Thursday, July 31, 2008

Snoop Dogg jumps to another bandwagon?


If you ever wondered why Snoop Dogg was nowhere to be seen on the Trojan sidelines back in 2000, he just gave everyone the answer. The 2000 Trojans stank up the place, and he only rolls with a winner. The photo tells us our Dogg is a stray, and shows up wherever anyone will feed him. Apparently, the LSU Tigers fed his championship appetite enough to wear their jersey and attend their gathering. Who says Dogg’s are faithful, loyal, and true?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and judging by the reaction, the caption of the photo could easily be “Who the f*ck is that, and why is he on my stage”. But truthfully, Les Miles is a big Snoop Dogg fan (Who Knew?). My first thought was the Dogg must be high, but isn't that a given?

But I’ll let the West Coast rapper off the hook on this one, because I understand he did it for the kids. He could have done it just as easily wearing a Trojans jersey and doing it at Tulane, but he’ll get a pass, since he did give the Trojans a shout. Without the shout and reason behind his appearance, I was preparing my “No Doggs allowed” campaign...but it's all good.

Titans release Mike Williams


I’ve said it plenty times before, only to be wrong, but I’ll say it again. Mike Williams has appeared on his last NFL roster. If he finds another GM willing to give him a shot, it would surprise me. Although Mike was great at USC, he lacked development of personality and skills, when he dumped 2 years of college eligibility to fight the NFL and attempt to squeeze into the draft as a sophomore. Everything the NFL didn’t want in a wide receiver was found in Mike Williams. He was slow, had no hands, out of shape, and had a bad attitude. It’s remarkable that he was given this many chances, but not odd, when you consider all the coaches giving him a tryout after he left Detroit were linked to USC. Maybe the next stop can be Canada or coaching on a college sideline. He has the knowledge but not the skills and tools to succeed, so he can probably assist in the development of some younger talent.

Clueless…as if….

Matt Leinart admits he was clueless in camp last year, but I think his slump had already revealed that. Matt was clearly not the same quarterback that commanded the offense under Dennis Green. Ken Whisenhunt’s offense had a different look, and he appeared lost at the line. He claims he has a better perception this year, which will enable him to command the Cards offense again in '08. If the Arizona offensive line can block anyone, it would be pretty hard for any of their QBs to fail. The cards receiving corps is one of the best in the NFL, even with Boldin disgruntled about his contract.

Keary on…

Brandon Marshall is still facing a possible NFL suspension. If a suspension comes, Keary Colbert is in a great position to showcase his talent. Mike Shanahan has been singing Colbert praises, and the former Trojan may actually be a better fit with the Donks than he was in Carolina.

Smith down but not out….

Steve Smith is struggling with a groin injury in camp, but isn’t in any danger of sliding in position. Unlike earlier reports that Smith could be threatened by Mario Manningham, that no longer appears the case. Camp has been a struggle for Mario, as he struggles to find separation against defensive backs. One of those DBs is our own Terrell Thomas, who continues to perform well. Thomas locked down Manningham in the 2007 Rose Bowl, so why should it be a surprise in Giants camp.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The cost of a gallon of gas was 31 cents…


Thirty one cents gave you a full gallon of gasoline. Forty nine cents bought a gallon of milk. You could mail a letter with a four cent stamp. The average price of a new home was $16,500. Fifty seven cents would give you a dozen eggs. Eisenhower was the President, Nixon was a Vice President, and JFK was a Senator. Life expectancy was 69.7 years. Unemployment was at 5.5%. 3,500 American soldiers were sent to Vietnam.

Cassius Clay wins his first professional fight. Rome hosted the Summer Olympics. Wilt Chamberlain records 55 rebounds in a single game. Jim Kelly, John Elway, Marcus Allen, and Cal Ripken Jr. were newborns, as were Daryl Hannah, Valerie Bertinelli, and Howie Long. Ben Hur won the academy award for best picture. Charlton Heston was best actor. Shelly Winters was the best supporting actress.

Norm Van Brocklin was the NFL MVP, and his Philadelphia Eagles were NFL Champs. Navy’s Joe Bellino won the Heisman Trophy. Minnesota was the NCAA football champion. Roger Maris was the American League MVP, but Casey Stengel’s Yanks lost to the Pirates in the World Series. Duke played in the Cotton Bowl, and Southern California defeated Georgia 10-3.

What’s the significance of these events? The year was 1960, and that loss in Los Angeles marks the last time the Georgia Bulldogs played a regular season football game west of the Central time zone. They’ll be making their first regular season trip out west for the first time in 48 years, when they play Arizona State in the Valley of the Sun.

And just think, men have been to the moon and back.

L.A shakes, Sedrick Breaks, and Darnell aches


Everyone is pretty aware by now that the City of Los Angeles experienced a “mild” tremor. At a measurement of 5.4 on the Richter scale, that’s enough to shake you up, but not really enough to cause serious damage. All be it, the same 5.4 would cause death and destruction in some other parts of the world, because there are no requirements for construction or building standards, such as those imposed in L.A. For that, I’m thankful to my city.

What always gets me, when the shakings occur, is how much we stress preparation. You can prepare yourself for the aftermath, but honestly, any preparation for “what to do” during a quake is faulty. There really isn’t anything you can do. Doorways collapse, don’t they? You can’t go outside, because fallen power lines pose a danger. Is your dining room table really going to protect you from that falling ceiling? The only thing you can do is ride it out and hope for the best, from wherever you are. Chances are, after 2 quick steps in any direction, the quake is already over. Some items in the house may continue to sway, but trust me, the actual tremor is about 3 seconds and done.

Saint Ellis

Six days and 12 practices later, Sedrick Ellis ends his holdout and agrees to terms with the New Orleans Saints. He’s now schedule to attend his first training camp practice today.

According to sources, Ellis’ deal is worth $49 million, with $19.5 in guarantees. Ellis’ holdout marked the longest by a Saints rookie draft pick since Devery Henderson in 2004 and Deuce McAllister in 2001. Both held out for 7 days. New Orleans picked Ellis 7th overall in last April’s draft.

Jetting out of NY

The New York Jets released former Trojan Safety Darnell Bing. The Jets represented Bing’s third NFL team in his three years in the league.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- F#@k Sports, I’m going after Walmart


I don’t care what you did in the world of sports last week. You could have rushed the baseball mound, and then fired a 100 mph fastball into the stands that knocks a spectator on his ass, and I’m not touching it. It can be marijuana possession, DUI or domestic violence, and I wouldn’t give a sh*t. The court can give you a small $100 fine for putting a bag over your son’s head or the NFL refused to give a fine or suspension for you runnning someone over with your Lexus, and I won’t care. Well, at least not this week. I’ve got the world’s largest retailer in my crosshairs. This cheap labor having, overtime without payment implementing, undocumented worker hiring, racial profiling Mega-store’s ass is mine.

Let me take you to the beginning, so you know exactly how everything went down:

The Mission: We have an elderly gentleman and his wife that room with us for one week out of each month. That week is usually scheduled for doctor appointments and blood work, so they need the assistance getting him around. This elderly gentleman has several health problems, so he has many needs. On Friday, they needed someone to run to Walmart and pick up a package of adult diapers, so I volunteered, and the saga began.

Phase I: I arrive at the local Walmart, and entering the building, passing the so called “greeters”, which I really know are people more likely stationed to pay attention to those exiting the store than anyone entering, I received the fake “hello” and moved on to the pharmacy area.

Phase II: I’m standing in an aisle, viewing a variety of packages of adult diapers, and not seeing the one I was told to pick up. I get on my cell phone, make a call, and start explaining to the woman who sent me that they have everything but the package she requested (the empty space on the counter was probably where they were). I scanned the shelves maybe two or three times, wanting to be sure I hadn’t missed it, before I decided to leave.

Phase III: While I’m telling the woman that I’m now positive that they’re out, I hear a voice on the store’s public address system, and it was pretty damn loud. The voice said, “Security cameras, please scan the pharmacy area.” I then did a quick scan of the pharmacy area myself, and found that I was the only person in it.

