Michigan, SE La, Toledo, and FIU. KU and Hawaii are arguably in the BCS BECAUSE of their weak schedule. On the other hand, VT scheduled LSU, lost, and lost their shot at the championship as a result. Missouri gained nothing by playing Illinois and Ole Miss this year. This is a terrible message to send to major programs. Everyone gains from high profile out of conference matchups, or at least they should.
Finally, way to go Terps for not getting snubbed by the Emerald Nuts Bowl, and letting GT freeze their nuts off in Boise.
Enjoy 4 matchups between spread offenses and traditional styles in each of the BCS games before the championship.
December 2, 2007
I'm numb after the Redskins game. Just numb. The best I can do is say that Joe Gibbs has lost this team. I just watched his press conference and I'll let Jason LaConfora, Redskins Beat Writer, who just blogged it as follows, say what I have to say:
Joe Gibbs: "I made a decision there at the end that very likely cost us the game. That's on me." The pool reporter checked with officals, who said the rule stipulates it's only a 15-yarder when the kicker is on the field. Gibbs said he asked the official who was nearest him if could call a timeout and the official asked him when he wanted to take it. Still, Gibbs said he took responsibility."There's nobody to blame but myself. It's not their fault. It's my fault. I should have known the rule."As for having the defense go out with 10 men on the first play, Gibbs said he was not aware it was going to happen but that he was okay with it. He said he expected to talk to Gregg Williams about it.
So you didn't know that the defense was going out with only 10 guys so you don't communicate with your coaching staff. You didn't know about a rule enacted in 1988 so you don't know the rules of the game. Goodbye Joe. Jesus loves you. Right now, I don't.
This has been the NFL season of freezing the kicker, but apparently Joe Gibbs isn't up to date on the most recent rule changes.
Oh wait, this rule changed in 2005, and consecutive time outs have never been allowed in the NFL (though it was not always a penalty before). Prior to 2005, the second time out attempt would just be waived off, and the team would risk a discretionary unsportsmanlike penalty under the unfair deception blanket rule, or for delay of game if the illegal second time out gave the team some time-based advantage. [Thanks to SteelersFever for a history of NFL rule changes.]
Presently, if the defense calls consecutive time outs on a field goal attempt, the offending team is hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. In this case, the game-winning field goal was shortened from 51 (in the cold rain) to 36. Lindell converted, and the Bills snatched one from Washington 17-16 (without scoring a TD, safety and five FGs).
Retired NFL referee Jerry Markbreit explained it here:
What is the rule when one team calls a time out and then try's to call a second time out? Is there a penalty? Can a team do that? --Rod Weal, Melrose Park, Ill.
Consecutive time outs called by the same team are not permitted under NFL rules. If this occurs, the officials do not allow the time out and no penalty is assessed. If the second time out is inadvertently allowed, the clock is immediately restarted with no penalty. The only situation that carries a penalty for a second consecutive time out is when a team is attempting a field goal and the opponents, after calling a time out to "freeze the kicker," then ask for a second time out. This is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul and the defense is penalized 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Let me start with Hawaii, since they seem to be getting a decent amount of support. While I appreciate that they are undefeated and think they definitely deserve a BCS berth, there's no way they should be in the national title game. I think Boise St. last year was better, and they showed that on their best day, they could beat Big-12 Champ OU. Hawaii really struggled with Washington last night at home, and that's just not good enough. Unfortunately for them, Washington has the toughest schedule this year and a bad record, leaving Hawaii with one of the worst schedules in football. They have no shot (nor will Colt win the Heisman).
I agree with J-Red that Kansas and Mizzou are both out of it. Oklahoma is the only viable Big-12 team. That having been said, the voters would have to vault them over 3 teams that won this week (VT, LSU, and USC) to get them there, and that's not going to happen. Even though Mizzou was #1, they were underdogs in the game, and were not given the kind of respect most #1's get, for good reason. Hence, Oklahoma's not going to the Championship either (try not losing to TT next time). Miami sucking also really hurt OU's computer ranking.
So that leaves Georgia, LSU, VT, and USC.
USC's schedule sounded tough and they looked great early. Now that we now how bad Nebraska, ND, and Idaho are, we need to keep things in perspective. Unlike Georgia which started low, USC has always been in the mix in spite of a very weak schedule, and they haven't been able to take advantage. I don't think they deserve it at all. Oregon (pre injuries) was clearly the better team.
Now it gets tough. Georgia played a very solid out-of-conference schedule (Troy, GT, and Okla St), and survived the SEC with only two losses. While I think there should be a rule excluding teams that don't win their own conference, there is no such rule. Georgia has won 6 in a row, and has looked good doing it.
I do not support LSU's candidacy for two reasons. First, VT is ranked higher in the BCS right now and played a higher ranked opponent this week in BC. With wins by essentially the same margin (excluding VT's late TD), LSU should not leapfrog them. Second, while it took 3 OT's to beat LSU in any game this season, they won 3 games by 7 points or less, 2 of them at home. In my opinion, just looking at the numbers, UGa is the more impressive SEC team. Do I think LSU could have been undefeated and clearly the best team in the nation? Absolutely. Did they do it? No.
VT's two losses this year are to LSU and BC, but living in ACC country, I know just how weak the ACC is. However, they played the best teams in the ACC and would have beaten them all except for the miracle comeback by Matt Ryan.
So my pick is: GEORGIA. They are the best and the hottest team in the best conference. Nobody complained last week about them being #4 in the BCS. They deserve to go and are very capable of beating Ohio St.
Final note: No team really deserves to be national champion this year. Lots of teams had a chance and none could win out. Also, I hope this year is another nail in the BCS coffin.
Given the WVU loss to Pitt and the Mizzou loss to OU, we have a seven horse race (if not more) for the #2 spot in the BCS and the right to face Ohio State for the national championship.
As everyone in the world is pointing out, many teams can make a strong case for a berth in the title game, but I am begrudgingly going to back LSU (though I think Hawaii should get the shot, I know it won't happen.
Les Miles today committed to LSU (though his language was ambiguous, and he'll be a bigger ass than Saban at this point if he bolts). LSU then went out with their sort-of backup quarterback and beat a very good Tennessee team.
Georgia didn't even win their own division. USC lost to Stanford at home. Since Kansas lost to Mizzou and Mizzou lost to OU, we have to assume they would have probably lost to OU too. Plus, with all the missed opportunities this year by so many teams, a conference champion has to be in the BCS title game.
Virginia Tech, actually, is an interesting candidate. In the year of the #2 curse, VT lost to two teams ranked #2, including losing @LSU early in the season. The BC loss will haunt VT for a decade, just because in retrospect that was their ticket to the championship bout. Still, it's difficult to put VT ahead of LSU.
It should be Hawaii, but of the realistic choices, I am going to have to back Ell-Ess-Ewe. I'm sure Russell will be along with his pick tomorrow.