December 22, 2007

The Sad, Sad State of Maryland Basketball

So I just got back from the Maryland-American basketball game. That's two straight home games I've attended... Ohio, and AU. Two straight home, non-conference, shocking losses.

fuck Duke
Last game I booed. I posted on that. You all said your piece.
fuck Duke
Last game I laughed at the end of the game because there was nothing else that could be done.
fuck Duke
Today, I punched a trash can on the concourse at the end of the game so hard, it sent a boom echoing through the corridor and a couple hundred people looked at me like I was crazy. Today, I sat there stunned, thinking that I never thought I would see a Maryland basketball team that sunk to this level.
fuck Duke
That's right Gary, your boys got beat by a bunch of nobodies from American. That school that you coached 25 years ago. You may remember it.
fuck Duke
People say that maybe the lesson from this game is that we all know just where our expectations should be. That's horseshit. Total horseshit. We are the fucking Maryland Terrapins. We pay our coach seven figures. We have one of the nicest college basketbal facilities in all the land. There is no goddamn way we should EVER have to adjust our expectations to be this low... to lose to a fucking middle-of-the-road Patriot League team that has already lost to Morgan State and UMBC this year.
fuck Duke
Where to go from here? Well I think we can all agree it's time for Gary to either earn his salary, stop spending so much time at Dewey and recruit, or leave. Decision time. You're not getting fired, Gary. You've earned the right to go out on your terms. But your legacy is on the line right now. I think we can all agree that it's time for Greivis Vasquez to be benched until he learns to play with control, within an offense, and smartly. 27 points doesn't mean crap to me if you commit so many turnovers and bonehead plays you've given up 10-15 points the other way. I think we can all agree that Gist and Osby are having the most disappointing years of any senior since Exree Hipp.
fuck Duke
Gary tells us in his post-game radio address to not blame the players... to blame him. Well at this point, I'm blaming EVERYONE, Gary included. I understand Gary can't call out the players or risk losing his team. But at what point does he do it? I mean, we're seriously on pace to be lucky to win one ACC game this season. Where did this come from? Caner-Medley, McCray, and Strawberry weren't that good.
fuck Duke
I'm pissed. I'm furious. I'm upset. I'm depressed. The Maryland Terrapins just got blown out in their own building by American. Something's gotta give.

LSU - Ohio State Trumps Justice

A judge in Baton Rouge has granted an uncontested request for a continuance in a trial scheduled for the day of the LSU-OSU BCS Championship Game in New Orleans.

Attorneys for both the plaintiffs and defendants have tickets to the game. The defense counsel called Ohio State "Slowhio" in his motion, and admitted, "All counsel to this matter unequivocally agree that the presence of LSU in the aforementioned contest of pigskin skill unquestionably constitutes good grounds therefor. In fact we have been unable through much imagination and hypothetical scenarios to think of a better reason."

Me either.

Those Pesky Pylons - Navy Jobbed in Poinsettia

Perhaps officials in the Poinsettia Bowl between Utah and Navy, which Utah won, should read this blog more. An apology was issued to Navy according to ESPN:

On third and goal from the 4-yard line, Utah wide receiver Jereme Brooks caught a pass from Brian Johnson. As he extended the ball toward the goal line, he was hit by Navy cornerback Ketric Buffin. The ball fell forward and hit the pylon.

Initially, the referee ruled that the ball belonged to Utah at the 1-yard line. Navy called for a review, but the review official confirmed the call on the field.

After the game, the crew admitted it was the wrong call.

"The ball was fumbled forward and hit the pylon. The pylon is out of bounds and also in the end zone," read an official statement from the officiating crew, citing Rule 8, Section 6, Article 1, Item 1 in the NCAA college football rule book. "There was a mistake made. It should have been ruled a touchback and the ball should have been placed at the 20-yard line."

This really isn't a difficult concept to understand. The end zone is comprised of a 53 1/3 yard wide and 10 yard deep rectangle, PLUS THE FOUR PYLONS, which appear to sit just out of bounds but are also considered part of the end zone because their interior face lines up precisely with the end zone. This is true in every league from Pop Warner on up to the NFL. If there is football played in heaven, it's true there too. A fumble hitting the pylon is treated like any other ball hitting the pylon, it is dead in the end zone. Whether that's a touchback, touchdown or safety depends on circumstances.

December 21, 2007

UNC Football Sex Attack - When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

First, let me be clear that the UNC football players are the victims in this story.

According to preliminary reports, three UNC football players (not identified) went to downtown Chapel Hill to celebrate their birthdays. While there, they encountered two ladies, Monique Taylor and Tnika Washington, 28 and 29 respectively, and a man, Michael Lewis, 32. The trio gave the three players a ride home, and apparently the players invited the three upstairs. One of the players was drunk and passed out. Some consensual sexual contact ensued (while Mr. Lewis watched from the corner?) until the players started to balk and call it off.
Early reports that Clay Aiken was involved have not (yet) been substantiated.

This got them bound with duct tape at knifepoint and robbed, while the women continued to fondle them. Over $100 in cash and $3000 in electronics were stolen.

You know, I'm not one to judge. Here are the mugshots of the three accused:

Ok. You're in Chapel Hill, home to some of the most attractive women on the planet, and these are the two you take home? Obviously, Butch Davis has a long way to go to instill the kind of permissive culture they had back down in Coral Gables. The Rock wouldn't use either of these girls as a pre-orgy fluffer, and he wasn't even a star then.
Let me clarify something from the initial report. The players did not "become uncomfortable", they began to sober up. This has happened to all of us. I am amazed at the good sense and discipline the boys had in ending the horrible beer goggle hook-up before it went too far. That was a great move until the jilted one night stands decided to relieve the players of their cash and belongings.
If you need any further insight into the sexual appetites of these ladies, one bit the arresting officer in the groin. Perhaps they were just hungry for the co.... nevermind.
Correction: The Mr. Lewis is the one that bit the cop's junk. ECB regrets the error.

