Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye 2005!!!


I will be spending New Year's Eve in a car.  My wife's car.  We will be leaving my hometown of Charlotte and head back to our home in Northern Kentucky.  We will get up...and celebrate the end of 2005 in private.  She may drink some Hypnotic;  I may drink some Sprite or Ginger Ale [the Assassin doesn't drink];  then we will go to sleep.

Before I head out, I just wanted one more good look back at 2005.

NCAA BASKETBALL:  Of course this was a great year for me.  My beloved North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Championship which marked our return to prime time.  After a disasterous 8-20 season, the ugly ousting of Matt Doherty, the tougher than expected welcome of Roy Williams and watching Duke dominate while we were gone made this all the more sweeeeeeter.  The odd thing was that the Heels season was title or bust.  The season was worthless if it didn't end with a title.  And that's a fun, yet anxious way to watch the season unfold.  And the lasting memory I have of this season will be hugging my wife as the confetti flew in the air at the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis. 

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE:  Personally, it is nice to actually have something to do at this time of year.  One more win, and the Skins are actually in the playoffs....for the first time since 1999.  So this year will be most remembered for that.  However, in terms of the entire league, this may be known as the Year Of Owens.  From his breathtaking play in the Super Bowl to his "holdout" to his situps in front of his house, to his being kicked off the team, to his news conference.  Athletes want to know why the average fan hates athletes deep down....well there it is.  It will also be known as the return of the Cincinnati Bengals....seeing the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.  And living in Cincinnati, I have to deal with these nouveau riche up close.  My hometown Panthers have had a roller coaster ride as well.  But my favorite moment willbe watching Santana Moss hauling in those TD bombs on a Monday night in Dallas.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION:  For only the third time in my life, there was an NBA postseason with no Lakers.  And let me was really tough to watch.  Not only did the Lakers miss the playoffs...they missed them badly.  From Kobe and Odom's injuries to Rudy T quitting...made it a horrible year.  Of course, some new players and and new/old coach, Phil Jackson, popped the ears up some.  And while the team enters 2006 around the .500 will be interesting to see how everything plays out.  Non-Laker wise...while the 2005 Finals weren't breathtaking....Game 5 sure was.  The nip and tuck and Robert Horry thinking he's 25 again were great.  And seeing Tim Duncan choke was a bit funny as well.  Of course, he's Timmy and that didn't last too he had a great series otherwise.  But Game 5 was awesome.  My fondest NBA memory of 2005 will be Kobe Bryant scoring 62 points in three quarters to embarrass a darn good Dallas Mavericks team. 

NCAA FOOTBALL:  Reports of the BCS working have been greatly exaggerated.  I mean, even a broken clock gets the time right twice a day.  That aside, I will always remember the LSU comeback at Arizona State...a game moved to Tempe due to Hurricane Katrina's impact.  I will also remember the magical USC-Notre Dame game, which the Irish probably gained more national respect with that loss than they did in any win they had.  I will remember me foolishly trusting the Big Ten this year.  I normally are critical of the Big Ten...but for some dumb reason...I believed in them this year.  I had Michigan picked to play USC in the Rose Bowl [d'oh!].  And as I write this, the Big Ten is an awesome 0-3 in Bowl games....including to upset losses by [you guessed it] Michigan and Minnesota. 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:  This will be remembered as the year the White Sox ended 88 years of "wait til next year".  It will also be remembered as the year the National League was swept in the Series, yet again.  It was also nice to see the Yankees and Red Sox disposed of quickly, so we didn't have to hear about them as much as we normally get crammed down our throats.  We saw baseball back in the the Nats took off and had a surprisingly good season.  And, in my Cincinnati Reds season, it was nice to see Ken Griffey Jr back to nearly his old self.  But it is sad to see Sean Casey go.  The saddest thing of all, is that with all that good....2005 will be remembered MOST for being the Steroid Season.  The Congressional hearings, the stricter policy actually netting a few wrong doers, and the two that combined in the form of Raphael Palmeiro.  Palmei-roid sat in front of Congress, pointed at them, and vehemently denied ever taking roids.  Then he tests positive for them a few months later.  Nice.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE:  The worst thing that could ever happen.....happened.  The NHL cancelled the entire 2004-2005 season, which meant the Stanley Cup was not awarded in 2005, the first time that had happened in nearly 90 years.  However, there was elation as the 2005-6 season got underway on time....and with new rules.  Gone is the red line, ties, rough defense and basically cluttered play. 

NASCAR:  I don't really follow racing that much [see DieCast for that], but I did follow Tony Stewart all year.  You see, I drafted him in a NASCAR pool, so it was nice to see my driver win the Nextel Cup.  He won in his home of the Brickyard 500.  And the nicer, more reserved Stewart showed that it's his skill...not rage...that makes him a 2-time champion. 

TOUR DE FRANCE:  Like I said, this is probably the last year most Americans actually follow the event, since Lance Armstrong will no longer compete.  But, it was nice to see Amstrong dominate the event yet again....while the French tabloids continue to try to bring him down. 

HURRICANE KATRINA:  It would be naive of me to even attempt to figure out what New Orleans will look like in the future.  But 2005 for New Orleans sports will be remembered disasterously.  Collegiate teams were forced to move....programs eliminated...and Tulane playing football with no actually school to go to.  Students left for other schools.  As for the pros, well, the Saints were thrown around the NFL as if it was some foster child.  They played home games in New York, Baton Rouge and San Antonio...and were a combined 1-7 at home.  Also, the way the schedule was set up, they were always traveling.  The team was criticized for threatening to stay in San Antonio or move to Los Angeles in the future.  They apparantly will play in Louisiana in 2006...and see what happens.  As for the NBA's Hornets, they moved almost exclusively to Oklahoma City and have prospered on and off the court.  Of course, none of this compares to what issues the city and it's citizens face just to get back to normalcy. 

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Amazing NFC


What do these NFC teams have in common:  Bears, Buccaneers, Giants, Panthers, Redskins and Cowboys?

Well, one answer is that 5 of those teams will be in the playoffs.

Another answer is that none of those teams were in the playoffs last year.

And so goes the NFC.  The only NFC playoff team that was there last year is the 13-2 Seattle Seahawks....and they haven't won a playoff game in, like, two decades. 

Quite amazing.  Last year's NFC Champion, the Philadelphia Eagles, were knocked out several weeks ago and had a season worth forgetting.  The team the Eagles beat in the NFC title game, the Atlanta Falcons, were knocked out last week.  The NFC North saw the Packers and Vikings [playoff teams a year ago] get off to miserable starts....and in the Packers case, an even worse finish.  The St. Louis Rams haven't been relevant since before Halloween. 

Think about this.  The starting quarterbacks in the NFC playoffs could be Matt Hasselbeck, Rex Grossman, Eli Manning, Chris Simms, Jake Delhomme and Mark Brunell.  If Dallas gets in, they bring Drew Bledsoe.  Bledsoe and Delhomme have a Super Bowl start to their credit and Hasselbeck has been a starter in Seattle for a while.  But Grossman, Simms and Manning have had only a handful of starts entering this season.  Brunell, who used to be something special, had about as bad of a season as you could possibly have in 2004.  The AFC QBs are Peyton Manning, Jake Plummer, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Byron Leftwich [maybe] and Ben Roethlisberger [probably].  Quite a raise in talent. 

But, one thing the NFC does have is some good coaching.  Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden, Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells have 7 Super Bowl championships [and 10 total appearances] between them.  John Fox has also been to a Super Bowl.  Lovie Smith was a defensive coordinator for the Rams in a Super Bowl [note, the AFC head coaches have a combined 5 Super Bowl titles in 6 appearances].  And when you think of the Redskins, Giants, Cowboys and Bears battling in the makes you think that we are just a 49ers team away from looking like the run in the 1980s and 1990s [especially when you see the AFC with the Steelers, Bengals and Broncos in the playoffs]. 


So is this the weakening of the NFC....or the strengthening?  Will the Redskins, Cowboys, Bears, Bucs and Giants stay strong??  And at the same time, will the Eagles, Rams, Vikings and Falcons get back up there??  At the same time, some of the worst NFL teams are in the conference [Saints, Niners, Packers]...but the AFC has their share as well [Jets, Texans, Titans, Raiders]. 

