- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports:
• Florida put itself in position to win another national championship with its win over Alabama in the SEC title game. Oklahoma did the same by putting up another 60-plus show, beating Missouri in the Big 12 title game. The Florida-Oklahoma championship game should be something special. Tim Tebow was Mr. Clutch in the fourth quarter against the Tide, making so many big plays against one of the top defenses in the nation. Tebow increased his chances of winning the Heisman. Sam Bradford made his presence in the Heisman race felt against the Tigers. Wow, there will be some drama when the Heisman is awarded on Saturday.
• I was so impressed by number one North Carolina in its blowout win over Michigan State. My friends, the Tar Heels looked like an NBA team! Tyler Hansbrough appears to be healthy and he put on a show against two ranked teams this season, Notre Dame and Michigan State. Ty Lawson has been outstanding, handling and distributing the rock, also scoring in transition. This team does everything well. Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams has a special club ready to make a run at another national title.
• How about a salute to the Big Ten on its basketball success Saturday. It was a great day for the conference. Ohio State upsets Notre Dame and Luke Harangody was in the lineup for the Irish. Michigan avenges an earlier loss to the Dukies, stunning Coach K's club in Ann Arbor. Illinois had a blowout city win over Georgia. It was a major day for Big Ten basketball.
• The Blue Devils beat the Wolverines at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer championship, 71-56. The rematch was a different story for John Beilein and company as DeShawn Sims had a huge game; he scored 28 points and grabbed 12 boards. Michigan prevailed in Ann Arbor over the top five squad, 81-73. The Wolverines have an impressive resume with Ws over UCLA and Duke; pretty solid for a team which struggled to beat Savannah State! How do you figure that one out?
• Manny Pacquiao showed why he is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, totally dominating Oscar De La Hoya. The Phillipine hero was so impressive, many ringsider observers felt the Golden Boy didn't even win one round. I believe it is time for De La Hoya to hang up the gloves and call it a day. He doesn't have much else to prove as he meant a lot to the sport of boxing, from winning an Olympic gold to fighting the best of the best. He will be successful as a promoter, contributing to the sport he loves. I don't see any reason people would pay big money to be in another pay-per-view event after this loss.
• Plaxico Burress is a good example of an athlete who thinks he is bigger than the game. The Giants had dealt with their talented receiver's indiscretions time after time this season. Too often, he was in the headlines for missing practice, making bad judgments and now the gun incident. I felt Tom Coughlin and the team's administration had no choice but to put him away from the team for the rest of the season. He was serving as a distraction and his future with the franchise may be over. Did the Burress situation affect the Giants in the loss to the Eagles Sunday? Tom Coughlin felt the team did not play well enough to win, but you have to wonder if the media questions all week hurt the Giants in their preparation.
• Do you think that coaches are hired to get fired? In one day last week, the Toronto Raptors canned Sam Mitchell after an 8-9 start; Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville was not retained (though the athletic director claimed it was the coach who opted to leave his position), and the Carolina Hurricanes fired coach Peter Laviolette. So much for job security in the sports world! It is all about instant gratification these days, and what have you done for me lately. There is so much pressure on coaches today. The heat is relentless and if you have a losing season, it could spell doom and gloom. Charlie Weis survived some heat at Notre Dame.
• Congratulations to Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl on his 400th career win. He has brought such enthusiasm and energy down to Rocky Top in Knoxville. While that was a great milestone, Pat Summitt moves closer and closer to her 1000th career W.
• Ball State had a great season and will be bowling. The Cardinals saw a shot at perfection ended by Buffalo in the MAC championship. What a job being done in Buffalo by former Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill. Other schools may want to consider Gill for their coaching vacancy. Auburn has reportedly asked for permission to speak to him.
• Michelle Wie played well enough at Q-school to earn her LPGA card for the upcoming year. It's a nice story as this young lady has played with so much pressure in such a short time. Injuries hampered her and now she can play on the LPGA Tour in 2009.
5hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon