Can We Not Go One Week Without An Eye Gouge?

In case you had the TV off last Saturday (or had switched from ESPN to CBS to watch Fedor Emelianenko rock Brett Rogers‘ face off), Clemson took down FSU in a 40-24 slugfest that was much closer than the score indicated.

FSU Clemson Eye Gouge
(It’s like he’s trying to open the helmet like a Christmas present.)

It was also more violent than the score indicated - which seems to be more of a shortcoming of today’s scorekeeping than anything, but we digress - and as the picture would show, someone got a little eye-gougey. It’s Clemson’s Andre Branch, getting a fistful of FSU’s David Spurlock’s face. Video, of course, is after the break.

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Speed Read: An Evening Of Florida Pillow-Fighting

Normally, you don’t see a broadcast booth spend a plurality of a football game raving about the “time of possession” statistic. Then again, normally, you don’t see a team win said battle by a full 30 minutes of game time, which is precisely what Miami did to Indianapolis last night. And then again, you don’t normally see a team control the ball for fewer than 15 minutes of the game… and win anyway.

Pierre Garcon gets two thumbs down
(”Okay, so you just scored the go-ahead touchdown. Allow me to retort: BOOOO THUMBS DOWN TO YOU BOOOOOOO!”)

But lo and behold, thanks to the quickest of quick-strike offenses, the Colts did exactly that; thanks to touchdown drives of 1, 6, and 4 plays, Indianapolis prevailed in Miami, 27-23. Indeed, the Colts’ longest drive of the night was a 9-play drive that led to a 2nd quarter field goal; on the other side of the field, the Fins had exactly one shorter drive: an 8-play, 25-yard drive that ended in a punt. After that, literally every drive of theirs was 9 plays or longer. That’s the longest shortest drive since [ERROR WE ARE NOT ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU CLIENTS ABORT, RETRY, FAIL?].

Ah, but without turnovers, time of possession is effectively meaningless. Read more…

Speed Read: Steelers Salvage Opening Night Win

If anyone wanted to know the difference between college football and the NFL, you just needed to watch the two games last night. (At least the two that anyone cared about - sorry, Florda A&M at Winston-Salem State on ESPNU.) If you like offense, crazy plays and wild comebacks, then the Clemson at Georgia Tech game was for you. But if you prefer low-scoring, hard-hitting football that’s kind of not very exciting until the final five minutes, then the NFL kickoff game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee was for you. (Sorry, is my bias showing?)

Steelers vs Titans

First let’s talk about the Steelers’ 13-10 overtime victory. Plainly put, Pittsburgh had no reason to win this game. They could not run the ball, gaining a whopping 33 yards. (Note to the guy in my fantasy league bragging about “stealing” Rashard Mendenhall: eat it.) And between Jeff Reed almost shanking the game-tying 32-yard field goal into the offensive line’s backsides and Hines Ward fumbling after a reception took him inside the Titans’ five with a minute to go, they were teetering on disaster. Read more…

NCAA Won’t Punish Clemson For Illegal Underwear

Earlier today, the college football media (or at least Spencer Hall) was abuzz, agape, and agog at the news that the Clemson Tigers football team would be forced by the ACC to give up two preseason practices for the strange, strange violation of improper and illegal benefits underpants (padded compression shorts). Everybody seemed confused by the sudden ruling, from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on down.

It was a ruling that came with uncharacteristic speed from the bowels of the NCAA (how’s that Reggie Bush investigation coming?), but when the swift practice sanctions were met with equally swift derisions from all corners of the college football world, the NCAA - cowardly body that it is - retreated this afternoon and reversed the practice penalties. The score now stands: NCAA 129,834 - Common Sense 1.

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Speed Read: Another Violent Day in LA’s Paradise

The baseball day in Los Angeles started on a solemn note Monday when the Dodgers held two moments of silence for fallen comrades in arms during Chavez Ravine’s opening day Monday (before a third passed later in the day).

