BCS Championship Drama Diminished: With number one Notre Dame's win over USC and the two participants in the SEC championship game ranked second and third, a lot of the drama that has traditionally unfolded on this weekend in college football will be avoided. Sure, there are BCS bowl game participants to be determined, but with the exception of a mild surprise if Georgia beats Alabama, nothing that happens this weekend will materially change the national championship picture. The bigger surprises are the teams that aren't playing for their conference championships, including Oregon and Florida, both ranked in the top six in the country. Kansas State now needs to defeat Texas, not as easy a task as it would have been earlier in the season. If they don't, all of a sudden you have Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl if they take care of business against TCU. Who would have predicted that scenario three weeks ago? I didn't think the Wildcats would run the table, but I did feel they would hold onto the Big 12 title. Now I'm not so sure.
MAC Champ Ready to Crash the Party: Earlier this season, I pointed out how well teams from the Mid-American Conference were playing. Now, the winner of tonight's championship game between Kent State and Northern Illinois stand a good chance of getting a bid to a BCS bowl game. If the winner can get into the top 16 in the season-ending BCS rankings and finish ahead of Big East winner Louisville, then they will end up playing one of the big boys, probably Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Kent State is sitting at number 17 and they have the better chance of making it into the top 16 if they win. Northern Illinois has a little more difficult task, as they are down at 21. The most likely scenario would have Kent St. winning and number 16 UCLA losing to Stanford, making an upward move for Kent St. almost a certainty. Behind the Alabama - Georgia game, this may be the most drama of the weekend.
Golf Making News In November? The USGA and R&A made a major rules announcement, creating the most golfing buzz in November since Tiger Woods lost his battle with a fire hydrant three years ago. Apparently in order to keep anchoring a club during a swing from becoming all the rage with clubs ranging from putters to hybrids, the rule-making entities decided to propose a rule that restricts the way clubs can be anchored against the body during a stroke. Within the golf community there has been a lot of conversation about the proposal, both pro and con. The interesting thing about the proposal is that they sidestepped difficulty with equipment manufacturers by not banning the medium and long putters, but instead just stipulating the way the club can be used. I like the rule change. As a lifelong golfer, I have never felt that anchoring a club against the body is within the spirit of the game. So I'll go on record as supporting the new proposal.
Saints Go Marching Out? The five interceptions from Drew Brees may have ended the Saints' playoff hopes. Last night's ugly loss to the Falcons could put New Orleans two games behind for the second wild card spot with four tough games to play. In addition, they've already lost to one of the teams ahead of them, the Washington Redskins. I have to give the Saints credit for bouncing back from losses in their first four games following the off-season turmoil caused by bounty-gate, but there will be no post season for this club.
Spurs Rest Starters, Aggravate Stern: In case you didn't notice (and since it's the NBA in November, there's a good chance you didn't), the San Antonio Spurs rested four of their top five players last night for a game at Miami. Coach Greg Popovich said he wanted to rest the players at the end of a brutal road trip so they could be ready to play a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Commissioner David Stern has indicated that there will be penalties coming the Spurs' way. Really? Since when did the NBA get the right to make lineup decisions? They're mad at San Antonio, one of the most successful franchises of the last fifteen years, but they let other teams such as Washington and Charlotte remain largely noncompetitive for seasons on end. Stern can spin it any way he wants, but there would have been no controversy if the game had been against the Nuggets, the Wizards, the Bobcats, etc. etc. etc. But instead, it was what should have been an early season showcase for the league. The interesting thing is that the Spurs actually led by three points going into the final quarter. Has Stern considered how bad it could have been with a very tired Duncan, Ginobili and Parker on the floor? What if the Spurs had been waxed with that lineup? At least a rested squad made it a game into the final stanza. I think Stern should shut his pie hole and focus on other aspects of the game, particularly the scheduling that precipitated the Spurs' decision and the balance of talent in the league.
Hockey Anyone? Last week, a national mediator was brought in to help resolve the NHL lockout situation. Unfortunately, they were delayed for a day, which was about the time it took to convince the mediator that anyone really cared...Have a good weekend!