Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Trail Report | Today in Print | Frontpage | Services | Home RSS
 
 
 

Back to back quarterback, Part I/Mark Jalkanen

December 7, 2010
By Mark Jalkanen - DMG Web Columnist

There are very few teams in NFL history who have been able to replace a great quarterback with another great quarterback. In fact, the most commonly cited success is the 49ers, who managed to unceremoniously send Joe Montana to Kansas City while plugging Steve Young into the most important position on the field.

This isolated event got us thinking about the more common occurrence of replacing a legend with a hack (or hacks), and the average amount of time it takes a team to find the rare commodity (the successful successor), so we decided to take all of the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and teams and try to determine the time it took them to "adequately" (a purely subjective exercise, however, we feel it would be a good starting point for debate) replace their star starter.

Speaking of star starters, Bart Starr led the Packers to victories in SBI and II but it took over two decades with such memorable quarterbacks as John Hadl, David Whitehurst, Jerry Tagge, and others, manning the helm, before Brett Favre arrived and (eventually) won SB XXXI. Some will argue that Lynn Dickey was a reasonably decent quarterback, while others will fondly remember the magically overrated three years of Don Majkowski; however, in our opinion it took over 20 years to adequately replace the Starr power.

Now that Favre has been replaced by Aaron Rodgers, the early signs give the impression that the Pack may have hit on the rare back-to-back quarterback phenomenon, although, a title would help confirm the theory in most minds.

Broadway Joe Namath took the league by storm and led the Jets to an improbable victory in SB III. Since Joe walked off the stage there has been mostly a collection of unworthy understudies with the occasional bright spot from folks such as Ken O'Brien and Richard Todd (Favre?). It is possible that after 30 years of searching NY may have finally found the next great hope for the Great White Way. If Mark Sanchez is the real thing, and his work is incomplete at this stage, then the long wait will be over. If not, the search will resume.

Forty years later, the Chiefs are still looking for the next Len Dawson, the MVP and winning QB in SB IV, and have gone through the likes of Steve DeBerg, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, and even had the aforementioned two-year fling with Joe Montana. If Matt Cassel is significantly more bona fide than Bono (and we don't mean U2), then the quest may be over. We have our doubts.

Johnny Unitas led the Baltimore Colts to the championship in SB V and it took nearly 30 years, and a move to Indianapolis, before the franchise found another franchise quarterback in the form of Peyton Manning who won SB XLI. In the trio of down decades the team tried to succeed with numerous bodies including Mike Pagel, Jack Trudeau, and Jeff George. Along the way Jim Harbaugh raised hopes a bit, and Bert Jones did have three good years (1975-1977), but it wasn't until Peyton's arrival that the team revisited championship-land.

It might be wise for Indianapolis to start making plans for life after Manning, and the recent Packer and Niner models might provide a decent map to follow, however difficult it may be for fans to imagine Manning in another uniform. Or the team could again become the dregs of the league and try to hit another home run with the top pick in the draft by dodging a falling (Ryan) Leaf.

Dallas had success with 1963 Heisman winner Roger Staubach, who they drafted in 1964, but didn't see debut until 1969 (at age 27) due to a Naval commitment. He went on to lead the Cowboy troops to victories in SB VI and SB XII before retiring in 1979. In the subsequent ten years the team was armed, but not so dangerous, with Danny White (he was also the punter), Gary Hogeboom (boom as in bomb), and Steve Pelluer, before Troy Aikman arrived and pulled a trifecta with wins in SB XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX (must've been for mature Romans only).

There will be some optimists who will claim that just a decade after Aikman retired, the team has found its next championship leader. Consider us pessimistic with regard to Tony Romo, so we'll keep the clock rolling at ten years AA, after Aikman.

The Dolphins won SB VII and SB VIII riding the slick arm of Bob Griese and, though they have yet to win another championship, they certainly found a worthy successor to Griese in the form of Dan Marino. They nearly pulled a back-to-back replacement coup because fans only had to endure three years of David Woodley before Dan's arrival.

