This and That


Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports:

• Well my friends, the Super Bowl match-up is all set. The Arizona Cardinals are making their first appearance in the title game. The Pittsburgh Steelers are seasoned pros with Ben Roethlisberger and a tenacious defense leading the way. One interesting storyline pits Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt against his former employer. Now there will be hype, hype, hype leading up to the game in Tampa.

• What an incredible two-week stretch for Wake Forest, proving why the Demon Deacons should be numero uno. Dino Gaudio's team is #1 in my rankings. To snap BYU's 53-game home win streak, then victories over North Carolina, at Boston College and at Clemson, wow! This Wake Forest squad has size, speed and depth. Now the stage is set for January 28th when Duke and Wake tangle in a game that should be 1 vs. 2. Each team has home games before this potential battle. If they hold serve, this could be something special.

• Louisville's Rick Pitino is a genius when it comes to big games. He was brilliant down the stretch of close games and the Cardinals are starting to make their move after a few stumbles. Terrence Williams has been a big-time performer as of late. The win over then-number one Pittsburgh was a confidence builder and a big, big W!

• Down at Tennessee, Kentucky's Jodie Meeks put on quite a show! My friends, Knoxville is a tough place for opponents, as shown by a long Vol home win streak before Gonzaga recently came in and snapped it. Then Meeks and company went bananas. He played 39 brilliant minutes, scored 54 points, hit 15-of-22 field goal attempts, including 10-of-15 trifectas. Meeks made all 14 of his free throw attempts, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and had just one turnover! Kentucky earned a 90-72 victory as Meeks stole the show with his 54 while the rest of his team combined for 36 points. It was amazing as Dan Issel's Kentucky single-game scoring mark went by the boards.

• I was thrilled to see Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is such a special place and both of these guys deserved to be immortalized. Henderson is major league baseball's all-time leader in runs scored and stolen bases and he was so special to watch. Rice's induction was long overdue as he was such a feared hitter in Boston. He also did a super job playing the ball off the green monster at Fenway. I wish that the voters put Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson into the Hall, but both fell short. Blyleven is among the all-time leaders in strikeouts and shutouts. Dawson was so versatile, showing power and speed, plus he won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors at different points in his illustrious career. Oh well, maybe next year. The newcomers on next year's ballot are impressive; that list includes Robby Alomar, a dynamic second baseman, Barry Larkin and one of my favorites from the Rays, Freddie McGriff.

• Tony Dungy decided to retire from his position as Colts head coach. Dundy has always been class personified and he will be missed on the sidelines. What an incredible run it has been: a record 10 straight trips to the playoffs, six straight seasons with 12 or more Ws. He will go on and make a difference in so many lives by helping others. Dungy is simply an amazing human being. I am thrilled that we will be honoring him at the 2010 Dickie V gala in Sarasota, Florida.

• It was a big-time announcement out at Oklahoma. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford decided to pass on the lure of the big bucks from the NFL and return to Norman next season. Wow, think about this … Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy are all going to be back on the collegiate gridirons in 2009. Do you think the Heisman race will be hot once again! I am happy these guys can remain the BMOC (big men on campus) at their respective schools. They have time to make their money in the pros, so they should enjoy their time in college now.

• The NFL is all about "what have you done for me lately." Look at Mike Shanahan in Denver and now Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. Both men won Super Bowl rings and each suffered through late-season collapses that cost their respective teams playoff berths. Now both are out of their head coaching jobs.

I was shocked by the timing of Gruden's dismissal, and I thought that if he was getting the ziggy, it would happen within a week of the regular season ending. He was blindsided because there were no rumors about it. Something tells me he will land somewhere; hey, Jets, give him a call! He has a great enthusiasm and energy and a tenacity of putting together a team.

• The Rams decided to go for defense with the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as their new head coach. I guess the Jets did not make an offer so Spagnuolo decided to go to St. Louis. He was another outstanding second lieutenant under Tom Coughlin and now he moves up to the head coaching duties. This could be a big-time hire.

• The Lions named Jim Schwartz as their new head coach and he did a terrific job as defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. There is only one direction to go in Detroit – up! After getting the ziggy at 0-16, it can't get any worse.

• I was thrilled to hear the news that Monica Seles was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She is truly deserving of the honor. I remember watching her many, many years ago under the tutelage of Nick Bolletieri.

• Pat Summitt is closing in on her 1000th career win, and there have been other great milestones for women's hoop coaches. North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell reached her 800th win recently, and Georgia coach Andy Landers picked up his 800th career victory last week.