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Live @ Pilot Lenior City
Three Days of Pilot Sports Fantasy Left!
Posted: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007, 9:05 AM • Permalink
We have three more shows from area Pilots this week. You still have time to get out and register at your local area Pilot Food Mart. Somebody's going to win season tix to UT hoops for the SEC Schedule. These are downstairs seats that catch over a grand on the street for these seats for the season! Not a bad prize. Now to the news of the day.

Happy New Year:
Here are my thoughts on yesterdays game. Fouled Up. Unfocused. Unprepared.
Now Onto Some good stuff I found for you on the net from C-Low (who joins today) and more!

Back To The Future:
No Top 25? Tennessee's loss Monday could mean that the Vols will finish out of the final Top 25 polls.

The Vols were 17th nationally in the Associated Press poll and 18th in the coaches' poll entering the game.

If they do fall out of the Top 25, it would mark the second straight year that they ended the season unranked. That hasn't happened since they went eight straight years without being ranked in the final polls from 1975-82.

Don’t Blame Me is 7-7 in Bowl Games:
Nice marks: Paterno improved his bowl record to 22-10-1, a winning percentage of 68.2 percent. He is the all-time leader in bowl wins and appearances. His winning percentage ranks fourth-best among coaches with at least 11 bowl games.

Penn State moved to 25-12-2 all-time in postseason bowls. The Nittany Lions under Paterno are 7-4 against SEC teams in bowl games, and Penn State is 3-2 all-time against Tennessee.

Fulmer Not Exactly Taking Blame:
No answers on offense

It was one of the worst all-around offensive efforts for the Vols, who turned it over three times and were shut out in the second half.

"I don't think we were that rusty on offense. I just thought we were stupid," said Ainge, 25-of-37 for 267 yards and an interception.

UT clearly needed senior receiver Bret Smith, ruled academically ineligible last week, and well-covered junior Robert Meachem.

"Erik made a couple of really undisciplined plays, to be honest with you," said Coach Phillip Fulmer, now 7-7 in bowls. "Again, they're young and learning and not professionals, and even professionals make mistakes."

"We've got to get back to using the system as it's meant to be and not try to force balls to individuals perhaps or make plays that aren't really designed to be made."

Let’s Get Physical!
Penn State tailback Tony Hunt, the Outback Bowl MVP, got most of his shots in during the game on his way to 158 rushing yards on 31 carries. But he also took aim at the Vols' defense after the game.

"I didn't really think they were that physical of a team," Hunt said. "They really boast and brag about their speed, and I think we brought something to the table that they really couldn't handle."

Penn State receiver Deon Butler was even more pointed.

"I know their defensive backs didn't want to tackle him, and I don't even think their linebackers did," Butler said. "Their linebackers were talking trash to Tony after tackling him 8 yards down the field."

The Vols allowed an average of 146.7 rushing yards per game this season, the most since Chavis took over as defensive coordinator in 1995.

"I'm not saying that we were completely out of our element, but we've got to get back to where we were here at Tennessee," Chavis said. "Some of it's mental, and some of it's physical."

Chavis said a big part of getting more physical would be done on the recruiting trail.

"The house is not completely empty," Chavis said. "Some of it's going to be done by recruiting. Some of them are going to move up, or someone else is going to move in.

"That's just where we are. We've got to get some depth. We didn't have the depth we normally have."

Feel For Foster:
Arian Foster raised his head slowly and solemnly faced the bank of cameras and microphones.

Over and over, he recounted the play that turned the game around Monday in Tennessee's 20-10 Outback Bowl loss to Penn State.

"I felt like the ball hit the ground first, but that's just the breaks," said Foster, the Vols' sophomore tailback. "There's no excuse. I shouldn't have put the ball on the ground in the first place."

Foster's fumble with Tennessee driving for the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter is a play he'll have to live with all offseason. He was buried by Penn State players and couldn't see Tony Davis running down the field for a game-changing 88-yard touchdown.

It wasn't his only fumble, either. He had an errant pitch to Jayson Swain on a reverse in the second quarter.

Otherwise, it was Foster's best game of the season after being slowed by an ankle injury in the second week. He finished with 65 rushing yards and also caught a pass for 13 yards.

"It's tough, but the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away," Foster said. "So you just have to always feel blessed.

"As you grow into a man, you start taking responsibility for your actions. I feel like we lost because of what I did. I feel like it could have been prevented. I was trying to make a play, but there's no excuse for what happened. You just suck it up and be a man about it."

Foster's teammates said he was taking too much blame.

"That one play didn't lose the game for us," redshirt freshman tailback LaMarcus Coker said. "We lost that game as a team. Arian didn't lose that game by himself."

It's been a sobering season all the way around for Foster, who also was arrested after the LSU game for his part in a disturbance at a Knoxville night club.

But like he did then, Foster faced the media. He stayed Monday in the postgame interviews longer than any other UT player, about 30 minutes, and didn't duck the tough questions.

"You don't want to forget about it," he said. "You want to learn from it. It's just another stepping stone, another roadblock in my life. I feel like God has a plan for me and everyone on this team. All you can do is move forward."

Where Was Coker?
Despite the signature run, Coker had only four carries in the second half for minus-6 yards.

"We had to make more adjustments and started throwing the ball more. I'm not disappointed at all about how many carries and touches I got,'' Coker said. "Arian (Foster) got into his groove and was making 5 and 6 yards. When a player gets a hot hand, you got to leave him in there.''

As fast as Coker is, he has not been fast enough to run out of Coach Phillip Fulmer's doghouse. Fulmer suspended Coker for the final week of bowl practice in Knoxville.

"It was some things Coach Fulmer had me doing, and I was slow doing them. I'm not going to pinpoint what it was,'' Coker said after the game. "People can think what they want to think, but the fact of the matter is that I made the trip and I played. It's all behind me.''

Coker has shown an ability to run around and by defenders. But the 5-foot-11, 205-pound redshirt freshman needs more than blazing speed to become the complete back the Vols are counting on him to be.

"LaMarcus is not quite as physical as he needs to be quite yet, as far as some of the protection things and a lot of what we were doing at the line against their pressure looks,'' Fulmer said, explaining the sparse number of touches Coker had.

"And,'' Fulmer added, "I thought Arian was doing well.''

Boise State: Best Story of ’07!!!
No. 9 Boise State wins Fiesta Bowl in OT
Boise State proved it belonged in the BCS and started another lively college football debate. The ninth-ranked Broncos completed a perfect season with an exhilarating 43-42 overtime victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night, leaving Boise State and top-ranked Ohio State as the only teams with perfect records.

The Buckeyes will play No. 2 Florida for the BCS national championship on the same field Jan. 8, but the Broncos (13-0) believe they belong in that game.

And why not? Boise State showed plenty of heart and resilience in edging the Sooners (11-3) in one of the more amazing games in recent memory.

"We went 13-0 and beat everyone on our schedule," said quarterback Jared Zabransky, selected the offensive MVP after completing 19 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. "We deserve a chance at the national title."

The Sooners endorse the Broncos.

"They should be up there playing for a national championship - 12-0, finish the season 13-0 - and hopefully they get some more looks in the future," linebacker Zach Latimer said. "At least a chance. That's all you ask for is a chance. You never know what can happen."

If the Fiesta Bowl was any indication, it would certainly be fun to watch.

In one of the most dramatic finishes in BCS history, the Sooners and the Broncos combined for 22 points in the final 86 seconds of regulation.

Boise State blew an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, then twice rallied from seven-point deficits.

"Yeah, another day at the office, huh?" said Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who remains undefeated as a head coach.

The Broncos appeared to be finished when Oklahoma cornerback Marcus Walker intercepted Zabransky's pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners ahead 35-28 with 1:02 remaining.

"It would have been easy to give up on us with a minute left, but we had a lot of magic left," Zabransky said.

The magic came on a stunning 50-yard touchdown play on fourth-and-18 in the final seconds of regulation. Zabransky hit Drisan James at Oklahoma's 35, and James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone with 7 seconds to play.

Zabransky said the Broncos practice that play almost every day in practice but that it rarely works against the Boise State defense, which usually knows when it's coming.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners were looking for a trick play. But he said the Broncos ran this one to perfection.

"I want to give them credit because I thought they executed it in a really good way," Stoops said. "It's just the circumstances, the way it happened. They hit it perfect."

That play merely set the stage for more Broncos magic.

Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson opened the overtime with a 25-yard touchdown run. It may have been the final college play for Peterson, who ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since breaking his left collarbone Oct. 14.

The Broncos answered with Vinny Perretta's fourth-down touchdown pass to Derek Schouman. With Boise State down by a point, Petersen decided to go for the victory.

On the decisive play, Zabransky looked at three wide receivers to his right, then handed the ball behind his back to tailback Ian Johnson, who raced untouched into the end zone.

