Monday, December 31, 2007

Bustin' Into The Playoffs

A reporter once said, if you want to increase your odds of winning the supebowl, make sure you have a Trojan on the roster. 7 of the 12 teams leaping into this year's version of the NFL playoffs will feature Trojans in significant roles. Though the Colts, Chargers, Redskins, Cowboys, and Packers won't have any feature members of the USC alum, the Seahawks, Giants, Bucs, Patriots, Jags, Titans, and Steelers will.

After seeing little time in his rookie season, and facing constant criticism about his weight, Lendale White had a breakout season for the Titans, rushing for over a thousand yards and helping to lead Tennessee into the AFC playoffs as a wildcard. This "other" back from USC, who was chosen in the second round, becomes the first to crack the 1000 yard mark, with Reggie Bush having a disappointing season in New Orleans. One season later, the tandem has switched positions, as White will participate in the postseason, and Bush will spectate from home. The offseason "Gut" check did wonders for Lendale.

Junior Seau revamped his career in New England, and continues to display his greatness. After calling it a career, two years ago, Seau re-entered the league and continues to be a dominant fixture for the undefeated Patriots. This certain first ballot hall of fame linebacker is looking to capture the one piece missing from an outstanding NFL career, a Superbowl ring. After becoming a world champion with the Patriots, Trojan Willie McGinest moved on to Cleveland, and the Pats quickly plugged in another Trojan replacement in Junior Seau. That's not a bad switch at all.

After becoming a prize pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003, Polamalu will be making his fourth Pro Bowl appearance, and also be battling for a second Superbowl championship. This Trojan is everything the Steelers expected him to be, and they showed their appreciation, by extending his contract through 2011. Another legendary Trojan, Lynn Swann, collected 4 championship rings with the Steelers. Polamalu came along and aided in the Pittsburgh "one for the thumb" campaign, and will now be looking to help the franchise add some bling to the second hand.

Sammy Knight went undrafted in 1997, and was a Pro Bowl strong safety for the Saints by 2001. Now he patrols the field with a talented group of Jacksonville Jaguars. Although the Jags offense is often unsteady, the signature of Jack Del Rio's team has always been the defensive presence. With a stong push by the defensive line, Knight adds support, by locking on potential receivers and punishing those pass catchers in route. Many are calling his Jags the most dangerous team in the playoffs, and a team many would love to avoid. Some Analysts have gone as far as saying if there is one team in the AFC that can defeat the Patriots, it's the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In his rookie season of '05, Lofa Tatupu had the opportunity to dance on the big stage, before his Seahawks fell short of a Superbowl victory, and were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now in his third year, he is granted a third attempt, as he jumps into the playoffs with Seattle for a third time. Also in his third NFL season, he'll be returning to Hawaii for his third consecutive Pro Bowl. Tatupu was a member of that 2004 USC championship team that put the clamps on Oklahoma and the talented Adrian Peterson. Now he'll again clamp down on NFC opponents, in his quest for the hardware.

Overshadowed by Ronde Barber in the Bucs defense, Brian Kelly will be seeking his second Superbowl championship with Tampa Bay. Kelly shared the 2002 interceptions leader board with Rod Woodson, and continued his great play through the playoffs, capping the season with a victory in Superbowl XXXVII. After a few dismal seasons, the Bucs are poised to upset some bigger names to reach the big game again.

The giants are so sure of their second round choice, Steve Smith, that they utilize him as a red zone specialist. Whenver Manning leads his boys in blue into scoring position, this sure handed Trojan appears on the field. After beginning this rookie year impressively, Smith missed time with an injury. Now he's back in the line up, and No. 12 will be looking to do what he did best for the Trojans, secure the ball in the endzone.

92 Trojans have appeared in the NFL's biggest game. It's a mark unmatched by any other college program. There was a Trojan drought for the 2007 Superbowl, but we get another talented group of guys, looking to continue the USC Superbowl legacy.
Fight On!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Paterno vs. Bowden

I don't care who you are or which team you support, you have to admire the longevity of both Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden. This coaching pair have dedicated a lifetime to teaching young men the game of football, and preparing them for careers in the NFL. With the Nittany Lions Alamo Bowl victory, just one game separates these two men on the all time wins leader board, with the 78 year old Bowden holding a 373-372 lead over the 81 year old Paterno.

Although these coaches appear to be in somewhat of a dogfight to end their careers as the overall leader, there's somewhat of a catch to it all. Joe Paterno's 372 victories were all posted against Division 1-A opponents. Bobby Bowden scored 49 victories against programs no longer playing Division 1-A football.

If making the comparison of greatness, you also have to take into consideration the quality of the opponents. Bowden began by coaching Howard and West Virginia, before taking the FSU job in 1976, and one can argue the quality of those schedules. For many years, Penn State played outside of conferences, scheduling as an independent, and that quality can be debated as well.

In 1976, Bowden took over a Seminoles team that had won only 4 games over a 3 year period. He won 5 games in his first year, before posting 10 wins in his second campaign. In comparison, Joe Paterno grabbed the reins of a Nittany Lions team that managed to win only 5 games in his first year, before going 8-2-1 in his second, and having back to back undefeated seasons in Paterno's 3rd and 4th years. Under Bobby Bowden, The Noles were crownded National champions in '93 and '99. Under Paterno, the Lions were the national champions of '82 and '86.

The Seminoles are 19-8-1 with Bobby Bowden coaching bowl games. During his tenure, FSU went 14 straight seasons with a finish among the nation's top 5, unmatched by any other program. Paterno has appeared in, and won more, bowl games than any coach in history, posting a mark of 23-10-1. Paterno led Penn State to 5 unbeaten seasons, and though 4 of those unbeatens went on to win major bowl games, none were awarded the national title.

It's nearly impossible to choose one over the other, when the career paths are mirrored with success. And outside the greed and disloyalty displayed in today's coaching carousel, we can look at Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions and Bobby Bowdens Seminoles, and remember not only how things used to be, but how they should be.

