Friday, December 28, 2007

Back in Lewisville

Arnold Sturm and Bob Sturm as cold as either have ever been.

Brett Favre as cold as he has ever been prepares to throw an interception

I would like to welcome you back to Bob’s Blog, as we open up 2008 a few days early. First up, here is a bonus picture of Dad and me at Soldier Field on Sunday in what might have been the most miserable weather conditions of my life. Say nothing about the horrendous play of the Green Bay Packers, when the wind chill is 19 below zero, and wind gusts to 45 mph, you at least hope the team you wanted to see at least shows up. Sadly, mine did not. But that is good news for the Cowboys fans, so one’s loss is your gain.

Meanwhile, the always entertaining Holiday Bowl gave us a Longhorns 10 win season

Texas' football team became the poster child for tough love Thursday night.

After weeks of tough 6 a.m. practices, the No. 17 Longhorns came out a new, more intense team and rolled through No. 12 Arizona State 52-34 in the 30th annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl in Qualcomm Stadium.

The Longhorns (10-3) scored 21 points in the first quarter against Arizona State (10-3) and rode the early momentum to their fourth consecutive bowl victory. Texas has won at least 10 games the past seven seasons, the longest such streak in the nation and a mark that has become a Texas standard in the Mack Brown coaching era.

Derek Lokey got the scoring started with his first career touchdown on Texas' first score just 1:21 after kickoff. The defensive tackle slipped out of his fullback position in Texas' jumbo package and quarterback Colt McCoy's fifth completion of the drive put Texas up 7-0 after Ryan Bailey's point-after.

The touchdown drive, which was aided by a short kickoff and a tough return by Lamarr Houston to the Arizona State 49, was the fastest in Holiday Bowl history, topping SMU's opening score against BYU in 1980.

With two more TDs, Texas broke another record from that game.

The 21 points for the Longhorns in the first quarter set a Holiday Bowl record, the most Texas scored in an opening quarter this year and the most Arizona State gave up in the first 15 minutes.
Early on, Texas' defense was also stouter than it had been all season, and Arizona State relied heavily on Texas mistakes to get on the board.

Chris Jessie, a name now forever in Horns’ lore

It wasn't quite Tommy Lewis coming off the bench for Alabama to tackle Rice's Dicky Maegle in the 18th Cotton Bowl in 1954. But it was close.

Mack Brown's stepson, Chris Jessie, a member of Brown's football operations staff, briefly became the focal point of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against Arizona State on Thursday night in one of the most bizarre plays in Longhorns' history.

Texas appeared to have the ball at the Arizona State 44 with 12:40 left in the second quarter after a fumble by ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter. But just before UT defensive end Aaron Lewis picked up the loose ball near the Texas sideline, Jessie was ruled to have bent over and touched the ball while it was still live on the field.

"I thought it was a forward pass and thought the play was over," Jessie said. "I backed up once I realized the play was still alive and didn't touch the ball. But I felt horrible. Mack told me, 'We'll pull it out, and it won't matter.' I just hoped the momentum wouldn't swing too much."

After the game, Brown said, "Our family wanted to win the game so badly, he thought he'd help."

Walking off the field at halftime, Brown told ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters he didn't know who on his staff was flagged for touching the ball. Salters said it appeared to be his stepson, and Brown acknowledged it was Jessie, adding, "He wants to crawl under a rock."

It was Brown who ran onto the field and yanked Jessie away from the ball. Brown's director of football operations, Cleve Bryant, was also on the field when Jessie was flagged. UT had already received a warning from officials for failing to stand behind the sideline.

Replays failed to show conclusively if Jessie touched the ball, but Texas was called for illegal touching, giving Arizona State the ball back. It was not a personal foul, so ASU was not given an automatic first down.

Charles claims he is staying put

Texas running back Jamaal Charles said late Thursday he plans on returning for his senior season.

Charles said after Texas’ 52-34 victory: “Right now, I’m probably coming back. I didn’t think I did that good in the game. Next year maybe I’ll be up for the Heisman. I will come back.”

Charles gained 161 yards on 27 carries. He scored two touchdowns.