Clemens Threatens Frivolous Lawsuits

According to reports today, Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, had this to say:

"Roger Clemens did not take steroids, and anybody who says he did had better start looking for a hell of a good lawyer."

Ah, the empty threat. A cornerstone of the legal profession.

Presumably, Mr. Hardin is threatening to bring a defamation suit against anyone who publicly alleges that Roger Clemens used steroids.

The elements of a defamation claim are:

  1. A false and defamatory statement made against another

  2. The unprivileged publication/communication of that statement to a third party

  3. Negligence, if the defamatory matter is of public concern, on the part of the publisher/communicator (like, say, steroid abuse)

  4. Damage to the plaintiff, though depending on the state allegations of "drug use" are defamation per se and damage need not be proven.

In addition, one will only be held liable for defamation if they are repeating the defamatory statement of another if they knew or should have known that the original statement was false.

So basically, Clemens had better be suing MLB and George Mitchell if he is going to sue anyone at all, and even they can say they had no reason to believe McNamee was lying to them. Everyone else is repeating the allegation based on Mitchell's good faith belief that the allegations are true.

blahblblaahblah Rusty "Trombone" Hardin -- The Juicer's Choice!

As if that didn't cripple any possible Clemens case enough, the U.S. Supreme Court applied the First Amendment to defamation cases nationwide that involve a public figure, which can mean a politician or celebrity. In New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects speech against public figures, and a defamation claim will only be upheld if it can be shown that the statement was made with actual malice against the plaintiff. That means the publisher/communicator must know that statement is false, or make it with reckless disregard for the truth.

All this adds up to what everyone else in the steroids era has already learned. You cannot win these cases. Any lawyer threatening them is essentially threatening just to harass people with litigation, which is borderline malpractice and is certainly against the Code of Professional Conduct for attorneys.

Much like Clemens, his attorney Rusty Hardin is already earning a reputation as a bully.

And let me be the first to say it now that Hardin has gotten his threat out there: Roger Clemens used steroids.

Read here, especially the comments, for analysis at Sports Law Blog on how suing Radomski and McNamee might be a good PR move for one of the players named in the Mitchell Report. Preferably one of the "innocent" ones with no career at stake.

[J-Red is a licensed attorney in Maryland. This blog does not purport to represent legal advice and no attorney-client relationship can be hereby created. Rusty: post a comment and I'll send you my address for service of process.]

Steelers and the Playoffs

Last night the Steelers got back to their winning ways, albeit in underwhelming fashion. Pittsburgh keeps racking up wins, but they don't really look like a Super Bowl contender. Now that Willie Parker is out for the year, my hopes for another deep run in the playoffs are dimmed even further.

It's hard for me to put my finger on exactly why I have so little confidence in the Steelers. On paper, they look like a powerhouse. They're 10-5 with a statistically dominant defense and (until last night) the leading rusher in the NFL. But when you watch them play, they don't look like a team that could win the Super Bowl.

Part of that is due to the nature of the AFC this year. Any surprise contender will likely have to travel to both Indianapolis and New England to make the Super Bowl. I just don't see that happening. It wouldn't surprise me terribly if either the Colts or the Patriots lose before the AFC championship, but it would shock me if they both did. I don't think Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Jacksonville, or San Diego have the horses to beat both the Colts and the Pats on the road in consecutive weeks. So basically, you can expect the AFC to be represented by either Indy or New England, like everyone has been expecting for the entire season.

That said, I'm not disappointed with the Steelers season. They're going to make the playoffs, and hopefully will win a game in the wild card weekend and maybe surprise one of the power teams the next week. After the way the team looked last year, Steelers fans have to be pleased with those results. With Roethlisberger coming back off a bad season and with a rookie head coach, expectations weren't very high for the Steelers this year. They've certainly exceeded the low bar set for them, and they look to be in great shape for next season (unfortunately, so do the Colts and Pats).

December 20, 2007

Stu Scott Battling Cancer

According to ESPN, Stuart Scott will remain on the air while battling cancer. Though doctors believe they have removed the malignant mass discovered during an emergency appendectomy, we here at ECB still wish Stu the best in his recovery. We're sure Stu will pull through because he's cooler than the other side of the pillow. Boo-yeah!

Most importantly, I think this shows that God has a cruel sense of humor. With Dukie V sidelined with throat lesions, He realized he needed to remove a UNC voice from the equation. Unfortunately, He underestimated Stu Scott's power to sit alongside Terp Scott Van Pelt and spout forth pro-ACC rhetoric from the highest mountain.

Let's remember Stu's greatest contribution to the sports world.

Week 16 NFL Against the Spread Picks

We're down to the final two weeks, and we have a tight race at the top with the other two just trying to reclaim .500 before the season ends.

Brien (40-33-2 for .547)

Two weeks left to go in the regular season, and I've regained a share of the lead.

Cleveland (-2.5) over CINCINNATI - The Browns are a huge part of my turnaround in the picks competition. They're also playing their way into the playoffs, and the Bengals gave up on the season several weeks ago. This line is almost too good to be true (uh oh).

Tampa Bay (-6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - I know the 49ers won last week, but the Bucs are a much better team than the Bengals.

BUFFALO (+3) over NY Giants - The Bills are a scary team if you look past them, and the Giants have a history of not showing up to play their A game.