"We were trying to get to it earlier, to tell you the truth," Petersen said. "We needed a play like that to get it over with."

Moments after Johnson ended the game, he asked his girlfriend, Broncos cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, to marry him.

"There was no better time," Johnson said.

Johnson carried 23 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Drisan James caught three passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Oklahoma's Paul Thompson threw a career-high three interceptions. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

The wild finish came after Boise State dominated the first 40 minutes, making it clear that the Western Athletic Conference champion deserved a BCS berth.

Oklahoma didn't go quietly. The Sooners spotted the Broncos an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, then rallied to take a 35-28 lead on Walker's interception.

That came one play after the Sooners tied it at 28. They Sooners cut it to 28-26 on a 5-yard pass from Paul Thompson to Quentin Chaney with 1:26 to play. After penalties on their first two 2-point conversion tries, the Sooners converted when Thompson hit Juaquin Iglesias.

Thompson completed five passes for 59 yards on the tying drive and also ran for 8 yards.

The Broncos stunned the Sooners with two quick touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

The first came on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Zabransky to James, a Phoenix product. Zabransky froze the defense with a play-fake to Johnson, then fired to James, who was all alone 10 yards behind cornerback Walker.

On the next series, defensive end Mike T. Williams sacked Sooners quarterback Paul Thompson, who fumbled. Williams recovered at Oklahoma's 9.

Two plays later, Johnson scored from 2 yards out to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter.

The Sooners cut the lead to 14-10 before Zabransky and James connected again shortly before the half. But the best was yet to come.

"It could be argued as the best game ever," Zabransky said.

And it could be argued that Boise State was in the wrong BCS game.

"I think we went out and proved the nation wrong," said Boise State safety Marty Tadman, who had two interceptions, one of which he returned 27 yards for a touchdown. "I'm tired of people doubting us."

UGA's Johnson, Ware opt for draft
Charles Johnson is leaving. Danny Ware is following him. And Paul Oliver might be next.

Two days after a stirring, season-ending win over Virginia Tech came the downer for Georgia's football program: Johnson, a star defensive end, and Ware, a reserve running back, announced Monday night they'll pass up their senior seasons and enter April's NFL draft.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said he expects to find out starting cornerback Paul Oliver's plans sometime this week. Oliver also is considering an early jump to the pros.

As a junior, Hawkinsville's Johnson led Georgia in sacks (9 1/2, including two in Saturday's Chick-fil-A Bowl), tackles for loss (19) and passes broken up (10).

Ware, a Rockmart product who shared carries with Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown, finished second on the team in rushing, taking 75 handoffs 302 yards and scoring three times.

Meaningless Bowl Game Not Meaningless to Mason:
As for Mason, Minnesota hadn't had a winning season in seven years when Mason arrived from Kansas after the 1996 season. And we give the guy credit for getting Minnesota to seven bowls in 10 seasons -- seasons in which his average record was 6.4 victories and 5.7 losses, by the way.

But his Golden Gophers had a winning league record just twice in those 10 years, going 5-3 in 1999 and in 2003. And in addition, how much confidence did Mason engender when he said this on Sept. 4 of last year: "We're still in the developmental stages of this program."

"Developmental stages" in his 10th season?

Coincidentally, Mason's firing came a year to the day that he signed a four-year contract extension that took him through the end of the 2010 season. He was getting $1.65 million per season.

It was a head-scratcher at the time for a couple of reasons: Who, exactly, was coming after Mason? And $1.65 million for going 6-5?

Mason had complained for years about Minnesota's facilities, including not having an on-campus stadium. Ironically, an on-campus stadium will open in 2009.

The bottom line: $1.65 million a season should get you more than six or seven victories -- and you'd think a coach making that kind of coin could hold onto a 31-point lead midway through the third quarter.

Note to Saban: It's your fault rumors persisted
Nick Saban is gone. Taking his Panama hat to Tuscaloosa. Taking on the ghost of Bear Bryant. Taking $40 million from the University of Alabama. Taking all of his publicly professed commitment to Miami and tossing it into the Tide.

These were the impressions Miami's coach-for-now created and invited Monday with a stunning evasiveness that inflamed all of the speculation, instead of a simple declarative that could have ended it for good. His season-ending news conference at Dolphins headquarters worked like a seminar we'd call, How Not to Kill a Rumor. If this was an exercise in public relations, Nick could only have mishandled it more spectacularly by having O.J. Simpson introduce him and vouch for his truthfulness.