Dodger Stadium tributes to Nick Adenhart and Harry Kalas

(Pictures from 710 AM ESPN’s Beto Duran)

By the end of the game (an 11-1 pounderation of the San Francisco Giants, who could not devise a hacky time travel solution with the USS Enterprise despite the cross-promotional gold), the area around Dodger Stadium hosted numerous instances of disrespect to human life through stabbings, gun-waving, fights involving dozens of people, and the stray auto accident.

Of course, we would never draw a correlation between the drop in beer prices at Dodger Stadium and violence around the ballpark. After all, fan-on-fan violence is still seemingly less likely than vendor-on-vendor violence or security-on-fan violence. The relative safety of MLB.com’s At Bat iPhone app is looking better all the time, especially now that it works occasionally.

Another object d’mocktastery best safely seen from a distance that works only occasionally: Isiah Thomas. He’s apparently found a reason to leave the house as Florida International University has shown interest in hiring him as their basketball head coach.

Isiah Thomas suit

(”Look! Look up at that paragraph! It says that someone wants me!  Do you see that?”)

FIU has found a certain comfort level with losing (five straight seasons) and could certainly use the limelight brought by a famous coach. Perhaps Isiah’s excited because he thinks he can ply his trade in a different country unfamiliar with his sordid past. (That’s what the “International” stands for, right?)

Another gentleman of leisure being paid by an NBA team to go away but still looking for a new home will also have to find a new place of leisure as well. At least two of Detroit’s casinos (current count: 439280410) have reportedly tossed Allen Iverson out on his ear for “boorish behavior”, including bodyguard-related scuffling, pouting after a loss, and being generally churlish.

Allen Iverson golfs

(There’s always golf to ruin one’s forced retirement)

So kudos to the MGM Casino and the Greektown Casino for standing up to Allen Iverson’s shenanigans after he’s left town and will likely never return unless absolutely forced to by contract. Also, way to leak the information once the coast is clear.

We once spotted AI in the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, taking over a section of  the open-air lounge and bar to play cards in the late afternoon with his buddies. He did not order from the bar; instead, he had the bellboy bring his crew a beat-up old cooler filled with their own special reserve.

We did not get a chance to see his favorite drink, but we bet he could get it for 25% less this season at Dodger Stadium. Better bring the bodyguards to carry the overflow.

And now our riot police-approved hail of rubber bullets reinforced by the near-certainty there are relatively few industries interested in “boy whisperers”

Which team is the best in all baseball after one week?

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Economic Update: Price Of Pizza Is Apparently Up

Whoopee! The stock market exploded up today, but it appears that Clemson football recruit Kenneth Page hasn’t plowed back into the equities. (Or perhaps evidence that the price of P’zones has risen dramatically?)

Kenneth Page Clemson Recruit Big Stack Of Money

Either that or apparently the uptick rule reinstatement news hasn’t reached rural South Carolina.

New Dunk-O-Meter Measures Throwdown Power

Think dunking hasn’t already ruined completely taken over high school, college and pro hoops? Well then you haven’t heard the news out of Clemson, where the college kids there have developed a device that not only measures the intensity of dunks, but also displays the results to fans in real time.

Clemson Dunk Meter

FIRST CUTS and ENGADGET point us to the website Physorg.com website, which breaks down the breakthrough:

The device uses a combination of two accelerometers, which measure acceleration, and the principles of basic physics to allow students to calculate within 15 seconds of the dunk how much energy was imparted to the basketball goal. Measurements appear on the video board almost immediately.

