There is a lot of football news in the wind but, frankly, there is only one thing everybody is interested in. Rex Ryan’s wife. Tattooed on his ass, er arm. Dressed only in a Dirty Sanchex jersey. No wonder Tebow couldn’t get on the field and finished the season in quarterback production somewhere behind the St. Louis Rams’ punter. Meanwhile, gossip purveyors on the internet have been pondering what tattoos Bill Belichick might have.
The second best story is, JOHNNY FOOTBALL. Dude is legit. What kind of dropoff did Johnny Manziel have after all the Heisman hoopla and partying? None. Opening drive of the game, Mr. Football capped off with a 23 yard TD run. Score was tight through the first half, but Texas A&M never let the Sooners really into it. In the second half, they just flat blew the doors off of Oklahoma. Manziel ended up with a FBS bowl record 229 yards rushing on 17 carries, and completed 22 of 34 passes for another 287 yards. 516 yards of total offense by himself. The Aggies are very good, and their offensive line is as good as I have seen in some time. They would kill Notre Dame, and have already soundly beaten Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I’m going to catch hell from the Gulf Coast Pirate but, say what you will, right now Texas A&M is the best college football team on the planet.
Also, it seems, there is some professional football on this weekend. Before we get to that, there were a boatload of coaches and GMs sacked on Monday. The chips are starting to fall into place. Andy Reid is in at the Chefs and Scott Pioli is out. Speaking of Chips, Kelly from the Oregon Ducks is looking good for the Brownies, who are putting a full court press on here is Phoenix where the Quackers just blew out Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Cardinals are, of course, behind the curve and are looking at one of the bigger jerks in football, Todd Haley. Oh, and the Jets are sniffing around Norval Turner.
As for the games, first up Saturday is Cinci at the Tejans. Houston should be the better team, but they are in a serious funk and the Bungles ar on a real roll. Lot of sports media types are picking the Bengals for the road win. Not me, I think Houston pulls it together enough to eke out a win. The nightcap Saturday, however, is far more interesting. Vikings at the Packers. On the Frozen Tundra. Under the lights, snow flurries and temps in the low 20s. Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers. This is good stuff. Peterson has just worn out the Packers on the ground this year. But that was in the dome at home and when the weather was better in GB. The Pack may not stop #28, but they can likely contain him enough to make Christian Ponder beat them. But Rodgers is the one more comfortable in the cold. The Vikings are not going to eat the Cheese twice in a row.
The early game Sunday is the return of the Colts to Baltimore. Andrew Luck really cut down on the turnovers down the December stretch and the Colts believe. But Ray Lewis is returning for his “last ride” after announcing he will retire at the end of this season. I was shocked how at peace with the decision Lewis really seemed; he appears to really mean it. Say what you will about Ray Lewis, but the man was a monster on the field. The only other defensive player that I’ve ever seen who was so dominant, for so long, was Lawrence Taylor. And Lewis is a more critical team leader than LT was. Is it Andrew Luck’s time to shine, or will Ray Ray live to play yet another day? No clue, I rate it a dead toss up. Maybe slight edge to the Ravens; Flacco always wins at least one playoff game every year he’s been in the league.
Which leaves what may well be the best for last. The showdown between super rookies RGIII of the Skins and Russell Wilson and the Squawks. RGIII has all the glitz and pub, but I think the Seahawks have the better team. Especially on defense, where they are big, fast and very, very good. This will be only the second playoff game ever played at Fed-Ex Field, the last being in 1999 win against the Lions, of all people. But the Squawks are not the Criminal Docket Kittehs. Wilson and RGIII, and Marshawn Lynch and Alfred Morris may just cancel each other out in a wash. But Seattle is superior on defense by a lot. That is the difference.
The music this weekend is in honor of Rex Ryan and is, of course, from Tattoo You.
