May 05, 2009

Do Us a Favor Favre

The Bret Favre NFL retirement tour enters its fifth year:

Citing an anonymous source "with direct knowledge of the discussions between the two parties," ESPN reported Tuesday that Favre is scheduled to meet with Vikings coach Brad Childress later this week about a possible comeback with Minnesota.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:08 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2008

Apparently, Because the Games Are Too Fast at Three Hours and Fifteen Minutes

ESPN reports that Major League Baseball may put instant replay in place by August of this year.

Pathetic. More gimmicks driven by the gabbmeisters at ESPN. Absolutely pathetic.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2008

He Learned at the Feet of the Master

Patriots' Belichick says Walsh isn't credible

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2008

Mr. Cub

About time:


Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, stands in front of the statue that commemorates his career that was highlighted by two MVP awards, 14 All-Star appearances and a bust in the Hall of Fame.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2008

How 'Bout Those Illini

A 14-18 Illinois team knocks off Purdue to reach the semi-finals of the Big 10 Tournament for the tenth time in eleven tries.

Oh, and did I mention that I had an ESPN Press Pass at the Rose Bowl this year? If you ask nice, maybe I'll tell you about it.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:29 PM | Comments (2)

September 08, 2007

Week 1

No time to do this properly, so here goes...

Dallas Cowboys - 5.5 over the New York Giants for $200
Chicago Bears + 5.5 over the San Diego Chargers for $100
Tennessee Titans +7 over the Jacksonville Jaguars for $100
Philadelphia Eagles - 2.5 over the Green Bay Packers for $200
Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins Over 35 for $100
Pittsburgh Steelers - 4.5 over Cleveland Browns for $100
Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams Over 42.5 for $100

I'll be at the Rams and Panthers game tomorrow. Remember everybody, play money only.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

September 06, 2007

And So It Begins

Colt 41 Saints 10. I lost some respect for Sean Payton tonight. Down by 17 in the fourth quarter, 4th and 1 at the Saints 30. And. He. Punted. The Saints would lose if they go for it and fail, but they will also lose if you give up the ball. Almost a quarter of football left and he gave up. Wow. How demoralizing was that to his team?

So the pot now stands at $9,780. Time to pick it up over the weekend. You can decide whether I'm a better negative indicator over the next few weeks.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2007

You Can Call Me, Al

Russell's uncle says deal with Raiders 'almost done'

Because, he'll be able to contribute so much now this season.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2006

Oskee Wow Wow!

I have to reference this and this for posterity. Well stated, Dr. Kupchella.

Here's a small sample from the second link of Dr. Kupchella's letters to the NCAA:

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that through all of this except for stirring things up you have accomplished nothing. Your stand against Indian nicknames and logos a stand that seem to start out against all references to races and national origin fizzled before it started when you left out Irish, Celtics, Vandals, and a host of other names. Then, for highly convoluted, hypocritical, and in some instances mysterious reasons, you exempted the Aztecs and other American Indian nicknames at the outset and, following that, you exempted the use of Chippewa, the Utes, the Choctaws, the Catawbas, and the Seminoles, leaving the NCAA position on even American Indian nicknames about as solid as room-temperature Jell-O. All of this was, and remains, highly arbitrary and capricious.

Betcha Miles and his buddies aren't accustomed to hearing someone speak truth to their unquestioned power.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2006

And We All Know How Much Mr. Bonds Insists Upon Following the Law

Hey, at least he isn't denying it:

Barry Bonds' lawyers say they will ask a judge today to confiscate all profits from a new book alleging that the Giants slugger used steroids, arguing that the book was based on illegally obtained grand jury transcripts.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006

Not Counting My Chickens Yet...

But how is one of the lowest scoring, most deliberate offenses in the country (Air Force) going to score 42 points in the second half against one of the best defenses in the country (Illinois)? Then again, that assumes Illinois will match its first half output. I never get cocky about rooting for Illinois in the tournament. While the comeback against Arizona gives teams well behind hope forever, I was in the third row across from the Illiinois bench when Illinois lost to Austin Peay.

P.S. Anybody seen Billy Packer lately? Does anyone else get the idea that Billy "the committee should look at performance over the last five years" Packer is frightened by change? What exactly would be the rationale for that, other than guaranteeing Duke a #1 seed in perpetuity?

P.P.S. And I see Chevrolet has joined the Duke/Vitale/ESPN/Amex recruiting team.

DOWNDATE: Well, Air Force got 41, but they needed 51. Now I can watch another Big 10 team (Indiana), a game 5-12 matchup between Texas A&M and Syracuse, or a blowout featuring Duke. Naturally, CBS believes the good people of St. Louis cannot get enough of Duke.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:41 PM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2006

I Was Wrong

I didn't really think I could think less of the NCAA than I already did. Hmm..., guess they didn't like Illinois appealing their politically correct tyranny.

Jeff Sagarin thinks Illinois is the seventh best team in the country. The NCAA selection committee thinks Illinois should travel to San Diego and face two teams from the West for the right to play Connecticut in eleven days. Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini are seeded behind North Carolina and Tennessee. Unbelievable. Having a better record in a better conference apparently means nothing in either case. Nor does beating North Carolina in Chapel Hill, apparently. Oh, and then for good measure, they threw Michigan State in this region as well. That's three of last year's Final Four in this region. Too bad Louisville didn't qualify this year, eh? Thanks guys.

I would worry more, but the talking heads on CBS and ESPN are both putting Connecticut through to the Final Four without question. It does seem strange to hear that Illinois is in the easiest bracket, albeit for someone else. At least Illiinois doesn't have to go through Arizona and Kansas again this year. Sweet.

For good measure the NCAA really screwed Missouri State, where my wife's step-brother teaches. This is the highest rated RPI team in history to not be selected for the tournament since it went to 64 teams. For those of you who haven't known me for a while I have a scar on my forehead somewhat akin to Harry Potter's -- and it's on fire again right now.

Anyone else think it's time for Billy Packer to retire?

Looking forward to next week. Brackets published in the next couple of days.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:29 PM | Comments (3)

February 19, 2006

Olympic Thoughts

Jimmy Roberts seems like a nice enough fellow, but wouldn't every second of his air time fit better on the Oxygen channel, or on panel with Dr. Phil? I like Bob Costas and think he is a first rate choice to host for NBC, but even his interminable attempts to generate controvery are becoming tiresome. Is it just me or does there seem to be more commercial time than actual comeptition time during prime time? When they have to brag about so many minutes of uninterrupted sports coming up, you realize that even they know it is excessive. NBC's coverage, as with all previous Olympic broadcasts is still a little too jingistic for me. Finally, the use of "Torino" instead of "Turin" is just precious, Presumably, NBC will now refer to the Shroud of Torino from this point forward should that stained cloth enter the news once again. Other that that, NBC seems to be doing a good job.

Short track speed skating seems ideal for NBC's desire to generate controversy. You never know who wins until the judges have reviewed the tape after the race. Meanwhile, you can be the unquestioned best in the world at a given distance but still be knocked out through no fault of your own. Or you can be advanced for being fouled, even if you wouldn't have been able to qualify. Finally, as Ohno notes, illegal team skating is rampant but virtually impossible to police. I have doubts that this event can ever be conducted in a fair manner.

Shani Davis is being unfairly maligned. Why should he sacrifice his chance at a medal to support Chad Hendrick's extreme longshot for five medals? Chad seems like a nice enough guy as well, but his attitude towards Shani do him a disservice.

Johny Weir and Bode Miller are incredible athletes. They are also first rate jerks and they are suddenly finding out finding that their popularity is based upon nothing other than pre-games hype and people's desire to attach themselves to a winner. Now that they haven't won, they are being treated more like the antisocial, disrespectful toads they seem to be.

