26 Things to Watch Until Next Saturday

Since there will be no show this Saturday, November 13th, there would be nothing better to point out 26 things that might happen in the next week and a half.

Some of them have no relevance or are sarcastic remarks about things that are not important.  However, it will give some food for thought.

1.  The Gamecocks and Gators battle for the SEC East – The winner of this game gets to face a team from the mighty SEC West in Atlanta on December 4th.

The bad news:  one of these teams will have to face a team from the SEC West.  The Western Division is so much better than the East this year, that you almost wish that two teams from the SEC West would play in the championship game.  Unfortunately, the rules don’t work that way.  Unfortunately, the winner of this game will likely be throttled by any team in the SEC West.

2.  Auburn’s Cameron Newton is not ineligible – It seems like nobody can accept that Newton is better than everyone in college football.

A week after rumors that Newton was purchased by Auburn, now news comes out that he cheated on tests while at the University of Florida.

While that is no laughing matter, let us not take away from the fact that Newton turned his life around from the mistakes he made with the Gators.

Oh, and this just in, Cameron Newton just kicked a puppy.

3.  TCU is for real, just don’t tell the BCS that – What is it going to take for people to realize that TCU actually deserves a spot in the National Championship?

After stomping over the 5th-ranked Utah Utes, TCU was still stuck at third in the BCS.  Utah did not get passed the 50-yard line until mid-way through the second half.

Everyone entered this season talking about Boise State’s chances to make the title game, but TCU quietly has become in the driver’s seat as the non-BCS team to play for a national championship.

While it was just Utah, they aren’t your everyday non-BCS team.

4.  There is no dominate NFL team – The closest thing to the best team in the NFL is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  But they are only tied for first place in the AFC North.

Normally at this point in the season, there is still an undefeated team or two, typically the Indianapolis Colts.  There is also at least one team on the verge of clinching a spot in the postseason.

This is truly a league of parity right now, and for the NFL, that is not what you wanted.  Potentially on the verge of a work stoppage, the NFL was hoping for a great season, not one of multiple controversies and lousy play.

5.  Jimmie Johnson will win at Phoenix – After an embarassing run at Texas, which included switching the pit crews with a teammate, Johnson will come out a determined driver at Phoenix.

Johnson, usually up by over 100 points by the second to last race of the season, is actually second in points to Denny Hamlin.

The drive for five has been a rough road for Johnson, but you can never overlook a four-time consecutive defending champion.

6.  Tennessee will win out and go to a bowl game – This would mean the team would have to win every game the rest of the season, but their schedule is relatively easy.

Tennessee faces Ole Miss this week, followed by games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  It is not an easy road, but very doable.

It won’t be a premier bowl, but the strong run to the finish will put the Volunteers in a lower-tier bowl.  Plus, they have also found their quarterback in Tyler Bray.

7.  Oregon will lose this season – Oregon, dominating teams all season, will lose before this season is over.  Unfortunately for the Ducks, that will cost them a chance at a national championship.

Oregon faces California, Arizona, and Oregon State to round out their season.  They have also lost their backup quarterback, Nate Costa, for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.

Oregon is an extremely fast team, but one of those teams will trip up the Ducks chance for an undefeated season.

7.  Eric Mangini is a ‘Man’gician – Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini seems to pull off miraculous wins left and right.  He beat the defending Super Bowl champion’s New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots.

Both times, Mangini has just flat out beaten these teams.  The favorites were outplayed on both occasions by the Browns.  Also, don’t overlook the play of Colt McCoy.  Once thought to be on the bench most of the season as a rookie, McCoy has looked impressive in each game he has played.

8. Arkansas slams South Carolina – In a meaningless game for South Carolina, the Gamecocks looked like they could not even beat Furman right now.

It was their worst game of the season, and it came at the worst moment.  With Florida coming up, the Gamecocks have no momentum heading towards Gainesville.

In addition, the fans were embarrassing to South Carolina again.  Shots of a empty Williams-Brice Stadium was all over television, displaying that most of the fans of the team, only care if South Carolina is winning.  You will never be a powerhouse football program if 75% of the fans leave at halftime.

