This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 12/10/2007
A - Alex Legion. This freshman is the poster boy for all that is wrong with college basketball. After initially signing with Michigan he left that program with the change in coaches, but not before waffling enough to mess up recruiting badly. In the end he headed to Kentucky. Now he has left the Wildcats. His mother seems to have been integral to the decision to find a new school despite the fact that he was getting playing time and doing fine. One of his new target schools to transfer to? Michigan, of course.
B - Bowden, Tommy. Clemson has extended their coach for four more years, proving that they have the most fickle fans and administration in football. The calls for Bowden's head are just a part of the background noise in college football, yet as soon as the coach flirts with another school, Arkansas in this case, they throw money at him to stick around. Apparently the school likes being marginally competitive in a weak conference.
C - Cardinals. Arizona is not a good team, but they are certainly are an interesting one to watch. Their loss on Sunday to Seattle by a 42-21 score was ugly, but it was never boring. Kurt Warner had 337 yards and three touchdowns. That would have been quite spectacular if he hadn't also tossed five interceptions. If there is a bright side to this disappointing season for the Cards it is that they have been very kind to bettors at 8-5 ATS.
D - Dorrell, Karl. The news that Dorrell, easily the worst coach in the Pac-10, was fired at UCLA was the least surprising development of the end of the college football season. The fact that he refused to coach the bowl game despite being asked to is the first reason I have had to respect this guy since he got the job. The news that Duke is seriously interested in him is a clear sign that the athletic department at Duke wants to be sure nothing ever overshadows the basketball program.
E - Ed Stefanski. You may not know the name, but you will have sympathy for him once you realize who he is. He's the poor fool who has the job of turning around the sad sack 76ers. Stefanski was named GM of the team this week, after leaving the same position with the Nets. He has a very solid player in Andre Iguodala, a decent guard in Andre Miller, and precious little else, except for maybe a very green Rodney Carney, to get excited about. On the plus side, if he pulls off a turn around he will be deemed a basketball genius.
F - Floyd Mayweather. I haven't been giving Floyd nearly enough credit. Thankfully he gives himself enough credit for all of us. He absolutely destroyed the previously undefeated Ricky Hatton on Saturday night, winning eight of nine rounds before a 10th-round knockout. Now Floyd is unbeaten and perhaps unbeatable. Though Hatton lost badly he deserves a pile of credit - most guys would have gone down well before the British brawler did.
G - Gagne, Eric. As a Canadian I will always be loyal to Gagne and every other Canadian-born player in the major leagues, but the new contract signed by the once-great closer is an absolute mystery to me. I understand why Milwaukee wants bullpen help after losing Francisco Cordero to free agency, but what I don't get is why the Brewers, not exactly a free spending team, felt that he was worth $10 million for one year. That's a lot of dough for a guy who was incredibly bad for Boston.
H - Heisman. The voters got it right on Saturday when they gave Florida QB Tim Tebow the Heisman by a comfortable margin. Darren McFadden may go on to be a better pro, but Tebow was easily the best player this year. The win is pretty good news for my beloved Michigan Wolverines, too - the last two Heisman winners have struggled in their bowl games, so Michigan may have a chance against Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Probably not, but maybe.
I - Indianapolis. A rematch between the Colts and the patriots in the AFC Championship is looking more and more inevitable as the Colts have rediscovered their form, and no one else in the conference is stepping up to challenge the top two. I was about to write that this team will be even more dangerous once Marvin Harrison is back on the field, but the longer he stays out the less likely he will make an impact this year when he returns.
J - Jacksonville. I'm going to start calling Jacksonville's NFL team the Blue Jays, because the Jaguars have the same problem as Toronto - they are both solid teams cursed by being in a division with superior squads. The Jags are only barely closer to getting past Indy than Toronto is to passing the Yanks and Red Sox. It's a shame, too, because the blowout win over Carolina was yet another sign that Jacksonville is the best of the second tier of AFC teams.
K - Kentucky. How much trouble are the Wildcats in this year? Indiana absolutely manhandled Kentucky on Saturday, and they did it with leading scorer and best player Eric Gordon on the shelf with an injury. Kentucky shot just 38.8 percent from the field, and the only statistical category they excelled in was committing fouls. The post-Tubby era is off to a challenging start. Gardner-Webb's early season upset isn't looking quite so spectacular any more.
L - Lakers. I have to admit to being absolutely and completely mystified by the Lakers this year. The fact that they allowed Allen Iverson to torch them for 51 points, including a career high 33 in the first half, is consistent with my expectations for the team coming into the year. The fact that L.A. still won the game with a balanced effort in which four players had at least 17 points, or that the Lakers are right in the playoff mix, just doesn't make sense.
