...you know the rest.
While searching for a common thread this week, it being Week Two of college football and Week One of the NFL, I couldn't help but notice that it seemed, the more things change, the more they seemed to stay the same.
As I'm apt to do, let me include a quick note first. My blogs do not follow any particular pattern. Sometimes, they have very little to do with sports. But in an attempt to be more in line with the subject matter of this website, I am writing about more sports, from weekly recaps of Nebraska football, to quick hits about the sports week that was, or more in-depth looks at particular subjects (like my well-received article on BCS controversy).
In short, I'm trying to be more serious. More "sportsy".
I suppose the best place to start is my favorite sport, college football. Last week, after the Colorado Buffaloes lost to their in-state rival, Colorado State, I alluded to Dan Hawkins' preseason prediction of "ten wins, no excuses". My swipe at the Buffs was partly tongue-in-cheek as Sonny Lubick had built the Rams into a respectable program, before Steve Fairchild took the reins. Taking that into account and adding in the rivalry factor made the loss, even though it was in Boulder, less devastating.
But last Friday, Colorado travelled to Toledo, a game that many had penciled in as a win for the Buffaloes, only to have the Rockets shell the Buffs, 54-38. What started out as disappointment following the season opener, has turned into shock. If Colorado loses to Wyoming this week in Boulder, it's safe to say that panic will ensue. How bad are things in Boulder? It's so bad that Nebraska fans are trying to bolster the spirits of their rivals in posts like this. Meanwhile, Colorado fans want to run Hawkins (and his son) out of town, or more likely, out of state. Nebraska fans trying to be cordial to their rival when they're reeling? Teams' fortunes may change but Husker fans stay the same.
Last week, I also made mention of the possiblity that Oklahoma State had finally broken the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. After their performance in week one, Dez Bryant made the cover. Then the Houston Cougars invaded Stillwater, apparently with fate on their side, and upended the Cowboys, 45-35. So apparently, I was wrong. The jinx is alive and well. The more things change...
In another college football note, the USC Trojans and their freshman QB, Matt Barkley, faced off against the Buckeyes in ESPN's marquee match-up. The Men of Troy, despite having to play in front of a record crowd at the Horseshoe, had history on their side, having beaten their past nine Big Ten opponents, by double digits. Unless, you've been living under a rock since Saturday, you know what happened. USC drove down the field in the final quarter and won by three. Same result, smaller margin. And once again, the game caused a great rumbling across Buckeye Nation as they accused Jim Tressel of what I suggested of another high-profile coach last week; that he can't win the big game. The more things change...
And to close out the college portion of this week's blog: Florida and Texas beat up on cupcakes, Virginia's woes continued and Notre Dame appeared to be overrated yet again. The more things change...
Sensing a pattern yet?
Before I get into the NFL and a little baseball, let me say something about women's tennis. Women's tennis? Yes. I'm not going to lie to you; I don't follow tennis. But if I had to choose between men's and women's tennis, I'd pick women's tennis for the same reason I'd prefer to watch women's gymnastics or women's volleyball over men's. If that makes me a lech or a perv or just a red-blooded male, I don't know and I don't care.
The only reason I'm even mentioning this is that, while I was watching Sportscenter for football highlights, they kept showing Serena Williams' meltdown. Now I admit, I can have a foul mouth at times, but then again I don't normally have twenty cameras on me at any given moment nor do I endorse Oreo cookies. If you want to argue that Serena (who seems to be anything but serene) was "in the heat of battle", save it. She's the one trying to market herself as a product with her own line of clothing line and such. With that comes a certain responsiblity.
If she had let loose with a stray F-bomb or something, that would be different. But from what I saw of her tirade, I surmised (in between all the bleeps) that she wanted to forcibly place the ball into one of the line judge's body cavities. Today, she's beaming and saying that she wants to give the woman "a big hug". Hmm, let's see. We have a high-profile athlete make an arse of themselves and then try to gloss it over when they realize that it could cost them. And it could, although her sponsors are standing by her (big surprise), she could stand to lose her U.S. Open winnings in addition to being suspended. And while her $10,000 fine may be no more than a drop in the bucket to her, the roughly half-a-mill she'd have to give-up from her winnings isn't.
Even this silly incident on which I've wasted three paragraphs (now, four) fits into this week's theme.
On to the NFL!
Welcome back to Tom Brady and Osi Umenyiora.
Brady, whose absence last season was celebrated by as many who cursed it, led his team to a one-point victory over Buffalo, a game that the Bills should have and would have won until a fumble by Leodis McKelvin on a kickoff return gave the Patriots another possession. The game was interesting in another aspect as it was Terrell Owens' first game with his new team. He was largely ineffective, unlike his counterpart on the other sideline, Randy Moss, who along with Wes Welker, had twelve receptions each. In the end, it was a surprising end to a game in which the Bills tried to end their 11-game skid to their AFC East rivals, but failed, and Owens was reported to have stormed out of the locker room. The more things change...
One other thing I noticed in the Bills/Patriots game was another example of how the NFL (and the NCAA) have hampered defenses by calling penalties on what appear to be otherwise sound tackles. In this instance, Vince Wilfork tackled Trent Edwards, but was flagged fifteen yards for going low. The so-called "Brady" rule. Some would call it poetic justice. Personally, I'm getting tired of all these restrictions on the defense. If they're going to call these type of penalties, then the quarterback, by rule, should have to wear a pink skirt on the next play.
