Archive for October, 2011

NCAA right to end investigation into Cam Newton, Auburn

Cam Newton can celebrate another victory. The NCAA has closed the book on its investigation.

Cam Newton can celebrate another victory. The NCAA has closed the book on its investigation.

(MOST RECENT UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.)

The conspiracy theories won’t end.  But the NCAA says its investigation into Cam Newton’s recruitment by Auburn is over.

College’s football’s relative governing body announced Wednesday it was closing the book on Newton and Auburn after conducting “more than 80 interviews,” apparently none of whom claimed — and could verify — that they were offered money, took money or had a cash register receipt for somebody who did.

Go ahead and whine. But I’m not sure how you can fault the NCAA on this. There is little question the NCAA, for all of the criticism it has received over the past several months on how it has handled this, would have nailed Auburn and/or Newton if it could have.  The NCAA is not above wanting to make a big show of things.

The problem: There’s simply no evidence of wrongdoing.

Here’s a copy of the NCAA’s statement:

After conducting more …

Continue reading NCAA right to end investigation into Cam Newton, Auburn »

Greatest explainer of NBA lockout ever! (Taiwan cartoon)

The cartoon version of David Stern is much more entertaining than the real thing. (AP photo)

The cartoon version of David Stern is much more entertaining than the real thing. (AP photo)

Don’t worry. Although I’ve already written a couple of things on the NBA lockout, I promise not to make it a habit because I find the whole thing as stupid as you do.

But this video rocks!

It’s an animated breakdown of the labor war between the owners and players. The audio is in Taiwanese. But don’t worry. There are English subtitles. Besides, the cartoons break it down quite nicely by themselves.

This production comes from the website NMA.tv (Next Media Animation). It includes Lakers and union mouthpiece Derek Fisher playing one-on-one against NBA commissioner David Stern, Stern carrying a chainsaw to divide a pizza as Fisher and LeBron James watch, a doctor caring for “franchises” (logos with dangling legs) in intensive care … well, I don’t want to give it all away.

The summary concludes: “The first two weeks of the season have been cancelled, prompting some players to join …

Continue reading Greatest explainer of NBA lockout ever! (Taiwan cartoon) »

Mistakes aside, onus is on Mularkey to fix Falcons’ offense

Mike Mularkey is getting some heat for regression of Matt Ryan and the offense. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Mularkey is getting heat for regression of Matt Ryan and the offense. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Let’s start with the two biggest mistakes of the Falcons’ offseason.

One was not adequately replacing punter Michael Koenen after he fled for free-agent riches in Tampa. The Falcons drafted Matt Bosher and for some reason have kept him, as if holding out hopes that on one glorious Sunday, the bingo card will hit. The other was letting guard Harvey Dahl leave in free agency. It robbed the offensive line of its toughest, nastiest, limb-ripping creature, which is a problem when management is still waiting for left tackle Sam Baker to evolve into a species more intimidating than a Peep.

But that doesn’t explain everything.

The Falcons are 2-3. Even their most impressive win suddenly isn’t looking so impressive (Philadelphia is 1-4). There is no shortage of problems on defense, but that wasn’t the primary issue in Sunday night’s meltdown against Green Bay. The offense …

Continue reading Mistakes aside, onus is on Mularkey to fix Falcons’ offense »

NBA lockout: Hawks employees hoping to avoid cuts

Impending new Hawks owner Alex Meruelo won't have a game to watch for a while. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Impending new Hawks owner Alex Meruelo won't have a game to watch for a while. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

While NBA players launch their moronic “Let Us Play” campaign on Twitter, it’s safe to say they won’t have to worry about their next rent or mortgage payment for a while.

Maybe they should try selling peanuts at Philips Arena.

The NBA has canceled the first two weeks of the regular season. So far, there’s no massive hysteria among the fan base. No surprise.

But here’s something to think about: While owners and players engage in a high-level, thumb-twiddling war, a lot of regular people with regular jobs are about to lose a significant part of their income.

Front office employees of the Hawks have yet to hear from either impending new owner Alex Meruelo or impending lame duck majority owners from the Atlanta Spirit about whether there will be a payroll reduction — be it in the form of layoffs, furloughs or salary cuts. But at the very least, about 300-plus game-day employees — …

Continue reading NBA lockout: Hawks employees hoping to avoid cuts »

Poll: Falcons trying to buck playoff odds (what say you?)

Ray Edwards may have just looked at the Falcons' playoff odds. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Ray Edwards may have just looked at the Falcons' playoff odds. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If the Falcons’ season isn’t yet kaput at 2-3, history suggests they’re at least battling some long odds just to make the playoffs.

You’re not going to read any of these numbers in team-approved literature this week. But I just took a walk through franchise history — being very careful where to step — and will now bring you some of that ugly reality:

This is 30th time in 46 seasons the Falcons have started a season 2-3 or worse. Only three times in the previous 29 occasions did the team make the playoffs. That equates to a 10.3 percent chance of reaching the postseason.

The odds are slightly better if you count only 16-game seasons. The Falcons failed to make the playoffs any of the 10 years they started 2-3 or worse in 14-game seasons. They’ve reached the postseason in three of 19 16-game seasons with such a start — 15.8 percent.

Because all three Falcons’ losses are conference games, …

Continue reading Poll: Falcons trying to buck playoff odds (what say you?) »

Great teams don’t blow 14-0 leads, even to Packers

Michael Turner's touchdown run staked the Falcons to an early 14-0 lead over the Packers. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Michael Turner's touchdown run gave Falcons an early 14-0 lead over the Packers, but it didn't last. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(UPDATE: 12:21 a.m.)

