This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 11/03/2008
A - Anthony Kim. This young golfer showed that he is the next big thing in American golf. It's seems, though, that one country isn't enough for Kim - he wants Europe, too. Kim joined the European Tour this week, and plans to play it as well as the PGA this year. That means he has committed to play at least 12 European events during the year, though some of those - the WGC events - are also PGA events. He's just one of an impressive list of players who have or are about to do the same thing - Mickelson, Ogilvy, Villegas. The motive is obvious - cash. European events can pay appearance fees, and the season-ending event has a $10 million bonus.
B - Beckham, David. The biggest name in American soccer is going back to Italy, though just temporarily. Once the season ends here, Beckham has been loaned to AC Milan. Though on the surface the deal seems innocent enough, it could be an indicator of future changes. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the gamble the MLS took with Beckham isn't paying off. He's doing his part, but even a guy like him isn't enough to make North Americans care about soccer. Especially the minor league form of soccer the MLS offers. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Beckham is soon back in Europe on a permanent basis.
C - Culpepper, Daunte. This quarterback's retirement was only marginally longer than Brett Favre's. Culpepper has signed a two-year contract with the Lions. It's hard to know what kind of shape he is in, but he doesn't have to be very fit to be an improvement over Dan Orlovsky. I'm glad to see Culpepper get another chance - he never got a fair shot in Miami in my mind, and he is too good to have deserved the fate of the last few years. Of course, he is totally and utterly doomed playing in Detroit.
D - Diego Maradona. Two soccer items in the first four letters - you don't see that in these parts often. This story is just too good to pass on. It appears that Maradona, one of the biggest legends in the history of world soccer, is about to be named the coach of Argentina's national team. This has disaster written all over it. It's like naming John Daly the captain of the Ryder Cup team. Maradona has no real coaching experience, his health hasn't been great, and he has a serious cocaine habit buried in his past. This is a surprisingly desperate move for a proud and accomplished team that has struggled, relative to their expectations, of late.
E - Endless. The Pittsburgh/Notre Dame game on Saturday was like some bizarre form of punishment for football fans everywhere. The coaches - Dave Wannstedt and Charlie Weis - are two NFL guys who haven't made a seamless transition to the college game. Watching their teams is not always much fun. So, of course, karma dictated that we should be forced to watch a ridiculous amount of action between the two teams - four overtimes worth. Pittsburgh ultimately won, but it was a bland overtime marathon - all of the scores were field goals. The loss, thankfully, puts and end to any of the longshot BCS berth talk for Notre Dame.
F - Florida. Wow. I knew that Urban Meyer was an exceptionally good coach, and that he had taken Georgia's antics last year personally, but I didn't realize just how bad of an idea it was to piss him off. His Gators absolutely destroyed and humiliated the Bulldogs. The final score was 49-10, but the lone Georgia TD was in garbage time. Short of an impressive run or two from Knowshon Moreno, Georgia did absolutely nothing right. On the other side, Tim Tebow showed that he isn't willing to give up his Heisman without a fight - he ran four three TDs and threw for two more. Now Georgia, the preseason No. 1, is nationally irrelevant, while Florida is right back in the heart of the national championship hunt.
G - Golden Hurricane. Another one bites the dust. It seemed like Tulsa was in a perfect position to crash the BCS party. There was no one left in their conference that could challenge them and their potent offense. All they had to do was beat Arkansas this weekend. They hadn't done that since the 70s, but Bobby Petrino wasn't exactly running a football powerhouse this year. The Razorbacks, though, were still good enough. They won 30-23, and Tulsa is now free to fade back into obscurity.
H - Hansbrough, Tyler. This is exactly why national players of the year shouldn't come back to school. Hansbrough would have been a lottery pick, but he returned to try to win a national championship with a stacked team this year. So far, though, things aren't following the script. Hansbrough is out of action indefinitely with an injury. The problem is a stress reaction in his shin - the precursor, if untreated, to a stress fracture. It looks like he could miss some regular season games. Too many troubles and his draft status will suffer badly.
