Miami wins!

Miami of Ohio didn't just win the MAC, they left no doubt who the best team in the conference is. Ben Roethlisberger also showed that he's just as good as any QB in the nation, passing for over 300 yards. In the first half. For all ofthe talk about TCU this year, the Redhawks were clearly the best non-BCS team this season. It's a shame they aren't getting top billing for winning their conference last night.

Give them credit. This is a really godo team.
posted by Poseur 12/05/2003 12:57:00 PM

Francona named leader of Red Sox Nation

The new skipper is a players' guy and we all understand that you have to be something of a players' guy in 2003 because the old ways of Dick Williams and Dallas Green wouldn't work today. But Pete Carroll and Butch Hobson were two local top guns who got shot down because they treated their players like men and the young men walked all over them. Francona shared the same reputation when he managed the Phillies and many of his comments yesterday indicate that he'll be plenty receptive when Manny calls to say he flew home to Florida because his mom needs a ride to church.

Managing the Red Sox in 2004 promises to be one of the great challenges in hardball history. The team is loaded with talent, but nothing short of a World Series victory will satisfy the championship-starved fandom. Francona said he welcomes the expectations. He said he loves the passion and he welcomed the inevitable second-guessing.

The Red Sox fans don't demand a World Series title, they just don't want one to be cruelly ripped away. It's okay to lose in the ALCS, so long as it isn't to the Yankees, but you can't self-implode. Yes, it's a high-pressure job, but it's also high-reward. Win the World Series and acheive immortality. not even the Yankees can offer that.

Getting Schilling doesn't hurt.

posted by Poseur 12/05/2003 12:47:00 PM


College football reveiw


Some would argue UVa is the disappointment, but I wasn't real high on them in the preseason and 7-5 is a nice solid year. State, however, was good enough to win the conference, and didn't even bother to show up. Actually, the whole conference took the year off, save FSU. It was just a brutal year as no team really had a good year. Outside of FSU and maybe Duke, no team met their preseason goals. None.

As for the last week of games, the last two minutes of the third quarter of Maryland-Wake was one of the most exciting stretches of football ever. I lost track of how many times they scored, but it was pretty fun to watch long TD run after long TD run. Wake's players had the Mike Corleone face from Godfather III: everyt time they thought they were out, they got dragged in again. I would say something about the Florida-FSU game, but I'm afraid the officials might blow the whistle to early. No one call was obviously wrong at the time of the call (while on replay, many calls were obviously wrong), but every single close call seemed to go against Florida. The worst was when the Noles turned the ball over three times on one drive, but none of them counted, and they eventually scored a TD on a bobbled catch. We'll let the players post-game actions serve as a commentary on the whole game.

SURPRISE: West Virginia
FELL FLAT: Virginia Tech

OK, Miami saved us all from a ridiculous tiebreaker by simply dismantling Pittsburgh, but is Walt Harris aware that Fitzgerald is on his team? How can you not throw the ball to him early and often, particularly as the score got out of hand? I'm completely baffled.

VT simply gave up on the season. I know Beamer has done wonders up in Blacksburg, but this is the third straight year the Hokies have put forth no effort in the month of November. It's one thing to lose, it's quite another to simply quit, and that's what they've done. It's time to put a little pressure on that staff, who seem to have grown complacent, happy to go 8-4 every year. And let's note the ressurection of West Virginia, led by the best player you don't know about, Quincy Wilson. They are co-champs and Rodriguez deserves tons of credit for turning things around so quickly. now, if he could opnly find a conference to play in.

CHAMP: Michigan
SURPRISE: Michigan St

Seriously, 1-7 in conference play? 1-7?! Jesus, even Indiana went 1-7. That's not acceptable for any team, much less Penn St. With their ridiculously huge recruiting backyard, there's no reason to even go .500. There were no games this week, but let's give a shout out to Jeff Smoker, who managed to overcome a lot of crap to have a pretty good college career. Maybe, just maybe, he's salvaged his life as well.