Since Dan's retirement in 1999, the team hasn't been as fortunate unless you consider the likes of Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, the Chads (Pennington and Henne), Tyler Thigpen, or Cleo Lemon, to be anything more than average (at best). In our view Cleo wasn't the only lemon and we would advise the marine mammals to keep fishing for the next great one.

Terry Bradshaw, who would later sport a really bad toupee, brought to opposition to the rug as he led the Steelers to wins in SB IX, X, XIII, XIV (back-to-back two times). In the 22 years between his retirement and the arrival of Ben Roethlisberger, the winner of SB XL and XLIII, Steeler fans were in the pits due to the performances of Bubby Brister, Mike Tomczak, Tommy Maddox, Kordell Stewart, Mark Malone, and other not-so-notables. Neil O' Donnell did manage to lead the team to defeat in SB XXX, but did little else of note, and is widely regarded as a one-hit wonder.

In Oakland, the standard was set by Ken Stabler, who led the Silver and Black to their first title in SB XI. In the years since, Al Davis has mostly employed a strategy of bringing castoff quarterbacks on to the ship with decidedly mixed results (although some franchises would welcome such results). Jim Plunkett (a former Niner and Patriot) came to the franchise in 1978 and won SB XV and XVIII, which are the only other championships for the franchise, and would constitute, in our view, another back-to-back quarterback success.

Other notable retreads since the glory days of Stabler and Plunkett include Jay Schroeder, Jeff Hostetler, and Rich Gannon, who won a league MVP for the Raiders, his fourth team (he played in Minny, Wash, and KC), and led the team to a loss in SB XXXVII.

The strategy of signing an aging quarterback, with perhaps a good year or two left in his arm, hasn't worked as well lately. Daunte Culpepper, Kerry Collins, Jeff George, and Jason Campbell (incomplete grade), have mostly flopped. Al gave the youth movement a chance and bombed with overall top pick JaMarcus Russell. If Campbell isn't the answer, and the evidence is shaky at best, the search must continue.

San Francisco hit the mother lode with Joe Montana, who claimed gold in SB XVI, XIX, XXIII, and XXIV, and then managed to go back-to-back with another nugget in Steve Young, who came to the Niners after brief stints with the L.A. Express (USFL) and Tampa, and led the franchise to their fifth title in SB XXIX.

Since Young retired in 1999 the team hasn't quite prospected as successfully. Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay, Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill (yes, Lion fans, the same guy), Alex Smith (yes, Packer fans, the quarterback taken first overall the same year Rodgers fell into the Green and Gold lap), and now Troy Smith. In other words, the team that has only made the playoffs twice since Young got old, hasn't struck gold.

Before the arrival of column favorite Dan Snyder, the Redskins were actually a proud and successful franchise. Joe Theismann (XVII), Doug Williams (XXII), and Mark Rypien (XXVI), all were championship winners although, in our view, only Joe was a legitimate quarterback, but since there may be some doubt, we will acquiesce and start the search clock after the departure of Rypien, meaning that the Skins have now been searching for 17 years.

Since Rypien left in 1993, (he was a member of an astounding seven NFL teams after leaving Washington, single-handedly defining the term "journeyman") and before Snyder arrived in 1999, the team used forgettable folks such as Heath Shuler (now representing North Carolina in the House of Representatives), Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Green.

Since Snyder took over the situation, however improbable, has gotten worse, with the likes of Brad Johnson, Tony Banks, Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, and now Donovan McNabb, being given the leadership role from the joker in the ownership role.

Expect the fruitless pursuit of excellence to continue with many more not-so-excellent leaders arriving in D.C. (which is eerily similar to the political side of the town).

Of the 17 quarterback searches we've covered so far, by our extremely scientific and accurate count, it took an average of 13.5 years to find an adequate replacement. That includes six searches that took three years or less (we were generous with the Skins SB winners) and six that lasted more than two decades (some of which are still active).

