Thursday, January 04, 2007

Back to blogging...what's been going on?

I feel like I have been on vacation because I have not posted very much this week. That's due to an influx of in-laws plus all the other craziness surrounding this two week holiday period.

Let me see where I left off and what I have missed. The list is quite extensive so I'm going to go start where my last entry left off, after the Fiesta Bowl on Monday night, which seems like about 8 days ago.

-Louisville gets just enough offense to hold off Wake in a sloppy Orange Bowl, 24-13

In a game that was the exact opposite of the Fiesta Bowl heart-pounder the Cinderella Wake Forest Demon Deacons played their style of football- defensive and opportunistic- but it wasn't enough to defeat the explosive Cardinals and quarterback Jeff Brohm.

persevered through many Louisville mistakes to throw for 311 yards but no touchdowns as the Cards had to overcome 2 costly fumbles, a dropped touchdown pass by receiver Mario Urrutia and a missed field goal by Groza winner Art Carmody.

Down 13-10 early in the "5th quarter", as the Deacons refer to the 4th in honor of star linebacker John Abbate's deceased little brother, who wore #5, the Cardinals came roaring back on the strength of two long touchdown drives (81 yards, 71 yards.) Tampa's own Anthony Allen, a powerful runner who looks more and more like he should be the featured back next year even if Michael Bush comes back, capped off an 81-yard, 8 play drive with a 1-yard TD run to give the Cards a 17-13 lead and Brock Bolen's 18 yard scoring jaunt with just under 5:00 to go sealed it.

Although Wake's magical season came to a bitter end, with a school-record 11 wins, a Coach of the Year award for Jim Grobe and an Orange Bowl appearance they certainly have nothing to be ashamed of in Winston-Salem.

Meanwhile Louisville finished the season 12-1 and if it weren't for the upset by Rutgers in late November the Cards might be laying claim to the national championship. But with Brohm coming back, Allen heading into his sophomore season and Urrutia heading into his junior campaign, this team is a pre-season Top 5 lock and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2007.
Plus they're really fun to watch.

-In the "what else is new dept?" Notre Dame is embarrassed in a bowl game again
New year, same results for the pitifullly overrated Notre Dame football program. The Losing Irish dropped their NCAA-record 9th consecutive bowl game dating back to 1994 with a humiliating 41-14 drubbing by the hometown LSU Tigers last night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (isn't it ironic that the former sponsor, Nokia, has been dropped for an insurance company in the Katrina-ravaged bayou country?)

Dame began the season ranked #2 and its obnoxious fan base had every reason to think this could be the year that the Irish contended for a national title again, or at least won a major bowl. Wrong on both accounts, whiskey breaths. Not only did the Irish (10-3) plummet to #11 in the final poll but the combination of head coach/savior Charlie Weiss, probable #1 NFL draft pick Brady Quinn and sure-fire first-rounder Jeff Samardzija wasn't enough to lift the Irish to its first big win since the Lou Holtz era.

Pretty boy Quinn's stats were anything but: 15-35, season low 148 yards, 2TDs, 2 INTs

The over matched Irish looked solid in the first half, when it rang up most of its 291 yards of offense and briefly tied the game at 14 with less than 3:00 to go in the half. But from there on out it was the JaMarcus Russell show, as the enormous (6'6", 260 lb) junior QB took over the game, and potentially the #1 draft slot from his more-heralded counterpart.
Russell crushed the Irish hopes with his rocket arm

Russell immediately led the Tigers (11-2) on a 5-play, 82-yard drive and ran it in himself from 5-yards out for the go ahead score just before the half, then he used his huge frame and cannon-like arm to catapult LSU to its second huge bowl victory at the Superdome, the first being the 2003 Sugar Bowl that helped the 12-1 Tigers lay claim to a share of the national championship.

The potent Tigers compiled 577 yards of offense against the woeful Notre Dame defense as Russell exploded for 332 yards and 2 TDs, including a gorgeous 58-yard bomb to end the third quarter that started the onslaught of "will he or won't he declare for the draft" questions. If he does come out his performance could help him challenge Quinn for the #1 spot; a guy who can easily loft the ball 70+ yards in the air is the stuff of Al Davis' wet dreams.
And if he stays we have another entry for the 2007 Heisman race.

But can we please stop sending the Irish to major New Years/BCS bowls? It's painfully obvious now that the Fighting Overrateds don't deserve the honor any longer.

-NFL MVP? Oh gee, it's LT
In the least shocking development since Mike Tyson got arrested again San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the 2006 season.

