Archive for May, 2012

Keep bowls and BCS away from college football playoff

College football doesn't need bowls or the letters "BCS" for its playoffs system.

College football officials must realize they don't need bowls or the BCS for a playoff system.

In full disclosure, and at the risk of ostracizing myself from seemingly all except those who fondly recall memories of the inaugural 1902 Tournament East-West game in Pasadena — where admission was 50 cents, plus $1 for the family’s horse-and-buggy – here goes:

I like bowl games. I like tradition. I like the idea of an end-of-season reward for two college football teams, players and their families. It probably helped that I grew up in the shadow of the Rose Bowl (which the East-West became) and not the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. But there was no urgency for a playoff, and the arguments over rankings were considered part of the fabric and charm of college football.

We’re past charm, of course. I’m not completely past the thought that bowl games serve some purpose, but I don’t want them anywhere near a college football playoff. Do you know what the dysfunctional combination of …

Continue reading Keep bowls and BCS away from college football playoff »

McCann shows a spark, but will Braves give him new deal?

Brian McCann's solo homer in second inning jump-started the Braves' offense. (AP photo)

Brian McCann's solo homer in second inning jump-started the Braves' offense. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 10 p.m.)

In his first six full major league seasons, Brian McCann has played in six All-Star games, won an All-Star game MVP, won five Silver Slugger awards, accumulated more home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and game-winning hits than any catcher in baseball, won a lot of games, smiled a lot, never caused a riff and has proved to be so genuine and honest that he probably wouldn’t know a magic muscle-inflating pill if one did a backflip into his morning Cocoa Puffs.

“He puts up numbers, and he did it even when other guys were taking performance-enhancers,” Braves teammate David Ross said. “He’s more like, ‘How many Advil should I take?’ I can’t corrupt him. He won’t even drink a Red Bull. I want to punch him.”

All of which makes you wonder how it could be that the Braves and McCann may part ways at some point in the near future.

The Braves are off to a good start. …

Continue reading McCann shows a spark, but will Braves give him new deal? »

FSU to Big 12? School has inflated idea of self-worth

Jimbo Fisher and Florida State should know leverage comes with winning.

Jimbo Fisher and Florida State might think brand is worth more than it really is. (AP photo)

There is only one thing that throws me about this Florida State-to-the-Big-12 rumor that has been growing and mutating over the past several days: Do school officials consider themselves some kind of super power? Because I believe time machines are not applicable here.

In the last six years, Florida State has played in the Emerald Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Champs Sports Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl again.

They have played in one BCS bowl (Orange) in the last eight seasons (and lost). They haven’t won any BCS bowl game since the national title 12 years ago.

They haven’t won the ACC since 2005. They have played in only one ACC championship game in the last six seasons.

Before a school starts making financial demands and threatening to change conferences, shouldn’t it at least have to win the ACC Atlantic Division more frequently than Boston …

Continue reading FSU to Big 12? School has inflated idea of self-worth »

Hawks plagued with too many issues, from owners to Joe

Whether it's Larry Drew or somebody else as coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

Whether it's Larry Drew or another coach, Hawks have problems that can't easily be fixed.

In many ways, the Hawks are no different than other organizations. They end the season with a loss and for several weeks plot their makeover.

Maybe they need a new coach. Maybe they need a new general manager. Maybe a star player who can be the rose one minute and the thorns the next needs to be traded. Or maybe a dysfunctional ownership group comes to the realization, “This isn’t working. Let’s go back to selling cellphone towers and newsletters. We’re outta here.”

But in at least one way, the Hawks so often are different from other organizations: No matter what decisions we logically think they can make this summer, it’s difficult not to come away with the belief that they’re still going to be in trouble when next season opens.

Most franchises give you hope. The Hawks give you hangovers.

The Braves missed the playoffs and did little this past winter to improve themselves, …

Continue reading Hawks plagued with too many issues, from owners to Joe »

Richt, Johnson score high on rankings, not Chizik, Muschamp

Sporting News ranked Mark Richt (14) just ahead of Paul Johnson (19) among 124 FBS coaches.

Sporting News has Mark Richt (14) just ahead of Paul Johnson (19) among 124 FBS coaches.

The problem with most “rankings” in sports is that there’s a large degree of knee jerk thinking in the thought process. Somebody wins, they deserve a stature. Somebody loses, they’re road kill. A coach wins a BCS title, he’s a sudden visionary.

But The Sporting News just ranked 124 FBS (Division I) coaches in college football and in my view the publication pretty much nailed it. Not so much because Nick Saban of Alabama is No. 1 or Charley Molnar of Massachusetts is No. 124 (UMass has a football team?) but because of the placement of so many others. A few examples:

– Boise State’s Chris Peterson (No. 2) and Texas Christian’s Gary Patterson (No. 7) both received lofty rankings for their success in actual games, not on national signing day. Winning games really is what coaching is all about, is it not?

– Auburn’s Gene Chizik was ranked only 36th nationally and seventh among 14 SEC coaches, …

Continue reading Richt, Johnson score high on rankings, not Chizik, Muschamp »

Al Horford on Game 5: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to play’

Smile, Al Horfford: You just rescued the Hawks in the NBA playoffs. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Smile, Al Horford: You just rescued the Hawks in the NBA playoffs. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Three hours before tip-off, three hours before the performance that would reaffirm what Al Horford means to this basketball team, the Hawks’ center had no idea if he would be able to play.

