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Showing posts from December, 2011

Penn State's in trouble if Mangini is a candidate

The Penn State football coaching search can't be going very well.

If you're considering hiring former Browns and Jets coach Eric Mangini, well, you're in trouble.

Browns fans probably would like to forget about the Mangini years. Jets fans probably have the same thoughts.

Why would Penn State want Mangini?

Maybe they're desperate. Maybe the program isn't what they thought. Maybe candidates are scared off by what might happen down the road. Maybe they just don't know.

After all, when was the last time Penn State had to look for a coach?

Mike Munchak, Tony Dungy and Chris Peterson (Boise State) all have denied any interest.

Meanwhile, many schools, including Pitt, have filled their vacancies.

Whenever Penn State names a coach, that person will be behind on the recruiting trail.

Nittany Lions fans should just hope that person isn't Eric Mangini.

Steelers should play it safe with Roethlisberger

I don't believe for a minute that Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Could he hobble around and throw the ball? Yep.

Is it worth the risk? Nope.

The Steelers should know around kickoff if their game against the Browns has any meaning. If the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens, then a Steelers' win gives them the AFC North title. If the Ravens win -- and I think they will -- then the Steelers' game is meaningless.

Roethlisberger should sit either way.

The Steelers shouldn't risk further injury to Big Ben.

I understand his desire to play.

But the Steelers need to understand the need to keep him healthy. Do you think the Browns would like a shot at injuring him as payback for Colt McCoy's concussion? I do.

Any playoff run needs Roethlisberger to be as close to 100 percent as possible.

I don't see how letting him play gets him closer to that goal.

Miami Heat get revenge? Hardly

Sometimes, perception doesn't equal reality.

That's the case with the Miami Heat's victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day.

My guess is you have seen or will see headlines saying "Heat get revenge," or something along those lines.

The Heat really can't get revenge for their loss to the Mavericks in last season's NBA Finals on opening day.

They can't.

They could beat the Mavs in the Finals this year.

That would be revenge.

We have a while to go to see if that can happen.

Steelers need to rest Roethlisberger the next two weeks

I can't blame the Pittsburgh Steelers for starting a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

A win put them in the driver's seat in the AFC, and Roethlisberger gave the Steelers the best chance to win.

It didn't work out.

It was obvious that Roethlisberger had trouble and it hurt the Steelers throughout the night. He couldn't scramble, he couldn't follow through on his throws and he couldn't heave the long ball.

I can't imagine Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon doing much worse. After all, the Steelers scored just three points.

With little chance to win the division, coach Mike Tomlin should rest Roethlisberger the rest of the season.

He should give Big Ben a big break, let him heal as much as possible and have him ready for the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens aren't going to lose in the next two weeks against the Browns and Bengals, which would wrap up the AFC North.

That makes these next two games against the Rams and Br…

Steelers' run to division title gets short-circuited

It was all there for the Pittsburgh Steelers to take.

The inside track for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, a game up on the Ravens for the division title, a chance for a bye week.

Instead, the Steelers short-circuited Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Ben Roethlisberger didn't have the magic this time, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. It was a heroic effort by Roethlisberger to take the field, but the performance wasn't there.

The usually strong defense gave up 20 points to a team that's struggled scoring touchdowns.

One night earlier, the Ravens lost on their trip cross country to face the San Diego Chargers. You would think the Steelers would have taken notice.

Instead, the Steelers flopped on Monday Night, a game that was delayed 35 minutes by two power outages at Candlestick Park.

The power certainly was missing from the offense.

Now the Steelers will need a Christmas miracle to gain the division title.

It looks like any path to the Super…

Ravens stumble, giving Steelers quite a gift

So much for the Baltimore Ravens being in control of the AFC North.

Facing a closing schedule of the Chargers, Browns and Bengals, it looked like the Ravens had the edge in winning the AFC North and sending the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in the NFL playoffs.

Like I said, so much for that.

The Chargers ran all over the Ravens, beating the Dirty Birds on Sunday night, 34-14.

Now, the Steelers control their own destiny.

But first, it starts with needing a win against the 49ers Monday night.

A loss Monday, and the Ravens will be back in control.

The good news is Ben Roethlisberger should start against the Niners.

I'd expect the Steelers to show up and take advantage of this opportunity.

Mario Cristobal to Pitt? I'd like it

There are a lot of names out there being tossed around as possible candidates as the next Pitt football coach.

There's one name that I like, Mario Cristobal.

Who?

He's the coach at Florida International.

He's turned around a program that was dreadful and has a team with two winning seasons and two bowl berths. Actually, I don't thin dreadful is a strong enough of a term.

He runs a spread offense, something I think is needed in college football, despite what Todd Graham unveiled this season at Pitt.

Some are quick to disqualify Cristobal because he'll leave after a couple seasons for a bigger and better job.

I understand that argument, but I don't think you'll find a coach to stay that long at many places.

I especially don't think you'll find one to stay that long at Pitt.

The key would be finding one that would be the anti-Graham, leaving the program better than you found it, and leaving with class.

That shouldn't be too hard.

Graham abandons Pitt for Arizona State

I liked the Todd Graham hire by the Pitt football team in January.

I was looking forward to seeing his high-powered offense in action. I liked the idea of his commitment to Pitt he said after his hire. He talked a great game.

Less than a year later, I have lost all respect for the man.

Graham up-and-left for Arizona State, leaving Pitt, his players and the program on a whim.