Another amazing thing is that while the NFL's top quarterbacks reside in the AFC....most of the top statistical WRs are in the NFC.  Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Torry Holt. Joey Galloway, Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss, Terrell Owens [NFC for now], Darrell Jackson, Donald Driver and Javon Walker.  And as far as running backs go...the conferences are pretty much even.  Sure, LT, Rudi Johnson and Larry Johnson rule the AFC....but Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis, Tiki Barber, Warrick Dunn, Thomas Jones and Cadillac Williams had great NFC seasons as well. 

Does this mean the NFC, the conference with the bigger markets, is starting an upswing back?  Can they take back the NFL as they did from 1984-1996??  Or is this just a sign of NFC parody being AFC mediocrity.

Sportz' NFL Awards

OFFENSIVE MVP:  Shaun Alexander, Seahawks.  If the Seahawks hadn't wrapped up the NFC's home field advantage...Alexander may have realistically reached 30 TDs [he has 27] and 2,000 scrimmage yards [he has 1,885].  When Seattle has a Shaun...he's gotten that yard 14 out of 14 times.  He's tied the NFL record for TDs and has carried Seattle to the top of the NFC. 

COACH OF THE YEAR:  Lovie Smith, Bears.  Usually, this award goes to the coach of a team that stunk last year that surprisingly has success the next year.  That's Chicago...and Lovie Smith.  Chicago had one of the worst records this year...and lost their starting QB in preseason and had to deal with the holdout of their first round pick.  However, he took another rookie, QB Kyle Orton, and Thomas Jones to run [not greatly] the offense.  But the team won with the defense...which has been #1 in the NFL most of the year...and Smith is from a defensive background.  Take that with the fact that Chicago started out 1-3....then won 10 of their next 11 games. 

DEFENSIVE MVP.  Brian Urlacher, Bears.  Sometimes a quarterback wins the MVP due to the successes of the entire offense.  Well, Urlacher has QB'd the best defense in the NFL.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:  Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers.  Sure, his numbers have calmed down from his blistering start....but he is still very impressive and still has better stats than any other rookie back.  And Tampa may end up winning the NFC South on his back.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.  Shawne Merriman, Chargers.  What a year for rookie linebackers....and what a year Merriman has had!  Nine sacks to become the San Diego pash rusher that disrupts the timing of offenses which makes the entire defense better....ahhh...he's a great player!

QUARTERBACK OF THE YEAR:  Peyton Manning, Colts.  Yeah, he had a tough start...but he still produced great stats for a team who's culture changed from last year.  They are more of a running team that plays great defense.  And what other QB has the control of his offense like Manning?? 

RUNNING BACK OF THE YEAR:  Shaun Alexander, Seahawks

RECEIVER OF THE YEAR:  Steve Smith, Panthers.  He leads the NFL in receiving yards....4th in receptions and 2nd in TD catches.  He has pretty much BEEN the Panthers passing attack. 

TIGHT END OF THE YEAR:  Antonio Gates, Chargers.  Dude is near the top in yards and TDs and is the best cog in the Bolts passing game. 

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR:  Willie Roaf, Chiefs.  Dude anchors a line that let Priest Holmes go off....THEN Larry Johnson go off. 

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR:  Osi Umenyiora, Giants.  He is 2nd in the NFL in sacks, yet is still doing great against the run. 

LINEBACKER OF THE YEAR:  Brian  Urlacher, Bears

DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE YEAR:  Deltha O'Neal, Bengals.  I want to put Darren Sharper here...but if it wasn't for what O'Neal has been doing, Cincy's defense wouldn't be what it is...and that's still an average defense.  But they are one of the best in the league in takeaways. 

KICKER OF THE YEAR:  Neil Rackers, Cardinals.  Hey, he benefits from an offense that sucks in the red zone. 

BIGGEST SURPRISE:  Chicago Bears.  Yeah, I thought they'd be worse than last year.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:  Philadelphia Eagles.  This team essentially had everyone's red carpet rolled out to Super Bowl XL.  They were eliminated weeks ago. 

More to come...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Skins, Cowboys and Steelers Make The Playoffs

There are many races up for grabs this weekend.  There are the division races in the NFC East and NFC South.  There are the playoff races in both which there are only FOUR spots remaining.  There is also the race for the #1 pick in the draft.  A Houston loss simplifies things as their 2-14 record could not be matched.  But if Houston wins and the Texans, Niners, Packers, Saints and Jets are all 3-13....strength of schedule determines who gets the #1 pick in the draft [odds are the Saints would get that #1 pick]. 

REDSKINS AT EAGLES.  A Redskins win puts them in the playoffs...and a Giants loss gives them the NFC East.  And while the Eagles have issues...this won't be a cakewalk.  A few weeks ago, Philly took the G-men to overtime before bowing out.  Not to mention that the Skins hope that Mark Brunell will be good enough to go in the game.  The best thing Washington can do is jump on Philly early...just as they did against Dallas and New York...and make the Eagles essentially roll over and let Portis run the game out.  Do that...and I'll be blogging about the Skins next week.  Redskins 24-13

PANTHERS AT FALCONS.  A Carolina win puts them in the playoffs.  If Tampa loses as well...then the Panthers are NFC South champions.  This one will be tough.  Carolina is 1-9 in the Georgia Dome and has struggled against Vick historically.  However, they did a great job on Vick in their first meeting a few weeks back.  And for those people who say that Atlanta has nothing to play are wrong.  An Atlanta win puts them at 9-7 and would give the Falcons their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history.  Carolina has struggled with bad receiver play, turnovers, mistakes and running DeShaun Foster into the ground.  Falcons 24-21

RAMS AT COWBOYS.  Dallas must win this game AND have either Washington or Carolina lose [it wouldn't hurt if Tampa lost, either].  After a spirited and emotional win in Charlotte last weekend, Dallas seems to have a little bit of momentum heading into this game.  St. Louis has they were beaten by the Niners AT HOME making the Rams two of the three wins the Niners got this year.  Cowboys 27-13

SAINTS AT BUCCANEERS.  A Tampa win nets them the NFC South title.  A loss and it takes some miracles for them not to get a playoff spot.  I don't see Tampa losing this game.  They've looked pretty solid the last several weeks and the Saints are dragging across the finish line.  I doubt New Orleans will put up much of a many of them are just going to be relieved to end this nightmarish season.  Buccaneers 34-10

GIANTS AT RAIDERS (Saturday).  A Giants win gets them the NFC East title.  A loss coupled with a Redskins win makes the Giants a wildcard.  This won't be a totally easy game...but Oakland seems to have mailed it in already.  They've played worse than any team this month and seem to be ready to go home.  Giants benefit.  Giants 34-13

LIONS AT STEELERS.  A Pittsburgh win gets them in the playoffs.  The Lions have played a bit better of late...but the Steelers are too strong.  Steelers 26-10

BENGALS AT CHIEFS.  A Bengals win clinches the #3 seed [a loss with a Pats win puts them #4].  Kansas City must win this game and hope for losses by Pittsburgh and San Diego.  This should be a great offensive show.  Can the Bengals [who aren't a great run defense] slow down the hot Larry Johnson??  Can the Chiefs [who's defense stinks] be able to contain Carson Palmer??  Probably no on both counts.  But Kansas City is so tough at home at this time of the year...are hungrier...and will get the win.  Chiefs 41-38

BRONCOS AT CHARGERS (Saturday).  An odd game.  This game is meaningless to both teams...but meaningful to the Chiefs and Steelers.  If San Diego wins this game on Saturday...then the Steelers know they are in the playoffs and the Chiefs will be done.  How?  If the Steelers, Chiefs AND Chargers are 10-6....San Diego first eliminated Kansas City, then becomes eliminated by Pittsburgh.  The onlychance KC has is if San Diego is not in the equation.  Needless to say, this game will be huge in Missouri and western Pennsylvania.  Broncos have clinched the #2seed, so they'll be resting people.  Chargers 30-20

DOLPHINS AT PATRIOTS.  A Pats win and a Bengals loss gets them the #3 seed....otherwise is a #4 seed.  Miami has been hot of late...but is going nowhere.  Look for New England to stay focused heading into the playoffs.  Patriots 22-14

CARDINALS AT COLTS.  Look for the Colts' starters to get even less work.  The difference this week is that they are playing Arizona.  Colts 24-20

TITANS AT JAGUARS.  Will this be Steve McNair's last game as a Titan?  Will it be David Garrard's last start this season for the Jags??  Jaguars 27-20

SEAHAWKS AT PACKERS.  Will it be Brett Favre's final game?  Well, his old coach, Mike Holmgren, will be on hand at Lambeau to see how it plays out.  I think with Seattle resting everyone..that Favre will have a magical game.    Packers 21-17

BEARS AT VIKINGS.  Yeah...Chicago is the #2 seed.  Isn't that weird??  Odds are that Chicago will play many of it's starters on offense....aside from Thomas get Rex Grossman some more action.  However, Mike Tice is fighting to keep his job, as our some players on the Vikings team.  Vikings 17-14

RAVENS AT BROWNS.  Oh, the former Browns meet the current Browns.  Ravens 24-16

BILLS AT JETS.  I still have no idea how Buffalo beat Cincinnati last week.  If they did that, they surely can win in New York.  Bills 13-10

TEXANS AT NINERS.  Houston's dreams will come true.  Niners 26-16

Wild Finish At Alamo Bowl

          Terrence Nunn

"Throw it over your shoulder!!!!"