Clemson Dunk-O-Meter

After watching those stupid, fake crowd noise meters at various sports venues over the years, I’m a little skeptical of stuff like this. Read more…

Recession Furloughs Cost ASU’s Erickson $20,800

Across the country, companies from across all industries are forcing employees to take unpaid furloughs to try and bridge gaps in their fiscal budget. Well, colleges are no exception, and at some pretty big schools like Arizona State, Clemson and Maryland, senior employees like head coaches are being hit in the wallet worse than nearly anyone else. According to this story in USA TODAY, Sun Devils football coach Dennis Erickson will lose at least $20,800 of his $450,000 annual salary for the 10-12 day period he’s going to be forced to take off.

dennis erickson pitchfork

(You wanna know what I think of the furlough program!?!)

In the big scheme of things, $21G is hardly a huge deal for Erickson, who gets additional compensation from performance bonuses and lucrative sponsorship tie-ins. Still, $21G is $21G, and it’s pretty hard to believe that he’s cool with just writing off the cash.

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Speed Read: LeBron’s Turn To Shred The Knicks

You have to give Mike D’Antoni credit for trying something innovative, even if it didn’t work out. For the second straight game, the New York Knicks rolled out their “Box and Zero” defense, which essentially challenges the other team’s best player to beat them by refusing to cover him under any circumstances. But just like against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night, somehow it didn’t work out against the Cavaliers either.

LeBron James vs Knicks

Actually, I’m not sure what defense D’Antoni had his team running the last two games, but “none” comes to mind: a game after giving up 61 points to Bryant, the Knicks did the impossible: made another superstar have an even more incredible performance, as LeBron James scored 52 points in the Cavaliers’ 107-102 victory and became the first NBA player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to score 50+ points as part of a triple-double.

LeBron James vs Knicks

James also joined Michael Jordan as the only players to have multiple 50 points games in the new Madison Square Garden. Any time you’re mentioned in the same breath as Kareem and Jordan, you are doing something right. And did I mention that this was the tail end of a back-to-back? And that the Cavaliers were without three of their players due to injury and illness?

And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get any easier for the Knicks. Their next opponent to come into the Garden? The Boston Celtics on Friday night. I can’t imagine what Kevin Garnett could possibly do to upstage Kobe and LeBron - perhaps pick Nate Robinson up and slam him through the basket while clutching the ball?

Raiders running back Justin Fargas wasn’t breaking any records last night, unless it was “Stupidest Appearance in a Hip-Hop Video.” Because if you are an NFL player, and you know the league is on the warpath about its image and substance abuse, I would think that appearing in a video with someone called “Yukman” as he smokes a blunt that would make Cheech & Chong quiver in their tie-dyes isn’t such a great idea.

But PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that’s exactly what Fargas did. And honestly, are we shocked by this? Not that an NFL player would be so brazen about assoicating with potheads, but that it would be Fargas. I mean, his dad was Huggy Bear, for crying out loud.  Just look at his dad:

Antonio Fargas

Being shocked that his son is involved with marijuana is like being shocked that one of Bob Marley’s kids has a taste for the ganja. The video is up at WORLD STAR HIP HOP: go grab some Fritos and see it yourself.

While you pick the seeds out of your buds, here’s some more sports wackness from last night:

What was the single greatest performance at the new Madison Square Garden?

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Speed Read: Playoffs Ruin The Regular Season?

One of the arguments I’ve heard over and over about keeping the current BCS system in college football is that a playoff would make the regular season irrelevant. Why get fired up about USC losing to Oregon State if they are still going to make it into the playoffs? The traditionalists, conference heads and Beano Cook all agree that college football already has a playoff called the regular season, and a postseason playoff would only tarnish it and make it unimportant.

Michigan State players react to Northwestern loss

Allow me to offer a counter argument based on last night’s college basketball results. Go tell the Northwestern basketball fans (and yes, they do exist) that the regular season doesn’t matter because it’s all about March Madness. In what might be the greatest day in Northwestern basketball history (and possibly the only great day in Northwestern basketball history), the Wildcats beat No. 7 Michigan State 70-63, their first win at East Lansing since 1984.