Phase IV: Are you sh*tting me? Walmart pegged me for a thief, and of adult diapers, no less? Who was the f*cking genius in charge on that night? Obviously, whoever it was, came to a quick conclusion that I was someone that couldn’t hold my bladder, but damn sure had a pocket that could hold a package containing 50 adult diapers. Of all the products offered at Walmart, who the hell steals adult diapers? What exactly is the going rate on the streets for that hot item?..AND WHY AM I PROFILED AS AN ADULT DIAPER BANDIT?!?!?

Completion: I decided to let the a*shole follow me around the store, whoever the DOH’mer was that made the announcement. I got on my phone, struck up a conversation with a friend, and walked up and down every f*cking Walmart aisle. I stood in the “Women’s panties” section for at least 15 minutes, after which I then found the aisle containing tampons and panty shields. Hell...WHY NOT?!

I can now tell you every damn thing Walmart has to sell, and damn near give you all the prices. I eventually made my way back to the pharmacy, and being the smartass that I am, I pushed the button that signals that a customer needs assistance. Do you know it took more than 15 minutes for someone to show up to help me? What the f*ck were they doing, drawing straws, and the loser had to face me? A woman finally arrived (and she was probably the smallest person on staff, poor thing) and I asked about the next shipment of adult diapers. She said a truck arrives that night, but wasn’t sure about the inventory, and our conversation was done, along with my Walmart trip.

When I was younger, a couple of my best friends (one a blonde haired Mormon and the other a full blooded Irishman) would ask me to go to the store with them. The purpose being (believe it or not), so they could have me walk down an aisle and draw attention, while they stuffed their pockets with everything they needed. This was one of those times I wished they were available.

I’m sure Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are available, but why call a couple of DOH’mers to complain about another one? Can you feel me?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Football Factories: The Face Of The Franchise


One of the most recognizable names and faces on a football field is the quarterback. He is the field general, guiding his team from end to end with physical tools and mastery of a playbook. To lose your quarterback at any point in the season is often to lose all hope of a successful ending. NFL quarterbacks took a beating in 2007, and those without a capable replacement suffered the consequences. Each franchise will carry at least three, but where are the biggest names and largest numbers coming from? Where is the quarterback factory that strives on NFL supply and demand?

Pittsburgh Area High Schools

Terrelle Pryor was the most sought-after high school recruit in the nation, in 2007. He eventually committed his services to the Ohio State Buckeyes, and if he lives up to expectations, he will likely be remembered as a player from Ohio. But Pryor comes from a productive area for NFL quarterbacks, and one rich in legendary names.

Pittsburgh area high schools boast some of the greatest signal callers ever to play the game. This tiny spot on a larger map has been a Hall of Fame pipeline, giving us George Blanda, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly. Mark Bulger and Gus Frerotte are also Pittsburgh area products.

Pryor comes from a lineage, and the next step he takes will be for a community and city with high expectations. He bears the burden of carrying on a legacy, and inserting his smaller feet into bigger shoes, in hopes of watching them grow. More recognizable as a spread quarterback in high school, Pryor has chosen to develop in a conventional offense, which could possibly benefit him with a greater projection into the NFL.

The College Gridiron

The college game evolved from a variety of wishbones and options, but one conference appeared as a leader of change. The Pac 10 has always carried the reputation as a passing conference, with offenses presenting more of a professional scheme. This is the conference where Stanford coach Bill Walsh gave birth to the West Coast Offense. This is the breeding ground for NFL quarterbacks, and rarely does it disappoint in the production of new products.

While not all the names are big, some are Mega. John Elway, Jim Plunkett, and Troy Aikman piloted teams to Superbowl victories. Dan Fouts and Warren Moon piled statistics into NFL books. Pat Haden, Steve Bartkowski, Jake Plummer, Drew Bledsoe, Jay Schroeder, Rodney Peete, Tommy Maddox, and many others have come and gone. But just as quickly as they leave the game, new faces replace them. Pac 10 quarterbacks currently appearing on NFL rosters include (unsigned rookies omitted):

Carson Palmer- USC
Derek Anderson- Oregon State
Kyle Boller- Cal
Matt Cassel- USC
Kellen Clemens- Oregon
Trent Edwards- Stanford
Dennis Dixon- Oregon
Andrew Walter- Arizona State
Marcus Tuiasasopo- Washington
Isaiah Stanback (converted WR)- Washington
Aaron Rodgers- Cal
John David Booty- USC
Matt Moore- Oregon State
Matt Leinart- USC
Alex Brink- Washington State
Damon Huard- Washington
Joey Harrington- Oregon

From 1997 to 2007, 40 quarterbacks were drafted from the Pac 10, which is more than any other conference. With the exception of ’94, a Pac 10 quarterback has been selected in every draft since 1977. At least 2 were taken in 21 drafts. At least 3 were taken in 10.

2008 Outlook

In terms of big names and statistical expectations, the Big 12 currently has more high profile quarterback names than any other. But in terms of pro prospects, Chase Daniel, Todd Reesing, and Graham Harrell are not playing in traditional pro style offenses. That leaves Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, who is but a sophomore. It’s the physical tools, and knowledge of a pro style offense that gives a greater NFL projection. It has absolutely nothing to do with collegiate statistics, as exemplified in the mid to late round selections of Troy Smith, Chris Leak, and Colt Brennan, with further proof provided in the undrafted Heisman trophy winning Jason White.

The Pittsburgh area high schools, along with the Pacific 10 conference, have proven over the years to be NFL quarterback factories. The only question remaining would be...Who's Next?

Valdosta Georgia is Title Town….NO LIE!


I guess it would be shocking to hear ESPN’s announcement of the “Title Town” winner, and then recognize that Valdosta Georgia has no professional sports franchise, and no Division I collegiate athletics. It would also be surprising that Los Angeles didn’t even appear in the top five. But If you really examine the final result, you can see why this small town finished on top.

One thing about the South, they fully support their products. SEC football is a perfect example, but those game results aren’t based on fan votes. If you want to take a good look at fan voting, champions, and something that may not stand out as much, just look at “American Idol”.

On one of America’s highest rated programs, judges pick contestants, but fan votes eliminate and advance them, until a champion is crowned. If you look at the Idol winners and runners up, the Southern vote is well represented:

Season 1
Kelly Clarkson-Texas
Justin Guarini- Pennyslyvania

Season 2
Ruben Studdard- Alabama
Clay Aiken- North Carolina

Season 3
Fantasia Barrino- North Carolina
Diana DeGarmo- Georgia

Season 4
Carrie Underwood- Oklahoma
Bo Bice- Alabama

Season 5
Taylor Hicks- Alabama
Katharine McPhee- California

Season 6
Jordin Sparks- Arizona
Blake Lewis- Washington

Season 7
David Cook- Missouri
David Archuleta- Utah

They have some voting Mo’ Fo’s in the Southern part of the U.S. So when I see, Valdosta Georgia as "Title Town U.S.A.", all I can say is…..Why not?

Mike Mayock Is A Pud


There’s nothing more irritating than networks that suddenly want to jump on the college football bandwagon and select just about anyone to give an analysis. In their rush to cash in on a hot commodity, they’ll select a panel of “experts” to breakdown teams, games, and conferences. But much too often, you get a group that may have expertise in one area, but college football isn’t one of them. Fox was guilty of this the past two seasons, latching on to the BCS rights and giving us a group of people that said a whole lot without saying anything at all. The NFL Network is now making that same push, attempting to put more emphasis on college football, and one member of their panel is already under my skin.

Mike Mayock is an NFL draft guru (supposedly), but I recently caught him in a discussion about Pac 10 football and Arizona State. In talking about the Sun Devils’ upcoming game against Georgia, the panel gave reasons why ASU may win or lose. With Mayock, the answer was short and simple, “SEC, spank”, even using hand gestures to act out the prediction. I can think of plenty of reasons the Sun Devils could possibly lose that game, beginning with the poor play of their offensive line in 2007, and an outlook that looks to be the same. But when someone gives one reason, and that reason being that the opponent is from the SEC, that burns me.

I’ve never claimed to be an expert on college football, but I at least attempt to support my assumptions with facts. To believe Mayock’s assertion that SEC vs. Pac 10 equates to a spanking, you would think the Southeastern Conference was 15-0 in head-to-head matchups against the Pac in this BCS era. They are not. Maybe Mayock should realize the Pac actually leads in the series by a count of 9-6. Where’s my spanking?