A Yell Leader incites Penn State???? …wow. We will have the audio on the show today…

Texas A&M officials have apologized to Penn State leaders over an Aggie yell leader's references to needing a "casket" for coach Joe Paterno.

Paterno last week turned 81.

Penn State faces A&M on Saturday night in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

One A&M yell leader, during a pep rally Thursday night, told the crowd that Paterno was "on his death bed" and "someone needs to find him a casket."

The remarks drew boos from the crowd.

Some A&M and Penn State fans said the remarks were offensive and inappropriate.
A&M spokesman Alan Cannon says interim president Eddie Davis and athletic director Bill Byrne later apologized to their Penn State counterparts.

Paterno, a 42-year head-coaching veteran, is about to enter the last year of a four-year contract that expires following the 2008 season.

Crayton stays; Barber next?

The Cowboys agreed to a four-year contract with wide receiver and DeSoto native Patrick Crayton on Thursday night, just days away from the regular-season finale in one of the best seasons in team history.

The contract, expected to be signed today, can be worth as much as $14 million. Crayton received a $6 million signing bonus.

Dallas valued Crayton more this season after he replaced an injured Terry Glenn as the No. 2 receiver in the lineup.

Crayton, in his fourth season, has career-highs in catches (48), yards (689) and touchdowns (seven) this season. The new deal keeps Crayton from becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season, which could have gotten him a bigger contract.

But the receiver had no interest in going anywhere else.

"This is exactly where I want to be," Crayton said before the Cowboys practiced Thursday.

"My client is very happy," said Crayton's agent, Fred Lyles. "He didn't consider the money. He considered his family for making his decision. His wife, son and mother are very important to him because they live in Dallas.

"He's a family person, and it means a lot to him."

Crayton will have a $1 million base salary in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2009. He receives a base salary of $2 million in 2010 and $2.5 million in 2011. In the final year of his contract, he can earn an additional $1 million if he reaches certain incentives.

This season, Dallas has re-signed quarterback Tony Romo and nose tackle Jay Ratliff to long-term contracts and reworked outside linebacker Greg Ellis' deal to give him financial security.

With Crayton out of the way, Dallas can work on reaching long-term deals with two restricted free agents – running back Marion Barber and defensive end Chris Canty. The Cowboys can also work to keep some key unrestricted free agents such as left tackle Flozell Adams, safety and special teams ace Keith Davis and running back Julius Jones.

Dallas is roughly $3.8 million under the salary cap.

By the way, I know I am supposed to pick the Cowboys game every Friday, but this one is really odd given the circumstances. But, I think you have to take the team that HAS to win, so Redskins 27, Cowboys 17. Stay healthy and classy, Dallas.

Now, on to “events I am excited about that might not make the Dallas Morning News”:

New Years Day gives the Hockey world a treat, outdoor hockey Sabres – Penguins

The recent history of the Outdoor Hockey Game

And, the main event of my weekend, UFC 79

*Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva

---History: This is the fight every MMA fan has been wanting to see. It was supposed to happen in the finals of the PRIDE 2003 Grand Prix but Quinton Jackson didn't get that memo. It was supposed to happen late in 2006 but things fall apart between PRIDE and UFC. It was supposed to happen in September or November of this year but UFC wanted Chuck on the September card and Wanderlei wouldn't be ready by September. It then couldn't happen in November because Chuck wouldn't have enough time to party before getting back to training. It was supposed to happen after Chuck knocked out Keith Jardine at UFC 76, Keith Jardine didn't get that memo. At the UFC 76 post-event press conference, Dana White said, "Liddell vs. Silva just wasn't meant to happen."

Here we are months later and this Saturday, Liddell vs. Silva happens. It's no longer a fight to determine the best Light Heavyweight in the world, it's a fight to determine who still has it and who may want to think retirement. Wanderlei Silva is coming off back-to-back losses to Mirko Cro Cop and Dan Henderson. Chuck Liddell is coming off back-to-back losses to Quinton Jackson and Keith Jardine. Even though they were facing top-level guys, no one in this sport can afford to drop three straight fights.

Silva is only 31 but three straight losses and questions about just how good he is in America (you know, where they test for performance enhancing drugs) could cut his career short. I'm not saying Silva will retire if he losses because I don't think he will but a loss to Liddell would derail his career even further.