The Homewrecker Arrives

The not so mighty Bruins have made it official, Rick Neuheisel is their new coach. It's a welcome home party for Rick, who was a Bruin quarterback and Rose Bowl victor. Rick's arrival will mean all eyes will now be on the Bruins. Looking at his past coaching positions in the college ranks, he coached both Colorado and Washington, lifting both to the top of their conferences. But although there was that great ascent, both programs eventually became riddled with NCAA investigations. The Buffaloes sank into mediocrity, once Neuheisel accepted the position in Washington, and the Huskies hit rock bottom, after Rick's gambling escapades hit the front pages and led to his firing.

Now he's across town, and if he's smart, his first order of business should be securing Dwayne Walker as the defensive coordinator, and not reconnecting with his 1980s bookie.

Here's wishing you the worst of luck, Rick. Fight On!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

NFL Perfection Makes the BCS umm-Perfect?

It finally happened, and it's over. The New England Patriots defeated the Giants to finished the regular season with an unblemished mark of 16-0. The NFL has their superstar, and now legendary team. The networks cashed in on the drive for 16, and the league filled their pockets by selling the rights for games to be aired. For the first time in 35 years, the pros gave us something to watch from beginning to end. I guess we could equate that to Barry Bonds' chase of Aaron, and how it became a media spectacle and money maker for the MLB.

But the truth is, what those leagues are enjoying once in decades, you can find on the college gridiron on just about any Saturday. Every college weekend features important games. Every week is about a team trying to maintain a zero in the loss column. A single loss can shatter your dreams for a national title. A single loss in conference can burst your BCS bubble and deny the automatic bid. A single loss for a mid-major, and you're not crashing anyone's BCS party.

It's an ongoing debate about creating a playoff format in Division I or leaving it as is. Personally, I'd love to see a champion crowned by their achievements on the field, facing others that are chasing the same dream. But at the same time, I can see where the opposition for a playoff system is coming from. Monetary losses are a big reason some school presidents are against it, but some fans oppose the thought, for the simple fact that a playoff system would reduce the importance of regular season games.

If we had a playoff format in college football, the victories by Stanford, Appalachian State, and Pitt over greater opponents don't mean as much. It becomes just another game. With a playoff system, dropping one or two won't hurt you. There would be about as much buzz about those upsets as there is for the Eagles beating the Cowboys or maybe Dayton beating Pitt in college hoops. The Cowboys move on to the playoffs, Pitt will eventually advance to the NCAA tournament, and those games are forgotten. There is no forgetting in college football, upset losses stick with you for the entire season, and possibly for years.

Just imagine this, The LSU Tigers, after wrapping up the SEC west division, sit their starters in the final regular season game versus Arkansas. What is there to play for? The bigger prize is to be gained in the SEC title game. Screw bragging rights, if you can have a rested team playing for the automatic playoff bid. In college ball you find teams down 21 in the fourth quarter, desperately giving all they have, hoping and praying to get the come from behind win. It's because it's not just one game on a schedule. It's your entire season compressed into that last 15 minutes of play. What becomes of rivalry games? Sure, there will still be the hate. The Skins and Cowboys are playing in an NFL rivalry game this weekend. The Cowboys starters won't see much action. Just imagine if there was no NFL playoffs and these rivals met, with the Skins in position to totally F**k the entire season for Dallas. Now how much emphasis is on that game? Trust me, there would be a mad rush to ensure it's televised nationally, to cash in on the value of this rivalry.

That's what occurred in the Pitt/WVU game. It's what happened in last season's UCLA/USC game. It's a constant in the Big 10, with Michigan and Ohio State, and it's what Missouri did to the their border rivals of Kansas. It's one thing to beat your neighbor, but it's another to shatter their championship dreams along the way. All the teams I mentioned needed wins against their rivals to win or stay in the hunt for their conference titles, except for one, WVU, who would have also had the luxury of resting their starters during the backyard brawl.

A playoff system would give us a true champion, but the BCS keeps us focused on the regular season. The highest rated games for the NFL in this '07 season were the Patriots/Colts, Patriots/Steelers, and I'm sure tonight's Patriots/Giants will top those. Viewers tuned in to see someone knock the Patriots from their perch and spoil their run. That's what the college fan tunes in for, on any given Saturday.

Beavers Get One

The Pac 10 finally put a "W" on the board, as the Oregon State Beavers continued their bowl winning ways, topping Maryland by a score of 21-14. This game featured 3 storylines, the running of Oregon State's Bernard, the Beavers defense, and the Pac 10 avoiding embarassment.

The nation finally got a glimpse of NFL prospect Yvenson Bernard. Once a Pac 10 secret, Bernard is now out in the open. In this battle of who could accumulate the most turnovers, Bernard was the offensive star, running around and through the Terps for 177 yards. With speculation surrounding the rust on his legs, after finally coming back from injury, I think Bernard gave an affirmative answer.

Another Pac 10 secret was revealed on Friday night. The Beavers play great defense. USC has the most celebrated defense in the conference, but the Beavers just slapped Maryland with the realization that they've got a pretty good unit of their own. The Terps struggled to move the ball all night, positioning the turnover happy Beavers for the victory.

It was embarassing enough to see UCLA defeated by a Mountain West squad, then to see the Texas dominance over Arizona State. But if the Pac's No. 3 team would have lost to the ACC's No. 8, we would be burying our heads in shame. We've saved ourselves....for now.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Horse's Greatest Women in Sports

Here’s a big shout out to the greatest women in sports. Unlike the criteria used by other media sources, such as Time Magazine or the Associated Press, numbers and statistics will mean nothing here, unless they are in reference to measurements. Some of the women on this list brought more attention to themselves and their sport, based on appearance alone, and not with their performance on the courts, greens, slopes, etc.

Some women may seem to gain an unfair advantage, in their posing for playboy, while others haven’t. Birthday suits won’t establish any kind of advantage on this list, because the Horse’s imagination strips them all nude anyway.

I give you the Horse’s top 10 sporting women….