LSU spanked Arizona (as many teams did), Auburn spanked Washington State (as many teams did), and Cal was spanked by Tennessee in 2006. But Cal managed to return the favor in 2007, when they hosted the Vols. In fact, with Tennessee and Arkansas each reaching the SEC championship game over the past 2 seasons, what they both have in common is getting spanked by Pac 10 programs to start their year (Cal and USC).

Arkansas was spanked twice. Auburn was shutout in Jordan-Hare. UCLA dumped Bama twice. In two games against the SEC, Oregon hasn’t lost. Where’s my spanking? Remember what happened when LSU played a team not at the bottom of the Pac? They won the games, but they didn’t exactly have an easy time doing it. In 2006, they had to come from behind to edge the Sun Devils in Tempe. In 2004, Alexis Serna misses 3 PATs, and the Tigers escape the Beavers 22-21 in Baton Rouge. This was the follow up to LSU’s 2003 championship season. Where’s the spanking?

If Mike Mayock wanted to give a more positive reason for Georgia’s probable beating of Arizona State, the answer is simple. Georgia has a damn good football team. The conference name doesn’t make the program, otherwise Vanderbilt would be world beaters. It’s the roster, experience, and coaching. The Bulldogs have the ability to spank many teams, but it’s because they are Georgia, and not because they are SEC. The media can continue to doubt the Pac and cast them in a lesser light than their SEC opponents. But the truth is, they have no numbers to support their claims. Those snake oil salesmen can sell their product to the rest of the country, but it's not selling on the left coast.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trouble Bruin In Westwood


No, the Bruin football team didn’t go over the wall again to leave Coach Neuheisel standing in embarrassment. But the new coach still has his hands full in this first year of “the turnaround”, which is geared towards lifting the program back to a level of national prominence and significance. His quarterbacks are banged up, the media still votes his program as the ugly step-sister of USC, and players are leaving the field, only this time not voluntarily.

In preparation for a big out of conference contest with Tennessee, Neuheisel was forced to suspend starting Safety Bret Lockett for that opening game. UCLA takes on a Volunteers team that gives up very few sacks, and they will do it with only one returning starter in the secondary. Academics also claimed another Bruin, as Tailback Christian Ramirez is academically ineligible for the 2008 season.

During last week’s Pac 10 media day, Rick Neuheisel referred to the Trojans as the “Elephant in your living room”. He went on to say, “You can’t be the head coach of UCLA and not find a way to compete successfully with USC”. And he finished it off, without an “if”, but with a “when”.

“But the good news is when we catch them, and I say when…”

I guess those words are necessary for player motivation and from a recruiting stance, but barring a complete collapse of the USC program, that “when” doesn’t appear to be anywhere in the near future. “When” you win the recruiting wars, that “when” may appear much closer. But as it stands today, USC is still a choice program of the nation’s top high school recruits. An important step towards advancement would be a victory over Tennessee. Lose that game, and lose it badly, and you are moved to the back of the recruiting line. But win that game, in front of a national audience, and UCLA could find their name on the short list of some top prospects. You can record a victory against an SEC opponent, and the media will launch you dramatically in the rankings, regardless of whether or not that Southern opponent was actually good. That's just the way it is in this media controlled world of bias.

Campbell and the Army’s football fumble


A teary eyed Caleb Campbell was forced to pack his bags and leave the Lions training camp. He was to report immediately to active military service. The announcement came just two days after the talented linebacker had agreed to contract terms with Detroit. And although I feel the U.S Army made a fair and righteous decision, the entire handling of the situation was poor.

This was an example of military intelligence, but no common sense. As I spotlighted in a May blog entry, the proper decision (based on fairness) was obvious from the beginning. But there was a fumble, and with each day that passed, there was no doubt that the end to the growing controversy would end without winners. It didn’t have to be this way, but it appeared that the Army was more willing to pin their hopes of righting this ship on a West Point linebacker failing in the NFL. Campbell had yet to fail. And suddenly, months too late, the plug was pulled.

The Army’s policy on soldiers and professional athletics was well in place before the 2007 season ever ended. It was in place, when NFL scouts sent an invitation for Campbell to attend the scouting combine in Indianapolis. It was in place, when the Detroit Lions selected Campbell in April’s 7th round. It was in place, as they allowed him to attend OTA’s, and as contract negotiations began. There was plenty of time to act, but the Army refused. Instead, they allowed a young man to take steps towards his dream, only to pull the rug from beneath him.

It isn’t that Campbell was trying to avoid his military service. He’s not a deserter, so don't confuse him with one. If the Army gave the call to combat in April, he would have grabbed his weapon and knowledge and hit the battlefield. This is about the Army telling him he didn’t have to serve immediately, and providing another option. This is about the Army allowing him to attend the combine, prepare for a professional football draft, and sending him off to represent the military as a Detroit Lion. The Army’s approval sent him reaching for goals and setting sights on dreams, only to shorten his arms, shatter the images, and leave everything just short of completion.

And even with the emotional roller coaster Campbell has been on, the Army still doesn’t have it right. As Profootballtalk reports, Campbell will return to West Point to be a Linebackers coach for the Army football team. How does that address the issue of fairness? Yes, he’s now honoring his active service duty, but it’s still not the hostilities some of his classmates will face. The message of “the better the player, the safer the haven” still exists. Doesn’t it? The Army supposedly got the monkey off their backs, but all they did was move a soldier from one American football field to another, and with the only reason being that he’s an exceptional athletic talent in comparison to other cadets.

You can try to disguise it anyway you want, but the Army still didn’t get it right, and the Caleb Campbell controversy ends with losers on all sides......That's if it even ended, at all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fred Davis is NFL ready


Observing the Washington Redskins training camp, SI’s Peter King notes that tight end, Fred Davis, can play in the NFL “right now”. That was the assumption of many NFL scouts before the NFL combine, but with Davis measuring smaller than his listed numbers at USC, his stock dropped him from mid first round and into the second. The scouting opinions may have given the Skins a steal, as Davis’ skill package could eventually make him greater than his second round projection.

A native of Ohio, and ranked as the second best high school receiving prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Davis snubbed his local Buckeyes and attended USC. Just as quickly as he arrived, he was converted to a Tight End in Norm Chow’s offensive scheme. Though he saw the field sparingly, he was a member of the Trojans 2004 National Championship team.

By his senior year, Davis became the premiere target for John David Booty. With the departures of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, Davis (unbeknownst to most) led the 2007 Trojans in receiving. His senior year marked the arrival, and he inserted himself as one of the greatest offensive weapons in college football and a potential Sunday star.

Following April’s draft, the Washington Redskins find themselves with a collection of some of the best offensive skill players in the game, if they all live up to their potential. Davis can see action on the field, with he and Chris Cooley in the same sets. Michigan State’s Devon Thomas, and Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly represent targets out wide, with Clinton Portis laying the ground work. Jason Campbell is wowing with accuracy in camp, as he welcomes Jim Zorn and the West Coast Offense, the exact system he quarterbacked in his senior year at Auburn.

The NFC West may be the strongest conference in the NFL. Two of the best defensive secondaries may belong to the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins have a good secondary unit of their own, but the key to success will be dependent on the new offensive system and the addition of young playmakers. Steve Smith made big contributions during the Giants Superbowl run. And now, Fred Davis will be looking to do the same in Washington.

Fight On!

Dirty Birds Ink Sam Baker

The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with Sam Baker. Details are undisclosed, but should be in the neighborhood of 5 years and $10 million dollars. Baker was a three time All American selection as an offensive tackle at USC. The dirty birds traded with the Washington Redskins to move up in the draft and select Baker with the 21st pick of the first round. He’s now free to attend camp, which begins today, and will battle for a starting position on an Atlanta offensive line that was very poor in 2007.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Off Topic: Javon Walker says we don’t know sh*t


If you talk to the Raiders’ Javon Walker about the incident in Vegas that left him with a fractured orbital bone, he’ll tell you he has no clue what you’re talking about. According to Walker, we’ve all been misinformed.

"Ya'll telling me something new for the first time," Walker said. "... I haven't really seen nothing about it. I just let everybody go into speculations of what they heard and what they think they know, to when I get ready to come out and tell what really happened, I'll clear it up then."