MINNESOTA (-6.5) over Washington - Tavaris Jackson scares me, but I think the Vikings still aren't getting the respect they deserve.

SAN DIEGO (-8) over Denver - The Broncos have lost 5 of their last 6 on the road. The Chargers are peaking at the right time to make a run in the playoffs.

Jeremy (38-31-6 for .547) and Magic 8 Ball (41-28-6 for .587)

Jeremy's Picks:

Well, well, well... student ties with teacher. I knew that I shouldn't have taught you about diversity, community service, the arts, and the benefits of a liberal education so well in Honors100. Now I'm going to have to school your ass with two solid weeks of picks beginning right now. (and J-Red, I do believe I'm actually half a point up because of my correct Grey Cup pick... we had contractually agreed that counted, right? [J-Red's note: No, because only you and I participated. If you and I were tied, I'd entertain that.])

BUFFALO (+3) over NY Giants - Shockey is out, Eli is playing like the December version of Eli, and we're right on schedule for a 2007 implosion. Me likey.

Cleveland (-2.5) over CINCINNATI - This line should go to about 15 if Pittsburgh loses Thursday night and Cleveland has a chance to control their own destiny for the NFC North.

Tampa Bay (-6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - I like my boy Shaun Hill, but Jeff Garcia is back in the saddle, and I think Tampa survives their jet lag and their D beats up on the Niners pretty bad. That said, San Fran did get 10 days rest for this game.

Green Bay (-8.5) over CHICAGO - Green Bay just has way, way too many weapons, and is back in the hunt for home field.

Philadelphia (+3) over NEW ORLEANS - Philly hasn't rolled over yet, and their secondary is going to give Brees some trouble.

Magic 8 Ball Picks:

We all knew it wouldn't last, especially because if I finished over .600, Russell had promised to actually do a mathematical equation in a blog post explaining how it could be.

NY Giants (-3) over BUFFALO - "Don't count on it.' [Bills beating spread]

Cleveland (-2.5) over CINCINNATI - "My answer is no." [Bengals won't beat spread]

SAN FRANCISCO (+6.5) over Tampa Bay - "Yes." [49ers beat spread]

Green Bay (-8.5) over CHICAGO - "My answer is no." [Chicago won't beat spread]

Philadelphia (+3) over NEW ORLEANS - "Don't count on it." [Saints beating spread]

J-Red (35-37-3 for .487)

If this were real life, I'd totally take New England -22.5 and Miami on the moneyline to win. I just have a weird feeling about Miami riding the Baltimore win a little, even if they have no QB and can't run the ball. Of course, that would curse the Dolphins to a heartbreaking 24-21 loss.

CINCINNATI (+2.5) over Cleveland - This line reeks of WTF and this is a strange rivalry, though usually it doesn't have playoff implications.

Tampa Bay (-6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - I hope Shaun Hill can dissect the TB defense, but it's tough on inexperienced QBs. Just ask Chris Redman.

ARIZONA (-10) over Atlanta - Atlanta is in total disarray, and Warner should be able to extract some points.

Dallas (-11) over CAROLINA - It actually matters now for Dallas to win. They are in real danger of losing their grip on the top spot.

BUFFALO (+3) over NY Giants - I just smell a late season Giants collapse.

Russell (32-41-2 for .440)

I should get something for finishing last, like the #1 draft pick.

Pittsburgh (-8.5) over ST LOUIS - The Rams have absolutely nothing to play for, while the Steelers would like to be playing at home in two weeks.

Dallas (-11) over CAROLINA - Jessica won't be at this game, and Dallas will do everything they can to avoid Lambeau in January.

Cleveland (-2.5) over CINCINNATI - The Browns are actually the better team this year.

DETROIT (-5) over Kansas City - This one's all about location.

BUFFALO (+3) over NY Giants - If the Giants don't win, they could miss the playoffs. I don't think they're good enough to beat Buffalo in the winter weather. Then they'll have something to play for against the evil empire.


Brien - BUF, CLE, MIN, SD, TB
Jeremy - BUF, CLE, GB, PHI, TB
Russell - BUF, CLE, DAL, DET, PIT
Magic 8 - CLE, GB, NYG, PHI, SF


Magic 8 (41-28-6 for .587)
Jeremy (38-31-6 for .547 -- 3 GB)
Brien (40-33-2 for .547 -- 3 GB)
J-Red (35-37-3 for .487 -- 7.5 GB, 4.5 GB Humans)
Russell (32-41-2 for .440 -- 11 GB, 8 GB Humans)

All of us: 186-170-19 for .521
Humans: 145-142-13 for .505

December 19, 2007

Bowl Predictions Against the Spread

After an exciting, unpredictable season, the bowls will likely produce more of the same. Here are my picks, sure to go wrong.

Navy (+8.5) over Utah - Navy can score with anyone.

FAU (-2.5) over Memphis - Howard Schnellenberger.

Cincinnati (-10.5) over Southern Miss - Head coach? What head coach?

Nevada (+2.5) over New Mexico - The pistol wins again.

BYU (-5) over UCLA - UCLA collapsed this year.

Boise St. (-11) over ECU - Boise beat Oklahoma last year.

Directional Mich (+8) over Purdue - Just because.

Texas (-2.5) over Arizona St. - Too much Texas beef.

BC (-3.5) over Michigan St. - BC has one of the best rushing defenses in the country. Blowout city.

TCU (-4) over Houston - Head coach?

Maryland (+5) over Oregon St. - Fridge is good in bowls.

Wake (-3) over UConn - Wake's finally healthy.

