Speed Read: Ball State Still Perfect, Still Screwed

It’s official: Ball State is the real deal. At least, as real as a win against a team called the Chippewas can make a team, but still: going on the road to take out a tough opponent like Central Michigan is tough. But the Cardinals pulled it off, winning 31-24 behind 177 yards rushing from Quale Lewis, keeping them perfect at 11-0 and keeping them on track for…the Motor City Bowl.

Ball State after defeating Central Michigan

Because no matter if the Cardinals win out, they aren’t getting an automatic BCS berth ahead of Utah, Boise State and BYU. And even if, say, Boise State loses a game, and USC wins the PAC-10 outright, freeing up another at-large spot, the choice for a BCS bowl would likely come down to a non-BCS school or Ohio State, and guess who wins that battle? (Unless the Buckeyes get upset by Michigan this weekend. Please stop laughing now.)

So yeah, another reason to hate Ohio State - not only did they ruin the last two BCS Title games, but now they are ruining things for Ball State. I know that Hawaii totally tanked last year against Georgia, but come on - wouldn’t you rather see Ball State in the Sugar Bowl against, say, Alabama than Ohio State?

Speaking of Cardinals…just as Arizona fans were starting to enjoy their team’s prosperity and start thinking about home playoff games, here comes a giant mess down the I-10. In this case, the ARIZONA REPUBLIC reports that it’s disgruntled running back Edgerrin James, who apparently wants to be released but the team won’t let him go. His agent Drew Rosenhaus maintains that he won’t be a distraction.

Edgerrin James

Since this is Drew Rosenhaus saying this, let me translate for you, Cardinals fans: this is going to be a massive, season-crushing distraction. Glad I could help. I still don’t know what team would be interested in a running back who is an old, beat-up 30 but plays about 40. Unless the Detroit Lions are in the market.

Finally, let’s transition from the unethical oiliness of Drew Rosenhaus (when a character based on you is so loathsome and unlikable that they need Jay Mohr to play you, that’s not a good mark on your character) to someone on the moral high ground: golfer J.P. Hayes. You might have heard that he DQed himself from PGA Tour Qualifying School after realizing that he had accidentally used a prototype ball during a round.

That’s pretty impressive moral fiber - it’s better than how I felt when I found someone’s wallet and resisted the urge to use their Shell gas card to by smokes even though I was broke and totally need some.

ESPN.COM’s Jason Sobel speculates that Hayes’ good sportsmanship could bring some good karma, as tournament sponsors will likely be lining up to offer the two-time Tour winner exemptions into their tournaments.

Other sports miscellanea from overnight:

  • KTRK-TV passes along word that those Texas cheerleaders who are accused of using feces to haze the JV squad have been indicted and are facing trial. Looks like something’s really hit the fan for them.
  • Morton Ranch High School cheerleaders

  • Top Rank boxing promoter Todd duBoef rips the ending to the Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar UFC Heavyweight Title fight, telling the LOS ANGELES TIMES that it looked “nothing more than a tough man contest” and that there is “no way it’s safer than boxing.” UFC President Dana White responds by telling the MMA EXPERTS BLOG that Top Rank chief Bob Arum is “95 years old and senile.” Let’s give this round to White, 10-8.
  • How does Mike Mussina plan on celebrating his first-ever 20-win season? Ken Rosenthal of FOX says he’ll do so by retiring.
  • Want tickets to the big Utah vs. BYU game? How about coughing up $1,600 each, asks the DESERET NEWS? I guess when you don’t drink, your have to spend the beer money somewhere.
  • The HOUSTON CHRONICLE says that Donald Driver’s father is in critical condition, two days after he was allegedly beaten by cops arresting him on outstanding traffic warrants. A family spokesman says one of the cops may have gone to school with the Packers’ WR and held a grudge.
  • The U.S. breezes past Guatemala 2-0 to finish up the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying. But as GOAL.COM notes, the big story is that Freddy Adu (is he really still only 19?) scored his first goal for the National Team during the match on a rather impressive free kick:
  • Toronto probably aren’t getting the Bills any time soon - in fact, FOOD COURT LUNCH thinks the NFL is going to London before Toronto. So they’ve provided their Canadian brethren with a handy British lingo guide.
  • What do you have in common with the NFL? You both probably want 49ers coordinator Mike Martz to shut up: CBS SPORTSLINE says he was fined $20,000 by the league for whining about a “quick spot” of the ball on the team’s final play against the Cardinals a few weeks ago.
  • The CHARLESTON CITY PAPER notes that four Charleston Southern football players are charged with allegedly robbing a couple at gunpoint for a whopping $35.
  • The TENNESSEAN reports that eight players from a Knoxville high school football team were arrested in a shoplifting ring that involved $9,000 in stolen merchandise, putting their status for their playoff game this week in doubt. Do you think?

