December 15, 2005
Dan Hawkins:
Innovative Boise State football coach ready to bring feel-good attitude (and blistering offense) to Colorado. Will the Buffs switch to colored turf?
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
RALLY.  FLAP.

Eagles fans have a new target for venting their frustrations about the season: At local Philly NAACP leader Jerry Mondesire.

The most interesting thing about this story won't be the overwhelmingly negative response towards Mondesire from sports media (although Mike Wilbon makes cogent yet impassioned points in his "PTI" clip and Mark Kreidler accurately parses Mondesire's rant for what it is: He's a ticked-off fan.).

No, the most interesting reaction will be the way that Eagles fans, previously utterly dissatisfied with the season and perfectly ready to dish out at least some blame in McNabb's direction, will close ranks in support of their QB.

Here's the key sentiment: He might be a less effective QB, but he's our less effective QB.

And Eagles Nation will make it clear: Mondesire doesn't speak for them. Philly fans have never been shy about accepting responsibility for dishing blame (or boos).

In giving Eagles fans something to rally around, Mondesire may actually produce the opposite effect: Any lingering (and even reasonable) doubts within the fandom about McNabb will be overwhelmed by their feeling of solidarity with him over this attack.

As for the rest of the country, the SportsNation poll results say it all: They reject Mondesire's argument.

Seventy-five percent say he's "crazy." They blame T.O., Andy Reid or the defense far more than McNabb for the Eagles' lost season. And they think that a healthy McNabb is the difference between the playoffs and the couch for the Eagles in 2006.

The interesting thing is that in a different context, Eagles fans might have come out more critically against McNabb. But this new development effectively implodes that discussion, as the fans rally around him.

Ron Artest Watch
The trade market is tanking for the Pacers. There's no way they are going to get equal value back for Artest. Maybe 50 cents on the dollar, talentwise.

Here's how bad it has gotten: Even Isiah Thomas says he won't ship off his bright rookie talent for Ron-Ron. And if you can't bilk Isiah, you can't bilk anyone.

Are the Lakers interested? They might not have the package to get Artest, but Phil Jackson reportedly loves him (perhaps seeing him as his new Dennis Rodman).

Meanwhile, the Pacers are going through a bit of a "T.O. Effect" without Artest to punch up the on-court lineup: Indiana posted a season low in points Wednesday night in an ugly loss to the Celtics.

See Odds/Ends for more NBA.

Nomar Move Today?
Which team should Nomar Garciaparra play for? (Better question: Why is he still worth this much effort and fascination? Anyhoo...)

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Darrell Jackson: WR healthy enough to start for Seahawks
Dwyane Wade: No. 1- selling NBA jersey. Proxy for top star?
Anna Benson: Sounds less crazy in slinky Santa-helper suit
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Cuba: World BB Classic participation nixed by U.S. gov't
Pacers: Held to season low in points; Artest Effect?
Tom Brady: "Sportsman" questionable for Sunday's game
 
If he went to the Yankees, he'd be surrounded by the most potent lineup. (But does he want to deal with the headaches of the media scrutiny?)

If he went to the Indians, he'd be a veteran presence on one of MLB's hot, rising teams. (But have the White Sox put the division out of reach already?)

If he went to the Astros, he'd be expected to produce for a team marked by sketchy offense in 2005. (But is Houston's best year behind it?)

If he went to the Dodgers, he'd join a new-look infield anchored by offseason acquisitions Rafael Furcal and former Red Sox teammate Bill Mueller. (But is L.A. the least likely to contend for the playoffs?)

Let's hope he picks New York, simply because that would maximize the story-line potential for his season.

Saints Switch QBs
The Aaron Brooks Era is over in New Orleans, and anyone who followed the team or the player (perhaps as his fantasy GM) knows that he was maddeningly inconsistent, mixed with flashes of brilliance. That's probably enough to get him a chance as a starter somewhere else in 2006.

Todd Bouman Era begins! Somehow, I don't expect the 8-year vet to become a fantasy football playoff sleeper. He's started 3 games in his career, all in 2001. As long as they're giving up, why didn't the Saints try potentially dazzling rookie Adrian McPherson?

Princeton: Ouch!
Superlative of the Day:
Worst. Scoring. Ever.

Princeton scored 21 points in a 20-point loss to Monmouth, matching a college hoops "3-Pointer Era" record of offensive futility.

The Tigers have always walked a fine line with scoring using their slow-down offense, but consider this:

Princeton's football team averaged 24.5 points per game.

Quickie Gift Guide
For the fan on your list, a few recommendations...

Book: "Sunday Money" -- my favorite sports book of 2005. An even better read for non-NASCAR fans than NASCAR fans themselves. (And if you haven't gotten Simmons' "Now I Can Die," that's a good choice, too.)

T-shirt: L.A. Clippers. You know you're so all over this bandwagon, why not make it official? (What, like you were going to buy a Knicks shirt?) More fashionable the further you get from L.A.

Jersey: Adam Morrison. Call the No. 3 Gonzaga jersey "Spokane Chic." Morrison is also college hoops' most potent scorer. (Growing a spotty moustache for the holidays is optional, but not recommended.)

Video Game: NBA Live 2006, and then you can trade Ron Artest to any team you want to. (Yes, but will they update the game with Pat Riley stalking the Heat sidelines?)

Board Game: Scene It. But not the standard movie edition -- the sports edition. Part trivia game, part highlight reel. (Then, use the game as a jump-off point for larger sports arguments. Just my own tweak.)

Fashion: Kobe-style tights.

Sneaker: LeBron 3 (West Coast-exclusive edition). These are the festive white-and-gold ones he's wearing on that SportsCenter ad. Available only out West (but everyone else can find them online).

Gadget: ESPN the Phone. I've tried it out. Yes, it's extremely cool. You can wait if you want, but after the Super Bowl, everyone will want one.

Ed Olczyk:
Was it so long ago that the Penguins won the Crosby lottery and seemed on the up-and-up? With only 8 wins, they're firing their coach. (How about Mario to replace him?)
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
McNabb poll
 
Dishing Eagles Blame (via SportsNation)
T.O. (57 pct)
Distraction THAT bad?
 
A. Reid (20 pct)
Mishandle off-field stuff?
 
Defense (15 pct)
Injuries have been bad
 
McNabb (8 pct)
Ready for '06?
 
Injuries (N/A)
Not polled, but so huge
 

All-NBA Edition!

Riley Watch: 2-0! Top the Bucks, despite Shaq limited to only 12 shots (foul trouble). Wade scored 27 on only 14 shots. He's the anti-Kobe.

Pistons win (again), tie best start (16-3) in franchise history (who needs Larry Brown?). Billups sets an NBA season high with 19 assists.

Is Dirk Nowitzki the best all-around player in the NBA? He had 29 and 13 in a huge Mavs prove-it win over PHX. (Gimme blog love, Mark Cuban!)

Stalled while T-Mac was out with an injury, the Rockets are resurgent, having won 5 of 6. Yao had season-best 30 and 16 in an OT W over GSW.

Great to see Grant Hill back on the court (Magic d. Knicks), but a deflating reminder that we've seen way too many Hill comeback games.

Was it so long ago that LeBron vs. Carmelo was an event? Melo's coming off a career-best 42 on Tue.; Bron had an NBA season-high 52 on Sat.



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