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OJ Mayo To … West Virginia? Oh, High School. Right.

Posted by TheBigLead on August 31st, 2006

While a large portion of Ohio continues to reel from star baller OJ Mayo’s transfer this week to a high school in West Virginia, the first thing we want to know: What does this do to his college plans?

The kid – for the uninitiated, he’s the latest high school It-Boy; a can’t-miss talent destined for greatness – has been taking visits to USC, so clearly, there is more than a kernel of truth about the news earlier this summer that Tim Floyd and Southern Cal were locking the kid up.

The folks at Kansas State, who thought Mayo would don the hideous purple when rules-bending specialist Bob Huggins turned up in Manhattan, don’t seem too torn up that Mayo’s latest list doesn’t include the Wildcats.

That all-important list includes: Southern Cal, Florida, West Virginia, Marshall, North Carolina, and Connecticut. He threw in Kansas State for good measure, but later admitted it wasn’t one of his top choices.

Wait, Marshall?

OJ Mayo’s High School Musical (Slam)
O.J. Mayo still enrolled at North College Hill High (Charleston Daily Mail)
Dunk of the Day (Hoops Addict)

Team USA Didn’t Need This

Posted by TheBigLead on August 31st, 2006

When it was revealed last season that Gilbert Arenas had a penchant for playing online poker during halftime of Washington Wizards games, he earned a small, yet fanatical following on the internet.

Then, in an epic playoff series against the Cavaliers, Arenas was sensational, averaging 34 points, five rebounds, and five assists. And people genuinely felt sorry for him when he stepped to the foul line late in the decisive game six, and LeBron James’ walked up to him and whispered something to try and rattle him. Arenas clanged both.

Which is why we are so puzzled by Arenas stirring up controversy on the day before Team USA plays in the semifinals of the World Basketball Championships.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Arenas says that he felt he was going to be passed over for a spot on the final roster, so he used a groin injury as an excuse to go home.

“No joke, I felt like I was the 16th man on a 15-man roster,” Arenas said. “You are there to support your team and support your country and be happy to play but you know, I did everything they wanted me to do; but if I did everything they wanted me to do, why am I on the bubble of getting cut? I sacrificed. You’ve got LeBron being LeBron. You’ve got Carmelo being Carmelo. You’ve got D-Wade being D-Wade. Why can’t I be me? Why do I have to transform? I did that and now you are going to cut me?”

Arenas probably needs to cool out before he earns the label of bitchy whiner. Remember how he dubbed himself “The East Coast Assassin” when he wasn’t voted as a reserve to the 2006 All-Star game?

Arenas Says He Got a Foul Call (Washington Post)
Gilbert Arenas Is A Bit Perturbed (Mighty MJD)
Arenas’ Awesomeness Level Dips (The Basketball Jones)

Roddick on Dating Sharapova: ‘We’re Not Dating’

Posted by TheBigLead on August 31st, 2006

When the New York Times decides to jokingly pen a piece about your budding romance, it’s time for a press conference and a denial.

So after Andy Roddick dispatched some unknown at the US Open yesterday, he felt compelled to just come out and tell the media about what’s not going on between he and fellow racquet twirler, Maria Sharapova.

“We’re not dating,” [Roddick] told reporters after his 6-3 7-6 6-3 win over Danish qualifier Kristian Pless.

“I’ve said it a million times already, but you guys refuse to write it. You know, we’re friendly. We’re in the same places. I think she’s a great girl. You know, we’ll talk. That’s about it.”

Dude, that’s such a weak denial. Who is doing his PR? Oh, right, it’s his sister-in-law. Advice: Andy, let the media run with it, let us blog about it, and just go about your life.

Because whether or not you’re dating a pretty hot 6-foot Russian isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s the best thing you’ve got going for you right now. You know, since the whole tennis thing is kind of fading.

We are just good friends: Roddick and Sharapova (Yahoo!)
High-Level Courtship and Whispers of ‘Rodapova’ (New York Times)

The Roundup: Dance on Bars Tonight; College Football Begins.

Posted by TheBigLead on August 31st, 2006

A morning peek into what sports bloggers around the web are saying, interspersed with various news, gossip, and analysis. Our first fantasy football draft is today; we can’t wait to draft Dom Davis.

