Big Lead Sports Bar


Shady McCoy, The NFL Playoffs, Pens-Flyers, and much more...

No shortage of material to talk about today. Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated (can't a Mondesi get a day off?). So let's get back up to speed with what has gone down since we last talked:
I'd like to start with a major "congratulations" to the Pitt Panthers for a great weekend. The Oakland Zoo was in full force early Saturday morning for a live broadcast of ESPN GameDay with Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis, and Digger Phelps. According to the Trib, 1500 Pitt students turned out for the 10 AM event, with the actual Pitt-Georgetown game not starting until 9 PM that evening.
The game played out just as Pitt would have hoped: a 74-69 win over the Hoyas and an apparent major football recruiting coup in the process. Highly touted running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy, a 5'11", 200-pounder from Bishop McDevitt HS in Harrisburg, was among the frenzied crowd that night. McCoy had narrowed his choices to Pitt and Penn State, but check out this recap from the Trib about what happened at the game Saturday night:
When McCoy entered Petersen Events Center for the Pitt-Georgetown basketball game, a student awaited with a hand-made sign with check marks filling boxes next to the names of committed recruits Pat Bostick, Dom DeCicco, Chris Jacobson and Henry Hynoski.

The box next to McCoy's name was empty, but to the cheers of the Oakland Zoo, Pitt's student section, he stopped to check it. McCoy then signed autographs.

"I've been blown away by it," McCoy said of the student response during his official visit. "I never expected it to be like this. I didn't know the fans were crazy like this. I didn't know it would be this tremendous."
For your revised Pitt recruiting update, I point you to the official rankings, which have the Panthers' 2007 class ranked 9th in the country, ahead of Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, Auburn, WVU and PSU. Wannstache has now lined up (3) 5-star recruits and (8) 4-star recruits. I don't know how he does it. If Wanny was in my fraternity back in the day, he'd definitely be the rush chairman. The guy knows how to sell his program. Although I'm not sure I would let him coach our intramural football team on gameday.
All kidding aside, Wanny has assembled quite a bit of talent for the near future. I occasionally joke about his coaching methods, which I was never entirely sold on when he was an NFL coach, but his recruiting skills are ridiculous. I can only hope these guys can pan out, come together as a team, and remain academically eligible (as that may be an issue for a few Panthers and Panthers-to-be).
But back to the basketball side, the Panthers are riding high into a very tough upcoming week: tonight vs. UConn and Sunday vs. Marquette. Mike Cook looks mighty impressive (as advertised) and looks like he has a bit of a mean streak in him to boot. The Big East is down and Pitt is up. This may be the year to really make some noise in the postseason. Noise that has tempted us for the last five years.
So what else have I been up to?
Well, I watched hours and hours of advertisements for trucks, fast food, and cell phones this weekend, with a little bit of NFL playoff football played in small increments in-between the ads. I know I've been ranting about NFL in-game ads lately, but it's gone beyond the point of absurdity. And can someone explain why every automobile ad is for a truck? Do football fans not drive cars anymore?
With few exceptions, these playoffs have been a reflection of the 2006 NFL season: horrible, at times unwatchable, football. Count me among those duped by the Baltimore Ravens. I thought they had a legit chance to reach the Super Bowl (based on the regular season), but on Saturday they looked like the Same Old Ravens to me. Steve McNair got the Ravens further than Kyle Boller was able to, but in the end the Ravens suffered a familiar fate: severe lack of offense. This was the team that manhandled the smash-mouth Steelers not once, but twice? A Ravens team that could only muster 83 yards rushing against a historically bad Colts run defense? I thought it was an embarrassing performance by the Baltimore O.
I have a suggestion for the Ravens: dump Jamal Lewis. The guy has never been the same since his 2,000 yard season and subsequent time in the clink. Don't believe me? Check out these numbers:

Rushing Receiving
Year TM G Att Yards Y/A TD Rec Yards Y/R TD
2000 bal 16 309 1364 4.4 6 27 296 11.0 0
2002 bal 16 308 1327 4.3 6 47 442 9.4 1
2003 bal 16 387 2066 5.3 14 26 205 7.9 0
2004 bal 12 235 1006 4.3 7 10 116 11.6 0
2005 bal 15 269 906 3.4 3 32 191 6.0 1
2006 bal 16 314 1132 3.6 9 18 115 6.4 0
TOTAL 91 1822 7801 4.3 45 160 1365 8.5 2

The guy is finished. Yeah, he had 1,100 yards. Fantastic. Lots of good it did the Ravens on Saturday, when he totalled 53.