“I got to the arena around 5 o’clock, and I didn’t know if I was going to play,” Horford said in a corner of the locker room late Tuesday night. “It was pregame. I was real uncertain. I was feeling tight. I couldn’t get my full range of motion in my pec and my shoulder.”

The Hawks already were in relative crisis mode. They were down 3-1 in a playoff series that they had once led 1-0. They had flat-lined in Game 4 in Boston. Now Horford can’t play?

The only thing preventing this from devolving into slapstick would’ve been Alan Henderson walking through the door and saying, “Don’t worry guys, I got this” (before sneezing and throwing his back out again).

Fortunately, tragic comedy was …

Continue reading Al Horford on Game 5: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to play’ »

Horford leads way, as Hawks survive for another day

Al Horford, in his first start in nearly four months, was Hawks' best player early against Boston. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Al Horford, in his first start in four months, was Hawks' best player early and late against Boston. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

With his dual-personality basketball team facing playoff elimination Tuesday night, Hawks coach Larry Drew started a center (Al Horford) who was coming off his first game in nearly four months and a forward (Marvin Williams) who had played his way on to the bench for much of this season.

“We wanted to give a different look and see if it jump-starts us,” Drew said.

This is where the average Hawks fan inserted the just-rearranging-the-chairs-on-the-Titanic joke. Because, well, what is an Atlanta sports fan if not someone with a sense of impending doom?

But something weird happened. Actually, more like something Hawks happened. Philips Arena was Sybil Central again.

They trailed by 10 early. They led by 12 late. They blew the lead (of course). They got it back (of course).

They led 87-83 with a minute left, but left Paul Pierce wide open for a 3-pointer …

Continue reading Horford leads way, as Hawks survive for another day »

LIVE: Hawks hope to redeem themselves, extend season

Can Hawks force a Game 6 after being humiliated in Boston? (AP photo)

Can the Hawks force a Game 6 after being humiliated in Boston? (AP photo)

(This is an early column that will serve as the live blog for tonight’s Hawks’ playoff game against Boston. It will updated afterward. Hawks coach Larry Drew said after this morning’s shoot around that center Al Horford and forward Marvin Williams will start, joining Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith. Kirk Hinrich will come off the bench. The move allows Johnson to go back to the shooting guard position and get away from defending Paul Pierce, possibly reserving more energy for the offensive end. Whether it works is another matter. By the way, checked with a pal, Todd Fuhrman of the Caesars Palace sports book in Las Vegas. He said that while he hasn’t posted odds on this, he would make the Hawks an 11-1 underdog to win the next three games of the series. I would’ve thought it would be even higher but the fact two out of three games would be at Philips Arena might be a factor.)


Timing is …

Continue reading LIVE: Hawks hope to redeem themselves, extend season »

Mughelli, a reminder of Petrino era, cut by Falcons

Ovie Mughelli's contributions to the Falcons were outweighed by his salary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Ovie Mughelli's contributions to the Falcons were outweighed by his salary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

In the least surprising move of the Falcons’ offseason, they have released fullback Ovie Mughelli, effectively saving them $3 million on the salary cap.

In doing so, the team also eliminated one of the final remnants of the abbreviated Bobby Petrino era.

Few recall this but when Falcons owner Arthur Blank made the ill-fated decision to hand over the reins of his football team to Petrino in 2007, a major move that offseason was the signing of Mughelli. Petrino wanted a bulldozing fullback for his offense.

The former Baltimore Raven was a logical choice. What wasn’t logical was that Blank and then-general manager Rich McKay gave him a six-year, $18 million contract, a record for a fullback.

Mughelli wasn’t an awful player. But when you weigh his salary vs. his contribution to the team, it was a bad signing.

It didn’t figure that Mughelli would see the final year of his contract. The …

Continue reading Mughelli, a reminder of Petrino era, cut by Falcons »

Jonathan Vilma tries to tackle me on Twitter (missed)

Just because Jonathan Vilma can fly doesn't mean can get away with everything.

Just because Jonathan Vilma can fly doesn't mean can get away with everything.

It’s not pretty when a person becomes so desperate and is caught up in denial that he turns delusional. That appears to be the case with New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Earlier today, I sent out a link to ex-Saint Anthony Hargrove’s declaration to the NFL that he was told to lie by assistant coach Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt in 2010 about the existence of the team’s “bounty” program.

That three page declaration, obtained by Yahoo, is listed below. It clearly illustrates the dishonesty and coverup in the Saints’ organization about the program, and as we’ve learned lies and coverups can lead to greater penalties that the crimes themselves might have resulted in.

Anyway, the one thing I didn’t expect to happen was that Vilma and I would get into a back-and-forth on Twitter. Vilma has been suspended for the entire 2012 season. He and NFLPA consider this NFL investigation a bunch of hooey. I’ve …

Continue reading Jonathan Vilma tries to tackle me on Twitter (missed) »