Archive for December, 2009

WATERCOOLER CHAT: HEISMAN WINNER, STILL TWO UNBEATENS

FOOTBALL

Mark IngramIt was Heisman Trophy weekend — an award given to the best player in college football.  And this year was the the closest race they’ve had in 75 years of Heisman history.  The contenders.   Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Texas quarter back Colt McCoy, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, and Nebraska Defensive End Ndamukong Suh (who will most likely be the #1 pick in the draft).  And the award went to a true first.  The University of Alabama (one of the most storied histories in college football with 12 National Championships) has never had a Heisman winner.  That all changed Saturday when Mark Ingram took home the statue after a tearful acceptance speech.  Congratulations to Mark and Alabama, who are on the brink of winning their 13th National Championship.

In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints got a scare last weekend against Washington, having to win in overtime.  Well, this week, they got yet another scare from out of the blue.  Atlanta has been average this season, and they just recently lost their star quarterback, Matt Ryan, to turf toe.  His back-up Chris Redman stepped in and had a terrific game throwing for 303 yards and a touchdown.  They even had the game tied in the 4th quarter.  However, Drew Brees and the Saints had no intention of losing.  They marched down the field, setting up a 38-yard game winning field goal from Garrett Hartley.  The Falcons had one last chance, but couldn’t do anything with it.  With this, the Saints move to 13-0. New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23.

Brandon MarshallElsewhere in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts were looking to defend their unbeaten record as well.  But they played host to a very tough Denver Broncos team.   This game saw Brandon Marshall break an NFL record.  He finished with 21 receptions 200 yards and 2 touchdowns.  With those amazing stats, he is now the only player in NFL history to finish with over 18 receptions in one game TWICE in his career.  Spectacular.  However, on the whole, the Colts were just too much for the Broncos, and Peyton Manning was on fire 220 yards and 4 touchdowns (although he did throw 3 picks).  And with the win, the Colts stay perfect at 13-0.  Indianapolis 28, Denver 16.

Now that the Saints and Colts have each, essentially, locked up home field advantage… how should they proceed? Traditional strategy suggests that they should rest their strong players so they’re at full strength for the playoffs.  However, both teams WANT to finish undefeated.  It’s never been done during a 16 game season (the Pats did it, but didn’t win the Super Bowl).  If they rest Manning and Brees, it’s likely they will drop a game.  If they keep them out there, they could exhaust or get injured prior to the playoffs.  But wouldn’t it be great to see two undefeated teams play in the Super Bowl.  An instant classic for sure.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BROWNS STUNNING WIN, CELTS 9TH WIN

FOOTBALL

Oh my, oh my, oh my.  Thursday Night Football featured an inter-division match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns have been awful this season, marked by a confused offense.  However, nobody expected the Browns to be any good, so this comes as no surprise.  The Steelers, on the other hand, are the defending Super Bowl champions.  People expected the world.  Pittsburgh has been on a losing streak lately, and if they wanted to make the playoffs, they needed to nab the easy victory against a 1-win Cleveland team.  Could they do it?

Ben Roethlisberger.JPGWell, it was a blistery cold night in Cleveland, and in these conditions it’s sort of anybody’s games.  Even the adrenaline and body heat of the players couldn’t alleviate the affects of the weather.  And boy did the Browns take advantage of that.  Their defense came out fierce, and intended to destroy the Steelers.  Mission accomplished.  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked, count ’em, 8 times by the Browns. They smothered him.  Brady Quinn was horrible too for the Browns, but they got a rushing touchdown and two field goals to edge the victory.  Wow.  With this upset win, the Steelers playoffs hopes are almost certainly over.  Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the Boston Celtics looked to nab their ninth straight win. They would take on an unpredictable Washington Wizards team in the nation’s capital.  The Wizards have had an odd season.  Sometimes they get crushed by bad teams, then they show up two nights later and take a title contender to the wire.  Last night was no different, as the Wizards came out ready.  Their star Gilbert Arenas was in true form again with 25 points and 8 assists, and the game came down to the closing minutes.  But, good teams are good for a reason, and the hero of the night was the Celtics Rajon Rondo who slammed home a game-winning dunk.  The Wizards had one last chance, but Arenas couldn’t hit the final shot, and the Celtics extend their win streak to 10 games.  Boston 104, Washington 102.

