Monday, December 03, 2007

Spanning the Nation: Santana Trade Talks Edition

With the latest implosion of the BCS slowly starting to sink into the rearview mirror, I would like to make two requests to the national media:

1) When reporting on how a mediocre coach got fired, such as UCLA's Karl Dorrell was today, stop prefacing the news with the phrase "Despite going to a bowl game..." There was a time when yes, to lead your team to a bowl meant you were one of the three or four best teams in the conference, and certainly one of the nation's top 20 or 30 - because until 15 years ago, the bowl system was more controlled. It did in fact signify a successful season when you made a bowl. But now? 64 teams go to bowls. There are so many that certain conferences can't get enough 6-win teams to fulfill their required tie-ins! Simply "going to a bowl" no longer qualifies as an accomplishment for a coach. Stop covering a 35-27 record with, "He made a bowl every season!"

2) The Patriots are on pace to go undefeated. We get it

Time to check in with the blogroll's weekly status reports...

Angelo Suozzi - Hometown: Pittsford, NY

The Sabres followed up one of their more dispiriting losses (4-3 to the Blues with the winning goal coming in the final minute after blowing a 2-0 lead) with an absolute shellacking of the Carolina Hurricanes, 8-1. The Sabres have ascended to 25 points, not enough to get out of the cellar in the Northeast Division but enough to distance themselves from the Capitals as the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference. In related news, I would like to congratulate NBC for bravely taking a stand against the exploding population by refusing to televise any college football bowl games on New Year's Day. No, instead NBC will dedicate it's afternoon airtime to an outdoor hockey game between Buffalo & Pittsburgh. I don't even know what to do with that one. Only in Buffalo, I guess. Meantime, the Bills have managed to stoop to a new low by their America-torturing standards, spoiling the Washington Redskins bid to win one for Sean Taylor in a 17-16 victory that kept alive the faint glimmer of playoff hope while severely damaging Washington's. Couldn't the Bills tell everybody outside the greater Buffalo area was pulling for the Redskins? Do they have no compassion?

Thomas McCall - Hometown: Lake Charles, LA

The party started early Saturday morning when grumpy middle-aged man Les Miles strode to the podium in Atlanta, breathing fire, loaded for duck, and shot straight into the teeth of all those rumor-mongering media members who had him penciled into the Michigan opening. Now, I know we're not supposed to be cynical, but Miles' defiant, "I am the head coach at LSU! I will be the head coach at LSU!" smacked to me as very much in line with other great nothing-but-the-truth statements like, "I did not...have...sexual...relations with that women" and (who could forget?), "Well, I guess I have to say it: I'm not gonna be the Alabama coach". I neglected one key factor: in America, especially down in Napoelonic Code-lovin' Louisiana, money always talks, and it was talking loud and clear to Les Miles by Saturday night. On Sunday, Thomas' boyhood idols received the official word that they'll be charged with defending the honor of the City of New Orleans once again from the hated Yankees. Last season it was the Irish, this season it's the Buckeyes. The Tigers have a big mess to clean up, as the Saints once again failed to protect the Crescent City in a back-breaking loss highlighted by Sean Payton's decision to ask Reggie Bush to execute a double-reverse in the closing minutes of a game his team was winning. Did he not see the tape of the 2006 Rose Bowl? Nothing good happens when Reggie Bush (planned or unplanned) pitches the ball.

Pat Girouard/Joe Long - Hometown: Cretin Derham Hall, MN

New Twins GM Bill Smith is either a genius or an idiot. Unfortunately for PG & Broadway Joe, they won't be able to find out which for sometime. If the proposed trade with either the Yankees or Red Sox goes down, the state of Minnesota will have in the last 12 months sent the following individuals packing: Torii Hunter, Kevin Garnett, Santana, beloved Piranhas Luis Castillo and Jason Bartlett, plus Glen Mason. At least they still have Adrian Peterson, who returned from injury and chewed up the Detroit Lions along with Chester Taylor, pulling the Vikes into the thick of the NFC "Hey, Somebody's Gotta Win It" Wild Card race. The other Wild in Minnesota (hockey team) lead the NHL's Northwest Division and are on a 4-game winning streak. The Badgers missed out on the BCS, due not to a Notre Dame bias but their inability to beat Minnesota by more than 7 points, and will have to settle for taking on Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. Jacksonville's lovely this time of year Joe, you should attend.

