Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - This week's Turning Stone Resort Championship marks the beginning of what is called the "Fall Series" on the PGA Tour. Basically, it gives the less known players a chance to earn some money and possibly a 2010 Tour exemption by winning an event. Since the PGA Tour Playoffs were put into place, very few of the top 50 Tour players enter any of the Fall Series events. This week is no exception. Turning Stone is a resort in upstate New York with a nice and difficult golf course. This tournament is only a few years old, and honestly, I have never seen one hole of it. However, I will make my prediction of Australian Robert Allenby as the champion come Sunday. Allenby has been a consistent player for a number of years now, and he is one of the more talented golfers in the field this week. My sleeper this week will be veteran Davis Love III. I am not sure why he chose to play here, but I am always glad to see popular names supporting smaller-market events. The Golf Channel will cover all four rounds.

Champions Tour - The seniors will be at Baltimore Country Club for the fifth major championship of their season, the Senior Players. My boy, Tom Lehman, is not in the field for some unknown reason. Therefore, my pick to win will be another sharp ball-striker, Nick Price. However, I will be pulling for my favorite Illinois State alum, D.A. Weibring, to defend his sole major title.

The King - The 80-year-old Arnold Palmer will be only the second golfer to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. The White House announced that the most popular golfer of the twentieth century would receive its highest civilian award. Lord Byron Nelson and George Washington were also a recipients. Personally, Palmer is a deserving recipient. I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with the legend at his course design in Bloomington, and he is quite the gentleman.

10 things that are better than watching Chicago baseball today

The Cubs and the White Sox are each playing meaningless doubleheaders today in Chicago. That means 4 games resulting in approx 16 hours worth of bad baseball teams playing out the string. I came up with a list of things to do in place of watching.

10. Do a statistical regression analysis for Gordon Beckham's future numbers. Including the exact day that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

9. Watch all 8 hours of the behind the scenes footage for the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

8. Build a tree fort.

7. Watch hours of YouTube footage of current and future Illini basketball recruits and become irrationally excited about the future.

6. Write a letter to Ryan Theriot telling him all the different, complex emotions that you feel for him. A letter that you'll never send.

5. Go to Milton Bradley's son's preschool and call everyone there a n-word or a n-word lover. It's okay. It's that kind of preschool.

4. Write an internet blog. ... okay, maybe not.

3. Play a season of NCAA Football 08. It's all about the recruiting.

2. Participate in a Civil War reenactment.

1. Take Milton Bradley's mom Charlena Rector out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

JC Has Arrived

The Bears beat the 'glow in the dark' Seahawks 25-19 in a close game where the Bears fell behind early 13-0 and came back to win in a game that came down to the final play. Here are a few thoughts.

Jay C is the player we hoped he was
The Bears passing attack is completely revamped from a year ago. The receivers Bennett, Knox, and Hester all look like elite players, and Olsen and Forte are great complements. The passing game is clicking on all cylinders. The receivers are making JC look good and JC is making the receivers look good. I have been down on Hester in the past, but this season he has caught everything thrown his way and become a dynamic playmaker on offense. You have to think that this is just the beginning. As time goes on this group is only going to get better.

Lovie Smith lives in a dream world
After the game Lovie stated that "There's nothing wrong with the pass. I'd like to be known as a running team that can pass the ball." It is difficult to understand what the hell Lovie is thinking here. Or what game he is watching. During the game I felt like the Bears were running the football just so Seattle could keep it close. The Bears passed the ball 27 times for 247 yards, and ran the ball 28 times for 85 yards. I am not a football coach but I can do simple math (with a calculator). That's over 9 yards a passing play and just over 3 yards per running play.
After Seattle kick a field goal to bring the game to 17-16 and the Bears clinging to a one point lead to start the forth quarter. Ron Turner in his infinite wisdom thought it would be a good time play conservative and bring in third-string running back Garrett Wolfe in for three straight running plays. In a critical juncture the Bears went with Wolfe. Indefensibly wrong.

The Bears are great at field goal defense
For the second straight week the Bears benefited from the incompetence of the opposing teams kicker. Mare missed 2 of his 5 field goal trys and essentially lost the game for Seattle. If I was a Seattle fan I would be really mad, not only at Mare, but at the offense for attempting 5 field goals and only scoring one touchdown. It was like the the Bears had Gandolf standing at the 25 yard line yelling "You Shall Not Pass!!!" It was the perfect example of the 'bend but don't break defense'.

TJ Houshamshabbadoos' idiocy was overshadowed at Cincy by Ochochinco
I did not realize how dumb this guy is. TJ was apperently upset that the Bears did not try to sign him in the offseason so he decided to run his mouth.
"Man, the Bears ain't holler at me," the ex-Bengal said. "Jerry Angelo probably didn't even think I could play. So I'm going to show him Sunday." Clearly TJ has no grasp of the English language.
"I feel like I'm going to get open every play, every time," he said. "But that's not going to be the case. Those guys get paid [well too]." "I feel I'm going to win regardless, but I have to be realistic. I feel I'm going to win 95 percent of the time and they can get the other 5."
TJ showcased his talent with 4 catches for 35 yards and a fumble. After the game he was asked if Briggs & Co. got the best of him. "Of course he did because they won. But I was open all game. They just didn't throw me the ball." Sure, blame the quarterback. Nice ponytail.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good for Phil!