That was me shouting at the Wolverine player who was being tackled out of bounds on the final play of the Alamo Bowl.  Up to that point, Michigan was finishing off a choke job that netted Nebraska a 32-28 win in San Antonio.  With 8 minutes left in the game, Nebraska had a long kick return, a long TD run, a takeaway, and a TD pass to take a 4-pt lead into the closing minutes.  Then the final play.

Something out of that Cal_Stanford game occured, when Michigan passed the ball, and ran about 8 latterals trying to score.  It almost worked.  One of the latterals went to an offensive lineman who couldn't catch the ball....but the fumble was picked up by a Wolverine player who sprinted down the field and was eventually caught at the 15 yard line.  Maybe a blind toss behind him in the air....and a Michigan player [there were a couple there] would've caught it and ran it the rest of the way. 

What made it all the more bizarre was that when the offensive lineman couldn't catch the ball....pretty much every Nebraska player and coach on the sideline walked on the field...some got to near midfield....while the play was still going.  There were also several Michigan players and coaches on the field...but since the play was coming towards their sideline, they quickly moved back.  There were also Alamo Bowl "officials" or employees on the field...including a couple running alongside the ball carrier as he was being pushed out of bounds.  The capper was the fact that Cornhusker coach Bill Callahan was douced in Gatorade as that play was continuing. 

Of course, in a season where both programs has very disappointing seasons and both coaches are burning over a hotseat....this was an important game for both sides.  Nebraska ends the season 8-4 after winning some huge games down the stretch.  It may give Nebraska some confidence in Bill Callahan, who is really trying to put his passing offense into a program that hasn't recruited that personnel before he got there.  He may get another chance to see if his plan works.

As for Michigan,their 7-5 is VERY disappointing.  Heck, my preseason preview had the Wolverines playing in the Rose Bowl against USC for the BCS Championship.  And if not for a last second TD toss against Penn State, they'd be 6-6!!!!  Lloyd Carr may or may not be back after this season.

I will give it up to the Alamo Bowl...which has become quite a exciting bowl to watch. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2005



With one week left, the playoff picture is about halfway in focus.  Here [possibly to confuse you more] is what your team needs to happen to maximize it's postseason shot!


Clinched the #1 seed.  Gets first round bye.

Clinched the #2 seed.  Gets first round bye.

.....a win or a Carolina loss
....a win or a loss by Washington or Dallas or a New York win

Essentially, Tampa has clinched a playoff berth.  The only way they can't is if they lose...go to 10-6...Dallas and Washington win, which makes both of them 10-6...and New York losing making them 10-6.  Washington gets the divisional tie-breaker to make them NFC East champions.  So the next tiebreaker would be strength of victory between Tampa and Dallas.

A Tampa win gets them the division and the #3 seed.  If they lose, the Panthers lose, and the Giants win....then Tampa gets the #4 seed.  If they all lose, Tampa gets the #3 seed.

Clinched a playoff spot.
....a win or a Washington loss

To get the #3 seed, the Giants must win the NFC East and have Tampa lose.  A Tampa win would force them to be the #4 seed. 

.....a win and a Tampa Bay loss
.....a win or a loss by either Washington or Dallas.

If the Panthers win and Tampa loses, Carolina gets the #3 seed [if New York loses] or the #4 seed [if New York wins].  If Tampa wins the NFC South...a Carolina win [or lossed by both Washington and Dallas] gets them the #5 seed.  A Carolina loss and a win by Dallas OR Washington [not both] gets them the #6 seed.  If Carolina loses and both Dallas and Washington wins...then Carolina is done.

....a win and a New York loss
....a win or a Dallas loss.

Washington could get the #3 seed by winning the NFC East and Carolina winning the NFC South.  If Tampa wins the NFC South, then Washington would be the #4 seed.  If Washington doesn't win the NFC East...they become the #5 seed if they win and Carolina losses.  If Carolina wins OR both Washington and Dallas loses...the Washington is the #6 seed.

...a win and a Washington loss OR...
...a win and a Carolina loss OR...
...a win and a New York and Tampa loss, and the strength of victory tiebreaker

Dallas needs help just to make the playoffs.  However, both Carolina and Washington are playing on the road against division foes, so they have a good shot at it.  They cannot win the division.


Clinched #1 seed.  Gets first round bye.

Clinched #2 seed.  Gets first round bye.

Clinched AFC North and a playoff spot.

If Cincinnati wins or New England loses...then Cincy gets the #3 seed.  If Cincinnati loses and New England wins, then Cincinnati gets the #4 seed.

Clinched the AFC East and a playoff spot.

If New England wins and Cincinnati loses...then New England gets the #3 seed.  If New England loses or Cincinnati wins, then New England gets the #4 seed.

Clinched the #5 seed.

....a win or a Chiefs loss OR...
....a San Diego win

I know this is weird, but how does San Diego fit in here?  Well, if San Diego, Kansas City and Pittsburgh all tie at 10-6...the first tie breaker is amongst the division teams.  San Diego would win the tiebreaker over Kansas City, then lose the tiebreaker to Pittsburgh.  So a San Diego win guarantees a Pittsburgh playoff spot.

....a win and a Pittsburgh and San Diego loss

Take a look at Pittsburgh's analysis.

The End Of Monday Night Football On ABC

It wasn't always excellent....but it was always there.

Monday night's Patriots-Jets game will be the final MNF game on ABC.  Next year, ABC will be football-less and their sister station ESPN will take over.  To be honest, it saddens me.

I am 30 years there has been MNF on ABC for as long as I've lived.  When I was just learning the game, Howard Cosell was on the air [remember, it was a Redskin that he called a "little monkey"].  As I grew up, I was along the ride with "Frank and Al and Dan"....that's Gifford, Michaels and Deirdorf.  I was hopeful that Dennis Miller [one of my favorite comedians] would bring a new zip to the show....but it came up horribly lame.  Adding John Madden the last few years made for good telecasts.

But the games turned bad.  One of the problems with the NFL becoming so even now-a-days is that a schedule made in April can turn into mush when the games actually arrive.  In recent years, the NFL hasn't even scheduled a Monday night game for Week 17.  Last night's game....the division winning Pats against the three-win Jets....was supposed to be a headlining game before the season began.  Instead, it was a playoff team smacking down a dead team.  Hey, last week we had cellar dwellers Baltimore and Green this was actually an improvement.

Remember Super Bowl XXIV 1/2???  The Giants and Niners were the two best teams in the NFL when they met in 1990.  Or that Dolphins-Bears game in 1985 that was the highest rated MNF game??  Sure, you get a Pats-Colts game [like earlier this year] that gets the hype...but that's not a good average. 

So what are my favorite moments??

Going to break at 9:00 pm to watch the game.

That great Redskins comeback against the Cowboys earlier this season.

Bo Jackson running out of the Kingdome.

Joey T breaking his leg.

The Joe Montana-John Elway game.

That Bears fan jumping from his seat to catch a kick.

The first Monday Night game in Charlotte.

In 1988, the Redskins and Giantsplayed on the opening Monday Night....a matchup of the last two Super Bowl Champions.

In 1993, the Redskins smacking the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys 35-16

Heck, any of the 53 Redskins appearances on Monday night [they played the Cowboys 14 times on MNF].

Now....while it is sad to see MNF off of ABC...the move to ESPN won't be some major life altering event.  Al Michaels still will voice the games with [most likely] Joe Theismann being his wingman.  Most people get ESPN....especially ones that are huge football fans.  The paegentry will be gone....maybe Hank Williams Jr will be too....but the game will live on. 

Even if the game sucks.

Monday, December 26, 2005

State Of The Onion

The Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2nd straight Christmas....sending Kobe Bryant back once again without a win over his greatest personal rival, Shaquille O'Neal.  This time, Miami won 97-92. 