He then went on to blame the media for casting him in a bad light:

"I'm not afraid of the spotlight, the spotlight is always good depending on how you look at it," he said "People that already got a different spotlight of me is based on really what I've done in football. But if people want a real respect of light of me, just tell them to go look at my record. I don't have a record. I don't have a rap sheet.

"You don't hear about Javon Walker getting arrested. People's light of me is like, hmm, he just leaves different teams because he's not happy. Well, like any other American, that's my right if I don't like a job. That's people's perspective of me. But, outside the field, I mean, you talk to people anywhere around this country, they say I'm the nicest person off the field."

So he didn’t get mugged, and receive a fractured orbital bone as a result. That was just the media casting him in a bad light, despite the reports confirmed by the Las Vegas police department. It also correlates with reports from the Oakland Raiders, about the health and return of their new receiver. But Walker has never heard any of this stuff, because he’s planning to eventually come with the glorified truth, as we tend to do when embarrasssed.

You know what I’m talking about. Instead of Walker’s dumb ass splashing champagne and flaunting his jewelry at a Vegas party, then willingly entering the vehicle of his muggers, it will likely be more exaggerated in his favor. When walker tells his story, it will probably be 20 men dragging him from his sleep, after a tiring day at church. He was picked for his clean image, and his assailants wanted to make an example of him. After fighting off 18 of his attackers, by himself, fatigue set in, and the two remaining got the upper hand. By the end of the story, there will probably be some type of Al-Queda involvement, and he security of the free world at stake.

I’ll be waiting for this one.

Lo’Jack Locked in for 5 years


Lawrence Jackson has agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks on a 5 year deal. There are no specifics to the contract, as it is still being formalized. But Jackson is on the field for the Hawks, assuring the deal is in the final stages. It appears to be a deal worth $11.5 million, with half the total in guarantees. The Seahawks made Jackson their first pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

Sedrick Ellis remains the only unsigned Saints rookie. The word out of New Orleans appears to be that contract talks have stalled. If the Saints can come to an agreement with their first round pick and get him into camp, with offseason moves (including the latest acquisition of Jeremy Shockey), they can pose a serious threat in the NFC.

Sam Baker also remains unsigned by the Atlanta Falcons, but negations are ongoing, and an announcement may come soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain or Obama? Can a Song Girl swing my vote?


America will eventually have to choose a new leader of the free world, and the winner will either be Barack Obama or John McCain. But how do you decide on a candidate, since the majority of politicians are all talk, anyway? What if you had the two men in a dead heat? Is there anything that could swing your vote in one direction or another? How about a song girl or cheerleader?

Before Cindy Lou Hensley became the wife of John McCain, she was a USC co-ed. She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, but was she a song girl, as some sources have alleged? A couple of weeks ago, when the L.A Times ran an article about McCain joking and taking shots at his wife by calling USC the “University of Spoiled Children”, they also referenced Cindy as a cheerleader, as does Wikipedia, which is obviously incorrect.

USC had Song girls and cheerleaders, and the difference in the two is the same difference as penis and vagina. Cheerleaders were male, and Song girls are female, and I don't have access of Cindy to give her the "Crocodile Dundee" test. The confusion is understood, because the rah rah babes are often incorrectly labeled as cheerleaders. But what about the Song girl issue? Was she or wasn’t she a member of the squad? I haven’t seen any factual support for it. Two days ago, Trojanwire ran an article, with photo included, stating that the pictured song girl was Cindy Lou Hensley. But just as quickly as the article appeared, it disappeared. I take that as either (a)the photograph was a misrepresentation, (b) someone asked that it be removed, or (c) my dumb ass can’t find the article again, but it’s actually there. Seeing that so many sources are reporting about “Song Girl” McCain, but none are supplying photos, it leaves me to wonder if it’s all speculation. Cindy is a gorgeous woman, so why would she hide her Song girl pics?

But back to the opening question, about a Song girl (allegedly) swaying my vote. My answer is no, because I have no vote. And no, I’m not a minor, and I’m not blogging from a correctional facility. I’m not a U.S Citizen, so I have no choice in America’s leadership. But If I were able to vote, I would cast mine for Obama. That would leave half the readers wishing I did have a say, and the other half glad that I don’t.

Surprise! Trojans picked to win the Pac 10


In the annual occurrence, a group of West Coast media members submitted their ballots, and USC was nearly the unanimous choice to win the Pac 10 conference in 2008. The Trojans received 38 of the possible 39 first place votes. The lone first place vote not received went to Cal. The media projected finishing order looks like this:

1.USC (38) 389
2.Arizona State 330
3.Oregon 295
4.Cal (1) 274
5.UCLA 204
6.Oregon State 192
7.Arizona 185
8.Washington 139
9.Stanford 76
10.Washington State 61

*numbers reflect points accumulated. Numbers in parenthesis refer to first place votes.

Their projected finish would also bring the assumption that Arizona and Washington may be conducting a coaching search in 2009, because I don’t believe a 7th and 8th place finish can save the jobs of Tyrone Wiilingham and Mike Stoops.

HURLERS

I caught Pete Carroll as a guest on ESPN’s “college football live”. He talked about his quarterback position, and I took his words to mean Sanchez has no lock on the starting job, which is typical of Pete Carroll teams. There is no pecking order, and you have to secure your starting role with each game and practice. He said Sanchez is the most experienced of his QBs, already two years into the Trojan System, and having the luxury of watching it as a local high school player. Carroll says the biggest concern for Sanchez should be how quickly Mustain and Corp may catch up to him.

STABLE

Joe McKnight has put on another 20 pounds, which is the same as Bush did in his sophomore year. Offseason lifting and conditioning adds muscle, creating a more durable back. The Trojans should go into the opening game against Virginia with their 3 more productive running backs from 2007 healthy. Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson, and C.J. Gable combined for an average of 6 yards per carry. If the rebuilt offensive line can mesh, the Trojans should be off and running in 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bold prediction by a Golden Domer


Cierre Wood won’t play a down for Notre Dame until he graduates High School in 2009, but that didn’t stop him from making predictions. Ranked as the top running back prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, Wood has high expectations for the Fighting Irish. Charlie Weis made a bold prediction earlier this year, by announcing that the Dame would win at least 9 games in the upcoming season. As Kevin Garnett says, “Anything is possible”. That may be true, but everything isn't probable. Wood went one step above Weis’ "probability", and gave a future prediction about USC.

“We are going to be good, and Notre Dame will be back. And I guarantee we will beat USC the next three years.”

Beat USC, the next three years? Where does his count begin? In 2008, before his arrival? Why the odd Nostradamus type number? You have 4 years college eligibility, so in which of your years are you predicting defeat? I think Cierre should have started with predictions about the service academies, and then worked his way up to the big boys. Plus, we all know how those high school formulas go. You join a program, win the Heisman, break every collegiate record, and win the national championship every year, without ever losing a game. At least that's how I remember them.

For anyone keeping count, which I certainly am, The Trojans have won the last six against the Irish. I realize that at some point it has to come to an end, but with the way recruiting has gone, I can’t even imagine 3 consecutive losses to the Domers. Yes, anything is possible. But evaluating and comparing the next three years of talent, it’s highly improbable. USC is not on probation, as they were in the 80s.

The current streak of six marks the longest against Notre Dame, since the series began in 1926. Notre Dame enjoyed a streak of 13 consecutive games without a loss to USC, from 1983-1995, playing to a tie in ’94.

How much does it cost for a little Booty?


From the moment John David Booty grabbed the reins of the Trojan offense, some began to question his worth. I was probably one of his biggest critics, feeling he was wrongly grouped with Palmer and Leinart, before ever taking the field. Booty never achieved the same awards or numbers as the two USC quarterbacks before him. And following the pattern, his first year NFL salary will fall short as well.

Though the full details of his new contract with the Minnesota Vikings are not available, Booty received the standard base contract of $295,000, which would escalate to $555,000 in the final year. He also received a signing bonus of $205,000. Those are nice figures for the average man, such as I, but a drop in the bucket in comparison to the millions of dollars in guaranteed money received by first round selections Palmer and Leinart.