What a final round for NBC and the PGA Tour. Could NBC ask for any more? Both Phil and Tiger win in the same day. What a treat! Seriously tough guys (Shen voice), it was a great final round. There were so many scenarios that could have unfolded as the best players on Tour played a historic championship caliber course on a windy day with potentially over $11 million at stake for the winner. I loved that each hole could possibly yield a birdie or bogey to any given player, and the 240 yard par 3 18th finishing hole added both a unique and exciting element. Going into today, as with Sunday at the PGA, I never gave Phil Mickelson a chance at winning. I thought Tiger, Kenny Perry, or Padraig Harrington were the only guys who stood a good chance. But throughout a tough round, so many pros stepped up to the plate to contend. Even Steve Stricker, who I said had no shot after the second round, came out of nowhere to mount a charge and possibly steal the FedEx Cup from Woods. It was an exciting day and a storybook ending for a deserving champion. Mickelson has gone through more this year than probably any other year of his life. Most know of his family situation that came about this spring with wife Amy's discovery of breast cancer. Then the next blow hit the family when Phil's mom was also diagnosed with breast cancer. The golfing world's heart went out to their most beloved champion. Mickelson took over a month off golf to spend time with his family and work out all the logistics and emotions. He came back in late June, a week before Amy's treatments began, and he nearly won the U.S. Open. Since then, it has been a rough go on the course, but thankfully, both his wife and mother are doing well and have a very positive outlook. Amy even appeared at the LPGA Tour's tournament in San Diego last week, and she looked great. This week looked to be more of the same mediocrity for Phil on the course starting out four over par through the first 16 holes. On Friday, though, he found his putting stroke, and he made everything he looked at. On Sunday, he started the day four strokes behind Perry, but he shot 65 on an extremely difficult day when most guys were going the opposite direction. Mickelson only needed to bogey to guarantee his victory on the challenging 18th, but came away with a par and his second TOUR Championship. Congrats Phil! Tiger still came away with the $10 million prize for winning the season-long FedEx Cup after finishing runner-up to Phil for a second time at East Lake.

Big 12 Update: No Surprises This Week

Bloomington rode their winning streak to the far southern reaches of Big 12 country to easily defeat the lowly Mattoon Green Wave. Ever since Rantucky left the Big 12, the Green Wave has been looking for other conferences where they might not get pooped on every week. If it wasn't for the baseball coach's desire for some strong competition, they would already be in some Little Egyptian conference playing against people with more similar dialects. The Raiders, once again, scored 40 points in the first half, and the starting defense gave up a grand total of zero. No surprise that Danville also cruised to a blowout against Eisenhower. The two games of interest ended with an NCHS victory over in-town rival, West, and MacArthur defeating Champaign Central 16-0. Next week's showcase game will be against the two undefeateds. Decatur MacArthur travels to the home of the Royal Donut. Lucky for the Vikings, they play their first quality opponent since the first week of the season at home. MacArthur has played tough every week so far, and I expect it to be a close game throughout. BHS hosts a 2-3 team in Champaign Centennial. The drama continues for football fans everywhere next Friday night.

The Game is 50% Mental

Or at least a higher percentage than zero. Because that is how much intelligence the Illini displayed on Saturday against THE Ohio State University in a 30-0 blowout loss. It is amazing how many dumb mistakes a team can make in a game. There were stupid penalties galore.

The Illini had players lining up in the wrong place, earning an illegal formation penalty, facemask penalties, inexplicably tackling people out of bounds, not being able to decide whether or not to return a kickoff, and just generally being dumb. The offensive line should watch the game tape with zany calliope music. All they did was run into each other, not pick up blitzers, and receive holding penalties.

It really makes you question how good our coaching is. Why did we not throw the ball down the field more? The one time we tried it Rejus was wide open and drew a pass interference penalty, our best play all day. Also the coaches failed to make defensive adjustments when Ohio State only ran two plays all day and NEVER threw the ball. OSU had zero passing yards in the first half, and the Illini had no answer for the running game. So far the Illini have embarrassed themselves twice in two big games. The only good news is that it is still early in the season. Or is that bad news? I'm not sure.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bruce Pearl: Classless human being

Former Iowa assistant, current Tennessee head coach and eternal Illinois tormentor Bruce Pearl apologized today for making a joke associating rural Tennessee with the Ku Klux Klan.

The joke, which is not funny on any level, was couched in a monologue about trying to get student-athletes from different backgrounds to function as a team.

Set up and punchline: "I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit ... I'm talking about the 'hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.''

(Offending sentiment aside, can you hear any Division I head basketball coach saying "I'm talking about the 'hood!"? Coach K? Bo Ryan? Billy Donovan? Anyone?)

This was said in front of cameras owned by a Knoxville TV station. The TV station used the footage for their newscast later in the day. I wonder if he thought that through.

Also of note, Pearl made the joke at a charity event. Charity events, which give things to people in need, often are structured to make the givers and sponsors look good in the public eye. Within his apology address, Pearl said this: "In no way am I trying to justify what I said, but I'm disappointed that the focus has been placed on me rather than the charities I was there to help."

He's the one that's disappointed?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let's play the Blame Game

The 2009 Cubs season is nearly over, and it is time to decide who is responsible for the $135 million monstrosity of a season, and what should be done going forward. Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune just wrote an article about how General Manager "Jungle"Jim Hendry deserves to keep his job.

This, of course, is ridiculous. Hendry has created a team of aging players with untradeable contracts that can't win a damn playoff game, or in the case of this season can't even get a sniff of the playoffs. There is a laundry list of horrible signings and bad trades. This season, everything he has done was wrong. It started out in the offseason with extending Ryan Dempsters' contract(4 years $52 mil), then he traded Mark DeRosa, the 2008 Cubs MVP, for 3 minor leaguers. Hendry then snorted a mountain of crack and decided he could replace DeRosa by signing Aaron Miles. Then he allows good closer and Cubs hero Kerry Wood to leave town and signed the 2008 leader in blown saves Kevin Gregg. And low and behold, Gregg blows a ton of saves and loses his closer job. In order to prepare for a big free agent signing, Hendry also gave away Jason Marquis for free.

