A stunning story in the world of sports is the tragic death of Wales soccer manager Gary Speed. Speed, only 42 years old, was a former Premier League player and Welsh international. He was reportedly found hanged in his home on the weekend. Tributes immediately poured in for Speed from all over the UK and beyond. Perhaps the most wrenching piece of video involving this awful news comes from Sky Sports News, where reporter Bryn Law visibly breaks down in tears discussing Speed's death and his correspondence with the late Wales manager...
Just a terrible story, certainly thoughts and prayers go out to all those touched by the tragedy.
The Urban Meyer to Ohio State reports really kicked into high gear when Buckeye blog Eleven Warriors sent out this tweet eleven days ago, saying ESPN analyst Urban Meyer was 99.7% sure to take the Ohio State head coaching job. As much as Sports by Brooks wants to take credit for breaking the story, it seems like Eleven Warriors had the reports first. (Which has developed an interesting case of blogger on blogger violence in its own right.) Since then, what has evolved is a quagmire of reports, sources, and denials that makes Baghdad Bob look like a public relations savant. I've lived through 62 Brett Favre retirements and comebacks and this is by far the messiest story I can ever remember. Hopefully it ends today and Urban Meyer is FINALLY announced publicly as Ohio State head coach. But that doesn't mean there haven't been nauseating twists and turns along the way. Let's take a look back, shall we?
*Urban Meyer's First Denial, November 19th
After the initial Eleven Warriors report, the question had to be put directly to Urban Meyer with regards to him becoming the next coach at Ohio State. At least ESPN had him address it publicly (not so on the next Saturday as you'll see later). Broadcast partner Dave Pasch asked Meyer about the OSU reports during the Michigan/Nebraska game. Here's what Urban had to say via SBNation:
"Well there's no truth to that," Meyer said of the rumors. "I know it's that time of year, but I have not been offered any job and I have certainly not accepted any job."
After that first denial we learned one thing, Urban Meyer isn't a good actor. Immediately, top college football writers questioned Urban's denial...
*More reports keep pouring in, November 22-23
There were some rumblings that Scout had the Urban to OSU story as early as Eleven Warriors, but the first word on Twitter from Scout's Ohio State writer Bill Greene on November 22nd called Meyer to OSU a done deal.
Meyer, stubbornly sticking to his guns, denied the story AGAIN:
"I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place," Meyer said in a statement. "I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further."
Hopefully Urban and his family (ya know, the one that he left coaching for) enjoyed a peaceful Thanksgiving. If you're still following along, I'm going to warn you, here's where things get difficult...
As we march towards an SECgasm of epic proportions, the college football regular season approaches its conclusion. Conference championships and the final regular season games are next week and the bowl season is right around the corner. Leave us some thoughts on how you'd like to see the Pammies and AA cover the bowls and the committee (uhhh... that's me I guess...) will take it under consideration. Here are your Week 13 nominees...
1) "I know a lot of Aggies who are happy they aren't blowing out (Texas)." - Craig James (via sctvman) Even for Craig James this makes no sense.
2) "A Touchdown by a Holgerson offense is like a Kardashian with one photo" - Joe Tessitore (via jleimer)
The below video shows why Bob Costas is so polarizing. Much of what he does is of the highest standard, but this uppity essay/rant destroying celebrations in the NFL and lifting up the No Fun League will surely divide opinion. His erudite halftime essays are usually worth little more than a trip to the fridge, but this dissertation dissing NFL celebrations quickly drew much praise and criticism on Twitter. The subject of Costas' silky smooth venom was Bills WR Stevie Johnson for his bizarre TD celebration mocking Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. A little tasteless? Probably. But did you laugh under your breath? I'm willing to bet yes.
Personally, if Bob Costas, Roger Goodell and the like didn't turn every NFL celebration into the Scopes Trial, we wouldn't have this huge problem of supposedly selfish celebrations. Nobody thought the Fun Bunch were horrible human beings after all, right? (Unless you believe group high fives are inherently evil, I suppose.) Guys wildly celebrate goals all the time in soccer, so why can't people be happy and express themselves when they do something good? As long as they keep their pants on that is...
"For those of you too busy keeping up with the Kardashians to notice, we live in a culture that in many ways grows more stupid and graceless by the moment. Sports both reflects and influences that sorry trend, so on playing fields everywhere, true style is in decline, while mindless exhibitionism abounds.
In the late ’60's, the Giants had a receiver named Homer Jones. He invented the spike -- and it was great; a simple, elegant punctuation that somehow has devolved into this…(video of excessive celebrations)
Given the tone of the times, it's probably too much to expect that most players would appreciate that back in the day, this guy (Barry Sanders) was much cooler than this guy (Mark Gastineau), or that there is a difference between spontaneous and/or good-natured displays of enthusiasm and calculated displays of obnoxious self-indulgence. No, that train has already gone so far down the wrong track, there's probably no turning back.
So our suggestion here is a more modest one: hey, knuckleheads, is it too much to ask that you confine your buffoonery to situations that don't directly damage your team? Week after week, game after game, we see guys who think nothing of incurring penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, costing their team’s valuable yardage, even late in close games.
Today's most conspicuous culprit: Buffalo's Stevie Johnson, who after a TD catch versus the Jets, thought it would be a good idea to go Marcel Marceau, pantomiming, among other things, Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. But in this case, it was Johnson, who shot himself in the foot, as his display cost his team a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff. And given a short field, the Jets proceeded to score in a critical game that wound up, 28-24, New York.
Which raises this question: where are the coaches in all this? Guys are routinely benched or called out for blown assignments. When is a coach going to make an overdue statement and sit a guy down on the grounds of pure selfishness and unprofessionalism detrimental to his team?
By the way, late in the loss to the Jets, Johnson dropped a pass that could have led to a Buffalo win. Shockingly, he didn’t follow it with a rehearsed “my bad” dance of apology. Maybe he just forgot."
ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, the great orator who took over for Joe Morgan on Sunday Night Baseball, may be leaving our living rooms and making a return to the dugout. According to WEEI.com, he's one of two remaining candidates the Boston Red Sox are considering for their vacant skipper position, which they'd like to have filled before Winter Meetings begin next Monday:
According to a team source, the Red Sox owners met with Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont earlier this week. He and ESPN broadcaster Bobby Valentine are the two managerial candidates who have met with team owners in the second round of the interview process. As of now, the source said, there are no plans to conduct further interviews (either with Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo or with another candidate), though as the late emergence of Valentine in the process suggests, such a possibility cannot be dismissed entirely.
The team has yet to make a decision. However, with the field narrowed significantly, the team seems likely to announce a hiring next week, prior to the start of the winter meetings.
Some are recklessly speculating that Valentine is the favorite, but Valentine said he hasn't heard a word. Lamont said he hasn't spoken with anyone from the Red Sox front office since his trip to New York on Wednesday to meet with Red Sox chairman Tom Warner and doesn't know "what their time frame is right now."
I don't know what direction the Red Sox are going to go here, but it'd be a shame if we lost our "best" Sunday Night Baseball analyst before he bestowed us more nuggets like this, and this, and this, and this. Personally, I'm pulling for Gene Lamont.
In what may be one of the better live broadcasting follies of the year, CBS focused in on/borderline stalked San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak as he prepared for a potential game-winning kick in the final minute. And by preparing, I mean taking a covert leak with the help of a wingman/equipment trainer. While it's possible there is another explanation, the footage below seems to be pretty convincing:
Novak was not called upon to kick a field goal at the end of regulation, but did miss a 50+ yard try in the waning moments of overtime, setting up the Broncos and you-know-who with great field possession. The Broncos and Tebow ended up capitalizing, setting up an interesting blog chatter showdown as TebowMania will now have to fight for attention with Novak's whiz.
With guys not wanting to go back to the locker room (especially the kicker) and not wanting to just piss in their pants (probably hard to pass off as "sweat" when you're the kicker), Novak improvised. Frankly, if it wasn't for CBS, I think he would have gotten away with it. Alas, it didn't work.
I would imagine a lot of us can sympathize with the scenario, although the ridiculous need to urinate is typically the problem of the elderly or drunken man. I guess that Gatorade was just too damn good to pass up and Novak was apprehensive about attempting a very important kick with the thought of desperately needing to pee on his mind.
The announcers never acknowledged the scene and I am guessing they just didn't see it because it's too funny to really ignore without even a chuckle.
The million dollar question: Is he just unleashing the stream on the grass, dirt, or drain, or was he containing with a cup?
With all the football on Black Friday, Screengrab Snafus move temporarily to Saturday this week. And yes, Skip Bayless and First Take's obsession with Tim Tebow is just as creepy on the weekends too. Let us never speak of #WhenSkipMeetsTebow again. *shudders*
In case you didn't know, the Harbaughs coached against each other on Thanksgiving night. With it being the most hyped coaching matchup in NFL history (OMG! THEY'RE BROTHERS!!! AND THEY'RE COACHING AGAINST EACH OTHER!!), you'd think ESPN could at least tell Jim and John apart...