UCF (-3) over Miss St. - Kevin Smith.

Texas A&M (+5.5) over Penn St. - This is almost a home game for the Aggies.

Colorado (+3.5) over Alabama - Because I predicted 6-7 for Alabama after the ULM loss.

Cal (-3.5) over Air Force - Too much speed.

USF (-6.5) over Oregon - No Dennis Dixon, no team.

Georgia Tech (-5.5) over Fresno St. - Too physical.

Kentucky (-2.5) over FSU - The Seminoles are only bringing half their team.

Okla St. (-4) over Indiana - Just a feeling.

Auburn (+2.5) over Clemson - No question.

Tennessee (-3) over Wisconsin - SEC over Big 10.

Arkansas (+3) over Missouri - Darren McFadden for a whole lot of yards.

Michigan (+10.5) over Florida - Heisman curse and people are overlooking a healthy Henne and Hart.

Texas Tech (-5.5) over Virginia - Al Groh.

USC (-14) over Illinois - Too much time to prepare.

Georgia (-7) over Hawaii - Hawaii's defensive line will be crushed.

West Virginia (+7) over Oklahoma - Chase Daniel is not Pat White. Look back at the bowl between UGa and WVa.

VT (-3.5) over Kansas - Reality check.

Rutgers (-10) over Ball St. - Ray Rice.

Tulsa (-5) over Bowling Green - Lots of points.

LSU (-4) over Ohio State - Speed.

Happy Bowl Season!

Parcells the Homewrecker

ESPN is now reporting that talks between Bill Parcells and the Falcons have broken off, and that Miami is the new suitor. The Atlanta curse continues.

In his wake, Parcells has left Atlanta GM (former GM?) Rich McKay not feeling very good about himself. Also, GM Randy Mueller in Miami and formerly of Seattle and New Orleans must suddenly be feeling plenty hot under the collar.

blabakakjfdsaahblahblahblah I got you fired.

Add in that Parcells drove a pyramid-sized wedge between the Jets and Patriots when he left there, and Bill is doing a good job ruining lives. Remember that when Parcells left the Jets, they announced Bill Belichick as their next head coach...only they forgot to inform Bill. Belichick took the Pats job following Pete Carroll, and the rest is dynasatic history.

Rich McKay and Randy Mueller are learning why it's better to send The Big Tuna holiday e-mails rather than through the post. At least e-mails can be recalled.

Atlanta Falcons: Mora, Petrino, Parcells, McKay, Schaub, Vick = Cursed

How soon we forget. Do you remember why the tide turned on Jim Mora, Jr.,as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons? He joked on a radio show that he would take the Washington Huskies job in a heartbeat, even though that job was not available. A guy named Michael Vick was his most vocal critic.

After Mora went 7-9 last season, though he was 26-22 over three seasons, and Arthur Blank let him go.

In a display of loyalty to Michael Vick, GM Rich McKay and the Falcons traded backup quarterback Matt Schaub to the Texans. Let's just say that didn't work out well. Arthur Blank and McKay hired Bobby Petrino away from Louisville, clearly willing to trade a wannabe college coach for a college coach. Let's just say that didn't work out well.

Now news is breaking that the Parcells has been offered a position with the Falcons. Not as head coach mind you, but rather as Vice President of Football Operations.

How does that sit with Rich McKay?

When Rich McKay was with the Bucs and the Glazer family in 1996 he informed them he would quit if they hired Parcells to be the head coach. They instead hired Tony Dungy. He was presumably afraid Parcells would want to shop for the groceries and cook the meal. The position Parcells has been offered includes heading up the search for a new coach. I don't know about you, but I certainly can't imagine why Rich McKay would be uncomfortable right now. What's the opposite of a "vote of confidence"?

There's a comedy of errors, and then there is just clear and convincing evidence that God hates the Falcons. That's just recent history too. We're not even going to go back into propositioning undercover officers and the long and illustrious career of Jamal Anderson.

Underachieving Siblings

The list is long and not limited to just sports figure:

Eli Manning
Tim Hasselbeck
Ozzie Canseco
Billy Ripken
Qadry Ismail
Gregg Easterbrook (Frank is a Supreme Court candidate)
Frank Stallone
Billy Carter
Neal Bush

I'm sure you can think of 20 more. Now add Jamie Lynn Spears, pregnant at 16. Jeez, at least Britney pretended to want to wait til "marriage" (no matter what Fred Durst and a long line of others may say.) I'm not sure if Jamie realizes that you're supposed to get rich and famous BEFORE melting down. On the other hand, maybe this is just the grand finale to the Britney collapse. I'm betting there's more though.
As a side note, I'm NEVER HAVING A DAUGHTER.

The Billick Vote of Confidence - Dream Scenario

[This is a continuing look at the baffling report in the Baltimore Sun that Ravens' head coach Brian Billick will return next year. Read the first part here.]

First off, we will take the Baltimore Sun at its word. The Sun was told by an anonymous source (whether this means a source who asked to remain anonymous or an anonymous tip is uncertain, but I take it to mean a source who asked to remain anonymous) that Brian Billick has been informed that he will return next year.

Normally, the owner comes out and verbally gives the dreaded "vote of confidence", but this owner, Steve Bisciotti, refuses to comment on football matters during the season. That's an admirable stance and it was adopted, most likely, to avoid just this type of in-season distraction. Luckily, it also allows me to fantasize about this January 7, 2008, press conference.

blah Bisciotti informing Billick that you have to throw the ball vertically in basketball

blahblAlternate caption: Billick gets bouncing the ball, it's the passing that baffles him

Bisciotti: I'd like to thank everyone for coming. As you know, this has been a very disappointing season. Today we informed Brian Billick that we have terminated his contract, and that we will be moving in a new direction next season.