All of that is just a preface to his most egregious mistake, the signing of Kanye Bradley. The worst free agent signing the Cubs have ever made. Throughout the season it has just been a circus act in right field for the Cubs. Bradley has not produced at the plate, been a huge distraction for the team, and blamed everything else possible, including the fans, umpires, Lou, and racism for his own poor performance.
The Bradley circus keeps on playing even after he was suspended for the rest of the season on Sunday. In an interview with Bradley's mom, Charlena Rector, reported in the Sun-Times, there was another accusation of racism. "When racism hit his 3-year-old baby in school, he couldn't take that," Rector said "Parents, teachers and their kids called him the n-word. He didn't even know it was a bad word until his mom told him." It's not difficult to see where Bradley gets his craziness. I don't often call people liars, but that is just not true. Is Miltons' kid enrolled at Jim Crow Preschool? It's amazing, overtly racist 3-year olds and teachers tossing the ol' n-bomb around.

It has given me an excellent idea for a new product. It's called the Blame Game -patent pending- and it will be made by Milton Bradley (the company, get it). Someone will draw a card with a problem or bad situation of some kind. Example: You sign a big contract and then only hit .257 with 12 Hrs and 40 RBI. And then everyone else will come up with something to blame it on. Example: I was distracted because my 3-year-old son was enrolled at a daycare where the n-word was tossed around like Kix cereal. Then you can choose who had the best blame. Fun for the entire family. It is almost as fun as the Jump to Conclusions Mat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Week in Golf

TOUR Championship - This week is the culmination of the PGA Tour Playoffs. The top 30 on the final FedEx Cup point list after three weeks of playoff events will compete at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The winner of the TOUR Championship takes home $1.35 million. However, the winner of the FedEx Cup Playoffs gets a $10 million prize. Mathematically, all 30 players in the field stand a shot a winning the FedEx Cup, but for #30 John Senden to win the whole thing, Tiger would have to finish dead last while Senden places first in the TOUR Championship. The possibility that has most of the golfing world excited is the opportunity for any of the top 5 on the points list to control their own destiny. If Tiger, Stricker, Furyk, Zach Johnson, or Heath Slocum wins the tournament this week, that player then takes the $10 million prize along with it, no matter how the other players in the top 5 finish this week. Most analysts are excited about that part of the new Playoffs format. There is still a lot of tweaking to be done to the three year old Playoff system. If Tiger finishes second to Furyk or Johnson, many, including Woods, will be up in arms because neither of those two players won any of the previous three Playoff events. However, we could also see Tiger finishing in seventh place in a Geoff Ogilvy win, and Tiger still take home the FedEx Cup. I do not believe the Playoff points formatting will ever be perfect or even good, but I do like the PGA Tour Playoffs for the sole reason that it brings the Tour's best players together at great venues for big money at the end of the season when we didn't used to see them play. The $10 million grand prize and FedEx Cup add some interest, but no one will remember 30 years from now who won the FedEx Cup in 2009. They will look back on Kenny Perry at Augusta, Tom Watson at Turnberry, and Y.E. Yang at Hazeltine. Tim Finchum cannot replace the majors no matter how hard he tries to push his creations, such as the World Golf Championship Series and PGA Tour Playoffs. For my third pick in a row, I choose Tiger Woods to win at East Lake this week, where the rain has nearly flooded the course. And as my sleeper, I will keep an eye out for David Toms, who always plays well in the Atlanta area. The coverage of the TOUR Championship will be carried by our friends at NBC.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What really happened on Feb 12 2007

Illini HQ recently came out with a story on Jamar Smith and how he has been doing since he left the U of I. Included in the article is the the police report with the details of what happened that night. It's pretty crazy. The night begins with a game called power hour where Jamar and Brian Carwell take shots of tequila every minute and it ends with Jamar kicking out a window in the apartment and holding a piece of glass to CJ Jackson's neck.

What is the best case scenario when you start an evening playing a drinking game where you take shots of tequila every minute? I think it's passing out and having your stomach pumped at the hospital.
Of course, if you had Bruce yelling "JAMAR!!! MOTION!!" at you all day, the power hour tequila game might not sound like such a bad idea. At least basketball players at Illinois don't cheat on the ACT (in theory).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pucker, Pucker, Pucker!!!

Michigan State’s stunning fourth quarter choooookkkkkkkkkke against Notre Dame on Saturday is yet another episode in what seems to be a nauseating reoccurring dream for Sparty and the East Lansing faithful.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Psycho T will help you find your dog

Or so the AT&T corporation would have you believe. The commercial shows Tyler Hansbrough helping some girl find her lost dog through the magic of the AT&T network. The highlight is the end when the girl gets her dog back and Tyler sits there with a sheepish "what do I do now" look. Then the camera cuts away right before Hansbrough pounds his chest and screams.
What is AT&T thinking? Don't they know that basketball fans don't like Tyler Hansbourgh. No one watches Hansbourgh travel three times, throw his body into someone and then get a bailout foul call, and is like "I like that, that's good basketball". Has AT&T not heard of Chester Frazier? Plus it would be accurate. Chester would love to help someone find their dog.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Big 12 Update: BHS defeats Central, Danville over West