And in college basketball, another nine game streak was on the line as undefeated #6 Syracuse took on #11 Florida.  However, unlike the Celtics, Syracuse is protecting a perfect record.  Well, their star, Rick Jackson, helped them get the job done.  He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Syracuse Orange keep their streak going too.  The good news for Florida — they have a strong team again after a 2 year absence from owning college basketball for two straight seasons.  Syracuse 85, Florida 73.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MEMPHIS ON WIN STREAK, CURTIS TO YANKS, NOTRE DAME’S NEW COACH

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, LeBron James and the Cavs have been on the upswing lately.  Last night they played a pedestrian game against an average Memphis Grizzlies team.  However, keep in mind that the Grizz were on a 2-game winning streak (that’s a lot for them) and ready for anything.  Welll, the Grizzlies drove the Cavs to the brink, and even drove it to overtime.  And in the OT period, with just 3 seconds remaining, Memphis guard Mike Conley hit an acrobatic lay-up to take a one-point lead.  LeBron took one last shot for the Cavs, but no luck, and the Grizzlies pulled the upset.  That’s 3 straight for Memphis.  Memphis 111, Cleveland 109.

BASEBALL

Curtis GrandersonThe Yankees are about to land their first big free agent of the off-season.  As many know, once a player becomes established, the Yankees come fishing.  The current catch:  Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers.  Granderson was an all-star this past season, and is a speedy lead-off hitter and center fielder that would give the Yanks yet another weapon.  Additionally, the Yankees might lose either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui.  They will likely make them an offer, and if Damon and Matsui don’t accept, the Yankees will just reload.  That’s just how it works in New York.

FOOTBALL

Brian Kelly.JPGAnd finally, as reported yesterday, Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly was set to meet with Notre Dame.  Kelly never said he “wanted” the job, but was willing to “entertain” Notre Dame’s request.  Now, it looks like this possibility is heating up.  Many sources are saying that Notre Dame will likely choose their new head coach before the end of the week, and if that’s Kelly, he will not coach in the Sugar Bowl against Florida.  This is unfortunate considering that this is when the Bearcats will need him most, but with new, higher-paying jobs come some sacrifices.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PACKERS WIN BIG ONE ON MNF, NOTRE DAME COACHING JOB UP FOR GRABS, 911 CALL FROM TIGER’S HOUSE

FOOTBALL

Aaron RodgersIn the NFL, Monday Night Football featured a match-up of two teams needing a win for playoff hopes:  The Baltimore Ravens and The Green Bay Packers.  Both teams were heavily touted in the pre-season, but have had lukewarm performances.  The Packers played host at Lambeau Field, and they got the job done.  Aaron Rodgers threw for 263 yards and 3 Touchdown passes (two of which to up-and-coming Tight End JerMichael Finley).  The Ravens, on the other hand, couldn’t get much done.  Their quarterback, Joe Flacco threw 3 picks, and Ray Rice, their star running-back, had only 54 yards on the ground (and no touchdowns).  With this win, the Packers look like they could slide into the playoffs and possibly even pull an upset.  Green Bay 27, Baltimore 14.

Jim Harbaugh.JPGAnd in college football, it looks like Notre Dame will talk with Cincy coach Brian Kelly tomorrow.  Kelly has an impressive record with Cincinnati, and would fit the Irish head-coaching mold quite well. This is Kelly’s chance to really wow Notre Dame’s program, and he will do his best to sell himself tomorrow.   However, there is one other candidate they are seriously looking into:  Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh.  Harbaugh had a terrific season with Stanford, highlighted by a mauling of USC.  With Kelly, however, he has to prepare for a BCS bowl game.  If Kelly takes the job, there’s a chance he won’t even coach that BCS game against Florida.  We’ll see how this unfolds.

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it was time for the triumphant comeback of Allen Iverson in Philadelphia.  Everyone knows the Sixers brought in Iverson primarily to sell tickets, but some hoped Iverson still might have some gas in the tank and reignite an exciting young Sixers team. And they played one of Iverson’s former teams, the Denver Nuggets (where Iverson was also supposed to be a savior a few seasons ago).  Well, to be honest, Iverson had a pretty good game.  He had 11 points and 6 assists, and even grabbed a couple boards.  However, the Nuggets were just too strong, led by Chauncey Billups (Iverson’s replacement) with 34 points.  Don’t worry Sixers fans, it will probably take a few games for Philly to jell.  Denver 93, Philadelphia 83.

GOLF

Tiger and ElinWell, the Tiger Woods saga continues. There is a report that Tuesday early morning (around 2:30 am), a 911 call came in from Tiger’s home and a silver haired woman was whisked to the hospital followed by a black Escalade driven by someone that could have been his wife. This Tiger Woods thing just keeps getting more and more bizarre and the one thing we do know is it’s not going away anytime soon so stay tuned…..