Liddell on the other hand is 38 going on 50 thanks to all the partying he's done over the years. People questioned his lifestyle going into the fight against Jackson and people questioned his desire going into the fight against Jardine. If Liddell loses this fight by knockout, I say he retires. It's probably not the ideal way he would want to go but 3 straight losses and a loss of focus is a lot to overcome.

---Why Wanderlei Silva Will Win: Wanderlei, like most people in MMA, has a punches chance. This is a guy who never stops moving forward and lets his hands go. Chuck was knocked down and out against Jackson and knocked down against Jardine. His iron chin is no longer iron and Silva has the power to finish him if they get into slugfest, unlike Ortiz and Sobral. Some of Silva's weapons are gone though. He can no longer knee and kick guys after he knocks him down and that could play a factor. Silva also loves to use the clinch and leg kicks, something that could give Chuck trouble and something that did give Chuck trouble against Jardine. Silva has never been one for gameplans but he's been training at Xtreme Couture, home of ‘Mr. Gameplan' Randy Couture. We might just see a different Silva in this fight, one no one, not even Liddell, expected to see. That element of surprise could lead to victory for Silva.

---Why Chuck Liddell Will Win: Chuck's gameplan ranges from, "I'm gonna knock him out in the first round" to "I'm going to punch him until he falls." So I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say Chuck wants to stand and bang. Chuck is a counter-puncher who could easily catch the over-aggressive Silva with a, "crazy looping punch from a weird angle." Chuck isn't fancy with his striking but it works. Chuck is one of those rare fighters who has power while he's backpeddling. Just like at the second fight with Renato Sobral. He caught him with a very good uppercut while he was trying to avoid the strikes and takedowns of Sobral. Silva will move forward and Chuck has the power to knock him down while he's moving away from Silva. Although I don't think Silva will try and take Chuck down, he would have to get past the LEGENDARY SPRAWL~! first. Chuck has been wanting this fight for years and that hunger could drive him to a victory.

---How It Will Happen: They'll take the center of the octagon and they will bang it out. I think Silva will sprinkle some kicks in with his punches and I think Chuck will check them better than he did against Jardine. After some stalling and back up punches, Wandy will let his hands go, Chuck will avoid, and Chuck will knock him down and out. Chuck will do his usual celebration, talk to Joe Rogan, plug the after-party, and go get drunk.

*Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre for the Interim Welterweight Title

---History: At UFC 50, Matt Hughes defeated Georges St. Pierre via armbar just as the first round ended to capture the vacant Welterweight Title. After Hughes won 4 straight fights and St. Pierre won 5 straight fights, they met again at UFC 65. There, St. Pierre went on to destroy Hughes in two rounds to capture the UFC Welterweight Title. Hughes defeated Chris Lytle at UFC 68 to earn a title shot and St. Pierre lost the title to Matt Serra at UFC 69. It was announced that Matt Hughes and Matt Serra would be coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 6 and that they would meet for the Welterweight Title at UFC 79.

As The Ultimate Fighter 6 drew to a close and UFC 79 become closer, Matt Serra herniated a disc in his back and was forced to withdraw from the fight. After considering Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves as replacements for Hughes, St. Pierre stepped up. UFC made it official just days later: Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre for the Interim Welterweight Title.

Hughes has not fought since UFC 68 and has been training for months for a fight. St. Pierre defeated Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 in August and is taking this fight on just over a months notice. Hughes is obviously better prepared and in his mind, this fight will go differently than the fight at UFC 65.

---Why Matt Hughes Will Win: Hughes will win this fight if he can take the fight to the ground and neutralize GSP. Hughes' dream is to knock someone out but that's tough to do when you've never been known as a good striker with any type of power. Matt Serra proved that GSP has a suspect chin though so maybe Hughes will get his knockout but I wouldn't bet on it.. We all know that Hughes is going to try and use his strength to takedown GSP and then pound on him or work a submission from there. He can't afford to stand on his feet with GSP because GSP will likely pick him apart much like he did at UFC 65. Hughes has an advantage in training as well since he's been preparing for a fight for months now while GSP probably let himself go a bit after his fight with Koscheck. I'm sure GSP stays in good shape year round but there's a difference between in-shape and fighting shape. Hughes may want to test the cardio of GSP, knowing he didn't get a full training camp in. If Hughes can push this to the later rounds, he has a very good chance to steal the rounds and either win the decision or finish him.

