Poor, poor Big 10. I love the Big 10. I bet 5 times a week, I am watching the Big 10 network to remember my roots. I am Badger. I am proud northerner who believes that when Ohio State plays Michigan that the quality is right there with the best in the USA.
My evidence is slipping. Ohio State has ruined two straight BCS Championship games. That was hardly worth watching in the 4th Quarter.
Poor Big 10.
Don’t invite the Buckeyes again …
next year's BCS National Championship Game will be played in Miami, and the Ohio State Buckeyes aren't invited. Especially if the Southeastern Conference champion is invited.
If you've ever seen lions maul a water buffalo, you've seen the last two title games. You've seen a fierce pair of SEC teams -- Florida last year, LSU this year -- blow the vulnerable Buckeyes back to the Bratwurst Belt by a combined 41 points. You've seen the best of one league flex, and the best of an inferior league collapse.
Nobody wants to see it a third time. Give Ohio State credit for consistently being very good -- but until Jim Tressel's team proves it can step up to the highest level of competition and actually stay on the field with an SEC opponent, stay away.
When the program's bowl record is 0-9 against the SEC, the evidence is overwhelming.
Buckeyes fans are fond of breaking into impromptu group spelling bees, shouting out "O-H-I-O." When an SEC team shows up on the other sideline it should be "O-H-N-O."
They're also fond of calling their school The Ohio State University. It might also now be called The Overmatched State University of the BCS.
This time the final score was healthy-and-loaded LSU 38, in-over-its-head Ohio State 24. And it wasn't that close. Once again, the Bucks got their fans excited by scoring early -- ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown last season, jumped out 10-0 this time.
Then, once again, it was time for southern-fried dominance.
Last year the Gators ran off 21 unanswered points to take control. This year the Tigers peeled off 31 straight, scoring five times in six possessions over a 30-minute span, ripping what was statistically the nation's No. 1 defense.
The Buckeyes aided in their own demise by committing a spate of personal-foul penalties. By blowing coverages. By getting a key field goal blocked. By showing neither the composure nor the competitiveness of a champion.
"They didn't fight back like an SEC team would do," said LSU safety Harry Coleman, who filled in superbly for injured All-American Craig Steltz.
This next story is shocking to me. SMU got June Jones. I can’t believe it, but you could make the case that they grabbed a better hire than Texas A&M. If the Aggies would have hired June Jones, we all would have been impressed. But SMU? I would say shocked. How did they pull this off?
JJT is on the case …
When it takes you 71 days to hire a football coach, you absolutely, positively have to win the news conference.
And that's exactly what SMU athletic director Steve Orsini did Monday afternoon.
June Jones is the right man to make SMU a real football program – not the embarrassment we've seen much of the last 20 years.
He's the right coach because he understands the complexities of rebuilding a raggedy program and no one – no one – in America knows the run-and-shoot offense better.
More important, Hawaii did everything short of kidnapping the 54-year-old to keep him in Honolulu.
The governor called. The mayor called. School children wrote letters. Military members sent e-mails. Rumor had the governor offering Jones two of Hawaii's seven islands to keep coaching the Warriors.
None of it worked, because Hawaii never wanted to make the necessary improvements to the program's subpar facilities or increase the recruiting budget until now.
Still, Jones didn't actually make up his mind to take the job until the wee hours of Monday morning. If he hadn't accepted the position, it would've represented abject failure for Orsini, hired 18 months ago to make SMU athletics relevant again.
That's because he would've been stuck with his second choice no matter how hard SMU officials tried to spin it. Some folks probably would've been happy with Larry Coker or Dennis Franchione, but each of those coaches would've arrived on the Hilltop with baggage, having each been fired from their last job
On the Clemens case, another day and another development. Jamey Newberg referenced Rob Neyer and his thoughts …Here they are…
You know what's disappointing to me?
It's not that Roger Clemens might have cheated. If he did cheat, he was just one of hundreds, and he's still a Hall of Famer in my book. It's not that if he did cheat, now he's lying about it. Most of us will dissemble about our misdeeds if we think there's a decent chance we won't get caught.
What's disappointing to me is that Clemens, with all his money and having been a family man for many years, still behaves like someone who never has grown up. A few snippets from the "60 Minutes" interview:
"I'm angry that what I've done for the game of baseball and the personal, in my private life, what I've done, that I don't get the benefit of the doubt," Clemens says. "The stuff that's being said, it's ridiculous."
"It's hogwash for people to even assume this," Clemens says.
"Twenty-four, 25 years, Mike. You'd think I'd get an inch of respect. An inch," he
adds. "How can you prove your innocence?"
[Wallace voice-over:] Clemens may appear as requested at a congressional hearing in 10 days. His challenge is getting people to believe him.
"I don't know if I can defend myself, I think people, a lot of people, have already made their decisions," Clemens says.
"Well, a lot of people have made …," Wallace says.
"And that's our country, isn't it? Guilty before innocent. That's the way our country works now. And then everybody's talking about sue, sue, sue. Should I sue? Well, let me exhaust. Let me just spend. How about, let's keep spending," Clemens says. "But I'm gonna explore what I can do and then I want to see if it's gonna be worth it, worth all the headache."
