College football is over. That is never a good thing. The NFL playoffs are fun, but I hope the league realizes that they would never be able to hold a candle to a college football tournament. Too bad that the suits that are running college football are too set in their own (misguided) beliefs to understand that themselves. Someday, we'll have the playoff in I-A college football, but it's going to take Notre Dame, Michigan, USC, or Florida/Florida State/Miami being royally screwed over by the current system to make it happen. I like Auburn and all, but no one outside of Alabama gave a crap about them being screwed last year.
The BCS title game was one of the best college football games of the last decade. Many "experts" will continue to point to the USC-Notre Dame game from October as the best of the season. Why? USC-Texas had it all, including the occasional shot of great defense. And, fittingly, the game ended on a Vince Young TD run. Young was incredible, saving his team time and time again after the Longhorns' defense faltered in the second half. His last act was his best, as he sold the pass on fourth and five before sprinting untouched to the corner of the end zone for the winning six. Meanwhile, there was enough of the other stuff (player mistakes, officiating controversy, questionable coaching) to keep people talking about this game for a long time. It's a rare game, in that you could watch it over and over again and still be highly entertained by the great athleticism on display by both teams on both sides of the ball.
Young would be a fool to return to college. I agree with most NFL scouts who have opined on the subject of Young's pro prospects. The kid has great leadership skills, is extremely competitive, and possesses superb athleticism. However, Young has a lot of work to go in developing his throwing skills. Because of his strange throwing motion and the questions it will bring up, it's hard to say that Young is ready to be an NFL starter today. However, that doesn't change the idea that Young should come out now. He's not going to get his stock to rise any higher than it did with his performance on Wednesday night. He probably vaulted himself into the top 3-5 players taken, and there's a solid case he may be the first QB taken, ahead of USC's Matt Leinart. Under those circumstances, why stay in school? Let the team that drafts you pay you to develop in their system for a year before you become a starter. Leinart stayed in school a year ago, and while it was a nice warm-and-fuzzy story for college athletics that someone would pass up being the #1 pick in the draft to stay in school, Leinart only hurt himself, as there is virtually no chance he'll be the first player taken this year.
How fitting. In a year wrought with officiating controversies, especially in the bowl games, the college football season ends with a game wrought with officiating controversy. Was Reggie Bush's lateral actually a forward pass? Was Vince Young down when he pitched to Selvin Young for Texas' first TD? Was the Texas Defender Whose Name I Forgot down with possession of the ball on a potential interception before it popped out? Was the Texas Receiver Whose Name I Forgot in possession of the ball before he dropped it in the fourth quarter? The Texas TD play is especially rotten, because it could have and should have been reviewed. The apparent claim is that there was a technical problem in the replay booth, which makes me wonder why the game wasn't stopped so the problem could be repaired and the play reviewed.
And on one more USC-Texas note...where was Reggie Bush during USC's last drive? No, not the two-play drive that ended when the clock ran out. The drive that ended with the failed fourth-down run by LenDale White. How, when the game and the national title are on the line, do you have the Heisman Trophy winner standing on the sideline while someone else tries to run for the first down? Did Pete Carroll magically revert back to the form we saw him in when he coached in the NFL?
The Vikings have picked a head coach. Not surprisingly, it's Philly offensive coordinator Brad Childress. Childress, 49, has a good track record of offensive coaching, even though he's never called the plays in the NFL. Serving as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator and QB coach, Childress has gotten accolades for his work in developing Donovan McNabb into one of the league's top signal-callers, and he was thought to be practically a shoo-in to be a head coach this year, as at least four teams were interested. The Vikings got him in the fold before he could go to interviews in Green Bay and Houston, and reports are that Childress has agreed to a five-year contract. Viking fans will have mixed feelings about this. He's not the big name some of them probably wanted, but it's hard to deny the idea that it's a good hire for Minnesota. Childress has Upper Midwest ties (served as offensive coordinator at Wisconsin from 1992-1998), and his West Coast offense should be a good fit for a Minnesota team that has good possession-style receivers, but lacks the deep threat they had when they had Randy Moss. One can assume Childress will take the reins of the offense and call the plays, but fans shouldn't worry about something trivial like that. Reid is one of the best play-callers in the NFL, and he didn't start doing it until he became a head coach in Philly.
The Packers' search continues. And a name I didn't mention earlier in the week may have taken himself to the top of the list in Green Bay. Dallas assistant Sean Payton interviewed yesterday, and word is that Payton may be the favorite to take the job vacated this week when Mike Sherman was fired. Payton has an extensive offensive background, having worked with John Gruden in Philadelphia, Jim Fassel in New York, and Bill Parcells in Dallas. Payton's experience with quarterbacks is an asset, as he had a hand in big seasons from Kerry Collins with the Giants and Quincy Carter, who threw for over 3,000 yards as a starter in Dallas, along with Drew Bledsoe's good 2005 season. Reports are that Payton impressed Packers' GM Ted Thompson, but only time will tell if he returns for a second interview. Thompson has a full plate of interviews in the coming days, with San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy, Cleveland offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, and current Packer defensive coordinator Jim Bates among those expected to interview. Thompson needs to move quickly. One candidate (Childress) already blew off an interview because he decided to take another job. Thompson can't afford to lose another viable candidate.
The wrong guy won MVP. I really don't care much, but Shaun Alexander should not have won the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. Tiki Barber was the most valuable running back in the league, as he practically carried the Giants' offense during the frequent times where Eli Manning was struggling to throw the ball accurately to actual teammates. Not only that, but one can make the case that neither was as valuable to his team as Tom Brady was to the Patriots. I am not a Brady fan, nor am I fan of the attention he garners, but it's impossible to deny the idea that the Patriots would be absolutely sunk without Brady. He held everything together when defensive players were dropping left and right, and when the running game featured some Heath Evans guy.
No medal for Team USA. The World Juniors ended with Canada waxing Russia for the gold, and Finland beat the Americans 4-2 in the bronze medal game. See the post from Wednesday for more on Team USA's failures at the World Junior championships. Some tried to pin last year's disappointment on the coaching staff. With three different hand-picked guys running things this year, it's going to be a hard argument to make stick. And if it is the fault of the coaches, then the people who pick the coaches need to be held accountable for their apparently poor choices.
Will Ron Artest play again this season? Certainly not for Indiana. The Pacers are dead-set on trading him, but they are struggling in finding a suitable trade partner. The Timberwolves appear out of the running, as they don't want to give up Wally Sczcerbiak, who serves now as the only player on the team not named "Kevin Garnett" that can consistently score. Golden State coach Mike Montgomery has denied rumors that his team is at the front of the short line, and the Pacers aren't talking. For the time being, Artest isn't playing. He's been inactive for 13 games now, and will almost certainly never again suit up for the Pacers. It's too bad, really. It's one of a few mistakes Larry Bird has made since he started running the team. He should have traded Artest during the offseason when his reputation was poor, instead of waiting until it was obvious that he would have to move Artest.
And finally, congratulations to Duluth East boys' basketball star Cory Johnson. The senior, who is bound for Iowa State next year, broke Rick Rickert's all-time career scoring record at the school Tuesday night. He's a great kid and a fun player to watch, and I hope he continues to add to his record. He's currently 11th all-time in Minnesota boys' basketball in scoring, and he's certain to pass Sam Jacobson very soon.