Sun Hack: Earlier you told Billick that he would be returning next season. What made you revoke that promise?

Bisciotti: I never said any such thing to Billick.

Sun Hack: But our source said you did.

Bisciotti: (doing Bob Knight impression) Who told you that? Was it me? No, it wasn't me. The whole point of my refusal to talk football matters during the season is that it prevents littlebrains like you from taking my words and parsing them. Whoever your source is, he either lied or was mistaken. When a coach is terminated, other people are often terminated as well. That might lead one to throw out a false news story indicating the coach will be back next year, just so the owner either looks like an ass or backs down and invites him back.

Sun Hack: I'm sorry sir. I like your tan.

Bisciotti: Damn right you do.

December 18, 2007

Jayhawks Disappoint in Close Win over Tech

To put this in perspective, let's acknowledge how bad Georgia Tech is this year. They are now 4-5, and have little hope of improvement. Four of last year's starters are gone. The two star freshmen, Javaris Crittendon (PG) and Thaddeus Young, went to the NBA, and (Super)Mario West graduated. Today, it was announced that Ra'sean Dickey, the senior center and leader, will take a medical redshirt this year. The point guard play throughout was terrible and is not fully reflected in the box score (7 assists and 7 turnovers between Causey, Miller, and Bell). Even on the road, Kansas should have handled the Jackets easily. Only two players (Clinch and Morrow) appeared capable of scoring for much of the game, and it was truly amazing the team broke 50 points. Paul Hewitt was literally stomping mad multiple times when his team did not know the plays or failed to execute them.

Kansas, on the other hand, is undefeated and #3 in the nation. However, the Jayhawks failed to establish a post presence the entire game, and frequently settled for outside shots. Kaun, Arthur, and Jackson (the three big men) combined for a total of 9 shots and only 17 points in 66 minutes. The Jayhawks frequently resorted to a 4 guard offense, which involved lots of dribbling around the perimeter. The team never seemed in sync with each other. While both teams struggled with the terrible officiating, it really detracted from the Kansas post game. Even though KU had a double digit lead for much of the second half, you never really felt you were watching a great team.

The coaching was bad too. Bill Self called off the dogs with 5 min left, opting to burn time and encouraging his players to pass on open shots, a strategy which made this game much closer than it should have been. Georgia Tech closed to within 1 pt with 10 seconds left. Kansas needs to learn how to put bad teams away, even on the road, or they will not go far in the tournament. GT could have sent the game to OT with a 3 on their last possession with 8 seconds left. The Jayhawks should never have been in that position.

Highlight of the game: A Chalmers one-handed slam off an offensive rebound, the 6'1" guard coming down the lane and skying over the forwards as if from a trampoline.

Week 15 NFL Picks Recap

I've been putting this off since I effectively eliminated myself from contention this week, but Brien has finally taken a share of Jeremy's lead. I expected that to happen sometime before Halloween, but here we are nonetheless. Russell and I are clinging to the dream of reclaiming .500 over the next two weeks (and possibly playoffs if it gives me a shot to catch Jeremy/Brien).


Brien (4-1-0) - CAR, CLE, HOU, NYG, TEN
Jeremy (2-3-0) - BAL, CHI, IND, NO, SEA
J-Red (1-4-0) - BAL, DAL, NYG, NYJ, PIT
Russell (2-3-0) - ARI, CIN, GB, JAX, SEA
Magic 8 (2-3-0) - ARI, BAL, CAR, CHI, IND


Magic 8 (41-28-6 for .587)
Jeremy (38-31-6 for .547 -- 3 GB)
Brien (40-33-2 for .547 -- 3 GB)
J-Red (35-37-3 for .487 -- 7.5 GB, 4.5 GB Humans)
Russell (32-41-2 for .440 -- 11 GB, 8 GB Humans)

All of us: 186-170-19 for .521
Humans: 145-142-13 for .505

Dick Vitale Recuperates, America Celebrates!! (Dukies are Communists and don't count)

So us ECB contributors have been bantering back and forth all afternoon about this topic and that the joke was too easy to make. We realized somebody has to make the joke. And that somebody is me. And J-Red is right that I am going to hell if this turns out to be throat cancer...

ESPN reports that Dick Vitale underwent surgery to treat ulcers on his vocal cords today and that he will be out of the television booth until February. Dick Vitale isn't biased in favor of Duke... anybody who looks at the picture above can tell you that.
Only marginally more attractive than real Duke cheerleaders.
I love Duke University
I think we all know the real reason why Dick Vitale developed ulcers on his throat. Coach K's schlong was so far inside Dookie V's mouth that it scraped the vocal cords making him more succeptible to ulcers. Hell, we all know Dookie V and Coach K share so much man-on-man love that the only living creature that's been further up Coach K's ass are the gerbils (which are cloned from Coach K's face) that run free up there.

I understand I lose all blogger credibilty for this post. But who really gives a good goddamn? We're Terp fans. Any fan of an ACC school that doesn't have four letters and rhyme with "nuke" is ready to puke whenever we hear Dookie V doing our team's broadcast or whenever we see him on Sportscenter. The man has a unique talent to use any talking point possible as a jumping off point to discuss Duke alums, Duke coaches, or Cameron Indoor Stadium. The man could transition a discussion of the crop patterns of Namibia to a discussion of how Coach K manages to recruit the smartest kids to play in front of the Cameron Crazies year after year. It's disgusting. I truly believe that there's a room in hell with Around the Horn on 24/7 featuring Woody Page, Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Dick Vitale.
I want to have manly love with Dickie V.
How to close this horrible post? Well, Dookie V... seriously... don't die, because I'll feel bad. But please, let this illness remove you from the broadcast booth for a few seasons. At least I can choose to avoid your columns on

What is Herm Edwards Thinking?

