Friday, December 29, 2006

F It...Let's go bowling

I enjoy writing all my articles for the WAD, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy writing some more than others. Well, this is one of the articles I really enjoy writing. That’s right, it’s Part I of my bowl preview. Here’s how this is going to go down…today I’m simply going to give you my predictions for the pre-January 1 bowls, and then I’m going to give you predictions and breakdowns for the New Year’s Day games and the first four BCS Bowl Games. Don’t act surprised. Did you really think I wasn’t going to milk the National Championship Game for its own column? Here we go:

THE UNDERCARD

1) Clemson -11 vs. Kentucky

2) Missouri vs. Oregon St. OVER 52

3) Houston vs. South Carolina OVER 56

4) Maryland +1 vs. Purdue

5) Texas Tech -6.5 vs. Minnesota & OVER 65.5

6) Navy +6 vs. B.C.

7) Texas vs. Iowa OVER 53

8) Georgia +2.5 vs. Va. Tech

9) Miami -3.5 vs. Nevada

NEW YEAR’S DAY ACTION

1) Tennessee -4 vs. Penn State - Here’s the deal with this game: Penn State had a solid year, and they were respectable against Michigan and Ohio State, but they never gave you a reason to think that this was any better than a decent team. Tennessee, on the other hand, at times this season, looked like they might be one of the best teams in America. In short, they are a better team than Penn State, and there is no glaring reason to think Penn State will be any more motivated in this one than the Vols, so you’ve got to go with the Vols.

2) Auburn vs. Nebraska OVER 46 – Look for a bunch of trickeration from Bill Callahan, a lot of big holes for Kenny Irons, and at least one pick six from Brandon Cox. This game just reeks of points!

3) Wisconsin +2 vs. Arkansas - This is this year’s first example of what I like to call the “MF’ing” Corollary, named, of course, after the legendary gambler, Colby Chiles. Here’s how it works: when two teams are squaring off in a bowl game, and one team is disappointed to be there and the other team is either a) happy to be there, or b) has something to prove, you take the latter team. So, there you have it…all Arkansas can think about is how close they blew their chance at the BCS, and all Wisconsin can think about is how they want to prove to the world that they belonged in the BCS. Circle gets a square and I’m taking the Badgers.

4) West Virginia -11 vs. Georgia Tech - Look for the Jackets to quit after the first quarter. That’s just Chan Gailey’s style.

THE BCS

1) The Rose Bowl

Michigan +1 vs. USC - See the MF’ing Corollary above. Not to mention that the Wolverines are still holding out hope for a piece of the National Championship…stranger things have happened!

2) The Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma -7 vs. Boise St. – C’mon! You really think I’m going to take a team from Idaho against Bob Stoops? Puuuuuhhhlease!

3) The Orange Bowl

Louisville -10 vs. Wake Forest - Look, nobody would love to pick Wake more than me, but the simple fact is that there is no way Wake can score enough points to stay within 10 of Louisville. Then again, four months ago I would have told you that there was no way Wake could win 11 games and the ACC.

4) The Sugar Bowl

Notre Dame +9.5 vs. LSU - Nobody was playing better football than LSU at the end of the season, but something tells me this one is going to be closer than the experts think. Maybe it’s the fact that it is Brady Quinn’s swan song, maybe it’s that the Tigers will have a lot of distractions playing in the first post-Katrina Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, or maybe it’s the fact that, at some point, Charlie Weis has to beat a ranked team, right?

Okay, if that’s not enough for you, here’s my Week 17 NFL picks:

1) NYG -2.5 @ Washington

2) New Orleans +3 vs. Carolina

3) Cleveland +4 @ Houston

4) Detroit +13 @ Dallas

5) Jacksonville +2 @ K.C.

6) Tennessee -3 vs. New England

7) Cincy -6 vs. Pittsburgh

8) Tampa -3 vs. Seattle

9) St. Louis -2.5 @ Minn.

10) Philly -8 vs. Atlanta

11) Buffalo +9 @ Baltimore

12) Indy -9 vs. Miami

13) Arizona +13.5 @ San Diego

14) San Francisco +10.5 @ Denver

15) Chicago -3 vs. Green Bay

And, yes, I intentionally didn’t pick the Jets game because I want them to lose so badly that I’m afraid if I pick against them it will jinx me, and if I pick them, I will be supporting them. I just can’t deal with either option. What can I say? I’m insane!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rising Up...Back On My Feet...Took My Time...Took My Chances

I know I promised that this would be a marathon week of college football, but I’ve had a change of heart. Hey, it’s my blog, so I can do that, right? Well, I figure it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, so I’m doing it. What has possessed this departure from such a solid plan, you ask? I’ve got two words for you…Rocky Balboa. That’s right, yesterday I blew out of the office early and headed with the only other man as excited about this movie as me, Colby “MF”, to a late afternoon showing of the sixth and final installment of the greatest movie franchise of all time. Okay, that might be an overstatement, but I love Rocky, Colby loves Rocky, and yesterday we were finally able to properly say goodbye to Rocky and bring closure to a long and fulfilling relationship with the Italian Stallion.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to share two things. First, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I finally mustered the courage to sit down and watch Rocky V. Yes, it took me sixteen years to do it, but I finally endured the fall of Rocky and the betrayal of Tommy Gunn. It wasn’t fun, but I felt like it had to be done. I didn’t see any other way I could properly appreciate the final installment unless I forced myself to confront the tragedy I knew existed in Rocky V. Why did it take me 16 years to watch it? Well, because Rocky was and is a hero of mine. He may be a fictional character, but he has brought me more entertainment and inspiration than any other character or sports figure in my lifetime save Michael Jordan or Lance Armstrong. Therefore, the thought of sitting through two hours of him walking around punch drunk, losing his fortune, alienating his son, and getting used by Tommy Morrison for God’s sake, was just more than I could bare. But, knowing that VI presented a chance at salvation for Rocky, I felt I needed to confront V in order to fully appreciate the redemption and salvation in VI. I was right.

