As we reach the point in the year where we give thanks for what we are appreciative of, I'm giving thanks that after 2 of the busiest weeks I've had at work, I am now on a week's vacation, and have a chance to get caught up. So this time, for the first time ever, I'm running two editions in the same post. Now obviously I'm going to have to check back and try to remember everything I wanted to hit on. I know Notre Dame is at the top of my list. The LSU debacle from last week will definitely be there. And the coaching carousel finally began to turn in both the NFL and NBA. So sit back and enjoy two weeks and 20 tidbits worth of sports knowledge.
1) And so it begins ...- After last year of watching "As the Lane Turns" and seeing Scott Linehan call his shot, the NFL's coaching front was very quiet. The hammer finally fell on Dick Jauron of the Bills. He was done in by the simply unrealistic expectations caused by the fast start that the team got out to last year. It does go to prove just how important the QB position is in the NFL, and just what a lack of depth there is there currently.
2) ... again- Last year the first two coach firings in the NBA occurred about this time, and this year we already have one. Byron Scott was let go by the New Orleans Hornets, and hearing some of the reasons as to why, they sound to me more like reasons as to why this move was made far too soon. To me, it all seems like a power play by team president and NBA no-nothing Hugh Weber.
3) Even as one of the biggest ND haters- I was completely confused at the end of the Notre Dame Pitt game and exactly what the replay official saw. To me, it seemed clear that Claussen's hand was firmly clutched around the football during the entire forward motion. Now, I won't say the Domers got jobbed, as had the play stood (which IMO it should have), it would have been 4th and 16 and tough to overcome. Remember, I'm of the mind that blaming losses on the officials is loser speak and I site that I have only seen two games where officials have difinitively decided a game, the Oklahoma Oregon game a few years back, and the Colorado fifth down game. But to me, this was a clearly blown call. Remember, it was called incomplete on the field. I was watching an NFL game earlier this year where this exact play happened, and it was initially ruled a fumble and was OVERTURNED on replay to an incomplete pass. Plus, several people have pointed out to me that the whistle blew before Pitt had possession of the "fumble," calling into question whether or not the play was even reviewable (at least to the point where Pitt could even be awarded the ball).
4) Jay Cutler is horrible- Watching the 49ers Bears game, it made me realize one thing. The Broncos gave the Bears the worst fleecing sinec the Lions fleeced the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade. I mean, the trade would have been bad had it just been picks given up for Cutler, but throw in Orton, too. And some Bears fans were asking what happened to their running game. That's simple. Jay Cutler. Yes, the O-line is also not playing as well, but Forte didn't all of a sudden suck. Jay Cutler thinks it's all about him. And as far as building for the future, the Bears can forget about that one as well. Somebody suggested they need to draft a great receiver. The problem with that is they don't have a pick until at least the third round. The Bears have no future. They mortgaged it for Cutler (and Gaines Adams).
5) Pats 4th and out- I can understand where some people are coming from trying to defend coach Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth down late and on his own side of the field. Afterall, it was essentially a playoff game and will go a long way toward deciding home field. That one game represented a three game swing, two for the points in the standings, and another 1/2 each way for the tie breaker. Still, to me it was very odd, and I'd much rather try to make Peyton drive much longer, no matter how well he had been driving it against you recently. Huge win by the Colts.
6) Trojans defense snapped- I had pointed out going into the Oregon game that the prior two weeks the Trojans defense looked flat and were not playing up to USC standards. Ever since then, they've done nothing to improve, proving that sometimes it is hard to just reload instead of rebuild, even if you are Pete Carroll. The loses on defense over the years have clearly caught up, and this will be USC's first year not in a BCS bowl game in a long time.
7) Horned Frogs roll- TCU continued to roll, destroying their toughest remaining opponent in Utah by a 55-28 score. Should Texas lose, or should Bama or Florida lose before the SEC Championship game, I can only hope the BCS does the right thing and sends the lizards to Pasadena on the 7th.
8) Houston loses another it shouldn't- As much as I like Case Keenum and the huge numbers he's been putting up this year, you cannot afford to lose to UTEP and UCF. That just cannot happen, especially after beating Oklahoma State.
9) tOSU going to the Rose Bowl- By beating Iowa in overtime, Ohio State will be making it's first trip to Pasadena since something like 1999. Hard to believe, but a lot of the years they won the Big 10, they went to the Championship game. And remember, Penn State won last year.
10) Another reason I hate Gary Bettman- The Lightning were screwed out of a point on 11/14 while playing the Kings. On what should have been a game winning goal by the Lightning in OT, the up ice official ruled that the Kings goalie was interfered with on the play and waved off the goal. Here's the problem. The Lightning player was clearly pushed in there by a Kings player. How is this kind of play not reviewable? Bettman either needs to revisit his horrible rules, or send these officials back to school.