The Bloomington Raiders knew they had a tough opponent coming to Fred Carlton Field last night. The Maroons had not allowed a point in the last ten quarters of football they had played. They were undefeated and ranked number 9 in Class 5A. Bloomington has already lost at home during the first game of the season to Danville. However if they are to fulfill my prediction of going 8-1 during the regular season, they needed to win against a quality opponent in Champaign Central. The Raiders were juiced and came out to score 40 points in the first half. Bloomington won the game 47-26. Junior Quarterback Tyler Dicken passed for 271 yards before being taken out of the game after the third quarter. The defense was solid as well. Central star tailback, Denzel Stewart, came into the night averaging over 150 yards rushing per game. The Raider defense held Stewart to 29 yards in his first loss of the year. Next week, Bloomington travels to Mattoon to defeat the Green Wave. Danville, our looming threat to claiming the Big 12 title, is at Eisenhower next week. But then the Vikings must play difficult opponents the next three weeks in a row. Their uphill climb begins at home against MacArthur. Then they have to play at Champaign Central and at Normal Community. For the record, the #5 ranked (6A) Vikings are still undefeated after a win at Normal West last night.

Thanks to the Free Keon administrators for continuing to improve the beautiful and representative banner on the top of the page. I love it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lulu makes my wildest dreams come true!

For the past 3.75 years I became more and more frustrated as former Illini Luther Head saw his role with the Houston Rockets continually diminished until, by season four, he was languishing in virtual invisibility at the end of Rick Adelman’s bench.

Then finally, last season Luther was sent to Miami where he was guaranteed minutes (instead of being supplanted by freaking Von Wafer) and looked to be a somewhat important part of Miami’s playoff push. In my heart of hearts I thought it was too good to be true, and it turned out my fears were justified as some sort of cruel cosmic basketball fate saw it fit for Luther to receive a broken hand only 10 games in with his new team.

This blow hurt especially hard on two levels. First, it meant that I had no reason to watch all the televised Heat games that were guaranteed in my Florida home (I mean seriously, how long can anyone watch Chris Quinn without becoming a little bit physically ill)? Secondly, it severely hurt Luther’s chances of sticking with the Heat, or any other team, as he saw yet another chance for exposure torn away.

Although I felt downhearted at the prospects of yet another Lutherless stretch, I had full confidence that by the start of this year’s NBA season he would have latched onto another team in need of a more-than-serviceable three point threat off the Bench. It had always baffled me how underutilized Luther became in his post-rookie years, as his year one numbers were quite good. Even with all these self-assurances, I must admit that when it hit August and Luther was still not on a roster, a quiet fear began to grow that we may be looking at another Illini bound for Europe or Eurasia.

Then suddenly yesterday a story hit that announced Luther would be joining the Indiana Pacers for a one year stint (there is, of course, tons of contract rigmarole that I’ll purposefully ignore in order to sustain my bliss). Now for many readers of this, that might not seem like a big deal as many of you are Bulls fans. Yet for me, this was almost pure ecstasy as the Pacers are the closest thing I have to a “childhood NBA team”. Maybe it was the fact that Indianapolis was closer than Chicago (probably not), or that I liked to root for the underdog (maybe), or that I was visited by the Pacer Cheerleaders when I was in the hospital (absolutely); whatever it was I have always followed and rooted for the Pacers and now have an extra reason to do so.

So as far as I’m concerned, you Bulls fans can keep his Royal Airness, Phil Jackson and Luke Longly because I’ll gladly cherish Miller, Smits, Larry Legend and Lulu.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So What?

In case haven't been watching the Cubs recently (really why would you? Lou just watches Matlock in the clubhouse and waits for the Cubs to buy out the rest of his contract), there has been a tragic development. Sam "who needs 'roids when you're pumpin' insulin" Fuld went down for the rest of the season with an strained thumb that he hurt making yet another amazing catch.
This prompted the Cubs to call up 40-year old veteran outfielder So Taguchi. No one was more surprised than So. According a Chicago Tribune article, So disregarded the calls at first because he didn't know who would be calling him from Chicago.
"I don't have any friends in Chicago, so I thought it was a wrong number," he said. "So I just ignored it for maybe two hours."
His agent was able to track him down and announce the happy news to him.
"Cubs? Why now?" was his elated response.
Really though, he's over the moon to have the privilege to play next to THE Milton Bradley.
The Cubs were able to convince So to stop playing DDR and watching anime cartoons and come to Chicago to help the Cubs play out the string.
In other meaningless late season signing news, the Brewers picked up former Cub Corey Patterson. Good for him. This year Corey is 2-23 in the majors, good for a .087 batting average.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NFL Week 1 Thoughts

Kyle Orton is Beardless and Lucky

Orton, sans beard, managed to pick up a win on Sunday using the same guile, grit, and dumb luck that allowed him to post a 10-5 record as a rookie for the Bears despite never throwing an accurate pass for over 10 yards. Kyle got the game winning touchdown pass throwing into triple coverage, having the ball tipped up, and falling into the hands of Brandon Stokley for a 87 yard touchdown. After the game Kyle said that he would rather be drunk than good - I mean rather be lucky than good, my mistake. The win improves Orton's career record as a starter to 22-12. I am not going to post the career record of a certain Jay C. Not gonna do it. It wouldn't be fair. 17-21.

Frequent Mistake Jake

Jake Delhomme is, well, exactly who we thought he was. Against the Eagles on Sunday, Jake completed 7 passes to his teammates, and 4 to the Eagles secondary. He also fumbled once. In Delhomo's last start in the playoffs against Arizona he threw 5 picks and fumbled once. So in his last two starts he has 11 turnovers. It makes me feel better to see him fail, I never really got over the 2005 playoff game against the Bears where he ran around yelling like an idiot.

Farve can successfully hand the ball off

Farvellous managed to get his first win despite only throwing for 110 yards. Are you telling me Tavaris Jackson couldn't stand back there and hand the ball of to A-Pete all game and throw for 110 yards? It makes me sick watching Farve celebrate with his teammates pretending like he's a great teammate. He even came out with a Sears commercial kind of poking fun at himself. You may have everyone else fooled Brett, but I'm on to you.

Brian Urlacher now has more free time to make poor personal decisions.

I wonder if Paris Hilton is free these days. The Bears just need to get Hunter Hillenmeyer a #54 jersey, a haircut, and a barbwire tattoo. That and a lot of skill and athleticism and no one would notice the difference.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lambeau lamentations

The Bears lost a heartbreaker after failing to find the end zone with 1st-and-10 under 5:00 in the 4th quarter. A field goal gave the Bears a shaky 15-13 lead, putting the pressure on their captain-less defense to keep the Packers out of field goal range. They did, but at the expense of a 50-yard TD toss to Greg Jennings on 3rd-and-1. Still, with over a minute to go, the Bears had time for a scoring drive, I thought. I reasoned this was preferable to Mason Crosby lining up a 20-yard field goal chip with 0:04 on the clock, ending the game without a rebuttal from Jay Cutler. So the Bears got the ball back. And Cutler threw his fourth pick of the game.

Some thoughts:

Earl Bennett and Cutler are friends. Bennett, with seven receptions, is clearly Cutler's favorite target, even when he has three or four guys around him. Why is this? Hester, with four catches and a TD, may have had one of the best games I've seen from him at receiver. (Granted, it's often hard to watch a receiver's routes when the camera doesn't point to him, so I don't know how open Hester was throughout the game. I do know, however, there were certainly times when Bennett was not.) Media-proclaimed preseason favorite target Greg Olsen finished with one catch. Desmond Clark had one also, plus a should-have-caught-it in the end zone. Last year's leading receiver, Matt Forte, had zero catches.

Forte can't hit holes that aren't there. Openings at the line of scrimmage were rare. Forte managed only 55 yards on 25 carries, which were more touches than it looked like live. It's hard to say how much of this was the offensive line's ineptitude. You have to give credit to the Packers' front seven or eight. The 3-4 and blitz packages really messed with the Kreutz's line (and Culter's mind). It seemed Forte was met in the backfield on more than half his carries. This doesn't bode well if you want him to gain positive yards. Forte's inability to pound home a potential touchdown late in the fourth was the nail in the coffin before the other nail in the coffin.

Injuries hurt the team. No Charles Tillman and no Zachary Bowman means one-time Pro Bowler (and Cory Bradford Regressive Syndrome candidate) Nathan Vasher lines up across from Greg Jennings on a crucial 3rd-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. Isolation is not Vasher's forte. Jennings would have been two strides ahead even if Vasher didn't trip on the sod.

Brian Urlacher is important after all. I spent the offseason saying some pretty unkind things about Urlacher (in speech, not hypertext), but his presence is admittedly crucial and the prospect of him missing the rest of the year is terrifying. His absence in the 2nd half was apparent. Ryan Grant found much more room to run up the middle. I hear Lovie wants Derrick Brooks to join the team. Maybe Brooks still has Trent Dilfer's number in his phone.

Long snappers shouldn't be talked about so much. Patrick Mannelly's quick-snap audible was one of the most bizarre plays I've seen this season. I have to assume, like Collinsworth concluded, Mannelly went rogue when he thought he saw rookie Clay Matthews still on the field. My question: does it take any less time to snap the ball to Garrett Wolfe than it does to snap it back to Brad Maynard? The play starts at the snap, not the catch, right? So if you really think you see what you see, why not just snap with the original play in mind and get a punt off instead of making Wolfe try to break is single-carry rushing record on 4th-and-11 if your wrong? Maybe Maynard was paying less attention than Wolfe was.

Welcome back Wally. It's great to see Adewale Ogunleye pressuring the quarterback again. He sacked Aaron Rodgers twice in the first half. Maybe Rod Marinelli is on to something. Or maybe we should make this the last year of the contracts for Alex Brown and Mark Anderson, too.

When did we hire Gary Crowton back? We must have run the wideout screen (and non-screen) at least eight times. The thing is, when Cutler threw it on the number, rather than above the receiver's head, we got some yardage out of it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BHS to Tackle Another Big 12 Championship

Traditional Big 12 powerhouse, Bloomington High School, started off the year with a bust, a two point loss to D-Vegas. The Vikings made a field goal on their second attempt with no time remaining after BHS got called on roughing the kicker as Danville missed the first 30-yard try. Who would have thought that the Vikings could win at Fred Carlton Field? The Raiders stormed back last week, though, with a huge win over Intercity rival, Normal Community at Hancock Stadium. As usual, it was a close and well-played football game. Last night, Bloomington manhandled the Urbana Tigers. The Raiders allowed only 13 yards in the first half. The schedule looks pretty cupcake for BHS. They host Centennial, Central, and MacArthur while traveling to Mattoon, West, and Eisenhower. The final game of the year against Decatur MacArthur should be a great one. I predict Bloomington will be making their 23rd straight appearance in the playoffs and win their 25th Big 12 Championship. As long as the Raiders do not allow West to surprise them again or lose to Champaign Central, they will take that final game to finish up the season 8-1.