Or, go ask Virginia Tech fans if they are excited about knocking off No. 1 Wake Forest 78-71, handing the Demon Deacons their first loss of the season (that is if you can get them off the court.) Or Clemson fans how they feel about their team extending their record at North Carolina to 0-54 after getting shellacked 94-70 by the Tar Heels in a match-up of Top Ten teams.

But clearly, nobody cares about college basketball until March, which is why ESPN has about 500 games on a night across their vast network of channels. Seriously, this logic is as flawed as the BCS system itself - college basketball is thriving because of March Madness, not in spite of it, and nights like last night serve as a pretty stark reminder why.

The NBA also has a playoff at the end of the regular season, and people seem to be watching that as well (at least the final three minutes or so of games). And it was a pretty fun night there, too, if not as upset-filled. For example, the Lakers beating the Clippers 108-97? Not a surprise.

Andrew Bynum

But Andrew Bynum going off for 42 points and 15 rebounds? Big surprise. The Lakers are already among the league’s elite teams. If they get anything resembling that kind of production from Bynum on a regular basis, it’s a scary proposition for the rest of the NBA.

Here’s the other sports news you missed last night as you were still stuck in traffic trying to get back from the Presidential Inauguration:

  • With all the great basketball finishes last night, the best one was certainly in the SMU vs. Marshall game, where Markel Humphrey made a 75-foot shot as time expired to give the Thundering Herd a 53-50 victory. WSAZ-TV has the story and video.
  • Marshall player Markel Humphrey

  • You might remember the Greek basketball team Olympiakos when they lured Josh Childress from the Hawks and made a big money offer to Kobe Bryant. Now NEWSDAY is saying that they have contacted the Knicks about getting Stephon Marbury out of his contract and over to their team. I wonder if they buy cheap sneakers in Athens, too.
  • Rod Marinelli isn’t bitter at the Detroit media. No, not at all. MLIVE.COM says the new defensive line coach for the Bears greeted some male Detroit writers who approached him at the Senior Bowl with a curt “Hello, Ladies” before ignoring them. Needless to say, a women’s sports group has already squeezed an apology out of him. Hey, he might not like the Detroit media, but at least he didn’t steal their luggage.
  • Ever see the scores of one of those ridiculous high school basketball blowouts and wonder what it feels like to be unceremoniously thrashed? The DALLAS MORNING NEWS talks to the players on the Dallas Academy’s girls basketball team after their 100-0 loss on Tuesday to find out.
  • OK, I understand that Stanford might be having budget woes, as INSIDE BAY AREA reports. But they have a squash team? What’s next, racquetball? Kickball?
  • I imagine being a ball boy is a rough job - physically demanding, pressure-filled, and having to deal with your friends’ jokes about your job title. So what you probably don’t need is to take a forehand to the head, like STUFF NEW ZEALAND says this poor kid did at the Australian Open:
  • After getting ripped by Troy Aikman, who said that he didn’t “fully grasp what being the Cowboys quarterback is all about,” Tony Romo tells the DALLAS MORNING NEWS that he has vowed to change his leadership style in 2009. The first step: personally delivering a Singapore-style caning to anyone who speaks to Ed Werder.
  • With Charles Barkley having exited the broadcast booth (temporarily or permanently), it’s fallen on Chris Webber and Gary Payton to pick up the slack of slightly insane basketball analysts, and they are doing a fair job of it. NESW SPORTS has video of them slamming Nene for getting married over the All-Star break, which devolves into suggesting that Dwight Howard dunk over him and his bride. Good stuff.
  • In yet another example of the failing economy intruding into the protective bubble we call sports, the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER reports that the Browns have laid off 18 employees, including their Director of Media Relations. Perhaps Rod Marinelli could handle a second job?
  • A high school basketball coach in Philadelphia tells the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS that he doesn’t blame his player who sucker punched him in the back of the head following a close loss, but feels for him. If only my old boss was so forgiving after I kneed him in the groin after he cost us the Putnam Electronics deal.

What was last night’s most shocking college basketball upset?

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