1. Missy Gibson-surfer

The surf isn’t the only thing up, when Missy’s riding the wave. She won’t make Sportscenter highlight reels or win any Espys, but Missy has drawn the attention of photographers worldwide. With beauty and body, this female surfer has been pitching the Roxy label, and leaving her opposite sex to pitch tents.

2. Stacy Kiebler-Wrestler

Long before Stacey was dancing with the stars, she was dancing in my dreams. Though she made a name for herself in female wrestling (mud not included), I can honestly say I’ve never seen a single match. But I’d gladly go a few rounds, just to see how long it would take to pin her.

3.Danica Patrick- Indy Racer

Has Danica ever won anything, besides my heart? I admire her will to participate in a male dominated sport, and trying to be viewed as “just one of the guys”. But I’m sorry Danica, guys don’t have **** like those and an *** like that.

4. Maria Sharapova- Tennis

Little Maria grew up (and out). This former tennis Queen of England has made many forget about Anna Kournakova. Both are Russian. Both are blondes. But unlike Sharipova, Anna was a loser.

5. Heather Mitts- Soccer

I’ll admit to watching the women’s team USA soccer tournaments, without ever watching the men play. Heather is a big reason for that. I’m not sure which position she plays, but I can think of many positions to put her in.

6. Kristi Leskinen- Freestyle skiing

Kristi placed 10th at the 2007 X-Games in the superpipe event. If this snow bunny would have stripped herself of the excess weight of clothing, I’m sure she would have placed higher. She would definitely get my first place vote.

7. Natalie Gulbis- Golf

Even with some newcomers arriving on the LPGA tour, Natalie still appears as the hottest babe on the greens. She allowed the good Christian boy, Ben Rothlisberger, to play a few holes, so I doubt someone as devilish as myself would stand a chance.

8. Sasha Cohen- Figure Skater

Sasha is a skater that eventually gained a figure. At one time, I felt her head was too large for her body, but over the years, her frame has caught up. There are so many women to choose from in figure skating, but I’ve honored Sasha on this list.

9. Amanda Beard- Swimmer

Many people would choose Amanda for the top spot, because of that unfair Playboy advantage. If I eliminate those visions and leave an even playing field, I find her worthy of number 9. I hold a firm belief that Missy Gibson’s playboy spread would put Amanda’s to shame.

10. Allison Stokke- Pole Vault

Allison set a California freshman High School pole vaulting record. Since then, she’s taken her gift, and gifts, to the University of California Berkeley. I’ll admit, she looks a lot better in competition than she does off the track. Socially, she blends in with some other everyday hotties. But on the track, those compression shorts have me focused on how she grips and rises with that pole.

I narrowed my list down to these 10, and I’m sure your own personal preferences would rearrange the order, eliminate, and add others. But of course, I don’t care. My list. My girls.

I submit my apologies to N.O.W and any other feminist groups that will be offended by my use of the female body as eye candy. I just ask that if you choose to picket my home, at least wear short skirts.

Oh, and a note to PETA, no beavers were harmed during the publication of this article, so stay off my a$$.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Big Mack Attack

The Holiday bowl is now complete, and this Big 12/Pac 10 match proved to be no contest. The Scumdevils of Arizona State decided to end their season by further proving to everyone that they were frauds. The Devils received so much praise for an 8-0 start on the season, before heading into the teeth of their schedule. They climbed into the nation's top 10, before eventually suffering losses to USC and Oregon. In other words, the scumdevils lost to the best teams they played. And to finalize the label of "fraud", tonight they ended the season by allowing the Texas Longhorns to hang 52 points on the board, as the horns cruised to a 52-35 victory.

Under Mack Brown, Texas is now 7-3 in bowl games, winning 4 straight. Credit Brown for again having his team prepared, and while we're at it, less also credit the big mouth of Rudy Carpenter for antagonizing statements about the Longhorns before the game. Longhorn players and fans took it upon themselves to remind Carpenter of his statements, with the chant of "RUDY" coming from the Texas sideline and in the bleachers.

It's Dejavu for the Pac 10, who now opens this bowl season as they did the last, going 0-2. Just as last year, UCLA and Arizona State laid eggs, with Oregon following to make it an 0-3 start. But the Pac managed to rebound in their last 3 to finish even. Oregon, Cal, Oregon State, and USC are up next, so we'll have to see how that works out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

4 More Years


“With the 1st pick in the 2008 NFL draft……”

It doesn’t matter which year it is or even which pick it may be, but when we finally hear those words, we face the realization that our favorite college programs will be missing key components to the gridiron war machine. If you’re lucky, you’ll get four years out of a great one. But all too often, when money calls, rosters fall, and you’re left with the task of plugging in a new piece.

With a quick glance across the country, I can see LSU losing Early Doucet, Glenn Dorsey, and Ali Highsmith. I see a Michigan future without Hart, Henne, and Long. No more Woodson in Kentucky. No more Brohm in Louisville. Dixon limps away from Eugene, Ellis and Rivers will leave vacancies at Southern Cal, and Brennan will take flight from his island paradise. It sure would be nice to have 4 more years, but this isn't the NFL, and we have no franchise players.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you had a fabulous freshman or super sophomore, and will cruise into ’08 with little worries. Georgia maintains their diamond in the RUFF, as Knowshon Moreno can’t escape for another 2 years. Tebow gives Florida another solid outlook for the future. And then you have McFadden, Laurinaitis, and a host of juniors looking for Sunday employment. They’ll jump at the wealth, while nearly crippling the teams left behind.

But what if you had one chance, just one single shot to pull an existing player from any 2008 college roster and add that person to your team. Who would it be? Would you even want anyone or be satisfied in trying to rebuild through high school recruitment? After watching a team’s performance, there has to be one player at a key position that you may feel is the difference between a program going undefeated and participating in the title game or losing close matches and watching it.

With my loyalty to the Trojans of USC, my choice is fairly simple. The Trojans are ready to plug in some 5 star players to replace what they’ll lose defensively, but their struggles have been a result of the inefficiency in the passing game, mainly with the pool of receivers. Yes, John David Booty couldn’t hit a receiver deep and in stride, but at the same time the receiving corps was a total disappointment. Nothing supports my argument more than the tight end, Fred Davis, being the team’s leading receiver in 2007.