College football gets underway tonight, so we turn to … Jenn Sterger. People, she’s “a little gunshy about dating a celeb.” (Sports Illustrated)

Keep the subtle digs, coming Tony: Kornheiser nearly named his football team ‘Joe Knows Everything.’ (Washington Post)

Here’s how the Tigers salvaged a doubleheader split with the Yankees. (The Futon Report)

Heisman hype is already in full swing. (Wizard of Odds)

Go ahead, Red Sox fans, let it all out. (Diary of a Mad Boston Sports fan)

A police report about Miami Hurricanes star receiver Ryan Moore doesn’t make it sound like he’s a nice guy. (Miami Herald)

Do-it-yourself game stories seem to be all the rage now; unless, of course, you are actually a Cubs fan. (Bleed Cubbie Blue)

Our favorite line: Is Latrell Sprewell gonna have to choke a bitch? (Deadspin)

It pales in comparison to our college football preview, but this one’s worth checking out. (New York Times)

Is it possible for a Florida Gators website to accurately preview the South Carolina Gamecocks? You make the call. (Gator Country)

College Football Is Nearly Here, Part II (of II)

Posted by TheBigLead on August 31st, 2006

By far, Fall is our favorite season; it reminds us of the first days of school, and a certain aroma in the outdoor air that still brings a smile to our face. Ah, the halcyon days of our youth, where, with giddy anticipation, the only question during the first week of school would be: What hot girls are in our classes? Whoever said growing up sucks had it right. At any rate, this fall, we have already negotiated the necessary sofa time for most Saturdays (and Sundays for the NFL), so that we can bring you the occasional live-blog and (hopefully), astute and comedic analysis. Here’s how we think the Top 10 will shake out once the National Champion is crowded. Have at it.

10. Miami - Which number will be higher: the number of players arrested and/or suspended or victories by the Hurricanes?
9. California - If these guys didn’t have to open with a road game at always-rowdy Tennessee, and later have to travel to USC …
8. LSU - Hurting on defense a bit, but with healthy QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU is still one of the best teams in the SEC.
7. West Virginia - We’re still puzzled as to why WVU felt the need to spy on Marshall practices this summer.Only one loss for WVU this year, and it’ll be in a BCS game.
6. Florida State - Stop with the head scratching – just because nobody else has them in the Top 10 doesn’t mean the Noles won’t be there. Love the offense.
5. Texas - Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead sound like characters from The Fall Guy.
4. Ohio State - Nine starters must be replaced on defense. And yes, the Buckeyes will lose at Texas.
3. USC - We always liked Josh Booty, even though he flamed out in the NFL; we like John David Booty, too, and we think he’ll make a fine NFL quarterback.
2. Auburn - Green-ish defense will look good because the biggest tests – namely, LSU – visit Jordan Hare Stadium.
1. Notre Dame - Whatever you’re doing Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to free up Saturday night for ND’s trip to USC. Because that’s the only challenging road game for the Irish.

NFL Preview: 2. Indianapolis Colts

Posted by TheBigLead on August 30th, 2006

Yes, we’ve got Peyton Manning and the Colts finally reaching the Super bowl. Their opponent? The Dallas Cowboys. The Tuna’s brain and TO’s mouth against Peyton’s arm. Guess you already know our answer.

Offseason: Losing one of the top 5 RBs in the league, Edge James, isn’t a good thing. Neither is losing one of the best kicker’s in the league, Mike Vanderjagt, or steady LB David Thornton, or bullish DT Larry Tripplett. One could argue no team had more significant free agent losses. The only replacement was New England kicker Adam Vinatieri. The draft was decent - Joseph Addai is a solid first-round pick who should get significant touches immediately.

Schedule: Three potentially difficult non-league road games – Giants, Broncos, Cowboys – and a handful of challenging home games (Redskins, Eagles, Bengals, Miami) looks treacherous.

Projected record: We’re guessing 12-4, but that’s probably a best case scenario. Like if Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combine for 1,300 yards and the defense reacts well to losing two starters.

What they’re lacking: Mettle in big games.

Why they’re in the Playoffs The Colts have had a pretty impressive run under the stewardship of Manning, but they have yet to reach the Super Bowl. Why is this finally Indy’s Super Bowl year? Because New England and Pittsburgh won’t be as good, and expectations aren’t through the roof this year for Indy with James now in Arizona.

Why they’ll lose in the Super Bowl: We keep thinking of the excruciating home loss Pittsburgh last year. Why can’t Indy run in the big games? Why does Manning look so flustered deep in the playoffs? Will things be different in the Super bowl?