So Peyton Manning wins another postseason game, managing a 39 passer rating and failing to engineer a touchdown drive in the process. My question is this: if he wins or even makes the Super Bowl while playing horrible football, will the millions of critics get off his back or not?

In the other AFC game, the Patriots were busy dancing on the Charger logo, doing Shawne "Steroid Suspension" Merriman's dance after their upset win. I have a hard time when the media continues to single out the Patriots as a classy team. They are not. They talk trash, shove cameramen, and jump on logos just like every other team. Steeler fans, cover your ears: they do the same thing, as witnessed this year.

The Chargers, specifically Mr. Tomlinson, have a lot of nerve complaining about the Patriots. LT is put out that the Pats would show disrespect for an opponent. What, you mean like the respect Merriman shows when he has his mock seizure after vanquishing another quarterback? Or the respect Merriman showed when he sent a Lights Out T-Shirt and Hat and a bag of popcorn to Jason Taylor, the "clean" defensive player of the year?

LT was mad that the Patriots, three-time Super Bowl champions, didn't "act like they've been there before". Correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the dancers in question was Chad Scott, former burn-marked defensive back of your Pittsburgh Steelers. Another Pat in the mix was Reche Caldwell, whose previous experience in the playoffs was being eliminated or not even making it under Marty Schottenheimer. This was not Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi doing the dancing. So you might want to re-think that statement, TD Champ.

Maybe it was the fact that his protege finally got over the hump last year, but I thought Marty Schottenheimer would win at least one game in the playoffs this year. I think this team was the best, on paper, in the league this season. Unfortunately, games are not played on paper, video game screens, or computer simulations. They're played on fields, coached by men with real reputations. There's a reason why Bill Belichick is thought of like he's thought of. The same can be said for Marty. You are what you are.

I believe the "real" NFC championship was played on Saturday night, when the hottest team, Philly, played the sentimental favorite, New Orleans. That Reggie Bush hit was the stuff of legends. I can't believe the guy could move, let alone have the game he ended up with. His perceived toughness grew by leaps and bounds on that night. But what in the world was Andy Reid doing when he punted the ball away with 1:56 to go and down by 3? Considering his team just converted a 4th-and-10 before it was negated by penalty, I thought he would at least try on 4th-and-15. I was shocked by the call to punt. I was not shocked by the Saints converting the first down and ending the game on a kneel down. The football gods were friendly to Philadelphia, trying to spare them the inevitable QB controversy that would develop if the Eagles advanced much further.

On Sunday I inexplicably watched the Bears-Seahawks game, which took football back about three decades. Wow, are these teams bad. Although Rex Grossman is extremely fun to watch. As I took in the splendor of the Rex with Felipe Mondesi, the patriarch of the Mondesi family, I commented at how I felt Grossman was the ultimate wild card at QB. On any given dropback, he could either throw a backbreaking interception, cough up a horrendous fumble, or throw a spectacular touchdown by threading the needle. He's like Kordell Stewart. Not in the sense that he runs to beat you, but in the sense that when he's on, he's on...and when he's off, he's really off. That, my friends, is a Coach Killer. Much like Michael Vick, as a matter of fact. One last thing, which goes for Vick and Grossman: no matter how bad they are, their receivers are absolutely awful. How bad was that drop by Bernard Berrian?

Matt Hasselbeck, for all of his past accolades, was equally awful for Seattle. And his receivers, with a combined $113 million investment, came up with 9 catches on Sunday. Yes, I'm serious, the Seahawks receivers do make $119 million: Nate Burleson, $49 million. Deion Branch: $39 million. Darrell Jackson: $25 million. Bobby Engram: $6 million. Engram should fire his agent.

Don't cry for the Seahawks. I'm sure their fans find some way to twist their garbage performance into an indictment of the officiating.

So we have Indy/New England in yet another high-stakes game, and on the other side we get New Orleans/Chicago. That means potential Super Bowls of Indy/NO, Indy/Chicago, New England/NO, New England/Chicago. Most intriguing? I'd say Indy vs. New Orleans. The Manning Super Bowl story would be ginormous, but then again, so would a franchise so historically down as the Saints (and coming off a hurricane, to boot).

I also caught the Pens/Flyers game on Saturday, and I can say with certainty that I hate the Flyers more and more with each passing game. Peter Forsberg is probably at the top of my hated Flyer list, with Alexei Zhitnik a close second. I hate the Flyers so bad that I'm glad the Eagles lost, and I'm glad the Sixers stink. And you know the Phillies will collapse in 2007, just like they do every other year. Your city deserves that sports misery for that dirty, late-hitting disgrace of a hockey team. They are hockey's version of the Oakland Raiders: a team living on 1970s glory and goonery at a time when that recipe just doesn't work. Hope you enjoyed watching a real time on your ice.


