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November 24, 2010 5:00 PM

Column Awards of the Week (11/17-11/23)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particularly passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly (though some may become reoccurring).

Column Awards for slide.jpgI'm not against innovation. I'm not against sports taking place in new, unique venues that draw some extra media attention. Recently Michigan State has talked about having a basketball game aboard an aircraft carrier (possibly against North Carolina next year on Veteran's Day). That sounds a little crazy, but ok. What I'm not alright with is when the venue changes the game. 

Northwestern and Illinois played at Wrigley Stadium last weekend and it was a big mistake. If you haven't read about it or seen the pictures, there were six inches between the back of the east end zone and a BRICK WALL. So there was a little bit of padding on that wall but once officials saw how unsafe it was they made the decision to have the offenses always going towards the west end zone. 

Here's how Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times described it: "... a game of ridiculous, especially disorienting proportions was the only logical outcome.

Northwestern and Illinois put on a show at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon, though I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I saw. It was part football, part spectacle, part great migration. It was wholly entertaining."

My problem with this is that it is exactly part football and part spectacle. Sure it was entertaining, but you know what else would be entertaining? How about we grease up the ball, let field goals be worth 5 points, have 2 footballs in play, and allow each team to select one celebrity to play permanent QB. Neither of these are football.

Clearly, there were major issues planning this event. How did they not know this was a problem? The Notre Dame-Army game at Yankee Stadium went off without a hitch because they had already drawn up dimensions and new exactly how the field should be laid out. This Wrigley game should be a one-time fluke unless they can find a way to play football the way it was meant to be played.

Starting the Riley Watch

Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel starts the Riley watch: What sounds crazier today? The downtrodden, lackluster Heat getting blown out at home by an Indiana team that hasn't made the playoffs the past four years, 93-77? Or Riley returning somewhere down the line if this doesn't change?

To be fair, the Riley watch began the minute LeBron made his decision. But the floodgates opened after getting killed by the Pacers. So much for beating the Bulls' record for wins. The Heat now stand at 8-6. That Bulls team didn't lose their sixth game until February. Who isn't enjoying the Heat falling apart?


Crank of the Week

Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated is up in arms over this middle school trick play. Deford wrote:

Sure, it was legal, but it wasn't fair. Laugh at kids being outslicked by a grown-up, and you're cruel. That isn't sport.

Well call me cruel! These types of things are hilarious. And also, I'm not lauging AT the kids. In fact, I'm probably laughing with them. There's a great chance that after a little while, the opposition found the play pretty funny too. Haven't we learned in sports that if it's within the rules than it's fair game?

Best Line About Tiger's Reinvention

There were a ton of articles about Tiger trying to fix his image with him joining Twitter about a year after his car accident that started it all. I expected a lot of awesome/horrible lines just as there had been throughout the Woods' drama. But sadly, there weren't many. But Bruce Arthur of the National Post came through: If he ever does decide to genuinely reveal himself, then you can't help but look forward to Tiger tweeting something along the lines of "Hey, can someone tell me how to delete a tweet? You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye."

Latest Complaint About the BCS (that doesn't make sense)

Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune is the latest to rail against the excessive amount of bowl games. But he reasons that it's the BCS that has caused this and that has made all-but the championship game meaningless: The BCS has ripped the heart out of the bowl system, and if you give it some thought, even their own. The Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta, the four BCS bowls leading up to the National Championship Game (which still produces a mythical titlist), don't really mean a thing ...

What I don't understand is how it was better before the BCS. There were less bowls but then weren't they all meaningless? He then writes how there should be a playoff system but doesn't he know there will almost definitely be all these pointless bowls if there is a playoff system? Those 7-5 teams will still be playing in the FrankenBerry Cereal Bowl. There would just be a few bowls that meant more because they'd be involved in the actual playoff.

