Commentary

Power Rankings: Gopher Tundra Edition

Originally Published: December 20, 2010
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You're covered for the cold, hard reality of the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent this weekend trying to figure out why sci-fi fans run hot and cold when it comes to spirituality in mindless franchise sequels. They'll laugh when Keanu Reeves utters each "Whoa!" inside the Matrix but nod knowingly when Jeff Bridges grumbles that "You're messing with my Zen thing." If only the two of them could sit down together for one last interview with Larry King, it would iron everything out. Or turn our brains into tapioca. To the results!

1. Stone Cold Vikings

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.9 9.7 19.6

Credentials: The show biz axiom is that "The show must go on." And sailing this flaming Vikings ship past the point of no return into a Monday night showdown with the Chicago Bears can only end in glorious disaster. Talk about the law of unintended consequences for the sponsor of Minnesota's college football park of TCF Bank Stadium. It's not their fault that the cold weather will chill their image in a place never designed to hold games under such frigid circumstances. Right now, the best idea for keeping the field from freezing once the heated tarps come off is to have a halftime show in which they burn their customers' life savings at midfield. You think we're joking, but do you really doubt there isn't some bank in America in which the fine print of its customer service agreement says it's entitled to loot your holdings so it won't lose its shirt on staging an ill-conceived desperation spectacle? Hope you at least got a free toaster out of the deal to keep you warm in retirement.


2. Tom Coughlin's nightmares

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.2 18.6

Credentials: Hollywood, hurry up and green light a $180 million budget for "Inception 2" ... In which Leonardo DiCaprio waits in a Giants film room until Tom Coughlin falls asleep breaking down video at 3 o'clock in the morning and then dives into Coughlin's cranium to wrestle back the images of that collapse against the Eagles that will haunt the coach for the rest of his veins-always-bulging-from-the-temples life. But instead of the final shot being a spinning top, Coughlin imagines DeSean Jackson's endless pirouetting right before breaking the plane of the end zone on that punt return. For product placement, Leo can only wake up from the dream after a shower from a Gatorade bucket.


3. Geno Auriemma

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.6 9.5 18.1

Credentials: Never mind the comparisons to that 88-game winning streak of yore by John Wooden and UCLA. Newly uncovered game film showed that for an entire season the Bruins played against Pac-10 women's teams, some of whom played in hoop skirts. But a round of applause for how coach Geno Auriemma and his historic UConn team are altering the landscape of college women's hoops. Somewhere, Pat Summitt must be spinning in her grave. Oh, wait ...


4. Tebow Time!

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.9 8.8 17.7

Credentials: Which doubters were silenced -- those who thought the Florida Heisman Trophy winner and Josh McDaniels' albatross would be a bust? A heavenly 40-yard touchdown run and saintly 33-yard TD pass were on display in Tim Tebow's starting debut. Or those doubters who still find it inconceivable that this is the first step on the inevitable path of Bill Belichick picking Timmy up for 9 cents on the dollar and turning him into the Super Bowl MVP heir to Tom Brady? Meanwhile, Tebow is such an overachiever that he's already volunteered to finish up an 18-game regular schedule while this year's playoffs start. He has that much spare energy and charisma to burn off.


5. Royals-Brewers trade

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.0 7.3 14.3

Credentials: Milwaukee is excited because everyone believes that former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke makes the club a contender. Kansas City is excited because it believes it still is a viable major league outpost. The Royals also believe that leprechauns can provide effective middle-inning relief and will gladly offer one a contract, if only the little fella didn't demand an entire pot of gold. Clearly, Kansas City doesn't do pots of gold.


6. Cowboys-Redskins

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.1 6.6 12.7

Credentials: Here's the type of large-scale gamble on the part of high-rollers Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones that we'd love to peek into the financial books of, as the owners negotiate a new deal with the players. Bottom line: Terence Newman came up with that interception to end the game. Was it worth more to each billionaire to have Rex Grossman perform the two-minute drill?


7. Useless bowl games

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 5.5 10.6

Credentials: Did the powers that be really force the country to watch Troy play Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl? Next time, just have them form a superteam called "Troyhio" and crash the Florida International versus Toledo tilt in Detroit's Little Caesars Bowl. Like anyone would notice anyway. It'll just be our little secret.