Any bets that Jacobellis' hotdogging will be a standard element of the USOC training film for all athletes moving forward?

As in the summer olympics, I still believe sport should be about attributes like faster, stronger, higher, and farther; primarily because the winners can usually be identified objectively and unambiguously. Events like ice dancing are almost 100% subjective and hence ripe for abuse and nonsense. Mind you, I'm not saying that the cometitors in ice dancing aren't good athletes or that they haven't worked very hard, but hey, why not include "Drawing Binky" as an olympic event?

Is there a total absence of ice and snow in South America? What else would explain the apparent total absence of all the nations of South America in the the winter olympics?

Lest I leave you with the wrong impression, I am greatly enjoying watching the winter olympics in HDTV.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

All Eight of Them?

The world of cycling was divided Tuesday...

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005

And While I'm In a Bitchy Mood

Did you happen to see Terrell Owens and agent, Drew "Knucklehead" Rosenhaus, on ESPN last night. Even the pro-athelete-access-hype-anything talking heads of ESPN seemed a little embarrassed about the whinging of these two. It's one thing to act the petulant little child whining about how $48,000,000 isn't enough. It's entirely another to have your little buddy who's putting you up to this nonsense sitting next to you going, "yeah, yeah, you tell 'em."

Do these two poltroons have a clue how much money they are costing themselves? Terrell is assertively digging his hole and whenever he hits rock, Drew happily hands him a jackhammer and says keep digging! Football is frequently called the ultimate team sport. No one is talented enough to be so callous and disrespectful towards his teammates and coaches and still be a net positive for the team.

Terrell Owens has shown himself to be a malignant cancer on whatever team he plays for. Of course, someone will take him -- the Dolphins even took Ricky Williams back -- but he is now severely damaged goods from here on out, and I'm not talking about his ankle. Have fun on the bench or the waiver wire Terrell.

And Drew, you've overplayed your hand badly. Let's see how successful you are next year in landing new clients as teams basically stop answering your phone calls. What a maroon.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:11 PM | Comments (1)

August 11, 2005

Cosmic Justice

Somebody needs a T.O.:

All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens left Philadelphia Eagles training camp Wednesday after being suspended until next Wednesday by coach Andy Reid.

Trade the ungrateful wretch to ... wait for it ... the San Francisco 49ers.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)

April 23, 2005

Thoughts On the 2005 NFL Draft

Fifteen minutes (actually fifteen minutes plus another minute or two while Paul Tagliabue strolls up and reads his piece of flash paper that could be burned in a flash if the Feds ever showed up and questioned the antitrust violations inherent in the draft, but I digress) is way, way too much time to give these teams to make fairly obvious choices that they've been preparing for since at least February.

And why is it necessary to give the team making the first pick in the draft 15 more minutes? Jeez, what surprise is suddenly going to be discovered that might introduce more faux drama into an event that is sleep inducing for all but the most diehard NFL fans. Chris Berman was babbling incoherently before even this first "on the clock" period was over.

Ron Turner finally got the great back he never could recruit to Illinois in the person of Cedric Benson.

I enjoyed Carnell Williams comment when asked about being drafted after teammate (and backup) Ronnie Brown, "Well, he won the war, but the battle goes on." Man, this kids got a future on SportsCenter. But why did the Bears give all that money to Thomas Jones?

Given the Vikings problems in past drafts, is it possible, than Mike Tice said something like, "get that USC WR Williams on our next pick," and somebody wrote down, "USC WR Williamson"? Trojans and Gamecocks, there's gotta be another joke there somewhere.

Either Mike Williams is the most overhyped player in the draft or the Detroit Lions will have the best WR corps in the league in 2 or 3 years.

The local papers ahve been predicting the St. Louis Rams would take Jamaal Brown all week. Yeah. Too bad that Smith kid was already taken too.

Chris, we love you. Really, we do. So please don't try any more strained shake, rattle and Rolle verbal shenanigans.

Two words: Matt Jones. What a unbelievable physical freak, 6'6", 242 lbs., 4.3 40. Wouldn't you like to see how he could do in the Olympic Decathalon? Why isn't this kid considered a QB candidate at the pro level? He's as fast as Michael Vick, but bigger, and stronger; and I'd bet he probably throws as accurately. On the other hand, if he's going to be a WR/TE/H-Back, what's not to love. With apologies to Kordell STewart, Matt Jones is the true Slash this league has been waiting for. People are hyping smaller, slower WRs in this draft as future stars who will be dominant. I realize there are WR skills and technique to learn and master, but damn. Matt Jones is at least 3 inches taller, 20 lbs heavier, and faster than every other WR in this draft. Maybe Jack Del Rio will have him take snaps inside the 10 to cause defenses to change radically. If anybody could actually pull off an option attack in the NFL, this kid might be the one. If the Jaguars run the option 4 or 5 times a game, it would force every opponent to spend time and energy worrying about it. Then again, I might try to make him into a free safety if it were up to me. He'd be damn scary back there.

I would have loved to see Matt Jones go to Baltimore. Imagine having to face a 2 TE set with Todd Heap on one side and Matt Jones on the other, Derrick Mason split out and Jamal Lewis in the backfield. But the Ravens will be ok with Mark Clayton. It's taken six years, but Brian Billick may finally be able to reveal himself to be the "offensive genius" he's already professed to be. I wonder if the Rams might have taken Matt Jones, except for the fact that Eric Crouch didn't work out for them and their desperate need for a OT.

Green Bay lucked out with Aaron Rodgers falling so far, if he turns out to be any good. Less han a week ago, Rodgers was considered to be the #1 pick.

Joe Gibbs is starting to realize how bare the cupboard is in Washington. Picking yet another Qb in the first round will give the fans something to call in to the sportstalk radio shows during their 2-1/2 hour commute home after the games at Ral-Jon-FedEx-Snydermegalomania field are over.

Anyone else notice how often the WRs are pushing off in the highlights ESPN is showing of them as they are drafted?

And the second longest first round in history (according to Chris Berman) is thankfully over. Otherwise, very few surprises in the first round and only one minor trade if I remember correctly. Hey, no Illinois players were taken. Hmm..., maybe that's why Ron Turner is once again the Offensive Coordinator for the Chicago Bears after an eight-year hiatus in Champaign, where he went from 0-11 in his first year to a Big 10 championship and the Sugar Bowl and than back down to 1-10.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:18 PM | Comments (3)

April 04, 2005

Live-Blogging the NCAA Championship

May be somewhat intermittent....

Earlier pre-game thoughts are in the previous post. Tonight's comments in the extended entry.

Oh jeez, Bruce Weber just gave the "big toe" speech.

I've heard an awful lot about what Ilinois has to do to stop North Carlina, but next to nothing about what North Carolina has to do to stop Illinois. Methinks, Illinois' offense is being sold a little short here.

Illinois wins Pontiac's game changing performance of the tournament. Woo hoo!

Oh goody, it's Billy Packer's and Jim Nantz's 15th straight performance. Almost makes me long for the days of Brent Musberger. Almost.

I hope Illinois remains disciplined enoough to let May have his points when he gets inside position. Avoid the foul trouble and the extra point.

Man, wasn't Roger Powell Jr.'s followup of his own missed three against Louisville something?

Do you have to be from Big 10 country to be annoyed at talking heads feeling sorry for Roy Williams not winning the big one or Mike Krzyzewski having to make due with only four McDonald's all-Americans?

For all the talk about North Carolina being vastly more talented, they are only two point favorites.

