Monday, January 17, 2011

Ryan Won't Have To Pull His Foot From His Own Mouth

There is no doubting that Rex Ryan intentionally stirred the pot last week before his underdog New York Jets visited Foxboro to take on the mighty (ahem) New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs.  He called the matchup "personal" between Bill Belichick and himself.  His players followed suit, at times crossing the line, at least in my opinion.  I didn't think it was necessary, but Ryan did.

He was right.

On the first Sunday of December the Jets were humbled by the Pats by a final of 45-3.  I figured that was enough motivation, and maybe it was.  Now that the Jets have moved on to face Pittsburgh in the AFC title game, I get just about everything Ryan was doing, and why he felt the way he did.

Let's remember that New York beat New England back in September.  Let's remember that the Jets are a good young football team.  Let's remember that Rex's dad Buddy was not known as the most pleasant coach the NFL has ever seen.  When you stop and look at those facts and put them into context with a 42 point drubbing, you realize why it was personal.  Ryan clearly felt Belichick piled on in December, and he did all he felt was necessary to make sure his team - and the rest of us - felt the same way.

Well done coach.

I still think it was over the top, and I still feel I wouldn't have done the same thing if given the opportunity.  That said, it worked.  Quite well too.  So kudos to the Jets.  They're where they wanted to be.

Now to see if they poke the Steelers with the same stick they used last week.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Snow Day

Big day here in South Carolina's capital city. Snow continues to fall at a rather brisk rate, and as of 9 am we've got about three inches on the ground. My girls are gearing up for a big day out in it.

I've got a show this afternoon ( yes, I called the boss to make sure!) that will focus on tonight's BCS title game. We'll also look back at the NFL weekend and the opening of conference play across the ACC and SEC.

That said, it's a snow day in an area that doesn't get much, so I know where everybody's REAL interests will be! Have fun, stay home, build a fire if you can and enjoy some hot chocolate.

A piece of advice, though: stay off the roads if you can. There's always some yahoo driver who will treat today as any other out there. You'll see their picture on the cover of tomorrow's paper.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Andrew Luck debate shouldn't even exist

About 12 years ago, a close friend of mine quit smoking cigarettes.  It was, I believe, a very smart move on his part.  Another friend - a smoker - told him one day "I can't believe you quit.  You like it so much."  Translation: "I'd never quit, so why did you?"

The same scenario seems to be playing out across the country in reaction to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's decision to remain in school, complete his degree in architectural design and enter the draft (presumably) in 2012.  Those who would bolt for the money ASAP are nearly incredulous in their reaction.  To them, it's ALL about the money.  Nothing else matters.  How sad.

Luck just completed his redshirt sophomore season with the Cardinal and had already been projected as the top pick in this year's NFL Draft.  His father Oliver is a former NFL QB and is currently Athletics Director at West Virginia.  His head coach is Jim Harbaugh, another former NFL QB who's been in the news as much as any American politician this week.  Andrew has received excellent counsel from both and has made a rare, surprising and, in this guy's opinion, very welcome decision.  He likes school and is staying put.  Well done young man.

That's where this debate should end, but it hasn't.

This story broke about halfway through our show Thursday.  Michael and I both agreed this was a great choice.  We also agreed that had Luck elected to go pro that too would've been a wise move.  He simply couldn't go wrong.  Degree from Stanford in four years?  Worth millions to him, just like an NFL contract. Plus, from a football perspective, he'll be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, come back to a team that lost just once and returns the bulk of its starting lineup.  We should all be so fortunate to have that type of "backup plan."

However, as time passed yesterday it became apparent that many found his decision foolish and misguided.  "What if he gets hurt?"  "Is he doing this to avoid the Panthers?"  My answers: what if he does and no.  He's doing it because he's a fine student at one of the most respected universities on the planet.  He likes college, his team, his friends and simply wants to finish what he started.  Refreshing in this day and age.

Don't get it twisted here.  If a college underclassman is ready, projected as a high draft pick and decides to bolt a year or two early then good for him.  I'd never be one to stand in the way.  What I don't understand is the vilification of a 20 year old who actually highlights the student portion of "student-athlete."  How is that bad?

Most people get it and are happy for him.  The ones who think he's foolish, stupid or worse; the ones who'd do it just for money and nothing else are very loud today.  That's too bad.  The world could probably use a few more Andrew Lucks, but the ones that need him most would never follow his lead.

Maybe they'd be happier following Ryan Leaf.  How's he doing these days?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Sugar Bowl is over and I'm still mad

Get over it.  Move on.  Worry about today.

We all tell ourselves, and each other, these types of things when something troublesome is behind us.  We want to change it.  We want someone - anyone - to listen to our concerns and (sorry Spike) "do the right thing."

It rarely happens.  Case in point: last night's Sugar Bowl.

By now we all know the story of Ohio State's "Tat Five" and the NCAA's subsequent "handling" of their case.  I for one had hoped Jim Tressel would give us even an ounce of honor and courage and sit the kids for at least a quarter, but their pledge to return and face the suspensions was obviously more than enough for the Buckeyes' head coach.

Maybe Dan Herron and Terrelle Pryor will miss the first five games of their NFL team's season next year instead. (Cue sitcom laugh track)  I know I'm being overly cynical, but the NCAA forced my hand by telling me their decision was based on the best interests of the student athletes and had nothing - NOTHING - to do with commerce.