Of the teams covered so far, four teams (Packers, Jets, Chiefs, Cowboys) may have the next great quarterback on their roster, four (Dolphins, Raiders, Niners, Redskins) are conducting an ongoing search, and two (Colts, Steelers) have their man.

Next week, in Part II, we will begin with the 1985 Champion Bears and end with a discussion of the two North teams that haven't won a Super Bowl.

SUPER BOWL TRIVIA: Name the one team, out of five, with a bird mascot that has won a Super Bowl (Answer in Musings).

WEAK FOURTEEN NFC NORTH PICKS (17-21-1 record)

Packers minus 6.5 at Lions ---- The Lions have lost an NFL-record 19 straight division games and we expect the new record to be 20.

Bears plus 2.5 versus Patriots ---- New England will be coming off of a short week and playing the role of road favorite. The Bears cover.

Giants minus 2 at Vikings ---- Victories over Washington and Buffalo have people talking up Minnesota. The talk ends.

WEAK FOURTEEN PICKS (10-13 record)

Chargers minus 7 versus KC ---- If the Chargers lose this game the division will in all likelihood belong to the Chiefs. The race remains open.

PEEVE OF THE WEEK

"The Moment of Truth."

That is the hilarious title of the report authored by the commission convened to do the job that Congress won't do, but is required to do by the Constitution. The moment of truth arrived years ago but the years of lying have conveniently hidden that fact. It is shameful, borderline criminal, to continue to ignore what will be the most predictable fiscal crisis in our history.

Breaking: We have found a problem that our faux leaders can actually solve! Government, cure thyself.

The self-inflicted wound is being addressed (better late than continuing to kick the can) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) praised Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles (commission leaders) for taking all aspects of the problem into consideration. "You put taboos on the table. Sacred cows are in your plan," he said.

Social Security is one of the aforementioned cows and it eats roughly $680 billion per year. It was addressed with a simple regimen of further burdening the youth of tomorrow with the problem of providing income for the seniors of today.

The defense cow gobbles down a whopping $660 billion and the sane recommendation was to put the bovine on long-overdue nutritional therapy.

Xavier (we are big fans of names beginning with "X") is mostly correct, except that he, and the commission, somehow missed the $745 billion sacred elephant at the feast. Any rational discussion of fiscal responsibility must include dietary recommendations aimed directly at the gut and duodenum known as Medicare and Medicaid.

When the all-you-can-eat buffet known as Obamacare opens for business in a couple of years the waist size of the already portly and prodigious pachyderm is going to become immeasurable. Literally. There is nobody who has any idea how much this plan will cost as the, sure to be incorrect, estimates predict a veritable feeding frenzy for the tusker.

Captain Obvious, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, who voted against the plan), saw the monstrous mastodon and, though he said that the report had "some really good policy things in it," added, "You cannot fix this problem without taking on health care."

We weren't surprised that the commission failed to get the support, from itself, needed to send the recommendations to Congress for a vote (11 voted in favor but 14 votes were needed).

The miniscule chance for a surprise success disappeared when class warmonger Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) trotted out the well-worn argument about the recommendations exacerbating the growing gap between rich and poor.

Wait, this just in, the text of the Constitution doesn't include a "fairness clause," in fact, the government has no authority to moderate the gap between classes of citizens because it is located in Washington D.C. and not, as widely believed, Sherwood Forest.

Could somebody please take the matches away from Jan before she burns herself?

In mocking us with a bit of political slapstick, hypocritical President Obama said, "If we want an America that can compete for the jobs of tomorrow, we simply cannot allow our nation to be dragged down by our debt."

We'll pause for a moment and allow you to quit laughing and catch your breath.

Okay, on with the hypercriticism of the hypocrites.