The second thing I have to share is that I have already ready Bill Simmons’ review of VI, and I think he couldn’t be more wrong about this movie. Of course, this seems to be par for the course for Simmons over the past year as he becomes increasingly self satisfied and arrogant. But, that’s another story for a different day, but for now, let’s just talk about why he’s wrong about “Rocky Balboa”.

Simmons claims that VI is a cry for help by Stallone. He seems to be inferring that the character Stallone is playing is somehow symbolic of how he feels about his own life. I don’t see that at all. Instead, I see this movie as a gift to all of us that have spent 16 years avoiding Rocky V. VI is essentially a living eulogy to the Stallion, which is made very powerful by the use of obscure old characters like Spider Rico and Little Marie. The use of these characters is a tremendous tribute to Rocky’s past and really helps bring the story full circle. And that, my friends, is what this movie is all about…bringing Rocky’s story full circle and giving us some piece of mind. I’m not going to give away the ending, but I will say that it couldn’t have been more perfect. Honestly, I couldn’t have scripted it better myself…simply inspiring and satisfying. I will say this: If you are like me and spent 16 years avoiding the reality of Rocky V, or you are like Bill Simmons and spent 16 years mocking and ridiculing Rocky V, you simply can’t be unhappy with VI. We hated V (or just the idea of V) because it left us feeling pity for Rocky. Well, after VI, we no longer feel pity for Rocky…we feel pride. The Stallion finally gets to walk away on his own terms with his head held high, and he manages to give us at least three solid chill/non-gay man love scenes that leave their mark. For all these reasons, I LOVED “Rocky Balboa”, and I can finally go to bed knowing that Rocky is okay. And, at the end of the day, could I have asked for a better Christmas gift? I think not!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tide Rolling Out of Control

Well, here we are. Where you ask? Right smack in the middle of the post football depression that seems to set in every year about this time for me. Sure, we’ve got a slew of bowl games, the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl. And, sure, those games will provide a lot of excitement and a lot of reasons to watch, but for me the “real” football season is over. Tech embarrassed themselves in Athens and against Wake, and now the Falcons have managed to turn a 5-2 start into an MLK Weekend ski vacation. Not to mention, the Jets stand on the verge of a playoff birth, and the Giants are probably the most underachieving team outside of the Nation’s Capital. In other words, yet another football season has turned into a personal disaster for me. Yes, I’m begging for sympathy here! Fine, enough of my pity party, as promised, let’s start a three day marathon of college football talk. Today’s topic? What the hell is going on at the University of Alabama?

When we were kids, did you ever think you’d see the day that the coach at Alabama would bolt the Tide after a 10-3 season to take the job at Texas A&M? Or, how about the day that West Virginia would turn down more money from Alabama because he already had a better job? How about the day the coach at South Carolina would leverage the Alabama job for more money? How about the day the folks at Alabama would actually delude themselves into thinking Nick Saban would walk away from $5 million/year from the Miami Dolphins to be the next guy not named Bear? Or, how about the day that Don Shula would publicly ridicule the University of Alabama on Monday Night Football? Well, me neither. Honestly, I’m fascinated by what is happening at Alabama, and what happened just last month at Miami. We are talking about two of the traditional giants in college football. I mean, between them they have 17 national championships, but for some reason, Miami couldn’t lure away the Rutgers coach, and now, Alabama can’t seem to lure anybody! What gives?

Well, off the top of my head I can come up with several reasons why nobody in their right mind would take the Alabama job. For example, here’s four:

1) Mike Dubose;

2) Dennis Franchione;

3) Mike Price; and

4) Mike Shula

In other words, it will be ten years this Monday since Gene Stallings coached his last game at Alabama, and in that time four men have held the title of Head Coach at Alabama. For those of you that went to an SEC school, that’s an average of 2.5 years per coach. Granted, Price never actually coached a game and Franchione left on his own accord, but the fact remains that over the past decade taking the job as head coach at Alabama has turned into a suicide mission. Couple that with the fact that Tommy Tuberville has put a strangle hold on in state recruiting in Alabama, and the fact that the influx of talent to Baton Rouge that started under Saban is continuing under Les Miles, and when nobody was looking Houston Nutt assembled an absurd amount of talent in Fayetteville, and it is clear that Alabama is, at best, the fourth best program in the SEC West. Yes, that’s right, only Ole Miss and Mississippi State are worse jobs in the SEC West than Alabama! This is the harsh reality facing the Crimson Tide right now. Can this reality change? Of course. I mean, they have over a century’s worth of tradition, they have 12 national titles, they have facilities on par with any program in America, including a 92,000 seat stadium, they have a state full of rich high school talent, and they have a ridiculous number of hot chicks to help with the recruiting effort. So, yes, it can change, but before it can, they have to hire the right coach to lead the way.