Which rivalry game are you most interested in watching this week?

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Speed Read: Lakers & Hawks(!) Are Still Unbeaten

I guess it’s not that surprising that the Los Angeles Lakers have started off the NBA season undefeated - they return all the pieces from the Western Conference champions, with a healthy Andrew Bynum to boot. But the Atlanta Hawks? Really? In its own way, it’s almost as improbable as when the Houston Rockets went on that 22-game winning streak last season.

Al Horford

Clearly, it has to end at some point, and you would think sooner rather than later. But there the Hawks were last night, going into Chicago and taking out the Bulls 113-108 behind a career-high 27 points and 17 rebounds by Al Horford. And their starting PF Josh Smith isn’t even playing!

Kobe Bryant vs Mavericks

Of course, tonight is a bit of a litmus test, since they are playing the defending champion Boston Celtics. Win that game, and then we’ll really have something. As for the other undefeated team, the Lakers matched the Hawks (who often do you read that?) by beating the Mavericks 106-99. Meanwhile, Phil Jackson is so thrilled that he’s thinking about not coming back next season.

Other live, local and late-breaking sports news:

Which team is most likely to pick up their first loss in the next 7 days?

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Isaac Bruce Expects 49ers to Score 8 TDs a Game

It’s become a normal occurance in the NFL, happening with about the same frequency as a leap year. Once a new player gets a gander at the insanely in-depth offensive playbook of “mad genius” Mike Martz, they suddenly think they’re playing Madden on beginner mode and start talking about how they’ll take the league by storm this year. This year’s a bit different however, seeing as the player who’s drinking the Kool-Aid has already drunk it once before: The ancient Isaac Bruce.

Isaac Bruce

In an interview with the SACRAMENTO BEE, Bruce, signed by the 49ers almost exclusively for his previous knowledge of the epic Martz playbook, says he expects the team to score 56 points a game. Fifty. Six. Points. A. Game.

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NY Times: New Spygate Allegations Against Pats?

The NEW YORK TIMES reports that new allegations of Bill Belichick & the Patriots secretly videotaping opponents have surfaced.

Bill Belichick headset snow

This time, a former New England player (who wishes to remain anonymous) says Belichick was recording other teams’ signals throughout the 2000 preseason - Bill’s first year in Foxboro - and tried to use the information in the season opener against Tampa Bay.

But Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK begs to differ that these brand-new accusations are actually “new”. Read more…

Martz Strikes Gold As New 49ers Offensive Coach

Turns out Mike Martz’s stay on the unemployment line was a short one:

Mike Martz black

The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports that the ex-Rams coach and ex-Lions assistant will be named the new offensive coordinator for the 49ers.

Martz was let go less than a week ago from the confines of Ford Field, but has been tabbed to make his magic at Candlestick 3Com Monster Park. And Mike will have his work cut out for him, as the Niners ranked dead last in points scored and yards gained this season.

But is Martz the right fit for the 49ers?

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Martz Mauled By Lions, Driven Out of Motor City

The DETROIT FREE PRESS passes along news that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been fired by the Lions:

Mike Martz

The ex-Rams head coach was let go on Wednesday after yet another disappointing season. And he wasn’t the only Martz to be marched off from Ford Field, as Mike’s son Tim also lost his job as an offensive assistant.

But Martz seems to be taking the sacking pretty well: “I’ve got no regrets about anything. I have no anger. I’m not upset about anything. I went as far as I could there, and now it’s time for me to move on.”

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