Recommended Blog: Colts Couch Crew
Recommended Blog: Colt Power
Video: If you can stomach listening to 30 seconds of some annoying boob at ESPN, you’ll watch Marvin Harrison getting the treatment from the Patriots on the sideline following a Peyton Manning interception.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Carolina Panthers
5. Miami Dolphins
6. Atlanta Falcons
7. New England Patriots
8. Seattle Seahawks
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Washington Redskins
11. Denver Broncos
12. Chicago Bears

Earlier: The teams that won’t make the playoffs.

The NFL preseason has seen some off-the-field incidents shake several teams to their core – Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s terrifying motorcycle accident; Vikings top receiver Koren Robinson getting cut following a DUI; Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor attempting to make nice with teammate Zach Thomas following a divorce from Thomas’s sister – just to name a few. But they all pale in comparison to last night’s stunning news that Matt Leinart has knocked up his college girlfriend, and he’s set to be a Baby Daddy this fall.

For just a moment, take a look at Leinart’s precipitous fall from grace over the last year and a half:

* Wins Heisman Trophy, Dec. 2004
* Says no thanks to millions and high probability of being No. 1 pick in 2005 draft
* Returns for senior season and doesn’t win second Heisman Trophy
* Loses National Title game to Texas
* Slides to No. 10 pick in the draft
* “Dates” Paris Hilton
* Holds out with Cardinals, and is the last first-round pick signed
* Gets college girlfriend pregnant

Now it’s already been pointed out by the math majors over at Deadspin that if Leinart is expecting in September, October, or November, it’s (bad pun alert) conceivable that Leinart was doing double duty between USC basketball player Brynn Cameron (she’ll miss the upcoming season, by the way) and Paris Hilton.

Since everyone’s going to focus on Hilton (and have a shitload of fun with it – links below), we’re going to tell our own little Cameron story: Last year, just before the college football season, Esquire ran a lengthy piece on Leinart. For the interview’s rooftop photoshoot, Leinart surprisingly showed up with Cameron. Our initial thought: What the hell is he thinking? He’s going to be immortalized in a men’s magazine that has reach in the millions, and he’s bringing his hot college girlfriend? Why would he do that? Is he nuts? We can’t even remember the last name of our last college girlfriend.

Guess the guy knew how things would turn out.

Sources Say Leinart to be a Father (Press-Telegram)
Matt Leinart to be a Dad (People.com)
Brynn Cameron out for the year (Women’s Hoops Blog)
Matt Daddy (Sports Filter)
Oh Boy … (Powder Blue Report)

Wasn’t Pretty, But Team USA Tops Germany, 85-65

Posted by TheBigLead on August 30th, 2006

The three’s weren’t falling, and Dwyane Wade had by far his worst game of the tournament, but Team USA still had a fairly easy time with Dirk Nowitzki and Germany, winning 85-65.

It happened with defense. LeBron put the cuffs on Dirk, and held him under 20. Shane Battier and Carmelo Anthony chipped in to slow what looked to be a tired and frustrated Nowitzki. Of course, when your second option is former UNC role player Ademola Okulaja, offense is going to be hard to come by.

Next up for Team USA: a 3:30 a.m. 6:30 a.m. date Friday with a strong Greece team; the victor advances to the World Basketball Championships .[Edit: The doubleheader starts at 3:30 with Argentina and Spain, but the USA-Greece game is at 6:30]

Team USA will have to shoot the three much, much better (10-40 vs Germany), and Wade can’t struggle this bad (we recall a dunk attempt thwarted, and an air ball from three in what clearly was his worst game of the tourney) if Coach K’s guys are going to pull that one off. We did like the strategy of posting up LeBron, because he’s got great vision. Once he gets the ball on the blocks, the double comes, and the three point shots open up.

Chris Paul once again looked good running the show, and Shane Battier must have picked up four floor burns diving all over the place. Carmelo Anthony lit it up in the third quarter again (12 points), and Team USA dominated the offensive glass (something like 20-5).

The Roundup: Yeah, We’re Hung Over. So?

Posted by TheBigLead on August 30th, 2006

A morning peek into what sports bloggers around the web are saying, interspersed with various news, gossip, and analysis. What will happen first: Matt Leinart change a diaper, or Matt Leinart throw a touchdown pass?