CHAMP: Oklahoma vs. Kansas St
FELL FLAT: Kansas St

I really feel for Kansas. Without Whittemore, they are a completely different team (ie - not good), and his injury completely crippled them. But they had a great year when nobody expected them to even be competitive. This is why minor bowls are cool, fans of a 6-6 Jayhawk team will enjoy the postseason trek. Because 6-6 beats the hell out of 2-10.

K-State, our preseason pick has one last chance to redeem themselves. I don't think they will, but I will say this, if OU loses the game, they do not deserve to go to the Sugar. It is ridiculous to have a system in which the national champ does not even have to win their conference title.

FELL FLAT: Arizona St

Another conference having a down year, but not as down as you may think. Outside of Stanford and Arizona, every team finished was bowl eligible due to the high level of competitiveness of the conference. There just aren't a glut of bad teams, and the Pac-10 gets hurt in the public perception because they lack a top tier (USC notwithstanding). Simply put, every week, anybody can beat anybody and often does so. Except for Arizona and USC.

The less said about ASU the better. How does Auburn get the national spotlight for tanking their season? Auburn at least had a decent year. ASU went into the season as co-favorites of the Pac-10 and spent most of the year just trying to reach .500. They tanked. And give credit to Cal, they had a nice year including an upset win over USC.

CHAMP: LSU Vs. Georgia
FELL FLAT: South Carolina

OK, Auburn makes the front pages, but they have an excuse, Jason Campbell stinks. He stunk before the year started and didn't magically become good when the year began. Yes, they only went 7-5, but that's about what you should expect from a team with a net minus under center. This is the media covering their ass on a bad pick. USC, however, has no excuse to be this bad. Bad? Maybe, but they just stunk up the joint. They're playing Kentcuky-bad.

LSU went out and made a nice statement, whacking Arkansas by 31 points. but they've been doing that all year. The Ole miss game is the aberration, not the Arkansas game. I think the media is misreading it, the team that made the statement was Ole Miss, and LSU was their statement game. No, they didn't win, but they proved they were legit. And frankly, we didn't believe they were.

posted by Poseur 12/02/2003 06:13:00 PM

SEC's first black head coach

Forty years ago, Mississippi State's basketball team defied the governor and other politicians who forbade the Bulldogs to compete in the NCAA tournament as long as it was open to black players. Coach Babe McCarthy bused his team out of Starkville under cover of darkness.

Nearly a year ago, Dec. 5, 2002, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., remarked at the 100th birthday of then-Sen. Strom Thurmond that Mississippians were proud to have supported Thurmond for president when he ran in 1948 as a segregationist. Lott eventually resigned as Senate majority leader.

This summer, the NCAA said it would maintain its policy of not holding championships for which sites have been predetermined and other events in Mississippi because the state incorporates the Confederate flag in its state flag.

Given this backdrop, Mississippi State's move was lauded Monday well beyond football circles.

To describe Mississippi's history on race relations as "checkered" would be charitable. It's downright bad. So any step forward on race relations is a good thing, even if it's just a football coach. Normally, when Mississippi makes news for something to do with the races, somebody is either saying something horribly racist or somebody is getting killed. So the mere fact an African-American will coach both white and black kids at Mississippi State is terrific news.

I did defend the SEC's hiring practice in football before, saying they were being unfairly singled out for the entire NCAA's crappy minority hiring policies. It's a hard fact of life in the SEC that they usually don't hire rookie head coaches, this is post-graduate work. They want coaches to cut their teeth in C-USA or the MAC. That said, their hiring practices were abonimal, they were just eqally abominal as everyone else in the nation. This isn't a southern thing, this is a college football thing. There's now five black head football coaches, only three at "BCS" schools.