8. Gilbert Arenas

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 5.6 10.8

Credentials: Although he was swept up as part of a mega-trade to Orlando and this wasn't his "decision" to migrate to central Florida, it would have been fun to be a fly on the wall for the embattled ex-Wizards player's introductory news conference. Which Magic words catch phrase has the right ring to it? Should he have tried the "Taking my talents to Space Mountain" angle? "Taking my talents to Tomorrowland." ... "Taking my talents to Harry Potter's Wizarding World" ... "Taking my talents to a tacky dollar T-shirt shop" ... We're intrigued by "Taking my talents to a two-hour-long time-share presentation."


9. Last-minute Christmas gifts

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.3 5.2 10.5

Credentials: Here's the instant solution if the household budget is tight and the kiddies are young enough that they won't remember what they get anyway: Stop by the dollar store, pick up a tube of 500 square foot-sized wrapping paper and let junior spend 45 minutes Christmas morning unwrapping a soon-to-be-beloved cardboard tube he can play lightsaber battles with. And invest the savings into more egg nog.


10. Mark Cuban vs. the BCS

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.7 4.5 9.2

Credentials: The NBA's shrewdest business mind, Mark Cuban, has announced he's putting himself to work with the goal of coming up with a college football playoff system with payouts so huge it will be an offer college presidents can't refuse. Lofty intentions, indeed. But maybe start off with something simple and begin by concentrating on the best way to sell ready-written essays to student-athletes for classes they haven't studied for. In the supply-and-demand game, that's always a thriving market.


11. NHL help wanted

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
3.8 3.7 7.5

Credentials: Kudos to the Phoenix Coyotes for calling up a random amateur hockey goalie named Tom Fenton out of the blue while finding themselves short-handed becuase of the flu a few hours before a game against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. What a great, feel-good story that's generating nothing but positive publicity. If the NHL wants to go to the well again to continue spreading this kind of good news, it should try calling up out-of-work sports writers to suit up and sit on the bench. They'd be all too happy to do first-person write-ups about the experience and only for the price of access to the press box buffet.


12. "How Do You Know?"

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
2.6 2.3 4.9

Credentials: Whose film career jumped the shark on this one? It had an estimated $100 million budget but only took in $7.6 million to place eighth in its opening weekend. Does that mean we don't want to see Jack Nicholson dispensing words of wisdom anymore to anyone other than Andrew Bynum? No more Owen Wilson as the dopey smooth-talker? No more lame Reese Witherspoon chick flicks? No more Paul Rudd getting spiffed up to mope around at playing a poor man's Paul Rudd? Maybe for the DVD release they change the marketing to make everyone in the love triangle a vampire. Well, secret vampires who can walk in sunlight and aren't obsessed with draining innocent human blood in oil-change fashion. But seen through the vampire prism, it just might work. Aren't Reese, Owen and Paul pale enough anyway?


13. NFC West postseason

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
1.1 1.4 2.5

Credentials: We changed our mind. We're now embracing the prospect of a 7-9 team qualifying for the playoffs and hosting a home game. It's going to be a great answer to a trivia question some day. Although the lionizing needs to fall short of Disney making an inspirational movie about the campaign. Cue Movie Trailer Announcer Voice Guy: "Coming to theaters this summer -- A team that was told it was no good ... that as washed-up physical specimens, they'd always be pounded by every opponent ... that the coaches couldn't coach their way out of a knapsack ... that the owners were as incompetent as they were greedy ... wow, this team really was a disaster. Whatever you do, don't see this movie. Rated PG-13."


Also receiving votes
• Red football turf: A tip of the hat and a shielding of the eyes to Eastern Washington, whose televised playoff appearance helped answer the immortal question we would been dying to ask if we ever visited the FiedTurf store: "Hey, you've got anything in Civil War Battlefield Scarlet?" Make sure to watch their games only on your old analog TV set. Being exposed to that much flaming bright red in HD, the nacho bowl on your end table is likely to spontaneously combust.

Never receiving votes
• "TRON" nightlife: OK, we realize "TRON" takes place in a virtual world where laws of reality are up for grabs. But when all of your surroundings are stylishly painted in neon highlights on a background of inky emo blackness, what kind of a thankless job is it to design a penthouse night club? "Yeah, Mr. Zuse, for your club, which we promise will stand out from all the other joints in the city -- are you sitting down for this? -- I'm thinking of going really dark and atmospheric, set off by bright, blue, neon lights out the wazoo. You know, the type of place you'd expect to hear Daft Punk all the time." Actually, wouldn't uber-hipster design in a world of neon be patterned after a wood-paneled basement with shag carpeting? Basically, we just wanted to see Bridges out on the "TRON" town in a neon-powered leisure suit.

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


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