Ignoring his tasteless comments to the fans, Herm Edwards is out of his mind. There is no way he should bring Larry Johnson back this year. I'm all for finishing the season strong and playing with pride, but Larry is the KC franchise right now. Will two victories at Detroit and at the Jets make any difference? I doubt it, but it will negatively affect the Chiefs' draft status. Now I'm not saying they should throw the game NBA-style, but Kolby Smith will suffice as the starting RB until next year. No one really knows what's wrong with Shaun Alexander, but some would point back to a foot injury he played on a couple years ago.

With Brodie Croyle the heir apparent at QB, the Chiefs need a strong running game to protect him (see Jackson, Tarvaris). That strong running game is Larry Johnson. Save him and protect him for next year. The only reason to bring him back is to make Herm and the season's record look better.

A Great Year for NFL Backup QBs

During the preseason, many fans can't even name their backup and certainly not the third-stringer. But this year, backups have spent an inordinate amount of time on the field, and for the most part, have distinguished themselves from the mediocrity many associate with that roster spot. It's time to give credit where it's due. Guys like Aaron Rodgers probably think they might as well be golfing during the team's meetings. When are they going to see the field? This year, they have showed that they really do pay attention and earn that paycheck (frequently league minimum).

It all began with the sudden release of Byron Leftwich, allowing David Garrard to take over (0 INTs the team's first 12 games). Then, in week 2, Derek Anderson took over the lowly Browns and turned them into a playoff team overnight (8-5 as a starter). Trent Edwards, Kellen Clemens, Brian Griese (99 yard drive to end the game and win at Philly), and Brodie Croyle all became the starters at various points in the season.

Many others got spot starts and surprisingly won. Shaun Hill and Trent Dilfer (1 win each) have as many wins as Alex Smith (2). Sage Rosenfels beat the Broncos last week. Quinn Gray won at NO. Todd Collins outplayed #1 pick Eli Manning in the wind at the Meadowlands. AJ Feeley played great against the Pats. Kyle Boller has outplayed McNair, though the record doesn't show it. Daunte Culpepper's comeback lasted long enough to paste the hapless Dolphins.

Others didn't know their turn was coming, which makes it that much more impressive. Aaron Rodgers looked great in a primetime game at Dallas filling in for Brett. Todd Collins beat the Bears after not having played in years. Sage Rosenfels took over against the Titans and led a stunning comeback, only to be surpassed by Kerry Collins doing the same for the Titans.

While we see many performances like Orton's gem on MNF, we should acknowledge and respect the talent of our backups, and maybe next year everyone will pay attention to who the #2 QB is. My apologies to the backups I've forgotten that have played well this year (not you Kelly Holcomb or Kyle Orton or David Carr or Gus Frerotte who fumbled on 4th down from the 2 down 4 with 30 seconds left).

The Wire - Season Five Trailer

Alright readers. If you couldn't already tell, three of the four of us are totally obsessed with The Wire. We're all Maryland guys, I lived in Baltimore, Jason lives outside Baltimore and works in Baltimore, and this show is not only true as hell, gripping, but for my money the greatest show to ever air on television. I only wish I could say I was there on the ground floor, but in all honesty I joined the brigade for the start of Season Three. Anyway, for those of you out there who are smart enough to know good TV when you see it, watch the trailer, and tell me that you're not insanely excited for the show, and incredibly depressed that this season is it. And to those of you who don't watch the show, you need to do a trial subscription to Netflix and get the DVDs now.

December 17, 2007

Illegal Touching...Except

A couple of months ago, I said:

If you watch any football, you've seen players commit the foul of illegal touching many times each game. The officials do not throw any flags, though they do signify that foul by touching both hands to the tops of their shoulders. You don't think of it as illegal touching, because we call it "downing" a punt.

However, illegal touching has one fantastic effect. Once a player on the punting team touches a punted ball that has not made contact with a return team player, no matter what happens afterwards, the return team can always elect to have the ball at the spot of illegal touching. If the punting team touches and controls the ball, the official takes an "official timeout", and awards the return team the ball at the spot of the touching.

It's the other circumstance that every special teams player in the league should know by heart. If the punting team touches the ball and does not control it, there is absolutely no reason why the nearest player should not attempt to pick up the ball and run with it. Throw laterals willy-nilly down the field. Make every attempt to score. This should be done any time the punt is shanked and hits a punt team player in the back, or any time a player non-chalantly touches a ball and walks away from it. After the result of the play, the return team can elect to either take the ball at the spot of illegal touching, or decline the foul and take the result of the return.

In tonight's Monday Night game between the Bears and Vikings, the Bears punted to the Vikings. The ball struck a Bears defender and a Viking wisely grabbed the ball off the bounce and took off down the sideline for a bonus 25 yards or so.

Unfortunately, there is something I forgot to mention in my previous post. If the return man signals for a fair catch and then fails to catch the ball for a reason other than kick catch interference, the return team may not advance the ball past the point where the fair catch would have occurred. This trumps the illegal touching.

NFL Draft Order Tiebreakers


Playoff scenarios? You can find those anywhere. If you're a fan of the 20 golfing teams right now...'re more concerned with draft scenarios.

1) Super Bowl Winner picks 32nd

2) Super Bowl Loser picks 31st

3) Teams are ranked in inverse order of their record. Ties count as a half win and half loss.