Despite the difference in money, Booty actually finds himself in a great position with Minnesota. The offense being run by coach Brad Childress is geared towards a quarterback like J.D. His strength is the short passing game, making him the prototype player for the West Coast Offense. Where arm strength is the staple for some quarterbacks, for Booty it’s his laser accuracy that moves the sticks. Tavaris Jackson isn’t guaranteed the starting position, though he may take the field on opening day. But if his struggles continue, I doubt the Vikings would hesitate to make a change, after allowing Jackson more than enough time to make the position his own. If a quarterback battle ensues, I really like Booty’s chances.

DOH-mer Of The Week- And people are sh**ting on Emmitt?


Once again, we’ll grace the halls of a sports media giant. It’s the return to the scene of a crime, again, and again….and again. It’s not by accident that ESPN often lands in the DOH-mer crosshairs. The odds are in their favor. To find a DOH-mer, I have to go through the media, so it’s very likely that I’ll find one on staff, and I did. Actually, I found a few in the past week, and honestly couldn't say which stood out more. In their honor, we'll have a group hug.

Although the network had a brain fart, by allowing Nelly (of Hip Hop fame) to sit in as a guest analyst on “First and ten”, “cold pizza” or “whatever the hell you want to name the show next week”, it was somewhat hilarious to see a rapper give the more supportive argument of points, and actual win debates, against Skip Bayless. But then again, it’s Skip f*cking Bayless. Is that really an incredible feat? I guess it’s not an oddity to have celebrity guest appearances, since Jim Rome has Roger Lodge as a regular on his “sports” panel, which I always viewed as a "friendship hiring". What else can it possibly be?

Rodger Lodge once had a sports radio gig, but seriously, I see the man and think of him hosting “blind date”. Roger shouldn’t give me an analysis on which team is the best fit for Brett Favre. He should be telling me who Favre should be porking on a one night stand. Let the others on the panel talk about sports, and have Lodge chime in when the conversation shifts to Romo and Simpson, A-Rod and Madonna, or Bush and Kardashian. What’s next? Bob Barker’s ESPN early mock draft? Pfft!

I'm also not liking the female that will sometimes sit in for Jim Rome, while he's vacationing, which he does often. I don't know her name, and won't question her sports knowledge. But when you have a show called "Jim Rome is burning", at least try to appear a little angry, as you go through the list of topics to be "burning" on.

Speaking of baseball, sorta…but kinda not. I watched all the events from last week’s All Star festival. The events were carried by “Baseball Tonight” and their crew, which brings me to Emmitt Smith. Why is everyone always sh**ting on Emmitt, and criticizing his broadcast skills? Do these people not watch Baseball tonight?! In comparison to Eric Young, Emmit Smith is the Al Michaels or Joe Buck of ESPN analysts. Eric Young is probably a great guy, and I have nothing against him, but not everyone was made for television and radio. Just because you have a degree in communications, doesn’t mean you can communicate. Athletes mostly choose communication as their college majors, because it’s the easiest, aside from basket weaving. And I’m only guessing that Young has that major, so don’t quote me on that. Either way, Eric is giving us a few doses of:

Wit a bunt like dat, he gots to get to da bag.

When da ball leave his bat, he already be knowin’ it gone.

Dats what I’m talkin’ bout. You gots to know yo catcher.

It’s not what he says, because he makes a lot of sense. It’s just how he says it, and the tiny voice projecting it. I sometimes speak with broken English, but I could never sit in a studio, in front of a camera, speak like that, and call myself a professional. I couldn’t even find video of him speaking on the show, so I had to revert to the little guy's playing days, and him introducing himself and handing a young girl an autographed bat:



Y’all leave Emmitt alone! Anyone highly critical of the man obviously doesn't watch "Baseball Tonight", and only watches the NFL specific programming on ESPN. Turn it on one night, and see for yourselves what I'm talking about.

With another DOH-mer (and more criticism of ESPN), I think I can say, with some certainty, that I’ve shattered every dream of ever working for the network.

Oh well. Is Fox Sports hiring?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Retro: The Buc stopped there but started here


With the first overall pick in the 1977 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Ricky Bell. He became a member of a second year expansion team that had yet to win a game, losing all 14 in their first year. It was the shocking pick, considering he went before Tony Dorsett, the 1976 Heisman winner from Pittsburgh. Bell placed second to Dorsett in the Heisman balloting. But it wasn’t surprising, if you consider the Tampa coaching staff. John Mckay was the first head coach in Buccaneers history, and coached Ricky Bell for 3 years at USC, before ever accepting the NFL position. Bell and Mckay would go on to lose another 12 games, before Tampa ever won their first.


As a USC freshman, Ricky Bell played linebacker. He was eventually moved to fullback, spending a year blocking for Anthony Davis. By his junior year, he was a feature back, leading the nation in rushing, with 1,875 yards. In his senior campaign, he established a USC single game rushing record, with 347 yards against Washington State. The Heisman Trophy would have been the icing on the cake, if not for Dorsett's remarkable season performance.

Ricky played 4 seasons with the Bucs, showing his best in 1979, as Tampa achieved their first winning season. He led Tampa to their first franchise playoff victory, by romping over the Philadelphia Eagles for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Bucs eventually fell to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC championship game.

In 1984, The Trojans lost a member of the family, as the 29 year old Ricky Bell died of cardiac arrest, caused by dermatomyositis, a rare skin and muscle disease. Forever remembered, and forever a Trojan, Ricky Bell was inducted into the college football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Stats

*Heisman Runner up in 1976
*Third on the Heisman ballot in 1975
*347 rushing yards remains the current USC single game record
*Best NFL season-1979 (1,263 yards)
*College Football Hall of Fame (class of 2004)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The ink is flowing as Trojans find new homes


On Monday, the Giants locked up Trojan cornerback Terrell Thomas with a new contract. He joins Thomas Williams, Fred Davis and Chilo Rachal, who were signed by the Jags, Redskins and Niners last week. That leaves the first round selections, Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Sam Baker, and Lawrence Jackson with contracts still pending.

Rachal made good on his early entry into the NFL. Although it was premature, I could never question a decision based on medical needs for a family, and no method of payment for procedures. Thomas Williams, though he saw the field sparingly, joins Chauncey Washington in Jacksonville, and is likely to spend most of his rookie year as a member of the special teams unit. The Giants experimented with Terrell Thomas as a safety in OTA’s, but were very impressed with his coverage skills at his cornerback position. Fred Davis becomes a piece to Jim Zorn’s West Coast Offense in D.C, and hopefully he uses some of his money to purchase a new alarm clock.

First round signings don’t come as quickly, as there is a severe drop off in the amount of guaranteed money from rounds one and two. First round agents also wait to see the trickle down effect, to better evaluate their asking price. Ellis’ money may be influenced by Dorsey’s signing, plus we’ve never gone a season without first round hold outs. Rumor has it that Ellis may be one of those in 2008.

Why give two cents, when Carson Palmer has a dollar?


It’s absolutely hilarious that Buckeyes fans are flying off the hinges because of statements made by Carson Palmer. Reading some of their message boards or viewing comments to posted articles, “those people” are ready to run the quarterback out of town. If anything, it feeds into everything Palmer said, regarding the Buckeyes’ feeling of superiority. How can you say he's wrong, when everything you're posting makes him right? I won't generalize and say "all" Buckeyes fans are doing this. But for the few, they really aren't helping their case.

Here is what all the hoopla is about:

"It's amazing to hear what those guys think about that university and what they think about that football program and Tressel and all the crap I gotta put up with being back there.

I just can't wait for two years from now when SC comes to the 'Shoe and hopefully we'll have a home game that weekend and I can go up there and watch us pound on them in their own turf

I'm really getting sick of it and I just can't wait for this game to get here so they can come out to the Coliseum and experience LA and get an old-fashioned Pac-10 butt-whoopin' and go back to the Big Ten."


and following Palmer's statements, here are some responses by some imbeciles from the Buckeyes nation:

Those people! Those people! A hope a Buckeye fan hits him in the head with a horseshoe. If he wants to talk about arrogant fans, he should look to his own house. USC may have some of the most annoying fans in sports. The sense of entitlement and inability to accept that they didn’t “three-peat” or even “two-peat” is disgusting.

---

You go to hell Carson Palmer, Why don’t you play for the Raiders, you are not that good anyway. Get the hell out of Ohio, Jerk.