The stadium is either all orange or orange and blue. Even if it is a powder blue, I take it as a sign.

Man, is this Hoosiers all over again? That big "H" on ESPN looked a lot like an "I".

And we're off!.

Deron's rattles out and Rashad's rattles in. It's early.

Illinois is trying to get it in low. Keep it up.

Calls are all going to UNC early.


Good defense.

Going into the first TV timeout it looks like a game of runs.

Felton has 2 fouls. Let's see how Roy want to play it. He's staying in.

Deron misses 2 free throws.

Bad defense off the missed free throw.

May charges and gets away with it. Deron has the basket waived off. The calls continue to go North Carolina's way.

Second TV timeout. UNC up 18-17. I like the way it is going to far. Illinois is getting offensive boards, and they are moving the ball well. Carolina better start doing a better job going around screens, if they keep giving Luther open threes he's going to start dropping them. Illinois just has to stop the break, the half court defense is pretty good. Just don't give up the fast easy baskets. And Deron Wiliams better start hitting his free throws.

And Augustine gets the charge and his second foul. Ok, call it both ways.

Man, tickle fouls on one end, and not the other. And the loose balls are luckily going to UNC. Let's hope it all evens out.

So far, Illinois just isn't shooting well. Just get a couple to drop and we have a very different story. The quick three by Deron is not part of the offense.

I despise the "aerial timeout." Sorry, but if you don't establish your feet on the floor after grabbing the ball you do not have control. Oh, the official made the right call, but the rule sucks.

Illinois is outrebounding UNC 13-12. Surprising. Offensive boards 7-2 Illinois.

Uh oh. Nick Smith is in.

The thrid TV timeout. Come on guys, a 22 foot shot by Powell is a bad shot to settle for. What's worse, it looked to me like Luther had a shot and didn't take it. Loss of confidence or a hamstring problem? Illinois should enjoy playing against the zone, we'll see. If Felton gets his third, North Carolina steps down a notch, just like Illinois does when Williams has to sit.

So far, Illinois is playing good half court defense and forcing some loose balls, but not getting them yet. Illinois seems cold more than UNC stopping them.

Nick Smith is showing his deficiencies rather quickly on offense and defense.

Deron does not shoot well from the side, only out front.

And now Deron gets his second foul. Not that big a deal, Deron's been good at playing with fouls.

Bad move on the three on one. Dee should have taken it to the basket.

UNC 25 UI 20.

Ingram nails it.

Three fouls on Manuel now on the play that Bilas diagrammed earlier.

Dee forced a three. Settle down and work the offense. Man the breaks keep going UNC's way.

UNC 30 UI 25.

No alley oops yet, but UNC is hitting their threes.

No fouls on Powell on three consecutive offensive rebounds and shots?

And the ball goes off Deron's ankle. Every break continues to go UNC's way. Maybe I should stop saying that as we come back from the fourth TV timeout.

Illinois is not playing well the last four of five minutes. Who took this timeout? Weber?

UNC 35 UI 27.

May walked. And the refs called it! Yeah, I'm a homer, so what?

May walked again, no call. This sucks. So UNC gets to lucky and good.

Come on, stop the break.

Illinois doesn't get a shot off. This is not good.

Halftime UNC 40 - UI 27. The problem is that Illinois is not scoring. I'll settle for keeping UNC to 80, but Illinois has to start taking better shots and making the ones that are open. If they panic and start taking quick shots the game is going to look a lot like UNC's second half against Michigan State. Conversely, maybe this is just setting up the drama for the best championship comeback in history. Stop the secondary break, get some of those loose balls and almost steals, have Sean May called for charging and walking every time he does it, start hitting some of those open shots and we got a game. The half court defense is still good. Just start scoring some.

Shooting percentage 55.1% to 27.7%. Threes 6-11 and 5-19 respectively. It's amazing the lead is only 13. The highlights CBS just showed has Illinois missing open threes. Lowest total at the half for Illinois this year. That's not great defense. This is looking like a choke. Gee, is it too early for me to give up hope and invoke the reverse metaphysics?

Maybe Pontiac would do better if they had better commercials and weren't quite so impressed with their four-part folding roof. BFD. Just something else to break down. And jeez, even Jim nantz is embarrassed about The Locusts.

CBS is using HBO's Deadwood theme song. Strange. This is a pretty weak feature on free throws.

Well now, let's see what kind of adjustments are made coming out of the half. Twenty minutes to remember the rest of your life.

Here we go...

Cheap third foul on Augustine. And now 4. I wouldn't mind so much if they called the fouls on Sean May.

Man, Illinois keeps knocking the ball away but UNC keeps possession.

And the ball falls right to May for a dunk. Come on. Let's get some breaks. I see a Technical coming up soon if something doesn't change.

UNC 49 UI 42. Different game when the shots are falling. First TV timeout. Yeah baby, I like it UNC takes quick shots, now it's Illinois turning those misses around for quick scores.

Only 7 turnovers each.

UNC 51 UI 45.

Manuel has his fourth.

UNC 51 UI 48. Cut to 3.

And of course, the 53% shooter makes his free throw, but then amazingly, Sean May has a foul called on him. Don't believe me, just ask Bily Packer.

What is this the NBA? Sean May shoves his guy underneath and gets the and 1.

UNC 57 UI 53.

See, if Illinois will be patient, they can score. UNC is going to score, as well, but you only need one more point, and the three will give Illinois that.

UNC 60 UI 55. Illinois timeout. Just imagine if Illinois was able to play with all its starters in the game.

Definitely a game of runs.

May is awfuly good, 10-11 from the field. If UNC wins, he is clearly the reason why. Maybe he can miss his next 6 to match his dad.

UNC 62 UI 55.

Powell's having a hell of a game.

Deron's gotta hit those.

Will Sean May get tired?

Drive and dish. I like it. Dee this time, Deron needs to do it more. Luther must be hurting a little or he'd be penetrating more.

UNC 65 UI 59.

Again, this would be a very different game if Illinois had been just a little more efficient in the first half.

8 minute TV Timeout.

Time to dig deep. Imagine how hard they are going to be on Roy if he loses after being up by 13 at the half.

And Augustine's gone. Jeez. Come on. This is the kind of stuff that makes us think it's not fair. And you gotta love Mr. Negative's comments.

UNC 65 UI 61.

Gee is that a makeup call for Augustine? Sorry, we need about four more to make up for it,

UNC 65 UI 63.

And Dee Brown to the line. Felton gets his fourth.

UNC 65 UI 65.

This is the drama everybody wants. Felton hits a big one.

UNC 68 UI 67.

Man, I hate to see the NBA game win at the college level. If Ingram goes out the game may be over, because Smith can't stay on May. Too bad Brian Randle broke his hand.

UNC 70 UI 67.

TV timeout under 4 minutes. Turnovers: UNC 8 UI 7.

I assume Powell is going to have to come out on Sean May now. The game is now going to turn on how Illinois shoots threes. So what else is new?

Illinois will not give up.

Bad quick shot by UNC

UNC 70 UI 70.

Timeout UNC.

Let's see if everybody's got nerves of steel now. We know Illinois does.

2:32 remaining.

Deron cannot shoot from the side. I've said it before.

1:59 remaining.

No alley oops tonight.

What luck, all night. McCants throws up garbage and it gets tipped in.

UNC 72 UI 70.

1:04 remaining. Illinois timeout and the ball.

0:50.6 remaining. Illinois timeout. Just get the three to fall... Need to get a quick score to get two for one here. Despite what Billy Packer just said.

Oh Luther. You have to foul now.

UNC 73 UI 70.

0.25.8 remaining. Timeout UNC.