Latest to Strike Down Paying College Players (that doesn't make sense)
With this Cam Newton incident (do I need to alleged here?) columnists are back to talking about whether or not colleges should pay student athletes. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times believes they should not: With coaches making millions while players can barely afford dinner, is this fair? No. With universities building libraries on the spines of their studs, is this just? Absolutely not. But the beauty of college athletics lies directly in this paradox, a nation drawn to the idea of professional games played by amateurs, millions cheering for superstars in letter sweaters, inspiration bathed in innocence. If you pay the players, that aura is gone, and with it, a sports experience that is singularly passionate and uniquely American.

What?? It's not fair but it's tradition! You could've said the same about slavery. 'Well, I'd like to free these guys but they're what's great about America and its history.' The article does have some crazy slippery slope logic that's fun to read but pretty ridiculous as well.

When 37-13 Isn't Enough

The Ravens slaughtered the Panthers 37-13 but Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun didn't think that was enough: It's acceptable now just to win games because of the parity in the league, but the good teams start separating themselves from the bad ones at this time of year, not just in wins and losses, but by their play on the field. After Sunday's game, you have to question whether the Ravens have had significant improvement since the beginning of the season. If they had, the Ravens would have demolished a team like Carolina.

He does make some good points mentioning the Ravens' four turnovers but this more speaks to Carolina being absolutely horrible, but more a columnists needing to make sense of the parity in the NFL.


Premature Call to Fire Coach

Bruce Pearl was recently suspended 8 games for violating NCAA rules. Joe Biddle of the Tennessean doesn't think that's enough and wants him fired: It is a shame because it's easy to like Pearl. He has charm oozing from every pore. He buys pizzas for students camping overnight to see a game.
Pearl is a person a lot of people looked up to, only for him to let them down in the worst way.
This goes above Mike Hamilton. This is in the lap of the school's Board of Trust. It needs to do the right thing.

Don't you think that's a little harsh? Does the guy who saved the Tennessee basketball program not deserve a second chance? I don't think him lying to the NCAA means he "let [people] down in the worst way." Seems like a bit of hyperbole to me.

Straw Man Logic

Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram argues that despite Kitna's play, Romo is still the man: All that said, I feel kind of bad being a buzz kill. But I will because it has to be done. Kitna's impressive play has led to a resurgence for the non-Romosexuals who believe the Cowboys cannot win a Super Bowl with him as QB, and this has branched into two very wing-nutty factions:

1) The "Cowboys are better with Kitna than Romo" crowd, and;

2) And the "why not go get Longhorn legend Vince Young when he undoubtedly gets dumped by Tennessee this off-season to join Kitna and Romo" crowd.


Woah. Who are you talking to? I haven't heard anyone suggest that Kitna should replace Romo. Should I write a column about how the Bills should not bring back Rob Johnson and JP Losman despite the overwhelming fan support for that movement?

Stupidest Article of the Week

This Derek Jeter contract situation is getting out of hand. There are too many media members in New York and they have to cover something. They also have to strike up controversy. Here's Bill Madden of the New York Daily News doing his part: Translation (reading into the Yankees' actions so far): Much as Jeter has meant to the Yankees, he's already been paid handsomely and the reality now is he's 36, coming off his worst season and he can't expect to be paid another $100 million. By them or anyone else.

At the same time, the Yankees have made no secret of the fact they intend to be the high bidders for Cliff Lee, the free-agent lefty whose market value figures to be somewhere in the neighborhood of the seven years, $161 million they gave CC Sabathia two years ago.

As for Jeter, who apparently is looking for a five- to six-year deal, as opposed to the Yankees' offer of three years, it must be disconcerting to know they gave A.J. Burnett ($82.5 million over five years) a lot more money than they're willing to pay him. But that's the way it is in this "what-have-you-done-for-us-lately?" business of sports.

I don't understand the problem. The Yankees are going to be willing to pay Jeter more than any other team in the league. He just had his worst season from both a hitting and fielding perspective and now he wants a huge deal? Do you expect the Yankees to pay Jeter top billing just because he's Derek Jeter? He actually stands to make more money if he stays in New York. Do you think the endorsements will keep rolling in if he's a Cleveland Indian? Do you think he wants to move to Cleveland? The Yankees know these things and are doing the smart thing and Jeter should understand that.

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