Reader Will Law sends this snafu and note via e-mail (cheap plug: you can send us tips through the e-mail links in the left sidebar!)...
"After Ed Reed intercepted Andy Dalton at the end of the first half for a TOUCHBACK, CBS ran a box at the bottom of the screen noting that it was Reed's fourth career TOUCHDOWN against Cincy. It would have been his fourth, had he taken it the 100+ yards. But instead we had a funny error on the screen. Keep up the good work."
And now for this week's section devoted to mistaken identities, the man below is not Christian Ponder. Instead it's Kyle Boller. Ironically, this isn't the first time Boller has been accused of impersonating an NFL quarterback. Boom, roasted...
In the middle of the night last night, after a marathon negotiating session, the NBA and its players came to an agreement to end the 149 day lockout. The agreement is tentative, but all signs point to the deal being finalized and professional basketball returning on Christmas Day. Training camp will open in early December and there will be a 66 game season. Here's more details from Howard Beck of the New York Times:
As a frantic Black Friday gave way to a sleepy Saturday morning in Midtown Manhattan, the biggest deal of all was consummated in a law office tucked between F. A. O. Schwarz and the Apple Store.
With handshakes, sighs and weary smiles, the N.B.A. and its players resolved a crippling labor dispute, allowing them to reopen their $4 billion-a-year business in time for the holidays. A 66-game season will start on Christmas Day, ending the second-longest lockout in league history.
The deal was reached at about 3 a.m. Saturday, on the 149th day of the lockout, after a final 15-hour bargaining session at the law offices of Weil, Gotshal and Manges.
All hope appeared to be lost when talks broke off recently and the players rejected the "final offer" of the owners. However, in spite of the pending legal entanglement, the two sides apparently continued to work together towards an agreement. However it came into being, the season appears to have been rescued at the 11th hour. Let's celebrate with the help of our friend Kevin Harlan...
Brady Green: Youtube. Perhaps nothing has enhanced my fandom and knowledge of sports more than Youtube. Today, if something remotely interesting happens, heroes from around the world will likely have uploaded the video to Youtube within minutes of it taking place where I can watch it for free an unlimited amount of times. The open sharing of new and classic sports clips along with cat videos is all the evidence I need to know that modern-day humanity is still decent at its core.
Ben Koo: I am thankful the United States government cracked down on online poker and not online sportsbooks. Kidding aside (kind of), this one is easy. The NFL Sunday Ticket is a luxury that has now become a necessity of mine similar to air conditioning, high speed internet, and HD. The Red Zone Channel allows me to consume a copious amount of football in the most efficient way possible. With the package as well as a second television, Sundays are a huge event for me and I can't imagine suddenly not having it in my life. The best part is that if you have a pair, you can get the package for free and some other bells and whistles by threatening to leave DirectTv so it's not as if I am doling out tons of money to enjoy this great service. As I like to say, I can't tell if it's good or bad that I work 80 hours a week and watch 20 hours of football a week.
Dave Kelsey: I would have to say that I'm most thankful for the advances in technology/Web 2.0. Where else can you come together with so many like-minded individuals and discuss ad nauseum your favorite players, teams, sporting events, etc. Feedback and conversations with fellow fans are instantaneous and can be incredibly fulfilling and gratifying. No matter where you live, and as long as you've got an internet/satellite connection, you can always follow and discuss your favorite teams. It doesn't get any easier for people to enjoy sports than we've all got it now.
Matt Yoder: This one is easy for me - NFL Sunday Ticket. As a Saints fan in the middle of Ohio, I rarely ever got to watch an actual Saints game growing up. Maybe there was a Sunday night game on TNT or ESPN once during the year and one other on network television. That was it. The Saints never played on Monday Night Football. Since I was plugged into Sunday Ticket though in 2000, I've been able to watch almost every game. It's changed my life for the better (in a sort of sad, total-lack-of-reality sort of way). I'm most thankful though to watch 16 games of Drew Brees every year versus only a couple games of Billie Joe Hobert for my Who Dat experience.
Ryan Yoder: I'm thankful for a feast of choices in these days of sports on TV. From expanded freedom to watch online (ESPN3 and others) to a renewed commitment by ESPN and others to live telecasts, there's never been more sports to consume. As someone who is happy watching football, futbol, Aussie Rules, and many more, it's like every day is its own Thanksgiving feast for sports fans. And no manufactured debate can ever replace the real life drama and emotion of live sports.
What about watching sports are you most thankful for?
Happy extended Thanksgiving weekend. This is the last full week of the college football regular season so make sure you bring the nominees throughout Friday and Saturday. You can check the full sked and updated standings at the links below.