Wednesday, February 21, 2007

American Idol Performances - Week 1

With this year only being the second full year I've watched American Idol, I can't judge on how the first four seasons were like, but I have a feeling they started out a little better than this one. The guys end of the performances were not so great, maybe two or three that were good, but nothing spectacular. I thought there was some great potiental too, Sonjaya was the biggest let down. You could tell he was about to piss his pants. Sundance really stunk up the place, and Chris Sligh got into it with Simon, and its only the first week! The few performances I did like were Blake Lewis and Phil Stacey. Blake did well with a tough song by Keane, "Somewhere Only We Know" and pulled out a good performance, but nothing spectacular. Phil started off really bland with Edwin McCain "I Could Not Ask For More" but really put together a nice vocal performance once the chorus and bridge came around. Other than that, they were all just OK. Jared Cotter attempted Brian McKnight, and didn't do terrible, but I think he has a rich, smooth voice, and if he continues to pick good songs, he could go far. My early favorite, Chris Sligh, did not really impress me that much. The song choice was fun to perform, but I don't think the overall performance was the best of the guys' group. My picks to go home this week will have to be Sundance Head and Chris Richardson.

The gals, on the other hand, totally rocked the house big time. Much more exciting performances overall from the ladies than that of the men. Stephanie Edwards got things started off on the right foot, and most of the remaining ladies followed. Definitely the best performance, and everyone can agree, was from Lakisha Jones. She let it all out, and I doubt there is anything she couldn't sing. Melinda Doolittle also did extremely well, proving attitude isn't the end all be all. A word of advice to the ladies; no Celine Dion PLEASE! Sappy, slow, and heart-wrenching songs do not appeal to a lot of your viewers. Especially me. Pick a song to have fun with and give energy through, not to just stand behind the mic and force out notes, which is what a few of the girls tried to do, even with upbeat songs. My favorite girl now is definitely Leslie Hunt. Not only does she have a unique attractiveness to her, she has a darn good voice, and "Natural Woman" fit real well. Unfortunately, two girls must leave the competition, and I am predicting that Haley Scarnato and Nicole Tranquillo will be those two. A couple of gorgeous ladies, but it didn't work for them on Wednesday.

Stay tuned after the results show where I will have my quick blurb on my reaction of the results and expectations for next week.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the SEC

Saturday, February 17 2007. Most of the population of the southern states, from Florida to Arkansas will remember this date for a variety of reasons. If, however, you are outside the threshold of the great south, don't feel left out; I will walk through a Saturday that will make, break, or just flat out kill an athletic program.
Let's begin with ...

Frank Broyles to Retire at Arkansas
Basically, Broyles is gone. After a half-century at Arkansas in one form another, whether it had been coaching the late great Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys (no wonder they operate their programs identically ...), or hiring coaches such as Lou Holtz, Jimmy Johnson, Eddie Sutton, and Nolan Richardson as the athletic director. Despite Broyles' much famed success as a coach and an AD, he has been heavily criticized by the Arkansas fan base over the past few years over the lack of success with the football program, along with head football coach Houston Nutt. Following Arkansas' breakout performance in the 2006 season, winning ten consecutive games after falling to Southern California the first game of the season, the SEC West title, and a New Year's Day bowl game, the state of Arkansas still were not happy. The drama surrounding the departure of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, and the probable departure of highly-recruited quarter back Mitch Mustain wasn't handled as expected from the board of trustees and the fan base. Rumors early in the week suggested Broyles had until Saturday to state his resignation or will be forced from the school by the board. Too many Arkansans, this is the greatest news since Nolan Richardson was fired (but we all see how well that decision fared). Broyles' retirement will take effect at the end of the 2007 calendar year.
Frank Broyles is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Broyles assistances while a head coach went on to win a combined 40 conference titles, 5 National Championships and 5 Super Bowls.

Number 1 Ranked Florida Tossed by Vanderbilt in Nashville
Florida came into Saturday's game a perfect 11-0 in Southeastern Conference play and riding the nation's longest win-streak at 17. Obviously, the team already penciled in win number 12 and add one to the win streak before stepping on the court. Florida played from behind the entire game, their biggest lead of only 5 points 5 minutes into the game. Florida's lack of support from its starting five, all of which who average double digits on the season, along with Vandy's outstanding guard play from Byars and Foster (24 points a piece) spelled out Florida's first SEC lost of the season, and on the road in a surprisingly tough arena to play in, especially carrying the number one ranking in the nation. A stat that really stuck out to me was this: Noah only played 21 minutes and scored 15. Reserve center played 22 minutes and scored a mere 2 points. That might have not been the key stat in their loss, but ... Florida will have to have much more bench support if they are to make another Final Four or even a National Championship run (Florida's bench:52 minutes, 13 points). That also lies upon the shoulders of the starters to stay out of foul trouble, which is what tagged Noah. Florida's season is long from over, of course. But, the loss today definately pointed out that this team is human. They can be stopped. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a power house team that has to do it (since the 2000 Finals loss, Florida did not make it to the Sweet 16 once until their title run in 2006). No jinx or anything, but, at the current pattern, it will be 2012 before Florida makes it past the Sweet 16 again.
Vanderbilt was the first team to celebrate a victory over Florida in 2007; the Gators last loss - December 17, 2006 against in-state rival Florida State.