Snakes on a Plane: Nowhere near as good as the hype would have you believe, but when Samuel Jackson finally dropped "the line", we rewound it at least three times. Predictable, yet entertaining. And another appearance by the ubiquitous Flex Alexander.

Egotrip's The White Rapper Show: It's on VH1's increasingly-addictive Celebreality block, which means it's rerun on a nightly basis. So you should have no problem finding it. Keep your eyes peeled for the guy named John Brown, a.k.a. "King of the Burbs", who promises a "Ghetto Revival". This guy has reality TV legend written all over him. Try and catch him on the first episode. Unbelievable.

A few links for ya:

Something to chew on until the next update...


The Oakland Zoo has officially started a blog

Dave Wannstedt has a big fan. A fan big enough to start a website campaigning for the Stache as the next Steeler head coach.


That incredibly bizarre Old Spice commercial featuring B-movie legend Bruce Campbell.


Geeves said...

you shouldn't be surprised raul. the ravens have long been a team that lived and died by the D's ability to create turnovers.

so can we FINALLY stop referring to Brian Billick as an "offensive genius"?

i think Indy/Saints would be a wicked awesome Miami style shootout...but I have ZERO faith in Manning's ability to beat NE.

Wannstedt is interesting like that...he's really a B+ coach on his best days, but he is a fabulous recruiter, which means his A+ recruits make him LOOK like an A+ coach on those days.

vinnie said...

Hey Raul, as much as you hate commercial-laden football games, you really need to pick-up a TiVo. I record NFL games and then start watching them about an hour after they start (while it's still recording of course). This way I can fast forward through all the commercials and the halftime show. I typically catch-up to the live broadcast around the two-minute warning in the forth quarter.

If I wait even longer to start watching the game, I have the added benefit of being able to fast-forwarding between plays; that way I don't have to hear idiots like Ian Eagle. Plus I can watch an entire NFL game in about 90 minutes.

Of course all of this is practically impossible to do during a Steelers game -- I barely even notice the commercials during Steelers games (unless I'm at at Heinz Field where it seems like the commercial breaks are like twice as long!).

Dirty Sanchez said...

Welcome back Raul.. Good to see a nice, lengthy post to start off the work week.

It's funny how certain coaches can just recruit their ass off, well above their ability to actually coach and gameplan.

Geeves is right on - if the Ravens defense doesn't score or give the offense a couple of short fields to work with, they usually don't win. It's just frustrating to watch the Colts go into Baltimore and match the Ravens' intensity after watching the Steelers get their tails kicked twice.

My fiancee just doesn't understand why I love the Jessica Simpson commercial. The ass smack, her pinning down the guy with that long, shapely leg.. Ok, I'll stop now.

Anonymous said...


Godd to learn that you aren't dead.

Your Father,


Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

First of all, McCoy has apparently told a few papers that he's leaning towards Pitt but his mind isn't 100% made up yet (sorry for the downer). Now let's all hope and pray that a FREAKIN HIGH SCHOOL KID goes to the college we want him to! (Following college recruiting, and yes I do it too, is kind of ridiculous when you think about it!).

Also, I agree about Marty getting a bunch of blame for this one. In the past, Marty-ball cost his team playoff wins. This time there was no conservative football, his team was in a position to win the game, and THEY blew it not him.... however, challenging the fumble on the int was dumb. Didn't cost them the game alone, but it was dumb.

And god, oh please dear sweet lord baby Jesus with a tuxedo T-shirt singing lead for Skynyrd, LET THE COLTS BEAT THE PATRIOTS THIS SUNDAY PLEEEEEEEASE!!! Hey, 4 Super Bowls in six years is sacred Steeler ground that cannot be tread upon by pretty boy Brady.

As for the Penguins, they are so inconsistent it bewilders me to no end.

Also, how come I always create a google account to post on here, and when I come back and enter my screen name it says it's not found and I have to create another google account? I've done this at least 8 times.

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

Great link to the recruiting site. Who knew Pitt's 07 class is ranked 9th?

Anonymous said...

Hold the phone, Marty-bashers.

ESPN is reporting that if he is canned in San Diego, the Miami Dolphins may be set to pounce.

I can hear it now, South Florida...


Justin said...

billick is a blowhard
anyone could have been considered an offensive genius in minnesota with randall cunningham, robert smith, cris carter, and randy moss