Go Bucks…

---

Thank you, Carson Palmer! You’ve given me yet another reason to hate both USC and the Bengals in one sound byte. If I were you, I wouldn’t be planning that trip to Canton for your induction into the Pro Footbal Hall of Fame just yet. And if you’re planning a trip to the Shoe for next year’s game, if I were you after those statements, I’d plan on wearing a disguise. Of course, it might be tough to find a mask that would fit over your enlarged head and swollen ego. You mught want to do something with your NFL career before you say anything about Buckeye fans and tOSU football in general. You might not like the Buckeye Nation, but we’re not too thrilled about having a Trojab douchebag like you spewing your hate for the state that’s paying your vastly over-inflated salary either. Try winning some games before you mouth off.

GO BUCKS! GO BROWNS! GO ANYONE PLAYING THE BENGALS!

---

Carson, win pretty boy. I don’t believe you are tough enough to play in the state of OHIO! The Browns are going to kick the ever loving SH_T out of you this season. Go cry me a river you Cali fag!

---


People are that worked up about Palmer's comments? That’s one of the more mild statements I’ve seen about the Buckeyes in the past 2 years. He didn’t call them the Buffalo Bills of college football, as others in the country have tagged them. He didn’t reveal the “O and Nine” logo, as the folks down in the SEC have created. What I see is false praise. And when I say false, you have to understand where Palmer comes from.

Palmer is a Trojan, but he wasn’t a member of any National Championship teams. He played for a Trojan team that finished last in 2000, before finally having a glimpse of greatness in 2002. Glimpse is the key word in the city of Los Angeles. It’s all or nothing, and you get no hero's parade for a second place finish. Just ask UCLA about their recent homecomings, after final four failures. To not live up to the expectations in this City of Angels, is throwing yourself at the mercy of the local press. I can’t say I’d ever spent enough time in Ohio to witness the treatment by the media, but it appears (from Palmer’s stance), greatness is preached, regardless of accomplishments, if the fan base is basking in a sense of superiority after back to back BCS championship game losses.


In 2007, with the Trojans struggling early, and before their loss to Stanford, L.A Times staff writer, Bill Plaschke, declared the Trojans a bad team. He didn’t stop there, because he went on to say they weren’t the best team in the Pac 10, wouldn’t win the conference, and gave a list of opponents they would lose to. In L.A, we didn’t run Plaschke out of town, we laughed and sent him to cover the Trojans at the Rose bowl. If L.A had an NFL franchise, and let’s say Troy Smith was the quarterback and making those same statements, the most he would get is packages of Trojan gear arriving by way of FedEx.

Down in Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio and Maurice Jones Drew can get into some trash talk before the USC/UCLA game, and laugh it off when a winner is declared. Willie McGinest and Brady Quinn smack each other before the Notre Dame/USC games, with no harm and no foul. But it seems that THE Ohio State University, in their highness, can’t handle a single negative word against the program. No need to run the QB out of town. You want to shut him up? Have the Buckeyes win that game on September 13th. Lose that game, and Palmer will give you a whole lot more to be angry about.

And of course, ESPN is deep in the middle of this, nearly instigating. But why wouldn't they be? Ohio State vs. USC on September 13th is an ESPN/ABC production. Carson Palmer just assisted in the selling of the hype for their product.

Fight On!

Football Factories: The Jackrabbits of Long Beach Poly


With Snoop Dogg and Cameron Diaz being among the alumni of Long Beach Polytechnic High School, they are known for their production of celebrities. But there is one particular product that places them on a list above all others, and that is NFL talent. The Jackrabbits, a Southern California high school powerhouse, recently won their 17th Southern section title. The players on the roster will eventually filter into college programs, before jumping to the NFL to add to Poly's claim of the national leader board.

In April, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Cal’s Desean Jackson in the second round of the NFL draft. In doing so, Jackson became the 17th Jackrabbit drafted in the past 20 years, adding to their numbers and legacy, as the top NFL football factory among America’s high schools. In a 20 year period, Poly has produced more NFL talent than any other high school in America. And as a high school, they have also produced more than the division I Duke college football program. With the Eagles, Jackson joins other Poly graduates on the roster, in Winston Justice and Pago Togafau.

A list of notable NFL players from Long Beach Poly would include:

Carl Weathers- Oakland Raiders
Mark Carrier- Chicago Bears
Darnell Bing- NY Jets
Marcedes Lewis- Jacksonville Jaguars
Manuel Wright- NY Giants
Winston Justice- Philadelphia Eagles
Samie Parker- Denver Broncos
Willie McGinest- Cleveland Browns
Omar Stoutmire- NY Giants
Gene Washington- San Francisco 49ers
Tony Hill- Dallas Cowboys
Stephone Paige- Kansas City Chiefs
Leonard Russell- New England Patriots
Marquez Pope- San Francisco 49ers
Larry Croom- Pittsburgh Steelers
Pago Togafau- Philadelphia Eagles
DeSean Jackson- Philadelphia Eagles
Hercules Satele- Arizona Cardinals
Don Sasa- San Diego Chargers

Sunday, July 20, 2008

‘Don’t mess with Texas’, but unfortunately, I must


The University of Texas’ athletic department has agreed to retiring the jerseys and numbers of former Longhorn players. As of today, the Horns have only four jerseys retired, and they belong to Heisman winners Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell, baseball’s Roger Clemens, and hoops star T.J Ford.

In a ceremony planned for the 2008-2009 season, the number “10” will officially be retired, in honor of the achievements of Vince Young. What better way to honor a man that lifted Texas to their first National Championship in 35 years, and giving a “refuse to lose” performance in the BCS championship game to do it? For that decision, I can’t mess with Texas, because that one is a no-brainer. But there is one player number, among the 9 chosen for this year’s retirement, and it makes absolutely no sense.

Back in March, I severely criticized the University of North Carolina for their announcement of the retiring of Tyler Hansbrough’s jersey. I personally felt his collegiate achievements were dwarfed by other retirees. But Texas now makes the Hansbrough announcement appear more proper, by announcing that they will retire the jersey on Kevin Durant.

As a freshman, Durant received the college player of the year award. He was also the first freshman to receive the Rupp and Robertson trophies, but the accolades end there. Kevin Durant only played one season for Texas. In his one season, the Horns finished 3rd in the Big 12, became the runner up in the Big 12 conference tournament, and were bounced in the second round of the NCAA tournament by USC. So, tell me, why all the fuss over Kevin Durant?

The Longhorns had more success before, and after, Kevin Durant. They recorded a 30 win season in 2005-06, and reached the elite eight of March Madness. The most recent 2007-08 season showed the post Durant Longhorns again reaching the round of 8 teams in the tournament. The one season tour of Kevin Durant in Texas shows his team sandwiched between more successful units, so I'm having a hard time finding logic to support jersey retirement.

There are only two reasons possible for Texas to make this decision. First, they are desperate for basketball heroes, as Durant would mark only the second to be retired. Or secondly, they’re sending a recruiting message to future “one and done” players, saying you only need a single season stay to become a legend of burnt orange.

Can anyone make an argument for Durant’s jersey retirement? If so, I’d love to hear it.

Who is the best quarterback in the Pac 10?


It’s a simple question, with a not so simple answer. John David Booty, Dennis Dixon, and Alex Brink have moved on to join their other Pac 10 brothers in the NFL. What’s left behind, for probably the first time in years, is the lack of one quarterback really standing in the national spotlight. Before Booty, there was Leinart. Before him, it was Palmer, Anderson, Harrington, and Boller. And now I look at the 2008 conference starters, wondering who is the best of the bunch.

Mark Sanchez. USC: With only 3 starts under his belt, Sanchez is still fairly unknown by the national media. He was once the top High School quarterback in the country, but wasn’t as heralded as J.D Booty. What Sanchez will give you is a Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart rolled into one. He can power the ball downfield with a cannon , or float it in with a light touch. Sanchez also offers another dimension that both Leinart and Palmer did not. He’s a mobile quarterback who isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run. 2008 should no longer show that statuesque figure in the backfield, though it does increase the injury potential.

Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State: I can just concede that Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter is the leader of the Pac, based on some mock draft sources already projecting him as a first round quarterback selection in 2009. But that information isn’t really conclusive, because it really only says he’s one of the best seniors in the country. Of the senior starting quarterbacks, Rudy may be the best in the conference. But if pooled with underclassmen, is he? If there is no improvement on the Sun Devils offensive line, we’ll never know how good Carpenter is. The line surrendered 55 sacks in 2007, which only makes for a bad quarterback, and a bad QB he has been.