So while everyone else is scrambling to nab Tim Tebow, Knowshon Moreno or even Kevin Smith of UCF, my choice is none of the three. For the Trojans, I pick Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech. Is there a better choice for USC?

If you could choose a player from any 2008 college roster, which would you add to your college team?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

bRUINED The Happy Ending

The UCLA Bruins had a chance to finish a miserable season on a high note, but in typical Bruin fashion, they blew it. Defensively, they actually played well, but they continued their struggles on offense. It was quite funny that everytime I declared them officially out of the game, BYU would hand them a gift. Instead of going into the halftime locker room with an 11 point lead, the cougars decided to hand the ball off from their own 20 with only 14 ticks on the clock. Of course, they fumbled, set the Bruins up, and UCLA hung 7 before intermission.

Upon my second declaration of victory, The Cougars allowed the Bruins to travel the length of the field with just over a minute left to play. It was a drive that started on the Bruin 1 and extended to the BYU 10. Forbath had kicked field goals of 50 and 52 yards earlier in the game to bring the Bruins to within a single digit. Now with a chip shot in front of him, the Bruin season ends on a blocked kick and BYU victory. Could it have been any more fitting?

3 of the Bruin losses this season came against Utah, Notre Dame, and BYU. They should have their Pac 10 privileges revoked.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coming Home

It looks like the shoving match between USC and the coliseum commission is coming to an end. Our terminating Governor stepped in to represent the state, and the final offer was laid on the table. Although the Trojans aren't getting the slumlord to fulfill some of their maintenance needs (repairs, plumbing, and Jumbotron), they're getting half off the coliseum rent. The Trojans were also seeking a 75 year lease, to which the State wouldn't extend pass 47. The proposal is said to be in the best interest of the taxpayer, but doesn't make much sense to me, with USC willing to fund the repairs, if they can be named master tenants. It's pretty obvious Master Tenancy is out of the question, if the City and State plan to lure an NFL franchise to Los Angeles. You really can't have a University calling the shots, when it comes to the needs of the NFL. This proposal leaves the door open for strong arming the Trojans, when and if the big money comes knocking at the coliseum door. The deal should be solidified on January 9th, barring any last minute jabs.

Either way, I'm pleased the Trojans can return to battle and defend the great walls of Troy. Any place else would be unacceptable and just not the same. The Rose Bowl is a single, and a double shot, in some years, but the Coliseum is the place we call home.

Making It Personal

Oregon and Mike Bellotti finally got over the hump, by edging the Trojans in Eugene this year. And if not for their bad luck, could have probably went on to win the Pac 10, represent the conference in the Rose Bowl or even be playing for the national championship. The recent success would surely improve their recruiting, with the Ducks receiving national exposure. In all, it would have made for an interesting future, with Trojans and Ducks battling for conference championships in years to come. But apparently, that's not good enough for Mike Bellotti. He wants more than a business rivalry, he's looking to make it personal.

According to sources, Bellotti has spoken to UCLA and interviewed for their head coaching position. It looks like the northern Duck wants to take this feud across town. I accept any challenge, especially now, since Norm Chow has taken his name out of the running for the job, but it still irks me that Bellotti is even considering this. Just think, If Bellotti accepts this position, 2008's crosstown rivalry game will feature two men that interviewed for the USC job in 2001, and one man that accepted it. Bellotti was a choice before Pete Carroll, and turned down the job. For him to accept the job in Westwood, would appear as a deliberate snubbing of the Trojans. Why isn't the USC job good enough, but the UCLA job is?

Just remember this, Mike, you can spend an entire career in Oregon losing to USC, and you'll still keep your job. Run off consecutive losses to the Trojans from the UCLA sidelines, and they'll run you out of town. Why do you think the job is available?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two Weeks Notice

In the everyday world, you find a new job, give your old employer two weeks notice, pack your $h!t and make your exit on the designated date. In the college football world, you agree to new employment, but you stick around the old hang out to coach one final game. Why? You're doing it for the guys you care so much about? How do you sell that, after abandoning them for another group of guys?

Why would Athletic Directors even allow you to hang out? I don't see how this benefits the program. If I'm the AD at LSU, I don't want Bo Pellini anywhere near recruits showing up for a visit. If I'm Nebraska, I want him in Lincoln and hot on the recruiting trail. You have players decommitting from Big Red. Is Pellini supposed to convince them to stay at the new and improved Nebraska, from the other end of a phone? What I see is someone saying "right now, you're second fiddle to a better team I'm working with". "These guys are in a bowl, and you're not, so I'll see you in the spring".

Houston Nutt, Rich Rodriguez, and even Bobby Petrino did it the right way. How can you get guys to commit, when you haven't even made a true commitment yourself? Rodriguez takes himself out of the WVU mix, and instantly Terrell Pryor places Michigan on his short list. Maybe that was the first strike against Charlie Weis, when he remained with the New England Patriots after accepting the job at Notre Dame. You can come out as a player and think "team and togetherness", but reality hits you in the face, when your head coach has made you a secondary issue.

Rich Rodriguez fired the entire staff at Michigan. Now what does Michigan do? You have a resigned coach and fired assistants to coach a bowl game. Why would they care? Are they trying to prove themselves worthy of the Michigan head coaching position? The position is filled. Why would these kids care? Win one for Lloyd? That should have come in the last regular season game, against Ohio State. It would have saved all their damn jobs! There's nothing to save now, but I hope you all enjoy that Florida vacation.

So Close Yet So Far

Our annual fashion show ended two weeks ago, and the 2007 winner is Southern Wear. Not to anyone's surprise, Florida's Tim Tebow took home the award. With the record breaking numbers he posted on the season, it's a little hard not to give him a first place vote. But though his numbers won him the prize, my choice for the most outstanding player in college football is Darren McFadden, for the second year in a row.