For the 2nd straight was a very good game.  To me, the hype was too aside from the tip-off [where Shaq didn't even look Kobe's way] the game was the same as any other NBA game.  The stars shined; role players played well [the Miami ones did]; and it came down to the end.  Miami won with Shaq's aggresiveness at the end....Payton's strong game...and some timly rebounding.  The Lakers lost due to Kobe's cold streak in the 2nd half...the bench not showing up....and some questionable coaching decisions. 


Here is a take from buddy of mine, Johnnysee:

"As a result of all the hype, this game has taken on the significance of
a playoff game and, coming as it does, just a couple of months into the
season and still a couple of months before the all-star break, stands -
artificially or not - as something of a landmark exhibition.

The perfect opportunity to assess the game and the state of the team,
coming out of it.

First, the game; another close contest, another Christmas loss. 
Somehow, even last year when the Lakers were nowhere near as
well-organized as this year's version, the overmatched Lakers have
managed to remain competitive and, at least this season, but for a few
regrettable and, it turns out, fatal mistakes, we were in a position to
take it.  Strange, that.  Talent and experience would dictate all Heat
blowouts, and yet, each one has ended with Zo, rubbing Shaq's relieved
shoulders as the buzzer sounded on yet another squeaker.  Clearly,
these games seem even more important for the Heat than they do the
Lakers, given the body-language and intensity on their bench, and they
certainly seem more important to Shaq.  Kobe wants to win as much if
not more than the next guy, don't get me wrong, but you get the feeling
he recovers from the losses to the Heat a helluvalot faster and easier
than Shaq might, were the Kobe Zoom on the other foot, so to speak.

What does LA take away from this?  First and foremost, gotta learn from
the mistakes and lapses... and that includes the coaching staff.  But
there's good news too.  Kwame and Mihm can defend anyone in this
league.  Only Mihm can score, sadly, but both can rebound and both can
body-up against Big Little Man and if they can work him, they can work
anyone... except Kevin Garnett, of course.

Smush and Sasha I don't worry about.  Call it nerves.  Call it
inexperience.  Games like this are gonna happen to kids like that. 
Walton?  He'll bounce back.

If I were Phil, though, I'd take a look in the mirror and think about
my substitions.

And finally, the state of the team;  I give 'em a B-minus.  Till today
it was a solid B.  Maybe even a B-plus.  But they're tired.  Exhausted.
  Especially Kobe, thanks to Phil.  Tomorrow night worries me.  If the
Lakers are to beat the Wizzards, it's gonna come down to the bench and
everyone of our starters not named Kobe, who needs and deserves a rest,
but - again, thanks to Phil - isn't gonna get one for a couple of days.

Overall, ya gotta feel pretty good about the way things are going, just
as you've gotta curse the stupid mistakes, knowing how much better
things might've gone without 'em."




From JRowe: 

"But the Lakers lost by 5 points. The Lakers aren't deemed to be on par with the Heat, had the lead late in the game, and they (the Heat) had to scramble to avoid embarrassment.   As it is, the Lakers were in position to send the game into OT, but just didn't do it. Remember folks, they're rebuilding, have been on a nice roll, and came ever so close to pulling out a monumental upset. That's what so upsetting.   With a still young team, they were the Little Engine that Could (but not quite) against a veteranteam supposedly with its shit together, with the legendary "Riles" on the bench, and the Big Ingrate in the middle. Had the Lakers lost by 20 or more, then it might be worse. But keeping this close, as bad as the after taste is (similar or the same as the Spurs game), the Lakers are staying with these guys.   Look at this as growth. We can't have situations where we're suddenly starting to beat these guys (the top level teams), when in fact the team was in disarray only a few weeks ago. These have been huge steps in recent times from a team playing woeful defensive, to keeping the vaunted Heat with their allstar cast under 100 points."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Agony Of Defeat in the Hawaii Bowl


One thing I've learned in sports is the difference between the pros and the student-athletes.  And no matter what sarcastic comment you can make about the "student" athlete...these guys are still kids whose emotions run like a roller coaster.  I don't mind a pro team piling on another pro team.  But I do mind college teams doing that.  There is no reason that a program like Texas should pummel a program like Baylor 70-0.  These are kids...and you've proven your point with the win.

That's why I feel so bad for Matt Prater.  Prater is the kicker for Central Florida.  Dude hit a clutch kick late in regulation...a 46-yarder...against Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl.  But in overtime...Nevada had the ball first and took a 49-42 lead.  Two plays into the Golden Knights' overtime possession, they score a TD to make in 49-48.  The obligatory extra point would put in into a 2nd overtime....but Prater pushed it wide right.

And while the Nevada players stormed the field....the Central Florida players stood stunned.  And all you can do as a kicker is put your head down....and swallow that guilt. 

He should keep his head up.  They all should.  It was a great comeback in a great bowl game to watch.  Last year, UCF finished 0-11 and in the basement of the Mid American Conference.  This year, their first in Conference USA, they finish 8-3...won the East Division...before losing to Tulsa in the C-USA title game and Nevada in Hawaii.  It was an amazing season and a great story.   

....and an amazing game!


REDSKINS 35-GIANTS 20 (Sportz 1-0).  All us Redskins fans knew that this final three game stretch against our NFC East rivals would be our season.  And so far, we are 2-0 and have put up 35 points in each game.  With a win next week in Philly, the Redskins clinch a playoff berth for the first time since Norv Turner was roaming the sidelines.  To me, this win was more amazing than the smackdown of Dallas.  The Giants were many people's vogue pick to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.  The Giants had built a nice lead in the division.  And the Giants smacked around the Skins 36-0 in the earlier meeting this season.  We looked good!

I thing you could always count on in Washington was a poor division record.  Dallas, New York and Philadelphia have murdered us the past 5 seasons.  This year, we swept Dallas, split with New York and have a shot at sweeping Philly.  A 5-1 NFC East mark would be the best in the division...and gives us the tie breaker over everyone else. 

So, a win in Philly next week gurantees a playoff spot.  Also, if we when and the Giants lose in Oakland....then the Washington Redskins would be NFC Eastern division champions.  Amazing.  A team that no one saw as a legit division contender has a shot to win it on the final week of the season. 


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat


As a Laker fan, I've known full well that the next time that Kobe and Shaq meet up again was while we are preparing to eat our Christmas feast.  It isn't the only game to care about....but it is the only game that allows for a temporary closure of the entire Laker Saga.

I say temporary...because whether they like it or not...Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal will always be placed next to each other in the legends of their greatness.  Neither has won a NBA Finals game without the other one.  The photos and TV moments of that Lake Show Era feature images of Shaq and Kobe celebrating together.  And until one does so without the other seems that they will forever be intertwined.

Of course, Kobe has never "beaten" Shaq.  In the three games they've faced each other as opponents....two as Lakers-Heat and the All Star Game....Shaq has come away on the winning team.  Of course, in these regular season games Miami has had the better team.  Kobe's second mate is Lamar Odom.  Shaq's is Dwayne Wade.  Miami is one of the favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals.  The Lakers are just trying to get to the postseason.

But, lo and behold, which team is better right now??  Statistically...the Lakers are.  Entering this game, the Miami Heat are 15-12 [and they do lead the sad Southeast Division].  The Los Angeles Lakers are 15-11...just a game back of the Clippers in the Pacific.  Yeah, the Lakers have the better record.

Since these two teams last met....much has changed.  For the Lakers, they got back Phil Jackson...the coach that Shaq himself said that he'd only ever play for.  The roster has changed a bit....with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown joining the Lakers and Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins now in DC. 

In Miami...a lot has changed.  For a team that was one quarter away from the NBA Finals, Miami essentially blew up the team.  They brought in Jason Williams, Gary Payton, Antoine Walker among others.  And they have hiredback their previous head coach. Stan Van Gundy "resigned" to allow Pat Riley to come down fron the front office to mold this team in his championship image. 

Pat Riley, like Phil Jackson, last won a championship as a Lakers head coach.  Of course, Phil won in 2002....Riley last won in 1988.  While Phil's biggest star mans the paint for Riley now.....Riley's biggest stars are either in the ownership [Magic] or coaching [Kareem, Scott, Cooper].  James Worthy's doing commentary. 

In fact, the day is filled with champions.  Adding in Spurs' coach Greg Popovich [who play Detroit at noon], these coaches have won 16 NBA Championships....including 12 of the last 15....and 15 of the past 21.  Of the 6 Finals in the past 21 years that these guys didn't win....three were won by the Detroit Pistons [who are playing the Spurs] and two were won by Rudy Tomjanovich's Rockets....and Rudy T was the Lakers' coach last Christmas. 