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, STILL TWO UNBEATENS IN NFL

FOOTBALL

It was Championship weekend in college football, and invitations to the BCS National Championship were at stake.  Essentially, there were 4 possible teams who could play for the National Championship.  #1 Alabama, #2 Florida, #3 Texas, and #4 Cincinnati.  Up first… Cincy.

They played a hard fought, back-and-forth battle with rival Pitt in the Big East Championship, but with under two minutes to play, after Pitt had just missed a crucial extra point, quarterback Brian Pike and the Cincy Bearcats battled back.  Then Pike hit Armon Binns for a 29-yard touchdown pass to win the game.  Wow!  With the win, Cincinnati kept their championship hopes alive, but, essentially, they needed Nebraska to beat Texas in the Big 12 Championship.  Cincy 45, Pitt 44.

Mark IngramHowever, next up was the much anticipated SEC Championship between #1 Florida and #2 Alabama.  Both teams were undefeated and the winner was headed to the BCS Championship.  This was also a rematch of last year’s SEC Championship, and this year, Alabama was looking for revenge.  However, Tim Tebow was on a quest to win, count ’em, 3 National Championships in 4 years, and most likely be dubbed the best college player ever.  Well… wouldn’t happen.  Alabama came out swingin’, and Tebow was held in check.  Tebow even botched two crucial possessions that would have put Florida back in the game.  No, the star of the game was Alabama’s Heisman candidate — running-back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and 3 Touchdowns.  And Alabama is off to Pasadena for the big game.  Alabama 32, Florida 13.

Colt McCoySo… would they face the winner of Texas/Nebraska or the underdog candidate Cincinnati.  Well, most thought the Texas/Nebraska game in Dallas would be an easy Texas victory.  Their potent offense would probably be held in check due to Nebraska’s tenacious defense, but the Longhorns were expected to win handily.  This is not what happened.  Instead, it was a low-scoring affair, and Nebraska took a 12-10 lead with just 1:44 remaining.  Texas got the ball back, but struggled to produce.  Then, Texas QB Colt McCoy hit Jordan Shipley for a big gain to put the Longhorns in long field goal range.  But, when they attempted to move the ball closer, McCoy looked loopy and threw the ball out of bounds with just 2 seconds left, and the clock went to 0 seconds.  Was the game over?  Did Texas lose on an error?  The CornHuskers rushed the field, but, fortunately for Texas, the ref waved them away.  The lucky Longhorns would get to attempt a game winning field goal that would send them to Pasadena for the BCS Championship.  And… Hunter Lawrence hit a beautiful 46 yard field goal (hard for college) to win the game.  Texas 12, Nebraska 10.

So it will be Alabama/Texas for the big game NEXT year on Thursday January 7th.

Drew BreesAnd in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were hoping to both go 12-0.  That’s incredible that two teams still remain unbeaten at this point.  The Colts won handily against Tennessee, but the Saints had a huge struggle with a feisty Washington Redskin team.  The Skins led almost the entire game, but Drew Brees worked his magic at the end and tied the game at 30 (primarily because Washington missed a crucial extra point).  And in overtime, the Saints methodically moved the ball down the field, and kicked an easy game-winning field goal.  Ladies and gentleman, the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS are 12-0.  Think about that.  New Orleans 33, Washington 30.  Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 17.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NETS HORRIFIC, IVERSON TO 76ERS, ARTEST DRUNK DURING GAMES

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, the New Jersey Nets have been perfectly horrific this season.  They are 0-17.  What’s odd about this is that they weren’t predicted to be bad.  If anything, some expected them to sneak into the playoffs this season.  They acquired Devin Harris last year, and he looked primed for a great career.  Their top pick, 7’0 Brook Lopez, was one of the best rookies last season.  They could only improve, right?  Well, last night they hoped to get their first win against the Dallas Mavericks.  They started out strong, and Chris Douglas-Roberts (former Memphis star) gave them a solid night with 24 points, but they completely fell apart in the second half.  The Mavs took advantage, and cruised to a victory.  The Nets are now a franchise record bad 0-18.  Dallas 117, New Jersey 101.

Elsewhere in the NBA, it’s official — Allen Iverson has avoided retirement, and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.  This is less about what Iverson can do to help them win, and more about spiking ticket sales.  The Sixers have been average this season, 29th in the league in attendance, so waving the Iverson glory days around might fill some seats….out of curiosity if nothing else.  We’ll see how this experiment works out.

