Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Randomization: 1/12/06

It's Mike McCarthy. While much of Packer Nation screams out a collective "Who?" at the hiring of McCarthy to be the team's new head coach, others are simply left to wonder if the right move was made. Much like with Minnesota's hiring of Brad Childress, only time will tell. McCarthy has a good offensive background, and he is one of a select few who were successful in getting through to Aaron Brooks (an average of 24.5 TD passes in the four years the two worked together in New Orleans). However, McCarthy's pedigree isn't nearly as impressive as either Jon Gruden or Andy Reid, two current head coaches who were virtually unknown as assistants before they got their respective breaks. McCarthy has never coached in a Super Bowl. He did, however, impress Packers GM Ted Thompson with his plan for the organization. He has some history with Brett Favre, though it's not believed that was a major consideration in Thompson's hiring decision. While there is a lot of uncertainty, I do like the fact that Thompson went around and conducted a large number of interviews before making his decision, and I like the fact that McCarthy is a strong-minded, no-nonsense kind of coach. I don't think the Packers need a Parcells-esque disciplinarian, but they also don't need a softie. Sounds like McCarthy does well in the "rapport with players" department. As long as he isn't trying to be everyone's friend, he has a chance to do well in Green Bay.

The Olympics are coming!! The Games begin one month from today, on February 11, in Italy. I'm getting stoked. Yesterday, NBC announced their extensive coverage schedule, which includes over 400 hours of programming on a number of different channels. NBC will use cable networks CNBC, MSNBC, and USA to televise events live during the day, while NBC will carry extensive tape-delay coverage in primetime. I think my favorite days of NBC coverage will be February 12, 15, 18, and 25, for those days aren't scheduled to feature any figure skating. NBC says all 54 men's and women's hockey games will air live somewhere, which is awesome, though it seems to me that it will cause a direct hit in my productivity, especially if the US entries play well.

Just go, Reggie. I'm sure the taste of last week's Rose Bowl loss to Vince Young U Texas still lingers. I'm sure you'd love to go out on top as a national champion, just as Young has decided to do. But learn from your teammate. If Matt Leinart had come out last year, he would have been the number one pick. There wouldn't have even been a debate. Instead, he'll be lucky to go in the top three. Bush's stock can't be any higher than it is right now, and another season of getting banged around the college fields won't help him one bit. The NFL awaits. Make the move and be the top pick in the draft.

Wisconsin is winning again. I'm sure he'll get some accolades at some point, but it's amazing to me how Bo Ryan has done what he has done at Wisconsin without really getting any national media publicity. He's not even in the top tier of coaches in the Big Ten when you look at how they're thought of around the country. Despite losing a number of key contributors from last year's Elite Eight run, Bucky is off to a 13-2 start (3-0 in the Big Ten) after holding off Minnesota 64-62 Tuesday night in Minneapolis. The Badgers gave North Carolina a major scare in their regional final in Syracuse last year, but were written off by most after losing Mike Wilkinson and Clayton Hansen, among others. Once again, though, the Badgers have successfully retooled. With Alando Tucker and Brian Butch inside, along with Kammron Taylor outside, the Badgers are scoring more effectively than they did a year ago, and the defense hasn't wavered one bit. With Ohio State next week and more tough Big Ten games looming, now isn't the time to proclaim the Badgers as a serious candidate for a number one regional seed when the NCAA Tournament comes calling in March. That time, though, could be coming in the next month. With how they are scoring (76.4 PPG), this might be the most dangerous Wisconsin team Bo Ryan has coached.

Speaking of the Big Ten...The Gophers are behind the eight ball after the Bucky loss. Minnesota is 0-2 in the Big Ten. Realistically, the Gophers are going to need to pull an upset or two if they want to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota, again, has zero non-conference wins to lean on. They need to make their case now. They need to win the rest of their league home games (Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois), and steal at least three road games. That would get them to eight conference wins and 17 overall wins. That might be good enough to get them in the Dance as long as they win at least once in the Big Ten Tournament. For Minnesota, the magic number is nine. They need a total of at least nine conference wins (including in the league tournament) to give themselves a real shot at making the Field of 65.

Coming later this week...College hockey weekend preview, plus a look at the NFL Divisional Playoff games. Do I have the guts to pick Carolina over Chicago? Stay tuned.

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