There's no player with a bigger target on his back than McFadden. Tebow works from a spread, with the object being to confuse defensive pursuit, freeing running lanes or creating ease in the passing game. There is no confusion in Arkansas. McFadden on the field, McFadden gets the ball. Even so, he still remains productive, facing 7 and 8 in the box, with each snap of the ball. But DMC shouldn't hang his head low, because Jason White has one of those stiff armers, and have you seen him on any NFL highlight reels lately? How about EVER? Just move on to the next level, as Vince young did, and that college trophy is quickly forgotten. Ok, I lied. Vince still burns over not winning the Heisman, but I think the pain subsides after substantial period of playing in the NFL, like maybe 10 years.

Aside from McFadden, how is Dennis Dixon feeling. Sore knee, and maybe some sore feelings towards the Heisman committee? Once he was injured, it was certain he wouldn't win it. How can you win a fashion show without modeling the goods? But couldn't the kid at least get an invite? You go from Heisman front runner to not worthy of an invitation in a three week period? Colt Brennan missed games, but he went to New York. And guess what, in games missed, Brennan's Hawaii Warriors won without him. With Dixon's injury, the Ducks fell faster than a pair of panties on Paris Hilton. Oregon's last 3 games proved how outstanding, and how valuable Dixon was to his team. There is no plug in player for the Oregon leader. It's Dixon or Bust. The Ducks' offense is busted.

Should McFadden stick around to be an unappreciated three time loser? Hell no. Move on to the next fashion show, where money is the prize.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lumps Of Coal

Dear Santa,

I’m sending you this letter,
unlike any you may receive,
Wondering why this jolly man
would purposely deceive.
Unlike your brown nose reindeer,
I will not kiss your ass.
I want reasons for the lumps of coal,
in winter days that pass.

I know that I’m a good one,
yet I made your “naughty” list.
Deny it all you want to,
but my house is always missed.
But no one can be perfect,
I tell you this is true.
At least I know to watch my weight,
can we say the same for you?

But no more disrespecting,
I’ll put it in plain sight,
All the things I’ve wished for,
and what you brought that night.

I wished for perfect seasons,
Trojans raising crystal balls.
You gave me UCLA and Stanford,
Two years with none at all.
And as for the Heisman Trophy,
perhaps you did deliver.
But if Bush is found ineligible,
Mr. Claus the Indian giver.

14 victories for the Bolts,
then more coal to stare upon.
Sitting at home in January,
and now our Marty’s gone.
Another division title,
but the big bowl I will not know.
And I’ll show my frustration,
and you’ll give a “ho, ho, ho”.

So what is there to wish for,
knowing all dreams will shatter?
Slinging coal in ones and twos,
you say I just don't matter.
I even wished for Jessica Alba,
and thought you had forgot.
Now Jessie is expecting,
and I didn’t fire a single shot.

I won’t even wish for a hardwood gift,
because wishes don’t come true.
And I write without a middle finger,
leaving that one just for you.

Now I ask for a Shelby Mustang,
Preferably in black.
Deliver this wish on Christmas day
And I'll take all harsh words back.

So please try to remember,
As your sleigh sets on its course.
Deliver a smile this December,

The Horse

Monday, December 17, 2007

Giving You Two 5's For a 10

The NFl is feeling a little shortchanged, and I can't blame them. The Saints spent a ton of money in the 2006 draft, and the league has spent two years publicizing Reggie Bush, but the college phenomenon isn't responding with the productivity to match the investment. There's no doubt in my mind that Reggie will eventually be worth the price of admission, but as far as gaining an instant 10 from number 5, you got cheated.

But no worries, I'm here to give you the proper exchange. You want a 10, so I'll give you two 5's, as in No. 55 of the USC Trojans. Keith Rivers will be the next great NFL defender, following in the footsteps of others to wear that number. Upon his arrival in Southern California, and making the request for the digits, he was informed by the Trojan AD that the recipient of that number has big shoes to fill, being that the number was worn by both Willie McGinest and Junior Seau during their collegiate careers. Well, Rivers did more than wear the number for four years, he gave it his own name and a new legacy for whoever wears that future number on their chest.

Everyone likes to focus on the offensive stars during the Pete Carroll reign. But giving it a realistic view, outside of Carson Palmer, is there another offensive player from USC that had an immediate impact in the NFL? They've had many talented receivers, but not one of them is an NFL star. They've had groups of running backs, but which is a pro bowler? Matt Leinart is injured, and isn't among the NFL elite passers. Matt Cassell is a back up QB in New England. From Hollywood stars to Sunday set extras, that's the offensive transformation.

If you're looking for the impact players, check the defensive side of the ball. Troy Polamalu and Lofa Tatupu join Carroll's class as pro bowlers. Almost immediately, Kenechi Udezi and Mike Patterson have secured starting roles on the defensive lines of the Eagles and Vikings. The offense gets the glory, but if you draft the defense you get the goods.

Though John David Booty will be the USC offensive headliner in the 2008 draft, the best offensive product is the tackle, Sam Baker. And still, the cream of the crop will be found in Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, and Terrell Thomas, all on the defensive side.

And just as his predecessors before him, expect this new 55 to come alive at the higher level. The number will be available next year. Who's next?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Could've Been The One

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It's been two full weeks of debate over the final BCS standings, and I'm sure it's not over, and will probably never be. I've read so many arguments that it makes my head spin. The Dawgs are woofing, the schooner is spinning, and another host of 2 loss teams are pissed off at the final tally. Some have legitimate arguments, while others have no leg to stand on. But who really presents the strongest case, of all the teams feeling they are most deserving of a title shot? How about Virginia Tech?

The Hokies fall victim to change. The new and "improved" system, since the tweakings of the past, may have cost VTech a trip to New Orleans. And it's not that the trip would have held any logical weight, because I sure can't see any, but more because of what the computers have always lacked, common sense.

Virginia Tech ended the 2007 season with the highest computer ranking, coming out as the nation's No. 1 team in 4 of the 6 computers. In the 2003 format, with the computers having two thirds of the equation, there is a great possibility that the Hokies (No. 5 in both human polls) would have secured one of the top BCS positions. It was the computer ranking that enabled them to place just shy of the top spots, seating them 3rd in the final 'o7 standing.