It's not fair to expect our sports heroes to be articulate and emotionally mature. After all, nobody ever told Clemens to grow up. Why should he? Becoming articulate does take time, and it's not as if Clemens wasn't working hard at his craft all those years. It strikes me, though, that if the Rocket really does want to defend himself, change the minds of a lot of people, it sure would help if he'd learned at some point to come across as something other than a spoiled, petulant millionaire who thinks he did something for baseball. Rather than the other way around.
And now to my favorite story of the day… For months , I have been pleading for the re-signing of Mike Ribeiro. I felt this was not a choice, but a requirement. They had to keep him here and build stability with a core in their 20’s.
Well, They have signed Mike for 5/25 …
Brett Hull has deferred a lot of the responsibilities of his new general manager partnership to co-GM Les Jackson, saying he had a lot to learn in terms of the intricacies of the front office.
But Hull was front-and-center Monday as the Dallas Stars announced a five-year, $25 million contract extension for center Mike Ribeiro. It was the kind of decision that pulled heavily on Hull's ability to read a player's talent.
"I feel it's my forté to understand what a player like that is capable of," Hull said. "And watching him play, I don't see a decline. I don't see this as a one-hit-wonder season. This kid is skilled, he's increased his conditioning and strength, and that will only improve."
Ribeiro, 27, could have become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The Stars have seen enough in two seasons, though, that they are basically making him their No. 1 center for the next five seasons. He is scheduled to become the team's third-highest-paid player next season at $5 million.
"We saw the money that was being thrown around in the off-season, and to have a player of this caliber who's interested in staying here and being a part of this organization, you tip your hat to him," Hull said.
Ribeiro is on pace for a career-best season. He has 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points in 41 games. He had two assists Monday in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center.
Jackson said one of the big keys in making the decision so quickly was Ribeiro's love of the organization. Ribeiro was drafted in his native Montreal and struggled to fit in with the Canadiens. He was shuffled out at a discount to the Stars in a trade for defenseman Janne Niinimaa.
But he tallied 18 goals and 41 assists in 81 games for Dallas last season and slowly found a fit on the team. This season, he has clicked with captain Brenden Morrow, and the two are leading the Stars in scoring.
"We made it clear to their camp that we wanted to re-sign him, and he said very quickly that he wanted the same thing," Jackson said. "When you have that chemistry, it's not difficult to find a place where you can agree on numbers."
Ribeiro, making $2.8 million this season, said the decision was easy.
"I am very happy to sign here. I've made a home here," he said. "The family and kids love it here. This is a great organization, and this is a team that can win the Cup."
Hull said he will put a lot of expectations on Ribeiro.
"He reminds me of myself when I first got to St. Louis," Hull said. "I scored 42 goals, and [coach] Brian Sutter grabbed me for individual meetings, and I was expecting a pat on the back. And instead it was, 'That was nothing, You have so much more to give' That's the way we're going to treat [Ribeiro].
"I really believe the strides he's made from last year to now – it's just scratching the surface of what he can be."
COWBOYS - GIANTS Stuff:
Romo is mad at the world for the Mexican Weekend hullabaloo …
The normally reporter-affable Tony Romo has avoided the media masses in two of the past three weeks, and after his weekend trip to Mexico the silence may continue.
As Cowboys coach Wade Phillips was surrounded by a cluster of 10 reporters asking about Romo's now much-publicized weekend trip with tight end Jason Witten and "friend" Jessica Simpson, Romo walked past in clear ear shot. And as he walked down the hall he said, "I'm not talking Wednesday, either."
Since he has become the starting quarterback of the Cowboys, Romo's fame and popularity have grown exponentially. That part, he is OK with. It's the extra attention generated by his personal life that are now part of Internet lore and the Us Weekly pages that he, apparently, isn't fond of. Hence the new Marcel Marceau impersonation.
"He's dating a celebrity; obviously, that becomes news. I don't know how relevant it is, but it's news," Phillips said. "Tom Brady has dated several gals. They reported on all that."
Should the Cowboys defeat the New York Giants on Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs, Romo's weekend getaway will be deposited in the "Baseless Concerns" folder along with the fear that his bobble in the 2007 playoffs would derail his career.
But should the Cowboys lose, and Romo's play isn't at the same level as it was the first 14 weeks of the season, he's liable to take heat locally, and nationally... even if it is irrelevant.
"If we were to lose, and we're confident and hopefully we can win, but I don't know that would be the reason why," said Witten, who candidly admitted he and Romo and friends vacationed in Mexico during their bye weekend. "I know for sure that wouldn't be the cause [of a loss]."
It wasn't as if Romo and Witten clandestinely escaped Valley Ranch under the cover of darkness complete with fake-nose and mustache disguise. Phillips asked all of his players to get away from football and relax, not just the quarterback and tight end. A lot of players used the three days off to travel to their hometowns to see family and friends, do nothing, or vacation. Some of the players planned to attend the BCS title game in New Orleans on Monday night because Tuesday is a scheduled off day.