So, of course, the question becomes, who is the right coach? Who is the man that can come in and restore Alabama to its past glory? Well, Butch Davis would have been a good choice, but UNC beat them to the punch. I don’t think Pete Carroll or Bob Stoops are going any where. And, let’s not kid each other, Nick Saban would be crazy to walk away from the money he is making. So, in short, I have NO IDEA who the right man for the Alabama job is. Sure, I think Chan Gailey would look great in crimson, but I don’t have that good of luck! Honestly, I’ve racked my brain and I just can’t come up with anybody. Yup, that’s right, I’m all out of ideas. So, I’m turning to the WAD Nation, and I’m asking, who should the University of Alabama hire to bring back the glory?

Friday, December 22, 2006

This Has To Be the Week, Right?

Sorry for the technical difficulties yesterday. They were…well…technical, so I had no idea how to fix them. If you are just dying to comment on the repugnant picture below, feel free to let it rip here today. As for today, there is a lot of football to prognosticate, and since my ear drum just burst about 20 minutes ago, and since my analysis is worth about as much as my legal advice, I figure I’ll just give you the picks. First, this weeks bowl games followed by Week 16 in the NFL. Everybody have a great Christmas weekend and come ready to go bowling next week. Next week, college football will reign supreme on The WAD one last time this trip around the sun!

The Bowls:

1) Troy +4 vs. Rice

2) East Carolina +5 vs. South Florida

3) SJSU +3.5 vs. New Mexico

4) Tulsa -1 vs. Utah

5) Hawaii -7 vs. Arizona State & OVER 73

6) Central Michigan -9.5 vs. MTSU

7) Florida St. +4.5 vs. UCLA

8) Oklahoma St. -2 vs. Alabama

9) California – 5 vs. Texas A&M

10) Kansas St. +7.5 vs. Rutgers

The NFL:

1) Oakland +7 vs. Kansas City

2) Baltimore +3.5 @ Pittsburgh

3) Atlanta -6.5 vs. Carolina

4) Chicago -5 @ Detroit

5) Indy -9.5 @ Houston

6) New England +3 @ Jacksonville

7) NYG -3 vs. N.O.

8) Cleveland -3 vs. Tampa

9) Tennessee +4.5 @ Buffalo

10) St. Louis -3 vs. Washington

11) Arizona + 4 @ San Francisco

12) Cincy +3 @ Denver

13) Seattle +4.5 vs. San Diego

14) Dallas -7 vs. Philly

15) Miami -2 vs. NYJ

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Triumphant Return Thursday

I’ve often asked myself what could be worse than endless days of billing hours and pouring over legal research. Well, after two straight days of coughing, laying on the couch with a fever, and watching 7 episodes of “Law & Order”, as well as “John Tucker Must Die”, and “Herbie Fully Loaded”, I have my answer. On the bright side, the past two days haven’t been a total loss. I did get a text message about 8 p.m. last night from my good buddy Rudy containing these blessed words, “Reggie Ball academically ineligible.” Sure, it’s 4 years too late, but it’s something, right? Okay, enough about me, here’s a few observations followed by a long lost Thursday tradition, the caption contest…


  • Has anybody had a better week than George Karl? First, he gets to rip Isiah’s punk ass publicly, then he lands A.I.! I don’t know if this trade gives the Nuggets a chance to win the Title, but I am undoubtedly rooting for them.

  • Since I brought up Isiah, let me go around my elbow to get to my ass to say, I can’t stand Nate Robinson. I didn’t think I could respect him any less than I did after his 22 missed dunks at last year’s dunk contest, but the way he antagonized that brawl in MSG proved me wrong. He sucks, and the Knicks suck, and yes, Isiah sucks.

  • You got to love the NFL, Shawne Merriman gets a four game suspension for steroids and still gets an invite to the Pro Bowl.

  • Finally, tonight could mark the last game for Brett Favre at Lambeau Field. Sure, I’ve given Favre a lot of crap the past two years, but the fact of the matter is that he is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, and in an era of shit for quarterbacks, I long for the days when gunslingers like Elway, Montana, Marino, and Favre trolled the sidelines. Now, we’ve got Peyton & Brady (and, maybe Brees), and that’s about it. At any rate, tonight is an event. It’s bigger than Favre, it’s bigger than the Packers, it’s bigger than the NFL, it’s bigger than sports. If this is the last time Favre crawls under center at Lambeau, it will be the symbolic farewell to an era gone by, an era when quarterbacks were actually expected to win games for you instead of not just lose them…a farewell to a better era.

Now, here’s the triumphant return of the caption contest (courtesy of the warped mind of Stats):

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Where is the WAD?

In case you missed it, AI is in Denver. For both of you that care about the NBA, this is your chance to sound off.

For the rest of us, it's time to arm wrestle a reindeer.


Have a nice day,
Fite

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bowl Season

Today is the day we've all been waiting for - the Poinsettia Bowl in lovely San Diego. Everybody needs to take a minute and register here for the WAD Bowl Pick contest.