If we eliminated the human polls, our championship game would be a rematch of the Computer's No. 1 Virginia Tech versus No. 2 LSU.

How the hell did the computer find the Hokies to be better than the Tigers? Both teams have two losses, and they actually faced each other in the regular season. One of VTech's losses was to LSU, yet the computers find the Hokies to be better. LSU embarrassed Virginia Tech, racking up close to 600 yards of offense in a 48-7 victory, but the Hokies are greater than the Tigers? The Billingsley computer ranks LSU's strength of schedule at 7 and Tech's somewhere in the 30s, but Vtech comes out on top? It's not even close in quality win opponents, but Virginia Tech is superior to LSU? Exactly what is that motherboard seeing that this mother's child is not?

Why are we still banking on this system? Why are some people still insisting that the computer knows best and defending its final tally? Is it because this is one of the first places we come for answers, to this electronic genius? This genius has NO common sense, which is why Mapquest gives me the longest friggin route to get to a simple destination.

Well, the BCS mapped out a route to the championship game, and took a long road of digits to find Virginia Tech at No. 1 and better than LSU, when common sense will tell us that's a crock of $h!t. That's the easiest team to eliminate from the debate, because they LOST a head-to-head battle with LSU.

You think you have a big debate now? Imagine if the '03 system went unchanged, and Vtech slipped in above a one loss Ohio State team, and your 2 loss OU and Georgia teams? Well, OU shouldn't even complain. First, because Bob Stoops claims to love the system. And second, because the Sooners were able to benefit from that old format in '03. But believe me, hell would break loose on other college campuses, and we'd be looking at another possibility of a split title.

Ann Arbor is Greater Than Morgantown

The Wolverines pulled a new coach from that old place, Morgantown West Virginia. If everything goes as scheduled, Rich Rodriguez will be coaching Blue in 2008. Of course, I still have my doubts, and who can blame me, after the stunt he pulled with Bama last year. I'll give it a few days, to see if a Mountaineer angel comes to him in his sleep, convincing him to stay at WVU.

The hire gives Michigan 2 snags in just 8 months, with John Beilein agreeing to leave West Virginia last April to be the new Wolverines head basketball coach. Two men built separate programs in Morgantown, placing them in the national spotlight, and two men departed from those programs to wear the maize and gold of Michigan.

If this is a solid hiring, the first order of business is obvious, Rod will have to hit the recruiting trail to find the necessary pieces for that spread offense. Luckily for QB Chad Henne, he's on the way out. But unfortunate for Ryan Mallett, he has another 3 years committed to a team that is obviously about to stray from the pro-style offense. And what becomes of Super Mario Manningham? Will he stick around for the breaking in of a new system or pack his bags and head to the NFL?

It's a great hire for Michigan. My choice was for them to go after Appalachian State's Jerry Moore and his spread package. They did me one better, and landed Rich Rodriguez.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


It looks like I was right. Karl Dorrell was used by the Duke Blue Devils to keep the BCA off their backs. Poor guy. I would actually feel sorry for him, if he didnt' spend so many years wearing that powder puff blue on the UCLA sidelines. It's a shame though, and couldn't have been more obvious. We're talking about Duke, a university that has never had an African American coach in any of the school's sports, in their entire existence. How much heat would the Devils receive, if they hadn't interviewed Dorrell before hiring Tennessee's David Cutcliffe as their new head coach? Oh well, it's back to the want ads for Karl. UCLA could have at least made it easier for him, by firing him in November. At least that would have given him ample time to apply for one of the many mall Santa jobs.

Staying on the topic of coaching searches, why the hell is Michigan talking to WVU's Rich Rodriguez? Didn't they see what he did to Bama last year, using them to increase his salary in Morgantown and improve the Mountaineers' athletic facilities? I can't even think of any reason Rod would choose to leave West Virginia for Ann Arbor. He has an easier road to the BCS championship game, coming out of the Big East, where he's already proven WVU to be the dominant team. That's the same reason I couldn't see him taking the Bama job last year. Greg Schiano chooses to stay in the Big East and stay at Rutgers, and the Wolverines think they're going to pull the conference's top coach out of the bunch?

Here Michigan, allow me to help you with your coaching search. I think you should be talking to a coach named Jerry Moore. The name may sound familiar. He coaches a team at Appalachian State.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Taking It In The Buttocks

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Aww. Baseball is wearing a frown. America’s favorite pastime has been put on blast, and we find a league ducking for cover. But not everyone from the diamond is frowning, because I would suspect Barry Bonds is wearing a big smile. He’s been the most scrutinized individual of the steroid debate. But look, now he has company.

Come on Bud Selig, let’s see you turn you’re back on some of these names. Let’s see you avoid acknowledging some of these achievements. It’s not just about homeruns and Babe Ruth Anymore. It’s not about a single man, but about league MVPs, Cy Young Winners, Golden Glovers, the 300 win club, World Series champions, and future Hall of Famers. Hall of fame? Wow! If I could patent the asterisk, I could make a fortune!

Sure, I’ve heard it all. You can’t prove this long list of players actually used the substance, and can only prove possession. Any testimony of actual use comes as hearsay, since none have ever tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, including Barry Bonds. But hearsay was enough to tarnish the image of Bonds. Let’s see if other reps will be tarnished or if baseball will look to restore the images of its more “likeable” stars.

Hey Mr. Selig, you’re about to earn every dime of your commissioner paycheck. The credibility of your league is in trouble. It’s going to take more than league wide “Jackie Robinson” days to cloud these allegations. How about free beer for the first six innings in all ballparks, so we get an illusion of an even playing field in the seventh?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why Hate On Boston When The Gators Are More Worthy

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2007 has been a hatefest for the Boston area. Well, not if you live there, but everywhere outside the shamrock, baked beans, Paul Revere riding city. The Red Sox are world champions (again), the Patriots are undefeated and pointed in that Superbowl direction (again), and the Celtics have come alive to be a force in the NBA. And for just a moment, it seemed like the Boston College Eagles were going to work their way into the college football championship game. They fell off. Thank God! Boston has had so much recent sports success that we might as well rename it the “city of champions”. That alone will bring the hate, since no one would willingly admit their town is inferior to anyone. But why stop at Boston, when Florida has a little something going on of their own?

