WOW!! What a weekend of sports. I seriously contemplated calling in sick today because I was just so worn out from all the events of the past weekend. I was gonna speak almost exclusively on the Florida-FSU game and add in a few other observations that I had, but I just received an email from the FCC that said I was obligated to share my opinion on the Pistons-Pacers fight since I write about sports...these are the rules folks. I don't make them, I just obey them. I can hardly contain myself so we'll just get right to it as I have lots of work to avoid and even more things to spout off on.
Florida-FSU: "I can see Blue, he looks glorious"...On Saturday night, for some reason I kept thinking about Ron Zook laid out on the lockerroom floor with that goofy smile of his and saying this quote. Whenever your head coach reminds you of Frank the Tank, its not a good thing. With that being said, Zook did a great job in Tallahassee. He clearly learned his lessons during the Florida losses and never got too conservative when he could have on Saturday night. The best example of this is when Florida was facing 4th and inches on their own 30 yard line with less than 3 minutes remaining. This scenario was almost identical to one faced by Zook and Co. against LSU (except Florida was up by 4 in this case) earlier this season where Ron chose to punt and LSU drove down the field to score with less than a minute remaining. That, to me, is the true test of a good young coach....does he learn from mistakes? Of course, you can, say that he wouldn't have done that if he hadn't already been fired. I disagree. Some school is going to get a much improved head coach when/if Zook decides to coach in college football again.
FSU's #1 ranked rush defense wasn't up to the task. They were manhandled by the Florida offensive line in the 4th quarter. They are a very good defense but there is a difference (a big one) between having the best rush defense in the nation when you play in the SEC as oppossed to the ACC. It's just that simple. You don't see the same quality of backs and offensive lines in the ACC, period. This also happened to be the best run blocking offensive line that Florida has seen in many years. Quite a departure from the passive, pass-oriented lines of the Spurrier era. This year's Florida O-line was nastier than the bathroom after Joe McGrail comes back from CiCi's pizza. Ugh.
I never thought that I'd say that the SEC's leading rusher is underrated but that is EXACTLY what I'm saying. Ciatrick Fason didn't even get nominated as a semifinalist for the Doak Walker award. Yet, he went out and put the Gators on his shoulders on that last drive like the workhorse that he's been all year and led them to what was the winning touchdown. He is as good a running back as you will see in terms of all around ability and he's a pretty damn good pure runner as well. Sadly enough, I think Saturday's performance sealed his entry into the NFL Draft but I will continue to hold out hope that he returns for his senior year. One final note, for those of you who don't know...Ciatrick is married to a woman named Yolanda and they have two children named Ciatrick Jr. and, you guessed it, Yolanda Jr. How can you not root for a guy with a daughter who is a Jr. and a son named Ciatrick? That's like rooting against Lydell Ross after you found out he was using counterfeit money from a strip club called Pure Platinum, it just doesn't make sense.
Speaking of next year, Florida has 34 of the 44 guys on their two deep returning for next year barring any transfers or NFL entries. You think this won't be one of the most talented teams in the country over the next two years? If the new coach (cough, Urban Meyer, cough, cough) can convince Fason, Degory and Crowder to stay then the only significant contributor that we'll lose is OJ Small. Can we start spring practice yet?
Last spring, Florida fans were devastated when we missed out on All-World LB recruit Keith Rivers, who was from Orlando, to Pete Carroll and USC. At this same time though, we got a commitment from another LB from Orlando named Brandon Siler. Yes, the same Brandon Siler who has had 22 tackles including 6 for loss in his last two games. Rivers may end up being a great player but Siler is already on his way. The kid is a STAR and we have him for at least two more years. Its not exactly discovering Pam Anderson on a jumbotron but its a nice surprise nonetheless.
After FSU's contrived dedication ceremony and subsequent loss, Florida fans have already taken to calling it Ron Zook Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. Where can I buy the T-shirt? Now good 'ole Booby has to sit for an entire offseason with a losing record on the field NAMED for him. Really, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
As many of you know, I had to work a Christian concert all day on Saturday. I actually had to listen to the first 3 quarters of the game on an AM/FM walkman while Christians danced and sang (horribly out of rhythm, no less) all around me. In order to prepare for this, I skipped my normal Friday night routine (getting so drunk that I pass out on my lawn) and kept it light by going out for an hour and being back home by 11:30. As I drank my last beer and watched the end of the Syracuse-Memphis game, I decided to check on the Pistons-Pacers. I flipped channels just as Ron Artest was fouling Ben Wallace. What ensued was the greatest 10 minutes of my sports year. I am not going to pretend to be appalled because, frankly, I don't have to...like so many talking heads do. That WAS fantastic.