Fite's links of the day:
  • It's official, the first trailer for Die Hard 4 is online.
  • I don't watch 24, but for those of you that do here's a little Christmas treat. In an effort to celebrate the diversity of the WAD's readership, I've also included this for our Jewish buddies and this for followers of Kwanzaa. (I didn't watch very much of the Kwanzaa video, not something I wanted running on a government computer. It looks promising and I can't wait to see it at home.)
  • This guy must have had a good lawyer.

I think one of the most interesting sports stories lately is Alabama's difficulty in finding a head coach. It seems to me that candidates reject Alabama because of the administration, in spite of its heritage as a great football school. Shula might not have been the best fit, but it doesn't seem like he had much of a chance. Next year would have been his first opportunity to coach a team that wasn't under NCAA sanctions, and it's hard to say how he would have done.

Now the Tide coachless 2 point underdogs to Oklahoma State (which seems a little low, I think they should be getting more points than that). They've got to find somebody, and find them fast, otherwise next year's recruiting class will be worthless.

Has anybody heard about any interesting candidates? Is Alabama still a top notch job?

Have a nice day,

Fite

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Musings

Allow me to set the scene for you as I sit down to write another edition of Monday Musings: I’m laying on the love seat, just got home from the office a half hour ago, scarfed down one of those new Wendy’s jalapeno cheddar burgers, just nervously watched as LT mounted a furious, but ultimately futile, assault on my fantasy football team, and now, I’ve got a freshly packed pinch of pure delight between my gums, and I just started watching “The Great Raid” with Benjamin Bratt. Why am I telling you all this? Well, because it just struck me as a perfect example of a very Wadesque night, and I figured you’d like to know about it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, shall we muse? I think we shall.

  • Am I the only person that finds T.O.’s admission that he spit on D. Hall hilarious? I mean, if you ever needed proof that he’s certifiably insane, just watch a clip of that interview from the NFL Network…”yea, I spit on him, but he wouldn’t stop talking to me.” Just great stuff. And, at the end of the day, there is nobody that deserves to taste a lugie more than D. Hall.

  • Speaking of the Falcons’ debacle, I’ve got to tell you that some good did come out of Saturday night’s game. I, of course, am referring to the pairing of Deion Sanders and Bryant Gumble in the broadcast booth in the second half (I think Marshall Faulk does a nice job, but I’m so happy he was at the Cheetah until 4 a.m. smoking cigars and getting lap dances Friday night. Okay, I don’t know if that is true, but how else do you lose your voice when you get paid for talking?). For those of you that watch “30 Rock”, you couldn’t possibly have listened to these two going back and forth and not thought of Tracy Morgan’s relationship with the writer in last week’s episode. It was the highest of high comedy. There were moments (i.e. Deion incoherently rambling on about how he just can’t understand why Parcells doesn’t give Marion Barber more carries or something) that I was laughing out loud alone in my living room. I am demanding that the NFL Network keep these guys together. The awkwardness between them could make for the greatest broadcast team of all time. I’m not even kidding.

  • From the seamless transition department…speaking of “30 Rock”, somebody sent me a tremendous birthday message on Friday morning from Alec Baldwin. When I answered my phone and heard the comedic genius of Jack Donaghy on the other end of the line, it made my day. So, if you are the person responsible for it, please let me know so I can properly thank you.

  • Anybody else really excited about “Rocky Balboa”? In case you haven’t heard, Ebert and Roper gave it two thumbs up. Brace yourself, I feel a 2,000 word piece on the Rocky double trilogy coming sometime in the next few days. Call it a hunch.

  • I’m only going to say this one more time: Every NBA GM that isn’t making a play for A.I. should take a long hard look and the mirror and ask themselves why they don’t want to make their team better. And the owners that hired them should be asking themselves why they haven’t picked up the phone and dialed 1-800-THE-WAD yet! Seriously, I would work for half the price of Billy Knight, and I would have the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals in THIS YEAR. I’m not even joking about this. Of course, I am the same guy that is absolutely convinced I could whip Oscar De La Hoya’s Latin love song singing ass in a street fight.

  • Can we all agree that LT is the best running back of our generation? Seriously, if you think you can make a convincing argument to the contrary, I would love to hear it.

  • So, with all the talk this past week about Greg Knapp being interested in the Stanford job and Jim Mora apparently having a hard on for the Washington job, I started doing some thinking, and here is what I came up with: How great would it be to watch these two geniuses match wits in a showdown of winless Pac-10 teams? Seriously, we would have a legitimate chance of seeing the first game in college football history without a first down. I would pay good money to see this. By the way, Jim, Delta runs 4 non-stop flights to Seattle a day. I’d be more than happy to throw some Sky Miles your way if you need help getting out there!

  • Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got to get busy tweaking the roster and motivating my players for their big showdown against an inferior team in this week’s Machi Bowl Fantasy Championship Game. I’m pretty sure that Tom Brady will be pumped to add this ring to his collection.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Turning the Bus Around

It’s hard to believe that it has taken all season, but here we are, we are finally here. Where, you ask? Well, we have finally arrived at that point in the season where we turn the bus around. That’s right, after a season chalked full of losing, I’m going all John Anthony this weekend and running the board. Okay, that’s probably not going to happen, but it’s the season for miracles, so you never know. Here we go:

1) Atlanta +3 vs. Dallas - It’s now or never for Jim Mora and the Falcons. Hell, it’s now or never for Mike Vick. This is the biggest game on the biggest stage since the NFC Championship Game in Philly. Well, we all know how that turned out. Why is this going to be different? Well, for one, it’s inside on turf. For another, if last week is any indication, the Falcons’ receivers actually CAN catch the ball. And, finally, this Tony Romo crap has to come to an end, right? Oh, and one more thing…you need to be damn near suicidal to go against a home dog in a meaningful NFL game.