Aside from the fact that the 14-2 Chargers are by far the class off the league this season Tomlinson ran his way to a myriad of records, establishing himself as one of the greatest backs of all time in just his 6th season. The list of accomplishments is lengthy, but here's a rundown of the highlights:
*Set the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a season (31)

*Set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns scored in a season (28)

*Set the record for most points scored by a player in a season (186)

*Rushed for at least 100 yards in a game 10 times (9 in a row)

*Scored at least 2 touchdowns in 10 games (8 in a row)

*Led the NFL with 1,815 yards rushing on just 348 carries (5.2 YPC) and also had 508 yards receiving on 56 receptions (9 YPC)

*Threw for 2 touchdowns

Other than that it was just an average season for the humble kid from TCU. This guy exemplifies what a role model athlete is all about. After he broke Shaun Alexander's touchdown record he waved his teammates into the end zone to celebrate what he called a "team accomplishment." It's class & dignity like that combined with jaw-dropping talent that makes him one of the most deserving MVP's ever.
By the way Drew Brees, the man who was being hailed as the potential winner a few weeks ago, finished a very distant second: LT received 44 votes, Brees 4.

VY adds NFL ROY to his trophy case
In other NFL award news (why is it that the NFL announces its award winners immediately following the season but the MLB drags its announcements out for a solid month after the World Series?) Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young ran off with the Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy, easily beating out second place finishers New Orleans' Marques Colston and Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, 23 votes to 9.

Young amassed 2,199 yards passing with 12 TDs (+13 INTs) and added 552 yards rushing and 7 scores with a 67 passer rating and 52% completion rate.

The 3rd pick in the 2006 draft grew into a capable team leader, one with the intangible quality of being able to will his team to wins despite pre-draft talk about his awkward throwing motion, poor test scores and raw skills. After taking over the starting job from Kerry Collins in game 4 Young orchestrated the Titans rise from 0-5 disaster to 8-8 playoff contender, thanks to a miraculous 6-game winning streak in which Tennessee mounted 4 late come-from-behind wins.

Young ended up 8-3 as a starter and brought the Titans to the brink of the postseason; if Tennessee had been able to knock off the Pats in Week 17 it would have made the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

An impressive victory in a long line of wins for the National Champion quarterback from Houston. Wonder how hard his hometown Texans are kicking themselves now after passing over Young for unspectacular DT Mario Williams?

-Coaching carousel picks up speed after NFL season ends
No sooner had the dust settled following the end of the regular season that the first casualties of the coaching axe were announced.

In another candidate for the least surprising news ever Falcons head man Jim Moron, Jr. was let go by team president Arthur Home Depot gazillionaire Blank about 3.2 minutes after the Falcons lost the finale to the Eagles.

Moron sealed his fate with another late season swoon that saw the front-running Falcons slip from 5-2 to 7-9; coupled with his idiotic rant on a Seattle radio program in which he vehemently professed his desire to coach his Alma mater, the University of Washington, even though the Huskies have a coach (Ty Willingham) and the Falcons were in the thick of a playoff battle, and it was no surprise that the impatient Blank gave the son of Jim Mora his pink slip.

No word if he was given a complimentary Bostich nail gun and a case of nails as a consolation prize.

Shortly following that announcement came the second least shocking development in the coaching world: Arizona's Dennis Green was let go after another disappointing season in the desert.

Green's Cardinals limped to a 5-11 record despite a boatload of talent, a shiny new expensive stadium, and new found hope for success. Instead the Cards wallowed in mediocrity and awfulness, the epitome of which was the Week 6 meltdown on Monday Night Football in which Arizona blew a 20-point 3rd quarter lead and lost to the Bears 24-23.

Following that debacle Green launched into his now-infamous tirade where he screamed at reporters in the post game press conference "the Bears are who we thought they were, and we let em off the hook."

And now after 3 disappointing seasons (16-32) Green is off the hook for trying to turn this dysfunctional franchise around. Although the team is till on the hook for the $2.5 million it still owes him for his contract.

now has $32 million reasons why he likes college ball more than the NFL
And in the third piece of "no way?!" NFL coaching news, former Dolphins coach, notorious weasel and now proven liar Nick Saban has done exactly what he swore a week ago he wouldn't do: accept an 8 year, $32 million dollar deal to be the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Just days after the Fins finished another non-playoff campaign with a 6-10 record and a mere 13 days after flat-out stating " I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" the same man who tried to treat NFL players like kids and blew off a meal at the White House took his sorry 15-17 pro record and high tailed it back to the land where he can boss kids around and not have to answer to anyone for it.

Typical of coaches nowadays- whatever they are saying, don't believe them. Especially if the guy is a little dictator who uses players as a way to further massage his massive ego.
Well I think I'm all caught up for now. Gotta go work on the roof with my father-in-law. Will get further caught up later, if I don't fall and break my hip.

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