What in god's name were those two Mexican dudes who ran onto the court after Artest thinking? "Hey, the craziest dude in the NBA is in a fit of rage...lets go get him." And if you're going to go after Artest, maybe you should think about getting that first punch in, huh? That one guy got up to Artest and froze, bad times.
The second Mexican definitely caugh the worst of it as he had no idea that Jermaine O'Neal was coming in for the biggest haymaker this side of Rocky 4. That punch from O'Neal has moved past Nolan Ryan punking Robin Ventura as my all-time sports fight moment. Yes, I have a list for these things. What, you don't?
Can we really be surprised that Jermaine O'Neal reacted this way? I mean, he did learn the NBA ropes in Portland under the watchful eye of such noted pacifists as Rasheed Wallace and Ruben Patterson.
One thing slipping thru the cracks is the restraint shown by Rasheed Wallace in all of this. This is a man who just three years ago would've been voted "Most likely to commit a felonious assault on an oppossing fan" at the annual GM meetings each summer. Of course, I'm willing to bet that if Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje were in the stands that Rasheed would've at least thrown a ball at his head when he wasn't looking.
Stephen Jackson is completely nuts, without a doubt. Of course, we should've known this when he turned down the defending World Champion Spurs' offer for a slightly better offer from the Atlanta Hawks two summers ago, but Friday night sealed it. If you ask me, HE should've been suspended for the season, not Artest. Did you see some of the punches he was throwing at people? At least Artest had been provoked. I half expected him to kick a pregnant woman in the stomach while he was in the stands.
Surprisingly few people have seen this clip but Jamal Tinsley slammed an old white dude to the floor before hopping the scorer's table and joing the fracas and somehow he has escaped suspension. Apparently its only wrong to fight fans, not employees of the team that you're playing. Good to know.
With all the violence in sports right now do you think Rudy Tomjanovich would be offended if the Lakers did a Rudy T and Kermit Washington bobblehead night? You know, to pay homage to the roots of all this FANTASTIC NBA action. You could even have Rudy as the bobblehead and have Kermit with a bobblearm with real punching action. Can you imagine how much these things would go for on Ebay? I can say stocking stuffers, can you?
The Expos/Nationals traded for Jose Guillen last week. Does anybody else think that they were severly dissapointed in the general lack of craziness that Carl Everett showed this past year and decided to go with someone who had a little more to prove, in the "guys who may inexplicably snap at any moment" category? No? Me neither.
Did you hear Tommy Bowden trying to blame the ridiculous Clemson-USC fight on the Pistons-Pacers fight? I call shenanigans. Yeah Tommy, it was definitely the highlights they saw that caused your guys to act like complete and total thugs. It couldn't be the fact that you recruited complete and total thugs, could it? Not to worry, you'll be recruiting 200 pound offensive tackles now that Spurrier is at South Carolina. Might be time to call Terry and ask him if John Saunders is fun to hang out with on Saturdays.
Julius Hodge has put on at least 15 lbs. in the offseason. That puts him up to a solid 160, at least. I'm not saying that he used, um supplements, but if his head keeps growing then you might want to see if Barry Bonds' tried to steal his personal chef this summer.
As I watched Memphis play St. Mary's on Thursday night, the announcers made reference to John Calipari feeling better than ever after his hip replacement this summer. Huh? Is John Calipari secretly 74? What man his age needs a new hip? Furthermore, what is it with coaches and hip replacements? Larry Brown just had one, Coach K had one like two years ago. The only person I ever knew who had a hip replacement was my Grandma and thats because she fell on the ice and broke her hip every winter. It was like her very own version of the Christmas card. You always knew that it was time to put up the tree when Grandman broke her hip. But seriously, is it all that stomping and crouching that causes coaches hips to go out? Is it only basketball coaches? Do insurance companies know about this phenomenon? Do coaches have to get special coverage? I'm full of questions right now.