2) Baltimore -11 vs. Cleveland - Good team/bad team, and the good team is at home. And, yes, I did just throw up a little in my mouth when I referred to Baltimore as a good team. Sometimes I really hate the modern NFL.

3) Green Bay -5 vs. Detroit - Why would you ever bet on the Lions? Really, give me one reason.

4) New England -11 vs. Houston - Sure, the Pats got blanked last week, but they always struggle against the Fins. Not to mention, this is the Reggie Bush-less, Vince Young-less Houston Freaking Texans going into to Foxboro in December. I can’t think of anything else to tell you.

5) Tennessee +3.5 vs. Jacksonville - Vince Young wins football games. Forget the points, take the money line.

6) Buffalo -1 vs. Miami - Hey, I’m just as happy for Joey Harrington as any one. Well, that’s not really true. I couldn’t care less about Joey Harrington, but he has been playing well, and the Dolphins have looked great over the past 7 weeks. All that being said, this is still the Dolphins going to Buffalo in December.

7) Minnesota -3 vs. N.Y.J. - I hate the Jets.

8) Pittsburgh @ Carolina UNDER…..hell, the thought of Weinke vs. Roethlisberger was enough to scare Vegas away from even setting an over/under on this game, and now everybody but Pinnacle has taken the game off the board all together. Here’s two pieces of advice: 1) When Vegas wants no part of a game, stay far away; and 2) If given the choice of watching this game or hanging yourself with your shoelaces, good luck with that decision.

9) Chicago -13.5 vs. Tampa - The Bucs lost to the Falcons by 11 at home, so I’m pretty comfortable laying the points against them in Chicago in December.

10) New Orleans -10 vs. Washington - This just in…New Orleans is AWESOME. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are.

11) Arizona +3 vs. Denver - I’ll take the guy from SC over the guy from Vandy seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

12) NYG -5.5 vs. Philly - You know how I feel about the Giants, and you certainly know how I feel about Philly (although, I do enjoy when they win when D.F.M. is on the bench), so there is no way you can expect me to discuss this game rationally.

13) St. Louis +2 @ Oakland - There is simply NO way I could ever take the Raiders laying points…NO WAY!!!

14) San Diego -9 vs. K.C. - I’m already printing the San Diego vs. New Orleans Super Bowl XLI t-shirts.

15) Cincy +3.5 @ Indy - two teams headed in two different directions. Rudi Johnson may rush for 250 yards! Hell, the Bengals might have 600 yards total offense. Wait a minute, what am I doing here? Let’s make it a parlay….

16) Cincy @ Indy OVER 54.5 - Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm back!!!

The Saints might be the best team in the NFC, the Colts are a disaster, David Stern has admitted he was wrong about the ball, and the WAD is writing a “real” column! That’s right folks, the world is turned upside down. Ball astutely pointed out yesterday that it’s been an unacceptable length of time since I offered up a “real” column (i.e. not my weekend picks). It would be real easy for me to place all the blame on work. And, in truth, that has had a lot to do with it, but it’s not the whole story. If you must know, the biggest reason I’ve found it hard to write recently is that Reggie Ball and Chan Gailey simply sucked the soul out of me. Seriously, since the UGA loss, I haven’t been the same man. Okay, that’s not true. I’m still the same self centered, self indulgent, self gratifying prick I’ve always been, but I haven’t felt nearly as good about it over the past few weeks. And, as much as I’ve tried to get fired up about sports, including the BCS controversy, the Heisman presentation, the burgeoning NBA season, the dawn of ACC basketball, and even the trials and tribulations of the Dillon Panthers on “Friday Night Lights”, I just haven’t been able to get over the hump. Well, I’ve decided that I simply won’t let the evil duo of Gailey and Reggie to ruin another day of my life. So, with that, I’m stealing my soul back from those evil bastards and I’m moving on with my life as a sports fan.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s talk about what I think is the most important story in all of sports right now that nobody is talking about. I, of course (or not of course since nobody is talking about it), am referring to the Alan Iverson saga in Philly. Why is this such a big deal you ask? Well, call me nuts, but I think that any time one of the greatest players of his generation demands a trade, it’s a big deal. Listen, I know that A.I. is a divisive figure. It seems that you either love him or you hate him. There is no middle ground. Well, as I’ve mentioned before in this space, I am an unabashed member of the camp of folks that love A.I. I’ll never forget the day that I became an A.I. fan. It was the 1996 Southeast Regional Final between Georgetown and UMass in the Georgia Dome. It was billed as a huge battle between Marcus Camby and A.I. Before that day, I had an impression of A.I. that was undoubtedly shaped by the popular media. I believed he was nothing more than a selfish, flashy, heist box with tattoos you only get in prison. While some of that may be true, that day in the Dome, I learned a lot more about A.I. I learned that he busted his ass on both ends of the floor for every second he was on the floor. I learned that he had more energy than anybody I had ever seen. I learned that he was the quickest human being I had ever seen. And yes, I learned that he would keep shooting even when the shots weren’t falling. But, I also learned that his mere presence on the floor somehow motivated his teammates and he somehow kept his team in a game that they no had business being in. Most of all, however, as he walked off the floor crying like a baby and crumbling into the arms of John Thompson, I learned that no one that has ever laced them up has cared more about winning than A.I. Sure, some have cared just as much, but nobody has cared more.

