Thank You, AFC…

Last week, I said we needed to thank the Green Bay Packers for making a game of it with the Arizona Cardinals after three blowout games on “mildcard” weekend. This week we need to say thanks to the AFC. Both NFC playoff games last weekend were colossally boring. Ignoring the score and the possibility of this-or-that other-worldly thing happening, was either game seriously in doubt at halftime? How about with 5 minutes to play in the second quarter? Both games were horribly uninteresting except to the mouthbreathers who painted their faces and bodies in the colors of the winning teams.

The two AFC games were interesting – and in doubt – into the second half. Granted, the outcome of the Indy/Baltimore game was certain earlier than was the outcome of the Jets/San Diego game, but both were far more interesting and riveting. Ergo, thank you, AFC playoff teams…

Greg Cote summarized some of the big sports news stories of last week succinctly and cogently in the Miami Herald this weekend:

“Extraordinary back-to-back revelations in baseball last week: One day, Mark McGwire reveals he used steroids. Next day, MLB reveals the Marlins are cheap and should spend more on players. I cannot recall The Miami Herald ever before running the following banner headline on consecutive days: ‘NO DUH!’ “

“The [Miami] Heat has banned card games and all gambling on team flights. Players immediately set 18-1 odds against the measure actually succeeding.”

“Answer: Herschel Walker making his mixed martial arts debut at age 47.
Question: What is the saddest thing you heard in sports the past week?”

Meanwhile, Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News provided an interesting heads-up for people who are into sports collectibles – - and perhaps perverts of a whole different stripe – - with this note:

“The big football news this week is that the Lingerie Football League is soon to begin selling game-worn uniforms.”

The University of Tennessee hired a new football coach after Lane Kiffen split for the better climate offered in Los Angeles. By the way, Kiffen may be “all hat and no cattle” as a coach and he may indeed be a weasel, but if you had a choice to live and coach in Knoxville, Tennessee or Los Angeles, California, which one would you choose? If you say Knoxville, you probably also believe that Moby Dick was a book about venereal disease.

Having said that, how far has Tennessee fallen in the perception of the college football-coaching world? I do not know if all the people who are reported to have turned down the job at Tennessee actually did that, but the Vols actually hired a guy who had a losing overall record (17-20) and a .500 record (12-12) in conference in the Western Athletic Conference. In case you do not follow college football all that carefully, here are some of the powerhouse programs in the WAC:

    San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State, Hawaii and Idaho.

Yes, Fresno State and Boise State are in there too, but the five schools listed above are hardly what you would call “perennial powerhouses”. Derek Dooley was at Louisiana Tech and managed to split even in his conference games. How that makes him a bona fide hire as an SEC coach is an exercise left for the student…

Before I get nasty notes from Boise State fans – - who obviously have never read anything I have written on the positive side about Boise state in the past – - let me observe that the Broncos got their second win in BCS Bowl games this year. I believe that is the same number of BCS Bowl game wins that Alabama has on its record…

I have mentioned in the recent past that the UCLA football program has come down a great distance from the heights it has previously enjoyed. If you are a Bruins’ fans, please do not look now but the UCLA basketball program is also in a bad way. Last weekend, the Bruins lost to cross-town rival, USC, by a score of 67-46. That was the biggest win for USC in that rivalry since January of 1945. As a point of reference for you, John Wooden had not yet taken the job as the coach of the UCLA basketball team back then; he did not get there until 1948. The score of that USC win in 1945 was 53-25.

UCLA is 7-10 so far this year and only 2-3 in the Pac-10. I just hope that UCLA fans do not jump to the conclusion that these problems are the result of inadequate coaching on the part of Ben Howland. UCLA has been to the Final Four in three of the past four tournaments (06, 07 and 08). In previous coaching incarnations, Howland led Northern Arizona to the NCAA tournament for the first time and then got Pitt into post-season tournaments in four consecutive years. The UCLA basketball program seems to have hit a few speed bumps this season, but the problem surely is not that Ben Howland is in over his head.

Finally, Dwight Perry had an item in the Seattle Times recently that falls squarely in the category of “so let it be written, so let it be done”:

“The husband-and-wife Hasselbecks will do a one-day job swap this month, with Elizabeth spending Jan. 19 as an NFL analyst for ESPN and Tim serving as a co-host of ABC’s “The View” on Jan. 28.

“Here’s hoping John Daly never marries a Playboy centerfold.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • Rich  On January 18, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Tearfully, I am also sorry that Mark McGwire played Major League baseball during the Steroid Era. Had he played in the sixties he could have been another Dave Kingman.
    He should be happy that he wasn’t an Olympic athelete subject to rigorous testing right after events. He would have been stripped of his records, and his team would have taken the same hit as well.
    He should be glad he was an MLB player in the Selig Era, i.e. no punishment.
    He should also be glad he played for George Will’s favorite baseball genius, Tony LaRussa, for supporting him through all this and giving him a job. I have another idea for LaRussa to bounce off his learned noggin: hire Jose Canseco as well.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 19, 2010 at 11:22 am


    McGwire is trying hard to get some sympathy here; he deserves none. Let me just leave it at that…

    Tony LaRussa is not stupid – - but he seems to be going out of his way to do things that make him look stupid. Continuing the pretext that he knew nothing about steroids in his locker room for more than a decade makes Sergeant Schultz look insightful. Hiring Mark McGwire to be on his coaching staff makes him look as if he condones the now certain steroid use that was ongoing in his clubhouse. I confess that I do not understand what Tony LaRussa’s thought processes here are all about.

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