9.  The next NFL coach to go:  Brad Childress – Yes, the Vikings did win on Sunday, but it was a game that Arizona lost.

It is very clear that the Vikings should not have welcomed back Brett Favre and should not have re-acquired Randy Moss.

It is also clear that coaching has a large part in this team’s failures.  Adrian Peterson and the running game has disappeared, and a once stout defense has some holes.

A team should not fall off so much from one year to the next, but Childress’ coaching and questionable personal decisions will cost him his job, potentially before the end of the season.

10.  It will get worse in Dallas before it gets better – After firing Wade Phillips on Monday, Dallas looks to regroup for the future with Jason Garrett as the new head coach.

However this is a team that can go two ways, up or farther down.  With so many personalities on the team, Dallas is more likely to self-destruct as this miserable season continues.

That is where Garrett has to step-up.  He has to figure out which players continue to play their hearts out, and which players give up on the season.  The players that play hard, have the upper-hand in earning their stars for 2011.

11.  Bruce Ellington will be better than Devan Downey – Sure it is a bold prediction after only one exhibition game, but he performed that well.

There were times watching the freshman point guard for South Carolina where he bursted down to the other end of the floor in the time of blinking an eye.

He tossed up a miracle shot at the end of the first half that somehow went in as time expired.

The Gamecocks and Ellington are going to take some hits this season; but watch out as this young team that Darrin Horn has put together matures.

12.  Bruce Pearl must have a great season to stay at Tennessee – While it was merely an exhibition game, it was a loss to Division-II opponent Indianapolis.

Bruce Pearl also has been in the news with recruiting violations not only while at Tennessee, but throughout his coaching career.

If Pearl wants to stay as the Volunteers’ coach after this season, he must show that the exhibition loss was only a fluke and this team will contend for an SEC title in the 2010-11 season.

Should Pearl not do that, I-40 or I-75 can take you out of Knoxville, depending on which direction you want to go.

13.  The NFL will suspend someone for hitting after this week – It was another rough week in the NFL.  Green Bay Packers S Nick Collins was fined $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Dallas Cowboys WR Roy Williams.

After the crackdown on hits, the NFL really had no issues.  The players seemed to ease up for a week or two, in hope of letting this storm pass over.

The NFL has only fined players since the declaration that they would suspend players.  The NFL might be ready to send the message that they are serious and don’t have a problem sitting players for hitting.

14.  Ellis Johnson and Lorenzo Ward are fighting for their jobs – South Carolina Assistant Head Coach for Defense Ellis Johnson and Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward are fighting for their jobs as the Gamecocks’ defensive secondary refuse to stop a passing game.

South Carolina was lit up by a freshman quarterback two weeks ago against Tennessee (Tyler Bray), and then there was Ryan Mallett (no explanation needed there).  While depth is an issue, the Gamecock defense was supposed to be a strength of this team.

However, the defensive effort against Kentucky in the second half, was not an abhorrition.  That game revealed a serious problem for this team.  The repeated breakdown and the drop-off from a year ago puts Johnson and Ward on the hot seat.

15.  SC’s Women’s Basketball will have a better record than the men – Since both Darrin Horn and Dawn Staley arrived at the beginning of 2008, the men and Darrin Horn have had the upper hand.  Not so fast, my friend.

The women, with some addition by subtraction in terms of Kelsey Bone, might try and make a legitimate run.  Staley is a good coach, and the university is giving her time.

However, the women must start making strides this season.  Staley’s job is not in jeopardy, but it could be.  Many of the players recruited by Staley have had time to gel, so an improvement is expected.

Meanwhile, the men are rebuilding with Horn’s recruits.  The only holdover from the Dave Odom-era is Sam Muldrow, who is expected to contribute big time.  This team is still waiting on the return of sophomore Ramon Galloway from a broken foot, and the hopeful emergence of some freshmen to be competitive.

In short, the men will have a tough year; the women look to compete.

16.  There will be no surprises with the MLB awards – People will be looking for upset winners for Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winners for the 2010 season.

