Our weekly Heat Check returns after, er, a week off. (Why the week off? Because I’ve again reached the point when I realize I have more vacation days remaining than there are workdays left in the calendar year.) So we’re playing catch-up hotness, as it were.
The Atlanta Falcons: They staged a huge rally in Charlotte to get to 8-5. On Thursday they play a Jacksonville team that has already dumped its coach. If the playoffs began tomorrow, they’d be the NFC’s No. 5 seed, which would mean they’d miss having to play in New Orleans twice in a 14-day span. Instead they’d get the winner of the NFC East in Round 1, and that winner will be the Giants or the Cowboys or maybe even the Eagles. Heat Index: No. 5 would suit this team just fine.
The Atlanta Hawks: They’re back at work. They’ve added Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse and Vladimir Radmanovic, none of whom is as good as he used to be but two of whom should be of use. Jamal Crawford still hasn’t found a job. Josh Smith still hasn’t gotten traded. And I believe you’re up to date. Heat Index: The buzz on this team isn’t exactly overwhelming; truth to tell, it isn’t even whelming.
The Atlanta Braves: They went to the Winter Meetings and came home without making a trade. The only thing I can think is that some impostor must have gone in Frank Wren’s stead. Heat Index: Is the Tyler Pastornicky Era indeed upon us?
The Georgia Bulldogs: Mark Richt is negotiating a new contract, presumably including a new Ford truck. A year ago, this wouldn’t have been seen as good news in most precincts. Today it has to be viewed as a just reward for a turnaround season. Heat Index: Is the Keith Marshall Era indeed upon us, and if so, what will we recall about the Isaiah Crowell Era?
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (different sport): Pretty significant win for Brian Gregory, who went to Athens and did in his first try what Paul Hewitt couldn’t manage in five trips — winning at Georgia. Add the November signing of Shiloh High big man Robert Carter, whom Georgia wanted very much, and it’s possible to wonder if the new Tech man hasn’t already begun to erode the in-state gains made by Mark Fox. Heat Index: On the other hand, the ACC schedule hasn’t yet commenced. If Tech finishes above .500, Gregory should get one of those Hewitt lifetime contracts. (Kidding! I’m kidding!)
Chris Paul: Both Los Angeles teams want this guy. Don’t know why. If he was so good, wouldn’t Billy Knight have drafted him? Heat Index: “I’m telling you — Marvin Williams is going to have a breakout season.” Heard that before?
Ryan Braun: The National League MVP has tested positive for a banned substance. Braun insists he did nothing untoward, and why shouldn’t we believe him? Because Bud Selig, who lives in Milwaukee, keeps telling us that baseball has weaned itself of steroids under his eagle-eyed aegis. Heat Index: In other news, Braun plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, the team Commissioner Selig used to own.
Charlie Weis: Just became the head coach at Kansas after a fine year’s work at Florida. Who else but a mastermind could have taken Urban Meyer’s leftovers and crafted the nation’s 102nd-most-productive offense? Heat Index: I can’t imagine many Gators will shed tears over Mr. Schematic Advantage’s departure. But maybe Georgia fans should.
By Mark Bradley