Archive for December, 2010

Is it significant that Hawks surviving without Joe Johnson?

The Hawks are 5-3 without Joe Johnson after going 11-7 with him.

The Hawks are 5-3 without Joe Johnson after going 11-7 with him.

So I was going to blog this morning about how the Hawks are doing great without Joe Johnson — opening the door to more mocking of the six-year, $120 million contract they gave him this summer — but then they had to go and lose to the Detroit Pistons by 23 points Tuesday night.

Still, it’s worth noting the Hawks are 5-3 without Johnson after going 11-7 with him, and two of those losses came at Miami and at San Antonio. So this much we know for sure: They haven’t fallen apart without Johnson.

That’s significant. Why? Because part of the Hawks’ belief in re-signing Johnson and giving him that ridiculous contract was the belief that life without him would render the team irrelevant.

They might be right. But the idea should never have been: Don’t re-sign Johnson and do nothing to replace him. The idea was to use that money and spend it elsewhere.

But the fact that the Hawks are still competitive without Johnson is a …

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Braves again watch while Phillies sign Lee, spend millions

If the Braves win a World Series with Liberty Media as the owner, it won't be because they spent millions in free agency.

If the Braves win a World Series with Liberty Media as the owner, it won't be because they spent millions in free agency. (AJC photo)

Let’s start with the obvious: Baseball teams don’t win championships in December.

If they did, the World Series would be on a consistent rotation between the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox, often coming down to which team lost a pitcher to a hyper-extended elbow at the drive-thru ATM.

But December says a lot about aspirations and expectations, and the Braves’ owners, in the holiday spirit, once again look like Mr. Potter telling George Bailey to stick it.

The Philadelphia Phillies – whose team payroll already was about $58 million more than the Braves’ last season – just added Cliff Lee to their pitching staff. It gives them four pitchers (Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels) in their starting rotation who have combined for three Cy Young Awards, 13 All-Star games, two NLCS MVP awards and one World Series MVP.

It turns the Phillies — …

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Cost of Brett Favre’s emotional healing: $499.99!

Ladies and gentleman, we give you the sports world's No. 1 ranked cretin: Brett Favre.

As we all know, the earth, the sun, the stars and the moon revolve around Brett Favre.

Brett Favre is crushed about his consecutive games streak coming to an end — so crushed that apparently the only way he can get over it is by selling commemorative footballs for $499.99 (and presumably his soul for another $1.50).

If there’s a retailing equivalent of not waiting until the body gets cold, here it is: On the same night Favre’s starting streak ended at 297 straight games, he started selling commemorative footballs on his website for $499.99.

Hey, maybe he can just give one of these to Jenn Sterger and call it even.

When did Favre start manufacturing these — when he was helped off the field against Buffalo last week? Was he lying on the X-ray table when he phoned his agent?

Here’s the pitch, direct from the website, OfficialBrettFavre.com (complete with typos):

Brett Favre Signed inscribed 297 Starts Football

One of the most historic streaks ever in all of sports has come to an …

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Kirby Smart would be taking risk following Muschamp

It doesn't make sense for Kirby Smart to make lateral move from Alabama to Florida.

It doesn't make sense for Kirby Smart to make lateral move from Alabama to Florida.

If we are to believe reports,  Kirby Smart is considering leaving as the highly paid defensive coordinator at Alabama to become the highly paid defensive coordinator at Florida, thereby forming “Team Bulldog” in Gainesville with Will Muschamp.

I’ll ask the same question now that I did a year ago at this time when Bulldogs coach Mark Richt tried to lure Smart back to Athens: Why would Smart do it?

Smart is a terrific coach. I know some believe he gets too much credit for Alabama’s defense because he works for Nick Saban. But if he wasn’t highly regarded, he wouldn’t be on Saban’s staff and Alabama wouldn’t have bumped up his contract to $750,000 a year to keep him when Richt phoned.

But Smart’s next move should be as a head coach. He’ll get offers, as soon as next season. We all know there will be some tenuous heading coaching situations going into next season.

If Saban, who has a reputation …

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Falcons win again but lulls continue to be a problem

Roddy White finished with eight catches against Carolina but even he knew the Falcons went thrugh lulls.

Roddy White finished with eight catches against Carolina but even he said the Falcons are "not focused" at times.

CHARLOTTE – This might not seem like an appropriate question for a team that just won 31-10, shares the best record in the NFL at 11-2 and might be on the way to locking up home field advantage through the NFC playoffs.

But is it fair to expect better than what the Falcons have shown us in the last two weeks?

“I think you should [expect] that and we should too,” center Todd McClure said Sunday. “We have lulls. You can’t do that when you play good teams. We have to try to figure out what’s going on and make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The Falcons were fortunate Sunday. They faced an opponent, Carolina, that’s probably one turnover from being dropped into the Sun Belt.

The Panthers’ first play from scrimmage in this game: a fumble.

Three plays later, the Falcons led 7-0. Eight minutes into the game, it was 14-0.

The question wasn’t whether the …

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LIVE: Falcons try to avoid letdown, can clinch playoff spot

Michael Turner goes over the top for the Falcons' second touchdown. They lead Carolina 17-0 at halftime.