Nate Longshore, Cal: Nate Longshore’s college career has been hot and cold. At times, he’ll show flashes of brilliance, but other moments can leave you head scratching. He’ll be put through the most severe test in 2008, after losing the targets of Lavelle Hawkins and DeSean Jackson to the NFL, along with Justin Forsett, who provided run support.

UCLA’s Quarterback By Committee: The Bruins have the quarterback guru, in Norm Chow, but don’t have a true QB. Ben Olsen will get the opening start, but only because the named starter (Patrick Cowen) is gone for the season, recovering from a torn ACL in the spring. Ben Olsen was another highly touted quarterback recruit, but has failed to live up to his billing. He possesses a large frame and good vision, but his lack of mobility kills him. Though he’s large, he’s fragile, and it will be interesting to see if he survives the Tennessee game unscathed.

Willie Tuitama, Arizona: Now familiarized with the Sonny Dykes offense, Willie Tuitama may finish the season as the Pac 10 statistical leader for quarterbacks. He should appear in the likeness of Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, where Dykes called plays, before being hired by Stoops last year. Unlike Mark Sanchez, Tuitama is limited in offensive weaponry, but playing in that pass happy Wildcats system should give him more pass attempts, completions, and yards. He showed maturity in 2007, and if he limits his mental errors, he may just be the best quarterback in the Pac 10.

Jake Locker, Washington: Locker is already God-like in the Emerald City. With Dennis Dixon gone, he represents the most mobile quarterback still in the conference. He is the West Coast version of Tim Tebow, but his weapons aren’t comparable. UW’s entire success is based on the play of Jake Locker. Athlon Sports has him on “Heisman Watch”, recognizing Jake as one of the best players in the country. Would that make him the best quarterback in the Pac 10? With only a year behind him, the expectations are high, as the Husky faithful look for him to be the next legend of the Lake.

Sixty percent of the conference is represented in this piece, and I still have no clear cut answer. But that’s why they play the games, so the the listed individuals can provide us with one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off Topic: Can a title actually be cheap?


Regardless the sport of participation or the level of play, the competitive nature of each individual launches them on a quest for the ultimate prize. It’s the hardware, the ring, the trophy, or the cup. It’s the dream of becoming a champion that sets the heart afire, driving you to be perfect in every game, match, and set. But every now and then I’ll hear of a guy winning a "cheap" title, and I wonder if there is such a thing. What would lessen the luster of one championship, in comparison to another?

In a recent article, Vinnie Lyer of the Sporting News gave a list of five players we’d like to see get rings. The article sparked a thought, which led to even more. First off, with the exception of Jason Taylor, I wasn’t fond of his list. And the second thought had to do with the possibility of Jason Taylor leaving the NFL doormat Miami Dolphins for a team more ready to make a Superbowl run. As players move towards the end of their careers, you’ll often hear that they want to be moved, and some are even willing to work for less to have a shot at that prize. When players do this, is a title then cheap?

Karl Malone and Gary Payton, though having Hall of Fame type careers, joined the Lakers Roster in 2003, in hopes of winning a championship. Both worked for less, and some wouldn’t say they "joined" the Lakers, as much as they would say they “latched on” to the tail end of an NBA dynasty. L.A failed to capture the championship, and Malone retired without a ring. Payton moved on to another city and contender, where he finally became a champion with the Miami Heat. Was it cheap?

The achievement also becomes dimmed by the way it’s announced. Years from now, we can read about Dwayne Wade, and history will tell us that he won a championship with the Miami Heat. In that same book, we can read about Gary Payton, and the text would more likely say he won a championship “as a member” of the same Miami team. Doesn’t the wording tend to lessen the achievement? Also, it appears that if you’re not a superstar or never reach that status, a championship isn’t as cheap. Brian Scalabrine (Fight On!) just received a championship ring with the Boston Celtics. He wasn’t even dressed for the final game, and as much as people joke about him, he may not shine in that same bargain basement light as Gary Payton.



Zach Thomas is now a Dallas Cowboy, after putting together an impressive career in Miami. Championships are a team reflection, and until now, he’s never been part of a unit capable of bringing home the Lombardi. He has a great opportunity in Dallas, even in a diminished role and playing for less money. If Thomas and the Cowboys win it all this season, some will consider his title cheap. If Thomas stayed with the Dolphins (even taking less money and having a smaller role), and the dolphins somehow became NFL champions, apparently his ring isn’t cheap? Make sense? It’s not who you are, but where you play to get that ring. Well, at least when it comes to winning one in the latter stages of a career, when you’ve never won one before.

If Walter Payton left the Bears to win a title elsewhere, it would have been cheap. The same would be said for Julius Irving, if he left the Sixers. Charles Barkley tried and failed, which was the same as Karl Malone. Junior Seau failed in New England, and will likely try again. Dan Marino was one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks to never win the Superbowl, but a change of scenery would have made it cheap, correct?

My feeling is that you can’t lessen the achievement of players superior in their sport, regardless of where the ultimate prize is attained. The body of work, reputation, and value is what makes it possible for them to join a new unit with their skill level declining. We all wished Ernie Banks could have won a championship, while not wanting him to do it cheaply. That doesn’t make much sense to me. The fan and media perspective has created conditional worth to championship achievements. I have more respect, and feel it’s more deserving, for a Zach Thomas to win a title in Dallas, than I do for a Steve Kerr winning 6 rings in Chicago and San Antonio.

If you find yourself in agreement with me, I pose one more question. With an injury keeping the best golfer in the world (arguably of all time) out of the British open, will the British Open champion then be considered cheap?

The Empire is now 93, 607 strong on game day


The seating capacity of the Los Angeles Coliseum has risen from 92,000 to 93,607. What this does is make another 1,607 seats available, IF you’re lucky enough to purchase them early. Still the hottest ticket in L.A., all USC home games are sold out for the 2008 season, and we’re only in July.

The high demand of fans looking to infiltrate the great walls of Troy sparked the increase. And even with over 93,000 seats available, the Coliseum still falls short of fulfilling the needs of the general public. It’s amazing, when you consider that the Raiders and Rams were unable to sell out this old dinosaur, but the amateur league does it with consistency.

There’s just something about the Trojan game day experience that keeps us wanting more. It’s the pre-game festivities, and Traveler entering the stadium to the Trojan battle cry. It’s the band and song girls. It’s the program that has protected their house so well, they’ve suffered just one loss in 7 years on their home field. It’s the constant chorus of “Fight On’, and the fan salute to victory. It’s the post-game, and the team celebrating with the student section, and players leading the band. It’s the USC football history confined to this great monument, with numbers and banners providing a constant reminder of past success.



In 2008, the Trojans are hosting Ohio State, Oregon, Arizona State, Washington, Cal, and Notre Dame.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain


One of the more prominent Internet bloggers has chosen to reveal his true identity. I was always under the assumption that the “Wizard of Odds” was a Professional, and not a little nobody, like myself, and I was correct. Our Wiz turns out to be Jay Christensen, an 18 year veteran of the Los Angeles Times. With the Times cutting his position, he decided to step from behind that curtain and reveal the person that has been leading college football fans home.

His blog is linked coast to coast, from AOL sports to the New York Times. It’s also linked to some of the USC Trojans sites, which led me to believe it was someone local. Either way, the man has provided some good reading and great insight. Hopeful he’ll have another gig soon. But regardless of whether or not he writes for another Major newspaper, as long as he’s writing in his blog, he’ll always have this fan.

DOH-Mer Of The Week- Tiger Stripes


Be on the look out for a white Ford Bronco, traveling south on Interstate 5 and carrying a large man by the name of Odell Thurman. Eh…That’s not going to work, so let’s make it a bit more modern, and put him in a Black Escalade or an energy saving Hybrid. Another Bengal f*cked up. Is that news? Not even close. “FU’s” can probably be found on Cincinnati stat sheets. Bengals 4 Opponents 1, and Cincinnati wins again.