Somebody called the Florida Marlins a AAA ball club earlier this season, but nine wins in a row have this plucky bunch one and a half games out of the wild card hunt. (Baseball Musings)

The Jets have all kinds of questions at running back with Curtis Martin out, but Chad Pennington is locked in at quarterback. (The CockPit)

A damn good guide to the new American tennis. (Tennis X)

Does Chris Evert hold grudges? If not, why is she pulling away from a kiss on the cheek from Jimmy Connors, 30 years after they mysteriously split up? (NY Daily News)

One fairly negative look at Don Nelson returning to coach Golden State … (Chancelucky)

… and a positive look at why Don Nelson will guide Baron Davis and company to the playoffs. (Golden State of Mind)

The Buffalo Bills have tabbed JP Losman the starting quarterback; Jim Kelly’s records to remain intact. (Bfloblog.com)

More and more people are starting to realize that Tuesday Morning Quarterback is an awful read. (Sportsfrog)

College Football Is Nearly Here, Part I

Posted by TheBigLead on August 30th, 2006

With so many upper-echelon teams having two Heisman Trophy candidates, who gets the shaft, and who’s the favorite? Our breakdown of who is in contention to collect hardware at the Downtown Athletic Club in December.

West Virginia - RB Steve Slaton and QB Pat White: Fine, so Pat White is a stretch to make an appearance on this list, but he was pretty darn good last year, and the schedule is full of jokers, so why not? The thing is, these guys will remain on the list at least until the Nov. 2 trip to Louisville. If WVU wins, it’s smooth sailing to the BCS. But even if White were to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000, he’d still be a longshot to win the Heisman. Slaton might need an epic rushing season – 2,000 yards, 30 touchdowns – to warrant a trip to the downtown athletic club.

Louisville - QB Brian Brohm and RB Michael Bush: Extremely fun offense to watch. Brohm will have the stats, but will register enough impressive victories to get him to NYC? Bush reminds us some of Eddie George. Expect gaudy stats. But the league is weak, and barring an undefeated run and a trip BCS, it probably won’t be enough. And even then …

Ohio State – WR Ted Ginn and QB Troy Smith: Road trips to Texas and Iowa could trip up either one of these players. Ginn, this year’s must-watch player now that Reggie Bush is in purgatory New Orleans, is a longshot at best because most of his scores will be courtesy of Smith. If Smith can stay eligible, and guide this team to an unbeaten mark, he should be a top 3 candidate. But two late-season wins last year – while impressive – still leaves us needing to see more before actively backing his 2006 Heisman campaign.

Michigan – QB Chad Henne and RB Michael Hart: Ummmm, no. Very good college players, but shot at the Heisman. Too many difficult games on the road. Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State? No BCS for these guys, and thus, no Heisman Trophy.

The Individuals

Chris Leak, QB, Florida: – It’s laughable that he’s a contender. He’s just lucky five of his first six are at home, including Alabama and LSU. Our guess? He lays an egg against the Bayou Bengals, and the people’s choice, freshman Tim Tebow, will somehow get into the game against Auburn and create a quarterback controversy. Video killed the radio star? Hype killed Chris Leak. Not exactly Ron Powlus-like in the magnitude of his letdown, but major disappointing.

Kenny Irons, RB, Auburn: With the only tough road trips being South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama, it’s feasible Auburn could go unbeaten. When was the last time you heard anyone mention Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown? Irons – 1,293 yards, 13 touchdowns last year - made the Tiger faithful forget about the duo, and we expect in the ballpark of 1,700 yards this season. He should finish in the top 3. If he’s eligible as a darkhorse, we’re going with him.

Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame: Clear cut favorite. He’s ours, too. Tremendous arm strength … ah, hell … if we list all the qualities he’s got, this will turn into a 5,000 word Bill Simmons piece. The only way Quinn doesn’t win the Heisman is if he gets injured or the ND defense collapses and the Irish win fewer than eight games. We’re reluctant to use the word lock in regards to Quinn capturing the Heisman. But he’s close.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma: Blue chip NFL prospect? Sure. Breakaway speed? Yup. An impressive physical specimen? Damn right. Won’t finish in the top 3 simple because he’s got no quarterback. Enjoy the eight man fronts, AP.

Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC: Clearly the best receiver in the college game, but unless he doubles up at safety or returns punts or kickoffs (none of which is happening), he cannot win this title. Period. Twenty-five touchdown catches will not win him the award. Sorry. Reminds us of Keyshawn Johnson, minus the attitude.

Sports Betting Odds: LinesMaker Sportsbook