I - Indianapolis. I don't like the Colts. Never have. Won't until they get a new quarterback. Even then it's no sure thing. As such, I was very excited by the concept that they weren't going to make the playoffs. That would make for a great January. Here's the thing, though - they probably are. At 4-4 they are now just one game out of the wild card. The teams right ahead of them are the Ravens and the three teams now tied for the AFC East lead. They only have to beat two of those teams to get in. The problem, as I see it, is that they are probably better than all of them. I hate that.
J - Jacksonville. Truly, irredeemably pathetic. The Jaguars had a chance to be special this year, but injuries and seeming apathy have led them to throw that out the window. They truly bottomed out this week by losing to the terrible Bengals. It was just a two-point defeat, but that is a very flattering score - it was 21-3 at the end of the third quarter, and Jacksonville was only able to get anything done when the undermanned Cncy defense started to struggle. A couple more games like this one and Jack Del Rio might want to brush up on his job interview skills.
K - KGB. It's the end of an era in Green Bay. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila - one of the best pass-rushers and nicknames in the NFL in the last decade - was released on Saturday. At 31, KGB just wasn't as effective as he used to be - he has just one start and half a sack this year. Unless he lands somewhere else, which seems unlikely, KGB finishes with 74.5 sacks in nine seasons, six more than Reggie White had for the Packers. The glory days of the Packers are more and more just a distant memory.
L - Lions. For a while there I wasn't sure what team I was watching. It couldn't be Detroit - they were scoring and winning. The Lions scored 23 second quarter points to take a 23-13 lead into the locker room against a Bears team that should have been far the better. Order was restored in the second half, though - the Lions again forgot how to score, and the Bears came back to win by four. The victory could be costly, though - the surprisingly effective Kyle Orton left the game with an injury.
M - Michigan. Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I'm going to address my beloved Wolverines here, then I don't plan to talk about them or think about them again until next season. Michigan hasn't had a losing record since 1967, and hasn't missed a bowl in 33 years, but by losing to Purdue on Saturday they ensured that both of those streaks will come to a crashing end. Not only that, but without a likely win on the rest of the schedule, at least a share of last place in the conference is very likely. I was braced for a rebuilding year, but I doubt a Michigan fan anywhere expected this.
N - NBA All-Star Game. I've always thought that anyone who went to an NBA All-Star Game would likely spend the game sitting in the stands wondering why they had bothered to show up for the dull, defenseless exhibition. In 2010, more than 100,000 people will get to ask themselves that question. Two of the biggest egos in all of sports - Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban - have teamed up to bring the 2010 all-star festivities to the Cowboys' shiny new stadium.
O - Oden, Greg. This is not how this was supposed to turn out. Greg Oden not only looks like he is about 114 years old, he is also quite possibly the most fragile human being on the planet. After injuries cost him half of his college career and all of last year, the top pick was supposed to shine this season. That lasted just a couple minutes into his first game. He landed awkwardly, sprained his ankle, and is now out of action for two to four weeks. The guy needs to quickly find a way to stay healthy or his career will be compared to top picks like Michael Olowokandi or Kwame Brown instead of David Robinson or Tim Duncan.
P - Phillies. It's about time that a team from Philadelphia won something. It took a while to get it done thanks to the weather, but there was little doubt from the first game what the outcome of the World Series was going to be. With Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, and a stunning collection of bats, this team isn't going to be a flash in the pan, either - especially if they can find some starting pitching depth. That's likely not making the league very happy - this series drew record low ratings.
Q - Quite effective. Oklahoma State didn't have much of a challenge in front of them this week when they faced Iowa State, but they dispatched of the Cyclones in style, winning 59-17, more than enough to cover the 30-point spread and stay perfect ATS. The most impressive part of the effort was wide receiver Dez Bryant. He was already having a great year, but he took it to another level on Saturday, with nine catches for 171 yards and four TDs.
R - Rodgers, Aaron. A couple of months ago it looked like Rodgers may never get his chance to start in Green Bay. Now it looks like he may never leave. Rodgers has been mostly solid this season, and he has been rewarded handsomely for his efforts. Green Bay has signed Rodgers to a contract extension through 2014. It is reportedly worth more than $11 million a year, and more than $20 million is guaranteed. It will be interesting to see if both his play and his health can hold up now that he is very expensive.