But honestly, this isn’t even about Odell Thurman, because that’s too damn easy. I could give him the award, end this entry right here, and just call it a day. But I can’t, because this is bigger than Odell and any single player. This is about my petition to update prison attire to the black and orange stripes of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, my petition isn’t even original, because the actions of Bengals management put theirs on the table first.

Teams go into the off-season trying to determine their necessities and fill those holes. You make a list, and you check them off, then head into the new season as a much improved unit. After viewing the Bengals draft, and signings to this date, I’ll assume their checklist appeared as:

Linebacker
Wide Receiver
Defensive End
F*ck Up

The Bengals recently signed their fifth round draft selection, Jason Shirley, from Fresno State. In case you planned on viewing his 2007 college statistics, don’t bother, because you’ll find very little. In August of ‘07, he was suspended by Coach Pat Hill for “conduct detrimental to the team”. Following reinstatement, he was again suspended, 2 months later, and this time for “driving under the influence” and “hit and run”. Only 5 weeks passed, and he was then given a third chance. And in November, he was dismissed permanently, after being cited for “driving with a suspended license” and “expired registration”. This came just “2 days” after his reinstatement. In less than a year, Shirley has gone from citations, arrests, and suspensions to the stripes and payroll of the Cincinnati Bengals.

The off-season philosophy appears to be finding replacements for Odell Thurman and Chris Henry, and I’m not talking about the talents of those players. One player down (check), and just one more to go. While other GMs were evaluating players at the NFL scouting combine, it's obvious that Cincinnati GMs took in another viewing of "The longest yard".

I’m usually the person defending a player and preaching for second chances. Hell, life has given me second and third chances, maybe even a fourth. But I also know that the betterment of a person doesn’t come with grouping bad characters together. I had to separate myself from the bad influences, before I could become the model citizen that I am today. That’s why I feel prison is a horrible method of rehabilitation, because any prisoner in general population isn’t going to learn to change his or her ways, as much as they’re going to learn more dirty sh*t they can do when they get out. One of the best things that ever happened to the Federal Penitentiary was having Martha Stewart as an inmate. Those women didn’t only learn to poison husbands, shoplift, and locate the most productive street corners for selling ass. Thanks to Martha, they also learned to bake cookies. Charles Manson would be a new man, if Emeril ever got arrested.

Team chemistry is very important to team success. And you may even see less talented teams overachieving, because they work well as a unit. The Bengals have failed to have (or be) a unit for the past few years. They have tigers changing their stripes and disrupting the flow. Key players are here today and gone tomorrow, just to start all over again. And though I may seem a bit harsh on Jason Shirley, he’s not my target. He can go on to have an amazing NFL career, maybe even pick up a Nobel Peace prize to add to future MVP trophies. But an organization that is so torn, and still taking chances, is reason enough for me to give the Bengals a DOH-mer.

People can say what they want about the Cowboys picking up Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, etc, but that’s still a team in Dallas. The Bengals haven’t resembled one, despite having a talented roster. And instead of selecting wisely, bringing in more character to provide leadership, and begin a mending process, they’ve taken another chance on something that can blow up in their face. Victories come in the locker room, before you ever run from that tunnel. New Bengals will run onto a field in 2008, while old Bengals are running from the law. Either way, the organization has made no attempt to run from their image.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The best thing to ever crawl out of the swamp


I happened to catch Tim Tebow on ESPN making a pitch for Title Town. Outside of Gainesville, the Heisman Trophy winning QB is hated. But I must admit, he’s very articulate and good in front of a camera. If the NFL isn’t part of his future, broadcasting might be his calling. But then again, maybe it’s surgery or the ministry, seeing that he performed circumcisions and preached the gospel, during a recent trip to the Philippines.

But in keeping all Tebow praise brief, he made a very good pitch for a city that can’t possibly stack up to Los Angeles. And as he made this pitch, I kept wondering why we had Tommy Lasorda as the Los Angeles salesman for our segment. I love Tommy Lasorda, and he’s forever Dodger Blue. But honestly, the man couldn’t sell me a glass of water in the middle of the desert. And he definitely couldn’t sell me a meal, knowing that his restaurant was shutdown for rat infestation. Was Vin Scully not available? There was so much to sell, but Tommy was stuck on Kirk Gibson’s homerun being the greatest achievement in L.A sports history. It was voted as such, by a Los Angeles magazine. But seriously, it wasn't.

Anyway, back to the Gators. Tim Tebow had the honor of sharing his moment in the Title Town spotlight with ESPN’s own Erin Andrews. Now, I know I may catch hell for this, but Andrews is the best thing that ever crawled out of the swamp. Fans of the Dallas Cowboys would curse me, knowing that the Swamp gave them Emmit Smith, who just happens to be the NFL’s all time leading rusher. Bears fans may thank me, wishing they could drag Rex Grossman back to Gainesville. But for me, and maybe all the members of the SEC who piss on Florida, it’s Erin Andrews, without a doubt.

One last thought. Isn’t it amazing how a business suit can hide jugs like that?

Retro: Amputate his fingertip and let him play


There was a time when warriors prowled the gridiron. It was long before the crybabies of today, whining about contracts and forgetting the game. It was a time when one man would leave his mark on the NFL, and be remembered for years to come. It was a time when Ronnie Lott would have his fingertip amputated, so he could fight on and not miss games. That became just one of the many stories throughout his great career. It was a time, back then, and it was his moment to shine.

At the end of the 1985 season in a game against the Cowboys, Ronnie Lott, then in his glory days with the 49ers, mangled his left pinky in a brutal collision with running back Timmy Newsome. Bone fragments and parts of Lott's finger lay somewhere in the turf. Lott came out of the game briefly -- a game his team won to gain a wild-card berth in the NFC playoffs. He bore the agony of his dismembered member in the manner of all Top Guns and Terminators of sports. Enduring the pain was a religion -- or at least a line-item entry in the game's Iliad of make-believe war. The next week, Lott had his fingers taped so he could play -- in a loss to the Giants. Over that winter, he remained in excruciating pain. He faced the next season with an awful choice: a complicated and delicate operation in which bone and skin grafting and the placement of pins in his hand might restore full use of his hand -- or, he could have the top of his finger amputated. Choice No. 1 meant missing playing time and risking reinjury. Choice No. 2 meant missing some finger but being ready -- like Arnold Schwarzenegger -- for more. Most football fans know how this came out. Lott chose to have the top of his finger chopped off and then went on to his third Pro Bowl season with the 49ers, leading the team to yet another playoff appearance.~The Sporting News

Ronnie Lott was one of the most ferocious hitters in the history of the NFL. He’s also the only player to be named all pro at three different positions (FS, SS, CB). He is a 4 time Superbowl champion, powering his 49ers defense to become the team of the decade. He was committed to winning, and made every effort to bring about those results. The NFL still searches for others with the same desire, but the findings are few. Nowadays, the youth looks to be bigger than the game. But in Lott’s time, the game was bigger than the players, and that’s how it was played.



Today, Lott can be seen among the faces on the sidelines of USC football. He now watches Young Taylor Mays patrol the same areas of the coliseum that he once did. He listens to the comparisons, as Mays is mentioned in breaths of his own legendary name. It’s an honor for any player, amateur or pro, because to resemble a great one, great ability must show. Taylor Mays finds himself on a list of Lott Trophy candidates for 2008, an award named after his brethren of cardinal and gold, and given to college football’s defensive impact player of the year.

Ronnie Lott was a member of the 1978 USC National Championship team. He was recruited to Southern California as a two way player, and nearly found himself in a tailback competition with Marcus Allen. Looking back now, if reversed decisions were made by Coach John Robinson, Marcus Allen could have played out his college career as a cornerback, with Ronnie Lott sweeping in the “student body right”. Robinson’s assessment was correct, and while Marcus Allen went on to win the Heisman Trophy, Ronnie Lott received All American honors as the nation’s top defensive back.

Lott was selected as the 8th player in the first round of the 1981 draft, and with each tackle, interception, jarring blow, and pass defended, he created his own NFL legacy. He was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 2000, but had already given everyone a preview, jacking up his first opponents on a coliseum field, as one of the greatest Trojans of all time.

Statistics

*10 time pro bowl selection
* 4 time Superbowl champion
* second in rookie of the year voting (Lawrence Taylor)
* NFL Hall of Fame (Class of 2002)
* College Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2002)
* Jersey #42 retired by San Francisco 49ers