Boston may have several trophies grouped under one city, but as a single entity, no one has had more success than the Florida Gators. Florida is your current back to back defending college basketball champions. They are also your current college football champions. And to add insult to injury, they picked up the most prestigious award in college sports, with Tim Tebow grabbing the Heisman trophy. Why no hate for the swamp chompers? I guess if you look at the Marlins, Devil Rays, Dolphins, and some others, the laughter keeps us from bringing hate to the entire State. At least the Gators stink on a baseball diamond, leaving something for the folks out west to boast.

The Lady Trojans just won the college soccer championship. Does that count towards anything? Eh, I’ll mark it down as a point for USC. Take it where you can get it, right?

Mother Knows Best

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The domino effect caused by a coaching change is something to witness. It’s pretty amazing how you remove one piece and the rest begin to fall with a “click, click, click.” What began with Ole Miss firing Ed Orgeron has now created ripples, with the effects reaching the professional level. Ole Miss cans Orgeron (click), Houston Nutt steps down from Arkansas (click), Ole Miss hires Houston Nutt (click), Arkansas hires Bobby Petrino (click), and the Falcons now have the next move. Orgeron to Atlanta? Nah. Don’t click that one.

But coaching changes will also bring decisions for not only NFL GMs and College athletic directors, but also for players planning on attending a certain school based on the system. If you’re uncommitted and that change occurs, it’s simple, just pick another. If you are committed, just bolt. But what if you left one program for another, and the one you left just provided a make over that is better than your current situation?

This is exactly what happened to Mitch Mustain. Some of the Atlanta Falcons expressed their resentment of the Petrino leap. I’m sure there’s a lot of despise in Louisville, who became the first victim of Pet’s abandonment. But I wonder how Mitch must feel, since he transferred from Arkansas to USC, to play in a potent passing offense?

College rule 1: Don’t let your mommy speak for you.

Not only is it embarrassing, but it makes it harder to get chicks, if you’re mom is treating you like a little boy on national television. Mrs. Mustain (Beck Campbell) attacked Arkansas and coach Nutt, wanting more playing time for her son. After all, he started 6 games for the Hogs, as a freshman, winning all 6 before being benched. No waiting in the Mustain household. Three choices, Mitch plays, Nutt goes, or we go (as if she was suiting up in pads). She didn’t win. Nutt stayed with Dick (no pun intended), and Mitch packed his bags and headed west to be a Trojan.

College rule 2: Don’t bring mom along to your new location.

Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, Mommy Mustain hit the media again, voicing the pleasure of having her son in an opportunity to play in a Lane Kiffin offense. But unfortunate for the “Whine” family, Lane Kiffin departed for Oakland to be the lead man of the Raiders. No big deal, Sark is still here. But so far, under Steve Sarkisian, The Trojans have the appearance of a more run dominant team. Too bad Mitch, but you can always practice your hand offs.

College rule 3: You can never go home again.

When spring rolls around, Mitch Mustain will be battling Mark Sanchez for the starting position at USC. The boy has some skills, so I like his chances. But Mustain would have been a sure fit for a Bobby Petrino type offense that will now be running in Arkansas. I have very little doubt he would have beaten out Casey Dick, and could possibly be a starring QB in the SEC, under Petrino. He would have been to the Hogs what Brohm is to the Cards. But oh well, mother knows best. Right?

College rule 4: If the madwoman reappears in the media, just stick to your orphan story. Chicks dig that one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Race To Remember

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As always, winter brings that perennial chill across the college coaching circuit. Without the warmth of success, some coaches will be stripped bare and facing the cold world of unemployment. For some, new opportunities come quickly. But for others, it can be a long winter wait. And if you’re UCLA’s Karl Dorrell, one can only wonder if he’s being used as a pawn in a very stupid game.

Karl Dorrell had little success with the Bruins. He surrendered the best Southern California talent to his rivaled Trojans and the Golden Bears up north. In 5 seasons at UCLA, his teams have never played in a January Bowl game, posting a record of 1-4 in the lesser bowls. He beat Pete Carroll and his cross town rivals just once, while also posting an 0-2 record against Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. In contrast, the team across town has won 2 national championships and 6 conference titles in that same period.

So here comes the puzzling part. Immediately after the firing of Karl Dorrell, why did his name suddenly appear on so many coaching wish lists? Where is the rush to talk to Lloyd Carr? All he did was win a national championship, his conference, and 75% of his games. Why aren’t we seeing Bill Callahan’s name thrown around? He’s an unemployed loser too. Dennis Franchione got fired after back to back victories over rival Texas. Doesn’t anyone want to interview him? Then it came to me, though I don’t want to believe it. Could it be? Is it possible? Does this have nothing to do with the man that is Karl Dorrell, but everything to do with the race of Karl Dorrell?

The BCA was quick to voice their resentment over Texas A&M and Mississippi not interviewing any minority coaching candidates, before making their final hire. And just weeks after the BCA was heard, not only did Karl Dorrell get fired and instantly have interviews lined up, another minority name from the past, Norm Chow, surfaces for vacant coaching positions.

Dorrell may be a good man, and assisted in cleaning up the UCLA program. But let’s be real, he stinks as a head coach. His Bruins have underachieved in every year of his tenure. But if programs are using him to fulfill a “quota” to satisfy the BCA, that is just shameful. If you have no interest in hiring him, don’t waste his time. The NCAA does not have any mandatory rules in place, regarding minority hiring. And instead of facing the humiliation of having the BCA breathing down their necks and leaving a check mark against the institution, we have programs that would rather humiliate a man, by using him as a game piece.

The BCA has great intentions, but they’ve created this new element in hiring practices. Sometimes they are too quick to criticize, when programs like Ole Miss obviously had all intention of hiring Houston Nutt, once he resigned from Arkansas. They once criticized USC for the hiring of Pete Carroll, without interviewing a minority candidate. It was USC’s AD Mike Garrett, an African American that made the hire.