Danville, Central, and MacArthur all have chances to prove my prediction incorrect. Danville's decisive win over Centennial last night was very impressive. And MacArthur has easily defeated all their opponents thus far. However, the Royal Donut victory parties will weigh the Vikings down, and the speed that creates all those rushing touchdowns will cease. By season's end the #5 state ranking for Danville will flip-flop with the #10 state ranking for Bloomington.

Timmy Heisman

If you don't have Tim Tebow Fever yet, it's time to hop on the bandwagon. Tebow has been so awesome he has inspired his own line of Chuck Norris-esque jokes. My personal fav, Tim Tebow won the Tour de France on a unicycle to prove to Lance Armstrong it wasn't a big deal. He thinks yellow wristbands are gay. In case you are not convinced, I will give you the top 5 reasons to love Tebow.

5. Tim Tebow's career record at Florida is 37-6, with 2 National Championships, looking for a third this season. He wins a lot.

4. In high school he played an entire half with a broken leg. In 2007 he played with a broken non-throwing hand and a bruised shoulder. You can't teach toughness, Ron Zook will vouch for that.

3. Tim Tebow receives Heisman awards, while giving ladies the heisman. He is a self-proclaimed virgin saving himself for marriage. What a beast. Anything else I write here will only sound gay.

2. Tebow has set so many touchdown records. He broke Emmitt Smith's Florida record for career rushing touchdowns his junior year. As a quarterback. Tebow's 51 touchdowns in 2007 were more than 87 D-1 teams scored all year.

1. Tim Tebow loves you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Great Googly Moogly!

The Bears went ahead and made their first miscue of the 2009 season when they placed the big C five yards off. How high do you have to be to screw that up? It goes in the middle of the field.

Maybe they were making Devin Hester earn his salary doing non-football related activities. As Terrelle Pryor would say, no one's perfect. Some people kill people, some people are grossly inept at their jobs.
The situation is reminiscent of the classic Snickers commercial, where the groundskeeper misspells Chiefs. One of the best commercials of all time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Next Mika Vick

During Ohio State's 31-27 win over Navy last Saturday, quarterback Terrelle Pryor decided to put "Mika Vick" on his eye black. It's not quite as funny as it sounds, apparently Pryor's sister's name is Mika and he wanted to salute her alongside his favorite player Mike Vick. So shame on you who jumped to the conclusion that Terrelle couldn't read and was misspelling a name, although that is the exact mistake his parents made when they named him "Terrelle".

After the game Pryor displayed more of the razor-sharp intellect that allowed him to enroll at The Ohio State.
"Not everybody is the perfect person in the world," Pryor said of Vick. "Everyone does -- kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance."
Right Terrelle, maybe you should stop hanging out with Maurice Clarett.
My main issue with it is that Vick is a back-up quarterback, and was not that good even before he got arrested. Maybe if Pryor puts the name of a good quarterback on his eye black they won't lose by 40 points to USC. I expect to see "Draw Brees" under his eyes on Saturday. Draw is the name of another of Terrelle's sisters. I swear.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This Week in Golf

BMW Championship - The PGA Tour comes to Illinois again for the BMW Championship (formerly known as the Western Open). This is the third leg of four in the PGA Tour Playoffs. My pick to win last week came through for me. University of Illinois alum, Steve Stricker, pulled off an impressive win in Boston on Monday, and he is now the Playoff points leader coming into Chicago. Tiger Woods is close behind, and he will be playing this week. Tiger has won this event four times in the past, and he has lots more positive history in the Chicago area to feed on. After his phenomenal final round of 63 only two days ago, he is definitely my pick to win at Cog Hill this week. Cog Hill's Dubsdread course has undergone some renovations that most critics have said certainly improved the look and playability of the course. Most of the work I heard of had to do with bunkering and some green alterations. I expect the course to be pretty much the same Cog Hill we are used to, though. After the BMW Championship, the Playoffs give the top 30 on the points list one needed week of rejuvenation before competing for the FedEx Cup and $10,000,000 grand prize at East Lake in the TOUR Championship. According to the PGA Tour, any player in the top five on the points list at the end of this week will be able to claim the grand prize with a win at East Lake. As stated earlier, Woods is my pick to win this week, and my sleeper prediction goes to 1985 Western Open champion, Scott Verplank. Scotty birdied the last four holes on Monday to finish one stroke behind Stricker. He always has a steady putter, and he should have a little fire in his belly. Not only did he just finish runner-up after a fantastic performance, he also was snubbed a President's Cup pick, according to some analysts' critiques. I expect Verplank to come out this week and prove that Captain Couples should have included the Oklahoman on his team. Johnny Miller and crew will bring the coverage from Cog Hill.

President's Cup - The President's Cup will be played at Harding Park in San Francisco in early October. However, Captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman selected their two wild cards this past Tuesday. Captain Couples chose U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan to round out the American team, and Captain Norman, surprisingly, picked Japanese teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa and fellow Australian Adam Scott for the International team. The 17-year-old Ishikawa has struggled in his appearances in the U.S. this year, but he did win a Japanese Tour event just days before being selected. He also will bring in a larger international contingent of fans and media attention. Scott has been a strong player for a few years now. He even was ranked as the number 3 player in the world only a year ago. However, the Hawaii Open runner-up has not finished better than T36 in his last 15 events, including 10 cuts in the same time span. Few in the golfing world are unaware of Scott's struggles, which makes this pick unusual. The captain's picks are typically reserved for each team to add either an inspiring veteran with patriotic fire or a guy who has been playing lights out for the past few weeks. Scott does not fit either description. The completion of the teams gets me excited about team play at a classic course coming soon.