With the imbecilic arsonists clamoring about the minor points of the major recommendations, it is clear that there is no chance for government to solve the government-created fiasco. One rep sees a hydrant and lifts his or her leg in an effort to stake out their territory, while the other sees a hydrant and attempts to extinguish the smoldering document. One rep's pet (project) is another rep's allergy. Tomato/tomato, potato/potato, regardless of how they pronounce the menu, our leaders will not be un-strapping the feed bag any time soon and would just as soon call the whole thing off.

The only hope is that, in an effort to appall everyone and appease no one, lawmakers will simply mandate a 10 percent cut across the entire spectrum of government largesse. Every agency, every program, no pet projects, no personal quests, NO EXCEPTIONS.

The heads of all departments, agencies, etc. would be forced to submit their plan of action. Personnel cuts, project postponements or cancellations, wage freezes, benefit adjustments, any way to cut the administrative fat and overlap would have to be considered (the fact that they don't consider them now is appalling in its own right).

Private companies are forced to live within their means and make the difficult choices when times are tough. Families do likewise. The government should adopt this common sense approach since it can't seem to control itself.

The idea of such dramatic cuts may sound harsh but if you consider that if the federal spendthrifts cut by a total of 10 percent ($3.6 trillion "budget" cut by $360 billion) the deficit (the amount we spend in excess of the amount we confiscate from the populace, currently over $1.3 trillion) would still be nearly $1 trillion.

Even if we cut everything "government" by 10 percent, our nearly $14 trillion national debt (the total amount we owe) would still continue to rise rapidly and indefinitely.

Our 10 percent solution is simply a starting point to get people to trim the obviously ineffective and most inefficient from every nook and cranny of the behemoth. It would take an across-the-board cut of nearly 40 percent to move us solidly into surplus (be able to actually reduce the debt) territory. We don't expect that to happen, heck, we don't expect even a 5 percent cut; we are simply illustrating the obscene nature of spending in Washington and the absurd notion that these hacks are going to somehow come to an agreement that legitimately addresses the looming catastrophe.

The theater of the absurd that is our beloved government is putting on a performance for the ages. All Americans should take note. The motley cast of characters is fully aware of the fiscal Armageddon rapidly approaching and yet they continue to posture and (sacred) cowtow, err kowtow, to anyone who will spare a dime (in campaign contributions), while ignoring the most obvious problem requiring a government solution. The curtain on this performance needs to come down now; the show must NOT go on!

INDISCRIMINATE MUSINGS

We'll cover the bowls in more detail next week but we must congratulate the Big Ten for getting eight teams into the bowls (though it is a bit sad and dilutive that so many "worthy" teams make it). We must also take exception with the schedule that will make for many difficult viewing choices for fans of the conference.

The Iowa/Missouri game won't be an issue because it takes place at 10 p.m. on Dec. 28.

Neither will Illinois versus Baylor, which happens on Dec. 29 at 6 p.m.

Then comes an onslaught of five conference games on Jan. 1, when Northwestern will play Texas Tech at noon, Penn State versus Florida and Michigan State versus Alabama will both begin at 1pm, Michigan and Mississippi State will kick off thirty minutes later (1:30 p.m.), and finally, the finale, featuring Wisconsin and TCU, is set for 5 p.m.

Not exactly ideal scheduling for fans, especially those in Michigan who will have to choose between watching State or UM. With four conference teams playing games that will overlap, we'll be doing our viewing at an establishment with multiple televisions.

The final conference game will feature the Buckeyes and Razorbacks in the Sugar Bowl on Jan.y 4 at 8:30pm.

TRIVIA ANSWER: The Ravens won SB XXXV with Trent Dilfer at the helm (more in Part II of the column next week) while the Eagles, Cardinals, Falcons, and Seahawks have been nesting patiently.

Another question: Which one of the 11 NFL teams located west of the Mississippi has a winning record (answer later)?

Sadly, the actress, Billie Mae Richards, who voiced Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, died recently in Canada.

No word on whether socialized medicine was the cause.