Only one is the "star" quarterback. And only one of them is linked with a paparazzi and gossip-pages magnet.
The resounding message from the locker room regarding any potential distraction or theoretical lack of focus was surmised by linebacker Greg Ellis:
"I don't care if he went to the moon -- as long as when 3:30 comes on Sunday he is throwing touchdown passes I don't care where he was at," Ellis said. "He has a personal life. I don't think he did anything this weekend that is going to hinder him from performing on Sunday."
NY Post on Eli the Gunslinger …
While it is true Romo has gunned him down twice this season, the reality is Eli The Kid has lived to tell about it and is out for revenge.
This time, the stakes are higher than they ever have been, and it is not lost on Eli The Kid that while he is only two days removed from his first playoff triumph, Romo has yet to win one of his own. It was Romo, remember, who could not find the trigger on the field-goal hold against the Seahawks a year ago that ended the Bill Parcells era in Dallas.
Still, he will be a much more formidable opponent for Eli The Kid than Jeff Garcia. Where Garcia
brought a water gun to the wild-card showdown, Romo will be armed with an AK-47. It means Eli The Kid will have to steel himself to match Romo bullet for bullet if he can. He acquitted himself well in the regular-season opener at Texas Stadium - just not well enough. In the Giants Stadium rematch, Romo was the more resourceful gunslinger.
None of it will mean anything when Eli The Kid comes to town Sunday, two wins from the Super Bowl.
This is sudden death now, and the pressure is on Romo. He is the one expected to win. He is the one who has staggered (1 TD, 5 INTs) over the last three games. He is the one with the reputation as a fearless - and feared - gunslinger. Eli The Kid doesn't have to keep Terrell Owens (ankle, he's playing) from pouting and disrupting the best-laid plans of mice and Wade Phillips' men. Eli The Kid doesn't have to keep the paparazzi off Jessica Simpson. All he has to do is exactly what he did in Tampa - find a way to get out of town alive and book a ride into Green Bay or Seattle the next week.
Eli The Kid will have to be accurate again, and he will have to be smart again, and remind himself that so much as one mistake could kill him. He will need to take more shots than he did against Garcia because Romo will be taking his shots. He will need to be Butch Cassidy and Plaxico Burress will have to be The Sundance Kid. If the Giants cannot run, Eli The Kid knows he will not be able to hide.
But the past two weeks have showed us Eli The Kid is no longer falling off his horse, no longer slow on the draw. He went eyeball-to-eyeball with Tom Brady and never blinked. Then, in Tampa, he looked more like a cold-blooded assassin than he has ever looked since we've known him.
Cool Hand Eli.
That poker face . . . Romo won't know what Eli The Kid will be thinking. Because no one ever does. For four years now, Eli The Kid has conned all the city slickers who check his pulse every day. He offers little into the window of his soul. He must be comfortable in his own skin because he won't change for anybody. And it drives everybody crazy. Now we're starting to think this all amuses him. But it is this very trait that is starting to make him dangerous on Sundays. Even as the bullets fly, Eli The Kid won't unravel.
Eli The Kid's Comin'.
The Giants are happy to be on the road …
The New York Giants regard the Dallas Cowboys as formidable divisional playoff opponents.
But pardon them if they don't view Sunday's venue, Texas Stadium, as a house of horrors. Not to discount Cowboys fans or New York's opening-season loss in Irving, but the Giants don't see those as reasons for trepidation.
They are 8-0 on the road since that meeting.
"We like people to hate us, I guess," 16th-year veteran defensive end Michael Strahan said after Sunday's 24-14 wild-card win at Tampa Bay. "People screaming at you, telling you that you [stink], it motivates you a little bit.
"We're all we have when we're on the road. And it's a long plane trip back when you're not winning. Guys refuse for that to happen. For some reason, the road has worked for us."
Media members have suggested that New York's 3-5 record at Giants Stadium is a sign it can't handle the intense scrutiny, particularly of quarterback Eli Manning and coach Tom Coughlin. But that is of no concern now, since the Giants won't be back even if they make the NFC title game.
This looks pretty cool: The Trailer for the new Batman …
Here are a couple new blog endeavors:
Baseball Time in Arlington is a new Rangers blog that looks cool, and is updated frequently by Joey. Check it out often…
The Sports Pen , is another local blog that looks at everything with a fair amount of potty-mouth laced commentary. Enjoy.
If someone were to bet me that SMU (a non-BCS school) would land a coach from an undefeated BCS bowl team this year (from Hawaii no less) before the Rangers could land a front line free agent I would have said you were completely full of it.
Man, the Rangers are even worse than I thought.
Kudos to SMU that they can get something done that the Rangers could not and would not do and that's to land a top name.
You and Mickey asked the question about what team had the most pro bowlers in one season, and if the Cowboys were close.
According to pro-football-reference.com...
With Roy Williams added to this year's roster, the Cowboys tie the record of 12, previously set by the '66 Chiefs (Lenny Dawson and crew).
P1 Ben in Keller
Wire with Laughter
John Henderson is Nuts