---Why Georges St. Pierre Will Win: St. Pierre is a much better striker than Hughes and he showed great takedown defense in his second fight with Hughes and against Koscheck. If St. Pierre can keep this fight standing, we'll likely see a repeat of UFC 65. GSP didn't let his hands go against Koscheck and rather took him down, which could tell someone that he's afraid to get hit after the Serra fight. Still, GSP is a much better striker than Hughes and hold the advantage on the feet. Even if it goes to the ground with Hughes on top, GSP is no slouch. He could easily catch Hughes in a submission and end it. GSP could also turn the tables on Hughes and put him on his back, where no wrestler wants to be. The worry with GSP will be his mental state and his training. Will the fact that he knows Hughes had a full training camp get into his mind and make him push the action, thinking he has to end it early because he won't be all there conditioning wise late? Little things like that have bugged GSP in the past so it could easily play a factor this Saturday.

---How It Will Happen: Despite both guys saying this fight will be different than the second one, I just don't see it. Hughes will try to take GSP down and he'll fail because St. Pierre's wrestling ability is outstanding. On the feet, GSP will likely pick apart Hughes. I think Hughes will survive one round longer this time out though and that at some point, the fight will hit the ground. Still, before the third round ends, GSP will be going for the backflip, likely landing on his knees, and Dana will put the Interim Welterweight Title around his waist.

There you have it folks, AN IN-DEPTH LOOK~! at the two big fights on Saturday. For a quick preview and predictions from myself and the rest of the staff on every fight at UFC 79, make sure to check out the roundtable.

Personally, I think Lidell and GSP win. I love Matt Hughes, but if you saw the 2nd fight between these two, you cannot pick Hughes with a clear conscience...

UFC 79

Lost is returning soon!

Lost details

ABC made headlines last year by moving its sophomore hit “Grey’s Anatomy” to Thursday, opposite CBS’ heavy-hitter drama “CSI.”

Next month, the network will attempt a similar maneuver—only now the deck is stacked more in its favor.

Starting Jan. 31, ABC has scheduled the highly anticipated fourth season of "Lost" for Thursdays at 9 p.m., the slot currently occupied by “Grey’s.”

Such a move normally would be much riskier, since “Grey’s” is higher-rated than “Lost” and any show in its slot has to face “CSI” and NBC’s “The Office.”

But with “Grey’s” and “CSI” going into repeats due to the writers strike, and “The Office” being replaced with the less ratings-certain “Celebrity Apprentice,” ABC can afford to put “Lost” into the slot on a guest visa.

The only major schedule play that hasn’t worked out for ABC was slating a 13-week hiatus for “Lost” last year, a move that happened to coincide with the show hitting a creative nadir.

The network had planned to bring back the serialized drama after the first of the year and run the entire season straight through, a la “24.” But the writers strike left ABC with a partial season and a Catch-22 dilemma: Bring back “Lost” for another brief stint and then a hiatus like last year, or make fans wait more than a year for it to return next fall.

With “24,” Fox opted to wait until the writers strike is resolved. With “Lost,” ABC decided to move forward—despite objections in the press from the show’s executive producers.

Mr. Bader said the network always intended for “Lost” to return. “We were never discussing not having those episodes air,” he said.

Sidney Crosby Fights!


Jordan said...

Looks like an absolute miserable day to be out in Chicago! (coming from a guy who thinks Dallas is cold right now)

I am so ready for MB3 to get his payday. Maybe we can shift some Julius money over to him, along with some plays.

The Rice Man said...

How dare you pick the Redskins. Get off my bandwagon!! Hail to the Redskins!! And at least my trip to colder Minnesota had an indoor game!! Happy New Year Bob

Jay said...

I'd rather see Redskins than the Vikings in the playoffs, either way I hope this doesn't bite the Cowboys in the rear end ala Golden State style.

I never like seeing losses so I don't suppose I'll mind if the Cowboys do win. It's just I think the Vikings have more fire power with that running game of theirs and the defense and a QB that's starting to make plays.