And speaking of officials; just when I thought that their uniforms couldn't get any uglier, especially after their recent "make-over", the NFL has brought back these hideous AFL "throwback" Technicolor vomit "unis" for the Zebras to wear. They look like they should be selling ice cream, not calling football games.
Ok, off the soapbox. For now.
Umenyiora, who missed all of last season, had a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown on a ball that he swatted out of the hand of the Redskins' Jason Campbell. Aside from Steeler SS Troy Polamalu's pick in the Thursday night game, it might have been the most athletic defensive play of the week.
Back in the AFC East, rookie Mark Sanchez had a good start against the Houston Texans, who were picked by many to be contenders this year. I'm sure that Kubiak and Company don't want to suffer the same fate as last year's "sexy" pick in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys. It's no secret that many pundits had them going to the Super Bowl and well...they didn't. The media putting a team in the playoffs before the first snap of the season? Certainly that will stay the same.
Fellow rookie Matthew Stafford didn't fare so well on the road in New Orleans, but got to watch Drew Brees put up more Playstation numbers. Brees threw for six scores in a rout of the Lions. Lions bad. Brees good. Same and same.
In other quarterback news, the Panthers' signal caller, Jake Delhomme, threw four interceptions and added a fumble to the five picks and a fumble he had against the Cardinals in the playoffs last year. In the same game, the Eagles' Donovan McNabb suffered a broken rib. Suddenly, that Michael Vick signing is looking more astute, even though he won't be able to help his new team for another two weeks. The Bears' new quarterback, Jay Cutler, either a cancerous primadonna or the missing piece of the puzzle depending upon whom you ask, threw four interceptions against the Packers. His former team, the Broncos (with the Bears' former QB, Kyle Orton), won against the Bengals after Brandon Stokely snagged a tipped pass out of the air in the game's final seconds.
The Bears also lost Brian Urlacher for the season after he dislocated his wrist. It was especially ironic since the oft-injured Urlacher made mention to reporters that this season he finally felt that he was at one hundred percent. Although I suspect that he doesn't care, this will do little to silence his critics. Urlacher, a six-time Pro Bowler, often makes various lists of the most overrated players in the NFL, from both established media outlets and fan sites alike.
Oh and a little known QB from Mississippi tied the record of starts by any position with 270. The man he shares the record with is coincidentally, former Vikings great, Jim Marshall although there is controversy over the validity of that.
And let's not allow the quarterbacks to hog all the controversy, shall we? I'm sure you know that LaDainian Tomlinson who is now 30, told the world that he is better than Adrian Peterson, even though "Purple Jesus" replaced L.T. as the league's rushing champion last year. In round one of this year's battle: A.P.:180 yds, L.T.:55 yds. Which segues us nicely into the story below.
The NFL scheduled a double bill on Monday night. Along with the Bills and Patriots, the Raiders hosted the Chargers in an attempt to break an eleven-game losing streak against the Bolts. Despite hanging tough for nearly four quarters and scoring on a 57-yard bomb with 2:34 left, the Raiders fell for the twelfth straight time after letting Darren Sproles into the end zone with eighteen ticks on the clock. With Al Davis at the helm, can't we expect more of the same?
In my last NFL note, I'd like to address the NFL's antiquated blackout policy. Yes I know it's old news. But, in this economy and in especially hardhit areas like Detroit, can we not lift the blackout rule for a season? As of Friday, I heard that Detroit was not alone; Jacksonville is hurting and it was questionable as to whether the defending NFC Champion Cardinals were going to be able to sellout their home opener (apparently the league extended the window on ticket sales; perhaps someone can clarify the result).
I know that I'm just one voice in the wilderness (and a small one a that), but in this era of recession, all folks want to do is escape their crappy world for three hours and watch their team on TV, yes, even the Lions. Besides, the NFL's antiquated notion that if they air the game locally, people won't go see the game is just that...antiquated. In my estimation of this issue, there are basically two types of fans: ones that will go to the game if they can and ones that would rather stay home with their recliner. I don't think that threat of a blackout is going to get the latter group to shell out today's prices to see the game live. It's time for the NFL to make a change in policy. And not a policy in which you can watch the game on the Internet hours after its happened. A substantive change.
FINALLY, a baseball note (and if you've stuck with me this far, bless you; drop me a line and let me know how I'm doing). My beloved Texas Rangers have been chasing the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card. Usually, the Rangers are out of it by Memorial Day. This year, the Rangers have actually been good against the Red Sox and the Angels, even the Yankees. But as of this writing, they are four-and-a-half games out in the Wild Card and six games back in the West. And all year, the more cynical types here in the Metroplex have been predicting the demise of the Rangers.
Unfortunately this may be it. Despite playing well against the better teams, they've recently gone 5-5 with two losses to Baltimore, two to Seattle and one to Oakland. Even though the Rangers still have seven games to play against the Angels and the Red Sox will host Los Angeles for three games starting today, it might not be enough to make up that much ground.
Here's to hoping that the Rangers can change things and avoid the same playoff-deficient results of the past decade.