Of course the only reason anyone will really be watching is to see (a) Shaq and Kobe meet each other at the tip off circle and (b) if Kobe is going to come down the lane and try to throw one down on Shaq.  My feeling is that there will be a little tap at the circle and, yeah, Kobe will try it....but Shaq will foul the living crap out of him.

What about the game??  Again, Shaq and Kobe will be the marquee; Riley and Jackson will try to flash their genius out there as if it just oozes; the real battle will be Kobe v Wade; the future Laker center [Bynum] will be forced to play the old one [Shaq] due to Mihm picking up fouls like parents pick up mugs of coffee to watch their kids open Santa's gifts;  and the hype that only this regular season game can bring [cuz, oh by the way, the Spurs and Pistons play earlier in the day].

So what will happen??  Will Kobe finally top Shaq??  Will Shaq show his old form and dominate in a fight he wants to win.  Will Wade become the biggest star?  Will a guy like Odom, Williams or Walker make the big play?  Or will Kobe try to dump in 62 points for the 2nd time this week.

Tune in to find out!!!

As for me...I am picking the Lakers to win 91-87 [and I don't have any rose colored glasses on].  The Lakers are one of the NBA's best road teams[at 9-5...only the Pistons and Mavericks are better away from their homes].  And while Miami has won 5 of 7....their two losses were to legit conteders [Nets, Cavs] and their wins were over the Wizards, Bulls, Bucks, Sixers and Hawks [they are a combined 9 games under .500]....they've struggled this year and are coming off a game where Vince Carter torched them for 51 points. 

Welcome to the SPONSORSHIP Bowl!!


If you don't know by now, this is the final time you will see the PEACH BOWL.  Next year, it is the CHIK-FIL-A BOWL. Sure, it's been the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl for about 8 years now....but it's still the Peach Bowl in all reality.  But in our time, those names get bought up as quickly as you can say Ebay.

It started about a decade ago, when John Hancock went from just sponsoring the SUN BOWL to buying the naming rights.  The HANCOCK BOWL lasted just a few years [it's now the Sun Bowl again], but the seeds of change were planted. 

The HALL OF FAME BOWL is now known as the OUTBACK BOWL.



The MOBILE BOWL is now the GMAC BOWL. 

It really burned my hide when the ancient CITRUS BOWL turned into the CAPITAL ONE BOWL.  Now, some second tier credit card company has their own bowl.  Only the Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Rose Bowls have been played longer than the Tangerine/Citrus/Cap One Bowl. long will it be before the FIESTA BOWL turns into the TOSTITOS BOWL??  Honestly.  Or the SUGAR BOWL into the NOKIA BOWL?  How about the ORANGE BOWL turning into the FEDEX BOWL??  Even the ROSE BOWL gets a sponsorships now. 

And I don't mind sponsorships getting into the mix.  I don't mind the Toyota GATOR BOWL or the Sega LAS VEGAS BOWL.  But I do mind the naming of these bowls.  Even the city bowls.  No New Orleans Bowl or Houston Bowl or Ft Worth Bowl or Hawaii Bowl.  Come up with some name....any name!! 

We have the MUSIC CITY BOWL...the MOTOR CITY BOWL....the EMERALD BOWL...ALAMO BOWL....the LIBERTY BOWL.  Houston, why not bring back the Bluebonnet Bowl????  Hawaii, bring back the Aloha Bowl!!! 

So, this month, your bowl games will be brought to you by an electronics company [Pioneer], a hotel chain [Sheraton], another hotel chain [Gaylord], a car manufacuterer [GMAC], another manufacturer [General Motors], another car company [Toyota], a credit card company [Capital One], another credit card company [MasterCard], yet another credit card company [Citi], a car care center [Meineke], another car care center [Auto Zone], a shipping company [FedEx], a chip company [Tostitos], a credit union [SD Credit Union], a sporting goods store [Champs Sports], a technologies company [Insight], a computer company [MPC], a snacked nuts company [Emerald], an insurance company [Pacific Life], a hair care company [Vitalis], a chicken sandwich resteraunt [Chik-fil-A], an internet store [EV1],  two communications companies [Nokia and AT&T] and an Austrailian themed restraunt [Outback].

Friday, December 23, 2005

While I Am Away......

*TONY DUNGY'S SON COMMITS SUICIDE.  Man, that is something that no one can get over.  I mean, your 18 year old son takes his own life.  That has to be the worst feeling anyone could ever suffer.  My condolances to the Dungys. 

*JOHNNY DAMON WEARS PINSTRIPES.  This, again, solifies my theory that everyone becomes a Yankee at some point.  And that rivalries are really only made by fans now.  I mean, Red Sox fans have seen Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens go pinstripes...and now Damon.  And this was a week after Nomar was rumored to be heading to New York.  So this "rivalry" truly is just a fan thing, huh?  I still can't see Damon running around center field of Yankee Stadium in the home white. 

*NBA GOES WILD!!!  Kobe scores 62.  Iverson goes for 53 on the same night Vince Carter hits 51.  And in a few days, Shaq and Kobe face off the same day as the Spurs and Pistons meet again.  I love this game!!!!

*NAIMSMITH'S LEAVIN'S.  The family of Dr. James Naismith is selling the original 13 rules for putting a ball in a peach basket for......$10M.

*FED EX DROPS DAUNTE.  You knows those dumb commercials in which some guys try to figure out their shipping needs and use some lame football cliche??  Then Jerome Bettis, Joe Montana or Daunte Culpepper come running out to tell them to use FedEx.  Well, Daunte ain't running out no more.  With him being charged in the Sex Cruise case....FedEx won't be using the Culpepper spot anymore. 

*THE CRAPPY BOWL SEASON BEGINS.  Don't get me wrong.  I am all for having as many bowl games as you can.  It is a great time for these kids, their alumni, the cities...and it gives these kids just one more game on a big stage.  Now, that's not to say that many people are watching.  Most people checking out the Ft Worth Bowl matchup of Kansas and Houston either (a) are fans of the schools, (b) live near Ft Worth or (c) have money on the game.  My biggest gripe is that we need a one bowl minimum for cities.  Orlando cannot have the Champs Bowl and the Citrus Bowl.  San Diego doesn't need two bowls.  Neither did New Orleans.  Why not St. Louis?  Why not Washington?  Why not New York?  Sure, DC and New York are cold weather cities...but you know that alumni won't mind traveling to those places.  And that is all a bowl game is designed to do.  Right Boise???

Thursday, December 22, 2005



I will be in Charlotte, NC for the next 10 days or excuse this blog for not being too current.  Hopefully, I can get on here from time to time and throw up a take.  Have a safe holiday season!

P.S.  That ain't my

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Holidays, Everybody!

So, the year is coming to a close...and with it I shall take a break.  I will be in Charlotte from Dec 22 until the new year is upon us.  I will probably get on the computer a bit while I am gone....check my my Pigskin Picks...among other things...but I most likely won't spend to much time doing any actual blogging.

You can see my bowl takes on this site [] and my THE VERY BEST OF SPORTZ ASSASSIN 2005 whenever you like.

But, for my last real blog entry of 2005....I want to go back and touch on and remind people what a year it was. 



*North Carolina completed their turnaround as they beat Illinois for the National Championship.  It was the first time the #1 and #2 teams met in the championship game in 27 years. 

*The Chicago White Sox win their first World Series in 88 they ran thru the Red Sox, Angels and Astros. 

*And some had the same ol' same ol'.  The New England Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls...making it their third in four years.  The San Antonio Spurs win their third title in six years in a Game 7 win over the Pistons.  USC romped Oklahoma for their 2nd straight National Championship [they go for their 3rd in a couple weeks]. 

*Afleet Alex nearly fell...yet saves himself and ends up winning the Preakness. 

*Venus Williams makes a dramatic leap back into the hearts of the tennis she wins Wimbledon. 

*Lance Armstrong won that bike race in France. 



*In the NCAA Tournament...Vermont stuns Syracuse;  Bucknell stuns Kansas;  Wisconsin-Milwaukee stuns Boston College;  West Virginia stuns Wake Forest.  Not to mention the greatest Elite 8 in tournament history.  Three of the four regional finals went into overtime...including Michigan State needing two overtimes to defeat Kentucky. 

*The National Pastime returns to the nation's capital as the Washington Nationals begin play....and had a pretty good season.   

*Little Steve Nash wins the NBA MVP award.

*London is awarded the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.   