4) A playoff team always picks after a non-playoff team with the same regular season record. If two playoff teams have the same regular season record, but one was eliminated in an earlier round, that team picks first.

5) Ties are then broken using strength of schedule (average of all 16 opponent's winning percentage, divisionmates count twice since they were played twice. Or count the wins of all opponents, same result). Weaker schedule picks earlier.

6) If SOS fails to break the tie, and the teams are in the same division, apply the division playoff tiebreakers (except the "loser" picks higher).

7) If SOS fails to break the tie, the teams are not in the same division, but the teams are in the same conference, apply the conference playoff tiebreakers (except the "loser" picks higher).

8) If the teams are still tied, or are in different conferences, a coin toss decides the order.

[Don't forget that the Niners pick goes to New England, and New England's pick (which is guaranteed to be no better than 29th) has been forfeited. Miami has NOT clinched the #1 pick.]

Here is the current draft order (without SOS tiebreaker, which is pointless to apply with 32 games left).

1. Miami

2-4. Atlanta, NY Jets, St. Louis

5-8. Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, New England (via San Fran.)

9-10. Cincinnati, Chicago

11-15. Arizona, Carolina, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia

16-19. Buffalo, Houston, New Orleans, Washington

20. Tennessee

21. Minnesota

22-23. Cleveland, NY Giants

24. Jacksonville

25-28. San Diego, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Seattle

29. Green Bay

30. Indianapolis

31. Dallas

32. Forfeited by New England

T. Bowden to WVU? As the Coaching Carousel Turns

It has been nine season since Terry Bowden last roamed the sidelines as a head coach, but he is now making it known that he would like to return as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers.

This is an interesting turn of events because Bowden has likely waited EXACTLY long enough to be an attractive candidate. Because of his high profile role alongside John Saunders in ABC's college football coverage, today's high schoolers know Terry Bowden well. Plus, Terry grew up in Morgantown and played for WVU so they can replace their hometown boy, Rich Rodriguez, with another hometown boy. This one, honestly, doesn't seem greedy or power-hungry enough to bolt early.

Terry's relation to plain-speaking good ole boy Bobby Bowden belies his education. He was magna cum laude at WVU while a two-year letterwinner. He then did post-grad work at Oxford and obtained a juris doctorate from Florida State's College of Law.

Bowden was 47-17-1 at Auburn, including going undefeated in 1993 in his first year as their coach (Auburn was on probation). He resigned after 6 games in 1998 after getting off to a 1-5 start.

If Bowden's heart is in it, I think this would be a great move for WVU.
As an aside, why does it seem unseemly when a coaching candidate lobbies on his own behalf? The President has to virtually beg for his job, but we want our head coaches to be pursued? It makes no sense.
Oh, and WBGV (Birmingham, AL) is reporting that Nick Saban has contacted WVU to express interest in the vacancy. You have got to be kidding me. If that's true, can we blacklist this man? I can't find any non-blog support for this report.

Fantasy Football Dilemmas

How many of you have been through something similar where you want desperately to root for your team and at the same time need to root desperately against one of your opponent's players doing anything?
For instance, I give you yesterday. The league in which I am Commissioner had semifinals. I'm going up against an old college roommate. I stupidly sat Gostkowski earlier in the day because I feared the weather, instead starting Jason Hanson of Detroit. Nice job. All that did is leave me up four points with my team done, and my opponent only having Chris Cooley.
This in a league where you could argue points are relatively easy to come by... 1 pt/10 yds, 6pts/TD. Especially for Cooley, who leads the 'Skins in touchdown receptions. Ordinarily, for this reason, I love Cooley. Yet last night, I watched the 'Skins game with a huge lump in my stomach. Every time Collins would loft the ball downfield, normally I'd be looking with excitement to see who was the intended receiver. Last night, I was feeling dread. Third quarter fade pattern into the end zone, ball bounces off Cooley's hands. 'Skins settle for field goal. Should I have been happy as I was? Or should I have been pissed that my team didn't lock up the game with another TD?

"Who wears short shorts? Chris Cooley wears short shorts."

In the end, this is one of those exceedingly rare happy endings. My 'Skins kept control of their playoff destiny (imagine if we hadn't crumbled against the Bills/Giants/Packers/Bucs/Cowboys, all winnable games). Eli Manning played like Ellie (well, actually, 9 dropped balls don't help... nice hands Jacobs and Toomer). AND, I managed to win the fantasy football playoff because Chris Cooley was held to shy of 40 yards receiving. Yes, it was a good Sunday night.

And I am so glad the 'Skins are on SNF two weeks in a row because they have the best production out of any of the networks who broadcast the NFL. I rank that NBC, ESPN, Fox, CBS (their low-tier-game announcers are waaaaaaay more piss poor than Fox), and in 19th place is the NFL Network.

December 16, 2007

A Vote of Confidence is not Legally Binding...

Just a friendly reminder to Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Ravens, who earlier this week pronounced his "vote of confidence" in Brian Billick. Congrats Brian. You've just shown zero confidence in your offense by not letting them win a game with zero significance except for emotional significance when they had the ball six inches from the Miami goalline with time for one play left, and likely alienated your entire team. You have two entirely unwinnable games left this year. You just gave the Dolphins their first win since December of last year. You actually gave a guy named "Cleo Lemon" his first NFL victor.

Cleo Lemon - All Pro (against the Ravens)

So yes, your team has been decimated by injuries, I get that. But you just lost to the Dolphins. You've just lost your 8th straight game of the season. Your wins this year are squeakers against the Cardinals, the Jets, and the 49ers, and you did pound the Rams pretty good. The only upside to your situation is that you just likely clinched a top-5 overall pick. As I suggested to J-Red, I hear that Isaiah Gardner is coming out of Maryland. You should shock the world and take him in the first round to boost your secondary.