M - Miami Dolphins. I am a big fan of the way the Bills are playing this year, but they should absolutely not be beating any team by 21 points this year. That result shows just how astoundingly bad the Dolphins really are. Buffalo QB Trent Edwards had four times more touchdowns in the game than he had previously thrown in his career. Not only did Miami lose 38-17, but they scored most of their points in the second half when the game was already all but over.
N - New Jersey Devils. It wasn't a strong start for the Devils this year, but the last few weeks have been exceptional. They lost to the Rangers in overtime on Sunday, but that was the first time they had lost in 10 games. Those nine straight wins lifted them from three games below .500 to the top of their division. The team allowed only 14 goals in the nine wins - not surprisingly, outstanding goaltending was at the heart of New Jersey success. It's as if we have heard that story somewhere before.
O - Oops. Memo to Anthony Smith - that's why you don't guarantee a victory against a team that is significantly better than you. Tom Brady obviously took the suggestion that his team was fading and about to lose personally, because he shredded the Steelers offense with 399 yards and four touchdowns. He was so dominant that he didn't even need the running game to alleviate pressure - the Pats only ran eight times.
P - Pitt. The Panthers are still undefeated, but they have the officials and instant replay to thank for it. Washington's hometown crowd went insane as a last second shot looked to have knocked off 12th ranked Pittsburgh, a three-point favorite. An official review, though, showed that the shot was released after the buzzer had sounded. Pitt is a team that is quickly sneaking into the elite.
Q - Quit. At this point in the season there are a lot of NFL personnel who clearly need to quit before they cause their team irreparable harm. At the head of that line is Mike Martz, who is a key architect in the Lions' self destruction. A win this week doesn't get Marvin Lewis off the list, too. Shockingly, I no longer feel like I need to save a space for Norv Turner. Not now anyway - he'll find his way back soon enough.
R - Reggie Bush. A fairly disappointing year for the former first overall pick may have just fizzled out. Bush will miss the Saints' game on Monday with a knee injury, and it seems likely that he will be shut down for the rest of the season. There's always next year I guess, but then that's what we said last year, and look how well that turned out.
S - Shaq. Stop the presses - Shaq is pouting. The big man is complaining that he isn't getting the ball enough, and that the Miami system isn't allowing him to play at his best. Someone needs to explain to him that big guys who eat and solve crimes as they age instead of staying in shape and working hard start to break down and aren't nearly as effective as they used to be. The Miami system isn't the problem, his badly eroded skills are. Don't worry, though - he'll find a way to blame this on Kobe soon enough.
T - Travis Henry. In the miracles-do-happen department, Travis Henry claimed he was not guilty of the sins that brought him his one-year suspension, and he must have been right. The NFL takes great pleasuring in fining and suspending anyone, yet they dropped his suspension this week. Sadly it won't do much to change the Broncos' struggles this year, but it should fire up Henry to put up a big game or two down the stretch.
U - USC. Memphis and the Trojans had a big game this week that was billed as a showdown between two standout freshmen, Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo. Memphis won the game to continue their roll towards a No. 1 seed, and both youngsters had their moments, but it wasn't the clash of the titans that many were hoping for.
V - Varejao, Anderson. This is one that will be interesting to watch. The goofy looking Brazilian is back with the Cavs this week. His holdout ended when the Bobcats offered him a contract, and the Cavs matched it. Now he says he is happy to be back, but this is the same guy who said not long ago that he would never play in Cleveland again and absolutely had to go. The team is certainly hoping all goes well, because they are desperate for any help they can get.
W - Wildcats. It's early in the college basketball season, but so far no team has shown a love for the comeback more than Arizona. Last week they got way behind against Texas A&M at the half before running away in the last frame. This weekend they needed overtime to overcome another first half deficit against Illinois. With their ability to claw back this could really be a dangerous tournament team provided they iron the kinks out by then. Finally having their coaching situation sorted out for the year could help.
X - Xavier. It was yet another good week for the mascots of this column. They had just one game but they won it in style. The pesky Bluejays of Creighton rolled into town, and Xavier took a huge halftime lead before cruising to the 13-point victory. Drew Lavender had a huge game for Xavier, with 28 points, including four of six from three-point range, and 10 assists.
Y - Yikes. This is not the way to win a rushing title. Adrian Peterson had a truly bizarre stat line on Sunday against the Niners - 14 rushes for three yards. That's a yards per carry average so low that it rounds to zero. The misfire and big games from Willie Parker and LaDainian Tomlinson means that Peterson now trails Parker and is just a couple of yards ahead of the surging San Diego back.
Z - Zoom. The horse racing fans among you will remember the name Premium Tap. He had a solid career, topped by a second place finish to Invasor in the Dubai World Cup. Well, his career has taken a strange course. He's now racing in Saudi Arabia, and he has been renamed Allam. He is undefeated there, and won the Crown Prince Cup this weekend. That victory was especially noteworthy because one rein broke 50 yards from the gate, so Kent Desormeaux had to ride a mile and a half with only one rein. That has to be a little scary.