It was only a matter of time that the SEC broke the color barrier, because now Mississippi State has a weapon in thier recruiting arsenal they've never had before: come play for a black head coach. Think that doesn't matter? All of these outstanding high school players, predominantly black, see a string of lilly white faces come through their door, and then a black guy shows up? State's not sauddenly going to become a recruiting juggernaut or anything, but they can now get their foot in the door when before they couldn't. They have an angle to work. State's administrators probably didn't hire Croom to break any new ground, but they probably did do it at least partly for the unspoken recruiting edge.

Sometimes, cycnicism works in your favor.

posted by Poseur 12/02/2003 05:33:00 PM

Willie Green gets a longer suspension

Let's quote the league:

The NFL has extended Cleveland Browns running back William Green’s suspension for treatment purposes under the NFL Substance Abuse Policy.

Green began his suspension on November 8, 2003.

The NFL’s reinstatement of Green will be determined by Commissioner Tagliabue in consultation with the program’s medical experts.

Yikes, that's the entirety of the press release. Let's just say that Green is persona non grata right now. But he may be the first violent pothead in the history of the world. And at least that is something.

posted by Poseur 12/02/2003 05:14:00 PM

Jim Bouton rocks

As good liberals, we don't often get to read about sports in such lefty websites as commondreams. Well, now we can! And by Bill Moyers no less! Moyers piece on Bouton's book, Foul Ball sums up with what's wrong with big corporations, media conglomerates, publicly financed baseball stadiums, and generally just corrupt a-holes. Check out the article and then go buy everything Jim Bouton has ever written, including the greatest book in baseball history, Ball Four
posted by Poseur 12/02/2003 05:12:00 PM

Hey, we made a trade!

On Monday, the Raptors (8-8) officially acquired swingman Jalen Rose and forwards Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter from the Chicago Bulls for center Antonio Davis and forwards Jerome Williams and Chris Jefferies.

It is hoped the 30-year-old Rose will generate points for a Raptor team last in the league in offence. Rose is averaging 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this year.

Has a six player trade ever generated less buzz in sports history? Neither team is going to win anything this year, and neither is in total rebuilding mode, getting a top prospect. It's just a shuffling of lineup cards. It's the kind of trade that gets made so the front office can claim it cares about winning. It's as meaningless as re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but without the symbolism. It's just a meaningless move for both sides.

posted by Poseur 12/02/2003 05:03:00 PM


Game of the week

#9 Florida St. 38
#11 Florida 34

Florida was really out of it in the early going. Then came a defensive touchdown by Keiwan Ratliff and two TD passes to Ben Troupe, the second of which gave the Gators a 34-31 lead late in the game. Just when you thought Florida had stolen the game, Chris Rix dropped a bomb to PK Sam to win the game. If you have a TV, you’ve seen the play–it was that good.

Honorable mention

Louisville 43
Cincinnatti 40

Why on earth would a couple CUSA teams rate an honorable mention for the game of the week? How about this–the Cardinals blew a three touchdown lead before coming from behind with a 50 yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining. That’s why.

Upset of the week

Virginia 35
#21 Virginia Tech 21

Just in case you missed it last week, the Hokies have mailed in their season. This loss drops them to 8-4 and out of the AP top 25. Kudos to the Cavaliers. Matt Schaub threw 2 TD passes and Wali Lundi ran for three more.

Beat down of the week

#6 Texas 46
Texas A&M 14

Remember when this was a good rivalry? I wasn’t expecting a miracle from Dennis Franchione this year, but this is embarrassing. This is one of the crappiest Aggie teams ever.

#3 LSU 55
Arkansas 24

If I told you Cedric Cobbs would run for 170 and the Hogs would be the first team to score 20 against LSU this season, you’d probably think it would be a long day for the Tigers. Not! After a shaky start, LSU spread the ball around to its talented receivers and backs. Even the defense got in on the scoring. Now the Tigers are in a lose-lose situation in the SEC championship game. A loss ends their Sugar Bowl hopes; a win hurts them. Think about that.

posted by uberschuck 12/01/2003 01:10:00 AM


Euro draw released

A quick look at the groups, top two teams advance.

