+ Watching the USC game last night, did anyone else chuckle at the awkward silence following the back-to-back uniform-induced timeouts to start the game? With Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge calling the game for ABC/ESPN, and as the referee announced the timeouts (for the home jersey followed by UCLA's voluntary timeout), here's how it went down:
Referee: "Failure to wear required equipment. By the kicking team. That is a violation. That is a charged timeout. The first of the half by USC. Charged timeout, UCLA, their first of the half. Those will run concurrently. 30 second timeout"
Mike Patrick: "Sounds like the O.J. sentencing."
(silence for my count of 7-Mississippi)
+ I wonder if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wakes up each morning and gets some sort of national security style briefing like the President does, except Bettman's contains a report on who call whose girlfriend a slut. As much as I think the Stars will be better off without Avery, sort of an addition by subtraction, and that's simply based on what everyone in that locker room is saying, I do think this whole league-imposed suspension is a grown-up version of the middle school assistant principle sending a kid to detention for name-calling.
If the Stars really didn't like what he said, they could have suspended him before the league did, but that wasn't going to happen. If Dallas is really serious about moving on without Avery, they should follow the lead of the NFL's Eagles and Buccaneers when those teams deactivated receivers Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson. Both teams followed Super Bowl seasons, and both teams decided that their high-priced headaches weren't worth it. The Stars, coming off a successful season, might just want to get rid of this name caller. Gawsh!
+ Cowboys are playing the Steelers today without Marion Barber and a questionable DeMarcus Ware on a cold, blustery day in Pittsburgh. If weather could ever truly describe a city, today might be the perfect Pittsburgh day. Chance of snow, Wind chill in single digits. And the only people nuts enough to go outside at all today will be the 65,050 at Heinz Field. With a healthy Barber and Ware, the Cowboys could take down Pittsburgh, but without these two Pro Bowlers, could we see the resurrection of the Steel Curtain? The Cowboys offense better find a spark with Tashard Choice or hope that there's a Doomsday revival on the other side of the ball.
+ Oh, Canada! Today the Buffalo Bills are playing their first "home" game in Toronto, the NFL's first ever game in Canada. We saw a Cardinal/49ers regular season game in Mexico a few years ago. Now the NLF is invading the Great White North. I understand playing in Mexico and England, but Canada has the CFL. Grey Cup enthusiasts will be plenty upset aboot these hosers, eh. All three other major pro sports in the US have Canadian-based teams (although technically, I'd argue the NHL is really Canada's league that we're allowed to play in), and now the NFL is beginning it's move to embrace the Canucks. Goofy-looking 20-yard end zones not required.
+ Did the Mavericks find a useful player in J.J. Barea. He put together solid games against the Clippers, Suns and Hawks, and the Mavs are rolling along at 11-8 now. It's still only good for 7th in the West, but it's a great improvement from 2-7. All without Josh Howard, by the way. Now if they can just take care of Mark Cuban's kindergarden haircut, they'll be great.
+ The GBL made Rickey Henderson a $1M offer to go into the Hall of Fame as a San Diego Surf Dawg. Some league critics on message boards are upset that a league that history doesn't spend a lot of money would solicit Rickey for seven-figures. And that's the genius of it all. Because the Hall of Fame has the final say on which cap a player wears into the HOF, the league knows the possibility of Rickey as a Surf Dawg is virtually none, while the publicity generated is virtually a lot.
+ I tried to get through this week without talking about this, but I just can't. I'm weak. But how the heck does a world class athlete shoot himself in the freakin leg?! I swear, carrying a gun in your sweatpants. Plaxico Burress could lose up to $27M in salary and spend years behind bars. Doesn't make Terrell Owens look so bad now, huh?
+ Obligatory mention of Manny Pacquiao defeating Oscar De La Hoya. I don't care. Moving on.
+ Looks like the college football national championship will go down between Oklahoma and Florida, a pair of one-loss teams, but the Rose Bowl match up between USC and Penn State should be just as good. Penn State runs the spread, while USC has been led by a defense that gave up 93 points on the season. Oh, and these two teams have just one loss each as well. The BCS title will be decided in Miami, but the best game of the BCS Bowls will be played in Pasadena.
+ Finally, speaking of BCS Championship games, we're seen plenty more blowouts than close, amazing games. Here's some of the recent bloodlettings in the title game:
2007-08: LSU 38, Ohio State 24 - enough OSU
2006-07: Florida 41, Ohio State 14 - so much for being undefeated
2004-05: USC 55, Oklahoma 19 - OU was supposed to roll; rolled over instead
2003-04: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14 - not as close as 7 point difference
2001-02: Miami 37, Nebraska 14
2000-01: Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
2005-06: Texas 41, USC 38
2002-03: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2OT)
Happy football watching today. I'll be back Monday with some thoughts on the Cowboys-Steelers, providing I don't repeatedly slam my head into a wall during this match up.