(Hang on, the NCAA real estate division just called to offer me beach front land in Kansas)

Seriously, here's my biggest problem: what happens next?  Will all five stay in Columbus?  I'll believe it when I see it.  What about the next school to face a similar circumstance?  If they don't generate headlines (and dollars) like Ohio State or Alabama, judgement will be swift - and unfair.

Good luck moving forward NCAA.  You've shackled yourself to a bad ruling and lost a lot of credibility in the process.  Worst of all, you're good with it.  But hey, at least you can now tell the millions who feel like I do to get over it, move on and worry about today, which is always easier than dealing with the issue itself.

Alright, I'm off to ride unicorns near my new beach house in Kansas.

(Have more to add?  Let me know what you think.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hope Gurley makes it...Harbaugh getting richer every day

A couple of quick things...

Had a brief discussion on yesterday's show about Gamecocks WR Tori Gurley's decision to give up his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.  While I do believe this particular decision is different from other recent early departures from Carolina's program, it's still a head scratcher.  The reason?  Gurley is unlikely to be drafted.

Several sources close to the team that I spoke with all believe Tori to be a fine young man with a good head on his shoulders, but all advised him to play just one more season in what should be an even better offense.  To the cynics who believe USC's "advice" is being given selfishly, you're wrong.  Receiver may be the deepest unit the team has, with Alshon Jeffery, Ace Sanders, DL Moore, Jason Barnes and Lamar Scruggs all returning.  Gurley won't be missed much at all, but HE will miss out on guaranteed playing time as one of the top two targets at USC.  There are NO guarantees in the NFL if you don't go in the top half of the draft.

In Tori's defense, I understand that he's 23, will turn 24 during the 2011 season and is already four years out of high school.  He's ready to earn a living.  I sincerely hope he makes it, but even one more year of polishing his game on a good team would go a long way.

The opposite is true in the case of Stanford head football coach Jim Harbaugh, who will never have a better time to jump to the NFL.  As I type, reports out of Miami say the Dolphins would be interested in hiring him, bringing the KNOWN total of interested pro teams to four.  That list also includes the Forty Niners, the Broncos and the Panthers (laughable to some, but he played there for a bit).

As more teams throw their hats in his ring, the annual salary increases and the odds of him returning to Michigan as HC decrease.  The only caveat is this: if (and it's a big if) he really WANTS the Michigan job he'll take it despite not being able to earn as much money.  While the Wolverines would have no problem making him the highest paid coach in college football, the number they can produce will still be far less than what a motivated NFL team will offer.

Gonna be fun to watch this story play out this week.  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Thoughts (and they're not all happy!)

First, Happy New Year to all.  It's been FAR too long since I was here last, and I'm resolving to post more often.  I'd get into everything else that tugs at my time, but what's the point?  We're all busy.  That said, time to take a quick look at what we'll be discussing on this week's shows:

1) The Gamecocks lost another bowl game under Steve Spurrier.  Good news and bad news here.  The good: Carolina's been bowl eligible each season under the HBC and just completed its seventh consecutive season of .500 or better football.  That's a big deal here.  The bad: they're 1-4 in bowl games under Spurrier and arguably haven't played great in any of them.

While the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at least featured a Gamecocks squad that fought through a rough first half to make it a more compelling contest, the bottom line is that the player (and position) most associated with Spurrier - QB Stephen Garcia - had another poor performance.  Why?  Spurrier said in postgame comments that Stephen would have to answer that.  Garcia's response?  He said he wouldn't change his approach at all, he simply was off just a bit.

Fans don't want to hear that...again.

2) Maryland hires Randy Edsall to replace Ralph Friedgen.  Solid hire.  Proven winner.  As exciting as dry toast.  Edsall would be great at tons of schools, but supposedly part of the problem at UM was a waning fan base even during a solid eight-win regular season.  The DC/Baltimore metro area is a professional sports market.  It's major college sports focus is on the basketball squads at Maryland and Georgetown.  College football?  Call them when you're undefeated.

If you're competing for football attention, overcoming the popularity of the Redskins and Ravens is a tall order.  Edsall will make real Terp fans feel fine, but he is not the type of personality to make local area NFL fans take notice.  A big name can sometimes make a difference, and, in my opinion Maryland didn't go big enough.

3) NFL owners are in a firing mood.  As I'm writing this, Eric Mangini has been fired in Cleveland, Marvin Lewis - he of the ten game losing streak - is making demands on the Brown family in Cincy, Tony Sparano is on edge in Miami and even Tom Coughlin of the 10-6 (but missed the playoffs) Giants could be unemployed by week's end.  Add that to what we already know and nearly half the league will be looking for new on-field leaders this offseason.  Wow.  And we thought players were going to have it rough because of the impending labor deal deadline.

That's just a little of what's on tap.  There's a lot of other college football news to get to, including assistant coaching moves at Clemson, Florida and other schools.  2011 is beginning with plenty to discuss.

Again, a very Happy New Year to all.  Thanks for being part of the show, whether it's on air, here, Twitter or Facebook.  We appreciate it.

Thanks as well from my family to all who sent their holiday greetings our way, it truly means a lot.

2010 was a great year on many levels.  Here's hoping 2011 will be even better.