I see a tie coming. Will UNC have enought time to get a shot off or will we see OT. After all, it has been that kind of tournament. Remember, UNC has fouls to give.

Luther had two good shots, but neither fell. My third eye needs a checkup. But Luther still had a good game.

Oh well.

UNC 75 UI 70.

0:09.9 remaining.

I don't think even Illinois is good enough to make up this deficit.

North Carolina wins 75-70. Or did Illinois lose it in the first half? Iliniois did not score the last 2:30 mintes. Not an instant classic game. Considering how far the breaks fell North Carolina's way and with James Augustine being removed from the game so quickly, I think Illinois did rather well. Listening to Dick Vitale now, it's as though North Carolina dominated the game. And Digger Phelps just said North Carolina destroyed Illinois. Oh really? Sorry if I seem a little bitter now. But the game's over and nothing will change that. Alas, I expect a lot of "what if" commentary now. It's what Illinois fans do.

Congratulations to Roy Williams and North Carolina.

And thanks to Illiniois for a great season.

Just one more note, Rick Pitino was a lot more gracious in losing than Roy Williams is in winning. Gee Roy, who was it you were playing again? And how well would you have done without Sean May on your, as you say it, TEAM?

Now the race for Jon Scheyer really begins for Bruce Weber.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

Final Four Thoughts

Of course there was no way the three games of Final Four were going to live up to the drama and excitement of the four regional finals. But if tonight's game is as good as any of those last week, this may go down as the best NCAA Tournament ever.

I didn't make it to the game Saturday, but Illinois won anyway. My reverse metaphysics continues to work perfectly. As others have previously noted, someone who is wrong 99% of the time can be just as valuable as someone who is right 99% of the time. I did go down to the Ed on Saturday and looked around with a huge wad of Andrew Jacksons in my pockets, but for the first time in history I was not able to find a ticket available at any price. The market for tickets to this Final Four has exceeded any sporting event I've ever witnessed. Tickets for tonight's game were going for $800 -- if you could find one. Fortunately, I can still get a seat at a local establishment immediately in front of their plasma screen to watch the game.

Illinois was able to beat Louisville primarily for one reason: defense. With defense and 40% shooting from three-point territory, ... two reasons. Illinois was able to beat Louisville primarily for two reasons: defense, 40% shooting from three-point territory and winning the battle of the boards, ... three reasons. Illinois was able to beat Louisville primarily for three reasons: defense, 40% shooting from three-point territory, winning the battle of the boards and committing only thee fouls the rest of the game after picking up seven in the first eight minutes, ... four reasons. Illinois was able to beat Louisville primarily for four reasons: defense, 40% shooting from three-point territory, winning the battle of the boards, committing only thee fouls the rest of the game after picking up seven in the first eight minutes and because Rick Pitino found out that if you manage to stop two or three guys on this team somebody else always steps up, ... five reasons. There are others, but I'll stop here. In a private e-mail that is posted here, I noted that Roger Powell was going to be the key to this game. I swear, I should have put money on the games this year.

Rick Pitino was quite gracious after the game, saying that if they played ten times, Illinois would win eight or nine. He really seemed at peace and happy to have made it to the Final Four. I can only hope that Illinoisans will exhibit the same sense of grace if North Carolina should win tonight.

I've read a lot of stories this weekend saying that Deron WIlliams is Illinois' best defender and that he always get's the other team's best player. Wrong. Bruce Weber has said on many occasions that Deron's defense has been a problem this year and that he generally hasn't played defense this year as well as he did last year. Since the Big 10 Tournament, Deron has turned it up a couple of notches (because he's going to the NBA?). But Illinois' best defender this year has not been Deron Wiliams, nor Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Dee Brown, but Luther Head. Luther Head is the guy who has consistently been given the assignment of the opposing team's best player. But after Luther tweaked his hamstring in practice last week, Deron has been asked to step up and take over the defensive stopper role that Luther has played. And to his credit and the team's success, he has shown that he can play defense at a very high level. Incidentally, I love Dee Brown and he gets more ESPN SportsCenter type highlights, but the best defense generally doesn't make ESPN SportsCenter's highlight reel nor does it show up in the box score.

In Saturday's second game Michigan State played one excellent half and then, well, it is kind of hard to explain what happened after that. North Carolina isn't as good as they apeared in the second half, nor is Michigan State as bad. I feel good about my pre-game assessment that this game was a tossup based upon the score at the end of the half, but I'll also give credit where it is due and say the better team won.

Which brings us to the championship game tonight: #1 vs. #2. It doesn't get any better than this. I don't know who will win, but I expect Illinois will win by at least ten or North Carolina may win by as much as twenty. I don't expect a close game. Whichever team and style prevails will prevail relatively big.

Bracket update heading into the NCAA Championship game with number of teams remaining in parentheses:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 39-23 (1)
Kirkwood Illlini: 37-25 (1)
St. Louis Illini: 38-24 (1)
St. Louis Illinois: 47-15 (2)
St. Charles Austin: 42-20 (1)

The St. Louis Ilinois bracket is now tied for 3,936th place out of 2,800,000 entires in ESPN's Tournament Challenge. I have selected Illinois to beat North Carolina 78-72. If this happens, I expect to move into the top 2,000 or so entires, but I have no hope of actaully winning anything in this contest. On the other hand, had I entered any of the office bracket pools I had been entering since time immemorial, I think I probably wold have won this year. Then again, with my reverse metaphysics, maybe my not entering and therefore not picking Illinois to win it all is what got them this far. Who knows? Pshaw, tell me you don't think that your minor, inconsequential choices and actions regarding your sports teams don't have some butterfly effect on the outcome of events.

Oskee Wow Wow baby!

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

I've Seen It a Hundred Times and It Just Keeps Getting Better Every Time

Courtesy of Illinois Loyalty:


Yeah, Arizona choked, but Illinois was prepared to take advantage of it. The courage and grit they showed by not giving up was first rate. It's that determination and the fact that Illinois is the best defensive team in the Final Four that lead me to believe that Illinois will beat Louisville tomorrow. I think the North Carolina - Michigan State game is too close to call, but if forced to pick I will go with my heart and pick Michigan State. If these predictions come true perhaps it will force some much needed changes in the RPI.

This is great!

DOWNDATE: Time is running out if you want to save the Illini's season by sending me to the Final Four tomorrow.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005

Today's Final Four Thoughts

Rumor has it that Illinois and Michigan State fans are going to be bringing orange and green shirts to the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday and rooting wildly for an all Big 10 Final. (Link via Big Ten Wonk's United Colors of the Big 10). If Illinois wins, that's some pressure on Michigan State. Hmm..., so will the theme for Saturday be Ireland or Cote D'Ivoire? I know which the patrons of McGurk's would choose.

ireland.jpg cotedivorie.jpg

Given the play that Tom Izzo's destruction of the game tapes has got, I hope the folks at The ED get a copy of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer to play before the North Carolina - Michigan State game. Man, it would be cool to hear that flute intro in a quiet stadium and then here the crowd erupt when the horns start up. This could become a theme song for the Spartans in years to come. Of course, they can follow it with a live link of Dick Cheney lip-synching Peter Gabriel's Big Time.

Gee, how is it that North Carolina can have four or five NBA first round picks on their roster, and most of them juniors and seniors, since the influx of high school kids straight to the NBA was supposed to kill the college game?

The four coaches in the Final Four: Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Bruce Weber, and Roy Williams, have, respectively, the first, third, fourth, and fifth highest winning percentages in the NCAA Tournement amongst all active coaches with at least ten games played. There's gotta be some deep meaning there somewhere.

