Power Rankings: 4th down edition

Originally Published: November 16, 2009
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You're back with the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Gregory Hardy; and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, the computer we tapped is the pawned laptop of the wannabe Hollywood screenwriter who quit writing "The Box 2" right after the CinemaScore market research company determined that Cameron Diaz's "The Box" earned an F grade from moviegoers in 29 of its 33 demographic categories. Our aim at the Power Rankings is to hit an F in only 25 categories. To the results!

1. You Did WHAT on Fourth Down?

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.9 9.8 19.7

Credentials: Listen up, Chicken Littles. A real man will order his team to ice the game on fourth-and-2 from his own 28 with 2:08 to go every time. Do the math: If all game long the most an offense could pick up on a single play was 2 yards, it would take 50 plays to march from end zone to end zone. And when was the last time you heard of a 50-play scoring drive? That's as common as Tom Cable's going a day without smacking somebody. Piling up yardage is the easiest thing to do in football! Look at the Colts on Sunday night: Their scoring drives in the second half were five plays, six plays and four plays. OK, that's a bad example for Pats fans. Football historians take note: If you ever write a book about Belichick's decision in this game, please know the title "The Blind Side" has already been taken.

2. Multitasking Manny Pacquiao

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.5 18.9

Credentials: Not only has the fighter won seven world titles in seven weight classes following Saturday night's face reapportionment of Miguel Cotto in Vegas. He can sing at Mandalay Bay, and he's running for Congress in his native Philippines. He's so talented, we better hurry and extend Pacquiao an invitation to guest-edit a future Power Rankings. Otherwise, NBC might beat us to the punch and offer him the hosting gig for an hourlong 10 p.m. weeknight talk show first. Like he couldn't shatter Jay Leno's chin with one punch if he wanted to take that gig anyway.

3. Sarah Palin on Oprah

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.8 8.4 17.2

Credentials: The Mother of All Hockey Moms chats on Monday's show to plug her new book and to answer questions about how she's getting along with young Levi Johnston. Sorry, but if we're going to watch Sarah Barracuda air out the family laundry on an afternoon talk show, it better be with Jerry Springer.

4. Buckeye Bruce Springsteen's Blunder Road

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.3 8.5 16.8

Credentials: Good: The Boss rocked Michigan's The Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night! Bad: He made three references to the crowd about being in Ohio. Good thing Steve Van Zandt straightened Bruce out before the iconic rocker told the crowd to visit his Web site if they want to order T-shirts that come in their choice of "Bruce Springsteen and the O-H-I-O Street Band" or "Ann Arbor is a Whore."

5. Notre Dame hot seat

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.2 8.1 16.3

Credentials: The athletic director swears a decision on Charlie Weis' future won't be made until after the season. But this has to be considered an ominous development: Saturday's game against Connecticut will feature a halftime contest in which a lucky fan who can kick a 50-yard field goal will win $18 million that can then be stuffed into Weis' pocket as his buyout.

6. LeBron James' jersey proposal

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.8 7.7 15.5

Credentials: The Chosen One suggests every NBA team retire its No. 23 as a salute to Michael Jordan. That's a noble idea, with only one possible drawback: When MJ hears his name associated with the word "retire," his faulty comeback instincts kick in and he insists on rejoining the Wizards to prove he's still got it.

7. Water on the moon

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.2 7.6 14.8

Credentials: NASA scientists are doing cartwheels since 25 gallons of water was spotted in a crater near the lunar south pole. This can have profound implications on human exploration of space, but keep in mind how expensive it will be to send astronauts up to retrieve it. However, NASA's accounting office assures Congress that the cost of harvesting water on the moon will still be significantly less than harvesting a comparable amount of beer from Yankee Stadium.

8. Michelle Wie

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.1 7.3 14.4

Credentials: It took only 65 tries, but the former phenom finally won her first LPGA event with a 2-stroke victory against Paula Creamer in Mexico. It's a lesson that persistence pays off, no matter the odds. Of course, try telling that to the girl who was inspired to start golf at age 8 when Wie first burst on the scene, never improved her game through the years, then finally threw her clubs in the trash last week by saying, "Screw it, if Wie hasn't won by now, there's no hope for me."

9. Stanford owns Trojans

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.0 6.9 13.9

Credentials: If a Stanford tree falls on Pete Carroll twice in a row at the Coliseum, does the Pac-10 make any noise when the BCS bowl bids are handed out?

10. "2012"

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.8 7.0 13.8

Credentials: Even though it's just a popcorn flick that hauled in $65 million over the weekend, the disaster epic got us thinking about our own uncertain future. Namely, what will get here first -- the end of the world or the Cincinnati Bengals' winning the AFC North? Oops, don't look now, but they're 7-2 overall, 5-0 in the division and have swept the Steelers. Let's just hope Chad Ochocinco doesn't try to bribe any geologists into hiding data that would warn against every continent's breaking apart on the eve of the AFC Championship Game.

11. Washington Redskins: Happy now?

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.3 6.7 13.0

Credentials: Desperate times call for desperate measures -- like scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal on fourth-and-20 from the Broncos' 35-yard line. Although a 27-17 victory against Denver probably won't get Dan Snyder and Redskins fans on speaking terms, there's still a slim chance at a playoff push in the wide-open NFC race. Let's just hope the Redskins' front office doesn't decide to implement a ban on wild cards that have the Redskins' name written on it.

12. Football astronauts

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.5 5.1 10.6

Credentials: As NASA prepares to launch space shuttle Atlantis on Monday, let's salute pilot Barry E. "Butch" Wilmore, who used to play for Tennessee Tech. Also, mission specialist Leland D. Melvin was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986. Hey, someone petition NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to make sure that connection doesn't mean Monday's launch will be blacked out in the Lions' TV markets.

13. Michael Phelps

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.2 4.4 7.6

Credentials: Look, we know you're trying to make a statement by declining to compete in a high-tech swimsuit at the World Cup meets in Berlin. But can you at least show a little class by not swimming in your Captain Jack Sparrow costume that was left over from Halloween?

Also receiving votes:
• Jimmie Johnson: Which will happen first: J.J. wins his fifth Chase title in a row or Michelle Wie wins her second LPGA event?

• NHL: We've been told to stop making fun of the league until we can straighten out which franchises are on the verge of financial collapse ... and which ones are currently in complete financial collapse.

• Horned Frogs: Which would you rather see: TCU in the BCS title game ... or a race of highly intelligent, genetically mutated horned frogs as the bad guys in the next "Star Trek" movie?

Never receiving votes:
• Sammy Sosa: Latest excuse for his light complexion -- he's been auditioning to play a vampire in the next "Twilight" sequel.

• My fantasy team: I lost 73-72 in a game decided because I started Ryan Grant (7 points) over Justin Fargas (10 points). You think I'm going to second-guess Belichick for one stupid fourth-down play after that?

• Tennessee Vols: Lane Kiffin has a talk with his team to clarify what a visit to a full-service gas station entails.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at