*The Utah Utes produce the #1 overall pick in the NBA [Andrew Bogut] and NFL [Alex Smith] drafts. 

*Welcome to the NHL, Sydney Crosby!!!!



*The NHL officially cancelled the 2004-2005 season in February.  The Stanley Cup wouldn't be awarded for the first time in 86 years. 

*The NFL's Saints...the NBA's Hornets...and a host of area colleges are effected by Hurricane Katrina

*Raphael Palmeiro tests positive for a banned substance.  Period.  I don't know how more plainly I can say it. 

*Savannah State goes 0-28 in men's basketball....becoming only the2nd team in the last 50 years to go winless in a season. 

*Just days after the Pro Bowl, Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffers a mild stroke. 

*A fan in the outfield stands at Fenway Park took a swing at Gary Sheffield.

*Kellen Winslow II takes a spill on his bike and has to miss the entire 2005 NFL season. 

*Kenny Rogers goes Sean Penn and shoves around cameramen. 

*The Minnesota Vikings get busted taking a Sex Cruise.

*So do two Carolina Panther cheerleaders who got busted doing each other in a bathroom, then getting in a fight. 



*Was their anything more controvercial than Jose Canseco's book??  "Juiced:  Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big" threw steroids to the forefront of the sports world...and our elected leaders.  We even got an "apology" from Jason Giambi for....uh...well, he didn't say. 

*During their playoff win in Green Bay, the Vikings' Randy Moss "moons" the crowd after scoring a TD.  Later in the year, he tells Bryant Gumbel that he likes to toke the hippie lettuce. 

*Monday Night Football leaves ABC.  In the new TV deal....ESPN gets MNF while NBC gets the Sunday Night Game and John Madden. 

*The Anaheim Angels change their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  If you speak Spanish...then it means "The Angels Angels of Anaheim".  Nice. 

*Temple head coach John Chaney gets suspended for sending a player he dubbed a "goon" to deliberately hurt players for St. Joseph's. 

*Ricky Williams un-retires and reports back to the Miami Dolphins. 

*AJ Pierzynski is ruled safe after the home plate ump says the catcher didn't catch the called third strike.  Replays show that the ump is a moron. 

*Barry Bonds holding a news conference, on crutches, to tell everyone that he "is tired". 

*Anything involving Terrell Owens



*Jerry Rice, the greatest WR of all time, hangs 'em up.

*Rudy T re-retired from coaching in the NBA as he stepped down from the Laker job just 43 games in. 

*The NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, retires from the NFL. 

*Jack Nicklaus walked off the Masters stage for the final time. 

*Mike Tyson loses to Kevin McBride by quitting and not coming out for the 7th round.

*Reggie Miller and Karl Malone play their final games. 



*The first star of the NBA, George Mikan passes away

*Clarence "Big House" Gaines died of a stroke.  Only Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Roby Knight and Jim Phelan have more wins than him. 

*Reggie White, one of the greatest players in NFL history, died in his sleep. 

*New York Giants owners Robert Tisch and Wellington Mara both pass away within weeks of each other. 

*Hank Stram, former head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs died of complications from diabetes. 

*Max Schmelling, one of the best fighters of all time, dies in Germany. 

*Jason Collier, 28, of the Atlanta Hawks. 

*Former Redskins punter Reggie Roby passed away.  Darrell Russell, another former Redskins, dies in an automobile accident. 

*Chris Schenkel, the voice of the Olympics and the Wide World of sports. 

*Sam Mills, one of the greatest Carolina Panthers ever, died of intestinal cancer. 

*Kwane Doster, 21, a RB for Vanderbilt was killed in a drive by shooting. 

*Leavander Johnson, 35, died from injuries sustained in a boxing match with Jesus Chavez.  Martin Sanchez, 26, also dies from injuries sustained in the ring. 

*Thomas Herrion, 23, collapsed in the San Francisco 49ers locker room and later dies. 

*Former Orioles and Rangers manager Johnny Oates dies of cancer. 

*Al Lucas, 26, died from an injury sustained during an Arena Football League game. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sportz' OFFICIAL Bowl Predictions....Pt 3

MATCHUP:  Alabama v Texas Tech
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  One of the nation's best offenses [Tech] take on one of the best defenses [Bama]. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  You will be amazed at TT QB Cody Hodges.
FACTS:  Texas Tech has the #1 rated passing offense in the nation.  Two Red Raider receivers have been suspended for this game. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Texas Tech.  Alabama has been struggling to score...and there is no way that Bama can shut down Tech's offense.  That, coupled with this game essentially being played in the Red Raiders backyard...and Tech wins. 

MATCHUP:  Florida v Iowa
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Two of the top rising senior QBs....Chris Leak [who attended my high school] and Drew Tate. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:   Chris Leak, cuz I name drop him a lot in my blog. 
FACTS:  Both teams are coming off blowouts of their rivals.  These two teams met two years ago on New Years Day...with Iowa winning by 20.  This used to be the Hall Of Fame Bowl.
SPORTZ PICK:  Florida.  This game comes down to defense.  Iowa's is 94th.  Florida's is 7th.  Thank you. 

MATCHUP:  Louisville v Virginia Tech
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:   The new Big East facing an old Big East team.  Oh, and Virginia Tech trying to win a game in Jacksonville...something that if they had done a few weeks ago [in the ACC title game], they'd be in Miami's Orange Bowl instead. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Cards QB Brian Brohm.  Why?  Well, he won't be playing in this game.  The guy replacing him has only thrown 36 passes this year. 
FACTS:  Both teams figured they'd meet in the Orange Bowl.  Louisville was a heavy favorite to win the Big East in their first season.  V-Tech was a heavy favorite to beat Florida State in the inagural ACC championship game.  Neither happened. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Virginia Tech.  Their defense is too tough, especially when you don't have your QB like Louisville. 

MATCHUP:  Auburn and Wisconsin. 
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Possibly a lot of commercials with David Spade and those displaced huns trying to find new jobs.  Oh...and a lot of rushing. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Brian Calhoun led the nation with 21 rushing TDs for the Badgers. 
FACTS:  This will be Wisconsin coach Barry Alverez's final game. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Auburn.  They can run the football...and Wisconsin really isn't strong at defending that. 

MATCHUP:  Notre Dame v Ohio State
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Two of the biggest programs in college football battling in the desert. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  OSU's AJ Hawk's name will get a workout.  The linebacker should have his nose in on every defensive play for the Buckeyes. 
FACTS:  The last time Ohio State played in this bowl....they beat Miami for the National Championship.  The last time Charlie Weis coached a game in January...well, it was a blowout of Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Ohio State.  Sure, Notre Dame's offense is awesome...but so is Texas'.  And the Buckeyes did a good job at holding them at bay.  Oh, but they lost that game. 

MATCHUP:  Georgia v West Virginia
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Hopefully a bunch of reminders of the help and support still needed for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  This bowl had to be moved from New Orleans. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  The Big East.  If West Virginia gets rolled in this game...then the BCS may take away it's membership card.  With Miami, BC and V-Tech all gone...the Big East looks more like the Mountain West.  Oh, well, the Mountain West team [Utah] blew out the Big East team [Pitt] last year in the BCS. 
FACTS:  This will be Georgia's THIRD straight game in Atlanta.  They played at Georgia Tech [a win], the SEC title game was at the Georgia Dome [a win] and due to Hurricane Katrina, this bowl will be in Atlanta.  They haven't left the state to play a game since before Halloween....and that was a neutral site game against Florida in Jacksonville. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Georgia.  The Big East doesn't deserve a team in the BCS, even if the Mountaineers are 10-1. 

MATCHUP:  Florida State v Penn State
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  A team [FSU] that shocked everyone by being here against a team [Penn State] that shocked everyone by being in a bowl. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Lions QB Michael Robinson.  Dude was so maligned before the season...yet he turned in one of the best seasons in school history. 
FACTS:  This is a matchup featuring the two winningest coaches in college football.  It's like Dean Smith v Adolph Rupp. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Penn State.  They were a last second TD pass in Michigan from being a complaining party of the Rose Bowl.  Instead, they are here playing a FSU team that was dead a few weeks ago. 

