This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 12/17/2007
A - Atlanta Falcons. Bobby Petrino is obviously the worst kind of scum, but his treachery doesn't excuse the deep disappointment I feel about the Falcons today. With the way the players were talking after Petrino left I thought that their pride would lead them to try their best to show their former coach up, but they didn't even bother to show up as they got destroyed by the Bucs. I didn't even know it was possible for a team to pass for only 34 yards.
B - Billick, Brian. Baltimore's head coach was given the news that he would be back next season this week, and chose to celebrate by leading his team to an eighth-straight loss. Though Billick has done some great things in Baltimore - building one of the great defenses of all time and winning a Super Bowl - he can't manage to create an offense of any description, and his team is a long way from inspiring. If this isn't time for him to go, then I don't know when any coach should be fired.
C - Concussion. Tar Heels fans will be hoping that their star is a fast healer. North Carolina cruised to a win at Rutgers on Sunday, but Tyler Hansbrough left the game with a concussion three-quarters of the way through the second half. It was a bizarre incident - he took a charge, fell over backwards, and hit his head on the knee of a cameraman. New Jersey has not been kind to Hansbrough - the last time he played in the state his team lost to Georgetown in the Elite Eight.
D - Dolphins, Miami. Noooooooo!!!!! We were so close to the ultimate imperfection, but the stupid Ravens had to wreck it all. The only saving grace about Miami actually winning a game is that they played well enough to deserve it. Cleo Lemon looked nothing like Cleo Lemon, throwing for 315 yards and a touchdown. Some guy named Greg Camarillo was the hero, with 109 receiving yards and the touchdown in overtime. Before this game, he had one career catch for two yards since leaving Stanford in 2005.
E - Elements. The weather certainly didn't suit Jacksonville as they visited Pittsburgh, but the Jags didn't seem to notice. They played in a hostile Heinz Field on a terrible winter day, but they came out with a 29-22 win that was notable for the balanced offense above all else. With the win the Jags laid to rest any debate about which team is the third best squad in the AFC. Jacksonville is very good. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is not a team I believe in at all.
F - Freaking awful. At the start of the year I mocked Jon Kitna for his claims that his team would win at least 10 games. Halfway through the year, when the Lions were 6-2, I was worried I would have to eat my words. Thankfully, the Lions have since remembered who they are. Not only have they lost six straight, but each week they find a way to play even worse than they did the week before. At this point that is a very hard task, but somehow they manage it.
G - Gaels, Saint Mary's. The Gaels were becoming one of the great stories of the young college basketball season - they were undefeated and ranked for the first time ever, and their Aussie-fueled attack had upset Oregon. They came crashing back to earth on Tuesday, though. They traveled to Southern Illinois, and it did not go well. The 4-4 Salukis ripped off Cinderella's slipper and smashed it to bits with a 15-point victory.
H - Horford, Al. Atlanta's rookie, fresh off of two straight championships at Florida, got a well-deserved day off on Friday thanks to a one-game suspension. Billy Donovan taught Horford a lot, but apparently that didn't include the fact that you can't stop an opponent by clubbing him in the head and trying to knock him out. The Raptors' T.J. Ford got a free night in the hospital thanks to Al's brutality.
I - Idiot. Jamaal Tinsley of the Pacers has hired a bodyguard to travel with him and to go out with him in Indianapolis in the wake of his involvement in a shooting incident at an Indy hotel this month - the third incident for the player in 14 months. Hiring a guard is one solution to the problem, but there is another one, too - grow up, get a brain, and avoid the people and situations that keep getting you into these messes. Tinsley is proof that you don't have to be smart to be a decent ball player.
J - JaMarcus Russell. What in the world are the Raiders waiting for? Their season is lost, their offense is virtually non-existent, they don't exactly have Joe Montana taking snaps, yet they are being incredibly slow in introducing the top pick in the draft. He made another appearance this week, but only long enough to throw five unimpressive passes. The longer the team holds off on giving him a start, or at least a meaningful appearance, the easier it becomes to wonder what is wrong with him. Sure he held out, but the season is 15 weeks old, so he has had more than enough time to get a feel for the game by now.
K - Kobe Bryant. The latest news from the mouth of the incredibly talented baby is that he is glad that the Lakers didn't trade him after all. In related news, Kobe Bryant needs to shut up and never open his mouth again. I haven't hated a superstar this much since, well, really ever.
L - Louisville. The Steve Kragthorpe era continues to become more and more of a disaster for the Cardinals. The news came out this week that sophomore running back Anthony Allen is transferring despite setting the single game team record with 275 yards back in September, and that junior receiver Mario Urrutia is making the seemingly poor decision to leave for the NFL a year early despite a disappointing, injury-riddled season. Are things really that bad in Derby-land?
M - Miami Hurricanes. So many people were doubting the undefeated Hurricanes that they weren't even ranked despite being 8-0, but they silenced some doubters on Thursday with an impressive late comeback to beat Tyler's little brother Ben Hansbrough and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It was their first win as an underdog, and it happened on the road, so it may be time to give Miami a bit of respect.