For each league, there are the favorites for the award, and generally, there will not be anyone upset over who wins the awards.

Also, like normal, the announcements will come and go without much pomp and circumstance.  That is a far cry from when everybody spend days speculating on MLB award winners.

17.  Virginia Tech will still go to a BCS game – When Virginia Tech lost to Boise State to open the season, it is excusable; Boise State is a good team.  Lose to James Madison, well you know the answer.

However, those were Virginia Tech’s only losses this season.  The Hokies are in position to win the ACC and return to a BCS game.  Still like the BCS?

Love or hate the BCS, Virginia Tech has done everything they were expected to do.  Frank Beamer once again asserted why he has been with the Hokies for so long, and how success leads to job security.

18.  The NCAA is clearly investigating Cameron Newton – Already referencing this, it needs to be done so again.

There is no question that the NCAA is investigating Newton.  Typically, you can tell it when tidbits of information surrounding a player is continuously revealed.

Auburn has little they can do about this now.  If Newton was ineligible, they would already have to give up ll the wins this season, meaning it makes no sense to sit him to try to ‘save the season.’

It would truly be a shame if an incredible athlete like Newton, would be sullied by this investigation.

19.  Terrell Owens makes a team bad – It did not even take a full season for Cincinnati Bengals’ WR Terrell Owens to make his presence known.

Normally Owens gets along with everyone in the first season or two before he forces his personality on his teammates.  This was quite evident in Monday’s game against the Steelers as Owens began to yell at Carson Palmer.

Owens still believes that he is the best receiver in the league.  However, Owens is no more than a complimentary receiver that cannot run routes and cannot make the easy catch.

20.  Fear the Beard – As one bearded man goes away, San Francisco Giants’ reliever Brian Wilson, another returns to the spotlight.

Conan O’Brien returns to television after nine months of being censored from television.  Why does this apply to a sports blog?

Both would help out the rest of the world by shaving the beard off.  Raise some money for charity.

21.  Jon Miller and Joe Morgan leave Sunday Night Baseball – ESPN announced that the duo will not return to its Sunday Night Baseball telecasts in 2011.

Morgan’s contract expired and will not be renewed.  Miller will be offered to return as a baseball announcer for ESPN Radio’s baseball coverage.  That isn’t a slap in the face.

Perhaps, this means that Jon Sciambi will get a chance to be the new voice of Sunday Night Baseball, after Miller and Morgan went 21 years.

22.  Without Lattimore, the Gamecocks have nothing – In games against Kentucky and Arkansas, the Gamecocks have been forced to operate the offense without freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore.

It is nice when one guy brings such talent to an offense, but no team can fall flat on its face when he goes out of the lineup.

This team goes when Lattimore goes.  When he is on the sidelines, this team is lost and could not beat an average team offensively.

23.  Dolphins give up on Chad Henne – Sure this might be a little over the top, but explain to me what you are gaining by starting Chad Pennington?

Pennington has the intangibles, and he has an arm that can make a throwing motion, but the ball doesn’t go anywhere.  Henne at this point is the better quarterback, even if he has thrown 4 interceptions in his last two games.

This is a desperation move by the Dolphins, that will soon become an epic fail.

24.  Wade, James, and Bosh…the terrifice trio – Maybe not.

It has been more of a one man show of Dwyane Wade.  Wade was responsible for every point in overtime against Utah on Tuesday night.

Eric Spoelstra has to feel that seat getting warm with the poor start of the Miami Heat.  Pat Riley, although he has denied it, has to be licking his chops to get the opportunity to coach this team.

25.  College Basketball Starts this week – The most exhilarating sport in college finally returns.

Four more teams get to play in the NCAA Tournament this year.  March is just around the corner and these games are pivotal in building that resume.

At the same time, you can overcome losing early.  Figure out the problems in November, so that you can win the games that count in February.

26.  Congratulations – You actually read through all of this.  Feel free to give yourself a hand-slap; you deserve it.

We will return on Saturday, November 20th at 8 am on WUSC.  Enjoy your sports!


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