Michael Turner goes over top for Falcons' second TD. They lead Carolina 17-0 at halftime.

CHARLOTTE — Welcome to the cold and dreary “Queen City.” The skies are supposed to clear up by kickoff. But right now it’s gray, it rained most of the night and the field isn’t in great shape (still chewed up in the middle from last week’s ACC title game).

But at least we know the roof won’t cave in on the Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Fortunately, there’s only one Minnesota. (I hate to see Brett Fave go out like this. Really. OK, not really.)

The roof has somewhat caved in on the Panthers. They’re 1-11 and have lost six straight. They’ve lost their last two home games by scores of 34-3 (New Orleans) and 37-13 (Baltimore).

Rookie starter Jimmy Clausen is 0-6 with one touchdown, six interceptions, 19 sacks, eight fumbles (two lost) and a 55.3 rating and a rating of 55.3 (lowest in the NFL).

Can this game be that easy for the Falcons?

These actually are the kinds of games that worry …

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Florida takes Dogs’ potential next coach: Will Muschamp (UPDATE: He may take Kirby Smart with him)

Former Bulldog Will Muschamp has been an SEC assistant at Auburn and LSU but now he's the top guy at Florida.

Former Bulldog Will Muschamp has been an SEC assistant at Auburn and LSU but now he's the top guy at Florida.

(Updated below with report about Kirby Smart possibly going to Florida with Muschamp)

First Derek Dooley, Vince’s son, goes to Tennessee.

Now Will Muschamp becomes the new Florida head coach.

What could possibly happen next to toy with the emotions of the average Georgia fan? Herschel Walker becomes a special adviser to Auburn?

Muschamp, a Georgia native and former Bulldogs’ safety, has been named the new head coach of the Gators, replacing Urban Meyer. This likely won’t go over well in Athens, where many fans had hoped as recently as a year ago that Muschamp would return to the Dogs as defensive coordinator (replacing Willie Martinez) and/or as an assistant head coach to Mark Richt. There also was the thought he could possibly replace Richt one day.

Well, that’s one less name in the candidate pool now.

It would’ve been so much easier to work up a hate if Bobby …

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Cam Newton’s Heisman is a victory for fact over suspicions

Cam Newton won the Heisman by a wide margin but he was left off the ballot by 105 voters.

Auburn's Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy by a wide margin, but 105 voters chose to leave him off their ballot. (AP photo)

(Updated: 9 p.m. Saturday)

The problem isn’t just that some turned Cam Newton’s Heisman run into a morality play. The problem is how we’re judging morality.

His father tried to pimp him to Mississippi State for cash. So is this was supposed to be a vote for Cecil “Huggy Bear” Newton? Is a Heisman vote suddenly not for the student-athlete but for his father, mother and maybe third cousin? Because if that’s true, clear the trophy case. Start with last year’s winner, Mark Ingram, whose father has been in jail for most of the last 10 years for money laundering and bank fraud.

Cam Newton purchased a stolen laptop when he was at Florida, then panicked and threw it out the window when he heard police footsteps. Big mistake, for which he paid a price (public humiliation).

There have been stories of him being on academic probation at Florida. Sorry, …

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Sack Me, Part Deux: Win an iPad! (Also, Falcons win)

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Hello. I’m back.

I know, last week I said that I wouldn’t be back. Weekend Predictions usually closes at the end of the college football regular season.

But I wasn’t thinking clearly, possibly the result of esophageal spasms, which should clear up in about 12 months when I get 39 phone calls from athletic directors and NFL owners offering me head coaching jobs, by which time I will have seen enough of my daughter’s volleyball games, and will have memorized every aisle at Publix, and what time Judge Judy comes on TV, and I’ll say yes to all 39 jobs because I’m Urban Meyer and I’m going stir crazy!

No, you can't win this. But ...

No, you can't win this. But …

Thank you for making it the fourth paragraph. Here’s you reward: You can win an iPad.

No. I’m serious. You can win an iPad.

You don’t even have to send me your social security number and your bank routing and checking account numbers to my P.O. Box in Botswana, authorizing me to release 250 gold bullion bars to you. You can win an …

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With Meyer gone, Florida in flux, Dogs need to make move

Once certainty about next year's Georgia-Florida game: Mark Richt won't lose to Urban Meyer.

One certainty about next year's Georgia-Florida game: Mark Richt won't lose to Urban Meyer.

Urban Meyer says the Florida football program is “broken.”

He admits he did a poor job with the team last season and, in so many words, that the health scare of a year ago changed him: “Florida deserves the best. I’m not sure we gave them our best.”

So here’s the question: If the Gators are that far down, is this an an opening for Georgia?

This is not to suggest the Bulldogs project to be on the cusp of greatness. They just finished the regular season at 6-6 (3-5 in the SEC), which is worse than the “broken” Gators (7-5, 4-4). Nor is this to suggest that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will make a bad hire (although it should be noted that when Steve Spurrier left for the NFL, Foley hired Ron Zook).

But hear me out: No matter who Florida hires, there is going to be a transition period. The coach who probably could best minimize that transition period is Dan Mullen, the former …

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