MATCHUP:  Texas vs USC
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  The two best teams. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Heisman.  Two Heisman winners will be in this game.  The first time that has happened since....well, I guess since last year when USC's Matt Leinart faced Oklahoma's Jason White in the title game. 
FACTS:  USC has the top rated overall offense.  Texas is 4th.  They are #3 [Texas] and #4 in rushing. The are #1 [Texas] and #2 in points scored. 
SPORTZ PICK:  USC.  Why?  Well, I've loved Texas all year long.  Mack Brown is finally winning games that he used to lose.  But USC has been here before.  And Pete Carroll has a month to disect that Longhorns team and come up with a gameplan.  I mean, he did dismantle Oklahoma last year.  The game is in Pasadena on a field USC knows so well [they won the title in 2004 on this field].  USC 31-Texas 23

Sportz' OFFICIAL Bowl Predictions....Pt 2

MATCHUP:  Georgia Tech v Utah
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Hardly any GT fans as another western bowl game leaves fans restless. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:   Tech WR Calvin Johnson.  ACC fans know all about this guy....and hopefully the rest of the nation will know soon. 
FACTS:  In the last five years...Tech has played bowls in San Francisco, Fresno, Seattle and Boise. 
SPORTZ PICK:   Georgia Tech.  It will be a squeaker...but the better team will win.  Remember, Tech has played Miami, Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Clemson and NC State this year....and won 3 of those games.

MATCHUP:  Oklahoma v Oregon
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:   The 5th ranked team in the BCS playing before New Year's Eve.  And you'll see a team that was in the National Championship game the last two years.  The Holiday Bowl is routinely one of the most entertaining bowls to watch.  NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:    Ducks' wideout Demetrius Williams. 
FACTS:  These two are scheduled to meet again next September.  Oregon has never beaten the Sooners [0-5].
SPORTZ PICK:  Oregon.  I don't think the Ducks will fold when dumped from the BCS prom down to the Holiday Bowl.  They might be just angry enough to dominate.

MATCHUP:  Minnesota v Virginia
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  A solid defense [Virginia] trying to hold back one of the best run games [Minnesota]. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Gopher back Laurence Maroney was a name that was in the Heisman running early in the year.   He averaged 135 yards per game.   
FACTS:  Minnesota is in this bowl for the 3rd time in four years. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Minnesota.  They are the #2 team in the nation in rushing yards and will work on a defense that lost their defensive coordinator [and offensive coordinator].

MATCHUP:  Northwestern v UCLA
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Maybe the highest scoring bowl game of all time.  Both teams have great offenses and horrific defenses [N'western are rated the worst defense in the nation]. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  UCLA's QB Drew Olson will be a name to know in draft circles this spring.  He threw for over 3,000 yards and 31 TDs and only 3 picks. 
FACTS:  Wildcats' QB Brett Basanez has thrown for over 10,000 yards.  The only other active player to make that claim is Matt Leinart .
SPORTZ PICK:  UCLA.  Both teams will score...but there is a small outside chance that the Bruins can actually force a punt.  At least one. 

MATCHUP:  Missouri v South Carolina
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  An increasingly better SoCarolina defense against one of the top QBs in the country.  And Steve Spurrier in a lower-tier bowl [hey, it is still better than Tennessee].
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:   Mizz QB Brad Smith could be playing on Sundays next year. 
FACTS:  The Gamecocks have the 104th ranked offense.  Eesh.
SPORTZ PICK:  South Carolina.  The Gamecocks played Georgia and Clemson tough...and beat Florida.  Missouri couldn't stay on the field with either Texas or Colorado and padded their 6-5 record with wins over Arkansas St and Troy. 

WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  The anti-Sun Bowl.  This will be a defensive struggle as both are ranked in the top 5 in total defense. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Peach.  This is the last time the game will be known as the Peach Bowl.  Next year, it will be the Chik-fil-A Bowl.  Chik-fil-A [which is based in Atlanta and a favorite of my wife] has been a title sponsor for 9 years now. 
FACTS:  A few weeks ago...this could've been a Sugar or Orange Bowl game.  But the state of Georgia [Tech and those Dawgs] knocked them to....irony.....Atlanta.  Oh, and Atlanta was the site of the SEC title game which LSU lost.  LSU has won 14 of their last 18 games decided by a TD or less. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Miami.  Miami's defense has played very well all year long...even in their two losses.  And with LSU having QB issues, the Canes should roll. 

MATCHUP:  NC State v South Florida
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Another defensive struggle.  Not just because they are great defenses...but because the offenses aren't very good. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Andre Hall.  The USF back led the Big East in rushing. 
FACTS:  This was the Continental Tire Bowl the past couple of seasons.  And the game is in hometown. 
SPORTZ PICK:  NC State.  Well, South Florida was an also ran in the C-USA last year.  And the game is right down the road. 

MATCHUP:  Fresno State v Tulsa
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Offense.  Fresno has the 5th best offense in the nation.  Tulsa averages over 33 ppg.....and have scored at least 38 in their last four games. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Canes QB Paul Hill has turned in a whale of a sophomore season.  Over 2,600 yards and 19 TDs. 
FACTS:  Fresno gave up just 96 points in their 8 wins.  However, they gave up 165 in their 4 losses....including an average of 42.7 pts during their three-game skid. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Fresno State.  Despite their losing streak, the Bulldogs are usually one of the most lethal non-BCS conference teams. 

MATCHUP:  Iowa State v TCU
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  The best non-BCS conference team.  And a clean fight.  Both teams value the ball and don't commit many turnovers.  So if someone makes'll be huge. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  You will hear TCU's Corey Rogers' name quite a bit here. 
FACTS:  This will be a great game for the TCU will bring a local flair to the game with ISU not too far away. 
SPORTZ PICK:  TCU.  The Frogs offense has gotten better as the year has progressed and the defense did a number on that offensive minded MWC.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"How Bout Those Redskins!"



Dallas Mavericks guard Darrell Armstrong did the unthinkable.  Before his game last night with T-Wolves...Armstrong wanted to celebrated the win of his [and mine] beloved Washington Redskins over the Dallas Cowboys.

Well, in a pregame ceremony in which Devin Harris addressed the crowd to wish them a happy holiday season.....Armstrong asked for and received the mike.  He opened his mouth and said.....


Classic.  A player on a Dallas team smacking back on the Cowboys.  But neither the crowd or management were amused.  Armstrong heard a ton of boos and he was later fined $1,000 for his actions. 

For more on the story....go here: Mavs G Armstrong fined $1,000 for cheering on Redskins - NBA - Yahoo! Sports


Below is a column found here [Star-Telegram | 12/19/2005 | Humiliating defeat could linger for years] about how badly the game went from a Cowboys writer point of view.  Please....enjoy.

Humiliating defeat could linger for years

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

This could be the game that changes Cowboys history. Certainly, it has changed it for this season, at the very least.

But the fallout from Sunday's stunning and humiliating 35-7 loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field might be felt for years to come.

In what was clearly a pivotal game in the Cowboys' drive for the playoffs, they were outplayed and outcoached in every phase of the game; whipped so badly and so convincingly, at this moment it is difficult to even conceive of this team sniffing the postseason.

Considering what was at stake, it has to be the most devastating Cowboys' defeat of the Parcells' era. After he spent last week telling us how much he liked these players, they flat quit on him Sunday.

They soiled their britches.

It is fair to wonder whether such a dismal failure in such a huge game will eventually influence Parcells' decision to keep coaching beyond this season.

"You can only lose a game once," said Parcells, looking on the bright side. "We were just awful.

"We lost this one badly. Now we have to see what we can do."

Plan their January vacations is my guess.

The Cowboys now must win their final two games of the season -- at Carolina and at home against St. Louis -- to have a prayer at a wild-card spot and even that might not be enough, considering the Redskins now own the tiebreaker between them.

After what we saw Sunday, that might be little more than a pipe dream. A Michael Irvin under-the-car-seat pipe dream.

"Nobody's giving up," tight end Dan Campbell vowed in a grim and shocked Cowboys' locker room. "We're not going to roll over.

"But the way we played [Sunday], we don't even deserve to be in the playoffs."

The rolling over already happened. The question is why.

How could a team with so much on the line mount such an inexcusably pitiful effort?

"There's really no way to explain it," Keyshawn Johnson said. "I just know we got the crap beat out of us."

The offensive line should have swapped uniforms with the Redskins cheerleaders. When Torrin Tucker and company weren't being flagged for false starts and holding, they were waving pompoms at the Redskins' defenders as they rushed by.

"It seemed like they were bringing a lot of guys, you know?" tackle Rob Petitti said.

This is a line that is begging to be blown up again this next off-season. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones will have little choice but to oblige, especially if creaking Drew Bledsoe returns at quarterback.

Guard Marco Rivera was taken off on a cart with a strained neck late in the game, but he's not expected to be so immobile that he can't false start again next weekend.