Now, it’s ten years later, nearly 20,000 NBA points later, 4 NBA scoring titles later, 1 NBA Rookie of the Year Later, 1 NBA MVP later, 8 All Star Games later, 2 All Star MVP’s later, 1 trip to the NBA Finals later, and all this has come from a guy that can’t even sniff 6 feet tall (I don’t care what they list him at) and is 175 lbs. soaking wet, and from a guy that has been with the same team, in one of the toughest cities in America to play any professional sport. And, after these ten historic and admittedly tumultuous years in Philly, things have finally come to a head and A.I. is on his way out, and I am upset about it…very upset. In this world of free agency and ever changing rosters, through it all, through Larry Brown and the litany of other coaches that have come through Philly over the past decade, through a collection of teammates that never contained a legitimate number 2 option, through the arrests, the rap albums, and even all the PRACTICES, the relationship between A.I. and Philly was strained to its limits, but it was never broken. He never left, and they never abandoned him. And, it seemed fitting, because every adjective that comes to mind when you think of Philly (tough, gritty, dangerous, historic, etc…) also come to mind when you think of A.I. In short, A.I. was part of Philly and Philly was part of A.I. Strangely enough, despite the fact that A.I. was often used by the media as an example of the “new school” in the NBA (because of the hip-hop, the guns, and the tattoos), he is, in fact, a throwback. He is a guy that has shown up 82 nights a year, laid his guts on the line, and given everything he had to one team and one city. That my friends is the way things used to be. That’s probably the main reason why I’ve never understood why the media and the NBA “purists” have never embraced A.I. They have never allowed themselves to look past the “new school” and see that he is actually everything from the past that they long for.

So, here we are. It will be eleven years this March since I first became an Alan Iverson fan. In those eleven years, I’ve gone from an ambitious and idealistic high school senior to a sarcastic and jaded attorney staring down the barrel of his 29th birthday. In other words, a lot has changed. But, in that time, one of the few things that has stayed constant is that I know every time I turn on the tube and watch A.I. play, I’m going to see a guy killing himself to win, and I’m going to feel the same thrill I felt that day he collapsed into John Thompson’s huge embrace. For that, I am thankful. I wish things had ended differently for him in Philly, but now that the die is cast, I just hope the inevitable trade happens fast so A.I. can get back to being the toughest and most competitive guy in the NBA. In a world where the Saints are awesome, the Colts suck, David Stern is admitting he’s wrong, and I’m actually writing a “real” column, is it too much to ask for me to have one constant in my life?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now Batting for the WAD....Stats

Stats sent me this tremendous email yesterday with all his thoughts on the weekend, and I found it much more entertaining than anything I had to say. So, with his permission, I'm now sharing the weekend and monday night musings of Stats with the WAD Nation:


1) The Saints win a game in Dallas and dump the Gatorade bucket on Coach Payton. A little much for just a regular season game, perhaps? It's like GT fans storming the field and tearing down the goalposts with any victory over a top 15 opponent. By the way, am I the only one that catches sh*t from non-GT fans for this? We beat UConn and I get three calls asking if we rushed the field and tore down the goalposts. Dicks.


2) A weekend without college football completely sucked. Well, I guess we didn't have to watch Reggie Ball f*ck up much, if you're a glass half empty kind of guy.


3) Now that I am just bombing away on Tech, might as well keep rolling with it. What the hell does Hewitt do at practice? "Ok, guys, take these balls and just shoot around and stuff, I'm going to go read a newspaper in the corner and maybe go to the Cheetah for a few dances if you need me." I've never seen so much chaos. Do we have a plan at all? Is Rumsfield in charge (there ya go Shalloway).


4) When did Maurice Jones-Drew become a Pro Bowl caliber back? Also, when did he add "Jones-" to his name? What's up with UCLA players changing their names? Sharman Shah became Karim Abdul-Jabbar, now this? Do they all want to be like Lew Alcindor? Shoulda changed his name to Maurice Geones Drew, so he could be "MGD". We all knew he was good, he even got a few mentions on the Wad while at UCLA, but if they had set the total at 5 tds all season, I'd have taken the under. The fat Earl Boykins of the NFL has 12 so far.


5) The Wad always talks about entertainment, so I'm going to give it a shot.
TBS has been showing "Mean Girls" all weekend. Lindsay Lohan might be a little psycho, but she is incredibly hot in this movie. I would definitely eat the peanuts out of her - well, you get the point. Hot teenage girl movies always makes great television at 1 am, especially if you got a lock on your door.


6) Robbie Gould just missed a 37 yd FG. The odds that he goes into a Vanderjagt-esque downward spiral are at 2:1.