And now with the preview for Monday night:
I have been having a pretty interesting discussion off blog with Gulf Coast Pirate about the coaching carousel and big money in college football. The long and short is that his team, the Houston Cougars, has a hot young coach, and my team, the ASU Sun Devils, needs one. Enrollment wise, ASU is in the top five in size, has surprisingly good research and business sponsorship, fantastic facilities for football including a nearly 80,000 seat stadium that, with healthy attendance (especially full attendance) is a gold mine for cash flow. Oh, and starting in less than 30 days, we have our full share of this:
The Pac-10 — soon to officially become the Pac-12 — has agreed to a 12-year television contract with ESPN and Fox that will more than triple its media rights fees and be the most valuable for any conference in college sports.
The contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, will be worth more than $225 million per year — or $2.7 billion over the life of the deal, Sports Business Daily and The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Why does all this matter? Because hot young coaches, Like Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, do not come cheap. The former coach at ASU, Dennis Erickson, was making in the vicinity of $1.25 mil/yr. ASU was making backchannel offers to Sumlin reportedly in the vicinity of $2.5-3 mil/yr. Several key locals thought they had their man, and were all set to fly to Houston to make it official after the Cougars’ league championship game against Southern Mississippi today. But noooooo, the damn Aggies from Texas A&M up and fired their perfectly good coach, Mike Sherman, and they are hot to trot over Sumlin. Reportedly, the new asking price for Sumlin is now starting in the $3.5-4 mil/yr range. ASU has already bailed on that race.
The interesting dynamic here is that it is certainly not that ASU doesn’t have the money and facilities to compete with A&M; they do in spades. Not to mention that, while you may not beat them every year, ASU can easily be very competitive with USC and Oregon every year. The chances of consistent success are WAY better at a place like ASU in the Pac than they are at A&M where they have deteriorating facilities and will never consistently complete in the top tier of the SEC. Yet ASU threw in the towel. Why? I am not sure yet. Mostly, I think, we just have a crappy and weak AD, Lisa Love. Love should be toast along with Erickson to be honest.
Now the point here is not to pitch ASU as a destination, but just to show how wild the money in college football really is. It is easy to scoff at the giant sums of money paid to a coach like Kevin Sumlin to move jobs, especially in light of the skyrocketing tuition for students, depressed salaries for educators, and general costs of education. But, that said, the difference between 50,000 and 78,000 butts in seats at Sun Devil Stadium for fall Saturday nights is one hell of a lot of money. And huge for the local downtown economy too. So, yeah, when you really count the money it brings in, it is probably worth it. Not to mention that I live in a state with many idiots; there is a big and positive buzz about how UofA scored by hiring Rich Rod and how they were going to overtake ASU in football (they OWN our ass in basketball already, and most other asses in the Pac too). That cannot maintain (and never has in modern history), the Devils must do something!
So, onto the games!! Houston and Southern Miss for the Conference USA Championship (hey Brett, are you there?) is already underway on ABC. USM is actually a decent team (their coach, Larry Fedora also on the ASU list by the way), but Houston is going to move to 13-0 here and get a BCS bid. Baylor plays the Whorens for whatever title is at stake; go RGIII. The Georgia Gawgs are a good team, but LSU will run over them for the SEC crown. The glam pick is for the Sooners to upset Okie State in Big-12, I don’t think so. Lastly, the best game of the day (actually, this one at night, is the inaugural Big-10.2 Championship between Michigan State and Wisconsin. Sparty beat the Badgers at the end of the game on a bogus play earlier in the year. Even though this is in Lansing, I think Russell Wison, Monte Ball and the Badger Boys win in a great game.
I will add in some pros stuff in a bit. The music this week is by a little known guy, except in music circles, Jerry Riopelle. He was, still is I guess, really good. For bmaz trivia buffs, I think the girl with him in the duet and playing guitar, though not positive (it is bad video copy and has been a LONG time) is Llory McDonald, who I went to high school with and knew pretty well.
Make some Trash noise, will ya?