So I watching a recent episode of Friday Night Lights (shame on you if you’ve never seen it) and viewed a scene in which the wily Buddy Garrity talked his way into announcing East Dillon football games on an exclusively Spanish-speaking radio station. The owner of the station hardly understood a word. But â€śfootballâ€ť needed no translation. Mention of â€śfutbol Americanoâ€ť (or soccerâ€™s ugly namesake of a cousin) upset the station owner as he threw his hands in disgust and turned away.
Apparently, this man’s been sleeping under a rock.
What has transpired in football circles recently â€“ college and pro â€“ borders on the absurd. In the NCAAs, we saw one of the decadeâ€™s greatest fly north to the NFL, another weasel his way west and insensitive, humiliating and criminal behavior including physical abuse and locking people in closets, allegedly. And Iâ€™m just talking about head coaches!
In the NFL, fortunately, the excitement has taken place between the goal posts. The playoffs have offered great entertainment: teams combining for 96 points, defensive linemen with a passion for spearing things, and Rex Ryan.
But letâ€™s start in the amateur ranks, where the transgressions of several head coaches have beenâ€¦wellâ€¦amateur. Players accused Kansasâ€™ Mark Mangino for making disparaging and humiliating remarks on the field. Down at South Florida, school officials concluded a report claiming Jim Leavitt grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face and lied about it, was true. And at Texas Tech, receiver Craig James said that, after complaining about a possible concussion, Mike Leach forced him in â€“ of all places â€“ an electrical closet.
Sound doctoral advice. No?
Needless to say, all three men are currently on the unemployment line.
And then thereâ€™s USC.
A fantasy land for college football since Pete Carroll took over in 2000â€¦until allegations involving recruiting infractions and Reggie Bush reached the surface. Next, headlines alleged running back Joe McKnightâ€™s girlfriend received a vehicle as a gift. And just like that, Pete Carroll had had enough. Shortly after a disappointing 9-4 season, the long-sought after coach was wooed back to the NFL by the Seattle Seahawks. Must have been the weather.
But the drama was only beginning at â€śThe Coliseum.â€ť USC: a soap-opera for men.
The cliffhanger this time? Hiring Lane Kiffin. Yes, that Lane Kiffin. The same wunderkind fired after one season with the Oakland Raiders. The same loud-mouthed, baby-faced nuisance while at Tennessee. And now, just one year into his â€śtenureâ€ť at Rocky Top, he leaves recruits and Urban Meyer behind for a return to LA.
â€¦and gets replaced at Tennessee by Derek Dooley. Come again?
Meanwhile, in the big boy league, stakes are high. Weâ€™re a Sunday away from learning the Superbowl matchup.
Vikings or Saints? Colts or Jets?
I canâ€™t wait until Sunday to watch the final installment of a tremendous franchise, titled: Three Men and a Rookie. Starring two of the industryâ€™s all-time greatest, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, an up-and-comer in Drew Brees, and, making his debut, Mark Sanchez â€“ something tells me this chapter could be the best.
Give the rookie credit. Heâ€™s playing behind a spectacular defense, led by Deionâ€¦I mean, Darrelle Revis, a fantastic rushing attack and one heck of a coach â€“ at the podium, at least. But as improbable as it seemed, Rex Ryanâ€™s drawn-out post-season schedule â€“ including a Superbowl parade through Times Square â€“ is turning more and more probable each day.
Unfortunately, this week the Jets run into Indyâ€™s relentless pass rush, led by Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and Manning, the human audible. The Colts broke protocol last week and won a playoff game after resting their starters to end the season. It doesnâ€™t really matter where Manningâ€™s throwing the ball â€“ I think he could even find me on a post route â€“ but the veterans (Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark) and the newbies (Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie) are getting the job done.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, some things never change. As much as I canâ€™t stand no. 4 after embarrassing my Cowboys last weekend, itâ€™s hard not to be impressed with Favreâ€™s four touchdown performance â€“ especially touchdown no. 4 (but I wonâ€™t get into that). If Jared Allen and the defensive line replicate last weekâ€™s performance, there is no way Brees will elude collapsing pockets â€“ or mullets.
One thing the Saints do have on their side â€“ New Orleans. The only place louder than the Metrodome may be the Superdome, and thereâ€™s no doubt the Saints’ passionate fans – who have waited years for this moment â€“ will let Minnesota hear it.
My prediction? Colts 20, Jets 10. Saints 27, Vikings 24.
And for you naysayers…Time to pat myself on the back for calling, while 6-3, that the Denver Broncos would finish 8-8. They did. I also predicted the purple-hot Vikings would lose late in the season to the Arizona Cardinals. They did. Fortunately, many of my other predictions havenâ€™t made this blog.
Clearly, when it comes to making news â€“ good or bad â€“ football of the American variety leads the class. You could argue thereâ€™s been too much excitement recently.
And I havenâ€™t even mentioned the Pro Bowlâ€¦