7) NHL is a month or so into the season and I couldn't tell you a single thing about anything whatsoever. I think Buffalo won their first 10 games or something. Seriously, that's the best I can do. C'mon, Thrasher fans, let your voice be heard!


8) So AI is off the 76ers and looking for a trade. Why haven't the Knicks pulled the trigger yet? They still have room in their backcourt, right?


9) Idiot athlete of the week award goes to.... whoever the DB was that tried to intercept Romo's 4th down pass only to have it deflect into TO's hands for a TD that was a very meaningful score and momentum shift at the time.


10) If I were a NFL coach, my players would only really know 2 things - don't catch the punt inside your own 10, and knock down the pass on 4th instead of going for the pick. You could be Leon Lett on every other play, but either of those and the next time you suit up it will be for the night shift at Waffle House.


11) The Wad nation is going to start a "put in Bledsoe" campaign. If the Wad intends on becoming a true "media outlet", we must never miss the chance to be obnoxiously fickle. The Romo bandwagon is so last week, Jessica Simpson probably already dumped his ass for Mo Jones Drew, and we all know in 5 years no one will remember him.


12) Reggie Bush's 60 yard scamper was amazing. Seriously, the player that came closest to stopping him was the o-lineman blocking downfield. Houston fans can once again be put on suicide watch. Do you think Houston passed on Bush because they knew Petersen would be available this year? Or maybe to get Calvin Johnson to make a Johnson & Johnson WR corps? Neither do I, but I'd be claiming that was the plan all along if I were in charge. How's Mario Williams doing? Sorry, but I've never seen the Houston Texans actually play, they must be on the NFL network or something.


13) I really, really, really hope the conference championships come down to the Bears and Saints, Colts and Chargers. Say the unstoppable force (Saints) beats the immovable object (Bears) and Peyton does the usual Peyton in a big game. If the Bolts and Saints met in the Super Bowl the pregame hype would be ridiculous. Brees against his former team, Tomlinson versus Bush, and the Saints post-Katrina would blow up the ratings off the charts.
By the way, (the Artist formerly known as) Prince is performing at halftime. Don't think he's going to be performing "Get Off".


14) Gould is about to attempt one from 53 now. Nevermind, the Bears punted.
Indoors? All faith is lost. Odds at 1:2 now.


15) Congratulations to Calvin Johnson for deservedly winning the Bilitnikoff award. I watched the replay of his presentation on youtube, and the instant Chris Fowler started acting all serious, I knew one of 2 things were coming. Either the NFL or Reggie question. And just to rub in how bad Reggie sucked, he went with the latter. I mean this kid stands on the cusp of Sunday stardom, but it's more important to the media to lay into Mr. 47% some more. The only question was how the assault on Reggie Ball would be worded, and it came out, "wouldn't it have been nice to get the ball more?". Way not to throw Reggie under the bus, Calvin, you have far more class than I do. If it had been me up there, let's just say it would have been a classic rant that even Jim Mora would be proud of.


16) Can the Bears really be a Superbowl contender if their best offense is the punt/kick returner? With the frequency Devin Hester is taking it to the house, obviously so.


17) I wish everyone a great week prior to bowl season. I for one am not very excited. I could give a sh*t about the Florida - Ohio State game and the others (though I am fired up for the ASU-Hawaii game, love the over!). Tech not in the Orange Bowl is depressing enough, and bowl season to me is like leaving Las Vegas. Getting the cab, going to the airport, dropping a few bucks in the sh*tty machines and at the bar, and the plane ride home might offer a few laughs, but it isn't the same, and you know it's the end of good times.


18) I just had a revelation that makes things a little better. At least next time this year Reggie Ball will not be our QB. I can't wait until 2007 season kicks off.

Friday, December 08, 2006

For Informational Purposes Only

It’s been a long week on many fronts, and I figure the only way to bring it to a close is to offer up some terrible gambling advice. Before that, however, let me just give the WAD Nation big props for a great debate over the BCS this week. And, I’m going to take the last word on that topic: All of America should be rooting for Ohio State against Florida because Jim Tressell is all class and integrity, and Urban Meyer is a huge prick with a bullshit offense. Okay, glad I got that off my chest. Here’s the goods:

1) Atlanta -3 @ Tampa - The Falcons have everything to play for and the Bucs have nothing to play for. The Falcons HAVE to step up, right?

2) Baltimore +3 @ K.C. - Who knows? When in doubt, take the points.

3) Indy -1 @ JAX - The Colts can’t lose three out of four, right?

4) Minnesota +1.5 @ Detroit - I’d rather watch “The View” than this game.

5) New England -3 @ Miami - I need Brady and the Pats D to light it up for the fantasy squad. Good things.

6) Carolina -3 vs. NYG - Two desperate teams…take the home squad.

7) Cincy -11 vs. Oakland - Christmas comes early.

8) Washington -1 vs. Philly - I did pick the Skins to win the Super Bowl after all.

9) Tennessee +1 @ Houston - Vince Young wins football games. Have you not figured this out yet?

10) S.F. -4 vs. Green Bay - Put a fork in Favre and the Packers…It’s OVER!

11) Seattle -3 @ Arizona - Great win for the Cards last week. Two weeks in a row is too much to ask.

12) Buffalo +3.5 @ N.Y.J. - I hate the Jets.

13) San Diego -7.5 vs. Denver - This Jay Cutler thing looks like an awesome idea!

