Thursday, November 29, 2007

13 Things to Distract You From Leftover Turkey

1. The Coaching Carousel
The carousel of coaching in college football is usually big, or at least big enough that ESPN dedicates an entire static page to keeping up with it. I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it, you can decide which ones are worth keeping up on your own, I’ll just spend time on some on 2-4 of the more intriguing. First of course is Les Miles and Michigan finally getting permission from LSU to talk to him (most probably because LSU is out of the National Championship race now). Most people think its a done deal, forgetting that LSU is easily in a situation to throw money at this, but if Miles does in fact leave, which I think he may, LSU really ought to keep tabs on Bo Pelini who is apparently in the top two for Nebraska’s job.

The other most intriguing is Southern Mississippi forcing Jeff Bower to resign after 17 pretty darn decent years and 14 straight winning seasons. Most people are outraged but forget that in the past 2-3 seasons if you removed division II and Sun Belt teams USM does not have a winning season. I think it’s you can’t decide until you know who USM hires. If USM hires an unknown or something without history, then it is easily the stupidest decision of the year, but there are definitely ways it can be a big spark, (e.g. bringing back Tyrone Nix from S. Carolina).

2. Third Athlete in a Row Takes Dancing with the Stars Trophy
First of all; yes, race car drivers are athletes, whether it is a sport or not is debatable, but they are definitely athletes. Anyway, the reason this is a great story/issue is because of the potential here just as ESPN’s Terry Blount states: “Helio Castroneves won a lot more than a little dance contest Tuesday night. Castroneves won the hearts of America, and in doing so, gave the IndyCar Series a popularity boost that no race ever could accomplish.”

If you look at the celebrities who started the competition as their starting fan-bases alone, Helio wouldn’t have even been Top 5. The fact that he won this competition was great, but what it actually does is even more important for the Indy Racing League, it humanized and introduced one of its drivers, and possibly the most personable too. Sure not all 24-30 million viewers of the show will tune into racing but if any small percentage does, it’ll easily double the press and fan-conversion Danica brought to the table but at basically no cost to the series’ marketing budget.

3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. St. Petersburg Grand Prix
Firstly I’d like to credit Brant James at Lug Nuts for the great coverage of this issue, everything I know about it has come from his site. If you don’t know, the Tampa Bay Rays are tired of low attendance for their team; and as we all know, surely you fix this by building a new stadium. Just don’t pay attention to the can’t stop finishing last in their division thing. Well the new proposed stadium is in St. Petersburg and basically looks to re-route roads and parking lots and in the process destroy what is essentially 25% of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. Obviously it’s an issue in the making, as the construction wouldn’t start until 2009, but it is very apparent that the Rays could care less about the race (they claim to have been in touch with the race officials all this time and Kevin Savoree, of Andretti Green Promotions who put on the race, says they’ve never talked to them once about it), but the city and mayor are concerned as more should be because the Grand Prix last year brought in 125,000 fans over 3 days, definitely something we all know the Rays don't.

The Rays representatives claim: “The Grand Prix is a great event. It brings a lot of people to St. Pete and frankly, if they’re going to have an international event that showcases our ballpark through their course, we certainly have no reason to make it harder for them to do that." Time to start putting the money where the mouth is; the race at this point definitely has more positive press than the team.

4. Watching History Happen
I know its off-season and off-radar for most but if you were ever a fan of open-wheel racing, now is the time to jump back in as I believe we are watching its revolution back into the sports world. TV ratings are up, prize money is up and the IRL is really making one smart decision after another (first with bringing back road-courses) and now with the new revenue-sharing system that I think will completely revitalize the sport which has (since the open-wheel split) been plagued by low car counts.

Say hello to a brand new racing team bringing 2 new cars to the mix. Marty Roth is a guy with decent but not enough money to do a race here and there, but without a high enough finish the team couldn’t sustain on winnings alone, but it’s a Catch-22 as you really can’t win if you don’t have the money to pay good engineers and do enough racing and testing to set the cars up well. On top of it his second driver, Jay Howard, is the guy who won the developmental series, Indy Pro Series, in 2006 and would have won even more this year but was trying to secure a IRL ride instead of a IPS ride.

So lets add this on top of Helio’s Dancing, on top of already rising race attendance and TV ratings plus the already rising driver count and NASCAR’s declining ratings, and you have not only a rising series, but an incredibly stable one which is the most important thing while CHAMP Car World Series is losing multiple races by the month.

5. Can Boxing ever rise again
If it is ever going to happen this unification is the first step in the right direction. If I ask you ho is the champion of each weight class right now, you can’t tell me; and in this day of sports definitiveness; boxing’s various organizations need to suck up their idiotic pride and realize that The Contender bears more validity these days. All boxers should take this as an example and turns every weight class into a quick unification tournament. There are 4 belts out there right now which means a quick 4 person tournament, if someone owns 2 of the belts then he gets a bye.

