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 “football” needed no translation. Mention of “futbol Americano” (or soccer’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 – college and pro – borders on the absurd. In the NCAAs, we saw one of the decade’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 I’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 let’s start in the amateur ranks, where the transgressions of several head coaches have been…well…amateur. Players accused Kansas’ 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 – of all places – an electrical closet.
Sound doctoral advice. No?
Needless to say, all three men are currently on the unemployment line.
And then there’s USC.
A fantasy land for college football since Pete Carroll took over in 2000…until allegations involving recruiting infractions and Reggie Bush reached the surface. Next, headlines alleged running back Joe McKnight’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 “The Coliseum.” 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 “tenure” at Rocky Top, he leaves recruits and Urban Meyer behind for a return to LA.
…and gets replaced at Tennessee by Derek Dooley. Come again?
Meanwhile, in the big boy league, stakes are high. We’re a Sunday away from learning the Superbowl matchup.
I can’t wait until Sunday to watch the final installment of a tremendous franchise, titled: Three Men and a Rookie. Starring two of the industry’s all-time greatest, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, an up-and-comer in Drew Brees, and, making his debut, Mark Sanchez – something tells me this chapter could be the best.
Give the rookie credit. He’s playing behind a spectacular defense, led by Deion…I mean, Darrelle Revis, a fantastic rushing attack and one heck of a coach – at the podium, at least. But as improbable as it seemed, Rex Ryan’s drawn-out post-season schedule – including a Superbowl parade through Times Square – is turning more and more probable each day.
Unfortunately, this week the Jets run into Indy’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 doesn’t really matter where Manning’s throwing the ball – I think he could even find me on a post route – 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 can’t stand no. 4 after embarrassing my Cowboys last weekend, it’s hard not to be impressed with Favre’s four touchdown performance – especially touchdown no. 4 (but I won’t get into that). If Jared Allen and the defensive line replicate last week’s performance, there is no way Brees will elude collapsing pockets – or mullets.
One thing the Saints do have on their side – New Orleans. The only place louder than the Metrodome may be the Superdome, and there’s no doubt the Saints’ passionate fans – who have waited years for this moment – 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 haven’t made this blog.
Clearly, when it comes to making news – good or bad – football of the American variety leads the class. You could argue there’s been too much excitement recently.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Pro Bowl…