The National Enquirer claims that Tom Brady's car was seen outside the Leonard Hair Transplant Association and a source told them that, "Tom wants help with his thinning hair and bald spot."

It seems like a far better alternative to the toupee once donned by Bradshaw.

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which means that Wednesday is the anniversary of the last officially declared war in U.S. history, World War II.

In fact, there have only been five formally declared wars in the existence of our nation. The first was the War of 1812, then the Mexican-American War, followed by the Spanish-American War, and the two world wars.

Is that a document or chestnuts that we smell roasting on an open fire?

ANSWER: Kansas City is the only NFL team with a winning record that plays home games west of the Mississippi.

New Orleans was not counted because the Superdome is east of the River while the Vikings were counted because the Metrodome lies to the west.

The other teams are Dallas, Houston, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis and Denver.

Speaking of the debuilders, Denver owner Pat Bowlen said to Fanhouse last Monday, "I am not interested in making a coaching change. I'm very happy with Josh. Josh is doing a good job."

We're not sure what part of the debuilding process made the owner think that, "Josh is doing a good job."

He was then fired Monday.

Perhaps it was McDolt jettisoning the potential franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler, or super wideout, Brandon Marshall (or both).

Maybe it was McDaft's decision to trade Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn (for which the Broncos still owe a pair of sixth-round picks to the Browns).

Aside: Stop for a moment and consider how the Denver offense featuring the trio of Cutler, Marshall, and Hillis would have performed.

Without McDope running the show the aforementioned trio could have been joined by tight end Tony Scheffler who caught 89 passes (from Cutler) in the two seasons before McDimwit arrived.

Maybe Bowlen was ecstatic about McDraft's move to dump a first-round pick for the right to select Alphonso Smith. Or perhaps it was McDunce's decision to unload Smith for a can of beans less than a year later.

Jumping at the chance to send a fourth-round choice to NE for Laurence Maroney (and a sixth-round pick) was an example debuilding at its best. Laurence hasn't carried the ball in over six games while he languishes deep in the murky depths of the depth chart. Trading value for nothing was clearly the McDingbat way.

Was the owner holding out hope that the savior Tim Tebow will be the savior of the franchise and savior of McDip?

Bowlen could have been reminiscing about the 6-0 start last season. You know, the one that had prisoner-of-the-moment types claiming that Denver clearly "won" the Cutler trade and that Kyle Orton was a far superior player to Cutler. We were obviously shocked by the early success (we picked the team to win one game last season), but remained steadfast in our belief in the theory, and our low expectations were finally met as the team went 2-8 the rest of the way and 3-9 so far this year.

In a column last week, Woody Paige of the Denver Post wrote that he was approached by a lifelong Bronco fan who said, "I think Jay Cutler got it before the rest of us did."

Mark Kiszla, also of the Denver Post, called McDenigrated the "most reviled man" in the city.

An anonymous source told Michael Silver of Yahoo! that, "If he (McDenounced) treated people right, everybody'd just keep their mouths shut. But when you treat people like a piece of [expletive], this is what happens."

As our anonymous sources predicted last week, the expletive indeed hit the fan, and McDunderhead has to be smelling rats and staying upwind.

And with regard to the video cheaters, John Czarnecki of Fox reported that his sources had specific examples of plays that the Rams only worked on the week before the game (Super Bowl XXXVI) and yet the "Patriots shifted their defense, like they knew exactly what was coming. I believe they filmed our Super Bowl practices. I don't know how they did it, but they did it. No coach is that good."

Well, we know one coach that isn't that good. Much to the consternation of the other members of the AFC West, Bowlen came out of the thin air and McDischarged McDebuilder from McDenver.

The NCAA has ruled Cam Newton eligible to play because his dad was soliciting bribes without his knowledge. Poor Cam, always be a bribesmaid never a bribe.