Who's Hot: Deron Williams
Who's Not: Chris Paul (Player of the year from day 1, though, surprisingly, he doesn't play for Duke.)

Who's Hot: Bruce Weber
Who's Not: Bill Self (As Hannibal Lecter once said, "Look inside yourself.")

Who's Hot: Bill Murray
Who's Not: Ashley Judd (... system error ...)

Maybe if Illinois wins the national championship, the #1 Google hit for "Bruce Weber" will no longer be this guy.

Due to the tremendous and total lack of response to my blogospheric queries regarding tickets for the Final Four, I am forced to pull out the heavy artillery. Illinois will beat Louisville if I attend the game but they will lose to Louisville unless I am present. There. I said it. Now, who's going to help insure the Fighting Illini's success and get me into the game? I mean, you don't want to be the one responsible for Illinois losing to Louisville, do you?

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:44 PM | Comments (8)

March 28, 2005

A Few More Thoughts

No, the Big 10 still isn't better than the ACC.

This is a gross oversimplification, but if I had to give one word descriptions of the ACC and the Big 10, they would be offense and defense, respectively. Roy Williams said as much before the game when he said he preferred an up and down style, but if he had time, he'd like to spend time with Bo Ryan and learn to coach like he does, i.e., defense first. Thus far, defense seems to have the upper hand. We'll see how that plays out when UNC plays MSU on Saturday, and perhaps again if UNC plays Illinois on Monday.

Arizona should have won the game. Arizona hit 10 of 12 free throws after their last bucket in regulation but couldn't hold on to the ball or burn enough time on its possessions. But even with their mistakes, how many teams could have come back from being down 15 with 4 minutes left, or down 8 with 1 minute left. Illinois was lucky... and good.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:40 PM | Comments (3)

A Copy

Anybody know where I can get a copy of the game?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:17 PM | Comments (1)

No. 1 UNC Loses!

North Carolina's #1 seeded women just lost to Baylor's #2 seeded women 72-63 in Tempe.

Could it be an omen?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2005

Hubba Hubba Hubba

Is there any doubt that this has been the best Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight week ever? Sunday's games were outstanding, 10 out of 10! But they still couldn't quite match Saturday's games. Watching UNC - Wisconsin, I never thought that Wisconsin was going to be able to pull it off, but they played well. Kentucky has so much talent, but their problems trying to get a shot off at the end of regulation and the first OT are a direct result of the fact that they don't yet have a first rate point guard. As I've been saying for a while, Michigan State is a very good team. If they should manage to win it all this year, they may match Arizona having to go through three #1 seeds, as well as a #2 seed thrown in for good measure.

And now, the Final Four is coming to my town. Damn. Just. Damn.

Big Ten Wonk has an excellent summary of the game with some interesting insights and links from all over calling it an instant classic. And keep scrolling for some commentary that is much better than what's probably in your local paper. The ACC Basketblog is a good source from, well, a different perspective. Both of these blogs also have an excellent blogroll for those interested.

And here's Illini Wonk on the game, and Illinitalk, Mark Tupper, and Brett Dawson. And check out illinigirl's comments on the last two weeks, including being at the RCA Dome for Rounds 1 and 2.

When I woke up this morning, the first thought that crossed my mind was, "un-f*cking believable." Somehow, I think that's probably going to be my first thought when I wake up tomorrow morning as well.

Oh yeah, about that weak Big 10..., did I mention that Illinois handled Wisconsin easier than North Carolina managed to today -- three times?

Bracket update heading into the Final Four with number of Final Four teams remaining in parentheses:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 38-22 (1)
Kirkwood Illlini: 36-24 (2)
St. Louis Illini: 37-23 (2)
St. Louis Illinois: 45-15 (3)
St. Charles Austin: 41-19 (2)

The St. Louis Illinois entry is now tied for 7,077th out of 2,800,000 entries in ESPN's Tournament Challenge. I have three of the Final Four teams correct (Illinois, North Carolina, and Michigan State, though I have been dissing Louisville since Day 1 to my great regret). Damn. I might actually win something if Illinois manages to beat Michigan State in the final game by a score of 78-72. If Gonzaga had come through to the Final Four I think I'd have been in the top 50.

Now, will the story line for the Illinois - Louisville game be that Illinois shot its wad to get to the Final Four, or are they truly a team of destiny? I, of course, have to go with the latter. And while I'm sure Dick Vitale won't agree, I think the North Carolina - Michigan State game is a toss-up. While my heart wants to see an all Big 10 final, I expect Illinois will face North Carolina for a chance at a title. And then we'll see whether Illinois is truly a team of destiny. There's no point in me trying to pick a winner for this game. But if it does happen, how often do the best two teams in college basketball actually play each other for the championship?

So, who's got an extra Final Four ticket?

DOWNDATE: Maybe ESPN should hire me:


I've got Dick Vitale and Andy Katz beat. And we won't even talk about Joe Lunardi any longer.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:50 PM | Comments (1)

March 26, 2005


Illinois athletics has something positive that will be remembered and referred to by everyone for a long time. No matter how the Final Four turns out, the 15-point comeback in the last 4 minutes against Arizona to get to the Final Four has to be considered one of the best, if not the best comeback in collegiate basketball history.

I've wondered around to the Illinois blogs in the last hour and everyone had given up. Everyone except the guys on the floor.


Posted by Charles Austin at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)


Anybody know what I can watch or tune into to prolong the moment besides ESPN News until Sportscenter comes on?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

Galaxy Quest

Never give up, never surrender!

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Oh Well

With four minutes left it's not over yet, but it might as well be. Strange game. But Arizona hit their shots and Illinois didn't.

Maybe next lifetime...

DOWNDATE: Uh, whoops. As we head into OT, I only wish Illinois had played with the same sense of urgency for the whole game.

DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Hah! My secret strategy of giving up hope worked! Everybody, come on down and meet me in St. Louis!!! And uh, bring a couple of extra Final Four tickets.

TRIPLE DOWNDATE: Anybody know how I can, uh ..., unburn my, um ..., lucky sweatshirt?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:05 PM | Comments (1)

Missing the Point, Again

West Virginia is shooting threes against Louisville today the way Villanova shot twos when they beat Georgetown back in 1985. But all the CBS talking heads are missing the point, again. West Virginia is up 40-27 at the half primarily because Louiville has only scored 27 points at the half. Rick Pitino better be spending halftime adjusting his offense. If WVU hits threes in the second half the way they did in the first half, then they are on to St. Louis regardless of what Louisville does -- you cannot effectively defend a team if they can throw it in from 24 feet or, worse, bank it in from beyond the arc as the shot clock is winding down. On the other hand, if WVU comes back towards the mean a little on there threes, as I expect, Louisville will still have to score more than 27 points in the second half if they are going to win. Unless Louisville starts forcing it inside where they should be dominant, getting some fouls and shooting better than 38%, they are going to lose.

Oh, and for CBS's play-by-play announcer, I wrote yesterday that this game was a tossup, so it's not true that nobody gave WVU a chance. Jeez, it's as though Brent Musberger is back telling us who's going to win at the opening tip. After all, "it's only a matter of time."

DOWNDATE: Well, WVU did come back to earth a little and Louisville mixed it up inside and outside to push it to OT. I thought with Garcia fouled out and Dean sitting out with cramps that WVU would take it, but they didn't. Good game.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2005


Wisconsin 65
North Carolina State 56

Michigan State 78
Duke 68

No, it doesn't mean the Big 10 is better than the ACC. But it does mean that the Big 10 is a lot better than all the sports pundits have been saying all year. And gee, maybe Illinois is pretty damn good after winning both the Big 10 Conference title and the Big 10 Conference Tournament. Hey, maybe one of my all Big 10 brackets might do ok after all!