Well, maybe it wasn't a whim. Maybe he knew his up-tempo style just wasn't going to work in Year 2 at Pitt. Maybe he couldn't get the right quarterback to run his offense. Maybe he wanted to leave before everyone else figured out that he wasn't as good of a coach as he made himself out to be. Maybe he didn't like the weather.

He's a Sun Devil now.

Ask a Pitt player, and I'd guess they'd say he's something like the devil instead.

Graham notified his players by text or email -- how nice. Nothing being committed to your job.

Athletic director Steve Pederson agreed:

"First an…

Pens fans should be worried about Crosby

Deep in the back of many, if not all Penguins' fans, there should have been concern about Sidney Crosby's health.

There was probably some who worried more than others, but the threat was real: What if Crosby gets another concussion?

It didn't take too long to find out. Crosby missed two games last week as a precaution after a hard hit against the Bruins.

That precaution has been elevated. Crosby is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. He didn't suffer a concussion, they say, it's just his body's not right.

I don't know about you, but I'm worried.

Yeah, I'm worried about the Penguins and Crosby's career. But that's nothing compared to Sid's health. That should be everyone's concern.

I'm afraid what might happen if a goon takes a cheap shot on Crosby. It doesn't even have to be a cheap shot. Crosby could get leveled by a clean check and that could end his career.

It might not matter how long Crosby sits. It could be …

Steelers on target to be Tebowed

Ready or not, Steelers fans, you could be looking at a 13-win season and a wild-card berth.

It's not the end of the world, especially when it's not impossible to win the Super Bowl as a wild-card team.

But what do you do when your first-round opponent is Tim Tebow -- I mean the Denver Broncos?

The Broncos, winners of six straight, have a one-game lead over the Oakland Raiders. It looks like a lock that the AFC West division winner will be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. That means the top wild-card team, and unless the Ravens lose it looks like the Steelers, would get the Broncos.

I keep waiting and waiting for Tebow to fail, and he just keeps winning and winning. He'll play the ugliest three quarters of football and somehow spur his team to victory.

I'm sure the league will catch up to him, just like the league caught up to the Miami Dolphins' Wildcat offense.

But for now, it looks like Steelers Nation will square off against the mystic powers of Tebow.

Someone…

Browns take hit over McCoy

The Cleveland Browns can't win on the field.

They apparently don't know how to keep players healthy off the field.

The Browns didn't conduct a concussion text on Colt McCoy after he was hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Thursday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

A few years ago a mysterious staph infection plagued the team. It was so bad, former player LeCharles Bentley sued the team in 2010.

Maybe there's more to the losing than just the performance of the players.

Just one more reason I'm glad I'm not a Browns fan.

If it's a positive test, strip Braun of the MVP

Baseball got a black eye Saturday night.

ESPN reported that National League MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension.

Braun denies doing anything wrong and is waiting an appeal.

Braun reportedly was tested during the playoffs and was informed of a positive test in late October.

Two quick things out of all of this: I'm glad to see baseball is testing during the playoffs.

Second, if confirmed, Braun needs to be stripped of his MVP award. The writers can either make the second-place finished the MVP or vote again.

Stern makes wrong move voiding trade

At first blush, it's easy to agree with NBA commissioner David Stern's decision to squash a three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hey, why let a large-market team get another elite player, right?

Well, it's not the NBA's place to make such a call.

Paul, a top-10 player in the league, will bolt New Orleans at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent, so the Hornets should be allowed to get something before Paul leaves.

Second, while it arguably makes the Lakers better, it makes the Hornets better, too.

The Hornets would have received Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a draft pick.The Lakers would have sent Pau Gasol to the Hoston Rockets to complete the deal.

Problem was, the small-market owners complained. Loudly.

They were tired of the big bullies getting all the players.

So Stern listened.

I, like most people outside Miami, shuddered at the display LeBron James showed during his fr…

Roethlisberger erased a night of wrongs

I'll admit it.

When Ben Roethlisberger left the field in the second quarter Thursday night, I thought the Steelers were going to lose to the Browns.

There was no way Roethlisberger was going to return from that injury, I thought.

The heck with losing to the Browns. From the looks of that injury on the replays, I thought you could kiss any dreams of a Super Bowl run goodbye.

Yeah, I was way off on that one.

Roethlisberger returned to start the second half and the Steelers did just enough to beat the Browns on national television.

It looked like one of those games the Steelers would squander away. Hines Ward and Heath Miller each lost a fumble inside the red zone, and the Steelers started another drive inside the Browns' 40-yard line and came away with zero points.

Ward, as a side note, didn't have another catch after that fumble.

Even at the end, with Roethlisberger doing his best Willis Reed, it looked like the Browns would take the lead after the Steelers were stopped fo…

Best-case scenario for BCS: It'll be wrong

I've lost my appetite for hating the BCS system.

For years now, we've been told it's great by the people who created it. We've been told how it matches the two best teams in the country for college football's national championship.

Instead, we're usually left without the two best teams playing for the title.

We complain, gripe and do everything we can to slam the system. Ideas are tossed around, but they never gain traction. Five of six weeks later, everyone turns on their television after the new year to watch college football again and the slime that run the BCS and the bowls smile while counting their dollars.

Yeah, college football is grand.

Sunday night was another reminder of how bad the system is. For this year's version of the national championship, we're left with a rematch of LSU and Alabama. The two team's played earlier in a battle of field goals -- yawn! -- with LSU beating 'Bama 9-6.

We're left to believe that a system that say…