Yes, the father is a father (pastor) who allegedly (smoke/fire) tried to sell his son's quarterbacking services to the highest bidder which is why we can't understand why an Alabama football staffer, and stadium DJ, was fired for playing the Steve Miller hit, "Take the Money and Run", and the Dusty Springfield classic, "Son of a Preacher Man", when Cam took the field in the Tigers recent game against the Crimson Tide.

Instead of firing the creative thinker, we would have offered him a promotion for the impressive tune taunt. Cam is an adult with no presumption of innocence in the court of public opinion (especially in the Iron Bowl), and when you consider that he actually is the son of a preacher man who literally tried to take the Mississippi State money in exchange for his son to run (and pass) for the Bulldogs, the joke is quite humorous. In fact, it is our latest entry in the "we wish we'd thought of that" department.

In the insane world of political correctness, especially prevalent on college campuses, the thin-skinned folks who are too easily offended, by what shouldn't be offensive, often consider good fun to be bad taste and a fireable offense.

If there was anyone who should have been fired perhaps it should have been the coaches who allowed a 24-0 lead to turn into an embarrassing home loss.

At least, like George Costanza, the terminated employee went out on a high note.

In reaction to the NCAA ruling on Newton, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the organization, "missed an opportunity to stand up," and added, "There ought to be accountability, there ought to be consequences."

Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott said he had heard from numerous universities in his conference that had concerns about the decision (hmm, USC?).

Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, said, "We recognize that many people are outraged at the notion that a parent or anyone else could 'shop around' a student-athlete and there would possibly not be repercussions on the student-athlete's eligibility."

Precedent set, so let it be known that we are now soliciting offers for the five-year-old to attend the school that offers the most illegal legal tender. Of course, we are doing this without his knowledge (since he can't read) and therefore he won't face any consequences.

The 2010 UM football team had its 90th annual football bust last Thursday in Livonia and what was supposed to be an elegant event honoring the team turned into an inelegant and clumsy affair.

And we couldn't be more enthused.

As he made his remarks, Rich Rodriquez concluded the 12-step gala by saying, "My name is Rich Rodriguez" (cue the chorus, "hi Rich"). "I'm honored to be the football coach at Michigan. I hope you realize I want to be a Michigan man."

Note to Rich: Most "Michigan men" are currently unemployed.

As he was fighting back tears he recited lyrics from the Josh Groban hit song (sponsored by Otis?), "You Raise Me Up", and said, "It may seem kind of cheesy, sappy, what have you," and the maladroit "Michigan man" was just getting started.

He then played the entire tune for the Laurel Manor crowd and grabbed his wife's hand (we didn't include Rita's name to protect the innocent), and also the hand of broadcaster Frank Beckmann, in a sort of odd bonding moment. It doesn't end there, even though at this point very few folks could explain the transformation from football celebration to the revival-style church service that they were witnessing.

Rich then gracelessly took the gripped hands and raised them overhead, started swaying rhythmically, and according to Pete Bigelow of Annarbor.com, "Several seconds passed before others on the dais, including (athletic director Dave) Brandon and the entire Wolverines team, followed suit."

AWKWARD!

How could anyone feel comfortable in that setting? We got a shiver down our spine just reading the bizarre account of the evening.

If an Alabama employee can get fired for playing such quality music as Steve Miller and Dusty Springfield then surely blaring "You Raise Me Up" at a football pageant while embarrassing your boss, your wife, your team, and everyone is attendence, must be deserving of job loss (and possibly divorce).

Rich reportedly will get to coach the team for one more game and during the shindig there was speculation that the destination may have been the Insight Bowl in Arizona. After emcee Beckmann said that the team could be headed west, Brandon spoke up and said, "I think we might be going in a different direction."

For a brief moment many people were ready to erupt in applause, well, that is, until they realized the "different direction" was Florida versus Arizona rather than being replacement for the buffoon known as coach.

Imagine the scene if fan favorite for the job, Jim Harbaugh, had shown up to join some his 1985 teammates as was originally scheduled.

We just did, and for some reason we couldn't envision it being any more awkward and embarassing than it was.