There is no simple solution. And for the most part, I believe a program will chase a name on its merits and not a color. Washington’s Tyrone Willingham was hired by 3 programs since 2001. All hirings were based on his production and resume, and not his skin color.
Randy Shannon was hired by the University of Miami, gaining recognition for the work he had done for the program over the years. Nebraska didn’t have Turner Gill on their short list because of his race, but because of his accomplishments in Buffalo.

Karl Dorrell has accomplished nothing, has a weak resume, and his name is still tossed around. He has interviewed with Duke, and it’ll be interesting to see if they will hire him. Duke’s football program is garbage, so they shouldn’t have high expectations of their next coach. It’ll also be interesting, if Duke doesn’t make the hire, to see who else comes calling, and if Dorrell will be coaching in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beware of Dog

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Can’t you just envision the upcoming blowout in New Orleans? Haven’t you read the numerous predictions circulating around the media? The Buckeyes have no chance in hell of winning this title game. They came from a weak conference, where the players move like slugs. They are facing another team from the football heaven we’ve come to know as the SEC, so consecutive embarrassments look probable. Haven’t you heard? I’m sure you have, unless you’ve hidden yourself away from the world, void of all media and chatter in the sports circuit. Ohio State will do more than lose on January 7th, they will get ROLLED.

Can’t you see it now, before it’s even played on the field? If you do, here are some things you should know, before you complete your picture of Les Miles raising the championship trophy.

This year’s Buckeyes share something in common with Texas, Florida, LSU, and their own OSU class of 2002. Those are 4 of your last five champions. Each of those champs went into the title game as the underdog, as the Buckeyes will this year. The only favorite to win since 2001 were the ’04 Trojans, who were 3 point favorites over Oklahoma.

Miami of ’02 was often called “the greatest team ever assembled”, featuring Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee, Kellen Winslow Jr., Frank Gore, Jonathan Vilma, Antrell Rolle, and Sean Taylor. That “greatest team” went down in an overtime mess to the Buckeyes. ’03 saw the favored Sooners fall to LSU. We skip ’04 and move to ’05, where Vince Young and the Horns defeated USC in their own backyard. And just last year, The Gators ended the Buckeyes’ perfect season in style, with a blowout victory. If it makes any of you LSU fans feel better, USC of 2004 is also the only team since '01 to be ranked atop the BCS standings and actually win the damn game. The Tigers go in as the BCS No. 2, which has been a great spot for many former champs, but look at what No. 2 has done this year. Look out!

It’s funny how we get a 2 loss LSU team in the championship game, and they become the heavy favorite to win. If you listen to the LSU supporters, they’ll chime in on Les Miles’ words, saying “we’re undefeated in regulation”. That’s a good excuse now? That excuse didn’t fly in 2003, when people were trying to breakdown the differences in LSU and USC, with USC’s only loss coming in triple overtime on the road, and LSU’s loss coming in regulation at home. Eh, new times, and new schemes of support. I can live with that. What I can’t live with is the making of the two victors over LSU to be college football juggernauts. Sure, Arkansas and Kentucky play in the SEC, but they’re not exactly top feeders. Remember way back when Kentucky had that great come from behind win over Louisville? Well, now that the regular season is over, I think we can all see that Louisville stinks. Anyone disagree?

Okay, I’ve strayed a little, but let’s get back on course. This is year number 10 of the BCS, and the underdog has posted a 6-3 record overall. Why can’t the Buckeyes make it 7-3? What gives this dog less of a bite than the others? Their schedule? Their conference? What? Huh? Is it because you can’t forget Florida taking Ohio State behind the woodshed last year? Is it because the SEC has never lost in the BCS championship game or the Buckeyes have never beaten an SEC opponent in a bowl game? There has to be something more that stands out, something that has so many convinced that the Buckeyes are about to get their scarlet and gray a$$es beat. What is that one thing? Can anyone even tell me?

How about this answer…because the media has you convinced that it’s going to happen.

Beware the Dog!

Silence Is Golden

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It’s no big secret that I’m not a fan of Cal wide receiver [B]Desean Jackson[/B]. Not that it’s always been that way, because when he was still in the process of choosing a school, I found myself hoping and praying he would pick USC. As time rolled on, and I gave it more thought, I felt he was a lock. He’s a kid from Long Beach, and his fellow alum often went on to clad themselves in the cardinal and gold. In my mind, I already had him on the Trojan Roster, but then the unthinkable happened. On national signing day, D snubbed USC and picked Cal instead. Cal? Are you serious? I would have rather he picked UCLA, instead of this newly hated enemy from the north. But I dealt with it, understood his decision to not play behind a Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, and left it at that.

But “the mouth” continued to resurface, and it should have been expected. After all, a nationwide audience received their first glimpse of his arrogance in the Army high school all American game, where he embarrassed himself with a showboat, attempting to do a flip, for no apparent reason, and coming up HALF A YARD short of the end zone.

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And it didn’t end there, because he continued to embarrass himself in front of Southern Cal fans, by appearing in the media or having his words in print, talking about the great performance he would have against USC. Those great performances never came. Last year, he entered the coliseum, jabbing and jawing, and felt it necessary to get into a screaming match with Trojan fans, before actually making a play on the field. That would have been the Desean Jackson memory of that game, if Cal was able to hang on to a halftime lead and actually win. But they didn’t, and the lasting memory became Jackson being laid out by Trojan, [B]Kevin Ellison,[/B] and the Bears eventually falling to defeat. I’ve since come to refer to this play as the “foot in mouth” hit.

Year three of the Jackson “No-Show” is now complete. Three years without seeing the end zone against the Trojans. Three years of lowlights and embarrassment. Three years later, and this early season Heisman favorite, dubbed by the media as “the most electrifying player in college football,” now sits silent, failing to make the All Pac 10 first team offense. Is it “electrifying” or shocking? No. Maybe it’s just karma.

I’m not hearing much from a guy named Jackson out of Berkeley these days.

Silence is Golden.