We know now what we knew before. The other team is better. It has the better quarterback, the better defense, the better coaching staff.

Green Bay is good enough to look at a 14-0 deficit and not blink. The Falcons are flawed enough to take a 14-0 lead and begin a slow and steady fizzle.

The Falcons lost to the Packers again Sunday night at the Georgia Dome. If there was any consolation, it’s that this score (25-14) wasn’t nearly the dismembering of the playoffs last January, when Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers won 48-21 and sent the Falcons into the offseason with a massive hangover. It forced the front office and coaching staff to re-evaluate just how good this team was on both sides of the ball. It prompted the drafting of Julio Jones and the signing of Ray Edwards.

But this is what we know about the Falcons so far in 2011. They’re 2-3 …

Continue reading Great teams don’t blow 14-0 leads, even to Packers »

LIVE: Falcons try to fix defense, slow Aaron Rodgers (UPDATE: Abraham out)

Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith go over pregame strategy. And maybe a pregame prayer.

Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith go over pregame strategy. And maybe a pregame prayer.

If Sunday night football fixes the Falcons again this week, owner Arthur Blank might need to look into petitioning the league to move the rest of his team’s schedule to NBC’s weekly prime time slot.

Three weeks ago, after a poor season opener at Chicago, the Falcons returned to the Georgia Dome and defeated Michael Vick and Philadelphia 35-31. But the feel-good atmosphere was short-lived, as they’ve followed that with a 16-13 loss at Tampa Bay and an unimpressive 30-28 win at Seattle.

That leads to tonight’s game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons’ defense has been shaky all season and was shredded last week by the lightly regarded Tarvaris Jackson (career high 319 yards and three touchdowns).

Aaron Rodgers has 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions in his last 15 starts. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Rodgers has 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions in his last 15 starts, including playoffs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

It’s not as if the Falcons aren’t capable of winning …

Continue reading LIVE: Falcons try to fix defense, slow Aaron Rodgers (UPDATE: Abraham out) »

Georgia Tech’s winning shouldn’t be a surprise by now

Paul Johnson, with Roddy Jones, has led Tech to a 5-0 start in his fourth season. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech, led by Paul Johnson and Roddy Jones, is off to a 5-0 start. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech is 5-0 and ranked No. 13 in the nation. We can’t really know what that means yet, other than the obvious, as stated so eloquently by coach Paul Johnson: “We’re better than the five teams we’ve played.”

Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State.

We’re not talking about the right side of the menu. None were ranked in the AP poll at the time Georgia Tech defeated them. None are ranked now. None can even cling to hope in the “others receiving votes” category.

But to focus on any of that is missing the point about what is going on at Tech. This is Johnson’s fourth season. While it’s true most of his first freshman class in 2008 were recruited by Chan Gailey, the vast majority of the players on this team were brought in by Johnson. These are his guys, brought here for his scheme, schooled in his mindset.

If you’re looking for a …

Continue reading Georgia Tech’s winning shouldn’t be a surprise by now »

Weekend Predictions: Dogs and Falcons are going down

6 002

Dude. My head hurts. Here I am trying to psych myself up for My People’s annual 24-hour, sin-cleansing fast (on a football Saturday!) and Jordan Schafer has totally thrown me for a loop. It’s not about his marijuana arrest but what the police confiscated: three marijuana peanut butter cups.

Half of you emailed me asking if I had a recipe. Like that automatically comes with a California birth certificate. Sorry. Mama only taught me how to make lasagna.

Pot-infused Reeses? This could be the greatest/worstest potential vicious cycle of munchies known to mankind. Buzzed. Eat. Buzzed. Eat. More, more, more. MORE!!! Forget bombs. We should just drop pot-infused Reese’s on suspected Al-Qaeda hideouts. They’d all fall into helium-like, empty-calorie comas (at least after seven hours of the Cartoon Network).

Going around the Internet: A peek at Tennessee's new Nike Pro Combat unis.

Floating around the web: The Vols' Nike Pro Combat unis.

Which leads me to Georgia-Tennessee. (Transitions take up space.)

Barbara Dooley doesn’t need no wacky tobaccy to …

Continue reading Weekend Predictions: Dogs and Falcons are going down »

Skip Caray a finalist for Hall of Fame award

The late Skip Caray with his former Braves broadcast partner, Pete Van Wieren.

The late Skip Caray with his former Braves broadcast partner, Pete Van Wieren.

After her late husband, Skip Caray, made the list of finalists for a Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award Wednesday, Paula Caray was asked what he would’ve said if he had received the news. She laughed and responded, “He’d probably say, ‘It’s about time.’ And he would’ve been right.”

Caray, whose entertaining wit and unique style entertained Braves fans for 33 years, is among 10 finalists for the 2012 National Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual Ford Frick Award. Caray died in August of 2008. He also was on the ballot for the 2010 award but did not make it. The Hall honors only one recipient per year. This year’s winner will be announced Dec. 6.

Skip’s father, Harry Caray, was honored in 1989. His son, Chip Caray, broadcasts Braves games.

“Obviously I’m biased, but I’m thrilled my dad’s on the ballot,” Chip Caray said. “It’s also a little bit of a half-empty feeling because, as I’m sure he would’ve said, …

Continue reading Skip Caray a finalist for Hall of Fame award »