Brandon was formerly the CEO of Domino's Pizza. The company that recently admitted to the nation, via a slew of ads, that their pizza was so awful they were changing the recipe. We wonder if Dave sees any similarities with his new position.

Last straw alert: Matt Millen said that Rich deserves another year.

Adding insult to awkward banquet moments, comes word that the nation's No. 1 back (Rivals.com), Dee Hart, may be reconsidering his options and looking at schools other than Michigan (who he verbally committed to in October). Can you blame him?

We mentioned Lee Harvey (Stripes) last week and this week we read a report that the "real" Lee Harvey's (Oswald) coffin would be put up for sale in some sort of morbid auction. The body won't be included. This is the original coffin which was exhumed back in 1981 when black helicopters were circling. Oswald was buried in a new, presumably a more spacious and comfortable model, the second time.

The jerseys honoring the 1929 Packer championship team did not lead fans into depression (unless they were rooting for the Niners). In fact, we think that the navy and yellow apparel would make a fine Christmas gift for young and old alike (hint).

We find it odd how the NFL "investigation" into the allegations surrounding the video cheating wrapped so quickly, when there seemed to be a lot more to the story, while the "fast tracked" Jenn Sterger affair is still lingering when it really seemed quite simple.

In gambling news, the Simpson's Thanksgiving weekend episode Moe told Bart that it is possible to bet on anything that moves.

"Even the Detroit Lions?" asked Bart.

Moe responded, "Hey, lay off Detroit. Them people is living in Mad Max times."

In Ann Arbor the icy relationship between Rich Rod and the legions of maizers is manifesting itself in the form of a rink in the middle of Michigan Stadium. On Dec. 11, UM and Michigan State will face off (literally) on the big slab in a contest being dubbed the "Big Chill at the Big House".

Bob McGinn, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported on little-known Packer player Nick McDonald last week and quoted Mike McCarthy as saying, "The kid's going to be a good player. I think Nick McDonald will be on my team for a long time. I think that kid's coming fast."

We only mention this because Nick started at left tackle for the 2009 Grand Valley State team. Many of you will remember that GVSU was ranked numero uno on October 30, 2010, when they came to town and lost to MTU (which we refer to as "empty U" when discussing hockey), in one of the more entertaining games played on local soil, 20-17.

Other players who recently visited the local confines are also making a NFL name for themselves. Jared Veldheer, a rookie third-round pick from Hillsdale, is the starting left tackle (most important O-line position) for the Raiders. Yes, the same Raider team who just ran for 251 yards in San Diego.

Christopher Ivory, undrafted free agent from Tiffin, ran for 117 yards on only 15 carries (7.8 avg.) and scored two touchdowns as the Saints continued to march.

For those wondering, Tech lost to Hillsdale on the road this year and didn't play Tiffin.

In the honeymoon that was 2009, and just after the 21-10 loss to Ohio State, AnnArbor.com asked readers if Rich deserved more time as UM head man and 72 percent said he did.

We consider that to be an astonishing amount of support considering his track record during his first two years.

AnnArbor.com asked the same question again last week and, when we checked on Sunday morning, with 8,230 votes cast, there were 55 percent answering "no" and 36 percent supporting with "yes".

For some reason 7 percent of the people who voted decided that they "weren't sure", which we consider to be the worst way to express an opinion via an opinion poll.

Finally, Bret Bielema was on ESPN's First Take last week and Jay Crawford began the interview with the Badger coach by congratulating him on the fine season with the caveat that, "It's a little hard for me to say that as a Buckeye."

Uh, Jay, you're not a Buckeye, you are a Bowling Green Falcon.

The Festival of Lights comes to an end at sunset on December 9, Happy Hanukkah!

Any stuff can be sent to mjalkanen@live.com.

Gotta go, it's time to grab the cat's paws and sway to the soothing rhythms of Kenny G.

 
 

 

I am looking for:
in:
News, Blogs & Events Web