Portugal (18), Greece (30), Spain (3), Russia (29)

A pretty fair group, but the border war between Spain and host Portugal should be quite interesting. No one expects Greece to do squat, and there are two huge favorites to advance. but Russia's not a total pushover.

France (2), England (8), Switzerland (43), Croatia (20)

A tough group. France and England will go in as heavy favorites, but Croatia's got a reqal shot to advance. Send the Swiss team flowers.

Sweden (17), Bulgaria (39), Denmark (13), Italy (11)

This group is a joke. I love Sweden's defensive style, but there isn't a single FIFA top ten team in this group. The style of play should range from slow to plodding, though luckily, there should be a terrific battle to advance. Italy should thank its lucky stars they are in a group this easy.

Czech Republic (10), Latvia (56), Germany (9), Holland (6)

Holy crap. The Czechs are actually playing better than either Germany or Holland, which both boast awesome sides. The third place team of this group would win Group C outright. And poor Latvia, stuck with these heavyweights.

Only seven months away!

posted by Poseur 11/30/2003 11:31:00 PM

The big game?

According to's Jerry Palm, the Tigers, who trail the Trojans by 17 spots in strength of schedule, will finish no worse than two spots behind and could in fact lead by as many as 10 depending on the results of several games next weekend, most notably USC opponent Notre Dame's game against Syracuse. Both teams are 5-6, but the Irish have won three straight, including a 57-7 thrashing of Stanford over the weekend, while the Orangemen have lost three straight, most recently 24-7 to Rutgers.

If Notre Dame wins, Palm said, USC will finish no worse than three spots behind LSU in strength of schedule, a .12 margin. If Syracuse wins, however, that margin becomes the Trojans' best-case scenario.

The result of that game will also determine which team winds up ahead in the Colley Rankings, one of seven computer ratings used in the BCS formula and one of four in which the Tigers currently trail. Depending on the final strength of schedule deficit, LSU will need to lead in at least five of the computers, and potentially all seven, if it hopes to catch the Trojans.

Jerry Palm knows more about the BCS than any other living human being, so let's take his word for it. It's also worth giving him a few bucks to run his incredible projections on and So let's be honest, I couldn't tell you who will finish #2, only who should. And I've admitted my LSU fanaticism, but I think the Tigers have a more compelling argument.

LSU is 14th in the nation in scoring offense (35.0), USC is 6th (41.27).
LSU is 1st in scoring defense (10.6), USC is 18th (17.9).

Both teams are really friggin' good. It's like the nation has just noticed that LSU has a pretty good offense to go with the best defense in the country. It's not like the Arkansas game was some aberration, the tigers have put up huge numbers all season long. Yet they've flown underneath the national radar because, well, they weren't supposed to be this good this year. What irritates me is that USC has a stronger strength of schedule according to the NCAA, and they simply do not. Here's the problem with SOS:

Let's assume one team played a ten game schedule, and every team it played was 5-5. Let's assume another team played a ten game schedule as well, five games against 10-0 teams, and five against 0-10 teams. For ease of coputations, let's assume opponent's opponents records are even. Which schedule would you rather have? According to the NCAA system, both schedules are exactly even, but in the real world, the second schedule is much, much tougher. USC and LSU are playing extreme examples of this example.

Here's USC schedule:
Brigham Young
@Arizona State
@Notre Dame
Washington State
Oregon State

Western Illinois
@Mississippi State
@South Carolina
Louisiana Tech

USC hasn't beaten teams of the same quality as LSU has. However, USC's schedule lacks complete dogs like ULM or Western Illinois. It's an unfair comparison, and it should be settled on the field, but of course, it won't. and that's the real shame of it all.

posted by Poseur 11/30/2003 11:17:00 PM

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