Welcome to the GRILL ROOM

September 8, 2009 7:46 AM

Gulp, tennis anyone?

We're raking the cobwebs out of our eyes this morning and restocking the liquor shelves at the Grill Room on a Tuesday that feels so much more like a Monday...
And I'll dispense with any cheap Tequila cracks. Yer welcome.

Today we've set the menu aimed at giving our woe-is-me chefs a chance to display their diverse cooking skills. They call it their wildcat platter.
The cooks, er, chefs, claim they are so much more than just football and golf, though once again I walked in here to find those dishes were the two most popular offerings on today's menu.

I'm still new to this restaurant business, but these miserable chefs are beginning to remind me a lot of newspaper photographers.

Tomorrow, our bartenders will offer our patrons a free shot when they debut their NFL 100-proof rankings. This concoction will be be showcased each Wednesday during the season. Man, I like dealing with this group so much better.

Today's Menu:

High Stakes and Mushrooms
You might want to check with the BCS guru , Bob Birge or a few other college football experts at WSB , but Saturday's Notre Dame-Michigan matchup suddenly has some major intrigue to it, no?

Here at the Grill Room, we're touting this the Breath Right Nasal Strip Breath Easier Bowl. Yer welcome Breath Right.

Entering the year, were there two other coaches with more pressure on them than the Irish's Charlie Weis and Michigan's Rich Rodriguez?

After mis-leading the Irish to a 9-15 record the past two seasons, Weis was also saddled with meeting some bizarre preseason expectations by Lou Holtz and a fairly lofty national ranking. Given that, anything short of an 8-4 -- maybe even 9-3 -- season, would almost assuredly seal the coach's future at the school.

Meantime, Rodriguez was unsuccessfully ducking the jet-black cloud that hung over him after digging the venerable Wolverine program into the depths of a 3-9, 2008 campaign.
On top of that, there were also loud reports out of Ann Arbor that Rodriguez's players had exceeded NCAA limits on players' football-related activities -- reports that the coach strongly denied.

Finally, it broke early last week, that Rodriguez defaulted on a million-dollar loan, according to a federal lawsuit.
And you think Dick Cheney's had a tough year from a PR standpoint?

Well, to their credit, both coaches were able to escape the bad air, however temporarily, when their teams roared to impressive victories in last Saturday's openers. Granted, both squads were heavy favorites, but anything short of solid beat-downs would have only fueled the fires of discontent at the their respective campuses.

It would seem the coach of the winning team this Saturday can breath the soothing air of relief. The other would be advised to take many deep breaths and stay away from sharp objects.

Clausen's NY pickle
And while we're speaking Irish, lasses and lads...
We have a new viable Heisman candidate: Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen (even if he doesn't spell his last name correctly).

Clausen (pictured with Weis, above) has been out of this world his last two games (37-of-44, 716 yds., 9 TDs), and looked thoroughly in command of the offense on Saturday.

What really benefits Clausen, is that Weis will allow him to wing it all over the park if he eyes a weak spot or two in the secondary. As Tom Brady will tell you, the big dude's not wedded to the running game, and likes his meals and yardage in big chunks.

Clausen will be one of the Heisman finalists when all is said and done this year, or I'll eat one of my chef's hats.

Russian Undressing
Tennis? In the Grill Room?!
I told you, our chefs are on a mission today aimed at proving their diverse credentials.
So, in what passes for French cooking...

If for some reason you have been paying any attention at all to the U.S. Open, then you know that 17-year-old Melanie Oudin rolled into the U.S. Open quarterfinals over the holiday weekend by continuing to kill more Russians than cheap vodka.

Yes, Oudin's father is of French descent, but she is an American girl, which is really the storyline here.

Oudin (pictured, bottom photo) seems on the verge of providing hope to the dwindling number of American tennis fans left out there that a gal without the last name Williams might actually be capable of staying with the foreign contingent, who have taken over the game in the past decade or so.

Next up for Oudin, Denmark's 19-year-old sensation, Caroline Wozniacki.

Held og Lykke, Melanie!

Skinned Tongue of Andre
Love the NFL. Love it!
Where else do you get stories like this one? Seems after the Giants released backup QB Andre Woodson, the Redskins scoffed him up in a NY minute.

Why would the Redskins offer the skill-challenged Woodson a job, do you suppose? Because the Giants play the Redskins Sunday, that's why.

In the leave-no-stone-unturned world of professional football preparation, teams will look for any edge they can get on the opposition. The Redskins figure Woodson, drafted in 2008 by the Giants, might be good for a morsel or two given his familiarity with the Giants' attack.

As we speak, Woodson is being debriefed by the Redskin hierarchy in an effort to ferret out any secrets in the Blue camp.

And trust us in the Grill Room, if the Redskins signed him for any other reason than intel, they are in worse shape at the QB position than previously thought. Be interesting to see how long they keep him around.

Wisconsin Cheese and Onions
Finally, one for the duffers still paying attention to golf out there.

Steve Stricker's victory Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship...
...was his third win of the year.
...solidified his credentials as a viable candidate for player-of-the-year honors.
...gave him the lead over one Tiger Woods in the FedEx Cup standings.
...moved him past Phil Mickelson into the No. 2 spot in the world rankings.
...locked in his place as the tour's all-time leading weeper.

Stricker, one of the genuine nice guys on tour, has now won seven times during his career, and cried after each event.

It helps to understand it wasn't so long ago that the guy flat lost his game. Unless you've been through something like that, it's hard to fathom his amazing turnaround.
In 2005, Stricker was ranked 173rd in the world. But here he is back as one of the game's premier players.

And the No. 1 softy is chasing one of the game's all-time tough guys, Tiger Woods.

"We're taking up space in his world," the Wisconsin native said of Woods after fighting back his customary tears Monday, "But I'm thrilled to death to be playing how I'm playing."

Anymore tears from Stricker this year could mean curtains for Woods.

(Associated Press photos)

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