DOWNDATE: UNC avoids an ACC Black Friday by 1 point. Somehow, if Illinois won a game by 1 point against a team who had just lost their best player to a torn ACL, I think I'd be hearing a lot about how vulnerable Illinois is. Hey, I'm just sayin'. And the Kentucky - Utah game was perhaps the ugliest Elite 8 game I can remember seeing. Jeez, Utah could have won easily if they would have made some free throws or layups.

DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Here's the bracket status with the record and teams in the Elite 8:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 37-19 (3)
Kirkwood Illlini: 34-22 (3)
St. Louis Illini: 35-21 (3)
St. Louis Illinois: 42-14 (6)
St. Charles Austin: 39-17 (3)

The St. Louis Illinois entry has Illinois, Arizona, UNC, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Kentucky correct -- with Illinois, UNC, and Michigan State moving on, which seems reasonable. They are now tied for 22,853rd place out of 2,800,000 entries in ESPN's Tourney Challenge. That's not too bad.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Yeah, Baby


Posted by Charles Austin at 10:02 PM | Comments (3)

March 21, 2005

Don't Worry, Everybody's Brackets Got Hammered

Since I started it, I'll keep it coming with my brackets through round 2 and the number of teams left in the Sweet 16 in parenthesis:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 34-14 (10)
Kirkwood Illlini: 31-17 (8)
St. Louis Illini: 32-16 (8)
St. Louis Illinois: 36-12 (10)
St. Charles Austin: 36-12 (11)

All things considered, still not too bad. First place in ESPN's contest is now 44-4 after round 2. My best team is now tied for 43,637th place, which is in the 98th percentile. FWIW, Joe Lunardi is now 30-18 after round 2, with only 6 teams left in the Sweet 16.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Well, the Good Guys Wear White, Right Billy?

Over the last few weeks, I was beginning to think that Billy Packer had shed some of his ACC bias, but watching the last few minutes of the Duke - Mississippi State game, I see my assessment was premature.

DOWNDATE: Headline corrected, basketball fatigue must have set in.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:20 PM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2005

Belated Clever Post

In the bizarro world where Spock has a beard, Bud Selig has a clue, Tony LaRussa really is a baseball genius, and Jacque Chirac has respect for the smaller nations of Europe; Mark McGwire missed an opportunity to not be quiet about his personal steroid abuse:

La Russa, who managed McGwire on both the Oakland Athletics (news) and the Cardinals, said he believes McGwire's denials. "In my opinion, being under oath wouldn't have changed what he said," La Russa said at spring training in Jupiter, Fla. "I think he was overcoached. Mostly, I think it was a missed opportunity to explain that if you use substances like creatine and over-the-counter stuff that's not illegal, you can get the benefits of a hard-core weight training program. And that was never discussed. You can get bigger and stronger doing this legally, and I didn't hear that."

Never better than late, or something like that. Come to think of it, it doesn't sound nearly as clever now that it has been electronically engraved into the ether.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Bill Self Ruins the Storyline

So much for making Roy Williams face his former players, much less Bill Self facing his former players in the finals. Day 2 wasn't quite so kind, but it was awfully exciting:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 24-8
Kirkwood Illlini: 23-9
St. Louis Illini: 24-8
St. Louis Illinois: 26-6
St. Charles Austin: 25-7

Still not too bad, but unless Michigan State and Gonzaga make it to the Final Four, I won't be winning anything. No one in ESPN's contest is better than 30-2 after day 2. My best team is now tied for 130,771st place. FWIW, Joe Lunardi improved about as much as I got worse and is is 24-8 after day 2. If only we could have put my day 1 with his day 2 we'd have something.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2005

And Mark McGwire's Just A Beefed-Up Liar In D.C. You Know Where That's At

Apparently, taking steroids shrinks your testicles and your credibility:

Once, he was compared to Babe Ruth. Thursday, he was compared to Enron. That's not what you call a great day on Capitol Hill. But that's the kind of day it was for a fallen living legend named Mark McGwire. People are never going to look at him the same now. Not after a day of dodging questions the way he once dodged fastballs steaming toward his eyebrows.

Legally, of course, McGwire didn't have to answer those questions. Remember that. The men who wrote the Constitution handed him that right. So in a way, all he did was exercise his fundamental right to avoid ensconcing himself in a whole mess of trouble. But a lot of good that will do Not So Big Mac with millions of people who once loved him, cheered him, froze their existences those four times a night when he walked toward home plate.

It was way too clear what he didn't want to talk about and why he didn't want to talk about it. Now he has to know, just as we know, what that means. It means he drove his reputation off a cliff Thursday, and left his legacy irreparably splattered. Very possibly beyond repair. He didn't want to talk about the past. That's what he said. But now, that part he didn't want to talk about is all anyone else will ever want to talk about. And that ain't good.

Meanwhile, Instapundit cites Steven Chapman as saying:

We're at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, threatened by Al Qaeda, mired in budget deficits, faced with gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, struggling to sustain the fighting capacity of our military forces--and what does this committee think warrants its urgent attention? Whether a handful of overpaid entertainers are taking forbidden pills to improve their performance.

The hearing rests on two well-worn premises that ought to offend the conservative sensibilities of Republicans, who control this committee and Congress. The first is that absolutely everything is a federal responsibility. The second is that the private sector needs incessant guidance from government.

But, is it really so bad that Congress is preoccupied with something that might actually be mildly helpful rather than focusing on the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, threats by Al Qaeda, budget deficits, gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, and sustaining the fighting capacity of our military forces? Or do you really believe that self-serving, self-righteous, partisan propogandizing a la "No Blood for Oil!", "the brutal Afghan winters", "Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11", "what Social Security crisis?", and the frequently mindless, disrespectful carping about Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputies refocusing of the Defense Department is preferrable to one pampered group giving a well deserved hard time to another pampered group instead?

But I do believe Donald Fehr is going to find Congress a somewhat more formidable opponent than Bud Selig. They play hardball, and moneyball, too.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:18 AM | Comments (2)

Maybe I Should Have Put Some Money On It

My bracket went 15-1 today with the only blemish Cincinnati beating Iowa. But watching Illinois is proving very stressful.

Well, technically, I have five entries in ESPN's contest:

Kirkwood Illiniwek: 14-2
Kirkwood Illlini: 13-3
St. Louis Illini: 13-3
St. Louis Illinois: 13-3
St. Charles Austin: 15-1

Not too bad considering the necessity of picking a few upsets. That last one has me tied for 6,852nd place. FWIW, Joe Lunardi is 10-6 after day 1.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:12 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2005

All College Team

Who are the best five collegiate players that you saw in person while they were in college? Can you beat my all star team:

Larry Bird
Greg Kelser
Danny Manning
Earvin Johnson
Isiah Thomas

Of course, if someone will come forward with some Final Four tickets this year, I may have to change this somewhat...

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:24 PM | Comments (9)

March 13, 2005

Live Blogging the NCAA Tournament Selection

The best three weeks in sport are about to begin. The bracket.

I told a friend earlier this week that the one team I didn't want to see in Illinois' bracket was Oklahoma State. But didn't the Oklahoma State players look a little less than enthused about being in the same region as Illinois? Oh well.

Do Arizona and Illinois always have to be in the same region? At least Kansas wasn't joining them yet again this year.

Chicago is very tough at the top, but a little softer down the middle, as it should be. I know I'll sound like a homer, but Illinois always seems to end up in the toughest bracket. Nonetheless, that doesn't look like it will be true this year. Alabama/BC looks like a good second round game.