"When we have penalty problems, it's always the same people," said Parcells, dismissing the 90,000-plus FedEx Field crowd as an alibi. "We didn't block them. We got overwhelmed."

Bledsoe, who was supposed to be one of the edges the Cowboys had in this game, was sacked seven times, five of them coming on the first 10 offensive plays of the second half, when Dallas was trying futilely to rally from a 28-0 deficit. He also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

Bledsoe looked old, virtually immobile and panicky in the face of the Redskins' constant pressure.

"We never thought we'd see this happen to our team," Bledsoe said. "I didn't think that this team was capable of losing a game like that."

Until he broke off a 51-yard run, his longest of the season, late in the third quarter when the Cowboys trailed 35-0, running back Julius Jones had done nothing, unless you count passes dropped and runs stuffed. He averaged 2.5 yards on his other 11 carries. Marion Barber had a meaningless 30 yards on 10 carries.

Terry Glenn, the one receiver the Cowboys have who can stretch the field, disappeared against a banged-up and depleted Washington secondary. Until the final minute of the game, he had one catch for 8 yards.

Yet, as bad as the Cowboys' offense played, you could make the argument that the defense was even worse.

It didn't come close to stopping the run.

Clinton Portis had 112 yards on 23 carries, leading a ground game that piled up 171 yards.

It couldn't begin to defend the pass.

Quarterback Mark Brunell, suffering through a wretched second half of the season until Sunday, matched his career high with four touchdown passes -- in the first half. He hadn't thrown that many TD passes since 1998.

But why wouldn't Brunell have had a good day? The Cowboys' rush didn't get to him a single time all afternoon. Number of times Brunell was hit: zero.

If there was a game-turning play, it probably came early in the second quarter with the Redskins leading by only 7-0. The 'Skins had just crossed midfield when Santana Moss broke away from cornerback Aaron Glenn inside the 5 to make a skidding, 42-yard catch at the Cowboys' 1.

If aging Joe Gibbs hadn't been dozing and had challenged the referee's spot, a review would likely have showed that Moss actually scored on the play, but it didn't matter. Three plays later, Brunell hit H-back Chris Cooley with a 2-yard touchdown pass, the second of three he caught in the first half.

"That big play that Santana made really turned the tide," safety Keith Davis said. "We haven't been beaten like this all year. Every game we've lost, we've been in right until the end.

"It puzzles me, also. I don't understand it. It's unacceptable."

Very possibly even history-changing, embarrassingly unacceptable.

Sportz' OFFICIAL Bowl Predictions....Pt 1

MATCHUP:   Arkansas State v Southern Miss
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Southern Miss is much more talented, experienced and better than the Indians.  The Eagles easily won the New Orleans bowl last year over North Texas.  This will be an excellent building block for Arkansas State, however...who have wins this season over Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Tenn-Martin and La-Lafayette. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  ASU's Antonio Warren.  He's rushed for over 3,000 yards in his career.
FACTS:  This game will be played in Lafayette due to the damage done to the Superdome due to Hurricane Katrina.  Arkansas State is making their first ever bowl appearance. 
SPORTZ PICKSouthern Miss romps. 

WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Two QBs that you may end up seeing in the NFL someday.  Toledo's Bruce Gradowski and UTEP's Jordan Palmer love to light up the scoreboard.  And both defenses tend to allow that to happen. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Gradowski could be the next great MAC quarterback in the NFL. 
FACTS:  UTEP head coach Mike Price will be coaching in Alabama for the first time since getting fired after the entire "stripper" scandal a few years ago.  Jordan Palmer is the little brother of the Bengals' Carson Palmer. 
SPORTZ PICK:  UTEP.  It's a magical year for the Palmers....and the Miners defense is a bit better than the Rockets.   

MATCHUP:  BYU v California
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  A team full of Mormons in Las Vegas for a week.  Classic!!! 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  BYU QB John Beck.  He may be a name to remember in the future. 
FACTS:  Cal is still the last team to beat USC.  That should count for something!  This thing used to be the California Bowl before moving to Vegas. 
SPORTZ PICK:  California.  BYU's defense just isn't very good....and maybe Cal can take advantage of that.   

MATCHUP:  Colorado State v Navy
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Navy try run the football down the Rams' throats.  Colorado State has one of the nation's worst run defenses. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Navy QB Lamar Owens leads the Navy option attack. 
FACTS:  CSU won't underestimate playing an they deal with Air Force every year.  Also, Navy is traveling from Maryland all the way to San Diego....where there will be quite a contigent of Naval fans at the game.  This is the first ever Poinseitta Bowl.  And I award this bowl as the Worst Sponsorship: San Diego Credit Union.  Yikes!
SPORTZ PICK:  Navy.  Dude...the best running team against one of the worst!!

MATCHUP:  Houston v Kansas
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Houston's high octane offense against Kansas' tough nosed defense. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Houston QB Kevin Kolb broke David Klingler's school record of total yards.   
FACTS:  Houston hasn't won a bowl game since the Garden State Bowl in 1980. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Houston.  I think their defense can hold up the Jayhawks' offense.  Oh, and cuz the game is in Texas. 

MATCHUP:  Central Florida v Nevada
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  A bunch of grown men wearing flower shirts and leis while you are freezing your butt off waitingto open presents.  Oh, and Nevada run the football with BJ Mitchell and Robert Hubbard. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Nevada's Mitchell led the Western Athletic Conference in rushing. 
FACTS:  UCF is making their first bowl appearance....all the more amazing since they lost every game in 2004.  Nevada has played in 5 bowl games....including the 1947 Salad Bowl.  Yeah.
SPORTZ PICK:  Nevada.  They can run the football and UCF isn't exactly a stellar defensive team.

MATCHUP:  Akron v Memphis
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  For the first time this season...two good teams at Ford Field.  Also, Akron's unis look a bit too similar to the St. Louis Rams. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Memphis back DeAngelo Williams.  A preseason dark horse for the Heisman will be peddling his wares in the NFL next year. 
FACTS:  Akron [where Charlie Frye was last year] is making their first bowl appearance. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Memphis.  I've been a fan of Williams for a couple of years now and this is Memphis' third straight bowl game. 

MATCHUP:  Clemson v Colorado
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  A Colorado team that just got pasted in their last two games and have since canned their coach. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:   Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst will be playing his final game for the Tigers.  What, is his 10 years of eligibility up already???
FACTS:  Colorado lost their last two games 30-3 to Nebraska and 70-3 to Texas.  This was formerly the Tangerine Bowl. 
SPORTZ PICK:   Clemson.  Colorado is in shambles and are just trying to hold this thing together until the next semester starts.  Clemson has lost 2 games in overtime and their 2 other games by an average of 2.5 pts.  ACC baby!

MATCHUP:  Arizona State v Rutgers
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Arizona State basically playing a home game. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  ASU wideout Derek Hagan. 
FACTS:  This will be Rutgers first bowl game in 27 years.  And they need to perform well for the betterment of the Big East conference.  The university is giving $300 stipends to students who want to make the trip to Tempe.  This thing used to be the Copper Bowl a long while back. 
SPORTZ PICK:  Arizona State.  Hey, they are at home.

MATCHUP:  Boise State v Boston College
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  That ugly blue turf.  Probably some snowflakes.  Dan Hawkins final game as coach of BSU [he's heading to Colorado].  And me wondering why there is a bowl game in Idaho. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  QB Jared Zabransky hasn't had the great season at Boise as many hoped. 
FACTS:  Boise State has won 31 straight games at this stadium.   Boston College has won 5 straight bowl games.  BC got the first disadvantage from being an ACC the southern bowls all passed on BC to take a closer draw.  This used to be the Humanitarian Bowl.
SPORTZ PICK:  Boise State.  They are just sooo good at home.  On that blue turf.  And in the cold.


MATCHUP:  Michigan v Nebraska
WHAT YOU WILL SEE:  Two of the greatest programs in the history of college football on the same field for the first time in 20 years.  Two bad the teams aren't that good. 
NAME YOU SHOULD REMEMBER:  Chad Henne.  The Michigan QB has gotten a lot of grief this year but he's turned in quite a nice effort.  This may be a game that launches him into the limelight of 2006. 
FACTS:  Michigan is the winningest program in college football history.  Nebraska is #4.    Nebraska has...I can't believe I am saying this...the 112th rated rushing offense in the nation. 
SPORTZ PICK:   Michigan.  Hey, I picked this team to be in the Rose Bowl this year.  So, I obviously think too highly of them.