1) Hold that Tiger timeout- Wow, what a horrible series of play calling and clock management displayed by the LSU coaching staff at the end of the Ole Miss game. You have it first and 10 at the 29 with around :40 seconds left and two timeouts. First play: incompletion. Okay, not too bad, although with two timeouts and in field goal range, you can run or use the middle of the field. Second play: sack. Cannot happen in that situation. Now you're out of field goal range. First timeout. 33 seconds left. Next play, some ill-conceived screen play that loses like seven yards. Now it's fourth and forever. The clock is at 27 seconds. Somehow, as you are discussing whatever on the sidelines, you let the clock run all the way down to 9 seconds before calling the timeout. Now, you throw a hail-mary. And in the most improbable situation, you complete it at the five, but there is only one second left. And you are caught completely unready. Your field goal unit is not ready to go, although there may have not been enough time to get them on. So, your QB attempts a SPIKE?? With one second left on the clock??? And the great thing is in the hurry up confusion, it was discovered on video that Miles was the one telling him to spike it. You have to run a play. You have to hike it and throw it to the endzone. Even in Death Valley, the final second runs off the clock on a spike. It was clear the coaching staff was lost, and even more so on a play that was probably meant to go into the endzone ends up completed on the 5 instead. It is your responsibility as a coach to be ready for every possibility, and to have your team ready. One fan suggested they should have celebrated the play, as it would have stopped the clock. Now, while I have no experience actually calling a college game with college rules, I'm pretty sure the clock starts on the ready for play just like it would normally. He did have an interesting idea, though, as the clock WOULD stop as they march it off, and maybe have given them enough time to get the FG unit on. Still, all in all, some of the worst coaching I've seen, EVER, and inexcusible from a BCS champion winning coach. That last TO had to be called right after the screen play. You have to extend the game.
2) Weis' swan song- I think the second consecutive loss on senior day by the Fighting Irish pretty much spells the end for Charlie Weis. Afterall, his winning percentage is right up there with Davie and Willingham, and I can't remember the last ranked opponent he's beaten. On the flip side, it was good to see the Huskies win their first game since losing Jasper Howard. Seeing coach Edsall's emotions during the post-game was touching, especially knowing how heart-felt they were.
3) Some absolutely inexcusible NFL performances- Wow, Steelers lose to Chiefs (I know, Moo, you saw it coming the whole way). The Bengals get a gift to move another game up, only they turnover the game against the Raiders on a late TD and then fumble the ensuing kickoff. And the Cowboys take a late TD and only hang 7 on the lowly Redskins in a win.
4) The Jets crash land and the Broncos pull up lame- After starting off 3-0 and fueling speculation again of an all NY Super Bowl (the Giants haven't been performing much better), they have only won 1 of the last 7 and Sanchez is looking very much like a rookie. And the Broncos after their 6-0 start have dropped 4 in a row and now find themselves looking up at the Chargers.
5) Redemption for VY- Ever since being forced back into the lineup by owner Bud Adams (who probably gave coach Jeff Fisher the double barrelled single finger salute in the process), the Titans have not lost a game and have suddenly found themselves back in the playoff hunt, although they probably dug themselves too deep a hole to begin with.
6) Oregon Arizona classic- In one of the most interesting games of the year that I could only see via ESPN360.com thanks to ABC thinking that because I live in Florida the Texas beatdown of Kansas would be more interesting to me, DESPITE the fact that their number 1 crew was at THIS game, Oregon won in double OT in come back fashion, setting up this week's rivalry week matchup with Oregon State with the winner getting a trip to Pasadena on Jan 1st to play tOSU.
7) Huskers Shuck Kansas State to win Big 12 north- Nebraska's defense again looked dominant in setting up a trip to Arlington to play Texas on Dec. 5th. I'm looking forward to see how well the blackshirts match up against Colt McCoy and the Longhorns. In an ironic twist, had K State won, they would have been playing against Texas. By losing, not only will they not, but they also will not be bowling.
8) ACC Championship game set, too- I'm actually looking forward to seeing C.J. Spiller coming here to Tampa to take on Georgia Tech and the triple option. The good thing is I think this game should sell better than last year's Va Tech BC game. Short of getting FSU and/or Miami in the game, this was the best we could do, and should at least generate some more local interest as the teams are much closer.
9) To all the SEC haters- Yes, ramble on about how we are two deep (we are). Pile on us for how we are down for the second year in a row (we are). Get on us for scheduling weak teams late in the year (only because we start our conference season earlier than anybody other than the ACC, which starts out the gate). The SEC has TEN, count 'em, TEN teams that are bowl eligible. Yes, we might not have the great teams outside of UF and BAMA, but we have a WHOLE LOTTA good ones. And we have to play eight games against said teams. And I would argue that just about every conference is down this year. That's why you had a C-USA school in the Top 15 for most of the year.
10) Turkey games on turkey day- I'll break my rule because I was going to get on this point anyway, but even the one slightly intriguing NFL game on Thanksgiving turned out to induce more yawns than the trytophan in your Thanksgiving turkey (unless you were a Broncos fan). Honestly, I was watching the Texas Texas A&M game and just flipping between commercials. The Lions sucked and have for years. Then you match them up against one of the top 6 teams in the conference. Conversely, you match up the Cowboys against the Raiders??? Seriously, the Raiders??? The NFL really needs to revisit it's Thanksgiving day policy, as "tradition" is quickly turning in to the "tradition" of people turning their TV sets off early.