There aren't any ACC teams in the Chicago region. That's unusual, especially since the ACC got 5 teams in the tournament.

Wake Forest did not deserve a #1 seed. I heard one ACC shill say that their loss against NC State didn't count against them since Chris Paul didn't play. Ok, then the win doesn't count for NC State either, and so NC State doesn't belong in the tournament. You can't have it both ways.

Georgia Tech made it as a 5. I said they'd get in easy earlier this week. But Maryland probably won't.

Louisville is a legitimate 4, and no higher. They didn't beat anybody this year. Seth needs to lighten up.

The Albuquerque bracket looks tough, with Washington, Louisville, GA Tech, Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Texas Tech. Damn.

Obviously, Syracuse must now go to Austin.

Some "bubble" team are getting seeded higher than a lot of folks expected. So far, Syracuse is looking kind of easy for UNC, although Wisconsin or Kansas might give them a game. Then again, Jim Putz, uh, I mean, Nantz just called it the best bracket he's ever seen in the NCAA Tournament. No East Coast bias there. And for the record, Kansas might as well be on the East Coast. Otherwise losing to Oklahoma State wouldn't have taken them from a 1 to a 3.

Oklahome State interfered with my prediction that the committee would put Kansas in Illinois' region just to see Bill Self go up against Illinois. I was wrong. That's twice so this year.

Austin starts with Duke, but watch out for Michigan State. And Syracuse. And Kentucky. But don't worry about Oklahoma. This one's pretty tough with Mississippi State and Utah thrown in there. Of couse, Seth just said it was set up for Oklahoma. Ha!

I still don't think NC State belongs in the tournament. But now the crying will begin from Maryland, Notre Dame, and maybe even Indiana.

Last three in: UAB, Northern Iowa and UCLA. Good for all of them. I am especially happy for Northern Iowa and UAB.

Oh yeah, I'm still waiting for someone to come forward with Final Four tickets for me.

If Ohio State hadn't self-disqualified themselves, would the under-hyped Big 10 have had six teams in the big dance?

My sleeper picks (must be lower than a 4): Texas Tech, Michigan State and Iowa State. Sorry, no sleepers in Chicago.

Clark Kellogg's sleepers: Alabama, LA-Lafayette, Florida (4?) and Utah.

Seth Davis' sleepers: LSU, Georgia Tech, Villanova and Oklahoma (3?).

Do these guys know what sleeper means?

My first round upsets: UAB over LSU, New Mexico over Villanova, Iowa over Cincinnati, and Creighton over West Virginia.

Final Four picks: Illinois, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Michigan State.

Clark Kellogg's Final Four: Illinois, WF, Kansas and Syracuse.

Seth Davis' Final Four: Illinois, WF, North Carolina, Syracuse.

National Champion: Oh please, Illinois. But I do hope UNC makes it that far to play Illinois.

Isn't it grand?

Footnote: Is there anything more obnoxious than Digger Phelps wearing green, holding a green pen, and whining about Notre Dame not getting in, despite playing nobody out of conference nor winning anything away from home? Oh yeah, he's been predicting Illinois was going to lose for two months. And now he's got Texas beating them. How about a slight pretense of objectivity? Take a look at Jay Bilas. He's a true pro.

Somewhat later, oh please, stop with the Notre Dame whining. Here's Notre Dame's non-conference road schedule: Indiana, Michigan. That's it. And they were 1-1 in those games. The rest of their non-conference schedule (Harvard, IPFW, Charlotte Southern, DePaul, Army, Marist, Western Illinois, Samford and UCLA) were all at home. In other words, Notre Dame only played one team out of conference that made the tournament and they lost that game. The Big East was tough and they had some good wins, but far too many losses to less than stellar teams. And yes, for the record, I do have something against Notre Dame basketball and Digger Phelps that dates from 1978 when I was attending Illinois State Uiversity and we didn't get an at large bid to the tournament despite a 27-4 record, IIRC, while Notre Dame got a bid with 10 losses, again IIRC, because Digger Phelps kept yelling, "we beat UCLA twice!", and those were the only losses UCLA had. And in those days, the tournament still only had 32 teams, so there weren't many bids to go around.

In conclusion, I object to the attempts to make the selection process ever more subjective. It will necessarily be impossible to make it completely objective, but intentionally trying to go the other way is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Make the process as open and transparent as possible. Make it possible for teams to know they have to schedule good opponents and that they will be rewarded for doing so -- as long as they win some of them. Otherwise, Longwood might deserve a bid.

Ohmigosh, Digger just picked Illinois to win it all. I may have to take back everything I've just written. Nyah.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:18 PM | Comments (9)

March 08, 2005

Stupid Polls

I expected that North Carolina would get some undeserved votes for 1st in this week's polls after Illinois' loss, but I'll admit being slightly perturbed that they got a few more than I expected. But what really pulls my crank is that the difference (7) between Illinois and North Carolina in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll is less than the difference in their first place votes (11). That means that some voters didn't even think Illinois deserved to be number 2 after their first loss of the year -- a 1 point loss on the road to a middle of the road Big 10 team team that Jeff Sagarin has above Maryland and North Carolina in his rating system.

I'm curious though, how many ACC or Big 12 teams were up by 30 over Wake Forest, Gonzaga, or Cincinnati at any time this year? Sure the Big 10 is down, but the Big East, Big 12 and PAC 10 aren't turning out to be as strong as we all thought they were a month ago. While the ACC may end up deserving as many as three #1 seeds in another week, that doesn't mean the rest of the conference is all that good, even if Maryland did manage to beat Duke twice and NC State managed to beat, well, um, nobody when you get right down to it.

P.S. For you Hoosiers, the possessive of Illinois is the only way in which it is proper and appropriate to end with an enunciated "s".

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:46 PM | Comments (3)

February 26, 2005

Just Because


Posted by Charles Austin at 11:47 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2005

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

At the very least, they saved the city of Philadelphia from the seemingly inevitable riots, car burnings, and deaths that accompany a professional championship for cities that haven't had one for a few years.

One note however, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was 10 years ago, but I don't remember any salute to out soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen before Super Bowl XXIX. Please don't misunderstand, I am in favor of honoring those in uniform every year. I'm just pointing out that even the NFL realizes that our holiday from history is over. This is a good thing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

I'm Warning You Now

If Illinois should finish the year 37-0, this blog will become insufferable for a while.


Posted by Charles Austin at 11:02 PM | Comments (3)

January 09, 2005

A Few Random Thoughts the Next Day

In rainy Seattle... Torry Holt caught the low pass in the end zone and Bobby Engram didn't. That was fundamentally the difference in the Rams-Seahawks game.

Why wasn't there a roughing penalty when Shaun McDonald was thrown to the ground after he was out of bounds? It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, but thank goodness it didn't go to OT because the officials gave up control of the game on that play.

Joe Theisman keeps saying the most inane things. One example will suffice -- He'll lament the Seahawk's receivers dropping lots of passes and then two minutes later admire Matt Hasselback's form and wonder why his completion percentage isn't higher. And I've grown really tired of the juvenile banter between Joe and Paul Maguire. Incidentally, why does Paul Maguire look like he shaves his eyebrows? The sooner this whole broadcasting crew is retired the better.

The Rams are better than most people seem to expect. They have first rate talent on offense. It seems as though a lot of people forgot that Marc Bulger missed a few games and that's when the Rams looked horrible losing to the Cardinals and Panthers. The Rams real Achilles' heel is their offensive line. They were so desperate after pre-season injuries they called Tom Nutten back out of retirement. They only have 5 healthy lineman on their roster right now. The Rams defense isn't good and the special teams have been atrocious, but they have been playing better the last month or so. I don't expect the Rams to make it to the Super Bowl, but I'll be a lot less surprised if they make it than if Green Bay or Minnesota makes it.