Ron ArtestAnd in another fun NBA story, bad-boy Ron Artest made a very interesting public admission yesterday.  He said that he used to drink alcohol during games when he played with the Chicago Bulls.  Wow, now that’s incredible.  Artest said he used to walk to local liquor stores at halftime and buy Hennessy.  He even kept it in his locker.  Artest did emphasize that he “USED” to do it, implying he doesn’t drink at halftime anymore.  His reason:  It was tough to handle all the losing.  The Bulls weren’t very good at the time.  Oddly, coming from Artest, this all seems less shocking.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: ALLEN IVERSON MIGHT BE A 76ER, TIGER WOODS DRAMA

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, it looks like Allen Iverson’s career might not be over.  Last week he retired from basketball because, simply, he couldn’t find a job; no team wanted him.  Well, he has been having some closed door talks with the Philadelphia 76ers (the team he made his name with), and they are offering him a 1-year contract.  Iverson hasn’t taken it yet, but this reunion sure is exciting.  If there’s any team for Iverson to make a heroic exit with, it’s the Sixers.  They have a nice young team, and he could be the leadership they need.

In college basketball the rematch of last year’s National Championship game between the #11 North Carolina Tar Heels and the #9 Michigan State Spartans proved exciting.  These teams have quite different rosters than last season, but the coaches, Tom Izzo (State) and Roy Williams (UNC) remain the same.  The game was at North Carolina, and that should tell you something.  The Tar Heels were all over the Spartans in the first half, and Ed Davis was the hero (22 points on the night).  In the second, State’s Raymar Morgan put up a nice effort, even slamming home a beautiful dunk, but the TarHeels were just too much.  UNC 89, Michigan State 82.

GOLF

Tiger and ElinIn the Tiger Woods drama, the latest is that the police have ruled that no alcohol was involved in his car crash, but he will be issued a fine of $164 and four points against his license.  However, there appears to be a new conspiracy to the story involving a night club waitress who said she’s been having an affair with Woods.  Perhaps this story is coincidental to his high press right now, and not too many details are known, but people sure are curious.  The police have said they are done with the case, but the tabloids are all over this story.  Expect to hear about it on TMZ for awhile…or until some other athlete gets in trouble.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: SAINTS STILL UNDEFEATED, BOBBY BOWDEN RETIRING, CHARLIE WEIS GONE

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it was the most anticipated Monday Night Football game of the year.  The New Orleans Saints have had an incredible undefeated season, but even 5 weeks ago, everyone was talking about how that streak could abruptly come to an end when they play the New England Patriots.   How would the Saints fare?

Pierre ThomasThe answer:  Just fine.  New Orleans took care of business and protected their Superdome turf.  From the outset, the Saints came out slinging.  In the second quarter alone, Drew Brees threw 3 touchdown passes (to Pierre Thomas, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem).  Surprisingly, Tom Brady wasn’t even the Patriots best offensive player.  That was Laurence Maroney with 64 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Pats.  Brady threw for just 237 yards, and had two interceptions to boot.  Drew Brees on the other hand… wow!   He passed for 371 yards and 5 TOUCHDOWNS!!!  If the Saints can handle the Pats this easily, you have to assume they are Super Bowl bound.  That is, if Brett Favre and the Vikings don’t stand in their way.  New Orleans 38, New England 17.

Elsewhere, a major legend is stepping down in the college football world.  It appears that Florida State head coach, Bobby Bowden, is finally retiring after 34 years as head coach at Florida State.  It was Bowden who put the Seminoles on the map.   And during the ’90s and early part of this decade, the Seminoles were one of the top 5 teams almost every year.  The name “Bowden” became synonymous with college football, as even his sons became head coaches.  His 388 victories trail only Penn State’s Joe Paterno, who’s still coaching in his 80s.  Farewell to a terrific football mind.

Charlie WeisFinally, there was another exit in the college football coaching ranks, but this one… not by choice.  Notre Dame has decided to part ways with head coach Charlie Weis.  Weis, former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots in their glory days, was brought in to be the savior of the Irish.  His first season was brilliant, and he led them to a BCS Bowl Game.  From then on, however, Notre Dame has been terrible.  This year was a bit of a turn around, but they still finished 6-6.  This of course jump starts one of sports radio’s favorite topics:  Notre Dame coaching speculation, as it is still one of the most powerful positions in sports.  To be sure, anybody who ever wanted to coach football dreamed standing on the sidelines at Notre Dame.

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