Welcome back to The Drill. The sports world has been full of buzz thanks to breaking news in nearly every sport, so let’s see some of the headlines from this week in sports:Falcons Nab Koetter and Nolan – The Atlanta Falcons finally found their coordinators for next season, hiring former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. While the Koetter hire is not a very exciting one, as the Jaguars offense finished last in the league in total offense and passing yards per game and 29th in the league in points per game with 15.2, don’t count out the former Arizona State head coach to be a bad play-caller for Atlanta. After all, 2011 was a disaster for the Jaguars’ offense before the season even started, as the strategy of starting veteran David Garrard and allowing Blaine Gabbert to sit was scratched just a few days before the season kicked off when the team released Garrard. The Nolan hire is a home run for the Falcons, as the former San Francisco 49ers head coach is seen as one of the best defensive coordinators in the league. The Dolphins’ defense played very well under Nolan’s coaching in 2011, ranking 6th in points allowed per game (19.6), 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 10th in sacks with 41 sacks. The Falcons’ defense was a huge problem for the team in 2011, but you can expect huge improvements very soon thanks to Nolan.
Commings May Be Going – The Georgia Bulldogs were in the news for the wrong reasons once again, as standout cornerback Sanders Commings was arrested last night on domestic violence charges. Commings, who had 40 tackles and one interception last season, reportedly hit his girlfriend during an argument. Commings is a good player and could one day play at the next level, but I think head coach Mark Richt has one option in this case: Kick Commings off the team. Time and time again the Dawgs embarrass themselves by getting arrested for idiotic things such as driving without a license or under-age drinking, but in my opinion hitting a woman is far beyond the case of a forgivable offense. When you are on scholarship at a FBS school to play football, you should consider every thing you do as representing your school. Commings made a idiotic decision, and although his football future is more than likely not over, his days of being a Bulldog should now be over.
Conference Championship Sunday – The NFC and AFC Conference Championship games are tomorrow, and I want to go ahead and apologize to the fan bases of the two teams I pick to win. My picks have been as erratic and misguided as Tim Tebow’s passes, as I currently sit with a 3-5 record with my playoff picks after a 2-2 mark last week. With tickets to Indianapolis now on the line, you can expect all four teams playing to be ready to fight for sixty minutes. Here’s how I see both of the games playing out:
Ravens @ Patriots – Two of the best teams in the AFC over the last decade, it will be interesting to see if the Ravens will be able to stop New England’s tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. I say that this game will be a close game throughout, but a 18-yard pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter gives the Pats a 4-point advantage. Joe Flacco tries to lead the Ravens down the field to re-take the lead, but on third down he is blind-sided by a blitzing Patriots cornerback, resulting in a fumble. New England recovers the fumble, ending the hopes of a Harbaugh Brothers Super Bowl and clinching the Patriots’ five Super Bowl appearance in the last ten seasons. Patriots win 24-20
Giants @ 49ers – A matchup of two of the biggest surprises this postseason, the Giants’ visit to San Fran will provide plenty of fireworks throughout. This game rides on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, the former first pick that has gone from bust to beast in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as head coach. If Smith can play as well as he did against the Saints (threw for 299 yards and 3 TDs with 1 rushing TD) and avoid any turnovers, San Francisco will go to its first Super Bowl since Steve Young was behind center. I expect this to be the case, as Smith and the offense does its job and the defense suffocates the passing game of Eli Manning, who has been battling a stomach bug all week, and the Giants rushing game. 49ers win 31-17
Tweeting Troubles – Twitter is one of the biggest social networking sites around (Fetch even has one), but it has the potential to be very dangerous when used by the wrong person. Just ask Yuri Wright, a highly touted cornerback out of New Jersey who may have lost any hope of a big-time scholarship thanks to some very racy and thoughtless tweets. Wright was suspended from his high school for his tweets and it looks like the bigger schools that were looking at him–Notre Dame, Michigan, and Rutgers—will be moving on, which brings to mind something I heard current Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips say prior to this season: that every player might as well start a tweet “Dear General Manager” because of how quickly their messages spread, no matter how random or ridiculous it is. A Twitter account is a mistake for anyone who will use it to make controversial statements and should definitely be monitored by any employer or school; it looks like these schools did their homework, which leaves Wright on the outside looking in.
Who Are You? – Some very strange news came out of the Dominican Republic this week when it was revealed that Fausto Carmona, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, isn’t actually Fausto Carmona. His real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and he is 31 years old, three years older than he had previously stated. The Carmona/Heredia fiasco isn’t a new occurrence in Major League Baseball, as just last month Marlins reliever Leo Nunez was arrested in the Dominican when it was discovered that his real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo. It doesn’t appear as if either player’s baseball careers are in jeopardy thanks to these discoveries, but I expect commissioner Bud Selig to work diligently to find a way to ensure that these teams get all of the correct records on these players, thus eliminating any more “To Tell the Truth” instances in the majors.
Sports Quote of the Week
“I retired because of illness and fatigue. The fans were sick and tired of me.”
– John Ralston, former Stanford and Denver Broncos head coach