I'm a working stiff now, so I'm not quite as on top of the sports world as I have been. That's not a bad thing, but coming off my first full five-day week at my new job, what a sports weekend I got to relax to on my days off.
We start with college football. On Friday night, The Pac-12 put on a spectacular title game. The only thing better would have been a Bruins win, but UCLA fell to favored Stanford 27-24. On Saturday, Georgia stalled on their final drive, and Alabama defeated the Bulldogs 32-28, earning the Crimson Tide a trip to their third BCS National Championship Game in four years. Those were the only games I watched in their entirety, and neither team that I was rooting for won, but both were worth the time watching.
My power was out Sunday morning, and didn't come on until noon, but it came on just in time for the start of the fourth quarter of the Niners-Rams game. St. Louis was down 7-2, but scored a defensive touchdown and a 2-point conversion to take a 10-7 lead. The game, just like their first matchup three weeks ago, went overtime, and almost ended in a tie, but the Rams got a field goal in the final minute of the extra session and won. Not only did the Rams beat San Francisco (which hasn't happened a lot in the last few years), but a Washington win over the Giants tonight, and I win this week's football pool at work.
Goin' Bowlin': I never thought I'd feel bad for an SEC team when it comes to post-season and the BCS, but Georgia got a raw deal. The number three Bulldogs narrowly lost to second ranked Alabama, but fell out of the top three and out of a BCS Bowl. Florida got the other SEC top bowl bid instead. UCLA ends up in the Holiday Bowl against Baylor—not a bad matchup, and Georgia is relegated to the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska. And even though I know little about Northern Illinois, hats off to the little guy for getting invited to the BCS dance, and an Orange Bowl matchup against Florida State.
It's not all fun and games: Then there's the tragedy in Kansas City. I'm sure you know the story by now. Saturday, Chiefs linebacker 25 year-old Jovan Belcher shoots his girlfriend and the mother of his three-month old daughter nine times and kills her in front of her mother, goes to the practice facility, thanks the GM and the coach for giving him the opportunity to play, and then turns a gun on himself. Most of the players did not witness the suicide, but the staff did, and you had to wonder about the Chiefs deciding to play their game against Carolina less than 24 hours later. Kansas City won, making the decision moot, but in reality, the Chiefs didn't have much of a choice. They could have played tonight, or maybe even Tuesday, but since there's no room for make-up games in the schedule, they couldn't have played the game later.
It was also sad to learn of the passing of college basketball coach Rick Majerus. Majerus died Saturday from heart problems at the age of 64. I can't say I knew the man, but I got to be around him when he was the head coach at the University of Utah, and took the Utes to the NCAA title game in the late 1990s. Majerus was known as a complicated man, but always seemed to have fun with the media, and understood its role. He even worked as an analyst at ESPN between coaching gigs. It wasn't mentioned in the obituary that I saw, but wasn't Majerus the head coach at USC for like a day? I think he decided he didn't want the job soon after it was announced that he was hired.
Sit this one out, Boys: The NBA has fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 because coach Greg Popovich sat out aging stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Danny Green against the defending champion Miami Heat in a nationally televised game Thursday night. Not only did they not play, but Popovich actually sent them home. It was the team's fourth game in five nights, and the final game of a six-game road trip. I think the fine is deserved, but you have to wonder if commissioner David Stern would have handed down the same punishment if the game was only on local television against the Sacramento Kings or the Washington Wizards. I doubt it.
Oh, yeah, there's baseball: Not to get lost in the other stuff, baseball is the news as well. The Winter Meetings begin tonight in Nashville, and several deals could be made during the week. The Dodgers say they are not interested in Brian “The Beard” Wilson. The Giants reliever was not offered a new contract, and is now a free agent.
Garbage time, NOT: You learn good stuff in the late minutes sometimes. In the final quarter of the Lakers' blowout win over Denver Friday night, ESPN lead announcer Mike Breen noted that Vin Scully turned 85 on Thursday. Breen, who like Scully attended New York's Fordham University, said that he had only met Scully once, and was nervous about the meeting. I think more of the story was coming, but analyst Jeff Van Gundy then interrupted with “I didn't know (Scully) went to Fordham”, and with play in the game continuing, that was the end of it. In another one of Breen's notes a few minutes later, he said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's father turns 100 this month. Breen says the soon-to-be centenarian still drives.
Almost forgot Soccer: I've actuially watched the MLS Cup game in years past, but this year the league decided to play the game on a Saturday instead of Sunday, and opposite Georgia-Alabama instead of the NFL. I heard the LA Galaxy won. It's their second straight championship, and the final game in Los Angeles for David Beckham.
Speaking of 100: Last week was the 100th straight Monday that I have written this column. I was going to make a big deal of it by writing some retrospective or something, but I actually lost track. I thought number 100 was going to be this week. Turns out there are 53 Mondays in 2012 compared to 52 in most years, and I was counting backwards from the end of the year. Oh well.
Another milestone that doesn't mean anything: My car turned 200,000 miles on the way home from Thanksgiving. I was in Lathrop (just south of Stockton) when the milestone approached, so I got off the interstate and pulled into the parking lot of a Ghiradelli Chocolate outlet store. I don't know why, but I thought that was a good spot for the odometer to turn over.