Last week, Saban said flatly, ``I'm not going to be the Alabama coach.''

On Monday, the scurrilous, persistent Tide came at Nick with a mountain of money. With an official offer.

Suddenly, Nick is not saying anything flatly anymore.

Suddenly, he is dodging and tap dancing, taking great umbrage at reporters who would dare do their job by even asking the question.

Dear Nick: Here is what you could have said Monday. You could have said, ``I am flattered by Alabama's interest in me, but it is not mutual. I have instructed my agent to decline all overtures or offers. I am not leaving the Dolphins. Period.''

Instead, you said anything but.

You might also have been forthright by admitting, ``While I have no plans to leave Miami, I owe it to my family to at least consider an offer so lucrative relative to financial stability. Can you blame me?''

Instead, you put yourself squarely in between Monday by implying you were committed to Miami but sidestepping several chances to make that clear.


So don't you dare get all offended by the assumptions and doubts you created.

Saban might yet end up staying, of course, and Dolfans should hope so, because Alabama's ardor accurately reflects a quality coach, despite the unconvincing 15-17 record in his first two pro seasons. He might stay for the personal challenge to succeed in the NFL. He might stay because he feels loyalty or thinks it's right. He might stay because owner Wayne Huizenga convince$ $aban to $tay.

Meantime, the coach cannot blame the media or fans for sincerely wondering whether he will. That's on him.

He began Monday's news conference with a futile preemptive strike by saying this would be about the Dolphins only, ''not about any individual whatever is out there.'' How cute of Nick to believe he could manage the news so neatly. It was a little like President Bush advising assembled White House reporters he would prefer no questions on Iraq, thank you.

Came a question asking Saban directly if he expected to be coach here next year.

''I'm not talking about any of that stuff,'' he huffed. ``And I'd appreciate the courtesy of it not being asked.''

(Courtesy? How about the courtesy of answering a a fair question fairly? How about the courtesy of fulfilling the three remaining years on your contract?)

Came another question persisting whether Saban was willing to entertain an offer from Alabama.

Harvey Greene, the Dolphins' vice president in charge of being a buffer between the media and coach, interrupted the question by admonishing the reporter to not ''hijack'' the news conference.

Came another question, later, asking Saban when he thought it would be appropriate to ask about Alabama's interest.

''You know, I'm not sure,'' he said. ``When is it appropriate for me to have a chance to get home to my wife and talk to her?''

Came an observation that Saban was giving an impression he might consider Alabama's overtures.

''Why would I give you that impression?'' he said. ``That's your impression.''

Came a question noting a report indicating Saban would meet with Alabama officials this week.


''I don't know about that,'' he said -- after which the contentious, uncomfortably entertaining news conference quickly was ended.

At one point, Saban had said: ``Seems like something's missing in life.''

A straightforward coach.
Bryant Gumble’s Lack of Football Knowledge Exposed:
I actually heard this myself:
In separate but identical circumstances, Gumbel showed a startling lack of knowledge about elementary football.

Late in the third quarter, Eli Manning completed a 10-yard pass to David Tyree, but it was not enough for a Giants first down on third-and-17.

Gumbel said: “Complete to David Tyree, but he’s going to be short of the first-down marker and the Giants are going to give it up on downs.”

Out came Jeff Feagles, who punted the ball 42 yards on fourth down.

Gumbel did not correct himself.

Nor did Collinsworth.

It is football 101 that when one team surrenders the ball on downs, after an unsuccessful fourth-down play, the other starts at the yard line where the previous series ended.

But with 2 minutes 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Gumbel displayed the hole in his knowledge again when Tiki Barber ran for 7 yards on third-and-10.

Gumbel said: “He’s going to be short of a first down and the Redskins will take over on downs,”

And out came Feagles again to punt.

And Gumbel did not correct himself.

If his producer, Mark Loomis, tried to help, we don’t know.

From Phil Mushnick Of New York Post:
Suspended NBA superstar, Syracuse-enrolled and Baltimore-raised Carmelo Anthony, in what remains an under-played story, had a supporting role in a homemade rap video, made two years ago, that found him side-by-side with his pal, a gang leader.

In that video, entitled "Stop Snitchin' " and distributed throughout Baltimore's toughest neighborhoods, Anthony's pal issued a warning: If you cooperate with the law, you will be shot dead.

That video inspired the creation of nationwide urban wear - "Stop Snitchin'" T-shirts - a stop sign with bullet holes in it.

Happy New Year

'Over-paid, Out-manned & Under-prepared.'

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