Jordan: The One and Only

MJ is being inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame later this week, and ESPN is counting down his top 23 moments. I could watch those videos all day. He was simply the perfect athlete for me growing up. Jordan could do no wrong.

No athlete has ever had a larger impact on the world around him. Jordan changed so many things in basketball, and in business. In 1998, Fortune Magazine called it the "Jordan Effect" and estimated that since he came into the league in 1984, Michael has generated $10 billion.

In business terms, he took a start-up company in Nike in 1984 and helped them become the premier shoe company. Fortune estimates that Jordan earned Nike $5.2 billion from 1984-1998. Jordan was a huge part of starting a basketball shoe culture, where shoes were not just a means to play basketball, but a status symbol. He has been the top athlete for a variety of companies, Hanes, Gatorade, McDonald's, Wheaties, etc. and continues to appear in ads even today, 7 years after he retired for the final time.

He has enjoyed unparalleled success in basketball and changed the game forever. Jordan's style has effected all of today's generation of players. This Nike commercial illustrates the point. MJ was the first guy to wear the baggy shorts. Jordan had so many dunks and highlight plays that are iconic, and are well known to any sports fan. He was The Man in the NBA for over a decade. In 13 seasons with the Bulls he won 6 championships and averaged 54 wins a season.
Jordan was basketball during the 90's. He was the reason people watched games. His rookie year, Bulls ticket sales increased 87% and their ticket revenue was $4 million. 5 years later in 1989, the Bulls were consistently sold-out and their ticket revenue increased to $23 million. When Jordan played, the world watched. For the Championship TV ratings since 1976, Jordan finals averaged a 16.7 rating, non-Jordan finals average a 11.1 rating (yeah, I did some really nerdy research). The bottom line is that Jordan dominated basketball, and the world of sports, more than anybody else ever has, and ever will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I hope he took notes

Deron Williams was back in Champaign recently for a charity event. Making the rounds, he stopped by the Ubben, traded the tie for some shorts and played ball with the college kids. I wasn't there, but I did read at least one story by Paul Klee.

Klee says Deron and Demetri McCamey got into some “good-natured trash talk.” Deron says McCamey was doing the talking, and he was playing his game.

What could McCamey possibly say? Is he talking bad about AK47 and Kyle Korver? Utah in general? Does he go so far as to say Chris Paul has put an end to the best young point guard in the NBA debate? Does Deron even need to respond?

I can see it now, Deron leisurely dribbling near the top of the key, panning his eyes across baseline, looking for Alex Legion to make a cut (or whatever). McCamey says something Gene Pingatore use to yell at practice, making a swipe with his right hand. In one big, seemingly slow, but killer motion, Deron crosses from left to right, bringing the ball back a bit before breaking for the basket to lay it in.

“Excuse me, sir, I understand you've never made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament, is that true?” (I'm pretty sure Deron talks like this.)

Klee says Deron says he thinks McCamey will be a “great point guard for this team.” I hope he's not just being nice, because that's exactly what we need. A leader. A point guard. A playmaker. Maybe McCamey can be that. He was expected to be last year. But in reality, it was always Chester Frazier's team. That was never more clear than at the end of the season, as the Illini dropped back-to-back games to close out the regular season and scuffled in a loss to Western Kentucky in the NCAAs with Frazier on the sideline.

McCamey is the team's top returning scorer, averaging 11.5 ppg on about 10 field goal attempts (half of those from behind the arc) and two trips to line a game in 2008-09. With Trent Meacham and Frazier gone, those attempts will likely go up.

When Deron was a sophomore he was good, but not great. We still thought Dee was our best guard. Junior year is where Deron made his money. He elevated his game. He made better decisions, took better shots. Hopefully McCamey can make similar strides.

With the backcourt up in the air (will Legion step up? are either freshmen D.J. Richardson or Brandon Paul ready?) McCamey's leadership and maturity are all the more important. Can he be the guy on this team? Can he lead us back to the NCAAs? Into the second weekend? Can he make sure we don't lose to Penn State? Twice? I guess we'll see.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dear Loren Tate, Cheer Up!!!!!

Leave it to Illini Nation’s dastardly duke of depression to write one of the gloomiest sport’s articles I’ve read, literally hours before the Illinois football opener.

While most journalists across the country are penning articles dealing with the excitement, pageantry and anticipation concerning the start of the college football season, Loren Tate decides to crush everyone spirits by striking a pessimistic tone that only he could manufacture.

Perhaps I’m going a bit overboard, but, seriously, who waits for the eve of their school’s season kickoff to publish an article whose sole purpose is to point out something wrong with every Big Ten program?! Maybe you put out something of this tone in mid-summer, but certainly not during the climactic preseason period -- which is the week before the season opener.

Sorry Loren, but I’d rather not be reminded that Indiana and Northwestern can’t sell tickets, more than half the conference has some sort of losing streak, cheating is everywhere, the economy is collapsing, Dick Rod is still a head coach, and East Lansing no longer has any residents.

So please, next time you get one of these ideas just say no, take a few meds, and stay away from tall buildings; everyone will be happier.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Farve #4 Everybody's got one

As the NFL season approaches it is always interesting to see what jerseys are selling. Here is the list of the top sellers. A couple of things jump out, Mike Vick at 4. I am not sure what to think. It's kinda awesome, kinda people from Philadelphia are insane. Michael Crabtree, a rookie, who is holding out and has not even signed with the 49ers sneaks in at 20. People in San Fransisco are clearly desperate. 3 Steelers make the list, no surprise. By now, there must be more Brett Farve Jerseys sold that any other athlete ever. It's insane, I believe that at this point Wisconsin and Minnesota are entirely comprised of white people wearing Farve XL and larger jerseys.
I was thinking it would be interesting to find out the list of most unsold jerseys for players. I came up with my own hypothetical list for all of sports.