Oh, and the good news to come out of this is that I've at least clinched a push with my brother-in-law regarding our bet as to who will finish with more wins. I took the 'Skins, he took the Ravens.

But if this was any other team in the league, Billick would be gone. And he still very well might be, despite the most assuredly legally non-binding "vote of confidence." And even if it was legally binding, most legal types could argue that a loss to the pitiful, horrible, putrid Dolphins is such a material breach that it would be unconscionable to hold Bisciotti to the contract and not excuse his performance.

Rodriguez to Michigan

The University of Michigan finally found someone willing to take over for Lloyd Carr as head coach. They continued their raid on all things West Virginia, tapping Rich Rodriguez after stealing John Beilein only last year. Incest and moonshine can't be far behind.

Rodriguez brings a vaunted offensive mind to Ann Arbor, where it will be interesting to see how the traditionalists respond to his offense. You would think that he will have an easier time recruiting talent like Pat White and Steve Slayton to Michigan, but after this year, where would you rather play? Michigan had the most talked-about loss in the country this year, and WVU is playing in their second BCS bowl in the past 3 years.

The other notable coaching innovation
Rodriguez brings to the table is the multi-colored wristbands pictured above. Clearly, these were the height of fashion in Morgantown, but how will they play out in cosmopolitan Ann Arbor? Presumably, they serve some sort of play calling purpose, but in these post-spygate times, doesn't that just make it easier for other teams to steal signals?

After all the coaching changes of the past few years, you have to ask the question: why do coaches even bother with contracts? They can be fired before the contract is done, or they can leave early. Sometimes that involves a buyout, but why not just have coaches coach year-to-year? These multi-year contracts are rarely honored.

Another point: Is it time for the NCAA to do something about coaching changes before bowl season? It's not fair to the West Virginia players to adjust to a new coach while they're preparing for a bowl game. There needs to be an anti-tampering rule for coaches switching schools during the season.

I also have to give props to J-Red for predicting this move and accurately noting that the $4M buyout would not be a deal-breaker for Michigan.

Cowher to the 'Skins in '09??

From Chris Mortensen:

Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has told the Atlanta Falcons he intends to sit out another year of coaching and will not consider the team's vacant head coach position. Cowher was contacted by the Falcons after Bobby Petrino resigned as coach last week, according to league and team sources. It was an exploratory contact, not an offer for the Atlanta job, the sources said. Cowher told Falcons officials he is committed to a two-year sabbatical as he works as an NFL studio analyst for CBS. Bill Parcells, currently working as an ESPN analyst, also has reaffirmed that he will not coach again.

Well, Gibbs' contract is up after next season. I don't see Gibbs resigning after this off season. He's a determined guy and a principled guy and will finish what he started. Redskins fans will tell you that Gibbs is enough of a God in D.C. and has earned enough goodwill that there is no way he will ever be fired by the Redskins. Even if he doesn't know the rules offhand about calling timeouts in the NFL. Just not going to happen. Even by Daniel Snyder. Especially by Daniel Snyder.

So is it insane to think that the stars are aligning just right for Cowher to come and coach the 'Skins after next season? Gibbs plays out his contract. Then he retires to spend time with his NASCAR team, his family, and an ill grandson. Cowher has fulfilled his two-year sabbatical. To hire anybody besides Gregg Williams as the next head coach, the team would owe Williams a huge buyout (nicely done Gregg Williams' agent). Cowher's roots and his home are in Carolina, so the closest teams to his home are the Panthers, the Falcons, and the 'Skins. Falcons are out. Panthers will likely can Fox after this season and need to hire somebody for next season. Could this leave the door open for the 'Skins head coaching position to be open when Cowher wants to return to coaching? I'm just saying...

Welcome to Atlanta, Shelden

As a resident of downtown Atlanta, I see enough broken glass and get enough crime-related emails from Georgia Tech to know that you are not alone in having your car stolen. Armed robberies have been happening around GT sometimes too, and that's even with a strong police presence.

What gets me about this story is the AP article. "The incident is only the latest in a series of attacks on professional athletes." This is in reference to Sean Taylor and "Indiana Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley and his entourage". Initially, I thought this was blowing a simple carjacking way out of proportion. Sean Taylor appears to have been targeted because they thought his house was empty and had nice stuff. Tinsley and co. pulled up at a club and apparently were harassed because they were making too much money. Shelden had his 2008 Chrysler at a barber shop well outside downtown. Unfortunately, the AP may be right, but I don't think it's because they're pro athletes. I think it's that they're rich. With high crime rates in many major cities, the money of the athletes makes an appealing target, whether it's the car, jewelry, or something else.

The most concerning part is that there isn't really a strong pattern between the three crimes. Two of them involved nice cars, and one started at a club (clearly not smart). But Taylor's murder happened in his unobtrusive, gated home, when he was with family. It appears that athletes need to keep a low profile, but it's hard not to spend the buckets of money and their physical appearance is frequently quite distinctive. If I were rich, I would be making an effort to obscure that fact. The only positive thing I have to say is at least kidnapping isn't a typical money-making activity against the upper class in the country like it is in Central and South America.

In addition to these three crimes, there were three other robberies of pro athletes at gunpoint last summer: Dunta Robinson, Eddy Curry, and Antoine Walker. All three of these occurred in the player's home. It's a bad state of affairs when the people that children idolize and want to become are the same people that need significant security just to protect themselves and their families from random acts of greed.