Mike Martz must address his game management problems. Some of the grief Martz takes is way overblown, but not when it comes to managing the clock. The use and abuse of timeouts and challenges hasn't even been at a High School level. It has hurt them in the past and it will continue to hurt them in the future and there is no reason for it other than sheer incompetence.

On another Mike Martz manufactured brouhaha, maybe Marc Bulger is better now than Kurt Warner ever was. Kurt achieved more (so far), but when he did so the Rams had a healthy Marshall Faulk in his prime, Isaac Bruce in his prime, a scary third receiver in Hakim, a decent defense, and a first rate O-line. All Marc Bulger has now over Kurt's glory years is an improved Torry Holt. On every other front, including expectations, the Rams are worse off to much worse off now. I'm one of the people that thought the Rams made a mistake in letting Warner go, but I have to admit now that I was probably wrong.

Seattle should resign Shaun Alexander because they aren't going to find anyone better. On the other hand, they need to start over when it comes to the WR corp. It doesn't look to me like Mike Holmgren has the respect of his team.

Meanwhile in sunny San Diego... can't both teams lose, just on principle? They both deserved to lose. An exciting game, but let's face it, that's Marty Schottenheimer on the sideline and we all know Marty can do a fantastic George McClellan imitation and get a team ready, but he can't actually make them perform when crunch time comes, although I doubt Marty is angling for Paul Tagliabue's job. Nice game plan Marty, using Tomlinson as a decoy until the last drive.

Is it to much to ask that the "premier" announcers for ABC have at least a passing familiarity with the rules? The penalty on the punt downed at the 2 late in the game was obvious as was what would happen if San Diego decided to accept the penalty or not. There is no way a touchback could come into play. Yes it's true that it would have been a touchback if the player who went out of bounds hadn't downed the ball at the 2. But that's not a decision the referees get to make. If the officials were allowed to make a decision like this why wouldn't they then be allowed to award touchdowns on plays a player would have scored on except for some penalty? Jeez.

The Jets should have used their timeouts with about a minute left. If the Chargers score then they have time to try and win. If the Chargers don't score then they can run still run the clock out when they get the ball back. Then again, maybe Herm knew his team would do something stupid that would give the Chargers four more downs.

So many penalties.

I guess yesterdays results mean that the Rams and Jets are going to meet in the Super Bowl.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

December 22, 2004

Just Because

Go Illinois!

I gotta get down to the Savvis Center and find myself a ticket tonight. And I thought it was going to be easy to get a Final Four ticket here in St. Louis in April. Well, not anymore.

Illinois #1, Ukraine's push for freedom, coincidence?

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2004


Just, damn!

Not even Ed Hightower could stop Illinois tonight. So, Dickie V., still think Illinois is the 15th best team in the country? Although the highlight of the night, for me at least, had to be ESPN's halftime feature ranking the best guards in the ACC, when two of their best were down by 21 at the half.


Posted by Charles Austin at 09:28 PM | Comments (1)

November 20, 2004

Letting the Lunatics Run the Asylum

Looks like Ron Artest is going to have plenty of time to work on promoting his rap CD now:

Indiana's Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson charged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of their game against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, forcing an early end to the Pacers' 97-82 win.

I can only read about this in the paper, since I lost interest in the NBA about 10 years ago and frankly barely realized their season had started up again. I see that things have only gotten worse since I was repelled by the lawlessness on the court as it now spills into the stands. I mean, if you aren't going to enforce the rules for travelling and carrying the ball, why would the players think you are serious about any of the other rules? Maybe David Stern should consult with Rudy Guiliani about the "broken windows" theory of restorig and maintaining order. Anything less than at least a half-season suspension is just begging for more nonsense from those whom Charles Barkley correctly and appropriately labelled "the knuckleheads."

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

The Tillman Rangers

That's the name of my fantasy football team this year. It's a small gesture, but one that has been noticed.

Eric McErlain has a rundown on Jake Plummer's battles with the NFL for wearing Pat Tillman's 40 on his helmet. Eric also has a link you can visit to buy a Pat Tillman jersey which until recently had been embargoed, and a link to donate to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2004

Lighten Up

It is extremely unfortunate that a significant mistake was made the other night in the men's all around gymnastics competition that robbed Yang Tae-Young of the gold medal, awarding it instead to Paul Hamm. I hope they give Yang a gold medal, a second gold medal at the very least. He earned it. But so did Paul Hamm, so taking his away isn't the right answer either. It would be a bad precedent that will have someone protesting almost every Olympic result if the IOC starts revisiting results days after the competition, no matter how good the reason. Note: disqualifying athletes for failing drug tests is an entirely seperate issue.

But the South Korean reaction is a little over the top. I have two words for all the South Koreans who think they've been jobbed; two words they should be very familiar with: Roy Jones.

DOWNDATE: Dual medals? Hardly an original thought.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:14 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2004

The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost

I stopped watching the NBA years ago about the time they stopped playing, well, basketball. Once travelling and carrying the ball were no longer violations and the game in the paint resembled a sumo match more than a game of finesse, I lost interest. The boorish behavior of the NBA's stars is of little consequence from my perspective, though if I cared at all it would probably annoy me considerably.

And now the results of years of an entitlement approach to its sport and business have yielded the results that we can expect in any aspect of life where responsibility is detached from authority, standards are casually tossed away when inconvenient, and accountability is waived for short term gain:

Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and the rest of the U.S. basketball team fell 92-73 to Puerto Rico on Sunday, only the third Olympic defeat ever -- and first since adding pros -- for the nation that ruled the sport for three-quarters of a century. It was by far the worst defeat for a U.S. men's team, coming in the Americans' first game of the Athens Olympics.

I detest the overly emotional coverage of the Olympics by NBC and wish they would spend the time showing us more actual competition rather than trying to manufacture tugs on my heart strings. On the other hand, it's clear that the US Men's Olympic Basketball team generates no feelings of warmth at all. I certainly could care less about these guys, other than the fact that they are wearing a USA on the front of their jerseys. But in a variant of what so many others have noted before, the amateur game is about the name on the front of the jersey, the pro game is about the name on the back of the jersey. It is telling to me that NBC spends so much time talking about how much money a gold medal will be worth to so many of the competitors across the board.

At least we shouldn't have to hear about the NBA having the world's greatest athletes again for a while, while David Stern starts to get a clue on why the NBA is losing market share.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2004

Nomar is a Cub

How is God going to stop a Cubs - Red Sox World Series now?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:46 PM | Comments (3)

January 08, 2004

Pete Rose

For a moment, I'll pretend that I still care about Major League Baseball, so bear with me.

In my opinion, Pete Rose should never be allowed back into baseball and certainly not into the Hall of Fame. He is a disgrace, and he broke the single most important rule there is to protect the integrity of the game. And then he lied about it interminably, well for fifteen years anyway, impugning the reputation of Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent. For all we know, he may still be lying about the extent of his gambling on baseball.

I hereby propose that since Pete Rose now admits that he lied openly and repeatedly about gambling on baseball for fifteen years, that we table all further discussion of this bum for another fifteen years. Then the proponents of letting Pete the Baseball Gambler and Unusually Bad Liar Rose back into baseball can make their arguments once again. Until then, they should just piss off and accept that this rather late partial admission doesn't begin to undo the damage this bum has done.

Bill James wrote once about his feelings about letting Joe Jackson in to the Hall of Fame which you've already read if you were a real fan. I feel the same way about Pete Rose.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)