Dec. 11, 2003
Holiday parties:
Early, early a.m.: Still recovering from ESPN the Magazine's "NEXT" party. (Column theme alert!) Office-party rule 1: Don't be "That Guy."
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
NEXT.  CURSE.

Big mistake, Boss. Letting Andy Pettitte go to Houston? That's the rock of the rotation throughout the eight-year Yankees dynasty.

That's big-game experience, replaced with wild-card Javier Vazquez.

That's clubhouse stability, replaced (presumably) with notorious chemistry-killer Kevin Brown.

Dumping anti-clutch Jeff Weaver? OK, give the Yankees credit for that.

But here's the prediction: "The Curse of Pettitte." The Yankees won't win another World Series title until Pettitte's career is over.

Next Heisman Winner
How can Oklahoma QB Jason White be the best player in the country when he isn't even the best at his position?

(Haven't we heard similar logic about his team? Only hypocrites bash Oklahoma yet vote for White.)

This generation's Geno Torretta, White will win the Heisman on Saturday, but here's what the balloting should look like:

Quickie '03 Heisman Ballot:
1. Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss
2. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pitt
3. Jason White, QB, Okla.
4. Chris Perry, RB, Michigan
5. Mike Williams, WR, USC

A powder-puff QB could have gotten 8 or 9 wins with that Oklahoma roster around them. Meanwhile, Ole Miss wasn't all that good, yet Manning carried them to the cusp of the SEC title.

Oh, let's just say it: Eli wouldn't have lost to Kansas State.

Next No.1?
Florida's loss to Maryland last night (third straight week the No. 1 team lost) is less about some sort of No. 1 jinx in college basketball than it is an indicator that the early-season rankings are laughable.

Oh sure, No. 2 Kentucky will move to the top spot (if UK survives "Largest Attendance Ever" game Saturday at Michigan

BUSY? READ THIS NOW; BOOKMARK QUICKIE FOR LATER
TODAY'S THREE HOTTEST STORIES
1 BCS: Reforms floated; "Plus 1" stickiest w/fans, NCAA?
2 NFL: Attention turns from BCS to league with playoff
3 MLB: Guardado, Colon sign deals; still waiting on A-Rod
THREE STORIES YOU SHOULD JUST LET GO
1 The sorry Magic: Cure for what ails 'em -- the Wizards
2 Dan Reeves: Ditching him just as Vick returns? Yikes!
3 Trista/Ryan: Who dressed Bachelor Bob's g/f? Good lordy.
 
State), but it's tenuous at best. Glancing down the top 25, watch young UNC (5-0) lurking at No. 8. (Cred: Bullish early on Syracuse last year.)

Next LeBron?
Sebastian Telfair is the next LeBron James in only one way: As heir to the nationally televised high school basketball showcase (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Giving up 10 inches and 80 pounds to LeBron, the Brooklyn point guard is hyper-telegenic, but not nearly ready for the NBA. But since when did that have anything to do with meeting popular demand for "the new thing?"

After all: Trista and Ryan weren't exactly Charles and Diana, but their wedding last night will probably be the most-watched TV show of the month.

Next on Hot Seat?
Dan Reeves left the NFL's Hot Seat section early, but it seems the other embattled coaches will be given the full 17 weeks to find the exit:

The See-Ya! Ranking:
1. Callahan, Raiders
1. (tie) Fassel, Giants
3. Haslett, Saints
4. Wannstedt, Dolphins
5. Schottenheimer, Chargers

And next for the Falcons? Cast a diverse net for a coach, but make sure the pick is enough of an offensive genius to help Vick realize his "best-ever" potential (but not get in his way).

Next CFB Champ?
The foursome everyone wanted to see: Oklahoma vs. Michigan and USC vs. LSU in Page 2's college football playoff bracket semifinals. (See "Q It Up," right.)

Vote today to determine who makes Friday's title pairing. (Quickie pick: Michigan vs. USC.)

Ex-Suns coach
Frank Johnson:

Next job interview, first question: "How do you screw up with a trio like Marbury, Stoudemire and Marion?"
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Bowl Replacement Series
NBA: Rasheed rips NBA
NFL Power Rankings
 
Ranking Next Year's Heisman Contenders:
Larry Fitzgerald
IF he doesn't go pro
 
Mike Williams
Catch of year vs. Ore St
 
Ben Roethlisberger
Miami (OH) QB is awesome
 
Darren Sproles
K-St RB lit up Oklahoma
 
Chris Leak
Florida QB plays older
 

Next Barkley? Rasheed Wallace. Anti-NBA rant is a must-read (see Q It Up, above) ...

Next retirement honoree? Scottie Pippen may be done. First on the "bump" list for the NBA All-Time Top 50, but a lock HOF'er ...

Next NBA hotbed: Brooklyn, NY. Would-be Nets owner unveils Gehry-designed arena for Flatbush Ave. Coolest in league, by far ...

Next big legal story: Written arguments due to judge tomorrow in Clarett vs NFL ...

Next college football issue (or not): 3/4 of coaches polled by USA Today don't want OT format to change ...

Next great Chicago QB: Bears name rookie Rex Grossman the starter for Sunday vs. Vikings. What took them so long? ...



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