1. Alfonso Soriano, it seemed like a great idea when he signed for $136 million. It has got to be pretty tough to move the jersey of a guy can't hit and plays the outfield like a 5th grader.

2. Yao Ming, there have got to be a lot of lonely Yao jerseys hangin' out due to his tradition of having a devastating foot injury every year. Plus, who is really inspired by a 7'7 guy who shoots a fallaway hook and grows odd facial hair.

3. Jamar Smith, there were a lot #31 jerseys sitting around Gameday Sports last year. It is a great jersey to sport if you are kickin' it at Fubar though.

4. Plaxico Burress, for obvious reasons. I wonder if he and Eli still talk.

5. Vince Young, everybody in Tennessee is buying Kerry Collins jerseys now. Okay, probably not, but you have to be on the field and playing well to sell jerseys.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The Tour goes to Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Liberty National offered a dramatic final round, and I expect no less this week as the little-understood FedEx Cup Playoffs roll on. Only the top 70 on the points list will advance to Chicago next week. This week, I do not expect Tiger to play his usual game. I have not said that since February when he first came back from an eight-month injury, but after back-to-back disappointments, I think he will either try too hard or be burnt out. My pick for the Deutsche Bank is Illinois graduate Steve Stricker. He has played well lately, and he is a streaky player. I will pick Ernie Els as my sleeper once again. He is continuing to build confidence in his game, and he had a fantastic round on Sunday. NBC will take over the Playoffs from here.

Champions Tour - The seniors will be playing Pebble Beach this week. The tournament benefits The First Tee program. Other than that, I know nothing about this event. It is only a few years old, but if I had status on the senior tour, I would not pass up a chance to play Pebble. That is where I fell in love with the game at the 2000 U.S. Open. I am feeling a win for Bernhard Langer. Check out the spectacular views on The Golf Channel.

2009 Illini Football: Let's Get It On

It's time to get excited about the upcoming Illinois football season, with the kickoff against Missouri on Saturday. I have got 5 reasons that the Illini are going to rebound and have a successful season.
1. Pick up some Juice!
It is Juice's senior year and it is time to prove that he is a premier quarterback. He has shown signs and had good games before, but it is time to put together a consistently great year. He has sweet receivers like Rejus, Florida transfer Jerred Fayson, Jeff Cumberland, and A.J. Jenkins. It's not Kyle Hudson and Jacob Willis anymore, no excuses. If Juice wants to be in the NFL, he needs to have a great year.
2. Martez gets the Paul Pierce stab wound transformation
After Pierce got stabbed in 2000 he lead his team to the Finals in 2002 and eventually won it all in 2008. He upped his game and became a more determined player. I think the same thing will happen to Martez Wilson after being stabbed in January. Maybe it will toughen him up a little. It couldn't hurt. Wilson was named again to the Butkus award preseason list, despite never really playing well for the Illini.
3. Zook will start beating people if the team plays like it did last year
When your head coach benches 315 and squats 500, you have a pretty good reason to fear him. I have the feeling that if the season starts going downhill, he might just make an example of the back-up punter or something to jump-start the team.
4. Athletes Galore
The Illini have assembled a team that is so much more athletic and physically impressive than any U of I team in recent memory. You have Rejus Benn, who is essentially a NFL wideout. Josh Brent, who is 330 pounds and extremely athletic and no longer in prison for the DUI. Juice, who is physically a perfect quarterback. Martez Wilson, at 6'4 245 pounds and one of the fastest players on the team. Great athletes all over the field, almost like a team from the SEC.
5. Weak Big-Ten, weak schedule
Penn State and Ohio State will be difficult, but beyond that there isn't much. Missouri will be down, and Illinois State is a W. Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Minnesota, and Northwestern are all very winnable games. And then you have the wild cards of Fresno State and Cincinnati at the end of the year. There is no reason that the Illini shouldn't be 9-3 going to a good bowl game.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

There's no crying in Football

A story came out that the Michigan football program had broken NCAA rules by overworking players in the off-season. This prompted coach Rich Rodriguez to make a fool of himself and hold a press conference where he broke down weeping like Ed Norton in American History X. Clearly the only thing that Rich is guilty of is loving his players too much, that and major rules violations, also not being a good football coach.

Guys don't like to see their girlfriends or their moms cry, and we definitely do not like to see the head coach of our favorite football team crying. We want to see our football coaches yelling that the "Bears are exactly who we thought they were" and screaming their census information "I'm a man, I'm 40". We don't want to see Rich sniffling and telling weepy stories. If I want to see a grown man cry I'll go watch Old Yeller with my dad. It's so sad.

I feel like we see players and coaches crying all the time in interviews these days. The other day Bill Belichick got choked up when Tedy Bruschi retired, T.O. cried when people criticized his quarterback. Brett Farve sobs whenever he has a retirement press conference. It feels so contrived, these people are choosing to cry in public situations in the hopes of manipulating the public. How often did Vince Lombardi or Ted Williams cry in front of the press? I'm guessing never. Lou Gerhig kept a stiff upper lip when he announced that he was retiring due to a crippling disease, and it is one of the most emotionally powerful speeches ever. Today's players and coaches should take a cue from Old Iron Horse Gerhig and man up.
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