S - South Florida. This once great story is getting less and less impressive as time passes. The Bulls lost for the third time in four games on Saturday when they dropped one to Cincinnati in a truly uninspiring effort. The team is now just 2-6 ATS. That's a far cry from their solid 7-4 ATS mark last year. Penalties were again an issue. South Florida is the fourth most penalized team in the country, averaging more than eight flags per game. They maintained their average against Cincinnati by drawing eight.
T - Texas Tech. Wow. On paper, this game in Lubbock had the makings of the best game of the year. For once, potential was reached and exceeded. The Red Raiders beat the Longhorns with a stunning last second pass from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree that proved unequivocally that Crabtree is worth all of the hype. Texas Tech dominated the first half, playing darned good defense for a team that doesn't play defense. Texas woke up in the second half, and took a lead late, but Texas Tech just kept punching away. Colt McCoy's Heisman hopes took a hit in the loss - his numbers were flattering to his performance. Texas Tech still has a very hard road ahead, but they deserve all the credit in the world for what they did.
U - Ugly. Cleveland is determined not to turn this season around. They built a nice two touchdown lead over the Ravens in the third quarter, and they should have been able to cruise to the finish line. They took a different approach - they allowed 24 unanswered points, Braylon Edwards dropped an easy TD, and the Ravens won by 10. Derek Anderson was, at best, just okay, and he threw a brutal late interception that was returned for a TD. Brace yourself, kids - the Brady Quinn era is almost here.
V - Victim. Ted Cottrell is the latest victim of Norv Turner's total incompetence. The Chargers' defensive coordinator was at the helm of a unit that is significantly worse than it was last year, but that's hardly his fault - with Shawne Merriman out of action and a ridiculously young secondary, passing offenses were having a field day. The move was a bit surprising, but the risk is relatively low - Ron Rivera, the architect of the defense that took Chicago to the Super Bowl, was already on staff and will take over from Cottrell. That doesn't change the fact, though, that the person Turner should have fired after starting 3-5 with a ridiculously talented team is himself.
W - Washington. It was not a good football day on Saturday for the state of Washington. The Huskies, without their QB and newly dealing with a lame duck coach (who was previously just lame), lost 56-0 to USC. That wasn't that surprising, really - they were 42-point underdogs, after all. They can take solace in the fact that they were the best major college team in the state. Washington State was a 28-point underdog traveling to Stanford. They lost 58-0. So, the state's teams lost by a combined score of 114-0. If that doesn't get you excited about the upcoming Apple Cup then nothing will.
X - eXplosion. That sound you just heard was Jerry Jones' head exploding. The Cowboys are on the fast track to nowhere, and their owner isn't going to take it lightly. Brad Johnson was lousy, Brook Bollinger was no better, and the Cowboys made the Giants look like the greatest team in the history of football. I am not at all convinced that the Cowboys can turn this around, but I do know that there will be a prolonged and ugly bloodbath in Dallas if they don't.
Y - Yikes. The Bills were unquestionably one of the best stories of the opening quarter of the season. Those days are long gone, though. Since starting 4-0, this team has dropped three of their last four. The good news in their loss to the Jets was that they were able to contain Brett Favre fairly effectively. The bad news is that a pretty average team without good QB play was still able to beat the Bills by nine. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but the timing of the Bills decline corresponds with the signing of a fat contract extension by coach Dick Jauron.
Z - Zzzz. Watching the Raiders play is a perfect cure for insomnia. The Falcons don't have a world-class defense, but JaMarcus Russell could make a high school team look like the Steel Curtain. The QB completed just six of 19 passes for a grand total of 31 yards, and he threw in an interception for good measure. Add the fact that the Raiders were held to just three first downs in the whole game and you truly understand the scope of this offensive juggernaut. It's hard to believe that any quarterback could fail to show progress like Russell has, never mind a former No. 1 pick.