6. Baseball’s off-season
A-Rod worked a deal that makes sense in his bonuses for historic achievement. Obviously the Yankees will get tickets, ratings, and news out of it; no reason he should get a bonus for doing that; but the question is: Are McGuire, Sosa, and Bonds kicking themselves now? Other things that may be overlooked especially is Indians Pitcher Juan Lara in critical condition from a car accident (and by accident I mean Lara was stopped at an intersection and a motorcycle with 2 riders slammed into his drivers side pinning him in the vehicle). Both people on the motorcycle died and it is being reported that Lara may have suffered some brain damage but only time will tell, how fast are you going to cause all of that? Just another senselessly stupid thing to scar the world.

7.Another week in hockey, another stupid incident
I’m making it my new rule to not comment on games in the NHL if there is a stupid on-ice issue to mention. It’s a boycott no one will care about or realize is happening, but its my boycott dammit; The NHL really needs to do something about this nonsense. Take a note from yourself, really, you fixed so many things up till now, why in the world would you let the fighting and cheap-shots continue to exist.

8. NFL vs. NFL Fans
So the NFL takes its first real shot at NFL fans tonight by putting Green Bay vs. Dallas on the NFL Network. Yes they will put up nonsense about how it’s the cable companies doing it, but lets be frank, the cable companies don’t want to pay more for a networks dedicated to a seasonal product and low ratings than they pay for CNN a 24/7-365 days a year network. Put this on top of their unlawful monopoly of NFL Sunday Ticket and the NFL has officially let its ego get ridiculously out of hand.

The game however should be one to watch (if you can). Neither team winning would be a surprise, but I think Green Bay is a lot better than people give them credit for.

9. College Football's hangover weekend.
Not much this weekend means much. 2 games have impact over the National Championship.
Pitt at WVU and Oklahoma at Missouri. Everyone is expecting Pitt to be a pushover and Oklahoma to run over Missouri although Missouri winning would not be so shocking. In my personal favorite a strong mid-major plays another strong Mid-major in the Conference-USA champ game. VT should clobber Boston College in the rematch and LSU should but may not make its way into the Sugar Bowl.

The 2 things to really watch this weekend however starts with Hawai’i in a total trap-match. Boise is over and everyone’s hung-over from it but Washington is hardly a push-over having almost beaten every team they lost to. The more important thing to watch out for…

10. BCS implosion or another squeak by?
UCLA at USC - Oregon State at Oregon - Arizona at Arizona State
If all three home teams lose then unranked UCLA is your PAC-10 champ! Obviously as we’ve seen in the past this sort of thing doesn’t kill the non-playoff system, but it does give the BCS system another black-eye. While everyone else out there wants to say computers are stupid, they fail to realize the computers get it right while the humans mess it up. Take our champions and then add next highest teams for a playoff and I think everyone would be happy. IF you can’t stand the non-playoff system here is who you root for this weekend: Pittsburg, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA, Tennessee, Hawai’i & Boston College.

11. The NFL weekend’s underlying Meaningfulness
Miami's best shot at a win at home vs. Jets. The Jets have looked very poor and even though they lost John Beck has looked decent/good in the crappy rain game; he’s definitely learning. Seattle can eliminate Philly this weekend, but more importantly if the Eagles do well, will people ever finally realize that the best thing for the Eagles is to not play Donovan McNabb?. Carolina at San Francisco: Where will New England’s 1st round draft pick end up? Houston – Tennessee: Tennessee stays alive with a win and Houston (who I think will win) takes Tennessee down with them for the season.

12. Apparent NFL Meaningfulness
Tampa Bay at N.O. This game means a whole lot, but what exactly it means yet no one is sure. New Orleans needs to win to keep a decent shot at the playoffs alive. Tampa Bay really just needs this win to prove to everyone that they are for real and to make everyone realize just how good they are and beating the Saints in New Orleans would be a good move in proving it and also locking up the NFC South. Jacksonville at Indy is now a game for the Division; Giants at Chicago is a game where one team will finally place the nail in the coffin of the other. While the Giants losing doesn’t eliminate their playoffs, it definitely shows the true team that we know from the past years, one that can’t take it the distance. Cleveland at Arizona: Arizona NEEDS this win, they need to prove they can win when they need to, and they need it to keep playoff hopes alive, and Cleveland needs a win to keep pace with Pittsburgh while the loser of Buffalo at Washington is realistically eliminated from playoff contention.

13. NFC 25 - AFC 23
Lastly here is the oh-so-fun reality that idiot media members continue to ignore. All hail the almighty AFC and their 2 game deficit to the weakly NFC. And while this week presents only 2 inter-conference match ups even losing both and being tied 25-25 would be a miracle against the all-powerful AFC…

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