14) New Orleans +7.5 @ Dallas - It took a while, but Reggie Bush has arrived.

15) Chicago -6 @ St. Louis - How can you go wrong taking a road favorite on Monday night?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

Unfortunately, the WAD couldn't be with us today. Something about being busy at work. Strange that found time to post while travelling Europe with a real life girl, but doesn't have time now. Obviously his priorities are out of whack.

On a serious note, today is the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. As FDR said, December 7 is a "date which will live in infamy." Unfortunately, as the WWII vets die this date is getting less and less coverage. As I am writing this, there is no mention of Pearl Harbor day on cnn.com's front page. I'm sure I'm not the only one with a grandfather that served in the Pacific, and it's insulting that the event that triggered our declaration of war is being forgotten.

(Fite steps down from the soap box)

Back to college football. USA Today printed each coach's vote in the final poll. Here are a few observations:

George O'Leary didn't vote for Georgia Tech. I guess you have to leave somebody off if you want to vote Houston #22.

Bobby Ross showed some love to his former team, putting the Jackets #25.

What about Howard Schnellenberger? He coached exactly one season at Oklahoma before getting canned. For some reason a 1995 season going 5-5-1 (0-4-1 against the top 25) wasn't enough to keep his job. Howard's obviously still a little bitter, putting Oklahoma at #18.

Ron Zook has taken his firing a little better. He put Florida #2 and Michigan #3.


Feel free to continue bitching about college football, and remember we're only 12 days away from the Poinsettia bowl.


Have a nice day.
Fite

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sound Off Monday

Listen, I thought about writing about this BCS controversy, but I figured that it made no sense for me to do so. I've never seen an issue more perfect to leave to the WAD Nation to discuss and debate. So, it's an open forum today. Tell me all the reasons why Florida is more deserving than Michigan or vice versa. Tell me all the reasons why this should be proof that we need a playoff or vice versa. This is our chance for some real high quality debate, let's not drop the ball.

As for me, you know I'm totally anti playoff. I love college football as it is. I love the fact that every week matters as much as the week before and after, and I love the fact that the success of a season is often measured by your success in your rivalry game. Those are the things that make college football so special. That being said, for the first time in my life, I'm open to hearing arguments in favor of a playoff. Because, if there was ever a season where one was warranted, it might be this one. So, if you are so inclined, convince me why I've been wrong all these years.

As for the Michigan or Florida debate, I think both schools have very compelling arguments. I, however, would have chosen Michigan based on the following reason: At no point this year did I watch Florida and say, "man, this is a great football team!" Honestly, they kept winning, but they never made me shake my head and say, "those are some bad mother f*ckers!" Michigan, on the other hand, made me say both those things on a number of occassions. First, in South Bend. Second, with their defensive dessimation of Penn St. in Happey Valley. And, finally, with their amazing effort at the Horseshoe. So, at the end of the day, I think Michigan is undoubtedly the second best team in the country and they deserve a shot at the Buckeyes on a neutral field. Plain and simple. And, shouldn't that be the goal, to put the best two teams in America on a neutral field to decide the championship? That's my argument.

Friday, December 01, 2006

For Really Poor Informational Purposes Only

I won’t bore you with the details about how busy I am, blah, blah, blah…. , but the fact of the matter is that I am really jammed up at the real job, so you are getting the j.v. effort today…just the picks and only the picks. But, before I get to that I have two things that I have to share:

1) Karen from “The Office” is waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy hotter than Pam. I don’t even know how anybody could debate this; and

2) Big props go out to Vines for his commitment to the Bruins. I mean, how can you not admire a guy that buys a last minute plane ticket to fly from NYC to LA for less than 30 hours just to get canned and watch his Bruins face off against the Trojans when his Bruins are a two touchdown underdog and he doesn’t even have a ticket to the game, and he just traveled to South Bend a few weeks ago only to have these same Bruins break his heart? I’m not sure if it’s commitment to the booze or the Bruins, but either way, it demands your respect.

Okay, here’s the money makers:

COLLEGE

1) UConn +28 @ Louisville

2) Wake Forest +2.5 @ Ga. Tech (in Jacksonville)

3) Army +20.5 @ Navy (in Philly)

4) California -29 vs. Stanford

5) Fresno St. +4 @ SJSU

6) UCLA +13.5 vs. USC (They have to cover for Vines, right?)

7) Arkansas +3 @ Florida (in Atlanta)

8) Rutgers +10 @ WVU

9) Oklahoma -3.5 vs. Nebraska (in Kansas City)

10) Oregon St. @ Hawaii OVER 71



NFL


1) St. Louis -6.5 vs. Arizona

2) Atlanta +1 @ Washington

3) N.E. -13.5 vs. Detroit

4) Indy -7.5 @ Tenn.

5) Cleveland +5 vs. K.C.

6) Minnesota +9 @ Chicago

7) Green Bay PICK vs. J-E-T-S

8) Buffalo +6 vs. San Diego

9) S.F. +7 @ N.O.

10) Miami -1 vs. Jacksonville

11) Houston +3 @ Oakland

12) NYG +3.5 @ Dallas

13) Tampa +7.5 @ Pittsburgh

14) Seattle +3.5 @ Denver

15) Carolina -3 @ Philly