N - Nod off. I couldn't help but fall asleep while trying to watch the Patriots play on Sunday. The weather was awful, so the once-and-future Super Bowl champs used their running game to cruise to an easy and thoroughly boring victory over the Jets. After all the build-up, the great Spygate showdown was a big letdown. Bill Belichick even smiled at Eric Mangini as he shook hands at the end of the game. The least he could have done for the fans who had endured the boredom was punch the much-hated opposing coach or something.
O - Outstanding. I am going to write about it again in more detail a few letters down this list, but one letter isn't enough for me to express my joy over the hiring of Rich Rodriguez at my beloved Michigan. As a compassionate guy, I guess I should be a little concerned about how West Virginia will fare in the Fiesta Bowl without their head coach, but then WVU is suddenly just a coaching farm team for Michigan, and fans of a major team never care how their farm team is playing.
P - Peppers Pride. Cigar, Citation, and ... Peppers Pride?!? This New Mexico-bred mare took another step toward joining that elite company with her 14th-consecutive win on Sunday at Sunland Park. The two racing legends share the record with 16-straight victories. Though Peppers Pride may eventually eclipse racing's most impressive tally, it would have to be with an asterisk - Cigar and Citation regularly beat the best of their generations, while Peppers Pride has never raced against a horse that wasn't bred in the racing hotbed of New Mexico.
Q - Quit. Marvin Lewis should do the honorable thing and pull a Petrino - you know, leave his team before the season ends. That would save his ownership from having to fire him. With the Bengals loss to San Francisco on Saturday his pathetic regime has truly hit rock bottom. Lewis has squandered an incomprehensible amount of offensive talent by completely failing to teach his team to play defense or to show anything resembling consistent effort.
R - Romo, Tony. Even the newly minted super-King of the NFL can have an off day, apparently. The media loves this guy, but Romo looked worse than terrible on Sunday as his Cowboys limped to a loss in a pretty much unwatchable game against Philadelphia. Romo's stats were nasty - 13 of 36 for 215 yards and three interceptions. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts to this boondoggle - do they regroup and grow stronger, or do they self-destruct?
S - Sage Rosenfels. This guy is the latest proof that you don't have to have a fancy pedigree to emerge as a legitimate QB in the NFL. The Texans got their second straight convincing win with the seventh-year player at the helm, and the brain trust in Houston has to be wondering how secure Matt Schaub should be in his job when he returns from injury. One thing that brain trust doesn't need to worry about is whether they made the right draft pick two years back - it increasingly seems that Mario Williams, who had three sacks on Thursday, is the real deal.
T - Tiger Woods. There was much speculation leading into this weekend's Target World Challenge about how Tiger would fare after returning from the longest layoff of his career. Just fine, by the looks of it. Woods set a course record and tied the tournament record en-route to a painless seven-stroke victory. He hadn't played a competitive round since September. This guy is pretty good.
U - Upsets. Saturday wasn't a good day for a few ranked college basketball teams. Xavier lost, but we'll revisit that later. Oregon fell in overtime to Nebraska after Tajuan Porter missed the game-winning free throw with just seconds left. Louisville lost yet again, and Rick Pitino may be stuck at 499 wins forever.
V - Very bad. The Giants will likely cruise into the playoffs with their current 9-5 record, but this is far from a good team. With their loss against Washington on Sunday they have now dropped three in a row at home. Good teams don't do that. They haven't beat a team above .500 all year, and now they have to play without Jeremy Shockey after he broke his leg. It should be a nice first round victory for which ever division winner - Seattle or Tampa Bay - is lucky enough to play them.
W - What?!?!? Contracts have been getting increasingly bizarre in the NHL since the salary cap was instituted as teams try to find ways to keep their stars around as long as they can. The Flyers have reached new depths of silliness with the contract given to leading scorer Mike Richards. The third-year player, who isn't exactly a Gretzky clone, has a new 12-year, $69 million deal. NHL contracts are much more meaningful than their NFL counterparts, so Philly could be hung with an albatross for more than a decade if he doesn't work out.
X - Xavier. A week that started so well for the mascots of this column ended so, so badly. They won their big rivalry game against Cincinnati, but then were absolutely humiliated in a 22-point loss to Arizona State - a game in which the Musketeers were favored by three. That doesn't make me very confident heading into their next game against Tennessee.
Y - Yesss!!!!!! As a Michigan fan I didn't enjoy this football season much, the basketball season has sucked, and the coaching search was a horrible joke. The horrendous pain is all forgotten, though, thanks to the hiring of Rich Rodriguez on Sunday. Somehow, our inept search for a new boss led us to landing the most innovative and inspiring young coach not named Urban. It's a great time to be a Wolverines fan, and a lousy time to be in West Virginia. It's not all going to be rosy for us fans, though - we'll have to learn how to cope with seeing creativity in Ann Arbor after more than 30 years of often-dull sameness.
Z - Zzzzz. If you hadn't watched any sports on Sunday and I told you that Cleveland beat Buffalo 8-0, you would probably have asked when the NHL returned to Cleveland. That score combined with a blinding blizzard probably ensured that the reported 73,196 fans in Cleveland had one of the worst afternoons of their lives. Don't look now, but the Browns are guaranteed to finish above .500, and they are tied for the lead of the AFC North. That's a sign of impending Armageddon, isn't it?