Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spraying to all fields

Thoughts swirling in my brain this fine day....

  • The Charlotte Bobcats have to be considered as a playoff contender. Attention Charlotte NBA fans: there is a team, and they are playing quite well. The attendance numbers are horrid, but those that are showing up are watching a team that continues to play hard (Bernie Bickerstaff's trademark with less talented squads), they score points, and they have fun. They deserve a better audience, and with games on Friday and Saturday against San Antonio and Phoenix, here's hoping they get more eyeballs watching them.
  • Stephen Jackson=BEAST. Seriously, Jack? 15 of 22 from the floor, a career and franchise best 43 against Houston? Not that Houston is a legit title contender, but they aren't the Nets. Rockets were 5 games over .500 this season, and that's without Tracy McGrady AND Yao Ming. They made everything they shot in the first half, yet 13 was their largest lead. Jackson refused to let the Bobcats lose. Strong stuff.
  • The Carolina Panthers are doing a nice job of staying out of the headlines, however, it is making some in the fan base a little edgy. Fans are wanting to know what is going on with their Head Coach, the franchise player, and more. Nothing is coming from Bank of America Stadium, and, in the big picture, that's probably a good thing.
  • Speaking of football....Pete Carroll goes from USC to Seattle, then Lane Kiffin (after 1 year at Tennessee) heads to USC? I can see why Carroll took off. No, I don't believe for a second that Carroll jumping at the Seattle gig was purely for getting back into the NFL. Not for one second. An NCAA investigation of the Trojan program is winding down. Hard to punish the guy when he's not there--that's just my opinion. Kiffin leaving Tennessee is completely strange. One year in the SEC (arguably college football's best conference), and he's the hot coaching prospect USC is looking for? Hey, good luck to one and all. I'll just sit here scratching my head.
  • Speaking of head scratchers, Appalachian State released their football schedule for 2010. The usual suspects from the Southern Conference care there, along with non-conference home sweeteners Jacksonville and North Carolina Central. The "huh," moment comes at the end. Nov. 20, at Gainesville, vs. Florida. What? There are times to play Florida if you are App State. That time is never the season finale. If the Mountaineers are among the tops in the SoCon in 2010, and are contending for a playoff spot, do you want to head into the Swamp before that last game, and possibly get some of your top players banged up? It's one thing to open the season there, as there is plenty of time to work through the rough spots. I am guessing there is a large check attached to App State heading to Florida in November (a check being scratched by the Gators), so I guess that plays into it. Still, it's a risk for a program that has become a fixture in the NCAA playoffs.
  • Mark McGwire came clean-he used steroids. OK, we knew that. He says he used them to help his body heal, and not for performance enhancement. News flash: an athlete taking something to heal the body faster is, in fact, enhancing their performance. Thing about McGwire's admission-he sounded genuinely hurt, and remorseful. I hope he ends up being the example of what not to do, because after the cheering fades, you have to live with your conscience.
  • World Cup soccer isn't coming to Charlotte after all. The Queen City did not make the cut of possible host site, should the United States play host to soccer's biggest tournament. I'm not surprised by that, as Charlotte just isn't that kind of city yet. More shocking was that Chicago was left out, and Nashville is still in the running. I am biased, being a Chicagoan, but the Windy City HOSTED GAMES back in 1994. Been there, done that. Strangeness continues.

Getting out of the sports world for a second to lend my support (not that he needs it), to Conan O'Brien. Talk about a guy getting a raw deal. All he ever did was honor his contract. He didn't ask for this swirl of controversy, but he's handling it wonderfully. O'Brien's status as host of "The Tonight Show" is so far up in the air, it has a nosebleed. NBC is scrapping Jay Leno's 10pm show (a failed experiment), and bringing Leno back to 11:30 (as it stands now). NBC also says they want Conan to be a part of that late night lineup, but O'Brien wants none of it.

Good for him.

Conan is being treated like a rag doll here, which is to say nothing of what Carson Daly is getting (Daly hosts the really REALLY late show from 1:30-2:00 am). Jimmy Fallon's gig at 12:30 (O'Brien's old haunts), appears to be the only show untouched at the moment.

I liked Leno at 11:30, but as my wife and I were talking about, we watched Leno to see the end of his run. We gave Conan a try, and he's done well in my house. He's a ratings winner. Taking him out of the mix, would send my remote back to David Letterman (sorry Dave, but Conan has my attention--just keep rockin').

Michael Waltrip once said you can't gripe about a problem without having a solution, and I have one. Leno was the one that wanted out of the 11:30 slot to begin with (O'Brien's move to late night was the result of Leno's decision years ago). They say you can't go back. Don't allow him to. Find something else for Leno to do. Holiday specials. Telethons. Movies. Answer phones. Anything. Just not 11:30.

Jimmy Kimmel was dressed as Leno on his show Tuesday night (it was a scream, by the way), a sign that the industry is getting behind O'Brien. NBC and Leno should do the one thing to make it all better--leave Conan where he is.

Mike Solarte

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