Brian Fallon - Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

If you ever manage to get Brian Fallon on the phone, he would probably admit to you that 2007 has been a slightly unusual year for Detroit Lions football. Not that the Lions haven't gone into their annual death-spiral on the football field, but for once they were actually on the verge of accomplishing something before doing it. Once 6-2 and the pride of the league with Jon Kitna's fearless predictions to motivate them, the Lions have dropped four straight and managed to look worse with each loss. Rod Marinelli needs to right the ship and quick before December 16th - we full expect that game down in San Diego to place two 7-6 teams fighting for their playoff lives. And even if the Lions have reverted to their old selves, Fallon always loved the Wings more anyhow: with an NHL-high 18 wins and 38 points, he's got few reasons not to.

Kevin Braun - Hometown: Lancaster, PA

AJ Feely, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Your career is over. Henceforth, you shall be known as "He Who Did Not Know When to Quit Pro Football When He Had the Chance". Stunningly, the Eagles (like every team in the NFC save the Falcons, Rams, & 49ers) maintain playoff hopes with a running of the table, starting next Sunday versus the New York Football Giants. I'm sure Kevin can barely contain his excitement. Who knew Kev, after all these years, people would actually be eager for the Eagles' season to end so they could start the countdown to another year of Phillies baseball?

George Heidkamp - Hometown: Hinsdale, IL

My life flashed before my eyes as a Packers fan last week - Brett Favre got hurt. But the afterlife (Aaron Rodgers) didn't look half-bad in guiding the Pack during their big matchup versus Dallas, a game most of the country didn't see. More pleasing to me: the development of one Ryan Grant as a Green Bay stud in the backfield. While Kenny Williams is off doing his mad-scientist routine in Nashville at the Winter Meetings, Reinsdorf's other team continues to flounder mightily and is under pressure to swing a trade for the missing superstar - except now it's Pau Gasol being touted as the savior of the Bulls. Good luck with that. It's another interesting stretch for the Blackhawks, who have 30 points and remain with the pack chasing Detroit across the Western Conference.

Paul Jacobs - Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Maybe Paul really is a Rams & Blues fan deep down, he just chooses to bury it all there behind his effusive love for the Red Birds. Then again, maybe not. Because, after all, the Rams are a team only Gus Frerotte's mother could love, and the Blues have re-ignited under the leadership of Paul Kariya, but is anybody in America's Best Baseball Town noticing? Not really. They're just counting down to Spring Training. The new GM's first order of business is figuring out what to do with Scott Rolen? Perhaps he should call in Kevin Braun and the rest of the Fightin' Phils fanbase to sort that one out.

Mike Devitt - Hometown: Marion, IN

This just in: the Colts mojo has been found. Only took a little bit of a scare from the "always a bridesmaid" Jacksonville Jaguars to get the best from Peyton Manning and the boys. I have a suggestion for all of those who seem to think the Colts, being all 'vulnerable' at 10-2 because of their injuries: look at Number 18. Unless he's hopping around on crutches, I'm not buying any wild theories about the Colts being short-handed.

Meanwhile, Back at Headquarters...

It's showtime! Pat Girouard will have his popcorn ready tomorrow night as the Irish tip-off against Kansas State in the Jimmy V Classic. Notre Dame seems to have recovered nicely from the Virgin Islands wipeout with three strong home wins (albeit against Youngstown State, Colgate & Eastern Michigan). The biggest positive is the continuing great play of Luke Harangody and the reemergence of Kyle McAlarney as a shooter beyond the arc. Kansas State is the last chance to grab a quality non-conference win, so even though it's just early December, this game could wind up being one the Irish live to rue come Selection Sunday. Harangody will need to be his usual beastly self down low and get some key contributions from Zach Hillesland and Luke Zeller off the bench in order for Notre Dame to upstage the Diaper Dandy Michael Beasley. Tune in tomorrow on ESPN.

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