If you didn't get a picture of how big of impact this Saturday was for most of the south-east, then there is no other way to paint it. For Arkansas fans, this either means the beginning of the end, or the beginning to a new Arkansas Razorbacks. This is essentially like losing Jerry Jones or George Steinbrenner; American icons in sporting ownerships. His accomplishments aside, a majority of the Razorback nation is relieved Broyles will be nothing but history to Arkansas in the year coming. That is, unless he dies first.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

American Idol Returns!

All I can say, "it's about time!" I think this will be yet another good and memorable year for Idol. I am not totally sure who my favorite is this year (last year, Taylor had me from "I was born on the river,"), but if I were forced, Chris Sligh would get my nod. Like Taylor, he doesn't quite have that look of being a great singer, but he is. I don't like to make premature predictions, so I will wait at least until next week before I figure out who will be in the top 6 on the guys' side. One thing I feel this season is lacking is a Chris Daughtry/Bo Bice type of singer. Most of the guys are more pop, jazz, or R&B sounding, but I will still stand by my comment on this being a memorable season.

As for the ladies, lots of great looking ones for sure, and again, as it was last year, I think there is more talent on the guys' side. But, you never know. I would like to see a girl comeback and get it. There isn't really ONE girl that stands out as far as singing. Looks, that's another story. Miss Jordin Sparks (my nominee for this season's Lisa Tucker, I mean they look JUST ALIKE!) is absolutely beautiful, not to mention she can belt it out. So, I guess she can be my fave at the moment. I am eager to hear all the girls sing, because I may be surprised at what I hear from some. Thank goodness we do not have another Pickler this season. That might have ruined it for me. Oh, and no Kevin Covais either! WOHOO, this could be a much better season for Idol after all.

Check out to see all the contestants' profiles and photos. Be sure to watch the guys perform on Tuesday and be ready to vote for you favorite. Check back each week prior to vote offs to get my insight on each performance and who I would send home and which girl I want to take home.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NFL Offseason Report

The NFL Offseason has begun, and so far, has been filled with its share of activity.

The main story of the first week has been the firing of Coach Marty Schottenheimer from the San Deigo Chargers on Tuesday 13 February. This comes after an NFL best 14-2 record, yet a second-round dismissal from the playoffs, courtesy of the New England Patriots. Schottenheimer ends his 5-year tenure at San Deigo without a postseason win, adding to his infamous resume of being unsucessful in the playoffs. Schottenheimer will still receive $4 million from San Diego to not coach in 2007, which is probably likely, after Schottenheimer stating on ESPNews on Tuesday he is not sure if coaching still lies in his future.
Early speculation says that former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is a possibility for the void, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, but John Clayton suggests that neither Parcells or USC coach Pete Caroll would be candidates because of GM A.J. Smith's unwillingness to hand over full control of the team.

Key coaching moves this off-season including the Dallas Cowboys' hiring of Wade Phillips, who was assistant to Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego, and Pittsburgh Steelers' decision on head coach Mike Tomlin, after each team lost Hall-of-Fame bound head coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Cowher. Lane Kiffin, Cam Cameron, Ken Whisenhunt, and Bobby Petrino will all make their head coaching debut in the NFL in 2007 after being hired to the Raiders, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Falcons respectively. Petrino and Cameron both have college head coaching experience, Petrino at Louisville and Cameron at Indiana. Kiffin, at age 31, became the youngest coach in the NFL since the NFL-AFL merger.

After the Colts won Super Bowl XLI, many doubters were finally assured that Peyton Manning had the "monkey" off his back. However, the question that also comes up is can Peyton do it again, much more, can the Colts do it again? The Colts have $200,000 (before Manning's restructured contract lends $8 million to the cap) in salary cap room, which doesn't leave a lot considering the number of valuable unrestricted free agents the Colts are dealing with this off-season, including Ricky Proehl, Terrance Wilkins, Rob Morris, Nick Harper, Dominic Rhodes, Rocky Boiman, James Mungro, Dan Klecko, Cato June, and Dwight Freeney. Rhodes, seeming to be the biggest loss if he decides to leave the Colts for a starring role elsewhere, has had mixed responses on whether he would rather stay and back up Joseph Addai, or leave for a starting position. The loss of June could also account for some valuable line backers the Colts have lost in previous years. Freeney, who received the franchise tag last year, will more than likely get tagged again. The Colts need to focus on how to keep Rhodes around, in case Addai is injured, he is a veteran who has proved he can carry the load of hand offs and be a starter, which is the main reason in a possible decision to leave.

With the combine just around the corner, there is sure to be more and more talk about who will get the number one draft pick. With Oakland holding the first pick, it would not be a surprise for them to draft Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, since the Randy Moss situation might end up in a trade. If Oakland can get Aaron Brooks in a proven system, having Johnson would turn this team completely around, considering the monster of a defense that is already in place. If Johnson is the first pick, there would be no doubt that LSU QB JaMarcus Russell would go to Detroit, considering they haven't exactly had firm lock the starter. With the receivers in place, Detroit could turn into a good offensive team with Russell behind center. However, if Oakland decides to pass on Johnson and take Russell first pick, that would shape up my top five board:
1. Oakland - JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
2. Detroit - Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
3. Tampa Bay - Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
4. Cleveland - Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
5. Arizona - Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas